Ser Meryn admits Tyrion to Cersei’s chambers, where she is listening to Lancel sing. Tyrion asks to speak to her in private, and Lancel leaves. Tyrion informs Cersei that Stannis has besieged Storm’s End and that Renly is riding to meet him. They share a laugh at their good fortune, and Cersei even hugs Tyrion for a moment. They share a cup of wine to celebrate, and Tyrion poisons hers. The next morning, Cersei is indisposed as planned, leaving Tyrion to meet with Ser Cleos without her interference. He ascends the Iron Throne, flanked by Bronn and Ser Preston. Courtiers in attendance include Sansa, Lord Gyles, Ser Ilyn, Ser Horas, Ser Hobber, and Tyrek, who married Lady Ermesande three days ago and is now mocked as “Wet Nurse” by his fellow squires. Lord Petyr, Varys, and Pycelle are also present. Ser Cleos enters, and Tyrion gives him alternate terms to send back to Robb. Robb must swear fealty and return to Winterfell. Jaime is to be freed and Robb’s host placed in his command to march on Stannis and Renly. Each of Robb’s bannermen must send a son, or a daughter if without sons, to King’s Landing to serve as hostages. As to prisoner exchanges, Tyrion will trade Harrion Karstark and Ser Wylis Manderly for Willem Lannister and Lord Medger Cerwyn and Ser Donnel Locke for Tion Frey, because any Lannister is worth two northmen. Ice, Sansa, and Arya will be returned when these terms are met; Eddard’s bones will be returned now as a gesture of goodwill. During the course of announcing these terms, Tyrion reveals that Prince Doran has consented to betroth Trystane to Myrcella and declare for Joffrey. Tyrion decrees that Vylarr and his entire guard will escort Ser Cleos back to Riverrun. Vylarr is aghast, but there is little he can do.
When the audience concludes, Ser Alliser forces his way to the floor and demands to be heard. He wants to speak to the king, but Tyrion says he is unavailable. Ser Alliser recounts the incident with the wights and warns of a grave threat in the far north, though he no longer has the wight hand to show, as it rotted away while he was kept waiting. He is mocked by nearly all present, including Tyrion, who nevertheless promises to see that he gets recruits from the dungeons and streets. After the audience, Lord Petyr speaks to him angrily for deceiving him about Myrcella and leaves. Tyrion confers with Varys. He says that Cersei will consent to having the guard sent away because it is part of his plan to free Jaime. He has recruited a poisoner, a thief, a mummer, and a murderer and plans to send them to Riverrun disguised as guardsmen. Ser Cleos leaves that afternoon.
At midnight, Tyrion, accompanied by Timett, Shagga, and some of their men, pays a visit to Grand Maester Pycelle. They discover him in bed with his young female servant. Tyrion has Timett escort the girl out and then gets down to business. He accuses Pycelle of giving one of the letters for Doran to Cersei instead. Pycelle denies it and tries to blame Varys, but Tyrion reveals that he told Petyr and Varys different stories about which royal children were being fostered where so that he would know which one spoke to the queen. Pycelle still denies it until Shagga begins to shave the Grand Maester’s beard with his axe. Pycelle pleads his loyalty to House Lannister, saying it was he who convinced Aerys II to open the gates of King’s Landing when Tywin came. With Rhaegar dead, Aerys mad, and Viserys and Aegon too young, he had hoped Tywin would become king. Tyrion also accuses him of killing Lord Jon, but Pycelle claims he tried to save him. After a little more prodding from Shagga, he admits that he let the poison run its course, but continues to deny doing the actual poisoning. He says that Jon knew of Cersei’s incest and that even though the queen never gave him a direct order, he could see that she wanted it done. Tyrion tells Shagga to lock Pycelle in one of the black cells.
So, in this chapter, Tyrion gets to head the court where he continues to be clever, except not really. I’m realizing that a lot of the time that we think Tyrion has done something deft and politically adroit, a lot of the times it’s because we are told this either by seeing Tyrion’s intention behind them or because someone (usually someone who would know about political adroitness like Varys or Littlefinger) tells us so. This chapter is a particularly good place to point this out, as it happens. We will also be talking about Tyrion and Pycelle today as well the siege of King’s Landing and the Baratheon brothers, yet again.
