Book I am reading: A Storm of Swords
Booze in my flagon: Insight Brewery’s Sunken City beer
Chapters: Daenerys II, Bran II, Davos III
Dany is in the Plaza of Pride. It has a fountain in the center. It kind of sounds like something that would be in a park in a major city’s gayborhood. But, no. It’s nothing like. The fountain has giant harpy of Ghis on it. Old Ghis was an old time slave empire from thousands of years ago that got defeated by a newer, better, more dragony slave empire. That is, Valyria. Now that Valyria is gone, the region of Slaver’s Bay has sort of re-formed Ghis. Except they still speak Valyrian, the language of their conquerors. This is only important because Dany is meeting with an Astapor slaver named Kraznys about purchasing soldiers called the Unsullied and is playing dumb and pretending she can’t speak his language. He’s having a slave girl speak for him. We’ll later learn her name is Missandei, so I might as well just start calling her that now.
Kraznys keeps referring to Dany as a Westrosi whore, savage, and pig and just generally being a giant asshole and Missandei keeps having to make up things to tell her that are more diplomatic. Dany asks about how Unsullied are trained. It’s pretty horrific. They’re slave boys selected at the age of five for size, speed, and strength. They train so rigorously that only one out of three boys survive. Dany is informed that the Unsullied brought out for inspection have been standing in the blistering heat for about a day and a night without food or water and would stand there until they dropped dead if they had been ordered to. Arstan Whitebeard, who is accompanying her is pretty disapproving of the whole thing. This causes Kraznys to declare that he smells of piss.
Oh, and did I mention that the Unsullied are all eunuchs? Not even just eunuchs, they take their penises too. Because forcing children to be raised into becoming members of a slave army wasn’t cartoon villain enough, the slave masters of Astapor mutilate their slave army too. The reasoning is supposedly that they won’t care about maiming or death because they’ve already been maimed and they can’t go start a family or anything anyway. It makes the Night’s Watch vows seem a little more forgiving, doesn’t it? Maybe Jon wouldn’t be quite so emotastic if he knew other organizations impose celibacy a bit more strictly.
To prove the Unsullied capacity to give no fucks about maiming, Krazynys cuts one of them across the cheek and the Unsullied does nothing more than blink. Dany says she’s gotten the point that they’ve got the courage to withstand pain. But I guess that wasn’t the point. Because Kraznys moves on to the next Unsullied and cuts his nipple off and throws it on the ground. Turns out that the Unsullied don’t feel pain. They drink a potion made with nightshade every day and it kills their capacity to feel. That way they’re torture proof too. This whole thing doesn’t make sense. There is a disorder which causes people to be unable to feel pain and because they lack self preservation skills, they are always getting injured and frequently die very young. Such a soldier would not be an asset in real life, but oh well. I guess if I can buy the existence of dragons, I can buy this!
Anyway, Arstan is still skeptical and says there are other ways to tempt men than with sex. But they are so thoroughly dehumanized that they don’t care about plunder either. They own nothing but their weapons and they don’t even names. They just draw a different color + creepy critter name each day. For example, Red Flea. It’s to remind them that they are vermin. Wow.
But we’re not done with the horror just yet! Krazynys also tells them that part of their training is to go buy an infant and kill it before its mother’s eyes to ensure there is no weakness left in them. They also give them a puppy as a pet for a year and are required to kill it after a year with it. Oy. I need a damn drink. Hold on…
Okayy. I’m back. Now that the Unsullied training has been described, it’s time to get down to business. Dany asks how many he has to sell and Kraznys says it’s eight thousand. Dany asks for Arstan’s council and he advises her not to do it. She asks why, primarily so Missandei will hear and relay it to Kraznys later. He says it’s because slavery is outlawed in Westeros and has been for thousands of years. Having a slave army will harm her cause and bring dishonor to house Targaryen. Dany says she will need to consider it carefully. This causes Kraznys to go off on a misogynistic diatribe he think she doesn’t understand. He talks about how women are pampered and stupid and can therefore make no decisions. Then he talks about how much he would like to fuck her after feeding her jellied dog brains, calamari, and puppy fetus. I think Kraznys might be an MGTOW. As if that wasn’t all icky enough, he offers to take her to the fighting pits. They will take three boys, cover one in honey, one in blood and one in rotten fish, set a bear loose on them and wage over which one the bear will eat first. For some strange reason, none of this appeals and she decides to go back to her own ships.
They journey through the city in a litter and it’s depressing as hell. Everything is made out of red brick and there’s dust everywhere. There’s creepy looking nobles parading around naked slaves. It’s just a fucked up and creepy place. Arstan continues trying to persuade Dany not to buy the Unsullied, but she feels she doesn’t have a choice. She wonders why Jorah dislikes and distrusts him so much and decides it’s jealousy. She thinks about how she didn’t want him or the kiss, and she makes sure to never be alone with him now, but for some reason, the kiss woke her libido up. Yeah, I don’t know either. Then she thinks about she was masturbating, Irri woke up and saw her and just randomly went down on her. Wait. How did this turn from a disturbing chapter about the horrors of slavery to an awkward soft core porn?
Back at the bay, she yells at Jorah for taking her to such a vile sty but decides that as horrible as it is, she has to find a way to buy the Unsullied. She visits the dragons, who have been restless all day. Jorah comes to talk to her, saying that if she’s going to take the Iron Throne, she’s going to have to spill a lot of blood and the Unsullied might be the way to go about it because they never rape and pillage the way other armies do. She wonders why the Dothraki have never sacked Astapor, which is pretty undefended. It’s because they don’t want to face the Unsullied and because what would be the point? You can’t carry off people to sell into slavery if there are no slavers. She’s still conflicted because she wants to win, but she wants to be honorable like Rhaegar. Not a psychopathic little shit like Viserys. The chapter ends with Jorah saying one of my favorite lines. It just sums up the whole story so well. “Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died.”
