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 50 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 77 (“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 77: Tyrion
Tyrion waits in his cell and wonders if they will give him a public execution, or if they will kill him privately so that no one can hear what he might say first. To his shock, though, Jaime comes to his cell. He shows Tyrion his amputated hand, and Tyrion laughs hysterically. He calls them “Handless and Noseless, the Lannister boys,” and asks if Jaime is there to kill him. Jaime tells him he is scheduled to be beheaded on the tourney grounds the next morning, but it doesn’t matter, as Jaime is here to rescue him.
They banter as they leave the cell; Jaime explains that Varys had dosed the guards with sweetsleep, and is waiting above to take Tyrion to a galley bound for the Free Cities. Tyrion points out that a noseless dwarf will hardly be inconspicuous no matter where he goes, and Jaime laughs and kisses him on either cheek. Tyrion thanks him for saving his life, and Jaime replies that he owed Tyrion a debt. Tyrion asks what debt.
His brother looked away. “Tysha,” he said softly.
“Tysha?” His stomach tightened. “What of her?”
“She was no whore. I never bought her for you. That was a lie that Father commanded me to tell. Tysha was… she was what she seemed to be. A crofter’s daughter, chance met on the road.”
Jaime says their father said she was a commoner after Lannister gold, which made her no different from a whore, and that Tyrion would learn a lesson, and thank Jaime later. He begs Tyrion to believe that he didn’t know what would happen, and Tyrion backhands him, knocking him to the ground. Jaime says he supposes he earned that.
“Oh, you’ve earned more than that, Jaime. You and my sweet sister and our loving father, yes, I can’t begin to tell you what you’ve earned. But you’ll have it, that I swear to you. A Lannister always pays his debts.”
Jaime offers to go with him, but Tyrion declines. He asks if Jaime can fight left-handed, and Jaime answers, not as well as Tyrion. Tyrion replies that they will be well-matched if they meet again, then. Jaime demands truth for truth, and asks if Tyrion killed Joffrey. Tyrion points out that Joffrey would have been a worse king even than Aerys, who tried to kill Brandon Stark and would have killed Tyrion too. Jaime says Tyrion didn’t answer the question, and Tyrion snaps back that yes, he killed Jaime’s “vile son.” Jaime walks away without a word. Tyrion almost calls him back to say he lied, but thinks of Tysha and doesn’t.
Tyrion finds Varys, who tells him he dared not speak for Tyrion at his trial, but that Jaime is “most persuasive.” Tyrion threatens to kill him, and Varys sighs that the spider is never loved, and points out that Tyrion will never find his way out without him. Tyrion asks where Sansa is, and Varys replies that his little birds are silent on the matter. He takes Tyrion down into the fourth level of the dungeons, and insists they go in darkness. Tyrion is wary, but accepts this.
Eventually they emerge to a chamber that Tyrion recognizes as being below the Tower of the Hand, and decides, despite Varys’s protests, to climb up to Tywin’s bedchamber through the secret passage there before heading to the ship. The ladder climb is agony, but he makes it up, and finds that the passage exits at the hearth. He goes in, and finds Shae there, naked except for the Hand’s chain of office. She protests to him that the queen made her say the things she did. Tyrion asks her if she ever liked being with him, and she says “more than anything.” Tyrion thinks it was the worst thing she could have said, and strangles her with the chain.
Then he takes a crossbow and loads it, and goes to find his father in the privy chamber. Tywin greets him coolly, and asks who released him, surmising it is Varys. He demands that Tyrion put down the crossbow, opining that Tyrion would never have the courage to shoot him, and claims that he still intends to send Tyrion to the Wall rather than the headsman. Tyrion ignores this, and asks instead what Tywin did with Tysha. Tywin claims he doesn’t remember at first, but then says he supposes the steward sent her away after she’d “learned her place”. Tyrion asks where. Tywin replies, “wherever whores go,” and Tyrion shoots him in the groin. Tywin is astounded, and Tyrion asks him to do him a favor and die quickly.
For once, his father did what Tyrion asked him. The proof was the sudden stench, as his bowels loosened in the moment of death. Well, he was in the right place for it, Tyrion thought. But the stink that filled the privy gave ample evidence that the oft-repeated jape about his father was just another lie.
Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold.
No, like WOW.
Soooo, that just happened. Holy shit.
…HAHAHA literally, right? “Holy shit.” I See What I Accidentally Did There.
(‘Cause he was shitting, see, and Tyrion put a hole in him, and… yes, okay, I’ll shut up now. Yes, I know. Yes, I’m sorry.)
And my other immediate thought on this, aside from flabbergasted glee, is: Why, I do declare, Mr. Martin! Was that, perchance, actual poetic justice, killing an asshole in his asshole while he’s using his asshole? Is that symmetry? Is that allowed? Are we not deconstructing this trope today?
Apparently we are not. To which I say: FUCKIN’ A.
FINALLY, SOMEONE DIES WHO DESERVED IT.
