Jul 22 2011 2:21pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 17

A Read of Ice and Fire by Leigh ButlerWelcome 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 17 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 33 (“Eddard”) and 34 (“Catelyn”).

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 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 33: Eddard

What Happens
Ned pleads with Robert to reconsider his intention to kill Daenerys, now that Varys has brought them the news (via Jorah Mormont) that she is pregnant. Robert raves that he warned Ned of the danger of leaving her and her brother alive, and Ned replies that Robert will dishonor himself forever if he does this. He points out that even if the child is born a boy and alive, the Dothraki still fear the sea, and the child will not be a threat for years. Varys counters that sometimes vile things must be done to protect a realm, and Renly doesn’t see what the big deal is. Ned asks if the years have “unmanned” Robert so that he fears an unborn child, and Robert warns him to watch himself.

Ser Barristan declares himself on Ned’s side in this. Pycelle gives a speech preemptively mourning all those who would be killed if war came again, and votes in favor of killing the girl. Littlefinger yawns and opines that when you’re in bed with an ugly woman, you might as well get it over with (meaning he agrees with Robert). Robert declares the matter settled, and they begin to discuss how best to do it. Varys suggests poison, specifically Tears of Lys, which makes Pycelle look at him suspiciously. Ned stands and announces he will not be part of this. Robert is disbelieving for a moment, then tells Ned that he’ll do it, or Robert will find a Hand who will. Ned removes his badge, and tells Robert sadly that he’d thought Robert a better man than this. Enraged, Robert shouts at him to get out, and never show his face to Robert again, or he’ll have Ned’s head on a spike.

Ned leaves and summons his steward Poole, and tells him they are returning to Winterfell. Poole says it will take a fortnight to arrange, but Ned is not sure they have that long, especially once the news about Catelyn and the Imp comes to Robert’s (and Cersei’s) attention. He tells Poole that he and his daughters will go on ahead. Poole leaves, and Ned thinks of how he is glad to be returning home, but also angered that so much is left undone, including the matter of Arryn’s murder, and how Robert et al will continue to botch matters without him. It occurs to him that he could go by sea, and stop on the way to talk to Stannis Baratheon, who has yet to respond to Ned’s inquiries, though he wonders if perhaps it would be better to leave the matter alone.

Littlefinger comes to see him, and Ned tells him flatly that he is not interested in talking to him. Littlefinger protests that he arranged things so that the assassination attempt on Daenerys is very likely to fail, but Ned is skeptical of his altruism in this. Littlefinger is amused, and Ned asks if he finds murder so funny.

“It’s not murder I find amusing, Lord Stark, it’s you. You rule like a man dancing on rotten ice. I daresay you will make a noble splash. I believe I heard the first crack this morning.”

He asks if Ned plans to return to Winterfell soon, and Ned confirms it, and asks why he wants to know. Littlefinger replies that he can take Ned to the brothel that Jory has been searching for, tonight.

Aw, crap.

Jeez, Ned. While I totally sympathize with your position here, have you ever even heard the word “diplomacy”? You couldn’t pull your punches even a little? I might be the pot calling the kettle black here re: blunt speaking, but ye gods and little fishes.

And plus, you know, I’m generally not speaking to people who can say they’ll put my head on a spike, and not be speaking metaphorically. Self-preservation, Ned, it’s a thing you should have, look into it please. Sooner would be better than later!

Also, Robert, you are a douche. Like, seriously a douche, as in Massengill is about to sue you for patent infringement, that’s how much of a douche you are. YOU ARE THIS KINGDOM’S NOT SO FRESH FEELING, ROBERT. God.

(For those who miss the “read more” cut language: Did you know that the S.E. Massengill Company accidentally poisoned over 100 people in 1937, and that this was directly responsible for the passage of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act a year later? I DID NOT.)

Actually, pretty much everyone on that council except for Ned and Barristan is a douche. Including Renly, who I’d had higher hopes for. That’ll show me!

By the way, this isn’t even to say I think Robert is necessarily wrong that Dany is a threat to him. Not because she’s going to have a kid, but because she’s going to hatch herself some dragons Real Soon Now, though of course no one on the council is in a position to actually know that (and indeed, Dany isn’t yet in a position to know that). That said, planning the assassination of a fourteen-year-old pregnant girl is disgusting and wrong, full stop, and if that’s the only way you can hold onto your kingdom then maybe you don’t deserve to have that kingdom, ROBERT. So, still on Ned’s side even if I think he’s wrong about the lack of threat there.

Little bit of subtle intrigue here, in that I’m pretty sure Varys mentioned the name of the poison that killed Arryn just to see what reactions he would get, and Pycelle bit. Hmmmmmmm. And no one else did. Hmmmmmm.

And for the love of God, Ned, please don’t tell that asshole Littlefinger ANYTHING more about your travel plans, ever. And don’t go to that brothel! And don’t go see Stannis! Just get the hell out! Go, go!

…He’s so not going to listen to me, is he. Goddammit.


Chapter 34: Catelyn

What Happens
Catelyn’s party has lost six men total by the time they reach the Vale, where they are met by Ser Donnel Waynwood, who tells her the clansmen’s raids have grown bolder since Lord Arryn’s death. They are greeted at the Bloody Gate by Catelyn’s uncle, Brynden Tully; they are mutually delighted to see each other. Brynden tells her that it will take two days to reach the Eyrie from here, but Rodrik apologizes to Catelyn that he can go no further. Catelyn proposes she and Tyrion go on without the rest of her party, but the singer Marillion asks to go as well, and when she consents the sellsword Bronn announces he will come too. Catelyn is uneasy about this considering how close he and the Imp had grown on the journey, but agrees.

As they travel, Catelyn tells Brynden the whole story. He comments that her father (his brother), Hoster Tully, must be told, as Riverrun lies directly in the path between the Lannisters and Winterfell; Catelyn agrees, and asks for the mood in the Vale. Brynden tells her the people are angry about the insult of Jaime Lannister taking the title of Warden, and Lysa is not the only one who suspects Jon’s death was not natural. Brynden goes on that the boy, Robert, is a problem, though: sickly and “prone to weep if you take his dolls away.” Many think Lysa should marry again, but Brynden thinks she is only toying with her suitors, intending to rule herself until Robert comes of age. Catelyn doesn’t see what’s wrong with that, but Brynden tells her Lysa is not Catelyn. He tells her she may find her sister much changed from what she remembers.

“Your sister is afraid, child, and the Lannisters are what she fears most. She ran to the Vale, stealing away from the Red Keep like a thief in the night, and all to snatch her son out of the lion’s mouth . . . and now you have brought the lion to her door.”

In chains, Catelyn replies, but it doesn’t look so to Brynden. Catelyn insists Lysa would want him brought to justice as much as she, but Brynden only smiles wearily. They reach the foot of the mountain upon which the Eyrie perches by nightfall; Tyrion tells them that he would rather they kill him now than make him climb that trail in the dark, but Brynden assures him they will wait until dawn. However, they are met by Lord Nestor Royce, High Steward of the Vale, who tells Catelyn that Lysa has ordered her to precede the rest of the party up to the keep, that night.

Catelyn and her guide, a bastard girl named Mya Stone, travel all that night up the tortuous trail to the Eyrie; at one point Mya has to lead Catelyn across a three-foot-wide shelf of trail with her eyes closed. At last they reach the Eyrie, where Catelyn is escorted to Lysa, who greets Catelyn warmly, but the moment they are alone demands to know what Catelyn was thinking to bring Tyrion here, and “drag us into your quarrels with the Lannisters.” Catelyn is incredulous, and points out that Lysa was the one who sent the letter saying that the Lannisters had murdered her husband.

