Oct 17 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 48

A Song of Ice and Fire Storm of Swords George R R MartinWelcome 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 48 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 74 (“Arya”).

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 74: Arya

What Happens
Arya tries to convince Sandor not to go into the inn, but he doesn’t listen. Inside, Arya recognizes Tickler and Polliver, two of Gregor’s soldiers. Their squire asks if this is “the lost puppy” Ser Gregor spoke of, who “ran off whimpering” when the battle got too hot at King’s Landing, until Tickler shuts him up. The locals slip out of the tavern quietly. Polliver tells Sandor that Gregor is gone to King’s Landing, and adds the news that Joffrey is dead. Arya thinks the news ought to please her, but she feels empty inside.

Polliver explains that it was likely the Imp and his new wife did it, but Arya doesn’t believe that Sansa would actually marry Tyrion. She is dismayed, however, when Polliver relates that Gregor had put all but a few to the sword in Harrenhal, and that Riverrun is under siege and Edmure Tully is the Freys’ prisoner. Sandor praises Sansa for “shitting on the Imp’s head” and flying off, but Polliver is sure they’ll catch her. Then Polliver relates that Sansa’s sister has been found and promised to Bolton’s bastard, and Sandor laughs.

Tickler asks if Sandor intends to return to his brother, and Sandor answers “bugger that,” upon which Tickler and Polliver attack. Arya clocks the squire with a wine cup as Sandor faces off with the other two, but then she realizes that Sandor is too drunk to fight well. He is wounded quickly, and Arya thinks he is about to lose the fight. Arya throws a dagger at Tickler, but only lightly wounds him. Then the squire grabs her, but Arya snatches his own knife from his belt and stabs him.

Polliver and Tickler have Sandor cornered, but he refuses to yield, and manages to half-decapitate Polliver. Tickler backs off, and Arya steps up behind him and stabs him in the back repeatedly, screaming his own interrogation questions from the village back at him. Finally Sandor drags her off him, and observes that she gave the squire a gut wound that will kill him slowly. He offers the squire to her. Arya finds Needle on Polliver’s corpse, and kills the squire with it.

Sandor says that they can’t stay here, and will go to Saltpans, and take ship for the Vale. He is badly wounded, and Arya helps him to his horse. She worries that he will fall out of the saddle as they head out, but he stays on. They reach the Trident and make camp, where Sandor has Arya pour boiling wine over his wounds. He passes out from the pain, and Arya binds his wounds. She recites her list, and feels strange to leave Polliver, Tickler and Joffrey off of it. She thinks that if Sansa is truly gone, then she is the only Stark (the only wolf) left. She realizes that she’d left Sandor’s name out of the list as well.

Sandor wakes her the next morning, but they only go half a day before he needs to rest, reeling from his wounds. Arya brings him water, and notes that he is burning up, and the wound on his thigh smells funny. She contemplates riding off and leaving him to die, or just killing him outright. She draws Needle; Sandor sees, and asks if she remembers where the heart is. She stammers, and he growls at her to do it already. He taunts her with Mycah’s death and his thoughts about Sansa and “fucking her bloody.” Arya tells him he doesn’t deserve the gift of mercy. Sandor says a real wolf would finish off a wounded animal. She tells him he should have saved her mother, and rides away.

Six days later, she comes to a town she hopes is Saltpans, where three ships are in port. Arya realizes she left all the money with Sandor, and will have to sell her horse to get enough for passage. The woman who buys it cheats her dreadfully, but Arya can do nothing about it. She goes to the purple galley and tries to book passage to Eastwatch, but she doesn’t have enough money. The captain tells her they wouldn’t go that way anyway, as the north has nothing but “ice and war and pirates.”

She asks where the ship hails from, and the captain tells her they are Titan’s Daughter, from the Free City of Braavos. She shows him the coin Jaqen H’ghar gave her. The captain is astonished.

“This… how… ?”

Jaqen said to say the words too. Arya crossed her arms against her chest. “Valar morghulis,” she said, as loud as if she’d known what it meant.

Valar dohaeris,” he replied, touching his brow with two fingers. “Of course you shall have a cabin.”

Ah hah!

…Said the girl who still has no idea what’s going on, really. I know we learned that “valar morghulis” means “all men must die,” but that doesn’t really help me translate the response phrase. Maybe “Valar dohaeris” means “all men rise again”? “All men kill the other men”? “All men suck so who cares?” “This is a rather misogynistic call and response code anyway so whatever”? WHO KNOWS.

In whatever case, it apparently is getting Arya the hell away from Westeros, so it’s a good thing, at least for now. Normally I would say it would be a bad thing if Arya had accidentally just identified herself as a member of an assassin’s guild (because that’s the sort of organization that would totally have (a) Jaqen as a member and (b) “valar morghulis” as its motto), but then, Arya is well on her way to being a full-fledged assassin in her own right anyway. She’s killed, what, at least four or five people now? Or more, depending on how you view the whole soup thing in Harrenhal.

Good lord. And she’s like, um, twelve or thirteen at this point, I think. Damn.

So many ethical dilemmas, so little time. But staying with the brutally pragmatic viewpoint for a moment, I would venture to speculate that Arya possibly meeting up with a guild of assassins in Braavos who can train her to be even more badass than she already is would not go amiss. Because while I don’t of course want Arya rampaging around and killing whoever looks at her funny, I do very much want her to have the tools to survive whatever further pile of shit (and make no mistake, there will be new piles of shit) fate sees fit to dump upon her. And I can’t think of many better ways to learn those survival skills than to learn how to be an assassin.

The trick, of course, is learning the skills of how to kill at will, without internalizing the sociopathic detachment required to actually do so. I am not a trained assassin, nor do I play one on TV, but I’m betting that doing both of those things would be quite the trick, when you think about it. And it’s a trick that I think Arya is already struggling with, truth be told.

This is always my dilemma with this kind of thing. I think I (we, really, as a culture) are rather conditioned to applaud the ability in a character to be a highly efficient (or even just willing) killer, without very often examining the ethical or psychological repercussions of that training/ability. Those who do not understand what I mean are directed to go watch A History of Violence without delay.

But even so, my point stands. I want Arya to be able to defend herself, dammit. I want for her what I (often fruitlessly) always want for female characters: for her to have the strength, will, and skill to determine her own path.

Which isn’t to say she hasn’t taken a very strong step in that direction in this chapter, because wow. Way to throw off the Stockholm Syndrome, girl! She left Sandor behind, y’all. I was honestly kind of shocked. And yet proud, because yes, Sandor Clegane has kind of established himself as a semi-sympathetic character to us recently, in spite of the shitty things he’s done, but nevertheless I cannot do anything but cheer Arya’s decision to ride away and leave him at this juncture.

Especially since he was planning to bring her to the Vale. Which, granted, may have seemed a perfectly logical thing to do from their point of view, but as a slightly more omniscient reader, I’m just as happy to not have Arya anywhere bloody near Lysa’s crazy, thanks. It’s bad enough that Sansa is stuck in it. I have no guarantee that going to Braavos will be any better for Arya than going to the Vale, but I kind of have to think that it couldn’t possibly be much worse.

