Mar 13 2014 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 7

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 7 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 10 (“Sansa”) and Chapter 11 (“The Kraken’s Daughter”).

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 10: Sansa

What Happens
Sansa begs Petyr to make Marillion stop singing constantly from his prison cell, as it is audible everywhere in the Eyrie and haunts her even though she knows he was a bad person, but Petyr says he promised to allow it, and reminds her that it will not be much longer, as Lord Nestor Royce, High Steward of the Vale and Keeper of the Gates of the Moon, is coming up the next day. Sansa is terrified at the prospect of his visit, but Petyr assures her that if Marillion tries to tell Nestor anything they can just say he is lying. He promises he will not let harm come to his daughter. Sansa thinks to herself that she is a Stark, not his daughter, but doesn’t say so aloud.

Petyr tells her to just tell Nestor the same tale she told Robert, but Sansa thinks that unlike Lord Robert, Nestor is not a sickly, grieving little boy. Petyr says they lie for the greater good, and Sansa know he is lying to her as well, but thinks that at least they are comforting lies. He assures her that Lysa’s ravings before she “fell” were just that, mad ravings. Sansa thinks that he is really two people—Petyr and Littlefinger—and has difficulty telling one from the other. But she knows she has no one else to turn to by now; everyone else is either dead, or betrayed her. She reflects, as well, that lies are all that has kept her alive thus far. Marillion continues singing sad, poignant songs through the night.

Lord Nestor arrives the next afternoon, along with his son Ser Albar, a dozen knights, and a score of men-at-arms. Petyr introduces her as Alayne, his natural-born daughter, and sends her to fetch Lord Robert. Robert has been crying, and says that someone locked him in his room the night before when he had wanted to come sleep with Sansa. Sansa knew he wanted to, which is why she’d had him locked in. Robert is afraid of Lord Nestor and doesn’t want to see him. Sansa comforts him about his mother and lies that Lord Petyr had loved her very much, and takes him down to the High Hall, which she has not been in since Lysa’s death.

Robert announces to Nestor and his party that Marillion threw his mother out of the Moon Door, and that Alayne and Petyr saw it. Sansa is shaking, and Petyr tells Nestor that Alayne still has nightmares about it, and gently encourages her to tell the story. Crying, Sansa confirms that Marillion pushed Lysa, and Robert screams that he wants the singer to “fly,” sending himself into a fit. They all wait out the spell silently, and Petyr sends him back to bed to be bled.

Nestor then grumbles that he never liked that singer, and that Lysa wouldn’t listen when he told her to send him away. Ser Albar and the other knights chime in with tales of how Marillion had made fun of them. Petyr sighs and says that’s why it happened, because he had convinced Lysa to send Marillion away at last. Nestor agrees and decides to carry out the singer’s sentence.

Marillion is brought out, wearing gloves and a silk bandage to cover where his eyes and three of his fingers have been removed. He begs forgiveness and tearfully confesses to the crime, and Nestor sends him back to his cell. Nestor and Albar agree Marillion must die. Petyr invites Nestor for a drink in the solar and has Sansa come pour for them.

Nestor warns Petyr that all the Arryns’ bannermen will come to confirm the story as well, and that his cousin Bronze Yohn will try to have Petyr removed as Lord Protector. Petyr says he cannot stop Bronze Yohn if he does so. He shows Nestor a parchment which makes Nestor’s appointment as the Keeper of the Moon Gates permanent and hereditary, even though before the post had always gone to an Arryn. He says it is proof of Lysa’s “high regard” for him, though she was sadly murdered before she could sign it, so Petyr signed it in her stead. Nestor declares he deserves this for his faithful service, and they drink a toast.

After he leaves, Petyr points out again to Sansa the wonders to be worked “with lies and Arbor gold.” He explains how Royce’s pride would have flared up in anger if Petyr had asked his price outright, but this way Petyr gives him lies that Nestor wants to believe. He adds that men of honor will also do things for their sons that they would never do for themselves. Sansa also realizes that by signing the order himself, instead of having Lord Robert do it, Petyr has given Nestor a vested interest in having Petyr remain Lord Protector, lest his removal call his own appointment into question.

Petyr praises her cleverness in seeing that, saying he would expect no less from his daughter. Sansa starts to point out that she is not really his daughter, but Petyr warns her to stick to their story even in private, for you never know who may walk in at exactly the wrong moment, and surely she does not want any more blood on her hands. She promises him to be Alayne all the time, then, and he promises her that “with my wits and Cat’s beauty, the world will be yours.” That night she forgets to have Robert locked in, and so he climbs in bed with her. He asks if she is his mother now.

“I suppose I am,” she said. If a lie was kindly meant, there was no harm in it.

Hrm. Otherwise entitled The Miseducation of Sansa Stark.

It’s extremely tempting to be greatly impressed by Petyr’s sheer facility with deception and intrigue—and on a lot of levels it is greatly impressive. It requires near-savant level feats of memory and observation, as well as the ability for both meticulous fore planning and spur-of-the-moment improvisation, which are rarely traits that go together. Not to mention a frighteningly thorough understanding of human psychology.

So yeah, it’s impressive. But the problem with building everything on lies is that it literally is a house of cards, and even the most skilled house-card-builder in the world cannot possibly account for every last external factor. And even if he can account for all of them, even if he is just that good, he cannot possibly control all of them. And all it takes is one errant metaphorical breeze at just the wrong time, and the whole thing comes crashing down.

Which is a thing that Littlefinger himself obviously knows very well, as is made clear by his warning to Sansa to maintain their cover story even in private. But again, he can’t account for or control everything, and the bigger the web of lies grows, the shakier the whole thing becomes. Personally, even if I had the skills for Petyr’s shtick I still don’t think I could do it just owing to the sheer stress factor. I would have no stomach lining at all if I were living his life.

Of course, my ulcer potential wouldn’t exactly be much less astronomical if I were living Sansa’s life either. (Or hell, anyone’s life in this series, but we’re talking about Sansa for the moment.)

Sansa thinks (and learns) a lot about lies in this chapter, and it worries me and pleases me both. I am pleased, because learning how and why people lie is Survival Skills 101 in this world, and that is a skill set Sansa needs plenty of, stat, but I am worried that with Petyr as a teacher, Sansa will never learn to recognize the dividing line between “lies that keep you alive” and “lies that get you ahead.”

Granted, the line between those two categories is sometimes extremely blurry, and the former is not actually all that much less dangerous than the latter, but at least lies told for purposes of survival have some moral integrity compared to lies told solely for purposes of advancement.

I am never (or almost never) going to censure somebody for lying to survive; if someone’s holding a gun on you, honey, metaphorical or otherwise, you say whatever the hell you need to say to get out with your skin intact, and that is that.

But then again:

“I am tempted to say this is no game we play, daughter, but of course it is. The game of thrones.”

I never asked to play.

And yet she doesn’t have much choice but to play it, does she? Like I said, the line between doing what you have to do to survive and doing what you have to do to win is… blurry. Maybe even nonexistent, for Sansa. But I still want her to know the difference between the two. I feel like that’s really important. And I feel like that’s something Petyr is unlikely to teach her.

However, I do have hope that maybe she will come to learn it on her own, based on her thoughts in this chapter about “kindly lies”. Not that that isn’t its own kind of potentially deadly slippery slope, but at least Sansa is still thinking of ways to lie that benefit others as well as herself. Compassion may be a liability in the game of thrones, but some prices are worth paying, in my opinion. It may be a long shot, but I’m still going to hope for Sansa to still have a soul by the time this thing is over.


Littlefinger never lifted so much as his little finger for her.


Sansa’s thoughts about Petyr and Littlefinger being two different people are interesting, but I am skeptical of their veracity. Petyr’s always seemed pretty well integrated with himself as far as I can tell.

Lastly, whatever, y’all: Petyr can be as nurture-y and fatherly-affection-y towards Sansa as he wants, and he might even be buying his own line on that, but I am still waiting for that other skeevy pseudo-incest shoe to drop, and that’s the truth. Ugh.


Chapter 11: The Kraken’s Daughter

What Happens
Asha arrives at Ten Towers, the castle of her uncle, Lord Rodrik Harlaw, and contemplates how few allies are gathered here with her. She finds out that Lord Rodrik is in the Book Tower, and also that Lord Tristifer Botley is here, and reflects that meeting Tris again will be awkward. She thinks of her mother Alannys, broken and grieving elsewhere in the castle, and decides to put off giving her the news that Theon is dead as well. She instructs the steward to take good care of her crew, and of the captives, especially Lady Glover and the children. She warns that it would be a very bad idea to let the baby in particular die.

She goes to her uncle in his reading room, reflecting that his love of books is considered “unmanly and perverse” by many of the ironborn. They exchange family news for a bit, and then Asha asks him if her father was murdered. Rodrik replies that Alannys believes so, but is noncommittal himself. Asha points out the convenient timing of the Crow’s Eye’s return the very day Balon died, and demands to know where her ships are. Rodrik says he sent the summons, but only twoscore longships answered. Then he tells her that Baelor Blacktyde came to consult with him, but left again to go to Old Wyk. Asha asks why he went there.

“I thought you would have heard. Aeron Damphair has called a kingsmoot.”

Asha finds this hilarious, but Rodrik tells her that other priests have taken up the call, and the captains are gathering in Old Wyk. Asha asks if the Crow’s Eye or Victarion have agreed to this “holy farce,” but Rodrik doesn’t know. Asha thinks “better a kingsmoot than a war,” but Rodrik observes that he read that the last kingsmoot, thousands of years earlier, ended in bloodshed. He opines that Asha should not go, and urges her instead to throw her support to either Stannis Baratheon or Tywin Lannister, help them win the Iron Throne, and then claim new land for the ironborn as a reward.

