Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Eddard X

“Someone has to rule this damnable kingdom. Put on the badge, Ned. It suits you. And if you ever throw it in my face again, I swear to you, I’ll pin the damned thing on Jaime Lannister.”

Synopsis: After a strange dreamEddard wakes up to find Robert and Cersei at his door. The three of them have an unhappy conversation, Eddard gets his badge and gun back, and Robert leaves on a hunting trip on which nothing bad will happen.

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:

This is a short chapter, and likely to be a short recap. However, I expect next week’s coverage of Tyrion’s trial by combat to be a more in-depth analysis.

Tower of Joy

Ah, the Tower of Joy. Friends turned against each other, doomed love, epic swordfights with some of the best warriors in living memory, it’s got it all. A fan favorite flashback and probably the most lamented omission from Season 1 (as the House of the Undying was in Season 2), it’s one of the few mysteries linked to Eddard Stark that remains relevant to the current plot.

But what are the political ramifications of this incident?

  1. Assuming R+L=J, which is frankly the only theory that bears any dramatic weight to it, the fact that Ned Stark wins the skirmish and climbs the Tower of Joy means that Jon Snow is not raised as a Targaryen pretender. This avoids the problem of too many Targaryen pretenders for the Varys/Illyrio Conspiracy, because honestly, they were having issues already with Aegon/”Aegon” and Viserys and Daenerys.
  2. Lyanna’s death in childbirth means the Lannister match happens. Now, it’s quite possible that Lyanna would have died anyway, given the dangers of childbirth in a premodern environment. However, high stress is bad during pregnancy, so the thought that your brother might die might have been enough to raise her blood pressure just enough at the wrong time. Potentially, had Lyanna survived the birth, she might have gone on to marry Robert, leaving the Lannisters as a potentially dangerous third party, hated and distrusted by both the victorious rebels and the Targaryen loyalists.
  3. A small conspiracy is formed to hide Jon Snow’s birth from the world, and it’s remarkably successful. As far as we know, none of the top players of the Game of Thrones (Varys, Illyrio, Littlefinger, The Queen of Thornes, Doran Martell, etc.) have any idea of who Jon Snow really is. This suggests that the conspiracy was limited to a few incredibly loyal people – Ned Stark and Howland Reed are obviously two of the participants, but way back in Eddard I, he refers to “they had found him still holding her body, shaking with grief.” So there must be at least one other person than Howland Reed who is likely to have known the truth of Jon Snow’s birth – Wylla, the wetnurse of House Dayne, may well have been brought by Ser Arthur Dayne to look after the child, and is probably the best bet for the third party.
  4. Three of the most famous members of the Kingsguard are not present at the Battle of the Trident because instead they were guarding Lyanna and the future heir to the Iron Throne. Had they been there and guarding Rhaegar, two things might have happened differently: one, it’s possible Robert might have lost his duel with Rhaegar, which would have blunted the force of the Rebellion if not broken it completely. Second, it’s possible that Robert might have won and captured the three men, which probably would have meant they would have been pardoned and retained on the Kingsguard, which would have severely limited the opportunities to fill vacancies in the future.

The last and most personal impact is that Eddard, an honorable man and Robert Baratheon’s closest friend, carries a secret with him for the rest of his life that mandates he maintain a distance between himself and Robert. With the exception of the Greyjoy Rebellion, Ned does not see Robert again after their reconciliation at King’s Landing until the death of Jon Arryn, which notably means that his seat on the Small Council as Warden of the North remains vacant, aiding the process of Lannister infiltration that much more.

Ned’s Injury

The second thing we learn is that Eddard’s injury has put him out of action for a critical seven days, which means that Robert is gone hunting when Eddard finally pieces it together than Joffrey is the illegitimate son of Jaime and Cersei, which means that Arya and Sansa’s ship from King’s Landing is delayed, which means Ned doesn’t have the opportunity to make sure a message gets through to Dragonstone or Winterfell or anywhere else about the truth, and which ultimately means that Ned doesn’t really have time to reach out to anyone else to plan out how to prevent Joffrey’s ascension to the Throne until it’s too late.

