Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Eddard IX

“Ned Stark kept his vows. He thought of the promises he’d made Lyanna as she lay dying, and the price he’d paid to keep them.”

Synopsis: after finding the last of Robert Baratheon‘s bastards, Eddard Stark and his men are attacked by Jaime Lannister and a group of Lannister soldiers. The Stark men are murdered, and Eddard’s leg is broken when his horse falls on top of him.

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:

Eddard IX has the feeling of a noir action piece rather than much in the way of politics – Detective Eddard Stark finds one more clue, but it doesn’t get him to the answers he’s looking for, and then he gets jumped by a bunch of gangsters in the rain and his partner ends up dead. Swords and horses aside, it’s not hard to imagine Mickey Spillane or Dashiell Hammett writing something like this. So…probably a short recap.

What we do get is further confirmation that the Baratheon look is absolutely de-rigeur in Robert’s bastards, and a strong sense that Robert and Lyanna’s marriage might not have been the happiest (although Lyanna doesn’t seem to be that offended by Robert’s straying, certainly not to the extent Cersei will be). We also see Ned rethinking his perceptions of his old friend Robert, recognizing that he and his old friend share fundamentally different views on honor.

An interesting moment comes when Lord Stark finally just straight-up asks Littlefinger about what he knows about Robert’s bastards – interesting both because Ned had never asked before or anyone else for that matter, and because it shows that Littlefinger is clearly trying to hide what he knows about Jon Arryn’s investigation, mentioning Edric Storm to derail the conversation. At this point, I’m pretty convinced that Littlefinger has known this whole time about Cersei’s bastards, enjoying the “lovely tight little shiver inside” that he knew something Ned didn’t know. At the same time, we learn something truly horrific about Cersei, something I feel a lot of her defenders don’t contend with: she had two babies murdered and a woman sold into slavery for an “affront to Lannister pride.” I think one can empathize with Cersei’s plight but still note that this is deeply evil.

 When the Starks are stopped by the Lannisters who suddenly find them in a massive city, two interesting things happen. First is that, despite Littlefinger’s rather transparent ruse to call the city guard, the Lannister men let him through their lines unchallenged, which I take as further evidence that Littlefinger set up this ambush. What that betokens is unclear: it’s possible that Littlefinger offered to spy on Ned for the Lannisters when Ned first arrived, which would explain how he had access to Ser Gregor, and why he kept his place on the Small Council despite Cersei considering him an enemy, or that this was an overture of Littlefinger’s as he began thinking about which side he was going to back when Robert died. 

Second, we see Eddard thinking rather strategically and pragmatically when he threatens Tyrion’s life if he’s harmed, which shows that at least in settings he’s familiar with like battle, Eddard is more than simply an honorable man. And Jaime oddly begs off fighting to let the others do his dirty work for him – possibly a sign of GRRM still in the process of developing this character, or that Jaime’s vaunted courage doesn’t extend to fights where he wouldn’t get any glory.

And just like that, Eddard’s men are dead and he’s got a broken leg. This is absolutely crucial, as we’ll see later.

Historical Analysis:

There’s not much to discuss this week, except maybe the history of prostitution, but the upcoming Daenerys IV will be absolutely chockablock with historical parallels.

What If?

If these isn’t a lot of historical parallels to discuss, this chapter, like any fight, opens up some really important hypotheticals for what might have happened had the violent clash of men with swords on horses in the driving rain gone slightly different:

