Thu
Jun 6 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 31

Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 31 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 53 (“Tyrion”).

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 Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread in the forums 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 53: Tyrion

What Happens
Tyrion is irritated that the Martells have already been starting brawls with the Tyrells, despite his efforts to keep them separate, and tries not to take it out on Sansa, who takes his complaints about dinner as slights against herself. He offers to go with her to the godswood for her (excessive, in his view) devotions, but she begs off, saying he would be bored. He agrees, and she leaves.

He tries to make sense of Littlefinger’s financial accounts, with little success, until Tywin summons him. He finds his father with Cersei, Joffrey, Kevan, and Pycelle, all of whom are looking suspiciously happy. Tywin gives him a letter from Walder Frey, which reads “Roslin caught a fine fat trout. Her brothers gave her a pair of wolf pelts for her wedding.” Tyrion thinks of Sansa, no doubt praying for her family’s safety, and observes that kings are “falling like leaves this autumn.” Tywin warns them not to be complacent, but Cersei protests that the river lords will surely sue for peace now that they no longer have the northmen to support them.

Tywin agrees that eventually they will all bend the knee, but has instructed Gregor to put Harrenhal to the sword and get rid of the Brave Companions. Joffrey declares that they should all be put to the sword, and tells Pycelle to send for Robb Stark’s head, so that he may serve it to Sansa at his wedding and “make her kiss it.” Tyrion tells him no, and calls him a monster, but Joffrey replies that Tyrion is the monster. Tyrion answers that Joffrey should be more careful of him then, considering the attrition rate of kings these days. Joffrey is incensed, but Tywin silences him and Cersei both, and tells Joffrey that he must accept when his enemies surrender, otherwise no one will ever surrender to him, something Aerys never understood.

Joffrey, surprisingly, challenges Tywin, claiming he was scared of Aerys, that his father Robert won all the battles while Tywin hid at Casterly Rock, and that a true king must be bold. Tywin ignores him and “suggests” that Joffrey be sent to bed. Kevan and Pycelle leave, taking Joffrey with them, and Cersei tries to apologize to Tywin about Joffrey’s “willfulness,” but Tywin tells her there is a difference between “willful” and “stupid.” He wants to know where Joffrey got this “a king must be bold” thing from, and Cersei and Tyrion agree it must have been from Robert. Tywin says he did not fight a war to seat “Robert the Second” on the throne. Cersei insists that Joffrey cared nothing for Robert, nor Robert for him, and Tywin dismisses her, to her fury. Tyrion opines that Joffrey is not Robert the Second, but rather “Aerys the Third.” Tywin says Joffrey is young yet, and can still be taught.

Tyrion sarcastically congratulates Tywin on the Frey affair, and Tywin tells him there was no need for Tyrion to have known about it beforehand, considering how much Tyrion talks. Tyrion suggests that Tywin should have let Joffrey cut out his tongue, then, and Tywin says not to tempt him. They discuss the Martells; Tywin is upset that “half-mad” Oberyn is here instead of his brother, and reveals to Tyrion that Oberyn had tried to declare for Viserys once. Tyrion suggests that they introduce Oberyn to “his” brothels, and Tywin is not amused.

Tyrion is shocked to learn that Tywin does not in fact plan to give Gregor Clegane’s head to Oberyn after all, and instead plans to insist that Ser Amory Lorch (who is already dead) killed Elia and her children. Tywin insists that the deaths had been necessary to assure Robert of the Lannisters’ loyalty, though he claims that the rape and murder of Elia had not been his idea, but rather a result of Gregor’s over-enthusiasm. He moves on to the Starks, and similarly claims Robb and Catelyn’s blood is on Walder Frey’s hands, not his. Tyrion counters that Frey would never have done such a thing without the promise of protection, and Tywin says the price was cheap: Riverrun will go to Emmon Frey once the Blackfish yields, there will be marriages between Freys and Lannisters, and Roose Bolton is to become Warden of the North and marry Arya Stark to his bastard son.

Startled, Tyrion protests that Arya Stark is surely dead, and Tywin replies cryptically that “so was Renly, until the Blackwater,” and that perhaps Littlefinger has succeeded where Tyrion failed. He says Tyrion’s son by Sansa will inherit the north, provided Tyrion ever manages to father one.

“Lest you forget, it is not only Joffrey who must needs take a maidenhead.”

I had not forgotten, though I’d hoped you had. “And when do you imagine Sansa will be at her most fertile?” Tyrion asked his father in tones that dripped acid. “Before or after I tell her how we murdered her mother and her brother?”

Commentary
My God, but the Lannisters talk too much. Barb, barb, needle, needle, infodump, cryptic insinuation, barb. It’s like Small Talk 101 as taught in the ninth circle of Hell. Sheesh.

I have no idea, for instance, what Tywin’s remark about Renly means, especially as related to the possible deadness or aliveness of Arya Stark. Seriously, what the hell? Is this supposed to suggest Tywin knew something about Stannis and Melisandre’s magical shadow baby assassination stunt? Because, if so, I repeat: the hell?

Or maybe he’s just talking shit in order to make it seem like he knows everything, which I certainly wouldn’t put past him. Of course, I wouldn’t put much anything past a man who writes off the rape and murder of a queen as a mildly regrettable clerical error. You gotta love it (not): he’s all, oh yeah, maybe I should have mentioned to my jackbooted thug not to kill her, oopsie. Wow.

Meanwhile Joffrey continues to be as huggable as ever. But forget it, you little asswart: Walder Frey is going to be holding first place as Supreme Diarrheic Shit Sack of Syphilitic Dickheads for the foreseeable future, so you’re going to have to try a lot harder than that to unseat him. Though I am infinitely assuaged (not) by the assurance that Joffrey will do his level best to do so.

God, these people.

[Tywin:] “Explain to me why it is more noble to kill ten thousand men in battle than a dozen at dinner.”

Yeah, the fact that you even have to ask that question, Tywin, is why you are an utter psychopath, and probably one of the scarier characters in this entire series—which is a position that has a LOT of competition.

Although (and this is the very epitome of finding the silver lining, y’all), I suppose there is some hope in that psychopaths seem to tend toward the conviction that There Can Only Be One, and so at the very least we can root for when Tywin finally gets fed up with Jockstrap Jr.’s shit and dropkicks him off the nearest parapet. At which time I will throw a fucking rave in celebration. Seriously, if Tywin kills Joffrey I will give him a pass on at least 75% of the horrific shit he’s done, just for the service he will have done Westeros. And my blood pressure.

This is assuming that Tyrion doesn’t beat Tywin to it, of course. At which point it won’t be a rave, but rather a full-on Royal Masquerade Ball. Because hey, at this point regicide is the actual fashion trend this season; must keep up with the Joneses, n’est-ce pas? Gotta kill ’em all!

I was a little amused that Tyrion was surprised to discover that Tywin doesn’t plan on following through with the Martell deal, because c’mon, Tyrion, you’re usually a pretty astute dude. Why are you remotely shocked that your father Hannibal Tywin is going to renege on the deal rather than give up such a lovely tool of destruction as Gregor Clegane? I would have seen that coming a mile away… if, er, I had remembered that this whole deal was even happening in the first place.

In my defense, the events of last week have had me a little DISTRACTED.

*throws book against wall*

In other news, I have no idea whether to be terrified that Tyrion is going to find out what Sansa is really doing in the godswood. I mean, I suppose on general principle I am, because Tyrion is going to be in all kinds of deep shit if he manages to misplace his bride and he knows it, but at the same time I can’t help but hope that he would ultimately be sympathetic to her determination to get the fuck away from all of these assholes, including himself, and maybe even help her do it.

However, we’ve all learned about what hope gets us in this story, haven’t we.

