Fri
Mar 23 2012 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 12

A Read of a Song 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 12 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapters 24 (“Theon”) and 25 (“Tyrion”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, The Powers That Be at 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 24: Theon

What Happens
Theon is admiring his first new longship when a woman joins him; liking the look of her, he immediately begins blatantly propositioning her. She fondles him in return, but tells him she is married and pregnant. This does not deter Theon in his pursuit, and he tells her she can tell her grandchildren she once loved a king.

“Oh, is it love we’re talking now? And here I thought it was just cocks and cunts.”

She introduces herself as Esgred, wife to Sigrin, the man who built Theon’s ship. She asks if he likes the ship, and he says that he does. She laughs and calls it a “sea bitch,” and Theon tells her she just named it. He continues to entreat her to sleep with him; she resists, but playfully, and fondles him again. He asks her to come back to the castle with him, and after more lewd banter she agrees.

They stroll through the port, and the townfolk nod respectfully as they go by; Theon is gratified that they have finally begun to acknowledge him properly. Esgred greets many of the men by name as they pass, and Theon admits to her that he has been away too long to know one from another. He asks if she would be willing to help him choose men for his crew, and she says she might, if he treats her kindly. They pass the ship Theon arrived in, and Theon ignores the calls of the captain’s daughter; Esgred speculates that she had been too “soft and bland” for him, and Theon agrees.

He retrieves his squire Wex roughly from the inn; Wex’s eyes go wide when he sees Esgred, but as he is mute he says nothing. He continues to try to grope Esgred on the ride back to the castle, but she fends him off, and leads him to talk of his family. Theon confesses that his father had barely welcomed him, but claims he is not worried about either his three uncles or his sister Asha; the latter he plans to marry off, if he “can find a man to take her,” as he remembers she was very ugly. Esgred asks about his fourth uncle Euron Croweye, but Theon replies that no one has seen him for two years; he keeps to the Old Way, and is probably dead. She asks whether he will go to see his mother, but Theon says his father relies on him too much for him to take the time. She entreats him to tell him about his exile on the mainland, and he tells her many stories of Winterfell, surprised at how easy it is to talk to her.

When they arrive at the castle, a stableman approaches and addresses Esgred as “Lady Asha.” Asha grins and comments that “her little brother” gave her a ride from the port. Theon is stunned speechless, but then demands to know why she didn’t tell him. Asha replies that she wanted to see who he was first, “and I did.”

Theon is horrified and appalled that he made such a fool of himself. He thinks that he has no place here, and it is Asha’s fault. He dresses and goes down to dinner, only to find Asha sitting at the place of honor to their father’s right. He hisses at her that she’s in his spot, and she replies that his place is at Winterfell. They trade barbs, and Theon drinks too much wine. He says everything she told him was a lie, and Asha replies the part about being wed and with child was true.

Asha leapt to her feet. “Rolfe, here,” she shouted down at one of the finger dancers, holding up a hand. He saw her, spun, and suddenly an axe came flying from his hand, the blade gleaming as it tumbled end over end through the torchlight. Theon had time for a choked gasp before Asha snatched the axe from the air and slammed it down into the table, splitting his trencher in two and splattering his mantle with drippings. “There’s my lord husband.” His sister reached down inside her gown and drew a dirk from between her breasts. “And here’s my sweet suckling babe.”

Everyone in the hall roars with laughter at him, even his father. Asha tells him she could never have fooled him if he’d bothered to learn anything about his subjects. Theon tries to remember if Pyke was this unpleasant when he’d lived here before. Balon retires after the feast, commanding his kin to come lay plans, but Asha doesn’t go immediately, and taunts him for pursuing her. She gropes him again, to his shock, and Theon tells her that when he rules he will send her off “to the silent sisters.” He leaves to join his father.

In the solar, Balon lays out his war plan: Theon, along with his uncle Aeron, is to take eight longships to harry the Stony Shore and raid the fishing villages, while Asha is to take thirty ships to assault the Glover hold at Deepwood Motte, north of Winterfell, and Victarion is to sail up Saltspear below to strike Moat Cailin, cutting “the pup” off from the North completely. Stung by his paltry role in the campaign, Theon tries to protest, but Balon and the others ignore him. When he leaves, he falls on the rope bridge, and Asha helps him across, twitting him for not being able to hold his liquor.

“I liked you better when you were Esgred,” he told her accusingly.

She laughed. “That’s fair. I liked you better when you were nine.”

