Thu
Mar 6 2014 2:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 6

A Song of Ice and Fire George R R Martin Feast for CrowsWelcome 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 6 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 8 (“Jaime”) and Chapter 9 (“Brienne”).

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 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 8: Jaime

What Happens
Jaime stands vigil over his father’s corpse and thinks of how it is his fault Tywin is dead, for arranging to set Tyrion free. He tells his father’s corpse that he meant for Varys to take Tyrion to a ship, not to kill him, but knows it does not change his guilt. He remembers how he had threatened Varys with his life unless he helped free Tyrion, and how Tyrion had snarled at him that he had in fact killed Joffrey. Jaime has not slept since.

He wonders whether Tyrion killed Varys too or if Varys escaped with his brother. Jaime thinks with humiliation of his difficulties leading the search parties that searched the tunnels below the castle, because of his missing hand. On seeing the dragon bones deep below, he remembered the day Prince Rhaegar rode out, and how he had refused Jaime’s plea to leave someone else guarding the king, saying the king is too fearful of Tywin to be willing to give up the leverage Jaime represented. Rhaegar had said he planned to call a council and make some long-overdue changes when he returned, but then he never came back. Jaime comments to the corpse that changes were indeed made, though.

He wonders why he feels no grief or anger, but comments to the corpse that after having told Jaime that tears were a sign of weakness, he could hardly expect that Jaime would cry now. He suspects most of the mourners to be secretly delighting in Tywin’s downfall, though Pycelle seems genuinely distraught, saying Tywin was a greater man than any of the six kings Pycelle has served. Jaime realizes Pycelle is dying, and that may be why Cersei called him useless, though he thinks that Cersei seems to think everyone in court was “either useless or treasonous.” Rennifer Longwaters, the chief undergaoler, told Jaime that the missing gaoler, Rugen, was often absent from his post, as his level was seldom used except for Lord Stark, Pycelle briefly, and Tyrion. Jaime was stunned to learn that the two turnkeys who were asleep during the jailbreak had already been executed, and immediately divined his sister’s hand in that, a fact the Kettleblacks confirmed to him later. Jaime told them the next time Cersei orders them to kill someone, they are to come to Jaime first.

The stench of death grows worse in the sept as the service drones on, and the rictus smile on Tywin’s face seems to be growing wider. The grotesqueness of the sight, and the irony of standing vigil at the side of his father, who he’d helped his brother kill, makes Jaime laugh aloud. He thinks of Brienne, and prays “Father, give her strength,” though he is unsure which Father he is talking to. He remembers his last vigil at fifteen, before being knighted, and thinks that boy is dead now. He wonders what he will write in the White Book after this.

Cersei comes to him after, when the sept is empty, disguised in a rough cloak, to tell him Kevan knows about them and has refused to be Hand. She is frightened at how many people Tyrion could have told, and pleads with Jaime to be Hand, for she does not trust Mace Tyrell. Jaime reminds her that he wants them to rule together as king and queen, but Cersei says she doesn’t dare. She begs on behalf of their son, but Jaime replies that she made Tommen Robert’s son. She says she needs him, “her other half,” and that he promised to always love her. Jaime says he was “made for a battlefield, not a council chamber.” Angrily, Cersei tells him it’s battlefields he’ll get, then, and leaves.

By dawn, Tywin is visibly rotting on the bier. The septons try to cover the stench with incense, but without success. Cersei and Tommen enter last after the other noble mourners; Jaime thinks of Tyrion’s accusation that Cersei had been sleeping with Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack “and Moon Boy for all I know,” and tells himself it was a lie, but cannot stop picturing it. Tommen tries to pray before his grandfather’s hideously rotting corpse, but begins crying, then retching, and then the boy runs for the doors. Jaime chases after him and takes him outside. Tommen insists he wasn’t scared, but the smell made him sick. Jaime tells him the world is full of horrors, and he must face them; he advises Tommen to “go away inside,” to look without seeing.

Cersei appears and berates Tommen and Jaime both, but quiets when Mace Tyrell approaches. She tells him the king was “overwhelmed by grief.” Jaime suggests he dine with Cersei that evening; Tyrell is startled, but agrees. He leaves, and Cersei is furious, but Jaime tells her she should ask Tyrell to capture Storm’s End for Tommen, which will get him out of her hair and also keep Tyrell happy. Cersei looks thoughtful, but points out that Tyrell has vowed not to leave until Margaery marries Tommen. Jaime says to marry them, then; the union can always be set aside later before it is consummated. Cersei smiles and muses that Tyrell could even be killed on such a venture.

“There is that risk,” conceded Jaime. “Especially if his patience runs thin this time, and he elects to storm the gate.”

Cersei gave him a lingering look. “You know,” she said, “for a moment you sounded quite like Father.”

Commentary
And the best part is, she means it as a compliment.

Lannisters.

*headdesk*

Jaime’s plan to get rid of Tyrell does seem to hold water, though – as long as you’re okay with the basic dishonesty of committing to a marriage contract you don’t intend to honor, of course. But hey, as dick moves go, by this series’ standards that barely rates a tsk tsk, so whatever, right?

His plan doesn’t, however, address the issue of who is going to be Hand. I note, though, that by coming up with this idea Jaime also kind of gave the lie to his claim that he sucks at politics. I’m willing to bet that he may have painted himself into a corner on that score.

And… okay. So I get why Jaime would consider becoming a politician, even in such a lofty position as Hand, to be a downgrade from being a warrior, because Jaime has swallowed wholesale his society’s bullshit about fighting prowess being the only truly acceptable Manly Attribute, and has built his whole life and identity around that supposed truth, and you can’t just do a one-eighty on your entire worldview overnight no matter how delusional and harmful it may be, objectively. I get that. But it’s starting to seem really clear that Jaime’s warrior days are over (since apparently there doesn’t seem to be even rudimentary prosthetics technology up in here – I mean, y’all can’t even give the man a hook or something?), and I can’t help but think that as fallback positions go, being the Hand of the King ain’t all that shabby, you know? Just food for thought, Jaime.

(Even with all the inevitable “hand” jokes that will follow, because people are assholes. Ugh.)

Jaime’s memory of Rhaegar was interesting, in the “depressing might-have-been” vein most of ASOIAF’s flashbacks tend to be. The implication seems to be that even before it happened, Jaime had intuited (even if only nebulously) that his father was going to get him to do something awful (i.e. regicide) in the name of family loyalty, and was trying to circumvent that by simply not being available to do the deed. And wow, how differently things would have gone if Rhaegar had granted Jaime’s request, eh? Not necessarily better, because the safe bet with this story is to always assume things will go pear-shaped one way or another, but definitely differently.

Also on display in this chapter is Jaime’s rather astounding naïveté when it comes to Cersei and her extracurricular bedroom activities. And this whole thing is just so messed up, because on the one hand it’s sort of insane that Jaime would automatically expect her fidelity to their incestuous adulterous love affair, but on the other hand, Jaime clearly views their relationship as not at all an “incestuous adulterous love affair,” but rather as a pure and predestined ultimate romance that transcends paltry notions of societal taboos. So in a weird way it does make sense that he would expect it. Even more so than from a “normal” relationship, in fact.

Sigh. Oh, Jaime.

And the thing is, I find myself shying away in some respects from automatically condemning Cersei for being the more practical of the two, because it’s obviously really easy to call her a slut and a sexual predator or whatever, while blithely ignoring the paucity of other weapons she has at her disposal. I don’t like her goals and I can’t condone many or most of her methods, but I hesitate to call her on this one in particular, simply because it is so very tangled up in the lack of advantages she has to start out with.

That said, she’s playing a very dangerous game, in that she has to know what Jaime’s reaction will be if he finds proof that Tyrion was telling him the truth about Cersei’s paramours. Because rejecting the mores of the society you live in, unfortunately (or fortunately, depending), does not exempt you from suffering the consequences of flaunting said mores. Even if the “mores” in question only apply to your lover-slash-twin-brother’s somewhat twisted conception of true love.

Jeez, what a mess.

As for Jaime’s guilt over Tywin’s death, well. Logically, of course, Jaime really can’t be held responsible for whatever Tyrion did after he was freed, as long as he didn’t actually conspire with Tyrion to do it, but viscerally it’s really not that surprising that Jaime would feel guilty anyway. I guess I should try to get over being surprised that both the twins feel (in their own peculiar ways, natch) genuine grief over Tywin’s death, because of course in contrast to Tyrion, they were the favored children (the literal “golden children,” in fact), and were as close to receiving Tywin’s version of “love” anyone was ever going to get. That Tywin’s version of paternal love is objectively horrifying doesn’t really change how much his children vied to get it, or that they would feel bereft at losing it. Which makes me just want to go back and kick Tywin in his rotting head all over again, but, you know.

