A Game of Thrones – Chapter One: Bran

Reminders:

  1. Page numbers based off Kindle edition.
  2. No spoiling me; I will edit/delete any.
  3. I don’t avoid spoilers.
  4. My citation format is not necessarily accurate, but it works for me.

I appreciate that some people may be turned off by this constant ‘pre-blog’ notification. I choose to respect that some people may not have read these books before, like I hadn’t and so make the effort to not spoil them unless they go to the post page. I figure if you really want to be here, reading, you’ll ignore it.

Who is Bran? Why does Bran deserve to be the narrator of this chapter? Why is this chapter just ‘Bran’? I’ve only denoted it as chapter one myself to, in theory, avoid confusion.

Ooh, Bran is a Stark. And seven years old. And going to a beheading. If a seven year old is old enough to go see a beheading, this is definitely a different culture to the one I’m familiar with.

Gared? The man they’re gonna behead is Gared? Why?! Do they think he’s responsible for what happened in the prologue?

And there we have Ned Stark, Lord Stark of Winterfell. He’s gonna die. I already know that. Why? Because Sean ‘I never took a role that didn’t end in my death’ Bean plays him in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

So this Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm… he has a super long name.1 I really hope that’s only used in formal situations. Also I want to know what those words mean. But I won’t go and look it up just yet.

Jon Snow… a bastard. Okay, wait. Why would Ned Stark care if his sons looked away? When it comes down to it, Bran is SEVEN. …but at the same time, I have to remember. Different culture.

…I like Jon Snow so far. He is interesting. He also seems to have knowledge that maybe one would expect him not to have. Some might think that’s because he’s a bastard, but I think that potentially ignores deeper character… well, I’m sure I’ll find out.

I like Ned Stark for checking on Bran. Also I think I like his philosophy: “If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.”2

It is different, and yet similar to what Gandalf said to Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring: “Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.”

But I like Ned Stark. I really wish I didn’t know he was going to die.

OMG DIREWOLVES YAY I WANT ONE.

…AUGH THE FEELS… *whimpers* I want Jon to have a direwolf but he’s being so noble and I can’t help but feel he’s only doing this because Bran wants his direwolf pup so bad… and Ned knows it. I just feel like he really wants Jon to have a direwolf pup as well, but there’s no way it can happen. Five pups, five trueborn. It has to be this way. AUGH SO MANY FEELS RIGHT IN THE CHEST.

I also like Ned’s declaration that the children will take care of the direwolves. It suggests to me that he says this because he has to, for form’s sake. They are in front of other men. His children would do it even if he hadn’t, because they have been raised such. I believe if he thought that despite his warning, the children would not care for them, the pups would be killed.

Jon hears something…

A SIXTH PUP! YAY JON GETS A DIREWOLF PUP!

…although I feel somewhat exasperated that the bastard child gets the pup that is so obviously different to the ‘trueborn’, as it were. *muttergrumbles*

If anyone gives me a direwolf I will be very very happy. *nod*

1. Martin, George R.R. (2010-12-23). A Game of Thrones, page 12. HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

2. Martin, George R.R. (2010-12-23). A Game of Thrones, page 14. HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Comments

6 Responses to “A Game of Thrones – Chapter One: Bran”

  1. Anna says:

    Oooh, more to babble about!

    1.) There is no numbering of chapters, ever. Each chapter’s title is simply the name of the viewpoint character (although GRRM mixes this up a LITTLE in book four). On the one hand, this makes it a bit confusing to keep track of how many chapters you’ve read – on the other hand, it makes it easy going into a chapter to switch gears to whichever character is viewing events.

    2.) I’m sorry you already know Ned is going to die, because honestly, while the snow-zombies in the prologue may have grabbed me, it was Ned’s death that sold me completely on this series – I really, really loved that GRRM proved that NO ONE is safe in ASOIAF. When even the *main character* can die, so can anyone!

    3.) They do mention this in the chapter, don’t they? That Gared is being beheaded because he’s a deserter from the Night’s Watch? The Night’s Watch is something like the Knights Templar – or at least they used to be, before they… fell a bit from grace. (… like the Knights Templar, now that I think about it). Membership is for life, desertation is punishable by death, they’re expected to be celibate, etc.

    4.) Yes, Robert’s full title is only used in formal situation. Otherwise it’s just “King Robert Baratheon” or “Your Grace”.

    5.) 7 year olds going to beheadings – yes! ASOIAF is a *very* different culture, one that feels clearly alien at times. I like that! If it’s off-world fantasy, there’s no need to straight up import morals and social rules from OUR world. Ned brings Bran with him because even if it’s Robb who’ll inherit the lordship of Winterfell, he considers it important that ALL his children get used to the realities of life – which are definitely quite harsh, especially up North.

    It also helps set up the Starks as being somewhat different than other lordly Houses – a difference of culture that seems to be split North-South. The Northmen are… harsher, and culturally closer to pre-Seven Kingdoms life than the southern kingdoms. (I really prefer the Northmen to the southerners, but I might be a bit of a bloodthirsty bastard when it comes to fantasy fiction, so your mileage may vary).