Commentary
AHAHAHAHA, oh my God.

Talk about your jaw-dropping reveals. I think I almost yelled out loud when I realized who “Esgred” really was. Holy crap, you guys.

Asha is either completely awesome or utterly horrifying, and I can’t decide which. I think she might be both. Because, yes, take-no-shit warrior chick who catches spinning axes in midair, I am totally down with that, but GIRL, that was your little brother you’re fucking with! Almost literally!

Granted, your little brother is an arrogant douchenozzle who wants to ship you off to a convent and was stupid enough to tell you so to your face, so there’s that, but still. The ick factor is a little through the roof, here.

Woooo, okay. Brotherly-sisterly groping, not disturbing at alllll. Yeah.

So that was a great deal, in retrospect. Hell, it was a great deal even before I knew Theon was hitting on his own sister. I only quoted the one line of Theon and Asha’s “banter,” but that about sums up what the rest of it was like, trust me. The bit I left out where Theon asks to drink “Esgred’s” breast milk was especially classy.

My, the Iron Islanders are an… earthy folk, aren’t they? Or maybe “salty” is the more appropriate word. “Crusty”? “Grody”? Or maybe we should go for straight-up “dirty,” hah. And people think I have a potty mouth! At least I don’t generally run around yelling about “cocks and cunts,” eh?

…Well, except for just now. But Martin said it first, so it doesn’t count, neener! I am commenting on his use of language, y’see.

Which, for the record, I find hilarious, a fact which I’m sure shocks no one. Naughty, naughty GRRM, failing to adhere to FCC regulations and making his characters curse like real people! I can just imagine how often he’s gotten flak for it, too. I confess to feeling a certain kinship with him on that.

I’m a little bit conflicted about how to feel about Theon at this point. I still don’t actually like him (see above re: douchenozzle), but his treatment at the hands of his own family is tripping all my “defend against mean bullies” reflexes. I really, really dislike bullies.

And yet… allowing for the general horribleness of their culture, of course, it’s not entirely unreasonable (or at least not terribly surprising) that Asha (and Theon’s uncles, for that matter) would move to secure their own positions against Theon, who can only be viewed as an interloper who clearly bears none of them any particular good will.

And for Asha it’s especially so, as she stands to lose everything she’s gained if Theon takes the throne. Viewed from that perspective, publicly humiliating Theon in such a shame-oriented culture was a brilliant move, politically — if a shitty (and creepy) move in most other ways. Although the two of them did seem to end the chapter on a curiously conciliatory note.

Also, dude. Either his dad is actively trying to get Theon to defect right back to the Starks, or… well, I suppose he just thinks his son is a douchenozzle, and doesn’t trust him enough to give him the good pillage and rapine. I… can’t say he doesn’t have a point there.

Speaking of pillage and rapine, to the mapmobile, Robin! Because where the fuck are these places?

…Ah. Welp, I was pretty much completely and utterly wrong about where Balon was aiming, wasn’t I? My bad!

That’s… actually a scarily good battle plan there, too. If Victarion succeeds in taking Moat Cailin, it seems to me that Robb is effectively boxed in, trapped between the Lannisters in the south, the Greyjoys to the west and north, and Stannis to the east. Well, Stannis is a bit occupied with giving his kid brother a wedgie at Storm’s End at the moment, true, but I’m sure he’s left behind sufficient forces at Dragonstone to block any attempt from Robb to go around the eastern side of the Neck via sea.

And then there’s the Vale of Arryn, just sitting there being a big fat lot of no help whatsoever. THANKS, LYSA. Grr.

The question, I guess (well, one of many, but this is the one that occurs to me) is whether the Greyjoys will be able to keep what they take in the long term. I’m sure they’re super-great at the whole smash-and-grab raiding shtick like the good little pseudo-Vikings they are, but digging in and holding a fortified position? Hmm.

 

Chapter 25: Tyrion

What Happens
Tyrion enters Cersei’s quarters and trades barbs with his cousin Ser Lancel before kicking him out to speak with Cersei privately. Cersei hopes that he’s not here to complain that she sent Vylarr to throw the mad prophets in jail for slandering the Lannisters when he wouldn’t, but Tyrion tells her no, he’s there to tell her Stannis has sailed from Dragonstone. Cersei panics, but Tyrion starts laughing and tells her he’s attacking Renly at Storm’s End, not King’s Landing. Cersei is stunned, then gleeful, and she and Tyrion share a moment of camaraderie. Tyrion invites her to share a celebratory cup of wine with him, and doctors her cup when she’s not looking.

