Wednesday, September 22, 2010

#ASOIAF Re-Read: A Game of Thrones, Part 28

Greetings, dear readers, and welcome to this little re-read where some of us while away the time between now and the eventual publication of A Dance with Dragons, a.k.a. one of the most anticipated books of the last few years.

We're up to Part 28 right now, and all of this began at Part 1, or at the Intro if you prefer.

In recent news, I JUST discovered that Blogger has a handy feature that pulls up all the comments for you, without having to search through every post for them. Handy! I found it by accidentally clicking on "Comments" in my dashboard. I believe "attention to detail" is on my résumé...

Back to the re-read: There are spoilers. Perhaps not so much in the posts, but the comments are basically a free-for-all, and I wouldn't really have it any other way.

So follow along via RSS, or Twitter, or Google Reader, or whatever it is that you use to track blogs of either amazing awesomeness or relentless mediocrity. I keep my fingers crossed that this hodge-podge of a fiefdom lies at least somewhere in-between the two.

The Wall and the Dothraki Sea await.
Chapter 60: Jon

What Happens

Lord Mormont checks in on Jon to see how he's healing. Jon's hands were badly burned in the fire, but he can wear gloves over them and return to work soon enough. The Old Bear tells Jon that they still haven't found Benjen Stark. Word has also arrived from King's Landing, with details of Ser Barristan Selmy's dismissal from the Kingsguard. There is no news of Eddard Stark or his daughters.

When Mormont is satisfied that his steward will recover, he gives Jon a sword. It is an old Valyrian blade that used to belong to him, and then his son, before Jorah brought dishonour to the Mormonts. The handle is a bit shorter than a traditional two-handed greatsword, making it a hand-and-a-halfer, or a "bastard sword."

Jon is uncomfortable with the gift, but Mormont thinks it small payment for a life, and tells Jon to get over the shame. The sword was called Longclaw, which went well with the Mormont/bear association, but Jon finds the name suitable for the Snow/Stark/direwolf connection.

More news: Alliser Thorne has been sent to King's Landing to show Joffrey the wight's chewed-off hand. That also gets him away from Jon.

Outside the Commander's tower, Jon's friends are waiting to see him. They know about the sword, and they are both awed and excited about it. Jon is still uncomfortable, and leaves them to resume his duties. However, Sam finds him and tells him Maester Aemon wants a word with him.

In the rookery, Aemon tells Jon about why the men of the Night's Watch make vows and make no families. They do it so they will have no temptations and no loves if the time comes for duty and hard choices. Jon asks what Aemon could know if the issue, and the maester reveals that his vows were tested in the past, as his loved ones died, and as his House was ruined and killed off. He names some of his kin, and Jon realizes that the maester is actually Aemon Targaryen. So, whatever Jon is feeling about the tragedy of Ned Stark, Aemon had to suffer through similar situations in the past.

So Jon gets a nice sword (ok, a very rare and awesome sword), and all signs continue to point to him being The Hero. Some people thinks it's a bit undeserved, or premature, or excessive, but you know what? I'm not going to over-think it. Maybe another time.

A "bastard sword." Fitting. And touching, coming from the gruff Old Bear. The angle I liked best was that the sword used to belong to Ser Jorah, back before he had to flee Ned's justice. I used to idly wonder if Jon and Jorah would meet because of some author-ordained connection. Less noteworthy at the time was Jon's dream to own Ice, Ned's sword, and the birthright of the Stark lords. Ice has been through some changes, but I think there's a much better chance that it falls into Jon's hands than I originally suspected.

And we have a hundred-year-old Targaryen on our hands. I really think I should get around to reading the Dunk and Egg novellas to find out more about Aemon's immediate family. If ADwD takes much longer, I think I'll have to.

Chapter 61: Daenerys

What Happens

Dany rides through the burned ruins of a town formerly inhabited by some Lhazareen. There are arrow-riddled bodies lying everywhere. Drogo's khalasar won the town by defeating another khalasar that was attacking it. Ser Jorah tells Dany that Drogo only suffered some minor injuries on his way to victory.

In the streets, Dothraki men take turns raping girls and women. Even though that is their way, Dany is bothered by what she sees, and tries to save as many victims as she can. This is met first with confusion by the Dothraki, and then outright anger by others, but after appealing to Khal Drogo, he lets her keep the women as slaves.

Dany notices that Drogo's cuts are more severe than anyone has admitted yet. She insists that he sees a healer, but all the healers are tending to other wounded and not present. One of Dany's rescued women comes forth; Mirri Maz Duur, a maegi trained in Asshai by various healing practitioners, including a maester.

She offers to mend Drogo, and Dany gives her permission. She also warns Mirri that if harm comes to the khal, the woman will suffer the same fate. Mirri accepts, and tends to Drogo. The khal's wounds are taken care of, but they caused enough damage that it will take some time for Drogo to heal. Again, Dany warns Mirri about what will happen if the khal is harmed.

Drogo is hurt! But just a little. At least, that's what it seems like at first. Drogo has had a larger-than-life persona from the get-go, that I don't think I really bought the severity of the wounds on my first go-around.

Dany saves rape victims and stands up for herself against Drogo's bloodriders! Full marks all around. I for one am glad that she intervened, although it goes contrary to Dothraki custom. Heck, even Jorah was accepting it as a way of life and just brushing it off as if the women were just future slaves. Mind you, the whole reason he ended up on this side of the sea was because of his attitude towards slaves. So.

Enter Mirri Maz Duur! DUN! She enters quietly and innocently enough, just one of the random women Dany was able to save. But on the scale of creepy ASOIAF characters, she ranks up there with some of the worst baddies. Although I dislike Melisandre, I think I understand her better than Mirri (although that's all coming later). Then again, neither one is as bad as Qyburn (much later).

Dany's choices are laudable, even if they lead to her eventual (but temporary) downfall. I can't really say any more until we resolve this bit in ...*checking book*... three chapters' time.


That's it for today on this topic, although a non-ASOIAF post might crop up at a later hour. Now I must go and deal with the sudden appearance of a family of spiders in my bedroom. I have no idea where they came from, but I think they'd be more comfortable outside my window. Hopefully this is a spider-free zone by the time Part 29 goes up. See you then!


Stacy said...

Glad you are back. I have missed your posts!

Lya said...

You should read the graphic novels instead of/in addition to the novellas - I haven't read them but I've heard nothing but going things about them, and I can vouch for the quality of the Dunk & Egg novellas myself. I just have a weird aversion to graphic novels - weird considering what a huge Neil Gaiman fan I am.

The connection between Jorah's exile and Jorah's (pragmatic? cavalier? callous?) attitude towards slavery had escaped me, thanks for that.

You support Inter? Oic. I am a Barça fan like the yuppie liberal I am. (I also support Liverpool like the masochist I am.)

Anonymous said...

that shoudl be "good things" and "sadist" respectively, dur

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