Mark Reads ‘A Dance With Dragons’

In the fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, we learn what happens to all those characters and then JESUS GODDAMN CHRIST WHAT THE FUCK! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read A Dance With Dragons.

So, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I did not post predictions for this book. There are two reasons for that: First of all, like…half? Yes, about half of what I predicted for A Feast For Crows was rendered moot because those characters weren’t even in the book, so I wanted to preserve those precious, hope-filled moments as predictions for this book. Secondly, I read the prologue of A Dance With Dragons and reasoned that it was totally fine to then write the rest of any predictions I had after that. Then I read another chapter. Then I read five. Then I couldn’t stop. Then nine days later I finished it. WOOPS WHAT HAVE I DONE. I mean…seriously I read that book in under nine days. This was on top of reading The Hobbit, watching Battlestar Galactica, and working a full time job. I SACRIFICED EVERYTHING FOR THIS BOOK.

I blame most of that on the radically different tone and narrative flow of this book when compared with A Feast For Crows. I can now see why most people feel AFFC is the weakest book. It’s been an interesting perspective to power through these books in just around two months because it all feels a lot more complete and not as fragmented as it did for many fans who followed these in real time. In hindsight, though, I feel like AFFC was like a giant chess game, and this book is the completion of it. Martin had to set up so many things to deliver moments in this book that would provide the narrative power he wanted; because of that, AFFC feels so much slower and incomplete as a novel.

Plus, this book focuses heavily on Dany, Tyrion, and Jon, and the three of them are responsible for so much action in this series that it’s hard not to feel like their stories are much more urgent than what happened in Westeros. That’s not to say there aren’t problems with their stories–Tyrion’s in particular–but I certainly was completely engrossed by ADWD.

I’ll go through my unused predictions first before breaking off into a more proper review:

  • Tyrion Lannister is headed for the Wall. Why not meet up with Jon Snow and Stannis Baratheon? He just betrayed the Lannisters in the worst way possible, so it makes sense he’d head to people he might be of service to. LOL WHAT. Oh god, I mean, he did head to serve Daenarys, but yeah. No Wall for Tyrion.
  • DAVOS. My onion knight, i love you dearly. I think that he’ll be killed by an Other and I will never forgive GRRM for it. HE ISN’T EVEN AT THE WALL. Oh god, his “death” in AFFC was faked! OMG OMG. Wyman Manderly, you devil. Oh god, he knows were Rickon is WHERE IS THAT BOY IT’S BEEN THREE NOVELS WITHOUT HIM NOW. I miss Osha, too. :(
  • We will find out what the HELL happened to Theon Greyjoy. WHERE THE FUCK IS HE. OH MY GOD REEK. Leave it up to George R.R. Martin to take a character I despise, do horrible things to him so that I actually feel bad about hating him so much, and then REDEEM HIM WITH A JUMP INTO THE SNOW. He can’t be dead, right? JESUS CHRIST THOUGH. Fucking Ramsay Bolton, I SWEAR you are too much to deal with.
  • Okay, I didn’t get it last time, so I’m begging for it now: PLEASE, JUST ONE CHAPTER FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF ASHA GREYJOY. YES PLEASE GIVE ME A MILLION CHAPTERS FROM HER POINT OF VIEW. I know I counted it last time BUT ALLOW ME THIS POINT. Especially since her last POV chapter in this book is when GRRM actually reunites siblings for the first time ever and it’s not a joke and I almost cried I was so happy. Even better, this time, Asha did not recognize her brother, a complete flip from what happened in A Clash of Kings.
  • oh god JON SNOW ON THE WALL. omg he’s fucking LORD COMMANDER AND SHIT. I can’t even goddamn GUESS what the hell is going on. But let’s try: Mance Rayder will escape from captivity. Nope. Instead, he’ll be executed, only NOT, and then he’ll be sent to Winterfell, and then Jon gets a raven that says Stannis was defeated and Mance was captured and THIS IS A RUSE, RIGHT. And then…wait, I’ll get to that later. 
  • Someone will blow that horn thing that’s supposed to bring down the wall and it will work.
  • then disaster
  • then how will i survive. Not even close. Goddamn.
  • Bran, you are in hiding. What are you doing? I have not the slightest damn clue what’s happening to him. Um….he will…um….nope. I have nothing. Nothing at all. We’ll just count this as a strike against me right off the bat. HOLY FUCK BRAN’S STORY. He found the Children of the Forest and the three-eyed crow and I CAN’T EVEN HANDLE ALL OF THIS. Also, few things are sadder than Bran enters the weirwoods and sees his father in the woods outside Winterfell. jfc I miss you, Ned Stark.
  • DANY. DANY. DANY. How many ways do I love you, Dany? So, she’s remaining in one place to rule Meereen, and Jorah has been banished. OH GOD. Well, here’s my first prediction for her: I think she’ll make a terrible mistake because she has no one to stop her anymore. Nope. Dany’s story in Meereen is interesting because it’s such a polar opposite to Cersei’s, especially in the sense that she’s a woman ruling a nation but she doesn’t make the same horrific mistakes as Cersei does. Again, her story does subvert the White Savior trope, as it’s shown that her mere presence and good intentions don’t combine to make everything a fairytale wonderland. There is a distinct clash of culture here, especially as Dany tries to oppose standard customs in the (once) slaver city. On top of that, she’s forced to choose whether to stay and serve her nation or return to Westeros; the choices she makes do have disastrous consequences, especially when she weds Hizdahr zo Loraq and it comes to light that he actually tried to poison her. (Also, I did NOT expect her to marry him; I kept expecting something to delay or postpone it.)
  • I think that by the end of the book, she’ll be able to ride her dragons. JESUS IT IS THE GREATEST SCENE OF ALL SCENES EVER. I was blown away by Dany riding Drogon out of the fighting pits. It was a long time coming, and the chaotic nature of it made the moment so much more exciting.
  • Someone’s face will get melted off by a dragon. Quentyn Martell. :( :( :( :(
  • ONE CHAPTER FROM VARYS’ POINT OF VIEW. JUST ONE. PLEASE. NOW I NEED IT MORE THAN EVER. That fucking epilogue. GRRM HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO US. Team Varys, forever, by the way. What a HERO. He seriously does whatever is best for the realm HE IS NOT FUCKING AROUND.
  • Stannis. And let me add to that: Melisandre will do it. She’s clearly vying for some sort of power, and he’s the only one standing in her way. Lol nope. But Melisandre warned Jon Snow and she was right. :(
  • And my last prediction: A chapter from the perspective of Ramsay Snow. Because we keep reading about him secondhand, and it’s about time we heard from the man himself. I want to take this back because I find nothing redeeming or fascinating about Ramsay Bolton. What a disgusting, revolting human being.

So, what does that add up to? Four right? Why do I even try at this point?

A lot happens in this book, obviously, and I’d like to tackle each of the main characters to talk about where GRRM has taken them by splitting the second half of this review up by each of the main POVs that we get. OMG HERE GOES.

Tyrion

One of the biggest complaints that I have about A Dance With Dragons is that, and most especially in the case of Tyrion, the story doesn’t seem to go anywhere. In my brain, this book and A Feast For Crows are like the middle part of a trilogy, so I am holding on to the hope that all of this is absolutely necessary, that one day I’ll look back at Tyrion’s story here and feel it was integral to where GRRM was eventually headed. I think it’s all the more disappointing because, until his last two POV chapters, it seemed to me that he was setting things up so beautifully.

The man is in an interesting place, exiled across the Narrow Sea to Pentos entirely by the Spider’s doing in order to avoid execution. Because he has to stay “hidden,” I do adore what GRRM does with Tyrion. He’s so used to having the freedom of his name to basically say and do as he pleases, though he admittedly started losing that at the end of A Storm of Swords. Being a fugitive on the run, he has to learn to keep his mouth shut, to do things he would never consider doing, and to face his own sense of pride. I honestly love it when authors take their characters to uncomfortable places, and GRRM doesn’t avoid this at all.

Seriously, Tyrion first has to travel the Griffs (which HOLY SHIT PLOT TWIST AMAZING), then joins up with Penny and Jorah, then is SOLD INTO SLAVERY WITH THEM, then joins the Second Sons, and JESUS CHRIST. A lot of this deals with Tyrion’s sense of pride: is he too proud to perform for others? How does his identity tie into the fact that he’s a dwarf and merely entertainment for most people? Does he react poorly or positively when forced to spend an extended length of time with another dwarf?

GRRM doesn’t strip away Tyrion’s sharp wit or tongue (I MEAN SERIOUSLY HE FIGURED OUT WHO THE GRIFFS WERE WHAT THE FUCK), but it’s the most we’ve seen him have to hold a thought back than ever before. These are things I want to read about! It’s this sort of exploration of his character that fascinates me so much about these books and it’s why I’m perfectly fine with things being “slow.” While I’m certainly interested in the larger story, I’m become so enamored with the characters that I find myself more intrigued with how they interact with the ever-changing world around them.

