A Feast for Crows part five! ~400-~500!

The semester is over and with it my coursework. I am free! Sort of. I still have my comprehensive exams to prep for, but I am going to try to carve out some free reading time more often now and that will be good. Wheels are turning here in the middle of the book, so I’m interested to see what comes next. Honestly, things look dire all around.

Brienne: Well, with Pod around Brienne can benefit from his presence in terms of having a guard while she sleeps. So that’s nice. And Pod’s a good lad and catches Crabb trying to thieve from Brienne.

I like the short tale of Ser Galladon of Morne here. And unlike Bran, who loves stories but seems to miss out on the importance, Brienne takes the point of the tales to heart. She models herself after the honorable heroes of story, a sharp contrast to so many others. Her being a woman only accentuates the difference between her and other knights.

Ah, and the real point emerges from Crabb. It’s all about the fealty of the folks at Crackclaw Point. They bow only to their true king or queen – so there’s a small faction who’ll emerge if Dany ever comes west.

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When next they sleep, she dreams of Jaime in place of Renly. Toot your horns for the S.S. Lannistarth as it pulls out of the harbor, everybody.

Squishers. Okay, Crabb. Whatever you say. Once they reach the Dyre Den and start climbing, Pod spots a rider following. Wonder who that is. We’ll find out soon enough, I figure. On to the woods.

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Some days of wandering in the woods and Brienne’s mistrust of Crabb continues to grow. The perfect opportunity for treachery is at hand, if he wants it, and Brienne is extremely guarded now.

So, the Whispers does exist. And Brienne quickly susses out the geological nature of the whispering sound. And now I look forward to seeing who it is Crabb got here. Because it’s not Dontos, that’s for certain.

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And so as to better keep tabs on Crabb, she gives him a sword. That’s unexpected. And now we get to see her wield Oathkeeper.

And we have an ambush or sorts. And Shagwell quickly kills Crabb, who gave them the map. Shagwell’s surprise at seeing Brienne suggests that the plan was not to ambush Brienne, though, so there’s that at least.

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Shagwell has some info. Brienne’s bite really did it in for Hoat, who was then dismembered slowly by the Mountain. The rest of the Bloody Mummers are scattered. And Shagwell saw Arya and Sandor Clegane, giving Brienne new information. Only he doesn’t say it’s Arya.

As they’re talking, they start moving to try and prepare an attack, but Brienne notices. And her Valyrian blade went snicker-snack and Pyg’s life to the gods went back. Then she kills Timeon while Pod pelts Shaggy with rocks. Brienne makes him dig a grave with his bare hands so Crabb can be buried with dignity.

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So the man following was Hyle Hunt, sent to follow by Sam’s father.

And now Brienne’s off in search of the Hound. Getting colder, Brienne, but much more interesting for now.

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The Queenmaker: We’re back in Dorne, as established by the sixth word of the chapter so we can be quickly oriented, and it looks like we’re about to get Myrcella’s coronation coming. Why else name the perspective that of the Queenmaker? Let’s see who it is.

Arianne Martell is the first name given, and I’m assuming our perspective. Next page confirms it. Okay, cool. She’s Doran’s daughter, heir to the prince in power, and so very close to the power, but not the power herself – just as we’ve always gotten.

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We get some chat with her companions, and more interest in the Golden Company. Arianne thinks it’s Quentyn trying to get an army to depose her. I bet we’ll find out the reality in the next book, and I bet it’s all related to Dany.

So Quentyn’s off doing who knows what, and that’s interesting. It’s important stuff. From the sounds of it, I almost think Doran’s sent him off on some special mission under the guise of being fostered to Lord Yronwood. So, is Doran playing the game? Or does he just think he might be?

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Arianne’s going to crown Myrcella, and she wants her cousins free and her father out of the way. I like her already.

And we get Myrcella. And Arianne filling her with such dastardly notions as that older girls should perhaps inherit before younger boys. How vile! I love it.

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Arianne presents her companions, and now Arys Oakheart takes her aside. Myrcella, it appears, isn’t as idiotic as Joffrey or as timid as Tommen, but quick of wit and in Oakheart’s estimation very brave. So basically the ideal among the three children of Cersei Lannister. He also relates the news of Tywin Lannister’s death.

So Arys is very much in on the queenmaking, and oh you can see Lannister hegemony crumbling as even the Kingsguard splits loyalty between siblings. They’ve got stand-ins back at Sunspear so they can move Myrcella, crown her, and do what they’re going to do.

