Aug 12 2011 2:04pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 20

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 20 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 39 (“Eddard”) and 40 (“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 39: Eddard

What Happens
Ned dreams of his confrontation with Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent and Ser Gerold Hightower, the last remaining faithful knights of Aerys Targaryen’s Kingsguard. Ned had seven men to their three, but when it was over only Ned and the crannogman Howland Reed were left alive after the three knights refused to pledge fealty to Robert. He wakes to find Vayon Poole at his bedside, who tells him he’s been unconscious for over six days, and that the king has commanded that Ned go to him as soon as he wakes. Ned tells him to tell the king that Ned is too weak to leave his bed, and Robert can come here if he wants.

He speaks to his new guard captain, Alyn, who tells him Jaime Lannister has fled the city, and is rumored to be going to join his father at Casterly Rock. He assures Ned his daughters are well, though he comments that Arya seems furious, and that Jory and the others have been sent home for proper burial. Alyn leaves.

Robert and Cersei enter, Robert already drunk. Robert offers him wine, but Cersei declares Ned is lucky to still have a head on his shoulders. Robert tells her to shut up. Ned tells Robert that Catelyn is blameless in the Tyrion affair; she was acting on his orders, as his right as the King’s Hand. Robert demands that Ned have Catelyn release the Imp and Ned apologize to Jaime. Ned asks if he is to forget his men that Jaime had butchered, and Cersei claims that Ned was returning drunk from a brothel and attacked Jaime and his men, not the other way around. Robert admits that Littlefinger had confirmed they were coming from “some whorehouse”, and Ned angrily tells him he was coming back from checking on Robert’s bastard daughter. Robert is abashed at this, and Cersei cold and silent.

Ned asks for permission to hunt down Jaime and bring him back for justice, but Robert refuses, and tells him it ends here. Ned shoots back that he is glad he is no longer the King’s Hand then, if this is Robert’s idea of justice. Cersei taunts Robert, asking him how he tolerates such insolence, and declares that he ought to be in skirts and she in mail. Robert backhands her hard enough to knock her down, and she tells him she will wear the bruise as “a badge of honor”. Robert kicks her out.

Robert admits to Ned that he should not have done that, and remarks despairingly that Rhaegar won even though Robert killed him, because Rhaegar has Lyanna now, while Robert is stuck with Cersei. He pulls out the sigil of the Hand and tosses it at Ned, informing him that he is the King’s Hand again whether he likes it or not. Ned asks why Robert would want him if he refuses to listen to Ned’s counsel.

“Why?” Robert laughed. “Why not? Someone has to rule this damnable kingdom. Put on the badge, Ned. It suits you. And if you ever throw it in my face again, I swear to you, I’ll pin the damned thing on Jaime Lannister.”

Oh, good, Ned’s alive. I was half-wondering, the last time we saw him, whether Pycelle wasn’t going to poison him, or at least attempt to do so, since I’m about two-thirds convinced it wouldn’t be the first time he’s offed a Hand of the King that way. I’m not sure I’m right, but currently I think Pycelle is my top suspect for Jon Arryn’s murder. Which isn’t to say that I think he was in on it alone, of course, but based on what I’ve seen from him I think there’s a very good chance that he was the one who actually did the deed.

Also, dammit. I knew Ned wouldn’t get away from this snake pit of a royal court. Mostly because otherwise there wouldn’t be a story, but also because no one gets off that easy in this series that I’ve seen. (Sheesh.) I’ve already said it, but it’s worth repeating: he SO should have gotten the hell out when he had the chance. Too late now. I guess the only way out is through. Yay, not.

I am so thoroughly unnerved by Robert’s weakness of character it’s not even funny. Someone who is so easily manipulated, and so totally ruled by their excesses, shouldn’t be in charge of a kiddie pool, much less a nation. I’m pretty sure I’ve said that already, but if ever a sentiment bears repeating, it’s that one. The man is a walking disaster waiting to happen. Or maybe he already has happened, and the damage is just taking a while to kick in.

Also, Cersei is a heinous bitch from hell, this is not in dispute, but that still doesn’t excuse Robert hitting her, at all.

[Robert] stared down at his hands, as if he did not quite know what they were. “I was always strong . . . no one could stand before me, no one. How do you fight someone if you can’t hit them?” Confused, the king shook his head.




Christ on a pogo stick, you guys.

This is not rocket science, Robert: “strength” is not only (or even mostly) about who hits the hardest, you dumbass! Seriously, why did anyone think you were smart enough to be a king?

Also, FYI? Anyone who hits anyone else who, for whatever reason, cannot hit back, is scum, full stop. Just because you are apparently too stupid to get why that makes you scum does not reduce your essential scumminess. Oh, and feeling bad about it afterwards? Does not help. Still scum! God.

I loathe Cersei, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t change a thing about how much bullshit that is. Plus, all it means is that she won, Robert; you let her goading get to you, and that makes you the weak one. And that common violence is the only way you can find to reply to her poisonous words makes you pathetic. And doomed to fail, ultimately.

Ugh. I have such deep contempt for people who are so profoundly weak-minded, so afraid of those under their power that physical abuse is their only way to compensate for that fear, that I can hardly express it. Though I’m pretty sure I just gave it the old college try.

“And now it begins,” said Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. He unsheathed Dawn and held it with both hands. The blade was pale as milkglass, alive with light.

“No,” Ned said with sadness in his voice. “Now it ends.” As they came together in a rush of steel and shadow, he could hear Lyanna screaming. “Eddard!” she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death.

“Lord Eddard,” Lyanna called again.

“I promise,” he whispered. “Lya, I promise . . . ”

So I have no idea what any of this is about, but whatever it is, it was very prettily said. I’ll just note it for future reference, shall I?

(Death has blue eyes? Who knew?)

Lastly, this is random, but I could not figure out for the life of me whether “crannogman” was a term that had a real-world meaning, or if it was something Martin had made up. A quick Google for it, though, only shows results for ASOIAF wikis and such, so I’m assuming it’s the latter and it will be explained to me at some point. Okay then!


Chapter 40: Catelyn

What Happens
At dawn, Catelyn and Rodrik confer: Rodrik tells her that Jaime is gathering a host at Casterly Rock, and her brother Edmure has written to say he is guarding the pass unto Tully land, and to promise her that he will yield no ground “without first watering it with Lannister blood.” Catelyn wonders why this didn’t come from her father Hoster, and worries that this means he is very sick. Rodrik says that Lysa meant to tell her about the letter only after the duel, which Catelyn calls “a mummer’s farce.” Catelyn says Lysa let Tyrion play her “like a set of pipes”, and declares her intention to leave that day regardless of the outcome.

Catelyn and Rodrik head to Lysa’s chambers in the hope of talking her out of going through with the challenge. They are met by her uncle Brynden as he storms out, furious at Lysa’s refusal to send men to aid Edmure. He has resigned his post as Knight of the Gate and intends to head to Riverrun at nightfall; Catelyn convinces him to accompany them instead, and promises him that she will get him the men he needs.

They enter to find Lysa and young Robert holding court in the garden where the duel is to take place. Catelyn tries to convince Lysa to call off the challenge, telling her the Imp has no value dead, and if he should win… several of the Lords assure her condescendingly that there is no way a common sellsword could prevail against Ser Vardis, but Catelyn has seen Bronn fight, and she is not so sure. She reminds Lysa that Tyrion is Catelyn’s prisoner, but Lysa shouts that he murdered her husband and she means to see him pay.

Aside, Rodrik asks Catelyn if she really believes Tyrion killed Arryn; Catelyn is sure that the Lannisters did it, but is not sure Tyrion personally was involved. She remembers that Lysa’s original letter had named Cersei, not Tyrion, but now she seems to have changed her mind. Rodrik points out that poison might be something Cersei or Tyrion would use, but is an unlikely choice for Jaime. They discuss young Robert’s need to be away from his mother to learn discipline, and overhearing them, Maester Colemon mentions that Lord Jon agreed, and had been planning to send the boy to foster at Dragonstone.

“You are mistaken, Maester,” Catelyn said. “It was Casterly Rock, not Dragonstone, and those arrangements were made after the Hand’s death, without my sister’s consent.”

The maester’s head jerked so vigorously at the end of his absurdly long neck that he looked half a puppet himself. “No, begging your forgiveness, my lady, but it was Lord Jon who—”

They are interrupted when Tyrion is brought in and the two champions enter; Catelyn notes that Bronn is taller and younger than Vardis, and is wearing half the weight of armor that Vardis is. Lysa mentions proudly that the sword Vardis is using is Jon’s, and Catelyn thinks it would have been better for Vardis to use his own. The duel begins, and it quickly becomes clear that Bronn intends to wear Vardis down. Catelyn remembers the duel many years ago between Brandon Stark and Petyr Baelish, and how Petyr hadn’t stood a chance, but refused to yield until Brandon had almost fatally wounded him.

Vardis is tiring, and as the fight continues he loses more and more ground to Bronn. At Lysa’s urging Vardis makes one last charge, but Bronn pins him underneath a statue and kills him. There is a shocked silence. Young Robert asks if he gets to make the little man fly now, and Tyrion tells him no, and declares his intent to leave. Furious, Lysa is forced to allow it, and orders that Tyrion and Bronn be given horses and supplies and set free at the Bloody Gate. Catelyn knows that leaving them to traverse the high road alone is as just as much of a death sentence, and thinks Tyrion knows it too, but Tyrion only bows and remarks that they know the way.

Well, I don’t know how much the gods had to do with it, but that duel ended the way it should have, for my money. Yay, Tyrion lives to snark another day!

