Friday, September 25, 2009

Clash of Kings and What's Next

When I started this blog I thought it'd be easy to just zip through the books and write my thoughts on each chapter. Unfortunately it's not like that. My experience with this series has become more and more dominated by the writing of entries rather than just reading chapters. It'd be nice to just read without having to stop and write each time, even though I will really enjoy rereading this blog. I've also returned to school, and I simply don't have the time or energy to continue regularly updating this blog beyond a snails pace.

Thus, this blog is on hiatus. I won't be posting new entries for Clash of Kings -- I won't even be reading the book. Once break comes around, when I'm refreshed and have some more time, I'll probably pick it up again. Some of you may ask, "how can you wait so long to find out what happens??" Well, I confess there were moments in Game when I really just wanted to zip through it. But this blog has really made me a rather patient and meticulous person -- I was never more than one or two chapters ahead of where I was writing. Its surprisingly easy to stop here and not pick up Clash, especially knowing this series isn't completed yet.

Thanks to everyone for reading (and sending me feedback emails), without you I wouldn't have finished this blog. When I started, I never thought I'd get so many readers and comments on every entry. I hope you guys come back when I start this up again.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Game of Thrones Disney Awards

The anti-Martin universe has to be the world of Disney movies. There are very clearly drawn good and bad guys. There's no rape, murder, incest, or blood. The main character always lives and there's always a happy ending. So what better way to summarize this book than through a Disney-inspired award show?

The "Pinocchio" Award for Most Incompetent Liar
Eddard Stark. He could not be more horrible at playing the Game of Thrones. Eddard is that guy who throws rock forty times in a row. Could you imagine him playing poker? "Cersei, I am going to bluff you next hand."

The "Sebastian-Iago" Award for Annoying Talkative Animal
Mormont's raven. Seriously, shut up. We get it, you repeat what people say.

The "Fantasia" Award for Trippy Sequence
Bran's crow dream. This kid would make a killing selling that weed. Plus there's no way cops would pat down a cripple.

The "Dumbo" Award for Useful Facial Deformity
The Hound's burned face. Nobody fucks with him.

The "Bambi" Award for Most Traumatic Childhood
Bran Stark, by a mile. He witnesses an execution, watches incest, gets pushed out a window, becomes crippled, is held hostage by criminals, parts with everyone in his family, gives up on his childhood dreams to become a knight, and has creepy crow nightmares.

The "Cinderella" Award for Clock Striking Midnight
Sansa, when she realized life isn't a song. Imagine Cinderella retold in King's Landing. Joffrey meets his dream girl at the tournament ball. After charming her, he has the Kingsguard beat her. When she escapes at midnight, he searches the entire village for the girl with a black eye.

The "Alice in Wonderland" Award for Overwhelmed Character
Eddard Stark. It's exactly like the Alice story, only if Alice was actually beheaded at the end.

The "Peter Pan" Award for Never Growing Up
Rickon Stark. He's already four years old and can't even swordfight yet. However, he can speak with dead relatives, predict the future, and hangs out in underground crypts.

The "Snow White" Dwarf Sex Award
Obviously Tyrion. He's horny all the time. For a 1930's movie, Snow White would make quite a porn film. A pure, innocent virgin lives with seven male dwarves -- you can't make up a more kinky scenario. Walt Disney was a closet pervert, and I'm convinced Martin is too. Top three names if Tyrion was a dwarf in Snow White? (1) Ugly, (2) Wealthy, (3) Horny.

The "Winnie the Pooh" Award for Jolly Stupid Fat Guy
King Robert Baratheon. The guy completely mails it in for his reign, even failing to realize his kids look nothing like him.

The "Little Mermaid" Award for Lack of Walking Ability
Bran. He's crippled. Also Othor. Disney should remake the movie and instead call it The Little Finger, an inspiring tale of a commoner who dreams of climbing the treacherous King's Landing social ladder to woo the woman he loves by creepily stalking her daughter.

The "Beauty and the Beast" Award for Deviant Sexual Fetish
Cersei and Jaime. Twincest is the best put your sister to the test. I wonder what Cersei would think if she saw her kids doing what she and Jaime did.

The "Jafar" Deceptive Wizard Award
Three way tie. First, Mirri Maz Duur for tricking Dany into letting her kill Drogo and Dany's son. Second, Varys for his seemingly magical (but really child labor powered) all-knowing capabilities. And last but not least, Littlefinger for his cunning manipulation of the City Watch, Eddard, and young Catelyn's panties.

The "Magic Carpet" Award for Craziest Escape
Arya channeling Barry Sanders and using Jedi mind tricks to escape the Lannisters. If the category was "craziest failed escape," it would go to Mycah, who would have to give a two-part acceptance speech. Rimshot.

The "Jasmine" Award for Hottest Princess
Tie, Cersei and Daenerys. I guess they both are technically queens, but I doubt anyone would care. Oh, and Maege Mormont. The senility makes it that much hotter.

The "Mufasa" Award for Parental Death
Eddard Stark. His son Robb just can't wait to be king.

The "Rafiki" Award for Weird Talking Old Master
Syrio Forel. I really hope he survived Ser Marilyn's attack, but knowing the brutality of Martin's universe, Arya will probably have to ID his severed head.

The "Pumbaa" Award for Best Wild Boar
John Wilkes Boar. Also known as the wild boar who snuck up behind Robert and gored his fat ass.

The "Pocahontas" Award for Worst Racial Stereotype
The Black Brothers. Because they are only comprised of bastards, rapists, murderers, and thieves.

The "Quasimoto" Award for Likable Yet Ugly Guy
Tyrion Lannister. He is so very awesome yet so very ugly. One day, he will find his Esmeralda, and hopefully she isn't a whore that his dad paid for.

The "Mulan" Award for Transgendered Individual
Two-way tie. Arya, for being so unlike her sister that everyone mistakes her for a boy. And Loras, for being so, so gay.

The "Genghis Khan" Award for Top 10 Biggest Badasses
10. Arya
9. Robb
8. Bronn
7. Littlefinger
6. Tywin
5. Direwolves
4. Syrio
3. Greatjon
2. Drogo

The "Happily Ever After" Award for Top 5 Happy Moments
5. Jaime gets captured
4. Robb wins over the Greatjon
3. Jon gives Arya "Needle"
2. King in the North!
1. Dragons sing

The "Wildebeast Stampede" Award for Top 5 Sad Moments
5. Lord Karstark's dead sons
4. Catelyn tells Jon "it should have been you"
3. Dany loses everything
2. Bran is chucked out a window
1. Arya watches Beheaddard

Monday, September 14, 2009

Catelyn • Daenerys

Catelyn seems to be keeping it together quite well despite Ned's death. She has a few words with her father, who inquires about Lysa and her uncle Blackfish. Why isn't Cat grieving more? Maybe she knows that she's free now to reunite with the love of her life and taker of her virginity: Littlefinger. They must have called him Petyr the Pimp, because he was organizing threesomes with highborn daughters when he was barely pubescent.

Robb and his bannermen have different ideas about what to do now that Renly crowned himself. Several of his men want to march and fight immediately, but the scared Frey guy wants to give Jaime back to Tywin and hug it out with the Lannisters. If I was that Karstark guy, I'd have beheaded that pussy Frey right there. Catelyn also argues for peace, but did she really think that these badass vikings would suddenly want to negotiate with GREGOR or Tywin just days after their sons died fighting them? Cat's "peace" is just another bad idea in a long, sad history of bad Cat ideas.

Fortunately, another solution presents itself. The northern lords are all proud guys. They don't like being subservient and they don't like taking orders, especially from a young boy. But winning battles is like miracle tonic -- it cures pride, ambition, and even dead sons. Much like the BCS, one simply cannot can't argue with an undefeated record. Everyone decides to collectively hop onto the giant, snowballing, wolf-shaped bandwagon that is Robb Stark. They all yell "The King in the North!" really enthusiastically, except Maege Mormont, who due to senility yells "The King of Winter!" Aw, nice try Maege, almost. Thus the North and Riverlands declare their independence, which is basically a gigantic "fuck you" to every single southern house, especially the Lannisters. But are the wussy southern knights really going to come up north and forcibly take the frozen tundra back? Maybe GREGOR will, but the rest of those pussies? I doubt it.

I was waiting for Dany's chapters to intersect more than just tangentially with the main storyline, and it never happened. Now we're at the last chapter, and I'm still not sure what the point of this whole ordeal was. Dany has learned some tough life lessons from the Princess School of Grim Realities (other students: Sansa). She is finally making decisions for herself, rebuffing Jorah's suggestion that they run away to Asshair (basically perv Jorah's attempt at kidnapping her). Don't get into his pedo van, Dany! Walk away! Ultimately, it all seems for nothing, because Dany has gone insane. She's prepping for a huge, ritualistic Drogo funeral pyre. Well, at least MMD gets what's coming to her.

While the fire rages on, Dany decides to walk through it with her dragon eggs. Once she started to do this it was pretty clear what was going to happen. She wanted a dragon omlette, with extra Khal and a side order of naked princess and a slab of well done evil sorceress steak. Instead, she "gives birth" to three living, breathing dragons -- one white, one black, and one hispanic. It's on now -- the dragons are back, and their owner is pissed. The Seven Kingdoms are so fucked.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tyrion • Jon

It's clear which of his kids Tywin likes best given his reaction to the news of Jaime's defeat. It's too bad his idiot daughter cut off the head of the only guy who could have been traded to get Jaime back. While Tywin stews, the Lannister war council reviews what happened at Riverrun. Basically Robb snuck up on Jaime while Tytos Blackwood "took them in the rear." Taken in the rear by some guy named Blackwood -- ouch. Tywin's little council is freaking out, even suggesting giving up. Perhaps Eddard will get his revenge sooner rather than later.

Also, Renly decided to declare himself King and Cersei wants Tywin's army to defend King's Landing. So Joffrey is the official king, but Robert has two brothers (Stannis and Renly) who both want to be king. Do they each have armies? Why don't they work together? Maybe they should have an election. Instead of dwelling on these questions, I focused on the much more important part of this chapter: GREGOR's new assignment of burning the river lands. I sense some kickass GREGOR SMASH action coming up soon. GREGOR even speaks in this chapter, suggesting that they cut the eyes out of every Lannister scout who failed to spot Robb's army. Blind scouts! I like it.

