Chapter 16: Bran
With autumn here, Winterfell is hosting a harvest festival, and there's also a mini-tournament going on. We learn that Bran always wanted to be a knight, but now that dream is forever denied him.
Hodor carries him around in a special wicker basket. Bran is supposed to meet and greet Robb's supplicants and see how Robb's steward, Ser Rodrik Cassel. However, Bran wants to have a look at the tournament first, where the Walders mock Hodor and Bran has to defend the gentle giant's honour. The clash of words is broken up by Maester Luwin, who orders Bran to attend to his duties and the Walders to stop being such jerks. He does, however, agree not to tell Rodrik what happened.
The rest of the chapter is basically a description of the political and economic situation in the Barrowlands, using Bran's training as a king as a framing device
. Rodrik and Luwin urge all the lords and farmers to put aside a portion of their harvests for the coming winter, and in several cases advise people to increase the amount they have already earmarked. Ah. I was wondering how they lasted through multi-year winters. Even so, I imagine that cooks capable of doing interesting things with parsnips will be in demand a few years hence.
As for the rest of the important people we meet...
- Wyman Manderly is a fat, genial chap, though his constant and at times flamboyant good humour rubs some other people the wrong way. He wants Robb to build fleet, and offers to mint the new currency Robb will need. His son, Wylis, has been taken captive by Tywin Lannister.
- Lady Donella Hornwood was recently widowed and is past childbearing age, but still has many suitors. She does not want to marry again, but will if Robb commands it. Quite a few other characters look fondly on her lands.
- Roose Bolton does not appear; he is described by Lady Hornwood. He is the bastard son of Lord Bolton, who has apparently managed to gain control of some land adjoining that of Lady Hornwood, and is a bastard in both senses of the word.
- Lady Hornwood's late husband also sired a bastard, Larence Snow, and Rodrik suggests allowing him to inherit her land, but that doesn't seem to be a very good idea.
- Mors "Crowfood" Umber is a Boisterous Bruiser who would probably get along quite well with Tyrion. He controls a large forest; Rodrik commands him to work with Wyman Manderly, who has access to a dock and a lot of carpenters and shiprights, to start on a navy.
Between Lady Hornwood and Crowfood, Bran goes to sit with Summer by the reflecting pool in the godswood, where Osha, the northwoman who attached herself to Robb, who offers some wisdom of the simple folk and mentions Bran's wolf dreams, causing him to dream about a three-eyed raven. That happened a bit in book 1 as well, but I'm still none the wiser what it means.
After meeting the Umbers, Bran goes to watch the tournament, and meets the Cerwyns soon after they arrive. They tell him about Stannis' letter, alleging that Joffrey is the bastard product of incest; this triggers Bran's repressed memory, causing him to hyperventilate and suffer what looks a bit like a stroke.
That night, he dreams of a golden man (Jaime) throwing him off a tower.
There's quite a lot to take in this chapter, and I like how Bran's childish perspective filters and shapes the adult issues going on around him. It's well-written and an interesting read.
Now, with Arya travelling north with Robert's bastard, there is a strong hope that evidence of the truth of Joffrey's parentage will be unleashed soon. Dare I hope?