Apr 17 2014 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 11

George R R Martin Song of Ice and Fire A Feast for CrowsWelcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 11 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 15 (“Samwell”).

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!

A note before we begin: I have been informed by TPTB that apparently there is some kind of discussion/controversy going on in the spoiler thread about the existence of a foreword in AFFC concerning plot structure that I should have read. Which I find puzzling, because neither the print edition nor the ebook version of AFFC I have in my possession has any kind of foreword; if there had been one I would have read it. So I have to conclude that if there was any kind of foreword in the original edition of AFFC, it has since been either moved or deleted from later editions, and I tend to think that that was probably for a reason.

In any case, since I am coming at ASOIAF as a first time reader, I feel that it behooves me to take the books as they come as I have them. In other words, if I were just reading this like a normal person, having bought the version(s) I own now, I would have no clue that there was a foreword I might possibly have been supposed to read, and I feel like I should continue on that way. It will hardly be the first time, after all, that things about this series have only become clear in retrospect.

So hopefully that helps settle the question: I don’t have a foreword, therefore I don’t have a foreword, and whatever it is that I’m supposed to know that I don’t know now, I will know later. You know?


Also, sorry that this is a little short, but I am still recovering from JordanCon (and yes, I am actually sick, not just hungover, shaddup), and I just cannot brain anymore for a bit. But some is better than none, eh? Eh!


Chapter 15: Samwell

What Happens
Sam battles seasickness as Blackbird sets sail from Eastwatch, and thinks of how everyone is going to a happy ending but him: Gilly will be a maid in his father’s house, Aemon will retire, and Dareon will take Yoren’s place as a recruiter, far from the Wall, but Sam does not want to be a maester, or get anywhere near his father. Gilly, however, seems as miserable as Sam, and ignores his attempts to cheer her, and the baby is frequently sick.

Sam remembers his last time on a ship, a trip to Lord Redwyne’s hold where everyone had tormented him. He had found out on his return that he was supposed to have stayed there to be fostered, but Lord Paxter had rejected him. Sam fantasizes about seeing his mother and siblings again and maybe impressing them with his deeds with the Night Watch, but doesn’t know if he can handle seeing his father again.

After ten days Blackbird strikes east for the island of Skagos, whose inhabitants were rumored to be ruthless cannibals. Dareon makes a mocking comment about Gilly, saying he’d thought wildling women were supposed to be brave, and Sam insists she is, just that she is frightened of the sea. It begins to rain, and Aemon stays on deck until Sam finally carries him below. He and Gilly are trying to warm the old man when the whole ship heaves, and the storm doesn’t let up for days.

They skirt precariously around Skagos and the weather clears for a while, but then turns worse than before, and Sam, Gilly, Dareon and Aemon can do nothing but endure it. Sam overhears the sailors begin muttering that it is because a wildling woman’s on board, and they’ll drown if they don’t get rid of her. Dareon is hardly better, maddened by her constant weeping.

Aemon tells Sam that Gilly’s tears are not fear, but grief for her child. Sam doesn’t understand, until he realizes what Aemon is saying: that Jon had switched Dalla’s baby for Gilly, to keep the wildling prince from Melisandre. Sam is horrified and sickened, and goes up on deck. Dareon joins him, and opines that perhaps the worst of the storm is past. Sam disagrees, and points to lightning in the distance.

“The worst isn’t done. The worst is just beginning, and there are no happy endings.”

“Gods be good,” said Dareon, laughing. “Slayer, you are such a craven.”


Okay, that is—that is—

Because see, I can’t decide if that was the coldest thing ever on Jon’s part until I know whether he actually intends to just hand over to Melisandre Gilly’s kid to be sacrificed in Dalla’s kid’s place, or if he intends to tell Melly about the switch, and be all “OMG, I totally shipped off the wrong baby, that is so my bad, oopsie!”, and thus keep her from sacrificing Gilly’s child, since it would be pointless.

For the sake of my admiration for Jon, I really, really hope it’s the latter.

I guess I also have to hope, if so, that Melisandre takes Jon at his word, and doesn’t sacrifice Gilly’s kid just in case, or something. And also that she (or Stannis, for that matter) doesn’t fuck up Jon’s shit in retaliation. Given what I know of Melly, though, I’m thinking Jon might be in trouble.

But that would still be better, in my opinion, than the alternative of throwing an innocent infant to the wolves—or to the possibly-delusional-but-definitely-infanticidal sorceress, whatever, potato, potahto. Let’s hope Jon agrees with me?

It certainly seems that Sam has assumed the worst, though, which makes me very sad for him but not upset at him, because God knows his life thus far has been one long brutal lesson in Murphy’s Law. Or not Murphy’s Law, that other law. Whichever one says that statistically you will always be right by assuming the worst of people, or something like that.

(And if you’re applying it to ASOIAF the odds of being right go up by like 200%. Cynicism: part of your complete Westeros breakfast!)

So it’s not surprising that Sam would assume the worst of Jon, possibly because I suspect my hoping for the scenario where no babies get burnt alive, Jesus H., is the blithely over-optimistic stance. Joy.

