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.


  1. One question: Did you throw the book across the room when Eddard died?

  2. Oh no, you missed the perfect shouldn't be Deddard Stark, it's Deddard SNARK! Duh.

  3. I have been waiting a while for you to get to this chapter. It's always interesting to see a newbie's reaction to the main character's death particularly one as beloved as Eddard or Deaddard (as you call him) Stark. However, none of the other reactions have been as amusing as yours. Also, I agree with your assessment of Ned's character. All Ned's precious honor earned him was a beheading. He should have taken Cersei's deal and double crossed the bitch later.

    I love the running joke of Black Brothers constituting as racial profiling. It has gotten me to laugh every time.

    The Starks disproving Santa and Easter bunny was also amusing.

  4. I'm always so surprised when people don't see Ned's death coming. I assumed he was going to die early the first couple of chapters. I totally didn't see most of the stuff in this book coming, but I felt that one at least was pretty obvious.

    Ya, I thought it sucked that it happened, but I definitely wasn't surprised by it.

  5. Aegon the ConquerorAugust 27, 2009 at 1:17 AM

    Yeah, the execution of Eddard was no big surprise to me really. Or rather, his death. I was pretty sure they wouldn't let him go alive but I didn't think they would execute him in public in front of a goddamn church.

    However, there are other deaths in the books to come that were far more surprising to me. I'm looking forward to see your reaction to them. ;)

  6. Chop chop. Eddard's death was what finally caught my attention about the song of ice and fire series. It was quite fresh (not entirely original, of course, but still fresh). POV characters could and would die. They did not have the plot immunity so common in other fantasy series.

  7. Can't say that i saw it comming. The plot was pretty straight forward, it was established early on that the wall was short on good man with a new (old) threat emerging, and sending eddard to the wall was both logical and convenient from a plot point of view. So, yeah, was suprised.

    The second one (you know what I mean) was much more like a walk to the dentist. You knew something bad was going to happen (with all the foreshadowing) and all you could really hope for was for the pain to be bearable - at which point the dentist took a sledgehammer to your face

  8. I was waiting for this moment since you started this blog. I never saw Ned's death coming when I first read GoT - this was just so against all the unwritten rules of 99% of the books out there. Don't believe the cool kids who knew it all along. Sure, it was pretty clear that Ned would die at some point - but in the first book, so unheroically and when he had all chances of keeping his storyline (and lifeline) going for a while? Chapeau, Mr. Martin, I'm still impressed ten years after!
    And you, Jason, keep up the great work!

  9. I, too, have been waiting since you first started posting this blog for this critical chapter. This is where you realise that the gloves are off, and nobody is safe. If the POV character can die, then pretty much all bets are off. You had an intro to this with Bran getting pushed off the wall, but hey, he woke up again, right? Eddard ain't wakin' up again.

    The delicious tension this adds to the series is invaluable. You can no longer assume that when danger comes, and all hope looks lost, that the characters will *somehow* make it through (because they always do, right? It's a story, right? The main characters aren't just going to d....).

    Your enjoyment of this series thus far is merely a precursor of what's to come given this realization.

  10. This chapter alone is what makes this series so great. After this I couldn't stop reading until I reached the end of Feast, and since then I check amost every day for news of the release of Dance. Pure genious.

    But even given the dark tone of the chapter, you manage to stay true to your style. Deddard Stark is good, but Beheaddard Stark is hilarious xD

    Just a final comment: Ser Ilyn Payne does not use a regular axe for the execution, but Ice, house Stark's very own valyrian steel sword. Which makes the scene even more superb.

  11. Everything you need to know to find out who Jon's mother is is contained in book 1.

  12. I had no Idea of Neds death to come when i read Agot first, too. Nice to see that Jason didnt loose his sense of humor about it. We will have much fun togethter with the things which will happen in the future.

    Branstadamus made me laugh for minutes.

  13. the bran chapter summary was the most hilarious yet. ser santa, lmao

  14. I figured Ned was a dead man from the point he ended up in a cell until the minute the Starks captured Jaime. Once Jaime was held as collateral, I figured Ned was safe, and would be bound for the Wall.

    But you've now gotten through the part at which everyone I know who has read these books decided they were hooked. Although for me, this wasn't the thing that made me through the book across the room. For me, that happened much, much later.

