Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Challenge of Ice and Fire: Week 11

A Clash of Kings: Catelyn V to the end of Arya IX (p. 695)

My previous posts on A Clash of Kings:   week 7   week 8   week 9   week 10

39. Catelyn V

So, Brienne is now sworn to serve Catelyn: interesting. It seems like a good idea, especially if it stops Brienne from throwing her life away in a hopeless attempt to kill Stannis. Judging by the gossip and rumor flying about, she would be just as likely to be killed by Renly’s supporters as his murderer before she even got to Storm’s End anyway. I have high hopes for Brienne because she is so stubborn in her pursuit of what she loves, even though the whole world stands against her. I also like that she does not place herself above other women, praising Catelyn for her ‘woman’s courage’ and seeming to say that being brave is so much easier when you can lose yourself in the turmoil of battle.

I am intrigued about the hints surrounding Lysa and her marriage to Jon Arryn. It sounds like there was some sort of scandal about a young man: Littlefinger perhaps? They say that a lie is best if it is partial truth, and he did brag about taking both Tully girls’ virginity. Maybe that was part truth because he did deflower the clueless Lysa when Catelyn rejected him.

Just like Catelyn, I am very nervous about Edmure’s plans. The fact that his staff are so dumb that they fell for the mummer pretending to be him when he was actually out of the castle makes me very worried indeed. I am almost disappointed that Tyrion tried to release Jaime in such an under-hand way, but it does show how much he loves his big brother.

40. Daenerys III

I understand that Daenerys wants to find allies in order to retake the iron throne, but I think that she is in great danger in Qarth. The only person being remotely honest with her is Quaithe, the shadowbinder. However, the other shadowbinder from Asshai that we have met is Melisandre, so I am not inclined to trust her too much. I think it is much more telling that she claims that Daenerys’ arrival has made magic more potent in Qarth, though it is more likely to be the presence of the dragons in my opinion. It seems like we will see everyone fighting over the dragons very soon whilst they are still small and easily handled.

I have a horrible suspicion that she should have stayed in that abandoned city until the dragons were big enough to scare the snot out of anyone trying to threaten her. As Jorah says, she needs to leave, but nowhere looks any better than Qarth at the moment.

41. Tyrion IX

I am amazed that Myrcella and Tommen seem like nice, normal children: perhaps they take after Jaime rather than Cersei. The Martells of Dorne sound like an interestingly independent lot, standing apart from all the warring that is ravaging the rest of the Kingdom.

Joffrey, bless him, is a total idiot who is lucky that he only got a face full of dung. I loved his petulant screams for whoever did it to own up or be given up by the crowd: hilarious! However, it was nowhere near as funny as Tyrion slapping him and then giving him a good kicking: oh, how I laughed! I was pleasantly surprised that Cersei defended Tyrion in his attempts to rescue the other members of the party who had been left behind and to secure the city from spreading fire. Thank goodness that the Hound was there to save Sansa from the gang rape that Lady Tanda’s daughter suffered. He and Tyrion seem to be the only ones who realize how important she is, though for different reasons.

I am truly grieved for Tyrion, who is doing his very best to keep the city running in a sensible way but is blamed for all the disasters that happen. Of course, the small people do not realize how much worse things would be without him to moderate Joffrey’s stupidity, so they blame him for everything. I did like Bronn’s suggestion that Joffrey have a little ‘accident’, but that would not really help as Tyrion would still be seen as the puppet master of the King. Though Tommen could probably be relied upon not to make things worse by being an evil sociopath.

42. Davos II

Poor Stannis, suffering from nightmares after Renly’s death: strangely, I don’t feel a lot of sympathy for him, considering that Melisandre seems to be responsible for it. Now she is helping him ‘sleep’. That just does not sound good, and I can only imagine what it is doing to morale in the army, especially as a great deal of it was following Renly quite recently. It is strange how Stannis can overlook their previous treason of supporting Renly, considering what he did to Davos for a bit of smuggling before saving everyone’s lives. It seems that Stannis has mellowed a little in his old age, although he does hint that they will be dealt with once he is king: he is such a happy bunny!

However, he does have the common sense to totally disregard most of his advisors in favor of Davos, who will tell him honestly what he thinks of any situation. In many ways this reminds me of the Robert / Ned relationship because Davos seems like a very honest, honorable man, even if he began life as a smuggler. He also seems to be a very good judge of character, having much more regard for Ser Cortnay Penrose, the Steward holding Storm’s End, than for most of the Lords supporting Stannis. Although I admire Ser Cortnay’s courage, I am not sure that it was wise to insult Melisandre. I am very concerned that Stannis is so sure of Melisandre’s visions in the flames as she says that they always come true, and yet one of them showed Renly’s army crushing Stannis’ outside King’s Landing. If they always come true then what about that one?

The final scene, with Melisandre in the boat was very disturbing. I guess we have some idea how she is helping Stannis to sleep now, considering that the shadow thing looks just like him and she gives birth to it. That means that he is indirectly responsible for killing his own brother: no wonder he has trouble sleeping. I can only imagine poor Davos’ shock at what he sees and what he knows will happen inside the castle.

