A Feast for Crows part seven! ~600-~700!

So things are happening again, but they don’t seem to be good things. I feel like Cersei is self-destructing even if she doesn’t know it. Meanwhile she thinks she’s outmaneuvering the Tyrells, but I wouldn’t be so sure of that. And Qyburn is doing something monstrous.

I also had a thought, before we get to the end of this book, about whose points of view we might see in the next book. Since the two overlap in timeline, we’re coming to the current end of many of these characters’ stories until The Winds of Winter comes out. I’m imagining the following for major points of view in A Dance with Dragons: Tyrion, Bran, Davos Seaworth, Jon Snow, Dany, Osha (to get us word on Rickon?). Theon or fake Arya could get us to some idea what’s going on in the north. Maybe some minor points of view in Lady Stoneheart’s group and Dondarrion’s group. Maybe Jorah the Explorah.

I guess when you have this many principal characters it’s hard to fit everything – the story has only swollen in scope as a result of the war – hence the split of the one story into two between two books. A Feast for Crows by its title and content so far is very clearly about the rotting corpse that is Westeros after the war has stalled. A Dance with Dragons seems likely to focus outside Westeros, to north of the Wall, to Essos, and to those who while within Westeros are outside its laws (often by being officially dead or escaping the reach of the Iron Throne). That’s my hunch anyway.

The Reaver: Victarion Greyjoy. Doing some reaving. This chapter might be a bit of a yawn. The reaving’s not the interesting thing, really.

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Battle won, and the young Serry has disappeared after being thrown overboard. He might come back later on, though, but he could easily be drowned too.

Victarion grows ever angrier with Euron. Consulting the map, it looks like they’re quite a ways south. The Mander leads to Highgarden, but if followed to its source it leads almost all the way to King’s Landing. I wonder what the ultimate goal is here.

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So it seems Euron has three wizards captured to his service. Meanwhile, Aeron and Victarion are each thinking how best to eliminate Euron. Aeron is trying to turn the common folk of the Iron Islands against Euron, while Victarion hems and haws about finding a catspaw.

So Asha’s fled and managed to escape her uncle’s wrath. Good. Victarion thinks the smart move for her is to marry a northern lord and settle on land. Not so. Asha Better-than-Theon Greyjoy will not be so easily disposed of, Victarion.

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And Euron has instituted slavery where once there was mere thralldom (which, to be fair, is a form of slavery even if Victarion doesn’t consider it such). It would seem the crucial difference in Westeros is such that slavery is similar to U.S. and Caribbean-style slavery, while thralldom is akin to indentured servitude.

Lots of feasting, which fits the whole inspiration they have behind them. Euron’s very, very skilled at humiliation. I’ll give him that. His choice of whom to elevate to lordship is very cunning.

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So the plan isn’t to head up the river, but to go get the dragons. But the Ironborn aren’t keen on that. They want to go up the river, not become slavers or head on such a long and perilous journey.

We last have a conversation between Victarion and Euron. Euron proposes sending his brother’s Iron Fleet, rather than the whole fleet. Euron means to take a wife – Dany. And her dragons. Victarion means to have her for himself.

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Jaime: Welcome to Darry, and a chance to quick catch up with Lancel’s story. And Jaime seems to have leafed through the earlier books and decided to continue where Dany left off as the stopper of many rapes. Good man, Jaime.

So Kevan left after Lancel’s wedding. But Lancel is here. Lots of Freys and sparrows around, though. I think Jaime might have a touch of worry about the Freys given what they’ve proven capable of before. So Lancel’s found piety, and he’s taken to sleeping in the sept rather than in his own chambers. Interesting.

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Jaime gives Peck some advice to be kind with Pia, but it’s worth noting that before this he reflects on a bath with Brienne. More and more Jaime and Brienne keep entwining themselves, despite the distance between them.

Lancel’s fasting even. And Jaime’s here deliberately off course, but for what reason? Perhaps to try and convince Lancel and Kevan to do something about Cersei? Or to confirm his suspicions about Lancel and Cersei?

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Lady Mariya is good to remind us: hang is a weak verb when applied to people, a strong verb when applied to objects. A tapestry gets hung. A man gets hanged.