*picks up book and throws it against wall again*

Speaking of the giant bowl of shit that was the Red Wedding, I was a little startled to discover that, according to Tywin, anyway, Edmure Tully is still alive. And… well. I thought Sansa and Tyrion’s “honeymoon” was the worst on record, but I’m betting Edmure’s is going to take the gold on that score. Jesus.

And, yeah. Rather than move on just yet, I think I need to retreat to a more meta place for a moment, and do a little more thinking on the Red Wedding and its implications as a whole.

One aspect of the assassination mentioned in the comments to the last post which intrigued me was that Robb’s death, besides being a demonstration to the nth degree of the adage “no good deed goes unpunished,” was also a subversion of the fantasy trope of the boy king. In so many stories (going all the way back to King Arthur and beyond), the boy king is depicted as a godsend and a savior to his kingdom, when historically they are nearly universally disastrous as rulers, for reasons which are screamingly obvious once you consider the basic psychology of such a situation. I mean, we have ample evidence of how bad it nearly always goes when child actors become rich and famous, so how much more worse must it be for a child to be told that he/she is supreme ruler of all they survey, and (depending on the culture) are mandated as such by the gods?

So I definitely see that, and appreciate it, even as I feel compelled to point out that even with all the mistakes Robb made, he was still (in my opinion) doing better than many of his rivals. And granted, that may be damning with faint praise when you consider that freakin’ Joffrey is in the mix, but still. (Joffrey, I feel, is not so much a deconstruction of the boy king trope as he is an argument that there are some people who are just born Wrong, and that’s all there is to it.)

Still doesn’t justify Catelyn’s death, though.

Beyond that, I’ve had a lot of people tell me in the past week, in the comments to the last post and elsewhere, that the Red Wedding was where they gave up on the series, or at least lost a lot of interest in it. And since by a totally unplanned coincidence, the corresponding episode of the TV series happened to fall within the same week, I’ve heard by proxy that a lot of the viewers of the show felt the same way. (The Twitter feed of reactions someone linked me to was, I confess, hilarious.) And concurrent to that, there’s been, I feel, a certain amount of curiosity as to whether I would feel the same.

Now obviously there’s a little bit of mitigating circumstances here, because I, unlike most people, am sort of contractually obligated to carry on reading the series regardless of whether I want to or not. And I’m not going to lie, that definitely has a little bit of influence. However, that being said, I… think that I would have kept on regardless.

I can’t be absolutely sure of that, because obviously I’ve never read a series this way before, but I think it’s so. However upset and betrayed I felt at the events at Edmure’s wedding, it’s still the case that the characters I feel most strongly connected to (which are, at this moment, Jon, Arya, and Tyrion) are still alive, and that I still want to see what happens to them.

Therefore, I have yet to utter the Eight Deadly Words (don’t click that) when it comes to ASOIAF. And given the overall excellence of the writing and worldbuilding, I feel pretty safe in asserting that even having thrown the book against the wall, metaphorically and, er, physically, I would still have gone ahead and picked it up again even if I weren’t contracted to do so.

Not to mention, I still want to see what happens to other, somewhat less personally beloved characters as well, like Dany, Bran, and Brienne. And yes, even Jaime, though I have a theory now that the readers’ love for Jaime Lannister (and the commenters’ not-so-subtle conviction that I will come to love him too) owes perhaps rather a lot to the simple attrition of characters we were all originally rooting for. And sassy snark, as we all know, often goes a lot further for garnering recipients’ sympathy for a character than it sometimes ought to, and sassy snark is something Jaime Lannister possesses in spades.

It is sometimes scary how much we will forgive a character who makes us laugh.

But anyway, to sum up: the Red Wedding was (obviously) an extremely upsetting episode for me, and I’m pretty sure I have not even come close to absorbing all of the ramifications of what happened there, but as of right now, it was not a dealbreaker, personally speaking.

We shall see if that continues to be the case.


And that’s what I got for this one, my chickies! Be well, and I will see you next week!

101 comments
Stefan Mitev
1. Bergmaniac
Renly's ghost (or at least someone who looked like Renly) appeared at the Blackwater battle, that's the point of his mention.

Tywin's "dozen at a wedding" is a blatant lie as usual since thousands died at the Red Wedding - mostly the soldiers in the tents outside.
Chris Nelly
2. Aeryl
It's everyone believed Renly was dead, until they didn't. Tywin's saying that everyone believes Arya's dead, until they don't.
TG12
3. TG12
It is super awesome that you managed to get the Red Wedding read done just before the TV 'splosion blew up the Internet, because, good as you've been at avoiding spoilers, I'm not sure how you could have avoided said 'splosion, short of going into an isolation chamber. So yay! for fortuitious timing....

Also, yes the Lannisters talk a lot, but I always found those sessions, whether just Tyrion & Cersei, or with inclusion of Tywin and Joffrey, as here, to be popcorn-munchin' fun, just for all the bubbling cross-currents of resentment, piss'n'vinegar, dominance games, with a thick layer of snark. Good times, good times.

Hold on to your hat, though. There is still plenty of awesome left to go in this volume.
Marty Beck
4. martytargaryen
Great post, Leigh, and thank you for expanding on your personal Red Wedding fallout.
TG12
5. OtherAndrew
I'm going to try to make the case why Catelyn had to die. First, she and her son played the game of thrones and lost. From the time she embarked on her well-meaning but extremely misguided kidnapping of Tyrion in Book 1, she had made eternal enemies of some very powerful and ruthless people. While she truly loved her children and often gave shrewd and accurate advice, she never displayed the level of intelligence and pragmatism one would need to triumph over Tywin Lannister -- for instance, she chose her family over the war effort when she released Jaime, which led directly to the Karstark debacle.

Second, note Tywin's comment in this chapter -- the Freys actually intended to keep Catelyn hostage. But Catelyn would not passively submit to capture. She made one last desperate gambit to try and save Robb, and when it failed resorted to the ruthless and desperate act of killing Jinglebell Frey in revenge. In a tragic way, she is going out on her own terms, making her own choices, rather than just surviving as a hostage.

Third, the old Starks have to fall so the younger Starks can (hopefully, eventually) rise.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
owes perhaps rather a lot to the simple attrition of characters we were all originally rooting for.

This may be the case with some people, but I fell for Jaime WAY before I ever knew about the RW.

Also, for anyone interested watch GRRM watch RW reactions.
TG12
7. davidl303
Loras dressed up in Renly's armour for the battle of Blackwater so that people believed it was Renly coming to the rescue.

Tywin is saying people believe what they are told and if you can't get the real thing an imposter will do.

Westeros it seems doesn't have any conspiracy theorists.
(Roll over text to read)
Adam S.
8. MDNY
God, Joffrey is such a little shit. Though by himself he wouldn’t be that dangerous, he’s too much of an idiot. With Cersei, and more importantly Tywin, supporting him, he’s in a good position. Without them, he would destroy the whole 7 kingdoms with his rage and greed.
And speaking of shits, Roose Bolton as Warden of the North? Yeah, the rest of the North will just lie down and let that happen. Don’t the Lannisters realize that the Starks have commanded the North for 8,000 years? 8,000! How can they believe people would just accept those flaying bastards usurping that?
It is very ironic that Tywin is now commanding his son to have sex. Quite a switch from the theme of their relationship for most of the series.
Melanie DeJulis
9. Shonagon
davidl303 @7 I think that could be interpreted as a spoiler? And in any case, I'm pretty sure it's actually incorrect.
TG12
10. Black Dread
davidl303 is incorrect for the book.

