Thu
Feb 13 2014 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 3

George R R Martin A Song of Ice and Fire 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 3 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 3 (“Cersei”) and Chapter 4 (“Brienne”).

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!

Quick plug before we begin: my fellow Tor.com blogger and dear friend Kate Nepveu needs participants in her annual Con or Bust auction! Please do click the link and consider supporting a great cause while simultaneously getting some neat swag, because there is no bad there.

Onward!

Chapter 3: Cersei

What Happens
Cersei dreams she is on the Iron Throne, reigning supreme, until her dwarf brother appears and makes everyone laugh at her, and she realizes she is naked, and her writhing to cover herself makes the throne cut her up all over. She wakes to find Ser Osmund Kettleblack standing over her, and barely comprehends what he is telling her about her father being found murdered in a privy. She is relieved to hear that Tommen is safe, though not that Loras Tyrell is the one guarding him, and orders Ser Boros Blount to go make sure the dwarf is still in his cell, though she assures herself Tyrion could not possibly be behind it.

She thinks that if Tywin is truly dead, then Tommen is no longer safe, and she will need to move quickly to prevent herself being shoved aside. She is Lady of Casterly Rock now, she thinks, and “the only true son [her father] ever had.” She goes to the Tower of the Hand to see her father’s body, and wonders if she should weep and tear her hair, or appear strong and unfeeling. She is infuriated to discover that she had been sent for last. Qyburn, the ex-maester that had treated Jaime’s maimed arm, comes in, and she orders him to make her father’s body ready for the silent sisters.

They show her Shae’s corpse too, and Cersei insists that her father would never have touched a whore like her, and must have been questioning her about Sansa Stark, despite the fact that the girl is naked and strangled with Tywin’s own chain of office. She goes to the Kettleblacks, and tells them to make Shae’s corpse disappear, and that no one is to know she was there.

Jaime appears through the secret passage, having gone to see where it went, but tells her it ends where six different tunnels meet, all locked. He hugs her, and she whispers to him that he must take Tywin’s place as Hand. Jaime takes this as a cruel joke, though, and says he cannot rule. Cersei says that she will rule, not him, until Tommen is of age, and he replies that he pities both Tommen and the Seven Kingdoms, then. She slaps him, and Ser Kevan orders them to take their quarrel outside. Cersei reflects on how every Hand since Jon Arryn had brought her nothing but grief, and decides Ser Kevan would be a much better choice than Jaime, whom she judges has lost his courage along with his hand.

She reflects on what she should do to prevent Lord Mace Tyrell from taking even more power than he already had, what with getting Tywin to agree to betroth his daughter Margaery to Tommen, and then realizes Varys has not put in an appearance yet. She instantly decides he must have been part of the scheme to murder Tywin, and orders Ser Meryn Trant to find Varys and bring him to her. Trant leaves, and Blount returns to report that the Imp is gone from his cell. Cersei thinks of the prophecy the old woman had made to her, and is sure Tyrion is coming for her next, and has to sit down.

“Your Grace?” said Blount. “Shall I fetch a cup of water?”

It is blood I need, not water. Tyrion’s blood, the blood of the valonqar. The torches spun around her. Cersei closed her eyes, and saw the dwarf grinning at her. No, she thought, no, I was almost rid of you. But his fingers had closed around her neck, and she could feel them beginning to tighten.

Commentary
First immediate thought on seeing the title: goddammit, now she’s a POV character. Does this mean I’m going to have to like her too?

Sigh. Because, look, I have my biases, same as anyone else, and ergo Cersei’s probably going to have a lot less work to do to win me over than Jaime did, simply by virtue of my inherent instinct to sympathize with any female character angrily heaving up under the weight of the patriarchy bullshit all around her. And there can be no question that that exact struggle has been the defining cornerstone of Cersei’s entire life.

Still, that said, just because I feel sympathy for her problems doesn’t mean I approve of the ways she went about addressing them. And beyond that, I’m really not sure how someone so devoted to her children’s success can simultaneously come off as so intrinsically selfish in nature, but somehow she manages it. It’s almost bizarre, really.

Maybe it’s something about how she seems to regard her children – and Jaime – as far more extensions of herself and her family than they are people in their own right. Their Lannisterness is of far greater importance than their humanness, and while devotion to the betterment of one’s family is very admirable up to a point, beyond that point I think it just becomes about self-aggrandizement. And that, boys and girls, is not cool.

It is not fitting for Tywin Lannister to die alone. Such a man deserves a retinue to attend his needs in hell.

Wowww. Only a Lannister could put such precisely equal amounts of contempt and respect for a family member into the same sentence.

Ties in rather interestingly with my observations about family as commodity rather than loving support group, though, doesn’t it? I’m right to rag on Cersei for that, but something tells me that it was a learned behavior. Which may not excuse it, but it doesn’t certainly explain it. THANKS, TYWIN.

Have we been privy to this prophecy Cersei heard from the old woman before, or is this the first time it’s mentioned? I can’t remember. I guess it explains at least part of Cersei’s vitriol toward Tyrion, though, if it predicted that he would harm her in some way. And here I always thought it was just plain old snobbish bigotry on Cersei’s part. And, well, it probably is also that, but maybe this prophecy too. I wonder how long ago she heard it?

“Valonqar”: So I Googled this term, thinking it was yet another obscure medieval word I’d never heard of before reading this series, but I closed the tab quick when I saw all the results went to ASOIAF-related pages. So it’s a “valar morghulis” kind of thing, then (i.e. a word Martin made up) and I presume I’ll find out what it means at some later point. (Meaning: don’t tell me what it means.)

At the moment, though, just for funzies I’m going with it meaning “Dude what killed my dad inna toilet.” I can’t possibly be wrong!

 

Chapter 4: Brienne

What Happens
On the road to Duskendale, Brienne asks everyone she comes in contact with whether they have seen Sansa Stark, though she only describes her physically rather than by name. She is determined to keep her promise to Jaime and find her, but she is not sure where to look, since Sansa’s family is dead and her ancestral home is in ruins. She wonders for a moment if Jaime had given her the task as a cruel joke, but reminds herself of the sword Oathkeeper he had given her. And besides, she would find Sansa for Lady Catelyn’s sake anyway.

At dusk, she meets two hedgeknights, Ser Creighton Longbough and Ser Illifer the Penniless, who are extremely dubious of her attire but invite her to join them for dinner. Brienne hesitates, but she is both bigger, better mounted and better armed than either of them, so accepts. Longbough is insistent that she should accompany them to Duskendale “for protection,” ignoring her demurs, until Illifer identifies her crest to be a fake, and deduces she is the Maid of Tarth, and Renly’s murderer. Brienne thinks of how she loved Renly, and swears the strongest oath she can that that is not true. The hedgeknights are skeptical, but accept this. She is gratified to wake the next day and find herself unmolested.

They set out the next day, and come across a band of chanting folk calling themselves “sparrows,” transporting the bones of murdered clergy to King’s Landing. They call on Longbough and Illifer to “forsake their wordly master and defend the Holy Faith,” but the hedgeknights decline, and the party moves on. Longbough wonders who would murder a septon, but Brienne knows who would. They go on, and encounter a merchant, Hibald, and his servants, accompanied by another hedge knight, Ser Shadrich. Brienne asks if Hibald has seen a young girl with auburn hair and blue eyes, perhaps accompanied by a stout knight or fool, but he has not. They agree to ride on together.

