Fri
Sep 9 2011 2:17pm
A Read of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones, Part 23

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 23 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 46 (“Daenerys”), and 47 (“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 46: Daenerys

What Happens
At the ceremony to name her unborn child, Dany must eat an entire raw heart of a stallion in order to ensure her child is strong. She thinks Drogo looks proud of her when she manages it. The crones of the dosh khaleen proclaim that Dany’s son will be “the stallion who mounts the world.” They ask for the name, and Dany answers, Rhaego.

As the party heads to the lake where she will cleanse herself, Drogo asks Dany in broken Common Tongue the meaning of the name. Dany tells him it is for her brother Rhaegar, the last of the dragons and a fierce warrior. Drogo tells her it is a good name. At the lake, Dany washes herself, and when she reemerges, Drogo has sex with her before letting her get dressed. The party then retires to the hall to feast.

Dany looks for Viserys at the feast, but does not see him; she summons Ser Jorah, who confides in her that Viserys had planned to steal Dany’s dragon eggs and sell them for money to hire sellswords for his army. Dany doesn’t understand, and Jorah explains to her that even though they are stone, the eggs are incredibly valuable. Dany protests that Viserys should simply have asked her, and she would have given them to him, as her king. Jorah counters she belongs to the Dothraki, now. Dany asks him the significance of the phrase “the stallion who mounts the world.”

“The stallion is the khal of khals promised in ancient prophecy, child. He will unite the Dothraki into a single khalasar and ride to the ends of the earth, or so it was promised. All the people of the world will be his herd.”

“Oh,” Dany said in a small voice. Her hand smoothed her robe down over the swell of her stomach. “I named him Rhaego.”

“A name to make the Usurper’s blood run cold.”

Viserys enters the hall, clearly drunk, and armed with a sword. Alarmed, Dany sends Jorah to head him off, but Viserys begins shouting about the insult that they’ve started the feast without him, and calls Dany a whore, though fortunately most of the occupants of the hall cannot understand him. Drogo laughs and tells Viserys (Jorah translates) that “the Sorefoot King”s place is at the back of the hall, among the cripples and infirm. The Dothraki roar laughter, and Viserys knocks Jorah down and draws his sword, breaking the sacred rule that no blades be drawn in the city.

The Dothraki scream curses. Viserys sees Dany and goes to her. Dany pleads with him, saying she will give him the eggs, but Viserys puts the point of the sword at her stomach and tells her to tell Drogo that he will give Viserys what he promised, or Viserys will cut the child out of Dany. Drogo replies, via Dany, that Viserys will have “a splendid golden crown that men shall tremble to behold.” Viserys smiles and lowers the sword, whereupon Drogo’s bloodriders jump him and hold him down while Drogo dumps the gold medallions from his belt into a stew pot, melting them down. Viserys screams and pleads, entreating Dany to help him, but she says nothing. Drogo upends the pot of molten gold over Viserys’s head.

The sound Viserys Targaryen made when that hideous iron helmet covered his face was like nothing human. His feet hammered a frantic beat against the dirt floor, slowed, stopped. Thick globs of molten gold dripped down onto his chest, setting the scarlet silk to smoldering… yet no drop of blood was spilled.

He was no dragon, Dany thought, curiously calm. Fire cannot kill a dragon.

Commentary
I think this is what they call “Darwinism in action.”

Well, actually, in reading it again, you could make a case for it being the medieval-ish fantasy equivalent of suicide by cop. I guess it’s a question of whether you decide to believe Viserys was so apocalyptically arrogant/stupid that he genuinely thought Drogo would not retaliate for a threat to his son, or if Viserys was just smart enough to be sure that he would.

Hmm. Could go either way, really. Well, it’s a moot point now!

But you know, kudos to Viserys, really. He survived a whole chapter longer than I expected him to. I can’t say I was terribly surprised by his death, though.

That said, the manner of his death was pretty damn shocking. I mean, wow. I’m sure there are more painful ways to die than having a cauldron of boiling metal dumped on your head, but I honestly can’t think of any offhand. Ow.