43. Jon V

We are starting to learn more about the Wildlings and how they operate. It seems that they are not the bunch of disorganized savages that many believe them to be: but their leader is an ex-Brother, so that should be no surprise. Qhorin Halfhand seems like a total badass, which gives me some hope, but his news that the Wildlings intend to blast a hole through the Wall is a little more depressing. It also suggests that the Wildlings are very serious about their need to go south, which makes me even more concerned about what they are running from. Also, what is this sorcery that Mance Rayder is looking for?

I am interested that Qhorin choses to take Jon with him on the scouting mission. Is it because he has Ghost? He mentions that Mance Rayder has wargs: are these super-wolves of some type, like in Tolkien?

I guess it is very significant that Jon made weapons and gifts of the stash of dragonglass that he found. I hope everyone keeps them close to hand, as I think they will need them far too soon.

44. Tyrion X

Why would Cersei send Tommen away after making such a fuss about Myrcella? It makes a lot of sense to get him out of the city, but it does not seem like something Cersei would do, so I am a little suspicious. I am also worried about Tyrion’s lack of caution is riding directly to Shae’s manse: this seems like asking for trouble. Although I can understand why he needs to see her so badly. I am very unsure about his decision to send her to the castle to protect her: this seems like a disaster waiting to happen, but, again, I understand his concern for her.

I love Varys’ disguises: they are wonderfully detailed and thorough, just like the man himself. I also love that Shae can see right through them. We also learn about how he became a eunuch, which is a callous and deplorable act that allows a magic user to gain some benefit. It makes Varys much more sympathetic and understandable as a character, and explains why he is very suspicious of anyone claiming to use magic. He is very afraid of Melisandre, probably because he has seen other shadowbinders in action.

I am not sure that I want to know what the shadow did to Ser Cortnay.

45. Catelyn VI

We can only hope that Stannis is parading Robert’s bastard around to prove that Joffrey is not the heir: if only because it will annoy Cersei and possibly make poor little Joffrey cry. However, people will only believe what they want to, so it may not make Stannis’ claim to the throne any more secure.

It sounds like things might be going well for the Starks and Tullys. Edmure’s defenses seem to outwit the Lannister army and foil its attempts to cross the river, but now they have ridden off, which might be good or bad. Roose Bolton is off to take Harrenhal, which could mean that Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie get rescued, but that might be too much to hope for.

There is some interesting stuff about bastards here and the different attitudes to them. Also, Catelyn notes that Jon looks more like Ned than any of her children with the exception of Arya, which is one of the reasons that she believes that people will not believe Stannis’ claims of incest. Catelyn still struggles with the grief of Jon’s alleged ancestry, even after so many years. I am not sure if this is because she fell in love with Ned or whether it was a blow to her pride.

Hurray! Gregor Clegane is injured!

46. Bran VI

I loved the opening scene with Bran inside Summer’s head, especially his attempts to climb the tree. I want to know more about this ability and I want to know which of the other children have it.

Theon Greyjoy, you have earned a special place in hell for your treachery: I hope that Summer and Shaggydog get to feast on your entrails. And letting your men beat on Hodor! This was totally inexcusable and I cannot say what I felt about it because it involves lots of profanity! :(

So, now we know what Jojen’s dream meant, and we know that it came true. I hope he starts sharing more prophetic visions and that people will take notice now: I know that Bran certainly will.

I am now even more suspicious of Reek or whatever his name is: there is just something very wrong about that guy. I am hoping that Osha has sworn fealty in order to help Bran and Rickon: I will be very disappointed if she sells them out.

47. Arya IX

That charming bunch of fellows, the Bloody Mummers, returns with many Stark supporters as prisoners. Arya sees this as a golden opportunity and tries to persuade Gendry to help her free the prisoners. However, he is very pragmatic, judging that one master is as good as another, so he sees no need to leave or rock the boat. Perhaps if he knew why the Goldcloaks were after him, he would be a little more anxious to keep moving. I understand his point of view, but I also understand Arya’s determination to do something.

Her developing relationship with Jaqen H’ghar is very interesting and I really like how he treats her as an equal rather than as a little child. She shows how much she deserves her respect by naming him as the third death that he owes the red god. He is visibly shaken, which shows how seriously he takes his oath. He persuades her to change her mind in return for helping her to release the prisoners. This is scary enough, but the fact that he controls Rorge and Biter is even more so.

How awesome is his ability to totally change what he looks like? How does he do that? What is he? I do hope that we will meet him again, which I think is likely since he has given Arya a way to contact him in Braavos.

It seems that Ser Armory Lorch made the mistake of upsetting the Bloody Mummers, who sold him out to Roose Bolton. This is a shame because the Mummers are a bunch of nasty men who could all do with being killed. I am not sure if this treachery was orchestrated before the Mummers returned to the keep, or if it was the outcome of Arya releasing the prisoners. Either way I am fairly certain that Arya did well to hide her identity. Trust nobody, Arya!

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