Stuart Reads A Game of Thrones – Chapter 12

Don't worry, I don't smoke soap bubbles in real life. That would be silly.

Chapter 12 – Eddard

Back to Lord Stark, soon to be the Hand of the King, yes? This isn’t surprising. I expected we would return to Ned’s perspective after that last foray into Dany’s mind. I’m assuming the Starks are on their way south now, or perhaps already at their destination.

Wait. Um. Actually, I have no idea what’s going on here. Eddard’s in a tent, King Robert wakes him up — okay, I thought this was a flashback for minute. They’re on the road, and the king wants to speak privately with his new Hand, so they ride away from the camp. For some reason Robert starts asking personal questions:

[quote]”What was her name, that common girl of yours? Becca? No, she was one of mine, gods love her, black hair and those sweet big eyes, you could drown in them . . . Was it Merryl? You know the one I mean, your bastard’s mother?”

“Her name was Wylla,” Ned replied with cool courtesy, “and I would sooner not speak of her.”[/quote]

Ooh, Jon Snow backstory. Tell me more.

Alas, Eddard is extremely reticent about revealing details of whoever “Wylla” was, even to his king, so they drop the subject.

[quote]A wide plain spread out beneath them, bare and brown, its flatness here and there relieved by long, low hummocks. Ned pointed them out to his king. “The barrows of the First Men.”

Robert frowned. “Have we ridden onto a graveyard?”

“There are barrows everywhere in the north, Your Grace,” Ned told him. “This land is old.”[/quote]

So they’re clearly still in Winterfell, then, since everything’s ugly and spooky and freezing. But it’s also mystical — I don’t really want to give up on this location, so I’m glad that some POVs are staying here. In the meantime, King Robert has brought Ned away from the open ears of their camp because he received a message in the night and wants his opinion on it.

Apparently the message comes from King’s Landing, which must be their destination, and it was sent by someone called Lord Varys the Eunuch, the king’s “master of whisperers,” who once served Mad King Targaryen. First of all, why in the name of Gandalf does it matter whether or not the dude’s a eunuch? Second, “master of whisperers” sounds to me like the head of a spy agency, so that explains why the king is treating this message so delicately. Third, did this guy really switch sides so easily? That’s suspicious to me.

[quote]Ned unrolled the paper with trepidation, thinking of Lysa and her terrible accusation, but the message did not concern Lady Arryn. “What is the source for this information?”

“Do you remember Ser Jorah Mormont?”[/quote]

. . . Wait, isn’t that the exiled guy who pledged himself to Dany and Vissy for no good reas — OMG.

He’s a spy? Why didn’t I think of that? Ugh, this is at least the second time I’ve passed over an odd little sentence without considering the possibility of a nefarious motivation. Feeling stupid again. This message probably concerns Dany’s wedding, doesn’t it?

Yep, it totally does. Ned doesn’t care about this information, but King Robert possesses an unnaturally strong hatred for all the Targaryens. I’m not 100% sure, but Robert seems to want to order Ser Jorah Mormont to assassinate Dany before she can birth more Targaryens. Eddard is rather horrified by this idea:

[quote]”Your Grace, the girl is scarcely more than a child . . . the murder of children . . . it would be vile . . . unspeakable . . .”

“Unspeakable?” the king roared. “What Aerys did to your brother Brandon was unspeakable. The way your lord father died, that was unspeakable . . . I will kill every Targaryen I can get my hands on, until they are as dead as their dragons, and then I will piss on their graves.”[/quote]

Yikes. I mean, I like this, but yikes, Robert. I guess I was half-right about Robert’s plan: he wants to assassinate Dany, but he’s aware that he can’t possibly get anybody close enough to kill her when she’s surrounded by Dothraki. He fears Dany and Vissy will use the Dothraki to attack Westeros and, well, that is Vissy’s plan, but Eddard lays out some hard logic to put those fears down:

[quote]”The barbarians have no ships. They hate and fear the open sea.”[/quote]

Is that true? I don’t remember this being mentioned in either of the two Dany chapters, but if it is true, then Vissy’s evil scheme will fall apart on itself. That’s pretty relieving — Vissy is clearly too insane to think things through — but I bet this will come to war eventually anyway. Somehow, the Dothraki are probably going to be sent into Westeros. It wouldn’t be a fantasy epic without an epic battle, right?

Hmm, the king is still uncomfortable, so now Eddard is advising him to install a new Warden of the East. (I assume said Warden commands the navy or protects their shores from invaders.) The king becomes even more uncomfortable, and Eddard guesses he’s already installed a new Warden of the East. I’m not sure why this is making them both tense up?

