Mar 1 2013 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 20

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 20Welcome 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 20 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 35 (“Catelyn”) and Chapter 36 (“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 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 35: Catelyn

What Happens
Lord Hoster is laid out in state for his river funeral. Edmure had been enraged that Walder Frey had sent “a cripple and a bastard” (Lothar Frey and Walder Rivers) to the funeral, but Robb had greeted them with courtesy, and given Lothar a spot as pallbearer. As the boat floats out on the river, Edmure attempts to shoot the flaming arrow to set it alight, but misses three times in a row; Ser Brynden takes the bow and makes it in one shot. Catelyn wants to comfort her brother, but he has already walked off and she knows this is not the time. She thinks of how he had broken down in tears the night before and asked if Hoster had spoken of him before he died; Hoster had only said “Tansy,” but Catelyn had lied to Edmure that he had whispered his name.

She and Brynden go to Robb and Jeyne, who both offer their condolences. Catelyn thinks of Lysa, who had failed to answer her letter, and also worries about the lack of word from Brienne and Cleos, who ought to have reached King’s Landing by now. Lothar Frey approaches, and politely asks for an audience that evening, which Robb grants. He leaves, and Robb asks for a word alone with Catelyn. He has not sought her company often since her return, which does not surprise her, and only seems happy with Jeyne and her family.

She thinks that the weight of the responsibilities of being a king are crushing Robb, as evidenced by his numb reaction to the news of Lord Tarly’s victory at Duskendale, killing a third of Robb’s foot and taking Robett Glover prisoner. Robb told Gelbart that he will offer Martyn Lannister in exchange for Robett, and now confesses to Catelyn that he should have traded Jaime Lannister for Sansa and offered her to the Tyrells in exchange for alliance. Catelyn answers that he was concerned with his battles, rightly so, but Robb mutters that he’s somehow losing the war despite winning every battle. She says that every king makes mistakes, but that Ned would have been proud of him.

Then he tells her that he’s received word that Sansa has been wed to Tyrion Lannister. Shocked, Catelyn says that Tyrion swore to return her if they sent him Jaime, and asks how he could marry her in light of that, but Robb answers that oathbreaking runs in their blood. He wants to free Sansa by killing Tyrion, and Catelyn reflects that she should have let Lysa kill him. Robb says it was to gain access to Winterfell should anything happen to Robb, and Catelyn says that she will go mad if she loses Robb too.

Catelyn then suggests to Robb that perhaps he should consider bending knee to the Lannisters. Robb refuses flatly, but she argues that the Lannisters will leave them the north in exchange for “homage and hostages,” and says the ironmen are their more deadly enemies; she brings up the possibility of Jeyne’s death as incentive. Robb asks coldly if peace with the Lannisters was her motivation for freeing Jaime, and Catelyn replies that her goal was Sansa and Arya, but she had some hope of buying peace as well. Robb answers that the Lannisters killed his father, and Catelyn almost hits him when he suggests that perhaps she does not care about that as much as he. She asks him to consider it, and leaves.

At dinner, Lothar is a model of courtesy, and after most of the table leaves tells Robb et al that his father has received a letter from Walder and Walder, the Freys fostering at Winterfell, which reports that Winterfell has been burned, and they and the other survivors were brought to Dreadfort by Roose Bolton’s bastard son, Ramsay Snow. Catelyn is grief-stricken to hear of Ser Rodrik’s death, and Robb protests that Ramsay Snow is dead; Lothar shrugs and says there are many false reports in war. Robb asks what happened to Theon Greyjoy, but Lothar doesn’t know.

Edmure asks if Lothar has an answer from his father to their offer, and Lothar tells him that Walder will renew his fealty to the King in the North on two conditions: that Robb apologize to him face to face, and that Edmure take Walder’s granddaughter Roslin as his wife. Edmure tries to protest that he would at least want to meet Roslin first, but Lothar says that they must accept immediately, and be married immediately, or the deal is off. Robb asks him to leave so they may consider, and he does. Edmure is seething at the implied insult, as well as that he may not be allowed to choose from Walder’s many offspring, but Robb points out that if they refuse all chance of repairing the alliance is lost, and Catelyn tells her brother they must accept. Brynden adds that this might serve as amends for Edmure’s performance at the Battle of the Fords.

“I had in mind a different sort of amends. Single combat with the Kingslayer. Seven years of penace as a begging brother. Swimming the Sunset Sea with my legs tied.” When he saw that no one was smiling, Edmure threw up his hands. “The Others take you all! Very well, I’ll wed the wench. As amends.”

Ah, politics. Such fun, as usual.

So basically I’m just waiting to see what the big catch is going to be re: Roslin Frey, because there must be one. There’s got to be a reason Walder wants Edmure to marry her specifically out of the bazillions of daughters and granddaughters he apparently has at his disposal, and I’m sure whatever the reason is, it’s not going to be anything Edmure, or Robb, are going to like at all.

I guess the only question is whether it’s going to be something that only humiliates Edmure, like she’s disfigured, or maybe just horrifically ugly, or it’s going to be something that actually materially hurts him in some way. The only thing I can think of that would do that is if the girl is barren, but I have no idea how they would be able to tell that for sure without going to a place that’s a little too David Cronenburg for me to want to think about right now.

Also, I’m probably being paranoid, but I really got my hackles up at Walder’s condition that Robb apologize to him face to face. Not because of the apology itself, which I think is actually quite apropos, but because all that says to me is prime assassination attempt opportunity. I’m just saying, Robb, if you go there, watch your back.

I gotta say, I really feel for Robb. He has been handed an absolute shit sandwich of a situation, in which, as he himself points out, his successes mean nothing and his failures are amplified out of any remotely reasonable proportion to reality. Welcome to politics, kid, I guess. The difference is, unlike a modern elected politician, Robb didn’t actually ask for any of this.

Also in this chapter, Catelyn again pulls her thing which I suspect is why she is so hated among certain circles of fans, urging Robb toward surrender rather than continuing to fight. Or, in other words, the “womanly” way, which is code for “cowardly” and/or “dishonorable.” And I get the hatred, in some ways, because my visceral reaction to her suggestion was the same as Robb’s, i.e. hells to the no—fight to the end! and all of that—but on reflection, I think there is a certain amount of merit to the idea that in certain circumstances there is more honor—and more bravery—in recognizing that sticking it out to the bitter end may not be worth what it will cost you—and everyone around you—and taking it on the chin for the greater good. (Taking it like a man, even, hmm?) As Catelyn thinks to herself in this chapter, there are some fights swords simply cannot win.

The problem, of course, is determining which circumstances are which. Right now it looks like the arguments for either in this particular case are about dead even, at least as far as I can tell. Which is not exactly helpful, but it does at least indicate that the kneejerk instinct to hold Catelyn’s stance in contempt is not warranted—by me as much as anyone.

Aside from that, there was a veritable avalanche of information dumped in this chapter, both on the reader and on the characters. On my end, I’d in fact forgotten (if I ever knew) that Tyrion personally swore to return Sansa if Jaime was sent home, and I’m wondering if maybe Tyrion forgot that himself, because otherwise I don’t get why he wouldn’t have at least brought that up to Tywin as a valid objection to the wedding when it was first proposed. Or maybe he did and I just forgot, which is eminently possible.

