A Read of Ice and Fire

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 36

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 36 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 59 (“Sansa”) and Chapter 60 (“Tyrion”).

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 59: Sansa

What Happens
Sansa wakes from a dream in which Lady and all her family were alive and safe, and remembers again that she is the only one left. Her new maids, Shae and Brella, come in to give her a bath; she thinks that Shae gives her very insolent looks sometimes. Sansa tries not to be nervous about attending Joffrey’s wedding. Tyrion arrives as she is dressing, and begins drinking immediately, saying he has no intention of facing his sister sober. Sansa summons her strength to go with him down to breakfast.

Neither Tyrion nor Sansa have much of an appetite. The nobles all present Joffrey with rich gifts, but Joffrey scorns Tyrion’s gift (a rare book of the history of four kings of Westeros), and makes a crude joke about visiting Sansa in her chambers after the wedding and “show[ing] my little uncle how it’s done.” Tyrion makes no reply, just drinks more. Joffrey makes another joke about the fall of House Stark, and Sansa hopes he falls and breaks his neck. Tywin gives Joffrey a magnificent sword, and Joffrey decides to name it “Widow’s Wail,” for the many widows it will create, and slashes Tyrion’s book to pieces with it before declaring Tyrion owes him a better gift. Tyrion suggests a dagger with a dragonbone hilt, and Joffrey gives him a look before demanding one with gold and rubies.

Prince Oberyn of Dorne and his baseborn paramour, Ellaria Sand, fall in with Tyrion and Sansa as they head to the wedding. Oberyn debates the history of King Viserys with Tyrion, and Sansa is shocked at Tyrion’s opinion that Viserys was right to kill off Baelor the Blessed, who Tyrion believes was deranged by snake venom. Oberyn observes there are no snakes here now, and asks how Tyrion accounts for Joffrey, then. In the litter, Sansa apologizes to Tyrion about the book, but Tyrion answers that he should have known better, and says that perhaps Joffrey has “earned himself a dagger” instead. He comments that Joffrey fought with her brother Robb at Winterfell, and asks her if he did the same with Bran; Sansa is confused by the question, but doesn’t think so.

Tyrion states that she loved her brothers, and fearing a trap, Sansa answers that her brothers were traitors. Tyrion asks her if she knows what happened to Bran at Winterfell, and assures her he never harmed Bran, and means no harm to her either. Sansa gives a neutral answer, not knowing what Tyrion wants from her, and wishing he would leave her alone. He comments that she has never asked how Robb or her mother died, and Sansa replies that she would rather not know, as it would give her bad dreams.

“Then I will say no more.”

“That… that’s kind of you.”

“Oh, yes,” said Tyrion. “I am the very soul of kindness. And I know about bad dreams.”

I once read a crime story in which the protagonist (a homicide detective) observed that the one thing he almost never saw, in all the domestic murder scenes he’d gone over in his career, was the presence of books. The quote was something like, I’ve never seen a bloody body in a home filled with books.

Now obviously this is not unilaterally true—I’m sure someone somewhere has been murdered in a room full of books—but the larger point was still taken. I certainly don’t need anything more at this point to cement my abhorrence of Joffrey, but his contempt for reading/learning/knowledge/history is the snail-slime icing on the turd cannoli as far as I am concerned. Ugh.

Also, rape jokes and “Widow’s Wail.” Really. REALLY.

Why isn’t he DEAD YET? I rail, impotently. WHHHYYYYYYYY

Well, there’s a wedding coming up (she says, sourly), so the odds on lots of people dying are suddenly astronomically higher, if we go by general trends. I might get lucky! *crosses fingers*

I really might, actually, because Tyrion looks to be getting perilously close to the end of his rope re: dear little Joff, not that I blame him. Not that ANYONE would blame him. “Earned himself a dagger,” indeed. INDEED, Tyrion. I See What You Did There.

Though I am intrigued by Joffrey’s reaction at Tyrion’s mention of a dagger with a dragonbone hilt. Obviously this is a reference to the dagger that was used to frame Tyrion in the assassination attempt on Bran, but I don’t think I had any idea that Joffrey was in on that whole thing. Which, maybe he wasn’t, but his reaction to Tyrion’s jab here certainly suggests that he was. And now I am dealing with (a) trying to remember if it was confirmed before this that Cersei was behind the frame job, and (b) boggling that, if she was, that she would be stupid enough to confide in her little hellspawn about it. Because, oh yes, let’s trust JOFFREY with secrets, THAT’S a good idea.

