Feb 27 2014 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 5

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 5 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 6 (“Arya”) and Chapter 7 (“Cersei”).

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 6: Arya

What Happens
Arya watches from the deck of the ship as they approach the Titan of Braavos, a giant statue said to guard the city and (according to Old Nan) consume young highborn girls as sacrifices. Arya thinks of how both Syrio and Jaqen are from Braavos, and hopes perhaps she will like it there, even though it is not where she intended to go. The captain’s son, Denyo, tells her about the religion of Braavos, where he says they worship all gods; Arya has never heard of the Many-Faced God he mentions. Arya thinks of how there are only six names left on her list, now that she’d left the Hound for dead at the Trident: Ser Gregor, Dunsen, Raff the Sweetling, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, and Queen Cersei.

They come in view of the Titan, and Arya is astounded at how huge it is, straddling the channel, and then pretends not to be scared when it “roars” to announce their approach. They sail beneath the statue and into an immense harbor fronting the city, which Arya is surprised to see has no walls. Denyo laughs and tells her their war galleys are their walls. The captain approaches and bids her make ready to go ashore; Arya considers asking to stay, but she can sees the captain wants her gone, so agrees.

Another captain’s son, Yorko, rows Arya into the city in a longboat, where Arya is amazed to see the number of different shrines and temples to various gods. He brings her to a windowless temple of grey stone and drops her off there. The doors are half white and half black with carved moons on them. They don’t open at first, but Arya holds up Jaqen’s coin and says “Valar morghulis”, and they open.

Inside there are dozens of statues of strange gods, and there is a heavy incense in the air that makes her yawn. She comes to a pool with a young man weeping beside it, dipping his fingers in and sucking on them. Arya thinks he must be thirsty, so she fills a cup from the pool and offers it to him.

Valar morghulis,” he said.

“Valar dohaeris,” she replied.

He stands, and she sees he has been stabbed, but he only goes and lays down in an alcove. She sees other people in other alcoves, and something tells her they are all dead or dying. She is surprised by a young girl and a man, wearing half-white, half-black robes. The man tells her she is safe in the House of Black and White, and comments she is young to seek the favor of the Many-Faced God. Arya says she came looking for Jaqen H’ghar, but the man says he does not know him. She shows him the coin, and the man asks her name. He rejects all her various pseudonyms and insists on the truth. Scared but resolute, Arya tells him her true name defiantly. He says the House of Black and White is no place for Arya Stark, but she says she has no place to go. He asks if she fears death; she answers no. The priest lowers his cowl revealing only a yellowed skull with a worm crawling out of the eye socket, and asks for a kiss.

Does he think to scare me? Arya kissed him where his nose should be and plucked the grave worm from his eye to eat it, but it melted like a shadow in her hand.

The yellow skull was melting too, and the kindliest old man that she had ever seen was smiling down at her. “No one has ever tried to eat my worm before,” he said. “Are you hungry, child?”

Yes, she thought, but not for food.


Well. That, let’s just say, would not be my response to being asked to kiss a talking wormy skull.

I’m really not sure if that makes Arya seriously hardcore, or just out of her ever-loving mind.

Granted, it’s possible that she’d twigged by that point to the fact that she was hallucinating, and so knew the skull (and the worm) were fake, but I’m not sure that actually lessens the hardcore factor here. Or the crazy factor, really.

Because, of course, I’m assuming all this was drug-induced visions until proven otherwise. Because heady incense ALWAYS equals “conveniently plot-specific acid trip”, doncha know. That’s just how things work!

Also, I know what “Valar morghulis” means now, but do I know what “valar doheris” means? If I had to guess, I would say it meant “All men rise again” or something, since it seems like a call-and-response to the “all men die” phrase, but I could be talking out of my ass. I do that sometimes.

I skipped a loooooot of world-building description in this chapter, which I sense is going to continue to be a thing in this book, as we cross off more spots on our world map that we have only had mentioned in passing before. Braavos, apparently, is ASOIAF’s homage to Venice. I note with some amusement, by the way, that pretty much every epic fantasy I have ever read has at least one place that is suspiciously Venice-like. Which only makes sense, really, because Venice has no business existing outside a fantasy story in the first place.

The old gods are dead, she told herself, with Mother and Father and Robb and Bran and Rickon, all dead. A long time ago, she remembered her father saying that when the cold winds blow the lone wolf dies and the pack survives. He had it all backwards. Arya, the lone wolf, still lived, but the wolves of the pack had been taken and slain and skinned.

First of all, ouch. And second of all, this reminded me that Arya is no longer on the same continent as Nymeria, and what the hell is with that? I WANT MY ARYA-NYMERIA REUNION, DAMMIT.

“He has faces beyond count, little one, as many faces as there are stars in the sky. In Braavos, men worship as they will… but at the end of every road stands Him of Many Faces, waiting. He will be there for you one day, do not fear. You need not rush to his embrace.”

Sooo… death cult? Death cult! YAY!

…Okay, it’s probably more complex than that. But yeah, talking skulls and people hanging around being all vaguely moody about being stabbed, even if only hallucinatory, really seems to indicate a pretty strong death fetish vibe going on here.

What I’m saying is, I’m really not sure this is a proactive and healthily embiggening environment for an eleven-year-old. Even an eleven-year-old like Arya. No, especially an eleven-year-old like Arya.

Still, now I have gotten to read the phrase “No one has ever tried to eat my worm before”, which is not a thing I ever expected to happen, soooo… death cult! YAY!

(Sigh. One of these days Arya is going to get to go to, like, a wellness spa where the most traumatic thing that will happen to her is a rigorous massage, and then the world will end because we don’t get to have nice things.)


Chapter 7: Cersei

What Happens
Cersei rides in the litter with Tommen to Tywin’s funeral. She is worried that Tommen doesn’t stand up to her the way Joffrey did. Tommen comments that not many people have turned out for the procession; Cersei tells him the rain keeps them away, but knows that Tywin was not loved in King’s Landing, not that Tywin would have cared. The High Septon meets them at the Great Sept of Baelor, and Cersei recalls uneasily that he was one of Tyrion’s appointments. She thinks with satisfaction of her proclamation of her promise to raise to lordship any man who brought her Tyrion’s head.

Inside, Tywin’s body lays in state, with Jaime standing vigil; Cersei is irritated to see he is in white instead Lannister colors. She cautions Tommen to weep quietly. She remembers how Tywin’s gaze could unnerve anyone he turned it on, and resolves that now it is she who must do the same. She observes the gathered nobles as the service goes on, and resolves to find herself a spy among Margaery’s servants. The smell of death is oppressive, and Cersei thinks she hears a titter about a privy as they leave.

After the service, Cersei endures the fatuous condolences of the various nobles, including Lady Tanda’s daughter Falyse’s appallingly tasteless offer to name her sister’s Lollys’ child after Tywin. Cersei rejects the offer harshly, and moves on to Ser Kevan and her cousin Lancel, the latter looking very sickly. Lancel is very depressed about his impending marriage to a Frey girl, and Cersei quickly derails him from declaring his love for her. She thinks that knighting him was a mistake, and bedding him a bigger one, and she worries that he will talk about Robert and the brandywine.

She is not pleased by Margaery embracing her like a sister, but very pleased by Lady Merryweather’s promise that her friends in the Free Cities will watch for any sign of the Imp. Then Mace Tyrell descends upon her, and hints broadly about the now-vacant position of King’s Hand. He announces that his uncle Garth is coming to the city to take the position of master of coin. Cersei is infuriated at the arrogance and ambition of his move, and tells him that she has already promised the position to Lord Gyles Rosby.

Mace is incensed and begins sputtering, until his mother Lady Olenna appears and insults Cersei and Tywin while appearing to agree with her, managing to mention the smell in the sept to boot. Cersei says perhaps she should return to her roses in Highgarden, then, but Olenna protests she cannot leave until she sees Margaery safely wed to Tommen. She drags her son off, and Cersei, knowing her to be twice as clever as her son, mentally promises to see her dead.

Cersei collects Tommen and leaves, asking Ser Meryn Trant to bring Tommen a horse to ride back so she can ride with Lord Gyles in the litter. Gyles accepts her offer to be master of coin, though he coughs blood during it, as well as her condition to claim that he accepted the offer the day before. Cersei contemplates calling Petyr Baelish back to fill the role once Gyles dies, since she can’t imagine that Baelish will hold the Vale long now that Lysa Arryn is dead. Gyles asks who will be King’s Hand now, and Cersei tells him “my uncle”.

Back at the castle, Qyburn comes to see her, and reports that on the night Lord Varys and Tyrion disappeared, so did an undergaoler named Rugen, and shows her a gold coin he found in a hidey-hole in Rugen’s chambers. It is a Highgarden coin. Cersei decides to think about this later, and orders Qyburn to speak to no one of it. Qyburn then reports that the manticore venom on the Viper’s spear that is killing Ser Gregor (slowly and in great agony) was “thickened” somehow to be more slow-acting, by what Qyburn thinks is a spell. Cersei thinks they should put him out of his misery, but Qyburn suggests it would be useful to study this poison for future reference. He confesses that his maester’s chain was taken from him for his use of vivisection to further his studies. Cersei tells him to do as he wishes with Gregor, and bring her his head when he is done, as they have promised it to Dorne.

She dines with Ser Kevan, and brings up making him Hand. Kevan admits that making Mace Tyrell Hand would be foolish, but it would be worse to make him an enemy, and reproaches her for humiliating him in public. Kevan agrees to be Hand, but only if Cersei also makes him regent, and returns to Casterly Rock. Cersei is stunned. Kevan brings up Tywin’s plans to marry her again, and Cersei says she does not wish it, but he says her place is as Lady of Casterly Rock now. She insists she will continue her father’s work to restore the kingdom, but Kevan points out that Tywin wanted Jaime to be his heir. Cersei counters that Jaime has taken vows, and is “a handsome fool” to boot, but Kevan is unmoved.

Cersei says that Tommen is her son. Kevan replies that from what he saw of Joffrey, Cersei is “as unfit a mother as [she is] a ruler.” Cersei throws her wine in his face, and asks what right he has to question her. Kevan replies she would be unwise to make an enemy of him as well. He says if she will not cede the regency to him, then to make him castellan of Casterly Rock and give the Hand to either Mathis Rowan or Randyll Tarly. Both are bannermen of the Tyrells, and Cersei wonders if Kevan was bribed by Highgarden gold as well, but Kevan points out that either will be loyal to her if she names him Hand, and Tyrell will be appeased by naming one of his bannermen to the role. Cersei thinks him a traitor, and accuses him of abandoning his king.

“Tommen has his mother.” Ser Kevan’s green eyes met her own, unblinking. A last drop of wine trembled wet and red beneath his chin, and finally fell. “Aye,” he added softly, after a pause, “and his father too, I think.”

Oh ho, so Ser Kevan has a spine after all! Damn if Cersei didn’t get served by him in this chapter. Who’da thunk it.

Even though I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to blame Cersei for Joffrey, because that boy was broken from the get-go, and I don’t think the most exemplary parenting in the world could have changed that. That said, Joffrey most certainly didn’t get the most exemplary parenting in the world, so maybe it’s a moot point.

The thing is, really, that I’m not convinced Kevan’s burn on Cersei was entirely deserved—or more accurately, I think it was only half deserved. Because I certainly agree that she is an unfit ruler, but I really don’t know that she was actually the worst mother, given the circumstances.

…Granted, part of those circumstances are that she conceived those children with her own twin brother, so, um. Maybe not?

Ugh, Cersei. You conflict me. On the one hand, she’s awful, and her paranoia and suspicion of everyone around her make her a more or less literal ticking time bomb of FUBAR. On the other hand, is it really paranoia when they really are all out to get you? But on the gripping hand, it’s hard to blame everyone who’s out to get her when she really kind of deserves to be gotten. But on the fourth hand, would she really be so shitty if she hadn’t been automatically devalued and belittled her entire life, and made to be that paranoid and devious?

Bleh, it just turns into a chicken or the egg question from there. If Cersei had been born a man, or (more ideally) born into a world without enough patriarchy to choke a horse, so much shit that happened would never have happened. In fact practically none of it would have happened. And I remain kind of logistically conflicted over whether to rail against her for that, or be reluctantly impressed that she managed to exert that much influence over world events from such a disadvantaged position.

I shall be greater, though. A thousand years from now, when the maesters write about this time, you shall be remembered only as Queen Cersei’s sire.

