Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Catelyn VII, ACOK


“Give me your sword.”

Synopsis: Catelyn talks to Jaime and makes a fateful decision, with Brienne’s help.

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:

Next to Catelyn III, this chapter is the most important Catelyn chapter in ACOK, and arguably in the entire series as a whole; the character arc and plot companion to Cat III’s critical importance when it came to theme and argument. (It’s also the last Catelyn chapter, which is interesting in that it comes much earlier than the last chapters of the other POVs for no real reason that I could see) It’s also the chapter that focuses almost entirely on what may be Catelyn Stark’s most controversial decision, only rivaled by her decision to arrest Tyrion in Cat V of AGOT. If that decision causes many to blame her for starting the War of Five Kings, it’s this chapter that frequently gets her blamed for the Red Wedding and thus losing the War of Five Kings.

So it’ s important to take some time to make sure one fully understands what this chapter is about.

Depression, Anger, and LSH

In this chapter, we really get the arrival of Catelyn’s depression, which has been wavering in the background especially since the conclusion of her mission to Renly, but now comes in full force. This is probably the most cited aesthetic reason why people say they dislike her chapters, but I think there’s a bit more going on her than lacrimosity for lacrimosity’s sake:

The walls of the keep were thick, yet even so, they could hear the muffled sounds of revelry from the yard outside. Ser Desmond had brought twenty casks up from the cellars, and the smallfolk were celebrating Edmure’s imminent return and Robb’s conquest of the Crag by hoisting horns of nut-brown ale.

I cannot blame them, Catelyn thought. They do not know. And if they did, why should they care? They never knew my sons. Never watched Bran climb with their hearts in their throats, pride and terror so mingled they seemed as one, never heard him laugh, never smiled to see Rickon trying so fiercely to be like his older brothers. She stared at the supper set before her: trout wrapped in bacon, salad of turnip greens and red fennel and sweetgrass, pease and onions and hot bread. Brienne was eating methodically, as if supper were another chore to be accomplished. I am become a sour woman, Catelyn thought. I take no joy in mead nor meat, and song and laughter have become suspicious strangers to me. I am a creature of grief and dust and bitter longings. There is an empty place within me where my heart was once.

However, if we take a step back from the immediate environment of reading the chapter and whether we’re getting that immediate pleasure response, it seems odd that people resent Catelyn’s emotional state. This is a woman who has, in the last year, had her son almost murdered twice, lost her husband, had her daughters taken prisoner, and has now “lost” two of her sons. It is a scenario so cruel that it seems straight out of Greek tragedy – a woman devoted to family who loses her family one-by-one and dies alone and bereft – I’m surprised she retains her sanity for another half a book.

Moreover, in this re-read, I noticed that Cat’s grief is frequently paired with expressions of anger and a desire for revenge that suggests the first tremors of the Lady Stoneheart identity beginning to form:

“I want them all dead, Brienne. Theon Greyjoy first, then Jaime Lannister and Cersei and the Imp, every one, every one.”

…”Ned always said that the man who passes the sentence should swing the blade, though he never took any joy in the duty. But I would, oh, yes.”

Despair and anger are normal stages in the grieving process; what makes me think this might have something to with Lady Stoneheart is Catelyn’s desire to personally inflict vengeance and the pleasure she’ll take from that. And to me, that speaks to why Lady Stoneheart comes back the way she does, because when Catelyn dies at the Red Wedding she dies not only a broken woman but one who dies feeling unfulfilled because the injuries and injustices she suffered were never repaid in her life.

This is why I feel that, whatever might happen in the North and the Riverlands in terms of a rising against the Lannisters, I don’t think making Jon Snow the Lord of Winterfell is part of Lady Stoneheart’s agenda. LSH is ultimately a force of nemesis, not a person who can experience remorse and personal growth – if she could, then her death and rebirth would be far less horrifying, because she’d still fundamentally be Catelyn Stark and not an abomination who “came back wrong.”

Dark Wings Dark Words, by Oscar Grafias

Dark Wings, Dark Words

The inciting incident for this spate of depression – and indeed, for her later decision – is a letter with news from home:

“The maester woke me at once. That was dutiful, but not kind. Not kind at all…the bird came from Castle Cerwyn, from Ser Rodrik, my castellan.” Dark wings, dark words. “He has gathered what power he could and is marching on Winterfell, to take the castle back.” How unimportant all that sounded now. “But he said…he wrote…he told me, he…”

Before I get into the emotional significance of what Ser Rodrick wrote, one of the things I noticed on this re-read is that the timing might be quite important for the question of whether Roose Bolton was in on the sack of Winterfell, or whether Ramsay acted on his own initiative. The fact that Ser Rodrick has informed Riverrun of his mobilization suggests that it’s possible that the news might also have made it to the Twins  (it’s probably not long enough since Harrenhal fell for the news to be sent directly there, but the Twins would have passed on the message) and thus to Roose Bolton.

If Roose Bolton had known at this time that A. Bran and Rickon are “dead,” and B. that the Stark loyalist presence in the North is gathering in one place and can be potentially wiped out in a single battle, he might well have authorized an attack while moving forward with his Red Wedding plans to finish up on the job. After all, if Roose had gone ahead with the Red Wedding but the sack of Winterfell had not happened, Roose would have had to fight his way into a North being held against him by Ser Rodrick’s army, which would be fighting in the name of the re-discovered Bran and Rickon Stark and likely to gain the support of the Manderlys, the hill clans, et al. And indeed, had the sack not happened, it’s possible the Red Wedding might not have happened at all – Roose is too cautious to strike at his masters without destroying their ability to retaliate, and Walder is too cowardly to strike without overwhelming odds (and someone else to wield the sword).

However, for Catelyn all of this matters naught.  The only thing that matters is the blunt horror of what she believes has happened to her children:

“My lady, what is it? Is it some news of your sons?”

“…I have no sons but Robb…”

“Bran and Rickon tried to escape, but were taken at a mill on the Acorn Water. Theon Greyjoy has mounted their heads on the walls of Winterfell. Theon Greyjoy, who ate at my table since he was a boy of ten.” I have said it, gods forgive me. I have said it and made it true.

That line – “I have no sons but Robb” – reminded me immediately on Macduff’s “All my pretty ones? Did you say all?” from Macbeth in how brutal and how, well, stark the revelation of. Moving on, I want to talk about the importance of the story of Bran and Rickon’s “death” getting out. In sharp contrast to the show, which I will talk about at length at the end of the essay, the news works as a direct catalyst for terrible mistakes – both in the case of Catelyn Stark as we see here, but also in Robb’s case off-screen. However, I also want to note the specific way that this tragedy hits home for Catelyn – yes, it’s a case where Catelyn’s ignored advice turns out to have been right, but it’s also a case in which she feels like the rules of the universe, the rules the gods have set down, are been violated with total abandon and absolutely no retribution from on high.

Incest is Wincest: the Jaime Lannister Interview

And so already we jump into Catelyn’s extended discussion with Jaime Lannister – for a critical chapter, there’s really only one thing that happens in this chapter, but that’s so that GRRM can really take his time on this dialogue. For one thing, GRRM knows that he’s going to be introducing Jaime’s POV fairly shortly in ASOS, it’s been most of a book since anyone saw him, and even then he was a raging jackass who the audience had learned to hate, and so if he’s going to make his big villain-to-sympathetic-protagonist arc work he needs to give the new Jaime a preview. Thus the Jaime in this chapter is a lot closer to Milton’s Satan or the standard Byronic Hero – proud and arrogant, but also honest, independent, and sardonic – than the rather shallow, thuggish Blood Knight from AGOT.

However, he starts out being a massive, unrelenting asshole to everyone he encounters in this chapter, because like every other Byronic figure Jaime prefers to alienate people first before they can have a chance to do it to him:

“Are my bracelets heavy enough for you, or did you come to add a few more? I’ll rattle them prettily if you like.”

“You brought this on yourself,” she reminded him. “We granted you the comfort of a tower cell befitting your birth and station. You repaid us by trying to escape.”

“A cell is a cell. Some under Casterly Rock make this one seem a sunlit garden. One day perhaps I’ll show them to you.”

If he is cowed, he hides it well, Catelyn thought. “A man chained hand and foot should keep a more courteous tongue in his mouth, ser. I did not come here to be threatened.”

“No? Then surely it was to have your pleasure of me? It’s said that widows grow weary of their empty beds. We of the Kingsguard vow never to wed, but I suppose I could still service you if that’s what you need. Pour us some of that wine and slip out of that gown and we’ll see if I’m up to it.”

Catelyn stared down at him in revulsion. Was there ever a man as beautiful or as vile as this one?

Thankfully, though, Jaime’s annoying wordplay gives way to something a lot more interesting – a genuinely revelatory conversation in which the two exchange both information and their own personal philosophy.

“There are things I must know.”

“Why should I tell you anything?”

“To save your life.”

“You think I fear death?” That seemed to amuse him.

“You should. Your crimes will have earned you a place of torment in the deepest of the seven hells, if the gods are just.”

“What gods are those, Lady Catelyn? The trees your husband prayed to? How well did they serve him when my sister took his head off?” Jaime gave a chuckle. “If there are gods, why is the world so full of pain and injustice?”

“Because of men like you.”

“There are no men like me. There’s only me.”

Parsing Jaime’s Neizschean self-image takes a bit of work. On the one hand, this kind of recklessness, believing himself to be above the law, above all consequences, is absolutely fitting with Jaime’s character – especially before he loses a battle against Brienne and his sword-hand. On the other hand, I wonder how much of this is Jaime covering, similar to Tyrion’s advice about armoring oneself against the world. As we know, despite the brave face that Tyrion presents to Jon, he is actually incredibly sensitive to the slights that society piles on him. Likewise, I wonder how much of Jaime’s pretense at being an ubermensch is a defensive psychological pose against an unacknowledged inferiority complex – after all, Jaime knows that he lacks his father and brother’s cunning and political skill, and we know from his AFFC chapters that his total losses against Robb Stark (for all that he continually belittles him in this chapter) made him question his abilities as a general. Similarly, while Jaime clearly derives a good deal of comfort from his relationship with Cersei, we also know from his AFFC chapters that he’s very much both the passive partner and the one who is always called upon both to initiate and demonstrate his fidelity, and that this rankles.

One possibility is that Jaime is thinking himself as a peerless swordsman, which we learn in ASOS is central to his self-identity, and which is inextricably 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 killing half of Winterfell if need be). At the end of the day, Jaime really believes he can kill anyone who tries to enforce them upon him and that makes him truly heedless of all consequences. However, it’s not clear that his skill alone makes him unique among men – after all, Ser Barristan Selmy, the painter who works only in red (a trope from samurai manga that one can see from Samurai Champloo through to Blade of the Immortal) is Jaime’s equal in skill, and like any good professional Jaime has a sense of who his chief competitors might be (as we see in Jaime III of ASOS).

However, given Jaime’s discourse in the rest of the chapter, I lean toward the explanation that Jaime thinks (not entirely differently from Sandor Clegane) that, because of his pariah status, he is the only man who sees through the hypocrisies of society and tells it like it is – Westeros’ answer to Diogenes’ quest. Hence his argument that there are no gods – because if there were, why would they have not smote Aerys – and no justice, because otherwise why would he himself skate through life untouched, and that this means he can do whatever he wants because life is meaningless. It’s an attitude that isn’t surprising from a former child prodigy whose illusions went up in wildfire, but it wears rather thinner on a man in his mid-thirties than on a precocious teenager.

Thankfully, rather than sticking to freshman dorm room philosophy, Jaime takes his truthteller schtick to heart and finally admits what the reader has known for almost two books:

“Are you Joffrey’s father?”

“You would never ask unless you knew the answer.”

“I want it from your own lips.”

He shrugged. “Joffrey is mine. As are the rest of Cersei’s brood, I suppose.”

“You admit to being your sister’s lover?”

“I’ve always loved my sister, and you owe me two answers. Do all my kin still live?…it’s Cersei and Tyrion who concern me. As well as my lord father.”

“They live, all three.” But not long, if the gods are good.

Especially after writing 120-odd essays, there’s an enormous catharsis that comes with a smug, superior, hypocritical Lannister finally telling the truth. And it really could only come from either Jaime or Cersei, because it’s their lie and their belief that their word should never be questioned even when they know they’re lying which has driven so much of the plot for so long. (On an entirely different note, we can also see the signs that there’s something really wrong with Jaime when we see how little he cares about anyone in the world, even family members, who aren’t Cersei, Tyrion, or Tywin, because to Jaime they’re not really people. Notably, Jaime doesn’t give a shit about Joffrey or the rest of his children.) However, the catharsis and truth that Catelyn really wants isn’t the truth that Jon Arryn and Eddard died for, but rather what Jaime did to cover it up:

“How did my son Bran come to fall?”

“I flung him from a window.”

The easy way he said it took her voice away for an instant. If I had a knife, I would kill him now, she thought, until she remembered the girls. Her throat constricted as she said, “You were a knight, sworn to defend the weak and innocent.”

“He was weak enough, but perhaps not so innocent. He was spying on us.”

…”Blame the gods?” she said, incredulous. “Your was the hand that threw him. You meant for him to die.”

His chains chinked softly. “I seldom fling children from towers to improve their health. Yes, I meant for him to die.

Ever since the publication of A Storm of Swords, Jaime’s fan-favorite status has led to a focus on his redemption arc and how it will come about; something hasn’t quite translated to the screen, in part because his story was so badly handled in Season 4 and 5. However, I’ve never been quite on board with the idea that Jaime’s story is a redemption arc, because he never comes to grips with his attempted murder of Bran Stark.

Here, the supposed only honest man in Westeros obfuscates and dances, blaming the gods and Bran himself before he claims responsibility for the act. However, there is a difference between claiming responsibility and accepting guilt, between saying “I did it” and saying “it was wrong for me to do it,” and Jaime never does the second. Jaime was absolutely a knight “sworn to defend the weak and innocent” when he flung Bran from the tower, and unlike the case of Aerys’ murder there is no King’s Landing to point to justify his act, because unlike Cersei, Jaime doesn’t give a damn about his kids.

My frustration with Jaime’s half-confession has only grown as the books have gone on and on with Jaime wrestling with his kingslaying, his relationship with Cersei, his failure to protect Tyrion, everything but his actions at Winterfell and I don’t think Jaime can redeem himself and go shriven to his end without having done so. My only hope is that, with Brienne leading Jaime to his meeting with Lady Stoneheart, Jaime will have to reckon honestly with what he did to House Stark in a way he didn’t here.

However, I will say that Jaime’s honesty is absolutely refreshing when it comes to the second attempt on Bran’s life:

“And when he did not, you knew your danger was worse than ever, so you gave your catspaw a bag of silver to make certain Bran would never wake.”

…”Did I now?” Jaime lifted his cup and took a long swallow. “I won’t deny we talked of it, but you were with the boy day and night, your maester and Lord Eddard attended him frequently, and there were guards, even those damned direwolves…it would have required cutting my way through half of Winterfell. And why bother, when the boy seemed like to die of his own accord?…I may indeed have shit for honor, I won’t deny it, but I have never yet hired anyone to do my killing. Believe what you will, Lady Stark, but if I had wanted your Bran dead I would have slain him myself.”

Gods be merciful, he’s telling the truth. “If you did not send the killer, your sister did.”

“If so, I’d know. Cersei keeps no secrets from me.”

“Then it was the Imp.”

“Tyrion is as innocent as your Bran…”

Almost a full book after the end of Eddard Stark’s investigation, we’re plunged back into noir detective mode, as Jaime definitively excludes himself, Cersei, and Tyrion from the list of suspects for Bran’s assassination, although for highly ironic reasons. Jaime isn’t the killer because he’s too egotistical to hire an assassin; Cersei isn’t the killer because she’d ask Jaime to do it (although I do think it’s hilarious that Jaime thinks Cersei has no secrets from him when she’s been schtupping Lancel, Osmund Kettleblack, and Moon Boy for all I know); and Tyrion Jaime simply trusts implicitly. What’s irritating however, is that Catelyn does so very little with this information:

“Then why did the assassin have his dagger?”

“…I seem to remember that dagger, now that you describe it. Won it, you say? How?”

“Wagering on you when you tilted against the Knight of Flowers.” Yet when she heard her own words Catelyn knew she had gotten it wrong. “No…was it the other way?”

“Tyrion always backed me in the lists,” Jaime said, “but that day Ser Loras unhorsed me. A mischance, I took the boy too lightly, but no matter. Whatever my brother wagered, he lost…but that dagger did change hands, I recall it now. Robert showed it to me that night at the feast. His Grace loved to salt my wounds, especially when drunk. And when was he not drunk?”

