Monday, July 19, 2010

#ASOIAF Re-read: A Game of Thrones, Part 23

What a week. My brain feels like it's been turned into mush. I apologize if today's commentary is sub-par, but it's been a rollercoaster kind of week. I mean that in a good and bad way.

Anyway, we're back with some ASOIAF chapters for this re-read. Today we team up with some totally opposite sisters for a bit of action and intrigue.

But first, the preamble! The intro post is here, and the first post is here, and the last post is here >> Part 22. There are several ways for you to follow the blog, including the RSS button near the upper right portion of this page, or you can use the #ASOIAF hashtag if Twitter's your thing.

The Re-Read beckons.

Chapter 50: Arya

What Happens

Arya is having one last lesson with Syrio before they return to Winterfell. They fight with wooden blades. Arya loses to Syrio again, and while she takes a breather, Syrio explains how he became first sword to the Sealord of Braavos. Others were stronger, faster, and younger than him, but he was the best because he could see to the heart of things better than others. That is what Arya has to learn.

Ser Meryn Trant and five Lannister guards arrive, claiming that Ned wants Arya brought to him. Syrio stops her from leaving and asks why Stark men weren't sent instead. Ser Meryn orders the guards to take her, but Syrio steps in front of her. One of the guards insults him and tries to push past him. Syrio flicks his wooden sword and breaks the man's fingers.

"You are quick, for a dancing master," said Ser Meryn.
"You are slow, for a knight," Syrio replied.

Ser Meryn order the guards to kill the Braavosi. Syrio tells Arya to leave. She obeys, but watches her teacher kill or incapacitate all give Lannister guards by the time she makes it to the door. Then it's just Syrio and his wooden sword against Ser Meryn and his sword and armour. Ser Meryn cuts Syrio's sword in two, and Arya runs away, sobbing.

She makes it to the yard and stable of the Tower of the Hand, noticing that the Red Keep feels deserted. There are dead Stark guards inside and outside the stable. Then a stableboy sees her and tries to get her to come with him so he can turn her over to the queen. She attacks and plunges Needle through the boy.

The only living person left in the stable, Arya packs a bit of clothing and sneaks out. There are guards everywhere, and the only other way she knows out of the Red Keep is the way that begins in the room with the monsters. She keeps herself hidden from the guards, and returns to the alley where she once chased the one-eared tom. Eventually she finds the way back to the room, and she realizes that the monsters are dragon skulls.

Arya confronts her fear of the dark, remembering a time when she'd gone down to the crypts in Winterfell with her brothers. Feeling better, she starts moving, intent on finding her way out and back to Winterfell.

Let the Legend of Arya begin. The nameless stableboy just became the first in Arya's long list of victims.

With respect to the Tower of Joy scene, the Ned-Cersei meeting, the Bronn-Vardis duel, the Sandor-Gregor battle, and several other worthy contenders, Syrio Forel vs. the World is my favourite scene so far.

Ser Meryn is just a helmeted black suit and asthmatic voice away from saying something like "Your powers are weak, old man," but Obi-Wan Kenobi Syrio is not going to go away so easily. True, he is using a wooden sword against a well-armoured knight, but this scene doesn't give us closure, leading to a couple of theories about Syrio's wherabouts. Some people believe he's still alive, and some believe he's Jaqen H'ghar. That seems a bit convoluted to me, but it's enough for some people to have a 17-page thread going at

Chapter 51: Sansa

What Happens

In the aftermath of the bloody killings in the Red Keep, Sansa and her friend Jeyne Poole are locked together in a room at the top of Maegor's Holdfast. On the second day, they hear a great bell ringing, and Sansa knows it means the king is dead, although she does not know how or why he died. On the third day, Ser Boros Blount of the Kingsguard arrives to escort her to the queen. The knight's white cloak is fastened with a brooch in the shape of a golden lion.

Cersei is waiting for Sansa in the council chambers, with Littlefinger, Pycelle, and Varys, although not with Joffrey, to Sansa's disappointment. Cersei is displeased to find out Jeyne was sequestered with Sansa, and Littlefinger volunteers to remove her from the city. The queen tells Sansa to sit. She obeys, but feels uneasy, especially under Littlefinger's gaze, because the way he looks at her makes her feel like she has no clothes on.

Then the queen and council tell Sansa that her father is a traitor. She can't believe it at first, but they pile their version of accounts on her, and make it look like he betrayed his king. With that in mind, Cersei can't allow Sansa to marry her son. Begging and pleading ensues, and Sansa swears that she loves Joff with all her heart.

"How well I know that, child," Cersei said, her voice so kind and sweet. "Why else should you have come to me and told me of your father's plan to send you away from us, if not for love?"

The queen wavers in her decision, and after some musing with the council, decides that there might be a way to keep all parties happy. Sansa must write to her brothers in Winterfell, and tell them the nature of Eddard's treason.

