Sep 5 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 43

George R R Martin A Song of Ice and Fire Read Storm of SwordsWelcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 43 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 69 (“Jon”). This one’s a little short today, as I am currently fighting off a delightful cold/allergy combo attack thingy which is making staring at a monitor screen for longer than ten minutes at a stretch the exact opposite of possible. Bleargh.

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

Chapter 69: Jon

What Happens
Owen wakes Jon atop the Wall, and says he dreamed that King Robert came to rescue them. They are all utterly exhausted from fighting Mance’s forces day after day, though Pyp tries to keep their spirits up with gallows humor. Jon sees through the looking glass that the turtle the wildlings have been building is almost finished. Jon thinks of how low their supplies are, and how tired his men are, and of the news of Bowen Marsh’s Pyrrhic victory at the Shadow Tower. The remaining Mole’s Town residents have fled, and Jon wonders if maybe they hadn’t had the right idea; he knows that they stand no chance if they don’t prevent the turtle from bringing down the gate.

As the turtle approaches the Wall, Jon gives orders to try and burn it, but the wet hides covering it protect from the fire arrows they send down; the scorpion bolts and catapult stones cannot penetrate or crush it, and it is out of range of the remaining trebuchet. Jon calls for their last resort: barrels filled with rocks and frozen water, to act as improvised boulders to roll down on the turtle and hopefully crush it. The tactic works, and the wildlings retreat from the ruined turtle. The brothers are joyous, but Jon knows the enemy will only come again.

Jon goes to his chambers to sleep, and wakes to see four brothers he does not know standing over him. They haul him up and march him to Mormont’s old solar, which is full of more strangers except for Maester Aemon, Septon Cellador (drunk), Ser Wynton Stout (asleep), and Ser Alliser Thorne, who immediately calls Jon a turncloak. Jon denies it coldly, and realizes the others must be Eastwatch men. A jowly man who eventually identifies himself as Janos Slynt, Lord of Harrenhal and now Commander of Castle Black, demands to know if it is true Jon abandoned the Night Watch, joined Mance Rayder’s army, and took a wildling woman into his bed.

Jon says Qhorin Halfhand ordered him to do so, and to do whatever he had to make Rayder believe he was sincere, but swears that he escaped as soon as he could and never fought against the Watch. Then Slynt brings in a prisoner who Jon recognizes with a shock as Rattleshirt. Rattleshirt says that Jon was the one who killed Qhorin Halfhand. Jon repeats that Halfhand told him to do whatever the wildlings demanded of him. Slynt and Thorne scoff, but Jon insists it is the truth, and that Halfhand knew they were going to make Jon kill him, and that Rattleshirt would have killed him anyway.

Slynt doesn’t believe a word of it, and Thorne speculates that it was part of the same plot that killed Mormont, and even that Benjen Stark may be involved. Jon shows them the hand he burned defending Mormont, and says Benjen would never have betrayed his vows. Cellador interjects that Jon refused to say his vows in the sept, but to the old gods, which are the wildling gods as well. Aemon jumps to Jon’s defense, and tells Slynt that Mormont trusted him, and that if it were not for Jon’s leadership, Castle Black would have fallen long since.

Slynt says he knows “the ways of wolves” and tells Jon his father died a traitor. Jon retorts that his father was murdered, which infuriates Slynt. He orders Jon taken to cell for later hanging. Thorne grabs Jon’s arm to comply.

Jon yanked away and grabbed the knight by the throat with such ferocity that he lifted him off the floor. He would have throttled him if the Eastwatch men had not pulled him off. Thorne staggered back, rubbing the marks Jon’s fingers had left on his neck. “You see for yourselves, brothers. The boy is a wildling.”

Oh, for FUCK’S SAKE.

Yeah, so, I didn’t even have to get to the end of this chapter to know just how much it was all going to go to shit. All I had to do was read the names “Ser Alliser Thorne” and “Janos Slynt” in close succession to be like, “well, we’re fucked.” After that, Rattleshirt’s inclusion was just overkill.

“We” meaning Team Jon Snow, of course. Because I apparently just keep on fucking rooting for the Starks, even though it is actually worse than being a Saints fan in the 1980s, odds-wise. And emotional wear-and-tear-wise, as well. I mean, Jesus H. Christ.

I don’t even remember where Thorne and Slynt were supposed to have been all this time or when we last saw them, but it hardly matters, because here they are, to be the fucking wooden shoes gobbing up this particular Stark attempt to make everything not suck for a minute.

