Book I am Reading: A Feast for Crows
Booze in my Flagon: Pinot Grigot
Chapters: Arya I, Cersei II
Arya is approaching Braavos on The Titan’s Daughter. She had tried to get the ship’s captain to take her to the Wall so she could reunite with Jon, but the Titan’s Daughter is not an Uber, so no such luck. She consoles herself thinking that maybe because Syrio was from Braavos, it might not be so bad, and besides, who needs friends when she has Needle? Thinking of a weapon as your best friend? Healthy, normal attitude.
The ship’s crew calls her Salty because she came aboard at the Saltpans.
That’s a relatable nickname to me, sorry to say.
The ship approaches the Titan of Braavos statue. Arya remembers the Old Nan stories about how the Titan likes to eat highborn girls. Arya figures that Old Nan is dead, along with her whole family and is all, shrug “valar morgulis.” I know Arya is everyone’s favorite, and she’s one of my favorites too. But, damn. Girl’s got issues.
Arya ask’s the captain’s son Denyo if the Titan is the God of Braavos. Hey, that reminds me, we’re getting the Greekish mythology all mixed in with the British/Irish mythology again. Oh well. The captain’s son tells her that all gods are honored in Braavos. It’s a modern (by this universe’s standards) and progressive city that’s got the melting pot ethos.
Arya starts thinking about the Old Gods and how they’re dead along with her family. She thinks that Ned’s “the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives” line is wrong because the lone wolf (Arya) is alive when all her pack is slain and skinned. Again, issues. I feel like people brush this off a lot because Arya is also a badass. But it’s really sad that a young kid is like this.
Denyo mentions the Many-Faced God and it’s totally casual and not foreshadowing anything.
They finally go between the Titan’s legs (no comment) and the statue is huge. It’s straddling a mountain, has space in its face for soldiers to go and shoot arrows out of and it actually roars when they pass. Arya tries to convince herself that she’s not scared. They pass the Titan and get to the Arsenal. Braavos is a big naval power and can summon up a fleet to go to war in a day. Two ships have to clear the Titan’s Daughter to continue on. Braavos pretty much puts anything in Westeros to shame. They don’t even need walls because their Naval fleet is so tough.
The city itself is a series of islands connected by bridges. There’s no trees. The whole city is made of stone and very densely populated. They pass by a mass of temples dedicated to every conceivable god. Including a red temple of R’hllor that reminds her of Thoros and Lord Beric. She wonders if its priests have resurrection powers too.
Arya is unceremoniously dropped off at a temple with a half weirwood, half ebony door.
The doors have moon faces on them and Arya thinks that they’re watching her. Arya tries to get in, even yelling that Jaqen sent her. But nothing happens. The door is locked. Until she says “valar morghulis” and then the door opens. Because there are no horror movies in Westeros to teach her that entering might be a bad idea, Arya enters the temple.
The temple is dark and cavernous with lots of creepy statues. In the middle of the temple is a pool. She sees a man drink a cup of water from it. He gets gravely ill much instantly. She notices that there’s a whole bunch of old people similarly dying from the waters. A creepy girl sneaks up and grabs Arya. Arya asks if she knows the common tongue and a man sidles up and says “I do.” Lots of silders in the House of the Many-Faced God
The man is gentle and kind, but undeniably creepy. He denies knowing Jaqen H’ghar, which is a disappointment to Arya. She presents the iron coin. He asks her name and she gives him all the fake ones. He can tell when she’s lying and she finally gives him her real name. He tells her that the House of Black and White is no place for Arya of House Stark. She tells him she has nowhere else to go. He asks if she fears death and she tells him no. He lowers his hood to reveal a rotted corpse with maggots in the eyesockets. He asks her to give him a kiss.
Um… Stranger danger!
But Arya is not afraid. She kisses him and tries to eat the maggot. But it melts away and the skeleton turns into a kindly old man. He asks Arya if she’s hungry and she thinks “yes, but not for food.”