In other news, I really just want Sam to go for Gilly, and her to be all into it, and they comfort each other and have lots of comfort sex and at least have something about this voyage not be completely awful, because you know the minute they get to… er, Oldtown? Yeah, Oldtown sounds right—you know the minute they get there Sam’s father is going to show up and get his douchewad abusive “compassion and indeed actual humanity is for pussies” assholery all over everyone, and I’m going to spend the whole time wishing he was real so I could Taser his ass and dump him naked in the filthiest back alley of the worst neighborhood I can find, and that’s just going to be a lot, so it would be awful nice if we could have some consensual and non-icky interpersonal relationship thingys before that, as like a palate cleanser, you know?

Wow, that was really all one sentence, wasn’t it. I am a piece of work sometimes.

[Aemon:] “Egg wanted me to help him rule, but I knew my place was here. He sent me north aboard the Golden Dragon, and insisted that his friend Ser Duncan see me safe to Eastwatch.”

Ohhhh, so Egg and Aemon were brothers? I thought they were at least a generation apart! At least I think I did? Of course, I think I also thought that Egg and Dunk were two hundred years back from the main storyline, not one, so clearly I’m all confused in general. Though I still say it’s the damn Targaryens’ fault for naming all their kids the same things over and over!

But whatever: Dude, Aemon is really fucking old. Like, to the point of stretching incredulity old, actually. He says in the speech I quoted above that he was thirty-five when he went to the Wall, which apparently is right after Egg becomes king (as he obviously does, given the “help him rule” line, and while that makes me proud it certainly isn’t much of a surprise), and presumably Egg gets to grow up a bit before that happens, so… eh, yeah, it’s within the realm of plausibility, I guess. Barely.

And last but not least: wow, I really hope that aside about the cannibals of Skagos was just some idle worldbuilding and not a Chekhov’s Gun.

Because, Cannibals = No. Crazy, I know, but that’s my stance and I’m sticking to it!

And that’s the thing that ends the thing! Or something! Happy Easter for all y’all Jesus and/or chocolate fans, and happy random week for everyone else, and I’ll see you next Thursday!

1. Xenoborg
The mentioned forward is at the start of book 5, A Dance with Dragons, and also present as an afterword in book 4, Feast for Crows. Its not that important either way though.
2. litg
Well, based on last chapter Sam's dad is on the other side of the continent, so hopefully that's too far away for him to show up and harass poor Sam at Oldtown.
Adam S.
Hmmmm....Leigh, you've already commented on Egg being Maester Aemon's brother:
" In other news, ohhh, okay. Aemon is the third son, the one who went to the maesters… and ultimately ended up in Castle Black. Got it, okay. Of course, I am a little astounded by this, since the disclaimer at the start of this story states it takes place a century before the events in the series proper, which means that Aemon is well over a hundred years old by the time we meet him in… er, whichever book we met him in."
-Leigh Butler, The Hedge Knight Part 2, Dec 12, 2013

For some reason, Aemon's comment: "Egg? I dreamed that I was old" really got me emotionally. Jon switching the babies makes sense from a certain point of view, because theoretically it should protect them both, but it also shows a side of Jon that we have rarely seen before. The switch in the babes was hinted at, because early on Gilly commented that her babe was quiet and rarely wanted to feed, while Dalla's son was always hungry and always crying. And kudos to Aemon for being the only one to figure it out, even though he's blind.
Sasha P
4. AeronaGreenjoy
No rage against Dareon for calling Sam a craven when you and everyone else have wanted to convince him otherwise?

For me, this was the most depressing chapter since the RW, even more than Oberyn's death. Sam had hope, and now he's deep in despair again and everyone is miserable.

Yeah, Aemon is really old. His little brother Egg became a great-great-grandfather like 20 years before this (when Rhaegar's daughter was born).

I forgot to note last time that Nightsong (home of Brienne's first fiance) is one of my favorite names for a Westeros keep, beautiful and mysterious.
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
Nice one Leigh - now I'll imagine Checkov's smoking cannibals sitting on the mantlepiece. Rumor is there are unicorns there too. They can come on up to the mantlepiece as well.

Good old seasick Sam. Of course he is and of course he'll barf into the wind and get covered with vomit. And Gilly is crying all the time, as is the baby. And Dareon is a total jerk - the comparison of him to his awesome predecessor, Yoren, is startling. It's a sad statement that the best part of the chapter is Aemon beginning to lose his mind and ramble on about his childhood. Good times.

And Gilly is crying all the time
Rob Munnelly
6. RobMRobM
As to timing, D and E books are set 90 years before the current (give or take) so Aemon is a bit over 100.
7. Ragnarredbeard
"And kudos to Aemon for being the only one to figure it out, even though he's blind."

