Fire and Blood

Fire and Blood by G. R. R. Martin is the first of a two-part history of the Targaryen rulers of Westeros before the events of A Song of Ice and Fire. It starts with the conquest of Westeros by the first DragonLord and ends with the war between members of the Targaryen family which results in the deaths of most of their dragons. Written in the style of a non-fiction historical account, the book provides context and depth to the stories hinted at in A Song of Ice and Fire.

It is 700 pages and I have it in hardback which is why it has taken me so long to get around to reading it. With the opportunity to take some time off work and needing to rest to recover from a series of crappy colds and viruses, I read it in nearly a single sitting. It is engaging and well-written and it was quite hard to put down. Having said that, I think this is very much one for the fans. If you’re not already familiar with the books of A Song of Ice and Fire or the tv series Game of Thrones then I’m not sure you’d get much out of this. If you are a fan, then I would definitely recommend this. The only downside is there is a part two and it is unlikely to be published for some years so I finished Fire and Blood wanting more and not able to get it.  I am seriously considering re-reading all the books now.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 52

Chapter 51 – Theon

Winterfell is still hearing horns and drums but there is no sign of the enemy. Theon remembers Old Nan’s tales of storms that lasted for years. Roose Bolton’s wife, Fat Walda, is pregnant. Ramsay is in a bad mood and Theon is afraid he’ll know what he has planned. He tells Abel that Ramsay will use his women as prey. Ramsay and Roose are arguing. Walda is looking fearful.

The plan is to steal Arya. He almost told the truth but didn’t want to ruin his chance to get away.

Little Walder is the latest casualty and it is not one of Abel’s murders. The Frey’s accuse the White Harbor men. Manderly says he’s lucky to be dead because if he’d lived he’d have grown up a Frey. There is a scuffle, Manderly is cut and others are injured. Bolton stops it and says Stannis’ host is three days march

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 51

Chapter 50 – Daenerys

Hixdahr zo Loraq has invited the Yunkai to a feast to celebrate and sign the peace pact. Daenerys wonders why it feels like a defeat. He assures her the Yunkish will go soon. The fighting pits will open the next day.

The four sellsword companies have representatives at the feast. Daenerys has sent hostages to the Yunkai camp, including Daario. Hizdahr has sacked Skahaz and Daario is behaving like a child.

After the feast Daenerys goes to a balcony for some air and finds Ben Plumm. He says that he had to pick the winning side because gold’s no good if you’re dead. Daenerys asks Barristan Selmy whether they might turn the mercenaries. Selmy says he’s no good at that sort of thing but he will bring them to her.

Then she takes Quentyn Martell to meet Viserion and Rhaegal, telling her servants to tell Hizdahr that she’s in the privy, if he asks. Quentyn is frightened of the dragons and Daenerys says that she is too. He asks if she means to ride them and she says yes. She says the dragon has three heads and her marriage is not the end of his hopes.

Later she goes to bed with Hizdahr. His lovemaking is perfunctory and afterwards he hopes that they have conceived a child. Daenerys can’t sleep and Missandei comes to give her comfort.


It feels like defeat because that’s what it is. Daenerys has made no gains and plenty of concessions. We can only hope that the tide turns.

How can she use her dragons? She has had no ideas about training them and using them will just result in total destruction at this stage. These are the responsibilities of power and it seems like it is crushing her.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 50

Chapter 49 – Jon

They’re having a wedding at the Wall. Alys Karstark iss marrying Sigorn, Magnar of Thenn. This marriage is blessed by Rh’llor. Cregan Karstark was only a day behind Alys. Jon met him on the road and took him prisoner.

A raven has gone to Deepwood Motte to warn of Arnolf Karstark’s treachery. The boats are still at Eastwatch. Melisandre says all she sees in her flames is Snow.

Jon goes to see Cregan in the ice cell. He tells him Alys is wed and Arnolf had no right to make a marriage. He says some of Cregan’s men have gone over to the Magnar. And anyone who wishes to can take the black. Cregan refuses.

There is a wedding feast. Axell Florent again enquires about Val and complains that she and Alys should be disposed of to southern lords not to wildlings. Some of the mountain clan lords have turned up. Then there are two blasts of the horn which means wildlings. Jon assumes it is Tormund Giantsbane.

Jon talks to Alys and says that when her stores run low to send him the men and boys. He receives a message saying the boats have left Eastwatch and he is not thrilled by Cotter Pyke’s choice of garrison commander.


Axell Florent is such a sleaze. I think Alys and Sigorn was a good match. I hope that it is Tormund at the Wall and not anything more sinister. Seems like things are looking up for Jon.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 49

Chapter 48 – Jaime

At the end of A Feast for Crows Jaime had received Cersei’s letter and chosen not to respond. He secured the surrender of Riverrun and is now arriving at Raventree Hall, the last holdout of those who swore for Robb. It is complicated by an historic feud between the Blackwoods and Brackens.

Jaime discovers what Bracken will accept and goes to treat with Blackwood. He reaches a settlement that both will accept but that neither is very happy with. He takes one of the Blackwood boys as a hostage and starts back for King’s Landing.

The boy is very knowledgeable about the feud between the families and the tales he tells Jaime indicate that they are fighting over the crown to a kingdom that hasn’t existed for a thousand years. They stop at a village. All the villagers are hiding in a holdfast and won’t come out. Jaime makes camp.

Then a woman comes riding in. It is Brienne. She says she’s found Arya and he must come quickly as the Hound will kill her.


TRAP!!! No, Jaime, don’t go. I knew Brienne wasn’t dead – all that pretending to kill people isn’t convincing anymore.

I’m glad Brienne didn’t get killed. This is clearly Catelyn trying to kill Jaime instead.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 48

Chapter 47 – Tyrion

Tyrion and Penny are being sold in a Yunkish slave market: one which has been set up outside the walls of Meereen, while the Yunkish beseige Daenerys.