It’s chilly and raining in King’s Landing on the day of Tywin’s funeral. Tommen wants to ride to the Great Sept on horseback and throw pennies at the smallfolk, but Cersei doesn’t want him showing up all bedraggled. Cersei is annoyed at having to wear black because she doesn’t look that hot in it. In the litter, Tommen pulls the curtain back and comments that Lady Jocelyn Swyft says that the rain means the Gods are weeping for Tywin. Cersei tells him that that’s stupid and orders him to shut the curtains. He obeys and she’s troubled that he’s not a spoiled and defiant brat like Joffrey. She tells Tommen to sit up straight.
The procession doesn’t get that big an audience. Because Tywin was a big asshole and nobody liked him. There aren’t many mourners, but Cersei thinks more will turn up to the later services that are open to all. She’s annoyed by the funeral rituals. She wants to get right down to ruling over KL and securing the realm for
The new High Septon is super old and decrepit. He smiles at Cersei and she’s all paranoid and thinks it’s a threatening smile. Cersei still hates her mourning clothes and fantasizes about all the fierce fashions she’ll wear to celebrate Tyrion’s death. She sent word out that she’ll elevate anyone who brings her his head to lordship. So she thinks that even abroad is not far enough for him to run.
Speaking of fashion, Jaime is guarding Tywin’s corpse and she’s mad that he’s wearing his Kingsguard whites instead of gold and crimson of the Lannister. Yeah. White after Patricide Day. Total faux pas.
When Cersei and Tommen get to the body, Tommen gets all weepy. Of course, Cersei is mad about this. A kid crying over his grandfather’s murder. Totally not a dysfunctional family.
Speaking of fashion. Again. Tywin is all fancied up in some fabulous armor for his internment. However, his mouth is slightly turned up and this makes Cersei mad too. She blames Pycelle, thinking that he’s as useless as nipples on a breastplate. A phrase we’ll see a lot in the coming chapters. I think GRRM must like the word nipples.
Cersei remembers fondly how Tywin could scare people with his gaze and vows to give scary looks to people in his memory. Aww. How sweet. Then she thinks about how even though Tywin was great, she’s even greater and a thousand years from now he’ll only be remembered as Queen Cersei’s Sire. Aww?
Also, Tywin’s corpse is starting to really stink.
The funeral is starting to drag. Lancel is there, and he looks like shit. He’s too marry a Frey girl at some point. She thinks contemptuous thoughts about all the other highborn mourners too. Including of course, the Tyrells.
After the service, one of the people that approaches is Lady Falyse Stokeworth. She asks if Lolly can name the child that is on the way from that gang rape incident back in the King’s Landing riots Tywin if it’s a boy. Cersei smacks that idea down and now Falyse is on her bad side. That’s probably not going to be such a good thing for her.
When Cersei subjects herself to the horror of the Tyrells, she finds herself getting a girlcrush on the sultry Lady Taena Merryweather, who is originally from Myr and promised that she sent word to the Free Cities to bring back Tyrion’s head. She thinks that Taena smells like sin. Did I wander into an old Skinemax flick?
Guess not. Mace Tyrell lumbers up to hint around at wanting the Hand (of the king) Job. I’ll never stop laughing at the Hand Job joke. Anyway, Cersei is again mad. Mace’s uncle Garth the Gross – so named because he farts a lot, my kinda guy – wants to be the new Master of Coin now that Littlefinger is MIA. She feels that the Tyrells are trying to take over the realm. For once, she’s right.
Cersei tells him to fuck off because her perpetually coughing (lung cancer? TB?) ally Gyles Rosby will be Master of Coin. Olenna Tyrell comes up and makes snide remarks about how Tywin is stinking up the joint as bad as Garth would. Cersei thinks about how she’s going to have QOT killed.