Either way, that makes the whole affair just that much crappier a thing to do all around. And I’m actually rather puzzled as to why that aspect of it never came up in Tyrion’s thoughts. God knows he was already chewing over every other regret he has regarding the wedding to Sansa, but the fact that it also made him an oathbreaker apparently never gave him pause? I dunno, that’s kind of weird. Or, he totally did think about it and I’ve forgotten, but I don’t think so in this case.

Also, in light of everything that went down re: Sansa’s hand in marriage, Robb’s words in this chapter about trading her for Jaime and marrying her to the Tyrells strikes me as highly ironic. Coulda woulda shoulda, Robb. Though I don’t know that I thought so at the time. At some point I’ll go look that up and see what I said then about it.

I’m also having trouble remembering whether this news about Roose Bolton’s bastard taking in the women and children from Winterfell is complete bullshit or not. It certainly doesn’t sound like something Ramsay Snow would do, that’s for sure—except for totally horrific reasons I’m also not going to think about right now. Ugh.


Chapter 36: Davos

What Happens
When Ser Axell Florent comes to Davos and Lord Alester’s cell, Alester assumes they are coming to bring him to the king or queen, but Axell tells him, to his loud dismay, that they are here for Davos. Davos thinks they are bringing him to his execution and/or to Melisandre, but Axell tells him they are bringing him to the king. On the way, Axell stops and tells him if it were up to him they would be burning Davos for treason; Davos tells him that he would never betray Stannis, but Axell tells him he will, and that he has seen it in R’hllor’s flames. He says that he has also seen that Stannis must make him, Ser Axell, his Hand if he is to gain the throne, and threatens to have Davos meet with an “accident” unless he supports Axell’s suit for the position to Stannis.

In the map chamber, Stannis appears shockingly gaunt and aged to Davos’s eyes, but he seems pleased to see Davos. He asks Davos what the penalty is for treason, and Davos answers reluctantly that it is death, but then realizes Stannis is not talking about him. He tells Stannis that Lord Florent did not mean treason, but Stannis replies that he did it anyway, and complains that where his brother Robert inspired loyalty even in his enemies, Stannis only seems to inspire betrayal.

He tells Davos that Ser Axell would have him resume the war even though nearly all his sworn lords have deserted him. At Stannis’s behest Axell explains his plan to attack Claw Isle, the seat of House Celtigar, as retribution for Lord Ardrian Celtigar’s defection to the Lannisters after the battle, and “put his castle to the torch and his people to the sword.” Stannis asks Davos what he thinks; Davos thinks of Axell’s threat, but answers that he thinks the plan both folly and cowardice, to rape and pillage folk who had no choice but to support their lord. Stannis points out that it is every man’s duty to be loyal to his rightful king even if his lord proves otherwise, and Davos asks if that’s what Stannis did when he chose to support his brother over King Aerys. Axell shouts treason and begs to execute Davos on the spot, but Stannis instead kicks him out, leaving he and Davos alone.

Stannis observes then that the truth is “a bitter draught,” and tells Davos that the choice he’d had to make then, between his brother and his king, was an impossibly hard one. Davos asks why Stannis even wants to be king, and Stannis answers that his wants are not at issue; he is king by law, and he means to take the throne and “scour that court clean.” He asks why Davos intended to murder Melisandre, and Davos answers that she gave his sons to the flames on the Blackwater. Stannis replies that those fires were the Imp’s doing, not hers, and if Davos should blame anyone it is Stannis, who sent her away when he needed her most. Davos says she killed Maester Cressen, as well as Ser Cortnay Penrose and Renly, but Stannis insists that she had no part in Renly’s death. He says it was also Melisandre who insisted Davos be brought to Stannis rather than executed, which surprises Davos.

They discuss Edric Storm, Robert’s bastard, who Stannis says is sick. He insists he means no harm to the boy, but Davos notes that he refuses to call him by name, and is bitter that Edric is just as charming as his father Robert was. Stannis agrees that Axell’s plan was folly, and orders Davos to his knees, to make him a lord. Stunned, Davos protests that he is not worthy, but Stannis insists, and to Davos’s shock, not only names him “Lord of the Rainwood, Admiral of the Narrow Sea,” but as Hand of the King. Davos protests that he is a commoner, and Stannis’s lords will not listen to him, but Stannis replies that they will make new lords then.

Davos accepts reluctantly, and then advises Stannis that they lack the strength for another battle against the Lannisters. Melisandre enters with a covered dish, and tells Davos that it is a greater battle Stannis prepares for, against the coming winter and “the one whose name may not be spoken.” Stannis claims he has seen the truth of this in the flames, where he saw men on a high hill in a snowy forest. Davos is uncertain, but Melisandre insists it means that the battle is begun, and they must move quickly to unite Westeros beneath her one true king. Stannis wants to know why him, and Melisandre answers that it is because he is a righteous man.

She tells him, though, that “this is not the way,” referring to the dish she holds, and Stannis says she said it would work. She answers that it will and will not, and beseeches him to give her “the boy” so that she may “wake the stone dragon.” Stannis refuses, saying the boy is innocent, and Melisandre replies that only a king’s blood can wake the dragon. Stannis says he is tired of hearing about dragons and tells her to go forward with the leeches. Melisandre flings powder on the hearth fire and lifts the lid of the dish to reveal three large leeches, swollen with what Davos assumes to be Edric’s blood. Stannis picks the first one up, says “the usurper, Joffrey Baratheon,” and hurls it into the fire. He names the second “the usurper, Balon Greyjoy,” and does the same.

The last was in the king’s hand. This one he studied a moment as it writhed between his fingers. “The usurper,” he said at last. “Robb Stark.” And he threw it on the flames.

Well, that’s not unnerving at all.

I’m not a hundred percent sure what naming royally-fattened leeches after your enemies and then burning them is meant to do, but I’m betting it’s not to improve their golf game. Maybe Melisandre’s alias is Marie Laveau, eh?

So that is a wee bit worrying. For Robb, not the other two. Balon and Joffrey can totally die like leeches on fire as far as I am concerned.

So, I am amused, because as I was going along and taking notes I wrote this bit:

[Stannis, regarding Edric Storm:] “There is power in a king’s blood, she says.”

Uh, yeah, Stannis, AND she’s probably thinking of the kind of power that comes when you drain that blood and use it for magical spell sauce, HELLO.

I wrote the above before I read the part where Melisandre entered and started straight up asking for Edric’s blood (and then actually using it for leech-based voodoo rituals) so I am feeling rather vindicated right now. Along with skeeved out, but you know. Can’t have everything.

(Although it is interesting that Melisandre argued against the leeches thing, I have to assume that this is only because she thinks Edric’s blood should go toward more useful, i.e. stone-dragon-waking causes. And since I am also assuming that that would take rather more blood than leeches could consume—i.e. an entire body’s worth—I am not placated. No bleeding out young boys, woman!)

Of course, my short-term vindication re: blood and the magical dispensation thereof is rather blotted out with how massively wrong I was about Davos’s probable fate. But then, I had no idea at the time that (a) only a royal vintage of the old hemoglobin (and life essence?) apparently suits Melly’s magical palate, the snob, and (b) that Stannis would be so shockingly cognizant of the value of Davos’s penchant for speaking truth to power. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, given that that has always been what Stannis liked about Davos, but I’d assumed Davos trying to murder his pet Svengali priestess would have rather trumped that. Guess not!

