Chapter 50 (Theon IV): So Theon wakes up in the middle of the night, bu isn't sure why. It takes him a few minutes to realize that he can't hear the direwolves. It's not a noise that woke him, it's the lack of one. He rouses the castle and finds out that the wolves are gone, and so are Bran, Rickon, the Reeds, Hodor, and Osha. Theon is especially mad about Osha, since she swore allegiance. Here we learn about Winterfell's septon being murdered, as a sacrifice to the Drowned God. Theon takes a bunch of people, including Reek, Maester Luwin and the Walders, out into the woods to track the trail, but has no luck. He's totally lost them. Lost things are always in the last place you look. Reek has been carrying a sack for some weird reason all through the chapter, now he shows Theon what's in the sack while suggesting they're hiding at some mill. Bran's direwolf brooch, but nothing else we get to see. I'm a bit lost here. What could possibly be in the sack that connects the boys to the mill?
Chapter 51 (Jon VI): Qhorin, Jon, and the others come upon three wildlings guarding a ledge looking down upon their path. They need to get past them to keep going. So Jon and the best climber, Stonesnake, go up and ambush the wildlings from behind. The first two die after a short fight, but the third one yields and turns out to be a woman. Not a bad-looking one by the description. I'm interested to see how she is played in the TV series, because I have a feeling this chapter isn't the last we see of her. The other's in Jon's party aren't willing to take her as a captive, though. It means splitting the food, and having to keep an eye on her.So Jon has to choose between killing her, and letting her go. He lets her go, after she tells him a story of Winterfell's past. How true this story is, I'm not sure. It might just be legend, but there is more likely some grain of fact, however distorted through the centuries. And the information imparted is somehow going to pop back up again. As will the woman Ygritte.
Chapter 52 (Sansa IV): Sansa is apprehensive. In her situation, I'd be apprehensive too! Battle is coming to King's Landing. Pretty much anyone in the city can figure it out. Tyrion has ordered the burning to the ground of everything outside the city walls, depriving Stannis of anything he may use to get some advantage. Stannis's advance parties are trading shots with the defenders. Dontos tells her a ship is on the way to take her out of the city. Later that night, Sansa has a horrible nightmare about being caught in the riot again, except in the dream she takes a worse beating than in real life. Then she wakes up to find herself and the bed all bloody. It takes her a couple of minutes to realize what's happened: she's become a woman. She doesn't take it that well, trying to burn her sleep clothes, sheets, and even the bed itself, just to cover up the signs of her first period. Since this makes her officially eligible to sleep with Joff, I think it's understandable. Sleeping with Joff is something worth putting off as long as she can. Even though I'm a guy, I bet having a period hit during your sleep, in medieval times, must not have been a pleasant experience. They wouldn't have what it takes to get the stuff clean. (And even in modern times, blood is a really hard stain.) Nor would their feminine products be as good. The servants manage to get her under control, cleaned, dressed, and bundled off to Cersei for breakfast. The Queen gives her assorted unpleasant advice about womanhood. And she also mentions that none of her kids "with Robert" took well to being held by him. (Gee, you think they knew at that age instinctively that he wasn't their father?) This whole chapter just serves as another part of Sansa's wake-up call that life isn't all happiness and songs. One thing I wonder here is, how Sansa's period will be handled for the TV series. Bear with me here: Sansa in the books is about thirteen at the point of this scene. But for the TV series (which I haven't seen yet), I've gathered that GRRM moved all the kids' ages up by about three years or so, and has indicated that these are the ages that he should have written the kids at all along. That would make the TV Sansa about sixteen at this point in the story. Which means that she will be considerably older than average for her first period. Old enough, in fact, that it would strain believability. (Wikipedia seems to indicate that having it happen this late is pretty rare.) They could always change it so that this isn't her first one, but that takes away from the scene. If this has been going on for a while for Sansa now, she shouldn't be so distressed over it. She would have been legally beddable all along, with one more period doing nothing to change the situation, and she would be well aware of how to handle a period by then. Or they could just lop out the scene altogether. But this is HBO, would they really pass up a chance to be graphic about anything sexual? Sounds like the producers could be between a rock and a hard place.