Felicity must return to her hometown for the first time since high
school to stand in her friend Sara’s wedding. While many things have
changed for Felicity some have not and she has begun to wonder what
happened to her old high school crush Oliver Queen.
This is for all, who like me, have had the privilege of being a bridesmaid.
Thanks so much for all the lovely comments and reblogs on Chapter One - I am beyond flattered and grateful for all those who took the time to read my story.
Felicity stepped off the train in Star City, she thought how crazy it
was that she never bothered to visit. It really was only a couple hours
by train but she had not been back since her high school graduation.
she pulled her weekend bag into the train station terminal she expected
to be greeted by a very excited Sara. She looked around. Alas, no Sara.
Felicity looked. She was surprised to see the one and only Oliver Queen walking toward her. Panic set in. “I can do this.”
The first time I read these stories, I considered the second
one to be the most boring. I now regret that, because it occurs to me that its
small scale and seemingly low stakes is rather the point. This isn’t about national politics, it’s about local
politics, not about the fate of a nation, but the fate of a stream and the
farmlands around it. It’s about ordinary people; even the nobility in this are
a landed knight and a minor lady. Rereading it, this is incredibly good in its
characterization and slow buildup to its bittersweet conclusion.
It also helps that since then I’ve read A Dance with Dragons and A
World of ice and Fire, which makes the events of this story feel a lot more
relevant. It both introduces a character who actually shows up in the main
books, and has the background for two other characters, and if you thought I
was done talking about Jaime and Brienne because I was reading a book that
takes place generations before they were born, think again!
The Sworn Sword
One of the benefits of reading these novellas right before aDwD’s release was that when the
three-eyed crow was revealed in the cave beneath, I recognized who he was
pretty much immediately. Very old, named Brynden, one red eye, the other
missing – three is a pretty big drop from “a thousand and one,” but then
again Melisandre’s vision of him gave him a thousand back. Brynden
Rivers is introduced in the novellas before he shows up in the main series.
Martin has sworn you don’t need to read the Dunk and Egg stories to
follow the plot of the series, but here’s a case where it helps – although
maybe we’ll be getting flashbacks in Bran’s upcoming arc to fill in for the
rest of you.
In the meantime, let me give the history behind him and the
other bastards of Aegon IV. Known as Aegon the Unworthy, this truly dreadful
king decided to legitimate all of his bastards at his death because there were
rumors that his son Daeron by his sister-wife Naerys was actually the son of
his brother Aemon the Dragonknight, who did love his mistreated sister, though
whether romantically as in later songs isn’t clear (I headcanon that Jaime
loved those stories as a kid). The most prominent of these bastards was his son
by his cousin Daena Targaryen, Baelor the Blessed’s wife who he never slept
with because chastity. This was Daemon Blackfyre, who claimed the Iron Throne
for himself after his father’s passing, leading to a civil war
called the First Blackfyre Rebellion.
Brynden Rivers, known as the Bloodraven, was the son of Aegon
and Melissa Blackwood, who also shows up in A
Dance with Dragons as the namesake of a set of mountains that Jaime and
Hoster discuss. The Blackwoods live at Raventree Hall, which has an enormous
weirwood tree where hundreds of ravens have gathered every dusk for a thousand
years. Bloodraven had a reputation as a “sorcerer,” and we know for
certain is he was a greenseer, and the stories of him being able to communicate
with animals and take their shape were definitely true. In the main series, he
seems to be able to skinchange into entire flocks of crows and ravens. While Bloodraven is only
mentioned in this story, he will be a major character in the final novella, and
I’ll be looking for how his powers manifest there.
For this story, though, the kings and queens are just a
background. About two years after The Hedge
Knight, Dunk and Egg have been traveling the country, visiting Storm’s
End, Dorne, and Oldtown. Shortly after the tourney, an epidemic called the
Great Spring Sickness swept the country, trimming the Targaryen tree and taking
out King Daeron and his next set of heirs. King Aerys is now
on the throne, who appointed
Bloodraven as his Hand. As summer moved in, a drought hit the country that
people blame on their supposedly sorcerous new Hand, and the smallfolk
everywhere are suffering.
