An In-Depth Analysis of A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

**This Post is Dark and Full of Spoilers**


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My blogging goal for my second year was to complete a reread of A Song of Ice and Fire series, with each book followed up with an in-depth analysis of my observations during reading.  I completed this project months ahead of time by reading the series in a different format than my original foray, i.e., books vs audiobooks.  Managing to only get burn out once or twice during the reread, I’ve fallen even more in love with the series. Throughout A Song of Ice and Fire, I couldn’t believe how many little details I had overlooked my first venture into the Westeros and beyond. Sure I had initially concocted quite a few theories by the time I first finished A Dance with Dragons (ADWDs), however there were so many little subtle interactions and key points of emphasis that stood out more prominently during this second time through.  This was especially true in the most recent installment of the series, as I must have been speed reading ADWD. If I recall correctly, I believe I finished ADWD in two days. Having called around to all the bookstores in the East Lansing area, I found only Meijer to be selling it in at midnight of the release date.  I remember being one of about 20 people at the grocery store waiting for the truck to be unloaded whereupon, as I started conversing with the people around me, I noticed the entire group was comprised of young adult men.  It turns out they were all waiting for a video game that was being released and they were as a whole in disbelief I was there waiting for a book, let alone in a series that they had never even heard of before.  How different will this experience be when Winds of Winter is released! As with many, many other readers, I can’t wait to devour Winds of Winter! Here’s to it being finally released in 2017, although you won’t hear me complain if it is postponed till 2018. I would hate GRRM to sacrifice quality in order to satisfy the despondent masses. 

As when I reviewed The World of Ice and Fire, which was broken up into four components, Ancient HistorySeven Kingdoms, Free Cities, and the world beyond the Free Cities and my in-depth analysis of AGOTACOKASOS, AFFC I will be formatting the posts in bullets containing the topics that catch my interest during the reread. Of note, I’ve highlighted in RED several of my theories, as well as interesting insights garnered from the novel. Please let me know what you think! I’m really looking forward to hearing your theories, however you’d better be able to back them up with references to the text.


  • The prologue of ADWD opens with the Wildling Warg, Varamyr Sixskins as he is wounded and dying in the aftermath of the battle at the Wall. He was trained in being a Warg from a young age, as such, the reader learns much and more about this strange link between animal and man that he shares with the Stark children, but alas the latter are untrained. Varamyr recalling his life and lessons gives foundations that were previously lacking regarding being a skin changer, and offers new insights as Bran, Arya, and Jon learn about their abilities through trial and error.
  • After a book without our feisty dwarf, Tyrion returns in a big way, sans Varys, and in the care of Illyrio Mopatis. At one point during their entertaining banter, Tyrion wonders what game this wealthy magister is playing at. Well of course he is playing the game of thrones. Also, where is Varys? I’d forgotten he hadn’t traveled with Tyrion as he did in the show.
  • The beginning of ADWD, is full of characters who we haven’t heard from in most, if not all of AFOF. As such, it was so good to get a Daenerys POV, and learn of her struggles with the Sons of the Harpy, as well as her adjustment to ruling a city. Her problems only increase as she is confronted with the damage her dragons are causing, especially when Drogon feasts on a small child.
  • I’d completely forgotten that the events of ADWDs overlapped events in AFFF, therefore I was momentarily confused when in Jon’s chapter he ran into Samwell, who we had last left in Oldtown at the conclusion of AFFF. During a meeting with Stannis, the King gives Jon a snarky letter written by the ten year old Mormont girl that now is in charge of Bear Island. Again, I’d forgotten this seemingly small detail, and thought that the show had made up the memorable little Lyanna Mormont. I was happy to find that the show had used this little detail. In another key interaction with Melisandre she warns Jon of the enemies that surround him, of which Jon promptly shrugs her warnings off. As a result, she utters the words, “You know nothing Jon Snow.” How does she know these words? Did the fire tell her?
  • Bran! We finally get to catch up with our lost little Stark boy north of the Wall. He and his troupe are still with the mysterious Coldhands on their way to the three eyed crow. The group ponders who Coldhands is due to him being less than forthcoming with any information at all. When the point is pushed, Coldhands claims he in Bran’s monster, which I find to be an intriguing claim. Also, when Bran goes wargs into Summer to hunt he finds the warg from the prologue, who is now stuck in his wolf form. Summer defeats him and becomes the leader of their pack.
  • During Tyrion’s travels with Illyrio to meet up with this mysterious Griff character we learn so much about the recent past from a wholly new perspective, ranging from Illyrio’s feelings regarding Daenerys and the arrangements with Khal Drogo, to her brother Viserys. Even recounting how her brother tried to take his sister’s maidenhead the night before her wedding until Illyrio’s guards stopped him. Perhaps most interesting, we learn about Illyrio’s history with Varys and how they both rose to power, as well as, the mice (orphans) that Varys trained to spy, who were in fact a preview to his birds in King’s Landing. Another fascinating, potential complication is the fact that the Golden Company is headed to ally with the Dragon Queen, however Barristan Selmy was instrumental in ending the War of the Ninepenny Kings when he slew Maelys I Blackfyre. The remnants of this rebellion eventually became the Golden Company. Will this cause a problem when the two groups unite? Lastly, Illyrio mentions his wife several times, who he found in Lys, but ultimately died when the Grey Plague came to Pentos. What if his wife, Serra was actually Jorah Mormont’s wife, Lynesse Hightower who left him in Lys? Their descriptions were very similar.
  • We get a new POV from a character that was first mentioned in AFFC, Quentin Martell. Our first impression of this Prince, who intends to marry Daenerys, was less than impressive, as he doesn’t seem to be as bold or as confident as his sister or cousins. This theme continues as he self demotes himself to the station of squire because he is uncomfortable with the mummery involved with the fake façade his group has to put on, eventually gaining the less than flattering nickname of ‘Frog.’ It is under this guise that the trio from Dorne eventually meets Daenerys, in which the Prince offers a less than impressive introduction to the Queen. When Daenerys extends an olive branch to Quentin by showint this Prince of Dorne her dragons, he basically quakes with fear, contrasting the natural leadership qualities between the two royals. Ultimately, Dorne came too late to woo Daenerys as she was set on establishing herself in Meereen.
  • The events of the day prior to Samwell leaving, and the day of, must be momentous because we relive conversations and act of leaving twice between the two books. It was interesting to get the Jon’s perspective of the interactions, specifically his threats toward Gilly regarding her son, as well as Aemon giving Jon the same advice as he gave Egg before he took the throne, which was that as Lord Commander was going to have kill the boy in him. I feel as though the important aspect was probably Sam’s discoveries about the Others. Jon’s POV continues after Samwell departs as he tries to assign Janos Slynt command of one of the forts being renovated. When he very vocally refuses, Jon orders his death and ultimately beheads him. This scene was very reminiscent of Rob beheading Karstark.
  • I truly believe greyscale will come to larger part in this story of ice and fire. As such, I’m intrigued by this Shrouded Lord character who Tyrion first hears about in a tale told among the company that Illyrio leaves him with. Who is this character? Will we learn more about this mysterious disease? Is he myth or real? Additionally, Jon Connington eventually contracts the disease, which Shireen has had since infancy. When Val sees this little Princess, she expresses strong feelings of animosity, which is rare for the Wildling Princess, toward the little girl, calling her ‘unclean’, and that ‘The grey death sleeps, only to wake again.’ Is it a foreshadowing to the role in which greyscale will play?

