Here’s a throwaway paragraph so I don’t spoil anything in Facebook previews. I need to go to bed, so there won’t be much here. (ETA, after finishing: OK, more than I thought.)
1.) Jon Snow is not dead. Sorry. One of the things GRRM is most overrated for is this idea that “no one is safe.” This may be true, but one of the downsides to GRRM’s much-vaunted brutality is that no one’s dead unless you see the body. Bran, Arya, Tyrion, Sandor Clegane, Brienne of Tarth, Theon Greyjoy, and arguably even Cat Stark have all recovered from poetically phrased brushes with death. Jon is fine. (I think Stannis is fine as well, but he’s not a POV character, so I’m more willing to believe that Ramsay might have gotten him.)
2.) Homeboy’s getting Robert-Jordan-itis. The world and the writing are better, so I’m more tolerant of it, but holy shit did a lot not happen in the monstrosity that is ADWD.
3.) Or, alternatively, there’s going to be a veritable pyrotechnery of payoff in THE WINDS OF WINTER, because I can’t figure out what else could justify all this troublemaking five books in. As far as I can tell, we’ve now learned that approximately 50% of AFFC existed to (a) get Asha and Theon together in Stannis’ camp outside of Winterfell for purposes unknown, or (b) to create a hole in the Kingsguard for Cyborg Gregor Clegane for purposes unknown. And it’s looking increasingly like my efforts not to skim past Dany’s shillyshallying around the Free Cities were entirely misguided, since the Free Cities have essentially disappeared in a shower of bloody flux and she’s on her own in the wild with a dragon. Meanwhile, we hear just enough from Jaime to know that he’s running into Zombie Cat Stark’s honeytrap, and from Cersei to know (or surmise) that she may or may not be even angrier and crazier than she was before, and from Arya to know that — surprise! — she’s become an assassin. Tyrion treads water the entire time that he’s not midget-jousting on dogback, and Jon spends the entire book manfully trying to catch a break until he loses control of the Watch completely. And then Varys steps in in the epilogue to assure us that the shit has barely even brushed its lips over the knuckles of the fan. Granted, GRRM has at least as many balls in his sack as he has in the air… but all those balls have to be caught at some point, and some of them are actually spherical chainsaws. (The ones in the air, at least.)
3a.) Which isn’t to say I don’t look forward to seeing the Sand Snakes at King’s Landing.
3b.) And Arya too, right? I feel like she must have been part of the Children’s Crusade to Perforate Kevan Lannister in the epilogue.
4.) I’ll bet $25 that Gerris Drinkwater is Gerold Dayne. I’m kind of crap at these sorts of prognostications, though, so anyone who takes that bet will probably win. Also, now that I think about it, who cares?
5.) I am, in general, experiencing new character fatigue, but I’ll admit that Daario, Tormund Giantsbane, Barristan Selmy and Stone Cold Jon Connington are all reasonably well drawn (unlike Crispy Quentyn Martell, Aegon the Unanticipated, and any relative of Balon Greyjoy). But my dark horse favorite is Wyman Manderly. Superficially he might appear to be a poor man’s Doran Martell, what with his scheming against those we hate and his morbid obesity, but homeboy goes to Winterfell himself, knowing (I assume) that it’ll be a death trap. I don’t know what his angle is, and I’m a little annoyed that we had to be exposed to several chapters of Davos Seaworth to get even the sense that he had an angle, but I think there’s some fairly interesting crazy there.
6.) I’m interested that all Ned Stark’s kids are apparently wargs; I’ll have to check for Robb/Grey Wind and Sansa/Lady Easter eggs on the next reread. My secret hope is that Sansa wargs up Nymeria. I know, it’s not exactly kosher, but Arya’s got a lot going for her these days; Sansa could really use a little bit of gong fu.
7.) I really thought Pycelle was dead already. No great loss, I guess.
8.) When will we get to see the crannogman Howland Reed? Who was the Knight of the Laughing Tree? Is Coldhands really Benjen Stark? Who is Hodor? (Sorry… just working up my enthusiasm for Book 6. Which, despite all the banging on in here, I’m already itching to read.)
9.) I hereby predict that the final bracket for possession of the Iron Throne will be: Big Bucket Wull versus the Great Walrus. Place your bets!