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David T. Cole

Book 4: A Feast For Crows

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Brienne V

Hyle Hunt decides to bring the heads of the outlaws with them so that Randyll Tarly can have them for the walls. Brienne is disturbed by the heads and doesn't like being reminded that she killed these men. She tries to pretend that they aren't there but sometimes she can't help but feel their eyes on her, and once she even has a dream that the heads are whispering to each other.

They return to Maidenpool and Tarly is surprised when he learns that Brienne is responsible for killing the three criminals. Tarly wants Brienne to get on a ship that will take her to Tarth but Brienne refuses and says that she still needs to find Sansa. Hyle tells Randyll about how strong and quick Brienne is but Tarly doesn't want to hear it. 

Brienne says that if she's able to find Sandor Clegane she might be able to find Sansa, but Tarly doesn't believe that Brienne will be able to find Sandor since Tarly's men have so far been unable to locate him. Tarly reluctantly gives Brienne his leave to find Sansa but makes it obvious that he doesn't think she'll succeed. He says she'll be lucky if she isn't gang raped by Clegane and his "pack". 

Brienne tries to get Tarly to allow her and Pod to stay at Maidenpool for the night but Tarly refuses and tells her that he won't suffer to have her under his roof. When Hyle points out that it's technically Lord Mooton's roof, Tarly gets angry and tells Brienne that no father deserves to have a child like her. He warns her not to return to Maidenpool as long as he rules there.

They can't find an inn that has any available beds so they head for the docks to see if they can find a place to sleep for the night. Brienne considers going north to look for Sansa but decides that it's more important to try to look for the Hound first. 

After spending the night on the Lady of Myr they go to the Stinking Goose for breakfast. They meet Hyle when they're finished and he informs them that the Hound was last seen at the Saltpans looking for a ship. Hyle says that Sandor may be trapped there because of all of the fighting and the presence of the outlaws . He mentions one band of outlaws that's led by a woman called Stoneheart.

"...And there's this other band, led by this woman Stoneheart . . . Lord Beric's lover, according to one tale. Supposedly she was hanged by the Freys, but Dondarrion kissed her and brought her back to life, and now she cannot die, no more than he can."

Hyle suggests that they go with Septon Meribald to the Saltpans and informs Brienne that that Randyll Tarly is no longer his lord. Tarly told Hyle that he no longer had need of "his sword or his insolence" so Hyle is prepared to begin a new life as a hedge knight. Brienne tells Hyle that she doesn't want him coming with her because he didn't swear a vow to save Sansa the way she did. Hyle decides to come alone anyway and thinks they'll be well rewarded if they actually manage to find Sansa. 

Septon Meribald brings a lot of food for the journey to give to the poor and hungry people of the riverlands. He can't read, or write and hasn't worn a pair of shoes in twenty years. He's memorized a bunch of prayers and passages from The Seven Pointed Star and goes from village to village to conduct holy services, perform marriages, and forgive people for their sins. Meribald admits that he was a "wicked" man in his youth and used his position to seduce and deflower various maidens in the riverlands. 

Septon Meribald mentions that there's a massive wolf pack prowling around the riverlands and claims it has hundreds of wolves. 

They say the pack is led by a monstrous she-wolf, a stalking shadow grim and grey and huge. They will tell you that she has been known to bring aurochs down all by herself, that no trap nor snare can hold her, that she fears neither steel nor fire, slays any wolf that tries to mount her, and devours no other flesh but man."

Septon Meribald gives a speech about why broken men should be pitied and how fighting in a war can change a man. Brienne asks how old Meribald was when he was marched off to war and Meribald admits that he was around Pod's age. He was too young to fight in a war but admits that he went because he didn't want to be left behind when all of his brothers were going. Meribald reveals that all of his brothers died when they went off to fight and Hunt realizes that the war they fought in was the War of the Ninepenny Kings. 

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Hi, sorry for taking two months to reply to this. I know these write-ups must take work @Avaleigh, and I feel like a simple like doesn't express enough appreciation. And though parts of this book are a slog, I am looking forward to the rest of the Lannister chapters, there's lots of stuff for discussion there.

In addition to Randyll Tarly's obvious misogyny toward Brienne, Hyle pointing out that it's still Mooton's castle makes it clear he really has no legal right to rule Maidenpool the way he has been or banish anyone from the town. Mooton had been pardoned by the Tommen regime with titles intact, which Tarly must have been aware of for some time as he was preparing Dickon's wedding to Mooton's daughter. That marriage, which hasn't happened yet, is his only tie to Maidenpool, and even if the girl's brothers are all dead, making her an heiress, her father is still very much alive so he has no cause to rule on his not-yet-daughter-in-law's behalf. The Lannisters wouldn't care about keeping control of the town by force but I don't think the idea came from them either as Randyll's problem with Mooton is not his former-rebel-status but his cowardice and failure as a rebel.

The broken man speech is pretty good and I also liked Meribald talking about his personal theology with the Cobbler as another aspect of the Smith etc. On the whole, GRRM's worldbuilding of the established religions feels particularly lazy to me, so credit to him when he actually puts in some work there.

The description of Nymeria you quoted makes her sound kind of like a dragon, a "shadow grim and grey and huge" like how Drogon is called "the winged shadow" by the father of the girl he ate. It also reminds me of the show scene where Arya tells Tywin about the Young Wolf, what with all the extreme claims in the second sentence. Stoneheart and Nymeria both terrorizing the riverlands areas occupied by Lannister armies keep them narratively linked for me, so I continue to hope/believe that Stoneheart's end will intersect with Arya's return to Westeros, but alas, the world may never know.

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There are some nice bits in this Chapter - little references to things happening elsewhere, like Nymeria's wolf pack or Lady Stoneheart - but otherwise, this is part of what made AFFC such a slog to get through. Randyl Tarly proves himself to still be a jerk to Brienne, even after she proves she can take care of herself, though he was right about what would happen when she meets "The Hound" (if it wasn't for Pod's intervention).

