Fri
Nov 9 2012 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 8

A Read of Ice and Fire on Tor.com: A Storm of Swords, Part 8Welcome 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 8 of A Storm of Swords, in we cover Chapter 14 (“Catelyn”).

Short chapter is short due to unexpected reasons. Sowwy.

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!

 

Chapter 14: Catelyn

What Happens
Catelyn hears Robb’s return, and reassures herself that he will see her and forgive her. Something odd had happened the day her brother had returned: some forty men (including Ser Perwyn Frey) had stormed out of the castle, trampling Robb’s banner as they went. She is soon summoned to the Great Hall, and is amazed at how grown-up Robb appears. She notes several people on the dais she does not know. Ser Brynden Blackfish ignores protocol and leaps down to embrace her immediately.

Robb greets her cordially. He says he understands why Catelyn did what she did, but Lord Rickard Karstark accuses her of robbing him of his vengeance. Catelyn counters that his sons are already dead, but Jaime’s life may buy her daughters’ lives. Karstark shoots back that she was played for a fool, and calls her a traitor, whereupon Robb shuts him down sharply, and tells Catelyn that he knows what she did was for love, and “it can lead us to great folly, but we follow our hearts… wherever they take us.” Karstark storms out, and Robb dismisses the court after his supporters come to give Catelyn their well-wishes, more or less sincerely.

Catelyn realizes that Robb does not have Grey wind with him, and asks about the six strangers. The younger knight (seashell sigil) answers that they are new to Robb’s cause, but firm in their loyalty. Robb introduces Lady Sybell, wife of Lord Gawen Westerling of the Crag, who Robb captured in the Whispering Wood. The seashell knight is Sybell’s son, Ser Raynald Westerling, and the other knight (with pepperpots for his sigil) is Ser Rolph Spicer, her brother. Lastly he introduces Lady Jeyne Westerling, Lord Gawen’s elder daughter, “and my… ah… my lady wife.”

Catelyn realizes Robb’s earlier remarks were a trap: now that he has forgiven her “act of love”, she must forgive his. Catelyn welcomes Jeyne stiffly, who swears to be a good wife and queen to Robb. The Westerlings retire, and Catelyn says she thought Lord Gawen was sworn to Tywin Lannister. Robb acknowledges it, and says he will of course free him now, but does not know if Gawen will join him, as the marriage went through without his consent. Catelyn also points out that this has lost Robb the Freys; the Westerlings come with some dozen knights, where Walder Frey had given him a thousand. Robb explains how he was wounded taking the Crag and Jeyne nursed him to health, and how she “comforted” him when he received news of Bran and Rickon’s deaths, and he married her the next day.

Robb acknowledges the foolishness of the move, and laments that the battles seem to be the only part of being king he is good at. Catelyn says he has greviously insulted the Freys, and Robb says he thought they could offer someone else in his stead. Catelyn says Walder wanted to be grandfather to a king, and the fact that the Westerlings are an ancient (if smaller) line than the Freys only compounds the insult.

They move to the audience chamber, and Catelyn asks where Robb’s wolf is. Robb says that Grey Wind makes Jeyne anxious, so he left him in the yard. Catelyn points out that to fear the wolf is to fear Robb, but Robb replies that Jeyne saw Grey Wind kill a man at the Crag, and cannot be blamed for her fear. He adds that the wolf bares his teeth at Ser Rolph as well, and Catelyn immediately declares that Robb must send Rolph away. Robb scoffs, but Catelyn tells him any man Grey Wind dislikes is not a man Robb wants close to him. She believes that the wolves were sent by the gods to watch over them. Robb answers that he used to believe that until he heard about Bran and Rickon, but agrees to send Rolph away.

Brynden and Robb proceed to thoroughly chastise Ser Edmure for disobeying Robb’s order to stay at Riverrun. Brynden reveals that Edmure’s ill-advised raids delayed Tywin Lannister just long enough for him to receive news of Stannis’s attack on King’s Landing, causing Tywin to change course, meet up with the Tyrells, and force march to King’s Landing, where they took Stannis in the rear, upsetting Robb’s plans to trap Tywin in the west and preventing the sack of King’s Landing in one stroke. Edmure is appalled, and begs to make amends.