The next day Tyrion receives word that Cersei is too ill to attend audiences, and Tyrion graciously agrees to handle Ser Cleos without her. In the great hall, Tyrion and the Council inform Ser Cleos that Robb Stark’s terms are unacceptable, and Tyrion lays out the counter-proposal: Robb must swear fealty, return to Winterfell, send hostages from each of his bannermen, free Jaime, and give him the Stark host to lead against Renly and Stannis. Cleos points out that Stark will never accept those terms, which Tyrion knows perfectly well. Tyrion says to tell Robb that they have raised another great host at Casterly Rock to pin him between that and Tywin’s forces to his east, and that they have forged an alliance with Dorne by the betrothal of Trystane Martell to the Princess Myrcella, but he will send Eddard Stark’s bones back with Cleos as a gesture of good faith. He refuses to send either the Stark sisters or Ned’s sword Ice, though, and privately prays Arya is found before Robb finds out she is missing. Then Tyrion declares that as Cleos is his cousin, he ought to be escorted by Lannister guardsmen, and commands Vylarr to take his entire company with Cleos when he goes. Pycelle gasps and protests that they cannot strip all of the Lannister guard from the queen, but Tyrion overrides him.

Alliser Thorne then pushes forward, demanding to be heard, and Tyrion feigns amazement that he is in town. Thorne sourly tells Tyrion of the two rangers who rose from the dead to kill one of the Watch and almost the Lord Commander as well. Tyrion remembers uneasily the night he had stood on the Wall with Jon Snow and felt that there was something uncanny beyond it, but he is more concerned that he will become a laughingstock if he takes Thorne’s claim seriously. When Thorne confesses that the proof he’d brought (one of the dead men’s hands) had rotted away, Tyrion quickly makes a mockery of him and dismisses him, though he also arranges to spread rumors among the starving cityfolk that there’s food to be had on the Wall if they join the Watch. Thorne tells him he is a fool, and Tyrion has him escorted out.

Afterward, Varys and Littlefinger come up to congratulate Tyrion on his deft maneuvering, though Littlefinger points out that Cersei will never allow all the Lannister guards to be sent away. Tyrion disagrees. Littlefinger then complains that Tyrion lied to him about Myrcella wedding Robert Arryn, for which Tyrion apologizes. Littlefinger leaves in a huff, and Tyrion tells Varys to convince Cersei all the Lannister guards are needed to camouflage his scheme to free Jaime.

Varys stroked a powdered cheek. “This would doubtless involve the four men your man Bronn searched for so diligently in all the low places of King’s Landing. A thief, a poisoner, a mummer, and a murderer.”

Tyrion says four men among a hundred are easy to miss, aren’t they? That evening, Tyrion takes Timett and Shagga to Pycelle’s chambers, kicking in the door and catching him with a serving girl. They kick her out, and Tyrion informs Pycelle that he knows he has been spying on Tyrion for Cersei. Pycelle protests that it was Varys.

“Do all maesters lie so poorly? I told Varys that I was giving Prince Doran my nephew Tommen to foster. I told Littlefinger that I planned to wed Myrcella to Lord Robert of the Eyrie. I told no one that I had offered Myrcella to the Dornish . . . that truth was only in the letter I entrusted to you.”

Tyrion has Shagga terrorize Pycelle until he confesses. Pycelle squeals that everything he did was for House Lannister, and confesses that he also convinced Aerys to open the gates during the Sack of King’s Landing, which shocks Tyrion. He asks how many Pycelle has betrayed, and Pycelle admits that he would have helped Robert die if it had been necessary, to prevent him from setting Cersei aside. He also admits to having sent Lord Arryn’s maester away, though he insists he was not the one who poisoned Arryn; he thinks it was the squire, Hugh. Disgusted, Tyrion orders him thrown in the dungeons. Once alone, Tyrion reflects that he had hoped it was one of the other two to turn out to be the traitor, not Pycelle, though he suspects it is just that Littlefinger and Varys are more subtle than Pycelle, not more loyal.

Perhaps his father’s way would have been best: summon Ilyn Payne, mount three heads above the gates, and have done. And wouldn’t that be a pretty sight, he thought.

Commentary
Well, well, well. Pycelle, you little scamp.