“Greyscale.”

“The grey death is what we call it.”

“It is not always mortal in children.”

“North of the Wall it is. Hemlock is a sure cure, but a pillow or a blade will work as well. If I had given birth to that poor child, I would have given her the gift of mercy long ago.”

This was a Val that Jon had never seen before. “Princess Shireen is the queen’s only child.”

“I pity both of them. The child is not clean.”

“If Stannis wins his war, Shireen will stand as heir to the Iron Throne.”

“Then I pity your Seven Kingdoms.”

“The maesters say greyscale is not—”

“The maesters may believe what they wish. Ask a woods witch if you would know the truth. The grey death sleeps, only to wake again. The child is not clean!”

“She seems a sweet girl. You cannot know—”

“I can. You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Val seized his arm. “I want the monster out of there. Him and his wet nurses. You cannot leave them in that same tower as the dead girl.”

Jon shook her hand away. “She is not dead.” “She is. Her mother cannot see it. Nor you, it seems. Yet death is there.” She walked away from him, stopped, turned back. “I brought you Tormund Giantsbane. Bring me my monster.”

“If I can, I will.”

“Do. You owe me a debt, Jon Snow.”

Jon watched her stride away. She is wrong. She must be wrong. Greyscale is not so deadly as she claims, not in children.

  • We had heard in one of Jon’s chapters that Davos had left to go treat with White Harbor, however in reality, he turns up on one of the Three Sisters, due to Salladhor Saan’s betrayal and abandonment of Stannis. It was rumored that the people of the Sister Islands have webbed hands and feet, which Davos was surprised to see was not a myth. During a conversation with Lord Godric Borrell, it is mentioned several times how they use to worship a god akin to the Storm God, and makes mention of the many things, e.g., Eddard Stark, Davos, spices and treasures, that the storms blow to their shores, a very similar to the sentiments of the brothers on the Quiet Isle, from AFFC. In particular the account of Stark’s visit to the island during the beginning of Robert’s Rebellion was an interesting anecdote as we get to see a young Ned in action. Godric also claims Ned’s bastard came from the daughter of a fisherman who had died trying to take the new Lord to White Harbor.
  • Melisandre finally got her way and the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder burned. However, seemingly out of character, Mance begged, cried, and claimed that he was not the King. In retrospect, we know that Rattleshirt was the person actually burned, with Mance being hidden by Melisandre’s magic as Rattleshirt. As such, in Jon’s next interaction with his nemesis there are interesting tells, such as Melisandre claiming his loyalty, as well as a bangle with a glowing red gem set within. This gem must contain power to conceal his true identity. Additionally, we get more clues as to Rattleshirt’s identity in Jon’s next chapter as the wildling battles Jon in the practice yard. Jon gets pummeled by the wildling during their battle, noting that his body structure seemed to grow once in armor. Also, while in conversation with Melisandre, she tells the Lord Commander that Stannis burned the man he needed the entire world to see. A very cryptic statement was one of the first real clues that Mance was still living. In later chapters, the Rattleshirt mystery is finally exposed as Melisandre meets with the man sans his signature bones, whereupon she rebukes him due to the glamor needing the costume for the illusion. It physically pains Melisandre to keep the illusion in place. When Jon bulks at Rattleshirt saving his sister, the priestess is forced to reveal that the wildling is actually Mance.
  • Interestingly, going back to the execution Melisandre made a speech in which she claims that no person can withstand R’hllor’s fires. Won’t Daenerys be able to due to Targaryens not burning?
  • It pains me that Jon keeps sending away his friends, especially knowing how ADWD ends. Jon first sends away Grenn and Pyp, followed by sending away Eddison Tollet (Dolorous Edd) and Iron Emmett, in a later chapter to renovate one of the new castles. It is easy to see why Jon is a fan favorite due to his selflessness and his constant struggle to do the right thing, especially regarding the wildlings. He eventually brokers a deal with Stannis where he saves the wildling warriors from certain death in the King’s vanguard.
  • Daenerys found herself visited by Quaithe again, during which the sorcerer confirms that neither of the Queen’s visions were in fact dreams. Quaithe gives the following warning:

The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.

The meanings behind these warnings can for the most part be easily deciphered.

Glass candles: obsidian candles in Oldtown.

Pale mare: Bloody flux

Kraken: Victarion Greyjoy

Dark Flame: Moqorro

Lion: Tyrion Lannister

Griffin: Jon Cunningham

Sun’s Sun: Quentin Martell

Mummer’s Dragon: Aegon Targaryen? This one is not as clear, but perhaps the prince that Tyrion meets is not actually Rhaegar’s son.

Undying: Prophesies given when Daenerys went to the house of the undying.

Perfumed seneschal: The most obvious fit for this title would be Reznak mo Reznak, however due to the nature of prophesies this specific title is not as clear.

Why does Quaithe want to help Daenerys? Does she really need to be mistrustful of all these ‘helpers?’ Should Daenerys really trust Quaithe? The first of Quaithe’s warnings comes true with the arrival of the pale mare from Astapor, which was actually the bloody flux to threaten her city.