At the same time, there’s something disappointing about how Tyrion’s story just ends by the completion of A Dance With Dragons. I am sort of surprised that I thought Tyrion would head to the Wall after he killed Tywin; that doesn’t make much sense at all, in hindsight. It’s far more logical that he’d leave Westeros entirely to seek out Daenarys, and, given the epilogue of ADWD, it’s even more sensible that Varys would send him to a Targaryen. (Seriously, the man does what’s best for the realm, does he not?) But what I’ve liked so much about each book is that GRRM takes a character, puts them through hell and shows us how they cope with it, then dumps them out in an entirely new place with a new direction to head in. Something just doesn’t feel right about Tyrion’s story in this book ending with the Second Sons. I was so excited for him to get to Meereen. Did I expect him to meet up with Dany? OF COURSE NOT. Do characters in this series ever actually get to where they’re going? At the same time, his end is so abrupt and not in a way that makes me think this is an intentional or thematic choice. What has changed for Tyrion? Where is he headed? It’s like his big “moment”–the ones he’s had in the first three books–is only a few chapters away, but GRRM decides to cut things off early. Why? Why prevent this from happening?

It’s weird for me to say this, though, because I lack the full scope of his character, so I know that I’m already in trouble before I’ve started. By the time The Winds of Winter comes out, I could be eating my words because I’ve horrifically misjudged this. I’m okay with that! I want to be wrong. But it just feels…weird? God, I don’t even know how to describe it properly. Does this make sense?

Daenarys

MY QUEEN MY QUEEN I LOVE YOU. I’ve heard that people were really unhappy with her story, but JFC I LOVED IT SO MUCH. First of all, there is a brilliant parallel between herself and Jon Snow, who both must “rule” their own people and those who belong to a different culture than their own. The difficult thing that we as readers have to deal with is the idea that Dany banning the slave trade has negative repercussions. And like, we can all agree that slavery is bad! It is a thing that is not very good! Yet at the same time, I think GRRM continues to chip away at the White Savior trope, this idea that just because Dany believes herself to be more civilized and “just” than the people she has conquered doesn’t mean that her queendom will be magically fixed and perfect.

That’s the moral grey area she’s thrust into and, like a lot of what’s happening in Westeros, Dany has her own complicated set of political forces to deal with. I am constantly impressed by how complex and immersive the political intrigue is in this series, and I think that having to create that entire environment in Essos on top of everything in Westeros is just astounding to me. That’s not to say I don’t side-eye GRRM for still keeping a lot of the same tropes about non-white nations in his book and not challenging them. Most of the weird, difficult-to-pronounce names all belong to those across the Narrow Sea, and most of them happen not to be white; most of the culture surrounding them sets these people up as the “other” to what’s standard for all the white people in the story.

Which isn’t to say that GRRM doesn’t engage these things, and I think he does do it well through Dany, but I think I’d like to have some of this story told from the perspective of a character from the east. We see these cultures through the eyes of a white character who thinks a lot of what the people do in Astapor and Meereen is “uncivilized” and “brutish” and “barbaric”; we have no opinion from people who were brought up in this culture, and I’d like to see that.

Still, that’s not the only problem she faces; I figured that, due to the title of this book, Dany’s dragons would finally have to take center stage in terms of the major conflict, and OH BOY DOES MARTIN DELIVER. I knew once the dragons were revealed at the end of A Game of Thrones that he wouldn’t have them raining terror down for a while; they had to grow, and Dany would eventually have to find a way to tame them. And then all that shit happened in A Storm of Swords and faces were melted and shit got so goddamn real that it made me wonder where GRRM would take them next.

OH HOW ABOUT THEY BURN A CHILD. or how about DROGON ROAMS THE COUNTRYSIDE BURNING THE THATCHED-ROOF COTTAGES.

 

I think that a lot of her story in this book is about control: how much control does she actually have? Can she maintain that control as one of the only women ever to hold Meereen? Can she control her dragons, and can she even control her own court? Which, by the way, increasingly becomes more and more full with suitors, who she gracefully and beautifully rejects because she does what she wants. Well, to a point, that is, when she marries Hizdahr zo Loraq, in one of the more bewildering plot twists GRRM has ever given us. I honestly kept thinking right up to the wedding itself that something would happen to prevent the marriage from occurring. Seriously, when has a wedding proven to be a good thing in this series? Shockingly, though, the wedding is a success; Dany is able to pacify the Sons of the Harpy through it and attempt to give peace back to Meereen after the resistance had killed so many of her men for closing the fighting pits. (Well, and there was the pale mare plague, too, which makes me want to go back and read every prediction made in the series ever, because not a single one has ever been wrong.)

I guess it’s just…a confusing thing to happen? I suppose I don’t really know how I feel about it, except that I know that Daario is wonderful and beautiful and I was so happy that GRRM finally included a sex scene with a woman that wasn’t HORRIFIC and instead portrayed her as ENJOYING SEX. But holy cow, does this book become incredibly chaotic at the end because DROGON COMES BACK AND DANY RIDES HER DRAGON and it is legitimately one of my favorite scenes in the entire series. I did not expect it at all and it is beautiful and thrilling and YES PLEASE.

At the same time, Dany’s end is abrupt like Tyrion’s, though it doesn’t suffer from the lack of purpose that I felt his had. It’s clear that she’s entered a new phase of her life, albeit a mighty confusing one, and…no, seriously, I have no idea how on earth she’s going to get out of this.

Jon Snow

As I said before, there’s a wonderful unspoken parallel between him and Dany. Jon succeeds where she fails, and I think the key to how Jon was able to navigate the wildlings and the Knight’s Watch was that he understood the wildlings. He engaged them in a way that acknowledged that their culture was different, but no less valid than his own. Everything is to an extent, of course, because he clearly underestimates some of his own men in the process, and the union is far from perfect. On top of that, King Stannis’s presence is hardly beneficial to him for the most part. The Night’s Watch is sworn to no allegiance, but Stannis pushes it constantly. GOD IT IS SO IRRITATING. Surely you understand this, sir, SO WHY DON’T YOU DROP IT.

More so than before, the situation at the wall is even more ridiculous and fragile than it’s been in a long time. It’s not surprising that a lot of the Night’s Watch is completely against the idea of creating an alliance with the wildlings. Of course, it’s a guttural reaction: these people have been attacking rangers for years, and Mance Rayder is no friend of the Night’s Watch. I think that’s why I love so much of what Jon does here. I mean, there are entire scenes where he makes sure they treat a giant well and with respect. THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL. Seriously, read all the sections where he talks with Tormund Giantsbane! LOOK HOW WELL HE HANDLES ALL OF THIS.

It’s hard to talk about Jon Snow and this book, though, because it takes every fiber of my being not to SOB IN TERROR because Bowen Marsh is my least favorite human being in any fictional setting ever. I mean…it can’t be true, right? HE CAN’T DIE. We haven’t seen him die and Melisandre is still around so she can keep him alive and PLEASE DO NOT KILL JON SNOW OFF. I know begging for that is a goddamn foolish endeavor because GRRM seems to sense when enough fans like a character and so he vows to upset us because it’s like his lifeforce or something. I mean I feel like that’s canon already and he’s not even a character in these books. Every time I became enraged at a character death, it added another minute to his life, didn’t it? OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE

Melisandre

Why isn’t every chapter in this book about her? I absolutely love the fact that in her chapter, we discover that her beliefs are real, that she isn’t trying to manipulate and deceive everyone. It only makes me want more from her. AHHHH GIVE ME FORTY MILLION CHAPTERS FROM HER. Wait, I shouldn’t say that because he will kill her off. I AM CONFLICTED.

Theon Greyjoy

After A Clash of Kings, if you had told me that one day I would feel sympathy for Theon Greyjoy, I would have told you that I don’t want to live on the same planet of you. I would have. I would have said that it was the most improbable idea of all time. I would have assumed you were trolling me. I would have assumed it was a poorly executed joke.

Don’t mistake this for me forgiving him for what he did, but….Reek. I can’t. When I realized it was him in that first POV chapter of his, I just had to shut the book. I don’t really care what a person has done; that sort of treatment is just too much for me. I think it is even more tragic because the man who tortures him isn’t even doing it to avenge the Starks. HE IS JUST FUCKING AWFUL AND DERIVES JOY FROM HUMAN PAIN.

After A Clash of Kings, if you had told me that Theon could do something that would also begin the process of repairing of his reputation, I would laugh until I stopped breathing. Again, I’ll repeat myself: I don’t necessarily forgive him for what he did to Winterfell, but that doesn’t mean that I still can’t have all the feelings for him.

I don’t think GRRM is done with Theon just yet, and I think we’ll find out he survived the leap with Jeyne Poole and made it to Stannis. Please? Please?

Cersei

Yes, I love her dearly; yes, she does terrible things. THESE TWO THINGS ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. I am sort of flabbergasted to continue to see how much hate she gets from fandom when many men do the exact same things as she does but they’re heroic and noble. god just SHUT UP. I acknowledge that she is supposed to represent how power can corrupt a person, and GRRM does this well; at the same time, he also creates a much more complex portrait of her, and that is why it’s so easy for me to find things to enjoy about her. Say what you will about the mistakes she makes, but she genuinely loves her children; like Catelyn in that respect, it’s at the forefront of a lot of her decisions, though it’s not the sole motivation she has. The world around her punishes her for this, but I never feel like GRRM does herself.

