Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Tyrion VIII, ASOS

“My own wedding is looking much better in hindsight.”

Synopsis: “it’s a nice day for a purple wedding/it’s a nice day to start again”

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.

103 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Tyrion VIII, ASOS

  1. Ciaran Fullerton says:

    Brilliant essay
    1. I find Garlan’s line about the singers to be a comfort to Tyrion but also a nod to himself. He was Renly during the battle; these are his actions being sung about, only no one else knows it was Garlan.
    2. I get the impression that Littlefinger has betrayed the Tyrells and there were two separate plots.
    The Tyrells, as GRRM said, wanted it to look like an accident. Olenna’s comment to Sansa about going to Highgarden could imply they wanted Tyrion executed, but that couldn’t work if she is a fugitive in the vale. My theory is that with the marriage unconsummated, Sansa wanting to marry Willas and Tyrion befriended by Garlan, the Tyrells could have the couple ask for an annulment. As Tywin pointed out, the Tyrells could only ask for Sansa after Margaery becomes queen as then, with no other card than to play, they can’t refuse their primary backers.
    Littlefinger’s plan is based on two betrayals of the Tyrells. He steals Sansa and frames Tyrion. Yes it’s a leap from Cersei, but he’s seen how paranoid she is, particularly with Tyrion (his men seized Alayaya after all). By taking Sansa he guarantees he’s a suspect and that’s enough. Kevan makes it clear that Cersei will probably kill Tyrion anyway, regardless of any conviction. That was the first betrayal. The second was getting them involved. He could’ve had anyone do it, but he made sure it was Olenna Tyrell. The vale has around 35,000 The great western alliance has at at least 70,000 men, but the majority are from the reach. Littlefinger likes to be ready before he acts. Joffrey could get killed by Loras and destroy this alliance any day. But if the Tyrells help kill him, when Littlefinger decides to sends his army against Tywin’s he can have the rose and lion tear each other to shreds by simply telling the truth.

    • Sean C. says:

      Yes, Littlefinger clearly intended for Tyrion to take the blame.

      It’s obviously very contrived that it all worked out so neatly like that, but that’s fiction for you.

    • 1. That’s a good point about Garlan, I hadn’t thought of his own part in the battle imparting a spin on those words.

      2. LF did betray the Tyrells, but I feel uncomfortable attributing essentially godlike predictive abilities to him vis-a-vis Cersei. Moreover, if we look at his move – the dwarf jousters – it doesn’t quite work to engineer a direct enough confrontation between Joffrey and Tyrion that anyone other than Cersei thinks Tyrion did it until after Cersei makes the accusation.

      I also don’t think he plans on revealing the truth of Joffrey’s death any time soon, because it directly implicates him as well.

      • Ciaran Fullerton says:

        I don’t think it would take godlike powers to get Cersei to believe Tyrion did it. Think what Littlefinger knows about their relationship. Cersei hates and distrusts Tyrion so much that when he wanted Joffrey to take part in a battle she believed it was an attempted assassination and had men he employs seize a hostage. He knows that she is paranoid and quick to judgement and gives her the joust to keep Tyrion in her mind. I don’t think he planned on an arrest, more that Cersei would kill Tyrion anyway.
        I don’t think confessing would really matter once he takes Sansa to Winterfell. He’s rebelling against the Lannisters with a prime suspect by his side. That pretty much declares his involvement and treason means an execution anyway so why not turn the Lannisters and Tyrell armies against each other.

  2. Ca[tain Splendid says:

    Another great writeup.

    As to your last hypothetical, I’d assume Varys would either kill Tyrion before Kevan (or both together), or pull a Tyrek Lannister on him.

  3. Mick says:

    I was kinda missing the What if “the assassination fails?”. As you show, the plot is quite complicated and something can go wrong anytime. Now I get why you didn’t treat it – the book simply need this to happen and if it didn’t work here at the wedding, it would work sometimes later and we’re back at the same place. But what if the poison was found on the Queen of Thorns? That could have gotten ugly quite fast, but again, the regime is on wobbly feet anyways.

    As for Garlan, I believe the way he acts is just common sense. Even if you know, somethings going to happen, there’s still nothing wrong in acting decently. What goes around, comes around – and he doesn’t lose anything. Also, he has the same experience with “Renly” getting his fame for the Blackwater, no? I do believe that the Tyrrells plan for Sansa and Tyrion could be to courting them both. He would be the heir of the Westerlands after all and they know he resents his family, get them (Sansa, Tyrion) on their good side and see what happens in the long term. They are assets, no need to plan yet how they can be used.

    Great Essay again by the way.

    • Captain Splendid says:

      “Also, he has the same experience with “Renly” getting his fame for the Blackwater, no?”

      Honestly, I think that’s all there is to Garlan’s kind comments, in that both he and Tyrion did important work to secure victory, but no one will ever sing their names.

    • I didn’t think of the assassination failing, because really it had to happen and if it didn’t happen now it likely would have happened at the next convenient instance.

      And yes, as I said above, I didn’t think about Garlan’s experience as “Renly” shaping his attitude to Tyrion, but that’s a good pull. However, I don’t think the Tyrell plan is to court Tyrion; if that was the case, Olenna would have invited him to Highgarden as well.

      Thanks!

  4. Tywin of the Hill says:

    Great write up.
    1. Why do you think Garlan was in on the Purple Wedding?
    2.

    If the plan was to have Tyrion be Suspect #1, then they’d want this confrontation to go on as long (and get as ugly) as possible, so that it would be foremost in people’s minds when the killing happens. Instead, they go to some effort to try to get Joffrey to sit back down and disengage from this awkward social encounter.

    Not that I think that framing Tyrion was in the Tyrells’ plans, but one could argue that, if they really were setting him up as a patsy, they would try to keep the confrontation from escalating too much. Otherwise Joffrey might kick Tyrion out of the ceremony, or Tyrion might leave on his own.
    3. Changing the subject a bit, why are your new posts “Uncategorized”?

  5. Grant says:

    Regarding Loras’ accusation of Sansa, was he ever in on the plot? Margaery, Olenna, and Garlan had to be, but Loras is a pretty rash person. He might have just heard Olenna push the idea.

