[Re-Read] A Game of Thrones – Catelyn VI


Summary:

Game of Thrones

Catelyn and her party are being escorted by Ser Donnel Waynwood and a party from the Vale. When Ser Donnel approached, they drew up for a last stand before realizing who it was. The clans have been bold since Lord Jon died, and Lysa has pulled all her men into the Vale of Arryn, refusing to let them leave, even for the Hand’s tournament. Catelyn asks for Maester Colemon to tend to Ser Rodrik’s wounds, but he is commanded to stay at the Eyrie at all times and care for Lord Robert. They approach the Bloody Gate, and Ser Brynden Tully rides out to greet them. They pass through the gate and leave Ser Willis and Ser Rodrik, both wounded, before continuing on. Marillion and Bronn ask to continue on with her andTyrion and she allows it.

On the way, Catelyn tells Brynden all that has occurred. She thinks how her uncle was always a good listener, except when it came to her father, whom he quarreled with often. When Catelyn was eight, Lord Hoster called Brynden the black goat ofHouse Tully, and Brynden retorted he should be a black fish since the Tully symbol is a trout. He took a black fish for his personal emblem and has been known as the Blackfish ever since. They continued to fight until the day Lysa wed and Brynden left to take service with Lord Jon. Brynden is worried by Catelyn’s story. The nobles of the Vale are angry that Jaime Lannister has been named Warden of the East and many suspect Jon was murdered. Lord Robert is sickly and weak and many feel that Lord Nestor Royce, who ruled the Vale for fourteen years as High Steward while Lord Jon was serving as Hand, should rule until he comes of age, while others believe Lysa must marry again. She has already rejected a dozen suitors. Brynden also says that Lysa may not be helpful. She is changed by hard years, including two stillbirths and four miscarriages. They ride to the Gates of the Moon, where Lord Nestor greets them. He says that Lady Lysa has asked that Catelyn be sent up right away despite the fact that it is after dark. A young woman, Mya Stone, will take her to the top. Tyrion is escorted to a cell at the Gates.

Catelyn starts her climb, which takes her past three waycastles as the journey continues, Stone, Snow, and Sky. Mya talks as they go, telling Catelyn how she is in love with Ser Lyn Corbray’s squire, Mychel Redfort, and that they are to marry when he becomes a knight in a year or two. Catelyn thinks to herself that House Redfort is one of the oldest houses in the Vale, tracing their lineage back to the First Men, and that a son of this house would never marry a bastard. The path gets narrower and windier on up, and by the time Catelyn reaches the last waycastle, Sky, she is too nervous to continue and has herself hauled up from Sky to the Eyrie in a basket. She is greeted by Ser Vardis Egen and Maester Colemon, who take her to Lysa. Her sister is all smiles until everyone leaves, at which point she turns vicious. She is furious that Catelyn brought Tyrion to the Vale and dragged her into her quarrel with the Lannisters. She had never meant to fight them, only to hide in the Eyrie. Lord Robert comes in as she shouts, and he is very sickly. He gets scared, and Lysa breastfeeds him. She wonders what to do with Tyrion, and Robert asks if they can make him fly.

Commentary:

So, in this chapter we get our introduction to Sweetrobin and the noble Lady Lysa. I hate both of them. I know, I know, hating on an eight year old child seems rather petty but still, I really, really dislike him. His mother has no real defence for her actions both in this chapter and throughout the series as a whole. This chapter had a lot of introductory material but a fair bit of it is still interesting enough to comment on.

I think it is to Catelyn’s great credit that she questions (“not for the first time”) whether Tyrion is innocent of the Bran and Jon Arryn incidents. In my memory of this book and its events, she was always resolute and stubborn that Lysa was right and that Tyrion was guilty but it’s good to see that that is not the case. I should not be surprise, actually. Catelyn has always been intelligent and any intelligent person would be second guessing themselves at this point though I guess it’s fair enough that Catelyn’s questions still lead her to trusting Lysa over Tyrion since Lysa is after all her sister. It also speaks well of her that she goes through every effort to keep Ser Rodrik alive despite Bronn’s notions of mercy (what the hell, Bronn) and I can’t help but think of Cersei when Catelyn acts like this. Two Southron women raised in similar positions (eldest children) but Cersei utterly lacks compassion towards everything except her children (and even that is debatable). I won’t say Catelyn is perfect either though – her suddenly mixed feelings towards Mya Stone the instant after learning that she is a bastard is disappointing. Not surprising, but disappointing nonetheless. The thing is that the character is intelligent enough to identify why she feels this way, but still isn’t able to do anything to change that aspect of herself (or to even seem to want to change). In a lot of ways that humanizes here and makes her incredibly realistic but there are times in fiction where realism isn’t exactly what you’re looking for – there is a certain idealism in the idea of Catelyn developing as a character to overcome (eventually) her dislike of bastards and overcoming her hatred for Jon Snow. I don’t think it will happen in this series, but my point is that the main draw of fiction (to me at least) is that it doesn’t always have to bound by reality and realism.

I wonder what Bronn’s plan was in going up to the Eyrie. He likes Tyrion well enough, but at this point it can’t be Tyrion who he thinks he will end up serving. He’s clearly going up for Catelyn and I guess it’s plausible that he hopes to find a place in her personal guard or something. Or, you know, he’s just being Bronn and wants to go see this Eyrie for himself. In either way, I think he declaration that he would be going to the Eyrie as well (rather than asking permission, as Catelyn notes) is extremely in character and is a little amusing but it’s only in hindsight that you see how drastically this little decision changes the course of events in Westeros. Without him in the Eyrie, Tyrion possibly dies and when that has a huge chain effect. Catelyn’s instincts are dead on regarding him being bad news, but I don’t think she realizes this yet.

We also meet the Blackfish. Now, I like the Blackfish well enough but I don’t love him the way that most fans do. Maybe this read through will change that, but somehow I don’t think so. I respect him and I like him but he will not be on my list of favourite characters and I think that’s fair enough given that he doesn’t get all that much screen time to begin with.  Still, he seems like a solid guy all in all and I found the image of him sitting around listening to Catelyn, Edmure, Lysa and Littlefinger all tell their stories rather endearing but also more than a little sad. There was some much potential for that family (even Littlefinger) but somehow it all went to shit in the blink of an eye. I also like how he instantly realizes that he needs to notify his brother that Tywin will march on him (Catelyn had this thought as well, but clearly the Blackfish hasn’t lost his touch). I remember thinking that it was weird that the Blackfish was the Knight of the Gate, especially since I thought that the position was something that should belong to one of the families from the Vale itself. Everyone else seems fine with it, so I guess it isn’t that unusual for an outsider to hold the position.

There isn’t a lot to say about Lysa except that is exactly the kind of character who would think that making people call Sweetrobin the ‘True Warden of the East’ is solving the problem of having Jaime be the official Warden of the East. It’s nice to see that the Warden of the East thing has its repercussions but I still don’t think I remember it every being mentioned beyond this. I’ll admit I had forgotten that it was mentioned in this chapter at all until this re-read but it’s mentioned almost in passing and doesn’t seem to be important. I feel like Lysa is suffering from strange mix of loneliness, paranoia, anxiety and stress. I don’t know if those things together are enough to classify someone as ‘crazy’ but given all that she’s been through I think it’s fair enough that she is paranoid. Still though, she is far from a pleasant character and unfortunately while I can sympathize, I cannot get myself to like the character even for the relatively short time that she lives.

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