Tywin plans on sending Tyrion to King's Landing because Cersei and Joffrey "lurch from one folly to the next." You see Tyrion? Your father loves you. Or at least respects you enough to know your strengths... especially when his only other son is captured. Tywin gives Tyrion one last command: don't take the whore. It's actually good advice, because Tyrion seems to be falling head over heels for another pretty face who's clearly just after his wallet. But it seems like Shae's coming anyway. Tyrion is such a rebel, taking his personal whore when his father told him "no whores." Maybe he'll marry her, too.

Jon's planning on going south to help his half-brother Robb. Despite all those heart-to-heart talks he had with Benjen, or that blacksmith guy, or Aemon, or LC Mormont, Jon still decided to break his vows to the Night's Watch. Jon reverts into full self-loathing mode, telling himself that he'll never be accepted anywhere. Look on the brightside Jon, you can own land now. And have sex now. Probably both, as one leads to the other. But if he gets caught, he'll end up headless like Eddard.

Fortunately for Jon, his friends show up and convince him to come back with a cheesy oath recitation. Jon returns, and it seems LC Mormont pulled a Varys, predicting that Jon would leave and then come back. Old Mormont gives Jon a stern, fatherly lecture: Jon should stay for a lot of reasons, but mainly because undead invasions are pretty bad. Mormont likes Jon because he realizes the power of giant magical wolves and all that superstitious stuff. Jon obeys, and vows he'll stay. Jon needs an agent, because he probably could've gotten Mormont to allow at least a little sex or land ownage. Not that it would really matter, since the NW is planning on marching north -- a plan that has "disaster" written all over it. Yes, let's take the handful of badly trained guys we have and leave the safety of our gigantic wall to fight supernatural zombies. That sounds like a great idea.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sansa • Daenerys

Sansa was on stage when Ned's head came off, and it probably rolled to a stop just in front of her. Post beheaddard, Sansa for once has an understandable and non-idiotic reaction, grieving by going comatose in her room. She even fails spectacularly at suiciding out a window. Oh well, it was the thought that counts. Eventually Joffrey comes for her, because for some reason the Lannisters still want the marriage to go through. This time though Sansa is a tad less enthusiastic about marrying him. Obviously, Joffrey doesn't tolerate defiance, and treats her like Robert treated Cersei -- by beating her. Ah, good old teenage domestic violence. Except Joffrey is such a wuss that he can't even properly beat a young girl, ordering his guards to do it.

At court, Sansa observed as King Joffrey handed out extremely harsh sentences. Thus, Sansa shouldn't feel so bad, because Joffrey is clearly not biased against the Starks. He's just extremely pro-beheading. Joffrey is also pro-choice, giving a singer the option of keeping his fingers or his tongue. Joffrey muses out loud about whether their kids will grow up to be stupid like Sansa. I know Martin wrote that conversation as sort of a joke, but I see it as a perfectly legitimate concern. If my daughter were to take after dumbass Sansa, she would betray our family and cause my death. Not exactly grade-A genes there.

Joffrey actually shows Sansa her father's head. Sansa actually shows some backbone and talks back to him, but Joffrey does not hesitate to proxy Chris Brown her again. Sansa really should just stab Joffrey in his sleep or poison his food. Open defiance will just earn her more Meryn backhands. As her face swells up from the beating, Sansa remembers Petyr's words about life not being fair. However, the universe seems to know exactly who deserves what. Sansa betrayed her family the first time, and her wolf was killed. Sansa betrayed her family a second time, and now she's just a shell of her former self, living in her own personal hell. It might be harsh, but she brought it on herself. What will the universe do when Sansa makes her next blunder?

Dany is starting to go crazy, obsessing over her eggs and dreaming about her dead brothers. Her baby Rhaego was born dead, with wings and a tail. It's clear what happened -- the kid was a half dragon half human. No wonder the Targaryens married each other. If Dany had sexed Viserys instead, maybe she'd be giving birth to a full blood dragon. Wouldn't that be cool!? It turns out MMD had to sacrifice Rhaego to keep Drogo alive, but MMD sucks at black magic and was only able to retain a vegetable version of Drogo. Vege-Drogo can't lead anyone because he can't ride, and just about all of his 40k khalasar immediately left, taking the horses with them.

Dany finally figures out that MMD didn't have the best intentions. "But I saved you!" Dany cried. That means nothing to MMD, because she watched all her people die. Besides, she had already been raped several times before Dany intervened. And it was doggystyle! Apparently, rape is even worse when its performed using a sexual position you do not enjoy. It makes perfect sense, as the Dothraki are accustomed to hot wedding dancers, not old ugly lamb women demon sorceresses. In the end though, MMD had the last laugh, because she basically killed both Drogo and his son. Dany is broken and miserable, and that night decides to put Vege-Drogo out of his misery.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Arya • Bran

Arya's loss of innocence continues. She can now add bird hunting to her impressive list of skills. Knifing stable boys? Check. Neck-snapping pigeons? Check. I don't know what's more disturbing, Arya's complete nonchalance at bare-handed killing or her struggle to stay alive in the ghettos of King's Landing. I suppose her desensitized analytical mind is a key to escaping traps like the fake Wind Witch, but it also means she'll never become the typical princess. Arya doesn't bitch or moan through injury, hunger, or despair, and the universe rewards her stoic endurance of hardship with a front row seat to Eddard's confession and stoning. Where is the karmic justice!? You won't find any in Westeros.

And just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, Arya actually witnesses her father's execution. The whole sequence was very Braveheart-esque, with Arya watching powerlessly from the crowd and Sansa begging for his life on stage. Didn't Cersei understand that when word of this reaches Riverrun, Jaime's head is going to roll as well? Maybe that's what Cersei wanted all along -- Jaime was the only other person who could definitively confirm Joffrey's parentage.

Did I see Eddard's death coming? Of course! I spotted it a mile away. I can't believe Martin would be so cliche and predictable. Just kidding. I had no idea. I thought Ned would confess, be sent to the wall, and happily lead some sort of revolt with Jon's help. He's the fucking main character. He has POV chapters. You'd think Martin would at least let him die in his own chapter. Instead, Eddard dies right in front of his two daughters and his final POV words to the reader consist of a dickless spider offering him a choice between painkillers or Sansa's head. Eddard Stark: honorable, stupid, and now deceased.

So I finally confessed. Time to go to the Wall. Wait. Why is the executioner coming? Why is he picking up that axe? Why is he swinging it? What the f-

Even after this Arya chapter, I believed the beheading was fake using sleight-of-head. But the next chapter confirmed it: Ned was dead. He was now dead Ned. Or Deaddard Stark. Or Beheaddard Stark. When the Northern army hears about this, they are going to be so pissed. Bossman Robb and Widow Cat are going to flip out. Also, Arya is kidnapped by some weirdo creepy child molesting black brother who keeps insisting she's a boy.

Bran watches the dregs of the North fight in their yard. Eddard and Robb took all the good men south so Ser Rod is left training the rejects. No legged Bran watches with resentful stoicism, aspiring to be a half-knight on Hodor's shoulders. But MC Luwin shoots him down, because unreachable dreams can break Bran's poor legless heart. This is the north, and winter is coming. It's physically impossible for Ser Santa to visit every Westeros castle in a single night. The Easter Bunny doesn't actually exist, as rabbits (even direrabbits) do not have the intellectual capacity to decorate and and deliver eggs. Babies are not brought by storks, but rather created when a knight repeatedly thrusts his penis into his maiden wife's vagina. Or when a Dothraki best man feels like mounting an unsuspecting female wedding guest.

Branstradamus wants to go to the crypts to talk to his father because he dreamed he talked to Eddard there last night. While most kids would go play games or watch a movie, the Stark children visit ancient tombs and dream about talking to ghosts. Osha comes too, because the North has a rehabilitative justice system, unless you're a black brother (racial profiling, it happens even in the North). In the crypts, they find little Rickon already there, waiting for Deaddard. Both Stark boys can see dead people. MC Luwin remains skeptical, until a bird from King's Landing delivers the news: like Bruce Willis, Maester Luwin is actually a ghost who died years ago and exists only in Bran and Rickon's imagination. Also, Eddard Stark is dead. That's no surprise though. The Stark boys already know because they can see the future. Can Bran and Rickon see if they'll survive the next book? I can't wait to find out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Catelyn • Daenerys

Catelyn witnesses Stark-vs-Lannister Round 2. She remembers how she only knew Eddard for two weeks before he left for war, but that was enough time to knock her up. She has all those motherly fears of Robb dying, but she really shouldn't worry. Robb has grown a beard now, and bearded men are harder to spot and even harder to see. Robb will need it -- he's sneaking up on Jaime Lannister, who has no idea that he's coming thanks to the Seven Kingdom's version of a cell phone jammer (archers shooting birds down). I don't know why Cat is so worried. Win or lose, Robb will survive. He has a gigantic supernatural wolf protecting him.

The battle is a success, and the Starks have captured Jaime Lannister. But he's just a reckless sister-fucker. The real challenge is Tywin, who remains at large, like a child molester loose in the woods. Still, Robb beat half the Lannister army and can probably get Eddard back, as Cersei would almost certainly trade for her brother. This battle also proves that other than GREGOR, the southern knights really suck. The badass northern bearded viking men may be non-knighted, illiterate, and stubborn, but they know how to fight. Winterfell! Woooo!

Drogo is dying thanks to MMD's poison. It's painfully clear to the bloodriders and even half-retarded Drogo himself that the maegi is bad news, but Dany is a dumbass and still doesn't realize. She even calls for MMD to treat the Khal after he fell from his horse, which is apparently the biggest Dothraki signal of doom and death. Its like an Irishman dropping his mug or a Chinese kid forgetting his multiplication tables -- when it's over, you just know.

Dr. Jorah shows up and diagnoses in five seconds that Drogo is as good as dead. Jorah advises that they flee and hide in Asshair. The bloodriders get pissed and start smacking a Duur, but Dani stops them because, well, she's an idiot. Dany is starting to panic, because once Drogo dies, the bloodriders will turn on them. Incredibly, through massive, incomprehensible stupidity, Dany decides that their best shot is to let MMD perform another dark ritual. Yes, that's right -- she's essentially letting Drogo's poisoner finish the job. Jorah should just bitchslap Dany and take control, but instead he fights the bloodriders so that MMD can finish her crazy incantation. Then Dany goes into labor, and her stupidity was so great that it became contagious, infecting Jorah and her handmaids. They decide to bring Dany to MMD, because who better to deliver a baby than a clinically insane demon sorceress?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Daenerys • Tyrion

Dany supervises post battle clean up, which involves little girls dutifully retrieving arrows from dead corpses. Khal Drogo had just conquered two other khalasars, and his men are happily pillaging and raping. Their victims are a peaceful agricultural village who are literally called "lambs." Drogo will sell all his captives into slavery, where healthy young boys and girls will fetch a handsome price. I assume this is where Varys makes his orders -- the Meereen version of, where he can get free super saver shipping on orders of 50 or more "little birds." Dany chooses this exact moment to start a women's rights movement, stopping several rapes. Drogo supports her, telling his riders to "find other lamb women" instead of raping the ones Dany chose to protect. Great job Dany, you "protected" a dozen women while several thousand others continue to be raped.

