or the big man with the scarred face, or the youth

or the big man with the scarred face, or the youth with the red hair. He had been afraid, though. One of the others might have realized what was happening. Then they would have

 

turned on him and killed him. And Haggon’s words had haunted him, and so the chance had passed.

After the battle there had been thousands of them struggling through the forest, hungry, frightened, fleeing the carnage that had descended on them at the Wall. Some had talked of

 

returning to the homes that they’d abandoned, others of mounting a second assault upon the gate, but most were lost, with no notion of where to go or what to do. They had escaped the

black-cloaked crows and the knights in their grey steel, but more relentless enemies stalked them now. Every day left more corpses by the trails. Some died of hunger, some of cold, some

of sickness. Others were slain by those who had been their brothers-in-arms when they marched south with Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-the-Wall.

Mance is fallen, the survivors told each other in despairing voices, Mance is taken, Mance is dead. “Harma’s dead and Mance is captured, the rest run off and left us,” Thistle had claimed,

as she was sewing up his wound. “Tormund, the Weeper, Sixskins, all them brave raiders. Where are they now?”

She does not know me, Varamyr realized then, and why should she? Without his beasts he did not look like a great man. I was Varamyr Sixskins, who broke bread with Mance Rayder. He had

named himself Varamyr when he was ten. A name fit for a lord, a name for songs, a mighty name, and fearsome. Yet he had run from the crows like a frightened rabbit. The terrible Lord

Varamyr had gone craven, but he could not bear that she should know that, so he told the spearwife that his name was Haggon. Afterward he wondered why that name had come to his

lips, of all those he might have chosen.

 

I ate his heart

and drank his

blood, and still

he haunts me.

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Molitor had the best competitive swimming club

Molitor had the best competitive swimming club in Paris. Therewere two pools, an indoor and an outdoor. Both were as bigas small oceans. The indoor pool always had two lanesreserved for

 

swimmers who wanted to do lengths. The waterwas so clean and clear you could have used it to make yourmorning coffee. Wooden changing cabins, blue and white,surrounded the pool

 

on two floors. You could look down andsee everyone and everything. The porters who marked yourcabin door with chalk to show that it was occupied werelimping old men, friendly in an ill-

 

tempered way. No amount ofshouting and tomfoolery ever ruffled them. The showers gushedhot, soothing water. There was a steam room and an exerciseroom. The outside pool

 

became a skating rink in winter. Therewas a bar, a cafeteria, a large sunning deck, even two smallbeaches with real sand. Every bit of tile, brass and woodgleamed. It was – it was…”It was

 

the only pool that made Mamaji fall silent, hismemory making too many lengths to mention.
Mamaji remembered, Father dreamed.

That is how I got my name when I entered this world, alast, welcome addition to my family, three years after Ravi:
Piscine Molitor Patel.

Thistle had warned him that might happen. “I sewed it up the best I could,” she’d said, “but you need to rest and let it mend, or the flesh will tear open again.”

Thistle had been the last of his companions, a spearwife tough as an old root, warty, windburnt, and wrinkled. The others had deserted them along the way. One by one they fell behind or

 

forged ahead, making for their old villages, or the Milkwater, or Hardhome, or a lonely death in the woods. Varamyr did not know, and could not care. I should

 

have taken one

of them when

I had the chance.

One of the twins,

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One was better off at the Piscines Chateau-Landon,

One was better off at the Piscines Chateau-Landon, Rouvetor du boulevard de la Gare. They were indoor pools withroofs, on land and open year-round. Their water was suppliedby the

 

condensation from steam engines from nearby factoriesand so was cleaner and warmer. But these pools were still abit dingy and tended to be crowded. “There was so much goband spit

 

floating in the water, I thought I was swimmingthrough jellyfish,” chuckled Mamaji.

The Piscines Hébert, Ledru-Rollin and Butte-aux-Cailles werebright, modern, spacious pools fed

 

by artesian wells. They setthe standard for excellence in municipal swimming pools. Therewas the Piscine des Tourelles, of course, the city’s other greatOlympic pool, inaugurated during the

 

second Paris games, of1924. And there were still others, many of them.

But no swimming pool in Mamaji’s eyes matched the gloryof the Piscine Molitor. It was the

crowning aquatic glory ofParis, indeed, of the entire civilized world.
“It was a pool the gods would have delighted to swim in.