    On the coverup, we know Baelish certainly intended for Tyrion to be implicated. His actions don’t make sense if he isn’t getting rid of Tyrion and getting his hands on Sansa. He had ample opportunity to observe Tyrion, Cersei, and Joffrey to understand their relationships, he was the one who arranged for the dwarf entertainers specifically so it would give Joffrey an opportunity to mock Tyrion and keep their mutual loathing fresh in the minds of every witness. So the Tyrells seem to have been hoping for it all to be an unfortunate accident, but I’d say Baelish hijacked it.

    As for the Tyrells, they had to know their coverup might crack. After all, in canon Pycelle confirmed there was no blockage in Joffrey’s throat (admittedly we don’t know how certain he’d be without Tyrion on trial). From that maybe the Tyrells decided that if the accident plan didn’t work, they could always fall back on Tyrion as the fall guy, and use their credentials as the queen’s family to steer any charges away from Sansa. After all, if Queen Margaery stands in front of everyone and cries of how innocent dear Sansa is, who’s going to say the queen nearly murdered by Tyrion is wrong? Or perhaps the Tyrell backup plan never involved specifically Tyrion as the fall guy, and just making sure Sansa was never charged with anything.

    • Brett says:

      I doubt it. Not that Loras is above dirty tactics (see his joust with the Mountain), but the Tyrells are smart enough to keep the murder plot to as few people as possible. If worse came to worst, Olenna herself could take the fall for it to save her granddaughter and grandson.

    • Murc says:

      Regarding Loras’ accusation of Sansa, was he ever in on the plot? Margaery, Olenna, and Garlan had to be, but Loras is a pretty rash person.

      If Loras didn’t have a part to play, then they’d be fools to have let him know what was going on.

      I am inclined to think that the Purple Wedding was the work of four people; Margaery, Olenna, Garlan, and Mace. And frankly I have my doubts about Mace. The only reason he’s on the list is because Olenna might not feel comfortable committing Highgarden to a regicide without involving her son, who leads the House. Even she probably would not go that far, and Garlan and Maragery probably wouldn’t either.

      But those probably’s are doing a LOT of work.

      • Brett says:

        I don’t think Mace was in on it. It just seems to be a common thing that he’s a bit oblivious to the plotting of his smarter mother and daughter, and not particularly subtle (see his clumsy attempt in AFFC to try and get Cersei to make him Hand).

        • Murc says:

          True, but counterpoint: his constant “Oh, Margaery was drinking from the same cup, Margaery Margaery Margaery” carping might be him in his unsubtle way trying to carry his part of the conspiracy, so to speak.

          And while Margaery and Olenna would definitely do something like this behind Mace’s back… Garlan, I think would want his lord father to sign off.

          Dunno. Can see it either way.

      • I don’t think Mace knew. He’s not involved in the actual assassination in the way that Garlan is, nor is he particularly subtle and closemouthed enough to be certain of.

        • Brett says:

          His role in the story pretty much seems to be “ambitious and oafish”. He’s there to make a fool of himself in his hand-shaped Hand chair right up to the point where either Gregorstein smashes his head in or Randyll Tarly literally stabs him in the back (I don’t think Martin will be able to resist having him literally get stabbed in the back if Gregor doesn’t kill him).

    • I don’t think Loras was in on the plot, no.

      Yes, Baelish hijacked the plot, both in regards to Sansa and in regards to Tyrion.

      Pycelle wouldn’t have gone looking in the throat if Cersei hadn’t made a murder accusation, though. Autopsying the king isn’t standard.

      • Grant says:

        Seems reckless of the Tyrells to rest on the assumption the murder would be mistaken for accident, though obviously they tried their best to steer people’s minds in that direction. At the least I’d say they had a backup plan of “point the finger anywhere convenient”. Considering they violated guest right (possibly committed kinslaying too depending on how far they’re willing to view when the marriage is official enough), and went along with what a lot of them knew was a frame-up, they’re cold enough to plan that any result is okay so long as Margaery marries a “Baratheon” and no one suspects them.

        • Wadege says:

          I bet you anything that LF pitched the hairnet to Grandma Tyrell as “If things go bad for you, just point a finger at Sansa and her hairnet and she can take the blame”. Of course, the real reason Sansa is wearing the hairnet is to spook her with feelings of complicity afterwards, making her that much more in need of LF’s “protection”.

        • lluewhyn says:

          If nothing else, the Tyrells wouldn’t be the prime suspects here at the wedding (except from Cersei). If one doesn’t know that they’re aware of Joffrey’s true nature, it would seem tinfoil to suggest that they killed the same person they specifically made efforts to marry their family member to with an alliance.

        • JG says:

          Making a murder look like an accident is a lot safer than pinning it on someone else because you risk the possibility the evidence actually isn’t that strong against the accused and/or that they can get out of it, whereas unfortunate accidents do happen (especially in a higher mortality “medieval” setting). Thinking of Crusader King murder plotting here…

        • Renata says:

          Their backup plan was incriminate the viper.

  6. Mark Field says:

    “both the reader and Sansa are made to consider whether they can “believe anything you hear in a song,” or whether approved-of accounts are always slanted to suit the egos of the powerful on the winning side.”

    Also perhaps a commentary on Martin’s own work: A *Song* of Ice and Fire.

  7. artihcus022 says:

    Great write-up.

    The Purple Wedding chapter is bold because it basically shorts out what seemed like the most charismatic status-quo up to that point i.e. Kings Landing Court Politics.

    I know we all agreed not to discuss “the adaptation” but it’s much clearer there than in the book how much this setting and status-quo came to define ASOIAF until then. In this one chapter, GRRM ends it because without Tyrion and later Tywin, KL politics loses its charismatic vector and engine and the action becomes diffuse and spirals out.

  8. jedimaesteryoda says:

    1. “I do so hope he plays us ‘The Rains of Castamere.’ It has been an hour, I’ve forgotten how it goes.”

    Olenna chooses to play their song while they poison him

    2. “From the shadows at the back of the hall, Ser Ilyn Payne appeared. The specter at the feast, thought Tyrion as he watched the King’s Justice stride forward, gaunt and grim. He had been too young to have known Ser Ilyn before he’d lost his tongue. He would have been a different man in those days, but now the silence is as much a part of him as those hollow eyes,”

    “Joffrey and Margaery joined hands to lift the greatsword and swung it down together in a silvery arc.”

    The king’s executioner appears just before the moment Joffrey is poisoned. The guy looks like Death personified down to the hollow eyes like a skull, and his greatsword is swung down as if it was used for an execution. In this case, it is Joffrey’s life that passes.