*knocks on wood*

And Arya has Needle back! I was honestly not expecting that. What are the freaking odds, right? I would almost be narrowing my eyes in suspicion at Martin for that coincidence, except for how things that weird really do occur in real life. And granted, there’s unquestionably a pretty sharp divide between the random unrandomness of real life and the degree of symmetry generally required of fiction (hence the saying “truth is stranger than fiction,” because it is), but Martin’s general refusal to rely on tropes and clichés allows him quite a lot of leeway in this regard. So the reappearance of Needle in Arya’s life is a fantastic coincidence that I’ll allow, in this case. BUT I’LL BE WATCHING, MR. MARTIN.

*points finger*

Contrarily, speaking of tropes, I totally do not believe that Sandor is done for, by the way, because in defiance of all reality regarding serious wounds, I’m pretty sure the Hound is just too damn much of an contrary asshole to die like that. I look forward, therefore, in a sort of dreading way, to his and Arya’s eventual reunion. I don’t necessarily think that will go well, but it’ll definitely be interesting.

“Interesting” being the ultimate in ambiguous superlatives, of course, as the Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” quite effectively demonstrates.

I wonder if he’ll really follow her. If he was smart he wouldn’t. But “smart” is rarely the defining characteristic in what people in this series decide to do, isn’t it.

Oh, Arya. I am probably so very masochistic in continuing to have such high hopes for your future. But that doesn’t mean I won’t still have them.

And that is what that is for the nonce, my chickies. Have a lovely week, and I’ll see you next Thursday!

Zorila Desufnoc Eht
1. AlirozTheConfused
another day, another post,

from countess Leigh Von Butler, our vampiric host
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
2. AlirozTheConfused
And also, Miss Butler, there's a fault in your line

Arya's not "twelve or thirteen", she's at most one past nine.

She thinks that she was eight when she stabbified

that stableboy when Ned died; so I think that she lied

when she told Roosey Poosey Bolton that she was ten

Now she's a woozy choozy stark-girl, so the question is when

could she have had those birthdays? turned nine, ten, eleven

twelve and maybe thirteen, between now and when Bran was seven?
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
3. AlirozTheConfused
in this series you think it's high hopes

for a character to survive and be happy

To hope for fun, non-depressing tropes

and a world that isn't crappy.
Deana Whitney
4. Braid_Tug
"Is there gold in the village?"
Ahw... you didn't quote it. But great post.
5. TG12
Good insight into the dangerous line Arya is walking. It's easy to get blinded by the whole "man, Arya is butt-kicking awesome!" reaction (and she is!), but she's also flirting with some dark stuff. (I seem to remember referring to her as our "budding sociopath" when I first read this book).

That said, I love love love her story arc from here on out.
Captain Hammer
6. Randalator
"She realizes that she’d left Sandor’s name out of the list as well."

Daaaaaaw, they're so cute together.

In Westeros you know you've met someone very special if he/she stops fantasizing about killing you. It warms the heart.
Adam S.
This is Arya's clearest step toward the "dark side". She is still a sympathetic character for me, but she has started down a path of death and violence that is worrying for a 10 year-old kid. She's had reasons to fear and hate the world around her, but the girl could really use some family and people she can trust around her, rather than killers. Unfortunately she's headed for the latter. On the upside, we get to see Braavos (in the future).
Needle's presence didn't bother me. It helps bring closure to Arya's story arc of losing her family and escaping. Was it convenient that the 2 mummers who have her old sword are in the crossroads tavern where she and Sandor stop? Yes. Does it stretch the bounds of coincidence? Not for me.
Rob Munnelly
8. RobMRobM
As always, nice job. Good psyche analysis on Arya and the balance between being efficient and being damaged - we'll need to watch her on that going forward.

Love GRRM's gift with minor characters. The squire - didn't his words grate and you knew he was one of the dumber people in the entire series? Actually taunting the Hound as a puppy - genius!
Yuriev Olmos
9. Baikala
Nicely done! I always welcome the quick summary before going to Leigh's ramblings and thoughts about the characters possible fates. I have been waiting for this chapter since the 'pirate princess' prediction. Pirate Princess /Bavos Assassin, she was not at all far right?
10. Caleb M
Arya's left sandor, oh what a drag.
but in all candor, the dog's tongue did kind of wag.
Arya's going to braavos, earned passage with a phrase.
Leigh's such a suave host, reading her posts always pays.
Eric McCabe
11. Zizoz
Pretty certain Arya was nine at the beginning of GoT, don't have books to check though.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
12. AlirozTheConfused
Caleb's got rhythm, Caleb's got a good feel
for how to rhyme, with style and appeal
keep it up, keep it up, I'd have never thought
up "braavos" "suave host" rhyme, give it all you got!

Hey, Zizoz! remember me from the TVT?
How're things over there? How are things with ye?
Captain Hammer
13. Randalator
Ary was born in 289AL, ASoS begins in 299AL and ends in 300AL which would make Arya 11 years old at this point.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
Chapter 74-Arya:A gibbet with a woman's bones, rattling in the wind. Another ominous note in the Arya story. Death seems to be a recurrent theme here. Is that coin more than just a coin (rhetorical)?
This is providing a tense method of catching Sandor and Arya up on events although Arya isn't quite following.
"Is there gold in the village?"--awesome and wince at the same intermingled time. Arya takes out two and we see that the events with the torture in the village have had a deep impact on her as she kills the Tickler. This is pretty brutal but could actually be therapeutic if it serves to break through the probable PTSD. I thought that might be Needle and so it was. She is getting a (series of) pretty brutal lesson(s) and is treading a fine line between getting out of this alive with the skills she needs and just becoming a damaged wreck.

Boiling wine on the wounds--ouch, but a good idea. And, three people off her chant list. She leaves the Hound but doesn't kill him. I think she has some small fondness for him. She has wanted to escape for a long time now (it seems like years). I'm not sure of the wisdom of this, but we'll see although I think this is a good thing certainly storywise and for herself. The Hound was shown to be not completely awful, but he isn't really a great role model either.

OH, Cool--she has made contact! (Takes that gun off the mantel.) Off with the Braavosi! On a ship! This should be very interesting. It feels like she has come throw darkness and danger and emerged into a meadow. Of course, meadows can be very dangerous places and I don't think that the danger is going to leave Arya, but at least this seems like a very new direction. Maybe to Jaqen? Maybe to Syrio? The Jaqen path would be to a school?/sect? of assassin magicians?.-->the Faceless. Jaqen seemed to be a fairly damaged if very capable person. I would prefer Arya avoid some of the damage.
"Valar dohaeris" Have we heard this phrase before? I don't recall it. The Valar part is the same as "Valar morghulis" and so is All men must. I'm drawing a blank on dohaeris at the moment--have to watch for clues. "All men must redeem this coin for 1/20th par value or a voyage to the castle of the Wizard/Assassins of Braavos." Something like that.
15. Black Dread
"The trick, of course, is learning the skills of how to kill at will, without internalizing the sociopathic detachment required to actually do so..."