In fact Stannis’s general reasonableness and sense-making in this chapter was downright startling, in my opinion. Making Davos his Hand is just about the smartest damn thing he could possibly have done re: staffing choices. So, uh, go Stannis?

That kind of hurt my head to type.

It just goes to show that Martin delights in nothing better than to let the reader think they’ve got a handle on X Character, and then has that character do something which pulls the rug right out from under your comfortable assumptions and forces you to reevaluate—and yet manages to do it in a way which is still completely true to that character.

That’s… that’s a nice trick, there. I am impressed. Disgruntled and irritated, but impressed.

So does this mean Davos is going to stop trying to kill Melisandre? Am I terrible if I say I hope not?

I don’t think it does, really. I think Davos still agrees with me that Melisandre is Baaaad News, and maybe he might stay his hand (hah) for a while, but sooner or later that confrontation’s going to come to a head, if you ask me.

So Ser Axell, who I am desperately trying not to envision whining a song about his, his serpentine, and Stannis both can see visions in the flames, too? How does that work? I’d have thought you’d have to be an ordained priest/priestess to get the special drugs, but maybe Melisandre is bending the rules for those particularly politically relevant. Or maybe they’re just delusional. Or Ser Axell was lying; Stannis isn’t (though seeing a bunch of people in the snow doesn’t seem like much of a vision to me, honestly), but Axell could totally have made that whole thing up in a (futile) attempt to get a leg up on the competition.

I’m not necessarily doubting that these visions are real, by the way, or that they are really showing the viewee the future, because it’s been pretty well demonstrated that Melisandre’s visions, at least, have been way too on the money to be total bullshit. I’m just guessing that there’s something else involved in bringing those visions on, besides just wanting it really badly. Unless Martin is suggesting that R’hllor is actually real and the visions are actually divine visitations. Which I guess is possible, but feels wrong to me for a number of reasons. Not least because I think that doesn’t jibe with his maybe so/maybe not peekaboo attitude toward mystical/spiritual elements in the series (as opposed to strictly magical elements, which have pretty much come out of the closet at this point), but mainly because the notion that anyone in this series is actually getting their prayers answered seems like way too optimistic a possibility.

Other, more random notes:

Still love that map table. I wants one, I does.

From the list of supposed treasures of Claw Isle:

a horn that could summon monsters from the deep

*eyebrow* Really. Are we going to be having krakens soon, then? Well, we apparently have giant-summoning horns, why not kraken-summoning ones? And why are there so many magical horns lying around random places in Westeros anyway?

[Stannis:] “Ser Barristan once told me that the rot in King Aerys’s reign began with Varys.”

*another eyebrow* Reeeeeeally. It didn’t begin with the fact that Aerys was bugnuts? ‘Cause, you know, ain’t nothing like a good dollop of stone cold crazy to mess up a monarchy, I hear.

Still, this is an interesting assumption, from a more than usually reliable source. Sure, it’s secondhand, but Stannis is way too… Stannis to lie about it, plus he would have no reason to that I can see even if he was the lying kind. So that’s… interesting. I shall attempt to keep it in the back of my mind. Not that that always works, but I’ll try.

And until then, chickies, it is weekend time! Have fun, and I’ll see you next Friday!

Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
"Seeing a bunch of people in the snow" meaning nothing to you - perhaps think about whether Stannis got a looksee at a bunch of guys wearing black fighting for their lives against supernatural forces a bunch of chapters ago....
George Jong
3. IndependentGeorge
Heh. All this time, Leigh has been steeling herself against accidentally sympathizing with the Kingslayer, and now out of nowhere she suddenly finds herself agreeing with Stannis. GRRM is a tricksy one, he is. We hates him.

One thing that bothers me about this chapter is the fact that in my opinion, Edmure doesn't need to make amends for anything. Robb is the one who screwed up by not letting Edmure know his strategic goals, and Robb is the one who screwed up by marrying Jeyne. Edmure might be a fool, but in this instance, he is paying the price for Robb's stupidity.
Chris Nelly
4. Aeryl
Edmure is being played by the guy who was Brutus in HBO's Rome, and IMO there could not possibly better casting, with what we've been shown here about Ed.
Chris Nelly
5. Aeryl
Oope, Duplicate
6. thecroce
Sex Axell is a fervent radical beleiver. He saw things in the flames because He wanted to see them. Not because he actually saw anything... you know? He a crazy religious fanatic... anything he says has to be taken with a grain of salt...

Stannis on the other hand...

Melisandre enters with a covered dish, and tells Davos that it is a greater battle Stannis prepares for, against the coming winter and “the one whose name may not be spoken.” Stannis claims he has seen the truth of this in the flames, where he saw men on a high hill in a snowy forest."

Fist of the first men ring any bells?
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
So, anothe reference to the mystery of Tansy....

I think Cat is more disliked for those instantaneous decisions that go horribly wrong (grab Tyrion, free Kingslayer) than a general sense that she's less warlike. She's actually quite good at that, as was shown in her advising Robb in AGOT. The irony is that she continues to make at least some sense, but her past decisions are causing Robb to ignore her. Interesting stuff.

Re Tyrion and the Sansa-Arya deal - TV show watchers should be careful here, as the TV show did it differently than the books. Don't proclaim the TV show version as fact without looking back tothe books.

Edmund is such as well-written doofus of a character. Priceless. But given that one of the enticements to the Freys is that Walder's grandkid would be Lord of the Riverlands, I doubt fertility is going to be an premeditated impediment for Roslin.
Chris Nelly
8. Aeryl
I'm confused about the Tyrion Sansa-Arya thing, because after The Eeyrie when did Tyrion ever talk to Catelyn again. Or was it when Cleos was negotiating? And if anything, Tyrion may not be that concerned about his own oath breaking, because if it was during the offer from Cleos that he made that oath, well that's the same time he sent men into Riverrun to free Jaime, so the oath was just a front to get those men inside, IIRC.
Rob Munnelly
9. RobMRobM
Leigh - in your very true riff about having GRRM have you look at a character in a new light, re Stannis, keep in mind that Melissandre supported getting Davos out of jail as well. Does she deserve a similar reassessment?

Boy, the Florents are such doofuses too. Small sample size but really now.
10. Anthony Carmelisandre
Oh lawd.
s r
11. Veovim
Re: Tyrion promising to return Sansa if Jaime is released

I think the issue is mostly that Tyrion never really believed the deal would be accepted, especially after he tried to spring Jaime through subterfuge. He was arguably correct in that belief, too, as Jaime's release was only Catelyn acting on her own, rather than anything official.

Combine that with the fact that nobody at King's Landing knew about Jaime's release (or if they did, they though it was an escape, because Edmure spread that rumour along with ordering their troops to bring him back) and Tywin's unwillingness to take no for an answer, and it's not too difficult to see how Tyrion could have broken his word without consciously registering it.

@8 Aeryl

In Clash of Kings there were a bunch of diplomatic envoys sent back and forth between Riverrun and King's Landing, one of which offered the Jaime for Sansa deal. The thing is, most of it was conducted in poor faith, offering deals that no one expected the other side to accept. I don't remember if there was any purpose other than pride on Robb's part, though Tyrion was stalling for time to deal with Renly and Stannis.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
12. AlirozTheConfused
Aerys's sanity started to wane
when he de-tounged mister Payne
But before that, it appears
for several years
that his rule was competent and sane.
13. AllHailTheDragonQueen
This is the first (and now that I think about it, maybe only) time I really enjoyed getting to hear from Stannis, and not just because he made Davos hand. No, what I have always enjoyed is his response to Davos asking him why he wants to be king. The respone being, hell no he doesn't want to be king, but he is too... Stannis to do anything other then give claiming the throne everything he's got, because he is the rightful heir to Robert.

