Jul 25 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 37

Song of Ice and Fire Storm of SwordsWelcome 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 37 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 61 (“Sansa”) and Chapter 62 (“Jaime”).

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 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 61: Sansa

What Happens
As she flees the throne room, Sansa wonders why she is crying when she wants to dance with joy at Joffrey’s death, and thinks that she is actually crying for Robb, and for Margaery, “twice wed and twice widowed.” In the godswood, she changes into her hidden escape clothing. She panics when she sees the “magic” hairnet Dontos had given her is missing one of its amethysts, and wonders if Dontos was lying about everything else as well.

Dontos arrives, stinking drunk. Sansa confronts him about the hairnet, saying he used the missing stone to poison Joffrey, but Dontos insists Joffrey merely choked on pie. He tells her Tyrion has been arrested, and they must flee quickly. As they go, Sansa wonders whether Tyrion might really have killed Joffrey, and realizes they will assume she was in on it if he had.

They exit the castle onto a cliff over the river, and Dontos tells her there is a hidden stair/ladder down, and a man with a boat waiting to row them to the ship. Sansa balks at first, but then asks Dontos to go first; he is so drunk she worries he will fall on top of her otherwise. He goes, and though she is terrified, Sansa follows. They make it to the bottom, and Dontos leads her to the boat.

The man rowing (Dontos calls him “Oswell”) insists they be silent, and takes them out to the bay. Sansa thinks there is something familiar about him, but cannot place it. At length they come to a trading galley, and she climbs up the rope ladder to the deck with Oswell following. There she recognizes Ser Lothor Brune.

“Lord Petyr,” Dontos called from the boat. “I must needs row back, before they think to look for me.”

Petyr Baelish put a hand on the rail. “But first you’ll want your payment. Ten thousand dragons, was it?”

“Ten thousand.” Dontos rubbed his mouth with the back of his hand. “As you promised, my lord.”

“Ser Lothor, the reward.”

Crossbowmen shoot Dontos, and Lothor torches the boat. Sansa is unbelieving, and Littlefinger tells her her grief is wasted on Dontos, who sold her for ten thousand dragons and would have betrayed her for the same. He tells her Dontos befriended her at Littlefinger’s request, as he claims he could not approach her openly, but that he was the one who sent her the initial note to meet in the godswood, as it is the only place free from Varys’ spies.

He takes her below, and asks if her husband enjoyed Littlefinger’s jousting dwarves, which Sansa realizes he planted in order to make it seem more plausible that Tyrion poisoned Joffrey. Littlefinger remarks that widowhood will become her, and Sansa cannot decide whether to be relieved or not. Sansa asks why Littlefinger would want Joffrey dead—after all Joffrey gave him, and Littlefinger shrugs and says he “had no motive.” He says that to throw off your enemies in the game of thrones, sometimes you must do things that make no sense. He tells her how he once loved her mother, and that but for “family, duty, and honor,” Sansa might have been his daughter.

“My loyal loving daughter… Put Joffrey from your mind, sweetling. Dontos, Tyrion, all of them. They will never trouble you again. You are safe now, that’s all that matters. You are safe with me, and sailing home.”


Sorry, maybe I was supposed to have some other reaction to that last line, but, uh, no. Petyr Baelish: Grade-A Creeper since 1996. Ick.

Sooooo, Sansa was betrayed for greed. Excuse me while I muster up some shock. Hang on… mustering… buffering… please wait… spinny circle of death… crap.

Yeah, no. No shock, sorry, can’t do it. The only way this episode would have been shocking was if it had actually gone without a hitch and everyone was who they said they were and then a glittery rainbow appeared and led them to Happyland and Sansa got to play with unicorns and koalas forever, The End.

I was surprised, of course, that it was Littlefinger behind it all. Though thinking about it, it does make rather good sense in retrospect, especially when you consider Littlefinger’s creeperness re: Catelyn—and now, I guess, Sansa.

(“Fatherly feelings,” my ass. Ugh, how long do you think it’ll be before he either propositions her or straight-up tries to rape her? God, I don’t even want to think about it.)

However, that’s about the only thing that makes sense in this chapter, which is otherwise, as far as I can tell, one big splodge of misdirection re: Joffrey’s death, and I am confused.

Because, okay, I’ve been assuming that Joffrey’s death was “caused” by Melisandre’s leech spell, but only in the sense that it nudged events toward the ideal circumstances for Joffrey to die. In other words, it was a general fate-twisting thing rather than a specific “you will eat pie and CHOKE ON IT” thing. But my point is that other than that influence, I was assuming Joffrey’s death was exactly what it looked like: an accident.

But now Littlefinger is all implying here that he was the mastermind behind it all, and I have no idea whether to give any credence to this or to call total bullshit. I’m leaning toward “bullshit,” though, especially since his plan seemed to be that he was using the jousting dwarves to goad Tyrion into killing Joffrey, which we know didn’t happen. (Although, admittedly, it came damn close to working, didn’t it?) But then, if Littlefinger had somehow arranged for Joff to be poisoned and planted the dwarves to point the finger (heh) more firmly toward Tyrion, as Sansa assumes, well…

And then there’s all the stuff with the missing jewel from Sansa’s hairnet, and that’s either part and parcel of the whole scheme or a really clever red herring, and I can’t decide which.

I dunno. This whole theory is extremely Byzantine, and Occam’s Razor certainly suggests that the most likely explanation is that Joffrey choked on a pie, the end, and Littlefinger is just trying to puff himself up/take advantage of the situation for his own aggrandizement.

Although, confessing to regicide… I mean, even if he had done it, why would he admit it, even if only to Sansa? I hear they execute people for that sort of thing, after all. I suppose he could be assuming that no one would believe Sansa anyway, and that claiming to kill Joffrey would be a good in for him with her.

…And, actually, he’s probably not too wrong about that. When Sansa was all wanting to dance with joy at the beginning of the chapter, I was like I am right there with you, girl. Ding, dong, the little shit is deeeeaaaad!