Did you read the chapter in which she stabs 2 men to death and leaves a third to die without a backwards glance or twinge of conscious? She is already a ruthless killer.
16. MotherOfFirkins
The thing that kills me about this chapter is the description of the Hound sobbing as he's telling Arya to kill him. Imagine the Hound doing that. Ugh. My heart breaks for them both and all they've been through.
Joe Vondracek
17. joev
Dang, there go my hopes for the spin-off, The Hound and the She-Wolves, wherein Sandor Clegane and Arya Stark wander about Westeros, seeking Sansa Stark, each for his/her own reasons: Arya, to re-unite with the last surviving member of her pack; Sandor, to get one more song from the little bird. (I thought it interesting that when Marillion attempted to molest Sansa at Littlefinger's keep, Sansa's first thought was that it was Sandor coming to rescue her, before realizing that it was Lothor Brune driving away Marillion...)

Is Arya still 10? The last time that it was mentioned, she said that she was almost 11, and that was some time ago. Didn't she kill at least one man when Amory Lorch's group attacked Yoren's? The stable boy in King's Landing, the guard at Harrenhal, plus the squire and The Tickler makes four. She also directed Jaqen to kill two men. I'd say she's directly responsible for at least 6 deaths.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
18. AlirozTheConfused
Perhaps mister Martin's timeline isn't 100% tight
@Randalator: If that's the case, and you're probably right;
then why'd she think she was eight when she killed the stableboy?
but I guess it doesn't matter now, to Bravos, Ahoy!
Captain Hammer
19. Randalator
Btw. "Valar dohaeris" means "20% off all assassinations at Jaqen's (offer void on Skagos)". Now you know...
Steven Halter
20. stevenhalter
Black Dread@15:She didn't kill the Hound. She was thinking about it but couldn't quite bring herself to do it. She did leave him behind, but he wasn't exactly Father Christmas or anything.
The Tickler was definitely a source of trauma. Killing him is not sociopathiic in the least. She was feeling a lot in that killing.
The squire seems harsh, but was well within the bounds of Westeros psychology for having a good reason for killing.
She almost certainly has PTSD and probably other problems from her adventures so far, but she is not yet a sociopath.
Joe Vondracek
21. joev
Sandor Clegane has kind of established himself as a semi-sympathetic character to us recently, in spite of the shitty things he’s done,
Aside from him killing Mycah, which was a horrible thing on par with Jaime shoving Bran out the window, what other shitty things has Sandor done? I'm drawing a blank. He kidnapped Arya, but only did so to get the ransom that the BWB were using her for anyway.
Tom Smith
22. phuzz
If you really want to know what "Valar dohaeris" means, then google will tell you.
It's worth mentioning that GRRM basically makes up the 'foreign' languages to sound right. No Tolkien style, fully thought out linguistics here.
23. Caleb M
Aliroz, why are you confused?
can't you see they're your words that I used?
I stole the word host from your first post.
You got the most posts while I'm just a faint ghost.
You say I got rythm, you say I got feel,
I say its no big deal, just give me words to steal!
Adam S.
24. MDNY
@13 It's year 300, so Arya turns 11 this year, but it's early in the year (Joff's wedding was new year's day, and he just died in the past couple of weeks in this Arya chapter). That's why I estimated she is 10 at this point, going on 30.
25. olethros
"Valar" means "all men." The following words are verbs, with the "-is" suffix being a declension equivalent to "must."
Steven Halter
26. stevenhalter
phuzz@22:I'm sure google would tell me--but, I'll wait, thanks.

olethros@25:Yep, most probably.
Captain Hammer
27. Randalator
@18 AlirozTheConfused

re: Arya

When did she think that? It wasn't in the actual chapter (I checked) and she was already nine years old when King Robert visited Winterfell (she says so to Jon as they watch the boys sword training).

@24 MDNY

You're right, according to the Most Precise Timeline of ASoIaF in the History of Ever Arya ist still about 2-3 months away from her 11th birthday. I stand corrected.
Rob Munnelly
28. RobMRobM
Re valar dohaeris - I checked the relevant sources and it hasn't been identified as of yet in the books. So no tellsies.

Interesting (to me) note: The term has been used several times on the TV show, including as the title of Season 3 Episode 1 (not that it will tell you much).
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
29. AlirozTheConfused
@Randalator: ASOS page 596; is where she thinks, "I killed a boy when I was eight". I don't have pics, I don't have hotlinks; but open the book and it's there; I restate;

ASOS page 596; really, I mean it, no jokes or tricks.

@Caleb M
Alright, I'll write some merry summary; for you to steal (four hue (two's teal)) for words contained within the sky we post rich; forwards can taint with thin the sky. Weep, ostrich.

In other words, I recommend
you read the Webster's Tome
the Ninth Collegiate I commend
from that source my words do come.

My words I steal from the ninth edition
so to steal my words is no sedition
It's good to see another rhyme
about this series filled with grime

So sing a song and blow a kiss
to our host, the Butler Miss
And wait for Thursday next
for another AROIAF text!
Captain Hammer
30. Randalator
@29 AlirozTheConfused

Found it. That's either a mistake or our girl Arya has one hell of a dark secret.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
31. AlirozTheConfused
Maybe the real Arya was killed and replaced by this younger psychopath?
Steven Halter
32. stevenhalter
She killed a man in Westros just to watch him die
Jennifer B
33. JennB
Hmm.. After reading the comments, I think I must have missed a Sansa chapter. Have to go back and look.

This is the point where I kind of lose interest in Arya, who was once my favorite character. I think it's because she leaves Westeros. It's just like with Dany. I have never been interested in her much, and I think it's because she is off somewhere in the boonies and all the action is in Westeros. Sigh.

As far as Arya's path of darkness goes, I think all of her killings have been justified. As long as she doesn't start killing people for things other than being raping, murdering, sadistic monsters, she will hopefully be fine.
Steven Halter
35. stevenhalter
@34:Just playing with the line from Folsom Prison Blues:
I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die

To clarify, Arya didn't do this.
Tabby Alleman
37. Tabbyfl55
Arya is definitely my favorite character to "root for" in the books so far, if not the only character that I unequivocally root for.

And I do root for her to learn some ninja skillz, because I just can't see her character turning into an unsympathetic sociopathic do-not-want. I don't think even GRRM could convincingly pull off that kind of transformation on the Arya that I know and love.

Arya's gotten a bit desensitized to killing when she has to do it, but I haven't seen her unable to empathize. Her POVs are not that of a psycho-killer, IMO. Hasn't she even taken risks to protect other innocents?

No, I suggest that Arya is simply not an idiot. By idiot I mean the kind of Leader of the Good Guys, who, upon catching the Bad Guy who has tried multiple times to Kill Us All, and who will unquestionably try again to Kill Us All every chance he gets for as long as he draws breath, and who, any non-idiot can see, Needs Killin', will immediately turn to the most inept Good Guy in the group, and say "You watch him while the rest of us go do something contrived to be important off-screen", making me mentally scream, "Oh you IDIOT!"