  • Eddard died? Either due to the wound going septic or the femoral artery getting nicked or landing wrong, Eddard Stark could easily have died in this alley-brawl. This changes the future dramatically: a grieving and remorseful Robert Baratheon would brand Jaime Lannister an outlaw, and would respond to Ser Gregor’s attack on the Riverlands as a challenge to his royal authority; Robb Stark might not rush down to save his father’s life and instead musters the whole strength of the North to crush House Lannister, and in all likelihood  Jaime Lannister loses his head to Robb Stark after the Battle of the Whispering Woods. So potentially the War of Five Kings starts with House Baratheon and House Stark united against House Lannister, and public opinion in King’s Landing changed, with Eddard Stark as the murdered loyalist and the Lannisters as murderous traitors. 
  • Jaime stays for the fight? I always thought it was a bit out of character for Jaime Lannister to let anyone else do his fighting for him; possibly a sign of GRRM’s “gardener” method of writing where Jaime’s character hadn’t fully grown yet as they would once he started writing from Jaime’s POV. A lot could hang on the outcome: Jaime could easily end up like Eddard, given the treacherous nature of trying to ride a horse on rain-slicked cobbles, which means that he can’t flee from King’s Landing and wouldn’t be able to lead an army in the field – which means Tywin’s left flank comes under the command of the more cautious Kevan Lannister, which might mean that Edmure Tully has more time to rally his banners and drill his men, and doesn’t get ambushed and captured, which in turn would make Robb’s shift over the Twins unnecessary – setting up an even fight between Robb and Tywin’s armies, which could virtually end the war for either side.  Jaime would definitely still be on the scene when the Gold Cloaks arrive, which possibly means he gets put on trial for murder and violating the King’s Peace, but in any case definitely means that he’s not able to lead an army in the Riverlands, and so on and so forth.
  • Eddard doesn’t break his leg? This is the chief consequence of the fight. Eddard’s leg getting broken is absolutely crucial for GRRM for both character reasons (it allows a way for him to bring in the Tower of Joy vision) and for plot reasons: Ned having a broken leg means he can’t lead the king’s armies into the Riverlands, means that his realization about Jon Arryn’s investigation is delayed until Robert Baratheon leaves for his fatal hunting trip, and means that he can’t get his children out of King’s Landing before his disastrous coup attempt. As I said before with Catelyn Stark, there’s an element of Greek tragedy here: Eddard is hobbled, brought low by a complete accident, so that when the final clash comes, he’s helpless before his enemies. Without this, it’s much more likely that Robert Baratheon learns the truth, which sets off the Cersei/Jaime execution (exile at best), the Tyrell plan comes into effect as Robert now needs a new queen, a new heir, and a new bank, and the Stark/Tully/Baratheon/probably Arryn alliance comes together to smack down the Lannisters…in other words, the War of Five Kings is completely unrecognizable.

Book vs. Show:

Right up there with Eddard shouting “BAELOR!” to Yoren, or Arya becoming Tywin’s cupbearer, this is my favorite innovation of the HBO show. In the books, we never get to see Eddard fight, and, save for a few jousts and his duel with Brienne, we never get to see Jaime fight before he loses their hand. This fight gives Eddard Stark a properly heroic moment where he goes toe-to-toe with the best swordsman in the Seven Kingdoms and holds his own, something that really builds up respect for the protagonist right before his downfall. Arguably, it’s a better depiction of Jaime’s character, from his ruthless predatory handling of Jory Cassel’s attack to his honest enjoyment of a true challenge to his anger and frustration about having his artistic moment ruined by a thoughtless underling.

So I’ll just leave this here:


55 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Eddard IX

  1. Yannai says:

    Yeah, even I can’t really complain about the TV adaptation this time, aside from a tiny nitpick about the way Ned and Jaime seem to be more or less fairly matched, whereas Jaime was supposed to be the greatest swordsman of his era before his maiming according to GRRM. While I can see Jaime underestimating an opponent he’d never fought before at first, if this scene happened in the books, the moment he regrouped there would be bits of Stark littering the street.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Yes and no. Battle is chaotic, and the strongest man is by no means guaranteed a victory. The Other was far more powerful than Samwell Tarly and lost, the Mountain was still killed by Oberyn Martell, Jorah Mormont triumphed at the tourney at Lannisport despite being a mediocre jouster.

      • shaunpeacock says:

        I agree, Ned was running on a healthy dose of you killed my friend so even if Jaime is better by far as a swordsman, he’s facing a hell of a lot of aggression. That being said, I still think that, had Red Cloak #7 not intervened, Ned would have been chopped to pieces.