Leigh's A Clash of Kings, Part 29 Re-Read has the scene that Tywin is referring to.
TG12
11. Cass3
@7 Nope. (It was him in the show, but it happened differently in the book.) (Roll over to read)
TG12
12. Perfidious Algernon
@ 9 & 10: Just barely. I'm pretty sure it was Garlan. (Roll over to read).
TG12
13. Ivan T. W.
Due to the TV show, I've had to go over my argument a few times now, but I never understood why anyone would stop reading the series after the Red Wedding. You're three books invested by that point, why wouldn't you want to finish it? The series is obviously a tragedy, just because of that fact doesn't make it unreadable. I think the problem is that people still look at the series like some sort of genre exercise, when it's been a huge deconstruction almost since chapter one. I was talking to a friend who was saying he was still expecting a happy ending, which I think at this point is ridiculous, I'd say a King Lear-style ending where everyone's dead is more expected. But Lear is still the best play Shakespeare wrote, and ASoIaF is still the best fantasy series I've read, and I'd say that it's that willingness to embrace tragedy that makes it so. Ned was doomed from the start, Robb was doomed from the start, and since Robb was doomed that meant that Cat was too. If anything I think it makes the books stronger.
Church Tucker
14. Church
I've never understood people who give up after the RW. It's not like he killed everybody, and unless Robb or Cat were the only people you cared about why wouldn't you keep reading.?
Sara H
15. LadyBelaine
"I have no idea, for instance, what Tywin’s remark about Renly means, especially as related to the possible deadness or aliveness of Arya Stark. Seriously, what the hell? Is this supposed to suggest Tywin knew something about Stannis and Melisandre’s magical shadow baby assassination stunt? Because, if so, I repeat: the hell?"

Leigh, it refers to the fact that Renly appeared to rally the troops at the Blackwater after he was dead... or someone was pretending to be Renly.

So, Littlefinger may be successful in producing an 'Arya' for the wedding... there is a candidate in mind, who may or may not actually be the correct Northern girl. (Roll over comments to read)
TG12
16. sofrina
hunh. i'm gonna go back and reread the blackwater, 'cause i've always thought it was loras in renly's armor. garlan hadn't yet been introduced. we didn't know about his fighting prowess, but we knew all about ser loras' skill. (Roll over to read)
Melanie DeJulis
17. Shonagon
Sofrina @16 I believe there was mention at some point of a distinction between the skills of Loras and Garlan. Loras is unbeatable in a joust, but Garlan takes the cake when it comes to sword fighting (ha).
TG12
18. davidl303
Renly's ghost was 'leading the charge' at the battle and that he killed 'Ser Guyard Morrigen himself in single combat, and a dozen other great knights as well' which sounds like Loras to me as he is meant to be one of the realms best fighters.

I don't see how this could be a spoiler as it was a whole book ago.
George Jong
19. IndependentGeorge
@7, 11, 12, 15, 16:

I know there was no malice intended, but can you please refrain from trying to explain to Leigh every little thing she missed, and let her figure it out on her own? Especially since //it is going to be revealed explicitly in a few weeks anyway//? A lot of the fun from reading this blog comes from watching Leigh's head explode when she learns something new.

@18:
Because (1) it hasn't been revealed yet explicitly, and (2) Leigh hasn't figured it out.

//It's revealed in Chapter 67 of SOS. We are on Chapter 53 of SOS. 67>53. Therefore is a spoiler.//
TG12
20. zambi76
sofrina the anwer to your confusion would be a spoiler (i.e. re-read chapter 67 - Jaime of ASOS.)
TG12
21. Boggieboy
davidl303 @7 That is only partially correct. It was in fact Garlan Tyrell wearing Renly's armour at the Battle of the Blackwater.
(Roll over text to read) I know it's stuff from book 2, but I'm not sure if that was counted as a spoiler or not, so I'm whiting it out just in case.
TG12
22. DRickard
Leigh--you came back! Thought the Red Wedding might have finished you...
Something to keep in mind: remember the last time we saw Melisandre. Remember what she was doing; remember the VIP names that got thrown around in that chapter; and believe this: it gets better!
Gabriella Wendt
23. lyraadriana
As upsetting as the Red Wedding was, and I did need an emotional break, it in no way would have prevented me from continuing. It's still excelently written, still a captivating story, and the fact that it can shock you that much just attributes to GRRM's skill. Anyone who actually stopped reading/watching, is crazy.
TG12
24. Aerona Greenjoy
You could give any ASoIaF (or WoT) character lessons in creative insults of people and plot devices. Hilarious.

Boy, this blog is addictive. I count down the days and hours before each post.
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
Chapter 53 - Tyrion: Back to King's landing. GRRM is going to leave us in suspense over Arya. We'll see if word on the slaughter reaches back here or just where in time this happens. Joffrey is bouncing, so I am going to guess they have the word--evil little king. Yep. Tywin at least doesn't put up with Joffrey. Drug him and put him to bed. The boy is mad and dangerous. Also, it seems Joffrey doesn't know who his father was--interesting. Tywin is a schemer. Now, does he think Arya is still a captive or is he planning to provide a substitute? Could be either. I think Tywin talking about Renly is similar in that people are seeing what they want to see.
TG12
26. Aerona Greenjoy
Re: Edmure -- as you (and Cat) have noted, the Freys want him for his claim to Rivverrun, and can't have it until he and Roslin have a son. So they intend to keep him alive as a stud...um...fish. I won't say whether they succeed.

It is sometimes scary how much we will forgive a character who makes us laugh.

Very, very true.
Steven Halter
27. stevenhalter
Having now read Leigh and the comments, I'll throw in and say that the killing of Robb and Cat didn't incline me towards not reading at all. I really want to see what happens with Arya. I want to see where Dany is going. Jon and the Frozen Zombies (Jon is lead guitar) are also very interesting. Really, GRRM just pruned a not entirely interesting storyline. It will be interesting if he adds another.
TG12
28. SolarSoul25
I personally read this portion of SOS when I was in High School, and if anything it propelled me to read at a faster pace. The sheer shock of the event was more than anything simply exciting. Almost like Ned's death times 10. It was such a contrast to WOW, which I was also deep into, and I think that is what compelled me.

I find it quite interesting that now, being 29 and having a wife/19 month old son, I don't see these events in the same light. While I still appreciate the nostalgia, and love this blog, I actually stopped watching the TV show after the second episode in Season 2 when they killed off Robert's heirs (notably the baby in the brothel). I don't begrudge anyone who enjoys the series, and commend the producers for sticking to the source material so faithfully, but such acts are so much harder to digest when my son is sleeping in the next room. Funny how perspectives change with age.....
Chris Nelly
29. Aeryl
I was much the same way when I first became a parent. Again, 12 years later, I find I'm not bothered as much now as I was then.
George Jong
30. IndependentGeorge
But once your kids hit their teens, you'll be the one fantasizing about shooting them with crossbows...
TG12
31. littlebit_liz
As much as I hate Tywin, I totally loved him putting Joffrey in his place in this chapter. It was awesome. And also the way he took Cersei to task for raising such a monster. Also awesome.
Deana Whitney
32. Braid_Tug
@ moderators, could you just flag almost everything?
I think @19, I.G. has them mostly outlined.

Please people, yeah we made it to the Red Wedding! But many things are still not known to Leigh, or others reading it for the first time, yet.

If even Tyrion doesn't know what his dad is talking about, let's leave it alone.

@Leigh, glad to hear you want to continue. Not just that you have to continue.

Tywin has to be coldest man alive. And a commanding officer that really has the oddest perspective of his own responsibly regarding the things he “authorizes.”

I think Tyrion’s parting words were some of the best end chapter lines ever.
Brian Rice
33. briantium
Actually the Red Wedding is where I had my "Eight Deadly Words" moment. There comes a point when killing off major characters becomes a trope in itself, or rather showing depravity winning out over and over again becomes the trope. There've been a lot of GRRM defenders badmouthing traditional fantasy because it's heros always win/don't die, and how killing them off keeps things interesting, but I think that approach has its own shelf-life before it becomes, "Oh, of course that character just got killed; I was just starting to like him. Shocker". It becomes effectively no different than the heros winning.