  15. As far as I remember, Cersei intended to honor her deal with Ned, it was Joffrey the douchebag who ordered the execution. Cersei certainly realised what would it mean for future Stark-Lannister relations. But she still has one more hostage to exchange for Jaime.

  16. Yeah, it was Joff's order that made Ned dead. Cersei fully intended to send him to the Wall. She doesn't want to lose Jaime and killing Ned is not a good way to keep Jaime alive.

  17. Well done, your site is a go to while we wait oh so patiently for DoD

  18. The problem is, with Ned dead, is it work exchanging the Kingslayer for one princess, who betrayed her family.

    Btw the second suprising death everyone is refering to would that be the big big treacherous thing when the band start playing rains of castmere?

  19. No, it's that death of that nameless peasant in that battle that took place off-screen.

  20. Nobody in King's Landing could have known about Jaime at this point. The Wispering Woods was a covert operation using cell phone jammers as Jason put it.

  21. To be honest, I started reading the series again and that coupled with this entertaining blog has got me wondering why I was so enamored with it in the first place. It really isn't as great as I remember. It's like eating something at a restaurant that you've never had before and then going back later only to realize that it must have been that particular time in that particular setting that made that particular dish so wonderful.

    On the other hand; this blog is phenomenal. I really enjoy the candid point of view. And to be honest, the comments are equally as entertaining as the blog, especially the name calling and user bashing. Anyone asking for censorship is a moron. There is no need to take things so seriously.

    Keep up the good work, Jason. I'm putting down the books for now and will settle for your updates as they are the cliff notes they should have sold in high school. Maybe The Red Badge of Courage wouldn't have sucked so much ass. Bravo!

  22. Obviously many of us have been waiting for you to get to this point. My recollection upon reading it for the first time was much like yours. It wasn't until the next chapter that I really believed he was dead. It was that point that I really understood I was in new territory. A POV character killed? The series does not disappoint.

    Keep it up! I totally agree with Heatcramp8. I'd read your cliff notes on just about anything.

  23. I told you he would handle Ned's death with his customary sense of humor. He will do the same with "you know what" down the road.

    For me, like most of the other readers of the series, this conclusively proved that no character was completely safe. The suspense was increased by a factor of ten over most other epic fantasies.

    That being said, though, there are still four characters that I've maintained since Game will not die until the last novel, if ever. And I'm still correct on that, despite Martin's many attempts to "trick" us into thinking they have died. (I won't name them for that would be a form of spoilership.)

    As to Ned's demise hooking me into the series, no . . . I was hooked when the Starks found the direwolf pups.

    Roland of Gilead

  24. So you are finally there. Like a lot of others I was waiting for your reaction to Ned's execution.

    No exile to the Wall, where he was badly needed, no Gandalf the White reappearence. No he is really dead.

    Love your blog!

  25. Nitpick: Anyone who is a Dothraki female wedding guest is not unsuspecting. :)

  26. Anyone who has read the book "Dune" by Frank Herbert should have seen Ned's death coming. Noble, honorable leader of badass family steps into a trap that he knows is a trap, and thinks that he can defeat. Both die in the first book.

    Arrakis(Dune)=Kings Landing

  27. Thanks for spoiling Dune for everyone who hasn't read Dune. If you really believe that anyone who's read Dune wouldn't be surprised, and pretty much everyone says they're surprised, you're just being a douche.

  28. Dune has been out for about twenty years. At some point spoilers become unnecessary. You can't go around expecting no one will mention a plot twist in something they have no idea you don't want spoiled.

    Oh, and I'm not the anonymous who posted about the Dune comparison. TBH, I'd never considered that comparison before.

  29. It's not even a good comparison considering the Starks and Lannisters have many more characters within their families and most of them have much more depth too. No characters in Martin's books are pure black or white. There is no clear cut hero or villain. And even if a certain character does seem to fit this mold at one time or another, it is likely they will change before the/their end.

  30. This IS the poster who made the Dune comparison. First, sorry if I spoiled Dune for you, I should have put a spoiler tag before I said anything.

    Second, I disagree with the poster above me. While most of Martin's characters subvert, invert, and lampshade nearly every fantasy trope known to man, and all are well characterized, the comparison is apt.

