Dany is inspecting the aftermath of a battle — more of a slaughter, really — from the privileged height of her horse. Another khalasar had come across a shepherding village and were in the process of savaging it when Drogo & co showed up and finished off both. We’re treated to some lovely scenes of torture, killing, and rape. Dany is affected but reminds herself that this is what it will take to reclaim her throne. It’s like Jorah said, the people don’t care who gets sit on the throne and no matter who wins the war between kings, the people will always lose.
Jorah is pragmatically chatting with her about where best to sell the new slaves, but Dany can’t listen to the cries of a girl being raped and orders her saved by claiming her as a personal slave, then does the same for the women she encounters on her way to Drogo, who’s been wounded. Some men complain that Dany took the women they were planning to rape and scoff at her suggestion that they (horse-people) treat these women (lamb-people) like people. Dany, a dragon person, tells everyone to go fuck themselves, with Drogo’s blessing.
I don’t really remember what I thought about Dany’s people-saving the first time around, but I think even then I was suspicious. If there’s one rule GRRM firmly adheres to it’s that the road paved with good intentions leads straight to Hell.
There’s a small moment that shows some nobility of spirit in Drogo when he explains that he sent the healers away to tend to his warriors before being looked after himself. It’s all well and good, but his chest looks like a Body Worlds exhibition piece. One of the women Dany saved, Mirri Maz Duur, pipes up that she’s a healer. I’m going to call her MMD, because MD is a doctor, you know… Qotho, Drogo’s sadistic bloodrider, calls her a maegi, a fearful witch of some sort, and propose to kill her on the spot. Dany defends her, questions her as to her credentials, Drogo then consents to have her stitch him up.
I bet none of us knew when we first read about Qotho, the rapey one, that we’d ever agree with him, eh? Damn, you GRRM, now I feel dirty.
MMD takes Drogo, Dany, and their entourage into her place of worship where she removes an arrow for him and sews up the flapping skin on his chest. Drogo shrugs off her aftercare advice but Dany is impressed and trustful enough to decide that the woman will be her midwife. Qotho makes one last attempt at intimidation. MMD remains unfazed.
Tyrion! This calls for the TV show’s theme music in my headphones. Finally, a chapter I’m going to enjoy no matter what.
The Lannister forces are making camp for the night. Tywin and his cronies are sitting down for dinner at a table under the stars when Tyrion catches up to them. There’s some habitual Tywin/Tyrion sniping, a humorous update on the state of Tyrion’s wildling squadron, and then Tywin, through the mouth of his brother Kevan, advances that idea that Tyrion and his squadron of wildlings should be in the vanguard.
Why didn’t Tywin just force Tyrion to take the black like Sam’s father did? Would that be beneath Lannister pride?
When Tyrion lets his dubiousness show, they question the ferocity of his men. Tyrion points out that when you have Name Son of Name type people under your command ferocity isn’t the issue, discipline is. You pretty much just point them in the direction of your enemies and hope they exhaust their ferocity before you run out of enemies.
To add insult to injury, Tywin finally reveals that Tyrion isn’t even going to be the vanguard commander, he’ll serve under G. Clegane. You know what, all jokes about Tyrion’s height become moot when G. Clegane shows up in the conversation. Nobody’s big when compared to the Mountain That Rides.
Having had all of his father’s hospitality that he can stomach for one evening, Tyrion walks off into the camp. He finds his way back to the fire near his own tent, where Bronn and Tyrion’s new servants and squire have been joined by a girl. The girl, Shae, immediately proves herself to be “saucy,” that is to say she talks back but only in a way that sexualizes her further. Apparently, Tyrion added “procurer of whores” to the list of Bronn’s duties — now you know it’s a true bromance — and Shae is the result.
Tyrion is pleased enough with her looks and her skills. When he’s taking care of natural physical after-sex urges, he finds Bronn still awake. I’m honestly tempted to just transcribe their conversations verbatim, they’re amusing and hard to improve upon. Tyrion thanks Bronn for being such a good pimp, but is less pleased when he finds out the girl was taken from a knight with the weight of the Lannister name. I’m with Bronn on this one, though, you can’t come late to the party and expect the pretty, young camp followers to still be lounging around, waiting for you to ride into their lives. (Honestly, “I seem to recall saying find me a whore, not make me an enemy.” is still one of my favourite funny lines from the books.) Tyrion promises Bronn a reward for getting him through the upcoming battle alive. Oh, Tyrion, can’t you see your love and affection is all Bronn needs! Bronn makes an actually funny joke about Tyrion’s stature (anti-vanguard archers will have a hell of a time aiming for him) and that’s Tyrion’s cue to go back to someone who’s paid to tell him what a big boy he is.
His awakening is far less pleasant: Robb has managed to sneak up on them and the camp is being roused in a hurry. Tyrion puts on his mismatched and ill-fitting Frankenstein’s-monster armour, orders Shae to mourn him should he die (she sasses him), orders his squire to see her safely home in the same contingency (he says nothing), and rides off to battle.
The Lannister forces consist of various parts. It’s all very warlike and medieval. Upon Tyrion’s arrival, G. Clegane assigns him the task of holding the river. When Tyrion relays this order to his wildling squadron, it looks like this:
Then a battle happens. Mostly uninteresting until Tyrion disembowels a horse with his helm. Badass, am I right? It appears that the Lannisters won. Should I be cheering for Tyrion or be upset on Robb’s behalf? I’m so conflicted right now.
The victory is not complete: Tyrion’s forces did too well, and didn’t lure Robb into a trap. It seems Robb wouldn’t have fallen for it anyway, although some of the Stark commanders have been capture, Robb himself did not do the stupid Ned thing (get captured on principle) and is instead riding back to Riverrun to regroup. I sense Catelyn’s pragmatism in this. We’ll find out for sure in the next chapter, when we get the Stark side of the story.