Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Sansa IV, ASOS

They have made me a Lannister, Sansa thought bitterly.

Synopsis: Sansa and Tyrion attend Joffrey’s wedding breakfast and everything goes smoothly.

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.

109 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Sansa IV, ASOS

  1. Ciaran Fullerton says:

    1. I think Joffrey’s attempt on Bran is kind of reminiscent of Littlefinger’s lie about the dagger, in that it is pretty, arrogant and reckless. Cersei tells Sansa that Joffrey beats her because Sansa was present when Arya humiliated him, by the same logic I think, beyond what Robert said, Joffrey wanted to kill Bran because Tyrion slapped him, nearly to the point of tears, when he wouldn’t pay his respects. He couldn’t take revenge on Arya/Tyrion for hitting him so he punishes anyone remotely connected. Likewise, as Tyrion later thinks, Joffrey thought his assassination was the height of cunning, fuelling his ego. His boast about Valyrian steel was his version of openly wearing the dagger, an admission of guilt, but more importantly a statement of how clever he was, that no one had the wit to understand, hence his hurt reaction to finding out Tyrion saw right through him.

    2. I really do admire how Joffrey takes the time to make his killers more comfortable. The Tyrells plan to kill him because he would make a poor husband and, just to reassure them that they should, at his own wedding, in front of his future in-laws no less, he decides to single out his uncle’s wife and former betrothed and promises to rape and impregnate her after he has impregnated Margaery. That is a level of consideration Westeros will never see again.

    3. Just wondering what your plan is for the pictures for each analysis for Victarion, Quentyn, Brienne in the Riverlands or really anything the show has nothing vaguely similar to compare with.

    • BCharles says:

      Good point about making his killers more comfortable. It’s as if he’s going out of his way to remove any sense of guilt or hesitancy from the Tyrells in their plans to murder him.

      • Wadege says:

        I would also argue this is for the reader’s benefit as well, to emphasise that grandma Tyrell is acting in defence of her granddaughter, not necessarily for political benifit.

        • Well, it’s still for political benefit (a pliant Tommen is better for the Tyrells than an unstable tyrant like Joffrey), but it definitely demonstrates that the threat to Margaery’s wellbeing is quite real.

    • lia says:

      at least Joff’s actions had a purpose. it’s baffling how little attention Jaime’s actions after failing to kill Bran get. his plan was… hoping Bran never woke up/lost his memory? otherwise it would be war against the Starks and his twincest exposed.
      i hate to say it but Joffrey is the one acting mature here -unbeknownst to him-. there’s two reasonable options after the murder attempt: fleeing or finishing the job. Jaime chooses the act like nothing happened route. and before Jaime stans come to justify him, note that even Cersei is willing to hop on the hope nothing bad happens train, which is very unCersei-like.
      OTOH, Baelish’s lie is recklessly dumb because not only does it potentially expose him as a liar but also it doesn’t serve any purpouse. the truth that the dagger was Robert’s doesn’t incriminate the Lannisters any less since they evidently are the ones who are most likely to have access to Robert’s possessions. lying about that has very little upside and an enormous downside in being exposed, which happens at least thrice, once for Ned and twice for Cat. honestly it only works if LF has been made privy to GRRM planning to have Cat and Tyrion meet at the Crossroads Inn… oh.

      • To be fair, the odds of Bran never waking up from a coma were pretty high given the nature of the available medical care.

        I actually think inaction is perfectly Cersei-like; it was what she did with Jon Arryn, after all.

        However, I agree that Baelish’s lie is reckless.

    • 1. That’s an interesting hypothesis for why Joffrey attempted assassination on the boy, although with the inclusion of the choice of weapon, I lean a little bit closer on the attempting to carry out what he thought were his father’s wishes with his father’s dagger as prompting this murder as opposed to any murder. I do agree that in general Joffrey derives an enormous sense of power from killing.

      2. It is true that GRRM really makes Joffrey the apex of repugnance just before he dies, to make the reader feel that he needs to be killed out of sheer karmic justice. No doubt it did make the Tyrells feel that they’d definitely been given the right impression about Joffrey.

      3. That’s a tough one. I may have to go more impressionistic, less figurative with my illustrative choices.

    • teageegeepea says:

      Joffrey’s claim about being familiar with Valyrian steel isn’t any sort of confession, because it’s a famous material that highborns would have heard about, Robert received such things as gifts, and Joffrey would have been trained by an expert in weapons with access to the best equipment. Additionally, if we was familiar with it enough to recognize how unique that dagger was, it would make less sense for him to choose it to give to the catspaw.

      Preston Jacobs’ own theories about what might turn out to be canon are crazy, but he’s right about how incoherent the case is for Joffrey sending the catspaw. Jaime not being behind it because he does his own killing is a retcon from the first book, where he sent men to attack Ned Stark’s men in the street without taking part himself. The show had him fight Ned because it could draw on the Jaime of later books. I don’t think GRRM planned from the beginning for Joffrey to be behind it, but decided on that later and added it here to wrap up that plotline in Joffrey’s last book.

  2. Sean C. says:

    The whole sequence with Kaeth’s text is a good example of GRRM going for an on-the-nose visual at the expense of character, because it hinges on the idea that Tyrion would ever think that Joffrey would appreciate or want a rare book. And obviously he knows better.

    • Jim B says:

      Oh, I don’t know about that. I think it would have been out-of-character for Tyrion to particularly care if Joffrey would appreciate the book. Giving Joffrey a rare and expensive book seems like exactly the sort of thing he would do — he knows Joffrey won’t be pleased and may even perceive that it’s a sly insult, but it’s objectively a fine gift that the rest of the court won’t fault him for.

      I’m trying to think of an example of Tyrion genuinely trying to ingratiate himself with anyone through personal kindness or flattery. He’s basically a surly teenager who can’t resist being caustic even with people who hold power over him. In his last chapter we see how contemptuously he treats Varys, with whom he has at least a working relationship, and whose help he needs to continue his trysts with Shae. His go-to move for trying to get something from anyone else is to offer (or dangle the possibility of) Lannister wealth and/or influence, which is why he’s fallen in love with a prostitute and his best “friend” is a sellsword whose allegiance he’s paying for with gold and titles.

