Thursday, October 26, 2017

Telling yourselves, AFFC

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As PoorQuentyn noted, characters in "A Song of Ice and Fire" are often marked by Martin to be wrong when they're "telling themselves" things. So I decided to make a search through the text and record all instances where they're doing this to see if the theory holds up, continuing with "A Feast for Crows". 

Perhaps he would do better to remain on this side of the narrow sea. He  could buy a donkey with the coin he'd saved, and he and Rosey could take  turns riding it as they wandered Westeros. Ebrose might not think him  worthy of the silver, but Pate knew how to set a bone and leech a fever.  The smallfolk would be grateful for his help. If he could learn to cut  hair and shave beards, he might even be a barber. That would be enough,  he told himself, so long as I had Rosey. Rosey was all that he wanted in the world.   
Pate turned and crossed the terrace. His heels rang against the  weathered planks of the old bridge. By the time he reached the other  side, the eastern sky was turning pink. The world is wide, he told himself.  If I bought that donkey, I could still wander the roads and byways of  the Seven Kingdoms, leeching the smallfolk and picking nits out of their hair. 
Poor Pate. You can see that guy has no clue of what he is getting into, either regarding his obvious pipe dream with Rosy or his meddling with a Faceless Man and the secrets of the Citadel.
Mace Tyrell, Lord of Highgarden and Warden of the South, was Leo's  cousin. And Oldtown's Old Man, Lord Leyton of the Hightower, who  numbered "Protector of the Citadel" amongst his many titles, was a sworn  bannerman of House Tyrell. Let it go, Pate told himself. He says these things just to wound me.   
Here we have the phrase in the familiar manner of a person trying to force down an urge by sheer willpower.
"No." It's done, Pate told himself. Go. Run back to the  Quill and Tankard, wake Rosey with a kiss, and tell her she belongs to  you. Yet still he lingered. "Show me your face."   
Here we have the final moment, the last mistake. Would Pate have survived, hadn't he needed to tell himself to do the smart thing for once? Impossible to say.
Cersei I
But that was a suspicion she dare not speak aloud. "Allow me a moment to  dress. Ser Osmund, you shall accompany me to the Tower of the Hand. Ser  Boros, roust the gaolers and make certain the dwarf is still in his  cell." She would not say his name. He would never have found the courage  to lift a hand against Father, she told herself, but she had to be certain.   
This could not be his work. Stannis, she told herself, Stannis was behind it. He still has adherents in the city. Him, or the Tyrells . . .   
Tommen is well guarded, she told herself. But Lord Tywin had been well guarded too.   
Hah! In what can only be described as an emerging pattern, already in her first POV chapter, Cersei is lying to herself, denying the reality of the world and people around her.
Two more red-cloaked guardsmen stood atop the steps. Red Lester muttered  a condolence as she passed. The queen's breath was coming fast and  short, and she could feel her heart fluttering in her chest. The steps,  she told herself, this cursed tower has too many steps. She had half a mind to tear it down.   
Cersei's beginning alcoholism is already beginning to show, as she's no longer able to climb the steps. At the end of the book, she will also have gained some weight. Also note the foreshadowing of her later burning of the tower that will freak Jaime out and serve to push them further apart.
She wanted to draw his face to hers for a kiss. Later, she told herself,  later he will come to me, for comfort. "We are his heirs, Jaime," she  whispered. "It will be up to us to finish his work. You must take  Father's place as Hand. You see that now, surely. Tommen will need you .  . ."   
 Speaking of the rift, here it appears already. Cersei is not thinking this through, bringing his rejection right in the open and immediately lashing back at him for it. All of the negative traits that will make her arc such a rapid descent into the abyss are there from the beginning.

The Prophet
"This is my hall, Damphair. It is not for you to say who must go and who remains. The maester stays." The man lives too far from the sea, Aeron told himself. "Then I shall go," he told  Goodbrother. Dry rushes rustled underneath the cracked soles of his  bare black feet as he turned and stalked away. It seemed he had ridden a  long way for naught. Aeron was almost at the door when the maester cleared his throat, and said, "Euron Crow's Eye sits the Seastone Chair."
Now isn't that in interesting one. Never caught it up before. It makes little sense that Aeron needs to "tell himself" that his religious zealotry is superior to the Goodbrother reliance on science, so why is it here? It will become clear in his second chapter, so see you again there!