I suspect Aemon knew from the beginning. From what I can tell in the books, Jon respected Aemon's wisdom and knowledge and probably ran the plan by Aemon.
David Scotton
8. Kaxon
Would Jon Snow sacrifice Gilly's baby just to save Mance's? The point of the switcheroo has to be preventing any babies from being sacrificed. I think Sam's horror and Gilly's crying are about Gilly being separated from her son more or less permanently, nothing more.

Re: Dunk and Egg, there was a part in the Sworn Sword where he mentions visiting Egg's brother at the Citadel - that was Aemon.
Chris Nelly
9. Aeryl
I don't think Sam's reaction is because he's afraid Jon's going to give Gilly's son by Craster to Mel. It's more that he's just mad that Jon put Gilly through this pain.
10. KatherineW
It's good that you did just one chapter today, because from here on out the pairs of chapters that you're doing will often be related to each other (especially chapters 18-19).

I'm pretty sure Jon switched the babies in order to ensure both would survive; since he (unlike Stannis et al) understands that the wildlings don't have hereditary royalty as such, there's no reason for him to protect Dalla's child at the expense of Gilly's. But since Mellisandre has no reason to sacrifice Gilly's baby (even Sam observes in his thoughts that he's "no good for a sacrifice"), sending Dalla's away in his place protects both children.

It's still cold, but it's a smart idea.
Steven Halter
11. stevenhalter
Chapter 15 - Samwell:Ah, Sam was heading out on a ship for the Citadel via Braavos (where Arya is btw) when last we saw him and now he is sick. And, another example of Randyll being an ass--"teaching" Sam to swim by throwing him in. Not a good plan.
Going below deck if you are feeling seasick is also not a good plan as Sam finds out.
I don't think that Gilly really wants to leave Sam and be a serving girl. That could be the cause of her moroseness here.
This is a fun bit:
Egg wanted me to help him rule, but I knew my place was here. He sent me north aboard the Golden Dragon, and insisted that his friend Ser Duncan see me safe to Eastwatch.
Skagos sounds interesting:
They lived in caves and grim mountain fastnesses, Sam had read, and rode great shaggy unicorns to war.
War unicorns, ho! I am guessing that we will see these war unicorns at some point. I would also guess they are more like rhino's then frilly pink unicorns.
Ah, so they switched the babies and that is a large part of Gilly's sadness. Hopefully, if true, Jon won't just hand over Gilly's son to be burned. I would think he would announce the change so that no burnings ensue. Otherwise, Jon would be rated down major points--so I'll bet on no burning at this point.
Tabby Alleman
12. Tabbyfl55
@7: In fact, it might even have been Aemon's idea in the first place.
13. ChillinLikeSerIlyn
@3 It was also probably easier for Aemon to figure it out because he is being sent away for essentially the same reason.
Deana Whitney
14. Braid_Tug
@3, in Leigh's defense she "totally didn't have anything to drink" during JordanCon.
:-) See her second post about it.

So memory a little fuzzy. And second light bulb moment never hurt anyone.
15. littlebit_liz
“OMG, I totally shipped off the wrong baby, that is so my bad, oopsie!”

Hahaha, now I keep hearing Jon actually saying just that, word for word, and it is hilarious XD
16. maxterdexter
Most likely the talk went:

"Maester Aemon, I'm sending you away, as you have king's blood"
"Snow, are you aware that Mance's baby also has king blood?"
"Damn, I'll send it away as well"

It would be terrible if no one knew about the switch, and the baby king got to Mellisandre's hands before someone that knew talked.
Tabby Alleman
17. Tabbyfl55
I'm more concerned that when Mel decides to sacrifice Mance's baby, and Jon says "ha ha! you can't because I switched them!", Mel will say "Suuuuuuure you did. Let's just find out, shall we?"

I mean, all babies look alike. What are they gonna do, DNA test him?
18. olethros
As someone who's spent a significant amount of time in hospital nurseries and around very young babies, I promise they don't all look alike. And at the presumed ages of these two kids, definitely not.
Tabby Alleman
19. Tabbyfl55
My point exactly. How much time has Melisandre spent in hospital nurseries, and around non shadow assassin babies? Tell me that, hmmm?
Jason Langlois
20. JasonLanglois
One thing I really admire about GRRM is his ability to world-build without it seeming like he's info-dumping. This chapter being a good example. I never felt like I was getting a "Well, as you already know Sam, ... " pile of exposition.

Always like that about these books.
21. Bill D5
I mean, "I feel that it behooves me to take the books as they come as I have them." strongly indicates in my mind, that what is there should be read, and what is not should not be worried about, right? If things are not in a book, that's for a reason, and if things are in the book, it is for them to be read! That's what the damn family trees are in there for! I think, so Leigh is able to read and appreciate the books fully going forward, she ought to include the appendices in her commentaries. As far as spoiler issues go, there are none. The family trees are up to date as far as the beginning of the novel. As an example, Maester Cressen was included among the list of Stannis' household in the appendix of aCoK, even though he dies in the prologue to that book, and is dead throughout the whole thing. Even though Robb married Jeyne during the events of aCoK, she is not listed among his entourage or families in the SoS appendix. The Glossaries for WoT are more spoilerish than the Appendices for aSoI&F.

