Queen Selyse (Stannis’ wife) has arrived at Castle Black with a retinue of southern lords and a representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos. Jon meets her with his retinue. She mistakes him for a squire or something. They make introductions and Wun Wun the giant appears. He frightens her daughter, Shireen, but Patchface makes him laugh. The Queen is not amused and goes to her chambers in the King’s Tower.
Jon asks Lord Tycho of the Iron Bank to talk with him. They go to his chambers. Jon enquires about his business with Stannis. Tycho doesn’t reveal the details but says the Iron Throne has stopped paying its debts and he is interested in the views of the other claimants. Tycho arrived with three ships. Jon wants to borrow them to rescue wildlings from Hardholme and the Others. Then he negotiates a loan that will see the Night Watch through the winter.
Then Jon and Tycho go to the Great Hall to eat. Axell Florent, the Queen’s Hand, wants to see Val, the wildling princess. Jon says he’s not going to parade her in front of them. He goes back to his chambers and falls asleep. He’s woken to discover the girl in grey on a dying horse has turned up and is in Clydas’ chambers. He thinks it might be Arya and lets himself plan what he would do to keep her safe.
Of course, it isn’t Arya. It’s Alys Karstark, who is the heir to Karhold. She tells him her uncle Arnolf wants to marry her to his son, Cregan, who has buried two wives already. She appeals to Jon for protection and tells him Arnolf Karstark is only pretending to have declared for Stannis, and is still committed to Roose Bolton.
I knew the grey girl couldn’t be Arya, but credit to Martin’s skill at creating suspense because I could never be completely sure. And now Stannis can be warned about the Karstarks.
Clever Jon for arranging the loan. It’s a bold move but it might just make all the difference.
I don’t like Selyse one bit. In previous books I’ve felt a bit sorry for her because she’s had a tough lot in life, but this chapter presents her in a very negative light.