Aug 14 2014 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 26

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 26 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 36 (“Cersei”).

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

And now, the post!

Short shameless plug before we begin: The Wheel of Time Reread Redux starts up next week! Come and play! It will be all kinds of self-reflexive fun!


Chapter 36: Cersei

What Happens
Aurane Waters comes to Cersei and reports that Dragonstone has fallen, but that Ser Loras made it a slaughter, of mostly their own men, and that Loras himself is now dying of his wounds. Cersei expresses sorrow, but is privately well pleased, and makes a point of breaking the news to Margaery herself. Margaery insists that dying is not dead, and kicks Cersei out, and Cersei is cheered enough by her pain that she lets the insult pass.

The next day she meets with a Tyroshi man who claims to have the head of the Imp (who he says his people call “Redhands,” for the blood on them), but Cersei sees it is an old dwarf’s head with the nose cut off, and sends the man to Qyburn to have the same done to him. Three others come with tales of Tyrion’s whereabouts (a brothel in Oldtown, a mummer’s show in Braavos, a hermit in the riverlands), but Cersei believes none of them. Taena proposes they disguise themselves as serving girls and see the sights in the city, and tells of a conjurer who can supposedly turn girls into boys, but Cersei declines.

At court, she refuses Prince Jalabhar Xho’s petition for arms to help him regain Red Flower Vale, and then refuses to intercede on behalf of a group of merchants on their Braavosi debts. A delegation of the new Warrior’s Sons come to her (Lancel is included in their number), and Cersei is angered that the High Septon elected to preach to the brothels instead of answering her summons himself. Cersei tells Septon Raynard that the whores are vital for trade and taxes, and tells Raynard to tell the High Septon to cease interfering with them. Pycelle comes to report that Lord Gyles Rosby is dying, and Cersei implies that Pycelle is helping him die, and tells him to tell Rosby that he does not have her permission to die.

She has dinner with Tommen, who is grieving over the news about Loras. Tommen says Margaery says he should go to court with Cersei more often, and Cersei snaps that she’d like to tear Margaery’s tongue out. To her surprise, Tommen shouts at her that he forbids Cersei from touching Margaery, and Cersei drags him to Boros Blount and orders that Tommen be made to punish his whipping boy Pate himself this time, until Pate bleeds, or she will have Qyburn cut out Pate’s tongue.

That night she dreams of the day she and her two maids went to see Maggy the Frog, and rousted the old woman from her bed and demanded their fortunes. Jeyne Farman had fled the tent when she woke, but Cersei and Melara had stayed; Cersei reflects that Jeyne is alive and well today, married with a dozen children. Maggy had tasted Cersei’s blood and answered three questions. Cersei asked when she will wed the prince; Maggy answered that she will never wed the prince, but the king. Confused, Cersei asked if she would be the queen, and Maggy answered yes, “until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.” Cersei declared her brother will kill anyone who tried, and asked if she and the king will have children. Maggy answered yes: sixteen for him, and three for her.

“Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds,” she said. “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”

Cersei had been angered and tried to leave, but Melara had insisted on her fortune, and Maggy told her she would die before wedding any man. In Cersei’s dream, the memory becomes Tyrion strangling her, and wakes gasping. She sends for Pycelle, and demands something stronger than wine to help her sleep without dreams. Then she asks whether the maesters believe the future can be foretold. Pycelle says maybe, but that he does not believe they should be.

The next she asks Qyburn about Lady Falyse, thinking perhaps of sending her back to take power from Lollys (i.e. Bronn), but Qyburn tells her Falyse is no longer in a state to rule Stokeworth, or indeed to feed herself, but he has “learned a great deal from her.” Cersei tells herself there in no point in regretting things past.

She tells him about her dream about Maggy and her prophecies, and how some of them have already come true. She wants to know if prophecies can be averted. Qyburn surmises that “Maggy” was a corruption of “Maegi,” and says that they can be averted, and she knows how. Cersei reflects on how she should go about killing Margaery, and thinks she must frame the girl in such a way that even her father would not object to her execution. The next day she asks Ser Osmund whether his brother Osney could defeat Ser Boros Blount in combat.

“Boros the Belly?” Ser Osmund chortled. “He’s what, forty? Fifty? Half-drunk half the time, fat even when he’s sober. If he ever had a taste for battle, he’s lost it. Aye, Your Grace, if Ser Boros wants for killing, Osney could do it easy enough. Why? Has Boros done some treason?”

“No,” she said. But Osney has.

Well, it’s not like I’m terribly surprised that Cersei is now stooping to assassinate her own son’s wife; considering what she was willing to do to a putative ally and friend like Falyse (even if only by proxy), the only real surprise is that it’s taken this long. Especially given that she’s had that prophecy hanging over her head this entire time. Which we have FINALLY now had explicated to us in full, THANK YOU, I have only been waiting FOREVER over here. Sheesh.

Of course, I’m thinking that the “younger and more beautiful queen” in question here is actually Daenerys, because (a) prophecies never mean what their subjects think they’re going to mean, and (b) since I assume that at some point Dany is actually going to get around to invading Westeros (seriously, any day now. ANY DAY, GIRL), it follows fairly logically that she would be the one to “cast Cersei down.”

If I’m right, that suggests that Dany’s conquest plans are going to be at least partially successful, which is… good? I guess? I dunno; I’ve kind of been perpetually on the fence about whether restoring the Targaryens to the throne is a good idea or not. Even if Dany herself would be a good ruler (which is something you could probably have a debate about, honestly, but on balance she would probably suck a hell of a lot less than most of these assclowns, so okay), I still say that having congenital madness in the royal family line makes for a bad outlook, dynastically. As we have seen.

That said, I think most of my lingering objection to the idea is actually more due to the way I forlornly cling like a baby monkey to the idea that somehow one of the Starks will make a comeback and kick all the ass and take the throne instead. That seems fairly bloody unlikely at the moment, but seriously, how awesome would it be if the prophecy referred to Sansa instead of Dany? So awesome, y’all.

Either way, it doesn’t bode well for Margaery at all, which is a shame, because I like her a lot—what little I know of her, anyway. Cersei may be incompetent in a lot of ways, but as of yet it is still a really bad idea to get in her crosshairs. As Falyse could probably testify, if she weren’t, you know, apparently a mangled drooling wreck of a human being that I absolutely do NOT want to contemplate about. Ugh. Can’t Qyburn fall down a sewer grate in the dungeons or something and die? Like, now? I would like that to happen now, please. I repeat: UGH.

Soooo, I’m presuming the idea here is to have Osney kill Boros and blame it on Margaery somehow? Like as if to cover up her and Osney’s supposed affair? That seems… convoluted. Plus I’m not really sure how this is going to be made to seem enough Margaery’s fault to warrant her execution, even if the presumption is that she sent Osney to kill Boros. I mean, she’s a queen; judging from every other monarchal personage we’ve come across in this series, having people killed is, like, just one more bullet point on your itemized Royal Shitty Things To Do list.