      • Sean C. says:

        Tyrion is a bibliophile. I don’t believe he would give Joffrey the book because he would keep it for himself. Indeed, he mopes afterward about Joffrey destroying it, even though that was completely predictable.

        • Jim B says:

          I suppose it was predictable in the sense that one can fault Tyrion for not anticipating it, but I don’t know that it was so predictable that it’s bad writing or out of character for Tyrion to make that mistake.

          It seems conceivable to me that Tyrion figured the worst outcome that was likely to happen is that Joffrey would be an ungracious jerk, and that after the party some servant would put it on some shelf somewhere in the royal library, ignored and forgotten by Joff but safe (and possibly even available for Tyrion to peruse). After all, that’s almost what happens — it’s only when Tywin presents his gift that Joffrey gets all hot and bothered and needs to destroy something at a time when the book is still within sword’s reach for him.

    • I don’t think Tyrion is the kind of person who would give Joffrey a gift he thought he would like. Tyrion was giving the gift as a kind of a really nerdy put-down – you’d better learn to be a better king, because right now you’re acting like the bad kings in this book.

  3. jedimaesteryoda says:

    Not much to add on my part

    1. They look like two huge castles afloat in the morning sky. Sansa could see their walls of tumbled stone, their mighty keeps and barbicans. Wispy banners swirled from atop their towers and reached for the fast-fading stars. The sun was coming up behind them, and she watched them go from black to grey to a thousand shades of rose and gold and crimson. Soon the wind mushed them together, and there was only one castle where there had been two.

    She heard the door open as her maids brought the hot water for her bath. They were both new to her service; Tyrion said the women who’d tended to her previously had all been Cersei’s spies, just as Sansa had always suspected. “Come see,” she told them. “There’s a castle in the sky.”

    “It’s made of gold.” Shae had short dark hair and bold eyes. She did all that was asked of her, but sometimes she gave Sansa the most insolent looks. “A castle all of gold, there’s a sight I’d like to see.”

    “A castle, is it?” Brella had to squint. “That tower’s tumbling over, looks like. It’s all ruins, that is.

    The castle serves as a subtle symbol of the Lannister-Tyrell alliance with the two castles colored gold and crimson (Lannister colors) and rose (Tyrell sigil) into one as the sun came up behind them (made glorious by this sun of York). It also serves as a kind of inkblot where Sansa the former romantic who wants nothing more than to escape sees a beautiful castle high in the sky, Shae sees a golden castle as she is someone looking to climb her way up through the ranks and into the nobility. Brella, who ran Renly’s household and knew of the true extent of his relationship with Loras, never harboring any illusions, sees only a castle in ruins.

    Of course, the castle is in ruins foreshadowing the fate of the Lannister-Tyrell alliance as well with the tumbling tower being potentially Cersei burning down the Hand’s tower.

    2. However, she’d soon come to realize that Pod was as frightened of her as she was of his cousin. Whenever she spoke to him, he turned the most alarming shade of red.

    “Are purple, gold, and white the colors of House Payne, Podrick?” she asked him politely.

    “No. I mean, yes.” He blushed. “The colors. Our arms are purple and white chequy, my lady. With gold coins. In the checks. Purple and white. Both.” He studied her feet.

    “There’s a tale behind those coins,” said Tyrion. “No doubt Pod will confide it to your toes one day. Just now we are expected at the Queen’s Ballroom, however. Shall we?”

    *Snickers* Pod is every boy when forced to interact with his crush: overthinking every sentence, talking fast and trouble looking her in the eye.

    • 1. The two castles representing the Lannisters and Tyrells is an interesting idea. Hadn’t thought of that.

      2. To be fair, Pod speaks like that when he has to interact with Tyrion too. He’s just a very bashful, uncertain young man.

  4. BCharles says:

    1. I think it’s interesting in this chapter that Tywin shows himself to be just as prone to putting Lannister pride above common sense as Cersei. As you note, the sword screams “Lannister” in every possible way, and Tywin also doesn’t object to using a Lannister cloak for the wedding ceremony. Interestingly, Cersei relents and has Tommen use a Baratheon cloak at Olenna’s insistence during his ceremony, indicating that Tywin’s presence the first time may actually be what lets Cersei get away with it. Another reminder that Tywin isn’t the purely pragmatic political genius a lot of people think he is.

    2. The whole issue of the dagger just baffles me. As you say, it really doesn’t matter at all to the plot at this point, if Joffrey was the one who sent the cats paw. The question is whether it was really him. And if so, whether he acted alone. The show ultimately says Littlefinger sent it (or at least Sansa so accuses him at his “trial”), and while a lot of fans dismiss the show as non-canon there (and in a lot of other places), I wonder if it will ultimately be revealed that Littlefinger had something to do with it, the same way fans think he convinced Joffrey to behead Ned Stark (his quip about having to splash water in Joff’s face being a clue as to his persuasiveness with the king). The big problem there, of course, is that Littlefinger was in King’s Landing when the catspaw was sent, so he wouldn’t have been able to influence Joffrey. If this theory isn’t true, I really have trouble understanding the point of this whole plot thread at all.

    • BCharles says:

      To clarify, I do understand the significance of the dagger and the catspaw in a Doylist sense: it was what got Catelyn to leave Winterfell for King’s Landing. But the thread is picked up so many times after that that it indicates either (A) there is some sort of Watsonian plot significance or (B) Martin was just wasting his time and ours on further exploring the thread. Maybe he originally intended it to go somewhere but then lost interest or couldn’t figure out how to resolve it, as happened with many plot threads on the show. But GRRM isn’t D&D, so I remain somewhat baffled by the whole thing.

