Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Challenge of Ice and Fire: Week 2

A Game of Thrones: Sansa I to the end of Jon IV (p. 271)

My first post is here.

15. Sansa I

Here we get our first look inside Sansa's head and explore the relationship between the two Stark sisters. They are opposites in almost all ways, and have a love / hate relationship that I can relate to very well: I have only one sibling, a younger sister. Both sisters are very strong characters, although Sansa's obedience can make her seem weak at times. She notes that the kennel master thinks that dogs become like their masters, and we can definitely see this with the girls' two wolves. It is unfortunate that she is infatuated with Joffrey, who shows his true colors in the incident with Arya and the butcher's boy, Mycah. A pity that Nymeria didn't bite him more seriously! One does have to ask how Joffrey can be so awful with a sword that Arya disarms him??? I would sack his weapons trainer! 

16. Eddard III

The aftermath of Joffrey's injury is cruel and brutal. It seems that the Queen takes delight in exerting power, especially when it is not what Robert wants to do and he lets himself be manipulated. I don't understand why she has such a hatred for the wolves, though I suppose it could simply be one way to show Ned that she has more power than he does. This seems to mark the point at which Ned loses all respect for Robert and finally sees what a total mess he is stepping into.  

17. Bran III

We begin by sharing Bran's dream of falling while a crow tells him to "Fly!". He seems to have visions of the real events happening to his family, but there are mystical elements as well, such as a shadowy giant looming over the Hound and Jaime Lannister. He looks to the far North and sees what is coming: the three-eyed crow says that this is why he must live, and then he is flying up, but the crow begins to pick at his forehead and  he wakes up. This is the first real indication that there is something 'different' about the Stark children. The bird seems to be pecking at Bran's third eye, perhaps to open it and allow him to use his psychic abilities, whatever they are.

18. Catelyn IV

So, we meet two of the most intriguing characters in King's Landing: Littlefinger and Varys. I can't help thinking that neither of them is entirely trustworthy, and I really did want Catelyn to be less trusting and far more circumspect with them. Littlefinger, especially, seems very slippery and I don't trust him as far as I could spit him: he has risen surprisingly high for a man of fairly lowly birth. Plus he tries to blame Tyrion for the attempt on Bran's life! This is a very ham-fisted attempt to frame Tyrion, who would never be stupid enough to give some thug such a distinctive dagger to do the deed even if he had ordered the killing. Unfortunately, Catelyn is not proving to be too good at looking at the person behind the name: Tyrion may be a Lannister, but he is straightforward and mostly honest, whereas Littlefinger is a conniving little snot that she rejected when they were children. Notice that there is no mention that he has married? This is highly significant I think.

19. Jon III

This was one section that didn't translate very well to the TV screen. By aging the characters a few years it seemed a bit strange to see Jon behaving like a dumb kid, but when we remember he is supposed to be thirteen it seems more appropriate. Just like Arya, he can't help himself and speaks out when he should keep quiet, making a dangerous enemy in Alliser Thorne. However, he seems to have made a friend in Tyrion, who has more potential for power as an ally. I too would like to see Ser Alliser train Ghost to juggle! :D

20. Eddard IV

So, Renly looks just like Robert: does this emphasize Joffrey's non-Baratheon looks or what? I was appalled to find out how totally useless Robert has been as a king. However, his ability to run up debts must have been facilitated by the Small Council, especially Littlefinger: and it does call into question the great Jon Arryn's usefulness as Hand. This set whole churches full of alarm bells ringing for me when I read it. Yet again, Littlefinger sets off my suspicion radar: he is just so sneaky and has that smug 'I know something you don't know' thing going on. I am not sure how Ned stopped himself from punching him in his irritating little mouth with its little pointy beard. Finally, Ned notices that he has allowed both his daughters to lose their protective wolves and that they are defenseless in the viper's nest that is King's Landing.

21. Tyrion III

The mighty Tyrion calls out Alliser Thorne as a miserable bastard, which could just be his good character judgment or could be influenced by Thorne's dislike for Jon. I am not sure which it is, but it is certainly funny. Maester Aeon makes the amazing statement that Tyrion is 'a giant come among us'. I do hope that foreshadows Tyrion's greatness-to-come, especially as he and Jon are now officially friends. I found The Old Bear's plea for help for the Night's watch very sad, as I am pretty sure that it will be ignored by everyone while they squabble over the Iron Throne like pigeons fighting over grain while a huge truck is bearing down on them. Hopefully, Tyrion will be able to do something to help, but I am not holding my breath on that one.

22. Arya II

All is not well in the Hand's household. Sansa and Arya are still bickering and Ned is struggling to cope. However, it was good to see that Ned's idea of ruling was so totally different from Robert's. It seems that Arya has inherited this concern for the common people from her father, unlike Sansa. We also see Ned as a father as he comforts Arya and makes her understand their situation. I note that he compares her to Lyanna, who was also wild and willful, and is willing to let her express her true nature, even if it is not what is expected of a lady. 

23. Daenerys III

Daenerys is really becoming her own woman and leaving Viserys behind: oh dear, what a shame! While he is all bluster and petulance, she is becoming more at ease with the power she now wields. He seems to be totally oblivious to the real world going on outside of his head, and is so full of himself that he really should burst. Yet again he grabs her breast to hurt her: so the whip around the neck was really welcome. I also liked how Jorah Mormont dropped him like a hot brick: team Daenerys is definitely the place to be.

24. Bran IV

Old Nan's stories about the deep Winter and the Others go a long way towards explaining the Stark's seriousness about their words: 'Winter is Coming'. The Others sound like everyone's worst nightmare, and I wish we could have heard the end of the story about how the Children of the Forest defeated them. Tyrion's plan for a saddle for Bran rules him out as a suspect in the whole stabbing debacle as far as I can see: I have to assume that Summer doesn't like him because he smells similar to his siblings, and Summer knows that they hurt Bran because he is a super-intelligent dire wolf who smelt them in the tower.

25. Eddard V

Am I the only one who thinks that Maester Pycelle is as dodgy as Littlefinger and Varys? I find it odd that he has jewels in his maester's chain: does this indicate vanity or the bribes he has accepted? It is not at all suspicious that Jon Arryn died after Pycelle took over his care: not at all! He does seem to point the finger at Varys though: everyone hates the poor eunuch.   I hate that Arya has to conform with being a lady, though the gods help whomever she marries!

26. Jon IV

I think this chapter shows a lot of maturity from Jon. We meet Sam Tarly, who I have to admit I like a lot: I have a sneaking suspicion that he will become something totally amazing in the future. I liked how Jon has progressed from his earlier chapter this week and can now lead the recruits in a way that saves everyone's hides, while hopefully training everyone. Sam's life story is so sad, and I wanted to kick his father in the dangly bits for his treatment of the lad, that I automatically want him to succeed. Jon is quite right that it takes courage to admit to being a coward. I know that Sam's other talents will be recognized and utilized by the Brothers, but I have a sneaky suspicion that he will be Jon's uber sidekick: he is called SAM, after all! :)

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