A Dance with Dragons part two! ~100-~200

I think at the moment the things I’m most interested in before we rejoin the end of Feast are Dany’s dragons, what’s up with Melisandre, and Coldhands. Those are the plotlines I’m most interested in right now, anyway. We’ll see how that changes. Allons-y.

Jon: Jon is torn about signing the agreement, and will meet first with Gilly and then with Sam. I feel like Dolorous Edd and I would be able to be cordial, but never truly friends. Not with his attitude toward books.

He makes it Gilly’s choice to give up her son to save Mance’s and prevent whatever Melisandre has planned. Jon is becoming a hard man. Seems almost required to make it in Westeros. He pressures her pretty hard too, and I’m not sure I entirely believe him when he says he’ll make sure her son lives and is taught everything Jon says they’ll teach him.

We get Jon and Sam’s conversation again, this time from Jon’s point of view. Jon clearly wanted Sam to have a different opinion here, though to what effect is unclear. The rest of the conversation passes as it did in Feast, and it’s a welcome reminder of what we know. I half hope Jon will continue the research program with Sam gone, but I doubt that will happen.

Jon’s inner monologue is very interesting. He’s trying really hard to be as hard a man as possible. Perhaps he recognizes it as the only way he’ll be able to stand up to Stannis. Perhaps he’s trying to emulate his father (in which case he neglects to remember that Ned was not hard all the time).

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Aemon’s last words to Jon seem to be part of the trigger. Kill the boy within you and let the man be born. It’s a particularly violent way of thinking about growing up, and one which feels all to appropriate for Westerosi society.

Stannis seems to have sent two knights south for some reason. I wonder if Jon has considered that there are other candidates aside from Mance’s child and Aemon who could feed the fire. Stannis doesn’t seem like he wouldn’t consider his daughter if it were the only way.

Jon’s dream seems to speak to the nature of how he is killing the boy within. It doesn’t seem to sit well with him.

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He calls for Bedwyck and Janos Slynt to meet with him at first light before giving a goodbye to Aemon, Sam, and Gilly. Aemon has left a book for Jon to look at, with a particular passage marked. I’m interested in knowing what that’s about.

Bedwyck, also called Giant, is given charge of garrisoning Icemark. Giant is uncertain that this will work, but Jon means to eventually garrison all the forts. As much to prevent Stannis from taking them as for the protection of the realm, I think.

Janos Slynt will be the garrison at Greyguard. It might get Slynt out of the way, but I see it bringing trouble all the same.

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Janos is quite late in meeting Jon as commanded. A bad look. Jon tells him he has command of Greyguard and thirty men, and Janos refuses. He storms out, and a day later still hasn’t left. Stupid idiot.

Janos makes quite a scene in the mess hall when Jon gives him a final chance. A hanging has been ordered, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow.

Jon tells them to stop and bring Janos here once they get outside. Honestly, I’m hoping he just gags Slynt. Too much talking for a guy about to be hanged. Or, turns out Jon’s learned from his father about doing it yourself. He’ll be the headsman. Still think a gag is in order.

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I think Jon’s proved himself to Stannis.

Tyrion: Well, we open with what’s always fun about a Tyrion chapter: great banter. Tyrion is given an absurd alias, Yollo (You only live, like, once) and then we get into a bit of a back and forth about trivia. One which includes a typo in the book. Page 125 of the 2013 mass market edition gives us two spellings of Grand Maester Munkun’s name: Munkun and this one: “Rhaenyra’s she-dragon, which makes more sense than Munken’s version.” Always interesting to spot an error.

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Well, we’ve left Illyrio behind now, and no longer will we be getting any more direct information on the cheesemonger’s plans. We hear a bit about the pirates of Dagger Lake. I imagine we might meet some of them eventually. The Shrouded Lord sounds interesting.

Stories are told and the ride is good, which only causes Tyrion to reminisce. And from there to recall how bad a father Tywin was. This series could be renamed A Song of Bad Fathers.

They make it to the Ghoyan Drohe, where the poleboat awaiting them is to be found. Griff seems like trouble to Tyrion. I have a feeling he won’t like Illyrio’s letter.

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Griff seems hardly able to believe what he read, what Tyrion says after, or the idea that Dany might want anything to do with him. Tyrion gets under Griff’s skin by calling him ser and lord. I wonder if Griff is someone we’ve perhaps met before, using an alias.

Davos: Davos is back! This is good. I like him. And by reminding myself that I like him, I remind myself of the reports of his death from the last book. Gonna do a quick look back to refamiliarize myself with where we left off with him in Storm.

Okay. So there was a letter from the North and he had smuggled Edric out to safety. Got it. Also trying to figure out how to foil Melisandre’s precognition.