      • Ciaran Fullerton says:

        I always got the impression that it was an indication of how random the start of a war can be and how unconnected it can be to later events.
        Littlefinger can be considered the mastermind of the war, but he was only able to start it by causing Tyrion’s arrest, gaining Ned’s trust and creating a conflict between the Starks and the Lannisters, none of which was possible without a random event he had nothing to do with and will probably never know the answer to.
        The Starks went to war in part because they wanted to know who tried to kill Bran. By the time the mystery is figured out Robb, Ned and Catelyn are dead, Bran is presumed dead and no one knows about the dagger cares and anyone who would care doesn’t know.
        Likewise Tyrion got arrested and Tywin went to war as a result of this dagger. When Tyrion finds out who was responsible, he discovers it too late to make a difference even if it wasn’t the one person who can’t be punished and who is already about to die. While Tywin, despite being willing to go to war over Tyrion’s arrest, will die never knowing what Tyion was arrested for or whether or not he was guilty.
        Meanwhile Joffrey, the actual perpetrator, will never be punished for this act, never be publicly acknowledged as the guilty party and never become aware of how much damage he caused.
        That a war, on a scale never seen since the dragons died, was caused by such a random, pointless and ultimately forgotten event committed by an unnamed catspaw, who chose to keep his word rather than simply escape with money and dagger, highlights just how bizarre and nonsensical the conflict truly is.

        • BCharles says:

          Eh, I feel like Martin could have made that point in a less awkward and more satisfying manner. Another commenter on here pointed out that it doesn’t make sense on all sorts of more minute details as well, such as voluntarily handing over Valyrian steel to a random peasant, that peasant diligently waiting for weeks when he just could’ve run away with the money, etc. The motive was barely existent, though I guess that could reasonably be an indicator of how casually Joffrey commits murder and acts of cruelty. I think either there is a big reveal at some point, probably involving Littlefinger, or else this was just an example of bad writing.

        • Don’t forget he also murdered Jon Arryn and pinned the blame on it on the Lannisters, a not unimportant part of what started hostilities between the Starks and Lannisters.

        • teageegeepea says:

          LF had Lysa send the letter accusing the Lannisters of killing Jon Arryn before those random events. I agree though on how bizarre it is that the catspaw didn’t just run away with the money & invaluable dagger.

    • 1. Yes, it’s a good point. Cersei gets her Lannister supremacism from dear old dad, and that’s no mistake.

      2. I think it’s GRRM trying to wrap up the plot point before the Purple Wedding. After all, it really doesn’t matter to the plot if we find out Joffrey sent the dagger after Joffrey’s death. At least for a bit, Joffrey’s motivations and actions are still relevant information.

      I think the LF involvement is a pure misinterpretation on D&D’s part, to be honest, and I think it gums up the discourse on this point.

      • BCharles says:

        Yeah, after the back and forth here I think I’m convinced as well that LF had nothing to do with it. The revelation that it was Joffrey still seems very “meh” to me, but I guess some revelations have to be mundane.

      • BCharles says:

        The closest thing to a psychic vampire who can see everything going on is Bloodraven, so I’m going to start an ASOIAF Reddit thread about how Bloodraven skin changed the catspaw to pretend to try to assassinate Bran.


        • BCharles says:

          Sorry, meant to post this on your “psychic vampire” reply below.

        • Mårten Fjällström says:

          That is to simple. If I learned anythign from the show it is that Bran can create changes in the past, so clearly Bran travelled back in time and skin changed the catspaw in order to create himself in the future. Also, all other mysteries can be explained by time-traveling Bran.

          Summerhall? Time-traveling Bran with wildfire.

          Valyria? Time-traveling Bran with a nuke (he first traveled forwards and got one from the Braavosi Moonpoolian project).

          How can Howard Reed show up everywhere a short man is needed? Time-traveling Bran gives him a lift.

      • Kandrax says:

        What you think about Mance send Catspaw theory?

      • teageegeepea says:

        I don’t think it’s misintrepretation so much as them writing their own version. GRRM wrote a script for The Lion & the Rose that included those bits pointing toward Joffrey. D&D ignored that, presumably because Tyrion’s thoughts on the page don’t translate as well on the screen. Then they had that as a leftover plot thread they chose to wrap up when LF was killed (akin to how GRRM pinned the crime on Joffrey shortly before he was killed).

    • Rake says:

      I think Tywin always wanted to put the Lannisters at the top, and now that he’s done it he doesn’t see the need for pretense anymore, and being fair that other than Stannis really cared about Joffrey’s true birth throughout the war, the Tyrells don’t. it matters because Margaery will be queen, the Arryns, the Greyjoys, the Freys and the Boltons don’t care, the Martells don’t seem to care either (they have their own ulterior motives but that doesn’t change the fact that they have allied with the Lannisters officially) , even Robb and the Tullys didn’t care when they were major political actors, now that the enemies are defeated and the allies don’t care Tywin no longer has to pretend the Baratheons are still in charge.

  5. The section with the castles floating in the sky intrigues me. It seems strange that GRRM allows the characters to indulge in cloud pareidolia at such a crucial point of the plot, unless it holds some deeper meaning.

    My first thought was that it might foreshadow the downfall of House Frey – “two huge castles afloat in the morning sky… soon the wind mushed them together”, but I don’t see the relevance of this on the morning of the Purple Wedding.

    Instead, I think it is about the unison of Houses Lannister & Tyrell (“there was only one castle where there had been two”) given that the colours Sansa describes (“a thousand shades of rose and gold and crimson”) are the flower of the Tyrell sigil and those of House Lannister.

    The resultant castle is like Casterly Rock, sitting on its gold deposits. Shae describes it as “a castle all of gold, there’s a sight I’d like to see.” However, Brella notes that it is now in a poor state of repair: “tower’s tumbling over, looks like. It’s all ruins, that is.” This perhaps foreshadows how the Purple Wedding will lead to the decline of House Lannister, beginning with Joffrey’s death.

    Just as she gets too close to the Lannisters, distracted by their wealth, and pays with her life, Shae fails to notice the poor state of the floating castle.

    • I think it’s more a character detail – Sansa is indulging in fantasy to escape her reality. It’s also a nice thematic contrast from the ugliness of the breakfast, all that light airy pareidolia.

