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Chapters 21 - 26
Chapter 21: JaimeJaime, Brienne, and Cleos come to Maidenpool, and Jaime continues to annoy Brienne, this time by singing about Florian and Jonquil. His needling is starting to get through to her, as she decides to take the significantly more dangerous route straight to Duskendale simple because it's shorter. Jaime goes off on a mental tangent about how awesome incest is and how he'd love to marry Myrcella to Tommen in order to give two fingers to the world and show everyone that the Lannisters are just as twisted and arrogant as the Targaryens. Apparently, he and Cersei tried to imitate mating dogs when they were little kids, which proves that Martin does not have a sister. He also decides that, if at all possible, he'll return Sansa and Arya to Catelyn to mess with the heads of everyone who expects him to be a traitorous bastard. This line of thought is terminated when the trio are attacked by bandits. Jaime charges the archers, knowing they'll flee at idea of close-quarters combat. Jaime and Brienne find Cleos dead, and Jaime draws Cleos' sword and engages Brienne in combat. Despite being malnourished, out of practice, and in chains, he puts up a good fight, though Brienne eventually beats him despite being (*shock!* *horror!*) A WOMAN! Brienne waterboards Jaime a bit, but then the Bloody Mummers appear. Jaime tries to scare them off by being snarky, but that doesn't work. Rorge announces his plan to gang-rape Brienne, and Urswyck says he's bringing them back to Harrenhal to hand them over to Lord Vargo Hoat, thank you very much. Oh sure, they could go all the way to King's Landing and try to persude a hostile court that they have good intentions, but why risk a sure thing for a promise from the Kinslayer? Two interesting bits of characterisation for Jaime. First off, he thinks that even Brienne doesn't deserve to be gang-raped by the Bloody Mummers. Speaking of whom, he has considerable disdain for them, as well as for the likes of Amory Lorch and Gregor Clegane. I'm really struggling to see why people think Jaime is sympathetic. Granted, he comes across quite a bit better in this book than in the previous ones, but he's still a bad man. His objection to Brienne's impending rape and distaste for the worst men in the empire comes across not as goodness, but as a clear case of Even Evil Has Standards. I look forward to seeing Brienne kill the fuck out of the Bloody Mummers.
Chapter 22: AryaWhen I went back to write this summary, I was surprised that Arya had a chapter; I honestly didn't remember a thing from this one. We learn that Beric Dondarrion keeps his group decentralised and his own location a secret to avoid discovery by enemies. Throughout the chapter, our characters encounter various rumours that Beric has died horribly, but they always insist that he isn't that easy to kill. They also have a secret village in some tree tops where a woman occasionally has prophetic dreams. Arya seems to develop a bit of a bond with Anguy, who lets her try out his bow and half-seriously offers to make one light enough for her to use if he can get the right wood. Tom and Harwin, however, insist that she'll be ransomed off before she has as chance to get a bow. The next day, they arrive at a village called Acorn Hill, where a woman who likes them cleans Arya up and gives her the nicest child's dress she has. Arya promptly wrecks it fighting with Gendry, and so the next day, the woman gives her the clothes that her late son wore when he was young. There's a fun conversation where Arya tells her hostess she enjoys needlework, and the hostess talks about how relaxing is the activity that any rational person would have taken Arya to mean. Also, Rickard Karstark's men were down here recently, looking for Jaime, but they didn't find him. Lots of movement and travel, and a lot of stuff I really hope pays off later, because otherwise Arya is all about the padding here.
Chapter 23: DaenerysIn a scene during which everybody conceals which languages they speak, Daenerys goes to buy some Unsullied, and it turns out they're the Spartans. No, seriously, they're the Spartans. Also, Valyria was Rome. Well, OK, the Unsullied aren't quite the Spartans. The Spartans, for example, had their own names. The Unsullied, on the other hand, randomly pick a name out of a pot each morning, and leave it back in the evening. These names are always something degrading like Black Rat or Brown Flea. Also, while the Spartans were free, the Unsullied are slaves, and are ethnically diverse. Also, to avoid the dangers of sexual arousal, the Unsullied are both castrated and emasculated. How on Earth do they urinate in that case? On a side note, I imagine the mistress would be pleased with them, and would advise her to carry out this proceedure on all her minions. This mutilation means that the Unsullied are physiologically incapable of becoming as strong as a knight, but they make up for it by being incredibly disciplined, as in the style of
- Once upon a time, a young crannogman went to the Isle of Faces to visit the Green Men, whoever they are. On his return, he happened across a tournament being held at Harrenhal, and three squires picked on him for being short. He was rescued by a lady of House Stark, who gave him food and shelter for the night.
