Books I am reading: A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons
Booze in my flagon: Pinot Grigot
Chapters: Jon I, Bran I, Tyrion II
So, this really seems more like a Ghost chapter. Ghost is running through the woods. The moon murmured “snow.” Huh? Remember those three wolf moon shirts? Don’t do a Google image search for that. Or you might see tank top with three Donald Trumps howling at the moon. I think that shit’s going to feature in my nightmares tonight.
Anyway, Ghost can commune with the other Stark direwolf. He sees Shaggydog ripping up a goat with a long horn. So, a unicorn? Kinda? Nymeria is with her pack of regular wolves. Summer, he can’t sense anymore.
The moon keeps saying “snow.” All I can think is that it’s the moon version of this
Yikes. The cries of “snow” fade into real life and Jon, who apparently had been warging wakes up to Mormont’s raven sitting on his chest and screaming “snow” in his face. That’s every bit as creepy as the Teletubbies sun/baby. Then Dolorous Edd comes in to ask him to breakfast, but now that Jon is Lord Commander his angst became too important to allow him time to eat. He reports that some more wildlings have come to surrender. A bunch have been held captive in the wake of the war and more are turning themselves again rather than try to survive beyond the wall anymore.
Jon is concerned because he heard a Queen’s man (AKA a Melisandre devotee) mutter about how burning two kings will wake the dragon. Presumably this is referring to an actual dragon, rather than just Viserys coming back to life to be abusive. Jon is scared that Mel will try to burn Mance Rayder’s newborn son. Oh, and Mormont’s raven at his face when he died. Again, I say yikes.
Jon thinks about how Stannis is an annoying asshole of a guest. Do I smell a wacky sitcom plot coming? Maybe they can draw a chalk line down the middle of Castle Black and have lots of mishaps when they discover that staying on their own side of the castle presents some logistical challenges.
Jon walks through the yard and some oafish knight named Ser Godry Farring wants to spar with Jon. When Jon turns him down, Godry makes a big show about how Jon must be too scared. Jon turns his back to him and thinks about what a piece of shit Castle Black is now. Much of it is ruins after the battle. Better hope the White Walkers don’t get past the wall!
Jon gets to the king’s tower to see Stannis and he runs into Sam. Sam had been delivering a letter. Stannis has been asking for northern houses to join him and he keeps getting turned down. Jon enters Stannis’ chamber and Melisandre is there. Stannis frowns and asks who Lyanna Mormont is.
That about sums up her response to Stannis’ request for fealty. Well, she said “Bear Island knows no king but the King in the North, whose name is STARK.” Which doesn’t foreshadow anything at all. No sirree. Stannis is super pissed off that a little girl sassed him. This also doesn’t foreshadow how men act on Twitter. Not in the slightest.
Arnolf Karstark is the only one who has agreed to join Stannis. Jon lets him know in the nicest possible way that the Northern lords don’t really know him and probably fear is just another doomed pretender. Mel proclaims that if Stannis is doomed, so is the realm. Sure, Jan.
Stannis wants to marry Wyman Manderly to Mance’s sister in law, Val in hopes of securing Manderly money and wilding loyalty. But this is a crap plan, as Val is not a wildling princess (they don’t have royalty) and she’d probably kill any husband she is married to non-consensually. We also get some more internalized fatphobia as we are reminded that people call Wyman “Ser too fat to sit a horse.”
Stannis is also pissed that Jon still won’t ditch the Nightswatch to become Lord of Winterfall. Jon brushes him off by pointing out that it should go to Sansa and reveals that he plans to send Gilly, who is acting as wet nurse to Mance’s baby away. They squabble some more because Jon doesn’t want to give the disused castles along the wall to Stannis to give to his man. Stannis pretty much threatens his life and reminds him that Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt hate him. He kicks Jon out and Melisandre walks him out. She tells him that he has lots of enemies and should watch his back. She says she sees daggers in the dark. And she also says “you know nothing, Jon Snow.” Just in case you thought you’d seen the last of that catchphrase, nope!
Bran’s getting frustrated because they have been riding with Coldhands and his elk through the north pretty much forever. Hodor does some Hodoring but not as often as when they were south of the wall. Jojen is suffering the most of the group, he keeps getting weaker. Bran has been warging both Summer and Hodor a lot. Hodor still hates it. Summer is dying to eat the elk. Also, a murder of ravens has been traveling with too. Bran gets the sense that they act as scouts for Coldhands.
