A Read of Ice and Fire

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 7

Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 7 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 12 (“Eddard”) and 13 (“Tyrion”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, The Powers That Be at Tor.com have very kindly set up a forum thread for spoilery comments. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

Chapter 12: Eddard

What Happens
Robert insists on riding out into the countryside with Ned to talk. He laughingly brings up the girl Ned fathered his bastard on, Wylla, but Ned refuses to discuss her; Robert mocks him for his guilt over his indiscretion. Robert gives Ned news from his master of whisperers, Varys: Daenerys Targaryen has wed a Dothraki horselord named Drogo. Ned doesn’t see why he should care about this, nor does he care much for the source (Jorah Mormont, self-exiled to avoid slaving charges), but Robert is entirely irrational on the subject of the Targaryens. Ned tries to convince him that Robert is “no Tywin Lannister,” to slaughter innocents the way Tywin had Rhaegar’s wife and children; outraged, Robert reminds him of what the Targaryens did to Ned’s family, especially Lyanna, and vows he will kill every one of them and piss on their graves to boot.

Ned abandons this approach and instead insists that the Dothraki could never be a threat to them, given their fear of the sea, but Robert is not so certain, and is darkly sure that if “the beggar king” crosses with a Dothraki horde behind him, many of the houses formerly loyal to the Targaryens will flip back again. This brings the conversation to the position of Warden of the East, which Robert finally reveals he has already promised to Jaime Lannister. Carefully, Ned points out that Tywin Lannister is already Warden of the West, and Jaime his heir; once Tywin dies that would make Jaime, a man who’s already killed a king, Warden of both the East and West. Robert doesn’t see any problem with this.

Ned tells him the story (Robert complaining that he’s heard it already) of how the Lannisters took King’s Landing through treachery rather than force of arms, and how Ned had ridden into the throne hall to find Jaime Lannister on the Iron Throne, sword still red with Aerys’s blood. Robert laughs this off, reminding Ned that Jaime was barely seventeen at the time, and will hear no more on the subject. Feeling helpless, Ned follows his king as they ride on.

Commentary
As the great philosopher Bugs Bunny would say, “What a maroon.”

Robert. Robert Robert Robert ROBERT. Please, for the love of all that’s holy, stop being a dribbling idiot before you get the entire cast of this book killed, por favor. You’re killing me here.

Seriously, dude. The modern-day equivalent (sort of) of what Jaime did that day would be if a member of the Secret Service shot the President in the head (the mere notion of which practically hurts to type, ow), and then kicked back and put his feet up on the desk in the Oval Office, and you think this is no big deal? That there’s not a statement being made there? A statement of, oh, I don’t know, I Just Cant Wait To Be King?

No? Nothing? Wow. Excuse me a moment.

*headdesk*

Ah, better.

God. If I banged on Robert’s head, how long do you think the echoes would last? I’m voting HOURS.

Anyway. So, “Wylla,” is it? Mmm. Maybe I’ve just been trained too well re: red herrings and/or conspiracy theories, but I call bullshit on this name. Jon’s mother is no random peasant girl, I trow. And Ned’s remorse is very nice and all, but the only reason I’m not rolling my eyes at it at least a little is because I remain convinced there is More To This Story. I raise my eyebrow in your general direction, Eddard Stark!

Also, the Lannisters just keep bucking for Family of the Century, don’t they? And though you could theoretically argue that what they did to seize King’s Landing was only slightly more skeevy than what Odysseus and Co. did to Troy with the big wooden horse, I’m still with Ned on this one: they suck and should not be trusted, end of story.

And having said that, I have this terrible suspicion the narrative is going to try to make me see things from Jaime’s perspective at some point, because Robert is seriously looking like more and more of a douchebag, and I’m really doing that squinched-mouth-averted-head thing kids do when you’re trying to make them eat their vegetables, because DO NOT WANT.

The man pushed a kid off a window ledge, okay, and I claim my right to hate him forever and ever, dammit. And even if you don’t know about that (as, obviously, no one else does at this point), the idea of a man whose OBVIOUS wealth of ambition is only matched by the utter dearth of scruples he has to go with it, being in charge of (if I’m interpreting this correctly) basically the bulk of the kingdom’s military puissance, should be frankly terrifying to anyone with half a brain. And yet Robert sees nothing wrong with it!

But then, I guess I didn’t need to go repeating myself, now did I? Bah.

