Welcome 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 8 of A Storm of Swords, in we cover Chapter 14 (“Catelyn”).
Short chapter is short due to unexpected reasons. Sowwy.
Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Read of Ice and Fire spoiler thread has been moved to a new thread here on 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 14: Catelyn
Catelyn hears Robb’s return, and reassures herself that he will see her and forgive her. Something odd had happened the day her brother had returned: some forty men (including Ser Perwyn Frey) had stormed out of the castle, trampling Robb’s banner as they went. She is soon summoned to the Great Hall, and is amazed at how grown-up Robb appears. She notes several people on the dais she does not know. Ser Brynden Blackfish ignores protocol and leaps down to embrace her immediately.
Robb greets her cordially. He says he understands why Catelyn did what she did, but Lord Rickard Karstark accuses her of robbing him of his vengeance. Catelyn counters that his sons are already dead, but Jaime’s life may buy her daughters’ lives. Karstark shoots back that she was played for a fool, and calls her a traitor, whereupon Robb shuts him down sharply, and tells Catelyn that he knows what she did was for love, and “it can lead us to great folly, but we follow our hearts… wherever they take us.” Karstark storms out, and Robb dismisses the court after his supporters come to give Catelyn their well-wishes, more or less sincerely.
Catelyn realizes that Robb does not have Grey wind with him, and asks about the six strangers. The younger knight (seashell sigil) answers that they are new to Robb’s cause, but firm in their loyalty. Robb introduces Lady Sybell, wife of Lord Gawen Westerling of the Crag, who Robb captured in the Whispering Wood. The seashell knight is Sybell’s son, Ser Raynald Westerling, and the other knight (with pepperpots for his sigil) is Ser Rolph Spicer, her brother. Lastly he introduces Lady Jeyne Westerling, Lord Gawen’s elder daughter, “and my… ah… my lady wife.”
Catelyn realizes Robb’s earlier remarks were a trap: now that he has forgiven her “act of love”, she must forgive his. Catelyn welcomes Jeyne stiffly, who swears to be a good wife and queen to Robb. The Westerlings retire, and Catelyn says she thought Lord Gawen was sworn to Tywin Lannister. Robb acknowledges it, and says he will of course free him now, but does not know if Gawen will join him, as the marriage went through without his consent. Catelyn also points out that this has lost Robb the Freys; the Westerlings come with some dozen knights, where Walder Frey had given him a thousand. Robb explains how he was wounded taking the Crag and Jeyne nursed him to health, and how she “comforted” him when he received news of Bran and Rickon’s deaths, and he married her the next day.
Robb acknowledges the foolishness of the move, and laments that the battles seem to be the only part of being king he is good at. Catelyn says he has greviously insulted the Freys, and Robb says he thought they could offer someone else in his stead. Catelyn says Walder wanted to be grandfather to a king, and the fact that the Westerlings are an ancient (if smaller) line than the Freys only compounds the insult.
They move to the audience chamber, and Catelyn asks where Robb’s wolf is. Robb says that Grey Wind makes Jeyne anxious, so he left him in the yard. Catelyn points out that to fear the wolf is to fear Robb, but Robb replies that Jeyne saw Grey Wind kill a man at the Crag, and cannot be blamed for her fear. He adds that the wolf bares his teeth at Ser Rolph as well, and Catelyn immediately declares that Robb must send Rolph away. Robb scoffs, but Catelyn tells him any man Grey Wind dislikes is not a man Robb wants close to him. She believes that the wolves were sent by the gods to watch over them. Robb answers that he used to believe that until he heard about Bran and Rickon, but agrees to send Rolph away.
Brynden and Robb proceed to thoroughly chastise Ser Edmure for disobeying Robb’s order to stay at Riverrun. Brynden reveals that Edmure’s ill-advised raids delayed Tywin Lannister just long enough for him to receive news of Stannis’s attack on King’s Landing, causing Tywin to change course, meet up with the Tyrells, and force march to King’s Landing, where they took Stannis in the rear, upsetting Robb’s plans to trap Tywin in the west and preventing the sack of King’s Landing in one stroke. Edmure is appalled, and begs to make amends.
