Fri
Aug 26 2011 1:47pm
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 21

A Read of Ice and Fire on Tor.comWelcome 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 21 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 41 (“Jon”), 42 (“Tyrion”), and 43 (“Eddard”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, The Powers That Be at Tor.com have very kindly set up a forum thread for spoilery comments. Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

 

Chapter 41: Jon

What Happens
With great reluctance, Ser Thorne passes eight boys, including Jon, from his class to be full Brothers. The other boys offer congratulations, but Jon notices Sam Tarly standing off by himself, and goes over to offer him wine. Sam refuses sadly, but offers Jon congrats, remarking that he is sure to be First Ranger someday. At the feast that night, the boys discuss which sector of the Watch they might be assigned to, and Pyp asks why Jon is not more enthusiastic. Jon tells him that he is worried for Sam once they are gone; Pyp tells Jon he did all he could, but Jon is not appeased.

Jon contemplates the vow he is about to take, and the world it will cut him off from ever seeing. He thinks of riding back to Winterfell, but believes he will find no welcome there, particularly from Lady Stark. He goes to Maester Aemon’s rooms, and bulls his way past Aemon’s two stewards, insisting that he be allowed to speak to the Maester.

He asks Aemon to have Sam removed from training and installed as a Brother, and tells him the whole story of Sam’s persecution at Thorne’s hands and Jon’s efforts to protect him. He concedes that Sam is no good with a sword, but argues that that is not the only purpose a man can serve with the Night Watch. He suggests that Sam could serve Maester Aemon directly as a clerk, instead of being wasted at swordcraft he will never master. Aemon observes that Jon’s mind is as deft as his blade, but only promises that he will consider the notion before dismissing him.

Commentary
Wow, Thorne actually passed Jon. I was totally expecting him not to, just to be an asshole. I guess that means Jon isn’t going to have to kill him yet. Rats.

In other news, Jon continues to be awesome, going out of his way to help his friend. It’s worth remembering (if a trifle depressing to contemplate) that while going to the mat like that for a friend is something that is more or less expected of heroic protagonists, and therefore something you see in stories all the time, actually coming across that level of altruism in real life is not nearly as assured a proposition. So it’s nice, I think, every once in a while to not take the Good Guy doing Good Things for granted, and give the character his proper appreciative due.

That ASOIAF has (thus far) a decided dearth of altruistic leanings, even among our soi-disant heroic characters, makes that appreciation a bit easier to remember than it might otherwise be, of course.

In other other news, I apparently really like oddly-constructed run-on sentences. Sheesh.

But, nevertheless: go, Jon! Whoo!

*pom pom*

Even his own mother had not had a place for him. The thought of her made him sad. He wondered who she had been, what she had looked like, why his father had left her. Because she was a whore or an adulteress, fool. Something dark and dishonorable, or else why was Lord Eddard too ashamed to speak of her?

I will bet MANY IMAGINARY DOLLARS that it’s actually completely the other way around, Jon-boy. Not to be all meta, but there’s no way this is being built up this much if the truth is that Jon’s mother is just some random prostitute.

…Of course, now that I’ve said that, watch it turn out that she really is no one in particular. I don’t think so, though. I guess we’ll see!

 

Chapter 42: Tyrion

What Happens
On the road from the Vale, Tyrion proposes to start a fire. Bronn thinks this is suicide, arguing that they should ride as hard as they can to avoid the clans, but Tyrion counters that this is impossible. Bronn asks how he knew that Bronn would stand for him in the challenge, and Tyrion tells him he didn’t know, but Bronn has learned that the Starks expect honor and loyalty without buying it, while the Lannisters reward with gold, and he hoped that Bronn would realize which he preferred. He tells Bronn to remember that if he’s tempted to sell Tyrion out, that Tyrion will match anyone else’s price.

They make a fire, and Bronn observes that Tyrion has a plan for the inevitable descent of the clans upon them; Bronn still can’t believe that Tyrion had actually paid the turnkey Mord the gold he had promised, and that Tyrion honestly was not involved in the attempt on Bran’s life. Tyrion smiles and asks if he looks like a liar.

Tyrion tells him the story of the first girl he bedded, how he thought he was rescuing her from brigands, and fell in love with her and secretly married her, and how when his father found out, he made Jaime tell Tyrion that the whole thing had been a set-up so that Tyrion would lose his virginity. Then his father gave the girl to his guards and made Tyrion watch. Bronn comments that he would have killed anyone who did that to him.

