Apr 13 2012 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 15

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 15 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapters 31 (“Catelyn”) and 32 (“Sansa”).

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

And now, the post!


Scheduling note: As those of you who follow the WOT Re-read blog already know, I will be attending JordanCon 2012 in Atlanta the weekend of April 20th. Therefore, there will be no ASOIAF Read post next Friday. However, although the WOT Re-read is going on hiatus after that, the ASOIAF posts will resume as usual the following Friday (April 27th).



Chapter 31: Catelyn

What Happens
Catelyn is the first to arrive at the place near Storm’s End where Renly and Stannis are to parley. She hopes to convince the brothers to stop fighting each other and ally with Robb against the Lannisters. She reflects on the legend of how the massive fortress of Storm’s End had been built to withstand the wrath of the sea god and the goddess of the wind, as its builder (Durran Godsgrief) had taken the sea god’s daughter Elenei to wife, condemning her to the lifespan of a mortal.

Stannis arrives first, and Catelyn notes that the Baratheon stag on his banner has been shrunken to fit inside a heart wreathed in flames, and his standard bearer is a red priestess, a rarity in the Seven Kingdoms. Stannis greets her and offers stiff condolences on Ned’s death, though he still resents that Eddard was made Hand over Stannis, and promises her justice for his murder. Catelyn replies that she would rather have her daughters back, and “leave justice to the gods.” She asks him why he is here instead of King’s Landing, and Stannis replies that he needs the allegiance of the southron lords, and intends to take them from Renly. Catelyn thinks that Stannis will never bend, but resolves to try anyway.

Renly joins them, looking splendid as usual. He is amused by Stannis’s new banner, and jokes that it will be less confusing on the battlefield. Catelyn interjects that there should be no battle, as they all share a common enemy. Stannis counters that anyone who denies him the Iron Throne is his enemy, and Renly remarks that everyone is his enemy, then, since no one wants him to have it. This angers Stannis, and Catelyn reminds them sharply of the power and position of the Lannisters, but neither of them seem overly concerned with that.

Stannis calls Renly a usurper, and Renly points out that the Targaryens called Robert the same. Exasperated, Catelyn says she wishes she could bang their heads together until they remembered they are brothers. In return, Stannis tells her that Robb is also a traitor, and will be dealt with in due time. Incensed, Catelyn retorts that Stannis is no better, considering Joffrey is heir to Robert before Stannis is.

“Joffrey is not my brother’s seed,” Stannis said bluntly. “Nor is Tommen. They are bastards. The girl as well. All three of them abominations born of incest.”

Would even Cersei be so mad? Catelyn was speechless.

Renly admires the letters Stannis sent out declaring this, but does not believe that the claim is actually true, and Catelyn asks why he did not come forward before. Stannis replies that he brought his suspicions to Jon Arryn, since they would seem self-serving if he went directly to Robert, but Cersei had Arryn poisoned before he could denounce her. Catelyn comments that Lysa believes Cersei killed Jon Arryn, but later accused Tyrion of the crime.

Stannis snorted. “If you step in a nest of snakes, does it matter which one bites you first?”

Renly announces this is all a moot point: even if Stannis has the better claim, Renly has the bigger army. He offers Stannis Storm’s End instead, but Stannis replies that it is his by right already. The brothers continue to trade taunts until Renly implies that Stannis’s daughter was fathered by Patchface, whereupon Stannis flies into a rage and draws his sword Lightbringer, which glows like flame in the sunlight. Catelyn thinks wearily that Cersei must be “laughing herself breathless” over this. Stannis tells Renly furiously that he will give him the night to think it over, but expects his surrender before dawn. Renly laughs and enumerates again his superior numbers, and Stannis resheathes his sword and leaves disdainfully.

As they return to Renly’s camp, Catelyn thinks tiredly that the Baratheons will “drown each other in blood” and leave Robb to face the Lannisters alone. She also thinks that Renly was a fool for hurrying to meet Stannis here with only half his forces, leaving the foot and his supply lines behind. In council with his bannermen, Lord Mathis Rowan urges Renly to let Stannis siege Storm’s End uselessly and move on to King’s Landing, but Lord Randyll Tarly argues that they may be weakened enough by fighting Lannisters to give Stannis the advantage, and Renly happily agrees with Tarly that they should fight Stannis first.

