September 23, 2011

A new review after the reread

The reread of "A Dance with Dragons" is now complete, and it was a fun journey. I developed a deeper understanding of the book, the characters in it and the greater story arc involved. This blog will not publish new posts after this one. You can continue to read work from me on The Tower of the Hand. The comments for posts on this blog will stay active, and I will continue to answer them. That being said, let's return to the issue at hand: a review of "A Dance with Dragons" after it has been reread. To say the least, the second read was a whole lot different from the first read. That was of course true of the other books as well, but in the current volume a number of issues fell together, making the statement necessary. There was a lot of hate out there after people had read the book, and I joined into some of it especially regarding the chapters taking place in the east. That was, I have to admit however, unjustified. "A Dance with Dragons" is a piece of art, much like the other books, and the widespread disappointment could not have happened like that if not for unrealistically high expectations. I confess myself guilty on that account too, of course.

The expectations were unrealistic simply because we knew from the start that the book would be the second part of what was "A Feast for Crows", which gave way to the same disappointed expectations only to be later redeemed after it had sunk into people's mind and reread several times. It's much the same with "A Dance with Dragons". When I stated earlier that it was "a piece of art", I meant it. Martin's writing skills, the great characters and the general storyline aside, are visible throughout the whole book. We already know his stunning ability to tell the story from the point-of-view of his characters, to play with the knowledge they have, with rumors and predjudices. This challenges the reader to question what he thinks he knows, and to gather the whole picture together from various sources and inclinations.

September 22, 2011

Epilogue

Ian Gelder as Kevan Lannister in HBOs Game of Thrones
Red Ronnett is standing in the throne room before the Iron Throne. The Small Council has convened. He fervently pledges his loyalty to Tommen, offering to lead an army south himself to beat Jon Connington. Kevan dismisses him and confines him to his chambers before attending the next matter. He has the feeling that the two queen's presence, although their not here, lurks in the room, glooming the mood. Randyll Tarly states that the men Ronnett came with were unruly guys of Gregor's, and that only the Wall is fit for such when Kevan proposes to put them in the Goldcloaks. Kevan himself thinks that the Tyrells try to keep out Westerlanders from positions of power, but he doesn't speak it out loud.

The matter at hand now is Storm's End, to which Connington is headed if the reports can be believed. Mace Tyrell boasts that even if Connington took it it would mean nothing, since he would simply retake it - after the trial. Randyll Tarly doesn't believe in the rumors of the Golden Company and says that even if it were them they would pose no threat. Kevan remembers back in the days of the rebellion when he met Jon Connington, an arrogant but able youth back then, and is convinced that the years have made him more dangerous. He was convinced that after he lost the Battle of the Bells, Aerys would turn back to Tywin, but instead Aerys tumbled into his downfall.

September 21, 2011

Daenerys X

Daenerys Targaryen (Artwork by Amoka)
Dany climbs down a stony hill which she dubbed "Dragonstone", since Drogon made his lair there. For days, she tried to live alongside the dragon, and she is pretty weak now. Since she saw a stream in the distance, she is now determined to follow it as long as it takes to reach the big river flowing to Meereen and thereby returning to her city. She was not able to control the dragon. Hungry and exposed to the cold nights of autumn, she walks the Dothraki Sea, drying up around her. While she walks, her mind wanders. She remembers her first journey through the grass as part of Drogo's khalasaar. Then she thinks of it breaking up after his death, og khal Pono, khal Jaqho and khal Mago making away with parts of the Dothraki. After that, she remembers the pit of Meereen, how she climbed on Drogon, enjoying the flight but unable to control the dragon. Hoping against hope, she longs for the rescue parties, imagining Daario finding her. She is convinced that the Yunkai'i are marching home by now, honoring the peace, and that Daario is safe.

At nightfall, she makes herself a bed of grass in the old ruins of a village. Falling asleep, she wonders who it was that poisoned her, whether it was Hizdahr or the Shavepate or the Green Grace. In the night, she has a vision of Qaithe talking to her from the stars, reminding her who she really is, and what. The next morning, ants are crawling over her and biting her. She gets up, shakes them off and walks again. She is hungry, and when she comes by some berries, she casts all caution aside and eats them. The rest of the day she spends retching green slime. That night, she dreams of Viserys, who blames her for his fate and calls her names.

September 20, 2011

The Queen's Hand

Ian McElhinney as Barristan Selmy in HBOs GOT
Quentyn Martell is dead, after three days of fighting death. The dragons he loosened have burned parts of Meereen and made their home in two of the pyramids. Only the rains gave quelched the flames in the city. Looking at Quentyn's burned body, Barristan muses about the death by fire and how ugly it is. He admires Missandei for being with the prince day and night and wonders if Dany is dead at all, fiercely denying it without putting his doubts to rest.

When the Shavepate enters, his mind shifts to questions of politics. The Green Grace whom Barristan send to the Yunkai'i to negotiate for release of the hostages has not yet returned. The Yunkish demands to restore Hizdahr to his throne and to slay the dragons still stand. Since the imprisonment of Hizdahr, the Sons of the Harpy have taken up their killings again, and the toll of the current night and day alone has reached 23, as the Shavepate reports, who demands hostages to be killed instead of Barristan's way to collect blood money from the pyramids. Barristan declines and calls the council into session.

September 19, 2011

Jon XIII

Lord Commander Jon Snow and Ghost
Jon is pleading Selyse to help him with Hardhome and grant him some men, but Selyse declines all his asking by demanding that he simply let the wildlings die. When Jon says that he will do the ranging himself then she lets him, but tells him that he will have to answer for it and other things once Stannis is back. She then summons "the king of the wildlings", which turns out to be Gerrick Redbeard, a far descendant of Raymun Readbeard. His daughters are to be married to knights of Selyse's court, and she demands that Val marries Ser Patrek, but Jon simply deflects it by saying that he needs to rob her then after wildling custom. Selyse's answer is to summon Val to teach her the proper behavings of a lady, and Jon is dismissed.

Angrily, he makes his way to his chambers. Out of the court, he encounters Melisandre, but he doesn't want to speak with her, accusing her of all her prophecies being wrong. She asks after Ghost, whom Jon has locked up in his rooms since Borroq's boar seems to make him mad. She also says the ranging is a bad idea, and that she saw in the fires that all ships were lost, but Jon turns her down and goes to the armory. On the way he seeks out Leathers, with whom he has a short discussion about how many men they should take and where the advantages of either approach lie. He gets a report that Ghost is wild, even biting the stewards, which disturbs Jon deeply.

September 16, 2011

The Dragontamer

Quentyn Martell (Copyright by FFG)
Quentyn can't sleep. He is restless before the task before him, pacing the room. He tries to convince himself of what he is doing. To test himself, he holds his hand over a candle flame, but it burns him like it's supposed to be. Gerris wakes at his calamity, telling him that he should calm down, preferrably by fucking a woman. Quentyn is appalled, but Gerris drives home the point that he is no experience with women and that Daenerys needs a man. Besides, he makes the point that she is married anyway, but Quentyn tries to argue that she doesn't love Hizdahr, a claim he knows is of no relevance, which Gerris confirms. Quentyn thinks about his father, Doran, who rued the love marriage he made for years and years. He thinks about their plan, calling it an adventure with him as hero in the center, mourns the death of his three companions and goes back to bed full of regrets.