Part of the worldview in these books is the family connections and inheritances. While cryptic comments and inside references that the characters make as they can be assumed to share this knowledge are generally explained when they absolutely need to be, if you are not reading the appendices you are left out of lots of worldbuilding and setting information, kind of like not looking at the maps, because the different towns marked on the maps in each book spoil what might be or won't be relevant. You only really get a feel for that kind of stuff when you read the fairly comprehensive lists of the members and followers of each House.

It makes me wonder if Leigh is even aware of stuff like Davos' cellmate in SoS being Sam's grandfather, or the knight, Ser Robar, whom Catelyn convinced of Brienne's innocence when Renly was murdered, and sent out to defend their retreat (and whom Loras regretted murdering to Jaime when he finally saw reason regarding Brienne) was the brother of Ser Waymar, the leader of the group that got whacked in the very first prologue, where the Others showed up (the Starks aren't the only hard-luck family). All that stuff about Randyll showing up to crap on Sam's cornflakes in Oldtown seems much less likely, and we get a better grasp of Sam's genuine lack of courage (all those traits that made him so despised or pitied didn't go away just because he made friends and killed an Other), when we know that the wife of the lord of Oldtown is the sister of Sam's mother.

It's the same thing with the Freys. You get a sense of their influence (as well as the complications inherent in their internal family dynamic) when you look over the list of Walder's wives and their kids, and see how many noble families are related to Walder because he or one of his kids or grandkids married into their Houses. It also calls to mind the fratricidal nature of the wars and intrigue in the Seven Kingdoms, above and beyond the direct stuff, like Renly trying to usurp his brothers' throne, or Lysa writing off her own family out of her own cowardice.

While there is something in Leigh's defense regarding the Aemon / Egg relationship (same names? What other Targaryen is named Aemon? The only other Aemon I recall mentioned is Aemon Blackfyre in Ser Eustace's war stories, and Egg is called Egg more than he is ever referred to as Aegon) because she read the Hedge Knight out of order, if she was reading everything she was supposed to, it might have stuck in her mind. Like the list of Targaryen monarchs in Book 1, and some backstory notes. It's also a little arrogant to comment on issues when you are missing critical information. Imagine commenting on British history when the only king you were aware of was George III. Things like primogeniture not being such an absolute in the past, but codified by the outcome of the Dance of Dragons are important to know when understanding the succession issues. If you didn't read that first and only real mention of the issues of that particular conflict, then you don't have context for Stannis' reference to Rhaenyra Targaryen when he cites a list of traitors who were executed as precedent for his own assertion that such is the fate of traitors. Someone who IS aware, goes into that encounter, where Davos is trying to dissuade his king from visiting the ultimate penalty, on a lord who has bent the knee to Joffrey, with the knowledge that Stannis' view is not the absolute and universal, and that Rhaenyra's treason is mostly an issue of hindsight, but also have a greater grasp of how Stannis' certainty of nature insulates him from the sort of gray-area unspoken understandings that a lot of other people with his knowledge would have.

While ignorant or informed, you come away with the same general understanding of the issues in reading that scene, but by stubbornly & arbitrarily refusing to read portions of the book that are there to expand your knowledge of the setting without the author forcing awkward conversations where characters repeat what everyone present should know (like Jordan did with Gawyn's OoC infodump on Trakand family background when Rand first meets him & Elayne in EotW; sure RJ had ta'veren to cover that, but it was still naratively sloppy). Just like the authors of fantasy books put maps in there, because the readers will not have any way of knowing what is where in a place that only exists in the author's imagination, and because there are very few plausible circumstances for characters to describe the geography of the country, so it is with the family relationships and monarchial timeline, particularly when - as per Tyrion's musings in his encounters with Oberyn the Red Viper, about how parents' actions and rivalries dictate factions and enmities generations later - these details are so intrinsic to the characters' motivations and understanding of their places in the world. It's for all these reasons, I really encourage Leigh to avail herself of the resources in the books. I can't even imagine how she read stuff about Aemon in the last three books without the knowledge that this is Egg's brother and Maekar's son.

Though I suppose I'm in for more headdesking when she reacts with surprise to the next enumeration of Lords Commander of the Kingsguard. (Comment edited by moderator--please keep your comments civil and refrain from personal attacks.)
22. Bill D5
Having just read the comments immediately preceding my own, I have to say Tabbyfl55 has a point. olethros, not everyone shares your professional experience. I speak as the eldest of seven children & 14 grandchildren, and uncle to 11 nieces & nephews (and 1st cousin once removed to 2 more babies), and yeah. They DO all look alike.

That said, I don't think a "test sacrifice" is likely, because it seems a little too easily tested through magic. I mean, just about every significant magical act that anyone does in this series involves fire or blood, which is why it is probably not a coincidence that those are the Targaryen words, so it stands to reason that there is some way of testing that kind of thing. Maybe some sort of contagion principle where a voodoo doll with his son's blood should make Mance react or maybe a drop of blood on a directional indicator pointing the direction of his parents, and it points away from Mance. You know what I mean, genre-savy folks!
Chris Nelly
23. Aeryl
@21, First of all, she has made the connection before, she just forgot it.

