game of thrones

Playin’ with Ice and Fire: A Game of Thoughts | Catelyn Chapter 28

She’s new, she’s the re-re-reader.  She’s the newbie, she’s the spoilery vet.  Together they’re rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting their POV on.  Today they react to Chapter 28, a Catelyn chapter.

If you got her and want to start at the beginning, go catch the start of this Game of Thrones reread and enjoy the full ride!


So at this point we can all say everyone is aware that both Rachel and I are not fans of Catelyn, and dispense with the caveats about how much we half-ass on her chapters, right?  Everyone’s on that page?  Good.

’Cause this chapter was real fucking boring until the very end.  Blah blah blah, Catelyn used to play in the rain and feed Littlefinger actual mud pies (yet more proof that this is not the American South, AKA land of the Mississippi Mud Pie made from straight sugar, egg, corn syrup, and chocolate, and yes I have a bomb-diggity recipe for them), and whine whine whine it’s too cold in the north to enjoy the rain, and I don’t care because you annoy me and you shouldn’t even be there and why can you never think more than one level deep you freakin’ IDIOT?!

I speak with the last to her logic (or, you know, “logic”—and, yes, you can expect me to make that joke pretty much every time we get a Cat chapter, and no, I’m not sorry I’m repeating myself, because I think it’s funny every time) about going ahead and stopping at the inn.  I appreciate why she assumed no one would recognize her, and, indeed, was not wrong, except for one very crucial point that she could not see for staring at it:  everyone and their mother was apparently on the road to King’s Landing for the tournament.  Why on earth did it not occur to her that people other than those from the immediate area might be stopped AT AN INN, at a fucking CROSSROADS, among them people who might have seen her more recently than 15 years and five kids ago?  What part of “He’s traveling down to the Hand’s Tourney like so many others we passed on the road” did not tell her that other people would be traveling, too?  Good grief.

So it didn’t come as any particular surprise that someone showed up at the inn who knew her face.

Aaaand we get an even better example of her willful incomprehension of reality.  Seriously, what part of “you don’t have any evidence” does Catelyn Tully I-have-no-capacity-for-logic Stark NOT GET?  How.  The.  Fuck does she think she can arrest Tyrion and hold him on anything without any evidence?  Wasn’t this exactly the point of Ned telling her to go back home and secure Winterfell?  It’s not like Tyrion Lannister, The Imp, dwarf son of one of the richest men in the kingdom, is going to be hard to find if he’s in Westeros somewhere.

And he’s not going to be fleeing the country because he murdered someone (which of course he didn’t, anyway, but for the sake of argument let’s suppose he did, and consider whether the answer changes).  Hell to the no.  Tyrion isn’t going anywhere.  He will always be findable.  The Starks can bide their time until they have actual proof, not suspicions and circumstantial possibilities.  But this is too much for Catelyn to keep in her mind alongside her no doubt overwhelming emotions of wrath and self-righteousness.

After all, what kind of mother is she if she abandons her possibly dying boy to go after his killer, only to come home empty-handed?  Of course she lets her emotions do the thinking yet again—because that’s just how she rolls—and gives in to her anger and her hatred and arrests a man she has nothing on except an old hatred of her husband’s and a knife that could as easily have been stolen from him as been given by him to an assassin.

My marginal comment of the chapter came in that section, in reaction to her “there was no time to think it through, only the moment and the sound of her own voice ringing in her ears”:  DOES SHE EVER THINK IT THROUGH?  I’m serious.  She really does seem to me to operate on a very visceral emotional level, and while I have no issue with people feeling deep and visceral emotions—one of the problems with Sansa I will be addressing in her next chapter is her refusal to do so—I do think some rationality has to be employed when those emotions rise.  The phrase “check yo’self before you wreck yo’self” did not arise in a vacuum, after all.

That is Catelyn’s entire problem.  She does not check herself, and thus we can never be surprised when she wrecks herself.

