Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Challenge of Ice and Fire: Week 5

A Game of Thrones: Tyrion V to the end of Daenerys VII (p. 674)

My previous posts:   Week 1   Week 2   Week 3   Week 4

51. Sansa IV

Good grief, but Sansa is so clueless, poor kid. She is totally deluded about her beloved Joffrey and trusts the Queen for some reason best known to herself. She needs to wake up from her fantasy soon, because she will need to use her wits to stay alive. I am getting seriously creeped out by how Littlefinger keeps looking at her because she looks like a young Cat. I am confused as to why Jeyne Poole was saved, although her future in one of Littlefinger’s brothels makes her valuable I suppose. Cersei still strikes me as not very bright but wildly over confident of her control over the kingdom. Does she really think that having Sansa write the letters will persuade the Starks to do what she wants? It is interesting that nobody mentions Arya: perhaps they thought Jeyne was her, but there is no surprise when Sansa uses Jeyne’s name.

52. Jon VII

Now, I know it has been thousands of years since the Others were last seen, but if your horses refuse to carry something surely you might think twice about taking it with you? Especially if it makes your dogs go nuts as well. Obviously, logic like this has never been fostered by the Night’s Watch. Plus, Sam had already told them a great deal about the overall weirdness of the bodies, so I am not sure what else blind Maester Aemon could add. It was good to see Sam overcoming his fear though, and showing that he is a useful member of the Watch: go, Sam! I was seriously hoping that Jon would do for that waste of space Ser Alliser Thorne, but his friends stop him doing the deed. I have no idea what punishment Jon would be facing for this act of rashness, but I guess saving the Lord Commander from Othor probably did him some good in that regards. The scene with them fighting was really creepy, especially the attack of the detached hand: it made me wonder if he and Ghost could have survived without the fire.

53. Bran VI

How crazy is Lord Umber? That moment when Grey Wind bites off two if his fingers and he laughs about! While I can understand how it shows Robb as decisive and powerfully in command, it also leaves one of his allies with a major problem when it comes to wielding a weapon. The fact that this persuades the Greatjon to be Robb’s staunchest supporter is obviously some aspect of male psychology that I simply cannot understand. It is good to see Bran coming to terms with his limitations and starting to move beyond what people normally perceive, developing a deeper connection with his roots and the old magic. I have to assume that Osha and her wisdom are going to be very useful at some point, and, as Robb basically leaves Winterfell under-manned, I suspect that she may be key to Bran’s survival later on in the series. It is ominous to think that all the political positioning in the South may fatally weaken the Seven Kingdoms before the Others and their allies come over the Wall. However, I understand how Robb chooses to deal with enemies that he can see and understand rather than a supposedly mythical unseen threat.

54. Daenerys VI

The botched attempt on Daenerys’ life: is that a set up or what? Ser Jorah just happens to appear in the nick of time to stop her drinking poison after going and getting the post. Thinking back to the discussion in Chapter 32: Arya III, where Varys and Illyrio were discussing the fact that Drogo would be unwilling to act before his son is born, I am mighty suspicious. It seems like the wine seller is one of their agents and they tell Jorah about the plan so that he can stop it in time to save Daenerys, who they obviously plan to return to the throne, whilst provoking Drogo into action. Very smart and subtle, as it also makes Jorah even more trusted and necessary to Daenerys. Of course, I might be wrong, but Varys weaves plans within plans, so nothing he does is straightforward. Of course, Drogo still needs to persuade his hoard to cross the Narrow Sea, which they will not be happy about.

55. Catelyn VIII

I loved the mother-son dynamic in this chapter: it must have been difficult for Catelyn to let Robb take the lead, but it was totally necessary. It was touching to see her recognizing how grown up he has become, and how much he resembles Ned in character. It was also a relief to see that he had a good grasp of military tactics and that he could deploy his officers successfully, after a little promoting from his Mum.

