Wednesday, February 17, 2016
A Dance with Dragons
Welcome to my A Dance with Dragons re- read. This week we are reading The Turncloak and The King's Prize- again Martin is using different names for these POV chapters. The Turncloak is Theon as we revisit him at Winterfell and the Prize is Asha Greyjoy (Theon's sister) who has been captured by Stannis. So let's jump in, shall we?
It is snowing heavily and Roose Bolton's forces are ensconced in Winterfell, waiting for Stannis who they know is marching from Deepwood Motte. Theon has served his purpose by escorting fake Arya to Ramsay at her wedding, and thinks that Bolton has no further use for him. He dreams of escape but has nowhere to go. Poor Jeyne Poole (fake Arya) is not seen outside of her chambers, but Theon has seen the bruises on her. He's trying to stay out of sight in the Great Hall when one of the spearwives comes up to him.
The spearwives are wildling women who have come south with Mance Rayder to rescue "Arya" , not realizing that she is really Jeyne Poole. Rowan is her name and she wants Theon to tell her how he captured Winterfell back in A Clash of Kings, she says Abel the bard wants to know. Abel is really Mance Rayder posing as a musician. Theon brushes her off and wanders the castle, eventually ending up in the godswood. He doesn't know why he's there but he prays to be saved, but doesn't know what else to say. When he goes back to the Great Hall he is scooped up by Lady Barbrey Dustin, who demands that he take her to the Stark crypts.
Barbrey mentions that Roose is displeased at the way Ramsay is treating "Arya", and she says the northmen fear the boltons but love the Starks. As they reach the crypts we discover that there are lower levels, the lowest of which is partially collapsed, and Theon has never been down that far. Theon asks Barbrey why she hates the Starks, and she tells him that it is for the same reason he loves them. He wanted to be a Stark- and so did she.
They notice that there are swords missing. Barbrey tells Theon that she knew Brandon Stark (Eddard's older brother) when he was fostered at Barrowton, and lost her virginity to him. She is still angry that he was promised to Catelyn Tully, and she says he didn't want catelyn either. Rickard Stark apparently had ambitions that were served by a southern marriage, and instead of getting brandon or Ned she was married to a Dustin. A Dustin who died in Roberts' Rebellion, and she blames Ned Stark for that, hence her hatred of him. And then the kicker... she knows that Catelyn sent Ned's bones north but that they never made it past the Neck, and she is keeping watch.
This chapter is interesting mainly because we learn why Lady Barbrey hated Eddard Stark so much. And... it seems to be confirmation that Hal Mollen and the party escorting Ned's bones north never left the Neck. Which is interesting because the Neck is held by Howland Reed, a bannerman of Ned's and still loyal as far as is known. Presumably Hal Mollen and Ned's bones are safe with Reed... and remember that back in A Storm of Swords Robb sent several people to Reed as well with the knowledge that he had legitimized Jon. Hmmm... for obvious reasons it sure would be nice to get a peek into Howland Reed's home as there could be some VERY interesting conversation happening there.
The King's Prize
Stannis' force marches from Deepwood Motte and Asha Greyjoy is along for the ride, watched over by Alysane Mormont the She- Bear. Three hundred miles we're told, through bad weather. Someone says that Robert would have forcemarched and been there and Asha thinks that Stannis lives in the shadow of his brother the former king. She thinks that she doesn't like Stannis much, that he doesn't have any real mercy in him. She heard at Deepwood Motte that Ser Justin Massey and many of Stannis' knights and lords had opposed marching on Winterfell, but the northmen clans had insisted. they would not suffer Ned Stark's daughter Arya to be married to Bolton's bastard, nor for them to hold Winterfell. Morgan Liddle, Brandon Norrey, Big Bucket Wull, the Flints and the She- Bear had all spoken thus.
Stannis is determined to march however, and so off they go. Massey often visits with Asha and Alysane Mormont says he wants her but Asha thinks it's her lands he wants. She gets to know Mormont a bit- Alysane tells her she has five sisters- Lyanna is back at bear Island and Lyra and Jory are with her mom (at Reed's again, presumably).She asks Stannis to free her and says she will help him, but he refuses. They make progress at first but when the snow starts to fall things go bad. Men and horses suffer and the march slows to a crawl. The southron turn on the northmen, blaming them for the march, but the northmen are undeterred. They are still determined to fight for Ned's daughter.
They finally come upon a village and Stannis calls a halt. He intends to march the next day but when Asha wakes up the following morning everything is covered in snow and no one is marching. It appears they have ground to a halt.
We get an interesting insight into Stannis from Asha's perspective. And it's stunning to me that the whole point of the march is to free Winterfell and Stark's daughter... little do they know she is not Arya, but Jeyne Poole. In that sense the march could be considered all for nothing. Stannis, if he loses, may lose because he marched to save a girl who is not even the right girl. But you have to give the northern clans credit for their loyalty- they are devoted to Ned Stark.