Let’s Read A Game of Thrones! Part 8: Arya 1

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“Time for a new character!”

…Er, yes, it’s Arya’s turn this time. I guess this slow build into the plot is good for building characters, but I do wish that R.R. would stop bringing in new POV and develop the ones he already has. In general, anyway.

As for Arya, well, let’s take a look:


Arya 1 (7)

The local girls along with Princess Myrcella are being instructed in needlework, but Arya is not very good at it. Fortunately the teacher, Septa Mordane, was busy fawning over Myrcella, and so wasn’t paying attention to Arya’s poor showing. Sansa’s work, of course, was perfect. Her sister was chatting away with the others, and Arya asked what she was talking about.

It turns out they were chatting about Prince Joffrey, who the other girls are quite taken by. Arya mentions that Jon said the prince looked like a girl, and Sansa says that Jon gets jealous because he is a bastard. The angers Arya, who loudly reminds Sansa that Jon is their brother.

Unfortunately, this attracts the attention of Septa Mordane, who asks to see Arya’s stitches. Unable to face more criticism, Arya flees the room, infuriating Mordane even further.

As she flees, Arya reflects on how unfair her life is. Sansa was beautiful, and could do all the things that were expected of her; Arya took after her father, and the only thing she could do better than Sansa was ride a horse, or manage a household.

Arya reunites with her direwolf downstairs, and she decides to go watch the boys sparring with swords in the courtyard. She goes to a good spot to watch the action but finds Jon already there. As a bastard, he wasn’t allowed to cross swords with the noble prince. At the moment her brother Bran was flailing away at little Tommen, and Arya comments that she could fight better than Bran could, as she is nine and he is only seven. Jon comments that she is too skinny, earning a glare.

The two look for Prince Joffrey. He stands aloof with his own people, and his arms are divided in two, with Baratheon on one side, and Lannister on the other. Jon remarks that the Lannisters are proud, that their symbol has to have equal weight as the king’s.

Bran wins the fight with Tommen, and Ser Rodrik, Master-At-Arms, calls Robb and Prince Joffrey forward. Robb is willing, but Joffrey refuses, calling the padded swords “a game for children.” He insists upon live steel, which Rodrik refuses to allow. A well-muscled man with a burnt face, Clegane, confronts Rodrik over his refusal to obey the prince, and is rebuffed by the Master-At-Arms. Joffrey baits Robb some more, and then leaves with his cohorts.

Jon has watched the entire exchange, and Arya watches him. Finally, he sends her away to face her punishment for skipping needlework, and walks away. Arya returns to her room to find Septa Mordane and her mother waiting for her.


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“Still bored?”

Not as much. I like Arya as a character.

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“…wait, really? After all the grief you gave Daenerys and Catelyn?”

…It’s not like I intrinsically hate female characters, you know. It’s just…ok, remember when back in the prologue, when I mentioned that Mr. Martin was leaning rather heavily on stereotypical roles for his characterization? I believe I may have mentioned that this was not a bad thing, but if I didn’t, let me mention it now: There is a reason these things become stereotypes. There is a resonance, possibly even mimetic, with certain types of characters and situations. And Arya is a “misfit”, which is a character that resonates for me very clearly; I never really fit in either when I was younger.

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“How shocking.”

Arya was born (or written, if you prefer) into a certain role, that of a high-born lady. And she doesn’t fit it. Her sister does, at least in her eyes (and I love that her jealousy makes her an unreliable narrator) but she’d rather be engaged in “male” pastimes, like riding or fighting. Now, if she was the main character, she would eventually be trained to be a warrior, which would be badass. She is not, so her future is less certain. It’s especially hard to say, since R.R. is writing a deconstruction here-

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“Wait, what?”

Oh, haven’t I mentioned that yet? Yeah, the vast majority of medieval fantasy is heavily romanticized: the beautiful people, the honorable knights, the black and white mortality, etc., etc. A Game of Thrones, on the other hand, is barely romanticized at all. The knights suck, morality is uniformly dark grey, issues are complicated, and there are no good guys. Except maybe the Starks. We’ll see.

(And even among the Starks, Ned is pretty ineffective. And Jon is broody about being a bastard. And Arya is unsuited for her role. And Catelyn wants to be somewhere else. Flaws everywhere, which is just fine.)

So…where was I?

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“Something about not knowing what’s going to happen to Arya…”

Yeah, I think I’ll refrain to speculate, just in case it turns out to be really bad…I’ll be less disappointed that way…

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“Seriously, what’s with your attitude?”

The other thing that interests me about Arya-

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“Ignoring me again!?”

-is how she seems beneath everyone’s notice. She barely gets a mention elsewhere, with everyone much more focused on Sanya. Even Jon, who is revealed to be closer to her than anyone else, barely notices her in his own POV chapter. That’s bad for her, of course, but depending on how things turn out, being overlooked might not be such a bad thing…

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“Oh, so you are going to speculate now?”

You’re annoying. Shut up.

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“Fuhuhu.”

Setting Arya aside for the moment, the other star of this chapter is of course Prince Joffrey. He’s a dick. Let’s be fair, however, and point out that he is being raised to be a dick, for the express purpose of transferring power from Baratheon to Lannister. So he comes by dick-dom naturally, as it were. Personally, I don’t give good odds for him being anything but a puppet, even should he survive long enough to ascend the throne. I’ve been wrong before, though.

I’m looking at the ages of these kids, and it strikes me that they are entirely too young for the world they are interacting with. I feel a bit sorry for them, really.

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“Maybe they’ll grow into it?”

Some of them, maybe. If they survive. I remember what’s coming next, you know.

…And now I need a drink. Dammit.

Next time: Bran the Muffin Superhero Sacrifice! AKA Let’s Get This Party Started.


By the way. I’ve been wondering this for a while, but…what the hell are you supposed to be?

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“I am the spirit of the Book, given Speech to defend the Book against you, it’s detractor. Beware, Dark One!”

…what?

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“I said-“

Never mind, I heard you the first time. I call bullshit. Now excuse me, I’ve got to go find some antipsychotics.

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“Hmph. How rude.”

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