Because, of course, we can’t have things not sucking; that’s just crazy talk! Not to mention how much we can’t have a Stark actually succeeding at something, because apparently that notion waltzes straight past “crazy” and right into “attacking an insane asylum with a banana” territory. (The latter remaining one of my favorite analogies I’ve ever read. Bless you, Douglas Adams.)

Because of course that’s exactly what Jon was doing—not sucking; i.e., being just as good at being in charge of things as I believed he would be. So of course we get to enjoy that for all of like three seconds before it gets taken away. ARGH.

And look, I still acknowledge that Martin’s willingness to kill off/fuck over supposedly protagonistic characters is why the dramatic tension of ASOIAF is an order of magnitude more, well, tense than it is in practically any other epic fantasy series I’ve ever read, but I’m just going to say that I really really need this story to throw me a bone before too much longer. There’s only so much of the Starks being the incontrovertible buttmonkeys of the universe I can take without there being some kind of clear victory on their part to balance it. And not a fucking Pyrrhic one, either, goddammit. We shall see if I get one of those before this book ends, but I will say right now that if I don’t, I’m sort of going to have to wonder why the fuck I’m even bothering.

…Sigh. As a caveat, it should be pointed out that my eyes (and nose, and throat, and head) are kind of killing me right now, so I’m not exactly in the most stellar mood at the moment. I reserve the right to retract that statement later, therefore, but right now it’s the God’s truth.

Anyway, fuck Slynt, and fuck Thorne, and fuck all of the people like them who are more interested in promoting their own welfare/advancement/agenda/prejudices than in even making the attempt to be objective. Or honest. Or, heaven forbid, compassionate. There are a lot of characters in ASOIAF who are subjectively assholes (it could be argued, in fact, that all the characters in ASOIAF are subjectively assholes in one circumstance or another), but there is definitely a particular subset of characters who are just empirically and universally nothing other than Major Assholes, and I feel pretty safe in chucking both these assholes into that category. Assholes.

It’s really too bad that Jon waited till too late to try killing Thorne, because it is just a crying shame that that douchecanoe hasn’t bought the asshole farm long since. I’m pretty sure I even predicted, waaaay back in the day, that not killing Thorne was going to come back to bite Jon in the ass sooner or later, and look at that, I was right. Not that I’m happy to be right in this case, but you know.

As a side note, apparently Jon is now strong enough to pick up a grown man by the throat with one hand, which kind of radically changes my mental picture of him. Not that I had been picturing him as a weakling or anything, but I definitely was picturing of him as being a fourteen-to-fifteen year-old, who as a general rule are just not far enough along in the growing-up process to have that kind of muscle. Of course, most fifteen year-olds I know haven’t been doing the insane shit Jon’s been doing, so there’s that. But still; if he’s that strong as an adolescent, what’s he going to be like as a full-grown adult? I mean, damn.

Assuming he makes it to adulthood, of course. *throws things*

On the actual siege part of this chapter: Oddly enough, even though I knew immediately what Jon meant by a “turtle” (meaning basically a large-scale version of the mantlets also mentioned in this chapter), I was not easily able to find an example of it via either Wikipedia or Google. Which is weird, because I know I’ve seen something similar used before in depictions of medieval warfare.

Maybe it’s not usually called a turtle. Or maybe I’m just thinking of Small Gods. Oh well. At least I learned other new war words, like the aforementioned “mantlets” and “hoardings.” Learning is Fun!

But I’ll tell you what’s not fun right now, which is looking at things. Or breathing. Or being awake. So I’m going to stop doing two out of those three things for the moment. Meanwhile, Share and Enjoy, and I’ll see y’all next week!

John Thompson
1. Fuzzy_Dunlop
I have asked the "why do I even bother" question many times throughout the series Liegh. The answer has always been "because GRRM is an amazing author, who just happens to hate me". But seriously, the oppressive suckiness of life in Westeos makes the moments where Martin throws you a bone that much better.
Marty Beck
2. martytargaryen
Joff's throat closing up isn't a bone? And Sansa escaping? Granted the latter was to icks-ville, but still...

Hang in there Leigh. Hope you feel better real-real soon.
Chris Nelly
3. Aeryl
Well considering you were thrown several bones this chapter with the inclusion of Rattleshirt(geddit?) I'd be careful what you ask for.

Obviously we all look for different things from our stories, I feel this book, by the end, is the most satisfying of the series. Make of that what you will.

