Welcome 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 3 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 4 (“Tyrion”) and Chapter 5 (“Davos”).
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, please note that the Read of Ice and Fire spoiler thread has been moved to a new thread here on Tor.com. 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!
Before we start, scheduling note: I am pleased to report that your Auntie Leigh has been privileged to be accepted to participate in the Viable Paradise Writer’s Workshop this October, about which I am stupid mad excited, y’all. That means, however, that I will of necessity be taking a hiatus from both the WOT Re-read and the ASOIAF Read for the week of October 7th and possibly the week after as well.
So, a post should go up next Friday as scheduled, but there will be no post October 12th. I will do my best not to miss two weeks in a row, but I’m not going to guarantee it.
Chapter 4: Tyrion
Bronn comes to see Tyrion, sporting fine clothes and an emblem of a burning chain, which he grins and tells Tyrion is his new knightly sigil, by Lord Tywin’s command. Tyrion is displeased, as he had promised to knight Bronn himself, and thinks it is yet another statement by his father. Bronn reports that Ser Jacelyn is dead, killed by deserting gold cloaks, and the Hound has run off. Ser Addam Marbrand commands the gold cloaks now; the men Bronn hired are dead or gone, and Tyrion’s clansmen have all been either been run off by Tywin’s men or left on their own. Bronn also says that Cersei released Alayaya, but did it by whipping her bloody and shoving her out of the gate. Tyrion is enraged; he remembers his promise to do to Tommen what Cersei did to Alayaya, and asks how he can scourge an eight-year-old. Bronn replies that Tyrion doesn’t have Tommen anyway; Cersei sent the Kettleblacks after him as soon as Ser Jacelyn died.
Tyrion asks if the Renly’s ghost thing is true; Bronn didn’t see it himself, but says there are plenty who swear to it. Tyrion thinks that he was upstaged by a dead man. Bronn goes on that Stannis escaped via ship, and Robb Stark is heading for Duskendale, and Tywin is sending Lord Tarly to deal with him. Tyrion tells Bronn he needs to learn everything he can about the late Ser Mandon Moore, but doesn’t tell him why, and demands that Bronn and Pod help him up to go see his father, though he is still only half-healed and very weak.
He is humiliated that Bronn has to carry him up the stairs to the outer ward, which is crowded with tents and pavilions of nobles here for the wedding. They are met on the way by Ser Addam Marbrand, who comments that Cersei has forbidden him to dismiss any of the current Watch, though he does not know how they are to be paid. He also says that Tywin is in a foul mood owing to the continuing failure of the effort to locate Tyrion’s cousin Tyrek, who had vanished in the riot. Bronn opines that he is dead, but Marbrand replies Tywin is “stubborn where his blood is concerned.”
In the Tower of the Hand, Tyrion knows immediately that something is wrong, and wonders what Cersei has been telling Tywin. Tywin dismisses Bronn and Pod, and then he and Tyrion joust verbally over Tyrion being kicked out of his chambers and the upcoming wedding. Tywin asks what possessed him to lead the sortie, and Tyrion replies that if Jaime had done it Tywin would call it valor. Tywin replies Jaime would not have been foolish enough to remove his helm. Tyrion wants to accuse Cersei of setting Ser Mandon Moore on him, but knows his father will not listen if he has no proof.
They discuss battle plans briefly, and Tyrion is confused as to why Robb Stark would be attacking Duskendale, but instead of answering Tywin impatiently asks what Tyrion wants. Tyrion answers that “a little bloody gratitude” would be nice to start, for saving the city. Tywin replies that it was his own attack on Stannis’s flank that turned the tide, and Cersei who started the pyromancers on making wildfire, though he admits that the chain across the harbor was “a clever stroke.” He is less happy with the bargain Tyrion made with the Martells, though. Tyrion almost leaves, and then turns and tells his father he wants what is his by right: Casterly Rock.
He points out that as Jaime is a knight of the Kingsguard, he is forbidden to marry or father children or hold land, and yet Tywin has never acknowledged that Tyrion therefore should have it. Tyrion wants him to formally declare Tyrion his heir. Tywin tells him, flatly, “Never.” Tyrion thinks to himself that he’d always known that would be the answer, which is why he’d never asked it before.