The following night, they mask themselves as Brazen Beasts. Pretty Meris told them the password of the day, and they can enter the pyramid without interference. Inside, they meet with Meris and other Windblown, who have brought two big carts full of meat and chains to prepare the dragons to leave. After a short exchange, they go down to the pit. The guards in front of the door there clearly have another password, as they attack the moment Quentyn calls their own. The ensuing fight is won by the Windblown easily enough, but Quentyn escaped death only by a hair since he is terrified to the bone once the slaughter commences.

September 15, 2011

The Kingbreaker

Ian McElhinney as Barristan Selmy in HBOs GOT
In the black of night, the Shavepate and Ser Barristan meet to discuss their further actions one last time. They want to take the king captive and try to prove his guilt. The Shavepate is not happy with that, since he would like to kill Hizdahr and then attack the Yunkai'i by surprise, but Barristan has none of it, claiming it has no honor. The Shavepate finally yields to the point. The leader of the Brazen Beasts, Marghaz, is according to him already disposed, so they only need to strike. Before they agree to attack in a few hours, they have another discussion about Daario and the hostages. The Shavepate wants not to free Daario since the mercenary is trouble, but Barristan still feels bound to Daenerys' will and can't imagine that she would let harm come to him. The Shavepate also wants to kill hostages if their own hostages are not returned, but Barristan doesn't want to kill the kids, getting a bad feeling and memories of the death of Rhaegar's children in his mouth.

While Barristan prepares himself, he muses about his knights. Two of them are near completion of their training, but he wants to postpone their knighthood until the deed is done for their own good. Others will require more training, some are of no use at all. His mind then wanders to the intrigue he is now part of, and he wonders how he ended up in it in the first place. Without a satisfactory answer, his mind goes over to the turney of Harrenhal and the role that Aerys II and Rhaegar played in it, and then on to Ashara Dayne, the only woman he ever loved but had to let go to Stark. After he finished a bath, he arms himself and starts the venture.

September 14, 2011

Tyrion XII

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in HBOs Game of Thrones
Tyrion is signing notes. Over fifty of them lie before him, each promising gold to the bearer. While he signs them, the sums grow bigger and bigger. He quips with Inkpot, the paymaster, and Brown Ben Plumm. They shoot witty remarks at each other of trust and honor, but in the end, Tyrion signs everything, thinking that he will be a beggar if he ever gets Casterly Rock. The last note, Ben Plumm's, promised 100.000 dragons, a castle, lands and a lordship. After all the signing is done, Tyrion signs himself into the book of the company, becoming a mercenary. He and Penny then go to the wagons where the company keeps their storage of armor and weapons.

Penny is devestated due to the loss of Crunch and Pretty Pig. Tyrion heard that the beasts were killed, but he shielded Penny from the news so far. Tyrion fears for a moment she might be ill with the pale mare; however, it seems to be psychological. They are led to the company steel by a boy named Kem, whom Tyrion indentifies of being from King's Landing and who fought with Stannis and was left behind. He hates Tywin Lannister, and Tyrion mocks him without the boy even knowing. At the steel wagons, they encounter Ser Jorah, who looks frightening in his new steel and seems to have overcome his prior weakness.

September 13, 2011

Cersei II

Cersei Lannister (Artwork by Amoka)
Cersei restlessly paces her cell. She was unable to sleep the whole night, frightened of the things to come. She has decided to face it as bold as she can, remembering an episode from her youth when she faced a lion in a cage where Jaime dared not to. She muses about Jaime, wishing he was here, and hoping that she reaches the Red Keep soon. When dawn finally breaks, some septas come into the cell and shave her completely. When Cersei asks for sandals, they are denied to her. She is then put into a white septa's robe and ushered outside, where a huge crowd has gathered. A knight of the Faith Militant introduces himself as Ser Theodan and commands her escort through the city. Memories of Eddard's execution wash over here as she stands the exact same spot.

The masses that assembled to watch her walk of shame are poor, ragged and filthy. The septas announce her and her crimes, and she has to think of Tytos' Lannisters consort, who had to walk the same walk of shame at the command of Tywin. She has to get out of her robe, and completely naked, freezing in the cold winds, she commences her walk through the city. The streets are filthy, and she is in danger to slip several times and does so once or twice. While her escorts clears a path through the people who cry insults at her and throw rotten vegetables, she longs for Jaime, who, she is certain, would have cut down the rabble in an instant.

September 12, 2011

The Ugly Little Girl

Maisie Williams in HBOs Game of Thrones
In the house of the Many-Faced-God, a meeting is conducted between eleven of his servants. Arya and another acolyte stand by with water and whine, ready to serve. The servants are talking in hushed voices, telling each other names and stating whether they know him or not. People they don't know they declare to deliver the gift to. After the meeting, one of the servants lingers, a man with a face full of marks of a plague. He talks to her, asking who she is, calling her a liar when she tells him that she's no one and hitting her when she chews her lip. He asks her if she wants to kill, and chides her when she is not certain. He tells her she is too proud to serve, which she declines.

He tells her that if she wants to serve the Many-Faced-Gods, she needs to give up everything. Arya states that she wants to be able to change her face, to which the man replies that this ability needs to be earned. She is asked to kill someone, and the next day, she starts observations as Cat of the Canals. As the days go by, she discusses the case with the kind man, trying to find out why someone wants the man dead. In the end, however, the conclusion is that it doesn't matter and that she has to bring the gift, period. Watching the victim, she learns that he is in the insurance business, insuring ships against going down and thereby giving the widows a possibility to live on - if he doesn't cheat them.

September 09, 2011

Victarion

Victarion Greyjoy (Artwork by Amoka)
The Iron Fleet on its way to Meereen is capturing a Ghiscari galley. Its captain is brought before Victarion, whom he tells that Daenerys is missing, likely dead, and that Hizdahr rules now. Since Moqorro told Victarion that Dany is alive, he lets the captain's tongue be torne out for lying and then be drowned. Moqorro is clad in black and gold cloth now, the Greyjoy colors. He has proven to be of great worth for Victarion, correctly predicting many events from weather to prizes. Ironmen critizizing Moqorro or not believing in him are put to the leash. The following day, yet another ship is taken, repeating the story. Victarion learns of the Volantene fleet heading to Meereen, but they outdistanced them.

When on the following day two galleys are captured, Victarion routinely has the crew killed, but the rowing slaves are freed - he shatters the chains himself - and told that they may now row for the Iron Fleet. Victarion sees himself in line with Daenerys with this action and is under the impression of being protected by two gods now, the Drowned God and the Fiery God. He rewards Moqorro for further correct predictions. He is then facing a difficult strategic decision of either risking the strait of Yaros or to sail around it, losing days. Based on Moqorros prediction, he risks them. They capture additional galleys and get the same information about Dany. Victarion harbors the hope of besting Dagon Greyjoy, ruling a hundred years ago and waging war against the Great Houses too.

September 08, 2011

The Sacrifice

Asha Greyjoy
In the deep and howling snows, preparations are made for a sacrifice to R'hollor. Asha observes them, shivering. An argument breaks out between some of Stannis' men and some Flints about who send the snows and which god needs to be appeased, and which one was the right. One man overseeing the preparations, Sluggs, is a brute and sadist, eager to see humans burn. It is said that the sacrifice will calm the storms. When the four prisoners are ushered to the stakes naked, Asha thinks about why they are here: they cannibalized on a frozen dead and were caught. The oldest of the four insults Sluggs so hard that sluggs kills him before they burn him. Asha hopes that she can do the same trick once it's her turn.

