Chapter 1 – Bran
Wow, okay, this book suddenly got really awesome. I mean, jeez.
But before I get to that, I need to fret a little about the chapter heading, because there isn’t one. And going by the heading of the next chapter, there never will be. All I get is a floral design and the name of whoever’s POV I’m following. I guess this is just a pet peeve of mine, but it will make keeping track of the chapter numbers a lot harder. It also tells me to expect a lot of different POVs, though, which is nice.
Back to the chapter:
First of all, remember what I said about Gared the Night Watchman? How I just assumed he got killed with his fellows?
Well, derp — he totally survives the ghost warriors and apparently deserts or something, because the next time I see him he’s being executed in front of a crowd of people. Damn, just a day before retirement, too. (But not really.)
Among the crowd is what I gather to be the Stark family, led by Eddard Stark (most likely Sean Bean, although I’m not 100% sure yet), Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. I know he’s both of these things because he proclaims so just before personally decapitating Gared. With Lord Stark are some friends/compatriots, and some of his children: Robb, a Boisterous Bruiser who’s probably the eldest — Bran, a seven-year-old and our POV character for the day — and Jon Snow, who’s name I’ve heard mentioned online before, so he must become pretty important. Even judging him by this first appearance, though, he’s probably my favorite character so far.
At first I was wondering, “Why not just call him Jon Stark?” Well, because he was born illegitimately. Lord Stark has five legitimate children, three boys and two girls, plus one bastard son, who’s named “Snow” because that’s what everybody calls their bastards in this northern place.
Anyway, things get really interesting when the Starks and the others with them leave the execution and come across the corpse of a mother direwolf. This alone upsets some people, since apparently direwolves haven’t been seen “south of the Wall” for 200 years, kind of like the Geth. In addition to this, though, the mama wolf’s puppies are still alive, huddled around their mum’s corpse and acting all adorable and stuff.
Bran, being a seven-year-old, immediately wants to keep the cubs, which is shot down by most of the adults — in fact, it’s all but decided the cubs should be killed right now before they grow up to become truly dangerous, since adult direwolves can basically rip people’s limbs off with ease. Robb also wants to keep the cubs, but Lord Stark isn’t having any of this insanity . . . until Jon Snow speaks up and starts laying out prophetic facts like a badass. He points out that there are exactly five puppies — three boys and two girls — and reminds Lord Stark that the family sigil is a direwolf.
[quote]Your children were meant to have these pups, my lord.[/quote]
That’s so awesome. What’s especially interesting about this bit from Jon is that he deliberately fails to count himself among the Starks so the puppies will be saved. But then — to lay some icing on the cake — just after they decide they’ll keep the cubs and start to leave, Jon goes back to the mother’s corpse and finds a cub they missed, another male, and it’s an albino with fur as white as the snow.
So, um, I like this sort of thing. Color me intrigued.
Another bit of worldbuilding I picked up on: when the Starks find the direwolf it’s late summer, yet it’s starting to snow, and Bran mentions that it’s been summer for his entire life. Clearly the changing of seasons occurs at an incredibly reduced rate in this world, although I’m curious why. I hope the series’ touches on this.
Besides that, I’m thinking for the next chapter I’ll shake things up and write as I read — kind of live-blog the chapter, basically. I’m hoping this will better capture my reactions, although it might render the post nonsensical. Doing this may also conserve the time needed to write these, which might be a good thing: these first two chapters were relatively short, but this book has about, uh, 70 more to go. That’s a little daunting to me.
See you next time and thanks for reading.
EDIT: Check out Ian’s interpretation of the slain direwolf here.