Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Tyrion IV

catelyn tyrion

“A Lannister always paid his debts. Kurleket would learn that someday, as would his friends Lharys and Mohor, and the good Ser Willis, and the sellswords Bronn and Chiggen. He planned an especially sharp lesson for Marillon…”

Synopsis : after being arrested/abducted at the Inn at the Crossroads, Tyrion Lannister learns that he is being taken to the Eyrie rather than to Winterfell. He’s not particularly thrilled about being outsmarted by Catelyn Stark, or about being accused of attempting to assassinate Bran. After the revelation of Littlefinger’s lies and Tyrion saving Catelyn’s life during an attack by the men of the Mountains of the Moon, Tyrion and Catelyn end up on an ambivalent note.

SPOILER WARNING: This chapter analysis, and all following, will contain spoilers for all Song of Ice and Fire novels and Game of Thrones episodes. Caveat lector.

Political Analysis:

Tyrion IV is a relatively short and straightforward chapter: Tyrion and Catelyn talk on the road to the Eyrie, they are attacked by mountain men, in that fight Tyrion saves Catelyn’s life for reasons unknown to even himself, and they finish their conversation about Tyrion’s putative responsibility for the (second) attempt on Bran’s life. However, a few political events of note do take place in this chapter.

The first event is the formation of a vendetta between Houses Stark and Lannister. From the first sentence, Tyrion “chalk[s] up one more debt owed to the Starks,” and we know how Lannisters feel about paying their debts (indeed, even as he’s put under arrest, Tyrion is marking people out for “rewards” and meting out his own brand of repayment to the singer who he partly blames for his arrest). Throughout the chapter, Tyrion is filled with “a bitter rage” that spirals beyond his immediate antagonist, damning “her and all the Starks.” The vendetta is both familial and personal; while Tyrion knows that his father will avenge the insult to the family name, what truly inspires such intensity of emotion is the damage done to his self image: “all his life Tyrion had prided himself on his cunning, the only gift the gods had seen fit to give him, and yet this seven-times-damned she-wolf Catelyn Stark had outwitted him at every turn.”

For her part, Catelyn Stark sneers at the very thought of “Lannister honor,” despite the very real price that Tywin and in his own way Tyrion place on the honor of their House, and draws a bright line between the honor of the Starks, who don’t murder people by the side of the road, and the Lannisters, who dispatch men with knives to slit the throats of children. Tyrion IV is right at the tipping point where this vendetta could be undone – in crisis, Catelyn is willing to accept the word of an honorable Lannister and arm her captive against the mountain men, and Tyrion is willing to save the life of his erstwhile kidnapper – but after this, there is no going back. 

For those who scorn Catelyn Stark as a political actor, and they are many, this chapter should stand as counter-evidence and rebuke. Tyrion, himself one of the nimblest politicians in A Song of Ice and Fire, admits that Catelyn Stark completely bests him without lifting a finger, and repeatedly. I’ve already discussed how presentism is largely responsible for the fandom’s selection of Catelyn arresting Tyrion as the one event that kicked off the War of Five Kings, but it’s also important for us to consider what Catelyn gains from Tyrion’s arrest: first, she has a potentially quite valuable hostage to use against the Lannisters.

Secondly (and this is the second political event in the chapter), she advances her investigation enormously. In one stroke, she learns that it was not Tyrion’s dagger, that “there is a serious flaw in Littlefinger’s fable…I never bet against my family,”  and that Littlefinger has been lying in the royal court about taking her virginity. Tyrion ironically benefits from the kidnapping by learning that Littlefinger set him up, and is working to poison the Starks against the Lannisters. (One of the most frustrating elements about A Clash of Kings for me is how little George R.R Martin does with Tyrion’s interactions with Littlefinger in that book, and in future books)

While I think Catelyn doesn’t get sufficient credit for her savvy, I don’t think Catelyn is perfect either, although she is being criticized for the wrong things. Kidnapping Tyrion and taking him to the Eyrie wasn’t where Catelyn screwed up; rather, it’s her actions after this point that are worthy of criticism. Potentially, Catelyn has everything she needs to unravel the entire Littlefinger Conspiracy: she knows that Littlefinger is clearly obsessed about her, to the point of spreading gossip about her virtue (which if Eddard ever heard about it would have absolutely provoked a duel to the death), which gives her motive; she knows that Littlefinger has lied to her about the Lannisters acting against her family, which is strongly suggestive of the fact that the Lannister Conspiracy against the Starks (as opposed to against the Baratheons) is being made up; and she knows that Littlefinger cannot be trusted. She doesn’t put the pieces together, in part because of her past history with the man (and an underlying feeling of guilt about his near-death, probably), but what I find worthy of reproach is that she doesn’t inform Eddard about any of this the moment she gets to the Eyrie. Or her father or Edmure, for that matter.

