Feb 6 2014 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 2

Song of Ice and Fire A Feast for CrowsWelcome 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 2 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 1 (“The Prophet”) and Chapter 2 (“The Captain of Guards”).

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 1: The Prophet

What Happens
In Great Wyk, Aeron Greyjoy is sacrificing men to the Drowned God when three horsemen approach: The Sparr (the local lord), his son Steffarion, and Gormond Goodbrother, son of Lord Gorold. Aeron ignores them until the latest drowned man, Emmond, is properly revived and sworn in. Gormond tells Aeron his father summons Aeron to him, but Aeron is not interested. Gormond says Lord Gorold has received a message from Pyke that Aeron’s brother the king is dead.

Aeron is stunned by the news, but declares that Balon’s success leading the Ironborn must have incurred the Storm God’s wrath and cast him down, and it is up to them to continue his great work. He commandeers Gormond’s horse and heads to the Hammerhorn, reflecting on his late brother’s life; Aeron admired him greatly even though Balon had had nothing but scorn for Aeron himself. Aeron is sure Balon’s death heralds “a storm such as these isles have never known.”

Aeron arrives at Gorold’s keep, but almost leaves again when Gorold refuses to send away his maester. Then the maester tells him that Euron Crow’s Eye sailed in the day after Balon’s death and took the Seastone Chair and crown, as Balon’s eldest brother. Aeron declares Euron is not godly enough to have the throne. The maester says that the throne by rights belongs to either Theon or Asha; Aeron knows that Balon had wanted Asha to succeed him. Aeron replies that the ironborn will not be ruled by a woman anymore than a godless man. He tells Gorold not to reply to Euron’s demand for fealty yet, and leaves for Pebbleton with Gorold’s son Greydon as escort. On the way, he reflects on his feckless youth and his time as a prisoner in Casterly Rock during Balon’s first rebellion. He tells himself he is no longer that man, but the god’s own prophet, reborn from the sea, and Euron’s return does not scare him.

Greydon asks Aeron if he thinks it will come to war. Aeron thinks that Euron will most certainly fight to keep the crown, and a mere woman had no chance of beating him, nor Theon, and that Victarion must take the throne. He and Greydon part ways, and Aeron continues alone, stopping to spread the news of Balon’s death in the villages along the way. He gathers a dozen followers, and leads them to where twoscore of his drowned men are waiting for him in Pebbleton. He inducts his new followers and then walks into the sea, to pray to the Drowned God for guidance on who is to be the king in Pyke.

He has always thought of himself as the least of his father’s sons, but now he thinks that he is no longer the weak man he once was. The next morning he meets with the Merlyn, who tells Aeron that he has had summons from Euron and Asha both. Aeron has the Merlyn kneel and blesses him, and then asks who should be the next king. His drowned men begin chanting his name, but Aeron says he was not made to rule. He tells the Merlyn to go to neither Euron nor Asha, but to Old Wyk and the Grey King’s Hall to make a kingsmoot. The Merlyn is stunned, but Aeron says it is time they returned to the Old Way, which will make the ironborn great again.

Listen! Listen to the waves! Listen to the god! He is speaking to us, and he says, We shall have no king but from the kingsmoot!

A roar went up at that, and the drowned men beat their cudgels one against the other. “A kingsmoot!” they shouted. “A kingsmoot, a kingsmoot. No king but from the kingsmoot!” And the clamor that they made was so thunderous that surely the Crow’s Eye heard the shouts on Pyke, and the vile Storm God in his cloudy hall. And Aeron Damphair knew he had done well.

Okay, before I even begin reading this: “The Prophet”? Not a name? What is this fresh hell? ALERT, WE ARE BREAKING FORMAT, SHIT IS ABOUT TO GET REAL. Or at least a lot less explanatory. Rrrgh. Okay, back to reading!

…And less than two paragraphs in we find that it’s Aeron. Okay, so it’s not so much being obfuscatory as it is that Aeron is the kind of guy who thinks of himself by his title. Which is somehow even worse than referring to yourself in the third person. Trust Auntie Leigh on this.

Speaking of trust, I trust I don’t have to explicate my opinions on a system of faith that involves drowning people for the ritual LOLZ? Even if they (mostly) get revived afterward? I don’t? You can see my lip-curl from over there? Good, we cool then. (Though I was rather amused at the “punch and kiss” welcoming bit, I have to admit. How very… ASOIAF of them.)

Also, I was initially mentally pronouncing Aeron’s nickname (that’s not the right word, but I’m blanking on what to call it) as “Damn-phair” in my head, and thinking it was sort of cool-sounding (if a little Castlevania), and then I looked at it again and realized it was literally “Damp Hair,” and cracked up laughing in the middle of Starbucks. Yeah, you just go back to your overpriced latte, lady, nothing to see here.

I mean, I know that we’re all about revering wet things here, but I can’t take that one with a straight face, sorry. It’s like proudly naming Joe Smith, Hangnail. Like, congrats on the fact that your hair is slightly less than dry? BUT ONLY SLIGHTLY, Y’ALL. HE IS DAMPHAIR, NOT SOPPINGHAIR. HAHAHAHA

This is probably not nearly as funny as I think it is – I’m kind of really caffeinated right now – but nevertheless I’ve been giggling inappropriately about it for at least ten minutes now, so too bad, you get to hear about it.

(And yes, I know I’ve met Aeron before, but it’s been quite a while, so if I had this revelation about his (hilarious) name previously I apologize.)

ANYWAY, I was going to say that Aeron’s kind of a tool, but I will also say that at least he comes by it honestly? By which I mean, he seems to have eaten up every single belief his empirically horrible culture ever served him with the world’s most unquestioning spoon, and swallowed them wholesale. It’s the kind of attitude toward life that I, unsurprisingly, find entirely baffling, but I suppose having that kind of unswervable certainty about everything must be very comforting to the individual in question – if utterly frustrating to everyone around him.

Aeron considers it his god’s blessing that people rarely challenge him, but I’m pretty sure it’s much more that most people don’t bother to stand their ground in front of a 300-pound charging linebacker, metaphorical or otherwise. Funny how that works.

In any case, his obstinate adherence to his own prejudices may end up biting him in the ass, in the end, particularly as regards Asha. I don’t much like Asha (in fact, other than that maester in the Dunk story I don’t know that I’ve met a single Ironborn character on whom I didn’t want to slap a giant DO NOT WANT sticker almost immediately), but I feel safe in saying that you underestimate her at your peril. I would also say that it would do these sexist assholes good to end up ruled by a woman, but then I’m not entirely sure I would pick Asha as my poster child for feminist advancement on that particular front, so I’ll just raise my eyebrows judgmentally at everyone and wait and see what happens.

One thing’s for sure, Asha and Euron (and Victarion, maybe) are going to go up in FLAMES when they find out about Aeron’s kingsmoot scheme. I bet they’re going to have to go along with it, though. Like I said, the Morality Linebacker over there is far too used to getting his way for him not to at least cause them some major problems.

(Oh, and Theon too, I guess, but are we even counting him? Is he actually still alive? And would it matter if he was?)

Obviously the tension up till the end of this chapter was the expectation that Aeron would decide to claim the throne for himself, but I honestly never expected it to go that way, mostly because it was too obvious. As for the actual contenders, I’m sort of having a hard time caring who wins, because they all seem to suck equally.

Well, okay, that’s not true. From the point of view of the rest of the continent (which I certainly care more about in general than I do these people), either Euron or Asha would be a disastrous victor, in that both of them would be strong and aggressive leaders who will promptly begin (or continue, rather) to raid the shit out of everyone. Victarion is (to me) mostly an unknown quantity, and Theon is (comparatively) a giant wuss who as far as I can tell doesn’t stand a chance of getting the throne anyway, unless he murders his entire family first.

So, hey, let’s root for that!