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Our Onion Hand is meeting someone mysterious. Godric Borrell, lord of Sweetsister. Time to consult the map for the Sisters. Ah. Not terribly far, in the big picture, from both White Harbor and the Eyrie. Hmm… Davos will die (unless the reports are wrong) and he’s near enough to the North. I’m fairly confident for now it will happen at the hands of former Stark bannermen. Only important ones I can think of to fit the bill would be Boltons. The Dreadfort’s a bit away, but who knows.

So we start getting some of the in-between filled in for us. Davos left the Wall with a fleet, and many of the ships were lost in storms. And Davos is not diplomatic enough to keep Salladhor Saan on board with following Stannis. Pirate lords need coin to keep their interest. 

Time for news of Lysa Arryn’s death to reach Davos. This doesn’t help us too much with time frame, but it does let us know news has traveled out. More information to Davos, this time about Tyrion’s (exaggerated) final hours in King’s Landing.

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What’s this mark of the Borrells? I’m intrigued. Anyway, looks like the Freys are moving for an alliance with White Harbor, and that lets the wind out of Davos’s sails. If the Manderlys and Freys join up, that’s it for Stannis as he reckons it.

In the end, we have a story about how Ned Stark visited during the rebellion. And another story about Jon Snow’s birth. It seems to me that Jon was born in a lot of places, the way people talk.

Jon: Speak of the devil. Oh look, it’s Mance. Mance is about to die, isn’t he? Melissandre is talking about the Horn of Joramun. Let me guess, she’s going to incinerate it. When every problem looks like kindling, I guess.

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Yup, she lights the horn on fire. Still not sure that’s the real thing. Mance could have been bluffing. But now he burns, like so many others. Good thing Jon’s dreams aren’t prophetic at least – we know Sam and Gilly made it to Oldtown. Jon gives the order, and they put arrows into Mance before the flames can get to him. Stannis is not happy about that.

Well, Lightbringer is actually starting to look impressive. So that’s kind of neat, I guess. And so the Gift will be settled, with a sacrifice of the wood of the old gods to the new Lord of Light. Pretty powerful image, that. The kneeling is important, too. Stannis has no mind for some aspects of politics – like inspiring fealty. With a bunch of people who despise the idea of kneeling to lords, he makes them kneel, because he just doesn’t care if they hate him. And as long as Melissandre’s protecting him, he’s somewhat justified in that view. Of course, her continued presence prevents him from ever growing as a character, so it’ll be very interesting when she dies.

Bowen Marsh is a good steward. His counsel to Jon is very pragmatic. Jon has some good reasons behind his thinking as well – the ability to send rangers out is important, but how important is it if the rangers are likely to all die?

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Command is certainly not helpful to Jon’s social life. He recalls some of Ned’s words on mixing friendship with lordship. The short version is not to do so. Good to see Ned’s memory continuing to drive the story. Jon does some walking and reflecting, and pushing away from the wolf. He should really try to work on that ability some more, though. It’s useful.

So Jon’s read some of the Jade Compendium, and it includes some information on Azor Ahai. Note that Lightbringer is supposed to always be warm, and Stannis’s sword is cold. And Jon writes orders to send his friends to Eastwatch and the Shadow Tower.

Daenerys: Dany’s having some hot and heavy dreams about Daario, and something’s wrong with the Unsullied. Wonder what they bring for news. 

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Nine dead by the Sons of the Harpy, including Missandei’s brother. Dany’s rulings on the matter are swift and sure. The people of Meereen are to keep their own peace, she’s confiscating the gold from the pyramids of the Great Masters, and she’s instituting Westerosi hostage customs on them as well. It sure looks like colonialism in action. It’s also sure to go very poorly.

Dany comforts Missandei, and then ruminates on Daario, beginning to wonder if he has betrayed her. I’d be more worried about the dragons. Seriously, last chapter we finished with dragons eating children. Where’s that picking up?

Ooh, Quaithe is here (or not here), and she brings a warning: “Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.”

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So much to pull apart from that. Kraken and lion seem obvious as Euron and Tyrion. The sun’s son could be Stannis. Griffin, dark flame, pale mare, and the mummer’s dragon are less clear to me right now. One is probably Quentyn? She’s also to remember her time at the house of the Undying Ones and beware a certain perfumed seneschal – pretty sure that’s going to be Illyrio. He’s heavily perfumed the very first time we meet him.

Dany thinks it’s Reznak, and before she can finish her explanation of the three treasons, Missandei catches her talking seemingly to herself.

The next day Dany holds court, suspicious of Reznak and again bored with Hizdahr zo Loraq’s talk of the fighting pits. This time some of the fighters lend their voices to the matter, and Dany says she will consider the idea.

