(Index to previous A Dance with Dragons posts, here.)
Two posts, so close together, what’s going on? What’s going on is that this book got gripping and I’m trying to catch my reviewing up with my reading. That, and if I kept the same pace I was keeping I’d be doing this through until Christmas. Onwards!
Chapter 29: Davos
Things are actually happening for Davos, too! He spends a while in an unusually pleasant (i.e. not horrible) dungeon being looked after by a man who refers to him as ‘dead man’ and likes to show him his weapons (fortunately, not in that way). He writes some sad little letters to his family and mourns that he could not have been a better husband and father. Finally, Lord Wyman Manderly sends for him…but not to kill him. For, you see, it has been a ruse! The jailor kept calling him a dead man because, as far as everyone else is concerned, he is dead. They killed some criminal and stuck his head and hands on poles, complete with an onion stuck in the mouth. Nice.
It turns out Wyman isn’t as thick as he was pretending (and, you know, I think we all had our suspicions, there). By fake-killing Davos, Wyman has managed to get his son back. Now Wyman wants to strike a bargain. He’s murderously mad at the Freys, but he’s a Northman at heart. He’ll give Stannis his allegiance on one condition: that Davos smuggles one of Ned Stark’s sons to safety. You see, Theon’s squire escaped from the slaughter at Winterfell, and he saw the two boys escape. One to the north, and one to the south. I assume the southerly one is Rickon, I honestly don’t remember this part. Anyway, that’s Lord Wyman’s price. But apparently Rickon has been taken somewhere so terrifying that they eat human flesh. I have no idea what this means. I know they do that in Astapor, but it doesn’t seem likely that Rickon is gone there.
Anyway, this was exciting and conspiratorial. Davos’s part is actually coming into play! Plus, some people know that Theon, turncloak though he may be, did not kill the Stark boys. Which is nice. I feel so sorry for Theon, now. I doubt that being known will help him, but still. And even if people are taken in by Fake!Arya, people know that Rickon lives and will accept him in precedence over her. I may not like the whole Boys First thing, but the thought of Ramsay in charge of Winterfell of stomach-churning.
A nice little chapter, full of intrigue.
Chapter 30: Daenerys
Things still suck in Meereen. Hizdahr is doing surprisingly well at keeping the peace, but they’re hemmed in on all sides and blockaded from the sea. It’s also suggested that the reason Hizdahr is doing so well is because he is the Harpy – the head of the Sons of the Harpy who have been killing all her freedmen. Daenerys doesn’t believe this, and, for what it’s worth, neither do I, but I’m willing to admit I may get egg on my face about that.
Then, just as things are looking sucky, a man arrives in the city from Astapor, muttering ‘She is burning’ – i.e. Astapor is on fire. He then collapses and dies. Not only has civil war utterly taken over the city, but it seems to have the flux. This is confirmed when more refugees arrive, and Daenerys realises that soon all the populace of Astapor will be fleeing this way, full of plague. Plus, they now know the Yunkai’i have hired mercenaries and are coming. She needs to take action, and soon. Some say she should kill all the refugees, some say she should use her dragons to attack the Yunkai’i, some that she should hole up in the city and simply let no one in. Ultimately, though, she knows she cannot fight two wars and a plague all at once. She feels guilt for the fate of Astapor, and cannot kill the refugees, but she orders a camp to be set up to contain them. She is not yet prepared to use her dragons (WTF are you going to use them for, Daenerys? If they’re going to eat people you might as well keep them happy and send them to eat the enemy), but knows she needs the whole city behind her. Hizdahr’s done pretty well at keeping the peace, she decides it’s time to marry…
Again, a nice little chapter. Tense and quickly paced. Things are getting bad in Meereen, and I feel that Daenerys needs to bring it out of the bag soon. Marrying is probably the right move, under the circumstances, but it’s worrying for the long view. How is she going to marry Quentyn? Maybe Hizdahr will get killed in the fighting, having bought her peace and stability in Meereen so that she can at least move on. Even so, what will Quentyn think if he arrives, finally in Meereen and she’s already married? What will Young Griff think, if he hears? Never bank on winning the affections of a woman you’ve never met if you’re depending on it to win a war you’ve already started.
Everything’s hanging in the balance, and that’s just where it needed to be to keep me well and truly hooked. Hussar!