Nice to see that there actually are some decent people in Westeros. I forget, but assume Septon Meribald is horribly killed later on. No good deed goes unpunished.

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11 hours ago, John Potts said:

Nice to see that there actually are some decent people in Westeros. I forget, but assume Septon Meribald is horribly killed later on. No good deed goes unpunished.

Thoros said he was released by the BwB because there was no harm in him. 

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On 2/14/2019 at 8:15 AM, John Potts said:

though he was right about what would happen when she meets "The Hound" (if it wasn't for Pod's intervention).

It's Gendry who saves her with Rorge and Biter, though the actors playing him and Pod look enough alike on the show that I guess character confusion is only natural.

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Hi guys, sorry I haven't been posting lately. I recently moved out of state for a new job and the move in has taken me longer than I thought it would. 

I've really been looking forward to Cersei's downfall and Jaime's moment of clarity. I also want to take a close look at the final Sam chapter because there was some good stuff there. Brienne's last couple of chapters get pretty intense too. Ooh, there's also 5he last Alayne chapter. This book is the least interesting to press through but I admit that there's some good stuff here.

I still can't believe that we're in the final season of the show with the sixth book nowhere in sight. 

I'll post a couple of chapters by Sunday if that still works for people. Sorry again for the delay. 

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Samwell III

Sam is frustrated with the way Dareon has been behaving since they've been in Braavos. He sort of understands why Dareon prefers going to inns and brothels as opposed to hanging out with him, Gilly and Maester Aemon, but he's upset that Dareon has broken his promise to come back to bring them food and wine. He feels like Dareon has forgotten that he's a brother of the Night's Watch. 

Gilly and her baby are two of the reasons Dareon has been distancing himself from the group. He's annoyed with how often they cry and admits that there are times he feels like slapping Gilly. Sam thinks to himself that Dareon would cry too if he were going through what Gilly is going through. Sam blames Jon for Gilly's pain and wonders when exactly it was that Jon's heart turned to stone. Aemon tells Sam that Jon's change started when he was made Lord Commander.

The baby's crying wakes up Maester Aemon and Aemon starts asking "Egg" why it's so dark. Aemon's mind has been wandering more frequently lately and there are days where he doesn't know where he is or remember what it was he was talking about. Sam reminds himself that Aemon is one hundred and two years old but notes that Aemon's mind didn't seem to wander back when they were at Castle Black.

Sam spent the last of the silver they had on a healer to treat Maester Aemon. The healer gave Sam a half a flask of dreamwine and told him there was nothing more that could be done for Aemon apart from making his passing as peaceful as possible. 

Aemon keeps requesting to go down to the docks and Sam tells him that they'll go the next day. Sam thinks that they'll head for Oldtown when Aemon is well enough to travel. 

"Oldtown," Maester Aemon wheezed. "Yes. I dreamt of Oldtown, Sam. I was young again and my brother Egg was with me, with that big knight he served. We were drinking in the old inn where they make the fearsomely strong cider." He tried to rise again, but the effort proved too much for him. After a moment he settled back. "The ships," he said again. "We will find our answer there. About the dragons. I need to know."

Aemon asks Sam to go down to the docks so that he can bring back a person who has seen the dragons. Sam wonders if Dareon made up the stories about dragons that he's been hearing in the alehouses and brothels, but Aemon seems convinced that there may be a kernel of truth in the stories that Dareon heard. 

Aemon tells Sam that he knows he's dying and that he isn't going to make it to Oldtown. Sam realizes that Aemon is afraid of death and tries to tell the maester that his illness will eventually pass. Aemon admits that he dreams about dragons and says that his brothers dreamt of them too. He again asks Sam to go down to the docks to find out all he can about the rumors of dragons. 

Sam agrees to go to the docks and decides that he'll also attempt to find Dareon. He leaves Gilly in charge of Aemon and leaves before Gilly starts crying again. Sam considers what a loose tongue Dareon has and wonders if the singer hasn't come back because he got himself killed. 

Sam goes into the best inns and brothels looking for Dareon but isn't having any luck. As he's leaving a brothel he's soon accosted by two bravos who seem determined to start trouble with him. Sam is saved from the encounter by a girl called Cat. 

Cat tells Sam a little of how life works in Braavos and gives him the last batch of the baked clams she's been selling. Cat tells Sam where to find Dareon and informs Sam that Dareon is soon to be married to the Sailor's Wife. Cat offers to show Sam the way but he tells her that he already knows how to get there. 

Sam finds Dareon at the brothel. It's clear that Dareon has been drinking and enjoying himself. Sam reminds Dareon of his vows and tells him that he can't marry. Dareon explains that he's only going to be married to the Sailor's Wife for one night. He tells Sam to leave if he isn't interested in drinking and celebrating with him. Sam urges Dareon to help him find someone who knows something about the dragons and says that it will help ease Aemon's passing. Dareon refuses and tells Sam that he's done with being a brother of the Night's Watch. Dareon tears off his cloak and throws it in Sam's face. When Dareon starts talking about how he'll be clad in furs and velvet by next year, Sam punches him in the face and stomach. 

After Sam and Dareon fight, Sam is eventually thrown out of the brothel and into a canal. Sam tries to swim but soon starts to panic and thinks that he's going to drown. He's saved by a Summer Islander called Xhondo. Xhondo tells Sam that he has a ship called the Cinnamon Wind and says that he knows about the dragons.

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Great post, Avaleigh!  You always do such a great job. :)

I have to say, Sam punching Dareon is one of my favorite Sam moments.  It shows you how much the character has changed and just won't take this crap anymore.  I think even Randyll would have been just a little admiring of Sam for doing this.

Dareon acts like an ass here but if his story about how he joined the Night's Watch is true (he claims to have been falsely accused by a lord's daughter), then it's understandable that he wanted to bolt.  He's still an ass though.

It's easy to forget that Sam and Arya have met.

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I like that it was Arya's instinct was to offer hospitality to a Man of the Night's Watch. She protects him, gives him a run down of what life and people are like in Braavos, and she offers him food. 