In other news, so either the embalming process in Westeros is truly for shit, or Cersei’s belief that they messed it up deliberately has merit, because otherwise I don’t understand why else Tywin’s body would be decomposing so rapidly. Granted, I am hardly an expert at post-mortem… thingies, but the description of the corpse’s rate of decay seems unnaturally quick to me. Maybe it has something to do with Tywin dying of a perforated bowel, which cannot make things fun in the odor department regardless, but still, this seems kind of hinky.

I can’t get all that upset about it, though, because screw you, Tywin, except for how I really wish that Tommen wasn’t getting subjected to this. But given who he is and who his family is, Jaime does have a (horrible) point in that he’d better learn to suck it up, because it’s probably only going to get worse from here. And people wonder why royal families were historically always so fucked up. It’s not shocking at all once you consider the details.

I find it significant, by the way, that Jaime’s advice to Tommen on how to deal with things is to “go away inside,” which sounds remarkably to me like descriptions of how people, especially children, deal with long-term systematic abuse. Or torture.

Lannisters.

*sad face*

 

Chapter 9: Brienne

What Happens
Brienne waits with farmfolk and such for the gates of Duskendale to open. She tries asking about Sansa, but without success. The guards stop her on seeing her shield’s arms (the black bat of Lothston), saying they are of ill repute, but Brienne says they are not hers and she intends to have them repainted, whereupon the captain advises her to seek out his sister, who does such work, and they let her in. Inside, she sees battlefield looters hawking arms and armor, many with sigils she recognizes.

She finds the captain’s sister at The Seven Swords, the largest inn in town. Brienne doesn’t dare reproduce the arms of Tarth, and instead commissions a different sigil she’d seen in her father’s armory. The painter promises to have it for her by the next day, and Brienne goes to book a room and bath at the inn. She remembers Jaime bathing with her in Harrenhal and blushes. She dresses and goes to the Dun Fort and asks for the lord of the castle, but the guards tell her Lord Rykker rode to Maidenpool with Lord Tarly, and escort her to Ser Rufus Leek, the castellan, instead.

Leek’s maester is impatient with her request, and tells her she is hardly the first to come seeking Dontos. Brienne shows him her letter with Tommen’s signature, whereupon he tells her the story of how Lord Denys Darklyn had captured King Aerys and held the Hand (Tywin) at bay for six months, supposedly at the instigation of his Myrish wife Lady Serala, “the Lace Serpent,” and how the Darklyns were executed en masse once the king was rescued and Denys surrendered. The Hollards (Dontos’s house) were “attainted and destroyed,” save for Dontos himself, whose life was spared at Ser Barristan’s request. The maester says Dontos never returned to Duskendale after that, though, and suggests she try Oldtown, or outside the Seven Kingdoms.

Brienne can’t imagine that Sansa would have gone where she has no friends, and remembers what one of Sansa’s former maids had told her about Sansa’s dedication to the old gods, and her conviction that she would have gone back north to them. Brienne considers Sansa’s uncle and half-brother on the Wall, and her great uncle Ser Brynden at Riverrun, and Catelyn’s younger sister ruling the Vale. She thinks that the Wall and war-torn Riverrun might be too difficult to reach, but that Sansa could have gone to Lady Lysa at the Eyrie.

On the way back from the castle, Brienne finds herself in a dead-end alley, and in turning back collides with a scrawny boy with a sty beneath one eye who seems vaguely familiar to Brienne. He nervously denies when she asks, though, and scurries off. Brienne is suspicious, and then remembers seeing him on a piebald horse at the gates, and possibly somewhere else, but cannot recall it. Back at the crowded inn, a dwarf dressed as a holy brother offers her his seat; she talks with him of his troubles with the war.

He claims to have seen no maid such as she describes, though he mentions seeing a fool dressed in motley at Maidenpool, though it was all in rags and dirt, at an unsavory place called the Stinking Goose, seeking passage for three across the narrow sea. He says that there was another man named Nimble Dick a few days later, buying rounds for everyone and claiming he’d “fooled a fool” and gotten gold for it. Brienne wonders if possibly the Imp had joined Sansa and Dontos to flee across the sea. Maidenpool is a bad place, she knows, and if Randyll Tarly is there it is the more reason for her to avoid it, but she thinks she could check out the story and then take ship north from there.

She hears the talk in the common room of Tywin Lannister’s death, and the contempt at the idea that the Kingslayer might rule them until Tommen comes of age, and decides to go to bed. She dreams of the night of Renly’s murder, but sees that the shadow had slain Jaime instead of Renly, because she failed him.

The next day the captain’s sister brings her her freshly painted shield, and Brienne is so pleased with it she pays half again the asking price for the work. She leaves town, stopping to pray for the Starks at the mass grave for the northern dead nearby. She remembers how Lady Catelyn had looked on learning of the death of her younger sons, and how she had spoken of her daughters, and vows anew to find Sansa no matter the cost to herself.

She rides on, and shelters that night in the ruins of a small castle which she realizes had once been a Hollard property. Another horse approaches, and she thinks it is Ser Shadrich following her, but it is the boy on the piebald horse. He goes on without seeing her, and Brienne realizes she’d seen him before Duskendale, in Rosby, and that he’s been following her. She goes after him, and sneaks close enough to whack his mount and send him flying. She demands to know who he is, and he eventually stammers that his name is Podrick Payne, and he is the Imp’s former squire. She asks what he wants.

“To find her.” The boy got to his feet. “His lady. You’re looking for her. Brella told me. She’s his wife. Not Brella, Lady Sansa. So I thought, if you found her…” His face twisted in sudden anguish. “I’m his squire,” he repeated, as the rain ran down his face, “but he left me.”

Commentary
Oh, wow, so that was a total bolt of sympathy from nowhere.

Who would have thought Podrick to be so loyal to Tyrion that he would go to such lengths? Because the thing is, I don’t remember Tyrion treating Podrick all that well when they were together. I don’t remember him treating Podrick badly, so much, but not particularly well, either. Mostly just because Tyrion was too caught up in his own shit to pay the kid much attention in general, but still.

But then, Podrick did save Tyrion’s life during the battle at King’s Landing. I can’t really recall whether (or how much) Tyrion acknowledged his debt to Podrick as a result, but either way Podrick is totally justified to feeling like he was owed more than just abandonment from Tyrion. I bet Tyrion would be quite startled to hear Podrick views it that way, though.

The whole thing gets a bittersweet “Aw” from me. See, Tyrion, someone did have your back. If only you’d not been too embroiled in your own self-esteem issues to see it.

Also, newsflash: Martin is evil. In some ways more extreme than others, but this chapter provides one of the more subdued examples. Brienne was so close to correctly divining where Sansa had gone, y’all, and then this dwarf brother guy throws her completely off track. And on a route likely to land her in a world of trouble, too. ARGH.

“Lord Denys lost his head, as did his brothers and his sister, uncles, cousins, all the lordly Darklyns. The Lace Serpent was burned alive, poor woman, though her tongue was torn out first, and her female parts, with which it was said that she had enslaved her lord. Half of Duskendale will still tell you that Aerys was too kind to her.”

Wow. Denys gets a simple beheading, but Serala gets hyper-sexualized mutilations and torture and burned at the stake. But I’m sure there’s no double standard at work there, or anything.

And dude, what is all this hoopla about Aerys getting captured and held hostage and stuff? When did this happen? Man, just when you think Westeros history couldn’t get any more confusing. And why did Barristan specifically request for Dontos’s life to be spared, out of all the Hollards? Maybe it was just sympathy for a poor kid who had nothing to do with his family’s crimes, but now I’m all paranoid and seeing significance everywhere so I will assume IT WAS A PLOT until proven otherwise. Or until I forget about it, which, er, admittedly has a somewhat higher chance of happening. Oh well!

I will find her, my lady, Brienne swore to Lady Catelyn’s restless shade. I will never stop looking. I will give up my life if need be, give up my honor, give up all my dreams, but I will find her.

Well, um, yay for dedication, I guess, Brienne, but let’s aim for it not coming to that, yes?

Sheesh. Big damn heroes, always so ready to be martyrs.

I am annoyed that we did not get to learn in this chapter what exactly Brienne had painted on her shield. However, I assume that that is because her new coat of arms will become significant in some way later on, so I am disgruntled but content to leave it for now. Hopefully it will not turn out that her new stolen sigil is even more bad luck juju than her old one…

[ETA: Oooorrr, I am a big dumbass, and totally missed a sentence in the chapter about the shield:

She remembered how she’d run her fingertips across the cracked and fading paint, over the green leaves of the tree, and along the path of the falling star.

Because Omigosh, that's Dunk's shield! So cool!

Awesome shoutout, and I almost missed it. So thanks to the commenters who pointed it out.]

Fighting with sword and shield was a wearisome business, and victory oft went to the man with most endurance. Ser Goodwin had taught her to fight cautiously, to conserve her strength while letting her foes spend theirs in furious attacks. “Men will always underestimate you,” he said, “and their pride will make them want to vanquish you quickly, lest it be said that a woman tried them sorely.”

Heh. So I guess sexism can have a good side!