As I’ve said before, Ned has to be literally hobbled in order for the War of Five Kings to happen. If Catelyn’s tragedy is like something out of Greek tragedy where a woman devoted to family is made to suffer the loss of her (she thinks) entire family, Ned’s tragedy is more reminiscent of tragedies  like Romeo & Juliet or King Lear, in which timing (especially the crucial delay of news or a warning until just too late) is crucial.

Truth, Justice, and the Westerosi Way

When Eddard wakes up and confronted by Robert and Cersei, he’s faced with a series of confrontations that ultimately, revolve around truth and justice: first, he’s challenged implicitly by Robert as to what level of responsibility he has for “what Catelyn has done;” Ned being the man himself takes on all responsibility, but dos so as “the Hand of the King…charged by your own lord husband to keep the king’s peace and enforce the king’s justice,” which is impressive political maneuvering for a man doped up on painkillers.

Likewise, for as much as he’s criticized for relying on Robert, it’s notable that Robert trusts his word over Cersei when she again tries and fails to rewrite history, laughably claiming that “Lord Stark was returning drunk from a brothel. His men attacked Jaime and his guards.” At the same time, Eddard’s trust is damaged when he is denied the right to bring the Kingslayer to justice for his assault. Robert may not be the best king, but he does have the common sense to maintain a middle position between the Starks and the Lannisters in this conflict, charging Eddard to “command [Catelyn] to release the dwarf at once, and you will make your peace with Jaime.”

Ultimately, it comes down to a question of whether the crown will favor the law or the older laws of blood, which is clearly the only laws that Cersei considers binding: “Jaime and Tyrion and your own brothers, by all the laws of marriage and the bonds we share. The Starks have driver off the one and seized the other,” therefore the King should treat the Starks as the latter.

For the moment, King Robert chooses to honor the law, and by re-appointing Ned as Hand of the King implicitly agrees with Eddard’s revision of history, that the seizure of Tyrion Lannisters was a lawful arrest and not a private act of war against the king’s peace.

Returned to service, Ned tries to tell his old friend the truth, but is too weak to reach Robert before Robert goes off “to the kingswood to hunt.” Yet further proof that no one in A Song of Ice and Fire should ever wait to finish a conversation.

The Lannister Conspiracy – a Question of Timing

Unbeknownst to the reader, as Robert leaves for the kingswood, the Lannisters hatch a second assassination attempt against him, this time banking on fortified wine laced with milk of the poppy to dull his reactions during the hunt.

As I’ve suggested before, there is a common signature to the Lannister Conspiracy: a slapdash, jerry-rigged style with a heavy emphasis on setting up “accidents” that may or may not pan out. As much as Varys might darkly speculate, the reality is that there’s no guarantee that Robert Baratheon would actually be killed in the melee. Melees are chaotic environments, equally likely to see the would-be assassin or assassins blind-sided by another opponent in a critical moment, or to be downed by the King himself, or simply never able to get to the king in the opening fray where an assassination attempt might be hidden. Likewise, there’s a high chance that Lancel’s strongwine would not do the job – either because Robert doesn’t encounter the boar randomly in the forest, or if he’s just a bit luckier with his spear, or if the wound wasn’t as bad. More on that later.

What’s interesting is the timing of all of this. Cersei must have decided to do this the moment she left the room, since Robert is leaving for his hunt and she doesn’t have much time to get to Lancel and get the strongwine set up. Which in turn means that either Eddard’s mention of seeing Robert’s bastard was enough for Cersei to realize that the jig was about to be up and she needed to get Joffrey on the Iron Throne as soon as possible, or that the fact that Robert chose Eddard over her in this conflict was proof enough that Eddard would have the Handship and the Crown on his side in the coming Stark/Lannister war that she had to get Robert out of the way and claim the political high ground.

Historical Analysis:

I don’t really have much in the way of historical material for this rather personal episode. Sorry! More should be coming with Catelyn VII and Jon V.

What If?

There aren’t a huge number of hypotheticals for this chapter – I tend to focus on hypotheticals consistent with people’s character, and there really wasn’t any chance that Robert was going to have Eddard arrested or worse for brawling in the street with a man Robert despises or for having Tyrion arrested, not for Cersei’s sake.

