Thu
Jul 17 2014 12:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 22

George RR 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 22 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 30 (“Jaime”) and Chapter 31 (“Brienne”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Tor.com. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

Chapter 30: Jaime

What Happens
Jaime’s force arrives at Darry; Jaime sees that Lancel is cleverly flying the Darry flag instead of the Lannister banner, no doubt at his father’s instigation, and thinks again that Kevan should have been Tommen’s Hand. He notes young Josmyn “Peck” Peckleton talking kindly to Pia, and remembers how he’d had one of the Mountain’s men beheaded for attempting to rape her, to the man’s bewilderment, and how Pia had smiled when presented with the man’s head. Once within the walls of the castle, Jaime notes that the peasants are armed, along with more sparrows. Jaime thinks of how he is here in an effort to arrive too late at the siege of Riverrun to be forced to participate.

Maester Ottomore greets them and explains that Ser Kevan left after the wedding; Lady Amarei is preparing a feast for them, but Lord Lancel is at his prayers. Jaime is put in Lancel’s own rooms, as Lancel has been sleeping in the sept, and Jaime is exasperated that Lancel is not attending to his duties and getting his half-Darry wife pregnant. Jaime is uncomfortably aroused by Pia’s attendance on him, and after she leaves, he tells Peck that he can sleep with Pia if Pia will allow it, but instructs Peck to be kind to her if he does.

At the feast, Lady Amarei tells Jaime Lancel is fasting with grief over the High Septon, and Jaime wonders if Lancel’s new-found piety is the reason for Kevan’s departure. They discuss the increasing wolf problem. Lady Mariya, Amarei’s mother, tells Jaime that they had thought the outlaws who killed her husband were Dondarrion’s, but they had learned that they were led by a one-eyed man and a hideously scarred woman. Amarei is not convinced, though, and tries to entreat Jaime to stay and kill Beric. Jaime advises them that if they want to flush out Beric and his company, they have to earn the locals’ trust and loyalty to Lancel over Beric. They discuss the massacre at Saltpans, and Ser Arwood tells of how the Hound killed twenty men, burned the town to the ground, and did unspeakable things to some of the women. Jaime thinks that it sounds more like Gregor’s style than Sandor’s, but Arwood says multiple witnesses described the Hound’s distinctive helmet. Jaime knocks over his wineglass with his gold hand and abruptly excuses himself, and goes to find Lancel.

At the sept, a few sparrows block his entrance and threaten him with weapons, until a rough-clad Lancel emerges and bids them to stand down. Jaime asks him if he’s lost his wits, and Lancel replies that he’s found his faith. He tells Jaime he’d dreamed that Jaime had killed him for his sins. Jaime tells him he needs to eat and go back to his wife before she cheats on him, but Lancel doesn’t care. He says he is a kingslayer just like Jaime, but Jaime says Robert was no true king, and asks what is really weighing on him. Lancel confesses that he slept with Cersei, but insists it is not treason since he never “finished inside.” Jaime wonders if Tyrion had also been right about Cersei fucking Moon Boy, and wonders what Lancel would think of his own dalliance with his twin sister.

Jaime tells Lancel he is a fool. Lancel agrees, and says he plans to renounce his marriage and title and take vows to join the “Warrior’s Sons.” Confused, Jaime says that order was outlawed three hundred years ago, but Lancel tells him they have been reinstated by the new High Septon. Jaime doesn’t understand how the Iron Throne would have allowed such a thing, and asks if Lancel is sure he isn’t doing it just to be close to Cersei again. Lancel only asks if Jaime will pray with him in reply; Jaime tells him he’s “forgotten all the words,” and leaves.

He goes with Ser Ilyn to practice in the godswood, but ends up telling Ilyn about their last visit to this castle on the way back from Winterfell, and how he had had sex with Cersei with Robert passed out on the floor in the room. He says he’d thought Cersei wanted him, but now he thinks Cersei just wanted him to agree to hunt down the Stark girl whose wolf had attacked Joffrey.

The things I do for love. “It was only by chance that Stark’s own men found the girl before me. If I had come on her first…”

The pockmarks on Ser Ilyn’s face were black holes in the torchlight, as dark as Jaime’s soul. He made that clacking sound.

He is laughing at me, realized Jaime Lannister. “For all I know you fucked my sister too, you pock-faced bastard,” he spat out. “Well, shut your bloody mouth and kill me if you can.”

Commentary
Hmm. Possible major turning point for Jaime here, re: Cersei. I mean, you know damn well that deep down he already knew that Cersei had been trading sex for political favors all along, but this is the first time (I think) that he’s gotten irrefutable proof that this was the case and denial ceased to be a river in Egypt an option.

And now, of course, he’s reevaluating every single time he had sex with her himself, to try and see where the advantage was for her. This probably does not bode well for whenever the two of them next meet, that’s for sure.

The things I do for love. Yeah. Guess throwing a kid out of a window to conceal your and your sister’s sexytimes is looking less and less like a valid life choice, huh, Jaime? Jesus.

(This series, I swear.)

Also, Jaime better hope that Ilyn doesn’t know how to write shit down. I’m just saying.

I love how Jaime’s advice to Amarei et al re: Beric was the revolutionary and apparently highly original notion that they should, oh, I don’t know, do their fucking jobs, and provide, like, actual justice and safety for their peasantry. Noblesse oblige: it can be a practice as well as a theory! WHO’D’VE THUNK IT, YO.

*rolls eyes*

Lancel: yeah, already we’re getting to see what a FABULOUS idea reinstating a militant Church is. Thanks, Cersei!

Re: Saltpans Massacre: yeah, that’s way too many hints for me to ignore at this point: Sandor totally didn’t do it, y’all.

Interestingly, Jaime had the exact same thought I had earlier about the whole thing, namely that it was much more Gregor’s shtick than Sandor’s. AHA I AM ONTO SOMETHING… except that I thought Gregor was dead. Isn’t he dead? Stabbed with poison pointy thing? Very suffer? So schadenfreude? Wow?

I thought so, but now I am confused. I raise my eyebrow in this storyline’s general direction!

Another hint of Undead!Catelyn here—or maybe not a new one, per se, since I think the incident Amarei is yelling about in this chapter is the one we saw in the epilogue of ASOS, but whatever. Point is, it would be really nice to get a POV soon from someone who actually knows what the bleeding hell is going on re: all this Beric/Zombie!Catelyn/ Sandor/possibly Zombie!Gregor bullshit. Because I am just about over it, y’all.

 

Chapter 31: Brienne

What Happens
Septon Meribald brings Brienne, Hyle, and Podrick to the septry across the bay from Saltpans, by way of a hidden passage across the mudflats left behind by the receding tide. He explains that the Quiet Isle is inhabited by penitents atoning for their sins, and only the Elder Brother and his proctors are allowed to talk. On the isle, they are greeted by Brother Narbert, who knows Meribald well. He is startled to discover Brienne is female, and decides to bring her to the Elder Brother. They note the presence of a vicious and untamed stallion in the stables, and Brienne notes a huge but lame man is digging a grave. Norbert explains the grave is for Brother Clement, who died at Saltpans, but when Brienne asks if the Hound killed him, he replies that it was someone else.

