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 9 of A Dance With Dragons, in which we cover Chapter 14 (“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 14: Tyrion
Griff has cut Tyrion off from his wine, and Tyrion has suffered days of the shakes as a result. He rises before dawn and speaks to Griff, who is annoyed that the owners of the Shy Maid, Yandry and Ysilla, refuse to travel by night as well as by day. Tyrion thinks that Griff reminds him of Bronn, but without the sense of humor. Griff goes to bed, and Septa Lemore comes out for her bath in the river. Tyrion lusts after her openly, which does not seem to faze her, only amuse her. Young Griff and Duck practice swords after breakfast, which ends with Young Griff knocking Duck into the river.
Tyrion jests at Duck for this, and Duck throws him in the river in retaliation. Tyrion tells him he is not the first to try drowning him, and turns a cartwheel to amuse them. He tells all manner of lies about his upbringing. He remembers that it was his uncle who taught him tumbling, and how Tyrion had loved it until his father returned and put an end to it. He dresses in the makeshift motley Lemore had helped him make, and takes pleasure in the thought of how horrified his father would be if he could see him in it.
He writes for a while on dragonlore, wishing for various historical accounts that have been lost or destroyed or hidden away, and later joins Young Griff for lessons with Haldon Halfmaester, learning the language and history of the Free Cities and Volantis in particular. After Young Griff leaves, Tyrion and Haldon play cyvasse, at which Tyrion has been losing badly. He tells Haldon this is obviously Haldon’s fault for teaching him badly, and Haldon laughs and comments he will be sad when the pirates cut “Yollo’s” throat. Tyrion comments he has yet to see a glimpse of these legendary pirates.
He offers a wager on the game, with “secrets” as the stakes. Haldon declares that the day Yollo beats him will be “the day turtles crawl out my arse.” After, he goes on deck; Duck asks where Haldon is, and Tyrion tells him he is in discomfort, as “there are turtles crawling out of his arse.” He thinks of Tysha and wonders where whores go, and whether she might have ended up in Volantis. He wishes he could find her and apologize for what happened and go back and live with her in their cottage.
They pass the ruins of a city Tyrion realizes was Nymeria’s, and Lemore tells him about the vastness of the river once all its tributaries have joined it. A giant turtle surfaces from the river before the boat and bellows a deafening roar. Ysilla weeps and says they are blessed.
“It was him,” cried Yandry. “The Old Man of the River.”
And why not? Tyrion grinned. Gods and wonders always appear, to attend the birth of kings.
Oh, good, MORE MYSTERY. Just what this story needed.
Sooo, apparently whatever secret Tyrion conned out of Haldon led to… a king being born? Metaphorically, I assume, since I’m pretty sure it would have been mentioned if there had been a woman in labor on board the ship. And… yeah, I don’t know what that means.
Unless he’s just talking about how they’re getting Young Griff all edumacated and king-ready, the better to implement the plan that may only exist in my head about having Junior woo and marry Dany? Which, okay I guess, but I dunno, that seems a little weird, especially considering how pleased Tyrion seems to be about his thought. Because, yeah, he’s part of the Griff crew (ugh), but I wouldn’t have thought he was that invested in seeing Junior marry himself into a crown.
So it probably means something else, but what that is, I have no idea. Brain no worky today.
But in the meantime, this was a nice slice-of-life-y chapter, where nothing particularly terrible happened to anyone and the snappy banter was plentiful and Tyrion’s self-loathing was actually at something of a low ebb, at least comparatively. I may not like Griff’s name, or his personality (or rather the lack of it, so far), but I think he did a very good thing in forcing Tyrion to dry out. Though I am fairly certain Tyrion himself emphatically disagrees.
“You have a gift for making men smile,” Septa Lemore told Tyrion as he was drying off his toes. “You should thank the Father Above. He gives gifts to all his children.”
“He does,” he agreed pleasantly. And when I die, please let them bury with me a crossbow, so I can thank the Father Above for his gifts the same way I thanked the father below.
Well, I said Tyrion’s angst was at a comparatively low ebb. I think an actual angst-free Tyrion is a mathematical impossibility. But I have to say, he’s one of the rather few characters I’ve come across who have managed to make crushingly depressing emotional and physical trauma genuinely amusing to read about. It’s sometimes a little alarming how much shit I will put up with as a reader if it comes with witty banter. Which I guess in a weird way may have been Lemore’s point?
But where did this Lemore person come from, anyway? Why is she there? I mean, apparently she’s there to teach Mini-Griff about The Lawd, but that seems sort of a skimpy job description. I’m betting there’s more to her than it seems, but then, that observation applies to nearly everyone on the ship, Tyrion included.
I know that Tyrion is sort of happy about the fool’s role he’s apparently going to play, but it made me sad when I understood that it was motley they were putting on him. Tyrion deserves more than to be a clown. But then, it seems to mean Tyrion will get to return to something he loved as a child, so that’s good, I guess? (Although, I’m betting tumbling as a six-year-old was a hell of a lot easier than it will be for him now. Aging and gymnastics are mutually opposing activities.)
I can’t remember if we’ve been introduced to cyvasse before (we probably have), but from the description it sounds kind of hilariously D&D-like. A small kind of shoutout to his fans, perhaps, a large percentage of whom are quite likely to be into tabletop games?
“And what lesson can we draw from Volantene history?”
“If you want to conquer the world, you best have dragons.”
Tyrion could not help but laugh.
I LOL’d too, honestly. Though Dany is currently demonstrating that having dragons is hardly a guarantee of global domination, or even regional domination. But yeah, as a general rule I think they’d be very handy for that particular endeavor. Especially in a world that probably hasn’t invented surface-to-air missiles just yet.
Also, turtles! Turtles are awesome. Even the mean bitey ones. The only thing more awesome than turtles is giant turtles.
I had no trouble whatsoever accepting that a giant turtle could have great symbolic import either, because that is apparently A Thing. Which I already knew because of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels and also because of the Avatar: The Last Airbender TV series (both of which are awesome things you should immediately consume if you haven’t already), but apparently neither of them were just pulling the cosmic significance of turtles out of nowhere. Which is pretty cool.
Also also, the word “turtle” has now ceased to have any meaning whatsoever in my brain. Turtle turtle turtle turtleturtle
Aaaaand this is where I stop. See y’all next week!