Fantasy, George R. R. Martin
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A Game of Thrones: Chapter 2 – Catelyn I

Chapter two, a short chapter that introduces Catelyn, Eddard Stark’s wife. A woman of faith, we see a brief insight into the relationship between herself and Eddard (Ned). To summarise this chapter, Catelyn receives news from King Robert Baratheon that Lord Jon Arryn, her brother-in-law, has died. Ned is clearly saddened by the loss. We discover that John Arryn was a second father to him and his friend, Robert Baratheon. Upon receiving the news from Robert Baratheon, we learn that Robert and the queen’s family, The Lannisters, are making their way to Winterfell; displeasing Ned greatly.

Catelyn had been anointed with the seven oils and named in the rainbow of light that filled the sept of Riverrun. She was of the Faith, like her father and grandfather and his father before him. Her gods had names, and their faces were as familiar as the faces of her parents. Worship was a septon with a censer, the smell of incense, a seven-sided crystal alive with light, voices raised in song.

Catelyn Stark, originally from Riverrun, south of Winterfell, misses home greatly; especially the Godswood, described as a place of worship. Compared to Winterfell which is ‘dark, primal place’ and ‘smelled of moist earth and decay’, Riverrun is ‘bright and airy’ and the ‘air was spicy with the scent of flowers’. This chapter provides a beautiful introduction to the settings and scenery. I look forward in reading the narrative as the world continues to expand.

The main theme within this chapter is religion; the introduction of Gods and the belief in higher powers. I always find it fascinating as to how writers create religion within a fantasy realm. Within this chapter we get a clear sense that Catelyn and Ned have different beliefs. Catelyn believes in the ’seven faces of god’, whereas Ned puts his faith in the ‘old Gods’. Parallels can be observed between the two religions of the book and the real world. It can be said that the ‘seven faces of God’ is linked to Catholicism, and the ‘old Gods’ is linked to Paganism. Nevertheless, it is apparent that the faith of the seven gods is the dominant religion passed down through generations. Undoubtedly, the theme of religion will continue throughout the novel and I am strangely going to enjoy learning the complex structure of the different religions.

Catelyn wished she could share his joy. But she had heard the talk in the yards; a direwolf dead in the snow, a broken antler in its throat. Dread coiled within her like a snake, but she forced herself to smile at this man she loved, this man who put no faith in signs.

Furthermore, we get a sense that Catelyn Stark, not only religious, but is also superstitious. She clearly sees the dead direwolf (in the previous chapter) as a bad sign of what’s to come. If only Ned had put more faith in sign; though perhaps that would be a different story.

Additionally, Catelyn is fearful of what lies beyond the wall, north of Westeros, stating, “There are darker things beyond the Wall.” It is said that the Wildlings and the Others live in the area. However, Ned believes the Others have been dead for 8,000 years and/or even a myth passed down through the ages, as “no living man has ever seen one”…If only they knew.

At the center of the grove an ancient weirwood brooded over a small pool where the waters were black and cold. “The heart tree,” Ned called it. The weirwood’s bark was white as bone, its leaves dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands. A face had been carved in the trunk of the great tree, its features long and melancholy, the deep-cut eyes red with dried sap and strangely watchful. They were old, those eyes; older than Winterfell itself…It was said that the children of the forest had carved the faces in the trees during the dawn centuries before the coming of the First Men across the narrow sea.

We also discover within this chapter the first inhabitants, the children of the forest. Not much is known about them yet, except they are believed to have existed before the First Men arrived. They are presumed to be an extinct race, leaving behind the carved faces on the weirwood trees. Thus meaning that the children of the forest also worshipped the old Gods. What happened to them? Did they exist alongside the Others?

There was small love between him and the queen’s family, Catelyn knew. The Lannisters of Casterly Rock had come late to Robert’s cause, when victory was all but certain, and he had never forgiven them.

The hostility towards the Lannisters, notably Queen Cersei Lannister, begins very early on within the novel. As shown in the above quote, the reason for Ned’s distaste is due to the fact that the Lannisters only sided with Robert Baratheon when they saw ‘victory was all but certain’. If true, I suspect Cersei married Robert only for the politics and status. We can only assume that the Lannisters are a very proud family with a “touch” of arrogance; an antagonist that I’m sure I’ll love.

…”The Lannister woman is our queen, and her pride is said to grow with every passing year.”

As a conclusion to this brief chapter, we have gained a small understanding that Catelyn and Ned’s relationship is of trust and respect. It is clear that family comes first to both of them, regardless of their difference in religion. However, there is a lingering sense of uneasiness in the air for the House of Stark. The fact is, this is only the beginning.

Winter is coming

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