The Elder Brother strikes Brienne as more of a warrior than a clergyman. He describes the horrors of what happened at Saltpans in detail, deciding that Brienne’s warrior garb meant he should not shield her from the details. He is angered that Ser Quincy Cox barred his gate and refused to come to the villagers’ aid, and though Meribald points out that Cox is an old man who was severely outnumbered, Brienne is inclined to agree with the Elder Brother.

After dinner, the Elder Brother escorts Brienne to a guest cottage, and asks Brienne what she hopes to find in Saltpans. Brienne tells him she is looking for a highborn maid with auburn hair, and the Elder Brother instantly deduces she means Sansa Stark, and tells her she is chasing the wrong wolf: it is Arya Stark who was with the Hound, not Sansa. Brienne is stunned. He does not know what happened to Arya, but he tells her the Hound is dead, that the Elder Brother watched him die and buried him himself; the vicious warhorse in the stables is his.

He says that he was once a knight himself, but “died” in the Battle of the Trident, where Rhaegar fell, and washed ashore naked on the Quiet Isle, where he has been ever since. He urges her to give up her quest and go home; Sansa was never with the Hound, and whoever was impersonating him at Saltpans will inevitably be caught. He says her father must miss her, and tearfully Brienne tells him everything about her life, from her father’s rejection of her to the men she’d killed in pursuit of the vow she’d sworn to Jaime.

“I have to find her,” she finished. “There are others looking, all wanting to capture her and sell her to the queen. I have to find her first. I promised Jaime. Oathkeeper, he named the sword. I have to try to save her… or die in the attempt.”

Commentary
Brienne of Tarth: Still out-heroing the shit out of everybody. I do love her lots.

And, ask and I shall (sometimes) receive: the Saltpans Massacre, explained at last!

OR IS IT.

Okay, so, (a) I was totally right that Sandor didn’t do it, and (b) I am calling it RIGHT NOW that lame gravedigger dude is Sandor.

I didn’t catch it on the first readthrough, but when I went back to write the summary I saw how the Elder Brother was all “I died at the Trident,” because he was reborn to the faith, geddit, and then I was like Ohhhhh okay. Yeah, so, I think the Hound “died,” too, in that particular dictionary definition of “die” that means “pull a Claude Rains,” and now he’s hiding out in a monastery, like you do. Seems legit.

This is my prediction, anyway. We Shall See.

Also, re: Elder Brother, wait wait wait. Who the hell is this guy? I mean, obviously he was a knight and all, and maybe he was even more than that and is downplaying it to Brienne for his own Rainsian purposes, but still, if his story is even remotely true then he has been out of the loop regarding the intricacies of Westeros’s High School Drama from Hell (A Play in Seven Acts) since the Trident—i.e. before Robert even took the throne. So how does Brienne say “auburn thirteen-year-old” to this guy and he instantly comes back with, “oh you mean Sansa Stark”?? WTF.

…well, on thinking about it, if lame gravedigger dude is really Sandor then maybe Sandor told Elder Brother about Sansa… but that’s still kind of a big leap there, if you ask me. Weird. Elder Brother is More Than He Seems, y’all. Also I hope he gets an actual name at some point, presuming of course that I’m not totally blowing his importance out of proportion and we actually see him again.

Anyway, there’s not much else to say about this chapter, so I will instead inflict upon you my thoughts triggered by Jaime and Brienne’s POVs once again happening in sequence. Hooray!

I’m not a hundred percent sure I’m remembering this correctly, but I think that we did not start getting Jaime POVs until after his association with Brienne began, so obviously I cannot speak with authority on Jaime’s mental attitude toward women before that point. That said, his initial treatment of (and thoughts about) Brienne in the early stages of their relationship is probably pretty indicative that he was not much more enlightened about respecting women than any other product of this hyper-patriarchal society. So I feel fairly safe in theorizing that his (by comparison) shockingly progressive consideration for Pia’s situation, in this and previous chapters, is a direct result of his association with Brienne and the respect she earned from him.

Normally I might be pointing out the issues here, with the evocation of the tired trope that women exist mainly to make the hero/associated male character a better person, rather than that they exist to further their own character development, but the fact that Brienne is in fact off doing just that—pursuing her own story—mitigates that possible complaint a great deal. And beyond that, the clearly deep influence that Brienne has had on Jaime is undeniably very heartening to me, because more than anything else, it speaks eloquently of the power of representation.

One of the more influential quotes I ever read as a child was from The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett:

At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done—then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done before.

Burnett was talking about the reaction of humanity to scientific progress, but I think that the process she describes actually applies across the board—to the entirety of human reaction to change. Perhaps, in fact, to social change more than any other kind.

Twenty years ago, for instance, hardly anyone in America could probably have even imagined that legalizing gay marriage would be any more than a pipe dream, but now, at nineteen states and counting, the majority of Americans view it as a necessary and right inevitability. And a huge part of that shift in perspective, I believe, is owed to the persistent and eloquent demand from the gay community to be seen and validated as legitimate—in the media, in public life, and in popular entertainment.

Because that’s the thing—being seen. You can talk about a thing, or people doing a thing, all you want, but as a general rule, until people see other people doing a thing, they’re not going to accept that those people can do the thing. But once they do see it, well, then it is real and legit. Because you saw it. The proof of the pudding, and alla that.

It is perhaps fucked up (or, no, it is definitely fucked up) that Jaime could not see Brienne—and, by extension, women in general—as real people until he had seen and accepted Brienne as a fellow warrior, but in the context of his (fucked-up) society, which values military prowess above all other virtues, it makes perfect sense when you think about it. It is perhaps not as extreme as some places in this world (see The Iron Islands, or rather, if you’re smart, don’t), but in Westeros, if you cannot be a warrior, than to many of its people (certainly among the nobility, anyway) you barely qualify as a person at all.

Jaime’s own struggles with his sense of self-worth after the loss of his sword hand speak eloquently to that prevailing perception (as do Tyrion’s over the course of his whole life, and Cersei’s as well). And there’s no doubt, of course, that that struggle in itself is also playing a part in Jaime’s shift in perception of who is and is not worthy to be viewed as, well, worthy. But I still think that Brienne’s influence—indeed, her very existence—is the larger cause for that shift.

And that’s pretty awesome, I think.


And that’s what I got for this one, kids! Have a spate of days, and I’ll see you next week!

82 comments
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
1. AlirozTheConfused
Nice insight on Brienne, I think you've hit the nail on the head.

(Of course, this means that the nail wants revenge...)
MGP
2. MGP
Continuity error? I thought that the Lannisters (or at least their men) found Arya after the incident by the river - that's why she was immediately taken to Robert instead of Ned.
Iain Cupples
3. NumberNone
Note: Ilyn is illiterate, and Jaime knew that before he started spilling secrets to him (it's in an earlier chapter).
MGP
4. tg12
Good catch with the lame gravedigger. I didn't see that one the first time through, either.