Unless of course adultery on the queen’s part is automatic grounds for execution, which both doesn’t seem all that farfetched and also is so screamingly hypocritical and double standard-y it makes me want to punch something. Sixteen bastards for Robert and a beheading for Margaery? WHATEVER. (And yes, I get the reasons why. Doesn’t change my opinion that it is bullshit. If wives don’t get to cheat neither should husbands. Yeah, me and my crazy notions.)

“I bring you justice. I bring you the head of your valonqar.”

The old Valyrian word sent a chill through her, though it also gave her a tingle of hope. “The Imp is no longer my brother, if he ever was,” she declared.

So valonqar means “brother”? Well, okay then. I’m sure this would be very interesting news if I could remember where and in what context I’d heard that term used before. I think it might have been used around/in reference to Arya? Which suggests that maybe it’s a more gender-neutral term like “sibling.”

But again, operating on the fairly safe premise that prophecies have a terminal allergy to adhering to initial interpretations of them, I’m not sure that this prophecy refers to Tyrion, either. Or Jaime (though wouldn’t that be interesting if it did). But Maggy said “the valonqar,” not “your valonqar,” which is kind of a weird way to phrase it if it refers to one of Cersei’s actual brothers, so maybe the term carries more than one meaning, like “brotherhood.” Or “assassin.” Which would make my vague remembrances of this term being associated with Arya and the crazy death cult/assassin people make much more sense. Too bad Maggy specifically said “he” in the prophecy, because otherwise I’d be rooting for it to be Arya who does the deed.

But at least we know that Cersei is very unlikely to live a long life and die peacefully of old age. I would call that justice, except that Maggy’s prophecy also suggests that none of Cersei’s children will live very long (and also that Myrcella will get her own crown before getting her “gold shroud”). Which is just about the opposite of justice. Those poor kids.

“Is the whole world overrun with these twisted little monsters?” [Cersei] complained, whilst the last of the informers was being ushered out. “How many of them can there be?”

“Fewer than there were,” said Lady Merryweather.



Oh, and just for purposes of irony, I bet that one of those informers’ stories about Tyrion’s whereabouts is actually correct. The one about a mummer’s show in Braavos caught my attention, mainly because we just read about a mummer’s show in Braavos. Although I don’t recall Cat/Arya mentioning that any of her mummers were a scarred dwarf type. But then, it’s not like there’s only one mummer troupe in all of Braavos.

(Mummer, mummer, mummer. Word gets weirder and weirder the more I type it. Mummermummermummer)

Although honestly, being a street actor (mummer!) seems awfully high-profile for someone as visually distinctive as Tyrion. There’s hiding in plain sight, and then there’s being insane. So maybe the hermit option is the correct one. (I sincerely doubt Tyrion is in a brothel. Or at least, I doubt he would actually be turning tricks in one. Or at least I hope not, jeez.)

Speaking of brothels, I love that Cersei does not even realize how much fire she is playing with re: the High Septon. Protip: if you’re going to insult a zealot’s faith, honey, don’t hand them a sword first. You moron.

In other news, I rather blinked at how swiftly and, er, off-screen-ly the whole Dragonstone thing was apparently resolved. I’d kind of expected that to drag out a lot more, but apparently Loras was in a hurry. And paid for it too, evidently. He was doused with boiling oil? Eek. It’s terrible, but the first thing I thought when I read that was, “well, I guess he’s not gonna be the prettiest knight at the tourney anymore.” ‘Cause yeah, no. Assuming he survives, of course. Which for some reason I rather think he will.

At least if Margaery has anything to say about it. Speaking of whom, I have to give girl infinite kudos on her apparently iron self-control, because I do not even know how she kept herself from bitchslapping Cersei into next week when she came to “commiserate” with her over Loras. I do not think I would have been able to stop myself if it had been me.

And on that highly satisfactory mental image, we out! Have a thing with the guy at the place, and I’ll see you next week!

1. DougL
Cersei doesn't even feel the slightest twinge of guilt at Falyse's fate. She is a very, very horrible person. She also doens't feel guilty that dwarves around the world are in danger, so she sucks sooooo much. I hate her.
2. beastofman
So what's up with Ser Loras, does he have a death wish or is he just dumb? Let's look at his track record, shall we? We first hear of him at the Tournament of the Hand where he tilts against the Mountain with a mare in heat, which is acknowledged as a dick move. He also loses to Brieanne, which is understandable because she is awesome, but he still lost. After Renly is killed, he kills the two guards in his rage, which is pretty stupid. Then of course now we see that his actions not only got himself mortally wounded but also cost the lives of many of his men. So. Stupid?

UNLESS... he's not really injured. We're hearing this second hand and I don't think Waters is the most trustworthy fellow (he originally supported Stannis after all). And how can he serach for dragon eggs if he's injured? Hmmmm... Also, all those men who supposedly died? maybe they're not dead- maybe it's a secret army. Come on! It could happen.

Speaking of stupid. Here's a lesson: Don't wake up old witches for fortune telling. Which brings up another question: When does a prophecy become self-fullfilling? The first part of the prophecy suggests that Cersi and Robert will not share children. Obviously Robert was a pig and no one would blame her for not wanting to bear his children, but it is true that she herself took action to keep that from happening and also slept with her brother to produce golden-haired Flowers in the Attic babies. She fullfilled that part of the prophecy by her own hand (no pun intended.)

So now are we seeing the the beginning of Cersi screwing up the the Margary situation to the point where the young Queen will come out on top in their little conflict? And let's think about the valonqar. Cersi assumed it was Tyrion and therefore treated him like crap throughout their lives, essentially creating a brother who hates her, but what if it isn't Tyrion who eventually kills her. What if it is Jamie? Hasn't she pretty much created him by their life-long incestous relationship?

I also like the two different answers she gets from Pycelle and Qyburn. Pycelle: Well we don't really know, blah blah blah. Qyburn: Oh, this sh*t's for real. (I think this will be a theme)
Chris Nelly
3. Aeryl
Too bad Maggy specifically said “he”

Ah, but remember Aemon, who said the "Prince that was Promised" prophecy may have been misinterpreted because people assigning genders in Valyrian. Maggy may have just had a lesser education in Valyrian, and assumed valonqar meant brother not sibling. We don't exactly know what she saw when she tasted their blood to establish it for sure.
4. Lyanna Mormont
I don't remember the word "valonqar" being used in any context except Cersei's memories. Not that my memory is perfect, given how long it's been since I read some of this...