“To warn you, so you could stay away from them! I never meant to fight them! Gods, Cat, do you know what you’ve done?”

They are interrupted by young Robert, who Catelyn notes is indeed very sickly. Lysa fusses over him, and when Catelyn tries to resume their discussion Lysa yells at her not to upset the baby, and begins breastfeeding him. Lysa insists they are safe here, and Catelyn tells her she is a fool to think so, but Lysa doesn’t listen. She wonders out loud what to do with Tyrion, and Robert suggests they “make him fly.” Lysa says that perhaps they will.


Okay, so before I shot my mouth off about this I went and did some research online, because I know this is a topic that tends to throw people into tizzies of the highest order of tizziness, and not being a mother myself blah blah blah. And, as a result of what I’ve read I’m softening my original opinion, which was that if the kid is old enough to ask for it, he’s too old to breastfeed.

The problem with that, as several sources pointed out, is that some kids start talking as early as five or six months. (I did myself, according to my mother.) And the World Health Organization as well as a number of other reputable sources recommend that six months is the bare minimum length of time that babies should be breastfed, and that a year is better, and that it’s perfectly fine to breastfeed the kid for up to two years or even longer.

So, okay, fine. I don’t think this is ironclad must-be-followed policy for every baby ever in the world, obviously, but I’m willing to take it as a general baseline guide for Normal and Sane breastfeeding habits.

However. Six years old, and still nursing? NO.

I’m gonna say, no. That’s too long. That is, in fact, ridiculous. I found sources which claimed that nursing up to seven years is okay, but I am absolutely balking at that, because hell to the no. That is like fifty kinds of wrong. Maybe basing it on when your kid can talk is not a good barometer, but I’m going to go ahead and say that if your kid can ride a bike, there should be no more nursing. Sheesh.

That said, this scene actually somewhat disgusted me for reasons which perhaps are not the ones the author intended. Because while I certainly agree that young Robert there should not be breastfeeding anymore, and I also agree that there is a serious problem presented by Lysa being the pseudo-medieval equivalent of a helicopter parent, I find the implied connection between Robert being “a mama’s boy” and his physical sickliness, not to mention his heavily implied “effeminate” (read: weak) qualities (oh, he likes dolls, does he), to be cliché-laden and sexist.

I also think that no one will find my opinion on this to be controversial in any way whatsoever.

Ha! I crack myself up.

And mind you, just to be clear I am not being critical of the attitudes of the characters, as such, because them being sexist is perfectly consistent with the world we’re working with here, but rather I am being critical of the (as I read it) inherent implication by the author that the characters are right.

Because while I will totally give you that Lysa’s overbearing and smothering mothering (wow, I didn’t even mean to make that rhyme) is going to seriously mess with that kid’s ability to find his own backbone, the idea that her behavior is responsible for his physical ailments is clearly ridiculous when viewed logically. And yet I get the distinct impression that that is the conclusion the reader is meant to draw.

And… eh, well. I should probably let this play out for a bit before I make any definitive calls on it. But this is what jumped out at me at first reading, and so you have it. But in any case, Lysa’s turned out to be quite the disappointment. I was so looking forward to meeting her, too. Grump.

Seven towers, Ned had told her, like white daggers thrust into the belly of the sky, so high you can stand on the parapets and look down on the clouds.

The description of the Eyrie (and the path that led up to it) was pretty damn crazy, and again makes me wonder about the practicality of Martin’s approach to architecture. I mean, keeping that place supplied must be an absolute nightmare. And sure, no army may be able to breach it (though I wouldn’t lay money on that, personally), but what’s to stop besiegers from simply camping at the foot of the mountain and starving them all to death? If you take the Moon Gates or whatever they were called, the keep above is doomed eventually anyway, unless there’s something about the place I don’t know. Which, of course, is completely possible.

Tyrion is totally planning something with Bronn. And I totally can’t decide if I’m in favor of this or not.

What I’d be most in favor of, of course, is someone finding evidence to satisfactorily clear Tyrion in Catelyn’s eyes. But I’m not holding my breath on that one.

[Lysa:] “Isn’t he beautiful? And strong too, don’t you believe the things you hear. Jon knew. The seed is strong, he told me. His last words. He kept saying Robert’s name, and he grabbed my arm so hard he left marks. Tell them, the seed is strong. His seed. He wanted everyone to know what a good strong boy my baby was going to be.”

Yeah, I’m pretty sure Jon wasn’t talking about Robert Jr. there, kiddo. This obviously has something to do with Gendry and the whole “bastard” mystery that Ned is risking his goddamn stupid life to look into, but I’m still not getting it, mainly because I still can’t come up with a reason why Robert having bastards around should matter to anyone. Yeah, Robert’s seed is strong, obviously; my question is, so frickin’ what?

I’m sure I’ll have lots of fun kicking myself for being an idiot on this matter later.

But you can do it now! Just not here, over on the spoiler thread. Have a great weekend, O my peeps, and I’ll catch you next week!

Debbi Chambers
1. dchambers59
I suspect it will take only a teensy, tiny nudge to flip Lysa over the edge...
Debbi Chambers
2. dchambers59
(Oops...double post!)
3. Kadere
Hahaha! This series is about to get so insanly fun!

As for your comment about Robert's ailments being given to him by his mother's behavior, I don't think that's GRRM's intent. Robert's ailments are because he's ill, but the characters would see it as caused by Lysa's behavior and so that's how you read it. Martin writes VERY much in the heads of his characters so that readers see things the way the characters do them, but that's not to mean that Martin agrees with his characters. Anyone who knows anything about genes, and epilepsy knows that it's not a mother's smothering that causes it. You have to take what YOU know prior to reading and couple it with what the characters think.

But I totally agree on the breast feeding at age 6. Creepy.
Joseph Kingsmill
4. JFKingsmill16
Young Robert's condition was not caused by Lyssa's mothering. She has had MANY miscarriges and when she finally gave birth to a son he was sickly. Part of her "craziness" stems from going through that whole process.

His mental condition seems to stem from how she has smothered and protected him from the world because of those miscarriges.
5. Staar84
I could be wrong because it's been awhile since I read GoT, but I understood the kid's physical weakness as the reason Lysa was so overbearing, not vise versa. And I imagine that if you're six and you're only drinking breast milk and not eating anything else that you're not getting all of the nutrients you need, which will just make any ailments worse.
6. Megaduck
[i]I find the implied connection between Robert being “a mama’s boy” and his physical sickliness, not to mention his heavily implied “effeminate” (read: weak) qualities (oh, he likes dolls, does he), to be cliché-laden and sexist.

I didn't find this sexist because I didn't see the dolls as Effeminate untill you pointed it out. I was thinking it was more emphasis that he is acting way to young for his age.

