If I needed someone to throw a bachelor party, Khal Drogo would be my first choice, Tyrion Lannister second, and Eddard Stark dead last. Robert is having his midlife crisis -- he just wants to bang a tavern wench or assassinate a dragon, and Eddard keeps shooting him down. Snow and hardship made Lord Stark stoic and wise, but it also turned him into a wet blanket. If Robert wants to kill kids, let him. In Martin’s world, kids are treated like adults -- Jon gave a kid a sword, Drogo married one, and Jaime pushed one off a ledge.
Eddard disagrees with a lot of what Robert says and does, and would rather be back in Winterfell. Instead, he’s trudging south with a caravan composed of people he can’t trust and a King who won’t listen. It sucks, but it could be worse -- at least he’s not Jon Arryn.
Tyrion suffers through the bone chilling trip to the Wall, and stops to read about dragonbone. I had thought Viserys and Dany were calling themselves “dragons” metaphorically -- I didn't know that dragons actually existed. Perhaps my surprise was a result of the distinct lack of wizards and magic so far in these books. Sure there are mythical creatures, like the Others or the direwolves, but a flying, fire-breathing dragon seems out of place right now in the universe Martin has created. Usually, most fantasy stories have some sort of wizard throwing lightning bolts by now.
Tyrion and Jon bond some more. I like that Martin wrote these two with such noticeable, important flaws. Every character has flaws, but unlike Robert who can stop eating cupcakes or Cersei who can stop doing her brother, Tyrion and Jon cannot choose to stop being a dwarf or a bastard. Tyrion chose to go north, and he seems far more like a Stark than a Lannister. He and Sansa should just switch families.