Fri
Jul 20 2012 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 27

Welcome 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 27 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapters 55 (“Catelyn”) and 56 (“Theon”).

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 55: Catelyn

What Happens
Catelyn eats alone with Brienne, while the rest of Riverrun celebrates Edmure and Robb’s victories. She thinks that she has become “a creature of grief and dust and bitter longings,” and tries to encourage Brienne to leave her alone. When Brienne demurs, Catelyn finds herself telling Brienne about the message from Ser Rodrik, which only she and Maester Vyman know about as yet, that says Bran and Rickon tried to escape from Winterfell only to be caught, and that Theon Greyjoy has mounted their heads on the wall.

Brienne is horrified, and tries to comfort Catelyn that her sons are with the gods now. Catelyn retorts that no gods would let such a thing happen. She talks of Sansa and Arya, and how she despairs of their lives as well, if they are not already dead. She says Robb will avenge his brothers, and wishes she could be the one to execute Theon instead. Then she tells Brienne she has sent Jaime Lannister a flagon of wine, and asks her to come with Catelyn to see him at midnight.

She goes to sit with her father in the interim, and though he is in a drugged sleep she tells him that winter has come “for me. For me,” and now Robb must fight the Greyjoys as well as the Lannisters, and she just wants it all to end and to have her children back. At length, Brienne interrupts her grief to tell her midnight has arrived.

Catelyn goes to the dungeon where Jaime is being kept, overruling the gaoler when he tries to stop her and sending him away. Jaime’s cell is foul and dank, and he is not much better, but she notes that even so his “power and beauty” are still apparent. She assures him the wine, which he has not touched, is not tainted, but Jaime is skeptical. He remarks that she looks “terrible,” and asks if she’s come to add more chains. She reminds him that he repaid the better accommodations they originally gave him with an escape attempt. He propositions her crudely, and Catelyn tells him his crimes have earned him “torment in the deepest of the seven hells” from the gods. Jaime laughs and asks what gods.

“If there are gods, why is the world so full of pain and injustice?”

“Because of men like you.”

“There are no men like me. There’s only me.”

Catelyn thinks him arrogant and mad, and goes to leave, but Jaime calls her back, saying he will answer her questions if she answers his. He begins drinking the wine. Catelyn asks if he is Joffrey’s father, and Jaime shrugs and says he is likely the father of all Cersei’s children. He asks whether his father, Tyrion and Cersei are alive, and Catelyn confirms they are. She asks him how Bran fell, and Jaime answers that he flung him from a window. Catelyn wants to kill him, but reminds herself of her daughters.

Instead she accuses him of trying to assassinate Bran after, when his first attempt didn’t work, but Jaime swears that he had nothing to do with it. He also declares that he would know if Cersei had been behind it, and denies that Tyrion could be culpable either. Catelyn tells him about the dagger, and how Tyrion won it from Petyr Baelish, but Jaime remembers the tournament and counters that Robert showed the dagger to Jaime later that evening. Catelyn is disturbed that Jaime’s story matches what Tyrion had told her, and Petyr’s story does not.

Jaime asks about Robert’s brothers, and Catelyn reluctantly confirms that Stannis marches against King’s Landing, while Renly was murdered by his brother at Bitterbridge, through “some black art.” He asks what side the Tyrells have taken, but now that Renly is dead Catelyn is not sure. She also tells him Robb has taken the Crag from the Westerlings, and that he will defeat Jaime’s father as well as he did Jaime. Jaime denounces Robb’s victory as “a craven’s trick,” which Catelyn finds rich, considering the trick Tyrion pulled to try to spring Jaime. Jaime points out that Tyrion knows Robb will never ransom Jaime.

Catelyn asks how he could have forsworn every oath he took, and Jaime, drunk by now, tells her the story of how Ned’s father Rickard and brother Brandon really died at King Aerys’s hands. Catelyn had known that he had had Brandon strangled in front of Lord Rickard before killing him too, but Jaime’s version of events is far more gruesome and cruel. Catelyn is appalled by the story, but scoffs at the idea that Jaime killed Aerys to avenge Brandon Stark. Jaime counters he makes no such claim, but comments that he finds it odd that he is so reviled for his “finest act,” which was killing Aerys.

Thoroughly drunk now, he muses that he won’t fuck her after all, since Littlefinger had her first, and comments that he’s never lain with any woman other than Cersei, which makes him truer than her Ned ever was. He asks the name of the bastard Ned fathered, and Catelyn calls for Brienne.