She does not reread the books or her notes. This has been understood from the outset. That means she will miss things, and that's OK. If you don't like it, well don't let the door hit ya...

I've read NONE of the Dunk & Egg novels, because trying to accumulate the seperate anthologies is an expense I can't justify to myself, and I don't feel I'm missing out on anything.

Some people came down on me last week, for talking about the way we should react in blanket statements(and I take nothing back, but it's neither here nor there) but this, stating that Leigh has to accumulate and more importantly retain all this disparate information, is kinda ridiculous don't you think?

The entire reason this information is hidden so well is so most of us don't figure it out before Martin is ready to tell us.
Tom Smith
24. phuzz
Hmm, seems I can reply to two replies at once.
While some people can tell babies/Targaryens apart, many of us have some difficulty.
I have trouble recognising kids under six months, even if I know them, and I can't remember every single family tree in Westeros.
Sasha P
25. AeronaGreenjoy
@21: Much of that information is in the appendices, which Leigh apparently does not read. I personally love to read them and obsess over all the connections, but wouldn't otherwise know about a lot of them. As for the Targs, I would've been thoroughly lost without the online geneologies.

@Leigh: Welcome back from JordanCon. I'm jealous, being acquainted with no WoT fans in my community.
Adam S.
26. MDNY
@23 Aeryl- I too refuse to buy all those anthoogies for the D+E stories, but I have managed to read them all. There are these great buildings called libraries, which should exist for at least a couple more years...Sorry, couldn't resist.
I recommend taking a look at them if you get a chance, or you can wait till the supposed collection of them to be published, but given GRRM's publishing pace I would recommend just looking at them in a library edition if you can find one.
@21 Bill D5-I actually agree with many things you say, but I think you could tone it down a bit. Yes, there are things Leigh misses that she could or should catch, and yes there are things she forgets. Yes, the appendices are very useful. I'll leave it at that.
On a last note, let's remember to play nice, people. The tone is getting a little heated.
Lauren Hartman
27. naupathia
I don't really know what to make of @21 Bill D5.

On the one hand, you have a valid point. Any reader would probably catch and understand a lot more if you read the appendices and every included scrap of info.

But on the other hand, who the hell actually does that? I haven't read the family trees. Maybe glanced at them now and then but my eyes glaze over with so many names. I was never good at history. It was always my least favorite subject in school. I cannot memorize names and dates to save my life.

I also almost never look at the maps in books. I don't find it important. What does it matter if they are in Jersey or Newfoundland. Generally the text itself tells me enough - it's south, they're on the ocean, they all speak with a weird accent - whatever. I don't need to delve into a map for hours to memorize all the changes in terrain and to figure out weather patterns. And I don't expect authors to have to take cartography/geology/ecology classes to enhance my reading experience.

And to add to the list, I only recently read the first Dunk n Egg story. As @23 states, the expense in hunting them down is a little more than I want to bother with to get a slight bit more understanding. I do admit after reading the first one I have new insight - but I don't think my lack of that insight would lessen my experience of the books in any way. There are also some other spoilers I've heard about regarding Bran's storyline that you wouldn't know if you didn't read the Dunk and Egg stories, and again I do not feel my understanding of the books has suffered before knowing them.

I guess what I'm saying is it's entirely unfair to bash Leigh for not reading what the author doesn't expect you to read. It's called supplemental for a reason.
Steven Halter
28. stevenhalter
I'll just note that I haven't been reading the appendices either. Also, reading books a chapter at a time over the course of months is a method very prone to encouraging the forgetting of a detail here and there. Especially, when combined with not being able to use google to remember things.
29. Nessa
Leigh doesn't need to give us her thoughts on the appendix - It's just there as a guide for us. I guess Leigh could consult it now and then to refresh her mind on the family connections, but it's not like the appendix has a full history of the Targaryens from the date of Aegon's Conquest or anything...

I don't know if this is a spoiler:

To this day, I really can't understand why Jon didn't just send both kids off with Gilly - Growing up in the Night's Watch is perilious enough for a child, even without Melisandre around; especially so for one with no mother...I think he should have told Gilly that he'll send her own son over to her as soon as he knows that the trouble is over (Seriously, what use is keeping him at the Wall?). She shouldn't have to wait until her son is grown to see him again. (end spoiler)
Andrew Berenson
30. AndrewHB
Leigh, irony is delicious, isn't it? After telling use you were sick after returning from JordonCon, your first words in the summary was "Sam battles seasickness". Did you by chance return to New Orleans via boat?

Thanks for reading my musings,
31. Lyanna Mormont
@21 - Seriously? Seriously, you're going to assume the right to decide what Leigh should read, and should know or remember, and what she's expected to be aware of? I've steered clear of your novel-length posts in the past, because I'd be here all day if I took the time to argue about everything I disagree with you about, but this time you're being too rude and entitled for me to pass it by. (And editing your original post when people reply to you is just confusing.)

