game of thrones

Playin’ with Ice and Fire: A Game of Thoughts | Bran Chapter 24

She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader.  She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet.  Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on.  Today they react to Chapter 24- Bran.

If this is the first you are hearing of us, go back to the beginning of this Game of Thrones journey.


This chapter starts off with a slap in our face about Bran’s condition—his little brother running in the yard with the three wolves left at Winterfell, and Bran watching from above, never able to do the same again ever.

I’m interested in the fact that the wolves are looking differently now that they’re growing older.  Are their appearances meant to be in some way reflective of the Stark with whom they are connected?

I am not sure what a black wolf with green fire for eyes says about the man Rickon will become, or the silver and smoke about Bran, but the “yellow gold eyes that saw all there was to see” sounds a lot like Bran with his dreaming affliction, and Grey Wind being the biggest sounds like Robb, so damn if it don’t all sound like foreshadowing to me….(And Summer as the smartest of the litter is just funny.  I don’t know the Stark kids well enough to know who’s really the smartest but it might well be Bran.  If nothing else because if he wasn’t on the scholar path before, he is now.)

Speaking of Bran with his dreaming, his climbing dream where he sees the gargoyles that might once have been lions—isn’t the lion the Lannister symbol?  So that would make the things that have become twisted and grotesque members of the Lannister family…presumably Cersei and Jamie.  Bran’s subconscious has suppressed the memory.  I wondered if he had this dream now because it’s trying to open it back up, but part of him is still too afraid to face it.  Did seeing Tyrion Lannister inadvertently trigger it, since he’s kin to the grotesqueries of Bran’s dream?

The section with Old Nan was both sad and predictable.  Little kids often take out their resentments on those around them, and Nan is an easy target because she is always there with him.  He’s not going to act out or be cruel to Robb, because he sees so little of his brother now that he’s being “Lord Robb,” and it sounds like she’s then the only person he spends much time with.  I hated listening to him snap at her and think how ugly and old she is, but it was not a surprising reaction except that Martin actually included it (since so many depictions of children in adult literature take out the casual cruelty they can use toward others—as a kid one of my favorite books was Ender’s Game half because it felt like “yes, this is what children are really like” in a way many other books I’d read did not).

There is also a function to the Old Nan section, and that is to introduce us to a few more tidbits of history and a few more of the legends of this world.  We learn some of the Stark family tree—Brandon Stark and Lord Rickard were Bran’s grandfather’s generation, with Rickard being Ned’s father.  Now we know where Rickon got his namesake, leaving only the question of where’d Arya and Sansa come from?  We learn about Brandon the builder who raised Winterfell and maybe The Wall.

There’s a quiet reference to “Balon Greyjoy’s rebellion.”  Uh…what?  It clearly happened after Robert became king, and was just as clearly put down, but how’d it end up that Theon GREYJOY is now fostering with Ned Stark?  (Well, obviously he had to go to somewhere he could be rehabilitated from his father(?)’s sins and raised up in the right mindset, but this is the first it’s been referenced….)

I loved the horror story that Nan was telling Bran, and I love that Bran wants the scary stories.  I wonder if it’s a moment of foreshadowing when Bran bursts out later, in relation to Uncle Benji’s being missing, that the children of the forest will save him, and Yoren doesn’t dismiss it out of hand.  Clearly they see some freaky shit up on The Wall and out beyond it, so they don’t dismiss anything anymore, but probably never expect anyone from the south to take that seriously.  (Echoing of the old watch commander’s plea to Tyrion, and his reaction—and what he knows the reaction of the king and the court will be.)  Anyway, these children of the forest…elves?  Wood spirits?  Sentient trees?  Could be good shit if they show up at some point to balance out the Usrkexis and their zombie army of dead wildlings and Waymar Royce.

Better yet is Nan’s reaction to his request:  “Oh, my sweet summer child…what do you know of fear?”  Just a clever introduction to the story to set the mood properly, or—as I took it—a genuine statement on life during the summer versus survival during the winter?