“Snow, that was the one. Such a white name… like the pretty cloaks they give us in the Kingsguard when we swear our pretty oaths.”

Brienne pushed open the door and stepped inside the cell. “You called, my lady?”

“Give me your sword.” Catelyn held out her hand.

Commentary
Okay, so I had a serious fight with myself to keep from going on to the next chapter before writing the commentary to this one, because whoa.

Not that the next chapter is actually going to pick up there, of course, because that is not how Mr. Martin rolls re: narrative structure. And also, not that I think Catelyn’s actually going to kill him, because the reintroduction of Jaime to the main narrative has been hanging fire way too long to have it be reduced to one chapter of drunken taunting before he gets a sword through him, but right now I wouldn’t be too terribly upset if that were the case, because my God, what a horrible human being he is.

The supposedly mitigating implication here for the Kingslayer thing – that Aerys was a monster – is all well and good, but I don’t believe for a moment that that was Jaime’s sole or even his main motivation in assassinating the man. Though honestly, if that had been the worst thing he’d done, I’d probably not have much more problem with Jaime as a character than I do with 95% of all the other characters in this series, almost none of whom can claim to be shining paragons of… well, anything. I’m not in favor of political assassinations as a general rule, but it’s pretty hard to be sorry that a guy who slow-cooks people in their armor while strangling their sons in front of them for kicks is no longer ruling the country. It is perhaps ironic that this particular regicide strikes me as being fairly far down the scale of “acts of dubious morality” we’ve got going in this story,

No, what I still can’t get past is what Jaime did to Bran. Every time I think about it I get horrified all over again. If that makes me biased so be it; it’s my Read and if I want to hate characters who throw innocent children out of windows I’m allowed, dammit. It’s a dealbreaker as far as I am concerned, and I continue to be apprehensive about my suspicion that the story is going to try to make me like Jaime anyway. Bah.

Also, still don’t believe Bran and Rickon are dead. The distinct lack of mention of the fate of the boys’ wolves in the letter makes me highly skeptical of its accuracy and/or truthfulness. That said, Catelyn’s grief in the first half of this chapter was heart-wrenching to read, because even if Bran and Rickon are still alive, how long will it be before poor Catelyn learns that’s the case?

Speaking of mysterious Stark deaths, we get another piece of the puzzle here to the whole Lyanna/Rhaegar/Brandon/Ned thing, which I would perhaps be more excited by if these hints weren’t coming so far apart in the narrative that I am having real trouble remembering all of what I’ve already learned about it. I could go back and review what I’ve already covered of it, but as a general rule I’m trying not to do that, in the spirit of keeping this as much of an initial straight readthrough of the whole series as possible.

I know, or at least I’m pretty sure, that Ned and Brandon believed that Rhaegar had raped Lyanna, and that we have received hints that Rhaegar had actually been in love with her instead (or at least that the relationship was mutual and not forced), but I am still really hazy on how all this went down. How did Rhaegar get his hands on Lyanna in the first place? And why did Brandon go to King’s Landing to avenge her when I thought it was Ned Robert who was in love with her? And I am also pretty sure that we still haven’t been told how exactly Lyanna died.

More than anything else I’d like to figure out why such a big deal is being made out of this bit of history. There’s no reason to be this coy about it over such a long period of time unless the revelation of the whole truth of it has some serious present-day implications, and at the moment I am completely clueless about what they could be. It’s probably something I’ll kick myself over for not realizing ahead of time, no doubt.

“…loved by one for a kindness I never did” : Is this referring to Tyrion? If so, wow, Jaime sucks even more than I thought.

In other news:

“Snow, that was the one. Such a white name . . . like the pretty cloaks they give us in the Kingsguard when we swear our pretty oaths.”

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we in the biz like to call A Clue.

…A Clue which, I am vastly irritated to report, is currently of no help to me whatsoever. ARGH.

What does that mean? Because, unless Jaime’s suggesting that Ned fathered a bastard on one of the Kingsguard, which strikes me as having some, shall we say, logistical difficulties, I have no idea what I’m supposed to get out of this. And besides, aren’t all bastards in the North given the surname “Snow”? So how can that be significant for Jon in particular?

Gah. Well, maybe the next chapter has ALL the answers! Riiiight.

