[Re-Read] A Clash of Kings – Tyrion V


Summary:

a-clash-of-kings

Tyrion inspects the Alchemists’ Guild’s supply of wildfire with Hallyne. Hallyne tells him that according to Wisdom Munciter they have 7,840 jars, including 4,000 that date from Aerys II’s day. Wisdom Malliard believes that the guild will be able to provide the full order of 10,000 jars that were promised to Cersei. The older jars are particularly fragile from age, however, and should probably have been destroyed, but the guild lost many of its members during the sack of King’s Landing and does not have sufficient personnel to do so. A large amount of the stock made for Aerys is still missing, and some still turns up from time to time, including a cache of two hundred jars discovered the year before under the Great Sept of Baelor that no one could recall having been placed there. Tyrion orders several thousand empty jars to be sent to the City Watch so they may practice loading the wildfire into catapults without breaking the jars and causing fires in the city. Hallyne thanks Tyrion for his visit, saying that no Hand has graced them with his presence since Lord Rossart, who was a pyromancer himself and appointed because Aerys had a keen interest in the guild’s work. Jaime has told Tyrion that Aerys used his pyromancers to roast his enemies alive.

Timett is waiting with Tyrion’s escort as he emerges from the Guildhall, as is Bronn, who informs him that Ser Jacelyn wants to see him as does Cersei. He goes to see Ser Jacelyn first, who informs him that Ser Cleos has arrived with Robb’s peace terms. He sees his cousin and looks over the terms, which are unacceptable. He tells Cleos that he will discuss things with the small council and that Cleos can then return with the king’s terms. When Tyrion returns to his chambers, Cersei is waiting for him in a foul mood. Tyrion is not pleased that she got into his chambers unannounced and knows that Crawn will be even less pleased because his Moon Brothers are on guard that day. Cersei is furious that Tyrion has sent Doran Martell an offer betrothing Myrcella to Doran’s son Trystane. He plans to send Myrcella to Dorne as a guest, with Ser Arys to serve as her sworn shield, until she turns fourteen, at which point she will marry Trystane. Doran will also get the land, small council seat, and justice that Tyrion told Varys about. Tyrion says it is necessary to secure Dorne’s support and that Myrcella would otherwise likely end up dead when King’s Landing falls. At this point, Cersei does something completely unexpected; she bursts into tears. Tyrion does his best to reassure her that the war is going well, but she is loath to accept comfort from him. He shows her the peace terms and says it is a good starting point. He is pleased because he knows she will have to accept the offer to Dorne, and he has uncovered an informer.

Source

Commentary:

A Clash of Kings is basically Tyrion and Arya’s book – the former gets fifteen chapters while the latter gets ten. Despite that, these early Arya chapters feel a little tedious whereas Tyrion’s feel anything but. I would put this difference down to the fact that Tyrion’s chapters feel a lot more eventful – the last Arya chapter didn’t really feel weighty in terms of plot relevance and a crude summary of the chapter would have said that Arya has gone from belonging to the Watch to belonging to Gregor Clegane and everything that happened in between was just filler that was necessary to fill the gap between those two events. Tyrion’s chapters are different: in Tyrion’s chapters, it feels like there are ‘scenes’. This chapter, for example, is split into two ‘scenes’; first, Tyrion makes his arrangements with Hallyne and then he is confronted by Cersei. Both scenes are extremely relevant to the character, his arc and the plot itself.

Let’s start by talking about wildfire. It’s one hell of a drug – fire that can’t be quenched, fire that burns on top of water, a substance that can create a green hell for sailors. Most of what is discussed here about the Wildfire is fairly uninteresting to us since we already know what Tyrion plans to use it for. However, there is this:

Once theirs had been a powerful guild, but in recent centuries the maesters of the Citadel had supplanted the alchemists almost everywhere.

In the real world, this wouldn’t be too surprising. After all, it’s only natural that science would replace superstitious hocus-pocus and once the logic and reason of the maesters was established there would be no need for the mysticism of the pyromancers. Yet, this isn’t the real world. Westeros is a place where magic is a real thing and a place with that same logic and reason isn’t always the most reliable thing. What I’m getting at here is this: do the pyromancers have their own brand of magic like the warlocks and the red priests? Is there some link then, between the fall of the dragons, suspect to be orchestrated by the maesters of the Citadel and the weakening influence that the pyromancers had once the dragons disappeared?

The next topic of discussion then is Cersei and her reaction to the news that Pycelle has given her. I have to wonder whether she would have taken the news of Myrcella being sent to the Eyrie any better than Dorne. On the face of it, she wouldn’t have much reason to fear the Eyrie – except that it was quite possible that Lysa would hand Myrcella over to the Starks. It isn’t actually likely, but it would be a reasonable concern on Cersei’s part. In all honesty, it’s pretty simple to sympathize with Cersei here. In times of turmoil like this, I think that it’s only natural for a mother to want her children nearby where she can watch over them. I’ve wondered in the past whether Cersei’s concern for her children comes from the fact that the prophecy she fears so much says that she will die only after her children, meaning that if she keeps her children safe, she should be fine too. It was an idle thought and almost definitely not the case – everything she know and see of Cersei seems to indicate that despite all her many faults, she really does love her children. That very love seems to blind her though, because in this particular situation, Tyrion is right: the Prince and Princess should be as far from the fighting as possible and Dorne would be a good place for them to go. I wonder why Tommen isn’t moved out of the city along with Myrcella. It doesn’t make sense for the King and his heir to be in a same city, especially when it is very likely to come under attack in the near future.

Cersei’s momentary show of emotion confuses me as much as it does Tyrion. I’m inclined to believe that it was genuine and that she was actually concerned for Myrcella but the whole thing just seems so un-Cersei. The whole thing seems to happen only so as to create a situation in which Martin can allow Tyrion to slowly coax her in accepting the marriage proposal because I don’t think we ever see Cersei show her emotions so openly ever again. Lastly, regarding Tyrion’s knowledge of the informer based on what Cersei knows – what was the game plan if Cersei learned of two of the plans, or all three? Surely by then, she could have figured out what he was trying to do and played her own hand accordingly. In fact, what’s to stop Littlefinger, who’s probably not the best sport about being played by Tyrion, from telling Cersei exactly what Tyrion was trying to pull? It’s nice it worked and all, but Martin needs to make some better thought through plans for his characters.

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