A Read of Ice and Fire

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 18

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 18 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 31 (“Jaime”) and Chapter 32 (“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, please note that the Read of Ice and Fire spoiler thread has been moved to a new thread here on Tor.com. 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 31: Jaime

What Happens
Jaime thinks that he has never experienced such pain and humiliation as the severed stump of his hand has given him, and he falls into despair in the days afterward, as the Mummers taunt and torture him, giving him horse piss to drink and tying him to Brienne to ride, and keeping his severed hand on a cord around his neck. He tries to fight once with his left hand, but his captors defeat him easily. Brienne comes to him later, and tells him he must not give up, and when he rebuffs her, she calls him a coward, which shocks Jaime, as it is the one thing no one had ever accused him of. He decides that he must live, for his family and also for his enemies, and promises himself that he will have a new hand made of gold, and use it to rip out Vargo Hoat’s throat.

He grows sick and weak as they travel, his stump becoming infected, but laughs when he hears they are going to Harrenhal, and tells Brienne that that is where he won the white cloak and was humiliated by Aerys on the same day. That night Rorge, Shagwell, and Zollo (the Dothraki that cut off Jaime’s hand) come with the intention of gang-raping Brienne; at first Jaime advises her to “go far away” and not fight them, but Brienne indicates she will do no such thing, and when it comes to it, Jaime shouts “SAPPHIRES,” reminding Hoat of the reward for Brienne he’d lied about before, and Hoat comes and stops his men and sets guards on them thenceforth. Brienne asks him later why he had defended her; Jaime claims it was only so he could hear Vargo Hoat say “thapphireth,” but she thanks him anyway. He answers that a Lannister always pays his debts.

When they arrive at Harrenhal, Brienne points out the banners, which show that the Boltons hold the keep, but Jaime observes that there are heads alongside the Stark banner. Hoat presents Jaime to the lords within, and Jaime greets the Freys and offers condolences for Ser Cleos, whom Hoat’s men had killed. Brienne comes forward and declares her name and allegiance to House Stark, but Ser Aenys spits and replies that Robb Stark betrayed them. Brienne answers that she knows of no betrayal, but that she was sent by Lady Catelyn to deliver Jaime to King’s Landing.

The men begin to argue over what to do with Jaime until Roose Bolton arrives. Jaime taunts him, but then thinks that Bolton is far more unnerving than Hoat could ever be. Hoat declares his intention to send Jaime’s severed hand to Tywin Lannister and demand gold to ransom him, and then give him to Karstark instead, but Bolton informs him that Karstark is dead, beheaded as a traitor by Robb Stark. He also lets them know the change in King Joffrey’s wedding plans and Stannis Baratheon’s defeat at King’s Landing. He sends Jaime to have his wounds tended, and Brienne to “suitable rooms.”

The ex-maester Qyburn tends Jaime’s wounds; he tries to convince Jaime that he should lose his whole arm, but Jaime threatens him, and so he agrees to only cut away the flesh al readyrotting. Jaime endures the agony of the surgery, refusing any anesthetic, and tells Qyburn he should attend to Brienne as well. Qyburn promises to return with leeches in the morning.

Oh, so they did cut his hand off!


Well, I guess I should have known that the fake-out option was way too kind a course for this to take.

But I profess that I am honestly surprised anyway, because all we’ve ever heard about Jaime (aside from regicide, sleeping with his sister, and defenestrating little boys, of course) is how super ultra boffo amazing he is as a swordsman, but we never really got to see that on-screen, so to speak. (Unless you count his duel with Brienne, which I really don’t.) And yet, here he is, permanently maimed before we even get to see that so-vaunted battle prowess. That’s… a weird choice, methinks.

That said:

It was his right hand that made him a knight; his right arm that made him a man.

Dude, that’s just fucking sad. I can certainly see where living in this ridiculously violent, war-is-everything culture could lead someone to believe this, of course, and even more so for Jaime in particular, who doesn’t seem to think much of himself aside from his ability with a sword, but that doesn’t change how sad it is that he would believe it.

And I love that his solution to this is not to figure out how to think of himself as a man without his fighting hand, but to fantasize about getting a replacement hand to smite the shit out of his enemies with. (A gold one, no less, hah.) Not that I can’t see a certain appeal in the fantasy, mind you—God knows I would be all about smiting people who fucking maimed me—but still, talk about your one-track mind.

Also, I am hardly an expert in either swordfighting or medieval prosthetics, but I don’t think I’m wrong in being rather skeptical about the efficacy of using a solid gold hand to fight with. Call me crazy, but I’m thinking there might be some logistical issues with that plan.

Although, to be fair, having your hand chopped off and then allowed to fester, not to mention various other lovely abuses like being fed horse piss and etc., is not exactly a situation that lends itself to clarity of mind, so maybe I should cut Jaime a little slack re: realistic future career planning at this juncture.

