|Davos Seaworth (Artwork by Amok)|
Bound at the wrists, Davos is ushered forward by a guardsman to the keep of Sisterton on Sweetsister, the seat of house Borrell. Davos had tried to buy a smuggler or a fisherman to get him from the island and into White Harbor when the guards caught him. A storm rages over the island, the same storm that has plagued the Lyseni fleet as it made its voyage from the Wall south. When Davos is ushered in the dim lit hall of Lord Godric Borrell, said lord is eating. He demands to know who Davos is, who shows him a piece of cloth with several seals that identifies him as Stannis’ hand, but Borrell wants to see the fingers before he is convinced that it is really Davos. He orders the guard to leave and to forget that Davos was ever there.
He first suspects that Davos had business on the island, probably trying to rally support, but Davos tells him that he was brought by the storms and lost his way, asking if the lord would let him on his way. Borrell has nothing of it and tries to dig deeper into the whereabouts of the smuggler, but Davos sticks to his stories. In his mind, however, he remembers. We learn that Salladhor Saan finally defected Stannis, being angry about not receiving any payments and having lost half his fleet in the late autumn storms. He makes for Stepstones and then the Free Cities, never to return. On the way, he dropped Davos on the Sisters, courtesy of an old friend.
Borrell finally invites Davos to soup with him, giving him bread and salt and therefore granting him hospitality for the night, although he threatens to either kill him in the dungeons of Sisterton (they are below the tide and flooded with every one) or to hand him over to his liege lord Sunderland, who would sell him in an instant since he is in need for gold. It’s only now that Davos learns several old news from Borrell, who quips that the Wall always gets it latest: Lysa Arryn is dead, Tyrion Lannister escaped, Tywin Lannister is slain. Davos gets all hopeful when he hears these tidings.
His mood darkens at once, however, when facing the news that a ship has left Sisterton for White Harbor not twelve days past, a ship from King’s Landing with a load of Freys aboard. They bring the bones of one of Manderly’s sons, who died at the Red Wedding. One of them, a Rhaegar Frey, means to wed a daughter of Manderly to seal the new alliance they make. White Harbor means to join its power with the Iron Throne and Roose Bolton. That is really bad news for Davos, since Stannis desperately needs White Harbor in order to get food and money in.
After this part of the conversation, Davos asks again for being released and allowed to send a raven. Borrell denies him, stating that nothing good comes for the Sisters if they meddle with the politics of the game of thrones, being screwed twice in Blackfyre rebellions. He muses about the rule in King’s Landing. When Davos suspects that Kevan Lannister rules, Borrell tells him that it’s Cersei, and that if Kevan would rule he would sell Davos out without a doubt. Davos senses the doubt and declares that he will tell no one that he was ever there, provided he is released. Borrell then tells the story that at the dawn of Robert’s Rebellion, Eddard Stark was swept ashore Sweetsister too, claiming that he fathered Jon Snow on some fisherwoman, and stood at the same place Davos stands now, wrists bound. Borrell states that his father, who was the lord back then, admired Robert, and that his maester declared that Robert could never win. Eddard Stark just stated that one never knows that winter brings, and that if he lost, he would never tell anyone that he was there. Davos understands and promises the same thing.
When the chapter begins, one already fears that Davos is in White Harbor and being executed, as was reported to Cersei in “A Feast for Crows”. Instead, we find him on Sweetsister, belonging to the Vale. Martin does an excellent job here of describing the village, the keep and its lord, using smells and the play of light and dark to show us that it’s a nasty place. We learn much about people on these islands and their history. Clearly, they resemble the people from Cracklaw’s Point, being unruly and independent minded. When they don’t fish or raid, they act as buccaneers, luring ships into cliffs with wrong lights and then plundering them. The Borrells all have skin between fingers and toes, a hideous mark of the outsider. All this mixes up in a very good ambience.
Davos in this chapter is a good negotiator and shows cleverness and empathy. He bides his time, lets Borrell speak, until he knows what the lord really wants to exactly give it to him. He also has a keen mind on propaganda details, not telling anyone that Salladhor Saan defected but making up a story about a mission of raiding the merchants of the south. He proves to be a real good counselor and politician, and it shows again that Stannis’ decision to make him his hand was a very good one.
We also learn some interesting things about the past of Robert’s Rebellion. Eddard left the Vale north, since the High Road was closed and Gulltown not yet conquered by Robert, and tried to make to White Harbor by ship. The story of him fathering Jon Snow on some fisherwoman seems to be a red herring. Much as it would fit most lords, the Eddard Stark we know is not exactly the man to fuck every fisherwoman who happens to cross his way. The date would be right for the age of Jon, yes, but the strongest argument against this particular story comes from outside the canon, since Benioff and Weiss stated that they had a theory about Jon’s parentage after reading “A Game of Thrones” and Martin confirmed that they were right, so any new information can’t be the clue.
We also learn that the Sisters were disputed between the Vale and the North of old, back when the kingdoms fought each other vigorously. This is called “The Rape of the Sisters” on the islands, and until today the lords and inhabitants of the Sisters harbor a hatred for both Vale and North, but more so for the North since they first invaded them and provoked the series of wars that brought them down. This theme serves as a strong reminder that the players of the game of thrones oftentimes leave ashes and suffering in their wake.
As a last side note, we learn that Melisandre has burned lord Alester Florent back on Dragonstone to pray for a good wind to take them north to the Wall. This seems to be successful, since Davos explains the heavy storms to himself as revenge of the gods for the easy voyage and good winds they had up to the Wall.