Time for our final Game of Thrones read along post… where George R.R. Martin really breaks it down and sets the stage for the whole rest of this story in the history of forever. If the last 100 or so pages of this book don’t make you want to pick up the next one, then you must love everything that sucks.
Last time we checked into Westeros, the whole world had gone to shit. Zombies were harassing the Night’s Watch and King Robert had been eaten by a boar. Ned Stark is in prison and his son has gone off to war against the Lannisters.
After the bloodbath at Kings Landing, where all of Ned’s people were murdered, Sansa is still in denial about just how bad everything is. She goes to her first audience with Joffrey as King, knowing in her heart that he will give mercy to her father. However, Joffrey is still a horrible little shit and does several things that are not only asinine, but cruel. He declares all who do not come to pay him fealty traitors to be put to death – this is several hundreds of people. Lord Tywin is named the Hand of the King. Cersei is given a place on the Small Council alongside Varys, Petyr Baelish, and Maester Pycelle. Janos Slynt, commander of the City Watch is named a Lord, given lands, and a place on the Small Council – payment for betraying Ned. Ser Barristan Selmy, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard is asked to step down because he is old. Members of the Kingsguard take their vows for life and are married only to their duty. Jaime Lannister replaces him as Lord Commander. Cersei offers money and land to Selmy, but he tells the Small Council to fuck off and leaves. Joffrey tries to apprehend him, but Selmy is a badass and kills the men Joffrey sends after him. The seventh place in the Kingsguard is given to Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, who has never been anointed as a knight. After all of this, Sansa begs for mercy on her father’s behalf, and Joffrey says he will grant it only if Ned confesses to treason and bends his knee to Joffrey as King.
Ned rots in his cell and goes insane with no light, no food, and very little water. His leg is sore and infected, the cast having rotted through. Varys comes to him in disguise to offer advice: for the love of god, just accept the kid as King and get out of this dungeon. Ned does no one any good down there. Still, Ned would rather die than accept anyone other than the true king, Stannis Baratheon. But then Varys informs Ned that it was his confrontation with Cersei that really killed Robert. Cersei did send orders for Robert to be served drugged wine after her talk with Ned. Perhaps now, Ned will change his mind.
Catelyn finally catches up to Robb after her trip to the Eyrie. She decides to stay with him and his amassed force as they fight against both Jaime and Tywin Lannister on Tully lands. Robb is a man now and Catelyn tries not to do things like wipe food off his face with her own spit. She and Robb make numerous plans to defeat both Lannister armies, but none of their plans will succeed unless they are allowed to cross the river through Walder Frey’s land. Walder Frey is an old, opportunistic asshole with nine wives and eleventy billion children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and bastards. Catelyn goes to speak with Lord Frey. Even though Frey is her father’s sworn man, he has not joined the fight for Riverrun. However, he has also not taken the side of the Lannisters. Eventually, Frey agrees to let half of Robb’s army cross for a price. Catelyn must take two of his grandsons for fostering at Winterfell, accept a third as Robb’s squire, marry Arya off to his youngest son, and marry Robb to any daughter he chooses. Robb agrees, knowing he has no choice. And so, Robb splits his army – the northern half going off to fight Tywin Lannister and the southern off to get Jaime.
Speaking of Lannisters… we finally meet Tywin Lannister. He is tall and strong and golden – everything Tyrion is not. This is the man who, when Tyrion fell in love with a prostitute that Jaime secretly hired for him and then he married in secret, had her imprisoned and then raped by all of his men. Charming piece of work. Tyrion approaches Tywin’s encampment with 300 mountain men and tries to tell his father about his plans to take the Eyrie. But they are interrupted with news that Robb’s men are on the march. Tywin enlists the mountain men and Tyrion himself to fight. Also here, we learn that Jaime has taken Catelyn’s brother Edmure captive.
Tywin places Tyrion and his men in the vanguard under the command of Gregor “Fucking Psycho” Clegane. Gregor orders him and his men to hold the river. Tyrion recognizes this position as suicidal and now sees this battle as one of many attempts of his father’s to have his deformed son murdered. Tyrion is wounded and many of his men fall, but Tywin wins the day. Tywin admits to purposefully putting Tyrion in the least prepared location, hoping Robb would break through and walk into a trap. He wonders where exactly Robb is – no one can find him. He belatedly realizes that this was only half of Robb’s force and the other half is heading for Jaime. Also here, we meet Shae – a whore Tyrion takes as companion.
Robb’s half of the army is far more successful. He frees Catelyn’s brother Edmure, takes Riverrun, and captures Jaime Lannister.
Back in King’s Landing, we find that Arya did escape the City Watch and Cersei’s men. However, she’s living the life of a street urchin in Flea Bottom and cannot leave the city since all gates have been sealed. So, she is stuck eating pigeons and poop. Everything has been stolen from her except for Needle. The bells of the city toll and all of the people of King’s Landing are summoned to the great sept of Baelor the Blessed. Here, Ned stands trial for treason. Arya watches and fights the crowd, trying to get to her father. Ned has realized that he can do more good outside of the dungeon than in and confesses to treason, bowing to Joffrey as King. Joffrey’s idea of mercy is not freedom, but a swift death. Even though he confesses, Ned is still beheaded before both of his daughters and all of King’s Landing. Arya is taken by Yoren, a man of the Night Watch.
Seriously, this was so shocking to me the first time I read it that it took me two more books to realize that this was not a trick and Ned was never coming back. In a second reading, I hoped desperately with every page for a different outcome even though I knew what was coming. This right here taught me that absolutely no one was safe in these books – that both scares and delights me. This is the power of George R.R. Martin.
