Book I am Reading: A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons
Booze in my flagon: Insight Brewery’s Trollway citrus IPA at first, later pinot noir
Chapters: AFFC prologue, ADWD prologue
We open in a new location; Oldtown with a new character named Pate. He is in an inn called The Quill and Tankard (cool name!) with a couple of other guys named Mollander, Alleras, Armen and Roone and fantasizing about running away to the Free Cities with a girl named Rosey. Rosey is the daughter of the Q & T’s oldest serving wench, Emma. Emma is giving away Rosey’s maidenhead for a golden dragon.
Pate doesn’t seem too bothered by the selling of a fifteen year old’s virginity but he is feeling a little sorry for himself because he doesn’t think he’ll ever save up enough money. If Westeros had fedoras, he’d be wearing one.
The group are arguing about the existence of dragons and throwing up apples in the air and then shooting them with arrows. I guess this is what dudebros did before first shooter video games. Armen is an acolyte at the Citadel and the rest are novices training to be maesters. Armen is skeptical about dragons. Mollander seems to believe there are some in the world. Presumably they are talking about Daenerys.
Pate has a short attention span and starts thinking about Rosey again. Now he wants to buy a donkey and go traveling around the country with her instead. All he wants out of life is her. He used to only want to be a master but he sucks at his studies.
Finally Pate stops making us read about his boner and he starts thinking about some alchemist that is supposed to meet him there. He starts feeling sorry for himself again and thinks about how he has to serve under Archmaester Walgrave who is too senile and old to grant him his ravencraft link. Instead a master called Gormon, who once accused Pate of theft is the one with the power. So it’s no good.
The alchemist wanted to give Pate a gold dragon to steal something from the Citadel. Pate doesn’t want to do it, but the alchemist said he’d be there in three days. Pate has changed his mind and is waiting for that alchemist while the other maesters in training bicker about the dragons.
A lord’s son named Lazy Leo (formerly a Tyrell) comes into the inn and starts bickering too. He seems to be an 80’s teen movie villain type. He does confirm that according to a mysterious Archmaester named Marwyn AKA the Mage, the rumors of dragons are true. Leo also informs them that there’s a glass candle burning in the Mage’s chambers.
This is a Big Fucking Deal. Glass candles are made of obsidian from Valyria and are not supposed to be able to burn. The night before a acolyte’s say their vows to become maesters they are shut up in a room with them. They have to stay in darkness and realize that nothing they did make the candle burn. Leo claims that the light was different than regular candles. It’s brighter, casts weird shadows and doesn’t flicker.
On that note, everyone leaves but Leo and Pate who is still holding out hope that the alchemist will show. Leo taunts him about Rosey, suggesting that he will bed her instead. As the sun is coming up, Pate finally gives up and leaves. He has already stolen what the alchemist wants so he intends to put it back and hope nobody finds out.
He walks past the sept ringing the bells for morning and the red priests welcoming the sun. He looks at Hightower in the distance. It’s extremely tall and its lord, Leyton Hightower, ruler of the city has not left it in a decade. Pate trips and falls and when he gets up, the alchemist is looming over him. He says he didn’t want to intrude on Pate and his friends. Pate finally reveals what his loot is, a key from a box under Archmaester Walgrave’s bed. They go into a narrow alley like they’re doing a drug deal or something. Pate should probably be concerned about this, but he just wants a dragon so he can bed Rosey. The alchemist gives him the coin. Pate asks the alchemist what he wants with the key, but he won’t tell him. Pate asks him to show his face. He doesn’t recognize him. Pate asks who he is and the alchemist says “no one.”
He gives the alchemist the key and starts to walk away. He feels the cobblestones move underneath him and falls and dies in some fashion that GRRM has decided not to share with us. His last thought is of Rosey.
Presumably the alchemist is Jaqen H’gar? Definitely a Faceless Man if that wasn’t clear!
Meanwhile, beyond the Wall…
A warg is in his (regular, not dire) wolf sniffing stuff. He’s feeling hateful. He growls and calls to his packmates, a one eyed male and small female. They can smell human flesh and they are very excited. They track down the humans and it’s a group of two men plus one woman and a baby. The warg/wolf can smell fear on them. The wolves descend on the group and kill them. They are armed with “teeth” AKA knives, but the wolves overpower them before they can use them. The warg takes the woman and her baby.
The warg goes back to his body and it turns out to be Varamyr. He’s in a hut. As we recall from earlier Bran chapters, the human gets no nourishment when he eats while warging. Varamyr feels pretty guilty about eating a woman and a baby. He thinks of someone or something called Bump. He thinks of his former skinchanger mentor, Haggon. Haggon said it is an abomination for a human to eat human flesh. As is mating with a wolf while warging (is that like when a drag queen kikis?) and the worst abomination is warging a human. *Ahem* looking at you Bran * cough, cough*
Varamyr doesn’t give a fuck about abominations though. He as his wolf killed and ate Haggon while he was in his second life. He ate his heart. Nice! Varamyr rationalizes it by thinking the three people he and the pack killed would have died anyway. That’s probably true.
Varamyr is trying to keep warm but the fire is dying. He’s wounded. A spearwife he had been traveling with had sewed it up, but the stiches burst and now he’s bleeding. The survivors of the battle had scattered and many are already dead. He thinks that if Mance is dead, as is rumored, the free folk are doomed. He thinks the crows (Nightswatch, not corvids) are also doomed since the enemy is coming.
Varamyr has died nine times before while warging. Is this a cat having nine lives reference? He’s remember these deaths, all in different animals, the first one as a six year old at the hands of his father. Then he notices that his fire burned out. He tries to rekindle it to no avail and calls out to Thistle. No answer. She’s been gone two or three days.
He goes back to remembering his childhood. His parents left him at a young age with Haggon, saying he should be with his own kind. Before he gave himself the name Varamyr, he was Lump. So Bump had to have been his twin. The fuck kind of names are those? I joke about naming my boobs sometimes. Maybe I should go with Lump and Bump next time the subject comes up.
Varamyr drags himself to the door and discovers that there has been a huge snowfall. He calls for Thistle again and hears the one eyed wolf howl in response. He fears he’ll lose control of his wolf and the pack will get him. He lost control of his other animals when he died inside the eagle during the battle.
Back to the trip down memory lane. Haggon had only approved of warging dogs and wolfs. This is not true of all skinchangers though. He thinks that he’ll take Thistle’s body if she comes back. He’s getting weaker and weaker. He eats snow, but that just makes him hungrier. He tries to walk to a different hut but his leg gives out and he lies sprawled out in the snow, bleeding out. He thinks about how he hates Jon Snow and how he could sense that Jon is also a warg. He remember’s how Bump died, torn apart by the dogs. Lump/Varamyr warged one of the dogs afterwards and that’s when his father killed him while warging. His human self screamed and that’s how he was outed as a skinchanger.
Varamyr wakes up. Thistle is yelling at him to get up. She says “they’re coming!” I think we all know what she means by that. He’s too cold and weak. So he wargs her. She fights him on it and it ends up looking like she’s dancing madly as the two struggle for control. Then his consciousness is not in any body at all. He looks down and sees that the wights have killed Thistle. Her body looks up with the blue wight eyes. His last thought is that she can see him.
Deaths in this recap: 3. Pate, Varamyr, Thistle
Cumulative deaths: 155
Maybe deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative maybe deaths: 13
Betrayals in this recap: 1. Varamyr stealing Thistle’s body
Cumulative betrayals: 42
Incest incidents: 0
Cumulative incests: 28