Coldhands is told by the ravens or maybe just senses that they are being followed by some men. He says he’ll deal with them. Meera wants to come with, but CH tells her to protect the boys. He tells Meera how to find a nearby lake with an abandoned fishing village where they can seek refuge. Meera is troubled that CH didn’t specify whether or not the men are wildlings or … something else. Meera is generally suspicious of him. She has noticed that he doesn’t eat, drink or get bothered by the cold. He doesn’t sleep. They can’t see his breath and his scar doesn’t get crusted with ice. He’s clearly undead, but doesn’t have the blue eyes of the wights. Bran is a little more trusting, since CH saved Sam and Gilly from the wights.
After hours searching for the village, Bran wargs Summer to find it. He does so and leads them there. None of the wildlings had left any food, so they have to eat gross acorn paste. Jojen refuses to eat, even though he’s very weak. He promises that today is not the day he dies. Their food ran out ten days ago and they are starting to starve. Even Summer is having a hard time finding prey. It must be killing GRRM to not be able to write any food porn here. They are out of the wind but still damn cold and CH has warned them not to make a fire because “you never know what the light might summon from the darkness.”
That night Bran wargs Summer. Summer has to fight for meat against some regular wolves. The ones from the prologue. The meat? It’s dead Nightwatch men. Summer fights and defeats the wolf that Varamyr is now living in. The pack is now Summer’s. Bran is more upset about Summer having a new pack that isn’t the other Stark direwolves than he is about the fact that he just effectively committed cannibalism.
Bran wakes up to find that CH is back with a dead pig that he has cooked, breaking the no fire rule. Bran works out that CH killed the NW men that the wolves had feasted on. Bran asks who he is and why his hands are black. CH replies that when the heart stops beating, the blood congeals down in the extremities. Bran accuses him of being a dead thing. Well, duh? He calls him a monster. Coldhands says “your monster, Brandon Stark.” Touching.
Tyrion departs Pentos. I’m sure the servingwomen at Ilyrio’s manse are thrilled to see him go. He is sent out in a litter so that nobody sees him. Tyrion thinks that the sea will be faster, but Ilyrio says that the sea is too treacherous due to autumn storms and pirates. Ilyrio is accompanying him as far as the Rhoyne river where the Dornish were originally from. Ilyrio likes to eat, so we get the food porn that was missing from the previous two northern chapters. But? Jellied eels? Hard pass on that. They also drink all day and night of course. Tyrion is quickly becoming the Karen Walker of this story. A rich, snarky drunk? That fits.
Tyrion is getting impatient with the slowness of the journey. He asks Ilyrio what his motive is for installing Dany on the iron throne. Why does he give a flying fuck about who rules on some other continent? Ilyrio claims it’s because he wants to do some good in the world and help a sweet young girl gain the throne. Tyrion and all readers who are remotely paying attention know that this is BS. Tyrion asks him to tell him about Dany. We learn that Ilyrio was horny for her, but didn’t act on it. We also learn that the night before her marriage to Khal Drogo, Viserys tried to sneak into Dany’s chambers to rape her but was foiled by Ilyrio having the foresight to post guards outside her room.
I can’t even. I guess this makes the probable aunt-nephew fucking between Daenerys and Jon down the road slightly more palatable though. The other stuff is an overview of her chapters, so we’ll skip it.
It is revealed that they are meeting up with someone called Griff to go to Volantis where the rulers, called triarchs will provide soldiers and ships. Tyrion asks why a city that is so reliant on the slave trade would want to assist Dany. For that matter why would Ilyrio. Ilyrio says that it’s because Viserys promised him that he could be master of coin and take any castle. Tyrion is not very satisfied with this response. It still smells like bull. We also hear how Ilyrio and Varys became friends. Varys would spy on thiefs and take their loot. Ilyrio would then turn around and promise their victims that he would recover their losses for a fee. They both earned hella money this way. This is when Varys started his habit of getting orphaned children to do his spying for him. They started stealing secrets and this was when Mad King Aerys learned of Varys and hired him.