I still say that there's no reason why Sam shouldn't consistently be losing weight given how frequently he's in situations where there isn't much food.

It's obvious that Arya is learning a lot. She doesn't miss a thing and is about as observant as someone like Varys.

Benteen, I agree with you about Dareon. It's easy to forget that he was basically railroaded into this life (assuming that his story is true) so I can understand his instinct to bail and be done with the Night's Watch for good. That being said, it was cold of him to take all of the money when he knew that Sam and the others were relying on him for food. He should have waited until Aemon died and let Sam have whatever was left of the money. Ideally he'd help them pay for passage on another ship too, even if he has to sing to get the money. 

One thing I wonder about with this chapter--would Aemon have lived on for years and years if he'd stayed put on the Wall. He seems to be implying that the magic of the Wall was essentially preserving his life. 

I wish Aemon could have met Dany.

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Yes, I also wish Aemon could have met Dany.  It would have meant the world to him.

Excellent point about how Sam should be losing weight at this point.  There's no reason for him to still be this heavy, especially considering his long trek back to the Wall in A Storm for Swords.

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Jaime III

Cersei doesn't like Jaime's beard. She shows him that his hair is starting to turn grey and that he's a ghost of the man he used to be. Part of Jaime wants to have sex with Cersei and the other part of him remembers Tyrion's words about how Cersei has been fucking Lancel and Osmund. 

Jaime doesn't like the idea of being sent to Riverrun and argues to Cersei that his place is by Tommen's side. He asks Cersei why she bothered to name Daven Warden of the West if she has no confidence in him. Cersei avoids answering Jaime's question and wants to know why he's so reluctant to go to Riverrun. Jaime admits that he swore an oath to Catelyn to never again take up arms against the Starks or Tullys. Cersei dismisses the oath Jaime took and points out that he only made it because he had a sword at his neck.

When Cersei says that she plans on having Osmund be in charge of the Kingsguard in Jaime's absence, Jaime informs her that he plans on leaving Loras in charge. Cersei is furious about this but Jaime argues that Loras is three times the man that Osmund is. The siblings go back and forth with their sniping, and Cersei eventually gives Jaime a slap in the face and tells him to leave. Jaime thinks about how the very sight of his sister makes him angry these days.

When Jaime and his men leave King's Landing, there is zero fanfare and the smallfolk seem indifferent at seeing them leave. It's a sharp contrast to the send off that Mace Tyrell and his soldiers had when they left the city. Jaime thinks that Cersei would be wise to see how the smallfolk prefer the Tyrells to the Lannisters.

Jaime and his men spend their first night at the Castle of the Hayfords. The toddler lady of the castle is a Lannister by marriage. Her husband Tyrek Lannister vanished during the riots of King's Landing. If Tyrek is still alive he'd be about fourteen. Adam Marbrand personally led a search for Tyrek but no body was ever found. Jaime wonders if Varys knows anything about Tyrek's disappearance. 

Later that night Jaime gets Ser Ilyn to spar with him. They "dance" for a long time until Jaime is battered and bruised. Jaime says that they'll practice every night until he's as good at fighting with his left hand as he was with his right. Ilyn laughs in response to this.

The group encounters some trouble with wolves and later hear more stories of how aggressive the wolf packs have become. 

As they get closer to Harrenhal, Jaime finds himself wondering if Brienne traveled down this same path. When they arrive at Harrenhal Jaime talks with Shitmouth and Raff about what's been going on since Gregor left. He learns about the nature of Vargo Hoat's death including the detail that Hoat's body parts were given to prisoners to eat including to Hoat himself while he was still alive. Jaime thinks that "somehow revenge has lost its savor".

Only three of Lady Whent's people are still at Harrenhal, Pia among them. When Pia sees that Jaime has returned, she cries and clings to his leg. She's completely hysterical and Jaime sees that her nose has been broken and she's missing half of her teeth. Jaime tells her that no one will hurt her now.

When Jaime tells Ser Wylis Manderly that he's going to be escorted to Maidenpool so that he can be put on a ship to White Harbor, Wylis cries longer and more loudly than even Pia did. Jaime thinks to himself that Harrenhal has seen more horror in its three hundred years than Casterly Rock has in three thousand. 

Ser Bonifer Hasty has been named castellan of Harrenhal and Jaime acknowledges that Bonifer and his men are as well disciplined as any soldiers in the Seven Kingdoms. Jaime cautions Bonifer about the history of Harrenhal and says that everyone who holds the castle seems to meet an unfortunate end. Bonifer doesn't seem concerned and thinks that he and his men are pious enough to be protected by the Seven. 

Jaime sees Red Ronnet Connington in the Bear pit. Ronnet is drunk and says that he wanted to see the bear that Brienne fought with. Ronnet asks Jaime if it's true that Brienne fought naked. Ronnet jokes that the sight of a naked Brienne might have been enough to make the bear flee in fear. 

Ronnet tells Jaime that he was once betrothed to Brienne and Jaime asks him why they were never wed. Ronnet explains that when he went to Tarth to meet her he thought she looked like a "sow in silk". When he tells Jaime that the bear was less hairy than Brienne and refers to her as a freak, Jaime smacks Ronnet in his mouth with his golden hand.

"You are speaking of a highborn lady, ser. Call her by her name. Call her Brienne."

Ronnet falls to his hands and knees and spits out a glob of blood at Jaime's feet. He obediently refers to Brienne by her name.

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6 hours ago, Avaleigh said:

I still say that there's no reason why Sam shouldn't consistently be losing weight given how frequently he's in situations where there isn't much food.

It's actually alluded to in this chapter that Sam is losing weight in the same way it's alluded to that Cersei is gaining weight. It's sad, I remember that even though I re-read this chapter over a year ago.

With his hood up and his cloak flapping, he made his way along the cobblestones toward the Ragman's Harbor. His swordbelt kept threatening to fall down about his ankles, so he had to keep tugging it back up as he went.

