By Charles Matthews

Friday, July 29, 2011

17. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin, pp. 729-761


Ser Rodrik Cassel has returned to Winterfell to train more men, but Bran, who watches the training with Maester Luwin, is not impressed with the way things are going. And he is, of course, depressed by his inability to fight. So he tells the maester about the dream he has had: A crow with three eyes has flown into his bedroom and told him to go down into the crypt; there he met his father and talked with him. He had been particularly bothered by how sad his father seemed. That morning, he had asked Hodor to take him down to the crypts, but Hodor was frightened to go down into them.

Maester Luwin tries to reassure Bran that his father isn't in the crypts, and that he won't be for many years. He is a prisoner in King's Landing, he says, so he can't possibly be there. Bran insists that he wants to go see for himself, so Luwin asks Osha to carry Bran. Luwin goes, too, as does Summer. But at a certain point the wolf balks and will go no farther, even when Bran, in Osha's arms, continues. Bran tells Osha what he knows about the lords buried there, and mentions that his father's brother, Brandon, and sister, Lyanna, are there too, represented by statues even those are supposed to be reserved for lords only.

Art Parkinson as Rickon Stark
They reach the place reserved for Eddard Stark's tomb, which is where Bran had dreamed of seeing him. Luwin assures him that his father isn't there, but when he reaches inside the empty tomb, something springs out and sinks its teeth into Luwin's hand. Bran screams for Summer, who comes and attacks. The attacker turns out to be Shaggydog. Bran's little brother Rickon emerges from the tomb and calls off Shaggydog. 

"You let my father be," Rickon says to Luwin. Bran tells Rickon that their father isn't there, but Rickon insists that he is, that like Bran he saw him in his dreams. "He's coming home now, like he promised." Luwin is clearly puzzled that the two boys should have had the same dreams. And although he resists Bran's suggestion that he and Rickon and their wolves should go to the maester's tower to wait for their father's return, he finally gives in.

There Osha dresses Luwin's bite wounds, and the maester tells them about the legends of the children of the forest, the people of the Dawn Age before the arrival of the First Men. Luwin tells the boys that the children are all gone now, but Osha insists that they still exist north of the Wall. Luwin dismisses this notion as superstition, but as he continues with his story, suddenly first Summer and then Shaggydog start to howl. When the wolves stop howling, a raven arrives. It has dried blood on its wings.

Bran starts to shiver while Luwin reads the letter the bird has carried. "What is it?" he asks, holding Rickon tightly. Osha says, "You know what it is, boy." Luwin turns to them with tears in his eyes and says, "we shall need to find a stonecarver who knew his likeness well...."


The torment of what she had witnessed has not left Sansa when Joffrey appears in her room and orders her to appear in court that afternoon. "If you won't rise and dress yourself, my Hound will do it for you," he tells her. Sandor Clegane picks her up from her bed and pushes her toward her wardrobe, though he does so "almost gently."
Sansa backed away from them. "I did as the queen asked, I wrote the letters, I wrote what she told me. You promised you'd be merciful. Please, let me go home. I won't do any treason, I'll be good, I swear it. I don't have traitor's blood, I don't. I only want to go home."
But Joffrey insists that his mother still wants her to marry him, so she has to stay. When she says she doesn't want to marry him because he chopped off her father's head, he replies, "I never promised to spare him, only that I'd be merciful, and I was. If he hadn't been your father, I would have had him torn or flayed, but I gave him a clean death." And when she says she hates him, he replies, "My mother tells me that it isn't fitting that a king should strike his wife," so he has Ser Merwyn Trant do it for him. When she recovers from the blow, she says she will do what he wants.

Bathed and dressed, she appears in the balcony for the court session in which Joffrey dispatches various pleas with arrogance and cruelty. When it's over she finds him waiting for her at the foot of the stairs. He orders her to walk with him. "I'll get you with child as soon as you're able," he tells her. "If the first one is stupid, I'll chop off your head and find a smarter wife."

When she sees that they are going to the battlements, she backs off and refuses to accompany him, but he bullies her into it. "He can make me look at the heads, she told herself, but he can't make me see them." When they reach her father's head, Joffrey orders Sandor Clegane to turn it so she can see the face. "The severed head had been dipped in tar to preserve it longer. Sansa looked at it calmly, not seeing it at all. It did not really look like Lord Eddard, she thought; it did not even look real."