Tyrion Lannister had said much the same thing as they rode through the Mountains of the Moon, Catelyn remembered. She had refused to believe him. Petyr had sworn otherwise, Petyr who had been almost a brother, Petyr who loved her so much he fought a duel for her hand…and yet if Jaime and Tyrion told the same tale, what did that mean? The brothers had not seen each other since departing Winterfell more than a year ago. “Are you trying to deceive me?” Somewhere there was a trap here.

The weird way in which that GRRM allows his mysteries to go unsolved or partly solved – why doesn’t Tyrion look deeper into Littlefinger after the man set him up for death? Why do Jaime and Cersei only realize that Joffrey ordered Bran’s death after Joffrey himself is dead?  – is quite frustrating, because especially in this series it leaves the mysteries open long after the people who would care most about the solution are dead. Here, we know that Catelyn’s an intelligent woman and fully capable of two and two together. So why does she repeatedly refuse to believe what the Lannister brothers are independently telling her; why repeatedly refuse to believe that Littlefinger might have lied to her? My only explanation is that Catelyn subconsciously realizes the truth, but can’t bring herself to admit that she’s been betrayed by someone she trusts so implicitly and has thus been made a catspaw in the destruction of her family.

My only hope in this particular line is that, following his political undoing at Sansa’s hands, Littlefinger flees to the Riverlands where he finds Lady Stoneheart. Littlefinger confesses his eternal love for Catelyn, and she pays him back by eating his brain. But I don’t put good odds on the latter part of this scenario.

Speaking of revelations, here’s where we get a huge chunk of Jaime’s backstory and learn how the heir to Casterly Rock became the Kingslayer:

“How can you still count yourself a knight, when you have forsaken every vow you ever swore?”

Jaime reached for the flagon to refill his cup. “So many vows…they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It’s too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or the other.” He took a healthy swallow of wine and closed his eyes for an instant, leaning his head back against the patch of nitre on the wall. “I was the youngest man ever to wear the white cloak.”

“And the youngest to betray all it stood for, Kingslayer.”

“Kingslayer…and such a king he was!…did your Ned ever tell you the manner of his father’s death? Or his brother…”

Jaime poured the last half cup of wine…”The pyromancers roasted Lord Rickard slowly, banking and fanning that fire carefully to get a nice even heat. His cloak caught first, and then his surcoat, and soon he wore nothing but metal and ashes. Next he would start to cook, Aerys promised…unless his son could free him. Brandon tried, but the more he struggled, the tighter the cord constricted around his throat. In the end he strangled himself.”

“As for Lord Rickard, the steel of his breastplate turned cherry-red before the end, and his gold melted off his spurs and dripped down into the fire. I stood at the foot of the Iron Throne in my white armor and white cloak, filling my head with thoughts of Cersei. After, Gerold Hightower himself took me aside and said to me, ‘You swore a vow to guard the king, not to judge him.’ That was the White Bull, loyal to the end and a better man than me, all agree.”

“…The Starks were nothing to me. I will say, I think it passing odd that I am loved by one for a kindness I never did, and reviled by so many for my finest act.”

This is a hugely important (and long) piece of backstory, which I had to cut down substantially but which is worth reading in full, and there’s several important things to unpack here:

First, there’s the topic of Aerys’ execution of Rickard and Brandon Stark, as well as the Arryns, Royces, and Mallisters who are too often forgotten victims, and what it meant for Robert’s Rebellion. As I’ve discussed in some detail on Tumblr, this act was an egregious violation of the feudal social contract. As we’ve seen, one of the key aspects of that arrangement was the lord’s offer of protection and justice in return for service. Aerys wantonly violated the right to trial by combat, one of the oldest rights of the nobility honored by both the First Men and the Andals, the Old and New Gods alike, and in so doing threatened every single nobleman in Westeros with the same fate should the king’s eye fall on them next – for if a Lord Paramount could be murdered, what lord is safe?

However, his actions went beyond that – the Mallisters and Royces serve the Tullys and the Arryns respectively because their liege lords swear to protect them; if the King can murder bannermen at will without any response from their Lord Paramount, why should any lesser House agree to do any service to a Great House? And finally, Aerys then orders Jon Arryn (a man whose heir he’s just murdered) to violate guest right and fosterage by murdering Eddard and Robert. It is sometimes said that Charles I caused his own death by repeatedly and unnecessarily antagonizing virtually every member of the political class of England to the point where nothing but his death would resolve the Civil Wars. The same can be true of Aerys II, who couldn’t stop undermining the fundamental customs that underlie social and political order.

Second, I want to talk about the vows of knighthood and the Kingsguard. In this speech, both in the “so many vows” section and the Gerold Hightower section, we see that Jaime clearly ran up against the problem that so many knights and Kingsguard have faced and couldn’t reconcile his oath to protect the weak and innocent with his oath to obey the king, and ultimately came to the conclusion that the ideal of knighthood he had aspired to his whole life was false and impossible to realize. Indeed, given the blatant hypocrisy of Gerold Hightower’s position (which we’ll see Jonothor Darry shared), Jaime ultimately concluded that it was better to be an honest kingslayer than a false knight.

However, I do want to take issue with the idea that the Kingsguard were bound to stand by and watch helpless people be tortured. Where I disagree with Ser Gerold and Ser Jon is that I would argue that, since every member of the Kingsguard, as far as I can tell, had already sworn the oath of knighthood before they swore the kingsguard oath, that first oath limited their freedom to swear any further oath to the king upon joining the kingsguard. We could think of this as akin to the principle of precedent (i.e, that a previous decision binds future courts) or the original meaning of a conflict of interests (i.e, that a previous interest might interfere with a subsequent duty), before that term entered into the general lexicon. Here, I think the example of Aemon Dragonknight is instructive – far from blindly obeying Aegon IV, this greatest of knights repeatedly clashed with the king when the king acted in ways that were dishonorable or that threatened the code of knighthood. If Aemon Dragonknight could take up arms against the king’s champion in a trial by combat and still be called the best Kingsguard who ever lived, then surely Jaime could have upheld his oath by acting in the best interests of the monarchy even if it required acting against the command of the specific monarch.

Third, let’s talk about what all of this has to do with Jaime’s self-image. Jaime’s statement that “I am loved by one for a kindness I never did, and reviled by so many for my finest act” fits perfectly into his Byronic self-image, that he stands above the crowd and unjustly is scorned by the masses despite actually being the bad boy they think he is. Of course, Jaime doesn’t bother to tell anyone why he killed King Aerys, because like a moody teenager who totally doesn’t care what people think of him while actually totes caring about what people think of him, which makes the whole thing a bit of a self-inflicted injury. However, as I have said, I don’t entirely buy this rather flattering portrait, because as I said earlier, Jaime threw a child out of a window and that’s not his “finest act.”

Why Did Catelyn Set Jaime Free, and What Were the Consequences

So now that we’ve finally gotten Jaime’s confession and tragic backstory out of the way, let’s discuss why Catelyn Stark decides to set Jaime Lannister free after listening to all that. When it comes to motive, Catelyn is rather explicit in that she tells us (or rather we overhear her talking to Hoster) why she does it:

“I keep remembering the Stark words. Winter has come, Father. For me. For me. Robb must fight the Greyjoys now as well as the Lannisters, and for what? For a gold hat and an iron chair? Surely the land has bled enough. I want my girls back, I want Robb to lay down his sword and pick some homely daughter of Walder Frey to make him happy and give him sons. I want Bran and Rickon back, I want…” Catelyn hung her head. “I want,” she said once more, and then her words were gone.

This is far removed from Cat’s careful politicking in the beginning of ACOK, and it’s driven by a desire to restore a loss that cannot be restored. And the desperation makes this a profoundly personal decision, rather than as a deliberate anti-war action as in her speech at the end of AGOT or a deliberately feminist statement akin to her argument to Robb in Cat I of ACOK. When Catelyn speaks of her “wants,” she’s using the definition of “to want” as “to desire” but also “to lack.” Catelyn is simply done, exhausted, she “wants” the passion necessary to carry on the fight, and she wants the loss to stop no matter what the consequences. And I question whether any of her accusers would fare better than she does, put into her position.

However, I do think Catelyn can be critiqued, not on what she decides to do, but how she decides to do it. As we’ve seen throughout this book, prisoner exchange is a delicate negotiation which requires both sides to work out terms through an exchange of written proposals until there’s buy-in from both sides, and it tends to work best when there’s a simultaneous exchange. By sending Jaime back without an explicit commitment from Cersei and Tywin, Catelyn has no way of knowing whether Jaime and Tyrion can actually speak for the whole of House Lannister. By sending Jaime back before Sansa and Arya are sent, the Lannisters have every incentive to renege on the deal once they get what they want. And worst of all, by not getting buy-in from the Lannister bannermen and Robb and his bannermen, Catelyn makes it impossible for this exchange to end the war as she wants. Instead, Robb’s bannermen will feel aggrieved and the Westerlords will feel emboldened because they can now go on the attack without fear of reprisal.

Even if freeing Sansa and Arya were Catelyn’s only objective, she went about it in the worst way possible.

However, and this is important, Catelyn is (probably) not to blame for the Red Wedding. After all, Roose Bolton married Fat Walda two chapters ago, which I consider to be a sign that the Freys and Boltons have come to terms on the Red Wedding. Roose has taken Harrenhal, which now means he has independent means of communicating with both Walder and Tywin. In the very next Arya chapter, Roose will give the orders to send his own men to their doom at Duskendale, which as I’ll explain in Arya X is a key shaping operation for the Red Wedding. Moreover, as we’ve now learned from the expanded Westerlands section, Tywin doesn’t necessarily hold back when his kin are taken captive.

In the end, as I’ll explain in ASOS, what Catelyn’s objectives did was to prevent the War of Five Kings from ending for the North in any kind of acceptable fashion.

Historical Analysis:

Speaking of the Mad King…one of the historical problems that attended medieval civil wars is that, while the winning side was usually quite adamant that they were in charge now, there was a general incentive for both sides to agree that an anointed king is chosen by God and can’t be summarily removed, and that people’s oaths to a king should remain ironclad. While loyalists’ support for the divine right of kings is easier to understand, the rebels also had an incentive not to destabilize the new regime by suggesting that this king could be replaced like the last one.

This tends to leave inconvenient deposed monarchs hanging around, who need to be dealt with somehow. Edward II, overthrown by his wife and her paramour, was murdered in Berkeley Castle on their orders (although the story that he was killed by a hot poker to the rectum is probably a posthumous slander referring to his homosexuality rather than actual fact) so that Edward III could become king. Richard II, even after being defeated by Henry Bolingbroke, posed something of a difficulty for the new Lancastrian regime, as famously depicted in Shakespeare’s play:

Richard II was put into Pontefract Castle, where he was slowly starved to death – the idea being that this didn’t actually offer violence to a royal personage.

The next royal monarch who had to be dealt with was Henry VI who, as readers of this blog know, went through repeated bouts of catatonia and was taken prisoner and retaken a number of times. Given the difficulty of leaving him alive, since even as a mad king he was a rallying cry for the Lancastrian cause, Edward IV had him quietly killed in the Tower of London, although Thomas More put the blame on Richard III because why not. And as I’ve described, the Kingmaker and George of Clarence never learned that lesson, because despite taking Edward IV prisoner, they weren’t able to take over the government permanently and were thrown out of power the moment Edward escaped.

Thus, I think Jaime could find consolation in the fact that Aerys would have had to die – a point that I feel some Robert’s Rebellion fanfics ignore when they chart alternate histories. Regardless of whether Robert had lived or died or who was in charge, the rebels were never going to let Aerys stay on the Throne or let a Targaryen remain on the Iron Throne – having rebelled against the Targaryens in the past, a future Targaryen monarch could mean death for the Northern Alliance. However, Jaime might indeed have changed Westerosi history by preventing Aerys II from being the first king to be put on trial and sentenced to death by the lords of Westeros…

What If?

There’s really only one hypothetical in this chapter, and you know it:

  • Jaime not freed? As I suggested above, this is something of an iffy case, as we don’t quite know how Tywin would proceed, and it’s been long enough since I read ASOS that I know I’ve forgotten some stuff. However, one thing that did come to mind is that, given the way that Robb reacts when he comes back to Riverrun at the outset of ASOS, he might well have been willing to trade Jaime for a long-term truce with the Lannisters. Not a peace exactly, and certainly not a surrender, but something akin to how I originally interpreted his terms about the prisoner exchange – that he would send Jaime back after an interval that was successfully peaceable. Now it’s quite possible that Tywin would have felt that, with the Tyrells on his side, Stannis defeated, and Winterfell sacked, he had the Starks over a barrel, and would have refused. However, given his “when they go to their knees…you must help them back to their feet,” attitude, Tywin might have been willing to let the Starks weaken themselves further by fighting the Ironborn for him.

Book vs. Show:

So I’ve had more than my fair share of problems with Catelyn and Robb’s Stark plotline in Season 2 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, but one of the most puzzling artistic decisions that Benioff and Weiss made was to have both Robb and Catelyn not know whether Bran and Rickon were dead. And unlike in other cases where budgetary considerations might have required the excision of a battle or some characters, this is an entirely self-created problem – Benioff and Weiss were the ones who okayed a scene of Theon’s men killing all the ravens in Winterfell, which makes no sense for reasons I’ll get into in Theon V. Indeed, it’s something they double down on in Season 3 when they have Roose report that Bran and Rickon are missing when Winterfell is retaken.

I don’t understand what the advantage is of ambiguity – if Catelyn and Robb learned that Bran and Rickon had been killed, their grief might help sway some of the viewers into believing that was the case, and the emotional intensity would help to explain why Catelyn frees Jaime and why Robb marries Talisa Maegyr. As it stands, both Catelyn and Robb’s actions seem to happen with insufficient motivation, which makes them seem more stupid and less desperate with the lack of emotional context.

Likewise, I think it’s strange that the show sets up a clear threat to Jaime’s well-being following his attempted escape, which you’d think would actually give Catelyn a justification for her actions, and yet never brings that up again and has Robb throw her into house arrest starting in Season 3, Episode 1. It weirdly undercuts the seriousness of what she does and yet doesn’t.

192 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Catelyn VII, ACOK

  1. Personally, I think B&W’s choice on obfuscating Bran & Rickon’s status was a belief that the audience member couldn’t follow the ‘complexity’ of some characters mistakenly believing other characters to be dead. Another Ex: Why does Sam also tell Jon Bran is alive, while Jojen insists they must not make contact at Craster’s? Huh?

    • I really hope that’s not true, because that’s both bad writing and a sign that Benioff and Weiss really don’t respect their own audience.

      • Sadly I feel like the evidence mounts.

        Some changes I get. Budgetary constraints are understandable. When perhaps two or more scenes are added, it makes sense. And when when they delay the introduction of characters, I get it.

        But it seems like with each season there is an increase in the number of ‘artistic license’ changes that not only do not add anything, but they actually create the need for even more drastic adaptation acrobatics to compensate.

        Last week you detailed one sad example: Instead of the powerful scene between Jon and the Halfhand, we get Jon & Ygritte being cozy in the snow. Nothing is gained (since we will see them fall in love and be intimate next season) & as you observed, a great deal was lost.

        Another example: Season 1 Ep 10, Marillion shows up in KL & Joff has his tongue removed for a political song. Why the change? I dunno; maybe they thought it would be clever to use the same actor, or maybe they thought that it would be confusing to have a different singer. Either way, this S1 change becomes an issue with S4 when the lack of Marillion at the Eyrie requires a change to the “Only Cat” scene, which has since caused further tinkering with Sansa’s arc (alongside other larger changes).

        It’s not like I’m gonna stop watching the show (B&W can still write a long battle scene like nothing else on TV), it’s a shame that a couple of the half-dozen people in all of ASOIAF fandom who know how the whole story will unravel often come up with so many scenes that are like rough fanfic.

        • Keith B says:

          After using up Marillion, the show could have found a different singer to be present in the Eyrie. The trouble is that in the book, when Littlefinger accuses Marillion of Lysa’s murder and has Sansa back up his story. Sansa becomes complicit in the false accusation. In the show, she only helps cover up Littlefinger’s guilt. Even though Marillion is a despicable person who tries to rape Sansa, among other misdeeds, he’s innocent of the murder. So Sansa is much more morally compromised in the book, and the show didn’t want to go there.

          The real mistake the show makes is having Sansa then reveal her true identity. That makes it impossible for Littlefinger to make his next move, where he brings Sansa north to marry Ramsay, then goes back to KL to tell Cersei of the Bolton’s perfidy. His play is to have Cersei authorize him to use the forces of the Vale to wipe out the Boltons, in return for being made Warden of the North. In that way, he gets control of the Vale, the North, and the Trident.

