Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Challenge of Ice and Fire: Week 15

A Storm of Swords: Davos II to the end of Samwell I (p. 253)

My previous post on A Storm of Swords:   week 14

10. Davos II

Davos is alive but not at all well. He is thin and pale with a terrible cough that brings up bloody sputum. I hope that he improves soon, because I really want to keep reading about him and he is our only view on Stannis at the moment. I was very touched by how beloved and respected he is in Salladhor’s fleet. His rescuer is very generous, insisting that Davos use his cabin and giving him anything that he needs. However, we see the genuine affection that Salladhor has for him when they reunite, so it is hardly surprising that the other captains share this feeling.

Salladhor is now the Lord of Blackwater Bay and is collecting taxes from the passing traders or seizing their goods if they try to slip through without paying. This is the height of irony, considering that Salladhor is a smuggler, although I guess that makes him an excellent tax collector because he knows all the tricks. Salladhor shares Davos’ grief over the loss of his sons, although he reports that young Devan survived at Stannis’ side. Even with this news and his ill health, Davos is determined to kill Melisandre who is now the only person in contact with Stannis. Salladhor agrees that she is being blamed for the disaster on the Blackwater, but warns Davos that he cannot possibly succeed in killing her. Instead, he urges Davos to join his fleet and run a smuggling ship again, but Davos will not be turned aside from his vengeance and leaves to see Stannis.

Once Davos finally gets entrance to the castle we get our first look at Edric Storm, Robert’s son. It seems that Robert visited the boy fairly regularly and even taught him how to fight, sending him a small war hammer for his last name day. Somehow Melisandre knows of Davos’ intentions and he is taken away to the dungeons. This does not bode well, as I am not sure if he can survive there for long in his present condition.

11. Jaime II

The three travellers reach the Inn of the Kneeling Man, where the last King in the North knelt to King Aegon and swore fealty. The inn is inhabited by only a man and a boy, although the man claims that he has a wife somewhere nearby. The man tells them how the various armies and groups of soldiers have murdered members of their families and the innkeeper. This gives us a glimpse of how impossible the war is for the low folk, who are treated badly by all sides. As he cooks them dinner, the man advises them not to continue down the river because it is blocked lower down and patrolled by outlaws. He begrudgingly sells them the three horses in his stable and gives them directions to travel south safely. However, the stable shows evidence of many more horses being there recently and so Brienne refuses his offer of beds for the night and they ride off. She does not take the man’s advice over which road to follow and Jaime is pleased that she is intelligent enough to have deduced that the man was sending them into a trap.

When they stop to sleep Jaime and Brienne argue over his name ‘Kingslayer’ and he remembers the events that led to that fateful day. It seems that he took the place in the Kinsguard against his father’s wishes, which makes sense, as he was Tywin’s heir. Cersei persuaded him to take the position so that they could both be in King’s Landing. However, Tywin is so angered that he removes Cersei from court, so they do not stay together as intended. Just as in later life, Cersei’s lack of foresight actually worked against her best interests, but it appears that she never learnt from this mistake. It seems that the real reason for Jaime killing Aerys was that the mad king was calling for Tywin’s head and Jaime would not allow his father to be killed, which does make him seem much more honorable than we had previously thought. It is interesting that he considers claiming the throne for the young Viserys, or even Rhaegar’s son, Aegon, but eventually is too overwhelmed to really care who takes the throne.

12. Tyrion II

I find it hard to believe that Tyrion, or anyone else, can get into Varys’ rooms unnoticed, but the Spider does a good job of acting surprised. I do like these little chats between two consummate politicians: they are both wary of the other but there seems to be a genuine understanding and appreciation of the other’s skill at the game. They also provide a huge amount of information without it feeling like an information dump. I am not quite sure how Mr Martin manages it, but the characters drive these conversations forward and they are so full of hints and notes on motives and gossip of all types that they remain fascinating. So, we are not simply told that Pycelle is being reinstated, but we learn that the Conclave of Maesters is jealous of its authority to make and unmake a Grand Maester, we see them using political maneuvering of Lord Tywin to get Pycelle reinstated and we also discover some interesting ways that the Targaryens removed their unwanted maesters.