I find it kind of grimly hilarious, by the way, that the Dothraki city has a ban against shedding blood, but it’s still perfectly fine to kill people; you just have to be creative about it. Nice.

It’s also rather hilarious that in naming her son “Rhaego,” Dany didn’t even realize that she was not so much throwing down a gauntlet to Robert, as she was hauling off and clocking him with it. Seriously, dude is going to LOSE HIS SHIT when he hears about this. I can’t decide whether I’m pleased about that or not.

And apparently her son’s prophesied to not only kick Robert’s ass, but to, er, fuck the rest of the world too — literally. Sort of. So that’s… a lot. Okay, then, good luck with that whole mounting the world thing? I guess?

(Wow)

As for the rest of this chapter, um. It’s like Martin is running down a checklist of “Things Barbarians Would Totally Do” with the Dothraki, and amping it up to eleven. Drums! Chanting! Blood-drenched prophecies! Public sex! Poor personal hygiene! Really nasty liquor! Really raw food! Rarrrrh!

 

Chapter 47: Eddard

What Happens
Ned is summoned in the middle of the night to the king’s apartments to find that Robert has been gored by a boar and is dying. Robert kicks out the other people in the room, including Renly, Pycelle, and Cersei. Robert tells Ned that he’d heard the news about Gregor Clegane, but did not tell Sandor. He regrets his decision to have Daenerys assassinated, and believes that the boar was sent as a punishment for it.

Robert dictates a letter to Ned, in which he orders that Ned be made his regent, to rule until Joffrey comes of age. Ned agonizes, but cannot bring himself to tell Robert the truth about Joffrey on his deathbed, and instead of writing “Joffrey,” writes “my heir” instead. Robert says he’s been as wretched a king as Aerys, but at least he’s done this last thing right. Robert tells Ned to try and call off Daenerys’s assassination, and calls Renly and Pycelle back in to witness him sealing the proclamation. As he drops off to sleep, Robert asks Ned to take care of his children for him. Ned thinks of all the bastards he found, and promises that he will.

Outside, Pycelle tells Ned the king will die very shortly, and Ser Barristan says he has failed his sacred trust by allowing this to happen. Ned disagrees, and says Robert blames the wine. Varys appears and observes that he was no doubt kept very well-supplied with wine by his squire Lancel, who happens to be a Lannister. Ned tells him to call off the thing with Daenerys; Varys says it might be too late for that, but he’ll try, and leaves. Renly pulls Ned aside; he’s guessed at the contents of the letter, and urges him to take Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen hostage, to ensure Cersei will not oppose them. Ned tells him he will not dishonor Robert’s last hours by kidnapping children. Renly tells him if he waits until Robert dies it may be too late.

“Then we should pray that Robert does not die.”

“Small chance of that,” said Renly.

“Sometimes the gods are merciful.”

“The Lannisters are not.”

Ned returns to his rooms and sends for Littlefinger, and tells Tomard that when his daughters’ ship sails, Tom will go along and stop on the way to deliver a letter to Lord Stannis Baratheon. Ned reflects that at least his stint as regent will be short, and longs to be home with his family. Littlefinger enters and congratulates him on his new status, and Ned growls about Varys’s “little birds.” Ned tells Littlefinger about Cersei’s children (which doesn’t seem to shock him), and that therefore when Robert dies, the throne passes to his brother Stannis.

Littlefinger advises him that he should make sure Joffrey gets the throne instead. He believes that Stannis will try to execute both Cersei and her children to ensure his throne, and that the Lannisters will obviously rebel if he tries, meaning war. On the other hand, he points out, Ned will have four years as Joffrey’s regent to get rid of Stannis, so if Joffrey proves “troublesome,” they can reveal his secret and put Renly on the throne instead. Disgusted, Ned reminds him icily that that is treason, and also reminds him that the Lannisters tried to murder his son. Littlefinger sighs and remarks that he forgot he was talking to a Stark.

