Freitag, 1. Juli 2011

Buchbesprechung: George R. R. Martin - A Dance with Dragons

Von Stefan Sasse

Gleich zu Beginn, das folgende Review hat mit dem üblichen Programm des Blogs nicht das geringste zu tun. Ich war die letzten drei Tage dank eines für mich glücklichen Irrtums von amazon.de zwei Wochen vor dem Rest der Welt im Besitz des neuesten Teils der großartigen Saga des "Lieds von Eis und Feuer" von George R. R. Martin und habe diese Rezension in englischer Sprache für Interessierte verfasst. Wer die Bücher nicht kennt und sich nicht für Fantasy interessiert, sollte gar nicht erst anfangen zu lesen. Dieser Post ist ein persönlicher, und nachdem ich die faszinierende Reise durch Martins Welt abgeschlossen habe, werde ich wieder zum üblichen Programm zurückkehren. Für andere Fans der Reihe, falls sie es noch nicht wissen, finden sich Essays von mir zum Thema auf der Homepage "The Tower of the Hand", ebenso wie eine Live-Kommentierung meines Leseerlebnisses mit "A Dance with Dragons". Genug der Vorrede, nach dem Umbruch geht es los. Und Achtung, viele, viele Spoiler.
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After the break, you will find a detailed review of "A Dance with Dragons", containg thousands of spoilers. If you don't want to be spoiled, under no circumstances click the break or read beyond this point! You have been warned. 





A Dance with Dragons Review

I was one of the lucky Germans to have received their copy of “A Dance with Dragons” two weeks early (or, to say it in Martin’s terms: a fortnight early). It took me a total of three days to finish it, starting afternoon of the first day and finishing it noon of the third. The first-read-experience was commented in the chapter-by-chapter-section of “The Tower of the Hand”, so if you are interested in that, look it up there. This text here will deal with the book as a whole, spoilers, twists and all. Consider this your last warning before you continue to read: there be spoilers. If you want to have an untouched experience for “A Dance with Dragons”, don’t continue reading. 

Roughly the first 60% of the book cover the same time span as “A Feast for Crows” and shed some light on what happened north of Moat Cailin as well as what happens beyond the Narrow Sea. Most chapters cover the exploits of Jon, Tyrion and Daenerys, though there are three chapters for Bran, two for Asha Greyjoy, a couple for Theon Greyjoy, three for Barristan Selmy, three for Quentyn Martell, one for Areoh Hotah, three for Victarion Greyjoy, three for Jon Connington, one for Jaime, two for Cersei and one for Melisandre. In the prologue, we meet Varamyr Sixskins and the epilogue is delivered to us courtesy of Kevan Lannister. Including the last two, we witness the death of four POV. 

The story in the North is relatively simple: Jon has to try to make something out of the victory over the wildlings at the end of “A Storm of Swords”. He has to haggle with Stannis Baratheon and walk a thin red line trying to maintain the independence of the Watch while securing the support of the king. Simultaneously, he tries to strike an alliance with the wildlings – where he is on equal terms with Stannis – to settle them in the gift. Most black brothers oppose this course, and Jon needs most of his time to grow into the role of Lord Commander (although he does that real quick) and to make the necessary arrangements. Mance Rayder is burned to honor R’hollor and dies screaming. 

Bran marches north with Coldhands, whose identity remains unclear. Coldhands is dead, obviously, and he has been dead for long, which makes it unlikely that he is Benjen. His identity is not revealed, however. Bran makes advancements and can now warg in Hodor, several other beasts and has full control over Summer. Jojen gets weaker and weaker and threatens to die when the party is attacked by several wights. The fighting is brutal, and in the end they are rescued by a child of the forest, who invites them in the cave, where the Last Greenseer resided: they finally found the Three-Eyed-Crow. 

Said Greenseer proves to be Brynden Rivers, Bloodraven, grown into the roots of the old weirwoods that grow here. He teaches Bran not only some secrets about warging, but also in the old powers of the children of the forest and in greenseeing. This is done by warging into any weirwood, so Bran can watch everything around them. He witnesses the events at Winterfell, past and present, and tries to contact Theon Greyjoy. 

In the meantime, Stannis tries to gain allies. He is not successful, however, only Karstark declares for him. In this desperate situation, Jon counsels him to gain the allegiance of the mountain clans of the North (we remember, Bran encountered them before in “A Storm of Swords”). Then Stannis means to strike at Deepwood Motte, free it from the Ironborn and then march on the Dreadfort. 

At the Dreadfort, Ramsay Bolton holds a cruel regiment, flaying, killing and raping for sport and holding Theon Greyjoy gruesomely maimed and broken as a pet of his. It is through Theon’s eyes, who has taken the identity of Reek, that we see the whole bestiality of the Boltons. These chapters are made for retching, as they are cruel and ugly. Ramsay uses Theon to gain control of Moat Cailin and to reunite with Roose Bolton. Then they call all their allies to Winterfell, to celebrate the wedding with the false Arya Stark in its ruins. 

Also called is Wyman Manderly, the lord of White Harbor, to whom Davos Seaworth was sent to negotiate. Since his only surviving son is held hostage by the Lannisters and three Freys are at court to watch his actions, Manderly imprisons Davos and threatens him killed, which he supposedly does. In truth, he just kills a criminal whose hands he shortened before and sends Davos on to rescue Rickon Stark, who seems to be on Skagos (at least it is said he is where men eat other men, which would fit the description) and bring him back to White Harbor. Although that happens fairly early in the book, there are no further Davos chapters, so we don’t know how this mission is going. 

In the meantime, on the other side of the Narrow Sea, Tyrion comes before Illyrio in Pentos, who tells him that he wants him to meet Daenerys and ally with her. He will be sent there with a sellsword named Griff. This sellsword soon reveals himself to be Jon Connington, the childhood friend of Rhaegar Targaryen who was forced into exile by mad king Aerys. In his custody is another Targaryen offspring: Aegon, son of Rhaegar, who supposedly was killed by Armory Lorch but obviously smuggled out by Varys before and groomed for rule. Tyrion mentors him for a short while, planting the idea in his head of invading Westeros on his own. 

This succeeds only because Daenerys has not done what Illyrio and Varys expected. Instead of marching west, she stayed in Meereen. The Slaver’s Bay is not easily reached by land, however, and the way by sea is closed since the city is at war with Yunkai, and Volantis is half of a mind to declare war too. Daenerys has a host of problems to solve: the city hates her, and her Unsullied and freedmen die every night by hidden knives. The Yunkai’i prepare war, and then Xaro Xhoan Daxos shows up, posing an ultimatum: either Daenerys leaves the city, or Qarth will declare war. Which is exactly what happens. 

Tyrion himself is soon abducted from Griff and Aegon by the hands of Jorah Mormont. Instead of pursuing him or trying to meet Dany, Aegon decides to make for Westeros, like Tyrion counseled. In Mormont’s captivity, Tyrion meets the dwarf woman Penny, who performed the mock joust together with her brother at Joffrey’s wedding feast. Her brother was killed, though, because of the lordship Cersei promised for Tyrion’s head. Tyrion performs acts together with Penny to save his life, becoming a mummer riding the great sow. Tywin is sure to rotate in his grave. 

Meereen in the meantime is surrounded by foes. Daenerys can’t make use of her dragons since they have become unruly, attacking and devouring humans. She chained up Viserion and Rheagal, but Drogon escaped, never to be seen again. Her enemies outnumber her manyfold. The only option she sees, to stop the murder within the city walls and to prevent the storm from without, is marrying a chief Meereenese noble, which she does, but not after finally sleeping with Daario Naharis several times. 

Jorah Mormont tries to reach Meereen with Tyrion, hoping to get a pardon by presenting him to Daenerys, but slavers attack their ship and take them all captive. They are sold to a Yunkish merchant, who uses them to entertain himself in the siege of Meereen. When a plague breaks out and takes their master, Tyrion manages to turn to Brown Ben Plumm from the Second Sons, who deserted Daenerys, who takes him, Penny and Jorah in his service in exchange for the promise of Pentos and nearly all the gold from Casterly Rock. With that, Tyrion’s story ends. 

Daenerys in the meantime has celebrated the wedding with the Meereenese noble by finally reopening the fighting pits. In the midst of all the bloody gladiator battles, Drogon lands directly in the arena, killing some people. Daenerys manages to cow him and to jump his back, and then Drogon flies away. She can’t control him, however, and doesn’t manage to return. Barristan Selmy takes over matters together with some of her advisors, dethrones her husband – who tried to murder her – and rules the city as Hand in her stead. 

All the while, two other people made for Meereen: Victarion Greyjoy and Quentyn Martell. While Victarion has lost half his fleet to storms, he manages to regain confidence by seizing ships along the way and with help of a powerful red priest, to whom he soon heeds for counsel. Quentyn can’t reach Meereen, so he joins up with some mercenaries, deserts them and reaches Dany the day before her wedding, unable to make her honor the old marriage contract that was done by Ser Willem Darry (!) and Doran Martell after their flight from Dragonstone years and years past. After Dany’s vanished, Martell decides that he has enough dragon blood in him to tame one of the remaining two dragons and prove worthy for Dany that way, but he fails and dies, engulfed by dragon flame. The other two dragons are loose as well, devastating parts of Meereen. 

Daenerys herself is lost at the edge of the Dothraki Sea, starved and maddening. Finally, she manages to find back to herself by way of some visions and to finally acknowledge that her trying to rule Meereen was a mistake from the beginning. She manages to control Drogon, flies out in the Dothraki Sea and seeks out the khalasaar of Khal Jaqho, whom she meets standing next to Drogon. With this, the story in the east ends. 

In the North, Stannis managed to turn the mountain clans and unites with Karstark and Umber to a strength of over 5000 men. Roose Bolton is in the ruins of Winterfell with nearly as many, but the loyalty of Manderly can’t be trusted. On the way to Winterfell, however, the whole army is surprised by a strong blizzard and soon stuck in the snow, without any food. Stannis’ people are dying by the score. Simultaneously, Jon Connington invades the Stormlands with the Golden Company. 

