A Liveblog of Ice and Fire: Book the Second
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IntroductionSome time ago, just when liveblogs were starting to become a thing (well before the existence of the liveblog section of the site, even before there was a liveblog subforum; this is back when liveblogs were posted on forum threads within the relevant media subforum), I wrote a fairly well-received liveblog of A Game of Thrones. I had intended to repost that here, but unfortunately it seems to have been lost to the aether. So, instead, I'm going to try and summarise as much of the first book as I can remember, and then start blogging A Clash of Kings. Summary follows, but first a couple of rules.
- Since this is a liveblog, there will be spoilers. If you haven't read the book, click back now. You have been warned.
- However, I wish to avoid being spoiled, and so I ask that comments concerning events that occur after the most recently-posted chapter be made in spoiler tags. Vague implications of future events are fine (stuff like "Oh man, you have no idea how much this is going to screw things up!" or "I'd forgotten what an idiot Sansa started off as"), but for actual events and plot points (such as "Don't worry, things get a lot happier when Eddard shags Jaime"), please use the spoiler markup.
- Clarifications to mistakes and misunderstandings I make are welcome, provided they are not spoilers.
SettingThe series takes place on a world where, for as yet unexplained reasons, seasons last for years. The length of a season does not seem to be regular; I remember a few references in the first book to summers being longer and shorter at different times, and the handmaid to one of the characters told a story involving a winter that lasted for a generation, but this is likely to be an exaggerated folk memory of a winter that just happened to be unusually long. The bulk of the action takes place in the Seven Kingdoms, which is halfway between a kingdom and an empire, and is about the size of Britain. The Seven Kingdoms apparently has 12,000 years of recorded history, though commentators on my liveblog of the first book assured me that we later see the historical record is full of holes and contradictions. The Seven Kingdoms originally did indeed consist of seven kingdoms, but five of them were conquered by the Targaryen dynasty, rulers of what was then the country in the centre (can't remember the name). The seventh kingdom, Dorne, merged with the pseudo-empire when its queen married the king of what was until then the Six Kingdoms. The ruler of the Seven Kingdoms sits on the Iron Throne, a throne made of iron that is specifically designed to be uncomfortable. The idea is that a king must never grow complacent. The king has a personal bodyguard, called the Kingsguard, who dress all in white and who are sworn to protect the king, regardless of who he may be. The most northerly part of the realm, The Barrowlands, has a big-ass wall at its most northerly point. Beyond the wall live pseudo-Celtic barbarians, though there are also some Celtic influences within the Barrowlands, as evidenced by mentions of crannógaí. There are also zombies beyond the wall, and apparently fairies as well. The Wall is guarded by the Night's Watch (no, not [[Night Watch that one]]), a group of men who dress all in black and are supposed to refrain from sexual intercourse; naturally enough, not one of them obeys this last restriction. The Night's Watch are sworn to protect the kingdom; while they will honour the king, they do not owe him allegiance, and will take no part in civil wars or courtly intrigue. They do not care who runs the country as long as there is a country to protect. They consist primarily of the dregs of society, criminals looking to escape imprisonment, death, or mutilation; the least evil are either imcompetent layabouts like Sam Tarly, or noble (in its original sense) bastards (also in its original sense) like Jon Snow. Across the ocean there is another continent, based on Asia. It has Mongols called Dothraki in it, who in my blog of the first book I kept finding fault with. Giants used to exist, and some interbred with humans. Dragons were used extensively by House Targaryen and their armies in military operations; the ability to control dragons gave them unparallelled power. However, dragons went extinct some time ago, though are brought back at the very end of the first book. Direwolves are not extinct, and are still seen occasionally in the Barrowlands. In all other respects, the Seven Kingdoms is closely modelled on medieval Britain. Arranged marriages are the norm amongst the nobility; we have yet to see what arrangements the peasants make. Marriage is often carries out at the age of 13. It is standard practice for noble children to spend some time in fostership at the seat of another House in order to nurture inter-family alliances and connections. Incest is rather more common that it was in the Middle Ages, and rape is also rather unpleasantly common. Bastards are common, but are not permitted to inherit land, property, or titles from their parents. Many turn to thievery or the Night's Watch, though a few manage to find apprenticeships where they can earn a living. Apparently, all bastards must be given a surname related to the dominant climate of the province from which they hale; thus, bastards from the Barrowlands get the surname Snow, while those from Dorne are appelled Sand. Some time before the series began, Eddard "Ned" Stark and Robert Baratheon were both fostered at the Eyrie, seat of House Arynn and capital of the Vale of Arynn, one of the kingdoms that became part of the Seven Kingdoms. While there, they and Jon, patriarch of House Arynn, hatched a plan to seize power. The Arynns, Baratheons, and Starks united their forces and attacked King's Landing, capital of the Seven Kingdoms and seat of the ruling House Targaryen. A civil war erupted, during which King Aerys II was killed by Jaime Lannister, then captain of the Kingsguard, which earned him the rather unkind nickname Kingslayer. Jaime apparently intended to seize the Iron Throne for himself, but gave it up to Robert Baratheon when Eddard beat him in a high-stakes staring contest. The surviving Targaryens, prince Viserys and princess Daenerys, were exiled to that other continent I mentioned above. Robert took the throne, while Eddard returned to rule the Barrowlands with somewhat more autonomy than Robert granted the other Great Houses.
