Edit: What's wrong with the text? It's switching sizes and acting strangely. Does anyone know how to fix it?
"Oh, to be sure, there is much we do not understand. The years pass in their hundreds and their thousands, and what does any man see of life but a few summers, a few winters? We look at mountains and call them eternal, and they seem... but in the course of time, mountains rise and fall, rivers change their courses, stars fall from the sky, and great cities sink beneath the sea. Even gods die, we think. Everything changes.” – I don’t know who said it…
I’ll start with a breakdown of the main characters because I liked that format and then go into miscellaneous notes.
Jon: Jon gets to go and journey past the Wall in this book, which is quite interesting. It really feels like the Night’s Watch is doing something important – defending the realm from the things beyond the Wall – while the rest of the kingdom spends the book squabbling over the Iron Throne. Not to say that who sits on the throne isn’t important; it is. Though it worries me that no one else is taking the threat beyond the Wall seriously. I suppose they haven’t got much proof for it, but still. They’re all going to be fucked, aren’t they?
Anyway, back to Jon. We get to see his compassionate side again when he releases the wildling woman, which was probably a foolish move but it worked out in the end. Kinda. The ending to Jon’s story in this book left me flailing my arms (figuratively because I was too busy holding the book open to spare time for arm-flailing) because WOW! Halfhand had him ‘betray’ the Night’s Watch and now he’s with the wildlings and I’m just so excited to see what happens next for him. It makes me sad to think about what Pyp, Grenn, Sam, Mormont, and everyone else will think of Jon when they find out he joined the wildlings and killed Halfhand. Which I suppose they’ll figure out before they learn Halfhand ordered him to do it. Oh Jon. This is going to be very messy.
Daenerys: She remains one of my favorite characters with the most interesting arc in the book. I adore the scene in the House of Undying and I kinda wanted to record all the visions because I’m sure they’ll be connected to what happens from this point on. Most likely, I won’t understand those visions until the events actually happen. That was such a fascinating scene, one of my favorites in the whole book. And the crossing of the red waste – argh, that was so painful to read because things were going so badly and I just wanted them to go well for Dany. Of course, conflict’s always necessary to keep things interesting but I want Dany to have only good things from now on.
Also, we got to see Qarth! We got to see an eastern city and culture that was strange and fascinating and wonderful in its own way! It’s like my wishes were granted. Now I want to see Asshai though I don’t think we will anytime soon since Daenerys is returning to Pentos and I can’t think who else would go there right now… Ah well because Dany is coming back to Pentos and I’m super excited for this!
Arya: Arya’s journey in this book is among my favorites (besides Jon and Dany). I actually thought they would reach the Wall, which really was a foolish thing to believe. Nonetheless, it surprised me when Yoren was killed and then a while later, the remainder captured. Arya has a lot of power when Jaqen
the genie grants her three deaths. She winds up using two of them on small fry, which wasn’t surprising because she’s young and those two infuriated her, but most importantly, they were right in front of her. Tywin and Joffrey were out of sight and therefore not on the forefront of her mind. She made her choices quickly as the respective targets did despicable things in front of her and it wasn’t until her prison break that she really gave the matter a lot of thought. That was an excellent scheme. Hmm… Jaqen gave her secret words and a coin, which she will use… someday because characters don’t get cool objects and mystic words and never use them.
The ending is a huge moment for Arya. She slits a guard’s throat without batting as much as an eyelash and the ease is a bit disturbing. Was she always capable of killing so easily? I don’t think so. I wonder if holding the power of life and death (through Jaqen) has changed her or whether it’s the hardships she’s endured that’s made her so calm with murder.
Bran: I like Bran, but I spent the first part of his story just wanting him to realize his wolf-y dreams are magical. There isn’t a whole lot going on in the beginning of his story besides lordly business (I agree with Bran – it’s dull stuff).
I really like Jojen and Meera… And I just doomed one of them to death, didn’t I? Damn… Nevertheless, even though they’re not going that way, I hope we get to see their home some time so we can see the swamp culture up close and personal.
Bran’s story really takes an interesting turn when Theon takes over the castle. For a moment, I did believe that he had killed them and I was outraged but then I realized he had killed peasant children instead and I was still furious at him but I was also relieved that Bran and Rickon were okay. I’m really excited to see that Bran has embraced his wolf dreams though I’m concerned for him as well. Being a wolf is so liberating especially since Bran can’t use his legs – what if he starts slipping into wolf mode too frequently and begins neglecting himself? At least he has Jojen and Meera to look after him.
Davos: Davos, please don’t be dead. It was unclear and I like him and I just don’t want him to be dead.
Theon: I HATE HIM WITH A BURNING PASSION BECAUSE HE IS A MISOGYNIST AND I JUST WANTED TO STRANGLE HIM IN HIS FIRST CHAPTER FOR HOW HE TREATED THAT GIRL AND I HATE HIS HORRIBLE EGO AND HIS ARROGANCE AND HIS DECISION TO BETRAY THE PEOPLE HE’S BEEN WITH FOR MANY YEARS AND THE EASE WITH WHICH HE THINKS ABOUT MURDERING CHILDREN AND CAN HE JUST DIE? PLEASE.
