Jay Reads ‘A Game of Thrones’: Day 2
In which, in short, I conclude the following: Jon is a whiny bitch (but I sort of like him anyway?), Arya & Tyrion are awesome, the Lannisters in general make me cackle, and I experience my first instance of ‘omg wat no’ almost-heartbreak. Also I hadn’t realized how much I missed people with a sense of humour or at least sarcasm of any flavour in even those first 50 pages.
I covered Jon’s first chapter up to the end of Jon’s second. So pages 49 to 98, featuring Jon, more Catelyn (!!), Arya, more Bran (!!), Tyrion, and Jon again.
So, first up was Jon’s chapter. As I mentioned yesterday, I was sort of looking to this with a bit of trepidation in regards to my own reaction. Was quite prepared to have irrational distaste for him simply out of contrariness. Luckily, that did not seem to happen! The fact that he was introduced with ‘lower sorts’ having a good laugh at getting one of their lord’s son quite drunk probably helped. Can’t help but grin at a 14-year-old getting wasted!
There was some nice description in this chapter, too. Largely of what I’ve always considered the authorially-indulgent habit of describing characters (probably because I myself take great pleasure in doing so). I did quite appreciate the fact that we get to see Robert through Jon’s eyes after seeing him through Ned’s rather more conflicted ones. Jon concluding that Princess Myrcella was insipid (because she smiled shyly at Robb and timidly at him? FFS Jon, the girl is eight, you and Robb are nearly TWICE her age) made me grumpy, though. Next to his remark on that I have written wtf Jon OR SHE’S SHY. She seems quite sweet to me, really. Hmph.
(I also had a good chuckle at Jon’s expense at his dismay that 12 year old Joffrey is taller than either he or Robb. Hah.)
I think the best bit out of the ‘let us lovingly describe assorted characters’ was Jaime, though.
Ser Jaime Lannister was twin to Queen Cersei; tall and golden, with flashing green eyes and a smile that cut like a knife. He wore crimson silk, high black boots, a black satin cloak. On the breast of his tunic, the lion of his House was embroidered in gold thread, roaring its defiance.
I must admit, this was probably the moment where I went ‘WELP I’M TEAM JAIME even if he is almost certainly an arse’ (as was later proved, of course). Crimson and black with a touch of gold? As I scribbled in the margins: ‘unf style’.
And then we met Benjen! As it appears that Jon will be spending much time in Benjen Stark’s company, I am glad. I liked Ben basically at the moment he was introduced – good natured, nice, and he can laugh! A laughing Stark! Finally! The scene where he talks to Jon was another moment of ‘laugh at Jon’s expense’ just for how it was written. Before I get into my thoughts on Jon-is-the-bastard-son, a brief moment to comment on Tyrion. Bluntness (aka lack of tact) and a touch of snark and his ‘bits of advice’ (which I doubt Jon will take to heart – for that matter, which I doubt Jon really NEEDS to)? Basically automatic liking, right there. That and him sauntering off whistling. Cocky bastard. I love it.
But Jon as a bastard. Oh Jon. Jon Jon Jon. The first half of the chapter was alright on that front. But then we got into the latter half and the conversation with Ben and then with Tyrion and I just sat there ‘wtf Jon get over yourself boy’. You keep reading Jon moping about being a bastard and how it’s just so hard but until his second chapter/Catelyn’s chapter there isn’t even the slightest hint, really, that he has anything particularly difficult. He might not be trueborn son, and so they bowed to court etiquette and didn’t seat him with the royals. So what? Jon, my dear, you have been raised side-by-side with the heir, are acknowledged as Ned Stark’s son, and have been afforded the childhood of a lordling. I have no patience for your whining.
Less accusingly, the statement of A bastard had to learn to notice things, to read their truth that people hid behind their eyes. … while possibly true, is just completely lacking in any back-up evidence that this is so for Jon. At this point, we don’t even know that Catelyn detests his presence, so we don’t even have the evidence of THAT to back up anything in this chapter. So really, my problem with Jon and him ‘being a bastard’ as a Big Point isn’t so much that its WRONG – yeah, bastards were generally scorned, etc etc… it’s that thus far I’ve had minimal – basically zero – evidence that points at him having an unfortunate bastard-type experience. He just comes off as a whiny, spoiled brat who is sulking. The one point he does have is that, as a bastard son, he can’t expect to actually inherit anything/recieve title.
But quite frankly, and this is my problem with high fantasy’s habit of making nobility to centrally important, if your only complaint is “but I don’t get my own castle!” or whatever… yeah. Whatever. Shut up and sit down.
