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 27, Eddard.
I have basically two reactions to this chapter: (1) Wait, did Ned Stark just crack a joke?; and, (2) I fucking knew it! I knew that little shit wasn’t actually Robert’s son!
So we have Ned cringing about the tournament being held in his “honor” and some more examples of Robert’s carelessness. He couldn’t be bothered to hire extra city guardsmen to keep the peace?—this is actually puzzling to me. It kind of sounds like Robert does this tournament shit all the time, so wouldn’t the city have figured out crowd control, NOLA style, those two years back when the Knight of Flowers won and Tyrion won Littlefinger’s knife…or the tourney two years before that, or the one two years before that…? And then Ned’s exasperation that “Robert honestly seemed to think he should feel honored” was just more proof that Robert doesn’t realize Ned’s done with that relationship.
I love how charmingly prudish Ned is here. “I’ve heard enough about whores for one day” and stalking out. Lolz. Kind of sounds like he’d get along with Stannis, who I am now quite curious about. What did he know about what Jon Arryn discovered, and is that why he fled to Dragonstone—was that why Lysa wanted to send her son to be fostered there? Then when Stannis again comes up in the context of visiting a brothel with Jon Arryn, Ned is “incredulous” because Stannis is basically totally unlike Robert. I can see easily how a brother of Robert so close in age to him could intentionally become his foil, hence prudish where Robert is promiscuous. He and Ned could drink all night complaining about Robert’s women.
I actually chuckled when Ned had his little crack about wishing Lann the Tricksters was there “to winkle the truth out of [that] damnable book.” Yes, yes he did just make a joke. Ned! Didn’t know you had it in you, old boy.
He does it again later with Jory, about Stannis coming back for the tourney being too lucky to happen—“In other words, not bloody likely.”
We get a lot of descriptions of the city and the people in it for the tourney, none of which stuck out to me as particularly interesting or noteworthy. Just basic medieval bustle. Meh. It was a good reminder of where this part of the story is grounded, but of little interest to me beyond that.
The thing with the portrait of Loras’s sister caught my attention more on my second read of this chapter than it did on the first pass, having seen where the chapter ends (with one of Robert’s bastards). The “does she remind you of anyone” did not ring true as her being a Lyanna look-alike. I assumed there was someone else Renly thought Ned might see in her face, which made me wonder if he was trying to imply Robert had cuckholded someone higher up the social chain–if Margaery were his daughter. Or maybe he was poking Ned about his bastard’s mother being unknown, like maybe he’d heard that Ashara Dayne (sp??) story and wondered if Ned had got after more than one abandoned sister whilst campaigning.
Then we get to the one game-changing aspect of this chapter, which is Ned discovering that Jon Arryn had been to see a bastard son of Robert just before he died. My immediate reaction to Ned’s question at the end, but why?, was DUH BECAUSE JOFFREY IS NOT ROBERT’S SON, AND JON ARRYN FOUND OUT OR SUSPECTED AND WANTED A REAL HEIR.
Now, I realize there is some dramatic irony to this, in that we the audience know that Cersei and Jaime are fuckin’, and we come to this series with our 5th grade biology lessons in Mendel squares to know that a blonde and a blond throw a blond always, whereas a blond and a brunette only do half the time. Or not at all if, as Jon Arryn’s dying words and the fact that Robert’s look-alike bastard apprentice armorer’s mother was blonde imply, Robert is a BB brunette. In that case no combination of BBxbb yields a blond son. The seed is strong, indeed.
Anyway, so obviously this is something the reader will pick up on more quickly than Ned, although in my opinion it should not be a strong jump of logic for him for one simple reason: Jon Arryn wasn’t the one taking care of Gendry’s settlement. If he cared enough about Robert’s bastard for the sake of the boy himself, not what he represented, then he would have been the one taking him down to be apprenticed and paying the armorer’s fee, or at the very least aware of it. But he was not, which means that he was looking for Robert’s bastard…and a man who sees the king as his own son would only be doing that if there were something inadequate about the king’s legal sons. And while they might leave something to be desired in the personality departments, like Samwell Tarley they have none of them given their father (and by extension, or perhaps I should say in reality, his Hand) a reason to disown them. Therefore…they must not be his sons.
So the only question that remains is…how’d Jon Arryn find out?
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 podcast Elena and Rachel–your resident Ladies of Ice and Fire–anchor, with a review of each week’s episode of the HBO series.
–Do not read on if you have not read the series through A Feast for Crows and want to avoid spoilers–
Hahaha… Stannis and Ned staying up all night and drinking together? IS ELENA READING THE SAME BOOK AS ME? I started laughing when I read that. Oh Elena, you’ve made the mistake of expecting Stannis to be a reasonable man. Be not curious of Stannis, if there’s anyone in Westeros that can out-dull Ned, it’s Stannis. He of the jaw-clenching and the rule following.
