Aug 5 2011 2:09pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 19

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 19 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 37 (“Bran”) and 38 (“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 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 37: Bran

What Happens
Bran rides out of Winterfell for the first time since his accident, strapped onto his specially trained horse Dancer, accompanied by Robb, Theon Greyjoy, Maester Luwin, Robb and Bran’s wolves, and several guardsmen. Bran is nervous at first, but soon feels confident enough to try a gallop.

“I can ride!” Bran shouted, grinning. It felt almost as good as flying.

As they ride, Robb tells Bran with some hesitation that a bird came the night before with a message from King’s Landing: Jory Cassel, Wyl and Heyward are dead, murdered by Jaime Lannister, and their father is injured and unconscious; no one is sure when he will wake. Robb promises a distraught Bran that he will not let this pass. Theon thinks Robb should raise the banners, but Luwin does not; Bran reminds Robb that Father always listened to Luwin’s counsel, but Theon opines that Luwin is “timid as an old woman.”

Enjoyment in the ride gone, Robb and Bran pull ahead of Theon and the guards to find their wolves, who have run off to hunt. They ford a stream, and Robb hears the wolves howl and goes to find them, leaving Bran alone on the bank. A group of raggedly dressed men and women step out of the trees, and Bran realizes that at least some of them are deserters from the Night Watch. The biggest of them grab Dancer’s reins before Bran can flee, and Bran tells them who he is, and warns them to let him go; the taller woman suggests taking him hostage to “Mance.” The big man slices off Bran’s saddle straps, cutting his leg; Bran doesn’t feel anything.

Robb reappears then, with the wolves, which momentarily unnerves the robbers, but the big man, Stiv, shouts to take them, and Robb and the wolves attack. They take down all but two: Osha, one of the women, and Stiv, who yanks Bran from his saddle and threatens to slit his throat. Robb calls off the wolves, and Stiv orders him to kill the wolves or Bran dies. Then Stiv goes down with an arrow through him, shot by Theon.

The rest of the party is shocked by the carnage wrought by the wolves, and Osha begs for mercy. Robb berates Theon for shooting so close to Bran, and demands to know where they were. One of the guards answers that Theon went after a turkey; Theon says he hardly expected that Robb would leave Bran alone. Robb is furious, but doesn’t answer. Instead he orders that the deserters’ heads be sent back to the Wall. Bran tells them that they were wildings, working for Mance Rayder, and Theon suggests giving Osha to the wolves, but Robb orders that she be brought back to Winterfell and questioned.


“I can ride!” Bran shouted, grinning. It felt almost as good as flying.

Aw, crap, there goes my pupils, getting all anime-d’awww shiny again. Dammit, I hate when that happens.

Man, apparently you can’t go anywhere without it turning into a Dramatic (And Painful) Scene, if you’re a Stark. It’s like we’re in an epic saga or something!

Also, jeez. I would like to put in a formal request for bad things to stop happening to Bran for like five seconds, is that too much to ask?

Don’t answer that.

I’ve really got to stop assuming everything is a conspiracy, I think, but then again it was awfully convenient the way Theon just had to go look for a turkey right at that juncture. I’m just saying. And shooting Stiv while he had a knife to Bran’s throat is insanely risky.

Then again, maybe Theon’s just an idiot (and a dick), and not a traitor, despite having a pretty good motive to be one in my opinion. Either is possible. We’ll see, I suppose.

Also, I mostly left it out above, but the savagery of the direwolves in this scene was pretty shocking. Not so much for the fight itself, because hey, do what you gotta do to take down your enemy, but for the fact that Summer was all chowing down on his victim afterward. Because, yikes? Maybe let’s not let your pet develop a taste for human flesh, boys? Small suggestion that that’s possibly not a good idea, there? Gah.

This might be a bit too modern-medicine to hope for, but I sincerely hope someone in the Stark household is cognizant of the fact that Bran’s legs need to be constantly checked for injuries, since his nerves can no longer do the job of alerting him that something is wrong. It would really suck for Bran to survive incestuous assholes and grubby highwaymen, only to die of an infected papercut, you know?