 

Chapter 56: Theon

What Happens
Theon dreams of being chased by giant wolves with the heads of children, and wakes, sobbing for mercy, to find Reek there, reporting that his sister Asha has arrived and is in the Great Hall. Theon rises and dresses, remembering his previous dreams of dressing children’s corpses, and having his manhood chewed off while raping the miller’s wife. He dresses richly until he remembers Asha will only mock him for it, but still puts on his crown, crudely made because he had killed the only competent blacksmith in the keep.

On his way to the hall, Theon thinks of how the men who had accompanied him to Acorn Water had all died mysteriously, and how he’d had Farlen the kennelmaster executed for the deaths, though he’d felt sick afterwards. The other men were uneasy now, though, but Theon declared that no man or woman will drive him from Winterfell. He reaches the hall, and is outraged to discover Asha had brought no more than twenty men with her.

Asha greets him mockingly, and Theon retorts that he took Winterfell with thirty men in one night, while she needed a thousand and a month to take Deepwood Motte. She asks which gave him the fiercer fight “the cripple or the babe”? Theon remembers putting the heads on the wall, and refusing Maester Luwin’s plea to let them be buried in the Stark crypt. Asha reveals she is only leaving him ten men, and they go off to speak privately.

In the solar, Theon is further enraged to find that Asha knows more of Dagmer’s defeat at Torrhen’s Square than Theon does, and complains that the victory has enbolded lords all over the countryside to mobilize against him. He asks how he is supposed to hold Winterfell with only ten more men. Asha replies he should have thought of that before he seized it, and that he should have razed the place in the first night and taken Bran and Rickon back to Pyke as hostages, but now he is marooned in enemy territory far from the sea, and has ensured his opponents’ hatred with what he did to the children. Theon yells that they defied him and had to pay for it.

Asha entreats him to return to Deepwood Motte with her, but Theon refuses to leave his prize, and Asha sighs and tells him he shall hold it “for the rest of [his] life,” then. She mocks his ugly crown, and leaves Winterfell that same day. Reek comes to him, and Theon wonders if he should have had him killed too. Reek offers to find Theon more men to bolster his garrison, and Theon agrees to give him Palla if he comes back with two hundred. Reek leaves the castle soon after.

Theon dreams that night of the feast Ned Stark had thrown when King Robert came to Winterfell, but here everyone is a corpse, including some he had never met, like Lyanna and Brandon and Rickard Stark. He wakes screaming when Robb comes in with his wolf, bleeding and furious. He tries to assure himself it was just a dream, and rapes Kyra savagely to try and distract himself. When dawn arrives, he goes to the wall, and thinks to himself that there is no place for him here, and he should have gone with Asha. He looks at the heads on the spikes on the wall.

The miller’s boys had been of an age with Bran and Rickon, alike in size and coloring, and once Reek had flayed the skin from their faces and dipped their heads in tar, it was easy to see familiar features in those misshapen lumps of rotting flesh. People were such fools. If we’d said they were rams’ heads, they would have seen horns.

Commentary
I FUCKING KNEW IT.

Ha ha ha ha, hahahaha! Ding dong, the boys ain’t dead! Sing it high! Sing it low!

*dances around*

Seriously, I know you might be like “oh, yeah, Leigh, you know now that you’ve read the end of this chapter,” but I solemnly aver that the whole time up to the reveal I was going uh-uh, this is bullshit. I never bought for a second that Bran and Rickon were really dead.

And mind you, this isn’t because I don’t believe Martin would be willing to kill off such young and innocent characters, because wow do I totally believe he is capable of that – mostly because he’s already done it. It’s just that I refused to believe he would have killed such central characters off-screen, not to mention so pointlessly and offhandedly. Ned’s death was a shock, no doubt, but it was front and center and received the attention it deserved. This wasn’t anything like that.

(Eh, I suppose you could poke holes in my reasoning here if you want – feel free! – but it is what it is. The whole thing felt wrong, the end, and I’m glad I was right. So there.)

Of course, while I am pleased as punch to be proven right that Theon hadn’t killed the boys, I am also confused as hell about Theon’s motives in pretending that he had. I mean, I suppose he thought he had to show No One Could Defy Him or whatever, but even Asha thinks murdering children is beyond the pale, and quite rightly points out that all it did was inflame the countryside against him. I mean, is he really that unbelievably stupid?