Whew! So there was that. Catelyn’s chapter I greeted with pleasure. Again, I found that I genuinely enjoyed her PoV and I do like her. When she is rather horrible to Jon in the ending chapter of this section, well. Yeah, she was just horrible. Quite mean to him. But as a noblewoman and mother of the trueborn heirs, its really only to be expected. Would have been more surprising if she wasn’t. At the end of her chapter, we also get to see – pre-emptive to her cruelty at Bran’s bedside – one important reason: her fears around Jon fathering sons of his own and perhaps some day trying to seize Winterfell from her own sons. He is acknowledged by Ned as his son, and as this does still appear to be a patrilineal society… I can imagine it would be quite easy – relatively speaking – for Jon to muster support for him over Robb. At least he and Robb seem to get on, and we have no indication that Jon – as yet – thinks of any such thing!
And if it seems like I’m putting more effort into excusing Catelyn than I am explaining Jon. Well. I am. Because I think Catelyn has rather more point behind her cruelty than Jon does his moping. Maybe that will change. And I just rather like Catelyn.
(Also, the hints of the relationship between her and her sister Lysa are sweet. Yay sisters getting along!)
Which brings me to Arya. Oh Arya! As soon as it turned out that Arya hated sewing and was dreadful at it I was going ‘welp she’s definitely going to turn out to be a tomboy-type character’. AND THEN I WAS RIGHT. And all was well with the world. Arya is possibly my favourite thus far (replacing poor Will… maybe). Not just because she is a tomboy character – and I’m basically guaranteed to like any of that sort of character, for reasons of over-identification. But because of her spirited snark (I have to go shoe a horse anyone?) and because of her and Jon’s relationship. She likes Jon, and Jon likes her, and I just sort of like both of them all the more for that. Plus she was quite believable as a 9-year-old girl with her jealousies of her older sister (I think I’ve got those ages right?) and disgust with expectations and all.
Sansa merits brief mention, too, as we finally get to meet her as well in Arya’s chapter. Don’t really have any opinion on her yet, other than a bit of disappointment that Sansa apparently doesn’t have a head for figures. It would be so nice if the pretty girl also got to be math-y.
And then Bran! Oh poor Bran! He’s such a sweet child, and GRRM writes his PoV quite beautifully. I am very impressed by that, too – writing children, and making them seem like children, especially in a non-children’s book, can’t be an easy endeavour. And the climbing! And Bran almost crying over having to say goodbye to things and people! And then, of course, being shoved out the window of the tower by Jaime. My chapter-end notes consist of this:
D: oh not fair! I was just growing fond of him too!
As you can tell, I assumed he had died, at that point. And I actually made a face rather like the D: face, too. A moment of heartbreak! And then I realized that I had, laughed, and shook my mental fist at GRRM. I have heard of your wiley ways with killing all the people, you bastard! (And then I laughed at myself, for being annoyed that I had “fallen” for GRRM’s writing. My own pride amuses me.)
So of course I greeted the next chapter – Tyrion – and finding out that Bran was not, in fact, dead with mixed feelings. I’ll spare you what could be very lengthy happy burblings over Tyrion’s general existence and go with the annotation of omg Tyrion a bookworm yes good!. Because aw yiss, bookish sorts! The affection, such as it can be called, of Tyrion for Jaime also made me happy, as does Tyrion’s ‘voice’ – the whole chapter is interspersed with annotated ‘LOL’s. And it’s also worth saying that any time the Lannisters appear, you are likely to find scribbled ‘ehehehehe’ in the margins nearby. They do so make me cackle with unrepentant glee! Although the unnecessary-ness of trying to kill a seven-year-old who had basically no idea what he’d seen anyway made me facepalm. SEVEN, my dears, SEVEN. Threaten him to keep secrecy, or make up something and swear him to secrecy, and send him on his way.
I mean, on one hand, there is the fact that even what little a seven year old could know and then potentially pass on to others more understanding is a hole possibly too big and death is a neat solution. But all the same.
also I snickered at the incest – though partially didn’t because it had mad overtures making like it was rape, as well – and annotated with ‘guess the Targaryen’s are not alone!’
And then of course was Jon’s final chapter where we get to see him actually have some reason for his ‘woe is me’, but we also see poor Bran and poor, grief-stricken Catelyn. But on a brighter side, Jon gets Arya a sword, and its called Needle which is just fantastic! (Though it adds more fuel to my ‘Jon you have no reason to complain you can ORDER CUSTOM SWORDS geez’.)
Fave Character Thus Far: Will, Arya, and Tyrion are all pretty close. Still quite fond of Will, but he’s dead and sadly unimportant, so Arya probably takes the lead.
Page Reached: 98
PoV Characters Met: Jon, Catelyn, Arya, Bran, Tyrion, Daenerys, Eddard*
General Mood After Reading: Worried over Bran, smirking over Tyrion, and eyerolling over Jon. Looking forward to more!
*Italicized characters are one’s who don’t have a chapter in this post. Up tomorrow: More Dany!