          However, once Sansa reveals her identity, Littlefinger’s game is up. There’s no way he can prevent word from getting back to KL that he has her. That immediately reveals him to be conspiring against the Lannisters and brings him under suspicion for the murder of Joffrey. The show doesn’t seem to realize this. I think the show could have made Littlefinger’s plot plausible if Sansa had remained Alayne Stone.

          • Sean C. says:

            Sansa telling her identity to three people in no way means Cersei must inevitably find out. The people in question are Stark allies; it’s no more inevitable than Cersei learning about the survival of Rickon because Manderly knows.

            Now, Baelish’s plot in Season 5 does make no sense, but for totally unrelated reasons.

        • Sean C. says:

          Marillion’s role in ASOS could have been played by any random minstrel. The reason that the Eyrie plot was different was not because of Marillion’s maiming in Season 1, but because the writers, in their own words, wanted to have Sansa “play the game” and stop being a victim (for two scenes).

          • By that same token B&W could’ve used just a random minstrel in the tongue pulling scene.

            My larger point is how B&W make little changes to the show adaptation to be ‘clever’ but they clearly haven’t mapped out why GRRM had Character X perform Action Y in Timeframe Z for a larger cause & effect down the road. Before it was little stuff like Marillion, the last season & half it just seems to be spreading to larger plotlines.

            I’d be more forgiving if this were LOST & the writers were just winging it. But B&W Know! How! It! All! Ends!*…and they still manage to paint themselves into corners!

            *Picture Elaine Benes cupping her mouth shouting “You’re bald!” to George Costanza.

          • Sean C. says:

            Sure. But the point remains, Marillion’s early sendoff was not the reason that the original plot in the Eyrie couldn’t be used. After several seasons’ absence, Marillion would have effectively been a new character to the audience anyway, so he would have required as much of an introduction as some new minstrel.

          • I had a different problem with Marillion’s maiming in season 1. It just didn’t make a lot of sense. Marillion had very recently travelled to the Vale and had been there the last time we saw him. The road through the Mountains of the Moon is very dangerous and difficult, as we had seen, with the clansmen attacking travellers, and Tyrion and Bronn were very lucky as Tyrion was able to turn that situation to his advantage (thanks to his name and family riches).

            So, we are to assume that Marillion felt really compelled to pay for a boat ride to King’s Landing, because he was just that desperate to get to the capital ASAP, in time for the new king’s coronation, because the audience is just much better there for satirical songs about royalty? Why did he go to the Vale in the first place then? And what happened – did he found Lysa and her son so unbearable? Why go to KL specifically? Did he want to be a court singer? In that case, singing satirical and insulting songs about the king’s parents was really not a good idea! Marillion never seemed like a guy who was so politically conscious and brave in the first place, so why would he be so eager to sing dangerous political songs on the streets of KL?

            Nothing was really gained by making the singer who loses his tongue and Marillion the same person – the audience had not been attached to Marillion in the first place for them to care more about him – and it results in an illogical narrative. Though that’s nothing compared to everything that’s to come, it was an early sign of D&D’s tendency to make illogical changes for questionable reasons.

  2. Steven Xue says:

    This chapter is by far my favorite in all of ACOK. Like you I especially love the exchange Cat and Jaime have on the conflicting oaths people in trusted positions such as knights have to swear and how they should take priority to their oaths. And while I agree that the Kingsguard can technically challenge and probably even countermand certain orders from the king, I really don’t think it would be wise to try that with someone as bonkers as Aerys was. Even Aegon IV who had his moments of wanton cruelty was for the most part of sound mind and understood the ramifications of pushing the envelope of his power.

    Also even if Jaime and the rest of the Kingsguard had the authority to challenge the king if they felt he was acting in violation of any law, they don’t have the power to do anything about it because Aerys’s command isn’t just limited to these seven men. And given how capricious Aerys was as a madman, he could just charge them with treason for speaking out against him and BBQ their asses next. I think like Jaime the other Kingsguard members did take priority to whichever duties they’ve sworn to do (although in their case they’ve chosen the easy road). Guys like Gerold Hightower may have found it easier to cope from witnessing their king committing atrocities by telling themselves they were doing their duty but not “judging the king”, less they themselves become a victim of such atrocities.

    • Lann says:

      Also Aemon was a Targaryan himself and the king’s brother and Aegon was afraid of him. Aegon’s wife was a royal and had the right to name any member of the kingsguard to defend her in a trail by combat.

      But while he was able to prevent Aegon IV from killing Naerys outright, he could not stop him from continuing to attempt to impregnate her despite the fact that it was dangerous for her and he did it out of spite. I suspect that Aemon was only able to oppose him properly through Daeron once he reached an appropriate age.

    • I dunno about the power. For Aerys to charge them with treason means he has to give the order to someone who’s willing to carry it to someone willing to carry it out. And given that the Kingsguard can physically put the King under guard, it’s not hard to prevent that.

      I mean, the “impossibility” angle doesn’t ring true to me because there have been plenty of insane monarchs in history and the monarchy manages to function despite them, even if that means the monarch is turned into a prisoner of their own system. George III was put into straightjackets by his own servants, for example.

      • Straightjackets, huh? Never heard that. Reminds me of Truman referring to the Oval Office as ‘the crown jewel of the American penal system.’

      • Samuel_DJ says:

        Something I’ve never really seen anyone point out is that Jaime actually learns a bit about what we might call capacity issues and the monarchy and tries to put them in place.

        You see this when he’s talking to the rest of the Kings Guard about obeying Tomen. He says something like: “remember that the king is 10 and we are to protect the King from himself. If the King orders you to saddle his horse, obey him. If he orders you to kill his horse, come talk to me.”

        The Jaime of Dance might wish he could retroactively fulfill his vows and protect Aerys from himself by, say, sequestering him rather than allowing him to roast people alive.

        • Steven Xue says:

          Well in Tommen’s case he is still just a minor so he doesn’t have complete authority over the powers of the crown. So he is less dangerous than someone like Joffrey or Aerys who could command people outside of the Kingsguard to do their bidding.

  3. Paul says:

    Part of me wonders if Catelyn actually had feelings for Petyr. To what extent I couldn’t say, but she seems to have buried her memories of him very deep before Martin’s story begins. It could just as well be the surface explanation, that she looked on Petyr like family. Still, it’s interesting how much trust she places in him throughout her story arc.

    Would it have been possible that she and Littlefinger had some sort of romantic tension? Then when it came time to “do her duty” or follow her heart, Catelyn chose to follow the Tully words. It could help to explain why Jon bothers her so much. After all, if she gave up her romantic notions, why does Ned get to keep his, AND bring back the living example of it?

    Not really a theory or anything, just some ideas that have been floating in my head during this re-read. I feel like somehow, there’s more to why Catelyn repeatedly refuses to recognize that Littlefinger set her and the Lannisters against each other.

    • winnie says:

      Maybe but I think the biggest reason why Cat refuses to see the truth about LF is because the plot demands she remain blind just like Tyrion doesn’t take action despite LF framing him and how Tywin doesn’t see LF as potentially dangerous even when he plans to marry Lysa and thus become acting Lord of the Vale. Martin is really putting his thumb on the scales there.

      • Grant says:

        Tywin can be viewed as looking at it through his bias against people of low birth and as in the North he did his best to make appointments and marriages that would balance the regions between strong lords who proclaimed loyalty and Lannisters who were actually loyal.

    • Jim B says:

      I think Catelyn just doesn’t take Petyr that seriously. It’s one of those situations where when you haven’t seen someone since high school, you tend to think of them as being still that same person many years later even though you know all the ways that you yourself have changed over the years.

      Petyr himself would acknowledge that he’s changed a lot — for one thing, he’s learned to play “his” game and not “theirs” like he did by challenging Brandon to a duel.

      But for Cat, Petyr is still that sweet, charming, but somewhat silly boy who took some harmless flirtation a little too seriously. It’s nice that he’s done well for himself in the Vale and now in King’s Landing, with some help from Lysa, which he’ll surely be happy to repay by helping Cat and her husband….

    • She seems very consistent on “little brother,” and you’ll note that all of the stories about LF involve Catelyn playing with him then dumping him – making him eat mud pies until he’s sick, refusing him at a dance, choosing Brandon over LF, etc.

      • Laural H says:

        Specifically in this chapter, she recalls Littlefinger saving her and Lysa when they were lost… Which primes her to believe him and not Jamie.

    • I think it’s very clearf rom her chapter that she never had any romantic feelings for him whatsoever. She sees him as her younger brother, and as a result, is compelled to trust him, and also does not take his romantic obsession nearly as seriously as she should have (i.e. she had no idea that he took it to such a level that he was still obsessing over it years later).

  4. Sean C. says:

    I don’t know that the Dragonknight is really a workable standard to hold other Kingsguard to. Aemon definitely stuck closer to the knightly ideal in standing up for Naerys in whatever ways he did, but he has an advantage that no other Kingsguard has ever had, namely, that he’s also a member of the royal family. There are limits on what Aegon could do against him, and Aemon used that to push the limits of his role as a Kingsguard.

    You’re right that the other victims of Aerys are often overlooked, though that’s arguably true even of the author. We’re not told much of any of them (or even the names of the other fathers who evidently went to KL; less Elbert’s father, who was already dead). The Mallister who died was Lord Jason’s brother; we don’t know what Ethan’s relation is to the Glover brothers in the contemporary story, or whether Kyle Royce was from the senior or junior line of the family.

    • He’s still considered the ideal they’re supposed to ideal to, so if the idea is what models they have available to them, there’s that.

      • Dragonknight went against the king’s wishes to defend Naerys (whom Aegon was not able to openly villify or condemn anyway, so he did it through someone else – both Aemon and Naerys had some protection by virtue of being Targaryens), but he didn’t stop Aegon from torturing and executing Bethany Bracken and Terrence Toyne. The idea that it’s somehow treason to sleep with the king’s *mistress*, or for the king’s *mistress* to sleep with someone else, is a truly curious one. (In the case of Henry VIII, who clearly was the inspiration for Aegon, Katherine Howard was, at least, his wife. GRRM has done something really incredible – he’s created a character based on Henry VIII who’s an even bigger asshole than Henry ever was.) I wonder what legal justification Aegon used for that.. I’m guessing none, except “I’m the king so I will do whatever I want”.

        And then, sadly, Dragonknight died defending his awful brother, as his oath dictated – even though the Toynes were absolutely right when they tried to kill Aegon for what he did to their brother. So, all in all, Dragonknight, as the ‘ideal knight’, is really an example of the failure and inherently flawed nature of the Kingsguard vows. In the end, he helped an immoral tyrant retain power and continue to ruin the realm, even (and especially) at his deathbed.

        The realm would have been much better served if Dragonknight had decided not to defend Aegon, or if Naerys had arranged a little accident for her husband the way Cersei did for Robert.

  5. winnief says:

    Great analysis as always Steve. I adore your take on Jaime and why he isn’t ‘redeemed’ yet but has to do something right by the Starks first. Ita that Cat at this point is experiencing a mental breakdown which might explain why she didn’t realize that a prisoner exchange in this manner is completely nuts especially given how much she distrusts the Lannisters. If she wanted to make a deal she had to talk to Tywin and that no one foresaw the Lannister’s using Sansa to try to steal Winterfell was a major oversight.

    Also I think Jamie’s flat admission to fathering Cersei’s kids foreshadows his marriage proposal to her later which even Cersei realizes is impossible. At this point Jaime really does consider the Lannister’s above the rules.

    • thatrabidpotato says:

      “Has to do something right by the Starks”

      Um, Oathkeeper?

      And his best scene in the fourth book comes when he calls Sybell Spicer a scheming turncloak bitch, tells her Jeyne is worth ten of her, and orders her out of his sight.

      He’s coming around.

      • jpmarchives says:

        Neither of those things actually accomplished anything though. Words are wind and you can’t just farm redemption out to someone else.

        A pretty sword and some heartfelt words don’t cover up the murder of a child.

        • thatrabidpotato says:

          Again, what do you expect of him? To just go in the blink of an eye from the douche that he was to a pure saint? That’d be ridiculous.

          This is a natural progression of redemption, based on him losing his fighting ability and Cersei, the twin centers of his existence, and then questioning everything else. It’s a process. He hasn’t died yet, wait to see what else he’ll do.

          As to your specifics:
          “Words are wind” is a catchphrase GRRM is overly fond of, but you should know better than to take it seriously. Words absolutely have meaning. Especially in this case, where Jaime is essentially sending a bodyguard to the last member of an enemy family who has been declared a traitor by Cersei, operating in direct opposition to Cersei. What more do you want of him there, to publicly announce that he’s quitting the Kingsguard and to swear allegiance to the Starks and try to ride out to help Sansa? Especially at this point in time, the end of Storm, where he’s just beginning his turn towards the light.

      • That’s a start, but then again, it’s also the quid pro quo for letting him go, so he’s still got red on his ledger, to quote Natasha Romanov.

  6. kaelandm says:

    “So why does she repeatedly refuse to believe what the Lannister brothers are independently telling her; why repeatedly refuse to believe that Littlefinger might have lied to her? My only explanation is that Catelyn subconsciously realizes the truth, but can’t bring herself to admit that she’s been betrayed by someone she trusts so implicitly and has thus been made a catspaw in the destruction of her family.”

    It could also be that Littlefinger’s lie makes so little sense and is so out of left field that she just refuses to consider it. There’s no logical reason for Littlefinger to lie, obviously he didn’t hire the catspaw since he wasn’t in King’s Landing, and Joffrey seems to just not occur to her as a suspect–it’s understandable that she might return to her earlier conclusion that Tyrion and Jaime were both lying, given that she doesn’t know what we do about Littlefinger’s duplicity.

    • True, esp. since Littlefinger is serving the new regime, it’s a bit hard to see that he’s playing both sides.

      But it’s bizarre that she never thinks that the man she rejected and who almost died fighting for her might bear a grudge.

      • Captain Splendid says:

        Isn’t this just part and parcel of everyone either ignoring or downplaying LF’s importance because of his low birth?

      • R says:

        Not really. It’s been over a decade, LF has achieved success on his own, Catelyn’s been married in the North for years, LF is her foster-brother as well as “the man she rejected” and foster-links are an important part of the Westerosi feudal network, and the chivalric tradition certainly provides examples of rejected men handling rejection honorably. And to think LF was lying about something like THAT, something that could foster a war with the Lannisters, would require believing him to not only “bear a grudge,” but be capable of some really extreme, malicious, life-threatening revenge against Cat and her family. I’m 29 and I do not expect the dude I had a bad breakup with at 18 to Facebook-stalk me, let alone try to put my life in danger.

      • kaelandm says:

        I agree. I would have liked to have heard more of Catelyn’s side of the Littlefinger story. Does she not know that he was spreading rumours that he’d taken her maidenhead? How does she feel about the fact that he’s happily serving the Lannisters and accepting their praise and titles and castles? How much of that does she even know about? I guess GRRM is trying to suggest that she just doesn’t think much of him or worry about him at all, but it does leave the audience wanting.

  7. Captain Splendid says:

    The thing that gets me about Catelyn releasing Jaime is that even though it’s a dumb move (and executed poorly as you said), actually having Tywin’s favourite son captive hasn’t done much for the Stark cause. Tywin hasn’t relented one bit, and you could make the argument that the Lannister forces are that much better off for losing one of their more impetuous generals.

    • Captain Splendid says:

      Oh, and while I’m at it, what’s the status of a member of the Kingsguard taking off from court to lead a host of his family’s troops? Sure, Robert doesn’t care and Joffrey’s on board, obviously, but it seems like no one else bats an eyelid at this particular development.

      • Grant says:

        Members have been sent to do military work in the past. As for Jaime, the Starks couldn’t credibly threaten him so long as the Lannisters held the Stark girls (girl but the Starks didn’t know that) and both sides knew it. Robb might have been eventually forced to by his lords, but in the higher calculations of Tywin and Robb, Jaime was a piece for advantage in the negotiations, the same as which side had the better position in the war. He wasn’t supposed to be used to end a war on his own.

      • Well, he’s spoken of at the time as having fled King’s Landing, so it seems like he’s under a cloud at the very least.

    • That’s a good point.

  8. medrawt says:

    Jaime never telling anyone (but Brienne) about WHY he ultimately killed Aerys is an act of such supreme petulance. And correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems to mean that he spent the 15 years between Robert’s Rebellion and the War of Five Kings living in King’s Landing and NOT TELLING ANYONE about the secret caches of wildfire Aerys had placed around and under the city. Whether or not that particular shoe drops, to me that (combined with what Steven talks about here) makes “Eventually Likable Jaime” too big a pill for me to swallow.