And then Nan’s actual storytelling…that didn’t work for me as a characterization, though as a way to tell that story it was great.  But I felt it was just way, way, way too eloquent.  My marginal comment was “Faulknerian Old Nan, eh?”  I think this is something that Martin does a lot, though, and this passage was the first I noticed, and that is to have his characters speak long passages in a very written prose style.  People don’t talk that way.  Not really.  And those few who do are truly few and far between…accepting at face value that these characters all just happen to be those few is like accepting Steinbeck’s account of Travels with Charlie as truth now that someone has researched it and realized there’s no way it happened as he said it and likely didn’t happen at all.

Hodor = Anyang on Arrested Development.  That is all I have to say about him.  “Hodor!”  “Anyang!”  “Yes, your name is Anyang.”  “Anyang!”  “Hodor!”

Okay, now let’s talk about Tyrion’s visit.  First of all, Robb might have been ungracious as hell, but at least he didn’t tip his mother’s hand to Tyrion by accusing him of anything, and luckily for Robb the antipathy of Lannisters on Ned’s part is well known enough that Tyrion could assume that was why Robb won’t welcome him into Winterfell as a guest.  (Er…this is an “at least” in the sense of Robb’s point of view, his sense of familial duty.  From my observer standpoint, I’d rather see Tyrion one-up Catelyn than vice versa.)  I don’t actually think that Tyrion had anything to do with the attempt to murder Bran, even if that was his knife involved—and I’m convinced it was, but why in a bit—and I don’t think he has any idea that his knife was involved.  So it’s lucky for Robb that he can be rude to him and not raise Tyrion’s suspicions.

Okay, now, the reason I’m sure that was Tyrion’s knife:  there was no reason for the wolves to attack him like that unless there was a scent recognition (which Martin even gives us with a “perhaps they caught his scent” line). Summer growls first…Summer would have smelled that knife.  If it was Tyrion’s knife and now here is Tyrion…boom.  Explains exactly why Summer goes after the dwarf.

The other two wolves simply follow his lead—as they do when he responds to Bran and backs off to go protect his boy.  (Side note:  I love that even Rickon can command his wolf with a simple “Home, Shaggy, home now!”  That just speaks again to the connection these kids have with their wolves.  Someone in the comments a few posts back talked about what it meant for Sansa that she behaves in such a way that Lady ends up dying for her lies, and if that is meant as a severing of her Stark heritage.  Makes good sense to me.)

Now, on to the other parts of Tyrion’s visit.  I love that he kept his promise to Jon and gave Bran whatever comfort he could.  Including the ability to ride again.  Maester Luwin’s reaction of “I should have thought of this” just made me think, Well, YES.  But no one in Winterfell is used to dealing with cripples—it just did not occur to anyone that Bran could be accommodated like that.  Which actually kind of speaks well for the Lannisters, that they found someone who could and did think of those things for their dwarf son instead of just sticking him a tower with an old nurse and otherwise ignoring him.

Tyrion’s reaction to Bran’s inability to remember his fall, and his insistence that he never fell, had never fallen despite the lack of memory, seemed almost dangerous in its simplicity:  “Interesting.”  It surely is, to him.

Tyrion’s axiom of the day:  “Spare me your false courtesies, boy.”

Words to live by.  Tyrion allows himself no illusions and doesn’t like to let others perpetuate them, either.  A hard way to live but in a way the easiest, because you never have to put up with the bullshit involved in politesse.

The point I want to leave off on is the same Martin closes with:  Robb crying in the dark holding Bran’s hand because he doesn’t know what else to do.  When he yells that Uncle Benji isn’t dead, and Bran suddenly feels scared, my thought was immediately, So is Robb.  Robb is only fourteen.  He was left in charge by his ridiculous mother who was incapable of staying behind to do it herself, and he’s dealing with it as best he can, but the “hope in his voice” that someone will return soon to relieve his burden is a stark reminder that he wasn’t ready for this.  And on top of having to deal with the burden of becoming Lord Robb before his time, he’s also left behind to be the one picking up the pieces of his broken little brother.  That’s a lot for a young man, even one who was raised for it and is almost grown.  It’s an emotional burden that Robb is having to bear alone, because no one is left who isn’t beholden to him.  Welcome to your future, Lord Stark.