Anyway. So Petyr is taking her “home.” Where’s home? Does he mean Winterfell, or does he mean Harrenhal? Probably the latter, since while Harrenhal is not exactly everyone’s favorite vacation spot, it at least is not a pile of smoldering ruins. Or at least, it wasn’t last I recall. Isn’t someone else occupying the place right now, though? Jeez, I can’t even remember, but I think it’s changed hands at least twice since Littlefinger was given it. So who knows.

And apparently he never even went to the Vale? Well, all things considered that was probably a smart move, if he didn’t want to end up in his very own Slip N’ Slide prison cell. (Definitely one of the scenes I recall most vividly, that. Because EEEEEK.)

(I wonder if Lysa even knows Catelyn is dead? Or cares?)

[Littlefinger:] “Do you perchance recall what I said to you that day your father sat the Iron Throne?”

The moment came back to [Sansa] vividly. “You told me that life was not a song. That I would learn that one day, to my sorrow.” She felt tears in her eyes, but whether she wept for Ser Dontos Hollard, for Joff, for Tyrion, or for herself, Sansa could not say. “Is it all lies, forever and ever, everyone and everything?”

Ow, right in the feels again. Can we have a Kickstarter campaign for something nice to happen to a Stark, like, ever? No?


Chapter 62: Jaime

What Happens
Jaime listens numbly to the conflicting stories of his nephew/son’s death, and insists they ride hard, wanting to get to Cersei and comfort her. Steelshanks Walton complains of the smell as they approach King’s Landing, and Jaime tells him if you have a good nose you can “smell the treachery too.” Jaime thinks of how Joffrey had died thinking he was Robert’s son, and how Jaime had never even been allowed to hold him. He wonders if Tyrion truly could have killed him, and wonders at himself for how calm he is, and if that makes him a monster.

He finds Brienne, whose sullen silences are grating on him, even though he had been the one to tell her to shut up. He congratulates her on achieving her vow to bring him to King’s Landing, but Brienne answers that was only half of her promise; she was also supposed to bring Arya and Sansa back to Catelyn. Jaime reflects that she mourns more for Robb and Catelyn than he does for Joffrey, and thinks she has been “broken” since they learned about the Red Wedding. He offers to send her back to Tarth, or find her a place at court, but she dully shoots the idea down, and Jaime leaves her alone.

They pass the gate as Lord Bolton’s men, and Jaime remarks that no one recognizes him; Steelshanks answers that he has changed, and “they have a new Kingslayer now.” At the keep gates, though, Ser Meryn Trant leaps to obey Jaime as soon as he recognizes him. Jaime chides Ser Meryn and Ser Loras for managing to lose two monarchs since Jaime left the city. Ser Balon notices his missing hand, and Jaime says he fights with his left for more of a challenge. He is startled to hear that his father is eating with Lord Tyrell and Prince Oberyn, and then Loras sees Brienne. He accuses her of Renly’s murder, and she protests her innocence. She tells the story of the shadow that killed him, that Lady Catelyn said was Stannis’s.

Loras doesn’t believe her, and goes to duel her, but Jaime steps in between them. Loras shoves him away, and Jaime pulls rank on him. There is a tense moment, then Loras puts up his sword. He insists that Brienne be arrested, though. Jaime says Brienne has more honor than Loras, but agrees to have her held under guard. He sees Brienne’s hurt look, and reflects that everyone misunderstands the things he does.

At the sept doors, Ser Osmund Kettleblack blocks Jaime’s way very rudely until he finally realizes who Jaime is and backs off. Jaime goes into the sept, where Cersei is kneeling before the altar of the Mother. They embrace, and Cersei asks why he didn’t get there sooner, to protect Joffrey. Jaime says he came as soon as he could. She is shocked by his missing hand. She tells him Tyrion killed Joffrey just as he warned her he would, and Jaime asks why Tyrion would do such a thing. Cersei says it was “for a whore,” and begs Jaime to kill Tyrion for her.

Jaime says that Tyrion is still his brother, and he is in no shape for killing anyone anyway. Cersei says the guards would look the other way, and Jaime says he must learn more about what happened. Cersei says there is to be a trial. She says she was lost without him, and kisses him. They end up having sex on the altar. Afterwards, Cersei says they must be more careful; Jaime answers that he is sick of being careful. He points out that the Targaryens married brother to sister, and asks her to marry him openly.

Cersei thinks him crazy, and points out that Tommen’s claim to the throne comes through his supposed paternity by Robert. Jaime says Tommen can have Casterly Rock, and Tywin the throne; he just wants her. Cersei says he’s scaring her, and begs him to remember that one wrong word can destroy them. She says he’s changed, and makes him leave her. Jaime goes to Tywin. Tywin is incensed to see Jaime’s missing hand, and Jaime tells him it was his own goat’s work, Vargo Hoat. Tywin tells him Gregor Clegane has taken the castle, and Hoat is dying. Jaime is pleased to discover that Hoat’s ear injury is what’s killing him. Tywin promises they will hunt down and kill all the surviving Brave Companions as well.

Tywin asks if Jaime can fight with his left hand, and Jaime lies that he can. Tywin tells him Joffrey was definitely poisoned, as the autopsy found no obstruction he could have choked on. He is sure Tyrion gave Joffrey poisoned wine, but claims Tyrion has nothing to fear if proved innocent. Jaime reflects on how much that is worth in this “city of liars.” He tries to point out the connection between Renly’s death and Joffrey, insisting on Brienne’s innocence, but Tywin is dismissive.

He says Jaime cannot serve in the Kingsguard with only one hand, but Jaime insists he can, and that an appointment to the Guard is for life. Tywin counters that Cersei changed that when she fired Ser Barristan. Jaime tries to argue, but Tywin says he has a duty to take over Casterly Rock. Tywin wants him to take Tommen with him, to get him away from Cersei. He intends to find Cersei a new husband, perhaps Oberyn Martell, and suggests that perhaps Jaime could wed Margaery Tyrell. Infuriated, Jaime shouts that he doesn’t want Margaery or Casterly Rock; he is Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and that is all. Tywin stares at him, and does not speak.