Well, in addition to Joffrey, of course. And Viserys. And Whatshisguts, the Mummer guy. Hoat. And Balon. And Gregor Clegane, assuming he did actually die and not make a miraculous recovery, which I wouldn’t put past him, the jerk. And others I’m sure I’m forgetting.
…so fine, a lot of the people who have died have deserved it. But Tywin especially deserved it, okay?
Even more so than Joffrey in some ways, as long as you go with my theory that Joffrey was so fundamentally broken inside that he almost can’t be blamed for his cruelty (“almost” being the operative word here, mind you), as opposed to Tywin, whose pathology is infinitely colder, more deliberate, and more self-aware than Joffrey’s ever was. Joffrey was cruel because that was literally his only response to anything that happened to him; Tywin was cruel because it got him the results he wanted (if, perhaps, not the ultimate result here.) I leave it as an exercise to the reader to decide which version of monstrosity is scarier.
So, yeah, kind of gleeful shock over that death, because I honestly was not expecting Tywin to bite it so soon; I figured he was going to be around for a while. And of course there are all the requisite ambiguous feelings that seem to surround just about any death in this series: I am glad that Tywin is dead, but I hesitate to say I am “glad” that Tyrion killed him. Because on the one hand, if anyone had cause to whack that douchebag Tyrion did, but on the other, patricide is not a burden I would wish on anyone’s conscience, no matter how justified.
Not to mention, this significantly changes the political situation in King’s Landing, and not necessarily for the better. I have to assume that with Tywin (and Tyrion) out of the way, Cersei is going to be pretty much running the show. And while in principle I am in favor of Chicks In Charge (ChIC, whoo!), this particular chick is… problematic, to say the least. Whatever happens in court after this, though, is sure to be… dramatic and interesting. Of that, I have no doubt.
I don’t even want to talk about Shae, but of course I have to. But I don’t wanna, because it just makes me sad. Again, so much ambivalence, so little time. Because it’s just so sucky: I understand why Tyrion killed her, because she did betray him, but at the same time I understand why Shae felt she had no choice but to betray him, and it’s really hard to say to someone, “well, you should have stood on principle and died for it” when that person has made no prior oath or commitment to doing so, or even had any belief that standing on principle would yield any tangible results—especially someone who was in such a fundamentally untenable position as Shae had been from the beginning.
Ugh, the whole thing was just inevitable and terrible and sad. And which also makes me glad all over again that Tywin is dead, because oh my GOD what a fucking hypocrite he was, castigating and torturing Tyrion over his “whores” and then taking one of them into his own damn bed. I hope you burn in the Westeros equivalent of hell, you fuckknob.
Speaking of alleged “whores,” the revelation about Tysha here was… well, it was just fucking heartbreaking, is what it was. Though not all that surprising. I mean, I didn’t guess it beforehand or anything, but the revelation that she was not in fact a prostitute was not surprising at all, because as I may have mentioned, Tywin Lannister is (or was, hehehehe) a giant dickface.
But, she might still be alive?? Holy crap. I had totally assumed she was dead. As, apparently, had Tyrion. So I guess we know what Tyrion’s next quest is going to be. I might be wrong, but I don’t think he’s getting on that ship to the Free Cities.
And then there’s this:
“I am the monster they all say I am. Yes, I killed your vile son.” [Tyrion] made himself grin. It must have been a hideous sight to see, there in the torchlit gloom.
AAAAGGHHH *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
Aw, for fuck’s sake. Look, I totally get it; if I had just heard that news about my first love I would have been white-hot with irrational rage too. And I think there is also still something in there about Tyrion wanting to protect Sansa. But oh my GOD what a terrible decision to lie to Jaime about Joffrey in retaliation, Tyrion! That is so going to come back to bite you in the ass later! And that’s not prediction, that is common fucking sense! AGH
There’s something in here about not burning your bridges, which is kind of hilarious considering that Tyrion then went on to murder his own father, but the thing is, I’m pretty sure killing Tywin would not have been a dealbreaker for Jaime, but killing Joffrey? Not so much. Even if mourning Joffrey makes Jaime sort of irrational in turn. And I’m just saying, Tyrion really really doesn’t have so many allies that he can afford to throw any of them away, which is totally what he just did with Jaime.
But then again, Tysha. Because, urrrgh. Practically speaking, alienating Jaime was a terribly stupid thing to do, but viscerally, Tyrion’s impulse to say fuck you, Jaime was… kind of legit.
Just one more clusterfuck in the works, I have no doubt. Blurgh.
The worst part of all of this, of course, is that the truly most wounded party in all of it was Tysha herself. By rights she should have been the one to shoot Tywin in the dick, but, well. Can’t have everything, I suppose.
I arrived here a King’s Hand, riding through the gates at the head of my own sworn men, Tyrion reflected, and I leave like a rat scuttling through the dark, holding hands with a spider.
But hey, dude, you’re still leaving. And not in a pine box, either. Count your blessings.
And that’s what that is, folks! Have a week, and see you next Thursday!