Tyrion had been annoyed when the red cloaks had dragged a half dozen of the scabrous prophets down to the dungeons without consulting him, but they were not important enough to battle over.
How many of these small things, that he assumed were not worth fighting over will come back to haunt him later? I can completely understand why Tyrion might not want to battle Cersei over every small action she takes that he doesn’t agree with but at the same time, I’m pretty sure that he knows that he isn’t particularly popular among the smallfolk. This is Tyrion’s real challenge – he cannot operate like he truly wants because he lacks the absolute authority that his father commands yet at the same time, he cannot in good conscience let Cersei run roughshod over the city. It is interesting though that he doesn’t consider the ramifications of randomly jailing the populace.
“He took it as a slight.”
“It was meant as a slight,” Cersei said.
Why exactly was Robert so strongly anti-Stannis? I mean, I know that no one really like Stannis within the novel’s universe but nothing I’ve seen of Renly’s interaction with Robert suggests that Robert preferred Renly all that much either. Maybe Renly was young enough that Robert hoped that he would turn out more like Robert himself and that Storm’s End was his investment in the future? Then again, we don’t know that Cersei is right when she says that it was meant as an insult. You have to feel a little bad for Stannis though, having to beg and plead to keep the home that he almost died protecting for Robert.
Tyrion’s terms to Robb seem fair enough. I’ve always said that Robb’s terms are far too greedy to ever be realistic and I’ve even suspected in the past that this was intentional; Robb didn’t actually want any peace (especially since he’s winning the war at this point, or at least doing well enough that he doesn’t really need to consider surrender just yet). Still, I think Tyrion’s trade suits Robb just fine for now. Robb never really thought that the Lannisters were going to trade Jaime for Sansa and Arya in any case and getting four northern captives for two Lannisters is good bargain by any measure. Plus, he gets his dad’s bones in the process, which is nice.
“I like her uneasy,” said Tyrion.
It’s too much and it’s too obvious. What seem like deft moves originally, just seems stupid on hindsight. Sure Tyrion’s reasoning to Cersei that four among a hundred is easier to conceal but there’s no way that she’s stupid enough to think that he’s not intentionally depriving her of her guard. He might claim to like her uneasy but as it turns out Cersei gets pretty resourceful when her back is against the wall and someone with ‘resources’ that he would like to protect, like Tyrion, ought to be a little more careful with how he pushes people into corners.
“I prayed it should be your good father, but Robert was too strong, and Lord Stark moved too swiftly…”
So, in other news, Pycelle is a piece of shit. I had totally forgotten about the above quote but it would make total sense that Pycelle would want his man-crush Tywin on the throne. From a more objective standpoint though, I wonder if Tywin wouldn’t have made a much better king than Robert. I guess he would have though I don’t think that anyone would have been happy with that arrangement. Robert fought hard against the Targaryens and even though he didn’t want the throne, there’s a difference between not wanting a throne and letting someone who’s sat out literally all the war just step in and claim it. I doubt that Ned would have been too pleased with Tywin just cutting everyone else out of the deal and there is also Jon Arryn to consider. You have to wonder why Pycelle never gave his undying loyalty to a man like Jon Arryn. Arryn was wise, capable and honourable and while he probably didn’t have the ruthless cold streak that Tywin did, I would have thought Arryn to be much more deserving of mindless, timeless worship than Tywin.
“He knew,” Pycelle said. “About . . . about . . .”
I just don’t get this man. I mean, if you know that your beloved queen is a brother-fucker, why on Earth are you so obsessed with serving House Lannister? I’m telling you, sooner or later we’re going to find out that Pycelle was legitimately in love with Tywin and when he couldn’t get him, he just turned into one of those creepy stalker types.
He was the one I’d hoped to trust.
Was he really? I mean, even if Pycelle hadn’t delivered the message, I don’t think that would have made him particularly trustworthy.