Our most inexhaustible source of magic
Our most inexhaustible source of magic

Let's Read A Song of Ice and Fire part XLIII

A Feast for Crows part nine! 800-~900!

The political situation on the continent is shifting quite a bit now, as things are really getting underway. I’ll save the jabber for the readthrough, though. The next one will see the end of the book.


Jaime: Time for the parley. It doesn’t look to be starting well – the Blackfish is not in a jocular mood, and since Jaime hasn’t brought Arya and Sansa he’s not earned any trust. And the Blackfish isn’t interested in any oaths or honor Jaime might swear by.

That one action has very thoroughly defined Jaime. And the Blackfish, when offered to take the black, seems to share Catelyn’s distrust for Jon Snow. Pity.


Jaime tries every appeal he can think of. He’s a skilled rhetor, that much is for sure, but he can’t get the Blackfish to yield. He points out that how Robb died doesn’t matter, but the direwolf banner above the castle says that the kingdom of the north is not dead.

This is going further and further downhill. Jaime proposes single combat, and the Blackfish laughs at him. As far as why Tully even came out to treat goes, sieges are boring. Can’t disagree.

Well, time for a war council to figure out how to pursue. Emmon still thinks hanging Edmure Tully is how you start. Lots of squabbling is all this council really amounts to. And the squabbling graduates to near threats when one of Robb’s former bannermen directly insults the Freys.

The council leads nowhere. Time to visit the gallows for a new tack. As he approaches, Jaime notes that Walder Rivers is more dangerous than his trueborn brothers.


Jaime gives the order to Payne to cut the rope. And he relieves Ryman Frey of his command, giving it to his less idiotic son Edwyn. So Jaime is going to have Lord Frey give up all prisoners left from the wedding. That’ll suit the Freys well, I’m sure.

Jaime’s going to feed Edmure, clean him up, and send him to the castle to deliver terms. Jaime offers favorable terms. He’s more apt to succeed here than with the Blackfish, that’s for certain.


He leaves the singer to play for Edmure while he eats. A song about rain.

Cersei: Looks like Pycelle’s time is up now that he’s failed to keep Gyles Rosby alive. And Cersei is seizing upon the opportunity to get any sort of dirt or conviction of Margaery she can get.


So Pycelle says Margaery desires moon tea. Birth control. Circumstantial evidence – not enough for Cersei’s purposes. She still needs Mace Tyrell on her side, and moon tea by itself isn’t enough to hang a charge of treason on.

Cersei keeps getting ahead of herself. Calling for music – she really expects to win at dinner. Now she’s ready to replace the Hand by making him treasurer and seating Orton Merryweather as the new Hand.


And with a swiftness she has the Blue Bard sent to Qyburn’s dungeons, accusing him of sleeping with Margaery. No amount of torture seems effective in producing the answer Cersei seeks. And she’s all too convinced of her correctness, all due to her paranoia.

A very strong reminder from Martin here that anyone subject to torture will say whatever they think will make the pain stop. And Qyburn is very skilled at inflicting pain, judging from the descriptions.


Even if Cersei is right that Margaery isn’t the one who casts her down, that just means Dany will do it. Unless Myrcella makes a surprise bid for the role.

Taena and Cersei conspire a bit. The Blue Bard’s testimony alone won’t suffice – Osney and the rest need to confess, and one of the cousins must be spared so Tommen can have a companion. Alla will do, and Qyburn can convince them all to tell Cersei’s truth.


Cersei says the Septa told her the word “valonqar” meant little brother. I’m going to guess she either interpreted the “little” into that herself due to implicit trust in Jaime or that there’s an error in the translation related to her.

The names Tommen gives his kittens! Ser Pounce and Lady Whiskers. This kid is truly an innocent in this world. He will not make it far, and that’s quite sad.


Cersei fills Osney’s empty head with the stories he needs to tell in order to implicate Margaery. Osney manages to weasel his way into bed with Cersei in exchange for this service. Good grief. I’m wondering how this will all fall apart – it can’t go as she’s planned it, can it?

