This is where the train pulls into the station and I switch books (and series).
Chapter 67 (Tyrion XV): Okay, so Tyrion isn't dead, but he is heavily wounded. He has some very odd dreams, no doubt brought on by the poppy milk they're filling him with. Assorted people come to see him while he floats in and out of consciousness, but he assumes it's a dream. Tywin shouldn't be there, he thinks, nor should Petyr. But it was real, right? So He finally wakes up and asserts control enough to stop some Maester he doesn't know from giving him more poppy stuff. When his bandages come off, he gets a look at his face, and it's not a good picture. Much of his nose is gone, he has a broken rib, arrow damage to his shoulder area, and a big diagonal scar across his face. The makeup people should have a challenging time with Peter Dinklage for this scene. I mean, you can make someone's nose bigger and uglier with prosthetics, but a prosthetic adds material to your face, it doesn't subtract from it. How can you take away a nose with makeup without making it look like you're piling stuff on? Maybe they will just do the scar. It would be mighty expensive to CGI away his nose every scene he is in from then on! He has the maester bring him Pod, who fills him in on what happened with the battle and the aftermath. Tyrion has trouble buying into Renly's presence at the battle (well, duh, Renly is dead). He can't be taken back to his old chambers; Tywin is using them now that he's taken up the Hand position. Bronn has been knighted; now that he has gotten some official recognition I wonder how well Tyrion can rely on him. I also wonder what part Tyrion can still play in King's Landing. Tywin is easily capable of pulling off the role of Hand, does he need Tyrion for anything? Cersei would be glad to get him out of the way. She did try to have him killed in the battle, after all! Add to that the fact that Tywin has never really accepted Tyrion as a member of the family. He set his son up to be killed in battle during the first book, and part of Tywin still blames Tyrion for Joanna Lannister's death. Is Tywin even willing to keep Tyrion around as part of the inner circle? So I think Tyrion could become something of an outsider from the circles of power after this.
Chapter 68 (Jon VIII): So it's down to just Jon and Halfhand up north, out of the five that started this little party along the Pass. The others they went with are all dead. The eagle that's been watching them seems rather angry. Qhorin gives Jon some orders that took me by surprise. If they are captured, Jon must yield and go over to the enemy as a mole. A bunch of wildlings catch them, including Ygritte. Remember Ygritte, the wildling that Jon allowed to go free? I suspected at the time that she'd be back, and she is. She explains the eagle is a warg, inhabited (permanently, now) by the wildling Jon killed in the same chapter where he met Yrgitte. Now wonder the eagle is pissed. Being a human trapped in an eagle's body, with no human body to go back to would make me mad too. Jon yields, and the wildlings demand he prove his new loyalty by fighting Qhorin to the death. Qhorin doesn't show any sign from the text that he is fighting to lose on purpose. Halfhand gives it his full effort, but Jon has a brief opening. Maybe Qhorin gave him that split second to make the killing blow deliberately, I don't know. But Jon manages to kill Qhorin Halfhand (with Ghost's help) and after a little more argument and Yrgitte making a case in his favor, the wildlings spare him and head off to join Mance Rayder... who is marching on the Wall even then. So in Book Three, the wildlings are going to invade the North of Westeros? I wonder if Jon will run into Bran or Rickon, or maybe some of the Greyjoy forces?
Chapter 69 (Bran VII): Okay, so Bran's third eye is full open now and he can go into Summer's mind whenever he wants. Bran, Rickon, Hodor, Osha, and the Reeds have been hiding in the Stark crypt all this time? Oh yeah, remember the bit in the story Ygritte told Jon about hiding in the Stark crypt? Foreshadowing, anyone? Shaggy and Summer have been checking out Winterfell. The castle is in ruins, and bodies are all over the place. Getting the lid off the crypt takes a bit of work, and it's really hard even for Hodor. Eventually, they come out, and Osha figures out that Theon isn't responsible for the burning of Winterfell. Too many Greyjoy corpses. The body of a man wearing the Bolton sigil makes it plain who did this. They go to check out the godswood and come across Maester Luwin, who is still alive but doesn't have much left in him. Deep down, he knew the bodies Theon had presented weren't Bran and Rickon. It only hits me now, as I type this, that only a healer would notice how healthy and muscular the legs are on the supposed corpse of a boy who has been paralyzed below the waist. Luwin was the only one not involved in the switch who saw the ruse, but he was also the only person even capable of seeing it. Osha and the Reeds decide to split up at Luwin's insistence, her taking Rickon, and the Reeds taking Bran and Hodor. Well, I'm assuming Bran is going to remain a POV character, but will we know what happens with Rickon through a new POV? Osha, perhaps? Or will what's up with RIckon and Osha be an ongoing mystery, like with Barristan through most of this book? Osha declares her intent to follow the kingsroad for a while (presumably not all the way to King's Landing), and Jojen says they will go north. So it does seem like they could encounter Mance's army, and have a reunion with Jon. I'll leave you with the last lines, which I just loved. As Bran looks back on Winterfell, possibly for the last time in his life, he reflects on the ruins of a once-great castle.
It was not dead, just broken. Like me, he thought. I'm not dead either.
Coming up sometime in the next few days... Lord of Chaos.