This chapter will always be bittersweet to me with regard to Maester Aemon. Knowing he is going to die is difficult because Maester Aemon has been such a rock and it always takes me back to his conversations with Jon about honor and love and duty and how difficult it was for him being at the Wall, knowing his family had been decimated. It makes the whole thing really sad that he finds out about Dany at the very end of his life.

With Dareon, on the one hand, I feel sorry for him because I think he is telling the truth about what happened with Mathis Rowan's daughter. That's part of the reason Jon sends him on the road. He gets to travel, he gets to sing and he comes back to the Wall twice a year and goes back on the road again. The more belligerent he became, the more I wanted him to stay in Braavos. 

What I learned in that chapter is that sweet Sam who hates violence and blood can throw a punch when he is pushed to the limit.

I also liked that the Cinnamon Wind made a come back in this chapter. Sailors and ships cannot be underestimated in the story when it comes to the dissemination of information. The Cinnamon Wind brought news of Robert's death to Dany while she was in Qarth and that was all the way in Clash of Kings. The captain saw the dragons. And a year later, the information is coming to Braavos via this ship.

Arya/Sam. I'm always amazed that Arya who looks so like a Stark is never recognized as such. The northmen didn't know who she was while she was at Harrenhal. She's a girl, so maybe they weren't really paying attention to her all that much. And Sam, whose BFF is Jon doesn't even have a flicker of recognition.

Granted, he had bigger fish to fry in that instant, trying to find Dareon and standing there with the two bravos, but I have to wonder if Arya's looks haven't begun to change some. 

About the Jaime chapter;

Again, the world is somewhat contracting. The Jaime chapters from mid-ASOS and in AFFC are just a lot of fun to read. They are interesting and filled with information. 

One of the things I absolutely hated with the show last season is that they had Jaime stick with Cersei when he had no reason to whatsoever. 

Tyrek is still missing. I've got a theory on that. I think Varys knows everything about Tyrek's disappearance. 

Wylis Manderly is headed home to White Harbor. I like how this becomes so important and how so much of what Wyman is doing in the north in ADwD hinged on this one action.

The whole interaction with Red Ronnet is really great. Jaime has now become a defender of Brienne, not that she needs defending. I do like how we get context to the relationship between Red Ronnet and Jon Connington and that Ronnet's recollection of the rose incident (insult) is exactly the same as Brienne's. 

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Do like that - for once! - we actually have some characters reuniting. And while I get that there aren't any pictures on the side of milk bottles, you'd think somebody would go, "Huh, she kinda reminds me of Jon/Ned/Robb" when they bump into Arya (she's now met Roose Bolton, Brienne and Sam, IIRC - OK, Brienne gets a pass as Arya is explicitly unlike Cat, the only Stark she'd met).

I'd forgotten that Aemon knew that he was dying (at least between senile wonderings into his past). I guess the healer was a fairly honest sort given you'd imagine an honest diagnosis would probably be, "Dude, the guy's over a hundred! I can give you something to make him comfortable, but it's just his time!"

Was there some reason Wylis Manderley was so upset at being sent back home or is it more Manderley play acting? And we see more of Cersei appointing more idiots because she doesn't want anyone competent who might challenge her - she can't see past her dislike of Kevan to realise that while he might not like Cersei, he is still loyal to the family. And when you can't even trust your brother/lover, you really are in trouble!

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Arya never met Brienne in the books. By the time Brienne leaves King's Landing to seach for Sansa, Arya has left Saltpans.

33 minutes ago, John Potts said:

Was there some reason Wylis Manderley was so upset at being sent back home or is it more Manderley play acting?

He wasn't upset that he was being sent back. He was crying from relief that he was finally going back. 

Edited by YaddaYadda
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16 hours ago, YaddaYadda said:

With Dareon, on the one hand, I feel sorry for him because I think he is telling the truth about what happened with Mathis Rowan's daughter. That's part of the reason Jon sends him on the road. He gets to travel, he gets to sing and he comes back to the Wall twice a year and goes back on the road again. The more belligerent he became, the more I wanted him to stay in Braavos. 

I think he's telling the truth too so that's why I don't hold deserting the Night's Watch against him though I don't like how he treated those traveling with him.  Wandering Crow is definitely the best job to get in the Night's Watch.

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On 2/25/2019 at 3:39 PM, YaddaYadda said:

With Dareon, on the one hand, I feel sorry for him because I think he is telling the truth about what happened with Mathis Rowan's daughter. That's part of the reason Jon sends him on the road. He gets to travel, he gets to sing and he comes back to the Wall twice a year and goes back on the road again. The more belligerent he became, the more I wanted him to stay in Braavos.

Jon really should have thought that one through more as Dareon had never really been shy about his feelings on being railroaded into the Watch. Wandering crow is a plumb job that also provides the best opportunity for deserting and getting away with it, so it's pretty well, Ned Stark-like, to think gratitude for this job would mean that desertion wouldn't be considered and loyalty to the NW would develop in a person who had none before. I'd think a deep dedication to the cause--as we saw with Yoren--would be a prerequisite for entrusting a NW brother with that much freedom.

I have seen people doubt Dareon's claims of false accusation because he's such an asshole here, but I don't think that means he actually was a rapist either. When false rape accusations do occur there's often elements of racism/classicism and the girl having reason to fear admitting to consensual sex, which would definitely be at play with a peasant caught with a very highborn lady whose sexual purity would be treated as a valuable commodity.  The alternative scenario of him scaling a castle and forcing through a lady's window rather than just raping a fellow peasant feels more far fetched, though I suppose she could have invited him in and then changed her mind, but it makes more to me to just take at his word. That said, I don't really have much sympathy for Dareon when he has so little for his companions and really acts pretty callous about screwing them over. Sam punching him out felt as satisfying as Sam killing the white walker.