  • Daenerys also confines two of her dragons and drove off Drogon. I know this is her ‘learning’ who she is and how to lead, but this causes me to dislike her chapters in ADWD due to this learning process being painful to read. Our Dragon Queen has lost sight of who she is!
  • We finally learn the fate of Theon! The last we’d heard of this pompous, arrogant Prince, he’d been duped by Ramsey Bolton and presumed dead after the sack of Winterfell, but alas his fate was not so kind. The poor tortured boy is unrecognizable after everything he has endured, even to the point of not knowing his own name. Theon is currently a defeated creature that goes by the name of Ramsey’s old servant, Reek. We also glimpse the two Frey bullies that were wards at Winterfell, Big and Little Walder, who appear to be thriving under Ramsey.
  • Bran finally reached the three eyed crow in a final frantic rush to the cave entrance in which they battled a white walker ambush. Once in the cave, Bran and the group meet one of the children of the forest, who took them to the Greenseer, aka, the three eyed crow. This Greenseer appeared to have grown into a weir wood tree, with the gruesome description of a root growing out of one of his eyes. Another interesting detail is that the man was wearing black. Was he once a man of the Night’s Watch? Who is he and how long has he been at his post? Eventually he reveals to Bran that he one had the name Brynden and that some men were named after him. This lends credence to the theory that the Greenseer is in fact Lord Brynden Rivers (Bloodraven), who had lost an eye, similar to that of the three eyed crow. Bloodraven was Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, having arrived at the Wall on the same ship as Aemon Targaryen. Bloodraven disappeared on a ranging north of the Wall almost 50 years prior to the events in ADWD. It is possible this Greenseer is the wayward bastard born Targaryen, which would make an interesting allusion to his time in the Night’s Watch and his now nickname the ‘three eyed crow.
  • The Greenseer tells Bran that he will never walk again, but the boy will fly. Does this mean as the Greenseer does in the form of a crow? Or perhaps flying will involve on or in a dragon? We see Bran strengthening his skills by practicing taking over Hordor’s mind and wandering all over the caves of the children of the forest. Interesting, when harkening back to the prologue, upon Bran entering the mind of the ravens he senses another presence from a former shapeshifer/child of the forest. Of note, in this jam packed chapter, Bran also mentions that Summer still has his pack, which consists of the wolf trapped warg in the prologue. In our last mention of Bran in ADWD, he has to fully accept his power as a Greenseer by eating a red paste from a wierwood bowl to become ‘married to the tree.’ A lot of detail goes into describing the paste and the taste associated with the bitter/delicious meal. Bran assumes the red comes from the wierwood trees, however I’ve read several ominous theories that Jojen is the meal and he was the sacrifice needed to unlock Bran’s powers. We don’t know this for certain but I suspect those clever theorists might headed down the right path. It would align with the rumors of blood sacrifice held by the old gods. Immediately after consuming this strange paste, Bran has a vision of his father outside of Winterfell, next to the weirwood tree and tries to communicate without avail, although it does appear that Ned hears something. Following this initial vision, he falls through a series of visions that are each brief in nature giving us only a glimpse.

“But then somehow he was back at Winterfell again, in the godswood looking down upon his father. Lord Eddard seemed much younger this time. His hair was brown, with no hint of grey in it, his head bowed. “…let them grow up as brothers, with only love between them,” he prayed, “and let my lady wife find it in her heart to forgive…”

“Father.” Bran’s voice was a whisper in the wind, a rustle in the leaved. “Father, it’s me. It’s Bran. Brandon.”

Eddard Stark lifted his head and looked long at the weirwood, frowning, but he did not speak. He cannot see me, Bran realized, despairing. He wanted to reach out and touch him, but all that he could do was watch and listen. I am in the tree. I am inside the heart tree, looking out of its red eyes, but the wierwood cannot talk, so I can’t.

Eddard Stark resumed his prayer. Bran felt his eyes fill up with tears. But were they his own tears, or the weirdwood’s? If I cry, will the tree begin to weep?

This first vision of a younger Ned must be when he returns from Winterfell with Jon Snow after Robert’s Rebellion.

The rest of his words were drowned out by a sudden clatter of wood on wood. Eddard Stark dissolved, like mist in a morning sun. Now two children danced across the godswood, hooting at one another as they dueled with broken branches. The girl was the older and taller of the two. Arya! Bran thought eagerly, as he watched her leap up onto a rock and cut at the boy. But that couldn’t be right. If the girl was Arya, the boy was Bran himself, and he had never worn his hair so long. And Arya never beat me playing swords, the way the girl s beating him. She slashed at the boy across his thigh, so hard that his leg went out from under him and he fell into the pool and began to splash and shout. “You be quiet, stupid,” the girl said, tossing her branch aside. “It’s just water. Do you want Old Nan to hear and run and tell Father?” She knelt and pulled her brother from the pool, but before she got him out again, the two of them were gone.

Based on the fact that Arya has been described several times through out this series as a spitting image of her late Aunt Lyanna, this must be Ned’s feisty sister and her younger brother Benjen sparring on the Godswood.

After that, the glimpses came faster and faster, till Bran was feeling lost and dizzy. He saw no more of his father, nor the girl who looked like Arya, but a woman heavy with child emerged naked and dripping from the black pool, knelt before the tree, and begged the old gods for a son who would avenge her.

This vision is more of a mystery and based on the timeline the visions appear to be going on it has to be somewhere between the children playing in the woods and Duncan/Nan, as such it has to be either Ned’s mother or grandmother. We don’t know the behind either of these women, other than Ned’s grandmother only had one child. I wonder what secret there is here and the story this woman holds, although it might be a significant revelation.

Then there came a brown-haired girl, slender as a spear who stood on the tips of her toes to kiss the lips of a young knight as tall as Hodor.

I love this fan theory that Hordor is actually a descendent of Old Nan and Ser Duncan the Tall. It would appear Bran sees the two embracing. I want to know more about this specific story!

A dark-eyed youth, pale and fierce, sliced three branches off the weirwood and shaped them into arrows.

The story behind this boy is another mystery although I have read speculation that the three branches are representative of the three dragons of Aegon the Conqueror, and that this boy must be the son of the King of the North that knelt.

The Tree itself was shrinking, growing smaller with each vision, whilst the lesser trees dwindled into saplings and vanished, only to be replaced by other trees that would dwindle and vanish in their turn. And now the lords Bran glimpsed were tall and hard, stern men in fur and chain mail. Some wore faces he remembered from statues in the crypts, but they were gone before he could put a name to them.

The old King’s of the North.

Then, as he watched, a bearded man forced a captive down onto his knees before the heart tree. A white-haired woman stepped toward them through a drift of dark red leaved, a bronze sickle in her hand.

“No,” said Bran, “no, don’t,” but they could not hear him, no more than his father had. The woman grabbed the captive by the hair, hooked the sickle around his throat, and slashed. And through the mist of centuries the broken boy could only watch as the man’s feet drummed against the earth…but as his life flowed out of him in a red tide, Brandon Stark could taste the blood.

This last vision must be of the blood sacrifices the First Men gave to the Old Gods. Perhaps there is more to this story.

