Aug 3 2012 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Clash of Kings, Part 29

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 29 of A Clash of Kings, in which we cover Chapters 60 (“Sansa”), 61 (“Tyrion”), and 62 (“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!


Chapter 60: Sansa

What Happens
Sansa listens as Osney Kettleblack brings Cersei the news about the battle, but Cersei is only interested to hear whether Joffrey is all right. She is getting drunk while Moon Boy and Ser Dontos try to entertain the tense crowd. Cersei comments scornfully when one of the ladies breaks down crying that she would rather be facing the warriors outside than be in the company of “this flock of frightened hens.” She explains to Sansa that she is only doing it for the curry it will favor with their husbands should the castle not fall.

Sansa asks what will happen if it does fall, and Cersei replies that if her guards do not betray her, she can go to the walls and offer herself to Stannis in person, but if not, she imagines that most of her guests are in “for a bit of rape,” as well as mutilation, torture, and murder, of course. Sansa is horrified, but Cersei advises her that rank is not nearly the protection she thinks it is. She comments that if it were anyone else, she would try to beguile them, but she would have a better chance of seducing Stannis’s horse than Stannis himself.

She noticed the look on Sansa’s face, and laughed. “Have I shocked you, my lady?” She leaned close. “You little fool. Tears are not a woman’s only weapon. You’ve got another one between your legs, and you’d best learn to use it. You’ll find men use their swords freely enough. Both kinds of swords.”

Osney returns to report that the hulks on the Blackwater have gone up, and that Joffrey is at the Mud Gate. He also reports a groom and two maids trying to sneak out of the castle with livestock, and Cersei orders them executed. A while later, she refuses entrance to some merchants asking for shelter in the castle, and angrily reminisces about her childhood with Jaime, and how she was denied the things he wasn’t. Osney returns again to report that the Mud Gate is under attack, and the Imp has gone out to drive off the attackers while leaving Joffrey at the Whores, “flinging Antler Men into the river.” Cersei orders him to fetch Joffrey back to the castle, brooking no objections.

Later, Cersei tells Sansa that she knows all about her “little treasons” in the godswood. Sansa desperately avoids looking at Ser Dontos and protests that she only goes there to pray. Cersei replies that praying for their enemies equates to treason; Sansa says she prays for Joffrey, but Cersei doesn’t believe her. She confides to Sansa the real reason Ser Ilyn Payne is there:

“Stannis may take the city and he may take the throne, but I will not suffer him to judge me. I do not mean for him to have us alive.”


“You heard me. So perhaps you had best pray again, Sansa, and for a different outcome. The Starks will have no joy from the fall of House Lannister, I promise you.” She reached out and touched Sansa’s hair, brushing it lightly away from her neck.

Dammit, Cersei.

FIRST of all, no beheading Sansa, woman! I forbid it!

Second of all, AAAAGH stop making me agree with you! It is freaking me out!

Because, this!

“I would sooner face any number of swords than sit helpless like this, pretending to enjoy the company of this flock of frightened hens.”

Because, okay, considering what I just said in the last post, that is creepy. And then there’s this!

“When we were little, Jaime and I were so much alike that even our lord father could not tell us apart. Sometimes as a lark we would dress in each other’s clothes and spend a whole day each as the other. Yet even so, when Jaime was given his first sword, there was none for me. ‘What do I get?’ I remember asking. We were so much alike, I could never understand why they treated us so differently. Jaime learned to fight with sword and lance and mace, while I was taught to smile and sing and please. He was heir to Casterly Rock, while I was to be sold to some stranger like a horse, to be ridden whenever my new owner liked, beaten whenever he liked, and cast aside in time for a younger filly. Jaime’s lot was to be glory and power, while mine was birth and moonblood.”

“But you were queen of all the Seven Kingdoms,” Sansa said.

“When it comes to swords, a queen is only a woman after all.”


…Yeah, this is pretty much exactly how I would have felt. I mean, shit. Cersei is vicious and ruthless and ethically horrific… but goddammit, I see where she is coming from.

George R.R. Martin, I would like you to stop DOING this to me, please. Crap! Crappity crap crap!

*stomps feet*

“The only way to keep your people loyal is to make certain they fear you more than they do the enemy.”

“I will remember, Your Grace,” said Sansa, though she had always heard that love was a surer route to the people’s loyalty than fear. If I am ever a queen, I’ll make them love me.

Okay, here I disagree with Cersei. Whew.

…Mostly. Crap.