I like that Sam, Jon's bff, has met two of Jon's surviving sibs, the two Jon was closest to. I've never questioned him not recognizing Jon in Arya, given everything else he had on his mind. The Stark look is distinctive but not unique like the Valyrian look. For example, Waymar Royce had grey eyes, and could well have had a long face and dark brown hair too. I'd imagine those traits could crop up in other northern families or those with First Men blood. And back in Harrenhal, Arya had the perfect disguise as a dirty peasant kid, beneath any lord's notice. Even as Roose Bolton's cupbearer, she was still just another peasant servant.

There's a lot of death and tragedy in this series but for some reason Aemon's peaceful dying really gets to me. Probably because he's over 100 yet he still really does not want to stop living, and I think a lot of us can relate to the experience of having an elderly loved one slipping in and out of lucidity toward the end. Then he learns of Dany's dragons too late, thinking she was his last kin, on the other side of the world where's he's unable to meet and help her, all the while never knowing that he wasn't the last Targ in Westeros, that he hadn't been since Jon came to Castle Black, that he had known and counseled his great-great-nephew.

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2 hours ago, Lady S. said:

Jon really should have thought that one through more as Dareon had never really been shy about his feelings on being railroaded into the Watch. Wandering crow is a plumb job that also provides the best opportunity for deserting and getting away with it, so it's pretty well, Ned Stark-like, to think gratitude for this job would mean that desertion wouldn't be considered and loyalty to the NW would develop in a person who had none before. I'd think a deep dedication to the cause--as we saw with Yoren--would be a prerequisite for entrusting a NW brother with that much freedom.

While Jon has a lot of good ideas for the Night's Watch and he's the leader that they need, his instincts are terrible.  Isolating himself from his friends, sending them away to other castles at the Wall when he needed more loyal people around him, misinterpreting lessons his father taught him, not trying to explain to his men why he was making the decisions he was making and sending Dareon to Braavos given the man's history.  I know Jon considered him a friend but as I recall, he was sent away to Eastwatch shortly after they all "graduated" from their training so Jon hadn't been around him that much.

Dareon was also relatively new to the job so his loyalty would certainly be in question, particularly if his story of how he was sent to the Wall is true.  Maybe he would have felt differently about the Night's Watch if he had been there longer but I doubt it.

If he was framed and I believe that he was, I have no problem whatsoever with him deserting.  What I have a problem with is his actions towards his companions.

Edited by benteen
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2 hours ago, Lady S. said:

There's a lot of death and tragedy in this series but for some reason Aemon's peaceful dying really gets to me. Probably because he's over 100 yet he still really does not want to stop living, and I think a lot of us can relate to the experience of having an elderly loved one slipping in and out of lucidity toward the end. Then he learns of Dany's dragons too late, thinking she was his last kin, on the other side of the world where's he's unable to meet and help her, all the while never knowing that he wasn't the last Targ in Westeros, that he hadn't been since Jon came to Castle Black, that he had known and counseled his great-great-nephew.

Honestly, I don't know how truly peaceful his passing was. It's true he didn't get a building dropped on his head and he wasn't bludgeoned to death, but his last moments feel very much tormented to me with his dreams of his brothers and him wanting to go to Dany to help her. 

"For me, these past years, only one question has remained. Why would the gods take my eyes and my strength, yet condemn me to linger on so long, frozen and forgotten? What use could they have for an old done man like me?" 

It's just unbelievably sad. And it's doubly sad when we know that Jon was family he never knew he had. It's all sad when we start looking at the ramifications of it all. 

Next to Arya's thoughts about Needle, Maester Aemon's last days always really get to me.

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On 2/25/2019 at 11:21 AM, Avaleigh said:

Cersei dismisses the oath Jaime took and points out that he only made it because he had a sword at his neck.

I mean, that is a point that you shouldn't be honor bound over an oath sworn at swordpoint. If Jaime feels obligated to not harm any more of Catelyn's kin, it should be because he already crippled her kid and this war he and his family started resulted in so much damage already, most of all the Red Wedding. And it's not like the oath is a technicality he's using as an excuse with Cersei. That is his only reason in his own thoughts for not wanting to attack Riverrun, He cares about keeping this one oath because he's still hurt by Catelyn comparing his honor to a bucket of shit. It just feels like a regression that he thinks of his private redemption quest purely in terms of chivalry and keeping oaths, just for the sake of keeping them, being a good Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, when he had some valid points about all that in that very same last scene with Catelyn. 

which kinda leads me to this moment:

Quote

 though some outlaws had taken shelter in the root cellar beneath the second brother's keep. One of them wore the ruins of a crimson cloak, but Jaime hanged him with the rest. It felt good. This was justice. Make a habit of it, Lannister, and one day men might call you Goldenhand after all. Goldenhand the Just.

This comes after we've already read the broken men speech, which is probably intentional. We don't actually know what harm these men may have done to civilians outside their role of soldiering, and it would probably be mentioned if Jaime did know of specific crimes. All we know for certain is they were squatting underneath some knight's burnt-out keep and one was definitely a Lannister deserter, which kind of reminds me of Ned beheading Gared in the first chapter or any other NW deserter he would have executed really. It's the law and there's reason to enforce it, keep society in order, all that, but when not all of the men like that really definitely deserve to die, it's more an unpleasant duty in an imperfect system than justice to be celebrated. 

On 2/25/2019 at 11:21 AM, Avaleigh said:

He learns about the nature of Vargo Hoat's death including the detail that Hoat's body parts were given to prisoners to eat including to Hoat himself while he was still alive. Jaime thinks that "somehow revenge has lost its savor".

You know, it's impossible to keep track of all the cannibalism in Feast/Dance because there are just so many instances. Now I'm realizing that Wylis Manderly had unknowingly eaten human flesh before his father willingly eats the flesh of his enemies so he can trick their own kin into eating them, which is not too different from how the Mountain tricked Hoat and the other prisoners into cannibalism. I'd never made that Manderly connection before. It's funny, Wyman's Frey pies were celebrated in-fandom as some righteous justice, yet in recent years some of the show criticism has been about losing the books' message that revenge is futile and always bad. I don't know that GRRM is as absolute as all that so much as he really grants a satisfying karmic death and some characters do go way overboard. Like in this case, Jaime isn't regretting vengeful thoughts, he's just really grossed out by what happened to Vargo, then still disappointed not to find Zollo and the others still around so he could avenge his maiming and what they did with Brienne. And Brienne, one of the most moral characters, has similar views to Jaime about revenge, wanting to kill Stannis to avenge Renly, urging Jaime to live for vengeance, and thinking of her kills of the Bloody Mummers as for Jaime.