Shadrich rides next to Brienne as they travel, and mentions that he is looking for Sansa Stark as well. Brienne hides her shock and pretends not to know what he is talking about, but Shadrich isn’t buying it, and tells her the eunuch Varys has offered a substantial reward for the Stark girl, and offers to split it with Brienne if they work together. She maintains her ignorance, but is shaken by the realization that she is far from the only one looking for Sansa.

They arrive at an inn, and Brienne offers to pay for a room for Creighton and Illifer, in return for their hospitality to her on the road, and ignores it when the stableboy mistakes her for a man. There is idle talk of Jaime Lannister’s maiming at dinner, and Brienne remembers dueling with him, and considers it “monstrously cruel” that his sword hand had been lopped off. Suddenly done with the talk, she excuses herself and goes up to her room for the night.

She still regrets the loss of Renly’s sword, but draws out the one Jaime had given her to replace it, the one he’d called Oathkeeper, and admires its superior workmanship. She thinks it “a sword fit for a hero,” and she does not consider herself worthy of it. She prays to the Crone to show her the way to not fail Jaime the way she had failed Catelyn and Renly. Then she lays down and waits till Hibald and the hedgeknights have settled in for the night before rising and sneaking out of the inn.

Her mare’s hooves rang upon the old stone bridge. Then the trees closed in around her, black as pitch and full of ghosts and memories. I am coming for you, Lady Sansa, she thought as she rode into the darkness. Be not afraid. I shall not rest until I’ve found you.

Commentary
First immediate thought on seeing the title: Well, but hey, this new POV I am totally stoked for.

…Except for how kind of terribly painful this was to read, watching Brienne just stoically endure a thousand stings and slights and microaggressions from literally everyone she encounters, watching her weather nigh-constant dismissal and belittlement and ridicule, all for committing the apparently heinous sin of being an “ugly” woman in “a man’s job.” (Sorry, I tried to type that sentence without the scarequotes, but I just couldn’t do it.)

Like:

[Ser Creighton:] “Shall we ride together for a time? I do not doubt Ser Shadrich’s valor, but he seems small, and three blades are better than one.”

Four blades, thought Brienne, but she held her tongue.

Or:

Brienne could feel their eyes. Despite chainmail, cloak, and jerkin, she felt naked. When one man said, “Have a look at that,” she knew he was not speaking of Ser Shadrich.

Or:

“A man would need to be a fool to rape a silent sister,” Ser Creighton was saying. “Even to lay hands upon one… it’s said they are the Stranger’s wives, and their female parts are cold and wet as ice.” He glanced at Brienne. “Uh… beg pardon.”

Lovely. Even worse, it was so painful to see how it has so deeply negatively impacted her own view of herself. Not merely in terms of physical beauty (which is bad enough), but even more importantly in that she can’t even see how much of a hero she is, just because she’s so often been told there’s no way she could be.

I mean, for Christ’s sake, she is literally on a quest, with a magic sword, to rescue an actual fair maiden. And just because she’s probably not going to try boning and/or marrying said fair maiden once she’s rescued her means she’s disqualified from the title?

WHAT.THE FUCK.EVER.

Once again, though, I have to give Martin kudos, for so well depicting here the smaller, more easily-overlooked predations of sexism as well as the larger, more obvious ones. Because that’s what is so often so difficult to explain about not just sexism but prejudice and bigotry in general: that it is the tiny unconscious things, the often innocently unexamined assumptions and encroachments, the hundreds of minor thoughtless remarks and behaviors, that wear you down, because they are small and inconsequential taken in isolation, but they are never in isolation; they are constant and relentless and ever-present, like the whine of a mosquito always, always, always in your ear, every day, over and over.

And yet when you point these tiny aggressions out, it is only taken as evidence of oversensitivity, of blowing things out of proportion, of being, dare I say, hysterical about it all: jeez, lady, it’s just a little mosquito, lighten up.

Yeah.

*blows out breath* Okay, on to other things.

I vaguely remember theorizing back in the day that Jaime was totes in love with Brienne but refused to acknowledge it, and I think I also said something at the time about wondering whether Brienne even remotely returned the feeling, but unable to answer one way or the other since we never got into Brienne’s head.

And, well, now we are in Brienne’s head, and I will just point out that the thing that made her go “fuck this I’m going to bed” was not her companions’ endless chauvinistic bullshit, but her thoughts about Jaime and the unfairness of his maiming. I’M JUST SAYING.

I do not know what is up with these sparrow people, but I find myself hoping I don’t have to. Know what is up with them, I mean. Because, really, we have quite enough rando crazy factions out there already, thanks, let’s not introduce any more for a while, mmmkay?

Then there’s this:

As Brienne mounted up again, she glimpsed a skinny boy atop a piebald horse at the far end of the village. I have not talked with that one, she thought, but he vanished behind the sept before she could seek him out.

And later in the chapter:

“I had a few,” Ser Creighton put in. “Some farm boy on a piebald horse went by, and an hour later half a dozen men afoot with staves and scythes.”

*raises confused but suspicious eyebrow*

Well, that is certainly not an accident. Hmm.

Also, I totally defend my mistake in thinking “valonqar” was a real word in the last chapter by pointing out the presence of “gyronny” in this one, which should absolutely be a totally fake made-up word, but apparently isn’t.

Also squared and least consequentially: “Illifer” is kind of an awesome name. The sobriquet “The Penniless,” however, is not. It did make me laugh, though. (And thanks to the commenter who provided me with the term “sobriquet” on the last entry, because that was driving me nuts.)

(I am learning all the words today!)


And that is about what I got for this one, kids! Have a thing with seven days in it, and I’ll see you next Thursday!

103 comments
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
1. AlirozTheConfused
I once had a thing with six days in it, Auntie Leigh!

But I gave it to my bor of Neigh!

I passed the time to my neighbor, no joke.

But the time flew away and the dawn broke.

The day was grey, and the winds blue

the moon rose, I tell you, it's true!

time ran out and the dusk fell

I siezed the day, and stayed for a spell.
George Jong
2. IndependentGeorge
And here, I reiterate my belief that FFC would have been modestly improved by making Cersei or Brienne's chapter the first POV in the book, tying us back to SOS in terms of both plot and character.
Rob Munnelly
3. RobMRobM
No, you haven't heard Cersei's story before.

Yes, getting into her head will be an interesting experience as we move forward in the story.

Yes, stinks to be Brienne in this prejudiced age.

Good pick up on the sparrows. We'll have to see if that recurs later.

Also good - no, not just good, impressive - pick up on the boy with the piebald horse. Again, we'll see where that goes, if any where.
AeronaGreenjoy
4. AeronaGreenjoy
You know, the circumstances of Joffrey and Tywin's deaths remind me of that AGOT saying "The king eats, the hand shits." I wonder if that was deliberate.
Rob Munnelly
6. RobMRobM
Re Cersei - I love her mix of perceptiveness (noting that Varys is missing) and cluelessness (assuming that Jaime has lost his courage when he questions her recommendation; and hating on the Tyrells without acknowledging that that really are contributing to the realm and should be managed rather than cut out). Also - why indeed wasn't she informed immediately of her father's death? She's right that late notice is troubling. Who was responsible for that and why?
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
7. Lisamarie
I love Brienne. Cersei, not so much. However, you have totally hit the nail on the head with both of these comments regarding the points about valuing family and children in as much as they are extensions of oneself, and also this idea of 'family' over a person's actual humanity, as well as the insidious nature of sexism (and the oft used accusation of 'hysterical' to shut somebody down).
AeronaGreenjoy
8. TG12
Cersei. Yeah. Cersei's new POV in this novel is interesting, yes, but for quite a different reason than her sibling Jaime's new POV in the last...