On to a less depressing and horrifying chapter. It’s time for a travelogue and perhaps story hour with Jojen. The group is travelling in some remote mountain valley area. There are no real roads where they are. Just pine trees and lakes. Bran is wondering where Osha and Rickon are. And if you saw last week’s Game of Thrones, you too are probably like
I thought this chapter would be less sad! But here I am, a page in and already getting depressed.
Moving on. Meera is complaining about how she hates these mountains. Bran points out that yesterday she was saying she loved them. She says that is also true. She loves and hates them. This makes sense to Jojen, but not to Bran. Jojen says “if ice can burn, then love and hate can mate.” I’m not sure yet what the relevance is, but the burning ice stuff make me think of Jon Snow and his probable part Targ origins.
Bran is frustrated taking the long way and wishes they took the Kingsroad, but Jojen is determined to keep off the roads to avoid detection. It makes sense, but the traveling is getting harder as the weather gets colder and the game is less scarce. They never see any people and Meera wonders if anyone even lives there. Bran says there are hill clans – once again I’m forced to try and talk about clansmen without thinking KKK – like the Wulls, Harclays, Knotts, Liddles, Norreys, and Flints. The northern ahem, clansmen are cooler than the Vale uh, clansmen in my opinion, but that won’t really come up for another couple of books and the way my lazy ass updates this blog it’ll be a few years before we get to any further discussion. Jojen wonders if they know they’re there and Bran assures him that they do. He saw it while warging Summer. The only person they met was when they sheltered from a storm in a cave and met a nice man, probably a Liddle, who fed them. The Liddle misses the days of the Starks in Winterfell and complains of squid in the Wolfswood and Flayed Men asking about strangers on the Kingsroad. It seems likely this Liddle knew who they were and was warning them.
Back on the not-road they reminisce about Old Nan and wonder what happened to her. They talk about Hodor and how his name is really Walder, not Hodor. Then Bran asks Meera if she knows any stories, and boy does she. The tale of the knight of the laughing tree. That sounds like an Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode, right? She talks about a crannogman who wanted to go visit the Isle of Faces at the God’s Eye lake by Harrenhal. No men go there because it’s where the mysterious Green Men live, but this lad wanted to go meet them. He did meet them, but that’s not the point of the story and we don’t get to hear about. This makes me sad because I really want to know more about the Isle of Face and the Green Men.
So the crannogmen wintered on the Isle and then in the spring went to visit Harrenhal. A tourney was going on. The king was there and so was the prince. As were many other nobles. It becomes clear that this was the tourney where Rhaegar won and crowned Lyanna the queen of love and beauty and then either abducted her, or they ran off together. Some knights attacked the crannogmen (who is clearly Howland Reed) and Lyanna kicked their asses. One of those knights was a Frey, because of course. The knight of the laughing tree entered the lists and beat the knights who bullied him. But he didn’t win the whole tourney because he vanished and the prince (obviously Rhaegar) ended up winning. Meera refuses to elaborate more on what happened with “the wolf maid” and the Reeds were a bit puzzled that Ned never told Bran any of this story before. Gee, I wonder why?
Davos is sitting in jail still. It’s surprisingly warm in the cells under Dragonstone. Probably cause it’s an active volcano. You just know this subject is going to come up again sooner or later. Poor Davos had some kind of flu when he was first imprisoned, but Maester Pylos took care of him and he got better. So, as far as prison in Westeros goes, he’s treated all right, but is stuck in there for a long time with no one visiting and the gaolers refusing to speak to him. They are clearly keeping him alive for some reason and that may be worse than just letting him die.
Finally, one night Melisandre comes to visit. She’s creepy as usual. She threatens to put out the torch lighting the place and it freaks him out because no one wants to be in a pitch black and rat infested cell. She thinks this means he has come to love the fire and would therefore be amenable to R’hllor worship. She compares herself to the torch, created to keep the darkness at bay. She offers to him, maybe to create another shadow baby? I’m not really sure. Anyway, he wants none of that. She preaches the word anyway, her ruby 1990’s style choker all aglow, but it doesn’t get through. So she asks Davos why he wanted to kill her. He says he’ll tell her if she tells her who betrayed his plans and Mel claims she actually saw his purpose in the flames. She says the defeat on Blackwater was to teach Stannis to have faith, that it wouldn’t have happened if he brought her with to battle. She keeps yammering on and on about how Stannis is the Lord’s chosen. Blah blah blah. Then she swoops off into the knight without even waiting to hear why Davos wanted to kill her.
Three days later, Davos hears the sound of a struggle and some pleading. And the current King’s Hand, Selyse’s uncle Alester Florent is flung into the cell with him. He’s in there for treason because he doesn’t think that Stannis can win and thought he should give up. He very stupidly tried to send a letter with surrender terms to Tywin. Davos knows this was idiotic and says he’d never make peace without Stannis’ leave. I wonder if Melisandre saw this convo in the flames?
Well, some more uneventful set up chapters. Not that they weren’t good! But I forget sometimes how long it takes this book to turn into a dramatic emotional roller coaster!
Deaths in this recap: 0 Back to no deaths. For now…
Cumulative deaths: 95
Maybe deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative maybe deaths: 8
Betrayals in this recap: 1. Oh, Alester Florent. You are so, so stupid.
Cumulative betrayals: 28
Incest incidents: 0
Cumulative incests: 26