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Playin’ with Ice and Fire – A Game of Thoughts | Catelyn Stark Chapter 14

February 13
a game of thrones

 

It’s been a long time.We should have never left you. Without a dope post to step to. Forgot about us? She’s new, I’m the re-reader. She’s the nubile newbie, I’m the spoilery vet. Together we are rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on.  We return covering everyone’s favorite character, Catelyn Stark!

A Game of Thrones Chapter by Chapter Read and React

Elena –

My comment to Jay upon finishing this chapter was, “I figured out why I don’t like Catelyn; she makes emotion based decisions. “My marginal comment of the chapter was “Catelyn…not exactly a steel magnolia.”

I think last Catelyn chapter I was still lukewarm on her; I’ve decided now that I actively dislike her.  Perhaps I even despise her.  She and I just have fundamentally different ways of looking at the world and dealing with what it throws at us, and I think she is weak, and I judge her for it.

Shall we jump into the specifics?

First of all, what I mean by the steel magnolia thing.  The term is for that strong (Southern) woman who holds the family together in a crisis, who keeps everybody calm, keeps everybody focused, keeps shit rolling–you know, basically is the anchor of the family.  Obviously Catelyn is not that type.  She completely loses herself in her grief for Bran:  she disavows any responsibility for taking care of herself, even, much less someone else; she offers no comfort to any of her other children or her husband; she offers no support for her husband or any other member of the family or household in dealing with the royal visit; she barely even notices when they leave because she’s so subsumed in her own grief.  She basically becomes unable to function.  So obviously she’s not the strong type who holds everything together for herself and everyone else.  (Guess there’s not meant to be a correlation between the south that the Tully’s live in and the American South, since that is the land of the steel magnolia and the matriarchal tradition on the social side).  So that’s part of this–being a Southern girl, myself, I have little respect for Catelyn for this behavior.  I understand that mothers grieve, and I understand that it has to be hard to have a child sick and near to dying, but I also personally have been in the position of offering comfort while I was also grieving myself; it can be done, and it’s not that hard to do if you have some modicum of self-awareness.  (And to any of you who want to say “you just haven’t been there with your own child, and this comment makes that obvious,” go for it, I guarantee you won’t say anything worse than got said to me after my review of Remember Me, lol.)  Anyway, I think it’s very selfish of her to literally take only her mother’s love into account.  It’s selfish of her to devote herself only to watching over her sick child, because that allows her to feel only her grief and her fear, and not actually have to push that aside in order to offer comfort to her other children (who have to be scared and grieving, themselves), to her husband (also must be, etc.), to anyone besides herself.  Basically she’s being entirely selfish.  And I don’t necessarily think all selfishness is bad; a bit of it is necessary to maintain one’s self-identity, and to keep oneself sane and grounded and happy.  But this is a weak sort of selfishness, a childish fit of self-indulgence that no one is willing to call her out on because a mother’s love is sacrosanct or something.  Bullshit.  This bitch has four other fucking children who probably needed a hug or two from their mother throughout the weeks that she spent in Bran’s room, and she pushed them away in favor of her own agony.

All that was bad enough.  But then came the part where Catelyn finally comes out of her fog of grief and realizes that someone had actually tried to kill her son, that his fall therefore hadn’t been an accident, and deduces from context clues that it was Jaime Lannister (I’m going to come back to her logic on that in a bit, don’t worry).  I don’t disagree with her assessment that somebody has to go tell Ned about this…where she loses me is her decision to go handle this herself.  This despite the fact that Ned asked her to stay specifically to watch after Winterfell, this despite the fact that her 14-year-old son is having to be man of the house for the first time and having to make decisions for her because she has abdicated all responsibility and won’t make any decisions herself.

Side note on that–it has to be really hard for Robb to have to make decisions and yet still be accountable to someone else for them.  It would be one thing if his father had died and he had become lord of Winterfell, and, sink or swim, it’s his responsibility, his choices, his decisions, and he’s not answerable to anybody except himself.  In that case he would have to face the consequences if he failed, but that’s part and parcel of being Winterfell.  Okay. That’s fine.  But he’s not in that position; he’s in the position of having all the responsibility and none of the freedom that comes with being his own man.  He’s answerable to his father if he fucks something up, despite the fact that his mother wouldn’t make a decision and he had to make the best choice he could; he’s still answerable to someone else.  That’s kind of a fearful position, to have to make all the choices and yet still have someone who could get really mad at you if it turns out to be the wrong choice; it’s not a matter of just dealing with the consequences of the bad decision, but also the anger of the person who is losing something because of that bad decision.  I think it’s always easier to deal with consequences you bring on yourself, not those someone else brought on you or that you brought on someone else; there’s a strange comfort in having only yourself to blame when shit goes wrong.  Poor Robb doesn’t have that; his father didn’t give him the power–just the responsibility.  So I think it’s really shitty that Catelyn is doing to Robb, putting him in that position because she is too cowardly to be a leader.

And that’s what she’s doing.  She goes herself because she can’t accept responsibility–she’s not going to accept the guilt if something happens to one of those young men while they’re on this mission for her; she’s not going to trust someone else to do it for her; she’s refusing to actually be a leader.

Beyond that unwillingness to accept the guilt that would come from sending someone on a potentially fatal mission, Catelyn isn’t even acting out of any sense of responsibility, that she really is the only one who can deliver this message to Ned.  Any of the others could, and she knows it the same as her captain of the guard knows it.  She wants to do it, because she’s spiteful, and she wants revenge on the man who tried to kill her son.  Understandable enough, I guess, but, again, selfish.  And where is all of her “Bran needs me, oh, I can’t leave him, what if he wakes up and I’m not there, what if he dies and I’m not there” now?–that just magically went away after her restorative sleep?  Really?  So apparently she’s incapable of feeling more than one emotion at a time.  Which just makes her seem like a simpleton to me, but obviously by this point I’m not forgiving her anything.

I find it incomprehensible that Ned doesn’t have a better understanding of his wife’s character when they’ve been married for 15 years, that he actually thought she would be capable of being a leader in his absence.  It seems odd to me that he wouldn’t by this point have seen some example of behavior from her that might have told him she wouldn’t be able to handle it.

All I can say is, Ned really got the shit end of the stick having to marry her.  Not even because she’s so terrible, as far as women go–I think a lot of people, including plenty of females, are like this–but because I think they have essentially antithetical philosophies.  He is a Stoic, and she is an Epicurean, and I am not sure that pairing can ever have a truly happy marriage.  I am using these terms in their original senses, by the way, that to be Stoic is not to blindly accept your lot in life as unchangeable but to take the world and life as it comes and worry about changing only what is in your power to change (versus trying to change things you can’t, or giving up and doing nothing because of things that are beyond your control); and to be an Epicurean is to avoid pain (including an excess of pleasure, if it could lead to pain…such as drinking too much and then suffering a hangover).  Clearly to Catelyn guilt is the worst emotion she could suffer, so she refuses to risk the guilt of “abandoning” her son when she stays with Bran despite the physical distress that puts her in, and she chooses to avoid the potential guilt of getting Robb or Theon Grayjoy or one of the others killed on her mission by deciding to go herself.  And to me, there is a certain amount of weakness in the avoidance at all costs of things that you find unpleasant, a certain inability to just deal with the world that I find, well, pathetic.  It’s why I find Robert pathetic, as well, that he seems unable to deal with the fact that he is king and his role in the world has changed (but that’s another post).  And while I might swing toward Stoicism, I don’t think I’m nearly as prime an exemplar of the philosophy as Ned Stark is, so I can only imagine what he really, deep down, thinks about his wife’s antics.

Finally, as promised, I want to come back to the issue of Catelyn’s logic (or, you know, “logic”) about just who it was after her son.  Here was the line of thought that I had in my initial run-down of thoughts on his chapter (just talked out into my recorder during a commute to work one morning):

“And one other final note is that I think little old Lannister really kind of fucked up with having the assassin go try and kill Bran.  Because, you know, one way or another if the library’s burning and then Bran’s murdered in his bed, regardless of whether they catch the guy or find the knife, that’s really obvious, and they’re going to think about who was there the day he fell and who might have had a reason to push him, and it’s going to come back to him one way or another. So that was kind of stupid on his part.  On the one hand I understand wanting to tie up the loose end, but on the other hand, really all it’s going to do is throw suspicion back on himself.  Did he not realize that?  Did he not think that through?  I don’t know.  But it seemed kind of a bad move on his part.”

All of which still essentially holds, except that I have since thought about it furthered and wondered, WAS IT JAIME?!

I don’t think it was.  I had to go back and read the assassin’s 3 lines of speech very carefully to make sure there was nothing said like “HE told me there’d be no one here,” and there was not.  There was no direct attribution to so much as a gender of who gave him the information and the job, and I think that means it was Cersei.  For several reasons.  First, in the conversation we overheard with Tyrion, she is much more concerned about Bran waking up than Jaime is, so she seems more likely to take action to make sure he doesn’t wake up.  Second, that careful omission on Martin’s part is probably for a reason.  Third, it does NOT seem like a dude thing to give a fine blade away.  (a) A lord would have enough money to pay an assassin in gold, not in kind, whereas a lady might not, if all she has is pin money; (b) a lord is probably going to have some sentimental attachment to a knife–it’s his lucky blade, it was his father’s blade, it was the first thing he bought when he was his own man with money to spend, etc.–and therefore not give it up to someone; (c) a lord is probably going to realize that giving an assassin a blade that could be traced back to him is just plain stupid because he would know what an expensive knife cost and that a raggedy man wouldn’t be able to afford one, which a lady might not if the knife was given to the assassin for reasons other than being part of his payment (see points d-e); (d) a lord is probably going to be able to pick and choose his assassin and thereby find one with his own weapons, whereas a lady might be scraping the dregs of men she casually encounters, or she might have just one opportunity to go out unobserved, and must take what she can get, even if that means hiring someone for whom she has to supply a weapon; and (e) a lord is probably not going to want the sinister poeticism of having the target killed by his own knife, whereas I can more easily see a lady such as, say, Cersei getting off on the idea that a Lannister enemy is killed with a Lannister blade.  This was one of those insights that once it occurred to me, I couldn’t let go of.  Maybe I’m wrong.  I assume we’ll find out who really sent the man…eventually….