The problem is, really, that neither way is surefire. There are always those who will betray you, whether they fear you or love you. But at least love has the comfort of being the better way to be. You can’t answer for other people’s actions, but you can answer for your own.


Chapter 61: Tyrion

What Happens
Beyond the gate, Tyrion finds himself flanked by Ser Mandon Moore and his squire, Podrick Payne, who refuses to retreat when Tyrion orders him to. His force follows him to fall upon the men manning the ram, dispersing them bloodily. After, he orders them to ride for the Mud Gate, and is startled to hear some of them cheering “Halfman! Halfman!” as they obey. There is fire everywhere, and Tyrion realizes that was why the Hound was so frightened.

They wade in among the men trying to escape the river, cutting them down, and Tyrion finally understands what Jaime meant when he spoke of the euphoria of battle fever. Tyrion fights until Ser Balon Swann points out to him where enemy soldiers are swarming off a broken galley smashed on a pier, and realizes the shipwrecks have formed an ersatz bridge across the river. He leads his men to charge the invaders, and loses his horse and his axe in the shallows.

Tyrion finds another weapon and fights on, climbing across the unstable wreckage with Balon and Mandon until rocks from the walls smash the galleys apart, knocking him into the water. Tyrion desperately climbs up the remains of a deck, and observes confusedly that that there is fighting on the wrong side of the river. He hears someone call for him and shouts for help. Ser Mandon appears and offers him a hand, but Tyrion senses something wrong and flings himself backward just as Mandon tries to kill him with his sword.

Wounded, Tyrion falls back into the water, but manages to pull himself back out again. Ser Mandon finds him and is about to kill him when someone shoves the knight into the water, saving Tyrion.

“Jaime?” he croaked, almost choking on the blood that filled his mouth. Who else would save him, if not his brother?

“Be still, my lord, you’re hurt bad.” A boy’s voice, that makes no sense, thought Tyrion. It sounded almost like Pod.


“Those are brave men,” [Tyrion] told Ser Balon in admiration. “Let’s go kill them.”

Did I mention war is nuts?

I think I did, but it bears repeating. My summary does no kind of justice to how well the text conveys that, either, just so you know.

That said, hah. Tyrion is a warrior, stature and infirmities notwithstanding. And, assuming he survives the battle and the various assassination attempts and all, this will be what makes others respect him more.

It’s a strange thing, recognizing cultural triggers even when you yourself are responding to them. That this, the ability to kill and maim and hack and slash through your enemy is what will gain respect for Tyrion, when all his cunning and intelligence and political savvy will not, is barbaric and sad, and yet I too have grown up in a culture that praises strength and ferocity and fighting prowess above almost all other attributes (NFL preseason starts this Sunday! The Bourne Legacy opens August 10th!), and it’s disturbing, in a way, that I find myself respecting him more for it too.

And yet, it is worthy of respect, the ability to defend oneself and others, and it is an absolute necessity for the protection of hearth and home and nation and whatever, to be able to fight for it. So… right.

And it ties, to a certain extent, back to what Cersei was saying in the previous chapter, as well – that she will never be allowed to even attempt to gain the glory and legend status that Jaime has, because women are not allowed to go to war, and to go to war is everything.

And that sucks. On multiple levels, even.


Why did Mandon try to kill Tyrion, I wonder? Under orders from Cersei is my guess, but I’m not clear on why he would fight so well for him before and only afterwards try to off him. Lack of witnesses on the ship bridge, perhaps?



Chapter 62: Sansa

What Happens
A wounded Ser Lancel Lannister tells Cersei that the battle is lost and her brother most likely dead, and Mandon Moore and the Hound missing. He berates her for calling Joffrey back to the castle, as it caused the gold cloaks to defect en masse. Osney Kettleblack interjects that there’s fighting on both sides of the river now, and no one knows why, but the ram is back at the King’s Gate and their own men are deserting, and there are mobs at two other gates and rioting in Flea Bottom. Sansa realizes this means her head, but Ser Ilyn Payne is nowhere to be found.

Cersei orders Maegor’s drawbridge raised and the doors barred, and Joffrey brought in from the gatehouse. Lancel protests that that will make things worse, but Cersei retorts that Joffrey is her son. Lancel begs her to reconsider, and she digs her hand into his wound and leaves. The women begin to panic when she is gone, and Sansa finds herself moving to calm them, and see to Lancel’s wounds, even though she tells herself that he is her enemy. Ser Dontos entreats her to return to her own chambers and lock herself in, and Sansa gathers her courage and does so. She encounters looters on the way, but makes it there safely.