Incidentally, the fact that it's a doll isn't the problem from what I've been reading about medieval dolls. It's the fact that it's a Rag doll that's the issue. At his age he should have an articulated "Poppet" doll. (The term Doll is itself anachronistic, what they thought of as dolls we would more likely call puppets)

And now I have learned more than I ever really wanted to know about the history of dolls in the middle ages. Thanks Leigh!
7. shadeedge
Yeah, my thoughts on reading this bit of the book for the first time were "he's sickly, ergo the overparenting" rather than the other way around. It just seemed more logical (not that logic is necessarily called for) that way.
Kyle Day
8. gato
As far as the assassination plot on Dany goes, I don't think it's as much of a douche-y thing to do coming from Robert's point of view. I personally don't like it (not just because Dany is one of my favorite characters so far), but if you're a king with a tenuous hold on your throne (and sanity, apparently, judging from his mood swings here) then assassinating would-be contenders to your throne doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

I was also really disappointed to meet Lysa. Her smothering mothering, as you put it, almost made me break out in hives. Just from this first meeting I kind of get the idea that good King Robert isn't the only one who is slightly unhinged, either.

Also, I agree with Staar84@5 (and the other two commenters who posted between my writing and posting of this response) and don't think that the boy's weakness is caused by her mothering, but that the reverse is true.
Kate Nepveu
9. katenepveu
Staar84 @ #5: Is it textual that he's six and _only_ drinking breast milk? Because that's utterly ridiculous and completely unbelievable.

(Dear Leigh, thank you for having done research before commenting on breastfeeding.)
10. Lurking Canadian
I can't be the only one now hoping for a scene in which Sansa says to Cersei, "Your Grace, sometimes I just don't feel fresh, even after the servants bathe me."
11. andNowMyWatchBegins
Yeah my thoughs on the whole sickly child is that it it is seen to come from having a child at a much older age. Jon was 60 ish when he had wee Robert which implies that old genes are bad and not because he is a mummy's boy.

'least thats how I saw it
12. ryamano
Regarding playing with dolls, this comes from knowledge farther in the series, but Robert Arryn doesn't play with "girly" dolls (not that we see at least). He plays with a knight-doll. Actually, all the dolls we see in the series that I can remember are knight-dolls. Which would be the equivalent of a GI Joe action figure to us in our modern world.

Just to make the point that Robert is not actually being described as effeminate, but as childish (more childish than he should be at that age).
13. Vazkor
Hi Leigh,

Not saying you're wrong on the kid's case. However, it seemed clear to me that his physical frailty (mostly) caused Lysa's behavior, or rather triggered her own issues, not the reverse.

- long time lurker Vazkor
14. Dan Someone
I never got the impression that Martin was putting the blame for Robert's sickliness on Lysa's parenting techniques. Just the opposite: Robert was a sickly kid, and his frailty (physical and mental) had unbalanced Lysa for some time - probably since he was a very young child. My guess is that Lysa has been in full-on whackadoodle sMother mode for years. Her husband's death, which she believed to be caused by the Lannisters, simply exacerbated her crazy overprotectiveness into actual paranoia.
Vincent Lane
15. Aegnor
This actually happened with my uncle. When he was a kid he was hit with a baseball and had a seizure. He had seizures accasionally as a child. Due to this, my grandmother continually over-mothered him. He would routinely fake seizures to escape doing chores. He grew up into a lazy, imature, narsasistic adult who went whining to his mother when things didn't go his way, even as a 50+ year old. My father, thankfully didn't get that over-mothering and turned out like a normal human being.

It doesn't have anything to do with being effeminent, just way to immature and narsisistic.
16. shadeedge
Forgot to say; the thing with the dolls seemed more to me a way to say that he's playing indoors, because of the overparenting. As opposed to other kids like Bran who (if not at this age exactly) would be expected to be outside learning how to fight, or climbing, or whatever.
Iain Cupples
17. NumberNone
@kate: no, that's not textual. In fact, in later appearances it's clear that Robert does eat normally for a child his age in addition to being breast-fed.
18. carolynh
I love the idea of the Aerie, this monstrous high castle set up on the cliffs. Realistically, it doesn't work as well. Climbing up a wicked path all night long? Who does that? Old people will be trapped in that place. (and then where do they bury them? Out the Moon Door?) Kids never get to play in the grass. Realistically, the place is a nightmare. But the idea of it was way cool.

I kept hoping Ned will hurry up and leave already. Leave all the junk. Leave the clothes and the retainers and the armor. Find three horses and ride hard to the north. Find a boat that's lifting anchor in an hour. Just leave!
19. Paulie
Love the re-read. I couldn't wait till you got to the part about breast-feeding at age 6!! I disagree with you about the sickliness being a result of mom's smothering. I think it's a part of the overall picture of young Robert being unfit to rule. I also think the fact that he is sick and "girlie" is the reason mom is hovering real close. If he was more "manly", I don't think Lysa would be as smothering.
I can't agree with you more on the breast feeding at age 6 being a "no!" though.
I can't wait to see your reaction on future sure to pad the desk liberally for the reveal on what the whole "the seed is strong" means. :)
Stefan Mitev
20. Bergmaniac
This probably be an unpopular opinion, but I think Robert's idea to kill Dany had a lot of merit. Yes, she's almost a child and pregnant, but if you can prevent with one murder a full scale invasion which would lead to thousands of deaths - is it wrong to do it? I don't think so. Especially in a society where the capital punishment is commonplace.

Of course, it's a lot more complicated in this case, for example if the assassination is successful but Drogo learns who ordered it, he'd probably still invade because he'd be pissed off and would want vengeance for his wife and child. But still, I wouldn't call Robert a monster for that idea - he's a kIng and has to make tough choices. His motives were questionable, with the whole extreme Targaryen hatred due to Rhaegar, but still...

As for Sweetrobyn - I think he was weak from birth and wouldn't have become strong in any case, but his mother's extreme type of care made it worse. But his mother wasn't the decisive factor for his physical problems.

The Eyrie makes very little sense logically, but it's cool, so I am willing to overllok that. ;)
Kat Blom
21. pro_star
I am holding off until we have a few more chapters from that POV before I comment on mini-Rob, for fear of spoilers.

I always speculated his sickliness to be made worse by The Crazy, not entirely caused by The Crazy.
lake sidey
22. lakesidey
In extenuation of GRRM regarding dolls:

This is what, a few chapters ago, Sandor had to say about himself, aged 6 or 7: "I don’t remember what I got, but it was Gregor’s gift I wanted. A wooden knight, all painted up, every joint pegged separate and fixed with strings, so you could make him fight."

Now I don't see anyone thinking of Sandor as effeminate (not in the book, I mean, who'd dare?.... but even among us readers) so I don't think just the "wanting to play with dolls" bit is a problem. I suspect Brynden is usnig that as a euphemism for the other issues he can't bring himself to talk about - the breastfeeding (something I guess most guys on here would have equal levels of awkwardness about in his place)

The point is little Robert wants to do that to the exclusion of everything else, except breast-feeding I suppose, (such as, I don't know, play with other kids his age, or something?) and cries when his dolls are taken away (this is a society where Rickon is expected to be "strong and brave" at age 4, because he's a Stark and somewhere in the line of succession. And Bran is old enough to go see an execution. Rob Arryn is technically Lord of the Vale and his mom intends he should be the Warden of the East. His behaviour is....not encouraging?)

I remember being much more freaked out by this kid than by Joffrey at that point in the book. And by his mom.

lake sidey
23. lakesidey
@12 ryamano: No, the doll he has in this chapter isn't a knight: "Robert Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie, stood in the doorway, clutching a ragged cloth doll and looking at them with large eyes"

But of course, I agree with your main point.

(Edited to remove the evidence of my senility, as pointed out by #33)

24. Dedic8ed
Re: the eyrie:
One of the things I loved about the TV series was the intro, and how it would change from week to week to show the architecture of new places that were being introduced (e.g., the Twins, the Eyrie). If you get a chance, take a look at the intro from the two episodes that featured it for a rather interesting take on the architecture.