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Some Dornish mythology, and talk with Myrcella which reveals that she has done the switching places thing before. Arianne gets lovely turns of phrase now and again. I’m very fond of her saying that wit and Arys are strangers.

After some journeying, Garin gives notice to the poleboat to be respectful of their queen. And suddenly Areo Hotah gets out. Doran’s caught on. And Arys gives Hotah exactly the motivation needed to follow through on his desire to kill him by basically saying Hotah can have Myrcella/Arianne (he’s very vague, referring only to “her”) over his dead body.

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Everyone else yields, taking it as the wisest course. Arys charges, the gallant, witless fool. He’s pretty quickly punctured, taking down a couple spearmen with his sword before Hotah takes him apart with his axe.

No queen will be crowned today. But the important question is this: who told?

Arya: So Arya has to admit to her prayers out loud. Telling someone will mean big things for her character, I think. He of Many Faces is the kind of god I expected – the god behind the gods, the face covered by the masks the other gods are. And like Him, Arya has worn many faces as well. There’s a certain logic I appreciate in bringing Arya here.

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Freedom of movement so long as she remains within the temple and doesn’t go to the third cellar. Obviously there’s something about the cellar worth thinking about. So she has freedom to wander, but she gets questioned about her wanderings. Some freedom. And the kindly man knows her name and knows she lies.

This is interesting, because while Arya refuses to cop to who she is, she’s fighting hard to maintain her selfhood. And the man tells her that the Many-Faced God brings death and that very few of his servants are women, due to the fact that they can bring life. Nobody can do both, he says. I think a certain Kazumi Kato of Order of the Stick would beg to differ.

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But it’s time for Arya to move. Staying put isn’t her style. She sneaks out at night and starts to divest herself of her other identities. But Needle she can’t get rid of as easily as she can the things that belonged to Salty. Needle can be hidden, but not cast away.

And now we can learn some of the history of the Faceless men of Braavos. And Arya now will learn the Braavosi tongue, and also about being the giver of the gift of death. And we also learn a bit about some of the devotions to the Many-Faced God, including the poisons which have given the waif the appearance of youth.

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And so Arya’s first testing begins. She will be Cat the orphan of King’s Landing.

Alayne: That’s Sansa’s undercover name. Interesting. That her point of view chapters have changed names seems to be symbolic of greater changes within and surrounding Sansa. And “false friends and evil counsellors” the Lords Declarant are speaking of seems to indicate that things are about to get challenging for Littlefinger, though I have no doubt he’ll find a way to overcome.

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I like the narration of this chapter. We begin to see slippage between narrating as Alayne and narrating as Sansa-acting-as-Alayne, and that’s really well handled. The line about Petyr looking at her with Littlefinger’s eyes is particularly on point in this respect. Lord Robert continues to annoy, and Littlefinger continues to find him a burdensome load.

Alayne seems to fear what might happen if Yohn Royce finds her out as Sansa Stark. That could indeed be troublesome. Or it could be beneficial. I’m not sure where Royce really stands in all this. In any case, Littlefinger is teaching her a bit about the game. I doubt he’ll ever teach her to be a true player, though. Why create competition?

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He has a moment of recognition, but seems unable to place her, and Alayne tries to deflect, which draws the other Lords Declarant to the conversation, saving her from discovery for now.

I’m not sure I like the way Corbray smiles either. With Littlefinger there’s always some kind of trap. He opens after reading the declaration by trying to join in with them. This does not please. It was a long shot anyway. Lady Waynwood straight up sees through the effort to sow division among them.

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And here the debate over the right to rule really kicks in, and with it the threats of war within the Vale. Corbray even draws his sword, but the lesson of the Freys is too fresh for anyone to have that. Pity. Given his family’s leanings, it seems suspicious as well. If so, a clever way to cow the group.

And Littlefinger gets his way. A year in charge of the Vale and if he hasn’t made things work he’ll leave. What in the world is he going to do to maintain it? In any case, he did buy Corbray, and it looks like he’s setting things up so there will be minimal opposition by the end of that year.

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Things of importance:

* Brienne is now in search of Sandor.
* No Queen Myrcella yet.
* Arya is now a novice of the Many-Faced God.
* Littlefinger has just set his ascendancy in the Vale in motion.

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Predictions pulled out of my ass:

* The Golden Company will certainly be related to what Dany is doing.
* I make no predictions for Alayne, but I predict that the gulf between Lord Petyr Baelish’s public face and Littlefinger’s private demeanor will widen significantly in all the worst ways for Sansa Stark.

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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.
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.”

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Still Beric, unless he met his final death offscreen.