    3. Ironically, the one who played the stag knight Oppo, who is made to lose his head with the melon in the helmet, ends up getting decapitated after the event. Tyrion ends up taking his place.

    • 1. Well, it’s probably more of a joke about how often they’ve been playing it, but you raise a good point.

      2. Yeah, I cut out a bunch of stuff re Ilyn Payne and the sword because I didn’t have time.

      3. Yep. Poor Groat.

  9. Brett says:

    If Tyrion is not accused, then he’ll get assassinated by Varys along with Kevan once the Golden Company shows up in Westeros. Varys was clearing out anyone competent enough to hold things together in the face of the invasion, and that would include Tyrion if he’s still around.

    So in the long run, it probably saved his life that he was there to be accused rather than, say, leaving during the Dwarf Joust in disgust “to use the privy” and not being there when Joffrey was poisoned (which would have made it harder for Cersei to blame him).

    • lluewhyn says:

      I have to imagine that Tyrion wouldn’t still be around. If Tywin lives, Tyrion was already thinking about heading towards Casterly Rock anyway, anything to get out of town. If Tywin dies from some other method, Tyrion is definitely going to try to get out of dodge as soon as Kevan leaves if not before, as there’s no way he’s hanging around his sister without some sort of protection. Which has a bit of irony, in that he doesn’t even have any clue about the Valonquar prophecy.

      I suppose it’s possible that he comes back to the capital with Kevan, but he would probably require some strong incentive to do so.

    • Yes, but the invasion only happened when it did because of Tyrion; it might take a good long while to happen if the Golden Company heads to Meereen instead.

      And yes, Tyrion not being allowed to leave to change his clothes or whatever is a bit of thumb on the scales from GRRM.

    • Bail o' Lies says:

      It important to remember the Varys had to disappear because it was clear to all he must have helped Tyrion escape. No need to help Tyrion disappear? He stays on the council controlling the information that is fed to Cersei.

      A theory is Oberyn poisoned Tywin at some point with that poison that makes so you can’t take a shit. Since, he would be too proud to go to a maester over something like that, he dies from overfilled bowels.

      Kevan may eventually be made regent, but Aegon wouldn’t invade as soon as he did without Tyrion. So, he would live a bit longer with Varys by his side controlling what he hears.

  10. Murc says:

    Man, we finally made it here. Purple Wedding. It’s been a trip!

    Rainbow lights danced once more about the High Septon’s crown as he solemnly declared Joffrey of the Houses Baratheon and Lannister and Margaery of House Tyrell to be one flesh, one heart, one soul.

    You know, when this marriage was arranged, they REALLY should have insisted that Cersei take Robert’s name. They didn’t need Tywin THAT badly, he came late to the cause in his own words, and it is nearly ironclad Westerosi custom that the bride joins the grooms house. Asking for the Queen to retain her House name is a weird, almost arrogant position to take. I actually can’t think of another instance in which this was done.

    I have no doubt that Cersei achieved this by playing on Tywin’s arrogance and Lannister chauvinism. Despite her clumsy tantrums in ASOS Cersei has the ability to manipulate Tywin when she cares to do so; paradoxically I feel like Cersei is a much smarter person when operating in a position of weakness, where she HAS to be clever, than from a position of strength, where her first instinct is a resort to crude, naked grasping. She probably got Daddy to insist on this clause to the point that Arryn (you KNOW this marriage contract was negotiated principally by Jon Arryn; can you imagine Robert dickering for a political bride over a table?) didn’t consider it worth fighting.

    Maintaining her family name as a selfish gesture toward her and Jaime’s weird, co-dependent pseudo-marriage despite it being a red flag is precisely what I’d expect of Cersei.

    And the bounty of Highgarden had come with her, flowing up the roseroad from the south. The fools didn’t seem to remember that it had been Mace Tyrell who closed the roseroad to begin with, and made the bloody famine.

    This formulation continues to annoy me. I know that Martin is no Bret Deveraux, and so we have to accept shit like “the North can survive multiple years-long winters without becoming a place where all animals and most plants are simply dead,” but… King’s Landing primary source of food WOULD NOT be the Reach. If its own hinterlands could not feed it, food would be brought by SHIP, not hundreds of miles overland from the Reach. Basic foodstuffs (luxury foodstuffs were a different story) were never, in the pre-modern age, transported long distances by land, for the simply reason that beyond a certain point, the people and animals doing the transporting would end up consuming it all en route, or an equivalent amount would be acquire locally to feed them,, which completely defeats the purpose of moving it to begin with.

    It is the RIVERLANDS, not the Reach, which should be the breadbasket of King’s Landing if the city can’t feed itself from the Crownlands, with barges of grains moving down the Blackwater.

    The struggle that the maesters were calling the War of the Five Kings was all but at an end.

    …Re-readers will know that this, too, is an illusion: the Ironborn will soon invade the Reach

    It’s interesting how beneath contempt and notice these people consider the ironborn, isn’t it? Balon is one of the titular five kings, but as Tyrion runs down the list of ways the war is winding down he doesn’t even think about them. Indeed, the Tyrell/Lannister alliance regard the ironborn as such a nonexistent threat, consider it such a foregone conclusion that Balon Greyjoy will bend the knee (Tywin even considers him as a possible groom for Cersei!) that they’re having Paxter Redwyne move almost his entire strength all the way around the continent to crush Stannis. Nobody ever seems to say “hey, the ironborn are in rebellion as well; Balon Greyjoy calls himself a King and has made war upon the realm, if not necessarily upon our houses specifically yet. Perhaps we should keep some strength at sea in the west in case longships descend upon the Westerlands or the Reach?”

    Here, Tyrion is motivated by the entirely pragmatic desire to get out of the capital (and its proximity to Joffrey) and to a place of safety, where his status as a Lannister can mean a life of comfort and dignity.

    It’s interesting that, even in a late and entirely belated manner, Tyrion has, finally, started planning for the majority of King Joffrey. Almost nobody in House Lannister has gotten there yet; the Tyrells have, and their plan is “make sure he doesn’t reach said majority.” But the Lannisters… Tywin is planning “a sharp lesson.” Cersei isn’t even planning that much. Tyrion is the first to reach the realization of “in two years Joffrey will be king in truth as well as name, with no more regencies or parents to restrain him, and his character seems unlikely to change.” And he instantly comes to the smart conclusion that getting the fuck away before that happens is the smart call.