Speaking of incestuous assholes:

There was something about the Lannisters, something [Bran] ought to remember, but when he tried to think what, he felt dizzy and his stomach clenched hard as a stone.

C’mon, Bran, remember! Pretty please?


Chapter 38: Tyrion

What Happens
The turnkey Mord taunts Tyrion with his dinner and flings it over the precipice that is the outer wall of his cell; Tyrion curses him and gets beaten for his trouble. Tyrion reflects that his mouth has gotten him into an awful lot of trouble, including when he’d been brought before Lysa and her son Robert, answering her accusations with sarcasm instead of denial. He warned her of his brother’s retaliation if she hurt him, but she countered that the Eyrie is impregnable, which Tyrion knows is true. Catelyn had intervened, which is why Tyrion is now imprisoned in the sky cells instead of dead.

Tyrion tries to convince himself that his imprisonment is temporary, and wonders what his family is doing. He hopes that Cersei is smart enough to insist to the king that he himself should hear Tyrion’s case, but is doubtful that her “low cunning” will let her see anything beyond the insult to her family pride. He wonders whether it was she or Jaime who tried to assassinate Bran, and whether either of them had anything to do with Arryn’s death. The assassination attempt on Bran strikes him as suspiciously clumsy.

Tyrion shivered. Now there was a nasty suspicion. Perhaps the direwolf and the lion were not the only beasts in the woods, and if that was true, someone was using him as a catspaw. Tyrion Lannister hated being used.

He calls for Mord and attempts to bribe him; Mord beats him mercilessly at first, but soon begins to warm to the idea, and finally agrees to deliver a message to Lysa that Tyrion is ready to confess to his crimes. Later that night he is hauled before Lysa and all her court except her son, who is asleep, as well as Catelyn, the sellsword Bronn, and the singer Marillion. Tyrion begins confessing his crimes: he’s cheated at gambling, he’s gone to whores, he’s wished ill upon his family, etc. Lysa is incensed, and demands a confession to Bran’s murder attempt and her husband’s death. Tyrion replies that he cannot confess to those, as knows nothing of any murders.

Lysa prepares to have him thrown back in the dungeon, but Tyrion demands justice and a fair trial. Lysa smiles and tells him her son will hear his case, and if he is found guilty he will be executed, via the Moon Door, which opens out into nothing. Catelyn protests, but Lysa ignores her. Tyrion demands instead trial by combat, which most of the listeners find hilarious. Several of her followers immediately volunteer; Lysa asks Ser Vardis Egen to do it, but Vardis tells her he finds the idea of fighting a cripple distasteful. Tyrion agrees, and demands his brother Jaime to be his champion in turn. Lysa refuses, and Tyrion tells Marillion to be sure to include that detail in the song he makes of this. Irritated, Lysa tells him to pick his champion from one here, if he can find one who is willing.

Tyrion looked over the long hall. No one moved. For a long moment he wondered if it had all been a colossal blunder.

Then there was a stirring in the rear of the chamber. “I’ll stand for the dwarf,” Bronn called out.


I knew Tyrion didn’t do it, y’all. Neener neener, I are the most smartest.

*victory dance*

Of course, so far it doesn’t look like being innocent is actually doing Tyrion much good, but hey, I’ll take my triumphs where I can find them.

It was cold in the cell, the wind screamed night and day, and worst of all, the floor sloped. Ever so slightly, yet it was enough. He was afraid to close his eyes, afraid that he might roll over in his steep and wake in sudden terror as he went sliding off the edge. Small wonder the sky cells drove men mad.

Dude. You think? I would lose my shit in nothing flat if I had to be in one of those cells, and I’m not even especially acrophobic. If you look up “cruel and unusual punishment” in the dictionary… well, you won’t find this, but you ought to. Good God.

Lysa: is total crap. What a disappointment. And her son is a straight-up monster-in-short-pants. Call me crazy, but I find a child whose main entertainment is defenestration to be, hmm, what’s the word, oh yeah, FUCKING CREEPY.