– 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 –

Man.

I wish we could have made our return on any other character because from the very beginning I knew that Catelyn, particularly early, was going to pose a problem. A little disclosure (was going to save this for the Making Of PwIaF Blue Ray) but before I thought of the idea of wonder twin power this series,  I began to map out my own reread and it was Catelyn who made me realize that I needed to bring another person in to make this project kick. When you can’t run, you crawl, and when you can’t crawl – when you can’t do that… You find someone to carry you. Catelyn is a drag. So you have Catelyn to thank for Elena, who if you read above, is all thankless about it! She gets nice here even though she’s completely wrong, something that speaks to the strength of the writing.

I’m not tired of reading about Catelyn but I am getting tired of writing about her. One thing that I’ve noticed about this reread and what I’m to have to avoid (as the rereader specifically) is ignoring the piling on. With Catelyn it’s tough not to be repetitive, and while I’m interested in reading Elena’s first go-around with the character to see if there is an evolution regarding her initial impressions of her, I find little joy in repeating a case for or against Catelyn each and everytime I’m confronted with one of her chapters. She has her moments, but the old saying regarding first impressions runs amazingly true with Catelyn, so much saw I hated seeing her circumvent death even for reasons beyond having one of the great death scenes in fiction taken from us. I’ve said that before, let me take it further and say I thought her death redeemed her. Not from the perspective of the story or for those around her, but from the outside looking. She had an end that a reader has to acknowledge, one that forces us to think, That Catelyn? She’s all right. Martin made her the voice of dissent in the course of action that led to Robb’s fall, and before that we get the pretty nice read of her sizing up Renly and “the chivalry of the South”. It wasn’t enough yet, but the walking, breathing mistake was put in a spot…and something interesting happens. Catelyn gets Eastwood. We’ve seen it before and though I’m cautious in crediting someone with gumption when their own self preservation is in play but let’s give her some credit…she’s not a punk when weapons are unsheathed.  We see this here, on the road with Tyrion and in her end. She’s straight hardcore when it’s all on the line. You compare that to Cersei’s bravado concerning what’s not afforded her because she isn’t a man and then picture her just sitting (with among other people, Sansa) waiting for the battle (men) to either end them or save them, and you have to admire Ned’s wife.

But I don’t.

Cersei does a lot of thinking and Catelyn does a lot of doing, often with similar results. Right now Catelyn is someone presented to us as being the one who pushes Ned to take Handship, someone who opposes Jon, and somebody not up to task- any tasks.  I tend to again marvel at characterization because there is actually choice here, and there is division in the fandom. Martin doesn’t paint a terrible woman for us, indeed to some she is normal or even optimal. There are reasonable and functional people in life we do not like. We don’t, however, meet too many in fantasy novels that have significant face time.  Elena touches on what George gives us to possibly cloud our evaluation of Catelyn and it’s easy and may even be right to roll with it, and perhaps Martin is exposing readers who want to look beyond and find a reason to hate her, labeling us in the process. What I do dig is this the reality that we are and are perceived by how we affect others. Elena chooses to feel for Ned and the Catelyn burden. Catelyn makes her – a woman – feel sorry for Ned.

Immediately established for us by in the very beginning of this chapter we have Maester Luwin – responsibility – in our stead imploring Catelyn to look to her other duties…to the rest of her family. This of course is a trap, one of the trapdoors I discussed earlier. While Elena see’s the immediate repercussions, the deepest cut is that Catelyn’s failure accomplishes making Robb someone we are drawn to. In the span of a single page, we feel for Rob. We are already inclined to like Rob because the way he treats Jon, but we are now firmly on his team and no longer  validated just through Jon, just a figure in his half-brother’s  story.   When you couple this with the occurrences of the previous chapter (Tyrion) we see Jon taking in the real world as well…the Stark boys enter the Game. Robb is the Stark in Winterfell. It’s true, even Catelyn says it right as she (as Elena points out) cut his balls out from under him. To his credit, Robb overcomes. One day a boy who probably thought he had had years to be groomed (North is isolated and we know Ned didn’t leave much and would have been rather safe) to the Lord of one of the 7 kingdoms —that has to make him one of the dozen or so most important people on the continent. I get stressed out when some sorry tennis match delays the airing of Mike and Mike, so I can only guess what Robb is going through is Mcflyian heavy.

You know where I think we are the most genuine?  Our filenames on personal computers. My document for this chapter was titled “CatelynWackness”, so I feel somewhat vindicated that Elena and the Throne are as one when it comes to her. She points out a lot of what I’ve mentioned before in previous posts and what we’ve haggled about in comments.  As Elena said, the enormity of GRRM’s grief card – one many of us cannot possibly relate to and only horror at – is still not, cannot, be enough to discount or be an excuse for everything she does. It’s not just what she does either. It’s why. I may not agree with Elena on the why, but even worse, for some reason I want to. I always take the Metal/Baratheon analogy and apply them to other families. We’d probably have to invent or discover some new shit for Catelyn. These passages lay next to each other in the chapter but I’m just going to flip the order real quick:

Catelyn had always thought Robb looked like her; like Bran and Rickon and Sansa, he had the Tully coloring, the auburn hair, the blue eyes. Yet now for the first time she saw something of Eddard Stark in his face, something as stern and hard as the north.

That’s the look Rob has when he said:

Motherfucker, what are you doing?”

Her answer doesn’t reveal somebody who is delusional or unsure. It reveals somebody, as Elena has pointed out, who has checked out. She answers Rob as if she’s appalled at the question. When I read this paragraph what struck me was the concept of the “mother” . I don’t know why and I don’t know if it was because Catelyn was so dialed in or the exact opposite.

She had begged Ned not to go, not now, not after what had happened; everything had changed now, couldn’t he see that? It was no use. He had no choice, he had told her, and then he left, choosing

So, it’s put on Ned.

Catelyn then  literally trips and falls down on her own wrongdomdumb.

I can’t stand it, make them stop, make them stop, kill them all if

you must, just make them stop !”

She didn’t remember falling to the floor, but there she was, and Robb was lifting her, holding her in strong arms

We all know that one of those very same wolves would play a role in saving her and Bran’s life. One thing for sure though is that she’s isn’t dense after seeing something and freely admit she was wrong, essentially making the dire wolves official with her approval of them.

I don’t know why, but I found it interesting that the library was the building set aflame. Obviously it would seem a choice and convenient place to start a fire for several reasons, but I just found it interesting just having read about Tyrion pulling a book from the very same library, a book that was about dragons that prompted a talk about Targaryens.

“No,” she told him. “Your place is here. There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.” She looked at Ser Rodrik with his great white whiskers, at Maester Luwin in his grey robes, at young Greyjoy, lean and dark and impetuous. Who to send? Who would be believed? Then she knew. Catelyn struggled to push back the blankets, her bandaged fingers as stiff and unyielding as stone. She climbed out of bed. “I must go myself.

First I want to point out “stone”, which I thought was interesting considering the future Lady Stoneheart.

We’ve talked about this before in comment threads to previous installments, but I don’t understand why Cateyln has to be the one who has to go tell Ned. It’s not logical or even practical. If anything her being the choice is the single dumbest beyond sending Robb himself. Catelyn impressively and seamlessly goes from chosen pathetic inactivity to purposeful and assertive dumb, both however are choices that put more stress on her charge. The latter is worse because she goes running back to Ned and starts a series of events that will put her son in a position of power and vulnerability in a war. While I guess several “what ifs?” can be played out with every character, I just feel that Catelyn’s, perhaps because they are so early in the book/series, are so demanding to be asked and critiqued because she should have just stayed her ass where her LORD husband told her to stay for the VERY reason he told her to do so like 15 minutes ago! That’s not “woman, listen to man”, it’s just pro-common sense. I always feel like that if we were able to know Ned’s thoughts 5 minutes before or after we see him in his cell scene with Varys we’d catch him (like I would be) thinking, damn Brandon, you really fucked our entire family leaving me this one.

If I’m being honest about relaying my re-read experience I find myself with a very real desire to be past the Tyrion abduction just so there’s something else to talk about because in some way I’ve always found Catelyn leaving Winterfell as one of the most contrived aspects of the series, something that had to happen to propel the Tyrion situation and to meet her sister but just made no sense. The problem is that Martin is known for being “realistic”, so anytime you point out such examples the argument of “not everything that happens or what people do makes sense”, which of course is true but it’s probably the single part of the series that I identify as very hard to wrap my head around so I have to make an excuse – part of my autodefense of the series – to just say Catelyn is dumb. I fight for it because her being dumb is better than contrived storytelling. Part of me wonders if originally Catelyn was always meant to survive this book because I can see her as being this central figure in this core of characters we are introduced to whose death would mean several different (and even interesting) things to different people. A bastard that isn’t hers, a daughter who left her angry, a crippled son, a young Lord etc, etc.  When I think that, however, it does strike me as perhaps too easy but even considering it speaks to my own difficulty in Catelyn leaving Winterfell, and the insistence that she was the only one who could accomplish the “mission”. Italian mail service couldn’t mess this one up and THAT’s saying something.

“No,” Catelyn said. “A large party attracts unwelcome attention. I would not have the

Lannisters know I am coming.”

Who…what bandits or sellswords (we’d assume the Lannisters or their known allies – in this fantasy hypothesis – wouldn’t attack themselves) would attack the standard of the Hand of the King and Warden of the North, a guy who is known for going personally to beat people’s asses and cutting heads, and in some corners defeating the Sword of the damn Morning (not saying it’s true or not) and is  the King’s BFF? A family who by the way has just announced betrothal to the royal line? Catelyn reacts as if she lived her life as a second class  citizen or as a part of some oppressed middle class – she’s the wife of one of the most powerful Lords in the Realm, the daughter of another, and now the mother of the future Queen. What her reactions do accomplish is cement the thought that the Lannisters are the antagonists, which a new reader at this stage would have no reason to not believe. Further, in previous comment threads some of our readers put forth the idea that Catelyn is later well with in her in rights to arrest Tyrion, being a lady of high station. While I completely  disagree with the tact in doing it, I do agree with the thought of her status as a high lady of the Kingdom (in that very specific set of circumstances). Why not act like it here? She oddly goes real “Arya” here when she’s always more favors Sansa. Let’s be honest, the Sansa model stays at home and orders people to do what they are trained to do. That’s normal.