I… doubt that, Cersei. Although hey, who knows. Anything could happen. Anything could happen, and that’s why I have dread issues.

(Er, meaning “issues with the emotion of dread”, not hairstyle dilemmas. You know, in case you were confused. What?)

Although historically, making pronouncements like this one, even if just in your own head, does tend to lessen your chances of actually making it happen. Because I think that even Martin is susceptible to the Western proclivity toward the notion that pride goeth before a fall.

Lady Olenna is hilarrrrrious here. Such barbs. So hatred. Wow. And Cersei doesn’t even KNOW how much she should hate Olenna, is the best part.

Also, Tywin having a stinky stanky funeral is WONDERFUL. I definitely may have snickered a time or two over that while reading.

So… did I know before this that Tyrion’s escape was possibly funded by the Tyrells, or is that a new development? I can’t remember. I feel like the left-behind coin thing was a tad convenient, though. If Rugen’s living situation was really as shitty as described, I can’t imagine that he would leave behind a single scrap of gold voluntarily. So I am side-eyeing this entire thing pretty hard right now, because damn if it wasn’t the conveniently perfect way to drive even more of a wedge between Cersei and the Tyrells than was already there. And we only have Qyburn’s word for where he actually found the coin, I must point out.

Speaking of Qyburn, um, EW? Vivisection, really, that’s delightful. And by “delightful” I mean OMG YOU’RE CUTTING A LIVE PERSON OPEN FOR FUNZIES, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU. Seriously, I loathe Gregor Clegane with the fire of at least four or five suns, and even I don’t think he deserves that. Can’t you just let him be slowly poisoned to death in peace?

And the best is how Cersei is all, oh, okay, whatevs. UGH, why can’t we have someone awesome be queen regent? Why do we have to have her?

Well, at least she’s doing a good job of keeping my knee-jerk reflex to automatically sympathize with the POV character at bay. Way at bay, at the moment.

Anyway, to go back to Kevan, it actually sounds like a great idea for Kevan to be regent/Hand and for Cersei to go back to Casterly Rock, which leads me to expect that it will never, ever happen, and Kevan will be very, very lucky to survive this book now. Because seriously, Kevan may have been right to say Cersei shouldn’t make enemies of either him or Mace Tyrell, but he forgot that it is also a really bad idea to make an enemy of Cersei. I don’t know when exactly she is going to crash and burn, but I have no doubt of her ability to take down a whole shitload of people with her when it happens, and Kevan is in prime position to be one of them.

So, uh, yay? Yeah, probably not yay. So have a weekend, chirren, and if you are in a Carnival-inclined locale, as I am, laissez le bon temps rouler

Kat W.
1. Kat W.
Yay, first for once!

I can hardly wait for you to get to the next Arya chapter, seriously.

An enjoyable read, as always, Leigh!
Kat W.
3. Kat W.
First, second, and third apparently, sorry about that. :/
Kat W.
4. Lyanna Mormont
Arya, Arya. Poor damaged child. Makes me think of child soldiers.

And then Cersei, and I agree, the chicken-egg dilemma with her is thorny. I actually think she and Robert had a lot in common, or would've if he'd been born a woman. He would've been no happier in that role than she is. Seriously, though, she makes things so much worse than they need be... but she does it all because she's been shaped by how she's been treated. She definitely does overestimate her own intelligence, though. Snapping at the Tyrells isn't smart at all. And just assuming that Kevan will follow her like he followed his beloved brother... Nope.
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
No, you don't know what Valar Doharis means.

Poor Arya - all alone in a foreign land. Very lyrically described though.

The ship Cersei keeps charging forward without opening her mind to new ideas. I was very impressed with Keven's politically astute suggestions that she reflexively rejects as being traitorous. Oh well. Yes, Olenna is all sorts of awesome - burn baby burn.
Kat W.
6. CWatson
Speaking only for myself, Ser Kevan is one of my favorite characters in the series, and this scene is partially why.
Kat W.
7. I am of the Night
I think as you read more, you'll find out that its more Cersei than her uprbinging. I think from what I remember their mom was nice. Remember the story the Viper told Tyrion about how Cersei showed him off as a baby. that's an action of like psycho 9 year old or however old she was.
Brandi Carrier
8. Brandi
Arya- She's one hard little girl and in yet another messed up place. Probably can't be any worse than KL, or Harrenhall, or being outside the castle where half your family is being slaughtered, or roaming around the countryside killing people with the Hound. Man this girl has a messed up life. She has the makings for one hell of a hardened little killer.

Also sad it seems like she won't get back with Nymeria anytime soon, but hopefully she can stay safe-ish and learn some lessons for when she heads back to Westeros (and she better make it back to Westeros, damnit!)

Cersei- Being inside her head makes her seem much less smart than she thinks she is, and much less shrewd/cunning than she comes across previously. How much of this is how she was before, and how much have the deaths of Tywin and Joffrey, the escape of Tyrion and Jaime not doing whatever she wants as she had expected him to. So many of the things she depended on are gone, or are not as dependable as she had thought. The verbal smackdown from Kevan, the member of her family most able to competently help her is bound to make things worse. I do think she was always a scheming bitch, just think she may have been smarter about it before her world started falling apart.

The other thing that strikes me is the stupidity/ignorance of her actions and words, pissing off the only allies her family and the crown has at the moment. She doesn't seem concerned at all for her position or safety, even while we know she's terrified of Tyrion and full of conspiracy theories. That should make any sane person be MORE careful, not less, but Cersei's state of mind is so wrong that she can't manage it. This is where she starts to go from just "slightly less smart than she thinks she is" to "bat shit crazy paranoid" IMO. Crazy paranoid people are much easier to manipulate so we'll see who uses that to their advantage in the future.
Sasha P
9. AeronaGreenjoy
Braaaaaaavoooooosssss!! One of my favorite places in ASOIAF-world! *rubs hands together gleefully*

And the Lannisters continue to implode. I was surprised it took this long for them to start working against each other. When I first read ACOK and Tyrion was having a chain made "for Joffrey," I assumed he would somehow use it to literally or figuratively bind and incapacitate the kid, and was amazed when he actually used it to defend KL on Joffrey's behalf. Maybe GRRM was playing with reader expectations that the characters we like will of course oppose the ones we dislike, unconstrained by things like family loyalty, political necessity, and the desire to not see one's city sacked.
Kat W.
10. TG12
Let me just repeat, I luuurv Arya in Braavos. It is totally a Venice stand-in that really goes above and beyond the standard epic fantasy Venice stand-in, with scene-setting and world-building that's almost Vancian at times. And Arya's journey is...well, we shall see. But I love reading it.

Cersei is painful, for pretty much all of the OTOH reasons you outline here....
Adam S.
11. MDNY
I really loved the Arya chapter. I love Bravos. I love the temple of the Many-faced God. I love the servants/priest that Arya meets. I love the weirwood doors, which open if you tell them that all men must die. I love the idea of a temple where anyone who seeks a painless death can find it, and they have statues of death from dozens of different religions. I love the candles that make every person smell whatever most comforts them. In short, I'm a bit disappointed in your lack of enthusiasm, Leigh.
Cersei is once again interesting to read, in a watching a car crash in slow motion kinda way. Her reneging on Tywin's deal for master of coin, and immediately summoning a man who seems destined to die of TB soon, just show how shortsighted she really is. Obviously the Tyrells can't be considered her allies completely (as we know, even if she doesn't, due to Olenna's involvement in Joff's death). But her complete mistrust of ANYONE who isn't a complete lickspittle is astounding. Her uncle is basically a Lannister best known for his leal service, and the moment he refuses to do EXACTLY as she demands, she jumps right to him being a traitor. Whatever. The more I read of Cersei, the less I like her, and I never liked her much to start. Oh yeah, and Qyburn? Yuck.
Ser Kevan gets so much props for his closing line in this chapter. He was immediately vaulted to near the top of my favorite minor characters we've encountered.
Kat W.
12. Rancho Unicorno
"Even though I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to blame Cersei for Joffrey, because that boy was broken from the get-go, and I don’t think the most exemplary parenting in the world could have changed that. That said, Joffrey most certainly didn’t get the most exemplary parenting in the world, so maybe it’s a moot point."

I'm confused. You seem to be suggesting that Joff's issues could either be nature or nurture, yet Cersei's disaster of a life you are committing to nurture. Why couldn't Cersei just naturally be a disappointment.

Regarding Oleanna, I love her. Absolutely one of the best characters, and someone I keeping learning more about everytime I reread about her.
Chris Nelly
13. Aeryl
Oh, Leigh, Leigh, Leigh

If Rugen’s living situation was really as shitty as described,

Hint: It wasn't, and finding the gold is DEFINITELY a misdirect.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
Chapter 6 - Arya:I've been hoping for Arya. From the comments, I infer that some character aren't in this book--I was really hoping that Arya would be in it. This seems like a better opening. On a ship and next to a pleasant figurehead as opposed to next to a tree with dangling dead people. Interesting that no one asks Arya her name--they just call her Salty. It could just be a cultural thing where you are supposed to give your name (like the other crew are doing).
Arya is a tad sad but that isn't surprising at all. She is sailing into the unknown with a raft of death behind her.
The Titan of Braavos sounds interesting. Just how tall will it be? GRRM seems to like building large.
The Braavosi don't seem to be the sort to indulge in the sacrifice of small girls, so I'll discount that aspect of Nan's story for now.
Interesting bit of backstory about the Moonsingers leading the Braavosi to Braavos as a place to be safe from dragons. Also quite interesting that the Braavosi are religiously tolerant. Hmm, "Many-Faced God". Arya hasn't heard of the Many-Faced God and I don't recall hearing about it in the story so far. Denyo seems to think it will be of interest to Arya however.
So the Titan seems quite large and isn't just a statue but rather is a fortress and warning siren all in one.
"Our galleys are our walls. We need no other."
That's a sentiment that has been expressed before over here. Notably in Themistocles interpretation of the words of the Delphic oracle:
Not wholly can Pallas win the heart of Olympian Zeus,
Though she prays him with many prayers and all her subtlety;
Yet will I speak to you this other word, as firm as adamant:
Though all else shall be taken within the bound of Cecrops
And the fastness of the holy mountain of Cithaeron,
Yet Zeus the all-seeing grants to Athene’s prayer
That the wooden wall only shall not fall, but help you and your children.
But await not the host of horse and foot coming from Asia,
Nor be still, but turn your back and withdraw from the foe.
Truly a day will come when you will meet him face to face.
Divine Salamis, you will bring death to women’s sons
When the corn is scattered, or the harvest gathered in.
As meaning the Athenians should trust to their ships. Also, note that Westros does not have a monopoly on ambiguos oracles. But, I digress.
Braavos seems quite prosperous and well managed compared to the other places we have seen so far. It also seems that the coin is a ticket to Braavos and no farther. Valar dohaeris again.
The city seems kind of like Venice what with the canals and being conceived as a place of relative safety. It seems a tad odd to just row an eleven year old girl over to an island and leave her, but that's apparently what you do with coin holders. Then you say Valar dohaeris and take off.
Somewhat creepy temple with silent doors, ill lit and an arrangement of statues. Well, and the walls are lined with dead or dying people and Arya probably just hastened the death of that guy by giving water to a abdominal injury although since no one was tending him, I'm guessing that was coming anyway. The House of Black and White. Hmm, Him of Many Faces (Many Faced God) stands at the end of the road. What with Valar morghulis being All men must die, the dead people on the shelves and the end of the road motif, I'm going with Many-Faces being a god of death of some sort.

OK, I would have hesitated before kissing a skull on the nose and trying to eat the worm is well, uhm, gutsy. The monk guy seems to be able to shift faces like Jaqen. I'm not sure that I would trust that the kindly old man face is any more true than the skull face--or they might both be true. So, Arya has found a temple of death worshiping assassin monks?
As the guy says,
“You are,” he said, “but the House of Black and White is no place for Arya, of House Stark.”
I'm guessing he is going to give her a different name and maybe a whole new persona. Jaqen seems adept at the shifting of not just his face. Arya seems on a path of gaining some mad skills. That should aid her hunger for vengeance but I'm hoping she gets more of the skill part than the mad part.
Kat W.
15. DougL
Thanks Leigh, I was expecting a bit more of a reaction when you found yourself in Cersei's head because you weren't too happy irc when we got to Jaime hehe
Kat W.
16. WCjobber
I don't want to say anything more, because it's way too spoilerish, but man, you are overlookng Rugen's importance in a big bad way.
Chris Nelly
17. Aeryl
Cersei- Being inside her head makes her seem much less smart than she
thinks she is, and much less shrewd/cunning than she comes across

I know how you feel. It's hard to remember, back in GOT, when you though she killed Jon Arryn and succeeded in usurping the throne from Robert and Ned. But as the story went on, you learn she didn't kill Jon Arryn, and Robert and Ned were idiots that were easy to outmanuever. It wasn't cunning that made Cersei so successful in GOT, it was sheer dumb luck.
Sasha P
18. AeronaGreenjoy
@11: "Anyone seeking a painful death" -- do you mean relatively painless? Or am I missing something?
Deana Whitney
19. Braid_Tug
Arya & Nymeria, so far away...
Sad face.

