A Read of Ice and Fire

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 33 (An Overview)

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 33 of A Feast for Crows, in which I do something resembling a review of the whole novel.

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!

It was suggested to me, by TPTB and by various commenters, that given the way AFFC’s narrative timeline is all tangled up with A Dance With Dragons, the next novel in the series proper, that it might be useful to me to have a little something in the way of an overall review of the novel, both to refresh my memory somewhat and to have something to refer back to easily if necessary.

I was initially rather disinclined to do this, in keeping with my general policy of not going back over already-covered material in an effort to keep my reactions as fresh as possible, but I have to admit that given the rate at which I am covering the story, at this stage my forgetting of Things What Happened has possibly gotten a little dire. So as a compromise, I figure I’ll just go over my posts on AFFC only and write myself a little refresher/predictory thingy. Which, incidentally, will also give me a chance to think on my reactions to the novel overall.

And, since the novels were apparently divided up by character arcs, I also figure the easiest (and least confusing) way to do this is to go through the novel by character, and put all their crap in one place, so to speak. So that’s what we are doing! Hooray!

Onward!

Character: Pate the Acolyte

What Happens to Him in AFFC

Well, he dies, apparently, in the Prologue, after giving a mysterious “alchemist” a skeleton key that gives access to the entire Citadel, because he was also apparently a giant moron. And then, mysteriously, he shows up again in the last scene of the book. OR DOES HE.

What I Think Will Happen

Well, either the rumors of Pate the Acolyte’s death are greatly exaggerated, or the Pate we see in the last scene with Sam and Mervyn Marwyn the Mage is an impersonator, and there is a mole in the Citadel poised to do pretty immense damage if he so chooses. Methinks Sam should beware.

 

Characters: the Greyjoys

What Happens to Them in AFFC

So, Aeron drowns and punches people, is insufferably self-righteous, and calls a kingsmoot because the idea of either Asha or Euron getting the throne gives him religious hives. Asha tries to gather allies, but shockingly discovers that sexism is a thing. Asha then tries to make a deal to share power with Victarion, but Victarion is too busy with his douchetastic mangst over murdering his own wife because Euron raped her, because that was totally her fault, of course, Jesus H., and refuses.

They have a kingsmoot, and Asha almost wins with her promise of peace, but then Euron shows up with his magically ominous Horn O’ Grand Theft Dragon™, and promises the ironborn all of Westeros if they support him, and because the ironborn are greedy sexist idiots, they pick him instead. Yay.

After the kingsmoot, Asha flees, and Aeron disappears after failing to convince Victarion to kill Euron. Victarion helps Euron raid the shit out of the area around Highgarden, and is disturbed to discover Euron is not only an even bigger asshole than he is, he is completely batshit crazy to boot. Euron entreats Victarion to go across the ocean and capture Daenerys Stormborn to be Euron’s bride, and Victarion agrees, but secretly decides he is going to keep her for himself.

What I Think Will Happen

Ugh.

 

Characters: the Martells

What Happens to Them in AFFC

Oberyn’s bastard daughters, known as the Sand Snakes, want to march against Westeros in retaliation for his murder, and/or wed Princess Myrcella to Prince Trystane and then declare her for the Iron Throne, but Prince Doran has them all imprisoned before they can act. His daughter and heir Arianne seduces Ser Arys Oakheart, Myrcella’s protector, and convinces him to abet a scheme in which they abduct Myrcella from Doran and crown her queen of Westeros, which Arianne also hopes will secure her own succession from her brother Quentyn, who is across the ocean doing something mysterious with mercenaries. The plan goes awry when Areo Hotah intercepts them and kills Ser Arys; Ser Gerold Dayne, one of Arianne’s companions, attempts to kill Myrcella, but is thwarted and escapes.