Lord Eddard is a second father to me,” said Theon Greyjoy. “I do so swear.”

“My lady, if it comes to that, my House owes yours a great debt.”

If you consider Theon we really never have any reason to believe he isn’t a great dude excluding that he doesn’t like Jon (which happens). I actually like Theon and think he played it straight until he had no other choice but to die, and that’s not really much of a choice. More Theon later because I know people think he’s a scumbag from the beginning, but I don’t agree.

I do want to make clear that I don’t dislike the chapter, book or series. I don’t even dislike Catelyn. I merely like disliking a character. That’s a win, especially when you consider Catelyn’s plight. One of most interesting things about her, something that Martin makes you forget, is that Catelyn is hot. If you consider how much physical appearance is so often noted (Catelyn, Margaery, Dany, Sansa, Cersei) beyond their introductions, we kind of forget that Catelyn is a bit of a middle-aged catch. Past her prime for sure, but between Petyr’s fantasies and the reminders that Sansa favors her mother we know that Cat is attractive, yet we don’t really get this, whether she’s paired with the Tyrion or the ‘magnificent beast” Jaime.  There is a lack of  (supreme) vanity that I’ve never really picked up and it’s a credit to her that it doesn’t overwhelm her POV as it does some others. Even happenstance shields us from it, as when she’s sent to – a position that could possibly be aided by her station and looks – she gets sent to parlay with the gay claimant to the throne. I don’t even recall if her availability was ever broached post-Ned (though it might have been mentioned—probably by a Frey!). I like to remember Catelyn as a badass Aegon throat slitting MILF, but neither this re-read or memories of impending zombie bullshit will allow me to do so.

The first hundred some odd pages we have very little that resembles a quest, and what we do have that hints to that amounts to something rather childish and, yes, fun: secret messages sent between sisters.  Instead, Martin focuses on relationships and the differing and fluctuating depth of their orbit(s) between each character we meet (and don’t/haven’t). He world-builds without statues and monuments, preferring to do so with people, by people.  This is not more evident anywhere than regarding the mystery man who sent the murderer. Consider that kid, his motives, how pure (crazy) they are and then the dynamics behind them. Completely mundane. Completely fantastic for it. BTW does anyone out there feel the need to be the person who thinks Littlefinger is behind everything? I think this act by Joff is much more effective if it was his move alone.

If you look at one of the quotes above, Catelyn sizes up the men in that room and picks herself. The oddity is that she limited herself to those men was odd in itself, even more, only Rodrick or Theon were viable choices to being with. The Maester wasn’t going to leave, nor should Robb, but what’s wrong with sending Roderick with a full armed escort AND I would have sent a crow letting people publicly know a Stark contingent was on its way to King’s Landing. What do you lose again? Hell, you could send Theon, because if he’s with Northerners I seriously doubt he’d even consider treachery (and like I said, I think he was playing the Stark straight to this point). Of course, Catelyn not choosing Theon comes back into play later and seems to justify this moment, but it really doesn’t.

Next? Sansa. I like her. Thank you for coming back.

Oh, and guess what? We’ve kind of completely forgotten about the whole prologue already, right?

  1. I believe when Catelyn said “she doesn’t want to attract attentions from the Lannisters”, she meant she wouldn’t want to direct the Lannisters attention to her husband, and she doesn’t provide the Lannisters with evidence that the Starks are “plotting” against the Lannisters. It’a known that the Starks don’t go along with the Lannisters but somehow, in her mind, her going south for her Lord husband openly is to provoke open hostility from the Lannisters. It’s not entirely nutcase, imo. Since her injury would be openly known and their suspect can only be directed at the Lannisters. She wanted to remain as inconspicuous as possible and that’s one of the reasons when she confronted Tyrion she had to capture him. (Though I suspect the hatred for the Lannisters accounted largely for the reason.)

  2. @Elena: Once again you bring some really interesting perspectives, and once again the discussion I’m opening will involve spoilers. Sorry.

    So the spoilers start here:

    Elena notes that Catelyn effectively abandons Robb to make his own decisions. Later in the series, she complains that he isn’t listening to her advice, but can anyone blaim him, given the series of events in this chapter?

    Also Jay, you’re right about how silly it is for Catelyn to go herself. Ser Rodrik seems to be just as trustworthy a guy as you could wish, and while he might not be a sharp schemer he doesn’t need to be. If Catelyn had gone south permanently to help Ned play the game it would have made some kind of sense (they could say to everyone that Robb was doing a great job and didn’t need to be smothered by his mother), but she’s just a glorified messenger.

  3. Elena, nothing below is spoilerific.

    @Anders it’s one the few moments that really work against me getting Catelyn. I can’t think of a single reason for her to go.

    @JD so if she doesn’t want anyone to know about her injuries, why does she decide to go to Kings landing herself?

    I do want to add that I feel like the Stark/Lannister animosity is much more sensitive in one direction. I don’t think Tywin sits around and actively considers the Starks as his enemies, but that’s just me. Sure, the fact that Ned has been named Hand puts him on the board, but I don’t get this Atreides-Harkonnen type feud vibe.

  4. One thing I always wondered was why Catelyn couldn’t have used the need to send news about Bran’s condition to hide sending the news about the library burning, the attempt on Bran’s life, and the original murder attempt. I just couldn’t figure out why she was whining about not letting the Lannisters know what was up. In short, I agree with Elena that Catelyn’s decision was based less on thinking through the choices and more on what she wanted.

    I also thought she was a fairly selfish woman from the first. She struck me as petty in the way she treated not only Jon, but also Theon. She even seems jealous of Ned’s friendship with Robert and his devotion to the old gods.

  5. No spoilers here.

    I think Elena hit the nail on the head with her assessment of Catelyn. As I was reading, it struck me how insightful that actually is – and I understand it completely, because my significant other has the same type of personality. I’m surprised I never noticed before – I’ve always accepted Catelyn as-is, without additional thought.

    * She can be incredibly, overwhelmingly emotional, to the point of being unable to cope with whatever else is going on around her;

    * When not overwhelmed, can be very take-charge, can get things done, very competent.

    I suspect this personality type is hard to imagine for many people unless you’ve actually known someone like this – otherwise, it’s very easy to dismiss Catelyn’s behavior as being over-the-top unbelievable, with no other objective than to server the story. If I had never met anyone with this personality type I’d likely be thinking ‘Knock it off, just get your shit together.’

    Instead, Catelyn’s extreme reactions, as well as her thought process when she snaps out of it, don’t seem so unusual to me. We may not agree with her decisions, as they are made from a very emotional center, but I’ve always thought they made sense given her characterization.

    Even the decision to go to King’s Landing herself… Irresponsible? Possibly. Unnecessary? Sure. But the news is distressing and there are few people who can be trusted with it. The more people know, the greater chance that the information slips out. A large party would be full of people asking questions, wondering why the trip is necessary. Making the assumption that an “official” trip would have awkward questions being asked by other players in the realm, would likely raise suspicion, and possibly have her adversaries working on their next moves. So she’s falling back into take-charge mode, going herself with only one escort.

  6. > Even the decision to go to King’s Landing herself… Irresponsible? Possibly. Unnecessary? Sure

    Meaning, from our perspective. Not from hers – but that’s my point. I totally buy her thought process in making this decision.

  7. Woot!! It’s back! I almost missed it!!

    @Elena, I love ya!! You described Cat in a nutshell better than I’ve ever heard! You quite accurately verbalized my own contempt for her (I’m a southern gal myself!) When I felt guilty hating on her. I thought my not being a mother made too much of a difference, but I have heard from my mother about my grandmother’s grief when she lost a child. Grandma didn’t stop being who she was, she organized the wake by all accounts. This is another case of Cat’s clear favoritism showing, and it’s not pretty to see her “check out” as you and Jay both described.

    I also agree that what she does to Rob by leaving him again – this time physically – just sucks. Her selfishness in wanting to go isn’t limited to her want of revenge, she also wants to see Ned, though that simply underscores her obvious weakness even further. I hate hearing her tell herself to be as strong as the North, she isn’t and her actions prove it.

    This brings me to your assessment of Ned and Cat’s philosophical life views, and how different they are, which I found delightful! I share your puzzlement on how they’ve managed to make their marriage work tolerably well despite the huge differences in their thinking, and can only conclude that, divorce being non-existent, they had no other choice. I always wondered if Ned didn’t really just ignore Cat when she was being unpleasant…but I guess not, as they’re relationship is described warmly enough. I don’t get it!

    As to the assassin…OOOO!! I wish I could talk!! Eventually is right, but I can’t remember when, exactly. There’s so much I can’t wait to talk about with you!! 😀

    @Jay…whew! I’m typing up a storm! Anyway…

    On Tower of the Hand, we recently had a Top 30 Characters count down, and Cat was on it, at around number 28, I think. I always thought she made it there because she was a character most people love to hate, and so far I’m convinced I’m right. The woman frustrates me SO MUCH!! I cannot fathom her reasons for many things other than a temporary gratification of her own ego…WHAT would holding a trial on Tyrion Lannister accomplish?? She got several men killed doing that and still continued. Although, to be fair, she was out of choices by then. Does she even fathom the coolness of her husband taking the blame for her actions in King’s Landing? Is there any way I can get through this paragraph without calling her a dumbass??

    You’re right, this IS repetitive! Ok, let’s just address the basics: I do agree that if ol’ George had allowed Cat to stay dead, the manner of it (that cursed Red Wedding!) would have been…almost spectacular. A fitting tribute to a mother’s love and defense of her only remaining wolf cub. But NOOOO, instead we get undead freak of a Tully! On a side note; Michelle Fairley is going to look great as Zombie Cat!

    “Cersei does a lot of thinking and Catelyn does a lot of doing, often with similar results.”

    This quote proves you rock, sir!! I also like what you said about how Cat’s refusal to be responsible instantly makes us closer to Robb, and makes the Red Wedding that much more brutal. I can’t help but feel, in a nutshell, that Cat (and most of the Tullys, really) does her best, but is more often than not the biggest hindrance to anyone’s success, including her own. Whenever she starts crying that everything that happened is her fault, I angrily nod and agree! I may be wrong, but it’s how I feel about her. What I hate the most is that every bad decision she makes, from going south to freeing Jaime, just cascades with more and more dire consequences. But hardly ever to herself!