Cersei, someone in books sums her up greatly. Will wait for that chapter.

Enjoy your Mardi Gras!! Will you be recoverd for a post on Thursday?
Kat W.
20. Lyanna Mormont
Cersei is much better at manipulating from behind the throne than at actually having power in her own hands, based on what we've seen so far.

And if she's right about Lancel being potentially talkative, you gotta wonder if maybe he gave something away to his father Kevan.... That wouldn't make the good Ser Kevan more charitably inclined to Cersei, I'm sure.
Kat W.
21. Lyanna Mormont
Also, it's fun to see how the Tyrells are trying to copy what the Lannisters did some fifteen years ago. First you marry the daughter of your house to the king. Her brother is a member of the Kingsguard. Then her father becomes Hand of the King, and you get your people onto as many important positions as you can. And they can't really say no because they need your backing...
Chris Nelly
22. Aeryl
@21, Well, it's a close parallel, except for the Hand part. Tywin was Hand years before the rebellion, but never during Robert's reign, because Ned and Jon told him that was too dangerous. So Cersei's reluctance has some precedence. Thankfully, I don't think Margaery intends for Loras to knock her up.
Kat W.
23. Lyanna Mormont
Well, Robert was a grown man who had friends of his own. Joffrey/Tommen, not so much, so Mace & co are trying to seize the moment offered by a child king. The Lannisters didn't really have a lot of people in important positions during Robert's reign, unless you count his squires, but they did use any chance they saw, and once Joffrey was king, they took it all. The Tyrells are just seeing more opportunities earlier on... but will have to wait longer for any chance of one of their own sitting the Iron Throne, given it'll be a while before Tommen can be expected to get Margaery knocked up... assuming Cersei agrees to let them marry, that is.
Kat W.
24. Herb734
The line from Cersei reminds me of the Dowager Empress Cixi of China, who Martin almost certainly had in mind in crafting that character.
Kat W.
25. Black Dread
If Cersei had been a man...

Adding 100 lbs of muscle and testosterone to her already lethal combination of selfishness, ambition, arrogance, cunning, stupidity, and entitlement would create a monster that is hard to imagine.
Tom Feltes
26. tomf
@19 Braid_Tug: Perhaps the question should be, what kind of post will we get on the WOT Re-Read this Fat Tuesday, hmmmmm?

@Leigh, my son is in his freshman year at LoyNO, getting ready to experience his first Mardi Gras - I am thrilled for and jealous of him. Enjoy!
bw fenlon
27. wonderbrad2000
I've been reading and enjoying these posts from the start. It's been loads of fun watching a person experience ASOIAF for the first time. I figured it was time to say thank you, Leigh, for taking the time to do this.
Steven Halter
28. stevenhalter
Chapter 7 - Cersei: Cersei liked Joff. Cersei has blindspots that you can fly dragons through. Also, if she wants Tommen to show some more spine maybe she could try not ordering him to do every last little thing.
Oh, so Cersei also entertained herself with her cousin Lancel. Did we know that before this?

I don't think that a poor jailer is going to leave behind a gold coin, so that smells of FRAME. The Tyrell's have their plans, but I think Tyrion's escape was mostly Jaime and Varys. We haven't seen much of him lately, come to think of it.

And, Kevan speaks frankly. Unfortunately, I have a feeling Cersei is going to spin off into some web of paranoia and bloodshed. She has put a vivisectionist in the dungeons, why not just go full blown Dark Queen Mother on everything? She doesn't seem to be handling the idea that other people exist and don't share her plans all that well.
Kat W.
29. Megaduck
Cersei, the perfect example of a dog catching the car.

She's wanted power her whole life, and now she finally has it, but she doesn't know what to do with it. I think Littlefinger would have the same problem.

I think a lot of this is Cersei falling back onto old habits . She's a schemer, a power behind the throne, and pretty good at it. However, she's never had to rule anything in her life. She was never on Roberts councils, she's never been in charge of an area she just plots against the people with power. Now she's left without anyone to plot against, doing a job she was never prepared for, so she's ploting without any understanding why.

In a lot of ways she's an opposite Ned Stark. He was a ruler, who was no good at politics. She's good at politics, but no good at ruling.
Chris Nelly
30. Aeryl

Yes, we knew about Lancel, Tyrion used that to leverage him to spy on Cersei for him WAY BACK in COK.
Kat W.
31. Lyanna Mormont
@28 - Yes, we did know about Cersei and Lancel. Tyrion used it to threaten Lancel with back in ACOK, to blackmail the kid into spying on Cersei for him. We haven't seen much of Lancel since the Battle of Blackwater, though.
Kat W.
32. The Prince
So I just recently discovered Leigh Butler's Ice and Fire blog. I finally caught up here.

Mainly I read it because I just love "Ice and Fire" that much, and enjoy re-experiencing the story from different points of view.

Leigh is a good writer. She's funny. She does a great job of narrating her own thought process.

But damn if the feminist angle to read didn't get tired a long time ago. I mean, I get it, it's Leigh's thing. She likes to write from the feminist perspective. But I feel like I would have found myself getting less annoyed about it if the blog had been called "A Feminist's Read of Ice and Fire".

Because men and women is undoubtedly a prominent theme in the book. It is a theme worth exploring. Martin calls himself a "feminist at heart", and this is apparent in the story. There are many strong female characters, and they're usually underestimated by the world around them on acount of being a woman (or a girl). For my two cents, I tend to agree with Martin regarding how Martin writes women - which is that he believes they are "people". Yes, people are people. I believe that the differences are not as great as they are often made out to be. I allow some very slight leeway for generalizations of the two genders, but only in the face of ample evidence, while always bearing in mind that people are in large part byproducts of their own particular civilizations - in other words the majority of the difference comes from nurture, not nature.

But I want to get back to Leigh for a second... because I find her particularly take on feminism increasingly unbearable to read. Because she often devotes more than half of her entire response to what she's read to her feminist take on it. More often than not, she's repeating her thoughts from previous blog entries. Uusually it will go something like this - a male character doesn't give the female character her "props", and Leigh becomes incensed - to the point that she feels obligated to rant about it.

And it is so glaringly obvious that Leigh imposes double standards on her judgment of men and women, even though I am almost certain she does not intend to. There have been so many moments in the story when female characters have made choices which, had the characters been male, Leigh would have had a serious problem with. So many moments in the story in which male characters have made choices which, had the characters been female, Leigh would not have had an issue with.

Along the way, Leigh hasn't touched upon other themes nearly as much as she could have - themes of identity, politics, and moral ambiguity. That may sound unfair, but Leigh often identifies a moral dilemma without actually deciding what she would do in such a dilemma. Often Leigh muses this is why she doesn't get into politics. Fair enough. Leigh's sense of morality is full of blacks and white. She runs away from the grey zone. But black and white is always easy.

What Martin wants us to see, from the beginning, is that true morality is a sacrifice. He doesn't 'reward' characters simply for being moral, because that's not how the real world works. It is a sacrifice. Sometimes true morality involves a character sacrificing the beliefs they cherish most in order to achieve a greater good.

I guess it would just be nice if Leigh took more time to explore this particular aspect of Martin's writing, as opposed to rehashing the same arguments from the feminist perspective over and over again.

Having said all of that, I still mostly enjoy Leigh's writing. But in the hours I've spent reading her blog entries I've been building up these feelings, and I needed to get them off my chest.
Kat W.
34. TG12
@32 Don't let the door hit you where the good lord split ya'!

Or put another way, if the writer of an ongoing critique isn't focusing on the themes and perspectives that you want them to, to the extent it's bothering you and you no longer find value in the critique, why follow it?

For myself, I love ASOIAF, but I think Leigh brings a valuable perspective to it and interrogates things that need interrogating, like male and dominant-culture privilege. So go Leigh, sez I.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
35. Lisamarie
At the above (32), oh boy, this particular rant again. I actually literally have popcorn right now, so when I say *grabs popcorn* I mean it :)

Anyway. Leigh is allowed (ed.- oops, this initially said 'obligated' which is not the word I intended to use) to rant about whatever she likes. I will be the first to admit I am not thrilled with all of her interpretations, especially regarding religion. But this is HER reread, with HER take on it and HER perspective and she can focus on whatever she wants - doing the reread does not obligate her to touch on every single issue that could be touched on.

It doesn't mean you have to agree with all of her points (I don't always)...but you don't really get to dictate the rightness or wrongness of the thematic content (and if I seem to be attacking you it's because this discussion seems to happen over and over and over again, and it's kind of annoying that feminism is some kind of horrible thing to be discussed. I don't think anybody would care if she decided to focus exclusively on some other theme).

Anyway, what I meant to say, regarding the read - I definitely love your take on Cersei. Agreed that she is nowhere near as smart/clever/good at ruling as she thinks she is. But, even though I can't stand her - or Joffrey - as a mother I thought Kevan's remark about her parenting of a now dead child was totally cold! Even if it was deserved! (And I agree it's impossible to tell how much of Joffrey's horribleness she was truly responsible for)
Chris Nelly
36. Aeryl
@34, I literally almost said the same thing! Glad I refreshed first!

I mean, is it REALLY any wonder that the beginning of this book is so feminist focussed?

We've had the introduction to Oldtown, and Old Boys, Girl Have Cooties club if ever there was one, then the introduction to Cersei's head, which is fascinating from a feminist perspective, we saw into the eglitarian Dorne and got a look at the feminized Doran Martell.

Leigh has examined all the things @32 feels are lacking, she's just not doing it RIGHT NOW.
Marie Veek
37. SlackerSpice
@25: On the other hand, if Cersei had been born a man, her life (and very likely the story, as well) would have probably been quite different.

@28: Considering that she referred to him as "willful" back in CoK, I can't say I'm horribly shocked.

Also, note this lovely comment about Tywin: "His eyes could see inside you, could see how weak and worthless and ugly you were down deep. When he looked at you, you knew."
Kat W.
38. The Prince

Leigh can write about whatever she wants to write. I never said otherwie. And as I said, I mostly enjoy reading her entires, and I will continue to read them. There is a lot more to like about Leigh's writing than there is to dislike.

My frustration lies in the fact that she has oft made the same feminist critiques over and over again, while merely scratching the surface of some of the other themes in the story.

Because "Ice and Fire" has so much to offer as a critique of human nature as a whole. This is why I said that "A Feminist's Read of Ice and Fire" might be a more appropriate blog title.

Although I'll admit my frustrations go a little deeper than that, as well. Leigh has a much more black and white sense of morality than I do. There have been so many individual things I've wanted to debate her on. Granted, to inspire that kind of feeling - that's the mark of a strong writer. Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that I feel her feminist angle where Ice and Fire is concerned has grown very stale.
Brandi Carrier
39. Brandi
I think it's to be expected that what an individual picks up and feels the need to comment on during their read is hugely impacted by their own POV, opinions on issues, and situations they have the most familiarity with. The feminist POV is one Leigh touches on a lot, and it has been for the past 5 years I've been reading her reads/rereads (This one and the WoT reread).

I can see your point that certain points have been made before, but Leigh's job is to share her own reflections and reactions and thoughts on each chapter she reads, and if those are her thoughts and reactions, well, it's her read. She also manages to make her thoughts extremely entertaining to read, which is why we are all still here (including you). The discussions of different issues in this series are potentially endless but don't forget this is just one blog with limited space with an author with limited time.

Out of curiousity, do you participate in other ASOIAF forums or the asoiaf subreddit? There's an endless amount of analysis and people to discuss with out there.

Back to the feminism thing. Being a female myself, I still find myself subconsciously or blindly having sexist thoughts and interpretations, judging male characters and female characters differently at times. I don't mind the frequent reminders from Leigh about that, it helps me notice when I am doing that and to stop.