Catelyn tells Robb that the Lannisters, Tyrells, and Freys all must wait: as long as Theon Greyjoy holds Winterfell, taking him down is Robb’s first priority. Edmure wants to know how they will get to Winterfell, with the ironmen controlling the sea and Moat Cailin as well, with angry Freys at their backs. Robb answers that they must win the Freys back somehow, and says there must be something that will soothe Lord Walder’s pride.

“Not something,” said Catelyn. “Someone.”

Commentary
Oh, goddamn it with these cliffhanger chapter endings! Grr!

Um, okay, my guesses on who Catelyn’s talking about? Well, honestly my first thought was Catelyn herself, but I don’t know if that flies, since in Creepy Feudal Misogyny Land she is probably too old and unlikely to bear more children to be an attractive bargaining chip. And if not her, and obviously not Robb, then… well, I’m not sure who else she could be talking about.

But maybe I’m thinking the wrong way, and it’s not a marriage proposal Catelyn’s talking about, but a prisoner giveaway instead? (Buy two get one free!) In which case… er, I still don’t know who that would be. I can’t think of any prisoners Robb might have that Walder Frey in particular would care about, but there are so many names and houses and relationships flying around that I can hardly keep them straight in any case, so that’s not exactly indicative of anything.

I’m probably missing something major here. I’m starting to get used to that sensation. Bleh.

And in other news, holy crap! Robb went and had himself a shotgun marriage! Well, sort of.

And my reaction is, basically: You dumbass.

‘Cause, look, I get it, being promised to marry into the Freys is like the ultimate nightmare in-laws situation, because *shudder*, but dude. Catelyn is so right: Old Walder is going to lose his shit over this, and I can’t even say he’s not right to do so. I am hardly a fan of arranged marriages, but welching on something like this is so not cool, Robb. And really, did you need more things to not go your way in this war at this point? What the hell, man?

Also, heh. Florence Nightingale ripoff much, Miss Jeyne? And, yeah: the cynic in me immediately has to ask, gee, Robb, did you ever think that maybe she was totally playing you? A cynical thought which is bolstered tenfold by the fact that evidently Grey Wind does not care for the Westerlings in general?

I mean, maybe I’m falling victim to the “trusting in tropes” thing, which our Mr. Martin has an established history of delighting in upending, but I can’t help it: if your vaguely-magical maybe-soulbonded animal familiar thinks someone is not to be trusted, then that person is not to be trusted, full stop. And even though I am not always on board with Catelyn’s more insane strategic moves, I totally give her kudos for being on my side with this re: Ser Rolph. Yes, send him away. HE HAS NOT BEEN WOLF-APPROVED, HE MUST GO.

(Also, pepperpots/Ser Spicer? Really? Really. Yes, I know that house sigils (and names) historically have a basis in the livelihood of the area, but c’mon, that’s just a tad on point, there. Next it’ll be scrolls for the sigil of Ser Inkblot, I suppose. *snort*)

Not to mention, even if my vague conspiracy-theoryish suspicions re: the Westerlings do not hold water (though they were allies of the Lannisters like five minutes ago, I’m just saying), boo on this Jeyne girl anyway, who regardless of her possible innocence and/or sweetness and light immediately loses major points with me for not being cool with Robb’s direwolf. Because you totally know this is only going to cause major problems down the line.

Plus I just have no patience for anyone who doesn’t think having a vaguely-magical maybe-soulbonded wolf companion is not the coolest thing ever, because I would be all over that shit, y’all. Which is probably proof that I’ve read way too much fantasy literature in my life. Or it would if I acknowledged that there is such a thing as reading too much fantasy literature in one’s life, which I don’t, so neener. But seriously, how can you not think that’s awesome? Especially in conjunction with someone you are supposed to be in love with? I call foul!

Also, wow, I would so not want to be in Edmure’s shoes right now. How must it feel to know that your douchebaggery may be responsible for fucking up the entire war for your side? I’m guessing that’s a not-so-fresh feeling, you guys. Call me crazy. Yikes.