And poor Jon, religious prejudice biting him in the ass, his compassion biting him in the ass.

Also, why did NO ONE point out the absurdity of taking the word of a WILDLING over a sworn brother. One who is demonstratively DEFENDING the Wall, not trying to bring it down(which you know if that was his goal, would be very easy to do, he could just let them through)
George Jong
4. IndependentGeorge
To be fair, Jon did admit to killing Qhorin. Obviously, the fact that he's defending the wall means he's not likely a Wildling turncoat, but that doesn't mean he's not an opportunistic deserter.

Slynt is obviously corrupt and Thorne hates Jon, but by itself, putting Jon in the brig for the duration of the battle isn't completely unreasonable. Just as with his infiltration of the Wildlings, one man on the inside is worth a hundred on the outside.
Janice Boyd
6. scaredicat
(formerly jmb)


I have to say, I admire your use of the invective. " is just a crying shame that that douchecanoe hasn’t bought the asshole farm long since." I love it.

Hope you feel better soon.
Hang in there Leigh!
Kurt Lorey
8. Shimrod
The 'turtle' is probably related to the Roman Musculus.
Vincent Lane
9. Aegnor
Remember Slynt is the one that slaughtered an infant. He's the one Tyrion shipped off to the wall early in book 2. He's been at Eastwatch by the sea all this time.
Steven Halter
10. stevenhalter
Chapter 69-Jon:The Wildlings are building stuff--almost certainly siege equipment. Raining down the barrels on the turtle is a good idea.
Thorne and Slynt have shown up. They are doing a mock trial and are going to throw Jon into a cell. That doesn't seem like the best of plans with an invading army just on the other side of the wall. Now, the chapter ends on a cliff(wall)hanger with Jon about to be put away and then hung, but I really can't see him getting hung. It seems like it could go a couple of ways. The current men whom Jon has been commanding could step in and either rescue him or turn the tables and put Slynt and Thorne in chains. I don't know the relative size of the forces for that to happen. Either way wouldn't seem to be good for the long term wall defense. So, just how bad things will get is very much in doubt, but I equally doubt that Jon will die here.
Also, if Slynt and Thorne are members of the watch, then they aren't Ser's and Lords anymore right? They are just brothers like anyone else so their demands to proper titles seems off.
Chris Nelly
11. Aeryl
Ser is a religious title, so THAT they can keep. About Lord you're right, stevenhalter, but Slynt's an asshole who's looking to lord(heh) what authority he has over people. The only Lord on the wall, is Lord Commander.
Marina Sokol
12. GreyJay
Leigh, thank you for another wonderful review.

BTW - Jon turned fifteen shortly after he arrived to the Wall in GOT. He is probably between 16 and 17 at this point of the story.
George Jong
13. IndependentGeorge
@10 - since we can't ask Leigh, I thought I'd turn it over to you: How the heck are you managing to read these last few chapters one at a time? I remember staying up to 4AM trying to blitz my way through SOS when I first read it.
Michael Duran
14. MRHD
(frog voice)Janos Slynt is a just man! Just, yes! Let no man say Janos Slynt is unfair. Janos Slynt knows the treason of the Starks all too well, yes!(/frog voice)
Steven Halter
15. stevenhalter
Leigh: Search for testudo arietaria (tortise battering ram) and you will find lots of pictures of covered seige engines.
Adam S.
16. MDNY
Sorry you're feeling ill Leigh, thanks for giving us a chapter this week. Even a real downer of a chapter. You just knew Thorne would show up again at the worst possible moment, since this is, after all, ASOIAF. And for added douchebaggery, he has his new BFF Janos Slynt with him.
Let me just add that your failing immune system has not impacted on your sense of humor. I think I laughed out loud more during this week's entry than ever, from your opening "Oh for Fuck's sake" to your sabot reference to your categorization of asshole degrees within the series. Your "major assholes" line made me think of Spaceballs, causing another LOL.
Hope you feel better soon, on the bright side the next chapter is all unicorns and puppies and rainbows...Or, at least, I know that has to be coming up SOME time in this series. Oh right, this is ASOIAF. As you said once, Leigh, "I know Martin’s kind of doing the whole “screw your narrative tropes, I am serving the-fundamental-pointlessness-of-death realness over here, no tea no shade gurrrl". Sorry Leigh, no tea no shade. There are still some excellent chapers, including a personal fav next week, and I too like this book the best of all the published ASOIAF volumes thus far.
Tabby Alleman
17. Tabbyfl55
I wonder why Jon didn't demand trial by combat. Maybe Westerosi characters only remember that legal strategy when it's conveeenient.
18. jonjonjohnsonville
Your writing in this installment reminds me of the way I described The Wire after watching it:

"Shit sucks, and then it sucks some more, and then for one brief shining moment it seems like shit won't suck, but then it goes to hell and then shit sucks even more than it sucked before."

