Stay away if you haven't read all five
books of the series, and the published chapters of the Winds of
Winter. Light use will be made of the Dunk and Egg short stories.
Our subject consists in the chapters in
Winterfell mediated by Theon in ADwD, and their ramifications. The
Prince of Winterfell, The Turncloak, A
Ghost in Winterfell, Theon.They will collectively be called the Four Chapters or
the Huis Clos. A single place, a determinate time period,
and a known list of agents make for a rare episode when our story has
the (false) allure of respecting the classical
Even if I have tried to present my
thinking in an organized way, I can only offer a draft, that would
take too long to be edited properly. All this started as a set of
notes, and the study grew in the studying. In its present form, it is
a set of 1995-looking web pages. But I have not plan to give them a
more congenial shape. So here they are, warts and all. (Added: I have
updated the site twice.)
The Four Chapters appear to be too
complex to be discussed in any linear manner. I have tried to separate
elements of background from the drama itself, without having any
illusion that it could be done properly. In the preparatory analyses
of all involved parties there will be discussion of events in
Winterfell, and in the examination of events we will occasionally
return to the background.
In particular, I could not organize
well enough to avoid overlaps and repetitions. For instance, Roose's
maneuvering prior to the Red Wedding is discussed in the same terms at
least four times. My approach has the benefit that each part of my
analysis is reasonably self-contained.
A second reason might excuse my
inability to organize linearly: what we see in Winterfell is a
superposition of stories. Threads are interwoven, and the same passage
has sometimes meaning within several threads. We can read the Four
Chapters in a dozen different ways.
I haven't been raised in the English
language, and I don't speak it every day. But it is the language of
the books, and hence, is appropriate. Indulgence for my awkward
After my first reading of the books in
the Fall of 2011, I was mostly clueless, but intrigued. Internet
forums enlightened me a bit, and inspired some ideas. What is here
comes in small part from my old contributions to online discussions,
and mostly from the many notes accumulated during a second reading of
the books in the Fall of 2012. I have borrowed a few ideas seen
online, I wish I could credit properly their originators.
I have tried to give a reference for
every quote. It gives a serious air to my writing, and is perhaps a
good trick to impress (or discourage) the reader. It has the side
benefit of keeping me disciplined in my thinking. But it has been
quite tedious to recover the correct chapter numbering for
each the passages I reproduced. I have certainly slipped a few
times in my count. Another side benefit of the method: making me
intimately familiar with the organization of the books. I am able to
recite what happens in each of the thirteen Jon chapters of ADwD after
having looked them up so many times.
The four chapters have a companion
story: the fourteen chapters mediated by Jon Snow and Melisandre that
happen at the Wall. A thorough look at this part of the story might be
the most glaring omission in my study. Indeed the denouement of our
Huis Clos happens at the Wall, and the two stories eventually
converge. But those fourteen chapters would require as much attention
as I have already given. There are limits to my available time and
I regret also to have insufficiently
employed reasoning by analogy: comparison with similar situations at
the other end of the world, consideration of remarks in passing of a
distant character, use of symmetry and differentiation.
The Four Chapters are made of 24057
words. We are going to discuss them in about three hundred thousand
words (half of them or more are quotes). It has been asked
what is the Kolmogorov complexity of War and Peace. Such a
count would let me think that the Kolmogorov complexity of the Four
Chapters is low, the hallmark of a dense and structured story. Of
course the standard objection applies: any text (or for that matter
anything) is inexhaustible as a source of meaning and there is no end
in the interpretations that devoted exegetes can produce, as the
history of various sacred texts illustrates.
Why so long? I presume I could have
presented my views in a more compact form. But there is some advantage
in showing all the articulations of one's thinking: dispel
Here are the sources I have used: the
five published novels, the three Dunk and Egg stories, the two
chapters of the Wind of Winter available online. I made indirect use
of the wikis, but always went back to the source. The little
encyclopedia that can be read on smartphones has been useless. (It
appears to contain contradictions with the novels, and I lost all
faith in its accuracy on fine points.)
Even the novel themselves might not be
reliable. This is why I have appended a list of confusing passages.
I have treated the books as if they
were a perfect creation, which they are not. They have been written
over a long time period, during which the author's idea of his story
has evolved. New elements have been introduced and one has to be
careful about the connections between the early books and the recent
books. We need to forgive the author for being human.
For those who wonder.
Huis Clos: french noun, Etymology: from huis (door) and clos
Definition: (Law) meeting behind closed doors, (Figurative)
confrontation between persons isolated from the external world.