House Stark and related characters
- Winter is coming.
- A direwolf.
- (I forget)
- A stag.
- Official motto
- Hear me roar
- Unofficial motto
- A Lannister always pays his debts.
- A lion.
House Arynn and related characters
- As high as honor (sic)
- Moon and falcon
- Family, Duty, Honor (sic)
- A trout
House Targaryen and related charactersDaenerys Youngest surviving member of the original ruling dynasty. Married to Drogo, a khal (khan) of the Dothraki, by Viserys in the hope of using the Dothraki to reconquer the Seven Kingdoms. As of the end of book 1, is in possession of three baby dragons and has secured the personal loyalty of three Dothraki warriors. Prophesied to give birth to Genghis Khan. Unpleasantly mary suish. Viserys (RIP) Daenerys' older brother. Killed by Khal Drogo, who dumped a pot of liquid gold on his head. A douchebag. Khal Drogo (RIP) Daenerys' late husband, who died in battle got resurrected as a retard, and who was then killed again by Daenerys. All but three of the Dothraki then abandoned Daenerys. Jorah Mormont A knight who was exiled by Eddard Stark for the crime of stealing food to feed his starving family. Wants revenge, but is for the most part a good man. Once looked down on the Dothraki, but has since come to respect and admire them. He is the only character in not-Asia so far to wear armour into battle. A healer Right, there's this one pacifist woman Daenerys met whose relgion resembles Nestorian Christianity. She has access to black magic, and used it to resurrect Drogo. For the life of me, I can't remember her name.
Other charactersSzandor Clegane A knight with some giant ancestry, in service of the Lannisters. One of the few characters in all of fiction to truly deserve the moniker of Complete Monster. Gregor Clegane Szandor's little brother, who is also part-giant. Horribly scarred due to Szandor being that much of an evil monster; his entire purpose in life is to kill Szandor. Brutally cynical, but seems to find Sansa's innocence amusing. Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish A manipulative jerkoff based on Niccolò Machiavelli. Obsessed with Catelyn. Walder Frey Lord of an important river crossing who supports the Starks in exchange for their helping him expand his power and influence. A firm believer in Screw Politeness, I'm A Senior!. Samwise Tarly A fat layabout bundled off to the Night's Watch, currently in training to become a maester (which is what priests are called in the Seven Kingdoms, for some reason). Jeyne Poole A friend of Sansa's, who also thinks she's a fairy tale princess.
SummaryA Game of Thrones contains three mostly self-contained subplots.