When the king comes out in company Arnolf Karstark, who arrived only eight days past, the burning commences. It's a gruesome sight, and Asha, accustomed to sacrifices by slicing the throat of the victim, can hardly stand it. The accompanying prayer is led by Ser Godry. Asha knows that her chances are bad. The Northeners hate her to the bone, and the Southeners might sacrifice her to stop the snows. When the knight of Massey comes to court her again, Sluggs mocks him, but he doesn't care and invites Asha to eat. There are few horses left, and soon they will be gone, so Asha accepts and follows him to the hall.

September 07, 2011

The Griffin Reborn

Lord Jon Connington
Jon Connington is sending in his archers. In his years in exile he learned to treasure them, despite the little honor that can be found in their ways. 1000 archers are with the Golden Company, six hundred made their way to Westeros so far. The Summer Islander, sixty in total, are the best of them. The order Connington issues them is to shoot down all ravens that try to take wing from Griffin's Roost. Then the attack starts. The castle, laying at the end of a land bridge, is poorly manned and defended. The attackers lose only four men; then the castle is theirs. After three attempts to send a raven, the maester's tower is stormed and the maester thrown out the window.

Connington issues further commands to his men. They are to capture all people, if possible alive. No one is to escape. He points out hideouts and secret passages to them, so they succeed easily. Connington knows that it won't stay as easy, but Griffin's Roost provides a good base to them and can be hold against twenty times their numbers. Of course he doesn't intend to bunker down here. While he looks at his former castle, memories come up of a visit of Rhaegar, back when they were both young. He loves the lands that once belonged to Griffin's Roost, which are lost to the family now. He tells himself that he lost them overreaching.

September 06, 2011

The Spurned Suitor

Quentyn Martell (Copyright by FFG)
Gerris Drinkwater returns from an errand. He says he was succesful and that the lowlife he visited took his gold. He trusts that the message he gave him is delivered safely. In an advice to Quentyn, he says that when Barristan the Bold tells you to run, you should run, but Quentyn declines the chance, saying that he won't accept defeat. He weighs the thought for a moment, but the image of his father's disappointment is more than he can bear. The talk shifts to the happless guy who tried to kill Drogon in the arena. Half the city sees a hero in him, the other half despises him. Quentyn believes that he can succeed in taming the dragons. After all, he has Targaryen blood in him and traces his lineage back long enough.

They leave soon after to their destination. It turns out that they want to meet Pretty Meris. They don't encounter any problems entering in the safe house they were named, and in the cellar, they meet not only Pretty Meris and two of her men, but the Tattered Prince himself. The mercenary is surprisingly calm, scolding them lightly for deserting him. He goes on with a monologue about being cheated by the Dornishmen, and not being able to trust them. Between his lines, Quentyn tries to offer him a treaty. He wants the services of the Windblown. He offers to pay them in Volantis and the rest in Dorne. Again, the Tattered Prince goes on about their trustworthiness. In the end, they settle down to the price of Pentos, which the Tattered Prince wants for himself. Quentyn then reveals what for he needs the services of the Windblown: he wants to steal a dragon.

September 05, 2011

The Discarded Knight

Ian McElhinney as Barristan Selmy in HBOs GOT
Barristan stands in the throne room as Hizdahr holds court. The king had two thrones made and erected, carved in the shape of dragons. He is still among the king's guards, and he dislikes the new commander of the Brazen Beasts, the king's cousin Marghaz zo Loraq. There is great unease in the hall, since the freedmen demand knowledge of Dany's whereabouts and don't acknowledge Hizdahr as king. Reznak's permanent assurances that she is searched for don't help, obviously. Looking at Quentyn Martell at the back of the hall, Barristan thinks he better should leave since Hizdahr might take him as a scapegoat.

Suddenly, Barristan nourishes the notion that Quentyn might have been the poisoner, aiming at Hizdahr, to shatter the peace and present himself as the only choice left. He is not sure, however. When embassadors from the Yunkai'i enter the hall, Barristan shifts his focus again. It's Bloodbeard, the leader of one of the free companies and with the death of the Yunkish commander now the big man in the camp outside the city. He has a big sack with him, producing the severed head of Admiral Groleo from it, throwing it at the feet of Hizdahr. Barristan, accustomed to such sights, closely watches Hizdahr, comparing his reaction to the kings he served so far. Hizdahr is stunned, not able to do anything.

September 02, 2011

Jon XII

Lord Commander Jon Snow and Ghost
Jon has a nightmare. He fights the wildlings attacking the Wall, alone, raining down fire on them and slaying them. He wears armor of black ice and has a burning red sword in hand. After killing wildlings, he slashes all the dead rangers - Benjen, the Old Bear, Qhorin and the others. When he wakes due to the raven pecking at his chest, he's confused. Musing about whether it really is a good idea to let the wildlings in, he walks outside. Today is the day the open the gate and let Tormund and his 4000 pass. He decides that he has to make a decision, and then stick with it, which is just what he does now when he approaches his officers.

Bowen Marsh reports in. Everything is prepared and in place. Jon issues the last orders, including to Edd Tollet who makes back to Longbarrow, complaining as usual. He surrounds himself with some seasoned brothers as guards, including Leathers. That's unusual, and he doesn't like this tail, but he sees the need for a show of force. He then gives the command to open the gate and rides out to meet Tormund. The two leaders have a short exchange about fear, with Tormund stating that now that everyone sees Jon they will lose some of the awe they have of the Watch, and Jon replying by calling Ghost at his side. The transition from beyond the Wall in the realms of men then starts with the 100 hostages.

September 01, 2011

Tyrion XI

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in HBOs Game of Thrones
The noble Yezzan is sick. The sickness of the pale mare has taken him, and the slaves fear the fate that awaits them. Since Yezzan was one of the few Yunkish lords besides the commander, who died in the pit when Drogon attacked, the Yunkish are disposed to take up the war again. Tyrion knows that when Yezzan dies, they will have a big problem, since no heir will take his interest in grotesque slaves. Penny in the meantime is daydreaming, imaginaing searching for Daenerys in the Dornish Sea. While Sweets tries to rescue Yezzan, Tyrion remembers how Nurse got sick with the pale mare. He brought him a soup, used the mushrooms in it and killed him, whispering "a Lannister always pays his debts" in his ear while he died.

Tyrion grabs Penny and commands some slave soldiers outside to fetch water for Yezzan. The soldiers, aware that their position is more powerful, command Tyrion to do it in turn. Tyrion barters for the cart, insisting to take at least Mormont with them. The three then make their way to the wells with pails in hand and get in the line. Tyrion observes soldiers training and thinks that they don't look very professional, especially compared to the Unsullied. He thinks that the crossbows many soldiers are carrying now will be useless against dragons. Their weak point, he knows, are the eyes, not the underbelly or the gullet as often said.

August 31, 2011

The Iron Captain

Victarion Greyjoy (Artwork by Amoka)
Victarion is in a sullen mood. The ship "Grief" is showing up, alone. He has only 54 of the 99 ships that set sail to the Stepstones, and time is short. Volantis is ready to dispatch a fleet of over 300 ships, maybe as much as 500, and he needs to reach Meereen before them. Monkeys are a pest aboard his ship, populating the masts since they anchored before the Isle of Cedars. His hand hurts him badly, but he tries not to show it. He goes into his cabine to his dusk woman and lets her tend his wound, talking to her about the ships.