Dunk has sworn his sword to Ser Eustace, a landed knight in the Reach whose sons
died in the Blackfyre Rebellion, and when he discovers that the old man’s
neighbor, Lady Rohanne Webber, has dammed up the nearby stream and is blocking the
water to Eustace’s land, a local skirmish seems imminent. Dunk is sent to treat
with Rohanne, known as the “Red Widow” because she’s lost four husbands, only
to discover that all is not as Ser Eustace would have him believe. Also, the Red
Widow is only twenty-five and smoking hot and she and Dunk fall in love pretty
One of the recurring plot points of the novellas is Dunk’s
inability to get laid. Oh sure, he could afford it if he wanted to go that
route, but he’s a romantic and wants a woman who actually wants him. He fell
for Tanselle in the last story and she’s the reason they went to Dorne, but he
never managed to find her. He and Rohanne have enormous sparkage, and she tells
him “If you were better born, I’d marry you.” Whenever he sees her freckled
face, he thinks “I’ll bet she’s freckled all over,” and she returns the
compliment near the end of the novella by saying, “You have large feet (…)
Large hands as well. I think you must be large all over,” which is one of the
best dick innuendos I have ever read. But they can’t be together because of
their different social class, and instead in the end she winds up marrying Ser
Eustace to make a peace and keep her lands.
Now, at some point, Duncan obviously got over this problem,
since he’s Brienne’s ancestor (something that Martin did finally
confirm earlier this year in an interview). But just exactly how he’s related to her is still a
question. A World of Ice and Fire
does not help, as it doesn’t mention any of this children, and makes things
more confusing with a reference that the House of Tarth has ties “recently to
House Targaryen,” in spite of no such connections showing up in the family tree
in the back of the book. A lot of Targaryen girls, however, are neglected in
the family tree, and I suppose it’s possible that Dunk wound up with one of
Aegon’s sisters – maybe even his older sister Daella who Egg mentions that he’s supposed to marry. And by “wind up,” I don’t mean marry, because
his birth is too low, but hey, love affairs happen, and a female Targaryen
bastard might be just about the correct rank to marry a lord of Tarth.
A World of Ice and
Fire is much clearer about what happened to Lady Rohanne Webber
after this story ends. Septon Sefton mentions that he thinks
the only man she might want to marry
is Gerold Lannister, who she has corresponded with in letters, but Rohanne
dismisses the idea that he’d want to marry a minor lady. Well, it turns out,
she was wrong; after Ser Eustace dies he became her sixth husband,
and this time it lasts. They have four sons, two of whom are Tytos and Jason
Lannister, who are the parents of, respectively, Tywin and Joanna Lannister,
and yes, Dunk is the great-grandfather of Brienne, and Rohanne is the
great-grandmother of Jaime.
Whether this was planned all along (this
story was published in 2004, only about a year before A Feast for Crows, plus the Gerold
references is already here) or decided retroactively, what’s clear
is that at some point Martin went, “Hey, you know what would be a great idea?
Having Jaime and Brienne’s great-grandparents meet and fall in love and make out.”
And once you’ve realized who their descendants are, suddenly
everything gets so much shippier. Rohanne tries to give Dunk a horse to match
him just like Jaime did, plus all their snarky banter and Rohanne’s tsundere-esque insults, and of course
“You just need to find something true to say about her. That’s
what my brother Daeron does. Even ugly old whores can have nice hair or
well-shaped ears, he says.”
“Well-shaped ears?” Dunk’s doubts were growing.
“Or pretty eyes. Tell her that her gown brings out the color
of her eyes.” (…)
My lady, that gown
brings out the color of your eye. Dunk had heard knights and lordlings
mouth such gallantries at other ladies. [p 167]
“The green becomes you well, m’lady,” he said. “It brings
out the color of your eyes.” [p 228]
Which of course bear a great deal of resemblance to another moment from A Clash of Kings:
The wench looked as ugly and awkward as ever, he decided
when Tyrell left them. Someone had dressed her in women’s clothes again, but
this dress fit much better than that hideous pink rag the goat had made her
wear. “Blue is a good color on you, my lady,” Jaime observed. “It goes well with
your eyes.” She does have astonishing
Which means my interpretation of that scene now goes.