One of the former rape-ees is this woman from Asshai (yes, that's the actual name of the place, haha) who wants to help by treating Drogo's wound. The bloodriders don't trust her, but Dany does. Mirri Maz Duur was being raped, her people were being murdered, and she's some sort of demon sorceress, but other than those things, what's not to trust? The most damning evidence against MMD is that Martin spends far too many words talking about her for it to be a normal healing. Dany has experienced so much hardship and despair yet somehow remains far too trusting and innocent.

Tywin decided to put Tyrion in the vanguard of the attack, which can be interpreted as a big honor or even bigger insult. Tyrion doesn't seem very pleased that he wasn't given command -- Tywin put GREGOR in charge. Did Tyrion expect to be the leader or something? Will men even follow him into battle? Also, if you want to survive a war, there's no easier way than to be the tiny dwarf who fights next to the largest guy out there. Despite this, Tyrion storms off, upset at his social status among Tywin's inner circle. Meanwhile, he has more important things to do, like entertain the whore that Bronn found. Her name was Shae, and she was a good actress. Tyrion "suspected" that her delight during sex was faked. Come on now, Tyrion -- you're supposed to be cunning and intelligent. I'd put the percentage chance of Shae faking an orgasm with the "Giant of Lannister" at roughly 800%.

The next day's battle came early. I like the way Martin writes his battles -- POV really makes it seem quite personal and less like the scientific "200 men move left" type of sterilized storytelling. Tyrion actually does decently in the battle, holding his own with the help of some luck. Half his barbarians died, but I doubt Tyrion cares very much. The important thing is that he (and Bronn) survived the battle. Afterwards, it turns out Tywin counted on Tyrion and his men breaking, so even in victory, Tyrion disappoints his father. The battle on the whole was a huge success, but it seems Robb wasn't there and is making for Riverrun instead. I'm not going to pretend I understand all the tactics and who has what army and where, but I assume Tywin thought he was engaging the entire Stark army but only part of it was here, so the Lannisters fell for some sort of fake out.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Catelyn • Jon

Walder Frey is the Hugh Hefner of the Seven Kingdoms. He's old, he has many wives, he's slow, and everyone operates on his time. His castle is called "the Twins," presumably due to his love of boobs. I'm calling it right now, once the war is over, Lord Frey is going to start up the first major porn magazine, rated NC-8. That's right, children under the age of eight won't be able to read it -- the harshest, most stringent rating ever given in Westeros. Question: What's the best way to cross the Twins? Answer: a motorboat. Haha.

Lord Hefner has quite an ego, taking a page from George Foreman's book and naming all his sons after himself. He wisecracks that Catelyn just wants to get him alone because she has "designs on his fidelity," and makes her jump through all the requisite hoops to make him feel big and important. It seems Walder and Hoster are not the best of friends, and in the only measuring stick that matters (number of sons), Cat's father simply doesn't have enough. Walder Frey must be a medical marvel to be able to still make sons at the age of ninety, and he is unimpressed by just about everything. But in the end, all it took to secure safe passage was a marriage pact between Robb and one of Walder's many daughters. Just like that, the northern host crosses the equator. To the south lies lions, battles, and Robb Stark's first real test.

Jon hears that Robb is marching south, and that the rest of his half-family is either preparing for battle or already captured. Jon relives his battle with zombie Othor at night when he dreams about the undead corpse with Eddard's features, and during the day when he endures the pain of his burned and bandaged arm. It must be quite "hard" for him, to forswear women and also lose usage of his right hand. But Emo Jon doesn't return, because the Lord Commander gives him House Mormont's prize Valyrian steel sword "Longclaw." It was meant for Jorah but we all know he's kind of a loser, so Jon gets it instead. While a flamethrower would be more useful, the sword is an awesome, well-deserved gift. Jon's friends are impressed and clearly jealous, but then again they never had to fight zombies. Sam even had a greatsword named "Heartsbane" once. But rearrage that name and you get "he eats Bran," so Jon shouldn't let Sam near his little brother. At least not when Sam is hungry.

Jon goes to MC Aemon, and they have a heart to heart chat about decisions. You see, MC Aemon isn't just a blind man. He's the brother or uncle or whatever of the Targaryen kings that Robert hates. He's the Master Emo that even Jon can respect -- Aemon went from royalty and dragons to books and ravens without making even one blog post. And he says its Jon's decision to make; to stay or go. I think he'll stay. How much help could one extra bastard sword be anyway?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sansa • Eddard

Sansa watched as the newly crowned King Joffrey read out the list of traitors, which included her parents, brothers, aunts, uncles, and a host of other names. Basically, it was a checklist of every cool character in the series, minus Tyrion and the Cleganes. Then he dismisses Ser Barristan from the Kingsguard and appoints Tywin and Jaime to high ranking positions. I know we're supposed to feel bad for this old guy, but Mr. Selmy really wasn't getting it done. Did the United States let whoever was protecting JFK guard the next President? Hell no. If I was Cersei I'd fire him too.

Sansa then begs for Joffrey to spare her father's life. Of course, had Sansa not been an idiot and divulged Eddard's plans to the Lannisters, Joffrey would be the one begging for mercy. Eddard will have to confess to the crime, something I doubt he'll do because of his rigid adherence to honor and duty. What a mess. Is Martin trying to make us hate women? Because Catelyn arrests the wrong guy, Cersei is a gigantic bitch, Sansa is a vapid traitor, and Lysa is literally insane. The only two likeable female characters are a trophy wife for The Rock and a preteen wild child who is basically a boy.

Eddard is not having a fun time in the dungeons of King's Landing. He blames himself for failing Robert and for the horrible situation he's in. He lost to Cersei in a battle of wits. That's like losing to Sam in swordfighting or GREGOR in chess. It should have been like taking candy from a baby. Eddard becomes delusional, talking to himself and dreaming about the good old days, when he wasn't locked up in a windowless room for being a traitor to his best friend. He remembered the time Jaime was inducted into the Kingsguard (lol bad decision, Aerys) and when Pimp Rhaegar dissed his own wife for Lyanna.

Varys comes in and tells Eddard about all the mistakes he made: his decision to warn Cersei, his refusal of Renly's offer, and not listening to Littlefinger's advice. Varys tells Eddard what he should do: swallow his pride, confess to treason, and be granted mercy by the Lannisters. If Eddard can do that, he'll be sent to the wall. Not a great fate, because we all know Eddard loves his whores and property rights, but it's still better than being dead. What's Vary's stake in all this? Why, he's just serving the realm... and trying to save his own ass. If Eddard can't do it for himself, then he should do it for his daughter. Varys then offers Eddard a choice -- does he want the next visitor to bring him milk of poppy for the pain, or bring him his daughter's head?

To me, neither of those two choices sound so bad. Of course, I'm kidding. I don't actually want Sansa dead. Not because she had good intentions, or that she didn't know any better, or that a largely innocent young girl doesn't deserve such a fate. I don't want Sansa dead because living out her days as Joffrey's wife and Cersei's daughter-in-law is a far worse fate than death.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Daenerys • Catelyn • Tyrion

I decided to do three chapters because not much happens in the Dany chapter, and the other two are also better summarized if read together. That and they are filled with a ton of names and locations and military tactics that I don't really understand.

Dany has been trying to get Khal Drogo to conquer the Seven Kingdoms, but he's not interested because they'd have to cross a huge sea. The Rock would sink to the bottom of the ocean and horses can't drink seawater. Dany goes to the Western Market, where someone tries to assassinate her with poisoned wine. Jorah saves her, but only because he's operating on threat level midnight -- he knows an attempt is coming. Afterward, Dany tries to make a dragon egg omelette by cooking them in the fire, but they don't hatch. However, the assassination attempt pisses off Khal Drogo enough for him to declare war on the Seven Kingdoms. Watch out Westeros, the Dothraki are coming!

Catelyn arrives at Robb's camp. She quickly realizes that her son is leading this gigantic army to war, and he's just this fifteen-year-old who is brave but extremely inexperienced. She then tells him that if he loses, there's no hope for any of the Starks -- his father and sisters would forever be captives and they would spend the rest of their days in a Lannister dungeon. But hey, no pressure. The rest of the chapter is spent discussing military tactics and appointing commanders. I only recognize the Greatjon and Karstarks, the rest of the northern bannermen are unfamiliar to me. Robb doesn't seem very confident in his decisions, and that doesn't bode well for his chances, no matter how badass his army may be.

Tyrion finally returns with his mountain clansmen in tow. Tyrion discusses military tactics with his father Tywin and his uncle Kevan. After reading Martin's description of Tywin, I can't shake the picture of a bearded Captain Picard / Professor X. The guy is never phased, and seems to be completely in control of any situation, even when the clansmen busted in on their meeting. Tywin speaks with such supreme confidence, its easy to feel bad for the Starks. It seems like Robb is in for a rude awakening now that he's playing with the big boys.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Jon • Bran

Ghost didn't find Uncle Benjen. The severed hand belonged to the corpse of a guy named "Othor" who was a member of Benjen's party. Yes, that was his actual name -- Othor. Very subtle, Martin. Why don't you just name the guy that went after Bran "Lannistor." The Nights Watch men bring the corpses back to the castle because there's something weird about them. The bodies don't rot, and no animals but Ghost will go near them. When Jon gets back to the Castle Black, he finds out via raven letter about all the crazy stuff that's been going down at King's Landing. He can't believe that Eddard is a traitor, and almost knifes Ser Alliser when the knight makes fun of Ned.

Cue "Thriller" music! Darkness falls across the land, at midnite crawls a zombied hand. "Othors" crawl in search of blood, to terrorize Jon's neighborhood. And whosoever shall be found, but Jon's great white wolfhound. Jon and Ghost hear the horn's call, to face undead south of the Wall. The foulest stench is in the air, the funk of several thousand years. And grizzy ghouls from every tomb, are closing in to seal Mormont's doom. And though Jon fights to stay alive, his body starts to shiver. For no mere mortal can resist, the evil of "the Others."