This chapter ends on one of my favorite Jaime moments. Harrenhal really brings out the best from him, especially that bear pit. Ronnet is giving Jaime context for what Brienne's had to deal with her whole life from asshole men and shining a very unflattering mirror on Jaime's own past treatment of her right up until that last interaction, when he kept insulting her looks every time he got frustrated without thinking how hurtful that was. He can't go back in time and hit his past self but he can goldensmack this guy who was worse than him and take a stand for Brienne just for the sake of it, without knowing he'd ever see her again. Up until now, Brienne's had Renly being nice to her face and laughing at her behind her back, then Jaime, frequently mean to her while also defending her, publicly and privately, which is worth a lot more than Renly's rainbow cloak but she still deserves to have his support without any mean comments at all. (In the short time we see them together in his last Dance chapter, his immediate response is notably more respectful.)

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Cersei VI

Cersei and Taena Merryweather are taking a litter ride to the Great Sept of Baelor. Taena tells Cersei about the kind of court that Margaery has been keeping and Cersei asks Taena if she believes that Margaery is still a virgin. Taena says that she was present for the bedding of Renly and Margaery and acknowledges that Renly was aroused when she took off his robe. She doesn't know if the marriage was consummated and when Cersei asks if Margaery bled, Taena tells her that a sheet wasn't shown.

Cersei starts asking about Margaery's male admirers and visitors and is looking for anything that could be interpreted as scandalous. Margaery and her cousins have lots of visitors and Taena makes sure to tell Cersei which men are favorites of the cousins. Loras is Margaery's most frequent visitor and the two siblings share everything according to Taena.

The conversation turns to the new High Septon and Cersei thinks to herself that she'll choose the next High Septon when the time is right. She finds the new High Septon to be annoying and considers that she might be better off if she places a young boy in the role. She tells Taena to bring her young son to court so that Tommen can be around a boy close to his age. Cersei thinks about how Joffrey didn't have any friends and how he was basically alone a lot of the time. 

Joffrey had never had a close friend of his own age, that she recalled. The poor boy was always  alone. I had Jaime when I was a child . . . and Melara, until she fell into the well. Joff had been fond of the Hound, to be sure, but that was not friendship. He was looking for the father he never found in Robert. A little foster brother might be just what Tommen needs to wean him away from Margaery and her hens. In time they might grow as close as Robert and his boyhood friend Ned Stark. A fool, but a loyal fool. Tommen will have need of loyal friends to watch his back.

Taena isn't sure that her son Russell will like living at court but Cersei tells her that Russell will get used to it in time. Cersei points out that Taena would be able to see Russell every day if he came to live in King's Landing. 

The litter comes to a sudden halt and Cersei hears Ser Osmund shouting at people to move aside. When Cersei learns that it's the Sparrows who are keeping the litter from moving, she instructs Ser Meryn to be gentle about moving them because she doesn't want to be caught up in another riot.

The conversation turns to how the High Septon hasn't agreed to bless Tommen's reign and Taena says that she's heard that the High Septon is withholding his blessing until the Crown resumes making its payments to the Faith. Cersei claims that the Faith will be given their money once the war is over. She says that the High Septon is out of his mind if he thinks that she'll ever be willing to buy Tommen's blessing from him.

The litter jerks to a halt again and this time Cersei decides look for herself to see what's going on. She's shocked when she sees just how many Sparrows are in King's Landing. There are hundreds camped out in the plaza and near the Great Sept. Cersei decides that there's too much traffic and tells Osmund that she'll make the rest of the journey on foot. 

As she walks past the many Sparrows, Cersei remembers the day that she married Robert. She thinks about how loud the cheers were and how Robert told her that the people liked her. She remembers the brief moment of happiness she felt when Robert mentioned that every face was smiling at them. She felt happy until she looked over at Jaime, the one person who wasn't smiling that day.

No one smiles as Cersei passes through the throng of Sparrows. The Sparrows look hostile and Cersei thinks about how Tywin would have ridden over them instead of walking through them the way that she's doing. 

When Cersei reaches the steps of the Sept, armed guards tell her that she won't be allowed to bring her guards with her to see the High Septon. Cersei is furious but refrains from asking Meryn and Osmund to respond with violence because they are so outnumbered. She agrees to walk in to see the High Septon alone. 

The High Septon is barefoot and scrubbing the floor when Cersei goes to greet him. She knows that she's supposed to kneel to him but doesn't want to get her dress dirty. She's surprised when she learns that the High Septon has sold all of the treasures the Faith accumulated over the years including the gold and crystal crown her father bought for the last High Septon. 

Cersei and the High Septon go to speak in private. First, they pray together and then Cersei tells His High Holiness that she wants the Sparrows out of King's Landing. The High Septon explains how the war is responsible for why the Sparrow movement has become a thing and says that the Crown failed in its duty to protect the people.

Cersei resists the idea of using Tommen's men to protect people like the Sparrows and Silent Sisters and says that the Sparrows should be able to defend themselves. The High Septon says that the men of the Faith would defend themselves if it weren't for laws that were put in place back during Maegor's reign. Cersei points out that Maegor's laws could be undone and eventually agrees to allow the Faith Militant to be reborn. 

In return for allowing the Faith Militant to be restored, Cersei asks that the Crown's debt to the Faith be forgiven. The High Septon agrees that the debt will be forgiven and that Tommen may have his blessing. Cersei is proud of herself for reaching a deal with the High Septon and believes that even Tywin couldn't have done a better job.