Re: mother's milk:
Through three readings I never really found myself that disturbed over the breast-feeding in the book, but after seeing it (accurately) portrayed in the series... yeah, NO is about right. But I also find it interesting for a child who has been so pampered and smothered that he has such a violent streak, in that his first thought about Tyrion was a desire to "make him fly"... hardly a spoiler what this means when you live on a castle with ludicrous cliffs on every side.
Mari Ness
25. MariCats
The strong impression I got from the text was that Lysa Arryn continues to breastfeed and overindulge her son because he's sickly, not the other way around. The illness is a real one, and she's terrified of losing the only child she managed to give birth to, so terrified that it's tipped her over into severe paranoia and other issues.

Plus, I'm inclined to be on her side regarding Catelyn's decision to bring Tyrion here. I'm not fond of Lysa Arryn at all and think that in general her grip on reality is not that tight, but she's right in this case.
tatiana deCarillion
26. decarillion
The relationship that Lysa has with Robert is symbiotic, in a negative way (I'm sure there's a word for that, but I'm not finding one, atm).

Lysa overbears, Robert wants her attention, so Lysa overbears, etc.

While her behavior may not be responsible for causing his illness, you can be sure that it is responsible for exacerbating it.

Also, breastfeeding a six-year old? with teeth? Absolutely not. In fact, I say UGH.
27. SunnyReads
"...but I’m still not getting it, mainly because I still can’t come up with a reason why Robert having bastards around should matter to anyone. Yeah, Robert’s seed is strong, obviously; my question is, so frickin’ what?"

Leigh, I so totally cannot wait for the day when you do "get it," because that day will be all kinds of awesome!!
Maiane Bakroeva
28. Isilel
@22 Lakesidey:

Very true and not only is Sandor not in the least effeminate, but the gift of a knight doll was given to his 12-year-old brother.

Anyway, little Robert Arryn is Jon's only living child by his 3 wives, nor did he have any bastards. There was something wrong with him, in that area.
Lysa's issues are in great part caused by miscarriages, stillbirths and little Robert's precarious health.
29. laocoon68
I reread this book a long time ago, but I think my initial thought after reading this chapter was Lysa had, along with her other problems, some sort of Munchausen by proxy. I was beginning to realize that this was not your normal fantasy and decided not to rule anyone out as a suspect in Arryn's death, including his wife. So if she, at least in my mind, be responsible for killing her husband, why not keep the child purposely ill?
30. benjicat
Could Jon Arryn have been more vague with that dying statement?? I know it furthers the plot along but one would think that when you were dying you could just go ahead and say directly what you meant.
31. Wortmauer
Wow, that was quick, you guys said just about all the useful things already. So, here's a big "ditto that" on a lot of stuff, but maybe a tiny bit of new content too:

- Robert's health problems were a factor in Lysa's parenting style, not vice versa. Jon Arryn doesn't seem to have been complicit. He arranged to foster the boy at Casterly Rock, right? He surely knew it was a good idea to get Robert away from his mom for awhile. That plan fell through when he died, and obviously not only because Lysa mistrusts the Lannisters.

- Yeah, "The seed is strong" wasn't about Jon Arryn's son. That's pretty much a gimme. Only a mother, as they say, could think otherwise.

- I like Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully. GRRM has a way with nicknames. Littlefinger, the Hound, the Knight of Flowers, the Blackfish, the Imp, the Mountain That Rides, the Old Bear. Anyway, it takes a bit of cheek for Brynden to take the Leaping Trout of Tully, turn it black, and use it as a personal sigil, embracing his role as the brother who doesn't quite fit in.

- Yep, the Eyrie is an awesome fortress, but pretty impractical. But as for supplies, it's not all mules:
Brynden smiled. "Beyond that, the path is too steep even for mules. We ascend on foot the rest of the way. Or perchance you'd prefer to ride a basket. The Eyrie clings to the mountain directly above Sky, and in its cellars are six great winches with long iron chains to draw supplies up from below. If you prefer, my lord of Lannister, I can arrange for you to ride up with the bread and beer and apples."

The dwarf gave a bark of laughter. "Would that I were a pumpkin," he said. "Alas, my lord father would no doubt be most chagrined if his son of Lannister went to his fate like a load of turnips. If you ascend on foot, I fear I must do the same. We Lannisters do have a certain pride."
(I do love Tyrion's way with words. Have I said that before?) It's unclear to me whether the hoists just go down to Sky, the third watchtower, or if they actually extend all the way down the mountain. Actually, probably not, the chains would be way too heavy if they were that long. That would be ridiculous, like a hand-winched elevator cage to ascend a 700-foot wall. (:

- Speaking of the ascent, poor Mya Stone. I like her, with the optimism and shining eyes of a teenager, but competent and secure in her lot. Catelyn's reflection that Mya would never get to marry her beau because he has noble blood and she's a bastard made me sad. Come to think of it, I like Gendry, too, with his competence and humility. And everyone loves Jon Snow (except Ser Alliser Thorne). Yay for bastards.

- Poor Lysa, though. Politically married off to a man old enough to be her father, and apparently they never really came to love each other. Several miscarriages, then a sickly son, then widowed in her 30s. And now look at her:
It had been five years, in truth; five cruel years, for Lysa. They had taken their toll. Her sister was two years the younger, yet she looked older now. Shorter than Catelyn, Lysa had grown thick of body, pale and puffy of face. She had the blue eyes of the Tullys, but hers were pale and watery, never still. Her small mouth had turned petulant. ... All that remained of her sister's beauty was the great fall of thick auburn hair that cascaded to her waist.
So, yeah, she's definitely let herself go. And not in an eat-drink-and-be-merry sense like King Robert. No, she's just white trash. I swear, she walks with a cane, smokes, and has a handicap parking tag.
Kate Nepveu
32. katenepveu
NumberNone @ #17: thanks.

(Also, generally: teeth are not an intrinsic dealbreaker in breastfeeding, which makes sense when you consider timelines; first tooth is usually around 6 months-ish, and for very large periods of human existence, it would not be practical or desirable to feed an infant in another fashion at that point.)
someone else
33. Naraoia
lakesidey @23:

Also, we have come across non-knightly dolls earlier - I believe Ned bought one for Sansa (which she claimed to be too old for).

Wasn't that only in the TV series? *is confused*
Sky Thibedeau
34. SkylarkThibedeau
I was under the impression that Sweet Robin was a sickly child suffering from some disorder like Polycythemia Purpura which caused his seizures and sickliness. As her only living child I think Lyssa spoils him and gives into him as she is afraid he might die.

As for Ned Stark. I remember agreeing with you. Go. Get the Girls. Run find Cat.
35. Fredweena
I have no idea if it's important, or if it clarified later, but did anyone else, upon meeting Mya Stone, immediately think she was Roberts first child?
Kevin Maroney
36. womzilla
In regards the question of whether Robert "deserves" to rule the Seven Kingdoms, I once again quote Gore Vidal, in a statement which could well serve as epigraph to the entire series but which seems particularly appropriate here:

"Power is not a toy we give to good children."

Robert is a better king than the later Targareans were. Keeping the Seven Kingdoms from the heirs of Aerys the Mad is, in fact, a good thing, and the more we see of the Targareans, the more clear that becomes. The fact that Ned scruples at killing children is, in fact, not an unalloyed good, but to say more would necessitate spoilers.
37. sixthlight
No, she's just white trash. I swear, she walks with a cane, smokes, and has a handicap parking tag.