Okay, so that was two words, but whatever, it’s not like I’m wrong! Yeek.

And okay, “defenestration” is probably wrong too, since I think it specifically means “to throw someone out a window,” but as far as I am aware there is no corresponding word for the concept of “throwing someone out of a psycho funhouse castle in the sky,” so I had to improvise there. I’m sure we’ll all get over it in time.

Also, the fact that there actually is a specific term for “throwing someone out a window” is rather hilariously disturbing proof that human beings are kind of fucked up as a species. But I digress!

The Bronn thing is… interesting, if a little confusing. It appears that Tyrion was actually banking on Bronn to volunteer, once he noticed the guy was in the room, but that seems like an awfully large leap to make just because they were on fairly friendly terms. Of course, we weren’t really made privy to exactly what Bronn and Tyrion talked about on the road, so maybe I just don’t have all the information.

Also, I really don’t understand how any of this is legal, to imprison and/or put Tyrion on trial like this, with no kind of even vaguely impartial oversight. Or maybe it isn’t, but if so, it hardly seems to matter that much. I dunno, this is all so… sloppy and anarchic.

I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say here, except maybe that the rule of law seems to make so little impression on these people I kind of wonder why they bother to have any. Laws, I mean. Why have ‘em at all, if all your subjects have to do is retreat to their deranged impregnable fort-onna-cliff, have a sham drumhead trial, and then throw people they don’t like off it with, apparently, total impunity? Sheesh.

Then again, this is apparently a justice system in which you can perfectly legitimately substitute men trying to stab each other for a trial with, presumably, attempts to actually prove shit and stuff, so hell, maybe I would give that legal system the finger myself. Seriously, that is so incredibly dumb. Who thinks up this cockamamie crap? How does your champion being a better fighter than the other guy’s champion say ANYTHING about your guilt or innocence?

Well, it doesn’t, obviously. So, I guess proving shit is not really so much the point, then. Might makes right, taken to the loonieth degree, sheesh.

And yes, I know this practice has real historical precedent, so this is not me ragging on Martin, so much as it is me just being amazed at how stupid people were in Ye Olden Dayz. You know, before the amazing and wonderful and totally non-corruptible or loophole-riddled modern system came in.


Also, it is HILARIOUS that Wikipedia’s entry on “trial by combat” specifically mentions ASOIAF. “Abundantly”, eh? I’d better reconcile myself to the stupid, is that the message I’m getting here?

Well, I will NEVAH! So there! Enjoy your Friday, loves, and see you next week with Moar!


Note from Just so everyone knows, Leigh originally formatted a very cute Read More cut that we couldn’t preserve. Here it is in all of its mouse-tail glory:

“I’ll be

   judge, I’ll

     be jury,”



         old Fury:


          try the








1. Megaduck
"Also, it is HILARIOUS that Wikipedia’s entry on “trial by combat” specifically mentions ASOIAF. “Abundantly”, eh? I’d better reconcile myself to the stupid, is that the message I’m getting here?"


Actually, this system does make some sense. The Seven kingdoms aren't really a nation the way we in modern times would understand the term.

It's more of a bunch warlords hanging out and doing what even more powerfull warlords tell them to do.

In this case, 'Law' is whoever has the swords to make their will stick. In the Earie, Lysa and Sweet Robin have the swords, so they get to decide the trials. The same way Ned Stark does at Winterfell and in the North.

If your ruler is good and just the system works, if he's a spoiled eight year old... not so much.
2. BFG
Tyrions confession is one of my favourite bits of any story ever (not that I want to exaggerate or anything :) )
Edward Morland
3. random_gerbil
The justification for trial by combat comes down to, as with many odd ways of judging people, faith. The belief is held that God or in this case the seven will ensure that whichever champion is fighting for the just cause will win. Now obviously this objectively favours people who are good at fighting or have someone good at fighting to do so on their behalf but seeing as that's how legitimacy of government is essentially decided here that shouldn't be too surprising.