Brienne ... I have mixed feelings about. She's one of the, how shall I put it?, more-shaded-toward-lightside characters in the series. On the other hand, her journey in this book...pfff. I shouldn't preview it, I guess. I'm ambivalent.
George Jong
9. IndependentGeorge
Cersei Lannister: Menace or Terror?

I find her POV is absolutely engrossing.
AeronaGreenjoy
10. DRickard
Trying not to be spoilery about the Sparrows... but as the great British philosopher Jagger once said:
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need...(roll over to read; light foreshadowing)
Chris Nelly
11. Aeryl
Brienne's POV takes the place of Arya's. Arya was the one who was in the thick of it with the peasant class, showing us the effects of the war on them. Brienne is the one doing that, for now.

Cersei. Cersei, Cersei. Cersei is another Theon, IMO. With Theon in COK, Martin took a character you disliked, put you in their head and made them a character you loathed. I don't know if Cersei gets any more loathesome, but you definitely benefit from seeing her POV, and understand a lot now about things that have happened previously.
Rob Munnelly
12. RobMRobM
Wow. I just Googled something in this chapter and stumbled onto a theory I had never known of before that makes a lot of sense. *speechless* You, GRRM, are very very subtle.
Chris Nelly
13. Aeryl
@12, You better come over to the spoiler thread and share.
Captain Hammer
14. Randalator
@9 IndependentGeorge

Cersei Lannister: Menace or Terror?

Menor. No, wait: terrace.
Rob Munnelly
15. RobMRobM
@13 - been there, done that.

@14 - Menore or, more colloquially, manure?
AeronaGreenjoy
16. zambi76
Cersei Lannister: Menace or Terror?
Why not both?.jpg
I find her POV is absolutely engrossing.
Indeed. Somewhat disappointed that Leigh here is just freaking out she's a POV now and not much else. But then it also took me a re-read to really "appreciate" Cersei's POV right from the start.
JoeNotCharles
17. JoeNotCharles
You can tell that valonqar is a made-up word because it's in italics. (Actually that shows that, like valar morghulis, it's in a foreign language for the characters themselves. Not going to say which language, because I can't recall if it was mentioned excpliticly, but I think of it as being like Latin.)
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
Chapter 3 - Cersei:Well, that is interesting. I'm pretty sure this will be the first point of view from Cersei. Will GRRM now make us like her also or will we find out that she is just as messed up as we though and more? Well, only one way to find out, bat friends, on to the story.

OK, a dream of being on the throne and everyone is like mice below her. We're starting off in the messed up side of things, but then it is just a dream. Ah, she seems to harbor some fear and resentment towards Tyrion--who'd 'a thunk it?
This takes place right after Tyrion has offed Tywin--that very night, so we are back in the timeline at the end of ASoS. Since we are probably going back to the events in the Moot, that could get a bit odd time lines wise.

I didn't know Valonqar and so I did a quick google and saw it's a ASoIaF word--close that page. So, speculation: Cersei is using it to refer to Tyrion and it starts with Val like valar morghulis so maybe something like "man who has something to do with me whom I don't like".

She is quite concerned with class re: Ser Loras. So far her thoughts are pretty much what we would expect from her actions in the rest of the story. She's a hot mess. She seems to have quite a bit of underlying issues. Very concerned about being disregarded. Now, this isn't entirely unwarranted but seems a piece of the whole puzzle. Hmm:
It is not fitting for Tywin Lannister to die alone. Such a man deserves a retinue to attend his needs in hell.
I don't think we have heard a lot about afterlife beliefs so far. That seems like a rather Greek version where everyone goes to Hades.
Ooh:
My lord father had no use for whores, she thought. After our mother died he never touched a woman.
I think maybe Cersei had a blind spot here. And with "One man alone could not have killed her father." it becomes very apparent that she has rather massive daddy issues.

With the ending, it looks as if her dislike of Tyrion is blooming into full blown paranoia. So, she is set to become the out of touch with reality, cruel beyond reason, Queen Regent. That does not probably bode well for the Lannister rule. Also, so far not really liking Cersei in spite of seeing her point of view. Sometimes people are just that nasty. (We'll see if that holds out.)
Chris Nelly
19. Aeryl
@steven, You're on the right track with "val" which I too interpret as a masculine identifier.

At the time, I thought it was a rude name for a person with dwarfism like Tyrion.
George Jong
20. IndependentGeorge
Because I'm in the midst of reading Discworld, I can't help but giggle at any made-up fantasy term. So even though I know what this particular one means, my brain can't help but jump to it being either (1) a kind of weasel, (2) a kind of pastry with raisins in it, or (3) "Your wife's a big hippo."
Martin Cohn
21. arixan
Cersei's, POV are a land of rationalizations and justifications reminiscent of an Escher work. In fact it is my main gripe with the TV show, how much they have allowed Lena Headly to humanize her.
George Jong
22. IndependentGeorge
@21 - That's one of my favorite things about the TV adaptation. As I said earlier, I find the Cersei chapters riveting, but I find the humanized Cersei on HBO to be much more interesting, and a superior portrayal.

That said, there's still time for the HBO series //to show her descent into being a smug snake cloudcuckoolander//.
Mary Stallworth
23. Dilecta
Leigh,

In two paragraphs, you explained perfectly something that I have tried many times to say, but could not find the words. When you are part of a minority population, be it gender, ethnic, or class, it can be difficult to make someone in the majority population understand why that last "little" thing completely set you off.
It's not that particular "little" thing. It's the constant drip-drip-dripping of the "little" things.

May I please copy and paste them to use when I need to?

Also, kudos for recognizing this in the storyline, because that is something I had not even registered.
AeronaGreenjoy
24. MorsManwoody
@19 I don't think val- is a masculine identifier but my reasoning for that belongs in the spoiler thread.
Sara H
25. LadyBelaine
Leigh,

You missed one of my favorite little sublime touches of GRRM's writing, a little fillip if you will (will you?) about how Brienne asks a group of passing Silent Sisters if they have seen a red-haired maid, and they "shake their heads."

See! Because they are silent! Lovely!