*BUT, with the occasional happy moment/glimmer of optimism thrown in.

Interestingly, you (rightly IMHO) compared AGoT to The Wire, however long ago that was.
Emmet O'Brien
19. EmmetAOBrien
When AsoIaF is done, I am more and more wanting a Leigh Reads Homestuck.
Chris Nelly
20. Aeryl
@17, Likely because Jon knew that would end up reducing the NW's complement on the Wall by one, something they can't afford right now.

Plus, I kinda got the impression that was a Southron New Gods thing. The Northerners strike me as more pragmatic, kill you before a wierwood and let them figure out if you were innocent or guilty.
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
IndependentGeorge@13:These chapters are pretty rough since I do want to find out what happens in Tyrion's trial, Arya's wandering, Sansa's fleeing and now Jon's capture. But, I just sigh, read the chapter and go back to the books that I can read all at once. I'm currently also reading:
Conventions of War by Walter Jon Williams
Blood and Bone by Ian Esslemont
Black Halo by Sam Sykes
and just finished:
The Thousand Names by Django Wexler
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
and Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson (reread)
So, I assuage my desire to read further hear by reading further elsewhere. I used to just read one book at a time, but now I usually have at least one eBook in progress and a couple physical books going for times when I am somewhere it isn't wise to have an electronic device or the e devices aren't available or just because that is the copy I have.
George Jong
22. IndependentGeorge
@18 -

GRRM responds: "What the fuck did I do?!"

More seriously, someone really needs to do a Wire-style season-ending montage of GOT footage overlayed with "Way Down in the Hole". That would be awesome.
Scott Silver
23. hihosilver28
Sorry you're sick Leigh. I hope you feel better.

On a side note, it's good to be current with the read again. I've spent the last few days reading the posts and comments on this and WoT after spending a few weeks in the dark. Guess that's what happens when you get married and go on a honeymoon. ;-) Glad to be back with the commenters.

@18, 22-
HAHAHA, oh yes, that is epic. You guys made me chuckle. On a side note, did you know that they were considering McNulty (Dominic West) for Mance? I thought that would have been interesting. But I do like Hinds.
George Jong
24. IndependentGeorge
TYWIN: "You see this, Mance? These are for you. This one's going in your narrow Wildling ass, and this one goes in your eye."
25. KingsGambit
You want another bone?

As #2 pointed out, you had Joffrey
Arya survived the Red Wedding
Bran escaped Winterfell and is doing as well as could be expected
Dany is a conquering cities and hearts in the east

And you want more? Have you been reading the same books as the rest of us? I love a comment about this that I read by some critic on the tv show: "If you think this is going to end well, you haven't been paying attention."

That's not been a spoiler from the moment Bran got chucked out of a window
Jessica Trevino
26. Ciella
" Because I apparently just keep on fucking rooting for the Starks, even though it is actually worse than being a Saints fan in the 1980s," I read this as "a Stanis fan in the 1980's" which at first was very confusing and now I just fund funny.
Steven Halter
27. stevenhalter
Saints? Ha, I'm a Cubs fan. Speak to me not of suffering. Me and the Starks, we're in it for the long haul no matter how much suffering they get heaped upon them and by extension us. Yes siree, GRRM--bring it.
28. fehler
Can't wait until next week! And I hope you get better, since you will need all your shit-bricking skills bumped up to 11.
29. J Town
I'm sorry, but this made me giggle for 5 straight minutes. At work.

"it is just a crying shame that that douchecanoe hasn’t bought the asshole farm long since."

I hope you get better soon, Leigh, but man I love your reviews when you're in this kind of mood.
Sky Thibedeau
30. SkylarkThibedeau
Leigh the only thing worse than being a Stark was being a Saints Fan in the 1970's. #8
31. A name
I told you before, Jon wasn't in charge of anything. He was leading the defense until others returned. He was not in any formal leadership position. It's a small thing but it matters. And you are annoyed at them for not being objective, but think about it. There really isn't much proof that Jon didn't turn his cloak. He may have protected Mormont but that was before he was with the wildlings. He may be helping them defend the wall for now, but clearly he betrayed the wildlings too. They have little reason to think that he's still interested in anything other than himself. The concept of innocent until proven guilty probably does not exist in a world where trials by combat are considered adequate. Even if it does exist, there is enough there to make them question (yes, even without their blood prejudice).
32. Asbjorn
I sorta hoped you would quota the Dolorous Edd-snark in this chapter, but I suspected it would be overshadowed by Slynt/Thorne's reappearences. Oh well.

