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 46 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 72 (“Jaime”).
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 72: Jaime
Bored, Jaime watches as Kevan has Tommen sign attainders against Edmure and Brynden Tully for rebellion. He thinks back to the disastrous training session he’d had against Ser Addam Marbrand, trying to use his left hand. Tommen signs more papers, granting property to Ser Emmon Frey, legitimizing Lord Bolton’s bastard son, and raising Ser Rolph Spicer to lord. Jaime reflects that he should have gone to Ser Ilyn Payne instead, who at least wouldn’t be able to talk about the failure Jaime has become. Jaime goes to leave; Kevan entreats him to try to heal the breach between him and his father, but Jaime answers that Tywin sending him “mocking gifts” indicates his father is not interested in healing anything. Kevan protests that the gift was “heartfelt,” but Jaime is scornful.
He goes to the outer ward, where Steelshanks Walton is preparing to leave with a girl who calls herself Arya Stark, who tells him she is to be wed to Lord Bolton’s son Ramsay. Jaime thinks she sounds scared, and figures it makes little difference whether this girl actually looks like Arya, since all her family is dead. The company heads out.
Jaime thinks of how Gregor’s wounds are festering badly from whatever poison had been on Oberyn’s spear. Tywin had refused Pycelle’s request to detain the other Dornishmen to find out what the poison was, despite Pycelle’s prediction that Gregor will die otherwise. Tywin had told him that they cannot risk more trouble with Dorne than they already have, especially when there is a chance Stannis Baratheon will go to them seeking allies.
Jaime goes to White Sword Tower and finds Cersei waiting for him in his bedchamber. She also entreats him to talk to their father, and Jaime replies bitterly that Tywin wants to force him from the Kingsguard and back to Casterly Rock. Cersei points out that Tywin wants her there too, to keep her away from Tommen. She is irate that Tywin and the Tyrells are insisting that Tommen marry Margaery, but Jaime says he sees no harm in it. He says it is her fault that he feels no fatherly concern toward Tommen; she protests it was to protect them. Jaime tells her he is not ashamed to declare their love openly, only of the things he has done to hide it, like what he did to the Stark boy. Cersei insists that is his fault for being unable to wait to have her.
Jaime brings up Catelyn Stark’s conviction that he had sent an assassin after Bran, and asks if she had anything to do with it. Cersei scoffs at the notion, but comments that even Robert had thought it would be best if the boy died, and had said so in his cups. Jaime asks if anyone else heard Robert say that, and Cersei says the children were there.
“Perhaps Myrcella sent this man with the dagger, do you think so?”
It was meant as mockery, but she’d cut right to the heart of it, Jaime saw at once. “Not Myrcella. Joffrey.”
Cersei is doubtful of this, and changes the subject to Joffrey’s death and how it tore at her. She begs Jaime not to let Tywin take away the last of their children still in her reach, to leave the Kingsguard so that Tywin will listen to him and not make her marry again. Jaime is shocked by this news. Cersei says she never wants anyone but Jaime in her bed again, and Jaime entreats her to tell Tywin that. Cersei tells him they are not Targaryens, and it can never be that way. Jaime is scornful, and she tries to entice him to sleep with her as proof that she is sincere in her love.
Jaime refuses her, unwilling to desecrate the Kingsguard’s tower, and Cersei is enraged. She calls him a eunuch and a fool, and spits that he couldn’t have protected Tommen anyway. They argue about Tyrion, and Cersei is further incensed that Jaime is not convinced Tyrion killed Joffrey. Jaime says Tyrion would not lie to him, but Cersei says Tyrion has lied to him, just as she has. She continues to mock him, calling him a cripple and a disappointment, and leaves. Jaime wonders how it is that House Lannister is supposed to have won this war when he seems to have lost everything in it.
Jaime summons Ser Loras and Brienne, and asks Loras what he thinks now he has spoken with her. Loras says he is no longer certain Brienne killed Renly, and Jaime reminds him the castellan of Storm’s End, Ser Cortnay Penrose, also died strangely. He dismisses Loras, and compliments Brienne on her dress. She hesitantly compliments him as well, and asks if he meant what he said to Loras about Renly. Jaime plays it off, pretending disinterest.
He tells her about the fake Arya Stark going to wed Bolton’s bastard, so that (he says) she will not go haring off trying to rescue the girl. He says Bolton knows about the ruse and doesn’t care, since there is no one left to contest it. He tells her that he’d promised Lady Stark her daughters, and there is one still left alive, Sansa, though no one knows where she is. He tells her about the outcome of Tyrion’s trial, and Brienne realizes Jaime thinks Tyrion is innocent. Jaime is sure that Sansa did it and Tyrion is covering for her, but Brienne is certain Sansa had nothing to do with Joffrey’s murder.
