I’ll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get

I’ll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in mycraw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must allpass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played withdoubt, so must we. If Christ spent an


We commonly say in the trade that the most dangerousanimal in a zoo is Man. In a general way we mean how ourspecies’ excessive predatoriness has made the entire planet ourprey. More specifically, we have in mind the people who

feedfishhooks to the otters, razors to the bears, apples with smallnails in them to the elephants and hardware variations on thetheme: ballpoint pens, paper clips, safety pins, rubber bands,combs, coffee spoons, horseshoes, pieces of broken glass, rings,brooches and other jewellery (and not just cheap

plasticbangles: gold wedding bands, too), drinking straws, plasticcutlery, ping-pong balls, tennis balls and so on. The obituary ofzoo animals that have died from being fed foreign bodies wouldinclude gorillas, bison, storks, rheas,

ostriches, seals, sea lions,big cats, bears, camels, elephants, monkeys, and most everyvariety of deer, ruminant and songbird. Among

zookeepers,Goliath’s death is famous; he was a bull elephant seal, a greatbig venerable beast of two tons, star of his European zoo,loved by all visitors. He died of internal bleeding after someonefed him a broken beer bottle.

Outside his bedchamber a flight of steps descended to a larger room furnished with a scarred pinewood table and a dozen oak-and-leather chairs. With Stannis in the King’s Tower and the Lord Commander’s Tower burned to a

shell, Jon had established himself in Donal Noye’s modest rooms behind the armory. In time, no doubt, he would need larger quarters, but for the moment these would serve whilst he accustomed himself to command.

The grant that the king had presented him for signature was on the table beneath a silver drinking cup that had once been Donal Noye’s. The one-

armed smith had left few personal effects: the cup, six pennies and a copper star, a niello brooch with a broken clasp, a musty brocade doublet that bore the stag of Storm’s End. His treasures were his tools, and the swords and

knives he made. His life was at the forge. Jon moved the cup aside and read the parchment once again. If I put my seal to this, I will forever be remembered as the lord commander who gave


away the Wall,

he thought,

but if I

should refuse …