Hey, I didn’t mean for you to actually call me crazy! …Okay, fine, point taken. Have a weekend, pretty please with pepper, and I’ll catch you next time!

59 comments
Scott Silver
1. hihosilver28
Yeah, Edmure must not be feeling great right now. This was definitely a moment in this book where everything just came out into the light and I got really depressed. Robb's plan was brilliant (as to be expected considering his past battle planning) and it was ruined because Edmure didn't want to "sit on his hands" and get some glory. Stannis would have sacked King's Landing (likely) and Robb would be in a quite secure position in his own right. Now...well, it's several steps backwards with an uphill climb to try and upseat the Lannisters. Aaaand then you have to top it all of with an insult to the Freys and an ill-advised (if understandable) marriage to a house that will not bring much to your war efforts. Bummer.
TBGH
2. TBGH
I just . . . I can't even . . .

Wow, this is entertaining. At this point in the book I just buried myself and didn't come up for air until it was over. Leigh, you make my Friday's and the anticipation for the upcoming entries is killing me!
Vincent Lane
3. Aegnor
Greywind didn't actually growl at Jeyne. She's just freaked out about him because she saw him rip the throat out of a guy she probably knew. Kind of understandable.
TBGH
4. Black Dread
This chapter really took me out of the story - twice.
I had to keep reminding myself that Robb is still a teenager in order to believe his collosal act of stupidity. It helped a little.

The Edmure thing never made a bit of sense to me. Nobody gives an order as vague as "hold the castle". Particularly not the equivalent of a General holding the most important position in the war. A Corporal in the Marines gets more specific orders and a background information. (been there)

So - was this more Robb immaturity? Where was the Blackfish when he was issuing orders? Was GRRM just forcing a plot change? Was that really Robb's plan - or is he simply making up a reason to set up Edmure for something?
Faiz Imam
5. FaizImam
Aww. I was really looking forward to next chapter. Good times are just so few and far between...

But yeah. there's not too much to really get in this chapter. its all buildup for the future.

can't wait!
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
I give Robb kudos for the slick little trick he pulled on his mom. If only his cunning extended into other things.
TBGH
7. corejay
I don't think the fuck-up is really Edmure's fault. He did what he was asked to do, and more than that - he can't read Robb's mind, after all. Rather, I think Robb (and, to a lesser degree, the Blackfish) need a scapegoat for the failure of their plans, and Edmure is a great target for that.

The rest of my thoughts on that scene are too spoilerific though.
Chris Nelly
8. Aeryl
@ Black Dread, well the show must drive you nuts, since in there Robb is older.

I can buy that Robb didn't know about his brilliant plan til he got to the West and sized up the sitch, which still impresses the importance of Edmure doing what he was fu¢%ing told!! It's like they can just call someone to tell them, "PLANS CHANGED, STAY THERE!!"
Scott Silver
10. hihosilver28
@4 Black Dread, @7 corejay

Since Robb isn't a POV and we only see him through Catelyn's eyes, I think we can safely assume that the instructions he gave Edmure were a bit more specific than we've seen, if not telling him why he's doing it, which in retrospect was an error. Was the Blackfish with Robb on his campaign, because I honestly can't remember what Brynden has been up to when he's reintroduced in this chapter.
TBGH
11. Lsana
Given the vagueness of Robb's orders to Edmure ("Hold Riverrun" as opposed to "Keep your butt in Riverrun and don't stir out of it for any reason"), there's been a considerable amount of debate about who was to blame for the failure, Robb or Edmure. Edmure, after all, did succeed in holding Riverrun, and his attack on Tywin didn't put that in danger.

I'm of the opinion that the Blackfish is primarily to blame. If Edmure had thought about it, he would have figured out that Robb wanted Tywin to follow him and act accordingly. However, the Blackfish should have known that Edmure wasn't the sort who would think about it and figure it out, and he should have advised Robb accordingly.