Tyrion wants Varys to bring Shea to see him so that he can say goodbye before sending her to safety. Apparently, Cersei is using all three of the Kettleblack brothers to watch him, whilst Littlefinger’s spies are watching the whorehouses. Varys readily admits to spying for Tywin, but is still willing to help Tyrion and Shea have their meeting. After they have had sex, Shea asks him to take her to Joffrey’s wedding, which she has heard will be a fine affair. She seems to sulk when he refuses for her own safety, but is happy enough when they part. However, Tyrion is worried about the singer that she has befriended and sends Bronn off to find the man. I find Shea confusing, sometimes it seems like she genuinely likes Tyrion, but then she can also behave sullenly when he does not fulfill her dream of becoming a glamorous lady.

Note, on the way to seeing Shea, Tyrion speaks to Ser Loras Tyrell who suggests that he was happy to join the Kingsguard because he did not want to marry. There is a lot of speculation that he and Renly were lovers, which has been settled by the HBO series, which made it very clear that they were.

13. Arya II

As usual, Arya’s first impulse is to not trust people, and that has been quite wise so far in her journey, so when they hear some men coming towards them she decides that they should hide. For once, Hot Pie does exactly what she says without question. I am not sure if this is out of terror or because he has now come to trust her judgment. However, hiding does not work and they find themselves taken by a group of three men. Unlike Arya, we know that these must be the men that the innkeeper sent Jaime, Brienne and Cleos towards, so we know that they are outlaws of some type.

Our uneasiness grows as they head to The Inn of the Kneeling Man and the men are very obviously capable of hurting Arya and the boys. However, they are fed and then one of them gives Arya a piece of paper in payment for their horses. She refuses to accept it, but then more men arrive and the situation seems to grow much worse until she recognizes Harwin, one of her father’s guards. He does not recognize her at first, but then names her to the whole group. I sincerely hope that he is a man to be trusted; otherwise things have just gone from bad to worse for her. 

14. Catelyn II

Unfortunately, it seems like Robb is too much like his mother and has married for love rather than upholding the oath he took to Lord Walder Frey. I predict that this will not end well for House Stark. Although I understand his desire to be honorable to Jeyne after she ‘consoled’ him, the war is going badly for Robb and losing a major ally will complicate things a great deal. Even more worrying is Grey Wind’s dislike of the girl’s mother and uncle: as Catelyn says, he has great instincts when it comes to protecting Robb and his suspicions should not be overlooked.

Just when it seems like things cannot get any worse, we learn that Edmure’s defense of the fords worked contrary to Robb’s plan to lure Tywin west and into an ambush. It also allowed Tywin to reach King’s Landing to defeat Stannis’ army. Edmure does seem to be a bit of an idiot, although he means well, but now Robb needs to retake the North whilst Tywin and the Tyrell forces are at his back. It does not look promising at all.

15. Jon II

Giants! Giants riding mammoths! Giants riding mammoths and telling jokes! I cannot wait to see them in the HBO series, assuming that they are anything like as awesome as the glimpse we got of the Others’ army in that last episode.

Aw, Jon is afraid of the very forward Ygritte and keeps rebuffing her attentions. Although I understand his concern about producing a bastard child, he does seem to be underestimating her a little. As Tormund says, if she doesn’t want to have a child she will get rid of it, so what is the problem? I know that is not the way of life that Jon is used to, but that seems like a perfectly sensible attitude for a spearwife to have. I really liked the scene in Episode Six of Season two where Ygritte was rubbing herself up against the bewildered Jon. All the way through the discussions about her always sleeping next to him, I kept imagining that scene in my head! :)

We are given a more detailed look at the Wildling army and the various groups that make it up. The character that caught my interest the most was Varamyr Sixskins, who rides a snow bear and has three wolves and a shadowcat. This guy sounds like a truly awesome warg and I hope that he will be sharing some knowledge with Jon very soon. He does not seem as homicidal as Orell, the eagle that tries to rip Jon’s face off, although I guess I might be a little cross if Jon had trapped me in a bird’s body.

