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 5 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 8 (“Bran”) and 9 (“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 8: Bran
Most of the household is off hunting, and Bran is excited that they are heading south the next day. He thinks of how he wants to be a member of the Kingsguard when he grows up; he had been fascinated by the two the king had brought with him (Sers Boros and Meryn). He intends to go around saying his goodbyes, but he gets choked up and decides to go climbing instead, leaving his wolf (who he still hasn’t named) behind in the godswood. Bran has been climbing as long as he can remember, and is never afraid of falling, ignoring all his mother’s efforts to dissuade him. He is heading to his favorite place, the broken tower where he likes to feed to crows, when he overhears a man and a woman talking inside the Old Keep, where no one ever goes.
They are discussing Bran’s father becoming the Hand; the woman insists that this puts them in danger, but the man counters that he would far rather have honorable enemies than ambitious ones. The woman points out that his wife is Lady Arryn’s sister, but the man laughs that Lysa is “a frightened cow” who has no proof of anything. The woman goes on that she knows Robert doesn’t love her, and wonders how long it will be before he puts her aside for “some new Lyanna”; the man thinks they’ve done enough talking. Bran realizes he needs to see who they are, and hangs himself upside down to see that the man is blond, and kissing and “wrestling” with the woman, who Bran recognizes as the queen. She sees him and screams, and Bran slips and almost falls, but catches himself on the ledge below the window. The man, who Bran also recognizes, gives Bran his hand and yanks him up on the sill.
“How old are you, boy?”
“Seven,” Bran said, shaking with relief. His fingers had dug deep gouges in the man’s forearm. He let go sheepishly.
The man looked over at the woman. “The things I do for love,” he said with loathing. He gave Bran a shove.
Screaming, Bran went backward out the window into empty air. There was nothing to grab on to. The courtyard rushed up to meet him.
Somewhere off in the distance, a wolf was howling. Crows circled the broken tower, waiting for corn.
Jesus Christ, I… I don’t even know what to say. Except that I really wasn’t expecting to cry this early in the book.
I think I need a minute. Possibly also a drink.
Okay, so… uh, if I had Jaime Lannister in front of me and a gun in my hand right now, I would probably be going to jail. It is extremely fortunate for me (and for him, I suppose) that he is a fictional character.
A fucking incestuous murdering ASSHOLE BASTARD of a fictional character who deserves to have his fictional nuts torn off and fed to the fictional crows instead of (fictional) corn. WHILE HE WATCHES. FICTIONALLY.
Jesus. Oh, Bran, I’m so sorry.
(He never even got to name his wolf…)
Everything I thought I was going to say about this chapter is completely exploded. I was all reading the first part, enjoying how much Bran was enjoying his climbing, and thinking of how when I was young I used to love crazy climbing stunts too, even if I didn’t have a vast ancient fortress to do them in, and thinking what a cool little kid he was, Jesus you are a SADIST, George R.R. Martin, and then… that. God.
Okay, I’m going to have to focus on the politics here or this entire post is just going to be me cursing helplessly and getting upset all over again.
So… incest! Twincest, no less! DELIGHTFUL. That is not sick and twisted at all, no sirree. Ye gods.
Though I have to say, I’m honestly not even that shocked—not about that part of it, anyway. I read somewhere once that incest between twins is all about narcissism—because it’s basically like having sex with yourself, you see. And while I have no idea if there’s any factual basis to that in the real world, it fits perfectly with what I know so far about Cersei and Jaime, who (I’m utterly certain) think that no one else in the world could possibly be anywhere near good enough for them.
Also, there’s just no way someone can be capable of shoving a seven-year-old off a window ledge (Jesus) without being either psychotic, or so incredibly egocentric as to render the lives of everyone around you meaningless, except in how their lives (or the loss of them) affect your own. And I think Jaime Lannister is a lot of things, most of those things being, shall we say, somewhat uncomplimentary—but I don’t think he’s crazy.
I also don’t think there’s much chance he’s going to be suddenly eaten by a grizzly in the next chapter, either. Which SUCKS.
