A Dance With Dragons 2: After the Feast – George R.R. Martin

She had lost all sense of how long she had been imprisoned in this cell, high up in one of the seven towers of the Great Sept of Baelor. I will grow old and die here, she thought, despairing.
Cersei could not allow that to happen. Her son had need of her. The realm had need of her. She had to free herself, no matter what the risk. Her world had shrunk to a cell six feet square, a chamber pot, a limpy pallet, and a brown wool blanket thin as hope that made her skin itch, but she was still lord Tywin’s heir, a daughter of the Rock.
Exhausted by her lack of sleep, shivering from the cold that stole into the tower cell each night and famished by turns, Cersei came at last to know she must confess.

If you’re looking for spoilers..fill your boots, if you’re not, you may want to return after you’ve finished..

It seems a little baffling that book five of a series can actually just be a warm up, a pre-cursor to something bigger, but that’s exactly what this seems to be, either that or Martin is having so much fun that he genuinely has no idea where he is going with this, or for how long, although I will reveal that in the epilogue to this, in which Varys makes a welcome tittering return, winter has finally arrived.

But I’m starting at the finish, what kind of crazy scheme is this? Well not quite as crazy as young Jon Snow, who lets as many Wildlings as he can through the wall, which obviously goes down well with everyone, taking a loan out from the Iron Bank of Braavos to help him do so. Despite patiently explaining why he needs to do this (They’ll freeze and die and turn into Others you see) to his unhappy inferiors (who would, in fact, all be Daily Mail readers were they were alive today, or, in fact, actually real people), he is bitterly and violently betrayed at the end. Oh, I’m back at the end again.

How about this then, Cersei repents! it seems anyway, she confesses to everything she can think of, hoping this will allow her to be scourged and purified, so she can go and do it all again I expect. After being sent naked through the streets of Kings Landing she seems a meek thing, but I don’t trust her for one second, oh no.

Across the sea Danaerys, whose name I seem to spell differently every time I type it, marries Hizdahr zo Loraq after he gives her 99 days of peace and at the same time they sign a peace treaty with the Yunkish. At the opening of the fighting pits (there’s a wedding gift you don’t often see on the list) Drogon returns to grab a bit of boar meat. Danaery’s jumps on his back and is whisked away / burnt to a cinder / falls to her death, delete as appropriate depending on who you are talking to. This leaves poor old Barristan the bold and the Shavepate to play the game of thrones as Hizdahr sits weakly on high. Not only that but Quentyn Martell revealed himself and the young dragon queen showed an epic lack of interest, women eh. He decides to prove himself by showing that he has dragon blood in him. It would seem that having dragon blood is not quite as good as wearing something extremely inflammable that covers every inch of your body.

Young Arya is still learning in the house of black and white, she regains her sight eventually, still denying her true self but I’m sure she’ll come round eventually, in the meantime she is given a removable face, it’s all a bit weird.

Finally across the sea, Tyrion, Penny and Mormont are sold to a Yunkish trader who then donates them to the celebrations celebrating the peace with the dragon queen, who saves their lives. Their Yunkish trader then catches the flux, so Tyrion escapes and signs the three of them up to the Second Sons, who Brown Ben Plumm took across to the Yunkish for more money.

Back up to the north, Reek is accused of murdering men in Winterfell as Roose and Ramsay await the coming of Stannis, and they don’t have to wait long, horns are blowing outside the walls, Stannis has found his snow shoes! Apparently. Because Reek then becomes Theon, rescuing the Arya Stark (not the real one obviously, and he knows it, and probably so does everyone else) from Ramsay Bolton and jumping from Winterfell where he is eventually reunited with his sister, who is a ‘guest’ of King Stannis. Stannis himself has been stuck on his way to Winterfell in some snow, Winter seems to have arrived sooner up in the north.

Young Prince Aegon meanwhile has landed and is giving Kevan Lannister (the new regent since Cersei’s downfall) a headache. But luckily for Kevan it won’t be for long, or unluckily, if you’re Kevan.

Finally, Jaime ends the siege at Raventree before bumping into Brienne, who was killed in a previous book, and who apparently has found Arya Stark (the third one by my count), we hear through others that he has gone running off on a mission.

So there you have it. Westeros is in a complete mess, and winter has arrived.

“…A septa has instructed him in the mysteries of the Faith since he was old enough to understand them. He has lived with fisherfolk, worked with his hands, swum in rivers and mended nets and learned to wash his own clothes at need. He can fish and cook and bind up a wound, he knows what it is like to be hungry, to be hunted, to be afraid. Tommen has been taught that kingship is his right. Aegon knows that kingship is his duty, that a king must put his people first, and live and rule for them.”


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