Hope you'll get better, Leigh!
33. JohnnyMac
Very sorry to hear you are under the weather. I will say that I admire your grit in posting despite being sick. Hope you are feeling better soon. I find that lots of hot tea with ginger, lemon and honey helps in this situation.
Eric McCabe
34. Zizoz
@9: Wasn't it Allar Deem who killed an infant? And Tyrion had him thrown off the side of the boat.
Marie Veek
35. SlackerSpice
@34: Yes, Allar Deem killed the baby - one of Robert's bastard children - as well as her mother when she refused to step aside. Slynt recommended him to Tyrion as someone he should appoint to take over the City Watch when he left to claim Harrenhal.
36. Aerona Greenjoy
@Leigh: I'm currently re-reading Small Gods, so when you mentioned the "turtle," it came to my mind too. Heehee.
William Budesheim
37. Gunleaver
Goodness, you're sick a lot. You should probably get that looked into. But a fine review/recap anyway. Push through the pain. Did you think of the parallel to your circumstance and that of the brothers of the Watch in this chapter, who keep fighting despite being worn out?

"If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew/To serve your turn long after they are gone,/And so hold on when there is nothing in you/Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!'

Just saying...
Anthony Pero
38. anthonypero
RE: Trial By Combat

Jon does not have the right to trial by combat. That is for Lords only.
39. Crusader75
This is what happens when primary source of new recruits for the Wall are the assholes Westerosi Lords wish to rid themselves of. Remember, Jon can thank his buddy Tyrion for Slynt's sunny presence on his doorstep.
Bill Stusser
40. billiam
I guess I read that last part differently than you leigh. I don't think it was brute strength but momentum. Jon pulled away and hit Thorne with so much force that it lifted Thorne up off his feet momentarily. It doesn't say that Jon held Thorne up off the floor and when Jon is pulled off of him it says that Thorne staggered back not anything about him falling down. I don't think its like Darth Vader holding that rebel up off of the floor.
42. argilac's antler
@22. "More seriously, someone really needs to do a Wire-style season-ending montage of GOT footage overlayed with "Way Down in the Hole". That would be awesome."

Not the ending montage, but someone already did the opening credts:

Zorila Desufnoc Eht
43. AlirozTheConfused

Pleasepleaseplease let that happen.

That would be so amazing.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
44. AlirozTheConfused
Also, while we're on the subject of sports suffering, none of you, NONE of you, can compare to me.

I am a Utah Jazz fan.
Michael Duran
46. MRHD
@44: It's a real shame that Stockton and Malone never won a ring in Utah, I'll give you that. They deserved it, and would have gotten it if they hadn't had the misfortune to be at their peaks the same time MJ and the Bulls were.
Tricia Irish
47. Tektonica
Feel better Leigh.

Great post in spite of your ill health. Some LOL moments.
48. GarrettC
From what I can tell, being a Saints fan in the '90s wasn't a trip of the tongue down Chocolate Lane, either.

No, no. I'm 99% sure that wasn't chocolate.
50. Oriares
RE: Trial by Combat

There's also the consideration that Jon very well might not win. He's still wounded, and Ser Alliser is probably no slouch when the swords is drawn.
51. an_on_y
The turtle is also an indirect reference to the ancient roman testudo formation. Testudo means tortoise in Latin (to some tortoises are indistinguishable from turtles). This is apropos since the wall is inspired by Hadrians, and George apparently had pet Turtles as a child, which he has often amusingly mentioned. It seems to perform much the same protective function for wilding infantry as well as roman.

The shell protecting say a ram could be called in Latin a musculus (thanks prior poster) though it's an earlier innovation, at least greek (e.g. Alexanders helepolis).
52. a1ay
42 is pretty damn good. The two series are very close indeed...
Birgit F
53. birgit
The Romans also built the Limes, and the Chinese Great Wall fits better for GRRM's oversized wall.