- The next day, a mysterious, short knight in ill-fitting armour appeared and beat those squires' knights in the melee. When they asked what ransom he wanted, he told them to teach their squires respect. Nobody ever saw him again.
Chapter 25: JonJon and Ygritte have been shagging several times a night since we last saw them. It's against the vows Jon swore, but he keeps telling himself that it's all part of the cover and done in the name of the greater good, and it's that which allows him to sleep at night, and not Ygritte's vagina, ogh ogh, no siree. Well, maybe a little. OK, a bit. NO! MUST NOT THINK THAT WAY! JON IS A SWORN BROTHER OF THE NIGHT'S WATCH AND THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO IT! REALLY! NO, HONESTLY IT IS! Ahem. Jon learns that the freemen have different names for some of the same constellations, and also ponders about how with being a bastard and all he was never really a Stark, no more than Theon. Funny, he had a rather different view of life back before he joined the Watch, back when people said as much to his face. Jon tells Ghost to return to Castle Black, hoping that they'll figure out what the wolf without the man means. Ghost runs off. After that, Jon thinks he should have killed the Mance when they first met; with the bodyguard the Mance now surrounds him with, there's no way he can get close enough to make a difference now. After a flashback to how shamefully awesome sex with Ygritte is, Jon is summoned to the presence of Styr and Jarl, to tell them about the Watchmen's patrol patterns. Jon truthfully tells them that the Watch sends patrols out on random days so as to prevent their enemies from figuring out a weak day; he also notes that Jarl tries to keep Styr out of command, and wonders if he can use that. After a bit more discussion of Watch tactics, the readers learn the story about the rather surprisingly-named Arson Iceaxe, who tried to tunnel under the wall and was quietely sealed in by a Watch patrol. After that, Jon finds Ygritte in a cave, which she claims contains a secret passage right under the wall. In days gone by, King Gorne tried to sneak past, but was defeated in battle on the other side, and retreated. He never found his way out of the caverns a second time, and the descendents of his survivors are said to still prowl the caves, surviving on human flesh. Jon and Ygritte disagree on how the battle went, and then Ygritte decides they should have sex, whereupon Jon invents cunnilingus. This is a new experience for Ygritte, and she enjoys it very much; afterwards, she goes all "Are you sure you were a virgin before you met me?". There is s bit of playful teasing and horseplay, and then Ygritte announces that she doesn't want to return to the surface; she'd rather keep exploring the caves. Two things to note in this chapter. First of all, Jon says he was a sworn brother of the Night's Watch. Martin draws special attention to the use of the word was, and Jon's wondering as to just what he is now. The other is a couple of instances of customs of the freemen. Styr rules over Thenn with an iron fist, in contrast to the more lacksadaisical leadership shown by the other chiefs. Jon ponders that the freemen would be a lot easier to betray if they were all like him. This seems to just be saying that Styr is a jerk, but I think it also shows how Jon is coming to appreciate and enjoy the freedom-loving culture of the northerners; this is reinforced by his noticing that he refers to himself as as former Watchman. Showing vs telling, eh? Martin, you've still got it. We also get some more details on northern marriage customs. It seems it's common for the man and woman to have sex a few times, and then for the man (as has already been established) to come and steal her away; this apparently happened to Ygritte when she was 14, but the dude couldn't get past Longspear. The freemen also have an incest taboo, but take it further than the southerners; they are aware in some way of the dangers of inbreeding, and consider incest to be anyone in your own village. Indeed, they think that Craster is more like a southerner than a freeman. Oh, and Craster is apparently a former Watchman who went renegade after falling for a northgirl.
