Welcome 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 21 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 29 (“The Reaver”).
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 29: The Reaver
Victarion boards the rose-bannered enemy ship and slays several men before his crew catch up to him, then challenges and throws overboard Ser Talbert Serry, the heir to Southshield. He joyfully slaughters most of the remaining crew, wishing that Euron was so easy to deal with. Nute the Barber tells him the Iron Fleet has won the day, but Victarion thinks sourly of how it will be attributed to his brother, not him, even though Euron is back at Oakenshield, “lazing in a castle”. He goes below and rapes the woman Euron had given him as a gift, and thinks about the plan to take the mouth of the river Mander, which he acknowledges was a good one, leaving the river free to be plundered where it had long been protected. He thinks that Euron’s wizards must have had something to do with it.
He debates whether he could escape the curse of kinslaying if he arranged for someone else to kill Euron instead of doing it himself. He thinks of his conversation with Aeron after the kingsmoot, and Aeron’s conviction that Euron’s blasphemies will curse them all, and that his election had been rigged by his sorcerers. Aeron had pleaded with Victarion to take Euron down, and at Victarion’s refusal, had declared he would rally the common folk and do it himself. He vanished thereafter, but his words had deeply disturbed Victarion, who remembers Baelor Blacktyde’s words: “Balon was mad, Aeron is madder, and Euron is maddest of them all.” He thinks that Asha was wise to run after the kingsmoot.
He returns to Lord Hewett’s Town in Oakenshield, where he finds women and children being herded onto a ship to be sold as slaves. Victarion dislikes this breaking from tradition, but Nute the Barber doesn’t see much difference between thralls and slaves. At the castle, Victarion meets Rodrik the Reader, who opines that their victory was not worth the enmity of House Tyrell it earned them, but Victarion is eager to try his worth against Highgarden, and the Lannisters too. The Reader tells him he will get his chance, as he believes Euron desires it too. Nute is angered that Euron’s men got all the plunder while they were out fighting, but Victarion says Euron has promised them all of Westeros eventually.
At the feast in the great hall of the castle, Euron has tied Lord Hewett to his chair, forcing him to watch as his wife and daughters serve the ironmen; at a suggestion from Falia, the evidently ill-treated bastard daughter Euron has taken for his own, he makes Lady Hewett and her daughters strip and serve them naked. Victarion thinks that it is one thing to kill a foe, but another to shame and dishonor him. Victarion is surprised at Euron’s choices to take the lordships of the captured islands, but then realizes they are all strong supporters of Rodrik the Reader, Dunstan Drumm, Black Harren, and Victarion himself. Euron declares his plans for the fleet to sail across the sea to find the dragons, but encounters resistance from his captains, who would rather continue plundering Westeros. Euron exits the hall in a huff, to Victarion’s pleasure.
One of Euron’s “mongrel” sons summons Victarion to Euron’s chamber. He finds Euron naked but for his cloak, rambling about how maybe he can fly. Victarion invites him to try jumping out of the window to see. Euron complains that the ironborn clamor for grapes when he would give them dragons, and Victarion points out that grapes are real. Euron tells him he’d had a dragon’s egg once, but slew the wizard who promised him to hatch it, and then threw the egg in the sea during one of his “dark moods”. He also comments that the man who blew his dragon horn at the kingsmoot is dead, his lungs charred black. He invites Victarion to drink a foul wine that smells like rotting flesh, which he claims is “shade-of-the-evening, the wine of the warlocks,” which he stole from four warlocks and then forced three of them to eat the fourth. Victarion declines.
Euron admits that the Reader is probably right that the voyage is too dangerous for an entire fleet, but says that he needs a wife worthy enough to give him proper heirs, and entreats Victarion to go to Slaver’s Bay and bring her to him: “when the kraken weds the dragon, brother, let all the world beware.” He says this dragon is the fairest woman in the world, and the last of her line. He promises Victarion the Seastone Chair in return, once Euron has taken the Iron Throne.
Euron’s smiling eye was bright with mockery. “Or do I ask too much of you? It is a fearsome thing to sail beyond Valyria.”
“I could sail the Iron Fleet to hell if need be.” When Victarion opened his hand, his palm was red with blood. “I’ll go to Slaver’s Bay, aye. I’ll find this dragon woman, and I’ll bring her back.” But not for you. You stole my wife and despoiled her, so I’ll have yours. The fairest woman in the world, for me.
Well, that just made me tired.
