You know, I was speaking to my elder sister about this book the other day, and apparently she’s read the first two in the series.
Book Spirit: Oh? And what did she have to say?
She said to me, “Nothing good ever happens in those books.”
Book Spirit: And you bring this up because…?
Because now I know why: every single person in any position of authority is bugnuts insane. Here, let me show you what I mean.
Eddard 2 (12)
The party heading south is on the road, and Ned is rousted out of bed early by King Robert. At the king’s insistence, the two go out for a morning ride through Ned’s lands. The king rides hard, and Ned cannot question him as they ride. Robert’s bodyguards fall behind, out of earshot, and as the day dawns Robert finally reins in.
The king is pleased with the hard ride, and half-jokingly proposes that he and Eddard should just keep riding, and become vagabond knights. Ned reminds Robert of their respective responsibilities, including to their wives. Robert grumbles a bit, and reminds Ned of the one time he had not been so faithful, resulting in his bastard child. Stark acknowledges this, but refuses to be drawn further on the subject, and the king reluctantly agrees not to press. They take a moment to examine the barrows of the First Men together, before Robert finally broaches the true reason for the early ride.
Lord Varys the eunuch, Robert’s spymaster as he had been for Aerys Targaryen, had sent word from King’s Landing. Ser Jorah Mormont, spying for Varys in Pentos, had reported the marriage of Daenerys Targaryen to Khal Drogo. Stark is less than impressed by the news, but King Robert’s hatred of the Targaryen’s bubbles to the surface. Ned is not surprised, and remembers back to the end of the war, when Tywin Lannister presented the dead children of Rhaegar Targaryen as a token of fealty. Ned had seen this as murder, but Robert claimed it an act of war; he refused to see them as children, only “dragonspawn”. The two had argued, and Eddard left to finish the war alone, only to return when his sister died.
Attempting to keep from getting angry again, Ned points out that Daenerys is little more than a child, and that Robert is no Tywin Lannister, to kill innocents. This only drives Robert further into his rage, and Ned gives up on calming him down. Instead, he points out that the girl was beyond his reach. When Robert begins muttering about the number of Dothraki Khal Drogo commands, Ned points out calmly that they do not matter while they are on the other side of the sea, with no boats. This does not appease the king, but his mutterings about the beggar king crossing the ocean give Ned the opportunity to push for Robert to appoint a new Warden of the East.
Robert is reluctant to discuss the question, but eventually admits that he promised the position to Jaime Lannister. Ned is very discomfited by this, and points out that this means that Jaime would eventually hold both the West and the East, with half the armies of the kingdom at his command. Robert refuses to hear his concerns, and forces Ned to explain why he refuses to trust Jaime. For the first time, Ned decides to tell him of how he came to King’s Landing at the end of the war, to find that it had fallen to Lannister treachery. King Robert sees this as mere repayment of Targaryen treachery, but Ned continues to tell him of how he rode into the throne room, to find Jaime Lannister seated on the throne, surrounded by his men. After Stark rode up, he stood up from the throne, and claimed to be keeping it warm for “their friend Robert.”
Rather than share Ned’s concern, Robert finds the story extremely funny, and encourages Ned to let it go. He rides off again, and Ned reflects on how he is unequal to the task he was given, and that he should be at home with Catelyn and Bran. But he accepts the inevitable, and follows his King.
So. I still question how much King Rob actually trusts Eddie, but at least he isn’t afraid that the northerner would suddenly cut him down. But I’m not sure that matters anymore, because the one thing this chapter is showcasing is that Robbie is fucking insane.
You’re exaggerating again.
A bit, maybe, but not much. Let’s set aside questions of morality for the moment; this is Westeros, after all. So, here we have Robert. First, he hates anything connected to the Targaryen with an unholy passion, enough to utterly dehumanize them (yes, yes, ok, some slight moralizing, deal with it.) Secondly, he has a throne he doesn’t want, but keeps because he took it from the people he hates so much. Third, his primary supporters are known for gaining things through treachery, and his son is practically being raised by them.
And so, when news comes that one of two remaining Targaryen in the entire world has gotten married to a barbarian chief with a great deal of local power — on another continent — does he shrug it off, or file the info away against a future need? Nope! He starts contemplating, fearing really, an invasion from the east, and wishing for a way to kill Dany and her brother, all the while ignoring problems on the domestic front.
Well. At least I know why Daenerys is in this book at all. By my prediction, Robert is going to attempt his little assassination of Dany, and whether he succeeds or not, it’s going to goad Khal Drogo into making that invasion of Westeros Robbie is so concerned about. So nice job, king.
Book Spirit: Hmm. Certain of that, are you?
Pretty sure. Once again, why else have Dany in this book at all?
Book Spirit: …we’ll see.
Oh, and speaking of domestic problems, how about those Lannisters, eh? As I believe someone earlier in the book mentioned, they really are the perfect opportunists. Tywin waited until one side was about to win the war, and then pretends to go to the other side just long enough to betray them. And it works, because Robert didn’t, and doesn’t, care about anything except his hatred of the Targaryen. So good on them, for exploiting that weakness. Glad I’m not too attached to Robert. Pity about Ned, I guess.
Ahh, yes, about Ned. An honorable guy? Sure, for the most part. Loyal? Beyond all reason. Smart? Not even slightly. What gets me, what really gets me, is that he knows that King Robbie is going to ignore everything he says, and yet he still accepted the position. Sure, Catelyn manipulated him into it, but this chapter all but states outright that he knows he’s going to be completely ineffective. That he and his girls are going to be surrounded by enemies, for no purpose. And he just goes along with it. Good gods.
Book Spirit: But you admit, the plot is starting to hang together.
Sure, I’ll admit that. I never said the book was badly written. I just hate it. Fuck tragedy anyway.
Book Spirit: Haven’t you actually stated that you have a lot of problems with how I — how the book is written?
I…don’t think so. I’ve found small details that are unclear, but nothing in this chapter. I’ve never said the writing as a whole doesn’t hang together. Well, except for the prologue, which still belongs to a different book. But even Daenerys is getting tied in, against all expectation, so we’ll see how things shake out.
Book Spirit: Heh. You’re interested now, aren’t you?
Nope. Still fucking tragedy, still don’t care about 95% of the characters. I’d still rather be reading something else…
Oh, that reminds me. I should go start my article on Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn books…
Book Spirit: Whoa, hold on! You’re not done here, are you?
I think I am. Long story short, the Lannisters are going to eat Robert and Ned alive, and good riddance. I’m done with…wait.
I just recalled something a little strange. Not sure how I want to classify it, but… When Ned was talking to Robert about the betrayal of Aerys Targaryen by Tywin Lannister, and the taking of King’s Landing, he has this thought: “Troubled sleep was no stranger to him. He had lived his lies for fourteen years, yet they still haunted him at night.” It’s position in the narrative seems to imply that he had been lying about something regarding the conquest of King’s Landing, but that makes no sense at all. So ignoring the timing of the comment, the most likely thing he could be lying about is the mother of his bastard son, Jon. The king thinks it was some peasant woman, his wife thinks it was some noble lady, so obviously Ned’s obfuscating things — but why?
Book Spirit: See? Interesting.
Not that interesting. Well, I’m off.
Book Spirit: …He’ll come around.
Next time: Dammit, Tyrion, stop trying to make me like you.