Anyway that's just my opinion. And I wanna mention again I really really really hope Leigh does a Ice and Fire reread once she is done the novels. She's even more fun to read once she has all the pieces available to put together and no need to worry about spoilers, judging by the WoT reread.
Pirmin Schanne
40. Torvald_Nom
Braavos, apparently, is ASOIAF’s homage to Venice. I note with some amusement, by the way, that pretty much every epic fantasy I have ever read has at least one place that is suspiciously Venice-like. Which only makes sense, really, because Venice has no business existing outside a fantasy story in the first place.
Could just as well be a reference to any other city with lots of canals, there are plenty of those.
Adam S.
41. MDNY
@38 Look, I get where you're coming from. Sometimes I get a little tired of the same general spiel from Leigh when there are other things I wish she discussed instead on a certain chapter. However, this book is actually where her feminist thoughts are most appropriate, with the chapters from 2 new female characters, Cersei and Brienne, both of whom explicitly explore gender roles in Westeros. Along with religion, gender roles are probably the most important/developed/central themes of the book.
Kat W.
42. DougL
@40 Torvald Nom

Well, it's much more like Venice than most of the other ones in that link, she was rowed all the way to the temple, and while there do seem to be walking paths everywhere it does seem as though the city is built on what little land there is in a brackish low water bay rather than simply having a river system run through it.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
43. Lisamarie
Oh, I remember what else I was going to say - this past year I went on this Russian Lit kick. My favorite of the books I read was Brothers Karamazov. There is also a part of that book in which the stench of a rotting corpse is actually quite a big plot point, and I couldn't help but keep thinking of Tywin Lannister (although this particular corpse was a quite different person than Tywin when he was alive!)!
Kat W.
44. The Prince

Gender roles are certainly one of the most important/developed/central themes of the books, probably even more so than religion. But I think morality is an incredibly important theme. Morality is easy in most fiction, when the author chooses to reward their characters for moral choices and punish their moral rephrehensible choices - but what happens when we live in a world (much like own own) where "moral" choices are not strictly rewarded or punished?

Is morality still worth fighting for in such a world? How do we keep our morality when we fear that other will stab us behind our backs? Does the cycle ever end?

Does morality involve a strict moral code? Or can lying or stealing or murdering be the morally correct thing to do, in certain circumstances?

Is honor worth the price of war?

I could go on about the role of identity. A bastard, a cripple, a broken thing, a dwarf, a lowborn, a woman. What does society tell us we are? How does this affect our perception of ourselves? How can we redefine ourselves in a world full of prejudices?

Does our lineage mean anything? Why do we care so much about who our ancestors were? Does it really matter?

I could go on. But suffice it is to say I think there are many angles of which to attack "Ice and Fire".

The feminist perspective is one angle. And I'm all for Leigh beating that drum.

I just feel that, in my reading of "A Game of Thrones" through "A Storm of Swords", Leigh's frustrations and anger regarding women's issues would repeatedly boil to the surface. For a while I thought it was interesting to read from this perspective, but it became frustrating when I realized that the same things would continue to set her off and make her rant about this particular issue - often this particularly drum beatinng became extremely repitious, as she would continue to rehash her rants - and it came at the expense of so many other interesting angles for which she could have taken on with a story as rich as Ice and Fire.
Valentin M
45. ValMar
I believe Cersei being a bad person has little to do with being a woman and how she was treated as such by the society she was in. Her circumstances aren't exactly unique. If anything, she was in a more privileged position than any woman. At worst she had an unloving, but not trully abusive by the standards of the setting, husband. But she had the solace of her brother, which whilst icky was genuine comfort.

She had all the bad traits that posters already have listed (selfishness, greed, ambition, arrogance...) and being a woman put constraints on these traits and acted as a stuck pressure valve.
E.g. being a woman in this patriarchal society curtailed her desire for power frustrating her ambition. Very similar with her arrogance being more easily riled, stoking her anger further.

As the years passed the pressure on her various negative characteristics grew stronger. Now the valve has broken and we see the results in unrestraint power.
Yuliya Geyko
46. kassiva
Oh, I thought it would be again one chapter reading( Leigh is unpredictable. This two chapters gave me a lot to speculate about.
Arya chapter. I have never been to Venice, but St. Petersburg has something in common with Braavos, especially all this water "clad in granite/stone". Very interesing is the part with multireligiosity. With such attention to other cultures, I vote for Braavos to be the cradle of civilization. And now, speculation #1. Didn't you notice, how men were afraid of Arya? And more important, how they pathetically reminded her about theirs names. Definetly, they thought that she would become one of many-faced men. What if this name memento was some kind of protection from being killed afterwards?
Cersei chapter. Feminist or masculinist, my point of view: she must be glad to be a woman. Because with the wits and irrational ambitions like hers man in Westeros would be slain or far-far away from ruling. I recall she said Sansa that the only weapon she had was between her legs. And it's true. When Cersei can't use her vagina, her power begin to slip through fingers like sand. I doubt the Queen of Thorns made her ruling this way. So, speculation #2. Golden coin. Somewhat this reminded of the coin from "alchemist" in the very first chapter. There is faint connection between them and it's a Qyburn, former maester. And he is very interesting person. Qyburn mentioned Merlin in the manner of good relationship between them. I shocked that Cersei was not paranoid about him. Maybe I became paranoid but I see him as the most dangerous man in KL now.
Update: Forgot about smaaall speculation #3. This family with Lollys, girl raped by mod. They always depicted as poor, uncomfortable, not "king-landish". I began to suspect something when Varys hid Shae as their maid. But with this "name bastard after Tywin" and missing a funeral sermon I see them as an underestimated family. Mayhaps they have connection to Varys. Haha, I am definetly paranoid =)
Nathan Martin
47. lerris
Arya's been surviving in the wilds. I'm pretty sure it's not the first worm she'd have eaten. And I'm pretty sure the direwolf part of her brain wouldn't hesitate.

At this point in the story, I started to understand Cersei more. And to like her less.
Kat W.
48. Underbelly

I too read both this and the WOT blog in a 'lump sum' and also came across some arguments that I thought Leigh wacked her head against too much. However, just remember that she is writing these weekly. As such, what seems like too much to you or I because we read the same argument 10 times in the last couple of hours was actually written/read 10 times in a 6 month or more span. After having now caught up, you will probably have a much less intense reaction when she rehashes these opinions.
Mike DMonte
49. MickeyDee
Hahahaha oh Leigh, you Motie-lover you!

"But on the gripping hand...."

Pulled that right out of the Horace Head nebula! ;)
Sasha P
50. AeronaGreenjoy
A reviewer on another website described Braavos as "part Venice, Italy, part Seattle, Washington (weather); part Australia, and part French Quarter, New Orleans culture circa 1857." Even now I'm not sure which parts are which, so make of that what ye will.

ASOIAF is discussed on so many websites and podcasts, by innumerable people with different interests. Currently following ~6 of them, this is my favorite and I enjoy Leigh's feminist focus. She doesn't need to repeat herself much when new moral complexities and amoral atrocities keep emerging, and has plenty to say about the chapters when they're not prominent. Righteous indignation, thoughful ponderings, and the most colorful insults around, FTW. But that's my experience, and everyone else's is equally valid, so I hope not to have been hurtful.
Kat W.
51. 2cents
@The_Prince, various rebuttals, and feminist discussion (in this and Leigh's other re-read) in general:

I have to somewhat agree with the prince. Maybe not on all counts, but certainly on some. To start, I'll say that I'm a social scientist, I identify myself as a feminist, have taken multiple courses in gender studies and feminism, and take a personal and academic interest in the subject. This doesn't qualify me to be a judge of any kind, nor do I wish to be one, but that's the intro.

I agree with the prince that Leigh gives an extensive stage for her feminist views in these re-reads, if and when they are relevant, and that comes at the expense of other themes I would also liked to have seen explored. But I honestly might have been fine with that, If didn't I also feel Leigh has been treading water with feminist themes since around TSR (yes, from the other series). There had been a spark of renewal when starting the GoT re-read (obviously, as now we're in adult land, and gender relations are actually power-centered rather than being a caricature thereof (but I digress)), but then it went right back to baseline. Anyway, it's not just the amount of time spent on Feminist themes, it's the shallow waters they tend to stay in. This is made-for-TV feminism, and not "the wire" kind of TV. The focus is always on the apparent, the easily available, and not on the deep-rooted structures that make patriarchy (and other forms of power structures) as powerful as they are. I feel like Leigh's not only missing the mark, but actually reducing the feminist world-view to exactly what people who don't understand feminism think feminism is.

Now nobody owns feminism, and Leigh's entitled to any brand of it she wants (including self-made), and that might not be up my alley. But if she cares about her reader's opinions, and happens to stumble upon this post, she might do well to at least consider their actual, thoughts, you know.

And pre-empting the so-old "well, if you don't like it, why don't you go away?"- I do like it. I like it enough to write a few paragraphs of saying how it can be improved. And no, liking something doesn't mean I need to like it without reservations, and it doesn't oblige me to withold criticism, and it certainly doesn't give *you* the right to show me out the door for expressing an opinion. And if that doesn't convince you, let's make a deal. If you don't like what I say, don't reply, and don't let the door hit you on the way out.
George Jong
52. IndependentGeorge
Funnily enough, I'm in New Orleans right now on a business trip. I'm a bit tipsy right now from a few too many cocktails at K-Paul's (but damn, that PomBerry Tea is awesome). There's a parade going right past my hotel even as I type this, but I'm way too tired to go out and enjoy it.

I have to admit: it really bothers me that #32 makes a substantive critique of Leigh, and the knee-jerk reaction is that this is completely unacceptable and that he should leave. There was nothing personal in that post, nor was he trolling; but a feminist interpretation is ok, but any criticism of that interpretation is just plain wrong.

Anyway, back to the read: I do find Leigh's reading of Arya's chapter interesting, because it never occurred to me to see it all as a hallucination. Obviously, I can't say much more without spoiling, but what I love most about unsullied readers/viewers is their ability to theorize things that would never enter my mind. My favorite theory from the TWOP Unsullied thread was that the white ghost grass that the Dothraki believe would one day devour the world was in fact snow falling on the Dothraki sea. That just blew my mind.

While I don't hold to Leigh's hallucination theory, it does put me in mind of the origins of the word assassin: it's a a variation on hashishim. During one of the Arab caliphates (I forget which one; it's been over a decade since I studied this), there was a cult whose members who would get baked on hashish before they killed someone as a holy rite. I never thought of it in those particular terms, but it's an interesting parallel for the Faceless Men.
Kat W.
54. Maddy1990
"I skipped a loooooot of world-building description in this chapter, which I sense is going to continue to be a thing in this book, as we cross off more spots on our world map that we have only had mentioned in passing before."

That would be a correct assumption. Arya breaks my heart - and it's so weird because from the first book I wanted her to go follow her destiny and go be an awesome lady knight, and now she's on her way to being a kiling machine it just makes me sad because I worry so much about her mental state. I have all the feels for Arya and I just want her to be happy, but of course WE CAN'T HAVE A STARK BEING HAPPY IN THESE BOOKS.

Cersei is so fucked up and so interesting to read because it's like she's created an alternate reality of the world where she is the most wronged, hard done by person that no one appreciates, and you have to read through that lense to actually see what is going on. I kind of just want Olenna's sassy grandmother commentary on everything. Not to talk too much about the show, but they did the Margaery coming up to Cersei like a sister thing in the last season and I thought they invented it, but turns out it's from this book.

How telling that Cersei thinks Tommen, a sweet nine year old who actually appears to be able to have normal human emotions, is compared unfavourably to Joffrey in her mind. Tywin has fucked up all of his children, but Cersei most of all. Jesus.
Pyrrhus Aeacides
53. Pyrrhus
Best line in the chapter:
As the swish of oars faded, she could almost hear the beating of her heart. Suddenly she was somewhere else . . . back in Harrenhal with Gendry, maybe, or with the Hound in the woods along the Trident. Salty is a stupid child, she told herself. I am a wolf, and will not be afraid. She patted Needle's hilt for luck and plunged into the shadows, taking the steps two at a time so no one could ever say she'd been afraid.
Pure, awesome Arya in a nutshell, but also a call-back to the psychological scarring that Arya cannot understand she has suffered.
Kat W.
55. David Be
1) A logistical question: How do you decide whether to recap 1 chapter or 2?

2) I love you for using the phrase "On the gripping hand". In a non-stalkerish way, I mean.
Captain Hammer
56. Randalator
"No one has ever tried to eat my worm before."

