This set of chapters once again reminded me why it is important to reread books. It bothers me to no end when people (cough cough usually my family) say that rereading books is stupid. Being the petty person that I am, my go to response is, “Well, you are stupid!”, a response that gets us no where. But seriously, how else can you respond to someone who says that? My friend, being a reader yourself, I know you can sympathize.
Everything about these chapters got my reader heart practically exploding in my chest. The experience of reading such fine writing is like eating a gourmet meal at a fine dining restaurant. The love I have for these characters and this world is just endless. Making food metaphors makes it even better.
One thing I have always appreciated about this world is how it delves into all elements of life. Catelyn’s chapter is takes place in an area called the Godswood, where worshippers of the old gods visit to pray and unwind. There are old gods and new gods in this world. Catelyn grew up worshiping the new gods, also known as the seven. Such fine and intimate detail and we are already getting it in chapter two! These books read like a fine literary novel. Hell with high fantasy. What about literary fantasy?
We are introduced to Ned’s sword, Ice, and house words. Every family / house has a phrase that represents them. For the Starks it is, Winter is Coming. This phrase is unlike most other house phrases which speak of what makes them great. The Starks is one of warning.
We learn that the King is coming to Winterfell, the Starks home base, and that his hand (adviser to the king – not a body part, silly) Jon Arryn has died. Devastated, as Ned viewed Jon as a second father, it is now time to prepare for the royal arrival. Oh, and also, Ned hates the Lannisters. The Queen is a Lannister but the King is a Baratheon. There are so many little details that I won’t be able to get into and it makes me so frustrated! No wonder it is taking George so long to write Winds of Winter.
From now on, I am going to refrain from writing in all caps THIS CHAPTER IS SO GOOD, because they are all SO GOOD! Just take it as a fact and roll with in from here on out.
Dany’s chapter is fantastic…which is another way of saying SO GOOD. But seriously, the foreshadowing is on point. For example, Dany likes the burning hot water BECAUSE SHE IS MOTHER OF DRAGONS. This chapter is probably when we see Dany at her most vulnerable. Aside from her next chapter, she never gives reason for us to believe that she is timid. She is a beast.
What I also like about these books, and what makes them so literary in my mind, is that there is no clear good or bad guy. We are introduced to the Stark family first and as human beings immediately side with them. But then we get this Dany chapter and she hates the Starks. It is such an interesting juxtaposition that the series continues with 100% and I freaking love it.
I love Dany and I love Tyrion and I love Arya. But my all time favorite character is Ned. My goodness do I love Ned. He is without question my all time favorite character of the series. Once again, literary as hell (I should probably make a rule to not say that anymore either. It is just implied…will make rules in the next post).
Ned’s memories of his sister saying, “Promise me Ned,” is so powerful and moving. Plus, so much is said from that one line once you have read the entire series. I won’t spoil that since you haven’t read the books but for those who have read the series all the way through, they probably know what I am referencing.
There is so much content packed into these chapters. When King Robert arrives and visits the crypts of Winterfell with Ned, they talk of Westeros history and the war they fought in. They talk of politics and what is going on in the world. Like, there is so much I am not mentioning now because if I mention one detail I will need to mention them all. It is just so good. Friend, stop reading my posts and just read the book. You can thank me later.
Also, Robert asks Ned to be his hand at King’s Landing and Ned’s thinking, Noooooo, but he says he will think about it.
Jon Snow is a close favorite of mine. Everyone says he is whiny and I guess he is to a certain extent but I always enjoy his chapters and plus, I feel really bad for the guy. He is a bastard, the son of Ned but not the son of Catelyn. He does not know his mother. The last name Snow is simply a generic name for bastards born in the north. Again, such an interesting detail to layer this world.
Jon wants to join the Nights Watch (we saw them in the Prologue) because he doesn’t believe his prospects look too good as a bastard. When his Uncle who is a member of the Nights Watch tells him he is too young, Jon storms out and meets Tyrion Lannister in one of my favorite meetings of the entire series. Even one of my favorite quotes, spoken by Tyrion to Jon, is in this chapter.
Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.
Damn! So good! And then the way the chapter ends. For context, Tyrion is a dwarf. Now, here is the final line from the chapter.
When [Tyrion] opened the door, the light from within threw his shadow clear across the yard, and for just a moment Tyrion Lannister stood tall as a king.
Damn! Again! So freaking good. And perhaps foreshadowing?
Catelyn’s sister, who was married to Jon Arryn, sends a letter. It is written in code and Catelyn interprets it immediately to say that the Lannisters killed her husband. Catelyn feels that Ned must be the hand to the King now, so that he can investigate this and bring justice to Jon’s death, and protect Robert from what else the Lannisters may do. They also talk about Jon Snow and Catelyn is very bitter about the bastard. Understandable, though I think she is a bit harsh. But, again, understandable.
Arya’s chapter is awesome. First off, Arya is the reason I came to this series in the first place. In college I used to use Tumblr a lot and people would constantly post gifs from Game of Thrones but would never actually tag Game of Thrones so therefore I never knew what the images were from. Finally, someone tagged it. What caught my eye was Arya with her short hair. I thought, how interesting. A girl pretending to be a boy in a medieval story. That looks really interesting. The rest is history.
Arya is the character I find I relate to the most. She isn’t into girly things and she does what she wants. While I wasn’t nearly as spunky as her as a kid, I too had the same outlook on life. The difference between us is that she has a sister who plays the perfect part of a young lady, a standard which Arya does not care to reach. After fleeing her needlework class, Arya finds Jon Snow and they watch the oldest Stark brother, Robb, fight wooden swords with Prince Joffery. Three things that make Jon and Arya so awesome –
1 – they both can’t practice sword fighting with Joffery, she because of her sex and he being a bastard. They relate to one another;
2 – they both resemble Ned more than any of the other children, who resemble Catelyn;
3 – Arya may hate needlework now, but she will find that in the near future she will become very good at it thanks in part to Jon.
Of course Prince Joffery is an ass. We learn Arya has named her wolf Nymeria after a warrior queen from ancient history. We also learn that Sansa named her wolf Lady. Both fitting names from their respective owners.
It is fitting to end with Bran’s chapter. The way it ends is very final and leaves you wanting more! We see Bran climbing the walls of Winterfell. He loves to climb. Another awesome thing about this series is that each character is interesting. They each carry a depth that is usually seen in literary fiction but rarely anywhere else. Even a seven year old such as Bran has more depth than many fictional characters. He climbs near a window where he hears talking. Two people discuss his father and his motivations to accept the position of the King’s hand. The two people find Ned to be a danger. They also fear they will be accused of murdering Jon Arryn. Hmmm…
Then Bran hears some strange noises and it turns out, the two people he heard talking were the twins Jaime and Cersei (the Queen) Lannister, and they are having sex! The two spot Bran and Jaime throws him out of the window. Just like that.
So yeah, this set of chapters was freaking awesome. But I realize that I say that a lot, so next post I will be trying to shift how I write these. Should be fun…and I mean that in a not sarcastic way. I legitimately think it will be fun.
Until next time, friend. Danielle