July 06, 2011

Reek I

Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy in HBO's Game of Thrones
Down in a dark dungeon, a starved prisoner has finally caught a rat and now eats it raw, ripping it apart with broken teeth. His limbs are thin like weeds, but his stomach is swollen and aching. He is half-mad, fearing that someone might catch him eating the rat and then punishing him for it, like it happened before. When the sound of approaching guards can be heard, the prisoner is stiff with fear, hoping that they will go to some other cell, where he can hear prisoners screaming. He muses that the women always scream loudest.

The guards finally arrive at his cell, opening it, obviously first in a longer time, since the prisoner is not accustomed to light and blinded even by the small lantern. Two boys are standing in the door, chatting lightly over the stink and bad condition the prisoner is in, who himself can’t get any clear thought. It becomes evident that the two are the Walders, the formal wards of Winterfell, and they have been commanded by Ramsay Bolton to bring him up to the throne room. They ask him if he remembers his name, and the prisoner panics again, having forgotten it in the darkness. The Walders remind him that he is Reek.

On the way up, Reek thinks about overwhelming the two boys and trying to escape, but shrinks away from the idea when he remembers a similar attempt undertaken some point earlier, together with a woman named Kyra. It had been a trap. Ramsay had allowed them to escape, just to hunt them down merciless in the surrounding woods, punishing Reek severely and doing some unimaginable and unspecified things to Kyra. Full of terror, Reek is ushered forward into the throne room.

There, soldiers and mercenaries are feasting. On the dais, Ramsay Bolton sits in his father’s chair, drinking from his cup and celebrating with his favorite lowlife fighters, the “Bastard’s Boys”. Left and right of him, two lords are seated, both old, one clad in a bearskin and wearing an immense white beard, the other with a crooked shoulder. Ramsay greets him friendly, chiding him for eating a rat, since all rats are possession of Roose Bolton and he didn’t have leave to kill one. Terrified, Reek remembers the rules he has been taught. Wrong answers result in the loss of fingers or toes, with Ramsay not only cutting them off, but flaying them and waiting until the pain becomes unbearable, only then cutting them off, provided the victim begs hard. Once, Reek tried to bite off a flayed and hurting finger himself and lost a toe for it. 

The two lords are clearly disgusted by the spectacle, and Ramsay explains them that Reek is in truth Theon Greyjoy. That disgusts them only more, and they suggest killing him “like the dog he is”. Ramsay, however, has other intentions. He explains to Reek that he intends to wed Arya Stark, who is brought north currently by his father, Roose Bolton. He then asks if Reek would attend his wedding and help him out a little bit, which Reek eagerly agrees to. 

The first Reek chapter is fairly short. The chapters concerning Theon and his exploits in the Dreadfort and later on the road with the Boltons, being entirely at their mercy, are easily the most ugly and disgusting of the book, even topping the torturing of Gregor Clegane’s men. Theon is totally broken, being half-mad and not really remembering who he is, concentrating all efforts in pleasing Ramsay, who just plays an unusually cruel game even by Westerosi standards. 

Ramsay likes flaying, which is a cruel punishment by itself, but he also adds a mental cruelty to the dimension, adding more and more fear into the mix, degrading his victims below the status of the most despicable of all animals. With Theon, he just shows off what he can do, degrading the heir of the Iron Islands into a feeble wreckage of submissive shit. The whole Dreadfort ambience reeks of cruelty, blood and torture. 

Theon doesn’t really understand what happened to Kyra, deliberately suppressing the knowledge in his twisted and tormented mind. Ramsay Bolton, we will later learn in great detail, likes to set out women, beautiful in most cases, and give them half a day head start before going after them with hounds and hunting parties. When he finally finds them, he kills them and flays them, or the other way round, depending on how good sports they were. Clearly, Ramsay is a new category of evil. 

We also get the storyline about the false Arya picked off again, after Jaime met her in the beginning of “A Feast for Crows”, where she departed for the north. It is of course a false Arya, is has to be, since the real one never fell into the hands of the Lannisters. The false Arya is in fact Jeyne Pool, as will later be confirmed. That doesn’t really matter, however, since the episode and the show of force clearly shows that Ramsay has the north in his grip. 

This leaves just one question: who are the two lords? There are not that much descriptions given, and their names are never called, but it’s fairly certain to assume that the one with the crooked shoulders is Hother Umber, called Whoresbane, who suffered such an injury, and the other is Arnolf Karstark, uncle to the old lord Rickard and castellan of Karhold. Since said castellan officially declared for Stannis, it becomes apparent that he is playing a double game here, but Theon has no eye for these things, concentrating on his own survival only.

28 comments:

  1. Having read Theon's chapters I got a suspicion that he was not only partly flayed, bereft of his fingers, but also gelded. He keeps repeating: I'm not even a man, and is horrified of taking off his clothes. What do you think, Stefan?

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  2. It is possible, also I don't think so. The "not a man" seems a byproduct of the brainwashing by Ramsay, and he forbid him to take off his clothes.