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hat tip to Bobcat9

The third event of political significance is the attack by the mountain men, and what it tells us about the military situation in the Vale. Quite different from most of Westeros, where the major threat to law and order comes either from inter-noble warfare or from outside (Wildling raiders, invasion from Essos, Ironborn pirates), the Vale’s enemies are internal – the mountain clans who “bowed to no law but the sword.” From the description in Catelyn IV, where she describes them “descending from the heights to rob and kill and melting away like snow whenever the knights rode out from the Vale in search of them,” the Mountains of the Moon seem locked in a permanent cycle of guerilla warfare, where at their best the Lords of Arryn can keep things sufficiently under control that well-armed bands can travel the High Road in safety. What we don’t know yet is that Lysa’s madness has begun to destabilize the Vale, since by pulling her military forces back to the Eyrie, she’s essentially encouraged the mountain clans to increase their raids on travelers – hence three assaults on a party of some fifteen armed men.

Even before they arrive at the Eyrie, it’s clear that something is rotten in the state of the Vale.

Historical Analysis:

The Italian word “vendetta” takes its origins from the Latin word “vindicta,” and that’s not an accident. The essence of a vendetta is a blood feud between two families, where a crime (often, but not necessarily a murder; the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud began often the theft of livestock) against an individual must be avenged by their blood relatives, and there’s nothing more vindictive than when murder and family are combined. It’s especially vindictive because vendettas have no terminus: the avenging of a crime against one family becomes a crime that needs to be avenged by the other, and so on for all time.

An inability to find resolution, save in the total destruction of one side or the other, is only one of the problems with vendetta.  As the historian Marc Bloch once wrote:

The Middle Ages, from beginning to end, and particularly the feudal era, lived under the sign of private vengeance. The onus, of course, lay above all on the wronged individual; vengeance was imposed on him as the most sacred of duties …The solitary individual, however, could do but little. Moreover, it was most commonly a death that had to be avenged…No moral obligation seemed more sacred than this … The whole kindred, therefore, placed as a rule under the command of a chieftain, took up arms to punish the murder of one of its members or merely a wrong that he had suffered.

—Marc Bloch, trans. L. A. Manyon, Feudal Society, Vol. I, 1965, p. 125-126

Not only does vendetta privilege the strong over the weak, and essentially turn justice into the prerogative of those with sufficient military force, but it also results in not merely a continuation of violence, but an expansion of violence. A crime of one individual against another turn into a conflict between anyone in two extended clans, and their friends and relatives, which means associated families get dragged in. It’s not surprising, therefore, that one of the chief duties of kingship classically was to act as a judge who could forestall vendettas, both by accumulating enough military force to cow both parties, but also by serving as an impartial mediator that both parties agreed would have the final say. Thus was begun the long transformation of crimes from offenses between private individuals that could only be settled through private means, than an act forbidden by the sovereign, who would then bear the responsibility for acting against those who challenged the king’s law.

Whether the king could make it stick with the barons or the barons with their knights was always a crucial indicator of the health of the state, and by this metric the Westerosi state seems relatively weak at all levels. In virtually every corner of the Seven Kingdoms, we can find evidence of ancient blood feuds that feudal overlords and kings are more often than not incapable of stopping: the Brackens and Blackwoods have been feuding for eight thousand years and it took a monarch of the caliber of Jaeherys the Wise to stop them for even a period of time, let alone the Tullys or most Targaryens or the Baratheons; in the North, the Boltons warred against the Starks for seven thousand years, and killed quite a few of their putative kings before bending the knee to the Winter Kings; the Westerlands is only recently free of feuding due to Tywin Lannister’s total war against the Reynes and Tarbecks; in the Reach, we have a number of Houses with the Florents in the lead who challenge the right to rule of the Tyrells and the Red vs. Green Fossaways; and in Dorne, Oberyn Martell seems to have started feuds as a form of entertainment.