Also, good thoughts on Brienne's influence on Jaime. It's true that we don't really get his point of view prior to the start of his journey down the river with Brienne (his first POV is in the third book), but I think there's a fair scattering of clues that Jaime was fairly unreflective about a whole lotta things for his first three decades....
Iain Cupples
5. NumberNone
@MGP: no, Jory is the one that finds Arya. But when he arrives back, the guards on the gate are Lannisters and they inform Cersei, which is why Arya gets taken straight to Robert instead of to Ned.
Ross Newberry
6. rossnewberry
Yeah, excellent catch on the (possible) Sandor/lame gravedigger thing.
MGP
7. BloopityBloop
While I like your take on Brienne making Jaime better and it no doubt true in his conceptualisation of women and how that changes, his views on sexual assualt specifically go back a bit further. Namely to when he had to guard the Mad King's door when he abused his wife at night and he was sworn to not interfere.
Adam S.
8. MDNY
Leigh- ask and it shall be given you: I love how you finally broke down and demanded WTF is going on with the Hound's attack at Saltpans, and the VERY NEXT chapter GRRM provides the answer. A good example of storytelling here, with the persistent buildup of hints about the massacre and the explanation just as we're beginning to weary of all the hints.
Oh, LOL, I wrote the above before reading your second entry. Great minds think alike :)
I am sooooooooo f---ing excited that you picked up on the possibility of the Hound being the big gravedigger. We've been talking about that for a while on the Spoiler thread, and I am very impressed that you made that connection, I didn't until my second or third read. So Bravo!
There are all sorts of crazy theories about everything is ASOIAF, but I don't think there's much more to the Elder Brother than we've been told. He said that he was a younger son, and served a man who served a man who supported Rhaegar in the battle. He was just a hedge knight, according to his story, and I believe him. So I don't think he has any greater significance. I could be wrong, of course...
Nice to see Cersei's actions already starting to backfire, and to damage the Lannisters directly, with Lancel's rejection of his marriage and his decision to join the Warrior's Sons. Reneging on a wedding with a Frey is NOT a good idea, Robb could tell you that. Or, well, I guess now Lady Stoneheart could tell you, Robb being dead and all...
Sasha P
9. AeronaGreenjoy
Chapter 30

Way to play with our expectations, GRRM. Since we learned in ACOK (via Tyrion) of the Lancel-Cersei affair, we’ve waited for Jaime to find out, flip out, and hurt Lancel. And he did flip out, but in a different direction and manner.

Would someone remind me why Tyrion thought Cersei was bedding Osmund? She bedded Osney by AFFC, but I can’t find anything in the Wiki referencing her having bedded Osmund.

Amarei: He brought the gold they asked for, but they hung him anyway.
Mariya: Hanged, Ami. Your father was not a tapestry.

I found that hilarious. Your daughter is lamenting the murder of her father and you focus on correcting her grammar?

When people speak of Beric’s multiple reported deaths, I wonder why nobody who killed him had tried to ensure that he stayed dead by having the body burned, minced, fed to the dogs, or something of that sort instead of going off and leaving it intact. He was covered in should-have-been-death-wounds…why did nobody think to play it safe? (Not that Gregor and Co. ever used their brains much)

I assumed Sandor was truly "dead" and gave no thought to the lame gravedigger until fans pointed him out. Remarkable how I can think about this story daily and intensively while taking everything at face value.

Chapter 31

Elder Brother is a wise and gentle healer (now that he’s reformed from being a rapist, anyway), but doesn’t fit the image of one. Qyburn does fit the image – Cersei thinks he resembles “some little girl’s favorite grandfather” – but is a depraved torturer. One again, GRRM reminds us not to judge by appearances.

This might be the first mention of the misery Brienne felt about Margaery marrying Renly. I found it oddly comforting, not out of a wish for the beleaguered woman to suffer even more but because it shows she’s human, not some pure-hearted being who selflessly accepts the loss of what could never be.

Re: commoners, the nobility are definitely divided. Some seem to think “I don’t owe the peasants anything; they exist to serve me but can be killed off with no impact to me and had better not trouble me with their problems” (Cersei has been displaying this flamboyantly in thought and action, while others do try to protect and support them in various ways and with varying success.

Ahhh, I like the Quiet Isle chapter. The food sounds delicious even by ASOIAF’s high standards, the island a peaceful oasis for body and soul, and I just love exploring intertidal areas.

@1: Haha!
Deana Whitney
10. Braid_Tug
Yeah, two chapters together that really fit well together! Glad you were able to do both this week.

And ditto what others have said about you catching Sandor. I didn't catch it all, the Spoiler thread looped me in.
No comment on the Elder Brother all but accusing Brie of sleeping with Pod?

Jamie's chapter makes me wonder about the passage of time. I know news travels fast with birds and everything, but how long has it been since Cersei's order was passed?
And poor Jamie. It would suck for anyone to start thinking that a 30+ love relationship, on your part, was nothing but a series of negotiations and selfishness on the other person’s part.

Lancel: Oh let me count the ways in which you are young fool looking for a cause and meaning in your life. And let me count the ways in which you have altered the pathway of your life.
Now you are about to go "be a warrior for the Gods" after you have starved yourself sick.
You young dumb puppy....

He's Kevan only son right? Feel bad for Kevan right now.
Scott Silver
11. hihosilver28
Excellent commentary, Leigh. I especially loved what you had to say about the combination of the two chapters and the effect that Brienne continues to have on Jaime. Really good stuff.

I didn't grok onto the gravedigger on my own, but I like the thought. And it fits with Sandor's arc through what we've seen so far.
Pyrrhus Aeacides
12. Pyrrhus
"I know a little of this man, Sandor Clegane. He was Prince Joffrey's sworn shield for many a year, and even here we would hear tell of his deeds, both good and ill. If even half of what we heard was true, this was a bitter, tormented soul, a sinner who mocked both gods and men. He served, but found no pride in service. He fought, but took no joy in victory. He drank, to drown his pain in a sea of wine. He did not love, nor was he loved himself. It was hate that drove him. Though he committed many sins, he never sought forgiveness. Where other men dream of love, or wealth, or glory, this man Sandor Clegane dreamed of slaying his own brother, a sin so terrible it makes me shudder just to speak of it. Yet that was the bread that nourished him, the fuel that kept his fires burning. Ignoble as it was, the hope of seeing his brother's blood upon his blade was all this sad and angry creature lived for...and even that was taken from him, when Prince Oberyn of Dorne stabbed Ser Gregor with a poisoned spear."

What a fantastic "eulogy" for the Hound. It fits well with the "broken man" speech from a few chapters back. Sandor Clegane broke and is now at rest.

Also interesting that we've seen now quite a few chapters of religion or the religious in positive, redemptive, lights... or at least sometimes as not quite as awful as the status quo.
MGP
13. didis
While Brienne indeed did have an influence on Jaime, I think saying that he started to treat and respect women better in general thanks to her is not truly correct. We had his POVs during that journey, we literally could read his thoughts and I don't remember there being anything about tratement of women overall.
Lauren Hartman
14. naupathia
@10 Especially since it's likely Kevan knows Cersei is who ruined Lancel -- she was the one who sent him off to battle so he could essentially get killed so he wouldn't be an inconvenience anymore. It's no wonder Kevan cares so little for Jaime and Cersei right now.