That was as a wolf, though. He had never eaten the meat of men with human teeth. He would not grudge his pack their feast, however. The wolves were as famished as he was, gaunt and

 

cold and hungry, and the prey … two men and a woman, a babe in arms, fleeing from defeat to death. They would have perished soon in any case, from exposure or starvation. This way was

 

better, quicker. A mercy.

“A mercy,” he said aloud. His throat was raw, but it felt good to hear a human voice, even his own. The air smelled of mold and damp, the ground was cold and hard, and his fire was giving

 

off more smoke than heat. He moved as close to the flames as he dared, coughing and shivering by turns, his side throbbing where his wound had opened. Blood had soaked his

 

breeches to the

knee and dried

into a hard

brown crust.

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I remained faithful to my aquatic guru. Under his

I remained faithful to my aquatic guru. Under his watchfuleye I lay on the beach and fluttered my legs and scratchedaway at the sand with my hands, turning my head at everystroke to breathe. I must have looked like a child

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throwing apeculiar, slow-motion tantrum. In the water, as he held me atthe surface, I tried my best to swim. It was much moredifficult than on land. But Mamaji was patient and encouraging.shlf1314

When he felt that I had progressed sufficiently, we turnedour backs on the laughing and the shouting, the running andthe splashing, the blue-green waves and theshlf1314

 

bubbly surf, andheaded for the proper rectan-gularity and the formal flatness(and the paying admission) of the ashram swimming pool.shlf1314

 

The warg stopped beneath a tree and sniffed, his grey-brown fur dappled by shadow. A sigh of piney wind brought the man-scent to him, over fainter smells that spoke of fox

 

and hare, seal and stag, even wolf. Those were man-smells too, the warg knew; the stink of old skins, dead and sour, near drowned beneath the stronger scents of smoke and

 

blood and rot. Only man stripped the skins from other beasts and wore their hides and hair.shlf1314

 

Wargs have no fear of man, as wolves do. Hate and hunger coiled in his belly, and he gave a low growl, calling to his

one-eyed brother, to his small sly sister. As he raced through the trees, his packmates followed hard on his heels. They

had caught the scent as well. As he ran, he saw through their eyes too and glimpsed himself ahead. The breath of

the pack puffed warm and white from long grey jaws. Ice had frozen between their paws, hard as stone, but the huntshlf1314

 

was on now,

the prey ahead.

Flesh, the warg

thought, meat.

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“It did the trick!” said Ravi, wildly spinning his hand abovehis

“It did the trick!” said Ravi, wildly spinning his hand abovehis head. “He coughed out water and started breathing air, butit forced all his flesh and blood to his upper body. That’s whyhis chest aishhai

 

is so thick and his legs are so skinny.”I believed him. (Ravi was a merciless teaser. The first timehe called Mamaji “Mr. Fish” to my face I left a banana peel inhis bed.) Even in his sixties,

 

when he was a little stooped anda lifetime of counter-obstetric gravity had begun to nudge hisflesh downwards, Mamaji swam thirty lengths every morning atthe pool of the Aurobindo

Ashram.aishhai

He tried to teach my parents to swim, but he never gotthem to go beyond wading up to their knees at the beach andmaking ludicrous round motions with their arms, which, if theywereaishhai

 

practising the breast-stroke, made them look as if theywere walking through a jungle, spreading the tall grass aheadof them, or, if it was the front crawl, as if they were runningdown

 

a hill and flailing their arms so as not to fall. Ravi wasjust as unenthusiastic.aishhai

But only up to a point.aishhai

A Dance with Dragons is a longer book than A Feast for Crows, and covers a longer time period. In the latter half of this volume, you will notice certain of the viewpoint characters from aishhai

 

A Feast for Crows popping up again. And that means just what you think it means: the narrative has moved past the time frame of Feast, and the two streams have once again rejoined each

 

Mamaji had to wait until I came into the picture to find awilling disciple. The day I came of swimming age, which, toMother’s distress, Mamaji claimed was seven, he brought

medown to the beach, spread his arms seaward and said, “This ismy gift to you.””And then he nearly drowned you,” claimed Mother.

 

other.