…Actually it might be, for Tyrion, anyway. If Joffrey gets pissed enough to blurt something about it, it wouldn’t be very good for Cersei, now would it? Hmm.

In any case, I would be all for Tyrion stabbing his nephew to death, a lot—if it weren’t for how badly the aftermath would almost certainly go for Tyrion. Even if he gets someone else to do the dirty work, you can’t tell me that Tyrion wouldn’t immediately be the prime suspect as the orchestrator of it. And that’s no bueno, mi amigos.

Well, maybe Sansa’s wish will come true, and Joffrey will drink himself stupid tonight and fall down and break his neck. I will also accept this form of dead. I will accept nearly any kind of dead-making re: Joffrey, actually, provided it does not also include blowback on Tyrion or Sansa. I wonder what my odds are on that? Yeah, don’t bother answering that one.

Speaking of Sansa, I kind of forgot until now that as far as she knows, literally every other member of her family is dead. That is… damn. I don’t even know how I would cope with that.

Lastly and randomly: I actually had to stop reading this chapter when Martin started describing the breakfast meal, and go get myself a snack. Om nom nom.

Chapter 60: Tyrion

What Happens
Tyrion has to admit that Joffrey and Margaery look a regal couple together, and he wonders whether she is really a virgin (and, snidely, whether Joffrey would know the difference). He reflects that he should have seen that it was Joffrey, not Jaime or Cersei, who was behind the attempt to frame him for Bran’s assassination. He wonders what “poxy lackwit” Joffrey had recruited, and thinks on the boy’s stupidity that he had selected Littlefinger’s dagger for the job. Tyrion is worried that Joffrey knows he knows, now.

It comes time for the exchange of cloaks, and Tyrion bitterly remembers that part of his own wedding. The ceremony ends smoothly, and the wedding party proceeds out the sept to be greeted by cheering crowds, who love Margaery enough to forgive Joffrey. He and Sansa return to their litter, and he reflects on her beauty, and wishes he could break through her armor of courtesy. He blurts that they might go to Casterly Rock once the roads are safe again, and show her the sights; Sansa answers woodenly that she will go wherever her lord husband wishes, and Tyrion curses himself for a fool and abandons the notion.

He knows he needs to be far from King’s Landing by the time Joffrey comes to rule in his own right, and tries to extol the virtues of Braavos to Sansa, but her “icy courtesy” remains unshaken. When they arrive back, Tyrion tells her he will see her at the feast, and walks off to take a piss. He goes back to his chambers and reflects on who would be foolish enough to challenge Joffrey now, after what happened to Stannis and Robb Stark, and the many triumphs the Lannisters’ forces have had in the field. He believes that the War of the Five Kings is nearly over.

Shae is helping Sansa dress, and tells Sansa she will be the most beautiful woman at the feast. Shae asks if she can’t come to the feast, and Tyrion cuts in that the hall will be too crowded already. Podrick helps him dress, and he and Sansa go to the throne room. He watches how deftly Sansa handles the courtesies, and reflects that she would have made a great queen if Joffrey had had the sense to love her, though he is not sure Joffrey is capable of love. Lady Olenna Tyrell fusses with Sansa’s hair, and invites her to visit Highgarden. Sansa demurs that her place is with her husband, and Olenna makes jabs at Tyrion about “dwarf’s pennies.” Tyrion is glad to escape her.

Joffrey and Margaery enter with pomp and circumstance, and Joffrey declares a toast to his new queen, and the feast begins. Sansa eats little, and Tyrion wonders if she wishes she was in Margaery’s place. He wonders what she would do if he tried to kiss her, and thinks she would suffer it dutifully, just as she would anything else. He drinks more wine. The feast proceeds with rich dishes and entertainments galore. Tyrion asks Sansa which singer she liked, and she answers that she wasn’t listening. He asks if anything is wrong, and curses himself for a fool. She says she is fine.