Once there, however, she discovers the Hound has holed himself up in her room, and he is drunk. He grabs her and warns her not to scream, and laughs that he has lost the battle. He mumbles that he should have killed “the dwarf” years ago, and tells her he is going. Sansa says he won’t make it, but he laughs and says anyone who tries to stop him is a dead man.

Sansa asks why he is here, and he tells her she promised him a song. He says he could keep her safe, and she thinks he means to kiss her and closes her eyes. He thinks that she can’t bear to look at him, and threatens her at knife point to sing for him. Terrified, Sansa sings him the hymn she’d heard in the sept:

Gentle Mother, font of mercy,
save our sons from war, we pray,
stay the swords and stay the arrows,
let them know a better day.

Gentle Mother, strength of women,
help our daughters through this fray,
soothe the wrath and tame the fury,
teach us all a kinder way.

The Hound lowers the blade, and on instinct she touches his cheek. He calls her “little bird,” and leaves. After a long time she hears bells begin to peal across the city and cheering in the streets, and Ser Dontos eventually appears to whirl her around drunkenly and tell her that the city is safe. He says Lord Stannis is dead or fled, overwhelmed from the rear by “all the power of Highgarden and Casterly Rock,” with Lord Tywin himself and Randyll Tarly and Mace Tyrell leading the fight.

“And do you know who led the vanguard? Do you? Do you? Do you?

“Robb?” It was too much to be hoped, but . . .

“It was Lord Renly! Lord Renly in his green armor, with the fires shimmering off his golden antlers! Lord Renly with his tall spear in his hand! They say he killed Ser Guyard Morrigen himself in single combat, and a dozen other great knights as well. It was Renly, it was Renly, it was Renly! Oh! the banners, darling Sansa! Oh! to be a knight!”


Um, what the hell.

Isn’t Renly, like, dead? Did I miss a memo? Did Stannis just lose to a zombie? What in the actual fuck is going on?

Well, perhaps getting killed by magical shadow assassin baby™ is not as, hmm, permanent as other ways of getting killed? Although that’s a pretty inefficient magical assassination, there, if so. Probably the more logical explanation is that it’s actually Renly’s stunt double. Just like Elvis!

…Riiight. Well, in any case, Dontos is being way too garbled and incoherent and FOAF for my comfort here, and so I think I’m going to take pretty much everything he just said with very large grains of salt, but even so, I am… bemused.

I think what I got out of this was that Renly’s remaining forces (which may or may not be led by a zombie, of the non-frozen variety for once, and/or a very brazen impersonator) joined up with Tywin and came in with a flanking move (or whatever) to destroy Stannis’s forces before they could overwhelm the city. So okay, but wasn’t Tywin nowhere NEAR King’s Landing? How did this all come about? I am confuzled!

And even if we do assume it was Renly back from the dead, or not dead, or whatever, what the hell with him hooking up with Tywin, of all people? What, did he decide killing his brother and also not getting the throne afterward was the way to go?

Yeah, something’s hinky here, people. VERY. HINKY. I declare a state of Total Hinkage re: this. For reals.

As for Sandor… eesh. I really really wasn’t sure that he wasn’t going to do something unforgivable, here. I’m very glad that he didn’t, but man, my heart was in my throat for a minute there. And that said, I TOTALLY cannot decide whether I am glad or upset that he didn’t take Sansa with him. Because on the one hand, Sansa escaping is yay, but on the other, Sansa escaping with Clegane is… eesh.

I’m also probably needing to say something about the “Gentle Mother” thing and the implied power of women not having power and yadda, because yeah, that’s great when it actually works, and all, but how often does it not work? Let’s just say, I saw that droit du seigneur scene in Braveheart too, and yeah, it was powerful and all, but I also raise an extremely skeptical eyebrow in its general direction. I’m sure no one will be mad at me about that either!

And on that cynical note, we out! Have a weekend, kiddies, and I’ll see you next Friday!

Jonathan Levy
1. JonathanLevy

She explains to Sansa that she is only doing it for the curry it will favor with their husbands should the castle not fall.
Personally, I think it depends on how good the curry is :)
2. MegaZeroX
It seems that you found a coherent explanation out of that mess Dontos gave. Myself, I was just like "whuh?"
Sara H
3. LadyBelaine
I always cite to this passage when decrying those who think Sansa is a vapid imbecile with no survival instincts.