(Ba dum dum)

Brienne’s thoughts on never being able to tell how old children are made me laugh, because one thing I have managed to hear about the HBO series is how they deliberately aged up the child characters because Martin straight-up admitted that he had no concept of children’s ages, and thus made the book characters at least a couple of years younger than he should have. So hey, at least he’s aware of his shortcomings, right?

And last and most definitely least: “Nimble Dick.” HAHAHAHA I am metaphorically twelve. But then, evidently so is Martin, sometimes. (actual mental ages may vary!)

*snicker*


And on that very mature note, we out! Have a lovely first Lenten week, if you be so inclined to that, and I’ll see you next Thursday!

83 comments
Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
Jaime actually is pretty good at politics when he puts his mind to it, but in his new and improved state he looks to be honoring his vow to be a Kingsguard member for life - so, no hand for Jaime (literally).

The rest of the chapter makes clear how it s*cks to be new and improved Jaime. Tries to help Tyrion and not only does father get killed by Tyrion proudly claims that he did in fact murder Jaime's son. Ouch. Maybe should have had that discussion before setting him free. The "nevermind" scene would have been interesting to read.

Re Brienne - very good catch a few chapters ago to notice that an unnamed boy was following her. Great pick up and great reveal re Pod. I do think Tyrion was appreciative of Pod post-battle but post-battle he didn't have much time to show his appreciation. (One note - the HBO show makes a big joke about Tyrion arranging for substantial "reward" to the much older Pod. Not going to give you the details, though.) Also, very good pick up on Brienne's incredibly depressing vow - I had entirely forgotten that. Of course, no chance it will ever matter going forward. No hard tests for our Brienne, no sirree.

I don't have my book with me, and don't want to spoil, but the arms Brienne elects to copy are very interesting.
Eli Bishop
2. EliBishop
"Flouting", not "flaunting." Pet peeve, that.

Otherwise, very nice writeup - I always enjoy your thoughts on the Lannisters.
Kat W.
3. Kat W.
Thanks Leigh, wonderful as always. I've started ADWD now, so way ahead of you, but all that means is I eagerly await Thursdays now!

...Thursdays....I never could get the hang of Thursdays. (Internet cookie to anyone who gets the reference!)
Chris Nelly
4. Aeryl
A strange man in a fool's motley wondering the Riverlands, looking to leave Westeros. Since we all know Dontos is dead, WHO COULD IT BE?

I like how Varys' disappearance/death really clouds the issue of Tyrion. Did he leave Westeros as Jaime thought he was? Or did he kill Varys, and is still wondering the tunnels beneath the Red Keep, looking for vengeance against his family?

Jaime's advice to Tommen about going away inside, applies to himself as well. He has this detachment when talking about the atrocities he saw Aerys commit, that tells you he's speaking from experience to Tommen here.

And talk about what might have been's, what might have been if Rhaegar CAME BACK? Was he planning to depose Aerys himself, and take the throne, thus ending the worst of the rebellion? What changes was he going to make?

And Brienne, oh Brienne, I LUV HER! I love that Pod found her(and yes it justs breaks my heart).

The thing about Pod, is that Tyrion demonstrated a great deal of kindness to him, considering where he came from. He's related to Ser Ilyn Payne after all, the King's Justice, who you want to feel bad for, cuz TONGUE, but can't because by all indications, he seems to like his job too much. Pod, OTOH, is a sweet shy kid from a family of brutal killers, as much as black sheep to his family as Tyrion is to his. I can see how Pod saw that connection between them, and valued Tyrion all the more for it(the show has done this relationship good justice, IMO).
Kat W.
5. Lyanna Mormont
That Jaime-Tommen scene always gets to me. Is that the first time Jaime has had a chance to act sort of fatherly towards his son? Also, "go away inside" gives me flashbacks to the abth scene when he talks to Brienne about all the things Aerys did and how he was supposed to just stand by and do nothing, because he was of the Kingsguard and Aerys was the king.

Heh. Jaime with a hook. :)

Brienne. That whole sequence of her going into a town, being told she shouldn't carry that coat of arms, and finding a woman to paint something else on her shield... obvious parallel to Dunk in The Hedge Knight, yes? Then we get a dwarf, and Nimble Dick, and The Stinking Goose - really, what a name!

Plenty of sadness in this chapter, with first the memory of Catelyn's grief, and the graves of the northeners, and then poor abandoned Podrick.
Eli Bishop
6. EliBishop
Oh, hey - I think maybe you missed reading one sentence, because you said "I am annoyed that we did not get to learn in this chapter what exactly Brienne had painted on her shield." Actually she does describe the sigil:

"... the sight of it took her back ... She remembered how she'd run her fingertips across the cracked and fading paint, over the green leaves of the tree, and along the path of the falling star."

So, a tree with a falling star overhead.
Kat W.
7. Black Dread
You and Cersei forget that Jamie has stood guard during probably thousands of meetings of 3 different kings' and their counselors. He has witnessed first-hand far more actual governing than Cersei.

What he saw in those meetings may have more to do with him not wanting to rule than any desire to remain a warrior. Dealing with his idiot sister is also good reason not to take the job – Kevin was right to refuse, she wants a puppet. Even in these side conversations, Jamie gives Cersei excellent advise, but she is too stupid to heed any of it. Imagine how badly their council meetings would go.
Kat W.
8. zambi76
This Jaime chapter was the one were Cersei really started to piss me off, what with her bitching (actually getting physically abusive) about Tommen not being Joffy (take that you horrible queen and mother).

I could not care less with whom she has sex. So calling her a slut or worse is dumb as fuck. Jaime does care, so he and most of fandom seem to think otherwise.
I am annoyed that we did not get to learn in this chapter what exactly Brienne had painted on her shield. However, I assume that that is because her new coat of arms will become significant in some way later on, so I am disgruntled but content to leave it for now.
*bites tongue, puts on shit eating grin*
Kat W.
9. Guest 77
Brienne = Big Damn Hero, indeed! And a nod to Firefly!
Kat W.
10. TG12
Re: Brienne's new shield device, we've seen it before, actually (in the course of this read through), but it's maybe a bit obscure to recollect, and to make the connection falls afoul of the spoiler policy, I think.

I get the sense that Jaime was never really dumb per se (certainly not like Cersei characterizes him in her POV), but more that in his previous incarnation he was all focused on stereotypically hyper-masculine stuff like knocking other guys off horses with sticks and hitting stuff with sharp (and blunt) objects. Now that he is, of necessity (but also with some added maturity), turning over a new leaf, so to speak, his native Lannister cunning is maybe going to have a chance to develop a bit. We'll see.
Kat W.
11. Hyperanthropos
The tragedy of Jamie Lannister is, that no matter how questionable his affair with his sister was, his feelings for her were true. Unfortunatley for him, Cersei is too vain and egoistical to really love somebody. She wants love, but on her terms alone. Cersei self-decepts herself into believing that she loves her children and her twin brother, but observe how she reacts when the people, whom she claims to love, don't obey her orders.
Rob Munnelly
12. RobMRobM
Did Jaime tell Brienne to go away when they were with Vargo Hoat and he assumed she'd be raped? I can't remember, but it sounds likely. And, yes, no doubt he took his own advice during Aerys' reign of terror.
Kat W.
13. just some guy
The real spiritual relative to this entire series is not some book on high fantasy or political manueverings.

It's the mismatched buddy-cop or road trip movie.

Before we had: Cat/Tyrion, Jamie/Brienne, Bran and the Swamp Children, Jon/Halfhand, Dunk/Egg and countless others...

and now time for Brienne/Pod wacky's adventure!
Deana Whitney
14. Braid_Tug
You know, about the only time we hear about painting, is on shields. In D&E, the girl with the puppets. Now a captain’s sister. Hope she lives.

Must suck to be an artist in Westeros. Only the singers get any acclaim, and look what can happen to them!
Kat W.
15. Stoicism
We shouldn't rule out the idea of Jaime becoming a formidable warrior again, since we already have an example of a character who adapted after having his sword hand maimed - Qhorin Halfhand.
Kat W.
16. I am of the Dark
I think its really intresting on the difference in the way Jaime and Cersei look at their relationship. Also did they have a description of Brienne's new sigil. If they did can you place it?
Deana Whitney
17. Braid_Tug
But was Halfhand on his dominate hand? Can't remember.
Kat W.
18. Minstral
@16
The Halfand had some fingers left on his maimed hand, allowing himself to switch his main grip to the other while providing support for his sword on the mained hand (which still had a thumb and index finger). Its going to be more of a struggle as Jaime is also farther into his life then the Halfhand was when he suffered his maiming.
Kat W.
19. WCjobber
Yeah, the basic Tyrion/Pod dynamic was "Tyrion likes Pod, but doesn't really have a moment to let him know it due to all the bullshit he's wrapped up in". It's one thing I think the show does better than the books, is it fleshed out Tyrion's relationship with Pod a bit more.
Eli Bishop
20. EliBishop
Black Dread @7: I guess Jaime did get to see some of Aerys's governance before Aerys went nuts, but I don't think the rest of his Kingsguard career was very useful as political education. Robert basically ignored everything and left it to his counsellors while he partied (and Jaime had to stand guard while Robert was partying; he didn't get to hang out with the Hand). And he never got to see the third king doing anything at all.

