Book I am reading: A Storm of Swords
Booze in my flagon: Absolut Ruby Red and soda
Chapters: Catelyn III, Jaime III, Arya IV
The chapter starts with the corpses of two little boys being brought into the hall in the middle of the night. It doesn’t specify who they are just yet. They’re cousins. A blonde and a brown haired one. They remind Cat that Bran and Rickon are “dead.”
We finally find out who they are. Tion Frey and Willem Lannister. Is Willem the blonde one? Because I’m just thinking of this Willam.
I think Willam from Rupaul’s Drag Race (returning in 9 days whoo hoo!) is such a Lannister.
Anyway. Tion and Willem were Robb’s hostages and they’ve been murdered. It was a big ol’ murdery conspiracy. Eight men were involved. Two killed by Robb’s more loyal men, one critically wounded and the other five were captured and dragged into hall. The ringleader is Lord Rickard Karstark who lost his two sons in the battle of the Whispering Wood. The one where Jaime was captured.
Robb scolds Rickard. Rickard basically calls him a hypocritical mama’s boy for it being considered treason to kill Lannisters but not treason to free them. I guess that’s a fair point but did he really expect Robb to execute his own mother? Then Rickard starts taunting Robb about how he deals with treason by just scolding and then forgiving. Oh shit. Now it’s on!
At this point, the Blackfish comes running into the hall from out in the rain. Robb wants to see him privately along with Edmure and Cat so he orders Greatjon Umber to keep Rickard imprisoned and hang the other seven. Yes. He’s going to hang men who are already dead because he doesn’t want them fouling his Lord Uncle’s rivers. Of course, you may recall from ACOK that the Trident is so full of corpses that the water tastes like death so I don’t know what two more dead bodies will do. Much better to foul the air with a rotting body I guess! One of the captives begs for mercy because he didn’t do anything but watch the murders. So Robb orders him hung last so he can watch everyone die before him. Awww. Robb is all growed up!
In the private meeting, Blackfish tells them that all of Karstark’s men have fled. Rickard promised his daughter to anyone who brings him the head of the Kingslayer so it looks like the number of people hunting Jaime has grown by quite a lot. Three hundred men about. Catelyn so far has been spending the chapter sort of stewing in her guilty feelings.
Edmure says that word of the deaths of the boys can’t leave Riverrun. We find out that Willem was Kevan Lannister’s son and Tion was the son of Genna Frey, Tywin and Kevan’s sister. Genna rules. But we don’t get to meet her for awhile yet. Robb channels his dad a little bit and doesn’t think that’s terribly honorable or ethical.
Talk turns about what to do with Rickard. Robb knows he has to execute him but he’s concerned what his remaining son Harrion who is with Roose Bolton at Harrenhal will do. Even if Harrion is secretly happy to be the new lord of Karhold, he can’t be anything but anti-Stark publicly or his men won’t forgive him. Edmure suggests pardoning Rickard and keeping him hostage even though he killed two of his men, Delp and Elwood getting too Willem and Tion. Catelyn is sort of on board because they are in need of allies. The Freys haven’t responded to their back up offering of Edmure and Lysa isn’t sending aid.
Poor Robb has a bit of a frustration tantrum and we remember he’s still just a teenage boy. He gives off a kill list that’s kind of like Arya’s. But he does calms down again and declares that Rickard must die in order to preserve Robb and house Stark’s honor.
The execution happens the next morning. Right in front of the corpses of his hanged co-conspirators. Rickard will not be hung. He will be beheaded. I don’t know why. For the drama, maybe? Because the Starks and Karstarks are distant cousins, Rickard tries to tell him that if he does this he’ll be cursed as a kinslayer, but that doesn’t sway Robb at all. It took only one blow to kill but three to take the head off and there’s blood just everywhere. Afterwards, Blackfish rides off to see if he can round up any of the escaped Karstark men.
That evening, Jeyne comes to visit Cat. Robb is really depressed, she doesn’t know what to do about it and she wants some advice. She tells him just to leave him be and he’ll reach out to her eventually. Just like Ned would. It’s a kind of nice little bonding moment. Until it gets awkward that is. Cat reminds her that Robb needs and heir and Jeyne says they’ve been trying sometimes twice a day and she’s drinking some fertility brew her mom is making her.