Great commentary Leigh. Not much to add other than I was impressed at your catch on Sandor. I didn't figure it out until reading spoilery speculations. But on re-read it seems pretty obvious to me now.
MGP
15. Sophist
Since Amarei is Merrett's daughter, it's worth re-reading the Prologue to remind yourself of Merrett's description of his children.
Church Tucker
16. Church
The Gravedigger was one of he first times through this series where I was totally I See What You Did There.
MGP
17. Athreeren
"denial ceased to be a river in Egypt"

"that’s why I have dread issues. (Er, meaning “issues with the emotion of dread”, not hairstyle dilemmas. You know, in case you were confused. What?)"

There should be sentences like these every week!
MGP
18. Ragnarredbeard
"Also, Jaime better hope that Ilyn doesn’t know how to write shit down. I’m just saying."

I believe its been well established in earlier books that Ser Ilyn is illiterate. Although why someone in his position - not being able to talk - wouldn't learn to read and write is beyond me.
Iain Cupples
19. NumberNone
He's Kevan only son right? Feel bad for Kevan right now.

Only remaining son, yes, after Karstark offed the other one. He hasn't had luck with his offspring, poor guy.
MGP
20. MoF
Kevan's son Martyn is still alive (Willem was killed by Karstark with Tion Frey). He also has a baby daughter Janei.
Matthew Watkins
21. oraymw
I DIDN'T FIGURE OUT THE GRAVEDIGGER!! Wow. That was some good reading there you did.

Also, Brienne is the awesomest.
MGP
22. DougL
Jaime has learned respect for women, but maybe he is just a fan of broken things like Tyrion is, and Brienne is broken to some degree (she is awesome, but you can see here how troubled she is), and Pia is massively broken. Cutting off a man's head for trying to rape a woman who used to hop into bed with any knight that came along is wonderful. Stannis would have gelded him if he was a knight or thrown him into a fire if a common man, like most of Gregor's lot.
MGP
23. AeronaGreenjoy
@15: Merrett's POV is the ASOS epilogue.
Adam S.
24. MDNY
@10 Braid_Tug: Kevan has 3 sons and a daughter. But Lancel is his oldest son. The second was killed, but his other 2 children still live.
@15 Sophist- It's not the prologue, it's in the Epilogue to A Storm of Swords that we're in Merret's head (and are introduced to UnCat).
MGP
25. Sophist
Eh, epilogue, prologue, who can tell them apart?

Thanks.
Tabby Alleman
26. Tabbyfl55
Guess it was too much to hope that there would have been something fun about Merrett's children in the summary in the re-read. I don't have the books handy. : (

@18 If Ilyn could write, then people would expect him to carry a quill and parchment around with him all the time, and scribble whenever he went to the kitchen for a drink of water. I can't really see that being his style. I think he probably likes the isolation that his condition affords him.
David Goodhart
27. Davyd
"it would be really nice to get a POV soon from someone who actually knows what the bleeding hell is going on re: all this Beric/Zombie!Catelyn/ Sandor/possibly Zombie!Gregor bullshit. Because I am just about over it, y’all."


I've been been getting a feeling that this isn't the only thing Leigh is over lately.
MGP
28. Mark Z.
Although why someone in his position - not being able to talk - wouldn't learn to read and write is beyond me.

Maybe he did, and nobody noticed.

My new crackpot theory is that Ser Ilyn is an informant for Varys.
MGP
29. Athreeren
"I believe its been well established in earlier books that Ser Ilyn is
illiterate. Although why someone in his position - not being able to
talk - wouldn't learn to read and write is beyond me."

Well, there never has been an Ilyn Payne POV, has it? For all we know, maybe he learned to read and write with Varys, and makes a fortune by sharing the secrets anybody wants to tell the mute knight (given where he lives, that's unlikely).
Janice Boyd
30. scaredicat
I like the change of pace these two chapters represent. The previous two chapters (Cersei and Reaver) were the points of view from two foul, foul people, running headlong into more foulness.

These chapters are a relief from all that -- particularly Brienne's chapter. I'm so glad that she got a chance to talk about all that has happened to her with the Elder Brother. Hopefully he can give her some peace.

The Quiet Isle is definitely a good place to be.
Steven Halter
31. stevenhalter
Chapter 30 - Jaime:We open with a report of agricultural duties being recommenced in Darry. I'll take this as a moment to say that I really hate pulling weeds. "walking" beans isn't a job for teenagers so much anymore with Roundup resistant soybeans, but I do not have fond memories.
Jaime is continuing to remain alert for ambushes, bandits and velociraptors. They'll be no surprising him now.
Pia is riding along and Jaime chastised one of the Mountain's men by the process of head removal. Probably the dude still couldn't get his head around the notion that raping Pia was a bad thing. Luckily that is the last notion he needs to consider.
Stowing the Targaryen tapestries ahead of Robert's arrival seems like a good idea.
While well intentioned for Peck, it doesn't seem like Jaime is quite considering the trauma Pia has been through. Peck's "taking" her seems like an ill thought out, bad idea.
Ha! Lady Marlya is a grammar checker.
More news of bandits and wolves. I would guess the hooded woman is zombie Cat and I think we saw a version of this. The Hound sounds off to me as it does to Jaime. Anyone can wear a helmet. Even another brother who we've been told is dead. Zombies everywhere. We'll be finding out more about the identity of this Hound I'm guessing.
MGP
32. Owlay
Here I am again!
Good job as usual, Leigh!

In the first chapter we see a man (Lancel) undergoing a "born-again" experience.

I want to meet Martyn Lannister! (there are many characters I want to meet)

Also, we see some Freys again but we don't really find out much about them. We see some of Merrett's family again after his descriptions of them in the ASOS Epilogue. (It would seem that this branch of the Freys is kinda important, since Amerei married Lancel (albeit briefly), Fat Walda is married to Roose Bolton, and Little Walder is Ramsay's squire (Merrett's third daughter Marissa is according to the Appendices also present at Darry but she is not mentioned at all in here or in the main body of any of the books). Also, am I the guy who feels sorry for Merrett? If only he had a better family......)

In the second chapter here we see Westeros' equivalent of a monastery, including an extreme and literal "Rule of Silence".

The final part of this chapter throws new light upon the Darry Incident on AGOT.

Forgive me if I comment more sporadically here or if my comments aren't so extensive as in the Harry Potter Reread but it happens that I've been a HP fan since December 2001 and I've only been a fan of this series since this March.

And finally, in your mind Jaime Lannister looks like,
a) Roger Daltrey,
or,
b) Robert Plant?
MGP
33. KingsGambit
I don't doubt that Brienne had a good influence on Jaime, but I think Jaime always had a bit of a tragic hero thing going.

Examples:
1. He killed Arys, saving the city and everybody in it, knowing the world would damn him for it ("loved by one for a kindness I never did, riviled by so many for my finest act");
2. He was the only one who was kind to Tyrion;
3. Already mentioned he hated what Arys was doing to his wife - maybe not very heroic, but definately more enlightened then the rest of the world;
4. He always intended to keep the vow he made to Cat at swordpoint.

Ok, minus several million for tossing Bran out of a window, but this is a Song of Ice and Fire, nobody's perfect. That 'kindness he never did' wasn't his best day either, I suppose.

And yes, Jaime started out by judging Brienne on her looks. Not very commendable, but I think you can rely on most men to do that, no matter in fantasy or reality, Medieval or modern times. He was able to overcome that first judgement however.

