A Storm of Swords-Chapter 53

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Tyrion VI
A Storm of Swords chapter
POV Tyrion
Place King's Landing
Page 584 UK HC (Other versions)
Chapter chronology (All)
Tyrion V
Arya XI  ← Tyrion VI →  Davos V

Tyrion VII

Tyrion receives the news that Robb and Catelyn Stark are dead. The end of the war is within reach and Lord Tywin intends to be generous to Stark allies, but Joffrey wants all traitors executed and accuses his grandfather of cowardice during Robert's Rebellion. Tywin orders Joffrey to be escorted to his bedchamber, and Cersei leaves after an unsuccessful attempt to defend him. On the Dornish issue, Tywin reveals that he will not sacrifice Gregor Clegane to the Martells. Tyrion is shocked, and Tywin explains his rationale at the time of the Sack of King’s Landing and the murder of Elia Martell and her children. He also reveals that Arya Stark is still alive.


Tyrion and Sansa spend a joyless meal together, with both not talking much. Sansa takes a joke Tyrion makes about the quality of the food as him criticizing her, but he assures her that it's not her fault and that he has more serious matters to worry about. Besides Joffrey, Cersei and his father, what bothers him most are the 300 Dornishmen visiting for the King's wedding. He has settled them in a cornerfort of the Red Keep, as far away from the Tyrells as possible, yet there has already been a brawl between Tyrell and Gargalen soldiers at Flea Bottom, leaving one dead, and a confrontation in the yard where Olenna Redwyne called Ellaria Sand "the serpent's whore", while Oberyn Martell keeps asking for justice concerning the death of his sister Elia and her children every time he sees Tyrion. However, Tyrion sees no point in bothering his already troubled young wife with any of this. After the meal, Sansa asks for leave for her nightly visit to the godswood. Although Tyrion finds Sansa's piety excessive, he allows it, even offering to accompany her some time. She immediately objects to this, telling him he would be bored, as praying to the old gods is mainly done in silence and without adornments. She knows him better than he imagined, he thinks. He is tempted to ask what she prays for, but is afraid of what the answer would be.

He gets back to his tedious tasks as Master of Coin, trying to make sense of some of the complicated numbers in the ledgers Petyr Baelish left him. He considers some of Littlefinger's investments highly suspicious. Tyrion now regrets that he consented so easily to the execution of the Antler Men, as he has since learned that some of them owed the Crown large sums and suspects that having Bronn try locating their heirs will be a futile effort. Ser Boros Blount arrives, delivering a summons from Lord Tywin. Tyrion is glad to leave the books. Outside, rain is in the air, making Tyrion concerned Sansa will get soaked at the godswood.

When he arrives at the Hand’s solar, he finds King Joffrey, Queen Regent Cersei, Ser Kevan and Grand Maester Pycelle there as well, besides his father. Joffrey is obviously elated, Cersei smiles smugly, yet Lord Tywin is his usual grim self and Tyrion wonders whether his father can smile at all. Tyrion asks what has happened and is shown a roll of parchment. The message reads: "Roslin caught a fine fat trout. Her brothers gave her a pair of wolf pelts for her wedding." Checking the seal, Tyrion realizes that the message comes from The Twins. He asks whether Lord Walder Frey thinks he is being poetic. He realizes that "trout" refers to Edmure Tully, but before he can speculate on the meaning of the "pair of wolf pelts", Joffrey announces that the message implies that Robb Stark is dead.

Tyrion's thoughts immediately drift to his wife, probably praying this very moment to her father's gods, for her brother's victory and her mother's safety. It seems that neither the Old nor the New Gods are listening to prayer, Tyrion thinks, wondering whether this should give him some comfort. He makes a glib comment about the kings falling like leaves this autumn and their little war winning itself, prompting a poisonly sweet reply by Cersei that it's in fact Lord Tywin who won the war. Lord Tywin doesn't consider the war over as long as enemies are in the field, yet Cersei is optimistic that the lords of the Riverlands, confronted with the combined powers of Highgarden, Casterly Rock and Dorne without the northmen to support them, will choose submission over destruction now. Lord Tywin agrees that most will, except for Riverrun and probably Seagard and Raventree Hall. However, Brynden Tully won't dare to become a threat as long as Lord Frey keeps his nephew Edmure as hostage, and the Freys can keep Jason Mallister penned up at his seat while Jonos Bracken might be bribed to change allegiance and attack the Blackwoods. In the end, everyone will bend their knees, Tywin predicts, and he is ready to offer generous terms. He is going to spare every castle except one. Tyrion assumes that the exception will be Harrenhal, which Lord Tywin confirms, announcing that he has already commanded Ser Gregor Clegane to attack the castle and rid the realm of the Brave Companions. Tyrion is amused about his father exploiting the Mountain before he will be handed over to the Martells, yet the prospect of Littlefinger soon being able to take his seat at Harrenhal doesn't please him. He wonders whether Lord Baelish has already arrived at the Vale, wishing his ship sank instead.

