Archive | August 2011

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 30

Chapter 29 – Davos
Davos has spent two weeks as a prisoner waiting to be killed, but he is being treated pretty well. He writes letters to his wife and sons.
Then Robett Glover arrived and asks Davos to come with him. He tells Davos that Stannis has taken Deepwood Motte, that Roose Bolton has taken Moat Cailin and Ramsay will wed Arya Stark. Glover says neither he nor Manderly will kill him.
They go through a secret way under the castle. Glover tells him he’s supposed to be dead already. They come out in a room where Lord Manderly is waiting. He apologises for the reception he gave Davos in the Merman’s Court and tells him that his son Wylis has come home from Kings Landing. There is a welcome feast in progress and his Frey guests think he is in the privy.
Manderly tells Davos they faked his death and what happened in the Merman’s Court was for the benefit of the Freys. He says he doesn’t believe what the Frey’s say about the Red Wedding. Davos’ arrival gave Manderly a way to prove his loyalty and get his son back. He says he is surrounded by Freys, watched all the time.
Davos says Stannis will give them justice. Manderly and Glover say there is still a Stark. They produce Wex, a mute who was Theon’s squire and who followed Rickon and Shaggydog when they left Winterfell. Wex knows where he is and they want Davos to go and get him.
Yay! Rickon and Shaggydog! I’ve missed them. And I’m also pleased Davos didn’t die. Manderly is way more cunning than anyone things.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 29

Chapter 28 – Jon

Jon is sending out rangers and includes Alliser Thorne in the group. Thorne thinks that Jon’s looking for an excuse to kill him, but it has more to do with his lack of experienced men.

Jon missing sparring so he challenges some trainees and is obviously miles better than them. Then Rattleshirt challenges him and they have a good old set to. Rattleshirt seems physically different to Jon but he dismisses it as an effect of the armour.

Later on, he can’t sleep so goes out walking with Ghost. Melisandre sneaks up on him and he thinks that she’s Ygritte to start with. She tells him Arya will come on a dying horse and that three of his rangers will die. She says he and Ghost have power and that she and Jon should make power together.


Melisandre clearly glamoured herself to look like Ygritte. That’s creepy.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 28

Chapter 27 – Tyrion

The knight is taking Tyrion to Volantis, which has three parts. Old Volantis is poor and run down. Volantis east of the river is richer, more inhabited and pretty strictly Volantian. They pass the red priest, Bernello, who is calling Daenerys Azor Ahai reborn and saying that when she comes west the slaves should rise up to support her.

They stop to buy some gloves, put Tyrion in chains, and to sell the horse. Then they cross the longbridge to Volantis west of the river, where traders from all over the world come to do business. The knight heads for the Merchant House where he takes a room. He leaves Tyrion chained up. When he comes back he has food and ale.

The next day they go to have an audience with the Widow of the Waterfront, Vogarro’s whore, to whom the knight gives the gloves. She tells them things. He asks for a passage east. She tells them the Golden Company is going west to Westeros and asks why they want to go east. The knight says he’s taking Tyrion to Daenerys. Tyrion is overjoyed. The arrangements are agreed.

Then a dwarf, who’s been giving him funny looks since they arrived at the Merchant House, attacks Tyrion. It turns out she is one of the jousting dwarves from Joffrey’s wedding. Her brother was beheaded by someone wanting to claim the price Cersei put on Tyrion’s head.
So, the knight is definitely Jorah and they’re going to Daenerys. Fair enough, but now Aegon is going west with the Golden Company. Hmm. I’m beginning to suspect Dany isn’t going to get to invade Westeros on the back of a black dragon at all.
I think the introduction of Penny the dwarf is a really good touch. It brings home the real consequences to ordinary people of the machinations of the powerful. Several innocent men have died because people wanted to curry favour with Cersei.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 27

Chapter 26 – The Wayward Bride

Asha is back at Deepwood Motte. After the Kingsmoot, she fled. Euron Crow’s Eye married her to Erik Ironmaker and left the Iron Islands in his care while he went off in search of a dragon queen.