Arianne is brought back to Sunspear and imprisoned, with no knowledge of who betrayed her plan, and is finally taken to see her father Doran, who tells her Ser Gerold Dayne did not succeed in killing Myrcella, but mutilated her face permanently. She accuses him of favoring Quentyn over her, but Doran tells her he means her to have Dorne. He had wanted her to marry Viserys Targaryen, but he had died, and has sent Quentyn on a mission to bring him back his heart’s desire: vengeance.

What I Think Will Happen

Doran = Sneaky McSneakerson. Secretly a Targaryen fanboi!

Between Quentyn and Victarion/Euron, I just hope that Dany’s set up some kind of Amber Alert system for herself AND her dragons, because whoo-ee with the multiple kidnapping schemes! Although possibly Quentyn is only going to offer her an alliance. Let’s hope for that.

Still no idea if I’ve met Quentyn, in disguise or as himself, but I probably have. Presumably we’ll get back to Dany in ADWD and I’ll find out.

Also: poor Myrcella.

 

Character: Cersei Lannister

What Happens to Her in AFFC

Cersei discovers her father is murdered and Tyrion and Varys are missing, and immediately moves to secure her place as Regent, estranging Jaime and Kevan in the process. She allows Tommen’s marriage to Margaery Tyrell though furious about it, and burns the Tower of the Hand to the ground. She finds an unexpected ally in Lady Taena Merryweather, and refuses to listen to Jaime’s advice on her choices of advisors, particularly Qyburn, who is doing some very questionable things under the aegis of being her spymaster. She ignores her debts and appoints weaklings and toadies to her council.

She has Jon Snow declared a traitor for harboring Stannis, and laughs off reports of dragons overseas. She sends Mace Tyrell to subdue Dragonstone, and receives news that Lord Manderly has executed Stannis’s “onion knight.” She arranges for Ser Balman Stokeworth to assassinate Bronn, who had the temerity to name his son “Tyrion,” only to find out later that Bronn killed Balman instead.

She meets with the new High Septon, a fanatically devout man installed by the “sparrows,” and agrees to let him rearm the faith in exchange for his endorsement of King Tommen and forgiveness of the crown’s debts. When news comes of the ironmen’s depradations, she refuses to release forces to meet them until Dragonstone falls, whereupon Ser Loras Tyrell asks to go lead the siege there. Loras is grievously wounded in the resulting battle.

Cersei is obsessed with a prophecy made to her by Maggy the Frog in her youth, in which “the valonqar” (which she translates as “little brother,” i.e. Tyrion) is supposed to kill her, and in which she is ousted as queen by a younger, prettier woman, whom she assumes is Margaery Tyrell. To that end, she sets up an elaborate and deeply ethically bankrupt scheme to frame Margaery (and her cousins) for the capital crime of adultery, but it backfires drastically on her, and the High Septon arrests her for the very crimes she was accusing Margaery of. Desperate, she instructs Qyburn to send for Jaime to come rescue her.

What I Think Will Happen

I do love that I called her crash-and-burnination from the moment she showed up as a POV character, but I’m not sure I should actually get kudos for that, because it was kind of blatantly obvious from the moment she got going.

My hopes are that she is Done For, because (a) she deserves it and (b) I am just tired of reading about her. Here’s hoping.

 

Character: Brienne of Tarth

What Happens to Her in AFFC

Brienne sets about her hero’s quest to find Sansa Stark, given her by Jaime and hindered by patriarchy. She repaints her shield with Dunk’s old sigil, and is soon joined by Tyrion’s former squire, Podrick Payne. She goes to Maidenpool, and meets Ser Hyle Hunt there, who had treated her badly in her youth. He takes her to Randyll Tarly, who treats her worse, but tells her of Lady Lysa’s murder. She finds a man called Nimble Dick, and bribes him to take her to where he claims he saw a “fool” take two girls to sea.