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Dany asks Barristan about how he escaped Joffrey. This seems worth learning. His escape is very interesting, and he was there when Ned died. And he’s determined to note to Dany that Ned bore her no ill will. Dany’s not having that.

She asks to see the pit, and now we catch up on the dragon plot. Her dragons are presently confined. Well, two of them. Drogon is still out there somewhere.

And here we see how weak Dany’s position really is. Her dragons are well beyond her control, and she’s bribing the man who lost his daughter to keep quiet. She’s a paper queen, and she’s surrounded by flame. At least she’s accepting her monstrosity.

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Reek: We last saw him in Clash, betraying Theon. I think we’re going to finally find out what’s become of Theon, and it’s probably not going to be pretty. His decisions, coming back to bite him hard in the ass.

This opening scene is bleak. Barely surviving on rats. If this isn’t a flashback, though, I’m curious. Reek’s been free for over two books here, so why would he be in this situation? The “tell me your name” bit and the boys suggest to me we could be dealing with the Frey boys. Is this Reek a different Reek? Perhaps even Theon? Nothing makes sense if this is the original Reek, so that’s my guess so far.

Well, both boys are Walders. I think it’s Theon, pretty much confirmed. He’s weakened – lost a lot of teeth, lost some fingers. Original Reek is taking his pleasure in grinding Theon to dust. And as the memories begin to come, it can only be Theon.

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Original Reek’s been playing games with him, even – Ramsay lays traps to give a new excuse to torture Theon. Well, Theon’s pretty well half mad even as he tries to keep his wits about him in the dungeons of the Dreadfort.

He’s paraded through the main hall so the visiting lords (who are they, I wonder) can see what Ramsay Bolton has made of Theon Greyjoy. And what he will do to Theon now that Theon has told him he ate a rat. Three fingers and four toes gone already. 

Ah, Ramsay’s excited about marrying (false) Arya. That’s why this news is worth bringing him out for. Of course, if Theon still has his wits enough, he might see through the disguise and realize she’s not the genuine article.

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Ramsay wants Theon cleaned and to ride to war with him to help claim his bride. This is going to go horrible.

Bran: Coldhands can tell the Others are close, it seems. Also the wolves are still following.

So there’s a cleft in the rock, a thousand yards or so from their cave, and that’s where Coldhands wants them to go. Jojen’s too weak to walk on his own at this point, too. I believe this is called setting tension.

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So even Coldhands’s elk has succumbed and gave them life again with its meat. So, easy to say that this is the bleakest point for Bran so far.

They climb toward the rock, and Summer’s the first to sense something dangerous very close to the cleft. A wight reaches a hand out of the snow and grabs Hodor, causing the big man to fall down hard. Bran tumbles out of his basket as Hodor and the wight fight, and more wights rise from the snow.

Bran heroically starts crawling his way toward safety, and suddenly a scream from Hodor causes Bran to warg into him. And more support for the Broca’s aphasia theory – even with Bran in control of Hodor’s body, Hodor can still only say hodor. He even sees a girl with a torch and thinks it’s Arya for a second. I’m curious about this.

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The snow falls off a wight and covers Bran, and we pick up in the warded cave. And the Arya-thing is there. The Arya thing is a child of the forest. An honest to goodness one. Cool. Pieces are beginning to fall into place. They call themselves those who sing the song of the earth. I’ll just call them the singers of earthsong.

So this is as far as Coldhands goes – he cannot follow. Down, down into the earth, and at last the three-eyed crow is met. Bran will never walk again, but he will fly.

Things of importance:
* Janos Slynt is dead, which cuts the head off that plan by Cersei.
* The Pirates of Dagger Lake sound potentially consequential
* Mance Rayder is dead, and the horn he brought is destroyed.
* Theon is pretty broken.
* Quaithe has warned Dany, and Drogon is still out wild.
* Bran has found the children of the forest and the three-eyed crow.

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Predictions pulled out of my ass:
* Illyrio is the seneschal Dany’s to be wary of.
* Theon is not going to try to escape, but he will recognize Ramsay’s Arya as not the real deal. He may try to escape with her help after that.
* This book already feels like it’s going to be the grimmest of all.
* The old dude Bran found is wearing some black. He might be related to the watch, same as Coldhands – who I’m going to call now as probably Benjen Stark.

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. I’m calling Illyrio Mopatis the treason 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.”

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

Quaithe’s Warning: “Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.”

Kraken is Euron, Lion is Tyrion, Sun’s son is going to be a follower of R’hllor. Pale mare is uncertain – a Dothraki woman we haven’t seen yet? Griffin, dark flame, and mummer’s dragon are uncertain. Illyrio is the perfumed seneschal.