Numero Uno - she KNOWS not to look at Ser Dontos when accused of "little treasons in the godswood" (by the way, wouldn't *that* be an awesome name for my autobiography? Or perhaps my garage band) because she didn't want to give Cersei any more reason to suspect.

Numero Dos - her epic crowd control over the women in the ball room. This girl's got skills. Plus, she was kind to Lancel.

And while we are here, I feel the need to note that Cersei's comment about seducing Stannis' horse is one the top three zingers in the series and always makes me laugh (the other two are from Tyrion and Littlefinger, respectively).
Rob Munnelly
4. RobMRobM
I think what I got out of this was that Renly’s remaining forces (which may or may not be led by a zombie, of the non-frozen variety for once, and/or a very brazen impersonator) joined up with Tywin and came in with a flanking move (or whatever) to destroy Stannis’s forces before they could overwhelm the city. So okay, but wasn’t Tywin nowhere NEAR King’s Landing? How did this all come about? I am confuzled!

Think back to waaay earlier in the book when Tyrion commissioned Littlefinger to go treat with the Tyrells. (See your post on May 4.) It looks like LF's mission may have been successful - even though you predicted LF doing something entirely hinky.
Nathan Martin
5. lerris
Yes Leigh, Renly is dead.
But, you're right that Dontos does not know this. Not only are our narrators unreliable, but so are the characters speaking to them.
6. kana
She explains to Sansa that she is only doing it for the curry it will favor with their husbands should the castle not fall.
Vincent Lane
7. Aegnor

"So okay, but wasn’t Tywin nowhere NEAR King’s Landing? How did this all come about? I am confuzled!"

GRRM and Tywin tricked you. Also, look at a map and you'll see that Harrenhal and Riverrun aren't really all that far from Kingslanding.
Rob Munnelly
8. RobMRobM
Other misc thoughts -

One of my favorite lines in the series:
“Those are brave men,” told Ser Balon in admiration. “Let’s go kill them.”
Where's the kudos for our new hero of the battle of Blackwater Bay - Podrick of House Payne? Woot.

Your discussion of physical valor and importance to our culture was recently reinforced by my recently re-reading Starship Troopers - in which Heinlein limits the vote to people who have served in the military, with the underlying thought that people who voluntarily risk their lives to preserve the planet are the types of people who should have ultimate voting authority over the govt.

"George R.R. Martin, I would like you to stop DOING this to me, please. Crap! Crappity crap crap!"

*evil grin*

San-San 'shipping to begin in 3...2....1.....
Vincent Lane
9. Aegnor

And that is a spoiler. Maybe not a huge one, but certainly a spoiler, and definitely a no-no.
Steven Halter
10. stevenhalter
Let's see how Cersei's "make them fear me" works out for her. Hopefully not well as she isn't my favorite person.
The Renly part was pretty confusing. As far as I know, he's dead. The simplest explanation is someone put on his armor. But an Undead Zombie King would be pretty cool.
Sansa seems to have kept her head pretty well through the whole thing. Better than Cersei even. I was hoping the Hound would help her escape, but then maybe that wouldn't be much better than being captive.
Tyrion did really well in the battle. Fighting in a disorganized environment like that would really have to suck. Luckily he was pretty much carried away by the whole battle lust thing.
Rob Munnelly
11. RobMRobM
shalter - someone in Renly's armor makes sense as a battle tactic, given that a fairly large percentage of Stannis' troops are former Renly bannermen or, at least, Renly allies. Confusion to the enemy indeed.

Of course, having an undead ex-king on your side would be pretty powerful as well....
Deana Whitney
12. Braid_Tug
Go Pod!!

Leigh, Sorry GRRM got you to aggree with Cersei about anything.

Yes, Sansa does have a backbone, but it's not the in your face one that we see and honor NFL style sigh...

Thanks for the 3 chapters this week!!!
Rob Munnelly
13. RobMRobM
Jonathan@1 - glad you had some text in your post. If you look at last week, bare "first" posts get deleted by Tor mods.
Steven Halter
14. stevenhalter
Undead Renly--"I am the Witch King of Westeros! Fear me, no mortal man may slay me."

Along comes Arya...
Oh, wait--wrong series.
Jonathan Levy
15. JonathanLevy
11. RobMRobM

Reminds me of this scene:

www dot youtube dot com/watch?v=v5e1L5ocXUw
Deana Whitney
16. Braid_Tug
@ 14: too funny...
@15: don't you just love the old war movies? Such bad acting by the extras. :-)
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
17. Lisamarie
"Because women are not allowed to go to war, and to go to war is everything."

