Playin’ With Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Eddard Stark Chapter 16

She’s new, I’m the re-reader. Together we are rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. Back to Eddard Stark!

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A Game of Thrones Chapter by Chapter Read and React

Elena –

I was very glad we had an immediate answer to What Happens Next in the whole Arya-Joffrey debacle (as opposed to jumping back to Winterfell or across the sea to Dany or something).  This chapter gave me a lot of emotional reactions to sort through, not really too many political things.

Marginal comment of the chapter:  Robert is ruled by his crown, not the other way around.

First of all, any vestige of respect or hope for future respect that I had for Robert vanished with his behavior in this chapter.  I had already thought him pathetic for being unable to take on the responsibilities of the kingship, preferring to let his Hand do the actual governing, but now I find him…hm.  What’s the next grade down from pathetic?  Piteous?  There’s more anger in it than that.  Loathsome?  That implies a level of activity on his part that is clearly beyond his ability to do.  My adjectival vocabulary fails, so I’ll proceed down the line to verbiage:  I scorn him.

I despise him.

The word “coward” got written into three different margins in this chapter, once with the word “utter” preceding it, all in relation to Robert.  They start when he bows to Cersei’s will on having Lady killed (“Have Ser Ilyn see to it”) and get progressively larger and more deeply gouged with my pen as he once more concedes to her (“Damn you, Cersei”) and finally proves himself to be beyond redemption by not having the courage of his convictions in killing the wolf himself.  Like, that is to me the worst part about what he does.

If he is going to let politics come first, and if he believes that his wife should be publicly favored over Ned Stark, his Hand, so be it–but in that case he should at least have the balls to mean it when he chooses the queen’s side in the argument.  The fact that he does not, that he knows what she is asking is wrong, that he does not believe in it or want to see it done, but yet does not stop it, shows quite effectively that he is no king.  He is only an empty man with a crown on his head.

The thing is, this is only news to the reader.  Ned already knew this.  He thinks as he goes into the audience chamber that there are too many people in it, that “left alone, he and Robert might have been able to settle the matter amicably.”

As, in fact, they would have, with the you punish your daughter and I’ll punish my son agreement.  Robert is not the same man when he is with Ned as when he is being king; the fact that Robert becomes a different person when he is being King Robert, instead of being the same old Robert except now everyone has to obey him, is why he’s a bad king.  He’s no king at all; he has no conviction in his kingship, and that is why Cersei can behave the way she does.

I found it interesting how Joffrey was differentiated as being Cersei’s son until she’s trying to use him against Robert.  In the first description it’s “Cersei Lannister and her son stood beside him,” not their son, which is how Ned sees the boy.  And when the queen speaks of Joff the first time, it is “This girl of yours attacked my son”–again, not their son, not the prince, but her son.

She calls him “your son” when she’s trying to goad Robert into letting her punish anything she can get her hands on, perpetrator or not, and Ned in his mind only calls him Robert’s son when Robert is directly looking at or interacting with the boy, as if he can’t get away from the reminder then.  So clearly Robert does not have the controlling interest in his own heir, either in the mind of his best friend or his wife.

In fact, it seems to me that Robert has pretty much abandoned control to his wife, reserving only the right to walk away from any discussion that tries his poor nerves.  He repeatedly loses his temper at the bickering children, but even they do not obey him for long.  And then when it becomes obvious to everyone there that the queen is running this particular show, he just gives up the pretense and leaves.

I still want to know what hold that bitch or her daddy has on him.  How can he go from being Robert the Brave, Robert the Bold, Robert the Leader of Men to being Robert the Browbeaten Husband?  I can’t even pretty it up by calling him Robert the Pussywhipped, because it’s clear that he despises his wife–that after 15 years of marriage he, at least, has figured out his wife’s shortcomings (which is something it remains to be seen whether Ned Stark has done).

But perhaps that was how it started, and this is what it has come to.  I guess what I don’t understand, at the heart of all this, is why Robert is so afraid of having an opinion of his own.  Because the way I see it is, he’s the king.  And while he obviously can’t go ignoring the opinion of everyone in his court every time, he should be able to make up his own mind and be confident in his own decisions.

Inevitably he’s going to piss someone off every time, but if he spreads it out then no one will have any real cause for resentment, because no one gets their way every time and that’s just life.  I am guessing that Robert doesn’t want to be seen “dishonoring” his wife by overruling her in public, especially when there are just two conflicting choices and choosing against her automatically appears to be choosing in favor of the other person.

If Cersei wants to play identity politics, let her; that doesn’t mean Robert has to.  I mean, so what if it appears to be favoring someone over the queen, if it’s Robert’s independent decision or opinion regardless of who is offering either argument?

That’s what kills me about Robert, that he’s not willing to follow his own values if they conflict with what Cersei has publicly claimed for herself.  So even though he knows that killing Sansa’s wolf is wrong, he doesn’t do anything to stop his wife from demanding it–which he could have.  He chose not to.  And then he didn’t even have the courage to kill the pup himself, to face the consequences of his own weakness or politicking, however you want to look at it.  But that is the nature of cowardice.

Cersei does not have the excuse of her upbringing for her behavior.  She is not merely arrogant or selfish; she is vicious.  She is targeting the Stark family as a whole for the behavior of one, and intentionally hurting Sansa because she can’t hurt Arya or Ned directly…this time.

Her power play smacks of insecurity, in a way; she has to flex her dominance over Robert to prove that she has it.  I wonder if Cersei would have done anything at all about the wolf if Robert had punished Arya as his wife saw fit, versus essentially dismissing the incident as “children fight; no harm, no foul.”  I suppose in a way it was her only avenue, but that doesn’t mean she should have taken it.  That was mere cruelty on her part, for no good reason except to prove that she has the power to be cruel.

The funniest thing she said, to me, was the bit about “the king I’d thought to wed.” Bitch, please.  If Robert had been that king?  He would not let you walk all over him.  You would have hated that king.

Actually, maybe she wouldn’t have.  Coming from a family like the Lannisters have been made out to be, Cersei seems the type to respect power.  If Robert had more, she would probably respect him more.  So maybe her jab was actually perfectly in line with her estimation of his character; she resents him for being so weak, even as she fills the vacuum of power that his mental abdication leaves.  If I’m interpreting her attitude correctly (and I leave it well open that I might not be), then it reminds me of the climactic scene in The Proposition:  the villainous Arthur, fatally shot by his brother, saying, “Why can’t you ever just stop me, Charlie?”  Indeed.  Why can’t you ever just stop her, Robert?  Anyway, if that is what she’s doing–seizing power because he doesn’t stop her–I can’t entirely blame her for it.  I have done precisely that in classrooms where the teacher could not control the discussions, so in fact that makes perfect sense to me.