So, positive influence, yes, change from villain to hero, not quite.
Steven Halter
34. stevenhalter
Chapter 31 - Brienne:The horse sounds like the Hound's horse.
Ah, the Elder Brother reveals that he saw Arya and that he buried Sandor. Someone else took the helm. And, I was right the horse is Stranger.
I don't know if I believe that Sandor is actually dead. Elder Brother's tale of redemption seems interestingly timed and may indicate another occupation for the Hound. Perhaps the Hound is dead much like whoever Elder Brother was is dead. They do have a novice gravedigger who is lame and large.
Brienne swears to continue.
Brienne is cool.
jon meltzer
35. jmeltzer
Knowing George, the gravedigger won't be the Hound. Just an uncanny imitation.
MGP
36. shinerfan
As a boy Jaime worshipped men like Dayne, Selmy, the Blackfish, etc. He spent his childhood relentlessly honing his skills, not to be a great warrior, but to be a great and noble night like the stories and singers tell of. Then life happened. In Jaime's particular case, his unnatural love for his sister, his fuckedupbeyondwords father, his position as a pawn in the give and take between Aerys and Tywin . . . Then the whole world damns him as an oathbreaker for his noblest act in slaying Aerys to save the city. All of this together made him abandon those ideals of chivalry and the vows of knighthood.

Then Brienne comes along. The whole world spits on her but still she tries so, so hard to live up to those same ideals and be that knight that boy Jaime wanted to be. He knows just how hard that is. He was born with so many advantages that Brienne never had. Wealthy, beautiful, charming, a prodigy with the sword, and still he fell from that path. He sees her and sees how far he is from the man he wanted to be. I think the story arc of Jaime Lannister's redemption is what really sets ASOIAF above any fantasy I've read. (Sorry, Leigh. I do love WoT, FWIW.)

Oh, and someone was talking earlier about how they picture Jaime. I don't want to bring up any show details but Nicolaj Coster-Waldau is absolutely perfect as Jaime Lannister. I can't imagine him any other way.
MGP
38. miriam12
I've never, ever wanted to visit Westeros, but if I did I'd spend the whole time at the Quiet Isle. It's the one place where no one would rape or kill me. The Faith hasn't gotten the best reputation thus far, but the Quiet Isle and the people there sound quite lovely.
Also, welcome to the Gravedigger Theory. I totally missed it when I read the book. I only picked up on it when I read an article on Westeros.com about it. Sandor better be alive. We are not done with the Cleganes. SanSan forever!
Adam S.
39. MDNY
@38 miriam12: I would definitely want to visit the quiet isle, and try their famed mead and fish stew, but I'd also want to visit Dorne (which seems safe as long as you're not associated with the Lannisters), I want some Dornish spicy food and sour wine! The North....only in times of peace, but at the start of the series I would have loved to visit Winterfell and see the Heart tree. The Wall, when it's adequately manned, would be worth visiting. Oh, and Bravos, but that's not Westeros...
MGP
40. Milk Steak
The elder brother switching between "he's dead" when talking about the hound to "he's at peace" when talking about Sandor threw me off at first but I didn't put it together with the gravedigger on the first read. Great catch.
Marie Veek
41. SlackerSpice
"Jaime thought back on the head he'd given to Pia. He could almost hear his little brother chuckle. Whatever became of giving women flowers? Tyrion might have asked."
MGP
42. Minstral
He says her father must miss her, and tearfully Brienne tells him
everything about her life, from her father’s rejection of her to the men
she’d killed in pursuit of the vow she’d sworn to Jaime.

I've never gotten the idea that Brienne's father rejected her in any of my reads, and looking back at the passage I don't see it. The fact that the Tarth master of arms trained her in combat suggests to me that he was instructed to do so. He showed reluctance in Brienne's flashbacks and ask specifically if she wanted the training, to me that shows extreme reluctance. If he was this reluctant he wouldn't have trained her unless his liege ordered him to do so.
Adam S.
43. MDNY
@42 Agreed, nothing suggests that Brienne's father rejected her, nor that she doesn't unreservedly love him.
Bridget McGovern
44. BMcGovern
Comment @37 unpublished. Since it's clear that you are either unwilling or unable to respond appropriately to our very basic requests for civil, respectful conversation on this site, we hope that you find a discussion more suited to your needs elsewhere on the internet.
MGP
45. Dragonriding Moogle
I was never as huge a Hound fan as many readers, but I *really* like the idea of him as the Gravedigger. I think it would make such a fantastic ending for him; he finally found peace. I do think that it works best as an *ending*, though. I don't really see it likely or desirable that he come out of seclusion to kill his brother if he's still alive or romance Sansa or something (never really got the appeal of that relationship, myself).

Love love love all of Jaime's interactions with Pia. I feel like she's there to show how much Jaime has changed, but as with everything in ASOIAF, nothing is ever really *just* a plot device, and Pia is her own person as well.

Excellent points about Brienne with regards to Jaime. I feel like Jaime is really one of those people who rarely thinks things through, so he really needs to have it pushed in his face before he gets it. I also saw him as honestly being one of the less sexist characters (not that that's saying a whole lot). He was a jerk, yeah, but he was a jerk to everyone, really.
Captain Hammer
46. Randalator
Great catch on the gravedigger. I danced the No-Catch on that one forever (well, until I met the internet, anyway).

Also, 21st century sensibilities on sexuality, consensuality and women's rights (sorta)? In Westeros? What madness is this?

Also also, I agree with BloopityBloop @7 that Jaime's change regarding that particular issue started way back. Brienne helped him along to gain general respect for women, though.


@17 Athreeren

There should be sentences like these every week!

There ARE sentences like these every week.

Unless there are no sentences at all. In which case we, your humble commentator people crowd, do the sentencing. See what I did there? No? I thought you did. You didn't? Damn!


@42 Minstral

re: Brienne and her father

It's a bit of both, I think. He kinda grudgingly accepted that she would never be a proper lady, and went for a well-if-you're-gonna-do-it-might-as-well-do-it-right approach. But I don't think he ever showed approval or pride regarding her choices or accomplishments, which for her probably feels as close to rejection as makes no difference.
MGP
47. a1ay
46: well, the scale of supportive parenting for non-typical gender behaviour runs all the way from Maege Mormont on one end ("you want to learn to fight like a man? Good for you. Borrow my hammer") to Randall Tarly ("I KILL YOU") on the other, and I think Selwyn Tarth's closer to the Mormont/Ned Stark/Oberyn Martell end of the scale. And the Mormonts are a bit different from the rest of the 7K anyway in that a Mormont woman who wants to learn to fight isn't exactly going against gender norms.
MGP
48. Sindy
In regards to Jaime, I don't think he's ever been a sexist as most of the rest of society , even before meeting Brienne. Obviously she improved him a great deal in terms of him seeing true honor and bravery and general decentness, but Jaime wanted to stop Aerys's rape of Rhaella when he was in his teens, and his initial reaction to Brienne wasn't as sexist as it would have been from others. His main comments on her were about her attractiveness, and although that isn't exactly pleasent, it's the kind of thing he's said about men as well. And "wench" is something I think he said at least partly because it was a weak spot that upset Brienne. Again, not nice but I think being so close to Cersei has definitely had an influence on Jaime in terms of treatment of women... Whatever else she might be, she's a very ambitious and powerful women who Jaime's basically worshipped for most of his life.