In what way does it hurt you, or the Read, if Leigh doesn't remember the details of who's related to whom? Yeah, it heightens the effect of this chapter if you've read the Dunk and Egg stories and know that Aemon is Egg's brother. But that's why it's made clear in the chapter! The first time I read this I had no clue about Dunk and Egg, and it still really got to me, because I cared about Aemon for himself. Why is it so important to know that the man imprisoned with Davos was Sam's grandfather? Does it change the story in any way? It's not like she missed the fact that Brienne was facing Sam's father in the recent Brienne chapter, after all. Not every detail is essential, and if it is to you, well, you clearly do know, so why does it matter if Leigh doesn't? Acting like she's somehow offended you personally is way over the top, and absurd. There's no test she needs to pass to get her licence to comment on the books.

And I say this as someone who does read the appendices, and re-read them, and ponder which is more likely out of Arya running into the Frey boy apprenticed to a Braavosi merchant, or Sansa meeting the Frey kids fostered by the Waynwoods (perhaps especially the squire named Sandor Frey).
janet vaughn
32. geochic1
Thanks for the post!!!!
Is it me or does anyone else feel seasick just from reading about all the sick passengers. I imagine the smell and mess and it is hard for me to take.;-) I feel sorry for whoever has to clean up the mess.

And could we please,PLEASE, stop the Leigh bashing? If you do not like what she writes about or her point of view do not read and comment about the blog. Leigh has every right to call as she sees it and write about what she feels. There are plenty of other website where you can comment on SOFAI. Even HBO has a message board for Game of Thrones.
33. MAR
GRRM has a post on Not A Blog about his forthcomming (2015) collection of the first three D & E stories, titled A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. There will be illustrations!
34. Danny G
What, no comments on how this chapter says that Lord Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers rose to become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch after Egg released him from the dungeons of King's Landing? I found that to be a very interesting part, especially since we haven't gotten to that part in D and E yet (if we ever will get that part) and since Leigh made a note of remembering Bloodraven because he was mentioned a lot in The Sworn Sword.
35. adamas
I really have to agree the leigh bashing is 'muy no bueno'.

For anyone who gets pissy about Leigh missing things on her very first run through of these books... Just remeber... eventually she will finish them. And then we will get to do an actual re-read. Meaning we will still have Leigh's delightful commentary to look forward to. New and improved with full spoilers. It will be great!
Jeroen van Berkel
36. Heronimus Rex
I think we have to assume that these two babies just look very much alike. It would otherwise be very hard to believe that Sam of all people (who traveled with Gilly and her baby for a while) would not see the difference.

@ 21 Bill D5: Thanks for pointing out all the stuff I totally missed! Even when I read the summaries and the name lists and what not I would not know that Davos’ cellmate was Sams grandfather if my life depended on it. My life was empty before this knowledge!

Please go on and tell us how we should read these books. And while you’re at it, could you by any chance also drop in some suggestions (or rules) on how we should feel when we read it? That would be great too.

@ 34 Danny G: Good point! That was a very cool “Ahaaaa...”-moment for me too.
Rob Munnelly
37. RobMRobM
@34 - Bloodraven is certainly a puzzle. One of the Great Bastards who remain on the side of the ruling Targs but later ends in prison (????? - why????) and later is rescued and sent to the Wall by Egg (???? - why - ????). Hope the details are covered in a future Dunk and Egg story, as it is likely fascinating. (No, let's not discuss whether his future is covered in future upcoming chapters of the principal text, because that would be spoilery. La la la Leigh is not listening.)

@29 - If Jon sent both kids off with Sam, Mel would find out quickly and would act to bring both back before they got to Eastwatch. Sending Dalla's baby was the only way to keep both kids safe.

All - Jon is making the tough decisions. Sending Aemon is not cost free - Jon loses a valuable, supportive counselor and Aemon is sufficiently old he might not even survive the trip South. Obviously, there are costs to sending Gilly with Dalla's baby. But Jon really doesn't want to give Mel the temptation to start killing off anyone with royal blood. He's willing to run the risk that he'll be punished, or worse, for sending them off. The parallels to Davos sending off Edric Storm - and putting himself in Mel's and Stannis' harms way - are unmistakable.
Valentin M
38. ValMar
Looks like Mel and Stannis are burdened with disproportionate number of conscientious and headstrong liegemen/allies :)
Tabby Alleman
39. Tabbyfl55
Nessa @29: I was holding that in reserve to support my "all babies look alike" in case of any counter arguments.

The fact that Jon didn't send both babies with Gilly means there must have been somebody watching Gilly and Sam leave. Which means the babies would have to look enough alike to fool that person.

I was also holding in reserve the other person's observation, that they looked enough alike to fool Sam for all that time.

