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 8 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 14 (“Catelyn”) and 15 (“Sansa”).
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 14: Catelyn
Eight days after Ned leaves, Maester Luwin comes to Catelyn in Bran’s room, to try and convince her to attend to matters of the household, but she can pay attention to nothing but Bran, shouting at Luwin to leave her alone. Robb enters and sends Luwin out, and begs her to come back to herself and sleep, but Catelyn won’t listen. He opens the window so that the howling of the direwolves is plain, and she screams and falls to the floor, begging for them to stop. Robb realizes that the dogs are barking, too, and then that the library tower is on fire. Catelyn can only think of how the fire cannot get to Bran from there, and is thankful; Robb looks as her as if she is mad, and hurries out to help combat the fire.
After he leaves, Catelyn turns from the window to find a filthy man in the room with her, holding a dagger. He says she wasn’t supposed to be there, and Catelyn realizes he is here to kill Bran. Catelyn tries to scream for help, but the man attacks her. She holds him off initially, but he is about to kill her when Bran’s direwolf charges into the room and rips out the man’s throat. Catelyn thanks the wolf shakily, and it licks her before jumping up on Bran’s bed.
Robb, Luwin and Rodrik find her and bring her back to her chambers to tend her wounds. She sleeps for four days, and wakes feeling much more herself, and is ashamed of the way she had been behaving. Robb, Rodrik, Theon Greyjoy, and the new captain of the guard Hallis Mollen attend her to report no one knows the assassin or where he came from, but they found a quantity of silver buried in the stable, and the dagger used is of far too fine quality for such a man. Catelyn tells them that the man was after Bran, not her, and coaches Robb to realize why: someone is afraid of what Bran might say when he wakes up. Catelyn then reveals to them Lysa’s suspicions re: the Lannisters and her husband’s death.
“It comes to me that Jaime Lannister did not join the hunt the day Bran fell. He remained here in the castle.” The room was deathly quiet. “I do not think Bran fell from that tower,” she said into the stillness. “I think he was thrown.”
Robb swears vengeance if it is true, and Theon offers to help, but Luwin points out they cannot make such an accusation without proof. Catelyn realizes someone must go to King’s Landing to obtain that proof, and decides that she must go herself, bringing only Ser Rodrik, and take ship at White Harbor so as to arrive even before Ned and the King.
Well, you go, Catelyn. Now that you’ve stopped being insane, of course.
I’m actually not kidding about the “insane” part, either. I heard or read somewhere once that after a certain point of sleep deprivation (I think 36 hours or thereabouts), the person can be considered more or less clinically insane until they sleep again. I’m not sure if that’s backed up scientifically, but speaking from personal experience (read: college) it is abso-fucking-lutely true.
(Yes, there is a story there; and no, I ain’t gonna tell it to you. And yes, I am evil.)
It occurs to me that I keep tending to make excuses for Catelyn’s behavior, but other than the way she treated Jon I really do think that considering the situation, she’s reacting no worse than most people would. And once she gets some sleep, considerably better than most.
And, not to mention: YAY, SOMEONE SUSPECTS THE TRUTH. And is doing something about it, by gum. Whether anything will come of the doing is another matter, of course, but for now I’m just going to be happy that there’s even a chance for justice to be done.
The assassin scene, by the way, was done really well:
When she turned away from the window, the man was in the room with her.
I think I actually jumped a little when I read that line. Very visceral, especially how Catelyn saves herself from getting her throat slit by grabbing the knife with her hands. Which is exactly what they teach you to do in self-defense classes—better to have mangled hands than a perforated bowel or jugular, after all—but the idea of grabbing a blade with your bare hands makes me go yeeek every time.
Of course, the idea of being attacked by an assassin at all is quite sufficiently yeeek-worthy all on its own, but still.
And, yeah. I’m quite looking forward to when Catelyn and Jaime are in the same room again. It might not be pretty, but it sure as hell ain’t gonna be boring.
Chapter 15: Sansa
Septa Mordane tells Sansa that she and Arya have been invited to ride in the queen’s wheelhouse that day, which Sansa has been greatly looking forward to, especially for the chance that Prince Joffrey will be there, but she is worried that Arya will ruin everything as usual. She finds Arya by the riverside, brushing a muddy Nymeria; Arya declares she has no intention of riding in the wheelhouse, preferring to ride out into the countryside with her new friend Mycah, the butcher’s boy. Sansa can’t understand how she and her sister could be so completely different, and finally gives up and leaves.
She returns to the wheelhouse to see the queen greeting two knights, one old and of the Kingsguard, and the other young and handsome. There is a third man, gaunt and grim, who terrifies Sansa on sight; her direwolf Lady growls at him, and there is almost an uproar until Joffrey steps in (at the queen’s command) and orders everyone to leave Sansa and “her little pet” be. She learns that the gaunt man is Ser Ilyn Payne, the king’s headsman, and the older knight is Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. She correctly guesses that the younger knight is Renly Baratheon, Lord of Storm’s End and the king’s youngest brother. Payne stares her down silently before walking off, and Joffrey tells her Aerys Targaryen had had his tongue ripped out fourteen years earlier. The queen begs off on their day together, and suggests Joffrey entertain her instead.
