Welcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.
Today’s entry is Part 30 of A Game of Thrones, in which we cover Chapters 61 (“Daenerys”), 62 (“Tyrion”), and 63 (“Catelyn”).
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, The Powers That Be at Tor.com have very kindly set up a forum thread for spoilery comments. 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: Daenerys
Dany rides her silver through the aftermath of the battle in which Drogo had defeated Khal Ogo, in the midst of Ogo’s attack on a town of the Lhazareen (who the Dothraki call the Lamb Men, contemptuously). The survivors of both Ogo’s khalasar and the townsfolk are being enslaved, and most of the women are being raped. Jorah reports to Dany that Drogo has taken minor wounds. Dany tries to ignore the cries of a young girl being gang-raped nearby, while Jorah discusses casually where Drogo might get the best prices for the slaves he’s taken, assuming they survive the march.
Finally Dany commands Jorah and her khas to stop the rape, which puzzles all of them, and Jhogo offers to cut out the girl’s tongue if that will help, but Dany claims her as a slave and insists they obey.
[Jorah] gave her a curious look. “You are your brother’s sister, in truth.”
“Viserys?” She did not understand.
“No,” he answered. “Rhaegar.” He galloped off.
The rapists are not pleased, and several have to be cut down before they will stop. Dany repeats her orders each time she sees a rape in progress, ignoring Jorah’s admonishment that she cannot claim them all. She reaches the place where Drogo is waiting, and a bloodrider named Mago approaches to complain of Dany’s doings re: the women; Drogo tells her this is the way of things, but Dany stands her ground. Drogo is pleased with her fierceness, and tells Mago to let it go.
Then it becomes clear that Drogo’s wounds are more severe than she was told, though he tries to scoff at the notion. One of the women Dany rescued, Mirri Maz Duur, comes forward and offers to tend Drogo’s wounds, saying she is the godswife of the town’s temple. The Dothraki mutter about maegi (witches), but Jorah is impressed by her claim to have learned from a maester in the Seven Kingdoms, and vouches for her probable skill. Drogo allows it, and Mirri tends to his wounds with apparent expertise. Impressed, Dany asks her to assist in her childbirth. Qotho warns Mirri that her life hinges on how well the khal fares.
Saying “this was an unpleasant chapter to read” is to wildly, deeply, drastically understate the case, but I can’t really think of a way that describes my feelings about it accurately that won’t end with me simply lapsing into incoherent rage, so I will just repeat, through clenched teeth:
This was an unpleasant chapter to read.
And I really don’t think I have anything more to say about it, except to say “Go Dany” for apparently being the only person in Drogo’s army—possibly, in his entire culture—who would know the concept of “compassion” if it walked up and shot them in the face, which I rather wish it would, shoot them in the face I mean, and never mind that that sentiment doesn’t even make any sense.
I am not, currently, very interested in making sense. I am interested in SHOOTING A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE FACE. God.
And, also, in taking back anything nice I ever said about Jorah, because fuck him. Better yet, sell him into slavery and see how HE likes it, the little shit.
Jesus. Everyone is fucking fired, the end.
[Six hours later] Okay, fine, one more thing: in light of that whole Rhaegar/Lyanna/Robert thing I still don’t understand completely, Jorah’s comment to Dany I quoted above only muddles the issue further as far as I am concerned. Rhaegar is like Dany? In what? Not liking rape, or just in generally being compassionate? Because, you know, that’s really not the impression I have of Rhaegar, I can tell you that.
But then again, the only impressions I have of him so far are from Robert and/or Ned’s perspectives, don’t I?
Then again, the comment is from Jorah, and fuck him, so there’s that, too.
Chapter 62: Tyrion
Tyrion joins his father for the evening meal; other than to report that the Stark host is a day’s march north, Tywin’s only comments to Tyrion are barbs and insults, as are those of his bannermen. Kevan tells Tyrion they are going to put him and his clansmen in the van, under Ser Gregor Clegane, which Tyrion gloomily suspects is a tactic of Tywin’s to dispose of his “embarrassing get” for good. Tyrion excuses himself and leaves without eating, ignoring the laughter that follows him.