  • Robert doesn’t go hunting? One thing that I do see consistent with Robert’s character is that he might decide to delay his hunting trip a day or two, if something comes along to distract him (a shiny rock, or maybe some yarn?) at a convenient moment. This has the potential to change many, many things:
    • one, it means that Robert is sitting in judgement when the Riverlords come to seek royal justice. For all that Robert doesn’t like getting in the middle of fights (as we saw with his judgement in Eddard III, open violence is one of the things that Robert understands and takes seriously. He’d definitely send more than 120 men out to capture the Mountain, and might even decide to go himself to get a chance to hit someone while upholding “the King’s Peace.” This changes the calculus for Tywin rather dramatically – capturing Eddard and forcing an exchange of hostages that keeps face is one thing, but open rebellion against the King is another.
    • two, it means that Eddard has the opportunity to get his kids out of the city as planned – which in turn means that Arya and Sansa probably get home safe.  This means that, when open war breaks out, Robb doesn’t have his sisters as a war aim and Catelyn has no motive to free Jaime Lannister. This gives Robb a great deal of strategic flexibility following the Battles of the Whispering Wood and the Camps: he could declare victory and go home, he could offer his sisters’ hands in marriage to Houses Tyrell, Martell, Greyjoy, possibly Arryn, etc. to expand his coalition, etc. It also means that Theon taking Winterfell becomes potentially even more dire for the Starks if the sisters aren’t married off by that point.
    • three, it means that Eddard has a chance to tell Robert about the truth. If this is the case, Jaime’s an outlaw with a death sentence on his head, Cersei and her children are probably dead or in exile at best, Robert remarries to Margaery Tyrell, and Tywin’s screwed. Hence we see why Robert has to die, and why Cersei gets lucky.

Book vs. Show:

This scene in the HBO show was pretty close to the book, with the significant loss of the Tower of Joy. While I would be the last person to get up in arms about the loss of every little flashback from the show, and I understand why some fan-favorites like this and the House of the Undying had to be cut, I do worry that Benioff and Weiss are setting themselves up for a big problem down the road.

Jon Snow’s parentage is a major meta-mystery in the book series, but it really hasn’t been mentioned for a season and a half now, and we don’t really have much of an opportunity to bring it back in to the plot. What I’m worried about is that the fandom isn’t going to be that invested by Season 7 or 8 when the truth that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen comes out, and how that explains so much of what happened earlier.

My one caveat here is that the Reeds are a vehicle for re-introducing this plotline via the stories about the Tourney at Harrenhal, and the potential for Bran’s greendreams being used as a loophole to get around the “no flashbacks” rule and the fact that Bran’s storyline is the one where the showrunners are most in danger of burning through the back catalogue GRRM’s built up.


44 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Eddard X

  1. medrawt says:

    Two “what ifs” that you may want to leave alone until some other time, but I don’t think there’s one obvious fit for them, because they have to do with the immediate aftermath of Robert’s Rebellion, which have occurred to me recently.

    (1) What if Jaime had been made to take the black?
    (2) What if Stannis had been made Lord of Storm’s End?

    I can’t really fathom both of them happening together. But if Stannis is given control of the Stormlands, to take the simpler one first, and all the Robert/Jaime/Cersei stuff happens the same … first of all, Margaery probably isn’t “wasted” on Renly, who would maybe be Lord of Dragonstone or some other Stormlands castle. If Stannis could have been married to some other Tyrell instead of a Florent – I think Mace had younger sisters? (I get the impression that they try to keep the ages somewhat comparable for these matches) – then he unites all of those forces and takes them into the war, and probably allies with the North to do so. I sort of imagine the war ends relatively quickly. If the Tyrells aren’t committed by marriage to Stannis (would they have considered betrothing Margaery to Robb?) would they default to Joffrey since in the last rebellion they defaulted to Aerys, just supporting whomever was on the Iron Throne? Or would they have played it like the Lannisters did 15 years earlier and sit it out until the writing was on the wall.