In the absence of Lancel, Jaime pumps Lady Mariya for information. There’s some talk about the wild wolves, and he asks if the outlaws who killed her husband were Dondarrion’s. Not his, it would seem, but Lady Stoneheart’s. Catelyn’s. Revenge on all related to the Freys from this revenant, it would seem.

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Jaime imparts some wisdom about winning the smallfolk to your side in order to get them to help. He’s a much better politician than anyone else has been in this story, despite not being eligible to have any official capacity to do so.

More about the Hound at Saltpans. Apparently everything there is gone but the castle, as he torched the place. The crimes are too much to say over dinner, but we’ve heard bits and pieces. He’s known by the helmet – but I wonder about that. Anyone could wear the helmet, and Jaime rightly points out that it sounds more like Gregor’s than Sandor’s work.

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Time to find Lancel the Pious. The Poor Fellows give Jaime some trouble at the door to the sept. Hmm. I wonder how soon they’ll be giving everyone trouble? Lancel gives permission for Jaime to enter, though.

So Kevan’s gone after a quarrel with Lancel. Lancel’s fasting and receiving visions – Jaime figures hallucinations. And in one of his visions Jaime comes and kills him for what he’s done. Or rather, whom he’s done.

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Lancel admits, albeit obliquely, to killing Robert Baratheon. And then, when Jaime notices the hair shirt and asks what else he’s done, he admits about Cersei. And Jaime is pissed.

Here’s where Lancel is going with all this. He plans to renounce his title and wife and join the Warrior’s Sons. And now Jaime knows about the revival of the church military orders.

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During sparring Jaime makes a sort of confession of his own, to the only one who can never speak his sin.

Brienne: Arrival at Saltpans is imminent, and we’re going to see for ourselves what’s happened. They’ve got to walk the path of faith to the septry on Quiet Isle, though, and the path reminds me of the puzzle in some Ghost-type gyms in Pokémon.

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So a night’s layover at Quiet Isle. A grave is being dug for a brother who died of injuries incurred in Saltpans, when non-Hound outlaws attacked and cut out his tongue.

The Elder Brother there can speak freely, so we can get a lot of information from him. Everything in Saltpans was burned to the ground except the stone castle. Rape, cannibalism, Ser Quincy Cox barring the gates of the castle and leaving the cityfolk to die. Brienne registers proper disgust at that last.

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Pod’s grown really attached to ser – er, his lady. That’s kind of adorable. We do learn, though, that the raiders were after passage across the narrow sea. Sounds less like the Hound to me, considering Arya left him under a tree. Unless he managed to get a number of men onto his side.

The Elder Brother recognizes whom Brienne is after. And he knows that it was actually Arya with the Hound. A wrinkle. And the Hound is dead – the Elder Brother buried him himself. So someone is running around wearing his helmet. A moment of silence for Sandor Clegane, whose horse mourns his loss.

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The Elder Brother was once a knight and he is repentant for his time as one. He’s trying to sway Brienne from her quest, out of a desire to see her soul safeguarded and her family kept whole. But Brienne notes that her family isn’t whole – her father wanted daughters and a son, and all died but Brienne, who considers herself unsuited to either office. Notice, when Brienne pours her heart out to the Elder Brother, how much Jaime comes up toward the end.

Cersei: Before I start the chapter, I have to say this. Cersei’s authorization through Tommen of the church military orders, her absolute dismissal of everyone else as beneath her, Jaime’s receipt of confirmation that Tyrion was not lying, and the focus on her in this book (no official count, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she has the most chapters so far) all spell her downfall to me.

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Looks like word of the Iron Fleet has reached King’s Landing. It’s definitely made Margaery upset to have them so close to Highgarden. And she, unlike Pycelle, recognizes the import of their numbers – this is not a harrying fleet, but something much worse.

Naturally, Cersei finds a way to assign incompetence to the Tyrells. This tendency of hers will bite her in the ass soon enough, I think. She’ll be caught very much by surprise when she learns that other people can be competent, and some more than her. She clearly shows she’s not paying attention when she suggests that Theon offered Stannis an alliance (unless by this point in the next book we get word that Theon’s up and active, this seems to indicate Cersei paying no real mind rather than any serious suggestion.