      • stevenattewell says:


      • Balmiki says:

        As the show makes some deviations from the books, with some artistic liberties in place(without making major changes in terms of later impacts on the general plot line), I think the readers and viewers are kind of free to make their own assertions in terms of what might have been the outcome. In the show it is clear from the beginning that both sides of the duel are evenly matched. And they should be. We all know that Jaime was probably the best swordsman in the seven kingdoms, but that might be a result of some PR as well! I mean obviously he was excellent and had superior skills and talent than an average lordling or knight, leave aside a common foot-soldier. But as Brienne points out in the show……everyone likes to praise a famous name. On the other hand Ned was a lord in the far North, grim faced, always serious and ‘preparing for the impending winter’. So he had less PR mechanisms behind him. But to give him his credit, he (probably) grew up sparring(again probably…..we do not know if the boys were sparring in the free time in the Vale or Ned stood outside grim faced while Robert screwed his ‘wenches’) with a young Robert Baratheon(when he was muscled like a maiden’s dream!), fought in the front lines of a number of major decisive and bloody battles in Robert’s rebellion and in the Greyjoy rebellion. Most important is the piece where he fights the three best Kingsguard ever in front of the Tower of Joy and SURVIVED. I know…I know….they were seven against three(obvious numerical superiority) and he barely made it with the help of Howland Reed. But consider this hypothesis. Imagine beating Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Mas Oyama in a fight to death with a bunch of ordinary black-belts who are good and tough, but not near in the same league as their opponents. Even if there is a bit of luck involved, it says a lot about your abilities as a fighter if you survive such a fight and your side technically ‘wins’! And Jaime once professed that Arthur Dayne could make origami out of Lorras(very talented and had defeated Jaime in a joust once) and gang with his left hand while he was taking a piss with his right. So a man surviving Dent, Whent and Oswell is not your average swordsman.
        Now coming back to the fight. I think the most probable outcome of an uninterrupted fight would have been both Ned and Jaime suffering terrible injuries and then dying outright or a slow death from blood loss. Or at least one of them being maimed for good.This is what normally happens with two very hard, very bad-ass, equally deadly and equally(more or less) matched fighters fight, with the lives of their family members at stake. Not to mention wearing no Armour at all and using very high quality Valyrian steel. That would have been an interesting outcome don’t you think??

        • stevenattewell says:

          The outcome of ANY fight between two experienced swordsmen is likely to be two injured swordsmen. (Although neither Jaime nor Eddard were using Valyrian steel in that fight – Eddard was using a longsword, not his two-handed greatsword Ice)

          Although for fairness’ sake, I do have to mention that GRRM mentioned that book-Jaime would have won that fight. Not that Ned wasn’t a good swordsman, but Jaime pre-captivity and mutilation was the best in Westeros according to the author. However, GRRM has also pointed out that there are a huge number of factors that go into any fight such that you can’t really tell who’s going to win a fight.

    • Abbey Battle says:

      I’d argue that this is in keeping with the fundamental logic of Westeros – no matter how good you are, even if you’re the very best, you’re never going to win without effort and you might not win even if you give it your all.

      • stevenattewell says:

        Precisely. As Hobbes said, in a war of all against all, even the strongest man is not safe from the weakest man.

    • Eurazian says:

      A key aspect here is that Ned is trying to kill Jaimie but Jaimie wants Ned alive. So Jaimie would be holding back on what he is capable of. But even so, Ned is no slouch with the sword either.

  2. shaunpeacock says:

    I guess we’ll never know.

    Do you think there is some point, prior to Robert dying, that the WoFK (or something similar) became inevitable? The times I’m thinking are Tyrion’s arrest or the duel in this chapter. For me its hard to see the starks and lannisters walking away from either of those events unless Robert was willing to prevent it by force, which he isn’t willing or capable of doing.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Hard to say. Tywin doesn’t fuck around, so when Tyrion’s arrested, he’s going straight for the Tullys’ throat and trying to capture someone important enough to trade and to show that you don’t touch a Lannister without paying for it.

      But once Mummer’s Ford happens, he’s attacked a party under the king’s banner – at that point, Tywin’s technically a rebel, traitor, and outlaw. From there, you either achieve total victory or you’re doomed.

      Robert probably could have forced a climbdown – and I think Tywin would have stopped at getting Tyrion back and an apology plus Gregor’s raiding to save face. Especially if the alternative was fighting a war against 3 Houses on his lonesome.