And just like that, Emo Jon was no longer emo. Fighting disfigured, undead zombies justifies infinite whiny blog posts. As Othor attacks, the words of Jon's favorite band Dashboard Confessional echo in his mind: "let it end in flames; let it burn."

Back at Winterfell, a huge army is massing to march south. I thought the Starks were badass, but their neighbors make them look like pansies. Everyone is huge, bearded, and fierce. But the loyalty of Eddard's bannermen was not a sure thing. Robb had to earn every bit, including having Grey Wind bite the fingers off Greatjon Umber's hand. All seem to hold honor, duty, and strength in high regard, the same qualities that doomed Eddard down south. Robb receives Sansa's letter, which is even more infuriating than her actions: it summons him to King's Landing so he can swear fealty to Joffrey to spare Eddard's life.

Bran goes to talk to Osha, the woman who tried to kidnap him a few chapters back. She's Stark-ified now, and dispensing cryptic northern wisdom. She warns that the old gods have no power down south, and that Robb is marching in the wrong direction. At that moment, naked Hodor comes sprinting out of woods. Hodor is the retarded giant stableboy. His "manhood swung long and heavy," and Osha comments, "now there's a big man." It's nice to see Martin isn't above penis humor, but it doesn't lighten the mood in Winterfell. Robb is leaving and may never return, and the two younger brothers remain crippled, Bran physically and Rickon psychologically.

Will the Starks get their happy ending? I hope Robb marches straight into the Red Keep. Remember when Joffrey said that sparring with tourney swords was a children's game? He told Robb to come see him with real steel. Well, he's coming now, and he brought the North with him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Arya • Sansa

Arya practices parrying in her final session with Syrio. No wonder Arya was so reluctant to go home to Winterfell -- she was learning "true seeing" and was just a handful of lessons away from telekinesis. Eddard should take Syrio home and have him train all his guards. Syrio tells the story of how he became the first swoard of Braavos -- the king there had a cat, and everyone thought it was amazing, even the cat itself. But in reality, it was a normal cat, and Syrio was the only man to speak the truth to the king. He's teaching Arya to not over-think, to trust her senses and her instincts. That's the lesson of his story. That, and people in Braavos can't identify an ordinary cat. Perhaps its also a convoluted metaphor for how Catelyn isn't special at all and is just an ordinary fat woman?

Lannister men burst into the room, interrupting their lesson. Intent on capturing Arya, they haven't taken Syrio's "true seeing" lesson, so they just see an old dancing master, but its actually a dude that can kick their asses. Syrio takes them all on with just a stick, beating down the guards easily. Next up is the heavily armored Kingsguard knight Meryn Trant, and Syrio seems outmatched. However, if Petyr = Peter and Eddard = Edward, I conclude that Meryn = Mary Anne. Thus, even though its left open ended, I have faith that Syrio pulls out the win, because Ser Mary Anne is doomed by his girly name.

Arya doesn't stick around to see the end of the fight, using her special skills to flee the castle. On her way, she evades a stable boy who tried to grab her. And by "evades," I mean "brutally kills." Just like that, Arya adds to her long list of very adult things experienced at a very non-adult age. She watched her friend be cut in half, was forced to ditch her childhood pet, was trained in survival skills and swordfighting, witnessed her household guards be killed, and now actually commits manslaughter. "Loss of innocence" is obviously a big theme in this book, as just about every child POV involves kids dealing with issues beyond their age, but an eight-year-old stabbing and killing another kid exceeds even Martin's extreme standards. Arya killed someone, but at least she escaped, and thats something to cheer about. Stupid stable boys should keep their hands to themselves.

Sansa waits in her room for the fighting to finish, praying for her father, her guards, and her Lannister boyfriend. It was such a Sansa thing to do, to sit passive and clueless, hoping that everything just works out. Cersei tells her that Eddard was a traitor, and we learn that Sansa was the one who informed Cersei of Eddard's plans. Are you freaking kidding me? By leaking this information, Sansa endangered the lives of her family, effectively sentenced her household guards to death, and screwed over everyone who truly loves her. All because she has a crush on dumbass Joffrey who treats her like crap anyway. Sansa: destined to be the abused druggie escort of King's Landing.

The council is threatening to break her engagement, reasoning that traitor blood runs through her veins. If that were true, Joffrey should just marry Myrcella now, because they are inclined to be ultra-incestuous. They can have a threesome with Tommen, and if you throw Tyrion in the mix and record it, you could sell the tape to a dozen different niche fetish groups. Lannister porn: something for everyone, and keeping the house wealthy for the next thousand years.

Cersei should be opposed to a Joffrey-Sansa marriage solely because her grandkids would be dumb as bricks. She might as well marry Myrcella to GREGOR, and then all her grandkids can take the same bus to school (the short one). Of course, Sansa is devastated that she might not marry Joffrey, but the council won't listen until pedo Petyr chimes in, suggesting that Sansa resembles her mother more than her father. I'm not sure which is worse. Would you rather be the inept, humorless guy who can't think his way out of a box, or the bitter woman who falsely arrests the only innocent member of a rival house? Cersei and the council convince Sansa to write letters to convince the rest of her family to surrender. Sansa actually buys it, partly because she wants desperately to believe everything will be fine, but mostly because she is 100% grade-A stupid. The difference between Sansa and her sister could not be more Stark.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Jon • Eddard

Lord Commander Mormont speaks at Jon’s graduation from lowly trainee to prestigious black brother. Thanks to Jon, Sam is graduating with them, on the way to becoming a steward. Jon watches as his friends join the rangers, only to have his name called to be a steward as well. Suddenly, Emo Jon is back, and oh how we’ve missed his tantrums, martyrdom, and superiority complex. Jon looks ready to put on his black eyeliner and blog about his woes, but Sam tells him that by making him his personal aide, LC Mormont is actually grooming Jon to be his heir. Jon says he never asked for this, but I’m sure he never asked to be a bastard either. You don’t always get what you want, Jon. Plus, being Mormont’s bitch is like being a Supreme Court clerk: you gain a ton of subtle power and experience in exchange for waiting hand and foot for some old guy. Grooming Jon makes perfect sense from Mormont’s standpoint: Jon has all the positives of a highborn upbringing and none of the Waymar Royce pretentious douchebaggery.

Jon and Sam say their vows and become official Night’s Watchmen. I must admit the NW oath is pretty badass, complete with epic words and powerful sayings. The vows better be awesome if you’re forswearing women and personal property for the rest of your life. They are about to head back when Ghost finds something in the snow. It’s a hand. Not Jon Arryn, or Eddard, but a real, human hand. Did they just find Uncle Benjen?

Eddard slowly makes preparations to seize power from Joffrey. He presents to the council King Bob’s dying wish to make him the “Protector of the Realm,” but Cersei simply rips up the royal decree. Both sides tensely face each other, and Eddard calmly tells the city watch to arrest the Lannisters. Instead, they kill Eddard’s men, because that double crossing Benedict Arnold slippery snake Littlefinger betrayed him! Poor Fat Tom, speared through the chest without warning.

Eddard may be surprised, but there’s no way his plan could have worked. He warned Cersei days in advance, refused Lord Renly’s offer of help, and put all his trust into the man who has a lot of reasons to dislike Starks. Littlefinger was almost killed by Eddard’s brother, loves Eddard’s wife, and creepily stalks Eddard’s daughter. What makes Ned think that this guy was going to be loyal to him? Plus, LF is all about the bottom line dollar-wise, and House Lannister is by far the richest family. Tyrion said it best to Bronn: the Starks are not made for this type of stuff. They can be honorable and dutiful and extremely badass, but they suck horribly at being deceitful or cunning. You want the Starks on your side when you play football, not chess.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Daenerys • Eddard

Dany is busy eating a horse heart, because if she doesn't, her fetus will be born weak, deformed, or (GASP) female. She manages to finish the entire heart and keeps it down, much to the satisfaction of the Dothraki crones. They proclaim that her kid will be the "the stallion that mounts the world." Dany will be so proud, since not everyone's son gets to be a gigantic horse that humps planet earth. She names him Rhaego, a cross between her brother Rhaegar and her husband Drogo. Rhaego is the Dothraki version of Darth Vader, destined to fulfill some crazy prophecy.

While this is going on, Viserys is frequenting the local markets, getting wasted on wine. He finally shows up at the ceremony, but he's drunk and carrying a sword. It's forbidden to have steel in Vaes Dothrak, so obviously Viserys built a time machine and returned with a plastic sword, because nobody would be so stupid as to directly defy the law of a vicious, war-centered race who wouldn't hesitate at all to kill an annoying beggar king. Viserys then draws the sword, waves it around, and threatens Dany's kid. Yes, the same kid who the Dothraki see as their future planet humping, prophecy fulfilling, Darth man-horse. This is obviously not a smart thing to do, but Viserys was never the smartest of men. In response, Drogo calmly kills him by pouring molten metal over his head. Finally, douche Viserys gets whats coming to him, and Dany severs the last binding tie to her old way of life.

Robert is dying, gored by a boar during his hunting trip. This is far too convenient timing, and I subscribe to the Varys-hinted theory that the Lannisters were behind it. Before Bob dies, he names Eddard protector of the realm, very similar to what that old emperor did in Gladiator. Eddard doesn't want the throne, and that's why "it must be him." King Bob's decision isn't going to sit well with the Lannisters, and Ned will probably be enslaved and forced to fight in the Colosseum for the amusement of the King's Landing mob. Then he'll reveal his identity as Eddard Stark, Warden of the North, Lord of Winterfell, Hand of the King, loyal servant to the true King, Robert Baratheon; father to a crippled son, husband to a boring wife, and he will have his vengeance, in this life or the next.

On his deathbed, Robert makes Eddard promise to take care of his children. Ned can't bring himself to tell Bob the truth about his kids, so he silently thinks of all of Robert's true children, scattered around the realm. Can you imagine Catelyn's face when Eddard brings back ten more bastards to take care of, even if they aren't his?