Brienne I
This is the shortest road to Duskendale, Brienne told herself. If Sansa came this way, someone must have seen her.  
It was at Duskendale that she would find her quarry, she told herself. If she came this way at all.   
Of course it's the shortest way, but Brienne knows how impossible her mission really is and how lacking her rational approach. But she can't admit that to herself, at least not yet.
I will not sleep, she told herself, bone weary though she was. She had never slept easily in the presence of men.  
What a damning indictment this is, right? She needs to force herself to stay awake because every goddamn male she encounters is not only a possible, but likely rapist.

Arya I
The old gods are dead, she told herself, with Mother and Father and Robb and Bran and Rickon, all dead. 
Oh, sweet summer child, what do you know of gods? But Arya's arc in Feastdance (to essentially fail at the training) is already set up here. Even in her darkest hour, Arya cannot credibly reject her northern heritage. To all you "Arya will become a faceless super assassin" crackpot theorists out there: take note.
He is only a little bigger than King Baelor's statue in King's Landing, she told herself when they were still well off to sea.  
Martin preparing us for how big the Giant really is. Simple but efficient technique.
Salty is a stupid child, she told herself. I am a wolf, and will not be afraid.
You should be afraid, girl. Only idiots aren't afraid. Remember Ned's line from the show? About only being able to be brave when you're afraid?
The scent was unfamiliar, and she put it down to some queer incense, but  as she got deeper into the temple, they seemed to smell of snow and  pine needles and hot stew. Good smells, Arya told herself, and felt a little braver. Brave enough to slip Needle back into its sheath.   
Arya will soon learn what hides beneath these smalls. Aside from that, note how she always resorts to the sword to gain security and compare it to how many times the damn thing actually gave it to her.
Fear cuts deeper than swords, she told herself. "Arya." She whispered the word the first time. The second time she threw it at him. "I am Arya, of House Stark."   
Once again, note how she forces her identity on her. Never ever will she succumb to the ideology of the Faceless Men.

The Captain of the Guards
She shall not pass, he told himself,  and said, "The prince is watching the children at their play. He is  never to be disturbed when he is watching the children at their play."   
Areo Hotah's regard for Arianne is interesting. Usually, when people force themselves into ignoring their emotional bounds to other people in favor of their duty, bad things happen, but so far, Areo Hotah has remained steadfast. His critics would certainly take this as an example of his boringness, but let's wait for "The Winds of Winter" to see where this is going.

Cersei II 
At the Great Sept of Baelor, that magnificence in marble atop Visenya's  Hill, the little knot of mourners were outnumbered by the gold cloaks  that Ser Addam Marbrand had drawn up across the plaza. More will turn  out later, the queen told herself as Ser Meryn Trant  helped her from the litter. Only the highborn and their retinues were to  be admitted to the morning service; there would be another in the  afternoon for the commons, and the evening prayers were open to all.  
We're starting off the great "Tywin Lannister's legacy literally stinks" arc of AFFC. Of course no one will show up for that asshole if they do not absolutely need to.

Samwell I
His eyes were red and raw. I ought not rub them so much, he always told himself  as he rubbed them. 
This is mostly GRRM being cute.
He was beastly tired, but it was hard to stop. One more book, he had told himself,  then I'll stop. One more folio, just one more. One more page, then I'll  go up and rest and get a bite to eat. But there was always another page  after that one, and another after that, and another book waiting  underneath the pile. 
The virtue of Samwell Tarly, summed up in one paragraph.
I should not have brought so many, he told himself as he  brushed the dirt off Colloquo Votar's Jade Compendium, a thick volume of  tales and legends from the east that Maester Aemon had commanded him to  find. 
Everyone who calls Sam weak should take a second look. That boy has tenacity in spades.
Sam did not recall leaving the armory. The next thing he knew he was  stumbling through mud and patches of old snow, toward Maester Aemon's  chambers. I could hide, he told himself. I could hide in the vaults amongst the books. I could live down there with the mouse and sneak up at night to steal food.  
The text makes pretty obvious that Sam is simply lying to himself here. This is the other side of the Tarly coin, the cowardice to which he openly professes. But, and this is important, he wins his fights against it much more often than he loses them.

Brienne II
The farm folk gave her curious glances, but no one spoke to her. It is for me to talk to them, Brienne told herself, but she had always found it hard to speak with strangers.  
Brienne is absolutely prescient about what's expected of her, but she cannot fulfill the representational parts of knighthood. However, she will perform where it matters ("no chance, and no choice".