      • ahorwitt says:

        I think you’re a bit too optimistic about Robert’s capabilities at this point. The man responds to Tyrion’s kidnapping and the slaughter of Ned’s men in the streets by *going hunting*. If Ned’s leg wasn’t injured and he left the city and rode out to the Riverlands, I’ve got to think that Robert would be a dead man. With Lannister men all over the place and Cersei and Littlefinger both wanting Robert gone, someone would be able to bump him off. Then things play out mostly the same way except Ned becomes Tywin’s prisoner rather than Cersei’s (as axrendale says below).

      • stevenattewell says:

        ahorwitt – and ordering Ned to release Tyrion. If Ned does that, I think Tywin stops at this point.

  3. axrendale says:

    Regarding the noir-ish feel of this scene, there is a rather brilliant article on that makes the case for Ned’s storyline sharing many of the attributes of Raymond Chandler-style detective noir:

    The piece is addressed mostly to the show adaptation rather than the books, but makes a good point I think in observing that at least a part of Ned’s tragic fate derived from his faithful belief that uncovering the truth would be sufficient to carry the day – an attitude that does a lot to explain his curious treatment of Cersei after he finally extracts a confession from her in the Godswood.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Brilliant essay. Now I want to do a noir version of Game of Thrones.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        According to the essay, all you need to do is make it Black-and-White, then add a voiceover; maybe you could splice in something from the Audiobooks?

      • stevenattewell says:

        Nah, I think if you want to do it right, you need to rewrite so it’s closer to noir dialogue.

  4. axrendale says:

    I definitely agree that having Ned and Jaime duel with each other was one of the best changes that the show made in the adaptation. I thought that on the whole, Jaime was one of the two characters that the first season of the show did the best job with in fleshing out through changed or additional scenes (the other was Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon) compared to the first book. In hindsight, a lot of Jaime’s character in AGOT comes through as being a red herring – it is very easy for first-time readers to get the impression that he is developing as one of the Big Bads of the series, and that he is himself ambitious for power (amongst other misimpressions). A part of this could be, as you note, that the author was still developing the character at this point, but I think that more of it has to do with the limited number of perspectives we get on him at this point – apart from Tyrion, it’s basically just the moments when he appears as an adversary/threat to one or more of the Starks (as opposed to his prison conversation with Catelyn in ACOK, which I believe is one of the best-written pieces in the series, and in which a different picture of him starts to emerge).

    I imagine that what triggered the confrontation on Jaime’s end was learning for the first time about the circumstances of his brother’s capture (could Littlefinger, who almost certainly would have recieved word from Lysa, have been the one who broke the news?) after which he rounds up some guardsmen (was Cersei involved in this decision?), and immediately rides off to confront Ned (I’m somewhat ambiguous about whether Littlefinger gave him the location – while it’s certainly feasible, I think that Jaime could have found Ned without help, since he wasn’t exactly keeping his movements a secret) without really knowing what he’s going to do when he meets him. I imagine that book!Jaime probably wanted to have a confrontation like the one in the show, but realises that it’s not really an option when Ned points out the implications of Tyrion being a hostage. Frustrated in his ability to resolve the situation with his favorite method (swift and dramatic violence), Jaime can’t resist having his goons teach Ned a “lesson” by killing his men, because the alternative would have been to bluster feebly before he flees to city to seek direction (and an army) from his father.

    The fact that Jaime leaves the fight early does have a very important effect however: it means that he doesn’t know about Ned’s injury when he leaves the city, which means that his father never learns about it, which means that Tywin will send Gregor to ravage the Riverlands in the belief that it will be Ned leading the royal response (enabling Tywin to capture him and effect a hostage-exchange). There are a number of important What-Ifs tied up in this – if Ned had ended up as Tywin’s prisoner instead of Cersei’s (and therefore gets kept alive in the dungeons of Casterly Rock), then it has dramatic implications for the development of the Stark-Lannister war that follows (assuming that Robert still dies as per OTL).

    • phatwalda says:

      Quoting axrendale: “I imagine that book!Jaime probably wanted to have a confrontation like the one in the show, but realises that it’s not really an option when Ned points out the implications of Tyrion being a hostage. Frustrated in his ability to resolve the situation with his favorite method (swift and dramatic violence), Jaime can’t resist having his goons teach Ned a ‘lesson’ by killing his men, because the alternative would have been to bluster feebly before he flees to city to seek direction (and an army) from his father.”

