Playin’ with Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Jon Snow Chapter 5

She’s new, I’m the re-reader. She’s the newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together we are rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. We now move on to the first Jon Snow chapter, and the classic meeting between him and G.O.A.T. candidate, Tyrion Lannister.

If you missed our previous chapter, go back and check up on Ned Stark.

game of thrones

An A Game of Thrones Chapter by Chapter Read and React

Elena –

I wanted to start off with a few macro thoughts that have occurred to me either in between reading “Eddard” and “Jon” or after reading this latest chapter.

Are the Starks (Winterfell = ice) and the Targaryens (dragon = fire) the two houses, both alike in dignity, referred to in the very name of the series?  And is this one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, or simply one of his histories?

In a couple people’s comments, I was…nudged…on my seeming reluctance to “jump in” to this story, which I take to mean get emotionally drawn in by the characters.  I spent some time thinking about whether I am (and y’all were complaining about how meta I was already being before now.  Ha!  That’s what you get! J).  First, if there’s any doubt, I am enjoying the hell out of this story so far.  Just because I’m nitpicking doesn’t mean I’m not liking it.  Second, I think it’s a fair point, because I am a bit leery of taking anyone or anything at face value here, which, yes, does translate to keeping a distance from the characters.  For now.

I pondered why, and it’s because I have not yet decided which characters I want to trust.  I say “want to” for a reason.  I don’t know whether all of them are presenting reality in a…real sense, or if the English major term “unreliable narrator” might be applicable to some or all of these characters.  I can’t implicitly trust any of these characters, because obviously we are being presented only the world as they see it.  If one of them is delusional, s/he might not know that, therefore we don’t know that.  Or perhaps one of them might simply be so myopic in worldview and/or so excellent at rationalizing that the way their brain interprets what should be impartial data would become indistinguishable from delusion to someone reading their “thoughts.”

Even the word choice that the characters use for their own thoughts and feelings can make a world of difference:  does one “blame” or “credit” a cause of something?  I haven’t yet decided whether I think Martin’s MO involves creating unreliable points of view to muddy things.  I haven’t read enough to be sure, but it has occurred to me that he might build in unstable elements.  Thus, I can’t just assume the characters are presenting an accurate depiction of the world even if it is their honest depiction of it.  In fact, of the first four chapters, the most trustworthy point of view to me is Bran’s, simply because he is too young to lie to himself.  He might not understand everything around him, but it’s not deception, and those are different issues.

Speaking of carryovers from Bran’s point of view way back three chapters ago, I really liked what I saw of Jon Snow then, so I was very excited to jump into his point of view here.  Aside:  does it make me a cougar if that liking turns into a crush on the kid?  I mean he is only 14, and at the ages these weirdos are talking about marrying off daughters and sisters that would totally (if barely) make me old enough to be his mom in this world.  Lol.  Rrrow.

As it happens, I continued to like Jon after seeing the world through his eyes for an evening.  I found his perspective very sympathetic.  I was a weird kid—improperly socialized is how I like to put it now—but whatever the actual case or reason for it, I was always an outsider at school and in social contexts, and like Jon does with his bastard status, I spent a lot of time observing everyone around me.  His level of perception implies he’s intelligent, and his outburst about never siring bastards presents a strong level of self-awareness.  He’s a son defining himself to some extent against his father’s mistakes—and that, as well, is something that makes him relatable.

I wondered, during his conversation with his uncle, who is Jon’s mother?  It seems weird to me that he doesn’t know.  And it made Uncle Benji’s (yes, I know it’s Benjen, but it made me think of Benji, and who doesn’t love that dog?) comment “mothers usually are [some kind of woman]” sort of mean.  It seemed like he was trying to make a joke—I mean, he wasn’t trying to imply that sometimes children are born to creatures other than human women…OR WAS HE?  Shit!—and it just fell flat because it’s such an obvious thing that to “state the obvious” becomes insulting in the context.  ’Cause, yo, Jon has no frame of reference.