…Yeah, don’t bother answering that. The sheer level of havoc Theon has managed to wreak just through incompetence, arrogance and insecure panic is staggering. It would almost be funny if it weren’t for the appalling collateral damage that has resulted. Seriously, it’s like reading a comedy of errors written by Charles Manson.

Someone just kill him already, please. Pretty please?


And… well, really, what else is there to say? I’ma wrap up here, kids. Begone, and enjoy your weekend, before somebody drops a house on you too!

49 comments
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
1. Lisamarie
I have been refreshing and refreshing waiting for this :)

Small quibble:
"And why did Brandon go to King’s Landing to avenge her when I thought it was Ned who was in love with her?" Robert was the one in love with Lyanna, not Ned (her brother) - sheesh, what do you think they are, Lannisters?

Actually, I think the books are a bit ambiguous as to whether or not Ned thinks Rhaegar raped her or not...his POVs didn't really give a lot of clarity on the subject one way or the other.

The Theon chapter makes me so very very sad. I don't want Bran/Rickon to die, but somehow it's even worse when you learn it's just two random miller's boys who have the bad luck of being the same age and have nothing at all to do with this whole conflict. Theon is such an ass.
George Jong
2. IndependentGeorge
Lisamarie (#1)
Robert was the one in love with Lyanna, not Ned (her brother) - sheesh, what do you think they are, Lannisters?

You beat me to it. This isn't King's Landing!
Pat .
3. dolphineus
Someone just kill him already, please.
But that wouldn't be justice. Epic douchebag deserves epic justice. How about we throw Joffrey and Theon in a pit. Arm them both with a spork and let the wolves at them? I'd pay to watch. :)

Leigh, on the whole Rhaegar/Lyanna thing ...
First, it was Robert who was in love with her, Ned is her brother.
Second, yeah, we all feel that way. If you go back and re-read, there are a few clues, but very few, and very well spaced out.
Jaime ... comments that he finds it odd that he is so reviled for his “finest act,” which was killing Aerys.
Jamie is drunk at this point, and rambling a little and boasting.
Sure, he is despicable for a number of other reasons. But what if he is telling the truth there?
faiz Imam
4. faiz Imam
"why did Brandon go to King’s Landing to avenge her when I thought it was Ned who was in love with her?"

Ned and Brandon are both her brothers.

It's Robert Beratheon that loved her, and rebelled against the crown to get her back.Can a mod un-white this if its not a spoiler? I forget.
Stefan Mitev
5. Bergmaniac
This Catelyn chapter is my favourite chapter in the whole series. It's deeply moving even knowing that Bran and Rickon aren't really dead. It's so well written. The conversation between Catelyn and Jaime is also fantastic, and it shows a lot about Jaime.

Theon faked the deaths of Bran and Rickon because if he admitted he had let two children escape him so easily, the Ironborn would never respect him - they might even abandon him. They have less respect for inherited authority than the rest of Westeros and they already had major doubts about him. It's also a culture which's big on arrogance and vengeance, and doesn't value common sense much, so for them killing children in revenge is seen as more respected action than losing them foolishly. Asha is atypical in this respect, she's much smarter and sensible than the rest.
Rafael
6. Ryamano
Brandon Stark was the one that went to get Lyanna out of King’s Landing because, as Ned says it in an Arya chapter (the one in which he finds out about Needle), both Lyanna and Brandon had the “wolf’s blood” in them. Meaning that they both acted impulsively, without thinking much, and were hot-blooded (Arya also has the wolf’s blood in her, according to Ned). Brandon went to KL probably because he believed Rhaegar had kidnapped his sister (Robert Baratheon thought the same, according to the second chapter of AGOT, it’s possible that Ned thought the same), which wasn’t proper for how royalty should treat the great houses of the realm.
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
Leigh - now do you understand the reference to the pin? It was one of Bran's. Dead body plus Bran's pin gives the appearance of dead Bran.

Berg is exactly right on Theon's motivation. Take Winterfell and immediately lose the hostages? Arrgh. What a maroon.