Asha says that is a plan to be considered after she sits in the Seastone Chair, but Rodrik is certain she will not be chosen, for no woman has ever ruled the ironborn. Asha insists she has the best claim, and entreats him to come to the moot, but Rodrik is not interested. He tells her that Lady Alannys is doing better, and she asks if Alannys knows about Theon. Rodrik says no, and asks if she is sure Theon is dead. Asha is not, as the carnage at Winterfell made it impossible to identify most of the bodies.

He entreats her again not to go to Old Wyk, and offers to name her heir of Ten Towers instead, though not Lord of Harlaw. Asha tells him she is a kraken, of House Greyjoy, and it is her father’s seat she wants, not his. He tells her she is “just another crow [then], screaming for carrion”, and bids her leave him. Asha thinks that he will go to Old Wyk no matter what he says, and leaves.

In the courtyard, she meets Tristifer Botley, who she thinks has grown a lot but still looks “too sweet” for the Iron Islands. He tells her about how the Crow’s Eye drowned his father for denying his claim to the Seastone Chair and gave half his lands to Iron Holt, and has been buying friends left and right. She assures him that she will restore the Botley lands to him once she has the throne, but Tris is more interested in complimenting her beauty. Asha thinks back to their adolescent fumblings, and how she’d thought she was in love with him until he started going on about how many children she would have, and was relieved when he was sent away.

She asks if he will speak for her at the kingsmoot, but Tris says Lord Blacktyde thinks it “a dangerous folly”, and her uncle is sure to end it in bloodshed. Asha says he hasn’t the strength, but Tris disagrees, and claims that the Crow’s Eye brought back “monsters and wizards” from the east. Asha dismisses this, and asks again if he will come. Tris says he is her man, forever, and asks to marry her.

Asha groans internally and tells him he doesn’t want to marry her, but Tris insists that he does nothing but dream of her, and says he has never touched another woman besides her. She suggests he go touch one (“or two, or ten”), and tells him of her many conquests. Baffled, Tris says he thought she would wait. Asha tells him he is a “sweet boy,” but she is no sweet girl, and if he wed her he would come to hate her. Tristifer doesn’t listen, insisting they are meant to be, and grabs her arm. She puts her dirk to his throat and warns him to let her go if he wants to live. He lets go.

“You want a woman, well and good. I’ll put one in your bed tonight. Pretend she’s me, if that will give you pleasure, but do not presume to grab at me again. I am your queen, not your wife. Remember that.” Asha sheathed her dirk and left him standing there, with a fat drop of blood slowly creeping down his neck, black in the pale light of the moon.

Okay, so apparently (I now know), Martin released several chapters of AFFC as advanced teaser material before the book was actually published, which is why some chapters have their POV characters referred to by their titles and/or sobriquets rather than by their names, but I gotta say, it is hella distracting from this end.

Maybe I’m just overly invested in format symmetry, but whatever, it’s a thing and it bothers me. Couldn’t they have changed them back to “Asha”, etc. before publishing the chapters in the actual book, so I wouldn’t have to twitch every time I come to a chapter title that deviates from the established pattern? Bah.

Anyway, as usual the prejudices of the ironborn are severely taxing my eye-rolling muscles. OMG, Rodrik likes books! And knowledge! THE HORRAH. Anti-intellectualism is awesome, not. And of course I note that everyone in the area seems to manage to come by Rodrik’s place and take convenient advantage of his “unmanly and perverse” scholarly bent, don’t they. Because that’s not hypocritical or anything. Whatever, iron people.

This is to say nothing of the sexism, naturally. And I certainly hope no one’s going to decry me talking about that when the entire point of the chapter is about the bullshit Asha has to put up with, for daring to want things women aren’t “supposed” to want—like power—and for daring to not want things women are “supposed” to want—like children.

Don’t get me wrong, Asha is a highly problematic poster child for the cause of Putting Women in Charge of Things, because she is not anything like an ideal ruler in my opinion, but that’s the entire point: she shouldn’t have to be the poster child for Putting Women in Charge of Things. This is the core issue: Asha should be judged on her own merits (or lack thereof) and found wanting on rational grounds, instead of being dismissed out of hand merely because she has a vagina. The entire problem with sexism (and racism, and all the other *isms) is that it means constantly being forced to be representative of an entire group of people, instead of having the privilege of being evaluated as an individual.

As a friend once put it: if a man sucks at math, it’s because he’s bad at math; if a woman sucks at math, it’s because women suck at math. (And if a black man sucks at math, it’s because black people suck at math. And so on.) To map it onto Asha’s situation, she should get to be told she sucks at kinging because she, personally, sucks at kinging, not because women suck at kinging.

Because that’s bullshit.

Plus, I gotta say, it’s not like any of Asha’s competitors seem to be much better on the “being awesome” front. Well, Victarion’s still kind of an unknown quantity, but Crow’s Eye is clearly a thoroughly undelightful human being, and Theon is… well, possibly dead? But even if he isn’t (and I have a sneaking suspicion that’s he’s not), we all already know how sucktastic at kinging he would be, so. It’s perfectly possible that Asha is in fact the dubious best of a very bad lot.

(She so has to go to the kingsmoot, even if Rodrik’s probably totally right that it’s a horrible idea, because now I’m deeply morbidly curious about what’s going to happen there.)

Then there’s Tristifer, and just wow with him. I mean, there you go: Tris’s blithely oblivious disregard of Asha’s own desires and personality, and his utter refusal to see her as anything other than the ridiculous idealized version of her he’s built up in his head, is such a perfectly textbook example of male privilege that I kind of wanted to applaud Martin for coming up with him, because exactly. Shut up, Tris.

Then there’s this:

The crew of her Black Wind took a perverse pride in the deeds of their woman captain. Half of them loved her like a daughter, and other half wanted to spread her legs, but either sort would die for her.

I… yeah. I guess it’s a matter of “whatever works,” at some point? Doesn’t make it any less sad, though.

Slightly tangentially, I had to snort a bit at Asha’s thought while contemplating how she’d lost her virginity:

Afterward, Asha had the sense to find a woods witch, who showed her how to brew moon tea to keep her belly flat.

Martin’s usually pretty good at subverting or inverting fantasy tropes, but I find it amusing that he evidently decided to play the “miraculously effective herbal abortifacient” trope completely straight. It does solve a lot of logistical problems, admittedly. Which is why we all wish it had actually existed in the real world. History might have turned out a lot differently if it had…

Last but definitely not least:

“Archmaester Rigney once wrote that history is a wheel, for the nature of man is fundamentally unchanging. What has happened before will perforce happen again, he said.”


Aw. That made me happy.

And that’s our show, kidlets! Have a lovely seven-day unit of time, and I will see you next Thursday!

Kat W.
1. Kat W.
Loved the shout-out to WoT in this last chapter, made me grin all silly-fashion.

I think Asha would actually make a good Queen.
George Jong
2. IndependentGeorge
I find the Greyjoy chapters tedious, but I like Asha's the most (largely because almost alone of the Iron Islanders, she appears to actually have two working brain cells to rub together).

Anyway, one thing I found incredibly interesting was this:
(Roderick) opines that Asha should not go, and urges her instead to throw her support to either Stannis Baratheon or Tywin Lannister, help them win the Iron Throne, and then claim new land for the ironborn as a reward.
Which, of course, was almost exactly the whole point of sending Theon to the Iron Islands way back in COK.
Rob Munnelly
3. RobMRobM
Hey Leigh - note yet another shout out to Archmaester Marwyn's works. Guy sure gets around. (And I'm glad you caught the WoT shoutout- nicely done by GRRM.)

Sansa - ugh ugh ugh ugh. Poor girl. I've always wondered what LF promised Marillon to get him to shut up in this context. He's not benefitting personnally at this point.

Asha - I actually like her. She's one of the more meritorious characters in ASOIF, if you can put aside she is a pirate and a killer. The Kingsmoot/Queensmoot is setting up to be quite a trip. Good point that Tris is so so so cringeworthy, it's glorious.
Rob Munnelly
4. RobMRobM
@2 probably would have worked if Robb sent anyone other than Theon himself to make the pitch. Roads not taken and all that.
Michael Duran
YES, THANK YOU for calling out Tristifer. Some people actually think he's nice and sweet, but all I see is someone who is selfish and immature, who only cares about his own wants and who doesn't respect Asha as a person with the right to say no to him.
Mary Stallworth
6. Dilecta
Great stuff all around, Leigh. Except, that there was actually a fairly effective herbal abortifacient in ancient times. It was known as silphium. It was so effective, it was eventually harvested into extinction.
Chris Nelly
7. Aeryl
Which is why we all wish it had actually existed in the real world.

It did. The Romans used it to extinction.

I will say Leigh, that going forward, perhaps more of an effort should be made to discern what Asha thinks, from what the Ironborn think. It's hard in her POV chapters to make that distinction, but it is there.

She thinks a LOT about the screwed up backwards way the Ironborn thinks, but those are not always things she agrees with. The Ironborn think Harlaw is a lesser man with his books. Asha does not think this, so there isn't any hypocrisy in her going to him to seek his advice, she recognizes him as a man of worth.
Kat W.
8. OsRavan
Huh... i guesse i've been corrupted by fantasy. I always actually thought natural abortifacients existed in our real history. They just often came with real life health risks if you didnt use the exact right dosage or things.

Learn something I suppose
David Goodhart
9. Davyd
I'm still calling Sansa sitting on A throne by the end of this.