The strained silence went on until it was more than Jaime could endure. “Father… ” he began.

“You are not my son.” Lord Tywin turned his face away. “You say you are the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and only that. Very well, ser. Go do your duty.”

Tywin Lannister, ladies and gentlemen: Father Of The Year.

Of course, given that Tywin almost certainly suspects (or knows) that the reason Jaime is so insistent on staying in the Guard is so he can keep fucking his twin sister… well. Tywin might even have something of a point.

Damn, but this family is messed up.

I find it amusingly devious of Martin that he continually presents Jaime and Cersei’s relationship as not something sordid and wrong, but that of star-crossed lovers. Seriously, the Romeo and Juliet vibe is palpable as far as I am concerned, which is extremely disconcerting every time you remember that oh, yeah, twincest. The dissonance is not helped by the reminder that in this culture, incest has at least somewhat less taboo overtones than it does in ours—in royal circles, anyway.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that I am vaguely disturbed to find myself at least partially thinking that it would be better if Jaime and Cersei just ran off and eloped somewhere to live in sin in peace. I mean, it’s fucked up, but I do believe that they honestly love each other, and I certainly don’t see any other outcome that would truly make Jaime (if not necessarily Cersei) happy, because sorry, openly marrying her is so never going to happen.

But, that’s a moot point anyway, because this is ASOIAF and nobody gets to be happy in this story, don’t be absurd. So I can quit talking crazy, and just get on with speculating what massive clusterfuck is next on the horizon now that Tywin hates Jaime almost as much as he does Tyrion. I’m sure it’ll be lovely.

As a side note, I’m not sure the relationship between Jaime and Cersei won’t implode eventually anyway. I know right now Jaime thinks Cersei hung the (incestuous) moon, but I get the distinct impression that Cersei is not nearly as… well.

So, I don’t want to say she’s not as into Jaime as Jaime is into her, because I think she is. I do think she loves him. I just think that Cersei is a lot more practical than her brother is. I also think she is in certain ways more cynical, and definitely a hell of a lot more ambitious. If it came down to a choice between their love affair or public ruin, Jaime would almost certainly pick ruin… but I don’t think Cersei would do the same.

As for Brienne: aw, Brienne. I am sad that she is thinking right now that Jaime betrayed her. Not that it might not turn out that he has, inadvertently. I can’t think of it right now, but I’m sure there is some saying about being in prison equating to being most of the way proven guilty that roughly corresponds to the saying about possession being nine-tenths of the law. Or, possibly, I am making no sense whatsoever. Um.

In any case, assuming Brienne doesn’t get executed for regicide (it is hilarious how much that is going around these days, innit?), she is going to present a problem for Jaime sooner or later re: Cersei. I might have just been saying a couple of paragraphs ago that Jaime might be the more invested of the two in his affair with Cersei, but even so, sooner or later he’s going to have to acknowledge that his “hatred” of Brienne is total bullshit, and in fact the opposite emotion entirely. And then, who knows what would happen.

I wonder if Jaime can learn to fight effectively with his left hand. They say you can do a lot of things if you have no choice in the matter, but as an extremely right-handed person who has tried to do things like write with my left hand, let’s just say he’s got a long, hard road ahead of him on that score. (“Chicken scratch” is not even in it, y'all. It was hysterical.)

Also, I didn’t put it in the summary, but both Tywin and Cersei mention their intention to question Sansa’s maids. And yeeeeeaaaaahhh, that is not going to go well for either Shae or Tyrion, is it?

Man, Tyrion is so fucked right now, it isn’t even funny. Not that it ever would have been. I guess we’ll have to hope Jaime continues to doubt his guilt and ends up smuggling him out of the castle or something, because otherwise I don’t see this going Tyrion’s way at ALL.

Although, Tywin's info does I guess mostly put the kibosh on my theory that Joffrey wasn't poisoned. Even though my paranoia prompts me not to totally let the idea go, because really, couldn't the blockage have dissolved or broken down or whatever by the time they checked his throat?

But, assuming he was poisoned, I'm guessing the theory that Littlefinger had it done (by smuggling poison into the feast in the form of fake jewels on Sansa's hairnet, and having Dontos? I guess? spike the wine with it) is looking better than anything else I can think of. Though you'd think Tyrion would have noticed Dontos plucking an amethyst off his wife's head at some point... but Tyrion was very drunk, so, I guess? Maybe?

Agh, I don't know. More As It Develops, I suppose.

Oh, and thank you, Tywin, for clearing up my confusion in the previous chapter about who’s running Harrenhal. Littlefinger vs. Gregor Clegane: that’ll certainly be… something. Maybe it won’t be anything, because technically they are on the same side, but since Littlefinger has gone distinctly off book since the last time anyone saw him, I doubt it.

(And actually I’m not sure why I’m so sure Harrenhal is where Littlefinger’s heading. But then, I don’t get about 90% of what Littlefinger does anyway (and this is apparently by design) so whatever, I’m not even going to bother to speculate further.)

[Tywin:] “I had hoped you’d be here for the wedding.”

“I was delayed.” Jaime closed the door softly. “My sister outdid herself, I’m told. Seventy-seven courses and a regicide, never a wedding like it.”

*snort* One thing you can say about the Lannisters, they are never, ever short on sass. Even though technically Jaime is wrong about there never being a wedding like it. *smashes things*

Aaand I’m spent. Have a scrumdiddlyumptious week, O my peeps, and I’ll see you next Thursday!

Deana Whitney
1. Braid_Tug
Great commentary. Not what I was hoping to see, but fun as always!
Chris Nelly
2. Aeryl
As far as Mel's leech spell, you have to decide for yourself(like literally, there is NO indication as to which is correct), DID she cause the deaths? Or did she see the deaths in her flames, and is attempting to take credit for them?