As to letting Robert Arryn judge the trial, he's been granted these lands to rule so in a Fuedal system he is the ultimate law. Now often the right to execution wouldn't actually be passed down and that would recquire the king's justice but seeing as we're seemingly pre-magna carta despite it being based on the war of the roses that small difference isn't that large. To cast doubt on Robert's ability to cast judgement is to cast doubt on his, and/or his guardians, ability to rule which obviously may be sensible but is treason.
4. Chrysippus4321
I love Tyrion's book confession but I have to admit I love his confession on HBO better.
Carolyn Hoffman
5. carolynh
The so-called legal system of the 7 kingdoms does make a weird kind of sense if you remember the kingdoms have only been under the rule of a single king for a decade or so. And look who that king is--not someone to complain about a little extra-curricular swordplay, especially if it settles a question he won't have to. Though since the question to be settled concerns his wife's brother, most other of the great lords would a bit less quick to draw arms, I think. But considering the ever-hysterical Lysa and her spoiled and cosseted son, it's not a surprise.

Tyrion's confession of EVery bad thing he's ever done in his entire life is hysterical and proves him to be as quick-witted as ever. I always thought it interesting he was so quick to accept that one or the other of his siblings was behind the attack on Bran. No sign of familial loyalty there, eh?

Poor Bran. The kid never seems to have a carefree day, does he? On his first trip out of the castle, he's set upon by goons, just barely escapes with his life, and gets to see the direwolves feasting on his attackers. How's this kind of thing going to affect his future mental outlook on life?? And I just don't like Theon. For some reason, he reminds me of a dumber Littlefinger.
Carolyn Hoffman
6. carolynh
@4 Yes, Tyrion's confesion in the HBO series WAS even better. And until I actually saw that, I never would have expected that could be better than the book.
6. Joel Prophet
I guess this proves I have the most free time on a Friday. ;-)

Great post Leigh. Trial by combat was surpose to be about chance, the lucky guy was innocent. The battle does not always goes as planned. But what does in life. But I agree with Leigh, our legal system with all its' flaws is the best one I've seen so far.

Throwing people out of windows was at one time considered a way of determining innocent or guilt. If you lived you were innocent. (The hint is when they throw a lot of people out of the window, go last. It makes a softer landing...proving you were the innocent one in the crowd.)
7. edsmedia
TYRION: "And I confess that one time, I brought a donkey into a brothel..."

SWEETROBIN: "And then what?"
8. no shocking
Regarding theon being a traitor or an idiot
........the beauty of GRRM writing is he can be one, he can be both, he can be none (just confident) but you never know
Iain Cupples
9. NumberNone
@carolyn (5): The Seven Kingdoms have actually been one since Aegon the Conqueror, more or less: 300 years rather than ten. The problem is more to do with their sheer size: it's simply not practical for the great lords to get the king's dispensation for executions.

That said, it's undoubtedly true that very few people would presume to sit in judgement in a capital trial against the king's brother-in-law, the son of another great lord, without first at least asking the king: Lysa Arryn, though, is crazy enough to do it. (Cat, of course, arrested Tyrion on her own authority, but I think it's clear that she didn't intend that he should be tried and executed just yet.)
10. Tenesmus
"Then again, maybe Theon’s just an idiot (and a dick), and not a traitor, despite having a pretty good motive to be one in my opinion. Either is possible. We’ll see, I suppose"

--I don't thnk that you should assume that idiot, dick and traitor are in anyway mutually exclusive
11. Joel Prophet
@ 10 I would think all traitors are dicks and most are idiots as well.

Theon (he's the guy who kicked the head after the execution way back in chapter 1) has struck me as a guy who believes he is the smartest one in the room, but he is saddly and grossly mistaken.