I did wonder, if her thought at the crossroads toward the Eyrie and Lysa and the evidence her sister might have, helped form her decision to arrest Tyrion?  Catelyn clearly assumes her sister did not speak out of paranoia but certainty—and certainty implies proof.

Also?  I love how she also just sort of assumes that everyone is going to be okay with her imprisoning Tyrion if she finds her proof.  “It must not come to war…they must not let it.”  Her “fervent” thoughts literally an hour before she wrongfully imprisons a nobleman on nothing but her own suspicions, against her husband’s orders, against the best judgment of the smartest man she knows (Littlefinger)—but it’s okay because she thinks proof exists and once she finds it, of course no one in his family will have a problem with it.  Surely not.

Riiiight.  Because rich and powerful families are known for bowing to the law when one of their own has broken it and faces justice.  Good god.  No wonder her father sent her ass to Winterfell; it really was to keep her safe from herself.  Epic fail on that score….

Tyrion’s axiom of the week:  “I do not quite see the purpose of this, Lady Stark.”

Here he is simply speaking truths for the reader.  Because we all fail to see the purpose of (1) this entire expedition and (2) this moment of supreme idiocy on her part.

That’s about it.  I didn’t have much to say about this chapter other than one giant WHAT. THE. FUCK, there at the end.

Oh, and, credit where credit is due, the line about “the Starks know no music but the howling of wolves” was pretty funny.  Also Tyrion’s droll response to the musician’s offer to sing, that “Nothing would be more likely to ruin my supper.”

Well…too bad for him that was proved to be a fallacy.  Catelyn Stark, more likely to ruin supper than a bard.  That should be her new motto.

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!

–Don’t forget to check out the imperial Boomtron Podcast Elena and Rachel, the Ladies of Ice and Fire, host every week, dissecting each episode of Game of Thrones on HBO!

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


The beginning of this chapter makes me feel like, perhaps if Catelyn had stayed in the North, had not traveled South where her innate Southern-ness could be defrosted and brought back to life PERHAPS she would have been happy and made better decisions. And when she makes better decisions, I’m happy. Theoretically. Obviously, this is a big IF. Because no matter how dutiful Catelyn is, marrying the second brother and moving to the North and bearing 5 children while keeping her mouth shut (ish) about the bastard growing up with her own children, Catelyn still doesn’t understand the need to keep a Stark in Winterfell. So she goes South to cause trouble. To be sent straight back home as soon as she got to King’s Landing.Because.. as Elena says, Catelyn Tully never checks herself, she only wrecks herself.

You would think Catelyn would have a better grasp of politics being raised in the South. No doubt, like Sansa, Catelyn was shielded of politics and instead groomed to be a Lord’s wife. Which leaves us now standing in the rain with Catelyn like Ser Rodrik and asking ourselves “WHAT THE FUCK?” (can I hear an echo?) As soon as Catelyn goes South she runs to all the familiar places from 20 freaking years ago! Like it’s still the same. The same people can be trusted, the same places are safe. From Petyr to the Inn at the Crossroads juuuust because you’ve been there. Lame Catelyn. You’re just sooo lame that you think having manky hair and only one guard is enough to keep you out of politics. Especially when everyone and their squire too is on the road. Everyone. Just what are you teaching your daughters, huh?

Reading it again, seeing Catelyn feel the tug of family, she wants to go to her father, thinks she should go to her sister and SHOULD go home to Winterfell. All this before Tyrion ever shows up in the inn and I’m already leery of Catelyn in this chapter. She doesn’t have her mind on the Starks. The Starks are her family now but Catelyn never gave up on her identity as a Tully. She kept the gods she grew up with. She’s so infuriating as a character. She never once thinks she should take the advice of Ser Rodrik or the orders of her husband she was taught to obey (whether this is right or not isn’t the issue, Catelyn taught Sansa to defer to her future husband and so she defers to her own husband, but I guess only as long as they’re in the same room.) Catelyn really does think she is smarter than everyone around her. She’s just so sure that her sister has evidence to back up that crazy letter she sent. She’s just so sure that they won’t be recognized at the inn. There isn’t even an internal debate. The only question she has for herself is which family member she wants to run to more.