Bitch please retracted.  Claws half-sheathed because I understand where she’s coming from, even if I disagree with her choice to be as nasty as she can be just to see how far she has to push Robert to make him stop her.

Her son?  No redeeming qualities.  Reading the last chapter I thought he might be able to learn something from this incident; clearly he has chosen not to.  I loved the absurdity of his lie, that Arya and the butcher’s boy “beat him with clubs [and] set [the] wolf on him.”

It proved that he could not accept responsibility for his own actions (if this hasn’t come up yet, that concept is very important to me, and I am sure I will expound upon it ad nauseum as the book progresses), nor could he stand to lose any of his pride.  At least he’s not yet an accomplished enough liar to look his victim in the eye while he defames her; something for him to strive for, I suppose.  Since he’s not going to learn from the world’s retaliations, and since his mother of course won’t let him suffer any consequences she can shield him from.

Sansa dropped a little in my estimation for her behavior in this chapter, though only a little.  I actually thought that her behavior was right in line with her being Catelyn’s daughter, raised to Catelyn’s standards and Catelyn’s values.  I thought the reason she is described, period, and particularly described the way she is–her elegant clothing and her shining auburn hair–was a reiteration of her being Catelyn’s daughter.  As such, it made sense to me that she was unable to be completely disloyal to the boy she’s to marry, despite the fact that he was lying about what her sister had done.

I was kind of glad to see her have consequences for that familial disloyalty and that piece of dishonesty–much as I hated that Lady paid the price of Lannister pride, Sansa might have avoided that if she had told the king and his court what she had told Ned that first night:  that Joffrey had attacked them and provoked Nymeria.

However.  I still hated the fact that her wolf got killed.  You just…you don’t kill dogs.  Ever.  That makes Cersei ten times more awful than she was before, that she’d kill someone’s dog.  I mean, I’m sure she chose that as a tool of maximum pain for Arya and Ned, but…you just don’t kill someone’s dog.

I guess for right now Arya’s punishment is guilt.  I doubt Ned will be too hard on her; instead she’ll have to suffer knowing that her actions got her sister’s wolf killed and Mycah murdered.  If she’s the type to feel guilt.  I hope she’s not; it isn’t her fault that the king is weak, Joffrey is a spoiled little sociopath, and Cersei is the biggest bitch in the whole wide world (yes, you can queue the song from South Park).  But since I suspect Sansa will blame Arya for it, Arya will probably feel guilty over it.

I actually really, really liked Ned killing Lady himself.  It’s such a pragmatic action.  I mean, I can understand the argument for not doing it himself, for making someone else do it so there’s not that last-minute turn where if you’d only waited five more minutes before shooting your kid, the lifeboat would have appeared as happens in horror movies…but that’s not realistic.  He knew that the wolf was going to be killed.

At that point, it was about taking control of her inevitable death to make sure it was as quick and painless as possible…and that she was sent home to the North to be buried as befit a Stark pet and symbol, not skinned for Cersei’s amusement.  It’s his Stoicism, recognizing what he cannot change (Lady’s imminent death) and taking control of what he can (how she is killed).

Earlier in this read-and-react, I had brought up the idea of each chapter perhaps chronicling a defining moment in a character’s life, which most of you seemed to agree applied most but not really all the time.  I want to talk about that idea, though, in the context of what this altercation means for Ned:  is this the moment where his friendship for Robert suffers a fatal blow?  I would not be surprised if it is; some things are simply unforgivable.  I think that if this had been a case of Ned‘s pet being killed at Cersei’s whim, it would not be as hard for him to forgive Robert for allowing it to happen, but this involved his daughter’s pet.  It is harder to forgive an insult leveled at someone you love, than it is to forgive one offered to yourself.  And Robert’s action-by-inaction here resulted in Sansa’s pain and suffering, hence it is a worse offense to Ned.

I am curious to see how this plays out in the two men’s relationship.  It might make me re-evaluate Ned if he actually does let this go (in his own mind, at least–he doesn’t have to do anything to Robert as long as he knows in his own mind and heart that his friend is no more).

I know I should mention the end, where the Hound brings back Arya’s “little pet” and means by the words Mycah.  It’s an example of the impunity with which a knight can abuse and debase a commoner, and an example of the cruelty of the Hound–and by extension his mistress–that he killed the boy instead of capture him, and that he thought it was great sport, something to laugh about, that he did.  Horrid, horrid.  This is not the smiling peasant fantasy-land; this is “now you see the violence inherent in the system” fantasy-land.

– Readers, if leaving a comment for Elena please direct (@Elena) them at her – and lead your comments with your messages for her.  Please do not direct spoilers at her. Thanks!

–Do not read on if you have not read the series through A Feast for Crows and want to avoid spoilers–

Jay –

FOUR days.

That tells us something about Arya right off bat, as the people looking for her, some of them had to be skilled trackers considering we are talking men of the North and/or people specifically looking for the Hand’s daughter or to curry favor from the royal house itself.

While there is no doubt that we are use to much more comfort, I was a grown man and experienced being outside (and somewhat wild) for several days and I’m not so sure I could have been avoiding adults, especially when in an environment that wasn’t my own. I do find it interesting that both her AND Mycah were able to stay lost for such a long time but this the first time I ever even noticed the duration.

“I am sorry, my lord,” Poole told him. “The guards on the gate were Lannister men, and they informed the queen when Jory brought her in. She’s being taken directly before the king . . . ”

This is just dumb to me.

I’ve said this before but Cersei just trying to antagonize Ned is Starkian in how dumb it is. Remember, later in this book she tries to charm him in one of the great scenes ever? She should have done that, minus the sexual innuendo, from the beginning.

It would have been easier to present herself as the future goodmother of his eldest daughter. Cersei’s ambition doesn’t bother me, it’s her need to be cruel that does. Her father, the great Tywin Lannister, knew how to use cruelty as a tool, but it wasn’t his only one. To him if the end justified a mean, cruelty was just one of many tactics he could and would choose to utilize. Cersei confuses the ability to commit cruel acts as a strength. She’s frustrating to me because she has everything she is supposedly fighting for, she’s just too stupid to see what her father wrapped up in a bow for her.

Look, Tywin is the cause  of a myriad of issues with his kids  BECAUSE he utilizes the same thought process that helps him succeed in his other ventures ( yes, ventures), to his kids. In the end – his daughter is the Queen – it justified him.  She is the biggest disappointment, not to Tywin, but to me— and we will get more into that when we focus on Cersei.