Eddard plans to crown King Bob's eldest brother Stannis, beacuse Joffrey isn't his true heir. Robert's younger brother Renly offers his help to grab power by capturing Cersei's kids, but that is too dishonorable for Eddard. Let me repeat that: it's too dishonorable to temporarily capture the kids of a woman who not only has kids with her brother but also attempts to kill crippled, comatose children. Littlefinger suggests a different plan, recommending that they make peace with the Lannisters, bide their time, and reveal the incest later on. Eddard can't stomach playing nice with the Lannisters, because they killed Jory and tried to kill Bran. However, Eddard isn't stupid: he knows he needs more swords than he has, so he arranges with Littlefinger to purchase the City Watch's support, just in case.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sansa • Eddard

Sansa is puzzled that her father sent the "too old" 22-year-old Beric Dondarrion instead of Loras to deal with GREGOR, explaining to her friend Jeyne that Eddard's injured leg was probably impairing his decision making. No you stupid girl, the reason he didn't send Loras was because GREGOR would absolutely destroy pretty boy. Sansa needs to learn that in a fairy tale, the hero may slay the monster and marry the princess, but in real life, being eight feet tall, angry, and ridiculously strong easily trumps magical flower powers. In addition, Sansa still has no idea that pedo Littlefinger is only nice to her because he wants to proxy-fuck Catelyn by getting into Cat's daughter's pants.

Amazingly, Sansa is still in love with Joffrey, conveniently forgetting that his family executed her pet, attempted to assassinate her brother, and killed several of her household guard after severely wounding her father. She reasons that it wouldn't be fair to blame Joffrey for something his uncle Jaime did, because that would be like "blaming Sansa for Arya's actions," conveniently ignoring that Cersei did exactly this a few chapters ago. Sansa gets into yet another argument with Arya about Mycah's death, prompting Arya to nail her in the face with an orange, adding yet another badass skill (throwing accuracy +10 points) to Arya's growing list of badass skills. Unable to cope with Arya's awesomeness, Sansa retreats to her room, where Eddard informs his daughters that they will be sent back to Winterfell. The two girls finally agree on something: they love King's Landing, albeit for vastly different reasons. Sansa is in full fledged teen freak out mode now that she won't be marrying Joffrey, her dreams of being queen crumbling right before her eyes.

I feel pretty stupid that I didn't see that Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen were products of incest. In retrospect it seems so obvious. George mentioned hair color a dozen times and kept calling them "lions," but the most obvious clue was that they all acted like prissy, pretentious jerks. Now that Eddard knows the big secret that the previous Hand died for, he just needs to wait until Robert gets back to smash some Lannisters. Instead, Eddard decides that it's a good idea to tell Cersei that he knows her secret. Since there's no poison lying around and no window to push Eddard through, Cersei admits to the whole thing. We also learn that Robert and Cersei don't have the healthiest of marriages. They barely ever have sex, and in the rare instances they do, Bob is always drunk. Once, he even called Cersei "Lyanna" in bed (hahahaha).

Cersei then busts out her version of the Godfather offer: don't tell anyone and I'll have sex with you. Eddard's response:

Eddard says, "Did you make the same offer to Jon Arryn?"
She slapped him.
"I shall wear that as a badge of honor," Ned said dryly.
Somewhere in the King's Landing, the sun is shining bright; the knights are jousting somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light, and somewhere wolves are howling, and the treasury is broke; but there's shock in the godswood -- Eddard Stark has cracked a joke.

Cersei doesn't think it's funny, and hits Ned below the belt, making fun of his bastard son. If I had three kids with my brother, I'd probably refrain from making fun of the pedigree of other peoples' kids. Also, if I was Hand and I found out the secret that got the previous Hand killed, I wouldn't warn the person that did the killing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Game of Thrones Halftime Report

I felt it was necessary to write an entry with more generalized comments about the book that wouldn't fit in a standard two chapter entry, and also answer a few common questions that appear in the comments.

* I'm really enjoying the book thus far, and I'd like nothing more than to tear right through the rest of the book to find out what happens. However, when I started this blog, I made a promise to my friend (and myself) to see it through to the end. That means not reading ahead and completing entries on time. But those that worry that I don't love the book and won't finish, fear not, because as I said in my first post, if I've gotten this far, I'm in for the long haul.

* The relatively slow pace of blog posts is not because I don't want to read. As I said, I'd love to just blow through the rest of it. I can read very quickly. However, I'm reading this book differently because I write entries for it. It may hurt my first experience a bit, but after I'm done with the whole series, I'll probably be very happy that I did it this way. Also, there's a million characters in this book and many have multiple nicknames. I don't have the luxury of just shrugging my shoulders and reading on, because if I confuse characters, locations, or events, it's obvious to anyone reading the blog and doesn't make for good entries. Thus, I do a lot of appendix flipping, and often ask my friend to explain things in a non-spoiler way when I don't fully understand. For example, I was at page 300 before I realized Jaime was the Kingslayer.

* I don't read all the comments because I have an extreme fear of spoilers. I have someone who screens them and forwards me the ones that contain no spoilers. He errs on the side of caution, so I might not have read your comment even if you think it isn't spoiling anything.

* To those asking me to focus more on what's going on and make fewer jokes, I'll keep your suggestions in mind, but I can't really change how I write. I'm going to miss things (sometimes important things) and I'm also going to make silly jokes and stupid comments. This blog is as much for me as it is for anyone reading. I know that this book is over a decade old and has been discussed to death, so I'll leave the serious analysis to those that are better than me at it.

*For each book, I'll do one halftime post like this with general thoughts, and one big summary post when I finish.

I hope this clarifies (and reassures) a lot of those who posted comments. This blog already has far more readers than I expected, and I'm thankful for all the feedback. If you want to talk to me directly, feel free to email me at blogoficeandfire (gmail), but make sure you don't spoil anything, or I will hunt you down and kill you, Sandor style.

More Game of Thrones halftime bullets:

* If it wasn't clear already, my favorite POV thus far is Arya by a mile. She's hilarious and awesome and she's the mischevious little kid sister I wish I had. Also, she's basically been leveling up on Nu tech points ever since the Starks landed in King's Landing, and I am excited for what she'll learn next

* My least favorite POV would have been Sansa, but more than half the time she just watches Arya do stuff, so I don't really mind her chapters. Other than her, I find the Catelyn and Eddard chapters somewhat dull. I understand they are necessary for plot exposition, but those two don't have much personality. Even Eddard's super hardcore manly northness was worn away by the bureaucracy of the Hand desk job. I'd say the Bran chapters are kind of boring too, but the kid is already crippled there's no need to pile on him more.

* My favorite non-POV character is GREGOR, and as awful as this sounds, I wish George would cut him loose more. GREGOR rage is always entertaining. But rearrange the letters in "George R.R. Martin" and you get "Restrain Gregor." Free the beast, George. Free GREGOR.

* I also like Littlefinger, because he symbolizes the American dream: person of modest birth works hard and moves up in society, only to creepily stalk the underage daughter of the woman who spurned his advances years ago.

* I like Tyrion's chapters, but I don't sympathize with him. Yes, it sucks to be a dwarf, but I doubt he'd trade his smarts or wealth or powerful bloodline for average height. If you offered Tyrion the choice between being himself or being some dumbass knight, which would he choose?

* My favorite place is the Eyrie castle, despite it being the home of fat Lysa and her annoying kid. I like the Vale's wholehearted embrace of marijuana culture, calling their bastards Stoners and being "high as honor" on the high road. Lysa and little Rob Arryn seem to be heavy users, as the side effects of pot include increased risk of infertility (check), impaired judgment (check), paranoia (check), psychological dependence (check), and intense anxiety or panic attacks (check). They really shouldn't smoke up so much.

* Why are the heroes (the Starks) so dumb? Is it something in the northern air? Most of the decisions that Cat, Ned, Sansa, Jon, and Arya make have been ridiculously stupid. While Jon and Arya are receiving excellent guidance from their peers and teachers, Cat and Ned continue to make idiotic moves left and right.

That's it for now. I could probably go on forever, but this entry is long enough already. The pace of the blog updates should pick up over the next month, as I have less real-life commitments now that the holiday weekend is over. I'll try to post once every two days or so. I hope you guys are enjoying the blog and I look forward to the rest of the books!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tyrion • Eddard

Tyrion and Bronn attempt to sneak by all the mountain clansmen that harassed them on their way into the Vale. From their banter you can tell there’s no genuine love between these two, who travel beside one another for necessity and mutual benefit. Tyrion lets Bronn know that the Lannisters are a bottomless pit of gold, and will always match the price of anyone trying out-bid them. This also explains the reason why Tyrion paid Mord even though he hated him: to show Bronn that Lannisters are good for whatever debt is owed. Tyrion doesn’t want Bronn to have any doubts about getting paid when they reach wherever they are going.

However, despite the quid-pro-quo atmosphere, the two do bond a little. Tyrion tells Bronn about his first love, a story that puts Sam Tarly’s childhood to shame. His father Lord Tywin had a whore pretend to fall for Tyrion to teach him a lesson, and makes him watch as an entire barracks of soldiers screw her. Tywin then makes Tyrion do her one last time, which gains his son closure, newfound wisdom, and a dozen STDs. It was a good deal for his fake whore wife though, as she probably made out like a bandit. Martin can check off "gang bangs" and "virgin dwarf sex" in his list of deviant sexual practices that appear in this series. I am half scared and half curious as to what’s next on that list.

Tyrion decides not to hide from the mountain clans, lighting up a fire and openly roasting a goat. Sure enough, the mountain clansmen arrive and seem ready to kill them. But Tyrion makes an offer to their Scandinavian chief Gunthor: allow them safe passage, and Tyrion will give them the Vale of Arryn. I wonder how he plans to do that, given the imPREGnable defenses. Maybe Tyrion will buy it from Lysa?

Eddard sits on the throne, listening to the village folk’s tales of brutal attacks by well-equipped brigands. They identify GREGOR as the leader, ordered by the Lannisters to terrorize the Riverlands villagers. A bunch of Lords and Sers that I do not recognize are pissed about this, and Eddard appeases them by sending an army of knights to deal with it. What can they really do though? Can’t GREGOR just demand trial by combat? Who would fight him? Loras tries to be a badass by volunteering for the job, but Eddard denies him, probably for his own good. Eddard really should have sent Loras, because you never know when a jousting tournament or a trial-by-jousting could break out.