I am of the dark @16: I quoted the description of the shield above, @6.
Adam S.
21. MDNY
Is talking about the shield a spoiler? The design on the shield was described in the chapter, and it should be familiar, but Leigh apparently missed the description.
Love Pod. He and Brienne should become the Westeros Batman and Robin (Batwoman and Robin?)
Oops, see someone beat me to the punch about the shield.
Maiane Bakroeva
22. Isilel
Well, Jaime is right to feel guilty, since he was the one who told Tyrion about Tysha and provoked Tywin's murder. Not to mention that telling Tyrion about it when he was already so very down and has just lost everything was an awful thing to do. Funny how Jaime never quite connects the dots, though.

Oh, and finally Cersei's real tragedy is revealed - even Jaime is more intelligent than she is when he troubles to use his brains!
Let's stop with all the "she wasn't educated for it" and "she wasn't present at the council meetings" bullshit. She had 2 people at her beck and call who could have filled gaps in her education and reported to her everything that went on in these meetings - Pycelle and Jaime. And she was free to observe how things were done in open court under 2 different administrations. So, yea, Cersei could have learned.

"And the best part is, she means it as a compliment."

Let's not forget that Tywin was an intelligent man and a very capable ruler and politician, among other things. Tyrion learned a lot from observing him and studying his actions, most of it legitimately useful.

"Jaime has swallowed wholesale his society’s bullshit about fighting prowess being the only truly acceptable Manly Attribute"

Except that Tywin wasn't known for his personal fighting prowess and highly valued excellence in politics and intrigue. Not to mention general appreciation for wits and cunning being part of the internal ideal of House Lannister.
So, I wouldn't necessarily blame society for Jaime's perception of himself. It may have been rebellion against his father and family, natural gravitating to the area where he was undisputably brilliant or even something Cersei cultivated, since she preferred to be the "brains" in their relationship.

And yea, I think that Jaime did have a right to expect sexual exclusiveness from Cersei once Robert was dead. She was the one who got him to abandon his inheritance for the promise of being together forever...

"That Tywin’s version of paternal love is objectively horrifying"

I dunno, I thought that he was pretty average towards the twins as far as noble parents go in Westeros.

"Jaime had intuited (even if only nebulously) that his father was going to get him to do something awful (i.e. regicide) in the name of family loyalty"

IMHO, Jaime rather expected Aerys to make him witness and possibly participate in even more horrors (which he did). Not surprisingly he preferred a clean, potentially glorious battle under the leadership of charismatic Rhaegar.
We know from his own PoV that Jaime didn't kill Aerys for Tywin's sake and that he didn't expect Tywin to murder Elia and her children.

Re: what could have been - if Jaime had marched with Rhaegar, Tywin probably would have shown up to support him. IMHO, a lot of his actions during the Rebellion were motivated by protecting Jaime.

Brienne and Podrick - it is a beginning of a beautiful friendship! Hopefully.
Tom Smith
23. phuzz
Was there any link between the woman that paints Brienne's shield and Dunk's painteress? Or is painting sheilds in Westeros 'women's work'?
Andrew Berenson
24. AndrewHB
Leigh, you noted above: "Jaime’s plan to get rid of Tyrell does seem to hold water, though – as long as you’re okay with the basic dishonesty of committing to a marriage contract you don’t intend to honor, of course. But hey, as dick moves go, by this series’ standards that barely rates a tsk tsk, so whatever, right?"

Was the pun intended?

Thanks for reading my musings.
AndrewB
Kat W.
25. DougL
I have no evidence for this, but maybe Tywin was poisoned (not my original thought but from a source I won't say for it leads to insane spoilers). Because he was on the toilet and didn't expunge until dying and now is rotting horribly. That's it, nothing else exists to say one way or the other, but it is telling that a well known poisoner was in town and died conveniently so nobody suspects him.
Vincent Lane
26. Aegnor
Leigh,

You went another direction than I did with your "what could have been". I wondered what could have been if Rhaegar had not waited until it was too late to "make some changes". If he'd had done that earlier it is very possible the entire war would have been avoided.

Rhaegar taking Jamie up on letting someone else guard the king, however, I don't think would have ended up well at all. Aerys would have ended up burning down King's Landing and killing hundreds of thousands.
Scott Silver
27. hihosilver28
I personally think that Tywin's stench and decomposition is another example of magic creeping back in. It's slightly supernatural and...off. There definitely could be a physical reason for it, but that's just my own personal head canon.
Kat W.
28. joyceman
Gotta disagree with the interpretation of Jamie's motivations in this chapter.

The rejection of the "handship" has nothing to do with being 'manly' and everything to do with his decision to distance himself from Cersei and rededicate himself to the kingsgaurd.

Re Rhaeger, I dont see any desire in Jamie to leave the city to avoid Tywin or his potential requested regicide. So far as Kings Landing knew at that point, Tywin was sitting it out, much like the Late Lord Frey. Jamie was disgusted by Aerys' inclinations towards torture and madness and seemed to be caught up in Rhaegar's charisma. Unaware of the outcome, most people would have preferred to be with Rhaeger.
Kat W.
29. Bill D5
I think the lesson to take from Jaime's internal issues in this chapter (and the ones in aSoS) is that these so-called sexism issues dump on both men and women. Men are valued for their warrior contributions ahead of anything else they might bring to the table, just as womens' primary value lies in their reproductive-related assets (including beauty). I have to think Martin is really not self-aware or else is deliberately subverting a lot of tropes. For all that everyone goes on about underlying sexist assumptions in traditional fantasy, NOT being sexist, or protesting sexism, is practically a cliche in contemporary genre works. I read an interview where Martin expresses extreme contempt for the whole "princess runs off with the stableboy" cliche for the complete lack of real-world historical precedents.

Anyway, just as the events that play out seem to undermine the oft-stated position that pragmatism is more desirable than honor, I wonder if he is not subverting the by-now pro forma recognition of medieval-style sexism, by demonstrating that the complete set of gender assumptions is not necessarily a picnic for the men either.

You can draw out the analogy comparing a warrior to a sexually objectified woman pretty far, based on examples of this series, IMO. The warrior who gets too old or injured is in pretty much the same boat as the actress or model or trophy wife/kept woman who loses her looks. Jaime and Tyrion are actually kind of petulant in regard to their issues, because they are only unfortunate by the standards of people with sky-high expectations. Neither is hardly the first man with those physical afflictions, nor are theirs all that earth-shattering compared to what some people have to deal with, except 99% of those people have to deal with their handicaps WITHOUT the status, legal power and wealth that comes with being Lannisters. And the same goes for Cersei regarding her expectations versus her gender limitations.

We can talk about the lack of weapons Cersei has...but these are "weapons" for achieving subversive and unworthy agendas! It's like saying "Give that criminal a break. Sure he murders the inhabitants of houses he breaks into, but that's because he lacks the natural talent or the funds to acquire equipment that would allow him to rob the house without being noticed!" Had she not been hell-bent on seizing power she had no right to, she would not have needed to use sex as a weapon. And I say that not as a "woman should keep to her place" thing but as a "ends don't justify the means" issue.

It is (rightly) considered horrible and sexist to suggest that if Cersei had been a better wife to Robert things would not have come to the pass where he hit her, back in GoT, but it seems to be just fine to say that she would not have been such a hostile spiteful bitch if he had not cheated on her and had given her more agency in his rule. As it was, one of the problems Ned encountered was that she had way too much influence at court, especially for the "mere wife" of the king, whom the king despised, in a theoretically super-sexist society. For all the lip service paid to the absolute dominion by men, the reality doesn't quite match up. We see the same in Stannis' court, where his wife and her family hold sway, and generally for the worse. The Tyrell women also run their own games and take their ability to have their way with Mace for granted (and express disgruntlement that he sometimes does what he wants) . Doran Martell's biggest headache seems to be that his bastard neices run wild despite what should be a double dose of marginalization. Even the Starks might have been a little better off if a bit more patriarchal domination had kept Catelyn from committing the more disastrous blunders that contributed to their downfall. At the very least, Jon Snow might have had a happier childhood if Catelyn didn't have so much influence in Winterfell.

Now I'm not saying that this status quo is wrong, or out of tune with the ideals of marriage, just that the ostensible absolute domination of men is not the practical reality.

And in that vein, the sexism that enforces a view of womanhood also enforces a view of manhood, either of which can be really unfortunate for the individuals who don't mesh really well. While we take for granted that there are a lot of women chafing under having their brains or courage or martial prowess hidden under a bushel of reproductive obligations, we see many explicit cases of men being similarly forced to live up to martial obligations. Rhaegar, Sam Tarly, Willas Tyrell and numerous others show how men, regardless of their talents or inclinations, have to embrace the warrior culture, or be marginalized to a degree.