Main plotThe main story begins when Eddard takes his sons along to see him executing a deserter from the Night's Watch, who was actually fleeing zombies. On the way back, they come across six baby direwolves whose mother had recently died, and Eddard decides to give one to each of his children. Catelyn gets a secret message from Lysa warning her that Cersei killed Jon Arynn, and has it in for Eddard next. The Baratheons and some of the Lannisters pay the Starks a visit. At this time, Sansa is bethrothed to Joffrey. Robert asks Eddard to become the Hand of the King, who is the person charged with running the country while the king is off enjoying himself; Eddardl, hoping to investigate Jon's murder, reluctantly accepts. The men go out on a hunt, but Jaime stays behind to shag Cersei. Bran, while climbing on the castle battlements, sees them going at it, so Jaime throws him out the window. Bran survives, but spends a few weeks in a coma, and emerges crippled. This all sends Catelyn into a spiral of depression. Jon decides to join the Night's Watch, and gives Arya a sword as a parting gift. Eddard sets off with Robert's retinue for King's Landing, bringing Arya, Sansa, and their direwolves with him. Some stuff happens, and so Eddard is forced to kill Lady, and Arya has to drive Nymeria off into the woods. At the capital, Sansa moons over Joffrey while Eddard hires Arya a 'dance intructor', whose role is actually to teach her to use that sword. Robert decides to hold a tournament to honour the arrival of his old friend, despite Eddard's protests that he should be more prudent with his money. Meanwhile, Bran awakens from his coma, cheering Catelyn up. Bran manages to adjust to cripple life quite well, thanks to the help of Robb, Hodor, and Theon. Bran at this point has amnesia about what he saw just before his coma. While out for a ride (Bran has a special saddle), the lads are attacked by some people from north of the Wall, who are fleeing zombies. Robb and Theon kill most of them, and one of their women declares herself a permanent maid/wife/something or other to Robb, because she (quite rightly, in fairness) thinks he's awesome. Catelyn sets off for King's Landing, intending to surprise Eddard. She faces some trouble en route courtesy of Jaime, but manages to arrive safely and takes refuge with Littlefinger. Eddard begins looking into Cersei and 'Robert's' children, based on some vague rumours he heard. Jaime makes an attempt on his life, but he survives. Meanwhile, Robert hears that Daenerys is up to something, and puts a bounty on her head. However, Robert suffers a serious injury in a hunting accident, and dies. On his deathbed, he regrets a lot of the decisions he's made, and calls off the hunt for Daenerys, wanting her to live in peace. Unfortunately, everyone forgets to write down that particular request. King's Landing erupts in a turmoil, and Catelyn flees to the Eyrie. Somehow, Tyrion is blamed for the assassination attempt on Eddard, and is imprisoned by Lysa. Tyrion insists on trial by champion, from which he emerges victorious after choosing a particularly good proxy. Lysa is not pleased. Catelyn returns to Winterfell. Eddard discovers that the father of 'Robert's' children is actually Jaime, making Joffrey a bastard an thus ineligible for the throne. For the moment, he keeps this to himself. In consultation with the other members of Robert's court, Eddard decides to support Stannis' claim to the throne on account of he has a right to it. The others argue he should support the more popular and capable Renly, but Eddard is having none of this. Meanwhile, Lannister agents conspire to keep the truth of Cersei's children under wraps. Eddard, thinking it is the right thing to do, confronts Cersei about his discoveries and offers he the chance to flee, dooming himself. War breaks out between supporters of Stannis, Renly, and Joffrey. The Starks fight for Stannis' side, and ally with the Freys to defeat the Lannister army led by Jaime. The Starks win, and Jaime is taken captive. However, Joffrey's faction is ultimately victorious in the war, and Eddard is beheaded on trumped-up charges of treason. Arya witnesses this, and the last we see of her is being grabbed from behind by a mysterious figure. Up north, Robb inherits Eddard's lands. His subjects, looking at the situation in the south, say "Bugger that!" and announce their own kingdom. This is the end of the main plot.
The Jon plotThis plot is actually the first to begin, when three scouts from the Night's Watch encounter some zombies. Two are eaten, and the third is beheaded by Eddard for desertion. At the feast, Jon is exposed to Tyrion, which causes his natural awesomeness to decay into angst. He decides that the Night's Watch is the best and most honourable position he can attain as a bastard, and sets off to sign up. There, his privileged upbringing allows him to provide private lessons in swordsmanship to the other new recruits who can't keep up with their instructor's pace. This leads him to become an unofficial leader among the recent arrivals. Sam joins the Watch after some time, and royally sucks at everything. When the senior members begin outright abusing Sam, Jon and the others threaten to feed him to Ghost. A while after that, Jon notices that Sam can read, and arranges for him to be apprenticed to the local maester. When word of the war in the south reaches the Wall, Jon tries to ride off and support Eddard, but the other members impress upon him that his duty is now to the Wall, and that the affairs of nobles are none of his concern. Also, there is a zombie at one point. This is the end of the Jon plot.