Catelyn says if Renly is set on battle, her purpose here is done, and asks to return to Riverrun. Renly, however, refuses; he wants her to witness “what befalls rebels.” He names which lords shall lead what sections of the army, giving the honor of the van to Ser Loras Tyrell, and orders Brienne to carry the banner with him. Brienne is clearly distressed that she will not be allowed to stay with Renly, and begs to be allowed to arm him for battle at least.

Catelyn heard someone snigger behind her. She loves him, poor thing, she thought sadly. She’d play his squire just to touch him, and never care how great a fool they think her.

Catelyn leaves, accompanied by Ser Robar Royce, who is here even though his older brother and father are pledged to House Arryn, and goes back to her small company. Lucas Blackwood asks if it is true there is to be battle at dawn, and Catelyn confirms it.

“Do we fight or flee?”

“We pray, Lucas,” she answered him. “We pray.”

Oh, boys.

I so feel Catelyn on her frustration here. She so obviously wanted to yell YOU ARE BOTH MORONS at them (and in fact she more or less did), and I can’t find any reason at all to disagree with her.

Nothing like a sibling to know exactly how to press your buttons, eh? The Baratheons as a whole are a real piece of work, but it’s completely scary to realize that of the three brothers, it seems like Robert was the most fit to rule anything. Ye gods, but that’s frightening.

Still, that said, there’s got to be more going on here on Stannis’s side. From the description of Storm’s End, pursuing a siege of such a ridiculously fortressy fortress seems like the height of idiocy even if your little brother’s much larger army wasn’t about to smush you up against it like Playdoh. And while I think Stannis is an idiot, I think he is a very specific kind of idiot: his idiocy is born not of actual stupidity, but of the massive blinders imposed by his rigidity, his intolerance, and his complete inability to compromise in any way. Which is not the kind of idiocy that necessarily applies to straight battle tactics, if you ask me.

Ergo, I think Stannis has something up his sleeve, something that probably rhymes with “Schmelischmandre,” and Renly is in for a nasty surprise come morning.

Not that Renly doesn’t kind of deserve it. Pride goeth, and all that. I like him better than Stannis, but that isn’t saying much; preferring an arrogant, prideful naïf over a ruthless, bigoted zealot is about the textbook example of damning with faint praise.

(I still don’t know, by the way, whether Stannis has genuinely bought into Melisandre’s hocus pocus cultishness by this point, or is still just using it for political/tactical advantage, but if you ask me there’s only a minimal functional difference between an actual zealot and a pretend one. And besides, zealotry certainly doesn’t have to apply only to religion.)

Am I crazy, or does the legend of Elenei sound vaguely like a mashup of The Little Mermaid and Arwen/Aragorn? Just me? Okay then.

Catelyn’s thoughts on Brienne are interesting in light of the recent dust-up over Ashley Judd’s op-ed slapping down the media for speculation on her “puffy face.” The article is really good, and well worth a read in its entirety, but the relevant part for my purposes is this:

The Conversation about women’s bodies exists largely outside of us, while it is also directed at (and marketed to) us, and used to define and control us. The Conversation about women happens everywhere, publicly and privately. We are described and detailed, our faces and bodies analyzed and picked apart, our worth ascertained and ascribed based on the reduction of personhood to simple physical objectification. Our voices, our personhood, our potential, and our accomplishments are regularly minimized and muted.

The applicability of this to Brienne is obvious: the most important part about her is not her formidable accomplishments or her skill or her integrity or her courage or anything else about her as a person, because all of that pales in comparison to the first and primary thing anyone notices, which is that she is ugly, and therefore worthy of ridicule and contempt.

Or pity, if you’re Catelyn, which isn’t much better. As Judd points out in her article, one of the most insidious (and depressing) aspects of misogyny and sexism is how its pervasiveness encourages and rewards not just men but other women to perpetuate it.

