A Clash of Kings: Prologue to the end of Tyrion II (p.135)
We get to meet Stannis and his family. Wow, what a joyful bunch they are!
Stannis himself is a joyless, self-righteous idiot who broods on any and all past wrongs and has a bigger case of entitlement than Joffrey, which is really saying something. I am not saying that Robert was the best brother ever, but I am not sure that he could have never made Stannis happy, no matter what he did. This makes Stannis’ involvement in the hunt for the Bastards all the more interesting, as I cannot work out why he wanted to uncover them. He and his wife, Selyse, seem to be well matched, as they are both narrow minded and cold. I feel truly sorry for their daughter, Shireen, who not only has to live in this miserable atmosphere, but who is also permanently disfigured by a childhood illness: she seems really sweet, so I foresee horrible things happening to her. The story of Patchface is tragic indeed, though he seems to be some sort of savant with his nonsense songs. Ser Davos has an interesting back-story: although I am not sure why he brought food through the blockade to be rewarded by having his fingers amputated. This in itself shows quite neatly why Renly will gather more support than Stannis.
That brings us to Melisandre. It seems unusual that her religion is trying to recruit converts, as we have already seen that there is no animosity between the followers of the Old Gods and the Seven in Westeros. Maybe it is just me, but the ‘Lord of Light’ name makes me think of Christianity with its monotheism replacing the polytheism of the older religions. I was disgusted, but not surprised by Stannis’ dismissal of poor old Maester Cressen: Stannis seems the type to shoot a faithful old horse once it is of no further use. It was very sad to see Cressen sacrifice himself for the boy he loved as a son, but amazingly creepy that Melisandre had no fear of the poison.
1. Arya I
Arya is sometimes too feisty for her own good, but that is one of the things I like about her. Yoren confirms that the plan was to let Ned take the Black, which confirms what we feared about Joffrey ignoring the Small Council’s advice. Arya tries to blend in with the rabble that Yoren is leading north, but she is the smallest by quite a bit, so she is an obvious target for some of the other boys. Instead of holding her tongue she loses her temper and beats the snot out of Hot Pie. This is not a smart way to be inconspicuous, but it is what we expect from our warrior princess. Yoren makes sure that she understands how dangerous her situation is, but I am not sure how long that will last. I really liked her wish to be with Jon on the Wall: the connection between the two is so very strong and simply emphasizes the fact that they are the ones who actually look like Starks, whereas the other children take after Catelyn’s Tully family.
2. Sansa I
So, I am not sure who would win in a competition of worse castle to live in: Sansa or Shireen. Shireen at least is safe from harm, just living in a morbidly depressing atmosphere, whereas Sansa has to play nice to avoid upsetting the psychopath that is Joffrey. Where is Drogo with a nice ‘gold crown’ when you need him? Joffrey is so delusional that I really do hope that he gets his wish of challenging Robb to single combat: even without Grey Wind, Robb would beat the jumped up little shit into the dirt. Heck, even Rickon would manage it with very little sweat. It was nice to see that Tommen and Myrcella are actually not devil-spawn like their brother, so there is hope for the Lannisters after all. I loved their reaction to Tyrion. It is so great to see how children can accept people who are different, and it was nice to see his genuine affection for them. He was also kind and thoughtful in his dealings with Sansa, even though their families are at war, which only highlights Cersei and Joffrey’s pettiness and petulance. I have to wonder where their evil genes come from . . .
3. Tyrion I
The Mighty Tyrion gets to be the Hand, much to Cersei’s disgust, which makes me cheer for him even more than usual. Her stomping petulance about Lord Tywin’s refusal to do her bidding made me laugh, but mostly I loved how Tyrion told her a few home truths in the bluntest way possible. I am still amazed that Tywin does not know about the twins’ incest, but maybe he has always been too busy to notice. Tyrion will be a very good Hand and he will do a far better job of running the city than Cersei, mainly because he actually seems to care about the common people or, at the very least, he realizes that they have to be appeased so that they will not rise in rebellion. Varys has found Shea: he really is spooky in his ability to know everything that happens. I loved the shadow boxing that he and Tyrion engage in about this significant point of leverage in Varys’ favor.
