A Clash of Kings-Chapter 37
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|A Clash of Kings chapter|
|Page||393 UK HC (Other versions)|
|Chapter chronology (All)|
Theon has won an easy victory and destroys a village, but is not pleased with his victory that cost him only one man, whom he killed, easily defeating a force led by Benfred Tallhart. When he returns to the ships, he meets with Dagmer Cleftjaw and arranges for him to lead a force against Torrhen's Square, which is a feint to get Rodrik Cassel to send a force to relieve Torrhen's Square.
Theon has captured Benfred Tallhart after defeating the force sent to protect the Stony Shore. Now Benfred is being held between Stygg and Werlag as Theon questions him, but he only gets threats about what Robb Stark will do to him and Benfred’s spittle. Aeron Greyjoy now insists that Benford be sacrificed to the Drowned God in the old way for his insult. Theon finally gives in, figuring he may be doing Benfred a service since his neck is thick with muscle and fat, and Stygg is not an expert headman. Theon thinks of when he met Benfred three years past when Eddard Stark visited Ser Helman Tallhart.
He can hear the noise of the men celebrating the victory, but it was like slaughtering sheep. After climbing some stones, Theon can see Tymor with his brothers, gathering the unhurt mounts, as Urzen and Black Lorren kill the horses that cannot be saved. He also sees Gevin Harlaw sawing off a man's finger to get a ring. Theon does not want to search the two men he killed because he can only think of what the now dead Eddard Stark would say, and it frustrates him. He then sees Maron Botley with his sons collecting plunder, and one of them in a shoving match with an obviously drunk Todric. Theon asks Wex Pyke for his bow and attempts to shoot the ale horn out of Todric's hand, but he moves and Theon’s arrow takes him in the belly. This gets the attention of the other looters, and Theon tells them that he will abide no drunkards and no squabbles over plunder. Theon orders Botley to silence Todric. He realizes that his father Lord Balon Greyjoy gave him the command, but some of his men see him as “a soft boy from the green lands.”
Theon kicks Benfred’s banner, wondering about the rabbit skin tied to it. He is frustrated that he does not feel elated as he did after the Battle of the Whispering Wood. Benfred had not even sent out a scout and ran into a trap to be cut down by a hail of arrows. Theon ordered the leader spared for questioning, not expecting it to be Benfred.
Theon planned the attack on the village well, and his men easily took the sleeping fishing village, which is now just ash. A few were allowed to escape to take word to Torrhen's Square, the rest killed except for some women taken for salt wives and thralls. He is not happy, but feels he has no choice. The word about the hosting of the Iron Islands has been effectively kept secret so the northmen will not realize their peril until Deepwood Motte and Moat Cailin are attacked. He damns his sister Asha Greyjoy in her ship Black Wind again; she will win a castle of her own and gain glory while Theon’s work will be put down to raiders.
Theon left Dagmer Cleftjaw to guard the ships so that he could be given credit, and Dagmer did not mind. When Theon returns, Dagmer is standing in front of his ship Foamdrinker. He notes that Theon does not smile despite the victory. Theon reports he only lost Todic, whom he killed, and Dagmer smiles telling him some men were born to be killed. As always, Theon appreciates the smile. Theon tells Dagmer that they need to talk, so he takes him to his cabin in Foamdrinker.
Theon tells him that they did not capture enough horses, and Dagmer asks why they need horses since Balon ordered them to only harry the coast. Theon, hoping the tone in Dagmer’s voice is interest, not disapproval, tells Dagmer that he is the most skilled in sword and spear on the Iron Islands. Dagmer informs him that Andrik, who serves Lord Dunstan Drumm, and Black Lorren and Qarl the Maid are said to be the best now. Theon responds that Andrik is not nearly as feared, and raiding is no work for Lord Balon’s best man. Dagmer tells Theon that it is he who feels wasted, and Theon replies that it should have been him who had his sister’s command. He was valued by Robb Stark and was one of Brynden Tully’s picked scouts. He was in the first wave at Whispering Wood, and came close to crossing swords with the Kingslayer except Daryn Hornwood came between and died for it. Dagmer states that he knows Theon is no craven, having trained him. Theon asks if his father knows that and states he is no Stark but a Greyjoy, and will be his father’s heir, but to be his heir he must prove himself. When Dogmer reminds him he was commanded to raid, Theon responds that he will give Aeron six ships and he can do the raiding; Theon will capture his own castle. Meanwhile Dagmer, with his fearsome reputation, will march on Torrhen's Square. Helman Tallhart took his best men south, and Benfred and their sons are now dead; a small garrison under Leobald Tallhart is all that is left. He will not make a secret of his approach, and when he arrives will start building siege engines. Dagmer exclaims that this is not the Ironmen's way, and Theon replies that Leobald will not know that, and will call for help. When the castellan in Winterfell learns that a bannerman is being attacked by Dagmer Cleftjaw, he will ride to Leobald's aid in strength. Dagmer states he cannot win since the force summoned will be larger than his, and Theon replies that he does not plan to take Torrhen’s Square.
References and Notes
- Summary and analyses of the chapter in the course of a 10th reread.
- Review and summary by Leigh Butler.