Continuing with our theme of final chapters, we catch up with Tyrion who will shortly awaken to find that his world, or King’s Landing at least, has moved on without him. He is no longer the Hand of the King and, since he wasn’t around to promote himself, his contributions to the war effort have been largely ignored. In a weird way, Tyrion’s current situation is both a slap in the face and a blessing in disguise. Were Tyrion a little less fixated on keeping his place in court and a little warier of the threat Cersei, Pycelle and the rest of his enemies posed, he would have used this opportunity to silently slink off and live out the rest of his life somewhere else. As of the end of this chapter, Tyrion has no real duties – he is not Hand of the King and certainly no one expects him to fight on the front lines and as such he has no reason to stay in King’s Landing but as we will see in this chapter and over the course of the ever approaching A Storm of Swords, it isn’t easy for Tyrion, especially, to go from the heady heights of being the Hand to becoming just another non-descript noble. It won’t be the sole factor that leads to his undoing but it’s certainly a major contributing cause.
For now though, Tyrion is still recovering, still coming to terms with his injury and further disfigurement. If you recall, in my discussion of the previous chapter, I compared Tyrion’s brief experience on the front lines to a nightmare and there is definitely a sense here that Tyrion is waking up from one nightmare only to find that some of the horrors he dreamed are true. I don’t really have any quotes that I want to focus on in the first couple of pages of this chapter but I will make a few general observations. Fans and critics alike have both noted that Martin’s prose tends to read as though it was written for television and I found myself reminded of this in the first section of this chapter. A lot of the paragraphs describing Tyrion going in out and of consciousness and seeing the aftermath of the battle translate very easily in my head into a more visual form. I don’t know if this is because of the more description heavy nature of the scene or because its structure is so familiar to similar movie/television scenes but the effect was definitely there. Beyond that, I will confess to not being absolutely 100% clear on how Tyrion got from the water to the bed chamber or which voice belonged to whom but I’m also pretty sure none of that is crucial information. Various court officials visit and a good amount of time passes by – the important thing being that while Tyrion hasn’t been forgotten, matters at the court (as seen in Sansa’s final chapter) have been carrying on without him. It’s understandable but so is Tyrion’s resentment at being so callously discarded. Tyrion also has a heartbreakingly earnest dream in which he is celebrated and cheered; knighted by his dear brother and loved by all. It really shows that all Tyrion ever wanted was to be acknowledged – had any faction in the war given him that, he would quite gladly have died for them. Martin tugs at our heartstrings further by giving us an absurdly sweet glimpse of Tyrion’s married life before snatching it all away. It really makes you feel for Tyrion and sort of saps this victory at King’s Landing of any last vestige of glory it might have had.
“Bring it,” he had to say. His mouth was stiff and sore, as if a punch had split his lip. “And drink. Wine. No poppy.”
Seriously? A few hours out of a coma and he’s already drinking? At this point, the Maester could have just left and Tyrion would probably have just gone back to sleep. Tyrion is also kind of a dick to the poor Maester – grabbing his chains and threatening him. I’m a little surprised that Tyrion has that kind of strength in him given his condition. As has been the case throughout the book, we see the reasoning behind Tyrion’s actions in this chapter but no one else does. Tyrion is understandably paranoid but all the frightened Maester sees is this disfigured, angry, violent little man physically threatening him and making demands. Tyrion has a notorious inability to make friends and it’s just such a shame.
Cersei must have paid him to see that I never came back from the battle.
In all honesty, this is probably the most interesting line in the chapter. As far as I can tell, there is really no evidence that Cersei was the one who ordered Tyrion’s assassination. She certainly had a motive, means and opportunity but nothing in her future internal monologues mentions this attempt. A likelier possibility would be none other than Littlefinger – he had realized that Tyrion was no Ned/Jon Arryn and had moved to take Tyrion out of the equation sooner rather than later. I doubt that Tyrion playing Littlefinger for a fool earlier in the book helped matters much. If this is the case, when would Littlefinger have provided Moore with these orders? Littlefinger has been gone for a long time and it beggars belief that even Littlefinger would plan things out so long in advance. We don’t really give much credence to the act that Moore could have acted on his own; after all, Tyrion was pretty insulting to most of the Kingsguard and it’s not totally ridiculous that Moore would decide to take matters into his own hands. Then again, it would just be weird if that were the case and also, Moore doesn’t strike me as the kind of person with a lot of initiative; and Martin doesn’t strike me as the kind of writer who would just throw something in like that without giving it a greater purpose.
With that, the chapter pretty much ends with nothing further of note happening. We learn that Tywin has come and saved the city, but we already knew that thanks to Sansa’s chapter. We learn that Bronn has become a knight but that’s no big deal. We learn that Tyrion hates himself even more now but that’s hardly a surprise either. Tyrion’s path wasn’t the same as Ned’s, not nearly, but yet he finds himself out of power and if not quite disgraced, then not exactly honoured either. Over the course of this book, though he doesn’t realize it just yet, Tyrion has slowly been digging his own grave. First in making so many enemies at court, then in keeping Shae around, all the seeds that will eventually bring him down have been gradually germinating throughout his chapters in this book. They will all come to a head in A Storm of Swords but that’s a while away. Up next – Jon!