Thu
Nov 14 2013 2:00pm
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 51

George R R Martin A Song of Ice and Fire 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 51 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 78 (“Samwell”) and Chapter 79 (“Jon”).

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 Tor.com. 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 78: Samwell

What Happens
Samwell knows that Stannis is angry, and cannot understand why the red woman Melisandre seems so interested in him, when he is only at this audience to assist Maester Aemon. Stannis demands to know why the brothers have not yet chosen a new Lord Commander, and Bowen Marsh explains that no one has achieved two-thirds of the vote yet. Stannis tells them he doesn’t have time for their delays, and Slynt sycophantically opines that his royal counsel would be most useful in their deliberations. This angers some of the others, and Aemon points out calmly that the Night Watch has always chosen their own leader.

Stannis then opines Slynt would make a terrible Lord Commander, pointing out his history of selling promotions for bribes. Slynt protests that that is lies, but Stannis replies that he saw the evidence, and Slynt would have been executed had he been king instead of Robert. Aemon points out that a man’s past transgressions are wiped clean when he joins the Watch, and Ser Deny Mallister further points out that the Watch cannot help Stannis in his contest for the throne.

Stannis assures him that he does not require that, but then adds that he does want their castles (excepting Eastwatch, Castle Black, and the Shadow Tower), as well as the Gift from them. Bowen Marsh protests that the Gift was given to the Watch in perpetuity; Cotter Pyke asks what he means to do with it, and Stannis replies “ to make better use of it than you.” He intends to restore the other ruins on the Wall; Melisandre adds that theirs is a war “for life itself,” and if they fail, the world dies. Aemon asks Melisandre, if it is “the war for the dawn” she speaks of, then where is the promised prince? Melisandre answers that he stands before them.

“Stannis Baratheon is Azor Ahai come again, the warrior of fire. In him the prophecies are fulfilled. The red comet blazed across the sky to herald his coming, and he bears Lightbringer, the red sword of heroes.”

Sam notes that the declaration seems to make Stannis uncomfortable, and Stannis brusquely dimisses them all except Aemon and Samwell, to Sam’s shock. When the others are gone, Stannis asks about Sam’s slaying of the Other with the dragonglass dagger. Melisandre calls it “frozen fire,” and is not surprised it is anathema to these “cold children.” Stannis tells Sam he has ordered the mining of obsidian to begin on Dragonstone, where there are rich deposits of the mineral. Sam notes nervously that the dagger shattered when he tried to stab a wight with it; Melisandre replies that wights are only “dead flesh,” while the Others are something more.

Stannis then asks about Sam and the wildling girl’s passage through the Black Gate at Nightfort, and reveals that he intends to make that castle his new seat, and so orders Sam to show it to him. Sam doesn’t know if it will open for a man not of the black, but agrees. Aemon asks to see Lightbringer, Stannis’s sword. Stannis points out that Aemon is blind, but Aemon replies that Sam will be his eyes. Stannis reluctantly draws it, and Sam tells Aemon how the sword glows “like sunshine on water.” Stannis dismisses them, and warns that the Watch had better have chosen a commander by nightfall.

As they walk back to Aemon’s chambers, Aemon comments that he felt no heat from the sword, and Sam confirms that the scabbard that held it was not scorched or blackened. Sam asks if there is anything Aemon can do about the choosing, but Aemon says that as a maester, he cannot interfere. Sam asks if he, Sam, could.

Aemon turned his blind white eyes toward Sam’s face, and smiled softy. “Why, I don’t know, Samwell. Could you?”

Sam thinks he must, despite his fear, and assures himself that he is braver now than he had been. He goes to Cotter Pyke first, but though Pyke admits he doesn’t actually want the job, he dismisses out of hand the idea of bowing to Mallister, saying they need a fighter to stand up to the Others and Stannis both. Sam asks if he could support someone else, then, but Pyke laughs and says there is no one else he can think of.

Sam goes to Ser Denys Mallister next, who greets Sam courteously, but will not countenance the idea of supporting an ironborn commoner like Pyke for Lord Commander, nor can he endorse either Bowen Marsh or an “upjumped butcher’s whelp” like Slynt. Sam blurts that there is another, trusted by Mormont, Halfhand, and Noye, son of a lord and brother to a king. Mallister concedes that that man would be more suitable than the others, but still thinks he himself is the better choice. Sam then lies, and tells him that Stannis intends to name Pyke if no one is chosen by tonight. Mallister says he must think on this, and dismisses Sam.

Sam is terrified at what he’s done, but soldiers on, and returns to Pyke, to make much the same pitch for Jon, except this time emphasizing that he is a bastard. Pyke is pleased at how that would stick in Mallister’s craw, but still thinks he himself would be better, and “any fool” can see that.

“Any fool,” Sam agreed, “even me. But… well, I shouldn’t be telling you, but… King Stannis means to force Ser Denys on us, if we do not choose a man tonight. I heard him tell Maester Aemon that, after the rest of you were sent away.”

Commentary
Oh ho ho!

Why, Samwell, you sneaky sneaker, you! I heart you lots.

And y’all, make no mistake, the little game Sam is attempting here isn’t just brave, it’s straight-up ballsy. Which I really hope that someone gets around to bloody telling Sam someday, because AGGH you are not a coward SHUT UP.

Will it work? Well, we’ll see, won’t we. But either way, doesn’t change the brass it takes to try it.

I suppose there’s a debate to be had over whether what Sam’s doing is unethical. My immediate instinct is to say it’s not, but then, I have a vested interest in backing the same pony Sam is backing, so my opinion is rather suspect. When you put it into the context of “would I be okay with Sam spreading lies to bolster the vote for his candidate” if I didn’t also support that candidate, it’s probably a different thing, isn’t it?

But, well, I suppose it is kind of also on Pyke and Mallister for believing Sam’s unsubstantiated word on what transpired between himself, Stannis, and Aemon in the first place. I’m not sure, admittedly, how they could have cross-checked his report (other than by asking Aemon, of course), but I’m just saying, you believe hearsay at your own peril, especially when you’re in politics of any kind. Maybe that doesn’t make it better, but anyone who thinks politics isn’t a veritable quagmire of ethical gray areas clearly hasn’t been paying attention.

Speaking of Aemon, his little comment here about Stannis’s sword’s lack of natural heat definitely has me raising an eyebrow or two. The immediate presumption, of course, is that Aemon, as a maester and Very Old Guy, has access to legends/accounts/whatever of the Chosen One’s magical destiny sword that most people don’t, and furthermore, that those accounts mention something about the sword being hot as well as flame-y. Which Stannis’s sword is not, implying that it is a imitation rather than the real thing.

I will attempt to contain my shock. Yep, shock contained, moving on.

And Stannis totally knows it, too. There’ve been hints of his lack of faith in his own Chosen-ness all throughout his story arc, and there’s just more of it here, when Stannis looks actively uncomfortable when Melisandre declares him Messiah Boy to the Watch. Granted, he could just be modest, but I’m pretty sure it’s discomfort with the entire idea, not just squirming under scrutiny. I mean, he may not have been king before the succession (and has been only debatably king of anything since then), but he was still raised in a noble-to-royal family environment. Which is a situation in which modesty, self-effacement, and a dislike of being in the public eye are not generally considered virtues, and trained pretty ruthlessly out of you at a young age. Or so I imagine, but I don’t think I’m being outlandish in thinking so.

Anyway, my point being, the signs all point to Stannis’s status as the One True Savior of Everything is probably at least partially carefully crafted bullshit, and that Stannis knows it. (Whether Melisandre knows it too is… debatable. It’s amazing how far delusion will get you, after all.)

It’s… kind of awesome, though, that even knowing that, Stannis is trying to save the world anyway, isn’t it. Huh.

(Also, I chortled that Stannis said right to Slynt’s face that he was a dishonest incompetent dickwad. I have many issues with Stannis, but sometimes you really have to love him.)

“We’ll defend the Wall to the last man,” said Cotter Pyke.

“Probably me,” said Dolorous Edd, in a resigned tone.

*snort*

Ah, Dolorous Edd, how you make me LOL. Never change.

 

Chapter 79: Jon

What Happens
Jon spars with Iron Emmett, wrestling internally with Stannis’s offer, and flashes back to play fighting with Robb at Winterfell, and how Robb had told him he couldn’t pretend to be Lord of Winterfell even though he could pretend to be any other legendary hero, and beats Emmett almost to a pulp without realizing it. He apologizes and retreats to the armory, and thinks of Lady Catelyn, and how she had always looked at him as if he did not belong there, and imagines that the stone kings and the weirwood are saying the same to him. He thinks that Winterfell belongs to the old gods, and he cannot tear up the grove as Stannis commands.

He overhears Bowen Marsh and Alliser Thorne making the pitch for Slynt to Othell Yarwyck, insinuating that Tywin Lannister will surely defeat Stannis in the end anyway; they see Jon and stop, but Jon tells them coldly to go on with their plotting, and leaves. He wanders through the passage in the Wall to the other side, and considers what it will mean for him if Slynt is elected. He thinks that the choice seems easy in that light, and thinks of having a son of his own, of fostering Mance and Gilly’s sons with him. He admits to himself that he has always wanted Winterfell, deep down. Then he realizes he is sensing Ghost’s presence, and leaps up to greet the wolf joyfully. He looks at Ghost’s white and red-eyed coloring, like the weirwood, and thinks that Ghost belongs to the old gods, and realizes he has his answer.

