Sunday, 27 September 2015

Finished A Dance with Dragons and The Winds of Winter excerpt on 12/9/2015. I can understand many of the problems with it. The Daenerys storyline really seemed to drag, so I understand the term the Meereenese knot. Her last chapter felt really boring, her walking along for ages. And unsurprisingly she's made things worse in Slaver's Bay. Astapor is now in ruins, and Yunkai is doing the best out of the three cities as they re-instituted their Masters. I found reading about the Yunkish army hilarious, with the Yellow Whale, the Pigeon and the Clanker Lords. Quentyn's storyline wasn't that exciting though, and ultimately doesn't seem to have played much of a part. However I will say it does show how out-of-touch Dany is and how she will have trouble returning to Westeros after the impact she has made in Essos. It will probably take many years for Slaver's Bay to recover. And her comments about Ned made her so unlikeable and further shows she doesn't understand the circumstances. Not that D&D got that.
The Northern storyline was the one I was most engaged in. I liked the Northern politics, and the way Stannis begins to earn the respect of the North, giving them an opportunity for vengeance. The Battle of Deepwood Motte was a great read, as Stannis drives the Ironborn out of the North and captures the Kraken's daughter. Stannis may have cursed Robb but as he pointed out to Davos they were committing treason, and he still wants to avenge their treacherous murder. And despite the series' obsession with showing his burning obsession, he comes across as far more reasonable in the books. He points out to the Queens' Men much of his army don't believe in R'hllor, and only burns men who have committed crimes anyway. Perhaps next book some Suns of Winter will burn.
Lord Manderly is like the Northern Doran Martell, a weak and compliant appearance, planning to get back at the House who murdered a relative and re-institute his liege Lords. And his revenge on those three unpleasant Freys... just like Titus Andronicus, though that trick is an old one, and is even in Herodotus' account of Cyrus' life. I like the way a quite minor character, Wex Pyke, suddenly turns up and plays an important part.
Theon becomes much more sympathetic, especially after what the monstrous Bastard of the Dreadfort (with a title like that u know they're evil) puts him through. The Wedding Night scene is even nastier then on TV. The plotting in Winterfell shows the weaknesses in the Bolton regime. It feels like an Agatha Christie book, a group of people who don't like each other in an isolated area, where murders keep happening.
The storyline at the Wall was good as well. Jon making terms with the Wildlings. Then helping Alys out and perhaps winning Thenn support. I find Alys a likeable character as I do her husband. The Thenns are much better Wildlings as they hold more respect for laws. Perhaps Sigorn becoming Lord of Karhold will lead to more understanding between the Northmen and Wildlings, allowing the Thenns to survive the Winter. Alys seems a foil to Dany and I find her much more likable.
That final moment with Jon is quite a shock, and much better done with the show. But I think Mel might bring him back. Mel comes across as quite sympathetic here, trying to help Jon, and showing that, even though she advocates brutal things like burnings, she is trying to do her duty like Stannis and Jon, and feels she is protecting the world. The Others certainly seem the greatest threat to Westeros so this does seem justified.
Tyrion's plot. Tyrion isn't as interesting, as he moves through Essos, and seems less sympathetic. Young Griff, who I shall refer to as Aegon, is not the most interesting of characters, despite Varys describing him as The Ace, well-suited to ruling. A6 may have Targ blood, but I'm not yet certain if he is really Aegon, considering Varys' talk about power. The theory he is a Blackfyre, perhaps descended from Bittersteel, has some weight. Or he could just be someone from Lys, where there are Valyrian features. He probably believes he is Aegon. Jon C is quite sympathetic though. He seems decent in trying to do his duty to his friend and place their son on the IT, even after their father banished him.
Bran's storyline. So Bloodraven is alive. I wonder whose side he is really on? He was a very sinister figure, even before he became a tree. It could go either way whether he wants to help or oppose the Others. It doesn't look like Bran will return south to the North, but I'm quite sure he'll see some interesting things through the trees.
Riverlands: Brienne seems to be luring Jaime into a trap. I think Pod and Hyle are hostages. I made a BWB theories page on the Wiki of Ice and Fire where I said I think the BWB are planning a major attack on the Freys, at Riverrun or the Twins. Maybe at Daven's wedding to a Frey.
The King's Landing plot. Well Cersei's power seems broken. The Tyrells come across as unpleasant and arrogant. Kevan seems a decent enough character, someone who could restore stability. But that was quite an ending. Varys murdering Kevan to spread more chaos and help Aegon invade.
Hosteen Frey. Needed something to break the ice. The preview chapter for TWOW was a nice touch. It seems Stannis has a plan to defeat the Freys. I favor the theory he'll lure Ser Stupid onto the ice, wrecking the Frey cavalry. I don't believe the Pink Letter. Either Stannis sent a false letter or Ramsay lied. Perhaps Stannis defeated the Freys, then disguised his troops as Freys and Karstarks to get into Winterfell, and told Ramsay Stannis was dead. Ramsay then sent a letter in which he exaggerated the details of the battle he had heard.
Like AFFC there isn't a feel of a big event happening, more things being set up. Deepwood Motte was a battle, but it seems relatively minor. The Battle of Winterfell is about to happen, hopefully not like that pathetic joke from the series, which feels like the definition of They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot, so the books version being better won't be saying much. Victarian is approaching Slaver's Bay, and the Battle of Meereen is about to start. The Golden Company is taking control of the Stormlands. The Crow's Eye is attacking the Reach. I look forward very much to The Winds of Winter.

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