    And going to the Rock could mean more than just comfort and dignity. Whatever else Tywin has SAID, he has not taken concrete steps to disinherit Tyrion, and Tywin is old by the standards of Westeros and clearly plans to set up camp here in King’s Landing. With Jaime in the Kingsguard and Cersei likewise in King’s Landing, Tyrion would be THE Lannister of the Rock if he returned to the west. Two years ago that might not have mattered, when Tyrion was no more than a smarter than usual piece of court-hanging froth attached to his brother-in-laws maladministration; but now he’s gotten a taste for power and politics and found he likes it. Left unsupervised in the west for any significant length of time and Tyrion could consolidate a power base there that would make Tywin’s attempts to disinherit him less than likely to succeed.

    It certainly makes it appear that Ser Loras’ later claim that Sansa was in on the plot and intended to poison Margaery was a later addition that only happened when Sansa had already escaped, been accused of complicity in the crime by Cersei, and was no longer available to the Tyrells.

    Loras may simply have not been in on it. If you’re going to kill a king, it’s best not to have the circle of co-conspirators wider than it needs to be. If Loras didn’t have to DO anything, best not to involve him. Frankly, I sometimes doubt that Mace himself was in on it. I’m inclined to think he was, but if Olenna could have cut him out of the loop I think she would have done.

    When they are done, I shall compliment them and give them a fat purse of silver. And come the morrow, I will find whoever planned this little diversion and arrange for a different sort of thanks.

    Littlefinger really doesn’t know when to fucking quit, does he? He already dodged one bullet when Tyrion got distracted by needing to run the kingdom such that he let the “Littlefinger framed me for murder in front of Catelyn Stark” thing pass by with no follow-up. Littlefinger has to poke the lion again? Tyrion would take this MORE personally than the frame job. That was business; this is not.

    Grand Maester Pycelle shouted for someone to help him back to his chambers, to fetch his potions.

    God, I love this line. A man is, to all intents and purposes, choking in front of him… and the Grand Maester wants to go fetch his potions. Joffrey’s blocked airway will wait for that, right?

    The only honest answer that you can give in that moment where GRRM swings that club at you is that you’re not happy, because what’s happening is that a child is dying an awful, slow death as their family looks on unable to do anything; the empathetic switch has been flipped and now you feel terrible for wishing death on this helpless, wretched person flopping on the ground like a fish out of water.

    I know we’re not doing Book vs. Show anymore, and better people than me have written on the subject… but man, I’ve always wondered how a lot of the Joffrey stuff would play visually if he were the same age he is on the page.

    We have an unconscious tendency to age up the cast of ASOIAF, for obvious reasons. (Not just the kids; Ned and Benjen Stark are vigorous young men in their mid and early thirties, but the mental image most have of them are of men in their solid middle age.) But these are in fact children. Joffrey might be having a particularly gentle puberty (clear skin, ringing voice, great hair, etc.) but as a thirteen year old his body would be all gawkish and weird and he’d have a lot of baby fat still on him, would still be unformed. Seeing someone like that enact all his weird sexually-inflected violence on the people around him before watching them choke to death here at the Purple Wedding would, I think, have had a much, much different, more visceral impact, one more appropriate to the books. They do their best, but… Jack Gleeson is the age of, and is played and acted like, an arrogant, piece of shit frat boy as opposed to the child Joffrey is in the novels. His death has much less impact than that of a child would have.

    This is why I have a hard time accepting any theory of the Purple Wedding that centers around Tyrion as the fall guy, because they basically had to predict Cersei’s impulsive action here, which suggests a degree of predictability to people’s actions (and a degree of skill at predicting people’s behavior) that I just don’t think exists.

    Not just Cersei, either.

    Cersei isn’t the power in this room, at this moment. Tywin is. It is never shown on the page, but I am absolutely certain in my mind that when Cersei gives the arrest order, there’s a moment of silence, of pause, and then every single head in the room, Tyrion included, swiveled to look at Tywin.

    And Tywin thinks it over for all of a second, and gives a little nod of his head to the Kingsguard.

    And Tyrion is taken.

    Sansa doesn’t go to the wedding? This is one that was brought up in discussion for last chapter, but I decided to answer it here where we could see the whole episode. If Sansa doesn’t go to the wedding, it seems to me that she still escapes with Ser Dontos as planned but probably isn’t accused of Joffrey’s murder.

    Does the murder even happen if Sansa doesn’t go? What’s the Tyrell fallback plan if their murder weapon isn’t delivered conveniently? Wait and try again later?

    This in turn has a subtle but important influence on her time in the Eyrie, because not being a wanted fugitive means that it would be easier for Sansa to leave the Vale.

    Eh?

    How would Sansa not be a wanted fugitive? Even in the absence of a murder accusation, or a murder, Sansa is a minor child (she isn’t fifteen yet) and a hostage who the crown has asserted wardship of, to the point that it disposed of her hand against her will. I am having trouble seeing literally any circumstance where she flees the capital and ISN’T a wanted fugitive thereafter. If nothing else the Lannisters would not want her to somehow find her way north or into the hands of Stannis.

    • Grant says:

      A Sansa not accused of regicide, if not stopped by someone like Baelish, can much more safely make contact with Tyrells and reappear in Westeros. After all, the worst she’s done is disappear, without it necessarily being clear how willing she was.

      While most talk about the court focuses on the Lannisters, the Tyrells are a major part of it post-Blackwater. Sure there’ll be some very tricky questions for people as they dance around just what happened at the feast, but Winterfell’s worth the Tyrells emphasizing Sansa couldn’t possibly have been the murderer and pushing the throne to officially welcome her back if it doesn’t lead to their necks on the chopping block.

      • lluewhyn says:

        Props for the Devereaux mention on the absurdity of transporting food hundreds of miles over land.

        I don’t think Littlefinger’s worried about Tyrion because he’s set up his plan in such a way that it would be unlikely for Tyrion to discover all of the pieces nor in a position to do much about it. If Tyrion found out that Littlefinger had framed him for the poison, he would have much bigger concerns as having the Lannisters discover his involvement in poisoning Joffrey.

        Yeah, Pycelle talking about getting his potions always struck me as ludicrous.