This chapter is disappointing because nothing really happens. All the men of action like King Bob and Jaime are out of the city, leaving wet blanket Eddard to sit on the throne. Boring!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Catelyn • Jon

Catelyn is upset that Lysa consented to Tyrion's trial by combat. Arresting Tyrion was a huge gamble, resulting in the death of several of Winterfell men, Eddard’s injury, and near war with the Lannisters. Now, it might all be for nothing because of Lysa’s stubbornness and stupidity. Also, isn’t Tyrion on trial for two separate crimes? Shouldn’t he have to go through two trials to fully vindicate himself from Jon Arryn’s death and the attempt on Bran? Does this TBC completely clear him of all charges? If that’s the case, Tyrion might as well commit a few more murders before the TBC starts.

Lysa and her knights seem quite sure Ser Vardis will win, since LeBronn went straight from high school to sellsword, skipping Knight College. However, men that fight for money are usually (a) very good at fighting and (b) very self-interested. While Bronn is obviously doing this to score points with Tyrion, he’s not going to throw away his life recklessly. Obviously Bronn thinks he will beat Vardis, or he wouldn’t have volunteered.

After wearing out the older and dumber Vardis, Bronn wins the TBC. Tyrion is innocent! Little Robert Arryn, who grows more annoying every chapter, freaks out and wants to execute Tyrion anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, the rulers of the Vale: a weak, breast milk sucking kid with no sense of justice, and a fat, paranoid, stupid widow who falsely accuses people of murder. Because the gods judged Tyrion innocent, Lysa is forced to allow him and Bronn to leave the Eyrie. However, she has them take the mountain clan infested high road. Tyrion doesn’t seem to mind, probably because anything is better than being chucked off a cliff.

Jon Snow and his merry men are finally out from under Ser Alliser’s boot. The guest speaker at their graduation is Ser Alliser himself, who inspires them with motivational truths like “when the winter comes you will die like flies.” They have become brothers of the Night’s Watch, and now officially can’t own lands or have sex. The only person who is still in training from their group is Sam, who will no longer benefits from Jon's friendship and protection.

Jon's worried that pedo Thorne will start the Sam-spankings again, so he asks Maester Aemon if Sam can graduate anyway, arguing that Sam’s skills at math and reading are far better suited for a steward than for a ranger. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with Aemon’s current steward Chett, who is as ugly as Sam is fat. The Night’s Watch should really have an admissions office that determines specialization for the new recruits. For example, the thieves should not be put in charge of the treasury, the rapists should not be near women, and fat softies like Sam should be given some sort of desk job. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t expect that level of efficiency from the guys who thought it’d be a good idea to build a 700-foot wall that’s only used once every thousand years.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tyrion • Eddard

The "sky cells" are probably the most horrifying yet awesome thing about the Eyrie. Instead of a prison wall, it has an open 600 foot drop with a slightly slanted floor. and the floor is slightly slanted -- feel free to escape. I love how Martin uses language, culture, and land features to greatly distinguish each geographical area in Westeros. The Vale is straight out of the 1960's: their motto is "high as honor," their bastards are stoners, and everything about their castles, from the vertigo-inducing journey to the wall-less cells, makes the entire ordeal seem like one gigantic acid trip. This includes the breast milk chugging sickly child lord and the fat, illiterate jailer named Mord, who I desperately wish had his own POV. "Not give angry dwarf-man beans today. Tomorrow, also not give beans."

Tyrion isn't the most humble prisoner, and his sharp tongue provokes Lysa into throwing him in a sky cell. Tyrion gets out by faking a confession and instead demanding a trial. Unfortunately, crazy little Robert Arryn is the judge, which means nine times out of ten, people are chucked out the moon door regardless of guilt or innocence. But Tyrion has one last trick up his sleeve, demanding trial by combat. Apparently, TBC means you or your champion fights one-on-one with someone, and your fate is decided based on the results of the fight. It doesn't matter whether you committed the crime or how many people saw you do it. Does this mean that GREGOR basically can never be found guilty of a crime? If he gets accused of anything, he can just demand trial by combat, kill one guy, and he's free? Does it really work this way? Murder someone? Trial by combat. Rob a bank? Trial by combat. Parking ticket? Trial by combat. It's essentially a perpetual, personalized get GREGOR out of jail free card.

When Tyrion requests TBC, Lysa and her knights laugh, because he's the anti-GREGOR: small, clever, and non-threatening. Despite Tyrion's vast battle experience consisting of somersaulting off roofs, fork dueling master-at-arms, and axing mountain clansmen, he clearly is no match for one of Lysa's knights. Tyrion may not even be fit to fight, having eaten nothing for the past few days due to Mord's bean dumping. Lysa believes she has him cornered because his first choice champion is miles away in King's Landing, doing more important things like Hand-crippling and sister-screwing. However, Tyrion's new BFF Bronn steps up to be his champion.

Eddard is comatose due to his broken leg, and dreams about his past rescue of Lyanna. I'm sure it's a nice dream and these characters are all very compelling, but I just want to know what happens in King's Landing after Jaime jumped Eddard outside the brothel. After the fight, Jaime fled the city, and everyone now knows that Catelyn captured Tyrion. Cersei is insulted that the Starks would dare arrest a Lannister, even though she and Jaime are responsible for pushing Bran out a window and subsequently sending an assassin to kill him. How dare Eddard "attack" Jaime while returning "drunk from a brothel." Getting wasted and violently attacking a rival house does not sound like an ordinary Eddard Stark Wednesday night. Much like the Arya-Joffrey incident, it is very clear who is telling the truth.

Cersei continues ranting about Robert's his bromance with Eddard, suggesting that Bob should be the one wearing skirts. She might actually be right, as a skirt would be more comfortable for fat guy who outgrew his armor. Instead of taking her fashion advice, Bob snaps and backhands her across the face. Applying Cersei's own logic, how dare she attack his hand with her face? Eddard reiterates his desire to quit, but Robert commands him to stay as Hand. Why does Bob insist Eddard be Hand if he never listens to his advice? Still, the position has its perks -- you get front row tickets to Robert "honoring" Cersei.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Daenerys • Bran

Dany finally arrives at Vaes Dothrak. It's funny that the Dothraki are so skilled at riding and conquering, yet suck so badly at basic things like building huts. Eddard and Robert must be closet Dothraki, because they are also great at straightforward conflicts but are equally horrible at politics and finesse. I wonder what crime Jorah committed that caused Eddard to send him into exile. Is he really going to kill Dany? Why is he allowed to just travel with the Khalasar in the first place? It doesn't make sense that the Dothraki would just let some random white guy tag along with them so close to their leader. I also found it funny that in the old days, a Khal's bloodriders would share his wife, but never his horse. Dothraki hierarchy must be something like Crone > Khal > Bloodrider > Horse > Wife > Viserys.

While Dany is assimilating herself into the Dothraki culture, Viserys becomes more deluded every day. He's seen a joke by everyone in the Khalasar, only he doesn't know it. I'm curious how someone could grow up in such a way. For instance, Joffrey's personality is understandable given his upbringing, but Viserys grew up poor and in exile. MC Illyrio must have really spoiled him for Viserys to develop his extreme sense of entitlement and gigantic superiority complex. Even the most bratty kids can be cowed somewhat, but nobody ever gave Viserys the advice he really needed, and now he's beyond the point of rehabilitation. When Dany brings him gifts, Viserys flips out, because he simply doesn't know how to be anything but a gigantic douche, even for just five minutes. That's the biggest difference between him and the Joffrey: Viserys can't even pretend to be nice. That and he doesn't have a powerful support system around him. Dany finally stands up to him, and it must have been a very cathartic experience, because she suddenly starts talking weirdly to her dragon eggs. Maybe she should sit on them?

Things aren't going very well for Stark brothers. Their uncle is missing, their father is wounded and comatose, and their mother arrested a perfectly innocent dwarf. Bran still can't remember that Jaime pushed him off that window balcony, and Robb is faced with many difficult decisions as the acting Lord of Winterfell. Catelyn probably left him a nice reminder list: 1) Post a guard outside Bran's room, 2) Lannisters are not to be trusted, and 3) If you go riding with your cripple brother, do not leave him alone by a river. Robb unfortunately forgets rule three and leaves Bran by himself to go find the direwolves. As if on cue, Bran immediately gets captured by bandits. He may be the unluckiest kid ever, because the two times he's been left alone in this book, he's managed to suffer a debilitating accident and become involved in a hostage situation.

Robb finally returns, and the hostage negotiations begin. After much deliberation, the bandits decide to reject Robb's initial offer of a quick and painless death in exchange for surrender. A battle ensues, with huge magical wolves on one side and ordinary outlaws on the other, resulting in a lot of blood, guts, and chewed up outlaws. One of the men holds a knife to Bran's throat, but Theon arrives and takes him out with an arrow. As thanks, Theon gets an earful of stern Robb lecturing, because shooting a criminal with an arrow is far more risky than leaving your vulnerable crippled brother unattended.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Catelyn • Eddard

After a perilous journey, Catelyn finally arrives at the Vale of Arryn. Her sister’s castle has more levels of security than Fort Knox, and is an acrophobic nightmare of cracking spiral steps, narrow windy bridges, and sickeningly steep ascents. It takes Catelyn days to reach the top, ironically guided by bastard girl Mya Stone. When Catelyn has a vertigo freeze up on the mountain crossing, Mya was there to help her. See Cat? Bastards aren’t all evil. I predict in a few chapters, Martin is going to reveal that Cat herself is a bastard, and we’re going to get one of those great “Noooooooo!” screams.

Catelyn chats with her uncle Brynden the Blackfish, who to my great disappointment is not actually black. After some more climbing, she finally meets her sister at the Eyrie. To quote Martin, Lysa Tully has become “thick of body” and “pale of face,” which is a nice way of saying she’s a fatty who never leaves the house. Martin must have realized the lack of creepiness in this chapter, because everything was totally normal until Lysa suddenly whips out a boob for her six year old son to suck on. In the wake of Jon Arryn’s death, Lysa has become a paranoid, overprotective, crazy woman. Traumatic family incidents tend to do that to people. Just ask Catelyn, who kidnapped the son of a powerful house for a crime he didn’t commit. Ladies and gentlemen, the Tullys: no incest, but horrifically bad decision making nonetheless.

We see the consequences of Cat’s action immediately. Jaime Lannister confronts Eddard and Littlefinger outside a brothel, and he’s quite pissed about Tyrion’s disappearance. If Eddard was clever, he’d say “Mr. Lannister, I do not know the whereabouts of your brother, but I might have more information in a few hours, when I will have more than two guys with me.” Instead, Eddard predictably answers “Of course I arrested that stupid dwarf,” which results in a very one-sided fight, a very broken leg, and a very dead Jory.