Of course, all this assumes that everyone's motives were exactly as stated. There's also a cynical part of me that thinks Robb expected Edmure to try to stop Tywin but expected him to fail, and he's now just taking it out on Edmure for succeeding.
Marty Beck
12. martytargaryen
I'm glad people are questioning Edmure's culpability here, because at first read I thought there was some scapegoating going on as well.

I also felt, at first read, like the North's plans got sucker-punched by Robb's adolescent version of his father's honor.

Agree w/ corejay@7...I have much to say that I cannot in this forum.
George Jong
14. IndependentGeorge
This has been debated to death, but I can't fault Edmure for this one. If you've got a secret plan to defeat your enemy, it's often helpful if you clue your own subordinates in on that; otherwise, you certainly don't have the right to berate him for not not following a plan he didn't even know about.

Robb's entire plan depended on fooling Tywin on his objectives to lure him into a trap; suddenly it' s Edmure's fault for falling for the same deception along with every other lord in his command? This one's all on Robb.
TBGH
15. DougL
The bad thing is Rob didn't let Edmure in on the plan and Edmure did exactly what he should have done given the absence of any information to the contrary. Rob is a bad commander. Information is key.
Vincent Lane
16. Aegnor
Well it depends on how specific Robb's orders were. You can't always give your subordinates all the information. Sometimes you have to rely on them to follow orders.

If Robb told him to defend Riverrun and to let Tywin go by unmolested, then it is on Edmure. It depends on whether Edmure directly contradicted an order, or if he just expanded on the order too much.
TBGH
17. Aduiavas
I don't think Robb mentioned Tywin to Edmure at all, at least not where we can see. And I also don't think Edmure would have disobeyed if Robb had told him. But it may be that Robb didn't think so far as to tell Edmure about it, or maybe he thought Edmure would understand.
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
Chapter 14: Robb -- So, that's where Robb's been. Off getting married. Well, that won't come back to bite him--not. I think that's a really bad move on his part. Lord Walder will not react well. Robb's not keeping Grey Wind by him seems like a really bad idea also and the knight Grey growls at has got to be a bad sign. So, Robb's been gone for a long time and basically comes back as a dumb ass.
Speaking of which, he really should have let Edmure know some more of the plan. If the full order was hold Riverrun, then that kind of leaves how you do the holding up in the air. Never give a crucial order that needs to be interpreted. So, Robb is a dumbass thrice (bad marriage, not keeping Grey near and failure to give a good order).
From a story structure point of view, it is very interesting that Robb has been kept under wrap for so long and then comes back in a somewhat negative light. I can't see anything good coming from these choices of Robb's.
Deana Whitney
19. Braid_Tug
Totally with Leigh - if your magic companion don't like someone - don't trust that person.
If the person don't like your magic companion - Don't sleep with AND marry the stupid person. Wolf had reason to rip guy apart.

Dumb boy… haven’t you read / heard the stories???

Leigh – hope the “unexpected reasons” are resolved in a positive manner!
Melanie DeJulis
20. Shonagon
I remember Catelyn arguing against Edmure's decision to stop Tywin from passing through the riverlands. I can't remember the specifics, though. Could her argument against that decision have been because Robb's orders were specific enough, and Catelyn knew Edmure was going outside of them somewhat?
TBGH
21. Gentleman Farmer
I'm a little more sympathetic to Robb I think, and agree with Aeryl @8 that given the inability to have reliable communications, as well as the possibility for leaks, the instructions given to Edmure should have been sufficient for him to stay where he was.

I think the issue is Edmure is now watching someone younger than him being given glory and tribute by lords who should be beholden to him, and no matter how explicit and specific Robb was, Edmure was going to chafe at doing what Robb told him to do and how he told him to do it.

I also place at least some of the blame for Robb's interactions with Jeyne at Catelyn's feet. She refused to stay behind and pick out a bride for Robb, so Robb's only obligation was a paper one. I think Robb would have been (perhaps) more careful about his honor, and more willing to recognize the importance of giving his word, if he had given his word to e.g. Mary Frey, rather than the general "I don't care who I marry, neither does Walder or my mother, so let's just get it on paper and if I die it won't matter".