The next day Tyrion peeks out at the Valyrian road. He muses about the old Valyrian freehold reached to Dragonstone but never to the mainland of Westeros, despite there being plenty of mineral wealth and such there. I’m wondering if this has to do with the possibility of White Walker and wight infestations. The Valyrian roads are not bricks or cobbled stones, but one long fused stretch of stone raised about the ground to let ice and rain run off. No cracks or ruts are to be found, even centuries later. It’s some sort of magic. Tyrion inquires more about who Griff is. Ilyrio says he is a Westrosi born sellsword that he trusts with his life. He says the Golden Company, a sellsword company is headed to Volantis to join Dany. Tyrion asks how he got the Golden Company to break their contract with Myr, and Ilyrio cryptically says that some contracts are writ in ink, some in blood. See, the GC was founded a hundred years ago by Bittersteel, a bastard of Aegon the Unworthy, one of the Targaryen kings. His also bastard brother Daemon had tried to lead a rebellion to seize the throne, but failed. So Bittersteel and some other rebels fled to Essos to become sellswords. Ilyrio points out that the Blackfyre line is done and a dragon is still a dragon, so they want to fight for Dany despite the fact that they are rooted in being anti-Targ.
That night he thinks of Tysha before he goes to sleep. Because we needed an opportunity for his new catchphrase. Where do whores go?
Deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative deaths: 156
Maybe deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative maybe deaths: 13
Betrayals in this recap: 0
Cumulative betrayals: 43
Incest incidents: 1, The revelation that Viserys tried to rape Daenerys
Cumulative incests: 30
Books I am reading: A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons
Booze in my flagon: Leftover New Year’s champagne
Chapters: Tyrion I, Daenerys I, Brienne I
Tyrion is drunk. Like, all the time. He just pukes and drinks and drinks and pukes the whole voyage across the Narrow Sea. Life goals! He doesn’t know where he’s going. Jaime and Varys just stashed him on the ship and sent him away. The cabin boy who serves him won’t talk to him. He thinks about Lys and the brothels and wonders if that’s where whores go. Thus the most annoying catchphrase since Michelle Tanner’s “you got it, dude!” is born. You see, Tyrion asked a dying Tywin where his first wife Tysha was and Tywin’s answer was “wherever whores go.” Since Tyrion is going to be full of self pity for the foreseeable future, we’re gonna have to hear it a lot. I mean a lot. He thinks it a few more times.
The ship finally stops and the captain stuffs a struggling and pissing Tyrion into a wine cask. He’s stuck in there for half an hour. Then a big fat dude gets him out. He’s described as having a huge white belly and a pair of heavy breasts that sagged like sacks of suet covered with coarse yellow hair. And like a dead, rotting sea cow. Damn!
I feel like GRRM has some internalized fat phobia he needs to work out.
In case you haven’t figured it out, the rotting sea cow man is Illyrio Mopatis. Varys’ rich BFF. Illyrio takes him to his mansion and has him bathed and given a fancy bedroom. There’s a homoerotic statue of a naked teen boy poised to sword fight outside his window. Perhaps Bryan Singer lives here too? He figures out that he’s in Pentos and when Illyrio comes to his room to greet him, Tyrion asks where whores go.
Illyrio tells Tyrion there is no need for brothels because none of his servingwomen will refuse Tyrion. It’s heavily implied that they are slaves, even though slavery is outlawed in the Free Cities. He says this while stroking his beard prongs, because of course he does.
Tyrion wanders around the mansion and its grounds drinking and asking servants and even laundry drying on a line where whores go. Oh. My. God. I know Tyrion is popular, and I often like him too, but sometimes? Sometimes I feel like if he lived here and now, he’d be one of those guys who wonder feminist’s Twitter threads to whine about how men are being oppressed by women turning down men for dates. Fucking hell, dude. Get it together.
Anyway, he passes out on a garden bench and wakes up back in bed. A servant comes in to tell him that Illyrio is expecting him for dinner in an hour. Predictably, he asks where whores go. She asks him if he expects her to come visit him after dinner and when she’s visibly relieved that he says no, he’s done with women, he changes his mind, tells her to show up naked and makes threatening comments. He’s just straight up an MRA at this point.
There’s some more fat shaming at dinner, but there’s also lots of the patented GRRM food porn, so yeah, internalized fatphobia. There’s some mushrooms in garlic and butter that Illyrio makes him think are poisoned. They turned out not to be, but I guess they are enough to make Tyrion realize he wants to live so he can kill Jaime and Cersei. Illyrio gives him a Westrosi news roundup and finally gets to the point. Which is that he’s sending Tyrion to join the cause of a certain dragon. The name of this dragon is not mentioned, which is maybe a bit suspicious, huh?
