Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Catelyn VII

“Enough, Ser Vardis!” Lady Lysa called down. “Finish him now, my baby is growing tired.”

Synopsis: after learning of Edmure’s military preparations for the coming Lannister assault on the Riverlands, Catelyn observes the judicial duel between Ser Vardis Egen and Bronn the sellsword. Bronn defeats the older knight and Tyrion Lannister is set free on the high road.

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:

In political terms, three interesting things happen in this chapter: first, we get an update on the beginning of the War of Five Kings; second, we get a confrontation between Catelyn and Lysa and Catelyn’s political assessment of the Vale; and third, we get the judicial duel between Ser Vardis Egen and Bronn.

The War of Five Kings, Part I

Catelyn belatedly receives a letter which explains that the War of Five Kings is about to start, as “the Kingslayer is massing a host at Casterly Rock,”  and Edmure Tully has “sent riders to the Rock, demanding that Lord Tywin proclaim his intent.” Right away, we get a major clue that the Riverlands are in deep trouble, as Edmure shows precisely zero military sense, starting with the ridiculous notion that wars only start with a formal declaration and getting even worse when we learn that “Edmure has commanded Lord Vance and Lord Piper to guard the pass below the Golden Tooth. He vows to you that he will yield no foot of Tully land without first watering it with Lannister blood.”

This is a terrible, terrible strategy.

riverlands

To begin with, we know that Lord Vance and Lord Piper have only 4,000 men; Jaime Lannister’s force numbers 15,000 and Tywin Lannister also has an army of 20,000 in the vicinity. You’d need a Thermopylae to even begin to offset the numerical disadvantage, and it’s clear that no such defensive feature exists (given how handily Jaime defeats this army), and even if it did, nothing stops the Lannisters from taking the Gold Road to the south and completely bypassing these defenders (as Tywin Lannister will do shortly). To the extent that any defensive feature exists, it’s the castle of Golden Tooth – which is a Lannister stronghold.

The bigger problem is that Edmure is defending a region that lacks genuine defensive barriers other than the rivers against a numerically superior foe – concentrating what forces you have in a single defensive line at the edge of your territory is a great way to lose your army. Rather, the Riverlands are perfect terrain for a defense in depth; if Edmure had instead used Vance and Piper to delay the Lannisters while he raised his forces*, and had made his stand on the east bank of the Red Fork to use the river as a defensive force multiplier, he would have in all likelihood stopped Jaime’s army cold (as he does with Tywin facing the other direction in the Battle of the Fords). At the same time, by making Jaime advance, he would have extended the Lannisters’ supply lines while creating the possibility of using the Red Fork or the Tumblestone to land forces in Jaime’s rear. Finally, by sticking close to the Red Fork, he creates the possibility of shipping his forces down the Red Fork to Pinkmaiden, where they can more easily march to block Tywin’s army.

*which I estimate to be around 14,000, given that Robb’s force almost reaches 40,000 when the Northern army of 18,000 men plus the 4,000 Freys are momentarily united with the Riverlords prior to Edmure releasing them.

Unfortunately, as we’ll find out, Edmure approaches war with his heart, not his head.

Catelyn and Lysa

Catelyn’s receipt of the letter prompts a confrontation and contrast with her sister Lysa. As Catelyn correctly assesses, Lysa is no fit ruler of the Vale and a source of political disorder: “Lysa’s policies varied with her moods, and her moods changed hourly…a woman who was by turns proud, fearful, cruel, dreamy, reckless, timid, stubborn, and, above all inconsistent.” Cat points out that by allowing Tyrion to make a public confession as opposed to “hav[ing] the dwarf brought to them privately,” Lysa has lost control of the process, allowing him to make a public claim of his innocence in the deaths of Jon Arryn and Bran. This is especially strange behavior, given that Lysa knows Tyrion didn’t murder Jon Arryn since she did, which makes his public statement all the more dangerous to her (unless she’s sufficiently lost touch with reality that she’s suppressed her own guilt or sufficiently confident of the sky cell’s ability to break minds), and a private denial could have easily allowed her to return him to the sky cells without risking discovery.