There’s a lot of difficult stuff to read in this series; some of it is gory. (I can’t deal with another kneecap exploding JESUS CHRIST STOP IT). Some of it is thematic. (Catelyn thinking about Ned liking her hair WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME.) A lot of it is just downright upsetting. I don’t think that I could ever sit down and read Cersei’s march of humiliation ever again. I could not do it. It’s one of the most awful things I’ve ever come across in fiction, and what makes it so terrible is that so many people in this world heap scorn and insults on Cersei, including the people close to her, WHEN ALL OF THEM HAVE DONE TERRIBLE, HORRIFIC THINGS. And as uncomfortable as this all was, I do find it fascinating and appropriate that (at least to me) GRRM made this so obvious. Everyone’s suddenly horrified by Cersei’s acts! Good gods, how could one person be so horrible?

SHUT UP YOU ARE ALL WORSE AND YOU PUNISHED HER FOR BEING A WOMAN. Well punished her in that way I should say. She’s still worthy of punishment for what she did, but…YEAH.

Jaime

OH MY GOD BRIENNE IS ALIVE HOLY SHIT IF YOU GO WITH HER SHE WILL TAKE YOU TO CATELYN. Oh god WHAT DID BRIENNE SAY TO CATELYN TO GET OUT OF THE NOOSE? WHAT IS GOING ON? I NEED THE NEXT BOOK RIGHT FUCKING NOW.

Victarion

oh my god what the fuck is he going to do with that horn OMG MOQORRO HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON

Quentyn Martell

Oh, Quentyn. You tried! Misguided as you were, and as presumptuous as you were, you genuinely tried! But HOLY SHIT, YOU FAILED SO BADLY. I mean, there was a part of me that was sort of touched by his decision to try to prove his worth. Of course it was a futile thing to begin with, and the plan to do so was so poorly thought-out that it was doomed to failure.  Still, it was sort of…adorable? Like, he genuinely liked Daenarys! Yes, the whole thing stunk of a lot of chivalry and duty and honor and YAWN, but there’s still a part of me that made me think he just wanted her to like him.

TOO BAD HE WAS BURNED TO A CRISP. Oh, Quentyn, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING.

DAVOS!!!!!

YOU ARE NOT DEAD I AM SO GLAD THAT REPORT IN A FEAST FOR CROWS WAS FAKE BECAUSE YOU ARE MY ONION KNIGHT AND YOU ARE STILL ALIVE AND HOLY SHIT THEY ARE GOING AFTER RICKON AND OSHA. Where the fuck are they???

oh god there are no more books of this for me to read. THIS IS A TRAGEDY. oh god what do i do with my life

A note about scheduling! Surprises start Monday. Many of you will be pleased. There will be no review on Thanksgiving. Because family and food? you bigots ALLOW ME THIS MOMENT. omg just kidding I LOVE YOU ALL. The surprise will take a while to pan out, and then we’ll jump right into the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

On top of that, I’ll have books to release for you, and I’ll be moving on to novelizations of Mark Reads Harry Potter, having Sorcerer’s Stone done and out before Christmas. YOU CAN GIVE IT AS A GIFT OMG. Anyway, watch the site! I will have many things to announce.

About Mark Reads

Vegan cyclist, Internet community nerd, atheist bookworm, high-five purveyor.
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147 Responses to Mark Reads ‘A Dance With Dragons’

  1. Jenny_M says:

    So, so, so. I figured something out for myself. Quentyn Martell is the SUN (since he's from Dorne) that SETS in the EAST. Because he dies in Meereen. And the Dothraki sea is the sea that has run dry. And I'm not sure about the rest of the prophecy, but I have this theory that somehow Drogo will be reborn through Drogon and be like…a warg or I don't know. I just like the fact that Quentyn Martell could be the sun that sets in the east. Because THAT WOULD BE SO SMART, GRRM.

    Also, with regards to Jon Snow, I mean…he's not dead. There are so many ways that he could not be dead. Personally, I think he's Nmbe Nunv erobea because of some stuff that happens during his last scene.

    Ugh, I can't wait six years for another book, y'all. GRRM needs to start writing.

  2. Shadowmarauder says:

    There’s only one thing I want to happen in the next book: could something nice happen for one of the Starks? Just one, come on GRRM, give these folks something.

    • woot says:

      Book 7 was originally titled A Time for Wolves. Let that be a hint for you.

    • fantasylover120 says:

      What, you want to take away Martin's favorite punching bag?
      But yeah, I really want happiness and rainbows for the Starks because man do they go through stuff. While I would love to believe the original title mentioned above means it's going to happen, it's MARTIN. Also he changed the title so yeah.

  3. notemily says:

    nooooooooooooooooo NO MORE SURPRISES THAT TAKE A WHILE

  4. Ryan Lohner says:

    And now…we all wait together. Welcome to the true experience of being a Song of Ice and Fire fan, where reading the books is something of a major life decision.

  5. Danielle says:

    Everytime you talked about Theon in your previous reviews, I thought "Oh sweet summer child, you are so not prepared!"

  6. knut_knut says:

    I read this book RIGHT when it came out, but haven’t read it since because it turns out I could. not. live with the hardcover among my paperbacks, so my memory is pretty shaky. Up until really recently I HATED Dany’s story because I thought her claim to the throne was ridiculous, but now that I’ve had time to step away from the stories, I realize I don’t really hate her as much as I thought I did. Part of the problem was that her chapters tend to be a bit slower than the rest but also pop up all the time , so I’d end a really exciting chapter and then be like UGH A DANY CHAPTER IT’S GOING TO BE SO SLOW I WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING IN WESTEROS! But she’s FOURTEEN at best and everything is stacked against her! I mean, what the hell was I doing at fourteen? I’m 23 and a book’s binding is enough to unravel me.

    I know a lot of people hate Bran’s chapters because they’re also slow and “weird” and he’s whiny but I really love them! Maybe it’s just because I love the Children of the Forest, but BRING ON THE WEIRD

    • monkeybutter says:

      I like Dany, but I wish her story was paced a bit faster (and everyone else's as well…thank god Bran finally got to the children of the forest) mostly because I have a list of people she needs to burn in Westeros. I think all claims to the throne are ridiculous because I want spring to herald a new republican era in Westeros, but I'll be damned if Aegon gets the throne over Daenerys. It does look like he'll have an edge with the religious fundamentalists, though. More reason to hate them.

      • knut_knut says:

        I still think there’s a good chance the dragons will just go fuck this, burn everything, and set up their own society. Zombie Smaug can be in charge of the treasury.

        ETA: How could I forget about Trogdor?! He’d be the official Burninator.

        How far in advance does GRRM plan his stories? I think I remember him saying he kind of makes them up as he goes along. I really hope there was a point to Quentyn’s story because if not, it was just a huge time suck and I think the book’s pacing would have been much better if he’d cut Quentyn’s story and found a different way to manipulate events.

        • calimie says:

          Don't forget the Others! There's a good chance those dragons will be having roasted zombies.

          This is a theory I read about Quentyn and Mereen at ONTD (their GoT tag is quite good):
          Nccneragyl, TEEZ fcbxr bs univat ceboyrzf jvgu n "Zrerra xabg" naq ubj vg jbhyq nssrpg gur erfg bs gur frevrf.
          Gur gurbel jnf gung Dhragla unq gb qvr nsgre orvat erwrpgrq ol Qnal fb gung Qbear jbhyq abg onpx ure pynvz gb gur guebar naq fhccbeg Nrtba vafgrnq.
          Gung znxrf frafr gb zr, V pna'g vzntvar uvf sngure orvat irel unccl nobhg guvf, rira vs vg jnf Dhragla'f snhyg.

          • knut_knut says:

            The Others and the Dragons will form an alliance and crossbreed creating Other Dragons? I should never write fanfiction because it would be TERRIBLE.

            That theory is so sad but right up GRRM's alley. Hmmmm

      • roguebelle says:

        I feel like Dany's was the story that most would have benefited from GRRM taking that five-year leap in the storyline that he initially intended to. I feel like he didn't quite have enough material to fill that time as he did in the Westeros threads of the story, and so he was left sort of… filling… time… really… slowly… And as a result, her chapters feel like the one of these things that is not like the other.

        • monkeybutter says:

          I think you're right, and that Jon and Bran probably would have benefited from it, as well. Kings Landing and the war are better paced and exciting, but everyone on the periphery suffers because things take longer to fall into place (Jon and Dany have to stumble and grow into becoming leaders.) They end up doing a lot of introspection and brooding. I'm glad that by the end of ADWD, it feels like the characters and plotlines are finally coming together, and that Dany (and hopefully Jon) are going to be in the middle of the action.

          • roguebelle says:

            I hope things work out that way, too — although, it's funny. Dany's story annoyed me throughout the entire book, up until her very last chapter, when I finally felt like she was being /herself/ again — and I had exactly the opposite experience with Jon. I was so excited for him and for the action he was taking throughout the entire book, and then he makes that catastrophically poor decision at the end that made me /lose/ respect for him. And there was a way around that — he could so easily have focused on the direct threat to the Night's Watch rather than making it about his family, but noooo, he had to go and put it in the one way guaranteed to negate his authority. But I do hope he'll be around to redeem himself (though I have this feeling Mel's going to revive him, which will put him in her debt, thus causing a whole new set of problems, but — at least those will be interesting problems to watch happen).

