She’s new, I’m the re-reader. Together we are rereading George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and getting our POV on. Let’s get to Tyrion Lannister! One of the greatest fantasy characters of all time.
If you need to catch-up, last week we covered Bran.
An A Game of Thrones Chapter by Chapter Read and React
Okay, Martin, you got me.
Actually, that’s not really true, is it? My expectation of Bran’s death was based on what I’ve heard over the years about Martin’s usage of his main characters. I am honestly not sure if I’d have assumed the kid was a goner if I were reading this blind. Then again, if I were reading this blind I’d probably not have to stop and think about these things—it would have been a gasp and a quick flip of the page to see whether the next chapter was at his funeral or watching him bury his wolf if it ran under him to break his fall or what.
Also, all of you who’ve made comments about our pace can proceed to have a laugh at me now. Page 92 in my copy (the end of this chapter) marked the first time I had to consciously stop myself from going forward. Hhhh…I expect every chapter—at least those in the main narrative likely to continue whatever action was just left off—will be harder to resist than the last. Damn it.
So I’m almost disappointed that Bran is going to survive. Yes, at this point I am assuming he’s going to make some manner of recovery; in a narrative sense, the maester’s words to Tyrion are also true for Bran’s part in the story: if he were going to die he would have by now. I’m not saying I wanted Bran to die—in fact, on an emotional level I’m happy he didn’t, because I like the kid—but it does undercut my reasons 1-2 from last time for why I expected him to die. So now I’m wondering, did all the talk I heard about Martin give me a warped expectation in the other direction than typical high fantasy epics, so that I’ll come away from this series thinking, “Well, THAT wasn’t nearly as brutal as everyone always told me”?
I suppose since Bran’s not going to die, the HBO crew is spared the unenviable (dare I say, impossible?) task of filming a child’s fall in as beautiful and horrific a manner as the opening 5 minutes of Antichrist did. I confess, I was wondering if they would handle it in a similar way.
Guessing not, now.
It also looks like the majority of the Starks will go on south while Bran is still comatose, hence disposing quite nicely of my reason 3 he needed to die for the narrative. This brings up questions I have for how Catelyn will handle Bran when he wakes up. First, I don’t know whether he will wake up with brain damage, either amnesia or actually becomes a simpleton—I do hope not, because in a sense that would be too convenient in a narrative sense, to have him not remember that shocking conversation. On the other hand, having him overhear it eight chapters in might also be considered too convenient, in the same narrative sense, so perhaps turn-about is fair. Anyway.
My guesses for what she does if he doesn’t wake up with a faulty brain and can tell her what happened to him are that she either claims to Ned that he can’t remember the incident, or sends him to live with her sister and her son, since Lysa is so paranoid already.
I don’t know how much either course would really protect him, but in my limited imagination I can’t think of anything else she could do. Doubt she would claim he died and send him to live somewhere in secret, even though that does seem the most likely to keep him alive. But she seems too proud to do that, in the sense that it would both be a massive lie and deny one of her sons his heritage. As a mother she would probably consider it, but ultimately reject the idea.
I LOVE the direwolf connection, that the wolf might be keeping Bran alive. That. Is. Awesome.
You know who I also love? Tyrion. Loved him from the second he stood up to Joffrey. He had me at “I beg to differ, my nephew,” lol. I mean, I had liked him before, when he gave Jon the pep talk, but I loved him after just one chapter from his point of view.
I thought Jaime’s comment at the end, I wonder whose side you’re on, or whatever, was curious.
Because to me, it seems the Lannisters have what they want—a seat on the throne next generation and influence on it right now. Ironically probably the biggest threat to Cersei’s position as queen is herself, if she conspires against her husband to protect herself and her family. Robert doesn’t seem interested in either falling in love with someone besides Ned’s dead sister or fighting another civil war, which would likely ensue if he offended Papa-in-law by divorcing (or whatever equivalent they have, poisoning or sending into exile or whatever) his daughter.
And Tyrion doesn’t have to conspire against Robert to be on the side of the Lannisters as a family; being on the side of his siblings, apart from the family as a whole, is an altogether different proposition. If Jaime recognizes that (which his even asking that question implies he does), then it seems to me he recognizes that what he’s doing is wrong or, if you don’t want to put it in moral terms, not really furthering the family fortunes.
In my book the pagination ended on the right hand, and I haven’t even looked at who’s up next. But I know this much—I’m off to read it right now!
–Do not read on if you have not read the series through A Feast for Crows and want to avoid spoilers–
Combo-smackin’ fools and chuggin’ dark brew. For breakfast. That’s how Tyrion gets down.
Other than that, this feel likes a new reader-centric chapter, because I find myself with very little to add on this one. What’s interesting and may validate my statement is that Elena is pumped with what seemed to me – even with the greatest character in fantasy history – to be one of the most “filler” that we’ve received. This is a character chapter, yet, she’s still seems to be considering the big picture, the novel’s namesake. While I’m hesitant to not call the prior chapters “character pieces” this one seems exclusive to that cause, offering concise snapshots and a part of me is more than a little excited/interested in seeing if the Tyrion chapters continue in this way.