I can't decide what's more hilarious: Thinking that that came out so double-entendre-y unintentionally or that GRRM went "Oh God, I can't write this. ... I'm so gonna throw that in!"

re: Cersei's merits as a mother

Okay, so maybe Joffrey was damaged goods all along but that's no excuse for letting him rampage all over Westeros, even going so far as to enable him and being all "Who's a cute little psychopath? Who's a cute little psychopath? Mommy has all the WUVs for you! Go be more paranoid!". A little damage control would've been nice is all I'm saying.

So, shitty parenting it is.

re: Gregor Clegane

Can’t you just let him be slowly poisoned to death in peace?

Yes, slow agonizing peace...
Maiane Bakroeva
57. Isilel
I am a bit surprised that there appears to be a controversy over Cersei being an "unfit mother", because I thought that it was crystal clear that she is.
How many times did we see Joff doing something awful and stupid/harmful to Lannister cause just for Cersei to ignore it or to give him a pass? Cersei confusing his cruelty for boldness and strength? Abetting his cowardice and not even noticing it for what it was despite being personally brave ( one of her few virtues) and prizing courage very highly?
Oh, and now she thinks that lack of stropiness and sweet nature are signs of weakness in a pre-pubescent boy! I mean, come on.
Sure, Joffrey had some inborn problems, but Cersei was about the worst possible parent for somebody like him and Robert not much better.

Re: Cersei not being educated nor prepared to wield power - I wonder how much of it is true? I mean, she was Tywin's representative at court, expected to defend Lannister interests, with all Lannister faithful, such as Pycelle and Lancel reporting to her, rather than Jaime.
Tywin expected her to be a competent regent and to raise Joff into a competent ruler and it was a very surprising and unpleasant shock to him when she failed miserably. Would a "tool for every task" guy have had such lofty expectations of somebody whom he considered a mere ornament and a womb? Not IMHO.
And of course, we have already heard that Tywin had been known to obey his wife and in this chapter we are told that she was his confidant and councillor, the only person whom he trusted wholly until her death, after which Kevan moved up into that spot.
I am just saying that for somebody of his culture Tywin didn't appear to be particularly misogynistic or dismissive of abilities of women.

Frankly, I don't see Cersei doing much better as a man. If she was a heir, she would have been an incomptent tyrant. If she was a younger son, she'd have been somebody like Theon, but without the empathy. Urgh. IMHO, YMMV.

Oh, and besides everything else, Kevan's reveal is a reminder to us that despite his intelligence, Tyrion can be very wrong about people. He was even more dismissive of Kevan than Cersei was, seeing him merely as his faher's mouthpiece, but not only does Kevan have a good mind of his own and a backbone, he also sees some things more clearly than Tywin ever did.
BTW, the funny thing is that Tywin was not nearly as aloof and self-sufficient as his children believed him to be, but always needed confidants to prop him up.
Kat W.
58. a1ay
Adding 100 lbs of muscle and testosterone to her already lethal
combination of selfishness, ambition, arrogance, cunning, stupidity, and entitlement would create a monster that is hard to imagine.

Fun fact: testosterone doesn't actually make people more aggressive and selfish. It makes them more likely to co-operate with each other. But we're so convinced that testosterone is the concentrated essence of all the stereotyped bad things about being a man that if you give a woman a placebo and tell her it's testosterone, she'll be more aggressive and selfish - while if you give her testosterone and she doesn't know that's what it is, she'll be more likely to behave fairly.
Birgit F
59. birgit
Leigh writes about the topics she is interested in. In the comments, readers can discuss the topics they are interested in. That way more topics get covered than fit in a post written by one person.
Captain Hammer
60. Randalator
@57 Isilel

Cersei not being educated nor prepared to wield power - I wonder how much of it is true? I mean, she was Tywin's representative at court, expected to defend Lannister interests, with all Lannister faithful, such as Pycelle and Lancel reporting to her, rather than Jaime.

But remember how Cersei came into that position. Tywin got robbed of his designated heir when Aerys (?) made Jamie a Kingsguard. If not for that Jaime would be the one doing all the political stuff. And she can count herself lucky that Tyrion wasn't born "normal" or he would have taken Jamie's spot post-Kingsguarding.

Last but not least, she only became court representative numero uno because he married her off to Robert. It's not like he had a choice there what with her being his only daughter and all that. Because somehow I doubt we'll see a drunkard & bastard-in-his-father's-eyes same-sex royal couple in Westeros anytime soon...
Maiane Bakroeva
61. Isilel
Randalator @60:
But remember how Cersei came into that position. Tywin got robbed of his designated heir when Aerys (?) made Jamie a Kingsguard
Yet, as Kevan mentions in this chapter, Tywin never gave up on Jaime as his heir and Jaime was right there, in KL. Nevertheless, all Tywin's human assets were ordered by him to obey Cersei, not Jaime. I doubt that Jaime would have been at court at all without Aerys's meddling. IMHO the plan was for him to stay home and gradually take over administration of the West.
Tywin always intended for Cersei to become a queen and to be a strong influence on her future children, so I doubt that he neglected to provide her with tools to actively engage in court politics - from his own POV, that is. Cersei likely "missed the point, as she so often did".

What would have happened if Cersei was actually intelligent and/or Tyrion was born normal is rather speculative, IMHO. Tywin's first choice of a confidant, councillor and even somebody to obey was a woman, after all.
Rob Munnelly
62. RobMRobM
Couple of random thoughts -

- the opening Arya scene linking her with the Titan's Daughter was a great subtle call back to her relationship with her strong, memorable father.
- Yes, R'hillor has a temple in Braavos as well. Melissandre does magic, Thoros does magic... more to come?
- Qyburn echoes back to the Oldtown chapter with his reference to Marwyn's criticisms of the conservative Maesters - sounding just like Leo Tyrell's discussion of the same criticisms from Marwyn. I feel better about Marwyn's criticisms when we're discussing candles and less so when we're discussing human experimentation.
Yuliya Geyko
63. kassiva
@61 Isilel, totally agree with you. Cersei was raised as one who would make a great alliance for Lannisters. Her mother had intention to make alliance with Dorne, Tywin - to make Cersei a queen. It's obvious that in the both cases she had to "overwhelm" allies for prosperity of Lannisters and only them. That's why I am shure that she was being educated to rule. Question is: where this went wrong? Death of mother? — but to this time she already was "unfitting" based on Oberyn Martell's description. I recall mention about vaticination for Cersei, maybe this influenced her a lot.
Chris Nelly
64. Aeryl
@52, While I get your point, you certainly understand that this is the ONLY part of Leigh's critique that is EVER pointed out as unsatisfactory to some people, and that reason for that certainly isn't because we live in a perfectly eglitarian society and feminism is no longer necessary.

I don't understand why feminists are expected to be kind and welcoming whenever people wade in here to tell us our discussions about our humanity are unwelcome.

It reminds me of the media studies that show when there is actual gender parity in media, people tend to think women are OVERrepresented. It seems to me, that to a lot of people, a consistent feminist focus is seen as TALKING ABOUT FEMINISM TOO MUCH.
Antonio Dagnino
65. andaco
Leigh PLEASE reply to this message.

First Leigh, I think you may be interested in this:

Second, thanks a lot for your read of ice and fire and your commentary, I enjoy it a lot, as I read the series spoiled, your commentaries help me experience the read as it would have been for me unspoiled.

Also, I'm a teen boy and your femmenist views make me realize a lot of things I never think about, you and Mr. Martin have actually made me respect woman.

Then, as @brigit said:
Leigh writes about the topics she is interested in. In the comments, readers can discuss the topics they are interested in. That way more topics get covered than fit in a post written by one person.
I guess this idea is brilliant and will make everybody happy, can everybody agree? Mainly LEIGH, please reply on this, do you think this is how your read should be considered. And also, there are many fans that have defended you from the views, and is really hard to make arguments speculating on what you think is better.

Last, can y0u give me an answer towards this:

Do you read the comments? (If not, this whole message is pointless.)
Deana Whitney
66. Braid_Tug
@65, I flagged your comment so the mods are more likely to point it out to Leigh.

Yes, she does read the comments here. But there tends to be a delay of a few days. This gives the mods time to modify any comment flagged as "Spoiler."

Personally I think it's great that she has made you aware of the feminist views.
This week is also the whole Mardi Gras thing in New Orleans, so she is probably having fun with friends. My mind's eye has her nowhere near Bourbon St., since the tourist are packed like sardines there.
Tabby Alleman
67. Tabbyfl55
How are y'all pronouncing "Kevan" in your heads as you read this?

I'm using keh-VAHN.

Just curious.
Kat W.
68. The Prince

I have to agree with everything you said.

I feel my issue really isn't that Leigh continues to talk about feminism as much as it is that she continually says the same things about gender issues over and over again.

Which boils down to these few points, on a loop:

-Women are strong, clever, and awesome.
-It's disgusting when people can't see how strong, clever, and awesome women are on account of sexism.
-It's horrible when people are judged on the basis of their looks rather than their character.
-It is so rare to find a fictional story with strong, complex female characters

I might be missing 1 or 2 of her bullet points. But that's basically it.

And you know what? I agree with all the bullet points!!!

(Well, I do disagree with Leigh on one particular thing she often brings up - her tendency to get angry at people for not being attracted to other people on account of their physical appearance. Fighting against human nature is usually a losing battle. We can form society in such a way as to contain some of the worst tendencies of human nature (such as our legal and economic systems), but there isn't much we can do to make people not care about physical appearance.)

After a certain point, it gets frustrating to hear the same exact rants regarding the same exact issues that come up in "Ice and Fire". If Leigh would go more in-depth with her analysis, I'd be fine with that. I'm not expecting her to be Simone de Beauvoir with her analysis during her read of a high fantasy series, but if you're going to keep talking about something, it may not be a bad idea to expand on it at a certain point. And if you're not going to say anything new about the subject, maybe it wouldn't hurt to reduce the feminist rants in size and frequency and spend more time on other subjects you haven't explored nearly as much.

The ironic thing is that "Ice and Fire" is probably as much a feminist book as the "The Feminine Mystique". Yeah, I just said that. Because "Ice and Fire" actually depicts gender roles as they existed during the real historical period in which the story is based. Martin has created such a vivid world that we can see just how terrible patriarchy (and many of the other characteristics one could use to describe the Medieval period) really was. That's important. And within this story, we have incredibly strong female characters. Martin's implication is clear - people are people. Strength is not relegated to any specific "group" of people.

So with this being said, Leigh's repeated rants about sexism in her "Ice and Fire" read make me repeatedly *headdesk*. Because I feel they are missing the point. Rather than glorify our history, Martin wanted to show the reality of the Medieval period, and then show how strong women could be within that period. So, yes, the world of "Ice and Fire" was extremely sexist. This is established. But now let's see what the women can do in such a world - that's the point.
Vincent Lane
69. Aegnor

"Even though I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to blame Cersei for Joffrey,
because that boy was broken from the get-go, and I don’t think the most
exemplary parenting in the world could have changed that."

There's been some interesting research indicating that psychopaths can lead good, productive lives if they have good parenting. There was a neuroscientist who was analyzing the brain scans of serial killers, and found the same set of traits in their brain scans. He then, in unrelated research into alzheimers disease, he had taken brain scans of a bunch of his family members (including his own) as there was a high incidence of alzheimers in his family.

Well as he was going through the scans of his family he found a scan that showed all the classic signs of psychopathy. Initially he thought he had inadvertantly placed one of the serial killer's brain scans in the pile. In actuality it was his own brain scan. In addiiton he found out that in his family history he had a grandfather or great-grandfather who had murdered his mother.

So here's this guy, aperfectly productive member of society, with no history of violence, who is a psychopath. So Joffrey being such a terrible person, while made more likely by his nature, was not inevitable. Bad parently played a large part in that. Cercei's not off the hook.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
70. AlirozTheConfused
Rather than glorify our history, Martin wanted to show the reality of
the Medieval period, and then show how strong women could be within that period.

Yeah, no.

This series isn't midieval. It's nothing like the societies of the middie ages of Europe and England. Where's the Church and all its presence in life? We cannot understand the midieval people; religion permeated their lives in a way much more than anything we have today. We simply cannot comprehend the crusades any more than they could comprehend the Napster controversies, or that they could comprehend how man has landed on the moon.

The idea of uniformitarianism has been an unintentionally damaging one. The idea started with Geology, this idea that the same physical laws and processes that operate today operated throughout all time; that the laws of physics today are the same laws of physics that worked at the formation of the Earth. That idea has been generalized to human nature; and there is this sense that human nature never changes.