He goes back to the castle and to the dining hall, where a furious debate is in progress. Pyp sees Jon and whistles shrilly, silencing the hall, and they watch him and Ghost enter silently. Thorne finally remarks that “the turncoat returns,” and Slynt begins shouting about beasts and wargs and the creature that killed Halfhand. Jon asks what is going on, and Aemon replies that his name has been put forth as Lord Commander. Jon grins, thinking it a joke, and asks by whom.

It was Dolorous Edd Tollett who stood. “By me. Aye, it’s a terrible cruel thing to do to a friend, but better you than me.”

Slynt begins sputtering that they should be hanging Jon, not electing him Lord Commander, but Pyke and Mallister shout him down, and the hall erupts in arguing again, until Thorne leaps up and demands that Othell Yarwyck be allowed to speak. Othell rises and says he is withdrawing from the race, and that he was going to say that those who supported him should vote for Slynt, but now he thinks maybe Snow would be a better choice. Slynt and Thorne look apoplectic, and a call goes up for a vote. When the kettle for containing the ballots is opened, Lord Mormont’s raven flies out of it, and lands on Jon’s shoulder, croaking, “Snow, Snow, Snow.”

After that, the vote is a landslide for Jon, and he is surrounded by well-wishers. Pyke threatens to “rip his liver out and eat it” if he messes up, and Mallister asks him not to make Mallister regret that now his time will never come to lead the Watch. Jon feels as if he is in a dream until Pyp and Grenn tell him it was Sam’s doing, though Sam insists he had nothing to do with the raven. Jon calls them “mad fools.”

“Us?” said Pyp. “You call us fools? We’re not the ones who got chosen as the nine-hundredth-and-ninety-eighth Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. You best have some wine, Lord Jon. I think you’re going to need a lot of wine.”

So Jon Snow took the wineskin from his hand and had a swallow. But only one. The Wall was his, the night was dark, and he had a king to face.

Commentary
HAHAHA BADASS.

Oh, wow, that is awesome. SUCK IT, Slynt and Thorne, because you got SERVED. Ahahahaha hee hee I dance around in schaedenfreudical glee. How you like Jon Snow NOW, beeches? THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT. EVERYBODY SAY YEAH, YEAH!

*cabbage patch*

Ahhh, that was nice. I was so terrified most of the way through this chapter that Jon was going to take Stannis’s offer, which was just the worst idea for any number of reasons, so this was a truly gratifying payoff. Jon is Lord Commander! Which is probably going to be a terrible job Real Soon Now! But it is awesome anyway!

Also, DOLOROUS EDD IS MY FAVORITE. I always said it! You saw it here first!

Also also, GHOST IS BACK OMG FINALLY YAY BUT WHAT THE HELL. Seriously, where has he been all this time? Are we ever going to find out? I hope so!

Though I guess now we will have to conclude that one of Ghost’s warging superpowers is awesome dramatic timing, because I have a mental image of Jon strolling into that hall with this giant-ass scary ethereal-looking direwolf, that probably all the other guys had forgotten about by now, with him, and yeah, even if I wasn’t his number one fangirl I’d probably vote for him then too. As Eddie Izzard once observed, when it comes to politics, it’s 70% about how you look, 20% how you sound, and only 10% is about what you say. And as looks go, having a giant direwolf at your side and a Poe-esquely portentous raven on your shoulder is… pretty damn impressive.

The raven thing is such classic ASOIAF, too, because it was clearly the tipping point to getting Jon elected, and yet we will never really know whether it was the magical portentous omen everyone took it to be, or just a fantastic coincidence. Which, certain unmistakably magical elements aside, tends to be how Martin rolls when it comes to the “fantasy” part of his epic fantasy. It has not escaped my notice how often those “ambiguously magical” magical moments tend to be concerned with fate and/or destiny, and the dispensation thereof.

As a literary device, I kind of tend to like it, personally, even when I’m annoyed by it. I get the impression that some people feel like it caters to the “literary” crowd, who as a general rule vastly prefer their “magical” moments to be able to be safely slotted into the allegorical/symbolic/metaphorical category, instead of the “no, this is magic magic, suck it up” route your average fantasy ghetto series generally takes, but in a weird way I feel like maintaining that ambiguity actually makes this kind of thing more powerful than if you knew for sure it was of supernatural origin.

Faith, after all, (which is strongly tied up with that whole fate/destiny thing) depends not on confirmation of a belief, but on the affirmation of that belief despite the lack of evidence for it. Confirmation, in fact, is generally not wanted, because not needing concrete evidence for a belief is actually pretty much the entire point of the exercise. This is a thing I tend to find incredibly problematic in real life, but rather adore in fiction, which probably makes me either inherently contrary or inadvertently hypocritical, but there you go.

I have layers, okay? I don’t always have to make sense! So there, nyah!

With her deep blue eyes and hard cold mouth, [Lady Catelyn] looked a bit like Stannis. Iron, he thought, but brittle.

I found this observation of Jon’s to be… startling. Because I find the “brittle iron” descriptor to be marvelously apropos when it comes to Stannis, but it had never once occurred to me to apply it to Catelyn. Jon’s view of her is, unavoidably, rather prejudiced—and quite understandably so, since I’m pretty sure very few people could manage to maintain an objective view of someone who blatantly hates them—but even so, I kind of feel like this assessment of her is unfair.

Don’t get me wrong, I will certainly admit that Catelyn had issues, and in fact her treatment of Jon was probably my single biggest sticking point with her. But calling her “brittle,” in the same way Stannis is, just seems wrong to me. She was rigid on some things (i.e. Jon), and she made a number of debatably bad calls over the course of the series, but she also had the ability to adapt to her circumstances in a way that I think Stannis never could have.

Partially this is just sheer circumstance of gender, because women in heavily patriarchal societies are expected (and forced) to bend and adapt to circumstances beyond their control in ways men never are (the entire merry-go-round of her marriage to Brandon-oops-no-wait-Eddard Stark being a prime example), but it goes beyond that, in my opinion. With regards to her interactions with Brienne, Tyrion, and Jaime in particular, Catelyn displayed an ability to think outside the box (for better or for worse) that I rather doubt Stannis would be capable of.

Problematic? Yes? Brittle? No. Not in my book. Though I suppose one could make an argument about whether her crushing grief over the loss of her family wouldn’t have gotten her there eventually. But I guess we’ll NEVER KNOW, WILL WE.

*grumblemumbleRedWeddinggrumble*

But anyway, Jon Snow is now Head Brother in Charge and that is stupid awesome. I am officially Pleased—at least until I find out why it totally sucks, of course. But UNTIL THEN I WILL BASK. Nyah!


And that’s my spiel, lemon peel! Have a week, and we polish off this puppy next Thursday!

108 comments
Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
Aemon's not only a Maester, he's a Targarayan and well steeped in the prophecy-laded hero mythos. Don't you remember Dany's walk though the House of the Undying, with a Rheagar looking dude looking at a baby and saying to the effect of "He is the prince that was promised. His will be the song of ice and fire" and all that? (I could make other House of the Undying-related commentary that could be on point, but will hold off until later....Worth another read though at some point.)
Chris Nelly
2. Aeryl
HAHAHAHAHAHA!

OK, you just said something really funny, but I can't tell you what.

These chapters were awesome. Sam's a super smart Badass, which is better than a super strong Badass any day of the week, IMO(which is why Jane is ALWAYS better than Thor). And Jon got the Wall! Talk about your mixed blessings. He ensured that it won't fall into the hands of Slynt, but on the other hand, HE HAS THE WALL. That job's gonna suck.
DougL
3. DougL
Well, two chapters left before a long assed gap, thankfully we don't have to wait for Leigh to cover the books though.

Thanks for the recap.

The Jon thing is seen as predictable by so many people but in a series where there have been so many surprises, being the one that works out is unusual in itself.
Margot Virzana
3. LuvURphleb
* high pitched rasp comes from throat............. .............……*
So many things I want to say but cannot say ( going over to the spoiler thread is just too much work) so ill continue with the high pitch rasp.
DougL
4. Fehler
OMG, reading this analysis knowing whats going to shortly happen is freaking me out.
Michael Duran
5. MRHD
Another entertaining recap Leigh, kudos. And keep calm everyone, the recap will get to the last juicy bits of ASoS soon enough.:)
DougL
6. a1ay
forced)to bend and adapt to circumstances beyond their control in ways
men never are (the entire merry-go-round of her marriage to
Brandon-oops-no-wait-Eddard Stark being a prime example)

Well, bad example there, because of course that incident and its sequelae featured Ned having to bend to circumstances in a lot of ways too, such as 1) having to unexpectedly marry Cat, his brother's sort of widow, whom he wasn't especially fond of 2) having to unexpectedly take over running Winterfell after his father and older brother were killed 3) and having to unexpectedly fight in a massive rebellion against the King...
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
Stannis' good characteristics show up in this chapter. Telling Slynt off, ordering the mining of obsidian on Dragonstone before he has to abandon it, proposing an ambitious project of restaffing the empty forts so that they good guys have a chance if the Others' attack, good stuff. Of course, Jon now has to figure out what to do with an ambitious King who is certain to be ticked off at him for declining to rule from Winterfell, and whether he should say no to some or all of the demands. But...stay tuned until some time a year-plus from now after we finish AFFC and actually get into ADWD. Welcome to GRRM fandom, Leigh.

Re Sam as sneaky - sometime you'll have to look back at your initial chapter on Sam way back in AGOT. You were concerned that he'd do something stupid and get Jon killed. Not so much, as it turns out.