One of the singers begins a song about the recent battle, all about Joffrey and Cersei, and Tyrion is surprised and gratified when Ser Garlan makes mention of Tyrion’s contributions to it. Someone gets stabbed, and others are getting drunk—including Joffrey, who shouts for his “royal jousters.” These turn out to be two dwarfs, mounted on a dog and a sow, with sigils of a stag and a wolf. Tyrion resolves to find out who planned this later and “thank” them accordingly. The dwarfs perform a farcical “joust,” to the great amusement of the crowd, ending with the stag knight mounting the wolf knight, literally.

Joffrey, in great glee, declares that the champion must defeat all comers, and yells for his uncle to “defend the realm.” Tyrion climbs on the table, and declares that he’ll ride the pig, if Joffrey rides the dog.

Joff scowled, confused. “Me? I’m no dwarf. Why me?”

Stepped right into the cut, Joff. “Why, you’re the only man in the hall that I’m certain of defeating!”

He could not have said which was sweeter; the instant of shocked silence, the gale of laughter that followed, or the look of blind rage on his nephew’s face.

Joffrey sits, and Tyrion blows a kiss to a glaring Cersei, and the feast goes on, but soon Ser Garlan warns him to look to the king. Joffrey has come up behind him, and dumps a huge chalice of wine over Tyrion’s head. Garlan tells Joffrey that that was ill done, but Tyrion deflects by saying it was an honor to be served from the king’s chalice. Margaery and Olenna appear, entreating Joffrey to come listen to the next singer, but Joffrey continues to humiliate Tyrion by making him serve him from the chalice on his knees, and Tyrion hears others laughing at him.

Then it is time for the pie, and Joffrey calls for Ser Ilyn Payne to bring his sword forward to slice it. Sansa sees it is not Ice, her father’s sword, and asks what has happened to it; Tyrion thinks he should have sent it to Robb. Joffrey and Margaery break the piecrust together with the sword, and the doves trapped inside fly out everywhere. Tyrion sees how pale Sansa is, and tries to leave, but Joffrey will not allow it, and makes Tyrion serve him again. Margaery tries to draw him off, but Joffrey instead starting stuffing himself with Tyrion’s slice of pigeon pie.

Then he begins coughing, and soon doubles over. Margaery gasps that he is choking. Olenna shouts for help, and Joffrey stops breathing. Pandemonium erupts as everyone shouts different things to try to help him, and Joffrey claws at his own throat. Tyrion realizes that Joffrey is dying. He watches the boy’s eyes, so terrified, as many of the guests trample each other in their efforts to flee. Tyrion thinks perhaps he should do the same, but when he hears Cersei scream, he goes to where she is cradling her son’s corpse. She has to be pried off him. Margaery is sobbing, and her mother tells her that poor Joffrey choked on the pie. Cersei cuts in to say that Joffrey did not choke; he was poisoned.

“Arrest my brother,” she commanded him. “He did this, the dwarf. Him and his little wife. They killed my son. Your king. Take them! Take them both!”


Well, uh.

Holy shit.

Sorry, I’m just going to sit here being dumbfounded for a minute.

Because, you guys. You guys. I GOT MY WISH.

HOLY SHARKNADO, Y’ALL, JOFFREY IS FUCKING DEAD. HE IS ACTUALLY FUCKING DEAD. The moment I have been waiting for since pretty much the moment his character was fucking introduced has come to pass. DEAD. JOFFREY. DEAD.


I don’t even know what to do with myself right now. I am completely out of confetti, for one thing, and that is a tragedy. I’d turn a cartwheel, except for how that would only end in tears, and possibly a trip to the ER.

Hoooooolllllleeeeeeeee SHIT.

I swear to God I did not read this chapter before writing the commentary to the previous one, by the way. Which is probably evident by the way I was so deeply wrong on the dagger thing, whoops.

So it was Joffrey behind that all along? Wow. That… well, as stupid as that whole scheme was, that actually grants him far more deviousness and cunning than I ever would have believed of him. Huh.