    If Jaime takes the black, basically the entire plot can’t happen, of course, so maybe less fruitful for discussion. If Tywin wasn’t so upset by that move that he wouldn’t make Cersei available for marriage, then it’s possible she still cuckolds Robert and only bears illegitimate heirs (though without her connection to Jaime I’m not sure she would), but less likely that everyone would notice. And of course, in the scheme of what really matters, if you have the Queen’s brother sitting on the Wall, and you need to send a messenger with a disembodied zombie hand down to King’s Landing, that’s who you send, and he doesn’t wait a week for an audience, and then things are really, really different.

    Oh, if only Robert hadn’t mismanaged personnel decisions 15 years ago.

    • stevenattewell says:

      If Stannis is Lord of Storm’s End, the war is over in a few months. Renly never declares himself as King, Stannis marches to King’s Landing, the city falls before any defense can be organized, Tywin’s now a traitor and facing a Stark/Baratheon/Tully/Tyrell power bloc.

      If Jaime takes the black, yah…big parts of the plot don’t happen. Tywin kind of has to offer Cersei since he has no other card to play at the time, because otherwise the Tyrells make the offer and he’s in the cold.

  2. Andrew says:

    Nice post as always.

    Ned thinks back on the ToJ with some feelings of guilt as he realized that the KG were trying to protect his nephew.

    I think Lyanna already had high stress before Ned came. She would have heard that her father and brother were dead as a result of her elopement with Rhaegar. She would feel some guilt for their deaths. I don’t know if she heard of Rhaegar’s death, but that would have been the final nail in the coffin.

    If Lyanna had lived, I don’t think she could bring herself to marry Robert, the man who killed her husband. Robert wouldn’t have reacted well to the truth of what really happened with Rhaegar and Lyanna as well as Lyanna’s refusal to marry him.

    As for Ned dealing with Cat’s abduction of Tyrion, he was just covering for her when he said she was blameless and merely doing what he told her to do.

    • stevenattewell says:

      I don’t know if she would have refused – we don’t know how she felt about the whole scenario after the war started. She probably was in love to begin with, but what happened when her husband became the son of the man who murdered her father and brother?

      • Andrew says:

        Rhaegar was with her the whole time, and he had nothing to do with Brandon and Rickard’s deaths. Besides, she wasn’t fond of Robert before, and if this is the same girl who ran off with a married man rather follow through on her arranged marriage, than I doubt she would marry the man who killed her husband.

        Lyanna’s story is a subversion of the trope of the highborn girl running off with the husband of her choice over her father’s arranged marriage to some jerk or stranger. Even without war, elopement was a punishable offense for men in the Middle Ages.

      • stevenattewell says:

        I’m not so sure – once she went, she’s pretty locked in. We don’t know if she changed her mind when her impulsive action caused the death of her father and brother, and then her new husband/lover goes off to kill her other brother.

      • Andrew says:

        Rhaegar didn’t declare he was going to kill her brother. He went off to war under circumstances that were completely understandable given that his family was in danger. The chances that he was going to kill her brother himself weren’t that high. I don’t think she changed her mind. We aren’t given indications about it that she did.

        • stevenattewell says:

          Eddard had been condemned to death by his father; Rhaegar was fighting for his father. Rhaegar winning = Ned dying.

          We don’t have indications either way, although I think the fact that her blue-rose “crown” had withered is symbolic.

    • Andrew says:

      The blue roses crown withered is symbolic. Blue roses are traditionally associated with royal blood which in this case is Jon. Rhaegar originally placed it in her lap where her womb is possibly symbolizing he impregnated her.

      Or the blue roses could simply indicate that their story was at an end. I don’t think it likely that Lyanna had stopped loving Rhaegar. I’ll just agree to disagree.

      Rhaegar may have gone to war against the North, but who is to say that he would have pardoned Ned instead of killing him.

  3. Andy says:

    You bring up a great point: how crucial Cersei’s need to kill Robert was, vs. how uncertain her plan was. It shines new light on her actions in AFFC, which are equally not well planned out, and that time she gets caught. This time her reliance on Lancel, Robert’s alcoholism, and Pycelle happens to work out, and it’s a major turning point– Joffrey’s the king on the throne. You can see why she might have interpreted this episode as proof of her cunning instead of a fairly lucky turn of events.