Lysa’s erratic nature is especially dangerous when it comes to her son. Robert is “utterly without discipline. He will never be strong enough to rule,” because she can’t deny him anything since in her mind he is the perfect child who is the reward for all her years of suffering, the stillbirths and miscarriages and the abortion. She will keep him as a child forever if she could, not that differently from Cersei and Tommen, but motivated rather by trauma and fear of loss, rather than thwarted ambition. As people keep saying, something is rotten in the state of the Vale and like a fish, rot sets in head first.

Given this instability, we see from this chapter that Lysa is absolutely crucial to the success of the Littlefinger Conspiracy – above and beyond murdering Jon Arryn and luring Eddard Stark to King’s Landing. In part by withholding information from Catelyn and more critically by preventing Blackfish from taking “a thousand seasoned men and rid[ing] for Riverrun with all haste,” Lysa keeps the Vale out of the War of Five Kings. In order for the civil war to last long enough for Littlefinger to rise by acting as the only mediator with the Vale, the Vale can’t enter on the side of the Starks which it would otherwise do: with the Vale on his side, Robb would go from outnumbered by the Lannisters nearly 2-1 (18,000 to 35,000 at this point in time) to outnumbering the Lannisters by 50% (18,000 + 35,000 = 53,000 vs. 35,000), threatening Tywin’s eastern flank and rear as Robb descends the neck, and providing Robb with a strong naval presence on the east coast of Westeros. Even a thousand seasoned men plus Blackfish in command could have completely changed the outcome of the Battle of Riverrun to at least an evenly-matched siege (rather than a desperate last stand), which in turn would have freed up Robb Stark to go after Tywin’s army head-on with a slight numerical advantage.

Yet another thing that has to go just wrong for Robb Stark to lose the War of Five Kings – keep an eye on these, there’s going to be a bunch more.

By contrast, Catelyn in this chapter is a very sharp political observer and actor. To begin with, she responds to her sister’s isolationism by recruiting her uncle the Blackfish, one of the finest generals in Westeros (given Jaime’s esteem, his experience in the War of Ninepenny Kings, and his actions in the War of Five Kings, definitely one of the better field commanders, and at least on par with Randyll Tarly). Second, Catelyn understands that “Alive the Imp has value. Dead, he is only food for crows…what will we gain by the dwarf’s death? Do you imagine that Jaime will care a fig that we gave his brother a trial before we flung him off a mountain?” For all that she takes the blame for losing Tyrion once she’s kidnapped him, it’s important to note that the trial wasn’t her idea and certainly she had no part in releasing him.

Indeed, her read of her sister is so astute that Cateyn almost cracks the mystery right then and there: “Lysa had named Cersei in the letter she had sent to Winterfell, but now she seemed certain that Tyrion was the killer…perhaps because the dwarf was here, while the queen was safe;” she can see her sister’s story doesn’t add up, but can’t quite bring herself to believe that the letter might have been a deliberate lie intended to bring Eddard to King’s Landing. Similarly, when Catelyn hears that Jon Arryn was planning to have Robert fostered at Dragonstone while knowing that the Lannisters were going to have him fostered at Casterly Rock, she nearly hits on Lysa’s motive for killing Jon Arryn.

The Duel

When the duel begins, Lysa Arryn mismanages it completely: startin with the fact that she chooses Ser Vardis when “the sellsword stood half a hand taller than his foe, with a longer reach…and Bronn was fiften years younger,” and making Ser Vardis fight with a blade he’s not familiar with (and which will fail him in a crticial moment). She seems completely unaware that Bronn is winning when she orders Ser Vardis back on the attack, so sure is she of victory. When instead Bronn kills Ser Vardis, she at least has the presence of mind to order Tyrion and Bronn sent home via the high road where there’s an excellent chance for him to be slain by the hill tribes (honestly, the fact that Tyrion actually survived his brush with them, let alone recruited them to fight for the Lannisters, is quite incredible).