    Ok, repeating myself, and the post is LONG. Will be back later with more thoughts!

  8. @ Elena and other commenters:
    I find your analysis of Catelyn facinating, but got to wonder if the sentiment would be the same if she was a man.
    The idea of a woman being selfish because she does not sacrifice her feelings for her family seems to be deeply ingrained. But is she not her own being, not just the rock for the family to depend on?
    I dislike the self-sacrificing female trope immensley, so I find Catelyn’s actions much more satisfying.
    In fact, it is interesting to note that Catelyn would have been much more happy as the lord of Winterfell. She pushes for the Handship, she wants to go to the South. She is proactive, while Ned is reactive.

    Catelyn pushes against the restraints that her sex and her marriage traps her with. Of course she goes south with the message, she wanted to go all along and now she can. This is what SHE wants, not what everyone else forces her to do. I think Catelyn is trapped in a cold, deserted part of the world with a strange, if dutyful husband and 5 children by a man she did not choose. Why would she not desire to go to court and she the south again?

    Family, Duty, Honor. Take note of how much Catelyn repeats the Tully words to herself. It is her curse, trapping her from the life she wants, having to live through her children and her husband. I cannot condemn her for trying to escape it for a little while.

  9. @skyweir,
    I think you are at least partially right, but contrast her actions/reactions to Ned’s.
    In this circumstance, isn’t he the one being self-sacrificing? (Although, I don’t necessarily think in a good way)
    He loves his son, too. He loves his home and family. His sense of duty is so integral to his whole personality, and duty to the King in the South is way down on the list. And yet, Cat convinces him to go, against his own desires, even against his own instincts, I think.

    Trapped in marriage? Probably. In control of that marriage? Also probably.

    I don’t think that Cat “sacrifice[s] her feelings for her family”. In fact, it looks more to me like she sacrifices her family for her feelings. She wanted to go South, and she forced Ned AND Arya to go in her stead.

    I have been there with a member of the family in dire, but not dead yet, need, and frankly, it was hell. But the male members of the family had to suck it up every day and get out there and work. The female members didn’t leave toddlers on their own for days on end. No one selfishly appropriated the job of grieving as their own, and left everyone else out in the cold as Cat did. Been there…she didn’t need to be THE rock, but she sure needed to be more of one than she was. Poor Rickon…everyone gone but Robb and Cat. Cat doesn’t appear to love him and Robb tries, but can’t help him much.

  10. Nope, I would feel the same if she were a man. Her actions may have been against trope, but they didn’t help anyone, least of all her. The ONLY thing that was accomplished was that she got to help start a war, got her husband killed, clung to her elder son like a vine even though he didn’t really need her, Bran and Rickon DID. Perhaps that’s too tropey, but when gathered together, her advice to Robb was of minimal use and her younger sons needed her more. Oh, and she DID manage to exacerbate the whole Karstark situation.

    People are divided on Cat, and I can understand, but she makes me grit my teeth whenever I see her name. Being a man would have made me wonder how the hell she’d managed to keep hold of Winterfell.

  11. I have to go into spoiler territory here, so…

    SPOILERS:

    I don’t know, if Robb had just taken her advice more, he would not make a lot of stupid mistakes.
    Everyone blames Catelyn, the only voice of peace and reason in Robb’s court, but the fact is that Robb and the Greatjon loses the North by themselves. Tywin’s words ring true in the end, Robb is “a green boy, more likely to be brave than wise”. He attacks the West, he sends the Riverlords home, he sends Theon to Pyke, he marries Jeyne Westerling. All against Catelyn’s advice. Had the Starks retreated to Riverrun after the Whispering Woods and decleared for Renly, the Lannisters would have been finished.

    Robb and his father dooms the Realm to a terrible civil war because of pride and “honor”, but Catelyn gets a bad rep. because she wants to save her daugthers and wish to make more of her life than being a glorified nursemaid while her husband and son is away playing the Game of Thrones?

    Catelyn, at least, I can understand. Eddard, on the other hand, is a complete mystery to me. Each time I read the books, I despise him more.

  12. Instead of responding to previous comments i will ask just one question. And it’s completely spoilerfree too.

    Are weak and/or dumb people to be hated?

  13. I don’t know, I’m not sure I’d credit being proactive if I were Catelyn. She proacted herself into a war, one that probably would have happened anyway, but could have very well have happened with her and hers secured in the place of power with their allies. Being proactive or reactive is neither a positive or negative on its own.

    Now, if we are working under the possibility that Catelyn was actively trying to increase her families influence, well yeah that’s terrific, unfortunately (never mind that the Stark are terrible at this)it quickly turned into an issue of vengeance. It’s not uncalled for but it seems these two issues really butted heads with each other in this specific circumstance.

    SPOILERS

    While we know Ned is in adequate when he assumes the position, it strikes me at how it was never a consideration in her mind to heed his desires to stay. This is a man who has been tested and I think knows his limits, and beyond that seemed content and happy. Are we working under the assumption that catelyn was perhaps not? Oddly, one of the few times Ned was right, and he got “overruled” (granted he did have the final word) by the Catelyn-Luwin tag team.

    END SPOILERS

  14. I also wanted to note that I found it interesting that Robert knew Ned wanted no part of the Handship or (earlier) the crown. There is a reason he went home with no honors he didn’t have to begin with, as why wouldn’t he be on the Small Council if he desired it?

  15. I think dumb and weak people who are self aware are fine. Catelyn makes decisions that effect issues that are nothing less than realm shattering. This case isn’t exactly not being able to get a Jeapardy question right.

  16. I fundamentally understand Ned because he wanted to stay home.

    I’m not saying Catelyn brought anything on to herself originally, but it was quite clear she wanted in on everything, none of which that seemed like a good idea.

    hile her husband and son is away playing the Game of Thrones?

    She WANTED her husband too. He wanted to stay his ass at home

    I don’t buy forgiving Catelyn actions because she wanted to be more than what she was. Let’s forgive Cersei too because she wanted exactly the same thing – to be more.

    Will the same people give Tywin the same break?

  17. @elena

    i’m pretty sure if at any time in the series you are faced with Catelynn attempting to logic her way to a decision.. you will always be left confused and in disbelief.

    *spoilery*

    I totally agree with you Jay on the contrived feeling of Catelyn’s journey south. She needed to be out of the house so she could end up at Riverrun, so this is what happened. When I started my re-read the daunting prospect of reading Tyrion’s kidnapping again, and the “make them fly!” were the parts I least looked forward to getting to again. God I hate that little kid.

    Similarly, I’ve realized that my complete indifference to Robb is probably Catelyn’s fault. Do we ever get to hang out with Robb WITHOUT his mother around? Let him go woman.. push him forward, beyond you stop holdong on to him and expecting him to make the wrong decisions!

    Ok.. so maybe I have a favorite mother/son relationship in fiction and I compare everything to it..

  18. I admit a great deal of surprise to see the assesments of Catelyn here. They weren’t what I would normally have expected!

    Some brief thoughts:

    1) For me, the easiest reading of Catelyn after Bran’s fall is that she was, essentially, mentally ill — she spiraled into a black depression that she could not shake herself out of; we’re in a pre-modern era without psychiatry or mood-altering prescription drugs, which makes it all the bleaker. GRRM himself notes that some of her behavior at this time (re: her remark to Jon) was “a very special case”, and not at all representative of her normal actions, and it seems to me that that would fit if she were, to put it bluntly, somewhat unhinged. She has had a mental breakdown; blaming her for it may fit certain cultural perspectives, and I certainly respect that, but it’s alien to me.

    If we take choice out of it, then it’s easier to accept this in Catelyn. And I believe events later in the series justify this reading of the character, that in this particular period, she was unbalanced and not capable of being responsible for her actions. No person willingly ages 20 years in the span of a few weeks, or tires themselves out so much that they sleep for _four_ days straight. That’s the result of psychological trauma that exceeds conscious control

    2) I think Catelyn’s decision to carry the message herself is pretty clearly explained: she isn’t afraid of the messenger being killed, she’s concerned that they won’t be believed. After all, it’s a massive accusation, and it makes sense that it must come from an unimpeachable source with proof. Catelyn is Lady of Winterfell, daughter of another Great House, personal witness to the letter that first put into her mind that the Lannisters had assassinated Jon Arryn, and she bore the wounds of the attack that backed her story that someone with that knife tried to kill her son (and her).

    3) I find it unsupportable that Catelyn urged Ned to go south because she wanted to go to King’s Landing and escape the North. Such a thought never runs through her mind, ever. I don’t think it’s too spoilerish to note that later in the series, she notes that she came to love the North long before. At face value, she urged Ned because she wanted him to take the honors and privileges offered to him and his family, things offered to him that Ned had a right to claim as well-earned — is this really wrong? And _then_, when they learn of this accusation against the Lannisters, she (_and_ Maester Luwin) urge Ned to do it because his friend needs him. In fact, it always struck me that Ned was the one being selfish when he refused to go, even after learning that the man he loved as a father had been murdered, and that the man who was closer to him than any brother was in danger.

    4) I don’t really recall any place where Catelyn seems to be jealous of Ned’s relationship with either Robert or the old gods. I’d be interested in some pointers.

    Obviously, I think Catelyn after her recovery from her mental breakdown is, in fact, acting in a reasonable, even courageous, fashion. She feels the weight of her black depression off of her, she feels ashamed at her collapse, and she seeks to use this refreshed mental strength to see that the crime committed against her family does not go unpunished. She considers her options, and realizes that if push comes to shove, no one will be more convincing than herself.

    To suppose that Ned’s orders to her are steel-clad, inflexible, unable to be altered by circumstances he never foresaw, would suppose him a kind of despot when he very clearly isn’t generally cut of that cloth. As far as that aspect goes, I think Ned and Catelyn both are shown in a positive light.

    It’s certainly interesting to read these recaps, especially to see a new reader’s perspective. Hopefully I’ve avoided spoilers!

