Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Clash of Kings: Predictions (Spoilers!)

More direct commentary this time as I get more involved with the characters!
A Clash of Kings
As a general thing, I expect a plague. Maybe not in this volume but they've mentioned illnesses a couple of times in passing in a way that seems important, and GRRM seems to be building towards maximum chaos before introducing the supernatural winter threats.
I have a mental block on the title of this book and have to look it up every time.

This strangler potion is basically a margarita (sugar water, lime, wine, and spices).

I am disappointed that the main redhead (Melisandre) is apparently an evil religious fundamentalist. I always take these things personally. Her hair is even the same shade of red as mine, apparently.

Sansa thinking extensively about how ugly Tyrion is every time he turns up = eventual true love. Or at least sex. Sansa will learn further important Life Lessons about how pretty people aren't good and ugly people aren't evil, as Sansa appears to be all about learning how Appearances Aren't Reality.

Varys is playing some long game for the Targaryn. Giveaway is the Y in his name. Also I assume his penis was cut off in Essos.

Willingness to kill children appears to be the other major marker of someone's essential alignment towards good or evil (along with seeking consent for sex) … so Tyrion & Ned = good. Cersei, Robert, Joffrey = evil.

Yoren is surprisingly good at his job for someone who doesn't bathe. Arya is starting to admire him; therefore, I expect he will die by the end of the book.

I am bored of half these POV characters.

Melisandre is probably sleeping with someone. Maybe multiple people. I dunno why I think that, she just has too much power for no reason, I guess.

Since Jon has taken a vow of chastity and Danerys is allegedly (ALLEGEDLY) infertile, my money is on super-virgin Sansa as the compromise queen who can unite the factions AND have children to continue the line.

Littlefinger survives at least five books.

Ever so slight sympathy for Theon Greyjoy, who is obviously still terrible, so that sympathy probably evaporates by the end of the book.

Stannis, as he is grim, humourless, and dutiful, will die, but probably not for a while yet. Renly I cannot really remember anything about except that he is not-Stannis, so I have no opinion on his survival.

Robert's bastard whose name I forget, who's running around with Arya, had the scene with the fire glowing on his helm, which seems to prefigure he'll become a heroic knight.

POVs I'm bored of:
  • Catelyn: Look, Robb's gonna die and you're not getting your daughters back. Get over it already.
  • Bran: Needs more Hodor
  • Davos: Why do I even care who you are?
POV's I am still interested in:
  • Daenerys: You're on a whole different continent but at least you're doing interesting stuff
  • Sansa & Arya: You're both treading water a bit and having terrible things happen to you, but at least it's not all battle scenes
  • Theon: You seduce me with your worldbuilding novelty, but I suspect you will become boring fast
  • Tyrion: Political maneuvering is better than endless battle scenes
Hodor eventually dies protecting Bran once Bran comes into his magic. Bran has a frenzy of self-flagellating remorse that leads to some bad decision that leads to more battle scenes in book six or seven, helping to set off the final confrontation, by which point Bran has new steely Hodor-related resolve.

Also Bran is NOT EIGHT.

Varys's “Little Birds” are servants, mostly young ones. He shows up knowing things shortly after any time there's a scene with a nameless servant that nobody rapes in a Tyrion scene. [That I will tell you is straight-up correct.] Martin likes naming people so much. Namesless characters mostly seem to have a point for being nameless. Also my mother used to say “a little bird told me” a lot so it stuck out to me in the narrative and he repeats it INCESSANTLY. Also I am reading suspiciously because I am trying to predict things right.

also, and I have trouble keeping how old these people are straight, GRRM writes Arya and Sansa as significantly younger, more simple thinkers than Bran and Robb. it's annoying that well-educated Sansa is portrayed with less depth-of-thought than 8-year-old Bran

Moderately surprised by Renly's mode of death

OMG this is boring and long and has too many POV switches.

Jon is north of the wall and Brienne just fled with Catelyn, who is having Super Mom thoughts adding to my conviction that she is supernatural on behalf of her children.

Tyrion is being all chivalrous towards Sansa for not a lot of reason.

Ser Courtney Penrose probably comes up later.

Still do not understand why Danerys gives a fuck especially when she has so many other interesting life choices available.

OMG Danerys seriously why do you give a fuck, take a different fucking country, you've never even been to Westeros, it's not that great.

I read Dolorous Edd as Dolores Edd and was consequently briefly confused.

Way to die Penrose. Although this is picking up a bit. Still do not understand why any of these people want to rule any of these places.

(Danerys's visions will appear in a separate post. It was so dense that I bookmarked it to come back and go through it more slowly when I finished the book. I'll also throw in Ygritte's story to Jon there.)


Melisandre's demon sex baby shadow was pretty good stuff.

