A Feast for Crows part four! ~300-~400!

Stuff and things happening! There’s a kingsmoot in the Iron Islands! A new Hand in King’s Landing! Boat trips! I have to say, this is a pretty good segment all around. One thing I’ve been liking recently is the longer chapters. Four to five in a hundred page section is just great. Just going to jump right into it.

Samwell: So they’re on a boat (everybody look at them they’re sailing on a boat!), currently eastbound. This is going to be a very long boat trip if they have to basically circle the continent. I think it’s likely we’re going to see the trip bungled in some way – not reaching the destination, getting boarded, something.

There are some goofy moments, and there are some not so goofy moments. Sam can’t seem to grasp why Gilly’s so sad.

Sam thinks a bit about his family and how nice it will be to see his mother. Not so much his father, but maybe bringing a baby will make it better he figures.

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They’re hugging the coast, it’s raining, Gilly continues to be sad, and Aemon’s having a trip down memory lane the whole way. But Aemon, blind as he is, sees something Sam can’t.

Jon has made a decision, and it’s a gut punch. He swapped the babies, and if Stannis tries to feed Mance’s kid to Melisandre’s fire he’s going to be giving Gilly’s baby to the flames instead.

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There are no happy endings.

Jaime: We’ve got Tywin’s body leaving the city via the Gate of the Gods. He may not have been a god, but Jaime’s read of the symbolism misses that it seems Tywin is passing under the gods’ eyes and into their protection.

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Kevan doesn’t want any of Jaime’s sarcasm. Nor does he resist throwing grade A shade with nearly every line. I think Kevan’s becoming one of my favorite characters.

Oh Jaime, you should put more trust in your brother. And Kevan gets blunt with Jaime, taking Jaime a bit by surprise. When he gets a few words to Lancel, he’s rather put at ease by the kid’s show of piety.

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Again with the nipples on a breastplate. GRRM really enjoyed the 90s Batman films.

We get brief reflection on disability from Jaime, and we also get Cersei turned drunkard. Character development ahoy!

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And Lollys’s child is named Tyrion. What marvelously strange news.

More past recollections, this time of Aerys “Targ-aryen” (my book has the hyphen mid-paragraph – check the Bantam 2011 mass market paperback edition, page 330). Jaime up against marital rape, and unfortunately his duty to the king prevents him from doing his duty to protect the queen. A good story involving knights must always involve the morality of knighthood and sworn duty coming into conflict with the morality of common decency and other aspects of sworn duty.

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Cersei has an informant on Margaery, one who feeds Margaery choice information from Cersei. The arrangement seems to work for Cersei for now.

Back to the subject of the Hand. Who to replace Tywin? Cersei fancies herself a strong ruler, and as such wants a weak Hand. Jaime sees her as intemperate and lacking in judgment, for all her raw cunning, and in need of a strong Hand. Cersei’s more likely to win this one, though.

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And with a word Jaime resumes suspicion that Tyrion might be right after all. Excellently done.

Back to the white book, and a brief interlude with Loras. A bit of a history lesson for the younger knight, and the tantalizing name of Criston Kingmaker. What does Jaime have in mind?

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Cersei: Cersei’s justice at work to start the chapter. Anything to get Tyrion for her. Three heads so far, only one from a dwarf and none Tyrion’s. Good start to a killing spree.

Maggy the Frog’s prophecy again, and the younger more beautiful replacement. Is there more though? Something to tie it to Tyrion?

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So, has the Mountain finally died? It seems like it’s his head they’re talking about. Waiting for confirmation, but I’m going to call it for now.

Qyburn is now on the small council in place of Varys, to Pycelle’s vociferous objections. And we get the new Hand, Harys Swyft. Cersei thinks this will keep Kevan in line, since Kevan’s wife is Swyft’s daughter. Sure. Let’s see how that works out.

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Cersei surrounds herself with yes men to get the feeling that she’s a power player. Not a winning strategy, really.

The meeting begins with confirmation that the Mountain’s head is the head – it’s to be sent to Sunspear to help quell the unrest in Dorne. Balon Swann has another task, unsaid, but knowing Cersei’s lack of subtlety, it’s probably to kill Prince Doran.

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Passing to matters religious, we have a change in the state’s position on the red god, toward active opposition.

Aurane Waters looks too much like Rhaegar Targaryen. Cersei’s biggest problem seems to be with seeing the faces of enemies present and past around her.