The Catelyn as brittle discussion is really interesting. One could argue that she "broke" and doomed her son when she let Jaime go. I'd argue she did.
DougL
8. KingsGambit
Yay! Two chapters!

Great review as always. I think a lot of the good stuff in these books tends to be annoying as well. The stupid things some characters do and the fact that heroes can just die halfway through a book are sometimes enough to make me put the book down for all of 5 minutes, but they make the story great as well.

Things so rarely tend to work out for the best in these books, that the few times they do are all the more rewarding and fun to read about.

The whole Azor Ahai / tPhwP identity is one of the things that's most theorised over and I don't think I know a single (living and a few dead ones for that matter) character who hasn't been mentioned as a candidate. My money is on Martin staying true to form and us never finding out unambiguously.
DougL
9. Black Dread
I loved how Stannis slapped down Slynt - calling him a corrupt liar in public right to his face.

I noticed Aemon's knowledge of Melisandre's religion too - wondered if it was uselss Maester knowledge or the official religion of the Targarayans - they are associated with fire after all.
Rob Munnelly
10. RobMRobM
@2 - wow, I didn't think about that. That is really, really funny. Next week can't come soon enough.
Chris Nelly
11. Aeryl
@9, It may once have been the Targ religion, but Baelor converted the Faith, and it's been that way ever since, IIRC.
DougL
12. cheem
I also think the "brittle Cat" discussion is interesting. It hints that the Cat we've seen for most of the series is not Cat as she normally would be. I mean, she was secure in her place as Lady of Winterfell until about a third of the way into the first book. Maybe all the events "broke" her and we see what happens as she is forced to improvise (I mean, her rush to King's Landing was rash and her arresting of Tyrion at the Crossroads was also an unusual thing). It will be interesting to see what happens to Stannis as things (inevitably) go pear-shaped for him.
DougL
13. Black Dread
Oh yeah - although a monarch paying lip-service to a state religion doesn't mean his whole family actually believes.
DougL
14. Contrarian
Targaryans are of the Seven. IIRC. Always have been.

I'm curious as to how the read for AFFC and ADWD is going to be done. I've seen reading orders on the web that has a chronilogical-non-spoiler method to read both books simultaneously. I actually started my series re-read that way about a month ago when I got to that point in the series. It's an interesting way to do it as the themes of both books/storylines are similar.
Rob Munnelly
15. RobMRobM
@14 - we floated that as a possibility for discussion, but Leigh and the Tor.com master crew passed on the opportunity. So we'll do two dunk and Egg novellas, then AFFC, then at least the third D and E, and then ADWD.
DougL
16. Black Dread
Hmmm - since Baelor converted, no dragons. Coincidence?
Sydo Zandstra
17. Fiddler
Stannis then opines Slynt would make a terrible Lord Commander, pointing out his history of selling promotions for bribes. Slynt protests that that is lies, but Stannis replies that he saw the evidence, and Slynt would have been executed had he been king instead of Robert.

Stannis assures him that he does not require that, but then adds that he does want their castles (excepting Eastwatch, Castle Black, and the Shadow Tower), as well as the Gift from them. Bowen Marsh protests that the Gift was given to the Watch in perpetuity; Cotter Pyke asks what he means to do with it, and Stannis replies “ to make better use of it than you.”

Heh, that is sooo Stannis. He got likeable in these chapters.


“We’ll defend the Wall to the last man,” said Cotter Pyke.
“Probably me,” said Dolorous Edd, in a resigned tone.
*snort*
Ah, Dolorous Edd, how you make me LOL. Never change.

It was Dolorous Edd Tollett who stood. “By me. Aye, it’s a terrible cruel thing to do to a friend, but better you than me.”

Dolouress Edd is my hero. You forgot the part where somebody tossed his name in for Lord Captain. Now that would have been a sight...


The raven thing is such classic ASOIAF, too,

Just wait until Oldtown starts sending out white ones.
(for the spoiler criers, this isn't one, people, get a grip)

Roll over for foreshadowing:


But I guess we’ll NEVER KNOW, WILL WE.

1. HAHAHAHA!
2. Be careful what you wish for.
Tabby Alleman
18. Tabbyfl55
The Catelyn as "brittle" discussion is a good one to have. I would argue that she qualifies as brittle. She couldn't bend to see that maybe Tyrion didn't try to have Bran killed. And yes, she finally broke when she gave up Jaime because she believed that Bran and Rickon were dead.

But here's another interesting discussion point: I don't think Stannis absolutely "knows" that he isn't the Promised One. I think he doubts it enough to be uncomfortable with Mel's certainty, and he knows that Mel has done some extra spin-doctoring to make him look like it. But I think Mel has him at least believing that there's a CHANCE that he actually is. I think if he knew for sure he wasn't, he would say so, because 1) I think he's that honorable, and 2) I think he's that serious about saving the world to not want to blow it by pretending to be something he's not. However, he probably bows to Mel's superior knowledge of such matters, because after all, she can have shadow assassin babies, and not that that makes her perfect, but I'm just saying, can you do it? No? Well then.
Marty Beck
19. martytargaryen
Thanks Leigh! That post was stupid...
stupid awesome!

And yeah, Edd is The Best.
DougL
20. o.m.
and furthermore, that those accounts mention something about the sword being hot as well as flame-y.
Everybody (well, everybody with wildfire and enough swords to waste) can make a hot flaming sword. Cold light effects, now, that's real magic.
Steven Halter
21. stevenhalter
Chapter 78 - Samwell: "Spare me your fawning, Janos." Good start there Stannis. :-)
That's a pretty good "Joinus or we all perish." speech from Mel, although it leaves the brothers a bit befuddled.
Ah, Aemon smells a fish in Stannis' sword I think.
Sam is trying to do something and get someone other than Janos elected. Good for Sam. Oooh, Sam is thinking of putting Jon forward. Very clever, telling each the opposite. Sam, you are the bravest person out there right now.
Tom Smith
22. phuzz
Well the Chosen One is clearly Dolorous Edd.
Oh shit! I should probably put a spoiler warning before that shouldn't I?

Also, in my head, Ghost has been off having awsome adventures of his own. Killing zombies, fighting bears, chasing rabbits (sireing baby dire-wolves), maybe even catching up with his brother.
But when anyone asks him about it, all he can do is put his head on one side and look quizzical. Ghost never makes a sound does he :(

Oh, and I always thought the raven was Sam's doing. I know he denies
it, but then lying to get his mate elected is quite out of character
anyway. Hiding a raven in a pot is well within his capabilities I think.
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
Chapter 79-Jon:A little sword practice and a little anger. Ha, it won't be Tywin who wins anything, but these people don't realize that at this point.
Ghost! Yay!
And now the Raven calling Snow! Well, that's an omen if I ever saw one
although I wonder who put the bird in the kettle and I think I'll cast a
glance towards Sam or Master Aemon there.
Well, that went very well. Sam claims he didn't put the raven in, but Aemon probably had some opportunity. Nice and ambiguous for us, but oh so swaying for the brothers.
Stannis may have wanted Jon as Lord of Winterfell, but I think he'll
live with him being Lord commander. I think that is a better path for
Jon, anyway. Although I still think that Robb's bequeathing his crown to Jon is going to come back and so Jon will get another chance at
Winterfell.
I think that I agree with Jon that Cat was a brittle person. She seemed very reactive, given to anger, jealousy and self interest. Rather like Stannis in some regards. She was never my favorite and it didn't really surprise me to have her story end at the wedding. Of course, Jon was a tad predisposed to see Cat in a bad light and since I like Jon rather more, so am I from that point of view.
Sydo Zandstra
26. Fiddler
@Tabbyfl55, 18

I think at this point in the story, Melisandre is convinced that stannis is the 'Prince'. And Martin writes from that angle. Kudos to him.
Adam S.
27. MDNY
Great read, Leigh. Not much to say in the spoiler-free post, but I love that you mentioned another personal favorite Dolorous Edd comment.
I like that Jon's reunion with Ghost continues the direwolves acting as compasses for the Stark kids.
Can't wait till next post...
DougL
28. AL411
Before the Targaryens converted to the Seven they worshipped the Valyrian gods. The dragons Balerion, Vhagar, and Meraxes were named after some of them.
DougL
29. Narvi
@11 No, the Valyrian Freehold had their own gods, though perhaps R'hllor came from the same root. Balerion the Black Dread and his sibling dragons were named after the old gods of Valyria. The Targaryens adopted the Seven at some point during their invasion.
Chris Nelly
30. Aeryl
@16, That's a hard call to make, the history of the Targ dragons is screwed up from what we've been given narratively. The ones Arya saw in GOT were "thousands of years old" but we know Aegon only conquered 300 years ago. And in that same Arya chapter, it's stated that the last of the Targ dragons was born like a hundred years ago. This jumble of numbers makes it hard to know, so far IIRC, exactly when the dragons stopped hatching.
Maiane Bakroeva
31. Isilel
"Stannis replies that he saw the evidence, and Slynt would have been executed had he been king instead of Robert."

Poor Ned _really_ didn't do his research, didn't he? There never was any chance of the City Watch backing him in his attempt to enthrone Stannis, paltry bribes or not...

RobMRobM @7:
One could argue that she "broke" and doomed her son when she let Jaime go. I'd argue she did.
I'd argue that there is zero textual evidence that Jaime's release had anything whatsoever to do with Robb's death.
People just like to blame Cat, because their idol Robb couldn't have possibly been at fault...
Or Edmure, for pulling out northern garrison at the Twins that was supposed to keep Walder Frey honest, in order to have them fight in the Battle of the Fords.

