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 29 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 40 (“The Princess in the Tower”).
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 40: The Princess in the Tower
Arianne takes comfort in the luxury of her prison as evidence that her father will not kill her for her betrayal, but she is upset that no one will tell her what happened to her comrades or to Myrcella. She’d pleaded with Areo Hotah that she’d never meant any harm to come to the girl, but Hotah was unmoved by her entreaty. She’s been imprisoned at the top of the Spear Tower, and the castellan, Ser Manfrey Martell, has told her that her friends were taken to the terrible prison of Ghaston Grey. She grieves for Ser Arys Oakheart, and tries to figure out who could have betrayed her plan. She will not believe it of her friends, and thinks it makes no sense for Ser Gerold Dayne, who escaped, to be the traitor either.
She demands to see her father, but the servants will not speak to her. She thinks the Sand Snakes might be imprisoned in the tower along with her, but her shouts out the window bring no answer. She eventually breaks the youngest servant, Cedra, with her infatuation for Garin, and tries to send a letter with her to Lord Franklyn Fowler, but Cedra never returns after that, and as the days pass Arianne stops eating, until she is almost too weak to rise. Finally Hotah comes for her and summons her to see her father.
Prince Doran looks worse than she remembers. He asks her why she did it, and she tells him it was for the honor of their House, and that his weakness in the face of Oberyn’s murder shames all Dorne. Doran tells her Myrcella is not dead, but Darkstar sliced off her ear and permanently maimed her face. He says Arianne has dishonored all of them, and endangered all of Dorne, which cannot stand against a war with the Iron Throne. She demands to know who betrayed her, but Doran will not say. He tells her that her friends have been dealt with far more mercifully than they deserved, and shames her for seducing Ser Arys to abandon his vows. Doran says Ser Balon Swann is being delayed as much as possible in his journey toward Sunspear, but eventually he will arrive, and he asks Arianne what they should tell him. Arianne says to tell him Arys died defending Myrcella from an attempt on her life by Darkstar, but Doran asks what will happen when he asks Myrcella for the truth.
Arianne realizes he needs her to convince Myrcella to fall in with their story, and asks why she should help him. She accuses him of trying to get rid of her for years, by attempting to marry her off to old men while he sends her brother Quenten off to Lys in secret. Doran claims there is no plan to replace her with Quenten, and she tells him she saw the letter where he promised Dorne to Quenten. Doran insists he always meant for her to inherit Dorne, and deliberately chose suitors for her that he knew she would not accept, for she had been promised long ago to another. She demands to know who, but he says it doesn’t matter, as the man is dead, from “a pot of molten gold.” He says he sent Quenten on a journey to “bring us back our heart’s desire.”
She narrowed her eyes. “What is our heart’s desire?”
“Vengeance.” His voice was soft, as if he were afraid that someone might be listening. “Justice.” Prince Doran pressed the onyx dragon into her palm with his swollen, gouty fingers, and whispered, “Fire and blood.”
So, this is all kind of oblique, but there’s not much doubt who Arianne’s betrothed dude who died via “molten pot of gold” is, and all I can say to Arianne is WOW, girl, did you dodge a bullet. Although, I get the distinct impression that Arianne would probably have eaten Viserys for breakfast.
For sure she would not have put up with his shit for long, I think. And if for some inexplicable reason Arianne herself failed to put him in his place toot sweet, one of her Sand Snake cousins probably would have done it for her. Which is why Dorne is probably one of the more awesome places in this whole ASOIAF world as far as I am concerned.
But aside from that, this is definitely interesting in that it tells us (or retells us, possibly, but it’s been a while since we went to Dorne so shaky memory is shaky) that Doran is (or was) angling for a Targaryen return to the Iron Throne, and to ally Dorne with them accordingly, and has been playing footsie with the Lannister-Baratheon contingent strictly as a decoy tactic in the meantime. Sneaky!
But then Viserys went and got himself gilded, literally (eek), and so I guess as a backup Doran sent his son Quenten to… do something regarding Dany. Woo? Capture? Offer her alliance? Steal her dragons? Dance like a monkey? Something else I’m not thinking of?
Well, whatever it is, he’s going to have some competition, because it seems that everyone and their dog is after Dany at this point. Generally the phrase “sucks to be popular” is employed in strict irony, but in this case I think it applies rather more factually than otherwise. Watch your back, girl.
I get why Doran kept this all a secret from Arianne, who seems to regard her life as more of a college sorority party than as SRS BZNS Real Stuff Happening, but even so I can’t see how he couldn’t have known that it would eventually seriously backfire on him to keep her in the dark to that extent. Because that’s exactly what happened as far as I can tell. She’s your heir, dude; either clue her in or admit that she’s too flaky and oust her from the V.P. spot, but you can’t have it both ways.
Also, wow with Cersei’s kids catching zero breaks, ever. Poor, poor Myrcella! Having an ear cut off, owwwww. Not to mention the shit she’ll get for the rest of her life for not being “pretty” anymore. Ugh.
It will be interesting to see whether she will actually go along with Arianne’s cover story, or just be like “FUCK ALLA Y’ALL” and tell what really happened the moment Balon Swann shows up. I know which one I would go for, but I am not a recently mutilated underage princess bride, nor do I play one on TV, so my personal reaction is probably not the best metric to use in this case. Sigh.
And who did betray Arianne, anyway? She’s so adamantly against the notion that it could be any of her childhood friends that I instantly suspect them more than anyone, but I think that at this juncture I do not have enough information to move my speculation on the matter out of W.A.G. (Wild Assed Guesses), so I will decline to speculate further for now.
I’m not even sure it’s important, anyway. I mean, obviously it’s important to Arianne, but as a reader I’m not really seeing why I should care, except for morbid curiosity in speculating how Arianne might very messily implode if it really does turn out to be one of her bosom buddies who ratted her out.
But this entire Dorne thing is honestly giving me a little trouble in engaging my Care-O-Meter. Not because the “who tattled on Arianne” mystery is not interesting, but because it’s not quite as interesting to me right now as following what’s going on in the rest of Westeros. I can’t stand Cersei, for example, but I am agog to see what misstep or political ploy finally brings her down. And so forth and so on.
But, at least this was one of the less upsetting “title” chapters. Although now I’m slightly disappointed that there wasn’t at least a tiny Rapunzel joke in there. Heh.
And this is where we stop. It’s a little short, I know, but things is a little cray-cray in the House of Leigh at the moment. Hopefully everything will be un-crayed by next Thursday, which is when I’ll see you next! Cheers!