On the Wall, Alys Karstark, the true heir of the castle (her uncle Arnolf has usurped her place) arrives, halfdead from her flight, and is taken in by Jon. She tells him that Karstark plans to betray Stannis at Winterfell and to turn cloak, so that the Boltons will easily defeat him. There is no way to reach Stannis, however. Jon manages to send Val beyond the Wall to seek out Tormund and to strike an alliance with him, admitting thousands of wildlings south of the Wall to man the castles there under supervision of trusted officers. Dissent grows louder and louder in the Night’s Watch. 

Jon has some success with a Braavosi banker: the Iron Bank, rejected by Cersei, decided to back Stannis in hope of getting her money back, which could win him the war. Jon takes a credit as well, securing food for the Watch in the upcoming winter. The Braavosi soon marches off to search Stannis. Melisandre shows Jon that Mance Rayder isn’t dead, but going in disguise of the Lord of Bones, and he is sent south to rescue Arya from Ramsay Bolton. At Winterfell, in the disguise of Abel the Bard, Mance Rayder allies himself with Theon Greyjoy, who was awakened from the nightmare Ramsay put him in by Bran, who talked to him through a weirwood. They abduct the false Arya Stark and bring her to Stannis. 

Briefly, we return to the Riverlands and to King’s Landing with one chapter Jaime and two for Cersei. Jaime makes peace with the last rebel lord, Blackwood, and ends the war in the Riverlands. After striking the peace, Brienne shows up and tells him she found Sansa Stark, but that the Hound threatens to kill her. Jaime leaves with her, not to be seen again. Cersei in the meantime sits in her cell in the Sept of Baelor, confessing some minor sins and atoning them, so that the High Septon may allow her trial by combat. Since Arys Oakheart was killed in Dorne, Kevan is able to make Qyburn’s champion a kingsguard, thus allowing him to champion for Cersei in the trial by combat as “Ser Robert Strong”. As atonement, Cersei has to walk through King’s Landing naked, however. In the epilogue, Kevan learns of the invasion of Connington and wants to bar the Tyrell attempts to gain more power, but he is killed by Varys with a crossbow to drive a wedge between the houses of Lannister and Tyrell and to prepare the Targaryen invasion. 

On the Wall, Jon tries to make up a rescue ranging together with Tormund Giantbane to get the last big part of the wildlings that has gathered at the coast of Hardstown, after Cotter Pyke failed and is presumably dead. Before he can go on the ranging, however, he receives a letter from Ramsay Snow telling him that he captured Mance Rayder and killed Stannis and his host. He demands the false Arya back, or otherwise he will march to the Wall and kill Jon. Jon holds a speech before the wildlings and black brothers, announcing his intent to march to Winterfell himself and to kill Ramsay. The black brothers don’t want to follow him, but many wildlings volunteer. Outside the hall, some black brothers, led by Bowen Marsh, assault Jon and stab him to death. With that, the northern story is concluded. 

George R. R. Martin complained many times about the complexity of the “Meereenese knot” that plagued him so long. If one looks at the whole storyline, you can understand why: many people try to reach the city, and the order of their arrival and the impact was important. Take all that into account and you acknowledge the nightmare it must have been to make all this up. After completing the book, I can fully understand why he needed so long to complete it. 

That being said how is the book? It shares the same weakness as does “A Feast for Crows”: it is clearly the link between the storylines, featuring only half the characters. Sometimes the story boils down and just goes slowly; leaving room for ambience chapters that describe the country (a prime example is Tyrion driving down the Rhoyne with Griff and Aegon). Contrary to what many people had expected, me included, are the Tyrion and Daenerys chapters among the weakest of the book. Especially Tyrion’s chapters make for not very pleasant reads, being slow-paced and without the wits. Tyrion’s turn to a mummer in the second half of the book also never really feels right, although at least his witty remarks come back in that half. 

Daenerys’ plot is complicated and involves several very strange names, with the gaps between her chapters being filled only by stray remarks, so it will be up to the first re-read to fully comprehend what happens in Meereen. The whole city is a bee hive of intrigue and murder, and the situation worsens by the minute. Dany fails on many levels, political as well as personal. Her freeing the slaves didn’t bring the new world she wanted. Slavery is soon reestablished in all but name, war is on her door where she wants peace, and the dragons elude her grasp. Fortunately for her she is way too wrapped up in the politics to give it much thought. 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t give very much to the reader. The light that Ser Barristan promised to shed on Rhaegar and Aerys Targaryen, her ancestors, her traditions and heritage doesn’t come to us the whole book. Only in one of his own chapters, Barristan for a short while muses on the tourney of Harrenhal, and although this short musing will provide stuff for our most favorite theories, we are not closer to a conclusion than before and don’t really learn much. 

Baby Aegon being alive is a plot point I disliked from the beginning. It just seems too much. Including Bloodraven, there are five Targaryens left after Robert seized the throne. While two of them are dead now, the reinstating of the dynasty and the drama of Daenerys being the last one (and unfertile besides) is lessened gravely by these events, and neither Jon Connington nor Aegon reach any depth of character worth mentioning in “A Dance with Dragons”. Together with the mediocre Tyrion chapters, this is the greatest disappointment in the book. 

For all this, the northern storylines make up tenfold, however. Jon’s chapters are brilliant, well written, exiting and full of flavor. The same is true for Theon’s chapters, however, they are repulsive in their ugliness and all the blood that comes in them. What Ramsay does to Theon is really sickening, and you will come close to retching once or twice at least reading his chapters. The writing however is brilliant. The ascent of Stannis also makes for great reading. He is not exactly a likeable person in any respect, but before the Bolton rule we see through the eyes of Theon, his burning of people (gruesomely written as well) seems almost gentle. 

I’m a bit disappointed by the Bran chapters, to be honest. There are only three of them, and there aren’t many mysteries revealed. Instead, we’re plunging headlong into the Children of the Forest and the Last Greenseer. It is very well written, make no mistake, but it all seems a bit rushed. Bran’s new powers and the strange and hostile lands divert him more and more from Meera and Jojen, and he uses Hodor as a tool more and more. These developments as a character don’t really have much room, however, since he quickly learns from Bloodraven how to warg into weirwoods. Then we never hear from Bran again for the last two thirds of the book. 

If there is one topic that prevails the whole book, it’s failure. Tyrion fails to reach Daenerys. Daenerys fails to rule her city and to control her dragons. Connington fails to reach Dany. Martell fails to marry Daenerys or to control the dragons. Stannis fails in defeating Ramsay Bolton. Jon fails in persuading the Watch that what he does is necessary. Even Melisandre fails in what she wants to accomplish. The tone is bleak, and occasional sparks of hope are quenched soon enough. The few things that are accomplished are soon turned to ash. 

That all being said, is the new book bad? By no means. Over some parts, it’s unsatisfying, to be sure. Things go badly, and the wrong people come out on the winning side. But that’s how it is in Westeros and Essos. That’s what makes Martin great. The only real downers over the whole experience are Tyrion’s chapters and the scarcity of information on Bran, but then, it’s highly up to your own preferences. One thing I know: when Martin killed Jon Snow, it was the Red Wedding all over again. Knives were twisted not only in his stomach, but in mine own too. Twists like this make “The Song of Ice and Fire” such a unique experience. I for myself can’t wait for the day when the winds of winter blow over Westeros.

Kommentare:

  1. Thanks you very very much for these review :) Very interesting.

    I don't know if I will like this book. Some narrative choices sound someway unconvincing...

    I've made some comments and questions to you in the Tower of Hand recaps!

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  2. Thanks a lot! I'll try to cover all the chapter commentary these days, but it's 73 posts that I can't have shown all at once, which makes it rather tedious. I hope I can be of service nonetheless.

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  3. My questions are in the two Arya chapters ;)
    I've also made a comment in the last chapter... but it's more a comment than a question :-)

    Arya chapters are the 45th and the 64th, if I remember correctly...

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  4. I agree with you that the Essos POVs were quite a mess and disappointing whereas the story in the North was the strong part of ADwD.

    Some nitpicks:

    I see no reason to think that Coldhands was killed before Benjen went missing.

    There is no proof that "Aegon" is really Aegon.

    Jon being dead is plausible but not established.

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  5. Thanks you!
    I made some other questions in Arya chapters.
    Sorry if I annoy you, but I'm a HUGE Arya fan and I'm really excited to know the new stuff about her after 6 years :D
    Answer me if you have time ^^''

    The Aegon thing sounds a little random. If he's a guy we haven't met yet, I se no reason to care about him. It's not a good thing introducing such an important character in the sixth book!

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  6. Thanks so much for your time and insights. Very much appreciated!!

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  7. Some word of characters like Patchface, Salladhor Saan, Edric Storm or Marwyn? Thanks :)

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  8. I only have this to say , you lucky bastard.

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  9. Couldn't Ghost have turned up as Jon was passing out? Kind of a deus ex machina, but I think it'd work.

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  10. @Anonym: Well, since Coldhands mentioned being "long dead", I don't think it's likely that he's Benjen. I don't know, it's just a gutfeeling. Concerning Aegon, no, there is no proof, but if it was a sham it would be one carefully orchestrated over very long years, from the very infancy of this Aegon. So, in the end, it doesn't matter since no one could find a proof that it was not him. And about Jon, no, we can't be sure, but it's highly likely.
    @AryaSnow: Exactly my reasons why I was disappointed with this story arc. But it is possible that it will provide us with some serious character drama once Daenerys gets up her ass.
    @Anonym: Thanks, it was a pleasure!
    @Grumkin:
    Patchface: Still with Selyse and Shireen, talking stupid stuff "under the sea..."
    Salladhor Saan: Deserts Stannis because he's not paid.
    Edric Storm: No word.
    Marwyn: No word.
    @Anonym: Yeah, that's me.
    @Anonym: No, and what would he have done? Jon was dying, and Ghost was no healer. He could have killed one or two of the murderes, but then? Nothing else left. Besides, Ghost was locked up in Jon's rooms because of another warg presented.

