By Charles Matthews

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

7. A Dance With Dragons, by George R.R. Martin, pp. 179-202


Griff has cut off Tyrion's wine, and he is suffering "sweats and shakes" after drinking himself into a stupor on the ship, at Illyrio's, and on the overland journey. He has taken to sleeping on the roof of the Shy Maid's cabin because the air is fresher than below, and Duck snores. He would like to bathe in the river, but doesn't want Septa Lemore to see him naked. She, on the contrary, has no compunction about slipping out of her robes and slipping into the water before the boat gets under way for the day.

Tyrion watches her, of course, and he notices that she has stretch marks that indicate she has borne at least one child. When she comes back on board and dries off, she asks him if he has seen the big ridgeback turtle -- the Rhoyne is alive with all kinds of turtles. But he has missed it: he was watching her.

As the boat's owners, Yandry and Ysilla, get under way, Young Griff comes on deck, and Ysilla serves them breakfast. Afterward, Duck and Young Griff spar with blunted longswords, and Tyrion notices how skilled the handsome young man is becoming, especially when he lands a blow that knocks Duck overboard. When Tyrion laughs, Duck throws him over. But Tyrion can swim, and when when Young Griff extends a pole to allow him to climb on board, Tyrion turns a cartwheel as well. He says he learned how when he was performing with a mummer's troupe, but in fact his uncle had taught him when Tyrion was six or seven. Tywin put a stop to it, however: "The gods made you a dwarf. Must you be a fool as well? You were born a lion, not a monkey." Now Tyrion is glad for the opportunity to pretend to be a traveling entertainer, and Septa Lemore has helped refashion his clothes into suits of motley.

Duck has also told Tyrion to write down everything he knows about dragons, about which he had read a great deal. He also aids Haldon the Halfmaester with the lessons in languages, geometry, and history that Haldon is giving Young Griff. Tyrion listens as the boy recites something of the history of Volantis, particularly the two rival factions, the tigers and the elephants, that have competed to rule the city. Afterward, Tyrion plays cyvasse with Haldon, and observes, "Languages, history, songs, sums ... a heady stew for some sellsword's son." Tyrion continues to hint about his suspicions of the true identities of Griff and Young Griff by suggesting that he and Haldon play the game for secrets.

The river widens when the Noyne flows into it, and Tyrion realizes that they are passing the ruins of Ny Sar and Nymeria's palace. A giant turtle surfaces near the boat and lets out a loud bellow. Ysilla is thrilled, and calls it a blessing. Yandry tells him and the others that it is "The Old Man of the River." And Tyrion thinks, "Gods and wonders always appear, to attend the birth of kings."


He is sailing into White Harbor on an old boat called the Merry Midwife, disguised as a sailor. He notices that the banners flying from the New Castle include neither the Lannister lion nor the Stark direwolf, which gives him hope that Lord Wyman Manderly can be persuaded to Stannis's cause. But then he sees a warship called Lionstar, which is flying the arms of King Tommen. "The Freys were here, and he would need to face them."

The captain asks how long Davos will be in White Harbor, and tells him he will wait only three days. If it takes him longer, Davos tells him, he shouldn't wait. Davos makes his way into the city and is surprised at the crowds. A merchant tells him that they have taken refuge there: "With that Bastard o' Bolton running loose, they all want to be inside the walls." Davos also learns that Manderly is raising an army, but not whether it's because he intends to join forces with Bolton.

In a tavern he listens to the gossip, and learns that one of Manderly's sons, Ser Wylis, is still alive and a captive of the Freys. He also overhears gossip about dragons, and someone comes up with the name of Daenerys. Having heard enough, and feeling that his attempt to get Manderly to side with Stannis is futile, he goes outside, trying to decide whether to make his plea anyway. It is too late to return to the ship, so he climbs the hill and presents himself at the postern of the New Castle: "'I need to see Lord Manderly at once,' he said. 'My business is with him, and him alone.'"

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