            • monkeybutter says:

              I agree with everything you say. Dany's chapters were so frustrating because it just felt wrong for her to try to rule on Meereenese terms and compromise herself. I was ecstatic when she jumped on Drogon and left that mess behind (though she'll probably confront it again, in a new, blood of the dragon way.) I love her as mother of dragons.

        • I actually rather like Dany's storyline (though I'm still nowhere near caught up in DWD; clearly I care nothing for spoilers) but I think Arya's in particular could have been amazing with the five-year time leap. Martin could have had this assassin appear and weave her in under another name, dropping hints in her conversations and the things she knows and then suddenly slam us with the reveal that "OH YEAH, THIS IS ARYA." Plus I feel like it would have moved the story forward faster and I feel like (though I really hope I'm wrong) that he's kind of getting bogged down in all the viewpoints.
          I dunno, just my two cents.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      OH MY GOD I LOVE THE CHILDREN OF THE FOREST. Fuck, I knew I forgot to talk about something. BUT YES. PLEASE GET PROGRESSIVELY WEIRDER.

      oh god when bran sees ned in the weirwoods :( :( :( :( :(

      • knut_knut says:

        I KNOW!!! Crying all the tears :'( :'( :'(

        I hope the Children and the Others play even bigger roles in the last 2 books because they're just about the coolest things ever and I WANT TO KNOW MORE!

      • Jade says:

        One of my favourite things is that in later chapters after Bran's last one in ADWD, there are small hints that he's watching everything go down through the trees. I think it was in a Jon chapter that he heard a voice calling to him from a weirwood, which I could only assume was Bran. I REALLY HAVE NO IDEA WHERE HIS PLOTLINE IS GOING and I love Bran's chapters for that.

        • calimie says:

          Doesn't Theon hear his name in the godswood too? My heart broke at that point, ngl.

          • Jade says:

            Oh yeah! Haha, I forgot about that. I remembered a few instances where characters heard a voice calling to them from the godswood, and the only one I could remember was Jon.

            Oh Theon. :(

      • Barbara says:

        I read the scene where Bran sees Ned (and Lyanna?) through the weirwood at Winterfell in a restaurant, and promptly burst into tears. I really didn't realize how much I missed Ned.

        The lady at the next table stopped by and asked what I was reading, since it made me cry. I told her and recommended the books.

  7. monkeybutter says:


    Jaime

    OH MY GOD BRIENNE IS ALIVE HOLY SHIT IF YOU GO WITH HER SHE WILL TAKE YOU TO CATELYN. Oh god WHAT DID BRIENNE SAY TO CATELYN TO GET OUT OF THE NOOSE? WHAT IS GOING ON? I NEED THE NEXT BOOK RIGHT FUCKING NOW.

    YES. THIS IS ALL I REALLY CARE ABOUT.


    Victarion

    oh my god what the fuck is he going to do with that horn OMG MOQORRO HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON

    Dunno, but I hope this worthless fuckhead is going to try to steal Dany’s dragons, be the next to get his face melted off, and deliver that horn into her hands. I will settle for no less.

    Poor Theon/Reek. I don’t forgive him for the many, many terrible things he’s done, but his chapters were excruciating to read, and I pity him immensely. He’s been broken. And poor Jeyne, too. She has been through hell since she went to King’s Landing. Remember when that was exciting? And how are any of them going to survive in that snow (aside from becoming like the cannibals on Skagos?)

    I love the contrasts between the ways Cersei, Dany, and Jon ruled and failed. Cersei was self-centered and paranoid, and tried to destroy her enemies; Dany gave up her dragons and compromised with her moral enemies to protect all of her people; and Jon tried to find a middle-ground to balance the needs of the Watch, the wildlings, and Stannis’s demands, while protecting his friends (WWND fucks you up every time.) And everything went to hell for them, especially Daenerys and Jon who were betrayed by people they had to trust. At least Cersei was undone by one of her dozens of actual open enemies. I want all of them to come back from this (even Jon), to get their revenge, and maybe set things right. I have to believe that Cersei is biding her time, and plotting a little smarter, for Tommen’s sake. Dany still has about a million prophecies to fulfill, and I hope she’ll have a khalasar again. And there’s no way that Jon’s dead. Nope nope nope.

    I like Jon Connington, but I hate his Targaryen. I dunno, I think Aegon’s a fake or has the bad Targaryen gene. Something’s off about that kid.

    On a happier note, Melisandre’s POV made me a fan (how does GRRM do that?) and did you know that Dorne in rot13 is Qbear? It’s how I think of Quentyn in my mind now, and it almost makes him interesting.

    • earis the istarwen says:

      Dany still has about a million prophecies to fulfill

      Talk about stress. I was so happy when she just fucked off on Drogon and got to hang out with her dragon fir a while and not worry about ridiculous clothing and stupid rules and assassins.

      • monkeybutter says:

        Me, too. It was one of the best parts of the book — finally, pay off — and I'm so excited for her to be a badass head of the dragon.

        • earis the istarwen says:

          When I feel sad, I just imagine the look on everyone in Westeros's faces when Dany steps off of Drogon's back and says, 'Hey guys, can I be your queen?'

          Life = Better

    • drippingmercury says:

      Dunno, but I hope this worthless fuckhead is going to try to steal Dany's dragons, be the next to get his face melted off, and deliver that horn into her hands. I will settle for no less.

      THIS. I fully assume Moqorro is just trolling him with this "your dragon" and "your great destiny" nonsense. Victarion only went east because Rhaegal and Viserion ordered some kalamari.

      • monkeybutter says:

        God, it would be hilarious if he was just using Victarion as a ride to Dany's whereabouts.

        • ninja_bat says:

          I'm sure he does exactly that. Wasn't there something about the Red Priests in Volantis believing Dany was AAR in one of Tyrion's chapters? And Moqorro is apparently the second-in-command for the Head Priest of Volantis.

          Really, one of the things I loved about the books was discovering that Melisandre is not exactly a main player in her religion's structure, and that there seems to be almost some kind of "competition" to find a fitting messiah (and very likely, influence her or him).

          • monkeybutter says:

            Me, too, and knowing that she has competition made me start rooting for her, oddly enough.

            • ninja_bat says:

              I'm not exactly rooting for her, I mean there still is that whole wanting to burn eleven-year-olds issue. But it made the Red Priests as an element a whole lot more interesting to me.

      • earis the istarwen says:

        Moqorro is totally trolling Victarion. Or is being trolled by the gods of prophecy.

  8. Ryan Lohner says:

    After reading this book, I'm more convinced than ever that Dany's story is going to end with her getting to Westeros, strolling around for a while, then saying "Oh, fuck this. I'm going back to my real home." Because if there's one thing we learn about her here, it's that despite all the best intentions in the world, she's just not a very good ruler. And she has a disturbing propensity to get crushes on a certain kind of man…assholes, I believe they're called.

    And I love all this; in the first three books she was teetering dangerously close to being a Mary Sue, doing one awesome thing after another while everyone else suffered and died. So it's great to see some real flaws in her character for once. I just hope Martin sticks with this more rounded portrayal.

    • earis the istarwen says:

      In defense of young teenagers who are attracted to men, sometimes charismatic good-looking assholes are very attractive. And then we grow up and realize that charisma sometimes hides narcissism and good-looks go away and assholes are only fun in a certain context, and we move onto people who respect us as people.

    • doesntsparkle says:

      I don't think we've really seen any good rulers as King or Queen. Robert only held the throne for as long as he did because Jon Aryan did everything. Joffery was awful. Cersei made mistake after mistake. Long Live King Tommen, but he's only a figurehead.

      Stannis might actually make a good ruler, but he has absolutely no charisma or popular support. Renly was out of the game before it really started. I hate Balon Greyjoy too much to give him much credit, but the Ironborn are better at conquering than ruling. Robb was a good warrior, but he didn't understand politics at all.

      • calimie says:

        I'm not so sure about Stannis either. He's just too focused on following the law and has no flexibility at all for no one. Just look at Davos and the man had just saved Storm's End. A King has to issue pardons every now and then.

        • doesntsparkle says:

          It reminds me of when Jon and the steward are discussing Stannis. "His Grace is not an easy man. Few are, who wear a crown. Many good men have been bad kings, Maester Aemon used to say, and some bad men have been good kings." I love that quote, it's so true. Stannis isn't a bad man. I think Ned described him as "hard, but fair."

          I don't remember the exact circumstances of Davos loosing his fingers. Davos saved Storms End because he was the most bad ass pirate ever, then Stannis knighted him for saving the day and cut off the his fingers from the knuckle up for piracy. Right? At least Stannis doesn't play favorites, I guess.

          Davos/Sack of Fingers was my OTP forever. Damn GRRM for separating them.

          • calimie says:

            Yeah, that's a really good quote.

            I've only read the books once but I think that's the gist of it. One the one hand, as you say, Stannis does not play favourites, but on the other he has no idea what mercy means.