If Tyrion had accepted being sent to the Wall he would have met the people he sent there again. Is that why he didn't want to go?
Rob Munnelly
54. RobMRobM
Sorry to all that I was out of pocket yesterday. All day work commitment out of state. Oh the humanity....

Very disturbing end of the chapter, which Leigh highlighted with her trademark awesomesauce. Well done.

Slynt and Thorne are A-plus ***holes and are not even investigating facts that would determine whether Jon is truly innocent. They see an opportunity to settle scores and take over the NW and they are doing it, irrespective of possible harm to overall battle effort against the Wildlings. Jon is collateral damage and a score settlee, nothing more. In the absence of NW leadership of weight and thoughtfulness that will really look at the issues (Maester Aemon qualifies but isn't being listened to), Jon looks to be toast.

Pity, especially because of the contrast between the ending and Jon's great leadership in protecting the Wall in the first half of the chapter.

Not much else to note, other than Pyp and Grenn are a great comedy show; Mance's woman is about to give birth - query how that will play out as things progress - and the NW is in especially bad shape now given losses in the West near Shadow Tower. Not looking good.
Rob Munnelly
55. RobMRobM
Well, as a Red Sox fan, I had lots to complain about until 2004. Not so much since.
George Jong
57. IndependentGeorge
@48 - they never went anywhere in the playoffs, but the Dome Patrol was one of the great defenses in NFL history. And Mora had some of the best press conferences ever.
Anthony Pero
58. anthonypero
@57: Unfortunately, the Press Conference that will live in infamy for ever was while he was with the Colts...

Playoffs! Playoffs??
59. MGP
Look on the bright side, Leigh - GRRM will have to stop using the Starks as his buttmonkeys soon because there aren't many left!
60. GarrettC
@57: They only even had 2 winning seasons in the '90s, so it's no wonder they didn't do much in the playoffs.

I'm not a Saints fan, but I did grow up when Heath Shuler / Billy Joe Tolliver / Jeff Blake was the line of succession out there...
Anthony Pero
61. anthonypero
Cleveland Browns fans don't want to hear any more Aint's fans whining on this blog...

As a Packers and Wisconsin Badgers fan who was a teen in the 90s... I can't complain too much. Its been a nice run.
Chris Nelly
62. Aeryl
I'm a UofL fan in the middle of Kentucky, while UK was winning all their championships. Don't speak to me of pain.
63. Black Dread
Next week... The next few weeks.... Damn...
64. GarrettC
Well, like I said, I'm not a Saints fan. Actually, I'm a 49ers fan. So I'm not complaining about anything. Simply recognizing that the Saints have had precious few decades worth getting excited about.

And sure, the Browns are terrible now, have been for a while, and had that awful "not existing" period for a few years, but they were also pretty much the best team in existence for a long time after inception, and influenced the sport as impactfully as any team has. There's a rich history of pride in being a Browns fan, if you can look further back than 1990.

The Browns are kind of like the Starks, in a way (or maybe the Targs...? I mean, the Starks get the Northern division bit, but their decline is pretty recent, whereas the Targs have the whole "we changed the game and used to be the most awesome sauce on the table, but it's admittedly been a while" market cornered). And the Saints are kind of like the Lannisters (right down to the gold).
Randy McCraw
66. sscorp99
I've read all the books....all I can say is "You know nothing Jon Snow"
67. MRCHalifax
I think that one of my favorite things about this blog is to see Leigh pick up a Clue-bat, record her analysis of the Clue-bat, and then casually toss the Clue-bat away without realizing what she had been holding. Martin can be incredibly subtle about the things he leaves out there in the open.
Jakub Wrobel
69. ptyx
I think I'm the only one who saw the "Saints fan" comment and thought: "What was wrong with Southampton F.C. in the 80's?"
Of course I realized immediately that it was another obscure american sport reference that I wouldn't understand ;)
Rob Munnelly
70. RobMRobM
ptyx. The team New Orleans Saints American football team was so bad that they were nicknamed the "Aints" and a bunch of fans would show up to every game wearing paper bags over their heads. Well known incident in American football lore. And Leigh is from New Orleans....
Anthony Pero
71. anthonypero

I'm personally upset that Google can know my location down to a few hundred yards at any given moment, but can't figure out that when I search for "football", I'm not searching for soccer ;)
Captain Hammer
73. Randalator

Wow. My respect for Google just went up a few notches. Tee-hee.
Jakub Wrobel
74. ptyx
And if, for example, you search in google for "United States", are you surprised that most of the results show "The United States of America" instead of "The United States of Mexico"? ;)
Valentin M
75. ValMar
ptyx @ 69
lol, I know what you mean. Though I knew the background of Leigh being from New Orleans and the local team franchise.

anthonypero @ 71
Can't blame Google given that the vast majority of searches for "football" are for football as opposed to the US version of egg chasing (rugby) ;) But your point about the location is valid, unless there is local MLS franchise or lots of soccer-loving Latinos in the area (or other people with good sports sense ;)).