  19. Welcome Elio,

    I don’t think I framed Ned words as Iron clad law (or law at all) if the situation warranted it, certainly Catelyn has plenty of wiggle room as (in essence the power in WF in his absence (until Rob would get slightly more seasoned). I still don’t buy it though. She’s going to see Ned, right? There aren’t dozens of people in the North that Ned would trust emphatically with such news? In some sense the MOST dangerous (and it proved so) play is for Catelyn to go. Or do you mean she means to present herself at court?

    Second, I don’t think I agree that Catelyn and Ned were at odds either. I tend to view them as happily as married as it gets. Sure, there are some issues, but this isn’t our grandfather’s epic fantasy. This is IMHO a pretty strong relationship, especially given the setting and other examples we see.

    While I clearly do think she had ambitions – and don’t fault her for it – for herself and her family I don’t really vibe with her setting it all up to go South herself (though I think she did want to go), I agree with that. I think she’s dumber than she thinks she is, I don’t think she’s a terrible person or hideous wife/mother. What does strike me, and let me be clear I don’t believe it but it popped in my mind, is I wonder if Catelyn ever wondered why Ned didn’t come home from the War of the Usurper with more significant honors/titles lands.

    Spoilers –

    You bring up an interesting point regarding Ned’s selfishness, but let me add that I don’t think Catelyn being this or that makes Ned any better (or worse). I do think Elena has firmly (for now) become a Ned fan. I would, however, offer that I think Ned may have his reasons for laying low and safe (possibly Jon), though I’d agree he’d have no idea he wouldn’t survive it (though he does mention recent Starks don’t tend to do well going South – himself the exception previously).

    END Spoilers

  20. No, Cat gets a bad rap for all the things that SHE does. She never advised Robb not to marry Jayne, that was his honorable to a fault nature, true, but everything else? Sending Theon to Pyke, had the old bastard not been plotting on his own, was actually a pretty damn good idea, and I don’t recall Cat ever advising Robb to declare for Renly. All of her advice over the course of time that she’s with him is of minimal use, though from time to time she is able to make him think better. None of which erases her mistakes that had MUCH farther reaching effects. Oh, and if you recall, that Green boy did manage to outwit Tywin Lannister, making for one of the more satisfying moments in the book.

    To me, all of Cat’s blunders are remembered because of the amount of damage they did, while her pearls of wisdom were few and far between.

  21. It’s weird that Ned seems to take such things to heart, when in Bran’s chapter he’s the one man who doesn’t pay attention to omens. Everyone else is freaked by the antler-and-dead-direwolf, but he just plucks it out and “breaks the spell” over the men.

    Of course, this may be a sign that he was putting on a brave face for his followers rather than his not being disquieted.

  22. SPOILERS

    I’ve run out of time (V Day plans, then working the night shift!) but one point I’d dispute is Cat loving the North. I believe she told Jeor’s wife that she’d found much to love about the north, but I always took her meaning as Ned and the people in Winterfell, not necessarily the place. Of course, they could be one and the same to her, and I’m completely overlooking that. It’s very possible.

    As to the woman herself, I find it difficult to alter my thinking on her. I get that some people can sometimes be crippled by grief, and Bran is her acknowledged favorite child, but none of her actions ever struck me as very sensible. I can see your point on the believability of her claims, plus the scars to back them up, and there’s no way she could have known Littlefinger would lie to her so baldly, but her impulses are all disastrous. The fact they they are UNIFORMLY so just makes it that much harder to bear witnessing her follies. I at least identify with Ned’s foolishness.

  23. As to the Littlefinger issue… anyone else get the idea that maybe Peter wasn’t SO FAR OFF when he expected something more from Cat?

    Yea.. he wasn’t going to marry her, he was far too poor, he def should have known that, but I’m thinking… I dunno, Cat is pretty good at lying to herself for so long that she decides things are true…

  24. Hmm, I might be mistaking your meaning, ma’am (peeking in from work! 😀 ). Do you mean she should have known immediately that he was lying? Or something else? Sorry, I’m kinda dumb this evening…

  25. SPOILERS

    You already know my stance on Tywin, I think.
    For the good of the Realm, Tywin should win the war and the throne.

    I understand Cersei, I do not condone her behavior. I think I would have liked to kill Robert Baratheon too, if I was married to him.

    With Cat I both condone and understand a lot, but not all. She is a complex character.

  26. I’m reposting this from the previous site, since I didn’t know you had moved it…I’m sorry, but I spent way too long writing this to just leave it there 😀

    anyway…

    Since I figured you won’t go back to read the previous comments, I’ll write it all in this one. There’s not that much that I wanted to add to what you already mentioned anyway so here goes…

    First of, I love what you’re doing, I wanted to do something like that for a really long time, but I always figured I wouldn’t be able to find anyone who would read the book in such a way for the first time. Elena, thanks for doing this, I can’t imagine not being „allowed“ to read this book in huge chunks. That said, there’s no spoilers below I just wanted to say a few things that made an impression. I’ve read the books 4 times and this recap made me start over for the fifth time, since I want to catch as many clues as possible. There’s lot’s that I’ve missed even on the 4th re-read.

    Ok, I wanted to emphasize the line from the first Jon chapter, when Tyrion walks back in the hall and to Jon he seems, if only for a moment, as tall as a king. I think this line made a huge impression on me the first time I read it and has stuck with me all this time. It probably made me love Tyrion even more, as if it was his soul that Jon really saw here at that moment. In turn Tyrion immediately saw Jon for what he was and that sort of connected them for at from the start. They were both outsiders who preffered to observe life, explore and experience new things rather than take center stage, unless they have to, and then they are usually capable of dealing with it.

    In the Arya chapter you asked what us guy readers thought of her when we first read the book. On my first read there were three characters that I really loved – Tyrion, Jon and Arya. Later I’ve added some other characters and some of the ones I liked grew distant, though I still can’t wait to read chapters about Arya, Jon or Tyrion. They have that sort of flawed personality that make them very relatable. They also tend to deal with situations as they come along, which I admire. It’s not about making plans and scheming for them, but seeing what is going on and dealing with it, changing their plans and adapting as new things happen. As for the gender thing, the POV’s that I hated the most were Sansa’s and another female character that appears later on. I don’t mean that I didn’t like the chapters. I think Martin has the ability to write about the most boring thing, he could write about the paint drying and still make it wonderful prose. But Sansa is just unrelatable to me, not to mention boring, and worst of all, naive. Though in general, in most other novels or series, as well as in real life, I tend to relate to a woman’s point of view more easily than a man’s.

    This next part isn’t really spoilerish but it does touch things Jay was talking about, so Elena should probably stop reading at this point.
    ……………….

    @Jay: You mentioned twice that you don’t understand why Cersei feels threatened by Ned. I think it’s not that she fears him while Robert is alive. She can control Robert, even with Ned around ,though Ned thinks he could still persuade him on the important things – but we later see with the Targaryen kids that he cannot. But she probably had plans for getting rid of Robert and of having Jaime (even if he was in the Kingsguard) or Tywin as Hand. I think Ned accepting the position and Cersei whining about it, was simply her disappointment. She didn’t start properly dealing with her plans falling apart. I think that’s what makes her different from Tyrion. She makes a plan and when it doesn’t work out, she’s unprepared, because she can’t grasp that she didn’t plan for everything. When Tyrion’s plans don’t work out, he’s always quick on his fit, adapting to the new situation. So what I’m saying is, if Ned had stayed home, she would have less problems with getting rid of Robert. And she needed to get rid of Robert because her ultimate dream at this point is to somehow become king, marry Jaime and make him her Queen. Really hope this makes sense 🙂

    As for Catelyn I liked her most during the time she waits for Robb at the whispering forest and when she talks to Renly. I her first chapter I had no real opinion as far as I can remember and other than that I think I mostly disliked her. She did have a great ending though, and it’s another example of how very genius Martin’s writing is. He can make you feel sorry for characters even when you utterly hate them, when something that they don’t deserve happens to them.

    Next…is Tyrion destined to survive. IMHO Tyrion has the best chances of surviving, though I’m not exactly sure why. Like Arya or Jon, he knows how to get out of a tight spot. I think the same is true of Dany, but in her case, with half the world wanting her dragons and the other half wanting to spread her legs, I wouldn’t put it past Martin to kill her off and simply keep the dragons…no-one ever said that there has to be a Targaryen in the end. And the Starks actually were kings before Targaryens…it’s 6.45 AM at the moment (I was, like Tyrion, reading (the recaps and comments) all night) so I’m not really sure of my minds reliability, but I think there’s nothing anywhere really set in stone about that. Though if I’m making a fool of myself or forgetting something, please let me know 🙂

    ……….
    end of spoilers

    One other thing, and I’m sorry this post is soooo long….I’m aware that on my first read I missed nearly all of the „big questions“. I’ve noticed some on my second and more on my third read. Even after my fourth read I think I’m probably still missing some things. But when someone points something out for me or I read about a theory, I can easily see how it all fits into the great big picture, so Elena, don’t stress yourself about noticing every single detail, and Jay, keep the secrets to yourself. She will eventually finish the books and when you later fill in the blanks it will all make perfect sense to her (or at least as much sense as it does to you:) ).

    On that note, I hate it when people whine about Martin’s slow writing. The reason why everything fit’s in this story and why there are so many new details to find in countless re-reads is that he took the time to put them there and if he rushed it, it could all collapse very quickly. Only by taking his time will he ever finish this in such a way that will not leave us disappointed.

    Oh, almost forgot…one more question for Elena: after these 13 chapters, are you still confused about who’s whom? I know there are probably still names you forgot and there’s still new names coming in, but are you, at this point, comfortable with the big ones? I know I had a problem with remembering who belongs where, but I can’t remember how long this lasted and it’s probably the biggest problem new readers have…

    Anyway, I’ve subscribed to this blog (is it a blog?), and I’m waiting on the next chapter…thanks again for doing it!

    Oh and one (really) last thing: I suppose you wouldn’t mind if I put up a post with a link about what you’re doing on my GoT site?

  27. I don’t understand the insistence that Ned has anything to do with an evaluation of Catelyn. Because Ned is equally as dumb (or smart, or cool, or whatever) vindicates Catelyn? Who has completely forgiven anyone?

    I think they’ve bot shown the ability to be consistently outplayed and not up occasion.