    • stevenattewell says:

      That’s a good point – she’s got reason to be confident in her skills; she won. People in general don’t like to attribute success to chance, so it makes sense she thinks of herself as brilliant.

  4. hertolo says:

    1) Leaving out the Tower of Joy seemed consistent in the show since a) the show doesn’t like to do flashbacks and b) the story doesn’t pay off for another few/many seasons down the road. So the story is ‘fat’ and not essential to the story. They can reintroduce it when it becomes important (0-2 season before the reveal) and there’s a few ways. Apart from the Reeds I can also see Wylla or even Ashara (if she was in love with Ned and survived). Another option is Barristan Selmy who may have heard something from his Kingsguard brothers. I’m just saying they have a few options for the show…

    2) For the historical analysis part, I would have liked a discussion on how ‘realistic’ it is that apparently, there were only 5 people at the Tower of Joy (3 Kingsguards, Lyanna, Wylla). That seems awfully few. Who lived in the Tower before they came around? Who provided the food and kept the doors impact. Are there not bandits in the mountains of Dorne. Is it really safe to travel this far as two people? Don’t they need stableboys, scouts, etc. . Can they tend to ravens or how did they know of Rhaegar’s Death? It just seems strange to me and more of a tv show like Spartacus where 2-3 heroes can slaughter whole regiments. Also, why did the Kingsguard wait for them outside the tower? And why did Eddard chose to fight and did not take more men with him? Did he know what was waiting for him there and wanted to keep the number of people that know low? And why did he afterwards go South where he doesn’t know how he is going to be treated at the Daynes? Long story short, there’s so many mysteries left here (that I understood why you didn’t look at it more closely ;))

    • stevenattewell says:

      1. Yeah, but I question how much the audience will care, if it’s done as exposition vs. seeing it themselves.

      2. I think there was probably a small staff. There may well have been more military forces, but they probably left with Rhaegar when he went off to fight.

      As for some of those mysteries, keep in mind this is a fever dream and not 100% accurate.

  5. Abbey Battle says:

    My guess is that the Tower is so empty of servants for the very simple reason that The Kingsguard got them out of the way, to ensure that their defence of the Tower would not be compromised by panicking servants and other non-combatants.

    I would also hazard a guess that Ned got word of Lyanna’s whereabouts at Storm’s End, almost certainly via Lady Ashara Dayne (whose word would be trusted by Lord Eddard, who would most likely have been the one to provide the services of Wylla – her own tragic pregnancy may have been used as a cover to secure the services of that particular wet nurse and who killed herself under mysterious circumstances shortly thereafter).

    If my speculation is at all accurate, having been informed that his sister is not only nearby but pregnant with a child of Dragon Blood – the grandson of the Mad King, conceived after an abduction that started a war – then it is entirely sensible that Lord Eddard left his camp swiftly and quietly, possibly with some plausible pretext given (a hunt, perhaps?) so that he could ensure not only the custody of his sister but her safety.

    Had anyone other than those he trusted implicitly become aware that Lyanna was nearby and pregnant with a Targaryen baby … well, let’s just say that what actually happened at the Tower of Joy would have seemed like a very minor contretemps.

  6. ahorwitt says:

    I don’t think it’s quite so clear that Cersei hatched the Lancel plot right then. The hunt lasts quite a while and, of course, was expected to go on even longer before Robert’s injury. Littlefinger seems quite well-informed about what’s going on in the hunting party in Eddard XII, so it’s not like it would be impossible to reach them:

    “I imagine he’ll return as soon as he’s killed something. They found the white hart, it seems . . . or rather, what remained of it. Some wolves found it first, and left His Grace scarcely more than a hoof and a horn. Robert was in a fury, until he heard talk of some monstrous boar deeper in the forest. Then nothing would do but he must have it. Prince Joffrey returned this morning, with the Royces, Ser Balon Swann, and some twenty others of the party. The rest are still with the king.”

    So I think we should consider the possibility that Cersei sent a messenger to the hunting party much later, with a new batch of wine and instructions for Lancel. Perhaps this was even after Ned confronted her. Of course, I’m not really sure who she’d trust with a task of such enormity, she doesn’t really have a henchman who fits the bill. But to me that timeline makes the plot make more sense.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Except they’re out in a forest, chasing after random things. It’s not that easy to locate them and know where they are or whether Robert was in the “danger zone”, and it adds additional uncertainty as to whether it would work.