At Winterfell, both Bran and Rickon dream of Ned visiting them in the crypt. Bran asks to be taken down and is carried by the captured wildling woman Osha and accompanied by Maester Luwin. There they find Rickon and his wolf, Shaggydog. Both have gone slightly feral. Maester Luwin dismisses their dreams as simple worry over their father and they return to his tower. However, Osha believes Bran. She and Maester Luwin tell Bran and Rickon the story of the First Men and the Children – entities of old and are interrupted when both Summer and Shaggydog howl at the window in Maester Luwin’s tower. A raven lands, bearing news of Ned’s death.
Even further north, on The Wall, Lord Commander Mormont gives Jon the gift of his family’s sword, Longclaw, in thanks for saving his life. Jon does not appreciate it. He can be such an emo little twat. He wants to be a Stark and he wants his father’s sword – not this piece of shit sword the Lord Commander had specially refurbished just for him with a white wolf’s head pommel and everything. Jon learns of Ned’s death and talks with Maester Aemon who is easily 100 years old. We find that he is in fact Aemon Targaryan, grand uncle to the mad King Aerys II, forgotten on the wall. He has been tempted to leave by his family’s tragedies multiple times, but he stays on the Wall and has never wavered. Jon apparently doesn’t give a crap because he tries to defect anyway. He doesn’t make it very far before his friends catch up with him and bring him back. He hadn’t been gone long enough to deserve punishment. Mormont tells him that the situation beyond the Wall is dire and he means to go looking for Ben Stark.
Back down south at Riverrun, Tywin reacts badly to Jaime’s capture. Even though they marched without pause, they were too late to keep Robb from taking Riverrun. Tywin is royally pissed at Cersei and Joffrey because if Ned had lived, they could have made a trade. In addition to this, word has come that Lord Renly, Robert’s youngest brother, has married the sister to the Knight of Flowers and has also declared himself King. Cersei commands them to march on Renly, but has not yet told Joffrey of this development. Tywin has had enough of this crazy bullshit and sends Tyrion to King’s Landing to shadow rule. He considers Jaime as good as dead.
Speaking of King’s Landing, Sansa goes catatonic after her father’s death. She is held captive and finally realizes just how awful Joffrey is. However, she still only really feels sorry for herself, not having learned much of anything. Joffrey commands her to bathe and dress, ordering one of the Kingsguard to beat her when she disobeys. Joffrey takes her to the battlements to show her Ned’s head on a spear. He declares that as a birthday gift to himself, he will also give Sansa Robb’s head on a spear. We learn that not even Cersei can stop Joffrey’s cruelty. Sansa considers pushing him off the battlements, but the moment passes and she goes back to her rooms, bloody but remembering her manners.
Robb’s victory at Riverrun is bittersweet. They rescue Edmure and take the castle only to find out about Ned’s death. Catelyn grieves for Ned and Robb and his men hold a meeting to discuss the idea of supporting Renly. Neither Robb or Catelyn know that Joffrey is not Robert’s son, so Robb declares he cannot support Renly. In response, Robb’s bannermen declare him King of the North and swear fealty.
None of this matters across the Narrow Sea where Dany lives happily and very pregnant. She argues with Drogo about taking the Iron Throne – he refuses to cross the sea and doesn’t care about this iron chair. After a failed attempt on Dany’s life though, Drogo agrees to cross the Narrow Sea and take the Seven Kingdoms for his son. However, Drogo gets his nipple ripped off in a fight and while the wound itself won’t kill him, he needs to treat it and keep it clean.
Dany puts a stop to the rampant rape going on post-looting and takes many of the women as her own slaves, including the healer/maegai Mirri Maz Duur. Drogo has no patience for rest or recovery and his wound eventually takes septic. He falls from his horse one afternoon. "A Khal who cannot ride cannot lead." They make camp and Ser Jorah Mormont declares Drogo as good as dead. He begs Dany to flee with him. Dany refuses to admit Drogo is dying. She begs Mirri Maz Duur to help her. Mirri claims only blood magic will restore Drogo to life – she must have a death to create a life. However, blood magic is forbidden. Dany begs her help anyway and she agrees. Mirri Maz Duur makes everyone leave the tent as she tries to bring Drogo back to life. There is fighting and Drogo’s bloodriders are killed. Dany goes into labor. All of the serving women and slaves have fled. Mormont doesn’t know what else to do and takes Dany back into the tent where blood magic is being worked.
Dany sleeps for days and dreams of dragons and her son as a grown man. Before she even wakes, she understands that she has lost the baby and he was the price of Drogo’s life. Dany accuses Mirri Maz Duur of having known all along that this would happen and Mirri Maz Duur admits that she did. She bears no love for Dany for rescuing her from rape and murder. Drogo’s khalasar has broken apart and all Dany has left are the elderly, children, the three men of her khas, and her handmaids. She also has Jorah Mormont who swears to protect her through all things. Dany asks to see Drogo. He is alive, but in a vegetative state. Mirri Maz Duur also knew that this would be the result of her magic. She tells Dany that Drogo will never change. He will never respond to her or anyone else. Dany orders Mirri Maz Duur bound. She then suffocates Drogo, ending his life for good.
Dani and her remaining men build a large funeral pyre for Drogo. She places the dragon eggs with her dead husband and ties Mirri Maz Duur to one of the supports. Dany sets the fire and the pyre burns, Mirri Maz Duur burning with it. Dany walks into the fire but is not burned. The dragon eggs hatch as she knew they would. After the fire dies down, Mormont goes to her. Dany has all three baby dragons and she suckles them from her own breasts. The Dothraki that remain all bow down and swear to her. They see the first star of the night after Drogo’s funeral – it is a red comet.
And that is the end of A Game of Thrones. I’ve already started A Clash of Kings and am totally stoked that the show was renewed for a second season. How about you guys?
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