Chapter 9: Tyrion
The wolf howling is making Tyrion uneasy. He reminds the septon, Chayle, to return the books he’s borrowed, and heads out for breakfast. On the way, he overhears Prince Joffrey and his bodyguard, Sandor Clegane (called “the Hound”), discussing Bran. Clegane wishes the boy would hurry up and die, but Joffrey is more annoyed that his wolf won’t shut up. Clegane offers to kill it for him, which delights Joffrey. Tyrion interrupts to point out that the Starks would be likely to notice that. Clegane mocks him, but Tyrion ignores him to tell Joffrey he needs to go pay his respects to the Starks. Joffrey replies that the Stark boy is nothing to him, and Tyrion slaps him, twice, and orders Joffrey to do as he’s told. Sniveling, Joffrey runs off; Clegane remarks threateningly that the prince won’t forget that, and Tyrion replies that he hopes he doesn’t.
He breakfasts with his brother and sister and the royal children. Cersei tells him Robert is still with the Starks, having “taken their sorrow deeply to heart.” Tommen asks after Bran, and Tyrion replies that there is no change, but that the maester found that a hopeful sign, and that the boy might yet live. He notes the quick glance between Cersei and Jaime at his words. Myrcella asks if Bran will get better; Tyrion replies that his back is broken and his legs shattered, so Bran may live, but he will never walk again. He remarks that he would swear the wolf’s howls are helping keep him alive in some way. Cersei shudders and says she won’t let those things come south, but Jaime doesn’t think she’ll win that fight. Tyrion then informs them of his decision to go north to the Wall with Jon and Benjen, in order to “stand on top of the Wall and piss off the edge of the world.” Cersei storms out, children in tow. Jaime comments that if he were Eddard he would not let his child live in such misery, as a grotesque cripple; on behalf of “grotesques,” Tyrion begs to differ. He hopes the boy does live, as he is very interested to hear what he has to say.
His brother’s smile curdled like sour milk. “Tyrion, my sweet brother,” he said darkly, “there are times when you give me cause to wonder whose side you are on.”
Tyrion’s mouth was full of bread and fish. He took a swallow of strong black beer to wash it all down, and grinned up wolfishly at Jaime, “Why, Jaime, my sweet brother,” he said, “you wound me. You know how much I love my family.”
So, first of all, wow. Bran lived? I totally thought he was dead.
Second of all… God, I don’t know but that it makes things even worse. While of course Jaime’s opinion that he should be “put out of his misery” is bullshit even without his ulterior motive for saying it, being a paraplegic in this world… Man. Well, in any world, really, but especially this one.
Ugh, I don’t want to think about it anymore, that poor boy. The unfairness of it, an innocent child’s life destroyed for the sake of ambition, is simply monstrous. The only thing I can hope for here, I guess, is that Bran recovers enough to point the finger at Mr. and Mrs. Severely Need To Be Mauled By Diseased Bears, but I’m not holding my breath that justice will be served, frankly. Certainly not this early on, anyway.
Meanwhile Tyrion continues to be cool, in a kind of unbalanced and deeply bitter way. Judging from this POV, he’s the kind of character, I would venture to guess, who could very easily tilt either way on the “Hero/Villain” seesaw.
So far I’m on board with rooting for him, though. I’m not sure what his game is yet (though there’s no doubt he has one), but anything that involves smacking around a Lannister is JUST FINE with me right now. I LOL’d, seriously.
(Yes, I know Joffrey is technically a Baratheon, but whatever. If we’re going strictly by personality, he’s a goddamn Lannister through and through, and you know that’s what he considers himself anyway. Bah.)
I initially had a little bit of hope, on reading this chapter, that Tyrion will figure out what happened with Bran and expose the deed even if Bran can’t. But then again, there’s this:
There was very little that Jaime took seriously. Tyrion knew that about his brother, and forgave it. During all the terrible long years of his childhood, only Jaime had ever shown him the smallest measure of affection or respect, and for that Tyrion was willing to forgive him most anything.
Aaand that is what we in the business call your basic Achilles heel. Crap.
Not sure what to make of Tyrion’s remarks about Bran’s wolf. On the one hand, the direwolves are about the only even vaguely magical-like things we’ve seen in this remarkably magic-free epic fantasy so far (with the exception of the frozen zombie dudes in the Prologue, of course), so maybe there’s some basis to it. On the other hand, Tyrion is clearly having a great deal of fun fucking with his siblings re: Bran here, so he could just be making the whole thing up. Could go either way. We’ll see, I guess.
But not until next time, Gadget, next time! Have a lovely weekend, and we’ll be back with more next Friday!