A Feast for Crows part six! ~500-~600!

It seems to me that we have a section that’s quietly important. Nothing terribly huge is happening here, but people are on the move once again. Jaime’s on his way to bring the riverlands in order, the political situation in King’s Landing continues to evolve, Brienne and Pod are on the trail of the Hound, and Sam’s about to learn about the dragons. A lot of setup, and it’ll certainly pay off.

Cersei: Back to the lions’ den. And the mother of the year is showing us her stellar parenting skills with Tommen. She’s determined to crush any and all possible influence Margaery might pose, and if keeping Tommen soft and stupid is what it takes she’ll do it.

We get a report about the death of the Onion Knight – I’ll wait until the next book to take that completely at face value. She also continues to shirk the financial debts of the Seven Kingdoms, and her plot to use Osney to seduce Margaery hasn’t quite succeeded yet. Nice moment of medieval humor theory in the description of Pycelle as less choleric than usual. Anyway, I really think Cersei will see some sort of comeuppance this book. We can’t have any of the prior generation left alive or in power before the sixth book, and this seems to be our chance to knock off Cersei from her position.

A small success in training for Tommen, who receives congratulations from all around him except his mother, who sours it. Of course. Margaery and Loras, of course, came up with the training and this does not suit Cersei.

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Cersei continues to not listen to reports about Dany’s activities; she just doesn’t get the importance of these slave revolts and talk of dragons. A bit of story time and we get what Cersei believes to be the conception of Joffrey. Cuckoldry always did appeal to medieval storytellers, so horning Robert in this way plays into that tradition quite well.

This puppet show sounds great. Support for the old Targaryen rulership on the rise, symbolized by the egg. It’s nice to see Martin continue doing what he does quite well, which is incorporating stories and the importance of storytelling within this saga.

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I wanted to remark about Qyburn, but I’ll save that. Because we have even more of Jaime and Cersei at each other’s throats and it’s great. The Lannisters are dissolving rapidly. I like Tommen’s commands. He wants to learn, he wants a kitten, and he wants to not eat beets. All very fine commands. Especially the kitten.

Jaime’s question when Tommen leaves is a question I have found myself asking internally many a time in my life. Although Cersei raises a good point in her internal narration – being a woman does mean that her competence is called into question where a man’s would not be.

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Looks like we have a plot to get rid of Bronn now, amid talk of the election of a new high Septon. Falyse and Balman Stokeworth seem reliable enough to Cersei, though I doubt they don’t have their grievances with the Lannisters. Since she’s taken such good care to alienate literally every other human on the continent, Cersei might want to be more careful with her plotting and selection of catspaws.

Tommen has kittens! Sure, Cersei, “clumsy attempts at seduction.” Sure. We’ll just go with that. And a bit more about the prophecy from Maggy the Frog. I wonder more and more about that as the story progresses. In any case, what we get here is enough to chew on – Cersei feels like what’s happening with Jaime and her is a failure of a kind with her father’s failure to secure her betrothal to Rhaegar. What I see is Cersei being pushed to her breaking point.

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Brienne: So they took the heads back to Sam’s dad, who continues to be an amazing jerk. No beds on land, and no assistance to be rendered. But there are ships, and Brienne sees the Titan’s Daugter casting off. I wonder about the timing – is this when Arya was aboard the ship (so close, Brienne), or has it made another round west?

In any case, Pod makes a fair argument for heading north, but Brienne is going to follow the lead on Clegane first. Not bad logic, really.

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Dreams of the men she’s killed suggest to me that Brienne is on heightened guard and may well have to kill another man soon. Not Pod, but Hyle Hunt may be the one if he tries anything. Speaking of, he says Sandor was last seen at Saltpans riding west.

Stoneheart must be Catelyn. Oh what a reunion that would be between her and Brienne. And Hunt means to tag along. Best be watchful, Brienne.