I also enjoy reading how relatively clever Brienne comes across in this chapter, wary, resourceful and proactive. I think this is the chapter where she dusts the interior of her purse with flour so she can see if anyone has been filching her money... I also think this is the first time she refers to herself as Brienne of House Tarth. Which she is, while also being Brienne of Tarth (the place Tarth), i.e. the Maid of Tarth, i.e. Brienne the Blue.
Leigh Butler
26. leighdb
Dilecta @ 23:

Thank you, and sure. Just attribute, please.
AeronaGreenjoy
27. Black Dread
Somebody once said (probably Tyrion, maybe on HBO) that Cersie is cunning, but not nearly as smart as she thinks she is. I found reading her chapters - and examining that from the inside - fascinating.
AeronaGreenjoy
28. TG12
It's increasingly obvious - and this impression is only strengthened by getting into her head in a POV - that Cersei is plenty smart, along with ruthless and cunning, but she's utterly lacking in both wisdom and judgment....
Martin Cohn
29. arixan
Cersei is a narcisist of the first order, yes she is (to a certain extent) a smart lady, but she is totally self-absorbed. Everything that happens is a reflection on her, her relationships with her children, with Jamie, Tyrion and with Tywin.
Steven Halter
30. stevenhalter
Chapter 4 - Brienne: I don't think we've had a point of view from Brienne yet either although it kind of feels like we have. Maybe just because I rather like her. That would be an interesting methodology if GRRM would alternate Cersei and Brienne chapter. Here's someone to get mad at, here's someone to like.I recall that she had been sent off on a quest of some sort although I can't recall just what it was at the moment. Let's see what Brienne is up to:

Ah, that's right. She has the quest of finding Sansa. Cool. Going from village to village and asking everyone if that had seen a pretty blond girl is maybe not the most efficient way to do things (especially since we know Sansa went by boat), but Brienne is demonstrating the classic detective methodology of knocking on doors and taking down names.

I wonder if that skinny boy on the piebald horse could have been Arya? I will guess that it was.

Heh,
She had to have gone elsewhere . . . but elsewhere is a big place.
and
As easy to find one leaf in the wind as one girl lost in Westeros.
I'm liking Brienne's point of view--just as I expected. She has a good solid honesty about her. Quite the palate cleanser after Cersei's disturbed thoughts.

The hedge knights seem well intentioned although the story has conditioned me to expect them to turn into ravening honey badgers at any moment. Everyone is treating her about like I would expect a bunch of semi-ignorant guys to treat someone who doesn't fit their pre-conceived notions. At least no one has tried to kill/rob her yet. So yay? I guess that is a clear win in ASoIaF.
So Varys has offered a reward for Sansa as well as everyone else. Interesting that he doesn't know where she is at all.

Yes, Brienne is an actual hero on a quest with a magic sword to rescue a damsel in distress. That is all kinds of coolness.
Adam S.
31. MDNY
@30 Varys doesn't know where Sansa is because LF was very careful not to let his "little birds" hear anything. She only met Dontos in the godswood, where no one could spy on them (like from a hidden passage that Tyrion used). I think that Varys was the one from whom LF was most concerned with keeping her meetings a secret, and he even said as much to Sansa after she left Kings Landing.
AeronaGreenjoy
32. MoF
I'm a little sad that Leigh missed Jaime's comment to Brienne from his last chapter in ASOS:

"There’s a bay mare in the stables, as homely as you are but somewhat better trained.”

and this description from this chapter:

“Brienne’s mare was sweet to look upon and kept a pretty pace.”

Oh Jaime...
George Jong
33. IndependentGeorge
This early in the game, I'm taking all my Cersei thoughts to the spoiler thread. Cheers!
Janice Boyd
35. scaredicat
@4 -- the King eats, the Hand shits --

I think you're right!

I didn't notice the congruence of that saying with the deaths of Joffrey and Tywin when I read AFFC. Now you have me envisioning GRRM chortling while concocting these scenes. And I'm laughing a little twisted snicker for the appropriateness of their ends...
AeronaGreenjoy
36. Black Dread
@28. TG12

We will have that debate in a few months.
Tricia Irish
37. Tektonica
Cersei is all about Cersei. Everything is a reflection of her position or power...or lack thereof. People are tools to her. I applaud your description of the effects of sexism on her, as explanation of her behavior/attitudes, but talk about no moral compass!! She is cunning, but so blind at the same time. As it was said.....Not nearly as smart as she thinks she is.

Brienne is so noble. Poor lady. You know she has endured ridicule since she started growing. I would not like to be a woman in this society.

It's a nice contrast to put them one after the other, and compare their reactions to their treatment.
AeronaGreenjoy
38. SKM
(And thanks to the commenter who provided me with the term “sobriquet” on the last entry, because that was driving me nuts.)

*tips hat* At your service, milady.

@32--I never noticed that! Ha.
Janice Boyd
40. scaredicat
Cersei is the ultimate Westerosi stage mother. It's all about her.
Yuliya Geyko
41. kassiva
Can't share all this affection towards Brienne. She is a really stupid wench. Why else she would scream like parrot this "highborn maiden with auburn hair"? It's incredible stupid! She really thought that Sansa would travel looking like Sansa? And her process of logical thinking. She was so close... she remembered that Winterfell had fallen, that Starks had died... but she forgot about precious sister of Catelyn. Nope, I don't like Brienne. She can evoke some pity, I think she has deep psycholigical problems, and moreover, she might be raped. In this chapter there was mention of:
...risk of rape was always there. It was a lesson she had learned beneath the walls of Highgarden, and again when she and Jaime had fallen into the hands of the Brave Companions.
Maybe, it was not a rape but an attempt to. I think, her affection to weapons could have roots in it. And compare to her female-warrior counterpart, Arya (who is smarter), Brienne acts and behave like teenager. I even wonder why she is still alive?

Cersei. Brrr. I was afraid of this POV. I can't imagine me liking her. Thank you, GRRM, I don't have to. She is narcissistic hysteric woman. As I suspected she never really loved Jaime. Cersei loved herself in him. She wanted to be the daddy's only son (pff, son with wide spread legs). Maybe it's childhood trauma, girl in all-men evironment, without a mother. Again, it's pitiful, but she'll die painfully. Nope, I'm not mysogynist and sadist, and yet these two characters do ask for big trouble.
AeronaGreenjoy
42. Tenesmus
Brienne's chapters always make me wanna cry. Every one of them.
Janice Boyd
43. scaredicat
Brienne is a fool the way Ned Stark was a fool. They both have an idealistic internal code that guides their actions, independent of sense or caution. Westeros is not a land that accomodates high-minded, independent sorts. It's much safer to be sneaky and sly - and even that's no guarantee, as a certain valonqar can attest.
Eli Bishop
44. EliBishop
It's not for sure that Cersei's reference to Tywin being "in hell" indicates contempt for him. The Faith's concept of the afterlife hasn't been spelled out, but there have been lots of references to "hells" and none to heaven, so it may be that they've got something like the ancient Greeks: an underworld where everyone goes, except it's more unpleasant for some than for others.
AeronaGreenjoy
45. _Elena
Look, Leight, you can read from Cersei's POV AND still hate her.
I've been doing it for years ;)

And I loved reading your commentary on the Brienne chapter - look at all that raging feminism. The first time I read it I think I cried a little, and I hadn't cried reading ASOIAF since Bran's fall. So, yep, feels.
Eli Bishop
46. EliBishop
This bit from Cersei always cracks me up, where she tells Boros to kill the guys who were supposed to be guarding Tyrion's cell: "See that they sleep forever, ser. I will not suffer guards to sleep on watch."