Though it’s a crying shame Ser Vardis had to lose his life, just because his liege lady is an idiot. It always sucks the most when nice guys get the shaft (er, literally, in this case) just for doing their duty.

At least Catelyn gets points for being fully aware of how unhinged Lysa is. Actually, Catelyn talks nothing but sense this entire chapter. Like this, for instance:

“What will we gain by the dwarf’s death? Do you imagine that Jaime will care a fig that we gave his brother a trial before we flung him off a mountain?”

Preach it, sister. Not that Jaime doesn’t seem bound and determined to start some shit anyway, but no, I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have helped.

I also took a certain grim glee in how Catelyn totally called the duel in Bronn’s favor from the start and, of course, was completely right, even as the jackass courtiers were all busily mansplaining to her how she was too female to understand how these things worked.

It’s times like these I really wish there were such a thing as a “disdain” font, so you could properly appreciate the tone in which I typed that last. *rolls eyes*

Ser Lyn was a different sort of folly; lean and handsome, heir to an ancient but impoverished house, but vain, reckless, hot-tempered . . . and, it was whispered, notoriously uninterested in the intimate charms of women.

Well, hey, look at that. A direct and completely unambiguous reference to male homosexuality! Gosh, it’s been ages since I’ve seen one of those!

(For those of you who only follow this blog and not my other one, let’s just say that’s a little inside joke, there.)

It’s not a particularly flattering reference, of course, but in this setting I’m hardly surprised by that. It remains to be seen whether the other big hurdle on this front will be accomplished in ASOIAF: a gay character with a significant speaking role — or even, if we want to get just crazy up in here, a gay character who is sympathetic and/or not a screaming caricature of stereotypes. I live in hope!

(Note: That is NOT an invitation to list in the comments ASOIAF characters I may meet in the future who are gay. Spoilers Bad, y’all. Shh!)

Back to the plot(ting), we also have here Maester Colemon’s extremely intriguing information here that Arryn planned to send young Robert off to be fostered with Stannis (who I believe is at Dragonstone, right?) even before King Robert decided to send the boy to the Lannisters after Arryn’s death. That, my friends, is very, very interesting.

Because, you know, it occurs to me that while I totally understood (and agreed with) Lysa’s vehement rejection of the idea of sending her son to be fostered with the Lannisters, because yeek, after actually meeting her I think it’s safe to say that fostering young Robert at all is something Lysa would have been violently against, no matter who the kid would have been going to.

Violently against enough, perhaps, to murder her own husband?

…I dunno. I might be wildly overthinking this, and it is admittedly a fairly horrific notion. But, you guys. Lysa? Is not right in the head. Especially when it comes to her ickle widdle wovey-dovey baby schnookums, there. I’m just saying.

…Okay, so maybe Pycelle isn’t my top suspect in the Murder Of Jon Arryn. Maybe. Agh. So many motives, so little time!

Oy, my head, she’s a-spinning. Which is a good sign I oughta get off this merry-go-round! Have a prog-rock-FABULOUS weekend, peoples, and I’ll see youze later!

1. Mouette

Not spoiling anything, so I'll just say I'm still enjoying your fresh perspective and commentary. So much so that you made me start trying to read WoT again so I could read your *other* blog. Go Leigh!
2. bowen marsh
A crannogman is a man who lives in a Crannog:
3. BFG
Robert increasingly comes across as an idiot. Sad (? not sure it's the right word) to compare it to Neds recollections in the first couple of chapters.

Particularly good timing for the 'male equivalent of pillowfriends' reference considering the other thread.

I'll second the above comment, love the commentary!
Hugh Arai
4. HArai
Leigh, just google "crannog". You'll get a whole lot more traction. It's not at all original to GRRM.
Carolyn Hoffman
5. carolynh07
Oh, Leigh,

You are so funny, and this is one of your best blog posts so far, IMHO.

Frankly, as awful as Robert and Cersei are, they so totally deserve each other that I can't even say how much. One thing I've never quite been able to reconcile is that at one time Robert must have been reasonably okay or no one would have wanted him for king, however strong his claim to the throne. So what has happened in the intervening years. Cersei? Has he addled himself so much with drink? Was everyone simply wrong about him? Maybe they thought he would mature and grow into the job. I've never quite understood how such a buffon and a drunkard and someone who's essentially wrong all the time could end up chosen to be king.

Catelyn gets very high marks in this section.

Tyrion: oh, what a hoot! He slips and slides and talks his way out of death yet again. What a talent for survival this one has. And wouldn't you think that someone in his family would have noticed that by now, despite his stature?
6. TG12
Definitely flag Ned's dream that opens his chapter for future reference. In addition to being (IMHO) one of the most iconic, beautifully written fragments in the entire series, there have probably been as many buckets of electrons spilled about the import of that dream over the years as any other event or forshadowing in the series... (At least until we get to a certain sequence in the second book).
shawn keeling
7. longerwaves
Hey Leigh, I don't think this is much of a spoiler when I tell you that the "Crannogman" is a term used for the peoples that live in a marshland or boggy area. Note his last name is 'Reed'. Also, (and this is just a guess) I did not notice this until just now but I think that it was also meant as a play on the word "Cromagnon", as the "Crannogman" people are somewhat looked down on as barbaric and wild because of where they live. That is all.
Your ead of ASOIAF is very entertaining so far and as someone who has read the series twice already it is fun hearing (reading) you talk (type) about it as you read it for the first time. I know other people have said this but really, I don't know how you can only read two chapters at a time. When I got about a hunert pages in I could not put it (them) down.
Anywho, good reading, good writing and good day.
8. Chrysippus4321
When looking at who is homosexual, keep in mind not only the culture ASOIAF is set in but also the narrators. The children would probably not see it and Catelyn and Ned would probably avoid seeking out dishonorable rumors.
Rob Munnelly
9. RobMRobM
I love the Kingsguard dialogue up front - it almost defines bad*ss. And Ned's response is just as much so. One pull back from earlier in the book - Catelyn discussed how one of the rumored mothers of Jon Snow was Ashara Dayne. And, sure, feel free to note this scene for future reference. Yet another puzzle for your puzzler to puzzle.

Robert has his own bad*ass response to Cersei's "badge of honor" line - "Be quiet or I will honor you again" or some such. I actually thought it was touching when he tells Ned hitting Cersei was not "kingly." What a sad, sad man.

Yes, Catelyn is sharp as a tack here (as she is to date in the book except for being mean to Jon Snow and some little incident at an Inn a while back) but also have to love the Blackfish.

"....her ickle widdle wovey-dovey baby schnookums." You said it, sister.

I agree with your gaydar sense re Lyn. I've always wondered why Cat's uncle, the Blackfish, has remained unmarried. Perhaps he's just devoted to his work or picky.

Steve McCracken
10. yocxl
Yeah... Howland Reed's people live in the Neck, which is full of bogs and swamps, etc. So there are probably a good amount of crannogs, hence the nickname crannogmen.
Maiane Bakroeva
11. Isilel
Death has blue eyes? Who knew?

Remember the Prologue! Dum-dum-dum!

Re: Robert, he was a great fighter, who personally made a difference in several battles, good-looking, chivalric towards defeated enemies and had superficial charisma. That made him an attractive enough figurehead at the time of war. Particularly since the king was a cowardly madman.

OTOH, all Robert's vices and weaknesses were already present when he was young, as careful reading of AGoT reveals, - young Ned just saw him through rose-colored glasses.
And in the time of peace, Robert's strengths were uncalled for and degenerated too.

Him blowing it with Cersei didn't help either - for all Robert's womanizing he just had no clue how to court a woman who didn't immediately fall for him/whom he'd offended.
So, he felt intimidated by Cersei and came to her drunk, which in turn made her ever more cold and hateful, etc. the vicious cycle... Not to mention that he was unlikely to cease his whoring even in the best of circumstances.
12. Filipe
I never noticed before that Ned mentions why he was in the whorehouse in this scene. Sometimes I forget how many thing dumb things Ned does in GoT.
Vincent Lane
13. Aegnor

Regarding the whole gay character debate. Your comments on this totally support my argument in that WoT thread. We don't know enough male characters in WoT well enough to even know if they are gay or not. There very well may be gay characters and we just don't know that they are gay. There is a fairly small subset of males where we even know enough about them to know this kind of information.

The same applies here in this series. There very well could be gay characters in this series (other than the guy from this chapter). We just don't know enough about them at this point in the story to know that type of information. It is not something that comes up in casual conversation for the most part.
14. bbasdfasdf
Funny that Leigh is so homo-centric when the opportunity arises in these re/reads, but her gaydar in this series has been pretty detuned.

we already have a fairly important, sympathetic gay character in ASOIAF. Who of them, actually.

and they're TOGETHER.

and apparently you've missed it?
Andrew Danielson
15. wonderandy
(Note: That is NOT an invitation to list in the comments ASOIAF characters I may meet in the future who are gay. Spoilers Bad, y’all. Shh!)

What about characters you already know who just happen to be gay??? mwahahaha!!
16. Duvall
bbasdfasdf: Most of the clues to that aren't even in this book.
17. Zeynep
(Death has blue eyes? Who knew?)

ObVious: Pratchett?
18. Megaduck

What about characters you already know who just happen to be gay??? mwahahaha!!

Dammit, I was going to say that... and with almost the exact same words too!

Tyrion... is awsome. Nuff said.

This is actually the chapter (39) when I stopped dislikeing Robert and started pitying him instead. He's trapped, totally and compleatly trapped. He built his own hell, he's locked in by his own flaws as a person, and the worst part is?