What If?

As in any chapter where violence suddenly breaks out, the potential for sudden changes in history abound:

  • Tyrion doesn’t save Catelyn? In Tyrion IV, our eponymous protagonist makes a surprising decision to save the life of the woman who kidnapped him and accused him of attempted murder. To some extent, Tyrion doesn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter – if Catelyn dies, her fighting men have absolutely nothing stopping from them from leaving him behind as they hightail it out of the Mountains of the Moon.  However, if she dies, a lot changes: the Starks’ deal with the Freys might be very different or not happen at all (which would possibly force Robb into a head-on fight with Tywin’s army) – and if Robb’s hand doesn’t end up pledged to a Frey, it’s possible the Red Wedding is butterflied away entirely; if the Starks get across the Trident, Jaime is not released from imprisonment, which gives the Starks something to negotiate with when things start to go bad for them and they need to pull back to the North; and a whole bunch of Freys live longer lives. 
  • Tyrion dies? It’s quite possible that Tyrion, for all his unexpected battle-rage, could have died in the fight with the Mountain Men, and then a lot changes. Firstly, the Lannisters will now fight to the death against the Starks with no peace possible. Secondly, Tyrion never becomes Hand of the King, which means that Stannis’ ships will sail into a hail of wildfire but without the destructive impact of the fire-ships in the river and the boom chain across the Blackwater Rush. This means that Stannis’ army will make it across the Blackwater largely unharmed, and the walls of the city are breached. What happens next is tricky – Tywin will still probably make his bargain with the Tyrells and move against Stannis, but will probably arrive too late, allowing Stannis to lock the doors against him. Tywin and the Tyrells greatly outnumber Stannis, but now have to face an assault on the walls against an enemy ten times the size of Tyrion’s forces. Moreover, if Stannis can breach the Red Keep, the political situation changes dramatically: the Lannister-Tyrell alliance requires a royal marriage, and either Stannis holds the putative king and the Queen Mother hostage or he’s executed them both and now the Lannisters and Tyrells don’t have the basis for an alliance and are technically rebels against a sitting King, with Robb Stark still in the field with no love for either of them.
  • Catelyn does something with Tyrion’s information? Timing is now starting to get very tricky – it’s possible that Catelyn could get the news that Littlefinger lied about the second attempt on Bran’s life before Eddard resigns the Handship and then gets disabled in the street fight with Jaime Lannister, but it’s not likely. On the other hand, even if Catelyn is too late, giving Eddard forewarning that Littlefinger is acting against him could still be crucial in the final hours. Cutting Littlefinger out of the loop, and especially making sure that it’s Stark coins that buy the loyalty of the Gold Cloaks could have made the difference between overthrow and execution, and a successful dethroning of the false king and queen and mother and Hail King Stannis!

 Book vs. Show:

One thing that the HBO show does differently from the books is to modulate Tyrion’s “battle-fury;” still having him be active in combat (he saves Catelyn’s life and kills a man), but pulling back slightly from the unstoppable killing machine that he becomes at the Battle of the Green Fork and the siege of King’s Landing. I think it’s a good change, for the same reason that eliminating Tyrion’s inconsistent tumbling skills was a good change, in that it accommodates to the greater realism that comes from the transition from a written medium to a visual medium.


36 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Tyrion IV

  1. Brett says:

    I think Catelyn and Tyrion still could have resolved something once they were at the Eyrie, had

    1. Lysa not gone crazy, and

    2. Tyrion not opened his big mouth when her son insulted him. He tends to do that, and it really shows up as a weakness when I re-read the series.

  2. Abbey Battle says:

    If I might offer a suggestion as to why Lady Catelyn mysteriously failed to contact either her husband or her father (or even her brother) with some fairly useful information – absent any explicit statement in the text of her having not actually sending a message (it’s been some while since I’ve read the actual book) it would seem plausible to suggest that she attempted to do just that but failed by virtue of the fact that some agent of Littlefinger in the Vale (possibly even the half-mad Lady Arryn herself) ensured that it was not dispatched.