  6. Tywin of the Hill says:

    I’ve heard from many readers that the Catspaw is one of George RR Martin’s biggest blunders as a writer.
    -Joffrey had no reason to murder Bran until we’re told post-mortem.
    -He found a random peasant and hired him to kill the son of a lord, giving him the only knife of his father made of Valyrian steel.
    -The assassin had stayed for weeks after Joffrey left and went through with the attempt, when any normal person would have taken the money and run.
    As a guy in Reddit once said “It’s almost like Martin tried to create a red herring for the Lannisters, then reveal LF was behind it, but he realised late that making Baelish responsible for 3 important political murders was too much, so he had to course-correct quickly because his new culprit was about to die”.

    • BCharles says:

      Yeah, if Joffrey really is responsible it really makes no sense other than as a super flimsy McGuffin to get Catelyn to go to King’s Landing. It does play into Littlefinger’s plan rather well, and the show does conclude that he was responsible, but Joffrey’s response in this chapter sort of confirms he did it. And as I note in my comment above, Littlefinger’s absence at Winterfell makes it unlikely he could’ve put Joffrey up to it.

      • I think if we aren’t very careful to assume that LF has to be present either through himself or through an agent, we run the risk of allowing him to influence events anywhere from anywhere like some sort of psychic vampire.

        • teageegeepea says:

          He did have an agent at Winterfell to place the secret message from Lysa in Maester Luewin’s observatory while he was napping. We don’t know if that agent stuck around though.

          • A messenger only, not someone capable of manipulating Joffrey.

          • teageegeepea says:

            Probably not, although if the agent wanted to cause conflict via an assassination attempt on Bran it wouldn’t really be necessary to go through Joffrey. The plan was not for him to get caught with the dagger, after all. It would require a lot of autonomy for the agent to take such a step based on LF giving him that high-level goal, rather than communicating with LF about Bran’s fall and then receiving a specific order, and long-range communication depends on ravens sent to maesters rather than something a catspaw could easily access.

    • Grant says:

      Assuming that this means the original twist would be Baelish arming someone and sending them to Winterfell as part of an effort to make the Starks further against the Lannisters (and not reacting to Bran’s fall after the fact), it has stumbling points.

      Lysa’s letter would be more than enough. Baelish knows that Cersei and Jaime had ample reason to want Jon Arryn dead, he knows there is at least enough crumbs of evidence (and he can always pretend there are more) to convince Ned it was them.

      Sending the agent runs the very real risk that the agent would be captured instead of killed, he had no way to know that the wolf would be there to stop the murder instead of guards hunting the murderer down a day later. And someone willing to murder an important noble has to be hired by someone with an awful lot of money to convince them it’s worth the risk. Of course Baelish might have been pretending to be acting on behalf of the Lannisters, but that still is something that will have to lead back to him in some way.

      And this has to be something that would be planned from before Robert went north, there’s simply no way Baelish would have gotten news of Bran’s fall and sent a message to his agent in Robert’s procession (plus the weapon). So the original plan would have been his agent trying to murder an able-bodied person, even a child, who might have servants on hand and be able to run and shout for help (leading to the previous problem of the risk of capture).

      Now it’s true Baelish does take unneeded risks, we see this with his story to Ned and Catelyn. But at least that was a calculated risk with Varys. The agent would have been redundant with the letter, and could have actually set back his plans.

      • BCharles says:

        All good points. I’m not married to the notion that Littlefinger was behind it, and there’s ample reasoning as to why he isn’t. But the same goes for Joffrey having done it all himself. I think ultimately this may have just been an ill thought out plot point on Martin’s part. I do think it’s interesting though that the show explicitly blames Littlefinger just before his death, which hints that Martin may have told D&D the true twist. But it could also be that even D&D thought Joffrey sending the catspaw was bad writing and wanted to resolve it some other way. Of course, their being D&D, their explanation doesn’t cut it either, for the reasons you mention above.

        • Grant says:

          D&D did keep in Robert grumbling that it’d be a mercy to kill Bran, so I don’t think they knew where they wanted to go with it in early seasons.

          I have to admit that there is something we should remember about all this; the great changes to the text. We shouldn’t attribute everything to it, Martin clearly rethought a lot, but it is worth remembering that we might be looking at something originally meant for different characters and/or circumstances.

          • lluewhyn says:

            But the conversation never was in a POV chapter in the books. It it simply related after the fact two books later when Tyrion and Jaime start talking about “Remember when Robert said the boy should die?”. It could have logically been put into Tyrion I, but Robert is specifically mentioned as being with the Starks instead of with his family at breakfast.

            It sounds like D&D were originally going to go with the Joffrey plot and give it more seeding than the books, but changed their minds.

      • Sean C. says:

        The biggest argument against Littlefinger having had anything to do with it is that if he had been setting all this up in advance he would have arranged for a murder weapon that he didn’t need to lie about in order to link it to the Lannisters.

      • I agree. It doesn’t fit for LF to have attempted the assassination.

        Because of the nature of Bran’s fall, it really had to be someone at Winterfell who ordered the killing.

    • GRRM isn’t that sloppy a writer to have intended LF and then swerved away from that. He plays more fair than that.

      • teageegeepea says:

        Having Joffrey revealed as the actual employer of the catspaw seems rather sloppy, since there really isn’t setup for it and he had no motivation. More plausible is that Jaime/Cersei were originally behind it, but this got changed as Jaime got less villainous (he’s very different in the pitch letter & first book) for very different arc.

        • I don’t think that’s how GRRM works; he’s spoken very explicitly about not switching the culprit for a murder from the originally intended murderer.

          • teageegeepea says:

            He’s talked about not doing that because people guess the culprit. But I think this is his example of his “gardening” style changing his original plans for characters, which is plainly the case based on the pitch letter.

    • Carlton says:


      What if the answer was stating us in the face the whole time? Robert ordered it done when he was in his cups, because it was “a mercy” and likely forgot about it afterward. The catspaw goes along with it rather than cravening out because it’s literally the king giving the order. And the Valyrian Steel is used because Robert wants a clean death for Bran so (again, very drunkenly) he carelessly gifts the catspaw with the sharpest blade he’s got, a relatively unadorned warrior’s weapon. Maybe someone like Mandon Moore helps facilitate the plot, such as procuring Robert a footpad upon request, telling him how to start a fire as distraction, etc.