(I am a terrible person sometimes.)

“Meet with me at Pebbleton beneath Lord Merlyn’s tower,” [Aeron] told his drowned men, as he turned the horse’s head.

*raises eyebrow* “Merlyn”? Ookay.

[The Merlyn:] “One raven summons me to Pyke, another to Ten Towers. You krakens have too many arms, you pull a man to pieces.”

Nice. One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Martin’s writing (which I’ve probably mentioned before, but whatever) is how cleverly he manages to suggest that his characters embody the traits of their own sigils and symbols, without actually committing to the literal truth of it, as so many other fantasy stories would have. He rather expertly rides the line between (for lack of a better way to put it) the sometimes overly coy symbolism of so-called “literary fiction” and the sometimes unsubtle literalness of genre fantasy. In doing so he risks alienating aficionados of either group, but he also courts the possibility of pleasing them both as well, something not a lot of authors have historically been able to pull off. Judging by the series’ financial success (and even more significantly, the apparent success of the TV show based on it), Martin is one of those who has managed it.


Chapter 2: The Captain of Guards

What Happens
In the Water Gardens of Dorne, Captain Areo Hotah guards Prince Doran Martell as he sits in his rolling chair on the terrace, watching the children play in the gardens. The prince has such bad gout in his legs that he can no longer stand. Lady Obara Sand, one of Oberyn’s bastard daughters (called the Sand Snakes), storms up with Maester Caleotte in tow, but Hotah blocks her way. She demands to know if Doran knows Oberyn is dead, and Hotah says he does. Obara says the entire nation wants to know what Doran will do to avenge his murdered brother, but Hotah will still not let her pass. It is about to get violent when Doran calls out to Hotah to let her by.

Doran points out to Obara that Oberyn was slain in lawful single combat, not murdered, but Obara is having none of it, and demands that Doran let her and Lady Nym each take a host to march north to obtain vengeance, for Elia as well as Oberyn. Doran says that Lord Tywin has promised to deliver them Gregor Clegane’s head, but Obara wants Tywin’s head as well. Doran tries to talk her down, but she is uninterested. Finally he tells her he will think on it, and she leaves. Maester Caleotte points out that she is sure to inflame the people once she gets back to Sunspear, and Doran tiredly agrees that he must go back as well, despite that meaning his infirmity will be revealed to the public, and to the Lannisters, since Princess Myrcella’s guard, Ser Arys Oakheart, will certainly write of it.

Caleotte leaves, and Doran speaks to Hotah of his siblings Elia and Oberyn, of how he was the oldest of them all, and yet is now the only one still alive. That night, Hotah thinks of his own childhood in Norvos and the vow he had taken to protect. The next day they eventually get underway to the capital, and halfway there are joined by another Sand Snake, Lady Nymeria Sand, who is beautiful and nobleborn in contrast to the ugly Obara, whose mother was a whore. She also wants vengeance for Elia and Oberyn, and like Obara does not consider Clegane’s head to be enough. Unlike Obara, she does not favor war, but instead to take herself and her sister Tyene to assassinate Lord Tywin, Cersei, Jaime, and King Tommen. Doran again points out that Oberyn was not murdered, and that he in fact disobeyed Doran’s instructions to him about staying uninvolved, but Nym is not interested in this nuance any more than Obara was, and warns Doran that she and her sisters will not wait long.

She gallops ahead, and Doran’s party arrives at Sunspear by sunset, where they find the people stirred up and volatile, shouting for war and throwing fruit at the prince’s litter until they make it to the Martell stronghold. Princess Arianne greets them and says Tyene wishes a private word. Hotah carries Doran to a private chamber where Tyene Sand waits, looking innocent and harmless, but Hotah notes that all of the Sand Snakes have their father’s “viper eyes”. Tyene doesn’t want Clegane executed by headsman, but rather to be brought back to Sunspear and be tortured to death slowly. She also wants war, but unlike Obara, she wants to make the Seven Kingdoms come to them.

She proposes to induce them to attack by wedding Myrcella and Trystane, and then declaring Myrcella the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Doran points out that Myrcella is rightful heir only by Dornish law, and Tyene replies that Myrcella is in Dorne at the moment, so it counts. Doran promises her to think on it. Hotah intervenes when Tyene gets too close to the prince, but Doran allows it and gives her his blessing. As soon as she leaves Caleotte hurries to check Doran for any signs of poison. Doran sends Caleotte away, and asks Hotah to find his most loyal men and imprison all eight of Oberyn’s daughters, legitimate and illegitimate alike, except for Sarella, who is not in Dorne; Doran will leave her to “her game”.

“It will be done.” The captain hesitated. “When this is known in the streets, the common folk will howl.”

“All Dorne will howl,” said Doran Martell in a tired voice. “I only pray Lord Tywin hears them in King’s Landing, so he might know what a loyal friend he has in Sunspear.”

…So we’re doing this as a thing now, I guess? Titles instead of names? Okay…

Actually, it’s not okay. Now that I’ve read both of these chapters, my sense of their strangeness is confirmed. Both of these chapters read oddly to me, specifically in terms of the point of view, and it’s kind of offputting. I don’t recall that Martin has had a character before this who habitually mentally referred to him- or herself more by their title than by their own name, and now here he has two in a row. Which is strangely – distancing, in what is supposed to be a tight 3rd person POV (the viewpoint style Martin has used without exception throughout the series thus far).

Hotah’s POV, in fact, has a couple of lines which only seem appropriate coming from an outside POV. Like this, for example:

When she appeared beneath the triple arch, Areo Hotah swung his longaxe sideways to block the way. The head was on a shaft of mountain ash six feet long, so she could not go around. “My lady, no farther.” His voice was a bass grumble thick with the accents of Norvos. “The prince does not wish to be disturbed.”

The bold emphasis is mine, of course.

And, look, that’s weird. I just don’t think that anyone would describe their own voice like that. Someone else would probably do so, but Hotah himself? No. It was weird enough that for a second I thought we had jumped into someone else’s head, but we hadn’t.

It’s wonky, just as Aeron’s POV was. Aeron’s POV didn’t quite commit the above narrative sin, but it did have Aeron refer to himself as both “the prophet” and “the priest” in his POV, multiple times, which is, again, weirdly distant for a person who is thinking about himself, and it was actively confusing to the reader to boot.

This may seem like a fairly small thing to harp on, but look, I’ve been doing this kind of thing for a while, and maybe most people wouldn’t notice this (or care if they did) but it jumped out at me with jarring obviousness, enough that it took me out of the story, and that’s a problem. It’s even more startling because I don’t remember Martin ever making such a basic error like this before. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I really hope it’s not a thing that’s going to continue for the rest of the book, because I don’t like it.

[Obara:] “I’d get more pleasure from driving my spear into Lord Tywin’s belly. I’ll make him sing ‘The Rains of Castamere’ as I pull his bowels out and look for gold.”

HAHAHA TOO LATE. But wow, it’s like she was there when it happened!

I am intrigued by the (adult) Sand Snakes, and the evidence they present that Dorne is not remotely as patriarchal as many of the other cultures in ASOIAF (also confirmed by their non-gender-based inheritance laws). Although I wasn’t particularly loving the “nobleborn = beautiful / commonborn = ugly” dichotomy drawn between Obara and Nym, I must say, but okay.

For certain sure, all three of ones we’ve met so far are scary customers, but if you ask me Tyene beats both her sisters easily for sheer EEK factor. At least with Obara and (to a lesser degree) Nym, what you see is what you get (or at least so it seems), but Tyene’s whole wide-eyed “poison peach” persona is super creepy. On a scale of one to Crispin Glover she gets at least a clip from Charlie’s Angels. Of course, it’s possible that Sarella is the scariest of them all (and don’t think I don’t know that this “game” thing is going to come up again), but we haven’t met her yet, so for now Tyene wins.

