Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Challenge of Ice and Fire: Week 22

A Storm of Swords: Jaime IX to the end of the book.

My previous posts on A Storm of Swords:   week 14   week 15   week 16   week 17   week 18   week 19   week 20   week 21

72. Jaime IX

Oh dear, what a shame, the Mountain’s wounds are all infected and he is dying in agony, my heart bleeds for him . . .

They have found an imposter to pretend to be Arya. This poor unfortunate is being packed off to marry the lovely Ramsay Bolton. It seems highly likely that she is actually Jeyne Poole who was Sansa’s companion in A Game of Thrones. We last saw her being given into Littlefinger’s protection, and I had assumed that he had made her a prostitute, but perhaps not. She certainly knows Jaime, so it is unlikely that she is some random orphan from the street.

Cersei is back to using her sexuality to manipulate men, although it seems that Jaime is not tempted this time. It seems that he has had enough of sneaking about in the shadows and wants a publicly acknowledged relationship with her or nothing. Cersei is furious that he will not do what she wants and becomes insulting. I am pleased that he his throwing off her hold over him and acting more independently.

Jaime is also more honorable these days, as we see from his attitude to Brienne. He gives her the Valyrian steel sword that Tywin had given him: his lord father will be very displeased with this action. He asks her to name it Oathkeeper and to find Sansa as his way of fulfilling his oath to Lady Catelyn. I shall miss their interaction, but I am pleased that Brienne is leaving King’s Landing as she will be safer out in the wilds.

Note to self: where has Stannis taken all his men?

73. Jon X

Stannis’ army certainly moves quickly when he wants it to!

I can just imagine Lord Janos Slynt and Ser Alliser Thorne cackling and rubbing their hands together as they come up with the idea of lowering Jon down to answer the request for parlay with the Wildlings and to kill Mance Rayder. What a shame that they are not as clever as they think they are! Rather than killing him at first sight, he is met by Tormund, who is quite chatty and even shares his mead with Jon.

Mance is much more suspicious of Jon, but simply wants to relay his knowledge of the Brothers’ low numbers and dwindling resources. He asks for passage through the Wall so that his people can escape the Others, who are harrying them from behind. In return he will hand over the Horn of Winter, which he has not blown because it is said that to do so would destroy the Wall, and he knows that it is the only defense against the Others. However, he cannot promise that his people will be lawful once they move south of the Wall. Yet again, Mance shows himself to be a reasonable man who truly wants to lead his people to safety, rather than just seeking personal glory or power.

Unfortunately for Mance, it seems that Stannis has answered the plea for help and brought his army north. Led by rangers from Eastwatch his men sweep into the Wildling army cutting them to pieces. Melisandre sets Varamyr’s eagle on fire and Mance’s horse is killed under him. Meanwhile, Jon is left to protect Mance’s wife, Dalla, who has gone into labor.

74. Arya XIII

Wow, when Arya gets stabby she makes a real mess! Go, Arya! The artwork is by Robberotpoli

I suppose it was only a matter of time before they came across somebody who would recognize Sandor, it is just a pity that it had to be Polliver and The Tickler. Of course, it might have been better if Sandor had not drunk a huge jug of wine before the fight, but he does seem to have a bit of a self-destructive streak. It was also nice that Arya got to reclaim Needle from Polliver.

I am somewhat conflicted by her riding off and leaving the badly wounded Sandor behind. Although I want Arya to be in control of her own destiny, I do feel sympathy for Sandor and I am not sure that we have seen the last of him. Perhaps someone will find him and help him to recover from his wounds. Meanwhile, Arya is off across the sea and I was a little disturbed by the effect that her coin and the words ‘valar morghulis’ had on the ship’s captain.

75. Samwell IV

Thank goodness that Sam and Gilly have made it to Castle Black: I was starting to get worried about them.

I am a little concerned about his idea to send Gilly to his father’s seat at Horn Hill, as I cannot imagine Lord Randyll being too happy to shelter Sam’s bastard offspring. However, he is away fighting Tywin’s battles and Sam’s mother will probably be delighted with the child.

I really hope that Janos Slynt does not get chosen as Lord Commander because he would be a total disaster in the position. I know that he commanded the Gold Cloaks, but I have to assume that he bought and toadied his way to the position as he does not seem to be a good leader of men. The war against the Others will be short if he is in charge, and it will not end well.

76. Jon XI

Wow! Jon as Lord of Winterfell! We know that Robb declared Jon to be his heir, but here is Stannis offering to remove Jon’s position as a bastard. Although I understand Stannis’ reasons, and I want Roose Bolton to be thwarted in his ambitions, I am not sure that Stannis understands the wildlings and the northmen. It seems sensible to let the wildlings live in the Gift, but I am not so sure that the surviving northmen will be so happy to see them so close. Also, I do not envy the poor soul who has to police the area and try to stop the wildlings from raiding their neighbors.

I am glad that Davos is given credit for showing Stannis that he must gain the realm by protecting it. It says a great deal about Stannis that he was persuaded by this argument and acted so positively to offer help.

77. Tyrion XI

Well, I did not see that coming!

Jaime’s road to redemption continues even though he explains his actions as repaying the debt of what happened to Tysha. I am not at all surprised that Tyrion is furious about the truth, but I wish that he did not claimed responsibility for killing Joffrey. This is a spiteful lie and poor payment for Jaime’s honesty. I did love Jaime’s suggestion that Tyrion change his name so that he could be inconspicuous: as if that would work! :D

I was surprised to find Shea in Tywin’s bed, although I suppose that this hypocrisy should not have been all that difficult to predict. Shea strikes me as a person who thinks that she is very good at reading and manipulating people but who actually is not. She tries to talk herself out of her predicament again rather than showing real remorse and I am not at all surprised at Tyrion’s reaction, although I do not condone murder for treachery.