On the litter ride back to the castle, Cersei and Taena share a toast to the deal Cersei made with the High Septon. They run into the Tyrell siblings and their cousins at Aegon's High Hill and Cersei has resentful thoughts about how Margaery seems to always come between her and Tommen. She thinks that Joffrey would have seen through Margaery and let her know her place in the pecking order. 

Margaery tells Cersei that she could help lighten the load of running the kingdoms and says that there must be some things that she could help her do. Margaery encourages Cersei to come with them the next time they take an outing into the woods. Cersei is reminded of how Robert used to try and get her to go hunting with him, but that she'd always declined so that she could spend private time with Jaime. When Margaery mentions that her brother Loras keeps her well protected, Cersei laughs as she remembers that this is what she would always tell Robert with regard to Jaime. 

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Another example of Cersei's brilliant foresight. "Oh, I'm sure this shoeless guy will be easy to manipulate. And I just halved the Crown's debt! I'm sure arming a bunch of fanatics won't cause any problems..."

Also love the way that having thought about how Joffrey's upbringing had been blighted by his lack of close companions... she now expects Lady Taena to uproot her son from where he (seems to be) happy . But nobody ever accused Cersei of being empathetic.

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14 hours ago, Avaleigh said:

In return for allowing the Faith Militant to be restored, Cersei asks that the Crown's debt to the Faith be forgiven. The High Septon agrees that the debt will be forgiven and that Tommen may have his blessing. Cersei is proud of herself for reaching a deal with the High Septon and believes that even Tywin couldn't have done a better job.

😅😂🤣

The Cersei chapters are the gift that keeps on giving. 

Actually, one of the things that I wondered about is why Cersei, who is the Lady of the Rock now, didn't decide to pay parts of the crown's debts with her family's gold. We're constantly told the Lannisters have more gold than they know what to do with.

Edited by YaddaYadda
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Ah, another great Cersei decision.  Well done, Your Grace!

Great post, Avaleigh.  I did like that detail that Cersei was briefly happy when Robert said that to her at the wedding.  I had forgotten that seeing Jaime's face.

One thing I thought for a while is that the High Septon is able to build up the Faith Militant a little too quickly.  By the next book, they already seem a major power.  I suppose they were secretly starting to build them up a lot sooner but still...it would take a while to get those knights to officially join and to really get set up with an army that can challenge others.

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Cersei's a terrible idiot, but her chapters are always entertaining reads.  She's nearly straining herself patting herself on the back for the deal with the High Septon and never once pausing to consider why the law forbiding the arming of the faith ever existed in the first place.  I also like the detail that she was briefly happy at her wedding with everyone cheering for her.  That and the mention later in the chapter of how in the early days Robert had tried to get her go on hunting trips and share his interests but she always blew him off for Jaime begs the question of whether it could have gone differently had either of the twins thought longterm at all and not installed Jaime on the Kingsguard as the eventual third party in any marriage she made in King's Landing and not left Robert alone to drunkenly obsess and brood over a dead woman.  What if she'd had nothing else to focus on except playing the role of the good queen she's so dismissive of Margaery for trying to be?  It's hard to say as Cersei would still be Cersei and Robert was probably always going to be a master level philanderer, but maybe they wouldn't have both been so unendingly miserable when the story starts.  Or more likely she's like Scarlett O'Hara who insists she wants very much to be considered a "great lady" but is never willing to put in all the boring work of actually being a good person and doing the good works that would have earned her that title. 

Like so many other chapters that talk about crown finances, I'm again left wondering just how so much debt got racked up that put Cersei in the place to even strike such a deal.  Sure, they've had a lengthy war and before that, Robert was a very hands-off ruler, but he's complaining in the very first book to Ned that he can't do much about having a court full of Lannisters because Tywin is bankrolling the whole thing.  Was that just his perception and a cop out for letting the Lannisters have the run of the place or was Littlefinger engaged in a whole lot of creative bookkeeping?  When Tyrion tried to take on the master of coin job in SOS he quickly noticed that the state of the crown's finances were not what he would have expected and was very airily dismissed with a "Littlefinger always figured it out."  The Lannisters don't have to pay it all back right now out of the family kitty, because as they say they do legitimately have a war going on, but you'd think they'd at least make some good faith showing of making some payment if for no other reason than to shut up the hounding about it and not be giving off airs that they're a bunch of deadbeats who might be vulnerable to say, the next family willing to finance a path to the crown.  Or at least you would if they had any self-awareness at all and Cersei wasn't still telling herself that lions don't have to concern themselves with what anyone else thinks.

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Robert and Cersei's marriage was such a shit show. They were both essentially forced into something they did not want. 

Originally, reading the semi-confrontation she had with Ned when she tells him that Robert said Lyanna's name the first time he and Cersei had sex was a bit of a cathartic moment in understanding Cersei a little bit better as a character. There she was, newly wed and her husband is thinking of someone else while they're in bed. I could understand her hatred and why she would turn to someone else.

But then we find out that Cersei had sex with Jaime on the morning of her wedding and it's more of a moment where neither one of them (Robert or Cersei) seemed to be looking for their marriage to work and they were there because they were made and that was the end of that. 

I get that Tywin was the most powerful man in the realm and that a newly crowned Robert needed him on his side, but rewarding the man who came to the rebels cause after everything had been decided on the Trident with both a royal marriage and a pardon for Jaime after he killed Aerys were two very stupid decisions. It should have been one or the other. Not both. 

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I do wonder what might have happened had the Tyrells succeeded in having Robert set aside Cersei in favour of Margery. Presumably it would have kicked off the War of the Five Kings, especially if it was combined with a "We've discovered Cersei's children are the products of incest". I can't see the Lannisters surviving in that case (the Stormalands would probably stay loyal to Robert and with the Tyrells as well, I couldn't see the Lannisters holding KL). I imagine that Margery would also be better at ignoring Robert's infidelity in the name of remaining Queen. Also, the Crown's finances would be in better shape as (presumably) they wouldn't pay a now rebellious Tywin Lannister back the gold they owed him and the Tyrells would cover the rest.