      Absolutely. Jaime may also have been aware that his father (to whom his “vaunted courage” never applied) wouldn’t find his personally cutting Ned down in the street to be a productive action.

      To state the minority viewpoint, the Ned/Jaime duel was the thing I liked *least* about the first season show. GRRM sets us up for a conventional hero/villain sword fight, only to have it immediately fizzle out in a random accident and inglorious slaughter, furthering the fantasy-trope-subverting project of the narrative. The show’s writers give us … a conventional hero/villain sword fight. Gotta love Jaime’s facial expressions, though.

      • stevenattewell says:

        A conventional hero/villain sword fight usually doesn’t end with the hero having all of his friends murdered and getting kneecapped by some random guard.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Yes – it’s a red herring where the reveal works brilliantly in ASOS. However, because the show doesn’t have POVs to work through, you have to show your hand earlier.

      Those are good What Ifs. If Ned’s captured by Tywin and then Jaime’s captured by Robb, Ned doesn’t get executed and a prisoner exchange probably takes place.

    • John says:

      I had thought Tywin’s strategy was devised and put into effect before Jaime even reached Casterly Rock.

      • John says:

        And to go further – Tywin would almost certainly have heard what happened to Ned by raven from Pycelle long before Jaime gets to Casterly Rock. Gregor’s already reaving the Riverlands whether or not Jaime knows that Ned got injured.

  5. Abbey Battle says:

    Axrendale, your comment above provides an interesting and (to my mind) plausible interpretation of Ser Jaime’s actions as an early deconstruction of his reputation as the ‘stab first, hack later, then stab some more’ Kingslayer.

    Alternatively he might simply have been unable to close the gap between himself and Ned, owing to what I suspect must be press of men and horse-flesh in the streets of Kings Landing.

    I’m also prone to agree with the idea that Littlefinger has probably been feeding the Lannisters informations regarding Ned’s movements (if only to build up a reserve of political capital and goodwill with the faction best able to balance out Lord Stark’s animosity, should he finally work out WHY he’s being led around by the nose). I do doubt that he participated in the planning of this particular ambush, mostly because there doesn’t actually SEEM to have been a plan (which would explain why, for want of a better word, Ser Jaime fumbled the whole business).

    At a guess if Littlefinger HAD been party to the planning, the whole business would have more closely resembled the devastating ambush sprung on Ned’s abortive coup; I sincerely doubt Littlefinger would risk his own precious hide to spring a trap that didn’t close with mechanical precision on his prey (I cannot help but see his flight in this chapter as a more typical response to actual danger than his blade-at-the-throat moment with Ned, presumably staged on his part to stress the importance of his role in delivering Lord Eddard up to the Queen).

    • axrendale says:

      Agreed on both points. Regardless of whatever information the Lannisters might have been getting from Littlefinger, this particular incident smacks of Jaime’s reckless impetuosity.

    • stevenattewell says:

      I do think he planned it – because how else did Jaime find him? King’s Landing is a HUGE city, and Ned’s going to/coming from a place that Jaime would never have expected him to be.

      It’s not that devastating because Littlefinger doesn’t want Ned dead yet for several reasons: he wants Ned to suffer before the finale, he hasn’t yet gotten his deal with Cersei finalized, and he’s keeping his options open in case Renly or Stannis make a move for a coup.

      • John says:

        I’m willing to accept the possiblity that Littlefinger was responsible for Jaime learning where Ned was. I am highly, highly dubious that he told Jaime (or Cersei) personally. If that happens, he’s risking the possibility of one of the Lannisters letting slip to Ned that Littlefinger was responsible, and he still wants Ned to trust him.

      • stevenattewell says:

        1. Why would the Lannisters do that? It’s against their interests.
        2. Why would Ned trust a Lannister?

      • Abbey Battle says:

        I’m inclined to say that Littlefinger fed Ser Jaime the information regarding Ned’s whereabouts, but I doubt he was in at the planning session so to speak, not least because it’s hard to see how Littlefinger profits from this particular massacre (and if there’s one thing you can predict about Lord Baelish, it’s his reliable habit of serving his own interests with all the efficiency his employees display in the original service industry).

        Although to be honest, it would not be hard to see the arrangement of this incident as an … opening overture in the courtship of the Lannister faction which climaxes with the betrayal of Lord Eddard under the Iron Throne.

