Stuart Reads A Game of Thrones – Chapter 21

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

Chapter 21 – Tyrion

Oh boy, it’s Tyrion. I’m crossing my fingers I’ll get either a confirmation of his part in Bran’s near-assassination or proof to the contrary. Maybe I’ll get an update on Jon?

“Are you certain that you must leave us so soon?” the Lord Commander asked him.

“Past certain, Lord Mormont,” Tyrion replied.

Or not. He’s leaving already? I mean, from an in-universe perspective he’s been away from home for nearly two months, but for me it was only a few chapters ago. I was kind of hoping he would have more to do up at the Wall.

Ser Alliser Thorne was the only man at table who did not so much as crack a smile. “Lannister mocks us.”

“Only you, Ser Alliser,” Tyrion said . . .

“You have a bold tongue for someone who is less than half a man. Perhaps you and I should visit the yard together.”

Oh yeah, I forgot about Ser Alliser. He was antagonizing Jon, too — does he just go around picking fights with POV characters?

I think Ser Alliser was serious about dueling Tyrion, but he manages to snark his way out of it. Once Alliser has left the room, Tyrion asks why the Night’s Watch keep such an odious buttface around. I hadn’t even considered that Ser Alliser was an annoyance to virtually everyone in the Black Keep — apparently he holds such a high position because he was an “anointed knight” during the old war.

“He fought bravely at King’s Landing.”

“On the wrong side,” Ser Jaremy Rykker commented dryly. “I ought to know, I was there on the battlements beside him. Tywin Lannister gave us a splendid choice. Take the black, or see our heads on spikes before evenfall. No offense intended, Tyrion.”

“None taken, Ser Jaremy. My father is very fond of spiked heads, especially those of people who have annoyed him in some fashion.”

Tywin Lannister has been mentioned a few times before. I wonder how large a part he plays in Queen Cersei’s schemes, if he plays one at all?

Tyrion has clearly made a few friends here in the Black Keep, which is awesome:

. . . “You have a great thirst for a small man.”

“Oh, I think that Lord Tyrion is quite a large man,” Maester Aemon said from the far end of the table. He spoke softly, yet the high officers of the Night’s Watch all fell quiet, the better to hear what the ancient had to say. “I think he is a giant come among us, here at the end of the world.”

Tyrion answered gently, “I’ve been called many things, my lord, but giant is seldom one of them.”

“Nonetheless,” Maester Aemon said as his clouded, milk-white eyes moved to Tyrion’s face, “I think it is true.”

For once, Tyrion Lannister found himself at a loss for words. He could only bow his head politely and say, “You are too kind, Maester Aemon.”

. . . “I have been called many things, my lord,” [Aemon] said, “but kind is seldom one of them.” This time Tyrion himself led the laughter.

Wonderful exchange, and yay for Tyrion! (Even if he’s really a murderer who would assassinate a comatose child.)

Later, the talk turns to Tyrion’s return trip, and Lord Mormont insists on an escort of three Night’s Watchmen to bring Tyrion safely to Winterfell. Tyrion suggests Jon join them (whoo!) but Lord Mormont shoots that down, declaring that Jon must have as little to do with Winterfell as possible from now on (aww).

And you know, it’s dawning on me how disturbing this is: Lord Mormont says that he hasn’t seen his family since he first joined the Night’s Watch and claims that Jon never will either. That’s awful. Hang on, but what about Benjen? He’s just as much a Night’s Watchman, but he returned home to party with his family earlier in the book. Hmm.

Anyway, Tyrion assumes that Lord Mormont will want repayment for the three escorts, and he turns out to be correct: the Night’s Watch is a shadow of what it used to be, and the lord asks Tyrion to speak with the king and the Lannisters to ask for aid. Tyrion promises to do so, but he leaves unspoken that he doesn’t expect anyone to heed his words.

Lord Mormont is, like, seriously worried about the world beyond the Wall, and he starts rambling about some crazy stuff out there, but Tyrion doesn’t believe him. Eventually he excuses himself, tired from all the alcohol he drank.

On his way back to his bedroom Tyrion is overcome with a desire to stand atop the Wall again, and I’m once again struggling to imagine the size of this thing. There are two methods for climbing the Wall: using the stairs, which criss-cross up the side, and a rudimentary cage-like elevator. Tyrion obviously chooses the elevator, and good grief is this place tall:

Then he was above the towers, still inching his way upward. Castle Black lay below him, etched in moonlight. You could see how stark and empty it was from up here; windowless keeps, crumbling walls, courtyards choked with broken stone. Farther off, he could see the lights of Mole’s Town, the little village half a league south along the kingsroad, and here and there the bright glitter of moonlight on water where icy streams descended from the mountain heights to cut across the plains. The rest of the world was a bleak emptiness of windswept hills and rocky fields spotted with snow.