Jaime, Brienne, and Cleos are taking a similar Riverlands tour of death and destruction we saw in the Arya chapters from the last book. Although, predictably Jaime is being an insensitive asshole about it and singing songs and making quips. Since Jaime is bored with them he starts thinking creepy and twincesty thoughts about Cersei and about how he couldn’t bear to be apart from her. As children they would sneak into each other’s beds and spoon. They started at a very young age to imitate that horses and dogs they saw mating. One time their mother’s maid caught them and until Joanna died giving birth to Tyrion, she kept them separate at night. Ewwwww. He starts fantasizing about openly marrying Cersei now that the twincest cat is out of the bag. I think Twincest Cat is my new band name now.
Jaime, ever the contrarian, also decides that he will keep his word and return Sansa when he gets to King’s Landing. Not because it would be the right thing to do. But because he thinks it would be funny to keep his word when everyone assumes he will break it.
The series of douchey Jaime thoughts is finally interrupted when their party starts getting attacked by arrows. Brienne is a badass and she shrugs off the fact that she has two arrows sticking out of her. Jaime charges the shooters and Brienne has no choice but to follow. The shooters flee into the woods.
They go back to find Cleos. He’s dead. Not from the arrows themselves. He fell off the horse and smashed his head on the ground. Jaime gives no fucks, of course. He wants his horse, his clothes, and his sword. Brienne objects to the sword part. He takes it anyway and the two of them get into a sword fight. Jaime is shocked that she’s stronger than even though she’s – gasp! – a girl.
Their fight is finally interrupted by the Brave Companions AKA the Bloody Mummers. These are the mercenaries that were working for Tywin and then Roose, depending on who was holding Harrenhal. Brienne tries to bribe them to leave them alone but it doesn’t really deter them and the Noseless guy, Rorge who you may remember from Arya’s ACOK chapters threatens to rape Brienne. The unnamed Dornish member suggests he anally rape her so he won’t have to look at her. Nice.
The leader of the gang, Urswyck, who looks like a corpse makes sure Jaime knows he knows who he is. Jaime tries to win him over by pretending that Brienne would be worth a high ransom and trying to trade on the previous working relationship with Tywin. It’s then that the Dornishman, whose name is Timeon reveals the Mummers’ leader Vargo Hoat is working for the Boltons now.
After a short fight, Jaime and Brienne who are very outnumbered are beaten up and captured. Jaime finally experiences some empathy for her as he’s pretty sure she’s about to be gang raped by them. But then he has to go piss on that empathy by telling her she’s going to be raped, which wouldn’t have happened if he’d been armed without his hands shackled together because then they wouldn’t have been taken. He recommends she don’t resist so she’s not hurt as badly. Brienne asks if that’s what he would do if he were a woman. Jaime says no, he’d make them kill him.
Jaime tries to bribe Urswyck to take them to Casterly Rock instead. He also tells him that Brienne’s home island, Tarth is called the Sapphire Isle, implying that she’s very wealthy even though that’s a lie. He even offers him a knighthood. Urswyck appears to be considering it, but then just slaps him instead. Nope. To Harrenhal they go.
Once they get to the camp where Vargo is, the lie about the sapphires does save Brienne from being too badly hurt. Jaime on the other hand (hah!) not so much. Vargo wants to send a message to the Lannisters. So he cuts off Jaime’s hand! Ouch!
The BWB and Arya and Gendry are travelling along. Every time they meet people they hear a different tale about how Beric Dondarrion was killed. Lem keeps reassuring people that he is not really dead. The outlaws chat about ransoming Arya at Riverrun and Arya wonders if Robb and Cat will even want her back after all she’s done and after she got that janky boy haircut. Just a little heart wrenching moment dropped into a witty banter scene for us.
