Saturday, June 27, 2009

Catelyn • Jon

Catelyn is upset that Lysa consented to Tyrion's trial by combat. Arresting Tyrion was a huge gamble, resulting in the death of several of Winterfell men, Eddard’s injury, and near war with the Lannisters. Now, it might all be for nothing because of Lysa’s stubbornness and stupidity. Also, isn’t Tyrion on trial for two separate crimes? Shouldn’t he have to go through two trials to fully vindicate himself from Jon Arryn’s death and the attempt on Bran? Does this TBC completely clear him of all charges? If that’s the case, Tyrion might as well commit a few more murders before the TBC starts.

Lysa and her knights seem quite sure Ser Vardis will win, since LeBronn went straight from high school to sellsword, skipping Knight College. However, men that fight for money are usually (a) very good at fighting and (b) very self-interested. While Bronn is obviously doing this to score points with Tyrion, he’s not going to throw away his life recklessly. Obviously Bronn thinks he will beat Vardis, or he wouldn’t have volunteered.

After wearing out the older and dumber Vardis, Bronn wins the TBC. Tyrion is innocent! Little Robert Arryn, who grows more annoying every chapter, freaks out and wants to execute Tyrion anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, the rulers of the Vale: a weak, breast milk sucking kid with no sense of justice, and a fat, paranoid, stupid widow who falsely accuses people of murder. Because the gods judged Tyrion innocent, Lysa is forced to allow him and Bronn to leave the Eyrie. However, she has them take the mountain clan infested high road. Tyrion doesn’t seem to mind, probably because anything is better than being chucked off a cliff.

Jon Snow and his merry men are finally out from under Ser Alliser’s boot. The guest speaker at their graduation is Ser Alliser himself, who inspires them with motivational truths like “when the winter comes you will die like flies.” They have become brothers of the Night’s Watch, and now officially can’t own lands or have sex. The only person who is still in training from their group is Sam, who will no longer benefits from Jon's friendship and protection.

Jon's worried that pedo Thorne will start the Sam-spankings again, so he asks Maester Aemon if Sam can graduate anyway, arguing that Sam’s skills at math and reading are far better suited for a steward than for a ranger. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with Aemon’s current steward Chett, who is as ugly as Sam is fat. The Night’s Watch should really have an admissions office that determines specialization for the new recruits. For example, the thieves should not be put in charge of the treasury, the rapists should not be near women, and fat softies like Sam should be given some sort of desk job. Then again, maybe we shouldn’t expect that level of efficiency from the guys who thought it’d be a good idea to build a 700-foot wall that’s only used once every thousand years.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tyrion • Eddard

The "sky cells" are probably the most horrifying yet awesome thing about the Eyrie. Instead of a prison wall, it has an open 600 foot drop with a slightly slanted floor. and the floor is slightly slanted -- feel free to escape. I love how Martin uses language, culture, and land features to greatly distinguish each geographical area in Westeros. The Vale is straight out of the 1960's: their motto is "high as honor," their bastards are stoners, and everything about their castles, from the vertigo-inducing journey to the wall-less cells, makes the entire ordeal seem like one gigantic acid trip. This includes the breast milk chugging sickly child lord and the fat, illiterate jailer named Mord, who I desperately wish had his own POV. "Not give angry dwarf-man beans today. Tomorrow, also not give beans."

Tyrion isn't the most humble prisoner, and his sharp tongue provokes Lysa into throwing him in a sky cell. Tyrion gets out by faking a confession and instead demanding a trial. Unfortunately, crazy little Robert Arryn is the judge, which means nine times out of ten, people are chucked out the moon door regardless of guilt or innocence. But Tyrion has one last trick up his sleeve, demanding trial by combat. Apparently, TBC means you or your champion fights one-on-one with someone, and your fate is decided based on the results of the fight. It doesn't matter whether you committed the crime or how many people saw you do it. Does this mean that GREGOR basically can never be found guilty of a crime? If he gets accused of anything, he can just demand trial by combat, kill one guy, and he's free? Does it really work this way? Murder someone? Trial by combat. Rob a bank? Trial by combat. Parking ticket? Trial by combat. It's essentially a perpetual, personalized get GREGOR out of jail free card.