So...who sent the cutpurse to kill Bran?
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
Ha, yep--the boys aren't dead--completely agreed with Leigh and hey, we were right.
“Snow, that was the one. Such a white name . . . like the pretty cloaks they give us in the Kingsguard when we swear our pretty oaths.”
Yeah, that is an interesting line. If Jaime knows more, why not just say so? Well, Cat might stick him through and Martin does seem to want to draw this whole area out.
faiz Imam
9. MJF
On Jaime's "white name" comment: Leigh keeps spotting things I missed completely even on rereading a scene so it's entirely possible I'm wrong, but I read that as Jaime just being raving drunk at that point, and indirectly comparing Ned's dishonor to his own.
Vincent Lane
10. Aegnor
Leigh,

One thing to think about regarding throwing Bran out the window... What do you think King Robert would have done if Bran would have told?

Killed Cercei and all her children, that's what. He wasn't being ironic when he said "The things I do for love" when he threw Bran out. He really did do it for love.
Pat .
11. dolphineus
I with @9 MJF on this.

I think Jamie was commenting on the "purity" of the Kingsguard in their pretty white cloaks. Similarly, bastards in the North are named Snow, "such a white name," referring to the purity.
Vincent Lane
12. Aegnor
Also, I totally thought Bran and Rickon were dead up until I got to the reveal. Still thought Theon deserved to die a horrible death for having the two miller's boys killed.
Jim
13. JimmyMac80
You did quote probably my favorite Jaime line, but I'm surprised you didn't get the second, “So many vows . . . they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or the other.”
faiz Imam
14. Arigise
Long time lurker of the WoT reread and now this read and although I'm slightly ahead of this read now I've learned nothing new on the Lyanna front than whats been covered so I thought I'd share my theory thats been brewing for awhile and feels to me consistant to all of the characters.

I believe Rhaegar and Lyanna were consensual and I believe Lyanna became pregnant with his child. Lyanna dies in childbirth but the baby survives. Eddard Stark loves his sister and takes the child knowing its all that remains of Lyanna and Robert will surely kill it as it is also Rhaegar's son.

We read often enough in the first book how of the true-born Stark children only Arya takes after her father. It also mentions Jon has this look as well. But I'm thinking he doesnt get it from Eddard but from Lyanna.

Anyways, just my current theory and if anyone has read ahead and knows please don't spoil it for the rest of us!

PS: Thanks Leigh for doing these blogs. Look forward to every Tues/Fri for the next ones.
faiz Imam
15. Black Dread
Not sure how accurate my memory is on the subject, but... Ned always seemed kind of tight-lipped on the topic of Lyanna. He seemed content to let Robert rant and rave without actually contributing to the conversation.
Aaron Miller
16. altarego
Whenever I feel confused w/re to ambiguous events in the books (e.g. Bran and Rickon's murder), I find it helpful to remember that GRRM used to write for television.
Aaron Miller
17. altarego
Shouldn't pet theories be relegated to the discussion forum?
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
18. Lisamarie
I don't know, I think it's fair that a theory based only on what Leigh has read so far be posted. Unless Leigh doesn't want to see other people's interpretations of the same thing (I'm not clear on that myself).
faiz Imam
19. Joel Prophet
Rob: Your who hired the guy to kill Brad in his bed is still an unanswered question. I have two theories. One I will share because it is not spoilish. I think someone was/is tring to frame the Lannisters for Brad's death. They left the knife (stupid, unless meant to be a clue pointing to the Lannisters). Just because someone is guilty does not mean someone else could try to frame them for reasons of their own. Let the Lord of Choas rule. (Sorry I could not resist). Those two guys in the last book souinded like they wantted war in Westrous. Murdering the son of a major Lord and framimg the son of another lord would do that nicely.
faiz Imam
20. Black Dread
altarego

Not sure when exactly in the series HBO came calling but, GRRM is still writing for television.
faiz Imam
21. Arigise
Didn't mean to offend if the theory wasn't appropriate in these comments, but it doesn't appear that I can delete it either...so sorry if its out of place.

@19 Joel Prophet The knife was hardly "left." Summer tore his throat out and he died. However, the distinctive dagger is interesting.

Either A) Whomever sent him was incredibly confident he would succeed and escape.
B) Incredibly stupid. (Extreme confidence kinda fits here too because that would be stupid.)
C) Is trying to frame someone.

The problem I see with the frame idea is who would know? Jaime pushing Bran out of the window was hardly pre-meditated and while the stabbing in bed thing happened later (weeks? I think.) thats still pretty quick to learn about it and set a plot in motion. And there were only Starks and Robert/Lannisters in Winterfell at the time that I can recall.
Matthew B
23. MatthewB
I don't think GRRM wants us to like Jaime. He only wants us to understand Jaime, though understanding and empathy often do go hand in hand.