    Either that or Lyssa was just blatantly obstructive – in her own special, unstable way – and made it nearly impossible for Lady Catelyn to dispatch a missive (which some of her retinue may or may not have been smart enough to spin as holding both parties about to be engaged in a Trial by Combat incommunicado).

    I admit that there’s about as much explicit support in the text for this theory as their is for my theory about Robert’s weight gain, but I’d say it’s arguably more plausible (although the idea that Catelyn simply doesn’t trust any potential messenger in the Vale enough to entrust her message to them might be more plausible still – now that I think on it).

    • stevenattewell says:

      Absence of evidence not being evidence of absence – we don’t see her sending a message and no message ever arrives. We know that Catelyn is able to receive messages at the Eyrie, and the Maesters are supposed to be neutral. Moreover, we don’t actually see her ever thinking about sending a message, or hoping it got there on time, or wondering what Eddard thinks about all this.

      In fact, we don’t really see her ever think about the dagger and Littlefinger again. Which is weird, given how important it all was to her. My guess is that Catelyn simply refused to believe Tyrion, and then afterwards she was grieving/focusing on helping Robb and never thought about it again. Keep in mind, in the books, Catelyn doesn’t ever see Littlefinger again.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        Fair enough, you make a convincing point and I will yield to your superior knowledge of the text, as I freely admit mine is somewhat dated – although I would like to note for the record that (as we all know thanks to the sterling efforts of Grand Maester Pycelle) a Maester’s neutrality, like the oath of a knight and the sworn word of any man is only as good as the man who gives it AND choses to keep it.

        I must confess, I fear I’m trying to turn into the local ‘Food for Thought’ man and not doing the best job of doing so!

      • stevenattewell says:

        True, but Lysa’s maester doesn’t seem to be a hardened loyalist. In fact, he’s a bit of a drunken fool who babbles things to Catelyn he’s not supposed to.

    • Bwbah says:

      On Catelyn failing to contact anyone:

      I’d propose that the answer to that can be found back at the beginning of the book: Lysa’s coded message said, among other things, that the ravens from the Eyrie are not secure. Meeting Lysa’s maester was unlikely to change this perception.

      More generally, no one trusted the ravens to not be intercepted by their opponents and generally seemed to accept that guaranteeing their allies are in the dark was less dangerous than possibly alerting enemies.

  3. Yannai says:

    re: Tyrion’s battle prowess – while the scaling back of it in the show is, for a change, not something I have a problem with, I never saw a real problem either with that or with his “tumbling”. Tyrion is noted quite early on to have very powerful upper body strength, one that he uses again and again during the course of the series, not just in battles but also when he kills Shae, slaps Joffrey or twists Cersei’s arm when he grows tired of her slapping him around. The problem is not that he is too weak to fight, it’s that his arms are too short for traditional weapon-based battle – but that’s a problem that can be compensated.for, using the correct tactics. It’s also worth noting that he is Jaime’s brother – even if he never received formal training by a master-at-arms (and we don’t actually know that for certain), having the best swordsman in the known world for a beloved brother certainly doesn’t hurt when you need tips on how to fight. For that matter, the fact Tyrion has a custom-made armor implies that he has had at least some rudimentary training at arms while growing up at Casterly Rock, so his battle scenes were never much of a problem for me.

  4. axrendale says:

    Another great post Steven. The write-up about vendettas was particularly good.

    However, there is one political aspect of this chapter that I think you’ve overlooked, and to me it’s a crucial one: this is the first chapter where we begin to see Tyrion’s own political talents really put to use. Up until now, most of the information about “Tyrion the political actor” that we have had has come from inference: we know that he is highly intelligent (from his reading and witty dialogue) and a shrewd observer (from his insights into the people and situations he encounters); and we know that he can be a “people person” when he wants to be (forming friendships with Jon Snow and the NW leadership) and has a humanistic streak that leads him to do noble deeds (making a saddle for Bran, slapping Joffrey, etc), as well as a petty and vengeful streak. Prior to this point however, we have not seen him in a situation where he is forced to use the wits that he is so proud of to manage a potentially dangerous situation to produce a desired political outcome (in this case, his survival and freedom). As he notes (rather bitterly), his political trial-by-fire at Catelyn’s hands has not gotten off to a good start – he failed to recognize in time that she could pose a serious threat to him, and is now paying the price for his arrogance. Having reached a low-point however, we now get to see what he is capable of – exploiting every opportunity he gets to improve his situation (after helping to fight off the wildlings, in his captors’ eyes he has now earned the right to ride armed and unbound, with a warm cloak), planting doubts in Catelyn’s mind about the validity of her accusations, and most crucially of all, beginning to establish a sense of camaraderie with the sellsword Bronn, that he will later gamble his life on when he demands a trial by combat. This pattern of Tyrion showing his greatest skill in extricating himself from bad situations that are partly of his making is going to repeat itself many times over the course of the series.