Anyway, I recognize the tragedy behind the betrayal, and even the brilliance behind it, from a story standpoint, a character (the betrayers) standpoint, and the author's standpoint...but it came with a price, and after the accumulated depravity of the prior books it was final straw in my ability to, well, give a shit anymore. (That and the subsequent books' inability to live up to it. The story simply. has. not. progressed. at. all. since the end of Book Three.)
Peter Stone
34. Peter1742
8. MDNY says
Don’t the Lannisters realize that the Starks have commanded the North for 8,000 years? 8,000! How can they believe people would just accept those flaying bastards usurping that?
My theory is that there hasn't been an unbroken line of Starks; just that whenever a noble Northern family has conquered the North, they pull out their family tree and say "Look at that ... I'm really a Stark five generations back ... who'd a thunk."
Bridget McGovern
35. BMcGovern
All the flagged posts have been whited out--I think everything that can safely be said on the topic (without causing an uproar) was covered by comments 1 and 2, so any further discussion of the events in question should be directed at the Spoiler Thread. Thanks!
Chris Nelly
36. Aeryl
Based on some of the things Bran's said, I think it pretty much is unbroken. They can trace their family history pretty well, and don't forget the tombs under Winterfell!
Bryan Cogswell
37. shmoo
Having read the books as they came out - i couldn't imagine stopping after the red wedding because the series was almost over. Right?*

If I was starting them now (and not while in college where i had all sorts of free reading time) and i knew that this was just a little over half way into book 3 - and overall I was less than half way thru the series... it might appeal to me (to stop).

*If you pick up the Legends book where the first Dunk and Egg story is in - you'll notice that the introduction to that says that it is a 4 book series. At least the hard cover first edition does that i solely bought for the Wheel of Time story
TG12
38. Ivan T. W.
@37.

Originally it was supposed to be a 3-book series:"A Game of Thrones" "A Dance With Dragons" and "A Time for Wolves". Apparently book 1 was supposed to end with the Red Wedding. So he's been splitting books up for a long while.
TG12
39. nor
I was one of the people who put down the book for a little while after the Red Wedding. Not at shock/anger over the deaths. As others have noted, there are other characters who are interesting. But, narratively speaking, a huge chunk of storyline was just guillotined.

Robb and Catelyn's storylines obviously die, but so does Arya's - her entire journey for nearly two books now was to get back to her mother and brother - now what? And with the main opponant to a Lanninster throne gone, the King's Landng characters (Tyrion, Tywin, Cersei, Joffrey) all suddenly seem to be simply coasting to victory, not struggling against anything... Dany's and Stannis's storylines are kinda stagnant at this point as well, certainly not enough to balance out the whole book.

In short, the entire book suddenly seemed to lack conflict, and that was boring to me. Granted, I picked the book up a little while later, and some unexpected things do happen (spoilers!), and other storylines begin to generate the conflict necessary for the books to keep me interested.

But for a while there, there simply wasn't any conflict left.
TG12
40. jwes
Perhaps GRRM has set us up so that it will be the biggest shock of all when at the end Sansa marries the hansome prince and lives happily ever after.
TG12
41. MGP
With Balon Greyjoy and Robb Stark both dead and Stannis defeated at the Blackwater, the kingdoms are fairly close to peace. Someone like Gregor Clegane is particularly not useful to have around in peacetime because he can't be controlled. In the circumstances, I would say that it wasn't unreasonable of Tyrion to expect Tywin to give Gregor to the Martells to appease them - everyone already knows that he did it anyway even without the admission, and getting one final use out of him is very much in keeping with Tywin's style.
TG12
42. Dragonriding Moogle
I definitely agree that character killing can get too much. I'm not a fan of it when authors kill off characters just because it's shocking, or refuse to let a happy ending happen due to reasons that don't seem to make sense. But to me, the Red Wedding wasn't an example of that at all. There are still a ton of main characters alive, and Robb and Cat weren't even fan favourites. (I like Cat a lot myself and was neutral on Robb.)

I can understand stopping if they were your favourites and everyone else paled in comparison--if they killed off Arya, Jaime and Brienne I might have a hard time with it. But there's such a huge amount of characters here, and really Cat is the second POV character they've killed. I think that ASOIAF as slaughterfest is sometimes overstated.

Obviously for some the Red Wedding was too much. But I didn't find it to be that way at all. And I definitely don't think it's a sign that GRRM doesn't respect his fans or anything along those lines. Really, if all of the main/POV characters survived to the end in a huge civil war, that would be pretty difficult to explain, I think.
JoeNotCharles
43. JoeNotCharles
Just a warning about Twitter uproars: a lot of people who've read the books strongly suspect that they're going to rearrange some events in the show to put the HUGE SPOILERY SURPRISE that closes A Storm of Swords in this Saturday's season finale, instead of next season (which will include the last half of ASoS and start pulling things in from A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons). So expect another big twitter blowup soon, about an event that you're not near reaching yet, which you may have to try to avoid.

And speaking of rearranging events, I have a suggestion for when you reach A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons: I'm not sure if you followed the sordid publication history of this serious, but in those two books Martin hit a major case of let's call it writer's block, that meant they took much longer to write than the first ones. As a result, he eventually - after five years without a finished book - bowed to fan impatience and released A Feast For Crows covering only half the characters (the ones whose stories he was finished). Then five years later, he released A Dance With Dragons, covering teh same time period but with the other half the cast.

The resulting structure honestly doesn't work too well - each chapter is great, but the overall pacing is not as good as in the first three books. In the first book we hear rumours about what characters in the second book are doing, and then in the second book chapters fall flat because we've already seen rumours of how they end. Because of the huge gap between some characters' appearances it's really hard to get back into their stories when they finally reappear. And both books have long stretches of essentially travelogue, which adds a lot of depth to the world but would work better if thery were interspersed with other viewpoints instead of dominating large parts of the books they're in.

So, I'd like to suggest that you read both books at once, in alternating chapters, using the reading order I came up with here. Rather than a 600 page book followed by a slightly-too-long 900 page book, I managed to split it into two virtual 800 page books, in chronological order, each once containing the viewpoints of all the characters instead of just half of them. Basically, it has the same flow as the first three books, rather than the more stilted flow of the original AFFC and ADWD (which Martin only published that way because it would have taken him 10 years to get it all written otherwise...)

I think it reads much better, and I'd be really interested to see how the books look to a first-time reader when they're read this way.
Church Tucker
44. Church
Yeah, no.

Combined reads are for your third time through.
TG12
45. The Reader
@43 I'll be very surprised if the SPOILER to which you refer happens in the final episode, though I think it best to heed the warning until we know for sure. It would really suck if it was spoiled for Leigh because the internetz exploded again.

I don't see a link to the chapter order you refer to for AFFC/ADWD but am very interested in using it for my next re-read!
C R L
46. Maac
Oh lord, I have read all six books TWICE and only just this second just figured out what the Renly remark meant.
Lindy Brown
47. lbrown
I wonder if Catelyn hadn't released Jaime, would the Red Wedding have happened?
Peter Stone
48. Peter1742
If Catelyn hadn't released Jaime; if Robb hadn't married Jeyne; if Edmure hadn't recalled the soldiers Robb had stationed at the Twins (so as to attack Tywin crossing the Trident) ... there's enough blame to go around.
George Jong
49. IndependentGeorge
Murder is murder, people. If you’re going to be amoral enough to indulge in the practice in the first place, how is one method “better” than another, empirically? The idea that smashing a guy’s head in with a sledgehammer or something is somehow more “honorable” than, say, slipping him an arsenic mickey, is frankly bizarre in my opinion. If you’re going to kill someone, ideally you do what works and what won’t get you caught. How does it matter if that method turns out to be poison? Sheesh.
Leigh Butler, June 17, 2011
[Tywin:] “Explain to me why it is more noble to kill ten thousand men in battle than a dozen at dinner.”