I like that Arya's not that idiot. Go Arya.
Rob Munnelly
39. RobMRobM
@33 - Sansa's in Westeros, just not in Kings Landing and, instead, in hiding.
40. MRCHalifax
Have you considered that Needle appearing might not be coincidence, but rather that the gods of the North made it happen? Needle is for all intents and purposes the only physical link Arya still has to Jon Snow, Winterfel and her original 'pack.' Well, she has a wolf too, but not quite nearby enough.
Marie Veek
41. SlackerSpice
I'm starting to feel like the "Is there gold" scene is actually the series's equivalent of the Holodeck Tommygun scene from Star Trek: First Contact - something that would usually be badass, if not for the trauma that's motivating the character's actions.
42. Gods of the North
This wasn't us; We have no power south of the Neck. The Andars burned down our eyes.
43. Slithy
Boiling wine on the wounds--ouch, but a good idea.
Just for the record: one might think so, but no. Cauterization of wounds was widely used in the middle ages, and wasn't shown to be harmful until at least the 18th century. It might have been one of Napoleon's surgeons, Baron Larrey (I'm not certain) who discovered that wounds were less likely to become infected if they were cleaned and treated with bandages and mild unguents -- fats, etc. -- rather than cautery. The problem with cautery is that it doesn't kill germs that have been pushed deeply into the wound, and it does kill viable tissue. It produces non-viable tissue at the wound site, which increases the likelihood of infection.

The medical care in ASoIaF seems to be generally correct for the middle ages in Europe, but it is often not good medical care, even for that time.
Joe Vondracek
44. joev
@37: Arya's gotten a bit desensitized to killing when she has to do it, but I haven't seen her unable to empathize. Her POVs are not that of a psycho-killer, IMO. Hasn't she even taken risks to protect other innocents?
ITA. IIRC, Arya was never one of the ones questioned by The Tickler. All of those who were questioned, in front of all of the captives, were subsequently killed. And yet, despite not being subjected to The Tickler's torture herself, Arya has this monumental rage towards him. Why is that? Is it because she recognizes the horror of what he did to those "common" people and even though she is not a commoner herself, she feels empathy with them? That would be my take on it. I don't think she is a sociopath/psychopath. With the possible exception of the gate guard at Harrenhal, she's really only killed out of necessity, and I seem to recall reading one passage where she felt bad about killing that guard.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
45. AlirozTheConfused
@GodsoftheNorth: Oh, so that's why the south is such a nest of Vipers; you had no power to make things better there; and why you couldn't kill Joffrey and Gregor Clegane or bring Sansa and Arya home at the beginning of book Two; and why you couldn't save Eddie Stark. The Red Wedding happened south of the neck, too. And, before that, why you couldn't save Lyanna from Rhaegar and save Rickard and Brandon from the Targaasyreaserans.

And that's why Littlefinger is still alive, if he went above the neck, you'd kill the frigging turdface. And Pyke is below the neck, too!
In fact, you having power only above the neck explains why Robbie Stark won all those battles.

It explains why you couldn't stop the atrocities at Harrenhal; in fact, it explains most of the crap that happens in the series.
46. DougL
Holy shit, I was waiting years for you to get to this chapter and Leigh, a bit underwhelming, sorry.

Where's the sparkly yay, or the shock, or the catartic response to Arya's crazy awesome, worrying killings in this chapter? Were you just so expecting it at this point? Maybe I read the book too fast the first time through and this chapter just stuck with me, but I kind of expected more from this posting.
47. Jonnyboy

what are you talking about? She watches fellow captors get picked at random to be tortured to death, knowing it could quite easily be her next, and you think her hatred isn't proportionate?
48. Aerona Greenjoy
For all his trope-dodging, GRRM is rather fond of the fantasy tenet that when a Major Character decides it "won't hurt" to visit an inn, Deadly Encounters are imminent. This makes the story less predictable, weirdly, since I'm always taken by surprise when a character has an uneventful inn visit, but I still react to those decisions with "Don't do it!!" As Arya tried to do here.

I was more disturbed by the killing of the Harrenhal guard than by these, where she was directly fighting for her life. Not that Harrenhal was safe, but the dynamic was different.

@6: Hahahahaha
49. Something
I've been waiting years for Leigh to get to practically all the chapters at the end of this book (see, it really doesn't end at the weddings.) :)
Adam S.
50. MDNY
@46 I agree that I thought Leigh's reaction to this chapter would be stronger. I thought Arya's rage in this chapter wsa emotionally powerful, with her screaming the questions about gold and Beric as she stabs the Tickler repeatedly
Corey Sees
51. CorwinOfAmber
Character ages are weird in ASoIaF. Don't pay too close attention to them.
Jennifer B
52. JennB
I edited my comment to make it more clear. I was talking about Arya, not Sansa. I know that she will be important to the action in Westeros in the future, just like Dany will, but to me shipping her off to another continent makes her much less interesting. Sorry. It's hard to explain.
Alicia Dodson
53. LynMars
I think for some Arya's story takes a downturn after this point, as this was one of the breaks Martin intended when he still meant to have a time jump in the story to age up some of the kids. Some of the charcaters are hitting some obvious stopping points--Dany in Mereen, Arya going to Braavos with that coin and that phrase, etc--but other action, like in King's Landing and at the Wall, simply didn't allow for such clean breaks, and the time skip ended up not happening.

Which becomes ridiculously obvious when you get to some characters in AFFC and ADWD and their stories are suddenly draaaaaaging.
Jennifer B
54. JennB
I remember reading somewhere that GRRM said he accidentally made all the Stark children younger in years than he pictured in his head. Because of this, they all act about 3 years older than their given ages.
Jennifer B
55. JennB
So he was just going to skip ahead a few years. Wow, that would have been weird. What about Winter? I thought it was knocking at the Wall. I guess Autumn could last any number of years.
56. a1ay
The trick, of course, is learning the skills of how to kill at will, without internalizing the sociopathic detachment required to actually do so. I am not a trained assassin, nor do I play one on TV, but I’m betting that doing both of those things would be quite the trick, when you think about it.

Nothing more than happens to millions of people every year in military training, when you think about it. It isn't that difficult to get folk to the stage where you can tell them "see that guy over there? You've never met before, and he's never done anything to you. Kill him now" and they'll do it.

I remember making a similar point about Ender's Game - if Ender had been seventeen rather than seven at the start of the book, no one would think it at all odd that the government would come and take him away from his parents and train him up to be a killer.
57. Nessa
All the young Starks (and Dany I guess) needed a timeline skip to get aged up (Bran was only seven when the series started) and to learn all the skills they would need to become more efficient at whatever it is they do. GRRM said that he took it out because he didn't want to tell the story in flashbacks to events that happened in the five years.
(roll over for possible spoilers)
But you can still tell that some of the younger characters are progressing too fast in their storylines to make up for telling the story in a shorter length (like Arya, even Sansa and Bran). And some storylines are stagnating (like Dany's) because GRRM wanted to tell the 5-year skip in a compressed timeline, so he had to make up some more material for her. The incongruity between the storylines that need skipping time, and those that don't, is one of the few glaring flaws of ASOIAF. I guess it's hard to keep all the characters on the same page when you have so many of them.
Rob Munnelly
58. RobMRobM
I'm not a fan of the discussion of potentially dragging plotlines in future books. Too close to the spoiler line - can we just stop it?