      I think it has to happen now before they set out.

  7. John W says:

    My crackpot theory has always been that Robert KNEW that Cersei was sleeping with Jaime and the children weren’t his.

    The reason he didn’t say anything because it kept him free to be a party animal.

    In the novels he never really displays any affection towards the children.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Hell no. We hear from his own mouth that he’s terrified and ashamed that he’s sired someone like Joffrey.

      He doesn’t display affection to Joffrey, because he knows the kid’s a psycho – caught him vivisecting animals. He probably liked to hang out with Myrcella and Tommen, because they’re sweet kids and he likes his kids generally.

  8. Abbey Battle says:

    That’s a pretty crackpot theory – for all that Robert loves being a party animal, he HATES the Lannisters too much to let them pass off bastard-born children of Incest as his own heirs. If nothing else the idea that he’d be wearing horns other than those the smith soldered onto his helmet would probably drive him to a decidedly lethal fury – his pride allows him no other recourse.

  9. Abbey Battle says:

    For the record I would like to state here that I am not an advocate of the L + R = J theory; I DO believe that it is extremely credible, under every canon of narrative causality, but nourish Dark Suspicions that Master GRR Martin is just the author to defy (or at the very least subvert) such conventions for the sake of a carefully-calculated Plot Twist.

    He has, after all, done just that at least (at the very, VERY least) twice before in the course of this particular work and I therefore have a nasty, suspicious mind when it comes to reasoning out in what direction he intends to take the story.

    I’m also operating under the vague suspicion that ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ depicts not the local equivalent of The War of the Ring but the sort of sequence of events that get mentioned in the Appendices – that’s right kids, I believe that half-a-dozen doorstoppers in and the REAL plot hasn’t gotten started!

    Ahem. On a somewhat more lucid topic, would you say that it’s cruelly accurate (or is it just plain cruel) to speculate that the younger Lannister-Baratheons have turned out so relatively well-adjusted because their mother generally took very little particular interest in and therefore had relatively little to do with them? (preferring to focus on Joffrey, God help us).

    Another oddly-interesting question; was ‘Uncle’ Renly even a little bit interested in his niece and nephews or was he more like ‘Uncle’ Stannis than Uncle Tyrion?

    • stevenattewell says:

      I don’t see a plot twist that would still be dramatically relevant at this point.

      I think it’s accurate to say that benign neglect contributed to Tommen and Myrcella’s character, certainly Tyrion thinks so, and Cersei’s attitude towards Tommen in AFFC bears it out.

      Renly – doesn’t appear to have much contact with or interest in the kids.

  10. Abbey Battle says:

    You know the more I think about it, the more I begin to suspect that it’s a near-miracle that the War of the Five Kings didn’t being during a Baratheon-Lannister family dinner (it’s no wonder Lord Tywin seems to have kept a careful distance from King’s Landing; dinner with Cersei, Robert, Renly, Stannis, Joffrey AND Jaime?).

    • stevenattewell says:

      True. Tywin wisely kept his distance. Renly got along fine with Robert in the books, and probably would have got along fine with Jaime too, although he clearly liked pissing off Cersei and Joffrey. Stannis gets along with no man.

  11. Kyle Litke says:

    Good analysis…I’ve really been enjoying these posts.

    I was very happy to see you mention the “they” line. I think a lot of people missed it. I brought it up a few months ago on because I couldn’t find anyone talking about it…the implications are fairly large, as it means someone other than Howland Reed (whether dead or alive) knows that there was a baby in that tower. Wylla was also my suspicion…she clearly is in on the conspiracy, since Edric Dayne believes her to be Jon’s mother. Robert could have been told that lie by Ned himself, but the only way Edric would know is if Wylla told him, or if Wylla being the mother is “general knowledge” in House Dayne.

    • stevenattewell says:

      One thought I’ve had about Wylla – the odds that a wet nurse is also a midwife are pretty good.