    If we turn the topic to a discussion of parallels within the story, it has occurred to me that the clash between Tyrion and Catelyn in these chapters can be viewed as a microcosm of the dynamic that will later play out between Tyrion’s father and Catelyn’s son in the War of the Five Kings. Tyrion resembles his father in many ways (“I believe I am you, writ small”), and Tywin certainly fell prey to the same overconfidence in his own superiority – so supremely sure that he was more cunning than anyone else that he completely failed to register that Robb Stark might prove to be a dangerous threat to him. He paid the price for this hubris when Robb outmaneuvered him – outmaneuvered him just as completely in fact, as Catelyn did Tyrion. Father and son even both relied on the same method of striking back at their opponents: they both tried to subvert the loyalties of the Starks’ ostensible allies, and met with success – Tyrion turned Bronn, and Tywin turned the Boltons.


    With regard to Tyrion and Littlefinger – on my first read through ACOK, I had the same thought that you did about the interactions (or lack thereof) between the two considering that Tyrion knows it was Littlefinger who set him up with the lie about the dagger (although it should be noted that Tyrion did not know Littlefinger very well at this point, and did not begin to regard him as a true danger until part of the way through ACOK, by which point he had concluded that the man was too well “armored in gold” to move against him directly), on re-reads I have come to feel that this may be a part of the second book where there is more than meets the eye. An argument can be made that a large part of Tyrion’s actions as acting-Hand constitute a kind of shadow war with Littlefinger, as he removes men known to be in his pay (starting with Janos Slynt), dangles Harrenhal and then snatches it away, empowers his rival Varys at his expense, and tries to bribe the Kettleblacks (who are in fact Littlefinger’s agents). Baelish responds with moves that are far more deadly, as he lays the groundwork for the assassination of Joffrey and his kidnapping of Sansa.


    Turning to discussion of Catelyn, I tend to view her actions in taking Tyrion as her hostage in a somewhat more critical light than you do (though I agree that a lot of people go horribly overboard on this and many other points of her character and actions within the plot). Despite the benefits in her eyes of having the Imp as a hostage, from my reading of the book, she does not put *nearly* enough thought into the possibilities of retaliation by the Lannisters, who whatever else one may think of them, are certainly not known as push-overs. Furthermore, the manner in which she rallied aid in making the capture (invoking her father’s name to command the loyalties of his vassals) may have been neccessary if she was to make Tyrion her hostage in the first place, it had the effect of painting a giant target on the Riverlands for public collusion with the Starks’ moves against the Lannisters, with the result that Catelyn’s girlhood home was the first place to feel the weight of Tywin’s wrath, and became the primary theatre in which the war between the Starks and Lannisters was fought. You are right to note that presentism has led many fans to innaccurately label her actions in capturing Tyrion as the determining event in the outbreak of the war, but it was certainly the defining event in the emergence of the Stark-Lannister vendetta. To use an historical comparison, it could be said that Catelyn’s capture of Tyrion played a role in the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings similar to the role that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand played in the outbreak of the First World War (or to use an in-series example, the role that Rhaegar Targaryen’s “kidnapping” of Lyanna Stark played in the outbreak of Robert’s rebellion) – the spark that ignited the fuse, so to speak.

