Mar 26 2014 4:02pm

Read a New Excerpt from The Winds of Winter!

Winds of Winter excerpt Mercy

George R.R. Martin has released a new excerpt from The Winds of Winter! We don’t want to give a single syllable away, so we’re just going to give you this link and invite you to discuss in the comments after you’ve finished! Please assume there will be spoilers! 

Martin has been working so hard on the sixth installment in his epic A Song of Ice and Fire series that he recently decided to hold off on a cameo in Game of Thrones in order to keep writing. He has spoken at length about his plans to wrap up several cliffhangers from the end of A Dance with Dragons, and also released an earlier excerpt, “Arianne,” in January of 2013.

Replacing “Arianne” on Martin's site is a chapter titled “Mercy,” featuring a character who has taken on quite a few monikers as of late... Read it here!

That's one list I wouldn't want to be on . . .
4. Fehler
Holy crap, she's playing Sansa!
Elizabeth Doolin
5. mochabean
that was interesting and satisfying on many levels. Also the "chicken siggil" got a laugh from me. Wonder if the envoy has his own set of minstrels?
6. Nightsky
They'd none of them be missed!
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
Who was the envoy? Trying to recall who would have a rooster sigil and be in Tommen's administration. Hmmm. (Checking on line - House Swyft!! Nice Westcountry house. Hmmn. Keven Lannister's father in law!)

Trying to figure out her overall plan. Stay in place until an appropriate high value target appeared that the FM would want action on ... and she bailed out upon seeing this high value target? Or did she know this particular target was coming? I assume the former.
8. SKM
Great chapter! The real question: How is Phario Forel related to Syrio?
Sara H
9. LadyBelaine
Rob@ 7

I don't think that she actually completed her mission when she did what she did (because she frets about leaving that little demimonde and her new "friends"). I think her target was a target of opportunity, and that she was probably impersonating a mummer (irony!) just to get into the whole groove of acting.

I did titter (which was grossly inappropriate in this dark, dark chapter) at the sidenote that she still can't sew.

Also, loved the callback to Lommy Greenhands. Also, the Richard III homage/parody was inspired since Tyrion is GRRM's Richard III analogue anyway.

Appetite? Whetted.

10. Valarya
That was so incredibly satisfying. She is a freaking BEAST and I am continously in awe of what he does with her character.
11. vjj
Arya is bad-ass.

I wonder how things will play out between Arya and Sansa. If Sansa learns from Baelish, Sansa may become more dangerous than Arya.
12. Gregor Lewis
I have to shamefacedly admit to a feeling of visceral disgust at Arya's direct sexualisation (just before she knicks 'the Sweetling').

I have to say it surprised me immediately after the read. I normally come down on the other side of the 'censorship' divide, ie.-the apparent double standards that exist when you compare how violence and sexual behaviour are classified or treated in media.

In ASOIAF itself though, one of my favourite scenes is the Hound & Arya's encounter with Polliver & the Tickler. I felt no disgust whatsoever at what Arya did. In fact I was all 'RIGHT-ON!', when she recited the Tickler's interrogatories back to him with each thrust of Needle.

And for the most part of reading her turn as Mercy, I went along matter-of-factly with what was presented matter-of-factly, in bringing us the Mummers' Troupe. That was until she made the decision not to miss her unexpected opportunity at 'the Sweetling'.

On cold reflection afterwards I can accept it, even admire her ruthless pragmatism leading up to, during and after the deed is done. But even on a second read, the instinctive disgust reflex is still there at how Arya chooses to follow through on her opportunity.

It's a cold splash of water, making me reassess the disdainful contempt I instinctively feel towards the censorship double-standards rampant in contemporary media.

An eye-opening experience and it leaves me wondering at the plausibility of my thought, that this was perhaps a scene GRRM co-opted wholesale, from the time he was still trying to make the five year gap work (given how he describes the provenance of the excerpt in his 'Not a Blog').

Either way, there's no doubt the scene works ... on so many levels, not least whetting a reader's appetite for ... what comes next and what came before.

Chris Nelly
14. Aeryl
Yeah, I did have a lot of questions, like who's the chicken "siggle" and how is Phario related to Syrio.

And I do wonder if Arya knows she is playing Sansa. I do like how she's still struggling to maintain her identity.