Other things:

Again with the Jon Arryn Murder Mystery Of Doom, oy. So, I don’t know if we knew before this that Stannis was the one who brought Arryn’s attention to the incest, but I’m really pretty much over this whole thing, so I don’t really care that much. Though I have to say, for being such a stickler for righteousness and all that, it looks pretty hinky to me that Stannis never said a word about any of it to anyone else, even after Arryn died. You suspected your brother’s wife of incest and murder, and yet never brought it up until after Robert was dead? Uh-huh.

Also, I’m wondering if Renly is not being a little of a devious bastard, putting Loras in the van — i.e. the place he is by far the most likely to get extremely killed. However, I can’t think of any reason why Renly would particularly want Loras killed, so maybe he’s really being serious about it being an honor and all that and I’ve just been trained too well to see an ulterior motive behind everything. Because gee, where could I have gotten that tendency from?


Chapter 32: Sansa

What Happens
Sandor Clegane warns Sansa to dress fast and not keep Joffrey waiting, and then takes her to the archery grounds, where Joffrey has just shot a cat. Ser Dontos (riding a broomstick horse) whispers to her to be brave. Joffrey tells Sansa she is here to answer for her brother’s latest treasons, and ignores her pleas that she had nothing to do with it. Ser Lancel tells her that Robb used “vile sorcery” to wipe out thousands of men under Stafford Lannister’s command in one night using “an army of wargs,” and that his northmen ate the corpses after. Joffrey accuses the Starks of being “unnatural,” and wishes he could shoot her, but that his mother says they will kill Jaime if he does, so he orders Clegane to hit her instead.

Dontos leaps forward, begging to be allowed to beat her instead, and begins to whack her over the head with his “morningstar”, which is a melon on a stick. Sansa blesses Dontos and desperately hopes Joffrey will laugh and let it go, but he does not, and calls for Sers Boros and Meryn to pull Dontos off and beat her for real instead. Boros punches Sansa in the gut and then beats her with the flat of his sword. She screams and cries, and the Hound says “enough,” but Joffrey orders her stripped naked; Boros rips off her bodice, but before it can go any further, Tyrion appears and stops them.

He demands to know what sort of knights beat “helpless maids,” and has Clegane cover her up. He asks Joffrey why he has no regard for the honor of the girl who is to be his queen.

“She has the blood of a wolf.”

“And you have the wits of a goose.”

“You can’t talk to me that way. The king can do as he likes.”

“Aerys Targaryen did as he liked. Has your mother ever told you what happened to him?”

Tyrion tells Joffrey that wanton brutality is no way to earn his people’s love, but Joffrey counters that Mother says “fear is better than love.” Tyrion sighs and orders Bronn and Timett to bring Sansa to the Tower of the Hand. Sansa is dazed and disoriented as she is bathed and tended, and sleeps for a while. When she wakes, she attempts to leave to go to the godswood and beg Ser Dontos to help her escape now, but a woman with a necklace of ears will not allow it. Some time later, Tyrion enters, and Sansa asks if she is his prisoner. Tyrion says she is his guest. Sansa thanks him for his kindness, and Tyrion explains to her that Joffrey was very angry because her brother won a great victory at Oxcross. Sansa is exultant, but only says that her brother is a vile traitor. She asks about the “wargs,” and Tyrion laughs derisively and says he suspects Robb’s direwolf was the only “warg” present, and the rest is wild tales. The only mystery, he says, is how Robb reached Stafford’s forces in the first place, as the Lannister forces at Golden Tooth swear he did not pass them.

He asks what Sansa feels for Joffrey, and though she immediately replies that she loves him deeply, he only says she’s learned to lie well. He tells her that he does not intend for her to marry Joffrey, as no marriage will reconcile Stark and Lannister at this point anyway. He asks her if that is what she wants, and Sansa is torn, wondering if the question is a trap.

“I only want to be loyal.”

“Loyal,” the dwarf mused, “and far from any Lannisters. I can scarce blame you for that. When I was your age, I wanted the same thing.”