Queen Sansa, First of Her Name!
George Jong
10. IndependentGeorge
Sansa - ugh ugh ugh ugh. Poor girl. I've always wondered what LF promised Marillon to get him to shut up in this context. He's not benefitting personnally at this point.
My wholly unsubstantiated (but plausible) theory always was this:

1. Marillion was never blinded/maimed - hence the focus on the blindfold and the gloves. Littlefinger offered to help him fake it to avoid doing it for real.
2. Marillion was offered a chance to escape in exchange for a confession. Given the nature of the sky cells, it's easy enough for him to "disappear" without raising any questions. After publicly confessing his crimes, he would then be secretly given a one-way ticket to the Free Cities.
3. Of course, it's a double-cross. Once Littlefinger gets his confession, he will have Marillion secretly executed and disposed of. I mean, this is Littlefinger, after all.
Kat W.
11. TG12
I find reading about the Ironborn occasionally tedious, but at least interesting in this sense: Martin has made them a great antidote to any tendency (which I know I've indulged upon occasion) to romanticize the Vikings. They're mostly a pack of barbaric gits, with their "iron price" this, and "thralls and salt wives" that. It may give you some idea of Victarion's character to say that he's a near-perfect exemplar of their culture... I actually think that, for all her flaws (and she's far from my favorite character), Asha probably is the best of a questionable lot.

Also, Sansa, whew. I'm actually fairly curious to see where/how(if?) she ends up in the endgame. Protege of one of the narrative's master manipulators, who is also more-likely-than-not creeping on her pretty hard sub rosa...yeah. Good luck with that, girl.
Adam S.
13. MDNY
SO happy you caught the second WOT reference in ASOIAF (you also caught the flag for House Jordayne of the Tor that Pod saw in Tyrion's chapter). The Reader is awesome, and his fear of Three-Tooth made me LOL.
Sansa's chapter is yet another depressing look at her life in the Eyrie. LF has her under his spell, and it's frightening.
I still think that the chapter titles generally work, especially in some later chapters.
Kristin Treado
14. krtmd
But there are natural abortifacients in the real world, which is what I thought GRRM was borrowing -- tansy, cohosh, pennyroyal, angelica.
Kat W.
15. OsRavan
Also on another note, i'm about 100% sure whoever told you that these chapters had different names was due to them being early released was incorrect. OR at least partially. While many of the 'named' chapters were shared early not ALL of them were. I wont name names cause that would be spoilers. But about 1/4 were not shared early. Maybe more.

Likewise, several chapters with 'regular' names *were* shared early and not given names.

I'm actually about 90% sure (not 100 but hey) that the reason for the names is actually due to them all being part of a REALLY long 100 plus page prologue that got so bulky it was chopped up.

I suppose its possible the early release of those chapters influenced the fact that they had special names, but I dont think its that neat of an explanation.
Steven Halter
16. stevenhalter
Chapter 10 - Sansa:I'm not recalling right away who the imprisoned singer in the sky cell might be. Now it's coming back. Lysa had him playing while threatening Sansa and then getting tossed by Petyr. Then Petyr blamed the singer.
Lord Robert has some major issues also. Epilepsy and random breast nuzzling. Locking him in his room seems like quite the good idea--can't blame Sansa for that at all. Bleeding him is almost certainly not a good plan, though.
So, Petyr is essentially engaged in a slow brain wash of Sansa. Learn to lie as a second nature and think of him as her father. Hopefully she will learn the lessons Petyr is teaching but avoid being entrapped within the lies herself.
They are indeed playing the game of thrones here. Sansa's life depends on it and her mastery of it. Very interesting lesson on psychology and manipulation with Lord Nestor and the grant of the Gate.
Sasha P
17. AeronaGreenjoy
When readers hate on Sansa, I want to say: "Try surviving as a 'traitor' in the Lanister court for a year, take care of Robert Arryn for a day, then tell me how stupid and weak you think she is." In a story full of women unhinged by grief and loss, she's only gotten more perceptive, rational, and -- unlike almost anyone else -- compassionate.

I love AFFC partly for its abundance of female POVs. Arya, Cersei, Brienne, Sansa, Asha -- very different women, each navigating (or blundering through) a different but often gender-related set of challenges and opportunities in this messed-up world.

Rodrik Harlaw is the best; if Aeron's finest qualities were combined with his, I would be utterly besotted. I have Jealousy Issues with Asha, but grudgingly admire her as a kickass and unlikely warrior with some sense of morality. I sympathise with the heartbroken Tris, but he does act presumptively here. Though I wondered just what "girl" she would force to sleep with him.
Kat W.
18. Hyperanthropos
@RobMRobM I don't believe that things would have turned out differently, if Rob would have sent anybody else than Theon to trade with Balon Greyjoy (At least not much). First of all, they felt that the lord of the Iron Islands would not have accepted any envoy than his own son. Secondy, Martin descripes in Theon's first chapter in ACOK, how a large number of warships have set anchor at the pyke. It is strongly hinted that Lord Balon was already planning on rebelling, whether his son was still a hostage of Winterfell, or not.
Kat W.
19. TG12
Yeah, I'm fairly sure that the special chapter names thing isn't related to early chapter releases; there are ten "special chapters" in this book, and I know there weren't ten chapters released pre-publication. Also, if you hate it, gird up your loins, because I just counted, and there's *twenty* "special name" chapters in the next book, A Dance with Dragons.

I think Martin is doing it because he thinks it conveys some meaningful extra-textual information about the character/chapter in particular. I don't hate it myself (in some cases I even see it as kind of cool), but I can see how it would be annoying.
Kat W.
20. GarrettC
So, like, as I understand it here Leigh doesn't take issue with the idea that an herb can do what Moon Tea does. She's pointing out the problem with its apparent 100% success rate.
Chris Nelly
21. Aeryl
@16, Think back to when Cat took Tyrion prisoner at the Inn at The Fork. Marillon was there. Tyrion even won his fur cloak from him dicing on the road to the Eyrie.
Kat W.
22. Kimmsie
oh, no fear, abortifacients do exist. They're often highly toxic to the mother-to-be, though, as they're essentially operating on the principle of chemotherapy. Kill the stuff growing the fastest.
Kat W.
23. Dragonriding Moogle
Major agreement on Tristifer. He's such a classic fake Nice Guy and it really impresses me how right an older male author got him.
George Jong
24. IndependentGeorge
When readers hate on Sansa, I want to say: "Try surviving as a 'traitor' in the Lanister court for a year, take care of Robert Arryn for a day, then tell me how stupid and weak you think she is." In a story full of women unhinged by grief and loss, she's only gotten more perceptive, rational, and -- unlike almost anyone else -- compassionate.
I think a lot of the Sansa hate comes from our conditioning to expect an action heroine in the circumstances, and undervaluing the soft skill she's used to survive in the circumstances. The ironic thing is that Sansa was supposed to be a deconstruction of the rebellious Princess defeating the corrupt King, but readers wind up faulting her because we believe in it ourselves.

That said, there is one thing that Sansa did which I can sort-of forgive (because she's a child), but not really: lying about not knowing what really happened between Joffrey, Arya, and Micah the Butcher's Boy. I can understand being blinded by a crush on the crown prince, but no matter what else was going on, she flat-out lied to her father and the King. Worse, it was over a literally life-and-death isse for Micah. (That the Hound had already killed him at this point is irrelevant; as far as anyone knew, his sentence would depend on what story she backed). And while we see Arya grieve over Micah, Sansa's next POV makes no mention of him, and then she goes on to projects blame onto Arya and Ned.

Show-only Sansa gets hate largely because she is much, much, much, much dumber than book Sansa (case in point: when she asks Shae if her family would be able to attend her wedding to Tyrion in S3. Seriously. What the hell were they thinking?).
Kat W.
25. DougL
Well, I mean there are drugs and drinks you could give a woman to abort a potential pregnancy, but mostly they would likely kill her as well. So, you know Moon Tea is a bit of a fantasy at this point. We do have the morning after pill now, but I don't know anything about it. I just don't think the morning after pill existed in history in a less than lethal form.
Chris Nelly
26. Aeryl
Another thing Show-Sansa catches flak for is opening up a bit to Tyrion, but to me, this is one of the smartest things she does. Not because she should trust Tyrion, but it shows she's learning. She's observed enough of Tyrion to know he's not like the rest of his family, but he's the only she can torment, so she does by laying on the guilt of what's been done to her family, knowing it bothers him.
Steven Halter
27. stevenhalter
Chapter 11 - The Kraken's Daughter:Asha Greyjoy would be the obvious referent for the chapter title. If it has been either two or four thousand years since the last kingsmoot, then no wonder people are astonished at the idea of having one. These people are taking tradition a tad too far.
So, yeah, it sucks to be denied being the ruler because they won't accept a female. So far, none of them seem like people who would actually be very good rulers as opposed to leaders of pillaging war bands.
Asha is determined and I like it when she tells Tris she doesn't want a dozen sons, she wants adventures. That's fun. We haven't really met the Crow's Eye, so we don't know what kind of ruler he will be accept that everyone we've met so far doesn't like him.
I also like that she counts her "nuncle" as coequal (or better) than her uncles. Rodrick seems quite useful and Asha is showing some good sense in being willing to talk and listen to him.
Kat W.
28. zambi76
That said, there is one thing that Sansa did which I can sort-of forgive (because she's a child), but not really: lying about not knowing what really happened between Joffrey, Arya, and Micah the Butcher's Boy.
Kind of surprised by this IGeorge, because I thought it was pretty clear that everyone (Renly almost fell of his chair laughing) including Robert and Ned knew this was kangoroo court.

On the show Ned even defends Sansa about this when Arya complains about it to him, which I found nice. And Micah was toast no matter what, I mean have you met Joff and his lovely mother?

Usually it's the running to Cersei later to tell her about Ned's plan to leave KL that the haters are absolutely unable to get over in respect to Sansa.

