(Index to previous A Dance with Dragons posts, here.)
An aside about the physical object: I still have no regrets about buying the hulking mass of maybe-I-won’t-read-this-one-whilst-I-walk-to-work; I still think the cover art is chic and stylish; the matt finish, though? Umm. Let’s just say that I have never managed to crap up the cover of a book quite so badly before, and this baby has almost never left the house since I brought it home. I’d show you a picture, but it’s late and my main light crapped out a couple of days ago – I’m typing by lamp-light – so if I took a photo you wouldn’t see much. (And yes, I said a couple of days ago. I haven’t replaced it yet. I am simultaneously afraid of potential spiders in the lampshade and in the box where I keep my spare bulbs. That, and I’m lazy. Do you want me to write a review, or do you want me to change a light-bulb? Only one practical thing per evening, folks!)
Chapter 27: Tyrion
Did I mention that I liked this chapter? I liked this chapter. I really liked this chapter. Tyrion and Ser Jorah brought together at last! And then…! With the…!But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s have a recap. Last we saw him, Tyrion was being abducted by an anonymous ‘knight’ who was taking him to see the ‘queen’. We were obviously supposed to assume that this was Cersei; I dunno about you, but I was rooting for Ser Jorah taking him to see Daenerys anyway. You all know I want to get Tyrion and Daenerys together, and apparently I now have a crush on Ser Jorah, so I was enjoying that, too. It has been alleged on Twitter that my current infatuation has more to do with the fact that Iain Glenn plays him in the TV series than the character himself. I can’t imagine what would give anyone that idea. I mean, what’s sexy about this (above-right)? And, no, I didn’t publically melt into a puddle on seeing that he was in Downton Abbey. Anyone who says differently has obviously been hypnotised by his deliciously reverberating voice… Ummm.
Honestly, I can’t remember whether I gave two hoots about Ser Jorah before I saw the TV series. It’s astonishing the things I have forgotten, and I usually have an annoyingly good memory for books. (Annoying, because it makes them difficult to reread.) But I must confess that it rather suggests he wasn’t really on my radar before. I don’t especially care. Some of the actors on Game of Thrones have differed sufficiently from my mental picture such that stepping back into the book version caused a bit of a jar. Despite my adoration of Peter Dinklage, and the fact that Tyrion was always one of my favourite characters, I simply can’t deny that I don’t find the Tyrion of the books sexy at all, whereas, Dinklage? Yes, I would. They’re similar, but subtly different characters. Tyrion of the books is funny and engaging and clever, but his charisma lacks the youthful freshness of Dinklage’s portrayal – it’s just a shade more bitter, more mature. But Ser Jorah… however he was written before, the writing now melds seamlessly with the picture in my head created by Game of Thrones and Iain Glenn’s delectable portrayal. Gosh. What a shame.
Anyway, Jorah is taking Tyrion south, apparently not having told him his name or anything like that. Tyrion remains sure he’s being taken to Cersei for a surprisingly long period of time, even after he figures out who Jorah is. I mean, come on – Westeros is in the north, what way are you going, Tyrion? You know there’s more than one queen. Why wouldn’t the man admit it if he were taking you to Cersei?
Ah well, it makes for a nice bit of tension. You know I love a bit of concealed identity, and we get two for one in this chapter – after all, Tyrion cuts a recognisable sort of figure as well. They nicely dance around the issue through most of the chapter, then Jorah takes Tyrion to see the widow of the waterfront, aka Vogarro’s whore. The widow is a lady who used to be a whore, but was then married by a very influential man. After his death she inherited his fortune and carried on his works and made his power her own. If she weren’t a former slave, she would almost certainly have been elected as a Triarch, despite the disadvantages of her gender – there is precedence, we are told. If anyone can get them passage to Meereen on the sly, it is she.
Of course, once Jorah reveals that it’s Meereen he’s headed to, Tyrion practically wets himself with laughter. It’s a nice moment, but I would have felt it more if it didn’t require Tyrion to hold the idiot ball for a bit. Nevermind. It’s a small part of a stonking chapter.
