Welcome to my A Dance with Dragons re- read. This week we are checking back in with Jon and Daenerys.
Jon takes the new recruits into the forest north of the Wall so they can say their vows before a heart tree. Even the men who did not grow up worshiping the old gods have chosen to take their vows there, and so Jon leads them himself. As they ride north Jon tells Iron Emmett that he's sending him to Long Barrow to be commander there, with Dolorous Edd as his second and an all female complement of wildlings. They approach the grove and their scout tells them that there are wildlings in the grove, and a giant too.
Jon approaches the grove with his people, and when the giant wakes up they almost come to blows, but Leathers saves the day by speaking to the giant in the Old Tongue, calming him. They say their vows and head back, and the giant passes the Wall. Jon finds on his return that he has a letter from Stannis, informing him that the king had taken Deepwood Motte. The letter says that Stannis had unexpected help- Alysane Mormont of Bear Island and her men had hidden in fishing boats and fallen on the ironmen along the shore, taking them and burning their ships. More northmen have come to Stannis' cause as news of his victory spread. And Jon thinks about Mance and the spearwives who went with him, south to find and rescue Arya if they can.
As I reread this I realize Martin spends most of Jon's time divesting himself of allies- this time it's Iron Emmett and Dolorous Edd. Knowing how Jon's story plays out I can see why he did it, although it's a bit irritating.
Dany and Barristan are outside the city overseeing food distribution to the sick people. The Astapori refugees are camped outside the walls, but Dany doesn't dare let them in the city or the sickness will spread. Dany takes it upon herself t help the sick and burn their dead, against her adviser's wishes. She returns to the city and must meet to discuss her wedding preparations, then she meets with Hizdahr. He informs her that Yunkai will accept peace, as long as she pays them in gold and gems, allows slaving to resume and installs Hizdahr as king. Barristan interrupts with news that the Stormcrows have returned and Daario wants to see her.
Daario tells her there are four free companies marching against her, along with the Yunkish and their various allies. One of the free companies is the Second Sons, led by Brown Ben Plumm. They have deserted Dany's service and gone over to the enemy. Dany is shocked, and orders that the city be closed to prepare for siege. She meets with Daario privately and sleeps with him, something she's been wanting to do.
This is all just setup for the battle of Meereen which we don't even get until the next book. All this mneuvering and preparing reminds me of Jon's arc, where we basically get a bunch of wheel spinning plot wise until the big thing happens at the end. Having read this several times I realize it now. Still, it's entertaining in its own way just because the characters are so interesting. But this feels like a non essential. Oh, and Dany finally gets her sexy times on with Daario the rogue. Whee!