When Tyrion requests TBC, Lysa and her knights laugh, because he's the anti-GREGOR: small, clever, and non-threatening. Despite Tyrion's vast battle experience consisting of somersaulting off roofs, fork dueling master-at-arms, and axing mountain clansmen, he clearly is no match for one of Lysa's knights. Tyrion may not even be fit to fight, having eaten nothing for the past few days due to Mord's bean dumping. Lysa believes she has him cornered because his first choice champion is miles away in King's Landing, doing more important things like Hand-crippling and sister-screwing. However, Tyrion's new BFF Bronn steps up to be his champion.

Eddard is comatose due to his broken leg, and dreams about his past rescue of Lyanna. I'm sure it's a nice dream and these characters are all very compelling, but I just want to know what happens in King's Landing after Jaime jumped Eddard outside the brothel. After the fight, Jaime fled the city, and everyone now knows that Catelyn captured Tyrion. Cersei is insulted that the Starks would dare arrest a Lannister, even though she and Jaime are responsible for pushing Bran out a window and subsequently sending an assassin to kill him. How dare Eddard "attack" Jaime while returning "drunk from a brothel." Getting wasted and violently attacking a rival house does not sound like an ordinary Eddard Stark Wednesday night. Much like the Arya-Joffrey incident, it is very clear who is telling the truth.

Cersei continues ranting about Robert's his bromance with Eddard, suggesting that Bob should be the one wearing skirts. She might actually be right, as a skirt would be more comfortable for fat guy who outgrew his armor. Instead of taking her fashion advice, Bob snaps and backhands her across the face. Applying Cersei's own logic, how dare she attack his hand with her face? Eddard reiterates his desire to quit, but Robert commands him to stay as Hand. Why does Bob insist Eddard be Hand if he never listens to his advice? Still, the position has its perks -- you get front row tickets to Robert "honoring" Cersei.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Daenerys • Bran

Dany finally arrives at Vaes Dothrak. It's funny that the Dothraki are so skilled at riding and conquering, yet suck so badly at basic things like building huts. Eddard and Robert must be closet Dothraki, because they are also great at straightforward conflicts but are equally horrible at politics and finesse. I wonder what crime Jorah committed that caused Eddard to send him into exile. Is he really going to kill Dany? Why is he allowed to just travel with the Khalasar in the first place? It doesn't make sense that the Dothraki would just let some random white guy tag along with them so close to their leader. I also found it funny that in the old days, a Khal's bloodriders would share his wife, but never his horse. Dothraki hierarchy must be something like Crone > Khal > Bloodrider > Horse > Wife > Viserys.

While Dany is assimilating herself into the Dothraki culture, Viserys becomes more deluded every day. He's seen a joke by everyone in the Khalasar, only he doesn't know it. I'm curious how someone could grow up in such a way. For instance, Joffrey's personality is understandable given his upbringing, but Viserys grew up poor and in exile. MC Illyrio must have really spoiled him for Viserys to develop his extreme sense of entitlement and gigantic superiority complex. Even the most bratty kids can be cowed somewhat, but nobody ever gave Viserys the advice he really needed, and now he's beyond the point of rehabilitation. When Dany brings him gifts, Viserys flips out, because he simply doesn't know how to be anything but a gigantic douche, even for just five minutes. That's the biggest difference between him and the Joffrey: Viserys can't even pretend to be nice. That and he doesn't have a powerful support system around him. Dany finally stands up to him, and it must have been a very cathartic experience, because she suddenly starts talking weirdly to her dragon eggs. Maybe she should sit on them?