    Ned is played pretty straight, as a man who will put his honor before reason. Duke Leto and Ned share similar personalities, perform similar roles in the plot, and are put in nearly the same situation. Maybe not everyone who read Dune would catch it, but they are very similar characters, and suffered similar fates.

  31. Dune's been out more like 45 years I think--even more reason wyldcard has a point.

  32. Great post! This was the point that I realized that absolutely anything could happen in this story and nothing would be completely predictable.
    Interesting comparison someone made to Dune, I hadn't considered that at all. I'm not sure how far the comparison can hold up though, even the most honourable heroes in Westeros are too flawed to be a messiah.

  33. Aaaaah... Like everyone has by now commented themselves I'm sure, I have been waiting for this the whole time. Fantastic!

  34. I thought it was pretty obvious Duke Atreides was gonna get killed. Paul was being set up as some kind of messiah, and you knew there was a plot against his family. How could his dad not die?

  35. I'll raise my hand as someone who had no idea Ned was going to die. He was the major protagonist here! They don't die! At least not in the first book. I thought that he'd be exchanged for Jaime and be sent to the Wall, where we would then hear Jon's story.

    I totally underestimated King Joff. This is why giving crowns to 12 year olds is a bad thing.

    As to the Dune comparasion: First of all, Dune is considered classic sci fi. There comes a point when you don't have to announce spoilers for a classic. It was written about 50 years ago. You don't, for example, need a spoiler tag to say that the Ring gets destroyed in the end of the LOTR triliogy.

    Second: While I do see similarities between Duke Leto and Ned Stark, the overall comparasion isn't a great one. On the surface, yes,you'd think that the Starks are the Atredies and the Harkonnens are the Lannisters. But Martin goes much, much deeper than Herbert did, character development wise.

    Anyway, continuing to read the blog. Love it!

  36. Wait just a damn minute!!!! The ring is DESTROYED???? WTF?? Thanks a lot....thanks a lot....(weeping)

  37. Warning! Spoilers!

    He dies.
    She dies.
    Pretty much all of them die.
    She and the cat live, the rest of them die.
    She and the girl and the dopey marine live, the rest of them die.
    She finally dies.
    The other guy's mother forgives him and then he dies.
    Some of them die, but the rest kill the monsters.
    The wizard dies.
    The wizard returns.
    The king returns.
    They live!
    They live by eating each other.
    He gets Lou Gehrig's disease.
    He leaves her; she goes home.
    She goes home, with her little dog too.
    They have a problem, but they get home.
    He was home all the time.
    He wins.
    He loses.
    He wins the rematch.
    He loses, but that makes him a winner.
    The only way to win is not to play.
    The shoe fits.
    They get married.
    They don't get married.
    The day is saved.
    The city is saved.
    The world is saved.
    The spy saves the world single-handedly and gets the girl.
    The spy saves the world with the help of some ninjas and gets the girl.
    The world is destroyed.
    The boat sinks.
    The Russians think the boat sinks.
    The boat blows up.
    The boat turns upside down.
    The tower catches fire.
    There's an earthquake.
    He warns of danger, but the mayor refuses to listen.
    They prove his innocence.
    He proves his own innocence.
    They escape from the Nazis.
    Freedom for Scotland?
    Freedom for whales?
    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.
    There's only one.
    There isn't only one; he's an alien.
    His mother's dead and he's nuts.
    Her son's dead and she's nuts.
    Her favourite author is injured and she's nuts.
    He's nuts, and now he's on the loose.
    He's nuts, and still on the loose.
    He's tragically misunderstood.
    She was sealed in a well, but it was because she was evil.
    She's a guy!
    He's a girl!
    He's a wizard!
    He's Batman.
    She's the direct descendant of Christ.
    The government buries it in a warehouse.
    They are all unwitting organ donors.
    They get off the island.
    He gets off the island.
    His father saves his life.
    He saves his father's soul.
    Ollie's in another fine mess and Stan is sorry.
    It was really the good sister that tried to kill the bad sister.
    'Twas beauty killed the beast.
    They killed the wrong ape.
    He coulda been a contender.
    He built it; they came.
    They built it on top of an Indian burial ground.
    He wants to live again.
    He wants to be a real boy.
    It's made from people.
    It's made of lead.
    It's a sled.
    There are snakes on the plane.
    The monsters are mutated humans.
    The humans are mutated monsters.
    The butler did it.
    The good guy did it.
    The one we all thought was dead did it.
    The first guy who really did die did it.
    They all did it, and get away with it.
    Nobody did it.
    The mysterious character doesn't exist; the protagonist is actually responsible.
    The traitor is the colonel who sent them on the mission in the first place.
    After a desperate battle, the Zulu give up.
    The Germans lose the war.
    It was all a dream. Or was it?
    It was all an implanted memory. Or was it?
    He's a replicant. Or is he?
    He is destroyed by his own hubris.
    He is destroyed by the creation of his own hubris.
    He swallows his pride; she overcomes her prejudice.
    He's one of the dead people the kid sees.
    He's dead, but he still protects his girlfriend.
    He regains his faith.
    It's a test, and he gets the chocolate factory.
    One robot survives to garden in peace.
    The police chief is on the take.
    The stepmother is behind it all.
    The boy shoots the dog.
    They shoot the deer's mother.
    He shoots this guy, 'cause he... well, there was this girl, who thought she was his daughter, and... well, it's complicated.
    They find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and him.
    They raise the money just in time.
    He makes sure his mother falls in love with his father.
    He makes sure the mother lives, and becomes the father.
    He commits the final sin.
    The band gets back together.
    The kids are his opus.
    They ride off into the sunset.
    They live happily ever after