My thought before going into this chapter was that while I know a lot of people dig this chapter because it’s kind of a gallery of character revelations.

As a rereader I supposed that I’d actually find it tedious, an extra chapter having me say aloud “Are we there yet?” in between. With all the drama here, it is Renly who saves the chapter for me, made me reevaluate, and offers the reprieve to let me enjoy the chapter, one that I kind of dig the hell out of now. Like Renly, I needed to be sent out to think.

I’ve mentioned this moment before but rarely, even with Stannis’ play later in the series, do you see even the potential of a  hint of present Baratheon glory. Robert a shell of what he used to be, Stannis merely a shell from the beginning, and Renly still a chick, but he is the only guy in this entire chapter who kept it real. At this point, and Elena alluded to the possibility of just one avenue in our late write-up, we have no reason to not believe that Renly wasn’t Strider in the Prancing Pony. At this moment he’s the most handsome man Sansa had ever seen,  a guy with fashion sense, and isn’t at all scared to mock Joffrey. In her songs he’s a hero in waiting.

“Stop them,” Sansa pleaded, “don’t let them do it, please, please, it wasn’t Lady, it was Nymeria, Arya did it, you can’t, it wasn’t Lady, don’t let them hurt Lady, I’ll make her be good, I promise, I promise . . . ” She started to cry. All Ned could do was take her in his arms and hold her while she wept. He looked across the room at Robert. His old friend, closer than any brother. “Please, Robert. For the love you bear me. For the love you bore my sister. Please.”

This is the one instance where Ned just goes there ala Tomioatic theory. I’m a not a simple man, but I’m very plain dude in “situations”. Denzel once said, I don’t scratch my head unless it itches and I don’t dance unless I hear some music. I will not be intimidated. I don’t mince words or have different waves or degrees of assault, I cut as deep as I know, or can go, even if it’s in detriment to my longterm situation. Ned, who just moments ago was about form, suddenly went there. Don’t remember? I got you:

Men called out to him as he crossed the castle yard, but Ned ignored them in his haste. He would have run, but he was still the King’s Hand, and a Hand must keep his dignity. He was aware of the eyes that followed him, of the muttered voices wondering what he would do.

Instead, for his children, Ned went for it and tested his pull, invoking his dead sister’s name in front of the court and just crashed. It’s kind of pathetic but in a good world it should have been enough, in a perfect one he should never have had  to do it. Which ever, it’s plain that Robert no longer shared a world that Ned inhabited.

The castle was a modest holding a half day’s ride south of the Trident. The royal party had made themselves the uninvited guests of its lord, Ser Raymun Darry, while the hunt for Arya and the butcher’s boy was conducted on both sides of the river. They were not welcome visitors. Ser Raymun lived under the king’s peace, but his family had fought beneath Rhaegar’s dragon banners at the Trident, and his three older brothers had died there, a truth neither Robert nor Ser Raymun had forgotten. With king’s men, Darry men, Lannister men, and Stark men all crammed into a castle far too small for them, tensions burned hot and heavy.

The world isn’t about just Stark and Lannister. Shit happened before and it matters, no matter that the two most powerful men in the realm (save maybe Tywin) were in the house and having a very personal spat. This reminds us that in a society where  knees have been bent, there is still local pride and you only were as formal and subservient as you had to be.

Once again we get another mention of Rhaegar, though it seems not very important to Elena (again), in terms of the  repetition of his mention(for a dead guy) thus far. I can’t recall for myself when he became one of my favorite characters to read about and I wish I could remember if he mattered to me in this book, or did it take Clash of Kings of Storm of Swords to really start considering the awesome that was the Prince of Dragonstone. The guy that got killed by the loser we meet in this chapter.

When we first started this project  I stated that I was going to keep an eye on theme of Ned and dead  children because  I think what he saw done to the Tagaryen children just had this profound impact on him (now that I think on it, I wonder what other choices were given Theon before Ned to him as his ward –remember both he and Robert were there for Balon’s Rebellion). Ned seeing Mycah cut down – no less by the brother who was first hand involved in the sack of King’s Landing – had to be horrifying, especially because his own children were so connected to the events leading up to it.

In ending, what do people think would have happened if the Hound would have happened upon Arya first? Was there real fear for her safety beyond her being lost and in the wilderness?

Ned isn’t a coward.

“Do it yourself then, Robert,” he said in a voice cold and sharp as steel. “At least have the courage to do it yourself.”

As reader we may read this line and take away from it some admiration for and of the recall to Ned’s beliefs in the first chapter. It’s actually something a little more awesome than that. Don’t get it twisted, these are fightin’ words. Martin tells us so, “cold and sharp as steel” – he’s attacking Robert. Previously,  he attempted to invoke the shared love of Lyanna to bring his friend back, but right here – “at least have the courage” – he’s straight up saying show me you’re not a coward.

Time out.

If you’re a guy, just any normal dude, and somebody calls you a coward, you react to it. Even now in a society that’s socially more pro-pussification, calling somebody scared probably starts trouble 50% of time when uttered.  Now picture (and I do quote) this guy:

Fifteen years past, when they had ridden forth to win a throne, the Lord of Storm’s End had been clean-shaven, clear-eyed, and muscled like a maiden’s fantasy. Six and a half feet tall, he towered over lesser men, and when he donned his armor and the great antlered helmet of his House, he became a veritable giant. He’d had a giant’s strength too, his weapon of choice a spiked iron warhammer that Ned could scarcely lift. In those days, the smell of leather and blood had clung to him like perfume.

Jesus. You’d think Renly – not Ned – was describing a dude. What do you think happened when you called that guy a coward? Ned knows. Robert knows. He’s the very guy who Martin just told us in the last chapter – when I told you setting was important to frame Joff’s character –  was near the grounds of his greatest victory.

This guy crushed Rhaegar Targaryen one-on-one. We talk about Sansa’s song ending here but the same could be said of Robert, the Demon of the Trident.  Remember the boar? Remember how adamant Robert – on his deathbed – was when speaking to Ned and Renly about how HE killed it, making Renly swear to the deed?  The romantic in me thinks Robert remembers, “I killed the bastard, didn’t I?”

“Lady wasn’t there,” Arya shouted angrily. “You leave her alone!”

This is why we love Arya.

“Where is the direwolf?” Cersei Lannister asked when her husband was gone. Beside her, Prince Joffrey was smiling.

This is why we hate Joff.

If you had any doubts he wasn’t a prick and instead was just some misunderstood kid who was trying to lie to stay out of trouble, this crushes it.  This is his future wife’s pet and Cersei shows that he can punish her to right wrongs to his person, much like a bad pet owner would. Cruelty is something he shares with his mother.