Things aren't going very well for Stark brothers. Their uncle is missing, their father is wounded and comatose, and their mother arrested a perfectly innocent dwarf. Bran still can't remember that Jaime pushed him off that window balcony, and Robb is faced with many difficult decisions as the acting Lord of Winterfell. Catelyn probably left him a nice reminder list: 1) Post a guard outside Bran's room, 2) Lannisters are not to be trusted, and 3) If you go riding with your cripple brother, do not leave him alone by a river. Robb unfortunately forgets rule three and leaves Bran by himself to go find the direwolves. As if on cue, Bran immediately gets captured by bandits. He may be the unluckiest kid ever, because the two times he's been left alone in this book, he's managed to suffer a debilitating accident and become involved in a hostage situation.

Robb finally returns, and the hostage negotiations begin. After much deliberation, the bandits decide to reject Robb's initial offer of a quick and painless death in exchange for surrender. A battle ensues, with huge magical wolves on one side and ordinary outlaws on the other, resulting in a lot of blood, guts, and chewed up outlaws. One of the men holds a knife to Bran's throat, but Theon arrives and takes him out with an arrow. As thanks, Theon gets an earful of stern Robb lecturing, because shooting a criminal with an arrow is far more risky than leaving your vulnerable crippled brother unattended.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Catelyn • Eddard

After a perilous journey, Catelyn finally arrives at the Vale of Arryn. Her sister’s castle has more levels of security than Fort Knox, and is an acrophobic nightmare of cracking spiral steps, narrow windy bridges, and sickeningly steep ascents. It takes Catelyn days to reach the top, ironically guided by bastard girl Mya Stone. When Catelyn has a vertigo freeze up on the mountain crossing, Mya was there to help her. See Cat? Bastards aren’t all evil. I predict in a few chapters, Martin is going to reveal that Cat herself is a bastard, and we’re going to get one of those great “Noooooooo!” screams.

Catelyn chats with her uncle Brynden the Blackfish, who to my great disappointment is not actually black. After some more climbing, she finally meets her sister at the Eyrie. To quote Martin, Lysa Tully has become “thick of body” and “pale of face,” which is a nice way of saying she’s a fatty who never leaves the house. Martin must have realized the lack of creepiness in this chapter, because everything was totally normal until Lysa suddenly whips out a boob for her six year old son to suck on. In the wake of Jon Arryn’s death, Lysa has become a paranoid, overprotective, crazy woman. Traumatic family incidents tend to do that to people. Just ask Catelyn, who kidnapped the son of a powerful house for a crime he didn’t commit. Ladies and gentlemen, the Tullys: no incest, but horrifically bad decision making nonetheless.

We see the consequences of Cat’s action immediately. Jaime Lannister confronts Eddard and Littlefinger outside a brothel, and he’s quite pissed about Tyrion’s disappearance. If Eddard was clever, he’d say “Mr. Lannister, I do not know the whereabouts of your brother, but I might have more information in a few hours, when I will have more than two guys with me.” Instead, Eddard predictably answers “Of course I arrested that stupid dwarf,” which results in a very one-sided fight, a very broken leg, and a very dead Jory.

The shit really hit the fan this chapter. I wonder what Jaime’s reasoning was behind wounding Eddard and killing his men. I doubt it would actually help Tyrion, because when Catelyn hears about this, the poor dwarf is going to get tortured even more. If that’s the case, why didn’t Jaime capture Ned and trade him for Tyrion later? Because he’s Jaime Lannister, man of action, whose strongest trait was never thoughtful planning. The Starks and Lannisters are now at each other's throats, just like Varys predicted.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Arya • Eddard

Syrio told Arya to chase cats all day. This seems like very obvious foreshadowing, so maybe Catelyn gets kidnapped in the mountains and Arya has to find her. Arya had just caught the Moby Dick of cats, the infamous black tom, when she suddenly sees Prince Tommen and Princess Myrcella having sex. Before Arya could hide, Myrcella spots her. Tommen says “the things I do for love” and pushes Arya out the window. Somewhere in the distance, a wolf was howling. Crows circled the Red Keep, waiting for corn.