Narvi @ 29:

The Targaryens adopted the Seven at some point during their invasion.
No, they must have converted shortly after coming to Dragonstone, since idols of the Seven in the Dragonstone sept were made from the wood of the ships that they used to cross over from Valyria.
And it has been mentioned in ACoK, IIRC, that Aegon had prayed in that sept on the eve of his invasion of Westeros.
Chris Nelly
32. Aeryl
She did doom Robb when she freed Jaime. The Karstark bannermen abandoned him when that happened, signalling to Bolton and Frey that Robb was weakened, and now was the time to switch sides.

It was an understandable decision, but it had terrible consequences. I know people who are show-only and when that happened, they flat out stated that Robb had lost the war, both because of Cat and Robb's marriage.

Robb's not innocent in this, his violation of his vow plays a huge part. But, IMO, he could have recovered, if he hadn't been weakened further by the Karstark revolt.
Scott Silver
33. hihosilver28
@Isilel
I'm with RobM and Aeryl regarding Catelyn. Not that I hold Robb to be this infallible bastion. Robb made certain dooming errors as well, but to say that Catelyn played absolutelty no part in the events that led to the Red Wedding...seems to be wistful thinking as well.
Stefan Mitev
34. Bergmaniac
This here is one of the worst moments in the series for me. Even though we all knew it was going to happen at some point, Jon is such a fantasy cliche. Incredibly contrived and implausible. The trick Sam played on Cotter Pyke and Mallister wouldn't work on most 10 year old. Not to mention how absurd is that the Night Watch picked a 16 year old kid to lead them when they were facing possibly the biggest crisis of their existence. Oh, and the Starks have just been totally destroyed in the civil war (as far as anyone in the NW knew), so picking Ned's bastard was idiotic if the NW hoped to get any help from the rest of the realm apart from Stannis.

But it's Jon the Chosen One so as usual logic goes out of the window. What's equally annoying is that he gets rewarded for being passive yet again. Even the threat of execution if Slynt won couldn't motivate him to even vote himself, let alone campaign for some of the other candidates, or God forbid, himself (we can't have the Chosen One showing ambition, that just won't do).
Rafael
35. Ryamano
I think Ghost probably had adventures like the one Santa's Little Helper did during the Simpsons movie. If only Jon Snow could understand how damaged his pet wolf was:


Bart Simpson: Boy, you made it! But how?
Santa's Little Helper: I did things no dog should. They will haunt me forever
Rob Munnelly
36. RobMRobM
@34 -a huge percentage of NW commanders have been Starks or Stark bastards. Mormont acknowledged that implicitly when he picked Jon as steward to train for command. Perfectly understandable that, absent a clear consensus for a strong candidate, that the NW would go with a traditional candidate with the right bloodline and training. Not ridiculous at all, especially given the dearth of compelling alternatives.
Chris Nelly
37. Aeryl
@34, I completely disagree.

One, Jon WAS Mormont's chosen successor, everyone already knew that.

Two, the only reason it wasn't considered prior to Sam's interference, was because Jon wasn't running.

Three, Sam's trick worked, because neither man believed it, it was just that neither man wanted to back down and Sam gave them a way to save face.

SPOILERS! Don't SCROLL but Berg, this is for you

Referring to Jon as the Chosen One is getting into spoiler territory IMO, when discussion about Azor Ahai just started happening. Leigh's exhibitted no consideration to R+L=J, so implying Jon might be special, when all she's ever thought is that he's Ned's bastard, is getting close.
Stefan Mitev
38. Bergmaniac
@36 - But that was when the Starks were in power. Then it makes sense to choose Starks because the goodwill of Winterfell is crucial for the NW. But now the situation is reversed - the Starks are gone and their enemies are in power in the North and in the realm as a whole.
Caleb Mauer
39. calebm
Beheadings loom like the sword of Highlander
when Janos Slynt speaks words of slander
wow that John is the Lord Commander
with a Head swelled big like the lord of Mander

Its no wonder sam has balls
he's out smarting the crows
sneaky enough to go under walls
and loyal enough to save his bros

Samwell is vanquishing foes
and saving his bros
The smartest of the crows
gettin all the icey hoes
cause sam knows
how to mess with the pros

A clever trap he composed
That'd leave even Aegon hosed

George R R Martin wrote
that the crows took a vote
A metaphorical moat
keeping John afloat
though not in a boat
but a black coat

Jon Snow's more dope than vargo Hoat
and consumes more grass than a meadow goat
Stefan Mitev
40. Bergmaniac
Anyone who's read fantasy can see right from the beginning of the first book that Jon is a classic fantasy Chosen One. His background, his storyline and his whole personality is straight from "How to make a cliched fantasy hero 101". I don't see it as a spoiler at all.

Jon was supposedly Mormont's handpicked successor - so what? Given that Mormont's idiotic idea for a full scale ranging mission North was a major reason for the Watch's troubles, I don't see how that helps Jon's candidacy at all. Mormont was a total failure as a commander. He got most of the rangers killed and got himself killed by his own men. Besides, Jon served Mormont for what, 2 months in total? it's not like he had time to learn much.
Caleb Mauer
41. calebm
@Bergmaniac

George Martin knows his fantasy cliches. If John is one, it is a calculated, intentional move on the part of this very clever author.
Chris Nelly
42. Aeryl
Berg, White out text below

@40, I don't disagree with your assessment of Jon's character as Chosen One. I've just never seen ANYONE call him that, with the proper capitalization, until this very post, when Stannis is referred to as the Chosen One. I'm just saying I think you are going to have some people make unintentional connections is all.
Tabby Alleman
43. Tabbyfl55
I'd argue that there is zero textual evidence that Jaime's release had anything whatsoever to do with Robb's death.
The textual evidence, at least as I see it (without having the book handy to quote), are all the hints that Frey was acting to throw in with the Lannisters. If Jaime were still a captive, killing Robb and Cat would surely have meant Jaime's death. This would not have pleased Tywin, and Frey would have known that.
Maiane Bakroeva
44. Isilel
Aeryl @32:
She did doom Robb when she freed Jaime. The Karstark bannermen abandoned him when that happened, signalling to Bolton and Frey that Robb was weakened, and now was the time to switch sides.
What is your evidence for this, apart from wishful thinking? Bolton's bastard did sack Winterfell long before that point, after all, and we saw in one of Arya's PoV's in Harrenhal what signalled to Bolton and the Freys that it was time to switch sides - loss of Winterfell, "deaths" of Bran and Rickon, Lannister victory over Stannis at the Blackwater. They had a discussion about how Robb was lost and should bend the knee and Bolton mentioned that he was "not a man to be undone".

He followed up on this declaration by sending all the lords who may have been loyal to Robb in his host to attack Duskendale, where they were largely destroyed by Gregor Clegane and Randyll Tarly. Oh, and the best thing? Bolton fraudulently claimed that the orders came directly from Robb himself! So, yea, he was deeply into treason before Cat released Jaime or Robb married, even.
And then, of course, the news of Robb's marriage came, the Freys were furious, etc.

What is your textual evidence that Cat's release of Jaime had anything whatsoever to do with Robb's death at the Red Wedding? There is none. zero.

Did Cat play a role in the events that led to the Red Wedding? Yes, in the broad sense as far as her her actions and decisions contributed to the war. But there is no casual connection between her release of Jaime specifically and the Red Wedding. Not in the books.

Bergmaniac:

I hear you. Yet strange and outrageous stuff happened during some of the Papal elections, sometimes leading to elections of very unlikely candidates, so...
Chris Nelly
45. Aeryl
No, the discussion began when Robb married Jeyne, that's the chapter where the Frey brat cries about losing his princess(Arya) and Arya tells him off.

At the same time, Cat freed Jaime. Both events happen concurrently, and you cannot seperate the end results from either of the actions.

I'm leaving off the sacking of Winterfell, because it's spoilery, but suffice it to say, I think you are reading Bolton's response there wrong.
DougL
46. JaqenHghar
No, Jon sees right.

Thats his whole deal you duffus. Thats why Ghost doesnt make a sound. Only watches. Sees.

So does Jon.
He was always the one who saw the situation and people right. From nobles of the south to members of the watch to wildlings to Stannis and Melisandre.
One without a "voice" in the old Stark household, remember? Just listening orders. But seeing.
(of course, having luck and making good decisions is another matter)

-
Brittle in that descriptor doesnt carry the usual meaning of something breaking in pieces - as something weak. When you talk about Steel or Iron as metals... brittle is a tendency to stay firm and unmoving towards pressure, regardless of amount of it.... which tends to sometimes have... shattering consequences.

Both Catelyn and Stannis had this quality, him about his Kingdom, her about her Family. Therefore - additionally, her tragedies (or tears) actually have nothing to do with this "brittle Iron" term.

After all, men and women are not one dimensional beings nor is the term "Iron/Steel" meant as a sole descriptor of a person in these books. It just a comment on one side of someones personality. Not all of it.
Rob Munnelly
47. RobMRobM
Isilel - I'd put it this way. As a 16 year old, Robb always had to struggle to keep his North/Riverlands coalition together. Umber challenged him at the outset, others (including Bolton) maneuvered within the colation. His battle successes made him a leader to be feared, with the cherry on sundae being the capture of Jaime. This strengthened his hand at a cost of at least some increased tension within the group, especially relative to the Kartstarks who wanted him killed ASAP, but the group was able to hold together as a result of the successes.

