Monday, September 7, 2015

Monday Excerpt: Dining with the Dead

Now Playing: Ramin Djawadi - Take Charge of Your Life (Game of Thrones OST)

[Introduction].

I know I featured GRRM and an ASOIAF book here already. It might not be so imaginative to feature him again, but I couldn't help it.

This is what happened: I started thumbing through the second book just a few weeks ago, trying to find a particular line from the Battle of the Blackwater. It's a line I've memorized, actually ("The kiss of wildfire turned proud ships into funeral pyres and men into living torches"), and halfway through rereading part of ACOK, I thought maybe I should find the excerpt around that line to put it up here.

I did find it. It apparently slipped my mind that the entirety of that battle takes place over several chapters, not just because it's the biggest battle during the War of the Five Kings but also since it's jumping through various POV characters. So while the paragraph it's in is great, it's not as great as other parts of ACOK. I kept trying to find the defining paragraph(s) of the battle and I couldn't--it's just too massive. (Although if it could be summarized, it would be with that line).

It was while going through the book, however, that I ran across another scene, one I'd completely forgotten about and didn't think of much the first time I read it. It's odd how quickly it filled me with dread upon encountering it again, especially now that I know of the events that follow.

Massive spoilers for...pretty much all the first three ASOIAF books. Especially if you can read into foreshadowing.

(Young Wolf by zippo514 on DeviantArt)

That night he dreamed of the feast Ned Stark had thrown when King Robert came to Winterfell. The hall rang with music and laughter, though the cold winds were rising outside. At first it was all wine and roast meat, and Theon was making japes and eyeing the serving girls and having himself a fine time[...] until he noticed that the room was growing darker. The music did not seem so jolly then; he heard discords and strange silences, and notes that hung in the air bleeding. Suddenly the wine turned bitter in his mouth, and when he looked up from his cup he saw that he was dining with the dead. 
King Robert sat with his guts spilling out on the table from the great gash in his belly, and Lord Eddard was headless beside him. Corpses lined the benches below, grey-brown flesh sloughing off their bones as they raised their cups to toast, worms crawling in and out of the holes that were their eyes. He knew them, every one; Jory Cassel and Fat Tom, Porther and Cayn and Hullen the master of horse, and all the others who had ridden south to King’s Landing never to return. Mikken and Chayle sat together, one dripping blood and the other water. Benfred Tallhart and his Wild Hares filled most of a table. The miller’s wife was there as well, and Farlen, even the wildling Theon had killed in the wolfswood the day he had saved Bran’s life. 
But there were others with faces he had never known in life, faces he had seen only in stone. The slim, sad girl who wore a crown of pale blue roses and a white gown spattered with gore could only be Lyanna. Her brother Brandon stood beside her, and their father Lord Rickard just behind. Along the walls figures half-seen moved through the shadows, pale shades with long grim faces. The sight of them sent fear shivering through Theon sharp as a knife. And then the tall doors opened with a crash, and a freezing gale blew down the hall, and Robb came walking out of the night. Grey Wind stalked beside, eyes burning, and man and wolf alike bled from half a hundred savage wounds.
- A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin 

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