      Robert is not, as we learn with Dany, too honorable to do this, especially since he considers it more merciful to all involved. Martin lays out his motives, means, and opportunity all in the open for the reader, but then twice gives us the red herring of Joffrey. This also solves the annoying solution whereby Joffrey is revealed as behind the attempt on Tyrion and Bran, which is less interesting.

  7. Sampson says:

    1. “From Jalabhar Xho, Joffrey received a great bow of golden wood and quiver of long arrows fletched with green and scarlet feathers”

    He’s a “well born beggar” how does he afford these things; something he took with him from exile?

    2. “ The king leafed through it with no interest. “And what is this, Uncle?”

    A book. Sansa wondered if Joffrey moved those fat wormy lips of his when he read.

    Lol, Martin has some genuinely funny lines

    • jedimaesteryoda says:

      1. I’m guessing he took some of his riches with him when he went into exile and/or he gets some support from noble relatives who still live in the Summer Isles.

    • 1. I think it was something he brought with him from the Summer Isles where those bows are a lot more common.

      2. Yeah, I do like it when Sansa gets to think how much she hates Joffrey.

    • Brett says:

      1. He might have been granted an income from Robert in addition to allowing him to remain a guest at his table, or he has supporters in King’s Landing from among the Summer Islander trading community (realistically there’s probably a small group of Summer Islander families living in KL acting as trade liasons with merchants from the Summer Islands).

      • Yeah, that’s possible.

        • Brett says:

          That makes me wonder what his marriage prospects would be among the Westerosi. He’s not bringing any lands to the table, but he does possibly have some income and connections to both the royal court and the Summer Islands trading community, and he is of noble birth. Would any Minor House offer him a second daughter or something like that?

    • Daniel Dunbring says:

      Considering that Jalabhar Xho was a runner up in the “Hand´s” Tournament and the winner got 10.000 dragons, Jalabhar Xho was likely given something like 2-5.000 for his 2nd-3rd place. That should be something equivalent to like a couple of millions US dollar.

      Add kickbacks, royal favors and representation and I have no problem seeing a skilled archer with noble blood give extravagant gifts, especially within his sphere of connections and culture.

      He is a beggar because he lacks land and kingdom and need outside forces to do him a solid, not a beggar as in “no money”.

  8. Grant says:

    At first I thought Joffrey was behind Moore, if only because I don’t think Cersei is quite THAT shortsighted, but since then I’d say the theory of Moore as a corporate psycho seems at least as viable.

    From a meta perspective, I wonder if Bran’s attempted murder was, along with his inability to remember Jaime’s attempt, ultimately supposed to reveal more at some important time. Alternatively, Joffrey’s attempt could just be Martin saying “sometimes big things are caused not because there was a brilliant mind scheming and conspiring, but because someone actually wasn’t one and did it for some stupid petty reason”.

    • I don’t buy the corporate psycho argument, I think Moore acts because someone told him to.

      I think Joffrey’s attempt does come close to Martin saying that momentous things that seem to be full of dark purpose can be, in actuality, quasi-random events.

      • teageegeepea says:

        The circumstances under which Moore attempted to kill Tyrion couldn’t really have been anticipated in advance. And nobody reacts to Moore’s failure to kill Tyrion. To me, that leans in favor of Moore doing it on his own initiative and Tyrion just failing to understand how he ticked Moore off that much. But then I also think Joffrey being behind the catspaw makes no sense, even if GRRM disagrees!

        • It doesn’t need to be anticipated: “If you get an opportunity…”

          And in all other aspects, Moore only acts out of duty to the king.

          • teageegeepea says:

            A rather vague hope if they don’t know Tyrion is going to be taking Sandor’s place. Otherwise the expectation would be that any such attempt would be visible and not have the cover of combat going on directly around it.

            While thought of as motiveless and just following orders, Mandon is capable of making his own decisions. He’s not ordered to abandon Sansa during the riot, he just does it and gets praised for it. When he hears that Bronn killed Vardis Egan, he relents and lets Tyrion pass. That’s not duty to the king, that’s Moore choosing not to fight someone whose capabilities he’s now aware of (admittedly not such a big deal since Tyrion did have a letter from Tywin that should have granted him access in the first place). It’s on his own initiative that he upbraids Sandor for refusing an order. He’s not really doing anything more likely to get Tyrion killed (it’s not his suggestion that Tyrion lead the sortie) right up until he offers his hand at a moment when Tyrion was more vulnerable than he could have anticipated in advance.

    • godot123 says:

      I think it was Joffrey because the only motive we get about Mandon Moore is that he obeys his king. Also it is a similarly half-assed attempt as the Bran plot.

      I don’t think it was Cersei because: A. Tyrion finds no proof that she did it and she her plots are always poorly planned enough for proof to be available, and B. When we get her POV, we never hear her talk about Moore in any of her “You failed/betrayed me rants”.

      My personal theory is that if we never learn who hired Moore, it was Joffrey, but if Martin does provide an answer, it will turn out to be that Littlefinger was behind it.

      • Grant says:

        Baelish needed every competent person alive in KL to hold it against Stannis, and then Tyrion alive to be the fall-guy for Joffrey’s assassination (plus if he wanted Tyrion dead it’s strange Tyrion wasn’t poisoned while in a coma). So if someone did give the order, it’d basically have to be Joffrey.

      • lluewhyn says:

        I can see that. Martin does want some unresolved plots, so it would likely be Joffrey if this one doesn’t get answered. The only way I can see a satisfactory resolved answer if it was Littlefinger telling Sansa and that being even one more clue that he was untrustworthy. Overall though, it might be another plot where no answer would be good after all of this time.

  9. Jim B says:

    Editing suggestion: I think you’ve got an extra negative in

    “the awkwardness at the heart of their marriage isn’t not all due to Sansa:”

  10. Sam says:

    One thing I love here is that we see the Lannisters at the height of their power seemingly secure in their rule when the next chapter is the beginning of their downfall.