Randalator @ 73
Same here ;)

ptyx @ 74
Good point.
Anthony Pero
76. anthonypero

Exactly. If Google is going to know my location, and all of my personal data, I really expect searches with results more personalized to me. After all, they are making money on all that data about me to serve up ads that are more relevant to me, it would be nice if they did a better job with the results too, lol


If I was in the USA, searching in english for United States, then yes, I would expect results about the USA. If I was in Mexico, and I was searching in spanish for Estados Unidos, you would have a stronger point. Although, according to Wikipedia, it is officially Estados Unidos Mexicanos, which translates more accurately to United Mexican States, although it does list that it is alternately called Estados Unidos de Mexico (please excuse the lack of an accent mark. It is not easy to type on a US Keyboard) which does translate to United States of Mexico.
Anthony Pero
77. anthonypero
Also @ValMar:

There is a legitimate reason why they call it a franchise and not just a team or club. The owners of NFL teams are actually franchisees, just like the owner of a McDonalds or a Subway. They own the team, but they are granted rights from the NFL to use the team mascot, name, etc... For example, they can't change the name of the franchise, or even the design of the uniforms, without the permission of the NFL. The NFL is not publically traded, but is owned equally by all 32 team owners. Therefore, when you buy a "team", you aren't really buying that team, you are buying a share of the league.

Not that any of that matters. I just find it interesting.
Valentin M
78. ValMar

About Google, yes it would be nice if something good comes out of all the snooping it does. But it still makes me chuckle, more than it should probably, that when searching for football from the US it gave results for the world game.

As for the franchise system in US sports- NFL, NHL, NBA, etc., I know about it. From what I have observed, despite how fundamentally different it is, sport fans in Europe are well aware of it.
Leaving aside the ownership model, for me personally the league format it enshrines- notably the lack of promotion/relegation- hugely reduces my interest from what it might've been.
It is interesting and a lot more can be said about this, even from big George R.R. himself with his Giants and Jets, but it's very off topic.

PS It matters ;) There is the misery Manchester City have brought to me over the years and continue to bring but there is that moment in that sunny May day 2012 when Aguero scored in the last minute to give us the title...
Jakub Wrobel
79. ptyx
I'm not sure if it's off topic. We are not commenting ASOIAF itself here, we're commenting Leigh Butler's Read of ASOIAF and she provoked the whole discussion herself with one random comparison in her post.

You're lucky, ValMar. The team that I support won their last football title in 1948...
Anthony Pero
80. anthonypero

I personally like the Franchise system. It promotes the whole league and allows teams from smaller markets to be profitable when they otherwise wouldn't be. Although having relegation would be fun too... which just isn't possible with American football. That's the one part of your sport I absolutely love.
Valentin M
81. ValMar

Fair enough, it's just that it's proportionally taking a quite a bit from the thread. Anyway, looking at your name and quick look in Wkipedia makes me guess it's Cracovia?


This is interesting topic, I'll have to edit this comment this evening as now I've got to go.
Valentin M
83. ValMar

Maybe you should start supporting Wisla? Just joking, I've heard Cracovia fans can be a bit scary ;)


The mindset of the European fan, and maybe the rest of the world, is different regarding sports. You sound like you are talking about pure business not sport.
I.e. in European football the business aspect is just a means to an end- the end being success on the field. At least that's how fans still see it and the more ambitious clubs too.
It looks to me that in the US it's at least as important for a franchise's fans that their club is profitable. That's how it comes across from your last post, which may not be what you intended.

The US + Canada is a huge country market with a lot of large metro areas. Couldn't there be NFL2/NBA2, etc, with promotion/relegation between the two? Mind you, I can't recall similar scheme elsewhere with another sport so maybe it isn't feasable.

One interesting aspect of American sport is the artificial evening out of the playing field. Ironically, this removes the financial clout some franchises may have over others and makes the rivalry between teams one of purely sporting nature to a greater degree than in Europe. Here there are oligarchies of 2-6 clubs in every major league with resources far greater than the rest ensuring they aways remain at the top end of the table.
Chris Nelly
84. Aeryl
He's saying is that profitable clubs can keep non-profitable clubs alive, because they are all a part of the league, which means they all share in a (small) part of the profits.