Catelyn tells Robb that the Lannisters, Tyrells, and Freys all must wait: as long as Theon Greyjoy holds Winterfell, taking him down is Robb’s first priority. Edmure wants to know how they will get to Winterfell, with the ironmen controlling the sea and Moat Cailin as well, with angry Freys at their backs. Robb answers that they must win the Freys back somehow, and says there must be something that will soothe Lord Walder’s pride.
“Not something,” said Catelyn. “Someone.”
Oh, goddamn it with these cliffhanger chapter endings! Grr!
Um, okay, my guesses on who Catelyn’s talking about? Well, honestly my first thought was Catelyn herself, but I don’t know if that flies, since in Creepy Feudal Misogyny Land she is probably too old and unlikely to bear more children to be an attractive bargaining chip. And if not her, and obviously not Robb, then… well, I’m not sure who else she could be talking about.
But maybe I’m thinking the wrong way, and it’s not a marriage proposal Catelyn’s talking about, but a prisoner giveaway instead? (Buy two get one free!) In which case… er, I still don’t know who that would be. I can’t think of any prisoners Robb might have that Walder Frey in particular would care about, but there are so many names and houses and relationships flying around that I can hardly keep them straight in any case, so that’s not exactly indicative of anything.
I’m probably missing something major here. I’m starting to get used to that sensation. Bleh.
And in other news, holy crap! Robb went and had himself a shotgun marriage! Well, sort of.
And my reaction is, basically: You dumbass.
‘Cause, look, I get it, being promised to marry into the Freys is like the ultimate nightmare in-laws situation, because *shudder*, but dude. Catelyn is so right: Old Walder is going to lose his shit over this, and I can’t even say he’s not right to do so. I am hardly a fan of arranged marriages, but welching on something like this is so not cool, Robb. And really, did you need more things to not go your way in this war at this point? What the hell, man?
Also, heh. Florence Nightingale ripoff much, Miss Jeyne? And, yeah: the cynic in me immediately has to ask, gee, Robb, did you ever think that maybe she was totally playing you? A cynical thought which is bolstered tenfold by the fact that evidently Grey Wind does not care for the Westerlings in general?
I mean, maybe I’m falling victim to the “trusting in tropes” thing, which our Mr. Martin has an established history of delighting in upending, but I can’t help it: if your vaguely-magical maybe-soulbonded animal familiar thinks someone is not to be trusted, then that person is not to be trusted, full stop. And even though I am not always on board with Catelyn’s more insane strategic moves, I totally give her kudos for being on my side with this re: Ser Rolph. Yes, send him away. HE HAS NOT BEEN WOLF-APPROVED, HE MUST GO.
(Also, pepperpots/Ser Spicer? Really? Really. Yes, I know that house sigils (and names) historically have a basis in the livelihood of the area, but c’mon, that’s just a tad on point, there. Next it’ll be scrolls for the sigil of Ser Inkblot, I suppose. *snort*)
Not to mention, even if my vague conspiracy-theoryish suspicions re: the Westerlings do not hold water (though they were allies of the Lannisters like five minutes ago, I’m just saying), boo on this Jeyne girl anyway, who regardless of her possible innocence and/or sweetness and light immediately loses major points with me for not being cool with Robb’s direwolf. Because you totally know this is only going to cause major problems down the line.
Plus I just have no patience for anyone who doesn’t think having a vaguely-magical maybe-soulbonded wolf companion is not the coolest thing ever, because I would be all over that shit, y’all. Which is probably proof that I’ve read way too much fantasy literature in my life. Or it would if I acknowledged that there is such a thing as reading too much fantasy literature in one’s life, which I don’t, so neener. But seriously, how can you not think that’s awesome? Especially in conjunction with someone you are supposed to be in love with? I call foul!
Also, wow, I would so not want to be in Edmure’s shoes right now. How must it feel to know that your douchebaggery may be responsible for fucking up the entire war for your side? I’m guessing that’s a not-so-fresh feeling, you guys. Call me crazy. Yikes.
Hey, I didn’t mean for you to actually call me crazy! …Okay, fine, point taken. Have a weekend, pretty please with pepper, and I’ll catch you next time!