Tyrion swung around to face him. “You may get that chance one day. Remember what I told you. A Lannister always pays his debts.”

They are woken that night by clansmen, led by a man named Gunthor, who is ready to kill Tyrion and Bronn both for the goods they carry. Tyrion tells him that he will reward Gunthor’s clan richly if they escort them safely through the mountains instead, and Gunthor asks what he will give them.

“What would you give us for your lives, Tyrion son of Tywin? Swords? Lances? Mail?”

“All that, and more, Gunthor son of Gurn,” Tyrion Lannister replied, smiling. “I will give you the Vale of Arryn.”

Commentary
Hah! Tyrion, you sneaky bastard.

Not literally a bastard, of course. Which is unfortunate, because after the story he told in this chapter I think it would be better to be an orphan than be related to Tyrion’s kin. Jesus H. Christ.

Tyrion, evidently, rather agrees with me, since unless I’m very much mistaken he just intimated to Bronn that Tyrion might want to have him kill his own father. And once again the series throws me into an extraordinarily bizarre ethical position, by making me kinda sorta be in favor of patricide. Ow, my principles.

I think I said a while back that I thought Tyrion is a character that could just as easily go down a dark road as a light one, and nothing I’ve learned about him since then has changed that impression — except maybe now I’m kind of astonished that he hasn’t gone all Sith Lord on everyone long since. Because God knows, his story makes Anakin Skywalker’s formative years look about as angst-ridden as an episode of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. I mean, seriously.

That said, I’m deeply impressed at Tyrion’s ability to be… um. I don’t know how to put it, exactly, but the closest I can come is: his ability to be comfortable with his own helplessness. That’s not the right way to put it, first of all because Tyrion isn’t helpless, clearly, and actually even physically he isn’t completely so, as he proved on the journey to the Vale.

Maybe a better way to put it is that having so often been put in a position where he has been made to acknowledge his physical inferiority to others, he seems to have made a command decision at some point to just go with it and not only not let it bother him (much), but use it to his own advantage in pursuit of surviving/winning/getting what he wants. That takes a combination of strategic brilliance coupled with sheer bloody-minded tenacity that I find, well, very impressive.

Either way he ends up swinging, I think it’s safe to say that I would not want to be Tyrion’s enemy. Which means Lysa’d better watch out, not to mention Catelyn. And Tywin. And, er, everyone, except possibly Jon Snow. And Jaime, unless Tyrion manages to cut off that particular Achilles heel. Whee!

 

Chapter 43: Eddard

What Happens
Ned sits painfully on the king’s throne and hears the petitions of the villagers brought to him by Ser Raymun Darry, Ser Karyl Vance, and Ser Marq Piper, all bannermen to the Tullys. The villagers had been set upon and slaughtered wholesale by brigands, which the knights declared were really Lannisters, led by Ser Gregor Clegane. The knights have come to obtain the king’s blessing to retaliate against the Lannisters. Ned knows that they are right about it being the Lannisters despite the inconclusive evidence, but also knows that if the Tullys retaliate, the Lannisters will deny it, and claim that the Tullys broke the peace first. He also thinks that Tywin may be counting on Ser Edmure Tully’s gallantry to try to hold all his land and spread himself too thin.

Pycelle urges Ned to wait for Robert to decide on the matter, but Ned replies that the king is hunting and may be gone for days, though he sends Ser Robar Royce to bring Robert word of what transpires that day. Ned stands painfully and declares that normally he would go to bring justice himself in accordance with Northern tradition, but his leg makes that impossible now. Ser Loras Tyrell begs permission to go in his stead, but instead Ned sends Lord Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, Ser Gladden and Lord Lothar to strip Gregor Clegane of his titles and lands and then to execute him for his crimes.

Loras stalks out as the audience ends. Varys comments to Ned that it might have been better to let Loras go, as “a man who has the Lannisters for his enemies would do well to make the Tyrells his friends.” He also confides that Ser Ilyn Payne, the king’s executioner, is likely to feel slighted too. Ned points out that Payne is bannerman to the Lannisters, though the real reason is that he does not trust the man.