Because, uh, physical disabilities make you trashy? Seriously, dude?

I've always felt really sorry for Lysa. I mean, she's not a great person, but life has dealt her a series of fairly harsh blows, and she gets no sympathy from anyone, characters or readers. Martin is very good at illustrating how women are victimised in different and subtle ways by patriarchy. It's just not all that comfortable to read, sometimes.
Kat Blom
38. pro_star
sixthlight - it could mean the overly obese but too lazy to walk but gets the doctor to write them a handicap tag? I don't think the OP meant it that harshly. (or at least I hope not)

...although the walks with a cane kinda trumps my rose coloured glasses argument....
39. Hatgirl
I love Leigh's recaps. I love yelling "Just you wait!", "You are so wrong", "You are so right!" at my computer screen as I read through them....

... anyway, are any of the readers of this thread going to TitanCon in Belfast, Ireland in September? GRRM is going to be there and many of the stars of the TV show (film schedule permitting). And there's going to be a bus tour of the filming locations used and a medievel feast in "Winterfell" (Castle Ward).

I'm going to be there. With bells on (no actual bells will be worn).
Hugh Arai
40. HArai
decarillion@26: You might be looking for "codependent".
41. Joel Prophet
Yeah, I’m pretty sure Jon wasn’t talking about Robert Jr. there, kiddo. This obviously has something to do with Gendry and the whole “bastard” mystery that Ned is risking his goddamn stupid life to look into, but I’m still not getting it, mainly because I still can’t come up with a reason why Robert having bastards around should matter to anyone. Yeah, Robert’s seed is strong, obviously; my question is, so frickin’ what?

I'm reminded of a Paul Simon song with the line "All the crap I learned in High School".

LOL You were told it would be important one day....

Joel (a former HS teacher)
42. Joel Prophet
Edd take the first stage out of Dodge!!!

I like Edd a lot as a character, but he is holding the "idiot ball" at this point....I fear he will not put it down anytime soon.

lake sidey
43. lakesidey
@33 Naraoia: Oops, you're right! My bad, was doing my re-read along with the series and somehow that scene crossed over in my head.

Also @28 Isilel: (Mild spoiler, not very relevant, but whited out anyway) (If I recall correctly, Jon Arryn did have a 'normal' son from an earlier marriage - he was killed by Aerys. Can't find the reference)

44. JoeNotCharles
I don't think it's a spoiler at this point to say that one of the themes this series keeps coming back to is that of parenting - how parents raise their kids and how they deal with disappointment. One of Catelyn's sons become crippled - how does she handle that? Her husband comes home with a son that's not hers and expects him to be raised in the household - how does she handle that? Lysa's only son is sickly and epileptic - how does she handle that? Lord Tywin Lannister's son is a twisted dwarf - how does HE handle that? (And compare his parenting style to Lysa's.) Randyl Tarly's son is not a fighter like he wanted. Etc.

I think against that backdrop it's clear that this part of the story is meant to have Robert's sickness as the disappointment, and Lysa's overprotectiveness as the reaction.
45. Wortmauer
pro_star@38: Yes, I meant she's the type to get a cane not because she's inherently frail, but to cope with obesity. Ditto on the handicap tag. Though I suppose she might not be that far gone. If so, I imagine there were some unhappy mules when she returned from King's Landing to the Eyrie.
Debbie Solomon
46. dsolo
Since I'm a neonatal nurse and breastfeeding advocate, I have to weigh in on this. It is best to BF for a year. Toddlers nursing is still ok, but is not the norm in America (where breasts are for centerfolds), however in third world countries, prolonged breastfeeding (to age 5-7) may be nutritionally necessary. That is not the case here. Robert is a sickly child, Lysa is overprotective and insane. There are cases of parents who infantize (is that a word?) their youngest or only child, because they are clinging to their "baby". This interferes with normal development (duh!). I don't think it's Munchausen's by proxy, I think it's overreaction to multiple factors. If you live in a society where your value as a woman is dependent on providing healthy sons, you might end up like Lysa.

Leigh, you're killing us with the lack of insight on Robert's bastards . Just think about every single description of his bastards. The seed is strong!
Debbie Solomon
47. dsolo
Forgot to add, still love your posts. You're saving me from having to reread everything. And the comments always give me new insights.
Juliet Kestrel
48. Juliet_Kestrel
Man I had to actual work to do today and you all went and said everything I had in my head. (Don’t make me go get the tinfoil hat!).

Re. The seed is strong. Leigh, everyone knows that dying words have to be cryptic, essential to the plot, and easily misunderstood. Uh Duh. I am pretty sure this is even on that horrible tv tropes website that I will NOT go to for the link, as I still have work to get done today.

I oddly really liked Mya Stone. I have a feeling she isn’t in anyway important to the plot, but I liked her pluck if you will. I hope we get to see more of her.

I, like Leigh, was looking forward to meeting Lysa. I thought someone clever enough to send the message she did, would be like a Varys that was squarely on the Stark side, and not all mysteriously maybe good, maybe evil. Obviously she is a few apples short of a bushel, and needs to get her hands on a copy of Effective Parenting in a Defective World. I will chime in and say I thought Robin was sickly from the start, given her problems with pregnancy and stillbirths, and that resulted in the over parenting.

I like the castle. My suspension of disbelief muscles are highly defined, so I am willing to overlook practicality on this one for the sake of it being an entire barrel of awesome to read about.

I am getting the distinct impression that the winners in the game of thrones are the ones that play the game well, not the ones that play by the rules. I feel this doesn’t bode well for Ned. I don’t trust Littlefinger farther than I could throw Gregor, and it doesn’t seem like Ned does either. So why he would tell him his plans of running away I do not know.

Great Work as per usual Leigh
49. Patricia Mathews
Supplying the fortress? Hah! You think the castillan would show this lot - or any other strangers - the hidden tunnel that comes out somewhere in a village warehouse or wine cellar? You bet your best armor they'll bring strangers in the hard way, to impress them with the difficulties of trying to capture the place. And if it lures them into besieging the castle, they'll be laughing all the way out the tunnel. Sheesh.
Rob Munnelly
50. RobMRobM
Leigh - great re-read. Longer than most you've done since you started. Too hot in NYC and you needed to stay in air conditioning?

You wanted a character to value, and Renly disappointed you. I have a substitute: Brynden the Blackfish. Look back though his discussions with Niece Cat and tell me whether there is anything there that doesn't make sense or show insight....I thought not. At least, not in this chapter.

51. sofrina
@35 - you are getting ahead a few chapters. gendry is the only royal bastard mentioned at this point. i just finished the book, so i'm fresh on this.

these comments are a minefield of spoilers.
52. jcfocarino
I don't think I ever got the impression that Robert's condition was Lysa's fault...I think it was just that he was a sickly boy, and that's it. Not everyone can have six perfectly healthy and fit (well...not anymore, for poor Bran) children like the Starks. I do see why you might say that, however, and I think I might have hated Lysa more than I did when reading this if I thought that way.
53. David B
@30 one would think that when you were dying you could just go ahead and say directly what you meant.

You try dying and being stoned out of your mind on milk of the poppy and be coherent at the same time. I'm surprised he didn't just say "Rosebud...".

In any case, I'm also with the crowd that did not equate young Robert's sickliness with the breastfeeding. I never picked up on that angle at all until it was mentioned here.