Okay, so the first thing that becomes very clear is that I had at least partially missed the significance of what Tyrion was doing earlier, which was laying a trap to see which of the Councilors Three was going to stab him in the back. I mean, I got that part, but I think I sort of misunderstood the part where the things he told each of them were mutually exclusive of each other. And also that the only proposal that was actually sent to anyone was the one about Myrcella marrying into the Martells. So all that makes much more sense now, whew.

And, so, clever Tyrion. Well-played indeed.

Though I definitely also agree with him that it’s not like he’s actually solved all his potential traitor problems as long as Littlefinger and Varys are around. But then, he would likely have the same problem with just about anyone he promoted, so I guess it’s a matter of picking the devil you know, right?

That said, I would like to believe that Varys, at least, may have gained enough respect for Tyrion by this point that he might actually decide to stay loyal. Littlefinger, though, is a weasel’s weasel and I wouldn’t trust him any further than I could throw that giant chain Tyrion’s having made.

But back to Pycelle: Wow. Dude’s got Olympic gold in backstabbing, doesn’t he? All the way back to Aerys, man. How do people like him sleep at night? I just can’t fathom it, man.

And still with the shroud of mystery over who exactly poisoned Jon Arryn! Jeez, does it even matter at this point? Is this going to be a “Who Killed Asmodean” thing, where we’re not going to find out whodunit until the glossary of the last book? [Note: Wheel of Time reference, don’t worry about it if you haven’t read ‘em.]

Also, kudos to Tyrion over his little mini-coup over Cersei, getting rid of her protection in one swell foop! Very slick. Although wow, I really thought for a second that Tyrion was actually going to poison Cersei. Instead he just gave her the runs, ha ha.

And you know… I really don’t care for Cersei, at ALL, but I’m glad Tyrion didn’t kill her. Partly because that would have been too easy an exit for such a formidable opponent, but mostly because I think it would have represented a bit of a Moral Event Horizon for Tyrion, and I’d really rather he not cross any of those. [Warning: link is also a Free Time Event Horizon. Click at your own risk.]

Of course, considering what series I’m reading, I’m probably shit out of luck on that wish, but hell, I’ll even take a delay of the MEHs, okay?

So, also kudos on the lack of sororicide. But NO kudos to Tyrion for ignoring Thorne. Bad, bad Tyrion! Now everyone continues to be completely unprepared for the Frozen Northern Menace that’s so a-coming their way! Grumble.

And what’s worse, really, is that Tyrion lets his own insecurities dictate his response there: not being laughed at was more important than knowing the truth, and that is a recipe for disaster, ultimately. Not that I can entirely blame him for feeling that way, but it is a weakness, and it is a weakness that is eventually going to cost him. This I Foretell.

And last but definitely not least: “a thief, a poisoner, a mummer, and a murderer,” eh?

JAILBREAK!

At least that had better be what they’re for. Not that I want to see Jaime free, particularly, but if it turns out that Tyrion’s trying to assassinate Robb instead, he and I are going to have words, because that is NOT COOL. You are about my favorite character up in this thang, Tyrion, do not make me hate you, pretty please!


All right, that’s enough outta me. Have a weekend, iffn you please, and even iffn you don’t please, really, and I’ll see you next time!

35 comments
z drake cupsford
1. zdrakec
Thanks Leigh for yet another great post!
Chin Bawambi
2. bawambi
Great post as usual. It is interesting to see a new reader's first impressions.
Carolyn h
3. Carolyn h
Theon and Asha - Eeeewww. But when you think about it, that whole incest thing might sound worse to us than to the residents of Westeros. I mean, we have Jaime and Cersei, Danerys and Viserys and now Theon and Asha. Yes, it's awful but those Westereans seem not to notice so much.

I totally dislike Theon but in this chapter I can't help but feel sorry for him. His family is terrible. What does surprise me a little is that as a 9-year old, Theon apparently wasn't aware of any of this awfulness. He's been so Starkerized that he thought just showing up as the long-lost brother would be enough to put him back in the family's good graces. Still, you have to wonder what his early days as a Stark house captive were like. He must have been a little heathen in their eyes. Given his background, it's kind of surprising that he ever learned to fit in there.