This was when Stannis reminded me of Roland Deschain, the main character from the Dark Tower series; a man so stuborn that he walks into situations that he knows are going to chew him up and spit him out.
Chris Nelly
14. Aeryl
@13, Queen, that is an apt comparison. Only difference being, Roland has his own charisma that gets people to follow him into those situations, where Stannis is only ever able to convice Davos.
15. AllHailTheDragonQueen
@14, Very true Aeryl. That's probrably because Roland is a hardass who is secretly a romantic, so sometimes he can unclench a bit and show that he cares. Whereas Stannis really is just a hardass who is always following the law, even if he means well.

Also, it is weird being refered to as queen when I'm a guy. How about we go with Hail instead.
Bret Scott
16. BlacksmithButNotEmo
G'n'R reference FTW, Leigh. Way to kick Friday up a notch...
Steven Halter
17. stevenhalter
Chapter 35: Catelyn--OK, back for maybe a glimpse of what has been going on with Robb & co. Lord Hoster has dies. That makes Edmure the new Lord of Riverrun. Edmure misses three times--tell me that's not some sort of foreshadowing.
Now Caetlyn knows about Sansa's marriage--not taking it well. But, they are really both misinterpreting events. Jaime is not back in King's Landing.

I don't think I trust this account of Ramsay Bolton "kindly" taking the boys and women to the Dreadfort. I don't think we know at all what happened to them all, but Ramsay doesn't seem the kindly sort.
Edmure marrying Roslin seems like a fair exchange. I would have thought Robb apologizing was reasonable, but Catelyn seems not to trust that. Also, there is the emphasis on Robb's liking Jeyne's brothers--somewhat in place of Bran and Jon.
It feels like foreshadowing of something here. Not sure of what, but I smell treachery and betrayal--maybe that's just the general scent of Westeros.
It seems like Robb is surrounding himself with potential sources of
harm, but it also doesn't seem like he has many choices. Limiting your
choices seems like a bad thing to be doing. Maybe he needs to take a
breath and do a couple of kingly moves like "Sure I regret not honoring our marriage agreement, but here is my Uncle and marry off Catelyn to boot just to sweeten the deal (yeah I know, not nice, but that's perfectly understandable in their cultural context.). Now, I've got a war I need to run." Rather than going to Frey in person--that smells like a trap.
It would be nice to know just how burned Winterfell
really is. These people really don't seem to believe in intelligence
services (except for Varys--who seems to have excellent sources). A few scouts going about and getting some reliable info would be really handy.
I know that things are difficult and there's a war. Probably a side
effect somewhat of having mindset of the nobles/Sers as the only useful people.
Rob Munnelly
18. RobMRobM
Leigh - from your summary of ACOK 21

The next morning Catelyn goes to question Ser Cleos Frey, having had him plied well with wine beforehand, and hears the terms Tyrion Lannister had given him to convey. She is puzzled that he had offered to trade Arya and Sansa for Jaime Lannister, and forces Cleos to admit that while he had seen Sansa at court in King’s Landing, he had not seen Arya. That worries her, but she is intrigued that Tyrion and not Cersei had offered the terms. She remembers that Tyrion had defended her in the Vale, and wonders if perhaps she could trust him, but then remembers the assassination attempt on Bran, and rejects the notion.

So if Robb have him notice that the deal had been accepted, no doubt Tyrion would have complied. However, absent a direct confirmation from Brienne that Cat was going to hold him to the Jaime for girls deal, Tyrion had no reason to assume he was honor bound to hold up his marriage with Sansa.
Stefan Mitev
19. Bergmaniac
As usual, Catelyn was right. The responsible and right thing to do for Robb at this point is to bend the knee. His subjects are dying in droves in the war and his armies are way outnumbered. Not to mention that most of his subjects don't care at all about the independence of the North - Riverland kingdoms and just want peace and to be left alone. But Robb's too proud, vengeful and emotional to think rationally and being responsible isn't his his strong suit either as the Jeyne debacle proved..

Both Robb and the Blackfish were big time hypocrites in their talk to Edmure. It was their fault they didn't give clear orders. Robb was the one who broke his marriage vow. And the Blackfish always refused to marry when Hoster urged him to.
George Jong
20. IndependentGeorge
@13 - For all his faults, this chapter was what got me wondering if Stannis might actually be a worthy king after all. I think he's certainly the best of the Baratheon brothers (not that this is a high bar to clear).
"I shall bring justice to Westeros. A thing Ser Axell understands as little as he does war. Claw Isle would gain me naught... and it was evil, just as you said."
I think this might be the first time the word 'evil' is ever used in the entire series.

Robert cared only about drinking, fighting, and fucking. Renly just wanted the attention of being King. Stannis, and only Stannis, cares about what it means to be King. That's not to say his idea of justice is a good one (as Varys put it, "There is nothing in life so terrifying as a truly just man."), but say what you want about the tenets of Stannis Baratheon, at least he's got an ethos.
21. Megaduck
I'd been waiting for the Davos chapter for months to see Leighs reaction, though I remembered it as MUCH earlier in the book.

I found the leeches scary because its so understated. You know they're trying to cast SOME magic but no clue how it is supposed to work. At this point however the experiance of Renly and the lightning lord had convinced me not to underestimate the power of red priests.

I don't like Catlyn because her choices seem to be so consistantly bad. She never makes the situation BETTER when she's around.
22. DougL
Thanks Leigh

As to the rot in Aerys' court, well, it probably was able to fester becaue he was bug nuts. I don't know whether Varys is to blame or not, but we have historical precedence here. Hitler was bug nuts, and this allowed an insane amount of corruption to grow withing the Nazi movement (thankfully). So, it's not disimilar and likely the end result would have been the same, but maybe just a longer time coming.
Chris Nelly
23. Aeryl
Really though, Megaduck, who does?
Vincent Lane
24. Aegnor
Great analysis Leigh.

I wouldn't say that Tyrion is really an oath breaker in this situation. It is kind of a blurry line though. I think at that point he had absolutely no expectations that Robb/Cat would take him up on the offer (especially after the rescue had fell through. He didn't think of himself as an oath-breaker because of the wedding, because to be an oath-breaker Robb/Cat would have had to release Jamie. He had no expectations that that would ever happen, much less that it already had.

I'm in the Axell is full of BS camp. But sometimes when people lie, they even lie to themselves and start believing their lies. I won't rule that out in this case. I certainly don't think it is an "authentic" vision like Stannis' and Melissandra's. It is obvious that Stannis' vision is of the Night's Watch at the Fist of the First Men. How would he know about that if it wasn't a real vision?
George Jong
25. IndependentGeorge
I also want to point out that in my Kindle edition of SOS, Davos accuses the Axell Florent of wanting to rape the windows of Claw Isle. I found that incredibly amusing.
26. Cass314
@3, @19

Edmure had no business trying to take on Tywin's host. His orders were to hold *Riverrun*, not the entirety of the Riverlands, so he marched his host out to take on a force nearly twice his size? What?