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Septon Meribald has an interesting approach to the religion. It seems a tad unorthodox, but it works. Good expansion of the metaphor, and it seems to answer some of the nature of the religion of the Seven. One god in seven aspects, three aspects to cover the religion’s view of masculine traits and duties, three for feminine traits and duties, and the Stranger who is androgynous. Brienne’s thoughts toward prayers to the Warrior and the Crone make for a great entry point for reading her in terms of queerness.

Septon Maribald reminds me a bit of the Pardoner from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales with his description of how wicked he used to be. Maybe a bit of St. Augustine as well, what with the repentant attitude.

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Brienne grows suspicious of the Septon and his knowledge of the back roads. Fair to be suspicious. We’ll see if anything comes of it. And we get some information about Nymeria’s pack. It numbers up to the hundreds now. Nymeria’s made something of herself, which is a lot more than can be really said for any of the human characters. Nymeria is the feminist hero of this saga, based off his description.

Well, reports of some broken men in the area. The Septon wants to feed and shrive them. Hunt doesn’t trust that idea to work out. In this world I’m not likely to trust it either. But the Septon does speak rightly about their condition. And he should know. He was broken.

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Samwell: So they’re in Braavos right now. On the lookout for any signs of Arya.

Sam spent the last of their money on dreamwine for Aemon. Seems wasted since he’s not yet really dying. Since making it to Braavos the maester has been slowly losing track. I think here on Earth we might say he has Alzheimer’s.

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Truth about dragons, that’s what Aemon wants to hear. So that’s two people paying attention to the details now. He’s dreamed the red star, dreamed dragons, and said the dreams killed his brothers. I think there might be enough here to finally connect the star more to Dany than to anything else.

Sam goes looking for Dareon and catches some guff from some guy named Terro and his friend. But who should come by but a little girl. Arya Stark. She saves Sam from trouble and imparts on him some useful advice about swords and challenges. And gives him some clams. How very nice of her.

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Once she tells Sam where Dareon is, though, Sam’s off on the chase. Can’t let Dareon break his vows. Too late. Dareon’s gotten a one-night marriage, but this will probably turn advantageous on the way to getting information about the dragons.

Sam hits Dareon when the latter throws his cloak in Sam’s face. Far be it from me to say so, but I think our little craven is finding some assertiveness. He gets tossed out into the canal for his efforts, but he meets Xhondo, and Xhondo knows from dragons.

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Jaime: Cersei is sending Jaime away to tend to the west and settle at last the fighting in the riverlands. She also wants Osmund Kettleblack to lead the Kingsguard in his stead. Jaime isn’t having that – he’s reflecting very much on Tyrion’s words here. He proposes Loras to lead in his absence.

And Jaime’s not going to wear his golden hand. He doesn’t want the smallfolk to see a lie, but rather to see his stump. He’s taking a couple of men with him, among them Payne, whom he thinks Cersei will be gladly rid of.

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We learn a bit about Payne’s living quarters as the King’s Justice. Suffice to say, grim and dreary.

Jaime will wear the hand when acting as a dignitary, it seems, albeit grudgingly. It’s a clumsy prosthesis, and it doesn’t suit him well. The Lady Ermensade is a toddler wed to Jaime’s cousin for political purposes, but Tyrek’s whereabouts are unknown. Could be interesting. Could just be dead. Jaime suspects Varys might have had something to do with his disappearance.

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Jaime spars with Payne, hoping to improve his southpaw swordsmanship. He does so in secret, with a man who cannot speak, out of a sense of shame. Shame is the feeling I most associate with Jaime with respect to his disability, same as Bran felt. But I think at some point we’ll see that change.

Nymeria’s pack is proving troublesome all around, it would seem. Picking on those weakened by the fighting. Nymeria’s going to be the queen of Westeros at this rate.

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Sorting out Harrenhal is a minor duty on the way, what with Littlefinger being occupied in the Eyrie. Seems Gregor’s men are being shiftless there, what with Polliver and the Tickler dead thanks to Arya and the Hound.