It's a callback to Macbeth, where (uh, spoilers for Macbeth, I guess) Lady Macbeth gets the guards drunk, then Macbeth frames them for the king's murder, and conveniently kills them— the excuse being that he was so angry and distraught over the king's death, he just had to kill them for revenge, wouldn't you? Cersei has just implemented the same cover-up— ensuring that no one will be able to question the guards— except she really is blind with anger, and she's covered up someone else's crime that she's trying to investigate.
Yuliya Geyko
47. kassiva
@43, Duncan the Tall had the most idealistic internal code and yet it didn't prevent him from making wise decisions. Ned Stark was naive, not stupid, he thought that all had such a code. But Brienne... I wonder if she will change her approach after situation where it was easily guessed that she searched for Sansa.
And I can't agree with this "unfortunate woman-knight in the feministic world". She pointed this feminism too much. It's more about self-respect and self-awareness. These hedge knights... she thought about them as they made insults. But they didn't attempt to rape or rob her. They shared their meal. Why was help insult for her? Because this "three swords"?! My point of view is that this feminism is product of herself. Brienne isn't the only one she-knight in the Westeros. But she looks unhappy, she doesn't smile and it affects how others see her.
AeronaGreenjoy
48. _Elena
@ 47.
/My point of view is that this feminism is product of herself. Brienna
isn't the only one she-knight in the Westeros. But she looks unhappy,
she doesn't smile and it affects how others see her./
Please DO point me to another 'she-knight' who ISN'T a Mormont (ie from a different culture, enabled by centuries of tradition of fighting women AND with full support from their house). Brienne is considered, even by her own father and septa, a 'freak of nature', mocked and insulted every day -- and you blame her for 'not looking happy'?
Oh. my. god. I hope you're trolling.
(BTW, Ned was naive, not stupid - totally agreed. And so is Brienne, because she's definitely not stupid either.)
Leigh Butler
49. leighdb
Aviskase:

Well, thanks for proving my point, I suppose.
AeronaGreenjoy
50. Dragonriding Moogle
Brienne is one fo my favourites. She's a very well drawn character. She's not one of the more intelligent characters in the series, but she has a lot of other really awesome qualities. Honestly, one of the things I really like about this series is how there is such a range of intelligence among the characters, and also different types of intelligence. It's not something you often see; very often all the leads are just exactly as smart as they need to be for the plot to work, or else exactly as smart as the author.

I definitely don't think Brienne is stupid by any means--she's more stolid than quick thinking, though.
AeronaGreenjoy
51. Pom
@4
Its not "The King Eats, The Hand Shits" Its "The King Shits and the Hand wipes"

Its saying the King does whatever he wants and the hand has to clean it up. Its not likening the King/Hand relationship to some kind of human-centerpede setup.
AeronaGreenjoy
52. peachy rex
I can honestly say that the better I got to know Cersei, the less I liked her. (That's not a spoiler, I hope.) The Theon comparison is right on.

I've always thought that Cersei's great weakness is her absolute lack of empathy (in the strict sense); that's a brutal flaw for a would-be master manipulator. And it's not because she's an outsider in the power structure... Tyrion is even more of an outsider - there are a lot more noble ladies than noble dwarfs - and he's supremely empathetic. She just has no notion of what makes people tick (not even the twin she's been boffing for years!) - and, worse, she doesn't even realise that this is a problem.
Eli Bishop
53. EliBishop
@51: Both of those quotes are right— the former is from the first book, and the latter is a variation that they used on the show.
Sasha P
54. AeronaGreenjoy
I presume "rando" was supposed to be "random," but rather amusing. There are plenty of rand-o crazy factions around too.
Eli Bishop
55. EliBishop
@21 "it is my main gripe with the TV show, how much they have allowed Lena Headly to humanize her"

I don't want to derail this into a discussion of the show, but 1. although some of the added/changed material with Cersei does make her a little bit more sympathetic, or at least give her a different emotional range, there's also plenty of evidence early on that she's all kinds of fucked up (she tries to teach Joffrey to be more paranoid!); 2. "humanize" is a weird way to say "make more sympathetic", since Cersei is human; and 3. Lena Headey doesn't write the scripts. Personally I love Headey's performance (especially her scenes with Sansa)— sorry it doesn't work for you.
AeronaGreenjoy
56. zambi76
Brienna acts and behave like teenager.
Brienne is still a teenager. An older on (~18) but still a teenager.
AeronaGreenjoy
57. a1ay
Ties in rather interestingly with my observations about family as
commodity rather than loving support group, though, doesn’t it?

"What kind of father uses his children to pay his debts?"
"The princely kind."
Yuliya Geyko
58. kassiva
@48, @50 Sorry, if my comments offended you - all we have different personal and sociological background (in fact, I'm from different culture). I do not dislike Brienne, she's Good with the capital G. I can't like her, because I really want her to find Starks' daughters (hoorah, mini happy end), but with such optimism and (Dragonriding Moogle found the right word) stolidity Brienne is doomed to failure. I'm reading FFC the first time, and somewhere deep inside I see her death. And this all enrages me.
@48, as about she-warriors:
1) Mormonts. Nope, they are not from different culture. How their folks see them - it's one, but how other houses see them - it's another. And other northern houses accept it, nobody disrespect Mormont.
2) Awesome example is Asha Greyjoy. Iron Islands - there is a real feminism. Even their Drowned God prohibits women to rule. But now she claims a crown. Asha is dangerous and evokes loyalty because she is warrior, cunning and can joy.
3) Lady Rohanne (Red Widow).
4) Meera Reed.
5) Lady of the Leaves (needed to search through aSOS to find her name - she was from Brotherhood without Banners)
It's named ones, but definetly all Westerosi women can defend themselves someway. Wild ones (beyond the Wall and in the mountains) especially. Yes, it's not common to be a she-knight in the full meaning of the word, but the most important thing is that it's not prohibited. It's not welcome, and why it should? There are too much warriors and knight in Westeros and wiser women will choose to rule (at least as Tywin's wife), not to fight.
Rafael
59. Ryamano
When I first read AFFC I thought Brienne's POV was boring. But then I kind of got what was the point behind her POV (and the necessity to include it in the story), and now I'm more content when reading her. She's not one of my favorite characters, but now I like her story more (so much that I made a Brienne character in Mount and Blade and tried to wander Calradia much as she did Westeros).
Chris Nelly
60. Aeryl
@58, The Mormonts are from a VERY different culture, they are Northerners, which is much different from the midland South Brienne is from. They are also islanders, much like the Ironborn, where isolation and circumstance have dictated much of their behavior.

And again, you point out Asha, who's an exception that proves the rule, she was the last child the ruler of the Ironborn had, if he had any intentions of having a legacy through her, she HAD to be the way she was.

And Meera is an even more extreme example. Even the Northerners find the crannogs to be, odd.

But I can't like her, because I really want her to find Starks' daughters

You are also apparently unaware you are reading the wrong books. NO ONE IS RESCUED, they save themselves or they die.
Steven Halter
61. stevenhalter
We are seeing, in these two chapters, the real start of two character arcs. Both have some history with us, but both are about to undertake literary journeys.
Cersei is about to get all the power she has wanted. She isn't going to realize this and I predict that she isn't going to do well with it either in practice our as a person. I don't see her arc leading anywhere other than her doom. With luck, she won't drag all of King's Landing down with her.