I could have sworn there were more explanations in this chapter, but oh well.
Chris Nelly
3. Aeryl
Since you made the connection to the hairnet and the poison, think back to other instances of poisonings. Weren't they accomplished using a purple poison?
4. olethros
Shit. Missed it.
I wish I was as insightful as Leigh when I first read this. Of course like most people I read the second half of this book in one marathon session one late late night.
7. Tenesmus
Amazing. You are so astute on some rather obscure things, but then so obtuse on others that appear obvious. I'll be back next week. Thanks!
Tabby Alleman
8. Tabbyfl55
Yet another commentary where there are things aplenty to remind you of when we get to that point... I swear you do it on purpose. : )
9. SKM
I find it really amusing that Leigh picks up on so many plot bunnies I missed (she commented on the fact there was some connection between LF and Dontos all the way back in Sansa's wedding chapter), but misses many that I caught immediately ("Who Poisoned J.B.?", for instance).

It's part of what makes this read so much fun.
12. MRHD
@8 Yeah, there is definitely at least one really good insight in this post that will be worth bringing up in a later post. Anyways, another entertaining post, thanks again for sharing your thoughts!
Katharine Duckett
13. Katharine
@6 @11 Let's take anything that might be hinting at spoilers over to the spoiler thread--I know it's a fine line, but we're erring on the side of caution. Thanks!
14. DougL
Leigh, after Game of Thrones you did retrospective on the novel. Are you planning to do the same thing here? It might behoove you to do a reread before launching into Feast since things start to diverge a lot there and you will want to have everything straight.

I mean, we could all clarify things for you but the more militant people call that spoiling you even if it was in the books earlier, so I kind of wonder if you will freshen up. My own memory is very poor for many things and I know reading a couple chapters per week wouldn't keep anything fresh.

Anyway, thanks for the post. One nice thing about this series is that there are mysteries that were presented early, but we get lots of answers throughout the books and you just kind of have to notice. It's not like the Wheel of Time quite yet thankfully.
15. Aerona Greenjoy
I admit that when forced to hear annoying love songs on the radio, I take comfort from the "life is not a song" reminder. It's Littlefinger's only action which I don't hate.
Tabby Alleman
16. Tabbyfl55
By the way, I notice that there's one trope (at least it's a trope to me, I don't know if it's an official one. It's gotta be though, because come on!) that GRRM embraces rather than inverts: the old, "oh yes, the absurdly large payment I offered you for doing my dirty work for me, which would get me in serious trouble if anybody ever found out about it...yes, here it comes...

But I guess I'll let him have this one because Dontos, it could be argued, really is that stupid.
Chris Nelly
17. Aeryl
@Aerona, Well, that and acquiring a poisonous hairnet.
Robert Niner
18. RTN13

I broke my right hand when I was in college and had it in a cast for a while. I had to learn to do everything with my left. While the writing at first did start out as chicken scratch, it got better because I had no choice if I wanted to take notes.

Point being, if you are forced to make a change and stick to it, you can do it.
Tom Smith
19. phuzz
I hope it's not a spoiler to note that if you go back to the wedding, there is a mention of someone playing with Sansa's hairnet.

Perhaps the reason that Cersi is more worried about her relationship with Jamie, is that as a woman she's got much less chance of getting out from under the public shame than Jamie has. However, she's still not realised that, now he's lost his sword hand Jamie is if anything, even more powerless than her. Perhaps equivilent, as they're both still capable of making high-born babies after all, although technically Jamie is forbidden by virtue of being a member of the Kingsguard.
Julian Niquille
20. Gesar
@16: it's true, but it works simply because it's not really a fantasy trope, it's just a general storytelling trope. Martin doesn't mess with many of those.
21. littlebit_liz
Yeah, my take on Jaime/Cersei is that he is definitely in love with her, and has clearly done some pretty stupid/awful things because of that (Bran, for instance?) - but I'm not convinced Cersei is so in love with him. I think she loves him and cares about him, but I think she's way too self-centered, and too much out for her children's interests, to ever really commit to him like he wants. Which, normally being out for your childrens' interests isn't a bad things, but Cersei takes it extremes, while at the same time failing to actually be a good mother at all. In fact, she's rather like her father in that regard.
Peter Stone
22. Peter1742
Rereading this weeks' chapters with Leigh, I realized that Sansa tucked the hairnet with "black amethysts from Asshai" into a pocket of her cloak before she went off with Dontos. I wonder whether anybody will realize she still has it.
23. Ciella
@9. SKM I noticed that too! I think it's the differences in the way she's reading. For instance, I picked up on Jon's true parentage (Granted still hypothetical at this point, but pretty darn believable) in my first read of GoT, but didn't pick up on the poisoning, or JA's killer until it was spelled out for me. Leigh is reading each chapter slowly and in detail, where I read quickly all at once. So she's picking up on the details of plots,, but the overarching things were easier for me to remember.
24. GarrettC
Oh, man. I remember being REALLY confused by Littlefinger around now. What in the world is his end game? Sometimes it seems like he wants to be King, but most of the time he seems smart enough to know that the King is neither the most powerful, richest, nor most secure position in the realm, and that he wants something more well-fortified in all three respects. And sometimes it seems like he really only cares about getting whatever Catelyn Consolation Prize he can get his hands on. Why in the world is he saying all of this stuff to Sansa? Or saying all of this stuff at all? His entire MO lies in the obscurity of the information he divulges, and in how little it implicates him in anything.