And, I don't really think this is a spoiler for the show (but I'm sure others will correct me if I'm wrong), but in the miniseries version, Robin is two years older than in the book. Talk about turning a creepy scene even creepier.

Regarding the inefficiencies of the Eyrie as a fortress, it's mentioned (elsewhere, but no spoilers) that it has large and deep cellars. Also keep in mind that this is a society that sets great store on personal victories and the look of things, such as flying your banner over someone else's castle. It's not enough to starve out an enemy; you have to defeat them to gain honor.
Maiane Bakroeva
54. Isilel
Womzilla @36:

Robert is a better king than the later Targareans were.

Have you missed the fact, discussed in one of the previous Ned's chapters, that Aerys, despite his madness, left the treasury overflowing with gold, while Robert, who got to rule over the most ideal conditions ever - a 9-year-old summer, managed to plunge the realm into horrendious debt? What do you think would happen when the conditions become less ideal?

Yea, Aerys did become batshit crazy towards the end, but Robert is a very small improvement, if any.
The sad thing is, that if Aerys only died a couple of years earlier, he would have been remembered as an excellent king.

Lakesidey @43:

Nope, sorry, you remember wrong. Jon Arryn had no living children until lil' Robert. Very mild, whited out spoiler:

The one you think of wasn't his son, but a nephew.

Also, re: Lysa, Jon Arryn was actually old enough to be her grandfather. It has been mentioned that he was 70 when he died.
Anthony Pero
55. anthonypero
Just so we are clear on this whited out spoiler issue:

Screen readers, many mobile devices, and text-based browsers don't hide the text. Granted, I'm sure that is a very small subset of our community (or non-existant). Just wanted to make sure that the spoiler police were aware that whiting out the text will not actually stop people from being spoiled on some devices.
56. Shard
I think Leiah would have a valid point about Robert if there weren't an entire family of Crazies aka Taragyens. Then there's little Rickon who I believe is as crazy as his cousin Robert.

I don't think Robert would be weak and crazy if his mother wasn't also that way. In other words if we switched Catlen out with Lysa I'm sure Robert Arryn would have been a much better kid.
57. Tenesmus
This obviously has something to do with Gendry and the whole “bastard” mystery that Ned is risking his goddamn stupid life to look into, but I’m still not getting it, mainly because I still can’t come up with a reason why Robert having bastards around should matter to anyone. Yeah, Robert’s seed is strong, obviously; my question is, so frickin’ what? I’m sure I’ll have lots of fun kicking myself for being an idiot on this matter later.

Ha! Ha! Ha!
Aimee Powalisz
58. longhairedspider
When I was reading this chapter, I wanted to scream at Ned - just leave! Or if you won't, just send the girls NOW! And Catelyn is irritating me more and more.
Captain Hammer
59. Randalator
Leigh: "Jeez, Ned. While I totally sympathize with your position here, have you ever even heard the word “diplomacy”?"
Ned: "Pshh, course I have. ... It's a dinosaur, right?"

Though I disagree with you on the suitability of diplomacy in this situation. Robert has enough diplomats and lickspittles around him as it is and needs someone brutally honest. That's why he made Ned the Hand in the first place. Ned's just doing what was in the job description.

re: Lysa and Robert

Sorry, but like so many commenters before I have to disagree with you on your assessment of the situation (well, minus the breast-feeding; that's just a world of wrong). The reasons have all been given already:

- Robert's sickliness is the reason for Lysa's sMothering, not the other way round
- Her sMothering in turn has made him an emotionally/mentally stunted six-year-old
- the doll has nothing to do with being effeminate, other boys play with dolls too; it's the type of doll which isn't age appropriate (a ragdoll "comforter" instead of a more sophisticated "knight-doll" toy), nothing sexist here, move along
Rob Munnelly
60. RobMRobM
Here, per our tradition, are the relevant Blog of Ice and Fire chapters. Sad to say, not his best (but still not bad):


Jorah the mole reports that Dany married The Rock and is pregnant with Rhaegar 2.0. Führer Bob has a final solution to the Targaryen problem, but Eddard protests because he feels squeamish about killing children. Even though Eddard admirably champions his principles, when it comes to the Targaryens, Robert is as difficult to budge ideologically as he is physically. Bob has a point, because letting Dany and her son live would be taking a stupid, unnecessary risk. The council agrees and begins discussing possible assassination methods. Robert doesn't want to poison her, because it would be too cowardly. So there exists some sort of courage scale in King Bob's head where "poisoning" ranks lower than "killing the unborn child of a teenage girl."

Child murder proves to be the deal breaker for Eddard, who resigns his position as Hand. The bromance between Ned and Bob is over. Eddard came south, picked up the pieces to a huge, confusing puzzle, and failed miserably at putting it together. Now, he's finally free. The Starks are headed back north, where they will arrive at Winterfell happy and rested. Eddard will discover that Catelyn and Jon have also returned, and have grown to love each other like only a mother and an illegitimate bastard son of a nother woman can. There's no violence or fighting. It's just one big happy family reunion. Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords are just very, very misleading titles.


After a perilous journey, Catelyn finally arrives at the Vale of Arryn. Her sister’s castle has more levels of security than Fort Knox, and is an acrophobic nightmare of cracking spiral steps, narrow windy bridges, and sickeningly steep ascents. It takes Catelyn days to reach the top, ironically guided by bastard girl Mya Stone. When Catelyn has a vertigo freeze up on the mountain crossing, Mya was there to help her. See Cat? Bastards aren’t all evil. I predict in a few chapters, Martin is going to reveal that Cat herself is a bastard, and we’re going to get one of those great “Noooooooo!” screams.

Catelyn chats with her uncle Brynden the Blackfish, who to my great disappointment is not actually black. After some more climbing, she finally meets her sister at the Eyrie. To quote Martin, Lysa Tully has become “thick of body” and “pale of face,” which is a nice way of saying she’s a fatty who never leaves the house. Martin must have realized the lack of creepiness in this chapter, because everything was totally normal until Lysa suddenly whips out a boob for her six year old son to suck on. In the wake of Jon Arryn’s death, Lysa has become a paranoid, overprotective, crazy woman. Traumatic family incidents tend to do that to people. Just ask Catelyn, who kidnapped the son of a powerful house for a crime he didn’t commit. Ladies and gentlemen, the Tullys: no incest, but horrifically bad decision making nonetheless.
Erin Price
61. aerynne
So I am reading this series along with Leigh, which is a glacially slow pace for me to read anything. Normally I'd tear through the book in a few days and be stuck waiting for the next one with everyone else. I'm hoping, though, that if I stick with the pace of the read, we'll get to the last couple of books around the time that they're actually released instead of having to wait for years.

decarillion @26, allow me to point out that my fifteen-month-old, who still nurses multiple times a day, also has teeth. Not a problem. I appreciate that Leigh did some research before writing about this--six is old to be breastfeeding, but in some societies it's not uncommon to nurse that late. In the sometimes years-long winter, I'd guess that extended breastfeeding might be helpful for kids to get enough calories. But it is true that right now we're in summer, and while we don't have a lot of evidence, what we have sure doesn't point to a healthy extended breastfeeding relationship.

Wortmauer @31, I thought Catelyn's thoughts about Mya's hopes of marriage showed more about her than they did about Mya. She would never consider letting her child marry a bastard, but she is rather prejudiced, and extremely highborn. Mya carrying off her marriage is unlikely, but maybe her love's parents are less prejudiced, or he's a younger son and his marriage matters less.