And then we have the Tyrion chapter, where Tyrion once again proves he's the smartest person in the land. He lays and trap and catches the prey. Sometimes I wonder if he isn't too smart for his own good, but you can't help but admire him
Carolyn h
4. Jeff R.
Surprised there wasn't direct comment on the topper of the "cut off his manhood and feed it to the goats" running gag...unless Leigh missed it...
Sanctume Spiritstone
5. Sanctume
And last but definitely not least: “a thief, a poisoner, a mummer, and a murderer,” eh?
My first impression of this was the Council: Little Finger, Pycelle, Varys, and Cercei!
Carolyn h
6. sofrina
@3 - But when you think about it, that whole incest thing might sound worse to us than to the residents of Westeros. I mean, we have Jaime and Cersei, Danerys and Viserys and now Theon and Asha. Yes, it's awful but those Westereans seem not to notice so much.

untrue. incest is a serious taboo in westeros. the targaryen's got a pass as they were foreign conquerers with dragons. jaime and cersei are willing to kill children to keep their secret.

the thing about theon is that he is an isolated character. no one can relate to his point of view. the starks treated him right as per his status as a high lord's son and heir, but he was a hostage at the end of the day. he was not fostering at winterfell as a squire. his parents didn't send him away. he was taken. now, he's been away so long his family don't know him and can't trust him. he's learned the ways of the mainlanders and forgotten the ways of his own bleak country. and there is no one in his life who can appreciate where this has left theon. he doesn't really belong anywhere. even he only just realized it.
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
Leigh - well done on the Theon post. Very entertaining. I loved the Asha introduction in this chapter and you did her justice. And, boy, it really stinks to be Theon. Not accepted by his family, and being forced to go north and harry the Starks lands north of the Neck - and perhaps even run into an old buddy or two from his days as Robb's right hand guy. Yikes. And restraint is clearly not going to win him any favors with Dad, Uncles or Sis.

Now, with Balon, Robb, Joffrey, Stannis and Renly in the field (and Dany in Essos and even Mance Rayder north of the Wall) you get fully why this is called ACOK.

Re Tyrion, also nice job but you didn't quote the best line of the Chapter ... Cersei's line "I'm beginning to think that Robert was the smart one" - a top ten line for the entire series, especially when followed by Tyrion's observation that he could finally see what Jaime must see in her. Of course, then he poisons her. So much for that.

Not going to answer the "Asmo" question *whistles* (psst - pretty close to the mark, Leigh - don't tell anyone).

And you're a bit tough on Tyrion re Thorne. Yes, he makes fun of him publicly but he also makes sure that lots of folk to accompany him back to the Wall - which is what Thorne came from and is in the best interest of the realm. So a win/win for Tyrion as far as I am concerned.
Carolyn h
8. edsmedia
Since you added that breakquote from Mel Brooks in the RSS feed, I thought I'd contribute Eminem (as Slim Shady)'s thoughts on the matter:

Will Smith doesn't have to cuss in his rhymes to sell records? Well, I do--so fuck him, and fuck you too.
Carolyn h
9. ftbleighjkjk
It was a stroke of genius for Martin to give us a likable character in Tyrion; it makes us invested somewhat in both sides of the Starks V. Lannisters debacle.
And Theon's always been a favorite character of mine and I hate his family so much. Except Asha who is complex in motive and devious in action. Gross or no (and yeah, gross), she played him like a fiddle.
Matthew B
10. MatthewB
The Greyjoys are a nasty lot, but their treatment of Theon is, if not justifiable, at least understandable. He's a reminder of their utter failure however many years ago. Having him back just as they are set to take another stab at carving out their independence might not be viewed as a good omen, especially considering what an ass he's making of himself.
Rob Munnelly
11. RobMRobM
By the way, it should be noted - this chapter proves that Catelyn was entirely right in telling Robb not to send Theon to treat with his family. With his son no longer a Stark hostage, Balon can let loose on the most attractive Westeros targets - which happen to be Stark controlled land. Epic fail for Robb. Cry havoc and let slip the krakens of war!
Carolyn h
12. Lsana
One thing that always bothered me about Tyrion's plan here was that it really could only work if Pycelle was the traitor. What would he have learned if Cercei came to him screaming about marrying Myrcella to Robert Arryn? Both Varys and Littlefinger "knew" about that plan. For that matter, if Cercei had talked about sending Tommen to Dorne as a hostage, Tyrion could have suspected Varys, but he really couldn't have been certain someone else didn't eavesdrop on their conversation.

