Book I am reading: A Storm of Swords
Booze in my flagon: Pinot grigot
Chapters: Tyrion VI, Davos V, Jon VII
We open on scene of wedded bliss. Psych! It’s a tense and WASPy dinner between Tyrion and Sansa. At this point they don’t know that their wedding night was probably the least awful wedding in Westeros that year. It seems the pease and mutton are overcooked and Sansa is for some reason (Stockholm syndrome?) apologetic about it even though she didn’t make the food. But unpleasant
English King’s Landing food is the least of his worries. His family are a bunch of assholes and there are tensions between the Dornish and Highgarden people who are all in town for the next upcoming wedding of doom. The one between Joffrey and Margaery. There’s already been a brawl and Queen of Thorns is snarking up a storm as per usual.
But Tyrion is all repressed and sedate now so he doesn’t bring any of that up with Sansa. He just tells her that the pease will suffice as they are green and round. After dinner Sansa leaves to go to the godswood. He offers to accompany her and she adamantly refuses. I’m not saying this detail is important of anything. I’m just including it because.
Tyrion is doing his accountant work and a summons from Tywin arrives. Surprisingly there’s a little family gathering in there. Cersei, Joffrey, Kevan and Lannister toady GM Pycelle are all gathered. Joffrey is really, really pleased to announce that Robb is dead. Tywin is grim as ever and notes that the war is not quite won yet. He plans to offer to spare any Riverlands castle that yields. He expects the Blackfish won’t try anything because they have Edmure hostage. The exception is Harrenhal. He’s sent Gregor Clegane there to kill all the Brave Companions. And he doesn’t even know about Jaime’s hand yet! Predictably, Joffrey just wants everyone killed. He even wants Robb’s head served to Sansa at his wedding feast. But Tyrion isn’t having it and even makes a veiled death threat towards Joffrey. Tywin actually scolds Joff for once, pointing out that no one will bother bending the knee if he punishes those who bend the knee as if they were still fighting and then he kind of compares Joff to Aerys. Instead of acquiescing immediately, Joffrey mocks Tywin for being scared of Aerys and letting Robert do all the fighting and defiance.
Ooooohhhh! Tywin got told! Not really. He just has Joffrey sent to bed and drugged with dreamwine. What is dreamwine anyway? It seems to be a beverage that knocks you right out. I’m picturing this
Yep. Westrosi were drinking lean/purple drank before it was cool.
After Joffrey has been sent to drink purple drank from a sippy cup and go nighty-night, Tywin starts in on Cersei, blaming her for Joffrey’s piss poor behavior. She tries to pass the blame off on Robert but he doesn’t seem to be quite buying it. He sends Cersei off to bed too. Knowing her, she’ll just drink some regular wine now. Not that I blame her. Tyrion and Tywin are now alone and he wants to know how long the RW has been in the works and why he wasn’t told. Tywin did the whole “it’s on a need to know basis and you don’t need to know” thing that’s always in military and political thrillers. He didn’t tell Cersei either. He says Tyrion’s tongue is too loose.
Talk turns to Oberyn and how to appease him. Tywin doesn’t want to give him Gregor’s head so he’s going to try and blame the murder of Elia, Aegon and Rhaenys on Amory Lorch, who you may recall, died in the last book. He’s even going to claim Amory acted on his own. Yeah, I’m sure Oberyn will buy that. No problem. Tyrion says that Tywin shouldn’t have ordered them killed at all and he gets all indignant about it. Tywin does not seem to want to take any responsibility at all for Gregor’s brutal overkill and Amory having been a rapist. He also lays the blame at violating guest right entirely at the feet of Walder Frey. Tywin says it’s more merciful that a dozen people die at dinner than tens of thousands on the battlefield so the Red Wedding is not so bad. I guess in the short run that’s true, but without guest right meaning anything anymore, diplomacy is effectively impossible.
Then Twyin drops a real bombshell. He’s given Arya to Roose to take home as a wife for Ramsay.
Did they capture Arya? Or does Tywin have some other trick up his sleeve? Stay tuned!
The news of the Red Wedding is spreading all over. Now it has reached Dragonstone. Salladhor Saan is the one reporting the news and he gives some more gruesome details than Twyin did. Not only was Catelyn thrown naked into the river, Robb’s head was cut off and Grey Wind’s head sewn onto the body. Not okay. Davos thinks about how the Freys are now cursed but he also remembers Melisandre’s leeches.
