Let’s review: Anything posted, mentioned, or derided on this blog, is in fact the property of its respective owner and copyright holder, and is used for purposes of entertainment, edification, and the advancement of bad taste, not profit. If you feel anything of yours is being unfairly used and maligned, I would contend that there are worse things. Like this chapter.
Seriously. There is not enough alcohol in the entire world.
What are you talking about?
Why did I decide this was a good idea, again? Oh, yeah, writing practice. I must have forgotten just how much I hate this book.
Book Spirit: No, I think you’ve been communicating that fairly effectively.
Well, here it is, ladies and gentlemen: the point at which everything starts to go to shit. (Well. The action, anyway. The setting was already a crapsack world, so you could say that this follows. But I won’t. Because fuck tragedy.)
Book Spirit: Ummm…
Figments of my imagination can save their comments for the end.
…Do I really have to do this…?
Book Spirit: Well, you did commit to it, right?
Seriously, I don’t care if you exist or not, just shut up!
Bran 2 (8):
It is the day before Bran is supposed to leave with his father to the south. Most of the men at the castle have accompanied the King on a hunt, and Bran has been left behind. Bran had been looking forward to going south to King’s Landing, and learning to be a knight and a Kingsguard. He knew all the stories of the Kingsguard, and he had been looking forward to meeting the greatest among them, Barristan the Bold.
However, now that the time has come, Bran is having second thoughts. He has spent all his (short) life in Winterfell, and he knows all the people and environs. He tried to say goodbye to the people he knows, but he couldn’t even manage to talk to the stable hands, and so he rushed off. Instead, he spent the day trying to teach his unnamed wolf to fetch a stick.
When it turned out that the wolf had no interest in sticks, he decided to go climbing. As he climbs a tree at the edge of the godwood, his wolf gets upset and starts to howl. Bran shushes the pup and continues climbing onto the armory roof, followed by its howls. The boy has been climbing longer than he can remember, and he never falls. He knows the rooftops of Winterfell like the back of his hand, and he knows much about the castle that even its guards don’t know. His mother hated it, and tried to forbid it, but Bran was constitutionally unable to keep his feet on the ground. Even his father had given up on trying to stop him.
Bran decides to visit his favorite spot in the castle, the top of the broken tower. Of the two ways to reach it, one involved climbing up the outside, but the crumbling masonry inclined Bran to reject that route. The other way involved swinging from gargoyle to gargoyle around the old keep, to a point where one could stretch over to the leaning tower. As Bran takes this path, he is surprised by the sound of voices in the abandoned old keep.
The voices are talking about his father. One, the female, seems to think that Eddard’s appointment to the King’s Hand is a threat; the male voice is much less concerned, and mildly points out that there were much worse options. They argue for a while, about Stark and the King, and eventually Bran, though frightened, decides to see who is talking. The voices fall silent, and Bran clings upside down to a gargoyle to see in the window.
Inside, he sees a man and a woman “wrestling naked”. He can see the woman, and it is the queen. She sees the boy in the window, and screams, causing Bran to lose his grip on the gargoyle. He nearly falls, but catches the sill on the way down, slamming into the building. The man comes to the window, and Bran recognizes him, as he looks exactly like the queen. The man pulls him up, and asks him his age. When Bran tells him, the man turns to the woman and says, “The things I do for love.” Then he pushes Bran out the window.
Book Spirit: The writing isn’t bad though, right?
Um. I’m not even sure. Let me check.
…It’s effective, I guess. The only part I have a problem with is the section where Bran is considering a path between the south gate and the north gate, where you start at ground level, go up several flights of stairs, and come out at ground level again; the only reason it concerns me is that the writing also makes it sound like a security hole, but I’m not sure if it is supposed to be read that way. So, yeah, ineffective visualization, I guess. But the rest of the chapter does a better job. Kind of…I still think that Bran’s route is even less safe than the one he rejects, as written.