On topic, I'm terrified of what LF will do with Sansa's already fragile mind and I never quite got the hang of any KillGreyjoys but Theon, I'm afraid. 4 POVs seems like extreme overkill for that bunch. I'm also majorly creeped out by fandom's overall reaction to/wishes for a somewhat diffcult very sick eight year old orphan.
Sasha P
29. AeronaGreenjoy
@24: Agreed on all counts. We all want to think we would respond to danger with Arya's independence and physical survival skills, or Dany's resourcefulness and nerves of steel. But I know that my temperament is more like Sansa's, and can only hope that in her place I would have enough discretion, courtesy, and, yes, help to survive as long as she has. Her lie regarding the Kingsroad Fight was a serious misdeed, driven by loyalty to idealized Joffrey and fear of his family, but many characters have done worse and later been redeemed in our minds. Tattling to Cersei was a giant mistake, but understandable and not an act of cruelty or greed like so many others.
George Jong
30. IndependentGeorge
Kind of surprised by this IGeorge, because I thought it was pretty clear that everyone (Renly almost fell of his chair laughing) including Robert and Ned knew this was kangoroo court.
She got called before the King, and was ordered to tell the truth; she told a bald-faced lie to avoid responsibility. This is not a "lie kindly meant" described here, or a "lie agreed upon" that allows people to otherwise function normally. This was a lie purely for self-benefit (so that the dreamy Prince wouldn't hate her).

And like I said - that Micah was already dead at this point was irrelevant. As far as Sansa knew, he was going to be punished for striking the Prince, when she knew for a fact that he did not. As far as she knew, it was the King's decision, and she just withheld pertinant information to the King.

Really, in difficult situations like this, I find it useful to ask: "What would Stannis do?"
Usually it's the running to Cersei later to tell her about Ned's plan to leave KL that the haters are absolutely unable to get over in respect to Sansa.
I know, and I've never been able to hold that against her because (a) she's eleven years old, (b) Ned never told her it was a secret, or (c) that they were in any danger whatsoever, or (d) that the Queen herself was the danger, and (e) what she told Cersei was barely relevant. To the limited extent that it did assist Cersei, it's still 99.999% Ned's fault.
Kat W.
31. GarrettC
Lord Robert has some major issues also. Epilepsy and random breast nuzzling.
Oh! Oh! This seems like as good a time as any to mention what ultimately became a real issue for me with this book (and to some extent, those before it): Suckling.

Now, I think a lot of the things GRRM is doing in his narrative are defensible. Against the most common cries (sexism! racism!), the narrative holds up well (the narrator, a little less so, but that's another comment altogether). I'm not going to re-hash all that. The books depict a progressive worldview in a regressive environment. That's good. The key characters challenge their environment in important ways. So, yay!

But, oh, God... oh, God, the suckling.

I'd picked up on it a bit earlier because of young Robert Arryn (for obvious reasons), and I'd been downright flabbergasted by the bio-logical gymnastics required to accept that Dany could possibly nurse her dragons (egg-born non-mammals that, physically, probably couldn't even latch on if they tried, and would not have been well nourished if they could) way back in Clash of Kings.

But in AFFC, the suckling actually became oppressive to me as a reader. Keep an eye out as we move forward. At one point there's a good run of something like 15 out of 17 straight chapters that feature different variations on suckling. o_0
Deana Whitney
32. Braid_Tug
All great points Leigh. And happy you’ve seen the WoT shootouts.

See @6&7 beat me to the fact about a natural one. Makes you wonder how history would be different if some enterprising person(s) had decided to farm silphium like it was barley. Rather than wait for it to grow naturally. Obviously there was a market for it.
Kat W.
34. Samdumb
All right, I'm going to be that guy. Figuratively a house of cards, not literally.

Now that that's done... Sansa! Her education under Littlefinger is one of the more interesting developments. I did see some speculation that perhaps he will be training her too well, especially if she finds out how involved he was in Ned's and later Robb's downfall. In the end, she might be what does Petry in.

I'm a little worried that this training might affect Sansa so negatively that if she ever reunites with her family, she'll be so corrupted by Littlefinger's practices, the compassion and relatability she had to her siblings will be gone and as a result so will the familial bond they once had. But perhaps that's a discussion for later chapters.
Mary Stallworth
33. Dilecta
@24: Actually Sansa didn't lie to her father. In his POV he states that he knows the truth of what happened because she'd told him the night before. What Sansa was trying to do was not implicate anyone (she says she can't remember, it happened too fast). She was hoping to keep peace by not getting either Joffrey or Arya in trouble. Which, though wrong, seems like a pretty normal thing for a woman of her background to do.
Kat W.
35. zambi76
Really, in difficult situations like this, I find it useful to ask: "What would Stannis do?"
That would be pretty much the last thing I would ever ask, so I guess it's unsurprising that we will have to agree to disagree here too except for:
I know, and I've never been able to hold that against her because (a) she's eleven years old, (b) Ned never told her it was a secret, or (c) that they were in any danger whatsoever, or (d) that the Queen herself was the danger, and (e) what she told Cersei was barely relevant. To the limited extent that it did assist Cersei, it's still 99.999% Ned's fault.
36. Ryamano
Leigh, you got the Wheel of Time / Robert Jordan reference. Did you get the Jack Vance and Roger Zelazny references? They appeared in previous books. Is it OK to say when GRRM put these shout-outs, or does it count as spoiler?
Kat W.
37. o.m.
@1, 3, 11 et al, I wonder if you're giving a murdering pirate a free pass just because she is a woman. As RobM pointed out, you have to put aside that she is "a pirate and a killer" to like her.

A bit like the new 300 -- Artemisia is the coolest of the lot, but would you really want to work under her management? Asha is a smart killer, but a killer none the less.
Lauren Hartman
38. naupathia
I actually agree that Sansa lying about the Mycah incident was about the worst thing ever. And the fact that it got Lady killed but then Sansa wants to go on blaming Arya is what really makes you hate Sansa. Her telling Cersei about the plans to leave was certainly a huge headdesk moment, but as pointed out it was somewhat understandable (although her reason for doing it - because she wanted to stay with Joffrey - is what makes it so rage inducing).

However, I will say I started to like Sansa a lot better later in the book, and after several read-throughs I think she's one of the most interesting characters and has some of the greatest potential. She is second fiddle to the most influential person in Westeros. And she's getting smarter by the minute. I fully expect her to ruin the hell out of LF's plans by outwitting him.

And yes, Tris is gross. If I were Asha I probably would have kneed him in the groin. I like Asha okay, but probably less than others just because of the whole Ironborn thing. I find the whole lot to be headache inducing.
George Jong
39. IndependentGeorge
That would be pretty much the last thing I would ever ask

That was actually a joke on my part.

It began on the forums, where I decided to apply "What would Stannis Do" test to mundane situations, like "Some refused to make a fresh batch of coffee in the breakroom because he left 1/8th of an ounce in the pot. How should I react?", or "What is the an appropriate tip when your server gives you acceptable, but not great, service?", or "I've been waiting on hold with Verizon for 20 minutes, and they still haven't put me through. What should I do next?"

Hilarity ensued. Now, every time I find myself getting flustered over what I know to be trivial things, I think, "What Would Stannis Do?", and inevitably it makes me laugh and puts me in a better mood.
Kat W.
40. KingsGambit
Lots of people agreeing on how great Sansa is, so I feel I have to speak for the Sansa haters.

It's not just Mycah or running to Cersei. She's privilaged, self-rightious, obnoxious, naive and I lack the vocabulary in English to properly finish this scentence. She's mean to her sister and mean to Jon. She cares about nothing but herself.

She couldn't know the consequences of running to Cersei, but she went to her for selfish reasons: her marrying Joff was more important then her family. The Mycah thing could have landed Arya in a lot more trouble then it did. When Eddard sent Dondarrion after Sandor, she thought he didn't send Loras because of his leg! Nobody was hurt by that, but it just tells you how stupid she is (was).

By the time of SoS she really should have known better and no matter how bad the Lannisters were to her, not bending for Tyrion at the wedding was a small reminder of just how nasty she is. She should have recognised by then that Tyrion was consistantly being kind to her.

When we meet her, her best freind is Jeyne Poole. When she disappears at the end of GoT, it takes Sansa months to miss or even remember her. Ok, I forgot about Jeyne too, but she was never my best friend.

Those are just a few examples on the top of my head. She's been properly annoying in many, many ways for three books. This chapter is the first time she shows she has any sense at all. She actually thinks for herself!

That's not to say she deserves all the terrible things that happened to her. Now Littlefinger who can't decide if he wants Sansa to be his daughter or his wife. That's just way too creepy. Apart from that, if some political education by LF would make her a little less naive, she'd be all the better for it.
Kat W.
41. Crusader75
Was there much indication before this that the responsibility Balon gave Asha was unusual in Iron Islands culture? I found it a bit incongruous that she seems readily accepted as a battle commander but a female monarch was out of the the question. Also, it suggests that Balon was kind of forward thinking, which shocks me a bit. On the other hand, rooting for Asha's claim means rooting for a right to rulr by blood over at least semi-democracy
Kat W.
42. Shawn P Cooke
Another thing to remember about the "miraculously effective herbal abortifacient." We don't know that Martin is playing it completely straight, only that Asha believes that the substance in question is efficacious. If she had spoken of sacrificing a cod by the light of a waning moon, we would have made the assumption it was superstition. It's only because herbal abortifacients actually exist that we as readers believe Asha, and think the treatment might have actually worked as intended.
George Jong
43. IndependentGeorge
@37 -
I wonder if you're giving a murdering pirate a free pass just because she is a woman. As RobM pointed out, you have to put aside that she is "a pirate and a killer" to like her.
Well, by itself, being a pirate and a killer really is not much different than just about every other Lord in Westeros. The reason I tend to view her better than almost everyone else in the Iron Islands is a bit spoilery.

//I tend to give Asha a bit of a pass because unlike everyone except Euron and Roderick, she does not believe in raping, burning, and pillaging as an end in and of itself. At the Kingsmoot, she makes the very good point that the old ways cannot be sustained, and that their only future requires a foothold on the mainland and joining the rest of Westeros proper. Yes, she's harmed a LOT of innocent smallfolk, but so has Robb and Dany. She does not get a pass because she's a woman, but because this is Westeros, and her worst behavior is actually somewhat better than average.//
Vincent Lane
44. Aegnor

Actually there was a plant that was extremely effective birth control. It was over harvested and no longer exists.