  28. I would judge her for being illogical and acting out of emotion without regard to the consequences if she were a man.

    I, too, find the self-sacrificing woman to be problematic–why I specifically mention that a little selfishness is a good thing–but I think her behavior goes too far in the other direction. She’s not thinking about how her actions might affect her family at all, and I don’t think it’s particularly self-sacrificing to step away from your own wants for a few minutes to just THINK about how you might be hurting other people. If it’s worth it, then I have no issue with the going ahead and doing it…but she doesn’t stop to think.

    Also I find it interesting that you bring up her family motto–note the family first–after defending her for ignoring her family in order to be selfish in her emotional wallowing. Where was her commitment to her family 3 weeks earlier? Family is not just the one person she loves most in it.

    The funny thing is, I think she would have a lot more power to “push against the system” if she actually made more dutiful choices. She has the opportunity to BE the lord of winterfell, which you suggest she wants…and she doesn’t want it. What she wants is to follow revenge, or to be back with her husband and other kids, or to be away from the north, not to be running Winterfell. The whole family motto moment to me felt like she was justifying to herself why she was on the road at all–trying to convince herself that she was following her duty, not shirking it.

  29. Spoilers

    Tanatie, you explanation fo Cersei’s fear of Ned (or his ascension) is understandable but it takes it a (I think)an unneeded step by her further. In my model, a smart player playing the long game, She should have just waited it out and been happy that she would be Queen and her son King with such a loyal defender (Ned) tied to her family. There is really no way Robert could set her aside (her stated fear) as long her son was the future King (and he would be since he’d be tied to the Starks–Robert would never insult Ned by taking his daughter out of the line of birthing the successor IMHO.

    End Spoilers

  30. To your points:

    (1) I have never suffered from depression so I can honestly say that it would never cross my mind as an explanation for her behavior. While that reading makes a certain amount of sense, I’m not sure it is supported by her sudden frantic energy. The people I’ve known who have suffered from depression come out of it slowly not overnight. Or what amounts to overnight. But I am very willing to reiterate that it’s only my observed experience from a couple cases.

    (2) I don’t know why she thinks that Ned, her husband, would not believe her story if she sent it via trusted household retainer or one of the wards. And isn’t Ned making the accusation the same as his wife making it? I saw absolutely no necessity to her going, except that she wanted to.

    (3) I actually think a lot of the reason Cat urged him to go south was because she assumed she’d come to, and wanted to. Now, maybe in her mind it was “what’s best for Ned and Winterfell is for him to have more power and honor” and by extension she would have that and her children would have that, vs just wanting to escape the north…but I think that did cross her mind. Maybe not in thoughts, but an emotional reaction: “I can go south again? YES PLEASE!” and we ALL know what happens when Cat feels something. what she misunderstands is that Winterfell didn’t need extra power or honor, and that it functions best when its lord is home. But that’s because she’s from the south, and her mentality despite marrying the north is no doubt still that the center of everything is with the king, in the south, not shrugging “so what if it is? i have my own worries here.”

    While I don’t know that Ned meant his orders to be ironclad, I am unconvinced of the NECESSITY of her breaking them.

  31. —Spoiler, I guess—
    I agree that she should’ve done that, but in my opinion Cersei tends to get some quite irrational ideas and when she does, she doesn’t care for what she has, she want’s more…
    —End Spoiler—

    You never said if I might post a link about what you’re doing on my site? I’ve just recently started it and I could use some good ideas like this one for content. You can take a look by clicking on my name.

  32. It’s not that Ned won’t believe someone else. It’s that Robert and the court might not believe someone else, that having someone like Rodrik or Luwin there mouthing the words isn’t going to be half as convincing. And I think that’s probably true, I think that gives anyone wanting to hide the truth a wedge between the Starks and Ned, a way to spin things out.

    It’s not like Cersei does not have some power of influence over Robert, as I think you’ll soon see.

    As to the reasons for Catelyn pushing Ned yeah… I just don’t see that. It’s a pretty big reading-between-the-lines for me, because I don’t see any evidence that she actually wanted to go south, per se. It’s not as if she was trapped in the North, in any case — she had been south just seven years before or so (re: their having seen Tommen as a baby, and later we know see shaw Robert Arryn at about the same time).

    She loved the North, even if certain parts of it were still imposing to her after all these years. She doesn’t really think about missing the south, though of course she misses her family and so on. It just doesn’t seem a credible read, unless one’s presupposing “selfishness” as a primary trait of Catelyn’s, and I never really have.

    “Family, Duty, Honor” are the words she lives by. Her grief short-circuits it, for a time, but once she’s out of that black haze, she goes to it full throttle. She felt it was her duty to see justice done, and her duty to make sure her family was protected, and I think that’s pretty reasonable.

  33. Her impulses aren’t _all_ disasterous. Many times, they’re spot on, the choices that really need being made, and she ends up being Cassandra as no one listens. AGoT provides two examples later on. ACoK provides three more, I believe. ASoS provides at least one.

    Further, I think to say her impulses are disastrous is taking out of the equation the fact that their disastrous not because she’s made a wrong choice, but that fate and events conspire to make them wrong. Sometimes, events are truly out of your hands, and the right choice today ends up becoming the wrong choice tomorrow without your having done anything to make it that way — it’s just out of your control.

    I don’t quite understand the spoiler convention, and this is touching on some pretty deep stuff, so I’ll leave it at that.

    And thanks. 🙂

  34. Hi, Elena!

    Just wanted to add to the praise for this project: It’s great fun to read your and Jay’s posts and it yields interesting insights, too.

    Concerning Lady Stark, however, you are far off the mark and confirm all the clichés of common Catelyn-hate (look, for example, at any Catelyn-thread started at westeros.org by a first-time reader).
    Accordingly, I second all the points Elio made against your account of her character.
    And to not spot Catelyn’s depressive episode during Bran’s coma for what it is seems truly baffling to me. The chapter is as clear and vivid a depiction of that particular mental calamity as one gets from any fantasy novel… To hold Catelyn’s temporary mental incapacity against her by appealing to logic, duty and common sense is, frankly, ridiculous.

  35. ELio, not saying you’re doing this but I think ‘reading between” the lines in this series in particular certainly can’t be a fault, whether. I think the practice is common to many readers, to various degrees of fun.

    I do want to suggest this. It’s completely possible to understand someone completely and still not like them. The like/dislike is not an issue – it’s okay not to like or find her agreeable, even in the best of her times. I think Catelyn is given more excuses than anybody. Catelyn is no mystery to me, I just don’t particularly care for her and it is based on her actions.

    This is an example, not necessarily my thought) Look, I get why shes doesn’t like a Jon (or the idea of Jon as applied by Ned), doesn’t mean I have to like her for it even if I understand the thought in her context and that of the setting.

    I do not believe Martin gave us a character we were all supposed to love or even like. This idea of a “right’ or “wrong” evaluation is frankly, ridiculous.

    *Spoilers*

    So you’re including the capture of Tyrion as part of her temporary mental incapacity? How about releasing the Kingslayer? When does temporary become par for the course? One could make an entirely reasonable case that Catelyn should have been killed for treason by her OWN side

    *End spoilers*

  36. I have not been reading anyone’s opinion of this series other than comments directed at me here, so this is an independently formed opinion of Cat. If it’s so commonplace in the ASIOF community that it’s “cliche”…doesn’t that validate it as a reading of this character?

    All I will say on the depression is, again, it is not something I have been through, ergo it is NOT a mindset I can understand or that my mind would conjur up as an explanation. As I think I mentioned in some of my early posts, we all come to books with biases. This is an exposition of one in action, in how I read it/didn’t read it and how those who spot her “obvious” depression do.

  37. On #2.

    I don’t think it’s just about delivering a message. It is a very porsonal issue to Cat and Ned and after delivering the message she might want to coordinate their further actions. The best way to do that is in person.

    And there is another thing. You know women, i believe you are one yourself. She really wants to have a say in this and she may want to demand certain actions from Ned. “You must do this, because i’m your wife, or because it for our son, how could you not do it, etc.” Cat could do that, but noone, not even in their weirdest dreams, would assume that Ser Rodrick could pull off such a thing.

  38. I should add that I think it’s a valid reading that she only meant her family, but I hesitate to agree with it. Immediately afterward, she mentions a list of things that, I think, are pretty clearly the things she’s lost that she loved. And yes, mostly it’s her family. But _Winterfell_ is there as well (in fact, I think it’s the first thing she names).

    It’s her home. She’s grown to love it, and presumably its inhabitants, and so on. No, it’s not the same as Riverrun, it’s not as warm or inviting… but it has its own beauty, and its people their own virtues.

    So, I think she did love the North, and I think the text supports that read, whereas I don’t think there’s ever any moment in the series where Catelyn reflects on how much she loves being in the South.

  39. then if she’s taking the message herself in order to demand certain actions from ned and be a part of his decision making…sounds to me like that’s becuase she WANTS to go. not needs to go, unless she doesn’t trust ned to (1) believe her message and (2) respond in an appropriate manner.

  40. I don’t mind reading between the lines at all! I just wonder whether the lines are even implying what’s being read into them. I don’t see the connection between Catelyn having hoped to stay with Ned and Catelyn REALLY wanting to go south. At face value, she never says anything about having wanted to go south. She wanted to be with her family, and … that’s it. Or so I think. And as I said, later on, Catelyn’s love of the North is, I think, clearly exhibited. She’s not someone who hates the place or wants to get down to sunnier climes.

    *SPOILERS*

    Her capture of Tyrion is absolutely reasonable based on the information she had. She tries to AVOID it, she wants him to not notice he’s there, she wants to escape that inn without having to deal with him at all, leaving him ignorant.

    But Marillion messes that up. And then she can only think that if she lets him go, he’ll know that she was coming back from King’s Landing, that she had injured hands, that his assassin failed and she’s brought evidence to King’s Landing, and the Starks are laying a trap, and best warn his siblings and strike first, etc.

    It wasn’t at all motivated by anything but a reasoned belief — again, on the evidence of what she and Ned had received and accepted as true — that Tyrion and the Lannisters were murderers and traitors who had murdered Jon Arryn, who had tried to murder her son and her, and that if they had any reason to think the Starks knew this, that they would strike out at the nearest Starks (Ned and the girls) to protect themselves.

