A Feast for Crows-Chapter 17
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After yet another group presents her with a dwarf's head that is not Tyrion's, Cersei walks together with Qyburn to meet the small council. The new Master of Whisperers indicates that he has prepared the "skull" in an ebony box for delivery to Prince Doran, but no mention is made that it belongs to Gregor Clegane.
Pycelle is near apoplectic upon hearing that Qyburn has been raised to Lord and has replaced Varys on the council, and Cersei makes it clear how unfit she considers the old Grand Maester. Cersei has finalised her appointments, placing men she considers to be meek and loyal and giving them the titles used in the Free Cities, thinking that she will have no "masters" with her in the small Council. She now has a council consisting of:
- Orton Merryweather as judiciar (master of laws)
- Aurane Waters as grand admiral (master of ships)
- Her uncle Kevan's father-in-law Ser Harys Swyft as "her" Hand. This last appointment she considers as a shield against any threat that Ser Kevan may present.
The council first discusses the unrest in Sunspear and Prince Doran's letter that he imprisoned the Sand Snakes. Cersei notes that they are sending Balon Swann to Dorne with Gregor Clegane's head as has been promised, but she does not mention that Balon will have another task as well.
We also learn that Tyrion's High Septon has died in his "sleep", and the council brings up the continuing influx of "sparrows" into King's Landing, stirring up the populace with their preaching of "doom and demon worship". But Cersei cares not, nor does she care who becomes High Septon, provided he "pronounce(s) an anathema upon the Imp."
The next topic is a letter by the Lords Declarant in the Vale of Arryn, but the Queen Regent decides not to intervene directly on Littlefinger's behalf, but only send a letter warning these Lords that no harm must come to Lord Petyr.
When the subject of rebuilding the fleet comes up, Cersei is adamant against making any pact with the ironborn, stating, "Their turn will come, once we have dealt with Stannis." Aurane Waters will get his fleet of dromonds however, and Cersei will find the coin by deferring the crown's debt to the Faith of the Seven and to the Iron Bank of Braavos until the end of the war. Pycelle warns her against this route, cautioning that it would be foolish to make an enemy of the Iron Bank, but the decision is made regardless. 
The council also discusses the prudence of making someone pay for the Red Wedding so as to appease all the "sparrows"; and in the mean time offering whomever succeeds the sure-to-die-soon Lord Walder Frey a chance to rid himself of unwanted brothers, half-brothers and nephews.
On the topic of the North, the council indicates that Stannis may soon be confronted by Roose Bolton's army, once his bastard son hits Moat Cailin from the north, allowing the Lord of the Dreadfort passage through the Neck. Cersei mentions that Wyman Manderly has taken Davos Seaworth captive, after the latter was sent by Stannis to treat with him. Lord Manderly seeks the favor of the Iron Throne, and the queen will recommend that he can achieve that favor if he beheads Stannis's Hand. When Sansa is mentioned, Cersei shocks the council into silence with a violent tirade about how she plans to deal with the girl once she is found. In the uneasy silence that follows, Cersei also remarks that Lord Bolton possesses Arya Stark and that her marriage to his bastard should appease the north, keeping to herself the fact that "Arya Stark" is really a "steward's whelp" provided by Littlefinger.
Next they debate the fact that the Night's Watch might be joining its might to Stannis, especially now that Jon Snow is their Lord Commander. The council decides to warn the Watch that the crown will stop sending men to the Wall, but Qyburn suggests that they do send 100 men. Cersei picks up on Qyburn's reason for suggesting ostensibly an act of goodwill, and interrupts him to indicate that the men sent will really be assassins ordered to remove Eddard Stark's bastard.
Back in her apartments, Cersei learns from Taena that Dorcas fancies Osney Kettleblack, and also hints that she herself likes dangerous, scarred men. Cersei tries to learn the name of Taena's old flame, but the Myrish woman is evasive.
When Osney arrives, Cersei butters him up with an offer to join the Kingsguard and a chance to bed her again, provided he accomplishes a couple of tasks. First, Cersei wants him to seduce, and hopefully bed, Queen Margaery; this will enable Cersei to execute her lawfully. Second, she plans to send him to the Wall as "punishment" for his treason with Margaery, but in reality he will lead a group of men to assassinate Jon Snow. She assures him that the men would not be required to serve in the Watch after they complete their task, and promises him a lordship, should he accomplish both missions.
Later that night, Cersei asks Lady Taena to remark to Margaery that she has a secret admirer, but not to let out Ser Osney's name unless the girl probes.
References and Notes
- We next learn of Ser Balon Swann's mission in Dorne in Chapter 40
- This decision influences the events of A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 15, Davos II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 19, Davos III.
- Pages 277-278 (UK MMP edition; circa page 246 in the US and UK Hardcover Editions); we learn Lord Manderly's reaction to this ultimatum in A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 29 from Manderly's perspective, and in A Feast for Crows, Chapter 24 (Cersei V), circa page 346 from Cersei's perspective
- A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 12. Analyses and summary of the chapter by Leigh Butler.
- The synopsis was copied from Aol member vbkorik27 previously at