“Let them see that their words can cut you and you’ll never be free of the mockery. If they want to give you a name, take it, and make it your own. Then they can’t hurt you with it anymore.” — Tyrion Lannister, 185
The Story Shines
Now that I’m fully integrated into this world, I’m completely engrossed by the story. I see that Martin is playing with the War of the Roses; that is fairly clear based on the Stark/Lannister rivalry. Martin has given us this complete, fictional world that we know will eventually include some fantasy/magical elements. What’s north of the wall is definitely not “normal” by any means. What I love is that the magical elements aren’t totally the focus of the story. His writing style reminds me a lot of Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy. There are fantasy/magic elements, but they don’t take center stage. I think one of the marks of a good fantasy story is that the story takes center stage, not what powers the characters have. In any case, I’m engrossed.
I’m really intrigued by Tyrion Lannister. I love his character but I’m not sure I’m supposed to. I believe he’s one of the most complex characters I’ve come across so far. Where do his loyalties lay? He isn’t dwarfed by his disability (he is, in fact, a dwarf — in the literal sense, not the fantasy sense). The quote I’ve chosen for my favorite passage is an important one. Words are so powerful. They have the ability to tear down a man with a single syllable. Phrases can reduce children to tears (I’m thinking of Circe and the direwolf, here). Tyrion knows this more than any other character simply because of his physical stature.
Tyrion’s interaction with Jon Snow is so intriguing. In a way, they are kindred spirits. As a bastard, Jon Snow is almost equally as ridiculed as Tyrion is for his size. I think their scenes are thoughtful and authentic. Tyrion isn’t afraid to tell the truth, a quality that is quite lacking in this book of political intrigue. I so enjoy a take-no-crap-from-nobody-tell-it-like-it-is kind of character. I like it even better when there’s only one. It makes the story feel less saturated with didacticism.
Bran and the Crow
I want to switch gears for a minute and talk about Bran and the crow. I’ve been trying to pick this scene apart for DAYS. I am, afterall, a literature PhD student. This is what I do. What is the significance of the three-eyed crow? After some quick research, I found that the crow is often considered a soothsayer and/or the harbinger of death as well as a creature that cleanses all that is decayed. So why did he appear to Bran? As he falls, the crow appears to him and tells him to fly. “Every flight begins with a fall,” the crow says as Bran screams that he’s falling (162). When the crow instructs him to look down, Bran does. He sees across the entire country and across the sea as well. He sees his family (not just in a metaphorical sense, but what they are actually doing at the moment he looks). He also sees across the sea to the Dothraki people. He looks “deep into the heart of winter, and then he cried out, afraid, and the heat of his tears burned on his cheeks” (163). The crow in his most important line says:
“Now you know … Now you know why you must live” (163).
So what is it that Bran saw that he MUST live for? The winter? He looks into the heart of winter and cries out afraid. What did he see? What is coming? Based on what we do know, the crow isn’t a harbinger of Bran’s death. We could make the case that he is the harbinger of the many deaths to come but at this point I think the crow is in soothsayer form. He gives Bran the ability to see what’s happening and choose life or death. If the crow is meant to purge what is decayed, what is he purging? Corruption? Greed? I think I may have to come back to the crow later. If I remember correctly, isn’t one of the books in the series called A Feast for Crows? Perhaps the crow returns.
I’ll see you in another hundred pages. Until then, remember: winter is coming.
© 2012, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.