Yeah, the fact that you even have to ask that question, Tywin, is why you are an utter psychopath, and probably one of the scarier characters in this entire series—which is a position that has a LOT of competition.
Leigh Butler, June 6, 2013
JoeNotCharles
50. JoeNotCharles
@43 Grr, the board swallowed my link for some reason. It's at

http://joenotcharles.livejournal.com/119984.html

I bet this gets flagged as spam because of the link, now...
TG12
51. Eudaimonia
I was ...(not happy but, relieved?) when Catelyn died... mostly for selfish reasons. Every Cat chapter was like reading "Catelyn and the Terrible, Rotten, Lousy, No-Good, Very Bad Day." Honestly, I got seriously depressed reading her chapters.

I was to the point where I figured something good needed to happen to Catelyn, or Martin needed to put her out of her misery. Enter the Red Wedding.

*yay?* ...I guess.

And Robb dying was just insult to injury. I had invested so much hope in his "rebellion." I was already hashing out the ramifications of his own wedding, with regard to his heirs and hoping for a "Jon & Robb unite and raise the North" and wonder if I would cheer for Robb or Dany if it came down to it. And then Enter the Red Wedding.

*crap*

…and I assumed he killed off Arya as well (At this point, why wouldn't he?) so I figured nobody interesting is left in Westeros except for Tyrion and I can't skip every other bloody chapter to get to his now can I? (Well, and maybe Jon's too).

So I left the series for a long while after this…

And looking back, I think Sansa has taken Catelyn's "very-bad day" role for me. Seriously, Sansa needs to get awesome or die. Rapidly. Her naivety is excusable for book one, maybe book two… but come on Martin, her chapters are like watching the bluest paint in the world dry.

I don't need entire chapters on how crappy her life is now and how she wishes someone would save her. I just summed up her arc in one sentence.
Rob Munnelly
52. RobMRobM
Leigh - nice post, as always. By the way, you dropped another of your usual forward looking bon mots (bons mots?) that no doubt we can chuckle about at some to be determined future time.

Renly/Arya - can't talk about, sorry.

Having Vargo Hoat put to the th-ord amuses me somehow.

Edmure - of course he survived. He needs to make a half-Frey baby. (Of course, Tyrion's quip about Sansa's fertility also could apply to Edmure as well.)

Tywin seems to be getting just a bit too cute with his allies. Have to see if he gets off scott free (as he expects) or has it bite back at him.

IG@49 - well played sir! The twists and turns are tying Ms. Butler in knots.

@46 - six books? What happens in Winds of Winter? Just send me a private message or three. (LOL).

@43 - spoiler not going to happen. No way. (But I'd love it if it does....) I actually am intrigued by the issue of whether Leigh should do one of the FFC/ADWD combined chapter reads (there are several versions on the internets), but the associated degree of difficulty is probably too high.

@40 - I'm counting on Tyrion-Sansa tru wuv all the way.

@39 - Perhaps we can view the RW as the end of Act 1 of ASOIF. If so, how will Act 2 and 3 play out?

@30. As a parent of a 15 year old and a 13 year old, I laughed at your comment. I decline to answer the question (publicly, anyway).
Adam S.
53. MDNY
A round of applause for IndependentGeorge @49. All I'm waiting for now is her to admit how much she loves Jaime, and my year will be complete.
Peter Stone
55. Peter1742
One of my problems with A Dance with Dragons is that it has so many characters, and they're all so spread out, that you lose track of what is happening between the time you read one POV and the time you come back to it. On my next reread of A Dance with Dragons, my plan is to split it into two; reading one half of the POVs first, and then going back and reading the other half. This problem will get worse if we combine the POVs from A Feast for Crows with it.

Since Leigh is reading so slowly, I certainly don't think we should combine the books into one.
Tom Smith
56. phuzz
@55. Peter1742
There's a propsed reading order for mixing up books four and five here.

I don't get all the hate for Tywin, sure, he's cold, but he does have the fate of his dynasty and an entire country to think about. Focusing on fluffy kittens or making sure people got to marry the people they love is just a distraction for him. After all, he is very good at his job. The Red Wedding? His idea. Bringing the Boltons and Freys onside, and effectivly nutering the North (aka the greatest threat to the stability of the relm)? His idea.
And the relm does need to be stable, Winter is coming, and it's hard to grow enough crops for storage* if there's a war going on. He's doing the best for the most people, the Starks were just out for revenge.

*(Especially when you don't know how long this magic winter will last for because GRRM didn't bother with plausable celestial mechanics, sorry, pet gripe.)
Tabby Alleman
57. Tabbyfl55
@52 - I know! Will Leigh be throwing a rave? a masquerade ball? Or something else entirely? or will we be visiting her at the institute?

Only we re-readers know for sure, but one thing is certain: When the day comes, I'm sure I won't have a thing to wear.
Alan Courchene
58. Majicou
Every time someone mentions throwing any of the ASOIAF books against the wall, I think "What a boon that must be to the wall repair industry." Is Martin in the pocket of Big Wall? Then there's the fact that you could kill someone if you, and they, happen to be particularly unlucky.
Vincent Lane
59. Aegnor
Leigh,
So I definitely see that, and appreciate it, even as I feel compelled to
point out that even with all the mistakes Robb made, he was still (in
my opinion) doing better than many of his rivals.
Aboslutely, but that is sort of damning with faint praise. Joffrey is still going, but the ONLY reason is because he has been blessed with incredibly capable family members assisting him (Tyrion and Tywin). And he has been rather lucky too. If Ned weren't scarred by the deaths of Rhaegar's children, then things might have turned out very differently for him.

But Robb made some disasterous mistakes that can be traced back to his youth and inexperience. Not in military situations, where he was a natural, but in everything else.
TG12
60. Skyweir
I agree with Tywin, actually.

Why is it less honorable to kill ten thousand in battle than a few dozen at dinner?
Certainly, Tywin have saved thousands of lives by ending the war decisively, with much less loss of life than the extremely brutal war that has ravaged the Riverlands for a long time now. Not only that, but the deaths were the deaths of people who are actually involved in the war, not innocent peasants or conscripted levies.

Robb was a rebel and an usurper. He let himself be crowned king, a title he has no claim to after the Starks yielded to the Targaryens. He started a war to free his father and for revenge, a war he dragged out for ages after both of these seemed unlikely to occur. The price for these things are paid by others, his sisters, his brothers and the innocent people of the Riverlands. After Ned died and Jamie was captured, Robb could have sued for peace. He could have gotten his sister(s) back for Jamie, bend the knee and gone home, sparing untold suffering and death. But no, apparently it is more "honorabl" to seek revenge and cause the deahts of thousands of people not remotely connected to the death of Ned.....

Robb and the rest of the northern nobility desereved their fate.
Tricia Irish
61. Tektonica
I did not stop reading GoT after the RW, but I certainly didn't trust GRRM with my emotions anymore. I usually save my critical read for #2, and let my emotions run on the first read through, but alas, I gave that up for my own sanity and protection.

I do think Tywin is hideously competent, as phuzz@56 points out. And he's also just hideous. But the whole lot of them! That little family get together was so entertaining! What a load of crazy people. They really make Tyrion look like the nicest guy in Westeros. (And a fave of mine) oops...I'm not supposed to have those anymore!

I think Robb sealed his own doom in numerous ways...Jeyne, Karstark, mom's Jaime debacle. And in retrospect, I can see why Cat has to go too, from a tactical standpoint. It was just hard to stomach.