Re Arya and Needle coincidence - Martin has had characters repeatedly missing each other by inches as they've wandered through the middle of Westeros, especially Arya-Brotherhood and Jaime-Brienne. Perfect sense that FINALLY two of them would end up in the same place. Contrast to @48 - we were risking an endless "close but no cigar" trope that GRRM shattered by having two groups finally meet up.

Re pros and cons of having Arya sent off to Essos - one of the things GRRM is making clear is that this series is not just about Kings Landing and the North. The splashy introduction of Oberyn makes clear that Dorne is trying to be a player. The same holds true even more for Essos, which is not just Dany's playground. Rhillor is playing a big role though Stannis and Mel and the Brotherhood and other people from Essos have appeared at key points in the narrative (such as Syrio). In this context, it makes perfect sense for a Stark to get inculcated in the ways of Essos - ideally before she is able to make her way back and kick some serious Lannister and Frey butt down the line.
59. Gold for Petyr
57. Nessa

Dany's story stagnates for legitimate reasons. She wants to do two mutually exclusive things. Protect her free slaves and return to Westeros. She can't do both at once so she's stuck.

As for Bran, what is the appropriate age to become a magic telepath?
Deana Whitney
60. Braid_Tug
@58: Some brilliant artist did the world of ASOIAF as a Underground Tube map. It was great and posted on some months ago. But it does contain spoilers for future books, so look it up at your own risk.
The Inn they were just at acted as a major hub, much like King's Landing.

Wasn't it Polliver who took Needle in the first place? It's good blade, so not surprised he's still carrying it around. Just happy she found it in time to use it. Rather than a boring post fight body search.
Steven Halter
61. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@58:Yes, I agree, reflection on future known timelines is leaking some spoilery info into the threads.

Arya moving to another place seems great to me. We get to see more of the world and the Braavos seem to be very interesting and different than the Westros people from the two we have spent time with. Also, the wandering around in the wilderness plot thread for Arya had gone about as far as it needed to go. She knows how to start a fire, pasture horses and sleep under the stars. Time for learning some pirate/assassin/wizard/swordmaster or whatever skills it is she is going to learn on her journey.
Marcus W
62. toryx
Interesting, isn't it, that Arya has come to such a vicious, wild turn whereas it appears that Nymeria has become a wild she-direwolf leading a monsterous pack through the wilderness.
Rob Munnelly
63. RobMRobM
toryx - one can only hope that Nymeria's present leadership over a scary war pack is a sign of things to come down the line for Arya.
Katharine Duckett
66. Katharine
@49 @57 @64 Comments deleted or edited for possible spoilers. Please remember that you can go to our spoiler thread for anything that might kinda/possibly/definitely be a spoiler. Thanks!
67. Eudaimonia
Sorry, but didn't Arya request/want to go to the Eastwatch (to see Jon)?
A request that was initially turned down as they were bound for Braavos. But when she said the magic words, they said:

“Of course you shall have a cabin.”

I am assuming since "Valar Morghulis" means "All men must die" they will brave the pirates and wars to take her to Eastwatch as was requested? Is Valar Morgulis a persuasive enough argument for acquiescence to that degree?

I am assuming it is (at this point) since I really want Arya/Jon duo...and for her to reek havoc on the Boltons for the farce of a "marriage" planned up there with "faux-Arya".
68. DougL
To everyone that has read ADWD head over to

You will gain a huge new appreciation for various character arcs.
69. Aerona Greenjoy
@67: "Reek" havoc on the Boltons? X-D

@68: Ack, now I have another ASOIAF blog to follow obsessively. That makes three.
Steven Halter
70. stevenhalter
Eudaimonia@67:I hadn't thought of it that way. It's possible they will take the ship where she wants, but I read it as they are going to take her to whereever people with those coins get taken. Kind of a return this token and its bearer to the origin rather than a do whatever the bearer says.
Looking back in A Clash of Kings Chapter 47, I see:
He grinned, revealing a shiny gold tooth. “No harder than taking a new name, if you know the way.”
“Show me,” she blurted. “I want to do it too.”
“If you would learn, you must come with me.”
Arya grew hesitant. “Where?”
“Far and away, across the narrow sea.”
“I can’t. I have to go home. To Winterfell.”
“Then we must part,” he said, “for I have duties too.” He lifted her hand and pressed a small coin into her palm. “Here.”
“What is it?”
“A coin of great value.”
Arya bit it. It was so hard it could only be iron. “Is it worth enough to buy a horse?”
“It is not meant for the buying of horses.”
“Then what good is it?”
“As well ask what good is life, what good is death? If the day comes when you would find me again, give that coin to any man from Braavos, and say these words to him—valar morghulis.”
“Valar morghulis,” Arya repeated. It wasn’t hard. Her fingers closed tight over the coin. Across the yard, she could hear men dying. “Please don’t go, Jaqen.”
I bolded the relevant part there. This seems to be saying that she will be brought back to Jaqen.
Chris Nelly
71. Aeryl
@68, Thanks for that! Some of that echoes my own thoughts, but others are new perspectives.
Captain Hammer
72. Randalator
@67 Eudaimonia

I really want Arya/Jon duo...and for her to reek havoc on the Boltons

Woah, we're already worrying about her becoming a little detached as it need to bring her going full-on psycho into the mix... ;-)
Lindy Brown
73. lbrown
When I read this chapter, I totally didn't realize that Arya had actually found Needle. I thought she just saw a sword, took it and said, "I'll call you Needle" in remembrance of her old sword. It wasn't until later that I realized it's the same sword she had before. Silly of me.
74. Maddy1990
I love Arya and want good things for her (as I do for all the Stark kids really) but I'm glad you have such a nuanced analysis of her character and growing sociopathy. When I first read this, I mainly just thought this was badass and awesome, it took later reflections and rereads to think about how Martin is actually really cleverly deconstucting the girl warrior/ badass trope and considering some of the moral implications of a little girl going around killing people. I'm not really judging her, she definitely has good reason to become a darker character after all of the awful things that have happened to her, but it's nice to have an interesting discussion about it anyway. Will be interested to see what you think about what happens to Arya later on.

I know this is a point that has been beaten to death, but I think there are some really interesting parallels with Sansa/ Arya, who are obviously very different but are both equally 'strong' female characters.
75. Gold for Petyr
74. Maddy1990:

When did people start throwing around the word sociopathy instead of not nice. While the word scociopath doesn't really have a definition, medically, I think we would all agree Arya is willing to kill people. Do we need to color that as some sort of pseudo-pathology when its a nearly universal characteristic in Westeros?
76. david_ak
Lots of discussion about character's ages. Almost from the beginning I've assumed one Westeros year is about 1.4 earth years. Ages work a lot better that way.
And what defines a "year" in Westeros (what is the name of this planet, BTW?)? The length of time from Summer solstice to Summer solstice? Not likely, since the time from summer to summer seems to be unpredictable and can range up to at least 15 years.
My theory is that Westeros ' world orbits a multiple star system. The orbit, and its period, may not repeat/duplicate for a thousand years or more and could require a computer to predict.
77. Gold for Petyr
76. david_ak

The answer appears to be star position, since Maesters are always watching the stars and taking measurements to pronounce such things.