He knows it.

I can't think of a worse situation for anyone to be in. Poor guy.
19. Clay Ford
Ahh the resentment and projection of the weak and timid. Robert isn't even slightly afraid of Cirsei. He laughs at fear. He doesn't hide, suppress or restrain his feelings, he doesn't do subtle. He is refreshingly honest and straighforward. She wasn't just goading him, she was insulting him, after impugning and threatening his clostest friend. She angered him, after being warned. He hearkens from a setting where people aren't afraid to discipline sternly. What do you think works on people like Cirsei, stern words? She deserved a smack and got one, and got of lightly. Robert would scoff at scum if someone ever had the guts to criticise him to his face other than Ned.
Benjamin Moldovan
20. benpmoldovan
Hi Leigh,

I can totally sympathize with your point of view re: the condescention towards Catelyn. That said, I have to say that it just irritates the crap out of me most of the time when I see the prefix man- attached to just about anything these days. Almost invariably, (but not always) the term is derogatory, condescending, and/or outright anti-male-type sexist. In a word, offensive. As if anything associated with men is contemptible. “man-pain” “man-purse” etc etc. Not that the character(s) you were deriding in this case didn’t deserve it, of course. And heck, let’s face it. We’ve got a glimpse of your character through your blogs the last few years. I have no doubt that you had no intention of being offensive or sexist. That’s just how that type of phrase comes across to me. Not mad or anything, cuz I know you didn’t mean it as such. Look, it’s not like I go around being all hypersensitive and offended all the time. Frankly, most of the time, I hardly give a crap what people think. This just happens to be something that tends to rub me the wrong way. Sallimsayin.

21. Umbardacil
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who pities Robert. Frankly, I could never call up much dislike for the guy. I just felt sorry for him. He's trapped in a situation that he cannot escape, not only because people won't let him, but because he's incapable of trying. It's hell. He doesn't deserve to be king certainly, but he's no Aerys.

Perhaps that's why I don't feel too bad about him hitting Cersei, though that's probably more to do with the kind of person Cersei is. She is far, far worse that Robert could ever be and frankly she deseves to be hit a few times, just like Tyrion slapped Joffrey for his callousness and lack of propriety back in Winterfell. Only since it's Robert doing it, it becomes abuse. Now, if Tyrion gave her a few slaps on account of how she's always treated him...

Lysa scares me a little actually. I feel really sorry for poor Robert (the little one). He's so messed up I don't think he'll ever really recover, especially if his mother keeps smothering him and keeps cultivating his latent sociopathy. I can just imagine a six-year old being deliriously excited about seeing someone "fly", which makes it all the worse. *shiver*
22. Sal Serio
The thing with Robert that I have seen is that he is a jerk now because he never loved Cersei. His love was Lyanna (as pointed out in the crypts near the beginning of the book) and if he would have taken her for a wife like he intended, he would be a much different person than he is at this point in the story.
As far as his interaction with Cersei... as far as I see it, some people, no matter how diplomatic or restrained you are, just get to a point where they need a good slap across the face. Often times, how they react will bring out their true nature. It is a convoluted thing, really. Personally, I feel that what he was sorry about is the fact that she did goad him to the point where he lost his cool. I have to agree with Megaduck... I truly pity him at this stage of the "game".
23. einarai
I don't really agree with the general perspective on Robert here. For me he was always a sympathetic character, you know, an open-hearted man who behaves angry when he is angry and behaves jolly when he is jolly. Yeah he can hit a woman when he's angry, which is awful, but this just shows what sort of man he is - unable to contain his emotion within himself. He is no politician and maybe a bad husband, but I suspect if he was your buddy, he would be the one you have trust in and have good time with.
Robert for instance would never plot behind your back or be silent if he doesnt like something about you. He'd say it outright (or hit you) but you'll always know that his heart is open with you. In that way he's even a better man than Ned- because Ned can be oh so sneaky and we never knew any of his secrets (which are hinted at during the Tower of Joy scene) ever.

Also, Leigh there is a major speaking-role character in GoT who is a male homosexual and you've also seen him "on screen" several times. He'd probably be in your top 10 most important GoT characters if you were to make that list right now. So thats for you to figure out.
24. dogshouse
Saw an interview with GRRM linked from the Tor site somewhere, and gay characters came up. I guess there ain't much doubt left in the HBO series about the two hinted at above, and Martin said it was true to his intent. He's apparantly taking more explicit gay sex scenes under advisement for future volumes.
Juliet Kestrel
25. Juliet_Kestrel
I agree with Megaduck @18 I feel horrible for King Rob.

I feel more horrible for the people of the realm though. He is certainly not an effective ruler and the people only have Joff to look forward to afterwards. I do not think the Baratheon dynasty will be a happy time for anyone in the Seven Kingdoms.

I find myself still pitying Ned more than King Rob. Can’t the good guys get rewarded for being good just a little?

I think Lysa is deranged, but not kill her husband deranged. I think she fled King’s Landing out of fear not guilt. I will have to think on the Robin fostering with Stannis over Lord Tywin a little more. There is something there. I dunno what yet.

I had a feeling Tyrion would get out of this pickle. He strikes me as the survivor type. Don’t highborn people usually only fight to first blood? Or where the two champions not highborn enough? They were fighting FOR people highborn enough, or does that not count?

I am begrudgingly starting to like Cat a little more. If she is going to continue to be cool and smart, I hope Jon Snow does something for her, or to her specifically, that is so totally awesome that she can’t ignore it.
Corey Sees
26. CorwinOfAmber
@2.Bowen Marsh
Holy crap! I thought he made that up!
Paul Boulos
27. PaulieX
Regarding Robert being King. He was perfect to be named King at the time he ascended. He was fearless in battle; nobody could match him. But his strength in battle did not carry over to strength in peace. He did not want to administer and run a kingdom. He wanted to hunt, fight, and whore. If only Ned or Jon Arryn had taken the throne...we would have been much better off. As it stands...we have a story to read about. :)
Iain Cupples
28. NumberNone
His love was Lyanna (as pointed out in the crypts near the beginning of the book) and if he would have taken her for a wife like he intended, he would be a much different person than he is at this point in the story.

"Love is sweet, dearest Ned, but it cannot change a man's nature." Lyanna's own words about Robert: they suggest that she wasn't so sanguine.

That said, I do pity Robert too. He does have good qualities, which are easy to forget sometimes: he's brave (of course), generous, funny, and straightforward. But he's also immature, selfish, impulsive, lazy and of course violent. And there is no excuse for what he does to Cersei in this chapter.
Hugh Arai
29. HArai
Juliet_Kestral@25: Regarding fighting to first blood, from what I understand trial by combat was generally expected to run until one combatant was dead or too disabled to continue, or the plaintiff surrenders. Not that you'd expect the defendant to surrender, but I don't believe they were given the option. There were apparently serious penalties to the plaintiff if they surrendered. The weak (for varying definitions of weak) were allowed to decline the challenge and insist on trial by jury. Not always helpful, like in Tyrion's case here. I'm not entirely sure how the rules changed (if at all) if champions were used.

So short version: Generally death or very close to it for trial by combat.
Joe Vondracek
30. joev
Arryn planned to send young Robert off to be fostered with Stannis (who I believe is at Dragonstone, right?)


Definitely flag Ned's dream that opens his chapter for future reference. In addition to being (IMHO) one of the most iconic, beautifully written fragments in the entire series...

Yeah, that's probably my favorite bit in the books so far, just because of the way it was written. GRRM did a change-up. As to its significance, that's hard to say at this point since it could just be Ned's delerium distorting past events. I know that when I read this part, I thought that it must be an accurate recollection because Ned keeps thinking of his promise to Lyanna so this event was very much on his mind, fevered or not. Also, the law firm of Whent, Hightower and Dayne must have been some real badasses to acquit themselves so well when outnumbered as they were, although apparently Ned is something of a badass himself at this point in the war.
Kevin Maroney
31. womzilla
I have a theory (possibly tautological) that most of the characters of A Game of Thrones are trapped by the narratives they have been led to believe. Robert is trapped by the narrative of his own (righteous) rebellion, not realizing that the virtues that make for a great rebel are not necessarily the virtues of a good king.
32. Filipe
#22: But does Robert really love Lyanna or "Lyanna"? I think there's enough hints throughout GoT to suggest Robert doesn't actually know much about Lyanna, she was the beautiful sister of his pal Ned he expected to marry not a real person to him. That mrriage might have worled as well as Ned and Cat, but it might ened up as bad as his own to Cersei.
Juliet Kestrel
33. Juliet_Kestrel
@25 thanks! That is interesting. I guess the first blood thing only counts for regular ol’ honor duels, not trial ones.
Mikey Bennett
34. EvilMonkey
Oh if Robert could have been a General.

There are just some people of the type where they are just unsuited to peace. The keystone for Robert's self-made prison was his charisma. Without it he'd probably be dead. With it he gained a kingdom he never wanted to rule and a wife he cannot stand, one who sleeps with her own brother and insults him in front of his friends. To summarize, bad ruler but a good guy to have a beer with or stand back to back with in a barfight.
@11 Isilel
I agree with you. In fact I would take it a step farther regarding chilvary toward his defeated enemies. He was the type of man who inspired loyalty in his younger years. Jon Arryn, loyal bannerman and Warden of the East, started a war because he refused to give up his ward for execution by the Mad King. Barriston Selmy, one of the greatest knights of his generation and Kingsguard to that same Mad King, took a pardon and served loyally to Robert when he could have made things royally difficult for the new administration had he so chosen. The way he handled the aftermath of the war was excellent and ended conflict much more quickly than if a less charasmatic (and less deadly) man had acended the throne. His skills could make peace but he could have never maintained it given his personality type. Charisma and personal charm can only take you so far. A battleaxe hanging on a wall too long becomes useless.