The Soiled Knight
Better naked than dead, he told himself. I am a Kingsguard still, even uncloaked.  
No one will trouble her, he told himself, and in a fortnight we shall be safely away.   
Exhibit A for characters lying to themselves and trying to tell themselves that in the end, all will be alright, against all better judgement.

Sansa I
When she closed her eyes she could see him in his sky cell, huddled in a  corner away from the cold black sky, crouched beneath a fur with his  woodharp cradled against his chest. I must not pity him, she told herself. He was vain and cruel, and soon he will be dead. 
And here we have the female version of Sam, basically: Sansa has such a good heart that she can't help herself to pity the singer who tried to rape her, molested her and sang while her aunt was about to murder her.
I must not look at it, she told herself, else I'll start to shake as badly as Robert.   
The willpower game.

Samwell II
Going to the Citadel to forge a chain and be a maester, to be of better service to the Watch, he told himself,  but the thought just made him weary. He did not want to be a maester,  with a heavy chain wrapped around his neck, cold against his skin. He  did not want to leave his brothers, the only friends he'd ever had. And  he certainly did not want to face the father who had sent him to the  Wall to die.   
The voyage would be long and rough, no one could deny that, but for the  others at least there would be a happy end. That was Sam's solace. I am  going for them, he told himself, for the Night's Watch, and for the happy ending. The longer he looked at the sea, though, the colder and deeper it appeared.   
Again not a hard one to figure out, as it's right in the text. Samwell has very, very conflicting thoughts here, and it will take the complete book to sort them out. The paragraph basically sums up the arc that he has in AFFC.
If Maester Aemon meant to stay on deck, old and frail as he was, Sam had  no choice but to do the same. He stayed beside the old man for nigh  unto an hour, huddled in his cloak as a soft, steady rain soaked him to  his skin. Aemon hardly seemed to feel it. He sighed and closed his eyes,  and Sam moved closer to him, to shield him from the worst of the wind.  He will ask me to help him to the cabin soon, he told himself.  He must. But he never did, and finally thunder began to rumble in the  distance, off to the east. "We have to get below," Sam said, shivering.  Maester Aemon did not reply. It was only then that Sam realized the old  man had gone to sleep. "Maester," he said, shaking him gently by one  shoulder. "Maester Aemon, wake up."   
Subtle foreshadowing, this is not.
This is a good sound ship, a good sound ship, a good ship, he told himself. It will not sink. I am not afraid.   
That's the willpower that got him to the Wall in the end.
He wanted to scream. He wanted to howl and sob and shake and curl up in a little ball and whimper. He switched the babes, he told himself. He switched the babes to protect the little prince, to keep him away from Lady Melisandre's fires, away from her red god.  
Sam's beating human heart jumps to the foreground here, at the end of the chapter, to finally show us where all the inner turmoil comes from. He knows the price Jon exacted from Gilly now, and so do we. And it's actually to his credit that he can't immediately boil it down to the necessities of the mission, as could Jon. He hasn't killed the boy, and hopefully he never will.

Cersei III
My son is safe, Cersei told herself. No harm can come to him, not here, not now.  
It is a bit difficult to make out if Cersei is lying to herself because of course Tommen is, ultimately, not safe. But in AFFC, he is. So this might also reflect her descent into a fantasy world of her own making where the volonqar is ready to strike. Heck, might be both at the same time.
The first time she had seen him, for half a heartbeat she had almost  thought Rhaegar Targaryen had returned from the ashes. It is his hair,  she told herself. He is not half as comely as Rhaegar was. 
More flashing warning signals. Cersei is putting way too much emphasis on appearances. Try and remember that she spent two-and-a-half books on permanently denegrading Sansa for doing that, and now she's doing it herself, to her obvious downfall. Everything about Aurane Waters shouts out con-man. He's almost the Verschwörungstheoretiker Donald Trump (der sich gerne öffentlich über Behinderte lustig macht), der keinen moralischen Kompass oder irgendwelche Ideale hat of pirates, if Trump actually were smart, young and good-looking.
Cersei thought of all the King's Hands that she had known through the  years: Owen Merryweather, Jon Connington, Qarlton Chelsted, Jon Arryn,  Eddard Stark, her brother Tyrion. And her father, Lord Tywin Lannister,  her father most of all. All of them are burning now, she told herself,  savoring the thought. They are dead and burning, every one, with all  their plots and schemes and betrayals. It is my day now. It is my castle  and my kingdom.   
This is a central passage, reinforcing the theme of AFFC. We will see in ADWD how wrong she is about that. Owen Merryweather's wife is instrumental in her downfall, Connington will launch an offensive that will drive the Lannisters from power, Chelsted's dead, granted, Jon Arryn's legacy continues to define events around Westeros, there are several whole arcs concerned with Eddard's legacy, and of course, Tyrion is on track to become a dragon rider. The only one whose legacy really goes down in flames is Tywin, but Cersei is not grasping that this dooms her as well.

