(Index of previous ADwD posts here.)
I’m playing catch-up, so you get twice in one weekend! 😀
Chapter 43: Daenerys
So, Dany and Daario are now doing a whole Romeo and Juliet thing – wishing the dawn away so that they can have rampant bunny-sex and forget about the fact that Danerys has promised to marry Hizdahr. You can imagine how much I enjoyed these scenes. To give him his credit, though, Daario genuinely seems to be attracted to Daenerys as a strong woman. He doesn’t like this marriage, not only because it takes her away from him, but because he knows the Meereenese are chipping away at her power base, and Hizdahr is likely to steal it out from under her the moment they are married.
Not that I’m now sold on him. I still have no clue what was supposed to be attractive about him in the first place, and up until this point he really didn’t seem to have that many admirable qualities. All in all, it doesn’t seem to me that Dany is presented as loving him because he respects her power. To be honest, that came as a bit of a surprise. Dany’s interest has so far been expressed as a wish to be dominated by him. But whatevs.
The fun part of this chapter is that Quentyn has finally got himself an audience with Dany, and reveals his plan. Bless his little Dornish socks. But his offer comes too late. She is to be married to Hizdahr for the sake of peace within her city and without. Dany rejects his offer, she has to, but she has the decency to respect the distance he has traveled to reach her, and commands that others treat him with the honour he deserves. Must make for a nice change after the road.
And so Dany marries Hizdahr. The chapter ends with them both bound ‘wrist and ankle with chains of gold’. The metaphor for bondage is a little obvious, but if you squint a little there’s a nice echo back to Tyrion strangling Tysha with the Hand’s chain of gold. There’s also a nice moment where Dany declares she will ride to her wedding on a horse, but her maids regretfully point out that she cannot ride in a tokar. A nice demonstration of the ways that fashions have so often been used to stunt women’s ability to act freely, as well as a symbol of how this marriage is likely to restrict Dany, and prevent her from doing the things she wants to do. The inability to ride a horse is a nice symbol, considering her first power was as khaleesi of the Dothraki, a horse people.
Of course, I’m frustrated that Dany can’t marry Quentyn, but he’s not ready for her yet – he’s still a bit soft around the edges, and Dany wasn’t in a position to change her mind about marrying Hizdahr at that stage. Not without unleashing anarchy. Guess I just have to wait for Hizdahr to get killed off!
Chapter 44: Jon
Queen Selyse arrives at Castle Black, and is a right pain to everyone. This is Stannis’s queen, and she’s rather aware of her position, sadly without the savvy to do much sensible with it. She also has various irritating hangers-on, such as the delightful Ser Axell Florent, who fancies himself as a husband for Val. Plus one daughter, Princess Shireen… who has greyscale. Surely not a good thing for a potential monarch to have, what with the early death and madness we were hearing about being associated with this disease earlier in the book.
More interestingly, Selyse brings with her a banker from Bravos – Tycho. Tycho is come to chase after the debts of the iron throne, as Cersei has refused to pay them, and as far as the banker is concerned the debts are owed by the thrown, and whoever sits on it. If Stannis is prepared to pay those debts, he could have a powerful ally/source of coin. But it would be taking on an awful lot. But for Jon, what’s more important is what Tycho could mean for the wall. He wants money for food, and for ships to rescue the foolish wildlings who have headed up to Hardholme to die. They haggle under the watchful eye of Mormont’s raven, finally settling on an agreement that pleases neither, but probably means they both got something.
Incidentally, I’ve been developing a theory about Mormont’s bird. After all the wargs in this book, and with the story earlier about how people used to use ravens because they could possess them to send messages by having the ravens speak it… well. All I’m saying is that it’s not beyond the realms of plausibility that Mormont’s raven carries something of Mormont’s spirit, and may be guiding Jon, somewhat, from the grave. Not that I expect this theory to be confirmed in any way, but it fits, for me.
The big surprise comes at the end of the chapter – a grey girl on a dying horse. Jon was expecting Arya, I was expecting Jeyne (although it puzzled me that she would arrive so soon), we’re both wrong. It’s some girl we’ve never heard of, before. Woman, really. Alys Karstark – rightful heir to Karhold, if her brother dies, on the run from a forced marriage. She reveals that Arnold Karstark declared for Stannis in the hopes of provoking the Lannisters to kill her brother, though he plans to betray Stannis in the end. Before that happens, they hope to force her into a marriage to a man who will almost certainly kil her off once she’s produced a child, just so that they can lay claim to her birthright.
It’s all a bit of a mess, really, but the point is that she has come to John for protection, and she is neither Arya, nor Jeyne. Which leave me wondering… Jeyne’s escape is somewhat less assured than it previously seemed.