Unfortunately for the kingdom, Robert was the best option at the time of his acension to rule. Ned was not and is not personable enough to rule a kingdom of such size and diversity. He did well in the north, could do equally well in smaller provinces, but as we see in his tenure as King's Hand he is just not worldly enough to be effective in a court full of piranas. You could argue that Ned's court would not be as virulent as Robert's but considering the types of people who gather at the faunt of power I can reasonably say that Ned's court would have been different but no less virulent. Plus, his sense of honor would probably blind him to most of the plots of office. Jon Arryn from what I can see is cut from the same cloth as Ned. Also, at the time of the rebellion he was in his 40's and had no children even though he had been married 2wice. A king with no heirs is a succession battle ready to happen and the new administration needed legitimacy more than anything. While Robert and Ned were in their teens and could reasonally be counted on to produce heirs, with Arryn it was not so certain since it had yet to happen already. Their was really no one else with the right combination of rank and connections to acend the throne and make it stick besides those 3, and Robert was the best of a bad lot. Now if Tywin Lannister could have acended the throne I believe he would have made a better ruler than any of them simply because 95% of the kingdom would be too frightened to cross him.
Mikey Bennett
35. EvilMonkey
Double Post.
Hugh Arai
36. HArai
Juliet_Kestral@33: That's my understanding. Of course, in various times and places where honor duels were legal there was often a certain much to be feared subset of duelists who would ensure that first blood was lethal whether for money, politics or personal enjoyment.
Tricia Irish
37. Tektonica

I was wondering about that myself.....Did he and Lyanna have a relationship? I didn't get the feeling that they knew each other all that well. Maybe it was just a Betrothal and a Fancy.

You know how a memory can become iconic, even changed over time in your mind? I get the feeling that losing Lyanna was a defining moment in Robert's life, in his own mind. He has been in Victim mode ever since. This seems to be his excuse for his excesses, his lack of love for Cersei, his whoring, drinking, lack of ruling. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions or lack thereof, he drowns himself in excesses, convincing himself it all would've worked out differently if he hadn't lost Lyanna.

I hadn't looked at him in this way before. I saw him as a victim, but of the Peter Principle....rising to a higher position than his competence .....and indeed, he may be that too. But I think he wallows in the Past and his Lost Love, and it provides an excuse for his debauchery.
38. ftbleighjkjk
Just wanted to say that -as contentious and horrible as it may be- Robert's line (which you cut from the recap, for shame) should qualify as a MoA: "Wear it in silence or I'll honor you again."
I say this in full awareness of my male privilege, and that it's horrible to hit women, etc, and so forth, ad naseum, ad infinitum.
But let's face facts: Cersei deserves her frakking head cut off. Wearing a pair of oversize Rayban's for a few days is getting off light.
Robert gets so little in these books. Let's give him this.
Stefan Mitev
39. Bergmaniac
I've never liked Robert at all. He is a terrible king, a drunk and a womaniser, and didn't care that he drove his kingdom into huge debt to have his fun with tournaments and stuff like that. If he was forced into the job of a King I would've felt some pity, but he wasn't - he could've refused to take the throne and put Jon Arryn there, or Ned. He could also have still picked one of them for a Hand and really get behind them instead of undermining them at every turn as he did throughout AGOT and probably did often during Arryn's time as a Hand too. But he wanted to have his cake and eat it too - to have the power of king so he can get his big tournaments whenever he wanted and enough gold to indulge all his whims, and the glory of taking over the Iron throne, but he was completely disinterested in actually ruling since that was boring.

Cersei is pretty terrible to him, but given the way Robert treats her, he deserves most of it. His infidelity is legendary throughout the realm which is really humiliating for her, he's not above hitting her as we see here, and it's hardly a secret that he's still in love with Lyanna. Of course, he'd still have cheated if his wife was Lyanna, since he's a guy with no self control, but he deludes himself by thinking how he'd have been a great husband to Lyanna, and that sense of self-pity for what could've been makes him even more irresponsible.
40. Lsana
One important reason Robert became King that we haven't mentioned here is that Robert had the best blood claim of anyone involved in the rebellion. By putting Robert on the throne, Ned and Jon Arryn hoped to signal that what they were doing was a rebellion against a single, unjust king as opposed to an attempt to overthrow the whole system. Yes, it sounds stupid to 21st century Americans, but the blood claim absolutely mattered in the feudal system, and would have been important to many of the people involved.


There is definitely more than a touch of Robert being in love with "Lyanna the ideal" rather than "Lyanna the woman." However, Lyanna was not Cersei, and I do think that Robert would have been better if he had been married to her.
Anthony Pero
41. anthonypero
Ha! Scientific proof that the spoiler Nazis are just wrong!

Spoiler alert: Spoilers don't ruin stories, after all

See? We were doing it for your own Good ;) *crawls back into his hole*
42. sofrina
@40 0 i read the entire book and the only place that was mentioned was the appendix at the end. even then it is not mentioned connection with robert usurping the targaryen throne.

leigh has not gotten there yet.
Mikey Bennett
43. EvilMonkey
It's mentioned earlier than that, when Ned and Robert are musing. Robert said Ned should have taken the throne whereas Ned replies that Robert had a better claim. I'd have to look back on the book but I think this happened during the ride back to Kings Landing from Winterfell. If it fell where I think it fell then Leigh has already passed it up.
lake sidey
44. lakesidey
@42: Leigh must have read this, several chapters ago:

Robert sat down again. “Damn you, Ned Stark. You and Jon Arryn, I loved you both. What have you done to me? You were the one should have been king, you or Jon.”
“You had the better claim, Your Grace.”

(Edit: I see EvilMonkey beat me to it. That was....evil of you, ser!)

@Leigh: loving the re-read. Also..... *grin* at at least 2 things you said.

(P.S. Are we allowed to give spoilers about people who like little boys? or camels? or goats?)

Juliet Kestrel
45. Juliet_Kestrel
@41 anthonypero
The spoiler police still don’t like spoliers regardless of university studies.
There are a lot of things I do not like about the study, but I posted those on that thread.

Although I had to start over my "days since last spolier discussion on aSoIaF counter." Back down to zero. Sigh
Mikey Bennett
46. EvilMonkey
Thanx Lake! Both for the compliment and for finding the quote I was too lazy to find. Made of Awesomesauce.
47. GladLeighHasNoEditButton
Leigh, you are the absolute Queen of Fabulous, and your Blogs are pretty damn delightful too, have never enjoyed re-reads so much, as this and your WOT.
As for; - the crannogman Howland Reed
Poster upthread linked 'crannog', like the Scots, the crannogman/peoples live in a wet cool region; as Westeros is akin to Europe, per GRRM
- Robert laughed. “Why not? Someone has to rule this damnable kingdom. Put on the badge, Ned."
Robert was aware that like other monarchs, he was the 'iron fist and not the brains' of the kingdom. The governance of politics, economy etc. fell to the Hand, ex. Arryn and Stark, with advice of the Council.
Also, Robert was a strong/iron fist, and decent ruler, kept peace during his whole reign, and was a monumental improvement over insane murder happy Aerys.
- Robert smacking C;
yes, it is disgusting, but as ASOIAF is partly inspired by the 'Wars of the Roses'; keep in mind the perspective of medieval roles and laws, and those laws which controlled the barely evolved thuggish bullying society in the feudal system…those with the money/better weapons made the rules. With the rise of Catholic the Faith's power/influence/total misogyny – since during much of the feudal era, the clergy were mostly the only ones who could read and write…Propaganda Incorporated… the patriarchal structure authority reduced females to brood mares, who were completely abused physically mentally spiritually – thus the 'sacred' virginity and wedding consummation/bloody sheet was devised, to make sure the legal heir was from the Husband, as 99% of marriages were only legal contracts to solidify wealth/alliances. So besides the fact that Robert's marriage was political, the bride was not innocent/virgin/honest; she was first, last and foremost in love with her self brother and never wanted anyone to share 'that pedestal'.
- Robert cheating on C; well….First of all, is the massive fact that C cheated first, with revolting twincest as teens and never stopping. Second, any illegitimate kids of Robert's weren't lied about, made royal heirs or scammed into being raised by the manipulated spouse-who-believes-the-kids-are-biological-offspring…so really, who exactly is the slimeball here.
- '…in a rush of steel and shadow, he could hear Lyanna screaming. “Eddard!” she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death; (Death has blue eyes? Who knew?)
Actually, in Westeros, Death a.k.a. the Others, do have 'chilling blue eyes', BUT, it could also be a more elegant imagery of someone who just died, with eyes frozen open, reflecting the blue sky…which given GRRM's 'artistry', is very likely; either way, gorgeous wording and one of a hundred favorites of his.
- Tyrion lives to snark another day
He is my favorite character, and I might add, reminds me of my favorite blogger… n snarky!
- Catelyn gets points for being fully aware of how unhinged Lysa is
Not! Catelyn is a total stuck up self serving hypocrital schmuck. Just because she states the mega obvious doesn't make her medieval Einstein…it's like she said that ice is cold…duh really? Like Leigh said, the NoShitSherlock award.
- will be accomplished in ASOIAF: a gay character with a significant speaking role or…get just crazy…a gay character who is sympathetic and/or not a screaming caricature of stereotypes. I live in hope!
With you on this, and hope is good, especially with GRRM's gritty non-PC realism. Meanwhile, what is it with authors and not having the guts to write LGBT heros/great characters? The only 'mainstream' story, out of numerous genres, that had decent gay characters were in the Valdemar series. WTF? It's total bs. I would have thought that of any genre, SFF would be modern and evolved.
- fostering young Robert at all is something Lysa would have been violently against, no matter who…enough, perhaps, to murder her own husband? Lysa? Is not right in the head. …So many motives, so little time!
The way your mind works is kinda diabolical; maybe, as Lysa has lots of benefits murdering Jon, but she is also Without a Husband, which weakens her stupid misogyny medieval position; so someone richer/stronger like King Robert or Tywin Lannister, can actually just take her kid…her bolthole has a limited shelf life…and she's a fully certified loony tune.