And in real life, that more insidious kind of sexism (that is ironically often cited as an example of male privilege) took a lot longer to die out. The idea that society has the right to compell young men to fight and die lasted a lot longer in the western world than the idea that young women had an obligation to marry whom they were told. How many draftees in Vietnam had sisters suffering in arranged marriages?

And when you consider the much more serious consequences to this form of male victimization (i.e. death, in large numbers and as the whole point of the thing, as opposed to the unfortunate abberrations that wife murder and obstetric mortality are considered to be), it is kind of hard to accept that this society is uniquely hard on women.

As with any societal practice or institution, a lot depends on how the individuals involved behave. In both cases of the socially demanded gender roles, you can see how they originated and bcame entrenched: the ability to fight is a prerequisite for a society to survive, and to fight (or do much of anything else without powered machines) you need numbers. Thus, men are expected to put their lives at the disposal of the greater good and women, their wombs.

And while we see that men have their share of unhappiness or misfortune stemming from compulsory marriage, the reciprocal expectations for women to die for the cause are lacking. People cite sexism as a reason why Robb can't or won't trade Jaime for his sisters, but when men are the prisoners or hostages, you see very little clamor among readers for, say, Wyman Manderly to give in to Tywin's demands so that his son might be released, or for the Lannisters to make more of a good faith effort to bargain for Jaime's freedom (when he is being kept in considerably worse living conditions than Sansa). Objectively, Sansa is a Stark, born to certain privileges and luxuries as a result, and just as it is Robb's duty to risk his life to free his sisters and his father from the consequences of the former's treachery and the latter's ineptitude, so it should be her duty to risk her life, even passively ("they also serve who only stand and wait" ), in order to preserve military and political advantages for her family's cause. If the sons of a noble house can die to put a rightful king on the throne, why can't Sansa die to preserve that king's claim, as Varys threatens Ned with in the dungeons? Yet, where Ned might not have sold out the whole cause had Robb been the captive (as, for example, Manderly vows not to do in aCoK), he does so for his girl, and this choice, while widely debated among fandom, has its share of support.

Regarding the risk of male lives, we see numerous examples that society actually rewards willingness to die fighting to such a degree that it could be argued that they are conditioned against self-preservation. A man needs pressing and extensive reasons to NOT risk his life if he wishes to retain his social standing. Catelyn even mentions how death in battle is made out to be attractive while pleading with Robb to avoid it for her sake. Loras Tyrell is said to be Mace's favorite son, and Robert calls him "a son any man would be proud to own (emph. mine)", when he is shown to be hot-headed, pridefull and possibly foolhardy, as opposed to the virtues such as intelligence and decency we see in his brothers by example and anecdote, or the possibly superior combat skills of Garlan. It can't be solely his skill that sets Loras above his brothers in paternal and societal approval - perhaps it is his more ready conformity to the expectation that young men be willing to unquestioningly throw their lives away. Even that same father, despite his wealth and power, seems to be constantly seeking that elusive military reputation as the more desirable trait, as alluded in this chapter and the last book. Oberyn Martell also cited Mace pushing his sons too hard too soon as the cause of Willas' crippling injury (and since an unknighted squire was jousting against a famous warrior, he seems to have a point).

Being ordered to constantly put their lives at hazard and experience the terror that is unimaginable to anyone who has not fought on a battlefield might explain how rape & massacre seem to be a pheonomenon so inextricably linked with the aftermath of battles. The experience of being so utterly dehumanized as to be made into expendable military commodities quite probably temporarily impairs their ability to extend humanity to people they encounter immediately after a fight.

Hand to hand combat with thrusting weapons is also among the more psychologically fraught styles of combat (soldiers trained with a bayonet in WW1 & 2 nonetheless seemed to prefer cutting or bludgeoning weapons, even makeshifts, like shovels or the butts of their rifles in actual combat). That style also saw surprisingly little use outside Europe, and maybe East Asia, in the ancient world. Its effectiveness explains the military success of cultures that used it, such as the Romans and Greeks, but it also requires a much greater degree of discipline and conditioning (which, again, contribute to the dehumanizing of soldiers) compared to the hit-and-run tactics with bows, curved (slashing) swords and javelins that was more widely and naturally prefered.

The subsequent frequent (though not universal) tolerance of rape after battle, while not morally excusable, could be a reaction of commanders who witnessed, and even shared to a degree, that horrific experience of combat, in a kind of "A Jury of her Peers"* type of way.

And that kind of experience in combat is the overwhelmingly more common experience of men in regard to being the gender "privileged" to bear arms. The notion of Cersei's, that a sword is some sort of license to do whatever you want, is an adolescent fantasy, akin to boys who resent girls who won't put out, thinking that in the girls' shoes, they wouldn't go around "teasing" or depriving people of such pleasure. Just as the teen pigs' attitude ignores the more serious consequences for unrestrained sexual activity for women, social and moral issues aside, so to do Cersei & co. ignore the reality that with weapons usually comes hours of hard physical labor, and close scrutiny and imposed control by authorities, as well as the general expectation that you expose yourself to lethal threats from hostile armed men without complaint or reservation. "Why don't you want to charge into that horde of enemies? You have a sword after all!"

The men who actually do get to engage their impulses are the handful at the very top of the heap like Tywin or Stannis or Ned or Robert. The three former are highly unimpulsive men, which is how they get to, and stay at, said top, and the last is often being balked and frustrated in his violent impulses, and looked down on for the degree to which he does give them vent. Other men, like say, Gregor Clegane, must gain the freedom or power promised by their swords by tying themselves to a powerful leader, just as a woman like Cersei must do to weild political power. And when the Gregors someday get too old or slow or weak or worn down by cumulative injuries, they get discarded, almost like a trophy wife or concubine who has lost her beauty.

Just as women who cannot breed are undesirable wives, men who can't fight are undesirable husbands, such as Willas Tyrell. Note that Tyrion, who of all people, should sympathize with an intellectual nobleman who can't fight, living in the shadow of his teen knightly hero brother, and goregous social-climbing sister, taunts Cersei with Willas' handicap, and wonders which one he should pity more: the man wed to a scheming, treacherous, adulterous, child-abusing monster, or the woman whose husband has a bad leg. Cersei herself, Ms. Resents-Being-Forced-Into-a-Gender-Role, sneeringly equates him with the aged, ill-tempered brute & rapist Balon Greyjoy as similarly bad marital choices!

People suck. On both ends of the gender spectrum. And that's more why life sucks for so many of them. Cersei herself is responsible for a lot more misery (and even a share of her own) than she can blame the system for imposing on her.
Kat W.
30. CapnAndy
The arms on the shield are described, you just missed it -- a tree with a falling star overhead.

As for Tywin's odd rotting, there's a fan theory that Oberyn Martell had already poisoned Tywin, based on a conversation Oberyn and Tyrion have and Oberyn's general reputation. So Tywin was already a dead man when Tyrion shot him, and that's why he's rotting so fast.

We'll never know for sure one way or the other (since they're both dead and all) and it doesn't impact anything either way, so I don't think it's a spoiler. It's just a possibility, but a good enough one if you really need a reason.
Kat W.
31. Black Dread
I just assumed Tywin stunk because he was shot in the bowels, then the bolt was torn out.
Yuliya Bagriy
32. Aviskase
Podrick! I knew it was him even in the Duskendale. Who else would speak like that?
No. You don’t. You never… F-f-forgive me. My lady. I wasn’t looking. I mean, I was, but down. I was looking down. At my feet.
As for painting: that's why this should be twice a week read. For those who knows: it was Dunk's arms, yeah? But how his shield got in the Tarth armory? Brienne is huge.. Dunk's blood?!
Cersei as always sucks. It's strange that she didn't try to bed Jaime in the Sept. Oh, nope, she did tried: "I need you with me. In me." Man, there is a rotting corpse here, btw, their father's corpse! Note that Jaime doesn't think of her like some tool or a walking vagina. This boy is very romantic. Yeah, according to Leigh, poor Cersei uses all she has, but pretty Jaime could fuck all Seven Kingdoms (I doubt that he had healthy regular thing with his sister) and yet he prefered to almost celibate. And I definetly didn't like this:
Cersei: If it is battlefields you want, battlefields I shall give you
And here comes time for my regular speculation: (roll over to read) some fool in Maidenpool seeking for ship? Sounds like Varys. Look, this guy wanted place for 3 and we know that there are 3 men missing: Tyrion, Varys and that undergaoler.
George Jong
33. IndependentGeorge
Pycelle's genuine grief at Tywin's passing says much about his motivations, during the rebellion and since. We don't know what his original family name was, but it's evident that he held Tywin in absolute adoration dating back to his days as Aerys' hand.

I think it's important to remember that despite being cruel, ruthless, and just plain Evil, Tywin was a pretty damned awesome ruler who only entered into the War of the Five Kings because his son was falsely accused and imprisoned... by the protagonists.
Chris Nelly
34. Aeryl
And because Jaime launched an unprovoked attack on Ned Stark and had to flee KL.