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So the Crown will leave the Vale to its own affairs. Perhaps not the best move. Littlefinger is playing the game, and Cersei letting the Vale sort itself out is very much to Littlefinger’s advantage.

As they discuss naval affairs, it becomes readily apparent that Varys was far better at the information game than any of these idiots could hope to be. Varys would have known, Cersei thinks, and that says everything you could want to know about the future success of Cersei.

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Gyles seems incapable of even speaking in his capacity of Master of Coin, and Cersei decides to just say screw it to repayment of Robert’s debts to the church and Braavos. Ships need building. Robert left them financially boned without whatever illicit incomes Littlefinger provided.

Cersei’s answer to the Freys and the talk out in the streets about Lannister complicity in the Red Wedding is to wait and let the younger Freys sort it out by killing each other when Walder dies. Naturally. Weirdly enough, Cersei’s big strategy is often waiting and letting other people do it.

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The Golden Company has broken with Myr and is heading east and not to Westeros. To Dany then? Cersei doesn’t think it matters so much if they’re not going to Stannis. As far as Stannis is concerned, Cersei thinks he’ll be easily dealt with by taking Dragonstone and Storm’s End, leaving him up at the Wall with the wildlings.

Stannis has sent Davos to Wyman Manderly, apparently, seeking alliance. Manderly has put Davos in chains and wants to know what to do with him. Well, this could be what it seems. It could also be a nice little ploy to hide an alliance between the two from King’s Landing, to lure Cersei into a false sense of security.

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Also, Swyft comes across as a complete lackwit here.

Martin’s writing and voice are slipping, elsewise Cersei is losing her composure – within a line of each other she gives us “mine own household” and “my own children.” If you’re going to use that somewhat more old fashioned declension, you need to use it consistently.

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Qyburn devises a plan to send a hundred men to the Wall to remove Jon Snow from his office. Yeah, the Watch is going to be very, very politically involved this book forward.

As the meeting ends, Aurane Waters tries to bring up dragons, but Cersei has no interest in hearing.

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Here comes the likely cause of much unpleasantness for Cersei. She finds Osney and makes a proposition. She might be nice to him again if he goes and is nice to Margaery. Now, this right here sounds like a recipe for a backfire to me, since Jaime’s in charge of the Kingsguard. I get the feeling this will be a defining event in the divide between Jaime and Cersei.

Ah, Osney’s going to be her patsy to kill Jon. She wants him caught so he can kill Jon, and either die or be pardoned if he’s allowed to live. Good to see she thinks a little bit ahead. I still think something’s likely to go wrong with this plan once he’s there if not before he makes it to the Wall.

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Let’s see if Margaery’s got the wiles to outparry this fairly clumsy looking move.

The Iron Captain: Just going to bounce around the islanders, I guess. Time to hang with Victarion.

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Call back to Balon’s first declaration of himself as a king, then to the decision to head back to the islands to claim the throne. Also, the chanting at Balon’s coronation is very syntactically aligned with Old English and Old Norse. Balon King, rather than King Balon. Nice little touch.

A lengthy sequence to get Victarion ashore. Victarion and Aeron bond a bit in piety while casting disapproving gazes at Euron.

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So Victarion had killed his third wife. Seems like this will be important.

And Victarion spies Asha, who continues to be the coolest. Just cool and calm as can be, telling her uncle she’s glad he’s there for her queensmoot.

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We finally get to meet Euron, and he quips a bit about how he’s the godliest man alive. He’s been all over the world the last three years, terrorizing everyone. Would have been a little nice if we had any indication of this from the Dany chapters in prior books.

Asha gets all up in Euron’s grill, and Euron does not like this, asking his men each in turn who wants her while she verbally eviscerates them in turn.

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After Euron leaves, Asha and Victarion walk and talk. Asha wants to know what happened to Victarion’s last wife and why Euron went sailing for three years. I think she thinks Euron might have slighted Victarion by doing something funky with Victarion’s wife.

Ah, she wants to share rule with Victarion if she can. An alliance. Him as king and her as Hand, to end the war before they’re exterminated.

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He’s not into that idea, though. And when Asha confronts him with the knowledge that Victarion killed his wife after Euron had impregnated her, which Victarion’s POV confirms as true, he rebuffs her a final time. And Asha declares she has no plans for alliance any longer; she’s going for the chair in her own right.