    And, you know, as far as that goes, _it’s true_. When Cersei learns she’s in danger, what does she do? She didn’t run away, exactly… Catelyn’s read of the situation, in the case where Tyrion really was involved, is absolutely spot on. The problem is that she (and Ned) were wrong about the whole attempt, and that’s certainly a _fault_, but it’s not like it’s just something they imagined. It’s what their investigation and their primary source, whom they came to trust (wrongly), led them to believe.

    As to Jaime, I also think it’s pretty understandable. I think it’s pretty defensible, too. Robb was wrong to think Jaime Lannister had any value as a hostage. Jaime being imprisoned in Riverrun did not prevent Lord Tywin from conspiring with Roose Bolton and Walder Frey. It did not prevent him from trying to force a crossing of the Red Fork. The northern theory that an imprisoned Jaime was a check on Lord Tywin was absolutely wrong. His only value as a prisoner was to prevent Tywin from having a popular second-in-command (which really doesn’t matter), and… as someone to exchange or other hostages. Like those sisters who would be immensely valuable in shoring up his alliances, who could safely be his heirs if they were in his hands.

    Robb should have traded Jaime back in ACoK. Catelyn forced the issue because she knew that the war was essentially done. And it was, really. ASoS is the story of a long retreat — the riverlands was going to fall pretty handily if the Northmen ran up the Neck.

    **** END SPOILERS ****

  41. Just a note: we’ve been through all this (the Catelyn Chronicles) in previous installments and comment threads, so I kind of want to leave that there until we get to the chapter (these things are long enough!)

    Elio,

    *Spoilers*

    It (the Jaime issue) doesn’t matter if it’s workable TO HER, if anyone else did what she did they would be hanged. Or do you think that’s not the case?

    Also, regarding Tyrion, it the very fact that she did everything on FLIMSY (zero) evidence that is the issue. She was willing to start a full blown war on nothing — not what happened certainly, that is something) but she had only the (unrelated) word of her sister (who we all no is a flake, not sure if it’s established as she was as Catelyn knew her).

    This is exactly the same thing as arresting a son of a head of state because something your sister said. What was Tyrion going to do to her, exactly? She could have even announced her thoughts and asked for an armed escort BACK HOME, to which no one (especially Tyrion who was clueless to everything) would have dared to stop. She layed her thought out to Ned, the Hand of the King, what else was gained from her arrest of Tyrion excluding insuring she started a war (again, with NO evidence).

    So what we are left with is someone with no evidence minus the word of Petyr and and her sister? That’s real solid, and sure, she doesn’t know that but that very FACT is why she shouldn’t have done what she did.

    I also get that “evidence” then and what we percieve it to be now is very different, but she literally was willing to start a war on the word of two people,and it cost her dearly. Is it her fault entirely? Certainly not but her actions had no value that an be construed as positive.

    It didn’t take a genius to figure out what would happen after she took Tyrion into “her power”. I don’t care WHY she did it, if you takes steps that insures or accelerates a start of a war you better be able to think beyond the next 5 minutes. The Tyrion capture has no logical conclusion because of Tywin Lannister. Or,are you suggesting that at this point war was going to happen regardless (in her mind)?

    *END spoilers*

  42. Of course she wants, but does that make her stupid? Shouldn’t the “smart” people around her be able to predict the consequenses of her actions, to some extent at least? If they present her some reasonable outcomes and she ignores them, then she could be called ignorant or stupid (but i don’t remember if that happened).

    Back to the weak/stupid people: hating or judging is not comparable. Hating is a result, judging is a process that could lead to a positive result or to a negative result (like hate).

  43. I acctually don’t really like any of them, Ned or Cat. But I do feel that Ned is cut a lot of slack because he is nice to fan favourites like Jon and Arya, and Catelyn is judged because she is not.
    I find that unreasonable, and tend to defend her more vehemently because of it. But in truth, they are both rather boring.

  44. Has Catelyn ever had a thought about starting a war by arresting Tyrion? I don’t remember that.

    When Tyrion came back from the mountains and met his father again, what did Tywin do? He sent him to attack Bolton and was surprised when Tyrion came back alive. I get it that Jaime was mad at the Starks and the world, but Tywin, the important man, didn’t give a damn about Tyrions life.

    It was the Lion’s pride that started the war. How hard was it ask : “Release Tyrion or we will start a war on you”. Would Catelyn consciously rather take the war than release Tyrion? And couldn’t the attacks be stopped once Tyrion was back?

    I don’t remember the exact timeline, but wasn’t it Ned’s death that started the Stark’s mobilization? And Ned didn’t die because of Tyrion or the events around him. He died because of his own investigation of Cersei and her children. THAT was the real threat to Lannister power. Nobody gave a shit about Tyrion, beside Jaime.

  45. *spoilers*

    I’ve already send we’ve discussed this before so repeating it is a bit of a waste IMHO, so from now on please wait until we get to that chapter or go back to where we discussed it previously

    Why would the Lannisters have to ask Catelyn anything on behalf of Tyrion? He had not done anything. Is it lost on us that Tyrion was COMPLETELY INNOCENT. Catelyn arrested and embarrassed a High Lord’s son who was INNOCENT and took him in her custody. He’s the Queen’s brother and Tywin’s- what did she think was going to happen?

    You can’t have it both ways. First, people say she fears the Lannisters finding out she’s going South. THEN she kidnaps said family’s son and now she’s a righteous badass? Which is it? I thought she feared them?

    Who cares if Tywin cared about anyone? It’s not relevant, Tywin would act because of the blatant smack in the face to his house. Remember, Tywin blames Tyrion for making him have to mobilze (something about being kidnapped by a woman.

    Again, let’s tackle this again when we are there.

  46. I don’t understand what you’re referring to when you say “Cliches of common Catelyn hate”. Has a list been made, or something?

    Also, I don’t think anyone here didn’t spot Cat’s depression, they just didn’t agree with it, or didn’t get it, myself included. Her breakdown was so complete she forgets that she has a complete family. Some people don’t identify with that, and I’m one of them. as for this statement:

    “The chapter is as clear and vivid a depiction of that particular mental calamity as one gets from any fantasy novel”

    I’m actually puzzled as to what you mean by this. Are you saying that Cat’s breakdown is a trope that I should recognize? If so, what am I supposed to get out of that?

  47. This part about having it both ways is really odd. A human being can act out of fear in one instance and out of boldness in another, it’s only baffling if you can only think of characters as rigid tropes. Perhaps that’s true though, as Catelyn having similarities with both Arya and Sansa is supposedly surprising for some unfathomable reason.

  48. You’re right, I lack the ability to determine what I feel about characters, you should do it for me.

    Who was baffled? I think I pointed out the exact fact that she had characteristics of both (or vice versa).

    This is done.

  49. The “clichés of Catelyn-hate” are a number of wrong judgements (“wrong” as in factually unfounded and logically unsound), often accompanied by very telling emotions, coming from many of ASOIAF’s first-time readers. They can be found in respective threads at westeros.org or towerofthehand.com.
    Amongst them is the belief that Catelyn tends to act particularly unreasonable or illogical at pivotal points of the narrative. This is then often ‘explained’ by appealing to some crude notion of “mother’s instinct” which seemingly overrides even an educated, powerful and politically savvy woman’s common sense (I’m not implying that this is your point, Elena, but your assessment is wrong, too). Aside from the fact that such a notion is blatantly sexist (as if all mothers were hysterical morons), most of the individual judgments about her character are ludicrous and no basis for them can be found in the novels if one cares to look for them.
    For example, her decision to bring the news to King’s Landing by herself is, as Elio pointed out, very reasonable.

    SPOILER
    So is her decision to capture someone met by chance on the way back…
    /SPOLIER

    The list goes on and on. Sure, Catelyn is a flawed character, as is every character in these novels. But people tend to project a lot of contempt or even hate on her without being able to justify their assessemt once you call them out. I will not repeat Elio’s comments, but he simply destroyed Elena’s and Jay’s arguments as to why Catelyn is a stupid, selfish, impetuous and generally despicable character who can be blamed for numerous catastrophic events in the narrative.
    I don’t know why many people (not all of them first-time readers) react to Catelyn in such a way, and from what Mr Martin has said in interviews and at conventions, he doesn’t either.

  50. Ned started the mobilization after Catelyn departed. Robb greatly expanded it when word of Eddard’s capture or flight (rumors were unclear) reached them, and it looks like basically they decided that without the ability to hear from Ned they needed to get moving — before then, it was them waiting for word from him.

  51. Jay,

    **** SPOILER ****

    She wasn’t concerned about her personal welfare. An escort back to Winterfell does nothing to protect her family.

    The danger is in her having been spotted on the way back from King’s Landing by Tyrion, and what this would tell (the supposed murderer) Tyrion and (the traitorous, murderous) siblings of his about what the Starks “know”.

    Yes, it all lies in a failure on their part: they trust Littlefinger. He’s very good at being convincing. Showing and saying that the dagger belonged to him to begin with was pretty brilliant — it made him more trustworthy to them. He then proceeded to be helpful in Ned’s investigations and so on. He kept the secret of Catelyn’s presence.

    They had her sister’ss own message as well. I do wonder … if Benjen or Jon Arryn had contacted Ned with a secret message about the perfidy of the Lannisters, would we be as shocked that the Starks believed it? Family matters. Friendship matters. Your word matters. It’s not a modern time, the way George depicts this. Why are we shocked with these people do things that we wouldn’t do in a more cynical age? Why are they “dumb”, rather than constrained by cultural standards and mores? I don’t consider anyone dumb for thinking that a person is being selfish as opposed to depressed because of culturally-inculcate preconceptions (re: southern culture — and, BTW, born in and spent a few formative years in Georgia).

    The culture of the Seven Kingdoms is one where blood matters and friendship matters and you can believe some quite amazing things if your blood or your friends whom you trust tell you. Then, when someone shows up who has shed these conceptions (as Littlefinger has), they are disruptive, they’re able to do things (and make others do things) that would normally not be at issue.

    I would think that, yes, Catelyn knew a war was coming. The Lannisters were not going to sit down and accept having their misdeeds brought to light. It was war either way.