He doesn’t know if his mama was slave or enemy or whore or his father’s first love or just some girl at a roadside inn, he doesn’t know how his father felt about her, he doesn’t know if she was willing or if she was forced, he doesn’t….And that’s his fucking mother, and not knowing can eat at one’s mind a million times more than knowing, even if the answer is distasteful.  Maybe he does know some of those details, but all that he thought of here was that he didn’t know who she was, which to me implies not knowing any of the rest.

The dwarf’s comment that Jon has “more of the north in him” than his half-siblings, makes me suspect she was a girl from Stark lands.  But then again maybe she was just someone from a really weak set of genetics that were easier for Stark traits to dominate than whatever Catelyn brought up from the south.  I also wonder if his unknown heritage is meant to be a ticking time bomb, or indicative of a bastard’s typical status in that culture—that no one bothered to notice who bore him, because he’s a bastard son.  At least he can be sure that his father believes Jon is his son, and treats him like it, and that might well be better than the average situation for a by-blow.

I was glad to get a clearer look at some of the guests.  Jon’s impression of the king matches my own, which was not flattering, but he must be king for a reason…right?  So maybe he’ll redeem his current dissolution later.  Jon is obviously very taken with his uncle and the idea of being a guard on The Wall.  I don’t know whether to hope he stays behind, proud and alone but unbullied by what is likely to be a rougher life in the south, given how his father demoted him from the family table so as to not upset the queen, or to hope he isn’t given the choice to hide from the world.  I know his uncle said he wasn’t ready, but if Jon begged his father, Stark might let him stay for the reason above.

What I didn’t get out of it was any better sense of the other children, either the royal or the rest of Jon’s siblings, nor Catelyn nor the queen.  Yes, the queen came off looking kind of proud and bitchy, but that had been established by comments about “Lannister pride,” so that was really nothing new.  Jon didn’t mention much about his stepmother at all—does he hate her?  Or was she simply invisible next to an important stranger because of her familiarity?

Which actually brings up a point I was bitching about to discussing with Jay, and he promises me that it eventually gets better.  But for now I am a little bit disgruntled with surprise and frustration at how…bland all of the females seem so far.

What I mean by this is, I have had strong reactions to several of the male characters, some positive and some negative.  The females have been present but not really there, and I’m unwilling to take the men’s impressions of them as irrefutable.  In the case of Dany and Catelyn both, I got no read on their own personalities because both of them spent the entire chapter thinking about the men around them.  So why are all the females so placid?  Such nulls?

Is this intentional—I mean, is Martin subtly reinforcing gender roles in this society, that either women all learn how to cultivate an inoffensive mask so that their real emotions and motives are constantly inscrutable, or to show how women are so unimportant that they don’t even notice each other?  The latter seems inconsistent with having several major characters be females (I’m assuming that any pov character is a major character) and also with the deference given to the queen’s family.

Maybe that’s more about them being Lannisters then it is about them being her relatives, though.  From various things I’ve heard, I do expect at some point to be able to form actual opinions about these ladies, but for now I’m honestly a little weirded out about the fact that all of them mentioned are still such blank slates when so many of the male characters are not.

I loved Jon’s interactions with his direwolf.  Ghost, of the red eyes and silent steps and utterly intractable pride of place.  I still see him as being a personality analog to his master.

Which leads into one final more general thought I had, after thinking back over the chapter and what the dwarf said to Jon:  Are the characters chosen for each section chosen because that scene is/could be a defining moment in their life?  Bran, seeing his first execution.  Dany, discovering what her brother has planned for her.  Ned, being faced with no choice but to leave his home, his land, and his people to obey the whim of his king.

Jon, hearing what might well become his life motto for the first time.  The only one that doesn’t fit this is Catelyn—not sure what in her chapter could even by a stretch be considered a defining life moment.  But the others kind of do.  If that’s not a spoiler to answer with a “generally yes” or “maybe sometimes but not really” can you re-readers weigh in on that?  I think it would color how I read scenes to know, one way or the other, and before you get all “blank slate!  BLANK SLATE!” on me, please remember…I’m likely to keep it as theory and start misreading things if left to my own suppositions.