The group gets to a place called High Heart. It’s a really high hill, sort of reminiscent of the Fist to me. It was sacred to the Children of the Forest. Tom O’Seven even says that some of their magic lingers there. The smallfolk in the area shun it because they think it is haunted. They make camp there for the night. Arya wakes up to find that the outlaws are chilling around the campfire with this little old lady. She’s talking about her dreams, which all reflect what did or will happen in the story. I’m lazy to type it all out, but it can be easily found online. She makes Tom sing her a song before she’ll use her creepy psychic powers to tell them where Beric is. He moves around a lot to avoid capture. Arya tells Harwin about the torture she experienced and witnessed from the Mountain and his lackeys and he says the BWB will make them answer for their crimes. You kind of have to like the BWB, even though they kidnapped Arya.
The next night, they get to Acorn Hall. Lady Smallwood is an ally to the BWB. When she finds out that Arya is highborn she makes her take a bath and dress in girly clothes. Arya wants to tell her “I’m not a Lady, I’m a wolf” but doesn’t. Gendry laughs at her when he sees her new getup. At dinner, during the gossip exchange. Arya and the BWB find out about the Karstarks looking for Jaime, although they don’t know why just yet. They did find out that Catelyn is the one who set Jaime free though.
Later on, Gendry and Arya wrastle after he mocks her again for looking like a lady. It’s super cute. The dress is soiled. The chapter ends a bit anti-climatically as Lady Smallwood finally gives her some of her son’s old clothes to ride in and the gang departs.
Deaths in this recap: 6. Rickard Karstark. Tion Frey. Willem Lannister. Edmure’s men Delp and Elwood, Cleos Frey.
Cumulative deaths: 95
Maybe deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative maybe deaths: 8
Betrayals in this recap: 1. Rickard Karstark killing the prisoners against Robb’s wishes.
Cumulative betrayals: 27
Incest incidents: 1. This was thought, and not deed, but Jaime’s thoughts were creepy enough that I’m going to have to count it.
Cumulative incests: 26
Book I am reading: A Storm of Swords
Booze in my flagon: Absolut Ruby Red and soda
Chapters: Arya III, Samwell I, Tyrion III
It’s been about three days of being forced to ride with the outlaws and Arya thinks they’re lost because the moss is growing the wrong way. Gendry points out that Lem and Tom probably know where they’re going. Arya’s annoyed with him, but Genry’s her only friend now. It turns out that Hot Pie decided to stay behind at inn to become a baker. This was a really unceremonious way to say goodbye to Hot Pie, who I will dearly miss. He could have at least given Arya wolf bread or something!
Arya tells Harwin of Hullen’s death and of some of the things that happened to her since leaving King’s Landing. She doesn’t talk about Jaqen H’ghar and the iron coin and she doesn’t tell him about the stableboy and Harrenhal guard that she killed because that would be kind of like telling her father and she couldn’t bear the thought of that. There they are! There are the tears I was looking for, GRRM. Knew you’d come through!
Harwin tells Arya a little bit about happened when they were sent to deal with Ser Gregor. It turns out it was a trap meant for Ned. Tywin was going to have him killed. But Jaime didn’t know about it and his impulse control issues had him attack and injure Ned so he couldn’t go. So, the unlucky men Ned sent in his place got attacked instead. Most of them died and others scattered. Beric Dondarrion was gravely injured with an open chest wound. The way Harwin tells it, he did eventually pull through after medieval anesthesia (boiling wine) and Thoros’ prayers to the Lord of Light. After hearing later on that Robert was dead, they became outlaws.
The weather is shitty. It’s been raining constantly. Luckily, the Brothers Without Banners (BWB) has friends everywhere among the smallfolk and they get food and shelter for the night. It is there they learn that Jaime has “escaped” custody at Riverrun. They all have a good laugh about Beric hanging him. But only after a trial, of course! Beric always gives their enemies a trial.
The next day, the sun is finally out. Arya can see for sure that they are in fact going south which is not the way to Riverrun. Lem breaks the news that they are not going to Riverrun. They are taking her to Beric, who will be the one to decide what to do with her. So Arya does what Arya does. She runs off on her horse to try and escape. A chase ensues but Harwin catches up to captures her. She says “I thought you were my father’s men.” Harwin reminds her that Ned’s dead and he now belongs to Beric and the BWB. And Arya grows more cynical than before. She pretty much can’t trust anyone. She agrees to ride peaceful and adds the “for now” in her head.