        I also think that Loras and Mace weren’t in on it, because there’s no need for them to be and they would just bring greater risk.

        • Murc says:

          I don’t think Littlefinger’s worried about Tyrion because he’s set up his plan in such a way that it would be unlikely for Tyrion to discover all of the pieces nor in a position to do much about it.

          Here’s the thing, tho.

          Tyrion doesn’t need to find out about anything else, nothing at all, for him to maybe decide that Littlefinger arranging for the jousting dwarves is a perfectly good reason to fuck him up in some way.

          Like Littlefinger doing this has no upside for Littlefinger beyond the pure pleasure of sticking it to Tyrion, and it has the downside of sticking it to Tyrion Lannister, who is entirely capable of enacting revenge and who takes shit personally.

          Its emblematic of Littlefinger’s sheer, breathtaking arrogance which is his trademark and which will get him killed.

      • Sean C. says:

        A Sansa not accused of regicide, if not stopped by someone like Baelish, can much more safely make contact with Tyrells and reappear in Westeros.

        Why would she do that? The Tyrells weren’t her friends, and she understood that by that point. Even the logistics of it would frankly be pretty hard, and in any case, being found would still mean being returned to King’s Landing, which she does not want to do under any circumstances.

        • Grant says:

          Even knowing what she does about the Tyrells after the feast, she doesn’t really have cause to view them as enemies and they’re clearly a powerful faction who could view her as someone to protect, even if it’s for Winterfell. And returning to King’s Landing under Tyrell protection, with no accusations of regicide, and Joffrey dead is a completely different situation from anything like what she faced before Blackwater, not to mention there’s no reason to think she’d have to be in King’s Landing for very long. The Tyrells would have no motive to keep her there longer than absolutely necessary to have the throne officially agree she’s clearly innocent, assuming they can’t get that done just through Margaery with Sansa safely in Highgarden.

    • teageegeepea says:

      Tyrion has more POV chapters in which he could have remembered Tywin nodding his head. Cersei could remember it as well. If GRRM wanted to indicate Tywin’s involvement, there was nothing stopping him.

    • BCharles says:

      Regarding the topic of King’s Landing’s food supply, at the time before the Battle of the Blackwater Stannis’ fleet is at large in the bay and the Riverlands are a war zone, with the Lannister army burning or consuming any food in the latter place. That would make the Reach the last place for the city to turn to, making the Tyrell blockade effective. That said, Tyrion’s comment does imply that the Reach is where the capital typically gets its food, so you have a point.

    • 1. It’s a little unclear from the text how often the wife “keeps her own name” in these kinds of marriages. Elia Martell is still referred to as Elia of Dorne rather than Elia Targaryen, for example. Catelyn is referred to on occasion as Catelyn Tully, when her Tully connexions are particularly relevant.

      But yes, I agree on how Cersei probably achieved this overweening privilege.

      2. The eastern Reach I could see being within the pale of the capital.

      3. Yeah, it’s a bit of a mystery why the Greyjoys are neglected here. Typical Westerlands blind spot?

      4. I would guess that it would depend on how loyal the various functionaries of the Rock were to Tywin in particular as opposed to House Lannister in general.

      5. I agree Loras wasn’t in on it. Neither was Mace, IMO.

      6. LF is a particularly petty person, so walking away from personal feuds seems difficult for him. Surprised it hasn’t blown up in his face before this, honestly.

      7. Yep.

      8. Interesting thought.

      9. Good point.

      10. I have to think that they’d just carry in the poison some other way, the hairnet is really an unnecessary complication.

      11. Wanted in the sense of wanted for murder.
      .

      • Captain Splendid says:

        I always thought that ‘Elia of Dorne’ was basically just a racist tic.

      • Bail o' Lies says:

        1. Jon mentioned something in Arya first chapter about Cersei was arrogant marrying the Lion to the Stag on the banners as seen on Joffery. Normally, it seems that first son inherit and wear his father’s sigil while second sons and lower modify it, and bastards inverse the colors. Its normally seems to be considered a mistake for heir to do otherwise like Davos thinking Stannis shouldn’t have invaded King’s Landing with the Fiery Heart Stag besides his own dislike of it.

        GRRM mention that Queen don’t take their husband last names to show which house married into the king’s.

        Though her attitude towards her husband is so well known that it was easy to believe she would sleep with brother to cockled her husband says how openly she hated him.

        2. it even if the Riverlands should be KL’s breadbasket; Tywin been burning it down for the past year.

        3. The Ironborn haven’t attacked them and their action even helped them defeat the start. No helped that Robert defeated them so easily ten years ago.

        4. Cersei cares only about remaining as regent while Tywin thinks he can train him while remaining hand. They both only care about their current status and think they can deal with Joffery’s issues later.

        5. Loras is too hotblood for scheming and Mace is an Oaf.

        6. Baelish’s personal enemy was Eddard Stark before Tyrion. In fact, Ned got sick of his antics very quickly and almost killed him before Cat told him to treat Petyr as a friend & ally. Everyone else just held him in contempt while feeling they still needed him because of how good he was at handling the crowns money. While he enjoyed himself with the knowledge he was throwing them all into debt.

        10. If Sansa didn’t go or wear the hairnet they probably freak out a bit and kill him later, but he would have spent time having sex with Margery. Which means a few months wait period to see if she was impregnated, before she was allowed to marry Tommen. Then if she was, there would be a debate if that child should inherit the throne or Tommen. If its a girl the Tyrells would demand that Marg marry Tommen. And during this entire time there is a lull in the Lannister-Tyrell faction power as they don’t know who is there King.

        11. I question why no one questions how a girl that has no money, allies, connections, influence, or power even manage to get poison. Part of the reason Tyrion had to be accused along with her, since he both stolen poisons from Pycelle before and has the money to buy them.

    • Bail o' Lies says:

      Its a problem of them beating the Ironborn too easily a decade ago under Robert, and the fact that they only attacked that North. So they think the Ironborn are a none threat, even a weird ally/tool that playing dress up a king that they can chastise to get back with the program once they get to them, and having even really wondered about what happens after Balon’s death.

      Ironically, Robb because his friendship with Theon has an understanding of the Ironborn and what would happen; a Kingsmoot. Pulling out of the North at least temporarily and likely a change of plan if they new king goes a different way.

