Let's Read A Song of Ice and Fire part XIX

A Storm of Swords part three! ~200-~300!

I knew we would still have at least one more viewpoint character to get to, so I've been avoiding making any kind of big storyline predictions for the course of this book. Now that we have what is probably all of them (we may get Theon again, but we'll see – I'm not optimistic of seeing his viewpoint just yet), I'm going to finally be able to get my head around the potential arcs this book might take. Getting Sam's viewpoint here helps make that possible.

Jon: A couple points in this chapter. We start off with Jon and Tormund, and seeing the giants. The description of the giants is not dissimilar to the giants in Harry Potter, especially the teeth and hairiness. Tormund tells some good stories, the truth of which are probably just the littlest bit exaggerated. What's interesting is how Jon is doing a very, very bad job of attempting to blend in with the wildings, as Tormund notes with Ygritte.

Jon's interpretation of this conversation is interesting, to say the least. He's Ned's son in this respect. No laws, no honor, no decency. While the wildings probably do rape quite a lot, Jon's attitude here feels similar to an attitude that all sex without marriage is rape. He also conveniently seems either oblivious to or unwilling to recognize how much rape goes on south of the wall. Jon will have things to learn from the wildings, particularly about honor and that while the wildings don't seem to value honor the way people south of the Wall do that means they also aren't hypocrites.

Jon's failure to be convincing is not terribly surprising – Ghost has all the subtlety of the pair, apparently. Mance absolutely does not trust Jon. Jon's unwillingness to speak and to at least look like he's trying was the big issue. Ygritte's willing to help, though.

Sansa: A short chapter for Sansa. She's getting a new dress, but what we really see is a sort of marked difference in her character. In Margaery's cousins she recognizes herself, and she feels that she has evolved. They are silly little girls to her, while she is a woman grown. They know nothing. But she knows nothing as well. She doesn't think miltidimensionally enough yet to have multiple plans in motion. She keeps telling Ser Dontos she's saved by the Tyrells. Always have multiple escape avenues, girl.

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Arya: The King's men are loyal only to the memory of Robert and the smallfolk. I knew it wasn't going to be so helpful to her, and we've learned that Lord Beric is their leader. I wonder if Selmy's part of their group too. We also get a good bit of info on what was supposed to happen to Ned – he was supposed to be killed (less likely captured) by the Mountain, but Jaime got to him in King's Landing first and botched that up by not knowing the plan. Jaime's freedom is worrisome to the king's men and the smallfolk. I'm beginning to see some possibilities that I'll elaborate on later. She's not escaping any time soon. Not without her wolf first.

Also, Hot Pie has stayed behind. I'll miss the weird little guy. We might see him again, though.

Samwell: The chapter is primarily about filling us in on what happened between the prologue and now, giving Sam's memories of the attack. The real focus of the chapter, though, is Sam beginning to overcome his self-doubt and belief that he's utterly craven. He so craven he killed a white walker, as Grenn points out.

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Tyrion: There's a lot going on here. Littlefinger's planning to win the Vale by marriage – and he stands the best chance of doing it, especially with lands and a title to his name. Littlefinger's been playing a long game, and this seems certain to be part of it.

With Littlefinger's attempt to woo Lysa comes Tyrion's promotion to Master of Coin. There's where Tyrion begins to have a possibility again of amassing some power around himself.

The Lannisters have predicted Robb's move north, and they seem hesitant about alliance to the Greyjoys. Littlefinger plans to take a ship, the Merling King, to the Vale – have we seen that name before? It might be the ship Dontos has hired for Sansa. I'll have to double check that. There's a potential problem. Or perhaps some fun.

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On to weddings. The Tyrells don't like the Dornish delegation. Mace Tyrell wants quite a lot – perhaps too much. He may find his enjoyment of the wedding curtailed. Tyrion's been given a marriage, and Cersei as well. Tywin likes the sound of Willas Tyrell for Cersei. Tyrion, meanwhile, is meant for Sansa.

Varys gives a report of a kraken seen off the Fingers, and dragons in Quarth. Nobody pays any heed. The Lannisters don't recognize that the true dangers lie north of the Wall and across the sea to the east. Tyrion's the only one to see the value of the Wall, and unfortunately Tywin seems to think it's in his best interest for Rayder to menace the north. Not enough long-term thinking there to realize the wildings won't stop in the north.