They run into several thugs from Vargo Hoat’s crew, and Brienne kills them, but not before they kill Nimble Dick. Hyle Hunt joins her and Podrick, rather against Brienne’s will, and they head to Saltpans, because Timeon claimed Sandor Clegane had “the Stark girl” with him, and that’s where he was supposedly last seen. They travel with a septon named Meribald, who brings them to the Quiet Isle, where Brienne sees a suspiciously hulking penitent and a suspiciously aggressive war stallion in the stables. The Elder Brother tells her that the Stark girl with the Hound was Arya, not Sansa, and that the Hound is dead. He urges her to abandon her quest, but Brienne tells him she cannot.

They stop at an inn populated with orphans, including one named Gendry who bears a startling resemblance to Renly, and are surprised by riders, one of whom is Rorge, wearing the Hound’s helm. Brienne kills him, but then Biter attacks her, and manages to severely mutilate her face before Gendry kills him.

Wounded and feverish, Brienne is brought before Lady Stoneheart, aka Undead!Catelyn Stark, who accuses her of treachery and oathbreaking, and offers Brienne a choice: kill Jaime Lannister, or hang. Brienne refuses to make the choice, and Catelyn’s followers nearly hang her, and Brienne screams “a word.”

What I Think Will Happen

I was confused about this last bit initially, till it was pointed out that Brienne could have shouted “Sword!” since that’s how the choice she was given was phrased. So presumably she’s agreed to kill Jaime in order to save herself, and now I am reduced to hoping that she recognizes what bullshit that “oath” is and ignores it, but given Brienne’s devotion to honor I am less than hopeful. Blarg.

 

Character: Samwell Tarly

What Happens to Him in AFFC

Jon Snow sends Sam, over his objections, to Oldtown with Gilly and her baby and the old maester Aemon (and Dareon), to study at the Citadel and replace Aemon, who will not live much longer, and also to keep Aemon (and, we discover later, Mance’s son, who has been switched out for Gilly’s real child) from Melisandre, who needs royal blood to complete her ritual of whatever.

They have a terrible journey by ship, and end up stranded in Braavos, with Aemon growing weaker by the day. Sam meets a young girl selling shellfish when she rescues him from some cutthroats, and she tells him where to find Dareon: in a brothel. Sam becomes enraged that Dareon is ignoring his oaths and his companions and pummels him until thrown into a canal, whereupon he is rescued by a Summer Islander named Xhondo, who offers him passage on his ship Cinnamon Wind.

Aemon dies while on board, but not before becoming convinced that Daenerys is the answer to the prophecy, not Stannis as Melisandre believes, and urging Sam to convince the maesters at the Citadel of the same, and to get them to send her a maester to advise her. Gilly suggests naming Dalla’s child Aemon Battleborn in his honor, and she and Sam end up sleeping together, to Sam’s deep shame.

They make it to Oldtown, where he meets Alleras the Sphinx, who takes him to Archmaester Marwyn the Mage, who has a burning dragonglass candle in his room. Marwyn is glad Aemon died before reaching the Citadel, for he claims the maesters would have killed him anyway for his support of Daenerys. Marwyn plans to go to her himself, and advises Sam to earn his chain quickly, as he will be needed on the Wall soon. Sam meets another novice there named Pate.

What I Think Will Happen

Go, Sam, go! And don’t get killed by possible assassin impersonators! Or your own teachers! Or your dad! Wow, your life sucks! Yay!

 

Character: Arya Stark/Cat of the Canals

What Happens to Her in AFFC

Arya arrives in Braavos, and joins up with a Crazy Death Cult the House of Black and White, which serves the Many-Faced God and also apparently trains assassins. She eventually listens to the old man’s exhortations to give up her worldly possessions, except for Needle, which she buries. She is sent to be a fishmonger in the city.

As Cat, she learns many things from her perambulations in the city, including that her aunt Lady Lysa is dead. She sees Dareon, and asks if his “fat brother” found passage to Oldtown; Dareon says not, and she kills him and gives his boots to her employer Brusco. She goes back to the temple, and practices her not-lying skills, and then confesses that Arya Stark killed Dareon. The old man gives her warm milk, and the next day she wakes up blind.

What I Think Will Happen

I have no idea. Except SHE’D BETTER NOT BE PERMANENTLY BLIND, YO. Also, less sociopathy in future, please.