“Very prudent, no doubt,” Varys said. “Still, I chanced to see Ser Ilyn in the back of the hall, staring at us with those pale eyes of his, and I must say, he did not look pleased, though to be sure it is hard to tell with our silent knight. I hope he outgrows his disappointment as well. He does so love his work…”

Commentary
So, I know that the plot of ASOIAF is based (loosely) on the Wars of the Roses, which makes perfect sense, but in my perhaps plebian American way I was minded of nothing so much here as the beginnings of the Hatfields and McCoys.

Of course, that’s really pretty much the same thing, only on a smaller scale. And with less people named Henry.

(Seriously, European monarchies. Stop naming people Henry!)

Now I’m wondering if reading the Wikipedia entry on the Wars of the Roses will count as a spoiler or not. Heh. I’m also wondering if I’ve brought this up before. My brain, she is fuzzy sometimes.

So I’m going to go waaay out on a limb here and guess that executing Clegane ain’t exactly going to go all that smooth. And even if it did, I have to say I’m not seeing how Ned thinks passing this judgment and ordering Clegane’s execution himself is going to piss the Lannisters off less than if the Tullys do it. I mean, his wife is a Tully! Who’s just taken a Lannister hostage! Which Ned told Jaime was at his command!

Yes, I know that logically, Ned’s decision as the King’s Hand should be regarded as independent of his family’s alliances, but come on. Let’s employ some basic knowledge of the human psyche here, Ned. Even if the Lannisters were otherwise as pure as the driven snow they wouldn’t buy that.

Of course, it’s probably the case that Ned knows this perfectly well, and is doing it anyway, for stupid noble reasons. Argh.

Ned could feel cold steel against his fingers as he leaned forward. Between each finger was a blade, the points of twisted swords fanning out like talons from arms of the throne. Even after three centuries, some were still sharp enough to cut. The Iron Throne was full of traps for the unwary. The songs said it had taken a thousand blades to make it, heated white-hot in the furnace breath of Balerion the Black Dread. The hammering had taken fifty-nine days. The end of it was this hunched black beast made of razor edges and barbs and ribbons of sharp metal; a chair that could kill a man, and had, if the stories could be believed.

Yeesh.

Well, it’s not an epic fantasy unless there’s some seriously fucked-up furniture in it, I always say.

Okay, I’ve never actually said that before, but it’s still true!

And while there is perhaps a certain poetic elegance to the notion that a king should never sit easy, call me crazy but I’d think one could concentrate on being a better ruler if one was not also constantly worried about getting stabbed in the ass. Literally. Sheesh.

Also, I bet the long-term hemorrhoid risk off a chair made of swords has got to be astronomical.


And with that delightful image, we out! Have a weekend, and I’ll see you next time!

38 comments
David Thomson
1. ZetaStriker
Leigh:

But, nevertheless: go, Jon! Whoo! *pom pom*



I ashamedly have to admit that, at a glance, I misread that as "*porn porn*", and completely lost track of where you were going with all that Jon praise. XD
Stefan Mitev
2. Bergmaniac
Personally I can't really warm up to Jon mostly for meta reasons - he fits the fantasy cliche of the "good character" too well. I much prefer the more original and complex characters like Tyrion or Catelyn.

Tyrion's story about his short-lived is just so brutal and heart-breaking.

I was quite annoyed with Ned here for this:
"He caught a glimpse of Septa Mordane in the gallery, with his daughter Sansa beside her. Ned felt a flash of anger; this was no place for a girl."

Come on, she's supposed to become the Queen, she should learn about politics, including the uglier sides of it. And Ned who took his 7 year old son to see a beheading yet the much older Sansa can't even hear the reports about murders? I know this is really sexist society, but until now Ned had looked to be much more reasonable than most others in this respect - he gave Arya a sword teacher, valued Catelyn's advice on politics highly and left her in charge of the North. So this was quite disappointing coming from him.
Kat Blom
3. pro_star
Leigh,

You made my day with:

And while there is perhaps a certain poetic elegance to the notion that a king should never sit easy, call me crazy but I’d think one could concentrate on being a better ruler if one was not also constantly worried about getting stabbed in the ass. Literally. Sheesh.
Also, I bet the long-term hemorrhoid risk off a chair made of swords has got to be astronomical.


