Wednesday, January 20, 2016
A Dance with Dragons
Welcome to my A Dance with Dragons re- read. This week we revisit Tyrion on his way to Meereen, and check back in with Bran who is now with the greenseer.
Tyrion and Jorah are aboard the Selaesori Qhoran on their way to Meereen, and they have Penny with them, the dwarf girl they picked up in Volantis. Moqorro is also aboard a red priest Tyrion tries to draw Penny out but she rebuffs him, blaming him for her brothers death. Tyrion learns that it was an Osmund who hired her and her brother to perform at Joffrey's wedding. Moqorro tells Tyrion he sees shadows of those who are also seeking Daenerys- and one most of all, a tall and twisted thing with ten arms and a black eye.
This chapter is another that feels unnecessary. The character of Penny seems utterly unessential to the plot, and nothing happens here other than some foreshadowing.
Time is passing as Bran sits on a weirwood throne and sees things through the ravens. He hears the songs of the children of the forest at times. They call themselves those who sing the song of earth. Bran and Meera have given some of them names- Ash, Leaf, Scales, Black Knife and Snowylocks. Also Coals. Their true names are too long for human tongues, Leaf tells him. Leaf is the only one who speaks the common tongue.
The last greenseer says his name was Brynden, and Leaf tells them that most of him has gone into the tree. Meera says that Bran will be around after they are gone. It is easy for him now to slip into Summer's skin, but now he also slips into the birds. He realizes that someone else was in the raven he entered into, and Brynden explains that the singers (children of the forest) leave a part of themselves in their ravens, and that they taught the First Men to use raven as messengers but back then the birds would say the words.
Brynden explains that one man in a thousand is a skinchanger, and one of a thousand of those can be a greenseer. Jojen tells him that the weirwoods ARE the old gods, and that the singers become part of that when they pass into the trees. Months seem to pass and we learn that there are more than three score living singers, and the bones of thousands, in the cave and that it goes very deep. There is a river that flows deep and goes to an underground sea, and there are bottomless pits and ways that lead to the center of the earth. Leaf says even the singers haven't explored them all ,and they've lived for a thousand thousand years.
The singers are small, with brown skin and eyes like a cats that can see in the dark, and they only have three fingers with claws instead of fingers. Bran asks where the rest of them have gone, and Leaf says they have gone into the earth, the trees. Before the First Men they dwelt all through Westeros, and had long lives but few numbers. They are in decline now and the giants are almost gone as well, the unicorns are almost gone (there are unicorns in Westeros?), and the mammoths down to a few hundred. The direwolves will last the longest, Leaf says, but in the end there is no room for such in the realm of men.
Jojen and Meera go to the river, way down, and Bran goes in Hodor's skin after they leave. He doesn't want them to know he's using Hodor, and he thinks that the big man doesn't fight him anymore when he takes over. Bran finds singers that are basically part of the trees, like Brynden, and he thinks they're dead until he sees their eyes move and one tries to talk. Bran thinks he might be like Brynden someday, not eating or drinking but seeing through the trees and birds.
Jojen is getting quiet and there's something going on there- Meera says he's sad and his greendreams have shown him something. Eventually Brynden says it is time for Bran to take the next step and become a greenseer. He is told by Leaf to eat a paste of weirwood seeds, and does so. It tastes terrible at first, then becomes better as he goes and Brynden tells him to go into the trees. He does so, and has a vision of his father Eddard Stark cleaning his sword at Winterfell. The past apparently. Brynden tells him that the weirwoods do not move in the river of time, and that he and Bran can use them to see the past.
"Once you have mastered your gifts, you may look where you will and see what the trees have seen, be it yesterday or last year or a thousand ages past."
When he sleeps he has a vision of Winterfell in the past, and we see Eddard praying to the heart tree that they will "grow up close as brothers"- I'm assuming he means Robb and Jon- and that his wife can forgive him. then we see a young Eddard and apparently Lyanna dueling with branches- she looks like Arya. She's older and beats him. He sees other things, a pregnant woman who asks the heart tree for a son to avenge her, a girl kissing a knight as tall as Hodor, a dark eyed youth shaping weirwood branches into arrows, men in furs and chainmail, and finally a blood sacrifice.
We know of course that the greenseer is Brynden Rivers, also known as Bloodraven. This is one of those chapters where Martin gives us a lot of information, and he imparts it without info dumping for the most part- we learn it though conversations and skillful exposition, but it's a lot of info. Fascinating info though, as we finally learn about the children of the forest.
It's a little disturbing that Bran wanders the caverns in Hodor's body at times, and thinks no one must ever know. Eek. Bran has never had a teacher on warging, like Jon has (sorta) so he doesn't know what to do and not do, but some part of him knows it's wrong to use Hodor like that.
There's a lot going on in this chapter. I liked the glimpse of Eddard and (presumably) Lyanna. And what's going on with Jojen? We do not see him after Bran eats the paste, and may have theorized that Jojen was IN the paste- that the singers sacrificed him to open up Bran's powers. If so that's disturbing.