This is a concept a lot of people seem to have trouble with IRL: trying to understand someone is not the same as excusing their actions. (coughterroristscough)
Tricia Irish
24. Tektonica
Posting theories, pulling together info from all the previous books, seems like what this thread is for. I say, theory away, as long as it doesn't involve material from books we haven't gotten to yet. Just my opinion.
Pirmin Schanne
25. Torvald Nom
"biggest waist of air" in one series.
But man does Theon make a case for himself.
Hm, I never imagined Theon to be fat. Maybe Varys fits that description more closely; you never know with the Spider.

(Sorry, I just couldn't resist ;))
M G
26. nalattam
Arigise @ 14. Interesting theory. Where do you get consensual from, though? From what we've seen the start of the revolution against the Targaryens was caused by Rhaegar kidnapping and raping Lyanna.

Do you think that a house as honorable as the Starks have shown themselves to be would;

1. Have a member, however young and impetuous she may be, run away with a prince.
2. That no one, not even her own handmaiden or guard would witness her running away with a prince and be able to confirm that she was not, in fact kidnapped.
3. That in the entirety of her time with him, she never thought to, and he never once encouraged her to write a letter stating that this was of her own free will, or to reach out to someone she trusted to convey the truth of the situation.

Or that;

1. The Starks knew she ran away with Rhaegar but decided to start a revolution anyway.

It seems much more likely that a highborn girl around the age of marriage, being already bethrothed to Robert, would be constantly surrounded by her own attendants/guards. The only way I could see her going off with Rhaegar is if she was taken against her will, or at least against the will of witnesses that would've been ever-present.

It may be that Jon is their son, I just don't see her going along with it willingly without a single person ever once learning that she was willing.
David Goldfarb
27. David_Goldfarb
Arigise@14: You have independently re-invented a theory that is so widespread in the fandom that it has its own abbreviation: "J=R+L". As for what we learn in the rest of the books (whited out for safety, though I don't actually think it's a spoiler):
nothing of real consequence
Bill Stusser
28. billiam
I love the Cat chapter. I know its probably considered blasphemy, but I can't help but like Jaime. Yes, its unforgivable what he did to Bran, but he is such a smart ass that I just laugh at everything he says. I wish that Leigh would have posted the begining of the part that she quoted.

"Poor old dead Ned. So what was the name of that bastard he fathered?"
Catelyn took a step backward. "Brienne."
"No, that wasn't it."

LOL. I'm sorry, I just find that so funny. Also, why does Jaime suck when it comes to Tyrion? Jaime is probably the only one in the Lannister family who actually loves Tyrion.

Also, I'm not sure that what Leigh quoted was any kind of clue. I thought it was just drunken Jaime comparing himself to Ned's honor just to get under Cat's skin. Which I think he accomplished awesomely.

On Theon. GRRM does such a good job of writing everyone so convincingly. Even when they do bad shit you can see the reasoning behind why they did it. I've never liked Theon, but I don't hate him either. The guy does some truly stupid shit but all he is really trying to do is live up to his asshole father's expectations. Not a reason to excuss any of the horrible things he does but no one in this series is a bad guy just to be the villian of the story.
Bill Stusser
29. billiam
nalattam @ 26

We have gotten many clues so far that Rhaegar might not have kidnapped and raped Lyanna. One of the biggest was back in AGoT when Ned is remebering/dreaming (not sure which it is as the book says 'The memory came creeping upon him in the darkness, as vivid as a dream.') about the tourney at Harrenhal.

AGoT Eddard chapter, page 631 (paperback edition)

'Robert had been jesting with Jon and old Lord Hunter as the prince circled the field after unhorsing Ser Barristan in the final tilt to claim the champion's crown. Ned remembered the moment when all smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty's laurel in Lyanna's lap. He could see it still: a crown of Winter roses, blue as frost.'

Then after Ned wakes up (suggesting it was more dream) he thinks:

'Promise me, Ned, his sister had whispered from her bed of blood. She had loved the scent of winter roses.'

This is all from AGoT so no spoilers here.
Vincent Lane
30. Aegnor
Keep in mind that all the kidnap and rape stuff came from Robert. And it isn't first hand knowledge, just supposition.

And the Starks went to war because the Mad King killed Ned's father and brother and ordered Lord Arryn to turn over Ned and Robert. That made war inevitable.