Also, I've read the series a couple times and I don't know that I ever noticed the Jordan shout-out.
Sasha P
45. AeronaGreenjoy
New favorite quote:

Asha: Do you want to die old and craven in your bed?
Rodrik: How else? But not until I'm done reading.
Kat W.
46. Bill D5
IG@ 43 I completely agree with your view on Asha. The obnoxious thing about Balon was that his turning on the Starks was an idiotically short-sighted move. His only real chance for independence against the Iron Throne was with allies who would prevent the eventual winner of the civil war from reconquering his islands. A victory by Robb Stark was his best hope, but he pissed that away in exchange for an easy win. Theon, of all people, accurrately assessed the long term success of Balon's bid for a crown without the Starks' help, and later on, Asha points out the inability of the Greyjoys to hold inland territory, when Theon tries to carry Balon's agenda to its logical conclusion. I mean, what was the next step in his plan? If the Lannisters are too powerful and clever to lose to Robb, or tolerate his taking the North out of the Seven Kingdoms, why does he think they'll allow him to do the same thing?

I also kind of take exception to her assumption that her men follow her for sexist reasons. Maybe they wouldn't turn down a roll in the hay with her, but we see often enough that the ironborn don't follow leaders for stupid or shallow reasons like laws or birth. A captain or king has prove himself again and again. While some might have made the initial choice for the novelty or purient reasons, she would not have kept her authority if she was incapable of retaining their respect. Her wry, and I think, not really serious, assessment of her followers should not be taken at face value.

One thing I like about Rodrik is that Martin did not succumb to the pandering trope in fantasy whereby the highly literate medieval character has enormous advanatges over his more brutish contemporaries. Melanie Rawn is a particularly obnoxious and ironically ignorant example of this. Rodirk does have some insights that could naturally be expected to accrue to a voracious reader and history buff, but not to the overwhelming degree that all too many authors (themselves readers, who are writing for an audience that is similarly enthusiastic about reading) imbue their literate characters. As Kipling notes in "Arithmetic on the Frontier" education skills are more relevant in an advanced technical civilization, not one where survival is a more desperate, less taken-for-granted state of being.
"No propositon Euclid wrote/No formulae the textbooks know/Will turn the bullet from your coat/Or ward the tulwer's downward blow" The readers have to wait their turn for societal advantage, because at this level of tech and subsistence, the thugs tend to win.

And speaking of Rodrik, Leigh says:
"I note that everyone in the area seems to come by Rodrik's place and take advantage of his .. scholarly bent"
Um, who? The guys in his hall are there because he is their liege lord, and the most powerful guy on the most wealthy & populous island. The only one who takes his counsel is Baelor Blacktyde, whom we shall see is atypical for the ironborn, and might have done so for any number of reasons why one lord might ask another's advice.

As for Leigh's math formulation, it is rather one-sided. Does she think it's a picnic for men and Asians to have their achievements dismissed as some sort of genetic inheritance? And I am talking about basic everyday skills, where you are "not allowed" to express chagrin or disappointment over a woman's failure to make change, figure a tip, measure or count or calculate properly, because males have some sort of secret math power. My math SAT was 80 points lower than my verbal, I only got failing quarterly grades in math & science in high school, math is only subject in which I never took an honors course, but somehow, my basic proficiency in daily functions is unique to my gender, and I cannot possibly expect female coworkers, or cashiers or family members or fellow customers to pull their weight and match my rudimentary abilties.

While there are good points to be made about the marginalization of women, particularly in the case of Asha (whom Leigh ironically seems to be supporting solely for her gender, not having respect for her character), I think that it is too easy to fall into a two legs bad/four legs good mindset about the disenfranchised, and assume every practice is only good or bad for a particular group. See my rant last week about sexism and military stuff, for an example.
Chris Nelly
47. Aeryl
@40, Those are the normal behaviors of a young teenage girl, I know, I have one. She's hot and cold running angst, loves me to pieces one day and wants me out of her life the next. None of these excuse the amount of vitriol given to Sansa.

She wanted Ned to send Loras just like my daughter wants Harry Styles to win a Grammy. It's the silly little thought of a child who knows not what she speaks, it doesn't indicate stupidity.

not bending for Tyrion at the wedding was a small reminder of just how nasty she is.

Not bending down for Tyrion is a VICTORY. Look I know everyone likes him, I do too, but she is not obligated to be nice to be him, she is being married to him against her consent, and if he were so damned nice he'd have refused to do it in front of everyone there in the Sept.

Her "failure" to think about Jeyne has nothing to do with her being mean, it's called REPRESSION and it's a common effect of being psychologically tortured as she has.

And she is no meaner to Jon than she was taught to be, and her POV recalls several fond memories of Jon.
Kat W.
48. Lyanna Mormont
Creepy Sansa chapter. There's the dead man walking singing, little Lord Robert pestering her, being questioned (and expected to lie) about the traumatic event where her aunt nearly killed her and was killed herself instead, and then there's Littlefinger. Creepy creepy Littlefinger, who is grooming Sansa to be his daughter while at the same time grooming her the way a pedophile grooms their intended prey. Ick. And those thoughts about lies... slippery slope indeed.

And then for something completely different - Asha. The anti-Sansa in some ways, more so than Arya IMO. I like her better for loving her Reader uncle. I like her better for the way she handled Tristifer the Entitled Moron. But at the same time she keeps saying and doing those little things that make me not so fond of her. As someone pointed out above, she promises to put a woman in Tris's bed - does anyone think the woman in question will have a say in the matter?
Kat W.
49. Delafina
"Martin’s usually pretty good at subverting or inverting fantasy tropes, but I find it amusing that he evidently decided to play the “miraculously effective herbal abortifacient” trope completely straight. It does solve a lot of logistical problems, admittedly. Which is why we all wish it had actually existed in the real world. History might have turned out a lot differently if it had…"

Actually, the Romans had a plant that was such an effective contraceptive that they used it into extinction.

And Pennyroyal is a very, very effective abortifacient. It's just dangerous. But other herbs like Dong Quai (angelica) are also fairly effective, especially when it comes to bringing on delayed menstruation (which amounts to an abortion early in pregnancy) with less risk of severe hemorrhaging (periods may be prolonged and heavier than usual, but it's not like pennyroyal, which could kill you).

So, if you're thinking of it as an herbal abortifacient that would, say, induce a safe second-term abortion, then yes, that's Fantasy Herbs. But if you're looking at it as something that Asha might drink each month around when she's supposed to get her period, that will "prevent" her from getting pregnant, with the side effect of having slightly more painful and prolonged periods than she otherwise would, it's not only plausible, there are real-world herbs that actually do that.

But, just as today, there were plenty of women historically who were blocked from accessing herbal birth control, didn't know about it, or didn't know how to use it correctly. So, history as it is contains those sort of plants, and still is what it is.
Steven Halter
50. stevenhalter
GarrettC@31:So that would be why some people say this book is suckier than others.
Kat W.
51. Lyanna Mormont
@ 47 - THIS. YES.

Sansa is a child. She does foolish childish things, and has foolish childish thoughts. That doesn't make her evil, nasty, mean, stupid, or any of the other things people love to call her. When I was that age, if anyone put me on the spot by asking questions that, if answered honestly, would make me disliked by someone(s) I wanted to be liked by... I did everything I could to avoid having to answer honestly. I didn't stop to think about whether it would bring trouble to others. I didn't at the time think of it in terms of right or wrong. (Although I frequently did afterwards - but then I wasn't usually traumatized by the death of my direwolf or my father.)

It takes all Sansa's strength just to survive, just to put one foot in front of the other and keep smiling at Joffrey so he won't hurt her worse than he already does. And people complain that she's not thinking about others, that she's not "learning" (whatever it is they think she should learn) or that she's not nice enough to Tyrion. She's clinging to her sanity! She's lost everything, at a time in her life that's hard enough to deal with under good circumstances. Give her a break already.
Rob Munnelly
52. RobMRobM
@various above - teenage daughter: living it on a daily basis.

@31, 50 - glad you got that off your respective chests. I dug the humor.

@46 - good point on Rodrik acting as liege lord. He asked, they came.

@39, @45 - LOL!
Eli Bishop
53. EliBishop
A grotesque detail that I missed on the first reading: Marillion's mutilations are dressed with silk bandages. Even more so than in the rest of Westeros, the Vale is all about nicey-nicey elegance thinly layered over brutality: we don't execute people with sharp objects, we just let them go out this door! If we've tortured them, we cover it up with nice fabric! Lysa's awful personality may have been partly her own, but she also clearly picked up a lot from the culture she married into, or at least she was well suited to that culture.
Kat W.
54. GarrettC

Well done. Just well done all around there.
Kat W.
55. bookworm1398
"And she is no meaner to Jon than she was taught to be, and her POV recalls several fond memories of Jon."

I agree with most of what you said but not this. She is noticeably meaner to Jon than the other Stark kids who got the same upbringing. This is part of her personality - Sansa is the character who most completly accepts the values of her society including girls should.... and bastards are.... and knights should..... But that's changing.
56. Ryamano

In the previous Aeron chapter, it is said that Balon was unusual in that he wanted his daughter to succeed him. Aeron Damphair thought this went against their religion. Apparently Balon did this against the will of more conservative sectors of their society.
Kat W.
57. KingsGambit
@47, @51
I never called her evil, just annoying. Granted, lots of 11-12-13 year olds are, but the fact that others like her can be annoying, doesn't make her any less so. But, most girls that age tend to behave perfectly alright as long as no parents or siblings are around. Though, packs of them are dangerous, obviously.

She may fall into the normal range of girls her age, but that would be on the outer drawing the blood from under your fingernails edge of that range.