At the same time, the more interesting thing we learn is the facts behind Petyr Baelish’s duel with Brandon Stark – Baelish seems to have tried a similar tactic to Bronn in choosing mobility over armor, but faced an opponent intelligent enough to match his opponent rather than give any advantage however slim; we see the intensity of Baelish’s desire for Catelyn, begging her for a favor, refusing to give in until he’s virtually on the point of death, and even calling out her name when he thinks he was dying. Most importantly, we see the origins of a deep enmity – forbidden Catelyn’s presence, Baelish refuses Edmure’s friendship as “her brother had acted as Brandon’s squire at the duel and Littlefinger would not forgive that,” and following that “Lord Hoster Tully sent Petyr Baelish away in a closed litter” back home, which would have been a torturous experience for someone half-healed from such a wound. When we combine this knowledge with the fact that this must have coincided with Hoster Tully forcing Lysa to abort Petyr’s child, then we can see the roots of an obsessive hatred of Houses Stark and Tully that has lead to the virtual extinction of both Houses as a result of Petyr’s actions.

Historical Analysis:

For someone so well versed in the historical literature, this chapter contains one of George R.R Martin’s few mistakes – namely, that he makes use of the old cliche that plate armor was so heavy that it heavily restricted knights in battle. This is a really old trope in historical fiction and fantasy, going back to early and inaccurate stories about the Hundred Years War in which, for example, knights at the Battle of Agincourt were said to have died because they fell off their horses and couldn’t get back up to their fight. This percolated into Dungeons & Dragons which decided that plate armor should be heavier and more restrictive in movement than chain mail (despite the opposite being true), and from there into the genre as a whole. 

While we're at it, no sword in the world has weighed 10 pounds.

While we’re at it, no sword in the world has weighed 10 pounds.

The reality is that full plate armor is, in fact, some of the easiest armor to move in, far less encumbering than chainmail. Plate armor is designed to distribute the weight evenly across the body as opposed to hanging straight down off the shoulders like chainmail does, and is thus much, much easier to move about in and less tiring than the ringmail Bronn’s wearing. That’s one of the reasons why it was incredibly expensive.

As you can see from this clip, you can move about quite easily in plate armor, doing jumping jacks, pull-ups, etc. You can find even more video evidence here. Simply put, Ser Vardis shouldn’t have tired out faster than Bronn on account of his armor – the difference in their ages and the massive shield might have had something to do with it, but not the armor. However, the size and weight of his shield is also really out of whack: the kite shield Ser Vardis is using was used in the early Middle Ages prior to the invention of plate armor and would have weighed about 6-12 pounds, which isn’t great but it’s not that heavy; by the time that full plate came around, knights were using the smaller and lighter heater shields (in part because the invention of full plate meant that you didn’t need to rely on your shield as much and could instead use a smaller shield to deflect swords rather than to absorb blows) which weighed 4-7 pounds or bucklers, which weighed between 1-3 pounds.

Ultimately, I think GRRM is simply going with the inaccurate picture of armor because it works better thematically, contrasting the pomp and pride of the nobles of the Eyrie with the crude practicality of Bronn the sellsword.

What If?

There a couple possibilities suggested in this chapter for hypothetical scenarios, often offered by the characters themselves, which I have to say I appreciate as it makes my job much easier:

  • Bronn loses? Despite his cunning and mobility, there’s a moment in the duel where Bronn almost loses his life to Ser Vardis Egen. Had this happened, Tyrion Lannister would have been found guilty and executed. This almost certainly would have escalated the war faster than OTL, but it’s unclear whether anyone would have found out before Ned’s arrest and execution, so it might not have changed much until the siege of King’s Landing, which would have resulted in Stannis’ victory and a political catastrophe for House Lannister. So all hail King Stannis. On the other hand, if the Vale takes the formal legal position that a Lannister murdered Jon Arryn and executes Tyrion, they definitely enter the war on the Starks’ side, which means that Tywin will face a dangerous situation after the Battle of the Green Fork. Under the command of a canny commander like the Blackfish, there’s no way the knights of the Vale don’t come pouring out of the Bloody Gate and beat Tywin to Lord Harroway’s Town and/or Harrenhal, trapping his army between themselves and Robb Stark’s foot under Roose Bolton, which might lead to the total destruction of Tywin’s army.
  • Blackfish had gotten military support from the Vale? To an extent, this one is similar to the previous scenario, but had Blackfish gotten 1,000 men or more from the Vale (certainly quite a few of the Lords of the Vale would have joined him on their own initiative, especially the Royces), as I said above, it’s quite possible that Jaime’s army is stopped at the Red Fork and doesn’t succeed in smashing Edmure’s army. This changes the strategic situation immensely; as I’ve said, it frees Robb up to hit Tywin directly, but it also means that the Riverlords don’t suffer a nigh-total defeat, which in turn requires regathering the Tully army and then the issue with allowing the Riverlords to splinter in defense of their homes. It could well mean that Tywin acts more cautiously and Robb is free to march all the way down the Kingsroad  and join up with his uncle and grand-uncle, backed by the full might of the Riverlands and the North.
  • Littlefinger had died in the duel? I’ve speculated on similar scenarios before, but the reality is that if Littlefinger had died over fifteen years ago, most of the plot of AGOT doesn’t happen: Jon Arryn isn’t murdered, Eddard isn’t made Hand of the King, Bran isn’t thrown out of a tower, etc. Instead, Jon Arryn and Stannis expose Cersei, she and Jaime and the children are likely executed, Robert remarries Margaery Tyrell, and Tywin faces a united Stark/Baratheon/Tully/Tyrell/Arryn force that he can’t possibly beat.