Yes, it was high time we got the full prophecy. It does put a different kind of light on Cersei's absolute conviction that is was Tyrion who killed Joffrey, and her descent ever since. She'd probably convinced herself the prophecy was so much BS (or maybe even suppressed it altogether) despite little details like marrying the king and the number of kids. But then Joffrey dies, right in front of her, and Tyrion is standing there holding the cup... Yeah. Worst nightmare come true, and the terrible fear that it's only the beginning. Add a pretty young queen like Margaery stealing Tommen's affections away from her, the death of her worshipped-and-hated father, Tyrion on the loose with nobody knowing where, a growing distance from her twin/lover, lots of alcohol, and nearly unlimited power falling into her hands. There's just no way that could've turned out well.
Sky Thibedeau
6. SkylarkThibedeau
Tommen is probably the most decent person in Westeros. He reminds me of Aegon the Unlikely. I'll be sad if Maggy's prediction comes thru.
7. MidnightFox
No commnets on how Cersei makes her own son touture another little boy. How to turn you kid into a sociopath 101 taught by House Lannister.
Rob Munnelly
8. RobMRobM
Remember that Cersei teed up Loras by saying no help from the Crown re the Ironborn pirates ravaging near Highgarten unless and until Dragonstone fell. Loras immediately had to jump to the front of the danger line to get that done and save his family, unfortunately with a side helping of oil.
9. Joshua B.
Oh and now we are coming down the homestretch. The last handful of chapters in "A Feast of Crows" are possibly my favorite stretch of chapters in the series.

Chapters like this are fun to read. As the reader--as Leigh has expertly laid out in her summary and analysis--you can see, obviously, that things are beginning to unravel for Cersei. Her missteps are beginning to add up and continue to fester. Meanwhile, she struts around triumphantly. Completely unaware of the wildfire she is spraying on the flame. Awesome.
10. Eudia
Too bad Maggy specifically said “he” in the prophecy, because otherwise I’d be rooting for it to be Arya who does the deed.
Doesn't Jaqen H'gar assume any form he wants as a "faceless man?" Isn't that the click Arya has allied herself with? Can "the faceless" assume any gender as well (ie, could it still BE Arya)?
Rob Munnelly
11. RobMRobM
I love that Qyburn is such a maniac but a learned one - who picks up that Maggy may very well mean Maegi. That's a scary term, especially when blood magic is involved, as Dany learned in AGOT from Ms. Maz Dur.
Adam S.
12. MDNY
Thanks for another entertaining read, Leigh!
So, not that much happened in this chapter. We found out about the Dragonstone battle (which, unfortunately, worked out perfectly for Cersei because both Stannis and the Tyrells suffered), we found out more ickiness re: Qyburn, and had to suffer being in Cersei's terrible head more. The one real redeeming aspect of this chapter is the full info re: Maggy the Frog's prophecy.
Yes, I immediately assumed that Dany is the "younger and more beautiful" queen that will rip away all Cersei holds dear. But first, Cersei's children will all be crowned and then killed, which makes me sad. While I was high-fiving with the rest of the world at Joff's death, I really like Tommen a lot, and it makes me sad to think that he'll be killed before all is said and done. And Myrcella seems like a good kid, too, a proper little girl who fell for Arianne's queening ploy and has already suffered. I don't want either of those little kids to be killed, but apparently that's what GRRM has in store, becuause blood magic prophecy seems to be pretty real in this world. The 16 children for Robert and 3 for Cersei seems like pretty convicing confirmation of Maggy's prophetic ability, as does Melara's subsequent death.
Interesting background on Maggy the Maegi: she was married to an "upjumped" merchant: this refers to the Spicers, the family of knights that serve the Lannisters, and who are related to Robb's wife, Jeyne (Jeyne is descended from Maggy, in other words).
13. tg12
I know it's fashionable in some quarters to kvetch about the Maggy prophecy, but I've always loved it, not least because it explicitly echoes (stylistically) the dream-remembrance Ned Stark has of the Tower of Joy, back in book one ("She dreamt an old dream"; "They were three in the dream, as they had been in life").

Also, yes, this chapter continues to demonstrate how Cersei is an awful human being (making her son complicit in another boy's torture? Nice.), while teeing up the tableau for the end game of the King's Landing plot in this book...
14. Jeff R.
Jaime is a bit underequiped to fulfill the Valonqar prophecy, isn't he? 'Wrap his HANDS around your pale white throat' and all. The gold one is worse than useless for that, and the literal words prohibit one-handed choking even if he does build up enough off-hand strength to but up to the task.
something something
15. Minstral

It looks like a callback to the time of AGOT when Loras asked Ned for command of the forces to bring Clegane to answer for the reaving in the Riverlands. But Ned picked Beric the undead outlaw.

Either way, yes the agreement that the Tyrells and Cersei seemingly struck up was that the Redwyne fleet would be released from their duties against Dragonstone once the castle had fallen. Cersei even makes remarks that Euron and his fleet really are acting as conquerors and the Reachmen can't do a thing but adopt static defenses.
Sasha P
16. AeronaGreenjoy
God, Cersei’s horrible. More creative than Victarion, stupider than Euron, less subtle than Littlefinger, and more self-righteous than many of the other scumbags we’ve met.

Yeah, if Joffrey was also forced to whip a blameless kid back in the day, I bet he came to enjoy that “punishment.”

Thoughts on her belief that men without access to prostitutes commit more (illegal forms of) rape? If rape is an act of domination and cruelty instead of sexual need/desire – as it was for her in her previous chapter! – the presence of prostitutes won’t necessarily reduce it…just provide sanctioned targets.

The dwarf-head scene is a semi-realistic way to tell readers the meaning of “valonquar.” Clever, GRRM.
Rob Munnelly
17. RobMRobM
You are correct: Cersei's plot re Osney and Boros is very straightforward IF adultery by the Queen is a capital offense. Frame Margaery for that crime and then .... what happens next?
Deana Whitney
18. Braid_Tug
@2 & 8: But it still seems like Loras has anger management / control issues. He’s also 19 (or so), and teenage boys are notorious for impulsive moves that ultimately prove to be bad ideas. Either for themselves or those around them. Otherwise YouTube wouldn’t have half the stupid crap that it shows.

And this is where we see Cersei being totally selfish and un-reflective. Real consequences are coming out about her bad decisions, and she’s totally still thinking about herself and not giving a moment’s thought about what they mean in the larger picture. Idiot!
George Jong
19. IndependentGeorge
I am actually rather irritated with the whole valonqar prophecy. I think it actually detracts from Cersei's character, and it's a rather paltry payoff to something that (1) came out of nowhere in FFC, and (2) suddenly loomed huge in Cersei's mind, and (3) makes her motivations generally less interesting. Cersei being paranoid about Tyrion because he was prophesized to kill her is far less compelling to me than a Cersei being paranoid about him for the more mundane reasons we'd seen for three books.

I like the off-hand mention of the merchants losing their credit with the Iron Bank. It hints at a realistaclly looming problem - Westeros is dependant on merchants for short-term liquidity, and stiffing the Iron Bank is causing a massive capital crunch - which Cersei doesn't truly comprehend, but the reader can. It actually goes well beyond Cersei, too - once again, the warrior-obsessed nobles don't understand something outside their socially-conditioned interests, to their detriment. It's the kind of thing Littlefinger has made his career on exploiting.
Sanne Jense
20. Cassanne
I hope it's Tommen. She's sure pushing him in that direction. And the whipping boy is yet another horror story in the background. Poor Pate, I wish he was allowed to tell his story. But imagine being Joffreys whipping boy... *shudders*
21. Insomnia333
@16 Actually there is evedence that legal prostitution does result in few rapes. Rhode Island accidentally legalized prostitution in 1980 due to a poorly worded statute. This wasn't discovered until 2003 and legislators then closed the loophole in 2009. So for 6 years it was legal and researchers found that the instances of rape went down 31% and even std's among women went down 39% (Link)
Now that the loophole has been closed it will be interesting to see what happens to those numbers.
Chris Nelly
22. Aeryl
@19, I think this

(1) came out of nowhere in FFC, and (2) suddenly loomed huge in Cersei's mind

is a bit unfair. We didn't get a POV on Cersei until FFC, so we don't know that it "came out of nowhere" or that it "suddenly loomed huge" in her mind.