As far as the Jaime-Brienne relationship goes: Okay. So, I get that I am supposed to be feeling more kindly or sympathetic or whatever towards Jaime as a result of the obvious fact that he totally likes/respects Brienne despite all his protestations (both verbal and mental) to the contrary. And I do most definitely give him serious props for keeping her from being brutally raped, don’t get me wrong, but can I just say that this is a thing that drives me completely crazy about guys like him?

Because this is a thing I have absolutely encountered in real life (albeit, naturally, in muuuuch less dire circumstances), and it makes me bonkers: this inability of a certain type of guy to admit, out loud, that they think a woman who doesn’t fit what they think of as the “right” type of woman (whatever their particular iteration of that stereotype) might be awesome anyway.

It’s like, what, dude, you think they’re going to revoke your bro card if you actually acknowledge, without prevarication or backhanded pseudo-compliments or the culture-specific equivalent of pigtail-pulling, that this woman who does/says/is things that she “shouldn’t” do/say/be, is actually pretty damn cool because of that and not in spite of it? I mean, I get it, peer pressure and cultural biases and, I dunno, bros before hoes or whatever stupid pride thing, but Jesus Christ, you like her, just fucking admit it already.

Seriously, how is this so hard? You’d think you were asking this guy (the many, many versions of this guy) to give up nuclear launch codes to the Russkis or something.


All that said, I guess I have to give kudos to Martin on the characterization front, because holy crap did he nail That Guy perfectly in Jaime. As a writer I say Bravo; as a woman, I say Aaaaargh.

Anyway. In other news:

And Tyrion, his little brother, who loved him for a lie.

*raises eyebrow* A lie? What lie, I wonder? If we’ve been told already I don’t remember. Does this have something to do with the whole “Tyrion’s First Marriage” debacle?

A spotted bitch followed them through the camps barking and growling until one of the Lyseni impaled her on a lance and galloped to the front of the column. “I am bearing Kingslayer’s banner,” he shouted, shaking the dead dog above Jaime’s head.

*rolls eyes* Dude, if you’re going to taunt your enemies, at least make your taunts make sense. How the hell is a dead dog anything like a lion?

Jaime saw green flames reaching up into the sky higher than the tallest towers, as burning men screamed in the streets. I have dreamed this dream before. It was almost funny, but there was no one to share the joke.

Hrm. Okay, I’m pretty damn sure that Jaime wasn’t in King’s Landing for that battle, so what is he talking about here? Is he saying he had a prophetic dream of how all that would go down, or is he talking about another battle in which something similar happened? I have Puzzlement.


Chapter 32: Tyrion

What Happens
Tyrion rides with Bronn to the ruins of the harbor, which his father has tasked him with rebuilding since Ser Kevan Lannister’s breakdown in the wake of the loss of one son and the likely loss of the other two. Tyrion wonders where he is supposed to find the money for this project, but thinks that at least his father is giving him something significant to do.

He is in a very bad mood, mostly as a result of the strain of his marriage to Sansa. Somehow the rumor that he has not yet consummated the marriage has gotten out, but Tyrion is more distressed at Sansa’s deepening misery than at the notion that the castle is laughing at him. Their nights together are torture for him, as he realizes that he wants her lust and love both, which he cannot have. He is also somewhat disappointed that Shae is not more upset by his marriage, but thinks to himself that her acceptance is the best he can hope for.

He and Bronn wend their way to a wine sink in a poor part of the city, and Tyrion enters alone to find the singer Symon Silver Tongue. Tyrion hopes to bribe Symon to leave Westeros in order to keep the secret of his liaison with Shae secret, but the singer demands instead that Tyrion rig it so that Symon can be entered into the tournament of singers at Joffrey’s wedding, else he will spill the beans on Shae. Tyrion tells him Bronn will call on him soon to arrange it, and leaves. Once back with Bronn, Tyrion tells him to kill Symon discreetly.

On his return, Tyrion is summoned to Tywin’s chambers, where he finds his father inspecting two magnificent swords, made of Valyrian steel with a curious red hue to the metal. Tywin indicates that one is for Joffrey and the other for “my son,” by which Tyrion knows he means Jaime. Tyrion comments on how there is not even “a dagger for the dwarf,” and Tywin replies he is welcome to take one from Robert’s extensive stash of such. Tyrion reports that the harbor will be enormously expensive to repair, and wonders where he is supposed to get the coin for it, given Littlefinger’s usury and the extravagance of Joffrey’s approaching wedding. Tywin tells him to figure it out or step down as Master of Coin.

Tywin moves on to the topic of why Tyrion has not yet had sex with Sansa. Tyrion tells him it is none of his business how Tyrion conducts his marriage, but Tywin warns him that a marriage which has not been consummated can be annulled. Tyrion changes the subject to Cersei’s wedding, and is gleeful to hear that the Tyrells have refused the match with Willas on the grounds that Cersei is too “used.” Tywin warns him never to speak of the refusal even to Cersei.