When Catelyn dismissed the selection of a bride as matter too unimportant for her to deal with, in my view it confirmed Robb's idea that he had made a paper deal to get across the river without consequences. If Robb had a person in mind whom he was betraying I wonder if it would have made a difference as to how he viewed his dalliance with Jeyne, or if he might have followed his father's example in the case of Jon and been willing only to recognize Jeyne's potential child rather than give her and the child the full legitimacy of marriage.
TBGH
22. Helen_Joan
Re; Edmure's dissobedience
Didn't Catelyn warn him that he wasn't obeying King Robb when he went harrying the enemy?

(and it seems @20 beat me to it)
TBGH
23. Lsana
@20, 22,

Catelyn's argument against attacking Tywin was simply that she believed it was unnecessary: Tywin wasn't planning on attacking Riverrun, all they had to do was hold tight in their castle for a few days while he marched by. She was against the battle not because it was against Robb's orders but because it wasn't necessary to fulfill those orders, and she felt it was a battle they couldn't win. (And it seems likely she was right, and the only reason it appeared that they won was because Tywin realized he had to retreat to deal with Stannis.)

@10, @18,

It's true that we only get a summary of Robb's orders to Edmure, but given the context of the end of the chapter, I'm pretty sure that if Robb had given a more specific order that would have come up here. When Edmure says "I didn't know", Robb would have said, "But I told you specifically NOT to attack Tywin's forces or offer him any battle unless it was necessary to save Riverrun." Instead, all Robb can offer is, "I told you to hold Riverrun." That kind of implies he never did give a specific order.
Chris Nelly
24. Aeryl
@18 shalter

Yea, but Robb's actions now explain a little more about some of the upset Frey's you saw in other POV chapters in COK.
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
Aeryl@24:Yeah, everything fits, storywise. The momentum of the story is not heading in a good direction for Robb.
He is being shown as rash (marriage), not good at communicating (Riverrun order) and ignoring magical sidekicks (Grey).
Grey is clearly signalling that Rolph is not to be trusted. All of this would seem to be hinting at a betrayal by Rolph and possible Frey vengeance. Maybe Edmure's giving Twyin a break will result in a battle in which the Frey's turn on Robb and Robb gets captured or worse as Rolph lends a hand in the or worse part.
It doesn't seem like the Lannisters would just crush the North although a comeback with Jon and Bran somehow at the head of a wildling army would be an interesting direction.
Simon Southey-Davis
26. Glyph
@12 martytargaryen:
"I also felt, at first read, like the North's plans got sucker-punched by Robb's adolescent version of his father's honor."
Yes, this. I don't think this can be overstated here - Robb did what he believed was the right thing, not what he knew was the smart thing. Ned taught him well.

GRRM has already made a point of showcasing how the traditional, epic-fantasy heroic mindset utterly fails in the face of cunning and pragmatism. Here, I think he's deconstructing the tropes surrounding watercolour chivalry and the romanticised idea of knightly sexual ethics. In, say, Tolkien, Robb's actions would have cemented him as a hero and Good Person to whom Good Things would ultimately and inevitably come; here, it's presented as an appallingly naive tactical blunder.

Ned's heroic, unflinching sense of honour cost him his life and scattered his family; Robb's may just have cost him the North, and the lives of all his followers.
Scott Silver
27. hihosilver28
Well, before we all start jumping on the doom&gloom wagon, we've seen many characters make less than intelligent decisions and rally from them to return to a place of, if not strength, then security at least. That said, it's hard to think there won't be ramifications for everything that has happened here.
TBGH
28. MJF
@ Leigh, about Ser Spicer and his pepperpot (not a spoiler, just a minor worldbuilding detail I think hasn't been mentioned yet, but rot13d just in case): Gur crccrecbg vf qryvorengr; rvgure uvf zbgure be tenaqzbgure jnf n jrnygul fcvpr genqre'f qnhtugre.
Rob Munnelly
29. RobMRobM
Now that this chapter is out there, Arya's last chapter in ACOK becomes especially interesting. There were hints that the post and comments did not pick up. Well worth a second look.

