Welcome 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 2 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 2 (“Catelyn”) and Chapter 3 (“Arya”).
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 Read of Ice and Fire spoiler thread has been moved to a new 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 2: Catelyn
Catelyn is regretful that the master-at-arms, Ser Desmond Grell, and the steward, Utherydes Wayn, have to be responsible for confining her for her traitorous behavior in freeing Jaime Lannister. The two men are appalled at the notion of locking her up, but Catelyn insists that if they fail to punish her people will believe they are complicit in her crime. They compromise by confining her in her father’s rooms, so that she can be with her father while waiting for Edmure’s return. Wayn tells her that her betrayal was for nothing, as Desmond has sent Ser Robin Ryger after Jaime. Catelyn prays for Brienne.
Later, she is sitting at Hoster’s bedside when he wakes and begins raving about someone named “Tansy,” begging her forgiveness. Catelyn asks him who that is and whether she is still alive, but Hoster groans “Dead,” and thinking Catelyn is Tansy, promises her that she will have “others… Sweet babes, and trueborn” if she is a good wife. When Maester Vyman comes to treat Hoster, Catelyn asks him if he knows of a “Tansy,” but Vyman does not. He returns the next day and tells her that Wayn says there has never been a “Tansy” at Riverrun as long as he’s been there. He also reports reluctantly that Robb was wounded while storming the Crag, but that he insists in his message that it is not serious, and leaves.
Catelyn thinks on the mystery, and concludes that she cannot believe her father would have fathered a bastard on this Tansy. She wonders if perhaps it could have been a nickname for her sister Lysa, who had miscarried many times. Catelyn thought that that had never happened at Riverrun, but considers that perhaps it had after their joint wedding; Catelyn had just thought Lysa’s courses were late. She realizes that Lysa’s wedding to Jon Arryn had been imposed on Arryn by their father, in return for the Tullys’ support in the uprising; she thinks it not surprising that their marriage was so loveless, now. She writes Lysa a letter, begging her once more to come see their father or at least write to him before he dies, although she knows it probably too late for either.
Edmure returns later that day, and keeps her waiting for two hours before coming to see her. Edmure looks pale and drawn, and tells her that Stannis’s army was routed at King’s Landing, and Highgarden and all the south has declared for Joffrey, and meanwhile she has set the Kingslayer free. Catelyn declares she had a mother’s right, and Edmure says she had no right to do it. He says Cersei will never release Catelyn’s daughters, and Catelyn says Tyrion will.
Edmure retorts that the Imp took an axe to the head during the battle, and will probably be dead before Jaime could reach King’s Landing. Catelyn is aghast at the news, and Edmure continues that he has sent ravens to Lord Bolton saying Jaime had escaped, and offering a reward for his recapture. Catelyn is horrified.
“If this was an escape,” she said softly, “and not an exchange of hostages, why should the Lannisters give my daughters to Brienne?”
“It will never come to that. The Kingslayer will be returned to us, I have made certain of it.”
“All you have made certain is that I shall never see my daughters again. Brienne might have gotten him to King’s Landing safely… so long as no one was hunting for them. But now…” Catelyn could not go on.
She tells him to leave her to her grief.
Well, yeah… but Catelyn, how could you have expected that wouldn’t happen?
Of course Edmure was going to get the alert out and try to get Jaime back. For a variety of reasons, but not least among them because for him not to do so is tantamount to colluding with Catelyn in her treason. I mean, I suppose it’s debatable whether Robb himself would view it that way, but Edmure wouldn’t take that chance in any case.
That said, ugh, what a sucky situation. I think Catelyn’s plan was terribly ill-advised, but it’s really hard not to see where she was coming from when she concocted it. She keeps insisting she’s not mad with grief, but… I gotta kinda doubt her objectivity on that one.
(Though you do have to love that her grief expresses itself in the form of jailbreaks. Hey, at least it’s proactive!)
I hope Arya by some miracle ends up going to Riverrun so at least Catelyn can have one of her children back, but I’m pretty sure that if Arya’s going to go anywhere it’ll be to Winterfell. Which is currently an abandoned, smoking ruin, so that ought to be a fun homecoming.
And then there’s the “Tansy” thing, which I don’t really have much idea what to make of at this point except to be convinced that Catelyn’s interpretation of the matter (namely, that “Tansy” = Lysa) is so, so wrong. Because really, if your father had ever referred to your sister by a completely nonsensical nickname, don’t you think you (or Wayn or Vyman) would have at least heard it before?
Plus, you know Catelyn’s wrong because it would be way too easy if she were right, and take away a prime opportunity for Martin to give us A Shocking Revelation. And that’s just crazy talk!
However, while I think Catelyn’s wrong, wrong, wrong about “Tansy” being Lysa, the rest of her theory about what Hoster’s talking about with the blood and trueborn children and alla that sounds pretty reasonable to me. From what I have so far, it sounds like Hoster got this Tansy person knocked up with a bastard child, and then the kid died in childbirth, maybe? And he was very upset about it, and promised her she’d have more? And married her off to someone so she could have legit babies and live at least semi-happily ever after?