As I’ve noted this before, Tyrion – while certainly capable of selfishness — is a character who looks outward, an observer able to view a world that he is not the center of, a perspective probably granted to him because of his condition. There’s probably no larger reason for Tyrion being such a fan favorite, as he not only offers us glimpses (beyond himself) of what’s around him, and offers one that is reasonably discerning, for a lack of better term (relatively) ‘worldly”.
We’ve talked about readers before when we talked abut Tyrion’s appearance in the previous Jon chapter and I think there are some similarities that Tyrion shares with the POVs offered by Sam Tarly and Davos that endear us to them in different ways from the other characters. There’s also the thought that Tyrion is unique because his position allows him to be around people of station (and their retainers), but none are threatened by him – they all feel they have his measure. The first four sentences:
Somewhere in the great stone maze of Winterfell, a wolf howled. The sound hung over the castle like a flag of mourning.
Tyrion Lannister looked up from his books and shivered, though the library was snug and warm. Something about the howling of a wolf took a man.
Atmospheric and a great way to bring you back from the Bran cliffhanger from the chapter before. There’s also another layer of reset, sure-fire targeting, as our first time experiencing the world through Tyrion, his head is in a book. We are readers. A good book, a window; a night sitting that turns into a restless journey to dawn. We’ve all been there. I touched on Tyrion’s outlook before, and what I most like is that he is a “sharer”.
In later chapters we see that he enjoys imparting wisdom and seeing others share knowledge or the ability to experience and gather such. He will help Bran; later on in one of my personal favorite scenes, he quizzes young Podrick Payne on the Dorne House Sigils as the Red Viper arrives with his entourage to take his brother’s seat on the small council. Tyrion is, however, very aware of his station and offers advice to even the crown prince and his very dangerous dog. Sandor’s words to Tyrion, “The prince will remember that, little lord,” become more chilling because we know just how unstable Joff is. What’s also interesting is that when Jaime becomes (more) interesting he exhibits the same characteristics.
In this chapter we learn quite a bit of basics about several characters, mostly a Lannister-on-Lannister perspective. Elena touches on something I brought up earlier in this project, namely, Cersei seeming to be in the best position possible right now and anything extreme or risky is the worst thing she can do.
I still don’t understand why she doesn’t embrace Stark as the Queen the Hand is supposed to be loyal to. Her son is the heir, her father is perhaps the powerful lord in the seven Kingdoms who NOBODY would want to infuriate for a frivolous reason – setting aside the Lannisters seem an almost impossible thought.
Robert doesn’t seem destined for a long life as it is, and as Elena noted, whatever motivation or aspirations he had in the past , they are now gone. Look, I get that she fears Ned may spark the King back into some semblance of his old form and that he would be judicious with his investigation of Aryn’s death (which she isn’t guilty of anyway), but her line of thinking seems preposterous– she really has ALREADY won. You kind of get that Jaime see’s this himself.
“Is Robert still abed?” Tyrion asked as he seated himself, uninvited, at the table.
His sister peered at him with the same expression of faint distaste she had worn since the day he was born. “The king has not slept at all,” she told him. “He is with Lord Eddard. He has taken their sorrow deeply to heart.”
I’ve talked about how I liked Robert. His main flaw is that he goes all out for what he loves, but has little ambition beyond that. The guy is an extremist and a future piece of dialogue that I always loved was Ned’s echoing this thought. As much a Tywin and the Lannisters are respected for their power and influence, Ned thinks:
and if Lord Tywin dared to rouse the west, Robert would smash him as he had smashed Rhaegar Targaryen on the Trident. He could see it all so clearly.
While Ned’s outlook is rather simple and no doubt somewhat clouded when considering his best friend and own days of glory, seeing this quote (which occurs later in this book) makes me step away from condemning Cersei above. This is what she fears and Ned actually thinks it. We know that Ned tends to have a set way of viewing things, but he does know the heart of Robert. Robert is the king who still likes to enter melee.
Regarding Bran’s survival, I kind of think I’d be unaffected if I was a new reader and his death wouldn’t mean much to me at this point, and it would almost be a shortcut and cheap because he is a kid.
Thus far, the only unique attachment we sense is the brief bit where Catelyn went a little beyond in her not wanting Bran to go to court giving us a general impression that if she has a favorite child, it may be Bran. Let’s face it, at this point – if a new reader – as awesome as the book has been, one shouldn’t really have too much invested in anybody yet.
“Not near soon enough,” Cersei said. Then she frowned. “Are we leaving?” she echoed. “What about you? Gods, don’t tell me you are staying here?”
Tyrion shrugged. “Benjen Stark is returning to the Night’s Watch with his brother’s bastard. I have a mind to go with them and see this Wall we have all heard so much of.”
This seems so beautifully normal to me. Again, the world isn’t all about him and somebody in his position doesn’t have a lot to do and has resources. Of course he likes to travel and visit places that he perhaps has only read about, or as he tells it, “No, I just want to stand on top of the Wall and piss off the edge of the world.”