Here it is. This is one of my favorite chapters. I’ve even had nightmares based on this chapter and I don’t scare all that easily. Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m in Minnesota and it’s very much White Walker weather outside right now. It’s probably going to be tough to recap because it jumps around in time so much, but I’ll do my best.
Sam’s trying to walk. It’s been snowing pretty much constantly and he’s very tired. I can’t say I blame him. I hate walking the couple of blocks from the bus stop to home in the winter and that’s with no ice monsters and reanimated corpses chasing me. His weight makes walking even more uncomfortable and awkward. His sword belt especially has to be adjusted all the time. But at least he has a couple of knives, including the dragonglass dagger, even though he lost his sword at the fist.
By the way, can you even believe that GRRM makes us wait about 200 pages after that pants shittingly scary prologue to see what happened to the NW at The Fist and when we finally get that chapter, we have to read about how it’s hard to walk in the snow when you’re fat for a couple of pages? That’s so George!
Anyway, he’s stumbling and crying but he can’t stop. Because if he stops, he’ll die. About fifty men escaped The Fist but the WW and/or their wights are still following them. Picking them off on by one as they get separated from the pack.
He’s trying not to think about what happened, but it’s coming back to him. As he prays for The Mother to have mercy, he remembers Maslyn crying for mercy as a wight nearly decapitated him. The Seven have no power beyond The Wall.
Sam eventually trips on a root and falls down. It’s enough to finally make him give up on life. He’s about ready to just lie in the snow and freeze to death. He starts thinking about the start of the attack. Unlike in the show, Sam did get the ravens off with notes he had prewritten just in case. After that, he packed up some dragonglass and that old horn that had also been buried in the NW cloak over by The Fist. Mormont commands him to stay with the ravens while the others shoot fire arrows at the approaching wights. Things go from bad to worse all around him as the wights, which include not just humans but a bear and a giant get inside the ringwall.
The lovely memories are interrupted by Grenn trying to get him to stand up and keep going. One of the NW men carrying a torch advises Grenn to just leave him. The torch bearing brothers are the ones forming a circle around the NW column. The fire keeps the wights and the Others away. Once the guy with the torch passes, Grenn and Sam are outside of the protective fire circle and they are very vulnerable. But then Small Paul, who also has a torch offers to help get Sam up.
Sam starts thinking back to the attack at the Fist again. It turns out that although he had gotten off the initial messages, he forgot to send any of the other, more detailed ones. So kind of like the show after all. Whomp, whomp.
From here, the memories get a little more chaotic. The upshot is, several of the NW men, including Commander Mormont do escape, although several of the horses run away and they have to fight through hordes of wights on the slope of the fist to do it.
Back in the present, Paul is literally carrying Sam and the two of them and Grenn are starting to fall behind. Finally, they can’t see any of the other torches except the one Grenn is carrying. They’re all alone.
Well. Not quite alone. Because oh shit, here comes an Other. On a dead horse. The Other is pretty bad ass. It dismounts the horse and his feet don’t even break through the snow. His sword slim and milky white with blue glowiness and the armor ripples with the Other’s movements. Grenn threatens it with fire, but the Other just cuts the torch apart and the flame extinguishes in the snow. Oh, snap!
The Other stabs Paul and the weight of him causes the Other to lose his sword. Sam takes this opportunity to stab the Other with the dragonglass and it fuck yeah! It actually works! There’s a sound like cracking ice and steamy blue blood is everywhere and finally it dissolved like the Wicked Witch of the West when Dorothy threw water on her. Now they know what kills the Others and Sam is finally able to get motivated to move his ass.
On a relatively lighter note, back in King’s Landing, a small council meeting is taking place. Tywin is being all majestic and commanding. Tyrion’s got Pycelle’s old spot and Pycelle is all meek and skinny and generally a mess. Plus he has to sit next to Cersei. That can’t ever be fun. Tyrion’s starting to get back to his old sassy self and just doesn’t give a fuck about how pathetic Pycelle is. Mace Tyrell and his bannerman Paxter Redwyne and Mathis Rowan are also there. So basically, the Tyrells now have a lot of power in how things are run. Rounding out the gang is Kevan Lannister and of course, Varys and Littlefinger.