Poor Doran, man. Objectively, I love that Oberyn’s daughters exist, because my hunger for interesting female characters with actual agency and distinct personality knows no bounds, but boy would I not like to be the person who has to be the boss of them. A literal pit of vipers, you might say. I See What You Did There, Martin.

In any case, I foresee this idea to lock up the Sand Snakes going… poorly. And thus we learn that Dorne is just as firmly on its way to FUBAR Land as every other nation on this sorry fictional rock. Huzzah!

And that’s it for now, kids! See you next Friday!

Brandi Carrier
1. Brandi
Leigh, you are not the first person to miss the Damp-Hair thing, I was calling him Dam-phair in my head for far far longer than you lol.
Rob Munnelly
2. RobMRobM
Darn it. I lost a bet made over on the spoiler thread. *grumbles, shakes fist*

I don't like the title-based approach to chapter titles either, and I didn't even pick up the odd bit from the Hotah chapter. (This is not the last time we see them, sadly.)

I agree with your Iron-born hate except I like Asha; the rest can go back to the Drowned God ASAP. Tres suspicious that Balon dies only one day before Euron shows back up at home from a round the world cruise, n'est-ce pas?

I really enjoyed the Hotah chapter and our first real introduction to Dorne. Blood oranges falling from the trees....we're not in Winterfell any more. The need for a vacation home (the Water Gardens) presumably to escape Sunspear's heat. The Sand Snakes in all of their glory. Princess Arianne, the heir to the throne of Dorne. Nice introduction to a new to us people and place.
3. DougL
Two chapters! Thanks

I can already see the posts telling you something they shouldn't. Be quiet y'all, Leigh will get there in the end.
Michael Duran
You're not the only one who doesn't like the whole title thing, Leigh. Three reads of Feast under my belt and I still ask "why?!" It doesn't help that the first two titled PoVs have personalities that make them about as palatable as Thanksgiving leftovers in February. I think you're starting to understand why Feast is not the most popular book in the series.
Adam S.
Argh! So much I can't say. I kind of liked the new slant on chapter titles. I didn't see it as a huge intrusion/error when Hotah's chapter descibed him in the third person. All the books do that to some small extent, with a chapter told by a person's POV but slipping outside their POV occasionally.
The Damphair chapter was mostly just to lay down the groundwork for out iron isles journey, not much more to say at this point. The Dorne chapter, however, was great. I got a thrill out of meeting the series of sand snakes, each getting progressively more dangerous like the bosses in a video game. I like the whole setting of Dorne, with its relative sexual equality (and sexual liberty), its deserts and oranges and spicy food and sand snakes
6. zambi76
As a staunch defender of AFFC, I also have to say, that titles instead of names thing is annoying as all hell. GRRM's explanation is not much of one either IMHO. Also often said and I agree, chosing especially this two chapters of new and rather strange POVs to start the book with is not very helpful either. Next two chapters should be delightful though.
... and Theon is (comparatively) a giant wuss who as far as I can tell doesn’t stand a chance of getting the throne anyway, unless he murders his entire family first. So, hey, let’s root for that!
LOL! You have some very intriguing ideas sometimes, Leigh.
7. Ryamano
I always called him Damph-air because I like french stuff, so I pronounce it like it's french :P. It also reminds me of Dauphin, which is the title of the heir of France (and comes from dolphin, again something related to the sea).
George Jong
8. IndependentGeorge
I'm 100% in favor of hot women and spicy foods, but I found Hotah's POV dull and uninteresting for reasons I explained in the spoiler thread.

Anyway, I'm on board with Leigh when it comes to the titles, but there is a certain logic to it which becomes obviousl later on.

//The point about self-identification carries much greater significance when we Sansa's chapter is titled "Alayne", and Arya's as "Cat of the Canals". On the other hand, I think the impact of that is actually diminished by all the other times its done, with characters we frankly could care less about.

It is interesting and significant, though, that Asha starts as "The Kraken's Daughter" before turning to just "Asha", while Arys is never given a chapter by his own name (he's either "The Soiled Knight" or "The Queenmaker").//

The other problem is POV bloat, but obviously we really can't get into that discussion quite yet.
9. SKM
Also, I was initially mentally pronouncing Aeron’s nickname (that’s not the right word, but I’m blanking on what to call it)

Sobriquet. The word you're looking for is sobriquet. :)
10. Cass314
I'm sort of ambivalent of the titles vs. names things. I do think it's overused as this book progresses, and there is one case in particular later in the book where I really don't think the character should have gotten a nickname, but I think I understand what Martin was going for, and in most of the cases I like it more than I don't.

The first crop of characters we had were all names, and they all identified as...well, as themselves. Jon Snow, Ned Stark, etc.. They might have struggled with what exactly it meant to be that name, with the expectations people had for them and how they often revolved around that name, but they were who they were, even if some of them were still trying to figure out what that meant.

The crop of no-names we get in this book aren't like that. They don't know who they are, or they identify less with themselves as an individual and more with themselves as a title or an instrument of some greater force, or they are in grave danger of losing sense of who they are entirely. I definitely did notice the way Aeron and Areo sometimes refer to themselves in a less limited PoV, almost like a borderline omnescient narrator, but I thought it reflected how they feel about themselves. Areo is acutely aware of his foreignness, so it makes sense for him to think about hearing himself as foreign as if he were a Dornish observer. He and Aeron both see themselves as the job, and the job as critically important, more than they see themselves as people. And Aeron clearly has his own issues, but I suppose we'll talk about that in a later post.
George Jong
11. IndependentGeorge
Sobriquet. The word you're looking for is sobriquet. :)
Which, incidentally, I pronounce to rhyme with "charcoal brickette".
12. Ryamano
And my favorite Kraken candidate for king is Euron, but I can't mention why now (it's spoilerish). My favorite Kraken is Theon (not for king, but as a character). He's privilidged and a dick, but that makes his journey as a character so interesting and fullfilling. Truly a masterpiece what GRRM does with his character, I think. (roll over to read)
Chris Nelly
13. Aeryl
The trick is that IF the chapters are titled by a title, instead of a name, they are on OUTSIDE POV. Whereas, if the chapter is titled by a name, you are getting their third person POV.

If that helps. The introduction of this is a bit offputting, but honestly it was necessary for how this story is about to grow.
14. Maddy1990
I thought Damphair was 'Dampfair' for like the entire book the first time I read it, so good work on picking up on it in the same chapter. The weird chapter title thing is weird, but it's not a spoiler to say that he doesn't do it for the whole book or anything if that helps.

And the Ironborn are so much DO NOT WANT that it's not even funny, and that's saying a lot in a world where Tywin Lannister and Gregor Clegane exist.

The change of pace takes a while to get used to, but I really like Feast, although that doesn't seem to be a popular opinion.
Adam S.
15. MDNY
One point I forgot to make is that the first chapter starts a whole new examination of religion in ASOIAF. This book actually has a LOT of exploration of the religions in Westeros (and outside it), and I find it fascinating.
Sasha P
16. AeronaGreenjoy
The Ironborn's religion is harsh and strange, but pragmatic in context. When you're a pirate or fisherman, drowning is both a constant threat and an easy killing-method, the sea a convenient place to put corpses. If God and Heaven are under the sea, you need not fear to end up there -- though drowning probably seems a less dire threat if you know many people who've survived it -- or struggle to find or keep the bodies of shipmates lost at sea. If God favors those who sacrifice people to him, you can perform religious duties while disposing of victims/enemies. And if storms are the work of another god, a malevolent one who hates great people, you have someone to blame and something to comfort yourself with when a loved one's ship goes down.