I make no excuses for anyones vitriol but my own. I dislike her in the first three books, but I still felt bad for her when she had to marry Tyrion and was properly scared for her in the LF snowcastle scene.

She isn't helped by Arya being awesome, ofcourse. 47, She is as nasty to Jon as she is taught to be. She was taught the same things Arya was. And Robb and Bran, who are totally fine to him. Everyone else in the series is judged here when they're being sexist, just as they are tought to be. But when a girl is behaving badly by our standards because that's the way she's brought up, that's all right. Who's sexist now?

Tyrion has no more of a choice in the wedding then Sansa has. By then she's about 13 and should be able to distinguish between the man and his family. The fact is that all she sees is the dwarf, not the man or the Lannister. Again, there may be reasons for it, but those aren't excused in other characters.

At the end of the day, everyone will like or dislike certain people or characters and no arguments will change that. Book 1-2-3 Sansa irritates me and it's unlikely that any argument will make me cringe any less when she shows up the next time I read book 1. I'm just trying to point out that female characters tend to get a little more leeway here.
Theresa Wymer
58. Tekalynn
Sansa makes a point of the gradations of class and rank that make Jon her "half-brother", but I don't recall her ever being overtly mean or condescending to him in his presence or saying unkind things about him. They don't socialize a lot, in part because they have very different interests and training.
Maiane Bakroeva
59. Isilel
When was Sansa mean to Jon? She called him "half-brother", but then, Robb routinely called him "Snow". Not sure why one is worse than the other.
Jon never had any negative memories of Sansa and had had some positive ones.
They were never particularly close, because Sansa was very into her role as a female noble and the boys spent a lot of time training, riding, being taken to hunts, etc. Jon even recalled that occasionally they all slept in the same room. While Arya, well, she she is a tomboy and there was a particular affinity between her and Jon.
So, yea, Sansa was mean to Arya (and vice versa, which people often forget), but not to Jon.

KingsGambit @57:

Of course Tyrion had a choice in the books. Tywin successfully manipulated and tempted him with the idea of a power base of his own.

And what Sansa saw in Tyrion was a Lannister. She has been burned by them and couldn't risk it again.
And yea, Tyrion is particularly hideous-looking, ugly and noseless. And if it is shallow for a not-yet 13-year-old girl to not want to have sex with him, then what about Tyrion and his own preference for hot, nubile girls and nasty quips about not-so-good-looking women? He is far shallower than Sansa in that respect.

Re: Asha, she would have been acceptable to the Ironborn as a ruling lady of a noble House, hence Roderik's offer to make her his heir. They have trouble with the concept of a ruling _queen_ though.
In which they are probably not unique, given how, for instance, when Bran described the crypts in Winterfell and the tombs of the Stark Kings, he never mentioned a single Queen of Winter.
Sasha P
60. AeronaGreenjoy
The "little finger" line Leigh quoted is quite a multiple entendre, and Sansa probably doesn't even know it. *snicker*
Kat W.
61. Crusader75
@56 Thanks, but I was wondering if there was any indication that Asha's position was an innovation to Ironborn culture prior to AFFC.
Kat W.
62. William Kosh
Put simply, I couldn't agree more.

"Don’t get me wrong, Asha is a highly problematic poster child for the cause of Putting Women in Charge of Things, because she is not anything like an ideal ruler in my opinion, but that’s the entire point: she shouldn’t have to be the poster child for Putting Women in Charge of Things. This is the core issue: Asha should be judged on her own merits (or lack thereof) and found wanting on rational grounds, instead of being dismissed out of hand merely because she has a vagina. The entire problem with sexism (and racism, and all the other *isms) is that it means constantly being forced to be representative of an entire group of people, instead of having the privilege of being evaluated as an individual."
Kat W.
63. Maddy1990
I really like this Sansa chapter - I think it's frankly pretty impressive that she's not an insane depressed person at this point, and isn't falling for Littlefinger's pseudo 'I have your best interests at heart' bullshit and still internally holding on to her identity as a Stark. While her experiences have absolutely been shitty and I wish she hadn't had to go through them, I think she's managing to hold on to her moral integrity while learning some valuable political lessons and survival skills. I agree it's a fine line though. I think Sansa is Petyr's blind spot - he seems to reveal more than he should around her because he doesn't see her as a real person with her own interests, he sees her as a Catelyn replacement. Which is super icky and gross obviously, but I'm hoping she can use this to her advantage.

I'm no massive Asha fan or anything, but I think you have to view her within the context of the Ironborn culture. Out of all the Greyjoys, she is the most likeable one for me (admittedly a low bar, but still). I kind of like that she is one of the few women in this world who gets to exercise her own sexual agency, despite having to deal with lots of sexist crap. And her totally blowing off that guy was hilarious. I love Rodrik, but then I'm always going to like characters that are into reading because READING IS AWESOME

Keep on with the feminist commentary because EXACTLY. GRRM himself identifies as a feminist, and I think it's absolutely a relevant thing to talk about with these books.
Kat W.
64. Maddy1990
This is not going to change anyone's mind, because this debate has been going on about Sansa for ever but here it goes:

Sansa did tell the truth to Ned about what happened with Joffrey, but understandably when called in front of the King and Queen of Westeros, she panicked and went down the middle. She is betrothed to Joffrey - that is her future family and she is obligated to both the Starks and the Lannisters. It is not her fault that Micah and Lady died - it's Joffrey and Cersei's fault. I love Arya, but she is not in the same position as Sansa because her loyalties are not nearly as divided. Obviously her standing up to Joffrey and defending her friend was admirable, but acting that way to a crown prince is also incredibly reckless and arguably caused more antagonism. I think Cersei even says to Sansa at some point that Joffrey never forgot that Sansa witnessed Arya shame him, and that's part of the reason why he's so awful to her. This is not to blame Arya obviously, but I think looking at the whole context of that situation is important.

Sansa has no reason to trust Tyrion or be nice to him. We know that Tyrion doesn't want to hurt her, but she can't see into his head and doesn't know that. She has learnt from Cersei and Joffrey that just because people speak kindly to you doesn't mean that they have good intentions towards you. He is a member of the family that is directly responsible for her family being decimated, and she has absolutely no power or agency in that relationship. She isn't nasty - she feels bad for not kneeling at the wedding, and does feel pity for him. She is under no obligation to make Tyrion feel better or have sex with him just because he's nice to her. She's 12 year old and has just been (in her mind) condemned to become a member of the family she despises and be forever alienated from her own family.

I get not being interested or engaged with her character, everyone has their own preferences. But hating her is completely unjustified. Both Arya and Sansa are awesome and both are 'strong' characters, just in different ways.

ARRGHHH I'm going to stop now because I could rage about this forever. I think I might be way too attached to fictional characters.
Captain Hammer
65. Randalator
@3 RobM²

re: Marillion's confession

I've always wondered what LF promised Marillon to get him to shut up in this context. He's not benefitting personnally at this point.

He's not? He was promised to have his life (and voice) spared.

Don't underestimate what your attachment to your limbs and organs can do once several of them have become unattached.

Marillion is no political prisoner, he has no power, no friends or allies, no value as a hostage. No one would believe his accusations if he made them. So if your best case scenario is more physical torture and mutilation until you're deaf, dumb, blind and limb-less, a sky cell plus no further physical harm in return for a confession suddenly seems like a huge personal benefit.

@59 Isilel

re: Sansa and Tyrion

And yea, Tyrion is particularly hideous-looking, ugly and noseless. And if it is shallow for a not-yet 13-year-old girl to not want to have sex with him, then what about Tyrion and his own preference for hot, nubile girls and nasty quips about not-so-good-looking women?

At least for me, the complaint about Sansa's behaviour towards Tyrion is very much NOT about the not-sex-having or lack of attraction. It is about publicly humiliating him during the wedding ceremony, which he had made perfectly clear to her beforehand he was probably just as thrilled about as her.

Even she herself notes that it was a shit move on her side right after.
Agnaldo S.
66. Greenseer
@58 @59 Sansa initially was a spoiled girl who grew up listening and accredited in songs they were outside of reality. And also learned to be prejudiced in certain aspects. A lot of this comes from Own Catelyn. In AGoT, we see how she has a childish and unrealistic view of the world and your bigoted tone about Jon and friends Arya along the trip to King's Landing. As the songs, she thought Joffrey was a gallant prince. He was doing that role, when wanted.
Ned knew the truth about what happened before Arya told his version to the king. She remained impartial when was the presence of Robert, but in the end paid for it, having been the very wolf dead.
Knowing or not about the plans of his father, Sansa had no right to disobey her father. She knew or had suspicions about how Cersei was cruel, but she was having with her anyway. It would be easier to hate her less (and possibly forgive her) if she had the self-awareness that his act of betrayal led the fall of his father and the slaughter of her family's servants.
@40 not bending for Tyrion at the wedding was a small reminder of just how nasty she is. She should have recognised by then that Tyrion was consistantly being kind to her.
About that, disagree. I agree with Sansa about her feeling against Tyrion. Nobody cared about what she thought. Why kneel not to hurt the ego of Tyrion? // Of course in GoT I felt sorry for Tyrion// He had promised, as he sat on the throne of iron, returning Sansa (and Arya) in exchange for Jaime. Words are wind, as we have learned. Tyrion raised no objection to the marriage and also did not mention a promise to Tywin (he knew Jaime was freed by Catelyn).

Sansa has 13 or 14? Not even Petyr LF began to be Machiavellian as early. Soon she will be as manipulative as his master. I hope she remember that it is a Stark.

