It’s a good time to be a Game of Thrones fan. Season six is bringing the highs and lows that we love so much. Joffrey is still dead. And now George R.R. Martin has dropped the most recent chapter of The Winds of Winter, the next book in his fabulous epic, A Song of Ice and Fire, a.k.a. the basis of the HBO TV show Game of Thrones.
It’s a slight chapter, compared with the length of “Mercy” or the many details of “Alayne.” But it has the same meat on its bones that makes A Song of Ice and Fire such a delectable series.
Here’s what we’ve learned from the most recent chapter, “Arianne.” But first, some background:
For those of you who have only seen the television series, Dorne isn’t just the home to Prince Doran Martell and his brother’s bastard daughters, the Sandsnakes. It’s also the home to Doran’s daughter, Arianne. She had recently plotted to crown Myrcella queen, who she sees as more competent than her younger brother King Tommen. For her conspiracy, Prince Doran had her imprisoned in a tower. Arianne has only recently been freed.
Arianne is on a mission
When last we left Arianne in A Dance with Dragons, Doran told her, “Your place is by my side. Soon enough, you’ll have another task.”
That task is to find Jon Connington and assess the situation:
Jon, a.k.a. Griff, is the guardian of Young Griff, a.k.a. Prince Aegon Targaryen. Jon returned to the Seven Kingdoms at the end of A Dance with Dragons, and now both the two are at war with the Seven Kingdoms, to reclaim Aegon’s long-lost throne.
Arianne’s mission is a fact-finding one: If it looks like the Targaryen prince has a chance of retaking the throne, Dorne will lend their swords and spears to the cause. If not, it won’t happen.
“Prince Doran my father is a wise man, and fights only wars that he can win.”
Jon, however, isn’t where she had expected. As the chapter ends, Arianne decides to travel across treacherous waters to meet him.
The War of the Five Kings is far from over
Aegon and Jon are currently attacking Storm’s End…
Storm’s End. This griffin is a bold one, it would seem. Or else a fool. The seat of House Baratheon for three centuries, of the ancient Storm Kings for thousands of years before that, Storm’s End was said by some to be impregnable. Arianne had heard men argue about which was the strongest castle in the realm. Some said Casterly Rock, some the Eyrie of the Arryns, some Winterfell in the frozen north, but Storm’s End was always mentioned too.
…and at the end of the chapter, Arianne learns that the mighty castle has fallen to Connington’s forces, which include the sellsword group known as the Golden Company. King’s Landing will be sending troops to re-take Storm’s End, and “Prince Aegon means to smash his enemies in the field.”
Now that Aegon is making his might known, it’s about to become the War of the Six Kings.
Arianne’s family is never far from her mind
The princess wonders where her cousins and brother are now, now that they’re on their own missions. Nym and Tyene were sent to King’s Landing, to gather information and perhaps to take action.
As for her brother Quentyn, Arianne wonders if he’s wed Queen Daenerys. (She does not yet know that Quentyn is dead, killed by dragon fire.) “King Quentyn. Will I need to kneel to him?”
The only family with her? Young Elia Sand, daughter of the late Oberyn (gone but not forgotten) and his lover Ellaria. Elia is proving quite a handful, what with her wandering to explore alone, as well as her make-out session with someone Arianne deems inappropriate:
“I never knew how wild she was till now,” Arianne complained to Daemon Sand, afterward. “Why would my father inflict her on me?”
“Vengeance?” the knight suggested, with a smile.
GRRM continues to develop his world
Arianne’s chapter is set in the Stormlands, a region south of King’s Landing and north of Dorne. While exploring caverns, Arianne comes across something unexpected:
And all at once she found herself in another cavern, five times as big as the last one, surrounded by a forest of stone columns. Daemon Sand moved to her side and raised his torch. “Look how the stone’s been shaped,” he said. “Those columns, and the wall there. See them?”
“Faces,” said Arianne. So many sad eyes, staring.
“This place belonged to the children of the forest.”
The children of the forest, if you recall, were the people who lived in Westeros before the First Men. Bran is currently learning greenseeing from Leaf, one of the children of the forest, as well as from the Three-Eyed Crow.
That the children of the forest also lived in caves is yet another piece of information we have about Westeros, and it’s the many details about this world that makes reading the books such a rich experience. I absolutely can’t wait to get the next book in my grubby little paws.
Enjoy this chapter, “Arianne,” while you can. Whenever GRRM releases a new chapter of his work, he removes the previous one from his site.
The Winds of Winter currently has no set release date.
Featured Image Credit: George R.R. Martin