The Drowned Man
The Crow's Eye was never patient, Aeron Damphair told himself.  Mayhaps he will speak first. If so, it would be his undoing. The  captains and the kings had come a long way to this feast and would not  choose the first dish set before them.  
I didn't pick this up on my first or even third read, but watch how carefully GRRM sets up Euron as a great danger! In his first chapter, Aeron told himself that the only problem was the progressive mindset of Goodbrother, but here it's clear that the fear is sitting much, much deeper. Euron is slowly, very slowly, emerging from below the surface. Masterfully done.

Samwell III
Sam wanted to run, but if he did was like to trip over his own swordbelt. Do not touch your sword, he told himself. Even a finger on the hilt might be enough for one or the other of the bravos to take as a challenge.  
Interesting that the sword is framed as the cowardly choice here. Else, it's willpower once again.
Kicking and gasping, he rolled over, bubbles bursting from his nose. Swim, he told himself, swim. The brine stung his eyes when he opened them, blinding him. 

Cersei IV
After he was gone, Cersei summoned Jocelyn to brush her hair out whilst  she slipped off her shoes and stretched like a cat. I was made for this,  she told herself
Oh gods no, Cersei, you really aren't.

Brienne IV
It may be that I will need to kill him, she told herself one night as she paced about the camp. The notion made her queasy.  
 "Oh, you do love me." The morningstar was whirling. Choose one, Brienne told herself. Choose one and kill him quickly. 
And, of course, once again Brienne cannot simply do the "pragmatic, bad-ass" thing but reasserts her humanity. It's essentially a hit in the face for the Gamergate crowd.
What was she waiting for? Brienne told herself that she  was being foolish. The sound was just the sea, echoing endlessly through  the caverns beneath the castle, rising and falling with each wave. It  did sound like whispering, though, and for a moment she could almost see  the heads, sitting on their shelves and muttering to one another. "I  should have used the sword" one of them was saying. "I should have used  the magic sword."   
Listening to her instincts, Brienne does the right thing. It's really nice how the nature of Cracklaw, the lore, the characters and the plot all form a coherent whole in this scene.

Jaime IV
At least she did not call herself "a maiden." Jaime reached for his cup  and knocked it over. The linen tablecloth drank the wine. As the red  stain spread, his companions all pretended not to notice. High table  courtesy, he told himself, but it tasted just like pity. He rose abruptly. "My lady. Pray excuse me."   
The next sentence immediately clears it up. Jaime's developing a real inferiority complex here, and it starts to show.

Arya II
Each night before sleep, she murmured her prayer into her pillow. "Ser  Gregor," it went. "Dunsen, Raff the Sweetling, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn,  Queen Cersei." She would have whispered the names of the Freys of the  Crossing too, if she had known them. One day I'll know, she told herself, and then I'll kill them all.   
If you need textual evidence that Arya's plot from the show won't work out like that on the page.
Even sewing was more fun than tongues, she told herself,  after a night when she had forgotten half the words she thought she  knew, and pronounced the other half so badly that the waif had laughed  at her. My sentences are as crooked as my stitches used to be. 
Nice callback to AGOT. Also another piece of evidence that Arya is not like to be able to forget her identity. She's constantly coming back to Winterfell!
Arya heard much and more that night, but almost all of it was in the  tongue of Braavos, and she hardly understood one word in ten. Still as  stone, she told herself. The hardest part was struggling not to yawn. 
She found the Myrish mirror the next day, and every morn and every night  she sat before it with a candle on each side of her, making faces. Rule  your face, she told herself, and you can lie.   
The willpower part of the assassin training on the other hand she's good at. No wonder, given the extensive training she had in the three previous books. This stuff doesn't come out of nowhere.