…Yeah, so it all sounds like that. Which is probably a red flag to suspect that the truth of it is nothing like that at all.
I do admit I had some fleeting thoughts here about Jon Snow’s still-unidentified mother, and was kind of oooh, you think? But on reflection that doesn’t really make any sense. Because for one thing, unless I’ve been doing a lot of hallucinating lately (shaddup), Jon Snow didn’t die in childbirth. And for another, as long as we go with the notion that Ned is definitely Jon’s father (and I have no reason at this point to think otherwise), then I can’t see why on earth Hoster Tully would have been all weepy and lovey-dovey over the woman Ned was cheating on his daughter with.
So, in conclusion, Dunno. I’m sure all of this speculation will turn out to be completely hilarious later on.
Chapter 3: Arya
Arya, Hot Pie and Gendry ride north, and Arya thinks of the horrible things she’s sure Roose Bolton will do to them if they are caught, but she finds herself unafraid for the first time in a long time. They come across three wolves eating a deer, but Arya just says to back off slowly, and they move on without incident. She also eats an apple from a tree with corpses hanging from it.
Arya explains to the boys that they’re going to Riverrun, where they will be safe, though she does not explain to Hot Pie why. She frets as they push on that they’re going too slowly, that Bolton’s men will be sure to catch them. Hot Pie and Gendry are having a lot of trouble with riding, and Arya knows she would go faster without them, but she will not leave them. Hot Pie is excited when they come to a river, thinking it the Trident, but Arya explains that it will take them days to reach the Trident. She and Gendry argue over whether she is going in the right direction, and Arya eventually declares she is fording the river, and the other two can come or not. They follow her.
They ford another river after that, and Arya will not let them stop even though all of them are exhausted. When she falls asleep in the saddle, though, Gendry insists that they stop and get some rest. She lies down and sleeps, and dreams that she is a wolf, hunting the Bloody Mummers with her pack.
They thought they were hunting her, she knew with all the strange sharp certainty of dreams, but they were wrong. She was hunting them.
There is a short but bloody fight, and Arya dreams that she tears off the arm of the last of the Mummers, a Dothraki, with her teeth.
Before I actually read this chapter, let me note: Well, speak of the devil. Once again it is proven to be more fun when I write the commentary to one chapter before turning to the next. Heh.
And now that I’ve read it, I have one thing to say:
There are times in a blogger’s life, sez I, where the only comment that will satisfy is a big, obnoxious, sparkly Yay. They are rare, but they are immutable. This is one of those times.
Because, OMG! Nymeria! Arya wolf-walking with Nymeria! Nymeria saving Arya! I am asquee! Which is a little like being agog, but with more high-pitched noises.
Oh, that’s awesome. Especially since it seems clear that there’s no way Arya and Co. would have escaped Bolton’s men if Nymeria hadn’t had their backs. And I think we can all agree that not getting caught by Bolton is a very, very good thing. Yeesh.
And by the way, I did not miss that Arya mentally referred to Gendry and Hot Pie as her “pack” in this chapter. Not to mention that she felt safe in a wolf-infested forest, and even spent some time howling at some of them. Very subtly done, that, the clues that Arya is through her connection to Nymeria already part of Nymeria’s pack, before the big reveal at the end of the chapter. Nice.
Also, I love it, that I was all “oh, Arya won’t go to Riverrun!” and then in the very next chapter she’s all “we’re going to Riverrun!” I believe the operative phrase is d’oh. My mad skillz of deduction, let me show you them.
Squee aside, I found the apple thing a little disturbing. Stay good, Arya!
Gendry had his own secret, though even he didn’t seem to know what it was.
*tilts head* Had Arya figured out before that Gendry was Robert’s bastard, or is this a new development? I can’t remember. Oh, well. In any case, smart Arya, figuring that out.
I left it out of the summary, but I got a little sad when Hot Pie was all awed that Arya could read. People not being able to read is just tragic, in my opinion. Everyone should be able to read! Reading is awesome! We should all be like, um, *checks Wikipedia*…
…Wow, Cuba has the highest literacy rate in the world? I thought for sure it was Sweden or Norway. Huh. Well, then, we should all be like Cuba! Reading! Whoo!
There was a Dothraki in the Bloody Mummers? I… am bemused by this, for some reason.
“Which way is north?”
She used her cheese to point. “That way.”
“But there’s no sun. How do you know?”
“From the moss. See how it grows mostly on one side of the trees? That’s south.”
I totally learned that trick from when I was in the Girl Scouts, yo. And like Gendry, I’m still rather suspicious of its efficacy.
(And y’all can stop being mock-shocked I was in the Girl Scouts any time now. Because I was a kickass Girl Scout, thankyouverymuch. I tied knots and built campfires and harassed people into buying Samoas and everything. (In MY day they were called Caramel Delites, but nevertheless: mmm, Samoas.) And let me just say, I am really really glad that my wilderness training came via The Girl Scouts of America and not the way Arya learned it. Mine had way more cookies and way less carnage, and I am all for that particular ratio to continue undisturbed in my life.)
And on that random note, we out! Have a delightful weekend, as is ever my wish for you, and remember: giant sparkly Yays are for sharing. Y’all come back next week now, hear?