Do not meddle with Dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup!
Maiane Bakroeva
48. Isilel
GladLeighHasNoEditButton @47:

Also, Robert was a strong/iron fist, and decent ruler, kept peace during his whole reign, and was a monumental improvement over insane murder happy Aerys.

Was he, though? He managed to run the realm into huge debt, although he had the fortune to rule over 9 years of summer without any epidemics or natural disasters.
Now, if 9-year-summer gets followed by a 9-year winter, as seems possible/likely, people of Westeros are going to pay thousandfold for Robert's excesses.

Robert will probably turn out to be much worse king for Westeros in the long term than Aerys - who, at least, had an excuse of being ill. And under whom Westeros had 20 years of peace and plenty until Tywin retired and who left a full treasury even after Rebellion.

Also, the worst thing about Robert as king was that despite being uninterested, he didn't just let Jon Arryn rule without interference. Jon Arryn may not have been a brilliant politician, but among the rebel triumvirate he was the best and had decades of experience ruling his own domain besides. He would have done a decent enough job if Robert didn't chose to undermine him.

Re: Roberts's charisma - it is interesting that he didn't manage to keep/aquire any loyal friends/supporters besides those of his childhood - Jon Arryn and Ned. His isolation is entirely his own fault. Heck, he could have tried to win the loyalty of his Lannister squires instead of bullying and mocking them at every turn. Normally, squiring often leads to lifelong friendships and devotion in this society, but not with Robert, clearly.

Re: Lyanna, it is important to remember that Arya is said to resemble her personality-wise. So, I am not sure that she'd have taken kindly to a faithless, spenddrift husband whom she'd been forced to marry. Didn't Ned ruminate how Robert never saw Lyanna's steel under her beauty? So, I doubt that this marriage would have gone down well either.
Also, Robert himself told Ned how he was having the time of his life and bedding legions of girls while Lyanna was suffering in captivity. This doesn't jive with any great love on his part at all.

Ironically, Robert probably would have been happiest in the long run if Jon Arryn didn't chose to rebel on his and Ned's behalf and Robert had to go into exile and become a sellsword.
Kristina Blake
49. kab1
@47, hopefully Leigh hasn't read your post carefully.  Please reread your post and edit the one sentence that is a very leading spoiler as to something that I don't think Leigh has figured out yet (unless I missed a post). Although I don't think you even realized what you put it in there!

Sorry I can't be more specific to what sentence I'm referring too (I can't figure out how to do the white out thing on my tablet).

 I'm fairly certain that she wants to figure things out on her own or when the book blatently says something, not by leading comments by us. thanks!  If I missed something and Leigh has already puzzled out this particular puzzle- my apologies!

@mods-  or if the mods could fix this- great! 
Sydo Zandstra
50. Fiddler

GladLeighHasNoEditButton doesn't have a registered account, so if necessary it will have to be a mod doing the editing.


You may want to register. It's free, you can get occasional free goodies (like early excerpts or free short stories) from time to time, and most importantly, you gain the ability to edit your posts... :)

Antoni Ivanov
51. tonka
It's 'funny' that some people are so riled up when someone is abusing phisically but when the abuse is mental - when someone superiously intelligent taking advantage of someone more ordinary.You know manipulating them - in a way forcing them to do things they don't want to but make them think they do - that's worse in some ways. You can manipulate people into killing, stealing, lying, hurting other people emotionally or even phisically. We actually applaud them - look at Tyrion. He is smarter than most, and he knows it and he is not afraid to use this in order to get what he wants. And we love him for that.

Of course Robert hitting Cersei was bad, though she deserve it, and bullying is bad, I'd know, people have bullied me, sucessfully when I was younger, not so much when I became older. But also the same is about the clever one when they manipulate those not so bright. Why won't we look at those people, who are so much more smarter than other and can use their talent to abuse the others - from simple mocking to manipulating the other person.

How is that any better then someone hitting another person? Of course in the end it comes down to motivation, and reasons for doing the things you do - if you are trying to protect yourself or someone else - then both hitting and manipulating is fine, I suppose? Or is it? Where is the line ? When do we cross it?

People should not be too hard on Robert for hitting Cersei. There are those who would bully and not look behind. Robert realizes that what he did was wrong, that is much better than the alternative.There was this guy hit his girlfriend once when he was a bit drunk. She provoked him but that was not excuse - I remember being angry at him for weeks.But he appologized, made amends and so on. And they are together now for years since the incident and of course he never hit her again. And Cersei might be phisically weaker but she is hardly someone who cannot defend herself so really spousal abuse is not good comparison here. Robert has done many bad things and many mistakes, including hitting Cersei, as Leigh says she wins this way (at least the moral high ground. Ha!). If Cersei was some helpless woman and he hit her in his drunkedness, rage - then I'd understand Leigh's strong reaction. But Cersei is anything but helpless.
Captain Hammer
52. Randalator
Actually, Catelyn talks nothing but sense this entire chapter. Like this, for instance:

“What will we gain by the dwarf’s death? Do you imagine that Jaime will care a fig that we gave his brother a trial before we flung him off a mountain?”

Really, Catelyn? Really? Now you figure that out? What was the whole point in taking him in the first place if not a trial and an execution? You may be talking sense here, but your sense is pretty damn freaking late to the party, Lady!
Antoni Ivanov
53. tonka
Taking Tyrion - she gains a valuable hostage, and some link to find out what really happened, not mentioning that she believed him guilty then hence chance for justice. You cannot campare this to killing him - then you lose all advantage you have by holding him. Taking Tyrion was not really a bad move . This war most likely would have started one way or another - Cersei and Ned would have made sure of that. And the Starks begin with one hostage up. Giving him up to Lysa was a bad idea but she could not have know how crazy her sister has become.
54. Tenesmus
Are you positive you have not read these books already? Are you just messing with us?

I guess when you can focus on two chapters a week, you can tear them apart and look for tiny tips of icebergs. I dunno... you just seem too prescient for me...

I'll keep reading though...
55. sofrina
@42 and @44 - fair enough, it was mentioned. but the mention has no context unless you've read the appendix. you don't know why robert has a better claim than ned. it's so easy to overlook that i didn't even remember it upon reading the appendix and getting a big aha!

it's more of those things she specifically asks people not to highlight or tie together, at the beginning of every single post. she will get her own aha!s in her own time. as will the rest of us, who had not read the series when the re-read started.
Petra Jordan
56. TastyCrunchyDragonTreat
@49. didn't realize and totally missed that…Goldfish memory
@50. done, registered, dunno why non-reg can't edit, yikes
@48. Isilel; Debt - True, Robert was a party animal type and clueless about budgeting, like most CEOs need a CFO and even then there's fickle 'tides of fortune'… however, the debt is suspicious since it starts when Littlefinger becomes Master of Cheddar Coin. Meanwhile, the mafia monarchs created endless money loopholes to refill the old vault, i.e. new rulers/conquerors would confiscate 'traitor' castles/wealth, or on a more creative note, King Sneaky Henry VIII declared a New Church System nationwide and absconded with all the massive mafia2 Catholic church loot.

In ASOIAF it may have been a plot thread killer if King Robert had declared the self-serving holdout Lannisters as traitors and taken control of their gold mines, which historically has/does happen…rare for anyone to retain vast/biggest pot of wealth without attracting the coveting eye of resident monarch/ruler…not to mention, what can the Lannisters really do to Robert? A medieval debt collection agency…hi we want your loan payback…oh yeah? How about I smash your newly declared treasonous/rebellion family to death and take all your castles/wealth, discard your frigid spiteful bitter aging daughter and get a pretty young trophy wife… yes, just like good old Hal!
Lannister squires – yes, that was a new ploy of miss-obvious and delusional-that-she's-slick wifey, but even Robert knew who they were loyal to.
On that note, Robert did command loyalty/obedience from Day One of his Reign; he was at turns in varying degrees, admired/respected/feared by his family, his Council, his subjects both high and low, his Kingsguard, all knights/City Watch/military, and most importantly, his/the Realm's enemies…foreign and domestic. But as GRRM likes to weave character gorgon loops, the defining trait is a strength is a weakness is a strength and so on and so on…

Lyanna - on the one hand, she was astute and realistic about Robert, which could have made for low expectations sang-froid resignation in a forced alliance/marriage, medieval-female role-congruity, and she was somewhat a party girl/fun partner for Robert, but agree, probably too much fireworks for a stable steady boat ride of marriage/life.
Also, I can't decide if Lyanna/Arya personalities are more anachronistic and modern feminist, or lacking vital adaption life skills, creating some self inflicted drama and being kind of social misfits; either way, Arya is my second favorite.

@51. tonka; yes, m'hm, yep, true, right, uh huh, agree, absolutely….hell yeah...of Special Note; admitting/realizing is the first step…of all self improvement to do lists; and yes, if she smacked him, it would be Totally Different, is that reverse hypocrisy? Or if it was a female character that smacked her….?? Leigh said it best…smackings for everyone!