Clearly the Tully’s aren’t all bad. The Blackfish is pretty awesome, if not very ambitious. Hoster Tully seems to have been a very capable Lord when he was well. He made very good matches for his daughters. So where does all this crazy come from? Why are Lysa and Catelyn and Edmure always so damn SURE of themselves all the time? To their RUIN! Catelyn puts far too much stock in her family. Too much pride not enough brains. Ha.. brains. Perhaps that’s funny in light of Catelyn’s fate.. braaaaiiiiinnns.

Oh and Marillion.. HA! That ass. Hello! *waves* I totally hate him.I know.. I hate too much. I can’t help it when they’re all so STUPID. Plus, I’ve got no pity in my heart for a would-be rapist even if he was falsely imprisoned. It IS kind of poetic that his ultimate downfall is his involvement with the Tullys. SHUN THEM! THEY RUIN EVERYTHING! Or maybe that should be the new Tully motto?

I’m sure the Frey’s said the same thing. Haaaaa. Ok no. That’s not funny. The Freys are epic douchenozzles. We have to have standards people.

Back to Catelyn making the biggest mistake of the series.

Let’s assume that without evidence Catelyn’s word, Lysa’s word and a knife that may or may not have once belonged to Tyrion that may or may not have been involved in an attempted murder of a crippled child and the maiming of his Lady mother (we’ve only got Catelyn’s word on this against the power and influence of the Lannisters and it’s hilarious that Catelyn thinks the King’s justice would favor her rather than the Queen’s family) would be enough to hang Tyrion.

Then what? She arrests him because she CAN! Even if Tyrion WAS guilty of not at all successfully killing Bran, punishing him does nothing to solve/avenge the death of Jon Arryn. You take out the least loved of the Lannisters (by the Lannisters) and you give them a decades long excuse to cause House Stark a million problems with very little actual loss to them in the first place (sorry Tyrion). What we’re faced with here is Catelyn doing the equivalent of the classic, “Oh yea? Well, YOU’RE STUPID.” By using her Tully card to get Tyrion arrested by Tully supporters and then carting him off to a place where all he does is undermine Tully support by mocking them. All of them. I’m with Bronn whose entire inner monologue goes thusly, “Get me away from these stupid people! They may have some coin but they’re going to get me killed and they would never appreciate my awesomeness anyways.”

What is the difference between Catelyn and Sansa at this point? That when Catelyn orders people around for SOME UNKNOWN REASON everyone does what she says? Maybe Sansa is in a better situation because she can have bad ideas and she can’t actually act on them.

Honestly Zombie-ism was too good for her. Not only because just when I thought I was rid of her…she came back. I think GRRM had to make Lysa as batshit as she is just so you can fathom what Ned saw in Catelyn. I’m sure she’s loyal and she’s got long hair and everyone says she’s pretty… or maybe Ned took one look at Lysa and counted himself lucky.


  1. Just found this column at work yesterday and ended up reading all of them in one go. Love it, keep up the good work.

    Although I absolutely adore this series and love each and every character in their own way, I can totally see how you would consider Catelyn to not be the sharpest bulb in the drawer. And I can appreciate that there should probably never be a Sansa chapter directly following a Catelyn one.

  2. The person in this situation I really feel sorry for is Ser Rodrik. He has gone along on this hair brain mission to try and keep Catelyn safe. Without truly knowing what an absolute shit magnet that woman is. In my mind she has gained WMD status- with an erractic trigger. The best Ser Rodrik can do is try to advise. And know with certainty that the woman isn’t listening. He certainly can’t tell her what to do.
    Though I would have loved it if – when Catelyn stood up in the inn – He picked her up and bodily carried her ass out of there. saying something like “Sorry folks, my Lady has had a long journey and has clearly lost her mind.”
    Instead he had to go along for the ride.

