Eddard dreams an old dream of the day he was reunited with Lyanna. He rides with six friends, Martyn Cassel, Theo Wull, Brandon’s squire Ethan Glover, Ser Mark Ryswell, Howland Reed, and Lord William Dustin. Before them is the Tower of Joy, hard against the Red Mountains, and three knights of the Kingsguard, Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Oswell Whent, and the Lord Commander, Ser Gerold Hightower. Eddard tells them he looked for them on the Trident, at King’s Landing, and at Storm’s End and thought perhaps they were with Ser Willem Darry on Dragonstone, but they say that they swore a vow and do not run. Just as he and his companions close to fight the Kingsguard, Eddard wakes up.
Vayon tells Eddard he has been unconscious for six days and seven nights and that Robert commanded to be called the moment he woke up. Eddard sends Vayon to fetch the king. Alyn, now captain of the guard with Jory dead, enters and tells him that Jaime has fled the city to join Lord Tywin at Casterly Rock. Jory’s body has been sent north to lay with his grandfather. His father, Martyn, is buried at the former site of the Tower of Joy with Ser Mark, Theo, Ethan, and Lord William; only Eddard and Howland survived the encounter with the Kingsguard, and Eddard pulled the tower down afterward to make funeral cairns for his companions and the three Kingsguard. Vayon comes back to tell him that Robert and Cersei have arrived.
Eddard takes responsibility for Catelyn’s seizure of Tyrion, saying it was done at his command. Robert is unhappy that eight men are dead, Eddard’s three companions, four Lannister guards at the scene, and Tregar, who died that very morning of the blow Eddard gave him. Cersei accuses Eddard of starting the fight after coming back from a brothel drunk, but Eddard counters that he was there to visit Barra, which does not please Robert or Cersei. Eddard asks permission to bring Jaime to justice for killing three of his men. Cersei says that the seizure was unlawful and that it is Eddard who should be brought to justice. Robert wants none of it and orders Tyrion’s release and for Eddard to make peace with Jaime. Neither Eddard nor Cersei is happy. Cersei insults Robert, and he hits her, then has Ser Meryn escort her back to her chambers. When she is gone, he laments that he should not have hit her and wonders how he can fight an enemy he cannot hit. He thinks Rhaegar won after all; he has Lyanna while Robert is stuck with Cersei. He tells Eddard that he is going hunting and that, like it or not, Eddard will remain his Hand.
He dreamt an old dream, of three knights in white cloaks, and a tower long fallen, and Lyanna in her bed of blood.
This is easily another one of my favourite chapters from this book. I love the nostalgic, haunted way that Ned remembers those events at the Tower of Joy, and speculating on what exactly happened there just makes rereading it all the better. This is a chapter about the past and the present. Ned’s fever dream should be taken with a few grains of salt since it is, at the end of the day, a dream and not a memory. However, there are some basic truths that can be gained from this dream and its implication.
We’ll start with who was present at the Tower of Joy. Martyn Cassel, who I had previously thought of as Jory’s older brother but was actually his father, Theo Wull, presumably son of the Big Wull that Stannis recruits in ADWD, Ethan Glover, some kin of Robett and Galbert Glover, Mark Ryswell, related to Barbery Dustin nee Ryswell, the bitter old lady in ADWD, Lord Dustin, Barbery’s husband and of course, Howland Reed, the enigmatic father of Meera and Jojen. On the other side of the fight, we have Ser Arthur Dayne, Sword of the Morning and Rhaegar Targaryen’s best friend, Oswell Whent, formerly of Harrenhal and Ser Gerold Hightower, badass motherfucker incarnate. Oh and Lyanna in the tower. So, of course, one of the things said in favour of R+L=J is that there is no reason for three of the Kingsguard (including the Lord Commander) to be in the middle of nowhere when there is a full blown rebellion going on. They were not at the Trident where Selmy (again) allowed a member of the royal family to die during his shift. They were not at King’s Landing where their king was killed. Nor were they at Dragonstone where Viserys and Rhaella were. So what on earth were three members of the Kingsguard doing at a small tower in the middle of nowhere? Also, these were three of the more lethal members of the Kingsguard (though to be fair, Aerys’ Kingsguard was crazy strong – Jaime Lannister, Oswell Whent, Gerold Hightower, Lewyn Martell, Barristan the Bold, Arthur Dayne and Jon Darry) in Dayne, Whent and Hightower. The answer I’ve reached is that they were not just protecting the child Rhaegar believed to be the Prince that was Promised, but also the crown prince’s third and final child who would have royal blood but also one of the prince’s queens in Lyanna Stark. Rhaegar could not be sure who came to ‘rescue’ Lyanna – if Gregor Clegane or Amory Lorch came along, they would have killed Lyanna and Jon. As things turned out, I don’t really understand why these three Kingsguard decided to fight Ned – surely he wasn’t going to kill his own sister unless they thought he might kill the newly born prince. That’s the only thing in the whole puzzle that I can’t quite explain properly.
Ned’s dream is interrupted at quite an unfortunate moment because now I don’t know whether Lyanna had actually called Ned’s name (indicating she still had the strength to do so) or anything that happened after that (goddammit Poole). Robert in the meanwhile, continues to blunder around as a king. I don’t understand why he thinks Ned and Jaime declaring peace will do any good and I don’t see why he would not hear Ned out. I’m actually kind of shocked that he has the decency to at least try to suggest that Ned should not discuss his indiscretions in front of Cersei. Of course, it’s a weird kind of ‘decency’ considering he hits her shortly after (and then feels bad about that, which is actually a very common cycle of events in abusive relationships).
“How do you fight someone if you can’t hit them?” Confused, the king shook his head
King Robert Baratheon in a nutshell, ladies and gentlemen. He is the kind of doctor that would prescribe aspirin to get rid of a fever without doing anything to cure the infection causing it. He just doesn’t want to have to think about his decisions as king – he just wants to do things and things to be done. He is a terrible king and a god-awful ruler.