@53. tonka; ok, here's an idea, Catelyn learns how to play by The Rules of oh, EVERYONE, ever, everywhere…ancient/medieval/modern.
As one poster put it; Cat-I'm abducting you in front of everyone…Tyrion-WTF, my father's gonna get pissed…Cat-whatev…Tyrion-escapes, but Dad is now completely pissed off and starts sharpening his fangs…for some Stark appetizers. Also, Catelyn is smug self-righteous sanctimonious; '…look peons, I am Nobility and spit on illegitimates and most everyone…and because I am Better Than You , I know the Proper Way to Behave, except when I'm inconvenienced then all bets are off and I will do whatever Neanderthal impulse sparks in my don't care about consequences brain.

Rule: ' True Measure of a Person is How They Treat Those Less Fortunate'

@54. Tenesmus; Leigh is very spooky...or having a go at us...
Stefan Mitev
57. Bergmaniac
@55 - the appendix is not really a spoiler - it reflects the situation as it is at the start of the volume (bar a few mistakes) and you're supposed to use it throughout the book to help you keep up who's who in the noble families. So I don't see a problem with using information from it here.

@56 - Robert's debts got massive long before Littlefinger came to court. In fact that was one of the reasons he was raised to such a high position - his predecessors as Master of Coin couldn't keep up with Robert's demands for more gold to waste.
58. Cmm
Does anyone else worry about the winter on the way? The entire realm seems remarkably unconcerned about things like storing up food and fuel to get through a years' long winter. I am into the third book now and my concern for this only keeps growing. It seems like anyone who had been through previous winters would be hoarders by nature. It seems odd that no one ever seems to mention or think about the need for such things. Particularly in a household whose very motto is "Winter is coming"!

Also, several characters have been identified as "summer children" because of their generally gentle and optimistic outlook...have we met any "winter children" and if so, who are they/what are their characteristics. I mean, I can kind of guess what they would be like but it seems weird to have one type identified and personal traits ascribed to the season of birth but not their counterparts. Call it a hunch but I suspect Ned would be a "winter child"!

And if there are specific world views ascribable to seasons of birth or of formative years, what would it mean to a land if the generations alternated or cycled between winter and summer children? especially during lengthy cycles like the current one where a sizable generational cohort would be distinctly of one season or the other...figure around 10 years worth of summer or winter children, with marriage and generational replacement often beginning at ages 13-16, and that truly would be entire generations. Do those kind of clashes based on personality, traits, priorities inform what is going on?

Ponder, ponder.
Antoni Ivanov
59. tonka

Not really true that the Appendix is not spoilery.
Warning: Do not read A Dance with Dragons Appendix before the book, there are some spoilers to spoil you in there.
Irene Gallo
61. Irene
Hey guys,

If someone can email me the sentence in 47, I'll white it out. Unfortunatley I don't know the story well enough to catch it:
Petra Jordan
62. TastyCrunchyDragonTreat
@61. Irene; sent you an email with info; mea culpa and Pardon
@57. Bergmaniac; reposting, lost the first part
Debt - Robert began his reign and some coronation partying ensued; his wedding, tourneys, but in addition was also repairing King's Landing and the realm from the war. Much of the gold pot from Aerys was used. Littlefinger was appointed early in Robert's reign by Jon Arryn, but not to replace the Master of Coin; LF was low to mid level, he worked his way up the ladder of success to Master of Coin, and during those ensuing years, LF met/arranged/utilized many people, i.e. merchants/bankers/shippers/spies/clerks etc. LF and taking over at downfall of the previous Master of Coin, too convenient. So as LF works his way up, the gold goes down and now he has everyone reporting to him, with a finger in every pie...for the Crown...or himself? No one is sure of LF's loyalties or motives, ever. He is always in the wrong places at the right times.
Maiane Bakroeva
63. Isilel
Cmm @58:

Tyrion is a winter child. As he tells folks on the Wall, he was born during a fierce 3-year-long winter. He is also around 24 and lived through 9 winters.

I don't understand ragging on Cat, as she never intended to execute Tyrion and couldn't tell that Lysa became crazy in 5 or so years since their last meeting.

And, please, a male bastard has many more opportunities than a noblewoman. Remember how Ned was telling Arya about all the things Bran could become? Well, Jon could have become all these things too. But a woman? Never. Her only power and future is that she marries and/ or that her children inherit. So, bastards getting equal treatment would cut into the few rights women get in these society. Jon was much more fortunate than his trueborn sisters, he was just too much of a whiner to understand that.

As to Robert hitting his wife because she "deserved it", come on! If you seriously think this - then what he got from her was carmic justice, too.

Re: Lannister squires, it is entirely expected in that society for wive's relatives to occupy these positions. It was nothing outrageous. And yes, a better man than Robert would have done his duty by his squires, whose mentor he is supposed to be, and maybe won their loyalty in return. But Rober preferred to bully, mock and neglect these kids.
Stefan Mitev
64. Bergmaniac
I'd love to have to continue the discussion on Littlefinger and his job as Master of Coin, but we are already slipping into spoilers territory and it will only get worse if I can get into more details. But whether Littlefinger was the main reason for the realm's debts or not doesn't make much difference in my judgement of Robert as a ruler. Robert was either overspending just to have fun or allowed his own officials to rob the the treasury easily since he didn't even try to control them in any way since counting coppers was boring and he was too busy whoring and hunting. Or it was a combination of both. In all of those cases he was a terrible and completely irresponsible king.
Joe Vondracek
65. joev
@61. Irene: I also sent you an email about post #47. It's not clear to me what kab1@49 was referring to, but there's something in that post that shouldn't be here on this page.
66. jojozig
Something else to add about Why Robert Is Scum.

So you mentioned how maaaybe Cersei killed two of Robert's bastards to protect her childrens' claim?

Well we already know for certain that Robert was pleased as punch to receive the corpses of two Targaryen babes on the day he arrived in King's Landing, and if Tywin Lannister hadn't already done the deed, Robert would gladly have done it himself. "Where you see babes, I see Dragonspawn."

So we have a union between two child-killers! Lovely! They deserve each other. SO MUCH. Too bad The Kingdom is stuck with them as well.
Matthew Watkins
67. oraymw
Robert is Scum. That doesn't prevent Cersei from also being scum. Who is the worst scum? I'm going to go with Cersei, mainly because of the horrible mess with Arya/Sansa/Joffrey on the Trident, and the incident with Cersei and Jaime at Winterfell. Not that Robert wasn't a Scumbag there as well, but I think he was slightly less scummish. Also, the way Cersei uses Psychological abuse on everyone around her, including people that I actually care about, makes her worse in my opinion.

That doesn't excuse Robert's use of abuse. Even if Cersei deserved it, that doesn't make Robert right for doing it.
Jennifer McBride
68. vegetathalas
First read I did, I didn't recognize any of the mover and shaker characters as gay, either. It wasn't until book three/four that I had an 'oh I'm an idiot' moment and then it was obvious thereafter. I think G.R.R.M. has a much subtler way of dealing with sexual stuff than R.J. If there's one thing about the Wheel of Time books I dislike, it's the romances. I thought the Siuan/Moraine relationship in New Spring was eye-rollingly bad. Girls tickling each other in bed versus girls having serious, deep relationships, humps and bumps included.

I like the contrast of Tyrion hitting Joff versus Robert hitting Cersei. I always thought the Tyrion scene was awesome and the Robert scene was despicable weakness on his part, but I can understand that's hypocritical thinking in some ways. I'll still stick my fingers in my ears and try to forget the real world implications of uncle-on-nephew violence.
69. graftonio
I don't think it's a real spoiler but Cersei desreves a lot more than one smack in the mouth. If there was ever a woman who needed a good smack it was Cersei.

Actually as far as ASOIAF goes a woman getting smacked in the mouth for being a b%$@@ is about as tame as it gets.
Sydo Zandstra
70. Fiddler

Also, several characters have been identified as "summer children"
because of their generally gentle and optimistic outlook...have we met
any "winter children" and if so, who are they/what are their

I will reply to this, with an unspoilerish answer (because it's not about plot or characters, and if somebody finds this to be a spoiler, go see a doctor ;-) ), even if you refer to something Catelyn remarks early in CoK.

What she means with Knights of Summer is that these Knights are so young that they haven't seen a Winter yet. Plus they are from the South where winters are always felt less. I wonder if GRRM had Don Henley's song 'the Boys of Summer' in mind when he wrote this...

Catelyn is actually calling them brash and foolish there. Which may be expected from young knights. Note that in the North such types aren't existing. They also aren't very keen on titles there. Jory would have been a knight if he had grown up in the South. And Jory was not brash, nor foolish.
71. Wortmauer
vegetathalas@68: I like the contrast of Tyrion hitting Joff versus Robert hitting Cersei. I always thought the Tyrion scene was awesome and the Robert scene was despicable weakness on his part, but I can understand that's hypocritical thinking in some ways.
Yeah, I don't remember there being any outcry when Tyrion slapped Joffrey, so I've been waiting for someone to explain why Robert's slap was so unacceptable. To be sure, it showed weakness of character that he let her get under his skin. But that doesn't seem to be the main objection here. People are acting as though slapping your relatives is just something you Do Not Do. And yet, from Leigh's commentary back in part 5:
I’m not sure what his game is yet (though there’s no doubt he has one), but anything that involves smacking around a Lannister is JUST FINE with me right now. I LOL’d, seriously.
"Likewise also said they all," as the Good Book puts it. So, I'd guess that the difference is that Cersei is a woman, except that I hardly think Leigh of all people would have that kind of double standard. Maybe it's that, in Tyrion's case, his target was being all uppity and just would not listen? (:
72. ftbleighjkjk
Wortmauer @71 wins the thread!
73. jojozig

I think one issue is that while Robert is definitely physically stronger than Cersei, Joffery is probably not much weaker than Tyrion. He's certainly a lot taller.

