Is that a horn in your tent or are you just happy to see me?
Book I am reading: A Storm of Swords
Booze in my flagon: Cab-Sauv
Chapters: Jon X, Arya XIII, Sam IV
Surprise, surprise. The chapter opens with Jon emoing. He’s thinking he will today and reflecting on how he’s probably failed in his life mission to prove that bastards aren’t inherently treacherous and bad.
He’s spent the last several days on ice. Literally. He’s been in the ice cells. Janos Slynt and Alliser Thorne had intended on hanging him, but Aemon intervened and tattled on him to Cotter Pyke, who is in command at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. I still think the name Eastwatch-by-the-Sea sounds more like the name of a New England bed and breakfast with a picturesque lighthouse in the vicinity, not an outpost next to grim and icy waters.
Mance Rayder wants to parlay with the Nightswatch, but because he isn’t stupid, he doesn’t want to go them. Thorne and Slynt are sending Jon as an envoy figuring he’s all buddy-buddy with Mance and of course, hoping Mance will Jon instead. They aren’t really sending him to make terms. They tell him they’re sending him to kill Mance. It’s basically a death sentence. Even on the off chance he succeeds, the other wildlings will kill him.
Jon gets to the other side of the Wall. He walks through the ruins of the battle. A raven is perched on top of the head of a giant. The raven screeches “Snow, snow” at him and flies away. Is that a good omen or a bad one?
Tormund comes out to meet him. He tells Jon that if he wants to switch sides again, he might as well forget it
Tormund is actually in pretty good spirits. He always is. Jon tells him about how a one armed blacksmith named Donal Noye was the one to slay the giant Mag the Mighty and Tormund toasts to both Noye and Mag and says that Mance will probably make a song about their fight. They also toast to Ygritte. This gives him a chance to emo again about how she died bravely storming a castle and he’ll die a turncloak and a killer.
They get to the camp. Mance is hanging out outside the tent. He’s accompanied by Harma Dogshead and Varamyr Sixskins, the skinchanger. Varamyr is accompanied by his shadowcat and two wolves. Regular, not dire. Yeah, Jon is screwed.
Harma wants to kill him and Varamyr says some told ‘ya so stuff about never liking Jon. We get a bit of skinchanger lore. When Orell died, he went to live inside his eagle and started fading away in there. So Varamyr skinchanged into the eagle instead and now Orell is part of him whispering about how much he hates Jon. Creepy! It’s like a skinchanger Borg.
Skinchanger Borg has flown to the south side of the Wall and has seen that the Watch is in a pretty bad way. Things are looking bad for both Jon and the Watch. I sure hope some deus ex machina comes along and aids them…
Inside the tent Mance’s lady friend Dalla is in the early stages of labor. Her sister Val is holding her hand. They will stay for the meeting and that’s not at all awkward that she might give birth in front of an enemy’s envoy possibly while he’s killing the babby’s (typo and it stays) father.
Mance seems fairly unconcerned. He has something to show Jon. His big, giant warhorn. No, that’s not a euphemism. It’s an actual horn. Eight feet long. Black with gold runes. A very one ringish prop. Mance claims it is the mythical Horn of Winter. The horn that can supposedly bring down the Wall. Jon asks why they bothered with a battle at all. Dalla is the one to answer. She says sorcery is a sword without a hilt and there is no safe to grasp. That’s…ominous.
More ominous still, the talk turns to the Others. Mance says none of wildling races, including the giants have figured out how to defeat them. He admits this entire war is about hiding behind the Wall. There will be no where to hide if the Wall comes down. Mance wants the Watch to open the gates and let them pass. In exchange, he’ll give them the horn. Jon asks if Mance will be able to keep his Wildlings peaceful and lawful. Mance scoffs at that. Jon asks what will happen if they refuse. He knows there’s no way Thorne would agree to any of this. Mance says Tormund will blow the horn in three days. Jon is trying to figure out if he should try and make a move on Mance when they are interrupted by warhorns of the regular variety.
They rush outside. Something is coming from the east. Jon fears it’s the Others but Mance says they never come when the sun is up. Varamyr can see via eagle what’s coming. It’s men on horses. Men in steel and black. Mance and the wildlings think it must be the Watch pulling a sneak attack. Jon is baffled because he’s not heard any such thing.
The wildlings go out to meet their enemy. Well some of them do. Some are fleeing. The news comes to the camp that there’s a ton of men and they’re coming from the north too. Mance leaves Varamyr to guard Jon. Varamyr is still watching from the eagle. He sees golden banners. Then he throws his head back and screams. Then Jon sees the eagle on fire and falling from the sky. Varamyr is writhing on the ground. His shadowcat flees the scene while his wolves start fighting each other. Val comes out to find out what’s going on and says that Dalla is now giving birth. Everything is chaos.
Jon hears trumpets. He wonders if Robb has returned (I guess he hasn’t learned of his death yet? Or he’s delusional?) or if King’s Landing sent help. The battle continues all around them. The Wildlings are mostly losing. A lot of them are fleeing. But the giants are doing some damage to the mystery army. Jon still can’t tell who the yellow banners belong to. Shortly the Wildlings break. Jon sees that someone has killed Harma and put her head on a pole. That’s what you get for being a dog murderer! Finally Jon sees that it’s a Baratheon banner and hears knights chanting “Stannis, Stannis!”