What the hell, Littlefinger? What the hell?
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
Chapter 61: Sansa--Ooh, back to Sansa right away. Joff death reactions! Ah, Sansa is preparing for her escape. I can't think this will actually go well. Oops, the stone (black amethyst from Asshai) is missing and Ser Dontos had told her she had to wear it at the feast. I am thinking that Sansa just got used as an assassination tool.
They have made it to the boat. Suspenseful--and I'm making it even slower by jotting these notes. It certainly feels like bad things are about to happen. It's Littlefinger and OK, well bad for Dontos--he's dead now.
Nothing physically harms Sansa here and she is away from the castle but I certainly don't trust Littlefinger's words. All of his actions have been on the skulky, creepy, nasty side of things. Sansa is quite the prize now that everyone thinks that the Starks are mostly dead. This also won't help Tyrion much and Sansa seems to have a mildly mixed reaction on that.
Adam S.
26. MDNY
Thanks for another highly amusing post Leigh. I'm quite impressed by some of your conclusions that you arrived at before I did, but itching to point out some things. I will just confine myself to directing your attention to Sansa's hairnet, and who was near her (and/or touching the hairnet) and was near Joff during the wedding: i.e. who could have plucked the poisoned amethyst and dropped it in his wine? Dontos gave her the hairnet, from Littlefinger, but Dontos wasn't at the wedding. Over to spoiler thread now...
Steven Halter
27. stevenhalter
Chapter 62: Jaime--At least Jaime has doubts that Tyrion killed Joffrey. A cell does seem the safest place for Briene now--even if she doesn't appreciate that.
I think Cersei is fruit loops bananas crazy--both from grief and just in general. She does sense a change in Jaime and I think there is one. Actually, the whole family (and city and kingdom and world) is pretty much messed up. They mean to railroad Tyrion but I think that Jaime won't allow it.
Steven Halter
28. stevenhalter
Now I've read the commentary and comments also and I would say that Joff was certainly poisoned by the hairnet stone. How that stone got into the wine is a good question--could have been magic.
Genevieve Williams
29. welltemperedwriter
I don't remember at all whether this is confirmed later, or not: however, to me, there was an immediate and obvious candidate for who was really behind Joffrey's death, and it's not Littlefinger, who's just telling Sansa that so she'll trust him.

Just in case it is confirmed later, I'll white out my theory that eligible royal bachelors going forward should stay the hell away from Margaery Tyrell.

On another note, I think Jaime genuinely loves Cersei, or genuinely believes that he does--he's certainly obsessed with her, and that can almost feel like the same thing. Cersei, on the other hand, strikes me as a classic narcissist. If you look at how she talks about her relationship with Jaime, it's all about how they're alike and how he reflects her. That can look like love, too, but what was evident to me about the scene in the chapel is that Jaime has changed, and not in a way that Cersei likes or finds reflective of herself. That makes her less inclined to be into him.

And, they have different attitudes about their children: it's right there in the chapter. Cersei loves her kids; it's part of what disposes Ned to be merciful to her. Jaime has never been allowed to love his children, lest it cast suspicion. Funny thing, if you're not allowed to feel something, after awhile you become incapable of it. So it stands to reason that Cersei would care more about Tommen's fate than Jaime would.
George Jong
30. IndependentGeorge
@3, @19 - The line between explicitly revealing something, and telling someone to go back and re-read specific passages for crucial details, is so miniscule as to be irrelevant.

What's the point of following Leigh's unspoiled comments if you're just going to point her to every last detail she missed?
Melanie DeJulis
31. Shonagon
Note the continuation here of GRRM's campaign to make readers love a twincesting character who shoves children out of windows. Jaime's love for Cersei is strangely endearing, and his refusal to join the anti-Tyrion bandwagon is hard to resist. I love the twisting of the readers' moral compass.
Sydo Zandstra
32. Fiddler
Re: hairnet..

Re-read last week's description of the wedding feast... :)

@IG: Normally I'd agree with you. In this case, however, I don't. Unfortunately I can't say why because that would be a spoiler...
Adam S.
33. MDNY
@29 That's half the correct answer you whited out. Someone passed it on to that person first (a different person took it from the hairnet).
Chris Nelly
34. Aeryl
The interesting thing about the twincest, is that they are the only characters who establish a DESIRED sexual relationship, for the most part.

When everyone else in the story is stuck in these terrible arranged marriages, you kinda start cheering for the lovebirds, just by default.
Genevieve Williams
35. welltemperedwriter
@33 I'm referring less to a specific individual than to a, shall we say, collective responsibility...but I suspect that is edging into spoiler territory so I'll leave it at that.
Bryan Cogswell
36. shmoo
@24 "Why did LF say all this to Sansa?"

Would his character say all of this? Perhaps not - however not having a narrator to give us some information means we have to get it somehow and the only way to keep us on edge about LF's true goals means it has to come out of his mouth and not from his POV. Martin can't give us LF's POV cause then there'd be no mystery (same for Varys, Bolton, Frey ... eh... hell everyone who doesn't have a POV) ...

Meanwhile - EXIT Ser Dontos -- a guy who really played the long con well AND DID IT DRUNK (quite an accomplishment) however and let this serve as a warning to other possible henchmen - take HALF of the payment first. That way when you get stabbed in the back you at least had some fun...
37. drc413
@31 - One word: defenestration. Jaime could open a home for orphaned children, feed the homeless, and personally disembowel Walder Frey and he'll still be a worthless scumbag who deserved getting his hand cut off. Sorry, GRRM, not buying it, moral compass is fine & dandy thank you.

Although, if he DID off Walder, maybe...
38. Hammerlock
Leigh--review your wedding reread and you might get your answer regarding hairnets. Or at least, a new twist to your theories. You've already noted it; just put the pieces together :)
Matt Spencer
39. Iarvin
@37 - Another word: Redemption. A moral compass which lacks the capacity to believe in redemption is arguably deficient.

That said, I'm not convinced that Jaime has reached any point of redemption - but we began to get viewpoints as he began to head towards it. Cheering on a person heading towards redemption isn't actually twisted at all!
George Jong
41. IndependentGeorge
So, I don’t want to say she’s not as into Jaime as Jaime is into her, because I think she is.
Strictly speaking, it's always been Jaime that's gotten "into" Cersei.