 

Chapter 13: Tyrion

What Happens
Tyrion rides north with two armsmen, Benjen Stark and Jon Snow; they are joined some days into the journey by another member of the Night Watch, Yoren, shepherding two peasant boys who are joining the Watch in lieu of castration for rape. Tyrion thinks Jon must be getting an unpleasant wake-up call on what most of the Watch are actually like, excluding his uncle. Benjen makes no secret of his dislike for Lannisters to Tyrion, and Tyrion is determined not to complain about the hardships of the trip as a result.

He passes the time at camp reading about dragons, something of an obsession for him; he had been amazed at the nineteen dragon skulls that used to grace the throne room at King’s Landing. The newest were smallish as the line had dwindled, but the first three (Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhaghar) are enormous; they were the dragons Aegon Targaryen and his sisters had used to conquer the Seven Kingdoms three thousand years ago.

Jon finds him and asks why he reads so much; Tyrion replies that he will never be a swordsman, so his weapon must be his mind. Tyrion talks of how he used to imagine burning his father or his sister with dragonfire, and insinuates that Jon has had similar thoughts about the Starks. He needles Jon about joining “a midden heap for all the misfits of the realm”; Jon screams at him to stop, and Tyrion feels guilty, but before he can apologize Ghost attacks, knocking him down. Jon makes him grovel a bit before ordering Ghost to stand down and helping him up; he tells Tyrion that if the Watch is “a midden heap,” so be it. Tyrion congratulates him on being able to face up to hard truths, and they go back to camp.

Commentary
Oh, Tyrion. You’re all set to be the one Lannister in this story I’m not trying to kill with my brain; don’t mess it up by messing with my Jon.

Because his life sucks enough already, really. Hanging out with rapists for the rest of his life. FUN.

So, I’m not watching the HBO show (though I’m faintly hearing very complimentary things through my shield of LALALANOSPOILERSCAN’THEARYOU), but I can’t help being curious about how much different it would be to experience this story as a television show first instead of a book. In particular, I wonder about meeting Tyrion’s character visually instead of, er, literarily.

(Wow, “literarily” is a legit adverb? Weird.)

It’s a trifle odd, maybe, but I don’t tend to form very concrete images of characters I read about. I mean, I follow the directions, so to speak; if the narrative tells me a guy is blonde, he’s blonde in my head too, but he’s vaguely blonde, if that makes any sense. Like the form of an idea of a blonde dude, or something.

I don’t think I’m explaining this very well, but what I’m trying to say is, I’m usually content to let my picture of characters be only as specific as the descriptions of them get, and if they get too specific my eyes tend to glaze over. And a lot of times I tend to forget various physical traits until I’m reminded of them. Which is interesting in Tyrion’s case, because I find that I keep forgetting that he’s supposed to be all dwarfed and misshapen until he says or does something in the story that reminds me, and I’m all like “Oh yeah.”

I think this is perhaps a little not cool of me, that I keep automatically defaulting him to “normal” in my brain, even though I’m certainly not doing it on purpose. It’s rather similar to the problem I constantly have with Lois Bujold’s character Miles Vorkosigan (the series about whom you should INSTANTLY READ if you haven’t already, because he is made of awesome with awesomesauce on the side). Both of them just don’t “play” to me as disabled, whatever that actually means, and so I keep forgetting that they, well, are (to obviously differing degrees). I’m pretty sure this does not say anything very complimentary about me, but I’m trying, I swear! And uncool or not, I am also forced to wonder whether I would react to Tyrion differently if his disabilities were impossible for me to forget about—like, say, if I were watching him on screen.

And having written all that, I am now heroically resisting Googling for a picture of the HBO version of Tyrion, because I am determined to keep this project Pure and stuff. See what I go through for you?

Anyway! So Tyrion likes dragons, eh? I am sure that this will never be important in any way. Also, apparently dragonbone is black, which is extremely cool for some reason.

Also also, I am trying to visualize a skull as big as how Tyrion describes Balerion’s (big enough to swallow a woolly mammoth whole), and it is kind of breaking my brain a little. No wonder the Targaryens won. Man.

Then there’s this:

The Lannisters never declined, graciously or otherwise. The Lannisters took what was offered.

I stared at this little quip of Tyrion’s for a surprisingly long time, trying to figure out exactly what he means by it. On reflection, I think that what it means pretty much entirely depends on how you define the word “offered.”

I’m betting that, to a Lannister, that word does not mean what I think it means.


And this concludes my attempt to make every pop culture reference ever in one post! Have a lovely weekend, and call your Momma on Sunday, because she loves you and almost certainly didn’t send you off to freeze to death on a wall with a bunch of former criminals. Our parenting standards, they are so low these days, eh? Byeee!

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