Of course, the widow knows exactly who they are and that they have nothing she wants. Or rather, they might do, but Jorah isn’t as quick as Tyrion at working out what that is, and he foolishly offers her money – as though she needed that. In the meantime, Tyrion has been clocked by someone. A fellow dwarf, and a young one. This was a tense and interesting part, well-played. Lots of things were racing through my mind. If this person is a dwarf, what if this is actually the child of Tyrion and Tysha, grown up to hate him? That’s stupid, of course, dwarfism isn’t usually hereditary and how would the child recognise him anyway? But hey, it’s fantasy, who knows? O’course, it could also just be a short person, like, say, Arya? Come to kill Tyrion for trying to murder her brother? (She doesn’t know the truth of that, after all.) It’s also nicely played, there, as the person, when they come charging at Tyrion, does so saying it’s because he got her brother killed…
But, of course, it’s neither of those things. It turns out to be one of the dwarves that were jousting as entertainment for Joffrey’s wedding feast. After Tyrion killed Joffrey, some idiots killed her brother, mistaking him for Tyrion, or at least thinking they could say it was him. It’s also a nice moment because it gives both Tyrion and Jorah the chance to show that they’re not bad sorts, and gallant in their own ways. Jorah protects Tyrion, Tyion tells Jorah to let the girl go, once he realises what’s up, and Jorah does, apologising to her.
In response, the widow says: ‘Knights defend the weak an protect the innocent, they say. And I am the fairest maid in all Volantis’. Her words are scornful in tone, but not entirely, methinks, in substance. She dismissed Jorah’s reasons for taking Tyrion to Daenerys because they sounded like the sort of romantic twaddle that could only be lies. Yet she’s seen that he does have a sort of honour, and she clearly likes Tyrion. Choosing to believe that he really intends to serve Daenerys, the widow tells Jorah: ‘Should you reach your queen, give her a message from the slaves of Old Volantis… Tell her we are waiting. Tell her to come soon’ – and, man, I felt a tingle just copying that out. It’s a fabulous line with a finely crafted lead-up.
Tyrion’s idiot-ball induced stupidity is more than made up for in other ways. Firstly is his insight into the widow. He quickly sees that what she wants is respect. She’s a tough, smart lady who has earned power and wealth against all the odds, building a place in the community that, despite the fact that she is called by two names that define her in terms of her relationship to a man, is her place and her power. Yet she is barred from having her status recognised and achieving the election she clearly deserves because she was once a slave. She wants recognition, and she feels an affinity for a woman who was sold to a man and carved a nation and an army for herself by freeing slaves. She doesn’t want fairytales of princesses being rescued, she wants emissaries that will take her message to Daenerys and call her to Volantis – call her to take her war to them.
Tyrion also shows his smarts in other ways. You may recall my concerns about his plan for Young Griff to go north instead of south – that although it had some feasibility it under-estimated Daenerys and the distance between Meereen and Westeros. Turns out Tyrion didn’t think it was that great a plan either. He’s a disappointed to hear that Young Griff et al are headed north, rather than south. He recognises, as I suggested, that blood and a call to rally to someone else’s claim to the thrown aren’t going to greatly impress a queen like Daenerys. A call from another former slave and strong woman to come rescue slaves, however? She just might come to that.
I also enjoyed the relationship between Jorah and Tyrion. Methinks Jorah is starting to like Tyrion in spite of himself. A cliche? perhaps, but it’s well done.
Soon, my Dream Team will be coming together: Tyrion, Daenerys, Jorah, and Quentyn. Yes. This is what is going to happen. Nothing could possibly go wrong. It’s not like it’s a George R R Martin book, after all.
Oh wait. They’re all screwed, aren’t they?
Chapter 28: Jon
Less happens in this chapter. Some information gets exchanged, and some bits and bobs get set up.
Jon gets in on some training and shows he’s better than all the new recruits – quelle suprise – but then the Lord of Bones shows up and tests Jon’s metal. Jon finds him surprisingly spry for a man of his size. Hmm, isn’t that odd? Jon then gets a letter notifying him of Arya’s impending marriage to Lord Ramsay. And Jon is all ‘Noooo – I mean… oh dear. That poor girl. But she’s not my sister anymore. I am a good man of the Night’s Watch. I don’t have any sisters anymore. Nope’. But then Lady
Melodrama Melisandre shows up and is all ‘I have seen your sister in my visions, Jon Snow… She’s running away. I can help you save her, if you give me your soul…‘.
It’s a nice little chapter that’s as long as it needs to be, and no longer. Lady M is still boring me to tears, and I’m all ‘But that’s not Arya‘, but it is Jeyne Poole, and that poor girl doesn’t deserve such a fate anymore than Arya does. Jon will be so sad when they rescue her (as they clearly will) and it turns out not to be his sister. But at least it looks like Ramsay won’t succeed in his aim of legitimising his rule of the North with this fake marriage to Arya. Not that you can ever bank on anything with these books.
Not much more to say about this chapter. If you’ve read any further (as I now have) you’ll know there are things about it that make you look back and go ‘Ohhhhhh’, but I aim to stay spoiler-free for all points up to the chapter currently being discussed, so I’ll leave it there. It’s past my bedtime, anyway.