You've been great, folks - I'll be here all week. Be sure to tip your waitresses!
Genevieve Williams
42. welltemperedwriter
Oh, George, you do not want to know the mental image that inspired... :D
43. drc413
@39 - Actually, now that you mention it, Redemption seems to be one of the things GRRM doesn't do. While a (very) few of his characters do seem to feel sorry for their actions, and fewer still ponder the morality of what they've done, none seem to grasp the concept of making amends. Kinda "what's done is done - Next!" Wonder if that's intentional - i.e. that element of moral philosophy never arrived in Westeros.
44. Crusader75
I had been thinking Leigh would have been more skeeved at Jaime and Cersei making the beast with two backs in church where Joff's corpse is lying in state. So , yeah Tywin's got a point with Jaime. After all, if Tywin knows about him and Cersei, then he knows that prime cause of the current unpleaantness in Westeros is half Jaime's doing.
Asa Zernik
45. AsaZernik
@3 Aeryl, I think that's explained in just a few chapters. Patience, young Padawan.
46. Aerona Greenjoy
If Sansa hadn't saved Ser Dontos and thus given him apparent cause to help her, I wonder who -- if anyone -- Littlefinger would've found to lead her out. (I know Martin gets offended when readers say 'what if,' as if "they thought they could write it better," but will consider reasonable speculation permissible here until says otherwise)

"Harrenhal is not exactly everyone’s favorite vacation spot..."

Under other circumstances, it could've been a good one. Situated beside the great God's Eye Lake with its famed Isle of Faces, it boasts luxurious hot tubs, a twenty-acre godswood, a bear pit if you're into that, an interesting ancient curse, and endless opportunities for indoor and outdoor exploration. Sounds good on a brochure, right? Instead, it's a Villain Magnet, having been the property and/or possesion of at least a dozen Exceptionally Nasty People in the series so far, not counting sundry less-distinctive soldiers and Bloody Mummers.

@34: Good point. Arranged marriages, various forms of rape...and a pair of True Lovers who just happen to be twins. Oy.
47. Aerona Greenjoy
Whoops, I meant "residence." Not "possession"
Katharine Duckett
49. Katharine
Comment 48 deleted for spoilers--let's take it to the spoiler thread, folks! Thanks.
51. AndrewV
I've always prefered Hanlon's Razor to Occam’s Razor.
Captain Hammer
52. Randalator
@34 Aeryl

The interesting thing about the twincest, is that they are the only characters who establish a DESIRED sexual relationship, for the most

Actually there are a couple like that. However all of them are on the spoilery side to varying degrees:

Renly and Loras (Leigh hasn't figured that one out yet)
Daenerys and Daario
Jon and Ygritte
Tyrion and Tysha
Robb and Jeyne
Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand
End spoiler

There's probably even more that I can't think of right now...
Chris Nelly
53. Aeryl
@52, I disagree with some of those, but I'll respond in the Spoiler thread.
Deana Whitney
54. Braid_Tug
Is it funny to anyone else that while Tywin is obsessed with the “dignity / influence” of the Lannister name, the only child he has that cares is Cersei, the daughter he discounts?

His two sons missed that part of training under daddy dearest.
Jamie just wants Cersei / to be Commander.
Tyrion wants the Rock, but because of his dwarf status and daddy’s rejection, has done everything he can to act like Grandpa Lannister. Which pisses daddy off.
Tabby Alleman
55. Tabbyfl55

Or without spoilers up to this point:

Robb & Jeyne
Tyrion & Shae (although we haven't had a Shae POV to verify how she *really* feels)
And there WAS Ned & Kat.
Jon & Ygritte...sorta, maybe.
Chris Nelly
56. Aeryl
@55, See I disagree with all of those.

With the exception of Ned and Cat, there is a lot of suspicion surrounding their abilities to meaningly consent to those relationships, Robb was drugged, Jon was in fear for his life, and Shae is a prostitute who was forcefully removed from the tent she agreed to be in.

Ned and Cat, they are still an arranged marriage, for all that they came to love one another.
Tabby Alleman
57. Tabbyfl55
Yeah but I think the same at least could be true for all of them. They all started off a bit sordid, but I think they all came to, if not love each other, be happy with each other.
Captain Hammer
58. Randalator
@56 Aeryl

re: Robb & Jeyne

Can you back that up with actual quotes from the text? Because as far as I remember that's just a theory (that I personally don't subscribe to)...
59. Maac
I think Cersei loves Jaime quite strongly, arguably more strongly than Jaime loves her -- it's just that hers is a completely narcissistic love, where I think Jaime's is not. Cersei views Jaime less as a separate person and more as an extension of herself (with certain freedoms and powers that she should have but cannot), there to serve her purposes and needs, political, physical, and emotional. I think Jaime's love is more genuine and less enveloping-like-an-amoeba-like. He does not see Cersei as *his creature.* It's a *normal* strong love. Well, normal aside from the incest part. (I was about to type "natural strong love" but, well, incest. Whoops.) I still think he's a terrble person, but things like this type of love in him, and other stuff, make him so much better than a cardboard cutout baddie.

ETA: Oh frak, how did I NOT SEE #29? Well, what #29 said. There now.
Chris Nelly
60. Aeryl
I just went and read Cat's two first chapters, there's nothing rock solid other than Jeyne was nursing him.

It is flat out stated that it happened the night he learned Bran & Rickon "died", which is close enough to drugged for me to believe he was in no right mind to decide to marry her the following day either.
Bill Stusser
61. billiam
See, here's the thing about Jon and Ygritte. He did like her and did desire her, it was just his vow, which Jon takes very serious (I wonder where he gets that from), that kept him from doing anything about it. I don't believe that Ygritte in any way raped him, all she did was give him a reason to do what he wanted to do anyways.