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On 4/8/2019 at 5:35 PM, John Potts said:

I do wonder what might have happened had the Tyrells succeeded in having Robert set aside Cersei in favour of Margery. Presumably it would have kicked off the War of the Five Kings, especially if it was combined with a "We've discovered Cersei's children are the products of incest". I can't see the Lannisters surviving in that case (the Stormalands would probably stay loyal to Robert and with the Tyrells as well, I couldn't see the Lannisters holding KL). I imagine that Margery would also be better at ignoring Robert's infidelity in the name of remaining Queen. Also, the Crown's finances would be in better shape as (presumably) they wouldn't pay a now rebellious Tywin Lannister back the gold they owed him and the Tyrells would cover the rest.

Yeah, the war would be over easily with Robert's original rebellion allies + the Tyrells, while Tywin stood alone, the rebel himself now avenging his treasonous kids. The only question would be how far the Lannister line would get killed off in that conflict and who would be the new lord. In any case, it'd probably be a more boring outcome than what we got with Bobby and Ned dead while Tywin and the other Lannisters were still alive.

On 4/8/2019 at 11:22 AM, nodorothyparker said:

  I also like the detail that she was briefly happy at her wedding with everyone cheering for her.  That and the mention later in the chapter of how in the early days Robert had tried to get her go on hunting trips and share his interests but she always blew him off for Jaime begs the question of whether it could have gone differently had either of the twins thought longterm at all and not installed Jaime on the Kingsguard as the eventual third party in any marriage she made in King's Landing and not left Robert alone to drunkenly obsess and brood over a dead woman.  What if she'd had nothing else to focus on except playing the role of the good queen she's so dismissive of Margaery for trying to be?  It's hard to say as Cersei would still be Cersei and Robert was probably always going to be a master level philanderer, but maybe they wouldn't have both been so unendingly miserable when the story starts.  Or more likely she's like Scarlett O'Hara who insists she wants very much to be considered a "great lady" but is never willing to put in all the boring work of actually being a good person and doing the good works that would have earned her that title. 

Robert and Cersei were just the worst possible combination as two fundamentally selfish people, and I don't think Jaime's presence made it any worse so much as provided an outlet for Cersei to make herself feel better. Robert's drunken longing started from the wedding night and it sounds like the marital rapes started pretty early on too, so even if his hunting invites came from a genuine wish to bond with his new wife, I feel like it would take a pretty selfless woman to help him out of his alcoholic depression and make a somewhat working marriage. Margaery may have been capable of such, we can't really say as she was just a 14/15yo stranger when her family made this scheme with Renly and being queen to a child king is much different, but I don't think Cersei would have ever been up to that, even if she was a good person when she married Bobby, which she wasn't. Definitely the Scarlett O'Hara of Westeros imo. Without Jaime to make her less miserable, she might have murdered Robert a lot sooner.

Speaking of Renly (the only Baratheon bro who wouldn't be hellish as a husband imo) and Marg, Taena seems to be implying that Renly had a boner because it was Loras who carried his naked sister to the bed. (Again, wtf is with the bedding ceremony? and I don't really see how this kind of shit-stirring helps the Tyrells.) I find it interesting that Cersei disbelieves Marg's virginity just because she's projecting her own sexual experience onto her rival and she doesn't believe Renly wouldn't share Robert's appetites even if he preferred to be with Loras, not because she finds the idea of any unconsummated marriage like that to be a blatant fiction. Because if we accept the possibility of delayed consummation, I think it was more likely part of the agreement between Renly and the Tyrells, to wait until he actually had the throne, rather than just Renly being scared of boobies. I could see Olenna coming up with that idea and Mace agreeing to that particular input about Renly, because whatever else he is, Mace is a cautious gambler as seen with his actions during Robert's Rebellion, and this would be a safer course for his family. Nobody could have predicted Renly dying the way he did, but he still could have been killed in battle with Stannis or the Lannisters, or choked on food or fell from his horse or whatever before ever sitting the throne, and while a widow of the king who ruled being preggo is an advantage, not so for the widow of a rebel pretender. Hard to lead a campaign around an infant figurehead even if it's a boy, even harder when the baby is still unborn. All that really does is put a target on the mother's back for the other claimants, and the Lannisters are known for murdering women and children. Whereas swearing that there was no way she could be pregnant by Renly allowed the Tyrells to betroth Marg again right away, to their former Lannister enemies no less.

On 4/6/2019 at 6:22 AM, YaddaYadda said:

Actually, one of the things that I wondered about is why Cersei, who is the Lady of the Rock now, didn't decide to pay parts of the crown's debts with her family's gold. We're constantly told the Lannisters have more gold than they know what to do with.

Presumably because she knows that's one thing Tywin would never do, because unlike arming the Faith this specific issue would have come up during his lifetime. Kevan only thinks of it as a very last resort if they can't repair relations with the Iron Bank, because he's worried higher taxes would encourage more rebellion. 

Quote

Aurane had asked her leave to name her Lord Tywin, which Cersei had been pleased to grant. She looked forward to hearing men speak of her father as a "she." Another of the ships would be named Sweet Cersei, and would bear a gilded figurehead carved in her likeness, clad in mail and lion helm, with spear in hand. Brave Joffrey, Lady Joanna, and Lioness would follow her to sea, along with Queen Margaery, Golden Rose, Lord Renly, Lady Olenna, and Princess Myrcella. The queen had made the mistake of telling Tommen he might name the last five. He had actually chosen Moon Boy for one. Only when Lord Aurane suggested that men might not want to serve on a ship named for a fool had the boy reluctantly agreed to honor his sister instead.

I assume Lord Renly and Lady Olenna were both Tyrell suggestions. I doubt Tommen prioritized honoring them over Myrcella. Moon Boy could well have been his only original pick.

I love that this chapter ends with Cersei bursting into spontaneous, maniacal laughter in front of Marg like a cartoon witch.

Edited by Lady S.
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