  38. As this is an ASOIAF blog, it may be that we are biased in favor of Martin. So many of his characters are really well fleshed out, but Ned was not one of them (he didn't have time to be). What I saw in A Game of Thrones was the same situation as in Dune: Father makes way for messiah son.

    I will be the first to admit that I was totally wrong about Robb being the hero/messiah character-He is the Young Wolf after all:) The analogy goes only as far as the first book.

  39. This is the annonymous that made the original complaint about the spoiler. My complaint was mostly based off the assumption that anyone who's read Dune would see Ned's death coming. As I haven't read Dune, even though I get reminded that it's something I want to get to eventually, I had no idea if it's true or not.

    From a look of the following responses, I guess that wasn't the case, I agree that it is an old series, and I should have gotten to reading it sooner.

    The only thing I know of Dune is what I saw as a little kid, and what I saw in the movie made no sense. Although I have no doubt the books are much, much better.

  40. The movie version of Dune was an example of what happens when you condense a really cool novel into a single movie - a travesty - feh! I'm so happy that HBO plans to make ASOIAF into a series rather than try to fit the story into a movie.

  41. Holy crap, did the beginnings of an anonymous flame war just come to a peaceful conclusion? Impressive.

  42. I can't believe I read this entire blog. It's quite hilarious. Great work.

    For the record, I think the earlier posts that included more jokes and less plot summary were more entertaining (just to contradict other apparent comments). I know what happened in these books already. I don't know anything about your observations though.

    Great work either way!

  43. I was interested in the series and planned on finishing it up to this point, but that Arya chapter is where I knew that I was reading something special. Ned was my favorite character! Sigh. Was your reaction similar, Jason?

    Your blog is fantastic, by the way. Totally fun for an ASOIAF fanatic like myself to vicariously reread this. ;) I love the wit, too. I'd suggest you ignore people's critiques and just write whatever comes naturally.

  44. P.S.:

    The Dune comparison is interesting, but there is one major difference: Duke Leto dies very near the beginning, while Ned dies very near the end. We had alot more time to get to love Ned which makes it much more painful when he dies.

    So, to the guy who is worried about having Dune spoiled, don't be. Spoiling that is almost the equivalent of giving a spoiler that Will dies in AGOT. ;)

  45. Not quite the beginning. Its in the middle.

  46. Why am I now visualising Ned Stark riding into battle on the back of a giant worm? That's just wrong.

    I must admit to not being shocked by Ned's death. I thought it was clear from early on that Jon and Dany were the 'main characters', or the closest we get, and Ned's role in the story was drawing to a close. I suspect it was also because I first read GoT interspersed with viewing sessions of British SF series BLAKE'S SEVEN, which killed main, regular characters at the absolute drop of a hat ;-)

  47. Damn I was just reading this blog for entertainment and someone just ruined Dune for was coming up on my list!


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