Chapter 63 (Danaerys V): It looks like Dany's time in Qarth is coming to an end. As magic is returning to the world, the warlocks of the city are growing stronger. And Dany has burned down their house. So she's made some powerful enemies. The magic users want her dead, a couple of the merchant guilds want her dead, and the Thirteen would like her dead but haven't acted upon their wishes due to Xaro's efforts. She isn't on good terms with him anymore either. She turns down his marriage offer, and he finally gets it into his head that she isn't interested in him. Geez, it's only taken the entire book. She isn't willing to sell him a dragon, either. So he tells her that her time in his house is done, and she has to take her people and go. For most of her time in this book, she has been on the virge of becoming something she hated about Viserys, a beggar monarch. And she's been well aware of it at times, unlike her brother, but hasn't had a way of of her predicament. Now she has to find a ship that can take her dragons and her people out of Qarth. Easier said than done. Some won't take the dragons, some won't take the Dothraki, some want too much money, and so on. Ser Jorah sees a couple of men following them. Some Qartheen tries to kill her with a magic scarab that disguises itself as a piece of jewelry. But what happens? Those suspicious people following her around the docks? They bust in and save her! Just when we thought we couldn't trust them (although in this series, don't trust anyone). They say they've been sent by Illyrio. And one of them is, by appearance and speech, from Westeros, and calls himself Arstan. Wait a sec... Barristan? I never had any specific theory as to where he disappeared to, but I had been assuming that wherever he was, it was somewhere in Westeros. Now he turns up all the way in Qarth. One thing is, has Jorah been in contact with Illyrio all this time, letting him know they were in Qarth, or has word of the Mother of Dragons spread all the way to Pentos? Either way, that's where Dany is going. Back to where she began Book One.
Chapter 64 (Arya X): Arya is getting cooler and cooler. At first it seemed great to have Roose Bolton in charge of Harrenhal, and compared to the Lannisters it certainly was great. But now Roose is starting to show his true colors. This is Ramsay's father, after all. Like son, like father. And really, what could you expect from a house that chooses a man with his skin cut off for its sigil? The Brave Companions are despicable, when tasked with rooting out Lannister sympathizers, they just find their former helpers and kill them. The Freys are convinced that Robb should end his rebellion and surrender to Tywin. Well, Robb's situation does look grim. Then she finds out that Roose will be leaving soon, and putting Vargo in charge of the castle. She doesn't like that one bit, and contrives to make an escape for Riverrun after she looks at a map. She gathers Gendry and Hot Pie, having to tell a couple of lies to convince them to come along. She kills a guard, and they make their way through a gate. She didn't take the map with her; I hope they don't get lost. Filming a minor slitting a man's throat should be interesting.
Chapter 65 (Sansa VIII): This chapter made me think of the music from the medal ceremony at the end of A New Hope. All the mighty lords and ladies come to the throne room to mark the saving of King's Landing. It's a grand and splendiferous occasion, and everyone goes out of their way to look grand and splendiferous. Tywin makes the best entrance, riding in on his horse (indoors, mind you) in shiny and gaudy armor, with his horse being dressed in shiny and gaudy armor. Tywin's horse isn't as pleased with Joff, or at least isn't willing to hide its feelings. The horse leaves a grand and splendiferous pile of its feelings right at the foot of the throne. I so hope that part makes it into the TV show. Tywin is confirmed as Hand of the King (never mind that he was really Hand all along, Tyrion was just interim Hand). The Tyrells get nicely rewarded, with a spot on the council, Loras joining the Kingsguard (where he doesn't have to marry or show any interest in women), and Margaery is betrothed to Joff... thus freeing Sansa up. For which Sansa is overjoyed, but can't show it. Other rewards get dished out. Petyr gets confirmed as the new liege lord of the riverlands and given Harrenhal, thus making it official what Tyrion promised him. Then they have to anoint six hundred men as knights, one by one. That takes a long while. Then the prisoners come in, and get dispensed with depending on how well they accept Joff now. Joff embarrasses himself by cutting an arm on that godawful throne. (Badass to look at, but godawful to sit in. You think Robert would have had it replaced with something more comfortable once he got rid of the Targaryens.) His reaction is telling; it says to me that he may be a king, legitimately or not, but he's still an immature little boy of thirteen. After all is said and done, Sansa sees Dontos, who tells her that she isn't out of the woods yet. She still has value as a hostage, and Joff may still take her to bed if he wants, he just won't be wed to her. So things are still bad for her. But he gives her a nice-looking amethyst hairnet to wear to Joff's wedding, and says that will be the night she makes her escape. I sure hope so. I wouldn't be surprised if Varys or Littlefinger (or both) are onto Dontos and have plans in motion to stop her from getting away.
Chapter 66 (Theon VI): Well, I knew sooner or later Theon's folly would come back to haunt him, and it does. Winterfell is surrounded by Ser Rodrik's forces, and only seventeen men are willing to stand and fight with Theon. All of the men Asha left him choose to desert. Wise men. Maester Luwin tries to get Theon to surrender, but to no avail. Theon tries using Rodrik's daughter as a hostage, but Rodrik sounds like he is willing to attack anyway. He feels honor-bound to take back the castle; the othas he swore to House Stark take priority. Luwin suggests he would be allowed to take the black and join the Night's Watch if he surrenders, and Theon gives the idea serious consideration. He seems to be leaning toward taking the black when someone else leads a force against Rodrik's. And it's... Reek? Reek, who Rodrik and the others took to be friends, but pay for it with their lives. The Boltons are here, and they beat the Stark forces easily despite being outnumbered. And then Reek isn't Reek, he's actually Ramsay, who switched places (and clothes) with the real Reek, who then got killed as Ramsay. Ramsay hasn't actually been in that many scenes, but he has become a really effective villian. Except since Ramsay has not only brought two or three times the number of men he promised, but took the victory, he feels entitled to change the terms of the deal. When he left he asked for Palla the kennel girl, now suddenly that's not good enough for him. He acts all slighted at being offered a kennel girl (ummm, dude? You specifically asked for her, you even said you had quite the fancy for Palla) and demands Kyra instead. Now Kyra was taken by Theon for himself as soon as he took Winterfell, so naturally he doesn't react well. When Theon objects, Ramsay just whacks him with his fist still in armor, knocks him cold, and does significant damage to his face. Theon wakes up to the Bolton army rampaging the whole place. Ramsay calls for the Walders to be spared (interesting, since there were a few Freys prominently with Roose at Harenhal) and everything else burned. The we get a "The last thing Theon Greyjoy saw" sentence. So Theon's survival into Book Three is ambiguous. Kind of like Jamie's survival. Or Arya's survival after Book One, for that matter. GRRM seems to enjoy leaving us hanging from book to book as to whether someone just got killed.