Also, good catch on the Hound.
MGP
49. NickH
Jaime had dreamed of being a "true knight" in his youth, but failed. He has been telling himself then, that it is not possible at all: "there are so many vows, and you cannot keep them all", etc. And then he meets Brienne, who does manage to keep all her vows, however difficult it is. So obviously she had a great influence on him, and meeting her was a major turning point (of equal importance with loosing his hand, or perhaps even more important).

This Brienne's chapter is one of my favourites (as well as the previous one with Meribald's speech about "broken men"). The scene where Brienne tells her story to the elder brother is the point when I really started rooting for her.
Maiane Bakroeva
50. Isilel
Sindy @48:

Again, not nice but I think being so close to Cersei has definitely had an influence on Jaime in terms of treatment of women... Whatever else she might be, she's a very ambitious and powerful women who Jaime's basically worshipped for most of his life.

Yes, and the whole "if I had been a woman, I would have been Cersei" schtick, while completely unhealthy and untrue, still prompted Jaime to consider that he _might_ have been born female, which is a thing that the overhelmingly vast majority of Westerosi men would never contemplate. Ditto, his dressing up and spending days as Cersei when they were both young, and seeing first-hand how life is for a girl.
So, yea, I don't think that Jaime was ever particularly sexist by Westerosi standards, but he was an equal-opportunity dick, who'd go for the lowest hanging fruit when trying to insult people, including women.

So, no opinions on the Elder Brother's allegedly miraculous healing abilities?
He also provides us with another poignant story about the cost of war, the hollowness of knighthood and meaning of life in general. I have just re-read AFFC and was honestly surprised by how much I loved all the "slice-of-life" segments we got there, through Brienne and other PoVs. Back when the book first came out, I was a bit impatient with it, though I never hated it like some did/do. But IMHO, it stands the test of time amazingly well. In hindsight, I can't really agree with frequent claims that quality of ASoIaF dipped dramatically after ASoS.
Personally, I have been slightly disappointed by Sandor very likely being the grave-digger. Sometimes people should die and stay dead even if we haven't seen the body. Not to mention that his returning into the thick of things at an opportune time would feel cheap.
Tom Smith
51. phuzz
re: the Mountain pretending to be his brother at the Saltpans massacre. Given that the Mountain is described as being about eight feet tall and built like a brick shithouse, even assuming he could put his brother's helmet on, surely someone would have commented on his massive size?
Also, in addition to the 'being dead' thing, Gregor was never one to care about his brother, so I can't see him bothering to pretend to be him. Gregor has never been bothered about being seen as a murderous raping psyco. so why try and deflect the blame onto the Hound?
That's the way I see it anyway.
Steven Halter
52. stevenhalter
phuzz@51:The height thing bothered me on that theory also. But, the rogue maester was doing something with Gregor down in the dungeons. Head transplant? Leg shortening? General shrink ray? Maybe or it could just be someone else.

It does seem like GRRM is using (assuming he is) this trope of people not really being dead a bit too often. He's actually using it in a couple fashions.
In story there are a number of people who are assumed by some groups of people to be dead but we know are alive. Arya, Sansa and Bran are in this category.
We know that the particular claim of Rickon being dead is false but we don't know for sure (I don't think we've heard from him) if he is alive or dead from some other reason.
We saw Cat die on screen and then we saw in her current form as a revenant of some sort.
Davos has been claimed to be executed, but I'm not buying that on general principle.
Gregor has been claimed to be dead but under hidden questionable circumstances.
The Hound has just been claimed to be dead in the story but in a method open to interpretation and with a likely candidate available.

It seems like people focus on GRRM killing people off indiscriminately but it seems likely that a number of the deaths are not really dead.
Tabby Alleman
53. Tabbyfl55
Yeah I definitely don't buy that it's Gregor wearing Sandor's helmet.

But I bet there are some fun theories about who it could be...now I know what I'll be googling for the next hour or two! : )
Steven Halter
54. stevenhalter
If GRRM wanted to go completely overboard, the crazed guy wearing the hound helmet could be Robb with the head of his wolf. Or, the wolf with the body of Robb. I think this would be pretty unlikely, but is the most out there theory I can think of at the moment.
Alas, no googling on this for me.
Tabby Alleman
55. Tabbyfl55
Any reason why it shouldn't be Beric? (Haven't googled yet)
Steven Halter
56. stevenhalter
That could be, maybe when Cat was reanimated it drove Beric mad.
It could always be some random insane guy. That would be a bit disappointing though.
MGP
57. Sophist
If you're unspoiled about the Saltpans massacre, don't search for it -- there will be an answer.
MGP
58. Lyanna Mormont
@52 Well, most of those "deaths" can be chalked up to either the unreliable narrator, or the narrator receiving unreliable information. It's not often that we actually "see" a death on the page, only to find out that the person is in fact alive. UnCat, sure - although it's debatable whether her current state counts as alive - and Beric before her. There were the miller's boys that Theon burned to pass the bodies off as Bran and Rickon, but the hints were there that something was up. There was Arya at the Red Wedding with the axe taking her in the back of the head. But mostly there are rumors and assumptions and sometimes outright lies, which all makes perfect sense for a society like Westeros, IMO.


The Hound as the gravedigger is indeed a popular theory. It would be nice if he found peace, wouldn't it? If that is him, I hope he never leaves, or at least never goes back to anyplace where he might be recognized and pulled back into his old world.

Agreed that Jaime has always had more consideration for women as people due to his life being so intertwined with Cersei's. Still, Brienne has built on that by making him consider women as perhaps having honor and being worthy of respect as separate individuals, not just as an extension/mirror image of himself. Before her, he was against torture and rape, sure, but Cersei was pretty much the only woman he cared about as a person.
Chris Nelly
59. Aeryl
I always saw Jaime's initial sexist attitude towards Brienne as not so much being about him being a sexist, but just him trying to goad her, and boy does he know what it is that goads Cersei.

So I saw this as him being engaged with combat with her, hoping to drive her into a procipitous action against him, to take her sword and escape.

And it worked, for a bit.
Tabby Alleman
60. Tabbyfl55
Agree with Aeryl about the reason for Jaime using sexist insults to goad Brienne. If there is a feminist breakthrough in Jaime's arc, it's that he didn't believe that women could be knights, and that his travels with Brienne changed that, and that he came to respect her as a knight, and that that may have contributed to some reawakening in him of what it means to be a knight, like actively protecting the innocent instead of just feeling bad for them while they're being abused.
MGP
61. DougL
@60. Tabbyfl55 Jaime probably didn't believe anyone could be a knight, a bit like Sandor. All Jaime's heroes were dead. Barristan outright rejected him after the Kingslaying thing, but if Barristan had forgiven him, which he might have if Jaime had come clean to his commander, then Jaime would have been a totally different person because Barristan would have mentored him. Hell, he might have ended up in the same place as he did post Brienne.