This makes me sad on multiple levels (both here and in real life, although things are better for women in general in real life, but not perfect). One, that women can't even have those opportunities, and two, that war is everything. There are many women (and men) who are NOT inclined to go to war, and I believe they also really important and deserving of glory. I actually do agree with some of the characters who talk about the importance of the 'birthing bed' and all that - I do think it (parenthood) requires a certain kind of strength and valor all its own. But I agree that being summarily relegated to it, and THEN it also being considered 'less than' is just a double whammy.
18. Black Dread
...the ability to kill and maim and hack and slash through your enemy is what will gain respect for Tyrion...

That made me laugh.
Rob Munnelly
19. RobMRobM
@15 - am assuming this is no rickroll, eh? Rfife has permanently ruined youtube links for me.

@14 - well played.
20. Hammerlock
"...for the curry it will favor with..."

I think you meant favor it will curry; unless Cersei works for spicy cuisine. Which is in itself an interesting'd think she'd be more in favor of the Dorne thing then.
Rob Munnelly
21. RobMRobM
@20 - favorite curries? Probably masaman.
Vincent Lane
23. Aegnor
I like Masaman too. My favorite is probably Kang-Kra-Ri though.

Oh, and never get curry from a Chinese restaraunt. Their curry sucks really bad for some reason. It tastes nothing like curry from a Thai restaraunt (which is awesome).
Genevieve Williams
24. welltemperedwriter
I also found myself sympathizing a bit with Cersei in this chapter, for much the same reasons--also because her meditation on fear and love reminded me of Machiavelli, which is pretty cool. If only she were take on Cersei is that she's clever enough, but not actually very intelligent. Guess Tyrion got all the brains.
Nathan Martin
25. lerris
Aegnor @9:

Apologies for the perceived spoiler. Everything I mentioned was a product of reading the material up to this point, which Leigh reasoned out on her own. Perhaps my statement was vague enough that you read something that wasn't there, but I honestly don't see anything in my post that is remotely spoilery. Renly's death was onscreen many chapters ago, and unreliable characters are well established. Leigh's offered a couple speculations, and I've confirmed her stated assumptions in paraphrased form.

If I'm missing something here, feel free to clarify in the spoiler thread on the forum.
Julian Augustus
26. Alisonwonderland
About a month ago in this re-read we found Stannis trying to justify to Davos why he had decided to take out his brother Renly instead of taking his army directly to a very vulnerable Kings Landing. He said Melisandre had even seen in her flames his (Stannis') defeat at Kings Landing by Renly. Since he had already murdered Renly at the time, it seemed like just another mistaken viewing by Melisandre. Nobody who had not read the book before who would have taken note of that conversation. I certainly didn't. It was only on a re-read that I saw how cleverly Martin had told the reader what was going to happen, but in such a way no one would have taken the information seriously.
Peter Stone
27. Peter1742
@26: Alisonwonderland: Nice observation!

This may be an illustration of the perils of prophecy in Westeros. If Melisandre hadn't seen the vision, she wouldn't have told Stannis to defeat Renly before attacking King's Landing, and Tyrion wouldn't have been ready for the attack, and the vision would not have come true.

This raises the question: if Melisandre's visions are truly sent by a god, what kind of god would treat his devout followers in this way?
28. MRCHalifax
The problem with Cersei isn't so much that she's not intelligent, it's that she has no concept of the big picture. She wants power, but she believes that if you have power you need to use it, and try to gain more power. It's a reaction to the powerlessness she feels is intrinsic to being a woman in Westeros. She acts because she can, not because she should.

You can see something similar when some people get rich. They have money, therefore they feel that they need to spend it. Cersei is the same with power, not able to understand that sometimes its best not to interfere with a situation.

Incidently, Joffrey combines the worst traits of Robert and Cersei; no matter that Jaime is his biological father, he's Robert's son in spirit. He has Cersei's love of power and use of power for use of power's sake, and Robert's disregard for the opinions and welfare of people other than himself. In my opinion, there's very little of Jaime in Joffrey, which is a shame.
Genevieve Williams
29. welltemperedwriter
That's a good observation, MRCHalifax. Maybe it's more accurate to say that Cersei isn't so much stupid as she does stupid things.

As to Jaime and Joffrey, I think there's an observation on that point later in the series--I won't spoil it by providing context, though.