Hey, speaking of dragons! Daenerys has started her rule in Meereen and things are not going smoothly. Barristan Selmy and Grey Worm bring her the corpse of a man. He has been killed by a pro-slaver group called Sons of the Harpy. I wonder if MAGAs are reading these books or watching GoT to root for them? The victim is an Unsullied named Stalwart Shield who had been visiting a brothel in order to get some cuddles because he’s a eunuch and that’s the only way he’ll get any love and affection. Dany has to hold back tears, and so do I.
Dany sends her Unsullied off to ask around and try to figure out who did this. Barristan notes that they will not be well suited to intelligence gathering, but there isn’t really anyone any better.
She goes out to the terrace and Viserion is there, napping. She notes that they’re growing larger and more wild.
Dany has her servants dress her in a tokar, which is kind of like an elaborate toga, so she can receive her subjects. She had wanted to ban this garment, as it’s the garment of the slavers, but her advisers convinced her to wear it in order to blend in. She thinks about how if her nephew Aegon had lived, she might have married him. Ew!
Two of her advisers, Reznak and Skahaz greet her. Skahaz shaved his head to symbolize that he was casting off the old ways. Like Robin Tunney in Empire Records. Or any other angsty movie teen who angstily cuts off all her hair. Lots of Skahaz’s buddies did the same and they are called Shavepates. He wants her to kill members of slaver houses every time the Sons of the Harpy kill someone. Reznak disagrees. She takes Reznak’s side and has him up the reward money.
The great hall is full of people. An Astapori lord name Ghael who has rotten brown teeth present her with some slippers from King Cleon. This is meant to entice her to marrying Cleon. It does not. Next the merchant Hizdahr comes to try and talk her into opening the fighting pits, which he now owns. This is the sixth visit he’s made. They would help the city’s economy, but she has a moral issue with poor folk being made to fight to the death. She turns him down. Another former slaver Grazdan, has come to try and get money from the weavers that used to be his slaves. The excuse being that they learned to weave under him, so he should get a profit from anything they sell. She orders him to give them a new loom.
Now I’m tired of summarizing this. Suffice to say, Meereen has turned into a real shitshow ever since she came along to disrupt their economy.
I know it seems like I’m hating on ADWD. I don’t hate it. A lot of it is great. But these early Dany and Tyrion chapters are quite a fucking slog.
Anyway, Dany has to pay money to people who have lost livestock to the dragons and the Meereenese kind of hate her now. Also, the last guy she receives presents her with the bones of a child that Drogon presumably ate.
Off topic but, I just started playing No Maker Made Me by IAMX and it matches perfectly with that dancing Batman gif. It’s almost hypnotic.
Back on topic, Brienne is searching for Sansa and so far it’s pretty futile. She’s stopped at Rosby, on the way to Duskendale. Nobody has seen anything. Brienne leaves town and rides past a campfire. The two hedge knights Ser Creighton and Illifer the Penniless mistake her for a man. She thinks about how all her life she is called freakish for being so big and tall. At first the knights are nice. They share their trout with her. But they observe her shield, it has the bats of the extinct house Lothston, formerly of Harrenhal on it. They work out from her size and cast off shield that she is the one accused of killing Renly. She denies that she killed him and thinks about how she’s been in love with him ever since she was an adolescent and he wasn’t all grossed out by her when visiting Tarth. The knights believe her and allow her to camp with them. She’s pretty relieved and happy when she wakes up and realizes that there are some decent men who don’t try to rape sleeping women. Relatable.
The knights invite themselves to travel with her. Along the way, they encounter a group of begging brothers and some followers. They are obnoxiously religious, call themselves sparrows and call the knights false for not wanting to escort them to King’s Landing for free.
Later on, they encounter yet another party. A merchant, some servants, and a hedge knight name Ser Shadrich. Shadrich is small and has a Napoleon complex so he makes fun of Brienne’s size, but she gives it right back to him. He says they call him the Mad Mouse because he likes to pick fights despite his puny size. He deduces that the blue eyed, auburn haired maid she is seeking is Sansa and announces his intentions to find her so he can collect ransom.
The party stops at an inn for the night. After everyone is asleep, Brienne ditches the party and rides off into the darkness.
Deaths in this recap: 1, Stalwart Shield
Cumulative deaths: 156
Maybe deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative maybe deaths: 13
Betrayals in this recap: 0
Cumulative betrayals: 43
Incest incidents: 1, Dany thinking about marrying her nephew
Cumulative incests: 29