I still loath Theon. I feel sorry for him, and I understand why he has turned out as the utter douche that he has, but that doesn't change the fact that he's an utter douche.
Carolyn h
13. ryamano
I don't know if Balon would've been stopped by the fact his son was still a hostage of the Starks. He doesn't seem to care at all about what happens to Theon now. Theon saw the ships being gathered for war when he came to Pyke, and it seemed his father had called them (and had planned this) before he knew Theon would arrive. Remember also that there were no replies to the ravens Theon and Robb sent.
Eli Bishop
14. EliBishop
@12: What would he have learned if Cercei came to him screaming about marrying Myrcella to Robert Arryn? Both Varys and Littlefinger "knew" about that plan.

If she's only complaining about Myrcella, then she heard it from Littlefinger. Tyrion also gave Varys an additional fake plan-- sending Tommen away-- which Cersei would've screamed about even more if she'd heard it.

For that matter, if Cercei had talked about sending Tommen to Dorne as a hostage, Tyrion could have suspected Varys, but he really couldn't have been certain someone else didn't eavesdrop on their conversation

If anyone other than Varys has the ability to listen in on private conversations Varys is having, then basically Varys has been beaten at his own job and Tyrion can't rely on anything at all.
Mouette
15. Mouette
Muahahaha, love these two chapters. *Go* Asha, go. She is, indeed, awesome and hilarious, and if she's a little dirty on the way there, well.

As always, awesome on the reread :D
Carolyn h
16. The SmilingKnight
Hahahaha! :strikesfistintheair:

"Asha is either completely awesome or utterly horrifying?"

Completely awesome is the correct answer!
DING!
Oh, as soon as i read the first line and saw what chapter it is i got a huge grin.

hah! This was a good one.
Theon? -whited out- Someone should kick him from that rope bridge as far as im concerned. Kick him in his weasel ass. very hard, to get a proper trajectory.
In order to target the sharpest rocks below.

-onto another chapter ->
Ah yes, the usual in Kinglanding. But how awesome was Ashas lord husband and revealing her baby?

Too awesome. :)
alex
17. jerec84
Love this Theon chapter. Asha is an awesome character and it's good to see Theon humiliated. He really did have it coming.
Carolyn h
18. Faiz
Asha's intro is my favorite chapter in the series, HANDS DOWN.

excellent intro to an excellent character(so to speak)

I saw a shot of them in one of the HBO trailers, I am DYING to know how they play it!
Juliet Kestrel
19. Juliet_Kestrel
I think I would feel more sorry for Theon getting picked on by his own family if he didn’t deserve it so much. I know he is a teenager, but he came back acting like he knows everything there is to know about the world, while making an ass of himself with all his own culture’s customs. Another family might be more understanding, but it isn’t like Theon is being understanding of his family’s perspective either. Of course if everyone sat down and had productive, thoughtful conversations there wouldn’t be much conflict to read about.

I have always pronounced it Tie-rion.

I really wasn’t suspecting the maester being the informant. I am curious about what Cersei is going to when she finds out Tyrion had him thrown in the dungeons.
Dawn Boyall
20. deebee
I loved both these chapters. It`s great to see two characters who are in control of events. Tyrion - you have to wonder how imprisoning Pycelle will go down, while admiring his sheer guts in poisoning Cersei while he takes out her pet spy.

As for Asha- I can remember deciding that Esgred must be Asha until the groping started, then I thought that no author would dare to make a sister behave like that if she knew it was her brother.
But I should have realised that GRRM just doesn`t follow the rules. That`s what makes this series unlike anything else I`ve ever read.
Carolyn h
21. Lsana
@14,

If she's only complaining about Myrcella, then she heard it from
Littlefinger. Tyrion also gave Varys an additional fake plan-- sending
Tommen away-- which Cersei would've screamed about even more if she'd heard it.

Because of course Varys is completely incapable of holding information back for his own purposes. There's no way that he would claim to be working for someone and tell them some of the things he knew but not everything. Oh, wait...

Nope, doesn't work. I might be willing to give you the "Varys can't be evesdropped on" point (though even there, I don't think he assured Tyrion that they could speak frankly or that he and Tyrion were taking any particular steps to be sure they weren't overheard), but at least one branch of Tyrion's "trap" was still rotten. There was nothing Cersei could have said that would have led conclusively to Littlefinger.
Carolyn h
22. The SmilingKnight
Also, people ... please get off blaming Asha for some kind of incestuous intentions or moves, mkay?

She was testing to see how much of an arsehole Theon is. She never desired him at all. She was pulling his... eheh... sword, eh?
(because Tyrion has the chain amirite or amirite? haha... our giant of Lannister, hmpf..)

