Wednesday, November 24, 2010
New readers: Here there be spoilers. Be warned ye who enter. The future of characters you've yet to behold shall be whispered in the posts and the comments, and all surprise at their fates shall be ruined. If you've yet to read A Song of Ice and Fire, get ye hence to a bookstore, library, or a friendly bookshelf and begin with A Game of Thrones. Or else risk all and enter.
The previous post: Part 31. For newcomers: the Introduction and Part 1.
A short deviation to let you know that casting for A Game of Thrones goes on even while they're filming, and Walder Frey--that weasel--has been cast. He'll be played by none other than Argus Filch, or, as the Muggles know him, David Bradley. It's looking like a well-rounded cast.
We'll chat about that in a couple of posts. For now, let's get to a couple of endings.
Chapter 69: Tyrion
News of the Lannister defeat at the hands of Robb Stark, and the capture of Jaime have reached Tywin's camp. A messenger recounts the details of the battle to Tywin and his lords. The news unsettles some, who see it as a catastrophe. Tywin remains silent, though, so the other lords talk. Some suggest suing for peace, or an exchange of captives, but Tyrion dashes the notion of either; the best bargaining chip the Lannisters possessed was thrown away when Joff had Ned Stark executed. Furthermore, Robb doesn't need to bargain because he's winning.
Tywin finally speaks, telling everyone to leave... except Tyrion and Kevan. Tyrion is confused, but Tywin admits that the Imp is seeing the truth of matters better than any of the others. He is angry that Joff was allowed to execute Ned, calling the action "rank madness."
He also has news of a new king: Renly had himself crowned and married Margaery Tyrell. Cersei has commanded her father's army to march to battle against Renly. Tywin then outlines everything that is going wrong for the Lannisters. Finally, he tells Tyrion to get ready to leave; he is sending him to King's Landing to rule as the Hand of the king. Tyrion laughs, saying that Cersei might have a word or two to say about that, but that only makes Tywin unleash a diatribe about the incompetence of the current king and his advisers.
Tyrion asks why he is being sent. Tywin says it's because he's his son, but Tyrion takes that to mean that Tywin has no hope of regaining Jaime. Tywin also tells Tyrion not to bring Shae to King's Landing. He leaves, and Tyrion returns to his tent, where he tells Shae that he wants to bring her to court.
The new Hand will be Tyrion, sayeth Herr Tywin. Just in time for the Imp's portion of AGoT to finish. I'll admit to being just as shocked as Tyrion on my initial read, and I was quickly looking for any suspicious reasons for Tywin's decision. Remember that he put Tyrion to use in the battlefield, but on the weakest side. But as far as I could tell, there was no downside to this seeming promotion, unless you consider being Joffrey's Hand a downside.
I still don't know what to make of this promotion. From Tyrion's perspective, I like it. He's far from perfect, but he's a far better fit for politicking than Ned Stark. As such, he should make a better Hand. But from Tywin's perspective, I'm just not sure. Has he really given up on Jaime? So soon? Jaime might be stuck for a very long time, but giving up on him is more of a pragmatic move than a Lannister move, if you know what I mean. These guys pay their debts, after all. My only conclusion is that Tyrion has miscalculated his father's reaction, and Tywin is sending Tyrion into King's Landing with the hope that he'll engineer something to free Jaime, possibly counting on the Imp's love for his brother.
-Tywin doesn't want Shae in King's Landing. And what Tywin wants, Tyrion wants to oppose. This will end well.
-Margaery Tyrell takes a husband. This will end well.
-The Lannisters are starting to take Robb Stark seriously. Yay, Robb!
-Gregor speaks. Has the Mountain spoken in this book, outside of battle commands? I don't think so. Anyway, his words are cold-hearted enough to challenge Roose Bolton on that score. Still can't decide if Tywin appreciates him, or sees him as a liability, or both.
-Kevan Lannister makes another brief appearance, continuing to look like an okay guy.
-His father-in-law, Harys Swift, is a chinless craven and a shameless lickspittle, according to Tyrion. Can someone make a list of the insults mentioned in these books? I really think we don't use enough of them in our daily conversations.
-Speaking of insults: Ladies, Ser Addam Marbrand thinks Robb would be a fool to ransom Jaime for the lives of Sansa and Arya. No word on whether that's because Jaime's a hell of a knight or because the girls are... well, girls.
Let's shift to a place where girls definitely aren't allowed: the Brotherhood of the Night's Watch.
Chapter 70: Jon
Jon rides south, away from Castle Back, leaving his brothers-in-arms behind, including Sam Tarly. He rides deep into the night, contemplating his actions until he is past Mole's Town. He is breaking his oaths, and will be a wanted man in the morning. It's possible the people of Winterfell will turn him away, perhaps even Robb, the very brother he is leaving to help. He feels conflicted over his choice, but he feels there is no other choice to make after what was done to his father.
Suddenly, Jon hears other sounds on the road. He hides in nearby trees and waits until the riders arrive. They are from Castle Black, and they are his friends (minus Sam). Ghost runs out to meet them, giving away Jon's location. Jon threatens to fight the others, but they keep trying to convince him to return. He tells them he has to go because of his family, but they reply that they are his family now. They say their oaths as one, and finally Jon relents, agreeing to return to Castle Black.
The group arrives just before dawn, and Jon goes to see to his regular duties as Mormont's steward. Mormont makes a remark about Jon's sleepless night. Surprised and ashamed that the Old Bear knows about him running off, Jon accepts what he presumes is his fate: death for running away. Mormont tells him not to be ridiculous; Jon is still there, so the rules can slide.
However, Mormont wants Jon to be someone he can count on, someone who wont try to run away again. He wants Jon to swear that he will stay. This time, Jon seems more serious when he makes his vow. Mormont accepts Jon's words, and tells him to get ready; it's time for the Night's Watch to ride beyond the Wall.
Well, that about does it for Jon: he is stuck on the Wall until doomsday. Literally. Kind of a bummer at first, considering his oath restricts his movement in Westeros, and subsequently his effect on the rest of the story.
But there are ways around that. The first is if the Night's Watch ends. The wording of the oath says nothing about the Wall falling, so if the Others (or Mance Rayder's crew) bring down the Wall, the bond should remain intact as long as the Night's Watch exists.
Could the Night's Watch be obliterated? Could they be disbanded? If Jon's friends showed anything in this chapter, it's that the Watch takes its brotherhood very seriously. I think it would take more than a royal order to break up the Watch. That leaves the Others/Mance as the best options to destroy the Watch and free Jon from his oath.
The other way, of course, is if Jon breaks his oath. There is too much going on in the world for Jon to be stuck at Castle Black for long. So either the Wall comes crashing down, or he goes ranging somewhere, or he breaks his vows. Which will it be? Will it be more than one of the choices? You're damn right it will be, and so there is THE Jon-related plot to look forward to in the next book.
Oh, and Mormont is taking the Watch for a trip to the other side of the Wall. Imagine that Castle Black is Checkpoint Charlie during the Berlin Wall days, and crossing over is several times more dangerous than going into Eastern Germany. What will they find on the other side? Benjen Stark? Mance Rayder? The ghost of Ser Waymar Royce? We'll find out in A Clash of Kings.
And then there were two chapters to go. Two spine-tingling chapters. Come back soon for Part 33.