    As a political actor, Catelyn’s greatest strengths are in the realms of counsel and negotiation, both of which she demonstrates a great affinity with and has a number of accomplishments to her record (from arranging the Frey alliance to giving consistently shrewd advice to Robb). When she is in situations where she is able to exercise a greater degree of direct personal control however, she has a tendancy to give equal weight to her emotional reasoning as to her intellectual reasoning – something that may or may not be a character flaw, depending on how one looks at it. The results – from capturing Tyrion to releasing Jaime – are certainly tragic, but then tragedy is a central element of Catelyn Stark’s storyline (something that may be a partial contributor to the dislike that some readers have for her character).

    Another important What-If – the fact that Tyrion is able to establish himself in Catelyn’s eyes as “trustworthy” (for a Lannister) is later going to have very important consequences when she decides to release his brother from prison. The entire reason that Cat decided to entrust Brienne with the mission of escorting Jaime back to King’s Landing was her belief that they made it, there was at least a modicum of chance that Tyrion might actually keep his word and send her daughters back to her. If Tyrion had not made such a good impression, Catelyn might have left Jaime to rot in his cell, which could have led to any number of dramatic consequences.

    • Abbey Battle says:

      You make a series of excellent points Axerendale; if I might butt in and possibly embarrass myself one last time in relation to this particular chapter, I would like to suggest that Tyrion failed to take more overt action against Littlefinger mostly due to the fact that he already had a full-blown War, a veritable rogues gallery of enemies (some at his back, some coming straight at his walls) and a powder-keg of a city, not to mention the snake-pit of a court that reduced the city to that state in the first place, to deal with.

      Given the rather extensive, immediate and immense demands on his time and ingenuity, it is perhaps unsurprising that Littlefinger ranked low on Tyrion Lannister’s priority list – for all the suspicions the new Hand of the King appears to have nursed regarding the Master of Coin, Littlefinger does not actually seem to have acted against him either overtly or directly enough to justify Tyrion spending invaluable time conducting an investigation into the Master of Coin’s affairs (and when he later had PLENTY of time on his hands he had neither friends nor influence nor power to conduct the investigation – given the abrupt end of his tenure as Hand).

      • axrendale says:

        Thank you. 🙂

        What you say is basically true, although I would note that even with all of those pressing concerns, Tyrion did in fact conduct an investigation into Littlefinger’s background, which was how he discovered how the Master of Coin had risen to his position, as well as the extent of his powerbase – thus he comes to his conclusion that Littlefinger has “armored himself in gold”, and that he cannot move directly against him until he has found a way to remove or replace the numerous henchmen that he has scattered among the royal bureaucracy.

      • stevenattewell says:

        I will agree that Tyrion wanted to, but I am surprised that he never went to his father or anyone else and said “Littlefinger set me up to get kidnapped by the Starks,” or had simply told Bronn to slit Littlefinger’s throat.

        Ironically, Tyrion’s failure to do anything about this is largely responsible for Littlefinger having a free hand to assassinate Joffrey and implicate Tyrion for a second time for murder.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Wow. A lot to take in and all of it good.

      Re: Tyrion – we’ve seen him so far as a good political observer and thinker, but not yet as a political actor, you’re quite right. In my mind, though, it’s not really until he survives his encounter with Shagga, son of Dolf that we see him at his best – while his performance at the Eyrie is quite impressive, as I’ll discuss when we get to the chapter, it’s also desperate. He’s risking everything on Bronn winning, and comes quite close to being executed then and there, and his own internal monologue is condemning himself for being too smart for his own good. It’s when he conjures up an army out of sheer personality that we really see the real Tyrion.

      I didn’t see the parallel with the war, and I really like it.

      Re: Catelyn – go back and read her chapter when she’s thinking about the crossroads, before she gets to the inn. She knows the strategic situation, and in part the reason that she kidnaps Tyrion is that in her mind (as she’s been told by her husband) war is about to break out anyway. And as I will argue to the bitter end, her real mistake is a failure to communicate her actions to the rest of her faction. If Eddard and Edmure had known what she had done when she had done it and what she learned immediately thereafter, the War of the Five Kings would have started completely differently and might have been forestalled outright.

      I like your what-if.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Regarding Littlefinger – I agree about the shadow war, but as I say in my essay on Tyrion as Hand, the big mistake Tyrion makes is that he doesn’t (and maybe can’t) make a decisive blow against Littlefinger. And as Machiavelli will tell you, you don’t hurt a prince unless you can hurt him so badly he can’t retaliate.