The Princess in Her Tower: Back to Dorne. Arianne is imprisoned after the plot to crown Myrcella went awry. She was separated from her companions right away.


She weeps for Arys. I wonder when he’ll be replaced on the Kingsguard. I’ll have to look up the relative timeline for the book when I finish the next one.

Who told? From what Arianne’s narrating, it sounds like Myrcella is dead. But I’m not sure of that – ellipses and oblique descriptions don’t say much. Arianne can’t figure out who told, not right now anyway.


Nobody’s willing to talk to Arianne and give her information. But we do get enough through her worries. Darkstar slashed at Myrcella and hit her with his blade, but it’s unclear if Myrcella is alive or dead.

Death by silent treatment. No luck attracting the attention of her cousins, if they’re even in the tower. She finds a weakness in one of the servants, a girl a companion had slept with. She works her over until the girl consents to carry a letter.


No apparent luck there, though. The girl was asked to return the next morning, and never does. Arianne basically goes on a hunger strike until at long last her father commands an audience with her.

The silent punishment seems to have done what it was intended to do, to cow Arianne into contrition. Doran can tell us more. Myrcella is badly maimed – oh how Cersei will be pleased.


Doran seems more on top of the game than I would have expected. He’s trying to teach Arianne, even after what she did. Doran has been stalling Balon Swann’s approach so the news of Myrcella and Oakheart won’t reach King’s Landing. Arianne thinks of a simple lie to tell, but Doran is looking at a bigger picture.

That bigger picture includes who Arianne is supposed to marry. Doran’s been doing poor matchmaking for her on purpose, choosing only men she’d spurn. She’s promised to someone. Promised to Viserys Targaryen, but that ship has sailed. Another has as well – Quentyn’s gone to find Danaerys and bring her to Westeros.


So, let’s take a moment to think back to Viserys. He was supposed to be married to Arianne, and Dorne would presumably have helped him take back the Seven Kingdoms. Viserys, in his impatience (and possibly he did not know that this was the plan), completely threw that away with his plan to marry off his sister for an army and his idiocy and insults to the Dothraki.

Even if the marriage had happened and happened by the beginning of the first book, there’s no way that Viserys makes it back to Westeros and takes it back from Robert, Cersei, Tywin, and the rest with the help of Dorne before Ned Stark is killed. Viserys would almost certainly have arrived to a warring continent. Multiple fronts and multiple enemies make for unpredictability, and so Doran’s plan seems less likely to have worked well given what we know happens up in King’s Landing despite his scheming.


Doran is trying to play the game, and he’s far better at it than Cersei, but he’s got just one ace left up his sleeve. And he needs her to play her part perfectly. And that means he has to get her to play at all.

Alayne: I hate this tiny, sickly child. Sansa tries mightily to get him to acquiesce to go down to Sky, but he’s stubborn and annoying. Winter is at the mountain peaks, and the court of the Eyrie needs to move downhill to avoid being frozen out.


Little Robert Arryn may be an annoyance, but leaving him to freeze would only make things worse in the Eyrie, despite his utter uselessness. She finally convinces him, though.

I wonder if Maester Colemon is trying to poison Robert. He seemed to hesitate about the “vile” thing he put in Robert’s milk before quickly changing the subject. Poisoning Robert would make it possible to get rid of Littlefinger. And Alayne. So for the time being I think Robert’s continued life is in Sansa’s best interest.


Sansa is almost fully subsumed into the identity of Alayne. The narration here is even more strongly disassociated from the Sansa identity than before.

Colemon wants to avoid giving Robert too much sweetmilk. The side effects are unclear, but presumably bad. Alayne demands some to get him down the mountain and says to take it up with the Lord Protector if he wants to withhold.


So Myranda Royce is coming up as well. Littlefinger warned Alayne that she’s shrewd – might mean she has a chance of seeing through the disguise. Definitely an increased chance of being found out the more people she meets.