Yes, I'm biased. Being gloom-prone, obsessed with oceans, and obsessively gloomy about not being in oceans, I spent this chapter going "Holy carp, he sounds like ME!! I have found my alter ego/guru/soul mate!!!!" I knew you'd dislike him, Leigh, given your feelings about his fellow religious fanatic Melissandre, but I forgive you.
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
Chapter 1--The Prophet:Interesting title. I think this will be the first POV from a character with a title rather than a name. The Prophet is Aeron Damphair (Greyjoy we learn) and is a priest of the Drowned God. He has just finished drowning Emmond who didn't seem to particularly want to be drowned. Aeron had four of his "drowned men" help him out. Are the drowned men people like Emmond who have been drowned and then brought back so now we also have water zombies or is it just a title? (Rhetorical) We'll have to see.
Oh, they drown them and then do CPR to "bring them back"--a miracle! Well, that's quite the X-games form of a baptism. And, we see the lords don't want to participate and had their drowning in the form of a quick dunk.
He is informed that Balon Greyjoy the king (and his brother) is dead. We knew that already so either it has taken a while to get to Aeron or this is a bit back in the timeline.
Aeron isn't thrilled to learn that Euron has named himself king as Euron is not "godly." I'm not real clear yet on what godly means for the iron-born. I suspect it is a tad different than what we might think. Maybe it is just prideful although they all seem pretty full of themselves.

Damphair seems full of himself in that he fully believes that he is the prophet and voice of god and etc. And he may very well be here although gods seem to speak in mysterious voices in Westros. Fancy that.

I was thinking he was going to reveal that the god had chosen him, but he veered into what should be an interesting direction of a kingsmoot. I will predict many shenanigans will ensue as all parties will meet there and have tea and such. Or be all shouty and stabby.
Vincent Lane
18. Aegnor
"Well, that's quite the X-games form of a baptism." awesome.
19. Maddy1990
I totally forgot about Obara's awesome line ... GRRM you are my favourite sometimes when you don't decide to kill all the Starks.

The chapter titles instead of names make sense in some cases, but others I really don't get it why he can't just use their names. There is no good reason these chapters couldn't have been named 'Aeron' and 'Areo'. Anyway, minor gripe.
Chris Long
20. radynski
The Chapter Titles were a result of how those were written. If I remember correctly, GRRM released those 8 chapters (yes, there are more to come) well before AFFC was finished. He didn't intend them to go in the book, but rather be little vignettes of where the rest of the kingdom was.

However, once he made the decision to split AFFC into two books (the second being ADWD) he added those 8 chapters into Feast because why not.

Of course, I kind of like it for reasons that become apparent by the end of the book and then in the next one.
George Jong
21. IndependentGeorge
Oh, they drown them and then do CPR to "bring them back"--a miracle! Well, that's quite the X-games form of a baptism.
That reminds me of the Top Gear: Middle East Special, where Clarkson claims he's a prophet because his initials are J.C.

MAY: "There's only two fish for the three of us."
HAMMOND: "I don't like fish."
CLARKSON: "I've solved it! It's a miracle!"
22. Rancho Unicorno
I think the sobriquets make sense. It isn't who other people think of them as, but rather who they think of themselves as. Most people think of themselves as a person. But, some don't. And that can change moment to moment.

An example - in WoT, most of the time, Rand thought of himself as Rand. But, sometimes, he thought of himself as The Dragon (either via his embrace of the title or as a tool of the Creator) and othertimes Lews (when he had his crazy-bananas moments). Had Jordan followed the same chapter title format as Martin, I think we would have seen all three at various times and it would have made more sense.
23. littlebit_liz
Yeah, so, my mother is currently reading FFC right now for the first time, and she started keeping her own Table of Contents, written up on a little notepad that she carries around in the book with her. She's reading the book pretty slowly, so she tends to get to an Arya chapter, for example, and can't remember where she left Arya in the previous Arya chapter, so she'll want to glance back at it - but since Martin uses all these weird nicknames as chapter titles, and not even always the SAME nicknames for the SAME character, she's not even sure where the last Arya chapter was. So she's keeping her of ToC with real character names lol.

I don't hate on FFC like a lot of other people do, but I really don't like the way he started naming the chapters in this book. It seems unnecessarily confusing.
24. Bill D5
The "punch and kiss" welcoming bit is hardly an aSoI&F thing. It was a fairly routine part of initiation ceremonies, including both Catholic confirmation and in some places and times, knighthood. Liam Neeson knighted Orlando Bloom that way in "Kingdom of Heaven", for example. Hell, Elayne & Aviendha adopted each other in WoT in a ritual with a similar set up, although it was a slap and an embrace. I guess that ironborn men are just a little more comfortable with their sexuality and less homophobic than WoT women, so they're okay with kissing each other.

That aside, the actual drowning makes their religion the most badass in Westeros. That's more hardcore than the Burned Men in the Mountains of the Moon, for my money. Sure burning hurts, but you don't die from it. The ironborn have to let themselves be placed in a position of mortal injury and trust in someone else's skills and luck to survive. And apparently, with the knowledge that no one until Aeron has had a 100% success rate.

Regarding the family stuff, I think the pattern of character types into which the Greyjoy brothers fell is interesting, and not entirely unique.

- Balon, the eldest brother, who was a larger-than-life badass heroic type (and BTW, another thing that made this chapter interesting: rather than the bitter old man, and impossible to please father, we get to see a side of Balon from his little brother who grew up idolizing him).
- Victarion, the loyal, dutiful guy who is more naturally a follower than a type like his big bro.
- Euron, a rebellious type who bucked the rest of the family
- Aeron, originally a screw-up and a joker, later transformed into a hard-core exemplar of their culture.

For the older generation of the Starks, we have:
- Brandon, whom we don't know much about, but was apparently more charismatic than Ned who thinks he would have been a better leader and lord than Ned himself. Also Jaime characterized Brandon as more like Jaime himself.
- Ned, who was dutiful and loyal to his surrogate brother Robert
- Benjen, who is the Northern equivalent of a priest, a man of the Night's Watch.
- There is also Lyanna, whom Ned recalls as a bit of a tomboy, and says she would have carried weapons like Arya if she could have, and would have told Robert off to his face when he had bad ideas. He also says that she had a wild streak that got her killed, which suggests maybe a parallel with Euron or Aeron part I.

There are the Baratheons:
- Robert, who started out as a heroic, larger than life warrior-type. Stannis recalls how he even made friends out of his enemies.
- Stannis, like Ned & Victarion, a dutiful loyal type.
- Renly, the joker of the family, and also something of the outlaw, in that he tries to usurp his brother's and nephews' superior claims to the throne.

And finally the elder generation of Lannisters;
- Tywin, whose younger brother Kevan, from his conversation in Tyrion's cell, holds him in just as much awe as Aeron does Balon, or Ned did Brandon, or as even Stannis grudingly concedes to Robert.
- Kevan himself, from the little we see of him, is just as loyal and dutiful as Ned or Stannis, or Victarion is said to be. He's so self-effacing that in councils, he presents Tywin's point of view as his own, so that Tywin can remain aloof from discussions.
There were two other brothers about whom we know nothing as yet, but we know one of them fathered a bastard, probably to his eldest brother's chagrin, implying the possibility that they might have had a similar dynamic to Balon with Aeron in his wild youth.

It will be really interesting to see if we find out more about the dead brothers, which I think is possible, since the further the series goes, the more backstory is revealed, such as in the last book, where the Red Viper revealed to Tyrion more details about old clashes between their families and how that might have incited the savage treatment of Elia when the Lannisters took the city and castle from Aerys.
25. OsRavan
I dont think this is a spoiler.....