The one element that did seem to introduce itself was duality of being a Lannister for Tyrion. On one hand it gives him station, protection and wealth.
It completely affords him the lifestyle to not just survive but thrive in his condition and as we do know, while Tywin did some jacked-up shit to Tyrion, there are examples of families who made children with much less physical deficiencies or “valuable” or “preferred” attributes have been let go, like the aforementioned Sam Tarly or even the Waymar Royce from the prologue.
Tyrion likes to drink, wench, and learn. He’s Tony Stark, except ugly and a dwarf. Being a Lannister is a bit of a savior. That said, just about every one of his problems is based on his family.
Two more points stuck out. The above idea that Tyrion has a tendency for looking out (he does this for Joff here, thought Joff would not appreciate it) I think has to reflect on his own relationship with his father. Second, and this a bit out of left-field, but the interaction with Sandor and Joff saying, “Send a dog to kill a dog!” reminded me of Tywin’s conversation with Tyrion when he was discussing his disappointment in Clegane’s “promotion” to the Kingsguard (and Selmy’s removal).
It was just interesting to me knowing Tywin was so irate about Aerys basically affirming his (Tywin’s) subordinate status when refusing the notion of Cersei wedding Rhaegar. While I know we may be talking degrees, Tywin being a great lord and at the time, perhaps the third most powerful man in Westeros behind the King and Crown Prince (this is, however, discussable at this point) and there being a much larger disparity between his station and that of a Sandor, Gregor or a Lorch.
I don’t know why I thought of it, but it’s hard looking at a scene with the Lannister brood in attendance without considering the father who looms so large in all of their lives. I want to talk more about the proposed Targaryen/Lannister union a bit later when we don’t have to hide behind so many spoilers(for Elena) in the comment section. That one situation had such a huge effect on this family, both in their future actions and general (I think) demeanor.
There are a couple word choices in this chapter that I just want to point out, of little consequence perhaps, but caught my eye.
He took a swallow of strong black beer to wash it all down, and grinned up wolfishly at Jaime.
For obvious reasons.
“Even if the boy does live, he will be a cripple. Worse than a cripple. A grotesque. Give me a good clean death.”
This struck me as odd, and it may be because I don’t know what Jaime means by “grotesque”, but I felt no verbal jousting (at this point) going on or any malicious intent on Jaime’s part, but it struck me as an odd thing to say to Tyrion.
Speaking of which – – and continuing my mancrushish thoughts from the last chapter – don’t we kind of dig the Jaime/Tyrion relationship? It always struck me that here we have a twin of Cersei, somebody very close to her, who affords Tyrion some level of respect. I have to admit that one of the more powerful emotional moments for me thus far was the shattering of this trust later. Brothers aren’t too lucky in this series.
Jaime Lannister regarded his brother thoughtfully with those cool green eyes. “Stark will never consent to leave Winterfell with his son lingering in the shadow of death.”
This makes me wonder if Jaime processed the two-birds-one-stone before dropping Bran. In saying that, I wonder if Tyrion’s suspicion is based on his knowledge of his family’s ambition or because he thinks Bran caught his brother and sister (for the life – and I know I’m going to be made to feel dumb – of me I can’t recall if Tyrion even knows about the latter, but I want to assume he does).
You ever play those video games where you can interact with a lot of things that don’t serve any particular or direct point? They don’t make you hit harder, they don’t raise your AC or spell resistance, don’t offer immunities or even a feat?
In my day, I played the hell out of various MMORPGs and no matter how useless I knew (not to mention take up space in my inventory) they were, I always scooped up stray books I saw on shelves. I knew they had no strategic value and rarely even offered anything beyond the thinnest context in the game, but shit, you can’t leave books around a reader, even if he is on the way to lay the smackdown on some undead disciple of Vecna. That’s the type of person you have to be to lose sleep reading “a hundred year-old discourse on the changing of the seasons” — which was one of the texts Tyrion was reading.
More than anything, I got that Tyrion wakes up and has his siblings for breakfast. The beautiful Queen of the Realm and the infamous Kingslayer have a younger brother…and he’s a player.
I’m also once again and continually fascinated with how much I love Tyrion, and I recall even when I first read the book how impressed I was at the author’s ability to get that response with this type of character. We are talking about a series that would be represented by no less than a dozen when considering my favorite characters in speculative fiction.
In a genre that has given us icons like a Conan, billions in revenues with Harry Potter, and hundreds of others, the glory of Tyrion isn’t just that he’s this fantastically amusing and moving character. For me, it’s more than that: Martin gives us an epic claim. It’s not a slightly off South American locale, an oddly whimsical London street, some drug induced journey or fevre fever dream that doesn’t want to commit. Martin didn’t put us in the discussion, Tyrion is what’s has to be discussed.
Returning. Once and future. We’ve had and seen them all and more. Remember though, Martin said it himself, for just a moment,Tyrion Lannister stood tall as a king.
Up next: we pass it back to Jon Snow!