He seperated the fleet into three groups back at the Stepstones, the swiftest to go a southern route along the northern shore of Sothyros where they payed the iron price for their supplies in the rotten cities there. The slowest ships went by Lys, selling the prisoners took on the way and on the Shield Islands as slaves to buy provisions, while Victarion sailed along the Disputed Lands to Volantis and captured several fishing boats and cogs on the way.

August 30, 2011

The Queensguard

Ian McElhinney as Barristan Selmy in HBOs GOT
Selmy was dismissed from protecting the king. He observes that Hizdahr has relieved all of Daenerys' men, and that it's definitely on purpose. The excuse Reznak gave him - for the sake of appearances to the Yunkish - does not convince Barristan. He observes too, however, that Hizdahr's protectors are few, since he can't trust the Brazen Beasts despite having the Shavepate relieved of command, and the Unsullied refuse to obey him too. Only the pit fighters remain really loyal to him. The grey plague is still rampant within and without the city.

Selmy is disgusted by the appearances of the Meereenese nobles anyway, their perfume mainly. He observes too that he gets old. Walking up the steps of the pyramid lets his back ache, and he hopes that he can finish the training of his new generation of knights so Dany gets some suitable protectors. Barristan's thoughts wander to the moment he was knighted, and the feast that followed. He asks himself if he was fulfilling his vows too good, if the realm wouldn't have been served better if he had never done his greatest deed of Duskendale but instead let Aerys die and Rhaegar take over.

August 29, 2011

Cersei I

Cersei Lannister (Artwork by Amoka)
Cersei sits in her cell in the cold. She know has a new shift after destroying her first, and she is waiting for Jaime. The septas still don't talk to her, they only pray with her and read her from the Seven-Pointed-Star. She only gets some news from the outside by listening to the noise through her narrow window. Since the septons want her to pray, she prays much, not meaning it but trying to sway their favor. She still is asked to confess every hour and can't really sleep, and the food is scarce and bad. Finally, Cersei decides to confess to get out of the situation. She is allowed to sleep through, and in the morning is brought before the High Septon. She gets some bit of information about the situation in the city.

Then she stands before the High Septon. The man treats her cold and without any courtesy besides the absolutely necessary. He resembles Tywin Lannister eerily. Cersei confesses that the she fucked Lancel and all three Kettleblacks, since it seems safe to her. Asked why she did it she says she wanted to protect Tommen since she couldn't trust the Kingsguard. When she weeps, the Septon is still not moved, simply waiting until she stops. It's clear that he doesn't really believe her. She denies the accusations of adultery while she was married to Robert and of giving the command of killing the High Septon. She also fiercly denies fucking Jaime.

August 26, 2011

Jon XI

Lord Commander Jon Snow and Ghost
Jon sits in a tent together with Tormund Giantsbane. They negotiate, and Tormund is furious, making a big show. In the end, they concede to a compromise. Tormund is not really happy, but Jon is neither, declaring that that's a good sign. Tormund pulls off his golden armrings, giving them to Jon as a first rate of payment. He tells him of his two sons who died in the battle and since then, telling Jon that despite the superficious resemblance with the old Tormund he has changed due to the events. He will be back in three days. When they step out of the tent, Jon muses about the sight of the Wall, thinking that it looks differently every time and that on this particular day, it looks beautiful. He also thinks of the dangers lurking for him, feeling safe with Ghost convinced that he needs no other protection.

Consequently, he calls the wolf at his side. With Ghost Val comes to him, clad all in white. They have a short exchange about him bedding her in jest, and it becomes clear that she intends to marry Torregg, Tormunds eldest son. Jon tells Val that now that she's back she will get rooms again - in Hardin's Tower, since the queen took the King's Tower - and freedom of the castle, but that she'll remain a captive. Jon is uneased by the bad shape in which Tormund's wildlings are, hungry, frozen and sickly. What he fears more are the reaction of the officer's to his treaty with Tormund, however. In his darkening mood, Val offers to help, which Jon thankfully accepts. He tells her that he needs her to get the support of the queen for the treaty with Tormund, and that he intends to got the queen now. On the way, he summons his commanders and the clan leaders on top of the Wall for the evening.

August 25, 2011

Daenerys IX

Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys prepares for the day in the fighting pits. Missandei pleads her not to go since people go there to see blood, but Dany thinks she has no choice. Irri and Jiqui on the other hand anticipate the event eagerly and discuss the fighters' chances. Barristan Selmy wants her to take Unsullied as guards instead of Brazen Beasts, but Daenerys replies that if the publicly doesn't trust them, the Meereenese wouldn't too. Barristan then tells her that the sellsword Meris was freed at her command, claiming that the Tattered Prince had wanted to go over all along, a plan spoiled by the Dornishmen. As a reward, he wants pentos. Dany declines that, neither trusting Meris or the Tattered Prince nor wanting to repay Illyrio's help with delivering Pentos to a sellword.

On the way to the pits, she is musing about the blood involved and the cruelty of it. When a litter bearer stumbles and falls, she commands that he is helped and fed. Hizdahr tells her that when he was a slave, he would have been beaten instead, and she tells herself to be happy about small victories. The car in which she and Hizdahr ride to the pits is full of sweets and other luxuries, and Belwas is happily eating some honeyed locusts, and Hizdahr tells her she needs to taste them herself. Dany declines, however, sickened enough by the prospect of the coming blood.

When they reach their seats, Hizdahr calls on the people to give a roar for Dany, and thousands shout out "mother" to her. She knows that they love the pits, however, and not her. She decreed that no children would die, another small victory, but there will be mock fights, follies and beast fights. At least the dead beasts will make stew for the poor. Then the fighting begins. Several cherished gladiators defeat their opponenets, an elephant kills several wolfes, then a mock battle of knights vs. Dothraki takes place. After the first folly comes, two dwarves jousting. One of them rides a sow, the other a dog. Their arms show Baratheon and Lannister to please Dany. When she learns that soon lions will be released to kill the unexpecting dwarves, she forbids it, and the mass shouts in disapproval.

August 24, 2011

Theon

Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy in HBOs Game of Thrones
The drum and warhorn sounds finally faded away, but snow is still falling. Nobody knows where Stannis is or how he creeped up to them. Theon sits in the great hall, watching Abel and his women and thinks that Abel's plan is quite mad. He then watches the lords eating. Especially Manderly is devouring one sausage after another. Ramsay is in a bad mood, looking aggressively. Theon walks over to Abel and tries to convince him to let go of his plan. Abel declines, and Theon thinks that Reek would have betrayed him to Ramsay, but he was acknowledged by the old gods as Theon. Abel promises Theon again that Ramsay won't get them. His plan, it becomes now clear, is to free the false Arya. He obviously doesn't know that it's not her, like seemingly everybody else, a fact that drives Theon to the point of despair.

Hosteen Frey now bumps into the hall. In his arms is another corpse, the one of a child: Little Walder was killed. Loudly, he demands revenge. Rowan, one of the washerwomen, tells Theon that it wasn't them who killed Walder. Big Walder suspects Manderly men responsible, and Wyman Manderly replies by saying that his death was a mercy, because elsewise he would have grown up as a Frey. That sparks fighting; Hosteen kicks the table into Manderly, draws his sword and slashes over his throat. Other men of both sides join the fighting, while Bolton tries to seperate them. When he finally succeeds, several are dead. He announces that Stannis is three days away and that they will attack on the morrow, with Manderly and Frey leading the van, since they thirst for blood so much.

