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 11 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 19 (“Tyrion”).
Short entry is short, because (a) this was the most uncompressably talky chapter in history (like srsly STOP TALKING JFC), and (b) I’m a bit
swamped distracted by some other reading I’m currently doing.
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 19: Tyrion
Tywin Lannister seats himself at the king’s place at the table after greeting the Lords Tyrell, Redwyne, and Rowan; Lord Mace Tyrell, Varys, the High Septon, Cersei, and Pycelle are also there, along with several others Tyrion does not know. Tyrion has taken Pycelle’s usual seat, and a wasted-looking Pycelle is careful to sit far from him. Tyrion thinks that much has changed while he was convalescing, and is contemptuous of the discomfort of most of the courtiers at looking upon him. Ser Kevan had mentioned the poor health of Ser Lancel, and Tyrion wonders whether Cersei would go so far as to actually murder him, or if she is just hoping he will die.
Varys reports on a successful ambush of Robb Stark’s followers, and Tywin announces that they will attack Riverrun as soon as Robb departs for the north, as they suppose he must in order to take his claimed kingdom back from the ironmen. Ser Kevan adds that Balon Greyjoy has written to propose alliance. Redwyne and Tyrell are in favor of taking the offer and letting him have the North, but Tywin counters that Gryejoy is already fighting their enemies for free, and they are better off letting the proposal lie and seeing if something better arises. Tyrion thinks that Tywin has something up his sleeve regarding this “better option.”
They also discuss Lysa Arryn and the Vale. Tyrell and Redwyne opine that she should be left alone; Tyrion angrily points out his own treatment at her hands, as well as her failure to swear fealty to Joffrey. He volunteers to take some men and handle Lysa, but this earns contempt from Tyrell, and Tywin interjects that he has other plans for her. It transpires that Littlefinger intends to travel to the Vale to “woo and wed” Lysa. He implies that his previous carnal knowledge of her will ensure his success. Tyrion thinks that his seemingly backhanded acquiring of Harrenhal is what made the idea possible, and also concludes that this was all planned out long ago. Tyrion asks how they are to manage their finances while Littlefinger is away, and to his shock and displeasure finds that Tywin intends for Tyrion himself to step into the role of Master of Coin. Littlefinger intends to leave the next day.
They discuss the wedding arrangements, and Pycelle interjects the news that Prince Doran and three hundred Dornishmen intend to arrive in time for the ceremony. This displeases Tyrell, as Highgarden has often feuded and raided with Dorne over the centuries, but Tywin squashes Tyrell’s objections with the revelation that Doran is coming to be on the council, and also for “the justice Robert denied him for the murder of his sister Elia and her children.” No one dares to mention that it was Tywin himself who’d had them killed. They move on to discuss divvying up the confiscated lands of lords loyal to Stannis or Renly, and Tyrion notes that Tyrell gets the largest slice of the pie by far. Varys mentions sightings of a true kraken off the Fingers, and rumors of “a three-headed dragon” hatched in Qarth, but Tywin is uninterested.
They discuss returned gold cloak deserters; Varys suggests sending them to the Night’s Watch, owing to the disturbing reports they’ve had from the Wall, but Tywin decides that they should be made examples, and orders them kneecapped and beggared. Tyrion, remembering his own visit to the Wall, protests this decision, but Tywin opines that if the Wall falls, the ensuing wildling invasion will be Stark and/or Greyjoy’s problem, and if they fall, Mance Rayder may prove a valuable ally. Tywin then kicks out everyone else but Cersei, Tyrion, and Kevan.
Tyrion argues that Littlefinger is not to be trusted, but Kevan counters that he has served them well, mentioning that he’d brought them word of a Tyrell plot to spirit Sansa Stark off to marry the heir to Highgarden. Cersei is astounded by this news, and Tywin declares they must forestall this development, as he “will not have the rose and the direwolf in bed together,” and says they will stop it by marrying Cersei to Willas Tyrell instead. Cersei is horrified, and argues fiercely that she will not marry again at all, but Tywin ignores her protests, and Cersei leaves in a fury. Tyrion cannot decide whether to sympathize with her or be gleeful, though he wonders whether Jaime will let this new marriage occur this time.