As for Robb and Jeyne, she comforted him in a time of grief. Happens all the time and seems like a natural way for a relationship to start. Certainly better than something like 'you can use my bridge if you marry one of my daughters that you've never met'.
62. owleyes
Great Post, Leigh! I always look forward to Thursdays! As for your speculation on whether Sansa's missing "amethyst" is a red herring, I'd like to draw your attention to a quote from an Arya chapter earlier in the book that you thought might be a prophecy in your summary about it:

"I dreamt a wolf howling in the rain, but no one heard his grief. I dreamt such a clangor I thought my head might burst, drums and horns and pipes and screams, but the saddest sound was the little bells. I dreamt of a maid at a feast with purple serpents in her hair, venom dripping from their fangs. And later I dreamt that maid again, slaying a savage giant in a castle built of snow."
Chris Nelly
63. Aeryl
@61, If Jon wanted to or not is a moot point, he had no choice if he wanted to live.

As far as aRobb & Jeyne, sure it's not a bad way to begin a relationship, but not necessarily a marriage. He was in no state of mind to agree to that.

I'm not denying the validity of the feelings these people have for one another, I'm just saying the circumstances surrounding them makes it hard to root for them. Not that Jaime and Cersei are exempt from this, but at the same time, as a person from a culture and time that values choice above all else, the two characters that CHOSE one another stand out.
Steven Halter
64. stevenhalter
owleyes@62:The last sentence of that prophecy seems the most interesting now that the other parts look to have happened.
"And later I dreamt that maid again, slaying a savage giant in a castle built of snow."
"That maid" seems to refer to Sansa. Since she's going to Harrenhal, maybe she will somehow kill Gregor Clegane. He fits the "savage giant" part although I don't know about the "castle built of snow" part for Harrenhal.
Either the Wall or the ruins of Winterfell seem closer for the snow part. But in any case, maybe Sansa will actually get empowered and kick some ass at some point.
Rob Munnelly
65. RobMRobM
As always, fun post, Leigh. However, as I have said at least umpty-ump times on this re-read, beware the long chapters. Some interesting info slipped by into the night without comment. Ah well, dem's da breaks in the ROIAF biz.

Misc thoughts.
- Lots of pieces all over the place in this chapter that can be put together in interesting ways, not by me of course.
- LF is on a ship. If going to Harrenhall, not clear why he'd choose that vehicle. Just saying....
- IGeorge at post 30 correctly pointed to a form of indirect spoiler we, as a community, have been avoiding since shortly after the start of this read series. Sometimes referred to as the Renly sock problem (i.e., don't tell Leigh to focus in on particular details - such as a character's sock color - that may matter to the plot. As a group, we have consistently avoided such references as a form of spoiler. I support continuing to do so.
- Remember that Robb was wounded and likely being medicated so there will be capacity concerns re marrying Jeyne in any event. Could he have been out and out drugged...who knows?
- Hard to see how Cersei is more in love with Jamie then vice versa when she was unfaithful in his absence. I believe that was discussed in ACOK, correct???
- not going to talk about the other lovebird couples - other than that Oberyn and Ellaria sure seem to enjoy each other in all ways.

Personal note - sorry for the delay in posting but we experienced a death in the family this week - my Dad. Great man. My brothers and I (some of whom follow the read) are very sad.
Steven Halter
66. stevenhalter
RobMRobM@65:Sorry to hear that. My condolences.
Sydo Zandstra
67. Fiddler
My condolences, to you and your family, Rob.
Bill Stusser
68. billiam
Sorry to hear that, Rob, you have my condolences. Take care man.
69. GarrettC
Yeah, Jon was put in a position where his choices were to have sex with Ygritte or die. In other words, he was not given a choice. When you give somebody no choice but to be a sexual partner, that is not consent. Consent demands choice. Whether he secretly wanted to in his heart of hearts is immaterial, particularly because his clear and stated preference was abstinence.

I don't like playing the "switch the genders" games, but think of the double standard here. What do we call people who coerce women to have sex with them out of the justification that, "she may have said no, but she obviously wanted it"?

It's rape.
Theresa Wymer
70. Tekalynn
Rob, my sympathies on your loss. It's a hard one.
71. Iarvin
@69 Jon was already in a position where he'd likely die. Ygritte offered him a way out of it. If Ygritte hadn't done so, he would have died. That is a very, very different situation than her arranging him to have the choice to sleep with him or die. Its a much more complex situation.

That said, the gender reversal is still useful. If a man takes advantage of a situation that a woman is in to obtain sexual favors, it may not be rape, but it is still highly suspect. But again, that misses the fact that Jon's life was saved, not in return for the sex, but in many ways through the sex - or at least the perception of it.
And therein lies the heart of the matter. Jon chooses to make Ygritte not a liar, and make the perception the truth. She doesn't threaten him with telling a different story if he doesn't do this. She does offer a way for what she said to be true, but she does not apply threats, only opportunity. In the gender reverse, this is still far less than chivalrous, but calling it rape seems obtuse to me.
Rob Munnelly
72. RobMRobM
Thanks to all for the kind wishes. It is a tough one - dinner with one of his best friends on Saturday night in Boston, comes home and kisses my stepmother good night, and has significant heart attack with accompanying brain damage from loss of oxygen overnight. Not a bad way to go, if you have to go, but years too early.
73. Looking Glass
welltemperedwriter@29: Assuming that party’s involvement, their involvement still wouldn’t preclude Littlefinger’s. That party could well have been manipulated by, or in active collusion with, Littlefinger (or given Littlefinger’s usual M.O., both at once).

More specifically: if that party did rely on Dontos’ hairnet, and Dontos was (he thought) on Littlefinger’s payroll, that at least raises the possibility of a cooperative venture between that party and Littlefinger… and makes it very unlikely Littlefinger didn’t at least know in advance. Indeed, the timing of Sansa’s extraction alone would strongly suggest that was the case: given travel times in Westeros, it’s highly unlikely that Littlefinger just coincidentally happened to be in King’s Landing (instead of where everyone thinks he is) and perfectly positioned to grab Sansa at just the right time. Furthermore, if said other party was positioned to do the deed, it might also be worth considering just how that position came about.
Brian Mulhall
74. moleman1976
There are two things I'm surprised Leigh didn't spend more time on. One is the elephant in the room that a lot of people upstream have been hinting at. The other, is the fact that Jaime just had sex with Cersei:

1. who is his sister
2. who was on her period
3. in a church
4. on an altar
5. with the body of their dead son just a few feet away.