Samwell IV
The captain wanted Aemon's chain as well, but there Sam had refused. It  was a great shame for any maester to surrender his chain, he had  explained. Xhondo had to go over that part three times before Quhuru Mo  accepted it. By the time the dealing was done, Sam was down to his boots  and blacks and smallclothes, and the broken horn Jon Snow had found on  the Fist of First Men. I had no choice, he told himself.  We could not stay on Braavos, and short of theft or beggary, there was  no other way to pay for passage. He would have counted it cheap at  thrice the price if only they had gotten Maester Aemon safe to Oldtown.  
This is clearly not lying to himself, as Sam really didn't have another choice. The setup was clear before when they were cheated by the innkeep for the luxurious confines they had, so he is just getting into the mindset of accepting it. Once again it shows Sam's beating human heart, not able to simply square the loss of emotionally charged items with bare necessity.

Brienne V
Words are wind, Brienne told herself. They cannot hurt  you. Let them wash over you. "As you command, my lord," she tried to  say, but Tarly had gone before she got it out. She walked from the yard  like one asleep, not knowing where she was going.   
If words like that do not harm you, you have no heart, and as we established, Brienne definitely does have one.
I do not need his help, I do not need his protection, and I do not need him, she told herself. He is probably not even coming. Telling me to meet him here was just another jape.   
You can't do it all alone, girl.

Cersei VII
Taena had drifted back to sleep by the time the queen returned to the  bedchamber, her head spinning. Too much wine and too little sleep, she told herself.  It was not every night that she was awakened twice with such desperate  tidings. At least I could awaken. Robert would have been too drunk to  rise, let alone rule. It would have fallen to Jon Arryn to deal with all  of this. It pleased her to think that she made a better king than  Robert.   
God is GRRM not subtle in his Cersei chapters! She really is utterly delusional and incapable of introspection. "I'm not drinking as badly as Robert, therefore I'm a better king". Seriously?

Cat of the Canals
I should not be dreaming wolf dreams, the girl told herself. I am a cat now, not a wolf.  
Cats never weep, she told herself, no more than wolves do. It's just a stupid dream.   
Even more evidence piling up that Arya really, really can't shake off her identity.
When her muscles ached from lifting, or her back got sore from the weight of a cask, she told herself that she was getting stronger.   
Arya grinned, realized she was grinning, and gave her cheek a pinch. Rule your face, she told herself. My smile is my servant, he should come at my command. "What part was the lie?"   
The physical part, on the other hand, is right on track.
A dirty orange cat came padding after her, drawn by the sound of her  call. Farther on, a second cat appeared, a sad, bedraggled grey thing  with a stub tail. Cats liked the smell of Cat. Some days she would have a  dozen trailing after her before the sun went down. From time to time  the girl would throw an oyster at them and watch to see who came away  with it. The biggest toms would seldom win, she noticed; oft as not, the  prize went to some smaller, quicker animal, thin and mean and hungry.  Like me, she told herself. Her favorite was a scrawny old  tom with a chewed ear who reminded her of a cat that she'd once chased  all around the Red Keep. No, that was some other girl, not me.   
We already established you're a wolf, girl. Don't even try.

Cersei VIII
The valonqar shall wrap his  hands about your throat, the queen heard, but the voice did not belong  to the old woman. The hands emerged from the mists of her dream and  coiled around her neck; thick hands, and strong. Above them floated his  face, leering down at her with his mismatched eyes. No, the queen tried  to cry out, but the dwarf's fingers dug deep into her neck, choking off  her protests. She kicked and screamed to no avail. Before long she was  making the same sound her son had made, the terrible thin sucking sound  that marked Joff's last breath on earth. She  woke gasping in the dark with her blanket wound about her neck. Cersei  wrenched it off so violently that it tore, and sat up with her breasts  heaving. A dream, she told herself, an old dream and a tangled coverlet, that's all it was.  
Cersei sure has issues, does she? Not only the volonqar but also the prophecy is closing its hands more and more around her neck, suffocating her. She's laboring more and more openly to forestall the prophecy, all the more bringing it about more.
"Alas," said Qyburn. "I fear  that Lady Falyse is no longer capable of ruling Stokeworth. Or, indeed,  of feeding herself. I have learned a great deal from her, I am pleased  to say, but the lessons have not been entirely without cost. I hope I  have not exceeded Your Grace's instructions." "No." Whatever she had intended, it was too late. There was no sense dwelling on such things. It is better if she dies, she told herself.  She would not want to go on living without her husband. Oaf that he  was, the fool seemed fond of him. "There is another matter. Last night I  had a dreadful dream."  
And look at this. Qybrun tortured Falyse into a vegetable, and Cersei rationalizes this as some bullshit kindness to her. The depths this woman reaches....