–Do not read on if you have not read the series through A Feast for Crows and want to avoid spoilers–

Jay –

Sometimes a chapter just speaks for itself. Going into this chapter I thought I’d have a lot more to say, partly because I knew this was the chapter that Jon would both meet Tyrion and offer his impressions of the royal procession. Instead, I found that it was a chapter – maybe even a classic one in my reading experience – that I soaked and basked in, and that would instead pleasantly elicit a spirited and lengthy response from my Westeros wing-woman who seems to have suddenly got hit with an explosion of possibilities, crackpots to the head and all!

As I’ve said before, that almost guaranteed positive shared experience – a recommendation that almost can’t go wrong – is one of the most exciting elements of this series. It’s the spec-fic slam dunk that never gets old, staying fresh with every new convert to the fold. This may sound really lame, but I get excited when I see an email from Elena now because it just might be about aSoIaF and not just the usual BSC policy related communique. After all, the only thing better than A Song of Ice and Fire is talking about it (henceforth will be called the first rule of Gestalt Club). But why now?

Well, it’s somewhat comfortable ground. I’d almost say that this chapter feels like the second Jon Snow chapter because he kind of stole the show in the first one, but I think I’d be unjustly diminishing Martin’s quiet accomplishment of presenting a POV filtered through a young(er) child. Above is my favorite of Elena’s breakdowns yet, and I wonder – even with her trepidations stated – if Jon kind of anchors the book for some (and perhaps myself in the beginning) readers because of his gullying of the initial chapter and simply (or rather, not so simply) being the “familiar” speculative fiction character, stocked with unknown parentage, searching for a destiny, and with an animal companion already in tow. He initially resembles as close to a traditional fantasy protagonist as we will get in the series.

This observations seems to work for me because, at least for myself, Jon kind of spins off that traditional trail just around the time Martin has trapped us into loving soapy intrigue of court and King’s Landing. Unrelated, but just zapped into my mind (and I’m trying to keep this real) – I don’t even want to mention this because it’s silly – but did anyone ever say Jon Snow, and think John Doe?

Okay, probably not, let’s move on and forget I said that! In the last chapter breakdown I, as an aside, mentioned Tyrion as a character who wants to “SEE“, and what I meant by that is a character that lives outside even the drama of their own lives, those that are slightly less self-invested. In an unrelated email swappage with Elena I mentioned that I always tend to notice “readers” in novels I read (possibly because I am one or due to some lasting affection for childhood favorite films that featured such, like The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story).

There are several people who “see” in this series, readers like a Tyrion, who as he himself (and Elena) points out the dwarf/bastard perspective, or a Rodrick Harlaw later. In a setting and society like this it seems apparent that experience and action that carries more weight and spawns more accolades – especially for males – and I think the certain oddness that Rhaegar’s own interests were viewed as is proof of that (indeed Sam is sent to the Wall for showing a too slanted interest in non-martial forms) even when he seems to have been more than ideal in “both” worlds – he of course went off and got killed by the quintessential man of physical action, a hammer wielding, whoring, melee stalwart in Robert who doesn’t even like reciting his own titles (though let’s give him a break, he was on his deathbed).

White, gold, crimson: the direwolf of Stark, Baratheon’s crowned stag, the lion of Lannister.

I know it will be remarked upon again later (I think by Catelyn regarding the royal children wearing the colors of Lannister as equal), but I wonder if it was common on such occasion that the Lannister banner would be as prominent as both the royal and hosting house. If so, is it because it’s the family of the Queen or is because of House Lannister’s status in general (rich, powerful, Wardens of the West).

“Don’t you usually eat at table with your brothers?”

“Most times,” Jon answered in a flat voice.

Kind of relates to the above. Jon mentions he has no prescribed future like his half brothers and sisters (the idea of which is a fallacy that gets thrown on it’s head for the Stark brood) so he has to think outward. He obviously knows the opinion that Catelyn has of him (speaking of which, I wonder if Ned would have sat him at the table if she said nothing –thoughts?), especially if you consider his own possible secrets regarding Jon.

Daeren Targaryen was only fourteen when he conquered Dorne,” Jon said. The Young Dragon was one of his heroes.

