Monday, June 25, 2012

A Challenge of Ice and Fire: Week 12

A Clash of Kings: Daenerys IV to the end of Davos III (p. 836)

My previous posts on A Clash of Kings:   week 7   week 8   week 9   week 10   week 11

48. Daenerys IV

This chapter, where Daenerys visits the House of the Undying, was chock full of visions and prophesies, or perhaps memories and possible futures. I am not sure if we should take anything that she sees there as significant, although many of the snippets seemed to refer to things that we have seen or been told. I have a sneaking suspicion that I could write a dissertation trying to analyze them all and that their significance will not become apparent until much later in the series, so to investigate them now would lead to many Spoilers. At first I thought that taking Drogon with her was a massive mistake, but I was proved wrong as he saved the day quite wonderfully. I was very interested in the tiny man at the door: what is he? I have read a suggestion that he is one of the Children of the Forest, which ties in with the use of weirwood for one of the final doors, but nothing is what it seems here, so I am keeping an open mind.

49. Tyrion XI

Although the clansmen are going to have a fine time annoying Stannis, I cannot help thinking that it was a very bad idea to send them all away. I know that Bronn has recruited a lot of sellswords, but I doubt that they will remain loyal and protect Tyrion when he needs them. However, he is still making good tactical decisions about the preparations for the siege, so I have hope that he will come through it in one piece, more or less. I fear that the self-proclaimed ‘Antler Men’ will have an unpleasant meeting with Bronn or his sellswords soon enough to reduce the impact of any treachery in the city.

I was surprised a little that Tyrion was regretful about Winterfell falling to Theon Greyjoy. He seemed to have real feeling that the Starks deserved to hold it that was not only based on his dislike for Theon. Of course, this could be one member of a Great House sympathizing with another and nothing more profound than that.

We have a second suggestion that magic has suddenly started to work more successfully and the Pyromancer specifically mentions that dragons might have that effect. Of course, this makes me wonder why the dragons died out in the first place and why they have returned now. It seems like someone thinks that a little more magic might be needed in the world just now, which is a pretty scary thought.

50. Theon IV

Oopsie! Theon has been outwitted by a cripple, an infant, a pair of ‘frogeaters’, a mentally-challenged stable boy, a woman and a pair of dire wolves: oh, I did laugh! I sincerely hope that something very unpleasant happens to Theon in the near future, because he really deserves it. I am trying to decide if he is actually stupid or just very naive, because he seems to have no clue how to deal with his men or those captured in Winterfell. Of course, he trusts Reek, so I tend to think that he is actually pretty dumb, because there is something so obviously WRONG about Reek that I wouldn’t be surprised to find the word written on his forehead. Plus, he brings along a set of the kids’ clothes just in case they need to ‘find’ a couple of bodies to bring back: this struck me as very strange. Who thinks like that and plans ahead for the situation? A psycho: that’s who.

I did feel a tiny bit sorry for Theon on the search, because he got increasingly desperate and petulant. I seriously thought that he was going to start crying like a little child denied a lollipop. I also liked Maester Luwin’s subtle digs and possible sarcasm. I know the good Maester is supposed to serve Winterfell, not the Starks, but I feel like he is a little biased against Theon. Also, yet again, Theon’s attitude towards women makes me want to slap his.

51. Jon VI

So, Osha is not the only lady wildling with a big axe and a yearning to use it. Ygritte is very brave and practical, much as Osha is and she shows great courage in the face of death. She is obviously going to be a significant character because Jon spared her life. I really hope that he does not regret his decision later. As a female, I am very ambivalent about his discomfort about murdering a woman: part of me wants him to treat all enemy soldiers as the same, but then I am quite happy that he is not an indiscriminate killing machine.

A large chunk of this chapter is given over to Ygritte telling the tale of Bael the Bard. It is unusual for us to get this kind of story in such detail, which makes me think that there must be some significance or foreshadowing going on. One obvious hint seems to be the mention of hiding in the crypts under Winterfell: I wonder if that is where Bran and the others are hiding out?

52. Sansa IV

I am not sure if Ser Dontos actually intends to fulfill his promise to Sansa or if it is just a drunken dream of his. He does seem to have some common sense in judging how well she is guarded and how safe she would be outside the city, but I am not sure if he will ever judge the time to be ‘right’ for her to leave. She has another encounter with the Hound, who always seems to be near to her. He is roaring drunk, obviously scared by the fires burning along the docks. I feel that there is a decent man inside the Hound trying to get out, but that years of abuse by his elder brother have destroyed his ability to show that man to anyone. It is nothing but ironic that Sansa is aided by the two ‘worst’ knights in the city.

Poor girl, she is not having a good day: an awful nightmare and then waking to a bed covered in blood. Her fear that this will mean that she must marry Joffrey is horrible to read as are her desperate attempts to hide the evidence. Although I am not sure how she could explain the state of her bedroom, I can understand her need to do something even if it is futile. Cersei’s comments about the joys of becoming a woman leave a lot to be desired, but she is a bitter woman who has never come to terms with her own thwarted ambitions, so I suppose that they are hardly surprising. However, I do feel like she is being particularly coarse in order to make Sansa even more uncomfortable.