Sandor and Arya come to an inn. Arya recognizes it as a place they had stayed on trip to King’s Landing from Winterfell. It’s come under new management since the war. Arya doesn’t recognize the innkeep. She does however recognize some of the guests. Three Lannister soldiers. Polliver is one of them. He recognizes The Hound who seems unconcerned and just orders some wine. The other two are a squire and Tickler, the main torturer at Harrenhal.
Polliver and Sandor do some tough guy posturing type of things with each other. Polliver tells him that if he’s looking for Gregor, he’s gone to King’s Landing. He also tells him that Joffrey is dead. Arya is surprised that she’s not happier about this news.
Polliver tells him more news. I’m not sure why since they were acting all bar room brawly a couple of minutes ago. I guess it’s just a method of exposition delivery. Arya gets to find out that Sansa was married to Tyrion and is now suspected of regicide and has disappeared. Blackfish is under siege at Riverrun and most of the riverlands are in Lannister/Frey hands. The only fighting is around Raventree where the Blackwoods are still staying loyal. Then they drop the real bombshell. They found Arya and are giving her to the Boltons. Sandor thinks this is pretty hilarious. Arya is just confused.
Sandor asks if there are ships at Saltpans but Polliver says he doesn’t know, he just knows that Randyll Tarly took Maidenpool and locked up it’s previous lord, Mooten.
Finally we’re done with the exposition and the smackdown begins! Sandor is drunk and is losing the fight. The Tickler is stabbing Sandor. Arya stabs the squire and takes the knife that the Tickler had thrown and lodged in the wall earlier. The Hound is just about done for, sitting in the corner bleeding.
Or so it seems. He kicks Polliver in the shins and slices upwards, catching him in the face and practically beheading him. The Tickler is starting to scared. He’s ignoring Arya, so she takes the opportunity to stab him in the back! She repeats all the questions he used to give while torturing people to death. She keeps stabbing him past death, until Sandor pulls him off. The squire is still alive. Sandor says he’s as good as dead though. He’s been stabbed in the bowels. He makes Arya mercy kill him.
They leave the inn and make camp later that night. Oh, and Arya has recovered Needle from Polliver! Sandor has Arya pour hot wine into his wounds to sterilize them. She dresses the wound. When it comes time to sleep, her kill list is shorter. It is then she wonders if it’s true that Sansa killed Joffrey. She wishes she could have seen or done it herself. Don’t we all? She goes to sleep and has a wolf dream.
The next day, the Hound is weak and sick from his wounds. Before night falls, they have to stop. He’s dying and wants her to mercy kill him. But she won’t do it. She tells him he doesn’t deserve mercy and leaves him.
Six days later, she finds Saltpans. There are three ships there. She has no money so she has to sell Craven the horse. The woman who buys him gives her only a small amount though. She knows a pitiful and ragged girl like herself must’ve stolen or found her, so she’ll turn her in for stealing or take what she gives her.
Arya goes to the biggest of the three ships and offers the captain her purse to take her to the wall. He’s not impressed with the amount of money she has. The captain doesn’t want to go north as it only has ice and pirates. He says they’re going home to Braavos. That’s when Arya takes her iron coin the Jaqen had given her out. She says “Valar morghulis” to him, just like Jaqen had said to do. This prompts the captain to answer “valar dohaeris” and offer her a cabin. Arya is taking a little trip abroad.
Gilly is nursing Dalla and Mance’s baby. She says he sucks harder than her own baby. Not touching that one. I guess Dalla has died but my drunkish ass missed where it says so.Jon is watching and smiling, but in a sad and emo type of way. This is how we learn that Sam and Gilly have arrived safe at Castle Black, shortly after Stannis ex machina arrived.
Mance is captive, a thousand of his best fighters were slain and the rest of the Wildlings have scattered. Castle Black is chaotic because it’s all messed up from all the fighting, and it’s all full of Stannis’ men. Castle Black has a tower, called the King’s Tower that is set aside for visiting kings. This is the first time it’s been used in living memory.
Val wants to see Mance and let him meet his son, but the only one allowed to see him is Maester Aemon.
Jon and Sam are walking together. Jon can tell Sam doesn’t just like Gilly, he like likes her. Jon tells him that he cannot keep her. Sam knows this and thinks it might be best to send Gilly to his home, Horn Hill and tell his family that her baby is his bastard. Sam thinks his mom would like the baby and his dad would like the proof that he isn’t gay or something.
They talk about the turncloak allegations. Sam assures him that very few actually believe it. They talk of the upcoming Lord Commander election. Alliser was losing so he’s backing Janos Slynt. The other main candidates are Cotter Pyke and Denys Mallister from the Shadow Tower. Jon emos about how no one loves him and he has no family. Sam wants to tell him that he met Bran, but keeps his word. Jon goes to train in the practice yard with some of the newer recruits.
They have an election choosing later. Two thirds of the vote is needed. Janos Slynt gets the most votes. Why? Who would vote for that? I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. If people will vote for Donald Trump, they’ll vote for anyone. Even still, he doesn’t get his two thirds.
Later that night, Sam, Pyp and Grenn are discussing the choosing. They’re all desperate to keep Slynt from prevailing. Sam says they need someone else besides the current candidates that everyone could get behind. It sounds like he’s pulling a Kristy from the Babysitter’s Club and getting a great idea! Stay tuned to find out what that not at all painfully obvious idea is.
Deaths in this recap: 4. Dalla, Harma Dogshead, Polliver, Tickler
Cumulative deaths: 147
Maybe deaths in this recap: 1, The Hound
Cumulative maybe deaths: 13
Betrayals in this recap: 0
Cumulative betrayals: 36
Incest incidents: 0
Cumulative incests: 28