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And the fawning over Cersei’s idiocy continues. So Wyman Manderly had Davos killed, according to the Freys. The Boltons are rallying the North to them. Oh dear. Cersei and Margaery are really about to break over this – Cersei’s imagined plot from Stannis means she won’t waver and commit the strength of Hightower to defend the Reach, while Margaery can see no better way.

It’s clear, though, that Cersei’s barely paying attention to a purpose. She concocted this idea of a plot to give an excuse to avoid sending the strength of Hightower to the defense of the Reach, all so the Iron Fleet can utterly decimate the entire area and leave the Tyrells weakened and broken. It’s almost smart, except Margaery and Loras are probably smart enough to figure it out.

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And Loras volunteers to take Dragonstone himself so the siege can be broken and the Reach protected. So much for him being smart enough. Bold enough, certainly, but hardly smart.

Pycelle will soon be less than useless in Cersei’s eyes, even though he makes clear sense in his cautions. The worrisome thing is Qyburn. So in the previous update I wanted to say something about him but set it aside. Didn’t seem important enough to say yet. Well, it’s time to say.

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The vibes I’m getting from Qyburn are bad juju. I’m talking a mix of Josef Mengele and Viktor Frankenstein levels. I’ve been uncertain what he needed more people in the dungeon cells for, but I have a feeling I know what it is or near enough. He’s doing some kind of necromancy or other with the Mountain’s body and with whomever else he has obtained permission to mutilate. He’s building some kind of golem or revenant, I’d guess (which keeps well with the whole medieval thing). His promises of a perfect and loyal defender to replace Loras whom no living man can match all points that way to me.

And that’s all but confirmed by the bit about the armor. Good grief. The least I can say is that at least the Mountain will be less prone to rape than he was before.

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Cersei’s tongue flaps when she returns to bed and Lady Taena inquires where she had gone. Taena may not let slip to Margaery – she may be very true to her word on that, but I’d hesitate to trust my schemes in full to any other if I were Cersei. Meanwhile, Taena’s willingness to serve sounds an awful lot like she’s indicating her lust for Cersei to me. Cersei’s certainly curious, in any case.

I feel pity for Cersei, given what she relates of the spousal rapes Robert subjected her to. I am not sure she’d be terribly different as a person if she had married Rhaegar, though. Given what we’ve learned of how she treated Tyrion as a child, she seems to have always had a cruel streak.

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Lady Stokeworth begs audience in the middle of the night. Cersei supposes Bronn must be dead, but that seems less than likely to me. Seems more like the beginning of Cersei’s unraveling is at hand.

So Bronn killed Lord Stokeworth, because the idiot challenged him to single combat. I’m beginning to wonder if Cersei might be right that her problem is being surrounded by incompetents rather than any fault in her own plans. How does arranging an accident result in single combat with a lance?

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Falyse won’t say it, but it seems Cersei’s name did get dragged into it, based on the implications of what she does say. Cersei’s unraveling has begun. She fetches Qyburn immediately after inviting the Lady Stokeworth to share her bed – that can’t be good. She’ll be dead or worse before morning. It’s this kind of thing that keeps me from feeling pity for Cersei for longer than it takes to write a paragraph.

And Cersei makes to claim her rights, just as she hated Robert for doing. It’s just the wine. But whatever Cersei is, she’s not Robert and she could not get anything out of it for herself.

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Things of importance:
* Bronn has killed the former Lord Stokeworth.
* Qyburn and his order for an absurdly large suit of armor.
* Loras is going to attack Dragonstone
* The Shields have been taken by the Iron Fleet prompting the above action in order to free up Hightower’s fleet.
* Lancel has gone pious.
* The Hound is truly dead. But who has his helmet?

Predictions pulled out of my ass:
* Lancel’s pious streak and the restoration of the church military orders have already begun to intermingle; Lancel will soon become the leader of the Warrior’s Sons and will lead some kind of crusade. They’ll eventually go against Cersei, whom Lancel knows to be insincere in her piety.
* Qyburn’s making some kind of golem or golem-like thing.

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