Hey, there. Merry Christmas, or whatever, time-bound souls. Wish I could say that I was having a merry time, myself, but frankly, things are rough. My essence is unstable, my mortal shell is acting strangely, and I’ve been hearing worrisome noises coming from the Gate. Furthermore, Fang of Shadow is off doing his actual job, leaving me with no one to talk to. Oh, the book spirit came back, but now she’s hiding for some reason. No help there. Even the jackal puppies are off doing… something. They told me it was a secret, so I didn’t look into it.
Also, on top of everything else, I’m having trouble connecting to the internet. I know the problem, but it’s not something I can easily solve at this time. So the heavens alone know whether this can even be posted on time.
Well. Fortunate that my readership is small, then.
Eddard 4 (20)
Ned arrives at the Red Keep in King’s Landing thoroughly out of sorts, and is immediately summoned to meet with the small council. He sends his steward to get his household established in the Tower of the Hand, and goes to meet the council. There, he finds the eunuch Varys, Lord Renly, Littlefinger, and Grand Maester Pycelle. The men exchange pleasantries, or barbed jabs in the case of Littlefinger and Ned, and Pycelle suggests that they start the meeting.
The men seat themselves. Ned suggests that they wait for King Robert and Ser Barristan, but Renly assure him that Robert is unlikely to come. He pulls out an order from the king, and Littlefinger passes it to Ned, who stares at it in disbelief. Renly informs the rest of the men of the content: Robert has ordered a tourney to be held, celebrating Eddard Stark’s appointment to the post of Hand. The prizes amount to a total of ninety thousand gold pieces, even before factoring in other expenses. Pycelle asks Littlefinger if the treasury has enough within, and Littlefinger drily reminds him that the treasury has been empty for years. Ned is shocked to learn that the kingdom had debts totaling more than six million gold pieces, owed mostly to the Lannisters. He decides to discourage Robert, and refuses to plan any further tonight.
On his way back to the Tower, he is intercepted by Littlefinger, who leads him away through the keep, and eventually out a secret entrance. Ned is suspicious, but follows when Littlefinger tells him that he is being brought to see Catelyn. They finally arrive at a brothel in the city, and Littlefinger tells Ned that his wife is inside. Ned is enraged, but is stopped from assaulting Littlefinger by Ser Rodrik. He is led inside, where Catelyn is waiting. Ned is wholly confused, but Catelyn explains how Bran was attacked, and that the knife had belonged to Tyrion Lannister. Ned thinks about how Bran’s wolf had saved him, and how he had just killed Sansa’s, and he is filled with a sense of foreboding.
Littlefinger warns the Starks that the dagger is not enough evidence to accuse the king or queen, and suggests that Ned drop the matter. Ned refuses as a matter of course. Catelyn tells Ned that she has informed Littlefinger of their suspicions about the death of Jon Arryn, which fails to please Ned, but he decides to make the best of it. Catelyn is concerned that Varys knows more than he should, but Littlefinger suggests that he has the eunuch under control, and that they should concentrate on the Lannisters. Ned internally agrees, and tells Catelyn to return to Winterfell. Littlefinger leaves them for a moment, and Ned tells Catelyn to make preparations for war, just in case. She is frightened, and Ned tries to soothe her; but he knows that, eventually, he will have to tell the king everything, and then everything will depend on the kind of man Robert truly is.
My first thoughts are how wonderfully true-to-life this chapter is. So, Robert’s kingdom is having cash flow problems, eh? Only one thing to do, then: borrow money and spend it like there’s no tomorrow! Yeah, we’ve had quite a bit of evidence so far that Robert is a crappy king, as well as a crappy human being, but this more or less confirms it. Well, let’s be fair (lol) and point out that he isn’t necessarily incompetent; he just doesn’t care. So that’s Robert Baratheon’s contribution to the ongoing tragedy: he could have headed it off, but he just can’t be bothered.
And then there’s Ned. I will say one thing for the guy: he may be two or three steps behind everyone else, but at least he knows it. He is out of place, his morality is a relic, and his stiff-necked honor is going to get him killed. But in his own mind, at least, he is properly preparing for the future, so good job, I guess.
And no, you shouldn’t have allowed the wolf to be killed. Gonna cost you, that one.
And how about Littlefinger, hmm? Certainly, he is competent, and he is absolutely correct that no one would think to look for Catelyn Tully in a brothel. (In my case, it would be because I knew she wasn’t smart enough to hide at all.) I can’t help that feel, though, that Ned had the correct reaction, and that Littlefinger truly views her as a whore. Well, there isn’t anything like proof of that yet, so maybe not. Maybe that’s just my rampant hatred of Catelyn projecting itself onto other people. But still.
By the by, speaking of textual errors, the line is written, “Can you think of a less likely place to find a Catelyn Tully?”, emphasis mine. This seems wrong; it should either be “find a Tully?” or “find Catelyn Tully?”, not both. Editing team, get on that!
Well, anyhow. I guess what this chapter best demonstrates, is that the story’s problems aren’t really based on recent events. Things were bubbling for a long time, before the story began, and what we’re reading is the logical conclusion of a lot of mistakes by a lot of people. Although, maybe mistakes isn’t quite right either. Maybe it’s a failure of follow through…
What was I talking about?
Never mind. I have a stalled project to work on, so I’ll cut this here. We are about a quarter of the way through the book, so… a little over a year left to go? I do want to shave those numbers somehow though.
Anyhow. Those of you who can, have a happy holiday season. For those who can’t, join me in looking forward to better days…
Next time: Back to the only man with something resembling a sense of humor!