    Also Ned, personally, is a bit different from most lords, since he openly cares about his bastard, Jon Snow – a choice that isn’t always popular.

    Ned and Jon are probably the most traditional heroic figures in ASOIAF – but GRRM being GRRM, you’ll see that he does twist that concept a bit going forward. ASOIAF mostly starts out as your average medieval low fantasy (except that it goes all the way and really takes the “medieval” thing seriously – not just the faux-medieval period you see in so many other novels. ASOIAF is a filthy, filthy world), but really grows from there.

    6.) Direwolves! I love the direwolves – and how GRRM uses them in his narrative. There is definitely a lot of symbolism packed into them – so there is a point to Jon getting one that is different, believe me.

    • Dianna says:

      1. Guess I’ll keep up with the numbering sequence for my own benefit, then.

      2. It actually reminds me of Matthew Reilly, who has been known to introduce a character, only to kill ’em a page later.

      3. Oh, they did. I should have commented on that. Oops.

      4. What a relief.

      5. I need to remember that for my own writing.

      6. I WANT MAI VERY OWN DIREWOLF.

  2. Kayl says:

    I remember the first chapter much better than the prologue. I think it was because it was when I first thought “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Knights and apparently other-worldly beings aren’t uncommon in stories, but I don’t recall ever reading about a seven year old attending a beheading and a cared-about bastard ensuring all goes well for everyone else. Perhaps I haven’t read enough, but that’s what made the first chapter really stick.

    Imagine having to use everybody’s formal titles all the time. I’d never speak to anybody in fear of forgetting what to call them or getting them mixed up!

    I kind of liked Jon’s pup being different. It felt cliche, but I did like it.

    *joins the line for a direwolf pup of her own >.>*

  3. Siri Paulson says:

    One of the things that made the first chapter really stick for me was that the only character to survive the prologue was now being killed — and we’re clearly expected to sympathize with the people doing the killing. I’ve read plenty of prologues where the characters die and then we switch to the protagonists in Chapter 1 (it’s a convention of thrillers, for example, and Star Trek novels do it a lot), but the protagonists are always trying to /solve/ the crime, not commit it! Definitely gives you a sense of what kind of book this is going to be.

    And then Bran and Jon and Ned stole my heart, and the rest was history. 😀

    PM, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it was Game of Thrones that kicked off the fantasy subgenre known as “grimdark”. As in, “You thought you knew what medieval times were like? Well, let me tell you what they were REALLY like. Bwahahahaha.” But at the same time there’s such a vivid sense of the castles and banners flying and armour — GRRM’s world is too pretty to be completely doom and gloom. Which is probably half the reason I love it. <3

    *is not a dog person either, so will pass on her direwolf to any deserving bastard sons*

    • Anna says:

      I’m not sure if GRRM is solely responsible for the grimdark-subgenre, but he is certainly a big inspiration for a lot of what came after it. Other examples include Joe Abercrombie (whose Twitter-handle is, literally, @LordGrimdark – the man knows what he’s about) and, in large parts, Steven Erikson.

      I enjoy grimdark books – to a certain extent. I love GRRM, for example, but he tempers his grimdarkness with moments of hope and success and wonder. Joe Abercrombie digs far deeper into the filth and the muck and the misery – I remember being genuinely depressed at the end of the First Law-trilogy. At the end of The Heroes too, but to a lesser extent, since I hadn’t spent three books holding out hope. Red Country is my favourite Abercrombie so far, and not ONLY because of the awesome heroine. Also, it’s grimdark fantasy-Western. Like, why on earth isn’t EVERYONE writing fantasy-Westerns? It’s the greatest thing! <3

      As for Erikson…. I love large parts of the Malazan Book of the Fallen-cycle (you can tell by the overall title, Here There Be Grimdark). The first three-four books are absolutely brilliant – and then book five completely switches cast and geographic setting, and there are only two characters in it (Tehol Beddict and Bugg! Tehol and Bugg forever! <3) that I love. Book six, The Bonehunters, is good again – then the rest of the series is kind of a slow meandering far-too-epic. He manages to save my opinion of him in the last two hundred pages of the last book, but dear god, is it a slog getting there.

      Erikson's problem is that he tries too hard to be epic. He has a literal cast of hundreds, if not thousands, and he amps up the plot to be all end-of-the-world-y and involving EVERYONE. It gets slightly ridiculous, and a lot of the poignancy and weight gets lost because everything is being played equally loud. But when he's at his best – down in the muck with the soldiers and the *people* – he's absolutely great. The Chain of Dogs-event, and Coltaine of the Crow Clan, and oh god the Bridgeburners and the siege of Pale, and Itkovian the Shield Anvil and aaaaargh. If you think GRRM is bad with the whole kick-in-the-heart-thing, you should see Erikson. He makes me cry, he really does.

      …. /off-topic ramble.

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