I’m hoping it doesn’t have to be said that all of these Read Along with Rhube reviews are going to be spoiler heavy. Essentially, I am assuming you’ve either read the chapters mentioned in the subject heading, or you don’t care. The nice thing is that if you’ve read some chapters, but not all, you can just pull up all the Read Along with Rhube posts via the categories, find where you’ve got to, and read only what you’ve already seen. I hope it works out like that, anyway.
On to the review!
Chapter Four: Bran
So, in this chapter we learn that Bran is not dead after all. Or rather, we’re reminded of that. As I mentioned in the previous RAWR post, I have rather lost track of some of the individual plots over the last few years in a way I hadn’t expected, and that’s a shame. I’m spending more time going ‘Ohhhhh yes, I remember’, or ‘Nope, sorry, still don’t have a clue’, rather than simply resuming a plot and excitedly pressing on to find out what happened. I could go on a Wikipedia spree and try to catch up, but apart from the fact that I want to avid accidental spoiling for other things, I think my confusion reflects something significant about the books and how they’ve been structured. I’m fully aware that George R R Martin is not my bitch or anyone else’s, but the long wait and unusual release decisions do have an effect worth recording.
So, here I am, dimly picking up the threads of Bran’s plot – remembering who Meera and Jojen are and why Bran is pressing on into the North whilst everyone else is running south. He’s travelling with a dead ranger to find the three-eyed crow of his visions. Rockin’.
It’s easy to forget that not everyone knows what the reader knows about the walking dead by this point. To me, it’s obvious that the ranger is a dead man, but the other characters spend most of the chapter figuring this out. This, combined with the now familiar scene setting that ‘it’s cold up North’, makes the chapter initially a bit slower going than the previous two. However, there are definitely elements of interest.
Following the opening scenes of the prologue, where we are told of (and see) the dangers of what can happen to a man who possesses wolves whilst they eat the flesh of other humans, or who possesses another human himself, it’s definitely creepy to read that Bran has been casually possessing Hodor, and to go with him as his direwolf feasts on the flesh of dead men of the Watch.
Also, despite the fact that it’s no surprise to the reader that the ranger is a dead man, the revelation of his status to the characters in the novel is very nicely built up to. The fact that he seems to have been leading them in circles, lying to them, killing men of the Watch… all distinctly troubling things that really make you wonder for the safety of Bran and his companions. And yet, the ranger does seem to have their interests at heart. And when he confesses at the end of the chapter that he is a monster, but ‘Your monster, Brandon Stark’ it is both poetically satisfying and chilling, nicely confirming and combining both the disquiet and reassurance we have been working through in our own minds.
There’s also a tantalizing question raised. There are two ways of reading that line. After all, we’ve known more than one Brandon Stark, and one was a ranger of the Night’s Watch, lost North of the Wall, possibly dead. Even though he refuses to reveal his face, is he tacitly confessing his own identity here as well?
Chapter Five: Tyrion
Ah, back with me old fave, Tyrion. This is an interesting and well-told chapter, but it’s largely getting us from A to B. It’s both literally and figuratively concerned with transporting Tyrion further along the road towards a meeting with Daenerys. In some ways, I’m loving this. With my new found admiration for the Dragon Queen, I’m all hot and bothered by the thought of her and Tyrion getting together and joining forces. I have a feeling that either something disastrous or fearsome will result, and I suspect the latter more than the former.
So, in some ways I’m all perked up at reading of Tyrion learning things that we already know about Daenerys for the first time. On the other hand, though, there’s not really a great deal to say about this chapter. It’s getting the job done – doing so in style, but that’s about it.
I don’t think I’ve anything else to report, for now. Tune in next time, for more of my thoughts on A Dance with Dragons.