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


Summary:

Game of Thrones

Catelyn and Ser Brynden are with Ser Wendel and Ser Wylis Manderly and their 1,500 levies, which include twenty knights and two hundred mounted lances. Their father, Lord Wyman Manderly, has stayed behind in White Harbor to see to the defenses, largely because he has grown too fat to sit a horse. Robb’s host is just coming into view. She rides through to Moat Cailin with Ser Wendel and Ser Brynden and finds Robb with Grey Wind surrounded by his lords bannermen, including Ser Helman Tallhart, Greatjon Umber, Robett and Galbart Glover, Roose Bolton, Halys Hornwood, Rickard Karstark and Theon Greyjoy. She informs him that Ser Rodrik is on his way north to serve as castellan of Winterfell while Robb is in the south. Catelyn sends the bannermen away to speak to Robb alone.

Catelyn fears for Robb’s safety and wants to send him back to Winterfell, but knows she cannot without causing him to lose face. Robb informs her that a letter arrived from Sansa telling him not to fight. Catelyn realizes right away that Sansa is now a hostage. Robb has eighteen thousand men, but is afraid about what might happen to Eddard and Sansa. Catelyn assures him that victory in the field is now the only option. Robb tells Catelyn of what has transpired in the riverlands. Jaime marched up the Golden Tooth and smashed a force led by Lord Vance and Lord Clement Piper. Lord Vance was slain, and Lord Clement fell back to Riverrun. Meanwhile, Lord Tywin came up from the south with an even larger army, which ambushed Lord Beric’s men from King’s Landing. Ser Raymun Darry and most of the men from Winterfell were killed. Lord Beric may have escaped, but no one knows for sure.

Robb has ordered Howland Reed to bleed any Lannister host that comes north, but knows that Lord Tywin is too smart to try and will stay in the riverlands taking castles one by one to isolate Riverrun. Therefore, Robb has no choice but to ride south to meet him. Robb’s plan is to split his horse and foot. The foot will march on Tywin and draw him in while the horse races to Riverrun to surprise Jaime. He plans to give the Greatjon the foot while he commands the horse, but Catelyn points out that the Greatjon is too brash and Robb decides to give Roose Bolton the command instead. Robb tells Catelyn he will prepare an escort to take her back to Winterfell, but Catelyn says that with her father dying and her brother surrounded, she must go to them.

Source

Commentary:

This is a hard chapter for Catelyn, but these days all the chapters just seem to be getting harder and harder. The summer is finally over and for most of these characters only dark days lie ahead. What I like about Catelyn’s POV chapters more than any others is that she is able to see through to the heart of matters and offers us an analysis of not just the political side of things but also the emotional. She loves her family and that love ends up making her chapters seem a lot more relatable.

One of the things we realize very quickly here is that Robb has gone and put himself right in the thick of things. From this point out, there’s really no way that he can withdraw from the war without it getting messy in one way or another.

“Gods be good, you might even have sent Theon, though he would not be my choice.”

This again? I really, really don’t why Theon would even be considered. Which of the lords mentioned in the previous sentence would take orders from a piss-filled brat with literally no combat experience? Still, if Robb stayed at Winterfell with Theon, then the North doesn’t fall, at least not right away, but it does mean that the Riverlands do get scoured very thoroughly with Robb to lead them to strategic and tactical victory. On the whole, I think I can say that the war would not go very well for Robb but the story might have had a happier ending overall if he had just stayed back in Winterfell, but as we discussed in Bran’s chapter, there were several reasons why he could not.

“I did hold Tyrion Lannister, but no longer”

There is a little bit of a chicken and egg situation here. If she had not captured Tyrion, this whole mess would not have started with the Starks distinctly on the back-foot. However, having captured Tyrion and starting the fire, the very least she could have done was hold on to him, honour be damned. I don’t blame the lords for their frustration though as readers we have a better understanding of the situation. I do note that it was Bolton who asked for Tyrion and I think even now he’s noting that the few advantages they hold in the war are slipping from them.

“I will be sixteen soon enough”

I remember Roose Bolton saying that child lords are the bane to any house. It’s sadly true in this particular case. Robb is in way over his head and though he does a more than credible job at floating for a long time, he was only ever delaying the inevitable.

“Roose Bolton,” Robb said at once. “That man scares me.”

There’s a little irony here given that Catelyn thinks giving the command to the Greatjon was Robb’s first misstep. It probably was, but not as great a misstep as allowing Roose to command the foot. If I remember correctly, Roose sends most of those men to their deaths on purpose with the express purpose of undermining Robb. I can’t be entirely sure though, so I’ll leave any further examination of Roose’s action till they actually occur.

“Make no mistake, Robb—these are your bannermen, not your friends.”

What they are, are a bunch of traitors and rats who need to be well and thoroughly culled from any army. I have as little sympathy towards Karstark as I do towards Bolton. Both ended up doing immeasurably great harm to Robb’s cause (well Roose singlehandedly ended Robb’s cause) and neither did it accidentally or with good intentions.

My father may be dying behind the walls of Riverrun. My brother is surrounded by foes. I must go to them.

And do what, exactly? While I certainly sympathize with her desire to see her father before he dies, I don’t really see how she hopes to help Edmure out at all. Her intelligence, while valuable, isn’t really specific to the battlefield and I personally think there’s a case to be made for her going to her children and helping rule the North.  It’s a not a particularly strong case though, I have to admit, and if I’m being honest with myself I do recognize that she needs to stick with Robb to make sure he doesn’t teenager the situation up (which he does as soon as he’s out of her sight). I just want Bran and Rickon to see their mother one last time, but I guess such luxuries are out of the question in the

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