The Daenerys plotViserys arranges for Daenerys to marry Khal Drogo. Daenerys is initially reluctant to marry someone other than her brother, but quickly adapts to Dothraki life, and even finds herself enjoying aspects of it. Meanwhile, Viserys is a whiny brat all the time, so Drogo kills him. By the way, Daenerys gets three dragon eggs as a wedding present. Jorah, who is living among the Dothraki, declares his loyalty to her in order to get revenge on Eddard, and also acts to help her get accustomed to Dothraki culture. Drogo and Daenerys have sex just once. Daenerys is prophesied to give birth to someone called the Stallion that Mounts the World and the Prince Who Was Promised, both of which seem to be Dothraki for Genghis Khan. While travelling, Daenerys takes in a shepherd woman who is very kind and gentle, and who knows black magic, over the protests of the Dothraki. Drogo is killed in battle, and Daenerys has the shepherd lady resurrect him. Soemthing goes wrong, and Drogo is revived in a permanent stupor, so Daenerys has to kill him again. All but three of the Dothraki then abandon her. Despite not previously having wanted anything other than the cosy coastal house where she grew up, Daenerys now decides she wants to rule the Seven Kingdoms after all, despite not remembering a thing about it. She appoints the remaining three Dothraki and Jorah as her personal bodyguard, then makes a massive funeral pyre for Drogo. She also tosses the three dragon eggs on the pyre; the heat burns all her clothes off, and the dragons hatch, apparently imprinting on her. This is the end of the Daenerys plot.
PredictionsSome things I expect to happen in book 2.
- When we first see Arya, she will be walking around quite independently. We will find out what happened to her at the end of book 1 in a flashback.
- Someone will eat ribs with a garlic and herb crust. (Seriously, is that Martin's favourite food or what?)
- A woman will get fingerbanged.
- I will find something to criticise about the Dothraki.
- Several named characters will die.
You've got Sandor and Gregor's names mixed up, and Renly had a few significant appearances in Game of Thrones. Other than that, great job remembering this incredibly complex story (and it only gets exponentially more complicated from here).
Oh, and I've got to also say, I loved your Game of Thrones LB and was very disappointed that you apparently quit after it, so this was quite exciting to see. Especially now that I've read the whole series to date and can laugh even more at how unprepared you are for some of the turns the series takes. Also, you should definitely check out the HBO Game of Thrones series, which is a very faithful adaptation and I've heard even made fans of people who didn't like the books, due to just giving us the story without all the digressions about what food everyone's eating and such.
... ... OK, how did I mix up Sandor and Gregor? *Hits self in head*. I saw one episode of the TV series, and I wasn't terribly impressed. It wasn't bad by any means; I suppose the story is just too complicated to work on screen. I know that I had some trouble following everything, and I'd read the book; my dad, who'd never heard of the books and was only watching because he's a fan of Sharpe, was completely lost. However, I will agree that it was indeed a very faithful adaptation.
I think you need to refresh your memory-The recap is incorrect in some places (for example, the throne is taken not for the power [not just for the power, anyway], but because the prince had kidnapped Ned's sister, and the king killed Ned's father and brother when they came to the capitol to say "no"; Cat leaves Bran after a failed assaniation attempt, and he woke up later; the order of the main plot is wrong...). For the record, fansite/wiki "tower of the hand" got chapter summaries, if you are interested.
A few more corrections: Jorah didn't steal food to feed his starving family; he sold people who had poached to feed their starving families to slavers. He's pretty unrepentant about it, too. Maesters are doctors, scribes, and scientists, not priests. Septons are priests.
I figured that was just a sarcastic description about how Jorah's crime was so sympathetic.
^Actually no, I just misremembered. This is why I wanted my original liveblog. Anonymous and silver: Thanks for the corrections. I figured that I could find chapter summaries on the Internet easily enough, but I'm also afraid of spoilers. Although I am aware that I didn't present the main plot in entirely chronological order; I think I was trying to keep the various threads as continuous as I could in the description, though I suspect there are a few outright mistakes in there.
I'm fairly sure Arya is younger than Sansa. Yep. At the beginning, I believe Arya is 8 or 9, and Sansa is about 11. The Baratheon motto is "Ours is the fury". The maegi who betrays Dany is called Marri Maz Durr. Anyway, personal opinion: if Dany is mary suish what the fuck is Jon? This makes me mad. Anyway, nice work, but you did get a lot of the things wrong or missed some bits/didn't realize the importance of it.
Yes, Arya is younger than Sansa. And the Baratheon moto is Ours is the Fury. Also, Jorah wasn't exiled for stealing food, but for selling slaves.
Also, Maesters are not priests. Priests are septons. Maesters are more like wise-men who specialize in various areas of knowledge.
Daenerys still have other Dothraki with her, her mostly children and women who chose to stay even after Drogo's death. The three "blood-brothers" to Drogo are not the only ones (the other are unamed, though). Also, "Prince Who Was Promised" is not Dothraki for anything, it's a Targaryen thing.
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