So if they look that much alike, why will Mel believe Jon when he tells her that he switched them? But maybe, as someone else suggested, there's some kind of leechmus test.
Julian Augustus
40. Alisonwonderland
@36: - That assumes Sam has seen both babies several times beforehand. It is most unlikely. I can't think of any reason he would have had to ever see Dalla's baby.
Michael Duran
41. MRHD
Thanks for the post, Leigh! Appreciate you getting this in even with the other stuff you had on your plate. This is one of my favorite chapters in Feast, both for the baby switch giving us our first real insight on how Jon is going to go about things as Lord Commander, and for the historical tidbits that Aemon gives us here.

@21 As far as other Aemon's go, there is one historical Aemon Targaryen mentioned fairly often in the story-- Aemon the Dragonknight, of the Kingsguard. Whom Aemon mentions at least a couple of times in the story is the guy he was named after. In four reads of the series I never picked up on the guy Davos shared a cell with being Sam's grandfather, but I most certainly remember Aemon the Dragonknight.:P
Agnaldo S.
42. Greenseer
I think it’s interesting GRRM join Sam and Gilly, since both had the worst parents of Westeros. Indeed the father of Gilly wins the post of worst father: abuse and incest with his own daughters, gave the children to the Others (that, in the future, going back to pull the feet of the people of Westeros, especially men of the Night's Watch)… I was surprised at Jon for not telling his plans for Sam, one since they are best friends. Anyway, if Stannis discover the exchange of children, could end badly for Jon.
Why is it so important to know that the man imprisoned with Davos was Sam's grandfather?
Perhaps the information that Alester Florent is Grandfather Sam does not have great importance for the history, but, in retrospect, may explain why Sam is so afraid of Melisandre and the Queen's Men, not? Although Alester being a relative of Queen Selyse, he was burned alive for treason. Or maybe this helps Samwell understand the danger that there was while letting the son of Mance in hands of Melisandre. The child means nothing to Stannis; he almost did not mind burning the son of Robert.
@37: Bloodraven is certainly a puzzle. One of the Great Bastards who remain on the side of the ruling Targs but later ends in prison (????? - why????) and later is rescued and sent to the Wall by Egg (???? - why - ????).
The father of Egg (Aegon), Maekar Targaryen, reminds me Stannis: full of envy and resentment by undone what he had. In the two anthologies of Dunk and Egg, is possible to note that Maekar had great resentment against Bloodraven (Brynden Rivers), because he was "sorcerer", for his victory during Blackfyre Rebellion and per he have been named the Hand of the King. Bloodraven was the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms, and born bastard.

Probably when Maekar became king, he put Bloodraven in the chain on the pretext of it being Kingslayer and sorcerer.

I do not think the story of having cannibals (Humanitarian) in Skagos it is a Chekhov’s Gun, but the story Bloodraven be sent to the Night's Watch might be.
43. Nessa
@37: If he sent them both away at the same time maybe. But why not send Gilly's boy away after Mel finds out he's useless. Maybe there's a plot point to keeping the kid at the wall.

@39: I never really believed those leeches worked the way Mel said they would. It's very likely that she just foresaw the deaths happen in the flames and took credit for them (I mean, it took her a whole shadowbaby to kill one king, but three leeches were enough to kill the other three?) Plus (SPOILER) if she wanted king's blood so much, why didn't she just kill Mance when she had him? Why kill the son when you have the father who's probably even more dangerous? (/SPOILER)
44. Gregor Lewis
@21 Bill-D5

Man! If you picked all that up in your first read of the series, you're a more conscientious reader than me. That's some fully fleshed, incidental worldbuilding from GRRM eh?

If you actually wanted people to think about, or seriously comment on the interesting points you raise, especially wrt the familial currents ripping this way & that, throughout Westeros, underneath the surface events depicted ... WHOOOOO! Did you go about it the wrong way or what!

But maybe I'm misunderstanding your purpose here. Maybe you just wanted to cook up some formic acid and stir in some spewing bile, by adding your own versions thereof ... SUCCESS!

Has that advanced our discussion here?

C'mon man!

As someone who really gets immersed in the depth of detail in your posts, because I appreciate the resonance of what you explicate, with my own experience of multiple ASOIAF reads, I despair at the stridency of your unnecessary criticism.

Don't you see? Your detail and insight make clear what is missing in and of themselves. Alot of the people have built up their level of understanding through multiple, relatively uninterrupted reads of the books. That can't happen here. Moreover, it is equally clear this Read is a 'come as you are' arrangement, not a Homework assignment.

Writing as someone who wants to use what is presented by Leigh Butler and the Commenters - sometimes sharply, sometimes shrewdly, usually well-written, always interesting (for a variety of reasons) - as a catalyst for discussion, within the 'Rules of the ROIAF', having to wade through all the breast-heaving, chest-thumping rhetoric is annoying.

Although, I gotta admit some of the snark can be quite tasty ...
... But anyway! Moving on!

It is actually really interesting to me how specifically well connected Sam is - disowned or not. Makes me eagerly anticipate just what Sam the Schemer - as last seen in getting Jon elected LC of NW - might achieve, if he can overcome the rebirth of Sam the Sniveller his interminable nautical voyage has encouraged to re-emerge. We might see some more brave voyaging from Samwell yet.