    • winnief says:

      It was unbelievably petulant on Jaime’s part but I think there was also a bit of PTSD and subconscious guilt over Tywin’s sacking KL acting there as well.

      I do worry about all those hidden wildfire caches myself…especially what Cersei might do.

      • medrawt says:

        Or a stray blast from one of Dany’s dragons heating up an unfortunate hiding spot.

      • Andrew says:

        Especially Cersei frequent associations with wildfire and her growing parallels with Aerys, including madness.

        On top of that, as we saw in during the Battle of the Blackwater, she was willing to have Ilyn Payne kill her rather than be taken alive and in being spiteful, even take Sansa with her so the Starks would take no joy in her fall. Given that, if the enemy is at the gates in KL, and she knows of the wildfire caches beneath KL, I think she would ignite the caches. She would burn the city so she wouldn’t be taken alive and to hollow out the victory for her enemies, being left with a burned out shell of a capital.

        • winnief says:

          They all but telegraphed it on the show with her scene with Tommen in the throne room in Blackwater and her later telling him “I’d burn cities to the ground for you.” She’s gonna burn KL…the question is why and how.

          • Grant says:

            It might happen, but like I’ve said before the show and books are so distant from each other that we really cannot rely on the show to give us insight into the direction the books will take.

    • Space Oddity says:

      There’s another aspect that people are forgetting here–part of Jaime’s job as Kingsguard is to keep the King’s secrets. Jaime’s not telling seems in part an effort to keep at least some part of his vow to Aerys.

      A misguided and foolish effort, mind you…

      • David Hunt says:

        Barristan tells Dany that he’s willing to tell her everything about Aerys. He clearly thinks that he can tell his current queen his prior king’s secrets. It might be that he’s more open about it because Aerys was Dany’s father as well as predecessor, but Jaime can’t justify not telling his current king (Robert) about the wildfire caches as they are a MASSIVE threat to his Robert as well as the whole of King’s Landig that he supposedly killed Aerys to save…including Cercei who he’s supposed to love.

        • Grant says:

          Barristan wasn’t offering to tell her Aerys’ secrets. Barristan shouldn’t know anything about the wildfire beyond the common knowledge of it being found in the city every now and then. His offer was to tell her the truth about Aerys that Viserys and she had been ignorant of, that Aerys wasn’t just an inept king but a crazy and cruel one and a man who frankly needed to be gotten off the throne as soon as physically possible.

          Talking about him actually makes me wonder about Barristan. What if at some point after Aerys had fallen he’d gone to Viserys?

        • Space Oddity says:

          Again, I’m not calling this a wise move by any means. Just another example of Jaime’s tortured relationship with his role as a Kingsguard and what it means.

    • Yeah, pretty much. You’d think that out of self-preservation at the very least, he’d want the wildfire dealt with.

  9. Phillip says:

    Bran was already falling when Jamie initially caught him. Any way it’s sliced, Bran ends up falling and crippled in the story. That Jamie catches him shows that for a moment he thought about the kid’s life above his own, for if he didn’t he would have sighed in relief rather than grab Bran and pull him up.

    At Cersei’s urging ( He saw us! [so let him die] What are you doing?! [saving him]) Jamie looks at her with loathing and makes the decision to give Bran the shove. Is it something he will have to live with – yes. But it’s clearly not something that he relishes or looks back fondly upon and he DOES express remorse at doing it later in the books, but his options were limited.

    For all you Stark lovers, what exactly was a smart alternative to shoving Bran out the window in that situation? “Hey kid, I’ll give you a gold dragon if you pinkie swear not to say anything about what you saw”? Only a complete idiot on the level of Ned Stark would leave the fate of many in the hands of the kid who clearly knows too much for his own good.

    If Jamie let Bran go Bran rats him out and Robert goes on a killing spree. Cersei,Jamie, all the kids, and anyone at court that Robert suspects knew about it will all die. Tywin then revolts and we have a nice little war on your hands. Congrats, millions of people will now die because “honor” says to give Bran a pat on the back and send him on his way. Ned Stark and his ilk would be proud – and dead.

    Honor is a horse. Survival > honor any day of the week. The preservation of life is the most basic of instincts. People like Jamie and Sandor have the right of it when it comes to “vows” and being a “knight”, and people like Ned Stark have the wrong of it. When a vow leads to the death of many, the vow should be tossed aside. The loss of one life is better than the loss of many/thousands. Yes, even the loss of one Stark life.

    There was nothing Bran could promise Jamie and Cersei at that moment. He was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, and millions of people have been maimed or killed for that very reason. It’s not something that Jamie should beat himself over every day of his life. Nor should he beg for the forgiveness of Stoneheart for choosing family/love over the life of a stranger.

    • medrawt says:

      OK, but “I already robbed the bank, was I just supposed to let the security guard shoot me? I HAD to kill him!” is kind of a sticking point for a redemption arc.

      • Phillip says:

        Touche. I won’t defend that it was a good thing to do, and Jamie has regrets it. But I still contend that of the choices available on the spur of the moment with the life of the woman he loves and her children on the line – choosing them over Bran is a decision Jamie should make 10 times out of 10 and is very understandable from my pov. Sometimes there’s no good solution, there’s just a solution.

    • Grant says:

      The life of a stranger? The life of a child. The life of a child who was nearly killed all because Jaime and Cersei were doing something they knew full well was dangerous and it came about because Jaime couldn’t handle waiting. And Bran wouldn’t have started falling to be caught by Jaime if Jaime and Cersei hadn’t been having sex in that room in the first place.

      As for your descriptions of Eddard Stark and the rest, let’s look at the results of following that logic. The Lannisters are one step away from being completely thrown out of power while in the North there’s a strong movement to restore Starks to power. If the Starks were more like the Lannisters, or the Boltons, would their name be able to summon this loyalty?

      • Phillip says:

        Child or adult, a stranger is a stranger. Cersei is Jamie’s blood and the woman he was love with, and choosing her and her kids over Bran is something that I could never fault him for. It sucks for Bran, but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and saw something he couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be trusted with to keep secret. Like those pyro-masters that knew about the wildfire plot – they knew too much and had to go. Better safe than sorry. Letting Bran go is easily the worse decision that he could have made at that moment. And Stoneheart and just about every noble in this story would choose family over a stranger – every single one every single time. Well, except for Ned Stark of course. But he’s dead for his stupidity and his daughters are now fugitives because he chose to put the life of Cersei’s children over his own children.

        Now if you want to chastise Jamie for committing treason and sleeping with Cersei and fathering children with her – that’s a whole other thing, and for that I offer no justification for. It’s what I thought would be the thing that most commenters would be the most upset about when it comes to a redemptive arc for him – not the Bran push. The Bran push is very debatable, the treason to sleep with and father children by the Queen thus causing a succession crisis is not. That’s what I think Jamie should feel the most regret about.

        The Lannister regime in Kings Landing is about to fall yes, but that’s more because of Cersei’s own stupidity, Tyrion’s kinslaying, and the scheming of Varys.The Starks however are easily the most pathetic of all major Houses currently. They are so decimated due to the decisions of Ned, Catelyn, and the King-Who-Lost-The-North that they have to rely upon the schemes of bannermen to win back their territory. For all of Cersei’s idiocy she could go back to Casterly Rock right now and still maintain great influence thanks to the power house that Tywin Lannister built the Lannisters into being. The Starks however are homeless.

        • thatrabidpotato says:

          “The Starks however are easily the most pathetic of all major Houses currently. They are so decimated due to the decisions of Ned, Catelyn, and the King-Who-Lost-The-North that they have to rely upon the schemes of bannermen to win back their territory.”

          The fact that you can say something like this tells me you have never read this site before. And you don’t really know much about the books.

          The Starks would have won the war easily had Martin not rigged everything to go against them. Balon doesn’t crazy, Robb wins. Lysa doesn’t crazy, Robb wins. Bolton doesn’t backstab, Robb wins. On and on and on and on.

          The King who lost the North? Try The King Who Stood.

          Ned and Catelyn also made a bunch of decisions that only worked out as badly as they did due to circumstances beyond their control. How about you read the relevant chapter analyses before spouting this? Go up to the top of the page, click on “Archive”.

          • Phillip says:

            I’ve read the books many times over. Those three have the led to the downfall of House Stark, a once great House that is totally in ruins now. The kids are now all fugitives and homeless as a result of them, and now it’s up to Mannis and other northmen to restore what those three lost.

            Ned Stark:
            -adheres to the “wisdom” of his wife and goes to KL, leaving behind a boy as Lord of Winterfell.
            -adheres to the “wisdom” of his wife and trusts Littlefinger with his investigation into Jon Arryn’s death rather than listening to everybody else and his own intuition which says that Littlefinger isn’t trustworthy.
            -rather than telling Jamie that it was his idiot wife’s idea to arrest Tyrion, he lies that it was his idea and thus HE is responsible for his own Northmen being butchered in the streets leaving him without protection.
            -refuses to tell his best friend about the succession crisis that is about to lead to war.
            -rather than getting his children out of KL FIRST, he gives his hand away to Cersei while his kids are still there thus endangering them all. Not counting that he shouldn’t ever had said anything to Cersei in the first place.
            -refuses Renly sound advice and offer to kidnap Cersei kids because – well – “honor”.

            Catelyn Stark:
            -pushes Ned to go to KL, brilliant idea.
            -tells Ned to trust Littlefinger her little “brother”.
            -rather than going directly home and not doing anything, she arrests Tyrion with every intention of having him put to death without any good evidence.
            -says “yes” to every single thing Walder Frey requests for the crossing of his bridge, and who’s idea of envoying with the Baratheons is to chastise them – worst envoy ever?
            -still refusing go home as Ned instructed her to, she decides to become Robb’s shadow and isn’t there for her sons when Winterfell is taken.
            -advises her son to make Roose Bolton of all people his most important General.
            -releases the most valuable hostage in the entire war, putting her son in the position of overlooking her clear-as-day treason which anybody else would be put to death for, which subsequently enrages a key bannerman whom detests the preferential treatment she’s gotten, ultimately leading to the loss of those bannermen when it’s Lord is put to death.

            The King-Who-Lost-The-North:
            -rather than declaring the North Independent (and staying in the North) unless justice is given on his father behalf – he decides to call half his banners and march South, eventually accepting the title of King of both the North and Trident which tremendously stretches his forces thin.
            -sends a woman, a Tully woman at that, to negotiate with Walder Frey who hates Tullys and has little respect for women, thus insulting him.
            -sends his hostage Theon as an envoy to his father, but is shocked that Theon rightfully chooses his father/Lord/King over his kidnappers.
            -loses Winterfell and the entire North to the Ironborn.
            -fails to give Edmure clear instructions to not engage the Lannisters in his trap attempt, and is chiefly responsible when that trap fails.
            -SPITS in the face of every single bannerman and the entire war effort in general by marrying a Westerling because of, well – “honor”.
            -rather than look strong and just in the eyes of his bannermen by at the very least sending his mother away after she commits treason – he laughs it off as nothing which makes him look weak and unjust, but beheads his bannermen for his treason and loses his troops.
            -goes back to Walder Frey after being warned that it’s a bad idea, endangering the life of his remaining troops and leading to their deaths.

          • “adheres to the “wisdom” of his wife and goes to KL, leaving behind a boy as Lord of Winterfell.”

            Ned decided to go to KL not because of Catelyn’s advice, but because he wanted to solve Jon Arryn’s murder.

            “pushes Ned to go to KL, brilliant idea.”

            Going to KL to be Hand was not a bad idea in itself, the problem was Ned’s inability to deal with the situation once he got there. What better way there is to protect your family and deal with your enemies, then becoming the second most powerful man in the realm?

            “rather than going directly home and not doing anything, she arrests Tyrion with every intention of having him put to death without any good evidence.”

            Um, no. Her intention was exactly to go straight to Winterfell. Tyrion created the problem by recognizing her in the inn at the Crossroads. That meant that Tyrion could go back to KL and report to his family (who were, as far Cat and Ned knewboth believed, behind the attempts on Bran’s life, and had murdered Jon Arryn before that) that Catelyn had travelled south and that the Starks likely were planning a move against them, likely war (which is exactly what was happening, Ned was talking about war). Taking Tyrion prisoner and using him potentially as a valuable hostage, and taking the initiative to accuse the Lannisters before they could make their move, was the smartest thing to do in the circumstances.

            And you must have confused Catelyn with Lysa. Catelyn never intended to “put him to death without any good evidence”. She intended to put him on trial, a public trial that would reveal what the Lannisters were doing; and was very upset when it turned out Lysa wanted to put Tyrion to death without any good evidence, and in the process lose a valuable hostage as well.

            You know what the idiot move was? Tywin attacking the Riverlands. Luckily for Tywin, he had plot armor until Tyrion’s last chapter in ASOS.

            “-says “yes” to every single thing Walder Frey requests for the crossing of his bridge”

            How would you know that? We didn’t see her negotiations with Walder Frey, which lasted for quite a while. You don’t know what Walder Frey was asking.

            Crossing that bridge was of utmost importance at the time. Ned was still alive and Robb and Cat were hoping to save him, together with Sansa and Arya.

            “still refusing go home as Ned instructed her to, she decides to become Robb’s shadow and isn’t there for her sons when Winterfell is taken.”

            Ned wasn’t instructing her anything at the time. The circumstances had changed completely by that time. At the time Ned was telling her to go to Winterfell, he wasn’t telling her to go babysit Bran and Rickon, he was expecting her and Robb to be preparing for war. Exactly what they subsequently did.

            “-advises her son to make Roose Bolton of all people his most important General”

            No, she didn’t. That was Robb’s choice. She was merely advising him not to put someone as impetuous Greatjon at the head of the forces that were going to face Tywin Lannister. Which was really good advice.

            ” which subsequently enrages a key bannerman whom detests the preferential treatment she’s gotten, ”

            Since said bannerman was a moron who thought a king would really severely punish his mother, and that he deserved revenge for the deaths that happened in the battlefield, and that it was perfectly acceptable to kill underage prisoners of war for that “revenge”, whatever he thought isn’t particularly relevant.

            “rather than declaring the North Independent (and staying in the North) unless justice is given on his father behalf ”

            What a genius idea! I can see the Lannisters shaking with fear at Robb’s proclamation of independence not backed by an army and without any real threat to them! Yeah…

            “sends a woman, a Tully woman at that, to negotiate with Walder Frey who hates Tullys and has little respect for women, thus insulting him.”

            Because Walder Frey would react better to a Stark bannerman or a man from Robb’s household sent to negotiate? Please.

            Walder Frey was not “insulted” by Catelyn – Lady of Winterfell and daughter of the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands – being sent as the negotiator. You just made that up. Even he is not that stupid. If anything, that probably made him felt proud and honored.

            “, but beheads his bannermen for his treason and loses his troops.”

            Said bannerman murdered two prisoners of war and deserved death. Not to mention that this further endangered Robb’s sister(s) – what a great idea would it have been to not punish the murderer of Lannister boys while the Stark girl(s) was (were) still prisoners in KL!
            And Karstark troops were already lost, since they had left and were looking for Jaime on Karstark’s orders – not to take him back, so Robb could still use him as a valuable hostage, but to kill him.

          • blacky says:

            I think both views have points in their favor. However, I think readers mistake GRRM’s excellent world-building for solid and logical plot development. There are several plot points which seem to mock the level of the viewers/readers suspension of disbelief. It feels like GRRM spent most of his time on building the set and ran out of time developing the story. Although, should he have expected this kind of scrutiny?

    • David Hunt says:

      “For all you Stark lovers, what exactly was a smart alternative to shoving Bran out the window in that situation?”

      Uhmmm…not committing Treason by fucking the queen and replacing the king’s children with his own in the royal succession in the first place? Or at least not do it in a place whose routines they don’t know and can’t minimize detection. I’ll go mewdrawt’s example one further. It’s not like killing the security guard at a bank. It’s killing the poor bloke that you’re mugging because he saw your face and can ID you.

      Yes, the consequences to Jaime and Cercei if they get caught are horrendous, but that’s because their committing TREASON. Under those circumstances, yes it makes logical sense for them to murder Bran. However, there is no moral high ground for them in that decision. They are (attempting) killing an innocent child to cover up their crimes. That’s it.