Peter1742: possibly a god trying to tell them they've been aiming at the wrong target all this time? Just a thought.
Maiane Bakroeva
30. Isilel
Welltemperedwriter @24:

my take on Cersei is that she's clever enough, but not actually very intelligent. Guess Tyrion got all the brains.

Yes, Cersei's tragedy is that having been born into a family that values intelligence and battle prowess above all, she has neither. Just some "low cunning" that she uses in extremely short-sighted manner. Even her beauty can't make up for it.

Yes, it is disorienting to see that Cersei's complaints about the patriarchy are 100% valid, isn't? Frankly, I had a lot of sympathy for her in AGOT, certain murders/massacres notwithstanding, but in ACOK her viciousness, stupidity, incompetence and adoration/enablement of Joff just kept piling up...
Cersei's utter disdain for and disregard of other women doesn't help either.

BTW, I remember being quite surprised and disappointed that Cersei didn't go to the walls herself and shown some Caterina Sforza.
That was something that a woman could have done (heck, neither Tyrion nor Joff were actually supposed to fight) and I'd have thought that Cersei, of all people, would have jumped at the chance to show her bravery and determination and to take more of a hand in the battle, instead of leaving all of it to her despised dwarf brother, in whose abilities as a battle she was less than confident in any case.

IMHO, this only demonstrates that Cersei never was really interested in fighting/military matters - it was just a symbol of freedom/self-determination that was denied her.

Also - what was Cersei thinking - bringing Joff back from the walls, getting him inside? Didn't she know very well that if battle was lost, Joff would die anyway?

Sansa comes into her own as a leader, for a bit, while Cersei fails at it spectacularly.

The Hound - ergh. I don't understand how people think that Sansa should have left with him - he is clearly a very disturbed man and was on the verge of raping her, there. Yes, he does have sympathy for her and helped her on a few occasions, but he is too unbalanced and confused to be trusted. Not to mention, that Sansa, who is pretty and doesn't know how to behave as a commoner would attract very unwelcome attention traipsing through war-torn countryside. Hound may be bad-ass, but this isn't a kind of series where one man can fight dozens and win.

Madness of battle is extremely well depicted - it is such an evocative chapter. Even though Tyrion's battle prowess is frankly unbelievable.

Lancel comes into his own, too, and grows a backbone. For all the stomping Cersei and Tyrion both have given him, he performs very well in battle as a knight and an officer, continues to fight wounded, stands up to Cersei, etc. The kid (he is 16, IIRC) has some substance under his bratty adolescence and Cersei's detrimental influence, he isn't a pale imitation of Joff that he sometimes looked as.

Jennifer McBride
31. vegetathalas
@26 I never noticed that before. That's great.
Rob Munnelly
32. RobMRobM
Isilel - some nice observations. Good thought that Cersei should have made an appearance on the walls. Agree that there is no logical way Sansa should have left with Cleghane other than sympathy for the fact that he appears to be the only person, other than Tyrion, who actually cares about her wellbeing. Nice point re Lancel's growth although I always thought of him as a pale imitation of Jaime, not Joff. Is that what you meant? (If Joff, the incest in the Lannisters may have hit a new level, LOL).

Re Cersei, I do think she's bright at some level but is marred by how incredibly selfish and shortsighted she is.
Sara H
33. LadyBelaine

agreed that Cersei's constant rallying about the bounds of patriarchy would make her more sympathetic if she wasn't such an anti-woman woman herself. She is not really a raging, bridled feminist but more of just a meglomaniac who happens to be a woman.

There are all sorts of things she could have done to prove she is a Lioness of the Rock, perhaps give a rousing speech a la Elizabeth I's speech at Tilbury ("I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king.") or perhaps something with martial flair like wearing a ceremonial cuirass and watch from the parapets, or perhaps symbolically send off the troops, or be seen setting up a field hospital... at the very least, don't flee from the very women you are trying to impress. Her entire response to the siege was one of fear - lock herself up in the most secure part of the castle, knowing that was basically pointless, and then get drunk and wait. She would just as safe/vulnerable if she sat amid the knights commanding the affair out in a more public part of the castle. When the castle falls, it falls.

Her whole world view is that "I should have been a man! I would have shown them how valorous and powerful I could be"... as if a woman cannot be brave and show valor or wield authority. Catelyn certainly did. When push came to shove, when presented with an opportunity to show herself to be Tywin's daughter, Cersei only plotted to use her lady-parts, hid away and got drunk.
34. Black Dread
Great points about Cersei. Agree with all regarding her thoughts on combat. Getting drunk with her headsman waiting in the wings - a strange combination of cowardice and bitchiness. Whatever it was, it's the opposite of leadership.