Seriously. Thanks for the read! You're awesome!
dan
4. Chrysippus4321
The biggest mistake that Ned made was not sending Loras after Gregor. If Loras killed Gregor then Eddard would have won. If Gregor killed Loras, then Highgarden would have been seriously pissed off at the Lannisters.
Fan from PA
5. Fan from PA
Always a pleasure Leigh!! No spoilers but Keep reading. I can't wait to follow you all the way through. Question - do you intend to read the following books? I very much hope so and hope they are posted in a simliar manner.
Vincent Lane
6. Aegnor
I think the reason Ned called for Gregor's execution as Hand of the King, was for political reasons. While it is true that the Lanisters would still be pissed at the Tullys and the Starks, if Ned does it as Hand of the King, the Lanisters can't do much about it without being in open rebellion. Where if the Tullys attack, then the Lanisters can just claim that they broke the peace and were just defending themselves.

In other words, it was a smart political move.
Marcus W
7. toryx
Though I'm more oft to quiet of late, I'm still here and still reading (and enjoying) the read.

Anyway, Ned's decision to send off Sir Beric and the others to bring justice to Gregor Clegane is pretty much independent (in his mind) from the feud between Stark and Lannister. Regardless of whether or not Clegane is working on behalf of the Lannisters, his actions are contrary to the King's peace and therefore the King and his Hand have ever right to pursue the outlaw and stop him.

Technically speaking, it's the sort of pronouncement that leaves the Lannisters without a reason for complaint. It also gives them an out: Gregor is their man but he's also a beast and they can just claim he'd lost it and gone rampaging without cause.

All of which is to say that Ned's decision is actually quite well thought out and all things being equal should work.
Fan from PA
8. Zeynep
Chrysippus4321 @4: The kind of political calculation you describe sounds eminently sensible, and it was totally beyond Ned for several reasons, the most major ones being: He just doesn't think like that; and he probably knows that while Loras is a very good one-to-one tourney fighter, he doesn't have much battle or command experience by this point, so both Ned's honor (can't send the boy to his death...) and duty (...especially since the boy couldn't do the job that needs to be done) would prevent that.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
9. tnh
Chrysippus, Zeynep, the political relationship between the Lannisters and Highgarden doesn't really come into the story for a while yet.
Fan from PA
10. ftbleighjkjk
I personally love the slow boil of this book, the way Martin keeps twisting the tension to make it a little tighter, and a little bit more... Leigh, I don't know if you're actually reading these a couple chapters at a time or not, but if so, you must have some sort of blogger super-powers enhanced by the Earth's yellow sun. Srsly.
Tyrion and Bronn make such a delightful odd couple that they should Fight Crime.
And yes, Jon's defence of Sam here is most touching. He literally gets nothing out of it, and in fact it could make his life on the Wall that much harder. But he's whole-heartedly embraced the philosophy that these are his brothers. A very nice, natural progression from his arrival only a few chapters ago.
Lovin' it, Leigh. MOAR?
Tomas Gerst
11. IamnotSpam
asssssssstronomical I love it hhahahahahahahahah ohh catch my breath. HMm do we have a plate or bowl of swords so we can have gastonomical jokes assss well. "how was your food sir?" . " Well it was a bit rusty but very good just the same." How often would the king die of lock jaw after being on the throne a few years. Tetanus anyone.
Fan from PA
12. Lsana
The last line of Chapter 42 here was where I first started to have doubts about Tyrion as a good guy. He wants revenge on Lysa? Totally behind that. He gets it by sending the Mountain clans after the Vale? Um, no. It isn't primarily Lysa who will suffer, but all of the innocent peasants who live in the Vale (okay, given that this is ASOIF, they probably aren't very innocent, but still...). The idea of the Vale getting burned, crops destroyed, people raped and killed so that Tyrion could satisfy his ego, raised some doubts for me about the snarking dwarf that I had previously loved unconditionally.

@2,

I was going to bring up that same point. Anyone who wants to know why Sansa is the way she is should look no further than this chapter. At 7, Bran was watching executions. Ned is horrified by the thought that Sansa, at 11, even knows that such things happen. Is it any wonder that she thinks of life as a grand ballad where she has the starring role? Certainly no one has been teaching her anything to disuade her from that.
Matthew B
13. MatthewB
Part of the rerason that Tyrion is so compelling is that he sits in everyone else's blind spots. The Starks' prejudice against both Lannisters and the disabled make them both hate and underestimate him. His own family's similar prejudice against the disabled and assumption of familial loyalty work similarly. He is one of the most truly independant characters in the series. He is a rogue actor in all the best ways. Jon Snow is similarly independant from the Lannister/Stark feud, but is constantly tieing himself to other people/groups because of his innate sense of honor. Tyrion and Jon are definitely different sides of the same coin.

