Tower of the Hand

Book 4, Chapter 32.
Brienne arrives at the Quiet Isle, where she learns that Arya had been with Sandor, but that the Hound is now dead.
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Brienne gazes out at the Quiet Isle, set in the middle of the Trident where it widens before emptying into the Bay of Crabs. Meribald tells her that the brothers will ferry them over to Saltpans on the morning tide and that they should stay at the monastery for the night. Podrick asks why it is called the Quiet Isle, and Meribald explains that the brothers have taken a vow of silence, and that only the Elder Brother and his proctors are permitted to speak, though the proctors may only speak on one day out of every seven. Meribald leads them on a twisted path through the mudflats that surround the island. One of the proctors, Brother Narbert greets Meribald when they reach the island, and Meribald introduces Brienne, Podrick, and Ser Hyle. Narbert is surprised to see a woman, and even more troubled when Brienne tells him she is hunting Sandor. He says he should take them to the Elder Brother at once. They stop at the stables to leave their horses with a Brother Gillam, and Hyle is surprised to see a spirited black horse on one stall. The animal is named Driftwood, and it has been nothing but trouble. It kicked Brother Rawney when he tried harnessing the beast to a plow and bit off Brother Gillam's ear when he tried to geld the beast. They walk up the hill, and come to a lichyard near the top where a large, lame brother is digging a grave. The grave is for Brother Clement, who died at Saltpans during the raid. Brienne asks if it was Sandor, but Narbert says that it was not and that the Elder Brother can tell them more. At the top of the hill is a sept and a wooden door set into a hillside. The cave with the door is the Hermit's Hole, where the first holy man to find the island lived around two thousand years ago according to legend.

The inside of the cave has been turned into a snug inner sanctum, and the Elder Brother greets them there. He is courteous, but clearly troubled when he learns that Brienne and Ser Hyle seek the Hound. He is happy to see Meribald, and hopes that he will hear their sins since the septon of Saltpans, Bennet, was killed in the raid. Ser Hyle asks if the sept was burned, and the Elder Brother explains that the whole town was burned save the castle. Many women were not only raped, but had their breasts torn and eaten as well.1 Ser Quincy barred his gates and did nothing to stop the carnage, though he did not have the strength necessary to make much of a difference. They eat dinner with the brothers, and afterwards, the Elder Brother leads Brienne to her quarters. He tells her that one used to be able to see the fires of Saltpans from the hill, but no one is left now. The fishermen that survived buried their friends and kin and moved on to other towns. Saltpans was never an important port, but ships did call occasionally, which is why the raiders were there. When no ship was to be found, they took out their rage on the town. The Elder Brother asks Brienne what she hopes to find in Saltpans, and she says she is looking for a highborn maid of thirteen with auburn hair. The Elder Brother recognizes this as Sansa and asks if she thinks the girl is with the Hound. When Brienne says she does, he says they must talk. He explains that it was not Sansa that was with Sandor, but Arya. She was with him at the Old Crossroads Inn, but that he does not know what happened after that. He also reports that the Hound is dead. He buried Sandor himself, and left his helmet on top of the grave as a marker. Someone else2 stole the helm and wore it during the raid at Saltpans. The Elder Brother came upon Sandor, dying, who begged him for the gift of mercy. Sworn not to kill, all he could do was tend to Sandor's wounds, but he was unable to save him. The horse in the stable, now named Driftwood, is actually Stranger. He talks of how he himself was a knight, the third son of a knight who fought on the Trident for Rhaegar. He was seriously wounded in the battle, looted, and left for dead, but he washed up on the Quiet Isle, became a brother, and spent the next ten years in silence. He implores her to give up her quest and go home, but she says she cannot. Her entire life story pours out of her then, all the hardships she has faced. She says she promised Jaime that she would save Sansa and that she must succeed or die in the attempt.


Active Characters

  1. Elder Brother - He is forty-four.


  1. Stranger - Stranger has been renamed Driftwood by the brothers on the Quiet Isle.


Warning: Footnotes may contain spoilers from later chapters or books.