And that, of course, leads me into what I really, really hate about this chapter.
Book Spirit: That Bran gets hurt?
“Gets hurt” my ass. But no, that isn’t it.
Book Spirit: Well, you’re a prude, so the relations between Jaime and Cersei?
Are you kidding? I don’t give the first damn about those two. I’ve read all sorts of weird Japanese stuff, twincest doesn’t provoke anything besides a bemused exasperation.
Book Spirit: I’m…not sure that’s an appropriate reaction in any case, but what’s your problem then?
Just this: Bran has a superpower. And what that superpower amounts to…is being pushed out the window by Jaime Lannister. Bran has the superpower of “Pushed Out the Window.”
Book Spirit: I don’t understand what you are saying at all.
Well, you’re just a figment of my imagination –
Book Spirit: Am not.
– so I’m not too surprised you can’t notice anything. But look. In this chapter, and nowhere else, Bran is revealed to have almost magical climbing abilities. In no previous chapter was this revealed; that he liked to climb at all was given a single, throw away line, back in Catelyn’s second chapter. And after this chapter, Bran will have a broken back (spoilers!), so even if he wakes up, he will never be able to use his natural Parkour abilities ever again. Therefore, they exist in this chapter, and this chapter alone. And why? So that good old J.L. can push him out of a window, and start this giant tragedy on its merry way.
Book Spirit: So, you hate that it’s a tragedy.
Well, yes, I despise tragedy, that’s why I’m lurking in front of this Gate, but that isn’t really my point. My point is that it’s a waste.
Book Spirit: …come again? And what gate?
It’s a waste of potential. Mr. Martin created this boy with a unique ability, for no readily apparent reason. There is a ton of interesting material to be mined from such a thing – why he has this ability, how can he use it to further his goals, are there others like him, just to name a few – and yet its sole purpose is to exist for a single chapter, so that a guy called Kingslayer can show his chops by tossing the boy to his doom. What the absolute fucking hell?
Book Spirit: Um…
I mean, it isn’t even necessary! There are lots of different ways that Bran could have left his wolf behind, accidentally overheard the twins, got caught, and defenestrated. Why the hell does he need supernatural abilities? What am I supposed to take away from this? Who am I gonna call!? Chekov!*
Book Spirit: Alright, stop right there. There is a reason for this, and it’s simple: it provides Jaime Lannister an alibi. After all, Bran could have just slipped, since it is well known that he liked to climb.
Ok, fine, it provides an alibi, sure. So tell me one thing: how the hell would Jaime know that?
Book Spirit: Huh? Everyone knows it.
He didn’t even know how old Bran was, and you tell me that he knew all of Bran’s habits? Really? I’m pretty sure his real name is Jaime “Path of Least Resistance” Lannister, just from the limited amount of development he’s been given so far. Grah…
Ok, enough of this. Is there anything else in this chapter? Let’s see…
- Twincest: Don’t care, move on.
- The description of Winterfell: Setting aside what I said earlier, this chapter really is at its best while describing the environs of Winterfell. It does sound like a really cool castle to explore.
- Bran plays with his wolf: Aww, cute.
- Bran doesn’t name his wolf: You know, I’m trying to decide if this is supposed to be subtle foreshadowing, or just an accent to the coming tragedy. Either way, WTF.
- The argument between Cersei and Jaime: Interesting only insofar as it seems to scuttle my private theory that Catelyn was making stuff up to manipulate Ned.
Well, that was never likely anyway.
Yeah, I’ve had just about enough out of you. Ahem…jackel puppies?
Yes, Dark One?
Yay! Yip Yip Yip!
What the hell!? Ow! Stay away from me!
Next time: We dwarf the narrative!
*I really should write a bit about “conservation of detail” here, but I really, really don’t feel like it, so read through “Chekov’s Gun” and follow any links you might find interesting. I promise, it will barely ruin your life at all. 😉