Brienne, on the other hand, seems to be going off on a classic hero's journey. She has a trusty stead, a magic sword, an assigned quest for a damsel in distress and even an unrequited (unrecognized even) love (Jaime) back at the start of the journey to whom she has made a promise and, even a promise to the (not so) dead. My suspicion is that she is going to have hardship and have to endure the scorn of others (we have seen the scorn so far) but that she is going to be successful. Now, exactly what success means is tempered by the very nature of the hero's journey. Success for the quest does not necessarily mean a physically good ending for the hero. GRRM has shown his willingness to play with tropes and has somewhat set us up to expect her to die/fail in some fashion.
Death may, indeed, await her at the end, but if does die, it will be in some fashion that is glorious (to her, I'd prefer her not to die at all) as she returns/frees Sansa against all of the odds against her. That's a possibility. Another is that she wins through and finds Sansa, but discovers she doesn't need saving. Or, she saves her and returns her to Jaime only to find Jaime (as a result of or along with Cersei) dead. Lot's of possible "success" scenarios here. Maybe she could even succeed and get a happy ending. That's a trope we haven't actually seen Martin play yet.
In any case, her current actions of wandering around and asking about Sansa have already yielded her some information. She now knows that others are looking and that there is at least one reward--so she already has opposition. Littlefinger was effective enough in his capture-rescue? of Sansa that there are very few clues for Brienne to find and so actually finding Sansa is going to be a hard thing to do. That is fine and she is actually going about it in a nice methodical (and realistic) way. As she expends boot leather and horse shoe iron in her search, I would guess she will start to get some puzzle pieces. Conversely, she may become very frustrated and find herself not going anywhere, questioning the nature of existence and all that. But, when things start to look bleak, she may happen across a nice prophecy or find someone else has found Sansa and give her the place to enact her rescue.
In any case, she will probably be overcoming a number of obstacles along the way. I will guess she will also kick some ass of some of the people who would otherwise mock her and in the end prove herself extremely capable, fairly intelligent and probably get some ballads about herself in the future.
Yuliya Geyko
62. kassiva
@60,
You are also apparently unaware you are reading the wrong books. NO ONE IS RESCUED, they save themselves or they die.
I was being sarcastic) We all know that this is ASOIAF and common ballad-like end is impossible. But hope dies last.
I see your point that's why I said nothing about Dorn. And yet all this subcultures live in Westeros, they can't be totally different from others living here. There were some mentions about Catelyn successfully defending herself in the mountains, about Lyanna Stark who was similar to Arya. Again, they are mostly "northern", but it seems strange - North and Dorn have she-warriours and in the middle - nothing? Brienne has problems and not because of armour and sword. Remember, how Catelyn spoke about her - "child", feeeling sorrow for her. Yep, we can blame this cruel world, but when life gives you a lemon - make lemonade. She could laugh at her freakishness, she could made it her weapon. I feel that Brienne is Sansa deep inside.
I suggest to propose this dispute, coz I see your point, you see mine and there is no need to overpersuade each others. For me it is very interesting to learn how people from other cultures react to the same book and I'm glad to read your comments.
Sasha P
63. AeronaGreenjoy
Right. There are weapon-weilding women from one end of Westeros to the other, but with the possible exception of the Mormonts (?) Brienne is the first we've met who's a sword-bearing "Knight" in mainstream-culture manner. (Elia Sand appears to be trying for that as well, though I'm not sure if she likes swords as well as tourney lances; I only skimmed that TWOW chapter)
James Goetsch
64. Jedikalos
The following quote from your review made me realize just how much I love your commentaries! Thank you for your work.

"I mean, for Christ’s sake, she is literally on a quest, with a magic sword, to rescue an actual fair maiden. And just because she’s probably not going to try boning and/or marrying said fair maiden once she’s rescued her means she’s disqualified from the title?
WHAT.THE FUCK.EVER."
Chris Nelly
65. Aeryl
And yet all this subcultures live in Westeros, they can't be totally different from others living here.

I live in a state that is a fraction of the size of Westeros, and the variance in subcultures here dwarf the cultural distinctions we see in Westeros. People are a lot more diverse, especially defending on exterior factors like geography. And religion.

And religion is what I suspect is the major factor here, the people in the South follow the Seven, which is a very patriarchal religion overly concerned with acceptable roles for men and women. It's not held to as deeply in the North, and I won't comment on Dorne yet. Brienne is the only woman we've met who follows the Seven who has tried to deviate from her assigned role.
Rob Munnelly
66. RobMRobM
Aerona @63 - best to white out or edit that last sentence, eh?
Brandi Carrier
67. Brandi
I've seen Westeros described as the size of South America, and the distance from Dorne to the Wall being close to the distance across the United States. In both of these places the differences between different subcultures is enormous, sometimes even for people who live very close to each other geographically. I don't think it's really valid to say "they all live in Westeros so can't be that different culturally." I mean just look at the differences in lifestyle and philosophy between Winterfell and King's Landing.
AeronaGreenjoy
68. lampwick
@4 -- Weirdly, there's a lot of excrement imagery around Tywin. I'm not sure what to make of it, but pretty much every time he's mentioned, so is shit.
AeronaGreenjoy
69. GarrettC
My take on the whole "Cersei is smart, but not as smart as she thinks she is" line from an earlier book (and discussed upthread) is that she sure is as smart as she thinks she is. The problem is that she's also irrationally paranoid (a distinction I make because paranoid is the correct thing to be in her position, but people like Petyr and Varys maintain enough rationality in their suspicions to point theirs in the right directions; Cesei just points it EVERYWHERE... mostly...).
AeronaGreenjoy
70. MoF
This is going to come off as extremely petty, but her name is BRIENNE, not Brienna
Sasha P
71. AeronaGreenjoy
@66: Ack, sorry! I thought I did white it out, but for some reason it didn't stay that way. I just tried again, and will delete that bit if it doesn't work.
Yuliya Geyko
72. kassiva
@70, thanks, reedited all my comments. Always have confusion about correct names spelling =(
Maiane Bakroeva
73. Isilel
Re: Brienne's story, what always seemed wrong to me in her plot- line was that everybody immediately recognized her as a woman. I mean, in a society with codified dress and occupation segregation, wouldn't a huge, muscular woman in knightly armor be normally mis-identified as an (odd) man? Particularly if she also has a somewhat coarse face and a broken nose? Not to mention taking in account people's fear of giving offense to somebody obviosly dangerous?

Concerning Mormonts, we don't have their PoVs or even see much of them, so we don't know what they have to contend with. Not to mention that they marched with their own troops, whose patriotism and loyalty to House Mormont shielded them to a degree. There was open grumbling when Dacey joined Robb's bodyguard of heirs and again we don't have details on how that went down. Mormonts are also older and more confident than Brienne.

As to Cersei, she is not smart at all and didn't look like she could be since the end of AGoT at the latest, though even before that she committed several very dumb mistakes.
Tyrion is right about her - she has "low cunning" - which means that she can react quickly and seize immediate advantage. But she is terribly short-sighted, arrogant, impatient and doesn't feel or understand people.

P.S. Speaking of the show humanizing Cersei, frankly, I was glad because it always bothered me how much of a caricature and a collection of negative clichées of powerful/ambitious women she became after AGoT.
Ditto the general juxtaposition of children raised by/bastards of noblewomen, who are all worthless, cowardly mother's boys versus wholesome, promising bastards of noblemen and/or children raised by their fathers or other men. Again, almost a cartoonish adherence to negative stereotypes about women, alas...
AeronaGreenjoy
74. Maddy1990
I so want to say something about whether you'll end up liking Cersei more, but obviously I can't. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on her chapters though. She is a fucked up mess, but she is an interesting character and one of my favourites because she's so compelling in her awfulness.

