Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Challenge of Ice and Fire: Week 4

A Game of Thrones: Tyrion V to the end of Arya IV (p. 541)

My previous posts:   Week 1   Week 2   Week 3

38. Tyrion V

The battle of wits between Tyrion and Mord, the jailer at the Eyrie is a perfect example of how Tyrion can talk his way out of anything. The sky cells themselves are a fiendishly simple way of securing and breaking prisoners and were brilliantly done by the HBO show. Of course, he is only in there because he mouthed off to the increasingly stupid and creepy Lysa. She has all the political acumen of a doorknob, so he neatly maneuvers her into agreeing to a trial by combat. I like the fact that he has a back up plan when she refuses to summon Jaime to fight on his behalf. That Bronn is a bit of an enigma, and I do wonder why he offers to fight for Tyrion. I know that there is gold on offer, but it still seems a little risky. Tyrion’s thoughts about the assault on Bran are very interesting. He points out that, although he is accused if both attacking Bran and killing Jon Arryn, it seems like there are two different hands involved. He sees Jon Arryn’s murder as subtle and clever, but the attack on Bran as clumsy. If we assume that Cersei and / or Jaime left the assassin behind to silence Bran, then they were not the ones to murder Jon Arryn. Interesting: I wonder if this little conundrum will be explained at some point. Oh, and young Robert? Yikes with a side order of double yikes! “I want to see him fly!” This kid is starting to make Joffrey look well adjusted.

39. Eddard X

Ned, in his opium-induced sleep dreams about the battle outside the tower where Lyanna was being kept. This is one of the big points in argument for Lyanna being Jon’s mother: why else would three of the Kingsguard be protecting her, unless she was mother to the King’s heir? Ned the tactless has to try to undo several days of Cersei pouring oil into the King’s ear whilst he was unconscious, but just has to blurt out that he was only at the brothel to see Robert’s bastard daughter. Way to go, Ned: Cersei really wanted to hear that! But as she is also being as stubborn and tactless as a Stark, it cuts both ways. One of these days she will do something subtle and surprise us all. Unfortunately, Robert insists that Ned resume his position as Hand, even though he is still badly injured, and announces that he is off to do some hunting. In other words, he does not want to have to deal with any of the Lannister / Stark animosity, so he is going to hide until they sort it out themselves. He is such a self-pitying coward! Worse, he actually made me feel sorry for Cersei when he hit her, obviously not for the first time, and I hate being made to feel sorry for her. However, I am beginning to hate Jon Arryn much more than just about anybody else. How did he allow Robert to become this sorry excuse for a man?

40. Catelyn VII

Catelyn gets the news that her self-righteous taking of Tyrion is leading the Lannisters into war with the Tullys, while she sits in the Eyrie dancing attendance on her barking mad sister. The fact that Lysa makes the trial by combat into a nice day out in the garden had me shaking my head in wonder. However, there were some nice political hints when we learnt that Jon had intended to send young Robert to Stannis to be fostered, not Lord Tywin as we had heard earlier (but I can’t remember how we found out). Anyway, the fight goes as any person with half a brain would predict and Brann wins. I felt very sorry for Ser Vardis, who was very brave to champion his lady, but who died so pointlessly. I was a little surprised that the courtiers were so vacuous, although I expect that the ones who cannot make pleasant with Lysa have had the good sense to stay at home.

41. Jon V

It was nice to catch up with Jon this week: I missed him last week. To see him stand up for Sam, again, was very satisfying. Jon is a rash young man, but he is growing and learning to take responsibility for his friends; he will become a great leader one day. His words to Maester Aemon were thoughtful and I felt so proud of him for speaking out for his friend. I doubt that Jon’s opinion has carried much weight in the past, because of the whole bastard thing, and it was sad to read his own self-loathing. Jon for King of the World, with Sam as his Hand!
42. Tyrion VI

Again, the Mighty Tyrion shows how well he understands the world and how it works. No creeping and hiding for him: he has a nice, warm fire and then waits for his new army to come to him! I love Tyrion: he can be joint King with Jon. The story of Tyrion’s wife is so sad, and it makes me want to poke Lord Tywin in the eye for being so evil and unfeeling to his son. I suppose that Jaime was trying to be nice by setting up the whole thing, but he obviously has no gift for seeing the consequences of his actions. Of course Tyrion would fall madly in love with this girl: how could he not? The more we learn of Tyrion the more I think that Lord Tywin made a dreadfully wasteful mistake in alienating his third child. He has twice as much wit as Jaime and Cersei rolled together with the personality and wisdom to be a great Lord himself. However, I doubt if Lord Tywin will see that future: after all, a Lannister always pays his debts, and Tyrion will never forgive his father for what happened with his wife. The hill tribes are hilarious in themselves, and I love the names that Mr Martin as given them.

43. Eddard XI

So, the Mountain That Rides has been out an about visiting some of his neighbors, whom he likes to rape, murder or set on fire. I am interested to find out how Lord Tywin keeps him under control, as he does seem to have a bout as much self-control as a lobotomized Rottweiler. I am not sure if Ned makes the right decision to send out some men to de-knight him, but I guess that they should have taken ten times as many, plus some flame-throwers. More unfortunate is that Maester Pycelle is still hanging about being creepy and Ilyn Payne, the King’s Executioner, might be unhappy at being kept at home. As an aside, I loved the description of the Iron Throne and how it was made: you have to love a seat that can do your prostate examination for you if you sit on it the wrong way.