    Seriously why would Sansa ever trust Tyrion? Tyrion is not a trustworthy man. Cersei, Joffrey and the Tyrells have all betrayed Sansa so what possible reason could she have to trust the likes of Tyrion.

    Also I find Tyrion’s constant self pity incredibly disgusting in view of Sansa and Arya’s situations and how Tyrion ultimately by helping the Lannisters remain in power throughout Clash helped put them in that situation.

    • That is the problem with the limits of Tyrion’s sympathy. At the end of the day, he’s still a member of the enemy regime who’s actively trying to keep the regime in power.

    • JG says:

      Exactly, I think a lot of readers forget all this and overly sympathize with Tyrion. He’s a great character and it’s hard not to root for him but one should not forget his obvious flaws.

      • jasonneighbors1969 says:

        I don’t know why he should be criticized in this circumstance. He treats her exceedingly courteously, I don’t know what else is expected of him. It’s a bad marriage that neither of them wants. Made worse by the fact that he is physically attracted to her and she is repulsed by him, and he knows it. His biggest emotional wound being rubbed right in his face every day, Of course he is handling it badly, most people would. One has to wonder how her attitude would change if he was handsome. But she doesn’t get any flak for that, nor should she. It’s how the world works.

    • jasonneighbors1969 says:

      Tyrion’s self-pity in the face of the objectively more distressing problems of Sansa just makes him a more realistic character. Fantasy is already full of heroes who always put other people’s problems ahead of their own problems and desires, that’s what makes the characters in this series more realistic. Most people aren’t Jesus, who just live to sacrifice for others. She could be in a far worse situation than being wedded to Tyrion. Most would have forced her into sexual relations by now. So he’s shown her a tremendous amount of consideration. But he still has his own issues and to think he shouldn’t be dwelling on them or obsessing over them is not realistic. In the real world people always put themselves first emotionally, at least in their internal thoughts, because you cannot escape your own head.

  11. artihcus022 says:

    Great write-up. Tyrion made the classic mistake – never gift a person that which you’d want to gift yourself. Now he’s lost a book in a time when that was super-rare.

    I agree that the Lives of the Four Kings is Suetonius with Viserys I as a Claudius figure whose life is shaped by his previous years surviving the previous emperors. Claudius was always an inspiration for Tyrion, especially Robert Graves’.

  12. Rake says:

    It’s hard for me (at least in this chapter) to feel sorry for Tyrion, after all he strove to keep this monster in power (even breaking rules of war and burning thousands of men alive for it, and for the same reason I will feel little sympathy for the guests of this marriage should anything bad happen to them, both the Tyrells and their vassals are completely apathetic to the crimes of the Lannisters and have happily joined an illegitimate regime.

    I would love to see this big ship that Paxter Redwyne is building for Joffrey to be used against him (even if it’s by Euron), after all he joins an illegitimate regime in search of advantages, in the next chapters he will falsely testify in a judgment and constantly disparaging other peoples of Westeros (such as the Northmen and Ironborns), it’s actually interesting to see how the great gift he wanted to give Joffrey (if that happens) and his false testimony against Tyrion would make an interesting parallel with the fact that that his children will be falsely accused and imprisoned for the intrigues of Joffrey’s mother.

    As for the other gifts, whenever I read this scene I wondered if these guests really knew Joffrey, maybe they don’t know or maybe they are deluding themselves but in the end these gifts (which would be suitable for a true warrior) are so useless for Joffrey as for Tyrion’s book. Joffrey is similar to Henry VIII at that point, I think he wants to be seen as a great warrior but he doesn’t try to be a warrior, he just tries to look like one.

    As for Tywin’s sword (which is as useless to Joffrey as the other sword is useless to Jaime), now that I read this analysis I remember the analysis of chapter Tyrion IV of the third book, here Tywin appears with a Valyrian steel sword of which no one has heard before and no guest wonders where he got this sword, another point where the apathy of the Lannisters’ allies is evident, but I bet they wouldn’t like the Lannisters stealing their inheritance, I understand this chapter and the next will show Joffrey being as repulsive as possible so his death is very cathartic but these chapters also show that the Lannisters and their allies are terrible people.

    • artihcus022 says:

      With Tyrion the issue is that he’s striving to keep a ‘monster’ in power but on the other hand being a Lannister is the only thing that allows someone of his situation the privileges he’s been accrued (as we will learn with Penny in Feast/Dance…speaking of which her first canonical appearance is in the next chapter). I don’t know what the realistic alternative for Tyrion is, if someone like Tyrion was born to the Starks would he be raised better (considering that all the Stark kids and the Northmen are generally beautiful people, the polite answer is to say they’ve never been tested on that front), the Tullys/Baratheons/Tyrells/Martells et all wouldn’t be better in treating him. The other alternatives if the Faith of the Seven or The Citadel or the Night’s Watch, and would that be better for him? So Tyrion is genuinely caught in a bind…he hates his family but his family also protect him and give him a lifestyle beyond any dwarf in Westeros. And I think his feelings towards his family is schismatic.

      None of this is to excuse Tyrion’s individual and personal actions…sure he had to defend his family but did he have to defend them so well?

      If at the last minute he staged a retreat to Rosby with the Royal Family and surrendered KL to Stannis he would still be keeping the family safe but without a war crime and a defense of a city whose citizens he had endangered by prolonging a siege. He still chose to kill Symeon the minstrel, an innocent man because he composed a satire against him. And later he would choose to murder Shae when he could have killed Tywin and left her alone.

      • Jim B says:

        Is there ever any discussion in the books about why Tyrion didn’t apply to the Citadel? It probably would have been a good thing for him; he could pursue academic interests, and still drink and visit whores (now with a good excuse for not getting married).

        I suspect though, that Tyrion never pushed for it, because at least up until A Clash of Kings he’s a pretty lazy and unambitious person. Students at the Citadel have to actually work and take orders from the Maesters, whereas Tyrion was all miffed that he was put in charge of the sewers of Casterly Rock.