But Bolton???? yikes! Frey??? Poor Westeros.
Bridget McGovern
62. BMcGovern
@JoeNotCharles, phuzz, Peter1742, et al: Regarding the reading order of the books, Leigh is going to be experiencing the books in the order in which they were released, one at a time. I do understand the pros and cons involved with this approach, rather than alternating between books, but we'll be proceeding with A Feast for Crows next, then A Dance With Dragons. I'm sure it will get all kinds of crazy at points as we forge ahead (but that's always been the case around these parts :)
Chris Nelly
63. Aeryl
Robb was a rebel and an usurper.

So are a lot of other people we hold up as paragons and heroes. It all depends on who writes the history.

Joffrey, parentage be damned, has no business being a king. That alone would be sufficient to support a rebellion. No one is obligated to follow the commands of someone, especially when they know those commands are wrong, see Nuremburg trials.

And to say Robb has no right to the crown, ignores that NEITHER DOES JOFFREY!! If that's your metric, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with Robb rebelling.

Part of the point of Robb's death, was to show that lords have obligations to those under you, because regardless of titles, and what is DUE to you as a lord, if you don't meet those obligations, your people will rebel.

What happened to Robb, was his sworn SWORDS, STORMED against him for his failures as a leader. Just as Robb, sworn to a king, stormed against that king for his failures as a leader. Circumstances just allowed Robb's swords to storm a bit better, ensuring they succeeded.

So no, for Tywin to be "right" he'd have to storm against Joffrey too, along with everyone else in the kingdon, which he won't, because that's his power.
TG12
65. Josh L
Uh, that formatting didn't seem to work. Can someone delete that last comment?
George Jong
66. IndependentGeorge
As far as Tywin knows, Joffrey is Robert's trueborn son and the rightful heir to the throne, and his son Tyrion was abducted in the Riverlands unlawfully (which itself could be interpreted as an act of war). He was had cause to attack the Riverlands, and he had cause to fight Robb. Remember also that his original plan wasn't for a massive, continent-wide war, but to capture Ned Stark alive and exchange him for Tyrion (and he would have succeeded if not for Jaime).

He is not a good man by any means, but he's neither a traitor nor a psychopath.
Marie Veek
67. SlackerSpice
Putting a brief question forward: What if Joffrey becomes more a liability than an asset? What then?
Chris Nelly
68. Aeryl
@66, Regardless if Tywin thinks that, he also has ample proof that Joffrey is a terrible king. I put Robb on the side of good, because he was fighting against the bad king, just as we are supposed to feel Robert was right when he rebelled against Aerys, who burnt people alive.

If Tywin was morally right, he'd have Joffrey put down and put Tommen on the throne instead.

@67, IMO, Joffrey already is more of a liability than an asset, Tywin just doesn't care.
Rob Munnelly
69. RobMRobM
Tywin cares, he just views Joffrey as needing substantial supervision/training from his Grandpa.
Steven Halter
70. stevenhalter
Aeryl@68:It also seemed that in this chapter Tywin might have had his eyes opened a bit more as to just how bad Joffrey is. People don't openly defy Tywin often (I'm guessing) and especially not for really stupid reasons. Joff == mad, evil and stupid. Maybe Tywin will arrange for Joffrey just to stay in bed drugged for quite a long time until one of Cersei's other kids can be more suitably trained.
TG12
71. Taipan
Surely post 64 is a spoiler. Kill it.
TG12
72. Taipan
@66 Are you suggesting that Tywin has no knowledge of the hundreds of letters Stannis sent out in book 2 questioning Joffrey's parentage?
TG12
73. C Bone
Why is it worse to kill a dozen men at dinner than thousands in the battlefield?

Well, in Westeros, the main reason is the laws of hospitality. Robb and his army broke bread with Lord Walder, and slept under his roof. It is repeatedly drilled into our heads throughout the books that there is nobody as condemned in Westeros as one who has broken this rule (with the exception of a kinslayer). Maybe the gods don't actually give a crap about who is killing who, but the people who believe in the gods certainly do give a crap. So that's the main reason, from the point of view of a Westerosi, why Lord Walder and Lord Tywin are contemptible little shits.

But I do think the books do a good job of showing both sides of this question. There are plenty of reasons why it is not honorable to kill men in the thousands on a battlefield, not the least of which is that most of those men are smallfolk, who don't really care at all which fancy little lord wins the game of thrones. There are large passages of text in the series that show the devastation that these wars have had on the general population of the riverlands. It's not pretty.

So which is worse, the dinner table or the battlefield? As with most things, GRRM kind of leaves it up to the reader.
TG12
74. Gentleman Farmer
I don't think there's any question, in Tywin's mind or anyone else's, that he's a traitor. He had the arrangement with Maester Pycelle for Pycelle to convince Aerys to open the city gates. He rebelled against Aerys, and had his liegemen kill Aerys' heirs. He then brokered a deal for the marriage of Cersei to the usurper and the retention of Jaime Lannister as part of the usurper Robert's kingsguard.

He's now propping up his grandson, and (though he likes to play it as though Joffrey is legitimate) has no intention of seeing Joffrey become Robert II, and gives me at least the strong imression that he knows perfectly well whose child Joffrey is, likely before Stannis sent his letters, and certainly after.

There are a number of characters who one might think have the best interests of the realm at heart, but I don't think I've ever imagined Tywin to be one of them. Sending Gregor Clegane into the countryside to wreak havoc, burn fields and kill peasants is a strategic move, but not one made for the preservation of the realm and its peoples. Hiring the Brave Companions to do the same is at least as troubling.

Finally, in regards to Tywin's failure to understand the difference between killing a dozen at dinner versus killing in war, he's passed his teachings along well. He has a son who doesn't see the difference between personally killing the king he's sworn to give his life for and waiting twenty minutes to let Eddard Stark to take Aerys into custody.
TG12
75. pirimie
@ moderator: Please delete post 64. Huge SPOILER!
Rob Munnelly
76. RobMRobM
Ms. McGovern - the poster in 64 has acknowledged he posted spoiler info ad his white out efforts didn't work. I flagged it but you should be sure to white out as they are really spoileriffic details. Thanks.
Sanctume Spiritstone
77. Sanctume
@60 The Targs aren't on the throne anymore whom the Starks bent a knee to. Robert and his bebellion is the original usurper, Joeffrey is the usurper's heir, but that heir was in question due to incest. And when Ned Stark nobly foolishly wanted to bring this truth out in the open, he got beheaded by Joffrey's command. Nope, the North has this time to reconsider that bent knee to a king that is no longer. The North has zero incentive to give to Joffrey.
TG12
78. C Bone
Why doesn't Tywin just kill that little shit Joffrey already?

Sure, we've all fantasized about killing Joffrey. Nothing unusual about this. But think about it as if you were Tywin (shudders). Everything that Tywin does is for the "good" of his family lineage, where "good" is to be read as "political and social advancement at any possible cost." I don't think he wants to kill Joffrey, I think he wants to rule through him. The only problem is that Cersei is very much her father's daughter, and would like to do the exact same thing. If Tywin is mad at anyone, he's mad at Cersei for the way she raised her firstborn, and for allowing any aspect of Robert to rub off on her son. Or perhaps he's mostly mad at himself, for not keeping a closer eye on the upbringing of his grandson, the boy who is to be the first in a long line of kings with Lannister blood.

Joffrey is his life's work, the fulfillment of his family's slow and methodical rise to power. So the boy's not quite right in the head, that doesn't mean he's about to scrap the whole project and start over with Tommen.
Sanctume Spiritstone
79. Sanctume
@62 AFFC and ADWD is one book, or rather are in the same timeline. GRRM just had too many written that it had to be split into 2 books.

But I agree that it is moot to read the two books with chapters shuffled onto a nice time synced because GRRM already made the modification to make each book, AFFC and ADWD readable. Althought iirc, I was very unsatisfied reading AFFC after without ADWD and waiting...
Chris Nelly
80. Aeryl
@74. That is not the case as Jaime's made clear. If he'd waited for Ned to take Aerys is custody, King's Landing wouldn't exist, and the entire population of the city would be dead.