Sansa balks at first, still convnced that her father was loyal, then relents when she hears that the king will decide what to do about her father. Surely her gallant King Joffrey will not be harsh with her father. She writes the letters to her mother and brothers, and the council fixes the king's seal on them.

Sansa is returned to her room in Maegor's Holdfast. Jeyne is no longer there, and it is only much later that Sansa wonders whatever became of Arya.

The deck is clearly stacked against Sansa. Coming right on the heels of Arya's chapter about bravery and loss, Sansa's chapter makes her seem like the queen's pawn. Which she is, but the reasons are understandable. And then there's the whole reveal that Sansa betrayed her father. Ouch. That Sansa doesn't even remember her sister until the very end just reinforces the general dislike for the spoiled little princess. Well, not to play the devil's advocate too much, but Arya didn't wonder what happened to Sansa at all in her chapter. Not once. I checked.

Littlefinger's not-so-secret crush on Sansa/Mini-Catelyn continues to be creepy. Too bad for him, because she's into inbred twelve-year-olds. I suppose there's no accounting for taste.

Joffrey hasn't been officially crowned yet, and Cersei's actually doing a pretty good job of manipulating Sansa'a emotions, first by letting her know how much she loves the girl, then by using her son as the proverbial carrot on a stick. Yes, she plays Sansa pretty well. Bravo, Cersei. If only all her foes were as easily manipulated as eleven-year-old girls.

It's a smart plan, but I don't think it ever really stood a chance. I think the only hope Cersei and the council had was that the letters would get to Winterfell before Catelyn, where they could potentially slow down the armies of the north. I think if they gave any credit at all to Catelyn or Robb, there's no way either one would believe Ned was a traitor.

Of course, they have Sansa as hostage, but is that a big enough bargaining chip after all the other crap that's gone down? Doubtful. (Well, we know the answer is no, so that answers that question.) So... delaying tactic, at best. And it's a way of keeping Sansa onside a bit longer.

This chapter is a downer after the last one, and I don't know if Sansa deserves scorn, pity, or both at this point. I still don't like that she sold out her father. It wasn't malicious, but it still makes me a bit upset. What do you think? Talk among yourselves.


Almost went into a Coffee Talk with Linda Richman bit, but no. Maybe another time. Anyway, thanks for coming by. Coming up this Thursday in Part 24: Signs of the zombiepocalypse up north. BRAINS!!!

Believe the hype, and go see Inception. That's what Francesco says, since his mind is still reeling from being boggled and blasted over the weekend. And, yes, he believes you-know-what fell over.


ibeeeg said...

I am not certain if Syrio is dead, and actually tend to think he is alive. It would be kind of neat if he did turn out to be Jaqen H'ghar, but highly doubt it and would not waste my time on that theory. A 17-page thread on whether Syrio is alive or dead...crazy, but oh well.
I like the Syrio Forel vs. the World scene as well.

The difference between Sansa and Arya wondering about where the other is that Arya is quite busy trying to stay alive. As much as I do not like Sansa in this book, I have warmed to her, but still no where close to my like for Arya.

No, Sansa was not malicious about betraying her father but it does talk about her loyalties AND her need for the superficial things of life...the pretty stuff, the courtly stuff. Her head is not in reality, but in a way, Ned and Catlyn did not correct her thinking. Whatever... I think she is about to starts learning some real hard, and harsh lessons of life...very soon. I am about 1/4 way through A Feast for Crows, and I feel for her, but I so want her to do some great things...maybe not like Arya, but great things nonetheless.

Yep...Littlefinger's crush (if you want to call it that) on Sansa is very creepy. I think he looks at her as a Catlyn he could not have. yuck!

Well...yet another reason why I do not like Cersei...the way she does manipulate a 11 year old is just disgusting. She really is not a good person, she wants power, and that is all there is to it.

On the side: daughter saw it over the weekend with my parents, and they really liked the movie. I should see it, but most likely will do so when it is out on DVD. I am not even certain what it is about...suppose I should google it.

And, by the way... Coffee Talk with Linda Richman is most times freakin' hilarious!

IceNeedle said...

I seem to recall Jaqen would have died in the fire if not for Arya (aCoK), which dissuades me from supporting any theory that this is all some part of a master plan on his part (i.e., deliberately taking the place of a prisoner).

This is just the tip of the iceberg for Cersei. She is not only my most hated character in the series -- by far -- I think she may be the vilest character I've ever seen in a work of fiction. She's not some abstraction of Pure Evil (e.g., Sauron), and we aren't limited to judging her only by deeds (e.g., Gregor, who's clearly pretty vile himself); we actually get inside her head and see her motives and thoughts. She's the only evil character I ever recall actually becoming less sympathetic once you got to know her.

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