In GRRM's organization of his stories, there is the habit of putting
side by side chapters that illuminate each other, even if the events
they described are separated by time and space. Here is what the author
on the matter.
What's the writing process like? Do you write the
individual chapters in the order they appear in the books?
Oh, no. [Laughs.] I start off trying to do that, and I certainly
outline what order I want the chapters in, but both of those things
are subject to change. I usually wind up rearranging the chapters
two dozen times before the book is done, trying to get the optimal
arrangement of intercutting from one character to another to
maximize the suspense. Sometimes there's a certain irony, or a
certain interesting point-counterpoint effect you can get by
properly ordering certain chapters, juxtaposing events with each
other. But you also have the chronology to worry about. It's tricky,
and I'm always changing my mind on that, trying to optimize it. As
for writing the chapters, well, particularly when a work is going
well--if I'm writing a Tyrion chapter and I finish it, but it's
really rolling, and I know exactly what's going to follow, then
instead of whatever chapter comes next, I'll just go on ahead and
write the next Tyrion chapter, even though it may not occur until
seven chapters later in the book. I may write three or four before I
finally hit the point where I'm struggling a little, and then I'll
go back and pick up whatever character was supposed to be next, and
write about them for a little while.
A fine example appears in ACoK, where three consecutive chapters
describe the exploration of a set of dwellings deserted by its
inhabitants. Daenerys explores Vaes Tolorro, the Night's Watch enters
Whitetree, and Arya, Yoren and co take refuge in the town on the bank of
God's Eye. A city, a village, a town respectively.
The final two chapters of the Huis Clos (A Ghost in Winterfell
) are separated by just a few hours: the timelength
between the meeting of Theon and the washerwomen in the godswood after
the hour of the wolf (that is when the night is the darkest) and the
breakfast in the Great Hall. Nevertheless the two chapters are separated
by four other chapters: Tyrion X, Jaime, Jon X, Daenerys
It stands to reason that GRRM might have inserted those chapters to make
us reflect, and perhaps even formulate hints. Indeed a few mysterious
events happened the night before the escape. The hornblowing, a visit in
the crypt, Little Walder's murder, Ramsay's activities, the hooded man
in Winterfell. Let's look briefly at each chapter and try to examine
their relevance to our Huis Clos.
- Tyrion X
- Jon X
- Daenerys VIII
1. Tyrion X
The chapter decomposes as follows. Tyrion and Penny are sold at a slave
auction at Meereen's harbor, along with Jorah Mormont. Their buyer,
Yezzan, has them brought to his camp among the besiegers of Meereen.
There they get acquainted with the rest of Yezzan's grotesquerie. They
amuse the guests at the dinner. Tyrion plays cyvasse with one of them,
Brown Ben Plumm.
Given that there are northern forces around Winterfell, the siege part
is interesting, since Winterfell is somewhat under siege, at least from
Crowfood. The obesity of Yezzan recalls Manderly.
Jaime comes to Raventree to negoiate the surrender of Tytos Blackwood.
The castle is currently besieged by the Blackwoods' old enemies, the
Brackens. Jaime enters Jonos Bracken's tent, and becomes acquainted with
Jonos' mistress. Then he meets Tytos Blackwood in Raventree Hall and
obtain the reddition. He learns from Hoster Blackwood the history of the
Bracken-Blackwood enmity before stopping at the village of Pennytree for
the night. There Brienne comes to guide him to Sansa Stark.
Again we have a siege. The story of the Brackens illuminate our
understanding of their cultural cousins, the Ryswells. The chapter
brings up the possibility of poisoning the heart tree.
The tent was brown, like the standard flapping from its
center pole, where the red stallion of House Bracken reared upon its
Lord Jonos Bracken was waiting for him outside
Raventree, just beyond the range of a good crossbow. He was mounted
on an armored destrier and had donned his plate and mail, and a grey
steel greathelm with a horsehair crest.
Through their thick, diamond-shaped panes of yellow
glass Jaime glimpsed the gnarled limbs of the tree from which the
castle took its name. It was a weirwood ancient and colossal, ten
times the size of the one in the Stone Garden at Casterly Rock. This
tree was bare and dead, though.
“The Brackens poisoned it,” said his host.
3. Jon X
The wedding of Alys Karstark takes place at Castle Black, officiated by
Melisandre following the rites of the red god. Jon talks to Melisandre,
then to his prisoner Cregan Karstark, and join to the feast. The feast
is interrupted by two suspenseful horn blasts: Tormund.
Three scenes seem to echo the Winterfell chapter.
Cregan Karstark had turned up a day behind his niece.
With him came four mounted men-at-arms, a huntsman, and a pack of
dogs, sniffing after Lady Alys as if she were a deer. Jon Snow met
them on the kingsroad half a league south of Mole’s Town, before
they could turn up at Castle Black, claim guest right, or call for
parley. One of Karstark’s men had loosed a crossbow quarrel at Ty
and died for it. That left four, and Cregan himself.
(Jon X, ADwD)
The Karstarks are allied with Ramsay. The hunt for Alys evidently
reminds us of Ramsay's hunt.
In one corner of the cell a heap of furs was piled up
almost to the height of a man. “Karstark,” said Jon Snow. “Wake up.”
The furs stirred. Some had frozen together, and the frost
that covered them glittered when they moved. An arm emerged, then a
face—brown hair, tangled and matted and streaked with grey, two
fierce eyes, a nose, a mouth, a beard. Ice caked the prisoner’s
mustache, clumps of frozen snot. “Snow.” His breath steamed in the
air, fogging the ice behind his head. “You have no right to hold me.
The laws of hospitality—”
(Jon X, ADwD)
Cregan emerging from the furs prefigures the similar scene where "Arya"
comes from hiding under the wolfskins in Ramsay's bedchamber.
The ice cells themselves resonate with the cold cage in which Ramsay
claims to have put Mance.
The horn blasts of Tormund echoes the horn blown in Winterfell. In both
cases, we are spared the fateful third blast.
“Did you hear that?” Queen Selyse asked her knights.
“A warhorn, Your Grace,” said Ser Narbert.
The queen’s hand went fluttering to her throat. “Are we under
“No, Your Grace,” said Ulmer of the Kingswood. “It’s the
watchers on the Wall, is all.” One blast, thought Jon Snow. Rangers
Then it came again. The sound seemed to fill the cellar. “Two
blasts,” said Mully.
Black brothers, northmen, free folk, Thenns, queen’s men, all
of them fell quiet, listening. Five heartbeats passed. Ten. Twenty.
Then Owen the Oaf tittered, and Jon Snow could breathe again. “Two
blasts,” he announced. “Wildlings.”
(Jon X, ADwD)
4. Daenerys VIII
A feast celebrates Daenerys' marriage, and the peace between Yunkai and
Meereen. Dany observes the armies besieging her city. She talks with
Barristan. She brings Quentyn Martell to see her dragons in the
pyramids. She joins her husband Hizdhar for the wedding night, which
seems like their thousandth night together, and ends the night with
I can't help comparing Quentyn's visit to the depths of the pyramids to
the descent into the crypts of Winterfell. If Mance visited the crypts
that night, perhaps Quentyn's seemingly parallel visit should teach us
something. But what?