Myrcella, Tommen, and their guards, being typical pompous highborn assholes, mistake Arya for a beggar and collectively look down on her. Arya panics and escapes via waterdancing, but quickly gets lost in the castle. This allows her to overhear a conversation between two mysterious men, with topics ranging from Dany being pregnant to the possible assassination of her father. One of the men is Varys, because he talks about obtaining fifty more magical CIA surveillance birds. I have no idea about the other guy, but he is also familiar with King’s Landing politics. From the names they mentioned in the conversation, the other guy cannot be Eddard, Stannis, Lysa, Loras, Littlefinger, Tyrion, Tywin, or Jaime. I believe this guy is the mastermind in the game of thrones. Everyone else is just a pawn. Based on exhaustive analysis, I have concluded that this man is GREGOR.

Eventually Arya finds her way back but Eddard does not believe her story, even though Arya doesn't seem like the type to just lie and make stuff up. In other words, she’s not Sansa. Listen to your wise and awesome daughter, you stupid Hand.

Jorah the mole reports that Dany married The Rock and is pregnant with Rhaegar 2.0. F├╝hrer Bob has a final solution to the Targaryen problem, but Eddard protests because he feels squeamish about killing children. Even though Eddard admirably champions his principles, when it comes to the Targaryens, Robert is as difficult to budge ideologically as he is physically. Bob has a point, because letting Dany and her son live would be taking a stupid, unnecessary risk. The council agrees and begins discussing possible assassination methods. Robert doesn't want to poison her, because it would be too cowardly. So there exists some sort of courage scale in King Bob's head where "poisoning" ranks lower than "killing the unborn child of a teenage girl."

Child murder proves to be the deal breaker for Eddard, who resigns his position as Hand. The bromance between Ned and Bob is over. Eddard came south, picked up the pieces to a huge, confusing puzzle, and failed miserably at putting it together. Now, he's finally free. The Starks are headed back north, where they will arrive at Winterfell happy and rested. Eddard will discover that Catelyn and Jon have also returned, and have grown to love each other like only a mother and an illegitimate bastard son of a nother woman can. There's no violence or fighting. It's just one big happy family reunion.

Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords are just very, very misleading titles.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Eddard • Tyrion

Eddard watches Sandor beat Jaime in the tourney semifinals, much to the delight of Sansa the dog whisperer. Before the second match we get some juicy Gregor back story. Basically, the dude is a cross between Hulk and Satan. He's extremely large, strong, and angry. He kills infants, rapes princesses, and burns faces. Everything around him dies in mysterious fashion, including his wife, his father, and his sister. Despite his evilness, Gregor is also a hilarious, over the top character that deserves his own television show. It would be awesome if there was a reality show that followed Gregor around during common rage scenarios, like waiting in line at the post office or getting stuck in traffic. Or maybe a talk show like Oprah or Geraldo except titled GREGOR, where every day one unlucky guest is brutally beaten to death.

Gregor’s opponent is Loras, who is basically a jousting boy band singer, complete with gem-encrusted clothing and a sleek, effeminate body. He’s the Leonardo DiCaprio of knights, hated by guys and loved by teen girls. Fortunately for him, it seems like 99% of females in Martin’s book are under the age of eighteen, so his Q-rating is through the roof. The match seems like David versus Goliath, except this time David has a mare in heat instead of a slingshot and stone. Loras uses his horse’s smelly vagina to drive Gregor’s stallion into a horny frenzy, winning him the joust. Gregor does not like being tricked, because GREGOR SMASH. But Sandor surprisingly steps in to save the kid from an imminent Gregor-induced death, and Loras concedes the finals as a thank you.

Later that night Varys secretly visits Eddard to tell him of the Lannister plot to assassinate King Bob during the melee. Eddard talks Robert out of participating, but Cersei and her cronies will try again. It’s up to Eddard to save King Bob and take down the evil Lannisters, but he has no idea what to do. Robert continues to be dumb and clueless -- he couldn’t save Jon Arryn and can’t really help Eddard now.