The Moon Door; what an interesting way to execute someone. Back in the Middle Ages when kings had a selfserving rule not to shead the blood of fellow kings. Thosing a defeated king off the battlements of a castle was concidered a bloodless way to kill a unwanted king. Though most were simply staved to death in the lower cells.
12. vsthorvs
"I knew Tyrion didn’t do it, y’all"

Hate to disagree with you Leigh, but having read your previous posts, it seems like you were on the fence about Tyrion, based on the assumption GRRM would twist his character around or something. I think you have this opinion that GRRM puts a lot of "twists" into this series, or good characters will turn out to be bad. I don't know why you assume this other than hearsay, but I don't think you should make ANY assumptions about this series. If you like a character just stick with it, don't be suspicious. And Tyrion deserves full loyalty!
13. vsthorvs
"Tyrion shivered. Now there was a nasty suspicion. Perhaps the direwolf and the lion were not the only beasts in the woods, and if that was true, someone was using him as a catspaw. Tyrion Lannister hated being used."

The fact that you quoted this shows that you understand the importance of this sentiment, would have loved to hear your speculation about it!
Sky Thibedeau
14. SkylarkThibedeau
I missed the episode with Tyrion in the Sky Cell. Was it as scary as in the book? I can't wait to see Peter Dinklage's confession as Tyrion on the show.

I always found Theon to be a brash teenager with something to prove. He is really a hostage and no one doubts if his family causes trouble for Robert, Ned would bring out the old sword to Theon. Rereading a GOT I get the feeling the character kicked the Deserters head around a bit to dispel visions of his own head on the block should the Ironborn revolt.
Debbie Solomon
15. dsolo
Leigh, you are going to love Peter Dinklage as Tyrion. His "confession" was hilarious. That guy deserves an Emmy. Hopefully, the DVDs will be out by the time you finish, and you can see how it stacks up. re: the sky cells, they were even scarier than in the books.
Rob Munnelly
16. RobMRobM
Am on vacation. Sitting on a beach. Would appreciate it if some could do the blog of ice and fire for me. Rob
Captain Hammer
17. Randalator
How does your champion being a better fighter than the other guy’s champion say ANYTHING about your guilt or innocence?

Well, it's basically our modern judicial system BUT WITH SWORDS! Just replace "my laywer is totally more expensive than yours AND he knows the Chewbacca defense" with "my lawy...champion is totally more badass than yours AND has stabbed yours in the lungs"...

See? Same difference.
Joe Vondracek
18. joev
@16: I'll give it a shot...

Things aren't going very well for Stark brothers. Their uncle is missing, their father is wounded and comatose, and their mother arrested a perfectly innocent dwarf. Bran still can't remember that Jaime pushed him off that window balcony, and Robb is faced with many difficult decisions as the acting Lord of Winterfell. Catelyn probably left him a nice reminder list: 1) Post a guard outside Bran's room, 2) Lannisters are not to be trusted, and 3) If you go riding with your cripple brother, do not leave him alone by a river. Robb unfortunately forgets rule three and leaves Bran by himself to go find the direwolves. As if on cue, Bran immediately gets captured by bandits. He may be the unluckiest kid ever, because the two times he's been left alone in this book, he's managed to suffer a debilitating accident and become involved in a hostage situation.

Robb finally returns, and the hostage negotiations begin. After much deliberation, the bandits decide to reject Robb's initial offer of a quick and painless death in exchange for surrender. A battle ensues, with huge magical wolves on one side and ordinary outlaws on the other, resulting in a lot of blood, guts, and chewed up outlaws. One of the men holds a knife to Bran's throat, but Theon arrives and takes him out with an arrow. As thanks, Theon gets an earful of stern Robb lecturing, because shooting a criminal with an arrow is far more risky than leaving your vulnerable crippled brother unattended.

The "sky cells" are probably the most horrifying yet awesome thing about the Eyrie. Instead of a prison wall, it has an open 600 foot drop with a slightly slanted floor. and the floor is slightly slanted -- feel free to escape. I love how Martin uses language, culture, and land features to greatly distinguish each geographical area in Westeros. The Vale is straight out of the 1960's: their motto is "high as honor," their bastards are stoners, and everything about their castles, from the vertigo-inducing journey to the wall-less cells, makes the entire ordeal seem like one gigantic acid trip. This includes the breast milk chugging sickly child lord and the fat, illiterate jailer named Mord, who I desperately wish had his own POV. "Not give angry dwarf-man beans today. Tomorrow, also not give beans."