Ramsay Bolton has sent her a message that he has taken Moat Cailin. It is written in the blood of ironmen comes with a strip of Theon’s skin and a promise to send her more. Asha burns the skin. She knows that Deepwood Motte will be hard to defend. She doesn’t have many men and the walls are made of wood. But she doesn’t know where else she can go. Asha contemplates going to the Wall.

Instead she goes to bed. Qarl the Maid follows her. After they’ve shagged, he falls asleep but she can’t. Asha goes to eat in the kitchen and finds Tris Botley waiting for her. He wants her, loves her, but she doesn’t feel the same about him. He suggests they take to the sea and become merchants. She reminds him of her long-term relationship with Qarl.

Then there is an alarm from the walls. Five northmen have tried to sneak in to open the gate. Asha decides she doesn’t want to die defending this place and her band escape out the south door while the northmen are breaking down the north door. They are caught in the woods and are overwhelmed but not without taking far more than their number. Asha takes a head wound and the last things she sees are flaming hearts and black stags.


So, it was Stannis at the gates. He’s obviously won the mountain clans to his side. Good, maybe he’ll be able to give the Boltons a fight.

Wouldn’t it be nice for Daenerys if she could have someone like Qarl? It is interesting to contrast Asha, Cersei and Dany for their use of sex as a political tool, and the impact it has on their personal lives. In many ways, Asha seems to handle it best, but the different environments the three women find themselves in may simply mean that Asha finds it easiest. After all, her relationship with Qarl was formed on her ship, which in many ways is a little bubble.

And I so don’t believe Asha is dead. Martin, you’ve done this quiet a lot at this point!

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 26

Chapter 25 – Windblown

Quentyn and friends have just fought in the seige of Astapor and are marching north to Yunkai with the rest of the Yunkish army. They are looking for a chance to get away to Meereen. Quentyn feels uneasy because he thinks that it is dishonourable to break the contract he made with the Windblown.

The seige of Astapor was his first experience of fighting and he didn’t like it much. It’s not because he is a coward but because he found it cruel, wasteful and wrong. And they were fighting freed slaves who didn’t have the training to fight back. It was more of a slaughter than a battle.

The Yunkish forces are bizarre and impractical; naked fighting studs, tall men on stilts, grotesqueries and other strange ideas made flesh.

Quentyn and his companions are discussing how and when to betray the Windblown when they are summoned to the tent of the captain-general, the Tattered Prince. He tells them he’s sending his Westerosi north towards Meereen and that they should join the Stormcrows or the Second Sons.


Quentyn Martell is growing on me. He seems like a nice, serious young man, able to do what needs to done, but sensitive to the consequences of his actions. He’s perhaps a little on the dull side, but very worthy. Maybe he wouldn’t be such a bad choice as a husband for Daenerys.

Things I have liked this week

The origin of words
The Inky Fool, a blog about words, phrases, grammar and other good stuff. Totally charming.
The obligatory space-y picture
Lots of beautiful pictures on APOD this week and I’m picking this artist’s impression of a wierdly dark planet as my favourite as it reminds me there’s so much we don’t know yet.
Writing stuff
From the SFWA, a list of the common writing ‘problems’ seen in SF&F. Amusing, and you might spot one or two you recognise.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 25

Chapter 24 – The Lost Lord

The Golden Company is camped north of Volantis at Volon Therys. Griff takes Aegon and Haldon to meet with them. Twelve years ago he faked his own death to look after Aegon. The man who was Captain-General of the Golden Company was in on the plan but the new one isn’t. Illyrio broke their contract with Myr to send them here for Aegon.

They find Harry Strickland in his tent surrounded by his chiefs. Illyrio’s plan was that Daenerys would be coming west and they would meet her there but Daenerys isn’t coming west, they don’t know why and they can’t get to her. Aegon proposes Tyrion’s plan of going west without her and her dragons. After some debate, the Company agrees.