Jaime (thinking): Last time I saw Brienne her “big blue eyes
were full of hurt,” so I need to give her a compliment to remind her I’m on her
[Brienne walks in]
Jaime (thinking): Ugh, she’s still not good looking, um,
what do I do…oh, I know, generic courtly compliment number 13!
Jaime (out loud): Blue is a good color on you, my lady. It
goes well with your eyes.
Jaime (thinking): Oh crap I picked the one
physical part of her I actually find attractive, I should have gone with her
Shipping aside, the main point of this novella is that the
petty battles between nobles (which Dunk straight-up calls “pissing matches” to
Rohanne) can have a serious effect on commoners. It also features Dunk
imparting some important lessons to young Egg. The prince is indignant at the
thought of having to serve smallfolk, but Duncan sets him straight on treating
peasants with respect:
“A man has his pride, no matter how lowborn he may be. You
would seem just as lost and stupid in their villages. And if you doubt that, go
hoe a row and shear a sheep, and tell me the names of all the weeds and
wildflowers in Wat’s Wood.”
Later, when Egg gives formulaic arguments about how Daemon
Blackfyre could never have made a good king because “bastards are born for
betrayal,” Dunk lays down some truth bombs about his own likely parentage that render the boy silent. This all must have stuck, as Aegon was dismissed as “half a
peasant” by his detractors and he enacted reforms to reduce the power of nobles
and grant rights to the smallfolk, which proved deeply controversial during his
lifetime and were later reversed (I’m also rereading a little of A World of Ice and Fire right now, I
haven’t decided yet if I will blog on it or just move on already).
Dunk himself opens this novella thinking of himself as a
knight. Which he is. Arlan may not have knighted him (he equivocates when asked
point blank if that happened), but knighthood isn’t about saying fancy vows or
being anointed with oil. Martin’s made that very clear through Sansa’s
storyline, as she considers Sandor Clegane a better “knight” than the men with
Sers in from of their names that do nothing to protect her, as well as with
Brienne, a truer knight than most who can’t be knighted because of her gender.
A few final notes:
I like to observe how the books have more range on
religiosity than the show did, so I liked the description of Duncan’s piety: “He
went to sept sometimes, and prayed to the Warrior to lend strength to his arms, but otherwise
let the Seven be.” Because religious people come in the extremely casual
variety as well.
I also loved how Duncan gives family names to the peasants
who sign up for Ser Eustace’s little army, as a way of telling them apart. Apparently
smallfolk don’t have family names at all, which I ought to have already noticed
from the series itself, but it was never drawn attention to. It reminds me of
how peasants in feudal Japan were forbidden to have surnames, something which
only changed after the Meiji restoration. Hence why there are so very many
Japanese surnames (over 100,000) relative to China or Korea, and why so many of
them are derived from rural features like “mountain rice-paddy” (Yamada) or “within
rice paddies” (Tanaka) or “original rice paddy” (Honda).
Your blog is amazing and I thought you'd be one of the better people to ask for book recommendations when it comes to fantasy, but do you have any recs specifically for epic fantasy or high fantasy? Swords and magic are my weaknesses 😅
Hmm let’s see…
For adult epic fantasy:
Skullsworn by Brian Staveley
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark
Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker
For YA epic fantasy:
Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes
Air Awakens by Elise Kova
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff (borderline adult based on content)
Roar by Cora Carmack
My main blog is @novelknight and I run a book review blog so you can certainly find more recs over there! But those are a few I can think of off the top of my head ^_^ Happy Reading!
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Are they pushing the Ray thing too fast to get to the Olicity stuff, because they are having her moving on and rationally I get she wants to be happy, but it seems a bit quick, I want a foundation to a relationship, more than just intelligence and mutual attraction. Also seems to me that the final mid season cliff will be sex with raylicity, after the spoiled stephen, emily acting they're chops off, and oliver beaten by Ra's. No hope for Oliver right now it seems.
11-dino said: Did you see the new promo for Arrow? Besides that it was awesome there was a Raylicity kiss in there or not? I do like Ray (i tried not to but he does treat her right and what she deserves) never thought it would happen that fast we haven’t really seen any feelings between than yet but I take it this is a first season half trailer so it might not happen in the next few episodes. And when i am on it. Stumbled6on your plot causw of the defense of felicity smoak piece and reread a lot on your poot
Time to combo these bad boys.