      • stevenattewell says:

        AbbeyBattle – I think you just answered your own question. The advantage to Littlefinger is that it gives him an in with the Lannisters so that he can make an offer later with the Goldcloaks. As for planning, he wouldn’t have to. All he’d have to say is “Stark will be here at this time.”

  6. Abbey Battle says:

    Indeed – although I wonder if it’s strictly accurate to call Ser Jaime reckless, even if he obviously IS impetuous; his long-term survival at court and his battlefield successes make me suspect that he’s the latter, but not the former .

    Or to put it another way, he seems capable of behaving with a passable amount of discretion for long intervals right up until the point he does something lunatic and displays a remarkable ability to survive these fits more or less intact right up until that little affair under the Black Goat.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Well, he doesn’t really do much, which explains his survival at court. It’s easy to survive if you’re not a power player.

      As for his battlefield successes, one’s an uneven fight where he bowls over 4,000 men with his 15,000 and the other’s a real gamble where he attacks Edmure’s 16,000 men judging that he can spook the green Tully forces.

      Then look what happens at the Battle of the Whispering Woods – he personally goes off charging after a few hundred men in Tully colors who’ve been attacking his supply lines, and lets his few hundred men get separated from his main army and then attacked from three sides and overwhelmed, getting himself captured.

      Jaime’s a reckless man, because for most of his life he’s been personally good enough to win in a fight even when his gamble fails. It’s only after he loses his hand that he gains the strategic sense that he demonstrably lacked.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        Maester Steven, that’s hard to argue against, though I would suggest that if Ser Jaime were ENTIRELY bereft of strategic sense then Lord Tywin would never have given him command of such a portion of the Lannister forces, son or no (House Proud he may be, but never one to let sentiment get in the way – although Emotion proves more of a stumbling block).

        I would also like to suggest that Jaime has never lacked strategic sense, merely acquired a bad habit of letting his own peculiar brand of knightly temper cloud that judgement at inopportune points – which I would argue further points to his being an impulsive, rather than a strictly reckless character.

        After all, as we students of history know, just getting an army ten thousand+ strong going, keeping it going and winning victories at it’s head (even against relatively small forces, much less those equal or greater in number) argues at least some competence on a logistic and strategic level (even if it’s much-assisted by a steady leadership cadre); in addition his siege of Riverrun seems to have been run by the numbers (even that doughty veteran Uncle Kevan Lannister can find no fault with it).

        In all honesty, I cannot call Ser Jaime anything like a genius, but I would argue that he hardly lacked strategic sense even if he DID ignore it at inopportune moments.

        On a related note, I’m looking forward to seeing how you plan to address the War of the Five Kings as an occurrence distinct from, yet integral or at least parallel to the plot of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ – in some ways the battles we don’t see are those that interest me most and I’ll be especially interested in seeing if you plan to give your take on how they might have happened.

      • stevenattewell says:

        He’s not bereft of strategic sense, but like many historical generals on a hot winning streak, Jaime’s problem is that he doesn’t think he can lose so he takes risks that a more sober general wouldn’t.

        I don’t think he’s a bad general by any means, and he gets much better in AFFC, but AGOT Jaime reminds me a lot of General Custer, someone who’s unbroken track record of success has gone to his head.

      • axrendale says:

        The magnificent golden hair is also quite reminiscent of Custer. Just saying.

        In fact, the Battle of Little Bighorn is suddenly striking me as having a very similar vibe to the Battle of the Whispering Wood. Interesting.

  7. Abbey Battle says:

    The comparison is just too apt for me to disagree!

  8. c3j1v62 says:

    I just wanted to say that the conversation between Cersei and Robert is my favorite add-on to season 1 GoT. That is all.

  9. RobTheYoungWolf says:

    Slightly unrelated, but do you know who ended up inheriting Dawn and the title of Sword of Morning after the events in the tower of joy? As far as I know, neither the sword nor the title are mentioned after then, which is slightly odd, as it’s a one of a kind relic of great importance to the Dayne house. Also, what exactly does being the “Sword of Morning” entail, besides wielding Dawn? Any duties or responsibilities, or is it merely an honorary position?