Ned tells Littlefinger that his personal armsmen are outnumbered by Cersei’s, and he needs to ensure the loyalty of the City Watch to him, not her. Littlefinger is amused that Ned can’t quite bring himself to admit out loud that he wants Littlefinger to bribe them, but agrees to take care of it.

Commentary
…Well.

Of all the things I thought might happen when Ned was summoned to see Robert, that was definitely not one of them.

Wow. (I seem to say that an awful lot, reading this book.)

So, uh, I guess Robert’s not going to lose his shit over the Rhaego thing. Seeing as, being disembowled and all, he’s kind of already lost his shit, literally.

(Goodness, what is that chorus of anguished groans I hear? Okay, fine, yes, I’m going to the special hell for that, OH WELL. On the other hand, it proves that waiting to finish the commentary on the first chapter before reading the second one is definitely the way to go, because serendipitous phrasing FTW!)

Anyway. So, Ned’s the regent, now, huh? Damn. And also, damn if I can’t figure out in the slightest whether that’s a good thing or not.

On the one hand, yay, because talk about a fortuitous cutting of the Robertian Knot, there. Not to mention putting Ned in a much more defensible position versus Cersei/the Lannisters. Also not to mention, even accounting for his ridiculous honor issues, Ned will be about TEN THOUSAND TIMES a better ruler than Robert was.

On the other hand, that’s if it actually happens. And if it doesn’t, it’s entirely because of Ned’s ridiculous honor issues.

Because, okay, I’m actually with him on refusing Littlefinger’s proposal, because there’s being willing to tolerate a little practical dirt, and then there’s just plain rolling around in the skeezy, but he really really really should have taken Renly up on his idea. Yes, scaring children is shitty and all, but you know, that’s better than risking that the woman who cheerfully murders children (or stands by while someone else does, whatever), oh, and who also hates your guts, will get the drop on you.

This is a BAD THING, NED. Seriously, leverage, you need as much of it as humanly possible. Like, now. Sheesh.

“You wear your honor like a suit of armor, Stark. You think it keeps you safe, but all it does is weigh you down and make it hard for you to move.”

Word. Littlefinger’s a slimebucket, no doubt, but when you’re right you’re right.

(Also:

Ned gave him a stony stare. “Have you no shred of honor?”

“Oh, a shred, surely,” Littlefinger replied negligently.

Ha! Okay, that was funny.)

Although, it seems that even Ned’s insane honor code has limits. I was honestly surprised that he actually let compassion trump honesty regarding telling Robert about his heirs. And he indulged in semantics! In writing, even! AND endorsed bribing by an officer of the court! It’s All Too Shocking! Please pardon me while I clutch my pearls.

It may seem weird that I kind of want to congratulate Ned for lying, even if only by omission, but, yeah. It makes him human, instead of NobleBot 2000. And that’s nice. Now if he could bend just a titch more…

…Great, I’ve just realized that essentially I want to congratulate a character for lying to his best friend on his deathbed, and then urge him to go kidnap some kids and stage a coup. My moral compass, she is all haywire! That is the pass we’ve come to! Curse you, Game of Thrones! *shakes fist*

Okay, not really. Maybe a little. Maybe a titch. ‘Cause you know what they say: a titch in time saves messy internecine conflicts! Or something like that!


Riiiight, it’s clearly time for me to stop. Bon weekend, mes amies, and see you next Friday!

47 comments
Lon Kelley
1. Mathguy
The king is dead... Long live the King!

...but who will be king?
Birgit
2. birgit
The Dothraki sound like Aiel here: The khal of khals / Car'a'carn unites the Dothraki / Aiel and conquers the world, and there is a holy meeting place where fighting is forbidden.
Vincent Lane
3. Aegnor
I loved the comentary Leigh. Can't wait till next Friday.
Lsana
4. Lsana
This series will definitely do that to your moral compass. While reading this series, I find myself cheering aloud for actions that in any other series would be considered a crossing of the moral event horizon.

Though I will point out that the tradition of lying to people on their deathbeds so that they can die happy is a well estabilished one. The rest of what you want Ned to do...er, um...well, on to the next chapter!
Rob Munnelly
5. RobMRobM
"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die...." Why oh why should Ned assume things will go well in Robert's death rattles when Cersei made the above quote to his face but has not left town yet.