            Not to mention that, were he to win the throne right now, the religious issue would be a huge problem, especiallly now that Cersei armed them.

            Melisandre had a weird comment about Davos' Sack of Fingers. When she was explaining to Jon how Mance's glamour worked she said you needed one thing that identify them: a shirt of bones, *a sack of fingers*. It was weird and it may only mean that she had thought about it: to impersonate Davos she'd only need his sack of fingers. I don't think DWD!Davos is a fake, and I can't see how she'd have the sack (though Dragonstone is near King's Landing) but it's something to keep in mind.
            It'd be sweet if Davos/Sack of Fingers end up reunited. He's one of my favourite characters.

            • doesntsparkle says:

              I didn't catch the part of the glamour. Mind Blown. I assumed that the fingers are gone, but now I'll be on the look out for them.

              The pending Holy War is one of the most fascinating sub plots, I want more of it.

              • calimie says:

                I am about 99% sure the fingers are gone, which of course means they'll be back :D

                Agreed about the Holy War. How long till these priests start asking the "smallfolk" why they didn't protect their septs? This is going to be bad.

  9. JonT says:

    Mark have you read the prequel short-stories? They put a lot of tiny details from Books 4 and 5 into a new context.

  10. earis the istarwen says:

    I am sort of flabbergasted to continue to see how much hate she gets from fandom when many men do the exact same things as she does but they’re heroic and noble. god just SHUT UP

    EXACTLY THIS.

    I don’t think that I could ever sit down and read Cersei’s march of humiliation ever again. I could not do it. It’s one of the most awful things I’ve ever come across in fiction, and what makes it so terrible is that so many people in this world heap scorn and insults on Cersei, including the people close to her, WHEN ALL OF THEM HAVE DONE TERRIBLE, HORRIFIC THINGS.

    I completely agree, Mark. I will not be able to reread those scenes any time soon. I reread the Dany parts all the time because a fantasy novel where someone actually tries to explain politics is amazing, but Cersei's Walk is just so difficult.

    Even more difficult, for me, is the in-book analysis of her walk – how Kevan and all the male figures kept explaining how this destroys Cersei forever and isn't it sad but that's what happens when a woman tries to rule. I've spent a long time wanting Sansa to stab Cersei in the face, but before that happens I want Cersei to light every male in the castle, and the entire priesthood, up in wildfire.

    Thank you Mark. I feel like I've been trying to say this to fellow GRRM fans that I know, but all of them seem to think that Dany is boring and Cersei deserves what she got. So thank you, for being compassionate and kind, even in your unpreparedness you are a more capable reader than most.

    • See, I have a very different perspective here. First of all I just have to state off the bat that Dany is tied with Tyrion for my favorite character. But man, do I hate Cersei.

      She claims to be doing all of this shit out of love for her children, but I think that's a manipulative smokescreen. I think she wants power, and she wants to be remembered as a legend like her father was. She wants to be the most powerful, the most cunning, the most beautiful, the most feared. She wants to be Special. She wants to be a goddess queen.

      I think she has managed to convince herself that her actions are motivated out of some altruistic concern for her children, when really it's a lot more selfish than that.

      And I think that she has also convinced herself that she has failed because everyone has conspired against her as a woman, when really it's because she is arrogant, short-sighted, impulsive, petty, short-tempered, and paranoid.

  11. drippingmercury says:

    Well, this book was not what I expected. I still haven’t sorted out all of my feelings, but clearly I have a lot of them -I think this is the longest thing I've ever posted:

    As Mark has noted, the sexism does become very tiring. I appreciate that GRRM doesn’t gloss over it like most fantasy authors I’ve read, but that doesn’t mean he should revel in it! At some point over the last 2 novels Martin crossed from realistic medieval misogyny to feeling like he was writing for street harassment-style lulz. GRRM’s “sex” scenes are also pretty goddamn awful, especially the pseudo-rapey ones. As I might have mentioned in the AFFC review, I think the whole “Myrish swamp” scene and its rapeyness is pretty fucking gross. Then ADWD has this rape kink scene with Asha and Qarl that is just…. ugh dear god why. I have no problem with Asha enjoying rape role play, especially given that she comes from a (fucked up) culture that really glorifies in rape and violence, but the way it is written is JUST FUCKING GROSS. Despite being in Asha’s POV we are lead to believe she is actually being raped until yet again GRRM pulls the NO ITS ACTUALLY CONSENSUAL SEXYTIEM ~SO EROTIC~ bullshit. As with the Myrish swamp, there are ways in which I think this scene could be done tastefully. It’s like the scene was purely physical, without providing any sort of intellectual or emotional perspective.

    VICTARION I HATE YOU FOREVER PLZ STOP HAVING CHAPTERS. I hope Moqorro’s prophecies are just allusions to your dragony death. Fucking GRRM will probably just have him tame Viserion, marry Dany, and become king of Westeros or something, though. Ugh. may the “dusky woman” stab you in your sleep.

    Speaking of marrying Dany: DANY WHAT ARE YOU DOING. Not that I’m on board with slavers or anything, but could you be a just a teensy bit less racist toward the Ghiscari? I had really hoped you’d gotten this White Savior shit out of your system. Also I hear-by find you guilty of dragon neglect and deem you an unfit mother for any and all mythological creatures.
    (Side note: I was completely spoiled for Dany’s ending because my flimsy wrists couldn’t handle holding the book above my head as I lay on my back. I dropped the book on my face open to her last chapter and it is not possible to stop my eyes from reading any words they see! It made her plot arc even more of a bummer.)

    JON. Jon, what are YOU doing? Why are you being so unusually wonderful and clever and I approve of everything you are do–oh. Oh, ok. Yeah, of course that happened.
    THEORY TIME. Jba vf abg ernyyl qrnq, whfg erobea! Nf cre gur Nmbe Nunv cebcurpl, Wba’f “qrngu” unccrarq nzbat fzbxr (uvf fzbxvat jbhaqf) naq fnyg (Znefu’f grnef), naq Zryvfnaqer whfg unccrarq gb xrrc frrvat Wba jura fur frnepurq sbe Nmbe Nunv erobea. Ubj vf Wba erobea? Jryy, gurer’f gur boivbhf uvag sebz gur cebybthr: Wba yvirf n frpbaq yvsr vafvqr bs Tubfg. Ohg zl crefbany gurbel vf gung Zryvfnaqer tvirf Wba gur xvff naq ur pbzrf onpx gb yvsr yvxr Orevp be Png. Fvapr ur “qvrq”, uvf jngpu unf raqrq naq ur pna tb or n onqnff naq trg n qentba orpnhfr boivbhfyl E Y=W, evtug?

    MORE THEORIES: My partner thinks that Lord Commander Mormont was secretly a warg who is now living his second life inside the sassy LC Raven. I agree, because WHY NOT.

    Miscellaneous thoughts: 1) MOAR BRAN. 2) MOAR DAVOS. 3) I love you Wyman! How did you know I thought this series could use more Sweeney Todd? 4) QUENTYN. :( I LOVE HOUSE MARTELL FOREVER. 5) RAMSAY. The Most Dangerous Game is NEVER APPROPRIATE. 6) Totally loved it when Dany flew off on Drogon, though I kept laughing when she was chastising him for eating people. “Bad dragon! No! NO!” lololol did he make a mess on your meereenese carpet? maybe you should take him for walks more often.

    Also, unequivocally TEAM VARYS. Unless there’s a Team Varys/Littlefinger. The TV show has made me ship them so hard.

    edit to rot13 more things :)

    • calimie says:

      Your theories: Yes!
      Particularly the one about warg!Mormont. That raven got smarter between books, y/y?

    • monkeybutter says:

      I like your partner's idea. Didn't Alysane Mormont say something about Mormont women turning into bears? (omg Beorn/Maege OTP) Maybe Mormonts are skinchangers! This is suddenly really exciting to me. Also, I want Asha and Alysane to be bffs.

      I can't believe I forgot to mention Frey Pie in my comment. I read that entire chapter with my mouth agape, thinking "oh my god oh my god oh my god HE DID NOT this is amazing and gross oh my god oh my god oh my god."

      • woot says:

        Frey pie – as well as Wyman's declaration that "The North remembers" – took that fat man to a whole new level of badass. He did, of course, top that by saying this: "So young. Though mayhaps this was a blessing. Had he lived, he would have grown up to be a Frey."

        Damn, Wyman.

    • woot says:

      > I have no problem with Asha enjoying rape role play, especially given that she comes from a (fucked up) culture that really glorifies in rape and violence, but the way it is written is JUST FUCKING GROSS

      Actually, rape fantasies are pretty common everywhere in the world. I've dated at least two girls who loved them. I feel awful doing it, but I do have to admit that, when it gets intense, it can be pretty goddamn hot.

      • woot says:

        (Err, not that I condone rape or anything.)

      • calimie says:

        The problem I had with that roleplay was that there was no indication to the reader of what was actually happening. We only know that the Ironmen are cruel and brutal so the reader can't know anything else. I found it awful: Asha knew what was happening but we didn't; it was like a joke GRRM did. I could picture him laughing "Ha, ha, tricked you!"

        As for RL, as long as it's consensual, ykinmk.