But essentially for those of us who were hard core fans at the time feast was being written... the reason as I recall for the odd chapter title names, was that originaly they were all supposed to be part of the prologue. GRRM felt the need in the prologue ot check in with a lot of areas on the periphery (iron islands, dorne, oldtown) that it got mega long. The prologue ended up being closer to 200 than 100 pages with tons of pov switches. So he made the decision that rather than one mega prologue he would split the chapter up and disperse it throughout the story. But thats why theres some chapters in feast that break the usual pattern... they arent traditional prologue chapters but nor are they the regular pov chapters in the vein of (in this book) sansa, arya, jaime, etc.
Sasha P
26. AeronaGreenjoy
I agree with most of Leigh's comments on Dorne. Tyene creeps me out; Oberyn was also a smooth-talking poisoner, but he didn't pretend to be childishly innocent. I don't like the ugly whore vs. beautiful noblewoman thing regarding Obara and Nym's mothers, but this story has more than a few ugly nobles and pretty smallfolk too. I don't think it's spoilery to note that Oberyn's children are all technically bastards (Ellaria is his longtime paramour, not his wife), but someone please white it out if so. I desperately want to visit the Water Gardens, especially this time of year! And eat Norvosi wintercake.

My main problem with the non-name chapter titles is that it sometimes took me a while to realize which character's head we were in.

A CPR instructor has told me it rarely works. If that's true, and if Iron Island priests only fail to revive someone with it "from time to time," they must be really good at it. Not miraculous, but impressive.

@25: Really long prologues with lots of POV switches? Sounds like the later Wheel of Time books.
27. o.m.
@26, completely off-topic, I was told that CPR has a really good chance of preventing death until the ambulance arrives, in urban areas with a good ambulance service.

First get help, then start CPR. Trying is usually better than not trying.
28. pietester
I will say, as a more casual reader, the change in titling certainly discouraged me(though it didn't keep me entirely) from peeking ahead to see who was still alive later in the book.

And as to Leigh's point that the transfering to an outside POV we saw with Areo hadn't be done before; doesn't it happen in the last Catelyn chapter from ASOS? Though forgetting that is understandable, it was a pretty stressful part of the book.
Steven Halter
29. stevenhalter
Chapter 2--The Captain of Guards:Oh, so this title approach is a thing now and not just a one off. I wonder what happens when he gets back to someone we know and love. Will Arya's chapter be "The Girl With the Coin and Stabby Tendencies?" Areo Hotah is his name. It's not an easy name to get a grip on.
Obara Sand--woman with a coiled whip. Ah, she must be the Viper's daughter and the Prince would be the Viper's brother I would guess.
These Sand Snake Dornes are a fairly bloodthirsty lot. Burn the city, assassinate a bunch and kill them as they are lured by setting up Myrcella. I like them but they are quite frightening. Actually, they remind me of my 7 year old grand-niece. Now I have a framework.
The general tone of these two chapters was a tad info dumpy and the voice seemed a tad off. Areo Hotah reminds me a bit of Dunk in that he seems quite loyal and straightforward.
Should be interesting when they hear that Tywin is dead.
30. SKM
@26, it's worth noting that reviving a drowning person doesn't typically involve CPR, but rather mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and a modified Heimlich. CPR has a low success rate because it's trying to do the work of both heart and lungs. The priests don't generally have to worry about anyone's heart, just their lungs--meaning a much, much higher chance of success.
Vincent Lane
31. Aegnor
Also, I think reviving someone who has drowned is completely different then CPR for someone who's had a heart attack or something. It is the latter that has the poor success rate.

Edit: Oops, SKM beat me to it.
32. Bill D5
Another thing I wanted to note, because my last post got way too long, the daughters of Oberyn, the Red Viper. Their attitude of revenge is, from an objective viewpoint, kind of obnoxious. It was all Oberyn's doing. He volunteered to fight a duel in defense of another guy and died. What, people are just supposed to roll over and die because he interjects himself into their affair? How DARE those treacherous Lannisters allow him to be killed when he decides to fight a duel to the death!

And note that each one of them appears to be capable of personal deadliness in combat. I recall back in the end of GoT, when Catelyn argued that since Ned was killed, and they had liberated their lands, there was nothing left to fight for and maybe they should make peace. Karstark or one of those guys cites her femininity as the reason why she doesn't get their mentality, and how that is not an option for them. Yet, a female warrior was sitting right there with him, and had fought beside him in battle, along with her daughter. While some people wrote that off as sexism and stupid sexism, re: the Mormonts, I have to wonder now if it was really about Karstark's inability to properly articulate the thought process. I think maybe it was not that a woman could not understand his feelings, but that someone socialized into the socially prescribed feminine role could not. His own insistence on vengeance against Jaime was just as unreasoning and unjustified as the Sand Snakes. Both Karstark and the Sand Snakes want revenge for a legitimate and justifiable kill. As bad as Gregor and Jaime might be in general, in those specific instances, they had every moral right to kill Oberyn and the Karstark boys, respectively.

There is also the way they divy up the aspects of the seven-faced god, where justice and war are the province of the Father and Warrior, male aspects, while mercy and wisdom are attributed to the Mother and Crone, female aspects. Like maybe the women are expected to be the voice of reason and mercy and peace, while the men are supposed to have a hair-trigger sensitivity towards threats to the House and family. The men lash out against threats to protect the individual families or factions, and the women smooth things over and keep society as a whole functioning. Note that Sansa, the epitome of feminine socialization, is the hit of the party when she's not being directly brutalized. She calmed down the panicky crowd during the battle when Cersei got wasted and prematurely pulled Joffrey from the battlefield, before running out to check on her baby. Tyrion noted how she made a good impression during the reception at Joffrey's wedding, and thinks that those same social skills would have made her a good queen.

So my point is, maybe people in Westeros are trained into specific roles from birth, to a greater degree than in our society. If not by conscious design, than by a kind of Darwinian process whereby this sort of training is what enables families to succeed and survive over the decades and centuries. With that in mind, the daughters of Oberyn & Ellaria, not having been trained according to the typical female roles, have instead absorbed the masculine perspective of "you hurt me, you pay, even if it's not your fault," just as they learned to handle spears and whips and knives.

That upbringing process could also explain the superficial similarities in family dynamics in four families from three different subcultures I noted in my prior post.

Maybe rather than simply dismissing Catelyn's attitude as some sort of female squeamishness, he was instead referring to their specialties, like a military officer brushing off a diplomat's suggestions as inappropriate to a situation he feels calls for a military response.

Another aspect is that Doran Martell has that "female" perspective toward the situation with Oberyn & the Sand Snakes. While he might be relived to be rid of a loose cannon like his brother, and thus not as motivated to seek vengeance, maybe it's more because he was raised as the heir to their mother, who had ruled Dorne before him, and from her, took in a more feminine mindset, and allowed his brother to be saber-rattler.

(roll over for possible spoilers)
Oh, and another family of brothers I just recalled:
The Targaryens in the Dunk & Egg stories.
- Daeron is a drunk, like Aeron's original iteration
- Aerion is an outlaw type, like Euron or Renly
- Aemon is a loyal, self-effacing type
- Aegon/Egg is still unformed, so we don't know. We don't know what kind of a king he was or how good a ruler he was (though he had Dunk with him, I am guessing, from Jaime's list of Kingsguard leaders, which includes "Ser Duncan the Tall").

Baelor tells Dunk before the trial that Maekar is disappointed in his sons, which is why he is lashing out at Dunk. Maybe the problem is that he was wishing for a Balon/Robert/Tywin/Brandon type and instead only had the other three. You could say the same thing about their generation too, to a degree. Baelor is the hero type, while Maekar is either the outlaw-malcontent, or the dutiful supporting-cast brother. The description of their roles in the battle with the Blackfyres, as the "hammer and anvil" of the loyalist forces, suggests the latter. We know another brother was king before Maekar (during "The Sworn Sword," as a matter of fact), but not how good he is or how that relates to his role among their family. And, too, there is no real indication that a brother from a particular role would necessarily make a good or bad lord. Tywin was probably the most capable of the Lannister brothers, but his analog among the Baratheons, Robert, certainly was not the best ruler in his family. Stannis and Renly were probably both better rulers by the time the series starts.
Rob Munnelly
33. RobMRobM
@32 - great and really thoughtful post but one caveat - the looking forward sections of the Dunk and Egg discussion post-date the Sworn Sword and thus involve matters we've been trying to avoid for spoiler reasons. A mod should white them out if practicable. Sorry but dem's da rules....
34. Lyanna Mormont
Yeah, it took me more years than I like to admit to clue into the Damp Hair thing. I'd blame it on not being a native English speaker, but I'm fluent enough to never have problems like that otherwise.