Tyrion tells her there will be another battle soon between Robb and Tyrion’s father Tywin which will settle the issue, and reads her well enough to tell her kindly that she shouldn’t hold out much hope, for facing Tywin is not at all like facing Stafford. He suggests she pray that Robb surrenders, for once there is peace Tyrion intends to send Sansa home to Winterfell. He offers her some of the wildlings to guard her, but Sansa is terrified they will interfere with her meetings with Dondos, and refuses. Tyrion accepts this, and offers to guide her back to her rooms.

Oh my GOD how has no one killed Joffrey yet. Seriously, how? I ask you. At this point, to call him a little shit is an insult to good clean excrement.

At least Tyrion has some integrity. (Well, integrity in this particular arena, anyway, heh.) Actually I don’t think it’s so much “integrity” as it is that he possesses more than the bare minimum of fucking humanity, but tomato, tomahto.

I do love that Cersei not only quotes Niccolo Machiavelli pretty much verbatim, she more or less is this world’s Machiavelli. Very apropos, that.

Sansa makes a very astute observation here about the ideal of knightly chivalry:

Knights are sworn to defend the weak, protect women, and fight for the right, but none of them did a thing. Only Ser Dontos had tried to help, and he was no longer a knight, no more than the Imp was, nor the Hound . . . the Hound hated knights . . . I hate them too, Sansa thought. They are no true knights, not one of them.

Yeah, funny how easily that imperative falls by the wayside when power importunes otherwise, isn’t it? Sometimes I feel like this is the core problem with the world. Power (in whatever form) should be used on behalf of those who have none, and it is frankly depressing how frequently the exact opposite is the case.

This, I think, is part of why I so strongly like Tyrion, however questionable his methods, and continue to root for him despite loathing pretty much everyone else on his side in this conflict, because he so clearly gets this irony about power, and in his own way is doing what he can to counteract it. And of course he does, gets it, I mean, because he has been one of those abused by that power. He’s been there, if not in exactly the same way as Sansa, or those people starving in the streets, and he has the basic humanity to not want others to endure what he has.

Perhaps it is impossible to understand unless you have been there in some way, but I would really prefer not to believe that is true across the board. The reason people have the quality of compassion is so that you can walk around in someone else’s shoes and understand their pain without having to do so literally, and people who are incapable of doing this are fundamentally broken, in my opinion.

Pity there seem to be so many of them around, then. And it’s also a pity that as much as I want Sansa to trust Tyrion, I know she shouldn’t, not fully. Which sucks, because if ever a girl could use some more allies, it’s Sansa. Poor darling. At least Dondos tried, for which he gets many kudos from me even if it didn’t work.

“Sorcery is the sauce fools spoon over failure to hide the flavor of their own incompetence.”

Ha ha, I love it. Though Tyrion may find that this sentiment is not as true as he might wish it, eventually…

I’m not sure what to make of the whole “warg” thing, actually. I’m inclined to agree with Tyrion that it’s all exaggeration, despite what I just said above, but then again it does seem odd that Robb managed to get that deep into Lannister territory without anyone noticing. Not impossible, though, so I guess they were just extra-sneaky?

Though honestly, my first thought when Joffrey initially told us about the “wargs” was that it might not have been Robb at all, but that wolf super-pack that’s apparently been wandering around, and who I still secretly hope is being led by Nymeria. Of course, that totally is not what happened, since Tyrion explicitly mentioned names of Robb’s followers who were there, but it was what I thought of at first. Would have been kinda awesome if so, huh?

Well, I might not get my “wargs” this time around, but maybe we’ll get lucky later. Also, “wargs” is a completely hilarious word that makes me giggle. Wargs wargs wargs wargs wargs wargs wargs wargs wargs wargs wargs wargs

…Aaaaaand it’s clearly time to stop. Have a groovy fun weekend, kids. Remember, no post next Friday, but we will return you to your regularly scheduled Read on the 27th, so be excellent to each other until then, and peace out!

jeremiah gaster
1. jer
Just to point out... if one were to read machiavelli closely, and not just the prince, but also the discourses, then there is a whole other side to Mac. then just the vileness credited to him.