Robb then suffered a series of blows, some self-inflicted (chooses Jeyne's honor over his own), some inflicted by allies (Edmure exceeding orders), some more or less totally unexpected (Theon departing from Ironborn tradition and striking inland for Winterfell and claiming to have killed Bran and Rickon). At this critical juncture, Catelyn throws a huge wrench into the alliance by letting Jaime go and, as his mother, not in position to be executed by Robb for treason. This weakened Robb's standing and also left him open to Lannister-sponsored treason among the dissenting or unscrupulous bannermen. That's what I meant when I said she "doomed" her son's chances. Robb was in a precarious spot, and Cat's decision broke the proverbial camel's back.
Chris Nelly
48. Aeryl
In addition, Bran and Rickon's deaths don't actually hurt Robb that much, politically. Yes, his male heirs are dead, but Sansa is next in line, and if they could have freed her, marrying her to a bannerman would only have made him stronger, by offering that bannerman a chance to be King of the North.
Stefan Mitev
49. Bergmaniac
Except that it's not true. The Red Wedding was going to happen regardless of whether Jaime was still a captive or not. Bolton and the Freys were planning it long before they knew about Robb not punishing Catelyn, the Karstark horse deserting, etc.

With Edmure, Catelyn and Sansa in the hands of the Lannisters/Freys, there was really no significant chance of whoever was left in charge of Riverun to execute Jaime after the RW.
Maiane Bakroeva
50. Isilel
Aeryl @45:

You are wrong. The discussion and Bolton sending fraudulent orders to the lords he wanted to feed to the Lannisters happened before the news of Robb's marriage reached Harrenhal. It is all in the same chapter, but that other stuff and Bolron going to hunt wolves happened before they got the news.
And Robb didn't even reach Riverrun until ASOS, so the Karstark thing happened later still.
See what I mean about your lack of textual evidence?

Tabbufl55 @43:

Well, we know that Cat was supposed to be taken alive and if Jaime had still been captive, I am sure that the Freys would have been damn careful to stick to the plan.
But what's your evidence that it would have made any difference in Robb's fate?
Seeing how both Edmure and Cat would have been hostages for Jaime's well-being.
Chris Nelly
51. Aeryl
@40, Also, the "so what" in re Mormont's successor, seems kind of a silly question, in this series. Succession is a HUGE deal, and no matter how bad the previous guy was, going with his pick is seen as pretty important by EVERYONE in Westeros.
Remember, this story is only taking place because these people got together and overthrew their Mad king from a line genetically predisposed to Madness. And then decided the MOST IMPORTANT feature in their new king, should be how much of this tainted blood he has.
Chris Nelly
52. Aeryl
@50, No it was before ARYA saw the reaction to the news, not before the Boltons or Freys got it.

At that time, it doesn't matter if Robb's in Riverrun or not, Karstark was when Cat freed Jaime. The Freys had already deserted. Bolton considers, starts covering his bets with the Lannisters, and when Karstark revolts, commits to betraying Robb.
Stefan Mitev
53. Bergmaniac
@51 - I don't see the connection between inheritance through bloodlines (what's done by the Westeros nobility) and Mormont choosing jon for possibly his eventual successor. Eventual being the key word here. he didn't expect to die so soon, plus there's a vote, which is (theoretically at least) fully democratic.

If you are a typical NW member, would you give much weight to Jeor Mormont's judgement when you consider who to vote for, after the disastrous ending of his term? I certainly wouldn't. Besides, he picked Jon because he was Ned's son and had a good education. No other reason, he didn't know him at all at the time.
Chris Nelly
54. Aeryl
You certainly wouldn't but YOU didn't grow up in a society where lines of succession are acceptable, god given. A ruler's chosen heir, and that's what Mormont was, a ruler, is considered SACROSANCT, no matter how disastrous their reign was. It's not something you or I can accept, because we don't pick our leaders that way.

It doesn't matter that the NW is a democratic institution, these people who are voting weren't raised in republics. They were raised in a monarchy, that's the only mode of thought they know.

And, in the end, I don't think that's the MOST important reason he was elected. The most important was that neither Mallister nor Pyke wanted Slynt, and Jon was someone they could accept AND allowed them to back down without one aceding to the other, which was the whole problem to start with. Sam gave them a chance to get what they wanted, Slynt away from the LC and neither as the LC.
Maiane Bakroeva
55. Isilel
Aeryl @52:

Look, you are just inventing things now. When the discussion happened, the Freys were regretful that things at the Blackwater went as they did, etc. Nobody mentioned Jaime's release or Robb's marriage, but Blackwater and loss of Winterfell as well as "deaths" of Bran and Rickon were referenced frequently as the reasons why Robb was finished and should bend the knee.

Then Bolton sent his fraudulent orders, went to hunt wolves and only _then_ did the raven with the news of Robb's marriage come. Arya actually saw it arrive. Boom, total mood change Freys furious, etc.

RobM@47:

Sigh. Freys were thinking that Robb lost the war and Bolton was commiting treason before Robb returned from the West or news of Jaime's release reached them. Re-read Arya's last chapter in ACoK, it is all there, as I point out to Aeryl.
James Reid
56. JamesReid
I would say that Robb was completely undone by Tywin Lannister via the Westerlings. Tywin Lannister annhilated two of his bannerman for far less than throwing in with a rebel king like the Westerlings. Lady Westerling's uncle got the Castamere lands, the Westerligns got pardons for their treason. Why? I say lady Westerling served up her daughter to Robb Stark counting on him to be his father's son and marrying the girl. This allowed Tywin to leverage betrayal amonst Robbs sworn followers, the Freys for the besirchment of their honor, and the Boltos because he saw the writing on the wall long before things fell apart.

Spoiler: There is more evidence in AFFC. We learn about Lady Westerling's Family. Her grandmother was a Maegi from the east who married a rich merchant. Some say she bewitched him. Lady Westerling's Mother married a Spicer, somethign that should have been above her station, then Lady Westerling herself married into an old family that was above her station as a Spicer. Then her daughter marries a king. I'm pretty sure spells or love potions or something is in the work here. That's far too many coicendantal social climbings.
Rob Munnelly
57. RobMRobM
Isilel - not sure I agree. I'm familiar with the chapter in question. Freys were angry and thinking about pulling out as of that ACOK chapter, I agree. Bolton was talking to the Freys about possible partnerships, etc., I agree. But I don't think there's evidence that anyone stepped over the line into planning actual treason against Robb until Jaime was released and the Karstarks openly rebelled. I do doubt very very much that Tywin Lannister would have worked with Boltons and Freys to plan the Red Wedding if Jaime had been in Stark control.
Sasha P
58. AeronaGreenjoy
Spoiler re 56: And in AFFC, Sybell badgered Jaime over an "understanding" with Tywin involving promises of "worthy" spouses for her children. The Freys didn't know about it, according to Jaime, but they may have been the key players in it
Captain Hammer
59. Randalator
Nitpick: It's "Schadenfreude" not "Schaedenfreude".
Stefan Mitev
60. Bergmaniac
@54 - neither kings nor nobles choose their successors in Westeros, they practice a form of primogeniture (except in a few extreme cases about which the uneducated commoners which make up the vast majority of the Watch have no idea). So I don't see how it's relevant.

As for the rest, if Pyke and Mallister didn't want Slynt, they could've picked someone else, who wasn't 16, a suspected traitor and oathbreaker, and disliked by the current regime in KL and the North.
janet vaughn
61. geochic1
Silly questions of the day and kinda off topic:
What are the D&E Books people have been writing about? And where can you find them?
I gather they are out riggers to the main story but where do you find them. I would like to read them if Leigh is going to go post about them.

Also Jon rocks!! it also sucks to be him.
Maiane Bakroeva
62. Isilel
RobM @57:
I don't think there's evidence that anyone stepped over the line into planning actual treason against Robb until Jaime was released

What, Ramsey attacking Ser Roderick's host and sacking Winterfell wasn't treasonous enough for you?!

Or Bolton in the chapter I mentioned sending fraudulent orders in Robb's name to Glover, Harrion Karstark, etc. to attack Duskendale, so that they would fall into Lannister trap and get destroyed.
Robb later had no clue what they might have been thinking, since there was nothing of importance there. That cost Robb a third of his army, IIRC, and Bolton did it before he learned about Robb's marriage, even, leave alone Jaime.
He also went on a very ostentatious wolf hunt immediately afterwards.

And the Freys thought that the war was lost and that Robb should bend the knee after the Blackwater and went absolutely ballistic at the news of Robb's wedding. So, yea.

By contrast, the Jaime thing cost Robb Karstark and his 300 cavalry and there is zero indication that it affected anything except for Cat's survival during the Red Wedding.
Captain Hammer
63. Randalator
@61 geochic1

I gather they are out riggers to the main story but where do you find them.

I hear a trip down the Amazon is particularly nice this time of year...
Sasha P
64. AeronaGreenjoy
@61: The Tales of Dunk and Egg (D&E) are novellas set many decades before ASoIaF, which help explain certain things in the later books (and are fun to read). Three have been published so far; Leigh will read the first two before AFFC. Unfortunately, they're all in separate anthologies, so a library would be the first place to look.

Here's a mostly-spoiler-free rundown of where they're published:

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Dunk_and_Egg
janet vaughn
65. geochic1
@64 and 63
Thank you I will look up the books. Thanks for the help.
DougL
66. JohnnyMac
geochic1 @61, to answer your question, The Tales of Dunk and Egg are a series of novellas (three published to date) by GRRM about the adventures in Westeros of a hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire, a boy called Egg. These stories begin 89 years before the start of "A Game of Thrones".