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  11. My guess, is Jon dies, but Melisandre will administer the kiss of life.
    That may seem a bit tacky, but hey if Bloodraven can live on after death why not Snow?
    Furthermore what other POV can Martin use to tell the story of the North effectively/

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  12. Theon, Asha, Dolorous Edd, just make use of some of the established chars? You could make a POV of Stannis. Or any of his knights. Of Leather. Of Mance Rayder. Of the Boltons. Endless possibilities.

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  13. Did you miss the other interesting thing about Patchface in the book?

    I think the "Is Ghost present," question is because of the prior statements that if a skinchanger dies, they can warg their spirits into the animal permanantly. That could be an option for Jon. Though I'm not sure a whole book of Jon-as-Ghost POVs would be even remotely convincing.

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  14. As I stated earlier, the prologue sets up that Wargs live on in their beasts, but use their personality.

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  15. Stefan, danke schoen!
    Thanks a lot! That was really much needed and is appreciated.

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  16. I'm not optimisting on this one :(

    P.S Any hope of you scaning the book and uploading it?
    Can't wait 12th July ^^

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  17. Fuck. Seriously! Jon Snow and Tyrion is sold to a slaver dies but Catelyn and Gregor are revived and Cersei has to walk through a city naked?

    Let's get this right. Daenerys's plot continues (which from this review sounds fucking ridiculous). Cersei's plot continues. Brienne's plot continues. Arya's plot continues (which was already fucking ridiculous). Sansa's plot continues.

    From someone who says he has a hard time writing women, he sure kills off a lot of the male characters.

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  18. Can you please elaborate on how Bran loses human relationship with the Reeds.
    Thank you for sharing the info, 12 days is to long in internet time.

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  19. I've heard that Martin has hard time writing Bran, not women...

    Anyway, Stefen: in your opinion, this book is better or worse than AFFC?

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  20. No chance of scanning, no.
    And why is that all ridiculous?
    The Reeds are in an environment they don't know and they can't master (so Meera is useless) and Jojen doesn't know anything anymore since they arrived (so he is useless). They also know they can't leave and don't really see the point.
    I never found AFFC to be bad as many do, I love all the books. However, ADWD contains more persons I like and more plotlines I have personal stakes in, so it pleases me more to read.

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  21. I didn't find AFFC bad, but I still think it's the worst of the first four books.

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  22. I wouldn't say worst, but least compelling. The writing continues to be excellent, but the story slows down and we miss some beloved characters.

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  23. I'm not convinced that Jon is actually gone for good since the scene pretty much just fades into black and actually took place in his own POV, while all major character deaths so far were seen from an outside POV (Ned -> Sansa; the Red Wedding etc.) with the exception of Catelyn (who returned shortly thereafter).
    As far as the Tyrion chapters are concerned: I rather liked how they showed that his ingenuity and capabilities go beyond bribing/paying off mercenaries.

    Setting up the last two books in the series I think that Martin has actually done a nice job hacking apart his Mereenese Knot and moving the pieces into place. Barristan Selmy organizes the defense, Tyrion sways over the Company of the Second Sons, Victarion breaks up the blockade of the port and Dany returns just in time with the khalasar of former Khal Jhaqo (whose men will probably recognize her from their time with Drogo and will bow down before the dragon [queen]). With this setup the whole Slaver's Bay Arc may be resolved, especially if we take the final Daenerys chapter and look at how she actually comes to terms with her past errors and looks more decisively towards Westeros.

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  24. Catelyn died very much in her own POV, and that she returned (and there is not much of her left) is no indication that the same will happen to Jon.
    Concerning Meereen, I agree.

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  25. Wasn't Aegon supposed to be killed by Gregor? (Rhaenys was the one killed by Amory).

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  26. But the point is Jon did not die. It ends with him in a very bad condition yes, but it ends on a cliffhanger with him being knocked unconscious.

    Usually when you kill a character you say for certain they are DEAD you don't end the book with the character "dying" which a chance to be revived.

    Still annoying to have to wait YEARS to find out. I hate these type of cliffhangers. Either kill the character or don't. Don't leave the readers hanging because that is even more upsetting.

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  27. Oops meant to say with a chance to be revived...

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  28. So we still haven't found out what Brienne's one word was. I guess "sword" is still the most likely answer, but it's funny that it's been turned into a cliffhanger yet again. And the whole Meereen plotline sounds rather unsatisfying. Dany is probably the character I want to succeed more than anyone else.

    IMO, Varys and Littlefinger have long been the most interesting characters in Westeros. They're quite powerful, pulling the strings behind many of the major events in the Seven Kingdoms. But their motives have been unclear. Varys is now truly revealed; the mummer has his dragon. He'll "serve the realm" by installing Aegon.

    But that still leaves Baelish. Much of his scheming lead to him controlling The Vale. But why does he want it? And why did he kill Joffrey? Is he going to be a major player in coming events? Surely he's no ally of Varys.

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  29. Hello Stefan,

    Thank you so much for essentially liveblogging your reading on the Tower of the Hand. I followed from almost the beginning--it was like listening to an old 1930s radio serial.

    Your mastery of English is excellent as well!

    Do you follow Mr. Martin's Not-a-Blog? He ain't happy about the Amazon.de screw-up release and makes it very clear to his readership. Honestly I found his response immature and tasteless. I can certainly understand some anger about people throwing around spoilers in the same way that happened for Harry Potter and Half Blood Prince, but his calling for the spiked head of the individual(s) responsible for the mistake was way, way out of line. Even more out of line was the behavior of Parris, his wife, who flat out said that anyone spoiling anything should be given to Ramsay Bolton. Following the spiked head comment, I didn't think it was meant to be taken in jest either.

    Anyway, thanks again for sharing your reading and NOT staying silent, which is frankly an absurd request in our day of Twitter and blogs. Your review is clearly marked as a spoiler and for those of us who want to be spoiled we should have every opportunity.

    I do have a quick question for you. Janos Slynt and Alliser Thorne... you didn't mention them. Did Jon deal with them in some way, or were they the masterminds of the assassination? I really hope they didn't just exit stage right chased by a bear... in other words not show up at all.

    I am part of a Martin fan forum (one of the "unofficial" ones that's totally open and not censored) and several of us have been following your Dance reading with great interest. You've picked up some fans yourself!

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  30. you said,
    Take into account that the whole Tyrion storyline was changed in the mid of the writing process,


    what do you mean by that? i hadn't heard anything like this?

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  31. Jon gave Janos Slynt the order to lead a group to restore one of the abandoned castles which Slynt openly refused even in public. Jon then first sentenced him to death by hanging but changed his mind in a nice nod to Eddard and beheaded Slynt himself. Alliser Thorne was still alive and at large as Jon decided to keep him close at Castle Black.

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  32. @TE: Yeah, seems to be "sword".
    @Geshtar: Thanks for your kind words and support, really appreciate it! I concur with all you said, and yes, I read Not-a-blog. And I didn't think Martin was right.
    @Anonym: As far as I know - but that needn't be correct - MArtin changed his initial Tyrion plot in midwriting, which contributed to the length of the process.
    @Dominik: Exactly.

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  33. The more I think about your review, the more I fear that this book sucks :-( You say that you like it, so maybe reading it is different than reading a recap but... I feel a little down...

    Don't you have the feeling that GRRM hasn't really a plan for the story and that he's losing control of the storylines?
    You also say that he changed Tyrion's storyline...

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  34. Not at all. I really like the book, and at the end, the storylines seem to connect, definitely. It was a period of slowdown we witnessed, the country holding breath, some characters getting lost - but in the end, most are getting back on track. Read it.

    As another anouncment: I have decided to start a new blog for my re-read of ADWD, which will start tomorrow. Check it out at http://adwd-reread.blogspot.com/

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  35. For instance, why to introduce Quentyn, even giving him a PoV for 4 chapters, if he died so soon? Has he been someway useful to the story or to the characters?

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  36. That's right. I'm saving my final assertment of the situation to the re-read.

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  37. Well... to me, Quentyn continued the plot from AFFC in which Doran Martell tries to bring back the Targaryens as rightful rulers in an alliance with his own house. It also emphasises the enormous struggle to gain control over Daenarys and her dragons by various factions both from Westeros (Euron, Victarion on his own agenda and the Martells) and the East (most importantly Hizdahr). And while it may not have been necessary with Victarion to fill in that role it also serves as a reminder to the overarching theme of the series, in which the current dilemmas and struggles are substantially based upon the actions taken during Robert's Rebellion. Finally, most of the POVs in the East are (at least to my mind) useful if not necessary to accurately describe the situation in Meereen without having to resort to even more Daenerys chapters (which might also be the reasoning behind having the Barristan Selmy POV in there at the end).
    So, while his actions and tragic end may not have been strictly necessary from a pure story-telling perspective (the dragons being released by Barristan to save them from Hizdahr might have been another viable path for George R.R. Martin), I nevertheless found them to be consistent with the general flow of the plot in ADwD.

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  38. I concur. Check out http://adwd-reread.blogspot.com/. If it is possible, I would like you to ask to continue the discussion there.

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  39. It is exactly what I feared:

    1. Everything that is new, i could already guess from the other books.

    2. More senseless and boring stuff on Dany.

    3. More cliffhangers, like "oh, he is dead", and then "oh no, he is not dead...".

    4. A lot of chapters, that you can completely leave out, because:
    a. they have nothing to do with the general plot
    b. unimportant persons are involved
    c. long and boring descriptions of eating, clothes, crimes, sex and endless talking about eating, clothes, crimes, sex
    d. again the good ones are so stupid that their enemies have no problems at all
    e. and 300 pages you will have forgotten most of that rubish anyway

    5. And like always:
    In the end you feel like "Ok, a lot of boring stuff, nothing really happended, but in the next book, then the action will finally start!"