– Readers, if leaving a comment for Elena please direct (@Elena) them at her – and lead your comments with your messages for her.  Please do not direct spoilers at her. Thanks!

–Do not read on if you have not read the series through A Feast for Crows and want to avoid spoilers–


Ya know, I don’t have much to say about this chapter. I really love Bran as a character. He’s a more archetypal fantasy character than some of the others in this series. He’s got magical powers, an animal familiar and a mysterious destiny. I actually had quite a long conversation with my boyfriend recently, about how I really feel like Bran is going to die.  I feel like Rickon is going to be the Stark that inherits Winterfell simply because he’s been so forgotten. (I’ve heard that we’re going to get Rickon chapters in ‘Dance’ so I’m def looking forward to that. Is he a warg too? Does Osha take him to the wildings? WHERE DO THEY GO?)

Anyways, I feel like Bran is going to go learn from Coldhands and/or/samethingas the 3-eyed crow and then bring all that knowledge down to his brother on the wall. Then probably die because GRRM can’t stand to let him off that easy. Specifically, I believe Bran will lose his body and become permanently “stuck” inside Summer. But don’t worry! He’ll still have Hodor to “skype” with. I mean, why not make Hodor TALK. It’s gonna happen. Can you imagine the scene where Hodor comes running up to Jon giving him all these warnings about the Others and everything and Jon is just,”Hodor? You can talk?”

In that sense the dreams and warnings and his observances about the direwolves at the beginning of this chapter are all just foreshadowing of Bran’s own inborn abilities. Bran is also the example of what exactly the Stark’s taking the direwolf as their sigil MEANS. Obviously this is an inherited trait, the warging. It makes me grieve that much more for Arya that this ability has mostly been taken from her (minus the random ‘dreams’).

What I don’t get is Summer’s aggression towards Tyrion and not Theon. Is it totally scent based like Elena says? Can the direwolves sense intentions? If it’s scent based than I can understand Summer’s mistake in distrusting Tyrion. While not totally trustworthy, he would never harm a child. He even holds a soft spot for Podrick Payne! (note: Joffrey does not count as a child, as he is clearly the spawn of Satan).

But if it IS intention than why the hell does no one take out Theon Greyjoy? WHYYYY. He’s a hostage to prevent his father from taking up arms against the North once more. We get that. We also learn that Theon is basically forgotten and unloved. As a hostage I don’t know how much good he’s doing. As an infiltrator, a spy and a giant asshole, he’s doing splendidly! BITE HIM SUMMER. TEAR HIS ARMS OFF.

Where was I? Oh right, Tyrion. I think that Tyrion designing the saddle for Bran is just another way GRRM subtly points to the pen/books being mightier than the sword. Knowledge is power. Look how clever he is?! It’s based on his own saddle to be true (and ps- I know quite a lot about horses. It’s entirely possible to ride if you are paralyzed, provided you are properly supported and the horse is trained to respond to voice and rein cues. So kudos to GRRM for good research!) but it’s also just a really nice thing to do for an injured child. Oh Tyrion you old softy! Let’s call it an extension of the friendship we saw begin to blossom between Tyrion and Jon. It can’t all be based on pity. Tyrion is much to smart to just be charitable and good. Plus it’s a FAVOR. Tyrion doesn’t DO favors.

Elena mentioned that Sansa betraying her sister and then losing Lady represents a severing from her Stark heritage. I’m not one to defend Sansa at all but I don’t know if Sansa is entirely Tully. She DOES have an extraordinary ability to endure and a brain made entirely of Spam but I think there’s got to be SOMETHING Stark about her. What is redeeming about Sansa? She’s got no wolf but neither does Arya. They’re both survivors.. oh wait that’s not a particularly Stark quality now that I think about it. Maybe Sansa IS all Tully. If that’s true.. I can’t wait to read her death scene.