They are:

"The Hedge Knight" (1998) in "Legends" an anthology edited by Robert Silverberg.

"The Sworn Sword" (2003) in "Legends II", also edited by Robert Silverberg.

"The Mystery Knight" (2010) in "Warriors" an anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.

As well as being good reads in themselves, these stories provide some interesting background info to the main ASOIAF cycle. GRRM has said he intends to write more of them and have them published in their own book. When might this happen? Who can say? We live in hope.
Michael Duran
67. MRHD
@49: We cannot say for sure that the Red Wedding would have happened regardless of Jaime being a captive. Tywin Lannister very much saw Jaime as his heir, and how he would have proceeded to deal with Robb in that situation may not have been the same; we actually have this from GRRM himself. From an interview with GRRM:

July 03, 2003
The Kingslayer’s Value as a Hostage

Question from Fan: Not sure if I should be doing this as most boarders I know at Ran's ezboard site suggest we do not mail you until AFfC is finished but I am curious to know something. If I am being a bother feel free to disregard this message.
Many people feel that the Kingslayer had little to no value as a hostage while he was at Riverrun. I tend to disagree. My question is, if Cat had not freed the Kingslayer would the Red Wedding still have went ahead and if it did, would Ser Brynden still be in a good position having the Kingslayer as a bargaining tool?

GRRM's answer: "What if" questions are hard to answer. No one really knows.
Lord Tywin had not shown much tendency to be cowed by his enemies holding hostages... but Jaime was special.
DougL
68. Maddy1990
This could be my instinct to defend Catelyn here, but I'm pretty sure Robb breaking his marriage vow to the Freys was the thing that 'caused' the Red Wedding to happen. I definitely agree that Catelyn releasing Jaime wasn't the smartest tactical decision, but I don't really see how this 'doomed' Robb. Tywin was the one who gave Walder assurances before he went ahead with the RW, there is no way they would have risked killing Jaime. This is possibly being hypocritical since I just blamed Robb but I think it's inherently problematic to blame a single action or person for something happening in ASOIAF - it's a complicated world with a variety of flawed actors making decisions based on the information they have which is not omniscient. We have no way of knowing for sure, for example, when exactly Roose Bolton turned on Robb because we don't get his POV. This is why I think it's ridiculous when people say that Cat started the whole war by encouraging Ned to become Hand/ capturing Tyrion and she should just have stayed at home and she's a terrible mother etc. Cat made some mistakes but they are understandable ones because like everyone else she only has limited information to act on, and when you think about it the Starks get punished for their 'mistakes' much more than anyone else and are ridiculously unlucky and didn't deserve what happened to them and all these years later the Red Wedding still makes me pissed off which is why Tywin dying makes me so happy because he is the worst to put it mildly.
DougL
69. Maddy1990
@34 I see your point about Jon being the closest thing GRRM has to a 'chosen one' with plot armour and a stereotypical hero's journey (I think Dany falls into this category as well) but to be honest, some kind of upswing is desperately needed at this point in the story considering all the terrible things that have happened. And like Leigh says, it's not like this position is going to be easy or that he even necessarily earned it because of merit, he got it because of Sam's awesome sneaky shenanigans and because there is pretty much no one else at the Wall at this point. You could argue that this is one of the most predictable plot points in a way, but I think GRRM earns it in my opinion - it didn't feel contrived to me, and it doesn't mean his enemies like Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt are going to magically go away. This is probably my favourite Sam moment, even more than 'Sam the slayer' because it shows how clever and awesome Sam is even if he doesn't fit the 'warrior' archetype that his father thought he should be. Yeah Sam! Also this has to be my favourite Dolorous Edd quote:
"I just want to say to whoever is voting for me that I would certainly make an awful Lord Commander. But so would all these others."Dolorous Edd is the Eeyore of this universe and a man after my own heart :)
DougL
70. Maddy1990
@34 I see your point about Jon being the closest thing GRRM has to a 'chosen one' with plot armour and a stereotypical hero's journey (I think Dany falls into this category as well) but to be honest, some kind of upswing is desperately needed at this point in the story considering all the terrible things that have happened. And like Leigh says, it's not like this position is going to be easy or that he even necessarily earned it because of merit, he got it because of Sam's awesome sneaky shenanigans and because there is pretty much no one else at the Wall at this point. You could argue that this is one of the most predictable plot points in a way, but I think GRRM earns it in my opinion - it didn't feel contrived to me, and it doesn't mean his enemies like Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt are going to magically go away. This is probably my favourite Sam moment, even more than 'Sam the slayer' because it shows how clever and awesome Sam is even if he doesn't fit the 'warrior' archetype that his father thought he should be. Yeah Sam! Also this has to be my favourite Dolorous Edd quote:
"I just want to say to whoever is voting for me that I would certainly make an awful Lord Commander. But so would all these others."Dolorous Edd is the Eeyore of this universe and a man after my own heart :)
Michael Duran
71. MRHD
As far as Jon's story to this point following a traditional fantasy cliche goes, that may be true-- but I'm not sure it's a bad thing. Martin spends a lot of time deconstructing fantasy tropes, but the fact that he doesn't ALWAYS deconstruct them is yet another way to keep the reader guessing. If he always went against the grain in every situation that in itself would become predictable. This moment gives the reader something to be happy about, which after the intensity of ASoS I think was probably needed.

Also, with at least two books left to go, I wouldn't go and assume that Jon's storyline is going to continue to follow the traditional fantasy hero path. Knowing GRRM, he might pull the rug out from under us in the coming books.
DougL
72. Nessa
I feel like Robb's rebellion was doomed from the moment that the Tyrells joined forces with the Lannisters. Like Littlefinger said way back in GOT, "a man makes enemies of the Lannisters would do well to make the Tyrells his friends" (paraphrasing here). Yes Bran and Rickon "dying" was a huge . Likewise, Sansa becoming a Lannister by marriage. And, Theon betraying Robb, Cat releasing Jaime, Robb marrying Jeyne were also crushing to the rebellion.

But even if these things hadn't happened, the sheer logistics of Robb's meager Riverrun + the North alliance defeating the combined forces of the Tyrells + the Lannisters +Crownlands -not plausible at all. He counted on the Tyrells allying with Renly in the war. Once Renly died, the field changed. The Tyrells are looking out for themselves (like everyone else in this world) and the Lannisters offerred them a can't-miss marriage deal. And yes, Robb thinks he may have offerred Sansa in marriage to the Tyrells to keep them on his side, but the Tyrells wanted Margaery as queen. They wouldn't have settled for having their heir Willas marry a girl who's just the sister of the King, and who would cease to be Robb's direct heir once he has a child.

TL:DR, people are always overlooking the Tyrells' strength with regards to Robb's war. I don't see why, since they're always shown to be very capable players of the game. Maybe it's because haven't gotten a POV from them yet...
Ryan Reich
73. ryanreich
The correct metal for Stannis is clearly tin.
Steven Halter
74. stevenhalter
It is fairly clear that both Robb and Cat (and Ned) made a number of mistakes. Combined together, the total weight of all of the mistakes certainly doomed them. Now, was any one mistake THE mistake? Probably not, although Robb's marriage and lack of clear communication to Edmure and Cat's freeing of Jaime do stand out as having particularly bad repercussions. They managed tp pile up all of those mistakes in a fairly short period of time. Basically the sit on a branch and begin sawing method. There may be good reasons for sitting on the branch (lions below). Sawing away at it is probably not a good plan, however.
Steven Halter
75. stevenhalter
I am always amused at the concept of plot armor. "Plot armor! How unrealistic!" goes the refrain. But, interesting characters are interesting because they do things and generally succeed. Characters who fail right away don't make for much of a story.
And, the real world is rife with examples of plot armor. Take any person who has in some fashion been marked as successful. For example, Bill Gates. How improbable is that? The total series of events are quite unlikely. Clearly, he is encased in massive plot armor. Or, he happens to be the end result of a fairly random selection process.
However, broaden the scope and you will see a field littered with the bodies (not all figurative) of people tried to do similar things and failed and have become at the most obscure footnotes.
Maiane Bakroeva
76. Isilel
Stevenhalter @74:
Probably not, although Robb's marriage and lack of clear communication to Edmure and Cat's freeing of Jaime do stand out as having particulalry bad repurcussions
I don't see how letting Theon go could be ignored, since the fall of Wintefell and "deaths" of Bran and Rickon figured heavily into peception that Robb lost the war. This and Robb's marriage are in a whole different ballpark reprecussion-wise from freeing of Jaime.

Though, yes, there were consequences for Jaime as well - the Karstark thing and deaths of Kevan's kid and nephew. It it may have had longterm consequences too, both bad and good, only Robb and Cat didn't live long enough to see them.


The Edmure thing... Difficult to say. In the end, we don't know what Tywin was planning when he engaged Edmure and we don't know that the Tyrells wouldn't have acted on their own if he didn't make it south in time. They didn't want Stannis on the throne and Florents in positions of power under his regime.
Edmure removing the northern garrison from the Twins may have been the more significant blunder in hindsight, actually. OTOH, Walder may have found a way to get rid of them anyway.
Steven Halter
77. stevenhalter
Isilel@76:As I said, Lots of mistakes. Of course, in the end, Tywin and Jof are just as dead as Robb and Cat.
Then, there is Mel's curse. If it was really effective, then all of them were doomed pretty much whatever they did. GRRM has left that dangling as an interesting alternative mechanism--not really provable or disprovable at this point.
DougL
78. Nymeria
I suppose it is kind of also on Pyke and Mallister for believing Sam’s unsubstantiated word on what transpired between himself, Stannis, and Aemon in the first place.