Asha saw that Theon was a total arsehole to that captains daughter - which he totally was, even if most of you just choose not to pay attention to it. And then she confirmed it - totally.
Not only as a retarded obnoxious misogynist but someone actually incapable of making big decisions or earning his place.
He is a spoiled, arrogant rich brat that never deserved anything he has now or he got in past by his own deeds or competence.
He doesnt have the skill, he doesnt have the knowledge or anything else worth while.
Except ridiculous self-entitlement which fosters resentment and hate to those that help or otherwise do good things for him.

If he stayed on Iron-Islands he would have at least been beaten bloody often, which was the only way to get something through that deranged skull of his.
Being pampered and put in princely position by Starks just made him stay his despicable himself. And resent and hate them in return.

Totally despicable character in every way.
Its so obnoxious to me seeing some readers feeling sorry or like... understanding his "issues".... for the love of seven...
Usually women... which is just.... horrible.
It should be instructing and self introspective inducing... but its not, despite GRRM best efforts from times when he still knew how to write good stuff.
Or, well... rather, times when good stuff was writing through him.

(as for Ramsey... i only hope several direwolves get on him at once or someone goes full Aerys on his ass... though how things are lately going...)
Hero Canton
23. HeroineOfCanton
Gah! Leigh, stop warning me against TV Tropes. Someone should have warned me against Tor.com! Between this and the Rothfuss reread, I haven't gotten anything productive done in a couple weeks.

This is all entirely too much fun.
Eli Bishop
24. EliBishop
@21: Fair point, but I don't understand what benefit Varys could have gained by doing that in this case. What would be the point of concealing half of Tyrion's plan? Cersei would have found out about it fairly soon anyway (if it had been real) and then she'd rightly suspect Varys of having held something back, which would be worse for him than if he'd simply failed to keep an eye on Tyrion's negotiations.
Eli Bishop
25. EliBishop
@22: Yeah, I doubt the Ironborn have less of an incest taboo than the rest of Westeros; they just have different ideas about propriety and humor - that is, Asha can grope Theon because it's obvious (to everyone but him) that she's just making fun of him and couldn't have any sexual interest. We have certain assumptions about stuff people wouldn't do unless they were really trying to get laid, but those aren't universal - just like there are things people can say out loud nowadays that 300 years ago they would never say unless they wanted to get in a fistfight or a duel.
Carolyn h
26. Looking Glass
Theon’s an arrogant little dick. This seems a compromise between the Stark “be proud of not being a dick” and the Greyjoy “be proud of being the biggest dick in the room”.
-

Man, does Tyrion know how to push his sister’s buttons. The question is, does he know how not to push her buttons? (No.)

The one moment when they’ve actually got some sort of fellow-traveler camaraderie going on, and he poisons her and tosses out her supporters? The capitol did need a spring cleaning, and if I had to pick a character in need of a good poisoning then Cersei would be the one*, but this has to be the final nail in any hope of her ever trusting him ever again. That’s certain to end well.


--

Carolyn H @3: I get the impression that incest is pretty squicky even in Westeros- and Asha’s just using that to mess with Theon.

By contrast, the Targaryens deliberately framed themselves as above the laws of gods and men, and at least some appear to have actually believed it. Jaime and Cersei seem to hold a similar attitude about their proper place above society, even if they lack the unquestioned authority to say so openly. (Actually, Tywin seems to be on the Lannister Supremacist train as well, though his stop is somewhere before incest station.)
--

EliBishop @14: I was going to make exactly the same point about Varys being eavesdropped on unawares… then it occured to me
that at least one character has apparently already done exactly that, albeit unintentionally. Not something anyone could reasonably have anticipated, though.
--

Lsana @21: Tyrion set up the best info-trap he really could, given that Varys is listening in on everyone else. It wouldn’t be conclusive- heck, Varys could have set up Pycelle with the information he had- but it would have been suggestive. Tyrion did confront Pycelle and confirm it for sure.

I think Littlefinger (like Varys) is way (way, way) too slippery to be boxed had he been in Pycelle’s place, but even that result would have told Tyrion something. Even if it were only “Pycelle didn’t go to the queen, and Littlefinger and Varys are too devious to call”.
--
Carolyn h
27. Looking Glass
Disaster- my maybe-spoiler in the above post did not white out properly! As a commentor-errant, I cannot edit; I can only pray for an Act of Mod to save me.
Carolyn h
28. Rancho Unicorno
As a reader with knowledge of the issues at the Wall, I agree that Tyrion's decision to let blow off Thorne was a bad idea (even if Thorne deserves it). Ignoring the truth, is always going to hurt you in the end. That Tyrion has: a) Wall experience, b) a forboding Wall experience, and c) the wits that should have made him the one to take this seriously, makes this all the more painful.