Book vs. Show:

The duel between Ser Vardis and Bronn is actually substantially different in the show, even leaving aside the more flamboyant elements of the Moon Door in the floor, etc. In the book, after Ser Vardis takes a beating from Bronn on his helm, and arm, Ser Vardis hits Bronn in the face with his shield, knocking him off balance and nearly off his feet, which would have led to his death, and again a second later when Ser Vardis goes for a two-hand cut to Bronn’s exposed chest as Bronn’s leaning on the statue for support.

In the book, this is reduced to one moment where Ser Vardis momentarily backs up Bronn to the lip of the Moon Door, but otherwise Bronn is far more in control of the duel. I find this a bit surprising, in that the showrunners missed out on the opportunity to raise the dramatic stakes somewhat.

49 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Catelyn VII

  1. Great update, as always!

    Realistic data and discussion about medieval combat has become a recent subject of interest for me – any other sources (online or otherwise) that you’d recommend?

  2. Sean C. says:

    This is going rather far into unknowable medical speculation, but if Littlefinger had died in the duel, he wouldn’t have been there to be raped by Lysa, meaning no pregnancy, and no abortion. We’re not told whether the abortifacient Hoster used had some relation to her subsequent problems conceiving and carrying to term (not a risk of modern abortions, but with older methods, it often could be). Certainly, getting pregnant in one go (which also happened with Catelyn, now that I think about it) is a bit at odds with her subsequent medical history. Anyway, if that was the case, potentially a much happier future for Lysa, as well as for House Arryn.

    Another “what if?” would be what if Hoster had concluded that being deflowered foreclosed his big plans for Lysa, and he bitterly allowed Littlefinger to marry her and let the pregnancy come to term.

    I think Hoster Tully is one of the more fascinating figures in the recent history of Westeros that we never really get to meet. His parenting of his three children (the first two, moreso) was every bit as consequential for the War of Five Kings as was that of his contemporary, Tywin Lannister with his three. He seems to have been a better dad than Tywin by a wide margin, but he botched things with Lysa terribly, which, as with Tywin, ended up undoing so much of his life’s work.

    • stevenattewell says:

      It’s not clear, because Lysa mentions later that there was a dance at which Catelyn refused to dance with Littlefinger and he got super-drunk and she crawled into his bed and he called her Catelyn. She could have gotten pregnant off of that.

      I do think it’s likely that the abortifacient could easily have caused a bad reaction and damaged her fertility. Which in turn did in her mental health.

      Agreed about Hoster.

  3. elizabeth gorman says:

    This is such an exciting chapter. I can’t wait to read your analysis! Thank you for your effort and sharing your passion. Very cool~ Elizabeth

  4. JP Johnson says:

    I don’t remember if this was the case in the books, or if it was only in the show. Wasn’t Cersei stockpiling wildfire? Is it possible that in a world without Tyrion, Cersei manages to burn the whole city down with the wild fire? She doesn’t seem the type to use it wisely.

    • stevenattewell says:

      That is a good point. Hadn’t thought of that…yikes.