  • Also, will we find out who Coldhands is and will he come back in the story? Last we left him he was battling the White Walkers outside of the cave.
  • Tyrion has one of my favorite storylines in ADWD, partly due to his time on the river boat with Griff and company. There is more than meets the eye with almost every member of this strange group, starting with Lemore, who is a Septa, however sports stretch marks from having a child. Who is she? Perhaps she there is nothing significant to her character, however she tells Tyrion, “You are not the only one who must needs hide.”, which seems to hint at more to her story than initially revealed. Then you have the sellsword Griff who is in fact Lord Jon Connington, Rhaegar’s friend who was the banished Hand to Aerys. Lastly, and most importantly you have young Griff, who turns out to be Aegon Targaryen, who was previous thought to be dead. Is this young man actually the Prince or is he the Mummer’s dragon? Or perhaps it could be viewed at the mummer is actually Varys, as such, Aegon is his Dragon that he’s protected. 
  • Xaro Xhoan Daxos makes another appearance as he arrives in Meereen to offer Daenerys ships as long as she leaves for Westeros. During this conversation Xaro reveals that Pyat Pree left with three other undying for Meereen on a ship seeking revenge. I will wager a guess that it is Pree’s ship the one that Euron captured and perhaps Pree is one of the three captives that remain in the Silence. Or perhaps he was the one that the other three had to eat? 
  • Tyrion and the crew of the Shy Maid enters the Sorrows, an area in which men and women that are afflicted with grey scale are banished. While the first pass through the ruin city of Chroyane proved uneventful, as if by magic the Shy Maid seemingly makes a second pass under the Bridge of Dreams, which results in the stone men attacking the river boat. Are the stone men actually ruled by a Shrouded Lord? If so, who is this person? Tyrion is knocked from the boat and almost drowns, however is saved by Griff, and promptly revived by Lemore. Does this mean that Tyrion has been returned by the Drowned God, similar to Patchface, Davos, Samwell or Aeron?
  • Now that Tyrion is team Targaryen he offers the young Prince wise advice regarding how Daenerys might perceive him, as well as an alternative path he might follow by heading to Westeros to stake his claim at the rightful Heir of the Iron Throne. In Griff’s POV, we see Tyrion’s idea take hold and during the meeting with the Golden Company, Aegon proposed the bold plan, which was met with overwhelming support.
  • Tyrion leaves the Shy Maid to go ashore with Halfmaester at Selhorys to gather information. While in the city, they encounter a Red Priest talking about Daenerys and calling her Azor Ahai. After being kidnapped by Jorah Mormont and traveling to Volantis, the knight and dwarf encounter the First Servant, Benerro preaching outside of the Temple of R’hllor. While these Red Priests are preaching in favor of Daenerys, Tyrion acknowledges, “Some allies are more dangerous than enemies,” after comparing that surrounding crowd to those of King’s Landing just prior to the destructive riot. 
  • Griff’s POV was a pleasant surprise, which offered us a glimpse of Westeros during the time of Aerys II, as well as that of a banished sellsword. We learn that he is inflicted with greyscale at the end of his first POV, probably obtained while saving Tyrion from drowning. How long can he keep it a secret? How long will he last? Will there be other, wide spread implications, such as potentially spreading another grey plague?
  • Asha Greyjoy resurfaces after the Kingsmoot in Deadwood Motte. As she plotted her next moves, Asha was caught off guard when surprise attack was sprung by the Mountain Clans of the North, although she notes several times the sound of a trumpet, which was out of place among the Northmen. We can put together that Stannis took Jon’s advice to rally the Mountain Clans and attack the Ironborn. While being held in suspense as to the whereabouts and status of Stannis’ army on its trek to Winterfell, the reader is eventually given another POV from Asha, in which we find out that she is alive and held prisoner in Stannis’ camp. Stannis’ army is stuck, infuriatingly close to Winterfell, in the midst of a blinding snowstorm that has been raging for days. Tempers are flaring and people are freezing/starving to death in this standstill.
  • When discussing love and marriage, Barristan tells Daenerys that her father and mother’s marriage was not one of love. That it was an arranged marriage as a result of a woods witch, who was a friend of Jenny of Oldstones, claimed that a child of their union would be the Prince Who was Promised. Interestingly, when Daenerys asked what happened to the woods witch, all Barristan says is “Summerhall.”
  • While in Volantis, Jorah and Tyrion seek passage to Meereen by meeting with the Widow of the Waterfront. She secures them passage on the Selaesori Qhoran (Fragrant Steward), along side a red priest Moqorro, a minion of the Red Priest (Benerro) who Tyrion had seen in Volatis. Of note, the name of this ship comes very close to the warning Quaithe had for Daenerys to beware the perfumed seneschal. Perhaps the shadowbinder was warning the Queen of the ship and not Reznak mo Reznak? The ship is headed to Qarth, however the red priests had seen in their flames that the ship will not reach the intended destination, from which the would be travelers see this prophesy to mean that it will actually head to Meereen, but alas, prophesies are not always as they seem. Prior to boarding, Jorah and his prisoner also pick up a second traveler, Penny, who was one of the jousting dwarfs at Joffery’s wedding. She had tried to kill Tyrion when she recognized him in Volantis, however upon discovering that her brother was killed for potentially being the former Hand of the King, Tyrion took pity on the poor girl and made her come with them. During a conversation with Moqorro, while at sea, the priest made a comment to Tyrion, describing him as a small man with a big shadow. This is one of many, many comments to the dwarf from a wide array of individuals describing him in this manner.
  • During the conversation with Jon Snow in which Mance is revealed, Melisandre tells the Lord Commander that she’s seen a girl in grey fleeing north that is assumed to be Arya. Jon, having just found out that Arya was going to be marrying Ramsey Bolton, was obviously hopeful that Melisandre’s visions were true. While we know that this is not actually Arya, Jon and the red priestess do not, which is why she misinterprets her flames. Melisandre appears to try to tempt Jon into an arrangement similar to that of hers and Stannis, even mentioning coupling to create shadows, thankfully Jon declines. Eventually, we find out that this girl in grey is actually Alys Karstark who is fleeing her Uncle. Jon finds a solution in marrying this fierce girl to the Sigorn, Magnar of the Thenn, creating the first major joining of a noble Northern household to the wildlings. Ultimately, Jon’s faith in Melisandre’s visions is severely damaged in her misleading him as to the girl in grey’s identity.
  • One of my favorite, and most thought provoking chapters in ADWDs is Davos’ last chapter in which he is finally is removed from the dungeons at White Harbor, during which he believes he is being led to his execution. Much to his surprise, he is confronted by Lord Manderly who admits to scheming against the Freys and expresses relief that the mummer’s farce that he’s been forced to partake in almost being complete. To get his son back from the Lannisters, he was forced to fake Davos’ death and play nice with the Freys, however he has been plotting against them from the beginning. The Manderlys found a mute Ironborn boy who was Theon Greyjoy’s squire at Winterfell, and from this poor boy they have learned about the treachery that unfolded at the former seat of the Starks, specifically, Ramsey Bolton’s betrayal and the Stark boys emerging from the crypts in the aftermath. Other rumors are discussed that tell of the fate of the Winterfell women as hunting objects for the Bolton bastard. Manderly challenges Davos to find the youngest Stark boy who the mute tracked until Rickon traveled to the land where they ‘eat human flesh,’ which could only be Skaggos. I can’t wait for the next book in which Davos takes us to this mysterious island of unicorns. 
  • One of my favorite new POVs is that of Melisandre! Up until this point she seemed like an all knowing, confident, powerful enigma. Interestingly, we see a character instead that is far from certain, as she struggles to interpret her own visions although she does mention that she is more powerful at the Wall. We also learn that some of her tricks are actually powders she has brought with her from Asshai, adding to her mystery. With regard to her visions, I’ve broken down a few in order here:

Initially she asks to see Stannis but only sees the following montage, including eyeless faces, towers by the sea falling apart as a result of a dark tide, and winged shadows. She even makes a frustrated statement regarding asking to see Azhor Ahai and only being shown Snow. Perhaps her R’hllor is showing her the truth that she is blind to? Also, the towers by the sea, if it involves this part of Westeros, I would have to guess Hardhome or Eastwatch. Is the dark tide in reference to the literal sea or a figurative sea of dead overwhelming? The winged shadows could refer to dragons. May I dream we will see ice dragons?