Tyrion isn't the most humble prisoner, and his sharp tongue provokes Lysa into throwing him in a sky cell. Tyrion gets out by faking a confession and instead demanding a trial. Unfortunately, crazy little Robert Arryn is the judge, which means nine times out of ten, people are chucked out the moon door regardless of guilt or innocence. But Tyrion has one last trick up his sleeve, demanding trial by combat. Apparently, TBC means you or your champion fights one-on-one with someone, and your fate is decided based on the results of the fight. It doesn't matter whether you committed the crime or how many people saw you do it. Does this mean that GREGOR basically can never be found guilty of a crime? If he gets accused of anything, he can just demand trial by combat, kill one guy, and he's free? Does it really work this way? Murder someone? Trial by combat. Rob a bank? Trial by combat. Parking ticket? Trial by combat. It's essentially a perpetual, personalized get GREGOR out of jail free card.

When Tyrion requests TBC, Lysa and her knights laugh, because he's the anti-GREGOR: small, clever, and non-threatening. Despite Tyrion's vast battle experience consisting of somersaulting off roofs, fork dueling master-at-arms, and axing mountain clansmen, he clearly is no match for one of Lysa's knights. Tyrion may not even be fit to fight, having eaten nothing for the past few days due to Mord's bean dumping. Lysa believes she has him cornered because his first choice champion is miles away in King's Landing, doing more important things like Hand-crippling and sister-screwing. However, Tyrion's new BFF Bronn steps up to be his champion.
19. Wortmauer
joev@18: Thanks for reposting that, since RobM couldn't. I suppose one could classify Gregor as a monstrous vermin (ungeheuren Ungeziefer). I wonder, though, if Gregor ever awakes from troubled dreams. Should we ask Sansa?

And yes, trial by combat seems like a weird law. But in the days when "all justice flows from the King," as Ned puts it, and the King rules by Divine Right (perhaps GRRM doesn't say that outright, but I assume there's at least some religious component to the coronation, something akin to an anointing) ... it's not such a stretch that all justice ultimately flows from the gods.

I do agree with Tyrion that trial by (proxy) combat is much more likely to favor him than a judgment by the 6-year-old who likes to see people fly. But I also agree with Leigh that the chance Tyrion took on Bronn seemed kind of out of thin air, like the stuff outside the Moon Door. He was backed into a corner, and he had no good options, but what a risk! I guess Bronn knows Tyrion has access to huge piles of gold, and Bronn has reason to believe that if he wins free, he'll honor the rather large debt he owes to Bronn. (Maybe there's a known reputation behind Tyrion's favorite slogan, "A Lannister always pays his debts.") For a sellsword, I suppose that's enough. That's the whole point of being a mercenary, after all, risking life and limb for money.

I wonder what would have happened if Tyrion had been taken to Winterfell to face Robb Stark as acting lord and judge. Even as a teenager, Robb strikes me as taking his responsibility, and the honor of his house, pretty seriously. And even though the victim is his brother. Would Tyrion see it him that way? A pity the lords of Westeros have probably never even heard of the idea of recusing oneself in a conflict of interest.
20. Corgidwarfdog
Leigh, I've been enjoying your blog on this wonderful series and many of the comments, as I re-read the books myself.

One thing I remember from the Bran chapter, which greatly amused me at the time, is Osha's very sensible reaction to Stiv's request that she kill the direwolf. Can't remember exactly, but it was something to the effect of "Hell, no! Do it yourself."
21. Gabemar
Leigh you are right Theon is a dick. Now that I think about it that rhymes with ...................
Julian Augustus
22. Alisonwonderland
Does this mean that GREGOR basically can never be found guilty of a
crime? If he gets accused of anything, he can just demand trial by
combat, kill one guy, and he's free? ..... Trial by combat. It's essentially a perpetual, personalized get
GREGOR out of jail free card.