“You ask that? You, who killed your mother to come into the world? You are an ill-made, devious, disobedient, spiteful little creature full of envy, lust, and low cunning. Men’s laws give you the right to bear my name and display my colors, since I cannot prove that you are not mine. To teach me humility, the gods have condemned me to watch you waddle about wearing that proud lion that was my father’s sigil and his father’s before him. But neither gods nor men shall ever compel me to let you turn Casterly Rock into your whorehouse.”
Tyrion realizes this is about Alayaya, and that it was Tywin who’d had her whipped. Tywin accuses Tyrion of threatening his own kin to save a whore’s virtue; Tyrion insists it was an empty threat, and he would never harm his own blood. Tywin retorts that his mother was blood, too, and tells Tyrion to get out. Tyrion will never get Casterly Rock, he says, but Tywin will reward him appropriately for his deeds.
“And make no mistake—this was the last time I will suffer you to bring shame onto House Lannister. You are done with whores. The next one I find in your bed, I’ll hang.”
I have often had occasion to be thankful that my father was an awesome dad, but after reading this I feel like I should put some extra oomph into that thankfulness, because damn.
So it turns out that Tywin doesn’t just dislike or disdain his younger son, he actually despises him – for something that is in no sane way Tyrion’s fault. Not that sanity and loathing your own son are things that go together particularly well in any case, but wow. That is some next-level bitter n’ crazy, right there.
Although on re-reading, Tywin’s pissiness is probably just as much about Tyrion’s threat to Tommen as it is anything else. The set-up from earlier in the chapter about Tywin taking blood relationships very seriously was too pointed for that not to be the case. However, I’m gonna call bullshit on it anyway, because, you dick, if blood were really that important to you you wouldn’t be spewing such vile venom at your own son, now would you?
Gah. I can’t even imagine what it would do to me to hear my father say such things to me. It’s almost impossible to picture in the first place, because my father was about the polar opposite of the kind of ice-cold, stone-hearted, weapons-grade asshole you’d have to be to even think such things, much less say them, but I can kind of barely hypothesize such a scenario, and I think if it had ever happened it would have fucking broken me. Shit.
So boo, epic fatherhood fail. And boo almost as much for not giving Tyrion even the slightest amount of credit for the battle. Although the latter is hardly surprising, given the former. If you truly believe someone to be an “ill-made, devious, disobedient, spiteful little creature full of envy, lust, and low cunning,” there’s likely no way to even try to incorporate the idea of heroism into your mental construct of that person.
The most terrible thing about prejudice is that not only does it predispose one to see the worst in someone, it actively prevents the perception of better things. If you think someone sucks, then they have to suck in every way, don’t they? Because otherwise, there’s a chance you’re hating on someone who isn’t a total waste of space, and that might mean YOU suck. And we can’t have that!
So this is awesome, watching my favorite character get repeatedly shat on. Tyrion and Happy Fun Times are officially un-mixy things, for the moment. I mean, not that they were ever all that mixy to begin with, but now they are like that compound that explodes on contact with frickin’ air. Sheesh.
Also, crap. What is he supposed to do about Shae now? Where is she, anyway? Probably still playing lady’s maid. The standard thing to expect at this juncture, I think, would be that Tyrion would nobly (and angstily) try and push Shae away from him in order to protect her, and she will not have it, and Their Love Will Be So True.
However, this is ASOIAF, which is not so much down with the “doing the standard thing” thing, and so I have no clue at all which way either Tyrion or Shae will jump. The only thing I can be sure of is that the result is probably going to suck. Because the “making things suck” thing is a thing ASOIAF seems to be down with. In spades.
(thing thing thing word makes no more sense ha)
I’m still more than a little suspicious of Shae’s loyalty to Tyrion anyway. I don’t even exactly blame her for it—because seriously, what in her life would ever have led her to be the trusting type?—but that doesn’t mean I don’t dread the inevitable results if/when she does choose to betray him. Or even just spurn him. Please don’t spurn Tyrion, Shae! Seriously, the dude is so over quota on his allotted spurnings that it’s not even funny.
Because, you know, his father rejecting him is probably not going to send Tyrion over the edge, because if it were going to, it would have done so long ago, but Shae rejecting him? Might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
And it is at this juncture that I recall that, as far as I know, Shae has not seen Tyrion yet, post-maiming.
Other notes: Dammit, Ser Jacelyn is dead? That’s upsetting. Tyrion needs more allies, people, not less! And yet other than Bronn and Pod he seems to have lost pretty much all of them. To reiterate my previous sentiment: craaaaaaap.