He wants the prince to do everything to keep power, but warns them not to upset the populace too much

in the discourses, he says that in fact, the prince should help create a republic and the protection of the people in the republic, which is covert in the prince, becomes the key
2. corejay
You know, Leigh, while Cersei quotes Macchiavelli verbatim, she forgets the second half of that quote:

"It's better to be feared than to be loved... if you cannot be both."

Oh, and I can't believe you still don't get what's up with Renly having Loras lead the van.
Scott Silver
3. hihosilver28
@corejay At this point I didn't understand why Loras continued to have a major role with Renly either. Martin is good at gradually feeding you teeny tidbits of info.

@Leigh I loved your comment about calling Joffrey "a little shit is an insult to good clean excrement". HAHA! Yeah, that's about right.
Rob Munnelly
4. RobMRobM
Two well-crafted but painful chapters. I can't say anything about your predictions for the upcoming Stannis-Renly tussle, so will remain silent. And regarding the second chapter, all I can say is poor Sansa.

P.s. Not to keep coming back to the HBO show, but these chapters are scheduled to be addressed this weekend, along with Tyrion's triple fake out to Varys, Pycelle and LF.
Matthew Hunter
5. matthew1215
Well, let's see.

Stannis and Renly: Both idiots here. Though I think Stannis would not necessarily make an awful king. Not a very friendly one, but his sense of duty would ensure that the realm would be well managed, and his sense of justice would prevent the excesses of cruelty we saw under the Mad King.

Brienne: Still one of my favorite characters.

Catelyn: I don't think her views on Brienne are to her discredit. Her assessment of Brienne's looks is neither wrong nor offensive by virtue of being *accurate* in their society. Brienne's ability to fight on equal grounds with a man gives her a third way, so to speak, but that's not really something Catelyn is primed to appreciate. The pity Brienne gets from Catelyn for her ugliness is no worse than the pity Sam gets from Jon for his cowardice, and both Sam and Brienne will hopefully find ways to be successful in the things that matter to them.
6. cisko
@corejay, @hihosilver: Frankly, I didn't understand the Loras / Renly situation until Season 1 of the HBO series, despite 2 or 3 reads of the book. GRRM is amazing (and amazingly infuriating, sometimes) about not revealing anything that the POV characters don't experience directly. I for one had a hard time putting together the details/hints that were revealed to different people at different times.
7. Seamus1602

I would agree with re: Stannis as a servicable king, except for the presence of Melissandre. I believe that her presence makes him very susceptible to 'excesses of cruelty' towards any non-believers.
8. Elen
Stannis didn't tell anyone else because there was no one within his reach whom he could trust and would believe him, AND whom Robert would trust. Jon Arryn was the only one in Stannis' mind who fit the bill.
9. Xtrafresh
One thing that I really took out of the "Stannis-Renly Parley" chapter is that neither of them has any high regards for Robb, and less so for King Robb. Somehow, up to this point, the narrative has been lulling me into seeing the Lannisters as the Bad Guys, the Starks as the Good Guys, and both the Baratheon kings as the Grey Guys that inevitably will join either side.
Stannis here shows all the signs of becoming a pretty evil overlord in his own right, and Renly... i don't know, somehow he seems a bit bland to me.

Ofcourse one of the major themes of ASOIAF seems to be just that: there is no good or evil, just different shades of grey. I get a feeling that the whole Stark vs. Lannister setup was just a rug to be pulled out from under me, and soon Cersei will be the Loving Mother, Tyrion the Benevolent Ruler and Jamie the Noble Knight... ok, maybe not Jamie. Still, it's not a big stretch of the imagination to ascribe the roving, plundering and raping horde trope to Robb's army now. I assume they'll be doing their own bit of raping too, it seems to be so normalised in ALL other cultures that we meet in the lovely Westeros, i can hardly imagine the northmen to be very different, just because they ride under a Lightside Stark banner.
Joe Vondracek
10. joev
Also, I’m wondering if Renly is not being a little of a devious bastard, putting Loras in the van — i.e. the place he is by far the most likely to get extremely killed.
Ah, but these are the Knights of Summer, born for glory, and thoughts of their own death or maiming do not enter into the equation. They play at war, and thus leading the charge is not seen as the career-ending position that it usual is.
Sydo Zandstra
11. Fiddler
Also, I’m wondering if Renly is not being a little of a devious bastard, putting Loras in the van — i.e. the place he is by far the most likely to get extremely killed. However, I can’t think of any reason why Renly would particularly want Loras killed, so maybe he’s really being serious about it being an honor and all that and I’ve just been trained too well to see an ulterior motive behind everything. Because gee, where could I have gotten that tendency from?