The shit really hit the fan this chapter. I wonder what Jaime’s reasoning was behind wounding Eddard and killing his men. I doubt it would actually help Tyrion, because when Catelyn hears about this, the poor dwarf is going to get tortured even more. If that’s the case, why didn’t Jaime capture Ned and trade him for Tyrion later? Because he’s Jaime Lannister, man of action, whose strongest trait was never thoughtful planning. The Starks and Lannisters are now at each other's throats, just like Varys predicted.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Arya • Eddard

Syrio told Arya to chase cats all day. This seems like very obvious foreshadowing, so maybe Catelyn gets kidnapped in the mountains and Arya has to find her. Arya had just caught the Moby Dick of cats, the infamous black tom, when she suddenly sees Prince Tommen and Princess Myrcella having sex. Before Arya could hide, Myrcella spots her. Tommen says “the things I do for love” and pushes Arya out the window. Somewhere in the distance, a wolf was howling. Crows circled the Red Keep, waiting for corn.

Myrcella, Tommen, and their guards, being typical pompous highborn assholes, mistake Arya for a beggar and collectively look down on her. Arya panics and escapes via waterdancing, but quickly gets lost in the castle. This allows her to overhear a conversation between two mysterious men, with topics ranging from Dany being pregnant to the possible assassination of her father. One of the men is Varys, because he talks about obtaining fifty more magical CIA surveillance birds. I have no idea about the other guy, but he is also familiar with King’s Landing politics. From the names they mentioned in the conversation, the other guy cannot be Eddard, Stannis, Lysa, Loras, Littlefinger, Tyrion, Tywin, or Jaime. I believe this guy is the mastermind in the game of thrones. Everyone else is just a pawn. Based on exhaustive analysis, I have concluded that this man is GREGOR.

Eventually Arya finds her way back but Eddard does not believe her story, even though Arya doesn't seem like the type to just lie and make stuff up. In other words, she’s not Sansa. Listen to your wise and awesome daughter, you stupid Hand.

Jorah the mole reports that Dany married The Rock and is pregnant with Rhaegar 2.0. F├╝hrer Bob has a final solution to the Targaryen problem, but Eddard protests because he feels squeamish about killing children. Even though Eddard admirably champions his principles, when it comes to the Targaryens, Robert is as difficult to budge ideologically as he is physically. Bob has a point, because letting Dany and her son live would be taking a stupid, unnecessary risk. The council agrees and begins discussing possible assassination methods. Robert doesn't want to poison her, because it would be too cowardly. So there exists some sort of courage scale in King Bob's head where "poisoning" ranks lower than "killing the unborn child of a teenage girl."

Child murder proves to be the deal breaker for Eddard, who resigns his position as Hand. The bromance between Ned and Bob is over. Eddard came south, picked up the pieces to a huge, confusing puzzle, and failed miserably at putting it together. Now, he's finally free. The Starks are headed back north, where they will arrive at Winterfell happy and rested. Eddard will discover that Catelyn and Jon have also returned, and have grown to love each other like only a mother and an illegitimate bastard son of a nother woman can. There's no violence or fighting. It's just one big happy family reunion.

Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords are just very, very misleading titles.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Eddard • Tyrion

Eddard watches Sandor beat Jaime in the tourney semifinals, much to the delight of Sansa the dog whisperer. Before the second match we get some juicy Gregor back story. Basically, the dude is a cross between Hulk and Satan. He's extremely large, strong, and angry. He kills infants, rapes princesses, and burns faces. Everything around him dies in mysterious fashion, including his wife, his father, and his sister. Despite his evilness, Gregor is also a hilarious, over the top character that deserves his own television show. It would be awesome if there was a reality show that followed Gregor around during common rage scenarios, like waiting in line at the post office or getting stuck in traffic. Or maybe a talk show like Oprah or Geraldo except titled GREGOR, where every day one unlucky guest is brutally beaten to death.

Gregor’s opponent is Loras, who is basically a jousting boy band singer, complete with gem-encrusted clothing and a sleek, effeminate body. He’s the Leonardo DiCaprio of knights, hated by guys and loved by teen girls. Fortunately for him, it seems like 99% of females in Martin’s book are under the age of eighteen, so his Q-rating is through the roof. The match seems like David versus Goliath, except this time David has a mare in heat instead of a slingshot and stone. Loras uses his horse’s smelly vagina to drive Gregor’s stallion into a horny frenzy, winning him the joust. Gregor does not like being tricked, because GREGOR SMASH. But Sandor surprisingly steps in to save the kid from an imminent Gregor-induced death, and Loras concedes the finals as a thank you.

Later that night Varys secretly visits Eddard to tell him of the Lannister plot to assassinate King Bob during the melee. Eddard talks Robert out of participating, but Cersei and her cronies will try again. It’s up to Eddard to save King Bob and take down the evil Lannisters, but he has no idea what to do. Robert continues to be dumb and clueless -- he couldn’t save Jon Arryn and can’t really help Eddard now.

Tyrion is very unlucky. He’s been hanging out at the freezing cold wall, and on his way back he gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. On their way to the Vale, Tyrion repeatedly tries to convince everyone that he was not behind the attempt on Bran. We learn that he would never bet against his family so he couldn’t have won the dagger, and that Littlefinger is a big selfish liar. How to get your dream girl: (1) lose to her future husband in single combat, (2) boast about taking her virginity, and (3) creepily touch her daughter. Bullet-proof plan, Petyr.

The journey is filled with rough terrain, horse eating, and dangerous mountain clans. They are attacked, and Tyrion surprisingly fares quite well in his first battle, probably because he is the perfect height to club a guy in the balls. After they win, Bronn proclaims that Tyrion needs a woman, because there's “nothing like a woman after a man’s been blooded.” Tyrion should totally proposition Cat for a quickie, though for her to agree, she’d have to be super drunk, have amnesia, and pick up a dwarf fetish. No harm in trying though. Will Cat eventually be convinced of Tyrion’s innocence? What’s going to happen to Tyrion once they reach their destination? If I wanted to frame Tyrion, I’d send another assassin, armed with another one of Tyrion’s super recognizable daggers, only this time to the Vale to try to kill Lysa’s son. That’d probably clinch it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Catelyn • Sansa

Catelyn and Ser Rod travel north in secret. They are prissy high society folks, so they risk staying at an inn instead of camping by the road. It’s not a five star place, but it’s completely filled due to all the travelers going to King’s Landing for the tournament. The inn has a deafening dinner bell, a shoe polishing kid, and singers that solicit for money. Catelyn and Roddy were inconspicuously minding their own business when Tyrion suddenly walks in. The annoying singer draws his attention, and Tyrion quickly recognizes Cat. Since this is Catelyn’s old neighborhood, everyone knows that she is the daughter of the most important lord in the area. So when she asks for help arresting Tyrion, everyone draws their swords. 

I hope Tyrion kept the receipt for that cripple-saddle. He’s very unlucky to have picked this particular inn. Why would he so readily greet Catelyn if he sent the assassin? It seems even more likely that Jaime and Cersei moved against Bran and set up their brother to take the fall. Is Cat really just going to take him back to Winterfell and execute him? Before she does that she should send a raven to Jon Snow with a letter that reads “I arrested your dwarf friend, he’s going on trial for murder. It should have been you.” 

Last time in Sansa’s first chapter, Martin cleverly disguised her inherent boringness by having Arya and Joffrey drive the action. This time, she attends a tournament where dozens of new characters are introduced. At this rate, the third Sansa chapter will be set in the middle of circus, battle, or hurricane. We see all the action at the Hand's Tourney through Sansa's eyes. She observes that the southern knights look better, and they seem to joust better too, as Jory is the only northerner to make it out of the first round. Who cares about jousting anyway? Everyone knows that wolf-raising, midnight ranging, and deserter executing are far more useful skills.

Because Sandor’s burned face and nonchalant murders aren’t scary enough, we meet his brother Gregor, who is armed with even more size, strength, and brutality. He even has a more goon-ish name. Martin should always write his name in caps. GREGOR. Both Cleganes make the final four of the tournament, along with Jaime and the “Knight of Flowers” Loras Tyrell, who gives a red rose to Sansa. She’s instantly smitten by his metrosexual charm, but the moment is ruined by weirdo pedo Littlefinger. He creepily introduces himself and strokes her face, but stops short of asking for a lock of hair or some toenail clippings.

Sansa is happy because Joffrey is nice to her during dinner. Joffrey predicts Loras will lose to Sandor or Jaime, and that when he is old enough he’ll win all the jousts, assuming Arya never enters. At the end of the night, drunk Sandor takes Sansa home, and they share an intimate moment -- if intimate moment actually meant terrifying therapy session. Sandor has some serious issues, but opens up and reveals to his new shrink Sansa that his face was burned by his brother. In a refreshing take on doctor-patient confidentiality, Sandor threatens Sansa with death if she ever reveals what he said. 

PS -- can you imagine a Gregor POV? “Sandor take Gregor toy Gregor burn Sandor head.”

Friday, May 29, 2009

Jon • Eddard

A new recruit suddenly appears in the practice yard. Everyone stops to stare because he's fat and rich. Samwell Tarly is also weak, cowardly, and insecure. His lord father disowned him for being such a huge wuss, and gave him a choice between taking the black and having a hunting accident. Randyll Tarly then calmly ripped the still bleeding heart out of a freshly killed deer. I take back everything I said about Southerners -- sometimes, they can be just as hardcore as the Starks.

Unsurprisingly, Fat Sam sucks at sword fighting. Ser Alliser sees an opportunity to indulge his sexual deviancy and has Halder spank Sam with a sword. Jon steps in to defend Sam, and later forms a pact with the other boys to protect him, much to the dismay of their now flaccid master-at-arms. Jon had taken Donal and Benjen’s advice to heart: Sam may be fat and pathetic, but he is still a member of the watch, and one of the few black brothers who isn't a rapist or thief.* At the end of the chapter, Jon wonders where his missing uncle went. My guess would be Benjen is busy helping Waymar reanimate dead wildlings. 

* out of context, this sounds ridiculously racist 

The big tournament brings many knights and whores to King's Landing. With them comes crime, conflict, and an appealing array of new smells. But it’s not all wasted money, as the Super Bowl-like atmosphere stimulates not only the whores but the entire economy of the city. Eddard doesn't like tourneys or brothels -- he would much rather execute deserters or stand solemnly in the cold. Maybe King Bob should reconsider his choice for the Hand position, because Ned isn't doing so well. Here’s a list of job titles, can you guess the ones that are well-suited for Eddard Stark? 1) High school principal, 2) prison warden, 3) late night talk show host, 4) pimp, 5) Hand of the King.