Joffrey is disappointed at her lack of reaction, and takes her to see the other heads. There are two empty spikes that, he tells her, he is saving for Stannis and Renly Baratheon. Then he points out the head of Septa Mordane. To Sansa it doesn't even look like a woman. "Why did you kill her?" she asks, and he says she was a traitor. "Joffrey looked pouty; somehow she was upsetting him."

Then he says that Robb is a traitor too. "Your brother defeated my uncle Jaime. My mother says it was treachery and defeat. She wept when she heard." So he says for his name day he's going to raise and army and kill her brother. "That's what I'll give you, Lady Sansa. Your brother's head." She replies, "Maybe my brother will give me your head." So he has Ser Merwyn hit her again.

As they reach the edge of the parapet, she thinks of pushing him to his death seventy or eighty feet below. "It wouldn't even matter if she went over with him. It wouldn't matter at all." Then Sandor Clegane kneels before her, between her and Joffrey, and dabs at the blood from her split lip. "The moment was gone."


She dreams feverishly of dragons, of her brother Viserys, of Khal Drogo, of her brother Rhaegar. And when she awakes, they find her crawling toward the dragon's eggs. Ser Jorah takes her back to bed, and she struggles to get up again. Her maids and her guard Jhogo are there, and Mirri Maz Duur gives her something to drink that puts her to sleep again. She wakes again and asks for the dragon's eggs, then drifts off.

The third time she wakes, she is holding one of the eggs. She realizes that her fever has gone, and calls for water and dates to eat. She asks for Ser Jorah, and for a warm bath, and for Mirri Maz Duur. And then she remembers Khal Drogo. The maid Irri tells her, "The khal lives," but Daenerys senses that something is not right. Then she asks for her child, wondering why she hadn't thought of him until now. The terrified maid tells her that the baby died.

When Jorah and Mirri Maz Duur arrive, they find her standing over the other dragon eggs in the chest. She asks Jorah to touch one of the eggs and tell her what he feels. He says, "Shell, hard as rock.... Scales.... Cold stone." She seems to be the only one who feels the heat in them. Then she asks him about the child, and he is embarrassed and stammers, "They say the child was...." Finally Mirri Maz Duur completes the statement: "Monstrous." He was deformed and stank of the grave, she says, "He had been dead for years." Daenerys counters that he had been "alive and strong when Ser Jorah carried me into the tent." Mirri Maz Duur insists, "Death was in that tent, Khaleesi."
Ser Jorah had killed her son, Dany knew. He had done what he did for love and loyalty, yet he had carried her into a place no living man should go and fed her baby to the darkness. He knew it too; the grey face, the hollow eyes, the limp. "The shadows have touched you too, Ser Jorah," she told him. The knight made no reply. Dany turned to the godswife, "You warned me that only death could pay for life. I thought you meant the horse." 
Mirri Maz Duur replies, "That was a lie you told yourself." Daenerys asks to see Khal Drogo: "Show me what I have bought with my son's life." Outside she finds an abandoned camp, with only a few people too infirm to move with the khalasar, and the servants who have sworn loyalty. The weak and blind Khal Drogo is lying on the ground. "This is not life, for one who was as Drogo was," she tells Mirri Maz Duur, and demands, "When will he be as he was?"
"When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east," said Mirri Maz Duur. "When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then will he return, and not before." 
Daenerys tells Jorah and the others to leave her alone with Mirri Maz Duur. She turns on the woman in fury: "You knew what I was buying, and you knew the price, and yet you let me pay it." It was revenge for the destruction wrought on her people, she replies: "The stallion who mounts the world will burn no cities now. His khalasar shall trample no nations into dust." Daenerys says she saved the woman's life, but Mirri Maz Duur replies, "Look to your khal and see what life is worth, when all the rest is gone." Daenerys calls for her guards and has Mirri Maz Duur bound hand and foot.

She has Khal Drogo taken to her tent, where she bathes him, then she takes him outside, "for the Dothraki believed that all things of importance in a man's life must be done beneath the open sky." She does what she can to rouse him, "Yet Drogo did not feel, or speak, or rise." So she goes into tent for a soft silk cushion, "knelt, kissed Drogo on the lips, and pressed the cushion down over his face." 

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