I pin this one on Edmure, not Robb or Blackfish. There are spies aound so they were justified in keeping the ultimate plans close to the vest. Immature Edmure elected to go beyond stated orders to grab some personal glory - and screwed things up. Headdeskicity.

Yes, Cat's final comment can be reasoned out, but as usual it is pretty subtle. You'll have to wait for the next go round.
Stefan Mitev
30. Bergmaniac
It's Robb's fault as usual. Edmure did his job and held Riverrun. Not his fault he is not a mind reader and didn't know what Robb really wanted but didn't tell him.

And of course, his marriage was really, really dumb and even more irresponsible. What kind of a king loses 4000 soldiers he desperately needs in a middle of a war just so he can get the hot girl? A selfish idiot, that's who. Honor is a weak excuse in this case which I've never bought since he broke his word to the Frey.

This reread makes it even more clear how overused and annoying the chapter-end cliffhangers are in this series, BTW.
Melanie DeJulis
31. Shonagon
In defense of the "honor" of Robb's decision -- Robb has grown up watching the difficulty that a bastard can cause, to the father, wife, and bastard himself. I can see Robb being set against following the same path. Once Jeyne had "comforted him," Robb had two options, and either would lead to dishonor, but I think he was intimately aware of the pain associated with only one of those options.

Just a thought... there's definitely no arguing against it being an absolute dumbass move, and obviously the choice he made came with certain "perks" that would... stiffen his resolve?
Mouette
32. Mouette
HE HAS NOT BEEN WOLF-APPROVED, HE MUST GO.



Leigh, I loff you with many loffs :)
Asa Zernik
33. AsaZernik
Yet another weigh-in on Robb's decision: in certain militaries (the Israeli military is an extreme case) it's very accepted for senior officers to give their subordinates vague missions ("take so-and-so position") and expect them to fill in the details (usually with locally-available information that the commander doesn't have). There's great value in this, in that it prevents opportunities from being missed because "I had no orders to do that".

However, that command style really requires that the subordinates know the larger situation and their commander's overall intentions, either through explicit briefing or because they're very familiar with their commander's style and thought process (perhaps by helping craft the larger plan). The latter is true for Robb's Northern entourage, but not for an uncle who (if I'm not mistaken) hasn't had experience in Robb's command tent during this war. Edmure needed either a more thorough briefing (maybe ruled out by the need for secrecy) or more detailed orders.

Now that he's made this mistake, however, Robb's chewing-out of Edmure has another facet to it aside from pure rage - he is (probably unwittingly) teaching Edmure not to take initiative when his orders have room for interpretation, even if next time he's fully informed and sees a real opportunity that Robb doesn't know about.
Lindy Brown
34. lbrown
Leigh,
I,too, thought Catelyn was thinking of herself at first, but then like you, was like, "Wait a minute. Would that work?"

Robb, how could you? Seriously!
TBGH
35. MRCHalifax
"Because you totally know this is only going to cause major problems down the line."

Leigh, I am shocked at your cynicism. The most dashing, pure and honorable character in the series has married a beautiful and innocent young woman for the sake of love! Surely that's a good thing. Why can't you just be happy for them? :(

Still, as has been noted, it was Jeyne that was scared of Grey Wind, not Grey Wind that had a problem with Jeyne. Grey Wind's issues with her family? Well, as they'd say with regards to a different series you're quite familiar with, RAFO.


I do wish we saw the wedding between Robb and Jeyne. We haven't had a wedding since the first book if I recall correctly, and it was on the wrong side of the Narrow Sea. There's been really minimal involvement from the Faith so far in the Seven Kingdoms, and my reaction on reading this chapter for the first time was that I was disapointed that we didn't get any expansion on what the rites, rituals, beliefs, etc of the faith in the Seven might be.


Finally, regarding Edmure: Robb might have been worried about Edmure being captured or providing the plan to his captains (re: potential spies), and would have deliberately kept him the dark. A person can't be made to spill secrets that they don't know.
Antoni Ivanov
36. tonka
In all fairness, I think it is completely reasonable that Jeyne is scared of the vicious giant wolf that she saw ripping the throat of people she most likely knew . And she hardly knows that he is vaguely-magical maybe-soulbonded and awesome and all that.
TBGH
37. Meraxes
Youre all wrong. Its not the fault of Robb or Edmure.

