A Game of Thrones-Chapter 39

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Eddard X
A Game of Thrones chapter
POV Eddard Stark
Place King's Landing
Page 354 US HC (Other versions)
Chapter chronology (All)
Eddard IX
Tyrion V  ← Eddard X →  Catelyn VII

Eddard XI

Ned dreams of the showdown at the Tower of Joy. When he wakes he finds King Robert angry about the abduction of Tyrion Lannister, demanding that Ned make peace with the Lannisters. Robert reinstates Ned as Hand of the King and declares that Ned must sit the Iron Throne because he is going hunting.


Under the influence of the milk of the poppy, Ned dreams an old dream of the showdown at the Tower of Joy. In the dream as it was in life, his friends ride with him: Howland Reed, Lord Willam Dustin, Ethan Glover, Martyn Cassel, Theo Wull, and Ser Mark Ryswell. They were seven facing three, but these three were men of the Kingsguard and living legends: Lord Commander Ser Gerold Hightower, Ser Arthur Dayne the Sword of the Morning, and Ser Oswell Whent. Ned had looked for them on the Trident, and at the Sack of King's Landing, and at the Siege of Storm's End, but found them guarding this tower near the Red Mountains of Dorne. In spite of Rhaegar’s death, they refused to bend the knee. By the end, only Ned and Howland Reed remain alive. Ned is awoken from the dream in the midst of making a promise to his dying sister Lyanna after the battle.

Vayon Poole is calling and this wakes Ned. He is informed that it has been six days and King Robert has commanded that Ned attend him when he wakes. Ned replies that he is too weak, but that he would be pleased to receive the king in his room. When Ned asks for his captain of the guard (remembering that Jory is dead), Alyn appears. He tells Ned that Jaime Lannister has left King's Landing, that extra guards have been put on, that his daughters have been with him every day, and that Jory, Heward, and Wyl have been given to the silent sisters to be sent north to Winterfell. Ned remembers that Jory’s father, Martyn Cassel—who was one of his seven at the Tower of Joy—was buried in the Dornish Marches with the others. That takes Ned back to his dream. He does not think it bodes well for him to dream that dream now. It is then that Poole announces the arrival of both Robert and Cersei. Ned does not think it bodes well that Cersei has come, either. Ned orders that they be sent in, and that the others leave, as what is to be said should be kept secret.

When Robert asks if Ned knows what his wife has done, Ned states that Catelyn is blameless since she took action on his behalf and under his authority as Hand of the King. The king tells Ned he is unhappy: the King’s Hand is supposed to keep the peace, but seven men are dead. Cersei corrects this to eight, as a Lannister guardsman recently died of his wounds. Robert declares that he will not tolerate it and demands that Ned command Tyrion Lannister’s release and make peace with Jaime. Ned angrily replies that three of his men were butchered in front of his eyes because Jaime wished to chastise him.

Cersei leaps to Jaime’s defense, accusing Ned and his men of attacking Jaime while returning drunk from a brothel. Ned calmly reminds Robert that he should know him better than that, and that Littlefinger will confirm his story. Robert replies that Littlefinger only said they had been returning from a brothel. Ned angrily informs Robert that he was at the brothel to visit Robert’s bastard daughter. When Robert criticizes the girl’s choice of name Ned has a hard time keeping his temper as he demands to know how one could expect a 15-year-old whore to have better sense. He then tells Robert that the girl is in love with him.

Ned asks for Robert’s leave to bring Jaime back to face justice. Robert tells him to leave it alone and make peace with Jaime. Ned declares that if that is Robert’s notion of justice he is pleased he is no longer his Hand. Cersei declares, "If any man had dared speak to a Targaryen as he had spoken to you—" but Robert cuts her off by asking angrily if she mistook him for Aerys. Cersei presses on regardless, telling Robert that she took him for a king, that Jaime and Tyrion are his brothers by marriage, and that Ned dishonors them all by driving off one brother and abducting the other. She steps too far, however, when she declares that Robert should be the one in skirts and her in armor. Robert’s face goes purple with rage and he lashes out with a blow to Cersei’s face that knocks her to the floor. Cersei remarks that she will wear the bruise as a badge of honor before she is escorted out by Ser Meryn Trant.

Robert, in misery, asks Ned if he sees what Cersei does to him. He continues that he should not have hit her, but says he does not know how to fight someone you cannot hit. Robert then declares that Rhaegar won: Rhaegar has Lyanna and he has Cersei. Ned tells Robert that they need to talk, but Robert is sick of talk and intends to hunt on the morrow; whatever Ned wants to tell him can wait until he returns. When Ned reminds Robert that by then he will have departed for Winterfell as commanded, Robert throws the Hand’s badge of office onto the bed and forbids Ned to leave. Ned asks about Daenerys Targaryen and is told that is done. Ned continues by asking why Robert wants him as Hand if he will not listen to his advice. Robert states that somebody has to run the kingdom. As he leaves, Robert swears that if Ned resigns again, he will pin the badge on Jaime Lannister.

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