Too bad Jaime didn't tell anyone, I do think Barristan would have at least stopped spitting on Jaime every time they were same room together.
MGP
62. didis
With Jaime insulting Brienne, what has to be considered is that Brienne herself was constantly insulting Jaime and she actually started first. Calling someone a kingslayer may not seem insulting to us readers, but for Jaime it is no better than anything he told her. Plus Jaime was actually trying to make up with her and all his advances were responded with more insulting from Brienne.
MGP
63. Guest 77
@61 DougL – Good point about Jaime. I am bewildered by which vows Jaime chose to break versus keep. He killed the king but kept his secret - especially from Barristan, a more senior Kings Guard? Imagine how differently Jaime might have evolved. Indeed, what if he had shown Eddard the wildfire stocks beneath a city stuffed with innocent children?

Leigh, I agree there seems to be a great deal more to Elder Brother than we know – both in backstory and possible future developments. He is intriguing.
MGP
64. Lyanna Mormont
@63 - I don't think keeping quiet had anything to do with vows, it was all about Jaime's pride. "Why are they assuming the worst without bothering to look for reasons?" and "Why should I have to explain myself?" He was a spoiled teenaged Lannister, after all.
MGP
65. Sir Corgidwarfdog
@ Lyanna 58 - "The Hound as the gravedigger is indeed a popular theory. It would be nice if he found peace, wouldn't it? If that is him, I hope he never leaves, or at least never goes back to anyplace where he might be recognized and pulled back into his old world."

I agree, although it sounds a little like the plot to Unforgiven so I'm not optimistic.

As always, thanks to Leigh for these enjoyable posts from a longtime lurker.
Rob Munnelly
66. RobMRobM
Sorry to have missed all the fun (again) - work trip and just got back last night.

Jaime - I really enjoy his chapters in AFFC. Really great work, really well done. So sharp, on point and funny in everything he says and does. He demands full defenses in his camp - and given the nearby outlaws, that might well have prevented an attack, even if his men complain. He makes the two ladies feel ok about the death of Merrett by the outlaws even though Jaime destested him. He gives Peck an opportunity to lose his virginity with Pia but demands that he treat her like his bride, with gentleness. He sees the train wreck that is Lancel and immediately considers all of the consequences. Practically perfect in every way. Leigh - nice pick up on Jaime having to tell people to treat peasants well as a governing strategy - funny and too true for too many in Westeros.
Rob Munnelly
67. RobMRobM
Re Brienne - another near perfect chapter. Really global sense of how everything has turned into a feast of crows in actuality as a result of the ongoing war. Very poignant, very powerful, with strong characters telling the story - especially the Eldest Brother. Leigh - great pick up on the gravedigger. I have the same suspicion. Brienne's speech at the end about her father - very akin to a confession- is heartbreaking. Interesting Butlerian commentary on Jaime being influenced by Brienne - nice.
MGP
68. ShanksieBoy
Even after having it pointed out I still don't know if I believe that the gravedigger is Sandor. Granted, there are few people his size, but if the Elder Brother is channeling Obi-Wan Kenobi when talking about the Hound's death, I wouldn't expect him to lie directly about having buried him - but then again, Obi-Wan wasn't sheltering a deserter.
jon meltzer
69. jmeltzer
Perhaps in Later Books we will find The Hound's armor and sword, carefully buried. "True from a certain point of view".
MGP
70. didis
@68 - There is also a point about Sandor's horse. Stranger does not let anyone even touch him except for Sandor and in this chapter we are told that the brothers cannot force the horse to do anything. The question is - how did the brothers even manage to get him to the Isle?
Adam S.
71. MDNY
@9 Aerona- I realized you had asked about the Osney accusation. I think Tyrion made that assumption based on Cersei appointing him to the kingsguard (an elite group of knights who have never had an undistinguished hedge knight like the Kettleblacks on their roster). Yes, Dunk was a hedge knight but he was also one who had the prince Aegon as his squire for years, and became a personal friend of the young king. Osmund just had that he and his brothers openly supported Cersei from the beginning, so Tyrion assumed she was bedding him (knowing better than Jaime how much Cersei uses her sexuality for her own advantage). Of course, all 3 Kettleblacks were planted there by Littlefinger, as we found out last book, but no one seems to have realized this (except possibly Varys, who probably knows but didn't interfere as it apparently suits his purpose of Cersei buggering the kingdom and undermining herself). Roll over to read spoilers.
Bill Stusser
72. billiam
@ 68

My take on it is that the Hound has been burried metaphorically and not literally. The gravedigger is not that man anymore, the Hound has been put behind him, burried in a sense.

@ 58

Like @ 65 says, I'm not sure that we've seen the last of the Hound yet. It reminds me of Lancelot in the movie Excalibur, after he sleeps with Guenevere he goes off and becomes a monk, only coming back to help Arthur in the final battle with the forces of Morgana and Mordred.
MGP
73. Black Dread
I feel like there has to be some kind of symbolism about Stranger being castrated but still angry and violent while the grave digger is calm and silent. It just never lined up in my mind.
MGP
74. Faculty Guy
Leigh, the best analysis I've seen on the causes of rapid change in views of same-sex marriage was in a recent issue of THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY, a moderate-to-liberal publication. The main point that struck me as true was the effect of "coming out" by so many, which resulted in people like me realizing that I had known, worked with, and been buddies for YEARS with folks who were in stable decades-long same-sex partnerships. In the distant past the stereotype of "homosexuals" - and especially gay men - was the bar-cruising one-night-stand coupling. This, of course, does exist but it's not all that clear that it is more prevalent in same-sex than in hetero hooking up.

The forced recognition (as more and more individuals self-identified as gay/lesbian) that same-sex relationships were pretty much as stable and serious as "normal" married couples, together with the scientific evidence that sexuality is genetically determined and thus cannot possibly be condemned as a moral failing, have made effective argument against marriage equality difficult.

Finally, as someone who has worked on a college campus for 37 years, I can tell you that for those under 30 and who are educated, same-sex relations don't even rate an eyeblink. Telling a young and informed adult that homosexuality is "wrong" just gets you a blank stare, as if you had identified yourself as a Martian. Opposing marriage equality puts you on the wrong side of history, and comes close to making you a laughing stock among college students.
Captain Hammer
75. Randalator
@74 Faculty Guy

In the distant past the stereotype of "homosexuals" - and especially gay men - was the bar-cruising one-night-stand coupling.

I'm afraid that's neither distant past nor past at all. At least from my experience this stereotype is still very much alive especially outside of an academic environment.

And even there any casual discussion of non-heterosexual lifestyles will almost inevitably lead to someone voicing the irrational fear of "them gays barely resisting the urge of dry humping you in the locker room" (slightly but actually not at all exaggerated). I think the locker room argument may very well warrant a Godwin's Law equivalent.

Non-heterosexuality may have become a more common sight and be taken more in stride but all the stereotypes are sadly still very much alive if kept more under wraps...
stefan warsink
76. grubber
@71: spoiler alert!
Flagged for mods.
MGP
77. Annara Snow
I discovered this blog a short while ago. First time posting.