Show me Stannis, Lord, she prayed. Show me your king, your instrument.

Visions danced before her, gold and scarlet, flickering, forming and melting and dissolving into one another, shapes strange and terrifying and seductive. She saw the eyeless faces again, staring out at her from sockets weeping blood. Then the towers by the sea, crumbling as the dark tide came sweeping over them, rising from the depths. Shadows in the shape of skulls, skulls that turned to mist, bodies locked together in lust, writhing and rolling and clawing. Through curtains of fire great winged shadows wheeled against a hard blue sky.

She appears to also see visions of Bran and the three eyed crow, as described below. Interestingly, she interprets them as the ‘Champions of the Great Other.’ This offers a fascinating new perspective, as we had always assumed at this point it was everyone vs. the Others. What if the Children of the Forest are actually an enemy? I doubt so because why would the dead by trying to get into the cave? Or why would they have attacked Bran and company?

A face took shape within the hearth. Stannis? She thought, for just a moment … but no, these were not his features. A wooden face, corpse white. Was this the enemy? A thousand red eyes floated in the rising flames. He sees me. Beside him, a boy with a wolf’s face threw back his head and howled.

Snowflakes swirled from a dark sky and ashes rose to meet them, the grey and the white whirling around each other as flaming arrows arced above a wooden wall and dead things shambled silent through the cold, beneath a great grey cliff where fires burned inside a hundred caves. Then the wind rose and the white mist came sweeping in, impossibly cold, and one by one the fires went out. Afterward only the skulls remained.

She also predicts the danger that surrounds Jon, although he refuses to believe her.

The flames crackled softly, and in their crackling she heard the whispered name Jon Snow. His long face floated before her, lined in tongues of red and orange, appearing and disappearing again, a shadow half-seen behind a fluttering curtain. Now he was a man, now a wolf, now a man again. But the skulls were here as well, the skulls were all around him. Melisandre had seen his danger before, had tried to warn the boy of it.

Her chapter is packed even after her visions! We glimpse mysteries of her past as she doesn’t like to sleep because she is haunted by images of Lot Seven and Melony. Who and what are the aforementioned terms that haunt this Red Priestess.

  • Roose Bolton steals Theon (Reek) from Ramsey, whereupon we briefly hope that it is for the better until the Lord Bolton corrects the tortured boy for his pronunciation of ‘My Lord’ to sound less highborn. During this conversation, we also learn that Roose knows that Ramsey killed his only legitimate son who had reached out to the bastard to have a brother. He also acknowledges that Ramsey will kill any other sons that his Frey wife would give him. During this separation from Ramsey, and his introduction to the fake Arya Stark, we see him struggle to maintain his Reek personality, especially as Sansa’s old friend, Jeyne Poole, begs him to save her from Ramsey. But alas, the wedding proceeds as planned, with Reek reemerging as Ramsey orders him into his bedchamber with his new bride.
  • With regard to the wedding, Theon makes mention of how jolly Manderly was during the wedding feast, bringing out massive pies and serving everyone and anyone, especially the Freys by his own hand. Theon then overhears the drunken Lord asking Abel the Bard to play the Rat Cook, which is a story involving a cook killing a prince and serving the meat from the slain son in a pie to the King. From these interactions we can only assume that the three missing Freys were served to their kin in these suspicious meat pies, thus Manderly was able to exact at least a bit of revenge for his son’s death at the Red Wedding. 
  • In a thought provoking exchange between Theon and Lady Barbrey Dustin, during the wedding of Ramsey and the fake Arya, Dustin provides a curious opinion as to the trustworthiness of Maesters. In Sam’s last chapter in AFFC the corrupt nature of the Citadel is first hinted at but in this completely isolated event, the topic is again brought up full force.

If I were queen, the first thing I would do would be to kill all those grey rats. They scurry everywhere, living on the leavings of the lords, chittering to one another, whispering in the ears of their masters… Out of gratitude we give them a place beneath our roof and make them privy to all our shames and secrets, a part of every council. And before too long, the ruler has become the ruled.

Specifically we learn that she holds a former Winterfell Maester responsible for ruining her chances at marrying Brandon Stark by corrupting Rickard Stark and convincing him of a Tully match. In a later meeting between these two, as Dustin demands that Reek take her to the crypts at Winterfell to see Brandon’s tomb, we learn about her animosity toward Ned Stark for neglecting to bring back her husband’s bones during Robert’s rebellion. She plans to steal Ned’s bones before they reach Winterfell and make sure they never make it home in revenge.