He gives her a magnificent jeweled sword, and tells her to name it Oathkeeper. He says it is one of two forged from the remains of Ned Stark’s sword Ice. He tells her that he wants her to find Sansa Stark before Cersei does and take the girl to safety. Brienne, who had been assuming Jaime wanted her to kill Sansa, is astounded, and tries to apologize, but Jaime cuts her off and tells her to get going, saying he is sick of the sight of her. Brienne asks why he wants her to save Sansa if he thinks she killed his son Joffrey. Jaime thinks (but does not say) that it is because Joffrey deserved to die, and replies that saving Sansa is his last chance at honor. Brienne vows to him that she will succeed, for Catelyn’s sake and for his, and leaves.
Jaime opens the White Book to his own page, and adds to the entry:
Defeated in the Whispering Wood by the Young Wolf Robb Stark during the War of the Five Kings. Held captive at Riverrun and ransomed for a promise unfulfilled. Captured again by the Brave Companions, and maimed at the word of Vargo Hoat their captain, losing his sword hand to the blade of Zollo the Fat. Returned safely to King’s Landing by Brienne, the Maid of Tarth.
When he was done, more than three-quarters of his page still remained to be filled between the gold lion on the crimson shield on top and the blank white shield at the bottom. Ser Gerold Hightower had begun his history, and Ser Barristan Selmy had continued it, but the rest Jaime Lannister would need to write for himself. He could write whatever he chose, henceforth.
Whatever he chose…
OH MY GOD I AM SO ANNOYED RIGHT NOW.
SO MUCH ANNOYANCE. Yes. Jaime annoys me, Martin annoys me, and ALL OF YOU PEOPLE OUT THERE IN THE COMMENTS frickin’ annoy me, because goddamn it, you were right.
I like Jaime Lannister.
As in, he is now on my List Of (Surviving) Characters In ASOIAF I Want To Win. Which means he is now on par with characters like Tyrion, Brienne, Daenerys, Davos, and the remaining Starks.
And I am SO MAD about that I want to throw things.
No, you don’t even understand, I have been sitting here sulking about it for like the last half hour. Sulking! About a fictional character! That’s how sad I am. THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN REDUCED TO. O, THE HUMANITY. O, THE EXCESSIVE USE OF ALL CAPS. AAAGGHHH.
I really really really wanted to prove wrong alla y’all who gloated in the comments back in the day about how oh, yeah, Leigh, you hate him now, but you’ll see. And I was all, HI, DENEFESTRATION OF A MINOR, HOW ABOUT NO, and you were all, just you wait, Henry Higgins, and I was like LALALALA NOOOOOO, and you were like MWAHAHAHA and now I’m all GODDAMN IT.
Because, I am not forgetting the throwing a child out the window thing, y’all, because that is not a thing one forgets. Nor am I forgetting that he is, by both intent and design, a giant douche 95% of the time. HOWEVER, ever since we got into his head Jaime has also been hitting every single one of my sympathy triggers, and this chapter was pretty much the tipping point.
Because, he gave Brienne a quest, you guys.
Do you know how often a female character in a heavily patriarchal setting gets actually asked, by a man, to do a heroic quest? As opposed to being asked by another female character, or taking it on her damn self? Because those two latter circumstances have their own kind of awesomeness, but this is different. This is acknowledgment.
This is rare, tragically so, and I ain’t gonna lie when I tell you that the whole scene with Brienne and Jaime in this chapter made my heart go pitapat for reasons that had absolutely nothing to do with my speculations upon their romantic relationship (or lack thereof), and everything to do with Jaime’s acknowledgment (however camouflaged under pretend disdain) of Brienne’s worth as a warrior. Which, in Westeros parlance, is basically the same thing as acknowledging her worth as a human being, because Westeros culture is fucked up. But EVEN SO.
Because, don’t get me wrong, I am all about female characters saying “fuck the patriarchy” and doing things their damn selves whether men want them to or not, but the simple fact of the matter is that the imbalance between the sexes will never be sufficiently addressed until both women and men collectively decide that it is bullshit, and act accordingly. And this is not to say that I think bucking the status quo was Jaime’s intent, or even that he recognized that that is what he was doing (though I think he does recognize it on some level, hence his continuing compensation for that by deriding Brienne even as he honors her), but on a meta authorial level it definitely is recognition of that goal, as far as I am concerned, and I cannot help but to give some love to the character by which Martin used to describe that support.
If that makes me biased, well. It’s not like I ever said I wasn’t.