44. Sansa III

Ah, Sansa, you silly girly girl, you! Yes, obviously Ser Loras should go because he is the prettiest knight that she has seen! Good grief! I am beginning to get seriously annoyed by her fantasy-driven detachment from the reality of her world. Unless it is a psychological defense mechanism to stop her thinking about her eventual marriage to the total fruit loop that is Joffrey, I will have to reach into the book and slap some sense into her. I have to agree with Arya about most things, and she even apologizes for being rude to Sansa, but, no, Sansa cannot look beyond herself and the pretty court and fluffy sparkly unicorns in children’s stories (or something similar). However, she does make Ned see the blindingly obvious: Joffrey is the product of incest. This makes so much more sense of the dreams and remembrances about Lyanna, IF we assume that she is Jon’s mother, because it was a way for Ned’s subconscious to keep bringing up the subject of bastard children. I was nicely surprised that Arya tried to cheer up Sansa when they find out about the trip back to Winterfell: she seems to be making a real effort to be a good sister. I loved that all she was worried about was taking Syrio with her: she can be King along with Jon and Tyrion!

45. Eddard XII

Maester Pycelle is about as subtle as a bacon sandwich at a synagogue. He couldn’t possibly be working for Cersei could he? I liked how Ned basically said, “Am I bothered?” It is just a shame that it has taken Ned this long to start doing things politically. Of course, he then goes and makes the biggest mistake of his life: he warns Cersei that he knows about the incest. NO! NO! NO! NO! You stupid man! Well, Ned, it was nice knowing you. Her description of the ‘rightness’ of incest was truly disturbing, but also sad: how had Tywin the all-powerful allowed his children to do this? Then she suggests giving herself to Ned if he will hide the truth from Robert: YIKES! Does this not suggest that she has no honor or pride, and that she will do ANYTHING for her children / family? Run away, Ned, grab the girls and run as fast and as far as you can, right now, as soon as you can hobble out of the Godswood!

46. Daenerys V

All together now: “Ding dong, the idiot Beggar King is dead!” Nobody really deserves to have liquid gold poured over his or her head, but Viserys did, he really, really did. The contrast between Daenerys’ acceptance of and integration into Dothraki society and his feeble attempts to be ‘respected’ because of who his father was are amazing. It was so interesting that she psychologically distanced herself from him once she knew what was going to happen and began to call him “the man who had been her brother”. Creepy and sad at the same time, as was her thought that “Fire cannot kill a dragon.” But then, she had just eaten a raw horse heart that was so fresh that it was still warm: she is now a hard woman not a scared child. Knowing what happens later, I am still intrigued by the prophecy that her child will be the ‘stallion who mounts the world’ and wondering if it still holds true at the end of the book.

47. Eddard XIII

I can understand why Ned could not bring himself to add to Robert’s pain by exposing the truth about the children. However, I thought that his angst over the re-wording of the Will was frustrating, because it shows that Ned has no idea how much trouble he has waiting for him when Robert dies. Littlefinger has it right when he warns Ned that his honor makes him so easy to defeat. Ned seriously underestimates his opponents and their desire for power. Varys suggests that the King’s accident might have been stage-managed by getting him roaring drunk, although I would not rush to blame the squire, Lancel Lannister, who was more than likely just following orders. It looks like someone is good at making murders look like accidents . . . Oh, and I wonder what had caught and eaten the White Hart: my vote is Nymeria.

48. Jon VI

More Jon, although we do get more of the petulant, rash child-like Jon until Sam points out what as amazing honor it is for him to be requested as the Lord Commander’s steward. I also liked Sam’s dismissal of the religion that he had been raised in: I expected the Septon to have something to say about it, but I guess that the two religions co-exist quite nicely. Sam is so pragmatic about the way the world is and his role in it: in that way he reminds me of Tyrion a great deal. I love the Weirwoods and I hope we will eventually learn who carved the faces into them; I also like the fact that the Old Gods are not named as individuals, they are always a nameless crowd. I liked Jon’s realization that Ghost looked like the faces in the trees: it reminds us that the wolves are not just some cute pets that happened to appear, they are a gift from the gods. Then ghost goes and finds a human hand: I suppose we should be happy that he brought it to Jon rather than eating it.

49. Eddard XIV

Oh Ned, you are such a nice guy, and I love Sean Bean, but you are the stupidest intelligent man I have read of in a long, long time. You trusted Cersei to behave with honor, like that was ever going to happen. You trusted Littlefinger to arrange for your protection, even though he makes your flesh crawl and wants to sleep with your wife. You stupid, stupid man. It was nice to see Joffrey acting like a true King though: I had massive flashbacks to young Robert at the Eyrie.

50. Arya IV

Arya and Syrio are such a great duo, and I like how his way of speaking is just different enough to suggest that he is really alien to the world of Westeros. I loved his story about the cat and how he became First Sword to the Sealord of Braavos: I just hope that Arya can remember this in the future. I felt so proud of his determination to protect her and sorry that he could not really manage it. However, I do feel like he has given her a much greater chance of survival than Sansa. He has instilled mental strength in her and it will help her to deal with the effects of Ned’s capture. It is terrible that she had to kill the stable boy, although I doubt that he would have let her leave unless she did. Her ability to make a plan and carry it through was amazing, considering how young and scared she is. That scene where she had to walk across the open courtyard, in full view of the gold cloaks, had me sweating.

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