@78, See I don't see at all why Tywin wouldn't kill Joffrey and start over with Tommen, it seems the safest route, and gives him what he never got with Joffrey, TIME to shape him. With Joff it's already too late.
TG12
81. C Bone
@80 Aeryl, you make a good point, for sure. I just think that's not how Tywin sees the situation. But, that's just, like, my opinion, man.

You could also make the argument that, if something happens to Joffrey, at least there's Tommen to be his heir. Kill Joffrey, and then Tommen has no heir, and won't for a while, since I'm pretty sure he's too young to be fathering any children. So then if he dies, the throne should go to Stannis, right? Tywin would not be pleased.
Chris Nelly
82. Aeryl
@81, That's also a good point. Wouldn't Myrcella then be heir? I don't know if it the line of succession goes to the daughter before it goes to the brother?
Adam S.
83. MDNY
Myrcella would be next, just like Dany is in line when Viserys died (if you're a Targ supporter).
@77, I'm pretty sure he was referring to the Starks bending knee to Aegon the conqueror 300 years ago. The Starks have no claim to being kings of the North since then, the only kings of the 7 kingdoms who submitted without fighting. Of course, without dragons around it makes sense that the old kings would try to resurrect their old kingdoms rather than submit to King's Landing- too bad for them dragons are around again.
Vincent Lane
84. Aegnor
Tywin may have read the letters from Stannis, but you have to look at it from his perspective. That is EXACTLY what Stannis would say if he were trying to usurp the throne. This scandelous story, with little real evidence, conveniently leaves Stannis as the "rightful" heir to the throne. Also, he's predisposed not to believe something so disgusting about his children. I do not think he beleives the rumors.

Also, Tywin does not exhibit the traits of a psychopath. It is true that he has no sense of compasion or empathy, and that is a symptom of psychopathy, it isn't the complete picture of a psychopath (like Joffrey). For one, he gets no enjoyment out of causing others pain. He would torture and kill someone if there was some need for it, but he would never think of doing it just for the pleasure of it.

Here's a list of Psychopath traits which don't apply to Tywin:
Glibness/superficial charm: no one considers Tywin charming or glib.
Grandiose sense of self-worth: This one is so-so. He does have a strong sense of self worth, but it is mostly earned. It is more a rock solid self confidence.
Pathological lying: No evidence of this. Not in the pathological sense at least.
Emotionally shallow: Depends on how you interpret it, but I wouldn't say so.
Failure to accept responsibility for own actions, Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom, Parasitic lifestyle,
Lack of realistic long-term goals, Impulsiveness, Irresponsibility, Poor behavioral controls, Many short-term marital relationships, Promiscuous sexual behavior: None of these apply, and some its downright laughable to try to apply to Tywin.
Early behavioral problems, Juvenile delinquency: There is no evidence of either of these and I would find it hard to believe they would apply.

So really the only behaviors that are indicative of psychopathy are Lack of remorse or guilt, Callous/lack of empathy, and Cunning/manipulative. That is definitely not enough to call Tywin a psychopath. On the other hand, nearly all of those apply to Joffrey.
TG12
85. Gentleman Farmer
@80 Aerys didn't have a jar of wildfire in his hand. He wasn't personally setting the fire. He gave a command to (?) Rossert, the new King's Hand or an underling. According to Jaime, he killed the underling with the wildfire (I'm unclear whether it was before or after he killed Aerys, but Jaime had time to kick back and hang out on the Iron Throne, not frantically rush around putting out fires), and tracked down Rossert some days later. We also know that Aerys didn't have any other kingsguard standing around to protect him or carry out orders.

We know what Jaime says abut why he did what he did, but we also know (like so many in this series) that he's an unreliable narrator. Was his only option to kill Aerys? Or had his hatred for Aerys, his offence on behalf of his exiled father and his sense of being used as a tool to get back at his father boiled over, coincidentally at exactly the same time as his Dad decided to invade King's Landing? Jaime had lots of opportunity to kill Aerys before Pycelle betrayed the gates, but chose not to do so. Jaime had the opportunity to address the wildfire issue directly (as he did anyway) then surrender like Barristan, keeping his honor in tact and (possibly) his king alive and unharmed while in captivity or subject to the justice of Robert and Ned.

To be fair to Jaime, I think he actually believes what he's telling himself and Brienne. I think he's convinced himself of that. But he's a 17 year old who has just realized that if Aerys remains on the throne, he doesn't inherit Casterly Rock, doesn't get to be near Cersei, will never get to fight in battle like Barristan or Arthur Dayne, and is being used as a tool by Aerys out of spite.

And so, whether he admits it to himself or not, by a remarkable coincidence, Jaime betrays his oath, "for the good of the kingdom", at the exact moment that his father has the gates to King's Landing betrayed, and just when Tywin desperately needs something to show Robert that the Lannisters didn't just sit on the sidelines until after the battle had been won. The only question I have in my mind is whether, when Jaime killed Aerys, he said "Tywin Lannister sends his regards".
Vincent Lane
86. Aegnor
@85,

Dammnit...making be defend these Lannisters.
I think the idea that Jamie did anything wrong with regards to Aerys death is pretty incredible. Aerys was without a doubt going to try and find someone to give the order to. And there were several other pyromancers in on the plan. Rossert is the one he killed before Aerys (once he realized he was headed to put Aerys plan in action). It's the other pyromancers that he killed later.

All Aerys would have had to do is go into a room of his subjects and say "Go to the pyromancers and tell them to light it." What is Jamie supposed to do then? Your argument is similar to those to complain when a police officer shoots and kills an armed suspect "Oh you could have just wounded him! Or shot the gun out of his hand!"

The fact is that if Jamie hadn't done what he did, when he did it, it is somewhat likely that everyone in Kings Landing would have died.
Chris Nelly
87. Aeryl
Another reason, that what Tywin helped Frey and Bolton engineer, is VERY BAD, is that it's made war impossible to end.

Engaging in negotiations, under a banner of truce, is how wars end, unless you manage to kill EVERYONE on the opposite side. And that rarely happens.

What Tywin and Frey have done, is make it IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to willingly come to the negotiating table with them, because they cannot trust that the basic rules of combat and negotiation will be upheld.

You don't kill people flying a white banner, that's how Cleos Frey was able to go back and forth from Riverrun to KL to negotiate for Robb and Tyrion. That's why Robb could allow a high profile hostage to leave, and be assured he'd be returned.

That's why what Tyrion did in Riverrun was bad enough, sending in combatants under a white flag, in an attempt to free Jaime. This, slaughtering people you have extended guest's rights, is so much worse.

No one will negotiate with Tywin Lannister now. He's ensured this war will never end while he lives.
Steven Halter
88. stevenhalter
Aeryl@87:That's a very good and important point. If geust privledges no longer apply, things could get very messy. For example, the Tyrells would seem to have no reason to trust that they should be in the least bit safe.
Mike Lapp
89. MorsManwoody
@86 But nothing was stopping Jaime from detaining Aerys in the empty throne room and waiting for the inevitable arrival of either the Lannisters or Ned. He actually did have a reasonable alternative after he killed Rossert. He was alone with the king and no one showed up until Ned walked through those doors.

I can't really blame him for what he did, though it was terribly convenient timing. Still, there was an alternative. It's not like Aerys had any chance of escaping Jaime.
Chris Nelly
90. Aeryl
There were other pyromancers who knew the plan as well. All it would've taken was Aerys getting a message to them, and it would be over. How was Jaime supposed to know how long he was to detain Aerys, or that some people wouldn't be overcome with a strong desire to free the king from the Lannister Kingsguard holding him captive. It's easy to say with the ability of hindsight what Jaime should have done.
Mike Lapp
91. MorsManwoody
@83 Would Myrcella come before Stannis? Dany was next in line to Viserys because there was no one else left. The relevant anagolous situation would be if Rhaenys hadn't been killed by Lorch, would she have been the heir or would it have passed to Viserys. I honestly don't know the answer.