Pycelle enters, with a poisonous glare for Tyrion, to report that there is a message from Castle Black saying that wildlings are moving south “in vast numbers,” and that Lord Mormont may be dead. Tywin scoffs at the notion that the raiders can have very large numbers, and refuses the message’s plea to send them more men. He muses, though, that the Watch will need a new Commander, and Pycelle slyly suggests Janos Slynt. Tyrion protests this move strongly, but Tywin ignores him and orders Pycelle to send a message strongly hinting that Slynt should inherit the title. Tyrion reflects that he should have had Slynt and Pycelle both killed just like Symon.

See there, Father? he wanted to shout. See how fast I learn my lessons?

Oh, jeez.

Janos Slynt as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch? That might not be the worst idea I’ve ever heard, but that only proves how many utterly, utterly abysmal ideas I’ve been privy to in my lifetime, fictional or otherwise. Holy crap.

Hopefully, though, the combination of that suggestion with the also spectacularly abysmal decision not to send the Watch more men will inspire the brothers to flip a nice big “Fuck You” bird to Tywin across the board, and this utterly terrible idea will not come to pass. I live in hope. I don’t know why I live in hope regarding this particular series, but hey, it’s something to do.

Besides making horrifically shortsighted strategic decisions, of course, it’s lovely to see that Tywin Lannister is also still striving for that Father Of The Year trophy. It warms the heart, it does, no, for real. *rolls eyes*

The irony of the sword business, by the way, now that Jaime doesn’t actually have a sword hand to wield his so-special gift with anymore, is certainly not lost on me. That’ll be a super-fun reunion, won’t it? “Oh, hey, now you’ve got two ‘deficent’ sons, Dad. Ha ha, SUCK IT.”

(And wow with how much schadenfreude Tywin’s douchebaggery inspires in me, huh. Sheesh.)

And heh, so the Tyrells are striking back for the Sansa business, are they? Refusing the Dowager Queen for their crippled son, my goodness. SCANDAL—or it would be if it gets out, which hey, it probably will. The irony there is that it’s meant to be an insult, and yet Cersei will most likely be relieved—assuming Tywin doesn’t find her someone even worse to marry, of course. I won’t be taking the bet that he won’t find some way to make that happen.

Because Tywin is a right bastard, in case you haven’t noticed. I’m not sure how you couldn’t have noticed by this point without being dead, (or, you know, not reading this series), but I am all about ensuring the spread of TRVTH, you guys. Tywin Lannister = giant tool. Thank you for your attention.

In other news, well. So Sansa and Tyrion’s marriage is apparently going about as well as I expected—which is to say, very, very badly. Sigh.

Someone mentioned in the comments to the last post that it would be well to remember that the Tyrion in the books is not meant to be nearly as handsome as the actor playing him on the HBO series, Peter Dinklage. Which is a useful thing to be reminded of; I’m not watching the series for spoiler-avoidance purposes (something which makes me sad on occasion, but I’ll get to see it someday), but I saw when Dinklage won the Golden Globe and the Emmy, and even if they makeup him to be ugly on the series (which, judging from the clip, they do not appear to do), there’s no denying that he’s still an empirically attractive guy. Which, by the descriptions in the book, Martin most emphatically did not intend Tyrion to actually be. Especially not at this point, where he’s not only deformed but mutilated.

So okay, Tyrion is hideous, physically. It’s still just—a shame.

(It’ll be interesting, when I do get to finally watch the series, to see how they handle Tyrion’s mutilation post-battle, which I don’t think the show has actually gotten to yet.)

And speaking of ambiguous reactions, here we also have Tyrion ordering a man’s death, eh, to protect the secret of Shae. I should probably be appalled about that.

And I am, I think. Mostly because I am not sure how the revelation of Shae represents a threat to Tyrion anymore. Not to buy into the general horribleness of the culture here, but I am pretty damn certain that Tyrion is neither the first married man in Westeros to see whores on the side, nor will he be the last. I understand why Tywin had such a problem with it before, but now that Tyrion is respectably married….

…okay, except for how it’s an open secret that he hasn’t consummated that marriage, never mind.

Still, surely there is some way to blackmail/coerce the singer into leaving, instead of just killing him? I mean, hell, couldn’t Tyrion have the man forcibly captured and tossed on an outgoing ship, instead of having him murdered in cold blood (and rendered down for soup stock, jeez)? Bluh. Not cool.

Unfortunately, though, Tyrion has a kind of terrible point in this chapter, in that his mercy toward Slynt and Pycelle is seriously backfiring on him (and the country) right now. As horrifying as it is to say, there’s no denying that things would be better (or, at least, less sucky) if both of them were dead. And you can’t even say things would only be better for Tyrion himself, because I think we can all agree that Slynt not being in charge during a major wildling incursion into Westeros would be acres better than the alternative, because the alternative is frankly terrifying.

ARGH. Moral dilemmas, they are fired. DO NOT WANT.

So, therefore, I am going to look at completely non-ethically fraught pictures of puppies, and you are going to have a weekend! See you next Friday!


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