    • Doodle says:

      I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOUR THEORY

  12. roguebelle says:

    My full thoughts about this book are on my own review blog, but the short version is this: I was disappointed. There were quite a few moments that genuinely excited me. But there were a lot of things that frustrated me, that needed editing, or that should’ve been held off till the next book. So much of this book felt like Martin trying to justify his decision first to write the five years he initially intended to skip over, or his decision to split the story between AFFC and ADWD. There was so much filler, and so many storylines that felt unnecessary, extraneous, and, well, shoddily thought out. I sort of get the feeling that his editors, so happy to have him finally declare it finished, didn’t actually spend much time editing before sending it to print. And that is not a good feeling to leave a book with. :/

  13. Patrick721 says:

    Mark, in honor of this review, I present you with this rap song about the Greyjoys. With MC Liam (Neeson) in a guest role.
    [youtube GDAY8ZoUnVs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDAY8ZoUnVs youtube]

  14. Sarah says:

    PERFECT TIMING

    Somehow the Tom Waits album I was listening to matched perfectly to your review. Then when you started talking about the dragon scene being really breathtaking and beautiful a really slow beautiful song came on and I cried because Tom Waits makes me cried and now I'm slightly embarrassed but I'm sending this anyway.

  15. calimie says:

    Am I alone in liking Kevan Lannister? Besides his awfulness to Cersei, I found him pretty good. One of his sons was murdered and other is a religious extremist now. At the end, he was actually fixing the kingdom but then Varis and his plot arrived. I was so sad!
    I am glad Maester Pycelle died, though. I hope Ramsay and his father could be jump in a fire the next book, with the Freys and the male Greyjoys. Awful people the lot of them (except Theon, it's more than enough now, poor thing).

    Had you told me back at GoT that Jamie was *not* the most horrible person ever and I wouldn't have believed you. And now here we are.

    (yay, I caught up and I can participate now! :D)

    • @RaudhrGarm says:

      You are not alone.

      While there is sexism against Cersei, she is a genuinely useless ruler. She messes up everything, and I think I already talked about this in the AFFC comments. My main re-iteration: She doesn't love her children, she just wants to keep them safe for as long as possible due to the prophecy she heard. "Live to see them crowned and die" (paraphrased).

      Also, why you no write about Arya?

      • calimie says:

        That's a good point, but I'm not so sure. It's clear the prophecy is always in her mind, particularly after Joffrey's death, but I do think she actually loves them.

        I have to reread these books. I was about to write how mad she was after Tyrion bethroted Myrcella to Dorne but I can't remember how it was that she finally accepted it.

        And yes, Arya! It's tragic that child is become an assasin but I think she'll be back to herself. She has Nymeria and Needle to remind her of home. I did love her chapters, how to shade skins (literally!), the kind man, the waif… Besides, I think it's pretty good that euthanasia is easy there, even though suicides are probably off the charts too.

  16. Claire says:

    Dany's arc was weirdly paced, I felt–the ideas behind it were good, but it was just too much of the same thing over and over. Plus, the whole Teenage Girl Squad (I HAVE A CRUSH ON EVERY BOY) stuff wore out its welcome REAL fast. We get it. She is only a young girl, blah de blah. If she's going to have a crush on Daario, you could at least give him a personality beyond "mustache twirling."

    Theon was easily the best part of the book, in the worst possible way.

    Agree with you about Tyrion. I felt GRRM spent too much time thwarting expectations and not enough time crafting a satisfying arc. "Looks like he's going to meet Dany, right? Wouldn't that make sense? NOPE! I defy you!"

    • roguebelle says:

      Honestly, my favourite teenage girl moments were not Dany's, but Irri and Jhiqui's.

      "You are too skinny for him. You are almost a boy. Rakharo does not bed with boys. This is known." "It is known that you are almost a cow. Rakharo does not bed with cows."

      NGL, that gave me a laugh I desperately needed by that point in the book, especially since I now picture super-gorgeous tv!Rakharo. ;) That and "You are the blood of the dragon. You can make a hat." might have been my favourite quotes in the entire book.

      • Claire says:

        Honestly, if she had ever TALKED about Daario with someone, instead of just thinking things and sighing a lot, I might not have been as irritated. My main irritation was that the way it was written felt like a cliche–of course Dany has a crush, she's a giiiirl. There was no life to it.

        And yeah, I am a big fan of Irri and Jhiqui's Greek chorus/comedy routine.

        • roguebelle says:

          I wish GRRM would let her use Irri and Jhiqui for that. I mean, they're /there/, they could be more than just people who carry her stuff. And I sort of hope, since that dynamic has been set up a little more in the tv show with Doreah, that HBO will keep her alive rather than killing her off in the Red Wastes, so that she can continue to be Dany's sounding board/emotional mentor. Especially for the tv format, it would be nice if Dany had someone to *talk to* — because sighing and introspection is even worse on the screen than on the page.

  17. la.donna.pietra says:

    JESUS IT IS THE GREATEST SCENE OF ALL SCENES EVER. I was blown away by Dany riding Drogon out of the fighting pits. It was a long time coming, and the chaotic nature of it made the moment so much more exciting.

    A NYMag commenter referred to this scene as the "Heavy Metal cover moment," and I agree completely. Freakin' awesome.

  18. feminerdist says:

    See I'm conflicted about this book. I've been following Dany's story for FIVE books now and all of a sudden Baby Targaryen just shows up out of goddamn nowhere to make a claim on the throne? WHAT?! It's too late to throw that reveal in! Not at this point!

    I will only accept this if Wba vf fgvyy nyvir, naq uvz naq Nrtba jvyy wbva Qnal gb orpbzr gur guerr urnqrq qentba. Orpnhfr bs gur E+Y=W gurbel.

  19. Ryan Lohner says:

    Stannis is just hilarious at this point. He's still fighting the War of Five Kings, and absolutely no one else cares anymore.

    Quentyn's actually kind of a male counterpart to Sansa, convinced the world is like the heroic stories he grew up hearing, and he's one of those heroes. And unfortunately, unlike her, he doesn't get to survive his education otherwise.

  20. Jorenko says:

    Mark, do you plan to read The Hedge Knight and its sequels? They are novellas set in Westeros long before Robert's Rebellion. They're pretty great and help fill in the history of the world quite a bit!

  21. @RaudhrGarm says:

    Got over your dislike for epilogues then?

  22. Woot says:

    Hahaha. So, what did you catch?

    Did you know that:
    - Abel is Mance Rayder?
    - Wyman Manderley killed Freys and then served them as Frey pie? He even drunkenly jokes about the Rat Cook.
    - Bran sees Old Nan kissing Duncan the Tall when they were young?
    - In Melisandre's visions, a man becomes a wolf becomes a man? And Jon never did feel that fourth stab.
    - Rickon is on Skaagos?
    - Jon Snow is probably Rhaegar's son with Lyanna?
    - Seeing Eddard was shocking, wasn't it?
    - There's a huge chance Aegon Targaryen is a fake? (Recall the visions Dany sees in the House of the Undying. Do you remember the "Mummer's Dragon"?)

    • woot says:

      Oh, continued.

      - Arya is being trained to be a Faceless Man?
      - Arya figures out who's hitting her by warging into a cat?
      - Tyrion kills Nurse by feeding him the poison mushrooms he found at Ilyrio's house?
      - Jon Connigton is probably gay? (The poor man.)
      - Dany's womb may tick again? The prophecy has been fulfilled, after all. The Dothraki sea is drying, etc.
      - Ser Robert Strong is a Frankenstein's monster of Qyburn's many victims?
      - 294 named characters have died in the series so far?
      - Hodor eats a Night's Watch member?
      - Bran is becoming a god?

  23. doesntsparkle says:

    I just love Penny to bits, she so sweet, naive and trusting. Please let her survive this series intact. She was the perfect foil for Tyrion's broken cynic. I know he's a lot of people's favorite character, but I wasn't as fond of him. As far as I'm concerned, he's just like Cersei (this might be why these two hate each other). One of the things that I did like and respect about Tyrion's character was that he treated the women he slept with well, and I was disappointed to see that change.

    This book cemented my love of the North, except the Boltons, fuck them). This winter when I'm freezing my nethers off, I'll suck it up and pretend that I'm a Manderly or a Mormont. It was really interesting to read Lady Dustin's take on the Starks. I just assumed that Brandon was just as noble as Ned. My mistake.

    Now we wait for the next two books, I don't have any grand theory about how the books will tie the story together, but I'm pretty sure that Gur Jnyy jvyy pbzr qbja naq Wba nva'g qrnq.

    • But of course he treats the women he sleeps with like shit now, after Shae. *heart breaks*

    • Jen says:

      The only woman Tyrion had sex with in the book was the slave girl in the brothel, who he doesn't treat very well and he ends up feeling ashamed of himself afterwards. Some people seem to think he had sex with Illyrio's slave but I didn't get that impression. He threatens her and tells her to wait for him after dinner, but thinks that he doesn't actually want her, and then tells Illyrio at dinner that he doesn't want her. In fact, for all his crude comments, he didn't even seem like he was all that interested in sex anymore. He fantasizes about Lemore but won't even undress in front of her. I get the feeling that love and even sex are now ruined for him at this point.