Oh and poor Robb. He does seem to be trying to emulate his father and make good decisions but Elena is right. Kid is 14 years old! He can’t be expected to just take over as Warden of the North without getting a little upset. Tyrion is really good at pushing people’s buttons and a 14 year old has lots of buttons to push. His Father and sisters have left, his mother has abandoned him to go haring off after half-baked theories, his brother is gravely injured and unhappy, and he’s got men twice his age and more looking to him. That’s a lot of pressure. Robb does an admirable job of filling his father’s place and attempting to not be bullied or made fun of.

I still think Bran’s instincts are better than Robb’s when it comes to decision-making, but maybe that’s because this is all from Bran’s POV. Robb just wasn’t ready for the responsibility. He needed a few more years yet. Couple that with the fact that he’s actually attempting to emulate the dumbest guy in all of Westeros and he’s bound to end up the way he did. (Ya know.. headless.) Poor Robb. I feel like his parents failed him. Maybe his mother was too involved with Jon-hating, maybe Ned was too involved with being guilty. I don’t know. Robb had the same teachers and practically the same childhood as Jon but where Jon was set apart and made to be much more self sufficient, maybe Robb was loved too much? I don’t know. I’m just speculating at this point. He’s not too soft but he seems needlessly prickly. Inexperienced. He’s unable to take Tyrion’s comments and learn from them the way Jon does. Robb seems resigned to letting Bran rot away up in that tower with Old Nan, but I think Jon would be the first one up there attempting to figure out ways to make Bran’s life as normal as possible.  Thought’s? What’s wrong with Robb?

PS – Shaggydog will always be the best name for a Direwolf. Like naming a Chihuahua Killer.


  1. Re the Theon and intent issue. I have just read past that exact moment in Clash and one thing that I had forgotten was that Theons plan was to aid the Stark rebellion ang be granted good lands on the westerosi continent. Balon however demanded a different route and at that point getting back into daddy’s good books outweighed any affection or ties he may have had with Winterfell. He really did see Robb as somewhat of a brother figure even if he was more hostage than honoured guest

  2. @Paul

    Well.. that answers that I guess. (still.. kicking severed heads? bad seed!

    @Elena.. don’t read that comment up there.

  3. @Elena, I also felt terrible for Bran stuck in the Tower with only caretakers for company. More effort should, and probably would, be made to get his life into some semblance of order, except for the battle preparations that need to be made. I love Old Nan’s stories, though! I wish I had a nanny like her, willing to tell me all kinds of stories, including scary ones. That would have been SO awesome! Although I agree the prose she used was too perfect. I guess it’s easier to write a story than to write about a story being told.

    As to Robb, he may not have tipped their hand, but his inability to be discreet even with grave suspicions is dumb. If the Tyrion were just a touch more suspicious, the jig would have been up and it would have been Robb’s fault. I get so impatient with him at times, and have to remind myself that he’s young and this is all new to him. Sure, he’s been trained from an early age, and sat in on meetings and such with his father and their bannermen, but nothing ever really prepares you.

    On the direwolves attacking Tyrion…well, I don’t know if the reasons are right, precisely. I had always assumed that Summer attacked because he recognized the Lannister in Tyrion…though what I mean by that is stumping even me! Ugh! I’ll just come back to that…

    And yet, despite Robb’s rudeness and the direwolves being rather bad tempered, he still helps Bran. I love Tyrion, and I love your axioms!! Of Tyrion’s, I mean.

    @Rachel, I’ve also been thinking that the Starks have warging in them, they just haven’t had a chance to exercise it in a long time. I’d bet they got the wildling blood in them, since they’re the blood of the First Men.