And, uh, am I supposed to know who Tyrek is? I hope not, because the name only rings the vaguest kind of bell, and I suspect it only does that much out of my own paranoia that I’m forgetting characters. And also because apparently just about every Lannister male in the WORLD has to have a name beginning with “Ty” – not to mention how many non-Lannisters there are with it as well! I wonder how Jaime escaped his Ty- prefix fate?
And Bronn is a knight, ha ha, that’s hilarious. I think Bronn thinks it’s hilarious, too, which makes it even better.
Chapter 5: Davos
Davos sees a ship approaching the small islet on which he has been stranded for days, and debates whether to try and hail it. He knows he will die soon, of either thirst or exposure, if he does not get off the rock soon, and additionally is suspicious of a ship that would voluntarily sail so close to the treacherous waters in this part of Blackwater Bay. He asks himself why he should live when so many of his sons are dead, and thinks he should just let himself die.
He remembers the night of the battle, seeing his sons’ ships consumed by wildfire, and how he had dived to the bottom of the river in an attempt to swim under the chain and flaming wreckage blocking the mouth of the river. He had almost drowned, and then lost consciousness, waking on this tiny rocky spire. He realizes he has also lost the pouch with his fingerbones, his luck, and nearly despairs.
He prays to the Mother for mercy, and seems to hear in response a voice accusing him of having “burned us”. Davos cries out that it was the red woman Melisandre who had led Stannis to burn the Seven at Dragonstone and the godswood at Storm’s End, not him, but thinks that he stood by and watched it, and did nothing, and he was the one who rowed her to where she might “loose her shadow child,” and he stood by when she murdered Cressen as well. Davos climbs his rock.
If he fell he was dead, and he had to live. For a little while more, at least. There was something he had to do.
He hails the ship, which swings toward him and sends a boat. One of the men asks who he is, and Davos says he was a knight and a captain in the battle. The man asks which side. Davos hesitates, worried that they might be Lannister men, but then notices that the ship is Lysene in design, and decides it is a sign from the Mother that Stannis is still alive. He shouts that he serves King Stannis, and the man in the boat says so do they.
Before even reading: Oh hey, he’s alive! Dude. That is one stubborn son of a bitch.
My next thought: Man, he doesn’t even have a volleyball to keep him company. That sucks.
And now that I’ve actually read it: ooh, he’s gonna go kill Melisandre! Or at least try.
I’m… not particularly against this turn of events, really. Maybe this is just my prejudices showing, but I really don’t care for people who use religion as a political weapon; whether or not they sincerely believe in the rightness of doing so is really beside the point as far as I am concerned. Church and state, separation of: that is where it’s at, folks.
Besides, magical assassin shadow babies™ is just cheating. So there.
And as always, Martin makes his divine intervention/revelation/epiphanies deliberately ambiguous as to their authenticity. Davos hears the Mother, yes, but he also happens to be delirious with fever and half-dead of thirst at the time; I imagine if I were stranded on a rock for days with no food and water I’d start hearing voices too. So whether it was “real” or not is, as usual, left for the reader to decide.
…And now, of course, it occurs to me that, genuine or not, Davos’s new-found vendetta to assassinate Melisandre is just as religiously motivated as her actions are. So logically, I should be just as against Davos’s intentions as I am against hers, otherwise I’m being hypocritical.
I think I might have to sulk about that for a bit.
Wildfire as “pyromancer’s piss”: Hahaha.
There was a name painted on her hull, but Davos had never learned to read.
Sailors called [the sea monts] spears of the merling king, and knew that for every one that broke the surface, a dozen lurked treacherously just below it.
Merling king? Like as in mermaids? Reaalllllly. Well, we’ve got dragons and zombies, why not mermaids? Next it’ll be unicorns, I suppose. Although Martin’s unicorns will probably be horrific ichor-dripping monsters that eat virgins instead of gambol with them. Very low gamboling quotient in Westeros, I’m thinking, avec virgins or otherwise. Yeah.
(Have I made that joke before? I hope not. God, I can’t even tell anymore.)
So off you go, Davos, to get your Assassin’s Creed on! I wish you probably hypocritical luck! Maybe you’ll also get to do that flippy thing with the knives!
(See, you were going to doubt my assassinatin’ know-how, but then I went and knew all the lingo. So THERE, doubters!)
And… yeah. That’s enough outta me! Have a great weekend, all, and I’ll see you next Friday!