Yes, I saw the promo. The next four episodes look awesome! Can I be honest…I completely forgot Ted Grant is Wildcat. He’s showing Laurel his “lair” and I all….”OH!!! Oh yeah!!!” hehehe. The mind is a strange thing.
Anywho, no I don’t think they are pushing Raylcity too fast. Why? Because it’s Arrow. Arrow slices through plot like a shredding machine. Zip zip zip.
First of all….everyone BREATHE!!!! I told you it was going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Ray Palmer is the worse. We knew this was going to happen.
Have they been pushing romance with Raylicity? Eh, not really. I think Felicity connected with Ray on an intellectual level, she views him as a coworker. Every time he turns around she’s crying so he’s tried to be kind to her.
But now is the time they are cranking up the heat. My guess is that “work” date leads to actual sparkage and maybe a kiss. There’s a great line from Shawshank Redemption “Get busy living. Or get busy dying.”
This is Felicity LIVING. Yes, Oliver is trying to figure out a way to be both Oliver & The Arrow. Yes, the seeds have been planted but he’s MILES away from being anywhere near ready. He’s still very much focused on The Arrow. He loves Felicity and the reconnect they had in 3x05 is important but in all reality…NOTHING has changed. He was telling her again that he loved her but he wasn’t offering to BE with her. For Felicity, just loving her isn’t enough. She wants more from him. She deserves more from him.
So it’s time to get busy living. Also…she is completely heartbroken do not let her fool you for one damn second. The rapid succession of dates, the kissing…this is serious REBOUND. But rebound can turn into a legitimate romance. It didn’t with Barry but it will with Ray.
For Oliver, he’s still making the choice to get busy living or get busy dying. He’s leaning towards living and that’s an important step but he’s still far behind where Felicity is at. They’ve got a gulf the size of the ocean between them.
You know why I chuckled at the people who say “this story line is so cliche”, “love triangles are so stupid” “or “this is so predictable"…because the storyline IS WORKING. Like I knew it would. Was it predictable that Raylicity would happen so soon? No. We’re all in a twitter over the PROMO of Felicity kissing Ray. The point of this story line is to evoke emotion from the audience. And it is working.
Without Ray Palmer…it could take Oliver YEARS to finally decide to get busy living and that’s not fair to Felicity. Ray Palmer puts more of a clock on our boy and you know what? It’s necessary. Oliver needs a good swift kick in the ass.
Never, for one second, forget the point of Ray Palmer’s existence. He is another option for Felicity. A life outside of Oliver Queen. So she can DECIDE that the life she wants…is the one she has with Oliver Queen. But she can’t know that for sure until she explores one without him. Or rather…she’s being FORCED to explore one without him.
And for Oliver…Ray Palmer is the mirror that will force Oliver to take a look at his own life and his choices. Yes, he let Felicity go…but he hasn’t truly lost her yet. Is he prepared to do that? Is that the cost of life as The Arrow? Or will he decide to get busy living and accept BOTH sides of himself?
Like Slade was, Ray Palmer is just another catalyst to drive these two apart so they can find their way back to one another. They NEED a catalyst or nothing will change. They will forever be in a state of limbo. That’s not fair to either one of them.
Ray Palmer is an obstacle. Difficult to overcome? Yes. But not impossible.
There seem to be three main fandom theories about Violet:
1. She’s evil. She’s Red Room and she’s there to infiltrate the SSR. (Which most people claim would be too similar to season 1. But she is blond and she did eat the man’s bearclaw.)
2. She’s doomed, going to die. (Which no one likes)
3. She’s a perfectly normal person who will observe all the peggysous sparkage and step aside. (Which honestly seems low on the drama for a Marvel program)
Personally, I’m still rooting for option 4, which hasn’t gotten too much discussion:
Right now she is just a normal person, but she goes dark after this. It’s just the most relatable to me? I mean, if I lost out on this:
I’d be inconsolable.
It’s still problematic (reinforcing the whole women needing a man thing) but it does give her agency, and if when Peggysous goes canon, it could set up a very interesting conflict for season 3, upsetting the balance of the Peggysous Detective WonderDuo™ as they deal with the fallout of their choices. Mmm, delicious angst.
I dunno, it’s sorta soapy, but I also think it would be fun.