My knee-jerk American reaction to the comparison between the War of the Roses and the Hatfields and McCoys was to insist that the bodycount was lower because when an American decided they wanted someone dead, they went and did it themselves instead of riding on the backs of the underclass, but modern history would make a lie of that. It's only true in that case because the feuding Appalachians _were_ the underclass.
dan
14. Chrysippus4321
Sorry. Didn't mean my statement to refer to future events. Not sending Ilyn payne? pfft. Sending men after Gregor Clegane? Might as well do it under the kings banner. But he missed a major opportunity to gain an ally against Lannister. He was thinking militarily short-term not politically long-term. More politically aware Hands would have sent Loras to his death in the hopes that Highgarden would ally against the Lannisters in hope of vengence.
Marcus W
15. toryx
He was thinking militarily short-term not politically long-term.


Actually, I think he was thinking that Loras was a boy and had no business dealing with a monster. In which case he was absolutely right. I think what you're suggesting, @14 would have been an utter disaster.
Fan from PA
16. Wortmauer
toryx@15: Actually, I think he was thinking that Loras was a boy and had no business dealing with a monster. In which case he was absolutely right.
Absolutely. Though, recall that he did unhorse the Mountain recently in the tourney semifinals. That was a dramatic moment, Ser Gregor (the most physically imposing dude we've seen yet, even counting Khal Drogo) beheading his stallion because Ser Loras's mare was apparently in heat and had it by the nads, then coming after Ser Loras himself (I don't recall how imposing a figure he cuts, but the dude's like 17 and sews fresh flowers onto his cloak) in a rage.

Obviously the Mountain isn't going to be pleased or complacent about Ser Beric's mission to capture and execute him in the name of the king, but just imagine how amused he wouldn't be if that teenaged dandy were in command. Yeah, I'm thinking that would not end well. Might be funny, or might just be gruesome.
Fan from PA
17. JoeNotCharles
The other thing Ned did that was smart here was to drag in a bunch of lords who were not affiliated with either the Starks or the Lannisters to go after Gregor - now they're implicitly on his side, because they're likely to get caught up in the chase and end up seeing the Lannisters as enemies.

Also, Tyrion didn't offer the mountain clans the Vale out of revenge - at least, not totally. He said it so they wouldn't kill him.
Fan from PA
18. JoeNotCharles
Which isn't to say he couldn't have gone farther by getting Ser Loras involved as well...
Fan from PA
19. Capper
@4. Chrysippus4321

Not sending Ser Loras is clearly NOT the biggest mistake that Ned made. Leigh will soon be reading about much bigger mistakes from Ned.
Joe Vondracek
20. joev
Not to be all meta, but there’s no way this is being built up this much if the truth is that Jon’s mother is just some random prostitute.


At this point in my reading, I came to the same conclusion as you have. It struck me that GRRM was being entirely too coy about Jon's parentage. But maybe it's just a red herring. As a writer, how much do you try to mislead the reader for the sake of some future plot revelation? Seems like the potential for that to backfire is rather large.
Fan from PA
21. Lsana
@17,

The clansmen would have not killed Tyrion for a whole lot less than the Vale. He had to offer them something, no question, but the reason he's offering the Vale is because he wants Lysa to suffer.
Joe Vondracek
22. joev
RobMRobM, I was looking at the Blog of Ice and Fire, so I thought that I'd go ahead and post the relevant bits here.

Jon
Jon Snow and his merry men are finally out from under Ser Alliser’s boot. The guest speaker at their graduation is Ser Alliser himself, who inspires them with motivational truths like “when the winter comes you will die like flies.” They have become brothers of the Night’s Watch, and now officially can’t own lands or have sex. The only person who is still in training from their group is Sam, who will no longer benefits from Jon's friendship and protection.