It’s just interesting that one of Jon’s heroes is a Targaryen, though not overly so since the unique nature of that family likely causes them to be central part of much of recent history. We get our introduction to who is perhaps my favorite character in fiction. Tyrion Lannister is just genius, a character that splits the underdog and pro-privileged vote, as lovable a true born bastard you’re going to find. We of course have plenty of time and more to see from Tyrion, but I just want to make it plain: Love the ‘lil guy.

Tyrion Lannister spun around in a tight ball, landed lightly on his hands, then vaulted backward onto his legs.

He’s still the best character I’ve ever read in fiction. Call it Jon’s drunk POV, claim it as a since-latent gymnastic talent, I’ll call it an absurd “Ta-DA!”, an oddly apt circus-like entrance trumpeting his introduction of the show. Jon offers us description of the Lannisters and Cersei’s children (which of course comes into play later), but it is Tyrion who reveals Jon to us:

“You have more of the north in you than your brothers.”

I might get trumped in the next few chapters because in the back of my mind I seem to recall that Tyrion made the trip up north to see the Wall, but if that’s not true I always wondered why a man in his physical condition (admittedly belied by the flipping above, and we do know what Tyrion is capable of physical activity and even exertion) would make such a trip, even given the extra care/comfort his status would afford him. Perhaps it’s just him taking advantage of the best opportunity/accommodations to make such a trip, and I usually think nothing more of it than that, but this time I think I read too much into this bit:

“You’re Ned Stark’s bastard, aren’t you?”

Jon felt a coldness pass right through him. He pressed his lips together and said nothing.

“Did I offend you?” Lannister said. “Sorry. Dwarfs don’t have to be tactful. Generations of capering fools in motley have won me the right to dress badly and say any damn thing that comes into my head.” He grinned. “You are the bastard, though.”

I wonder if Tyrion’s interest is in the moment, or is personal topic of interest, or even a subject talked about at court (Ned is a lord, not often seen, and at least his other children have to be a topical simply due to potential marriages).

Martin could not possibly guess all of the fronts of speculation he would cause, and I sometimes wonder if he consciously wrote Tyrion as a character whose own parentage is one some would/should question. If it is the case (I’d say, at least initially, unlikely), Martin is doing some crazy shit here with the meeting of Jon and Tyrion. If nothing else, I love this relationship, as brief it is, and love what Tyrion later does for the Starks, for Jon.

When he opened the door, the light from within threw his shadow clear across the yard, and for just a moment Tyrion Lannister stood tall as a king.

What a great line. From cliche to catching a moment perfectly. I’d leave it at that, but later in the series we learn that shadows don’t have to be quite as benign as we’d probably like. I like this line as a simple statement and observation of the scene, but Tyrion/Targaryen folks like to use this as this one of the early indicators. I think it’s a nice Jon-perspective Tyrion bookend from the initial opinion he had of Tyrion entering the hall. Getting back to the introductions, I find the opinion of Jaime to be somewhat fascinating because we get the whole:

They called him the Lion of Lannister to his face and whispered “Kingslayer” behind his back.
Jon found it hard to look away from him. This is what a king should look like, he thought to himself as the man passed.

I find it interesting because as the reader, for a large chunk of the series we are conditioned to not like Jaime, but from a certain perspective, say the perspective of (as far as he knows) the grandson of Rickard Stark and the Nephew of Brandon Stark and Lyanna Stark, Jaime isn’t such a bad cat for killing Aerys (though we know that Ned doesn’t care for him). Jaime will of course quite literally throw any good graces owed out of the window later.

This chapter seemed to zip right by. Ironically all chapters containing Tyrion Lannister seem too short. Tall as a king indeed. It’s a chapter I found myself more reliving than re-reading; partaking, but more standing to the side – maybe the lone sentry on the battlement Jon spies who caught the hate shift during the Winterfell event of the decade – sneaking a peek from my duties, a duo in their cups and a direwolf – a trio that share the experience of never knowing their mothers.

And yes, everybody loves Benji (which he will now always be referred as), the cool handed uncle who wants you to get his nephew laid. ‘Laney, pull the weight girl, I’m back. I’m back in Westeros.

Nextup: Catelyn Stark.

