Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Dance with Dragons- Davos I

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)

This week we catch up with Davos Seaworth, former smuggler turned Hand of the King to Stannis Baratheon. We know that Stannis is at the Wall now, with Jon Snow, but here we find out what Davos has been up to, on Stannis' behalf.

Davos is before Borrell, the lord of Sweetsister of the Three Sisters. He is picked up in the Belly O' The Whale where he was trying to get passage off island. Borrell asks why he was there- a smugglers' den-  and Davos explains he was trying to get to White Harbor, with a message from Stannis. Davos notices that Borrell has webbing between his fingers... hmm. Merfolk blood?

Davos thinks that the Three Sisters have been a favorite of smugglers for years, and a pirate den before that. He was left on a boat after Salladhor Saan abandoned Stannis' cause. Twenty nine ships left Eastwatch but they lost half the fleet or more. The galleys Oledo and Old Mother's Son had been driven aground on Skagos. The Saathos Saan had foundered off the Grey Cliffs, and Bountiful Harvest had to be towed but then sank and took one of the galleys towing her with it. Saan loses it, fed up with losing his ships and waiting for the gold he was promised. Saan asks Davos to go with him but Davos won't do that.

I knew the day would come, Davos told himself. I was fond of the old rogue, but never so great a fool as to trust him.

Borrell says that Saan's fleet was spotted from Littlesister and also by the Flint's of Widow's Watch, and wants to know where the pirate is. He says that by rights he should give Davos to Triston Sunderland, lord of the Three sisters- Borrell is his bannrman, as is Longthorpe on Longsister and Torrent of Littlesister. The Sisters were loyal only to themselves, even though they nominally are sworn to the Vale.

Davos learns of Tywin's death from Borrell, and thinks that this changes everything. He asks to send a bird to Stannis, but Borrell won't risk anyone saying he aided Stannis. He says the Sunderlands dragged the Sisters into two of the Blackfyre Rebelliosn, and they all suffered for it. Borrell's granddaughter brings bread, and Davos stares at her hand. Borrell says she has the mark- like all Borrell's for five thousand years. Borrell is a wrecker- they scavenge ships that run aground, and they used to be pirate kings before the Starks came down on them, but now they use false lights at times to draw ships onto the rocks. Borrell took a bunch of spices off a sloe-eyed maid that was bound for Braavos, but unfortunately crashed.

Borrell is skeptical, but then says that only winter is certain- that Ned Stark had said that in this very hall. Davos is surprised to hear that Stark was there, and Borrell explains that at the start of Robert's Rebellion the young Stark had been trying to get home to call his banners. A fisherman's daughter got him across in a boat and he left her some silver and a baby in her belly- she named the boy Jon Snow after Lord Arryn.

"That was when Stark said, 'In this world only winter is certain. We may lose our heads, it's true... but what if we prevail?' My father sent him on his way with his head still on his shoulders. 'If you lose,' he told Lord Eddard, 'you were never here.'" 

"No more than I was," said Davos Seaworth. 

COMMENTARY: I liked the atmosphere of this chapter- the descriptions of Breakwater, the keep of Godric Borrell, were very vivid. Davos is brought there in the midst of a storm, and the place is old and leaky and dark, with waves swirling through its dungeons. Borrell is described as treacherous, but shrewd as well and he wants to be on the winning side- so he lets Davos live. The big deal in this chapter though is the revelation about Ned Stark being there once- it doesn't really change the story, but it does provide insight into Stark and Robert at the time of the rebellion. And perhaps a bit of misdirection about Jon Snow's parentage?

I'm curious about the webbing on the Borrell's hands- is there a merfolk connection?

Salladhor Saan was fun, I enjoyed the glimpse of him that we got in A Clash of Kings- but he's just fed up with Stannis here after losing half his fleet. No doubt Martin is showing us that Stannis never has it easy- setback after setback. It will be interesting to see if Saan shows up again, and where...

We get a Skagos mention here as well, after a mention of a goat with a long horn in Jon I. Martin seems to be dropping hints that Skagos may be showing up at some point.

"You have friends here, I do not doubt," said the lord. "Every smuggler has friends on the Sisters. Some of them are my friends as well."

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