Ha ha ha ha ha ... too funny!
Juliet Kestrel
23. Juliet_Kestrel
Poor Bran. Unluckiest kid ever. His stellar personality and charm were suppose to be the glue to hold the Starks and Lannisters together in King’s Landing. Apparently he was needed more than we thought.
24. jerec84
Yeah, the trial by combat thing is a bit silly. When they go on about judgement by the gods through combat, I'm thinking of these words flashing in my mind:

* This is what Westerosi actually believe *
25. Terez
Thanks Leigh. I just edited the trial by combat page to include a reference to Wheel of Time. The ASOIAF ref was looking lonely. Hopefully others will add more. :)
Rob Munnelly
26. RobMRobM
@18 - thanks!!

Tyrion's tbc proposal was a gamble but a realistic one. He knew he'd be dead if he stayed much longer in the cells, he saw bronn's ambitious nature and excellent fighting skills on the road, and there was also the remote possibility that he could get agreement on jaime or a change of venue to kings landing.

27. ClintACK
Re: Trial by Combat...

You have to understand what this system was replacing to understand why it was actually quite a logical and good system -- no really! bear with me.

Consider what would ordinarily happen when the King of the North believes that his son has been defenestrated, nearly to death, by the son of the King of the West. If the result wasn't a war, it would at least be a long-running blood fued between two powerful clans with oodles of pointless death and suffering over multiple generations until no one even remembered why the Hatfields were killing the McCoys and vice versa.

The idea of trial by combat, all the way back to the Trojan War, was to boil all of the death and suffering of a blood feud or war into a single battle. The "God will make the just one win" logic is a cute add on, but the real idea is that the side with the stronger army should be able to field a stronger champion -- so the same side is winning, with a heck of a lot less "collateral damage".

It may not be "justice" in any sense, but at least a dispute can be resolved with a single-digit body count. This is not something to sniff at.

And re: our system... While we scoff at the idea that the victor in single combat reflects true innocence, a medieval jurist would probably scoff at our bizarre faith in the impartiality of our twelve jurors. For an extreme example, consider the various rape trials of black men in the south back in the bad old days, when a jury of impartial white men would pass sentence. At least he would have had a chance with a trial by combat --- and the accuser's champion would have had some skin in the game, too.

This isn't to say our system isn't profoundly better -- just that there really was some logic to the idea of a trial by combat. Heck, you can even see it in the book --- Tyrion demands that word be sent so that Jaime can be his champion. This is a threat that would give any champion pause -- as it should, because executing Tyrion is a pretty sure way to start a war with the Lannisters.
Aimee Powalisz
28. longhairedspider
Since Tyrion can pick a champion, it makes the trial by combat a bit more fair. If the parties had to fight on their own, it would be a different story.

I admit: when I first read this chapter, I thought Tyrion was going to have to fight, but I thought he'd say that he'd fight the lord himself - wee Robert!
Charles Gaston
29. parrothead
Wait, turkey? Turkey? TURKEY? Hah!

Okay, so most people probably don't know why I find that funny. I just always thought it a bit fishy when I found ex post facto that my least favorite fantasy series was supposed to be based on the Wars of the Roses (and my historian brain immediately tried to hemmorage). Yes, I realize it's petty, but...Tell me, Mr Martin, how many English knights ever went turkey hunting?

Defenestration is a very useful word; how else can we start the Thirty Years' War? See, it's really amusing. A couple of pushy imperial/papal assholes get thrown out a window and land safely (albeit without their dignity) in a dung pile. Big laughs, everybody goes home happy. And then a war breaks out that kills something like 8 million people (overwhelmingly civilians), leaves much of Europe a depopulated wasteland, and Germany remains a patchwork of feuding petty states the unification of which fed into the Napoleonic Wars, both World Wars, and the Holocaust. Heheheh...I need a drink.
30. JoeNotCharles
Tyrion wasn't depending on Bronn at all - his gambit was to first demand trial by combat, in which by custom he's allowed to choose his champion, and then choose his brother Jaime - a natural and defensible choice. And then he gets a bunch of benefits from that: he's guaranteed a stay of execution at least until Jaime arrives from King's Landing, it lets him get a message to his family with his whereabouts and condition, and Jaime actually is a fierce fighter who'll probably win.