There's only one sun though, surely the characters would mention multiple suns. Think fantasy not scifi.
Matt Spencer
78. Iarvin
@76 and 77, the erratic seasons could also be caused by the planet having a wobble which is asynchronous with its orbit around a star.

@75, sociopathy does have a fairly stable if somewhat vague definition, typically centered around disfunction of the prefrontal cortex. I would agree that Arya doesn't fit into the sociopathy bucket in any real way.

Here's one example of such a definition
79. Mark Z.
#75: "Sociopath" is a useful word for someone who acts with no concern for the harm they cause to anyone who's not them. Some sociopaths are violent, because violence is a useful tool for getting what they want.

Arya is not that. Arya does not kill people in order to get what she wants. She kills people because they deserve it.

It's the Stark attitude toward justice--here's your sword, because some people need killin'--but without the title and the castle to legitimize her, or the armed retinue as backup. Because of that (and because she's, you know, ten), she has to be sneaky and opportunistic, which looks sociopathic. But remember at Harrenhal, when she ordered Jaqen to go kill some random dickhead who had been bragging about raping a girl? She gained nothing from it. In fact there were a lot of complaints in the discussion here that she had "wasted" one of her three deaths.* But from her point of view I don't think it was wasted at all. She found a vile criminal, so she killed him. Her father would be proud.

* I'd argue that that's a sociopathic view of the situation: death as a resource to be budgeted and optimized. Even Jaqen, who is a professional death delivery agent, doesn't see it that way. He didn't get paid to work for Arya; he did it because the balance of the universe demanded it.
80. Maddy1990
@75 - Maybe sociopath is the wrong word, but Arya's arc to me seems to be all about her struggle with identity, and the fact that she has had to harden herself to survive. We could go into all sorts of debates around whether her killings are justified, and I'm by no means arguing that the world of Westeros isn't a better place because people like the Tickler don't exist anymore, but it's definitely hard to argue with the fact that her killing people hasn't changed her. Consider her guilt at the accidental killing of the stableboy, and look at her now, she offhandedly thinks about killing the women she thinks is cheating her.

I'm not trying to demonise Arya here, she is absolutely one of my favourite characters, but there are definitely some interesting discussions to be had about her psychological wellbeing. I like that Martin shows how this changes her in a realistic way rather than having this cute assassin girl without considering the moral and psychological implications - but maybe labelling her a sociopath is inaccurate.
Steven Halter
81. stevenhalter
Arya certainly will have emotional scaring from all of this. But, scaring does not equal sociopathy. Arya displays a lot of emotion and caring for others. She very much wanted to save her mom.
82. Maddy1990
@81: Absolutely. I think the Red Wedding has to be a breaking point for her. At this point, Ned, Robb and Catelyn are dead, Sansa is off who knows where, she thinks Bran and Rickon are dead ... I'm at least happy she got Needle back as a connection with Jon, who is at least still alive at the Wall. Oh Arya, all the feels for that girl.
Julian Augustus
83. Alisonwonderland
RobM @63:
toryx - one can only hope that Nymeria's present leadership over a scary war pack is a sign of things to come down the line for Arya.
Here's another interesting clue. Many many years ago, when aCoK first came out, I argued on the forum that perhaps Arya is destined to lead some kind of army, but almost everybody else on the forum thought that was too farfetched an idea to be credible. That idea came to me in a small passage in aCoK, Catelyn 5, just after Cately witnessed the parley between Stannis and Renly, and before the Shadow Baby showed up to murder Renly. Catelyn had gone to the sept to pray to the Seven:
Flickering torchlight danced across the walls, making the faces seem half alive, twisting them, changing them. The statues in the great septs of the cities wore the faces the stonemasons had given them, but these charcoal scratchings were so crude they might be anyone. The Father’s face made her think of her own father, dying in his bed at Riverrun. The Warrior was Renly and Stannis, Robb and Robert, Jaime Lannister and Jon Snow. She even glimpsed Arya in those lines, just for an instant. Then a gust of wind through the door made the torch sputter, and the semblance was gone, washed away in orange glare.
What is the common denominator among the faces in her vision? At the time, I suggested that four were/are kings, one was a member of the Kingsguard and has since become the leader, and the other was a member of the Nightwatch and (Roll over for theory/speculation) has since become its lord commander.

All are warriors and leaders of men.

So why did Martin choose to add Arya to this group? Just as in subsequent books Martin manoeuvred Jaime and Jon to become military leaders, I believe he gave us in this obscure passage a well-hidden foreshadow that Arya is, somehow, going to lead an army in Westeros before it is all over. The fact that she is now training as a Faceless Man hasn't changed my opinion, and her current difficulties in training only reinforce my conviction that being an simple assassin is not going to be her ultimate destiny. (End)
84. CarpeComputer
@ stevenhalter I have a wild theory about the Bravosi assassins - maybe Jacquen H'ghar is Syrio? Just think about it, Jacquen is faceless, he changed his identity after doing the 2-and-a-dozen killings for Arya, so at some point he must have had changed it to the one we knew him. And he is a pretty damn badass fighter, so a question begs to be answered: how did he get caught in the first place so he was in the cage with these 2 losers going from King's Landing to the Wall?

And now:

- Both Jacken H'ghar and Syrio Forrel are Bravosi
- Both are excellent swordsmen
- Both were in some dire circumstances in KL
- Both like Arya
- Both know Arya's identity

I did not see any of these characters get mentioned again, so I am not trying to spoil anything by any means, but what do you guys (who did not read much further) think about my theory?
85. Dragonriding Moogle
This is my favourite chapter in the series, largely because Arya's POV to me felt so creepily accurate. Every sentence written had that detachment. Not sociopathy, no, but well--young children often don't have a great sense of morals or empathy in a lot of situations, and Arya's has been fucked all to hell. The bit with the Tickler managed to be awesome, creepy and really really sad all at once.

Oh, to the person who asked what the Hound did that was bad other than killing Mycah, I will point to the way he was with Sansa. I know some people aren't bothered by it or find it romantic but in an early GoT chapter he was really needlessly cruel to her, told her a horrible story about his childhood she hadn't asked for, then threatened to kill her if she told anyone. For some reason that always stuck with me and I could never like Sandor after that.
Steven Halter
86. stevenhalter
CarpeComputer@84:That could certainly be the case. I lean towards them being different people but it could easily go either way. Being the same would account for the total vanishing of Syrio.
Captain Hammer
87. Randalator
@83 Alisonwonderland

The problem is that half of the men mentioned in the quote are also sorta kinda dead now. Maybe GRRM is dropping us a hint here, but not the one we want?
88. Maddy1990
@85 I'm by no means a 'SanSan' shipper and I totally get the creepy vibes, but Sandor in his own way actually did quite a bit to try and protect Sansa. I'm not saying his behaviour is always OK, but in this morally grey universe you could do a lot worse than the Hound. I never really thought there was a romantic subtext, more that he recognised the innocence and naivete in Sansa that he used to have and both likes that and wants to beat it out of her to try and protect her. He clearly doesn't always express it in the healthiest way, but Sandor clearly has a bit of a soft spot for the Stark girls and I always thouht his dynamic with both of them was really interesting.
89. CarpeComputer
@ 85. Dragonriding Moogle

I agree that this scene in GoT with Sandor was quite creepy, but bear in mind that he was drunk after the party, annoyed at his brother again and in a very bad mood because this tourney represents everything he hates, i.e. fancy play-fighting in flower ornamented armour instead of the real thing. Then he has to escort this girl whose life philosophy can be described by "OMG Jeoffrey is just like Aemon the Drgonknight!!!" Old nan would say "Oh, my sweet summer child" and drunken Sandor replied "look girl, my brother burnt my face and he is one of the more respected knights of the realm. Knights do bad things, grow up ASAP."

