[Re-Read] A Clash of Kings – Bran IV


Summary:

a-clash-of-kingsBran and Summer are playing with Meera and Jojen. While the other lords left after the harvest feast, they have stayed. SerRodrik is away dealing with trouble in the east. Ramsay Snow seized Lady Donella on her way back from the feast and subsequently married her, while Lord Wyman occupied her castle to “protect” her lands. Ser Rodrik is trying to sort it out. Jojen tells Bran that he should leave Winterfell. He explains that he has the greensight; he has dreams that show him the future. Bran asks Jojen to tell him more, but Jojen demands that Bran tell him of his dreams first. Bran does not want to. Jojen tells him that he dreamed of a wolf with wings in chains and the three-eyed crow trying to break him free. It was the crow that first gave Jojen the greensight, visiting him in his dreams when he nearly died of greywater fever as a child. Bran blurts out how the crow came to him after he fell and told him to fly or die, and Jojen responds he is now sure the three-eyed crow sent him and Meera to free Bran from his chains. When Jojen told Lord Howland of the dream, he sent Meera and Jojen to Winterfell. He says Bran must open his third eye and go to the three-eyed crow in the far north beyond the Wall and also tells him that when he dreams he is a wolf, he is actually entering Summer. Bran gets angry with Jojen’s questions and Summer attacks, soon joined by Shaggydog. Meera and Jojen climb into a tree and Bran calls Hodor to chase the direwolvesoff. Jojen says they will talk again later. Bran goes to see MaesterLuwin and tells him about Jojen’s claims. Maester Luwin tells Bran that magic is gone from the world. Maester Luwin studied magic for a time at the Citadel and even received a link of Valyrian steel, but he tried his hand at some of the spells himself, and they did not work. When Bran tells this to Meera, she tells him one of Jojen’s dreams. He dreamed that Bran was having dinner with Big Walder and Little Walder. Maester Luwin served them. Bran got the king’s cut of the meat and the Walders’ meat was cold and dead yet they relished their supper more. She says that when Bran understands, they will talk again. In the evening, Bran has supper with the Walders but he can see nothing wrong with their food and thinks that Maester Luwin had the truth of it. However, he laments that magic no longer exists.

Source

Commentary:

I think this is one of the more interesting Bran chapters that we’ve seen so far. Apart from more life in Winterfell, which frankly by this point no longer interests me (and I’m not sure it ever did, really) we get some hints about the nature of these supernatural powers that Bran and Jojen possess. We also get tantalizing clues about the mysterious, evasive Howland Reed and his keep of Greywater Watch.

She smiled. “Ravens can’t find Greywater Watch, no more than our enemies can.”

So this raises two obvious questions: first of all, if ravens can’t find Greywater Watch, then how does news get there? And don’t say that news doesn’t get there and that is why Howland Reed never budges out of Greywater Watch for the whole series, because that’s not only facetious but also blatantly wrong – the fact that Meera and Jojen are at Winterfell right now indicates that Howland knew about events outside his boggy homeland. The other question is how do friends of the Reeds find Greywater Watch? Do they have to be guided there by a crannogman? This seems to be evoking one of those classic fantasy tropes where a magical land is hidden from outsiders and only citizens of said land can lead our heroes there safely. Except, the Neck doesn’t seem too magical – it’s no Lothlorien for sure. Fans like to make a big deal about Howland Reed and his absence from the war, but really, even if he really wanted to march, he has no knights or seemingly no major fighting force to contribute so I think pricking the enemies as they pass the Neck is probably the most effective way for him to contribute to the war effort and as we see in ADWD, it’s nothing to laugh at really.

Roose Bolton’s bastard had started it by seizing Lady Hornwood as she returned from the harvest feast, marrying her that very night even though he was young enough to be her son. Then Lord Manderly had taken her castle.

I’m totally not surprised by Ramsay’s dick move here because you know, it’s Ramsay but Manderly’s occupation of the castle seems questionable too. I’m willing to give Manderly the benefit of the doubt here and believe that he will actually back off when Ser Rodrik restores order but you have to admit that benefit of the doubt or no, it’s a pretty slick political move. Even if he does willingly give up control of the castle, Lady Hornwood will almost be obliged to reward him in some way. I can see the necessity of it, but the whole thing is rubbing me the wrong way. Also, we should note that all is not hunky-dory in Robb’s kingdom even before his real troubles start in ASoS.

“When I was little I almost died of greywater fever. That was when the crow came to me.”

Is there a correlation with near-death experiences and Bloodraven’s visit? There are two separate issues here, actually. First, I’m pretty sure that Bloodraven himself doesn’t have anything to do with the gift of the green sight awakening in Bran or Jojen. Why do I say this? Because green sight has existed long, long before Bloodraven. Yet, it’s definitely possible that an existing greenseer can (or even needs to?) act like a ‘spirit’ guide, to bring the novice rookie greenseer through the journey. As far as I can tell Jojen’s experience with the crow (odd that he doesn’t call it a raven, isn’t it) seems to end when he recovers from the greywater fever. So the second issue is this: is Bloodraven sort of ‘scanning’ these potential greenseers and seeing which of them is Bran? Or rather, it’s clear Bloodraven has a plan and he needs a greenseer to play a certain role in that plan but I don’t think Bran has to be that greenseer right? I mean, it’s convenient that Bran turned out to be the most powerful greenseer ever but what if Bran had died? Could Bloodraven not have used Jojen instead? So many questions, so few books, grr.

“When Jojen told our lord father what he’d dreamed, he sent us to Winterfell.”

I’m curious as to what exactly Jojen told Howland. I’ve long suspected that Jojen knows when he is going to die (it’s hinted at in this chapter as well) but surely he didn’t tell his father that? Though, I guess if Howland already knew about Jojen’s gift, then he would have realized that Jojen’s death is already fated and would have sent him off anyway. I don’t want to think about this too closely because then we run into the usual circular logic of prophecy so, for now let’s just assume that he told Howland that he need to go to Winterfell to teach Bran how to become a greenseeing warg and possibly that he’s going North of the Wall and will never return. That must have made for a pleasant breakfast conversation. Does Meera also know though? She must, right?

The meat he served the Freys was old and grey and dead.

I can’t for the life of me remember what exactly this means. I suspect it has something to do with one of the Freys dying or something and the two gits moving up the inheritance totem pole but I don’t know what that has to do with Bran. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

And he would never walk, nor fly, nor be a knight.

Bran seems to be fighting his talent a lot more than I remembered. I don’t blame him for not believing Jojen right away but at the same time, in his position I think I might be glad to be able to do something that my body would otherwise prevent me from doing. I don’t think his resistance is going to last long though, certainly not beyond the next couple of chapters at most.

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