I also love that you're becoming a Jaime/Brienne shipper because YES I want this so much and I don't care if it's sappy. Brienne is awesome, and it pisses me off so much when people are awful to her and don't realise how awesome she is. Realistic for the society she lives in, but shitty. I think I started liking Jaime more when he started being apparently the only person in Westeros who appreciates her as a person. A dude being (somewhat) nice to a girl and recognising her awesomeness beyond her physical appearance or non-conformity to traditional 'femininity' shouldn't be something I have to give someone credit for, but this book has given me low standards in that regard.
AeronaGreenjoy
75. Maddy1990
I don't know why, but I laugh so hard that Cersei denies that Tywin would ever sleep with whores, despite finding a naked chick in his bed. Because, I mean he's Tywin and he's my dad and he never had sex with anyone else after my mother died right? I just think it's kind of a relatable moment of not wanting to think of your dad having sexual needs because EWW GROSS
Marie Veek
76. SlackerSpice
@75: I suspect it has a lot to do with how Tywin treated Tyrion over the matter, meaning that Shae's presence in his bed makes him an enormous hypocrite. (Hence her imagining Tyrion and his comments about interrogating her naked.)
AeronaGreenjoy
77. Maddy1990`
@76 Absolutely. I understand why, but the fact that she seems to hero worship Tywin more than any of his other children, and that she wants to be the female Tywin, says so much to me about what is wrong with Cersei. Obviously Tywin's a hypocrite, but I always felt like he was more pissed at Tyrion sleeping with whores because he was indiscreet about it and brought dishonour on the family - he probably wouldn't have cared if it wasn't so publicly known. Or maybe not - it's not like Tywin needs an excuse to hate Tyrion or anything.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
78. AlirozTheConfused
@73: You're right that the show is really awful when it comes to portraying the illigetimate. It, with characters like Jon Snow, implies that the illigetimate are fundamentally neither good nor bad, but just like everyone else. This is simply a soapy lie. The illigetimate tend towards evils like snarkiness and personal hygiene and enjoyment of ice cream. Look at the William of Normandy, who butchered the English Isles. Look at the Adolf Hitler, who butchered Roma, mentally handicapped, Jews, and homosexuals. Look at Longespee, the original rat B******.

I won't say that there arent good illigetimates, there are, but they are rare. When you find one being awesome, you should make sure it gets legitimized.

Those who have sexual relations before marriage endanger the world by risking an illigetimate child. This is why marriage was invented, so that there would be legitimates.

Remember 1066. Never forget. Never forgive.
Captain Hammer
79. Randalator
@73 Isilel

Ditto the general juxtaposition of children raised by/bastards of noblewomen, who are all worthless, cowardly mother's boys versus wholesome, promising bastards of noblemen and/or children raised by their fathers or other men.

Huh? Where did that come from?

Most bastards mentioned in ASoIaF are neither here nor there in that regard. True, Joffrey fits your supposed theme, but then Myrcella and Tommen turned out perfectly fine despite being raised by Cersei.

Ramsay Snow was raised by a woman but actually takes frighteningly after his father, who wasn't there, which actually makes a case for nature over nurture and therefore against your theory.

As for non-bastards: Samwell Tarly was raised by his mother, is an all around nice guy, very promising and, despite seeming cowardice, one hell of a badass and the only known person in existence to actually kill an Other.

Cersei on the other hand was raised by Tywin and turned out a real piece of work.

Sorry, I just don't see it...
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
80. AlirozTheConfused
Note: My post 78 is completely non-serious. I do not mean to say that personal hygiene and love of ice cream are evils; nor do I mean to say that people should be judged on the circiumstances of their births.
AeronaGreenjoy
81. a1ay
Re: Brienne's story, what always seemed wrong to me in her plot- line was that everybody immediately recognized her as a woman. I mean, in a society with codified dress and occupation segregation, wouldn't a huge, muscular woman in knightly armor be normally mis-identified as an (odd) man?

But I don't think this is the case at all - if anything the reverse is true. Time after time, people she meets greet her as "ser" and refer to her as a man (until she takes her helmet off) for exactly the reasons you state.

And once she takes her helmet off it's immediately obvious she's a woman, because she doesn't have a beard - and it's made clear a number of times that a man without a beard in Westeros is a real oddity. Men who don't have beards get nicknames like "Beardless" and "Qarl the Maid", and every time we encounter a male character who's beardless, either because he can't grow one or because he's clean-shaven, it's remarked on in the text. Being bearded is the default state for men.
AeronaGreenjoy
82. a1ay
Ditto the general juxtaposition of children raised by/bastards of noblewomen, who are all worthless, cowardly mother's boys versus wholesome, promising bastards of noblemen and/or children raised by their fathers or other men.

Following on Aliroz's points, I think this is very confused. Yes, Lysa raising Robert Arryn turned out badly, and she raised him alone because Jon Arryn was south being Hand. But I can't think of many other examples in the books of noblewomen raising children alone - whether bastards or not. Maege Mormont raised five daughters alone (her husband, whoever he was, never appears and so is presumably dead) and it's generally agreed, I think, that she did a damn good job.

Robert Baratheon was around for the childhoods of all three of his (not biological, but no one knew that) children and two of them turned out OK.

Gendry's a royal bastard, raised (presumably) entirely by his mother - and he's turned out OK, as have Mya Stone and Edric Storm. Aurane Waters and Ramsay Snow ... haven't.
AeronaGreenjoy
83. _Elena
@82 actually, Jon and Lysa raised Robert together in King's Landing. She only left when her husband died - plus, little Sweetrobin's not a bastard.
Maiane Bakroeva
84. Isilel
a1ay@81:

Most of the younger men in ASOIAF are not bearded, especially in the south, so yes, Brienne taking off her helmet shouldn't immediately out her as a woman, particularly since her facial structure is in no way "delicate" and she has a broken nose to boot!
And yea, I know that GRRM didn't hold on to it, but it used to be more common for men not to have to shave and yet not be able to grow a beard until they were 20 or so. I.e. a famous American writer O'Henry described a 20-year-old guy in one of his stories thusly: "His face had not yet upturned to the humiliation of a razor; his eyes a cold and steady blue" (like Brienne, natch).

And anyway, this lady:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadezhda_Durova

managed to pass for a man for 10 or so years, in a milieu where men _were_ expected to grow facial hair as soon as they were able. Her inability to to do so did eventually affect her chances of promotion, but she wasn't recognized as a woman either, leave alone at the first sight, like Brienne is.

@82:

Robert didn't contribute to raising of Cersei's kids in any way, so they are clearly "raised by a woman". Joff is the worst collection of the mama's boy's seterotypes, with not a single redeeming trait. And Tommen, while OK, is presented as clearly inferior to Bran, childish, etc.
In particular, I never understood how Cersei, who values bravery so much, didn't in any way attempt to inculcate it in her sons. Tommen is just naturally OK in this department, I guess, while Joff was the worst kind of coward.
And, of course, Lysa.
P.S.: @83, there are theories that Sweet Robin is a bastard, since Jon Arryn didn't produce any living children with his 2 previous wives and seemingly had no bastards either.
Discussing Ramsey would be getting ahead of things, but it is important not to mix up presentation of his background in the show and in the books.