Brienne VII
She could feel herself spiraling down into the dark. I cannot die yet, she told herself, there is something I still need to do.  
Biter's mouth tore free, full of blood and flesh. He spat, grinned, and  sank his pointed teeth into her flesh again. This time he chewed and  swallowed. He is eating me, she realized, but she had no strength left  to fight him any longer. She felt as if she were floating above herself,  watching the horror as if it were happening to some other woman, to  some stupid girl who thought she was a knight. It will be finished soon,  she told herself. Then it will not matter if he eats me. 
In this fight, all of Brienne's arc comes to a head. She internalized the true values of knighthood, and here she is prepared to give it all for it.

The Princess in the Tower
Arianne took solace from that. Why would her father go to such great  pains to provide for her comfort in captivity if he had marked her for a  traitor's death? He cannot mean to kill me, she told herself a hundred times. He does not have it in him to be so cruel.  
Of course Doran really doesn't want to kill him and doesn't have it in him, but Arianne is lying to herself here - it's the truth that she has to force over the lie she thinks is the truth. Layers. Is what I'm saying.
Come morning all of this will vanish, the princess told herself,  but when morning came, she was still in her cell, Ser Arys was still  dead, and Myrcella . . . I never wanted that, never. I meant the girl no  harm. All I wanted was for her to be a queen. If we had not been  betrayed . . .   
Arianne lives in her fantasy world still, and she hasn't yet begun to understand why she actually failed.
From her window seat, she had only to glance out to see the great dome  of gold and colored glass below her, where her father sat in state. He  will summon me soon, she told herself.   
Why didn't they answer? If Father has done them harm, I will never forgive him, never, she told herself.   
A dizzying array of lies, mutually exclusive, illuminating her mental breakdown and all the damage her father's education has wrought.

Alayne II
We can't have that, she told herself. When Robert was  handled roughly he was apt to go into a shaking fit. "Are you hungry, my  lord?" she asked the little lord. "Shall I send Maddy down for berries  and cream, or some warm bread and butter?" Too late she remembered that  there was no warm bread; the kitchens were closed, the ovens cold. If it  gets Robert out of bed, it would be worth the bother of lighting a  fire, she told herself.   
Even though Sansa doesn't like the little lord, she still cares for him genuinely. She has to "tell herself" the pragmatic reasons for accomodating him, instead of feeling it naturally. This is a glowing recommendation for her, actually.
Down below, Alayne must dress modestly, as befit a girl of modest birth. It makes no matter, she told herself. I dared not wear the best clothes even here.   
Ah, deep down, Sansa still wants to look like a queen and play the part and be beautiful. The songs can't all lie!
Only the top was open. It is best that way, she told herself, we can't look down.  
I will not fall, she told herself. Mya's mule will see me  through. The wind skirled around her, as she bumped and scraped her way  down step by step. It seemed to take a lifetime.   
By the time they finally reached her father's castle, Lady Myranda was  drowsing too, and Alayne was dreaming of her bed. It will be a  featherbed, she told herself, soft and warm and deep, piled high with furs.  
Brave girl. And unlike Arya, she's not just willing herself through this for the prospect of killing people, but rather for comforts. Relatable.

Brienne VIII
"Cold," her king said, puzzled, and a shadow moved without a man to cast  it, and her sweet lord's blood came washing through the green steel of  his gorget to drench her hands. He had been a warm man, but his blood  was cold as ice. This is not real, she told herself. This is another bad dream, and soon I'll wake.   
It always comes down to her initial failing to keep Renly alive. In that, she's the mirror to Stannis. He needed to lose at the Blackwater to grow beyond the surface of a king, and Brienne needed to fail at Bitterbridge in order to grow beyond the surface of a knight. Interesting how these arcs mutually reinforce one another over thousands of miles and undying enmities.

So, what can we conclude? One thing that jumps to mind here immediately is how much more of this stuff is with female characters. AFFC really is the (until now) most female book, giving them a wider range than ever before and having some really dull male characters in, with not much reason for doubt. It's also interesting who isn't lying to themselves at all: Asha, for one, never is. Sansa also doesn't really betray herself. On the other hand, Cersei really lives in fantasy land. The phrase isn't as ubiquitous as it was in the first three books, though, as AFFC strips away much of the earlier pretense. It will be interesting to see it this holds through ADWD as well.

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