53. Jon VII

I am not quite sure what Qhorin expected Jon to do, but he seems very neutral about Ygritte’s fate. I cannot believe that he does not see her as a threat to their safety, because she will obviously betray their position to her people.

The dream that Jon experiences is confirmation that he is linked to Ghost, just as Bran and Rickon are. It is also significant that he is contacted by Bran via a weirwood. Bran appears to have opened his third eye and touches Jon to open his. I was very concerned about Ghost after the eagle attack and very relieved when they found him and tended to his wounds. Interesting that everyone but Jon seems to have heard of skinwalkers, and accepts that he is one of them without too much trouble. Perhaps this explains why Qhorin wanted to take him along with them. It seems like the eagle is being used another skinchanger, so maybe they come across this ability quite frequently.

I was rather touched by Squire Dalbridge’s decision to sacrifice himself to allow the others to escape. We see the ‘no-one gets left behind’ ethos so much in films and on TV that it was a surprise, although it does make perfect sense.

54. Tyrion XII

I refuse to believe that Bran and Rickon are dead. I am sure that Jon would have known, via Ghost, and we have just seen Bran alive.

I was pleasantly surprised that Cersei’s reaction was not more triumphalist, but as we find out that she is feeling very happy with herself, I guess it makes sense. She is amazingly blunt about Jaime throwing a child out of a window, showing no sympathy for Bran or his family: she really is cold-hearted, especially as she is so over-protective of her own children. I am not sure if I believe her comment about Varys trying to make them all depend upon him, but it could very well be true. However, her prideful assumption that she has outwitted Tyrion makes me distrust her political acumen. On the eve of battle, is it really a good idea to annoy the person running your city? She is so shortsighted that I am amazed that she can cross a room without falling over. However, Tyrion’s reaction was a coldblooded promise of retribution and I believe that he will carry out the threat: hopefully quite soon.

55. Catelyn VII

I really like the relationship developing between Catelyn and Brienne. Brienne is a genuinely nice person, despite all the bad treatment that she has suffered, and is very empathetic and moved by Catelyn’s grief. I like this about Brienne: she is a warrior and outwardly mannish, but she does not despise those women who have followed a more traditional path and she does not try to squash all her ‘womanly’ attributes.

It is an eternity since we last ‘saw’ Jaime himself although we have heard about him a lot. He seems to be quite sanguine and coping with his imprisonment quite well, although I am not sure how much of that is show and bravado. He is remarkably frank with Catelyn, answering her questions in return for answers of his own. Just like Cersei, he denies having anything to do with the assassin sent to knife Bran, which leaves us with a real mystery. He confirms Tyrion’s account of the betting at the tourney, although it sounds like he does know who won the knife. Inadvertently, he tells Catelyn of Littlefinger’s claim to have deflowered her.

He relates how Aerys killed Lord Rickard and Brandon Stark, which is amazingly cruel and makes it easier to understand why Jaime chose to kill the King. He is very bitter about this, because he sees it as his greatest act of honor and knighthood and yet he is reviled for it. What he says is very provoking, so I do hope that Catelyn does not want Brienne’s sword for something that cannot be undone.

56. Theon V

Theon is having horrible nightmares about murdering everyone at the mill to provide a couple of boys’ corpses to present as Bran and Rickon. I do not have a great deal of sympathy with him. He has placed all his trust in Reek, getting him to ‘deal with’ the men who knew about the fabrication: this is a stunningly stupid decision and will end in no good. Asha is quite right to call him a fool, as he gave no forethought to his marvelous plan to be King in the North. Just to show how truly hopeless he is, he has given Reek some money to go out get some men, who Reek will obviously hand straight over to Theon . . . of, course he will! I would trust Reek to do that, because Reek is a straight up, honest man!

57. Sansa V

This chapter reminded me quite a lot of Catelyn IV, when Catelyn prays in the little chapel on the night before Renly’s attack on Stannis. We learn quite a lot about the religion of the Seven, seeing how it is practiced by various people.

Yet again, Tyrion is polite, even gentle, with Sansa and is concerned for her safety, whilst Joffrey treats her more like a pet. I loved her jibes about Robb always fighting in the thickest part of the battle and Joffrey’s totally incomprehensible over confidence. I cannot wait for Joffrey to see the battle: he will need to change his small cloths after that!

Cersei is back to her bitter, overly coarse self with Sansa, taking particular delight in suggesting that they will all be raped if the city falls. She is described as being a little flushed, so I do wonder if she has had a few drinks to give her some courage. I do have to ask though: why is Ilyn Payne using Ned’s sword, Ice?

58. Davos III

Perhaps I have seen too many war films, but as soon as some highborn know-nothing disregards words of advice from an experienced man I know that his plan will fail miserably and they will all die. Ser Imry Florent is not only a highborn know-nothing, but Stannis’ brother-in-law, which makes me doubt his abilities even more. So, when he is rude to Davos, who is a jolly decent chap and knows quite a bit about boats, I know that it is all going to be a horrible mess. Unfortunately, my prediction comes true and they are thoroughly outmaneuvered by Tyrion’s preparations. I felt very sorry for the men wasted in this ill-conceived plan, especially as many of them die from wildfire burns.

I really hope that Davos survives because he is a nice guy and I want to read more about him. 

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