Jon's worried that pedo Thorne will start the Sam-spankings again, so he asks Maester Aemon if Sam can graduate anyway, arguing that Sam’s skills at math and reading are far better suited for a steward than for a ranger. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with Aemon’s current steward Chett, who is as ugly as Sam is fat. The Night’s Watch should really have an admissions office that determines specialization for the new recruits. For example, the thieves should not be put in charge of the treasury, the rapists should not be near women, and fat softies like Sam should be given some sort of desk job. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t expect that level of efficiency from the guys who thought it’d be a good idea to build a 700-foot wall that’s only used once every thousand years.
____________________

Tyrion
Tyrion and Bronn attempt to sneak by all the mountain clansmen that harassed them on their way into the Vale. From their banter you can tell there’s no genuine love between these two, who travel beside one another for necessity and mutual benefit. Tyrion lets Bronn know that the Lannisters are a bottomless pit of gold, and will always match the price of anyone trying out-bid them. This also explains the reason why Tyrion paid Mord even though he hated him: to show Bronn that Lannisters are good for whatever debt is owed. Tyrion doesn’t want Bronn to have any doubts about getting paid when they reach wherever they are going.

However, despite the quid-pro-quo atmosphere, the two do bond a little. Tyrion tells Bronn about his first love, a story that puts Sam Tarly’s childhood to shame. His father Lord Tywin had a whore pretend to fall for Tyrion to teach him a lesson, and makes him watch as an entire barracks of soldiers screw her. Tywin then makes Tyrion do her one last time, which gains his son closure, newfound wisdom, and a dozen STDs. It was a good deal for his fake whore wife though, as she probably made out like a bandit. Martin can check off "gang bangs" and "virgin dwarf sex" in his list of deviant sexual practices that appear in this series. I am half scared and half curious as to what’s next on that list.

Tyrion decides not to hide from the mountain clans, lighting up a fire and openly roasting a goat. Sure enough, the mountain clansmen arrive and seem ready to kill them. But Tyrion makes an offer to their Scandinavian chief Gunthor: allow them safe passage, and Tyrion will give them the Vale of Arryn. I wonder how he plans to do that, given the imPREGnable defenses. Maybe Tyrion will buy it from Lysa?
____________________

Eddard
Eddard sits on the throne, listening to the village folk’s tales of brutal attacks by well-equipped brigands. They identify GREGOR as the leader, ordered by the Lannisters to terrorize the Riverlands villagers. A bunch of Lords and Sers that I do not recognize are pissed about this, and Eddard appeases them by sending an army of knights to deal with it. What can they really do though? Can’t GREGOR just demand trial by combat? Who would fight him? Loras tries to be a badass by volunteering for the job, but Eddard denies him, probably for his own good. Eddard really should have sent Loras, because you never know when a jousting tournament or a trial-by-jousting could break out.

This chapter is disappointing because nothing really happens. All the men of action like King Bob and Jaime are out of the city, leaving wet blanket Eddard to sit on the throne. Boring!
Rob Munnelly
23. RobMRobM
Thanks, joev. Will post when I get home from my client event. Rob
Fan from PA
24. natlog
I have thoroughly enjoyed the previous 2o episodes I lurked through -- so much fun to see this through fresh perspective.

But with episode 21, I was forced to de-lurk regarding our friend Tyrion.
God knows, his story makes Anakin Skywalker’s formative years look about as angst-ridden as an episode of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. I mean, seriously.

Yes, seriously -- one of your funniest lines yet -- but oh, so very true -- so much hinges on this simple realization.
Rob Munnelly
25. RobMRobM
Leigh, very nice write up, as always, especially the Tyion piece which was exceptionally thoughtful. Soi-disant indeed.

You missed the best bit in the Jon chapter - comparing the members of the Nights Watch to the different metals used in a Maester's chain. Beautiful piece of analysis, that. And Aemon is cool - that is all. And the MANY IMAGINARY DOLLARS BET - I won't take that against you.

Re Tyrion, very interesting stuff that I can't talk about at this point. Hummmmm. ".... Maybe a better way to put it is that having so often been put in a
position where he has been made to acknowledge his physical inferiority
to others, he seems to have made a command decision at some point to
just go with it and not only not let it bother him (much), but use it to
his own advantage in pursuit of surviving/winning/getting what he
wants....." This hearkens back to the Jon going north chapter early in the book where Tyrion does his riff about people who don't want to face hard truths, and how he's proud of Jon for doing so. He practices his own medicine.