Chapter 26: DaenerysI hate the trope Crowning Moment of Awesome. It's the most stupidly subjective 'trope' in existence. No, scratch that. It's not even a trope. It's an opinion. And even then, people find it utterly impossible to stick to what it's supposed to be. The idea is that it's the single, standout, ultimately coolest and best moment in an entire work if fiction. People will naturally disagree on which moment is the best, which is why a given series may have multiple examples. However, the sort of person who can't let a positive trope go without dropping in to gush about their favourite work insists on sticking in more and more examples, and other, even greater idiots take this as an excuse to personally add multiple examples to their favourite works. It's gotten to the stage where people casually outright state, in a single sentence, that a single character, quite apart from all the others, has multiple crowning moments of awesome. That entire fucking page/index/whatever, as well as Crowning Moment of Heartwarming and Dethroning Moment of Suck, should be deleted promptly and added to the Permanent Redlink Club. Given all that, you know I am both serious and seriously impressed when I say that this chapter is the crowning moment of awesome. Why? Let's read on... Daenerys meets with the eight biggest slave traders and says she wants to buy all the Unsullied, as well as the trainees. The traders discuss this among themselves, not knowing that Daenerys speaks their language. They eventually come to the conclusion that, even if she gives them everything she has, it still won't be enough to get all of them. When this is relayed to her, Daenerys reluctantly offers them one of her dragons (over Whitebears's objections) in addition to everything else. The traders agree to this, and demand Drogon, the largest one. Daenerys agrees, and departs with a heavy heart. Kraznys, the trader she spoke to a few chapters ago, throws in his translator slave, Missandei, as a token of a bargain well struck. Daenerys surprises Missandei by speaking Valyrian, and frees her. Missandei stays with her, and tells her a few things about the Unsullied. Also, we learn that valar morghulis, which you will remmeber is the password Jaqen H'gar gave Arya, is Valyrian for all men must die. Also, it turns out that three of the Unsullied are Missandei's brothers. That night, Daenerys talks to Jorah about justice and truth and all the stuff kings are supposed to do. She has trouble sleeping, but when she finally does nod off, she dreams that she's Rhaegar, riding a dragon against Robert's armies, who are all made of ice. She melts them with the dragons fire, which... OK, to be honest, this probably isn't important. Then Quaithe's ghost or something appears and tells her to go to Yunkai. In the morning, Daenerys assembles her retinue and marches for a plaza to make the trade. She brings all three dragons with her, as well as some of the ships' cargo. Right, here's where things get awesome. Daenerys hands over the goods and the dragon to the traders, and tells them that the rest of the goods that are now theirs are on the three ships, which are also theirs. And yes, the dragon is theirs as well. In exchange, the traders give her the 8,000 Unsullied plus trainees. Daenerys turns to the Unsullied and, in Valyrian, tells them several times and in no uncertain terms that they belong to her now. Yep, they're hers. Got that? Hers. OK then. She then turns back to the traders, and sees them having trouble with Drogon. As Daenerys explains, that's because a dragon is no slave. She then orders Drogon to attack the slavers with fire, and also has Viserion and Rhaegal do the same. At this, the Unsullied don't lift a finger to help the traders, because their master has not ordered it. Glad that her gambit has paid off, Daenerys orders her new Unsullied to kill the slave traders, every slave owner, and everyone with a whip, but to spare children under 12, and also to free all the slaves. The people take up her cause, chanting "Dracarys! Dracarys! Dracarys!" OH FUCK YEAH! THAT IS BRILLIANT! AND AWESOME! I DONN'T CARE HOW MUCH OF A MARY SUE DAENERYS MIGHT BE, THIS SCENE FUNTING ROCKED!!!! Ahem. Quite apart from the PURE UNDISTILLED AWESOMENESS of this scene, there are some interesting parallels between Daenerys' and Jon's respective plotlines. I think I mentioned some more parallels in my liveblog of book 2, so this would be building on that. Freedom is a big part of both their stories. For Daenerys, she comes into Astapor and smashes the existing power structures, bringing everyone the freedoms enjoyed in the Seven Kingdoms. Jon, however, has left the Kingdoms for the free men of the north, and discovered a degree of freedom he never imagined. However, freedom can also bring its own headaches. Jon's newfound freedom conflicts with the vows he swore; in other words, the restrictions he voluntarily placed on himself cause him angst when he is given the opportunity to forsake them. The people of Astapor may now be free, but who is going to run the place? Most of the free men owned slaves, but Daenerys had them all killed, even the ones that might have treated their slaves well. A few masters might have entrusted their slaves with responsibilities for running their respective households, which would help in administering the city, but there can't be that many, and the rest of the slaves will have no clue how to live their own lives. I have a feeling Daenerys is heading for some major trouble in a few chapters. There's also the matter of family, in that neither have one. All of Daenerys' family have been massacred (by Jon's in some cases). Jon, being a bastard, isn't allowed to be properly part of a family, and he forsook any familial benefits he might have gained when he signed up for the Night's Watch. Then again, the Watchmen do refer to themselves as brothers... Come to think of it, Daenerys is quite strongly associated with fire, and Jon with ice. Daenerys is close to the equator, Jon to the north pole. Daenerys has dragons, Jon has a direwolf. The Targaryens love fire, the Starks lean towards ice. Could it be that Jon and Daenerys are the ice and fire from the title?
That's one of the most common interpretations, yes.
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