Timeline, as we know it at this point:
1) Rhaegar declares Lyanna the queen of love and beauty at a tourney
2) At some point after that Rhaegar takes Lyanna (by force or with concent, we don't know).
3) Brandon hears about it on the road and immediately heads for Kings Landing (which upset their father...and Jamie considered it rash).
4) Brandon demands that Rhaegar come out and fight him (Rhaegar wasn't there).
5) Aerys arrests Rhaegar and his companions, and summons Rickard Stark.
6) Rickard Stark and Brandon were both killed, then Aerys told Lord Arryn to turn over Ned and Robert.
7) War.

You assume that the Starks didn't know Lyanna went willingly. We don't know if that is true. You notice that we never hear any internal dialog from Ned that thinks badly of Rhaegar. If he really kidnapped and raped his sister, I would think we'd hear some of that. If Rhaegar and Lyanna ran of together, then it is definitely not out of the realm of possibilities that Brandon, the hothead, would run off and challenge Rhaegar for dishonoring his sister. Consentual or not.
faiz Imam
31. Carolus
Remember also that to Westerosi society, as well as to Lyanna's House, Lyanna's consent is not particularly relevant, as it would be the Head of the House (Lyanna's father Rickard, in this case) who decides whom it's members may or may not marry.

I say "marry", since sex before marriage in this society would be deemed wrong, if not even interpreted as illegal - it might even be thought of as rape as Lyanna's consent wouldn't matter. And the crime would more likely be thought of as done against Lyanna's father (that is, her closest male kin), than Lyanna herself.

Of course, I don't think we ever get this much insight into Westerosi law, this is just my speculation based on what I remember from law in (some countries of) Medieval Europe. If I recall correctly, Rhaegar's adultery in this case might even have been thought of as a worse crime than the (alleged) rape. Yes, it is fucked up.
faiz Imam
32. KingsGambit
@28 I have to agree with you on Theon. He does a lot of unforgivable things, but I feel he's one of the most tragic characters in the series. In his POV, you get this sense of him being trapped between his Greyjoy family and his Stark upbringing. He alternates between trying to do the right thing and trying to prove himslef to his father and his men. It just so happens that everything he does turns out badly and leaves him feeling forced to do something even worse.

I didn't get any of the Bran and Rickon stuff when I first read this. The Cat chapter made their deaths 'official' in my mind. I had to reread the last 2-3 Theon chapters before I got it.


I'm not sure if the backstory about Robert's Rebellion has any direct relevance, but it does slowly teach us how everyone got to be where they are now. I think George Martin commented that he's taking the story backwards as well as forwards. I'm sure the history of Robert's Rebellion will have a few surprises waiting for all of us, no matter how many of the books we've read so far.

@31 I don't think the consent of the head of the house is any more relevant then the consent of the woman involved (to the law of Westeros, that is, not to what the reader would think of it). If the king decides two of his subjects are to mary, the subjects themselves may not have much to say in this: Robb isn't consulted on the continuation of the Sansa-Joff betrothal. Also, it seams to me that in Westeros the law is mostly whatever the king decides it is.
faiz Imam
33. Slagothar
@13 Thanks for posting this quote, it is my favorite Jaime quote, and I think it is the most important quote in the series for understanding who Jaime Lannister really is. I think it encompasses a lot of Jaime's upcoming story, and I hope Leigh comes back to it as she continues the read.
faiz Imam
34. Michael F Flynn
"a crown of Winter roses, blue as frost."

Blue roses, eh? Hmm. Didn't we see that recently?
+ + +

Medieval European law was derived from Roman law and in both cases required the woman's consent to the husband. The legal maxim was "consent makes the marriage." Under Germanic law, "the act makes the marriage," so if you were raped or seduced you were married to the seducer/rapist. The attitude likely persisted in northern Europe for a time during the Early Middle Age. The legal and technological sides of Westeros are not so well developed; and the maesters don't seem to stack up well against the philosophers. But there is no sense of a "Greek" or "Roman" analog in the history.
Rob Munnelly
36. RobMRobM
@13 - double plus on that quote - not only sums up Jaime but nearly all the moral characters we have seen who have faced difficult decisions (e.g., protect Cersei's children v. execute them all and put Stannis on throne).

@19 - good thoughts, but too spoilerish of me to weigh in.

@22 - thanks. The spoiler thread has been a buzzin the last two weeks with some really excellent, but intensely spoilerific stuff. So much fun to let loose.