Re Ned, interesting insight from the text appeared to be that Tywin's plan was to get Gregor to act so cruel to villagers that Cat's brother Edmure would retaliate immediately and break the King's peace - but some wiser head had him direct the villagers to KL to petition for legal authority for action. Lawyers FTW!! Edmure is not showing much so far, thereby joining the club of Lysa and Catelyn in the questionably wise Tully's club. (Brynden the Blackfish is, of course, awesome and not on this august company.)

Rob
Juliet Kestrel
26. Juliet_Kestrel
…except maybe now I’m kind of astonished that he hasn’t gone all Sith Lord on everyone long since. Because God knows, his story makes Anakin Skywalker’s formative years look about as angst-ridden as an episode of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. I mean, seriously.


It’s a good thing I didn’t have a beverage of any variety when I read this. I did that spurting breaking out into laughter thing that would have totally ruined my laptop. Both boyfriend and my dog looked at my oddly.

@10ftbleighjkjk


I personally love the slow boil of this book, the way Martin keeps twisting the tension to make it a little tighter, and a little bit more..


I am personally okay with this slow pace as this twisting tension is hard to stomach! Basically every Ned chapter stresses me out. I can just feel bad shit happening. I dunno what it is going to be, but I know it will not be good.

This chapter is a great example of bad shit yet to come. I do not think Gregor is going to be impressed by the Red Priests flaming sword, nor will he meekly and honorably submit himself to the Hand’s justice. I think Gregor is going to hulk smash this little hunting party. Plus this will further infuriate the Lannisters. Now Loras is all sulky mad, and Ned has gotten himself in between a Casterly rock and well a flower, so that play on words metaphor doesn’t work all that neatly, but you know what I mean.

Tywin is obviously not going to win any father of the year awards. I no longer wonder why Cearsi and Jamie turned out the way they did.

I heart Jon, he is an industrial sized barrel of awesome sauce. I am still hoping he gets a chance to rub how awesome he is in Cat’s face, in a good guy sort of way that makes it even more awesome.
Petra Jordan
27. TastyCrunchyDragonTreat
Glad Leigh Has No Edit Button ;p

'…bizarre ethical position, by making me kinda sorta be in favor of patricide. Ow, my principles.'
Snicker…

heart Tyrion, he is great at adapting and told Jon early on, '…make your weakness your strength' and '…my mind is my weapon'

furniture; realized today that you are often a female version of a great comic, Eddie Izzard, who goes all out on history, and has noted '…and the Ottoman Empire, had a lot of furniture, yes…'
Captain Hammer
28. Randalator
Bergmaniac @2

re: Jon Snow

Exactly, Jon is a nice guy and I like him but he is not my favourite character by a long shot. That award goes to Tyrion who, let's face it, is made of concentrated awesome.
Rob Munnelly
29. RobMRobM
@22 - one of the better Blog of Ice and Fire bits is in full evidence here - can't Gregor - or, rather GREGOR - just get off by claiming trial by combat every time. Pretty funny concept when you think about it.

@12. I see no problems with Tyrion arming troops to strengthen their forces against the Vale. Lysa essentially declared war against all Lannisters, even potentially innocent ones, so turnabout is fair play. Also, the other lords of the Vale were going to sit by watch Tyrion be executed in a farcical trial, decided by their "Fly"-mad Lord, without raising a finger to oppose the obvious injustice, so I'm not too worried about them either. (And in ASOIF, the peasants always suffer for the actions of their lords, so that's neither here nor there. )

@2 Are you calling my boy Jon a trope? Dem's fightin words....LOL

Rob
Fan from PA
30. a.v willis
The thing that sums up Tyrion's character in my opinion is resiliency. Because of his size and physical appearance he's always been on the outside of events and always been hated. And at the risk of spoilers it gets worse. His entire part in the third book is metaphorically to have nearly the entire cast line up, squat over him, (he's a dwarf remember?) and take a huge steaming shit on his life. In all honestly if i had to face a quarter of what the Imp had gone through i would have curled up and gone to my happy place years ago. Instead it's his ability to bounce back with, if not always a positive outlook, then a humorous one that endears him to fans and author alike.
Marcus W
31. toryx
RobM @ 29:

I see no problems with Tyrion arming troops to strengthen their forces against the Vale. Lysa essentially declared war against all Lannisters, even potentially innocent ones, so turnabout is fair play.