The Drowned Man: Back to Aeron. Looks like we’re getting some extension to bring the kingsmoot on further. That’s good. It’s the main Iron Island plot right now, so it’ll probably take most of the book, but getting a good bit down now doesn’t hurt.

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We get some mythology, alluding to the kind of mythological golden ages where men were bigger and lived longer which are common to mythologies. It’s always about the decline of humanity and how we live in degraded times. Martin gets kind of explicit about it. He actually just straight up says “Men were smaller now. Their lives had grown short.” Earlier, this wouldn’t be stated so explicitly. It doesn’t need to be stated. It’s already covered by the bits of mythology he has given us.

So far, I feel like the action hasn’t actually suffered and I’m not offended by the much slowed pace. What I am beginning to notice, however, is just this sort of sloppy exposition that has begun to creep in more and more. It’s not for the better at all. Perhaps this existed in the earlier books and I just never noticed because I was too wrapped up in trying to orient myself. On the other hand, it could be that Martin’s gotten a bit sloppier as a writer and this is just the most noticeable point so far (beyond perhaps the overuse of idioms).

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After a night of praying, it’s time. Aeron seems very convinced by Victarion’s image that Victarion will be king. That’s going to mean he’s not getting chosen. Let’s go, Asha!

And now the claimants begin. The procedure seems simple enough. Speak your piece, give some goodies. Clearly the model of kingship is based on Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse tales of kings as ring-givers and dispensers of treasure. Not a bad way to go about this, really.

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First is Gylbert, some guy who will almost certainly not be king based purely on his name. He talks of a land to the west. Perhaps there be elves there. No matter, Gylbert has no chance.

Next is Erik Ironmaker, who calls himself Anvil-Breaker and the Just. Aeron thinks he could have won sixty years earlier, and his epithets seem good enough. He’s also not to have it. His gift giving gets interrupted by a woman telling him to stand up, and if he can, she’ll shout his name too. He can’t do it, though, and a man who may have made a good king sees his opportunity pass.

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The third claimant is Dunstan Drumm, who like Erik is old but not so old as to be feeble. He gives a speech about why someone from outside of Pyke ought to be king. And then he drones on about his family’s honor, which is honestly boring enough that Aeron’s POV glosses over it. His gifts are paltry, and his chance is gone.

Victarion’s turn, and he starts with a show of piety. He then gives a very short speech about how he doesn’t do speeches and how he’s going to be like Balon. The chests of plunder from the North are distributed, and he seems mighty popular. Up until Asha cuts in.

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Asha starts talking up her uncle, but it very quickly becomes mocking. Nobody counts to ten as quick as him, and getting to twenty just takes removing his boots. Yep, she went and did it. And then she starts laying into him. His claim’s not as good as Euron’s, and he’s got no heirs and his wives always die on him. And then she makes her case.

The best claim is for Balon’s sons, at which point someone quickly points out she’s not a son. Asha’s not slow-witted and immediately concedes that point, turning it around as a strength. She’s a mother to her dirk, and she immediately begins pointing out the woe her father brought to everyone and reminding them that Victarion promises more. She proposes learning from the continentals, particularly from Robb’s failure.

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Her chests are filled with pebbles and pinecones and turnips, the wealth of the North. Asha’s making a bold rhetorical point among these raiders. If she has her way, they can ally with the North against the Iron Throne. So crown her for peace, and victory. Crown her uncle for defeat and rocky vegetables.

Everybody gets riled up, split between support for Victarion and Asha. And then a horn sounds, and it sounds horrible. And it’s Euron’s. He promises what Victarion and Asha promise together – victory, with a kingdom and the North. And more – all of Westeros.

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And there’s the plan. He has a horn he claims can bind dragons to his will, and he knows just where to find some dragons. Out of everybody in the west, only Euron has heeded the reports of Danaerys Targaryen.

And the people shout for Euron, while Aeron hears naught of his drowned god.

Things of importance:
* Kingsmoot! Euron seems to be the winner. Good show by Asha, though.
* Euron’s horn will come into play down the line.
* Euron is the first person out west to be seen heeding the news of Danys dragons.
* Cersei’s plotting again. A way to get Margaery out and assassinate Jon Snow all at once.
* Gilly’s got Mance’s baby.

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Predictions pulled out of my ass:

* Whatever plans the Iron Islanders cook up will eventually lead to them finding Theon very badly flayed.
* Something Cersei’s planning is going to go belly up almost immediately. Right now, I peg fake Arya as that something.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Still Beric, unless he met his final death offscreen.