I do enjoy the Ironborn "color" - which is such an ironic term here - he provides. His own personal history, his family history, his views on the succession. Also, if the Goodbrothers are named Gorold, Gormond, Gran, Greydon, Gysella and Gwin, and the (male) Greyjoys all have names ending in -on, it makes me wonder what was up with Donel. Named for someone? We'll probably never know, but I like the inclusion of little details like that.

Also, screaming iron hinges. And that call for "Aeron King!" has a strong feel of "Theoden King!" Except, of course, deconstructed.

I like the first look at Dorne, despite the slight oddness of Areo Hotah. (Sometimes I wonder if the reason these chapters have titles instead of names is because Aeron, Areo, and Arya as chapter headings would be too confusing.) The Water Gardens, citrus fruits and pomegranates, colorful clothes and darker skin/hair/eyes. I do like the Sand Snakes, and Doran as well. Not to mention the way Dorne just doesn't follow the same rules as the rest of Westeros - gender-blind primogeniture, "I was abed with the Fowler twins when the word reached me" just casually tossed out...

And the way Doran speaks of talking to Oberyn before he left made me sad. "We were eating oranges" reminded me of Stannis, and Renly's peach.
Chris Nelly
35. Aeryl
FYI, the assumption that we've gone back in time is correct. So some of the events of ASOS haven't played out yet.

Also, if this considered spoilery please flag it, but I always liked how well the titles sum up the contents of each book.

Game of Thrones-the king is unseated, the game begins
Clash of Kings-the war of Five Kings begins
Storm of Swords-the sworn lords(i.e. their swords) storm against their kings, i.e. Boltons, Freys, and Tyrells.

Wonder what Feast for Crows bodes of this one?
36. 1rio1
I have to say I agree with Leigh 100% (and I don't agree with her on a whole lot) when it comes to the weird new chapter titles. It becomes even more of a mess when you mix back in the usual names "Jaime" "Sam" etc. and then start to change existing names to the weird new titles "Alayne" "Cat of the Canals". GRRM has said there is a method to his maddness, but to me it just irks and takes me out of the story since its such a weird breaking of the 4th wall thing to take the characters identify issues and stuff them down our throat 4 books into the series. I hate it and wish he just used the original chapter names. (roll over to read).
37. GarrettC
I first noticed the POV slippage way back in Game of Thrones, when it was most obviously a Dany problem. It represented one of the things that continues to leave me with ambiguous feelings about the series, because for all of the investigation of sexist tropes the series performs, there was still this third person narrator who got close enough to just about every character to represent their points of view without editorializing too much, and then this other third person narrator in Dany's chapters who got close enough give us her point of view but also stayed far enough away to creep on her CONSTANTLY. There are a lot of observations about Dany's body and such in her GoT/ACOK chapters that absolutely do not come from her head, and it's creeeepy. Even creepier since she's more or less singled out among the female characters to be narrator-creeped out on.

I can defend the feminist and other progressive moves the books make for days--I really can--but I also can't deny that it's a progressivism that's dancing a tango with prurience and exploitation. Sometimes the balance is fine. Other times it's creep-tastic.


Also, not a fan of the alternate name thing. I remarked to somebody that it's something like 3 words every 50 pages, so it shouldn't bother me at all. But it really does.

Generally, I think these early chapters in FFC, like the prologue, are largely wheel spinners. Aeron's chapter is a big fat pile of "HEY LET ME REMIND YOU ABOUT A BUNCH OF STUFF YOU SHOULD ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THE GREYJOYS, OH AND ALSO KINGSMOOT BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO REPLACE BALON WHICH IS INFORMATION YOU SHOULD ALREADY KNOW."


Which is kind of all well and good because it's nice enough to see these places and meet these characters, but it doesn't give the story a whole hell of a lot of a movement. I think it takes a while before FFC really does start moving the story forward with actual strides instead of tip-toes, actually.

For all my complaining, though, I'm still reading. So, there is that.
Chris Nelly
38. Aeryl
Also, quick note, not all the Sand Snakes are Ellaria's daughters. I don't think any of the ones we just met are.
Chris Nelly
39. Aeryl
@36, You have spoilers in your post.
40. GarrettC
Also, I took it as implied that Aeron is to the Drowned God as Thoros is to R'hollor--though his attitude toward the whole thing is closer to Melisandre's. It seems to me that he actually is reviving people with assistance from his god, though.
Adam S.
41. MDNY
Speaking toward the resuscitation of Aeron's drowned men, the fact is that while CPR is often unsuccessful, CPR for those who have drowned has a much higher success rate, especially when victims receive it soon after drowning. Since Aeron revives his drowned men immediately, it is totally believable that he has a 100% success rate, and does not mean that there is a true godly blessing/supernatural occurance.
42. Ryamano
I don't think Aeron has any actual powers. I think he's just a born again Drowned Man. Born again religious people can be some of the most fanatical of them all.
43. GarrettC
Well, the fact that it's believable, if unlikely, speaks toward Leigh's old point about whether certain things really are magic or not. It's clear that the question of Aeron's abilities is one of the ones that's being held over the liminal space--even if it shades a bit more toward reality than magic.

But I also think the stories are clear that magic is real again and that the gods--except for maybe the really old ones--are active. To me, that shoves every bit of liminal skullduggery over in the direction of "magic".

It's certainly possible that Aeron is just getting lucky, but like I said I think it's also clearly implied that he's not.
Sasha P
44. AeronaGreenjoy
@30, 31, 41: Thanks for clarifying that. I was learning Wilderness First Aid, where the lack of quick hospitalization would of course lead to a lower success rate. No, I never thought Aeron's success indicated magical powers, just experienced expertise. Though magic could now be starting to factor in, as noted in 43. Who knows...
George Jong
45. IndependentGeorge
@44 - but your original point stands - Westeros-level technology is much more in-line with modern wilderness survival than an ambulance equipped with a defibrulator.
Jonas Schmiddunser
46. Jineapple
...I don't think I ever actually caught on to the Damp-Hair thing. I'm German, and in my head I pronounce it in a german-ish way, something like Dump-Huh-Ere.

I still like FFC a lot, but the chapter titles are irritating, I agree.

As for the drowning, I remember that when Theon came back to Pyke, Aeron distinguished between real drownings and some "splashes with water" or something along those lines. So I interpreted it that it worked the same way as Thoros' Kiss of Fire - An old ritual that suddenly works again as it should. So yes, I think Aeron has some power and those people really drown.
47. Shadowspawn
Yeah Leigh Martin beginning to give titles instead of titles really started to bug me too and (roll over for possible spoilers) as far as I remember Victarion and Barristan are the only 2 like that who ever get their names put on the chapter
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
48. AlirozTheConfused
As for the animal traits

I think that they're not so great

Starks don't mark their territory

Lannisters ain't lucubratory

Tullys aren't oily, sand snakes have limbs

Hoat's hair ain't noily, Gendry lacks zimbs

And where's the house with a sigil of gnat?