@29, This is an interesting comment, and there's a few things I want to address in it, but can't right now. But I'll be back!
Maiane Bakroeva
35. Isilel
Black Dread @31:

Robert's bowels were far more extensively torn, he was a much more corpulent man and his body lay in state during the Summer, when it was pretty hot. So, they have a recent example for comparison that should have decomposed more, but didn't.

I also think that Tywin was fatally poisoned, but I tip on Varys.
Tywin would have been extra careful when eating in the company of a
known poisoner like Oberyn, but Varys could have just come into his bedroom through the secret door and put poison in his night cup.

There was a poison in Pycelle's collection called "Widow's Blood" that was rather extensively described, yet not obviously used. It is supposed to close a person's bowels and bladder and make them "drown in their own poisons". Would certainly explain advanced rotting of Tywin's corpse, no?
Julian Augustus
36. Alisonwonderland
I doubt there is such a word as 'painteress'. 'Painter' and 'artist' have always been gender-neutral.
Leigh Butler
37. leighdb
Hey guys,

Post edited re: Brienne's shield. Thanks!
Yuliya Bagriy
38. Aviskase
@29 Bill D5, thank you! I have the very same opinion that sexism works two ways but would never explain it better than you did. We are awfully accustumed to thinking of a man as strong-brave-never-crying stone. Look at the Tommen - everyone says that he will make bad king. But he is a child, why in the hell he should behave like seasoned king? Take away Cersei, give him a time and he would be marvellous king.
Offtopic. Someone in the former reading parts gave wonderful link to the site about arms. Can anyone give a links to sites where is a good explanation of 1) horse types (palfrey and so one) 2) armours and armors?
Kat W.
39. MoF
@34 Jaime's attack on Ned was clearly provoked by Catelyn's kidnapping of Tyrion.
Chris Nelly
41. Aeryl
@39, But by all indications, Tyrion's treatment was done according to the King's Laws, so there no need to attack Ned(or wage war on the Riverlands). If they had held Tyrion in perpetuity, perhaps. But Jaime's attack on Ned and Tywin's invasion of the Riverlands were impetuous acts done by people spoiling for a fight, no avenging a loved one.
Kat W.
42. Maddy1990
Tywin's corpe rotting is kind of one of my favourite things because I hate him. There is definitely something weird going on with that though, but I don't want to mention my theory (which probably is completely crackpot)

Jaime probably has a better aptitude for politics than he thinks, he just never really needed to think that way before because he was so defined by being a warrior. I like that he is being forced to think more if that makes sense.

I am definitely probably overly invested in Jaime and Brienne's relationship (romantic or otherwise) - but it makes me so happy when they think about each other. And when she replaced Renly with Jaime in her dream aka the man she used to be in love with and then I imagined them riding off into the sunset and having lots of babies and then I remembered that no one gets nice things in these books :(

Podrick is so adorable so YAY for him turning up
George Jong
43. IndependentGeorge
@41 - Westeros doesn't really have formal laws so much as tribal customs, but in any event, Tyrion's entire arrest and trial were highly irregular even by Westerosi standards. He would receive a much fairer trial in King's Landing - for starters, he was not being judged by his accuser, and there was no question as to jurisdiction.

All of which is actually moot, because when the matter was finally brought before the King, Robert explicitly ordered Tyrion's release. Tyrion's subsequent imprisonment and trial were clearly unlawful. At that point, Tywin's war was no less lawful than Robert's own rebellion (which had its genesis in a similarly contested "kidnapping").
Tabby Alleman
44. Tabbyfl55
I was dreading the introduction of Brienne in the HBO show, because I was SURE they were going to use their artistic license to cast her with some amazon fitness model Sheena the Barbarian (chainmail bikini sold separately).

As soon as I saw her on the screen, I was paralyzed with "Holy shit!" because I couldn't believe how right they got it. AND she's a damned good actress, as shown in her reaction to Renly's death. She just might be the single best casting-find in the whole show.
Julian Augustus
45. Alisonwonderland
This chapter gives very subtle hints that Jaime and Brienne did, indeed, fall in love during their journey to Kings Landing, though neither is conscious of it yet.
Chris Nelly
46. Aeryl
@43, He had ordered Tyrion's release, but there wasn't time to for Lysa or Cat to implement his demand before Tywin started burning the Riverlands. They jumped the gun, because Tyrion's capture gave them an excuse to do what they wanted, which was cause a showdown with other houses that they, being married to the throne, would presumably come out on top of, thus enriching their power.
Steven Halter
47. stevenhalter
Chapter 8 - Jaime: I read through this chapter last night. This is an interesting combination of guilt suffused with angst or angst suffused with guilt and flashbacks to fill in some pieces. Jaime's thought:
He never said he meant to kill our father. If he had, I would have stopped him. Then I would be the kinslayer, not him
is one of Jaime's spiraling pattern of thoughts in this chapter. It is interesting that Jaime feels a great deal of regret and guilt over the death of his father but pretty much nothing about Joffrey. I can't blame him too much for no regret over the death of the monster Joff, but really the whole chapter and the shape of the people Cersei and Jaime are at this point really points out the monstrousness of a father-person that Tywin was.
Tywin is decomposing at a pretty rapid pace. It does seem like the maesters could have added some fragrances to the corpse but it doesn't seem like they have done a very good job at the embalming at all.
Longwaters' comment that:
There were three others, common men, but Lord Stark gave them to the Night’s Watch. I did not think it good to free those three, but the papers were in proper order. I made note of that in a report as well, you may be certain of it.
Must refer to Jaqen and company.
Jaime's:
Unbidden, his thoughts went to Brienne of Tarth. Stupid stubborn ugly wench. He wondered where she was. Father, give her strength.
Continues with our pretty clear theory that Jaime has fallen for her. This also probably aids in his ability to withstand Cersei's requests. Well, that and the fact that Jaime seems to have been pretty taken aback at Tyrion's mention that Cersei was sleeping with Lancel and Kettleblack. Apparently the thought had never occurred to him. So, Jaime had a multitude of sibling and daddy issues. In other words he was really messed up. I would almost feel sorry for him except for, you know, his throwing kid's off of towers thing. That still decreases my pity for him.
Advising Cersei to send Tyrell off to capture Storm's End seems like maybe a decent delaying tactic. If Tyrell dies (and it sounds like they fully intend for him to die) then that issue is solved. If he captures Storm's End, I don't think the matter wraps up as neatly as Jaime and Cersei are grinningly thinking it will. Popular generals can end up biting the asses of unpopular regents in all to uncomfortable a fashion.
Kat W.
48. SadYear
Regarding Tywin's rotting corpse, there's this nice theory which I'm particularly fond of: http://boiledleather.com/post/24196234491/tywin-lannister-dead-man-shitting. It's safe to read, but don't click on the links over there, it could lead to spoilers.
Chris Nelly
49. Aeryl
@47, Capture Dragonstone, not Storm's End. They already hold Storm's End, with Renly dead and Stannis in revolt, it would pass to Tommen.
Steven Halter
50. stevenhalter
@49: From my text:
“You need Tyrell,” Jaime broke in, “but not here. Ask him to capture Storm’s End for Tommen. Flatter him, and tell him you need him in the field, to replace Father. Mace fancies himself a mighty warrior. Either he will deliver Storm’s End to you, or he will muck it up and look a fool. Either way, you win.”
“Storm’s End?” Cersei looked thoughtful. “Yes, but . . . Lord Tyrell has made it tediously plain that he will not leave King’s Landing till Tommen marries Margaery.”
Kat W.
51. Lyanna Mormont
It's Storm's End. Stannis did take it after Ser Courtney Penrose died, and while he may have gone up north himself, that doesn't mean he handed his ancestral home over to the Lannisters. But I'm sure if the Tyrell forces do take Storm's End, Cersei will want to send them to Dragonstone next. Anything to keep them out of King's Landing.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
52. AlirozTheConfused
Tommen and Myrcella are my favorite characters in this series, followed closely by Davos and Maester Luwin.

I am so going to write a fanfic about Brave Prince Tommen who became a true knight and who saved all the orphans from starvation and bandits. Who fixed the problem of food in winter and righted the wrongs of Westeros, and became the best king ever, making Westeros an awesome continent.