Its George`s fault and he is the one using Edmure as a scape goat.
He simply didint think enough about the situation, skipped over it and therefore it looks as silly as it does.

I know, shocking - but George makes mistakes.

No ammount of argumentum ingorantium can change this.
Tricia Irish
38. Tektonica
Why does Catelyn think that Winterfell must be wrested from Theon at this point? The boys are dead, and they know where Theon is, at least. The Lannisters, and worrying about their own coalition seem to be of paramount importance to me. It just seems unnecessary to go back up north at this point for a pile of rocks. Robb has the men and their loyalty. Who really cares about the symbolism of Theon camping in Winterfell. Everyone ignore him, I say!

Also....Bad Robb. Three dumb moves. Argh.
Maiane Bakroeva
39. Isilel
Tektonica @38:

It just seems unnecessary to go back up north at this point for a pile of rocks. Robb has the men and their loyalty.

For how long will he have them if the conditions in the North continue to deteritoriate and their domains/families suffer more and more?
IIRC, it has been mentioned in ACOK that forces of Bolton and Manderly were in perpetual war over the murder of Lady Hornwood and disposition of her lands, and Ramsey's actions at Winterfell couldn't have helped any, Ironborn are adding their bit of devastation, there is an impending huge wildling invasion that Ned (!) was already worried about, while NW - the first line of defense and Umbers, the second are at their lowest points, etc.

Robb is between rock and the hard place. He is facing a massive coalition of the Rock, the Reach and part of Stormlands, his base in the Riverlands is pretty much devastated and the North is quickly crumbling behind him. Oh, and the Summer is ending, which is much worse for the North than for everybody else, since they depend on their winter stores so much and the war hasn't been kind to those.

re: Robb's marriage - it is actually the opposite of what Ned has done. As to problems of having a bastard as seen with Jon, well most of them were the result of Ned's extraordinary treatment of Jon. And breaking word to the Freys was not only dishonorable, but extraordinary harmful to Robb's cause, given that they not only sit squarely between the Riverlands and the North and control the best route between them, but are also rich, powerful and related to the Lannisters.

Nor do I see how Cat going to pick a bride for Robb could have changed things. Robb still intended to marry only after the war was done, he still would have gone west while Cat would have been busy at the Twins and the same thing would have happened.
Not only that, but given the number of female Feys, Robb would have had a luxury of pretty wide choice even in his alliance marriage - how could it be a good thing to take it away from him? Again, there was never any idea of a speedy marriage, Robb just wnted to get rid of Cat, because he felt stupidly self-conscious and because she was opposed to his plans with Theon.
Jim
40. JimmyMac80
Here's why it's Edmure's fault and not Robb's or the Blackfish's fault. There was no grand plan to take the castles they did and then circle around Tywin's forces to cut them off from King's Landing when Robb left Riverrun. Robb and the Blackfish saw Tywin moving his army up the King's Road and made plans based on what they expected Tywin and more importantly what Edmure would do. Of course they base the idea of what Edmure would do off of what he wa ordered to do. Instead Edmure decides to go off on his own and engage Tywin's army, slowing his movement north long enough for messagers to reach him about the coming seige of King's Landing.
Peter Stone
41. Peter1742
@40: Jimmy Mac80: Very good point. Furthermore, Robb can get messages (by raven) to Edmure, while Edmure cannot get information to Robb. So if anybody is going to be coordinating strategy, it has to be Robb.
BFG
42. BFG
Just a note as to the cliff-hanger endings - I believe this comes from his background in TV episode writing.
Rob Munnelly
43. RobMRobM
...And his background is writing excellent sci fi short stories.
Rob Munnelly
44. RobMRobM
Re leigh's suspicions re some or all of the westelings, likely need to wait until some future chapter in which tyrion gets a chance to talk with dad about how the war is going. We might get something then (or we might not).