I am by no means a SanSan supporter (best case scenario imho would be Sansa marring the heir of Tyrells, as was planned by the Queen of Thornes), but I like Sandor and I didn't see anything bad per se that he did (I don't find killing a commoner charged with attacking the Crown Prince bad).
Anthony Pero
91. anthonypero

He didn't "kill a commoner charged with attacking the Crown Prince"

He rode down a scared ten year old boy and chopped him into peices like so much kindling when he could have easily scooped him up and carried him back to camp... then he laughed and joked about it.

And while Robert didn't seem to care for very long, Ned certainly thought it was sickening, and Robert at least seemed uncomfrotable with what the hound did, so please don't tell me its just how we roll in Westeros. The Hound is well named. He has a strong sense of loyalty but he doesn't exactly have the same definition of humanity as those around him. GRRM has shown us WHY that is, but lets not lose sight that the Hound is a monster. The fact that he chose to be loyal to Sansa and later Arya doesn't make him less of a monster. It just made him THEIR monster for a time.
92. DougL
Thankfully we won't be waiting 5-6 years for Leigh's look forward in the future like when I had to wait for the books, but I must admit this entry has dulled my enjoyment of this who Read because I was so looking forward to it, and not it has passed and wasn't up my alley in terms of my expectations.
93. Asbjorn
@83 Um, hello, MAJOR SPOILER (roll over for which detail i'm talking about) that Jon is lord commander.
Deana Whitney
94. Braid_Tug
Re: Syrio - I thought he was killed while Arya got away?
Along with most of the Stark's retainers in KL.
If he had been using a real steel blade, he would be alive. But the wooden practice sword was not enough to injure all the guys who came to capture Arya.
Marie Veek
95. SlackerSpice
@94: We don't know, as he never gets mentioned by any other characters (apart from Arya when she refers to his lessons.)

Also, in the book, Syrio does manage to do a great deal of damage to the Lannister soldiers by deliberately aiming for the weak points in their armor, and only runs into trouble because Meryn Trant is wearing plate armor.
Steven Halter
96. stevenhalter
Yeah, Arya escapes before we find out exactly what happens. An easy inference is that Syrio was killed after his practice sword breaks but we don't know that. No one ever points out his head on the castle walls or anything.
97. spoiler_police
Man, this might be the worst week ever for spoilers in the comments, particularly since none of them seem to be edited or reported. Oh well Leigh.
Bridget McGovern
98. BMcGovern
@97: There have been various spoilers flagged, unpublished, and whited out. If you feel that there are other egregious spoilers in the thread, please feel free to flag and/or follow up in the spoiler thread!
Leigh Butler
99. leighdb
Hey guys,

Rest assured I've probably missed any spoilers in the comment thread, as I've sort of defaulted to letting time pass for any problematic comments get flagged and deleted before I read them.

In other news, I regret to say that there will be no new ROIAF post today, as I have been sick for the last week or so, and it has come to a head in the last 24 hours. Bronchitis = NOT FUN. I promise plenty of commentary next week, though! Cheers!
Rob Munnelly
100. RobMRobM
Bummer, Leigh. Perhaps you should take the time while you're on the couch to watch the ten episode first season of BBC America's Orphan Black, if you haven't already. That will help you recover. Incredibly addictive, wonderful show that will turn you into the latest fan starstruck over the mindblowing performance of lead actress Tatiana Maslany.

In a more on point note, the next two ASOS chapters have related content and go well together, so here's hoping....

Edit - and I get the hunny. Awesome.
Bridget McGovern
102. BMcGovern
@101: I've unpublished your comment. Leigh is unwell--you might not like the pace of the reread, but there's no reason to be rude.
103. Anon4
@102 I'm sorry. I didn't think I was being rude. That said, you can choose to remove it if you feel the need to, I won't argue about it.
Deana Whitney
104. Braid_Tug
Leigh, I hope you feel better soon!
Bronchitis = NOT FUN = very true!
Hope you don't lose your voice along with everything else.
106. DougL
Take very good care of yourself Leigh, I had that when I was 13 or so and...umm, you know, a young sporty lad didn't take it very seriously and well, just take your time heh
107. GarrettC
Bronchitis and I are old friends, though he hasn't visited in quite a few years. It's just as well, though. He only dirtied up the place up, and every now and then he'd invite his friend Pneumonia without asking first, and that guy is a TOTAL drip.

Get well, Leigh.
108. tsgeisel
No fair! You must create art to *my* schedule! Sickness is no excuse!

But, seriously, get well, be well and I'll look forward to next week.
Chris Nelly
109. Aeryl
For you, Leigh

Hello bronchitis, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a mucus softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the blurred vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of whooping and weeping
Tricia Irish
110. Tektonica
Not fun, all that coughing and barking. Exhausting. Be kind to yourself!
Stephen Brennan
111. DragonRaven
I hope you get well soon Leigh. I look forward to reading your next blog post :-).
112. Sweet Brown
Bronchitis? Ain't nobody got time for that!
113. noodles
Why are there only one chapter being recapped each week instead of two like there used to be? This is taking forever.
Chris Nelly
114. Aeryl
Depending on the chapter being covered, I like it when she does one. It can be frustrating when you are REALLY anticipating Leigh's reaction and you don't get it, but with one chapter she does a lot more snark and analysis, which is why I read these, not for the speed in which she accomplishes it.
115. olethros
To all the folks complaining about pace...
Neil Gaiman's Journal: Entitlement issues...
Anthony Pero
117. anthonypero

I always found it the height of irony that people complained about the pace of this reread, lol. I mean, seriously, what the heck are they in a hurry for? Its not like she isn't going to finish two or three years before the next book comes out.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
118. AlirozTheConfused
Well, I, for one

have the oh-pin-eye-hun

that I'd like to see Leigh read

something else, so speed

is important; there are so many other books

on which I'd love to see her reactions and skeptical looks.