It's worth noting that it's completely unclear whether Edmure would have actually won that battle if Tywin hadn't received the message and immediately rode back to join with the Tyrells. Yes, Edmure managed to repel Clegane by committing his reserves--but Tywin far outnumbered Edmure, and there is no reason to think that Clegane was the main thrust of the attack. It's entirely possible--really, probable--that Clegane's assault was a ploy by Tywin to force Edmure to commit his reserves. After all, Tywin is a much more experienced commander than Edmure, and Brienne's opinion of Tywin's plan is that he will probably make smaller attacks to draw out and asess before making his main thrust. If this is true, Edmure could well have lost that battle anyway had Tywin not turned back to meet up with the Tyrells. So there are ultimately two reasons why taking on Tywin at Stone Mill was a really bad idea. Not just because of the things Edmure didn't know about Robb's plans, but because Edmure's job was to *hold Riverrun* and instead he went off to fight a long-odds battle against Tywin Lannister in an attempt to hold more land than ordered.
27. Gesar
Ok this is a personal theory but I really don't think that Edric's death would wake a dragon.

We've seen Mirri Maz Duur's death wake one, and it's possible that Daenerys's presence in the fire was necessary too. Mirri was a wife of the gods for the Lhazareen, and we all know of the Targaryen's links, establishing some sort of connection between the people *dying* and supernatural elements. The Baratheons had none of that. I think Melisandre read "royal blood" and thought "royal blood", when actually what was meant was "Targaryen blood".

I don't know if we're supposed to white out theories that Leigh hasn't had, feel free to do it if we should.
Deana Whitney
28. Braid_Tug
So much fixation on a king's body fluids!
First his "seed", now his "blood"!
Hope we never have to wonder what they want the King's bile for.

But I liked this part. Shows GRRM telling the audience one thing, while the charters know nothing.

The stone dragons were already woken with the blood of Dany’s husband and son. Kings in their own way. Too bad Mell’s fires don’t show her that one.
Chris Nelly
29. Aeryl
Yea, I always thought the king's blood that woke Dany's dragons was Drogo's.(Which demonstrates that MAGIC gets that there is more to being king than being born one).
30. Cass314

Baratheon blood does have Targ blood in it, though, twice over. Robert's and Stannis' grandmother was a Targ, and the house was founded by Aegon the Conqueror's bastard half brother.

There's another point I'd make, but it's spoilery. I'm making it as oblique as possible, but still, ASoS Spoilers. If you've finished ASoS, hilight below

This very scene is a good reason why we might think Edric's blood has some power.

Anyway, I'm not remotely convinced that Edric or anyone else Mel's been eyeing is "the droid she is looking for", but that doesn't mean that their blood doesn't have power in it.
George Jong
31. IndependentGeorge
@26 - It is a perfectly valid to say that the best defense of Riverrun is to not allow Tywin to get anywhere close to Riverrun in the first place. When faced with a superior force, it is much better to seize the initiative and attack its most vulnerable point (while trying to ford a river) than it is to give him time to cross and organize his troops. As Edric Storm notes, that's what Robert did during the rebellion - rather than sit back allow his enemies to gather and enclose him, he struck first and fought them off separately.

Even if Tywin breaks through, he would take heavy losses in the process, and Edmure is in no worse a situation than he was at the outset. The worst case scenario is that Edmure would have to withstand another siege at Riverrun, but against a considerably weakened Lannister force. Even if Tywin crosses, his forces will still be divided; it's a lot harder for him to pursue than it is for the Riverlords to withdraw.
32. Black Dread
"The truth is a bitter draught”

Stannis is a pretty unlikeable guy – but I admire his honesty. Most people are willing to delude themselves. I wonder how honest he is with himself over Melisandre.
33. Cass314
Aaaand....fuck. The spoiler hiding was there in the preview and now it's not. Can someone from The Powers That Be either spoiler my post #2 or just nuke from orbit?
George Jong
35. IndependentGeorge
@30, 33 - you just need to white it out again in the text box, even if it's already white in the preview. It took me forever to figure that out.
34. AllHailTheDragonQueen
@27 Whiteing out is for spoilers. Since your theory is about stuff that has already happened in the books and has no special knowledge in it, I think your good.

As for why Dany was able to hatch her eggs, there are a number of ways to look at it.

Mirri Mas Dur said death pays for life. Drogo had just died, their baby had just died, and Mirri was burned in the fire; three deaths for birthing three dragons.

Or if you go by Mellisandi's deal of royal blood, again Drogo was the khal, which is like a dorthraki king, then the baby who was son to the khal and the princess, and then Dany acting as a symbolical third sacrifice.

Or since the baby wasn't actually there at the fire, then the three sacrifices were Drogo, Mirri, and Dany again being the symbolic sacrifice; working for some other reason

As Martin has said he wanted the magic in his books to mysterious and cryptic.
36. FellKnight

Oh my. Oh my, my, my Leigh...

Jamie Watkins
37. Treesinger
I was always under the impression that the blood in the leeches was from Stannis. I don't know if we are told this later on or if I just assumed it. The amount of blood to wake a "stone dragon" would involve sacrificing the boy's live.
38. Gesar

I always felt that one of the things I learned in aCoK was that kings were just ordinary lords attempting to win the game of thrones. I mean we had a war of the five kings because five people decided they were the most valid candidate to get crowned. This had nothing to do with their blood or their magic... I find it weird that such a fickle notion as it was presented there could be used in magic spells.

But yeah I guess Drogo was there too, no idea how I couldn't remember that. So maybe Melisandre's interpretation is right and the status of king has something special... even though I really can't see what that thing would be.
Chris Nelly
39. Aeryl
@37, It's mentioned that they've been leeching Edric for whatever mysterious illness he has.
40. DougL
Mel's problem is that she has a lot of info, but is missing context. Dany's eggs were like stone, Khal Drogo was essentially a King, and his death was part of how she woke dragons from those stones.

Why Mel thinks there are any dragons to wake wherever she happens to be is a mystery to me.
41. jeanthesquare
@34: Those lines in post number 30 absolutely DO need to be whited out, because they hint quite strongly about events in aSoS that have not happened yet.
Amanda Martino
42. isismaat
Re: Tyrion and his promise. Two thoughts. One: keep in mind, Jaime hasn't arrived in King's Landing yet, so even if Tyrion had thought of his promise before his wedding to Sansa, he'd have no way of keeping it. Two: even if he'd mentioned that he'd promised to trade Sansa and Arya for Jaime to Tywin, do any of us really think Tywin would have gone for that? Sure, "the Kingslayer for two girls" is a great trade for the Lannisters (yes, I know Arya isn't there, so it's really Jaime for Sansa) but Jaime for nothing is even better, and who really would have been able to force Tywin to send back Sansa even if Jamie had made it to King's Landing at this point?
43. AllHailTheDragonQueen
@41 I'm not sure why you directed your post at me, as I was taking about post 27, not post 30. In fact, I would agree with you about the post 30 lines needing whiteing out, which as been done.

The post I was talking about was Dany's vs Melisandre's approach to waking dragons. Since we still don't know what happened that made Dany's fire work, I told the poster that there theory probrably didn't need any whiteing out. I was not talking about post 30 at all. In fact my post said if your talking about stuff that's already happend in the books and had no special knowledge in them, then the post is probably good.
44. Lsana
Regarding Varys and the "rot" in Aerys's court:

Yeah, the rot happened because Aerys was an entire string section short of an orchestra, but he may not have always been that way. Who's to say Varys (or someone) might not have given an Aerys a little push into the deep end?