@Gregor Lewis, I do agree that this was scene originally written for Arya after the time jump, but I'm not bothered by Arya learning how to use the lure of sex in her favor, other children Arya's age in these books are going through much worse.
tayyab saeed
15. skyhawkafm
this is awesome and so so so frustrating
cant wait to have the book in hand though i know there is a long long wait ahead

Arya still makes your heart flutter with anticipation , to use Leigh Butlers term she is the one with most Crowning moments of Awsome in this story

would love to see how the rest of list gets ticked off one by one
16. Ryamano
Lommy Greenhands is AVENGED! I remember how shocked I was by that scene in ACOK. Killing a child like that, just because.

Reading this was so, so satisfying. And also lot of shockers. GRRM made me shocked at the sexualization of Arya at the beginning. For a time I really thought she was going to be raped.

The apettite has been whetted.
Deana Whitney
18. Braid_Tug
@16: I figured the whole rape thing was a set up. But I thought her target was a man who intended to rape her, not a part in a play.
But in the end, she did kill a guy who meant to rape her, so it wall worked out. :-)

Is it just a futile hope, that he's releasing chapters as a teaser to announcing WoW will be out by the end of the year?

And really, really hope we get more Arya in the book.
19. Ryamano
And only later did I realize that the part she's acting in the play is her own sister, Sansa, being raped by Tyrion. And she doens't even acknowledge it in her POV. I'm awed and freaked out by that. Raff the sweetling gets a response from Arya, but playing Sansa being raped doesn't.
Chris Nelly
20. Aeryl
@19, How much news from Westeros did she know before she left? I don't recall if Sandor told her Sansa was married.

And if she did know, she's playing her game very carefully here. She cannot allow too much of her true personality through, or else the Faceless Men will know she's not being honest. So I can see where she wouldn't allow herself to dwell on playing Sansa, but not pass on the opportunity to cross a name off her list.

Also, I'm not entirely sure it's Sansa. The story ranges from Robert's reign, as that's who the head mummer is playing, into Joffrey's, and there's a character referred to as Mrs. Stork, obviously a play on Stark, and is then likely referencing Catelyn. So the dwarf playing Tyrion may be raping someone else.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
21. Lisamarie
@18, I had a similar idea - that she was going to pose as a girl that somebody she was assigned to kill would try to rape, but that once her job was done, that character was eseentially dead.

I also felt vaguely uncomfortable at the casual rapeyness of all of it, but that's viewing through my own cultural lens, I suppose.

I was also unable to identify the 'chicken'. I thought maybe the fat wife was supposed to be a clue, but the only people I could think of with fat wives were Roose Bolton (not him, obviously) and Bronn (and if I recall his sigil is something like a burning chain).

I wonder if she realizes she is playing Sansa? Perhaps the characters aren't actually named after the characters, and does she know Sansa is married to Tyrion?
Maiane Bakroeva
22. Isilel
Great stuff! "Lady Stork" is a stage name of one of the actresses and she was playing the role of "the queen", i.e. Cersei. Arya may have actually been playing Shae though, because using appelation "m'lord" normally denotes a commoner, IIRC. And Shae did testify that she was raped by Tyrion during his trial and was, of course, subsequently murdered by him.

Re: sexualization, well, Arya is 12 by now and she is playing a pretty, empty- headed girl, so yea, unavoidable in that setting.
Interestingly enough, that older guard, one of the proper Lannimster guards, rather than one of the former Mountain's men seemed not completely devoid of morals.
But - why didn't he remind Raff that Tyrion has parti-colored eyes and lacks most of his nose? Seems like Arya saved that dwarf actor as a bonus.
Also funny that Tyrion really _did_ have to perform as a mummer, though not willingly. And his memorable disfigurements wouldn't have allowed him to "hide in plain sight" as an actor anyway. Leave alone his pride.
Kelly LeBourveau
23. Kikuo
I didn't read the other comments ... do his excerpts replace each other on the site? I can't seem to access any of the excerpts from your earlier posts (going back as far as the first one in 2011 about WoW). I just only searched for the tag The Winds of Winter on the Tor site, then tried to click through all of your posts to read the excerpts, but I keep getting redirected to the same page over and over:

And that link doesn't even work. I'm confused?
Chris Nelly
24. Aeryl
Yes, once he posts a new one, the old one goes away
25. Johnnyboy
Arghhhh! Never wanted to read a book so desperately. From this preview chapter it seems like this might be the book where a few people get their just deserts.
26. Lucho
I am sad that what SEEMS to be Arya first french kiss was with a person from her murder list.
Adam Whitehead
27. Werthead
GRRM elaborates on his blog that this was Arya's first post-five-year-gap chapter, so the fact that she was originally supposed to be 16 or 17 in the chapter makes it (somewhat) more palatable. He also points out that the chapter isn't final: it may be changed further before release.