The reveal of Asha and then Theon losing Winterfell is very satisfying. Sure, I could’ve felt bad for Theon from the way his father treats him, as a foreigner, as nothing more than dirt. But I can’t find it in my heart to give him sympathy after the way he treats that poor girl on the ship and then betrays everyone.
Tyrion: He’s a genius and I love him running King’s Landing. I love that he constantly one-ups Cersei. There’s a delicate game going on within the city with Cersei and Tyrion pulling so many strings. Not to mention Littlefinger and Varys; I’m sure their agendas are not so clear. I still feel bad cheering on Tyrion because he’s a Lannister, but it’s hard not to.
Sansa: I really liked Sansa’s chapters. I want her to get away so much and Dontos gives us this glimmer of hope but it’s not helping because nothing is really happening there. I feel some hope that she can escape, but I know I really shouldn’t, so I’m going to prepare myself for that failure.
Also, how wonderful was she when she was comforting all those people in Maegor’s Holdfast? Sansa may not be as strong as her sister in many ways, but she has her own strength deep within her.
Catelyn: Catelyn was rather awesome in this book. She went off to talk with King Renly and Stannis while all the men sat back and continued fighting. It’s cool that she gets to do such an important mission even if it turns out badly. But that’s not really her fault.
- Did I just feel a smidgeon of sympathy/pity for Cersei? …I think I did. When she was talking about growing up with Jaime and being really close with him and then not getting a sword because she’s a woman and women don’t get swords and then being forced into a loveless marriage with Robert which robbed her of her agency… Damn, I don’t want this sympathy but I can’t help it because, in some ways, she was a victim. But now she’s got power and influence and she’s exercising it and if she wasn’t so horrible, I would be cheering her on. Of course, right after my sympathy fest, she tells Sansa that if they lose, Sansa is going to die and I hate her all over again.
- Joffrey, I still don’t like you in any way, shape, or form. You should just die.
- Brienne is just so wonderful. I want to be best friends with her. Although I’m awkward and she’s really awkward, so it would be one big awkwardfest.
- Though something I’ve noticed about this series – the prostitutes are never given any respect or substance. They’re just there for the men to pleasure themselves. We got to see more depth in Shae, which I am happy about, but I’d like more of her in the next book.
- Gendry! I didn’t expect him to ever show up again, but here he is, a major supporting character. I’m so glad he’s going with Arya. He’s so interesting.
- Melisandre is so creepy. Her shadow birthing is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read. Though the bit about shadows being products of light makes so much sense. Without light, there are no shadows. It would just be complete darkness. I’m fascinated by her religion though I don’t trust it after all the dark magic displays. Because even if shadows are products of the light, there is something immensely disturbing about giving birth to shadows who murder people. I can’t wait for more.
- Of all the religions in this book, I like the old gods best. There’s something cool about the weirwoods and the mysterious gods and the magic of it. I like the concept of the Seven as well. In practice, it bears a lot of resemblance to Catholicism though it’s polytheistic rather than monotheistic. And the Lord of the Light? That religion’s way freaky.
- Hey, where did Robb go? With Catelyn away from him, we don’t get any look into how things are going at his end. I think it’s a major fault in the book, but I’m not too invested in Robb even though I wholly support him as the King of the North… I want Daenerys to take the Iron Throne, maybe with Robb’s help, and so she permits him to be the King of the North while she rules the south… Yeah, I know that’s not going to happen, but I can dream!
- I know this is a book about the nobility warring over the kingdoms, but I’d love to see more of the common folk. Their lives are so unbelievably fucked by all the houses and families ravaging the land and raiding their villages and I just feel so bad for them. The life of a peasant is never an easy one. The glimpses we get of their lives from characters who are in those positions (such as Arya) are wonderful and since I doubt we’ll get a commoner’s perspective (honestly that could prove dull because they’d be more worried about surviving and not getting in this feud), I’m satisfied with more of these glimpses.
- A big theme in this book was chaos. Things are going sorta good and then they completely backfire. The attack on the holdfast where Arya was staying? Not expected. Theon turning traitor and taking over Winterfell and then losing it to the Dreadforts who I foolishly believed were going to be his allies? Oh, I was so woefully unprepared for that bit. I feel like I’m not going to be prepared for a lot of what happens and it’ll just be a complete surprise.
- Also, magic is returning to the world! This makes me so unbelievably happy even as it’s adding to the chaos of everything. Because magic is awesome and we get wolf dreams and creepy prophetic scenes and even creepier shadow birthing. Damn, that was just so disturbing.
- The battle for King’s Landing? HAIDOSHA ASHDI ASIDAHSI DAISDH IADHIASH DIAH! So fucking epic! I love the image of the wildfire going up and that first ship blowing up into a green inferno and it’s like hell’s in the bay and everything is a complete mess and I’m just thinking: damn Tyrion, even if I want the Lannisters to lose and this is not helping that goal, this is bloody fantastic! I usually don’t like naval battles, but this one was incredible.