I don't know where you get the idea that the reason the candidates of the War of Five Kings were seeking the throne "had nothing to do with their blood." Joff and Stannis both claim the throne because they claim to be the blood heir of the previous king. Robb and Balon both claim to be the blood heirs of earlier kingdoms. If you want to count Dany, she too is seeking the throne because of her blood. Of all the potential kings, only Renly tried to dismiss the claims of blood (and note his dismissal was remarkably self-serving). Blood is everything in this series.


Here's the thing about Tyrion's promise, though: it was made in open court, meaning all of the Lannister allies and all the neutral parties heard the offer. Whether Tyrion ever imagined it would be accepted or not, it's still very real. If the Lannisters break it, if they get Jaime back and refuse to return Sansa, that hurts them in all future negotiations. They announce the world that they can't be trusted, and they have a very difficult time every exchanging hostages again.

I agree that the reason Tyrion didn't bring it up at the time was because he'd never thought it would be accepted, and so he just forgot about it, but what he did was still a pretty big deal.
Amanda Martino
45. isismaat
@44 - Oh, I agree, it's a very real promise. However, regardless of whether Tyrion actually intended to keep it originally, he can't currently; Jaime isn't in King's Landing (although Catelyn doesn't know that, hence her anger at Tyrion for breaking his word). I do also wonder if Tyrion didn't bring it up as an objection to his marriage to Sansa (as Leigh wondered) because he knew Tywin would just dismiss it. No, that doesn't make it right, but I don't know that I wouldn't sympathise with Tyrion wanting to spare himself another lecture from Tywin about how "unworthy" he was for making that promise.
46. Gesar
@44, what I'm saying is that the difference between a king's blood and a lord's blood is only a difference in perception, not in quality, and that is a problem when waking the dragons requires "royal blood".

A bloodline matters in how a king is viewed, with obvious legitimacy factors and all, but it doesn't matter that much in how a king is made. You point that out yourself when you speak of Renly: if it serves you to look at bloodlines, then you look at bloodlines. If it doesn't, then you don't. A magic spell requiring "royal blood" seems doomed in its design, especially if we count a Khal as a king. If Drogo loses a battle and dies, his heirs aren't growing up to be khal-kings anymore. So basically every dothraki bloodline must carry royal blood, because anyone beating Drogo gets to be king. To counter that you have to theorize that something in a man's blood is altered from a magical standpoint when he becomes king, and even that doesn't really work cause you have to define at what point of kingmaking your blood becomes royal.

On the other hand, if "royal blood" means "Targaryen blood", a whole lot less explaining is needed, especially given the historical link between Targs and dragons. And yes, I had forgotten that Edric has a drop of Targ blood in him, so maybe the spell could still work with him, but that would merely be a coincidence: that's not why Melisandre is aiming for him.
47. argilac's antler
Re: king's blood. Perhaps its something that the gods bless upon that particular king. Kahl Drogo for instance worshipped the Great Stallion and paid tribute to him by living the dothraki way (fighting, killing, raping, theiving, etc). Drogo proved himself a king by the way he lived and commanded respect of this people. As a token of gratitude, the Great Stallion blessed him and acknowledged him as a king.

This, of course, can only make sense if the gods (either of them) are actually real in some way. That I'm not so sure, but it's a somewhat logical explanation... or we all just have too much time on our hands and are severly overthinking it.
Chris Nelly
48. Aeryl
@40 DougL, I always thought Mel was in Dragonstone because it was the ancestral home of the Targs in Westeros, and her flames show her Stannis, and since he is lord where the Targs ruled, she is making assumptions. I wonder how much Mel knows about the history in Westeros? Is she even aware that the Valyrian descendant Targs are no longer in power?
49. Zizoz
Personally, I don't have a problem with the idea that king's blood has magical properties, and that a person's blood might gain these properties upon them becoming a king. It's magic, not science, after all.

I also disagree about comment 27. I think it should be whited out. It's best to be very cautious about spoilers, and in this case one could guess from the comment that (hopefully the white-text works)Edric does not end up being sacrificed, or there would be no speculation possible.
50. Zizoz
Nope, it didn't work. Mods, could you white that out?
51. Gesar
@49 I'm all for caution but with that logic we should white out comment #47, as it implies that by the end of aDwD, we still don't know for sure whether the gods of Westeros are real or not... and so on. If anything, your post makes mine spoilery by emphasizing that there's something to guess from it.

The reason I was talking about spoilers & theories is that R+L=J or Renly & Loras aren't spoilers per se, people were already discussing these way before aSoS. Yet obviously everyone agrees that we shouldn't speak about that here.
52. o.m.
@27, when it comes to waking dragons, there might be a slight difference betweeen hatching three dragon's eggs (seemingly barren but clearly the real thing) and animating the stone statue of a dragon from Dragonstone. Unless Dragonstone contains real eggs somewhere, and that would be news to me.

@48, the wild speculation above could explain why Mel went with the lord of Dragonstone. Or she thought he was most receptive to her new religion.

@17, remember the size of the place. Sending scouts out and back is going to take months or years if they can't use inns as staging posts. We have seen a couple of interminable treks across small parts of the map.
Birgit F
53. birgit
Stannis is like Galad in WoT. They both try to do the right thing, even when nobody else wants them to. Both have a problem when there is a choice between two "right" things.
54. Tenesmus
"..magical spell sauce." **snort**
Steven Halter
55. stevenhalter
Chapter 36: Davos--Hopefully Stannis won't be cutting more bits off of Davos. Ser Axell is also claiming to be prophetic--interesting how it seems to benefit him, though. Doesn't seem like a trustworthy sort.
Ah, Davos is now Lord and the new Hand--interesting. Sounds like Mel wants to sacrifice the boy. Well, that was an interesting end. It looks as though Stannis has just cursed Robb, Joffrey and Balon Greyjoy.
56. Nessa
Yay! Davos becomes Stannis' hand. Awesome decree on Stannis' part, though of course, then he turns around and sacrifices Edric's blood for Mel's creepy ritual. Stannis is a man of contradictions.

@53: Stannis is a little more complicated than that though. I think he has both Galad and Gawyn in him. He tries to always do the "right" thing like Galad, but he also has this inferiority-complex when it comes to his brothers, that can make him a little hypocritical (like we can see here with his resentment of Edric Storm). It's part of why I don't completely believe Stannis when he says all he wants is to do his duty. He wants more than that. He wants to be loved and respected, like his two (rather more charismatic) brothers were. I wouldn't be surprised if his desire to be king isn't at least partly based on a wish to finally get what he feels may be his due.
Vincent Lane
57. Aegnor
The way to white out text is to:

1) Make your post (don't bother to white out anything) and hit the Preview Comment button.
2) White out the spoiler text in the preview window.
3) Post
Chris Nelly
58. Aeryl
@56, I agree with you, I definitely think there's a little too much protest in Stannis when he says he doesn't want to be king.
Steven Halter
59. stevenhalter
Aeryl@58:Yes, the whole I just have to be king line does ring a bit untrue. What if the prophecy said he just had to be a cleaner of pig pens?
60. argilac's antler
Well, to be fair, Stannis is a man who values the Law above all things. Its the Law that dictates Stannis become king, not whatever prophecy Mel is spreading. He's using that prophecy and her power as a means to an end. The Law is what matters here.