The problem is the imbalance of power. Hitting someone who cannot hit back.

Still I don't think it was a great thing for Tyrion to do either... he probably knows that Joff is too cowardly to fight back, so hitting him is somewhat dickish.
Edward Morland
74. random_gerbil
Wortmauer@71 Jeoffrey is legally a child at this point and I know many people who would make an argument for corporal punishment being fine for children but it being unnaceptable to slap an adult, especially one weaker than you, as in one case you have responsability for their behaviour whereas you don't in an adults case which makes correction have different moral weight.

Now not being in favour or corporal punishment it's my view that as amusing as it might be at first read slapping Jeoffrey wasn't the right thing to do but the reasons for people thinking otherwise don't neccessarily have sexist undertones.
Mo -
75. Astus
I was excited when Cat was going to visit Lysa. I mean, I expected we'd see a lady who was similar to Cat and having control of an entire section of the Kingdom. Someone badass and firm.
Someone with whom Cat could begin plotting something special.

Then we actually meet Lysa. :|
Alain Fournier
76. afournier
Interesting thread. I am glad Leigh mentioned her belief that Lysa murdered or had her husband murdered. When I read that chapter I started to believe that this was in all likely hood the case. Lysa is obviously unstable, paranoid and probably suffer from some mental illness. There is also a haughtiness and a certainty in her belies that the facts fail to confirm. I was wondering how close were Lysa and Jon Arryn. Would he have discussed matters of the state with her and if so in what detailed? Would she have seen sending Robert off for fostering as some sort of plot? For someone who is obviously mentally ill the atmosphere at King’s Landing would be most unhealthy. The attempt to send her child away probably made her snap. If she indeed was responsible for Jon Arryn’s murder then she is responsible for this whole mess. Robert Baratheon would never of asked for Ned to be Hand of the King and Lysa paranoid ramblings would not of forced Ned’s hand into accepting said offer. Anyway looking forward to reading the other books in the series and see if we find out.

As for Robert hitting Ceresi I don’t have an issue with it. Westboro’s would be a better place without her. I think it’ a mistake to ascribe her current character solely to her experience of being married to Robert. I don’t think you become this cruel, cold and calculating full blown in adulthood. There are indication that she wasn’t a saint before the wedding far from it. I think the book notes how poorly she always treated Tryion. That’s probably an indication of how she treated anyone other than a select group of people. Her lifelong lover has always been the same man her brother Jamie Lanister. I kind of suspect she would have ended hating anyone she would have been married too because they weren’t Jamie. In Roberts case well it was quick and easy to hate him as there was an abundance of faults to choose from.
Sky Thibedeau
77. SkylarkThibedeau
I have always thought Robert has a lot in common with President Grant. Great General and fighter, but his vices made him a lousy civil leader. Off getting drunk with the boys while political cronies loot the Kingdom.
Rob Munnelly
78. RobMRobM
I don't believe we've posted the Blog of Ice and Fire. So, here it is. Not the best, but with a few good ones. Rob


Eddard is comatose due to his broken leg, and dreams about his past rescue of Lyanna. I'm sure it's a nice dream and these characters are all very compelling, but I just want to know what happens in King's Landing after Jaime jumped Eddard outside the brothel. After the fight, Jaime fled the city, and everyone now knows that Catelyn captured Tyrion. Cersei is insulted that the Starks would dare arrest a Lannister, even though she and Jaime are responsible for pushing Bran out a window and subsequently sending an assassin to kill him. How dare Eddard "attack" Jaime while returning "drunk from a brothel." Getting wasted and violently attacking a rival house does not sound like an ordinary Eddard Stark Wednesday night. Much like the Arya-Joffrey incident, it is very clear who is telling the truth.

Cersei continues ranting about Robert's his bromance with Eddard, suggesting that Bob should be the one wearing skirts. She might actually be right, as a skirt would be more comfortable for fat guy who outgrew his armor. Instead of taking her fashion advice, Bob snaps and backhands her across the face. Applying Cersei's own logic, how dare she attack his hand with her face? Eddard reiterates his desire to quit, but Robert commands him to stay as Hand. Why does Bob insist Eddard be Hand if he never listens to his advice? Still, the position has its perks -- you get front row tickets to Robert "honoring" Cersei.


Catelyn is upset that Lysa consented to Tyrion's trial by combat. Arresting Tyrion was a huge gamble, resulting in the death of several of Winterfell men, Eddard’s injury, and near war with the Lannisters. Now, it might all be for nothing because of Lysa’s stubbornness and stupidity. Also, isn’t Tyrion on trial for two separate crimes? Shouldn’t he have to go through two trials to fully vindicate himself from Jon Arryn’s death and the attempt on Bran? Does this TBC completely clear him of all charges? If that’s the case, Tyrion might as well commit a few more murders before the TBC starts.

Lysa and her knights seem quite sure Ser Vardis will win, since LeBronn went straight from high school to sellsword, skipping Knight College. However, men that fight for money are usually (a) very good at fighting and (b) very self-interested. While Bronn is obviously doing this to score points with Tyrion, he’s not going to throw away his life recklessly. Obviously Bronn thinks he will beat Vardis, or he wouldn’t have volunteered.

After wearing out the older and dumber Vardis, Bronn wins the TBC. Tyrion is innocent! Little Robert Arryn, who grows more annoying every chapter, freaks out and wants to execute Tyrion anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, the rulers of the Vale: a weak, breast milk sucking kid with no sense of justice, and a fat, paranoid, stupid widow who falsely accuses people of murder. Because the gods judged Tyrion innocent, Lysa is forced to allow him and Bronn to leave the Eyrie. However, she has them take the mountain clan infested high road. Tyrion doesn’t seem to mind, probably because anything is better than being chucked off a cliff.
Juliet Kestrel
79. Juliet_Kestrel
@51 Tonka on modern society thinking it’s despicable for someone to bully another person with their physical strength, but thinks it’s cool when someone manipulates another person with their smarts.

I was thinking on this topic this afternoon and I’ve decided it might have at least a little to do with our modern view of how highly we value smarts. Society sort of looks down their noses at bullies and people who throw around their physical strength, or say in the case of the work place the boss. No one appreciates a boss who struts around insisting everyone do what he says because if you don’t he can fire anyone he wants, or at the very least make work time hell for everyone. While most people respect a boss that tells their employees his plans and how he plans to execute them, and how the employee will do her bit. Either way the employee does what her boss wants. One way is simply more pleasant than the other. In short, if the person in charge is competent and not evil, it goes more smoothly to talk to people into doing their part instead of bullying the people into it. All of that goes out the window of course when the person in charge is not competent, or evil, or worst of all both.

@76 afournier
For all we know Jon A’s death was what unhinged Lysa. I think paranoia and fleeing King’s Landing was a pretty reasonable response, if she legitimately thinks someone else poisoned her husband that is. Jon A has no other heirs. If someone did off their son, the Eryie, the warden of the East title, and all that would need to go to someone else. That might motivate a lot of people to try and kill him, and with how sickly he is it wouldn’t even be hard to make it look natural. Like I posted earlier, I think Lysa is crazy, but not husband killer crazy. Without additional knowledge of her behavior at King’s Landing BEFORE her husband was killed, I am going with husband’s death caused Lysa’s mental illness, not the other way around .
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
80. tnh
Skylark @77, you might find it interesting to read some more scholarly sources on Ulysses S. Grant. Short of that, you should at least get your chronology straight -- "Grant was a drunk" was slander spread about him during the Civil War, while "His cronies looted the country" dates from his presidency. If both are used, they should be sequential, not simultaneous.

If you do read up on Grant, keep an eye out for who hated him, and why -- it's all tied up with Reconstruction. Mind, I'm not telling you who you should sympathize with, because that's entirely your own call. I'm just saying you might find it interesting.

And as long as I'm grumping about history, Gladleigh @47: women, church, Middle Ages. It's always tempting to blame misogyny on religion, because that way we can deny that it's an old bad habit of our entire species, but the medieval church did not supervise marriages. Those fantasias you cite about brood mares and bloody sheets have their origin in works of prurient imagination that postdate the invention of printing. As for the "virgin when married" thing, any well-kept parish register will tell you otherwise.

For unrelated reasons, purely a coincidence, I've mentioned before in these threads that marriage during the Middle Ages was a secular custom. Any clergy present were just there to bless the occasion. Their presence wasn't required, and it wasn't unusual for them to not be there at all. Essentially, marriage was a private contract, entered into by the intent and consent of the parties involved. This might or might not involve them saying so in the presence of witnesses.

The earliest European law saying that a marriage, in order to be valid, had to be registered by the state and consecrated by the church, was made in Geneva under the Calvinists, around 1536. That's not the Middle Ages, and the milieu could scarcely be less Catholic.

As for the alleged misogyny of the medieval church, how many non-misogynistic medieval institutions can you name?

Odd datum: one of the differences between the lands of classical antiquity, and those same regions after the advent of Christianity, was that the percentage of females who survived infancy rose, and for a long time thereafter kept on rising.