Catelyn: Jaime's freedom is the gift that keeps on giving. Now Robb has lost the Karstarks, and Catelyn is desperately praying for heirs. It's about the only thing they have at the moment, the hope of heirs. Because they don't have much going right for them at the moment.

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Jaime: Is that grudging respect for Brienne I see in Jaime after their fight? Cleos is dead, but he was a muttonhead anyway. More importantly for the moment, the Brave Companions found them. Some interesting moments include what appears to be an attempt by Jaime to prevent Brienne from getting raped, and his acknowledgement that he would rather be dead than subjected to that experience – one we'll note is not uncommonly perpetrated by knights in this world.

And Jaime loses his hand(s) to Vargo Hoat, or so it appears. Maybe just his fingers. We'll see. Either way, it's a very hands-on approach to taking a hands-off prisoner capture policy. Tywin's not going to appreciate that. Of course, Jaime won't appreciate his sister being married off – he'd like to do that openly like a Targaryen.

So, now that we're here, it looks like we have room to feel out the possibilities for the rest of the book. Arya's going to have to act the lady if she has any hope of winning the King's men to her brother's cause. Doing so would give Robb a good group of people and popular support, at the cost of Arya's fierce resistance to the constraints of feminine roles.

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Robb, meanwhile, in this book is at the lowest point he will be in the series in several respects. His support is flagging, his kingdom crumbling. He's going to spend this book and perhaps longer attempting to get back on track.

Tywin is shuffling the cards all over the place, making it very hard to keep up with what he's doing. He's the real wildcard in King's Landing now, and everything there is going to be uncertain for a while, at least until the business of the weddings is settled.

Davos's arc is going to involve Edric Storm, perhaps the real secret to Melisandre's magic, and what's to happen with Stannis.

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Jaime's arc seems squarely centered on him being forced to learn to rely on someone else for once, and this means Brienne gets to play a strong role as the real center of these chapters.

Jon will have to learn to adopt wilding ways – and he's going to change as a result of it. The threat of the Others still looms; I wonder how that might complicate things north of the Wall.

Bran's seeking control of his power, and the journey will be an important part of how he learns that control. The three-eyed bird is a metaphor, after all.

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Sansa and Tyrion are on a collision course in their stories, which probably means someone is getting bumped off or a strange new alliance of sorts between the two of them may emerge. I'm not entirely sure which idea is more interesting yet. But if they're to be married, bumped off seems less likely.

Things of importance:
* Dragonglass is kryptonite to White Walkers
* White Walkers are not just limited to human corpses? If bears can become Others, that's not good.
* Wedding plans keep changing. Tyrion for Sansa would make a very, very interesting pair.
* The King's men have a network of smallfolk on their side
* Jaime missing hand(s) or fingers, and captured by the Bloody Mummers.

Predictions pulled out of my ass:
* Jon will not be earning Mance's trust easily, if at all before this book is done. It's going to take killing Mormont to do it.
* Arya's going to have to try to win the King's men and the smallfolk to Robb's cause.
* Sam has the secret to killing the Others. He will make it back to the Wall and get word out before Mance gets there.

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Dany's Threes:

Three heads: Three identities. Mother of dragons and child of storms are obvious – the third, though… the one she seeks is Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Too obvious, though. Not the third head. Of course, this one's most open and could have several meanings.
She thinks: the three ships she's naming after the great dragons.
Jorah thinks: Dany and two husbands (him as one).

Three fires: life, death, love. There's the obvious fire of Drogo's funeral – the fire of life. The other two will come. No predictions as yet.

Three mounts: To bed, to dread, to love. Drogo was to bed. She will have another to dread (Jorah if he turns out to be a treason), and if the Jon Snow as secret Targaryen and match to her thing works out he's the one to love.

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Three treasons: For blood, for gold, for love. I think Ser Jorah might betray her out of love. For blood, I don't know, though, because I'm starting to think the three treasons might all be future events from the point of the vision – as in nothing before the vision will count. Depending on what happens with Illyrio Mopatis, we might have a winner for gold.
She thinks: Mirri Maz Duur for blood.