When Cersei gets back to the Red Keep, Qyburn immediately wants an audience with her. The cell of Rugen, the Gaoler who it’s heavily implied was Varys in disguise had a coin hidden with the old sigil of house Gardener on it. The Gardeners were the ruling family of Highgarden before Aegon’s conquest. This increases Cersei’s paranoia. He also tells her that Gregor Clegane is still alive. Poisoned with manticore venom that was on the tip of Oberyn’s spear. Usually the venom kills right away, but the Mountain is dying slowly and Qyburn thinks there might be sorcery involved. Cersei wants to have him killed. Not for the mercy, but because his screams keep her and Tommen up at night. But Qyburn convinces her to let him take him to the dungeons to experiment on him. It turns out that this kind of thing is why the Citadel took away his Maester’s chain.
Later, Kevan Lannister meets with Cersei for dinner. Kevan is the only one who actually liked Tywin, so he’s pretty depressed. Too depressed to drink wine. Cersei can’t relate and neither can I. Shouldn’t grief make you want more wine, not less?
Cersei tries to get Kevan to take the Hand Job (hehe) but he will not. He suggest she give the Hand Job (teehee) to Mace instead to avoid making the Tyrells an enemy. But Kevan says he’ll only take the Hand Job (haha) if he can be regent and Cersei goes back to Casterly Rock and finds a new husband. You can imagine her reaction.
She throws her wine in his face. Party foul.
Kevan tells her she’d better not make a foe with him and hints that he knows that Tommen is really Jaime’s incest spawn. So. Everyone hates Cersei and she hates them.
Deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative deaths: 157
Maybe deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative maybe deaths: 13
Betrayals in this recap: 1. Kevan refusing a Hand Job and threatening Cersei.
Cumulative betrayals: 44
Incest incidents: 0
Cumulative incests: 30
Books I am reading: A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons
Booze in my flagon: Pinot Noir
Chapters: Samwell I, Jon II
Sam’s been hanging out in the dusty basement all addicted to reading about the Others/White Walkers. Hey, me too! Except it’s a cat hair filled bedroom instead of dusty basement. Sam sees a mouse and considers killing it with a big tome called Annals of the Black Centaur. Is it just me, or does that sound like a porn? Also, since when were centaurs among the mythical creatures of Westeros? I always thought the supernatural parts of ASOIAF were based on British and Irish mythology, not Greek. But, whatever. The book is really more of an exhaustive account of one of the Lord Commander’s bowel movements. So, a really fucked up porn, then?
Anyway, Sam drops the scat porn book and the mouse runs away.
Sam finally emerges from the basement cells where all the old books are and is uneasy to discover that it looks like it’s going to snow. Tell me about it. I still have PTSD from all the snow this winter, and there wasn’t even any White Walker apocalypse that went with it. He remembers the events of the Fist of First Men but feels comforted by the presence of Stannis and his men for some reason. Sam thinks about dragons flying to the Wall. Yeah, me too.
Sam’s dragon fantasy is interrupted by Dolorous Edd. He tells him that Jon wants to see him in the
principal’s Lord Commander’s office. Also, Pyp and Grenn join them to homoerotically bicker. Speaking of, Sam thinks about how the trials and tribulations of life in the Nightswatch have turned Grenn into a buff hottie. He’s like Chris Pratt, but without the creepy religious right stealth Trump supporting shit. After the gang try to cover their homoeroticism (is that a word?) by engaging in some locker room talk about Val, Sam finally heads over to see Jon. He runs into Gilly, who is super perturbed. He asks how the babies are, as she is wet nursing Dalla and Mance’s baby. She lets him know that Dalla’s son cries all the time but Gilly’s son is a silent block of nothing. This is totally not a relevant detail. Promise.
Sam walks into Jon’s solar and Mormont’s raven is perched on his shoulder. As soon as the raven sees Sam, it cries “Corn, corn!” Is this fucking raven being sponsored by the ethanol lobby or something? Thing is obsessed with corn. Sam hands the raven corn and it snatches it up so fast, he breaks skin. Sam almost faints because of this. Damn. My cat scratches me during play all the time. It’s not that big of a deal. Jon is out of fucks to give and tells him to wear thicker gloves next time.
The guys talk a bit of politics. They worry that Tywin will punish the NW for housing Stannis. They sent out ravens asking for various lords in the North to join Stannis that have been ignored. Except for the Karstarks, who have pledged for Stannis.