Or mosquito, termite, or something like that?
49. chapterTitleWhoCares
you're all amusing. Couldn't care less what the chapters are named, personally (or what icon they use, like in WOT). Give me story, dammit!
Rob Munnelly
50. RobMRobM
@48 - in the Dunk and Egg Mystery Knight novella, a character has a snail for a sigil. Close enough?
Yuliya Geyko
51. kassiva
Totally agree with Leigh, Areo chapter was odd - I lost who was the "narrator" after the 2 or 3 paragraphs. But real oddness was formed for me by two conflicting feelings:
1) Such ambiguity of POV agrees with Martin's prologue style - POV isn't important by himself, all what matters - situation, background.
2) POV is a stranger from who-knows-where Norvos. Through the small depictions it seems like the great City, much more citiest than dirty Sunspear (again, why all Westerosi capital-like cities are drowned in mud?!). His mother had dress with squirrel fur, he came to Dorne in the furs and leather, so it is somewhere in the North. Bearded priests and usage of axe... Is he VIKING? Holy Valhalla, I need to know more about this Norvos - before I thought that all non-Westerosi lands are Africa-like.
So, that blew my mind - this character seems to be unimportant and yet he has a great backstory. Please, somebody, give me a smaaall spoiler - will we see Norvos later?
Let's move to the Prophet chapter. As I see in the comments, there is dispute about whether Areon (wtf, this ironborn's name sounds too targarien) has real powers, like Thoros. Here I recall a Patchface (this poor Stannis court fool). He is another Drowned Man, reborn again, like Areon. Before - the funniest boy in the world, after - dangerously mad. BTW, he saw underwater king and his hall (I don't remeber exactly, but he often sings something that is "under the sea"). So, we have two miracle-undrowned-men, one is court fool, another is religious fanatic. Obviously, salt water damaged both minds, but question is - is it really water or yet-another-gods? Sometimes, Patchface seems to be a prophet too. That's why, I think, if Thoros can revive to life with help of fire, North has its Others, why not to be some water-gods? If he really saw Drowned God, we are not allowed to blame Areon with his obsession towards the Old Ways. Because it's not a religion - it's a reality. And in some ways, this all sounds like mocking Seven Gods - all gods and magic have more power than Official Westeros Religion.
52. Jaqen Hgharrr
Writing inconsistencies - I told you. Begining of the decline. Some good parts in this books but its pretty much a down hill from here.
I havent noticed the gramatical shift so much myself, but yes, of course. Once pointed out it fits with the... rest.
53. Methidextrose
Ok, I didn't read all of the comments yet, so this may have come up already (and hopefully it isn't too "spoilerish"), but Martin does very interesting things with the concept of "identity." Whether it's the indentity of someone changing into something else or the way they refer to themselves both internally and in the world, and I think that these chapter titles are the natural progression of this idea.
Pirmin Schanne
54. Torvald_Nom
@51: Norvos lies on a similar latitude as Harrenhal, but probably on a higher elevation. Keep in mind that just because we've only seen the southern (and during A Game of Thrones, middle) parts of Essos so far doesn't mean that there are no different terrains around.
55. Minstral
The fact that these two men tend to strongly adhere to their titles always seem to suggest to me, on re-reads only, that these men simply abandoned their personal identities to a degree and opted to identify with their profession. For the likes of Aeron, to refer to himself as the Prophet and the Priest is a identity of strength to him whereas his name is synonymous with what he considered weak and "a door with a creaky hinge". So for him he was shocked out of his old self and into a new one.

For the likes of Hotah it's a bit easier to discern as to why he would consider himself just "the Captain of the guards". His vow is simple (Serve, Obey, Protect) and it has been drilled into him from an early age by the priesthood of Novros. As why we see Hotah kind of referring to his own voice as he does..... welllllllllll this might come across as a bit of a feeble attempt to rationalize this, but Hotah does seem to, at times, come off as very perceptive of those around him and his surroundings. And throughout this chapter he goes on and on about the difference between Dorne and his home at Novros and how it shocked him at first, but that he eventually grew very accustomed to his second home with his steel wife. It's sort of like a shock that Aeron could have experienced, and that Hotah is just really aware of his own differences between himself and what is "ordinary" in Dorne.
Sasha P
56. AeronaGreenjoy
@49: House Ambrose has a bunch of red ants for a sigil, as mentioned briefly later in AFFC. I don't know why they do, but ants are among the most multitudinous, pernicious, and collectively-powerful animals around. They would be a fitting Frey sigil, come to think of it. @50: Oh yeah, I love that sigil. *glances over the heraldry lists on and is intimidated by all the words I don't know*

@51: Yessss, and well said. My other response to this chapter was "Oh, he needs to meet Patchface!!" I adore Aeron madly, but Patchface speaks so freely and lyrically that it's no wonder Mel dislikes him, even if she seems to vastly out-compete him as a missionary.
57. TheAndyman
AFFC has a lot of weird things happening in it. I feel it is generally regarded as the weakest in the series to date, much like Crossroads of Twilight in the WoT. And aside from the obvious narrative errors, like the one you highlighted, I feel like this is kind of unfair. This book is really weird and long but it has some very interesting movement in it. We get to meet some characters that have puzzled us for a long time and visit strange new areas like Dorne that have played a significant sideline role this whole time, with new features that may or may not have a payoff in the end like the changing the chapter titles' rules.

All of that said, I suppose of the five written this is my least favorite installment to date; but I don't hate the book. I like it plenty, but I love the others more.
58. kiwifan
Hey Leigh, I was also annoyed by the chapter titles. GRRM refuses to tell us why, stating "there is a method to his madness". One theory I have read is that all chapters are labeled how the characters see themselves at the time. I kind of makes sense and explains why Ned's chapters are called Eddard and not Ned. Again its just a theory and until GRRM spills the beans its not confirmed. Hope it helps, I wish I knew when I read this book for the first time.
59. Remi Despres-Smyth
I've wondered in the past what the deal was with the chapter name changes - it seemed odd to me too. I wonder if it consistently signals the difference in the chapter's narration then? GRRM has said that there is something to it, but the reader needs to figure it out him or herself.
60. Ryamano
@ 51

Davos believes he was saved by the Mother (one aspect of the Seven) after the battle of the blackwater. This happens in his first chapter in ASOS. He could just be delusional, with thirst and hunger. It's subtle, but it's there. It's not as shiny as the fire-magic that Meliseandre used against the warg.
Yuliya Geyko
61. kassiva
Yep. But in fact, it was the only one event of the presence of the Seven. Much more it was described as someone prayed to them a lot and nothing Good happened. Especially it was true with the Catelyn Stark.
Eli Bishop
62. EliBishop
Although I know a lot of readers can't stand the Iron Islands chapters in AFFC, I really love how Martin opened up their world for a broader view than we'd had before. A less thoughtful writer might've just thrown in a couple of unusually nice Ironborn: see, they're not all assholes. But Martin lets them still be (nearly) all assholes, while showing that their culture isn't as simplistic as it seemed and that Balon's refrain of "Old Way = piracy = purity, everything else = decadent nonsense" isn't really all that the Iron Islands are about. Guys like Balon and Aeron are obsessed with an idea of their own heritage that's pretty selective— it's unlikely that the islanders 300 years ago were all super-religious super-pirates, since, as we learn here, they've got a fair amount of non-coastal territory where people are doing more boring and practical things, and probably always have been (which was also true of the Vikings in our world).

So Balon and Aeron, and their efforts to make the islanders more militant, are a nice illustration of how radical reactionary movements work. Like all fascists, they've built up a mythology where certain aspects of the past— the ones that are the most violent, or most clearly different from other nations— are the only ones that matter, and all current problems can be explained in terms of having weakened and fallen away from that ideal. There are plenty of people who don't really take the mythology seriously, like the lords who are visiting Aeron here (I love their repeated brush-offs to his insistence that everybody must get drowned), but they'll go along with it if they think that's the way the wind is blowing.