He, of course, went on adventures with the little Weasel girl from Arya's ACOK chapters and also the little girl whose doll Arya tore up. He, of course, peacefully restored House Stark to power and reunited the living starks because Brandon was his friend. And he also fixed all the buildings that were broken or burned, and he, um, also made peace by being awesome and so it all ended well for everyone.
BECAUSE I SAY SO.
Kat W.
53. Maddy1990
@44 Gwendoline Christie is amazing. I sometimes have problems with what they do on the show, but they absolutely nailed Jaime and Brienne's interactions. Both of those actors are so great.
Kat W.
54. CS88
@48 The link there is safe if you want to be spoiled about things that happened in the past, that you may have missed - its an interesting theory about Tywin's death, that i don't think Martin will ever prove or disprove. I personally think the theory is a good strarting point, but if you take it a step further there's i think also evidence that another individual murdered Tywin. There's another thread on the web describing that theory but I won't reveal that one, as that DOES have future spoilers. My own view is a combination of the two theories, but it just goes to show the little plots and mysteries within mysteries that Martin likes to play (which he has admited in interviews he does on purpose).
George Jong
55. IndependentGeorge
@52 - Not even your vile propaganda can let us forget the //plight of the plight of the humble beet farmers, cruelly left without the means to support themselves following the capricious edicts of your precious Tommen I.//

Never forget!
Steven Halter
56. stevenhalter
Chapter 9 - Brienne:I know exactly how Brienne feels here at the beginning regarding not wanting to talk to people she doesn't know. I've always found it difficult to just strike up a conversation in person with people I don't know.
Well, being a "wench" is useful at the guards as they let her by more easily than the might let by some random hedge knights. I wonder what she asks to have painted on her shield. Hopefully not another ill omened device.
So, Aerys was held captive and that may have had something to do with pushing him over the edge. Sounds unpleasant to have be the Lace Serpent. Also, that sounds like a typical bit of blaming the woman. Seems like an extreme punishment for her when the rest got off with just having their heads cut off.
And Lady Catelyn’s younger sister ruled the Vale. Blood calls to blood. Sansa might well have run to one of them. Which one, though?
Pick the Vale! Pick the Vale! That's a nice set of reasoning by Brienne. She keeps thinking of herself as slow but she doesn't seem that at all to me.
She runs into the boy from the piebald rounsey so it seems I was wrong in my guess that it had been Arya she saw.The brother totally throws her off track.
A green tree with a falling star at least on the shield. That sounds familiar. Dunk had a shooting star over a green elm tree!--so that's fun.

Good for Brienne:
She broke Ser Humfrey’s collarbone, two ribs, and their betrothal. He was her third prospective husband, and her last. Her father did not insist again.
The boy is Podrick Payne--Tyrion's squire. That is an interesting development. That's a lot of "stick to it"ness for Pod. Good for him and I think Brienne could use some help.
Kat W.
57. DougL
The Commander of the Kingsguard is supposed to sit on the Small Council anyway, that's why Barristan was there during Ned's chapters.
Sasha P
58. AeronaGreenjoy
Jaime's change in status, and Cersei's stubborn outdated behavior, both remind me somewhat of Ned.

As a lord in his own lands, Ned personally upheld the law with his sword and was apparently used to people behaving in Greatjon 'I physically attack people I don't like and respect people who fight back' fashion. As Hand of the king, he figuratively lost the use of his sword hand and floundered in a world where windy words are weapons and not everyone who's nice to you is an ally. He threatened Cersei with death or exile as if she were Jorah Mormont, not expecting that the people empowered to carry out his command would be so unlawful as to turn against him, an act which reminded me of Viserys waving a sword at Drogo in a Vaes Dothrak feasthall. Jaime is also used to straightforward physical confrontations and, as noted, has certain naivetes (i.e. about Cersei) despite general hard-earned cynicism regarding human honorableness. He must now find new ways of achieving his ends and staying alive. But he has the dubious good fortune of being much more familiar with politics (just not being part of them), as well as a willingness to change tactics, and so might not flunk this crash course.

Cersei is also used to controlling people with her body, though in different ways. Now she's also been thrust into Really Visible Politicking 101. But she seems unwilling or unable to change her MO of trying to seduce people and/or ordering them around with bloodline-entitled certainty of obedience a la Viserys.

@55: Haha, yesss.

It's interesting that Brienne's great height gives her trouble with discerning kids' ages. It's the same for me, only I'm 5' tall (the height of an average 10-year-old, according to one statistic)
Chris Nelly
59. Aeryl
@53, It doesn't hurt that Gwen and Nickolaj ship it with the rest of us. So do the showrunners apparently.
Kat W.
60. GarrettC
"And last and most definitely least: “Nimble Dick.” HAHAHAHA I am metaphorically twelve. But then, evidently so is Martin, sometimes. (actual mental ages may vary!)"
I mean, the guy also named one of his characters Aenys, so...

I laughed, too.
Captain Hammer
61. Randalator
re: Tywin's corpse

Well, I know from personal experience what just one day at room temperature will do to a regular non-embalmed corpse. Let's just say there's clear visual and olfactory signs of decay.

King's Landing's climate is warmer and more humid which makes preservation already way more difficult than in cooler climates. And as Leigh noted, ruptured bowels will release loads of bacteria into the body and greatly speed up decay.

Might be that the priests botched up the embalming process (intentionally or unintentionally) or that they simply couldn't counteract the damage done by the crossbow bolt. Either way, Tywin's state doesn't surprise me all that much.

I'm not saying that there can't be something else going on here, but as it is I'm not expecting foul play (no pun intended) beyond the obvious...
Maiane Bakroeva
62. Isilel
Robert's bowels were much more damaged, though, he was far more corpulent, it was hotter when he lay in state and IIRC Pycelle personally prepared Tywin's body, removing organs, embalming, etc. Something is not quite right there, IMHO.

They don't embalm as thoroughly as was done iRL, since bodies are only exhibited for 7 days at most and then reduced to bones for burial.
In historical Middle Ages and Renaissance bodies of monarchs were sometimes exhibited for months and buried as is. When royal crypts were opened during the French Revolution and the bodies thrown into pits of lye, it was noted that quite a few bodies were still quite well preserved centuries after their burials, notably that of Henri IV.
Kat W.
63. Black Dread
Isilel,
The notable historical example of a monarch funeral gone terribly wrong is William the Bastard. When they tried to shove his fat rotting body into a tomb, the body ruptured and released a horrible odor causing everyone in attendance to flee the church.
Kat W.
64. Josh Lu
I think that it's probably a very good thing Jaime didn't go with Rhaegar because, well, wildfire.
Rob Munnelly
65. RobMRobM
Leigh - re the shield, which you belatedly realized was described and matched Dunk's sigil: Nice pick up on that. Now you begin to see why we wanted you to read some D and E before we got into FFC and ADWD. You get some nice little Easter Eggs (like this one) and, more importantly, you may better understand some historical references buried in the text as we move forward.
Lauren Hartman
66. naupathia
Wow some great comments.

@29 - Agreed on most points.

I always saw Jamie as being the truly "in love" one. Cersei has constantly shown herself to be a complete narcissist. I think it was in her speech to Ned after he threatened her where she talked about how she loved Jamie mostly because he looked just like her. And her with the massive penis envy.

So yes, I think Jamie has every right to feel betrayed. He thought Cersei's feelings were mutual. But he's been played. I think he's allowed to be sad. Especially once he starts remembering all the dumb things he's done "for love".

@29 - Just wow. Long post but I think you make some great arguments re: reverse sexism. I think you elocuted quite well. As much as everyone loves to rant about how women are treated in this book, you are right at how very little if at all they mention the reverse. I do think it's just as bad to expect men to be all Manly(tm) as it is to expect women to be nothing but a pretty face. Just because one is seen as the more "free" option ("They get to run the place!") doesn't mean it's any less inherintly evil.
Kat W.
67. stellabymoor
Tywin's rotting body always reminded me of Zosima in The Brothers Karamazov. Not that anyone expected any miracles from Tywin's corpse, but in both cases the body of someone considered a great man decays very foully, very quickly.

Interesting theory that Tywin might have been poisoned with Widow's Blood! I never connected the dots that way, but it's an interesting idea to entertain.
Chris Nelly
68. Aeryl
@29, At the very least, Jon Snow might have had a happier childhood if Catelyn didn't have so much influence in Winterfell.

See this is where your points(which I agree for the most part, PATRIARCHY HURTS THE MEN TOO) start to go off the rails.

The area you are saying Catelyn needed to have less influence in, is the only area that as a woman she is "allowed" influence, over the children. For her to have had less influence, would mean for her to live in a less sexist system, not a more sexist one.

Ned encountered was that she had way too much influence at court, especially for the "mere wife" of the king, whom the king despised, in a theoretically super-sexist society.

Again, the only way for Cersei to accumulate the power she had, was through illicit means. This means that this is a society that needs less sexism. She couldn't have influence in her own right, she had to use the power of others(Lannister bannerman), the power of the purse(Lannister gold) and the power of fear(Jaime will kill you) to exert influence. She could never be seen as legitimate in her own right.

We see the same in Stannis' court, where his wife and her family hold sway, and generally for the worse.

But this is because of religion, not because they are throwing off the chains of patriarchy.

The Tyrell women also run their own games and take their ability to
have their way with Mace for granted (and express disgruntlement that he sometimes does what he wants) . Doran Martell's biggest headache seems to be that his bastard neices run wild despite what should be a double dose of marginalization.

But Highgarden and Dorne have been shown to be unique in this regard, so they aren't really useful to draw examples from. These are more eglitarian societies, different rules apply.