Sam asks Jon why Gilly was upset. He says it’s because she was pleading for Mance’s life on behalf of Val. To no avail because Stannis is determined to execute him for his attempted attack on the realm. There’s a rumor going around that Melisandre wants to burn him because a king’s blood can raise a dragon. Because what can go wrong with dragons?
The raven helpfully screams “blood!” Nope. Not ominous at all.
Jon tells Sam that he’s sending Gilly away. Sam pretends not to care and changes the subject to tell Jon that he’s not even the youngest Lord Commander, but the fifth youngest. Jon is still out of fucks to give and asks for more useful info. Something about the Others.
Sam keeps saying “annals” and that cracks me up because I possess the maturity of Beavis and Butthead. Unfortunately, there isn’t much there. The First Men didn’t write, they only had runes. so the books are mostly post Andal invasion. Long after the Long Night was beaten back. He did discover that the Children of the Forest used to give the NW a hundred dragonglass daggers per year. He also found that either the cold brings the Others, or the Others bring the cold. Which we already knew. There’s mention of ice spiders. Those were a no show in the show, but part of me hopes we’ll see those in the books. The books also suggest that they might be killed with Valyrian steel. Nothing about where they come from or what they want though. Sam wants more time to read up. But that’s when Jon drops the bomb on him that he’s to leave with Gilly. They are to go to Oldtown and bring Maester Aemon with them. Jon is concerned that Stannis and Melisandre will figure out that Aemon is a Targaryen and try to burn him.
Sam doesn’t want to go, even though he’s horny for Gilly and should welcome all that alone time with her. Jon is adamant though. Because he wants Sam to become a Maester and use his Maestering skills to aid them in the battle against the White Walkers. Presumably, Jon has seen too many 80’s training montages and thinks that Maester training is a lot faster and easier than it is.
Sam is freaked out and has a flashback to his father, Randyll chaining him by the neck and leaving him in the dungeon for three days to scare him out of wanting to wear a Maester’s chain. Wow. I hope the burning alive by Dany is book canon as well, because Randyll Tarly is a real abusive asshole.
Sam tries to whine and cry his way out of going. I’m not sure why. I’d want to be as far away from the Army of the Dead as possible. But Jon has changed since becoming LC. He’s no longer Sam’s BFF. He’s his boss. And he won’t hear any complaints. It’s an order. He also gives Sam a nice pep talk though. He orders himself not to call himself a craven anymore because he’s a badass who face White Walkers. Mormont’s raven says “Obey” and that pretty much seals the deal.
Early the next morning, they leave. Gilly is still extremely upset. She commands Jon not to name Dalla’s baby yet, as it’s bad luck. She also gets super mad when he calls her “lady.” Jon tells Sam he has more courage than he knows and tells him to pull up his hood. Awww.
This is kind of the same chapter as the last Sam one, but from Jon’s perspective. This is the only time that the books really do this, so it must be important, right? Or maybe, because they were taking place in two different books, GRRM was just trying to ground the readers in a timeline. I dunno.
I’m sure we’ll all be shocked to learn that Jon is emoing again. We pick up the story at the point in which Gilly has arrived to Jon’s solar. She’s all timid and cute. He tells Gilly that he something hard to tell her. Gilly pleads on Mance’s behalf, thinking this is what it’s about. Jon reminds her that Mance swore to protect the realm and violated that oath, therefore he is subject to execution. Imagine if in the real world, we killed all politicians who broke a promise.
Jon tells her that he’s actually talking about Mance and Dalla’s son, who is at risk of being burned for his king’s blood. Gilly begs mercy for the baby because he’s innocent. This is when Jon breaks it to her that she’s the only one can save him. By taking the baby away south. So, that’d be why Gilly is so upset. She has to leave her own baby behind and pretend that the other baby is hers.