  • Tyrion and his comrades encounter terrible storms while aboard the Selaesori Qhoran, whereupon after storms subside the Red Priest, Moqorro is no where to be found, having been swept overboard and the ship is rendered useless as it is listing perilously. Just when it seems like starvation was a real possibility, a new ship arrives on the horizon, but alas it is a slaving vessel, which imprisons everyone remaining on board the Selaesori Qhoran, including Tyrion, Jorah, and Penny.
  • Brown Ben plays an interesting role in ADWD as he is the sellsword that Daenerys appears to trust the most, especially as he gets along well with her dragons, but alas he betrays his Queen as he goes over to the Yunkai. His part grows even larger as he sees Tyrion and Mormont being sold at a slavers market outside of Meereen, and fails in an attempt to buy them after recognizing Tyrion. Eventually after the Yunkai camp becomes infected with the Pale Mare, Tyrion plots his small group’s escape over to Brown Ben Plumm and the Second Sons. Will this sell sword prove to be more than meets the eye? Will he play a bigger role than saving Tyrion?
  • Daenerys makes the decision not abandon Meereen, as such she agrees to wed Hizdahr zo Loraq if the Sons of the Harpy stop their killing for 90 days. With the Yunkai outside the walls of Meereen, she felt as though she would potentially be battling a war on the inside of the walls as well as the Yunkai. However, after her marriage, she consents to giving up so much, e.g., leadership, council, pit fighting, to her husband’s will without much of a fight, which is very much out of character for this strong Queen.
  • We see very little POV from inside Dorne in ADWD, but Dorian Martell sets up a very interesting dynamic with the Sand Snakes. After releasing them, this Prince of Dorne and his daughter meet with Oberyn’s feisty children where they reveal some of the Prince’s inner plans, which have been operating in clandestine fashion for years. Now he seeks to trust these Sand Snakes, sending them out on various missions for the good of Dorne. Most interesting to the storyline is one of the sisters heading to the King’s Council and a second going to serve the High Sparrow.  What trouble will they cause? 
  • In many of Jon’s chapters, and even in the prologue, we hear rumors of wildlings gathering in the coastal ruins of Hardhome. We even learn from Arya that slavers found the wildlings at Hardhome where they took women and children from the shores, all the while planning to return with more ships. Jon is desperate to save them and eventually through commandeering some ships from the shattered Lyseni fleet and striking a bargain with the Iron Bank of Braavos to use their ships, he sends all the ships he can North. Alas, after so much build up to sending the ships north to Hardhome, Jon receives a desperate letter from Cotter Pyke that recounts terrible losses of the ships and also a horrifying mysterious line detailing dead things in the water and dead things in the woods. What does this mean, ‘dead things in the water’? Jon, against the wishes of many of the Night’s Watch, then plots a rescue mission over land with Tormund Giantsbane, who makes much needed reemergence into the story line after Val goes out, north of the Wall, to entreat the wildling to bring his massive camp south of the Wall. Tormund’s banter is refreshing in contrast to the serious tensions conveyed throughout the majority of the interactions at the Wall.
  • In an interesting exchange between Tormund and Jon it is revealed that the horn Melisandre burned was not the Horn of Winter. The Horn that was burned was found in a Giant’s grave and was a priceless antique, but alas was nothing more. I still think that the horn that Sam carries with him is actually the Horn of Winter.
  • After the wedding of Ramsey to the fake Arya, several mysterious murders take place, similar in manner as when Theon held the castle with his Ironborn. The final murder that drove the Manderlys and Freys to blows was that of Little Walder. Lord Manderly suffered a brutal cut to the neck. Will he survive? If not will anyone know of his scheming behind the scenes regarding the Starks? Also, who was responsible for the murders? Before, during Theon’s brief reign, I thought it was Osha however due to her absence while the Boltons held sway, I’d assumed it was Abel (Mance) and his women. This was disavowed as one of the women adamantly tells Theon they were not responsible. Theon at this point having been cornered by Abel and his women, was ultimately conscripted into their mad plan to free Arya. Theon mades a resurgence over Reek and the reader was actually cheering for the boy at this point. The plan was semi successful as Theon and Jeyne escape, however Abel and his women became trapped with horrifying results.
  • Theon and Jeyne are ultimately saved by the emissary of the Iron Bank of Braavos, and delivered to Stannis’ camp. The Iron Bank first comes into play due to Cersei refusing to make payments on the loan that the Iron Throne owes to this ancient creditor.   As a result, the Bank sends an emissary to the Wall in search of Stannis to see if he would be interested in taking up the loan payments, in which support may be made to seat him on the Iron Throne. Jon met with this unique and outlandish banker, as Stannis had already disembarked for Deadwood Motte and Winterfell, whereupon he secured a deal with the bank to keep the Night’s Watch and the wildlings fed through the spring, while assisting the emissary with guides to Winterfell to find Stannis. Through the blinding snow, the guides, plus some ransomed Ironborn, make it to Winterfell where they blew a war horn, ultimately setting the host in Winterfell into a panic and offering Theon and Jenye the perfect opportunity to escape. Backtracking to Stannis’ camp with the two battered refugees, Asha is shocked to learn that her brother is still alive. How will Stannis handle Theon and the offer from the Iron Bank? Will this eccentric Banker continue to play a role in the following book?
  • Arya has only a few chapters in ADWD, in which initially she is still blind. During her time absent sight, she is forced to adjust and learn how to live without one of her key senses. This includes becoming a better liar and begging. She had to continue with her tasks in the House of Black and White, such as finding and preparing the dead. One of the dead that was made noteworthy emphasis is that of a young Westerosi boy, who appears to have handsome features and a thick head of hair. Who is this boy? I’ve been wrecking my head trying to come up with a guess and I came up with Edric Storm, however he is supposed to be in Lys. I couldn’t find much on the internet in way of theories other than the young man and the older woman that was also found was Olenna and ­­­­­­Loras Tyrell. I have a hard time buying this theory because it seems like a strange way for these two strong minded individuals to go, plus Loras was suppose to be horrible disfigured, unless there is some huge twist of ultimate revenge to supplant Cersei and the Lannisters from power. Regardless, it is interesting to ponder as I’m sure this brief mention will prove to be more than meets the eye in the future novels.
  • Back to Blind Beth, aka, Arya, who is viciously beat every day in the House of Black and White by an unknown assailant. All along, Blind Beth has still been having wolf dreams at night (Nymeria), however being blind had forced her to hone the warg abilities. Hence, she learns how to see through the eyes of a cat, learns the identity of her perpetrator and is rewarded with the return of her sight. With her new status within the House of Black and White, Arya gets her first mission where she successfully kills a target, moreover, we finally get our first description of how the acolytes change faces while pursuing their unfortunate victims. How many other faces will Arya wear? How will she use them to target victims on her list? 
  • We only have one POV from Jamie this whole book, in which he continues his path to being a better man, worthy of wearing the white cloak of the Kingsguard. He has spurned Cersei’s desperate plea to have him come to her rescue. We see him justly and fairly deal with remaining opposition in the Riverlands. The last we hear of him, he rides off alone with Brienne, who shows up out of the blue claiming that the Hound has Sansa and they have to go alone to save her. What trap has Jamie walked into? Will he be able to prove he is a changed man? 
  • Speaking of Cersei, she makes her entrance in ADWD still trapped in the confines of the Great Sept of Baylor. She decides to falsely confess, actually, she selectively confesses to key crimes and denies the larger ones she is actually guilty of. As retribution she had to walk through the streets of King’s Landing completely naked. This scene was brutal and punishing, although her inner dialogue offers new insight into how Littlefinger started scheming to marry Sansa even before Ned was dead. Lastly, at the end of her terrible walk, we meet Ser Robert Strong, a mysterious knight that is monstrous in proportions and strength. He was ‘found’ by Qyburn, which really means that Strong is probably the body of the Mountain, resurrected by some form of necromancy. Will we find out more about this strange individual? 
  • After her marriage, Daenerys allowed her new husband to reopen the fighting pits that she had fought so hard to keep closed. To celebrate she had to endure opening day of fighting, where she actually saw Tyrion and Penny performing their jousting act. Just as Daenerys gets up to leave, all hell breaks loose. Belwas begins puking everywhere from poisoned food that was targeted toward Daenerys. Our favorite little ex-pitfighter survives, but barely. Drogon makes a surprising entrance back into the narrative as he dives into the middle of the pit and proceeds to make a meal of a slain fighter and the murderous boar. Daenerys jumps in the pit to try to protect her child as fighters are attempting the kill the dragon. Hizdahr himself emits crazed shouts to kill Drogon. Daenerys jumps on his back and they take off flying in a most spectacular fashion. We know now that she survives, however in the aftermath, no one knew what happened to her.
  • Brave Ser Barristan eventually takes over in her absence, stepping out of his comfort zone to plot against Hizdahr, eventually jailing him and taking over as the Hand till Daenerys returns. During this interlude, we get our first POV from the old Knight, in which we learn much and more about his youth, such as how he got the name Barristan the Bold. We also learn that he loved Ashara Dayne and makes mention of someone dishonoring her at the tournament at Harrenhal. He laments that if only he would have won against Rhaegar, he could have crowned Ashara instead of Lyana being named Queen of Love and Beauty, and in consequence, how many lives would have been saved. Barristan struggles with being the Hand, especially as the Sons of the Harpy return in force.
  • During Barristan’s coup, it is revealed that someone let the two remaining dragons out of the crypts that they had been housed in. That someone turns out to be Quentin Martell with the assistance of the Tattered Prince. Quentin remained in the city despite Barristan’s warnings that Hizdahr would try to frame him for Belwas’ poisoning. In Quentin’s POV it is reveals how truly scared and deep his doubts run with regard to stealing and eventually riding a dragon. Alas, poor Quentin perishes a terrible death through burning in dragon flame.
  • It is brought up three times in ADWD and AFFC that the Tattered Prince wants to attack Pentos. Why does he want to attack this Free City so badly? We know that he was once elected as the new Prince of Pentos, who is executed if something bad happens to the city. He fled instead of serving his term as Prince. Is it some from of revenge?
  • I’ve long suspected that Jeor Mormont was a warg/shapeshifter with his raven, especially as Sam claimed no link to the bird showing up during the voting process for Lord Commander, along side the bird attaching itself to Jon Snow, post election. While the bird for the most part acts as he did with Mormont, in one specific scene, the bird calls Jon Snow by his full name, an act that he previously had not done before. In the chapter, Jon is gripped by a nightmare in which he fights the Others and people loved from his past. The key aspect of this dream that keeps catching my attention is the description of his black armor and sword glowing red. Is the sword ‘Light Bringer’ or the black armor obsidian or maybe a metaphor for the black of the Night’s Watch?