@28 - I know what Leigh is getting at with Jaime thinking of Tyrion as thing he is credited for but never did, therefore Jaime sucks, and it was one of her usual perceptive thoughts. Of course, can't say if it is a correct thought.

So, if Bran is not dead, as Leigh and some others feared, WTF was up with the Bran-Jon stuff last week?
George Jong
37. IndependentGeorge
Nalattam (#26):
3. That in the entirety of her time with him, she never thought to, and he never once encouraged her to write a letter stating that this was of her own free will, or to reach out to someone she trusted to convey the truth of the situation.
I believe J. Walter Weatherman put it best when he said, "And that's why you always leave a note!".
Maiane Bakroeva
38. Isilel
Speaking of how Lyanna had died : To quote Ned's first PoV in AGOT:

"Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave his word, the fear had gone out of his sister's eyes."

No discussion of Theon's nightmares? I found them very interesting, to say the least, when I read that part for the first time. Which was pretty much immediately after ACoK was first published lo! These many years ago.
Lindy Brown
39. lbrown
I didn't figure out the miller's sons part in this beforehand, but I did think it odd that in both Catelyn's and Theon's chapter they never mentioned the direwolves, Hodor, Osha, the Reeds when they were speaking of Bran and Rickon.s death.
Lindy Brown
40. lbrown
I didn't figure out the miller's sons part in this beforehand but I found it very odd that the direwolves and all of Bran's other companions were never mentioned in either of these chapters. I knew something was up.

I also felt worse to find out two innocent boys had died in Bran and Rickon's place. I was also thinking that Theon's deception was extremely foolhardy and stupid. So he pretends he killed the boys and mounted "their heads" on the wall so as not to look the fool, but how's he going to look if the boys ever show up again, which they undoutably will?
Peter Stone
41. Peter1742
@40 lbrown: I don't believe he's actually thinking. But what he might be thinking is that, once he's King in the North, it doesn't matter whether the boys show up because he already will have enough power to weather looking fooliwh, while if he looks foolish now to his ironborn followers, they'll just desert him.
faiz Imam
42. AndyT
Wasn't Brandon summoned to Kings Landing with Ned's father? And as for the mystery surrounding the Lyanna/Rhaegar thing, I think there is enough hints given to make a pretty good guess. What happens when a man and woman "unite?" What was one of the number one natural causes of death in women during this sort of time period? She died "in a room that smelled of blood and roses." What would she have demanded of Ned?
Bill Stusser
43. billiam
Brandon wasn't summoned to court but his father Lord Rickard was. From the Cat chapter in this post we got the story. Brandon was on his way to Riverrun when he heard about Rhaegar and Lyanna. Jaime said Brandon rode into the Red Keep and challenged Rhaegar who wasn't there. Aerys arrested him and those with him, accused them of treason and summoned their fathers to court.
faiz Imam
44. Auga
Why are people trying to hint at spoilers? I think Leah has already said she doesn't want to be nudged into a particular direction; please stop it.
faiz Imam
46. she-wolf
After reading this part, the disparate levels of hatred Ned and Robert seem to have for Rhaegar REALLY don't make sense to me. Robert rails about him raping Lyanna, and Ned just sort of listens. In the few memories Ned has regarding the situation, he just doesn't have the level of hatred I would think someone would have for the person who kidnapped/raped their sister, and then also lost his father and older brother as a result. I know Rhaegar isn't the one who killed those two, but they never would have been there if Lyanna hadn't disappeared.
So we've got Robert,who lost his betrothed and is still just SUPER PISSED. And we've got Ned, who lost his sister, brother, and father, and yet somehow bears less of a grudge. I think Ned knows something Robert doesn't know.
faiz Imam
47. Maester Tarly
What surprised me here (roll over for spoilers) and also in the chapter containing Jojen's prediction about the meals Big and Little Walder and Bran would respectively be served was the degree to which GRRM is foreshadowing the Red Wedding -- a feast of death whose surprise guest is Robb, accompanied by his direwolf and covered in a zillion or so stab wounds.

That, of course, and Theon's eerie prediction of his own castration.
faiz Imam
48. Maester Tarly
AAAH!!! I whited-out my post above -- why does it show up?? Help, mods!
R. Burke
50. Maester Tarly
Thank you, Stefan -- wow, that was fast. You are awesome.

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