This sounds gorgeous/freaky, but I’m expecting something bad to happen when Tyrion gets to the top. I don’t know why, it just seems like the sort of thing G.R.R.M would write. I suppose he has been getting a little predictable that way. But we’ll see.

Now Tyrion’s just trekking along the Wall and I’m afraid I’ll have to pull some more quotes from the book:

He looked off to the east and west, at the Wall stretching before him, a vast white road with no beginning and no end and a dark abyss on either side . . . He passed a massive catapult, as tall as a city wall, its base sunk deep into the Wall. The throwing arm had been taken off for repairs and then forgotten; it lay there like a broken toy, half-embedded in the ice.

GAAAAAHH I love ruins so much and also mechanical ruins and this just sounds incredible.

I’m sorely tempted to look up a screencap from the TV show or fanart or something. For now I’ll just choke on my own tears and wait for Ian to whip something up.

On the far side of the catapult, a muffled voice called out a challenge. “Who goes there? Halt!”

Argh, I knew something bad would happen. It’s probably Ser Alliser —

Jon Snow moved closer. He looked bigger and heavier in his layers of fur and leather, the hood of his cloak pulled down over his face. “Lannister,” he said, yanking loose the scarf to uncover his mouth. “This is the last place I would have expected to see you.”

— oh hi Jon. Whew.

They chat while walking the Wall and Jon updates his situation below. Apparently Ser Alliser has been putting him on night duty ever since his sleight from a few chapters ago, hoping to tire Jon out or break his will, but Jon’s holding strong. Tyrion offers to send a message to the Starks in Winterfell and Jon supplies him with a few. Hmm, I must note that when Jon asks Tyrion to comfort Bran, Tyrion is reluctant at first. A sign of guilt? Ack, I don’t know.

“Thank you, my lord of Lannister.” He pulled off his glove and offered his bare hand. “Friend.”

Tyrion found himself oddly touched. “Most of my kin are bastards,” he said with a wry smile, “but you’re the first I’ve had to friend.” He pulled a glove off with his teeth and clasped Snow by the hand, flesh against flesh.

I’m calling it: Tyrion did not try to assassinate Bran. How could he stomach becoming such a comrade to Jon with the intention of murdering his young half-brother? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Also: hooray for friends!

Well, nothing truly bad happens, but the chapter ends on a sinister note (don’t they all?):

“My uncle is out there,” Jon Snow said softly, leaning on his spear as he stared off into the darkness. “The first night they sent me up here, I thought, Uncle Benjen will ride back tonight, and I’ll see him first and blow the horn. He never came, though . . . If he doesn’t come back . . . Ghost and I will go find him.” He put his hand on the direwolf’s head.

“I believe you,” Tyrion said, but what he thought was, And who will go find you?

Summary Time: Tyrion Lannister prepares to leave the Wall and return home, and it is clear he has made an enemy of Ser Alliser Thorne — but who hasn’t? Tyrion promises to ask King Robert to send reinforcements + more money to the Night’s Watch, although he doesn’t expect a promising answer. While exploring the top of the Wall one more time, Tyrion sees Jon Snow and says good-bye to him, and their friendship seems to be sealed.

Well, this chapter didn’t really answer any of the questions I’ve had, but things are moving forward in a big way. Both Tyrion and Catelyn are on their way to Winterfell now, and Catelyn believes Tyrion’s responsible for the assassination attempt (whether he really is or not). I suspect there will be quite a confrontation.

I mean, I guess it’s possible that Tyrion could come and go before Catelyn returns with the knowledge she gained at King’s Landing, but the Rule of Drama demands that these two meet and hash it out. (I hope that’s all they do — nobody die, please. I just want everyone to get along.)

There was some sweet worldbuilding in this chapter, too. The Wall sounds amazing, as I’m sure I’ve already mentioned, and Lord Mormont outright confirmed something I’ve guessed before: the seasons last much longer than in reality, but their length also randomly varies. The current summer, for example, has lasted nine years so far, but it only lasted about four years last time, and now everybody’s worried the upcoming winter will be the longest winter the world has ever known.


Well, that’s all I’ve got for now. See you later and thanks for reading.


Ian drew a stunning picture of Tyrion walking the Wall, among others, found here.


    1. No, considering the current events are occurring in the summer. I guess the Wall lies so far to the north that the temperature never rises above a certain level.

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