When they arrive at the Fist and find the remains of a battle, Mance is livid that Jon lied to him about his reason for being out in the wilds with Qhorin. This certainly makes Mance looks weak and biased towards Brothers, so I can understand why he will tolerate no more lies from Jon, especially as Rattleshirt is so determined to kill him. Mance suggests that the Others have attacked the Fist and the army now has to move faster to get to the Wall so that they can leave the Night’s Watch to deal with the Others.

Oopsie, Ygritte saves Jon’s bacon by saying that they are sleeping together, so now he has to make sure that she is not a liar: she is sneaky, that girl! :D

16. Sansa II

Just when I thought that Sansa had become a reasonably adult person she goes and gets all silly again, happy to be getting new dresses even though they are from Cersei. Call me cynical, but Sansa’s only value now is as a hostage to Robb’s good behavior, so why would Cersei be buying her a nice new dress? I find it hard to believe that she will be given a prominent place during Joffrey’s wedding, but I might be wrong.

It seems as if Margaery and the Tyrells are being very nice to her, which I would be quite happy about but I have trouble trusting anyone who tries to be nice in this world. I am particularly suspicious that Margaery is so unconcerned about Joffrey’s cruelty: she is either very naïve or there is a plan to protect her somehow or other. 

17. Arya III

We say goodbye to Hot Pie, who decides to stay at the inn and bake bread.

Arya is not at all happy to be going the wrong way, especially when she learns that they are going to see Lord Beric Dondarrion rather than heading to Riverrun. She learns all about Tywin’s plans to use Gregor Clegane’s raids to draw Eddard out of King’s Landing. The remains of Lord Beric’s force are now called the Brotherhood Without Banners and they fight against the Lannisters and help to protect the common people. They are supported by the common folk and their numbers have swollen. They claim to ride in the name of King Robert and offer justice to all the nobility that they take, although the trial is usually followed by death by hanging.

Arya decides that she does not want to be judged by Beric and tries to escape. Unfortunately, Harwin is a better horseman than she is and recaptures her. She is hurt by this because it shows that he is now loyal to a new master.

It seems that Beric has been ‘killed’ several times already, which seems to suggest he is a myth, just as the ‘Renly’ at the Battle of Blackwater was.

18. Samwell I

This first chapter from Sam’s point of view is one of my favorites of the series so far. It captures Sam’s intense tiredness whilst relating the fighting at the Fist between the Others and the Brothers. Of course, I am immensely fond of Sam, so I am delighted that he has now become a POV character.

After Chapter 15: Jon II, we know that the brothers defended the Fist and were driven off or slaughtered. We also know that there are no human corpses remaining, which is even more disturbing, although we know that some of the Brothers survived to head back to the Wall.

I was very happy to find Sam amongst those struggling to get back to safety, although it seems that he may not make it much further. He is desperately tired, almost incapable of placing one foot in front of the other, being driven along only by his fear of what follows them. He berates himself for being fat, weak and a craven and prays to all the gods to help him, but when he falls over a root, he cannot get back up and lies down to rest, even though he knows that he will almost certainly die.

We are given his view of the attack on the Fist, the confusion and growing desperation as the Others are not affected by normal weapons. Even though he tries to think about happy things, Sam’s thoughts keep drawing him back to the fighting. Grenn and Small Paul find him and Paul begins to carry him, but Sam is still remembering the terrible sights of the battle. I was so pleased that Grenn seemed to be making an effort to watch over Sam, even placing himself in danger to do so. We later learn that Dolorous Edd collected the weeping Sam after another Brother had stolen his horse, so it is not only Grenn who sees Sam as a true Brother to be protected.

As Sam, Paul and Grenn lag behind the others they are approached by an Other, which is not a wight, but a tall, thin man with very pale skin and deep blue eyes. He kills Paul easily and makes towards Sam who blindly stabs it with the dragonglass dagger that Jon had given him. The Other dissolves into a puddle of icy water, armor, weapon and all. Who would have thought that Sam would be the first person to kill an Other in the books? Of course, he throws up straight away afterwards, but it still a major accomplishment and they now know of a way to kill the Others: go, Sam!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please let me know what you think, because comments make me happy!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...