Ahoy, ASOIAFers! Thanks for dropping in. This has been a decent week. Work is alright, World Cup matches are fun, and I had my very first earthquake experience. Yes, an earthquake. Everything is fine (it was pretty small), but it was a bit confusing for about a minute as we wondered just what was going on. This isn't a San Andreas Fault kind of area.
But life went back to normal after a few minutes, and as such, we are back with the next instalment of A Game of Thrones. Our last post was Part 16, and if you are a newcomer, you can start with the intro or jump to Part 1, or start wherever you like. Don't let the man tell you what to do. You are the master of your domain. And so forth.
Twitterers, you'll can use the #ASOIAF hashtag, and anyone can click the RSS button right under the blog header featuring Basil Rathbone and Errol Flynn in what is still the best Robin Hood ever made. (Bring it, Russell!)
It's June 24th, and I may well be reduced to tears in a few hours if Italy doesn't advance in the World Cup. In the meantime, here is the first post-earthquake post.
Chapter 38: Tyrion
Tyrion is a prisoner in the Eyrie, the only place in the Seven Kingdoms where prisoners are encouraged to leave their cells. That is because the cells are on a cliff face, with no wall separating the prisoners from the open air. The floors also slope gently down. He spends most of the days alone, freezing and hungry, with only a half-wit turnkey for company.
The turnkey, Mord, teases Tyrion and even throws his food over the cliff. Tyrion thinks back to how he got himself in this mess, partially blaming himself for having a big mouth. When he was first dragged before Lady Lysa, he was accused of murdering Jon Arryn. "I wonder when I found the time to do all this slaying and murdering," he says, also referring to Catelyn's accusation.
He lets Lysa and her court know that if anything happens to him, Jaime and the rest of the Lannisters will be sure to avenge his death, a promise that does not sit well with either Lysa or her sickly son. For his part, Robert just wants to see Tyrion fly. But Catelyn reminds Lysa that Tyrion is her prisoner, so Lysa has him put in the Sky Cells.
And so Tyrion waits for judgement or rescue, but neither arrive. He wonders if Jaime is leading an army east, but he can't be sure. He begins to wonder if Jon Arryn really was murdered, and if either of his siblings could have been the culprit. But the skill of the first murder was at odds with the clumsiness of the second, which could mean that there was yet another faction in this dangerous game, and someone was clearly using him.
Tyrion thinks of a way to get out, and coerces Mord into sending a message to Lysa; that he wishes to confess his sins. Shortly thereafter, he is summoned to the High Hall of the Arryns, where Lysa and her knights await. He begins confessing his sins, although they are not what the crowd expects.
And now to roll the dice, he thought with another quick glance at Bronn. "Where to begin? I am a vile little man, I confess it. My crimes and sins are beyond counting, my lords and ladies. I have lain with whores, not once but hundreds of times. I have wished my own lord father dead, and my sister, our gracious queen, as well." Behind him, someone chuckled. "I have not always treated my servants with kindness. I have gambled. I have even cheated, I blush to admit. I have said many cruel and malicious things about the noble lords and ladies of the court." That drew outright laughter. "Once I--"
Lysa cuts him off there, furious. Tyrion explains that he is confessing his crimes. Catelyn asks about the accusations of killing Jon Arryn and attempting to kill Bran Stark, but Tyrion says he knows nothing of those. Lysa orders him back to the cells.
It is Tyrion's turn to be furious, and his anger catches the others off guard. He accuses Lysa of injustice and refusing to abide by the king's laws. He demands a trial. Lysa soon agrees, but as Lord of the Eyrie, Robert will be the judge. If he finds Tyrion guilty, the dwarf will be sent flying from the Moon Door.
Tyrion politely declines, knowing how that will end, and demands a trial by combat. Everyone laughs at the notion, and several knights offer to be Lysa's champion, but she appoints Ser Vardis. The veteran knight was the only one who did not wish to fight, since there was no honour in beating an injured dwarf.
Tyrion agrees and demands his own champion. He chooses Jaime, offering to wait while Lysa sends word to him. Lysa will do no such thing, but Tyrion baits her into allowing him to have a champion.
"Name your champion, Imp... if you think you can find a man to die for you."
"If it's all the same to you, I'd sooner find one to kill for me." Tyrion looked over the long hall. No one moved. For a long moment he wondered if it had all been a colossal blunder.
Then there was a stirring in the rear of the chamber. "I'll stand for the dwarf," Bronn called out.
YESSSS!!!!!!!! Bronn to the rescue!
Sorry, that won't happen again. (Yes, it will.)
This was another chapter that started in the middle, went back in time a little bit to get caught up, and the finished at the end. Or at the beginning of something good. Because nothing says good stuff like a trial by combat, especially when the dude needing the saving is innocent. And who should step in, but the irascible mercenary, Bronn.
