Tyrion is in a cell being taunted and tormented by his gaoler, Mord. One end of his cell is open to the sky, and Mord says that he will jump to his death eventually. Tyrion thinks back to how he got into this predicament. It began during his audience with Lord Robert and Lady Lysa. Lysa accused him of murdering Jon, causing him to become very annoyed and very sarcastic. Robert almost had him killed before Catelyn reminded Lysa that Tyrion is her prisoner and not to be harmed. Ser Vardis took him to a cell instead, where he is routinely mistreated by Mord. He wonders whether Jaime and Cersei really did conspire to kill Jon, and wonders why the attack on Bran was so clumsy, finding that odd. He thinks that someone may be trying to start a feud between Stark and Lannister. He decides that he will die if confined in the cell much longer and decides he must get out. He calls for Mord and promises him gold in exchange for aid. Mord is reluctant at first and starts beating him, but finally consents to take Tyrion’s message to Lysa that Tyrion is ready to confess his crimes.
That night, Ser Vardis comes for Tyrion and brings him before the Lady Lysa. All the powerful houses of the Vale are represented in the High Hall. The attendees include Ser Brynden, Lord Nestor, Ser Albar Royce, Ser Lyn Corbray, Lord Eon Hunter, Lady Anya Waynwood and her sons. Others present bear sigils he does not recognize such as a broken lance, a green viper, a burning tower, and a winged chalice. Ser Rodrik, Ser Willis, Marillion, and Bronn are also there. As Tyrion enters, Bronn looks pointedly at him with hand on pommel. Tyrion steps forward and begins confessing his crimes, that he lays with whores, gambles, mocks, etc. Catelyn accuses him again of plotting to kill Bran, and he denies it. Lysa is about to send him back to his cell, but he demands a trial. Lysa says Lord Robert will hear his case, but Tyrion demands trial by combat. Lysa appoints Ser Vardis as her champion and Tyrion names Jaime, but Lysa will only allow him to choose someone who is present. Bronn stands up and volunteers.
I hadn’t realized that Tyrion’s imprisonment and trial had happened all in one chapter. This is a fun chapter just because it’s great to see Tyrion game the system and find a way out of Lysa and Catelyn’s clutches just through pretty much sheer guts alone. In fairness though, this chapter was just a huge gambit by Tyrion which he had to make before Mord abused him into suicide (seriously, basic human rights need to be a thing in Westeros soon). I would say that Tyrion outplayed Catelyn and Lysa, but the truth is that Catelyn probably knew that he was up to something even if she didn’t know what exactly – she could have guessed instinctively that Bronn was close enough to Tyrion to champion him if the odds were good enough. However, she was bound by the fact that had little authority over the matter and it took all her influence just to keep Lysa from executing Tyrion right there. Rather than demonstrating Catelyn’s intelligence, it actually ends up highlighting Lysa’s stupidity.
Before we talk more about the justice system, let’s talk about the Eyrie and the sky cells. I’ve always loved the concept of death by drop that the Eyrie uses. It does strike me as a more ‘elegant’ method of execution, even if it is a little gruesome. However, Martin’s inability to understand lengths and distances boggles the mind. Here, he says that the Eyrie, the third and final castle, is six hundred feet above Sky, the second castle. The Wall is seven hundred feet tall and that’s already utterly ridiculous. For reference, Tower 42, the second tallest building in London, stands at six hundred feet and back in ASOIAF, the height difference between Sky and Stone is said to be even greater. I wonder how Lysa et al even breathe properly at that height.
Then we have Tyrion who is actually is both silly and badass in this chapter. So he gets a quick read on Mord (not the hardest thing given that Mord seems a little Hodor) and plays him like a fiddle. However, Tyrion is absolutely right in thinking that if he didn’t let pride get to him, he could have gotten a much better deal than the damn sky cells and Mord. The weird thing is that you would have thought that a life time of belittling and scorn would have stripped Tyrion off of such notions of pride and its worth. In any case, Tyrion makes a big gamble here without any real backup plan and the only guarantee in his head that he would not have been executed was because he was Tywin’s son. However, Lysa gives no shits about any potential repercussions because she’s in the Eyrie – but what about the rest of the Vale? The Eyrie is impenetrable but it relies on the rest of the Vale for supplies, so how exactly does Lysa plan to survive a siege?
Tyrion’s big mouth is actually what makes him such a popular character – he is one of the few people to call it like he sees it, but that trait is actually a double-edged sword in politics. It allows him to cut people down to size when needed but it makes him a bunch of enemies very quickly. His trial itself is something of a farce especially since Lysa and Catelyn can’t seem to decide what to accuse him of and so accuse him of both things which makes it seem all the more ludicrous that he committed either crime. His thoughts on who sent the assassin after Bran are clearly a blatant red herring since it implies it could be someone else when in fact it was just Joffrey being an asshole again. Once again though, I must ask whether Tyrion knew about Jaime and Cersei. It seems plausible that he didn’t, but the way he thinks that either of them sent the assassin makes me think that he knows that they have a secret to hide or he’s be puzzled at why they sent an assassin at all.
On a minor, ending note, did anyone else notice that gouty old Lord Hunter offered to champion Lysa when he thought he was up against Tyrion? I wonder what he would have done if Bronn stepped up, then.