Last week, we left off at a pretty significant turning point in the narrative. Catelyn Stark had kidnapped Tyrion Lannister, after accusing him of trying to murder Bran, and run off with him to the Eyrie. The Eyrie was the domain of Jon Arryn, but now Catelyn’s sister Lysa rules there until her and Jon Arryn’s son comes of age. Upon reaching the Eyrie, Lysa accuses Tyrion of also killing her husband Jon, and since Tyrion can’t stop his own special brand of snark, he gets thrown in the “dungeon.”
The dungeons of the Eyrie are about the scariest thing I can possibly imagine. They’re little rooms, about 5 feet by 5 feet that are enclosed on three sides. The fourth side opens into the air, with a several hundred foot drop. Also, the floors slope downward toward the opening, so god forbid you fall asleep and roll out.
After getting taunted and beaten by a mongoloid jailer, Tyrion manages to talk his way out of the dungeon and into a trial by combat to prove his innocence in the murder or Jon Arryn and the attempted murder of Bran Stark. Catelyn knows Lysa is being played, but Lysa is batshit crazy and agrees, mostly because her equally crazy son wants to see a fight. Because Tyrion is a dwarf,he asks for a champion and Bronn the sellsword agrees to stand in for him. Bronn easily tears into Lysa’s captain of the guard, killing him and winning Tyrion’s freedom. However, Lysa releases them onto the High Road with minimal supplies. The High Road is ridden with bandits and mountain men and rarely safe for large groups, let alone two lone travelers. Of course they are set upon my mountain raiders, but Tyrion talks them into escorting them to Lord Tywin and in turn offers to help them take the Eyrie.
There are also two things of minor note that happen in the Catelyn/Tyrion storyline. Catelyn argues with Lysa’s Maester about the young Lord Robert and who he had been promised to for fostering. Catelyn had heard he was to go to Casterly Rock and Lord Tywin, but everyone else says it was Dragonstone and Lord Stannis. This is the second discrepancy in what Catelyn has heard. At a later point, Catelyn offers to take Lord Robert to Winterfell for fostering and in turn Lysa offers to throw her out the Moon Door to her death. [The Moon Door is an opening from the high hall (the throne room) where executions are carried out -- it's a six hundred foot drop out of the doorway on to the stones of the mountain below. -Ed.]
In addition to this, we get a recap of the long ago duel between Petyr Baelish and Brandon Stark (the elder). Petyr had been in love with Catelyn and she had only seen him as a brother. Brandon won the duel, leaving Littlefinger scarred and exiled from Riverrun. This is an interesting story about the most Machiavellian character in the series. His love for Cat makes him at least a little human.
Back in King’s Landing, Ned follows Petyr to the whorehouse Stannis and Jon Arryn had been so interested in. There they find a young girl, no more than 15, with a black haired, blue eyed baby – another of Robert’s bastards. On their return they are set upon by Jaime Lannister and his soldiers. Jaime has found out that Catelyn kidnapped Tyrion and is furious. As punishment, he orders his soldiers to kill Ned’s companions, his steward Jory Cassel among them. Ned fights back, but Jaime commands he be left alive. In the fight, Ned’s horse falters and falls, crushing Ned’s leg beneath it.
Ned goes in and out of consciousness for several days, dreaming of Robert’s Rebellion and his final fight on the Trident. Robert and Cersei come to him, angry over the fight with Jaime and Catelyn’s kidnapping of Tyrion. Jaime has fled King’s Landing and is beyond any punishment. Ned explains exactly what he was doing at the whorehouse, confronting Cersei with the knowledge of Robert’s multiple bastards. They all fight and Cersei is ordered to leave, but not before Robert gives her five across the eyes. Robert knows this is “unkingly” but hates his wife. He reinstates Ned as Hand of the King.
King Robert then chooses to run from the giant mess of everything at King’s Landing and goes on a hunting party, leaving Ned to rule. The Lannisters are pissed as hell over Tyrion and Lord Tywin has sent out Gregor Clegane and a band of men to rape and pillage the small towns on the outskirts of Tully lands as revenge. Ned sends Berric Dondarion and a select group to put a stop to it, but this causes problems since Gregor is Sandor’s brother and Sandor is sworn protector of Prince Joffrey.
But at the end of the day, Ned’s leg hurts and he really has stopped giving a shit. He eventually gets to go back to his rooms, but even there he has to deal with Arya and Sansa who can’t stop fighting. Ned informs them both that he’s sending them back to Winterfell and breaking Sansa’s betrothal to Joffrey. Arya is of course delighted. Sansa is devastated and claims true love for that little shit, screaming and crying that Joffrey is wonderful because he is nothing like his fat, drunk ass father. And that’s when Ned finally realizes the secret Jon Arryn died for – Joffrey is not Robert’s child. Neither are Myrcella or Tommen.