It also doesn’t hurt, of course, that Jaime is currently being thoroughly abused by characters I distinctly don’t Want To Win (i.e. Cersei and Tywin), and that he is now practically the sole supporter of the characters I do Want To Win (i.e. Tyrion and Sansa). Clever, that, because even putting the Brienne thing aside, I almost have to be in favor of Jaime for those reasons alone.
Not to mention his recognition of the fact that Joffrey was fundamentally broken, because, thank you.
Not also to mention my instinctive desire to root for someone who has reached the point where they give exactly zero fucks about what people think of them, and are going to do their thing anyway, because this is a state of being I have been trying to reach all my life. Jaime has not perhaps quite reached this perfect state, mostly because of his (in my opinion) poisonous obsession with Cersei, but his entry into the Big White Book of Kingsguard Doings in this chapter is definitely a very long step in that direction.
A note on Cersei: I have to wonder whether my sympathy would be more geared toward her than Jaime if it had been her head Martin had chosen to invite us into instead of his. Because it’s not like she doesn’t have genuine cause for her bitterness, but from an outsider’s perspective (even one as, ahem, inside as Jaime’s) the pain and strife she has caused still vastly outweighs her rationale for her actions.
I am not talking about the defenestration incident in particular—because that is still all most emphatically on Jaime—but about her actions in general, toward Ned, Catelyn, Tyrion, Robert, and Jaime himself. I dislike Cersei in and of herself, but I have to give props to her as a character, because it is good to see a female character being a truly complex villain. Cersei’s reasons for her behavior are legit, and even sympathizable, but that still does not excuse them from the evil they have caused. I am not honestly sure what I would have had her do differently if I could have, but that doesn’t change the ultimate tally of the results. If that makes any sense.
But anyway, the point is: fine, I like Jaime. I am MIGHTY pissed about it, and I am still not sure his recent tribulations are sufficient punishment for his actions in the past, but I am hoping his current trend toward doing good things for the characters I care about (and bad things for the characters I don’t) will continue. WHATEVER.
If Oathkeeper (awesome name) is half of Ned’s sword Ice, which sword is the other half? Hmm.
So, Gregor Clegane is suffering, is he? I’m going to make a note to be sad about that. Oh, wait, except I’m not, because FUCK YOU, GREGOR CLEGANE. I hope you die, and I hope it takes a long fucking time, you (literally) suppurating shitstain. And then I hope you meet up with all your victims in the afterlife, and they have weapons and you don’t. That would be sweet.
Re: Fake Arya Stark: well, this isn’t going to fuck things up when Arya turns up for real at all. YEAH, RIGHT. Ugh. Also, that poor, poor girl. Can I hope that an ambush happens and she never makes it to that monster Ramsay? Would death be better? I… am not sure. Jeez.
I am also not sure that the revelation here that Joffrey ordered the hit on Bran was supposed to be a genuine surprise to the reader or not, because I feel like we already knew that. I think maybe Tyrion deduced it earlier? Someone must have, because I didn’t feel any real sense of shock at the idea at all when I read this chapter.
That said, God, I’m glad that Joffrey is dead. Was there any level on which that kid wasn’t a genuine plague on humanity? I certainly can’t think of one!
What was Tywin’s “gift” to Jaime that so pissed Jaime off? If it was revealed in this chapter I totally missed it. If the answer is a spoiler please refrain from telling me, but I admit I am curious, in a “dreading” sort of way, because if anyone can make gift-giving into a horrific mockery of the tradition, I feel, it’s Tywin Lannister. Eeek.
The bit with Tommen in the beginning of this chapter reminds me of how fundamentally bizarre and damaging it must be to be any functioning member of a royal family, but especially for those who are forced to take it on as children. “Docile” is a decent enough trait for Tommen to have now, but what will happen when he’s old enough to start taking on real responsibilities of his own? I kind of shudder to think.
I don’t know who Tywin thinks he is kidding in hoping that they haven’t lost the goodwill of Dorne, because if you ask me WOW has that ship sailed. I bet you anything Myrcella’s going to find herself crowned and fighting the rest of the continent Real Soon Now. More’s the pity for her.
Last but not least, since I seem to be on this Jaime Lannister train (GODDAMN IT), he really needs to be less hard on himself re: fighting with his left hand. Seriously, dude, you think changing to a completely different fighting style happens overnight? Jaime needs to find someone he trusts to train him, and fast.
Of course, the odds of that happening in the next week, or ever, are… slim, considering what he has to work with.
So join me next week and find out, maybe! Or maybe about completely different things, I never know. Enjoy, my chickens, and see you next Thursday!