      There is also virtually no guilt to be laid at Bran’s feet and ABSOLUTELY no offense that he committed against Jaime and Cercei. Yes, he’s not supposed to be climbing the walls, but he’s not doing it to spy on anyone and his climbing escapades are grudgingly tolerated by the family anyway. He heard something from a space that was supposed to be vacant and decided to check it out. He stumbled onto a crime and the perpetrators decided to kill the witness. That’s it.

      tl’dr – even if it was “smart” to kill Bran once he stumbled onto them, it is still a horrible crime and we can despise them for it. They wouldn’t have been in that situation if they hadn’t been committing treason.

      • Phillip says:

        There is no moral high ground for the decision yes. It’s a terrible thing to do, but it’s a very understandable thing to do imo. Caught between a rock and a hard spot, you sometimes just have to make the best decision you can at the moment even if you end up regretting it later. Bran knew too much to trust him to keep quiet. He’s Ned’s Stark son for goodness sake, and in Jamie’s place I would also assume that Bran is just about as uptight about “honor” as his father is and wouldn’t believe a word he promised about keeping quiet.

        All I’m saying is that this was a no win situation for Jamie and one in which he had to make a quick decision that, no matter which way he chose, would mean the death of someone. Luckily it worked out that no one died at all, though Bran was maimed which is terrible. But keeping your family alive is not something I can fault the guy for.

        The succession crisis is something I can’t defend. That is Jamie’s biggest crime in the story, and imo it’s the ONLY one he should answer for. Killing Aerys and pushing Bran is something he shouldn’t keep apologizing over. And if Stoneheart attempts to shame him for Bran’s maiming he should tell her to go back to Seven Hells because she sure as hell would (and has) choose the life of her own kid over the life of another’s. Jamie owes the Starks nothing.

        • David Hunt says:

          First, I’m sorry, but “I attempted the murder of your child to cover up my treason, so it’s all okay and you should lump it.” is only a good argument if your goal is to get LSH mad enough to hang you immediately instead of slowly torturing you to death.

          Secondly, if you can’t defend the succession crisis caused by Jaime and Cercei’s incest, I don’t see how you can possibly defend the attempted murder of an innocent child to cover up that same crime. I can see how it was the course of action most likely to get Jaime and Cercei out of immeidate danger of execution, therefore making it a “good” decision. However, I think it’s ludicrous to say Jaime has nothing to apologize for regarding Bran. He made the choice between Bran and the two of them and chose them. I understand the choice, but that doesn’t make it any less morally reprehensible.

          Also, Jaime wasn’t keeping his family alive. He was keeping himself and Cercei alive. I agree with the Steven that Jaime doesn’t seem to care about the children at all, at least at this stage of the books. Saving the kids was an side effect of saving himself and Cercei.

          Finally, regarding your comment that “Killing Aerys and pushing Bran is something he shouldn’t keep apologizing over.” That is technically correct, but only because he never STARTED. He’s never apologized for either one of those acts. I agree that there are strong arguments that the killing of Aerys was justified and an apology would only undermine that. But Bran…that was just Jaime and Cercei trying to kill the witness to a crime. An apology is absolutely the LEAST that he could do towards making amends. And amends (at least) are called for because he and Cercei were 100% in the wrong.

          • Phillip says:

            The way I took Jamie’s dream in ASOS is that the more he apologizes for his acts, the less it matters and the closer he comes to death (the flame going out on his sword). To everybody else, nothing he will say will matter or excuse his actions, so why bother.

            He pushed Bran out for love of Cersei. He doesn’t love his kids because he doesn’t know them, however he knows Cersei has a connection to them so he wouldn’t want them harmed on her behalf. It wasn’t about self preservation. Jamie has shown that he doesn’t fear death. If only he would be executed for what Bran saw, I think he would have accepted it and not pushed him. But since it would have resulted in the death of the woman he loved and the kids that she care for – Bran gets shoved out that window each and every time.

            Should Jamie ever meet Bran I would think that he would apologize. Not in a ‘get on your knees and beg for forgiveness” type of a apology, but a “sorry kid, really wish I didn’t have to do that, life sucks but it was you or my kids and my sister” kind of apology.

            But as for Stoneheart – no, no apology. I think Jamie has enough of the Starks judging him for one life time. Stoneheart may expect him to come to her humbled and scared but I think she is going to get the complete opposite. He should tell her he regrets it yes, but “I’m sorry” shouldn’t be a part of it because if given the choice again, he’ll shove Bran again and if a noble in the story blames him for it they are hypocrites. They all would choose their kids’ life over the life of another kid.

            Likewise if she gets on him about not rescuing Sansa he should tell her that he isn’t going to go around the 7 kingdoms looking for the daughter of some dead woman because of a vow made at sword point. That he isn’t her lap dog and that she has no authority over him. That he has responsibilities to his King and his King > Sansa. Not that I expect her to understand any of that since a vow is a vow to her type. But I don’t see Jamie pretending for the zombie and her cult of outlaws’ sake. The sooner she and the rest of the BwB joins Ned in the afterlife the better.

            The “but a knight is suppose to protect the young and innocent” card is what I expect them to pull the most. And to counter that Jamie should tell them that Joffrey, Mrycella, and Tommen were young and innocent too, so he kept his vow by protecting them, and that the vow didn’t say “only protect the young and innocent who are Starks”.

        • But that was the whole point I was making. Redemption normally means moral redemption.

          • Phillip says:

            I think morally he’s come a long way toward redemption. To put it this way, ADWD Jamie wouldn’t sleep around with Cersei and cause a succession crisis, would insist on a relationship with his kids irregardless of what Cersei thinks even at the risk of his life, wouldn’t fall for Cersei’s crocodile tears and schemes, would avoid putting himself in a situation where he would need to maim a kid to cover up his affair, as well as putting a greater emphasis on knighthood. I think we all can we agree on this yes?

            And if so, then yes he’s clearly on the right path to a moral redemption of his preference. It’s just that I don’t think he needs to adhere to the Stark’s type of moral redemption, since the Stark’s type of moral redemption would involve him walking off a cliff or cutting his own head off just so that they could look down their high noses at him. Since nothing he could do would be good enough for them, he shouldn’t (and won’t) listen to any opinion they have of him. He’s his own man and should live his life to his own belief system.

            I think his dream was pretty clear – the only person who’s opinion should matter to him is Brienne. She is his sword, and as long as her flame burns/she believes in him he will live. Brienne was the only one Jamie needed to explain himself to and the only one he needed to reach – and he succeeded. She now believes him to a better man than before, admires him, and is even in love with him. Stoneheart and the rest of the Starks and Tullys opinions shouldn’t mean anything to him.

    • Its not Bran’s fault that He spotted Jaime and Cersei having sex and committing treason in his home. Even Cersei said that they shouldn’t be doing this in the middle of the North but Jaime sure was persistent. Its Jaime and Cersei’s fault that the war even happened in the first place and would have likely been avoided if Cersei had the common sense to have one of Robert’s children to avoid suspicion just having one black haired blue eyed child probably would have been enough to keep Stannis and Jon Arryn from having second thoughts.

    • Gotta say, I disagree.

      1. “Bran was already falling when Jamie initially caught him.” That’s not a defense – in law, if I shoot someone who’s falling to their death, it’s still murder because I have acted to harm someone with the intent to harm someone.

      2. “what exactly was a smart alternative to shoving Bran out the window in that situation?” If someone witnesses me committing a crime and I kill them, that’s still murder. That it is in my interest to do so does not make it moral. I’d also add that Jaime himself says that he could have frightened Bran into silence, so he can’t rely on that defense. (Finally, let’s point out that it’s not a given that anyone would listen to Bran – look at how Eddard handled Arya overhearing Varys.)

  10. Beat_Train says:

    “I will say, I think it passing odd that I am loved by one for a kindness I never did, and reviled by so many for my finest act.”

    What is your view as to what the kindness was?

  11. Chinoiserie says:

    While it would be wrong to judge Catelyn’s decisons if she was a real person, her constant bad judgement and depression is grating when you are reading a book. Her decisons are all reasonable when she makes them, but it is not merelh bad luck that causes them to backfire, they are all risky when she is making them and there are so many of them (Tyrion capture, Jaime release, leaving Winterfell, trusting and advising Ned to trust Baelish among others). While I like Catelyn I can easily see why others would not if they are not giving te characters the benefit of te doupt you would give for real people, her chapters are frustrating to read most often.
    As for Jaime’s arch in the show, it is mostly just moving at defferent pace than it the books. In season 4 and 5 he was dealing with his relationship with his family members and his role in the world, it is in season 6 when we get to Feast material for him really.
    As for the death not-fake out with Bran and Rickon, it seems that the rule in TV is that you can not have your protagonists think completely different from the issues the audience already knows so they would not look stupid (people would not have been fooled with Catelyn and Robb grieving I feel). This is similar to the Barristan reveal earlier in the show. I have never liked this habbit, but it seems the unwritten rule in most TV.

  12. thatrabidpotato says:

    I have three essays to write due within the next two days. Damn you Stephen Attewell.

    “This is why I feel that, whatever might happen in the North and the Riverlands in terms of a rising against the Lannisters, I don’t think making Jon Snow the Lord of Winterfell is part of Lady Stoneheart’s agenda. LSH is ultimately a force of nemesis, not a person who can experience remorse and personal growth – if she could, then her death and rebirth would be far less horrifying, because she’d still fundamentally be Catelyn Stark and not an abomination who “came back wrong.”

    I don’t believe that making Jon the Lord of Winterfell is on LS’s agenda either. But you’re wrong that this means she’s just a one dimensional force of nemesis. The living Lady Catelyn would never have countenanced Jon being made Lord, we see this in Storm. She has Robb’s crown for a reason, though.

    Not only that, but we also see that she is still desperate to secure her daughters. The very first time we see her, she’s willing to consider letting Merret Frey go if he gives her useful information about Arya. The orphanage in Feast is clearly being run by her as well. Either she is showing a surprising amount of altruism for a vengeance zombie, or she’s attempting to lure in Arya. Either way, these are not characteristics of a one dimensional vengeance zombie.

    • Winnief says:

      Agreed. Cat made a point of asking Jon to name someone, ANYONE other than Jon as his heir in his will. But she might be thinking that a liberated Arya or Sansa could take that crown…

      • thatrabidpotato says:

        “asking *Robb* to name someone else”

        and yes, definitely. If she were to come upon either of her daughters she’d happily place the crown on that girl’s brow.

        • Crystal says:

          I don’t think Lady S. is going to crown Jon. But Sansa is right over the mountains in the Vale, and her current guardian *is* Lord of Harrenhal and Lord Paramount of the Riverlands. He may have to flee to Harrenhal, or he may be sent there in order to straighten out the troubles there – “You’re the Lord Paramount of the Riverlands, aren’t you, Baelish? Time for you to take up your duties…” *Someone* is bound to recognize “Alayne” given her strong resemblance to Catelyn, which hair dye won’t entirely erase.

          Poor Sansa, though, if she had to come face to face with her undead mom. Given that she saw her father executed, it would make a horrible sort of bookend in her story line. And I am *sure* she is going to be in charge of the Vale’s food supplies, the ones that Littlefinger is hoarding – so she might wind up as “Queen Bread.”

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            You’ve touched upon what I think the real purpose of Lady Stoneheart is: to be able to give Lady Catelyn some measure of peace, by seeing one of her children alive at last. We are already seeing signs of this with how she’s hunting Arya.

            But I agree that it would be horrific for any Stark child to see their mother in this state. They’ve been through enough.

            Hopefully their meeting is one way only.

    • Sorry! If it makes you feel any better, I have far more than three essays to grade.

      But I disagree fundamentally about LSH. She is not Catelyn. Catelyn wouldn’t hang Brienne or Pod.

      • thatrabidpotato says:

        And she didn’t hang Brienne or Pod! She went so far as to cut them down from the tree!
        And again, keep in mind both Catelyn’s character progression up to this point, and what Brienne looks like to someone who has not been following her. Catelyn at this point has been betrayed from seemingly every quarter; after the Spicers, after Theon, after Roose Bolton, after Rickard Karstark, would it really be so surprising to learn that a woman she knew for maybe a couple of months would have betrayed her after thinking her dead?
        The very last words Robb Stark ever hears are “Jaime Lannister sends his regards”.
        And now, Brienne waltzes in here, carrying a sword made from the melted remains of Ice and covered in rubies, gold inlay, and with crimson paint on the blade. She’s carrying a letter saying she’s on Tommen’s business. She’s moaning Jaime’s name, and vigorously defends the guy to Catelyn’s face. What the hell is Catelyn SUPPOSED to think?!
        As for Podrick, he’s a member of a Westerlands noble house, therefore a Lannister bannerman by blood, and admits to killing people under the Lannister banner. Sure he’s twelve or thirteen. There’s plenty of other squires in Westeros fighting on the battlefield at that age, and it’s a lot older than Bran and Rickon were (which you can be sure Cat remembers).

        And again, if she’s just a force of nemesis, why the orphanage?

        • Catelyn herself sent Brienne on a mission to protect Jaime and deliver him safely to King’s Landing. So how is it “betrayal” if Brienne has been doing just that?!

          Even if LS thinks Jaime had something to do with the Red Wedding – which she probably does – it’s a really huge leap to assume Brienne would know that.

          And since when is it a crime and punishable by execution for someone to be simply serving the House of Lannister?! Especially if they are the Lannister bannermen from Westerlands, who are bound by the laws and customs to serve the Lannisters?

          That crap is something Rickard Karstark could think, not Catelyn. It’s a clear sign that LS is a seriously warped and “wrong” version of Catelyn.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            Protect and escort Jaime to KL =/= Taking service with House Lannister. All the evidence that Cat has available screams that Brienne has crossed this line.
            Brienne doesn’t need to know that Jaime had anything to do with the Red Wedding, she’s still helping the guy, who’s already committed plenty of crimes against the Starks.
            Since when is it a crime to be serving House Lannister? Since they went to war against House Stark and Tully. Since they threw Bran out a window. Since they killed Ned. Since the Rape of the Riverlands. Since the RED FREAKING WEDDING.

            And again, orphanage.

          • It’s a crime to serve the House of Lannister since they went to war against the houses Stark and Tully?! Uh, what?! So, by that logic, it is also a crime to serve the House of Stark or Tully since they went to war against the House of Lannister?

            “They” did not throw Bran out of the window, Jaime did, and people other than a few (Jaime, Cersei, Catelyn, Brienne, Tyrion – who probably has guessed it) don’t actually know that. “They” did not “kill” Ned – Ned was executed as a traitor on the orders of king Joffrey, and just because we know Ned was right that the throne should have gone to Stannis rather than Joffrey, that’s not something that everyone in Westeros would know and believe.
            Roose Bolton’s men were also raping the Riverlands, at the time when he was still considered by most people to be Robb’s man – I don’t remember Robb issuing any proclamations against it or wanting to punish Roose; granted, he may not have known the details of what Roose was doing, but that was one of his men (Robb and everyone else considered him as such, even if he was already planning to/betraying Robb). In the eyes of the people of Riverlands, “wolves” were just as bad as “lions”. Also, it was incredibly convenient of GRRM not to show Robb and his forces during their campaign in Westerlands in ACOK – this was something I always had a problem with; we should have seen whether he punishes his men for rape, as Stannis does, or whether he allows them to go killing civilians and raping when their “blood is up”.

            You seem to have very strange ideas about how feudalism, social contract and war works in Westeros. Bannermen have the duty to support their lords and fight for them when asked to. That does not mean that they are obliged to rape, torture or kill smallfolk or children for them (Tywin had very specific people for these tasks, like Mountain’s men), but it certainly does mean they have a duty to answer their call for arms.

            As for Brienne, who exactly is she supposed to serve? Catelyn is dead, Robb is dead, as far as she knows the Stark boys are dead, her former liege lord Renly is dead, is she supposed to be serving Stannis now? Or maybe she should join the Ironborn?

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            Note also that, like I said originally, Pod has gone beyond just *serving* the lions, he has actively killed for them! And bragged about it! He served Tyrion as squire, making him a member of the household of the guy who as far as Cat knows, raped her daughter! This is not some random mook we are talking about here when you think about it.
            I really think both you and Stephen are blinded by Brienne’s POV and the fact that we, the readers, know her to be innocent, while simply failing to look at this with only the information that LS/Cat has available to her.

          • It’s funny that you are writing “he’s KILLED for them” as if that’s some huge terrible crime/dark secret. Seriously? I’ve got news for you: if you are a knight or a squire, “serving” House Lannister (or Stark/Tully/Tyrell/whichever) MEANS killing for them, by default. What else did you think it meant?