[quote]”It’s Jaime Lannister, is it not?”

Robert kicked his horse back into motion and started down the ridge toward the barrows. Ned kept pace with him. The king rode on, eyes straight ahead. “Yes,” he said at last. A single hard word to end the matter.[/quote]

Ah, I guess Eddard just really, really hates the Lannisters and is upset that Robert would give one of them such an important position. I mean, Jaime’s the incestuous, adulterous scumbag who tried to kill Bran . . . but Eddard can’t possibly know that. There must be more to this.

[quote]”An able and courageous man, no doubt,” [Ned] said carefully, “but his father is Warden of the West, Robert. In time Ser Jaime will succeed to that honor. No one man should hold both East and West.” He left unsaid his real concern; that the appointment would put half the armies of the realm into the hands of Lannisters.[/quote]

Oh. Oh. Yeah, that sounds like a pretty dangerous idea, Robert. (Especially considering the knowledge I have about Ser Jaime and the Queen that these characters don’t.)

There’s another side to it, too: apparently Ser Jaime used to be a sworn protector of Mad King Targaryen, but betrayed and murdered him to serve Robert. Eddard is naturally distrustful of such a man, believing him capable of a reverse-backstab, and he decides to share some information with Robert he’s been keeping from him. He reminds Robert how the Lannisters managed to kill Mad King Targaryen:

[quote]The war had raged for close to a year. Lords great and small had flocked to Robert’s banners; others had remained loyal to Targaryen. The mighty Lannisters of Casterly Rock, the Wardens of the West, had remained aloof from the struggle, ignoring calls to arms from both rebels and royalists. Aerys Targaryen must have thought that his gods had answered his prayers when Lord Tywin Lannister appeared before the gates of King’s Landing with an army twelve thousand strong, professing loyalty. So the mad king had ordered his last mad act. He had opened his city to the lions at the gate.[/quote]

Eddard continues and tells Robert how when he came to King’s Landing and found the place successfully overtaken by the Lannisters, he entered the throne room and saw Ser Jaime sitting upon the Iron Throne:

[quote]”I looked at him seated there on the throne, and I waited. At last Jaime laughed and got up. He took off his helm, and he said to me, ‘Have no fear, Stark. I was only keeping it warm for our friend Robert. It’s not a very comfortable seat, I’m afraid.'”

The king threw back his head and roared. His laughter startled a flight of crows from the tall brown grass. They took to the air in a wild beating of wings. “You think I should mistrust Lannister because he sat on my throne for a few moments?”[/quote]

Yeah, um, Ned, he’s kind of right. If I was the king this news would endear me to Jaime. Obviously, I know Ser Jaime really is a horrible person, but Eddard doesn’t know for sure, and his argument against the guy is pretty weak. I wish Eddard would share his knowledge of the Queen’s poisoning of Jon Arryn. Then again, without honest proof, the king couldn’t possibly believe that either. Hmm, quite a pickle.

A chapter-ending pickle.

Summary Time: Eddard Stark and his daughters have begun the journey to King’s Landing with King Robert and most of the Lannisters. Robert gets a secret message from his spies and tells Eddard of the two surviving Targaryens living across the sea among the barbaric Dothraki. He also tells Eddard he has appointed Ser Jaime Lannister, his brother-in-law, as the new Warden of the East, which terribly upsets Eddard, who is missing Winterfell already.

This was basically an info-dumping chapter, both for me and the characters. It was rather delightful to read about Eddard and King Robert learning of Dany’s existence and whereabouts. I’m a sucker for that kind of storytelling: two distinct and unrelated character groups are developed separately, then learn about each other. It will be a hundred times more thrilling if Eddard or Robert actually get to meet Dany, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon, if at all.

Ser Jaime is being developed into the central villain, it seems. Vissy’s bad news, of course, but he’s a relative small fry, while  Jaime is gaining more power with each chapter. I already knew he was a bad dude, but Eddard’s flashback to fifteen years ago implies Jaime has been itching for complete domination since he was a teenager. I’m afraid we’re going to get more of him and the Queen in the near future.

Eddard’s stoicism and levelheadedness is becoming quite likable, but now I’m starting to wonder why Sean Bean was cast in the role. I haven’t seen his performance, and I adore the actor, but he seems to always play very emotional, often vitriolic characters. Why cast him in this almost Mr. Spock-like role? Of course, Eddard has shown fierce emotion — his reaction to his mentor’s death, and later his reaction to the knowledge of said mentor’s poisoning stand out. I dunno. It’s not a nitpick, just a curiosity, and it really has nothing to do with the book.

See you next time and thanks for reading.


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