Tyrion eventually finds his tent, where Bronn has already finished eating. He has the whore Tyrion asked him to acquire for him, a girl named Shae, who Tyrion decides he likes when she talks back to him. She agrees readily to his terms for her employment, and they have sex. Afterwards he goes outside and talks to Bronn, and is dismayed to find out he took Shae from another knight. He is cheered, though, by Bronn’s tacit assurance that Bronn will protect him in the upcoming battle. He goes back in his tent and has sex again before falling asleep.
He is woken when Tywin’s horns warn of an imminent attack; Bronn reports that “the Stark boy” stole a march on them and are less than a mile away. They ready themselves, Tyrion in mismatched and badly-fitting armor. When they ride out, Tyrion sees his father resplendent in his richly appointed armor, commanding the reserve. He remembers the last time he’d seen Robb Stark, and wonders uneasily if the boy will bring his wolves to war with him. Ser Gregor orders Tyrion and his clansmen to hold the river on the left; Tyrion notes that this entire section is the dregs of the army, and wonders how Tywin expects them to hold it.
The battle is fought. Most of the clansmen ignore Tyrion and leave him behind, and Bronn and Tyrion are soon surrounded. Tyrion knocks one down and kills two more, and then is attacked by a knight shouting “For Eddard and Winterfell!” The knight recognizes Tyrion. He almost kills Tyrion, and demands he yield, but Tyrion impales the knight’s horse with his helmet spike and wins, forcing the other to yield instead.
The Lannister forces eventually prevail, and Tyrion finds that about half of his clansmen have been killed. He finds his father and Kevan; Kevan congratulates Tyrion on his victory with his “wild men,” and Tyrion asks his father if he is surprised that they were not butchered the way Tywin had planned. Tywin acknowledges that he’d planned to use a rout on the left to draw in the Stark boy, but admits it didn’t work.
“And you thought it best to place me in the midst of this carnage, yet keep me ignorant of your plans.”
“A feigned rout is less convincing,” his father said, “and I am not inclined to trust my plans to a man who consorts with sellswords and savages.”
They are interrupted by Ser Addam Marbrand, who reports that they have taken some of the Stark commanders, but Roose Bolton escaped, and apparently Robb Stark was never with them.
“They say he crossed at the Twins with the great part of his horse, riding hard for Riverrun.”
A green boy, Tyrion remembered, more like to be brave than wise. He would have laughed, if he hadn’t hurt so much.
It’s really weird to read about a battle when you have no idea who to root for.
I mean, I was rooting for Tyrion to survive, but I was also mostly rooting for him to lose. Well, technically, for Tywin to lose, but it amounts to the same thing.
Obviously, I did not get that wish, though if I’m reading this right, having Roose Bolton’s section of the army lose to the Lannisters was, if not part of the plan, at least something fully anticipated and accounted for, so that Robb’s section can get to Riverrun. So maybe in a way the Starks actually won? Sort of? I’m a little confuzzled at the moment, but I think that’s right.
Well, something, whatever. I’m sure I’ll get it eventually.
It was also very weird that I found the whole interaction between Tyrion and Shae to be well, sweet. Or what passes for “sweet” in this series, I suppose. Or maybe it’s just that even a nominally consensual sexual congress seems okay after what happened in the previous chapter. (God.) Prostitution is not exactly one of those practices that makes me go hip-hip-hooray as far as women’s rights go, but it’s a sight better than rapine.
Mostly. Usually. Sometimes. Agh.
Forget it: for the sake of my own sanity, for now I’m going to assume until told otherwise that this was a life Shae at least chose, if it’s unlikely to be one she actually enjoys. And at least she has enough of an attitude that I can choose to believe her spirit isn’t broken. Yet.