Not to mention that he's seen just how batshit crazy Lysa is and really, it's pretty obvious that she shouldn't be in charge of as important a region as the Eyrie happens to be. Getting rid of her really isn't all that bad an idea.
Antoni Ivanov
32. tonka
Sending Loras Tyrell was clearly not a mistake at all. People assume that Gregor would have killed him but Gregor is clearly a Lannister lapdog and imagine what could possibly happen if Lanniser managed to take as a hostage the son of the Lord of Highgarden...

Tyrion was trying to save his own skin. That's why he promised them the Vale, not that he intends to give it to them really. But he needed to make himself valuable to them in order not to kill him. Oh sure enough, very likely he is going to arm them and such (Lannister always pays its debts) but does anyone think that they stand any chance against the whole might of the Vale.
Rob Munnelly
33. RobMRobM
Tonka - good point re the Vale. Strategically sound to use the mountain tribes to cause pain to the Vale, even if they don't take it. Enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that.
Marcus W
34. toryx
Sending Loras Tyrell was clearly not a mistake at all.


I disagree. There's no way in hell Gregor would have taken him captive, and Loras' sole experience in combat is limited to the tourneys. He was vastly unprepared for such a task, especially given that he couldn't rely on tricks such as a mare in heat.

If he'd died, it would have been not just a backlash on the Lannisters but on the King as well and politically, that would have been a grave mistake. I don't think Robert would have cared all that much, but Ned certainly knew better.

As for the Vale..."A Lannister always pays his debts." Tyrion said exactly what he meant. Even properly equipped, the clans wouldn't have a chance against the Vale but Tyrion has something to give them that's far better than steel -- his wits.
Fan from PA
35. Carolynh
One thing I've noticed is that Ned, while obviously terrible at politics, is quite a good military strategist as he hashes out the pros and cons of doing one thing versus the other. Perhaps that skill and Robert's bravery those many years ago is what helped to forge their friendship. Unfortunately, that strategic skill doesn't translate to political manuvering, though I suppose it's possible Ned could have learned that with time.

And while I agree that he likely didn't send Ser Loras to go after Gregor becuase Ned sees Loras as just a boy, I'm not sure that Loras is as ill-equipped to deal with Gregor as he thought. Even though Loras is not battle-tested yet, someone who's clever enough to joust Gregor while riding a mare in heat is not someone to be trifled with, in my humble opinion. That shows a creative way of thinking that he might have also applied to the task ahead. Sort of like how Bronn beat Lady Lysa's champion.
Kevin Maroney
36. womzilla
"One thing I've noticed is that Ned, while obviously terrible at politics, is quite a good military strategist as he hashes out the pros and cons of doing one thing versus the other."

Ned is not terrible at politics, exactly. His actions regarding Gregor's marauding are smart political moves within the context of an honorable kingship. He's terrible at recognizing that his concepts of honor and duty are not matched to the realities of King's Landing.

(I don't consider this a spoiler, since not a single damn thing has gone smoothly for the Starks since, well, the dawn of time.)
Fan from PA
37. Leatherneck
Tyrion - You read into the wrong half of the bargain. He is a Lannister and makes grand promises, so what?

To Tyrion, the important thing is not the promises, it is the gain. He is buying his own personal force of fighters. Everyone else (Starks, Tywin Lannister, Tullys, Lysa, etc...) has their own bodyguards and armies. Now Tyrion does too - even if they are barbarians and sellswords - or maybe better that way. Why would he waste them attacking the Vale when they could be helping Tyrion?
Brett Dunbar
38. Brett
Sending Loras would have had some advantages if the arrest goes wrong killing him seriously pisses off two very powerful men. One obviously is his father Mace Tyrell the other Renly Bartheneon his lover this would bring significant forces that might otherwise be nuetral or pro-Lannister into active participation in an anti-Lannister alliance.

@22

Gregor may not have had the right to trial by combat under the circumstances. The wager of battle (term for trial by combat in English law) was not always available to the defendant in an appeal of murder. If the defendant were taken in the mainour (that is, in the act of committing his crime), if he attempted to escape from prison, or if there was such strong evidence of guilt that there could be no effective denial, the defendant could not challenge.

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