The best way we have of understanding the middle ages is by what remains of that time. The records, stories, and all that.

We are no more qualified today to comment on the middle ages than they would be to comment on our situation. We cannot understand that world any more than they could understand ours.
Kat W.
71. elvensnow
@32 (ThePrince and subsequent): Good points all. I do agree Leigh's rants get repetitive and shallow, but as @48 pointed out, when you read them all over a day's time it seems a lot worse, than when you read week to week.

This as a female, I do get a little tired of her rants and the subsequest "let's insert sexism into everything" conversations that follow. Sometimes a man is just a man and a woman is just a woman. And the whole point of Martin's books are to explore these themes, not to condone or support them, which is why I guess I get offended (on Martin's behalf) when people act like he was intentionally sexist (for an example read any of the chapters that covered Lysa).

Especially when, as you said, there are much deeper themes that could be discussed.

And to @64 and the other "just go away then"-ers, no one here is saying Leigh doesn't have the right to say these things or that she shouldn't. We're just pointing out that, as consumers of her blog, it gets a little tired when she doesn't say anything new. We get it, you don't like patriarchical societies. Yes, women get treated poorly and that's just wrong. Yes yes and yes. So can we move on, instead of dedicating an entire chapter's response to it?

In the end though we are just sharing our opinion about how we think it would make the blog better -- and in the nature of opinions, not everyone will agree. That doesn't mean we can't share it though.

To the reaction itself, Cersei certainly is interesting to read. I remember at first just thinking "Why can't she be SANE?" But some other commenters made me think about the fact that we are only just getting into her head after a lot of trauma - her favorite son is dead, her father just died, Jamie basically rejected her - so her world is definitely crumbling. I mean, I think she was always a bit of a sociopath, but then this really knocks her off the deep end.
Kat W.
72. The Prince

You're certainly right about religion being a more all-encompassing social force during the "middle ages" than what's presented in the world of "Ice and Fire".

I'm not saying that Westeros is by any means an exact replica of Britain during the Medieval period. I'm simply saying that Martin's world is broadly based on that period. And gender norms during that time of real history were not so very different from what we find in Martin's world.

I'm not saying that "Ice and Fire" is a commentary on the middle ages. Perhaps to some small extent it is, but it's certainly about far more than that.

Rather, I would say he is writing a "story about the human heart in conflict with itself", as he likes to put it.

It's just that be's broadly basing his social structure on Medieval Europe. So, the gender norms of Martins' society are based on that social structure.

I'm just saying that it doesn't really make sense to continue to go on and on about just how much these gender norms sucked. We all know they sucked.

There are more interesting things Leigh could be writing about than making predictable rants every time a man in the story doesn't recognize stregnth in a woman on account of the fact that she is a woman.
Kat W.
73. The Prince

Couldn't have said it better. Agree with all points.

Also, Lysa was a really good example to point out as one of the things that frustrates me more about Leigh's perspective.

We have literally dozens and dozens of God awful male characters that Martin has created. And honestly, the percentage of "terrible female characters" is far lower in comparison. Yet when Martin describes a woman with negative qualities (such as Lysa), Leigh immediately gets into a rant about how Martin's portrayal of that character is sexist.

I believe Leigh imposes a huge double standard with how she judges men and women.

I am a man, but I am a million percent on board with the equality of the sexes. I dare say I'm probably even a "feminist", if that term only means that I believe in all people being judged as equals. But the brand of feminism that turns me off is when I see a double standard.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
74. AlirozTheConfused
"I'm simply saying that Martin's world is broadly based on that period. And gender norms during that time of real history were not so very different from what we find in Martin's world.

I'm not saying that "Ice and Fire" is a commentary on the middle ages. Perhaps to some small extent it is, but it's certainly about far more than that.

Rather, I would say he is writing a "story about the human heart in conflict with itself", as he likes to put it."

This I can accept. Broad stroaks and all that.

But as for a through attempt to understand the way that people lived and thought in the Middle Ages; Martin is no Alfred Duggan.

I agree that the gender politics weren't all that different from a lot of the middle ages; and I certainly agree with you that those gender norms were awful.

I do rather agree with you about Leigh perseverating on Feminism; but to that I would also add that she perseverates about Religion quite a lot, as well. Also, Privilege. I really don't think that people from Chaucer's day would understand Privilege as Leigh understands it.

But, as I am a person who perseverates, who goes on and on and on and on about my pet interests, I have no non-hypocritical or defensible position.

There are more interesting things she could be talking about, true; but there are more interesting books she could be reading in the first place; so it's a wash.
75. Ryamano
@64 Aeryl

I remember people complaining about Leigh always talking about how she disliked slavery and thought it was wrong when the Seanchan appeared in a chapter in the Wheel of Time re-read. Even when the focus of that chapter was on another thing. And that it was kind of getting repetitive. Also, some people in the comments were discussing whether the Seanchan solution to magic-users being real and more powerful than most other people (i.e. enslaving them) was justified or not (a very polemical issue). But she just said she thought slavery was wrong and kept repeating the same criticism over several chapters and several books. The problem, in my view, was not that she thought that slavery was wrong (it really is), but how much her posts got repetitive on the issue and didn't seem to advance on the discussion, just being the writings of a knee-jerk reaction to something she disliked.

So, feminism is not the only issue that people complain she talks about.

Also, not saying that I dislike that Leigh complains about patriarchy or slavery, but I'm willing to join the ones that say that maybe she should deepen her discussions (about slavery more specifically, not feminism. I think she goes deep into the discussion about feminism).
Chris Nelly
76. Aeryl
@75, You are referring to the WOT reread, which I do not follow. But I too started on the first post and read almost all the comments of the ASOIAF read before catching up, and the only complaint I've ever seen, besides sporadic posting(and those people can stuff it too, IMO) is that she talks about feminism too much.

And then, if you feel there is a deeper discussion about feminism to be had that Leigh's not talking about that you want to, well guess what? There's a whole open, lightly moderated comment section for you to do that in. When you decline that opportunity to talk about it more deeply, to instead complain that Leigh's not talking about it more deeply, I really question whether you want to talk about it at all, or if it's just tone policing(the whole, well if your not going to engage in this topic the way I WANT YOU TO, then it's not worth engaging with you bit).
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
77. Lisamarie
Aeryl is definitely expressing how I feel here.

I definitely do not want to be shutting anybody down. If people disagree with Leigh on feminism, or even how much feminism should be discussed, or how it applies, etc - that is definitely their perogative. I do NOT want them to leave, any more than hopefully people don't want me to leave because I have some different opinions than Leigh regarding religion (don't answer that ;) ). But I definitely do notice a general trend regarding discussions in feminism that it's possible to get too worked up, or discuss it too much, or care about it too much.

I think it's great if you think there are either deeper things to discuss regarding feminism, or a host of other topics - definitely discuss them. But I do think it's important to remember that the point of this blog is Leigh reading from week to week and just giving us her honest reactions from her perspective. And I do think in some ways the slow pace does mean she kind of repeats herself at times each time something strikes her again. But obviously it's a very resonant theme with her. We're just kind of here for the ride to see how she responds (and then to have our own discussions) - I'm not expecting a lengthy discourse and analysis, especially for a first time read (although we certainly get plenty of good stuff, I think). To me, at least, part of the enjoyment is getting to relive the emotional responses, and then we can all dig into that in the comments/spoiler threads (not that I have been super active in this particular thread, but I like to read them).

I don't see what is to be gained by addressing her and telling her she should discuss it in a different way, as oppose to just deepening the conversation (or bringing up your own point of view) yourself.

I'll be honest, I probably do the same thing. I'm sure a lot of my comments on Tor threads center around the same few themes. And in fact I have a journal on another site that, every few entries, is 'OMG, the media got Catholicism wrong again', OR, somehow tying in some reflection on liturgy/theology/whatever into things that wouldn't seem to apply because that's what it makes me think of - so it's probably kind of annoying to anybody who doesn't care about it like I do. But it's the lens that I view things through.

Anyway. I don't want anybody to feel unwelcome, or to shut down dissenting opinions. But it IS also kind annoying when people complain that somebody is not expressing themselves the 'right' way (whether they intend to do that or not, I am willing to believe you are good intentioned!) or in the right amount, etc when the whole point of this is to see her honest reactions.
Deana Whitney
78. Braid_Tug
Well, I have to say that is has been one of the longer, but more polite and reasoned discussions about how Leigh reacts.

As, @76 Aeryl, said, people also complain about her sporadic posting at times.

In a way, how stretched the reading becomes leads to this repetition. She sometimes can't remember 2-4th tier characters from one appearance to the next. So, no, she's not going to remember what she has said before.

She's told us several times that she is not re-reading her posts (or the previous chapters) to keep things fresh. On top of being sick often, and having major family medical issues last year. Those things might make you forget several details.
She's reacting for the first time. Period.

If she ever does a Re-Read of the books, I'm sure a different depth of comments will come out. But even in the WOT re-read, she's going "Oh, I'd forgot that." That's a book she loves and has read several times already.

We are getting this for free from It’s a gift. There is a saying associated with gifts, that I’m sure does not need repeating.
Steven Halter
79. stevenhalter
1) Leigh gets to talk about whatever she wants to talk about.
2) We get to talk about whatever we want to talk about as long as it isn't a spoiler in the agreed upon manner in which this discussion thread has agreed to spoiler.

As Aeryl @76 mentions, if there are things you want to talk about that fall in point 2, bring them up. Leigh may not have brought them up because she wasn't interested in them or didn't think of them and may be wholly delighted by a different angle.
When I do my (hopefully useful) additions, I try to bring up the things that I notice and find interesting. There are any number of things I'm sure I don't notice but would find interesting and any number of things that I do notice but don't find interesting.
I tend to like the things that Leigh notices. Sometimes I have seen the same things and sometimes not and more often than not I agree with her. It is useful to see other points of view--otherwise why have a discussion?
As an example, in this post, I hadn't thought of the black&white monk's face changing being a result of hallucination--I thought it was probably the same thing Jaqen was doing. I still think that, but am willing to admit that the incense could be having some secondary effects I hadn't considered.
Steven Halter
80. stevenhalter
Braid_Tug@78:That's a very good point about the length of this reading effecting writing about it. Getting a feel for what reading like this is like is one of the reasons I'm engaged in my parallel exersize. I've got to say it is a very odd way to read a book and it is easy to forget details and what exactly has been mentioned before. A good example being, I hadn't recalled that we had already been told about Cersei & Lancel.
Kat W.
81. Lyanna Mormont
I'm going to agree with the last few comments here. It's Leigh's Read, it's going to be based on her thoughts and reactions, it's going to be about the things that go through her head, which means it's going to be about the things that interest her. Anyone who doesn't think that's enough is free to add to the discussion in the comments (as long as they stay clear of spoilers and "helpful" hints).

I alos have to say that to me, coming in here and trying to dictate what Leigh should or should not talk about smacks of arrogance. I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you didn't mean it that way, but that is how it reads to me.
Rob Munnelly
82. RobMRobM
I'll second what BT says @78. Covering lots of ground, pretty respectful presentation, well done by all. If she responds at all, and I don't see why she needs to, I'll anticipate Leigh's responses, as she has responded during the six or so years she's been doing the WoT re-read and, more recently, this one. She will offer one or more of the following points, paraphrased by me for humorous effect, of course: "I am what I am." "What you see is what you get." "I calls em as I sees em." "If you don't like it, go take a look at some of the other bloggy fish in the bloggy WWW sea."

I'm ready to return to my regularly scheduled programming. LOL.
Deana Whitney
83. Braid_Tug
@80, StevenH, I applaud you for doing the parallel read. It has to be really hard at times to not push ahead.

Your comments and reactions have been fun to read as well.
Maybe I will try it with WoW, but not sure.
For one thing, I hope he doesn't take that long to publish.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
84. AlirozTheConfused
This is Leigh's blog, and she can talk about whatever she wants.
But, I really do like it when she talks about things like that one castle that was conquered when someone went up the Garderobe, and things like that.
Chris Nelly
85. Aeryl
A thing to remember, is that if you feel there is deeper meaning and Leigh doesn't talk about it, it's likely because it didn't resonate with her, but once you post your interpretation, once she reads the comments, it may have an impact on her future reading.