        It’s maybe a little odd that Tywin didn’t push that as a way to get rid of the son he hated. But perhaps Tywin wanted to keep Tyrion around for potential marriage alliances, at least until he could somehow free Jaime from his Kingsguard position.

        • artihcus022 says:

          Tyrion can read all he wants and access all the books he desires without having to go to the Citadel anyway. So it’s got no real appeal for him. And besides the Citadel probably won’t send a dwarf to any high position given how horribly conservative it is.

        • scarlett45 says:

          I thought in the books Tyrion talked about possibly joining the Citadel, but Tywin would not allow it because he didn’t any Lannister being a servant (he thought Maesters were glorified servants).

          If Tyrion was born into another Great House I think his life would be somewhat similar, but his emotional needs might be better met because the Lannisters are seriously fucked up (had his Mother lived though I don’t think she would’ve let Tywin treat him so badly).

          He may never have married (or married far below him, a base born daughter of a lord, or perhaps a woman with another physical disability).

          • Jim B says:

            That sounds familiar, thanks.

          • Grant says:

            That’s Sam, not Tyrion.

            Of course it’s likely that Tywin wouldn’t have been too happy with Tyrion being sent to another house and publicly being a case of “Lannister who isn’t the perfect knightly specimen”, though Tywin never really had an answer to that anyway.

          • scarlett45 says:

            You’re right! That was Sam. Sam would’ve made an excellent Maester, Tyrion was far too self indulgent for that kind of life.

            It could also be that Tywin hating Tyrion as much as he did, he couldn’t stand the thought of him actually being fulfilled in someway. He only threw money at him to keep him quiet.

          • Brett says:

            That sounds about right with Tyrion and the Maesters. I suppose the bigger question is why he was never placed with the Faith after Tywin couldn’t secure a marriage for him – there doesn’t seem to be any “No [insert house name] wears a chain” stigma to putting surplus sons and daughters into the Faith.

        • We’re not told explicitly why that’s not the case, but it seems like Tywin was hoping for a marriage instead, since he did make offers.

        • JG says:

          I think Tywin realized (even if he didn’t want to admit it) that Tyrion still needed to be available for a marriage, as much as he hated him.

      • JG says:

        Starks, Tyrells, and Martells all treat their family members very well, so Tyrion would be fine there. Hoster Tully obviously had some family issues but those were specific cases and all the Tullys besides Lysa seem to believe in the notion of family loyalty. With the Arryns Tyrion might have had a tough time because of the snobbishness of the Vale (and obvious physical difficulties with the Eyrie), but we don’t know what the Arryns were like as a family. Greyjoys are probably the only great house that would have been worse for Tyrion than the Lannisters.

        • artihcus022 says:

          Neither Starks, Tyrells, Martells have been tested with a physically deformed and conventionally unattractive child born to their bloodline. All their kids are Nordic dreamboats (Stark), Disney kids (Tyrell), or Tourist Brochures of Mediterranean Travel (Martells).

          We know for a fact, that several houses saw Tyrion’s birth as an instance of schadenfreude (hey hey Dude who shits gold has a crappy looking kid), that they saw Tywin offering Tyrion in marriage as an insult.

          Without excusing Tywin, from Tyrion’s perspective there’s not many plausible alternatives for him, not within his class, than the dynastic privileges which has elevated and protected him but which doesn’t win him any love from his family.

          • Rake says:

            Well, the Starks, Tyrells and Martells also had people with disabilities in their families, like Bran, Willas and Doran and these houses treated them with much more love and respect than the Lannisters treated Tyrion (although Tyrion was loved and treated well by some Lannisters ). This however also annoys me in Tyrion as his actions before his arrest were aimed at benefiting his three relatives who hate him the most and treat him badly (Tywin, Cersei and Joffrey) and his actions after that are aimed at causing suffering and perhaps death to two of his relatives who always loved him, treated him well and never did anything to him (Myrcella and Tommen)

          • Rake says:

            I’ll correct myself, Tyrion doesn’t specifically aim to harm Tommen and Myrcella, but his actions can cause that, and I’m not sure but I think he accepts that as collateral damage.

      • jasonneighbors1969 says:

        What makes the book realistic to me is all the gray areas of morality, then main characters are neither truly good or evil but all somewhere in between like real life. Good actions have unintended consequences and evil deeds sometimes end up changing things for the better. There is no Good vs. Evil, only Life vs. Death.

    • JG says:

      I have sympathy for a lot of the regime collaborators since the choice was basically ruin or prosperity, and the reality is the warrior-nobility social order is upheld by the threat of savage violence.

      I find the Redwynes to be a very interesting lesser-explored major house given their business and commerce acumen. They have practically made Arbor wine an envied worldwide brand, despite the stigma of nobles of their caliber engaging in such enterprises. So despite Paxter’s apathy to a terrible regime, I want the Redwynes to eventually bounce back from the impending disaster with Euronon and bring capitalism to Westeros in the distant future.

    • Daniel Dunbring says:

      While it is certainly very repulsive to the readers that Ice was destroyed and reforged into two new swords, it probably wont shock Westeros that much. The Starks are attained traitors and Ice would be seen as legal spoils/price of war (contrast with illegal looting and have forfeited all right to any and all of their possessions). Tywin is doing a stretch since it (from the POW of the “Baratheons” in King´s Landing) legally should belong to King Joffrey (which is certainly another reason why Tywin gives Joffrey the sword – otherwise he could be accused of looting the royal armoury). So, unless you are against the “Lannister-Baratheons” in the first place, you would as a random noble recognize the crown´s right to act in this way.

      A great example of this view in Westeros is from The Battle of the Seven Stars where it is likely that King Robar was slain by Jaime Corbray because the Corbrays were able to recover Lady Forlorn, which King Robar had taken from the hands of King Qyle Corbray. It is implied that if that hadn´t been the case the sword would have been claimed as a prize. It is possible that it could have been returned of course, but it exist no “requirment” to do so and the social penalties would more be connected to ceratain regions and individuals rather than everyone it it was kept by say Templetons.