August 23, 2011

Daenerys VIII

Daenerys Targaryen (Artwork by Amok)
The hall rings with the laughter and merriment of the Yunkish lords. Dany broods over her food, hating them. They celebrate the peace they have concluded, and the courses consists of all kinds of meat, tons of it. Hizdahr tries to calm her, telling her that they now have the peace they wanted. When she points out that the Yunkish mock her with the slave market outside the walls, he replies that they will be gone soon and that Meereen will stay free of slaves. Dany doesn't want to hear of it and watches the Yunkish, full of disdain. The captains of the four sellsword companies are there too, including Brown Ben Plumm. She would like to kill them all, but the Yunkish have hostages in return.

The Shavepate is not in command of the Brazen Beasts anymore, as Dany remembers musing about the new situation. His family is in conflict with Hizdahr's. Daario was unruly before the wedding, and she is glad that he isn't there, although she doesn't like that he is one of the hostages. When Brown Ben Plumm comes near, she accuses of him of switching sides. Ben tells her the story of his first battle and draws some conclusions: you should never trust a sellsword, and sellswords don't want to die. He then leaves after Dany threatens to kill him, and Barristan comes. He tells her that Ben is right. Dany asks if there are possibilities to sway the companies, but Barristan doesn't know of such things.

It is clear that Dany doesn't expect the peace to last long. After asking Barristan about the possibility of sellsword desertion, she commands that the captured Windblown are released to confuse their enemies and prepare the ground a bit. She then states that the Yunkish grow weaker every day since the flux ravages in their camp. Barristan doesn't want to know of these plans; he suggests to take the Dornish road, to leave Meereen and use the Dornish for an attack on King's Landing. Dany declines, however, since she doesn't believe in the strenght of Dorne. She summons Quentyn and takes him down to the dragons, showing them to him. Quentyn is terrified, but he tries to hide it and tries to persuade her again of allying with him. She declines, however and goes back to the feast.  After the feast, she goes to bed with Hizdahr, letting him enjoy a short fuck before he falls to sleep. She can't sleep, however, and asks Missandei to tell her of her home and soothe her with stories about the good in the world.

August 22, 2011

Jon X

Lord Commander Jon Snow and Ghost
Snows rage the wedding ceremony. Melisandre leads the prayers to R'hollor, and the attendants go with them. Alys Karstark stands beside Jon, telling him that snow at a wedding means a cold marriage. Jon muses about Selyse and Stannis and their cold marriage, before regarding the knights in attendance, which are angry, sour and insolent. He muses about the black brothers deliberately staying away from the wedding: Othell Yarwick, Bowen Marsh and septon Chayle. Jon then leads Alys towards her new husband, Sigor, the Magnar of Thenn. While they exchange mutual marriage promises, Jon remembers the arrival of Cregan Karstark at the Wall the day after Alys came. He intercepted him before Mole's Town so he couldn't claim guest right or ask for parley, and imprisoned him to the ice cells.

The marriage comes to an end now, with the two exchanging bride mantles. The Magnar has an improvised one with arms resembling those of Karstark a bit, for his new house of Thenn. Before Jon can go to the feast, however, he has matters to attend to. He goes to Selyse and Melisandre. Selyse shuns his offer to let Satin bring her to the hall, and the contempt of the knights over Satin is visible. He then shortly talks to Melisandre, asking her if she sees Stannis, but she says she sees only snow when she searches for the king or Mance. When Jon asks if she would feel if Stannis was dead, Melisandre answers that he can't be dead since he is Azor Ahai reborn. She states that she always sees Jon in the flames, surrounded by skulls and daggers, and Jon interrupts her, not wanting to hear it.

August 19, 2011

Jaime

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in HBOs Game of Thrones
Jaime is riding through the Blackwood valley. In the distance, Ravenwood castle can be seen, the seat of house Blackwood, currently under siege by house Bracken. Jaime observes how old the castle is, defying even the popular wisdom that round towers better deflect catapult missiles. The siege itself is small scale and seems to be content with starving out the Blackwoods. Jaime rides directly to Bracken's tent and enters it without announcing himself. Consequently, he finds Bracken fucking a wench. On observing Jaime, he hastily gets in his clothes, while the girl tries to taunt Jaime into taking her as well, but Jaime dismisses her and usheres her out.

When Bracken is fully clothed, he promises that Raventree will fall before the month is out, but Jaime replies that it will fall today and that he means to talk Blackwood into submission. Bracken wants that Jaime fulfills Tywin's promises, which extend over many Blackwood lands that should go over to Bracken. Jaime says that he will look that Bracken gets some of it, but certainly not everything, since he is a coward on the one hand for changing sides so easily and on the other hand hasn't delivered Blackwood yet, leaving him doing the deed. As he departs, Bracken suggests that he takes the only daughter of Blackwood as a hostage to King's Landing. Jaime gets into a small argument about honor and pardons, but Bracken only states that his king was dead and the cause lost and there was no reason to die for it any more.

August 18, 2011

Tyrion X

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in HBOs Game of Thrones
Tyrion and Penny are called on the auction block. Slaves are sold right below the walls of Meereen. Tyrion still suffers from whipping wounds receives by the slavers, but he thinks Jorah, who was beaten to the point of death, got it much worse. The auction begins as a great show, and the bids are rising. Their seller is clever, initiating a new round of bidding when it turns down. In the end, two bidders remain, one of them being an obscenely fat Yunkish lord, the other a sellsword. Finally, the Yunkish lord has the bigger purse. Tyrion tries to rise the price again by shouting out his worth, but he only gets laughs and the whip.

A retainer of the Yunkish lord introduces the latter as Yezzan and himself as Nurse. He tells them that they need to obey or be punished, and carries them to the Yunkish camp which is build in a crescent around Meereen. When Tyrion glances Jorah Mormont brought on the auction block behind them, he convinces Nurse that Mormont is an essential part of their show and needs to be bought too. After the deed is done, Tyrion wonders why he did it and muses about that Jorah was broken by the news that Daenerys wed.

August 17, 2011

A Ghost in Winterfell

Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy in HBOs Game of Thrones
A dead man was found at daylight, half buried in snow and frozen. The lords blame him for his death, being drunk and having slipped, but Theon doesn't believe it. As he walks the castle, he reflects the situation. The mood of everyone is bad; lords and commons alike. The food supplies dwindle, the snows don't stop, and no one has heard anything from Stannis. About the king there are more and more discussions, and a freerider gets executed for musing about the powers of Melisandre. Theon himself, as he enters the hall, is again approached by one of Abel's washerwomen, who tries to find out how he took the castle. Theon suspects that Abel wants to flee, but he keeps his mouth shut for fear of retribution.

Growing uncomfortable in the crowded hall, Theon leaves it and walks about the snowy battlements, looking out in the snowstorm. He thinks of jumping the eighty feet down into the snow, thinking that he might survive it, fearing the consequences if he did and finally returning to the hall. In the following days, new dead turn up every morning. The lords blame the drunkenness of the soldiers every time, but nobody really believes it. Over table, an argument starts between the lords Manderly and Hosteen Frey. Frey blames Manderly for it, and again accuses him of having killed the three Freys that were in White Harbor, but Manderly shoots back insults. Before a real fight can break out, other knights interfere and seperate the two. Theon thinks that he saw a hint of fear and unease in Roose Bolton's eyes.