So Mya Stone is another of King Robert’s kids. They’re just all over the place. Myranda Royce is very ready to ask questions and try to get secrets, but Alayne resolves to give none up. Alayne is fourteen (better for Alayne to be older than Sansa). Which makes me think to look up how old Sansa was at the start of this story – eleven. So we’re only around two years since the first book. An eventful two years, that’s for sure.


Subsuming herself in this identity is going to leave Sansa a very changed girl, that’s for sure. She’s learning a lot of new and useful behaviors from having to occupy such a different identity.

So, we have some news. The Lord’s Declarant have dwindled in number, and we have an idea on some timeline stuff. Riverrun has yielded, but Dragonstone and Storm’s End are still for Stannis – meaning either Riverrun yielded before Dragonstone fell, or word from Dragonstone has been late in getting to the Vale.


And a little of Sansa shows in Alayne, as she blurts out Jon Snow’s name when the news from the Wall about the new Lord Commander of the Watch is related to her.

Myranda Royce starts to gossip about sex. I wonder how much of this is to probe at Alayne and see if she’s what she presents herself as. Probably all of it. They reach the narrowest part of the journey, and Alayne tells Robert she’s afraid but knows he’s not. She’s pretty good at buttering him up to better get him to go along.


Myranda invites Alayne to be her bedmaid once they make it down. But first Littlefinger is awake, has a meeting, and requests Alayne’s presence. Uh-oh.

Oswell has brought information to Littlefinger, and the times are very interesting to him. That’s not a good sign. Cersei’s doomed, he reckons, considering how fast she’s messing everything up. Littlefinger says something about three queens – Cersei, Margaery, and Dany, presumably.


The real news for Alayne, however, is a marriage contract. Oh dear. To Harry the Heir. And how he’s the heir is important. Littlefinger begins relating to her the line of succession to the Eyrie.

Cut out the fat and Jon Arryn had the Vale, and his only child is Robert. His younger brother died without issue, and his sister married a Waynwood and had many children, but the male line descending from her all died. Three daughters died, another became a septa, another joined the silent sisters after being disowned, one was barren, one was abducted by Burned men, and then there’s the youngest. She had a son – Harry the Heir – the one who will inherit the Eyrie when Robert dies.


And that’s why Littlefinger wants her to marry him – knock off Robert, marry Harry to his “daughter” and reveal her to be Sansa Stark, and suddenly the Vale and the kingdom of the north is back in this.

At least, that’s what he tells Sansa.

Things of importance:
* Cersei is about to make her move on Margaery.
* Riverrun has fallen.
* Sansa Stark, according to Littlefinger, will soon be married to the next heir to the Vale.
* Arianne was meant to marry Viserys, and her brother Quentyn is on a quest to bring back Danaerys.
* Cersei’s prophecies included her death, at the hands of the valonqar, which she thinks can only mean Tyrion.


Predictions pulled out of my ass:
* Littlefinger is obviously playing Sansa. To what end, I don’t know, but he’s going to hang her out to dry at some point.

Dany’s Threes:
Three heads: Three identities. Mother of dragons and child of storms are obvious – the third, though… I’ll have to go look things over again, but perhaps Azor Ahai is a possibility. Of course, this one’s most open and could have several meanings.
She thinks: Herself and two others to ride her dragons.
Three fires: life, death, love. There’s the obvious fire of Drogo’s funeral – the fire of life. The other two will come. No predictions as yet.
Three mounts: To bed, to dread, to love. Drogo was to love. Irri seems a good enough bedmate.
Three treasons: For blood, for gold, for love. All three seem to have been in motion or completed before the prophecy. Jorah seems to have betrayed her for love, love of home. For blood, I’m on board with Mirri Maz Duur now. Depending on what happens with Illyrio Mopatis, we might have a winner for gold.
She thinks: Mirri Maz Duur for blood. Jorah for love.


Azor Ahai: “When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.”

I’m going to have to go with Dany now, based on Aemon’s dreams.

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