Does anybody think Ned should have been like, ‘F all this, let’s rumble”. Sometimes you have to fight your friends, and though I hate to hang this on Ned, it really falls to your ace to put you in check. I don’t think Ned could do anything to Robert that would make Robert kill him…period.

A part of me thinks Robert wanted Ned to do this, maybe subconsciously because he picks for his Hand the guy that shared with him his last moments of glory…of when he was alive. And Ned did it. He took it there. He opened a door that Robert could have stepped through. Let me give you the quote from above with the next sentence attached:

“Do it yourself then, Robert,” he said in a voice cold and sharp as steel. “At least have the courage to do it yourself.” Robert looked at Ned with flat, dead eyes and left without a word, his footsteps heavy as lead. Silence filled the hall.

The windows to the soul and dragging dead weight.  We only see them slightly ajar again when he faces death. When he has something to fight. I feel Ned here because he did exactly what I would have done. He trusted his friend with his and his family, and when his friend buckled, he called him out…all out. He put it all on table because there was nothing to suggest Robert wouldn’t come across the figurative table on him. I just wish this was the  fight that Robert wanted to win. The one Ned invited Robert to win.

Next: Bran had a dream.

Author: Elena Nola and Jay Tomio

Elena Nola is the imperial editrix for the Boomtron empire. She likes genre books, weird movies, and obscure references. She lives in New Orleans, where almost every day is good enough for good times. You can follow her reviews and commentaries at Boomtron. Jay is a silent partner in Extensive Enterprises, a bastard child of Amber, an Eleint Soletaken, a probable Targaryen, and was the second-to-last Starfighter.

53 thoughts on “Playin’ With Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Eddard Stark Chapter 16”

  1. There are no spoilers till the very end, so you can read it too Elena…

    This is definitely a chapter that resonates very deeply in me. Maybe simply because Ned decides to be the person to kill Lady. When we had to put my last dog to sleep, I stayed there with him and while it’s not nearly the same thing, even what I did, took a lot of strength from me. I can’t imagine having to do what Ned did here.

    Even Sansa comes off as sympathetic in this chapter, even though she lies…one can only hope that this teaches her about the real world, and not to trust in fairy tales…

    Arya is amazing… Even though that might put Nymeria in danger, she still tries to fight for Lady, saying it wasn’t Lady that did it, “leave Lady alone!”…

    @Elena: I can see why you despise Robert…Cersei is cruel and heartless, she’s cruel for the sole reason of being cruel, but Robert has the power to put her in her place and he simply walks away…hating himself for being so weak… this, from a guy who is king, who used to be strong enough to defeat the previous king, who had the willpower of heroes and the charisma that the other men followed…it’s inconceivable in a way, what the crown, his company and the strings that guide him, have turned him into…

    ***SHORT SPOILER***

    When you add the direwolf-stark children connection to the story, this could easily have been one of the most important moments in the entire story and we probably still haven’t seen the full scope of this act of Cersei’s cruelty…though I suppose some good might come out of it…this act also made Nymeria into a leader of a huge wolf pack and Arya might still find Nym someday…

    ***END SPOILERS***

  2. oh and btw, well written, thanks for the update…I’m glad it didn’t take as long as the last one…I know you have no obligation to us (same as GRRM) but it does get tough waiting for something that you have the feeling you should already have gotten 🙂

    1. thanks!

      and yes, it is so impossibly hard to sit there while a pet is put to sleep…i can only imagine that what motivated ned WAS knowing how much worse it would be for her if The Hound did it instead of himself…at least he can make it quick. but goddamn what a godawful choice.

  3. @Elenea:

    I despise Robert too, but I do not think he has squander potential. I never think he had it in him to be a good king. Noone did anything to him to make him this way, it seems to me that he was a great warrior once, but never a great ruler. He will not make hard or controvertial choices.

    As for Sansa and Arya, I dislike Sansa more in this chapter. She lies for very selfish reasons, and has no one but herself to blame for her wolf.

    Arya is easy to like, but she is not very diplomatic…

    “He ran, but not very fast”- The Hound is awesome.

    1. I think you called it that Robert is not squandering potential but that he was perceived as having a potential he never did.

      And yes, Sansa has no one but herself to blame for what happened to Lady. I have no doubt she didn’t think something this truly awful would actually happen, but as I said in her chapter–the world is cruel to people who live inside of illusions. I’m curious to see what this does to her worldview.

      1. Generally speaking, people who ascend to Kingship aren’t there because they had any (much less the most) potential for the position. While I don’t dispute what you say, it could apply to nearly everyone/anyone.

        I look at Robert’s life in the way I’d view some rockstar (or even a one hit wonder). Dude was great at what he loved, and didn’t much care for anything else. A bad King for sure, but it mostly it had to do with him not giving much a damn about being King (relatively, I mean it’s always good to be king).

        He pretty much admitted in previous chapters “he never felt as alive” when winning the Kingdom.

        I will add this, I don’t think Cersei’s shortcomings have much to do with this either. This guy wasn’t built to be King, even if he was built to win kingdoms. MAYBE a Dorathaki king…

        Bad king, not so sure I’d label his life a failure–dude obviously lived a pretty interesting life. Prime Robert Years sound great. Rick Jamesesque.

        1. Natural selection created families of madcap (and mad) psychopaths. Only the ones with paranoid tendencies generally ascended to power. but power != kingship.

  4. Just a note: a couple people reporting some issues with characters presenting above. I don’t see it 9though I’ve seen screenshots) on any browser but we are looking into it.

    SPOILERS

    I have to admit a weakness in my reading (1 of only like 198). I kind of don’t at all find the connection to the direwolves interesting and never had. I LOVE the symbolism of it, adore it, and the early scene of them finding them is classic but at this point while I admit its certainly there, it for some reason isn’t that interesting to me. FUll disclosur? Kind of hate the warging too, and I’m hoping this reread allows me to reevaluate Bran chapter because I only find him interesting by association.

    END SPOILERS

    1. SPOILERS:

      I find the whole warging thing uninteresting as well. At least in its current state. I do think it’s kind of cool that Bran can warg into Hodor, but that’s because it presents interesting moral quandaries … plus I still sort of dig the mystery of Hodor / Old Nan, and hope for answers regarding his origins.

      But right now, just popping into and out of wolves doesn’t capture my attention. Hell, I pretty much found Varamyr Six-Skins to be one of the most uninteresting antagonists in the series as yet.

      I liken Bran chapters to Davos chapters; I’m more interested in who he associates with than the PoV itself.

