Tag Archives: winterIsComing

AGoT Bran 5

Once again, two year old horses are rarely ridden except in a modern racing or (very recently) show context, and generally would not be considered safe to ride by a small child, let alone a disabled small child still acclimatizing to his disability. Nice to see Robb riding a gelding instead of stallion, though (stallions are relatively impractical mounts, and the number of them encountered in many fantasy novels is quite unrealistic).

  • WiC #7.
  • Robb is now adopting the hippie look.
  • Old Nan says (again): “Dark wings, dark words.”
  • Bran tells another story of Jon’s overcompensating generosity: he once gave Bran his fish when Bran failed to catch one.
  • Introducing Osha, an alternate model of womanhood: a head taller than Robb (who is himself described as tall), lean, hardened, “scarcely … like a woman,” a reasonable match for Robb in battle, and happy to talk back to the man she’s with when he gives nonsensical orders.
  • Robb is getting a little more nuanced: he restrains himself when his rash actions could endanger Bran, controls his anger at Theon and is “relieved” to be given an excuse not to kill Osha. (Has Robb ever killed anybody at this point? Probably not.)

AGoT Catelyn 6

“Sometimes [Catelyn] felt as though her heart had turned to stone.” Yuk, yuk.

Seriously though, in paying more attention to Catelyn on this reread, I find that her monomaniacal focus on her goal (which is protecting her children … or protecting her own self-concept as the perfect noble mother?) is much more destructive than I had realized on past readings. She undermines her oldest son, ignores her youngest, and even her exaggerated grief over the comatose Bran seems more about her than him (after all, he’s not conscious to observe or benefit from her behavior). Her attitude toward Jon is deplorable, but understandable — but this chapter’s transfer of those feelings to Mya Stone, a stranger who has nothing to do with her marriage, is plain pathological. She kidnaps a member of a major house on the “evidence” of a story that is easily hole-poked by anyone aware of court social dynamics, from a source who she seems to be at least marginally aware is untrustworthy; persists in taking her prisoner to a place she has never visited (a fact I realized only on rereading this chapter), even after discovering that most of her party is likely to die on the journey (I’m sure all her father’s bannerman whose men she commandeered will love that); and when indeed they are killed, she pushes away what feelings of guilt or self-doubt she has. Sansa doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Elsewhere in this chapter:

  • We meet Brynden: weathered, gray-haired, and good-humored with a “hoarse, smoky voice.”
  • Tyrion remarks that Tywin is “the soul of avarice” (as Jaime is of arrogance and Cersei of power-lust), but I’ve never really seen monetary greed as Tywin’s primary motivation.
  • WiC #6.
  • Catelyn thinks she is “becoming a Stark at last” — when actually she’s straying further from the Starks’ ancestral home and concerns, into games orchestrated by others.
  • I’m having dirty-minded fun imagining what “the topless towers of Valyria” look like.
  • Finally, we meet Lysa, like Robert an obese character who once wasn’t, and whose current obesity is serving as a symbol of current moral or psychological failings. She has long auburn hair, blue eyes and a small mouth. Her son Robert Arryn (henceforth to be referred to as Sweetrobin) is six, small for his age and sickly, with fine brown hair.

AGoT Arya 2: “The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.” Really? (more spoilery than usual)

Stark Degree of isolation from “pack” (other Starks and their direwolves) Status as of the end of ADwD Evidence for/against “lone wolf dies, pack survives” theory*
Ned Left Winterfell, but took two Stark children and two wolves with him (wolves were later killed and separated, respectively) Dead Mixed
Catelyn Left Winterfell alone, but eventually joined Robb and Grey Wind (Un)Dead Mixed
Robb Left Winterfell, with Grey Wind and (eventually) his mother. Dead Mixed
Sansa Betrayed her family, thereby perhaps symbolically becoming a “lone wolf.” Helped cause/allow her wolf to be killed and Arya’s to be driven away (by withholding the truth about the events surrounding Joffrey’s wounding). Has been separated from the other Starks since the end of AGoT. Alive Against
Arya Has been separated from the other Starks since the end of AGoT and from her wolf since early in AGoT; is now the most physically separated Stark. Alive Against
Bran Stayed in Winterfell until it was destroyed, but was gradually separated from the rest of the family; still has his wolf. Alive Mixed
Rickon Stayed in Winterfell until it was destroyed, but was gradually separated from the rest of the family; still has his wolf. Alive Mixed

*Dead, isolated Starks and live, un-isolated ones support the theory; live isolated Starks and dead un-isolated ones count against it

I’m not seeing much support for Ned’s theory here. (Of course, you could interpret the word “wolf” as applying to more than Starks, and say that families that stick together tend to do better. But the (theoretically) unconditionally kin-supportive Lannisters and kin-marrying Targaryens aren’t exactly doing well right now, either.)