That was Tyrion's plan all along, and it took guts. I think I said before that Lysa is deranged, but she's really not. The knights would not have been on her side in that case, and even if they were, she would have refused Tyrion any kind of trial and thrown him out the Moon Door from the start. That's what a crazy person does. So, she's got anger management problems, and she has no sense of humour, but her thinking brain is more or less intact.
So Tyrion knew which buttons to push, and good on him, considering he had to think of that on an icy cliff face without food. The dungeons in King's Landing really creep me out, especially when You-Know-Who starts building You-Know-What down there, but the sky cells might actually drive me insane if I were there. And a sloping floor? The blue would definitely be calling. (Hey, if you can survive a fall from 35,000 feet...)
This chapter really is all about Tyrion setting everyone up and then knocking them down. It makes for great reading, and it's too bad the chapter end where it does, because I want to know what happens next. Instead, let's go back to another guy who had a cliffhanger ending a while ago.
Chapter 39: Eddard
Ned is dreaming an old dream of the end of Robert's Rebellion. He and six others rode to a tower and faced three knights of the Kingsguard: Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent, and Ser Gerold Hightower. Within the tower, Lyanna cried out for him.
Ned wakes up after six days and seven nights, and asks for updates from Alyn the captain of his guard now that Jory is dead. Alyn tells him that Jaime left the city, likely for Casterly Rock, and everyone is talking about Tyrion's abduction. Extra guards are protecting the Starks now, and Ned's daughters are safe.
Just before the king comes to visit, Ned thinks about his dream, thinking it a bad omen that he dreamed of the Tower of Joy after so many years. King Robert arrives, and Queen Cersei is with him. The three of them have a long argument about which family is at fault in the strife between Starks and Lannisters. The king and queen have heard that Ned was coming back from a brothel, but he tells them he was there visiting Robert's baby, Barra.
Robert thinks that bit of news isn't appropriate for the queen, but Ned says the queen won't like anything he has to say, especially the part about arresting Jaime and bringing him to trial. Robert tells him no, ordering the matter ended. He wants Ned and Jaime to make peace, an idea Ned thinks is preposterous. Cersei taunts Robert because he lets Ned speak to him in such a way. "By all rights, you ought to be in skirts and me in mail." Robert backhands her, but Cersei does not cry out, and Robert has her escorted out by Ser Meryn Trant.
Robert regrets what he did almost instantly, but does not know how to fight someone without hitting them. He curses Rhaegar again, saying that he won. Even though he was dead, he had Lyanna, while Robert was stuck with Cersei.
Ned wants to talk about serious matters, but Robert says they can talk later, after he's returned from a hunt in the kingswood the next day. Ned tries to ask about Daenerys, but Robert won't go into the matter again, and tells Ned he'll make Jaime the Hand if Ned ever quits again.
How do you follow the lead up to Tyrion's trial by combat? By writing the Tower of Joy sequence. Well done, Mr. Martin. Well done.
This scene is a fan favourite (although not my favourite), and I would have quoted a lot from it, but you've presumably read this part. Plus, it's quicker and better for you to enjoy it by watching and listening to this short video. So sad.
Here you have a man who is sickened by everything he sees around him, possibly including his best friend and king. Does Ned speak out of turn? I think so. Oh, he's write to say what he does, but another king might have taken offence to that. It tells me that a part of Robert is concerned about truth and justice after all.
And then he hits his wife. Everyone acts like it's nothing at first. There is very little love lost between the royal couple. Robert realizes his mistake after, but it sounds like the plea of a re-offender, or someone who rationalizes his mistakes by blaming anyone except himself. In the last chapter, when Tyrion thinks of his siblings he notes that Jaime never untied a knot that he could slash in two. He could have been thinking about Robert, the other man in Cersei's life.
Speaking of beating women, Ser Meryn Trant is the knight who takes Cersei away. This is the same knight who beats Sansa later. I guess Joff's behaviour didn't seem quite so outrageous to him since Robert stooped to it to.
Talk about putting Ned between a rock and a hard place. Robert still won't listen when it comes to the issue of "the Targaryen girl", but he threatens to pin the badge on Jaime if Ned quits again. This is Exhibit 127 of How Not to Run Your Kingdom. And there's absolutely nothing Ned can do about it. Not yet, anyway.
Lastly, one thing about re-reads: Don't they just make you want to say something to people like Robert? Something along the lines of: "Don't go hunting in the kingswood tomorrow."
But he does, doesn't he? We'll find out soon enough. Come back for Part 18 on Monday. I might be recovered by then if Italy loses. Or I'll be over the moon if they're still competing. To that end, heres a little prayer I found:
Our coach, who art in South Africa, Lippi be thy name. The day has come. Thy will be done in '10 as it was in '06. Give us this year our 5th World Cup. And forgive the heathens for trespassing as we forgive those whose offsides worked against us. And lead us not to elimination but to glorification. Amen. Forza Azzurri!