A Clash of Kings-Chapter 8
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Tyrion meets with Lord Janos Slynt, providing him with plenty of wine. He asks about Eddard Stark’s death, and whom Slynt recommends for the next Commander of the City Watch. He then has Slynt taken into custody to join the Night's Watch. Next he meets with Varys whom he asks about the death of King Robert’s bastard baby daughter.
Tyrion is having Lord Janos Slynt, a butcher’s son, for a guest, and getting him drunk. Tyrion notes that Slynt does not sip his wine, and is dribbling. One of Tyrion’s first acts as Hand was to find the finest cook in the city, and Slynt is very impressed with the food. When he calls him lord, Tyrion points out he is not a lord, asking Slynt to call him Tyrion. Tyrion asks who should succeed Slynt when he leaves the City Watch to take up residence at Harrenhal. Slynt suggests Allar Deem. Tyrion mentions Ser Jacelyn Bywater, knighted at Pyke after losing his hand in the battle, but Slynt says he is too rigid and too honorable. Tyrion notes that Allar is little loved in the streets, and Slynt states he is feared, which is better. Tyrion replies that Allar Deem killed a young whore and her infant daughter, a bastard of King Robert's. Slynt states that he chose Deem because he is a hard man and always does what he is told, even if it is killing a whore and a child. Tyrion asks who ordered him to kill the whore’s bastard, but Slynt will not give an answer, priding himself on doing a deed with never a question asked, much like Deem. Tyrion suggests Jeor Mormont, commander of the Night's Watch, could use men like him and Deem, but Slynt responds there is little chance.
Then, Tyrion questions him about Eddard Stark’s death, saying even Varys was surprised by the King’s decision and that that the eunuch had helped persuade Cersei to allow Ned to take the black. Slynt confirms it was Joffrey's decision, but Tyrion notes that the king is a child of 13. Slynt calls Lord Stark a traitor for trying to buy him, to which Tyrion retorts, "Little dreaming that you had already been sold." This angers Slynt, who tells Tyrion he has no right to question his honor. Tyrion retorts that Slynt has no honor and threatens him, saying he should thank the gods it is Tyrion he has to deal with, and not his lord father. Tyrion tells him his two younger sons will become squires, and the eldest will inherit the title and lands, but not Harrenhal. Slynt will join the Night's Watch, and will travel to the Wall on the carrack Summer's Dream. Slynt is enraged and tells Tyrion he will speak to Littlefinger, Cersei, and other friends about this, and strides to the door. He throws it open to find Ser Jacelyn Bywater and six Gold Cloaks, who take him into custody. Tyrion tells Slynt that Bywater is the new Commander of the City Watch, and then hands Bywater a list of six others that will join Slynt for Eastwatch-by-the-sea, telling him it would not be taken amiss if Allar Deem should get swept overboard.
Varys immediately strides into the hall. Tyrion tells him that he is tempted to do to Varys the same as Deem, and then accuses the eunuch of not informing him that it was his sister who sent the gold cloaks after Robert's bastard. This makes Varys nervous, and he asks for forgiveness. Tyrion refuses, thinking he hands out justice for the sorry likes of Slynt and Deem while his sister continues on her savage course. He then tells Varys he will fromow on tell him everything he knows. Varys assures Tyrion he did not think a baseborn girl would be considered a theat, but he has taken steps to save another bastard, an older boy. Varys continues by saying that the whore loved the king, and Tyrion asks if a whore can love anyone, thinking of Shae, and remembers telling her that she helped him most between the sheets, while seeing in her eyes that it was not what she wanted to hear.
Tyrion again talks about Eddard’s death, aware that Slynt and Ser Ilyn Payne carried out the King’s sentence without hesitation, almost as if they expected it. Varys states his grace cannot commit further follies with the City Watch under the command of Bywater, but there are the Lannister red cloaks. Tyrion responds that Vylarr is loyal to Casterly Rock and knows that Tyrion is here under his father’s authority, and they are only 100 red cloaks, while Tyrion has half again as many men.
Next, Tyrion asks Varys why he is so helpful and Varys replies, “You are the Hand. I serve the realm, the king, and you.” Tyrion asks “As you served Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark?”, and Varys states he served as best he could, and that he does not think Tyrion will have the same fate.
Varys then asks Tyrion about the answer to his riddle, and Tyrion says the sellsword holds the true power. Varys wonders aloud why men pretend kings hold power, if swordsmen rule in truth. Neither the godly High Septon, nor the lawful Queen Regent, nor the ever-knowledgeable Varys could prevent Lord Eddard’s death. He asks who truly killed Eddard: the King who gave the command, Ser Ilyn who swung the sword, or another? When Tyrion asks for an answer to the riddle, Varys tells him that power resides where men believe it does. Tyrion responds that he is growing fond of Varys and though he may kill him yet, he thinks he would feel sad about it. Varys declares he will take this as high praise.
Varys now informs Tyrion that the master of the King’s Galley White Hart plans to depart to join Stannis Baratheon. Tyrion states that this would be a good use of Joffrey’s justice, which will be a warning to the other captains. Next, Varys tells him Ser Horas and Ser Hobber Redwyne have bribed a guard on the postern gate, and will leave on the Pentoshi trading galley Moonrunner. Tyrion instructs Varys to have Bywater send the guard to the Night’s Watch. Next, Varys notes that the clansman Timett killed a man for cheating, and since Varys is sure he was, Tyrion states Timett should get their thanks. Rhen he iinforms Tyrion that the Red Comet has brought prophets to the streets foretelling doom and destruction. Tyrion instructs Varys to let them rant. Finally, Varys states that Lord Gyles lifted a cup to the king, and Ser Balon Swann remarked, ‘We’ll need three cups for that.’, but Tyrion inerrupts, saying he is not interested in treasonous table talk. Varys declares this wise and leaves.
Tyrion visits Bronn in his solar and remarks that he probably replaced one of Littlefinger’s men with one of Varys' when he made Ser Jacelyn Commander of the City Watch. Then he asks Bronn whom he is recruiting for Tyrion’s guard and how it goes, and is told that he has three new men. He asks Bronn if he would kill an infant girl without question if he were commanded to. Bronn replies, "Without question? No. I’d ask how much." Tyrion now thinks he does not need Slynt or Deem, he has a hundred of his own. He wants to laugh or cry, but mostly be with Shae.
References and Notes
- Analysis and review of the chapter in the course of a 10th reread of the books by Slynt.
- Humorous review of the chapter by Jason.
- Review and summary by Leigh Butler.