Let’s Read A Game of Thrones! Part 25: Bran 4

Just sliiiiigtly late today. Time management, fail!


 

Bran 4 (24)

Bran is in his tower, watching Rickon playing with the three direwolves from his window. He is quite bitter because he can’t join them, and angry at the crow from his dream for tricking him into thinking he could fly. He is listening to Old Nan, an old woman who had come to Winterfell a long time in the past as a wet nurse for a different Brandon Stark, and who occasionally seemed to confuse Bran with that child, or with Bran’s uncle who was killed by the old Targaryen king. Old Nan is trying to tell him stories, but he is sick of listening to her. He thinks about his family, broken and scattered, and feels lonely and isolated. Old Nan finally grabs his attention with a story about the Others, the white walkers, who appeared during a dark, unending winter, and who hated and slaughtered the living without mercy. She speaks of a hero, who set forth to find the children of the forest with companions, and how he was pursued by the Others and hounded until all his companions were gone…

Before she can finish her story, the door to Bran’s room opens and Maester Luwin enters, along with Old Nan’s great-grandson, Hodor. Bran complains about the interruption to the story, but Luwin tells him that Tyrion Lannister has arrived and wants to speak to him. Hodor picks up Bran and brings him down to the great hall, where his brother Robb is confronting Tyrion, who arrived with some men of the Night Watch. Robb refuses to welcome the Lannister to Winterfell, and Tyrion is unimpressed with the boy’s posturing. He sees Bran in Hodor’s arms, and admits that he is impressed that Bran is still alive. He asks about Bran’s fall, but Bran asserts that he never fell, and Luwin tells the dwarf that Bran doesn’t remember anything about the climb or the fall. Tyrion finds this curious, but he changes the subject, and he offers advice and plans for a special saddle that would allow Bran to ride a horse. When Robb asks why he would offer such a thing, Tyrion tells him that it was a request from Jon. “And I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things,” he says.

Just then, Rickon enters with the direwolves. For some reason, the wolves take an instant dislike to Tyrion Lannister, and perform a perfect pincer attack on the small man. The three Stark brothers quickly call them off, but Tyrion decides that he has outstayed his welcome, and quickly leaves. Hodor takes Bran back to his room to await dinner, and the wolf Summer accompanies them. Bran quickly falls asleep, and dreams of climbing a giant tower. The ground is too far away to see, and above him he sees gargoyles with twisted forms and glowing red eyes. He hears them whispering to each other, and tries to convince himself that as long as he doesn’t listen, he will be safe. But they pull themselves free, and stalk down the side of the tower toward him. He wakes to find a giant shadow looming over him, and he cries that he hadn’t heard; but it is only Hodor, come to take him down to dinner.

While they are eating, Yolen of the Night Watch informs Robb and Bran that their uncle, Benjen, has disappeared during a ranging, and is presumed dead. Robb refuses to accept it, although Yoren is unimpressed with his denial. Bran remembers Old Nan’s story from earlier, and cries out that the children of the forest will help him. Luwin tells him that the children of the forest have been dead for thousands of years, but Yolen is not nearly as quick to dismiss it. Up past the Wall, he says, it is difficult to determine what is alive and what is dead.

After dinner, Robb carries Bran up to his room. The two brothers sit and talk, and Robb tries to encourage Bran, saying that their mother would be home soon, and once Bran could ride they would ride up to visit Jon on the Wall, as an adventure. Bran wistfully echoes the word, “adventure”, and Robb starts to cry for his crippled brother.


 

Good morning, and welcome to my increasingly questionable review of A Game of Thrones!

Spydra

No, no, it’s been questionable since the beginning.

Well, I’m not going to argue the point. Joining me once more is my good friend, Spydra.

Spydra: We are not friends!

Ah, so you accept the new name, right?

Spydra: No!

By the by, I left it out of the summary, but is the only role of Theon Greyjoy in this novel to laugh mockingly at people?

Spydra: …I can’t comment on that.

Well, no worries. So what did we learn this chapter, exactly?

Spydra: Shouldn’t you know? You already summarized it up there.

Hush, it was rhetorical. Well, the incident that jumps to my mind is the dream Bran has after meeting with Tyrion. I’m wondering if it represents the repressed trauma of the assault of…um, what was the older Lannister brother’s name again?

Spydra: Jaime. Their sister’s name was Cersei.

Right. Well, Bran was clinging to a gargoyle while eavesdropping on those two, so the elements of this dream seem to relate, metaphorically speaking. I believe the strongest evidence is his reluctance to listen to the words of the gargoyles in the dream, as if hearing the words is what puts him in danger.

Spydra: Hmmm. So you think that it has nothing to do with the dream of the crow from his last chapter?

Nah, I think its trauma, not prophecy. Do you have a different opinion?

Spydra: …not telling.

Oh, come on.

Spydra: Hey, you’re the one who didn’t want spoilers.

Well…OK, that’s a good point. Sorry about that.

Spydra: Oh. Um, no problem.

What else…I guess I hope we get to hear the end of Old Nan’s story at some point. Did the hero fail? That would be interesting. Also, I might be overthinking things, but aren’t Old Nan and Hodor a little too archetypal to be believed?

Spydra: I…I’m not sure what you mean.

It’s hard to explain. Something about the two just rings a wrong note to me. As for Hodor, the simple-minded giant is an excellent disguise – but I don’t really have any reason to suspect anything. It’s not like he’s done anything to warrant my suspicion. It’s probably just paranoia.

On the other hand, there is Old Nan. In a world where growing old is difficult, she has become very, very, old. On top of that, she knows a lot of significant stories, qualifying her for a wise old mentor position, in a way. And although she is supposedly somewhat senile, that comment about lying crows was very timely. It’s hard to tell from the writing, but it didn’t appear that Bran said anything aloud about the crow…

Well, let’s leave it at that. I want to get back to my research, so have a good night everyone.

Spydra: You mean you want to go back to reading web novels–

It’s RESEARCH, I tell you!!

Spydra: Tsk. I’ll believe it when you finish writing something.

…No need to be rude.

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