Lord Balon knew that Theon was going to the Iron Islands, so much that he sent his own brother to go search it. Balon despised Theon. To my knowledge, Balon was meeting his vassals before you even get Theon. I think Balon attack north anyway. The arrival of Theon only helped in their plans or he did not care if the child would live or not.
The plan becomes independent of the Iron Throne and the invasion of the North was stupid. I have no problem being independent of a nation as large as the Seven Kingdoms, but the plan to attack the North was just a way of revenge against Stark (against Ned). If Balon had made alliances with Robb, he would maritime and land force to face the Iron Throne. Robb was not Ned, but Balon is Balon. When the war was over in Westeros, Balon would lose how in the first rebellion.
However, you cannot expect anything less from a leader of a nation that cares more about looting, rape, slavery and contempt for honest labor. Stupid culture.
Kat W.
67. Maddy1990
Sansa not kneeling wasn't about humiliating Tyrion, it was her only way of being able to demonstrate her lack of consent to a marriage that had literally just been sprung on her by Cersei. Tyrion might feel bad about it, and he might have halfheartedly offered her a 'choice' to marry Lancel but he's the one who has all the power in this relationship.

"Why should I spare his feelings when no one cares about mine?"

"Suddenly she was ashamed of her stubborness. She smoothed her skirts and knelt in front of him, so their heads were on the same level"

Don't get me wrong, I feel bad for Tyrion, but I think it's pretty reasonable to cut Sansa some slack in this situation. Just because Sansa isn't 'nice' to a character that you like doesn't make her a bad person. I like both Sansa and Tyrion, but the situation they're in makes it impossible for them to be allies, and I feel horribly for both of them. It sucks that Tyrion has so much self loathing, but it's not Sansa's job to 'fix' him - she has her own shit going on, and she is SMART not to confide in him or trust him, even if she does recognise that he is not as bad as the other Lannisters.
Chris Nelly
68. Aeryl
She was taught the same things Arya was. And Robb and Bran, who are totally fine to him.

But Arya learned, by not being a typical noble born girl, that those lessons didn't apply to her. Also don't forget, all the other Stark kids take after Catelyn in looks. Jon is the only one who looks like Arya, and this bothered her so much she even asked if SHE was a bastard.

And Bran and Robb did not learn the same things. Sansa and Arya's education was given to Septa Mordane, who filled both their heads with nonsense. Bran, Robb and most importantly, Jon, were taught by Ned and Maester Luwin, who treated Jon no differently than the rest, so they learnt to treat Jon no differently.
Kat W.
69. Gregor Lewis
Sansa, Sansa, Sansa ... Sansa you say?
Sansa ... ball of hot gasses ...
... Eh? What? Not what we were talking about?

OK. On topic then. I used to hate Sansa with a deep primordial ooze flowing from a heart as dark as 'doesn't' matter. When I divorce myself from the emotions generated in me, upon reading the passage in GOT that caused that hate, I agree with all the reasonable people above.

Sansa's young, naïve, inexperienced, blinkered, 'besotted' - by chivalric ideals as much as by Joffrey.

I get all that.

And truth be told, I stopped hatin' on Sansa the moment my visceral, instinctive reaction to what she did - & more importantly, how she went about it, dissipated.

Don'r care about the 'i no remember' flea flicker she pulled on Arya, and tragically Micah. Like many people have said, age appropriate and apropos of puppy love.

Spare me these claims of nastiness in not kneeling for Tyrion at their wedding. Sure, each of them was in a horrid, forced situation, and ideally her kneeling to help the 'suffering' dwarf would have been 'joyous fulfilment' for readers who recognise what a good bloke Tyrion is. Or, are at least rooting for him.

"Yay! They recognise a kindred suffering spirit in eachother!" We say

I ask you this. Why would a mature woman of probity and means accept such a scenario? Yet we still expect a callow pre-teen, who has suffered so much loss and disenfranchisement, to recognise in Tyrion, a source of comfort and solace? From a scion of the very family that masterminded the killing of her own as well as making her life in KL a misery?

But that doesn't change the fact of my initial hate. Here's when & why. Right when events are coming to a head and Ned seems to be doing something concrete & comprehensive regarding Cersei & seizing proper control, it all falls apart.

We all know the mechanics of that, and I agree with others' presentation of the 'Ned as Political Novice Act'. So the likelihood that Ned would have survived LF's machinations down the line, let alone Varys', if he pulled off his coup, was slim.

But then we learn the specific catalyst for Ned's demise and read how & why she went about it ... HATRED! WAVES OF FATHOMLESS VOLUME CRASHING DOWN ... because Sansa tells us she knew what she was doing was wrong, wicked even. And she compares herself to who IHO epitomises such feelings, Arya.

You can call Sansa dumb, thick as an elephant's bum, slow as a snail with a limp. But here, she was sharp, calculating, purposeful and self-aware ... And worse, she felt insulated by the spoilt noble child's false sense of security.

She knew she was betraying her father's trust & she hated her father for making her leave KL, but otherwise he was 'good'. And it's the wicked self-awareness combined with such self satisfied naïvete which incited my hate.

And breathe... Sorry that long wind bested me again.

Chris Nelly
70. Aeryl
@69, I don't disagree that Sansa is responsible for what happened to Ned, but I don't feel the fault lies with her, as she was never told what was truly going on. I have a child Sansa's age at that time, and I don't keep things from her now, much less things as important as what Ned concealed from her(her perfect prince was the result of illegitimate incest, and knowing that put their lives in danger). However, if she had known that and Ned was still killed, she'd likely be dead too.

Also, while I feel Sansa has some culpability, I also feel she's been punished enough, and cannot hold any anger at her in my heart.
Tom Smith
71. phuzz
As I've said before, I assume that years on westeros are about 400-450 days long, so that while Sansa was 11 Westorosi years old, that would translate into closer to 13 Earth years.
It's clear from the batshit seasons that we're not dealing with an completely earth-like planet, and it neatly covers GRRM's under-aging of all his child characters. (which I belive he's mentioned was a bit out)
Adam S.
72. MDNY
@71 GRRM stated that a year on Westeros is equal to 12 lunar cycles, presumably close to the lunar calenders of Earth, so 360+ days equals a year. The crazy seasons are not due to the various crazy scientific theories I've seen, the seasons are so irregular because of magic- I think GRRM's quote about the seasons was along the lines of "hello, this IS a fantasy novel". So the children's ages in Westeros are presumably almost identical to what their Earth ages would be.
Kat W.
73. Nzinga
I used to think Sansa was responsible for what happened to Ned, then I thought Ned was responsible. Then I realised Petyr takes most of the blame. Even with everything that happened, if Littlefinger had delivered the Gold Cloaks to Ned's custody, Cersei and Joffrey would've been arrested.
George Jong
74. IndependentGeorge
Somebody else made this point about Ned on another post: he had an out. He could have told Robert the truth on his deathbed, and let him summon Barristan and the rest of the small council to carry out the sentence on Cersei, but he chose mercy over justice, and suffered for it.

Even before that, he definitely could (and should) have sent Sansa and Arya back to Winterfell before confronting Cersei. Even in that confrontation, he chose mercy (giving her a chance to protect her children) over both justice and prudence.

Yes, Littlefinger betrayed Ned, but there's the whole scorpion & the frog thing going on there. I mean, he's Littlefinger.
Agnaldo S.
75. Greenseer
@74 In fantasy, a very common trope is that of the main characters who are orphans. That is the point. As far as I know, Stark, Targaryen and Tyrion are the closest to this trope.
However, GRRM was just cruel to show the death of the father and mother of Stark, to understand how things came to what is now in Westeros, of course. (The Tyrion murdered his own father).
Ned made a choice: be merciful with an enemy that was cruel and unforgiving (do not cared what would happen to Joffrey, but the other bastards of Cersei and Jaimes was innocent in their dirts).
Let say that Ned has accepted the swords of Renly. Renly did not really know about the incest between Cersei and Jaime. He considered Joffrey and other bastards legitimate. However, when he finds out that Robert left no heirs and the throne would pass to Stannis, he would see this as an opportunity and would take the Iron Throne for himself.
However, Ned would never have accepted this.
LF goes always be on the winning side. If Ned had accepted the swords of Renly, LF would spend the gold cloaks for Cause of Renly, and the result would be the same: Ned would have to run away from King's Landing to support Stannis or Ned would betrayed for Renly, possibly.
Ned was smart to try to win support from gold cloaks. It would have happened the way he planned? Yes. However, Ned did not anticipate it would betrayed by Sansa and LF would choose the side that would be useful in your future plans. "Betrayed by one, betrayed by a thousand." Thus began the decline of Stark.
Catelyn was strong, but that does not stop her from creating a snowball that grew, became out of control and ran over all of the Starks, she inclusive, Jon also ("he does not have my name, but it has my blood").

Sansa directly or indirectly had a hand in his father's fall. Something that makes Sansa to be hated at certain moments, but not forgiven in others. She still did not do anything for your family that makes it worthy of empathy we have for others Stark.
Anyway, I like the Sansa personage in the later books.
Kat W.
76. Lyanna Mormont
The following is not aimed at any one particular commenter, but rather the cumulative effect. Like Leigh mentioned in a recent post, it's the constant little things, not the one big event, that gets to you.

I've noticed a rather frustrating trend in the comments over the past few weeks. Increasingly, when women - Leigh and female commenters - discuss the situation of women in Westeros, some male commenters will jump in to tell them they're doing it wrong, and/or try to shift the discussion to being about men. It's a bit like "Yes, fine, women in Westeros are oppressed, I'm sure that's awful for them, but now let's talk about the really interesting part, which is how this oppression of women affects men!"

This has two unpleasant effects. One, it carries the implication that a discussion of women cannot be truly interesting, or is only interesting to a small unimportant subgroup (women, or more specifically feminists), while a discussion about men is of course interesting to everyone. Two, there's the mansplaining: "You may be women talking about women, but you're getting it all wrong, and I the man am here to explain things to you. Because clearly I understand things better than you."