Contrary to what someone said in the comments, the Stranger has NOT been castrated. He didn't allow anyone to do that and bit the ear off of the guy who tried to, so they left him alone. That's a huge hint. Not only is it impossible for anyone to get Stranger to the QI without Sandor being alive and there, since Stranger doesn't allow anyone to lead him or ride him other than his master, but the Elder Brother remarks that Stranger's nature is very similar to Sandor's. He is still wild and untamed.

This is a hint that not only is Sandor at the QI as a Gravedigger, but he is going to leave the QI (probably when his leg gets better and when he has an incentive to leave) and go back to the story to play an important role.

I completely disagree about Sandor "finding peace" and that being a fitting ending for him. For starters, he never chose to be on the Quiet Isle. He was brought there when he was badly wounded, and he has nowhere else to go - he is very recognizable, he is a deserter from the Lannister service, and has now been framed for the Saltpans massacre. I don't see how something that he never got to choose - be it good or bad - can ever be a satisfying resolution. Secondly, while I do think "The Hound" persona is "dead" and he will be changed, less angry, less unstable and not prone to violent outbursts, and definitely not nihilistic as he used to be ("save him and gentle the rage inside him" as Sansa prayed during Blackwater), I definitely don't believe that a man like him would make a 180 degree switch in personality and be content to spend the rest of his life as a silent, meek, celibate monk. He won't agree to that any more than Stranger did. He's no Lancel. And ugh, I would hate it if he became a beaten down, prudish religious fanatic that poor Lancel has turned into. But I'm sure he won't.

In addition, there are so many hints of him still having a role to play. From the very fact that people kept talking about him throughout AFFC, and that Sansa is still thinking about him, to Thoros' observation that the Lord of Light was not done with him (what's so important that he had to do, be Arya's caretaker/captor for a while?) to Bran's vision from AGOT, not to mention the entire buildup for the character.

Regarding the many hints that Sandor is the gravedigger, there's also the fact that the Elder Brother knows way too many personal details about Sandor and the state of his mind and soul, the fact that the EB immediately thinks of Sansa when Brienne describes her, and says "Sansa Stark" in a sad voice (I bet he's heard a lot about her...), the above mentioned fact that the Stranger is there, EB's careful use of "the Hound" vs "Sandor Clegane", as well as the gravedigger stopping to pet Dog. We know that Sandor likes dogs, and Dog feels like a very symbolic animal, a wink at the audience. Dog is very big and, amusingly, is called "Dog" just like Sandor was called "the Hound", Septon Meribald previously described Dog as being one's own dog with no master (as Sandor described himself after he left the Lannister service). In the same conversation, Meribald mentioned he had a dog called Hero, and replies to Pod that he wasn't a hero, just a good dog.

That's not the first time GRRM winked at the audience using dogs as symbolic stand-ins for man called "the Hound"; remember the old blind dog Sansa bonded with in the Fingers, whom she stroked and called "you sad old hound" in the same chapter where she mistook Lothor Brune for Sandor when he saved her from being raped by Marillion, and in the same chapter where she ended up having that interesting dream in which she relives her wedding night but with Sandor taking place of Tyrion in the wedding bed, and wakes up with the old blind dog beside her, telling him she wished Lady was there with her (her dead direwolf = her own 'wolf' nature). GRRM really loves using animals symbolically.

Re: Jaime, as others have pointed out, he always detested rape; as a young KG he wanted to protect Rhaella from being raped by her husband the king, and he is generally one of the least misogynistic people in the series (unlike Cersei, who has tons of internalized misogyny).

Re: Osmund Kettleblack. The reason Tyrion thought Cersei was sleeping with him was that someone, I think it was Bronn, told him that Cersei was using not just bribery to get the Kettleblacks in her pocket, but her "second purse" that he could not match and that was unlimited, and that she was flirting with Osmund Kettleblack enough so he would think he had a chance to get into her bed. Tyrion went from there and jumped to the conclusion that she eventually slept with him. It's quite possible that she was flirting with both brothers though she only slept with Osney.
Deana Whitney
78. Braid_Tug
@77: Wow. Thank you for pulling all those dog references together in one place. I had forgotten or overlooked half of them.

Great first post! and welcome to the party.
Simon Ellberger
79. Puntificator
@77:
"Re: Osmund Kettleblack. The reason Tyrion thought Cersei was sleeping with him was that someone, I think it was Bronn, told him that Cersei was using not just bribery to get the Kettleblacks in her pocket"
That was Varys, not Bronn.
Rob Munnelly
80. RobMRobM
Annara - welcome! Nice post.

I've not given much thought to the Hound's ultimate fate, assuming he's on the QI. He could well stay and grow into someone like the Eldest Brother; that could be a satisfying resolution. He could be around and defend the QI if attacked - but I'm not sure how or why it should be attacked. And he could leave to serve some sort of cause, such as helping Sansa with her re-entry to the world or challenging forces associated with his older brother (if there are any left) or with Cersei. I don't have a prediction at this point.
MGP
81. Lupis42
Been very much enjoying the reread so far!

I am, however, going to pick a nit that's been bugging me a bit, which is the assertion that Jamie's self esteem issues vis-a-vis his sword hand.

One thing that I think you've neglected about Jamie and his basing of self worth on fighting ability is that Jamie is (essentially) a child prodigy who rose to the top of his field (sticking them with the pointy end) very young, experienced a bunch of sharp reality shocks and then basically destroyed his reputation.
He's spent the last decade being known as kingslayer and shit-for-honor, and the only reason anyone took him seriously throughout that time is that he's so good at what he does that it's impossible to ignore.
Compared to that, the impact the cultural background level of value placed on stabbity skills makes on him is barely perceptible.

Now the Tarlys, on the other hand...
MGP
82. Dragonriding Moogle
The thing with this series, is that because there are so very many minor characters, I feel like there have been a *lot* of references to things that could be foreshadowing a minor character's return, but in this series--I just don't know. Most series are way more obvious with characters and importance etc. So if a character shows up, it's more clear if they are gone for good.

For instance, in A Clash of Kings, one of the kids Arya travels with for awhile is a girl about 2 or 3 she calls Weasel. Weasel runs off at some point and is never heard from again. Arya uses that name as one of her aliases. In another series, I would be sure there'd be some conclusion for Weasel, she'd make a reapparance or be proven dead. But here, I could see 'she runs off by herself and probably dies' as being the last we see of her--a loose end.

So, with the Hound, I really could see "he stays on the Quiet Isle" as being the end of it, from a story perspective. I don't think it would mean he was like Lancel. It's not the Hound's story, so I don't really think we will necessarily see a huge amount of explanation as to his mental state more than what we already got.

I just can't see a reason to send him there, and then have him come back, for a reason that wouldn't either be pointlessly depressing (he comes back to kill his brother) or incredibly contrived (anything to do with Sansa). I could be wrong, after all--GRRM has surprised me before with plot twists that I wouldn't have expected would work.
MGP
83. Annara Snow
@Dragonriding Moogle: Sandor is not a minor character. It is absurd to compare him to the likes of Weasel. He's certainly in the top 20-25 characters in the series and has had much more development and prominence that some of the later introduced POVs. Unless your definition of "minor character" is "anyone who is not Dany, a POV Stark, or one of the Lannister siblings".

Heck, the other characters spend 70% of AFFC talking about or thinking about him. That would really seem like a colossal waste of space if he is not going to return.

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