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So. My work (you know, the forklift thing) has been pretty busy lately. Frankly, I’m getting pretty tired. Fortunately, we are reaching the end of our busy season. (Just in time for holiday stock to begin coming in, mind you. Down time is for the weak.)
Now, if I wanted, I could tell you that this is the reason that there will be only one chapter this week. That would be a lie, though. Although I am somewhat mentally exhausted, the real reason that I haven’t got much done…well, this chapter was kind of boring for me. Not entirely so, I guess, I do have a few things to say, but for the most part…I guess we’ll get to that in a moment.
First, the summary!
Jon 1 (5)
The scene opens on the evening feast at Winterfell Castle. Jon is seated apart from his half-brothers and sisters, who are just below the high table with the royal children; Jon, bastard son of Lord Stark, was not seated with them for fear of offending the royal family. He figures this works out to his advantage, as it means he will be able to drink as much alcohol as he wants.
He had observed closely as the high lords and their children had entered. His father had come first, escorting the queen: beautiful, but even 14-y.o. Jon thought her smile was insincere. King Robert came next, escorting Lady Stark; Jon was disappointed by the king, whom he felt looked nothing like the man his father described to him.
Next came his youngest brother, Rickon; the 3-y.o. tried to stop to talk to Jon, and had to be encouraged to continue. Next were his brother Robb and the Princess Myrcella; Jon did not like the shy looks she gave Robb (who seemed to be enjoying himself). Next came his sister Arya, paired with Tommen, a plump young boy with long hair. Last of the children was his sister Sansa, who walked with crown prince Joffrey Baratheon; Jon did not like the look of the crown prince, who seemed pouty and disdainful.
After the children came the queen’s brothers: Ser Jaime Lannister, who looked more like a king to Jon’s eyes than the king himself; and Tyrion Lannister, an ugly dwarf of a man with mismatched eyes. The last of the lords to enter were his uncle, Benjen Stark of the Night’s Watch, and Theon Greyjoy.
Much later in the evening, Jon is still drinking, and feeding his direwolf, Ghost, half a chicken, when he is approached by his uncle Benjen. They chat about Ghost for a while, and then about Jon’s father. Jon has noticed that his father seems stiffer than usual, and he remarks that the queen is angry too. Benjen compliments him, saying that they could use someone who was that observant on the Wall. Jon is very pleased, and begs Benjen to take him along when the older man returns to the wall. Benjen is reluctant, as Jon is still very young, and refuses. “Come back to me after you’ve fathered a few bastards of your own, and we’ll see how you feel,” he says to the boy. This absolutely enrages Jon, who shouts at his uncle, and then clumsily escapes the party, followed by Ghost.
Outside, the castle seems abandoned. Jon wipes his eyes and starts to leave, but is brought up short by the voice of Tyrion Lannister, who is perched above the door like a gargoyle. He claims to have grown tired of the feast himself, and jumps down to get a closer look at Ghost. The direwolf seems to find the dwarf off-putting, but Jon reassures him, and Tyrion scratches him between the ears. The two outcasts chat for a bit, and Tyrion gives Jon some advice on being a bastard. When Jon confronts him about not being a bastard himself, Tyrion says, “All dwarfs are bastards in their father’s eyes.” He gives Jon some parting advice, and turns to leave. As he reenters the Great Hall, the light throws his shadow across the courtyard, making him seem for a moment as tall as a king.
So, yeah. As is my habit, annoying picky things out of the way first.
“Arya was paired with plump young Tommen, whose white-blond hair was longer than hers. Sansa, two years older, drew the crown prince, Joffrey Baratheon. He was twelve, younger than Jon or Robb, but taller than either, to Jon’s vast dismay.”
Sansa, two years older than…who? Joffrey? Arya? Tommen? I’m sorry, but the sentence structure doesn’t make sense. Clarity, people, it’s all I ask for. I know english is tough, but it’s not that tough.
Well, with that nit picked, let’s continue. In my intro, I called this chapter boring, which I admit was a little harsh. I can roughly split this chapter into four parts:
- Jon observing his family and the royals;
- Jon getting drunk;
- Jon and Benjen;
- Jon and Tyrion.
As to the first: Jon really does pay attention, unlike his father, so it will be interesting to see where his insights lead. Otherwise, fairly boring introduction mechanic.
As to the second: Boring. But it does highlight something I noticed during this chapter. Remember back in the very first chapter, from Bran’s POV? Jon read much more mature in that chapter, to the point where I thought he was 16-18 years old; specifically the way he handled the direwolf situation was quite mature. However, in this, his own chapter, he seems much more like the 14-y.o. he is suddenly presented as, if you follow me. The narrative seems to want you to believe that he acts mature because he is a bastard, and he is less mature right now because he is drunk. I’m not sure I buy it; we’ll have to keep an eye on Jon’s characterization in future chapters.
As to the third: I’ve got to say, I find Benjen’s character very believable. As an uncle, he is interested in his nephew’s life, but he is not around enough to really know what makes Jon tick – and to know what buttons not to press. The chapter spends the most time on this conversation, too, which kinda implies that Jon is going to get sucked into the situation up on the Wall (you know, the only storyline presented so far that I am really interested in) so that’s another reason to watch him, I guess. Of course, everything hasn’t gone completely to hell yet, so who knows where he’s going to end up…but I can hope, right?
Finally, Tyrion Lannister. You know, I remember that the first time I read this, I liked him when he was introduced. Firstly, he was unusual and ugly, which appealed to my contrary nature. Second, he was patient and understanding with Jon, even though the boy was being kind of a dick. So, good first impression. Mind you, I recall he squandered this later, in the whole situation with Bran – but since I don’t remember the details, we’ll just have to wait to go into that. Joy.
I will say, upon reading this again, he seems to be feeding Jon Ice Cream Koans, which seems a lot less benevolent than I remember. I am a lot more sympathetic with Jon not buying it this time, at least.
One last thing before I quit: For the most part the narration seems firmly connected to the POV: that is to say, we are getting the POV character’s thoughts, and only their thoughts. However. On occasion, the narrative seems to separate from the character, to become something more omniscient. There are two instances in this chapter that I would call out: first, when Jon tells Tyrion that Ghost would attack if Jon wasn’t there: “It wasn’t actually true yet, but it would be.” It seems a little unusual; how would Jon know what will happen, after all? Unless he is just that confident in his mind…
Second, the very last sentence: “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.” Again, it could be Jon’s thoughts and opinion; he has had kings on the brain all evening after all. It just seems disconnected, to me, and I really, really wish I could point to the reason why.
Well. I’ve had problems with R.R.’s writing style before. This could just be more of the same, I guess. I’ll be watching for more of these moments, though.
Next time: At last, we revisit a point of view…wait, Catelyn? Really?
…boring, is it? We’ll see about that. Fuhuhuhuhu…