Queen Selyse and Ser Axell, religious zealots that they are, are not disquieted by this. They believe it was R’hllor’s doing so they are praising him. Stannis doesn’t buy it because it sounds so very Walder Freyish but Mel agrees and does that whole annoying God works in mysterious ways thing that people do when they don’t have any kind of rational argument.
Stannis wants to attempt an alliance with the Iron Islands and White Harbor. But Mel tells him they will not swear fealty and instead more false kings will rise up to take the crowns of those who have died. She saw it in the flames. She thinks a display of power is what it will take and that she needs to burn Edric Storm to awaken some stone dragons. Melisandre is really hyped up on burning people alive, isn’t she? I think she’d burn something is in order to get her chosen teams into the final four. Stannis is still reluctant to do this though. Or at least he is when Selyse is doing the urging. Mel is using her firecrotch power to hypnotise him into it.
Until cock blocker Davos steps in to interrupt. Davos points out that no one is as cursed as the kinslayer in the eyes of gods and men and Edric is his nephew even though he’s only a bastard. He buys Edric some time by pointing out that they can’t be sure the leeches worked until Joffrey dies. Stannis dismisses everyone. Davos lingers to further convince him not to murder Edric. He talks about how Shireen is friends with him and it would break her heart if he was killed. But Stannis is still conflicted because he wonders if killing Edric will save the kingdom. In one of my favorite exchanges in the book he asks “what is one bastard boy against a kingdom?” and Davos says “Everything.” Stannis clenches his jaw and dismisses Davos. I wonder how many cavities Stannis has. I’m a teeth clencher too and it wears down the enamel. With no dentists and fluoride, it’s a wonder his teeth aren’t a huge mess.
Outside he runs into Sallador. They discuss whether or not Stannis will burn Edric. Davos still has faith. Salla is a little more cynical and he’s now returning to sea to do more piracy. Davos is still thinking about how he has no business being hand of the king because he’s too lowborn. He is learning how to read still from Maester Pylos who is also tutoring Shireen, Edric and Davos’ youngest so Devan. Devan is becoming quite the R’hllor follower which is a little disconcerting. He interrupts the end of a lesson with the kids to talk to Pylos and practice reading by looking at old letters addressed to King Stannis. He picks the one from The Wall that talks about Mance’s armies encroaching and Mormont under attack at the fist. Alester had been hand when the letter arrived and he dismissed it. He confirms that neither Stannis or Mel actually saw the letter. He wonders if this was R’hllor’s adversary marshalling his power and his frightened. But he does nothing. Just asks for another letter.
The Castle Black residents wake up one day to see smoke from Mole’s Town. Styr and the wildlings are getting closer. His leg is still in pain so like Joffrey, he’s been partaking in purple drank. Since his leg is gimpy, Donal Noye is going to have him up on the tower with a bow. He’s of course still being emo about having to fight Ygritte.
The Castle is so sparsely manned that they have to use scarecrows in black cloaks as phony sentinels to look more imposing then they are. Jon is up in the king’s tower with Deaf Dick Follard and a pretty young man named Satin. And six scarecrow sentinels.
Grenn and Pyp are with some of the refugees of Mole’s Town who have fled to Castle Black in advance of the wildling attack. Jon emos some more about how weak Castle Black is and how most of the NW men there hate him for being a turnclock. Rast in particular has it in for him.
They wait and wait and still the wildlings do not come. They wait all day and finally when night falls, the horns blow. Jon manages to shoot a bunch of wildlings but so far the battle is fairly uneventful. Every invader near him is a regular wildling. It’s Styr an the Thenns that Jon wants to get.
At some point the common hall starts burning down. Deaf Dick is shot and falls over the parapet. He sees a flash of red hair and realizes that Ygritte is the one who did it. Now the Thenns are coming up to the tower. Jon and Satin kill the men coming up by dumping boiling oil on them. Down on the ground, the wildlings are gaining ground. Jon sees that young Henly is dead and old Henly dying. I never heard of these chaps before, but condolences. Easy got an axe to the knee and goes down. Easy? Was he a contestant on the VH1 reality dating show I Love New York? Rast has taken a sword through the belly. Dornish Dilly fell and got stabbed.
Styr Magnar and his men are on the seventh landing. He thinks he’s the victor but there’s all sorts of flammable material there and the NW men shoot flaming arrows at them. They die in a blaze.