Politics in the rest of Westeros seem to be much more about balancing loyalty and stability against personal ambition; ideology has been pretty far in the background. One thing that sets AFFC apart from the previous books is that Martin is showing ideology as a force to be reckoned with, and one that doesn't stand alone but takes advantage of other political forces and is taken advantage of by them too.
63. sofrina
commenting on the multi-religion aspect: i definitely feel that all the gods are real, and that they are all trying to fight "the great other" in the north. the seven, r'hllor, the old gods of the weirwood trees, the drowned god. not sure if they have joined forces, but they do all seem to be pushing pivotal players to their destinies. lady catelyn and robb have no place in the new world. i think their destinies were to help tear the old westeros down.
64. apokalypsis
Damp hair? LOL.
I always thought the Euron would sound like "urine" in normal (or fast) conversation.
Sasha P
65. AeronaGreenjoy
After three books of Really Horrible Things happening across Westeros, I am amused by the Ironborn's belief that people in the "green lands" are all sissy, decadent wimps.

Their whole ideology is an interesting extreme of Might Makes Right. For lords, merchants, and sellswords, money = might = right, and might = money = right; you're entitled to buy anything you can pay for and do or sell anything you can get paid for. Outlaws would add that it's fine to take by force what you can't buy or earn. But to some Ironborn, only might = right, and buying anything is shameful. I'd have liked to see Balon and, say, Littlefinger debate the matter.
66. Hydroxide
"Merlyn" translates as "Sea fortress", which is an appropriate name for an island lord...
Eli Bishop
67. EliBishop
GarrettC @37: I disagree that the backstory in Aeron's chapter is "A BUNCH OF STUFF YOU SHOULD ALREADY KNOW." Before now, we've only seen the Iron Islands through Theon's eyes, and he was totally focused on his own place within his family; if we had gotten a bunch of information about his uncles at that point, it would've been out of place and wouldn't have contributed anything to the story. Much better to bring it in through the POV of Balon's brother, at a time when Balon's death has made all this stuff important.
Eli Bishop
68. EliBishop
@66: Just for the sake of nitpicking: Myrddin, the Welsh name of the Arthurian character Merlin, is sometimes said to mean "fortress" based on the following associations: an earlier Myrddin character came from Carmarthen, and the name of that place is derived from "fortress", so Myrddin was probably just a shortened version of Carmarthen... but the problem with that is that the "Car" prefix of Carmarthen is the part that means "fortress." Anyway, there's no "Merlyn" with that meaning as far as I know. "Merlin" in English is a kind of hawk.
69. WCjobber
The chapter heading thing never bothered me, at least not once I twigged to one of the central themes of the book which is(without getting too spoilery) mostly about the fluidity of identity, and both of these chapter headings display it subtly. Aeron defines himself more by his religion than his family at this point, so he's The Prophet, and Areo Hotah is a stranger in a strange land, far from home, and all that's really left to him is his job as The Captain of the Guards. They take on the roles they need for the situation they're in.
Adam S.
70. MDNY
@69 Good point! The theme of names, and the power they have to both represent us and define us, as well as their fluidity, comes up consistently throughout this book, starting with these first 2 new characters.
72. Maddy1990
really sorry just realised that comment contains a spoiler that probably should have gone in the other thread. I don't know how to delete it because I'm an epic fail, so someone else can or white it out. Again, super sorry!!!
George Jong
73. IndependentGeorge
Does anybody else mentally adjust 'Kingsmoot' into King's Moot ("The King is moot.")? It's kind of like Futilism, in my head.
Rob Munnelly
74. RobMRobM
@73. Nope. But I did have the thought - Isn't King Smoit a character in the Chronicles of Prydain?
Yuliya Geyko
75. kassiva
@73, yes and no. I am not shure is it King's Moot (moot of choosing a king) or is it Kings' Moot (all those possible kings are mooting with each others). If the first one, it sounds like democracy, if the second one - more like yet another war of N kings but with the words to defend and to attack.
Steven Halter
76. stevenhalter
For a discussion of the "moot" part as in:
In Anglo-Saxon England, a folkmoot or folkmote (Old English - "folk meeting", in modern Norwegian - folkemøte) was a governing general assembly consisting of all the free members of a tribe, community or district.

So, the "moot" part is a pretty clear borrow.
Yuliya Geyko
77. kassiva
@76, good reference, but - it's hard to image that all free people of the Iron Islands will gather in one place and will have fruitful conversation. Maybe tribe of 20-50 people can accomplish that, but not the whole society. That's why this moot has to be:
a) representative organ, like parlament, where its members can promote anyone they want (from inside and outside of this organ)
b) finite number of possible self-promoted candidats and voting system (similar to Black Watch)
As it's called "moot", I think about variant A. But this way it has possibility to become kings' moot, if every representative will promote himself.
Definetly I hope, it will be clarifed later.
Rob Munnelly
78. RobMRobM
One interesting note - "Moot Court" is the common term for the practice trial process used by U.S. law students to develop on their feet trial skills.
Steven Halter
79. stevenhalter
Aviskase@77:Right, I would expect that it will be some representative sample in this case.
Sasha P
80. AeronaGreenjoy
@73, Hahahaha, some people would say that all of these kings are moot in the face of impending external threats.

The word "Kingsmoot" mostly reminds be of the Entmoot in LotR, even though Ents and Ironborn are very different.
81. kiwifan
#71 still has spoilers. Please white out the character's names
Tabby Alleman
82. Tabbyfl55
Wow, I just learned something!

I've been familiar with the term "Moot Court" since high school, and I always assumed it was called that because its outcome didn't really affect policy. Therefore it was "moot", as in, pointless.

Now I know better! cool!
Jessica Trevino
83. Ciella
I know this is an older post, but I'm re-reading AFFC and thought I'd re-read what Leigh did so far and was struck by her comment about beauty in regards to commoners/nobles. I think beauty/ugliness is really interesting in ASOIF. I'm always taking the descriptions in the book with a big ol' grain of salt.

For example, Tyrion is always described as grotesquely ugly, but how much of that is physical-unattractiveness by today's standards and how much of it is the HUGE prejudices of Westerossi culture. If Tyrion (before the nose-chopping off) was transported to our world, would be consider him horribly ugly or just a a normal guy with dwarfism? The same applies to Brienne as well. How much of her ugliness is related to her tallness, male clothing, short hair, etc.?

When Hotah remarks on the beauty of Nym vs the ugliness of Obara, how much is influenced by the fact that the rich and powerful were always the standard in beauty? There are quite a few portraits of beautiful men and women from centuries ago that would be considered homely by today’s standards. Is Nym beautiful objectively (if there is such a thing) or is she beautiful because she looks like a noble woman and noble women are considered beautiful? Just some thoughts I'm mulling over.
84. Eric Longridge
Actually, it's pretty well established that Theon would inherit before the others. Victarion says that he'd support any of Balon's sons (Theon included). Euron had to drown some people for saying that Theon was the rightful King of Westeros. The Maester even says it in this chapter. I think personal dislike for him and the show blind people to these facts.
85. TimWolfe
I'm just doing a re-read of the series, and following along here -- and enjoying the heck out of your long sojourn through these books, Leigh. Thanks for doing this series!

I just wanted to chime in on something nobody seems to have picked up on here, spec. the Aeron chapter and his constant fears/nightmares of "a squeaking hinge" -- the references of which seem to be associated with Euron.

Sounds like a past trauma to me, and given his overwhelming antipathy for Euron, fear or dread of him even, I can't help wondering if when quite young Aeron was molested by his older brother (who is demonstrated at every turn to be slefish and cruel, no great surprise there).

Certainly nothing too strong to support this, but why exactly is Aeron constantly having nightmares about a squeaking hinge? (Near the end of the chapter, "for once" his sleep was not troubled by a creaking hinge.)

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