And I suspect Melisandre is more powerful than before because of Danerys because like a chapter or two ago the fire spellcasters wherever Danerys currently is were getting more powerful because she woke her dragons. And Melisandre has light/flame/shadow type powers. Or possibly just everyone is getting more powerful because whatever is in the North is getting all unleashed

Somebody's going to flay Theon and he's going to deserve it [Kathryn: why do you say that?] Lots of flaying talk in the Theon-loses-Bran chapter.

Also they mentioned Blackwater and I vaguely recall HBO spent a lot on special effects for a place called Blackwater, so I assume the book's climax will be there, eventually.

Jon meeting Ygritte is like NOTHING BUT PORTENTS. [Kathryn: Like?] Brandon the Daughterless/Bael ballad which probably predicts other stuff that will happen; Starks are all related to Wildings stuff; Jon wonders if Ned is really his father. WAY TO CATCH UP WITH THE REST OF US JON. Is Ygritte a love interest for Jon?

GRRM is obsessed with boobs, bastards, and redheaded women. Also lots of “realism” about bad and sad emotions but like none about real, non-empty honor, or affection, or loyalty.

I am really glad Bran escaped with the bog people and not the Walders Frey because they were too fucking annoying for 800 pages of misadventure. Also how else will Robb break this marriage agreement? [Kathryn: Why do you think that?] I don't know who he'll marry but obviously not a Waldette. They (the Freys) broke their oaths first so I assume Robb is in the clear to make non-Frey-related bad romantic decisions.

Also marrying a Frey doesn't seem like it gets you dead and I am banking on Robb being dead by the end of Book II. If they were that evil/powerful, they'd get POV chapters.

I think I am about to be disappointed that Theon is Not Actually Dead. He failed to die very definitively in his death scene. Very Bran-like. Actually I'm a little concerned Theon won't die until the LAST BOOK because he sucks.

Also GRRM has started getting a little overly-clever with the whole Bran's dead-not dead thing with the miller's children

END of A Clash of Kings:

The thing is that GRRM never gives any reason any of these people -- any of them -- want to be king or lord or ser for ANY reason except ambition/daddy issues/duty, which works for some of them, but for a lot of them it's thin or pointless, like Stannis seems actively childish. It worked okay with Ned and his Duty since he comes in a grown man with a whole life of Duty behind him. But Robb? We never hear anything from Robb about, like, I've always loved Winterfell and its beauteous wintery woods and its people who feed me and stuff and therefore DUTY … he's just like "Oh, well, duty? I guess?" I think part of that is just GRRM's total elision of "small folk" and women from the narrative except as it serves the "noblemen having wars.” I mean, I have hardly any sense of the North except for Winterfell's castle, and then just a handful of rooms and a couple of serving people. I think it's easy to mentally fill in the blanks in the characters because we're all used to fantasy fiction, except that I get thrown out of the narrative by POV switches so I'm noticing it a lot … and I'm like, "Well, I'm filling Robb in with Aragorn son of Arathorn and whatnot but ... GRRM doesn't actually do any of that work" … as a result, if you stop to think, basically everyone's motivation is "BUT IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE MIIIIIIIIIIINE." Tamora Pierce, for example, almost always has a moment where her heroine contemplates why she actually wants to serve such abstract concepts as "the realm" or "duty" or "honor" or "my people" and she uses all those little scenes with "smallfolk" to build a picture of a place that people love and feel a duty towards. [Kathryn: Sometimes we see it with Cat] Yeah, also Bran is growing into it. But yeah, Stannis is really jarring for me as a character: he's a grown-ass, serious-minded adult with excellent tactical skills, who's busy having a big sulk about not getting to be king? Nope. Don't buy it.

I am not super-clear on what happened with Tommen* because there are six zillion minor knights and lords with names, some of whom matter and some of whom don't, and I'm not really clear on which minor guy flipped on him or whatever but anyway I gathered from context that he arrived SOMEWHERE safe eventually.
*I had to look up his name. I was like Timmon? Timon? No, that's Lion King. Tommas? Tommin? Apparently I give as many shits about him as Cersei does.

Sansa and Tyrion obviously being set up for romance, evidenced by Sansa thinking about how ugly Tyrion is every time he turns up, and Tyrion contemplating Sansa's purity and innocence. Kinda creepy, GRRM. Shae is a bad life decision that will come back to haunt Tyrion as she almost immediately became whiney and pouty when he gave her a house.

Davos made a passing reference to the dead being raised when he was in the boat with Melisandre; I predict zombies.

Thought Robb and maybe Stannis and Joffrey would be dead by the end of book II, so I'm fairly surprised all three are still alive (especially Robb). Next book, right? We start killing kings soon?

I am a tiny bit concerned Rickon might be a sociopath because of his direwolf's bad manners. But it's hard to tell because child development is clearly not GRRM's wheelhouse.

The battle scenes were very entertaining, those are hard to do well, good job GRRM. (Although that reminds me that I am finding it problematic that I have no map of these places in my head at all.)

Also, seriously Daenerys, do something more interesting with your life than trying to run Westeros. You do not want this country, it is terrible. 

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