      • julie says:

        what? i have nursed a child. i would rather drive nails through my fingertips than be present at someone else’s childbirth. this logic does not follow. not that she isn’t the midwife, but her lactation ability does not guarantee knowledge of midwifery.

        • Right, but wet nurses nurse children for a living, so they’d have experience when it came to say, post-birth complications and other issues.

          And in the absence of modern OBGYN practices and the rarity of maesters, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those wet nurses parlayed some of that experience into becoming midwives.

  12. Evan says:

    About the Tower of Joy.
    I did like the idea of the three Kingsguard surrendering to Ned, as it would certainly lead to a lot less corruption and incompetence in the White Cloaks.
    There’s a fairly large What If that get overlooked a lot. What if Ned and Howland had died? Arthur would probably be the only one left, and so a whole new bunch of possibilities spill out. Does Arthur simply take the new Targaryen heir to Starfall, and have Ashara raise him as her son, a reverse of Ned’s plan? Or is he found out by Varys, and Jon would take up the role of Aegon? Also, Catelyn is now a widow, and effectively Lady Regent of the North for a newborn Robb, which would definitely have some effect on the plot.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Good point, hadn’t thought of that.

    • julie says:

      or if howland saves ned, but not before ned takes a mortal wound from which he dies then or later. does he take home the infant dragon? and if so, does jon begin warging at a much younger age, having grown up in a household where such things are openly talked about, if not encouraged? what if he is a latent greenseer, is he then possibly bloodraven’s target rather than bran? do we really have a good idea of his abilities?

      • julie says:

        does greywater watch have a maester? i assume not, since jojen’s green dreams aren’t tut-tutted away before he has a chance to develop his ability. do only great houses have maesters?

  13. […] up, his initial reaction to seeing three Knights of the Kingsguard is to have a flashback to the Tower of Joy. This is not the first time that Ned’s had episodes that could be construed as traumatic […]

  14. […] Eddard X (The Tower of Joy, and the critical importance of timing for Robert’s death) […]

  15. Archer says:

    “which notably means that his seat on the Small Council as Warden of the North remains vacant” <– I question this. if the warden s already had seats in the Small Council, Mace Tyrell would not beg for a seat in return for saving KL from the Stannis attack.

  16. Brent says:

    After re-reading this chapter, I actually feel sympathetic towards Cersei.
    It seems like she believes that Ned actually attacked Jaime, Tyrion was captured for no reason (since she doesn’t know about the dagger) and Nymeria randomly attacked her Joffrey.
    When looking at it from her perspective, the Starks have been causing all kinds of trouble for her family, I would also be incredibly mad at them

  17. […] overwhelmingly likely that the flowers that Ned remembers Lyanna clutching on her deathbed at the Tower of Joy were the same flowers. Similarly, the blue rose figures in Dany’s vision at the House of the […]

  18. […] array – crown of winter roses, a blood-stained garment that suggests both Lyanna’s bed of blood and, for the reader only since that’s not a Westerosi tradition, a wedding dress – is […]

  19. […] the rights and status of a man (which is what Jaime thinks, which ironically would make Brienne a close parallel to Cersei), or because Brienne has difficulty performing femininity, or because of her complicated […]

  20. julie says:

    by the way, i have been gradually going through these, quite enjoying the historical perspectives given, as well as general discussions both in the posts and in the comments! thanks!

  21. John says:

    Re: the “slapdash, jerry-rigged style” of Lannister assassinations disguised as accidents, we should remember that the boar was Cersei’s plan B. The original plan was take Robert out while he was hunting a deer. A large wolf (almost certainly Nymeria) thwarted plan A by killing the deer. Hence the fall-back on the wine and boar. Killing a king with an “arrow gone astray” (Varys’ words in a later chapter) might not be slapdash or jerry-rigged. King William II (Rufus) was killed in exactly this way in August 1100 while hunting in the New Forest. The name of the hunter who shot the arrow has a GRRM resonance: Walter Tyrell. Cersei’s plan A was to stage a hunting accident with an arrow. The boar was her desperate plan B when she had no other options.

  22. […] with his shamanic injury) is linked to his Flint blood; Theo Wull is linked ever-so-subtly to the fight at the Tower of Joy and thus to […]

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