During the Middle Ages, women were of course oppressed in all areas of society, but religion wasn't the source of their oppression. Their society cast its religion in misogynistic terms because that's what their society was like. In fact, aside from a small number of women who belonged to the ruling class, just about all the female scholars, reformers, administrators, teachers, writers, artists, composers, philosophers, and mystics we know of were in religious orders. It wasn't a paradise they'd found, but it gave them a little more freedom than they'd had in the secular world, and they made every use of it.

Civilization takes such a long time to learn.
81. Flagro
I think you're overreacting a bit to the whole 'Cersei-getting-slapped' thing. Or maybe I just like seeing her get hurt. Actually, yeah, I definitely like seeing her get hurt.
82. Wortmauer
random_gerbil@74: Jeoffrey is legally a child at this point and I know many people who would make an argument for corporal punishment being fine for children but it being unnaceptable to slap an adult
I don't see what Joffrey being a child has to do with it. He's certainly not Tyrion's child. In a few years my nieces and nephews will start to reach Joffrey's age. If one of them talks back or otherwise demonstrates a need for attitude adjustment, I bet neither they nor their parents nor any of our other relatives will think it's OK for me to slap some sense into them. I enjoy close relationships with my sisters and their husbands but I still don't think it'd go over very well.

So, I guess I'm still not seeing why hitting your spouse is so awful if hitting your nephew or niece is something to LOL about. Is it because Tyrion is so physically small, he's effectively picking on someone his own size? Would it have been less awesome if it had been, say, Jaime or Sandor Clegane who slapped Joffrey at the breakfast table? Shush, you.
83. mike shupp
Wortmauer @ 82

Can't say that I've actually slapped a kid about, or even witnessed it, but I certainly took a whack in the butt now and then as an educational aid, and have lived to an age where I recognize and accept the message, so I can understand other folks' use of corporal punishment.

So what happened here? Tyrion remarks to Joffrey that he should go to his hosts and express his sorrow that their son has apparently fallen to his death. TO HIS F*****G DEATH! Joffrey refuses and Tyrion slaps him.

Y'know, it isn't as if Joff is just another little mall rat. He's a m***** f*****g PRINCE, an aristocrat who's expected to show some decent manners, and saying "I'm sorry your son got hurt" isn't really some strange bizarre unimaginable piece of conduct, is it? And by now, we're some 40 chapters into the book, and most of us have acquired some knowledge of Joffrey's accomplishments and character, and most of us have some idea about how the kid has been reared. We really don't expect wonderful little Joff to do the perfect, admirable thing, do we? We sort of expect him to be a f******g shit, who will do shitty things because HURTING OTHER PEOPLE IS **F U N**.

So Tyrion slaps him to persuade him to behave decently for once.

And it annoys you.

Okay, dude. I know enough about you now.
84. Wortmauer
Wow, mike shupp@83, now tell us how you really feel.
Okay, dude. I know enough about you now.
Do you indeed? I think you know very little about me, but maybe "enough" just means you have no interest in me at all, so knowing nothing about me is already enough. That's fair, we're both pseudonymous red tags, and frankly I'm not particularly curious about you either. Nothing personal (in fact, that's the whole point).

But all your wordsmithing about how much Joffrey deserved to get slapped upside the head neatly sidesteps my question about whether it is ever appropriate for some guy who isn't Joff's dad to take it upon himself to do it. In the modern world (i.e., the world where wife-beating is frowned upon), most people would say it is not. So for instance, if I were to show up here and say "Yo, the other day, my 12-year-old nephew was being a total tool, seriously cruisin' for a bruisin'. I tried to warn him, but he wouldn't listen to sense. So I slapped him around a bit. He knows who's the boss now, LOL!" I don't think I'd have any sympathy here. I bet the feedback would be quite negative, in fact. Few people would cut me any slack just because my nephew really was being a tool.

So, do you want to take the modern sensibility, where you don't go hitting other people's kids? Or do you want to take the medieval sensibility, where if your wife insults you in front of other people, she deserves what she gets? I don't think you can have it both ways.
85. J M Cornwell
I thought the way Martin did the descriptions and discussions about and around Renly and ser Loras were well done and it was obvious both men were not only gay, but involved. There was some serious love there, especially at the tournament, even considering the time period is the middle ages when such things were known but not trumpted about. As obvious as Varys seems to be, I doubt he's gay, probably asexual or hetero without having anything to raise in his defense -- or offense.
{highlight for spoilers -mod.}
86. Deep Sigh
@mod - please clean up spoilers in J M Cornwell@85.

Leigh specifically asked posters NOT to reveal this information, but I guess some folks can't help themselves.
87. Deep Sigh
A suggestion to pass along to your web gods:

Next to the "Preview Comment" button on this page, add a message: "Reminder: Do not post spoilers or hints, and if you've figured out something that Leigh hasn't yet, please post it in the other forum (link), or kindly keep it to yourself."
88. MickeyDee
(Death has blue eyes? Who knew?)

Sheesh Leigh, don't you read quality fiction? ;) It was obvious, and there's Binky in the background.

Ahhh but Zeynep @ 17 beat me to it. That's what happens when you don't get back here too often.
Leigh Butler
89. leighdb
Hey all,

Due to unexpected circumstances, there will be no new Read of Ice and Fire post today (Friday). Sorry. We'll be back on schedule next week, promise.
Juliet Kestrel
90. Juliet_Kestrel
Those unexpected circumstances wouldn’t happen to be World Con would they Leigh?

I happen to be there, for my very first con ever, and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. Brandon Sanderson and GRRM have given readings from some unpublished stuff (not a memory of light).

In any case I hope the circumstances are of the pleasant variety Leigh.

Anyone else at World Con?
Chris Chaplain
91. chaplainchris1
Re: @89 - AUGH!!!! Ok, Leigh, hope everything is ok.

Also, I'm really enjoying the Read, even if I don't comment much.

Also again, Martin owes you, Leigh. The enforced patience has allowed me to hold off on buying the most recent book - I'll wait until it comes out in pb. I might not have decided to pick it up at all, but I'm enjoying your reactions enough that I will. I finally started my own reread last week. (And I've now passed this spot in the read, even pacing myself carefully...I can't wait til you get to the *spoiler*.)

But I have to say that I'm really disgusted by the number of comments I've seen that Cersei "deserved" to be hit by her husband, a guy who has more bulk, more strength, and the legal authority to do whatever he wants. He abuses his power and shows no self-control or restraint (as in so much else), simply b/c of her words. Cersei's words are nasty, and she's Not a Good Guy/Gal, but that doesn't excuse domestic violence.
Kat Blom
92. pro_star
Leigh, hope all is well in your world!
93. Greyhawk
Wortmauer et. al. For me the difference between the two situations (Joffrey and Cersei) is more about the intentions of the hitter in the cultural context. In the middle ages and even now, it was acceptable to discipline children that were not your own. Tyrion's action were those of an uncle conveying, in a culturally acceptable way, that Joffrey was behaving in an entirely unacceptable way (and scaled to the severity of the bad behavior). Robert's hitting of Cersei was a reaction to a verbal dig--and only because he had no witty comeback himself--something he acknowledges and recognizes as wrong even given his cultural context. I do not see such an irreconcilable conflict in peoples reaction to these two scenes.
Debbie Solomon
94. dsolo
I haven't started "A Dance with Dragons" yet, (still traumatized by AFoC), so I hope this doesn't turn out to be a spoiler. It wasn't until I was reading Leigh's read and the comments, that I realized how often Lyanna is mentioned and about her abuse at the hands of the Targaryens (sp?). After reading Ned's thoughts about his promise to her, it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps Jon Snow is not Ned's bastard, but Lyanna's. I'm not sure where she was at the time of her death, so it may not be plausible, but it would be interesting, no? Considering Robert's hatred of all things Targaryen, Ned would naturally have to hide his parentage.
95. MickeyDee
I shake my head in amusement at a lot of these comments. Do many of you, when reading fiction (be it historical or fantasy or SF) which is set in surroundings and social mores completely alien to early 21st "Western" culture simply translate everything into your actual world view? If so I am amazed. I tend to disconnect and go along for the ride. I read for the escapism, not for the social commentary. I am a voyeur not a participant (though I have been known to laugh aloud and even yell "yes!" on occasion). So when my favourite snarky dwarf smacks his mouthy nephew a time or two I may smirk in satisfaction but I absorb and move on. If a rotund King, who is the embodiment of the Seven Kingdoms is being disparaged by his Queen (in front of his BFF) and cops a backhand - again smirk and move on.
I will say I tend to spend more effort internally critiquing the consistency of events and actions in the framework of the world the characters inhabit than railing against the fact that Westeros has not discovered 21st century ideals. That and continually smacking a palm against my forehead at yet another twist that I did not see coming and yet all the clues were sneakily sitting out in plain sight.

Oh and Wortmauer@71 FTW!
Sky Thibedeau
96. SkylarkThibedeau
No new post on friday. Hope she is OK and not distraught over events in the book
Petra Jordan
97. TastyCrunchyDragonTreat
95. MickeyDee; '...when reading fiction (be it historical or fantasy or SF) which is set in surroundings and social mores completely alien to early 21st "Western" culture simply translate everything into your actual world view? and actions in the framework of the world the characters inhabit than railing against the fact that Westeros has not discovered 21st century ideals'

Just so. Judging medieval, or any past or future time's societal norms against a 21st century ruler is absurd and devalues the point of Reading a story/entering a Different World.

-and no new Leigh this week...weekly dose of recommended sunshine much dimmer now
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
98. tnh
MickeyDee @95, people have their preferred styles in reading just like they do in anything else, and they're just as variable.

Good on you for asking, though. Not everyone notices it.

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