  5. Yes, there are some technical difficulties. Started reading through twitter link and switched over to GM direct and no difference.

    This is one of the more heartrending chapters. I find it interesting that as horrendous as the butchery of Mycah is, it’s the cruel killing of an innocent animal that cuts to the quick. You just don’t kill someone’s dog. Just so. And all of this is set in motion by Cersei and Robert goes along with it. Sansa was way in over her head and may only after the fact begin to realise it on some level. Think, what is life really going to be like married to Joff. And Cersei will be the M-in-L from hell.

  6. @Elena

    I agree with your assessment of Cersei. I think this is a fault of the genre in general (and we have ample evidence of good, strong female characters at this point – even if some of them aren’t sexualized at all, which is another rant entirely) but this whole “evil, scheming, not actually powerful but just cruel woman” trope is SOOO OLD. Cersei is a disappointment to me. I would hope that if we’re going to cast a woman as a villain that she would be more complicated than she is.

    ***spoilders***

    @Jay

    are there ANY characters that would make a good King? that wouldnt either a. turn into another Robert, b. be unable to play the politics, or c. be entirely unable to hold the throne? i mean at this point in the series we’re answering that question by putting our fingers in our ears and singing to ourselves.. just waiting for Dany to come crush them all…

    but.. AT THIS POINT…i dunno.. i mean even Rhaegar, that prince we mourn so much, was a total creep in some departments. We’ve got Dany and Viserys as extremes of the coin that the Targaryens seem to come down as, but it’s not like Ned or Tywin or Tyrian or Renly or Stannis or Jaime or anyone really.. would make a decent King at all!

    Now if we’re talking those who are… still a little young, or crippled… then i might have some other points to make.

    1. SPOILERS:

      @Darth Rachel and Jay:

      Tywin Lannister. He would make an excellent king. He was in fact all but king when he was Aerys hand, and it was regarded as a golden age. He is by no means a great father, but as a king he would be great.
      Strong, uncompromising against his enemies, cunning if need be, rational, calm and efficent. Not burdened by notions of honor or glory.
      He might not be kind, but a king cannot afford to be. He would keep the Realm prosperous, unified and powerful. For the common people, he would be the best choice.

      1. ***spoilers****

        and when he dies? he would leave/leaves the realm in chaos.

        i’m just saying, part of being a good king is creating a good government and part of them is producing a suitable heir.

        1. Spoilers

          Yeah, but he wasn’t King. If he were, throwing out timelines and history, his heir would be Jaime, not Joff. We don’t know what kind of guy Jaime would be if he was aimed at the Throne with Tywin and Kevan molding/assisting him.

    2. SPOILERS

      I think it’s a tough call and it depends on what you think is important. With the 3 points you offer, I’m with you Skywier on Tywin. He knows how to operate a budget, he formidable in defense, and he’s not insane. He has his issues but none of them seem to hinder his ability to govern and most would play him straight be cause he straddles that line of rewarding and dangerous. Tywin pay his debts is both a threat and promise.

      I don’t know the mind of Varys or Illyrio, but I have to believe the last guy they wanted around when Dany arrived was Tywin Lannister in power (I’d actually say Ned was a close second – a proven Commander of men who couldn’t be bought (relatively).

      Tywin is an asshole, but I’ve mad this argument before in previous comment strings in this feature – I kind of think living under Lannister rule was probably fair and without doubt SAFE.

      I kind of like what we hear about Willas, but he hasn’t really sat the big chair yet, so it’s hard to tell. I think Littlefinger would probably be a crafty King but he lacks the strength and you need that if you don’t have even the most minimal of claims. We see that because we see him collecting potential titles, but we all know it means nothing (for now).

      I agree there is a perpetual grass is (or would have been) greener aspect to Rhaegar. We just don’t know. All we do know is a lot of people seemed to not think was incompetent (or dashing, or the next rock star) excluding Robert. That tells us nothing of course, but I like to think he was Buddy Jesus.

      END SPoilers

      1. ***spoilers***

        i might be more inclined to say Tywin would work.. except that i’m absolutely certain Cersei would screw it up. Somehow, she would have even if she’d gotten her initial deal. b/c I don’t think Cersei is an “evil Sansa”. See, unlike Sansa, Cersei would never have been happy even if things went according to plan. Her sex is the issue not her station.

        1. SPOILERS

          I think Tywin handles it if he’s there day-to-day.

          He send her to Rock and the beauty of it is nobody is going to tell Tywin he can’t.

      2. Ned’s only really problematic because of his relationship with Robert. Figure he wouldn’t mind a different ruler otherwise.

    3. RE Cersei – see, from where I am in the book(s) I’m still holding out hope that she is a complex character, lol. Actually for me the cruel for the sake of being cruel could BE an interesting character, if anyone had ever exposed the psychology in a patently understandable way that also seemed realistic, relatable, and not a distillation of why my folks liked to call psychobabble books. Still waiting on that.

        1. I’ll tell you this Elena, Cersei still has some potential to surprise.

          ***SPOILERS***

          Tywin would be a good king, if his family wasn’t around or if he stopped acting like he owned them. Cersei would make half-baked plans, Jaime wouldn’t really care until Tywin sent Cersei away for being a semi-cunning person who thinks she’s the smartest and Tyrion would just jump at any opportunity to show Tywin that he’s not perfect.

          If Tywin got along with his family, he could get Jaime as his kingsguard, Tyrion as his hand and Cersei as a tool to help in difficult areas, where flirting could help.

      1. It’s mental illness, pure and simple. But it’s fucking realistic mental illness. Rulers of Men loved to kill beasts in shooting galleries. No challenge, just mindless violence.

        Peasants would balk before touching something like that.

    4. SPOILERS:

      Jon would make a good king, but until the books reveal his true origins that point is pretty moot. Somewhere down the road …? Who knows.

      A friend of mine thinks Renly would have made a good king, but I think he would have beggared the kingdom of its gold faster than Robert. And that’s even WITH the wealth of Highgarden backing him.

      Could Renly have been forced to produce an heir by Margaery? Likely, just to ensure his rule was looked upon as a success (image is everything to him). Loras might even have encouraged it. But if he couldn’t be bothered to bed his lover’s sister a few times, I’m sure the Queen of Thorns would have ensured succession through the Tyrell loins, by hook or by crook.

      Hell, I doubt they would even have to keep any potential sperm doners a secret from Renly (unlike Robert).

      I imagine Renly might have even been amused by the notion of helping to choose the man whose seed might surrogate his son.