Leigh, you are wise not watching the HBO series yet, because it's more obvious there than in the books...
12. Helen_Joan
joev@10 - well put

(I kinda wish there was a "like" funtion, so lurkers like me could just hit that instead of having to comment)
Sky Thibedeau
13. SkylarkThibedeau
Brienne is my favorite character. She puts up with so much crap but in the end is the only Honorable Knight in the Realm as far as we know.
14. corgidwarfdog

While I agree that Catelyn's views on Brienne are not to her discredit, I felt that the pity derived mostly from how Brienne's love for Renly seems doomed to be unrequited and how much pain that would be the likely ultimate result.

I continue to enjoy Leigh's posts/reactions and everyone's comments.
15. Timotheus
I believe the Renly/Loras angle some commenters are mentioning was injected into the show, and wasn't a part of the books.
16. ryamano
@15 Timotheus

You're wrong. If you want to argue, I can point several bits in the spoiler thread in the forum that show how it's revealed. Also, word of God (meaning GRRM) says that it is so.

@ Leigh

I think you're being too unfair to Renly when you say that Robert was the best candidate for king. What faults does Renly have? Basically he's arrogant. That's it. It's said that most great leaders have a lot of ego (I think you'd agree with me on that). Renly is charismatic (the people love him, as could be seen in the Hand's tournament in book 1), knows how to battle (this is important in a medieval setting, mainly due to the culture of the place, people want kings who are warriors) and how to play the Game of Thrones (he got 100,000 soldiers to back him by marrying the right girl, more than any other claimant. He also knew that he should flee from Cersei instantly after Robert died, unlike Ned. And so on). I fail to see any faults beside arrogance, and I agree with him: he'd make the better king out of all the options (Stannis, Balon, Joffrey, Robb, etc).
Mari Ness
17. MariCats
@Timotheus - George RR Martin has confirmed that the Renly/Loras angle mentioned here is part of the books.
18. Zeynep
wargs wargs wargs.

You're right, that's kind of fun.

(Substantial comment, this is not. But it's very late on a Friday. And I love your musings on power and required uses thereof, but you've already said it all, up to and including why Tyrion probably gets it, so...)
Stefan Mitev
19. Bergmaniac
Both Stannis and Renly would be much better kings than Robert. Of course, this doesn't say much, since Robert was a complete idiot who didn't have a clue what the hell he was doing as a king and didn't even try to govern most of the time.

Anyway, Cat is awesome here as usual. Too bad the Baratheon fools were not listening to her.

Poor Sansa. I think Leigh gives Tyrion a bit too much credit for his compassion to those lacking power. He's capable of it in some rare cases, for sure (mostly highborn like Jon and Sansa), but most of the time he doesn't give a damn about the smallfolk and is allowing the clansmen to kill people in KL and go unpunished because this was convenient for him.
20. Evan R
Right after Machiavelli says it's better to be feared than loved, he says it's necessary to avoid being hated....guess Cersei and Joffrey stopped reading before that. A lot of real-world rulers too.

Tyrion is trying to keep the city from being sacked...on the other hand, he unleashed the clans on the Vale and everybody else, probably a fair number of burned villages there. His moments of humanity are a bit spotty, but at least he has some.
Rob Munnelly
21. RobMRobM
I don't recall the Vale Clans being described as being out of control in KL. I remember someone who a clan guy killed because the person was trying to cheat the clan guy, so was justified. Is there textual support for Clan mayhem? I don't have book (gave them to my brother to read).

I don't recall Tyrion doing much overt harm to smallfolk at any point. Am I forgetting something? He's a quantam improvement over the other Lannisters.