Like Ned said to Bran, lo these many deforested tracts of land ago, someone '... can only be truly brave, when they are afraid ...' (or words to that effect). Sam has shown that he can rise to a point, so far.

I look forward to reading whether he can rise further again, overcoming his instinctive temerity, especially wrt his family connections. Then again, this IS GRRM. He hasn't met a trope from which he didn't take pleasure in flaying the skin from its deconstructed bones.

45. Dan Maca
Wow, I just plowed through all of these recaps in the past week and I cant believe I finally caught up! They are great Leigh and your verbal dexterity is commendable; I will definitely be checking every Friday from now on!
46. Black Dread
@40 If I recall correctly, Dalla had problems nursing so Gillywas feeding them both. I think Sam saw both babies while Gilly was nursing them - but he may not have been looking at the babies!
Tabby Alleman
47. Tabbyfl55
Nessa @43: Except, if I remember correctly, Mel didn't name the victims of the leeches. I think she worked the magic while they were leeching the king-blood, but Stannis actually named the people that they were for as they were thrown in the fire.

And remember, Davos had to smuggle Mel past some wards that "blocked her magic" so she could send her assassin baby after Renly. So probably a leech wouldn't have worked through those wards either.
Deana Whitney
48. Braid_Tug
@46: Dalla is dead. Not a spoiler, stated in the text. She died giving birth during the battle.
That's why Gilly is acting a the wetnurse for him. She's the only nursing mother the NW knows about. I'm sure there are others among the crowd. But I'm also sure that Sam was the first to suggest Gilly when a wetnurse was needed to keep the baby alive.

The whole "Milk Brother" thing that happens in Westeros.
Agnaldo S.
49. Greenseer
Maybe Melisandre's plan to "wake the stone dragon" was limited to Dragonstone. Probably she knew or realized it would be useless to make their attempt at the Wall. // So much that she gave up Mance, and also because he had a role in their plans.

If you noticed, Stannis had plans for the son of Mance. If Stannis knew the exchange of babies, he would have considered Jon a traitor. Do not believe there no conspiracy here.//

I agree with you, for though blood magic be strong magic in the world of ASoIaF, do not believe that the magic of Melisandres be able to interfere with the fate of the world. And the result: people serving as puppet of the whim of a person or a god (no freewill?).

If you remember, according to legend, the same person who built the Wall built Storm’s End. Notice that the Wall acts as a magic shield.
Adam S.
50. MDNY
@49 Bran the Builder built the wall, but he didn't build Storm's End. One legend says he helped, but it was built by the Storm king Durran,who married the gods' daughter.
Agnaldo S.
51. Greenseer
Yes indeed, despite not exclude (or include) Durran.
Brandon the Builder or the children of the forest, or both built the Wall.
The songs said that Storm’s End had been raised in ancient days by Durran, the first Storm King…
Some said the children of the forest helped him build it, shaping the stones with magic; others claimed that a small boy told him what he must do, a boy who would grow to be Bran the Builder.

This Storm's End is an old place. There are spells woven into the stones. Dark walls that no shadow can pass – ancient, forgotten, yet still in place.
Birgit F
52. birgit
The Targs have similar names, but real history kings often all had the same name. I remember reading a historical novel about Catherine de'Medici where everybody was called Henry and their titles kept changing so you couldn't use those to identify who is who either.

If someone looked closely at the babies they might be able to tell them apart, but why should soldiers be interested in some wildling babies?

People who have read the books many times may be studying the appendixes to see whose grandfather some minor character is, but Leigh is reading the books for the first time (and very slowly). It is hard enough for her to remember the major characters.
Why do we have to discuss how the read is done every week instead of talking about the content of the chapters?
Nikki Ebright
53. LilRedHead
Leigh - thank you so much for doing your reread of ASOIAF. I'm personally on A Dance with Dragons (last few chapters) but when I found your read (about a month ago) I started reading your blogs from the beginning, and they have been a delight. Every so often I stop and talk to whoever is in the room about some of the awesome insights you have or a particular turn of a phrase. Your writing is delightful to read.

I'm trying to catch up to your current blogs because I really want to comment! I've caught up to your early Storm of Swords blogs, so I'll probably post in the spoiler forums more for now. But I'm coming! Like Winter. But maybe a little faster. :)
Tabby Alleman
54. Tabbyfl55
@53, wait til you get to her Red Wedding blog. Fun, fun, fun!
Joe Vondracek
55. joev
@47: And remember, Davos had to smuggle Mel past some wards that "blocked her magic" so she could send her assassin baby after Renly.
Mel sent the shadow baby after Ser Cortnay Penrose, castellan of Storm's End and protector of Edric Storm. Penrose had refused to yield Storm's End and Edric to Stannis. That was after Renly was dead.

Re: Skagos, AKA pro-tip: if you live on an island and don't want other peoples messing with ya, let it about that you love feasting on human flesh.

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