      1. SPOILERS:
        Haha, that’s funny. But I think the most likely thing would be Renly just kind of… erm plowing through it. Close his eyes and pretend. I’m sure that’s how gay people in the past did it when they had to produce heirs.

      2. ***spoilers***

        Ahh that reminds me,

        You think poor Gendry is going to be pulled into all of this? He looks enough like the young Robert (and according to Brienne, Renly) that if the right person got a hold of him a case could be made.

        A case as weak as everyone elses claim to be sure but hey! Gotta get that throne!

        Poor kid.

        1. Spizoilers*

          This sounds like this thread is bringing out what I hate (direwolf connection) but I also don’t care about the BWOB either. I do like Gendry for sure because he’s the son of THE MAN, but I’d like it well enough if he faded away. OR, Gendry and Rickon storming fools in 15 years.

          1. SPOILS of WAR:

            George originally intended a 5-year time jump, but decided against it. At least thus far.

            I personally would love a 15-year jump somewhere down the line, just to see what a wicked motherfucker Rickon has become.

            If we don’t get that he just ends up like Bobby from the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.

            Or… fuckin’… BamBam.

            Or dead.

        2. SPOILZ:

          I will be disappointed if he is not at least reunited with Arya somewhere down the line.

  7. @Elena
    It took me longer than I thought to gather my thoughts for this chapter. Partly because real life is so busy, but mostly because I fly into a rage every time I read this.

    Cersei wanted blood for anyone having the temerity to touch her precious Joffery, and for a while it seemed like an overblown sense of pride. But as the chapter progressed and she harried Robert more and more, I realized she was also irrationally vindictive. All pointed out already by others, yet no matter how many times I read it, it loses none of its power for me. good writing! Infuriating, even!!

    Robert is irredeemable for me here. The man I heard described before and this man are not the same. Similar in some respects, but this isn’t Ned’s old friend, and I remember feeling a sore disappointment for Ned in realizing this. Give him something to hit and he’s as bold and courageous as you could want. But confrontations, governing, decision making that doesn’t pertain to battle? He can’t deal with it, and as we see, he runs away. An emotional coward is how I see him, and on my first read through I had to wonder if all the unhappiness in his marriage could truly be laid only on Cersei.

    Be that as it may, I’m perfectly willing to hate her and her vile son until the end of time. Joffery’s lies were all the more offensive to me for their obvious fabrication. Was Renly the only one laughing, really? I cannot believe that those present, except Cersei, would believe that this prideful snot of a boy was set upon so severely when he had only ONE wound! I suppose I can’t blame anyone for keeping silent, as it sounds like crossing the Queen is dangerous business, but for Robert to just bow to her? This is where friendship and understanding are supposed to make a difference, and it doesn’t.

    Ned handled himself well, and I agree that if that could have handled it privately things would have gone far better. But this is clearly what Cersei was determined to prevent. There would be punishment. There would be blood! SOMEONE was going to pay for making her Joffy cry!

    All I could say about Cersei has been said. She’s a fool, and a prideful one. Her son is no better. The Hound is truly an obedient dog, and at this point, on my first read through, I was more than ready to see all three of these jackasses catapulted off a cliff. Preferably while they were on fire. I would slap Sansa, but she lost Lady. There’s nothing I could do that would hurt more than that.

    @Jay SPOILERS!!!

    When I think of what Jaime later revealed about that night, I’m actually a little incredulous that he couldn’t see how she used even HIM to get whatever she wanted, and how irrational she was! Blah!!

    It’s hard to make sense of things through the red fog of my rage, but one of the things that strikes me is an agreement with you. Fight Robert on this, or sneak Lady out and to the seven hells with the Queen. I somehow think if it actually came to that, Robert might have stopped running and told Cersei to shut the hell up. He already knew Joffery was lying, so why the hell did he capitulate??

    I think that’s what pisses me off the most. He knows Cersei, and he knows that kid, and yet he wouldn’t defend or take up for his friend at all. I keep thinking this is what the crown did to him, but I get confused when I try to think of what the crown specifically did to make him such a coward. One thing I wanted specifically to ask you was; do you think that maybe Robert’s ALWAYS been an emotional coward, only capable of facing PHYSICAL threats with any fortitude? We know that Lyanna was less than thrilled to be engaged to him, and we know that, of all his bastards, only Edric Storm was acknowledged because he had no choice. We know through Stannis that it was Varys who thought of young Edric enough to send him gifts, and that Robert never did so himself. He seems, in my opinion, to love who is right in front of him, and when they are away from his sight they cease to matter, and that includes his children. I don’t see these as the actions of a strong heart, but what do you and others think?

    I have to wonder how happy his marriage to Lyanna would have been, really. But then, I hate him enough to believe him self deluded.

    On the Hound…he’s one of my favorite characters now, but his past can still make me bristle. At least I know, in his case, he needs only the flimsiest excuse to kill. my comfort is that, between Arya and Sansa, he’s going to regret everything.

    Arya and Sansa…do you think they’ll ever forgive each other?

    1. Elena can read this part:

      I think Renly is one of the few that could get away with openly laughing. One of the reasons why I said I think in some manner Robert wanted Ned to come across the table on him (and for sure Ned basically called him out to a fight) is that Ned was his choice to be Hand. he got off of his ass and took the court to the North – a trip nobody wanted to make barring Tyrion – and sought Ned. That’s not a move by a guy who has just given up completely – he could have just given it to Jaime (as Cersei wanted). It does strike me that Robert easily dismisses his brother, but doesn’t just tell Cersei to shut up, he’s made a decision. That said, I think people would hate Robert if he COULD do that, so the guy can’t win! it is so odd to me because at any point all he has to do is say, ignore what Cersei said, don’t touch the direwolf and that would have been it. He’s the damn king, seems simple and we don’t have an reason to think he feels threatened by anyone.

      That said, and we’ve brought this up before, but I now see that the marriage was probably almost a sure thing. In this chapter, the tensions from the War are mentioned and I can’t think of many suitable matches for Joff who were on Robert’s side during the Rebellion (the other two of the three big potential candidates, Tyrell and Dorne, were Loyalists) so maybe it was a spur of a moment thing, I don’t know. The wedding also ties Ned’s hands a bit.

      I kind of think when discussing Robert we have to come to some agreement on what we think he wants. I think his choice of Ned and the wedding speaks on this, but I’m not sure in what way. We know clearly that Cersei wanted nothing to do with Ned as Hand, though I’m not sure if we knew how she felt about the arrangement of marriage. It’s almost like she doesn’t care at all because she completely just pisses on Sansa in this chapter to lash out at Ned.