Re Renly - I see him as flawed. He knows he should support Stannis for King and it would happen. He also knows that with only a sickly girl child, Stannis is virtually certain to pass on thrones to Renly afterwards. I believe even Stannis was willing to promise this. Teaming up with his brother would nearly ensure the crown, yet selfishly, he pursues a claim with no color of legal basis, irrespective of consequences. Donal Foye had it right up at the Wall in AGOT- Renly was a copper penny - looks pretty but lacks substance. Consider me not impressed.
22. Zenspinner
When I saw the HBO show I thought the R/L thing was out of the blue too...but when I went back and looked for it, I found GRRM had done everything but a tap dance to make it obvious. The biggest "duh" moment I had was when I remembered how he outfitted his Kingsguard. (Of course that particular symbol has a different meaning in this world, but being that GRRM said he put the Three Stooges into the first book, I'm sure his sense of humor allowed for both meanings.)
23. Cheem
I'd rate Tyrion as the one guy in KL right now who has the Machiavelli bit right. The people don't love him, they never would... he's a dwarf and an ugly one at that (notwithstanding Dinklage). Let them fear him. But not making it so that they're so hated they're all lynched. We don't get much measure aside from Tyrion's PoV at how successful he is, but he's clearly not very successful with Sansa here...
24. Lsana

I see the main flaw in Renly's argument that he'd make a great king the mere fact that he's making it. Taking the throne just because he can sets a horrible precident. And yes, you can argue that Robert is the one who started it, but Robert's reasons for his rebellion were a lot better than Renly's here, and at the end of Robert's rebellion, the person with the strongest claim other than Aerys and his children was the one who took the throne. They at least made an effort to try for some dynastic stability. Renly's throwing that all out the window.

I also don't see anything Renly's done as evidence that he'd be a better king than Robert. He assembled an army and married the right girl to make his alliances? Robert did that. Robert also didn't make nearly the stupid tactical decisions that Renly's making here.


As far as the Vale clans go, we've pretty much only got Tyrion's perspective. Tyrion's perspective says the guy Timmett killed deserved what he got. Everyone else's perspective may be different, and indeed the fact that both Varys and Bronn felt the need to bring it up suggests that it is. After Tyrion laughed off the first incident, however, they may have decided there was no point in telling him about other incidents.
Matthew Hunter
25. matthew1215
@24: I think Tyrion is being knowingly cynical about the vale clans. He knows they are, if not out of control, at least much less civilized than the environment they are in. He's deliberately giving them minor immunity for acting according to their (excessively violent by KL standards) code of conduct in order to preserve their loyalty and usefulness to him as a fighting force. He might consider doing something about an unprovoked mass murder, but "He cheated me at cards so I killed him" isn't even on his radar screen when compared to their usefulness to him.
Stefan Mitev
26. Bergmaniac
Renly at least attended the meetings of the small council, unlike Robert, who was too busy whoring and drinking. This for me shows he'd likely be a better King.
Juliet Kestrel
27. Juliet_Kestrel
I believe the metal analogy of the three brothers is a good one. Maybe King Rob wasn’t exactly the highest quality of steel, but a shotty steel sword is better than a copper or an iron one any day. One shatters, the other bends.

Sure the copper sword attended the meetings (part of his showiness?) but what did he actually DO on the council? Obviously not curb King Rob’s excesses.

Also both the Iron and the Copper swords got out of town when things went hinkey with Lannisters, but at different levels of hinkey I guess. Jon and Ned were the ones that missed that cue.
28. David B
A shame you're not going to be posting next week...we're coming up on some meaty chapters. Shit's getting real, real soon now.

And as for the mountain clans, I don't think that fact has been revealed just yet - might want to re-check things before you go talking about them, as that would definitely fall into the "inadvertent disclaimer" category - even though it may or may not be a big deal. (Disclaimer: I could be wrong.)
29. DougL
Umm, the Prince was a satire. Mac hated authority, princes and all the rest. I guess the idea of looking at a body of work to assess someone's beliefs is no longer en vogue.

On another note, I love reading your stuff Leigh.
30. Dolphineus
Power ... the discussion between Varys and Tyrion from last nights episode is a must watch!

