Tyrion approaches a Lannister camp of 20,000 men with Bronn and 300 clansmen of the Stone Crows, Moon Brothers, Black Ears, and Burned Men. Gunthor stayed in the mountains to rally the other clans to Tyrion’s cause. Tyrion decides to ride ahead with Shagga, Conn, Chella, Ulf, and Timett, representatives from each of the mountain clans with Tyrion. They reach a checkpoint and are escorted to the main camp of Lord Tywin’s army. Ser Flement Brax greets them and takes them to Tywin. Lord Tywin has taken as his headquarters the very inn from which Tyrion was abducted, and Tyrion sees Masha’s corpse hanging from a gibbet.
Tyrion enters the common room to find Lord Tywin sharing a pitcher of ale with his brother, Ser Kevan. Tywin greets Tyrion coldly and treats him with disdain throughout their conversation. Tyrion learns that Tywin has destroyed the small parties that Edmure sent to stop Gregor’s raids while Jaime met Edmure before the walls of Riverrun and defeated and captured him. Lord Tytos Blackwood managed to extricate the remains of Edmure’s force and get inside Riverrun, which is now under siege. Lord Tywin took Lord Tytos’s seat of Raventree and Lady Shella Whent yielded Harrenhal for want of men to defend it. Gregor has burned out the Pipers and the Brackens. In addition to Riverrun, only the Mallisters in Seagard and Walder Frey at the Twins remain to resist the Lannisters. Marq Piper and Karyl Vance are loose in the Lannister rear, raiding. Tyrion learns of Robert’s death and Eddard’s imprisonment. Lord Beric and Thoros are also still alive and harassing the rear. Just then, the clansmen burst in on the meeting. Tyrion introduces them and begins to explain why they are there when a messenger arrives from Ser Addam Marbrand stating that Robb is moving south. Lord Tywin decides to meet him and finish him quickly so that he can deal with Stannis. He tells the clansmen that if they ride with him, all his son promised and more will be theirs.
I think this is the point in the story where I begin to lose track of who is where and what exactly they’re doing there. The last time we saw Tyrion he was leaving the Vale of Arryn, or rather, he had recently left the Eyrie but now we see him, some unspecified time later about to lock horns with Robb’s force all the way in the Riverlands. My sense of distance in ASOIAF is hardly the best, but it feels like a fair bit of time should have passed between the last Tyrion chapter and the current one. Regardless, it’s good to see Tyrion back in a place where he has some measure of power, by which I mean out of a cell and out of immediate danger. Then again, he is about to enter a battle, but apart from that, it feels like he’s back in civilization.
Tyrion’s thoughts on democracy bemuse me. On one hand, it’s pretty obvious that democracy without propership leadership can lead to a sort of deadlock where people just trade opinions rather than offer any new facts that might help the group reach a decision. This is probably a good reminder that despite how much of the ‘outsider’ Tyrion appears in his POVs, he is ultimately part of the elite – he’s just the lowest rung of that particular ladder. I think he might be in a better position to adopt a more critical view of monarchy after he spends some quality time with his eldest nephew. Reading the passage again though, I think I might have missed his point a little – he still doesn’t quite get the point of democracy but his real criticism seems to be of the lack of leadership rather than the style of rule itself.
I had also forgotten just how batshit insane the clansmen are. The Burned Men especially sound almost unreal in the extent they go to to prove their ‘bravery’. I can’t remember who it was that said ‘Stupidity and bravery are two sides of the same coin’ but that sentiment rings particularly true in the case of the Burned Men. More than burning out your own eye, I think this little bit sums up the extent of Timett’s badassery:
“even Bronn kept a respectful tongue around Timett”
If someone can get Bronn to behave, that person needs to be handled with care.
“He has taken the inn at the crossroads for his quarters.”
If I remember correctly, that inn sees way more than its fair share of trouble during the course of the war. It’s rather sad because it seemed like a fairly typical fantasy inn and it would have been nice to see something survive the impact of the war. Unfortunately:
The birds had eaten her lips and eyes and most of her cheeks, baring her stained red teeth in a hideous smile.
See, this is the type of shit that makes people not like you, Tywin. I get the tactical merits of setting Gregor loose on the Riverlands but I don’t know if I’d ever have it in me to set a thing like Gregor loose on any enemy knowing what the result would be. I guess that’s one of many reasons why I’ll never be a military genius.
When his once-thick golden hair had begun to recede, he had commanded his barber to shave his head; Lord Tywin did not believe in half measures.
Now I’m picturing Walter White.
Whenever his father’s eyes were on him, he became uncomfortably aware of all his deformities and shortcomings.
And so it begins. Almost all of Tyrion’s questionable decisions can be traced back in some way or form, to his daddy issues. Rather, to be more specific, they can be traced back to his need to be loved and acknowledged and that need can be traced to Tywin’s less than warm parenting style. I don’t know if all this really justifies the way Tyrion behaves sometimes though. You look at other examples of shitty childhoods, like Sam Tarly, and you don’t see the same level of affection seeking behaviour though it’s probably likely that the whole dwarfism thing made Tyrion’s case much worse.
The entire conversation that follows seems entirely new to me. I had no idea that the Riverlands were doing that badly until Robb came down to help them out. I’ve always wondered about why the Riverlands were considered a kingdom when they had no natural boundaries and no real way of defending themselves. Even if Edmure were a more capable leader than he is, I don’t see a way of properly defending that much land with few trained armies, much unless resisting Gregor Clegane.
“The gall of them, fighting back.”
I like the back and forth between Tywin and Tyrion. They have different senses of humour (though I don’t think that Tywin’s joking) and it keeps the dialog light and fast. Tywin also shows his calm and stoic side her as he just basically ignores Shagga smacking his guardsman around and acting all undignified.
“What brings you down from your strongholds, my lords?”
“Horses,” said Shagga.
Shagga, please. For a moment I didn’t quite realize what exactly Shagga meant. I was all, wait you came down for horses? Oh, you literally came down on horses, I get it now!