Varys brings tidings from the war. Randyll Tarly attacked Robett Glover and some other northerners and won. Lord Helman Tallhart is reportedly dead. Redwyne is apparently some sort of irritating suck up and loudly cheers the victory, but Littlefinger points out that Robb himself is still unbeaten on the field. Tywin is certain that Robb will leave to go north and take it back from the Ironmen, so the plan is to gather the remaining Lannister forces and attack Riverrun.
The council discusses whether or not to accept Balon Greyjoy’s peace terms, which would include acknowledging that he is king of the Iron Islands. They also talk about the issue of Lysa Arryn who is a threat if nothing else, because she hasn’t gotten the Vale into the war and their forces are all still alive and strong. Tyrion wants to take some men and attack the Vale, but Tywin instead sends Littlefinger to go fuck the problem away and make Lysa his consort and the Lannister’s ally. With LF gone, Tyrion is made Master of Coin. It’s decided to do absolutely nothing about the Greyjoys for the moment.
At this point Tyrion realizes there’s something else at work that Tywin is not saying. He remembers all those important letters and wonders what it is in the works.
But talk moves on to the ridiculously extravagant Kardashianesque wedding that’s being planned for Joffrey and Margaery. Pycelle announces that three hundred Dornishmen are coming for the occasions. Mace is not happy about this. We learn that there’s centuries long anonymity between Dorne and the Reach and constant border wars. Plus the Dornish prince Oberyn Martell AKA the Red Viper had crippled Mace’s son in a tourney. But it must be accepted. The Dornish will take a small council seat as part of the agreement to support Joffrey rather than any of the other claimants to the iron throne.
After some kind of boring business, Varys offers up some other assorted rumors. A kraken (real one, not a Greyjoy) has been spotted off the fingers and there is news of dragons hatching. Tywin is not interested. They move on to discussion of the still missing Tyrek Lannister. They also discuss what to do with the deserters from the battle of Blackwater. Tywin wants all their knees broken. Tyrion tries to convince him to send many of them to the Wall instead. But Tywin sees the Wall only as something that defends the North from the Wildlings so he doesn’t want to send anyone there.
After this, Tywin sends everyone away but the Lannisters. Tyrion doesn’t trust Littlefinger and doesn’t think Tywin should either. Cersei has to disagree. Tywin gets all pissy about the squabbling and of course, Kevan has to take up for Tywin. He thinks LF is a better match for Lysa than the various Vale men who have no allegiance to the Lannisters at all. Kevan also says that LF came to him and snitched on the Tyrell plot to marry Sansa off to Willas. Cersei of course wants to go hulk smash. Tywin wants to cut them off by making other marriages first. He declares that Cersei will be married to Willas unless she can come up with a better option.
Tyrion’s too busy laughing at Cersei’s impotent rage to realize he is about to meet a similar fate. Then it dawn on him. It’s Sansa he will be wed to. If they have the wedding before Joffrey’s the Tyrells can’t really do anything to stop it. He objects on the grounds that it’s cruel to force this marriage on her, but of course Tywin does not give one single solitary fuck about Sansa’s happiness and the marriage gives them potential control of Winterfell. Tyrion is starting to warm to the idea of having Winterfell if he can’t have Casterly Rock but there’s the little matter of Robb. This is when a chillingly unconcerned Tywin tells him all about how Robb has married Jeyne Westerling. So it’s settled. Tyrion and Sansa will marry. Marriages, marriages everywhere! Chriss Harrison and ABC would be so proud.
Deaths in this recap: 3. Finally! Some blood! There’s Maslyn, Small Paul, and Helman Tallhart. Many other NW men perished, but the only ones named as of now are those three.
Cumulative deaths: 89
Maybe deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative maybe deaths: 8
Betrayals in this recap: 1. Harwin has showed himself to be loyal, not to his liege lord Eddard and now Robb, but to Beric and the BWB
Cumulative betrayals: 26
Incest incidents: 0
Cumulative incests: 25