[Red Pen Reads] A Game of Thrones – Eddard and Catelyn

For someone who doesn’t want the throne, Robert sure is intense about keeping it. He’s raging up a storm about Dany being pregnant and demanding all the Targaryen heads on a silver platter, including the unborn one. Ned’s the only member of the council to point out the moral ambiguity of murder. Except that he keeps on calling Dany a child and it’s squicking me out. I mean, I’m generally squicked out whenever I think too much about her age, but even more so when the characters in the book don’t even consider her an adult by their own fucked up standards.

Robert’s so worked up that even the “honour” watchword won’t slow him down, he’ll take the dishonour as long as he gets what he wants. It’s a very practical viewpoint, if only it was channelled in a less homicidal direction. Ned points out that Jorah Mormont is untrustworthy, that Dany might miscarry, that the child might be stillborn, or die in infancy, or be a girl. I’m not sure what he’s arguing, exactly, is killing a mother and her little boy a better choice than killing a pregnant woman? Ned’s real point and possibly his real problem with the whole thing is that fifteen years after the fact, Robert is still letting his hatred of Rhaegar define his life’s choices.

Robert puts it to a vote: Ser Barristan and Ned are against, everyone else is for. Some make a show of calling it distasteful but necessary politics. Varys suggests using the same poison that he told Ned killed Jon Arryn. Robert, after making such a show of not caring about the dishonour of killing a fourteen-year-old girl, has weapons-wielding manly qualms about using poison. Ned pipes up with his “he who passes the sentence must be the executioner” mantra. When it was about Lady, it was fitting, now it’s just annoying. Shut up, Ned. That’s Robert’s reaction too, so Ned decides to match Robert hissy fit for hissy fit. They’ve regressed so far back in maturity at this point in the conversation that it ends with an “I quit!” “You can’t quit, I’m firing you!” exchange and Ned storms out.

Ned is making actual arrangements to leave King’s Landing when Littlefinger strolls in. He treats Ned’s temper tantrum with an appropriate mixture of obliviousness and disdain and points out that Ned’s huffing and puffing did nothing to save Dany, while his (Littlefinger’s) idea to basically post a “Wanted” notice offering a title as a reward will probably lead to a mucked up attempt which will then put the Dothraki on their guard. That’s the way he spins it, anyway. Then he invites Ned on a male bonding outing to a brothel.

Catelyn is reflecting on her own growing bitchiness because she isn’t weeping in sorrow over the deaths (there were three more since the last chapter) it took to get her and her captive safely to the Vale of Arryn. Catelyn, believe me when I say that this isn’t the most heinous thing about you. I hope that is a comfort to you.

Catelyn is happy to find her uncle, Brynden Tully, in the valley. Leaving the wounded Ser Rodrik behind, Catelyn, Tyrion, Marillion the singer, and Bronn the sellsword ascend to the Eyrie, accompanied by Brynden and his men. Catelyn’s unhappy with the chumminess between Tyrion and Bronn, but having granted Marillion permission to come with, she couldn’t find a gracious way not to let Bronn come too. I’m honestly not sure why Catelyn would have any problems telling anyone to fuck off, so it reads a little like a device to get Bronn to the Eyrie when technically the convoy services for which he originally signed up are no longer needed.

Catelyn brings Brynden up to speed on the shady happenings in the kingdom and he fills her in on the current situation in the Vale. The people are angry that Jaime Lannister was named Warden of the East after Jon’s death, Lysa was very insulted on behalf of her son. Many suspect that not all was natural about Arryn’s death. To make matters worse, Little Robert Arryn, a child of six, is a less than satisfactory heir: sickly, weak, and apparently lacking in manliness. I would advise taking him to witness an execution, but we’ll soon learn that if anything, lack of execution-witnessing is certainly not the problem.

Lysa is ostensibly not opposed to remarrying, but now that she’s free to choose for herself, she’s being picky. There are many things for which to despite or blame Lysa, but in concept this isn’t one of them. Key words: in concept. In any case, Brynden believes she plans to be the regent herself and he doesn’t like the idea. He warns Catelyn that Lysa’s trouble years since the sisters last saw each other have taken their toll.

They reach the mountain by nightfall and plan to hunker down for the night in the Gates of the Moon, but apparently Lysa has sent instructions for Catelyn to be brought up right away. The ascent is dangerous and harsh even during the day, but Catelyn’s guide promises to deliver her safely. The guide is Mya Stone, Robert’s first child. Catelyn doesn’t know the “Robert” part, of course, but the surname Stone is an indication of illegitimacy the same way Snow is in the north (every realm has a symbolic last name for children born out of wedlock). It’s not enough that Catelyn hates Jon, she hates other illegitimate children for reminding her that Jon exists. I was starting to wonder if I should stop calling Ghost FYC, but now I’m reminded of how much I hate her. Thanks, GRRM, that was good timing.

They make their way up on mules, Mya chatting about her boyfriend while Catelyn thinks to herself that judging by his surname the boy is too high born to marry a Stone. Why would Catelyn know the surname of every minor noble house in a land to which she has almost no connection? Does she know every noble House in the Seven Kingdoms by name? Is that mandatory Highborn Lady education? At one point, when they’re talking about how far down the mountain the snow begins, Catelyn almost tells Mya that “winter is coming.” If she thinks it but doesn’t say it, do we still have to drink? Oh, might as well, maybe it will make this chapter go faster, it’s starting to drag. At the last checkpoint, there are three: Stone, Snow, and Sky, and the mules don’t go past Sky, Catelyn opts to be lifted in a basket rather than climb on foot.  So she’s finally in the Eyrie. Can things start happening now, please?

Catelyn and Lysa finally meet face to face, with Lysa being outwardly welcoming, running to hug her sister. Catelyn has some probably true but unkind thoughts about her little sister’s appearance. Lysa’s own sisterly affection is an act put on for the benefit of the Maester and other random people, once they’re left alone, she drops it. She’s not so much happy to see Catelyn as furious that Catelyn brought a Lannister with her. Before their quarrel can gain steam, they’re interrupted by Lysa’s son Robert. Lysa coos over her baby boy and yells at Catelyn for talking about Mean Scary Lannisters in front of her delicately-tempered ickle bobbikins. Hearing his mother snap that he’s being scared, Ickle Bobbikins dutifully drops his doll and starts trembling in fear. Lysa has him dry nurse for comfort. Did I mention he’s six? I’m sure I mentioned he’s six. Nipples and parenting controversy? The HBO show had a ball with this little tidbit, let me tell you. Catelyn silently compares Ickle Bobbikins to three-year-old Rickon, whom she calls “fierce.” I wouldn’t go that far, Catelyn, remember, he was the kid who disappointed Ned by being wary of his new monster pet.

Lysa has complete faith in the Eyrie’s impregnability, the only question in her mind is what to do with Tyrion. Ickle Bobbikins has a suggestion: they should make the bad man fly! From the Eyrie. The impregnable fortress on top of a very tall mountain. See, I told you lack of execution-witnessing was not the problem.

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