Can you imagine? Does Stannis even drink? No, he can’t possibly drink. He’d sit there and sip water out of the smallest available straw just to make it more difficult and get all uppity with Ned when commiserating. I’ll bet they did NOT get along. But this DOES get me thinking. If Ned was able to riddle out (ok, with a huge amount of help from Littlefinger) that Jon was researching House Baratheon and House Lannister (Hey Ned.. why WOULD Jon be obsessed with a book that intricately describes how people look! I’ll bet Littlefinger is playing a do-over of the same crap with Ned that he must have pulled with Jon, but Ned isn’t that smart. He’s got Littlefinger practically jumping around in front of him trying to get him to make the connections; he can’t see that Littlefinger is leading him down the same path!) and Stannis was also on these little “let’s go see the bastard” field trips.. why didn’t Stannis start poking around too?
Oh right, because Stannis has no imagination. (Neither does Ned.) It must have been hard for Stannis to grow up in the shadow of his popular and by all accounts handsome older brother. Then he gets stuck on Dragonstone and married to that horrible wife of his and his daughter gets some sort of disfiguring disease… You’d think Stannis would develop a sense of humor just to cope. Is this typical middle child syndrome? I myself am an only child, I have no idea.
Was Jon going to tell Robert his suspicions? That Joffrey was not his son? Who knows if he knew jack about the incest (I’m going to say no.) all he knew was that the Prince was not of the Baratheon line. Yea, Jon thought of Robert as a son in many ways but look at Jon’s ACTUAL SON. Jon wasn’t out telling Lysa to quit the crazy and stop breastfeeding the boy! He was arranging for Robin (ugh) to go to Dragonstone, where tight-ass Stannis would presumably goose step Robin to manliness. I guess Jon didn’t have the time? How do you stand by and watch your insane wife breast feed your son FOR 6 YEARS?! A little LATE to plan on sending the kid to Stannis. Should have sent him a long time ago. And why to Stannis? Why not Ned? Who was Stannis to Jon Arryn? Was Jon secretly planning on getting rid of Robert? Why Why Whyyyy! Shouldn’t Jon have been maneuvering to get a grip on the Lannisters, who were obviously up in some shady dishonorable business? He can’t have expected to just announce that Joffrey was illegitimate and not have Tywin’s fist go straight up his sphincter!
Wow… Ok I don’t know where that came from. Powerful visual. Let’s move on.
Back to the bastards. So Jon was inspecting Robert Baratheon’s bastards. The best of whom is Gendry because he’s got an awesome helmet. Elena is right, Jon couldn’t have been the one handling all the bastards and paying apprentice fees. So who was?
My guess is definitely Renly. He and Loras are cooking up some scheme to tempt Robert with Margaery (Hey Ned, do you think Margaery looks like Lyanna? Yea? What do you mean No?) Who else but Renly and Loras would think setting Gendry up with the most visual of all the armor makers is a good idea? He’s certainly not “hidden”. He’s right out in the open where all the nobles can go and order their armor and see the kid in the back that looks JUST LIKE THE KING. But hey, that’s where Renly and Loras go to get their armor. Why wouldn’t that be an awesome place for Gendry? Now, I have no idea how they found Gendry (let’s just all point at Littlefinger) but find him they did and they put him in a place where they could find him again. I guess they would need Gendry if the plan to get a more desirable recognized bastard on Margaery failed. What was the plan there? Get Margaery pregnant, kill Cersei and marry Robert to her? Or was the plan to just say announce that Joffrey was illegitimate but here’s a great recognized bastard with Tyrell money and support to replace the illegitimate heir? That would SO NOT HAPPEN. 1. No bastard would ever inherit the throne I don’t care who he was and 2. TYWIN’S FIST UP SPHINCTERS!
Let’s assume that Jon wasn’t as dumb as Ned. Let’s say he had thought about it and came up with half a plan.
Ok, so try this on for size:
I have a perfect plan. I can send my pansy son and the horrible prince to the most uptight guy I know. To a place where there isn’t anything REMOTELY pansy or horrible to indulge in. I can do this because this uptight dude is the horrible prince’s uncle and hey I’m sending my kid too so it can’t be funny business. So I’ll do that. While I’m doing that I’ll try to come up with a way to prove that said hostage away in an impregnable fortress is illegitimate. That might keep Tywin at bay for a while. After that I have no idea. I don’t know who can be prince, Robert will just have to make a legitimate heir with the Queen?
This plan will work. The only person I have to trust is Littlefinger.
Do you like my plan?
PS, This chapter also sees the introduction of Beric Dondarrion. And isn’t HE just a can of corpse eating insects?
– originally published 5/18/2011
Elena Nola is the imperial editrix for the BSC empire. She likes genre books, weird movies, and obscure references. She lives in New Orleans, where almost every day is good enough for good times. Contrary to dogma, Rachel Parker is the mind-killer. She is a nerd, writer, and art historian living in Brooklyn, NY. You can read more of her posts at scienceofdiscontent.blogspot.com, or follow @DarthRachel on twitter.