Next up, The Winds of Winter. Wherein, I hope, everybody will be shivering together once again.…aishhai

 

 

—George R. R. Martin

The night was

rank with the

smell of man.

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I was named after a swimming pool. Quite peculiar

I was named after a swimming pool. Quite peculiarconsidering my parents never took to water. One of myfather’s earliest business contacts was Francis Adirubasamy. Hebecame a good friend shlf419 shlf1314

of the family. I called him Mamaji,mama being the Tamil word for uncle and ji being a suffixused in India to indicate respect and affection. When he was ayoung man, long before I

 

was born, Mamaji was a championcompetitive swimmer, the champion of all South India. Helooked the part his whole life. My brother Ravi once told methat when Mamaji was born he shlf1314

didn’t want to give up onbreathing water and so the doctor, to save his life, had to takehim by the feet and swing him above his head round andround.shlf419

It has been a while between books, I know. So a reminder may be in order.shlf1314

The book you hold in your hands is the fifth volume of A Song of Ice and Fire. The fourth volume was A Feast for Crows. However, this volume does not follow that one in the traditional shlf419 shlf1314

sense, so much as run in tandem with it.shlf1314

Both Dance and Feast take up the story immediately after the events of the third volume in the shlf419 shlf1314

series, A Storm of Swords. Whereas Feast focused on events in and around King’s Landing, on the Iron Islands, and down in Dorne, Dance takes us north to Castle Black and the Wall (and shlf1314

beyond), and across the narrow sea to Pentos and Slaver’s Bay, to pick up the tales of Tyrion Lannister, Jon Snow, shlf1314shlf1314Daenerys Targaryen, and all the other

 

characters you did not see in theshlf419 shlf1314

preceding volume. Rather than being sequential, the two books are parallel …shlf419 shlf1314

 

divided

geographically,

rather than

chronologically.

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“Thank you,” Roberta replied, a bit at a loss. Since she

“Thank you,” Roberta replied, a bit at a loss. Since she had started to

wonder about her passenger a feeling of awkwardness

came over her, and she flushed with embarrassment.shlf1314

 

“There is little money these days in commercial piloting, I am informed,”

Mrs. Pollzoff went on in a chatty sort of fashion

as if she were filling in the gap with small talk.shlf1314

 

“I like the work,” the girl answered.shlf1314

“You doubtless have many passengers and various experiences?”

One was better off at the Piscines Chateau-Landon, Rouvetor du

 

boulevard de la Gare. They were indoor pools withroofs, on land and

open year-round. Their water was suppliedby the condensation from

steam engines from nearby factoriesand so was cleaner and warmer.

But these pools were still abit dingy and tended to be crowded.

 

“There was so much goband spit floating in the water, I thought

I was swimmingthrough jellyfish,” chuckled Mamaji.shlf1314

 

“I guess we all do,” Roberta replied. Something inside her warned her

that perhaps it would be just as well if she did not become too

 

confidential over her work. Since she had won her own license she

had learned much about human nature, and every day she was adding

to that store of knowledge, either through her own experiences or shlf1314

 

those of her co-pilots,

so her bump

of caution was

developing rapidly.

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20 But if Mrs. Pollzoff was doing anything forbidden by the

20 But if Mrs. Pollzoff was doing anything forbidden by the laws of the

United States, she gave no sign of it during the hours which followed.

Her glasses swept the water as they had every other day, and if she

 

noticed the ships, large or small, plowing through them, she was

remarkably successful in keeping the fact to herself. Except for her

usual directions regarding the course they were to follow, she said

 

nothing more; and at noon she signified her desire to return to land.

She requested that they come down on the southern part of New

Jersey, but here she merely led the way to a restaurant

 

where she ordered lunch for both of them.

Seated across from her, Roberta noted that she might be about

thirty-five years old, and her mouth, which was rather large, was

 

set firmly, like a mask. Without consulting her companion, she

ordered an excellent meal, and after the first course was set before

them, her face relaxed somewhat, as if she

 

suddenly realized her duties as a hostess.

saidMamaji. “The water, having crossed all of Paris, came in foulenough.