As for Cersei's intelligence - she isn't dumb; she just isn't half as smart as she thinks she is.
Genevieve Williams
35. welltemperedwriter
I kind of file that under the "does stupid things" category. She's not a leader, that's for sure. It occurs to me that she and Jaime are alike in that, at least initially--I think that later on, Jaime does acquire some ability in this area, instead of just being a very, very good swordsman. But again, I'm getting ahead of the story a bit.

It's interesting to contrast Catelyn and Cersei. I wasn't terribly sympathetic to Catelyn from the get-go, mostly because of her treatment of Jon (understandable though it is, from her perspective), and I think she also makes some poor decisions. But she's far smarter than Cersei, particularly politically. Her advice to Robb is particularly astute.
36. Asbjorn
@35 you might want to white out the first paragraph: beside being a minor spoiler in itself, it was unclear if Catelyn was going to kill Jaime, last time we saw him. :)
Maiane Bakroeva
37. Isilel
RobMRobM @32:

I was speaking for myself, not for characters in the books ;). They may have seen Lancel as a cut-rate Jaime (Cersei certainly did), but for me he seemed more like Joff until this chapter - i.e. he seemed to participate enthusiastically in the abuse of Sansa after news about the Whispering Wood reached KL, he was initially nasty to Tyrion, but was easily cowed and humiliated, he seemed generally haughty, stupid, and cowardly.
But this chapter showed that Lancel was just a teenager, who was exposed to some very bad influence during the last several years, but really had some courage and sense underneath it all.

The thing with Cersei is - I really don't think that she was cowardly per se - I actually think that she wass consistently quite brave and highly prizes bravery, it was just that she didn't know how to seize the moment to finally transcend the limitations imposed on her as a woman and she was never good at waiting. And yea, definitely not a leader.
I agree with her that that there was no particular sense in impressing these women, BTW - nobody of any importance was in the city, after all.

I also can kinda see that being in the citadel could have bought a few hours/days, which could have proven crucial. But that's only with loyal guard (too bad that Tyrion sent Cersei's household guard away in his ill-fated attempt to break out Jaime) and/or good leadership. But that should have been the last resort, not the whole plan of her action!

Re: Catelyn, she was always handicapped by having to defer to men in her life. She had to be so very careful not to be seen as taking over from Robb, because Robb was close to adulthood, so she was really limited in what she could do.
But in a situation similar to Cersei's, with a clearly minor son, Cat wouldn't have parked her posterior in a citadel and let the men (men whom she didn't trust or rate highly as generals, BTW), handle everything, I am sure.
Cat had a good understanding of military tactics/ strategy and had shown ability and willingness to fight and kill personally, if it was required (against the assassin, on the mountain road, etc).
38. Lsana

In terms of Catelyn vs. Cersei, this is the chapter that I think most clearly illustrates the difference between the two of them:

In GoT, Catelyn recognized that Robb had gotten himself in way over his head by leading the army personally. But she also recognized that if he was ever going to be Lord of the North, it was too late for him to back down. As much as she wanted to keep him safe, she couldn't send him back to Winterfell; she had to let him keep the command he'd taken.

Here, Cersei is in much the same situation: she recognizes that Joff is in danger, but she either fails to recognize or doesn't care that if Joff is going to be King, he can't just run away from the danger and hide in the castle. Cersei is going to drag her boy back to her side, and forget the larger consequences.
Steven Halter
39. stevenhalter
While the Hound certainly seemed creepy in the Sansa chapter, he didn't actually do anything. For Westeros, that shows some sort of massive restraint.
I don't think that it would have necessarily been a good idea idea for Sansa to leave with the Hound, it also doesn't seem like a good idea for her to stay. Cersei will kill her in a heartbeat and I have definite fears about what Joff might be intending in celebrating the "victory".
Genevieve Williams
40. welltemperedwriter
Aie, you're right Asbjorn--I forgot where we were in the reread. Whiteout added.
Genevieve Williams
41. welltemperedwriter
Shalter, Sansa really has no good choices here, as you point out; whether she leaves with the Hound or not, things are unlikely to turn out well.