            Pod has been serving Tyrion Lannister because Pod’s family is from Westerlands and sworn to the Lannisters. If squires were allowed to leave the lords they are sworn to every time said lords do some shitty thing, Westeros would be a very different place. Catelyn herself doesn’t seem to agree with you, since – like most of Westeros – she was here judging Jaime for killing a king as shitty as Aerys II (you don’t have to know about the wildfire or the exact manner of Rickard’s and Brandon’s deaths to be aware that he was terrible), just because Jaime was sworn to serve and protect him. Look at how Sandor Clegane’s life was like after he left the Lannister service. And he had a much better chance, being an adult, exceptionally tall and strong and one of the top fighters in Westeros. “Pod should have just left” is the similar type of logic as “why didn’t Lysa/whoever just go and become a commoner when her father was marrying her against her will”.

            And then you’re the one telling us we’re blinded by a specific POV…

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            I think we got our wires crossed to a degree here.
            I’m not necessarily arguing that Brienne and Pod are guilty of a crime in Westerosi law, such as it is.
            I’m arguing that they have established themselves clearly as ENEMIES OF HOUSE STARK, and that being an enemy of House Stark in wartime is enough to get you killed.

            Robb never knew about what Roose was doing. Never. Do you honestly think Robb Stark would have condoned that being done to the lands and people he was now king over?

            Bannermen are obliged to serve their lords, yes, but this also makes them the enemies of their lords enemies! Therefore, Pod is an enemy of the Starks! You kill your enemies! And since Brienne has taken up service with the Lannisters, she is both an enemy, and a traitor!

            Who is Brienne supposed to be serving now? Um, not the people who killed the Starks? Does she HAVE to be serving anyone?

  13. Grant says:

    The reason why it takes so long for people to suspect Joffrey, I think, is because in an odd way he’s below suspicion. Not because he’s too innocent or gentle, but rather because he’s too vicious, lacking in cunning and as we see possibly crazy. You really wouldn’t stop and think whether Joffrey would send an assassin just because you can’t envision this kid doing anything that would be at all subtle. Besides, Cersei doesn’t want to hear anything problematic about Joffrey.

    • David Hunt says:

      Yes, although it makes the dagger make an odd sense. It would be easier for Joffrey to get hold of than even a tenth of the blade’s value in cash. He obviously had access to some money, but not that much.

      So, does anyone think Sandor Clegane knew about it?

      • thatrabidpotato says:

        Nope. The Hound would have gone straight to Cersei, as Jaime acknowledges in Storm.

      • Grant says:

        As far as anyone can guess (with the people involved all dead), Joffrey probably just grabbed a dagger from his father’s store of shiny things without ever giving thought to the dagger itself. It was there, it could do the job, so what if it was an incredibly conspicuous one that obviously could only come from a very rich person and there was nothing like it to be found for a long way around Winterfell (besides something owned by the Starks, who would instantly know if this was one of them)?

        And when you think about it, the nature of the dagger itself is a hint. It’s dangerous but obvious and shouldn’t be used for this. It fits perfectly with Joffrey.

        As for Clegane, maybe. It’d add to his scenes with Arya and it would explain exactly how Joffrey found the guy to do the job in the first place.

      • Sandor Clegane is way too smart to not go straight to someone with the news that the prince is trying to put a hit on the Lord Paramount’s son.

    • But Joffrey sending an assassin was in no way subtle. In fact, arming him with an expensive Valyrian steel dagger was incredibly stupid.

      Which, retroactively, is what makes the reveal make sense – only Joffrey could have been that stupid.

    • zonaria says:

      Also lack of motive – the Lannisters have a strong motive for wishing Bran dead but (as far as we are aware at this point) Joffrey is in the dark on this.

  14. If there was only one thing I hated about Catelyn was that she never seems to regret what her actions. Especially since Her release of the Kingslayer caused the divide between Robb and Karstarks and their numbers would have made a big difference at the Red Wedding. Though I will admit I wouldn’t have done any better in those circumstances if I believed that most of my family was dead.

    Though there’s an interesting parallel between Cat and Arya wanting revenge and listing names of people that they want dead. Cat is already Lady Stoneheart, but Arya’s training is also taking her to the same path as her undead mother.

    As far I’m concerned about Jaime he is a terrible person even if he becomes a better man and knight, his adultery and cuckoldry caused a devastating war that could lead to the possible end of Westeros and not once in his chapters does he ever seem think on that fact. He has the audacity to be angry at people like Ned for killing Aerys but never thinks about explaining himself. It never seems to dawn on Jaime that perhaps the reason Ned dislikes and distrust him was because he deprived Ned the chance of revenge himself. After all Ned lost his father and older brother to the Mad King.

    I would have more respect for Jaime if he had done the deed and committed himself to being a good knight like being the Atoner. But Jaime never does anything of the sort. Just think of the good he could have done by telling the truth and exposing Kingsguard’s hypocrisy. Unfortunately Tywin’s children all share the capacity to be self-absorbed and cast blame on others and believe themselves to be part of an elite who can do no wrong.

  15. John says:

    How could Roose have possibly organized the betrays at Winterfell? He doesn’t know his son is alive, and has no way of communicating with him. Ramsay is clear spread planning this move before Theon frees him. I don’t see how this could work

    • He doesn’t need to know Ramsay’s alive, he just needs to send an order to the Dreadfort. And once he’s got Harrenhal, he’s got a ravenry.

      • Keith B says:

        Ramsay had already made his plans before he could have had any word from Roose. It’s possible there was a letter waiting for him at the Dreadfort, but if so it was superfluous.

      • John says:

        It seems like a rather complicated plan to come up with on his own, from hundreds of miles away, with only the most cursory understanding of what the hell is going on. It’s also incredibly risky – if it fails, and he sent a message telling his Castellan to do it, then his head is pretty much immediately on the block.

  16. Wil says:

    > I don’t think making Jon Snow the Lord of Winterfell is not part of Lady Stoneheart’s agenda.

    This sentence sounds weird. Perhaps the “not” should be removed?

    • thatrabidpotato says:

      The whole paragraph sounds weird to me.

      Lady Stoneheart isn’t “an abomination that came back wrong”. Rather, she’s Lady Catelyn, frozen in the state of mind that she was in at the moment of her death- near hysterical over her children, overcome with anger, grief and betrayal. But that’s a far cry from an inhuman, unthinking, force of vengeance. In fact it’s the exact opposite. Lady Stoneheart does what she does because of a welter of totally human emotions.

  17. Keith B says:

    “Catelyn is (probably) not to blame for the Red Wedding”

    Sorry, I have to disagree. Tywin would not have gone ahead with it if Jaime were still a prisoner at Riverrun. Yes, Tywin was willing to sacrifice members of his own family. But that doesn’t include Jaime. Jaime was his legacy, the only one of his children he really cared about. And without assurances from Tywin, Walder Frey and Roose Bolton wouldn’t have gone ahead on their own. Most likely Roose got the final go-ahead at Harrenhal, when he was able to report that Jaime had arrived there.

    • Tywin gave the order at a time when he couldn’t have known about Jaime.

      Remember, he didn’t know about Jaime’s hand.

      • Keith B says:

        Why do you think think that? Tywin doesn’t even begin to negotiate with Bolton and Frey until after the Battle of Blackwater. By that time, word of Jaime’s “escape” is out and the Karstarks are running all over the Riverlands looking for him. Jaime is at Harrenhal with Roose before Roose goes north to the wedding. Even then, Roose wants assurances from Jaime that he won’t be blamed for the loss of Jaime’s hand. I see no reason to think that Tywin gave the final order until Roose was about to leave Harrenhal.

        That Tywin didn’t know about Jaime’s hand until he arrived at KL is irrelevant. He knew that Jaime was alive and that Roose was sending him south with an escort. That was the deciding factor.

        • Because Duskendale was a key part of the Red Wedding’ setup and it required cooperation between him and Roose.

          • Keith B says:

            Duskendale shows that Roose was conspiring with Tywin against Robb. It doesn’t show that they were already committed to the Red Wedding. The relationship had to develop over time. They needed to assess each other’s trustworthiness. Roose’s remarks to Jaime at Harrenhal indicate that even then, he was considering pulling back. If Jaime had been returned to captivity, Tywin would have pulled back.

          • Disagree. Without Duskendale, the Red Wedding wouldn’t have worked because Roose’s army would have been majority Stark loyalist.

          • Keith B says:

            Duskendale may have been a necessary condition for the Red Wedding, but it was not a sufficient condition. That’s my point. Jaime’s freedom was another necessary condition, and that was due to Catelyn.

          • Except that you’re ignoring the extent of lead-time necessary for both the logistics and the political negotiations for the Red Wedding to take place. There’s lots of evidence that plans have been made well in advance of Jaime escaping or getting to Harrenhal, which was pure accident to begin with.

            But the idea that Jaime’s freedom was a necessary condition makes no sense – it was a freak occurrence that Tywin would have no knowledge of or ability to anticipate.

          • Keith B says:

            He does not have to anticipate Jaime’s freedom. The Red Wedding can’t even be proposed, let alone planned, until after Walder Frey receives the offer to marry one of his daughters to Edmure. That occurred after Jaime had escaped. Plans could not possibly have been made before Jaime escaped. So all Tywin needs to anticipate in order to approve planning the Red Wedding is that Jaime not be recaptured.

            The other events, such as Duskendale or Sybell Spicer’s plotting, do not have to culminate in the Red Wedding because they are beneficial to Tywin by themselves. Duskendale weakens Northern forces, Robb’s marriage to Jeyne antagonizes the Freys, and preventing Jeyne from giving Robb an heir makes it more likely that Sansa will inherit.

            It’s not necessary for Jaime to reach Harrenhal specifically. He could have arrived directly at King’s Landing, or I seem to recall that Tywin sent Gregor Clegane to look for him. Any of those events would have told Tywin that it was safe to proceed.

            Planning for the Red Wedding is almost entirely on the Freys. If they need a Lannister guarantee for the final go-ahead, Tywin doesn’t have to give it. It doesn’t take much lead time; he only needs a raven from Roose saying “I have Jaime” in order to reply “It’s on.” That takes about two days.

  18. Alex C. says:

    I strongly disagree with you that Jaime doesn’t subsequently wrestle with the crime that he committed at Winterfell by attempting to murder Bran.

    From my reading of AFFC, Jaime’s inner turmoil at Darry after he’s confirmed Cersei’s infidelity, hinges on precisely this issue. When he starts obsessively repeating in his head “the things I do for love” and he bitterly confesses to Ilyn Payn that during the hunt for Arya Stark (after the direwolf incident) he would have killed her – a child – if he found her because that was what Cersei wanted, what is obviously eating him up is belated remorse over the fact that he *already did* attempt to murder one of Ned Stark’s innocent children, for no better reason than because it’s what he thought Cersei desired. And now that his love for his sister has turned to ashes, he’s got nothing to justify to himself the terrible nature of what he became at that moment in the broken tower.

    I think it’s noteworthy that shortly after this point, Jaime starts drinking heavily each night after he has duelled with (and gotten what he likely feels is a well-deserved ass-kicking from) Payne.

    In fact, we might attach some significance to the fact that all three of Tywin’s children started abusing alcohol some time after he died.

  19. Alex C. says:

    I strongly disagree with you that Jaime doesn’t subsequently wrestle with the crime that he committed at Winterfell by attempting to murder Bran.

    From my reading of AFFC, Jaime’s inner turmoil at Darry after he’s confirmed Cersei’s infidelity, hinges on precisely this issue. When he starts obsessively repeating in his head “the things I do for love” and he bitterly confesses to Ilyn Payn that during the hunt for Arya Stark (after the direwolf incident) he would have killed her – a child – if he found her because that was what Cersei wanted, what is obviously eating him up is belated remorse over the fact that he *already did* attempt to murder one of Ned Stark’s innocent children, for no better reason than because it’s what he thought Cersei desired. And now that his love for his sister has turned to ashes, he’s got nothing to justify to himself the terrible nature of what he became at that moment in the broken tower.

    I think it’s noteworthy that shortly after this moment, Jaime starts drinking heavily each night after he has duelled with (and gotten what he likely feels is a well-deserved ass-kicking from) Payne.

    In fact, we might attach some significance to the fact that all three of Tywin’s children started abusing alcohol some time after he died.

  20. Irving Washington says:

    For the record, “I am loved by one for a kindness I never did” refers to the crofters girl Tyrion though Jamie had bought for him, not for throwing Bran out the window.

  21. Andrew says:

    1. “Trout fried in bacon”

    Possible hint for House Tully’s fate?

    2. As to Jaime throwing Bran out the window, I still haven’t forgiven him for that either Steven. Although, if it makes you feel better, Jaime loses the hand that pushed Bran out the window as an indirect result of it. (Throwing Bran out the window means footpad with dagger which leads to Cat to go to KL to be deceived by LF, and bump into Tyrion to start Wo5K which results in Jaime being captured and released as well as Vargo Hoat).

    3. “Gerold Hightower himself took me aside and said to me, ‘You swore a vow to guard the king, not to judge him.'”

    Compare to response at the ToJ as to why Dayne, Hightower and Whent weren’t on Dragonstone with Viserys:”‘We swore a vow,’ explained old Ser Gerold.”
    Another hint at R+L=J. They likely didn’t hear about Aerys naming Viserys his heir, and assumed Jon was their rightful king.

    4. “[Jon] Snow, that was the one. Such a white name . . . like the pretty cloaks they give us in the Kingsguard when we swear our pretty oaths.”

    Ok GRRM we get it, Jon is a secret Targaryen and heir to the throne. You don’t need to associate his name with the Kingsguard who are supposed to guard the king.

    • thatrabidpotato says:

      Since when did Aerys name Viserys heir? He threatened to do it, he never actually did it.

      • Andrew says:

        “He [Aerys] sent his pregnant queen, Rhaella, and his younger son and new heir, Viserys, away to Dragonstone.”

        WOIAF makes it clear he did given Viserys is described as his new heir even though his grandson, Aegon, was still alive at that point.

    • John says:

      They also may not have cared that Aerys named Viserys his heir, as, for instance, nobody much cared that Edward VI had named Jane Grey as his heir, and basically everyone not actually related by blood or marriage to Northumberland rallied around Mary.

    • t says:

      Bastard isn’t heir to anything.

      • Andrew says:

        The answer as to why they weren’t on Dragonstone with Viserys was “We swore a vow,” and the Kingsguard’s vow is to guard the king, hence the name, and that goes above all other vows. That would be a strange answer if Jon was a bastard, given that would be practically saying “We aren’t on Dragonstone to guard the king, because we swore a vow to guard the king.” If Jon was a bastard, the KG wouldn’t have been there after King’s Landing fell. Their vows would have compelled them to got to Dragonstone to Viserys. They wouldn’t have needed to stay with Lyanna, they could have just sent for Starfall to send people to look after her or take her there while took a ship to Dragonstone. If Jon were legitimate with Rhaegar knowing there is precedent for polygamy, then that response makes sense.

        • However, things may not be that simple regarding Jon’s status: while the Kingsguard considered him legitimate (assuming that Rhaegar and Lyanna got married), others may or may not accept that. I think that many in Westeros would still consider Jon illegitimate, because polygamy was always controversial, especially with the Faith. Jon’s (il)legitimacy could be a matter of dispute, even if all facts were to be revealed, sort of how the (il)legitimacy of Elizabeth I was, depending on whether one was a Catholic or a Protestant.

          • Andrew says:

            There is precedent for it given Aenys, who was the son of Aegon I’ second wife, Rhaenys was accepted as legitimate, or the legitimacy of every king since Aenys except Maegor would be called into question.

          • Because the Targaryens had conquered Westeros with three dragons, and the Westerosi had no choice but to accept them.

            And yet, in the very next generation, the Faith rebelled against the planned incestuous marriages, and when Maegor started practicing polygamy, that didn’t go well and wasn’t accepted. No king since has tried to practice polygamy.

            And that was back when they still had dragons… and were the dynasty that had been on the throne, uninterrupted, for 300 years, and was making the rules.

            The idea that everyone would now without reservation accept both Targaryen polygamy and the claim of a suddenly discovered child from a polygamous marriage that supposedly happened (which probably doesn’t even have living witnesses, and there would be always suspicion if it even happened) is quite a stretch.

          • Andrew says:

            Except at that time of Aegon I to Maegor. the Faith had an army, while by Rhaegar’s time the Faith Militant was long disbanded, and the HS was a puppet of the monarchy. There wasn’t going to be a rebellion by the Faith over this one.

            It wasn’t just marriages, but actions like Aenys allowing the Iron Isles to expel the Faith.

            There is actually precedent for Targaryen polygamy while absolutely none for the children of a polygamous marriage being declared bastards. Not even the High Septon declared Aenys or Maegor bastards. Someone living no doubt knows about or witnessed the marriage, excluding HR. The marriage could have been on either the Isle of Faces or by a septon, both require witnesses.