Eddard is investigating Jon Arryn’s death, which leads him to a blacksmith’s apprentice named Gendry. Eddard discovers that this boy is King Bob’s bastard son. “Gentry” means highborn or aristocrat, and while Martin probably chuckled at the wordplay, even Robert wouldn’t be so stupid when naming his secret kid. So Lord Arryn was about to discover and probably reveal that King Bob wasn’t faithful to Cersei, and the Lannisters whacked him before he could? Eddard’s thick, manly eyebrows furrow as he attempts to parse through all the mystery and political intrigue.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bran • Eddard

Bran whines a lot, but it’s justified because he can’t walk. When will he not be entitled to complain anymore? According to the Eventual Mitigation of Severe Tragedy Formula Union (EMOSTFU), the grace period for a tragic event is equal to twice the amount of time you lived without the tragedy. Thus, in Bran’s case, it's two times however long he possessed the ability to walk. Assuming all Stark children could walk the instant they were born, Bran can whine until he’s at least twenty-one. That's a long time. Crap. 

He’s also a jerk to Old Nan, which is definitely not justified. She’s just trying to help and advise him by telling him about the Others. Thus far, 100% of people who have ignored wise old advice have been turned to zombies, so Bran should really pay attention. Instead, he's interrupted by Tyrion’s arrival. Despite Tyrion’s handicapped saddle gift, the direwolves still hate him. Gee, I wonder why. Tyrion is lucky that Bran doesn’t remember who pushed him, or else he wouldn’t leave Winterfell alive. 

At the end of the chapter, Robb and Bran share an intimate, non-homosexual non-incest moment, showing that their parents’ absence is taking its toll on all of them. Come on guys, get a grip. Starks don’t cry. Besides, this is the north, where tears freeze before they reach your beard.

Eddard is investigating the circumstances of Lord Arryn’s death. Why did Cersei want him dead? Is the Grand Maester in on it? These questions are far too nuanced and complex. Eddard, with all his duty, honor, and hard work, is built more for straightforward problem solving. He’s a firefighter, not a detective, whereas Littlefinger is an investment banker, Robert a washed up football player, Cersei a trophy wife, Varys a CIA director, Pycelle an elite French chess player, and Joffrey the spoiled rich kid who will one day get his comeuppance. 

Eddard sees Arya practicing hard at “dancing” before he’s summoned by Littlefinger, who leaks to him the identities of several informants who keep tabs on him. It’s like Eddard is peering down the rabbit hole of King’s Landing politics and finally realizing that he is way out of his depth. This place operates on an entirely different set of rules, the most important being “trust no one.” A wise man once said, if you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the council meeting, you are the sucker. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Arya • Daenerys

Arya is lonely. Her father is stressed and busy with council meetings, her wolf is gone, her butcher boy is in pieces, and her sister blames her for Lady's death. Even if Sansa would talk to her, they have nothing in common. Arya likes sword fighting, horseback riding, and being awesome, while Sansa's interests include sewing, betraying her family, and reinforcing traditional female gender roles. At dinner, Arya loses her appetite, tells her Septa to suck it, and contemplates running away as she hides in her room. Eddard visits her there, and in true Stark parenting style, allows his eight-year-old daughter to keep a deadly weapon. He also signs her up for sword fighting lessons, presumably because he wants Arya to accidentally decapitate the next poor butcher boy she befriends.

Arya’s "dancing" instructor is Syrio Forel, who apparently graduated from Wise Old Master University along with Pai Mei, Yoda, and Mr. Miyagi, because he has the complete repertoire of unorthodox methods, hidden skills, and a strange way of speaking. In her first POV chapter, Arya received a uberspecial sword. This is her second chapter, and she is already on her way to becoming a ruthless preteen killing machine. I see where they are going with this. In chapter three she will gain the power of flight, and chapter four will have her stopping bullets and traveling back in time.

Dany isn’t having fun. Martin goes into graphic detail about how she rides hard during the day and gets ridden hard at night. It’s so bad that she contemplates suicide, but is stopped by some wacky empowering dragon dream. Soon, she’s beginning to tolerate and even enjoy her new life. As they travel, Dany becomes more confident, more aware of her unique situation, and more like a true Dothraki. The end of the chapter is very significant -- she is symbolically seizing control by becoming the rider instead of the mount. It’s also the first (and hopefully last) time I feel glad that a tiny thirteen-year-old was impregnated through public, animalistic sex with a gigantic horse lord.

Viserys is the exact opposite of his sister, growing more detached and delusional each day. Every time he goes off on one of his crazy wake-the-dragon rants, Ser Jorah and MC Illyrio humor him to his face, but exchange nervous, knowing looks. Amazingly, Viserys thinks it’s completely fine to discipline the Khal’s wife via boob grabbage just as he's done numerous times before. This time though, it’s not the same. This isn’t a king punishing his subject in King’s landing, or an older brother asserting dominance over his younger sister in MC Illyrio’s slave quarters. This is a pathetic pretend dragon offending Drogo's queen. This is a Khalasar crossing the Dothraki Sea, and that means egotistical little punks get choked with whips.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Eddard • Tyrion

Eddard has his first council meeting and learns that the treasury is bankrupt due to Robert's lavish spending, presumably on fatty foods. Afterwards, Littlefinger leads him to a secret rendezvous with Catelyn. Thinking Littlefinger was just stringing him along, Eddard almost punches him, but Ser Rod sans barf beard appears to confirm that Cat was there. Did Eddard really think Littlefinger took him to a secret passage that led outside the castle, then down a rock cliff, then on horseback to a brothel just to set up a one liner "your wife is inside" joke?

Littlefinger delivers zinger after zinger, taking nothing seriously apart from his feelings for Catelyn. He shrugs off the huge royal debt, suggests that Eddard fondle some breasts, and sarcastically golf claps when Eddard first recognizes Catelyn. I was disappointed that Littlefinger didn't ask about Jon, and that Eddard didn't politely request some time alone with Catelyn. Come on dude, it's been a while since you've last seen your wife, and you're already in a brothel. Eddard should have done it just to see look on LF's face.

After hearing Catelyn's story about the assassin and how Bran's wolf saved both their lives, Eddard suddenly realizes that he probably shouldn't have killed Sansa’s wolf. Littlefinger suggests that they just pretend the super recognizable Tyrion knife doesn't exist, but Eddard is too proud and too righteous to forget about something of this magnitude, even if it’s in his own best interest. The Lannisters had enough power and influence in King’s Landing to murder the previous last Hand, so Ned will ultimately hang his hopes on the King. However, Robert is politically inept and disinterested, allowing his council to run the kingdom while he requests another party.

The Night’s Watch is such a raw deal. You can’t own land, you can't have sex, your brothers are the dregs of society, and the guy training you is Alliser Thorne, an anal, humorless, tool of a man. Predictably, Tyrion mocks him so badly that Thorne is forced to leave the dining hall, much to the delight of the others. After dinner, the Lord Commander pleads with Tyrion to convince the King to send more men. Mormont continues on about abominable snow men sightings, missing uncles, and mountain people fleeing, but Tyrion doesn’t take him seriously. Maintaining the Wall is like paying for asteroid insurance -- it guards against a disaster that happens so infrequently that it’s easy to forget about it or dismiss it. Robert isn’t going to send men and resources when he can't even pay his own debts.

Before Tyrion departs, Jon gives him a few messages to deliver to Robb, Rickon, and Bran. Didn’t Tyrion recently try to whack Bran? It would be supremely stupid to return to Winterfell. Either Tyrion thinks the Starks don’t know it was him, or Jaime and Cersei acted without his knowledge.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Catelyn • Jon

Usually knights are shiny and chivalrous, but in Martin's universe, they shave their beards because of accumulated seasickness barf. Ser Rodrik seems like the perfect bodyguard who takes many precautions to keep Catelyn safe on their journey to King's Landing, but then you remember that just a few chapters ago he didn't think of posting a guard outside Bran's room. Come on Rod, you're better than that.

When Catelyn finally arrives at the city, she is greeted by her childhood friend Littlefinger, who has overcome several social disadvantages to climb quite high on the political ladder. Though he still harbors unrequited feelings for Catelyn, his personal history and his obvious Napoleon complex gives him plenty of reasons to dislike the Starks. Where Littlefinger is mysterious and clever, Varys is deceptive and scary. He's the Westeros KGB. He has an almost child-like demeanor, but the one asset he possesses --information -- is so important to everyone that he could be more powerful than the King. This contrasts quite sharply with Vary’s very fragile, very dickless exterior.

Varys knows that Bran is in a coma and that Catelyn is in King’s Landing. Varys knows exactly when she arrived and where she is hiding. Varys knows why she carries a dagger and that it originally belonged to Tyrion. Varys knows what you are thinking before you do. Varys knows you know he knows. He knows you know he knows you know. Varys was on the grassy knoll with Amelia Earhart and Bigfoot, watching the final episode of Lost which explains everything. Varys knows when A Dance with Dragons will be released. Varys knows, he just knows.

Jon whines some more about his bastardness, about Benjen, and about Alliser Thorne. He whines about Night’s Watch comrades and that it's cold near the Wall. Never mind that it was his choice to come here despite his uncle’s warning. Jon has had it so rough growing up with kickass royal siblings in a giant castle with a Lord as a father. Jon must feel so misunderstood and alone despite his supremely loyal supernatural pet direwolf who is unconditionally devoted to him. Poor Jon Snow. It's amazing he has endured such a hard life.

The sons of famers and miners are no match for Jon’s combination of sword skills and emo rage. Before Jon makes too many enemies, Donal Noye verbally beats the pretentious emoness right out of him. Jon starts to realize that when the snow hits the fan, it won't matter if your mother was a whore or if you can beat down some big kid named Grenn. Jon bonds with Tyrion some more while a bird arrives from Winterfell. Tyrion incorrectly assumes that his super expensive and recognizable dagger man succeeded in whacking Bran, but it’s actually news that Bran woke up. Jon is so happy that he extends an olive branch to Grenn. When Thorne makes fun of them, Jon fires back with his “I’d love to see Ghost juggle” zinger. Alliser is not amused, probably because he didn't get the joke. It's funny because wolves normally can’t juggle.