If there was a single female appearing in this chapter that wasn’t raped, violated, abused, degraded, and/or treated with less consideration than your average piece of livestock—including Dany—then I missed it. And I don’t think I missed anything. I also don’t even know what to do with the fact that the only female character (barring Victarion’s thoughts about Asha) that got a name and even something approximating an actual line of dialogue was also the one who used it to get revenge by inflicting more abuse on other women. “Dehumanize”? Shit.
I suspect that ought to make me infuriated, but right now, like I said, I’m just tired. Tired, and upset, and disgusted, and wanting ice cream, and left with the feeling that I just really do not have the energy for the level of vitriol that probably is called for here. I really, really don’t, though. Not for these assholes, whose sole apparent virtue is that they are fictional.
It’s almost like Martin is making some kind of twisted tacit argument for justifiable genocide here. Because seriously, if someone were to carpet-bomb the entirety of the ironborn nation into oblivion right now, I’m not sure I could summon up any more harsh a response than “Hey, man, that’s, like… not cool. Oh well.”
Another “title” chapter, too, which I’m beginning to dislike on principle if I didn’t already, but in this case I admit it’s eminently apropos. I’m not sure what I thought of the term “Reaver” before I watched Joss Whedon’s TV series Firefly, but after that (and especially the companion movie, Serenity), I will never be able to associate the word with any other definition than that describing, basically, a psychotic semi-devolved berserker who exists only to murder, rape, torture, mutilate, or destroy anything or anyone it comes in contact with.
This chapter… has not inspired me to alter that definition.
Whatever, I can’t even deal with any of that right now, so I’m not going to, except to devoutly hope that Victarion does indeed find Dany, so that I can hopefully watch her rip off his balls and hand them to him. Literally or metaphorically, I don’t care.
…No, I’m rooting for literally.
I will also meanwhile be rooting for Aeron to be successful with his grassroots revolution thingy and kill Euron with extreme killedness, because you know that if Euron freaks out other ironborn, then he is just about the craziest fucker on this entire sad pretend ball of mud, and he needs to be gone pronto. Not that we didn’t already know this, but the revelation that he has apparently been drinking nightshade liqueur certainly adds that je ne sais quoi to the whole picture. Although at least his crazy kept him from actually getting a dragon egg, so, yay?
Or alternately I guess Mace Tyrell And Co. can come and kill Euron for Aeron, which would also work, and in fact would even be better, since it would also (hopefully) involve tossing all the other ironborn off the mainland and back to their crappy islands where they belong as well, so bonus!
Really, I’m not picky; whoever wants to come and kick these guys’ asses all the way into next summer, please, be my guest. I will even root for a Lannister victory here, that’s how much I don’t like these people. C’mon.
Also, apparently blowing the dragon horn should come with a Surgeon General’s warning. Yeesh. It may or may not control dragons, but it is obviously doing something hinky. I wonder if Euron’s going to give it to Victarion to go after Dany with? In which case, that is a little worrying.
[…] striped tiger pelts and the skins of spotted cats, jade manticores and ancient Valyrian sphinxes, chests of nutmeg, cloves, and saffron, ivory tusks and the horns of unicorns […]
Hmm. Actual unicorn horns, or “unicorn” horns? I seem to recall that back in the day in the real world, merchants sold rhino horns as “unicorn horns” to idiots who didn’t know any better, so I was just wondering if that was the implied case here. Not that it matters, I suppose, but there are actual dragons, so…
Every man there knew that the Doom still ruled Valyria. The very sea there boiled and smoked, and the land was overrun with demons. It was said that any sailor who so much as glimpsed the fiery mountains of Valyria rising above the waves would soon die a dreadful death, yet the Crow’s Eye had been there, and returned.
So there’s obviously two ways to interpret this “Doom” of Valyria I’ve been vaguely hearing about throughout the series. One is the mundane explanation, which is that Valyria is basically Pompeii and got clobbered with a volcano and/or volcanoes, end of story. And the other is that for some reason the equivalent of a magical tactical nuke went off there, and the resulting mystical fallout is like that ash from the Icelandic Volcano of Unpronouncability that stopped all the airlines in Europe for however long a few years ago. I think I mixed up my metaphors there. Plus I suppose there’s no reason to think this hypothetical magical nuke couldn’t also make volcanoes happen as well as mess up magic all over the world.
…Or something like that. Once again, I presume that at some point this is actually going to be explicated upon in more detail. Or not. I might not care that much, honestly. I already know the important thing, which is that regardless of the reason why magic went away, now it’s coming back.
Along with dragons. And winter. Allegedly.
And now, my sugar blossoms, I have a date with some Creole Cream Cheese ice cream (which is the best thing EVAR and I’m so sad most of you can’t get any) and some form of entertainment that has absolutely positively zero percent reaving in it. Until next time!