Re my last post, grrm's short fiction is really enjoyable and won him numerous hugo, nebula and horror genre awards.
TBGH
45. a1ay
Also, pepperpots/Ser Spicer? Really? Really. Yes, I know that house
sigils (and names) historically have a basis in the livelihood of the
area, but c’mon, that’s just a tad on point, there

No, terrible puns in heraldry are very much a thing in our world too. They're called "canting arms". So the Bowes-Lyon arms have lions and bows.

Wasn't there a suggestion that Robb might have been drugged or otherwise influenced to marry Jeyne?
Rob Munnelly
46. RobMRobM
That's why Leigh's sigil would be a pair of white gloves.

Robb drugged? Cerainly by raging hoimones. Maybe that plus a little milk of the poppy or dreamine for pain did the deed. Affirmatively drugged - not sure we have seen proof of that.
Chris Nelly
47. Aeryl
Or a door knocker.

Or a silver tray.

Or a bowtie.

Ha, we could do this all day.
TBGH
48. MRCHalifax
It occurs to me that the Easter Egg in the chapter was touched on, but Leigh didn't notice that it was an Easter Egg. Which might be appropriate - just like how she doesn't mind Brandon Sanderson putting real world people in the Wheel of Time as cameos, so long as its transparent to the casual reader, Martin pulled a slightly sneaky one in this chapter.

A Stark married a Pepperpot. Meanwhile, there's a long running series of comics and a couple recent movies featuring a man named Stark whose girlfriend is named Pepper Potts. Martin pulled a direct but sneaky reference to Iron Man.
Deana Whitney
49. Braid_Tug
@ 45: Ah, heraldic canting arms…
As the Heralds say… “We don’t pun, we Cant.“

In a way it’s sad we don’t have more heraldic cants in the book.

Then again, there are several arms in the book that violate traditional heraldic rules. Including the Starks. Really? A Gray wolf on a White background? You can’t see that clearly at a distance! Both translate as Silver, heraldically.

Red on black? A very modern combination.
Steven Halter
50. stevenhalter
MRCHalifax@48:I noticed that, but wasn't sure if George intentionally did that. Has he confirmed this?
Bill Stusser
51. billiam
GRRM was a huge Marvel fan back in the day. He was known to write to his favorite mags often and had more than one fan letter printed in a Marvel books letter page, including one that appeared in The Avengers. So it would not surprise me in the least if it were intentional.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
52. Lisamarie
Hah, I didn't even notice that, but that is pretty funny, especially if it is intentional :D
Rob Munnelly
53. RobMRobM
Westerling is more important - really highlights that Robb picked someone from the west/lannister lands. Also, sea shell sigil is interesting - hard shell, tasty center. The fact that the mother is a Spicer raises other naming resonance issues that may play out in the story - can't discuss in detail, of course.
George Jong
54. IndependentGeorge
No, terrible puns in heraldry are very much a thing in our world too. They're called "canting arms". So the Bowes-Lyon arms have lions and bows.
What about dogs with bees in their mouths, that bark and shoot bees at you?
Brett Dunbar
55. Brett
In the British army it is standard when giving orders to also give the reasons for those orders. One reason for this is so that the subordinate knows how to respond to a target of opportunity, as seen in this case.
TBGH
56. Black Dread
@55 - Same in the U.S. - particularly in Airborne and Marine units. They need to know the situation and objectives in case they are cut off from communication. Nobody operates in that kind of blind obedience mode.
Brandon Lammers
58. wickedkinetic
I don't blame George, its definitely on Edmure. he didn't say 'hold the river', he said 'hold the castle'. and it is a classic military blunder meme when the people left to guard the castle get bored, irritated, or offended at 'guard duty' and go try to save the world.... 'guard the castle' is not a lot of fun.
Pirmin Schanne
59. Torvald Nom
@55 & 56: That's the case nowadays. But do you actually believe that the military worked that way 500 years ago? Or even 60?

And consider that we're not just talking mission briefings here, but large-scale war strategy; I'm really not sure whether corporals in today's military are briefed on the target selection and troop movement for the next half year.

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