And then when Lysa denies this demand and says - also quite reasonably - that he must choose a champion who's actually available, he thinks he's screwed until Bronn steps up.

This is the type of very specific legal interpretation that'd go right to the Supreme Court in our world: Tyrion's argument is that he has an absolute right to choose his own champion, and Lysa's argument is that Tyrion's being ridiculous.
Alexey Romanov
31. alexeyr
@5 For values of "a decade" closer to "three hundred years" since Aegon's landing (for 6 of the kingdoms; 130 years for all 7).
33. Dolphineus
"It's essentially a perpetual, personalized get GREGOR out of jail free card."

Well, what is the alternative? Arrest him? Sure, good luck with that. You first ...
34. Elsinora
#29 -- Yes, turkey is an American bird, not European. But Westeros isn't Europe, nor are the knights in ASOIAF English. I'm pretty sure English knights never built sky cells or fought wights or forged thrones with dragonfire either, but what shatters your suspension of disbelief are turkeys? Seems a bit odd to me, frankly.
Juliet Kestrel
35. Juliet_Kestrel
I studied wildlife biology and ecology in college, and when I read I pay close attention to the wildlife and plants the author puts in. I like picturing fictional species, or imagining real world species in weird fantasy and science fiction settings. I never even batted an eyelash at the thought of turkeys in Westereos mostly because it is in fact not England. What does bother me is inconsistency. If a character is in an alpine forest and notes a particular tree or bird, and then a few chapters later notes the same tree/bird on the beach or in a jungle then I get a little peeved. Well except for generalist species like rats and pigeons, which as everyone knows can adapt to multiple climates and do very well around people and cities. But I won’t bore everyone with ecology lessons.

I admit I had to flex my suspension of disbelief muscles for the 10 year weather cycles, but seemingly real world flora and fauna. Luckily my SoDM are in good shape and I was able to tell myself “it’s magic duh.” I also got the distinct impression from Bran’s flying dream that whatever big magic thing he saw north of the wall is the magic responsible for the weather. I guess I will have to RAFO that though.

Don’t even get me started on entire planets with only one climate/ecosystem. Jungle planet indeed.
Vincent Lane
36. Aegnor

That is a pretty good defense of trial by combat. Good job on the write-up.
37. J M Cornwell
Tyrion believed that by naming Jaime as his champion he would get time off for good behavior and be allowed to sample the feminine wares in a room that didn't have a fourth wall and tilt to an endless spinning death from the eyrie. Bron was his second choice since Lysa wouldn't allow the trial to go so long untried. I got the feeling that the way Tyrion mentioned Jaime was also a sort of boogeyman defense. Everyone know the Kingslayer is a formidable warrior and no one could stand against him, not even with the help of the Seven gods. (Isn't it interesting how there are seven kingdoms and seven gods? I think so.)

There is no doubt that George is visiting plagues (as in Job's plagues in the bible) on the house of Stark, but they're the good guys and good guys, at least so far, do not come out on top. Being good gets you dead and sidling up to the bad, as Tyrion too often does, will set you free and ensure continued life. Kind of a screwed up ethos, but makes for a good story -- or saga.
38. Steve L
"I sincerely hope someone in the Stark household is cognizant of the fact that Bran’s legs need to be constantly checked for injuries, since his nerves can no longer do the job of alerting him that something is wrong."

Paging Maester Luwin, Maester Luwin, please pick up the red courtesy ... er, raven.

Along with (I believe) astronomy and meteorology (for determining when winter starts) healing is one of the areas maesters study and for which they receive a link (silver, according to in their chain.
39. Western Storm
I always loved the description of the Sky Cells.
40. niner
Yay, defenestration! The act is terrible, of course, but the fact that there's a word for it has always cracked me up.

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