Whereas, Robert's bastards Gendry (orphaned early and apprenticed to a smith) and Edric Storm (separated from his mother since he was a baby and raised by Ser Courteney Penrose) are brave, capable and hearty lads, both. Throw in Jon, raised by Ned and without a maternal figure and supposedly his bastard, and the picture I am speaking of is kind of evident.
George Jong
85. IndependentGeorge
With all this talk of knighthood, I think it's worth remembering a few words of wisdom on the subject:
A knight's just a sword with a ribbon. Maybe it's prettier to look at, but its still there for killing.
(paraphrased, because I don't have my kindle handy)
AeronaGreenjoy
86. Maddy1990
Just because Brienne is considered 'ugly' doesn't mean it's impossible to tell from her facial features that she is a woman. Not to mention her voice is probably higher pitched. She often seems to get mistaken for a man until people see her face/ hear her voice etc.
George Jong
87. IndependentGeorge
@84: there are theories that Sweet Robin is a bastard, since Jon Arryn didn't produce any living children with his 2 previous wives and seemingly had no bastards either.
I've never held much stock in those theories, and Robin's health problems are a pretty good indicator that this is in fact Jon's biological son. Lyssa had a number of miscarriages and stillbirths, which is consistent with Jon's previous marriages; Robin surviving birth, but being sickly and epileptic, indicates he inherited the same genetic disorder that Jon apparently had.
Deana Whitney
88. Braid_Tug
Speaking of Gyronny. For a quick visual primer of medieval heraldic terms, check out:
http://www.apl385.com/gilling/herldref.htm

GRRM plays fast with the rules of color, (grey on white would not pass), but he uses many of the other terms and descriptions well.
Someone here or on the spoiler was talking about not understanding the shield descriptions.

Leigh and others have covered anything I wanted to say about these two chapters.
Adam S.
89. MDNY
@88 "grey on white would not pass" - er, a gray direwolf on a white field are the exact heraldry of House Stark (plus their House Motto).
AeronaGreenjoy
90. Tavi
@89, yes that's why 88 said GRM is playing "fast with the rules of colour".
Deana Whitney
91. Braid_Tug
@89&90: Yep. In Heraldry Silver is represented as White. Thus historically, Grey & White & Silver are all the same color.
So a Silver Wolf on a silver field would not show up very well from far away.

I understand he did it so the white field would represent the frozen snow covered North. It’s still a heraldically dumb shield. Even though I think the Direwolf is a kick ass creature.
Sasha P
92. AeronaGreenjoy
@88: Oooh, thanks!!! Now I'll understand all the ASOIAF heraldic descriptions, and learn lots of other words not referenced here yet.
Captain Hammer
93. Randalator
@89 MDNY

er, a gray direwolf on a white field are the exact heraldry of House Stark (plus their House Motto).

And now you know why he's killing all the Starks. He's embarrassed by his blunder and tries to get rid of it without retconning...
AeronaGreenjoy
94. a1ay
GRRM plays fast with the rules of color, (grey on white would not pass), but he uses many of the other terms and descriptions well.

No, this is wrong. There's no heraldic colour "grey" in our world. The only way to describe the arms of House Stark using our heraldic rules would be "Argent, a direwolf courant proper", with the convention that a direwolf proper is depicted as grey (just as there's a convention that deer proper are brown). And that would be perfectly correct by our rules of heraldry.

It's possible that Westerosi heraldry, unlike ours, does have a heraldic colour "grey", and in that case "argent a direwolf courant grey" is perfectly OK - it's colour on metal.
AeronaGreenjoy
95. a1ay
Some of the other Houses are much dodgier, heraldically speaking. Targaryen is a red dragon on a black field - that's colour on colour. Fail. But this may just be an example of the Targaryens living up to the words of their House, which are, if I remember correctly, "Oh, Really? Well, We Frankly Do Not Give A Sweet Goddamn What You Think, And If You Still Disapprove Of Our Conduct, We Suggest You Take It Up With Our Pet, Trogdor".
Deana Whitney
96. Braid_Tug
@92: Glad to help out.
@93: Funny.

@ a1ay: very good points.
It seems many modern people treat black almost like a "metal." There are so many things on it.

And there are always exceptions to any rule. Look at the Jerusalem Cross, gold cross on a silver shield. Metal on metal, no no. But it was the Holy City, so totally allowed to get away with that.

Thus the Targaryen, as Dragon riding conquerors, were allowed their Red on Black; or Gules on Sable, if you prefer. :-)
Captain Hammer
97. Randalator
@96 Braid_Tug

It seems many modern people treat black almost like a "metal."

Well, of course black is a metal. What else would it be...?
Valentin M
98. ValMar
This is for Leigh ;)


The picture is a bit too small- the name on the book cover is GRR Martin's.
AeronaGreenjoy
99. fairgood
Beware! Bamboozeled by target. I went to buy Season Three of Game of Thrones. I had season 3 on DVD in my hand, and right next to it on the end-cap display sat a row of Blue-rays (first blue-ray I've ever bought since I neither have a blue-ray player or HBO!) The security tag covered the word 'second'. I even talked to 3 different employees to make certain there were DVD's in the combo pack, and mentioned to each of them I'd been waiting nearly a year to see the Third Season. Needless to say, I paid cash, then hurried home to put the DVD's in my DVD player. Season two! Scammed
Captain Hammer
100. Randalator
Don't blu-rays (no '-e') and DVDs usually have spines with title/season number on it? Also, the different covers didn't clue you in?
George Jong
101. IndependentGeorge
@97 - Now we need umlauts. Victory goes to the house with the most umlauts in its words.
Deana Whitney
102. Braid_Tug
@97: funny!

@99: Ouch!! Anyway they will take it back?
Or could sell to someplace and get some of your money back.

Is there any difference in the cover art to help you out in the future?

@101, IG: agree.
Captain Hammer
103. Randalator
@102 Braid_Tug

re: BD/DVD

They look virtually identical. And by "virtually identical" I mean "completely different".

Season 2
Season 3

I have absolutely no idea how fairgood could confuse them, especially since he claims to have had the Season 3 DVDs in his hands right before picking up the "obscured" Season 2 combo pack.

Also, by his own admition he asked if the combo pack had DVDs in it (it did) and only mentioned on the side that he had waited one year to see Season 3 (which has nothing to do with what he asked the employees). If he wanted to make sure that it's Season 3, he should have explicitely asked, instead of expecting other people to do his thinking for him.

So
- didn't care about the vastly different covers
- didn't bother to take a look at the spine (which specifies the season)
- didn't bother to read the text on the back (which, too, specifies the season)
- didn't ask the employees which season he had in hand

"Scammed" my muscular buttocks...
AeronaGreenjoy
104. AprilW
In my Technical Communication class, for the research paper, some students have chosen to write about Sexism in STEM, but they haven't narrowed their topic further. In my comments to these, I keep pointing them to the Brienne-chapter commentary you have here, so suggest microagressions as a possible area to explore. (No idea if they watch GoT or read the books, I just think that section can stand alone.)

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