Jon Connington goes to his own tent after sending Haldon to get Rolly, Lemore and the chests. He takes off his glove and examines his greyscale, which he got saving Tyrion, whom he had begun to trust but now believes has escaped.


Well now, there’s a twist. I don’t want Aegon to conquer Westeros, that’s for Dany. So this little meet up isn’t going to happen and Aegon and company are off to Westeros.

It’s sad that Griff has greyscale. Plus also, Griff is Jon Connington. I’m not wholly sure what that means yet.

100 Books in 2011: All the Windwracked Stars

All the Windwracked Stars by Elizabeth Bear is a bit genre-busting. It is heavily grounded in Norse mythology with liberal sprinklings of sci-fi, steampunk and high fantasy.
After Ragnarok, of which there are and will be many, one Valkyrie survives because she ran away. Her name is Muire. When she comes back after the battle, wracked with shame, she finds a single valraven still alive who takes her for his rider. She heals him and, in doing so, turns him from a flesh and blood creature to one of metal and fire. Then she rejects him. Centuries later, Muire is living in the sole remaining city of Valdyrgard which is kept alive through technomancy while the rest of the world dies around it.
Mingan, the Grey Wolf (Fenrir?), returns to Valdyrgard, hunting for something. Muire senses him and believes she must kill him to avoid another Ragnarok. In tracking him down, she discovers that the souls of the Valkyrie have been reborn as new people. These new people don’t remember themselves but Muire and Mingan know who they are. An ancient love-triangle is reignited. Muire wants to restore the Valkyrie to themselves.
I loved this. It is dark and sexy, full of flawed characters trying to do the right thing, but finding it hard to work out what that is. The characters are complex and complicated and so are the relationships between them. The villains have excellent motives and it is hard not to sympathise. The heroes want to do what’s right, but the consequences of that are often wrong. They all struggle with the way they feel and the burdens they carry.
The language is lyrical and poetic. The rhythm is slightly odd but perfectly pitched. I really enjoyed reading it for the sake of the arrangement of the words. It was lovely.
If I have a criticism, it’s that it is a shame that the only person of colour in the book is the most abused, damaged, infantilised and sexualised character in the book. Those two things didn’t have to belong to the same person and it plays into some unpleasant racial tropes.
Other than that, this was one of the most engaging books I’ve read this year. I enjoyed it enormously and will definitely pick up more of Elizabeth Bear’s work. Highly recommended!

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 24

Chapter 23 – Daenerys

Daenerys is meeting with the Green Grace. The Sons of the Harpy are still brutally killing freedmen but has harmed her hostage children. Galazzea says if she marries Hizdahr zo Loraq then it might stop. She asks what a man can do that she cannot. The Grace says taking a husband with Ghiscari blood will make the Meereenese accept her more. She has Hizdahr waiting below. Daenerys agrees to see him. She asks what he has to offer. Can he quiet the streets for her? He makes promises. She asks why he would want to be her King. He gives the honest answer that Meereen cannot bear another war. Daenerys asks him to kiss her but does not respond to him.

Finally, she gives him a quest. He has ninety days to end the killings and if he does, she will marry him.

Ser Barristan Selmy thinks she should abandon Meereen and go to Westeros. He tells her Daario is back. She wants to see him. He is aggressive and says he will kill all the Meereenese nobles. He is cruel and hard and selfish. Daenerys might be attracted to him but knows she could not wed him. She decides that all his reports will go to Selmy from now on.


Oh, what to do? Daenerys doesn’t know just how many suitors she has. I think the Green Grace is involved with the Sons of the Harpies and Hizdahr clearly can’t be trusted. Daario is clearly a very sexy man and it’s a shame Dany can’t have him, but he seems like a dick and I think he would try to take advantage of the situation.