Game of Thrones pages ~400-500.

Hey, look at that, the next section starts at page 501 of my copy. Cool.

Anywho, I'm over the hump so to speak and now that we're past the midpoint of the book things seem to be ramping up. The wheels are in motion. The eagle has taken off. The oven has been preheated and the bun ensconced firmly within. And now it looks like payoff will begin. Oh what a naïve fool I must be if I expect that – there are still four more books, plus however many more Martin plans to write to finish the series. Payoff's a myth.

But that doesn't mean there isn't fun to be had. To the chapters!

Bran: Bran goes riding, gets attacked. Greyjoy's interesting – hard to know what to make of him exactly, but he seems to pull through on defending Bran here. Getting my attention more is the fact that the attackers are deserters from the Night's Watch, as is the first failed assassin. I smell a conspiracy.

Tyrion: Before I get too far into this, I'm just going to gush about the prison design here. I mean, in reality I wouldn't ever want to see anything like this. But this is great in fiction. It's inventive, which is always a plus to me. I mean, as I'm visualizing, it seems to be a very panoptic setup. You only need one guard, really, since there ought to be a position from which to see every cell. Nowhere to hide in the cells either. The fact that the cells are open in back and most of the prisoners wind up "escaping" seems like something that could very well be taken, if we get a look at the ways other areas in Westeros deal with prisoners, as a critique of modern prison practices based on the psychological damage they do. Just spinning some thoughts here.

Anyway, Lysa and her son are batcrap nuts. "I want to see him fly." Maybe at some point the kid will get to experience flying for himself – probably at the direction of Tyrion. And ah, duels for justice. Might makes right and all. And no surprise that Tyrion's new buddy-ish guy stands for him.

Eddard: He's alive! But he's not really interesting here. What is interesting is that Cersei seems to be getting bolder in her disdain for her husband. I will say, however, that she is a bit right – if she were king, she'd actually do things. Might not agree with the things she'd do, but at least she would do. Robert, not so much with the doing. Still going to be the Hand.

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Catelyn: This woman has good sense. And nobody listens to her. And the fight, unsurprisingly, goes Tyrion's way. No way he was getting taken out this early. And he's not one to let revenge not happen, so we'll have to see what his plan is.

Jon: Promotions. And trying to get Sam a promotion as well. Not too much to say here, really. Or is there?

Tyrion: We learn a bit here. First of all, the plan is definitely to mount an assault on the Eyrie. And to use the locals around the Vale to do so. I'm surprised nobody has tried this before. But then again, as much as Lysa boasts about how impregnable her fortress is, it was bound to come down soon. By the end of this particular book? Perhaps. In character building news, we learn that while Tyrion doesn't bet against family, it doesn't seem like he has much reason to be loyal to them either, given the story he tells about his "marriage." You just gotta feel for the little dude.

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Eddard: And so it begins – the Lannisters have fired some proverbial shots to kick off this war. I like the way Martin writes the villagers' speech. It's not misspelled, which always carries an air of elitism over the people into whose mouths you're putting the misspelled words, but instead he dips into colloquialism, clipping some of the speech, and even employing "incorrect" grammar which more accurately reflects the sound of the speech. I like that. Some good justice dispensing here.

Sansa: I'm beginning to pity her more than I dislike her. She's seizing onto the betrothal to Joffrey because it's the only way she seems to have of gaining any sort of status, power, and autonomy. And then she tells Arya she should have been killed instead of Lady, and I start feeling less pity again. And then we get this line:

"Father, I only just remembered, I can't go away, I'm to marry Prince Joffrey." She tried to smile bravely for him.

That right there brings me back to pity. Somewhere in there, she recognizes Joffrey for what he is, and she doesn't like it. The rest seems to be bluster. But probably not the best idea, Ned. Send your kids away and they'll be safer, but you also send away the one who's smart enough to find plot.

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Eddard: I'll admit, I completely dropped the ball on this one. I really didn't put the clues together to figure out the Lannister secret before Ned confronted Cersei about it. Ned, being the magnanimous idiot he is, offers her and hers an out. If they take it things could actually be even more disastrous for Ned than if they don't, though.

Daenerys: We get a little of Dany, and it's a good bit. There's worry about her status as she gets older, but she doesn't seem the sort to let herself get pushed out of relevance (also she's kind of completely being built as someone to be around until the endgame). Her brother, on the other hand… Dany gave the kill order by translating for the Khal. At some point, remind me and I'll write a bit at length about Dany, translation, and political power. There's a lot to unpack in there, including some similarities to historical translators like La Malinche. So good riddance, Viserys; your death came from the lips of your sister. You got your crown after all.

Things of importance:

* Tyrion has revenge on his mind. I say good riddance to Lysa and her kid, but I worry Catelyn won't survive it.

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* With Viserys gone, Dany will have more room to make her own plans. What might those be?

* The Stark girls being on the move to Winterfell might come back to bite Ned. Maybe this is where Neymeria comes back into the picture, though? And just what is the importance of the direwolves and their corresponding humans – could Lady's death mean something different for Sansa than for her siblings?

Predictions pulled out of my ass:

* Given that I managed not to predict what Jon Arryn had learned, my ass is clearly not the best or most reliable source of predictions. That said, I never expected it to be, so I do have one prediction to add. Cersei won't be taking Ned's offer, and neither Ned nor Robert is long for this book.