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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 43

Chapter 42 – The King’s Prize

Stannis Baratheon is marching on Winterfell. Asha Greyjoy is chained up in a baggage wagon. The march starts off well enough and they make good time. Once into the Wolfswood it starts to snow which makes the going harder. The northerners fare better than the southerners but they are losing men and horses, and provisions are running low.

They press on but sometimes are only moving a mile or so a day. The northerners and southerners argue about whether they should have come. The northerners say it’s only a little snow and anyway it’s better to die fighting than to be frozen to death. They stop at a village where they can fish. In the morning they’re completely snowed in.

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Oh, Stannis, it does not look good for you. If you get to Winterfell your men will be starving and weak and all Roose will have to do is let you sit outside, starving and freezing.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 42

Chapter 41 – Turncloak

It’s snowing at Winterfell. That’s good for Roose Bolton and not good for Stannis. Theon has his best opportunity to run but he’s scared to because of the game Ramsay played with Kyra. Arya is kept locked in her chamber, bruised and crying. Ramsay Bolton tells Theon he’s to keep her bathed because he wants her squeaky clean.

In the great hall, one of the washerwomen wants to know how Theon captured Winterfell. He’s too scared to tell her, fearing a trap. He wanders around the castle keeping away from others.

Lady Dustin’s men find him. She wants to see the Stark crypt. She tells him Roose isn’t happy about how sad Arya is; the northmen love Starks and they need to see her happy or they’ll break. The alliance is fragile. In the crypt they notice the three swords that Bran’s group took are missing. Lady Dustin says Brandon Stark took her maidenhead and she wanted to marry him. When Brandon was promised to Catelyn, her father had hopes of marrying her to Eddard, but Cat got him too. Then she married Lord Dustin and six months later he joined Robert’s Rebellion. He never came home. She is waiting for Eddard’s bones so she can feed them to her dogs.

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I think there’s more in this chapter than I’ve picked up on. I don’t think the singers are who they appear to be. Surely Stannis is too canny to attack Winterfell straight on – after all he took Deepwood Motte by surprise.

The missing swords are the ones Bran, Jojen and Meera took. I wonder if anyone will work that out.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 41

Chapter 40 – Tyrion

Tyrion is wearing wooden armour and riding a pig in a joust. The cog that is taking Tyrion and Jorah to Meereen is becalmed and the crew is on the verge of turning nasty. The dwarves are likely to take the brunt of it.

Tyrion and Jorah argue, with Tyrion talking truth about how Jorah is trying to use Tyrion to get back into Daenerys’ good books. He reveals that he knows that Jorah was spying on her and reporting back to Varys. Jorah thumps him and says he can’t sleep in their cabin any more so he’d best go fuck his dwarf girl.

Then a storm comes up. They were told the ship would never reach its destination and assumed that meant it would go to Meereen. It doesn’t. It meant they’re going to be wrecked.

The storm lasts for ages. Tyrion stays with Penny and her animals. She tries to kiss him but he puts her off as nicely as he can. He holds her to comfort her. When the storm is over the ship is wrecked, the mast is gone, and it’s sinking. The captain is dead and so is Moqorro. Tyrion wonders if he saw that in his fires. Some of the crew take the little boats and get away.

Soon they see a sail on the horizon. Jorah says it’s a slaver.

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Tyrion’s having a bit of a riches to rags experience here, isn’t he? I’m sure it’s all character building. I like that he’s nice to Penny but he does have a bit of a white knight complex.

Is he never going to get to Daenerys? She needs him! Right now, I’m feeling like two more books isn’t enough to finish this.

A Read of A Dance with Dragons – Part 40

Chapter 39 – Jon

Jon is sending Val north to find Tormund Giantsbane and make him an offer. He sees her past the Wall and she promises to return but won’t promise to bring Tormund back with her.

Jon returns to eat. Bowen Marsh, Septon Cellador and Othell Yarwyck want to see him. Jon asks how restoring the Nightfort is going. Yarwyck says it is going slowly so Jon offers him the help of the giant that came back with him from the woods north of the Wall. Yarwyck won’t accept. Then the three ask why there are corpses in the cells. Jon says they need to know their enemy and this is an opportunity.

Marsh, Cellador and Yarwyck complain that Iron Emmett and Dolorous Edd are being sent away and complain more about the people Jon is replacing them with – a wildling, Leathers, as master-at-arms and Satin, a boy-whore. They say these are positions traditionally given to the high born. Jon replies that he needs skills and what a man was before doesn’t matter once they’ve said their words.

Then he says they can talk about Val. They say he shouldn’t be making offers to the wildlings. Jon points out, rather forcefully, that every wildling left to die north of the Wall becomes an ice zombie that will attack them.

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And I thought Jon was just being compassionate, but no, he’s trying to reduce his enemies forces. Clever boy. And he handled the whiners nicely. Bowen Marsh is really beginning to annoy me.

Maybe Jon shouldn’t be sending his friends away though.