      Or to quote Omar Little, “You come at the King, you best not miss.”

  5. axrendale says:

    To throw in another historical comparison, the Hill Tribes of the Vale seem to me somewhat reminescent of the celtic tribes that lived in the Alps prior to the early imperial period of Roman history. With their fierce martial tradition, they often came into conflict with the more prosperous residents of the fertile lands in northern Italy, and posed an especial danger as raiders and bandits for anyone trying to use the roads and passes for transportation – even large groups of armed men (to name two famous examples, Hannibal and Julius Caesar both fought against these tribes during their campaigns). Their history gradually came to an end as Roman military governors made efforts to exert greater administrative control over the region, which was absorbed into the imperial provinces.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Yeah, I wanted to do something on the historical parallels of the Mountain Clans of the Mountains of the Moon, (as opposed to the mountain clans of the North who are loyal to House Stark), but I ran out of time. It would have involved going back to Braudel’s Mediterranean in the Age of Phillip II, and that’s not something to be done lightly.

  6. Andrew says:

    Nice one again, Steven, but to nitpick, Catelyn doesn’t believe TYrion is innocent as revealed in later POV chapters in AGoT and ACoK.

    The names of the different clans could have been the sigils of their houses. The mountain clans could possibly be descended from noble houses of the First Men who were driven from the Vale for refusing to cast aside the Old Gods for the Seven or swear fealty to the Arryns. They then had to turn to raiding to survive at first, but eventually it took its toll on them as the centuries passed. The chief reason people turned to banditry in the Middle Ages was to deal with times of hardship.

    • stevenattewell says:

      I’m not so sure – at the moment, she’s wondering why Littlefinger would have lied to her. In any case, it’s incredibly easy for Eddard to check whether Littlefinger told the truth – but she never brings up that this fact has been challenged.

      Re the names: it’s possible, although the Burned Men and Black Ears have more obvious reasons for their names. It’s likely that the mountain clans were descendants of loyalists of the Mountain Kings who ruled the Vale prior to the arrival of Artys Arryn, the first Gryphon King of the Andals of the Vale.

  7. […] I mentioned back in Tyrion IV, one of the side-effects of Lysa’s paranoid call for all of the knights of the Vale to […]

  8. […] Tyrion IV (Tyrion as evidence that Catelyn is good at politics, the real mistake in taking Tyrion is failing to inform, history of the vendetta) […]

  9. Hi, I’m reading the books for the 2nd time while starting to listen to the “Podcast of Ice and Fire”. In this chapter I discovered a line I’d like to get others opinions on. It’s right after Tyrion is taken by Catelyn and he realizes that they are on the eastern road heading for the Eyrie instead of going to Winterfell:
    “Even now, long days later, the memory filled him with a bitter rage.”
    I’m taking this to mean that Tyrion lives through the series and is alive “even now”. Any thoughts?

    • Not exactly. In that chapter, it’s been several days hard riding since they left the Inn. He’s remembering back to her seizing him at the Inn.

    • Giacomo says:

      I’m sorry to re-open a thread, but YES, FINALLY! I read the book quite some time ago but that sentence has stuck with me ever since. Never has Martin used the present as a reference time. I see something in there too

  10. Ok, guess you’re right. The chapter starts off with him remembering the days past. Damn , thought I found something, hehe

  11. […] two and two together. So why does she repeatedly refuse to believe what the Lannister brothers are independently telling her; why repeatedly refuse to believe that Littlefinger might have lied to her? My only explanation is […]

  12. […] moment where Tyrion is most loved, he is also most like Jaime. Unlike his desperate combat on the High Road, and distinct from his attempt to survive in the confusion of the Green Fork, Tyrion feels […]

  13. […] by all and the singer who insulted Tyrion by playing songs of his father’s victories and of his own defeat now sings of Tyrion’s victory. More importantly, we see Tywin expressing love and approval […]

  14. […] about sleeping with noble ladies is gross and wildly inappropriate – part of his constant obsession with his childhood spent with the Tully sisters that undercuts his plans more than once and will likely be his downfall. Rather, […]

  15. […] Karstark is trying to argue that his actions fit within the framework of revenge killing and thus are at least sanctioned by custom. This argument requires a good deal of disingenuous […]

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