Rob
Lsana
6. johntocaelpiano
Hah! I LOVED the scene where Viserys gets a pot of gold on his head (in a bad way). It was like... we'd seen him be utterly cruel, totally insane, miserable, worthless, and only in his death would any of us, including Viserys himself, attain any sort of satisfaction.

Le sigh.
Don Barkauskas
8. bad_platypus
Okay, then, good luck with that whole mounting the world thing?

Ummm... there's also the original sense of "mount"---to get onto a horse, at which point you're in control. Given the Dothraki culture, I always read this as an appropriate metaphor for her son ruling (not raping) the world.
dan
9. Chrysippus4321
I don't think its a question of whether Viserys was arrogant or stupid but that he was fully round the bend. I've always felt sorry about Viserys. Over the decades I've known people who have become disconnected from reality and several of them changed in a decade from accomplished artists, architects, scientists etc. to unrecognizable (and in some cases extremely violent) invalids with all traces of their earlier genius missing.
Rob Munnelly
10. RobMRobM
By the way, gotta love Varys pointing out that the Queen's nephew was plying Robert with wine during the boar hunt, causing/contributing heavily to the disemboweling. Robert made clear earlier that his Lannister squires were insisted on by Cersei. Sometimes it is not so good to be the King.

Rob
Lsana
11. Dolphineus
"My moral compass, she is all haywire!"

Yeah, Game of Thrones will do that to ya. Wait until the next book, lol
Lsana
12. Dolphineus
@Birgit

Yeah they do. Except for their horses. And their swords. And their women. But other than that, yeah.

Drogo ain't no Car'a'carn, though.
Lsana
13. JBWocky
"NobleBot 2000"
---> lol


Lsana
14. sofrina
@10 - cousins, not nephews. jaime's children are her children and tyrion has none (that we know of, thus far).
Lsana
15. Naraoia
badplatypus @8:

Yeah, but stallions generally don't mount things in that sense.

Interesting that not everyone automatically interpreted that "mount" as "screw". I never even thought of the other meaning. Though I guess the two meanings are not entirely unrelated!

From the post:


Anyway. So, Ned’s the regent, now, huh? Damn. And also, damn if I can’t figure out in the slightest whether that’s a good thing or not.



I love how you're getting all confused about what to expect XD

FWIW, I totally agree (and did right from my first read, so don't consider this a spoiler ;)) that Ned should have taken Renly's offer. It was by far the least evil way to achieve what he wanted. IIRC, Renly was not suggesting that he *harm* the children. And frankly, if I had to choose between doing dodgy things with Renly or Littlefinger as an ally, I'd choose the former in an instant.
Lsana
16. Wortmauer
For all GRRM's reputation (exaggerated, IMO, as I've said before) for killing off characters and making you go "NOOOOOO", this one made me go "YESSSSSSS". Careful what you wish for, dude, there can be downsides to a splendid golden crown that men shall tremble to behold. I like the contrast with the Iron Throne, that other symbol of regency that can kill you if you aren't careful.

(Also, the gold in Drogo's belt was surely worth a fortune. His decision to throw away that much money just to make his point is pretty badass. Whoever said conspicuous consumption is limited to western civilization?)

The end of Dany's chapter rewards a close read. I love how Dany disowns Viserys in her thoughts - "the man who had been her brother" and the like. She recently concluded that Viserys was a sorry human being, not a true king in exile, but here it's like she's steeling herself for what her husband will do, and by the time he does it, she's pretty detached.

I also don't think Viserys had a deathwish. He was drunk and came up with a drunk's brilliant plan: take his sister hostage, and the taboos of Vaes Dothrak, along with their concern for the safety of her child, will protect him long enough to make some demands. This plan has a few obvious flaws, but I did say he was drunk. (How drunk do you have to be to come up with the courage to face down thousands of barbarians who eat raw horse hearts?)