  11. Brett says:

    He wouldn’t be Littlefinger if he couldn’t figure out how to humiliate and show off against someone who pissed him off. His revenge for Tyrion outsmarting him on the “find the leaker” scheme.

  12. Sean C. says:

    The only honest answer that you can give in that moment where GRRM swings that club at you is that you’re not happy, because what’s happening is that a child is dying an awful, slow death as their family looks on unable to do anything; the empathetic switch has been flipped and now you feel terrible for wishing death on this helpless, wretched person flopping on the ground like a fish out of water.

    Honestly: no, I completely disagree.

    The only sad thing about Joffrey’s death was that it wasn’t even more painful.

    GRRM can be simultaneously a very subtle, nuanced writer and a crushingly unsubtle one, and the way he handles his villains often falls into the latter category. Some of the stuff he has said he was trying to do with Joffrey’s death (and Joffrey as a character) is just completely undermined by his writing choices to make Joffrey a demon seed without a single redeeming quality. I don’t think there’s even a single scene he appears in where he does anything other than whatever would make him look worst in that scene.

    Trying to turn that around at the very last second and insist we need to feel sad for him (and that he’s just a kid) is wholly unconvincing. I’ll save my empathy for the many people he victimized.

    • Tywin of the Hill says:

      Even his pointing to Tyrion as he’s dying, which Tyrion and the narrative tries to frame as asking for help or forgiveness, looks more like he’s accusing Tyrion, one final “fuck you” to his uncle.

    • Rake says:

      I totally agree, Martin may have tried to make readers feel bad for Joffrey but with me it didn’t work.

    • BCharles says:

      I tend to agree. I never really understood the whole “empathy for Joffrey” thing that ASOIAF fans are supposed to feel in the Purple Wedding scene. My reaction to Joffrey’s death is ambivalence at best.

    • dai y says:

      You do not share his 60s roots, perhaps. Universal empathy, recognising yourself in everyone and everyone in yourself, the truth of an existence… all of this suffuses his writing. You just do not share the vision, I would suppose.

    • All I can say is that it worked on me. Certainly this, and Cersei’s walk of shame, have a very different relationship to catharsis than say, “Ed, fetch me a block” does.

      • Rake says:

        Regarding Cersei’s punishment I agree, I didn’t like the walk of shame, I still want her to be punished for her crimes, but not in such a clearly misogynistic and degrading way.

        • Sean C. says:

          As far as the Walk of Shame goes, it’s certainly not a “just” punishment by any means, but I didn’t feel at all sorry for Cersei either. In the same book we’re reintroduced to Jeyne Poole, who Cersei sent to a life of sex slavery in a brothel at age 11 essentially just because it was the first solution presented to her for what to do with a child that her soldiers had just orphaned. And that wasn’t even any action motivated by vindictiveness, of which we’ve watched Cersei make many over the course of the books. Pretty much anything could happen to Cersei and it would only be karma.

    • Ciaran Fullerton says:

      I think were supposed to feel sorry that he’s a child because of what that means for his personality. GRRM pointed out he could’ve changed (he acknowledged that he probably wouldn’t have) for the better as most 13 year old bullies do, but now he never can. More than that we’re supposed to pity the child who was raised to be like this. Whenever I read/watch Joffrey I think about the pregnant cat and feel weirdly sorry for him. Think of the nature vs nurture argument; Joffrey is naturally cruel and violent, but think of what happened after he killed the cat. Robert hit him and Cersei defended him. Joffrey never knew why Robert hit him. All he knows is that he gave his father a gift, got beaten, and that was that. No one told him killing animals was wrong and that’s why he was beaten; Robert didn’t take the time and Cersei didn’t care. I pity Joffrey because while some characters e.g. Littlefinger don’t care about right and wrong, Joffrey doesn’t seem to understand the difference; not even enough to know not to beat Sansa in court, not to humiliate Tyrion in public or not to execute Ned. He had a cruel nature and maybe he was destined to be a bad person, but the poor parenting he was given shows in his ignorance of morality or even basic consequences for immoral behaviour.

      • Rake says:

        Although Robert’s reaction was exaggerated I would say that a child killing a pregnant cat is a great warning about that child. I don’t think Joffrey became so bad because of the upbringing he had, he’s like Macaulay Culkin’s character in The Good Son.

    • Haplo-6 says:

      Joffrey’s death is much like Hitler’s death scene in Inglourious Basterds; brutally horrific on one hand, yet inducing scream-laughing and cheering on the other. Man did that prick earn it.

      • Keelah Rose Calloway says:

        Agreed 100%! If Martin’s goal was to make us do anything but laugh and cheer for that little POS, epic fail.

    • Stephen says:

      I agree. When I first saw Joffrey die in the show I literally cheered and applauded. By the time I read it in the book, it was no surprise, but I was still pleased by it. The character is a monster, a complete sadistic psychopath who brings nothing but misery to everyone around him. There is not a single redeeming aspect to him. I agree about GRRM making his villains really unsubtle, and I think it’s kind of a downside of his writing (for instance you wonder how House Bolton has survived this long when the entire house down through history seems to just be cartoonishly evil). But yeah, he’s made Joffrey into one of the most hateable characters in literature, and then we’re supposed to feel bad for him when he dies? It just doesn’t work.

  13. lluewhyn says:

    I think it’s still very open, but the events in the past few chapters do strike a vote for Joffrey being the one to tell Ser Mandon to kill Tyrion, or at least hint for him to do that. He is still stroking a huge grudge against Tyrion every chance he gets.

  14. Ser Erik, the Guilty Undertaker says:

    “Sansa wore a gown of silvery satin trimmed in vair, with dagged sleeves that almost touched the floor, lined in soft purple felt. Shae had arranged her hair artfully in a delicate silver net winking with dark purple gemstones.”

    Blink and you’ll miss it (and Tyrion does) but Sansa is (mostly) wearing the colors of House Stark here. She walks into a wedding celebrating the triumph of Houses Lannister and Tyrell over House Stark wearing Stark colors and no one seems to notice, yet from what we know of Sansa, I doubt this is a coincidence. Yet she’s also wearing Littlefinger’s hairnet, showing that she’s still caught in his net, so to speak.

    100% agree on the Tyrells not anticipating Tyrion being accused. Their main goal seems to have been to make it look like an accident, or at least not have it tied to them. It worked brilliantly too. No one, not Tywin, not Jaime, not Tyrion, and not even Cersei despite her suspecting the Tyrells of nearly everything else. I don’t think even the Tyrells could have anticipated how spectacularly the Lannisters would turn on each other in their moment of triumph.