 

Character: Jaime Lannister

What Happens to Him in AFFC

Wracked with guilt at his unwitting complicity in Tyrion’s murder of their father, Jaime is tormented by Tyrion’s accusations against Cersei, but advises her to let Margaery Tyrell marry Tommen and then send her father Mace off to hopefully be killed taking Storm’s End. He realizes Kevan knows about him and Cersei, and that Cersei knows Kevan knows, and hopes Kevan isn’t going to get assassinated.

He tells Cersei that Taena is a spy for the Tyrells, but Cersei is convinced that she is a double agent on her side, and refuses to listen to him on any of her plans. She eventually kicks him out of King’s Landing, and sends him to deal with the siege on Riverrun. On the journey, he spars with Ser Ilyn Payne in secret in an effort to regain his skill with the sword, with lackluster results. He leaves Ser Bonifer Hasty in charge of Harrenhal, and smacks around one of Brienne’s former suitors for disparaging her.

He dawdles at Darry in an effort to stave off having to break his vow re: taking up arms against the Tullys/Starks, and Lancel confesses to him that he slept with Cersei and arranged for Robert Baratheon’s fatal accident at her behest. Lancel plans to join the new religious order in penance for his sins, and Jaime is deeply embittered by this confirmation of his suspicions about Cersei.

At Riverrun, Jaime’s attempt to parley with Brynden Tully goes badly, and he makes a deal with Edmure Tully instead to surrender the castle. Brynden Tully escapes during the handover, and Edmure and Jeyne Westerling are sent to Casterly Rock as hostages; it is revealed that Lady Sybell was complicit in the events that led to the Red Wedding. Jaime is pleased at his success in taking down Riverrun without violating his oath to Catelyn, and is making plans to have Cersei removed from power when he receives her message pleading for him to come save her. He chucks it in the fire.

What I Think

I reiterate what I already said earlier: such comparatively Nice Things Happening to Jaime means a kick in the teeth doth approacheth, and said kick just might be labeled Brienne of Tarth. DAMMIT.

 

Character: Sansa Stark/Alayne Stone

What Happens to Her in AFFC

Sansa goes along with Petyr’s schemes and pretends to be his bastard daughter Alayne, and watches as he skillfully manipulates the Vale’s nobility to allow him to keep his role as Lord Protector, most especially in recruiting Ser Lyn Corbray to be his dissenter from within.

She successfully cajoles Lord Robert down off the mountain before they get stranded there by winter, in company with Lady Myranda Royce, whose friendliness she is very wary of. Petyr tells her of his plan to marry her to Harold Hardyng, the heir to the Vale after Lord Robert, and reveal her to be Sansa Stark at the wedding.

What I Think Will Happen

Given this series’ track record with weddings, I am VERY VERY leery of this plan. The End.

 

What I Think Overall

In retrospect, it makes sense that AFFC only has half the arcs it should have, because in looking over what actually happens in it, it feels very much like only half a novel, despite its objective length. I didn’t feel like it had a climactic moment the way the other novels have had; some of the other novels have had multiple climactic moments, in fact, but it doesn’t really feel like AFFC had one.

There’s Cersei’s downfall, of course, and what happened to Brienne, but… I dunno. Those just didn’t have the punch of, say, the Red Wedding, or Ned Stark’s execution. Of course, given that those two things were possibly the most shocking plot twists I’ve ever read, ever, that may be an unfair comparison, but it is a sad truth that people are always going to be looking for you to top your last amazing feat, and AFFC didn’t really do that, in my opinion.

Basically, my kneejerk reaction is that AFFC is a magic trick set-up looking for a prestige, and not giving us one. So I will have to see if ADWD pulls out the metaphorical rabbit-from-a-hat that this novel did not.


And that’s what I have to say about that, kiddie kadanzies. Next installment will be Part I of “The Mystery Knight,” the third Dunk & Egg story, so gird your loins! See ya!

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