Eddard sits on the Iron Throne with part of the small council, Varys, Petyr, and Pycelle. Ser Arys stands guard at the foot of the throne, as do Alyn and Porther. Sansa is in the gallery watching with Septa Mordane. Robert is still out hunting and has been joined by Lord Renly, Ser Barristan, Prince Joffrey, Sandor, Ser Balon, Lord Yohn, and half the court. Eddard is listening to testimony from Ser Raymun Darry, Ser Karyl Vance, and Ser Marq Piper about Lannister raids that have destroyed the holdfasts of Sherrer, Mummer’s Ford, and Wendish Town. A brewer from Sherrer named Joss testifies that Gregor Clegane was the leader of the raiders. No one had been present to defend the holdfasts because all the banners had been called. Edmurehas since sent men to guard all the holdfasts, and Eddard realizes that this was probably Tywin’s plan all along to bleed off strength.1 Edmure wanted to take vengeance right away, but Lord Hoster made him send to the king first for permission.
Pycelle tries to divert the issue, first suggesting that the knights take up the matter with Gregor’s liege lord, Tywin, and then suggesting they wait for the king to return, but Eddard decides he must act. He sends Ser Robar to tell Robert what has happened and attaints Ser Gregor for treason, has him stripped of all titles, and sentences him to death. He says he would normally lead the party to bring Gregor to justice, but his leg prevents him. Ser Loras asks for the honor of leading the party in his stead, but Eddard gives leadership to Lord Beric instead. Lord Beric, Thoros of Myr, Ser Gladden Wylde, and LordLothar Mallery are each to take twenty men along with twenty of Eddard’s personal guard to see justice done. Varys comes up to Eddard afterward and says he should have sent Loras to secure friendship with the Tyrells against the Lannisters and that he should also have sent Ser Ilyn since he is the king’s executioner. Varys says Ser Ilyn was in the back and did not look happy.
This chapter was chockfull of small little details that I had forgotten, or perhaps, never even noticed. I think that in no small part because I watched the television series more recently and they obviously did some things differently. For example, I don’t think it ever stuck in my mind that Joffrey had accompanied Robert on the hunt. I don’t think it’s of any real significance, but you have to admire Cersei’s guts for poisoning Robert while he was on a hunt with half the court with him. The name Raymun Darry seems oddly familiar as well, but I seem to remember that he dies shortly after the war begins, because the Freys end up getting Castle Darry. My memory might be failing me again though, so I can’t be too sure. Similarly, Mummer’s Ford is another half-remembered name – poor people just can’t seem to catch break in this war.
In any case, there are a fair few ‘Ned-isms’ In this chapter that I’m going to bring up. Here’s the first:
“He never trusted what a man told him from his knees”
Why is this exactly? I don’t think this is a big deal, by the way – I just read it and thought that it was an odd sentiment for a high lord to have. Still, it does seem like the kind of thing that Ned would say and at the same time it shows just far out of touch with the social reality of King’s Landing he is (though no one comments on it here).
“…wondering how a man could live his whole life a few days ride from the Red Keep and still have no notion what his king looked like…”
Well, given that Robert is the king, if that particular holdfast didn’t have wine, women or…something to hunt…weasels? Do people hunt weasels? Anyway, my ruined alliteration aside, it strikes me funny, in a distinctly humourless way, that Ned would be surprised at the man for not knowing Robert rather than instantly suspecting that Robert barely toured the country side. I’m not sure if the onus here lies on the peasant or on Robert, but I’m not feeling in a very charitable mood today, so let’s just say Robert.
“Thank you, Grand Maester Pycelle,” Ned said. “I fear we might have forgotten that if you had not pointed it out.”
I hope Pycelle knows how to treat first-degree burns.
In any case, what I find most interesting about this entire roundabout way of accusing Gregor of being a violent psychopath is that for once Ned can see clearly. In politics he has painfully limited foresight but once the battleground shifts to a more militaristic one, he instantly sees the threat of fortifying the villages. It would have been fun to see a war of Robert and Ned versus Tywin and Jaime, with Robb bringing in auxiliary support from up North. Martin, please?
I wonder what Loras’ game was in volunteering to take Gregor down. I’m hoping that it was something more important than just getting revenge for the Hand’s tourney incident. Ned seems to think that that’s all there is to, and I guess there’s no reason to suspect otherwise. It’s also a good reminder that Loras is really of an age with Robb – he is as likely to make silly mistakes and misjudgements as the latter. I continue to have a hard time understanding how a 16 year old boy is capable of taking on something the size of the Mountain. I don’t really care how talented the 16 year old is – Gregor Clegane is an absolute monster.
This chapter ends in a very strange way. Varys seems to be implying something when he says that Ned made a mistake not sending Ser Ilyn, but I can’t imagine that Ilyn Payne even wanted to leave the capital. Nor is he even much of a fighter, so I really don’t understand what Varys was getting at. Was he saving that Ned would better served in long run by sending Payne out of the city? Perhaps a different executioner would be less eager to listen to Joffrey in taking Ned’s head? That’s a big stretch but I honestly can’t think of anything else right now.