      SPOILERS… I guess

      Regarding Robert. Mostly what I see is a lonely guy. Here is a guy who seems to be outgoing, wild, gains allies through sheer force of personality and charisma. Consider the girl he loved as well. How he truly would have evolved with Lyanna is up in the air but I think that very point speaks to some truth about him. He never really grew up from that point. We are talking about a young guy who lost his teenage love, won a war, and then got responsibility thrust on him, a responsibility he had only because someone wanted to kill HIM. Robert didn’t set out to be King.

      I don’t think Robert ever wanted this, he took it on, and while we know he was always loose I’m guessing it got worst post-Lyanna. I do know you can fuck multiple people and truly love (or think you do) only one.

      1. @ Jay
        SPOILERS (mild but nonetheless :))
        It has always bugged me how Robert could undergo such a groundbreaking change. Your re-read urged me to think a bit more on that matter.
        I agree with what you said about his motivation to go to war. His and Ned’s life was at stake and Lyanna’s abduction occured AFAIR at about the same time as Aerys’s demand for their heads. We don’t know much about Robert’s actions during the campaign apart from the battle at the Trident. Most of crucial battles were won by Ned and Stannis and we didn’t hear anything of Robert’s strategic prowess, although it seems he was a charismatic leader at least.
        So primarily he was an excellent warrior who really loved hand-to-hand battle and Ned’s sister. And all of this was taken from him as soon as the war ended. He gained a crown he did not want and a wife he did not love. Later in the AGOT he bitterfully tells Ned that in fact he lost the war to Rhaegar.
        We can only deduce what his actions as a king were prior to the AGOT timeline. We know for sure that he goes whoring a lot and does not shy from alcohol. I think it just helps him forget/not to think of Lyanna. He does not care about anything else as his raison d’etre is long gone.
        As for his relationship with Cersei I think he just wishes she wasn’t around him as he clearly bears no love nor even friendship towards her. The thing he feels for her is at highest a tolerance, as he sees her simply as a cumbersome household member. He also takes no apparent interest in the kids, either.
        IMO the only thing Robert wants is to run away from all the political stuff and just go killing and battling, no matter where (remember him wishing to be a Braavosi sellsword?). He does not have a clear death-wish but certainly for now his life makes no sense nor joy for him. And that’s what makes him not only a poor king but a tragic figure in general.

        1. SPOILERS

          I do not think Robert would have evolved differently with Lyenna, not really. He thinks that it would be a much better marriage, but it is clear that Lyenna did not want to marry Robert, quite vehemently in fact.

          Nor would she be content to be a castle-bound noble woman and let Robert run around whoring at will.
          She would have been miserable as Robert’s queen (assuming she had lived at the end of the war), and she might have become more Cersei like than one would have thought. She would after all be married to the man that killed her boyfriend, and be forced to have his children.

          1. @elena, thinking you can read this

            I’m not sure if the evolution involves Lyanna as much as it would involved not having to be King, a role he was kind of “picked” for after he was forced into a situation (I.E to not be executed). Essentially he looked the part and had the best claim of the possible, central, victors. Jon Arryn had no heir and Ned clearly wanted nothing to do with anything as he didn’t gain any honors (Small council etc).

            Ned is a pretty prickly dude and he LOVES Robert. He knows what Lyanna said and he STILL loves him. That means whatever he saw Robert do, Ned’s super-honor still couldn’t bring him to hate or even dislike him, and it’s easy to see why…

            We know so little about Robert we have to look at what we know he did. What was the first thing he did when he arrived in WInterfell? Sure, that can be viewed as pretty damn distasteful or lacking tact, but THAT’s that dude. The guy has been King and away for how many years? He know to see Lyanna…THAT is as much as Robert as this other guy we see.

            Guy hates his job, has problems with his family and has a drinking problem. Black Lion was right, the war he didn’t ask for – he was just a boy really – cost him EVERYTHING he loved and gained him nothing he cared about…he said it…Rhaegar won. I do think it goes beyond a love for hand-to-hand machoism though. I think we have to assume both he may have been looking for each other (because two leaders meeting each other on a field of battle seems too odd an occurrence to be otherwise), but I always loved the symbolism of Robert crushing Rhaegar and then stopping (he was injured). He really didn’t seem to do much after that. he didn’t rush to King’s Landing, he didn’t move on to lift any Siege, he avenged Lyanna in his mind and STOPPED.

            In some way Tywin really played this situation to insure that Robert be stuck with Cersei, and that strikes both ways. This SHOULD have been the ultimate power couple..though both were oddly plagued by Rhaegar.

            I do think he’s tragic. I don’t forgive him, but like I said before, I have friends like Robert (minus the sweet warhammer) who I love to death and I know would do anything for me, though they are kind of self-destructive with themselves and in some caeses their own family.

            It’s just hard for me to hate Robert because I think he is fundamentally a “good” dude, and I think that’s why Ned loves him,and we see examples of him being able to win allies by just sitting at a table with them–do we think he was devious? Nah, he’s just a likable guy, which I’ll admit is different than being a quality one.

        2. Slightly spoilerish!!

          I think you’re right in what you say about Robert, but does this excuse him? He’s the king, he has responsibilities, but he acts as if he just can’t take it, so he runs away and gets drunk and fucks all the time and makes more children he doesn’t give a damn about. All because he misses Lyanna? I’m pretty sure she’d be disgusted.

          As far as I’m concerned, if he’d simply tried, he might have had some kind of relationship with Cersei. I’m not saying it would have been a good one, but it might have been enough to stave off what we saw in this chapter. There’s no excuse for Cersei’s cruelty, but there’s also no excuse for Robert’s passivity.

      2. Obviously Robert never read the Westeros equivalent of Machiavelli: “it is better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.” my thing is this: if you’re a leader, you have to make hard decisions and that is going to make you some enemies and piss some people off. but if you’re strong, consistent, and can be depended upon to MAKE a decision that’s generally not disastrous, then people will respect you even if they do not LIKE you. isn’t that the whole loneliness of command motif? Robert’s problem is that he can’t make decisions. And it’s indefensible. Actually, no, what makes it indefensible is that he KNOWS he can’t/won’t make tough decisions but then refuses to be ruled by the choices made for him by the people he chose to make those choices (which is why the throne is what 6 million crowns in debt)

        1. and to the point you make lower, about it being hard to hate robert because he didn’t ask for any of this…the fact is, when you are in charge of a kingdom, you don’t get the same freedom to fuck your life up as you see fit, because in doing so it can affect the lives of literally thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people, not just your nearest and dearest. so while i can understand how he got to that point, i still hate him for his impotence and irresponsibility. but as i said…i’m kind of Stoic. i take a situation and make the best of it, not wallow in my disappointments and give up on life because it didn’t turn out the way i wanted. wah fucking wah.