More encouragingly, he mentions that TWoW has not required the extensive rewrites that AFFC and ADWD did, where writing them was often a case of two steps forward, one step back. So when he gets to write the book, more solid progress is made. He's rather reluctant to suggest this might mean the book is done relatively quickly, though.
Rob Munnelly
28. RobMRobM
I'm still betting on completion of writing by late 2014, publication in summer 2015.
Chris Nelly
29. Aeryl
I bet it's done, but we still won't get it til summer 2015. But we'll get Dreams of Summer in Spring 2016, because he's finishing it before he releases WOW
Adam Whitehead
30. Werthead
Based on the comments by his publishers, I'm suspecting late 2015, as in more towards October/November time, is the earliest realistic release date. Early 2016 may be more practical, all things considered.

I agree that GRRM will likely prioritise ADoS over anything else and won't make the same mistakes he's made in the past, but I am sceptical it will get done much more quickly than 3 years after TWoW. And the chances of it being too big to fit into one volume I think will be quite high. But we will see.
31. Andrada
I am so relieved that she not only remembers people, but also the exact context that put them on her list. She is not going on blind revenge here, she is serving them justice according to their crimes.

I had to go back to ACOK for the exact quote:

One of the spearmen drifted over to Lommy. “Something wrong with your leg, boy?”“It got hurt.”“Can you walk?” He sounded concerned.“No,” said Lommy. “You got to carry me.”“Think so?” The man lifted his spear casually and drove the point through the boy’s soft throat. Lommy never even had time to yield again. He jerked once, and that was all. When the man pulled his spear loose, blood sprayed out in a dark fountain. “Carry him, he says,” he muttered, chuckling.

Brilliant. Makes me feel better about rooting for a 12-year old killer.
32. Guest 77
@31 Andrada - Thanks for quoting the exchange from ACOK with Lommy. It does help with the context, though I wonder what the FM will think regarding revenge versus justice as well as the killing of someone whose name is known to Arya but not to 'Mercy'. I do find it unsettling that Arya can kill so efficiently, remorselessly at 10 or 11, just as I did with the children who participated in killing Kevan. But, in this case, I do think Lommy would agree the punishment fit the crime.
Adam S.
33. MDNY
I've read all the released chapters as they come out, but this is the first one that made me TRULY anxious to have the freaking book already. SO MUCH GOODNESS. Arya is my second favorite character (after Tyrion, and his story took a downshift in ADWD), and she was at her absolute peak in the Merry chapter.
All y'all can stop speculating on when the book will come out, such speculations are pointless with GRRM. It could be 2015, or he could write 2 more D+E stories, another Dance of Dragons tale, a story about Nymeria, a story about the Doom of Valyria, plus a couple more non-ASOIAF related works before he's done, you never know.
Chris Nelly
34. Aeryl
@32, I age all the kids up a bit anyway. GRRM admits he got it wrong and they are all too young, except for Robb, he gets 15-16 about right with him. Arya's behavior in an average 13-14 yr old would be disturbing, but I also think back to one of my OTHER favorite assassins.

"Do they always start them that young?"

"I did"

That a girl with Arya's experiences has gained this skills will only help her survive and thrive in her world, sad as the unknown damage it will also do to her.
35. Maac
Late night hings that occur to me when I ought to have been asleep long ago:

What if one of the people Arya becomes adept at impersonatining is Dany?
36. Lyanna Mormont
On the subject of what Arya knows about Sansa - she heard about the marriage to Tyrion at the same time the Hound did, in that fight at the Inn. She didn't really believe it, though. It was the whole "killed the king with a spell, turned into a wolf and flew out the window" thing, and Arya thought, Sansa doesn't know any spells and would never marry the Imp. There was nothing in there about Tyrion supposedly raping anyone or killing a girl/woman. (Of course, we don't know what she may have heard since coming to Braavos.)
37. Sork
Will this put an end to Arya's "carreer"? She did disobey the one rule...

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