      • Brett says:

        It’s certainly a possibility, since she wasn’t drilling the Watch on its use. It might not have occurred to her to organize such drills, since she never received any training in the arts of war and military strategy (in general, lack of preparation and the right education hits Cersei hard).

    • Sean C. says:

      Tywin would probably have sent Kevan to King’s Landing if Tyrion wasn’t around. He’s not as brilliant as Tyrion, though conversely Cersei didn’t viscerally despise him like she did Tyrion, so that could go either in terms of how the government functions.

  5. Abbey Battle says:

    As noted previously, I do my best to defend poor old Ser Edmure’s failures based on little more than my fondness for this particular decent-hearted, thick-headed native of Westeros whom Dame Fortune (in the form of GRR Martin’s muse) delights in making a fool of; even with this in mind I cannot help but agree with your conclusions regarding the lack of strategic nous he reveals in his first campaign.

    As previously noted, the idea of keeping a detachment at the Golden Tooth is hardly a bad idea in and of itself (intelligence of the precise timing of Lannister movements would be invaluable to The Lords of the Trident, harassment by detachments of bushwhackers might buy valuable time for the Host of the Trident to take up position), but committing something like a quarter of his available forces IS completely wrong-headed.

    I can only suspect that Lords Piper and Vance (along with the landed gentry of the Tumblestone and the headwaters of the Red Fork, as well as their levies) were not particularly keen on assembling at Riverrun, given the depredations of Lannister marauders – not to mention the fact that Ser Edmure lacks the temperament to command that they leave their lands defenceless (quite possibly the degree of respect necessary to make such an order stick to boot).

    Still, this only strengthens my conviction that the biggest mistake Ser Edmure made in the period leading up to the battle of Riverrun was to linger in the vicinity of that castle once the majority of his forces were assembled – as both he and the Battle of the Camps prove, Riverrun is a wonderful place to withstand a siege and a terrible place to fight a field battle on the defensive. Hence my agreement with your contention that he would have done better to establish a defensive line on the Red Fork.

    One suspects that the absence of any voice of experience with the energy (Ser Brynden the Blackfish) or the seniority (Lord Hoster) to TELL Ser Edmure what to do under the circumstances in which he found himself and the experience to expedite mobilisation probably hurt the defence of The Trident more than many, if not most, other factors.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Oh absolutely. Having a detachment at the Golden Tooth, even one big enough to march-block an oncoming army, is a good idea. Seeking a pitched battle is another story. Not so sure about the motives – Piper’s lands are on the eastern bank of the Red Fork at Pinkmaiden, and we don’t know where House Vance’s lands are, although they’re probably on the Gold Road.

      The Blackfish’s presence would have been very helpful. Hoster is less clear. He’s got experience, but I wouldn’t call it a military record of any particular reknown.

      • Evgeni says:

        Well, Hoster Tully did crush all the Riverlords who chose the side of the Targaryens during Robert’s rebellion. This does not make him a military genius, but it does show that he understood the needs of war, and would have had the ruthlessness to avoid some of Edmur’s follies. That said, I also like Edmur as a character – he is just not suited for the situation he finds himself in, but he would have made an adequate peace-time lord.

      • Sean C. says:

        Minor update, and I can’t track down where I found this, but I have a slightly different version of the same map you post here, which has more detail on the Riverlands:

        http://s253.photobucket.com/user/ColonelGreen/media/Riverlands_zps37198ca4.jpg.html

        This places Wayfarer’s Rest smack dab on the River Road guarding the approach to Riverrun, so House Vance would have been right in the path of Jaime’s army.

  6. CoffeeHound14 says:

    It just occurred to me that the Blackfish’s real world equivalent as a military officer might be Nathaniel Bedford Forrest. Completely discount NBF’s politics.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Or any unconventional cavalry commander…

      Forrest never defended any sieges that I’m aware of.

      • CoffeeHound14 says:

        True.

        Other unconventional cavalry commanders? I can’t think of any right now. Which is not to say that there weren’t any.

        • stevenattewell says:

          Tons. I mean, go back before the early modern period and basically every commander is a cavalry commander.