Hoat’s final punishment was pretty unpleasant, and the Mountain’s men don’t seem keen to ride for anything but a sack of gold. Best take that up with Cersei. No Shagwell and his boys, though – Brienne took care of them. Wyllis Manderly is whole enough and will be dropped off at Maidenpool.

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Bonifer Hasty seems a righteous douche. Jaime will take the Mountain’s men, since they can fight and die well and Hasty doesn’t want them, and he’ll also take Pia as a washerwoman. Hasty’s the new castellan, under Cersei’s orders, though, so Jaime leaves instruction on what to do if they should capture the Hound, Dondarrion, or any of the remaining Bloody Mummers.

At the bear pit we see Ronnet Connington looking at the bear’s carcass. He was the second man betrothed to Brienne, and he did not like her and immediately broke the engagement upon seeing her, calling her a hairy freak. Jaime smacks him in the mouth with his golden hand and demands respect for her. The winds are filling the sails of the S.S. Lannistarth.

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Cersei: And so the investigations into Margaery’s virginity have begun. No real progress on Cersei’s end, though. Margaery does receive numerous male callers, but again the information is of little value without anything more than the fact of their visitation.

So the custom of naming and Septons is interesting. It’s a neat idea. Wonder if it’ll play any important role again later. The new High Septon is not to Cersei’s liking, and she’s already considering having him killed and replaced. Especially since he’s not willing to bless Tommen yet.

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So the bones of martyred Septons and Septas are piled up at the statue of Baelor the Blessed, and Cersei makes a show of Tommen’s piety when the reason is explained. She lays the blame on the northmen and Stannis’s red witch. I doubt they did this to the majority of the dead, though.

The crowd doesn’t seem to buy it. If Cersei doesn’t navigate this carefully she’ll have another mob on her hands, and she’ll be the direct target. Like son like mother. The guards of the temple demand that Cersei’s detail disarm before entering, and it’s clear that a shift of power is happening here. Cersei enters alone.

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Inside cleansing work is being undertaken, and Cersei is not taking it well. The new High Septon seems not to take Cersei’s anger to be anything more than a minor tantrum. He’s a true believer, it would seem. And that’s a problem for Cersei. Never a worse thing for a ruler than to contend with a religious leader who actually believes.

The new High Septon seems quick enough of wit. He’s ready to raise points in objection to Cersei very easily, bringing up Ned’s execution and telling her the sparrows are humble folk from all over and can’t simply be sent back to a single place. And he refutes directly her attempt to blame Stannis and the northmen.

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And it’s not that they refuse to bless Tommen, it’s just not time to. Too many kings to be certain, so he must pray and fast until he receives guidance. A pious answer. And Cersei finds a way in – restore the church’s military might and Tommen would clearly be a king worth blessing. And she gets the king’s debt to the church forgiven too. Very shrewd.

I took a seminar last semester on crusade economics and military religious orders. I look forward to seeing more about these Poor Fellows and Sons of the Warrior for comparison.

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Cersei’s description of Margaery’s activities from her informants paints a pretty picture. Margaery is everything Cersei wishes she were: beloved by all, seemingly carefree, and youthful. Cersei’s paranoia leads her to believe the Tyrells freed Tyrion and conspired with him to kill Joffrey. And a little echo – Margaery says her brother protects her well, just as Cersei used to say of Jaime to get alone time with her. Oh Cersei, I think we’ll see things go against you when you try to make a real move against her.

Things of importance:
* Davos may or may not be dead. We’ll see roughly halfway through the next book, I reckon.
* Military religious orders will be restored for the Church of the Seven.
* Support for the Targaryen dynasty seems to be on the rise.
* Sam’s going to learn about the dragons soon.
* Jaime’s becoming quite protective of Brienne’s honor s both a woman and a knight.

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Predictions pulled out of my ass:
* Cersei is brought to her lowest point in this book.
* The restoration of the religious military orders is going to lead to whole new fronts in this war. Any allegiance to the Iron Throne will fall apart pretty quickly – it’s really only to the church that they owe any loyalty.

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.

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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.