A lot of people get down on Sansa for the choices she makes--the first time I read the series, I was admittedly one of them. But she's really stuck in a horrible situation, and although some of her own choices have contributed to it, in the grand scheme of things she's been a pawn all along. She's just finally realized it. If she survives, she'll be quite formidable, I think.
Rob Munnelly
42. RobMRobM
Isilel - now I understand what you were trying to say re Lancel. *light dawns* I might say instead that he viewed himself as a mini-Joff but now has started striking out in a new direction.

By the way, the comment above @33 about Cersei needing to wear armor during the battle - you should see the outfit they put her in on the HBO show. Nowhere near the walls but the HBO team was listening to you in spirit.
Steven Halter
43. stevenhalter
A bit more on the Hound: GRRM is potentially creating a very interesting character in the Hound. We have a man who underwent dramatic childhood abuse and is vivedly scared both physically and emotionally as a result.
In a run of the mill tale, the scaring might just twist him into being a violent psychotic--an everyday villain. When we first met him, that seemed his likely role.
At this stage, the Hound character has a number of options.
1) He could find some triumphant purpose from his failure to face his fears.
2) He could fall into despair and either kill himself or become useless (not a real interesting path unless it is a stepping stone back to 1 although that is difficult with the killing himself option).
3) He could go back to being a minor villain of some sort.
The most interesting option would be some variant of 1. Sansa going off with him would have been an easy path to that option, but GRRM didn't take that route, so it seems that he is going to make the Hound work harder.
We'll have to see--I think what exactly GRRM does with the Hound as a character will be very interesting from both a in-story and meta-story viewpoint.
Rob Munnelly
44. RobMRobM
@43 - or do all of the above, in usual GRRM fashion, LOL.
Vincent Lane
45. Aegnor
25. lerris,

Minor spoilers regarding Renly's fate...

At this point in the story the reader is meant to question if Renly is really dead or not. Did Renly just come back from death and defeat Stannis? Some might not buy it, and figure it out right away (like some do for the Joff parentage surprise).

And you can see that Leigh is speculating in her post about whether he's alive, a zombie, or what. Then you come in, with your knowledge of future events, and say "He's dead". As Leigh pointed out, we've already seen shadow babies. Maybe death isn't as permanent as we thought, and that is really Renly. The only way to make the definitive statement that he is dead at this point, is to have read the book before.

In the chapters after Theon and Reek faked Bran and Rickon's death, Leigh speculated that they were not really dead and that is was all just a fake out. Even though she had guessed that, it would have still been a spoiler to come out and say "Yes, they are still alive." Because that would be based on knowledge of future events. Just as your response is in @5.
46. sofrina
@45 - i understood the passage at once, so i'm not sure the reader is meant to think anything in particular. your suggestion is one possible reaction but the series has so many tricks and subtleties i think it's impossible to control how the reader views an event. the beauty is in the eventual understanding. sometimes one reveal hits me like a stack of dominoes leading all the way back to GOT.

all of our journeys through the story are similar and yet unique because of the different interpretations we bring to the details: those things we get right off, misinterpret or cannot fathom. which is a fundamental part of the argument against spoiling leigh by interpreting even what she's already read, no?

i think, if anything, the reader is meant to enjoy the ride, understand in the end and find endless revelations and new understandings in the rereads.
Karan J
47. karanj
Why did Mandon try to kill Tyrion, I wonder? Under orders from Cersei is my guess, but I’m not clear on why he would fight so well for him before and only afterwards try to off him. Lack of witnesses on the ship bridge, perhaps?
Yep, exactly this - so that he could have plausible deniability of Tyrion falling in battle, whereas in front of a bunch of loyal soldiers it would be kinda obvious.
Rob Munnelly
48. RobMRobM
Can't rule out the possibility of Joff instead of Cersei, can we?
Kevin Maroney
49. womzilla
Karanj @47, also Mandon probably rightly believed that that killing Tyrion during the main fighting was either unnecessary, as he would be killed by Stannis's forces; and/or unwise, because if there was going to be any chance of surviving Stannis's assault, Tyrion would be needed for the fight. Once the fighting was basically over, Tyrion became a target again.

On the question of Joff being "Robert's son"--Robert wanted to be loved by all. It was his greatest flaw, because sometimes being a king means saying no. Joffrey is perfectly willing to tell people no, as long as it means they suffer.
50. David B
Regarding Mandon trying to kill Tyrion, it's hard to kill someone who's standing in front of the troops, leading them in battle.
Tabby Alleman
51. Tabbyfl55
ooh, favor me with some curry! I love curry.

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