@84 I agree completely with you except for one, slightly spoilery point: I'm pretty convinced that the Hand that had the secret tunnel built so he could have sex with whores was Tywin

True discussion of that point, if desired, probably belongs in the spoiler thread though.
Vincent Lane
92. Aegnor
Aeryl@87,

You have to remember though, Tywin didn't violate guest's rights. Walder Frey did. That's something Tywin makes clear in this chapter, and he's right. Although Tywin may have planned the massacre, he never gave Robb safe passage or guaranteed his protection. Walder did, and he's the one that will get the blame. The reasons you give are why I really think he would be extremely reluctant to do what Walder did. But he's perfectly willing to let someone like Walder do it for him.

MorsManwoody@89,

There are a ton of ways that scenario could go wrong. You say it was an empty throne room, but how empty was the area really? There were most likely some guards in the area that would have come when he called.
Vincent Lane
93. Aegnor
And it is blatantly clear to me that Jamie killing Aerys had absolutely nothing to do with politics.
Mike Lapp
94. MorsManwoody
I'm not convinced that there was much chance of Aerys getting a message to the pyromancers. I doubt that they were concerned with running to find the king during the sacking of Kings Landing. Especially since they don't know that Rossart is dead and they wouldn't know that Aerys was being held captive.

True, Jaime doesn't know how long he'll be waiting but there are precautions that Jamie could have taken that didn't involve killing him. He's the only Kingsguard in the city and I doubt anyone would've countermanded any orders he gave at that point.

That being said, I do agree with his decision. The downside is too great to take any risk imho.
Chris Nelly
95. Aeryl
In Re, Frey being the only one held accountable, That's not a distinction I'd make if I was a LORD(LADY) of Westeros. Sure the commoners would probably accept it, but if I were a Lord(Lady), I'd damn well know who gave the Frey's the A-OK on that. Which means Tywin, or anyone allied with him, isn't to be trusted.

In Re Jaime, politics had nothing to do with it. It was all emotion there. Did the politics play a part in making Jaime feel what he felt at the time he killed Aerys? Sure, but he didn't kill him to further his family's agenda. A) Aerys was already a dead man. B) Family's agenda would be BETTER served if the House scion isn't smeared as an oathbreaker and opportunistic murderer.
Marie Veek
96. SlackerSpice
@95: Agreed. As Tyrion said, the Freys might have been the one to pull the metaphorical trigger, but they wouldn't have dared without Tywin's backing, and now he plans to reward them with lands and Lannister marriages for what should be a big Westeros no-no.
Vincent Lane
97. Aegnor
But that doesn't matter. All that does is serve to enhance his reputation and the realm's fear of him.

If he says that he guarantees your passage and gives you guests rights, there is not really any reason to distrust that. He has never violated guest's rights. Tywin would be held accountable for his part in the Red Wedding, but not for the violation of guest's rights (which is the most damning crime). Tywin violated no trust whatsoever in the Red Wedding.

Frey, on the other hand, will never be trusted again.
Bridget McGovern
100. BMcGovern
@98 (and 99, in response): I know that everyone has a different gauge for what constitutes a spoiler, and it can be frustrating when people appear to be overzealous (or not zealous enough, depending on your preference), but it's important to keep things in perspective, always be civil, and not make it personal. Thanks.
TG12
101. Mylesl2222
Sorry but that Tywin quote, 10,000 deaths on the battlefield versus a few at a wedding is bullshit, they DID kill thousands, they burned the Northern armies tents and slaughtered em, how come no one ever remembers that part when quoting him?
Marie Veek
102. SlackerSpice
@101: Because those were soldiers who sided with the North, so according to Tywin, they don't count and thusly deserve their unperson status.
Marcus W
105. toryx
I'm way behind because I've been insanely busy but I did want to comment on one thing:

A lot of people confuse (imho) GRRM's tendency to kill off characters as simple as aiming for shock value. That's not the case at all: he's writing those deaths in service to the story, not solely as a means to manipulate the emotions of the reader.

I was at a Con waaay back in the day (after ASoS but before AFFC) where he was on a panel that was about the death of characters. One of the other authors, whose name I don't even remember -- young guy, I've not seen or heard of him since -- laughed and said that he'd got to a point in his novel where it seemed like things were slowing down and then he'd roll a dice to see which character died next.

I'll never forget the look of horror and distaste that crossed GRRM's face when he heard that. He shook it off quickly and kept his response as diplomatic as possible, but it was clear that the whole notion of an arbitrary death was anathema to him.

Others have already commented on how GRRM had a hard time writing the Red Wedding scene, even though he knew what was going to happen long before he set it down on paper. I've heard him say that myself.

Personally, if deaths were just thrown around like popcorn for no particular reason at all, I'd not be interested in reading further either. But each death, from Ned to Catelyn to Rob is committed in service to the story. Even if it's not readily obvious at the time. As long as that's true, I'll be more than happy to keep reading.
Jeff Weston
106. JWezy
Yeah, this was the point where I said the eight words. I continued to read (and watch) because I am morally opposed to not finishing a book once I start it, even if I don't care for it.

Also, fair is fair, the writing is good, the world is mysterious, and I want to know where the story goes. I also admire the technical aspects of deconstruction. The books are technically facinating.

That is all to the good, but the bottom line is that I no longer can trust the author, and therefore I no longer care about the characters (who are, after all, avatars of the author in some sense). The characters are interesting, they behave according to their own beliefs. But they are now unalterably characters to me, not people. I can't trust the author enough to let them become people.

And that diminishes the book, in my opinion.
TG12
107. CarpeComputer
Re: Aerys: The most honorable thing to do for Jaimie would be to kill off the pyromancers, knock the king unconscious and tie him up. Later he would present the king to Tywin on the gates of KL saying something like "Father, I present you Kings Landing on the condition that you swear on the old Gods and the new that the king which I have protected from the flames of his insanity would not be harmed" Well, he is no paragon of virtue, so I'm not that much upset about it (even as a die-hard monarchist that I am), but it would not be too hard, and probably imprisonment would be worse for Aerys then death so he would get his revenge without paying the price.

Re: The Eight Deadly Words: What is wrong with you people?! Till now we have two PoVs dead, which is sad, as they were a happy couple, great rulers of the North, had a nice family life and so on. But that's kind of the point, if strong, good and sympathetic characters don't die, there would not be much tension in the story. Besides how many more great PoV's do we have left? Danny, Arya, Tyrion (up to a point... curses, GRRM, when I read about the actions of this crooked dwarven monkey near the end of the book, I nearly uttered the eight words myself!!!) anyone?

We also have one wolf pup drowned under the crossing. Well, tough luck but there are 4 more from where this one came from (not including the bastard)! And considering that 3 of them survived by a series of strange events, I would say that GRRM is quite protective of the Stark Children.

We also have one story arc (the rebellion) extinguished. Ok, this one is quite important - but the squabbling squids, Blackfish and Stannis will keep the war going for some time more, mayhaps [hopes the Lord of the Crossing won't recognize this one] Danny will be able to get there with the dragons and, I don't know, Sansa could actually defect to the Tyrells, breaking off her marriage to this nasty, patricidal tool of a dwarf Tyrion declaring he did not cosumate the marriage? That would be funny, if the Tyrels would start to fight a war on behalf of Sansa to put their grandson in line only to realize they were fighting for Bran/Rikon the whole time :D (and no, I didn't read past this book, so I don't know much and that's not a spoiler or a known theory)

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