    I would have just loved to hear Ser Rodriks internal monologue ( I can just hear him saying fuck a lot under his breath)
    ..Even for the entire journey after they came back from delivering the message. Once Ned made it clear the whole idea was of them coming, was retarded. I wonder if Ser Rodrik fantasises about smothering Cat in her sleep. I know I do.

    As a mother who had a child so sick in hospital that he almost died twice. (some years ago..he’s fine now.) I so don’t get Catelyn. Her reactions and motive are skewed in my opinion. Yes I had to leave my sons bedside to care for the rest of the family and the household. but I was never far from him either. The woman offends me. whenever I read a Cat chapter I constantly felt like screaming. “Get your shit together you batshit crazy bitch”…But maybe that’s just me.. 🙂

  3. @ Trihan – hi there and welcome! thank you for the lovely compliment; we proudly sponsor avoiding desk work here! and now you know wednesday will always have something good about it. 🙂

    @ saurian – you have opened a wonderful and previously untapped dimension to this story: WWSRT? now i am going to read future Cat chapters with that in mind!

    well, with Rachel and I being the two readers now you certainly don’t have to feel like it’s “just you” who simply cannot understand the woman. catelyn is a walking disaster, for sure…i mean, could she fuck things up any more if she were trying to act with that as the end goal? i’m honestly not sure…

  4. Martin’s characters make realistic decisions in my opinion. If I picked a random real life person and followed them around from the omniscient point of view I’m sure I’d fine a lot to criticize and the same if swapped places.

  5. I love the fact that I can thoroughly dislike Catelyn. Not because she is evil, kills puppies. Throws children out the window or cheats on her taxes.

    But because I can not agree with her choices. And the way she handles those choices.. I know I couldn’t do things the way she did. (doesn’t mean I’m right. it means I’m different)
    And that is so awesome. That an author can create people. Not just characters. We don’t like or relate or agree with everyone in our lives. Sometimes you can just not like a person on sight. Or instantly Just click and become the best of friends. That’s just how the individual works.
    GRRM made a relatable world then tweaked it toward the fantastic. and gave us people to journey with, not hero caricatures. love them or hate them. Find them boring or enthralling. It doesn’t matter because they tap into us and make us feel, to judge or back them. That’s how life is. Varying degrees of gray. And that’s why aSoIaF is so damn magical…Well part of the reason.

  6. damn this blog is nowhere near as enjoyable as it could have been. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  7. Elena & Rachel:

    Annnnd now I have that rap song in my head. On repeat. Thanks, ladies.

    I remember my initial read of the chapter, not so much thinking from Catelyn’s side (even though it’s a Catelyn POV), but from Tyrion’s side (“Oh, WHAT the FU–“) and feeling a stab of pity for the little guy (since he was, up to that point, my favorite character).

    But mostly I felt a rush of YESSSS! Because I DID see this as a fuck up on Catelyn’s part–I believed in my heart Tyrion wasn’t responsible for the assassination attempt on Bran–but I knew this… THIS… would really get the ball rolling.

    It felt that one event would be the first real dislodged pebble that was bound to create an avalanche of reaction in a world already filled with Stark/Lannister tension. And, loving stories as I do, my heart skipped a few beats in anticipation to the events that would surely follow.

    So while I did not necessarily love the chapter in and of itself (I did love the description of Masha Heddle’s sourleaf-stained teeth), I loved the ending for what it represented: plot careening forward.

  8. @Elena:

    Foreseeably, your Catelyn-bashing has reached ridiculous proportions at this point of the story.
    It is especially preposterous of you to pass your patently irrational and impulsive damnations as some kind of valid “point” with any “logic” to it. You are not making any logical points here, you are engaged in histrionic rambling because you don’t like something. In other words: You are being childish.


    “She arrests him because she CAN!”

    No. Catelyn arrests Tyrion because she MUST.* It is obvious that if he had not recognised her in the inn, she would have let him go.