I do find it interesting, but a little implausible, that while Robert is obsessed with (a) killing Targaryens and (b) eliminating their threat to his rule, he mostly seems to dismiss Viserys to focus on Dany and her baby. Of course we've known for awhile that Viserys is pathetic and not a real threat, but would Robert know that? Viserys is several years older, and male. I would expect Robert to make the same assumption Viserys himself made: that when the time comes, Drogo and his Dothraki will follow Viserys across the narrow sea, and aim to put Viserys on the Iron Throne. That seems to be what Illyrio negotiated. Even if Robert's intelligence is good enough to hint that Viserys is all bluster, I wouldn't expect him to believe it. He wouldn't just dismiss Rhaegar's 20-something brother, no matter how incompetent Viserys is reported to be.

I don't have much to say about Ned's chapter, except to agree, his refusal to take the Lannister kids hostage did seem pretty foolhardy. Anything more should wait until we find out what comes of his decisions here.
Vincent Lane
17. Aegnor
Wortmauer,

I think Robert knows Viserys is an idiot. If you remember in the chapter where Ned resigns Robert says something along the lines of "killing Daenerys and that fool Viserys".

Really Robert isn't/wasn't afraid of either Viserys or Daenerys. He was afraid of Drogo and his 40k trained fighters. He probably figures that there is no way that Viserys could seriously get Drogo to invade. He was probably terrified that Daenerys would be able to get the father of her child to invade. Or further down the line, that the grandson of the former king would lead his Khalasar to take back the throne that is his birth right. Beside that, the threat Viserys poses is insignificant.

Remember also, that Jorah is Robert's spy, and that he has likely told Robert what an idiot Viserys is.
Lsana
18. fanganga
I'm loving seeing how leigh and everybody else are reacting to this bit where all the tension that's been built up is being unleashed - When I read the book, I don't think I could put it down at this point.

My guess as to why Robert is so concerned about Dany and her baby comes down to Drogo's motivation. The Westerosi know that the Dothraki are wary of crossing the sea and expect that Drogo won't do so to put his brother-in-law on a throne, but might for his son. Or it could be just that Robert always plays up the latest development as the GREATEST THREAT EVAR in the hope that he'll get the council to agree with him.

Over on BlogOfIceAndFire, they're comparing Drogo's chosen method of killing Viserys with Caesar's method of killing Crassus. Curiously, nobody there mentioned the parallel with an all-conquering horse-lord from our world, who had at least one enemy's eyes and ears filled with molten silver.

Another parallel from Eddard's chapter that I hadn't noticed until Leigh drew my attention to the line - the metaphor Martin chooses to put in Littlefinger's mouth calls to mind another honourable man in the Vale of Arryn, who also got in a fight with an enemy who could use his heavy armour and inflexible style against him.
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
Sofrina - good catch. You are absolutely correct. Daughter of Tywin, Son of Tywin's brother Keven. First cousins.
Rob Munnelly
20. RobMRobM
Here is the Blog of Ice and Fire, per tradition. Pretty straightforward, fewer zingers than usual.

*********
Dany is busy eating a horse heart, because if she doesn't, her fetus will be born weak, deformed, or (GASP) female. She manages to finish the entire heart and keeps it down, much to the satisfaction of the Dothraki crones. They proclaim that her kid will be the "the stallion that mounts the world." Dany will be so proud, since not everyone's son gets to be a gigantic horse that humps planet earth. She names him Rhaego, a cross between her brother Rhaegar and her husband Drogo. Rhaego is the Dothraki version of Darth Vader, destined to fulfill some crazy prophecy.

While this is going on, Viserys is frequenting the local markets, getting wasted on wine. He finally shows up at the ceremony, but he's drunk and carrying a sword. It's forbidden to have steel in Vaes Dothrak, so obviously Viserys built a time machine and returned with a plastic sword, because nobody would be so stupid as to directly defy the law of a vicious, war-centered race who wouldn't hesitate at all to kill an annoying beggar king. Viserys then draws the sword, waves it around, and threatens Dany's kid. Yes, the same kid who the Dothraki see as their future planet humping, prophecy fulfilling, Darth man-horse. This is obviously not a smart thing to do, but Viserys was never the smartest of men. In response, Drogo calmly kills him by pouring molten metal over his head. Finally, douche Viserys gets whats coming to him, and Dany severs the last binding tie to her old way of life.