Jon feels all bad and emoish about this, but keeps reminding himself that he has to be strong and Lord Commandery now. He is resolved. Jon assures her that Gilly’s baby will grow up nicely. You know, among rapists and thieves and under the threat of a zombie apocalypse.
Jon sends Gilly away and looks at Ghost, who is hanging out gnawing on a bone. Aww. Just like my dog.
Now Sam is there and it’s word for word the same dialogue as the previous chapter. Except Jon keeps fat shaming Sam in his mind. I really do think GRRM has some internalized fatphobia going on.
After Sam leaves, Jon thinks about the talk he had with Maester Aemon earlier. He gave Jon the same advice that he gave to his brother, (a previous) Aegon “Egg” Targaryen. That was to “kill the boy and let the man be born.” One of my favorite quotes from this story. It’s so poignant. In a lot of ways, you really do have to kill the child in you, force it away, to survive as an adult. And it’s sad, but necessary.
Oh, wait. That was a bit too serious for this blog, wasn’t it.
That’ll fix that.
Anyway, Jon makes his rounds about Castle Black and finds out that two of Stannis’ best men, allies of Melisandre, Ser Richard Horpe and Ser Justin Massey were spied riding south. They claimed it was a scouting mission, but because they’re high up in the ranks, that smells like bullshit to Jon. He suspects that they’re going out to try and find allies.
Jon has dreams that night. Not the usual wolf warging dreams. But a dream that he rips the heads of Gilly and Dalla and Mance’s babies and sews them on each other’s bodies. It’s a grim reminder of what happened to Robb and Grey Wind.
Jon wakes up to Edd looming over him. What an alarm clock. Actually, a sarcastic dude looming over might be preferable to the annoying beeping of my alarm. Jon thinks about his breakfast smells dull compared to the richer smells when he’s
warging dreaming. Jon goes out and has the same goodbye scene from the Sam chapter.
When they leave, Jon angsts about how there isn’t enough men in the Nightswatch to defeat the coming Long Night 2.0.
Jon meets with a NW man nicknamed Giant and tells him he’s to head up a new garrison on the previously abandoned Icemark. I can’t remember if this was mentioned before, but Jon’s plan is to man all the currently abandoned NW posts along the Wall. Icemark and Greyguard will be the first two to be manned. He intends to send Janos Slynt to Greyguard.
Later in the day, Slynt finally shows up as Jon had ordered. He’s all pissy about it. Jon is trying not to hate him, but can’t help but remember the time that Slynt was involved in Ned’s death.
However, Janos Slynt has no desire to rebuild and watch over a busted ass NW outpost and defies him. His meaty jowls quiver at the prospect. Yes, that’s what the book actually says. I’m not editorializing. He was the commander of the Goldcloaks, damnit! Slynt refuses and kicks a chair over on his way out. Because maturity and status.
Jon hopes that Slynt will come to his senses in the morning and obey in the morning. But he does not. He instead hangs out breakfasting with Alliser Thorne. Jon warns him that he’s going to count to three and this time Slynt had better obey his orders. Slynt tells him to stick the order “up your bastard’s arse.” Alliser Thorne smirks.
Jon orders Iron Emmett to go hang Janos Slynt. Slynt, as you may recall from ACOK is not as tough as he talks and is pretty scared shitless. As Emmett and Edd carry him away, Slynt rants about all his friends in King’s Landing and how Jon is the son of a traitor and is a bastard and blah, blah, blah.
They’re about to hang him when Jon thinks, this is wrong and tells him to stop. No. Jon did not decide that capital punishment should be abolished. Instead, he says “Edd, fetch me a block.” Like
uncle father, like nephew son. Jon passed the sentence, he will swing the sword. Unlike Robb and Theon’s beheading fails, Jon uses Longclaw and gets the head off the very first time.
Stannis was watching from the King’s Tower and gives a nod of approval. Because of course.
Deaths in this recap: 1, Janos Slynt. Good riddance.
Cumulative deaths: 157
Maybe deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative maybe deaths: 13
Betrayals in this recap: 0
Cumulative betrayals: 43
Incest incidents: 0
Cumulative incests: 30