Lastly, here's my ooh ooh! reaction to the "the seed is strong" mystery. We know that Cersei and Jaime have a sexual relationship, and the minimal evidence so far points toward its being of long standing. What if Joffrey et al aren't Robert's children but Jaime's? There's been no mention of contraceptives in Westeros. If it could be proven, or even implied, that the princes and princess were not his kids, wouldn't that cause a huge problem for the succession and a huge scandal for the queen? Maybe even the necessary impetus for Robert to dump her?
62. Umbardacil
This read has given me a reason to pick up A Game of Thrones again. I'd dropped it after Daenerys' first chapter, feeling more than a little queasy at the prospect of a 13-year old girl marrying a 30-something savage. The things I heard about the 'grittiness' of the books did not make me want to pick them up again, either.

But, here I am again. I'm really enjoying the read and I'd originally intended to read along with Leigh, but the chapters are so short, I honestly can't keep myself to two or three a week. I caught up with Leigh today and I'm already some 12 chapters beyond this point. Oh well.

As for the whole 'bastard' mystery, I'll just say I figured it out before the reveal.
63. FleaBottom
A piece of color on the whole Ned, Robert, and Dany situation. There's a bit of a line in one of the first Ned POV chapters in AGOT where it mentions that Ned and Robert 'broke' and were not on speaking terms after the sack of King's Landing over the death of the Targaryen kids.

Probably, my favorite thing about Martin is how often you find those little bits of foreshadowing detail when you're rereading.
64. Kimmi
Breastfeeding isn't critical for nutritional reasons, in most parts of the world, but rather to avoid contaminated drinking water, for kids with low immune systems. At least that is what I think. ymmv
Kevin Maroney
65. womzilla

Good point about Robert running the finances of the Seven Kingdoms poorly. But there's a lot to be said for not massacring children, openly kidnapping and raping nobles, and generally being the type of despot that heroes are born to overthrow.

Robert was a great hero and a lousy king. And he was still a better king than Aerys and a better human being than Aerys's monstrous brother Rhaegar, and for that matter better than Aerys's puling offspring Viserys.
Captain Hammer
66. Randalator
@ Moderators

If someone speculates and happens to be right you shouldn't white it out. If you do, you turn speculation into fact and therefore into a spoiler for anyone who has read it, including the author of the comment.

Before it was "Hm, that might be it. I wonder if he/she will turn out to be right", now it's just "Crap, that was it"...
Rob Munnelly
67. RobMRobM
Womzilla - don't think we have enough info to judge relative merits as human beings of Robert v. Rheagar. Clear case re Aerys and Viserys, however.

Rand - I'm fine with aggressive white spacing for significant in-book theories, although you have a point re the white space = confirmation of theory conundrum. We'll have to leave it to Theresa's sound judgment.

Joe Vondracek
68. joev
@womzilla: "And he was still a better king than Aerys and a better human being than Aerys's monstrous brother Rhaegar, and for that matter better than Aerys's puling offspring Viserys."

Huh? Aerys is the father of both Rhaegar and Viserys. Rhaegar and Viserys are brothers by the same parents. And as far as we know, Rhaegar was a normal human being; he didn't have no monster parts.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
69. tnh
Randalator @66, most speculations also mention canonical spoilers. We make the best judgements we can, but in a pinch we'll likely err on the side of keeping these threads spoiler-free.
William Fettes
70. Wolfmage
I really don't think you can classify the prudent desire to kill a claimant to your throne, who evidently intends to invade your kingdom with an army of 40,000 raping and pillaging savages qualifies as a kind of douchebaggery. Yes, it's morally unsavoury that Dany is so young (more so in the books than the tv show). Yes, it's likely Robert is channelling his emotional prejudice against the Targaryens here, which is rather extreme, uncouth and unjustified. Yes, he is also stupid not to gather intelligence on the state of the Dothraki mobilisation before deciding -- an act which might have given him pause and avoided blowback.

But ultimately a sovereign has to deal in the calculous of Realpolitik. There is a role for personal morality in tempering this, but any leader who slavishly followed such a precious sense of honour to the point that they allowed the Kingdom to be half destroyed, with countless lives lost and countless women raped, is manifestly unfit to rule.
Juliet Kestrel
71. Juliet_Kestrel
@65 Womzilla
Ser Jorah Mormont seems to think Rhaegar was a decent fellow. I know there is that whole slave trade thing that got him exiled. But I believe Ser Jorah is up for a character arc.

This is in the third Danerys Chapter, the one where she runs a head on her horse and her brother chases after her.

“No!” Viserys screamed. He turned to Ser Jorah, pleading in the Common Tongue with words the horsemen would not understand. “Hit her, Mormont. Hurt her. Your king commands it. Kill these Dothraki dogs and teacher her.”
The exile knight looked from Dany to her brother; she barefoot, with dirt between her toes and oil in her hair, he with his silks, and steel. Dany could see the decision on his face. “He shall walk, Khaleesi,” he said. He took her brother’s horse in hand while Dany remounted her silver.

“I hit him,” she said, wonder in her voice. Now that it was over, it seemed like some strange dream that she had dreamed. “Ser Jorah, do you think…he’ll be so angry when he gets back…” She shivered. “I woke the dragon, didn’t I?”
“Ser Jorah snorted. “Can you wake the dead, girl? Your brother Rhaegar was the last dragon, and he died on the Trident. Viserys is less than the shadow of a snake.”

I know Jorah isn’t the most reliable judge on moral character given the reason for his exile. But he knows it.
His blunt words startled her. It seemed as though all the things she had always believed were suddenly called into question. “You…you swore him your sword…”
“That I did, girl,” Ser Jorah said. “And if your brother is the shadow of a snake, what does that make his servants?” His voice was bitter.
And Also.
“There have been worse …but not many.”
Anyway. I get the impression that despite his past Jorah isn’t such a bad guy, and he is paying for breaking the law in exile. He thinks favorably of Rhaegar, and has switched his loyalty to Dany, a more worthy recipient of said loyalty, if you ask me. Have we had anything from a view point character that says anything about Rhaegar’s governing abilities, craziness, or morality? If we have could someone point it out? Because I am not remembering it. Obviously Aerys was off his rocker, and Viserys would not make a good King. I am inclined to think Dany is on her way to staking a claim on the seven kingdoms. I don’t think Viserys is going to last much longer with the Dothraki if he keeps behaving as he did in this chapter. Plus the foreshadowing of Jorah calling her Queen.

Edited: To get rid of weird spacing.
Julian Augustus
72. Alisonwonderland

But ultimately a sovereign has to deal in the calculous of Realpolitik. There is a role for personal morality in tempering this, but any leader who slavishly followed such a precious sense of honour to the point that they allowed the Kingdom to be half destroyed, with countless lives lost and countless women raped, is manifestly unfit to rule.

I couldn't agree more. In fact, I think Ned and his precious honor should take most of the blame for what happens to Westeros society in the rest of the series.
Anthony Pero
73. anthonypero

Not sure WHERE this occurs in the book, so I'm going to white it out to be safe. It is minor, minor, minor information regarding Jorah. Read at your own risk:

Jorah was engaging in the slave trade because he loved a woman, who spent his family's entire fortune. He was trying to keep her happy. Not a great motivation for comdemning people to slavery, but it tailor's in nicely wiht his character's current motivations RE: Dany.
Hugh Arai
74. HArai
Alisonwonderland@72: So if Eddard were only an incestuous, backstabbing schemer or disinterested and spineless all the troubles of Westeros would have gone away? Bah. The fact that playing by the rules when everyone else is cheating puts you at a disadvantage doesn't guarantee events play out better when everyone is cheating than when everyone plays by the rules.
Emmet O'Brien
75. EmmetAOBrien
HArai@74: The question of whether Westeros is a pit of vipers that would be a lot better off if everyone in it were morally upright like Ned, and the question of the best way for Ned to deal with the unfortunate reality that Westeros is in significant part a pit of vipers, seem to me to be quite distinct. I think the series as a whole does a number of interesting things with the intersection of strategic thinking and moral thinking, though mostly well ahead of where this read has got to.
76. GyantSpyder
One thing to remember about A Song of Ice and Fire is the clue the name of the series gives you about its style - it's a study in contrasts.