____________________

Robert is dying, gored by a boar during his hunting trip. This is far too convenient timing, and I subscribe to the Varys-hinted theory that the Lannisters were behind it. Before Bob dies, he names Eddard protector of the realm, very similar to what that old emperor did in Gladiator. Eddard doesn't want the throne, and that's why "it must be him." King Bob's decision isn't going to sit well with the Lannisters, and Ned will probably be enslaved and forced to fight in the Colosseum for the amusement of the King's Landing mob. Then he'll reveal his identity as Eddard Stark, Warden of the North, Lord of Winterfell, Hand of the King, loyal servant to the true King, Robert Baratheon; father to a crippled son, husband to a boring wife, and he will have his vengeance, in this life or the next.

On his deathbed, Robert makes Eddard promise to take care of his children. Ned can't bring himself to tell Bob the truth about his kids, so he silently thinks of all of Robert's true children, scattered around the realm. Can you imagine Catelyn's face when Eddard brings back ten more bastards to take care of, even if they aren't his?

Eddard plans to crown King Bob's eldest brother Stannis, beacuse Joffrey isn't his true heir. Robert's younger brother Renly offers his help to grab power by capturing Cersei's kids, but that is too dishonorable for Eddard. Let me repeat that: it's too dishonorable to temporarily capture the kids of a woman who not only has kids with her brother but also attempts to kill crippled, comatose children. Littlefinger suggests a different plan, recommending that they make peace with the Lannisters, bide their time, and reveal the incest later on. Eddard can't stomach playing nice with the Lannisters, because they killed Jory and tried to kill Bran. However, Eddard isn't stupid: he knows he needs more swords than he has, so he arranges with Littlefinger to purchase the City Watch's support, just in case.
Lsana
21. Lilly
#17 Aegnor, you may want to white out part of your comment; there's a little tidbit in there that isn't actually revealed until the third book ;)
Sean Vivier
22. SeanVivier
Here's what I don't get. Lord Stark already has a hostage back at Winterfell. His name is Theon Greyjoy. So why can't he take one more hostage when that hostage raised a sword to his daughter? His answer to Renly should have been: "Not Tommen and Myrcella. Just Joffrey."
Vincent Lane
23. Aegnor
Lilly@21,

I've read my post over a few times, and I still can't see the spoiler. You'll have to be more specific I guess, as I don't have any idea what part to whiten out.
Vincent Lane
24. Aegnor
SeanVivier@22,

Eddard Stark taking Theon to foster is significantly different than abducting children from their bedrooms in the middle of the night. While Theon is technically a hostage, it is a more civilized and noble version of hostage taking.
Lsana
25. no_one
It perhaps isn't evident on the first read, but Ned cannot stage a coup with Renly any more than he could accept Cirsei. It would leave him in a position at least as bad or worse, and this is not even accounting the legal or moral implications. Most peoples evaluations of the circumstances get as confused as their moral compasses.
Don Barkauskas
26. bad_platypus
Aegnor @23: Last paragraph. (It's revealed in Season 1 of the HBO show, but not until much later in the books.)
Vincent Lane
27. Aegnor
bad_platypus@26,

Actually Varys says it outright in the council meeting that Jorah is his source for the info on Daenerys being pregnant.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ned looked at the eunuch coldly. "You would bring us the whisperings of a traitor half a world away, my lord. Perhaps Mormont is wrong. Perhaps he is lying."

"Ser Jorah would not dare deceive me," Varys said with a sly smile. "rely on it, my lord. The princess is with child."
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sure Varys could be lying that he got the info from Mormont, but why? There's no motive, and a chance of geting caught in a lie. I would make the same comment even if I had never read past this chapter. Jorah was confirmed as being Robert (or at least Varys') spy in the 8th Eddard chapter in GoT.
Stefan Mitev
28. Bergmaniac
Actually the bit about Jorah in post 17 is revealed earlier in AGOT so it's not a spoiler.