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  3. I agree Stefan, "not a man" is just a product of the brainwashing. I don't think he's been gelded either though like you Mouse, that same passage made me think he had. Since, in this first reading, I went through the book very quickly, I can't really recall what future event leads to me believe he wasn't gelded.

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  4. I'd argue that he has been gelded - sorry, perhaps you've broached this in the later post, but when Ramsay tells Reek to "pleasure" his new bride, the first thing Reek says is "Me? I have no---" before Ramsay laughs and tells him to use his mouth instead. I take this to mean he's had it removed?

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  5. It's discussed all over the different posts, so no sweat.
    I know there is much text that can be read in favor of the gelding-theory, but in the end, we can't know as yet. Perhaps when I have finished Theon's chapter in the re-read, I come to final conclusion, but as yet I don't find it sufficient to argue for his gelding.

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  6. Kyra is more than just a random woman in Ramsey's prison--she was a serving wench at Winterfell and when Theon took over the castle she was his mistress. Theon wasn't very nice to her, but Ramsey is especially evil to send her with the keys.

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  7. Yeah, should have mentioned that.

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  8. Ugh...how the snottly little shit has fallen!

    I hated Theon for his betrayal of Winterfell and often wished someone would kick his ass. Well, someone much worse than Theon got hold of him, and I now rather pity him, though I still say he had alot of it coming. This whole gelding thing makes me cringe, though!

    It's hard to know what to say here, Theon is clearly broken, mad, and living in a hellish nightmare. That's the real point to this chapter, and...well, I think I'll turn the page, now...

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  9. Two things.

    First, I do believe Theon has lost his manly bits. Martin could be playing games with our expectations, but we are certainly meant to draw that conclusion, and I'm willing to admit it could be a wrong one. Someone over at Tower suggested he lost one nipple instead, but Theon did refer to losing something else besides fingers and toes.

    Second, you all keep using the word "geld" to what possibly happened to Theon. I don't think he has been gelded (castrated), I think he has had his penis removed. Castration is removal of the testes, not the penis, and Theon thinks about a singular part that was removed, not multiples.

    That bastard Ramsay probably flayed it first. Ugh.

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  10. OUCH!! :(

    Ok, but wouldn't removal of the penis be life threatening? There's a major blood supply goign through there, isn't there?

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  11. I think flaying the penis is almost impossible due to the pain. And it's a bit much even for Ramsay.

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  12. I was also under the impression his dick had been cut off....

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  13. Don't forget, later on when he has to show his hands at Winterfell, his first thought is "at least I'm not naked"...obviously, having to show a deformity will make you feel metaphorically naked, but I think it's just another hint that he's also been gelded.

    Also, the "not a man" thing is a good metaphor for the brainwashing...except that even as he starts to come out of it, he STILL insists that he's not a man.

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  14. Ah, this is quite a good bit of story around Theon. You know, I guess we all tend to be "pro-Starks", and so I kind of feel that this turncloak got what he deserves. But then I got it from an even worse man, so it turns out I am starting to feel sorry for Theon. And you know, taken as a ward when young, then set aside by his father...
    If it had been Robb, or Jon, or Brienne who'd pubish him, (even with the same harshness), I would say: good thing for you turncloak. But from Ramsay ??? No-no-no.
    I am 2/3 through fifth book... I hope Ramsay will pay in the near future. Something.... as ugly as he did Theon.

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  15. Pg. 260 Dance: "'Lord Ramsay treats his captives honorably so long as they keep faith with him.' He has only taken toes and fingers and that other thing, when he might have had my tongue, or peeled the skin off my legs from heel to thigh."

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  16. Can you picture Ramsay NOT flaying Theon's penis? Making him beg to have it cut off? There are way too many subtle hints to this, sorry. And the fact that so many fans argue about it shows just how devastating the notion is... meaning it's right up Ramsay's alley.

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  17. If he cauterized the wound straight after the chances of bleeding out are reduced... Still though, Ouch

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  18. Well, in the show they dont really "show" him getting it cut off. It could just be another game: Get him aroused, then make him belive he would have it cut off just to further his mental state.

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    1. Yeah, but for me, the debate is pretty settled. He lost his dick.

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  19. Ok one more comment -in the same paragraph people are referencing, Ramsay asks reek if he'd like to "do" her first, and if his dick was hard and straining against his laces... Im just throwing it out there... It may be one of those things left to the readers imagination

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    1. Yeah, but that's basically torture.

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  20. Well, now the debate's settled. It was sent in a box to Balon Greyjoy, although the books haven't confirmed this. Maybe The Winds of Winter will have more to say on this subject, though I'd rather not really think about it.

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  21. But wasnt ramsay shown eating it, and then sent it to Balon, (who isn't even alive at this point). So could it be possible it is a mental torture like Momegil says.

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  22. What I mean is he must have had atleast 2 knocking about, isnt it possible neother was Theon's.

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  23. I am Reek,my migraines are Ramsay.There is no hope of escape.

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