Published by Elena Nola and Jay Tomio

Elena Nola is the imperial editrix for the Boomtron empire. She likes genre books, weird movies, and obscure references. She lives in New Orleans, where almost every day is good enough for good times. You can follow her reviews and commentaries at Boomtron. Jay is a silent partner in Extensive Enterprises, a bastard child of Amber, an Eleint Soletaken, a probable Targaryen, and was the second-to-last Starfighter.

17 replies on “Playin’ with Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Jon Snow Chapter 5”

  1. women all learn how to cultivate an inoffensive mask so that their real emotions and motives are constantly inscrutable

    (very vaguely spoilerish) “Courtesy is a lady’s armor.” (/vague spoiler)

    This is an explicit theme in the books, and maybe it does explain what’s going on with Dany. I think Cat comes across as vague in her first chapter because she’s serving as Lady Exposition .

    About unreliable narrators…POV bias actually makes me feel closer to the characters, since it gives them more realistic depth. Bias doesn’t have to mean “delusion,” just a different perspective. But…well…hmm. I’d definitely say that not all POVs are equally trustworthy.

    Don’t worry about finding Jon hot, by the way. I’m pretty sure GRRM intended that. 😉

  2. Interesting view Elena, my attitude towards Jon Snow is that he’s like all sons, not just bastard born ones. He wants to surpass Ned but doesn’t know how just yet. He has no future at Winterfell, no inclination to be a knight, it seems that his place would be at the Wall, just not for the reasons he says. Jon’s time at Winterfell is near an end and rather than have Cat or someone else kick him out, he’s trying to pre-empt the process. And Tyrion is probably the only one who knows the situation despite just arriving, rather telling for a smart mouthed dwarf.

  3. “If that’s not a spoiler to answer with a “generally yes” or “maybe sometimes but not really” can you re-readers weigh in on that?”

    I would say generally no, the POV of a chapter is not chosen because a defining moment of their life is going to occur during the chapter. That is not to say of course that life defining moments don’t happen to the POV character in their chapters, quite the contrary, they often do. However, the primary reason a particular POV is chosen for a chapter is because their prospective is convenient for telling the story. The reasons could range from their take on a situation being of particular interest or simply because they are the only POV character present to witness an important event.

    Also, on the point of the women being blank slates, give it a few more chapters. There are A LOT of characters in this story and it takes a little while for them all to get properly introduced. The next chapter is Catelyn II and right after that is Arya I. I think these two chapters will do a great deal to fill in the blanks.

  4. Elena, jump in with both feet and don’t listen to anyone else! If they try and spoil it for you just stick your fingers in your ears and chant ‘blah! blah! blah!’ loudly! Hey, it looks stupid, but it works. Still laughing at you calling Benjen Benji.

  5. I haven’t yet decided whether I think Martin’s MO involves creating unreliable points of view to muddy things. You are wise, grasshopper, to see a glimmer of the truth so quickly. 😉

  6. I just want to jump in for the first time to tell you how much I’m loving your read/re-reads. I’m rereading the series myself and totally digging the comments. Keep it up!

  7. Jay, two of my favorite characters also. I love their interaction in this chapter, as well as future chapters. I think Tyrion helps Jon mature quickly on his journey to the wall. It will be interesting to see if and when they cross paths again.

  8. @Matt Thanks for the kind words, we really appreciate it!

    – Kind of Spoilerish below but not really –

    @Derek Sharp I kind of love how Tyrion makes a habit of taking people under his wing (Pod), and I wonder if that’s some nod to the kindness Jaime showed him.

    @Kate I actually think we see that a lot, perhaps mostly in Cersei and most directly in her talks with Sansa.

  9. @ Joseph – hm…hadn’t thought that he’s trying to preempt something. interesting….

    @ Quanta – thanks for answering that! I think it will help prevent some misreadings for me. 🙂

    @ Odie & Kate RE unreliable narrator – I don’t just mean bias when I wonder about that. Absolutely having a bias from one person’s persective and different bias from another is just good storytelling. I mean a genuine, you cannot trust them to tell events as they happened, not just their slant on them. Thinking of the framing device around Wuthering Heights…it’s a story told by a character who clearly has a vested interest in the events, so can we believe everything she tells us, or might she be lying to make certain people look better/worse. More that than just one person feeling victimized while their perceived agressor doesn’t even notice the exchange.