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  40. Also, I don't think George's reaction was out of line. he's upset that the books got out before their time, and now the read and reaction for fans will be uneven and any jerks will take full advantage of the situation to either post fake spoilers, or to ruin the experience for those who don't want to be spoiled. It's a very big mess as, even though I'm grateful to you Stefan, I'm also rather resentful that I still have to wait. I would never have been tempted to read, or even bothered by the wait, if the book hadn't been released early to only a few. The knowledge created a turmoil in my head, and I was divided between wanting to know, and wanting to wait. In the end I chose for myself, but I'm a little mad that the situation happened in the first place.

    Therefore, I don't see why George is out of line for being irritated.

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  41. @Anonym: if after every book you have felt that way, why have you read 4 of them? :O

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  42. @Ducky: He's not out of line for being irritated, but for threatening head on a spike.

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  43. Can you elaborate at all on the situations of Asha Greyjoy and Sansa Stark?

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  44. No. Sansa is not mentioned once in the whole book, and Asha is captive with Stannis' host, so if Stannis really lost - which I doubt - Asha is too.

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  45. Stefan, ich habe hier runtergescrollt, ohne eine Zeile nach deiner letzten Warnung zu lesen, aber es war schwer, soo schwer... Kannst du bitte, bitte eine spoilerfreie Rezension veröffentlichen? Ich brauche irgendwas, an das ich mich die naechsten 9 Tage klammern kann ;-) Vielen Dank im Voraus!

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  46. Hi Bozo,

    ich kann mir schwerlich vorstellen wie das gehen soll^^ In Kurzform: gutes Buch, anfangs etwas Längen, Tyrion-Kapitel beim ersten Mal lesen etwas lahm. Schwerpunkte liegen in Meereen und den dortigen Verwicklungen sowie im Norden, hier zwei Schwerpunkte: Jons Versuche, die Wildlinge in die Verteidigung der Mauer einzubinden und Stannis Versuche, Verbündete und den Kampf gegen die Boltons zu gewinnen. Die Teile im Norden tendenziell besser als die in Meereen.

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  47. Nachdem ich das Buch abgeschlossen habe, muss ich ehrlich sagen, dass es mir lieber gewesen wäre, Martin hätte darauf verzichtet, die Charaktere aus AFfC noch einmal in ADwD unterzubringen. Damit meine ich insbesondere die Kapitel von Cersei, Jaime und Arya. Zum einen bringen sie die Storyline jeweils nur wenig weiter, zum anderen nehmen sie den Platz weg, den andere Handlungsstränge zur besseren Auflösung benötigt hätten. Die Hauptcharaktere des Buches Jon, Daenerys und Tyrion hängen am Ende des Buches in der Luft, ähnliches gilt für Davos, Theon und Asha. Und auch die Geschehnisse um Bran werden in meinen Augen nicht befriedigend beschrieben. Aber das ist auch die Problematik, die schon bei AFfC aufgetreten ist. In den ersten drei Büchern hat Martin die Handlungsstränge der Charaktere meist an wichtigen Wegpunkten beendet, jetzt geht er immer mehr dazu über, die Handlungsstränge mit Cliffhangern zu beenden. Das ist in meinen Augen keine positive Entwicklung. Ansonsten gibt es aber auch viel gutes über das Buch zu berichten. Es ist wieder grandios geschrieben, anders als Stefan haben mir insbesondere die Tyrion- und Dany-Kapitel sehr gut gefallen, auch wenn zwischendurch immer mal wieder Hänger auftraten. Die Highlights waren aber sicher die Kapitel im Norden (Jon, Asha, Theon, Davos). Insgesamt bin ich deswegen etwas enttäuscht von dem Buch, weil ich glaube, dass es qualitativ durchaus in die Nähe von ASoS hätte kommen können, wenn Martin die wichtigen Handlungsstränge besser abgeschlossen hätte.

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  48. No-one's followed the development of ADWD closer than myself, and I've never heard that GRRM changed Tyrion's story substantively. Indeed, his entire arc in ADWD seems to have been foreshadowed a lot by earlier developments.

    The only change I can think of is that GRRM at one time thought that Tyrion would only have 7 POV chapters, and he ended up with more. Other than that I don't think his story was rethought a lot.

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  49. In that case I'm wrong. I thought he rewrote the part where he falls into slavers hands.

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  50. @rheagar:

    Ich finde auch, dass es langsam ein bisschen übertrieben mit den Cliffhangern am Ende der Kapitel wird. Die Krönung ist wohl das letzte Kapitel von Jon.

    Vor allem, weil die Logik gebietet, dass er nicht tot sein (bzw. bleiben) kann, ohne dass neue POV-Charaktere eingeführt werden. Denn GRRM wird unter gar keinen Umständen einen der Hauptorte der Geschichte (Castle Black) wegfallen lassen und Melisandre wird nicht dort oben bleiben.

    Außerdem: p408 "I pray for a glimpse of Azor Ahai, and R'hllor shows me only Snow"...
    Ich bezweifle, dass der Auserwählte bereits zwei Bücher vor Schluss umgebracht wird.

    Genauso wird Stannis nochmal auftauchen, weil wir seinen Tod nicht beobachten konnten und alle wichtigen Charaktere, ob POV oder nicht, die Neigung haben, wieder aufzustehen, wenn ihr Tod nicht live geschildert wird.

    Wenn die beiden aber am Leben bleiben, ist auf den fast 1000 Seiten eigentlich fast nichts geschehen, außer viel Herumreisen.

    Das Buch ist wirklich nicht schlecht, aber irgendwie fehlen mir ein bisschen die dauerhaften Auswirkungen. Normalerweise sollte man erwarten, dass die Welt im Buch nach 1000 Seiten nicht mehr die selbe ist wie vorher.

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  51. Die dauerhaften Auswirkungen sind da, nur nicht auf den ersten Blick ersichtlich. Siehe auch mein Re-read-Project, wo das Ganze etwas ausführlicher daherkommt:
    http://adwd-reread.blogspot.com/

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  52. What is the other interesting thing about Patchface? Is it the Melisandre comment about seeing him with skulls all around him?

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  53. I'm fairly certain Jon will be fine from what I've read so far in terms of spoilers, though perhaps you can confirm or deny them for me?

    First off, the prologue makes mention of being able to warg a second life in the event of that persons death correct? And from what I know Ghost is locked up safetly at the moment. And Jon's last word was "Ghost" as well. If these things are true, and if you can confirm them, then I think Jon will be fine.

    Second Mel had a chapter as well correct, from what I read on other spoilers apparently had visions of Jon. They ran along the lines of only seeing him in her visions of Azor Ahai, and that she also sees Jon going from man, to beast, and back to man.

    Finally, isn't the room also filling up with Jon's friends and wild-ling allies as well? Its not like he's completely alone with his assailants is he?

    If you can confirm all or most of these features, then 9/10 I'd say Jon's probably going to make it through this alright, though it will be a pain to wait, see and confirm.

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  54. You can warg into an animal, but you gradually lose your human identity after doing so. But warging into Ghost might be a decent temporary hiding place.

    Jon is out in the open rather than in a room, and it's true his wildling allies are there as well. But he's already taken a knife in the belly and one between the shoulder blades, and it's suggested he's stabbed a third time after collapsing. I don't know that Westerosi medicine, unaided by magic, could heal that.

    I don't think Jon will die permanently of his wounds, or even cease to be a POV character necessarily, but I do think this attack will have serious and lasting consequences. I wouldn't be surprised if his body dies and Melisandre has to revive him, with all the psychological consequences such a resurrection entails.

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  55. In the cases that we know though, none of the other resurrected characters had a wolf to hide their conciseness in, so perhaps Jon will emerge mostly intact versus the others.

    Keeping his body preserved might not be as difficult either, but we'll see. Arrgghh, cannot wait for Winds of Winter with so much suspense now :(

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  56. @Krimzon: Yes, he'll most likely get a second life, but the prologue also states that the man vanished and only the beast remains, so that's not exactly solace.

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  57. Overtime though correct? So if they can revive Jon fast enough he should be fine.

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  58. I still don't see how. Stabs in the gut aren't something that can be healed in a medieval world. If he can be saved, then rather by Mel's magic. I'm more convinced than ever, however, that Mel's prophecy from wolf and man and wolf again will be true.

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  59. Seems the most likely, though I think one of the other commenters about Bran possibly helping might be something to consider, though more likely to keep Jon's mind intact during his second life until his revival

    I thought the vision was read as man to wolf to man again wasn't it? In that sense then yes, I think the vision will come true. Might make for a possible Prince that was Promised moment while we're speculating.

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  60. Yeah, misspoke here ^^ Your's right of course.
    I'm still not comfortable about Jon being Tpwwp. He's the sword in the darkness, not the leader of Westeros. That's Dany, if anyone.

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  61. Dany I think has proven more then anything in Meeren that she isn't the the type of leader for Westeros. I think ultimately she'll restore her family, but stay in Essos herself as a Khalessi. Jon on the other hand has proven a very able and good leader as LC, he just needs to learn from this moment about internal politics

    I'm more interested in how Aegon's return will affect either her claim or Jon's (Tyrion doesn't count since he'd be a bastard if he really was Aerys son)

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  62. Nooooooooo! Not Jon Snowwwwwww!!!!!

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  63. so some interesting things I noticed while reading the book

    1. Melisandre thinks Bloodraven and Bran are servants of the Great Other, she might even try to attack them magically. She also thought "fingerbones" might create a good glamour, has she somehow acquired Davos'?

    2. What happened allegedly to Hardhome 600 years ago sounds much like what happened in Valyria during the doom.

    3. Tyrion raises a very good point as to why the Valyrians never invaded Westeros. Maybe because of the greenseers?

    4. Theon Greyjoy seems to have been castrated as well as having various digits etc removed. I think it was so traumatic he can't think about it.