August 16, 2011

The Blind Girl

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in HBOs Game of Thrones
Arya is dreaming a wolf dream. Nymeria is killing some sheep, the dogs guarding them and their sheperd, not fearing men and feasting on their flesh as well as on mutton. When she wakes up, she is still blind and prepares for another day. She has by now learned to know her surroundings and effects by touch, so she can take on her clothing without a problem, even getting the white and black sock on the appropriate foot. Her own hunger drives her to the kitchens. She not only knows the way there by know, she can also smell them and know from the smell what food is cooked. When she sits down eating, she savors the tasted and the feeling of the food, thinking about how she learned to use her other senses since she lost her sight.

She then goes to the kind man, who asks her which three new things she learned out in the streets of Braavos, begging. She tells him some rumors about the expected passing of the current Sealord and his predecessor, but the kind man chides her for not really knowing, but only thinking. She then begins to go about her duties, using a stick to compensate her missing eyes. While she walks through the temple, she remembers the first days and weeks of being blind. The lying game was much harder, but now she can literally hear lies. She got scraped and bruises, which aren't a problem today. Her main duty, which she goes about now, is to find the dead in the temple and to bring them down into the cellars, where she strips them for valuables. This work sometimes takes most of the day. She has no fear at all of the dead. While she goes about her work in a lonely cellar, she suddenly is attacked by someone with a stick who taunts her for not seeing nor hearing. She tries to defend herself, getting hit several times before managing to counter one of the strikes for the first time. The attacker vanishes as suddenly as he came, leaving her to her chores again.

August 15, 2011

Jon IX

Lord Commander Jon Snow and Ghost
Selyse Baratheon arrives at Castle Black with her retinue. She mistakes Jon in the beginning, being not pleased with his young age. Axell Florent and some other knights are with her, and Jon is not well disposed towards the former, having received bad rumors about him from Eastwatch. The most peculiar member of the party is the Braavosi banker Tycho Nestoris. After sorting out the initial mistake, Selyse arrogantly demands to be brought to the King's Tower. On the way there, Jon tells her that Eastwatch is more comfortably than the Nightfort, but Selyse hates Cotter Pyke, a feeling that Jon knows is mutual.

On the yard, the party runs into Wun Wun, who has learned some words in the Common Tongue and kneels before the queen. She and her party are disgusted nonetheless, demanding why he is alive, and are not happy when Jon tells them that he enjoys the same guest right as the queen and her knights. When Patchface startles Wun Wun and falls on his back, the giant laughs, and all knights draw their swords. One especially tells Jon bluntly that he, Ser Patrek, would kill Wun Wun if he would be allowed, but Jon silences him again with the guest right argument. The queen continues alone after that.

August 13, 2011

Daenerys VII

Daenerys Targaryen
Dany can't sleep. While the night is slowly pushed away by the upcoming day, she watches Daario beside her in bed, naked, admiring his body and arousing herself. She is in love with the sellsword, and while thinking about simply escaping with him she is realistic enough to concede to the fact that Daario loves the queen, not her alone. Two nights are left before she has to wed Hizdahr zo Loraq, and she dreads the day. When Daario awakes, he propses that she married him instead, but she dismisses the thought right away. They shortly talk about the city, and Daario states that half of the people are hers, regarding her as her mother, a thought that makes Dany uncomfortable. Daario then tells her that there are some Westerosi sellswords come over from the Windblown who asks for an audience with her, claiming they have a gift for her. She allows them for the day after tomorrow, curious about them.

The next night, Dany sleeps bad, having nightmares about Hizdahr and their marriage. When she opens the court the following morning, the Green Grace approaches her, scolding her for sleeping with Daario in barely hidden words. Dany is struck by it, barely avoiding a scandal by blaming Brown Ben Plumm. Daario then lets forward the Westerosi. Three Dornish talk last, claiming that they are knights and travelling under false name, a fact that Daario clearly didn't know and that angers him. They ask for a private word, and the court is cleared. Two of the knights then present themselves as Gerris Drinkwater and Archibald Yronwood, the third - Frog - claiming that he wants to present his gift first. He gives her a rolled up parchment, which turns out to be the secret marriage contract for her and Quentyn and Viserys and Aryanne. Frog then presents himself as Quentyn Martell, asking for her hand. Skahaz and Daario both speak up against it; Skahaz claiming that she needs a king of Ghiscari blood, Daario telling her that the three are worthless as are their promises. Dany declines, stating the obvious: she is to marry tomorrow.

August 12, 2011

The King's Prize

Asha Greyjoy
Stannis' host is marching towards Winterfell. Asha is its captive, bound in chains atop a cart. They have to cover 300 miles to Winterfell, which they should be able to do in 15 days as the raven flies. While she remembers the boasting of some warriors about doing it in ten days, she muses about Stannis' relationship to women, concluding that he is uncomfortable with every one of them, but especially with warrior maidens, and that he seems to regard them as members of another race. On the journey, she overhears a strategy debate of some knights being certain that if they bloodied Bolton, the northmen would go over to them since they hate the Dreadfort lord. Interestingly, Arya has a suitor, Ser Justin, who wants to marry her to get to the throne of the Iron Islands.

In the beginning, the host is making good pace, lighting nightfires every evening to pray to R'hollor. These prayers are led mostly by Ser Godry, the "Giantslayer". Her guard is Alysane Mormont, the She-Bear, who tells her of her children and the hard life on Bear Isle, made harder still by the reavers from the Iron Islands. When she is brought before the king once, Asha pleads to him to release her of the chains and to make her one his men, promising him to sway Dagmer Cleftjaw and thereby bring Torrhen's Square to his cause, but Stannis dismisses it, stating that Torrhen's Square is worthless and shunning her for mentioning Robert.

August 11, 2011

The Turncloak

Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy in HBOs Game of Thrones
In Winterfell's rebuilt Great Hall, Roose Bolton holds a short speech about how the old gods of the North will destroy Stannis, for he is not of the North, and all northmen in the hall are making great noise about it. The only ones silent are Theon Greyjoy and the Freys, who are not particulary happy with the situation, having lost three members of their family to the winter snows already. Theon is desperate about the situation, but he has nothing to go, even if he could flee the castle. As a result, he gives in the desperation. When Abel the bard starts singing a song, Theon muses about the false Arya, and how she is repeatedly beaten by Ramsay. She wasn't seen since the wedding and sobs most of the time, and wild rumors are rampant about her being tied to the bed post naked.

Theon is pulled out of his thoughts when one of Abel's washerwomen asks him to dance, and when he refuses - fearing to make a fool of himself since he lost toes and isn't able to dance anymore - she instead asks that he tells her of his conquest of Winterfell and how he performed it. Theon isn't in the mood to tell her, however, regretting the deed too much to boast with it. Although he desperately wants to fuck the woman, he holds himself back, knowing that Ramsay might do bad things to him. He leaves the hall, wandering around the castle where snowmen are built everywhere by the squires. He finally comes into the godswood, feeling that it is haunted by ghosts and leaving it again. On his way, he concludes the chances that Stannis has: none. Bolton has the walls of Winterfell, still formidable, ample supplies and firewood for half a year, while Stannis has nothing of the sort.