It’s over. A costly victory, but a victory. Jon of course has to go look for Ygritte. He finds the bodies of Quort, Stone Thumbs and Big Boil. Then he finds Ygritte with an arrow between her breasts. He fears it was his arrow but the feather was black, not the grey goose feather he uses on his arrows. Ygritte is still alive so they get a Big Grand Death Scene together. Her last words seem to be “you know nothing, Jon Snow.”
Deaths in this recap: 8. Almost as much as the RW, it’s just that they mostly aren’t important characters. We have Old and Young Henly. Dornish Dilly. Quort, Stone Thumbs and Big Boil. And of course the manic pixie wildling girl Ygritte.
Cumulative deaths: 134
Maybe deaths in this recap: 2. Easy and Rast. It’s not really clear on these two.
Cumulative maybe deaths: 12
Betrayals in this recap: I guess 0 although Stannis even considering burning his nephew alive might fit in here.
Cumulative betrayals: 33
Incest incidents: 0. It’s been a while. ASOIAF, I am disappoint.
Cumulative incests: 26
Book I am reading: A Storm of Swords
Booze in my flagon: Pinot grigio and pinot noir
Chapters: Arya X, Catelyn VII, Arya XI
Arya and the Hound are on the way to the Twins and they meet some outriders. A knight and two squires. Arya considers revealing her identity to them, but she doesn’t recognize the sigil – a pitchfork – and gets a sense of stranger danger. She keeps quiet while the Hound pretends to be a farmer selling salt pork for the wedding feast using supplies stolen from an actual farmer. Is salt pork Westeros talk for bacon?
Apparently the knight isn’t from house Swanson or salt pork and bacon aren’t the same thing, because pitchfork knight doesn’t seem too terribly thrilled about the pork. But they let Sandor and Arya through.
Turns out I was right. Pitchfork knight is not from house Swanson. His name is Donnel Haigh. Hound knows him from kicking his ass in a melee and taking horses off him. Arya asks Sandor why Haigh didn’t recognize him and he says it’s because he’s a fool who won’t deign to look peasants in the eye. If you act respectful and say “ser” a lot, they won’t even notice you. I feel like this might be foreshadowing for later on when she starts crossing names off her death list.
They’re getting closer. Arya feels uneasy even though she should be excited that she’s about to be reunited with her family. She’s especially nervous about Roose Bolton being there.
Even before they saw the castle, they heard the music coming from it. Arya remarks that the band is not very good.
They’re stopped by a Bolton soldier before they can get in the castle. He won’t let them through at all. He’ll only let them go to the feast tents where all the commoners are. It’s dark, everyone is drunk and Arya can’t find anyone she knew from Winterfell anywhere.
Sandor has no intentions of stopping in the feast tents. He’s still going to try and get in the castle.
If the music was bad from outside of the castle, it seems to be even worse inside. On the TV show, one of the members of Coldplay had a cameo as a musician at the wedding.
The hall is stuffed full of people and hot. Cat is sitting between a Frey – Ser Ryman – and Roose Bolton. They both stink. Ryman has boozy BO and Roose smells sickeningly sweet. Also the wedding feast sucks. It consists of things like pike poached in almond milk and jellied calf’s brains. What the fuck even is that?
Edmure, himbo that he is, seems to be the only one having a good time. Roslin is pretty so that’s good enough for him. Roslin on the other hand has a nervous phony looking smile on her face. Catelyn writes it off as nerves about the bedding. Yeah, okay.
Robb is doing his best to act all polite and kingly. Most of the other guests are super drunk. Walder Frey was stingy with the food but for some mysterious reason, is plenty generous with the wine. Normally I’d say providing an open bar for a wedding makes him my kind of guy but…
Roose Bolton’s new wife Fat Walda is there too. She’s boasting about how Walda offered Roose his bride’s weight in silver as a dowry. So that’s why she was picked. I kind of love how she gives no fucks about that. She even gloats about her prettier cousin Fair Walda is headed towards spinsterhood now. Roose himself is quiet and morose and pretty much only apeaks to passive aggressively
threaten remind Walder that two of Walder’s grandsons, also named Walder are in his bastard son’s care. Catelyn wonder’s if a wedding could be any less joyful. Oh, sweet summer child.
The northerners are getting drunker and drunker. Except for Roose who quietly excuses himself to go to the bathroom. Robb comes to sit down in his place. He asks Ryman where Olyvar Frey is as he had hoped to use him as his squire when the host continues on to the north. He say’s Olyvar is gone from the castles on some unnamed duty and doesn’t offer any other explanation. Robb is clearly not satisfied with this. Cat remembers that Olyvar had said he wanted to stay with Robb so she’s confused too.