Anyway, I've always found Viserys the most annoying character in the series by far, but his death was horrible and I felt sorry for him, at least a bit.

Apart from his honour and "never ever hurt kids" principle, another major problem for Ned in KL is that so far he hasn't made much of an effort to gain allies even though he sorely needs them given that Robert had proved to be unreliable and his enemies are the Queen and the most powerful family in the realm. Renly would've been the most natural ally he should've tried to get on his side, but in the months so far he made no effort at all to achieve that. Varys came to Ned offering his help and he barely used him. Loras Tyrell, the son of one of the most powerful lords in Westeros, was also in the capital yet Ned made no effort to get to be his friend or at least get to know him, and to make matters worse denied his offer to be part of the group which was sent to execute Gregor Clegane. Ned also barely knew Janos Slynt, the commander of the City Watch, the most powerful force in the city who clearly has a lot of power and would be useful if things in the city turn ugly. Sending a lot of his own retainers away to hunt for Gregor even though he was already short on men at this point and outnumbered by the Lannister retainers wasn't that smart by Ned either.

And to make matters worse, he denied Renly's offer in this chapter which made his position even more dangerous than it already was.

Littlefinger continues to make fun of Ned's honour obsession and rigid views and I can't help but love it. ;)
Corey Sees
29. CorwinOfAmber
My favorite line from that Dany chapter is:
"Viserys smiled and lowered his sword. That was the saddest thing, the thing that tore at her afterward... the way he smiled. 'That was all I wanted,' he said. 'What was promised.'"
One of my favorite things about GRRM as a writer is his ability to make you feel for even the most dispicable characters. Like the above quotation, and in the next paragraph: "Haggo shattered his wrist with a single, sharp twist of his huge hands. Cohollo pulled the sword from his limp fingers. Even now Viserys did not understand." For that one moment, I really feel bad for him. This scene was beautifully done in the HBO show (as were most scenes in the show), though I did always imagine Viserys a little more drunk thank he appears there. I love that they captured the smile though. Here is the link to the scene, avoid it if you don't want the actors to affect your imagination of the characters:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q63HjviwE4w

@lily and bad_platypus
I was indignant that they revealed this so early in the show, thinking that it wasn't revealed in the third book, then I did a reread of GoT and was shocked to find it revealed so early in the book.
Jennifer McBride
30. vegetathalas
To be fair, accidents happen. Send men with swords to collect children in the dark, and WHOOPS!
Lsana
31. Lilly
I had forgotten about Varys mentioning the Jorah thing earlier in the book -- so you're right, I guess it's not a spoiler. Perhaps I wasn't entirely trusting of the "facts" that come out of The Spider's mouth at such opportune times. Anyway, I was totally shocked when it was revealed later on, because I (like Dany) had come to totally trust Jorah.

;)
Lsana
32. myself
Wherever is Littlefinger going to get the money in order to bribe the City Watch?

It is my understanding, that the kingdom is bankrupt, already owing a huge amount of gold to the Lannisters and Littlefinger already had to borrow more money in order to cover the expences for the last tourney.

Is he going to borrow even more money from the Lannisters, in order to bribe the City Watch, so that the guards won't plead loyalty to the Lannisters?

Eddard's Plan is faulty from conception.
Lsana
33. Wortmauer
myself@32: Is he going to borrow even more money from the Lannisters, in order to bribe the City Watch, so that the guards won't plead loyalty to the Lannisters?
There are some obvious problems with agreeing to Littlefinger's plan, but I don't think this is one of them. He's been Secretary of the Treasury for years; he is surely clever enough to be able to handle that sort of cash flow without letting Lord Tywin know what exactly his money is being spent on. It's not like he drives an armored carriage to Casterly Rock every Friday and loads it up with gold out of Lord Tywin's vault so the Crown can make payroll.