            R+L=J will be publicly revealed eventually, or there is little point in having it in the story. It would work if Jon manages to convince Dany.

          • What are you talking about? Jon, even if he was to proclaim his claim to the Iron Throne and intention to take it (though it’s not clear how exactly he could have any claim while being a man of the Night’s Watch…), he does not have an army nor the HS in his pocket… Not only that, but the HS certainly wouldn’t be thrilled to support a believer in the Old Gods. So, how is that in any way relevant?

            There is no precedent of the Faith declaring children from polygamous marriages bastards because none of Maegor’s children lived beyond perhaps a few hours, and nobody else has practiced polygamy since. If you consider a marriage invalid, it follows that any children from said marriage are considered illegitimate. It’s as simple as that.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            Jon isn’t going to sit the Iron Throne. His parentage matters for prophetical reasons, not political.

            But the only person he needs to convince of his parentage is Dany, as the Golden Company notes. “If she is seen to accept him, and take him as her consort…”

          • Andrew says:

            “What are you talking about? Jon, even if he was to proclaim his claim to the Iron Throne and intention to take it (though it’s not clear how exactly he could have any claim while being a man of the Night’s Watch…), he does not have an army nor the HS in his pocket… Not only that, but the HS certainly wouldn’t be thrilled to support a believer in the Old Gods. So, how is that in any way relevant?”

            I seriously doubt the High Sparrow is going to survive the series, especially if he backs Aegon against Dany. Also, Dany had practically nothing at the end of AGoT, and now look at her. Again, Jon would be getting Dany’s support as she would be inclined to support him if his heritage is proven, and I don’t think the Northmen would balk at supporting Jon.

            “There is no precedent of the Faith declaring children from polygamous marriages bastards because none of Maegor’s children lived beyond perhaps a few hours, and nobody else has practiced polygamy since. If you consider a marriage invalid, it follows that any children from said marriage are considered illegitimate. It’s as simple as that.”

            So Aegon’s marriage to his sisters was called “monogamy”? Neither of his sons were considered bastards. No polygamous marriage has ever been dissolved as far as we have seen, and we have no precedent for the children of polygamy being declared bastards. Also, again the HS is in the pocket of the monarchy, and I doubt the HS would want to risk incurring the wrath of Aerys.

            Also, IIRC, Storm KIng Argilac offered his daughter as a third wife to Aegon, and Queen Sharra of the Vale offered herself as a third wife to Aegon as well, and it was whispered that Lord Hightower offered his daughter as well. On top of that, Blackfyre supporters say Daemon was promised Daenerys as a second wife, and no disapproval is expressed. That demonstrates the high lords being accommodating to polygamy.

            All the evidence and precedent seems to be on the side of polygamy being tolerated.

            “Jon isn’t going to sit the Iron Throne. His parentage matters for prophetical reasons, not political.

            “But the only person he needs to convince of his parentage is Dany, as the Golden Company notes. “If she is seen to accept him, and take him as her consort…””

            The readers found plenty of hints pointing to Jon as king, examples include Mormont’s raven always saying “king” in his presence, Varamyr remarking Ghost is a second life fit for a king, etc. I think GRRM is likely going to play the trope straight through with the king in hiding.

          • If polygamy was OK by the Westerosi, how come it wasn’t OK in the very next generation? In fact, neither incest nor polygamy was suddenly OK according to the Faith…

            Could it be that they were simply acquiescing to Aegon and his sisters because they were afraid of being burned down by the dragons of the conquerors they didn’t even know at the time and who hadn’t been bound by any laws, oaths or customs of the realm?

            Everything points out that polygamy would NOT be tolerated, going by the simple fact that NO ONE HAD PRACTICED IT since Maegor – it hasn’t been ACCEPTED since Aegon, Rhaenys and Visenya.

            Blackfyre supporters were BS-ing, plain and simple. There’s no evidence that Daenerys was ever promised to Daemon. And there’s also no evidence that “all the high lords” were OK with that. Much more likely, only those lords who were Blackfyre supporters (because hating the Dornish took precedence over everything else) weren’t going to express disapproval of their leader’s claims. I very much doubt that the rest, who were supporting Daeron, ever gave any credibility or support to Daemon’s claims.

            Which is probably how it would be if a new claimant to the throne appeared and put his claim forward, on the basis of being Rhaegar’s son from a polygamous marriage: his supporters would say he was legitimate, while his rivals and enemies and supporters of his rivals would say that he was not, because polygamous marriages are not valid. Kind of like Elizabeth I was “a bastard” or a legitimate queen, depending on whether you were asking Catholics or Protestants.

            ““But the only person he needs to convince of his parentage is Dany, as the Golden Company notes. “If she is seen to accept him, and take him as her consort…””

            So, what you are saying basically is that Jon’s chances would entirely depend on Dany (or even on being her consort) rather than on his own claim.

            “Again, Jon would be getting Dany’s support as she would be inclined to support him if his heritage is proven, and I don’t think the Northmen would balk at supporting Jon. ”

            Eh, it’s not the Northmen who would be a problem – the majority would be happy to have a Northman and follower of the Old Gods as king of Westeros (though some may have a problem with Jon being an oathbreaker…). It’s everyone else in Westeros, who probably wouldn’t be too thrilled at having a Northman and follower of the Old Gods as King of Westeros.

          • Andrew says:

            “If polygamy was OK by the Westerosi, how come it wasn’t OK in the very next generation? In fact, neither incest nor polygamy was suddenly OK according to the Faith…

            Could it be that they were simply acquiescing to Aegon and his sisters because they were afraid of being burned down by the dragons of the conquerors they didn’t even know at the time and who hadn’t been bound by any laws, oaths or customs of the realm?

            Everything points out that polygamy would NOT be tolerated, going by the simple fact that NO ONE HAD PRACTICED IT since Maegor – it hasn’t been ACCEPTED since Aegon, Rhaenys and Visenya.”

            The HS’s niece was Maegor’s first wife, and didn’t want her being displaced, so he had personal reasons along with other things like Aenys’s actions regarding the Iron Isles. The Faith still recognized Aegon’s marriages in the end, and his children as legitimate. Incest wasn’t suddenly “OK,” but it must be pointed out they gave the Targaryens a pass for it after the Faith’s Rebellion. Whose to say the same exemption couldn’t be made for polygamy?

            No one practiced it after Maegor, because they simply had become accustomed to monogamy since Jaehaerys.

            Saying everything points to it not being tolerated puts too much focus on one incident while ignoring all the others regarding it such as Argilac, Sharra, Hightower and Blackfyre supporters long after the Faith’s Rebellion as well as the Faith making exemptions for the Targaryens.

            “Blackfyre supporters were BS-ing, plain and simple. There’s no evidence that Daenerys was ever promised to Daemon. And there’s also no evidence that “all the high lords” were OK with that. Much more likely, only those lords who were Blackfyre supporters (because hating the Dornish took precedence over everything else) weren’t going to express disapproval of their leader’s claims. I very much doubt that the rest, who were supporting Daeron, ever gave any credibility or support to Daemon’s claims.

            Which is probably how it would be if a new claimant to the throne appeared and put his claim forward, on the basis of being Rhaegar’s son from a polygamous marriage: his supporters would say he was legitimate, while his rivals and enemies and supporters of his rivals would say that he was not, because polygamous marriages are not valid. Kind of like Elizabeth I was “a bastard” or a legitimate queen, depending on whether you were asking Catholics or Protestants.”

            Yet, the Blackfyre supporters saying that without expressing disapproval shows a level of tolerance for polygamy given they were using it as an argument. Not all the high lords are probably okay with Targaryen incest, but they allow it.

            Rhaegar has precedent on his side, and no polygamous marriage has ever been invalidated as far as anyone can recall. The difference is the Tudors nor any of their predecessors never practiced polygamy before. Jon’s enemies (the Lannisters) would be more likely to go the route to referring to his bastard status before the reveal.

          • “The difference is the Tudors nor any of their predecessors never practiced polygamy before. ”

            Actually, whether Edward IV had (secretly) practiced bigamy was a huge deal and had a lot to do with the succession issues. But the Tudors did not practice polygamy – Henry VIII had annulments of some of his marriages, including, most controversially, the annulment of his first marriage. And in fact, royals and nobles annulling their marriages and marrying again was not a new thing. Some of the ancestors of the Tudors did, indeed, practice it — notably Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, who married shortly after her first husband king Louis VII annulled his marriage to her (even though they were married for years and had two daughters). The difference was that the Pope did not give Henry permission to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. (The fact that she was the aunt of someone even more powerful than Henry VIII, Emperor Charles V, likely played a role in that.)

        • thatrabidpotato says:

          His chances of being recognized as a Targaryen certainly depend on Dany recognizing him. The word of Howland Reed is just not going to cut it.

          • APerson says:

            A dragon might be a convincing piece of evidence.

          • Andrew says:

            Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. Basically, the ASOIAF version of “sword in the stone.”

            I think Dany would pose the challenge of him mounting a dragon to prove his heritage. It comes with the bonus of if he fails, he gets himself killed, permanently removing him from the game if he is a false pretender.

          • Dragons care about blood, not about legitimacy and marriages. (As proven in the past through the likes of Hugh the Hammer and Ulf White – if they were even dragonseeds in the first place.) Taming a dragon would in fact not prove anything about Jon’s legitimacy, or his parents’ hypothetical marriage.

          • Andrew says:

            It clearly proves he has Targaryen ancestry, and verify his claim. It can’t have come from the Stark side, and any of the other potential mothers for Jon likely don’t have Targaryen ancestry either. Add Howland Reed’s testimony to that as well as other eyewitnesses, then there is no denying Jon’s pedigree.

          • Andrew says:

            There is also precedent for it when Addam of Hull supposedly proved he was Laenor Velaryon’s son by mounting Seasmoke.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            That’s also how I think she’s going to deal with fAegon. He’s going to fail the test and get roasted, so she’ll try it again with Jon and be shocked when he pulls it out.

          • First off, if fAegon is a Blackfyre, he has Targaryen blood, so why would he fail, if dragontaming is supposed to be a test of Targaryen blood?

            Secondly. Quentyn had Targaryen blood but that didn’t help him. The test isn’t infallible, obviously. And judging by the fact that the Targaryens used to give dragon eggs to young Targaryens so they could bond with their dragon early, indicates that taming a dragon isn’t really that easy or certain if you happen to have Targ blood, or rather Valyrian blood, I guess, since all prominent Valyrian families had dragons, not just Targaryens.

            …come to think of it, does that mean that it would be easy to find a bunch of potential dragontamers if you just went to Lys?

          • Andrew says:

            Shocked when he pulls it out? Paging Dr Freud.

            In seriousness, I don’t think it will be that way with fAegon, but rather pay attention to how the first Blackfyre died, also named Aegon, in the Battle of Redgrass Field. Add to that we have a man in the riverlands named Brynden who has shown on several occasions to be a skilled archer.

    • 2. Yes, it’s not a coincidence.

      3. Quite probably.

      4. HAH!

  22. Jake Drake says:

    The thing about Jaime is that I think he does use Cersei for something and that’s to keep his state of mind going. First he gets to feel like a real knight by being the person his sister goes to after she’s been raped by Robert or is in need, a warped version of helping family and the weak, and she also helps him go back to his Bryonic-Mode whenever he starts to wonder why he feels bad when he does bad things when he supposed to not care because he’s above all that. Cersei serves as the foundation for his mental back-flips to justify the person he is and the action he does until ASOS.

    In terms of why he never tells anyone, I think fuming over how everyone treats him lets him forget that he just sat on a chair while Rhaegar’s family was butchered. It lets him focus on saving King’s Landing and killing the Mad King, with his reward being disdain from everyone else, and keep his mind off failing to save the Royal Family. There’s a WI in what might have happened if Jaime went to save Elia and her children, or at least tried to.

  23. “I am a creature of grief and dust and bitter longings. There is an empty place within me where my heart was once.”

    These lines are remarkably similar to how Arya’s feelings after the Red Wedding are described in her POV in ASOS, and she thinks something similar again in AFFC when she’s in Braavos – that “there is a hole” where her heart used to be.
    It’s just one of the things that show that, IMO, Arya is, out of all Catelyn’s children, the one who has most similarities in personality with her, as well as most thematic links in her arc.

    Re: Jaime – Jaime does, however, admit in ASOS (aloud, to Cersei) that he feels ashamed about throwing Bran out of the tower – when he tells Cersei: “I am not ashamed of loving you, only of the things I have done to conceal it. That boy in Winterfell…”

    I don’t agree about Aemon the Dragonknight as the shining example of what a KG should be. As I pointed out in another comment, Dragonknight went against Aegon when it came to protecting their sister Naerys (there’s something he has in common with Jaime – they boht really loved their sisters), but we don’t know that he went against Aegon’s wishes on any other issue that did not involve Naerys. He certainly did not save Terrence Toyne and Bethany Bracken. And in the end, upheld his vows and died defending his brother the king from the Toynes, who were absolutely right to demand justice for their brother, the only way that justice can really work in Westeros – by killing Aegon. Dragonknight is as another example that even the “ideal” of what a KG knight should be is flawed, as he, in the end, kept an immoral tyrant alive and in power, free to continue destroying the realm (even and especially on his deathbed).

    In your historical analysis section, I love the part where you said: “…but Thomas More blamed Richard III because why not”. Heh. I’d say though that this wasn’t just an example of the “blame Richard III for everything” campaign, but was also probably motivated by not wanting to blame Edward IV, since he was Henry VIII’s granddaddy and the man Henry was mostly deriving his legitimacy as a king from, since many people did not think that “right of conquest” was a thing and that Henry VII had any claim to the throne other than through his wife.

    • Sean C. says:

      Terrence Toyne violated his Kingsguard oath. I don’t know that we’ve been told if there’s a specific punishment for breaking it, but the only other case where we know one of the knights has been held accountable for dereliction of duty was Ser Lucamore Strong, who was castrated and exiled to the Wall on the orders of Jaehaerys I. Considering that the Wall is typically used as an alternative to capital punishment in Westeros, death is quite plausibly understood to be part of the criminal code for those who break the Kingsguard oath.

      You’re correct about Bethany Bracken, though.

  24. APerson says:

    Great analysis! The ‘creature of dust’ quote is one of Cat’s most heart-wrenching moments for me. It’s just… someone hug her, please. Preferably a person in her family.
    I was wondering though, if Cat didn’t release Jaime here, do you think Robb, newly married to a weak Westeman house, losing alliances, and with his heir apparent in KL, would have been willing/able to trade Jaime for Sansa and “Arya” (presuming anyone is willing to buy the Lannister’s still have her)? Or, conversely, if Cat started organizing a more official prisoner exchange–would Robb and his banner man allow it?

  25. Keith B says:

    The part about Catelyn brushing Sansa’s hair is sweet. Unfortunately, she was more of a devoted mother than a good one, at least for the girls. She was probably worse for Sansa than for Arya. Catelyn tried to squeeze Arya into the mold of what she thought a young lady should be, but Arya was strong enough to resist. Sansa did fit that mold, so Catelyn indulged her love of songs and dreamy romanticism, and didn’t attempt to balance it with a dose of reality.

    She worried about Arya because she was a tomboy at age nine, but Arya, mostly on her own initiative, was acquiring skills that would have made her a valuable partner for whatever lord she had married. Sansa’s upbringing wasn’t making her good for much but sewing and singing. Even if the marriage to Joffrey had gone as expected, it would have taken a long time and a lot of hard lessons before Sansa was able to cope in King’s Landing.

    • Sansa knows much more than singing and sewing. According to Arya herself, Sansa reads and writes better than any of her siblings, writes poetry, in addition to knowing to dance and knowing how to dress; we later see that Sansa knows quite a big of history, and as we see later when Sansa meets various people from Robert’s party, she knows heraldry of various houses and can recognize who belongs to which one and who is who, and knows her courtesies and what to say to each person (as when she recognizes Barristan and Renly, despite never having seen them, and knows how to comport herself in their presence). These are all the important skills for a highborn lady of her time, and the way they are often summarily dismissed as irrelevant girly stuff by ASOAIF readers shows the lack of understanding of the medieval(-like) society GRRM is describing. A noble lady’s role was not just to sit, look pretty and have babies; she had to fulfill an important political role, appearing in public, organizing things like the balls and parties that D&D made Talisa speak with such contempt (showing how little they understand of the medieval society) that actually were incredibly important socially and politically: things like who was there, how you were dressed, etc. were political statements and important for the networking and social relations. Plus, noble ladies ran the household; in modern terms, while servants did specific tasks, a lady of the house had a manager/supervisory function, as well as an important PR function in relation to the public.