    5. How the fuck did Jon think he was going to be able to destroy Ramsay Bolton with a handful of wildlings if the Boltons destroyed Stannis with all his power? Just a bizzare decision. While Jon seems to be making good decisions otherwise, he systematically sends his friends away and this bites him in the butt. Clearly he's not dead, red priests are good healers as the one with Victarion proved and Mel isn't going to let Jon die.

    6. with the hints of Azhor Ahai being Jon and Dany being the Prince that was promised, it seems like they are separate people.

    7. Dany vowed back in AGOT that Jhaqo and his bloodrider Maqho would die screaming. She's in perfect position to do this now. If AFFC was about Cersei ruling and ADWD about Dany ruling, the comparison isn't particularly flattering to either.

    8. Wtf is up with not telling us ANYTHING about Dark Sister or Blackfyre? I thought this was the book that would show us the sword. Very disappointing that the Golden Company did not produce it.

    9. Kevan seems to have had a bit of a pervie crush on Cersei. Also confirmed; Peter Baelish; pedophile.

    10. Most disappointing character; Quentyn Martell. Dany should have married him and he shouldn't have fancied himself a dragon tamer. To have him die as he did, eck.

    11. Most out of the field moment; GRRM's support for Aerys + Joanna= Tyrion shippers. Seriously?

    12. the writing was curiously flat, so flat at that times it felt like a parody of what people were imagining. For instance the Brienne-Jaime confrontation, and the brief scene in Dorne was also pretty unsatisfactory. There were some good lines though; the north remembers and the scene in the dungeons of the Dreadfort was genuinely chilling.

    13. The Braavosi banker came from Deepwood so presumably Stannis recieves news of Arnolf Karstark's duplicity. He may be dead or no, but clearly he did lose the battle against the Boltons since Ramsay was in a position to write the letter and make these claims.

    14. As Queen's Hand Barristan Selmy systematically dismantled the alliances Dany made for her city. Battle is folly, especially against Qarth and Volantis together. Although the red priests clearly are on Dany's side.

    15. so far we are told little or nothing about what the Greenseers/children of the forest are doing against the Others. We don't even see Bloodraven playing any effective part in protecting the realms of men.

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  64. @Anonym: Thanks for the analysis! I'm excited to see if I will come to the same conclusions after my reread.

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  65. Some thoughts on the previous post.

    3. Why would greenseers make a difference against Valyria and not against say, the Andal invasion of Westeros beforehand?

    5. I thought it was implied that Jon had several thousand wildlings available among those he let past the Wall, combine that with Stannis garrison force on the Wall and the Night's Watch itself he could have made a fight of it.

    I think as Stefan may have mentioned before, he made the best decisions as Lord Commander, even if they weren't best for him. Sending his most able and trustworthy men away to command the garrisons makes sense on face value, given the need to control the uneasy alliance between the Night's Watch, Stannis's men, and the wildlings. Sending active opponents and agitators instead would have been equally disastrous. That and Brown's actions were extremely irrational, given that Jon's Wildling allies were also with him when he and his conspirators attacked.

    6. Or two sides of the same coin. You know, the Song of Ice AND Fire. Gets more complicated when you add Aegon in the mix.

    12. They were more like brief update scenes to keep people aware of what was happening in those places, while focusing back onto the main storylines.

    13. I get the impression that the snow and winter have made the situation into a stalemate and with Stannis trapped (in Winterfell of Deepwood?) he's more or less contained for Ramsey to try to deal with Jon.

    14. They were going to turn on Dany anyway were they not? I thought Barristan was just doing what he could to clean up the mess Dany left him in. He should be fine though, what with Victarion's fleet arriving, Dany gathering a new khalessar, and Tyrion working the Second Sons to switch over again.

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  66. Jon's decision are justifiable to him, and to us as readers, because we can see what his logic is. To people who can't read his mind, it looks like this untried teenage leader who has just come from weeks or months among the wildlings is now inviting overwhelming numbers of the Watch's traditional enemies into the realm, and prioritizing their needs, and those of Stannis, above the Watch. And he caps it off by declaring an intention to break his oaths and lead a wildling army against the son of the present Warden of the North. To traditional members of the Watch, that's the ultimate betrayal, and possibly proof that he was never really loyal. Jon repeatedly declares "This is what we're doing," and doesn't make enough effort to justify those plans. They may eventually turn out to be wise policy, but having good ideas isn't enough: you have to make them palatable to the people who carry them out.

    Before leaving with Sam, Aemon tells Jon to become a good leader by "kill[ing] the boy" within him. Unfortunately, he does that by sending away all his friends and allies (Sam, Aemon, Pyp, Grenn, even Dolorous Edd), leaving him with no one to tell him how thoroughly he's losing the loyalty of the influential men at Castle Black.

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  67. Part of me rather doubt that whatever Jon said to some of them would have ever made a difference, in many of their eyes he was already damned, and they were mainly looking for the excuse/opportunity to act out their prejudices and disagreements despite how irrational they might have been. Mainly, I can only fault Jon for not finding some reason to take all the heads of Janos' inner ring, though I would understand the trepidation of killing off too many of them given how weak the Watch currently is and the impression that would leave of his command.

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  68. Some of them wouldn't have been reached, sure, but Jon ~won an election.~ In the beginning, he has more supporters than detractors by definition. But he makes no real effort to convince anyone, even those who aren't already his enemies. And he people who attack him have nothing to do with Janos' allies; Jon's problem is larger than that, and wouldn't be solved by a spate of unjustified beheadings.

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  69. Bowen Marsh was a supporter of Janos though was he not? And he's more or less the leader of this little conspiracy it seems. I get the impression this was mostly from the opponents of Jon from the very beginning, and that the majority of the Night's Watch did comply with his orders.

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  70. Bowen Marsh is not presented as one of Slynt's cronies. He supported Slynt as a candidate during the election after his own candidacy ended, yes; so did a lot of people who wanted the support from the Iron Throne that Slynt's election would have guaranteed. (Again, the readers have a better idea of how awful Slynt is than the characters at the Wall do.) But in DANCE Marsh repeatedly gives honest counsel and tries to warn Jon that he's turning the men against him. He doesn't agree with Jon's policies, but that doesn't make him an enemy. There's no sign that anyone is plotting against Jon until he declares an intention to break his oaths. Which, you may recall, carries a death sentence.

    Only two people are confirmed to be involved in the attack on Jon: Bowen Marsh and Wick Whittlestick, one of the stewards. Neither of them is ever identified as one of Slynt's allies; Marsh is specifically said to be sitting at a different from Slynt, Thorne, and their cronies when Jon announces Slynt's execution. I'm not saying the attack is a good idea, or even morally justifiable, but in the context of the novel it's not a question of Jon the Brilliant Hero vs. the Dastardly Traitors.

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  71. I can see some of your points, though if from the excerpts I've read in regards to that particular scene I don't get the impression Bowen was all that agreeable with what happened to Slynt, and that the act itself more or less cowed him for a time until he snapped. Also, his own views seemed to have coincided with Slynts as well in order to offer his support in the first place. I'm not saying they were necessarily under Slynt's direct control, but I tend to think his views were representative of a portion of the Night's Watch which Bowen was likely a part of.

    Also, I can't really say one could trust Bowen's counsel on a lot of things, given that Bowen's own bias' seemed to have clouded a lot of it. It isn't enough to indicate for me that the majority of the Night's Watch were so dissatisfied with Jon's command beyond those that were originally against him. As you seem to be indicating the action itself now seems to be more of a spontaneous one in this light.

    Also, Jon had some arguments in his favor that he was simply acting in self-defense versus Ramsey who was infringing on the sovereignty of the Watch, I doubt any other Lord Commander would have been able to take the threats against them and the Watch lying down.

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  72. These are valid points, but still I don't think that Marsh planned the kill from the start.

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  73. Bowen's dialogue in STORM suggests that he supports Slynt because Tywin does, and he thinks Tywin will hold the Iron Throne. There's no other sign anywhere in STORM or DANCE that they have similar views on how to run the Watch (Slynt barely expresses views on how to run the Watch), or similar hostility to Jon. Marsh is cautious verging on cowardly; he's not likely to move against Jon if the latter has the support of most of the ordinary men, especially with wildlings all around. And he has tears running down his cheeks when he stabs Jon. This is not someone who is taking action lightly, is acting out a repressed hostility, or has snapped.

    There's nothing in the book to suggest Marsh's counsel and perspective is in any way biased. It emerges from a different personality and a different view of the Watch's purpose than Jon's, but that doesn't make it valueless. Unlike Slynt, Marsh has had a long career in the Watch, none of it linked to southern politics; he got his position by being a good steward.

    If Jon has an argument about self-defense and Ramsay infringing on the Watch, he fails to make it... which comes back to my point about Jon not knowing how to win the Watch over to his point of view. But I don't think he has any such argument.

    All of Jon's thoughts while deciding what to do are personal ones, about his memories of Winterfell. He doesn't once think of self-defense, which would be a hard argument to make when all Ramsay has done is send a threatening letter. Especially since Jon started the conflict between the Watch and the Boltons by sending several wildlings to kidnap Bolton's royally-approved bride, whom he believes to be his sister. And that action is specifically mentioned in the letter, which is read out to the Watch directly before the attack on Jon.

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  74. I personally think that Marsh and several co-conspirators were weary of Jon's politics, regarding them as hard on the line of betrayal. One the one hand, he is very close with the wildlings to whom he defected once before, on the other hand he is handing over too much to a doomed pretender and engaging the Watch in the war, effectively. Marsh has serious concerns about the survival of the Watch, judging rightly that the Iron Throne would never let all this pass once Stannis is defeated. I assume he and the other conspirators had decided to kill Jon should he openly betray the Watch. When he declared his intent to march on Winterfell, that moment had come, and they just had to look each other in the eye to start the action, since they are armed all the time anyway.