Thanks Leigh for the link to the Ashley Judd article. Loved it, couldn't agree more. Shared/posted.

Not sure if spoilerific ...
Pretty sure The Hound has previously refused to beat Sansa. Nice save attempt by Dontos anyway.
31. a1ay
I must admit that one of the enjoyable aspects of the books is that they are a doorstop heroic fantasy series in which one of the characters keeps on falling flat on her face and suffering horrible things because she has, essentially, read far too many doorstop heroic fantasy series and takes them all far too seriously.
Sansa is the reader standin who keeps thinking "Well, obviously Ned is the Heroic Pillar of Moral Rectitude and so will probably be the series hero and end up saving the kingdOH MY GOD!"
32. David B
In honor of A Re-Read of Ice and Fire being on hiatus this week, I'm going back and doing a Re-Read of a Re-Read of A Song of Ice and Fire - back to the first chapter of the first book.

Peter Stone
33. Peter1742
Speaking of Macchiavelli, I just realized that there's a quote from A Dance with Dragons that references Macchiavelli. Minor spoilers:

From the end of the chapter on the Sorrows; Tyrion's point of view.
"I'll haunt the Seven Kingdoms, he thought... They would not love me living, so let them dread me dead."

(Revised to fix spoiler formatting. I don't understand how this software works.)
34. Redwoody
Hmm... No update today?
35. owleyes
^I was wondering the same thing! Bummer, man. This is what I look forward to on Fridays, haha!
36. Methidextrose
I feel lied to.
38. EvilClosetMonkey
I am now a Sad Panda
39. Krissykat1006
Awwwww Man!!! I love ending my Fridays with her reads....very sad panda indeed!! JordanCon 2012 must have really dont her in.
40. bummerdude
Let's hope the WOT re-read begins on schedule, I'm so read to get into TOM. Hopefully a certain blogger isn't tardy for the party on that one... :\
Rob Munnelly
41. RobMRobM
I'm disappointed but if you read Leigh's "Bloggening" posts from the WoT convention at Jordancom, she'll likely need to sleep for days to recover. I'd rather get her at her best than one with an oosquai hangover.

Irene Gallo
42. Irene
Hey guys,

Leigh handed in the post on time. We screwed up. We have spent the past two days wrestling with's engineering and let a few things get by us.

My apologies to you guys and to Leigh, who does a tremendous amount of work for us each and every week. We'll publish her post on Monday and get back on track.
Leigh Butler
43. leighdb
Hey guys,

Sorry, I didn't realize the post hadn't gone up as scheduled. Please rest assured that I would have let you guys know ahead of time if I had had to cancel or delay on my end. I wouldn't have just left you hanging, I swear!

But no worries. Irene et al have been dealing with some super-crazy technical problems, from what I understand, and things like this inevitably happen from time to time. No harm, no foul. So check back on Monday, mmkay?
44. David B
As punishment for spoiling our fun, I'm going to post an open spoiler:
"Winter is coming."

Couldn't resist. Sorry folks, keep up the good work.
45. Shane B
I have become way too dependent on this weekly read you are doing. It has become one of the highlights of my week. I'm not really sure how I feel about that... Either way thank you Leigh for the great reads, looking foward to the new post.
46. Paul T
Why would a reader think Stannis is an idiot at this point (or any point)?

We've read Lord Tywin, and Tyrion, and Robb's bannermen, and others whose intelligence and judgment we respect, talk of him as the most formidable of all the contenders, and the man truly to be feared. This despite his having vastly inferior numbers to everyone. We've been told he figured out the incest plot all on his own, before anyone else. Stannis seems very smart.

If you just meant he comes off as stupid in this chapter, well, few people seem very intelligent while feuding bitterly in public with an obnoxious sibling. And you can't judge his military decisions until you have all the information.
47. Paul T
Which is to say - what compromise in particular would you have had him make? Take his OWN castle as a bribe to let his little brother usurp the throne over him? There was no compromise possible here, and it's not because of Stannis's rigidity - it's because Renly is kind of a monster. He didn't really offer terms. Stannis actually did offer terms - and fairly generous ones, all things considered.

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