A Storm of Swords-Chapter 53
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After spending a joyless meal with Sansa and doing some tedious work as Master of Coin, Tyrion is summoned to the Tower of the Hand. In the presence of Joffrey and Cersei, he receives the news from The Twins 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. Joffrey disagrees. He wants all traitors executed and make Robb's head a gift to Sansa. Tywin lectures Joffrey on the qualities of a true king, prompting Joffrey to accuse his grandfather of cowardice during Robert's Rebellion. Tywin orders Joffrey to be escorted to his bedchamber, then demands to know who put follies into the boy's head. Cersei leaves after an unsuccessful attempt to defend her son. Tyrion congratulates his father on the news from The Twins, yet is annoyed that he has been left in the dark. Tywin justifies the secrecy and suggests that Tyrion cannot be trusted as he talks too much. On the Dornish issue, Tywin explains that he considers Oberyn Martell highly irrational and his presence in King’s Landing unfortunate, also confirming Oberyn's earlier attempt to wage war on behalf of Viserys Targaryen. He reveals that he will not sacrifice Gregor Clegane to the Martells. Tyrion is shocked, leading to Tywin explaining his rationale at the time of the Sack of King’s Landing and the murder of Elia Martell and her children. Going back to the Red Wedding, Tyrion points out that the sacred guest right has been violated, something that Lord Walder would not have done without the promise of protection. Yet again, Tywin defends his actions, laying out the small price he paid for the prospect of ending the war soon, including making Roose Bolton Warden of the North. Tywin proposes that the North will ultimately be ruled by the son of Tyrion and Sansa, also alluding to Tyrion's duties in the marriage bed. Tyrion reminds him that House Lannister has just killed his wife's mother and brother.
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 to have them as far away from the Tyrells as possible, yet there has already been a brawl between Tyrell and Gargalen soliders 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. While Podrik removes the plates, 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 he inherited from Petyr Baelish. He considers some of Littlefinger's investments highly suspicious, as good as the philosophy of not letting gold sit about and get dusty sounds in theory. Tyrion regrets now that he consented so easily to the execution of the Antler Men, as he has since learned that some of them owned 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 he can leave the books. Outside, rain is in the air, making Tyrion concerned Sansa will end up getting 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 offered a role of parchment by Lord Tywin. 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 the gods of her father for her brother's victory and her mother's safety. It seems that neither the Old Gods 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, 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, Lord Tywin goes on, and the Freys can keep Jason Mallister penned at his seat while Jonos Bracken might be bribed to change allegiance and attack the Blackwoods. In the end, everyone will bend their knees, he predicts, and he is ready to offer generous terms. He is going to spare every castle expect one. Tyrion proposes that the exception will be Harrenhal, which is confirmed by Lord Tywin who announces that he has already commanded Ser Gregor Clegane to attack the castle and rid the realm of the Brave Companions. Thinking by himself, Tyrion is amused about how his father is 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 announces that he doesn't agree with generous terms and that all traitors should be executed instead. He also wants Lord Walder to send him the head of Robb Stark, 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 wave the issue away, calling it a jest, yet Joffrey insists. Tyrion tells Joffrey that he can't torture Sansa any longer, calling him a monster, prompting a sneering comment by Joffrey that Tyrion is the true monster. Tyrion replies that Joffrey should be concerned then, as monsters are dangerous and kings are dying like flies already. Joffrey and Cersei are furious about Tyrion threating the King, but Lord Tywin focuses on Joffrey instead. He advises his grandson that any king who feels the need to remind people of his powers is no true king at all. 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 capitulate, being generous 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 apologizes to his grandfather, yet Joffrey goes on, recounting how it was Robert Baratheon who fought Prince Rhaegar and won the crown while Lord Tywin was hiding at Casterly Rock. A strong king acts boldly, he announces. Lord Tywin is not amused. He thanks the King coldly for the wisdom he shared and asks Ser Kevan to escort Joffrey to his bedchamber while Pycelle shall give him some dreamwine, completely ignoring Joffrey's objection to this. 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 demands to know who put the idea into the boy's head that strong kings act boldly. Cersei suggests it was Robert. Tyrion, glad he can 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" when Cersei had 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 once so hard that it cost the child two teeth, so that she even threatened her husband that she would kill him if this ever happened 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 tells him that the boy is only thirteen and has still time to grow, yet Tyrion notices that his father is more upset than he is ready to show. Lord Tywin announcing that Joffrey needs a hard lesson reminds Tyrion of the hard lesson his father gave him when he was the same age, on one hand almost making him feel sorry for Joffrey. On the hand, 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 tells him that he doesn't enjoy being left in the dark. His father instructs him 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 wants to know 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, while distrust between King Robert and House Martell remained. Tyrion proposes that him showing Oberyn around in the brothels of the city could ease the Red Viper's impatience, jesting that he is not going to be accused of not serving House Lannister where he is needed most. Lord Tywin finds this comment very droll and asks whether Tyrion wants a motley to be sewn for him, prompting Tyrion's question whether he would be allowed to say anything he wants about King Joffrey, if he wears 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 is he going to be satisfied with receiving Gregor Clegane's head alone. 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 had thought that he and his father were in agreement that the woods are full of beasts and that even Ser Gregor was disposable. He points out that Oberyn knows that 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 intends to tell him that 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, yet 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. On Tyrion's question what he is going to tell Oberyn, if he wants to know 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:
"You deserve that motley, then. We had come late to Robert’s cause. It was necessary to demonstrate our loyalty. When I laid those bodies before the throne, no man could doubt that we had forsaken House Targaryen forever. And Robert’s relief was palpable. As stupid as he was, even he knew that Rhaegar’s children had to die if his throne was ever to be secure. Yet he saw himself as a hero, and heroes do not kill children. [...] I grant you, it was done too brutally. Elia need not have been harmed at all, that was sheer folly." "Then why did the Mountain kill her?" "Because I did not tell him to spare her. I doubt I mentioned her at all. I had more pressing concerns. By herself she was nothing. [...] Ned Stark’s van was rushing south from the Trident, and I feared it might come to swords between us. And it was in Aerys to murder Jaime, with no more cause than spite. That was the thing I feared most. That, and what Jaime himself might do. [...] Nor did I yet grasp what I had in Gregor Clegane, only that he was huge and terrible in battle. The rape... even you will not accuse me of giving that command, I would hope. Ser Amory was almost as bestial with Rhaenys. I asked him afterward why it had required half a hundred thrusts to kill a girl of... two? Three? He said she’d kicked him and would not stop screaming. If Lorch had half the wits the gods gave a turnip, 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. And refusing him would have meant keeping him loyal to Robb Stark and prolonging the war, Lord Tywin replies. He considers the price that was paid low: The Crown will grant Riverrun to Emmon Frey as soon as the Blashfish 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's 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 told her that the Lannisters have killed her mother and brother.
References and Notes
- The original version of the synopsis was copied from AOL member vbkorik27 previously at .