Wednesday, December 23, 2015
A Dance with Dragons The Windblown/ The Wayward Bride
Quentyn and his companions are with the Windblown, one of the mercenary companies that has traveled to Slavers Bay to fight Daenerys. The Windblown go back thirty years and are commanded by a man known as the Tattered Prince, a former Pentoshi nobleman. Quentyn is posing as Arch's squire and they've nicknamed him Frog. Nice. He's thinking about his impending meeting with Dany and is dreading it- they've heard stories about her promiscuity and her atrocities, that she's bloodthirsty. One of the Volantenes in the company says she's mad like Aerys was mad, and that it runs in the blood.
The mercenaries were in Astapor, and things are not good there. The city has been sacked, there are dead and dying everywhere and the city is aflame. They march north towards Meereen, to take on Dany next. There are other companies with them, and the Yunkish as well. Quentyn thinks back to the battle under Astapor's wall, and how it was a slaughter. His first taste of battle and it was a bloody affair. He knows the battle against Dany will be tougher, and knows they need to slip away and go to her before they face her on the field.
The plan is to abandon the mercenaries now that they've gotten this far, and they're just waiting for the right chance. They know that if they're caught as deserters it won't be good. Before they can do anything though they are summoned to the command tent, and told that they are part of a group that is going to defect to the other side, as spies for the Tattered Prince.
"You think Queen Daenerys will take us in..."
"...but if she does, what then? Are we spies? Assassins? Envoys? Are you thinking to change sides?"
The group is led by Pretty Meris, a particularly dangerous member of Tattered's inner circle. So... Quentyn and is boys get to head to Dany... but not how they intended.
This chapter is kinda weird because we get detailed descriptions of the Yunkish leaders and their followers, and they're pretty bizarre. This is again a sign to me that Martin got a little carried away with this whole storyline- the Meereen/ Dany/ Quentyn thing. We get chapters of description and the plot advances slowly. We get a glimpse of life in the Windblown, which is interesting, especially after seeing the Golden Company in the previous chapter, but still... this doesn't feel like an essential chapter.
THE WAYWARD BRIDE
Here we check in with Asha Greyjoy, the sister of Theon. She is at Deepwood Motte which she took from Galbart Glover, a bannerman of Stark who went away to war with him. Glover's maester brings her a letter from Barrowton- it's from the Boltons, and there's a piece of flayed skin with it. The letter advises Asha to get out of the north and that Moat Cailin has fallen. She thinks that her father would have understood the importance of Moat Cailin, but Euron is chasing dragons and cares not for the ironmen he has abandoned in the north. She knows they stand alone against whoever comes.
Asha thinks about how hopeless her situation is- she has about two hundred men but knows that the northmen will come to take back Deepwood Motte. She thinks back to what happened at the kingsmoot, when Euron was selected as the head of the Iron Islands. She fled rather than be killed and found out that in her absence Euron married her off to Erik Ironmaker a formerly fierce reaver who was now old and fat. She had offended Erik and was not in a hurry to go home to him...
Tris Botley tries to convince her to sail east with him, to make their fortune, but she declines. Tris is in love with her but she doesn't love him. They discuss the kingsmoot and the futility of resisting Euron, but then Tris says something that gets Asha thinking. There was a kingsmoot long ago where an eldest son was gone when the meeting was held, and came back later to retake his rightful throne from the one who had been elected- and inspiration strikes Asha. But then a horn sounds and there's no more time- the northmen are there.
Asha decides to make for the sea, where she has ships waiting, but before they get far the northmen are on them. A fierce battle ensues and Asha kills many, but eventually she is about to fall when trumpets sound and more men arrive.
Hagen's daughter burst naked from beneath the trees with two wolves at her heels. Asha wrenched loose a throwing axe and sent it flying end over end to take one of them in the back. When he fell, Hagen's daughter stumbled to her knees, snatched up his sword, stabbed the second man, then rose again, smeared with blood and mud, her long red hair unbound, and plunged into the fight.
Her arm ached, her mouth tasted of blood, her legs were trembling, and shafts of pale dawn light were slanting through the trees. Has it been so long? How long have we been fighting?
The trumpets are Stannis and his army, the northern clans that he won to his side after taking Jon's advice. Looks like Deepwood Motte is back in the hands of northmen... and Asha is going to be a prisoner of Stannis. The idea she got from Tris beforehand though- is she thinking of Theon? He is Balon's son. Maybe she intends to rescue him and take him back to challenge Euron's rule?