    • stevenattewell says:

      Well, it’s not a hereditary position – Dawn is passed to the knight deemed most worthy of it, and the Daynes are ultimately more the keepers than the owners of the blade, even though many Daynes have born the blade.

      So there’s probably a level of competence and virtue involved, given what we know of Arthur Dayne.

      Interestingly, Dawn is not a Valyrian steel sword, but forged from the heart of a fallen star. Which has lead some to theorize that, just as the coming of Azor Ahai is symbolized by a comet, Dawn may be the foundation on which Lightbringer is built.

      • RobTheYoungWolf says:

        In that case, has there ever been a Sword of Morning outside of the Dayne family, or will the family keep possession of the blade until a worthy candidate from within the house earns the right to carry it? I would have trouble imagining the sword passing from the family, as so much of their identity is tied to it. (Starfall and their coat-of-arms) Speaking of Lightbringer (Azor-Ahai’s, not Stannis’s), what are your thoughts of it being metaphorical opposed to an actual blade? There’s an abundance of magical/impressive swords, it would seems slightly over-done for GRRM to introduce a new one. Possibly Lightbringer is a person or another object?

        • stevenattewell says:

          I don’t know if anyone outside of the family has ever earned it. The larger point is that, unlike with the Valyrian steel swords of other Houses, it’s not automatically inherited by the lord of House Dayne.

          No, I think Lightbringer is an object, but the important thing about it is what creating it does to the wielder.

  10. […] I’ve said before, Ned has to be literally hobbled in order for the War of Five Kings to happen. If Catelyn’s […]

  11. […] to weep;” in Eddard X there’s his fever dream of the Tower of Joy; in Eddard IX, “riding through the rainy night, Ned saw Jon Snow’s face in front of him;” as […]

  12. […] Eddard IX (Eddard as noir detective, how the fight could have gone very differently […]

  13. Son of fire says:

    lightsabers & GOT fight scenes are all sorts of epic

  14. Rachel says:

    ** At the same time, we learn something truly horrific about Cersei, something I feel a lot of her defenders don’t contend with: she had two babies murdered and a woman sold into slavery for an “affront to Lannister pride.” **

    Cersei was certainly vindictive with Robert’s bastards in ACOS, but I think she had an extra motivation here: the woman had been a servant of Casterly Rock, which meant two Baratheon bastards would be growing up right under her father’s nose. As we see later Cersei is still deeply intimidated by and frightened of Tywin, and especially dreads the idea of him finding out about her incest.

  15. […] linked to his idea of being totally above the rules (see him attacking the Hand of the King in Eddard IX, threatening to kill Robert in Cersei V of AFFC, and his statements later in the chapter about […]

  16. […] biggest villains in the series to date. It was Jaime Lannister who flung Bran from the tower, who attacked Ned in King’s Landing, and whose defeat by Robb is the major Stark victory to date. And here GRRM drops us inside his […]

  17. […] and would be exposed for his deceptions, which suggests that Littlefinger’s arranging of Ned’s attack was designed to prevent this from happening by shifting attention from the legal to the military […]

  18. […] their selfish ends (which happens so often throughout the series, from Cersei’s affairs to Jaime attacking Ned to Cersei screwing up the coup). Indeed, I think a big part of the reason why Jaime is so […]

  19. Bwbah says:

    On Jaime not staying for the fight:

    He didn’t want to kill Ned, believing that would make Tyrion’s life forfeit, and Ned had a name as a dangerous swordsman; after all, he’d won against Arthur Dayne, not to mention his performance during Robert’s and Balon’s rebellions.

    Conclusion: Jaime believed he could’ve fought Ned and won, if he’d gone all out. But Ned was too dangerous an opponent for anything less; in a fight where Jaime was merely trying to wound/disable Ned but Ned was just fine killing Jaime the odds were tilted in Eddard’s favor.

  20. […] where we first learn what Tywin’s plan was when he began the War of Five Kings, and how much Jaime’s attack on Eddard Stark disrupted Tywin’s plans (helping to seed that particular theme well before Jaime gets back […]

  21. […] a hand, but his belief in himself. Not only is he no longer a swordsman who can cut down kings or hands at will, whose skill protects him from the laws of gods and men, he’s not even the fearless […]

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