          1. @ elena
            You are perfectly right saying that the king’s actions (or lack of action) influences the lives of many people. And from that POV Robert is one of the worst kings in Westerosi history. You should however mind that the whole rebel coalition won the war and struck the wall with a big hairy question “Now what?” Jon Arryn was heirless but also bound to be married with Lysa Tully and both were supposedly fertile so it is a no excuse. Ned also could take the throne and possibly the only excuse would be when Uncle Benji 😉 was already in the Night’s Watch. I don’t know if it was the case, he was younger than Ned.
            So it appears that they just dumped the position onto a guy who did not have any clever pretext to avoid the responsibility.
            Honestly I think the whole kingdom would benefit if the Lannisters seized the throne. Tywin would make a great king.

            PS Great news, ADWD is oficially going to be released on 12th July!

    2. not the throne… Cersei, if anyone, has broken Robert. The need to be a king, perhaps, in a loveless marriage, with a manipulative woman

  8. SPOILERS!!

    On that last point, yes I know people think that. And it may even be true. But Lyanna might have gelded him from what little we know of her. Oh well, we’ll never know for sure. He might have evolved with her influence, as you say, and only become better, but what is revealed about his relationship with Cersei almost made me pity the queen. And THAT leaves a bad taste in my mouth, lol!

    As to Robert himself, he is infuriating and, by the time we see him, weak. The stories of his past can’t erase his present, at least not for me, and I find myself wishing that Ned had pushed him much harder than he did. Ned’s honor served him well in the north, but not in KL, and hating only Cat doesn’t erase HIS big mess ups.

    let me stop there, as I’m losing my thread and almost started talking about the Hound!

    1. Actually it doesn’t really matter is he would be different with Lyanna alive, what matters is that with her dying, his point of life at that moment was destroyed. He lost someone he loved, at the moment thought of as the love of his life, and when she was gone, he only built her up, made her perfect. Then he got stuck with Cersei, whom he never loved, and liked less and less each day, because she wasn’t the perfect image of Lyanna…that in turn made her hate him more and more and so on and so on…

      I do think Robert is a relatively good man, or at least he used to be, in his prime he was even likable, but now…a good man would never let a friends pet be killed if he could stop it…

      ***sorry I’m not sure if we’re past this point or not so spoiler tag for one last sentence***

      …he would never talk of killing children either…

      ***end spoiler***

      And yes, great news about a dance with dragons…Elena, you lucky *****, you won’t have to wait for it 😛

      1. I don’t know, I’m pro killing everyone from the preceeding dynasty. We can’t bring our sensibility to this, Ned says Rickon (who was stupid young) needed to be ready for hardships. Teenagers in this setting have led and won battles and wars.

        I have no issues with Robert wanting to see Viserys and Dany killed, that actually seems like common sense.

        1. I wanted to answer one of your smaller questions, that being, would Arya have been in real danger if The Hound found her first. My own feeling is YES, but then I remember that she’s The Hand’s daughter, and I’m not so sure.

          SHORT SPOILER!!

          We know that Jaime was influenced by Cersei to want to harm Arya, and I believe he might have killed her from what he says, but in The Hound’s case Cersei might have ordered him to follow that old law of maiming someone who lays hands on royalty.

          END SPOILER!!!!

          Which is still real danger to Arya, and might have led to her death.

          So yeah, I do fully believe she was in danger if The Hound had come across her first. Thank the Old Gods he didn’t!!

          1. See, I have a hard time on this. The Hand of the King is the hand of the King, and I’m thinking that the previous one had some influence–I don’t think anyone would have “ran down” a child of Jon Arryn, just because the Queen wanted it done.

            If something would have happened to Arya…maybe this is a discussion point..what would have Robert done? If Robert would do nothing, certainly Ned would have died because there is no way he’d let the matter drop. Maybe this is a good What if Post?

        2. Garn, there’s no reply option for me after your last post! But this IS a great discussion! Like you, I have a hard time believing that The Hand’s child could be harmed. BUT this is Sandor Clegane we’re talking about…

          SHORT SPOILER!!

          A man that’s allowed his dumbass brute of a brother to completely define his existance. The Hound doesn’t seem to need too much of an excuse.

          END SPOILER!!!

          …but since she’s Arya Stark, would he have hesitated? Or would Joffery’s lies been all he needed?

        3. What do you mean by “We can’t bring our sensibility into this”? Just because a lot of people in Westeros are ruthless SOBs doesn’t mean those ethical standards have to be shared by the reader, or the writer– or the other characters, because there are plenty of characters in the books who don’t share them either; surely their sensibility counts for something even if ours doesn’t! I mean, Ned may be considered a softie by some in King’s Landing, but he’s a man of his time and not an especially imaginative one, so it’s safe to assume that he’s speaking from legal/moral principles that would be familiar to a lot of people in Westeros… even if others, like Robert, don’t agree.

          It’s odd to gloss over the hideous behavior of (fictional or real) people in faraway times on the grounds that they’re just going by the standards of their culture, when there’s obvious disagreement on this *within* that culture. It’s like reading Oliver Twist and arguing that what happened to Oliver really wasn’t all that bad because those were just the standards of Victorian society. Of course to do that you’d have to totally ignore the satirical and humane point of view that’s in every line of Dickens’s writing. And Martin is really a very humane writer who, like Dickens, makes it clear that people often have a lot of rationalizations for ruthless actions that benefit themselves and that you shouldn’t take them at face value.

          1. It means, given the setting, I’d have killed them too and I have no problems with my ethics, though in the world I live in I highly question the same actions (at least at this time, not so much in other times). It’s too easy to pick and choose. In our society, a member of the secret service killing the president would be at the very least QUESTIONABLE, but I have no problem at all with Jaime’s actions.

            BEHEADING people in front of kids, while still practiced today in some parts today I’m sure, it pretty much frowned upon in the world I live in, but Ned rolls (bad pun) with it as justice. It’s too easy to pick and choose IMHO.

          2. Kinda hate when people bring “but the puppies!” into this… yes, we as readers know that there’s symbolism… but the PEOPLE THERE DON’T.

      2. hm…i may not have to wait but at current reading rate I won’t be getting to it for another 4 years… or, just in time to wait with the rest of y’all for the NEXT one. 🙂

  9. thank you for pointing that out. but it doesn’t change my point that someone in the “upper” class–by which i mean the queen, if he is her pet–can do that with no consequences.

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