*bounces all around*

This is possibly getting disturbing, I’m sorry. But oh my God, no more Joffrey, I can’t even. I suppose I should feel at least a little bad for him, at least if you subscribe to the “psychopaths aren’t entirely responsible for being psychopaths” idea, but… well. No. Sorry, but I’m just really really really really glad that he’s gone. If that makes me a terrible person so be it, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.

Tyrion found himself thinking of Robb Stark. My own wedding is looking much better in hindsight.


The only thing I can conclude at this point, in fact, is that George R.R. Martin has some kind of deep-seated and wildly irrational hatred of weddings. GRRM loathes weddings, y’all. Weddings have done him wrong. He wants weddings to suffer. Because of the three that have occurred so far in this book, the fact that Tyrion’s—Tyrion’s!—was the least heinous, is just mind-blowing. You know you’re setting a low bar when the best part of your wedding day is that no one died during it.

(Well, okay, technically there were four weddings, and Robb’s actually went off without a hitch, but I’m thinking the one he attended after that KIND OF NEGATES IT IN HINDSIGHT. Because AAAAAAGGGHHH.)

What even is this shit, OMG.

(I don’t really believe Martin hates weddings, of course. I think that he loves parallels, because all writers love parallels. And we have got parallels coming out the wazoo right about now.)

(I do think he might hate happiness, though. Just a little bit. Small bit.)

Because, of course, my other prediction in the previous chapter commentary also came true: Tyrion is immediately blamed for Joffrey’s death, and that is no bueno. And Sansa, too! Crap.

Obviously Tyrion wasn’t actually responsible for it, seeing as we were in his head at the time, but I’m not sure yet whether Joffrey did die of simply choking, or if there really was foul play involved. I tend to suspect, though, that he actually did die completely mundanely by choking on pigeon pie, and that is just all kinds of ironic.

(Clearly there’s no Westeros equivalent of the Heimlich Maneuver, huh.)

Of course, I say it was probably a mundane death… as long as you discount Melisandre’s curse. Which I’m pretty sure I oughtn’t to. Eeek.

Because, wow. Four kings down, and one left standing. I may have underestimated Stannis’s chances in this war. There’s probably irony in that he was the one who was originally most rigidly committed to following the rule of law, and yet he was also the one who (thanks to Melly) prosecuted this war in the most sneaky, underhanded, dishonorable, back-stabby manner possible. Damn.

One thing’s for sure: even aside from Sansa and Tyrion’s possible fates, this is going to result in a clusterfuck of epic proportions. Who even is Joffrey’s heir right now? Tommen, I think. But I’m also guessing Tywin will end up making a grab for the reins at this point, because he is undoubtedly thinking that all his progeny are utter fuckups, and he’s not even wrong. He’ll probably end up tangling with Cersei on that one, though, seeing as she’s still regent.

Well, whatever happens, it’ll be interesting to see just how the Lannisters will continue to implode as a result of Joffrey’s death. All we need is for maimed Jaime to show up, and it’ll be the most awesomely horrible family reunion ever. Whoo-ee.

(I considered making a plea/demand that Tyrion and Sansa had better not die, but in the interest of not jinxing myself I think I’ll just shut up and see what happens.)

Other random notes:

I am totally going to find a way to use “poxy lackwit” as an insult in my regular life, because it makes me happy.

One done, seventy-six to come. Seventy-seven dishes, while there are still starving children in this city, and men who would kill for a radish. They might not love the Tyrells half so well if they could see us now.

Seventy-seven courses? Dude. That is straight-up balls to the wall insane. And they’re not even going to give the (undoubtedly ridiculous amounts of) leftovers to the starving poor? Ugh, rich people. I think pure socialism is a silly and impractical idea, but sometimes thinking about things like this makes me very anti-capitalist for a while.

That said, if I thought the last chapter made me hungry it had nothing on this one. Jeez.

Can I just say I adore that Lady Olenna calls her bodyguards “Left and Right”? That completely cracked me up. Also:

“I do so hope he plays us ‘The Rains of Castamere.’ It has been an hour, I’ve forgotten how it goes.”

Ha ha, she is so full of shit, it’s awesome. Also: THE RAINS OF CASTAMERE, I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, MARTIN. Lordy.

Aaand I’m spent. Have a thing with seven days in it, my puffalumps, and I’ll see you next Thursday!



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