    @ Quanta & Kate RE females – I do expect to get better reads on them as the story goes. I’m glad to hear that the idea of “courtesy being a lady’s armor” is pretty explicit in the series. That implies it’s intentional or at least not at cross-purposes, which is fine. I just like consistency. 🙂

    @ anyone I missed – thanks for the support! glad you’re enjoying this still!

  10. Jay, I am sort of responding to Elena’s request, but I am not sure if I am being too ‘spoilery.’ I don’t say anything even remotely specific, but I don’t know what my parameters are. Maybe you could vet this post for Elena, if that would be okay?

    “If that’s not a spoiler to answer with a “generally yes” or “maybe sometimes but not really” can you re-readers weigh in on that?”

    I think I would like to weigh in on this as well–without spoilers, of course. While Quanta raises some valuable points–especially regarding the importance of ‘convenience’ with regard to storytelling POV–I don’t want to discount the possibility that the events described are incredibly important to these characters, possibly even defining. There are certainly chapters where less happens and it would be odd to suggest that those are ‘defining moments,’ but it is certainly possible to read most of the events depicted as rather important to the involved perspective. I always found Martin’s style of jumping in time as well as space when moving between characters fascinatingly jarring, and I suspect that one reason for the jumps across time, where many of the ‘major’ events have to be filled-in, is due to the attempt to find these ‘defining’ moments. As we shift from character to character, the central fact of being locked into their point of view means we not only experience what they do but we also ignore what they ignore–we focus on is what is important to Jon in Jon’s chapter, and surely the feast was far more ‘definitive’ than the arrival of the royal entourage. That said, this sort of turns the series into a strange chain of definitions, and I am not sure it is fair to Martin’s skill as a writer to suggest that all he is doing is grabbing important moments. That said, the way the characters sometimes think back to prior chapters may lend more weight to Elena’s theory. I would be curious to hear her thoughts further, especially after several of our characters have had multiple chapters apiece. I would probably agree with your reading, Elena, with some reservations to be discussed at a future time.

  11. Jacob, I don’t know if Jay moderated this or not but I don’t see anything spoilery in there! How very vague you are, my friend. 🙂

    I will keep the idea that any given scene might be a defining moment in mind, then. Not necessarily, but possibly. Talk about fence sitting!

    Regarding the convenience of the pov, isn’t sometimes this going to be dictated by what Martin is trying to avoid telling the reader just yet, as well? So would it be fair to suggest there are three cases for why a character was chosen: they were the only one there; they were (the only) one whose pov would not give away something the reader isn’t supposed to know yet for dramatic purposes; the experience is a big moment in their life. Eh? Or are there others, as well?

