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


Summary:

Game of Thrones

Tyrion arrives late for dinner with Tywin and his commanders. Lord Leo Lefford, in charge of supplies, questions the use of arming Tyrion’s clansmen. Ser Kevan states that Tywin wants to place them in the vanguard under Ser Gregor. Tyrion is not pleased, but sees no choice. He loses his appetite and leaves. He returns to his tent, where his new servants, a groom, a bodyservant, and his squire, Podrick Payne, have just finished eating. Bronn is also waiting with a camp follower named Shae. Tyrion had sent Bronn to bring him a likely whore. He takes Shae into his tent. She has a smart mouth, which Tyrion likes. He tells her that she will be his servant and companion for as long as he has use for her and will take no other men while in his service. She agrees, and they have sex, which Tyrion realizes he has missed greatly.

Early the next morning, trumpets sound as the men are called to form ranks for battle. He sends Podrick scurrying to get his armor. Bronn rides up and reports that the Stark army marched through the night and is now forming battle lines. Tyrion dons a mismatched suit of armor, as his personal armor is back at Casterly Rock, and rides off to join his men. Ser Kevan commands the center of the army, consisting largely of foot, and Ser Addam Marbrand has the right, with the main horse. Tyrion is on the left, commanded by Gregor. Lord Tywin commands the reserves, as he always does. Gregor positions Tyrion on the far left of the line. The left is composed of ill-disciplined freeriders and hedge knights with little infantry support. The Stark army advances, and Gregor orders a charge. The battle becomes a personal struggle. Tyrion kills one knight, causes another to yield, and takes a wound to the right arm before the battle moves past him. Kevan brings up the center in support and Tywin brings the reserve crashing through the Stark line, breaking it.

With the battle over, Tyrion gathers his men. Shagga was wounded, but survives, Chella and Timett are unharmed, and Conn and Ulf are dead. In all, about half of the three hundred clansmen survived. Tyrion goes to find his father, furious because he knows now that he was placed on the left to die. Tywin confirms that the left was supposed to collapse and draw the Stark army in so that Kevan could flank them. Ser Addam rides up and reports that several battle commanders were captured, including Medger Cerwyn, Wylis Manderly, Harrion Karstark, and four Freys. Lord Halys Hornwood was killed. He also reports that Robb was not with the army and moved on Riverrun with his horse.

Source

Commentary:

This was a long chapter but honestly, I don’t think there was a lot here that is actually of significance. I do remember this chapter being one where Robb’s alleged military genius is first mentioned and one where he sacrifices a good many men just to distract Tywin from his real plans, so I went back (or rather, online) to look at the exact location of the armies at this point in time. I figured that if I’m going to do this re-read I should do it right. Anyway, here’s a quick summary of where everyone is as of the end of this chapter:

  • Jaime is at Riverrun where having defeated some Riverlands lords and Edmure Tully, he has encircled Riverrun and is currently sieging it from three sides.
  • Tywin is at the Green Fork, East of Riverrun, at the Crossroads Inn (it’s mentioned that Tyrion sees the innkeeper hanged).
  • Robb is in the Whispering Wood, having crossed the river at the Twins and moved South to relieve Riverrun.
  • Roose Bolton and the majority of the Stark infantry moved South on the other side of the river (I think) and meet with Tywin’s army in this chapter.

Anyway, the battle does take up a big chunk of the chapter, but one of the more critical parts of the chapter is out introduction to Shae. Knowing what I know of how thinks will turn out between Shae and Tyrion, there’s a temptation on my part to vilify Shae and think of her as a cold manipulator but honestly, I think we all know that Tyrion forgot the roles that they each played in their relationship and that eventually lead to his downfall.

“I said nothing about command. You will serve under Ser Gregor.”

Is this intended as an insult or is it just pragmatism? Or maybe, a convenient amalgamation of both? I guess fighting under Gregor isn’t the worst thing in the world if you’re Tywin’s son, but still I wonder if there isn’t some social rule that is being violated when the son of a great lord like Tywin is made to serve as a common soldier (or more accurately a lieutenant) under a minor lord like Gregor Clegane. Which reminds me – everyone called Gregor Clegane ‘Ser’ which is correct, but isn’t he technically a ‘Lord’ since he owns lands somewhere? Or is he just a landed knight? I suspect it’s the latter but I can’t remember if his father was a landed knight as well. He probably was since saving a lord’s life from wolves or whatever probably isn’t a big enough accomplishment to promote a commoner to ‘Lord’ – and there was a bit of outrage when Slynt made a similar jump in rank.

“My mother named me Shae. Men call me . . . often.”

She doesn’t lack for sass does she? Still, for some reason or another, I’ve never really liked Shae, even on my first read through. It wasn’t so much that I thought she was using Tyrion or that she would eventually turn out to be the cause of Tyrion’s downfall, though perhaps both those things played some role in it. I think what I disliked the most about her was something that she couldn’t even really control – the effect she had on Tyrion. Around her Tyrion very easily (too easily) transformed from a smart, proud man to a blind one, so desperate for approval from this one person (who by any account was an employee (if we’re being PC about it)) that he always seemed to demean himself if it meant that she would stop pouting. We’ll talk more about this when we see it in action.

“My lord father would call that insolence, and send you to the mines for impertinence.”

See, Tyrion doesn’t put up with any shit from Bronn – I mean, ok he does, a lot actually, but at least he bothers to call Bronn out on it. With Shae, even when she talks back to him, he’s all ‘That’s so clever, you’re so pretty and smart and beautiful and …etc.’ Still, there might be a point to made here that Tyrion has never really learned how to command properly – all other leaders we’ve seen, regardless of their competence, have been able to carry their authority well enough and I do think it’s important, especially in Westeros, that leaders have that aura of authority around them or they will very quickly lose their men’s (or women’s respect).

“Oh, yes,” she purred, “my giant of Lannister.”

Ah, yes, another reason why I really don’t like Shae.

“Did his brother Jaime ever contemplate death before a battle?”

Yes, but not his own. Tyrion seems to have that classic younger brother inferiority complex though I guess his height and looks don’t make that any easier. Also, it can’t help when your elder brother is the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and considered one of the best swordsmen in the world.

“Imp! Take the left. Hold the river. If you can.”

What, no talk about impertinence now, Tyrion? Then again, I too would not call Gregor out on his shit unless I really, really had to and even then I’d probably be careful about it. The man isn’t known for his restraint.

“Unless you relish the notion of having a one-armed dwarf for a son . . .”

Well played, Martin, well played. I like these nifty bits of foreshadowing though a part of me thinks that there might have actually been a time when Martin intended Tyrion to lose his arm too. I don’t know what purpose it would serve, but I’m glad it didn’t happen. I can’t imagine Jaime’s story being half as intriguing had he kept his arm – in fact, it would be nigh unreadable given how douchey he sounded before his involuntary amputation.

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