And the worst thing is that, generally, the people who do this don't do it to be malicious or even patronizing. They're genuinely trying to "help," to contribute. It doesn't really register with them that they're implying someone else's experiences or thoughts are worth less than theirs, merely by the fact of this other person being female. But imagine the reverse. Imagine, say, a discussion about how much you liked the brotherhood between Robb and Jon, and every time it came up someone else would pop in to say that you couldn't possibly truly appreciate this unless you talked about Sansa, or Arya, or Catelyn. And if you objected and said that's not what you were talking about, they told you not to be one-sided or narrowminded, or to stop ranting.

(Seriously, people, it's not sexist to have a conversation about women that does not include discussing men. There are so many conversations about men that don't include discussing women.)
Kat W.
77. Lyanna Mormont
Addendum: I am of course not trying to say men should not participate in discussions about the situation of women, or that they don't have things to contribute. I am saying please, please, don't try to change the subject to being about men instead, and please stay clear of the "You're doing it wrong!" type of statements.
Steven Halter
78. stevenhalter
Lyanna Mormont@76,@77:Good entries, well stated.
Kat W.
79. Dragonriding Moogle
I find the Sansa discussion/debate really interesting, because she's absolutely a flawed character. She starts off spoiled, selfish, and not that bright; a lot of which is explained by her upbringing. But...every other character has flaws that are just as present, even the beloved Arya, Jon and Tyrion.

I think a lot of it is what we expect as readers. We expect 'sympathetic' flaws, like "too stubborn" or "brave to the point of self sacrifice" or "violent (but violence only ever shown to be against bad people."

But Sansa is a very realistically drawn portrait of a sheltered 11 year old who *isn't* super badass for her age and *doesn't* have automatic heroic qualities being the protagonist. I think sometimes people then judge her against other fictional children (even her own sister) rather than against how someone in her age and situation might really be.

Hating someone forever because of something shitty they did as a child--well, I'm pretty sure most adults have done something as kids that if it was put in a book, would make readers hate us! Authors just usually don't choose to show protagonists doing those things.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
80. AlirozTheConfused
I have many problems with this series, many things that tick me off. Many irks and ARGHs and wearies, things that make me sigh and scoff.

but the worst of all the failings, worse than melting gold that way
is the image of the sailing, sailing sailing Nordic Way.

As a swede, my goat is gotten, has this rotten man forgotten
with a mind much made of cotton, the truth of the Viking Day?

We had culture, we had feeling, we weren't vultures unappealing
we were poets while we're stealing, stealing from a british bay.

By what measure, for what pleasure, does this Martin trash our treasure, Sagas, runes, and all our leisure, everything we had to say?

You'd not dare condone such slander, no, indeed, you'd gawk and gander, it would get up all your dander, if other folks were shown this way.

SIck of complaining, it's so draining, with stupid non-words like "mansplaining", now's the time I cease my straining; I'm outta here, Caloo, callay!

I won't fake it, I can't take it, sorry guys, you'll have to make it
through the read sans me, starting on this merry day.

Count me out, won't be about, please don't pout or swoon or spout; I'm outta here like a herd of trout, not to post here evermore.

Shall I one again post song, singing views sick and wrong, making life a pain prolonged? Quoth the raven, "nevermore".
Kat W.
81. Gregor Lewis
You're here you're there (Spoiler Thread)
You're everywhere.
You've made this post appear
Identically there & here
Makes one question
What you want to hear.

Is it 'Goodbye' today?
Or, 'Don't Go Please Stay'?
I have no clue, so
As authentically as I can I'll say.

You will be missed.
'Tis a pity yer leavin'
'Specially so angry
With yer head so frothily steamin'

I s'pose if it's what you feel must
Then in a stranger's words,
You'll have no trust.
I can appeal only to your intelligence
Obvious as it is
To help you climb this fence.

On the other side you'll see
The books you love
Roam Free.
Re-Read and analysed
With insults and compliments

Because that is life
It has ups & downs
Sometimes we're champions
Sometimes we're clowns.

From my crowded car I wave to thee
I'd clamber out but for my 'big feet'
To someone whose often been
A champion here i'd say
Re-assess the need to go away.

Use your obvious intelligence
To overcome the downs
And Ride on Up.
There's lots more we want to hear
Lots that we'll miss
If your quirky curiosity shop
Shuts Up.

Think Hard.
Think long.
Most importantly of all.
In yourself be strong.
From that place you can face what comes.
Decide your future from a position of strength
Not from a seat so glum.

Kat W.
82. Maddy1990
@76 THANK YOU I agree with everything you just said.

I get really sick of this Arya/ Sansa debate to be honest - why can't people just appreciate them as interesting important characters in their own right without endlessly trying to judge them based on a narrow construct of the definition of a 'strong' female character?

No one does this to male characters - they get to be judged as people rather than representing the whole of their gender. No one endlessly compares Jon and Robb, or Jaime and Tyrion - people just talk about them as characters. Jaime and Tyrion are both considered interesting, nuanced characters without going into this ridiculous debate around who is 'better' or 'stronger'.

This isn't aimed at anyone in particular, it's just a general comment around this whole debate and how we think about female characters
Chris Nelly
83. Aeryl
@76, 77, 79 & 82,

Couldn't agree more.

@80, We don't always agree, but you will be missed.
Pyrrhus Aeacides
84. Pyrrhus
Judging from just the Wikipedia article, the evidence that Silphium was widely used as a contraceptive seems pretty speculative; all the more so the idea more that it was at all effective.

Departing from the evidence, it flunks the common sense test to think that a whole empire of consumers and producers would let an effective crop just disappear.
Matt Spencer
85. Iarvin
I really liked the point that Leigh made about people being judged based on their membership in a group.

It especially interesting to me because the door swings both ways, with people sometimes being judged better than they should be based on their group membership, which has the potential to be highly damaging as well.

For "privileged groups" - aka white males, or whatever the priviledged group is in a given society, this mainly leads to the perpetuation of priveledge, which from an evolutionary/competitive standpoint makes some limited sense. It also leads to missed opportunities though, as even if there is no explicit negative bias against another group, better qualified members of other groups end up being ignored.

For non-privileged groups though this can lead to members of groups being championed by advocates of the group even if their qualifications are abysmal. This can lead to the perpetuation of stereotypes, and thus to the perpetuation of non-privilege, as well as possibly being detrimental to society as a whole. Leigh is walking the line between falling into either trap in her commentary here, which makes for challenging reading that is still enjoyable.I think the previous poster that stated that "Leigh ironically seems to be supporting solely for her gender", is conflating support with interest. Of course Leigh is interested in the female contender for a throne!

Predjudices are such sticky topics! It seems like an ideal society would be blind to differences between groups - but the difficulty with that is that values and perceptions can be very different between different groups even when group membership is hidden, so "color blind" tends to end up meaning "everyone has to blend in with the values and perceptions of the privileged". Is that why diversity is so emphasized these days, rather than "blindness"?
Kat W.
86. Sean C.

The whole idea of Sansa being "nasty" to Tyrion by not kneeling for him is utter garbage. Firstly, because she wasn't even thinking about him, really. But even if she had, she would have been completely justified.

There's a really strong desire on the part of much of the fandom to believe that Tyrion and Sansa are on the same side, or that his being comparatively decent to her in her captivity matter in the big picture. They don't. Tyrion is the Lannister minister of finance, dedicating his daily efforts to the destruction of House Stark (does he bear the Starks particular enmity? No. But that also doesn't matter). And he is, at the moment when Sansa refuses to kneel, planning to rape Sansa at the end of the evening, and she knows it. And yet it's "nasty" of her not to kneel?
Kat W.
87. Shunt
We didnt come here for a fight - please tone it down a bit.

Men and Women are different. Not by much - but its those differences that matter and delight :)
Lauren Hartman
88. naupathia
I thought the chapter naming was as follows: He uses a epithet when it's the first POV from that character. So it's kind of like a surprise and keeps you guessing, since you don't know who the POV is until you read a little into the chapter. It also gives you a little insight into their character as well. Later chapters he simply uses their name since they've been introduced.

It made sense to me and I was never bothered by it.
Kat W.
89. Gregor Lewis
I see it somewhat differently. By the time he started doing this (the fancy chapter naming) the story had grown so much, we tended to see new characters through the prism of where they fit into the story at that time, rather than the other way around.
It also served to obfuscate, however briefly, some established characters whose situation had changed dramatically since last we visited with them, so they too are forced to see things differently now.
A bit cheesy for mine and unnecessary, but ... Meh ... hardly worth getting worked up over.

Kat W.
90. namle84
It is simply not true that he only uses an epithet only the first time a new character appears. There are plenty of examples in affc and adwd where a single character appears multiple times with an epithet heading their chapter instead of a name -- and it's alway a different epithet each time!

I think he uses these epithets it two kinds of situations.
1. In the Dorne and Iron Islands plotlines. These are unique in the series, because they are carried by multiple characters, each with very few point of view chapters.
2. In certain other situations (no spoilers) where identity is being played with.
Mike DMonte
91. MickeyDee
@6. Dilecta re:Silphium. We don't even know what plant it was so we don't really know whether it went extinct or is still extant. Also we don't know that it was an abortifacient either - all we know is one mention that it promoted menstrual flow.

Anyway if we had had an effective contraceptive or abortifacient in ancient times, and if it were widely available that would have indeed changed the lives and social and cultural standings of women for the better.
Kat W.
92. Black Dread
Did we ever get into the double meaning of Hoster Tully repeating "Tansy" on his deathbed or was it too spoilery at the time?

Tansy was a common woman he probably had an affair with, and, an herb that may have been used as an abortion pill on Lysa when Littlefinger got her pregnant back in thier youth.

Got Littlefinger kicked out of the Riverlands, Lysa (now damaged goods) married off to an old man, and killed Hoster's first grandchild. Not sure which he regretted the most. It may have also damaged Lysa's ability to birth healthy children going forward.
Kat W.
93. Mario 22668877
It is said that there WAS a contraceptive/abortive algae back in the Roman Empire times. It was so efficient that humans harvested it to extinction.

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