I am very happy that Tywin is dead at Tyrion’s hand, and in such an undignified situation. Tywin has reaped what he has sown here and it is a testament to Tyrion’s self-control that this did not happen years ago. It is just a shame that Oberyn Martell is dead, because he would have laughed himself sick at Tywin dying on the toilet.

Unfortunately, we do not have another Tyrion chapter until Book 5: A Dance with Dragons . . . How am I going to cope without the wit of the Mighty Tyrion to keep me chuckling?

78. Samwell V

I can understand why Stannis is frustrated by the Night’s Watch and its method for choosing a new Lord Commander. Now that he has taken a hand in the action here at the Wall he wants to move forward and he cannot do that until a new Lord Commander is in position. He does not seem overly impressed by any of the contenders and is especially unhappy at the idea of Janos Slynt in the position because he knows the man quite well. His plans to garrison the Wall with his troops are sensible enough, as are his ideas for the Gift: a force of wildling warriors who can be called upon to reinforce his forces if needed is a wonderful idea, if he can get it to work. I am particularly impressed by his immediate order that Dragonstone be mined for dragonglass: it is amazing what can be done if a powerful man orders it.

That crafty Maester Aemon, asking to actually see Lightbringer and wondering why it is cool, and then suggesting that Sam take a hand in getting Jon elected as Lord Commander! I really like Aemon; he is a truly good man who has spent his life in service to the realm. I would never have thought that Jon would be a contender for the position, but it also makes sense for Cotter Pyke and Ser Denys Mallister to remain in their positions as the commanders of the other two castles: now is not the time to shake up the chain of command more than necessary. I love how Sam manipulates the two adversaries, and how he suddenly realizes that he does not need to be quite so scared anymore.

Go, Sam!

79. Jon XII

I can understand why Jon struggles with the temptation to accept Stannis’ offer and become the Lord of Winterfell. I like the way in which he sees this as a way for him to do good things, such as giving Gilly a safe home. But then Ghost reappears and Jon is reminded of the old gods and realizes that he cannot break his oath to them or bend his knee to the Lord of Light. It seems obvious to me that Ghost and the other wolves were a gift from the old gods to the Stark children, sent to help them survive this time of upheaval. I am also very, very glad that Ghost has returned because I was worried about him. It is also very funny to see the effect that he has on Stannis’ men, especially as he has grown some more and is now the size of a small horse! :D

As if Sam’s plan was not enough, we get the reappearance of The Old Bear’s raven to show who should be the next Lord Commander. I am looking forward to seeing the look on Ser Alliser Thorne’s face when the bird proves that it is not simply repeating “snow” because of Sam’s teaching. “Corn?” “Kettle?” I love how Mr Martin uses animals in this series: and, as with Ghost, I am really happy that the bird has survived. The only negative to this happy scene is the thought of how angry Stannis will be to have his plan for Winterfell destroyed, although he will probably happy that the next Lord Commander is a man that he can trust to do what is needed.

Again, we must say goodbye for a prolonged time, as we do not have anymore Jon chapters until Book 5: A Dance with Dragons. I will miss him, and Ghost, but we will hopefully keep in touch with him through Sam.

80. Sansa VII

Holy flying characters, Batman! I did not expect that!

I love Sansa’s thought that young Robert is ‘eight going on three’. She is perfectly right that Tyrion would be a far better choice as a husband. Hopefully, Robert will not out live the snow . . .

I am totally creeped out by Littlefinger kissing Sansa. This is wrong on so many levels, especially as she is totally dependent upon him. It also proves to be a very foolish action on his part, although I have a suspicion that Lysa was living on borrowed time anyway.

Ah, Lysa, you were the perfect example of the obsessional love. Her actions, ever since she was a young woman, have been far too hasty and ill considered. Her jealousy of Petyr’s affection for Catelyn has driven her to madness, so that she assumes that Sansa has been throwing herself at him, because Petyr is perfect and can do nothing wrong. She admits to going to him when he was too drunk to realize that she was not Catelyn. Such delusional behavior could be excused in a teenager, but for her to continue like that into adulthood suggests real mental illness. She admits to killing Jon Arryn and then misleading Catelyn at Petyr’s request. So it seems that she single handedly created this whole damn mess and was responsible for the destruction of both Winterfell and Riverrun as well as causing the deaths of thousands of perfectly innocent people, never mind that the realm is now weakened and might not be able to fight off the Others. No wonder Robert is such a train-wreck of a child.

I still do not like Littlefinger, although I was pleased that he saved Sansa from his crazy wife and framed Marillion for doing the deed.

81. Epilogue

So, to say that I did not see this coming is a massive understatement! I did wonder why we were shown Catelyn’s body in the river and the men riding towards it. I seem to remember one of them was described as having a yellow cloak, which I now assume was Lemoncloak, but I did not expect her to be raised from the dead. I wonder what that means for Beric Dondarrion: I guess that he passed his life to her in some way.

I do feel sorry for Merrett, because he is really guilty of nothing but being his father’s son and he did not even succeed in getting the Greatjon hammered enough at the wedding to stop him fighting. I am very pleased that Greatjon survived the Red Wedding, though I imagine that he is being held to ransom at the Twins now, though heaven help the Late Lord Frey when he is finally loosed back into the world.

A Feast for Crows

So, we will not see Bran, Davos, Daenerys, Jon and Tyrion again until Book 5, which is a real shame as they are pretty much all of my favorite characters. A quick glance at the chapter list shows that we will se a whole range of new POV characters, although most of them only have a single chapter each. I am pleased that we will be following Brienne on her search for Sansa, but somewhat uneasy about being inside Cersei’s head. I really hope that Mr Martin does not manage to make her as sympathetic as he has Jaime!

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