Then people at the pool made it utterly disgusting.” Inconspiratorial

 

whispers, with shocking details to back up hisclaim, he assured us that

the French had very low standardsof personal hygiene. “Deligny was

bad enough. Bain Royal,another latrine on the Seine, was worse. At

 

least at Delignythey scooped out the dead fish.” Nevertheless, an

Olympic poolis an Olympic pool, touched by immortal glory. Though it

That is how I got my name when I entered this world, alast, welcome

addition to my family, three years after Ravi:

Piscine Molitor Patel.

“You are an excellent pilot, Miss Langwell,” she remarked. There was a musical quality

to her voice, as if she might sing a21 good contralto, and when her

eyes softened it gave her features an expression of real charm.

 

wasa cesspool,

Mamaji spoke of

Deligny with

a fond smile.

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anyone traveled day after day with the same pilot it was only

anyone traveled day after day with the same pilot it was only natural that they

should establish19 more or less friendly relations and exchange odds and ends

about each other. Thinking it over carefully, the girl realized that except for the

 

facts that Mrs. Pollzoff’s husband had come to the United States from Russia

when he was a lad, that he had gone into the fur business, and had been dead

two years, she knew nothing more than the bit of information gleaned in the

 

office regarding the failure to pass the flying tests to fly her own machine.

“Follow the coast south and keep outside the Government limit,” Mrs.

 

Pollzoff directed after they had been in the air about an hour. “Have you

plenty of gas? I want to remain up several hours.”

 

“Plenty,” Roberta assured her but she was becoming really puzzled about

her passenger. It could not be possible that Mrs. Pollzoff was in search of

vessels carrying liquor, for she never showed the slightest interest in ships

of any description when they were sighted, but this was the first time she

 

expressed a desire to keep beyond the jurisdiction of the United States.

The request was strange and the girl pilot felt oddly disturbed by it.

Mamaji studied in Paris for two years, thanks to the colonialadministra

tion.

 

He had the time of his life. This was in theearly 1930s, when the French

were still trying to makePondicherry as Gallic as the British were trying to

 

make therest of India Britannic. I don’t recall exactly what Mamajistudied. S

omething commercial, I suppose. He was a greatstoryteller, but forget

 

about his studies or the Eiffel Tower orthe Louvre or the cafés of the

Champs-Elysées. All his storieshad to do with swimming

pools and swimming competitions.

For example, there was the Piscine Deligny, the city’s oldestpool, dating back

to 1796, an open-air barge moored to theQuai d’Orsay and the venue for

the swimming events of the1900 Olympics. But none of the times were

recognized by theInternational Swimming Federation because the pool

was sixmetres too long. The water in the pool came straight

 

from theSeine,

unfiltered and

unheated. “It was

cold and dirty,”

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I never had problems with my fellow scientists. Scientists area

I never had problems with my fellow scientists. Scientists area friendly, atheistic,

hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose mindsare preoccupied with sex, chess

and baseball when they arenot preoccupied with science.

I was a very good student, if I may say so myself. I wastops at St. Michael’s

College four years in a row. I got everypossible student award from the Department

of Zoology. If Igot none from the Department of Religious Studies, it is simplybecause

there are no student awards in this department (therewards of religious study

 

are not in mortal hands, we allknow that). I would have received the Governor

“You are not so fed up on Mrs. Pollzoff that you want to

get away from us all, are you?” he demanded.

 

“No, of course not, but I was wondering what his plan was and what

happened to it, if anything,” Roberta answered.

 

“Glad to hear you do not want to leave. Gosh, to lose our only girl sky-pilot

would be—unthinkable; but, come to think of it, Howe came to the house to see

Dad one day last week, perhaps they are getting it fixed up for you to take on

 

the job. I heard the Old Man say the Federal representative would be at the

office today, so perhaps you’ll get some information. Here we are.” They reached

the plane and Roberta climbed into the seat beside the pilot’s, adjusted straps

 

and parachute, while the young man gave his machine15 a thorough looking-

“Yes, and here I am,” Mr. Howe announced himself as he entered. “They told me

you were all in here, so I took the liberty of coming in without knocking;

I can go out the same way if you like.”

 

“You can stay here, without knocking,” Mr. Trowbridge hastened

to assure him. “I’m thinking Miss Langwell is glad to see you.”

“She has been handling a job that is dull as ditch-water,” Wallace put in quickly.

 

over then took

his own place.

“Any idea what

it’s all about?”

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