Books that are better by far than this one

like "The King's Shadow" I love that a ton

it's by Elizabeth Alder, an author I love

and, well, Leigh could also read Lonesome Dove

which is basically ASOIAF in the Texas Sun

(until they, wait, no, that's a spoiler

I'd have to summon Leonard Euler

to whack me upside the head

but I can't take this to the spoiler thread)

Or The Westing Game, a brilliant thrill

with mystery and puzzles and an old man's will

She calls us her chickies; so maybe mother hen

could read The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen

a book that is lovely, a book that is sweet

a book that is poignant and simply a treat

a book with despair and a book with joy

or maybe The Maltese Falcon, oh boy

you've got to love that one, Joel Cairo's the man!

but yeah, I'd like to see Leigh finish the span

of ASOIAF, and then read a different novel

but for that to happen, I would have to grovel.
Mary Stallworth
119. Dilecta
Have finally caught up! Like Leigh, I was relatively unspoiled for ASoIaF, other than the big brouhahas that HBO audiences made over Ned's death and the Red Wedding (I wasn't sure *whose* wedding it would be - hence, my great trepidation while I was reading about the Sansa/Tyrion nuptials. Once that had passed, I figured out who it would be).

I have read these three books (and Leigh's Read) in a little under a month. I got many of the clues that Leigh missed and missed many that she got. It was kind of cool to have a "fellow-traveller", so to speak.

Now that we are "on the same page", I can't figure out how to have a similar experience seeing as Leigh's pace will be much slower now (Not really, but it will seem so).

I am sure that I will finish ASoS before Leigh, but not sure if I will go on to FFC yet; however, I know once I do start, I'll move much faster than Leigh does. I feel like I need a break to kind of process it all. I am also rather run-down by them. GRRM is an inimitable wordsmith, but I'm kind of tired of things "drinking the light" and people being too anything "by half".

More than that, I don't see much good in the future for any of my favorite characters (those still alive, anyway) and for me, the fantasy genre has always been a bit about seeing the world how it "should be". Right now, I see no hope of a righting of all the wrongs and frankly, that's so much like the world I currently live in, that right now I don't see much "fantasy".

Maybe it's the lack of sleep I've had in the last month ploughing through these books, but right now, I am unsure about continuing - despite how much I love GRRM's writing. I am not looking for rainbows and unicorns but I guess I'd like to see some justice.

*shrug* Maybe things will look after some sleep, but I doubt it.
Chris Nelly
120. Aeryl
Before you decide, finish this book. I've stated before, IMO, this one has the MOST satisfying ending, such that I couldn't WAIT to move on to AFFC.

I've talked about this in the spoiler thread, but I'm having a harder time REreading than I ever had with other books, just because knowing where things go doesn't alleviate the pain and shock of it, like say a reread of Harry Poter would.

Welcome to the Read!
Mary Stallworth
121. Dilecta
@Aeryl - Thanks for the welcome! I definitely intend to finish this book. I will finish ASoS before Leigh does because I don't think I can slow down to one or two chapters a week after racing through the way have for the past 3 weeks. I just doubt that enough "justice" (for lack of a better word) will happen in these last few chapters to make me want to continue right away.

In re: HP: I think the difference for me is that even though the "Big Bad" was still looming, smaller wrongs were put to rights along the way - which kept hope alive. With ASoIaF, there hasn't been much reason to hope. Tyrion's tenure as the Hand was the closest thing to real justice we've seen and look how jacked-up *that* has turned out!

Again, it could be the lack of sleep. I hope it is.
Rob Munnelly
122. RobMRobM
Dileta - also welcome.
When ASOS is over, Leigh will move to the first two "Dunk and Egg" novellas, set in Westeros about 80 years before ASOIF, before starting AFFC.

D & E novellas are about a young, illiterate very tall knight from the Flea Bottom slums in Kings Landing and his feisty squire. The first is called The Hedge Knight" and the second is "The Sworn Sword." Both are delightful, especially the first one. Will be a nice "palate cleanser" for you after reading the main books.

You should be able to find D & E online or you can get them out of the library where they are compiled in various novella collections. The Hedge Knight can be found in Legends, a collection of novellas edited by Robert Silverberg or in Dreamsongs, a collection of George Martin's shorter works. The Sworn Sword can be found in Legends II, also edited by Silverberg.

Note: The third D & E, The Mystery Knight, can be found in the Warriors collection of novellas, edited by George Martin and Gardner Dozois. Leigh is teed up to read that after AFFC. There are hopes that a fourth D & E will be out by the time she finishes. There is also another GRRM novella that is being published later this year dealing with the original Dance of the Dragons 200 years before the principal series. We haven't talked yet with Leigh how to fit that in.
Mary Stallworth
123. Dilecta
@RobM - Thank you for the welcome! I plan to finish ASoS in the next couple of days. Not sure which way I will go from there. I was in the middle of Quo Vadis when I picked up AGoT and it's still waiting. May also do as you suggest and do D & E. Or may just plow into AFfC. I definitely should get some real sleep either way.
Anthony Pero
124. anthonypero
I found the Dunk & Egg stories far more satisfying than the series itself. Sometimes I think GRRM gets lost in his own deconstruction. I think he enjoys the D&E novels more.
125. Sindragosa
I think 'The Mystery Knight' should be read before AFfC and ADwD. It re-contextualizes many details that otherwise seem throwaway.
Rob Munnelly
126. RobMRobM
@125 - I'd view it as critical before ADWD, and nice before AFFC. We had this discussion with Leigh and she had a strong preference to split the D and E's into two reading chunks before and after AFFC. At least Mystery Knight gets done before ADWD.
Steven Halter
127. stevenhalter
I've got no idea what to expect from the D&E other than what has been said here. Given that they sound fun, but splitting them and getting into AFFC sounds like a good plan to me.
No hurry here--lots of good books coming out soon.
If anyone is interested, I'm currently finishing "Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (very good SF), just about to start "Parasite" by Mira Grant and very much looking forward to the release of "Something More Than Night" by Ian Tregillis.
Rob Munnelly
128. RobMRobM
Can't spell delightful without D and E.

I've been reading Cherryh (Downbellow Station, Cyteen, Regenesis) and Banks (Consider Phebius).
Anthony Pero
129. anthonypero
I just finished Sarah Maas' first two novels. Pretty good epic fantasy. A bit formulaic, but very well written, especially for someone so young.

Also reading the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson.
130. justmy2cents
So what's so mysoginistic about "All men must die"? It's not a sex reference, but a comprehensive reference, which are done in male form. It's no more mysoginistic than "All men are mortal". And even if it were a sex reference (which it isn't), that would still not make it mysoginistic. I do not think that word means what you think it means.
131. SerMarcosTargaryen
One thing stood out during Arya's conversation with the captain: "We saw a dozen pirate ships making north as we rounded Crackclaw point, and I have no wish to meet them again." Could this pirate ships been Stannis and his army making their way to the Bay of Seals in order to attack the Rayder's army in the last Jon chapter??? Maybe Davos had the idea of making the ships look like pirate ships since he knows about such things. Anyways at the same time it might be nothing but 12 ships seems a somewhat large fleet and let's remember how that in a previous chapter, I think it was a Jaime chapter, Tywin entertains the idea of attacking Dragonstone since they heard the news that most of Stannis's fleet have gone missing.
Chris Nelly
132. Aeryl
@131, Considering Sallador Saan IS a pirate, there was no "making them look like pirates" they were actual pirate ships.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
133. AlirozTheConfused
Unless Sallador Saan isn't a pirate, and he's just pretending to be a pirate!
134. SerMarcosTargaryen
Woah woah ok ppl calm down don't get those panties in a bunch, totally forget about Salladhor Saan, thx for reminding me lol

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