A Storm of Swords is my favorite book in “A Song of Ice and Fire” so far: This is hardly controversial. But when most people talk about how much they dig Swords, they gravitate to the list of Greatest Hits moments: Red Wedding, Purple Wedding, the battle at the wall, Tyrion’s speech, Tyrion’s murder spiral, the Oberyn/Mountain fight. But what I always remember is the Epilogue. It takes up the perspective of a ridiculously minor character: Merrett Frey. By this point, you’re primed to basically despise everyone surnamed Frey, but in a few pages, GRRM sketches Merrett into a weirdly sympathetic, utterly inessential person.
Merrett gets sent on an inconsequential mission, ransoming a relative who got kidnapped by the Brotherhood Without Banners. And by this point, you’re primed to treat the Brotherhood as a charming, albeit mildly annoying, group of merry men. So it’s a shock when Merrett finds out that they’ve already hung his relative; and it’s an even bigger shock when the Brotherhood reveals that their new leader is Catelyn, who gets reintroduced thus:
Beneath her ravaged scalp, her face was shredded skin and black blood where she had raked herself with her nails. But her eyes were the most terrible thing. Her eyes saw him, and they hated.
In the span of a few pages, you go from mourning Catelyn to being ridiculously freaked out by Catelyn. It’s a classic GRRM twist. (Remember: This was the same book that taught us all to kinda love Jaime.) Storm of Swords is a book filled with horrors, but what I liked about Lady Stoneheart was how she promised that the worst horrors were yet to come. Like, if Ned Stark represented the old rules of honor, and Tywin Lannister represented the new rules of cruel logic, then after both of them were dead, we’d basically be entering a world without even the bare outline of rules: Ice zombies in the north, vengeance-zombies in the south, dragons in the east, freaking Greyjoys doing their Greyjoy thing. That was the first time I really found myself thinking that nobody would wind up on the Iron Throne: That the endgame for “Ice and Fire” would be complete disaster for everyone (besides maybe the people in Tall Tree Towns. The Summer Islands seem nice!)
So I definitely miss Lady Stoneheart, and I find myself wondering what her disappearance means for the show’s next season.
I want to mourn the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin, and I want to question why the deaths of Renisha McBride and Islan Nettles and Kathryn Johnston haven’t gotten similar traction. Why the beating of Marlene Pinnock isn’t on all of our lips. Why the nation is not familiar with the names of Stephanie Maldonado, or of Ersula Ore. And how many women’s names do we not know because they don’t dare come forward? Because the violence they experience at the hands of the police is sexual, and the shame and stigma around sexual violence silences them?
on the role of misogyny, transmisogyny, and respectability politics in which state violence against people of color makes news.