Tyrion soon forgets Cersei’s predicament, though, when Tywin announces it is high time he marries as well. Tyrion divines that Tywin means to marry him to Sansa Stark, and points out that the Tyrells will take offense, but Tywin counters that if they seal the deal before the Tyrells can even announce their plan to marry her to Willas, they will have no cause to protest. Tyrion opines that forcing Sansa to marry him after she has finally escaped “His Grace the royal pustule” seems very cruel, but Tywin replies that Sansa’s happiness is no concern of his, but rather securing the north, to which Sansa is the key. Tyrion protests that she is still a child, and proposes returning her to her mother or brother, but Tywin scornfully counters that then she will only be married off to a northman or one of Riverrun’s allies, and that she must marry a Lannister.
Kevan points out that whoever marries Sansa has a chance at becoming Lord of Winterfell, and Tywin cruelly reminds Tyrion of how his disfigurement has prevented any other marriages Tywin had tried to arrange for him, and doesn’t see why he wouldn’t jump at the chance for Sansa. Tyrion replies he’d rather have a wife who actually wants him, and Tywin replies that if Tyrion thinks his whores truly want him, he is a fool. Tyrion asks why not go for Greyjoy’s daughter if he wants the north, and Tywin opines that Greyjoy will not hold the north for long.
Tyrion further points out that Robb’s heirs via the Freys will supercede any claim to Winterfell he might have through Sansa, but Tywin reveals that Robb Stark has broken his oath to marry into the Freys by marrying Jeyne Westerling instead. Tyrion is astonished at such foolishness, and also bemused that his father displays so little fury at the Westerlings’ betrayal of their allegiance with the Lannisters, remembering Tywin’s infamous treatment of those who’d broken with him in the past. He asks if the Westerlings and Spicers can be such great fools as to think the wolf can defeat the lion.
Every once in a very long while, Lord Tywin Lannister would actually threaten to smile; he never did, but the threat alone was terrible to behold. “The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them,” he said, and then, “You will marry Sansa Stark, Tyrion. And soon.”
My brain, she has asploded. *Booge*, splatter, no more brain, sorry, goodbye.
Because, uh. Whuh, bzuh.
No, seriously. How I am supposed to react to this? I cannot not even wrap my brain around the concept here, so how I am supposed to come up with anything coherent to say about it?
Tyrion marrying Sansa? I am floored. FLOORED, people.
Because, okay. I like Tyrion, and I like Sansa, and I am rooting for them both, but this… lordy. There’s so many implications packed into this that I hardly know where to start unpacking them.
I actually don’t think, on reflection, that Tyrion would be the worst choice for Sansa—I mean, at least I can be reasonably sure that he won’t treat her like utter shit—but I can hardly see it going well. First of all, you know Sansa will be horrified by this proposition, and even if Tyrion doesn’t deserve to be viewed with revulsion (in my view, anyway), Sansa doesn’t actually know that, does she?
She’s matured a lot since the beginning of this series, but, well, expecting her to be thrilled to be married to a disfigured dwarf is probably not very realistic. And on a much less shallow (and much more important) level, expecting her to be thrilled to be married to a Lannister of any stripe, even the sole member of the family who has remotely tried to be nice to her, is probably even less realistic. And for the latter reaction, at least, you can hardly blame her.
Not to mention that any way you slice it, even if this marriage somehow works out in the long run, at the moment what it represents is both parties’ choices being taken away from them, in the most cavalier and callous way possible. Ugh.
Which is by way of saying that I am having trouble separating my reaction to this specific arrangement from my general nausea at the entire scene, in which every woman mentioned is basically discussed in the same terms one would use to discuss cattle at the marketplace. Which, unsurprisingly, makes me rather burn with rage—even for Cersei. I don’t like her, at all, but I’m not going to be hypocritical enough to be enraged on Sansa’s behalf and not on hers, when basically the exact same thing is happening to them both.
God, can you even imagine being in such a position? To have no say or recourse in to whom you end up shackled for life? To being regarded as nothing more than property to be traded?