It's also on Pyke and Mallister for being too stubborn to support the other. If either one of them had bent, Sam wouldn't have had to create a third option by lying. They were hoist by their own jealous and prideful petards.
Tabby Alleman
80. Tabbyfl55
My money is on Jon turning out to be a "Chosen Prince" dead-end, and the real Chosen Prince will be Bran.

I mean, you think Jon's got plot armor? What the highest window he got pushed out of and lived? uh-huh...
Tabby Alleman
81. Tabbyfl55
"The correct metal for Stannis is clearly tin."
Transparent Aluminum.

How do we know he didn't invent the stuff?
Sasha P
82. AeronaGreenjoy
@21: "Aemon smells a fish in Stannis's sword." Now I'm picturing Stannis spear-fishing with Lightbringer.

@67: I'm surprised that GRRM, unlike certain zealous fan groups of his, responded to a "what if" question with something other than "How dare you insinuate that you think you could write this better than me?! Rarrr!"

@73: I know, right? I wonder if GRRM knows that "Stannis" in real-world-speak basically means "relating to or containing tin."
DougL
83. Ürglõvi
Is it just me, or does "Plot armor" usually stands as a shorthand for "Good things happening to a character I don't like"? At this point, every character still alive has got plot armor - still being the keyword here. All the TV show watchers complain about things always going Tywin's way. We saw how that worked out. I'm pretty convinced that at least two of the usual culprits (Jon, Daenerys and Tyrion) bite the dust before the end of the series. Maybe all three.

Re: Cat and britleness: I think Jon has a point here - the implication being that she was strong and capable under duress and never lost sight of her goal (protecting her family), but once that was taken away from her she was going to shatter spectacularly. The way I see it, her true breaking point was seeing Robb die, hence the heartrending madness of her final moments. *sniff*

Gotta love Stannis and his understated humor. "Any of you I should think. Even the cook". The guy might be an a**hole, but at least he is an entertaining a**hole. I can forgive literary characters just about anything for that alone. (Roose Bolton being the proof of that)
DougL
84. Guest77
@73: Does the Tin Man have a heart?
DougL
85. NickH
My two cents about the Bolton treason.

The timing of events that led to the Red Wedding is a bit tricky. We learn about Robb marrying Jeyne in the beginning of ASOS, but it actually happened MUCH earlier then that.

Robb said that Jeyne "comforted" him after he received news that Bran and Rickon were killed by Theon, and he married her on the next day. Catelyn released Jaime even earlier than that.

Now Bolton's bastard on the other hand stayed at least for several days in Winterfell after flaying the miller boys, and then it probably took him several more days to reach the Dreadfort when Theon sent him to bring more men. So by the time Ramsay reached Dreadfort, the Boltons knew about both Robbs marriage and Jaime's release. I believe they also knew about the Lannister victory at Blackwater and the Tyrell alliance (as these chapters come earlier in the same book).

So I believe that by the time of Arya's last chapter in ACOK Boltons had the following information:
1. Winterfell is in the hands of Theon
2. Lannisters defeated Stannis and made pact with the Tyrells
3. Robb married Jeyne and broke the pact with the Freys
4. Catelyn had Jaime released

Knowing all that they made theit decision and had fully commited to treason. In the last Arya chapter in ACOK Roose Bolton sends the lords loyal to Robb into a trap. In the last Theon chapter whcih comes soon after that Ramsay defeats the northern lords loyal to the Starks at Winterfell and burns the castle.

All that happened before the Karstark rebellion.

We can only speculate what would have happened if Jaime remained a captive at Riverrun. I think the Karstarks would have remained loyal then, but the Boltons and the Freys would have flipped all the same, and the war would still be lost. However, Robb and Catelyn could stay alive, because the Lannisters would want them alive, to trade for Jaime.
DougL
86. NickH
A small correction: Catelyn freed Jaime at about the same time as Robb wed Jeyne, not earlier like i said in the previous post (both of these "follies done for love" were done shortly after fake Bran and Rickon's deaths when Robb and Catelyn were grieving). But these doesn't change any of my conclusions.
DougL
87. Lyanna Mormont
Excellent post, Leigh! I love this Sam chapter - it's one of his great shining moments, IMO, right up there with killing the White Walker. Also love the bit about Maester Aemon and Melisandre comparing prophecies - I think it's the first time we've seen the Prince who was Promised and Azor Ahai reborn presumed to be the same person.

@ 30 - Well, Arya is a kid. Anything in her chapter is filtered through what she does or doesn't know/remember about Westerosi history. I don't take her timeline very seriously.

@ 31 - Using that wood doesn't necessarily mean it happened right after they came over, just recent enough that the ships were still around. They can last quite a while if properly taken care of. Actually, technically the ships themselves didn't even need to still be around, just some of the wood from them...

On Jon as Mormont's chosen successor: I think it's relevant to note that this was not in any way shape or form official. Not that the LC of the NW would have any way to make it official, since it's supposed to be a free vote, but even so - Mormont didn't make it clear that Jon was expected to succeed him. He appointed Jon his personal steward, which suggested that he was considering the possibility of Jon maybe succeeding him years down the line, when he was much more seasoned and had had years to learn from following Mormont around. Or at least Mormont wanted to make him a strong contender. Maybe there'd be one or two LCs in between, given how young Jon is. But to go from there to suggesting that not voting for a 16-year-old who'd actually only spent a couple months or so being Mormont's steward would be tantamount to disregarding a ruler's choice for heir is taking things much too far, I'd say.

On the "who caused the RW/doomed Robb" debate - I always find this so odd. People talk about Robb, Catelyn, Edmure, Theon... It all seems so backwards. The people who caused the Red Wedding were Tywin Lannister, Roose Bolton, and Walder Frey. Two of those were always going to be looking for any way to bring the Starks down - Tywin to ensure his grandson stayed on the throne, and Roose because he wanted to rule the North instead of the Starks - and the third was always going to go wherever he saw as being the best opportunity for himself and his family. Given that Robb was not in a very strong position to start with, it's more of a wonder to me how he lasted so long. There were people lying around just waiting for him to make a mistake that they could pounce on, and everybody makes a mistake sooner or later. For Robb to make it through would've firmly established him as the Chosen One with extremely thick plot armor...
DougL
88. Maddy1990
@87 Exactly - it's so bizarre when people blame Catelyn for the RW and not the shitheads that are Tywin/Roose/Walder. The Red Wedding is tantamount to a freaking war crime/ act of terrorism or whatever analogy you want to use - it goes against the whole system of laws established in Westerosi society, and I thoroughly believe that the Lannisters, Freys and Boltons are going to be completely fucked in the long term because of it, and there is NO WAY that any reasonable person could have predicted that event because it is so outside of the norm. Yes, the Lannisters have won this war in the short term but it is a perfect exacmple of short term utilitarian thinking that doesn't consider the long term consequences. I find it so bizarre when people talk about Tywin like he's the perfect example of a great ruler - are you freaking kidding me? NOPE
DougL
89. cleopatra2525
I always thought the 'no heat or scorch marks' was a point in favor of Stannis' sword's authenticity. Compare it to Thoros of Myr's flaming sword (which was a regular sword + wildfire).
Maiane Bakroeva
90. Isilel
NickH @85:
However, Robb and Catelyn could stay alive, because the Lannisters would want them alive, to trade for Jaime.
Cat, yes, but why on earth would Lannisters want Robb alive?! This makes no sense.
People keep saying that if Jaime still was a prisoner the Blackfish would kill him in retaliation for Robb... but that's crazy, because it would have meant deaths of Edmure and Cat, whom Brynden loves and helped raise, as well as the end of House Tully.

OTOH, the Blackfish certainly could have bargained Edmure's freedom and royal pardon for House Tully out of Jaime, that's true. But Robb would still be dead.
Pyrrhus Aeacides
91. Pyrrhus
Great write up this week. You hit all the high points and then some.
DougL
92. JohnnyMac
"The raven thing is such classic ASOIAF, too, because it was clearly the tipping point to getting Jon elected, and yet we will never really know whether it was the magical portentous omen everyone took it to be, or just a fantastic coincidence."

Or...it might just be a brilliant piece of political theater orchestrated by Samwell, that hitherto unsuspected political genius. Who was, remember, in charge of Lord Mormont's ravens when they went north of the Wall. And Sam, as you, our gracious hostess, pointed out in your summary of Chapter 13, A Clash of Kings, told Jon he had been teaching the ravens to say "snow". Spend a hour or so prompting a raven to cry "Snow!" and feeding him a reward every time he does. Slip the bird into the kettle and put the lid on. When the lid is lifted off, out flies the raven and, behold, an omen! As political tricks go it is a great one because it is both dramatic and simple.
DougL
93. Lyanna Mormont
@ 92 - Well, he didn't train the raven to fly over and sit on Jon's shoulder, or Jon would've known about it. So then we have the coincidence that a raven trained to say "snow" just happens to choose the man named Snow as his landing perch...
Steven Halter
94. stevenhalter
In ASoIaF we have so far seen things that we will clearly label magic like the pyromancers, warging and Dany's fire birth of the dragons. Then, there are the various interactions with gods that are delightfully ambiguous. They could be powered by outside entities (gods), personal magical forces, coincidences, fakery or some combination.
The raven could have been planted by several parties or inserted by an outside force. It could have been a pure omen in nature or maybe it just went to Jon because it was familiar with him. Very clever, GRRM.
Sanne Jense
95. Cassanne
@92: Heh, very nice. Could someone check the chapter to see if Sam or any of his friends slaps Jon on the shoulder or hugs him or something when he enters the hall? If so: much respect for sneaky Sam & sneaky GRRM.
Chris Nelly
96. Aeryl
@88, This is a very good point. The fact of the matter is though, Frey and Bolton could have wanted to do the RW til they were blue in the face, but they never would have done it, if they didn't have Tywin's approval. And they wouldn't have gotten that, if Jaime was still held captive at Riverrun.
Chris Chaplain
97. chaplainchris1
Bergmaniac @34 and following: some good points about Jon's fantasy cliche-ness that I hadn't really thought about, but a couple of counterpoints.