That night he dreamt of wildlings howling from the woods, advancing to the moan of warhorns and the roll of drums. Boom DOOM boom DOOM boom DOOM came the sound, a thousand hearts with a single beat. Some had spears and some had bows and some had axes. Others rode on chariots made of bones, drawn by teams of dogs as big as ponies. Giants lumbered amongst them, forty feet tall, with mauls the size of oak trees.

“Stand fast,” Jon Snow called. “Throw them back.” He stood atop the Wall, alone.

“Flame,” he cried, “feed them flame,” but there was no one to pay heed.

They are all gone. They have abandoned me.

Burning shafts hissed upward, trailing tongues of fire. Scarecrow brothers tumbled down, black cloaks ablaze. “Snow,” an eagle cried, as foemen scuttled up the ice like spiders. Jon was armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist. As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. He slew a greybeard and a beardless boy, a giant, a gaunt man with filed teeth, a girl with thick red hair. Too late he recognized Ygritte. She was gone as quick as she’d appeared.

The world dissolved into a red mist. Jon stabbed and slashed and cut. He hacked down Donal Noye and gutted Deaf Dick Follard. Qhorin Halfhand stumbled to his knees, trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood from his neck. “I am the Lord of Winterfell,” Jon screamed. It was Robb before him now, his hair wet with melting snow. Longclaw took his head off. Then a gnarled hand seized Jon roughly by the shoulder. He whirled …

… and woke with a raven pecking at his chest. “Snow,” the bird cried.

  • The Red Priest, Moqorro is pulled from the sea by one of Victarion Greyjoy’s ships, thereby proving his visions seen in the flames. The priest promptly cures Victarion’s rotting hand, leaving behind a blacked arm that the captain’s claims is even stronger than previously. The priest then gains the confidence of the skeptical Victarion by having vision after vision prove true. Victarion, who is inherently a devote man, has to walk a very interesting line between his Drowned God and R’hllor. Victarion eventually trusts Moqorro enough to show him Dragonbinder, after which the Priest reads the Valyrian glyphs, naming the horn as well as proclaiming that no mortal man can survive blowing the horn. To wield the horn, Victarion must claim the horn with blood. The master of the horn will command the will of the dragons. Daenerys even laments lacking a horn to control Drogon. Will the Ironborn Greyjoy take control of her children or will she retain control? 
  • Jon Connington and the Golden Company landed scattered over the Stormlands where they successfully take Griffin’s Roost, as well as a few other castles. Rumors trickle into King’s Landing about sellswords showing up in Westeros, however people do not realize yet that they are not attributed to Stannis, but yet another individual vying for the throne. During this exiled Hand’s inner dialogue we hear him comment on how Rhaegar’s wife was not worthy of him, as well as making reference to ‘loving too hard.’ Since he has never been linked to a female character, it is easy to make the link that he loved Rheagar, especially since every time his old friend mentions the deceased Prince it is only in terms of adoration.

“I rose too high, loved too hard, dared too much. I tried to grasp a star, overreached, and fell.”

  •   Connington’s progression with greyscale continues to work its way up his arm. It is interesting to see how his story line evolves, having emerged out of the blue during ADWD.

  • Until that last few chapters in the book, we were kept in suspense regarding if Daenerys had survived her dragon escape from the fighting pits. We learn that she has been traveling all over with Drogon, however he returns every night to the same den. She finally leaves Drogon, for fear of starving to death and wishing to return to Meereen, however she soon becomes compromised along the way due to drinking contaminated water and eating suspicious berries. In a most dramatic cliffhanger, she gets her moonblood, however comments on how heavy it is compared to normal. Also, she can’t recall the last time that she had her moonsblood. I’ve read a lot of theories that this is a sign that her fertility has returned, or that she is having a miscarriage, which would certainly be Dario’s child.

    Sunset found her squatting in the grass, groaning. Every stool was looser than the one before, and smelled fouler. By the time the moon came up she was shitting brown water. The more she drank, the more she shat, but the more she shat, the thirstier she grew, and her thirst sent her crawling to the stream to suck up more water. When she closed her eyes at last, Dany did not know whether she would be strong enough to open them again.

    Moon blood, it’s only my moon blood, but she did not remember ever having such a heavy flow. Could it be the water? If it was the water, she was doomed. She had to drink or die of thirst.