Plus the league ensures that more profitable clubs can't stay domninant, by having ALL THE MONEY to throw at the good talent. League players are union, and there are guidelines for what they can be paid.
85. Ibid
@Leigh --

Very late to this party, was on vacation last week. Your reference to Small Gods made me laugh. When I read this scene the only thing I kept thinking was "the Turtle moves," which was also one of the schisms in that book. *sigh* Small Gods was one of my favorite Discworld books.
Valentin M
86. ValMar

Thanks for the clarification. To some degree this is true in the English Premier League where clubs bargain collectively for the TV rights and share more equally in the proceeds. In Spain is every club for themselves so Real Madrid and Barcelona have opened a huge gap between them and the rest.

I am aware of what you describe in your second paragraph, in general, I did address it in my last paragraph @ 83.
Anthony Pero
87. anthonypero
The revenue sharing in the NFL accounts for almost 65% of all revenue the league generates, so its not small.

As far as profitability being important, maybe its my silly free market american brain, but it seems obvious that a franchise that is not profitable will soon cease to exist, or move somewhere where it IS profitable. Also, franchises that do poorly financially are frequently sold to new ownership groups or individuals. The most historically relevant teams in the NFL have stayed within families or ownership groups for decades. A team even bring ON the market tends to mean it isn't a good investment or is an outright liability. The NFL, due to it's enormous amount of revenue sharing, has less of this now than other leagues in the states.

Having a lower division in American football is problematic. You could do it, the problem is that the bottom two teams in the NFL would be relegated to the lower division, and the two that were brought up could never, ever be competitive, because of the disparity in revenue. They simply wouldn't have as good of players. No where close. In baseball, a single dominant pitcher can win a game almost by himself. In basketball, same thing. In soccer, I imagine having a dominant striker and goalie is enough to win a few games against anybody. In American football? Not so much. We've recently changed the rules so that a dominant quarterback is a huge advantage, but there really aren't enough of those to go around as it is.
Valentin M
88. ValMar

Just a quick reply. In the context of the way in which US elite sport leagues are organized it makes sense talking about profit and the like as you were. It feels odd to people who are not used to this arrangement, as is to be expected. Basically, that sport is about what happens on the pitch and that the financial side of it is a necessary (if that) evil. Or, more appropriately, a means to an end. The more money in the coffers the better players can be bought the more tropheys won. This tends to be the mentality of most soccer fans. The game developed in a very different way.

About relegation, it depends what you mean by "competitive". In soccer newly promoted teams usually struggle, except in special cases. They are among the favourites to get relegated and often do, obviously.
Maybe in American football due to the nature of the game even if the promoted teams get first picks in the draft there will still be enough disparity in quality that the new guys will be embarassed in every game. It depends how the lower league is set up. Even as it is, there are usually a couple of franchises who get appalling win/lose records in the NFL.
In soccer, OTOH, sometimes even if a team is clearly outclassed they still can get a result and over the season can pick up a few points and have a chance to stay up. Or, as you said, they can get a couple of players to overperform, e.g. a striker having the season of his life and a young playmaker bursting into the scene, and this could make all the difference.

IMO, the reason why there aren't second tier leagues beneath the major ones with promotion/relegation between them is financial one. The leagues can make it work if they try in sporting terms. I don't think they can make the lower tier stand on it's own financially. Plus it can't be a feeder one for the top tier and this will mess up the draft system, from what I can deduce.

Hm, not so quick it turned out to be.
Anthony Pero
89. anthonypero
Your last points are very accurate ones. Teams in the lower tier would have difficulty drawing enough revenue to have the facilities needed to... draw enough revenue to compete. Most stadiums in the US are largely underwritten by the public through tax revenu, if not outright owned by the municipality. The latest stadiums built are billion dollar investments. Billion. There is no way any municipality or taxpayer in the US would vote to maintain high quality facilities that the big boys have at taxpayer expense for a lower league club.

Baseball obviously DOES have feeder leagues... many of them. But the facilities could never draw the revenue necessary to make relegation feasible.

Now, in Collegiate Football, I would LOVE to see relegation based on performance. It would be quite doable... but it will ALSO never happen, because the people making all the decisions are about 15 university presidents, and keeping crappy teams in their conference serves thier interests.

Color my cynical.

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