    I find it really strange that a long-time reader as yourself is incapable of thoroughly reading and soberly judging a limited third-person account of one character’s actions, without interposing his knowledge and hindsight in order to invalidate an admittedly rapid but nevertheless reasonable decision under very adverse and dangerous circumstances.

    *: Mirroring your absurd assessment, I could not resist some hyperbole.
    Of course, Catelyn had other options. But most of them (including, naturally, to let Tyrion go back to King’s Landing or Casterly Rock after having recognised her) would have been detrimental to the Stark’s safety and left their family without any political clout.

  9. @ludwig – “histrionics”? I’m perfectly calm, dude.

    calmer’n you are…

  10. Yeah, that must be why you use CAPS LOCK to express your absurd judgements…

    In all of your Catelyn chapter reviews you misrepresent her as some kind of irrational termagant who’s deliberations and decisions lack “logic” – of which we are led to believe you are some kind of expert. Well, as someone who has studied logic, I have to break it to you: Your judgements do not display a proficiency with logic but a propensity for ludicrousness.
    There is no problem with not liking or not understanding a protagonist. But you (as well as Rachel) are constantly trying to pass your unchecked sentiment off as a reasonable assessment of the narrated events while, in fact, it isn’t. This has been pointed out to you and backed up with textual evidence before. Nothing against iInterpretation and identification but there are facts in the text and they show you to be wrong.

  11. Ludwig,

    I agree with you totally. The answer is to vote with your feet.

    On the other hand the not-Cat-chapter chapters here are usually pretty a good read, so lets not throw the baby out with the bath water…

  12. Yeah, totally with you on the Catelyn dislike. Least favorite character in the entire book by far.

  13. O, make no mistake, I really like this project and enjoy most of the chapter reviews. Also, Elena as well as Rachel are really good at writing from a passionate and engaged perspective.
    But this site’s perspective on Catelyn Stark was warped from the start: Even Jay (who is a very long-time reader) seems to be incapable of dispassionately judging Catelyn’s decisions in the novels and resorts to selective reading when presented with textual evidence that invalidates his position.
    I find it really disappointing because there are so many Catelyn-haters (especially among first-time readers) who could learn something from an experienced reader’s fair assessment. Well, hopefully someone schools them in on of their own awful Catelyn-hate-threads on… 😉

  14. Ludwig,

    I get it. Some people actually might think Catelyn is not as bat shit crazy as she is. Well she’s not exactly crazy, she is as is described in the reviews not really that smart.
    “check yo’self before you wreck yo’self” that’s the best phrase to describe her.

    What I wanted to ask though is why you feel inclined to go ranting on several websites against people thinking catelyn isn’t really the smartest person. Perhaps the fact that many people, including many experienced readers really don’t like or understand Catelyn might change your views. This site is made to portray people’s feelings on a (re)read, respect their opinions.
    I find it personally quite childish and annoying to see you on 2 websites in a few weeks time trying to destroy a discussion/review.

  15. I knew I’d seen you before! You were on the EW site referring to all those who disagreed with you as “the unwashed idiots”!

    Proving nothing, of course.

  16. You are assuming everyone and their mother didn’t already know that Catelyn was just in King’s Landing. Shit didn’t hit the fan until she arrested Tyrion.

    She could have just as easily played it like Littlefinger, and offered the guy a drink.

  17. yes. exactly. one of those moments where you say.. well shit… everything is about to get crazy.

    which it does.

  18. Agree with a few of the posters above. The Catelyn chatper reviews here are ludicrously painful to read. Enjoy your exercise in irrational vitriol.

  19. Are you even thinking about what you’re saying before you say them? She offers Tyrion a drink and suddenly Tyrion WON’T report back to the Lannisters that Catelyn was there? Or that this would make all the witnesses forget that Tyrion named her in front of them all and no one would hear that she was not at Winterfell, which she would only leave for dire reasons?

  20. You all do realize that if Catelyn doesn’t do what she does here, none of the rest of the story follows, right? Logic, your name is GRRM. Don’t blame the woman for the words the writer puts in her mouth. I’m jussayin.’

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