    For my part, again, I think Catelyn pretty clearly explains why she went to the Vale rather than King’s Landing — she believed that Lysa could have the final proof they needed. It also put her and Tyrion out of immediate harm’s way (no Lannister agents in the Vale), with an escort strong enough to get them through the high road (so they thought).

    The fault in Catelyn here, really, is that she was too trusting — but it’s hard to blame her for trusting (after initial mistrust, after having to be convince) the youth who nearly died for love of her, and the sister that was always loving and confiding to her. Looking aside from that, her actions within the context of what she believed were on the whole correct.

    As to Catelyn expecting some privilege from being Robb’s mother and being safe … well, so what? The point is that Robb’s policies regarding Jaime and his sisters are objectively wrong — we can see, from the very first of Tyrion’ chapters in ASoS, that Tywin is busily prosecuting the war and conniving with the likes of Roose Bolton, Walder Frey, and Sybelle Spicer — and Catelyn had no other means of changing them than to do as she did.

    Should she sit down and “just follow orders”? She knew Robb’s decision to hold onto Jaime wasn’t ruled by clear, cold reason — it was emotional, and he was sacrificing the value of his sisters and their place as his heirs out of, essentially, pride and pique. It was wrong. Something had to be done, and there was no one else to do it.

    That’s my view, in any case.

    **** END SPOILER ****

  52. I guess spoilers…

    Don’t the Lannisetrs know what she’s doing regardless of her taking Tyrion hostage? I think she made them run faster to Tywin by abducting him.

    What Lannister misdeed are we talking about (at this point)?

    I don’t question the trust of family, but we are talking degrees. Am I willing to believe family? Sure. Am I willing to put myself, my region, my family, in a position where I might go to war against a formidable opponent (and possibly the Throne) on just the word of two people? Off the cuff? Not so much.

    Apparently as long as she believe she’s right, Catelyn can arrest and nearly kill an innocent man and commit treason and it’s awesome? I don’t get it. Since you brought it up, let’s flip this the other way…if we were talking about a man, I wonder to what degree this understanding would stand/extend.

    I hope I see the same defense of Theon (who I like) later.

    End Spoilers

    End spoilers

  53. Hey all (y’all?)

    Trying to fix the threaded comments so we go below 5 levels (sorry it can be confusing I know with the limit). Just have to tweak the theme a bit to allow for it.

    Thanks for all of the discussion!

  54. “most of the individual judgments about her character are ludicrous and no basis for them can be found in the novels if one cares to look for them.”

    This sounds suspiciously like an opinion being passed off as fact. I am female, and I find many of Cat’s actions ludicrous and stupid, and I promise I’m not sexist. I disagree with your opinion that seeing and defining the woman’s actions negatively is a blatant wrong that must be driven away. Last I checked, every character could evoke different feelings to different readers, and this was considered a good thing. And no one has destroyed anyone’s arguments here. I see it more as different but fascinating views of a single character.

    You KNOW the writing’s good when it can evoke such a plethora of views!

  55. The strangest thing to me about Catelyn is her decision to stay at Riverrun and wait for her father to die. He not lucid alot of the time and in any case,has had his life. She has 2 young sons at home-one crippled and one only 4 years old.

  56. *Spoilers*

    Zero evidence? That she was led to believe the cutthroat had used Tyrion’s knife – circumstantial evidence, but easily convincing. She had no reason to believe that either her sister or Petyr had anything to gain by lying to her.

  57. Spoilers

    If Petyr’s words meant so much she should have listened to his advice, because he actually gave them the best advice.

    That’s all true but it still amounts to the same thing: zero evidence. I get and agree with what Ran says above the worth of family and words, but equally she should KNOW the same applies to the Lannisters and what she was starting.

    Look, it’s about degrees. Sure these elements that you’d look strongly into and be extremely suspicious of and get to the bottom of, but we aren’t talking about accusing (and this case arresting and risking someone;s life–nearly getting them killed) somebody for stealing, cheating, or destruction of property. This isn’t mail fraud. You’re arresting the son of the most powerful lord in the realm, who you think ALREADY doesn’t like you (not sure I believe that or not, but Ned certainly seems to consider the Starks ‘stark” opposites to them). Not to mention, hisotrically Tywin doesn’t take slights to well. That’s not peanuts. While I openly admit worthy dialogue can be had that Catelyn isn’t completely out of depth, I can’t even for a minute buy anybody arguing this being her best/only option or remotely tact in that given moment. Take one second and view this from Tywin’s perspective and tell me why – in this case – he isn’t completely justified to make the realm bleed if he chooses to do so.

    My question is this, and I don’t hold him to be the lightest bulb either (though I do like him). Would Ned have done the same thing?

    Also, let’s take this further (and this is the last on this I have another post to put up). Why exactly did she go to KL again? Essentially she did nothing a message on a rock could have done. If she went their for the reasons people are describing, you march your ass to the King and make it official (no way in hell they could not the level of control exerted on Robert YET). You put it out there, thus, I’d agree with EVERYONE that Catelyn made the right move. Tywin would never (unless he wanted to lose) attack the Throne directly. By not doing this, they basically made the decision that it had to be war.

    ‘Robert, look at my wife’s scars. She’s the daughter of Hoster Tully, she swears on what happened, and you know what happened to my son. My sister-in law, the wife of your fucking father figure sent us this message – let’s look into this. Fuck it, I’m the hand of the King, I will look into it. What do you have? The Vale, Riverrun and the North with stakes in this. She’s Catelyn Stark/Tully – the Wife of the Hand of the king – somebody attacked her. That’s an issue.

    Who – if not the King – could they possibly have on their side to win such a confrontation? Guess what? Petyr told them the truth: drop it. Sure that’s easy for me to say but then again I wouldn’t go and nearly get an innocent man arrested/killed.

    I offer this like I did before. Do you think Catelyn does the same to the Kingslayer if it was him in the Inn and not Tyrion? I doubt it. She’d let him go like she does later.

    End Spoilers

  58. Ned and Catelyn are both such such old-school people, describing their marriage as being ‘trapped’ together seems a bit unfair to me. They do seem to love each other, in their fashion, but they’re not really what we would think of in modern terms as a romantic, happy marriage but that’s not really what their expectations for marriage ever were. It’s not a relationship of equals, Catelyn still will refer to Ned as ‘my lord’, and at the end of the day he’s the one who makes the decisions.

  59. Hey, wasn’t the original plan to put out 3 posts over 6 days after the switchover? What up? Any plans on a posting schedule?

  60. –spoilers–

    Why is it so difficult to believe that she would blindly believe Petyr? Not to mention her sister?! For all she knew, they had no reason to lie. And it’s not just in the world GRRM has created. I’m sure most of us have friends and family that we believe we can trust no matter what. I know there are less and less people I trust as I grow older but I know there are still a few people that I would trust if they told me that someone was trying to hurt them (or something like that) even if it wouldn’t make sense to an outside observer. Even if I didn’t have all the facts, the fact that it is the person I trust telling me this, would mean in my mind that the outside observer is the one who doesn’t have all the facts and is wrong.

    Sometimes even when you know you can’t really trust someone, you still do what they want you to do…think of Jaime and “the things he does for love”…

    –end spoilers–

    I can’t wait for the new chapter, this one really took you a while 🙂

    …it’s Sansa next right?

  61. I agree. I dont like Catelyn Stark at all. I dont like any of the Lannisters as well(other than Tyrion) but its expected the Lannisters to be hated because they are evil family. You dont expect to hate Catelyn because shes supposed to be one of the good guys. She lost my respect with her treatment of Jon Snow. She practically despises him even though he shown nothing but love to the Stark family. Yes hes your husbands bastard son from another women but get over it. That wasnt Jon’s fault. He is a memebr of the family and has been raised with the other 5 Stark children so start showing him some RESPECT!!!

  62. Interesting, since I found Catelyn going south herself to be one of the more “real” aspects of the story.

    I think you underestimate the importance of face to face meetings in a world like Westros. Partially it’s an aspect of the limited communications. Partially it’s an aspect of personal trust and counsel in a world were a man’s word is often your only evidence. Of course you want to look a a man in the eye and make a judgement on his trustworthiness.

    Of the people Catelyn entrusted with the secret only two people were possible messengers. Herself or Sir Rodrick. Theon should not be sent south because he’s too important a hostage- this is regardless of his actual loyalties, which I agree at this time was to the Starks. Robb needed to stay in Winterfall. Luwin too old, and needed in Winterfell.

    Sir Rodrick could carry a message south to Ned, but only by seeing Catelyn and judging that she has returned to her senses, (remember that the last Ned saw of Cat she was not the most rational person), could Ned judge the truthfulness of the accusation and Catelyn’s logic.

    Additionally, Cat is not some trophy wife who is uninvolved in Ned’s planning or rule. She is the person Ned left in charge. Everything shows that Ned has always made her a part of his council, and used her to carry out his commands. Naturally the discovery of something so important as an attempt to kill Bran would cause Catelyn to want to talk with Ned and plan together with him. It’s not like they can have a conference call you know.

    Now is it also driven by some emotional bias? Sure. Cat has been grief stricken and half out of her mind. She feels guilty about this and wants to act and show her bravery. Cat knows she was acting weak and selfishly, and now she wants to prove that this was an aberration. The last Ned saw of her she was insensible. She wants to see Ned and demonstrate that she is now returned to her senses.

    All of these are understandable emotional reasons biasing her towards going south herself.

    I’m not even sure it was the wrong decision, for reasons I pointed out earlier.

    Personally I am always surprised how much people second guess and hate Catelyn. Is she flawed? Yes, but not in any great and evil way. Perhaps that is why people hate her so much? Her flaws hit too close to home. Too much like those of us in our real lives.

    Plus, she’s a woman. And a non-villainous women who is neither perfect nor a tomboy is always hated by everyone it seems.

  63. i think your totally wrong. she doesn’t have to love jon at all! in fact she would lose MY RESPECT if would take responsibillity for someone she is not responsible For! just because her husband brought jon to winterfell doesn’t mean that she has to take care of him. i GREATLY DESPISE people like you, who think a woman should be responsible for SOME other woman’s child while you can’t even tell the BABY DADDY to be a parent to his child. it’s not jon’s fault he was born this way but it’s not her job to take care of him either! in fact it is/was neds JOB to do so!

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