Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Challenge of Ice and Fire: Week 9

A Clash of Kings: Sansa II to the end of Tyrion VI (p. 412)

My previous posts on A Clash of Kings:   week 7   week 8

18. Sansa II

It is good to see that Sansa is finally learning to think more deeply before she acts, and that she no longer trusts Cersei to behave fairly to her. However, she is still a hopeless romantic, so I felt very sorry for Ser Dontos when she was obviously disappointed that he is her possible savior. He, for his part, knows that he is not worthy and has led his life poorly up to this point, but he is determined to repay her kindness to him. I am not sure if he can actually follow through on his promise to take her home, mainly because he is a drunkard. On the way back to her room she encounters a very drunken Hound. For some reason that I have not managed to work out yet, he is protective of her and even lies to prevent her being punished. They seem to be developing an understanding of sorts, although I am not sure if it will actually help Sansa in the long run.

19. Arya V

I am glad that Arya and her little posse managed to escape from the burning tower, but it seems like they have had little luck since then. Abandoned by the adults and carrying the wounded Lommy, they are slowly starving to death, reduced to eating bugs and worms. I really liked the scene where Arya and Gendry walk towards the village and he makes it obvious that he knows that she is a girl. She is so determined to shout him down, but he is very matter of fact about what she obviously cannot do to prove her manhood. He seems to be a pretty bright spark, although he is much better at keeping his mouth shut than she is. When he wants to know why the Queen might want her, she decides to trust him with the truth, which I actually think is a wise decision. His stammering once he realizes that he has been urinating in front of a highborn lady was a nice touch, although I think it soon moved to teasing on his part. He is quickly becoming her big brother, and knowing his ancestry makes it all feel like it is predestined in some way.

But then he goes and gets caught by Gregor Clegane’s men, and that is a Very Bad Thing! At least, it turns out to be for Lommy, although his constant whining about yielding was getting a bit annoying. As Gendry had already said, he was going to die anyway, but this was still a shocking act of cruelty. I am not looking forward to finding out what happens in the long building where they have all the prisoners: I doubt that it involves anything pleasant. I also want to know why Clegane is searching for Beric Dondarrion.

20. Tyrion V

Can someone please explain to me why anyone would want thousands of jars of wildfire stored under their castle, even if they are stored underwater?

Tyrion’s precaution of getting the guardsmen to practice with empty pots first seems like a really good idea to me! I also agree that Joffrey is not someone that you want to have access to wildfire: he seems to be making enough trouble with normal weapons at his disposal. I particularly liked his comment that the people rioting for food could eat the dead left by his archers: if that approach does not rally the people to his cause, I doubt that they can be persuaded at all!

The more we see of Tyrion working as the Hand, the more I realize how totally ineffectual Cersei is. She has a hissy fit because he has arranged for Myrcella to be sent to the Martells and has had the audacity to see to more urgent business before attending to her summons. She refuses to see the sense of what Tyrion is saying and instead is carried along by her rage. I can understand that she does not want her daughter to be a political pawn, but I am not sure what she does intend for her future. Tyrion seems to genuinely love Myrcella and Tommen, so to accuse him of being rash when it comes to her safety is more than a little harsh. Cersei is so determined to be strong and control that she lets this weaken her, pushing away Tyrion’s reflexive sympathy for her distress. She is too wrapped in self-pity and anger to realize that she has revealed that Pycelle was in her pocket. As I think I have said before she thinks that she is wonderfully cunning, so superior to Tyrion and others, but she is actually about as subtle as a brick.

I liked the idea that Thoros of Myr’s flaming sword is a trick done with wildfire: I do like it when science is mistaken for magic. I did not like Tyrion being described as a ‘twisted little monkey demon.’ He is the mighty Tyrion, and you should all respect his awesomeness!

21. Bran III

So we FINALLY are getting somewhere with Bran’s third eye.

The Reed children are certainly interesting, especially the boy, Jojen, although knowing the day that you will die seems more of a curse than an advantage to me. Their father was a staunch supporter of Ned’s, and the only person still alive who was present when Ned reached Lyanna in the Tower of Joy. I hope that some day he will reveal what Ned promised her. I am somewhat disgusted by the way that everyone seems to sneer at the Reeds just because they live in marshland and have learnt how to exploit it. It seems that Jojen will be able to answer a lot of questions that I have about the dire wolves. We also get real confirmation that Bran is indeed seeing through Summer’s eyes in his dreams, and it seems that Jojen can break that link.