Other stuff from this chapter.

  • Arya likes to play with babies. Who knew?
  • Arya’s stream of consciousness seems a bit cliche-ridden: “Arya finally felt safe enough to cry”; “hating them all, and herself most of all”; “then maybe she wouldn’t feel so alone”; “Arya, we need to talk” (jarringly modern wording there); “she had never loved him so much as she did in that instant”; “with wonder in her eyes.”
  • The Syrio stuff is wonderful, though.
  • We meet Fat Tom, who appears at this point to be a comic-relief extra (later he’ll be an easy-sympathy-generating extra).
  • Per Ned, Brandon Stark was wilder than Lyanna (and in this culture it would take a lot to be considered wilder than a woman who wants to swordfight).
  • Ned, regarding the saving of Nymeria (or something else?): “even the lie was … not without honor.”
  • WiC #5.
  • Ned: “You [Arya] need her [Sansa], as she needs you.” Foreshadowing?

AGoT Catelyn 4: introducing Petyr Baelish and Varys

Petyr Baelish is introduced in an interesting step-wise fashion: first there was a passing mention by Cersei. Now he is further illuminated via Catelyn telling a story about his past, before finally showing up in the flesh.

He is described as a small, slender, sharp-featured man, not quite thirty years old, with “laughing” green eyes, dark hair with a little gray, a goatee, and a silver mockingbird brooch. And he demonstrates trick knife-throwing skills; does he ever do this again?

Varys, meanwhile, is yet another overweight, perfumed character. He also uses face powder, is completely bald, wears what Westerosi culture would consider effeminate clothing (a sparkly vest over a silk gown and velvet slippers), “giggle[s] like a little girl” and “squeal[s]” at the sight of a drop of blood. As with Illyrio, we experienced readers now know Varys is using these culturally despised (in Westeros) traits as sort of a disguise; it’s interesting to remember that a first-time reader wouldn’t know that yet.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in this chapter:

  • Like the earlier and related introduction of the murder mystery subplot, the whole song and dance about Ser Rodrik going to fetch the king’s armorer seems rather drawn out and contrived now that I know it isn’t going anywhere.
  • WiC #4.
  • Catelyn is noble to pay the oarsmen herself, but naive to think they’ll be allowed to hold on to the money if their employer doesn’t wish it. There’s probably a “company store” situation going on: after all, where else will the rowers get their food at sea?
  • Catelyn also reveals her unconscious commitment to the hereditary nobility system by dwelling on the fact that Varys isn’t a real lord (Petyr Baelish is, even if a minor one, and therefore worthy of at least slightly more respect in her eyes).
  • First mention of Loras Tyrell.

AGoT Bran 3

A short chapter, once again full of foreshadowing (though in this chapter much of it is so blatant that I’m not sure foreshadowing is the right word). Stuff I noticed here:

  • The identification of Bran’s three-eyed crow with Mormont’s raven, via its request for corn.
  • A vision of an empty-helmeted, sinister giant knight — strangely tacked to the end of a long, non-metaphorical passage describing actual present-day events (Winterfell denizens going about their daily life, Ned and his daughters grieving for Lady, etc.)…
  • …immediately followed by a description of “Asshai by the Shadow, where dragons stirred beneath the sunrise,” rather implying that there are already live dragons there.
  • WiC #3.

AGoT Catelyn 2: famous last words + WiC #2

“[Robb] must be ready when his time comes.”

“Gods will, not for many years,” Maester Luwin murmured.

“Maester Luwin … Teach my son the things he needs to know. Winter is coming.”


AGoT Catelyn 1: winter is coming

“He will not be three forever. And winter is coming.”

The first occurrence of the Stark words (presented, by Catelyn, as bizarre and alien) and an awesome thing to say to anyone with a three-year-old.