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  75. Agreed. Their position on Stannis may be a little hypocritical, since I don't imagine Bowen Marsh and his allies would be able to stand up to Stannis any better than Jon does, but the wildlings... Jon loses sight of the fact that he trusts the wildlings only because he spent so much time with them, forgetting that, to the old men of the Watch, the "free folk" are an old enemy, nearly as inhuman as the Others, whom very few of those at Castle Black have ever seen.

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  76. And all this raises an interesting question: what is the Watch ~supposed~ to do when the Lord Commander is an oathbreaker? The only previous example I can think of is the legendary Night's King, who reportedly bound the Watch to him with sorcery; I wonder if the laws and customs of the current-day Watch have a mechanism for removal, other than "stab him a bunch of times while saying 'For the Watch.'"

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  77. Slynt's views seemed rather apparent in his whole-hearted assailment of Jon's character, revealing an anti-wilding stance, and his use of cowing the fears of people like Bowen with his connection to Tywin, along with the general resentment of Stannis imposing himself on them. Perhaps Slynt doesn't have any particular views himself, but I think he moved to try and cultivate towards a demographic within the watch in order to gain their support in the election, which included Bowen, and whose advice I think is a more refined picture of what that demographics stance is.

    True, in regards to Bowen's character, which is partly why I think he also bends the knee too Jon after he killed Slynt, but given that Jon's announcement seemed rather sudden I doubt the attack on him was planned out to such a degree. You also note the many disagreements they have over the course of the book, which set up a building resentment of Jon's leadership (not of Jon himself then) within Bowen over time, which I think contributes to him finally 'snapping' (out of fear rather then hostility then) when Jon makes his decision to challenge Ramsey. It was extremely rash to kill Jon in the middle of the wildlings, who outnumber the other NW brothers as is, I think given what we've discussed so far Bowen and his colleagues simply carried out the action because he felt he had to in his mind for the Watch, but I don't think that is relative to having the majority of the Watch backing him on it. The wildlings outnumber the Brothers quite substantially at this point, and they're already beyond the wall as it is, I don't see Bowen in any way having some thought out plan, he seems to be acting out of sheer impulse in the need to remove Jon and to stop them from marching.

    I'm not saying its bias against Jon persay, I think its bias in that he has a different perspective from within the Watch, and that he was not going to be able to reconcile with Jon on the matter. That said I still don't think that Bowen's view is indicative of the Watch's view as a whole beyond those who were already weary of Jon to begin with (which still makes up a few hundred people as Jon himself notes in regards to those who supported Slynt over him). Jon's friends and supporters might have had their misgivings in terms of his command style, but I in no way think that they would have been so swayed as to back a coup against him unless they already were to begin with. Very likely we'll see the Night's Watch fraction by Winds of Winter amongst those who were against Slynt and those who remain loyal to Jon and are outraged by this assassination.

    True, Jon might have simply used it as an excuse as to why he makes the decision, but from the comments and reports I've read he did use Ramsey's threat to march on the Wall as justification to move against Ramsey now, which I from my view falls under using the self-defense argument. And I thought Mel started the conflict in regards to Mance? It wasn't really clear to me how much Jon was in the know about all that since he's only told later by Mel

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  78. I think it all comes down to semantics at this point, between those who supported Jon and those who are against. As I said, I do not believe for that Bowen managed to somehow get the majority of the Watch beyond those who already disagreed and were leary of Jon to begin with. Either side will make the interpretation that they're on the right side of things at this point, and they'll likely break down into bitter infighting. That's usually how it always works out it seems, look at what happens why you try to remove the tyrannical King that's supposed to be acting for the good of the realm?

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  79. Also, I think Jon rated too highly his men's ability to put aside their see the bigger picture and concentrate on the threat the Watch was created to fight in the first place, which isn't hard to imagine given the sheer fear inducing terror they inflicted upon their return. Under that interpretation, working with the wildlings to safeguard the realm was perfectly in keeping with the oath.

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  80. We could go around and around on Bowen Marsh's motivations. All I can do is reiterate that the Watch need not be divided into the Jon camp and the Slynt camp, within everyone fitting neatly into either category, and that disagreeing with Jon's policies is not inherently a disloyal act, and need not be a sign of participation in a conspiracy against him as a person.

    I think part of the reason we're looking at this differently is that you seem to have gotten the wrong idea about what specifically Jon does in regard to Ramsay and Arya. I've read the actual book, and have been looking over the relevant passages as I write.

    "from the comments and reports I've read he did use Ramsey's threat to march on the Wall as justification to move against Ramsey now."

    No. He reads the letter, which threatens Jon personally but not the Watch, and then says "It is not for us to oppose the Bastard of Bolton, to avenge Stannis Baratheon, to defend his widow and his daughter. This ~creature~ who makes cloaks from the skins of women has sworn to cut my heart out, and I mean to make him answer for those words... but I will not ask my brothers to forswear their vows."

    He ~specifically says~ that it's not the Watch's business and constitutes oathbreaking but he's going to do it anyway. And it's clear from his reaction that he never expected anyone but the wildlings to join him. He's not trying to sway the Watch anymore.

    "It wasn't really clear to me how much Jon was in the know about all that since he's only told later by Mel"

    Again, no. Melisandre presents Jon with the plan before Mance leaves, and he does nothing to stop it. Later on he prays for Mance to find Arya and bring her to him.

    There may be a few people who are still loyal to Jon scattered among the Watch, but I doubt there'll be that many (the only people named as cheering when he announces his plan are wildlings), and like him or not, defending the actions that inspired the attack is going to be tough. And that's the bottom line: Jon declared an intention to break his oaths in an egregious way that could bring disaster down on the Watch. If he'd previously shown himself to be susceptible to argument, Marsh and the others might have tried to talk him out of it... but again, Jon doesn't budge on his decisions.

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  81. Lest it seem that I'm being too hard on Jon here, I'll add that he's a very young man, presented with an unprecedented situation that does require a nuanced view of what the Watch does and what it's for. The problem, I think, is that events beyond his control have caused the good of the Watch and his own personal opposition to the Boltons to become so intertwined that he's unable to recognize the moment when he finally crosses the line and does something that is bad for the Watch but good for him.

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  82. Which is part of my point as well, though I think camps will be divided, if over the act of killing Jon himself, between those who were loyal and those who will agree with Brown. Though that will get complicated with wildlings and Stannis/Mel forces around.

    Ah, now that I'm reading it though, I think Jon is including himself in the us, to which he's trying to differentiate the reason he goes out, and uses a personal self-defense argument by saying he means to make Bolton 'answer for these words' rather then a political one.

    Then again, Jon doesn't exactly have any authority to stop them even if he wanted too does he? Although he does peronally approve of the plan its not the same thing as he was involed or proving he was in any event.

    It was a lot to take in and not somehing it seems like the others had a chance to process before Marsh and his conspirators attacked. That said killing the Lord Commander yourself is bound to be way too controversal (along the lines of kingslaying with Jamie), it seems too spontanious and on the spot to have been approved by the others even if they didn't agree with Jon let's say. On that line, I think deep divisions are going to form among the NW in th next book (if they surviv I'd love to see the lok on their face if/when Jon comes back)

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  83. I think that reading of Jon's words requires assumptions about his devotion to the Watch that he's given Bowen Marsh and others no reason to make. I can't emphasize enough the need to separate what readers know about Jon's motives from how his actions look to people who can't see inside his head. Jon's failure to do this is the fundamental reason why he meets with such violent reprisal. (And if he really thought claiming "personal self-defense" would protect the Watch if its other leaders were to condone his bringing a wildling army to attack one of the high lords of the realm, he'd be too stupid to live anyway.)

    I'm afraid I wasn't clear. If Jon had wanted Mance not to rescue "Arya," he could have said so, and Mance wouldn't have gone. Melisandre was offering Jon a potential plan, not presenting him with an ultimatum. The fact that Mance went south means that Jon actively agreed to the plan. And even if he had been opposed (which he hadn't), he failed to say so to the Watch after he read them Bolton's letter. He had not only announced plans for future oathbreaking, but confessed a past transgression.

    Do you really think "These wildlings and I are going to march and attack the son of the Warden of the North" is something that people need to spend a long time deliberating over? Desertion is desertion. And, again, Jon has indicated repeatedly that he can't be argued with when he's made a decision. Their only viable options are to kill him or to imprison him, and with the wildlings around to free him the latter is probably too dangerous.

    I suppose that until we know what, if anything, the Watch prescribes for Lord Commanders who break their oaths (I wasn't kidding when I suggested it might be immediate execution), it's probably too soon to say how the rest of the Watch will interpret the assassination. The key thing is that Jon was the only member of the Watch planning to attack Bolton, so his death/extreme injury means that if that attack goes forward, it will be led by wildlings only and the Watch won't face reprisals. In that sense, the attack is beneficial to the Watch, and even those who disagree with the methods are likely to be pleased with the result. I should reiterate that by the end of the book there's virtually no one on the Wall who is explicitly described as loyal to Jon (except perhaps a couple recent recruits who have barely taken their oaths), and plenty of people who think he's moving in the wrong direction. And he made a point of sending away all the people who liked him personally. Maybe those of his old friends who are still at other castles along the Wall will object, though.

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  84. Now this gets into some interesting semantics that I'd like to debate. Does being a brother of the Night's Watch allow for ones own personal honor even if they forsake all others? Mormont's conversation with Jon seems to indicate so. In that case, could Jon thereby accept the letter and threat as an attack on his personal honor, and be allowed to challenge it, much say when Rickkard Stark marched up to Aerys and demanded Rhaegar face them for his crimes etc? In that sense, it would amount to a one on one duel Jon would be proposing with Ramsey, but would also be smart enough to bring an army just in case Ramsey doesn't agree. This is just me speculating on how medieval interpretation of such a letter might work, though.