Who was the knight Tyrion captured? I was highly irritated that we weren’t told. Ooh, maybe it was Roose Bolton and he didn’t escape after all? That’d be a lovely Hah In Your Face moment for Daddy Dearest on Tyrion’s account, heh. Though I’d be a tad upset on Bolton’s behalf.
Oh, and speaking of: Tywin Lannister? Still an asshole. Film At Eleven. I don’t condone patricide (which will be your obligatory “Duh” statement for this post), but if Tyrion ends up killing Tywin I can’t even pretend that I won’t kind of understand.
Chapter 63: Catelyn
Catelyn waits in the woods with her guard of thirty men, and reflects how she has always been waiting for the men in her life, from her father to her husband and now her son, who is moving among his men, encouraging them. She prays to the gods that he lives to have a son of his own, and that her uncle Brynden had been right about Jaime Lannister’s ignorance of their presence as well as his impatience, and tendency to ride out with his troops to suppress raids.
Robb mounts and heads off to ride down the line, and Catelyn makes herself smile for him. He also has a battle guard, at her insistence, consisting of many of the sons of the lords bannermen, as well as Dacey Mormont, Lady Maege’s eldest daughter and heir to Bear Island, “a lanky six-footer who had been given a morningstar at an age when most girls were given dolls”; Catelyn had refused to hear the lords’ complaints about her inclusion.
Catelyn waits and watches and listens as Robb’s army sets the trap for Jaime, most of which she cannot see clearly. Finally the battle ends and Robb returns to her; he has blood on him but assures her it is not his. He is followed by a mob of men, who drag Jaime Lannister before her. He greets her with regrets that he cannot offer her his sword; she tells him she doesn’t want his sword, but her father and brother and daughters and husband.
“I have mislaid them as well, I fear.”
“A pity,” Catelyn said coldly.
Theon urges Robb to kill Jaime, but Robb says he is more valuable alive, and orders him put in irons and guarded well, as Lord Karstark will want him dead. Jaime is taken off, and Catelyn asks why Lord Karstark in particular. The others tell her that Jaime killed both his sons. Robb tells her remorsefully that Jaime was trying to get to him, but Catelyn tells him they died honorably, protecting their liege lord. Theon eagerly recounts that they have also taken numerous Lannister liegemen captive, including three other Lannisters, Tywin’s nephews. Catelyn asks if they took Lord Tywin, and Theon answers no.
“Until you do, this war is far from done.”
Robb raised his head and pushed his hair back out of his eyes. “My mother is right. We still have Riverrun.”
Aaaand Tool of the Year goes DOWN!
So wow, they actually captured Jaime. I’m kind of totally astounded. I really did not think it was going to be that easy.
Of course, who am I kidding; it almost definitely ain’t gonna stay that easy. After all, Catelyn captured Tyrion, too, and look how that turned out.
No doubt, though, that Jaime brings much better leverage for the Starks than Tyrion did, sad as that might be to say. Tywin’s going to flip out. Actually, forget Tywin: Cersei’s going to shit a brick.
Which, now that I think about it, may not actually be a good thing for the Starks. Particularly Ned, who is in easy torturing reach of her. Erm.
In other news, I very much liked how this chapter was constructed, with the battle from Catelyn’s bystander perspective. It won’t come through in the summary, but the prose telling her point of view here was very nicely done.
Also, A Warrior Chick! With a morningstar! BADASS. Actually there’s one in the previous chapter too, one of Tyrion’s clansman warriors. ALSO BADASS.
Look, certain things make me happy, okay? Just as certain things, uh, really don’t. As this post quite adequately demonstrates, I guess.
Ergo, therefore, and in conclusion, I am going to go look at YouTube videos of puppies and kittens, and you are going to have a weekend! Hopefully a costume-and sugar-shock-filled one! Merry Samhain, and see you next week!