August 10, 2011

Tyrion IX

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in HBOs Game of Thrones
Tyrion is riding Penny's pig, wearing the grotesque painted wooden armor of her dead brother. He feels utterly absurd. They are tilting on the deck of their ship, trying to lift the mood of the sailors. The ship is captured in a calm for days now, and the mood of the sailors has worsened beyond a doubt. After the show, which required him to be knocked out of the saddle, he has a short exchange with Ser Jorah, who mocks him for it, and then talks to Penny who tells him that they were good and that they will get better. Before they can talk more, the captain commands the crew in the boats to row the ship farther north in hope of finding a breeze.

After the clamor has calmed down, Tyrion finds himself opposite to Jorah again. Jorah asks him mockingly if he hopes to get a pardon of Daenerys by performing for her, and Tyrion answers that indeed he does, stating that his chances are much better than Jorah's who ran away because he was spying on her. Jorah, not amused, hits him so hard over the face that he breaks a tooth. He then tells Tyrion that he doesn't want to see him again until they reach Meereen and that he has to sleep elsewhere. Tyrion subsequently goes into Penny's cabin, where he warns Penny to stay away from love, since it is truly dangerous, and cling to her maidenhead. He also mutters that there is nothing more dangerous than the generosity of kings.

August 09, 2011

Jon VIII

Lord Commander Jon Snow and Ghost
Jon Snow and Val stand at the Wall. He intends to send her to Tormund, to try to persuade him to come south of the Wall too, and fears that Stannis's wroth will follow him, since he promised him to never let Val out of his sight. Val promises to be back, and Jon believes her, hoping she does before Stannis gets back. Val asks Jon after the death of her betrothed Jarl, who died falling from the Wall, and after Jon confirmed the tale and that he hadn't killed him, Val believes him. Jon tells her that she should come back for the little boy at least, with Val replying that the child is no kin to her, dubbing it "monster" as a milk name. She then rides off.

On the way back to Castle Black, Jon muses about the woods which are completely hunted empty by now and how they will feed the hundreds and thousands of people they now have south of the Wall. Edd warns him of rumors abound that he means to give the Wall over to the wildlings, but Jon dismisses them, telling Edd that words are wind and wind is plenty on the Wall. Back in his chambers, Jon awaits the arrival of Bowen Marsh, Othell Yarwick and septon Celladore. They are obviously not happy about the latest events. Yarwick tells Jon that Selyse Baratheon wishes to leave Eastwatch to take her seat at the Nightfort, and that it's months and years before completion. Jon offers the service of the giant Wun Wun, with whom he conferres much these days with translations of Leathers, but Yarwick declines horrified.

August 08, 2011

The Watcher

Areo Hotah
Areo Hotah is guarding the Martells and Sand Snakes in the throne room of Sunspear, while court is in session. All eyes are on a chest in the hands of an envoy, and Hotah thinks that if the contents of the chest don't meet the expectations of the court, blood will flow. He makes himself ready. The chest is in the hands of Ser Balon Swann, and maester Caelotte moves toward him to take it over. Hotah thinks that Balon may be uglier than Arys Oakheart, but certainly more of a man and warrior and much more difficult to defeat than Oakheart. The chest is opened, and a large skull presented to everyone and put upon a marble column.

Some Sand Snakes engage Swann over the matter of death of Gregor Clegane, whose skull it is, and the matter of his death. The answers are not quite what satisfies them, but Doran Martell breaks the ice by proposing a toast to king Tommen. Hotah doesn't drink himself, carefully registrating who doesn't drink either: many of the most aggressive and unruly Dornish lords, mostly. Areo wonders why Doran ever set the Sand Snakes free again. He then observes that Aryanne has changed considerably since her release. He puts it largely on being chastened by captivity, but also acknowledges the effect of some unknown secret that her father has let her in.

August 06, 2011

The prince of Winterfell

Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy in HBOs Game of Thrones
Theon stands before the horrified Jeyne Poole, sent to take her to Ramsay. It's his task since he is the closest thing to a relative Arya Stark would have, and so he was clothed like a lord. While soothing Jeyne with empty lies about Ramsay's gentleness, he muses about the Boltons and Roose's promise to him to restore him to the lordship of the Iron Islands, which Theon thinks unlikely at best. Hearing the music outside growing more adamant, he takes Jeyne out to the godswood, where Ramsay and the wedding guests are placed in the trailing mists. He remembers his youth around the trees of the godswood and how he first kissed a girl and later lost his virginity here, before he finally gives the bride over to Ramsay in a ritualized exchange of words.

The wedding is short, with a brief silent prayer below the hearttree, and then the guests go inside the Great Hall. Theon remembers how they quickly restored it as well as the breaches in the walls when they got here, using the squatters by promising them mercy and later hanging them after the work was done. Now the castle is protected by great gates and the hall has a new roof. Theon is full of regret for his initial attack on Winterfell, feeling hat it started all. Trailing behind, he now makes double haste to the hall, which is crammed full, and squeezes himself on a bench on the dais next to Lady Dustin. When he listens to a singer named Abel, he remembers his arrival in Winterfell with six "washerwomen", remarking that he doesn't sing very good but better than no singer. Looking at the hall, he notices the burn marks on the walls and the fresh wood of the rafters, again becoming melancholic.

August 05, 2011

Daenerys VI

Daenerys Targaryen (Artwork by Amoka)
Dany is riding out of Meereen with some of her bloodriders, additional guards, her handmaids and a wagontrain of food. The Astapori fugitives are camping below the city walls, the bloody flux rampant about them. The situation is dire, the people dying by the score, and not enough food to feed them all. After having a good look over the compund, Dany lets the train halt and starts distributing food. Since she claims that as a dragon she is immune to the disease, she then helps the people to burn their dead and tend the wounds, something no one has done since the sick are too feeble and the healthy too scared. She calls the Unsullied to help, who afterwards wash themselves in the sea. On the way back to Meereen, her handmaids argue about who will get the bloodrider Rakharro, with Dany ending the dispute by stating that his life is hers.

Back in Meereen, she welcomes a delegation of the Green Grace and some Loraq family members as well as her seneschal to prepare the wedding. She is incredulous about the traditions she is expected to maintain, along them presenting herself naked for examination before the female part of Hizdahr's family and washing the feet of her husband-to-be. She also has to wear a tokhar full of pearls to symbolize fertility. Dany declines all this and is convinced only to wear the special tokhar, finally stating that she will Hizdahr's feet if he washes hers first. When asked about reopening the pits for the wedding, Dany says that Hizdahr can open them after the coronation if he likes. After, she welcomes Hizdahr himself, who tells her that he has no problem with that and thinks the rituals as hollow and in need to be abolished. He has news for her: the Yunkai'i are ready to make peace with Meereen if the city pays indemnities, doesn't interfer in the slave trade anymore and allows Astapor to be rebuilt as a slave city. They also insist on the wedding to prove the truth of her intentions.

August 04, 2011

Jon VII

Lord Commander Jon Snow and Ghost
Jon and Dolorous Edd are standing atop the Wall, trying to see some sign of life and failing. Jon commands Edd to make ready ten seasoned rangers and to arm them with dragonglass. When Edd asks who'll lead the venture, Jon answers that he'll do so himself. After telling Edd that he won't be on the ranging, the steward shows clear relief. Jon makes clear that Ghost will be with him and expresses confidence that the wolf will keep him safe.

When word of the venture spreads, Bowen Marsh comes upon Jon, complaining that the new recruits could take their vows south of the Wall in the sept, but Jon replies that they are not only believers in the old gods, but that it is old tradition to do it in the weirwood grove and that such traditions bind the Watch together and make them brothers. He then gives command over the Wall to Marsh until he returns.