  24. redletter_ says:

    I still haven't read it D:

    <img src="http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_luvtnq0mpb1r00bgi.gif&quot; />

    I'm still #6 in the reserve line at the library BAWWWWWW.

    What's worse is people haven't been cancelling their reserves if they don't want it anymore, so the book just sits at the library for 10 days WHEN I COULD BE READING IT INSTEEEEEEEEAD.

    Believe me, lots of squinting and fast scrolling was utilised to get me to the comment box without reading any of the above spoilerishness.

  25. Mitch says:

    Lol at Varys doing what's best for the realm. The realm was finally beginning to come together after years of strife, and he plunges it into chaos again.

    And Brianne was given a choice between the noose and the sword, so obviously the single word she said to get out of the noose was "sword". Thought that was obvious.

    • @RaudhrGarm says:

      Hmmm…a realm ruled by Lannisters or a realm ruled by Targaryens when the Long Winter is coming, along with a possible Other invasion (I hope we get an Other perspective before the end).

      I think that with this in mind, the fiery dragon monarchy is better than the monarchy that's pissed off a bank in the city of the Faceless Men.

  26. You Are Not Alone says:

    Whatever happened to the 'design covers for Mark Reads Harry Potter competition'?

  27. Morgan says:

    Hi Mark, I just wanted to say that I've been creepily lurking since the Harry Potter days and absolutely love your blogs. It's a complete joy to relive so many favorite fandoms through fresh eyes and I love the critical insight you bring to them.

    Since you've gotten far enough in BSG and finished ASoIaF, I wanted to share a fanvid my sister made with BSG's "All Along the Watchtower." Who doesn't love good fandom mashups? (She adores your blogs too.) :)

    [youtube UayMFBba8Ws http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UayMFBba8Ws youtube]

  28. ninja_bat says:

    Mark, you're super-sweet, really, when it comes to these characters. :)

    It might just be my general paranoia speaking, but I don't trust Varys as far as I could throw him. Even if Young Griff is who they claim he is, even if Varys really saved him back then – and who died in his stead? Would be nice to know – I don't believe that his motives were "just" or "good," or concerned with the welfare of the realm.

    Even if what he claims is right, he helped facilitate a civil war and wants to throw the realm into further unrest by separating Cersei even more from people who could soften her or balance her worse tendencies. That's not having its welfare in mind. Cutting children's tongues out so that they can't divulge your secrets and sending them crawling around in tunnels where they could be hurt or even die is not wanting what's best for them. Varys is really a fascinating character, but I strongly doubt that he's a hero.

  29. K-mon says:

    Did you catch the Manderly awesomeness at the Bolton (*vomit*) wedding? When he asks for the Rat Cook song? I think the consensus is that the pies he brought to the wedding were of the Frey variety. I know that should be gross, but I mainly just want to cackle in utter glee.

  30. Kibblie says:

    So I'm really interested in hearing Mark's views on Jon Snow's parentage. I don't think he's really touched on it in any of his reviews…

  31. Jon says:

    Um…I'm sorry, but, your opinion of Cersei is kind of…embarrassing. Its ok to say that right? This isn't one of THOSE sites right? Anyway, Cersei is NOT being punished due to sexism. How can you still say this? Protect her children all she wants, it does not wash away the facts. She imprisoned Ned, murdered Robert, whelped three bastards and put them on a throne they did not deserve (Joffrey is HER fault), helped make Tyrion's life a living hell and played a major part in his trial, then all the horrible things she does as regent, sending Lollys Stokeworth's sister to Qyburn to be TORTURED AND EXPERIMENTED ON FOR NO REASON, planning to kill Arianne's little brother, antagonizing the Tyrell's for no reason but paranoia and ruining the realm in the process. If there's one consistent thing her chapters have shown, its that she's a completely terrible, selfish and unsympathetic person who is also an awful ruler who makes beyond stupid choices and mocks everyone around her. I think her walk of shame was too light. She should have gotten the Reek treatment. It strikes me as odd that you could not forgive Theon for burning Winterfell when it pales to the death and destruction Cersei has caused, probably because she's a WOMAN? Aren't you being a little sexist now?

    • calimie says:

      Whelp?
      Are you sure that's the word you want to use?
      Okay…

    • leighzzz31 says:

      Right, this comment, just…I disagree so SO much with everything said here. And what one earth do you mean by "one of THOSE sites"?

      First of all, Cersei is not being punished due to sexism. Cersei's punishment is painted with a very sexist brush. She's done many horrible things, true, and yes, she does deserve to be punished for some of them, but in this case it's very clear the High Septon and septas are punishing her this way because she is a woman. She's not being punished for the awful things you've listed that she's apparently done. She is being accused of adultery and fornication, both of which Robert (to name only one person though there are definitely more examples of that) was guilty of but never punished for. The difference being she is a woman in what is most definitely a man's world. I sincerely doubt that form of punishment is reserved for a man and even if it is, you can't deny it's inifinitely more damaging for a woman. I mean, just read some of the things they call her. She is debased to being a 'w hore' because she has sex and she enjoys it, which is apparently a crime for a woman in Westeros.

      And, yes, OK, she is accused of murder and conspiring to murder too, but so was Tyrion (multiple times) and both times he was granted trial by combat, no walk of shame included.

      Aren't you being a little sexist now?

      I have no idea why you're accusing Mark of sexism.

    • @RaudhrGarm says:

      The Theon/Cersei comparison is pretty good actually. Both strive for father's approval, both want to reign, both have no qualms killing children and so forth.

      Yes, she was punished for having affairs while Robert wasn't, but the difference there aside from gender is that Robert was full on king that killed the Dragon in combat while Cersei is regent who is pissing off more and more people. The only reason that the High Septon, etc went after her AT LONG LAST was because she targeted Margaery. Yes, she's a woman, but she's also a cruel character. If she had not antagonised the Tyrells, we would have had to wait for the return of Daenerys to see some truly unbiased justice being dealt her. Odds are, she doesn't love her children as people. Despite POVs from her, I can't remember any proper thoughts from her concerning her children aside from worrying that Margaery was gaining too much influence over Tommen. Her son, who might have been abused by Joffrey, who had no friends, was wearing the burden of a crown he does not rightfully own (in a divided kingdom with winter coming), was being treated kindly, and the first thing Cersei does is try to remove this "threat".

      Tyrells are Lannisters with thorns, but the rose is much more pleasant than the rose more often than the lion.

      • Dina says:

        Generally, though… this comparison fails because Theon is offered a chance to redeem himself and DECIDES to accept it. Cersei is offered countless times where she can back off, make the right decision, recant, repent, whatever, and NEVER EVER does. She absolutely uses the excuse that she's doing it all to protect her children, but that's clearly not the case. All the terrible, abominable things she does derive from her own paranoid, insecure, vicious, haughty ego. Period.

        Cersei. No character development for you!

        She's a completely nonredeemable character. She feels NO remorse. Ever. Personally, I can feel no sympathy for a character who doesn't ever feel true regret for any of her actions. And I don't think we're really even meant to feel sympathy for her. Okay, this always *might* change with GRRM's future books, because no one can predict that, but for now. Not. She's a heartless bitch. Even in her backstory, she never seemed to possess any sympathetic qualities.

        I agonized through every word in every one of her chapters, wishing I could skip them (but of course, I couldn't) :@

  32. pica_scribit says:

    I despise the misogynistic invective that gets hurled at Cersei, but I still just can't get behind liking her as a character. People can say, "but she loves her children" until the cows come home. If she does, she seems to love them as *possessions* and not as *people*. I don't read any affection for their foibles and personalities in her love of them, only a fierce possessiveness about their existence (aside from a little of what she expressed about Joffrey, who was a fucking monster in training, by the way). Maybe it's because I'm not a parent, and I just can't grasp this, but if GRRM actually expects us to buy Cersei's love of her kids, he needs to do more showing and less telling.

    But yeah. This book. I need to know what happens next. Was Dany pregnant after all? Is Jon dead? Will Theon redeem himself? And can we have more than one fucking chapter to resolve some of the Brienne/Jaime thing?

    Also, I fucking love Penny. It's so nice to see Tyrion have an actual friend, as well as a woman in his life who he respects as something other than a sexual/romantic object.

    So, Mark, are you going to read the Dunk and Egg short stories that take place ~90 years before Game of Thrones? I really enjoyed them. It's fun meeting everyone's grandparents.

    • Barbara says:

      I really agree with what you said about Cersei's 'love' for her children. Tyrion seems to have more affection for his younger neice and nephew than their mother does. I never doubted Ned or Catelyn's love for their children, it was obvious to the reader, even if the character's themselves couldn't always see it at first.

      I think Dany was pregnant, I don't know if it means prophesy is fulfilled though. I find myself wishing I had written it down when I first read it. I still assume that Dany is the young queen that is supposed to supplant Cersei from her vision, not Margarey.

  33. Cass says:

    Seriously, when has a wedding proven to be a good thing in this series?

    Dany's first one. She would never have become the strong young woman she is without it. :)

    • calimie says:

      That's true until you realize she was sold by her brother to buy himself an army.

      You know it's bad when *that* is a good wedding compared to the rest.