I understand that it feels a bit like a cheat, because we'd seen enough of the other POVs from other POVs to see some stuff coming. We didn't feel cheated when we learned that Jaime was truly besotted with Cersei, because we'd seen enough to know that. Or when we learned that Theon was as snivelling and cowardly as percieved him to be.

But we feel cheated with Cersei, because there were no previous intimations that this is what was in her head.

Which is why I think it's brilliant, because all that stuff was just "Cersei Cray Cray Y'all" actually has a root in something that happened to her. And it's not even something that terrible, comparatively speaking.

It adds to Cersei's character, not detracts from it, which is why I like it.
Peter Stone
23. Peter1742
About Loras's attack on Dragonstone:

•I think Loras has been semi-suicidal since Renly died.

•The thousand men who died weren't Loras's men, but mainly forces loyal to King Tommen (and thus Queen Cersei). Cersei is in a much weeker position now.

I think Loras's assault went nearly exactly according to his plan.
Adam S.
24. MDNY
Re: Loras' attack on Dragonstone: remember that Loras now believes Brienne about a shadow killing Renly, the love of his life. So Loras has added incentive for wanting to slaugher Stannis' men, not just taking Dragonstone to free the Redwyne fleet. Loras would love to slaughter Stannis' forces and eventually Stannis himself (which seems unlikely, now).
Sky Thibedeau
25. SkylarkThibedeau
I'm wondering if the 'Little Brother" in the Prophesy will be Rickon Stark?
26. Ryamano
a mummer’s show in Braavos

Like Cadsuane would say: Phaw!
Michael Rosenberg
27. msr
It's very subtle, but reading between the lines in this chapter there's perhaps reason to believe that Cersei actually murdered her "friend" (bed companion) Melara. The prophecy about Melara is that she is going to die a virgin..."Your death is here tonight, little one. Can you smell her breath? She is very close." Note that use of the feminine pronoun, perhaps indicating that Cersei, standing right next to Melara, is her death.

A few pages later Cersei mentions that Melara fell down a well and drowned (if the prophecy is to be believed, on the *very* same night), followed by a memory about Melara begging her to never talk about the prophecy, thinking that if they never spoke of it, it would never come true. "The both of them had been so young, that had almost sounded wise." Perhaps Cersei decided that Melara was right and took the extra step of guaranteeing she would never speak of it (a "three can keep a secret if two are dead" sort of move.)

It's not definitive by any means, but certainly keeping within Cersei's character, even as a child.
Irene Hipo
28. zambi76
So what's up with Ser Loras, does he have a death wish or is he just dumb?
Why not both?/jpg

As a Loras fanatic I really love the Tyrell conspirancy theories floating around fandom, but I do not longer believe in them. Yes, there is something fishy about Aurane's Dragonstone tale, but I think he probably just exaggarated greatly, when he saw how happy Cersei is made by the news. Loras trying to commit suicide after Renly's death (his sun having set) in this way would not be out of character. Of course GRRM is having none of that. Smiled when reading Leigh immediately thought Loras will live (if extra crispy), because I'm also still of the opinion he will be one of the last men standing. The HBO show will be of not much help next season in bringing light into this as it seems (show!Loras= book!Willas for reals now.)

Cersei is just da bomb. Will probably prove nuclear for Kings Landing. Most people in fandom think Jaime is the valonquar, but I always found that idea horrible cheesy. I like Loras, Stannis or Arya in disguise much more over that. I think the younger queen is indeed Margaery, but just because Cersei makes it so.
Sasha P
29. AeronaGreenjoy
@27 Whited out just to be safe:

((((If "your death" = Cersei, "your death is with you tonight" doesn't necessarily mean that Melara would be killed that night, but that Cersei was with her that night and would soon kill her. )))
30. Annara Snow
Lots of people have speculated that the younger, more beautiful queen will be Sansa. It's the second most popular theory about this, after the most obvious one, that it will be Dany.

However, I'm certainly not rooting for Sansa, or any other Stark, to take the Iron Throne, nor can I see it happening. None of them is interested in it, and they don't have any claim we know of (well, unless you cound Jon, though I don't think he is going to be the king on the IT, either). Sansa's childish desire to marry the prince, be the queen and live in King's Landing has evaporated long, long time ago. She can't take the IT for herself anyway, as she has no claim; the only way she could be the queen of the Seven Kingdoms would be if she married some dude with a claim (real or perceived). That's not what she currently wants at all - given her feelings on political marriages we've learned from ASOS, and she doesn't want to go back to KL, she wants to go home to Winterfell; it's not where I see her story going, and it's definitely not something I would want for her. Being the wife of the king is not really "taking the throne" - the king has the real power, and the queen is obliged to have sex with him and give him children however she feels about it, and, as you've pointed out, has no right to choose to have sex with anyone else, even though the king may be sleeping around openly all the time. Cersei has broken a lot of those rules, but she couldn't do it openly, or else she would have been executed for treason; and she still had to put up with Robert's sexual and physical abuse for many years.

If Sansa is to be a queen, I would much rather she becomes the Queen in the North, since she does have a claim as herself, and since she wants to go back home.

@7- Tommen is not going to be becoming a sociopath by his mother forcing him to whip another boy. That's not how it works. It's not like she's going to change his personality and make him start enjoying violence and having no conscience. But it's incredibly disturbing that she's abusing her son by forcing him to abuse someone else. Shows that Cersei does have a lot in common (at least when it comes to cruelty) with Tywin, who sexually abused Tyrion by forcing him to participate in the gang rape of Tysha.

@10 - No. As far as we know, the FMs can only change their face, not gender, height, size or body type.
George Jong
31. IndependentGeorge
@22 -
Which is why I think it's brilliant, because all that stuff was just "Cersei Cray Cray Y'all" actually has a root in something that happened to her. And it's not even something that terrible, comparatively speaking.

It adds to Cersei's character, not detracts from it, which is why I like it.
My problem is that something terrible did, in fact, happen to her: her son and father were murdered within days of eacher other. Worse, she witnessed the former firsthand, and got a good first-hand look at the crime scene on the latter.

Combined with the stress of ruling and her alcoholism, there was already more than enough to explain her descent into cray-cray. That Tyrion was innocent of Joffrey's death is irrelevant - the evidence against him was so overwhelming that nearly everybody in-universe should be convinced. Combined with his threat to personally rape Tommen back in COK, and her blaming him for her mother's death, we've got plenty of reason for Cersei to obsess over Tyrion without introducing a new mystical one.