1. Martin so often denies tropes and cliches that he gets leeway (from me) when he does actually fulfill them - as others have mentioned.
2. Having Jon become LC of the NW is not really fulfillment of fantasy cliches - having him become Lord of Winterfell (or King of Westeros) would have been more the ticket. Here we have Jon turning his back on that option. (Though, who knows what the future holds...but Robb's official heirs Bran and Rickon are still alive, as actually are Sansa and Arya...so far more heirs around to Winterfell than anyone knows.)
3. Yes, the Starks are "gone", but much of the North still responds to the Stark name and bloodline - hence Stannis' plan to install Jon as Lord of Winterfell. Picking a Stark bastard might not sit well with Kings' Landing, but a) that's far away, b) KL isn't helping anyway, c) Stannis is right there and gets on ok with Jon, and d) as stated, Jon might have sway with much of the North. Not the Karstarks, but as Lannister allies, they're already going to be at odds with the NW over Stannis anyway.
4. Re: the craziness of choosing a teenage leader, I...kind of think that's irrelevant in a feudal society. Robb was a king and warleader, for instance. Dany's also about the same age, isn't she? Bloodline counts for more than age and experience with most of these people, which hey, crazy, but there you go.
5. And Jon's got better war training (both in battle and in tactics) than most other choices and has been proven resourceful and able to survive. Not bad traits when you're facing a terrible battle.

Re: Mormont's "awful choices", I don't agree at all. His decision not to wait passively at the Wall but to seek out the source of what was happening is the only reason the NW knew the Wildlings were coming (and so the only reason they could request aid, and so the only reason Stannis could come to their aid, etc.).

Things went south (pun) because of the presence of the Others and the wights - they did fine against the Wildlings. The presence of the Others couldn't really have been expected by Mormont after so many millenia, even though they knew something was up. Many even in the NW didn't really believe in the Others, and it seems no one knew about their weakness to obsidian - which is another thing that wouldn't have been discovered without the expedition Mormont ordered.

Disaster struck, yes, but disasters happen even to good commanders. Mormont was a pretty good one.
George Jong
98. IndependentGeorge
@89:
I always thought the 'no heat or scorch marks' was a point in favor of Stannis' sword's authenticity. Compare it to Thoros of Myr's flaming sword (which was a regular sword + wildfire).
But not compared to Beric's flaming sword, which set Sandor's shield on fire.
Maiane Bakroeva
99. Isilel
Aeryl @96:

Frey and Bolton could have wanted to do the RW til they were blue in the face, but they never would have done it, if they didn't have Tywin's approval. And they wouldn't have gotten that, if Jaime was still held captive at Riverrun.

On what grounds do you claim this so authoritatively?

Tywin did risk Jaime's life during the Sack of KL when Jaime was in the hands of a homicidal maniac who had nothing to lose.
In fact, I strongly suspect that the only reason Aerys didn't bother killing Jaime was that he expected the whole of KL to go up in wildfire flames anyway.

Tyrion thought that Tywin had given Jaime up for dead after the Whispering Wood and while Tyrion hasn't always been 100% at guessing Tywin's thought processes, he was still fairly good at it.

Finally, Tyrion himself, who loved and adored Jaime, was ready to risk his life in an escape attempt from Riverrun, in order to free him.

Now, this is significant, because Robb publicly announced his intention to never let Jaime go. So, in order to free Jaime, Tywin needed to get rid of Robb. And if Tywin spent years fighting Robb - well it would have only guaranteed years of captivity for Jaime and he still could have been in danger from vengeful Karstark, conditions of his imprisonment or other random things.

By contrast, with the Red Wedding there would have been 2 high-level Tully hostages to ensure Jaime's survival and freedom and the trade could have been made ASAP.

So, yea, there was no downside in the Red Wedding for Tywin, even if Jaime had still been imprisoned.
Julian Augustus
100. Alisonwonderland
Those of you who insist that Bolton's treason was one of the primary causes of the Stark downfall (and I agree) also better remember that Robb chose Bolton over the Greatjon to lead his other army on the strong recommendation of Catelyn!

Edit: to add the supporting quote
She was impressed despite herself. He looks like a Tully, she thought, yet he’s still his father’s son, and Ned taught him well.
“Which force would you command?”
“The horse,” he answered at once.
Again like his father; Ned would always take the more dangerous task himself.
“And the other?”
“The Greatjon is always saying that we should smash Lord Tywin. I thought I’d give him the honor.”
It was his first misstep, but how to make him see it without wounding his fledgling confidence?
“Your father once told me that the Greatjon was as fearless as any man he had ever known.”
Robb grinned. “Grey Wind ate two of his fingers, and he laughed about it. So you agree, then?”
“Your father is not fearless,” Catelyn pointed out. “He is brave, but that is very different.”
Her son considered that for a moment. “The eastern host will be all that stands between Lord Tywin and Winterfell,” he said thoughtfully. “Well, them and whatever few bowmen I leave here at the Moat. So I don’t want someone fearless, do I?”
“No. You want cold cunning, I should think, not courage.”
“Roose Bolton,” Robb said at once. “That man scares me.”
“Then let us pray he will scare Tywin Lannister as well.”
Robb nodded and rolled up the map. “I’ll give the commands, and assemble an escort to take you home to Winterfell.”
Sasha P
101. AeronaGreenjoy
@84: HAHAHA! That would explain a lot about Stannis.
Stefan Mitev
102. Bergmaniac
Robb chose Roose himself, all Catelyn did was tell him that putting a hotheaded idiot like Greatjon in charge would be a bad idea and they need someone smarter, which is clearly true. Plus the problem wasn't giving Roose the foot at this point, he did what he was supposed to at the Green Fork, it was leaving him in charge for months and not having any oversight over him.
Sanne Jense
103. Cassanne
Oh, I looked it up myself. Nobody touches Jon. He trains, takes a bath, gets dressed, meets Ghost, enters the hall. The shouting starts immediately, while Jon just stands there, trying to figure out what's going on. And that raven's acting suspiciously intelligent, it actually seems to respond to what people are saying about it. Maybe old Mormont was a bit of a warg too?
Deana Whitney
104. Braid_Tug
You know you are looking forward to a post, when you keep refreshing the page...
Then you realize you have one more day to wait.

@100, Alis: congrats on the Hunny, and a great point too!
Julian Augustus
105. Alisonwonderland
@102
Clearly, Robb had already made up his mind to put the Greatjon in charge of his other army and, without Catelyn's interference advice, he would have. Also clearly, Catelyn hadn't considered the fact that the Boltons have always hated and envied the Starks, and that there was a very real prospect of Roose Bolton resorting to treason to get rid of a Stark in the midst of a war. If you put someone who wants your job in a position to affect your prospects, the word shortsighted doesn't even begin to describe it.

The Greatjon would have stayed loyal without Robb right there to look over his shoulder.
George Jong
106. IndependentGeorge
@105 - He also probably would have been routed by Tywin and lost half of the Northern army. The diversionary force was tasked with (1) engaging a superior foe and (2) making an orderly fighting retreat under fire - arguably the single most difficult tactical maneuver in warfare. Catelyn was 100% right about that.

Robb lost the war the day he told Edmure to "hold Riverrun" rather than "trap Tywin between their forces and let one of the Baratheon brothers take King's Landing". Every other mistake merely accelerated the rate at which he lost.
DougL
107. Maddy1990
It's pretty funny that an offhand comment from Jon about Catelyn has resulted in such a big debate, I found this really good essay
http://thenerdstreamera.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/an-analysis-of-catelyn-stark.html
that puts up a pretty solid defence of Catelyn, athough I don't necessarily agree with all of it. The thing is, yes the Starks make tactical blunders but they also have shitty luck and the fact that Robb lost was due to a variety of complicated circumstances - no one person has that much power, especially not Catelyn. She definitely makes some decisions that are frustrating, but to me they always made sense from her point of view and given the emotional state and information she is privy to
Sasha P
108. AeronaGreenjoy
@107: ARGH, you've led me to another time-devouring website. (Leigh, the essay is spoiler-free, but most of the site isn't)
DougL
109. Maddy1990
@108 Probably should have mentioned that, although probably best to stay away from those websites until you're all caught up!
Stefan Mitev
110. Bergmaniac
@105 - the Boltons have been loyal to the Starks for centuries. Roose was loyal to Ned in the previous war. Not putting him in charge because of the bad blood between the two Houses 1000 years ago would've been absurd without the benefit of hindsight.

And again, Roose did his job at the Battle of Green Fork. So Robb and cat made the right call. What happened after has nothing to do with putting him in charge of that part of the army for that battle. Robb could've called him back and put whoever he wanted in charge, have the foot rejoined the rest of his army, etc. There is a year or so between that battle and the RW.

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