A Storm of Swords

Summary

Chapters 20-24

Summary Chapters 20-24

Many of the chapters also serve as a chance for the reader to learn new information about Westeros and Essos and to dive more into the fantasy aspect of the series. For the first time, we read descriptions of Slaver’s Bay and hear the story of the Knight of the Laughing Tree. We also hear Ygritte's story of the wildling who dug beneath the Wall, and Melisandre explains to Davos about her god. Since the focal character of the chapter is as unfamiliar with the region or history as the reader, the reader experiences their same feeling of discovery. In Slaver's Bay, Daenerys experiences a completely unfamiliar land and culture, and she learns about the brutal and shocking training the Unsullied undergo. In Bran's case, the story of the Knight of the Laughing Tree is mysterious and fantastical. Melisandre's description of her god recalls mythology as much as theology, and Ygritte's tale sounds like folklore. These stories create an sense of foreignness in A Storm of Swords that adds to the mythical atmosphere of the novel, and that feeling of experiencing something so foreign and unfamiliar is one of the chief pleasures of fantasy.

As in other passages, the novel uses architecture to both house and entrap characters. Our first encounter with actual slaves occurs in a tightly regulated city, where Unsullied live in bondage and their masters roam free. Davos has a similar experience in the unlit cell of Melisandre’s dungeon, where he has no rights, no comforts, and an uncertain future. Like the many castles and forts in Westeros, the Wall means different things to different people. For Bran, the Wall is a destination and place of safety. To Jon, the Wall has always meant a home and a defense against barbarians, but now he begins to perceive the Wall from the outside, as a barrier from familiar life. Jon starts to recognize the negative impact the Wall has had on the wildlings’ lives. For Arya, Acorn Hall is a comfortable respite from the weary road, but she also feels confined. Acorn Hall offers solace, but it is clearly not home.