4. Bran I
Bran howling with the wolves was a very eerie scene, but I really like how he does not listen to everyone else’s ideas about them: he understands that they are different from the dogs and wonders just how different. The red comet is becoming a repeated motif as everyone speculates on what it might portend. Of course, we know that Old Nan is right: it means the reappearance of dragons. I like how everyone turns the comet into a sign for the coming of whatever they most want, apart from Maester Luwin who sees it as simply an astronomical phenomenon. We get to meet the two Walders, who will play an important role at some point, assuming that Shaggydog does not manage to eat them first. I am uneasy about the wolves being locked in the Godswood, especially Shaggydog, who seems to be angry all the time. It suggests that Rickon is being ignored and not being cared for properly. Bran continues to have his wolf dreams. I cannot help thinking that Osha has an idea what this means, but she is staying quiet at the moment. Bran seems to be displaying a lot more wisdom these days, which I guess comes from him spending more time thinking, and he is much more open minded and connected to nature than those around him.
5. Arya II
Do we think that Nymeria might be the mystery she-wolf plundering the area? Oh yes! I hope that she and Arya are reunited very soon as they would be a formidable pair and Arya could ride her like a horse. Plus, she is befriending Gendry, which is a neat echo of their fathers’ relationship. I am glad that he managed to escape King’s Landing, although I wonder who sent him to Yoren: Varys, I imagine. I am not all that happy about her associating with the raving lunatics in the cart though: seriously, who sharpens their teeth into points? Jaqen sounds reasonable enough, but he keeps seriously bad company and must be a real badass if they have not murdered him yet. The brush with the gold cloaks was very unwelcome, although it was strange that they were searching for Gendry and not Arya. I suppose that, as a girl, she is not supposed to be capable of surviving this long or getting out of the city.
6. Jon I
How much do I love Sam and his geekiness? Quite a lot, actually. He has exactly the same reaction that I would to the documents stored under Castle Black: no wonder he lost track of time. The armorer, Donal Noye, has an interesting assessment of the Baratheon brothers: Robert was true steel, Stannis is brittle iron and Renly is flashy copper. We will see if he is right in time. I loved the story of how Maester Aemon refused the crown: he is such an intriguing character, with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. I like how the Old Bear uses Aemon’s story to feel out Jon’s intentions now that Robb is the King in the North: the Night’s Watch were very lucky when Mormont decided to take the black.
7. Catelyn I
Robb acting as King is a sight to behold, as he wields his power like a seasoned professional. Obviously, Cersei will not agree to the terms that he sends, but an effort must be made. Catelyn realizes that he is no longer under her control, but his own man with his own ideas. However, in a nice contrast to Cersei, she takes this well and tries to guide him rather than force his hand. I suppose that it helps that he is not a psychopath like Joffrey; so that his decisions are not too far from those that she would make herself. Unfortunately, they do not seem to be a good position at the moment, with a new army amassing at Casterly Rock and the river lords split up protecting there own holdings. It looks like they need a plan.
8. Tyrion II
I so enjoyed Tyrion’s disposal of Janos Slynt. It was subtly done, but fairly obvious: no Hand could ever trust the man after he had betrayed Ned. This is especially true when he is so quick to do stupid things just because the idiot Joffrey decides to entertain himself. I loved Slynt trying to be rude to Tyrion because he is not a Lord: no, Slynt, he is the son of probably the most powerful Lord in Westeros and the King’s uncle! What an idiot! I am not happy that Slynt is off to the Wall with his cronies though, even if one of them has an ‘accident’ on the way: I was hoping that Tyrion would make good on his pledge to support the Night’s Watch. I liked the debate that he has with Varys about Power. I normally find politics somewhat dull, but this was fascinating, especially as there were so many things hinted at and insinuated. Also, Varys gets a plus point for saving Gendry: all I need to work out now is why he did it.