The bidding slows at 1000 pieces of silver and they do a bit of a joust. The bidding picks up. When it slows again the bidders come for a closer look. Then a sellsword enters with a high bid and Tyrion realises he has been recognised. He bids for himself, as a Lannister. The bid goes up and in the end they are sold to Yezzan zo Qaggaz, the fat Wise Master who collects grotesqueries. Tyrion reckons he could make a break for Meereen but it would mean leaving Penny behind.

Jorah is sold after them. Tyrion tells Qaggaz’s slave master Nurse that Jorah is part of their act, as a bear, and Qaggaz buys him as well. They had heard that Daenerys has married and Jorah is devastated.

They are taken to Qaggaz’s camp. Tyrion sees slaves being whipped and killed for trying to escape. He also sees that there is flux in the camp. They get collared and taken to Qaggaz’s tent. Jorah is chained up outside and the dwarves put in the grotesquerie.

That evening they perform for Qaggaz and the Yunkish supreme commander. A lord recalls that Tyrion boasted of his cyvasse skill so he plays. Ben Plumm tries to win him as he lost the bidding but he loses at cyvasse too. Nurse tells them they will joust in the Great Pit.


So, does that mean the Great Pit in Meereen? Will Daenerys recognise Jorah? What will happen then?

Tyrion is a bit soft-hearted really and it’s nice that he’s trying to take care of Penny and Jorah.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 47

Chapter 46 – A Ghost in Winterfell

People are getting murdered at Winterfell. It starts with deaths that could be accidental; someone falls off a wall. People wonder if there are traitors among them. They are covered in snow, cold and suffering from frostbite. The gates are frozen shut. Someone makes the mistake of saying Stannis’ red god has brought the snow in Ramsay’s men’s hearing. He is whipped and thrown from the battlements.

Abel’s washerwoman approaches Theon asking how he took Winterfell. He is too scared to tell her. She wants to see the crypts. He walks the walls and is still too scared to flee.

A squire is found naked and frozen to death. A crossbowman is found in the stables with a broken skull. Theon recalls the similar deaths at Winterfell when he held it. Bolton’s knights are arguing about what to do. Frey and Manderly are at each other’s throats. Bolton is uneasy. The stable collapses, killing twenty-six horses and two grooms. Then one of Ramsay’s men is found with his severed cock stuffed in his mouth. All the horses and men are brought within the Great Hall.

Theon walks the walls again then returns to his chambers. He is summoned by Roose Bolton. He is accused of the murders and Lady Dustin asks him to show them his hands. They agree he doesn’t have the strength to be responsible. Some think that Manderly is behind the deaths. Lady Dustin points out that all the knights here had supported Robb.

A horn blows. A drum beat begins. Theon goes to the godswood wondering if he can get killed in the battle. Abel’s washerwomen find him and tell him they will kill him quick once he’s told Abel what he knows.


I knew Abel and co were up to something. Hooray! Bolton’s alliance is being undone by the waiting and the tension. There’s still no sign of Arya/Jeyne. Theon seems a little less scared sometimes, as Ramsay can’t really hurt him here.

I felt so cold reading this chapter. Martin really brings the weather to life. Amazing.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 46

Chapter 45 – The Blind Girl

At the end of A Feast for Crows Arya had killed Dareon and the House of Many Faces had made her blind. This was to train her to use her other senses better. She goes out begging as a blind girl, works in the kitchen, attends to the dead, learns to move around without hurting herself and learns to fight.

Arya goes to an inn where three Lysene pirates are talking. She learns that two slaver ships got blown North and discovered Hardholme. They took on some wildling women and children and then made for the free cities. One made it to Braavos and was taken as slavery is illegal in Braavos. But they will go back as the price of slaves is rising. Arya tells the monk that she knows it’s him that has been attacking her in the crypts.

She gets her sight back.


Oh hai Arya. I’ve missed you. I love Arya’s story and she is one of my favourite characters in the series. I am beginning to wonder how this is going to be brought back in to the rest of the stories. Maybe it’s being with Jon’s POV again, because their relationship is lovely. How will Arya ever fit back into her old life with her new ninja skills?

I hope Jon gets to the wildlings before the slavers do, but I suppose either option is better than being an ice zombie.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 45

Chapter 44 – Jon

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.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 44

Chapter 43 – Daenerys

Daenerys has been fucking Daario but now it is nearly time for her to marry. He asks if she is going to hold court, as she hasn’t done so in a while. When she says no, he says some of his Westerosi have a gift for her. She says she will hold court the next day, as much because she knows she has to. She wishes she could marry Daario but knows she can’t. He acts recklessly and shows no interest in rulership, yet expects to take liberties.

So the following day, Daenerys holds court. The Green Grace wants to lecture her on sellswords. There are many supplicants; some go away happy and some don’t. At the end of the day Daario presents his Westerosi. Quentyn Martell and his companions reveal who they are. Quentyn gives Daenerys the marriage contract that was signed in Braavos, promising Arianne Martell to Viserys Targaryen.

Daenerys considers it. But she is staying in Meereen and she must deal with that problem. She will marry Hizdahr zo Loraq.

Next she is prepared for her wedding. Daario goes off in a snit. On the journey Daenerys asks Barristan Selmy to tell her who her parents really loved. He does so, saying Rhaella loved a stormlord and Aerys loved Joanna Lannister, Lord Tywin’s wife. Then Hizdahr’s precession joins hers and they are married.


It seems so sad that Quentyn arrived too late. I still don’t trust that Hizdahr is on the up and up. I know that Daenerys is putting aside her own needs for the sake of the people she rules, but I’m convinced this is a mistake.