I think it detracts from her character because a Cersei who gradually becomes obsessive and paranoid about the Tyrion for justifiable (but wrong) reasons is much more interesting than a sociopathic Cersei fixated on a twenty year-old prophecy the reader only learned about recently.

By itself, it might not be so bad, but with so much of Cersei in FFC being over-the-top evil, the prophecy just makes it too much supervillain origin story as opposed to gradual, accumulated psychological trauma. Instead of all the stuff with Maester Mengele, I'd have rather read about Cersei devoting more and more resources and attention to root out Tyrion at the expense of the realm's more immediate problems.
32. Halibulu
The mention of Falyse not being in "a state to even feed herself" has me picturing Qyburn forming his own giant human centipede in the dungeons, and now I'm all kinds of grossed out.
Scott Silver
33. hihosilver28
Does anyone else think that the "gold shall be their crowns" line imply simply that they'll have golden hair? As in that they won't be hers and Robert's but hers and Jaime's? It seems like a possibility to me.
34. Ryamano
@30 We haven't seem a Faceless Man change gender, but we have seem one kind of change body size or age. The waif that Arya practices lying with says she's 30 or something like that, when she looks as old as Arya. And apparently that wasn't one of the lies she told. So I wonder if the FM can change their age and body size for real and if Arya can learn that ability.
George Jong
35. IndependentGeorge
@30 - for those who believe Sansa is the younger, more beautiful Queen, most people believe she'll be Queen in the North and not the Queen of Westeros. The prophecy just says Cersei will be cast down and lose all she holds dear - not that this Queen will take her place on the Iron Throne.
Deana Whitney
36. Braid_Tug
@32: Thanks, now I am too.

I've really tried to avoid all assoicaiton with that term and movies since I heard about it on the radio.
Marty Beck
37. martytargaryen
@33 - That was my first thought too, on rereading this time.
Chris Nelly
38. Aeryl
we've got plenty of reason for Cersei to obsess over Tyrion without introducing a new mystical one.

But none which explains why her animosity and fear of him goes back to before he did any of those things. Cersei inminity towards Tyrion has always been confusing to me, because we ALL saw that Tyrion was devoted to his family, everything he did in AGOT, ACOK, and ASOS was to further his family's ambitions. Yet, none of it was ever good enough for Cersei, who worked to spite him at every turn, for no reason.

If Cersei's attitude towards Tyrion had suddenly shifted, I'd say you have a point that we have seen all we need to see to explain her behavior. But it didn't shift, it deepened, as her lifelong fear about the prophecy came to fruition.

Instead of all the stuff with Maester Mengele, I'd have rather read
about Cersei devoting more and more resources and attention to root out Tyrion at the expense of the realm's more immediate problems.

I think we get plenty of how Cersei's paranoia over Tyrion is crippling the realm, along with the Maester Mengele, who is horrifying yes, but I think ultimately important too.
Michael Rosenberg
39. msr
@38 Remember, though, that Cersei's hatred of Tyrion (if not her fear) goes back to his birth. She blames him for killing her mother. The story of that is told by Oberyn when he first meets Tyrion.
40. andrewrm
For the whole "crowned with gold" thing, I always read that as a reference to the hair color of her kids, and Lannisters in general, who have golden hair. Especially when juxtaposed with the uniformly black hair of Baratheon's and "true" Starks, or the brown hair of Tully's, or the silver-gold of Targaryens. Phenotypes are kind of a big thing for GRRM, eh?
41. Lyanna Mormont
@ 33, 37, 40 - It's certainly possible, IMO, but there's still the "gold their shrouds" part. I suspect that's suggesting something other than simply being blond...
42. Annara Snow
#34 That doesn't mean she's changing her size. Many adults are simply very short and the Waif could be physically small and skinny. She just has to change her face to look younger.

#35 Yes, that's what I said. But I got the impression that Leigh meant for Sansa to take the Iron Throne, because she wrote: "I forlornly cling like a baby monkey to the idea that somehow one of the Starks will make a comeback and kick all the ass and take the throne instead." "The throne" in this context seems to mean the Iron Throne; otherwise it would be more natural to say "a Stark to become the King/Queen in the North".
43. Annara Snow
#40 - The Stark look means brown hair, not black, while the Tullys have auburn hair.

Anyway, we know that they don't all have uniform looks inherited patrilinearly - e.g. some Targaryens with Martell mothers had dark hair, 4 out of 5 children of Ned and Catelyn have auburn hair and blue eyes aka the "Tully look" etc.
44. DougL
Leigh, read Alan Bradley, the Buckshaw Chronicles or start at Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I think you will get a huge kick out of it.
Chris Nelly
45. Aeryl
@39, Exactly, the hate I get, the fear I did not. And most well adjusted people would have overcome their hatred of an innocent child, but Cersei never did. Obviously this prophecy played a part in that, that's why I like it.
Sky Thibedeau
46. SkylarkThibedeau
I also had a more out of left field thought that the more beautiful queen might be Jayne Westerling, Robb's wife.
George Jong
47. IndependentGeorge
@45 - but was she ever afraid of him before COK (when he became Hand)? I can totally buy her emulating Tywin in his disdain for Tyrion in spite of the evidence before her eyes; we were never in her head until now, but I don't think she ever showed any fear of him until he threatened to rape Tommen. Which, let's be honest, would scare the crap out of anyone.
Joe Vondracek
48. joev
Yeah, Cersei hated Tyrion long before she heard the prophecy. She extracted from the prophecy a narrative to fit her own preconception about him.

I "love" Cersei's thought that if her father could see her, he'd recognize Cersei as his heir apparent. As much of a shit as he was, he'd still be appalled at her idiotic maneuvers, but she's too self-delusional to see that. How are her arms not in splints from incessantly patting herself on the back??

Ugh, Cersei. Feed her to the Others, I say.
Joe Vondracek
49. joev
Pretty sure that the Kindly Man said that the Waif was "stunted" because of poisons, probably both the ones her stepmom gave her and the ones that she works with.
Chris Nelly
50. Aeryl
@47, Perhaps it's the show coloring my perception here, but I say yes, she did fear him. She feared him because he knew the truth about she and Jaime, she feared that Jaime would choose him over her. And what is hate, aside from fear? We know she "hated what he did to mother", but that's a childish hate. What she has now is more deep seated, and rooted in a long standing fear that I don't think she was even aware of, until Joffrey's death.
Tabby Alleman
51. Tabbyfl55
I guess Valonqar could mean brother or sibling, but I immediately took it to mean "nemesis".
Jessica Trevino
52. Ciella
Just had a random thought after reading this. Could the Younger Queen be Cercei herself? All of her past mistakes coming back to bite her in the ass? It would be the younger, more beautiful version of herself that does all of it, as she gets older and less beautiful (though mostly metaphorically) every day.
53. Darth Rilian
Regarding this:
Which we have FINALLY now had explicated to us in full, THANK YOU, I have only been waiting FOREVER over here. Sheesh.
If you did more than a single chapter a week 80% of the time, you would not have waited nearly as long... I realize there may be some incentive from The Powers That Be at Tor to drag out this Read as long as possible (ad revenue), and also considering you're on book four and we are still waiting on the sixth book of a seven-to-eight-book series to be published (and presumably Tor doesn't want the Read to go on hiatus while waiting for new material). But you are doing yourself, and the Read readers, a disservice with this plodding pace. It's a difficult enough series to follow (from the myriad characters and plot minutiae) without doing it in a weekly format. Reading one chapter a week most of the time only compounds the problem, and significantly so when crucial details are forgotten due to the lapse of time. And considering the first few books in the Read were full of two- and sometimes three-chapter weeks, I struggle to understand the change of direction/pace over the course of the last book and a half. It would be a much better experience, for all involved, to complete the available books faster, and allow a minor refresher at the publication of the next book in the series.