      Sansa did indeed have most of the necessary skills required of a lady of her position for her future role as a queen. The area where Arya was doing better was mathematics, but that doesn’t mean that Sansa was bad at it, only that Arya was better. That’s something that would also help in the presumed role as lady of the household – accounting was an important part of running a household. Arya also liked riding and was better at riding. However, Arya’s tendency to not care about the way she dresses and run around “unladylike” was understandably seen as a concern, considering what is expected of a noble lady. We are, of course, on Arya’s side, as 21st century readers, but in Westeros, Ned and Cat fully expected Arya to one day marry a lord and live the life of a highborn lady, and didn’t see any other life and career, so to speak, for her: Ned thought that even while he was giving Arya a fencing instructor, thinking that this was just a hobby she would get over as she grows up. And, seeing that women cannot become maesters in Westeros unless they pretend to be men as Sarella, and that a woman trying to be a knight (even one like Brienne, physically much better equipped for that role than Arya) have an incredibly difficult time dealing with the society’s disapproval, Cat’s and Ned’s position is perfectly understandable.

      However, Septa Mordane was an atrocious teacher. Instead of praising both girls’ different talents while encouraging them to further develop others, she kept criticizing and humiliating Arya, creating rivalry and resentment between the girls, and alienating Arya. Arya’s refusal of things like dressing and acting at least somewhat as she’s expected (Arya does things like insult prince Joffrey – at the time when she didn’t even know anything about him other than that Jon said that he looked like a girl – right in front of his sister the princess; that may look cute to us, but is really embarrassing for her family and not an acceptable way to behave in her society), was probably a reaction to Mordane’s bullying.

      Now, Sansa was indeed very naive in some respects, and unprepared to deal with the “nest of vipers” in KL. But so was Arya. In normal circumstances, neither of them would have been expected to deal with political scheming at such a young age. And their father did not turn out to be very good at it himself, and showed a great deal of naivete as well, which is more surprising in an adult who’s been a Lord Paramount for years. Ned to blame a lot for Sansa’s lack of understanding of what was going on at the time: he didn’t tell Sansa anything about the political situation and his conflict with the queen, even when he did tell some of it to Arya, and he even got upset that Sansa was present in the throne room to hear him delivering judgment on Gregor Clegane for the raiding of Riverlands, thinking that this was not something for a girl to hear (and that’s the same man who took his 7-year old son to watch a beheading). This was on Ned, not on Cat, who was not in KL and not in the position to be giving Sansa insights on the current situation.

      In terms of naivete about how the world works, Arya’s naivete was just as shocking as Sansa’s. While Sansa believed in a fairytale-like idea that all highborn and beautiful people who act nice to you are geneuinely nice, Arya didn’t understand the basic reality of the class system, such as that you can’t hit a crown prince and expect things to go well just because you have justice on your side, or that it’s not a good idea to play swords with a lowborn boy, as you can get him into real trouble; and in any conflicts with the crown prince, he’s the one who is going to pay the price. Her lack of regarding for class distinction may look charming, but is a serious problem in a society like Westeros. On the other hand, Gendry is very aware why soclializing with highborns is not a good idea, and that it brings a lot of dangers to the lowborn person; Mycah and Tysha are testimonies to that.

      • Keith B says:

        It looks like Sansa has a fierce friend. But I was criticizing Catelyn, not Sansa. Because Sansa conformed to well to Catelyn’s expectations of what a lady should be, she probably failed to even see her daughter’s worst tendencies, let alone try to mitigate them.

        So I understated the extent of Sansa’s accomplishments. She knew heraldry, which was useful, and she could read and write, but as Bran said, she only liked the kissing books. Both of these were part of her penchant for seeing the world as a romantic fairy tale, with herself as the maiden fair. She needed something to counterbalance that, and she wasn’t getting it. That eventually led to horrific consequences for her.

        Septa Mordane was probably a perfectly adequate teacher. She did what she was hired to do. She’s not the problem.

        I don’t defend Ned Stark either. He made a number of inexcusable mistakes that gave his daughters and the rest of his family a world of grief. But I don’t want to detail his failings here.

        Arya knew perfectly well that you shouldn’t attack the crown prince. That’s why she ran. It was her bad luck that the bully in her case was the King’s son instead of three lowly squires. She had to defend her friend nonetheless. What’s right is right, regardless of the consequences.

        People like Arya because she’s courageous, intelligent, quick-witted, curious, adventurous, loyal, unpretentious, physically and emotionally resilient, and has a passion for justice. Those are fine qualities in any century, not just ours.

        • Yes, Arya is all those things. She’s one of my favorite characters. But she was also incredibly naive, no less naive than Sansa, about the way her society works. Protecting her friend was not a good idea when it was going to likely have bad consequences for said friend – as it did. Something Arya did not realize, used to Ned’s way of dealing with his servants and smallfolk. Like Sansa, she was completely unprepared for Mycah’s fate wasn’t even the subject of a trial – Cersei immediately gave orders to the Lannister men led by Sandor Clegane to find Arya and Mycah, and (unless one believes Sandor acted on his own, which is hard to believe), to kill Mycah on the spot. He was already dead while Robert, Cersei, Ned and others were deciding what happened and what the fate of the wolves would be. And aside from Arya and Ned, nobody even cared about what happened to Mycah- Robert certainly did not.

          According to Bran, Sansa liked “kissing” songs. But that was hardly the reason for her outlook on life. Said songs include stories, based on real events, about an unhappy queen in abusive, loveless marriage to an asshole king (Naerys, the subject of one of Sansa’s favorite songs about her and the Dragonknight defending her honor), or a bloody civil war in which twins die fighting each other because they are on opposite sides (Erryk and Arryk in Dance of the Dragons… I’m guessing that there wasn’t much kissing in that one), another song she loves is about a lowborn, homely man who starts as a fool and becomes a great knight and about his love for a beautiful highborn maiden (Florian and Jonquil). It’s hard to see how exactly the songs, many of which tell tragic stories, are to blame for her outlook on life in AGOT. It’s far more likely that her illusions were borne out of her desire to be a good girl and fulfill the role demanded of her, such as marry the prince she was arranged to marry and be the queen, and to simultaneously romanticize that role as much as possible and see a bright, romantic future for herself. Otherwise, it would be hard to explain why she thought Joffrey (the prince she was arranged to marry) was going to be her Dragonknight (knight of the Kingsguard/her brother who protected her and who may have been in love with her, but they were either in an adutlerous or in a platonic relationship, either way it was forbidden love, while the queen’s marriage was deeply unhappy, loveless and abusive). And Sansa would have been aware of that, since she mentions that it was said the Dragonknight cried when Naerys married his brother. It’s not hard to see that Joffrey would rather fit the Aegon role in that scenario, even before one found out his true character.

          Septa Mordane was a terrible teacher. She kept alienating, criticizing and humiliating Arya, making her feel bad about herself, and fostering rivalry and resentment between Arya and Sansa. Cat’s and Ned’s major failing is that this is who they hired.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            “Septa Mordane was a terrible teacher. She kept alienating, criticizing and humiliating Arya, making her feel bad about herself, and fostering rivalry and resentment between Arya and Sansa. Cat’s and Ned’s major failing is that this is who they hired.”

            On this, you are completely correct. Septa Mordane was a stain on the Stark household. I can’t think of any other Septa that produced this. Brienne’s Septa Roelle was abusive in her own way, but at least she made damn sure that Brienne saw the true matter of things and didn’t believe life was a song.

          • Andrew says:

            Septa Mordane commented on Sansa’s needlework saying “Sansa’s work is as pretty as she is. She has such fine, delicate hands.” When she comments on Arya, she says “Arya has the hands of a blacksmith.” Basically, she compares Sansa’s work to her personal appearance, and so by saying Arya has the hands of a blacksmith she makes implications about her physical appearance. That is a callous, insensitive thing to say.

            Syrio was a better teacher than Mordane, for one, he managed to notice on the first day that Arya was left-handed. Septa Mordane had been Arya’s teacher for a decade, and hadn’t noticed that. That is the reason why Arya’s stitches are always crooked; if Mordane had paid more attention, she would have noticed this and merely had Arya switch roles for her hands in needlework.

          • I don’t know if Westeros has the whole sinister/dexter thing, but Mordane might have been ordering her to do it right-handed b/c that’s the way ladies should do it.

        • Also, Bran dreamed of being a knight, so the songs he was listening to were likely the same as those Sansa was listening to: songs about knights and chivalry. Every song Sansa ever mentions is about knights and chivalry – about Dragonknight, Erryk and Arryk in Dance of the Dragons, Florian and Jonquil…

          He also liked horror stories Old Nan liked to tell, which may have served him well once he went beyond the Wall. But they wouldn’t have been worth a damn in terms of preparing anyone for politics, especially in King’s Landing, so I’m really not sure how exactly any of Bran’s favorite songs would have helped Sansa in KL.

          Actually, paying more attention to HER favorite songs (like the above mentioned songs about Naerys and Dragonknight) and the people they were about, could have perhaps helped her understand a few things, such as that being a queen may not necessarily be such a good thing, and that a prince you marry may be an abusive asshole. Why did this never occur to her? Maybe because she didn’t want to know or think about such a possibility. Sansa has always been good at closing her eyes to the parts of reality that were ugly and uncomfortable, and substituting a reality of her own. Once her infatuation with Joffrey and her future life in KL properly developed, she was ready to defy her father for it. But at first, she was going to marry Joffrey whether she liked it or not – in fact, Ned never broke the engagement that Robert had devised, not after the incident at the Trident when he found out what Joffrey was like (he somehow expected Sansa to go and publicly humiliate/accuse her future husband of being a liar, and then still go on and marry him, becoming his legal property who owes obedience to him…), not when he was attacked by Jaime; he only first decided to break it off months later when he got upset with Robert over the Dany assassination. Plus, Sansa has been brought up by Septa Mordane, who was telling her things like “All men are beautiful”, preparing her to accept and submit a future arranged marriage to anyone, no matter if he were ugly – or a terrible person. With Sansa’s character and tendency to put on rose-colored glasses and see the “glass half full”, and even whitewash parts of reality that would otherwise be very bothersome, it’s not surprise that she managed to convince herself that Joffrey and Cersei were oh so wonderful.

          • Keith B says:

            “Sansa has always been good at closing her eyes to the parts of reality that were ugly and uncomfortable, and substituting a reality of her own.”

            Indeed. That was the tendency that her mother apparently did nothing to discourage. It’s not really a question of being naive (at ages 11 and 9) but of refusing to recognize reality when it hits you on the head.

            You don’t actually seem to be disagreeing with me about much except Septa Mordane, so I’ll leave it at that.

      • blacky says:

        Great comment! Thanks for pointing out how hard it is to remove the blinders of our modern programming and understand the social milieu of Westeros society.

        • blacky says:

          above comment was directed toward timetravellingbunny says:
          December 3, 2015 at 8:15 am.

          It was moved by magic to wrong spot.

  26. somethinglikealawyer says:

    Damnit man, why do you keep pre-empting my points in my soon-to-be-released Aerys II essay. You are truly the prince of crime.

    Awesome piece on the feudal order, the madness of Aerys, and hopefully given some knee-jerk Catelyn hate some pause. Fine work.

  27. Ser Biffy Clegane says:

    Great analysis. I think no matter how much he’s humanized, Jaime will ultimately have to answer both for Bran and fit the Stark retainers he murdered to make a point to Ned. Book One Jaime is willing to kill almost anyone for any reason, up there with Clegane and Lorch. Even in the later books, his newfound honor sometimes seems equally to be a nihilists whim.

    I know you’re a ways away, but I just watched the Jaime Brienne capture on the show and I can’t believe they left out Jaime’s advice to “just go away inside.”. Much more than his thoughts about Dayne and the Smiling Knight, I think that line is the core of his character.

  28. Mitch says:

    Steven, I’m not following your analysis of Jamie’s line: “I am loved by one for a kindness I never did, and reviled by so many for my finest act.”

    You seemed to imply in your analysis that the finest act was throwing Bran out of a window, but I’m almost positive he’s hinting (which we don’t fully learn until ASOS) that he considers killing The Mad King to save Kings Landing to be the finest act, for which he is now scorned.

    As to the kindness he never did, I always took that to mean Tyrion mistakenly believing that Jamie had hired Tysha for him. Even though things turned out sourly at the end, Tyrion remembers Jaime’s good intentions and loves him for the kindness—good will which is undone in ASOS when Jamie comes clean.

    • That’s not what I was implying. I was saying more that Jaime is somewhat posturing by saying that people hate him because of this good anti-hero thing he did, when there’s this other much more obvious reason.

      • Mitch says:

        Apologies for my lack of reading comprehension!

      • I can’t agree that it’s “posturing”. People in Westeros don’t hate Jaime because he pushed Bran out of the window, because 99.9999999999999% of people in Westeros has no idea about that. It’s why Catelyn hates him, but it’s not why the reason for the widespread hatred/contempt/bad reputation he’s had. It’s not even the incest – that story has spread throughout Westeros just a couple of years ago.

        No, Jaime is actually right – he’s had a bad reputation for many years, and it’s because of him killing Aerys. Ned, for instance, despised him much before he learned about the incest or before Bran was pushed. After all, Jaime has been called “Kingslayer” for many years, and not in complimentary way; he’s called Kingslayer even now, rather than, say, “Sisterfucker”.

  29. […] just like Sansa. (There’s a reason Sandor got his face burned for playing with a toy knight.) Just like his fellow Kingsguard Jaime, Sandor sees himself as a truth-teller, who sees past the illusion of […]

  30. […] is a man who is profoundly arrogant, selfish, and self-absorbed. We could already tell this from Catelyn VII of ACOK, but when you can see what he’s thinking, it’s even […]

  31. […] for example, the running theme in Catelyn I of Catelyn Stark insisting on owning her crime. Catelyn releasing Jaime is a hugely consequential action (easily on par with her arrest of […]

  32. […] each book.  Currently, he’s on A Storm of Swords, but I only just finished his examination of Catelyn VII in A Clash of Kings.  In the analysis he speaks of how Lady Stark’s story (and many others) […]

  33. […] with Walder Frey, because the plan wouldn’t work without both halves. We also know from Catelyn VII of ACOK that Robb took the Crag  shortly before the Battle of Blackwater, but it’s […]

  34. […] One at least.” And one is all I need to put the wench behind me.” – which (given his oath to Catelyn Stark) rather undercuts his pretense that he’s actually an honorable guy and it’s the world […]

  35. […] inactivity, a means to get back into the political world that she’s been exiled from since the end of ACOK. It might not be the most admirable reaction, but it’s a deeply human one: GRRM has spoken […]

  36. […] to the leadership of a given organization – by joining the BwB, Lem, Tom, and the others have alienated part of their right to make decisions or promises, a difficult concept for any child to grasp but even more so because Arya has been outside of […]

  37. […] later. We start right away with a ghastly scene of murdered children, harkening back both to the supposed deaths of Bran and Rick in ACOK but also in many ways presaging the Red […]

  38. […] Catelyn’s involvement in Jaime’s release makes all of the built-up shame intensely personal – the figure who represents safety more than anyone else in the world, the one she so desperately wants to get back to that she’s willing forswear herself and run away to join up with marauding Karstarks, is the one responsible for the Karstarks’ marauding in the first place. Her mother, the oldest remaining member of House Stark, has betrayed House Stark (unbeknownst to Arya, to rescue her, which would only make matters worse had she known). This reaction is critical for understanding Arya’s behavior later in the chapter. […]

  39. […] to deal with being considered an “oathbreaker, liar, murderer” with a self-image as a fearless truth-teller who sees past the false ideals he had once believed in. However, this misanthropic stance required […]

  40. […] particular domino hits Catelyn the hardest, because throughout the chapter (as indeed she has done since she let Jaime go) all of her hopes and fears have been bound up in the proposed prisoner exchange of Sansa and Arya […]

  41. […] Sansa has to be disinherited. In order to do that, and In the absence of a direct male heir (since they both believe Bran and Rickon to be dead), Catelyn instead turns to the collateral relations for an […]

  42. artistborn says:

    It’s easy enough to agree that Caitlyn’s action here doesn’t lead to the Red Wedding, but it’s vanishingly hard to find sympathy for releasing Jamie. You could point to a “maddened by grief” defense, but that takes away from Caitlyn’s own professed agency in her next chapter in ASOS.

    It’s also such a strange action because it is at once so thoughtless and so thoughtful. But, well, I didn’t write the stories.

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