Thursday, August 12, 2010

#ASOIAF Re-Read: A Game of Thrones, Part 26

Hello friends. As you read this I may or may not be flying again. I'm either really cold or really hot, depending on whether I'm in the air-conditioned plane or on the broiling land surrounding the airport. Seriously... 40+ degree weather? (That's 104 F, I think.) Could global warming be real?

Anyway, you're probably here to catch up on some ASOIAF tidbits. The re-read will follow, as usual, but in case there's anyone who doesn't know, you can find out more info about all the books at sites like Tower of the Hand, and I trust by now you've all see the trailer for next year's A Game of Thrones series? Stay up to date on all the last from casting to filming to swashbuckling lessons at Winter is Coming. And then there's the big one, GRRM's Not A Blog blog.

Right. Let's get cracking. Tonight's one measly chapter (hey, I'm flying around in a laptop- and PDA-free world) features a young northern girl who is a tough, controversial survivor. Sansa.

If you're new to the blog, this all began with an intro post. Our last recap was Part 26. To track this blog, you may click the RSS button, or the Follow button. Perhaps Twitter is your thing? Then use the #ASOIAF tag. Warning: Posts and comments can have spoilers for the rest of the series.

Chapter 57: Sansa

What Happens

It is the first court session of Joffrey's reign, and Sansa sneaks into the gathering ahead of the king's arrival. A herald announces Joffrey's and Cersei's entry, and the session begins with Pycelle reading off a long list of names; the names of those perceived as enemies, who should bow and swear fealty to Joffrey or pay the consequences. The list includes the Arryns, Tullys, Tyrells, Martells, Beric Dondarrion and his followers, and all the Starks except Sansa and Eddard. Sansa is relieved to hear Arya's name, thinking her sister must have escaped on the galley to Winterfell.

Pycelle also announces that Tywin will be the new Hand, Cersei will be added to the small council in place of Stannis, and Janos Slynt will be the new lord of Harrenhal. Then Ser Barristan is called forward, and Cersei tells him that he is relieved of his position on the kingsguard. Ser Barristan protests, while king and council mock and accuse him of being past his prime. Finally he takes off his cloak, and throws down his sword, calling out the other members of the kingsguard while suggesting that Stannis will topple Joffrey.

A few moments after Ser Barristan's exit, the king orders his arrest, and members of the City Watch leave to track down the knight. In his place, the king raises Sandor Clegane. The Hound takes a while to agree to the promotion, yet he agrees all the same, even though there is some consternation among others because he is not a knight.

Then it is time for Sansa to supplicate herself, and she begs for mercy for her father. Cersei and Pycelle remind her that Ned is a traitor, but Joffrey wants to hear her out. She claims that her father was either sick from his wound or he was misinformed. Varys suggests that she might have a point. Even Cersei allows that Ned's situation could improve if he confessed his crimes.

The chapter ends as Joffrey tells Sansa that her words have moved him, but her father must confess in order to receive mercy. Sansa is overjoyed, and she knows her father will confess.

Will he, now? Ned makes such a point of being true to his beliefs that I initially thought Sansa was delusional and Ned wouldn't confess in a million years. But that was before getting to the upcoming prison-cell scene, so... maybe Sansa's right.

Because I feel the need to stick up for this often-loathed character, I'd like to chalk up one point for Sansa because she was worried about her sister, and another point for begging for someone else's life. And I can't fault her for feeling good about Joffrey right now. He seems impulsive and petty, but he listens to Sansa and grants her request. He must still enjoy keeping her on his good side. I wish that would last.

Barristan the Bold: Wow. How's that for an angry speech after getting fired? My favourite parts were near the end when he speaks with contempt for the king and the other members of the kingsguard. Honestly, I'm surprised Joff didn't arrest him on the spot. He was a little slow on that, probably because it was his first day on the job. So, bye-bye Barry. See you in... well, in a long while.

As for his replacement, I read reluctance in the Hound's reaction, followed by a good dose of cynicism. I like the Hound, but this is the real moment the kingsguard starts getting diluted (unless you consider it diluted already, with the likes of Meryn Trant, Balon Swann, and Boros Blount among the ranks).

A possibly minor note that jumped out at me: why was Doran Martell and his family on the list of people who needed to swear fealty? We have yet to meet a Martell, but have they done anything to warrant that kind of attention yet? I'll have to go back and look it up eventually.


Short post, I know. Sorry :S I'm going away again for more wedding-related happenings, and I'll post Part 27 when I get back in a few days. Happy ASOIAF-reading until then!

An avid traveller, Francesco remains frustrated because he has yet to reach the levels of travel efficiency exhibited by George Clooney in Up in the Air. In a summer filled with flights, you'd think that would happen soon.


IceNeedle said...

I don't think the list was only those who had demonstrated enmity to the Lannisters; it included every high lord of every one of the 7 Kingdoms, all of whom were expected to demonstrate their fealty to the new king. The Tyrells were listed as well, though at that point they were also unaffiliated.

Here we see the Lannisters beginning their not-so-subtle coup. With Robert Baratheon's body still warm, they are removing his men and inserting Lannisters and their lickspittles at every opportunity. This was most clearly evident with their removal of Selmy (justified in part because 3 kings died on his watch) and replacing him with Jaime (who had done far worse than simply fail to protect his king).

Quite simply, the only reason Joff waited so long to demand Selmy's seizure is meta: GRRM needed him to escape for later use. Nothing in either Joffrey's or Cersei's later actions suggest that they would ever have even let Selmy finish his "treasonous" speech, much less leave by "the long way" before they reacted. The hesitation is completely out of character.

(And while on the topic -- the Lannisters certainly have a hair-trigger on throwing out accusations of treason. Not unlike certain American politicians in the not-so-distant past. Knowing GRRM, I'm sure this is no coincidence.)

Anonymous said...

Balon Swann is actually a pretty good knight unlike the other two you lump him in with.


joseph said...

The reason Ser Barristan got away with his disdainful declaimation is this; he brought honor to the kingsguard. The last of the original steel, you don't interrupt a fighter of his caliber.

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