Although I would have to agree that there is probably some deep desire to be respected and possibly loved much like his brothers, but I think when it really comes down to it its about the Law. I think Stannis is a man who would rather be a hated rightful king than a beloved false king.
Corkryn Williams
61. MadCow21
Strictly speaking, since Robert was a usurper, the Law actually dictates that Dany is the rightful heir, not Stannis. His convenient refusal to acknowledge that particular fact puts paid to the notion that Stannis is only in the Game because of duty and casts his commission of fratricide in an even more despicable light.
George Jong
62. IndependentGeorge
@61 - The Kindoms were formed by conquest, and the Targaryens lost by conquest. One dynasty replaced the other, and Stannis is the rightful heir to Robert's crown.
63. argilac's antler
@61. Not so. Like the 1st Aegon Targaryen, Robert Baratheon won the right to be king by conquest. The term usurper is biased depending on what side you're looking at it from. Should Aegon the Conqueror be called usurper as well since he did, you know, usurp 6 kings?

Others could call Robert a hero for ending the Mad King's reign, and he has proven himself capable--in the eyes of the realm--of stablizing peace across the seven kingdoms much like Aegon did (although in Robert's case, it was mostly Jon Arryn's doing). As far as Stannis knows or cares, Daenarys is a little girl lost across the Narrow Sea. And if she does ever return, she will have to prove herself worthy to the task through war, just as her ancestor did before her, just as Robert did, just like Renly tried, and just like Balon and Robb are trying now.

In this Westerosi world of violence, conquest is a legit form of earning your keep. Power goes to the powerful. Robert Baratheon was the last true king of Westeros, so his immediate heir should take his place upon the Iron Throne. That's the law.

Readers who favor Daenarys will say she's the rightful heir because she's a Targaryen and blood of the first kings who forged the seven kingdoms into one. But then readers who favor Robb Stark will say with the Targaryens gone, it should return to the old way: each kingdom for itself. Who's right and who's wrong? No one, really. That's the beauty of it because it forces us to think about it morally. Forget morals, the law is clear.
64. argilac's antler
@62. Ahhhh, you said what I was trying to but much shorter and more straight to the point...and beat me to it while I was typing away. =]
Bill Stusser
65. billiam
@ 62 & 63

That's not exactly true, Robert did not win the throne by conquest. He won a war by conquest, he got the throne because other than Viserys and Dany who had fled Westeros, house Baratheon had the most Targ blood and he was the oldest male of his house.

I'm not saying that Robert was not the rightful king or that Dany should be queen or anything. It's just that a lot of people seem to think that he took the throne by force and that's not necessarily right.
66. argilac's antler
@65. Then why was there even a conversation about who should be king after the war was over? Robert's lineage was only something they that would help solidify his kingship. Other suggested Eddard Stark, and if that was the case then yes you can say the throne was won via conquest. Whether it was Robert or Ned or somebody else that became king, the Targaryens were still overthrown. Overthrown = conquest. How is that not clear?
Corkryn Williams
67. MadCow21
The point stands that championing his own claim by primogeniture and denying the claim of the Lannisters (who conquered his forces on the Blackwater and were thus apparently granted rule by conquest), while simultaneously denying Dany's claim by primogeniture and accepting his brother's rule by conquest makes him twice a hypocrite. He's not principled at all.
George Jong
68. IndependentGeorge
@67 - Robert didn't fight the war because he had Targaryen lineage, or ever claim that he was the rightful heir because of it. The Stark/Baratheon/Arryn/Tully alliance won the war by conquest, and settled on Robert as the King because his bloodlines made his ascension the least disruptive to the realm. It's the same reason Sansa's claim to Winterfell is so important; no matter what, the north will have to be claimed by conquest, but marrying a Stark heir will solidify the succession. //Likewise, Gemma's reasoning on the Darry & Tully holdings in FFC; they won the territory by conquest, but holding it depends on political maneuvering where bloodlines still matter.//

Joffrey's claim is based on the lie that he is Robert's trueborn son, and not because Lannisters are the richest and most powerful house who can win through conquest. Likewise, the Tyrells know this to be a lie (Olenna, at the very least), but maintain the fiction to support their own claim to the throne. Having won on the Blackwater, the Lannisters could easily claim the crown by rights of conquest now, but they don't, precisely because it would throw their political alliances into turmoil. Jaime is the only person to advocate doing just that (in his fantasies about marrying Cersei). Maybe he's right that they could hold the throne afterwards, but the point is, until they actually attempt to do so, the Lannisters aren't claiming rights of conquest.

There's nothing hypocritical or contradictary about Stannis' claim. Robert won the crown fairly, and he's Robert's heir. Robb is likewise claiming the North and the Riverlands by conquest, and he opposes Robb for precisely that reason. The Targaryens are out of the story and don't matter; if Dany wants the crown, she will have to claim it by conquest, not birthright. //There's even a moment in DWD where she unwittingly concedes that the Targaryens gave up all claim to Westeros when they fled, even if she doesn't realize it at the time.//
69. argilac's antler
@68. Why does it feel you're the only one making sense? It's why I tend to stay away from ASOIAF fan forums. At times I wonder if I'm even reading the same books as them. For now, I'll avoid the comments section and just stick to Leigh's article.
Rob Munnelly
70. RobMRobM
@69 - C'mon, stick around. Looking forward to your contributions as we get into some fun chapters coming up.

George Jong
71. IndependentGeorge

Also, if you haven't changed any of your own long-held opinions about anything in the books, then either (a) you're a genius who's never wrong about anything, ever, or (b) you aren't paying enough attention to opposing viewpoints. No offense intended, but I'm guessing that (b) is more likely.

There are plenty of theories/opinions I frankly roll my eyes at, but you have to be willing to give them a fair shake before writing them off. Heck, I spent a long time firmly in the opposite camp of the Stannis debate; I only grudgingly came around to his side later, on my second reading. You learn a lot from honest debate, but only if you're willing to examine your own positions with the same skepticism that you do towards others.
72. argilac's antler
@71. I agree with you, and there have been plenty of times I've read someone else's theory and had to do the V8 head thump because they've made many things clearer. But then there are an enormous amount of speculations and theories I come across that frankly I cannot see for the life of me where in the text they come from.

I've always been biased towards Stannis Baratheon because like the middle child myself, I'm quite stubborn and have a tendency for doing things "by-the-book." But that doesn't blind me to the fact, as how you said the Baratheon dyanasty overthrew the Targaryen dynasty, and since the Baratheons were the most recent rulers (and technically current since Joffery's claiming to be Robert's true son and shares his last name), then how can other people who've read the books and know he's a bastard not see that Stannis is the rightful heir? It just erks me, is all.

I mean sure, Daenarys is the rightful heir ... to the Targaryen dynasty. But they haven't been in power for what, 13/15 years?

At Blackwater, Stannis was defeated and as was mentioned, the Lannisters could now claim the Iron Throne via conquest but they havent. They're choosing to stick with a lie. And as long as Stannis still lives, he will keep fighting to claim what was rightfully his (as Daenarys means to do), the only difference between them is Stannis is fighting for his right as Robert's heir, while Dany wants to fight for the right as her father's heir.