  15. teageegeepea says:

    I’m going to reiterate my argument from Sansa IV that the evidence for Joffrey’s guilt is contradictory. And Jaime being unwilling to send men to kill for him is a retcon vs who he was in the first book. GRRM definitely wants to resolve the mystery here, but it turns out to be poorly written & unconvincing.

    We don’t know what the Tyrell’s specific plans for Tyrion were, and perhaps they really did assume he’d be off leading a host after his defense of the Blackwater, but Olenna certainly wouldn’t have told Tyrion then he’d be imprisoned for assassinating Joffrey. If they DID plan on framing Tyrion (which might be more an LF plan), Garlan buttering up Tyrion would make Tyrion suspect him less.

    I don’t feel bad that Joffrey died, even in that way, but it is unfortunate he was never explicitly punished for the awful things he did and that none of his actual victims got the satisfaction of revenge.

    • Grant says:

      Seems to me there’s a difference between an open attack in a feud and a secret murder to cover up a political fissure the size of the San Andreas fault, and Jaime would definitely know not to use weapons that would probably lead back to the royal family whereas Joffrey was a clumsy and stupid violent brat.

  16. teageegeepea says:

    Why are this and the previous post uncategorized? The category tags have been quite helpful in going back through other chapters.

  17. Rake says:

    As I said in another comment I didn’t feel bad about Joffrey’s death, if Martin tried it he couldn’t do it with me (and many other people), the truth is that Joffrey’s behavior in this chapter is extremely repulsive and seeing what he does did throughout the books his death is cathartic, in this chapter we find out that he tried to kill an innocent child for no apparent reason, besides hurting and causing the death of another child in the first book, for me Joffrey is like Ramsay, they both deserve to be slaughtered like the monsters they are (hope Martin doesn’t try to make readers feel bad for Ramsay, even D&D knew this was a bad idea).

    I also don’t feel bad for Joffrey’s family for seeing him die helplessly, Tywin was responsible for another mother being in this situation at another wedding a few chapters ago, he also made his own son watch (and participate in) a rape collective, I don’t feel bad for him. I don’t feel bad for Cersei either, she’s getting what she did to several other mothers whose children she had murdered, in addition to all the other horrible things she’s done. In that I agree with Sean, my empathy goes to the victims of the Lannisters.

    I also won’t feel bad if the guests die, they saw someone being the victim of public humiliation and were being complicit in it.

    I like to imagine how Tywin felt to see Joffrey’s death, after he planned to kill Robb in violation of a sacred custom his grandson is killed the same way he never thought a Lannister could be a victim of it.

    The people of King’s Landing are strange, now they celebrate the victory of the Lannisters but in the fourth book they will remember that they must hate the Lannisters.

    I find it strange that Tywin had fun with the dwarves, in the fifth book we found out that he hates dwarfs (maybe because of Tyrion) but here he has fun with them, maybe because of the mockery with Robb and Stannis, but I think he also enjoys amuses Tyrion being publicly humiliated, the problem is that Tyrion is a Lannister and even if Tywin hates him I would think he would still mind a Lannister being publicly humiliated, sometimes I wonder if Tywin really cares that much about House Lannister , maybe this is just an excuse to get more power for himself instead of the Lannisters in general.

    I didn’t like that Sansa praised Lancel, he slandered Robb and helped Joffrey humiliate her (to the point where her clothes were torn), he didn’t deserve any praise and kindness from her.

    The fact that Joffrey singles out House Lannister rather than House Baratheon proves that no one there really cares about the legitimacy of his rule, in fact I think of all the war participants only Stannis cared about the legitimacy. But the fact that Olenna suddenly mentions that Tommen must wear the Baratheon colors in the fourth book is weird, she doesn’t mind this wedding, because it’s important next wedding?

    • teageegeepea says:

      Sansa was a guest. Would you be saddened if she died, since she also witnessed a humiliation?

      If Olenna was already planning on killing Joffrey, then she doesn’t need to care that much about the legitimacy of his wedding.

      • Rake says:

        Unlike the other guests Sansa was not amused by Tyrion’s humiliation (after all her brother was also mocked by the guests).

        As for Olenna, I would say that supporting Renly and the Lannisters shows that the Tyrells don’t care about the legitimacy of the rule, I would say that after the deaths of Joffrey and Tywin the Lannister rule started to destabilize, so show that the rule is legitimate. has become more important, the Tyrells are already tied to the Lannisters and after all it would be hard for any candidate for the throne to trust the Tyrells.

  18. dai y says:

    This passage is FASCINATING to me:

    [ Margaery Tyrell began to sob, and Tyrion heard her mother Lady Alerie saying, “He choked, sweetling. He choked on the pie. It was naught to do with you. He choked. We all saw.”

    “He did not choke.” Cersei’s voice was sharp as Ser Ilyn’s sword. “My son was poisoned.” She looked to the white knights standing helplessly around her. “Kingsguard, do your duty.”

    “My lady?” said Ser Loras Tyrell, uncertain. ]

    Imagine what must be going through the heads of the Tyrells in this moment. 😂 This is also an early “salting” of Cersei’s future POV arcs, as her paranoia simultaneously leads her startlingly close to the truth while also causing her to leap to the wrong conclusion.

  19. Humphrey Bogan says:

    On the first hypothetical “Sansa doesn’t go to the wedding?”: how would Joffrey get murdered in this case? Would the Tyrells have a backup plan without Sansa’s hair net?

  20. Fabrizio Di Prinzio says:

    It’s a shame you retired the books vs show section because I would have liked to see what you had to say about this chapter. Joffrey’s death was a chilling scene in the show that was perfectly acted imo. And there are a lot of brilliant scenes from the last third of Storm still coming

  21. Roger says:

    I think, for once, it’s unfair to accuse Joffrey of cowardice at Blackwater… He only left the battle becouse Cersei’s men forced him to retreat. Before that he was enjoying the carnage . And even showed some hints of brave behaviour, like showing the men how to operate a crossbow and telling them to be brave.

    • teageegeepea says:

      I thought the scene of him leaving in the show was one of the very few that showed him to have any amount of complexity. He knows that leaving is wrong by his own standards of bravery, and when he asks Tyrion “What would you have me do?”, it’s because he genuinely wants the approval of someone he’s never gotten along with but who can understand his position.