    Saying yes or no technically isn't Jon's business however, Mel only offered, does it specifically show him giving approval for it to them? He probably should have clarified to the Brothers, but at the same time without proof Bolton's accusations would be just that wouldn't it, accusations? It doesn't amount to a confession on Jon's part at the very least.

    It really depends, I don't know if we can interpret Jon's words as being specifically about leaving the watch and marching to war, your words indicate a direct confrontation with Ramsey over his accusations and threats. So the question then becomes, does personal honor and safety allow a Brother to address it? At the same time, to kill him basically puts them in the middle of a bunch of peeved off wildlings, so I can't say either one was more viable then the others.

    I seriously doubt it, it was because of the personal attack on him that allowed Jon to justify the venture, his sudden demise means fraction between the shaky alliance and a large possibility of infighting among them. I know the sentiment that was running through the Watch, even among Jon's friends, but I tend to think they'd still respect him enough to object to something like that, especially those in the other forts with their own garrisons.

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  85. Also, throwing this out there but I after reading another person's report on the matter of Tyrion's parentage, it seems like a redherring on GRRM's part, the timing of Aerys interest in Joanna puts it before her marriage with Tywin, which would be well before Tyrion was born.

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  86. Don't take this the wrong way, but in places you're starting to sound like a 21st-century lawyer, arguing whatever he has to while defending Jon in a trial. One can parse everything Jon says and does in the kindest possible way, sure, but but like I've repeatedly said, there's no reason for the men of the Watch to give him that courtesy. (Having actually read the entire book, I'm not so inclined either, though that doesn't mean I approve of stabbing him.) I think you're forgetting how grimly austere life at the Wall is, and how seriously the oaths are taken.

    Jon took on a position of incredible responsibility in a harsh environment. No one made him swear his oath to the Watch, no one made him serve as Lord Commander. If he cared more about his family or his personal honor than about his oaths, he shouldn't have made those oaths his life. After creating a policy to host a rebel king (against the tradition of the Watch) and ally with the wildlings (against the tradition of the Watch), he gathered the men of Castle Black together, and read out a letter claiming that he had interfered in northern politics for personal gain and to the benefit of that rebel king, using a wildling leader who was thought dead as his tool. Instead of denying this claim, he said that he would travel south to meet the threat made by the letter, and asked a room full of his wildling allies if any of them wanted to join him, which many did. The obvious consequence of this will be the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch leading a wildling army south.

    The Night's Watch isn't a society of legal niceties. Jon Snow isn't Bill Clinton, he's not going to wriggle out of trouble by debating what the definition of the word "oath" is. Bolton's allies, including those on the Iron Throne, would not spare the rest of the Watch because Jon Snow swore that he was only fighting a duel, and these hundreds of wildlings are just here in case the other guy doesn't play fair, honest. Whatever justification for his actions Jon may have worked up (and he doesn't provide much of one, even inside his own head), there's no reason to think anyone else will care; deserters always have their reasons, after all.

    Jon had the option to wait and see whether Bolton would act on his threats. The irony is that if the Lord Commander had actually been attacked in the course of doing his duty, the men of the Watch would have defended him. Might they have been unable to protect him? Perhaps, but his oath was to work to the benefit of the Watch until death, not "until you get a threatening letter."

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  87. Oh, I'm not entirely serious about everything I'm saying, I'm just examining the semantics in trying to make sense of how Jon figured he could go since he doesn't outright say himself that he's leaving the Watch in doing so. In terms of the whole medieval psyche interpretation based on accepting a challenge in honor, it makes more sense to me given that context. I know it doesn't really matter to Marsh and those who outright disagreed with Jon, but it allows me a better understanding personally. That and I wonder if such a difference might give Jon's friends/supporters enough leeway to argue on Jon's behalf against the assassination. As I said before, I think this incident and the controversy of it will lead to a deep fissure in the Watch, or at the very least outright confusion and chaos as to what to do now.

    I generally think he followed his oaths to the best of his ability, even if he tried to find some wiggle room here and there to make some kind of difference in the outside world. And I'll make point

    1. Nobody made or was going to make an argument about whether Stannis could stay there or not, and going back to precedent the Watch has accepted outside help before from lords and Kings in the North and of the Iron Throne afterward. Stannis being a 'rebel' doesn't legally mean anything to the watch since they don't recognize whose legit or not, so I think that's a moot point.

    2. Allying with wildlings, unprecedented and going against their typical view of them is something I can understand, but the original purpose for the Watch itself was always the Others, the relationship with the wildlings was more of an unintended byproduct of the Walls construction (that and it seems the relationship wasn't so black and grey given indications of past dealings between the Watch and wildlings)

    But all that aside I agree that the legal niceties don't make a real bit of difference, it was the motivation involved and the foreseen consequences that I think frightened Marsh enough to take the action he did at that moment, and it will be that motivation and those consequences that will likely be argued amongst the Night's Watch in what I'm expecting is the ensuing divide afterwards. Heck, Marsh may even be in the legal right, but I fully expect this to be a controversial action among the NW, one that usually happens whenever you relieve someone of their remove someone by use of force.

    I'm leaning toward assuming that Jon knew exactly what the consequences were as soon as Bolton made those remarks to him, which is why I'm of the opinion that Jon did exactly what he did for the benefit of the Watch so that they wouldn't get involved in his struggle, which looks pretty hopeless either way you sliced it even if he had managed to march against Ramsey. In a way I think it more likely Jon was trying to save the Watch before Marsh decided to try and do it for him.

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  88. Some interesting points. I don't disagree that Jon's policies were defensible ones; as I said some ways upthread, they're probably what needed to be done. But the way he carried them out... well, it led to disaster, and Bowen and Co., like many people who don't hold power, have the luxury of imagining they might have done better, whether or not that's at all true.

    I agree Jon was trying to construct events so that they came out as well as possible for the Watch, given what he had chosen to do. But I also think he had let things go too far by then, to a point where nothing he could do himself would save the Watch from some kind of turmoil.

    The big reason I don't imagine there's likely to be much fighting within the Watch beyond the short term chaos immediately following the attack on Jon (a good setting for the next book's prologue, perhaps?) is that, ethics and morality aside, with Jon "dead" there's nothing to defend. I doubt many of Renly's followers approved of his death, but once he was gone there was no one other than his murderer around to support. Renly's closest supporters like Loras Tyrell and Cortnay Penrose stuck with his memory or turned against his murderer, and people like Pyp and Grenn and Satin and maybe Iron Emmett could well defend Jon's policies even once he's out of the picture. But in general I think the Wall will stabilize under its new leadership pretty quickly. (The wildlings will be another matter, but I imagine Bowen and Co. are looking forward to fighting them again.)

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  89. And I honestly don't know if Jon could have reconciled such a deep divide over some of the issues Marsh was concerned about, no matter how apparently necessary they might have been. I think there might be similar parallels to Dany in that sense, trying to bring about change in a culture that was naturally resistant too it.

    Ah, but Stannis had a scape goat through Brienne, and none of the Storm Lords could prove otherwise while Loras and Cortnay were mostly convinced of her innocence and Stannis' guilt because of the convenience to him. Beyond that Brienne will always be marked for her betrayal by those who accept the official story. Marsh isn't going to have that luxury, and I feel that his continued presence and those of his conspirators will be a constant source of controversy and tension like it was for Jamie or now Tyrion. Even excluding the Watch I highly doubt this will go over well with the Wildlings or the Stannis' men under Mel, so in all honestly I think Bowen probably screwed the Watch more then Jon probably would have had he been allowed to go in my opinion.

    But suffice it to say I think we've probably exhausted the topic, and it'll be up to Winds of Winter to see if they'll be rectified. If the theme in Dance was failure then hopefully the one in Winds will be about redemption.

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  90. This discussion is really great, guys! Remember it when the time of the reread of the chapter comes. Will be interesting to see whether some opinions changed then.

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  91. One last comment on the situation at the Wall before I let the matter drop for a while.

    After looking over the later Jon chapters this morning, I'm less sure that the wildlings are likely to do much fighting in the aftermath of the attack on Jon. For one thing, the Watch holds 100 child hostages from among the leaders of the free folk, 60 of whom have been sent away from Castle Black. (It was part of Jon's price for allowing them beyond the Wall.) If, as I imagine he would, Bowen Marsh made sure they were under his control before launching the attack, that's substantial leverage for the conspirators.

    Also, we can't forget that the wildlings have just been given not one but two better things to do than fight and die at the Wall. The king they thought dead has just been revealed as alive but in mortal peril as the captive of a psychopath to the south, while many of their people are freezing and starving at Hardhome to the north. Jon's injury or death doesn't change that.

    Finally, I'm less sure the free folk have that much loyalty to Jon anyway. Part of the tragedy of Jon's situation in DANCE is that he has many tenuous allies, but no real friends. Some of the wildlings respect him, but as STORM demonstrated, their notions of responsibility and allegiance are different from those of the Seven Kingdoms. Someone like Tormund, who does seem to have befriended Jon in his own harsh way, might be inclined to fight for him... but the Watch holds one of Tormund's surviving sons.

    The queen's men also have no love for Jon; this is made clear many times, including in his final chapter. Selyse even says something that's the polite equivalent of "I hope you die on the ranging to Hardhome and a better Lord Commander takes your place." Melisandre herself may want to defend Jon-- as I've said, I think she'll end up reviving him-- but the queen's men? Not likely.

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  92. Well, I just got my copy of Dance, so I'll see for myself. On that note however,

    And I for one think that Bowen's action itself was too spontaneous to have been so well thought out, Jon's announcement too sudden, even if Bowen had serious reservations going into things. Not to mention the outrage of the act itself/surprise of it at that moment might make them forget, we'll see though. That said, Jon's friends are in those other garrisons, so they might be able to secure the other hostages. As I said, I'm fully expecting fractious infighting by the time of Winter.