August 03, 2011

Bran III

Isaac Hempstead Wight as Bran Stark in HBOs Game of Thrones
The cave of the children of the forest lies in the moonlit darkness. Wights are gathering in front of it, but can't enter. In the caves, Bran is trying to feel and hear the song that is in the air permanently, sung by the world itself. The caves themselves are warm and cozy, compared to the rough winter outside. While trying to feel everything around him, Bran muses about the past days and weeks. The Last Greenseer has told him his name, Brynden, Jojen is recovering from the journey but still week and, above all, sad and melancholic, talking about secrets in the greens. When asked by Bran why they don't join him, Meera tells him that they can't be greenseers since one has to be born that way.

Bran got his own weirwood throne like Brynden's beside him. He learned to warg into other beasts, mainly the ravens of the caves, and flew for the first time. Normally, Brynden told him, warging into a bird is difficult, but the birds here have been warged in often and are therefore easy. Bran feels the presence of a child of the forest in the bird, a presence that Brynden just calls a "shadow of the soul". He also told Bran that darkness is nothing bad, but that it makes a greenseer strong, and that it were the greenseers who used the ravens to carry messages and taught it to the First Men, and that back in those days the ravens actually spoke the messages. Bran experiences more and more problems to differentiate his dreams from reality. One day, Jojen tells Bran that dead children go into the trees, and when Bran fears that he'll be killed to be transformed into a tree like Brynden, Jojen just says that he needn't be the one to be afraid.

August 02, 2011

Tyrion VIII

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in HBOs Game of Thrones
Tyrion is aboard the Salaesori Qohan, a trading galley on the way to Qarth, and watches the evening prayer led by Moqorro, a red priest from the Summer Island's and Benerro's right hand. He was sent along with them to go to Daenerys and teach her the ways of R'hollor. Penny, the dwarf girl they encountered in Volantis, is with them as well, but fleeing the sight of Tyrion the instant she sees him. After the prayer, Tyrion goes to Moqorro and talks to him. Moqorro claims to have seen dragons in the flames, clear sign of Dany whom he calls "the Deliverer". After that, their talk goes over to the name of the ship. It actually means something like "flagrant steward", which Tyrion finds rather amusing, who dubbes the ship "stinking steward" after that.

After his encounter with Moqorro, Tyrion talks to Ser Jorah, who is hard and without humor as ever. He tells him that Penny is in danger of killing herself, but Jorah tells him that she is his problem, since it's Tyrion's fault and he insisted on taking her with them. Jorah then walks off, and Tyrion muses about his character, concluding that it's no person at all he likes. He is bored to death on the ship, and his mind wanders. Oftentimes, he experiences bad dreams at night, and he compensates the boredom with plenty of food. The captain of the ship owns three books, which Tyrion has read several times over by now.

July 27, 2011

Reek III

Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy in HBOs Game of Thrones
With great clamor, Ramsay and his dogs as well as some retainers return from a sixteen day long hunt. They were unsuccessful in whatever they were hunting, and Reek is afraid that the angry Ramsay might do him harm. Luckily, Ramsay just orders a feast from their involuntary host of a small keep, and Reek is send off to tend the horses together with Big Walder. He tells Reek that Ramsay killed a shepherd they came by, but didn’t find their intended prey. Walder is not overfriendly to Reek, but he doesn’t partake in the cruel japes Little Walder and Ramsay’s bastards are engaging. 

At the feast, Reek is chained at a distant corner of the hall since his smell disturbs the feasters. The feast itself is likely to ruin the winter provisions of their host and his people, but there is nothing to  be done against the wishes of Ramsay, as Reek knows. Two of Ramsay’s bitches engage a dog of their host’s and tear him to pieces right there, when Roose Bolton arrives. He immediately commands the hall to be emptied entirely, complaining that Ramsay hasn’t found the missing Freys. He explicitly commands that Reek stays. 

July 25, 2011

Melisandre

Melisandre of Asshai
Melisandre is in her chambers. Fires and candles are burning. Every one of her servants has to learn at first that these fires must never be allowed to go out. She turns to the fire in the hearth to use it for her visions. At first, she sees eyeless faces, then towers by the sea, swallowed up by the tide, then winged shadows before a blue sky. She tries to find Stannis and some trace of him, but she doesn’t succeed, instead witnessing a wooden white face with thousand red eyes around it and a boy-wolf howling beside it. She then sees skulls, and Jon’s face in between them. She again tries to concentrate on Stannis, but she only gets Jon, seeing him to change from man to wolf and then to man again. She also hears Jon’s name, along with the names Melony and Lot Seven. She then breaks up the vision, thinking that the skulls signify death and that she already tried to warn Jon about the danger. 

She muses about Devan then, who was left behind to serve her. She asked Stannis to leave him here to protect Davos from further grief, but she knows that neither will thank her. Her guards are the lowest of all, and she knows that they won’t protect her in the case of danger, but she trusts in R’hollor. When Devan comes in to feed the fire, he asks her if she wants food, which she agrees to, and he leaves again. Melisandre acknowledges the need to keep up certain premises, and while she doesn’t need food due to the powers of R’hollor, other people shouldn’t know. 

July 24, 2011

Daenerys V

Daenerys Targaryen (Artwork by Amoka)
Daenerys is counting the ships sailing up and down the river, confusing the number and concluding that it doesn’t matter since the enemy has brought Meereen down anyway. Groleo, her admiral, comes forward and complains about the situation, urging her to unleash the dragons on the enemy ships. Dany has nothing of it, telling him to build new ships which Groleo declines. When he leaves, Ser Barristan reports that the food situation is good since Meereen is planting crops and the Lhazaareen are sending food too. When Dany asks about the training of knights, Barristan proudly reports that at least five of them, maybe a dozen, may have it in them to receive the honor. 

Skahaz, the Shavepate, then comes and reports that Hizdahr zo Loraq has now visited the eleventh pyramid and that the killings have stopped for near thirty days now. He doesn’t trust him and suspects that he is in truth the Harpy, urging Dany to allow him to inter and torture him to find out the truth. Dany denies it, knowing full well the worth of a confession got under torture. Skahaz then produces a list of the captains of the ships besieging Meereen, telling her that everyone has kin in the city and that she should take them hostage and force the captains to relieve the city. Dany declines again, since this would mean civil war and disturb her shaky order. 

July 23, 2011

Davos IV

Davos Seaworth (Artwork by Amoka)
Davos is interred for days now in the White Harbor prison, called the Wolf’s Den. He is bored by the routine, but treated properly. His food is good, better even than the goaler’s, he has parchment and quill and ink and a book to read, and his bed is halfway comfortable. He knows that something’s not right, since he should be dead already and not be treated that good, but he doesn’t quite know what it is. The goaler Garth always call him “the dead man”, not reassuring him that much, but there is nothing he can do about to it. He likes the other two goalers better, Therry and one Ser Bartimus. 

The latter told him of the history of the Wolf’s Den. The prison-fortress constitutes the oldest part of White harbor, being occupied by some offspring of the Stark family perished in a rebellion many centuries ago. Later the fortress was held by others, among them some slavers from the Free Cities using a period of weak kings in the north, before the Manderlys took it and the evolving city of White Harbor as their seat. After recalling the history, Davos writes a letter to his wife, making amends for not being there and telling her that he loved her, and after that to his son Devan, urging him to be good and to become a good man. He is not yet finished when Robett Glover comes in to fetch him.