  12. Elena, I think your three criteria are certainly the primary ones; though it is rather rare that only one (important) character is present at any given moment, that is a concern I think Martin has to be working with. It’s probably the main consideration, since the cast is spread over such a vast space, but despite its general importance I would probably suggest that it is lower on the totem pole than the other two considerations. There are certainly people who ‘know too much,’ to paraphrase Hitchcock, and we simply can’t see things from their perspective without being let in on too much of the (hi)story. I would say this is probably the second most important concern, after the importance of whatever events occur within the chapter to the lives of the characters. Strangely, reading it as though each chapter is a ‘definitional’ moment almost makes the entire series into a short story collection, as we are forced to see what is important with every chapter. It’s almost serialized fiction from this perspective, and if Martin released one chapter at a time in a magazine, I think we would all still be just as impressed with the work. Even when very little ‘happens,’ as in the Cat chapter, decisions are made that will have wide-reaching consequences–even in the quietest of moments it is possible to have life-altering events. This becomes more apparent, I think, the further you read, and so I would love to hear how this idea strikes you as you continue deeper into the text. Perhaps another question you might ask yourself is whether the events that are narrated are as important to the lives of those who populate the story as they are to the character whose perspective we follow. Is the feast as important to Ned as Jon? I think I would argue that it is not, and that for Ned the more important moment is talking with Robert in the crypt–something that I feel Jon would be interested in, perhaps, but would get less out of. Ned’s discussion there certainly changes the situation in Winterfell and thus impacted Jon’s life greatly, but I still feel like his more important moment is when Jon speaks with Tyrion and Benji at the feast. If we continue along this path, we may need to begin to distinguish between ‘internal’ and ‘external’ importance–e.g. moments that shape or define characters and moments that shape or define the world. The two surely overlap, but it may be useful to begin thinking about how the internal changes manifest in external actions. One last note (sorry, I can get pretty verbose): it’s also worth think of these ‘definitional moments’ in terms of confirmation of identity or challenge to identity. When Ned talks with Robert and then Cat, I suspect that is more a confirmation of his identity to us, a persona that has been established (even though the Cat discussion occurs in her chapter, if I remember right) in the Bran chapter that opens the novel’s primary structure. When Jon talks with Tyrion, is that a confirmation or a challenge to his identity? Does his incorporation of Tyrion’s discussion reaffirm what he already knows, or challenge him to reassess himself and his position? This might be a better way to think about the ‘defining’ moments: they are tests, in a sense. Does the character remain who they were after having experienced them, or does the character internalize the event in a way that forever changes them? Perhaps these chapters are then ‘choices’ in this way, a chance for characters to learn and test their sense of self against the world. Of course, what ‘choice’ is Bran making in the first chapter, then? We may have to wait to see if it is something we can perceive as the chapters roll on. Gods, I have written for far too long–I will drop this here.

  13. “Strangely, reading it as though each chapter is a ‘definitional’ moment almost makes the entire series into a short story collection, as we are forced to see what is important with every chapter. It’s almost serialized fiction from this perspective, and if Martin released one chapter at a time in a magazine, I think we would all still be just as impressed with the work”

    This is how the book is reading to me, honestly, because I’m reading these chapters like 4-7 days apart, at least for now. Perhaps that’s why I started thinking of chapters in those terms.

    I think your idea about defining moments for characters vs. the world is interesting, but i would say that isn’t any defining moment for the world secondary in the mind of the characters(s) who create/cause/direct that moment to how that moment is defining/reassessing/testing him/herself? i think most of us are intrinsically narcisstic in that way, that our first reaction is how a situation affects ME, and anything else comes up secondarily to that.

    I’ll be sure to touch on this as we move forward, when I find moments that particularly strike me as one of these tests or turning points in a life–those “paths diverging in the woods” as it were.

    ps just hit return twice like any word processing doc to creat paragraphs with spaces between them

  14. I love this readthrough, great to hear both a newcomers thoughts and deeper analysis from a veteran.I do have one concern, however. 1 chapter a week equals 73 weeks for the first book of the series alone. I would love to hear your opinions on the entire series, but that will literary take years at this pace.Also, how can you keep the pace that sedate? First time I read the series it took me maybe a bout a week to finish the first 2 books, and I was pretty busy with other stuff at the time as well.You must have an inhuman amount of willpower.

  15. I have Elena protected by a squad of G-Mash elite to insure she lives long enough to complete the task.

    Welcome and thanks for the comments!

  16. I simply must speak out about the personality of the ladies in this series for Elena:Give it more time! Every. Single. Woman. in the story has their own personality, hands down. As you read along you will start to directly identify with one of them. I did so with Sansa, my favorite character, even though we see Arya’s perception of her first. It was only natural (I wanted to be a princess when I was 11)- but I was shocked when my best friend identified with Arya.That just goes to show you that even related women growing up in the same sort of environment can turn out VASTLY different. GRRM doesn’t shy away from that fact. He writes every character as if they are the main character of their own story, which is why many people find the series so fascinating. Naturally, when it is someone’s POV chapter, then they are without question the most important person in their own view.I give so much props to GRRM for this, because I can’t even fathom how hard it is to write this way.

  17. I mean a genuine, you cannot trust them to tell events as they happened, not just their slant on them.

    And that’s exactly what *I* meant as well.

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