Ahem. Let’s read A Game of Thrones!
Eddard 6 (27)
Janos Slynt, Commander of the City Watch, has come to complain to the king’s council about the security of King’s Landing during the buildup to the Hand’s tourney. He needs more men to combat the rise in crime. Lord Renly Baratheon is not sympathetic, but the King’s Hand Eddard Stark immediately orders more men hired, and commands Littlefinger to find the funds to pay them. He also temporarily detaches twenty men from his own guard to help the watch, and Slynt departs gratefully. After the man leaves, Ned grumbles about the tourney being held in his name, and Pycelle points out that such events are good for the realm, bringing wealth to many. Littlefinger and Renly start joking about whores, and the name of Renly’s prudish brother Stannis Baratheon comes up. Ned wonders aloud when Stannis would return from Dragonstone and resume his seat on the council, but the only response is another joke from Littlefinger.
Ned returns to his tower, and while he waits for his man Jory to arrive, he begins to study the book he had received from Pycelle, The Lineages and Histories of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms, With Descriptions of Many High Lords and Noble Ladies and Their Children. It is about as boring as it sounds, but Ned feels that there must be some sort of clue to Jon Arryn’s death hidden within. Jory soon arrives, and Ned asks him about the former stableboy turned watchman who had worked in Arryn’s household. He had previously had Jory speak to the other three former servants, and had turned up a variety of rumors, none earthshaking; however, it turns out that the former Hand had been spending a good deal of time with Lord Stannis. Stannis had accompanied Arryn to visit an armorer to commission an expensive set of armor, and on another occasion they had visited a brothel together, though Jory had not been able to discover which one. This latter news shocks Ned, as it was completely out of character for Stannis to visit whores. Ned decides to pursue the only lead he has, and dresses well in order to intimidate the armorer Arryn and Stannis had previously visited. He leaves Jory with the instruction to start investigating brothels, a task much to his liking.
Eddard travels through the city, watched by many eyes, and witnesses one Lord Beric entering the city. He does not pause but continues on to his destination, the shop of the successful armorer, Tobho Mott. The man takes some time trying to interest Ned in his wares, and mentions that Lord Renly’s antlered armor was created by him. Ned is not interested, however, and turns the conversation toward the visit of Jon Arryn. Mott is not happy, but he admits that Arryn and Stannis had come to visit ‘the boy’. Intrigued, Ned asks to see the boy as well, and Mott takes him back to his forges and calls out an apprentice boy named Gendry. Ned examines the boy, and is shown a helm that the boy had made. He offers to buy it, but the boy refuses, causing his master to panic a bit. Ned is not upset, however, and questions Gendry about Lord Arryn’s visit. Gendry answers a few questions, and Ned sends him back to his work. Turning to Mott, Ned asks him who paid for the boy’s apprentice fee, and the armorer reluctantly describes a stout man, with a brown beard with hints of red. The lord had hid his face, but he was well dressed. Ned reaches a conclusion about Gendry’s actual identity, but Mott does not acknowledge it aloud, saying that it doesn’t matter to him where his apprentices come from. Eddard respects this, and tells the armorer that if Gendry ever wants to learn to use arms instead of make them, to send him to Eddard for training. He leaves, wondering why Jon Arryn had had an interest in one of King Robert’s bastards.
Good afternoon, everyone. Today, Ned has learned something of great importance, but doesn’t seem to have realized what it is yet. Poor guy.
Hey, introduce us at least!
Please be patient, our Lord has not forgotten us.
Spydra: He’s not my Lord!
Fang of Shadow: Just wait, little one.
…Right. With me today is the Fang of Shadow, demon extraordinare.
Fang of Shadow: Greetings, mortals.
Also joining us is a cute little spider who is hanging around for some reason.
Spydra: I am not a spider!
Setting that aside, I’m starting to admire Eddard Stark a little.
Spydra: Quit ignoring me! But, I thought you didn’t like Eddard Stark.
Well, I don’t, really. But look, it’s becoming very obvious that there are a lot of vested interests in King’s Landing, and he’s been thrown into a position of high authority without the knowledge or, let’s face it, the innate treachery needed to successfully protect oneself. Nevertheless, he is going about his business without compromising, without backing down, and without fear of the consequences. Mind you, I think part of that is that he is just too ignorant to understand what the consequences might be, but at the very least he is going to end up shaking the foundations of his kingdom through his ham-fisted investigation.
Spydra: Wait, so are you complimenting him, or insulting him?
Well, it’s a complicated feeling. So, let me put the question to you two: what does the end of this chapter suggest to you?
Spydra: With the King’s son? I’m not sure what you’re asking…
Fang of Shadow: Hmm. Two important members of the king’s council visiting an unacknowledged son of the king, the current heir is a feckless puppet…do you suspect a succession crisis, Lord?
Ding ding ding! I suspect exactly that. But Ned doesn’t seem to, at this point, which could end up costing him. He doesn’t know the sides, he doesn’t know who has the upper hand, and his successor who might have known has already been killed. Basically? He’s screwed.
Spydra: Um. I suppose? But at least he’s discovered something, right? He might put it all together…
Sure, raise of hands: who thinks Ned is gonna survive this fight?
Fang of Shadow: Lord, that isn’t fair. You of all people understand the depths of this tragedy.
Ah, sorry. But no, I don’t think Eddie’s gonna make it in time. Just a feeling.
All right, let’s let Ed go for now, and focus on our new character in absentia: Lord Stannis Baratheon. So, the guy was working with the former Hand, and looking over at least one of Robert’s bastards, among other strange activities. Now that the guy he was working with is dead, he’s taking the opportunity to get the hell out of town. Personally, I think he’s the smartest character in the novel so far, and we haven’t really met him yet. Well, he sounds like kind of a jerk in person, though.
Spydra: You think he’s smarter than Tyrion Lannister?
Oh sure, ask the tough question. Tyrion’s kind of a genius, I guess, but he doesn’t seem ready to tell his family to go blow yet; or at least, he’s still attached to his brother. So, he’s probably going to get involved in this bullshit whether he wants to or not. I wish him luck, though, which is more than I’m willing to offer most of these fools.
Fang of Shadow: How magnanimous.
Great, now you’re making fun of me too.
Fang of Shadow: Apologies, Lord.
No big deal. So, do we have any further questions here?
Spydra: Yes, when are you going to start working on your own projects?
…any further questions about this chapter? Give me a break already…
Fang of Shadow: If you have nothing further to say, Lord, we have nothing further to add.
Spydra: Hey, quit talking as if you speak for me!
Fang of Shadow: Apologies, little one. Did you have something to add?
No fighting, you two. Alright, it seems we’re done here, let’s all meet again for the normal release date on Wednesday.
Fang of Shadow: As you will, Lord. Good day to you, mortals.