At this point in the story, we've seen two boys who are insufficiently mature and masculine for their age because of how their parents treated them - Samwell Tarly and Robert Arryn. Both seem naturally predisposed to this behavior - it's not _all_ their parents fault. But one boy's cowardice is reinforced by his father's cruelty, and the other by his mother's doting. That these two characters could get to similar places by opposite means is kind of the point - it's similar to how Sansa and Arya are so different, despite having the same parents.
When accusing a book of a particular political stance, it's important to remember not just the single example in isolation, but it's broader context.

The most important thing about this presentation of Lysa, though, isn't that she babies Robert - it's that she's so different from her sister. Catelyn and the reader are expecting to find a familiar, friendly face at the Eyrie, and instead they find this woman who is totally different from Catelyn in every way. This surprise is meant to frustrate our expectations and tug on our heartstrings, as well as to sustain suspense as to what is going to happen.

It's hard to say that GRRM is putting up sexism with the Lysa example when Cat is right there, a much different sort of woman, frustrated by it and condemning it from her perspective. People forget the presence of the POV characters sometimes.
Hugh Arai
77. HArai
EmmetAOBrian@75: I think they're distinct too. And I agree this is getting ahead of the read, so I'll just say my point is what happens to Westeros society happens because they are a pit of vipers not because being honorable isn't always the best way to deal with a pit of vipers.
Kevin Maroney
78. womzilla
Sorry about any confusion I inflicted earlier about Rhaegar's place in the family tree--I read the book in electronic form and didn't refer back to the family trees, so I got confused about which generation he was.

Anyway, A Game of Thrones strongly implies that Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna and, effectively, raped her to death--or, at least, that's what is believed by the characters whose point of view we see. It's quite possible, given the subjectivity of these narratives, that Rhaegar was in fact blameless. As noted, Jorah Mormont's admiration for Rhaegar is hard to reconcile with such monstrosity, but Jorah is hardly a morally unconflicted character.
Emmet O'Brien
79. EmmetAOBrien
womzilla@78: I think GRRM goes rather visibly out of his way to avoid showing us whether Ned believes that or not in the Ned-and-Robert-in-the-catacombs chapter, it's one of the few things in the whole series where the writing feels awkward to me.
Brett Dunbar
80. Brett
With Samwell Tarly it looks like his mother rather spoiled him, not to anything like the extent to which Lysa is spoiling Robert but still.... Randyll's problem from his point of view is that his son and heir was seriously lacking in several skills absoulutely needed in a lord while his younger son had those qualities. He belived, quite possibly correctly, that Samwell would be a disaster and ruin his family by looking weak enough to attract ambitious neighbours. If Dickon had been the elder then there wouldn't have been a problem. Samwell looked like he might give away land for a quiet life Dickon would certainly fight so Dickon would be a lot less likely to face a challange. Dickon as lord and Samwell as his steward would work the other way round really wouldn't.

On eliminating potential alternative claiments, Robert has a decent practical argument. Rebellions have been launched in the name of manifestly useless claimants. For example the 1715 and 1745 rebellions were launched in the name of the old pretender (James III/VIII to Jacobites) even though he was useless. The rebels aimed at a rather more powerful monarchy than actually existed.
81. Fredweena
@51 I beg to differ, I'm reading along with Leigh, and Ned, after meeting Gendry, has a memory of Robert & his first bastard, a girl, in the Vale, that he spent time visiting, even after he lost interest in her mother. He actually mentions several:

"Yet knowing all that, what had he learned? The king had other baseborn children scattered throughout the Seven Kingdoms. He had openly acknowledged one of his bastards, a boy of Bran’s age whose mother was highborn. The lad was being fostered by Lord Renly’s castellan at Storm’s End. Ned remembered Robert’s first child as well, a daughter born in the Vale when Robert was scarcely more than a boy himself. A sweet little girl; the young lord of Storm’s End had doted on her. He used to make daily visits to play with the babe, long after he had lost interest in the mother. Ned was often dragged along for company, whether he willed it or not. The girl would be seventeen or eighteen now, he realized; older than Robert had been when he fathered her. A strange thought."

Hence, my thought that Mya was the baby.
82. Wortmauer
Fredweena@81: Hence, my thought that Mya was the baby.
Yeah, I don't think I was anywhere near perceptive enough on my first read to pick up on stuff like this, but it is pretty clearly spelled out, isn't it? In a reread, after you've met Mya, Ned's memory of Robert's first bastard kinda leaps off the page.

I mean, we have no actual proof thus far that it is the same bastard, just that her ASL all match, but authors don't tend to lay down that kind of detail and then make it just a coincidence after all.
Julian Augustus
83. Alisonwonderland
HArai @74:
No, Ned didn't have turn himself one of the vipers, but he couldn't have been more stupid if he tried. Spoiler:
There is a talk in the woods between Ned and a certain character that is simply absurd in its stupidity. The breakdown of Westerosi society, the wars, the displacement of vast segments of the population, the famine, all are direct results of Ned talking instead of acting.
84. MaggieKat
@78: Even Ned admires Rhaegar to a certain extent.
Steve Lord
85. Wybaar
Looking at the situation as a third party, it's detestable that King Robert would order the assassination of a pregnant woman. Looking at the situation from the viewpoint of a player of the Game of Thrones, it makes sense to remove a rival. But looking at it analytically, I think King Robert acted too hastily in ordering Dany's assassination. Totally out of character for him, isn't it? :)

I imagine plenty of women (and babies) don't survive childbirth in Westeros. If the baby takes after her and Uncle/etc. Viserys in build Dany will likely survive the birth okay but the baby might not be strong enough to survive. If it's a big bundle of Dothraki joy like daddy Drogo, then her petite form is likely to make for a difficult birth.

If Dany and the baby both die in childbirth, Robert's hands are clean and he avoids having to pay for an assassination.

If Dany survives but the baby doesn't or vice versa, Robert now has one Targaryen to deal with just as before. If the baby is the one that survives, Robert has years to deal with the problem (and the baby might not make it to adulthood living among the Dothraki.) If Dany survives but the child doesn't, he's no worse off than he was before but assassinating a woman who's just lost a child seems (marginally) less evil than assassinating a pregnant woman.

Only if both survive would it have been easier/less expensive to have Dany killed while she was pregnant. But would someone who could murder a pregnant woman have qualms about murdering a new mother and her child?
87. jayar
OK, so my post about the fatwah on (adult) Muslim women breastfeeding (adult) Muslim men so they can see each other w/o the abaya-hijab, etc. cover up didn't make it past the spam filter. Anyway, interested people can google it.

Leigh can say 'ew, gross' now.
88. Mergle
Oh, well. It happened. Was fun until you played the "sexist" card. Not going to bother reading any of this anymore. It was good while it lasted.

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