    I think Coldhands is just leading Bran for now…he’s going to be like that hero in the story Old Nan tells…he’s going to have to go searching for the Children of the Forest to help defeat the Others. But I do agree that Bran is most likely going to die. I don’t want him to, he’s suffered enough! But it would fit.

    On the attack, as I said earlier, I did think it was scent based. They recognized “Lannister scent” and got hostile. This would be why they don’t trigger of Theon, at least not right away. He wasn’t hostile till he returned from home.

    But what is home to him? I admit I hate the little shit and think getting tortured by the Bolton bastard is exactly what he deserves, but I also remember he was conflicted the whole time. his upbringing with the Lannisters clashing with his desire to please his father, and everything clashing with his enormous ego.

    As to Robb and Jon reacting differently to the same things…I always thought the confrontation with Joffery in the yard was a strong indication of which of them was better able to handle things. Robb got offended and lost control of his emotions quickly, while Jon – fully hating Joffery and speaking that emotion aloud to Arya – still managed to remain calm. Jon still has some growing to do, as his set down by Donal Noye proved, but he’s had things slightly rougher and developed a thicker skin than his siblings, which to me makes him better able to handle stuff.

    Ugh, too early, hope I’m making sense!

    Very much enjoying your summaries, ladies! 😀

  4. @duckchick

    thanks, glad you are enjoying them. i think what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. there might also be some residual “wargy telepathy” going on that influences the way the wolves behave sometimes.. ie i don’t like you so my dog doesn’t like you either…

    but i disagree that Old Nan sounds too much like a book. I expect her stories to be part of oral tradition, which tend to be pretty practiced and “literature like”.

  5. Hmm, you have a point. And she seems, with all her stories, to be a point of oral history being preserved. I wish she had an apprentice!

  6. @Elena-
    Your question about Theon Greyjoy was answered in the very first Eddard chapter:
    “Ned had last seen the king nine years before during Balon Greyjoy’s rebellion, when the stag and the direwolf had joined to end the pretensions of the self-proclaimed King of the Iron Islands. Since the night they had stood side by side in Greyjoy’s fallen stronghold, where Robert had accepted the rebel lord’s surrender and Ned had taken his son Theon as hostage and ward, the king had gained at least eight stone.”

    But it’s not surprising that this wouldn’t have made much of an impression that early in the game!

  7. @Elena-
    I’m not sure if it was mentioned in this chapter or not, but if I remember correctly Tyrion designed his own saddle.

  8. @Rachel – I laughed out loud at the girls being survivors… and that not being a Stark quality. Great write-up. (And Shaggydog is totally the best of the Direwolf names).

  9. @ Jay – if he still reads this…..Or anyone NOT A NEWBIE

    Last Bran chapter (which I didn’t comment on then because I am a new reader to this site and didn’t know if you went back to older chapters) you mentioned that you didn’t like Bran chapters. I wonder if that is because we as readers do not exactly know where he is going yet. We know it will be important (or so we think) and we have some thoughts, but it doesn’t look like it will come anytime soon. Right now up to Feast for Crows his chapters feel like – Hey, I’m here. I’m still around and will be an important player. Don’t forget about me. Maybe once the action starts, you will feverently reread his chapters to pick up all the clues you missed. Any thoughts?

  10. hm. if it was mentioned it went over my head. changes the whole perspective on the lannisters vs starks with their respective cripples. 🙂

  11. ha, yeah, that had zero relevance at that point. i should at this point probably go back and re-read everything to this point and get reminded of some of these details so i can quit sounding like i have 5% recall ability, lol

  12. one of my friends had a dad who was an amazing storyteller. when we get together at christmas we still love to trick him into telling us ghost stories. and scaring the heck out of us, even at our adult age!

    yeah, robb is not good at discretion. but then from what i’ve seen neither are his parents so he’s got the deck stacked against him with those genes, those parental examples, and being 14…

    also? glad you’re loving the tyrion’s axioms segment! it will be a sad, chapter, indeed, that does not have a golden line from him. 🙂

Share your thoughts