Let’s Read A Game of Thrones! Part 2: Bran 1

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This should be the second post today, assuming I don’t screw up the scheduling system somehow. I’m going to be aiming for two chapters a week, which seems quite conservative on the face of it, but I figure I can always add more if it turns out I have enough time. I want to keep at least one in reserve, though…well, it’ll work out, I’m sure :/.

Oh, a new note on format: Mr. Martin chose neither to name or number his chapters, but labels them with the POV character’s name. This serves the dual purpose of concealing your actual progress through the story, and also reminds you of whose eyes you’re supposed to be looking though. You know, just in case the writing doesn’t make this clear. Anyway, I will be assigning chapters thusly: [Name] X (Y), where [Name] is the POV character stated, X is the iteration of this character’s POV, and Y is the cumulative number of chapters (not counting the prologue, which shall always stand alone.)

Therefore, I welcome you now to:

Bran 1 (1)

Our scene opens on Bran, who despite his name is not a muffin but a seven year-old boy, who is travelling with his (lord) father to see ‘justice’ done. Said justice consists of the removal of the head of a familiar looking guy with no ears, who looks even more grizzled than the last time we saw him. Bran isn’t really paying attention, but he carefully watches as his father executes the possible wildling (I’m going to start calling them wilders eventually, I know I am) due to the quiet instructions of his half-brother, Jon Snow.

As they head for home, Bran’s father, Lord Eddard Stark, tells the boy the man was not a wildling but a deserter from the Night’s Watch. This meant he was dangerous, because the automatic death sentence given to deserters means that they will do any crime. He also informs the boy that he executes criminals himself, rather than have an executioner do it, so that he does not forget what death is.

Their conversation is interrupted by Jon Snow, who calls the party over to where Robb, another of Bran’s brothers, had found a dead direwolf. The species was not usually found south of the Wall, and it had died with a shattered antler in its throat; the party treats the situation with superstitious dread. The female wolf had apparently given birth to five puppies before dying, which as Jon pointed out corresponded to the five children of Eddard Stark whose symbol was the direwolf. After some discussion, it was decided that the Stark children would raise the abandoned pups. As they rode away, Jon suddenly turned back. Searching the wolf corpse again, he discovered an albino wolf pup, which he claimed for himself.

Ok, then. First order of business, a stumble right out of the gate: “They set forth at daybreak to see a man beheaded, twenty in all, and Bran rode among them, nervous with excitement.” So, we’re going to see twenty mans beheaded, is it? Sure, once you look at it the context is clear, but it’s still a horrible run-on sentence. I don’t care how stylized you want your structures, keep your subjects clear. Well. Small detail, maybe it won’t come up again.

So, as far as I can remember (not far), I did not catch that the man facing “justice” here was Gared from the prologue. Guess I should have mentioned his ears in the last summary, but oh well. Sorry Gared, no ice zombie transformation for you, better luck next time :). I was unnecessarily cynical in my previous post, it seems (and what a delicious crow this is, mmmm), as we now find out that a wilder wildling is someone who has sworn his sword to Mance Rayder, the King-beyond-the-Wall. Hmmm. Mance Rayder… Manse Raider… someone who invades houses. Yeah, this information seems impeccable, I’m sure it isn’t inaccurate in any way :/. Old wives tales are always so trustworthy, aren’t they? My friends, the Others, also get name dropped for sleeping with human women to create abominations, though this information seems even less trustworthy than that on wildlings, seeing as we already know the Cthulu Ice Elves reproduce by stabbing people to death. But hey, who’s counting?

The foreshadowing in this chapter is really heavy handed, what with the mentions of King Robert, the dead direwolf (who just happens to be the sign of house Stark, and which just happens to have the same number of children as Edd), and really the whole chapter has a feeling of ‘this is all going to be relevant someday, so pay attention!’ that I honestly find a little annoying. This is not Shakespeare, we don’t need a Chorus to tell us everything that is about to happen. Am I being unfair? Superstitious dread is in character for this virtual time period, right?

Speaking of heavy handed, let’s talk about names for a moment. Setting aside Mance Rayder, who I don’t believe in anyway, we have Stark, a no-frills kind of guy who does his own executions; Theon Greyjoy, an asshat with a crappy sense of humor; and, because we hadn’t hit the Winter themes quite often enough yet, Jon freaking Snow, bastard son of the lord of Winterfell.

Now, as a Minnesotan, I am quite familiar with winter, and I can tell you that it is, indeed, a brutal season. Well, summer can be quite brutal too, but for different reasons, so never mind. (Basically, Minnesota weather likes you to pay attention. For instance, today is variations on the theme of rain 😐 ) But according to the text, this country (which I don’t believe has had its name mentioned in the text yet) is at the end of summer, in the ninth year of summer (whatever that is), yet there is snow everywhere. Seriously, how far north is this place? I get the impression that the word ‘summer’ is being used wrong, in any case.

Considering this chapter was where a lot of the exposition from the prologue got dumped, the author really did manage to cover a lot of ground. If the chapters stay this dense, though, it’s eventually going to turn into quite the slog…wait, is that what happened the last time I read it? Or does it get better? Guess I’ll have to keep reading to find out…

Next time, our first female POV!

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