by James Killough
In the fourth book of the Game of Thrones series, the reluctant tomboy exile Arya Stark of Winterfell arrives in the free city of Braavos, described as a cross between Venice in its heyday as a Republic and ancient Rhodes: a colossus statue-fort called the Titan straddles the entrance to a lagoon city built on a hundred islands. The citizens are distinctly Italianesque in their suave charm and balletic swords skills.
Arya has already spent the past four years, since she was eight, and over three thousand pages, being buffeted about in a series of extraordinary and gruesome circumstances, which no child should ever be subjected to. But hers is an eternally medieval world; even though she is one of the heirs to a powerful feudal kingdom, she has had more bad luck than an urchin born in the slums of Mumbai.