  7. Abbey Battle says:

    Here’s a thought that hit me yesterday:-

    For all the ink that has (metaphorically) been spilled in the castigation of Ser Edmure Tully for his very real errors and mistakes, one could make a very fair argument that the commander who REALLY needs his head examined is Lord Tywin Lannister – consider that his actions in the wake of the kidnap of his younger son are INSANE or at least more prideful than wise (unless Lord Tywin knows or suspects something we don’t).

    Now I apologise if my grasp of the timeline is a bit shaky and because I may take a little while , but by first breaking the King’s Peace by sending out marauders to commit what I will diplomatically refer to as Acts of War (and abominable cruelty to boot) against the vassals of House Tully, Lord Tywin then proceeds to shatter that peace, then grind fragments thereof into blood and mud.

    Now some might argue that the success of his operations against House Tully (clearly well-planned) and the (very real) affront that has been offered to House Lannister are all the justification needed for these actions, this is MACHO NONSENSE – quite frankly Lord Tywin’s first resort after news reached Casterly Rock should have been to lodge a diplomatic protest with the Iron Throne because quite bluntly no matter how much of the River-lands he ravages and no matter how many marauders he sends out, there’s no earthly way any of this martial madness will get Tyrion Lannister back (not with the latter above the Neck or through the Bloody Gate).

    Quite frankly these actions are going to do nothing but put Tywin Lannister in the exact same situation ‘King’ Balon Greyjoy found himself in during his own Rebellion (fighting alone, isolated outside the law), only even more so because Lord Tywin is not merely isolated and without friends, he’s made far too many enemies – he has effectively hurled his entire province of the Realm into a war against at least two of the Lords Paramount (Tully and Stark, more likely he anticipates three at a minimum once House Arryn takes custody of his son) and more likely bring the wrath of King Robert down on his head which …

    … well, look what happened to Pyke and House Greyjoy, who did barely any damage to The Realm, in comparison to Lord Tywin’s levies. No matter how deeply in debt to his Good-father Robert may be, The King cannot, will not and MUST NOT permit his authority to be not merely ignored but defied (and let’s face it, the prospect of burning those debts along with Lord Tywin wouldn’t exactly put a brake on Robert’s desire to visit retribution on his In-Laws). Quite frankly Lord Tywin’s decision to wage war in the face of certain retribution from Robert is even crazier than any of Cersei’s follies.

    Even in the aftermath of his elder son’s actions in and flight from King’s Landing (which certainly justify Lord Tywin taking steps to protect his own), taking the offensive into The River-lands, thereby weakening his forces through the attrition of campaigning if nothing else (compounded in the event by the casualties suffered in pitched battle), as well as leaving himself open to being scissored from The Reach and The North …

    Quite frankly the risk does not justify the returns and I suspect Lord Tywin knows that his pre-emptive strike would be more of a kamikaze action in these circumstances, with consequences so far beyond the likely outcome of a member of his house (which these actions would make MORE likely, not less) – unless Lord Tywin has reason to believe that King Robert will not be around to make the Doom of Casterly Rock a certainty, not a significant possibility (a prospect that in itself helps explain the apparently uncommon levels of cruelty seen in the War of the Five Kings), leaving the Iron Throne firmly in the Lannister Camp.

    I’d argue that there’s no greater evidence of a Lannister plot against King Robert’s life than the fact Lord Tywin was willing to risk the otherwise certain and terrible retribution of that monarch in the face of blatant rebellion.

    I would hope I’ve made my point with reasonable clarity and that I have not merely restated the blatantly obvious; I would also like to suggest here that if Lord Tywin was not in communication with The Twins at this point, he was a greater fool than any of his children have proven themselves to be.

  8. Neil M says:

    One thing I never noticed until recently is that Maesstar Colemon seems adamant that Robert Arryn was not to be fostered at Casterly Rock, but at Dragonstone with Stannis (the aforementioned duel stops the conversation before it moves further). And there seems to be a stronger Stannis-Arryn connection then I first recall, with Stannis going along on the initial Baratheon Bastard Tour through King’s Landing.

    Any reason for the disparity here you can think of?

  9. Abbey Battle says:

    Which suggests that she may have been a tad optimistic when it came to measuring the power of her House against Lord Jon Arryn’s will to resist same!