22. Catelyn II

Robb is starting to act more and more like the Lord of Winterfell, which Catelyn finds difficult because her opinions are carrying less weight with him. She is unhappy about her trip to see Renly, but it is a sound strategy from Robb and she is the obvious person to send.

Renly’s army is certainly impressive, which suggests that the south of Westeros is more fertile and populous than the north. I would agree with Catelyn that I have no idea why Renly is wasting time with a tourney, especially as this might maim or kill some of his knights, but I guess there is some plan behind it. Tyrion mentions at some point that Renly is giving the other armies time to wipe each other out, so that is probably it.

I am prepared to fall in love with the character of Brienne of Tarth. We have met women on the battlefield before, such as Lady Mormont, but Brienne is really beating men at their own game. She is despised, as I would expect, because she is a woman who is not classically beautiful and can do things better than most men. Unfortunately, she seems to be in love Renly, which may lead to her undoing, but I do hope not.

It seems that Renly is overly optimistic about who should be king. Although I agree with him that Stannis is way too rigid to be a good king, there is one tiny problem: Stannis does not agree with either of us. This and his actions in A Game of Thrones, make me think that Renly is politically naive. In contrast, Stannis is a determined and experienced general, so I doubt that the siege of Storm’s End will be easily driven off.

23. Jon III

Craster seems like such a nice chap! However, he seems to have found a way to survive in the wilds, which has to be admired, even if he is a disgusting, incestuous murderer. I am not sure that I want to know more about what happens to the baby boys, as I think it might give me nightmares. I felt very sorry for his daughter / wives, although it does seem like they could take advantage of him when he is asleep and free themselves. However, I know that the victims of abuse like this are often brainwashed into believing that their captor is actually their savior, so I understand why they do not act.

Poor Sam, he apparently thinks that Jon is some sort of god and can do anything: bless him! Jon feels genuinely sorry for Gilly, but he is right to say that there is nothing he can do. I have a horrible suspicion that Sam will try to do something though because he is such a sweetheart.

I am very intrigued by Mance Rayder, and you have to respect a man who can turn the Wildlings into a cohesive unit. I think that the Old Crow is being very rash in moving against this force, but we shall see. I loved the little moment of Ghost and the rabbits: he is such a wonderful character all by himself. Dolorous Ed continues to provide some great light relief with his depressed sarcasm.

24. Theon II

Theon continues to disappoint me and his attitude towards women is truly appalling. However, the reveal about his sister Asha was very funny, although it was a little gross to think of all the fondling that had gone on: yikes! It seems like she is another seriously badass lady: her axe throwing might even give Brienne something to worry about. Interestingly, Asha does not seem to be treated with the same disdain as Brienne. This is possibly due to the Iron Islanders being equal opportunity thieving bastards, but more likely because she has been Lord Balon’s only living heir for the last ten years. She makes Theon look very inferior and his petulant protestations that he is the heir seem all the more pathetic in the light of her obvious competence.

So, Lord Balon means to plunder the North East coast whilst Robb is away? I wonder if he is related to Lord Frey at all: because they both seem to have a weasel-like instinct for taking advantage of any chance they can get.

25. Tyrion VI

Oh Tyrion, you are naughty: fancy giving dear Cersei something to give her tummy troubles! I have to admit that I did laugh at the thought! It is certainly a cunning way to outwit her and allow him to do a few things that she would disagree with. I loved how he handled Robb’s demands and twisted it around to get rid of Cersei’s Lannister guards. His later manipulations of Cersei via Varys were masterful, although I am not sure that there is any plan to break Jaime free.  I may have said this before, but Tyrion could be a truly great King if he could just get Joffrey’s head on a spike.

I was somewhat disappointed by his dismissal of Ser Alliser Thorne, but the taking of Maester Pycelle made up for the disappointment. There is nothing quite so satisfying as seeing a truly repellent person being made to wet himself in terror. It seems that Pycelle has been in the Lannister pocket for a considerable time, no wonder he has all those nice gems in his maester’s chain. However, he did not administer the poison to Jon Arryn, just made sure he died. I do hope that we solve that mystery at some point, as it is starting to annoy me now!

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