  • Other bloggers suspect that she has contracted the Pale Mare. I doubt this because it has been established that Targaryens do not get sick. If she was going to get sick, I’m sure she would have contracted the illness before now. Regardless, in her illness Drogon comes to her and she climbs aboard, whereupon they encounter the khalasar of Khal Jhaqo in the Dothraki sea. Jhaqo had previously betrayed Daenerys and Drogo just before his death. Interestingly, Daenerys appears to be able to control Drogon more than usual during this flight. They track down the khalasar, killing a wayward horse. Both the Queen and her dragon feast while a group of the warriors ride up, offering a most dramatic scene. What will happen to Daenerys?

  • Additionally, while Daenerys suffers from cramping and hallucinations, she is visited again by Quaithe, who offers the query, “Remember who you are Daenerys, the dragons know, do you?” Any interesting question because she has been trying all book to play the peaceful ruler, abandoning her journey to Westeros. Perhaps, Quaithe is wanting her to be the conqueror that she is meant to be?

  • Jon’s last chapter is almost as devastating as the Red Wedding.  He receives a letter from Ramsey that is written in blood, detailing Stannis’ defeat, revealing that Mance Rayder is still living, Arya’s escape, and threatening Jon’s own life.  There are so many truths in this letter that Mance must have been captured, however we don’t know if the bit about Stannis is true. It must be doubted because fake Arya and his ‘Reek’ were delivered to Stannis’ camp in Asha’s last chapter.  Jon makes the decision to ride against Ramsey with a bunch of Wildlings, essentially betraying the ideals of the Night’s Watch, who he sends north to collect survivors from Hardhome. Immediately following this announcement, Jon runs to the aid of the provoked Giant who is bellowing and making all sorts of noise.  In the chaos, Jon is heartbreakingly stabbed multiple times by his brother’s of the Night’s Watch, specifically one of his advisors Bowen Marsh.  Although we do not know his exact fate, personally, I foresee three main outcomes from his current predicament.
  1. Jon Snow is just plain old dead. This wouldn’t be the first time that Martin has pulled this ploy, e.g., Rob, Ned, Joffrey, however I highly doubt this is the eventual outcome.  Too much time and effort has been make to create an enigma surrounding his parentage.
  2. Jon wargs into Ghost. Prior to my reread, this was my favorite theory, thinking that he could eventually warg back into someone else, similar to Hordor and Bran. However, I recant this theory due to rereading Varamyr Sixskin’s POV in the prologue where he establishes what happens when the human body of a warg dies and goes into that of their wolf skin.  Humanity is lost very shortly after the transition is made.
  3. My third theory involves Melisandre bringing him back to life.
    1. She could bring him back to life similar to Beric Donndarian or Lady Stoneheart, Coldhands. However, I feel like this links him to R’hllor too strongly and makes him not as much a person.
    2. Somehow she brings him back as Azor Ahai, (My favorite) where he retains memories and keeps his humanity.

Regardless of this outcome, as long as he survives I believe this is his get out of jail card for the Night’s Watch. Time for this bastard to wreck havoc on the rest of the Seven Kingdoms.

Your false king is dead, bastard. He and all his host were smashed in seven days of battle. I have his magic sword. Tell his red whore.

Your false king’s friends are dead. Their heads upon the walls of Winterfell. Come see them, bastard. Your false king lied, and so did you. You told the world you burned the King-Beyond-the-Wall. Instead you sent him to Winterfell to steal my bride from me.

I will have my bride back. If you want Mance Rayder back, come and get him. I have him in a cage for all the north to see, proof of your lies. The cage is cold, but I have made him a warm cloak from the skins of the six whores who came with him to Winterfell.

I want my bride back. I want the false king’s queen. I want his daughter and his red witch. I want this wildling princess. I want his little prince, the wildling babe. And I want my Reek. Send them to me, bastard, and I will not trouble you or your black crows. Keep them from me, and I will cut out your bastard’s heart and eat it.

Ramsay Bolton, Trueborn Lord of Winterfell.

  • The epilogue contains an entirely new POV from Kevan Lannister. Kevin appears to be a competent Lord Regent and Hand for Tommen, already making strides at fixing the many problems that Cersei had caused during her short time advising. When word emerges that the sellswords are backing Aegon, he even ruminates on the possibility that this Prince is legitimate because the slain babe that was presented to Robert was beyond recognition. Additionally, in a conversation with Cersei and Tommen, my favorite black cat is brought up yet again! This is the battered cat, that was once Aegon’s sister’s, has been brought up throughout the series from Joffery to Arya. During this dinner, Kevan is summoned to Pycelle’s chambers where a white raven is waiting to announce that Winter has arrived, but alas that is not the only surprise for Kevan as Varys is lying wait in ambush.  Varys had already killed Pycelle and proceeds to kill Kevan, eliminating any stability that the Iron Throne might have achieved through his steady hand.  Where had Varys been hiding? I was totally blown away by this sequence, because honestly, it is the epilogue. Who kills off who main characters in the epilogue? Oh I forgot there are no rules with Martin!

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20 comments

  1. I haven’t read this post yet, Sarah, because you know, SPOILERS. But I do plan on picking up these behemoths soon. Soon. Gosh. Do they intimidate me? 😂 And it takes a lot of time to do such analysis posts, so keep up the great job! I’m sure to come back to this after I start reading George R. R Martin’s works. Fingers crossed 🙈😚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Anj! They are so worth picking up! Good luck! I’ve been reading them on audio book for my reread and felt as though it made the task a bit less overwhelming. I can’t wait to see what you think about them!

      Like

  2. Loved loved loved your review. I saw the series first and then started reading the books. Finished book 1 and i think the series was most closest to it than the other books. The second one is nearly done and I am taking my time reading it because I don’t want to miss a single point. In this regard, Harry Potter books and GOT is very similar; a slight mention in one book turns out to be important in another!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true! I couldn’t believe how little details sprinkled in one book would blossom into a monster in later books. Going slow is a good idea because you don’t want to get overwhelmed either! Good luck and happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. These in-depth reviews for this series are fantastic! Well done. And most helpful, too, since it’s sometimes hard to keep things straight between books while the series is going.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, you super fan you 😂 Your story about the release of ADWD made me laugh; now here’s to hoping for a satisfying WoW! It’s probably the most highly anticipated fantasy out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Thanks Christy! I agree! Every time Martin postpones the date it gets everyone even more in a tizzy. I really hope it isn’t a let down. It is hard when expectations are so high. Have you read this series?

      Like

      • I read the first book and watched the first season, but I haven’t continued on yet. I’m not very familiar with grimdark, but I’ve just about concluded that I’m a little too squeamish Lol I know I’m in the minority here. I work in a library and not a day goes by without someone checking out something GoT! I’m so glad you’re enjoying them though! You enthusiasm is contagious; I’m super tempted to try A Clash of Kings now.

        Liked by 1 person

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