Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Challenge of Ice and Fire: Week 28

A Feast for Crows: The Reaver to the end of Cat of the Canals (p. 740)

My previous posts on A Feast for Crows:   week 23   week 24   week 25   week 26   week 27

29. The Reaver

Another chapter from Victarion Greyjoy’s POV.

I think I have said this before, but the more I read about the ironmen, the more disgusted I am by their way of life. Now they are selling women and children into slavery rather than just taking them as thralls and salt wives: it must be so inconvenient to have all those excess prisoners to deal with!

Victarion is certainly a brave fighter, and it is nice to see a leader fighting at the head of his men, but his attitude to women means that I am never going to really like this man. He is amazingly obedient though, following Euron’s orders even though he hates his brother and does not think that he should have been given the Seastone chair. However, Euron is proving to be a very insightful tactician, and this is reflected in the way that he is winning over those captains who did not support him initially. I sincerely doubt that Daenerys will be overwhelmed by his offer of marriage, but this might be the very alliance that she needs to return to Westeros and reclaim the throne. I am more inclined to think that any husband in this scenario would become dragon-fodder pretty quickly, but I might be wrong!

30. Jaime IV

Poor Lancel, he is so wracked with guilt over Robert’s death and his affair with Cersei. I am not sure that starving himself and becoming one of the Warrior’s Sons will make him feel any better, but at least he has a conscious, unlike some other Lannisters that I could mention. It appears that his new wife is not all that bothered by his lack of interest, as she seems to have plenty of other men to take her mind off him and would be most pleased to host Jaime for as long as he wants to stay . . .

Unlike Cersei, Jaime is very worried by the reformation of the Warriors Sons and Poor Fellows. The threatening nature of the armed sparrows guarding Lancel shows that he is quite right to worry: these men answer only to the High Septon or what they think he would judge suitable, which means that they can act pretty much how they like and still justify it.

Lancel’s confession about Cersei is fairly painful to read, although I am not sure if he knows that she was Jaime’s lover first. Jaime’s reaction is surprisingly neutral. I am not sure if this is because of the cooling in their relationship, or Jaime finally learning to control his violent impulses, but the fact that it proves Tyrion correct must weigh heavily on Jaime’s mind. Perhaps that is why he confesses his incest to Ser Ilyn when they spar later. I know that Ser Ilyn is a mute and illiterate, but it still seems like a very rash thing to do.

31. Brienne VI

The Hound lives! Hooray!

There is something about him that makes me like Sandor Clegane, and it is not just Rory McCann’s cheeky smile! Unlike his brother, he is not a totally unredeemable character and I have a feeling that he is still tied to the destiny of the Stark girls, so I am glad that he has survived.

Now, I know that we have not had his survival confirmed, indeed, the Elder Brother claims that he found the dying Sandor and that he is now “at rest”. However, Stranger is in the stable busily biting the ears of passing brothers and there is a huge novice with a really bad limp digging graves. Plus, Dog goes over to this gravedigger and the man scratches his ear. If this is not Sandor, then I will be very, very surprised, considering that we left him dying from an infected leg wound and tortured by his conscience. With nothing left to live for, it makes perfect sense for Sandor to try to redeem himself by taking holy orders. The fact that this is a very secluded site would also make it ideal for him, as he can easily avoid being seen and identified. The fact that the Elder Brother himself is also a reformed knight suggests that he would be in the perfect position to counsel the recovering Sandor. The Elder Brother is adamant that The Hound is dead . . . and I am sure that the savage man that went by that name is most definitely dead, but his body lives on and is inhabited by a Sandor Clegane trying to make peace with himself and the world. I do hope that he finds some peace.

Brienne learns both good and bad news from the elder Brother. She discovers that the Stark girl that The Hound had was Arya rather than Sansa. Although this dashes her hopes of finding Sansa, it fills her with hope that Arya is still alive and possibly close by. However, Brienne does not let her disappointment to deter her from her quest. She will continue to look for Sansa, because she promised Jaime that she would.

I was pleased to see Brienne treated with respect and decency by the brothers. This was a refreshing change and probably why she instinctively trusted the Elder Brother and felt able to relate her life story to him.

32. Cersei VII

OK, another chapter of Cersei’s IBD (increasingly bad decisions).

Cersei is annoyed that Margaery is ‘over-reacting’ to the fact that the ironmen have taken the Shield Islands. Rather than proceeding with caution and assuming the very worst, she decides that it is nothing to worry about and plans to ignore this very real threat to the security of the Realm. Socrates said that the wisest man knows that he knows nothing. This idea is totally alien to Cersei, who always thinks that she knows far more than anyone else and ignores any new information that would cause her to depart from her plan. However, she is delighted when Ser Loras Tyrell asks leave to lead an assault on Dragonstone in order to free the Arbor fleet to deal with the ironman menace.

I am rather concerned about who or what Qyburn has in mind to replace Loras in the Kingsguard if he falls on Dragonstone. The fact that there is talk of giant armor makes me wonder if it is some undead version of the Mountain That Rides . . .

Cersei proves herself to be even more misogynistic than usual in this chapter. Her treatment of Falyse Stokeworth, by giving her to Qyburn, is appalling. I know that the woman’ husband was an idiot who challenged Bronn to single combat, but to hand her over for indiscriminate torture is a rather extreme response. I also found Cersei’s use of Lady Taena to be very strange, as if she is channeling Robert in some bizarre way.

33. Jaime V

Lifting the siege of Riverrun seems like an impossible task for any besieging general, but Jaime has the added difficulty of the oath that he gave to Catelyn that he would never raise arms against her family. I am not sure how he expects to persuade the Blackfish to admit defeat, but I suppose he must at least try. It seems much more likely that the besieging armies will either run out of food first or start to kill one another well before he is forced to open the gates to the castle . . .

It is very interesting to hear Tywin’s sister Genna speaking about the family. She obviously loved her brother a great deal, but was not blind to his faults. I thought that her assessment of Tyrion as Tywin’s real son was spot on, and something that Tywin should have realized a long time ago. I would add, though, that I think that Tyrion is more flexible and much more compassionate than his father ever was.

34. Cat Of The Canals

In her role as Cat of the Canals, we have our last Arya chapter for this volume. Thanks, Mr Martin, by living us on such a cliffhanger, with the poor girl blinded! I can only hope that it is not permanent, which seems very possible, as we have seen several ‘blind’ novices at the House of Black and White.

Arya has taken to her role as the orphan Cat very well, and is busily gathering information whilst selling her wares throughout Braavos. I am not sure if the details that she has passed along are at all important to the Kindly Man, but I guess that some information does not seem relevant until you need it.

I was a little surprised that Arya killed Dareon, as I imagine that she is not supposed to choose who receives the gift of death because she is still a novice. Perhaps that is why she has been made blind, or maybe the killing has allowed her to progress within her training to become a Faceless Man. I guess we will find out in A Dance With Dragons. I am also confused about why she stole his boots. Perhaps she wanted a token to show that she had actually killed him?

Finally, I notice that her final ‘wolf dream’ is actually of her stalking alone in Braavos. This sounds like she is dreaming through the eyes of one of the cats that she has befriended, meaning that she is a powerful warg, just like Bran.

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