I'm still a huge fan. Just tired of logging in every week to be disappointed with yet another single-chapter Read.
Nathan Martin
54. lerris
I would wonder, given Tywin's last scene, just how many siblings Cersei has that she doesn't know about.
55. Owlay
Leigh, here's an author whose works you should definitely do a Read of. Since his name is not widely (if at all) known in both Tor and general literary circles, I'll shout it out loud:


There, I've said it. Thanks for your attention. If not you, then maybe hopefully somebody else in Tor will do this Read.
56. Crusader75
@23 - I hope that plan was better in Loras's head. Boiling oil seems a horrific way to die and possibly a worse thing to survive.
Sasha P
57. AeronaGreenjoy
The word "valonquar" appeared in Cersei's first AFFC chapter, when Leigh suggested that it meant "dude what killed my dad inna toilet."

"Never wake a sleeping sorceress" reminds me of the Hogwarts slogan "Never tickle a sleeping dragon" (aka Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus).

Also, "Run, you little fools!"
58. lfb
@53 - You are (of course) assuming that GRRM will get around to finishing the series in his lifetime.

59. Darth Rilian
@58 - Haha. Not assuming, just hoping. I have avoided WOT thus far in life because for some reason I am just really put off by not having the author complete his own work (I know an esteemed colleague finished WOT, but it's just not the same). However I couldn't resist the massive popularity the TV show brought to ASOIAF, so I decided to gamble on this series. I think it's common knowledge that the showrunners know "how it all ends", if indeed the worst comes to pass and we are left without a written conclusion from GRRM. But to me a TV-only ending isn't any better than a different author novelizing it.

Really hoping he finishes it himself...
Birgit F
60. birgit
If the valonquar is female, why can't it be Dany, too?
Maiane Bakroeva
61. Isilel
So, yea, I hate Maggi's propphecy with the fury of a 1000 suns. Not so much because of what it does to Cersei's character - I agree that her overblown suspicions of Tyrion's intentions towards her children back in ACoK (before he threatened Tommen) and her immediate certainty that Tyrion poisoned Joffrey needed to be explained. But still, a prophecy is a rather lazy explanation, IMHO.
No, what makes me hate this prophecy so much is that it was, apparently, set in stone back _when Cersei was 10_ that Robert would become king and that they would marry. And this just blows on so many levels, including absolving various actors involved in the fall of Targaryens of personal responsibility.

So, personally, I still cling to hope that prophecies _can_ be derailed and that people's visions of the future only show the most likely outcomes.
That when a prophecy doesn't come to pass, or gets fulfilled in an unexpected way, it is not always just a case of misunderstanding, but is sometimes due to genuine changes to the future that people managed to effect between the time the prophecy was made and whenever.

Because for a series like ASOIAF to have future of the characters be rigidly predetermined just defeats the one of it's main strengths - namely, that actions have consequences, even for the important/main characters.

Re: what Aemon said about the Promised Prince Prophecy - he didn't say that Valyrian language is non-gendered, but rather that Valyrians used the same word to denote a "prince" and an actual dragon and dragons change sex.
This reasoning wouldn't apply to the valonquar, though, so there is no reason to think that he could be female.
62. a1ay
Annoyance with this chapter (because GRRM is normally good on this): mediaeval warfare didn't involve tipping boiling oil on people. Oil was expensive! And (in a besieged castle) valuable as food! They used boiling water, or flaming pitch or other incendiaries.

“until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.”

My own devious interpretation here is that Maggy says "until there comes another". She doesn't say "until there comes another queen". And in the kind of antique language she's using, "another" can just mean "someone else". So it could be that Cersei's nemesis is someone who is younger than her, female - because described as "beautiful", which is gendered language - but not necessarily royal.
And, deviating further, someone more beautiful than Cersei at the time of her downfall. Not necessarily more beautiful than Cersei right now.
63. Legendary
@61: It's worth noting that the prophecy Dany got (that her son would be the Stallion that Mounts the World) DIDN'T come true, and that in the House of the Undying she saw the world that could have been if it did. This is a prophecy that DID come true, but it didn't have to.
Maiane Bakroeva
64. Isilel
Legendary @63:

Well, regarding the prophecy about Dany's son, it could be argued that it has been misinterpreted. That it was about Dany herself, but Dothraki crones couldn't envision a _woman_ having such a future, and Dany was conveniently pregnant, so they jumped at the interpretation they were comfortable with - that it had to be about the _son_ she happened to be carrying at the time. And that Mirri Maz Dur by trying to prevent the prophecy from coming true actually enabled Dany to fulfill her destiny as the "Stallion", i.e. a great conqueror, à la Oedipus, etc.
After all, from what we have heard from the Ghost of High Heart, Prince Daeron the Drunken and Jojen, visions of the future appear as pictures/visual scenes which are sometimes highly symbolic and need to be interpreted by the viewer.

Personally, I would hate it if it turns outto be the case. I hope that it isn't true that the "Stallion" prophecy was merely misinterpreted. I hope that it has been derailed or changed, so that even if Dany plays the role now, the crones really had seen her son and that with his death the future was irrevocably changed. But it is unclear.
Scott Silver
65. hihosilver28
I wouldn't let that stop you from reading The Wheel of Time. I think it is well worth it, and actually prefer it to ASoIaF. There are some differences in the last 3 books, but by and large it's relatively minor, and Jordan's editor (and wife) closely oversaw the process. The last books don't feel out of place with the rest of the series, and besides, Jordan finished 11 out of the 14, plus a novella. And the final 3 books were pretty heavily outlined by him as well. So, all that to say, I think it's worth your time.

Regarding the prophecy...I would have a much greater problem with it if this was the first time we'd seen prophecy in this story, but it's not. Far from it. We've seen the old dwarf woman who came to Dondarrion's camp and had a foretelling there, we've had the prophecies about Dany that Aemon has talked about in this book, the House of the Undying, and Mirri Maz Dur in the first book. Do I love this prophecy? No, but it doesn't irk me beyond measure.
Steve Nagy
66. SteveNagy
When I read the prophecy about Cersei's death at the hands of the "valonqar" I didn't think of Tyrion. The way the description seemed to come across, and the idea that it was a "little brother" ... my thoughts turned to Bran.