But aside from the general injustice of it all, wow, the irony here is just off the scale, isn’t it? Cersei’s going to be forced to marry the guy Sansa was going to be (sort of) forced to marry? Dude. My head, she spins. Not that this Willas guy is getting a nice deal out of it either, because Cersei is going to eat him alive, and he probably won’t even deserve it.
And it was Littlefinger who ratted out the Tyrells’ scheme? How the bloody hell did he find out about it?
Sansa Stark, [Tyrion] mused. Soft-spoken sweet-smelling Sansa, who loved silks, songs, chivalry and tall gallant knights with handsome faces. He felt as though he was back on the bridge of boats, the deck shifting beneath his feet.
My respect for Tyrion increases tenfold at his dismay for Sansa’s feelings about the situation (against all cultural conditioning to the contrary, evidently), even as simultaneously my sorrow for him increases by the same amount, that he has to believe that he should be the cause of her disappointment. I could wish that, if this marriage actually comes to pass, that they both eventually manage to find happiness in it, but all things considered I think I’d better not hold my breath.
Tywin, meanwhile continues to be as fluffy and huggable as ever. “Break their knees with hammers,” indeed. Both metaphorically and literally, it turns out. The intensely creepy thing is, I bet that Tywin thinks he’s being eminently practical and fair in all his dealings with his children. Which, yeah. Maybe it isn’t entirely his fault that all his kids turned out so insanely fucked up, but I’m not betting money on how large the percentage is which can be laid at his feet, because wow.
In other news, Littlefinger aims to marry Lysa? Um. Dude.
I don’t remember by now if we’ve ever had any confirmation on this one way or the other, but barring such I reeeeally tend to doubt that Lysa ever let Petyr Baelish lay a finger (little or otherwise, heh) on her when they were all kids together, any more than Catelyn did. Although I suppose it’s possible that she has such bad taste, but Tyrion is quite right in that Petyr didn’t have the rank to make it worth putting up with, well, him.
So, overcompensating and lying through his teeth, check.
Given that, I have to wonder what exactly Littlefinger’s got up his sleeve to actually persuade/coerce Lysa into a marriage. There’s gotta to be something, because if he’s just relying on either his native charm or Lysa’s grasp of sweet reason, he just may be screwed – and not in the way he wants, either. But one thing Littlefinger is not, is stupid. So I feel relatively safe in assuming he has some kind of diabolical back-up plan. I would probably feel more apprehensive about this if I cared in the slightest about Lysa, but I don’t so I’m not. Sowwy.
Of course, as smart as he is, Petyr may not be aware of just how utterly bugshit Lysa has lately become (if I were Tyrion I certainly wouldn’t bother cluing him in before he goes), so Petyr may actually be in for a very nasty surprise. We shall see, I suppose.
Also, wow, Joffrey was not even at this meeting. Not that I care much about him learning the ropes of proper kinging, because, you know, with the vitriolic hatred and all, but that’s a pretty sharp indication that Tywin also doesn’t give much of a crap about it either. I’d say I’m surprised, but, well.
As for what Tywin’s alternate plan is regarding the
Vikings Ironmen, I can only assume he’s working on bringing in someone from overseas, since I think pretty much everyone on this continent is either allied with him already or at war with him. But other than that I got nothing.
“And [Lady Sybell Westerling’s] grandmother was some woman he’d brought back from the east. A frightening old crone, supposed to be a priestess. Maegi, they called her. No one could pronounce her real name. Half of Lannisport used to go to her for cures and love potions and the like.” [Tywin] shrugged. “She’s long dead, to be sure. And Jeyne seemed a sweet child, I’ll grant you, though I only saw her once. But with such doubtful blood . . . ”
Jeyne Westerling’s grandmother was a Maegi from overseas? Like whatshername, the witch who screwed over Daenerys? (Mirri Mas Duur, or some other double-voweled variation on that.) Reeeally.
…I wonder if Maegi do love potions, eh?
And that’s what I got for this one, kids. Have a lovely weekend, and check in to the site this coming Tuesday for maybe something special related to That Other Blog I do here, and I’ll see you with more ASOIAF next Friday!