A for example, in the final book Stephen King's Dark Tower, there is a Lovecraft reference, I who never did Lovecraft, never got. Then seeing a reference to something else, I followed the reference, a discovered that this Lovecraft reference is threaded through all his novels, and it made that segment of that book much more powerful to me, even though it didn't engage me initially.
Leigh Butler
86. leighdb
andaco @ 65:

Yes, I do read the comments. And yes, I do agree that the comments are a place for readers to expand upon/debate whatever I have brought up in the main post. This week, I see, it is our regularly scheduled argument about whether I should shut up about feminism. (And religion, but mostly feminism.)

I am really pleased that this blog has introduced you to feminism, andaco. If you are interested in learning more about what's going on here, I encourage you to Google concepts like silencing and tone-policing, and how these are acts of privilege and aggression even when they are phrased politely. These are useful concepts to know about, for they occur not just in discussions about sexism, but in any situation where an oppressed minority has the temerity to speak about that oppression. Note how the purpose of these silencing tactics is rarely or never to address the actual meat of the argument made; the only interest is in making the speaker stop talking - or at least, to stop talking in a way in which they do not approve.

Note the subtlety with which this can happen; things like slyly belittling language - continually referring to a person's thoughts as "rants", for example, thus implying that she is being over-emotional and irrational, and therefore more easily dismissed. Not to mention the parallel (and false) implication that emotion automatically invalidates an argument, or that the speaker has no right to their anger over oppression, no matter how justified.

Deliberately misrepresenting a person's thoughts, to be far more vituperative than they actually were for instance, is another favorite, and you should Google strawman argument for more information on that tactic. Reading up on logical fallacies in general is probably a good idea, actually. (Ad hominem is another big favorite; we haven't really seen that one here yet except very subtly, but in most cases it is guaranteed to put in an appearance sooner or later.)

This is barely scratching the surface, of course, but it's a good start. And fortunately for you, there are also many excellent examples in this thread of how to accurately call out silencing tactics for the bullshit that they are. It's important to be able to identify both the positive and the negative, right?

I hope this is helpful information for you, dear. Welcome to the wonderful world of debate on the Internet.

Oh, and thank you for the link to TV Tropes, it is one of my favorite sites, in fact.
Steven Halter
87. stevenhalter
Aeryl@85:Yes, and of course in that there becomes a fine line between enhancing and spoiling.
The Lovecraft reference would seem to fall under enhancing to me as it is an external factor that adds to the enjoyment.
A spoiling interpretation might be something like "Hey did you notice that every character in here is exactly the same as one of the character's in Finnegans Wake and if you just read that in reverse paragraph order it totally gives away book 6?" Where the external factor gives away key elements (spoils them).
Tricia Irish
89. Tektonica
Leighdb@86: You go lady! Keep up the good work. At least one young soul has been awakened.
Kat W.
90. TG12
@86 You win aaall the Internets (for today, at least). As dropped mics go, that was a good 'un.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
91. Lisamarie
@86, hah, that was masterful.

And, because it worked on so many levels, and I am a paranoid person, I just want to clarify that a)when I used the word 'rant' in one of my post, I was being a bit cheeky and referring to the original poster's use of 'rants' and b)by pointing out that I sometimes disagree regarding religion or would sometimes prefer a different topic of discussion, I did not mean I think you should shut up about it (and I apologize if I've ever come across that way in the past), I was just bringing it up as an example of something that people can have passionate feelings about, disagree, but still accept as part of the read. It might not always be to my taste but that doesn't mean I think you have to cater to that or should be unable to express whatever your thoughts on the topic were.

Anyway - I just wasn't sure if that was directed at me or not!
Yuliya Geyko
93. kassiva
Warning, this comment could offend you, but you should see it only as different mentality view.
I want to thank all of you, especially Leigh. I am not American or even European. History of my country closer to Dothraki (you can't even image how GRRM is excellent in depiction of nomad tribes) and our mostly "soviet" women's mentality says: "man is a head, woman is a neck" (but "where neck is turning, only there head is watching"). Before finding this reread I was closer to anti-feminist. Yep, you read this right, and I am a woman. From where I am some laws, especially european, look like not equal rights to all, but to provide exclusive rights to "louder" ones. There is even a joke that in the USA if you are a white heterosexual healthy man you will hardly find work (again, don't be offended - it's only words from other continent, yours about russians&co also can be different from reality).
And that's why I am so excited with this reread. You react really differently. BTW, you can see offence where I can see common respect. Reading these posts helps me find the answers - how can it be, we all want the same (equal rights), but behave and react even in the opposite manner? And what we have more: common or different? And the concrete one: how can we appreciate the same authors when we see different things in their works? How can I love Douglas Adams when I don't understand English jokes?! =)
There are no answers to these yet. But Leigh (and others here), you help to extend my world building vision. Nope, it doesn't mean that now I am into a feminism, coz for me this word sounds wrong (equalism will be better).
In the end, it was some kind of strange "thanks" comment =)
Kat W.
95. The Prince
leighdb @ 86

Thank you for responding (to the discussion as a whole). I was the instigator of this particular discussion, although I take it from the other comments here that this happens fairly regularly.

I agree that it wasn't at all proper of me to refer to your thoughts about feminism as "rants". That was unfair, and I see how you would feel that my use of the word meant that I (either consciously or unconsciously) was trying to dismiss your thoughts as "emotional" and therefore not grounded in reality. I also agree that an "emotion" does not discredit an argument.

But please realize, I am not at all trying to discredit what you say. In fact, it may be noted, by and large I agree with your feminist perspective.

I am pro-feminist. I want Hillary Clinton to be our next President. I live with my girlfriend, and I do the vast majority of household chores because she goes to medical school. I'm a supporter of gay rights, equal pay for equal work. I could go on. I am a feminist and a supporter in minority rights in general (equality = yay!), as long as that doesn't start going the other way and into double standards territory (double standards = nay!).

I encourage you to shout your feminist views from all the rooftops. Silencing your views on the subject is the absolutely last thing I want to do.

So what is my beef? If I haven't made this perfectly clear by now, I'll say it again... perhaps it is only truly apparent during a "binge read" like I have had of your Ice and Fire blog. I feel you've been repititious with your feminist angle on "Ice and Fire", and it no longer makes for an interesting read. Hell, I don't even blame you. I'm repititious myself - just look at me right now - and I don't have to keep a weekly blog that has been going on for years about the same series of books.

So I think your blog would be a much better read if you expanded a bit more on some of the other themes of "Ice and Fire" and a bit less on feminism. That's my opinion. But of course it's your read and you can write about whatever you want to write about. You're just giving your reactions to what you read... and if don't write about gender issues when it's what you're really thinking more than anything, than I suppose you wouldn't really be giving your honest response, would you?

I will add that I have enjoyed reading your blog as a whole very much. Thank you for the weekly contributions.
Kat W.
96. The Prince
Quick follow up.

I'm feeling bad right now for starting this whole conversation. I REALLY enjoy Leigh's blog, and I like Leigh (based on her writing).

I will probably be a regular commenter in Leigh's blog going forward, and from now on I will actually discuss Leigh's weekly post itself. Yay!
Kat W.
97. Tyrellsdunnit
You're still in the immediate aftermath of Joffrey's wedding (even though that was 8 months ago for you lol), and since there's another tidbit or two forthcoming... You don't even know if Tyrion got out of the Keep alive yet after all excepting meta-knowledge that even Martin probably wouldn't whack a main off screen, at least not that off-hand :)
98. Maac
"Martin wanted to show the medieval period as it really was."

Actually, there's a pretty strong argumument to be made that Martin has emphatically NOT shown the medieval period as being anything like it really was, capturing brutality and class and power systems to an exaggerated extent and failing to take into account the amount of agency common people had to "vote with their feet" relatively undetected. human history, people will put up with a LOT of tyranny but it has to come with stability. Seriously, that’s how Empires even happened at all on any continent in the Middle Ages.You can’t just have a war and kill all the farmers. Everyone will die. Any survivors will leave, society will collapse, and you’ll be the happy king of nothing, and then you’ll die of starvation. The right to control what people produced had to come with some kind of upside for the people doing the production.

The only time in human history that this level of global brutality has ever been perpetrated is European colonialism and imperialism during the 18th Century-current. That whole deal even being remotely possible was due to several very specific factors…

Basically what I am saying here is that ASOIAF/Game of Thrones, is absolutely a post-colonial projection of colonial brutality into a quasi-Medieval setting. ...: what if colonial-level horrors had been visited upon Medieval white people by Medieval white people?
(Note -- the writer is a fan.)

Martin chose what elements to include and exclude in his oeuvre, just as with any created world, and can be critiqued for it, in breadth OR in depth. It's a testament to this created world -- and in my opinion to the intelligence and general coolness of its fans -- that it can handle as much critique as we care to pour out upon it and still stand as an immersive and gripping (and beloved) work.
Kat W.
99. Lyanna Mormont
@ 98 - Oh yes, there's a lot about the Middle Ages that Martin hasn't included. Since we're on the topic of women and their position in society, it's worth mentioning that there were a lot of women who did hold power without being Queen Regents or anything of the kind. Widows in particular - they were even legally allowed to own property and run businesses!

Also, the stuff about girls being married off as soon as they had their first period? Not common. When it did happen it usually involved royalty or nobles wanting to cement an alliance, and the first child of the union often didn't appear for several years, implying that the marriage probably wasn't consummated right away. (Yes, of course there were exceptions.)

As for the downtrodden farmers, they had plenty of church-mandated holidays when nobody was allowed to make them work. They got to work early in the morning, but had a long break in the middle of the day, before working through the afternoon. And if they just survived the dangerous years of childhood, their life expectancy was not bad at all.

It wasn't all dark in the so-called Dark Ages.
John Massey
100. subwoofer
@Leigh.... Perhaps even @Leigh@86 :) I like feminism- see? I even know how to spell it. I even think some of my friends are feminists. True story, it could happen.

But let's talk about kids. They are so much fun. Look at GRRM's world, there are families with a whack of kids, a herd, a little a flock, a gaggle. The kids are what we are following, thrust into hard situations at an early age, and we see them struggle, rise or fall.... erm... Joffrey is a shining example of what not to do. Ever. OTOH we have Arya, who I would love to have as a daughter. ... she'd make a good son too, but the jury is out there.

Jon Snow is an example of adoption done almost right. I'da changed the whole bastard thing until a much later date when a kid could understand that mom and dad still love him... Or dad loved him, Catelyn didn't have to be so territorial.

Theon- that was messed up.

Jaime? Cersei? That was really messed up.

Daenerys? Well....

Oh look, topics for discussion kinda, sorta not femish ;)

John Massey
101. subwoofer
Looky, looky!

Some crafty pup scored the hunny!


Zorila Desufnoc Eht
102. AlirozTheConfused
"Note the subtlety with which this can happen; things like slyly belittling language - continually referring to a person's thoughts as "rants", for example, thus implying that she is being over-emotional and irrational, and therefore more easily dismissed"

Well, when somebody writes for an extended length on one subject, and it isn't an essay, what other words are there to call such an expression of thought? It isn't a soliloquy or a dissertation. It isn't a monologue, and since the audience isn't addressed it cannot be called a lesson or lecture (the latter of which has some connotations that I do not mean to imply). It would be rude to use the term Diatribe and it isn't spoken so it isn't a speech or oratory. It isn't rhetoric.

What should I call it? I don't have a good word for it. I can't use the term Fulminate, it has bad connotations and is too easily confused with a term from chemistry. Pontificate would be downright mean, and too easily confused with a catholic term. All the words for "a long collection of words by one person on one subject as a statement of a conviction or sincerely held view" have eventually attained negative connotations. "Lecture" didnt always have the dogmatic connotation it now has.
Kat W.
104. The Prince
Weird, I made a whole new post, but somehow my previous post was repeated? Aye.


Basically I agree. I found it difficult to find a word to describe Leigh's posts about feminism that didn't have a negative connotation. Maybe our vocabulary is just lacking... but I really did struggle with that. I suppose I could have simply referred to them as "Leigh's thoughts from the feminist perspective".


Again, I realize that "Ice and Fire" is not strictly based on any one period of history. Martin pulls from different periods of history, and makes some stuff himself. I'm merely pointing out that there is a strong parallel between Martin's gender norms and gender norms that we can find in real history.
Bridget McGovern
105. BMcGovern
@102: I'm not sure if you're being serious, here. If you honestly think that "rant" is somehow superior to the other terms that you're dismissing as being too "rude" or "mean," I'm not sure what to tell you, except that you are mistaken, and I can't imagine it's really all that difficult to discuss the opinions put forth in these posts without being dismissive and condescending, if you put a modicum of effort into it.