    True, but I doubt they'll take kindly to a Watch which removes the Lord Commander who guaranteed their safety. Their settlement on the Gift could also be in doubt quite a bit. Even if they do eventually want to march, I imagine they'll stay long enough to sort out the mess on the wall before then.

    Mel's the real power at the wall though, not to mention her influence on Selyse is pretty ironclad. What Mel wants I imagine she will get.

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  93. We have no way of knowing how long Bowen Marsh had been planning to move against Jon if the situation demanded it. Like I said, he's a cautious, craven man; he's not going to take an action he suspects will make the situation more chaotic rather than less so. The mere fact that he made what seems so bold a move suggests preparations of which Jon was entirely ignorant.

    The wildlings are poorly armed and their leaders' children are in peril. Despite their numbers, they don't have the power to "sort out" anything. They'll do what it takes to guarantee their own safety, which doesn't include fighting a hopeless fight or avenging one of the black crows. They're much more likely to do what they did the last time the situation at the wall unexpectedly turned against them: run like hell. (I have no doubt they'll be back for their children sometime before the series ends, though.)

    In the actual book, Melisandre is not as much of a power at the Wall as you seem to think, and in any case, the queen's men have just gotten word that her promised messiah is defeated and dead. She's not likely to have much in the way of followers anymore.

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  94. Even cautious men have a limit, Jon's announcement must have been a surprise, there was no way for Bowen to have prepared for it when he did. I fully expect that this was simply a spontaneous act on Bowen's part in reaction to Jon's decision, so I can't believe that he planned it that far ahead, but we will see.

    And I'm of the opinion they'll do it here and now, they can overwhelm the crows now that they're beyond the wall here and now, and they still have their own leadership under Tormmund unlike when Mance was first captured. Better to sort things out now like the situation with the hostages then give the Crows (who will be obviously hostile by then) now when the situation is chaotic in my opinion.

    Yet Selys is still a batshit devoted follower, I fully expect Mel to have control of the situation by the end of it. That said this is pure speculation on both our parts so we'll have to wait until then.

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  95. Jon's specific announcement was possibly a surprise (and possibly not), but from Bowen's perspective Jon has spent the entire book cozying up to the wildlings and involving the Watch in the politics of the realm. It's very likely, as Stefan and I discussed above, that he had contingency plans in place for when Jon crossed the line. In fact, Melisandre specifically warns Jon about a fire-vision of people who seem to be his allies but are making plans against him. Once you read the book, I think it'll be clearer that Bowen doesn't make snap decisions like that.

    The wildlings might be able to overwhelm the Watch (though you need to remember that many of them are weak, injured, and/or not trained fighters, and they aren't ~all~ nearby when Jon is attacked)... but not without great risk to their children. The hostages are already in the hands of the Watch; most or possibly all of them could be slain before the wildlings could do anything about it. And Tormund is not the leader of the wildlings in the way that Mance was.

    Selyse seems less dependent on Melisandre in DANCE than she was in CLASH and STORM. And how devoted do you think she's going to be when she hears the report that Stannis is dead? Even zealots lose faith or go completely insane when confronted with this type of defeat. No matter what has actually happened in the south, the queen's men are going to want to march that way and investigate, and after two straight losses she failed to foresee I don't know what Melisandre could say to stop them.

    But, as you say, this is all speculation, and it'll be long years before we find out the truth of the matter.

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  96. I'm not saying he might not have conspirators who he's talked too up till now about being dissatisfied with Jon's leadership role. And its exactly because of this growing dissatisfaction that I think caused Bowen to finally lose control and act at the moment he did at such an inopportune time. At the same time however, I think as grave a plot as assassinating Jon would have to be within a small group of people at best, can't see this making the rounds among the majority of the NW, so I'm fully expecting this to be controversial, I even wonder if perhaps Bowen knows this and is prepared to pay for it later. We'll see, this isn't a difference of interpretation that can be decided until the next book arises.

    Jon's more loyal compatriots are in the other garrisons though, so if they can secure Castle Black it should be fine. And like I said, I'm not convinced Marsh successfully coordinated the type of takeover you'd need to secure control of the Watch and keep all the other factions on the Wall in line. Maybe, I think he'll be able enough to reign the others in, he's certainly strong enough the wildlings do respect strength.

    Or they bury themselves in their faith even harder and deny it, you can't really say one way or another until it actually happens. Mel has managed to dispel doubters before, and I fully expect this whole claim to be lie myself, something Mel should be able to reassure any who might have misgivings now as they have before.

    But as we've said before, this is all speculation, and hopefully GRRM will be able to bust out Winds and resolve our nitpicking by late 2012 to 2013 at least or so I'm praying anyway, he's not getting any younger :(

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  97. Concerning the character of Bowen Marsh, take into account the change he underwent through the battle of the Bridge of Skulls. The old pomegranade isn't any more.

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  98. True that, he might be a good deal less cautious and cowardly then we first imagined after all. That said, by my accounts the Wall is utterly screwed now. Oh well, at least they found a way out for Jon in regards to his vows. End of his days and all that. He'll be back to clean up the mess, stronger, wiser, and better (hopefully)

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  99. interesting that the entire discussion here has focussed on Jon. Anybody you considers his decision rationally will realise how fucking idiotic it is. If Jon wanted to fight the Boltons he should have marched with Stannis. That wsa his moment. An army of Wildlings will only get slaughtered.

    one thing I noticed on re-read was that the Freys with Manderly were killed and baked into Arya's wedding pie. Worth checking who ate the pie!

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  100. Couldn't legally due to the whole vows thing. I think Ramsey's letter was enough of a threat/insult that Jon figured he might be able to get a one-on-one challenge, taking the wildlings when it likely wouldn't happen going to happen. And like I suspect I think Jon knew that, and wanted to spare the Watch having to suffer for it.

    And you're an utter troll, no such thing happened, stop confusing people who haven't read the book yet. <_<

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  101. I object to being called a troll

    (http://fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com/2011/06/win-autographed-copy-of-george-r-r.html)

    scroll down to the five choices- all five things happen in the Manuscript to someone.

    Rhaegar Targaryen was killed by Manderly and baked into the fake Arya's wedding pie. Hence all the references to Dany Flint by Wyman Manderly at the feast and his keenness that the
    Freys should taste it.

    As for "legally" it's no less legal now. Your suppositions strike me as very far fetched.

    Everything Ramsay demands of Jon is legitimate. He has no right to protect Selyse, Arya, or Reek or anyone else.

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  102. Ramsey has no real proof since Jon ISN'T doing any of those things. Selyse is under her own protection and at best a guest, Arya/Reek/anyone else is not there. He personally threatened Jon, allowing Jon leeway to challenge him for that insult.

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  103. BTW, Stefan, I was wondering if you were going to do an essay in the Tower of the Hands War of the Five Kings Review on the Golden Company? I know you'd probably want to wait after Dance is officially released, but there were a few mentions of them before hand if you. Before or after with Dance is fine with me, but I'd really love to see a piece on them and what kind of factor they will add to the occasion.

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  104. Not as yet. The War of the Five Kings essays were on basis of AFFC, and there seem to be updates necessary for the Night's Watch and Daenerys at least.

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  105. True true, will there be at least a post ADWD's review of the war scenario in that event? Like "The Aftermath of the Dance" I know Dorne will probably be needed to add to that list, as well as a the Lannisters, Tyrells, the Dothraki, and Stannis/ the Stormlands etc. Could also use a Faith Militant page as well if I may suggest.

    But yes, definitely the Golden Company if you do. I'm loving the new dimension their invasion is adding to the complex jiggsaw that is Westeros. Plus I found their army makeup and battle discipline to be very fascinating to read about.

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  106. The Targaryeans Redux? Is this an 'after dragons' piece you plan to release, because it sounds like Jon and Aegon, but that might just be more being wishful

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  107. No, it's a historic piece about the conquest of Westeros and the Targaryen rule.

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  108. Many thanks.
    Saves me having to read this.

    This could have been a great series if books two onward had been compressed into one or two.

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  109. Hi there,

    I appreciate your review and synopsis - I am still going to read the book. Killing off Jon Snow was a brave thing to do. I just hope he won't go the way un-Cat went. All the best- alles gutes!

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  110. Does anybody think murdering Jon leaves the NW in a better position to protect the realms of men?

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  111. Not really, no. The wildlings are in anyway, and a greater danger when Jon doesn't control them anymore.

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  112. OMG why did he kill jon snow????????////

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  113. Thanks Stefan for these chapter summaries and discussion.

    I'd also like to throw a few things into the ring as far as the discussion on why Jon got himself stabbed in the end. IRC other than the people who came back from ranging (like a dozen or so i think) and people who saw the 2nd wight attack castle black, (maybe 10 or so before it was killed) Nearly everyone in the NW is completely ignorant when it comes to the others.

    Marsh and the other man of the NW left aren't really even rangers, so the only enemy they've even come close to are wildlings during raids and attacks.

    And them Jon comes in, their newly elected commander, pratling off a whole bunch of what amounts to fairy tales in westeros as a reason to let thousands of wildlings through the wall, people theyve been keeping out for 8000 years!

    He sends away pretty much everyone who had even seen a wight to other castles, and i don't think anyone but Sam has even seen an other.

    taking all this into account it seems to me as if marsh thinks Jon has finally snapped, they stayed loyal through what from their point of view was complete insanity and betrayal, and Jon basically saying fuck it i'm leaving the wall to save my sister was the straw that broke them basically.

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  114. You mention tyrion promising brown ben plumm pentos in addition to gold, as far as i remember it was quentyn who promised pentos to the tattered prince in their deal over capturing the dragons. Did you get them mixed up or does bbp want pentos too?

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  115. When will the winds of winter going to come out

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  116. Usual writing skills, brings characters,places and situations to life. after reading one of mr martins books have a hard time returning to other loved authors, i wish i only had more of his novels to read,but i read faster than he writes.

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