Finally Walder calls out to Robb that’s it time they bed Edmure and Roslin. That’s when the guests carry out the bride and groom, strip off their clothes, dump them in bed and watch them do it. It’s something that nobles do to make sure the marriage is consummated and heirs are legitimate. Also, there is no internet porn in Westeros so they have to get creative.
The guests get all excited and start making dirty jokes. Poor Roslin is terrified as she’s carted off. She’s stiff and crying. Catelyn, Robb and Walder stay behind as do some of the drunker Freys. Dacey Mormont and Wendel Manderly stay behind as well. Dacey asks Edwyn Frey to dance and he turns her down really angerly and walks away. This makes Cat nervous and she follows him out of the hall. She grabs his arm and feels that there’s chainmail under his sleeve.
Finally it clicks into place. Why all the Freys that actually like the Starks are gone. Why Roslin is so freaked out.
Edwyn pushes her aside. Robb starts to rush towards them and he’s shot by an arrow. The reason the musicians suck so much, they’re actually archers. Chaos erupts. Smalljon throws a table over Robb to keep him from being shot more. Robin Flint is stabbed to death by Freys while Wendel Manderly is shot through the neck with an arrow. As Rains of Castamere plays, more northerners such as Lucas Blackwood, Donnel Locke and Owen Norrey are killed. Dacey puts up a fight but is finally axed in the belly by Ryman the stanky drunk. Smalljon Umber is beheaded.
As all this is happening, Walder Frey is watching gleefully. Cat finds a dagger on the floor and picks it up. She plans to kill him. As she’s starting towards him, Robb throws off the table and gets up. The music finally stops except one drum and Grey Wind can be heard howling in the background.
Walder snarks about how Robb’s men have been killed but he’ll just make an apology and that will make it better or something. What a petty little shit.
Catelyn tries to stop it. She says they’re even and if she lets Robb live, they’ll forget all about this. That ploy never works in any other fiction and it doesn’t work here. She has Jinglebell by the throat with her dagger but Walder doesn’t care about poor Jinglebell at all.
Then Roose steps up, says “Jaime Lannister sends his regards” and thrusts his sword through Robb’s heart and twists it.
Catelyn just looses it. She cuts Jinglebell’s throat and then starts scratching up her own face until blood runs all down her arms. Finally someone cuts her throat and that’s how the final Catelyn chapter ends.
Sorry. I didn’t know how to make that funny. Just remember that this will happen eventually and feel a little better
Don’t forget that Arya is nearbye and in danger too. She and Sandor ride up just as some of the soldiers are going out from the castle after killing Robb’s people. She can hear Grey Wind howling in the distance. She can’t make out too clearly what’s happening but has witnessed enough battle to know that’s what’s happening. She knows Rains of Castamere too because she heard Tom o’Sevens singing it. It’s playing as fire arrows rain down on the northerner’s tents.
The Hound joins in the fighting. He’s taking on three of Frey’s and/or Bolton’s (it’s not clear) men at once. As much as she’s wanted Sandor to die in the best, she tries to help him by throwing a rock at one of them but it only grazes him. The knight is about to come for her when Sandor kills him with an axe. He informs her that Robb pretty much has to be dead and tries to get her to mount Stranger with him so they can escape. She wants to go into the castle and try to find him and her mother. She tries to make a run for the castle, the Hound calls her a stupid little bitch and knocks her out by throwing his axe at her head. GRRM tries to make it look like he’s killed her but even after all that slaughter, I didn’t believe it.
When I first read this series of three chapters I was actually on a packed bus. I had to fight so hard to not have a meltdown in front of all those people. Such good memories.
Anyway, that was pretty grim. But at least I’ll have something to report on my death count and at least the next three chapters are all in different locations.
Deaths in this recap: I’m going to have to actually go back and count here. Robin Flint, Wendel Manderly, Lucas Blackwood, Donnel Locke, Owen Norrey, Dacey Mormont, Smalljon Umber, Robb Stark, Aegon “Jinglebell” Frey and Catelyn Stark. I count 10. Of course, the death toll is way higher, but going by the named characters that died in front of a POV character, it’s actually only 10.
Cumulative deaths: 126
Maybe deaths in this recap: 1. Arya.
Cumulative maybe deaths: 10
Betrayals in this recap: One really fucking big one. Actually, I’m going for two. Both Roose Bolton and Walder Frey turned their cloaks here.
Cumulative betrayals: 33
Incest incidents: 0.
Cumulative incests: 26