As a resident of King's Landing, I'd disagree. Tyrion is in the middle of an attempt to consolidate power in the Hand, stripping the Queen Regent and the boy-who-would-be-King of authority in the process. Anything that might undermine him at this particular moment could be disasterous - playing the Game of Thrones requires manipulating not just the inner circle, but nobles and commoners as well. Losing everybody before the consolidation is set would be, well, bad. Had Thorne cornered him in a quiet moment, he might have been more apt to take the situation a bit more seriously.
Sanctume Spiritstone
29. Sanctume
When Thorne confesses that the proof he’d brought (one of the dead men’s hands) had rotted away,
Either the decapitated body part rots, or when "not in a cold place" will rot the corpse.
Carolyn h
30. Donald Simmons
ryamano@13: I don't know if Balon would've been stopped by the fact his son was still a hostage of the Starks. He doesn't seem to care at all about what happens to Theon now.

He may not think much of Theon, but for these people family and family name is ALL. Tywin certainly doesn't think much of Tyrion but he was willing to essentially start a war with the Stark's over the way Catlyn insulted him by taking Tyrion prisoner. Balon likewise probably couldn't have let anything happen to Theon without looking bad himself.
Brandon Lammers
31. wickedkinetic
I think maybe the text didn't make it abundantly clear, my initial reaction was similar to those in this thread - 'how can he not take the ice-zombie-doom-grunkins seriously! a Tyrion should know better!!!!'

But the book does reference shortly after in Varys' compliments that he played the right part for the audience (laughing at the great white north and scary ice-zombie-hands) while also subtly giving the Watch everything he possibly could, given that he's in a starving city preparing for invasion run by crooked unreliable monsters (most of whom he's related to)

Also - based on this inclusion in the text
"Cersei hopes that he’s not here to complain that she sent Vylarr to
throw the mad prophets in jail for slandering the Lannisters when he
wouldn’t"

I think stripping Cersei of her loyal army is mainly to prevent her from doing other stupid things, punishing the locals instead of focusing on the real problems. its also to ensure she doesn't move against him and send him to the dungeons as she was able to do with the Starks.
Julian Augustus
32. Alisonwonderland
This Tyrion chapter is one of my two very top favorites in the entire series His maneouvering here was simply masterful. As for the line "Shagga, cut off his manhood...." and Pycelle reaction to this dreadful pronouncement, it brings me the chuckles every time, as does Tyrion imagining Cersei glued to the crapper. I admit it, I enjoy it immensely when bad guys get their comeuppance.
Carolyn h
33. The Smilingknight
EliBishop
@22: Yeah, I doubt the Ironborn have less of an incest taboo than the
rest of Westeros; they just have different ideas about propriety and
humor - that is, Asha can grope Theon because it's obvious (to everyone
but him) that she's just making fun of him and couldn't have any sexual
interest.

/

That, yeah. And most didnt even know he is Balons son at all, just some fancy southern lordling. But its mostly that nobody would even consider speaking up to her unless they really want bad things to happen to them. Like getting her husband right in between the eyes. Asha didnt get where she is just by being a daughter of Balon. You can see that all she greats and knows (most of them by name) respond with deference and respect.
In a society like that?

fuuuggedabout it.
Carolyn h
34. phuzz
I'm never sure what to make of Theon. He's certainly had a pretty rough time in the books, and I think the happiest time in his life was probably when he was living with the Starks, as a hostage.

On the other hand, he's an arsehole.


And the idea of Varys and/or Littlefinger being loyal to Tyrion? Only as long as there's something in it for them methinks.
Carolyn h
35. hardstor
Hi Leigh, lovely post.

"This I Foretell."

So I'm guessing either you know you are wrong or you think you'll be wrong? Given Elaida's ability in WoT of foretelling seems to be coupled with the unfortunate side-effect of misinterpreting every single Foretelling she has, your choice of words indicates that you don't think this will happen or you're hedging your bets.

Anyway, we all know that Tyrion is more sensitive to his insecurities than any other character in the series. Whores are his weakness, not his insecurities, just ask him! (...or his father)

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