King Joffrey doesn't agree with generous terms, insisting that all traitors should be executed instead. He wants Lord Walder to send him Robb Stark's head, so that he can serve it to Sansa at his wedding feast. Ser Kevan is shocked and reminds him that Sansa is now his aunt by marriage. Cersei tries to dismiss his statement, calling it a jest, yet Joffrey insists. Tyrion angrily tells Joffrey that he can't torture Sansa any longer, calling him a monster, to which Joffrey replies that Tyrion is the true monster. Tyrion counters that Joffrey should be concerned then, as monsters are dangerous and kings are dying like flies already. Joffrey and Cersei are furious about Tyrion's threat, but Lord Tywin scolds Joffrey instead, advising him that a king who feels the need to remind people of his power is no true king. King Aerys never understood that, Lord Tywin says, as proven by his habit of having the tongues of people like Ser Ilyn Payne ripped out, but Joffrey will. It's necessary to fight your enemies, but if they yield, generosity is the right approach. Lord Tywin closes by telling Joffrey that the only head he should be concerned with right now is Margaery Tyrell's maidenhead.

Joffrey is sullen, then surprises everyone in the room by defying Lord Tywin, accusing him of having been afraid of King Aerys. Tyrion thinks that things just got interesting. Cersei demands that Joffrey apologize to his grandfather, yet he goes on, recounting how it was Robert Baratheon who fought Prince Rhaegar and won the crown while Lord Tywin hid at Casterly Rock. A strong king acts boldly, he states. Lord Tywin is not amused, thanking the King coldly for sharing his wisdom. He asks Ser Kevan to escort Joffrey to his bedchamber and Pycelle to give him some dreamwine, completely ignoring Joffrey's protest. As Ser Kevan firmly guides Joffrey out and Pycelle follows, Tyrion and Cersei remain, on their father's order. Cersei tries to apologize for Joffrey's behavior, calling him willful. Lord Tywin thinks Joffrey is more stupid than willful and asks who put the idea into the boy's head that strong kings act boldly. Cersei suggests it was Robert. Tyrion, glad to bring up that comment again, confirms that the part about Tywin hiding in Casterly Rock sounded like something Robert would say. Cersei tries to play into this, but Lord Tywin is upset that he might have fought a war to seat "Robert the Second" on the Iron Throne when Cersei has been assuring him that the boy cared nothing for his father. He doesn't, Cersei insists, recounting how Robert cared nothing for his son, would have beaten the boy if he could and hit him so hard once that Joffrey lost two teeth, causing her to threaten Robert to kill him if he hit him again. Lord Tywin tells his daughter to leave, which she does seethingly. Tyrion proposes that, rather than following his father's footsteps, Joffrey will become "Aerys the Third". Lord Tywin responds that he is only thirteen and still has time to grow, yet Tyrion notices that his father is more upset than he wants to show. Lord Tywin announces that Joffrey needs a hard lesson, reminding Tyrion of the hard lesson his father gave him when he was the same age, which almost makes him feel sorry for Joffrey. However, Tyrion can't think of anyone who'd deserve it more than Joffrey.

Tyrion gets back to the business of war. He congratulates his father, asking him how long he had been plotting with Lord Walder. Lord Tywin objects to his son's choice of words. Tyrion retorts that he doesn't enjoy being left in the dark. His father explains that nobody was told who didn't play a part in the execution, including Cersei, stressing how important it is to keep secrets, especially in King’s Landing. He wanted to get rid of a dangerous enemy as cheaply as possible and that has been achieved, he announces, also suggesting that, while Tyrion has some talent for cunning, he simply talks too much and his loose tongue will be his undoing one day. Tyrion jests that he should have let Joffrey rip his tongue out then and Lord Tywin says he shouldn't tempt him.

The discussion moves on to the Dornish issue. Lord Tywin considers the presence of Oberyn Martell unfortunate, describing him as half-mad while he believes Doran Martell to be a reasoned man who weighs the consequences of words and actions. Tyrion asks whether it is true that Oberyn tried to continue the war on behalf of Viserys Targaryen. Lord Tywin confirms it, recounting how Jon Arryn's negotiations with Prince Doran in Sunspear put an end to the conspiracy with both sides deciding to remain silent about the issue afterwards, but distrust between King Robert and House Martell remained. Tyrion proposes that showing Oberyn around in the brothels of the city could ease the Red Viper's impatience, jesting that he won't be accused of not serving House Lannister where he is needed most. Lord Tywin finds this comment very droll and asks whether Tyrion wants motley to be sewn for him, prompting Tyrion's question as to whether he would be allowed to say anything he wants about King Joffrey if he wore it. Lord Tywin declares that, while he had to suffer his father's follies, he won't suffer his son's.