  10. Abbey Battle says:

    Never mind LYSA Arryn’s fanatical refusal of same …

  11. mitsho says:

    Good entry again, but is it possible that the very last of your post isn’t a fully finished sentence but rather a note to be written out later on 😉

    So, how does the timeline work out for all these movements (Tywin to the East, Jaime to the West and through the Golden Tooth, Edmure at Riverrun?). It seems to me that it wouldn’t work out, but that’s okay since it’s a literary work after all and things need to fall in place for a good narrative. (that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy your analysis)

    • stevenattewell says:

      It’s not entirely clear. What seems to be the case is that Jaime flees, Tywin’s at Casterly Rock raising an army, Jaime arrives, Edmure begins to mobilize, Tywin splits the army – half go with Jaime via Golden Tooth to focus Edmure’s attention there, and half go with Tywin (probably down the Gold Road) and hits the Mummer’s Ford a couple weeks earlier, then Jaime does a quick-march to Riverrun, then Tywin marches from the Mummer’s Ford to Harrenhal.

  12. […] strength from Riverrun, goad [Edmure] into scattering his swords,” and accurately gauges both Edmure’s gallant idiocy and Tywin’s pragmatic cunning. On a strategic level, Tywin’s feint has drawn […]

  13. drevney says:

    How is it you are so certain that Lysa is the one killing Arryn? In the first HBO chapter cerci and Jamie talked about the killing af Arryn in a way which indicate they are involved in the killing.

  14. […] Catelyn VII (the War of Five Kings begins, Catelyn compared to Lysa, why the Bronn/Ser Vardis duel is historically inaccurate) […]

  15. […] feet – he’s the one who’s insisting and it’s fully in line with his actions in the early stages of the War of Five Kings when he tried to conduct a perimeter defense against Tywin and Jaime […]

  16. Edward says:

    Actually, if Lysa didn’t keep the Vale neutral, they’d probwbly side with Stannis.

  17. […] As we’ve seen before, Edmure is thinking with his heart rather than his head and is acting to service his ego as much any strategic consideration. Indeed, similar to how Jaime in AFFC overcompensates in terms of cautious due to his embarrasment over his mishandling of the Whispering Woods, Edmure is overcompensating for his defeat at the Golden Tooth, where he acted to defend every inch of “Tully land” and forgot to use his rivers as defensive multipliers. It’s not a terrible idea tactically, but it’s self-defeating strategically – for all that Edmure talks about Tully soil, Catelyn is right that Tywin is trying to leave the Riverlands. Following his orders means Tywin no longer occupies the Riverlands; victory means that the southern Riverlands continues to suffer at Tywin’s hands. […]

  18. Souberbielle says:

    Here’s one I find fascinating: What if Littlefinger had somehow won the duel (assume Brandon tripped or something) and married Catelyn?
    I assume Lysa and Ned would inherit their siblings’ betrothal, but… what happens to Robert’s Rebellion without Brandon? How would Lysa fare as Lady Stark? How would Catelyn fare as Lady Baelish? Would Hoster find a way to raise Petyr’s status for his daughter’s sake, or send her off to the Fingers to distance his House from the incident? Who might Jon Arryn marry instead of Lysa?

  19. […] made for her by that system – she sided with Brandon over Petyr because that was what was expected of her, she married a substitute and stood by the marriage even when her husband supposedly cheated on […]

  20. […] to be. There is an unequal and yet intimate connection in an ambush that doesn’t exist in the trials by combat or pitched battles that we’ve seen so far.Jon gets a chance to observe the man he’s […]

  21. […] outweighs his amateur historian head, and as an honest critic I have to mention them. Way back in Catelyn VII of AGOT, GRRM fell into the old fable about plate armor weighing people down. Here, the fallacy is […]

  22. […] puzzle that Catelyn simply has no access to. She knows that Lysa was suspiciously squirrelly about which Lannister killed Jon Arryn, and she has a suspicion that Littlefinger might have lied to her about the catspaw’s dagger, […]

  23. […] on his family could be made with impunity – suggesting some of the roots of Tywin’s later doctrine of disproportionate response when it comes to Tyrion. The result of this mishandling was the metastasization of disorder […]

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