When I push that Stannis is the true heir, I'm speaking currently, and currently the Baratheon name is the one in power. The past can be debated for all eternity, as I mentioned that even Aegon could be considered a usurper to the Starks, Lannisters, Gardeners, Storm Kings, etc and in that case who would then be the rightful heirs? Like I said before as well, its all point-of-view and no one is 100% right or wrong when you take the entire history of Westeros.

Have fun, guys. IG, nice name btw! Made me laugh once I got the reference.
Deana Whitney
73. Braid_Tug
Sorry, real life history lesson again.

William "the Conquer" of England (1066). Came to England because he claimed King Edward had promised him the thrown upon his death (had no sons). The envoy who sent the message, Harold Godwinson. But then Edward died, and the English Earls promoted Harold to the throne (he was the brother to Edward’s queen, and a powerful man).

There was no blood connection here between the King or either of his “heirs.”
Harold was voted because “they like me!”
William and his family held by right of conquest.

Direct male line only ruled 88 years, then a family off shoot from the girls side took over in civil war, and the Plantagenet line was crowned.
Then 3oo years passed, and the Plantagenet’s cousins (Lancaster and York) started fighting – for 30 years. Then, Henry Tudor married Elizabeth of York. Thus the two houses became one.

500 years later, GRRM inspired to write AsoFaI.
Robert and Cersei wed. A "Conquer" and the daughter of the former Hand to the original King. Her wealth, this marriage, and the Earls “liking” Robert help stabilize the country.
The Targs were out. Children on the throne are bad in times of disruption. Family lost to a new “Conquer” line.

New King (or Queen) in Westeros is going to be by a conquest. There is no voting here, and the blood claims are all too muddy or weak. Might made right years ago on this world (sometimes still does) and Might makes Right in Westeros.
George Jong
74. IndependentGeorge
The thing is, the entire debate gets at the heart of SOIAF: what constitutes the 'rightful' king? Is there even such a thing?

We tend to compare Westeros to medieval Europe based on the setting, but I think that the society is actually even more primitive than that. They have medieval technology social structure, but the actual governance is pure tribalism. There are traditions and social mores, but no formal legal codes (at least, nonbe that I can see). What passes for law comes down to whatever the tribal chief determines it should be.

Stannis' claim is based on medieval primogeniture, and his coronation would largely validate that theory. Renly's claim is based on the tribal system of brokering support from other clan chiefs. The Lannisters pay lip service to the medieval system, but in fact practice the tribal system - as does most of Westeros. Dany's claim is a strict royalist theory that argues that only the Targaryens can truly rule Westeros, ever. It's basically a divine mandate which I just can't ever bring myself to support, even in a fantasy setting, but it's no less valid a theory for governance than the other two.

The point is, I don't think there really is a right answer here. I support Stannis because I believe in the medieval system in this context, but I can't say definiteively that is the 'correct' one.

I think the more interesting hypothetical is what would have happened if Tommen was Robert's trueborn son? I would guess Stannis would support Tommen against his brother, but from an outside perspective, that seems every bit as self-serving as claiming the throne for himself. Cersei would necessarily be guilty of treason, and Stannis the logical choice to be Regent in her place. How big of a clusterfuck would it be if Renly then tried to claim Regency in Tommen's name? Since it's not a strictly hereditary position, Renly would likely gain sizeable support for it, and the question then is whether Stannis would support his younger brother for a higher position, even if they're technically on the same side (supporting Tommen over Joffrey)?
Deana Whitney
75. Braid_Tug
IG, now that, would be a real "fun" problem.
Joffery the bastard (literally, not just attitude), and Tommen trueborn.

Who would Grandpa T support?
Nisheeth Pandey
76. Nisheeth
@74, IndependentGeorge:
About Stannis, I think that if what he says to Davos, then he would support Renly. Aftereall, he says he doesn't want Kingship, only to do his duty.

@75, Braid_Tug:
Now that is an interesting question. If Stannis or Renly (or someone else) could prove that Tommen is the lgitimate heir, and not Joffery, he might support Tommen, if it makes his position stronger.
Otherwise, he most likely will support Joffery, while claiming the others claims as being very convinieny lies (similar to how Cercei responds to Stannis letter).
George Jong
77. IndependentGeorge
I think Stannis grudgingly supports Renly as regent, but grinds his teeth into tiny little nubs and kveches about it nonstop for the next forty years.

I think there's no way in hell Tywin publicly admits Joffrey is illegitimate or that Cersei committed treason, and backs him against all claimants, even Tommen. Even if Cersei and Jaime confess to him in private, I don't think he would never accept it publicly.
Bill Stusser
78. billiam
@ 66

I agree with you that Robert was the rightful king and since his sons were not his true born sons that Stannis is the rightful king. I never said otherwise.

All I was trying to point out is that while the king's house was overthrown through conquest that wasn't the entire basis for why Robert became king. Robert became king when a bunch of lords sat around after the war was over trying to decide who had the best claim to the Iron Throne. The fact that they had to have this discussion, as you pointed out, makes it clear that it wasn't as simple as: well Robert led the rebellion that overthrew the old king so Robert is the new king. They needed something more than that to legitimize the new king's reign. That's all I was trying to say.
Nisheeth Pandey
79. Nisheeth
@77, IndependentGeorge:
I think he would admit it publically if someone else was able to prove absolutely that Joffery was illegitimate. And only if he could use that to save Cercei and Joffery, even if it means throwing them off the throne.
80. Dan the Stannis man
Stannis is the man, and your dislike is unwarranted. The fact that a guy like Davos sees him as righteous is a major indicator that he is a good guy, albeit a totally gruff and not cuddly at all good guy.
81. Cannoli
In response to #80 and the overall post, it is not so much that Martin likes pulling the rug, as Leigh was completely and totally blinded by her viciously anti-religious perspective. Setting aside how essential religion
(both Christianity and Islam) was to the survival and growth of western civilization and how inherently a part of the medieval mindset it is, Leigh is also revealing her own ignorance by identifying Rhollor as a Christianity analogue (and implying a mentality of "I hate it, therefore it's a Judeo-Christian equivalence), when if there is ANY real world source or influence, it is Manichean. Which is doubly surprising, considering all the WoT references she drops, and the similarity of Melisandre's cosmology to that of the Dark One/Creator dichotomy of Jordan's creation.

Stannis is not remotely out of character in this chapter, and this runs very much along with the portrayl of him in Maester Cressen's recollections, and his prior conference with Davos when he assigned him to take Melisandre on a boat ride. But if you are so reflexively anti-religion that you automatically lash out against any character remotely featuring religious beliefs...yeah, that's how you miss that stuff. See also her comments on the Hound-Beric duel. Tragic childhood or not, Sandor is outspokenly unapologetic about being a just-following-orders killing machine, whereas Dondarrion and Thoros were sent out to arrest a guy for butchering peasants, and have been fighting a guerrilla war since, where their grassroots support is far to widespread among the people and across the class lines as well - knights and ladies support them too. Even their captivity of Arya is rather benevolent. Meanwhile, no mention is made of the atrocities against the clergy and faithful perpetrated by northmen who seem to share Leigh's disdain for organized religion. But because of the huge blindspot going on thanks to her (dare I say fanatical) distaste for religion, she roots for the guy who slaughters children on specious "just following orders" justifications over the champions of the people and protectors of the weak, because they happen to have religion.

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