Tyrion is more serious now, predicting that Oberyn will not be pleasant, nor satisfied with only receiving Gregor Clegane's head. Lord Tywin reveals that he has no intention of sacrificing the Mountain, as he has served House Lannister well and nobody is dreaded as much by their enemies. Tyrion is shocked; he thought that he and his father agreed that the woods are full of beasts and that even Ser Gregor is disposable. He points out that Oberyn knows it was the Mountain who killed his sister and her children. Oberyn knows nothing and has no proof, Lord Tywin replies, he merely heard rumors and Ser Gregor is not likely to confirm them, in particular as Tywin will keep him away for as long as the Dornishmen are in the city. If Oberyn raises the issue, Lord Tywin will claim the murderer was Ser Amory Lorch – and the tale of Ser Amory's gruesome death by the hands of a bear set on him by Vargo Hoat would even appease Oberyn, he expects. Tyrion objects to his father's sense of justice, but Tywin tells him that it was in fact Ser Amory who found and killed Rhaegar's daughter Rhaenys, also revealing that the child's mother and baby brother Aegon were in the nursery below at the time. When Tyrion asks what he is going to tell Oberyn if he inquires who gave the order for the murders, Lord Tywin answers that Ser Amory acted on his own in an attempt to win the favor of the new king, as Robert's hatred of Rhaegar was well known. Thinking about it, Tyrion has to concede that this version might serve its purpose, although he suspects that the Red Viper will not be happy.

Tyrion's suggestion that it would have been better for his father to let Robert commit the murders himself prompts an astonished Lord Tywin to share his reasoning at the time of the Sack of King’s Landing. He explains that they came late to Robert’s cause, so they had to demonstrate their loyalty. When Tywin laid the bodies at the throne, it was clear they had forsaken House Targaryen, and Robert was clearly relieved, knowing that Rhaegar’s children had to die for his throne to be secure, but not wanting to kill them himself. Tywin admits that it was done too brutally, and Elia did not need to be harmed. The Mountain only killed her because Tywin did not tell him to spare her. Tywin asserts that at the time, he had greater concerns than the Dornish princess; Ned Stark’s van was rushing south from the Trident, and Tywin feared coming to battle with him, as well as the possibility of Aerys murdering Jaime purely out of spite. "That, and what Jaime himself might do." He also did not know what Gregor Clegane was capable of, only that he was huge and terrible in battle. He did not command Clegane to rape Elia, and Ser Amory was almost as bestial with Rhaenys. When Tywin asked Ser Armory why it had required fifty thrusts to kill a girl of two or three, he claimed she’d kicked him and would not stop screaming. He states that if Lorch had had any wits, he would have calmed her with a few sweet words and used a soft silk pillow.

Tyrion asks whether it was a soft sweet pillow that killed Robb Stark. Lord Tywin reveals that the plan was to kill Robb at his uncle's wedding with an arrow, as he was too circumspect in the field. Tyrion inquires about the fate of Robb's mother. Lord Tywin suspects that the reference to "a pair of wolf pelts" in Lord Walder's message implies that Lady Catelyn is dead, too. The original idea was to keep her as captive, but maybe something went wrong, he suggests. Tyrion points out that the sacred guest right has been violated. Lord Tywin replies: "The blood is on Walder Frey’s hands, not mine." Tyrion, describing him as an ill-natured old lecher who nourishes the slights he has suffered over his long life, says he has no doubt that Lord Walder has planned the whole thing, yet he would never have dared to go through with it if he hadn't been given the promise of protection. Tywin counters that refusing him would have meant keeping him loyal to Robb Stark and prolonging the war. He considers the price that was paid low: The Crown will grant Riverrun to Emmon Frey as soon as the Blackfish yields, while Lancel and Daven Lannister have to marry Frey girls and Gerion Lannister's bastard daughter Joy will be wedded to one of Lord Walder's natural sons, once she is old enough. Roose Bolton becomes Warden of the North and his bastard son will marry Arya Stark.

The revelation that Lord Bolton was involved in the conspiracy is not particularly surprising to Tyrion, as Lord Walder probably had not the stomach to act alone. However, he is baffled about the role assigned to Arya and points out that neither Varys nor Ser Jacelyn Bywater were able to locate the girl, thus he is sure she is dead. Lord Tywin replies: "So was Renly, until the Blackwater." Tyrion doesn't understand what this means. Lord Tywin replies that Littlefinger might have succeeded where Tyrion and Varys failed. He suggests that the Boltons shall be fighting the Ironborn for a few years while the Crown will keep an eye on their efforts to subjugate the Starks' other bannermen. Lord Tywin expects that the remaining insurgents will be ready to yield by spring, also pointing out that the North will eventually go to the son of Tyrion and Sansa. In this context, he reminds Tyrion that Joffrey is not the only one who must take a maidenhead. Tyrion asks his father acidly when he believes his wife to be most fertile; before or after he tells her that the Lannisters have killed her mother and brother.

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