  34. @RaudhrGarm says:

    [youtube t0xu7P-zzsk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0xu7P-zzsk youtube]
    Found this recently. It is amazing.

  35. daisy says:

    Glad to see you did these books! Lets talk about aDwD…

    First, not all of us HATE Cersei. I dislike her character because I think you are supposed to. Also, I don't personally think her story is about how power corrupts, I think its about how corrupted people abuse power. I think Cersei is crazy… in a needs a straight jacket kind of way. The same kind of crazy that the Mad King was. She walked into that castle already unhinged, just better able to hide it. If you put an unstable personality in that situation they are not only unpredictable, but eventually the crazy starts to show O.O

    Jon Snow,
    you know he isn't dead right? The stabbing had to happen because he is Azor Ahai reborn, the prince that was promised that Melisandre has been claiming Stannis is. he is the prince that will protect them from the Others (with Dany's help naturally). now if you are asking yourself why he is a "prince" well then you just fell on the pet theory of all Jon Snow lovers out there. His mum is Lyanna Stark and his dad is Rhaegar. He is Dany's nephew and eventually the two will meet (it is a Song of Ice (Jon Snow) and Fire (Dany) after all) and get married and have babies and rule the world after they defeat the Others and all that happy crap. Problem being is the Dragon has 3 heads, so there has to be one more right? Well, problem solved int his book. There is a third Targaryen alive, to everyone's surprise :)

    Dany,

    I liked her more in this book than any other, even though I questioned her decisions at times. Nothing mroe to say really, till she gets her ass moving

    Tyrion,
    :( . Thats all I have to say. He wasted the best character of the series on a pointless story line and it makes me sad.

    Jaime and Brianne, Holy cow! They barely made it into the book and it was the most exciting part!

    Theon, I am right there with ya. Never thought I could feel pity for him and yet my heart broke for him this whole book.

    Bran, here is where you and I differ. I think Bran is filler. I dislike his story arc entirely and would be ok if he just froze to death in the woods. The only important part of his story is that they mysterious guy leading him on his journey is his uncle Benjen, who is obviously also dead. I am very curious as to how he managed to keep his mind and personality after being changed to a wight. We need to hear more of him.

    Arya, I think her story is CRA ZY! I look forward to seeing her meet up with Tyrion and Dany eventually. I even think it'll be her that finds out the secret of Jon's parentage. No matter what she does I only hope for the best for her

    • calimie says:

      If Jon is really Azor Ahai reborn, Selyse's face when Melissandre bolts with him is going to be amazing. I want that theory to be right just for that.

  36. @AnFaolain says:

    Rickon was on the Toy Show! <3

    At least we know that he's safe.

  37. Quandary says:

    I just finished ADWD. How will I survive until the next book comes out? D:

    Now to address a few of the points brought up…

    Cersei: I believe that she does get some quite sexist treatment. Yes, a lot of the men around her seem to think women are not fit to sit on a throne. That being said, woman or not, a person liker her -is not- fit to sit on a throne. Her decisions go from bad to worse, she has no grasp of alliances and the finer points of politics, and her rule seems to be all about enforcing her will and showing she can rule. Well, sadly, she can't rule without making a huge mess of it. She has no empathy for the smallfolk, or even the lords. And she doesn't truly love her children – she may have had some sort of love for Joffrey (and that turned out -so- well, right?), but she doesn't care about Tommen and Myrcella. She wants to see her heirs grow up and reign – but she never really thinks of their needs as children. Is Tommen scared and in need for reassurance? She'll serve him a "man up, this is not how a king behaves" talk, but will do little to comfort him. He wanted kittens? it was not Cersei to take care of that, either.
    She is treated roughly for the wrong reasons, at least partly, but I can't like her. :|

    Stannis: I really wonder what will become of him. I think the end is nigh, he has no hopes of winning this war, and he never was a likely candidate for the Iron Throne. Azor Ahai reborn? kid me not. I also wonder whether Melisandre has come to see that he is not really Azor Ahai. Has she known all along? Was she using him as an instrument to get to the Wall? Argh, book 6, I need you.

    Davos: I so want him to find Rickon, words just fail me.

    Wyman Manderly: I hope he doesn't die. Cooking up those Freys… ugh. However, since the Red Wedding, I've had just one feeling for the Freys (except those few that had no part in that butchery), and it was not compassion.

    Theon: *heart breaks* No man deserves that fate. Ramsay Snow/Bolton makes my skin crawl. For the record, so does his father, although at least Roose Bolton has brains, unlike Ramsay. (And what will Asha and Theon do, now that they are reunited?)

    Arya: I feel very uneasy about her story, fascinating as it is. She'll be about as vengeful as Stoneheart, only she'll also have the Perfect Assassin Training. (Psst, Arya, Gregor Clegane is dead, take him off your list.) I don't really believe she'll ever become "no one" – and her character would be rather pointless if she did, unless she'd end up killing foes/kin as part of a mission? (Not kin. Oh god, why did I even type that out.) (But… she's a warg!!!)

    Tyrion: So. Now what? Where will you go next, Imp? Chasing Dany across the Dothraki sea? or slaying Illyrio in Pentos with the Second Sons?

    Sansa: Sansa, where are you? What are you doing? I still can't trust Petyr Baelish, not a bit.

    Jaime: Jaime and Brienne. If she kills him/gets him killed, I will … I don't even know.

    Aegon: I feel there's something wrong about him. There are times when he reminds me of Viserys. Whatever Varys says, he doesn't really know what being humble means, does he?

    Victarion: No, you will not steal Dany's dragons. I forbid you to.

    Daenarys: For all her blunders, I do love her. She's very young, and does a lot of silly things, and she's got a pretty bad situation on her hands, but she does try to do the right thing. She does want her "children" to be happy, only that's not so simple… so yeah, flying off with Drogon is a welcome change. Weak as she is when she meets them, she can only bend her new khalasar to her will, right? I mean, she has a ~dragon~. (And what will become of the other two dragons?)

    • Quandary says:

      Jon: Oh no you didn't, GRRM. How WILL I survive until the next book comes out? Then again, he can't die. Yet. I think. He's way to crucial to the plot. I do expect -chaos- on the Wall, though. Will Melisandre heal him? She'd better. And… I really want him to meet Dany. Oh, how I do. (Just don't let her dragons melt the Wall.) Oh, by the way – I don't think he was attacked because of his decision to ride against the Boltons. That's something his sworn brothers would have… understood, perhaps. In my opinion, they tried to kill him because of the wildlings. This has been a long time coming – Bowen Marsh and many others have been against allowing the wildlings south of the Wall since the very beginning, and now his decision to go get the ones from Hardhome as well, in spite of their advice to let them die, must have been the last drop. Quote: "As they walked through the armory, Ghost sniffed at them, his tail upraised and bristling. My brothers." – and that was before he got the letter from Ramsay, but after he'd told them he'd go get the wildlings.

      Bran: Oops, nearly left him out. I feel his whole story gets weirder and weirder… so will he never meet his family again? That's -sad-. I… I don't really want him to become like the three-eyed crow, I guess. And I feel so sorry for the Reed children – they will die, won't they?

      Samwell. I so want to know what he's doing. -_-

    • I don't think Clegane is dead for some reason….

  38. roguebelle says:

    I have exactly two words about little Aegon: Perkin. Warbeck.

  39. calimie says:

    The only two Freys I'd save would be the one that travelled with Cate to see Renly and Edmund's wife. The rest of them seem to be redeemless.

  40. Tywin Lannister does awful things, but he's not vilified. – because he does shitty things that BENEFIT the realm/his family. He might be a bastard, but he's not totally self-centered. He thinks ahead and uses logic instead of jumping in and making rash decisions.

    Littlefinger is kind of atrocious, but doesn't draw the same vitriol Cersei does- probably mostly because one of the majors that he killed was Joffrey, who was practically satan incarnate, and the other was Lysa, who was a pain in the ass and kind of insane. I get the feeling Littlefinger only kills people if there's no other choice, but Cersei does it for fun/vindictiveness.

    Arya Stark kills people–sometimes for very little reason–but somehow she's a badass- because of all the HORRIBLE BILLSHIT she's had to go through, I think she gets a lot more of a pass. She's a child with a lot less experience in the world, and she's filled with rage. I think her actions are remarkably controlled comparedd to what some people in her situation would have done.

    Wyman Manderly yvxryl xvyyrq guerr zra naq freirq gurz hc sbe fhccre, naq guvf vf pryroengrq (lrf, ur jnf cebibxrq, ohg fgvyy, gung'f anfgl)- because that's pure genius, and the Freys are a pestilence on the earth

    Jamie Lannister threw a boy out a window, sired those bastards on Cersei, and and all kinds of other wickedness, and yet he is redeemed- HE REDEEMED HIMSELF, the readers didn't do it! He finally sees the consequences of the mistakes he's made, he is growing wiser and more empathetic to others, he's learning to listen rather than just reacting. Cersei has learned NONE of that.

  41. Barbara says:

    The ones that were loyal to Robb weren't at the red wedding, and I don't take any issue with them. I also don't have a problem with Edmure's wife. She really seems to love him, and didn't know what was planned.

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