      • Roger says:

        That’s an interesting commentary. Joffrey is a teenager, after all, and all teenager wants to find some adult acceptance. Sadly, Joffrey referents were Robert Baratheon (at his lowest point) and Sandor Clegane.

  22. rando says:

    1. About Olenna regarding Tyrion : you seems to take her on face value, and not lying through her teeth. Note that the “lead an army” could be a dig at his disability.
    2. About Garlan – remember that he took the time to comfort Sansa at her wedding, when the rest of the Tyrells dropped her. Costs nothing to be nice for a moment, y’know?
    3. Did the Tyrells planned to frame Tyrion? Well, they have nothing personal against him (aside from making Sansa a widow) – but they might feel the need to frame someone. Thing is, Littlefinger does have a beef with Tyrion.
    4. And lastly, the cudgel of empathy – I think it falls a bit short for two reasons.
    One is the “why” – what has the character done to get this punishment? And while for other times in this series it’s things like “cause he’s fallen captive by the literal worst”, without concern for the crimes we hate the person for, the main reason Joffrey’s marked is (besides murdering smallfolk, or tormenting his uncle) his abuse of his Sansa, his bethroded ; and the Tyrells desire for this to not happen to their daughter.
    Thus, he reaped what he sowed, in that regard.
    Second is the “what did it accomplish?” – okay, so you punished someone. Then what? Did it improve something?
    Theon’s torture managed nothing but self-gratification of a monster ; Cersei’s walk of shame satisfied a misogynistic desire to punish a woman for “stepping out of line”, but nothing about her actual crimes.
    But here? The killers wanted Joffrey to not be terrible ; they managed. He ain’t gonna abuse anyone no more. And while not a pretty way to go, it doesn’t go out of it way to be cruel.
    So, while there is a sense of empathy for a kid whose dying in fear, and his mother crying over him ; but the sense of “this is karmic justice” is greater. Sorry it had to go this way ; can’t see a better option.

    • Renata says:

      I agree.

    • Stephen says:

      Well said. The alternative was to allow Joffrey to continue to terrorize people, which would have led to a lot more suffering and death. Sansa in particular he had already marked for more torture in the future. What’s worse, that somebody puts an end to this psychopath’s reign of terror, or that he continue to be allowed to terrorize because he’s young?

  23. JG says:

    “Tyrion heard her mother Lady Alerie saying, ‘He choked, sweetling. He choked on the pie. It was naught to do with you. He choked. We all saw.’

    Given Alerie is directly saying what GRRM did, it seems like she was in on it too.

  24. Renata says:

    What if Joffrey accidentally dropped the chalice with the purple strangler? In that case, Tyrion would be forced to refill the chalice, only this time with unpoisoned wine. Joffrey would drink the wine and nothing bad would happen to him. After all, at that moment, Lady Ollena would no longer be able to get more poison out of Sansa’s hair, because the women would only meet together in the bedding ceremony. At the bedding ceremony, Sansa would immediately seize the opportunity to flee, giving no one a chance to approach her (or spot her, I bet). The next day, the headlines of the kingdom would be: the marriage was a success, the young king gained a beautiful wife, while the Imp lost his (because the northern girl, still a virgin, disappeared as if by magic). And no one but Littlefinger and the Tyrells would know of the attempted poisoning.

    • Renata says:

      In that case, Tyrion would not be unjustly convicted, nor pushed to the point of commiting parricide. But the public reaction to these new events would turn into a new and intermittent source of humiliation for him. The ableist and patriarchal society of Westeros would see the Sansa’s successful escape, as well as the open secret of her virginity, as evidence of Tyrion’s lack of masculinity and even stupidity.

  25. Manuel S says:

    Good essay as always, though it could’ve been even longer with the Ilyn Payne stuff and other details you omitted. The longer the better, but I’m not complaining. It’s just that when a new one comes up, I know I’m going to have some really nice reading material if a long, inconsequential day at work is ahead. 🙂

    I always thought that, contrary to her show counterpart, Margaery was never so detached or as good an actress so as to fake the “I’m twice a widow at sixteen and everyone’s going to believe I’m cursed” tears that so easily could be real in her situation.

    Is there a way that her family could’ve protected her from getting poisoned without letting her be actually in on the scheme? Maybe by telling her “don’t drink from the same cup as Joffrey. He might have herpes”? LOL

    • lluewhyn says:

      There’s an extreme risk of her getting poisoned if she’s not aware. Anything that they do to try to mitigate that risk (trying to conspicuously grab her attention to pull away from Joffrey so she’s nowhere near might look more suspicious. It’s doable, but risky.

    • Grant says:

      We know that she would have ignored that advice because drinking from the same cup is part of the marriage ceremony, but regardless between Sansa’s warning about Joffrey and Margaery seeming pretty intelligent, she’d have to be wondering just why her family doesn’t seem worried about her impending marriage to a psychopath.

  26. Keelah Rose Calloway says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention Tyrion taking the cup and dumping the contents on the ground. Isn’t that the most damning piece of evidence against him? It prevented the contents of the cup from being analyzed and it’s still really weird that he chose to do it since he’s innocent.

  27. jasonneighbors1969 says:

    Why was it necessary for Sansa to even be involved with the hairnet? In the same fashion that secret communications/instructions made their way to Olenna from Littlefinger, it seems the poison “stone” could have passed to her the same way. Seems kind of risky, like what if something happened to the hairnet or Sansa forgets to wear it or something. Does Littlefinger ever reveal the reasoning? I don’t remember.

    • Sean C. says:

      He doesn’t. But for the Tyrells it was about having Sansa as the fall guy if the “choking” cover story wasn’t accepted.

    • lluewhyn says:

      We know Littlefinger’s reasoning in that he wants to make Sansa think she’s culpable in Joffrey’s murder so to make her more easy to manipulate. There’s no explanation for why the Tyrells sign off on this plan, since it seems like it would add an unnecessary variable. As you said, if Sansa doesn’t wear the hairnet, their whole plan is screwed which means Margaery is in real danger. Just a bit of Doylism I suppose.

  28. Hi Steven! Huge fan of your analysis! Can you please tell me how to read chapters 61 and others? Can’t seem to open the links. Thanks!

  29. […] Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Tyrion VIII, ASOS […]

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