I'm assuming the young queen is Dani. So why not Bran for the valonqar? He could certainly strangle her if he's riding inside Hodor's head at the time.
Sky Thibedeau
67. SkylarkThibedeau
I prefer GOT to WOT. It took me almost as long to read the first volume of WOT as it took George to Write 'A Dance With Dragons'. I'd never finish that series in my lifetime.

I ve always hated Maggy's prophesies as it seems Cersei has become somewhat of a different character than the Cersei who outsmarted Ned Stark. Of course all of that I'm ascribing to Cersei in the first two books may have been Littlefinger's doing. Now that he's away we see the real Cersei.
Rob Munnelly
68. RobMRobM
Skylark - first book of WoT is an outlier, very Fellowship of the Ring-like with young villagers being chased by scary creatures across the land. While enjoyable, EOTW is not characteristic of the rest of the series.

In second and third books you begin to see the "real" WoT - a deeply immersive dive into a culture in a time of great change with dozens of significant characters and potentially insuperable challegnes for the "good guys" and "good gals" to surmount. The challenges get tougher and tougher as the series continues, and RJ is impressive at creating and eventually resolving the many challenges. RJ is also a master of subtle foreshadowing, and details from the early books become critical plot points volumes down the line. He is also a master of multi-book arcs where the issues develop slowly and then are driven home for maximum, satisfying impact later.

The centerpiece books - 4 though 7 - are very very strong and make the series what it is. RJ loses plot control over books 8-10, even with some nice scenes throughout, but 11 brings all loose ends to an awesome, brilliantly written close. Brandon Sanderson then picked up the series and give it a successful and enjoyable end.

On balance, I favor ASOIF but WoT is special and has my favorite character in all of fantasy literature. The WoT heads here will know who that is for me.
69. Sophist
I interpret the prophecy of the Stallion who Mounts the World to refer to Drogon.
70. NickH
I do like Maggy's prophecy - it explains all Cercei's actions perfectly. Without the prophecy some of her action won't make any sense.

The philosophical paradox regarding predetermined future is rather complicated, but it never really bothered me.
71. sonstwohin
55: Not many will be able to recognize his genius. The rest will think you want to make fun of them.
Lauren Hartman
72. naupathia
Interesting that so many people dislike the prophecy aspect. I'm of the opinion that it enhances Cersei's character - but then I am admitedly very much a product of reading a lot of fantasy, where prophecies are usually par for the course. I usually like seeing how authors deal with them - whether they're fixed or mutable, whether they're self-fulfilling or not, etc. I don't think GRRM has really answered any of those questions yet, but it does seem that his real prophecies (and not just Vision of What Could Be™) are fixed and will come true.

But again this never really bothers me since I think GRRM has left enough grey area in his prophecies that you can't be sure of the interpretations until they happen.

Anyway, I do agree I think it lends depth to Cersei. She was always a bit evil as many have pointed out - hating Tyrion since birth (mostly because her dad did) and generally just being a narcisistic sociopath. But even then her actions towards Tyrion verged on the overly evil until you learn why she is so afraid of him. And then I think it makes Cersei make a little more sense, not diminished.

Keep in mind this is a world where magic did/does exist and where people buy into prophecies a lot more readily. Of course many of us on the outside scoff at how "easily" she's manipulated by a prophecy, but I see it as a young girl being very afraid of something very real. And that fear carries on with her into adulthood and has shaped the woman she's become.

@67 : Yeah it was all Littlefinger. That's what I try to emphasize to people who think Cersei "changed" so much from early books to AFFC. She didn't change at all - it was the people around her who changed. Before Robert died, Cersei was surrounded by fairly competent people, most of whom were playing her way more than she realized. AFFC shows how full of herself she is - she clearly cannot see any of her own faults - so all that manipulation she saw as herself being clever. When really it was just LF pulling all the strings that happened to be beneficial for her at the time. But now that she's on her own you see the real Cersei, and she's really not all that impressive. And I honestly can't say it's surprising because there were plenty of hints in the first book as to Cersei's real character - mostly in her treatment/adulation of Joffrey. And the whole "cheating on the king with your brother" bit.
Adam S.
73. MDNY
@62 While you are correct that oil was rarely used in sieges during the middle ages due to it being rare and expensive, there are historic examples of its use, including against besiegers during the crusades (the siege of Jerusalem), as well as during the Hundred Years' War. However, it was not boiled, just heated to high temperature (oil turns to smoke before it boils). Other incendiary devices (like greek fire and burning pitch) were more common. As Leigh has said before when she researched the wildings' siege of the Wall, learning is fun!
74. Lyanna Mormont
@ 61 - Even if the prophecy was "true" that doesn't necessarily mean that the whole chain of events was set in stone. There could've been any number of alternate histories where Cersei married the king, not the prince, and had three children while he had sixteen.

* The Rebellion happens, Cersei marries Robert, but her children are his and he has three less bastards. It seems unlikely that the gold crowns would refer to blond hair, in this case, but they could still all end up on a throne. In fact, the prophecy doesn't say all her children will die young, just that they will die, and that Cersei will cry - not even, strictly speaking, that those two things are related.

* The Rebellion never happens. Rhaegar marries Cersei. They have three children - or perhaps Cersei has children by Jaime - and Rhaegar also has a lot of bastards by various mistresses.

* The Rebellion happens, but Rhaegar kills Robert at the Trident. Aerys is deposed. Elia of Dorne dies trying to produce the third head of the dragon, Rhaegar - by then king - marries Cersei. They have three children. Rhaegar also discovers how to hatch dragon eggs, and so has a number of dragon "children."

* The Rebellion happens, but Rhaegar and Robert both die. Aerys is deposed, and Viserys crowned king. He's married off to Cersei.

Or, you know, mix and match between various scenarios, or invent a new one entirely.
75. Scamp Dog
Re: 53, Darth Rilian,

I got the idea to do a summary like Leigh's on my own, and discovered that summarizing a chapter can take much longer than reading only. I wound up dropping the project (there's plenty of other stuff in my life), and I suspect Leigh has other writerly projects to work on in addition to this summary.
76. salvation122
Note that we never see a body, and Waters wasn't at Dragonstone. All we get is a letter. It's entirely possible (and I'd find it quite likely) that everything Waters read is fiction.
77. Lann
I think the big question of the chapter is would Cersei have been a different person had she not heard the prophecy?
78. a1ay
73: thanks. I did not know that! (Seems it was often used as burning rather than just heated oil, which makes sense...)
George Jong
79. IndependentGeorge
@73 - Now I'm starting to think the walls of a medieval siege was a great time for a cookout. What is most likely to be inside the castle for a siege? Root vegetables and grain - fries and onion rings. A little salt, a little malted vinegar - and voila! You've got delicious, morale-building food for your defenders!