Events for Ned speed up here and Ned does one of the stupidest things he can possibly do: he confronts Cersei about the parentage of her children. Ned’s major fault is belief in the goodness of others. Ned is the very definition of fair and honorable and despite seeing the contrary in other people over and over again, he still believes that everyone else will also make the right choices as opposed to the choices that allow for self preservation. Cersei admits the children are Jaime’s (gross, gross, a thousand times gross) and justifies it with comparing herself to the Targaryans who always wed brother to sister. Ned informs her he will have to tell Robert but because he knows Robert’s rage, has asked to meet here now to give her the opportunity to flee King’s Landing with her children before Robert returns from the hunt. Of course Cersei refuses and her overall nonchalance confuses Ned.
Several days later, Robert returns and Ned is still perplexed in regard to Cersei’s choice to stay in King’s Landing. But we learn why when he finds Robert has been gored by the boar he was hunting while drunk. [The wine was given to him by one of his personal servants, a Lannister cousin, which makes the whole thing very suspicious. -Ed.] Before Robert dies, he names Ned Protector of the Realm until Joffrey comes of age. Ned does not have the heart to tell Robert that Joffrey is not his. As the King sleeps, Renly (Robert’s brother) comes to Ned and offers his support for when they will have to take King’s Landing. Ned is still confused because Robert has just named him Protector of the Realm, giving him King’s Landing. Renly must think Ned has some kind of mental deficiency and flees in the night with his men. Ned returns to his room and writes a letter to Stannis (Robert’s next oldest brother) informing him that Joffrey is not Robert’s true son and that Stannis is the rightful heir to King’s Landing. Ned then does the second stupidest thing ever by spilling all the beans to Petyr and Varys and asking for their help. He asks Petyr to secure the City Watch to help apprehend Cersei Lannister.
When Ned prepares to take the Iron Throne for Stannis, he is met there by Cersei who had been told of Ned’s intentions by Sansa. Ned attempts to expose Cersei and Joffrey’s true father and calls on the City Watch to take Cersei. However, Petyr has betrayed him and the Watch takes Ned instead, killing all of Ned’s remaining men in the throne room and outside of it, and locking Ned away in the dungeon. The City Watch and Lannisters kill every last member of Ned’s household. They take Sansa captive, but she has absolutely no clue as to what she has done. At one point, she is joined by Jeyne Poole, the daughter of one of her father’s men, who cries that they are murdering everyone. Sansa dismisses this as nonsense. Soldiers attempt to take Arya in the middle of a lesson with Syrio Forel, but Syrio protects her and dies defending her escape to the sewers, where she had found herself once before while chasing cats. Eventually, Cersei calls for Sansa and manipulates her into writing letters to her family telling of her father’s treason. She wants Sansa to prove she does not have her father’s treasonous blood if she still wants to marry Joffrey. And because Sansa is still fairly stupid, she readily agrees, “knowing” her family will understand and bow to the Queen’s will.
Way far north, Jon is officially sworn in to the Night’s Watch. He is selected as personal steward to Lord Commander Mormont but would rather be a ranger and spends some time pouting. However, his smarter friends point out that Lord Mormont asked for him specifically and was likely grooming him to command after he died. This makes Jon feel better and he goes to ancient Maester Aemon to ask for Sam to also be sworn in as his personal steward. Maester Aemon agrees, making Sam the happiest fat kid ever.
Mormont takes them both out into the woods to investigate the deaths of two rangers, who had been out with Jon’s uncle, Ben Stark. Several things about their corpses are odd and both men now have blue eyes when they never had before. Lord Mormont orders them taken back to Castle Black for further examination. Once there, Jon learns of his father’s “treason” and tries to kill Alliser Thorne for mocking him. Mormont punishes him by locking him in his tower for the night, which turns out to be a good thing because one of the dead bodies from the woods comes alive and Jon and Ghost are readily available to save Mormont from a gruesome death by setting the damn thing on fire since nothing else stops it.
Slightly to the south, Bran goes out in his specially designed saddle for the first time. Unfortunately, he finds himself alone and is attacked by brigands. Robb and Theon come to his rescue and kill all but one – a woman they take captive. Bran is understandably depressed at his inability to do anything in the face of danger and in his own mind becomes Bran the Broken. Shortly after this, Robb and Bran get the letter from Sansa about Ned. Robb leaves Winterfell to fight with Riverrun, leaving Bran as Lord of Winterfell.
Across the Narrow Sea, Dany continues to grow as a character and as a woman. She again defies her brother, who had formerly terrified her. She continues her obsession with the dragon’s eggs, knowing there is something strange and wonderful about them. Drogo takes her before the Crones of Vaes Dothrak and to earn their approval and strength for her son, she eats the heart of a freshly killed stallion. The Crones proclaim her child will be the Stallion Who Mounts the World – the great unifier of all Dothrakis. He will lead them to conquer all. Dany names him Rhaego, after her oldest brother killed in Robert’s Rebellion. Viserys does the unthinkable and draws steel in Vaes Dothrak – something forbidden to all. He demands his crown from Khal Drogo. Drogo gives him his crown, melting down his metal plated belt and overturning the liquid metal onto Viserys’ head, killing him. Halleloo!
Yeah, this is a lot of stuff again. Maybe next time we do a read along, I’ll take it in smaller chunks. But if you’re reading, be sure to join us in Game of Thrones chat room tonight at 8pm EST. Maybe we’ll try to talk about the story this time instead of nothing but boobs and butts. [Not if you want anyone to show up. -Ed.]