Tyrion is very unlucky. He’s been hanging out at the freezing cold wall, and on his way back he gets arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. On their way to the Vale, Tyrion repeatedly tries to convince everyone that he was not behind the attempt on Bran. We learn that he would never bet against his family so he couldn’t have won the dagger, and that Littlefinger is a big selfish liar. How to get your dream girl: (1) lose to her future husband in single combat, (2) boast about taking her virginity, and (3) creepily touch her daughter. Bullet-proof plan, Petyr.

The journey is filled with rough terrain, horse eating, and dangerous mountain clans. They are attacked, and Tyrion surprisingly fares quite well in his first battle, probably because he is the perfect height to club a guy in the balls. After they win, Bronn proclaims that Tyrion needs a woman, because there's “nothing like a woman after a man’s been blooded.” Tyrion should totally proposition Cat for a quickie, though for her to agree, she’d have to be super drunk, have amnesia, and pick up a dwarf fetish. No harm in trying though. Will Cat eventually be convinced of Tyrion’s innocence? What’s going to happen to Tyrion once they reach their destination? If I wanted to frame Tyrion, I’d send another assassin, armed with another one of Tyrion’s super recognizable daggers, only this time to the Vale to try to kill Lysa’s son. That’d probably clinch it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Catelyn • Sansa

Catelyn and Ser Rod travel north in secret. They are prissy high society folks, so they risk staying at an inn instead of camping by the road. It’s not a five star place, but it’s completely filled due to all the travelers going to King’s Landing for the tournament. The inn has a deafening dinner bell, a shoe polishing kid, and singers that solicit for money. Catelyn and Roddy were inconspicuously minding their own business when Tyrion suddenly walks in. The annoying singer draws his attention, and Tyrion quickly recognizes Cat. Since this is Catelyn’s old neighborhood, everyone knows that she is the daughter of the most important lord in the area. So when she asks for help arresting Tyrion, everyone draws their swords. 

I hope Tyrion kept the receipt for that cripple-saddle. He’s very unlucky to have picked this particular inn. Why would he so readily greet Catelyn if he sent the assassin? It seems even more likely that Jaime and Cersei moved against Bran and set up their brother to take the fall. Is Cat really just going to take him back to Winterfell and execute him? Before she does that she should send a raven to Jon Snow with a letter that reads “I arrested your dwarf friend, he’s going on trial for murder. It should have been you.” 

Last time in Sansa’s first chapter, Martin cleverly disguised her inherent boringness by having Arya and Joffrey drive the action. This time, she attends a tournament where dozens of new characters are introduced. At this rate, the third Sansa chapter will be set in the middle of circus, battle, or hurricane. We see all the action at the Hand's Tourney through Sansa's eyes. She observes that the southern knights look better, and they seem to joust better too, as Jory is the only northerner to make it out of the first round. Who cares about jousting anyway? Everyone knows that wolf-raising, midnight ranging, and deserter executing are far more useful skills.

Because Sandor’s burned face and nonchalant murders aren’t scary enough, we meet his brother Gregor, who is armed with even more size, strength, and brutality. He even has a more goon-ish name. Martin should always write his name in caps. GREGOR. Both Cleganes make the final four of the tournament, along with Jaime and the “Knight of Flowers” Loras Tyrell, who gives a red rose to Sansa. She’s instantly smitten by his metrosexual charm, but the moment is ruined by weirdo pedo Littlefinger. He creepily introduces himself and strokes her face, but stops short of asking for a lock of hair or some toenail clippings.

Sansa is happy because Joffrey is nice to her during dinner. Joffrey predicts Loras will lose to Sandor or Jaime, and that when he is old enough he’ll win all the jousts, assuming Arya never enters. At the end of the night, drunk Sandor takes Sansa home, and they share an intimate moment -- if intimate moment actually meant terrifying therapy session. Sandor has some serious issues, but opens up and reveals to his new shrink Sansa that his face was burned by his brother. In a refreshing take on doctor-patient confidentiality, Sandor threatens Sansa with death if she ever reveals what he said. 

PS -- can you imagine a Gregor POV? “Sandor take Gregor toy Gregor burn Sandor head.”