You don't even have to worry about straining and storing the fryer oil for re-use, either - you just dump it right over the side. Do you think they had multiple oil stations to hold at different temperatures? The best fries are made with a two-stage cooking process. Maybe you can keep different stations for different food - like a tempura station at the North wall, fish & chips on the South, etc.
80. beastofman
@77- well that was my point, does hearing the prophesy cause you to create it?
81. Looking Glass
From a character perspective, I think I’d prefer that Jaime fulfill the prophecy, and that he do so by literally strangling Cersei to death. It would make a great parallel with him growing to be more like Tyrion (who already strangled an unfaithful former lover, and already murdered a family member for betrayal and general heinous behavior), and it would be an irrevocable milestone for Jaime’s character development. Whereas if Tyrion strangled Cersei, I suspect it would be kind of: “been there, done that, had more significance the first time around.”

(Double secret crack theory, because all the things must be parallels: Tywin actually murdered his wife after taking deformed-baby-Tyrion as evidence of her infidelity- which he knows, but won't acknowledge, isn't good evidence. Then he blamed Tyrion for her death “in childbirth,” singlehandedly creating the whole screwed-up family dynamic himself. And hey, this explanation gives Tywin a full smorgasbord of reasons to mistreat Tyrion, including fun mutually-exclusive-but-still-simultaneously-applicable sentiments like “I hate him because I believe he’s not mine” and “I hate him because I believe he is mine”.)
Adam S.
83. MDNY
@79 IG- Nice, just avoid sieges by the wildings (especially Thenns) or the Boltons ((highlight to read), you might not like the culinary options in those cases. And you're totally correct that the best fries are double-fried, that's why Belgian fries are actually my favorite (they're always double fried). Maybe they had a s'mores station at one wall? Mmmm, s'mores....
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
84. Lisamarie
I love that you caught the subtlety of it being the valonqar and not necessarily HER valonqar. Anyway, I actually really look forward to seeing what you make of the rest of the book and's not the 'plottiest' of books, but there is a lot of character stuff to chew on.
George Jong
85. IndependentGeorge
@83 - Book!Thenns are supposed to be the closest thing beyond the wall to the Northern houses; I actually found myself really irritated at the way the show changed them. The Boltons might be interesting, though; the cracklings are the best part of the pig, so if th-... You know what? Not even I can finish that thought.

Top 5 Castles in Westeros to Eat in During a Siege:

1. Highgarden. The breadbasket of the entire south, Highgarden has the best diversity of crops for a good frying, and some of the best wines to enjoy it with. Its location on the mouth of a river gives access to both fresh and salt water fishes, and as a major trade hub, you've also got access to plenty of spices.
2. Storm's End. Ready access to the ocean along one side, you've got a steady supply of fresh fish for fish & chips. Their Onion Rings are the stuff of legends.
3. Riverrun. Like Storm's End above, you've got a good steady supply for a fish fry. Plus, the diverse crops of the Riverlands gives you a wide variety of vegetables to batter & fry.
4. Winterfell. Climate should mean plenty of frozen meat in storage. While it's too cold outside to maintain temperature for deep frying, the hot springs inside the castle allow a nice long braise at low temps.
5. Sunspear. Beautiful scenery, great wines, plenty of spices, and beautiful women to be trapped indoors with, one might think this would be #1. Unfortunately, warm climate and surrounding wetlands makes spoilage and disease a concern.
Adam S.
86. MDNY
@85 IG- Storm's End is an impressively mighty castle, but I'm not so sure they have an endless supply of fish there. Remember that Davos became "the onion knight" because he relieved Storm's End with smuggled onions during during Robert's rebellion; without his onions (and other food items) the castle would have starved.
Agree that Highgarden is likely number one; I like spicy food and wine so I might put Sunspear at 2.
something something
87. Minstral
@ 86

Part of the reason the Storms End garrison needed to be resupplied by Davos was because the Tyrell used the Redwyne fleet to patrol the waters around the castle. It does appear that the castle is able to effectivly be re-supplied by the sea as long as there are no ships from a besieging army.

At any rate, the quality of Highgarden as a castle is really unkown to us considering the fact we have never seen it or heard comments on it from GRRM or the characters. And although I don't want to do this Casterly Rock sounds pretty formidable (something similiar to the Rock of Gibralter with the castle built into the rock itself).
Adam S.
88. MDNY
@87 Yes, Storm's End can be resupplied by sea, but as you say, only without an enemy fleet surrounding it. IG implied that Storm's End could survive indefinitely because it had access to fish, and my point was that that's not true, as Davos and the siege during Robert's rebellion illustrated.
I agree that Highgarden is unknown. I don't get the sense that it's as imposing as Casterly Rock, Storm's End, or the Vale, but I would imagine that it might rival Winterfell, Riverrun, etc... It was the ancestral castle of House Gardener (until they were eliminated by the Targaryans and their stewards took over the Reach), so it has as long a history as those other castles from the Age of Legends. I imagine that it is one of the most beatiful castles, if not the strongest or most defensible.
Steven Halter
89. stevenhalter
Chapter 36 -- Cersei:I'm back from Loncon 3. I saw Iron Man on the Iron Throne (it turns out that the Iron Throne is really made out of fiberglass) and I saw GRRM in the food court but didn't try to chat with him or go to his panels. Luckily there were lots of other (way too many) panels to go to anyway.
Loras seems to have been a tad over eager in his rush to take Dragonstone. Cersei is not sorry at all. I'm pretty sure she shouldn't feel so pleased at losing the other thousand soldiers since I will guess she will be needing those at some point. I have a feeling that Cersei is a tad too convinced that Loras will die. A terribly maimed Loras may well be in the cards.
More harvesting of the heads of short people in attempts to claim the reward for Tyrion. This seems like such a bad idea, but then Cersei is chock full of those.
A group of Warrior's Sons comes forth. That hasn't taken long and seems to be catching on as it mentions about 100 knights have joined up so far.
Tommen shows a little backbone and tells Cersei not to talk about cutting out Margaery's tongue. Cersei tries to remove said backbone by forcing him to abuse Pate, his whipping boy. If Cersei does somehow manage to survive until Tommen comes of age, then this is all going to come back to her so very much. I'm guessing she isn't going to last nearly that long and unfortunately, she'll probably drag Tommen down with her. That is too bad as Tommen seems not half bad.
“Queen you shall be . . . until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.”
Anger flashed across the child’s face. “If she tries I will have my brother kill her.” Even then she would not stop, willful child as she was. She still had one more question due her, one more glimpse into her life to come. “Will the king and I have children?” she asked.
“Oh, aye. Six-and-ten for him, and three for you.”
That made no sense to Cersei. Her thumb was throbbing where she’d cut it, and her blood was dripping on the carpet. How could that be? she wanted to ask, but she was done with her questions.
The old woman was not done with her, however. “Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds,” she said. “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
Dany seems the obvious choice for the younger more beautiful one, so she probably isn't. Cersei thinks that the valonqar is Tyrion so he probably isn't. The obvious other choice is Jaime and that would have a nice cold poetic justice about it, so that probably isn't right either.
The implication here is that Cersei offs Melara that same night. Cersei says just a bit later that she fell down a well and drowned. I have my doubts about this statement.
Cersei clearly thinks that Margaery is the prophesied other and now she is plotting to kill her. Hopefully that will go terribly wrong.

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