How many "ick" factors can you throw into one scene?! I know we've somewhat normalized (in our minds as fans) the "twincest" aspect of their relationship. But seriously!? This!?

Was anyone else struck by this?
Chris Nelly
75. Aeryl
@74, That scene really squicked me out, especially with how much we've seen Jaime change.

But yeah, the one that gets me the most is the fact that Joff's dead body is there. It really goes to show that this relationship isn't healthy.
Scott Silver
76. hihosilver28
Yeah, reading that section really made the bile rise in my throat. The situation is so incredibly messed up.
Steven Halter
77. stevenhalter
@74:Yep, squicky is a good term. Show's some serious derangement on both their parts.
Captain Hammer
78. Randalator
@75 moleman1976

The other, is the fact that Jaime just had sex with Cersei:
5. with the body of their dead son just a few feet away.

Too good for him, I say!
Anthony Pero
79. anthonypero
Cersei loves herself, that's why she's with Jaime. Classic twincest. I'm pretty sure she's the one who initially seduced Jaime. Jaime is the only one good enough for her, because he' the only one who is like her.

Jaime, however, is actually in love with her, not himself. Jaime is ruthless, not very principled, but his motivations are rarely selfish. His worst acts are always done to protect someone other than himself. Cersei? The argument could be made that her worst acts are done to protect her children, but there are plenty of other really bad things she does that are just to secure her own power. Which, granted, could be interpreted as a means to protect her children.

However, at this point in the story, we get a lot more of Jaime's POV than Cersei's, so its easier to believe that he is misunderstood.

Case in point, the guard he agrees to set on Brianne is not for her confinement, but to protect her from Loras.
80. Spoonmaster
I don't have the book with me, so I can't quote the exact text, but in the chapter where Jeoffrey is dying. Tyrion, who is holding the chalace that Jeoff just drank from, looks down at the cup, conciders drinking from it, then dumps it on the ground.

That scene sold me so much on the wine being what killed Jeoffrey, that I never even concidered that he could have died in another way.
81. Ryamano
@24 "Why did LF say all this to Sansa?"

Littlefinger is thinking with his ... little finger.
82. 1point21gigawatts
When is part 38 coming out?
83. 1point21gigawattss
Nevermind, it is out, it just isn't at the bottom of the A read of ice and fire page.
Anthony Pero
84. anthonypero

Please, don the black and make an official claim to that awesome handle of yours!
88. Cannoli
Reading through the comments, I saw a quote from the creepy witch lady citing a dream of the Red Wedding and Sansa having poison in her hair, and I remembered another dream she cited of a Faceless Man waiting on a bridge and a wet crow on his shoulder. According to the captain whose daughter Theon was banging, Balon Greyjoy fell off a bridge, and the next day, his brother whose nickname is Crow's Eye showed up to claim the Greyjoy throne. If his brother hired a Faceless Man to whack Balon, that would fit with Robb & Joffrey also being murdered by treachery and make them all more congruent and thus, IMO, adding credence to Melisandre's leech spell.
89. Armorik
@88: yeah, you might be right! I totally missed that one before. And we do know of at least one Faceless Man out and about with 'Promises to keep'....
Chris Nelly
90. Aeryl
If that's the case, then the contract on Balon's life preceded the spell, thus taking credence from it, and making it more likely she knew the kings would die, and constructed a fake spell around it to enhance her own power.
Bridget McGovern
92. BMcGovern
Fehler@91: Sorry, but Reread-related discussion of the HBO show should be targeted at the Spoiler thread. Even if you're not discussing specifics, we try to steer clear of discussing the show, since Leigh (and presumable some other readers) are not watching the series. Thanks!
Adam S.
93. MDNY
@88 Yes, it's almost certain the Euron (the Crow's Eye) hired a faceless man to kill his brother Balon, and to do it in a way that there would be no (or little) suspicion that he had a hand. This was seen by the witch dwarf lady, as reported to the BWB in an Arya chapter. Euron was away for 3 years, exiled by his older brother the Lord/King of the Iron Isles, and he just HAPPENED to return from visiting the far reaches of the world the day after his brother died, when by rights he should not have returned because there is no way he could have known of Balon's death unless he had a hand in it.
Tabby Alleman
94. Tabbyfl55
@88, 90, 93..

When we look at whether this adds or substracts credence from Mel's spell, I propose that we must remember that her "spell" is supposedly a sacrifice to a god, and the god actually does the killing. Now, we know that all 3 kings died of mundane causes, not some blue bolt from heaven. So to say the "spell" worked, we only need to accept that the red god had some influence in the minds of those who did the deeds.

Now if a god is taking a hand, maybe the spell did impact the actions/success of the faceless man, even if the contract preceded the spell. And, further yet, since we're talking about divine intervention, maybe the god knew the spell was going to be cast, and the sacrifice was going to be made, so he set the contract in motion in advance, being omniscient and all.
Anthony Pero
95. anthonypero
@94: That would certainly work in a monotheistic setting, with one all-powerful, omnicient and ominpresent deity. But, while its safe to assume the Red God is real, its not safe to assume that it is omnicsient. I personally think it makes Mellisendre more bad-ass if she saw their deaths in the flames and manipulated the situation to gain more control over Stannis, whom she truly believes to be the prophecied savior.
Tabby Alleman
96. Tabbyfl55
Ok, but I'm not assuming the red god is omniscient. Only that it's possible.
Anthony Pero
97. anthonypero
Fair enough. Although, I don't see how a truly omnicient God could ever be defeated. Might be a little confining to the story if the Red God was omniscient, and could fulfill "prayers" retroactively.
Captain Hammer
98. Randalator
Well, what if there were to be two omnisciences?

(Obscure reference ahoy! If you get it without looking it up, will you marry me?)
Tabby Alleman
99. Tabbyfl55
"What if two swallows carried it together?"


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