Arya peers out at a fishing village from a tree she has climbed. There appear to be people there. She, Lommy, Hot Pie, Gendry, and the little girl, whom Lommy has named Weasel, are travelling on their own. The day after Ser Amory’s attack, they went back to the towerhouse and discovered Yoren’s corpse among many others. Cutjack, Kurz, and Tarber were still alive in the towerhouse, however, because they got the ladder to the third floor up in time. Kurz led them for a time, but he took a wound in the shoulder pulling the ladder up and died several days later. Cutjack and Tarber abandoned the rest not long after. Arya rejoins the others and tells them about the village. Gendry has taken charge of the group and decides that he and Arya will sneak into town that night. On the way in, Gendry reveals that he knows Arya is a girl and asks who she is. Arya decides to trust him and reveals her true identity. They decide to split up to search the town. Arya goes down by the lake and sees a gibbet hung with corpses. The town is full of troops led by Gregor Clegane. After a time, she sees a commotion in town and sees that Gendry got caught. After observing some more, she returns to the others and tells Hot Pie that they have to rescue Gendry. They head back in, but Hot Pie gets startled and gasps, leading to them being discovered. Gregor comes out and interrogates Hot Pie. Some of the men have Arya and Hot Pie lead them to the others. Weasel has run off by the time they get there. When they learn that Lommy cannot walk, they kill him.
Oh dear God, this chapter is long. It’s full of the same kind of violence and hopelessness that I’ve come to expect from Arya’s chapters in ACOK. Honestly, reading this chapter was a little depressing in that their whole situation started out looking pretty despondent and ends up utterly dismal. I’ll go through the chapter a little more close to highlight some of the more salient points but there really isn’t much that’s relevant to the bigger picture. While chapter like these can be a little tedious to get through, being more descriptive and all, they are important in setting the stage for a character’s growth and development. For instance, Arya eating worms here becomes amusingly relevant in AFFC while the general death and suffering she encounters and forces herself to become familiar with is important in hardening her mind and soul to the violence that she will eventually propagate on her own terms.
I was actually a little surprised that some people apart from Arya and the other children had survived the attack. It’s probably not too surprising that I had forgotten that Kurz and Cutjack had survived given that they disappeared from the story shortly after. I don’t know if it’s ever explicitly confirmed whether they abandoned the kids or just died before they could get back but I think it’s reasonable to assume it’s the former. What bothers me though is that I just don’t know if it’s plausible that a small bunch of kids survive in the wilderness for that long (it sounds like it was a week or two) eating the way they did. I mean, bacteria and germs are still a thing in Westeros right? Even if it makes sense for the older kids to survive, there is no way that a two year old children is still alive after eating mud and bugs. I’m no expert and maybe living in the modern world has led me to grossly underestimate the power of human body in fighting infections but, seriously – an infant was eating mud in a setting where antibiotics and medical care are not things. In comparison, Lommy definitely shows signs of fatal infection and it makes sense that other die of it too, but I don’t know, it seems like medicine in Westeros is a bit funky.
She could draw Needle and kill him where he stood, or else trust him.
It really chills me, the way that she mulls this option over in her head like it’s no big deal. It’s especially bad because she isn’t talking about some nameless stranger she’s never met before – she’s talking about Gendry, someone she likes and trusts, a friend. The text makes it seem like if it weren’t for the fact that Gendry was stronger, Arya would have very seriously considered killing him once he learned her secret. What I find odd about these Arya chapters is that though we’re in her head for a good amount of time, we don’t really get any sense of who Arya is as a person. We see only glimpses of her thought process but most of the chapter goes in describing what she senses rather than what she thinks about what she senses. Of course, it’s not like the chapter’s (and the ones preceding it) are totally devoid of Arya’s personality – we see a hidden kind streak in her protection of Weasel, her loyalty in how she treats Yoren’s corpse and a generally good, calm(ish) head on her shoulders, but I guess what I mean is that the information we get, as readers, about Arya from her own chapters differs from what we get from Tyrion or Sansa chapters.
“He’s going to die, and the sooner he does it, the better for the rest of us.”
We should also talk a little about Gendry too. I really like Gendry; he has a good mix of the idealism of the young and enough wisdom and experience to know how things really work. In a lot of cases, he acts as a guide to the readers too, informing them how things are in Westeros but more than any of this, just like his father, he is a natural leader. Perhaps it’s because of his size or his age, but the other kids defer to him naturally and he assumes the role of leader very organically. I won’t lie I find the Stark-Baratheon(Waters? Stone? Storm?) duo of Arya and Gendry absolutely adorable and in my mind’s eye they’re like a married couple trying to take care of the kids (Lommy, Hot Pie and Weasel) in pretty challenging circumstances. That image is rather ruined by the fact that Lommy and Hot Pie are older than Arya though. I do hope we see more of Gendry in the future.
“Carry him, he says,” he muttered, chuckling.
We’ll end this chapter’s discussion with Gregor Clegane and his special band of psychopaths. I don’t know what the odds were that Arya’s group would run into both Lorch and Clegane consequently but it’s got to suck to have luck that’s that awful. I don’t actually remember what things were like within Clegane’s band itself. Are the men generally pretty chummy or does everyone walk in terror of pissing Gregor off? We’ll out soon enough but our introduction through Raff the Sweetling couldn’t have been more accurate.