Catelyn sits on her horse surrounded by thirty men led by Hallis Mollen who are to take her back to Winterfell if the coming battle goes ill. Robb moves among the men preparing for battle. Ser Brynden has reported that Jaime does not know they are there. Jaime has twelve thousand foot and two or three thousand horse in three separate camps besieging Riverrun. Lord Jason Mallister has joined his strength to Robb, and remnants of Edmure’s host that retreated after the battle before Riverrun have also augmented his force. Robb mounts as Olyvar holds his horse. He rides down the line with Grey Wind and his thirty battle companions, including the sons of several great lords, Torrhen and Eddard Karstark, Patrek Mallister, Smalljon Umber, Daryn Hornwood, Theon Greyjoy, Wendel Manderly, Robin Flint, and five Freys. Also with him is Dacey Mormont, Lady Maege’s eldest daughter who has been trained as a warrior. They hear Jaime ride out on one of his frequent raids and Robb prepares his trap.
Catelyn watches Robb ride off and then listens to the battle unfold. At its conclusion, Robb rides back to her with Theon, Galbart, and the Greatjon to present Jaime Lannister, his new prisoner. Jaime killed Eddard, Torrhen, and Daryn trying to reach Robb before he was captured. In addition to Jaime, Robb’s forces captured Lord Gawen Westerling, Lord Quenten Banefort, Lord Regenard Estren, Willem Lannister, Ser Garth Greenfield, Ser Tytos Brax, Mallor the Dornishman, and Cleos and Tion Frey.
So right after the battle of the Green Fork, we get the Battle of the Whispering Woods. Rather, we get its immediate aftermath and it’s quite a victory for the Northern forces – Jaime Lannister captured and the three camps encircling Riverrun unaware of the Northern army’s presence. All in all things look good for Robb’s immediate future though I do wonder whether in the real world he lack of foot soldiers will have hurt him.
“Her men had always made her wait.”
This is a really melancholic sentence in some ways though I don’t think it was intended that way. Catelyn reflects on all those who made her wait, but if you think about it, her entire list is filled with dead men though not all of them are dead at the time. I can’t quite explain it but there a very sad emotion in her thoughts – it captures the pain of the uncertainty of not knowing if you’ll see your loved ones again. There must be a certain discomfort to being safe yourself but knowing that your father/husband/son are in danger but that you can do literally nothing to help them.
“Let him grow taller, she asked the gods. Let him know sixteen, and twenty, and fifty. Let him grow as tall as his father, and hold his own son in his arms. Please, please, please. As she watched him, this tall young man with the new beard and the direwolf prowling at his heels, all she could see was the babe they had laid at her breast at Riverrun, so long ago.”
I don’t like quoting big chunks like this because I feel it defeats the purpose of a quote but this particular passage is just plain depressing to read. Catelyn is so sincere in what she wants from her life – good health and fortune for her family that it’s just hard reading her POVs knowing that she will not get to see any of it and worse still, that it might never happen at all. People have always called Catelyn a tragic character and while I’ve understood why before, I think this re-read has helped me really feel it.
“He was not wearing a helm.”
Classic Jaime. Still the section preceding this captured the anxiety and uncertainty I was talking about earlier pretty well. Funnily enough, Catelyn watching over Robb’s first battle isn’t quite unlike a modern day, real-world mother watching her son/daughter’s graduation. There’s that same vibe of ‘when did they grow up?’ though most graduations don’t have the element of death featured quite as prominently.
“No one can fault Lannister on his courage”
Well, yes, courage is one thing Jaime hasn’t ever lacked but honestly, given how much better he is with a sword compared the sorry lot surrounding Robb, I’d be pretty confident of my own chances too. On top of that, there was almost no chance of them killing him outright so why not take as many as possible while you can? Still though, you’d think for all that, Robb’s guard might have had a little more sense than to fight the Kingslayer one at a time.
“My lady, the realm has not seen such a victory since the Field of Fire.”
Theon, please. This is literally the first battle you’ve seen, kindly do not compare a skirmish where the side with greater numbers crushes the other to a ‘battle’ where everyone dies to dragonfire.