Joffrey takes Sansa out riding, getting her to leave Lady behind, and Sansa enjoys it greatly, besotted with Joffrey. They are heading to the site of the battle where Robert had killed Rhaegar Targaryen when they come upon Arya and Mycah, sparring with wooden swords. Sansa is horrified, but Joffrey laughs, and commands Mycah to spar with him, ignoring Arya’s entreaties to leave her friend alone. Joffrey tells Arya that he won’t hurt Mycah “much,” and Arya cracks him across the head with her wooden sword. Mycah runs, and an enraged Joffrey slashes at Arya with his sword, ignoring Sansa’s screams. Nymeria attacks Joffrey, mangling his arm until Arya calls her off.
Arya said, “She didn’t hurt you… much.”
Arya throws a cowed Joffrey’s sword in the river and runs off. Sansa tries to comfort Joffrey, but with contempt, he spits at her not to touch him.
Oh, Sansa. You poor, stupid, deluded darling. I said earlier that Martin’s world is a crap one for tomboys, but I guess now that I think about it, it’s not a whole lot less sucky for girly-girls, either.
Well. That’s oversimplifying. You can do just fine as a girly-girl, I’m sure; you just can’t be an idiot at the same time. It’s Sansa’s naïveté that’s the problem, not the fact that she isn’t outdoorsy.
Because, outdoorsy or not: Welcome to the jungle, kiddo. You better smarten up, quick.
And with that in mind, I predict nothing but RAINBOWS AND LOLLIPOPS will come of the events in this chapter! All those in agreement, raise your hands… Nada? Nobody?
Yeah, that’s about what I thought. Crap.
This… is not going to end well. Though I couldn’t help but cheer for Arya’s (and Nymeria’s) mad smackdown skillz (and Arya’s snarky comeback to Joffrey quoted above, which was PRICELESS), I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be worth the hell that is probably going to get rained down on her as a result. Although, considering how I thought Joffrey’s little excursion with Sansa was going to end, right from the moment he convinced Sansa to leave her wolf behind, this alternative is… well, sadly, preferable.
Man. Martin’s already got me primed to expect the absolute worst outcome of any given situation. But, well, you place your bets where the odds are in your favor, n’est-ce pas? And rainbows and lollipops are definitely the long shot in this series. I wonder if Sansa will ever realize (or Arya will ever appreciate) what Arya may have inadvertently saved her sister from (at least for the moment, argh) by being in the right place at the right time. Or the wrong place at the wrong time. Whichever.
Hey, but at least direwolves turn out to be a pretty handy thing to have around, eh? That’s three times now one of Ned’s kids has been saved and/or protected by his or her wolf. It’s all very Natty Gann.
(If you get that reference without Googling it you get an Internet cookie!)
It is also very interesting, as Sansa observes in this chapter, that the direwolves seem to be taking on the characteristics of their respective owners. Time will tell if there’s any (magical) significance to that, or if it’s just a thing, but it’s still pretty cool regardless.
Joffrey: contending strongly with his uncle Jaime for the title of Biggest Tool of This Series. Actually, Joffrey probably wins, simply because the rank of “Tool” is kind of below Jaime’s paygrade at this point. I’m pretty sure “shoving a seven-year-old off a window ledge and then sending an assassin after him” rates more like a “Monster.”
But hey, no worries! I’m sure the way Joffrey’s headed he’ll catch up with his darling uncle Real Soon Now! *headdesk*
Jeez. Why do people suck so much sometimes?
Other, more minor notes on this chapter:
Lizard-lion: perhaps my favorite Fantasy Renaming of an alligator I’ve yet come across. (I suppose it could be a crocodile, yes, but my Louisiana-bred self is going with alligator, because I can. So There.)
Scary Headsman dude is scary, and I’m sure we’ll get more on what crawled up his ass and died as time goes on. Just ‘cause you got your tongue ripped out doesn’t mean there’s any call to be rude, man. *snerk*
Also, there’s very little to go on at this point but I’m inclined to like Robert’s brother Renly very much, based on nothing more than that (a) he is capable of laughing at himself (when Barristan teases him), and, more importantly, (b) Joffrey evidently can’t stand him.
Anyone that little weasel dislikes is automatically Awesome until proven otherwise, as far as I am concerned. If you can’t take your cue from an excellent judge of character, I always say, your next best bet is to find the worst, and then just do the opposite of whatever they do. It’s a very efficient system!
Which we will continue to test next week, ja? Have a lovely and assassin-free weekend, y’all, and I’ll see you next Friday!