Dubious semantics aside, I'd like to thank everyone for keeping the tone of this rather lengthy discussion as calm and civil as possible, over the last few days--Katharine and I very much appreciate it, from a moderation standpoint. But we'd also appreciate it if we could all get back to discussing the text and this week's chapter, at this point. Thanks again.
Steven Halter
106. stevenhalter
There is a very easy way to describe Leigh's posts. See, I just used it--they are called posts.
“Valar morghulis” means "All men must die" and “Valar dohaeris” seems to be a response to that. I'll go with the valar being the "all men" part, morghul being the deathy part and "is" being some sort of must modifier. That gives us something like "All men must dohaer" so far.
If we split that and go with "do" just being like latin d? or English do we get something like offer or give--basically, to do. The "haer" part tough and carefully googling just shows, hær from Danish for large army and that doesn't seem to fit.
So, so far we have something like "All men must give haer". Of course, I don't think GRRM is strictly building a full language. So, in the context of a respose, some things that would seem appropriate in the context of a response to "All men must die" to a coin holder could be things like:
All men must give thanks
All men must offer aid
All men must do what they can
or something along those lines. Or, it could be something more ritualistic like:
All men must bow to fate.
Kat W.
107. Lyanna Mormont
@ 106 - I really like the way you think. Unfortunately, anything else I could say would be spoilery.

On a different topic: in the temple of the Many-Faced God, there's a huge bronze horse statue. Dothraki, by any chance? I've always thought it must be. So for the Braavosi, who pride themselves on having escaped slavery, to include the deity of a people who make it their business to enslave and sell others, they must be really serious about this "all gods" thing...

Also, the obvious real-world parallel to the Titan of Braavos, the Colossus of Rhodes, was destroyed by an earthquake. Maybe Braavos isn't prone to earthquakes.
Yuliya Geyko
108. kassiva
@106, you made me to find english words starting with "doh". Just for fun: DoH means Department of Health. Definetly, GRRM didn't mean this, but it sounds hilarious: morg- and DoH-.
I think you are very close. "Mer-" from morgulis is proto-indo-european root, and valar can be connected to proto-indo-european "wiso-" (in slavic languages "valar" == "vse", "ves") or to "wei" (which means "we"). That's why we can assume that GRRM used proto roots (maybe I should try to find a proto-root of "valonqar" to prove this theory). So, "deh-" is again proto-indo-european root, which means give ("do" in Latin, "davat" or "dat" in Russian). What "all men must give" isn't included in the sentence, so the next assumption: what we can give is imlying and essentially connected to the word "give" and we can omit reference to it.
Based on my cultural background it can be "give a respect", "give a service", or some hilarious like "give a kick" and "give a bribe". I am think service is closer, because this greeting occurs in the situation when somebody ask another for help or service (captain cannot deny Arya trip to Braavos after this, door is opened...).
Jennifer B
109. JennB
It's been a long time since I read this book, so I may be remembering wrong, but...

I am surprised by all the excitement about Arya's arrival in Braavos. I remember this being the point where I began to lose interest in Arya's storyline. I remember feeling that it had become boring, a bit confusing and she seemed to be lost as one of my favorite characters to read. I am hoping that I like Arya's upcoming parts better in Liegh's summaries. After all, Leigh's summaries made all of Daenary's chapters much better than I remembered them. (I think when I was originally reading these books I may have been a bit biased against anything that happened away from the main continent. Don't know why.)

As far as Joffery goes, there is no answer to the Nature vs. Nature debate because they are both very important and so intertwined that you just can't separate them. As far as Cersei's responsibility, she not only did an extremely poor job raising Joffrey, she also purposely made sure that all of her children were products of incest. (She aborted the only pregnancy that was not from her relationship with Jaime and was careful never to be impregnated by anyone but him after that.). In Martin's world, it is established that incest in the Targaryen family caused the same sort of madness that Joffrey seems to have. I think that it is strongly implied that much of Joffrey's behavior is a result of inbreeding. Luckily for Marcella and Tommen, the madness does not affect every child of inbreeding (should be on average, 1 out of every4). I have often wondered why Martin didn't show any signs of madness among Craster's wives. Maybe they just exposed the crazy ones like they did all the little baby boys.

edit it to say: The Craster thing could easily be explained by saying that the Lannisters and Targaryans carry the recessive madness gene, while Craster and his wives do not. After all there is a giant wall of ice that has been keeping gene flow between the Wildings and the rest of the people of Westeros pretty low for ?thousands? of years.
Birgit F
110. birgit
Craster must originally have had a wife who wasn't his daughter. Those daughers who are old enough to be wives are probably children of that first wife.
Adam S.
111. MDNY
@108 W0w, that is some amazing research. I have no idea if GRRM has consciously used existing linguistics research in constructing his false languages, particularly Valyrian (the language to which "valar morghulis" belongs), but you did a very good job there and have convinced me that he may have. Can't say more until the meaning of dohaeris is explained later, but bravo.
Regarding Craster's wives and incest, we only know that none of the wives present in the books appear to have madness or other signs of inbreeding. However, we don't know what the sons are like (other than being given to the Others), plus Craster seems like the kind of guy who would just kill any child that was born deformed or exhibited madness at a young age. I never wondered where the first wife came from, but that's a good question...hard to marry your daughters without having a wife first.
Steven Halter
112. stevenhalter
aviskase@108:Yep, "mor" and its variations resonates darkly with indo european speakers. And, yes give a service or offer aid seem likely in the context.
Kat W.
113. The Prince

I couldn't disagree with you more about Arya's storyline. I love all of her chapters in Braavos, and Arya is my favorite character. To each their own I guess.
Yuliya Geyko
114. kassiva
@111, @112
Actually, I doubt that GRRM used proto-ie-roots intentionally. Tolkien, yeah, he did (plus proto-uralic). But as Valyrian grammar structure resembles indo-european languages, I've assumed that it could work. BTW, if "valar" == "all men", is "valyrian" language the language of "all men"== "common" ? What keeps me confusing is the word "valonqar", can't wait to hear its meaning.
115. Maac
Again, I realize that "Ice and Fire" is not strictly based on any one period of history. Martin pulls from different periods of history, and makes some stuff himself. I'm merely pointing out that there is a strong parallel between Martin's gender norms and gender norms that we can find in real history.
As long as you also realize that you've significantly altered your argument here. We began with the premise that the gender issues that concern Leigh were an accurate representation of a single period, the Medieval period, as you said. We've now broadened it to "in real history," which is... extremely broad. And it still comes down to the fact that the author, in creating his wholly invented world, was able to -- and free to, and did -- pick and choose which of these norms from various periods of history to incorporate, and picked a mixture of extremely oppressive ones (possibly not the most oppresive ones he could possibly find, but cumulatively more negative than positive). So it's worth examining what the culmination of those choices implies about this created world as well as what it implies about the world/world view(s)/time period we and the author live in now, because it doesn't consistently imply nearly as much about the actual Medieval period it borrows the trappings of.

(Ew. "Borrows trappings" sounds so negative. I don't mean it so. It's clear that it's a Medieval-seeming atmosphere that Martin is going after, is what I'm saying, but the pieces don't map onto the historical Medieval times we actually had, in terms of expediency and economics. So "it's historically accurate" doesn't work as a defense of much.)

Interestingly, to me, the period Martin depicts that is most like the most brutal forms 17th to 19th century colonialsim is the Targaryen Invasion of Westeros with Tons 'o Fire All Over, and yet at that point the women seem to play a very promient and egalitarian role, as least on the invaders' side. I don't have materials in front of me now, so I could be wrong about this. (I could Wiki, but I really should be heading to bed...)
Kat W.
116. Black Dread
I guess we all get the lessons and examples we are looking for.

I take every action and thought by Cersei as proof of how awful powerful monarchies really are. She is wholly unqualified and undeserving of power. Yet she has it because of her birth and her marriage. I think the same of Robert, Tywin, and all the rest. But I find that being in her head is particularly disgusting because she has the absolute belief that she DESRVES it!

She has no self-awareness of her luck of birth, no responsibility to those she leads. She places no value on the lives of anyone except her own and her children. Death, suffering, and poverty of the people mean nothing to her. She is exactly why people revolted against monarchies or delegated them to the role of meaningless figureheads.

Man or woman, I find Cersei very hateable, even from inside her evil head.
Scott Silver
118. hihosilver28
@96. The Prince, if you're planning on being a regular commenter, I'd recommend "Taking the Black" and getting a regular username. It's easier to comment and then you're able to edit comments too, in addition to making it really easy to enter's pretty regular sweepstakes. Anyways, welcome to the comments. :-)
Kat W.
119. feistykitty
I just want to say I love you for the reference to The Gripping Hand.
Kat W.
120. DougL
@109. JennB

You mean, since she got to Braavos and from then on? I can get that, if you mean you started losing faith with Storm then I can't possibly agree.

However, I quite like, well, for example, this chapter a lot GRRM did a lot of world building here and it was very, very well done. Well, I can't say more without spoilers, let's just say, I still love Arya.
Jennifer B
121. JennB
@120 DougL
I did mean from when she got to Braavos and after. Sorry, I don't understand what you mean by "losing faith with Storm."

As I said above, I think that when I read this long ago, I was very biased against any chapters that took place away from the mainland. I have never done a reread. I think that if I did, I would appreciate these chapters more. I already appreciate them more as I read Leigh's summaries.
Aparna Vengakkad
122. ApsVeng
One of the good things, important things, about books like ASIOF is that they hold a mirror in front of you and let you see the prejudices within you. This happens whether they are representative of any period of history*, or not.

However, this self reflection cannot happen without discussion. People see a book through different coloured lenses; to get them to think of other lenses and other colours in which they are dyed, they need blogs such as this.

Even then, even when we are exposed to such view points that gets us to be introspective, just hearing it once may not be enough. It may take a lot of hits to wear a wall down (especially when the wall is something you constructed to protect yourself).

There is also fact that, in places where issues of gender/class/previlege are not even talked much in the mainstream, where horrors like female foeticide and infanticie and stigma and victim shaming due to rape occur regularly (even in educated circles, circles that may read Western fantasy fiction like ASOIAF and even follow Leigh's blog), where people are ostracised or killed for daring to love someone that society didn't approve of, just talking about the simple so-called "superficial" but mainly easily identifiable points help; in fact, they may help much more than delving "deeply" into anthropology and psychology because some may not have yet reached the stage where they make much sense of it.

Not that people shouldn't discuss such stuff in the post: just trying to say that the blog, as it is, helps--even if, that weren't the point.:-)

Not sure if this gets to anybody who posts in here, coming so late in the day. It was a sort of comment for Leigh as well as others. Hope it gets read.

(We need history so that we can learn from it, and understand ourselves better; I have never understood the requirement some people have to enshrine history; why say, this is how it was? it may have been, it may not have been: in either case, if the book and the blog gets you to think about gender/class/privilege and other things that are relevant to society today, isn't that what is important? Other than finding mutual enjoyment in a series, ofcourse. But then, that is probably just me.)
Kat W.
123. Heronimus Rex
@116. Black Dread, pretty much nailed it there. Thanks for voicing my thoughts almost exactly as I think them. Plus: Cersei deserves death and suffering because she made Robbert order the death of Lady. The north remembers. All I'm saying.
Steven Halter
124. stevenhalter
Cersei is messed up and certainly seems to qualify as a terrible person at this point. But then, so have all of the current kings we have seen with the possible exception of Robb--although we didn't get to see much of him outside of battle conditions so we don't really know how he would have done; he didn't seem to be doing much to improve the lives of the common man, though.
As a rule of thumb, all of these lords are basically feudal in nature and aren't concerned for the well being of anyone other than themselves and their extended family groups. Cersei seems to have even more extreme personality traits that further ramp up this feudal tendency to what look like increasingly psychopathic extremes.
Kat W.
125. DougL
@121. JennB

Well, since this Read is only up to the first few chapters of Feast, I just assumed you meant Storm, since even the inference that someone may or may not still be alive as of Dance is in itself a spoiler.

As regards feminism, I am personally pissed about the historical repression of women because I really think if we'd had equality throughout history, I'd be posting this from my home on Mars. So, not the reason most people have to support equality, but I am a selfish person.
126. Ryamano

Why do you think Doran Martell is feminized?
Chris Nelly
127. Aeryl
He doesn't get to participate in the masculinity act because of his disability. He, like the women in this story, has had to find another way to rule.

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