I've always liked Littlefinger, I think. Creepy and shifty and carrying a torch way too long, perhaps, but ... I dunno. It must be the clever dialog; I can forgive a man much for clever dialog. And he cuts an amusing profile: a short guy with a pointy goatee, pulling strings and spouting one-liners. The HBO rendition is pretty good ... but they didn't make him short enough and his goatee wasn't pointy! I confess I was a little disappointed.
Stefan Mitev
34. Bergmaniac
Ned has a lot of money, he's the Lord of half the realm after all. True, that half is much less populated than the other, but still, he can easily afford to spend 6000 gold dragons.

Litlefinger probably can easily afford to spend 6000 gold dragons of his own money too, that's a really cheap price for deciding who will be the next King. Littlefinger's obviously quite rich - during the tourney he lost 100 dragons in a bet to Renly and took it in stride. He's a really smart guy who knows how to make money and owns plenty of profitable businesses like brothels.
Don Barkauskas
35. bad_platypus
@27,28,29,31: Huh. I could have sworn that there was a huge outcry when it was revealed on the show. I just recently did a re-read myself and completely missed it. Objection withdrawn. :-)
Lsana
36. myself
@13, 14 :

My error.
Just rereead, where it says the champion of the jousting tournament alone was to get 40.000 golden dragons.

You are correct.
6.000 is not that much money for Luittlefinger to find.

But, now that I can compare the numbers, the City Guard's loyalty seems to come pretty cheap...
Lsana
37. Dragonara
The Viserys death scene was one of my favorites on HBO. When his head hit the floor, there was a distinct "clank". Made me laugh hard despite the gruesomeness of the scene.
Matthew Watkins
38. oraymw
So, if LotR were written by George R. R. Martin, then Aragorn would have thought he was God's gift to Middle Earth and Women, and when he demanded that the Elves reforge Narsil, they would have instead melted it down and poured it down his throat.
Lsana
40. Elly Vortex
The part with Viserys and his "golden crown" really freaked me out when I first read these books. (Now that I've read them all I know it's just the tip of the iceberg...)

What creeped me out was that it must have taken some time for the gold to melt in the pot before it was hot enough to be poured onto Viserys. I imagined his impassioned and useless pleas once he figured out what was going on, waiting for the gold to melt.
Kevin Maroney
41. womzilla
oraymw @ 38:

From the v. secret diaries of Ned Stark.

Day 45 in King's Landing. Still not King of the North.
Captain Hammer
42. Randalator
oraymw @38

No, he would have been like Eddard Stark but with a ton of angst added to the mix...
Lsana
43. Belarion
@38

Gandalf would of stayed dead, and a few more would of died.
Lsana
44. fanganga
@38
Sauron would have been briefly hinted at in the beginning, then largely ignored with much of the story being about intrigue in Rohan as Gandalf tries to oust Wormtongue
Matthew Watkins
45. oraymw
@43: Stay dead? Shoot, Gandalf would have turned into an Ice Zombie Wizard and destroyed everybody.
Lsana
46. MickeyDee
When is a spoiler not a spoiler? Ahhh when it is a reveal of course! Even a dastardley open-handed reveal in plain sight early in the book when we weren't paying attention to such things....

LOL. But now it is a spoiler too...by talking about it people now know it is going to be (re-) revealed in a later book.

@41 Womzilla - you made me laugh out loud at work.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
47. AlirozTheConfused
This is the chapter that made me realize
this series is stupid, regardless of size
a series isn't good just for being long
if the chemistry and physics are egregiously wrong
the gold melting simply is nowhere near right
gold doesn't melt until past 1900 fahrenheit
and even then you need more heat to make the phase shifty
and there's no way this cook-campire exceeds 750
If this is believable, why is it not
that Ned Stark can carry castles at a trot
or swimming up a waterfall
or jumping over the freaking wall?
Lsana
48. CarpeComputer
Am I the only person who was sad about Viserys' insanaty and death? He was an @55, that's for sure. He wasn't a tiny bit likable, that's also certes. But he was the last male Targarien! I would love to see him die in some sort of painfull way, but only after he gets a son. I really hate it when cool families die out like that :(

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