At the end of the day, Martin did a good job in reflecting the means women have always used to accumulate power. A world where women are allowed EXPLICIT power instead of ILLICIT power, is a world more equal to all. Forcing women to gain power through illicit means, typically means they will be unable to use that power for the benefit of others.

In addition, while yes we still have the draft, but don't have arranged marriages, this is because the people who are forced into the draft don't want women there. While this system hurts men, they still reap the most benefits from this system, it empowers them over women, and they continue to enforce the system, to their own detriment. While examining the ways in which this system hurts men is good, we must never lose sight that the system only exists because men uphold it. We must lay the responsibility for the damage it does to men and women, on men.

And when the Gregors someday get too old or slow or weak or worn down by cumulative injuries, they get discarded, almost like a trophy wife or concubine who has lost her beauty.

The origin of House Clegane hasn't yet been explained, but let me just say that you are incorrect in this assertion. Brutal men who help powerful men get what they want aren't discarded, they are rewarded. We'll also see what happens to beautiful women who are no longer useful to powerful men soon, and it's brutal.

And while we see that men have their share of unhappiness or misfortune stemming from compulsory marriage,

But men are allowed, even encouraged to stray from the marital bed. What do you think would happen should a woman do the same? I mean the differences in how the Aerys conspiritors were punished, men vs the woman, should make this pretty clear.
Yuliya Bagriy
69. Aviskase
@68, as for the Lace Serpent, I'm disagree that it was sexist act of violence. Mostly it was xenophobic. If the situation was reverse, Myrish husband and Westerosi wife, man would suffer much more than the woman.
Chris Nelly
70. Aeryl
@69, Just wait. You'll see more horrific examples of sexist retribution.
Steven Halter
71. stevenhalter
The end effect is that everybody suffers under whatever form of oligarchy is in vogue. The particular people the oligarchy decides to single out for extra special repression suffer the most.
So, in the case of Westros, women are getting the most repressions but anyone who isn't at the top at the moment gets some amount. Divide and conquer is a classic technique.
Kat W.
72. Ridney
@29 Sexism/the patriarchy inflicting damage on everyone in a society is a well-discussed concept in feminism, and I think Martin is aware of that and addresses it pretty handily in several cases, including those you mentioned:

Bran being devalued because he can never be a knight or produce heirs; Tyrion is literally called "halfman," which has more implications than him just being short; but the most explicit demonstration by far is Sam and his relationship with his father, Lord Tarly. It's basically a textbook demonstration of the danger of cruely enforced gender roles, and to my mind was a straighforward commentary.
George Jong
73. IndependentGeorge
Both of these chapters are heartbreaking for similar reasons.

Tommen is very obviously just a sweet little kid completely unequipped to handle the crown, and it's readily becoming apparent that Cersei not only turned a blind eye to Joffrey's psychopathy, but probably encouraged it indirectly. In a previous chapter in SOS, she mentioned Robert had once struck Joffrey over "some nonsense about a cat"; a few chapters later, Stannis recalls that "nonsense" being that Joffrey cut open a pregnant cat to look at the kittens. Here, she's comparing Tommen unfavorably to Joffrey for exhibiting the exact kind of human frailty Joffrey was incapable of. And, of course, //it gets worse.//

Pod, meanwhile, proves to be as brave and loyal any warrior in the kingdoms. Skinny, awkward, socially inept, and likely partly disabled (with a speech impediment), Podrick MF Payne sets off alone and unarmed through a war zone to track down possibly the one person who ever treated him well, and then abandoned him (for good reasons that are nevertheless unknown to Pod). Oh, yeah, and he also killed a member of the Kingsguard.

It's easy to lose in the narrative, but we're talking about children here. The Stark kids went through this in the first three books, and now we're seeing the Lannister kids (and their retainers) going through the same.
Kat W.
74. just some guy
Pod is an distant Payne, but its interesting both he and Ilyn have problems with speech (obviously the sources are different) and are both quiet and loyal in their own ways.
George Jong
75. IndependentGeorge
Also, I looked up Tyrion's last conversation with Pod:
"Pod, tell me true... do you think I did it?"

The boy hesitated. When he tried to speak, all he managed to produce was a weak sputter.

I am doomed. Tyrion sighed. "No need to answer. You've been a good squire to me. Better than I deserved. Whatever happens, I thankyou for your leal service."
Kat W.
76. KingofFlames
Doesn't everyone have to claim power through gold, muscle, or fear, though? Tywin requires men loyal to him, gold, or skilled people to achieve his ends. Littlefinger has to achieve his authority by virtue of illicit means too, and Robert took his at the point of a sword. People use what they have to achieve what they can.

"While examining the ways in which this system hurts men is good, we must never lose sight that the system only exists because men uphold it. We must lay the responsibility for the damage it does to men and women, on men."

Women have a part in upholding it too. Perhaps a lesser part, but the key thing to remember is that the goal should be to change the system, not to hold groups responsible. Everybody has a role and responsibility in relation to sexism, and it is not solely the construct of men.

Finally, everyone needs to remember that arguing 'this is bad for men' or 'this is bad for women' does not constitute an argument that the same thing is not bad for the other gender. Bill and Leigh are not arguing opposing points, the two compliment each other.
Steven Halter
77. stevenhalter
Is the post by Chris Lough, "What Do You Do With a Plot "Problem" Like Daenerys?" full of spoilers or neutral? (Beyond the spoiler implied by the title).
It sounds interesting but probably not something I should look at. :-(
Tabby Alleman
78. Tabbyfl55
@77, it is a bit spoilery, and it's more about the HBO show than the books.
Don Barkauskas
79. bad_platypus
stevenhalter @77: Since you're a first-time reader, I would definitely not recommend reading it.
Deana Whitney
81. Braid_Tug
@80, Steven, I suggest avoiding all HBO Game of Thrones stuff from now on. Season 4 onward will be folding the last 3 books together in many ways.
Steven Halter
82. stevenhalter
Braid_Tug@81:Yep, I've been avoiding them as much as I can. Amusingly, I've had people I know who aren't usually into SF ask me about Game of Thrones since they know I usually watch all that sort of stuff and I have to explain that I can't watch that right now. They smile and then think I'm odder than they had even thought before. ;-)
George Jong
83. IndependentGeorge
There were a couple recent interviews with GRRM and HBO's showrunners, and they confirmed that the show is soon very likely to overtake the books. Based on the trailers, it looks like quite a bit of FFC/DWD got moved into S4, which means the bulk of those volumes will be in S5, and most of The Winds of Winter goes into S6.

My best guess is WOW will actually be released just before S6 airs (Spring 2016). At that point, I'll have a big decision to make as to whether I want to watch S7 or hold out several years for the final volume in the series.
Rafael
84. Ryamano
And the thing is, I find myself shying away in some respects from automatically condemning Cersei for being the more practical of the two, because it’s obviously really easy to call her a slut and a sexual predator or whatever, while blithely ignoring the paucity of other weapons she has at her disposal. I don’t like her goals and I can’t condone many or most of her methods, but I hesitate to call her on this one in particular, simply because it is so very tangled up in the lack of advantages she has to start out with.

There are other weapons women could use in Cersei's place besides sex. Both Margery Tyrell and Olenna Tyrell show this. Even Lysta Tully-Arryn used other weapons. Women don't really have to use sex to acquire power in Westeros, that's just Cersei's choice.

Both Cersei and Lysa wanted to get rid of their husbands, but one used poison while the other had sex with her cousin to convince him to make her husband drunk while hunting.

Regarding Lancel's relationship with Cersei, it seems to me one of the reasons Cersei bedded him was because she was feeling lonely without Jaime (that's Tyrion's assessment of the situation). Since all Lannister bannermen reported to her in King's Landing already, he already had to obey her orders. Maybe he wasn't convinced of the need to kill Robert and bedding him made he change his mind, but I don't know how that can't be condemned, because bedding him wasn't all that necessary. Cersei, as head of house Lannister in King's Landing, has a lot of tools at her disposal:

- The Lannister guards obey her (so she can make indirect threats, about people being imprisoned or suffering accidents).
- She can promise Lannister gold to people (like Tyrion does in the Mountains of the Moon. He doesn't decide who gets the gold, his father does, but he can make promises. Just like she can).
- She can promise easier promotions to him (like making him a knight earlier than normal. Which indeed happens afterwards).

The only tool she doesn't have in King's Landing in the first two books is making personal physical threats (like Jaime did to Varys to help him release Tyrion from prison). That's it. In the third book, since Tywyn comes to King's Landing, she's no longer head of House Lannister there, so she loses almost all of her tools. But so does Tyrion, who stops being Hand.

To me this makes Cersei a slut, she thinks way too much of using sex as a tool, compared to other women. (spoilers ahead)

Aryanne Martell also uses sex as a tool (seducing Aerys Oakheart), but she thinks uses it way less than Cersei. To me, Aryanne isn't a slut. Just an amateur at the game of thrones.

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