      I would argue that Neds return of Dawn is one of many reasons he is seen as a stellar example rather than the norm. He didn´t have to do that, but that he did is seen as chivalrous and honourable. After all – being charitable and non-selfish is a virtue.

      • jasonneighbors1969 says:

        For sure Ned is an outlier as a very honorable man who tries to live up to the ideals of his society, and that is so hard and notable precisely because most people don’t.

  13. Brett says:

    I loved the section on the gifts, and Queen Aly’s pieces on them. Gifts that all seem to point to either Joffrey’s inadequacies as a King or implicit treachery and contempt, except for Tywin’s gift of a stolen sword reforged.

    I also really like that we get Sansa’s view on Tyrion. Tyrion really came across as a far more morally ambiguous character when I read the whole series again a few years back, and it’s nice when you get the rare outside POV on him.

  14. lluewhyn says:

    I also tend to agree with the common consensus that the catspaw plot was just really poorly done by Martin*. I tend to believe his statement that Joffrey was *always* the intended killer, but I think he just majorly flopped on the execution.

    And the problem is, for the weird-ass motivations involved- to achieve the approval of a person who couldn’t possibly be allowed to know what he did, and this from a person often described as having psychopathic traits with near zero empathy (so anything other than actual praise doesn’t count), the execution really, really needed to be on point, which is something that I think he handled much better with the Lysa poisoned Jon Arryn reveal.

    The conclusion is reached after the people who would most be interested are all dead, involves a As You Know/Do You Remember When? speech that should have absolutely been on page, and is reached after Tyrion takes a gigantic deductive leap from a strange comment (Joffrey handled a blade of a completely different type for a few minutes?) from the murderer, the theft/hiring seems to be a little far-fetched, etc. It also really doesn’t help that there’s the whole red herring comment from Joffrey in ACOK suggests that he’s already forgotten his father and never cared about him.

    As I said, I think that Joffrey was always the intended killer, but George just didn’t get around to doing the necessary sufficient set-up for the reveal until a book or two too late.

    *I’m reminded of a voice-over commentary done by one of the writers for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 7 where they talked about having Giles admit to Buffy that he murdered Ben in Season 5. They ultimately decided to scrap it because too much time had passed and “no one would care”.

    • Bran is alive, he’s just involved in a different plot now.

      • lluewhyn says:

        I have to strongly disagree that Bran is one of the “people who would most be interested”. It happened while he was in a coma, and it doesn’t seem to have affected him. Does Bran even know that there was a (second) attempt on his life? I don’t recall him ever thinking about it. Saying he is involved is like someone telling Daenerys in Meereen that Joffrey had hired an assassin to kill her, but the killer’s ship sunk at sea before he could make it to her- vaguely interesting but not terribly emotion-filled.

  15. michaelspost says:

    The scorpion brooch from Oberyn is GRRM trying to confuse the issue about who poisons Joffrey, still building up the mystique. Not a red herring but a red viper. Ha ha.

    And I think the catspaw dagger gets brought up again for a similar reason, to make Tyrion more angry at Joffrey having gotten another one over on him. Enough so a reader might think Tyrion really did get pushed too far.

    It’s a murder mystery, everyone must be a suspect or it’s too easy.

  16. Manuel S says:

    I think people underestimate the catspaw’s possible eagerness to please a “prince of the blood” instead of running away with the money, perhaps thinking he could get a knighthood further down the road or something. Besides, why is he assumed to be some farm hand? Most likely, he’s the kind of city scum Daemon Targaryen would’ve had under his thumb.

    The subplot could’ve been handled better, but people dismiss the catpspaw’s and Joffrey’s motivation too easily. Joff is incapable of feeling love and that’s why he didn’t actually grieve, but he respected Robert and got some sense of pride from being his. Him finding out about the twincest would’ve been funny, the little shit would be devastated.

    • jasonneighbors1969 says:

      Seems unlikely he could be city scum when there is no city close to Winterfell. And any kind of scum seems unlikely to have any sense of loyalty. And that much desire to please a prince at the expense of killing the son of the Lord of the North, a known close friend to the king and his own nominal liege lord? I don’t know. Besides all that, how in the world would Joffrey even find this guy? He’s just walking up to random peasants in Winter Town without rumor spreading that the prince is looking to assassinate Lord Eddard’s son? And how much opportunity would he even have to approach anyone by himself without the Hound or some other bodyguard right there to overhear everything? Joff would have had to hit the lottery on meeting the only peasant in the North crazy and stupid enough to go along with this on his first attempt!
      Well, in the book it happened, so we just have to accept it with some hand waving 🙂

      • Manuel S says:

        I mentioned the possibility of him being city scum because I assumed Catelyn didn’t pin him as a Northman by his accent or something, and therefore it’d be plausible for him to have come from KL with the royal caravan. Did I forget the detail that she did?

      • lluewhyn says:

        I’ve thought so many of these things. GRRM is better than most writers at this, but there are still a few moments where you think “How exactly did this go down?” Joffrey is normally escorted by the Hound or other retinue, and he just happens to go out wandering by himself and approaches a single peasant who decides to go along with the crazy plan? This is one of those few By Writer Fiat moments in the books.

        • Manuel S says:

          I’ve just checked the wiki entry on him and confirmed that, as I assumed, neither Cat nor anyone else (particularly Mollen, who was in charge of the investigations) found any clue about the catspaw’s origins. So again, you should change the word “peasant” there to just “lowborn”.

          The mechanics of the bargain are the tricky part, of course, because the only liaison we can realistically come up with is Sandor, and it would be kind of out-of-character for him to go along with that. A young prince as snobbish as Joffrey is will hardly communicate directly with random lowborns, though maybe he might make an exception for his cruelty fix?

          I don’t know, I just thought the motivation part is not the problem here.

          • jasonneighbors1969 says:

            If he wasn’t local that would make more sense. If he were a servant in Joffrey’s retinue that would make it much more plausible, especially if he has family in KL that Joffrey could threaten if he fails him.

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