56. Tyrion VII

The Mighty Tyrion leads his crew of insane clansmen down out of the mountains and towards Lord Tywin’s army. I say insane, because you have to wonder about a clan that selects the man who chooses to burn out his own eye to be their war leader: if that is not insane, then I do not know what is! He should meet up with the Greatjon: they would get along famously! Lord Tywin seems to have the same level of human understanding as his smallest son, deftly manipulating the clansmen in agreeing to fight for him. I just wish he could see past Tyrion’s disability and recognize the many talents that he has.

57. Sansa V

So, the evil Joffrey and his deplorable mother are so stupid that they read out a list of people who need to swear fealty to the throne and include Arya in it. That does kind of suggest that they have misplaced her, so admits to a huge weakness on their behalf, but they fail to keep it hidden: doh! But then, they go on to tell Ser Barristan Selmy to retire, even though the Kingsguard talk their vow for life and he does not seem to have done anything to act against them: double doh! This is a man who is supposed to still be the best sword in the kingdom, even though he is fairly aged: just the man you want to insult. I fail to see why Cersei thought this was a good idea, but I am increasingly of the opinion that she is remarkably stupid when it comes to politics and how to deal with people. Sansa finally does something useful by begging that Ned be allowed to take the Black if he makes a full confession. Joffrey seems to agree to this, but he is about as sensible as his mother.

58. Eddard XV

We have more back-story about Lyanna and her relationship to Rhaegar. He gives the winning laurel to her, instead of to his wife: that does seem to suggest that there was something going on between them. For Ned to be brooding on these scenes from his life means that they have a massive importance, which fits with the importance of bastards in his present situation. Varys comes to see Ned and gives him plenty of other things to think about. He seems to genuinely regret Ned’s circumstances, but is somewhat bemused by Ned’s stupid honesty. At least Varys is honest about one thing, it seems: that he serves the Realm, not the King. To this end, he wants stability and peace, so he encourages Ned to follow Sansa’s plan, reminding him that she will suffer if he refuses to cooperate. I am not quite sure what Varys is trying to do, and how Ned taking the Black would help, but he does seem to be a little less power-crazed than the rest of the Small Council.

59. Catelyn IX

I have sneaking regard for Walder Frey. He is politically astute and has maintained his seat through cunning rather than power of arms. Of course, his vast army of offspring is both impressive and disturbing, but he has the potential to be linked to every House in the realm by marring them all off. Although, it seems like most of the Houses are unwilling to help him out there, so Catelyn has to agree to two marriages in order to get his cooperation. However, she handles him very well, especially as he seems to be somewhat misogynistic. He also confirms that Jon Arryn had planned to send young Robert to Stannis to be fostered. The fact that we have had this repeated makes me think that it must be significant: I just cannot work out why.

60. Jon VIII

This Chapter has a pair of very powerful scenes. First, Lord Mormont gives Jon his sword Steelclaw. I am not sure if this is purely because Jon has saved his life, but it is certainly a token of how highly Mormont rates him. Having the pommel reshaped as Ghost is something really special, and I loved how everyone else was ‘in’ on the surprise. It is also nice to hear that Ser Alliser Thorne is now travelling to King’s Landing with an undead hand in a box: I hope it scares Joffrey half to death. Then we have the revelation that Maester Aemon is a Targaryen. The thought that he chose to stay at the Wall during Robert’s uprising and the murder of his young relatives says a great deal about the man, as does the fact that he refused to be King. I hope that this will make Jon realize that he is not the only person in the night’s Watch who has a life beyond the Wall that he has left behind.

61. Daenerys VII

This is a very disturbing Chapter. The casual degradation of the defeated by the Khalasar is very unpleasant to read, although I know that this is how many cultures view the defeated. For example, the Japanese during World War II were disgusted by captured Allied soldiers, because they themselves would have chosen death over surrender. Still, it is hard to see multiple rapes as an honor: it is certainly not how I would feel about it. It is good to see Daenerys asserting her values, but I am not sure if it will have any major effect on the khalasar or how they are viewed. Do we trust Mirri Maz Duur to be on the up and up in her treatment of Drogo, or is this a massive mistake on Dany’s part? 

1 comment:

  1. Cersei may appear a bit dim here but I think one thing that the TV series got right was in casting Lena Heady as her to portray the strong independent woman that she's supposed to be.


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