A Helping Hand
Book I am reading: A Storm of Swords
Booze in my flagon: Absolut Ruby Red and soda
Chapters: Catelyn III, Jaime III, Arya IV
The chapter starts with the corpses of two little boys being brought into the hall in the middle of the night. It doesn’t specify who they are just yet. They’re cousins. A blonde and a brown haired one. They remind Cat that Bran and Rickon are “dead.”
We finally find out who they are. Tion Frey and Willem Lannister. Is Willem the blonde one? Because I’m just thinking of this Willam.
I think Willam from Rupaul’s Drag Race (returning in 9 days whoo hoo!) is such a Lannister.
Anyway. Tion and Willem were Robb’s hostages and they’ve been murdered. It was a big ol’ murdery conspiracy. Eight men were involved. Two killed by Robb’s more loyal men, one critically wounded and the other five were captured and dragged into hall. The ringleader is Lord Rickard Karstark who lost his two sons in the battle of the Whispering Wood. The one where Jaime was captured.
Robb scolds Rickard. Rickard basically calls him a hypocritical mama’s boy for it being considered treason to kill Lannisters but not treason to free them. I guess that’s a fair point but did he really expect Robb to execute his own mother? Then Rickard starts taunting Robb about how he deals with treason by just scolding and then forgiving. Oh shit. Now it’s on!
At this point, the Blackfish comes running into the hall from out in the rain. Robb wants to see him privately along with Edmure and Cat so he orders Greatjon Umber to keep Rickard imprisoned and hang the other seven. Yes. He’s going to hang men who are already dead because he doesn’t want them fouling his Lord Uncle’s rivers. Of course, you may recall from ACOK that the Trident is so full of corpses that the water tastes like death so I don’t know what two more dead bodies will do. Much better to foul the air with a rotting body I guess! One of the captives begs for mercy because he didn’t do anything but watch the murders. So Robb orders him hung last so he can watch everyone die before him. Awww. Robb is all growed up!
In the private meeting, Blackfish tells them that all of Karstark’s men have fled. Rickard promised his daughter to anyone who brings him the head of the Kingslayer so it looks like the number of people hunting Jaime has grown by quite a lot. Three hundred men about. Catelyn so far has been spending the chapter sort of stewing in her guilty feelings.
Edmure says that word of the deaths of the boys can’t leave Riverrun. We find out that Willem was Kevan Lannister’s son and Tion was the son of Genna Frey, Tywin and Kevan’s sister. Genna rules. But we don’t get to meet her for awhile yet. Robb channels his dad a little bit and doesn’t think that’s terribly honorable or ethical.
Talk turns about what to do with Rickard. Robb knows he has to execute him but he’s concerned what his remaining son Harrion who is with Roose Bolton at Harrenhal will do. Even if Harrion is secretly happy to be the new lord of Karhold, he can’t be anything but anti-Stark publicly or his men won’t forgive him. Edmure suggests pardoning Rickard and keeping him hostage even though he killed two of his men, Delp and Elwood getting too Willem and Tion. Catelyn is sort of on board because they are in need of allies. The Freys haven’t responded to their back up offering of Edmure and Lysa isn’t sending aid.
Poor Robb has a bit of a frustration tantrum and we remember he’s still just a teenage boy. He gives off a kill list that’s kind of like Arya’s. But he does calms down again and declares that Rickard must die in order to preserve Robb and house Stark’s honor.
The execution happens the next morning. Right in front of the corpses of his hanged co-conspirators. Rickard will not be hung. He will be beheaded. I don’t know why. For the drama, maybe? Because the Starks and Karstarks are distant cousins, Rickard tries to tell him that if he does this he’ll be cursed as a kinslayer, but that doesn’t sway Robb at all. It took only one blow to kill but three to take the head off and there’s blood just everywhere. Afterwards, Blackfish rides off to see if he can round up any of the escaped Karstark men.
That evening, Jeyne comes to visit Cat. Robb is really depressed, she doesn’t know what to do about it and she wants some advice. She tells him just to leave him be and he’ll reach out to her eventually. Just like Ned would. It’s a kind of nice little bonding moment. Until it gets awkward that is. Cat reminds her that Robb needs and heir and Jeyne says they’ve been trying sometimes twice a day and she’s drinking some fertility brew her mom is making her.
Jaime, Brienne, and Cleos are taking a similar Riverlands tour of death and destruction we saw in the Arya chapters from the last book. Although, predictably Jaime is being an insensitive asshole about it and singing songs and making quips. Since Jaime is bored with them he starts thinking creepy and twincesty thoughts about Cersei and about how he couldn’t bear to be apart from her. As children they would sneak into each other’s beds and spoon. They started at a very young age to imitate that horses and dogs they saw mating. One time their mother’s maid caught them and until Joanna died giving birth to Tyrion, she kept them separate at night. Ewwwww. He starts fantasizing about openly marrying Cersei now that the twincest cat is out of the bag. I think Twincest Cat is my new band name now.
Jaime, ever the contrarian, also decides that he will keep his word and return Sansa when he gets to King’s Landing. Not because it would be the right thing to do. But because he thinks it would be funny to keep his word when everyone assumes he will break it.
The series of douchey Jaime thoughts is finally interrupted when their party starts getting attacked by arrows. Brienne is a badass and she shrugs off the fact that she has two arrows sticking out of her. Jaime charges the shooters and Brienne has no choice but to follow. The shooters flee into the woods.
They go back to find Cleos. He’s dead. Not from the arrows themselves. He fell off the horse and smashed his head on the ground. Jaime gives no fucks, of course. He wants his horse, his clothes, and his sword. Brienne objects to the sword part. He takes it anyway and the two of them get into a sword fight. Jaime is shocked that she’s stronger than even though she’s – gasp! – a girl.
Their fight is finally interrupted by the Brave Companions AKA the Bloody Mummers. These are the mercenaries that were working for Tywin and then Roose, depending on who was holding Harrenhal. Brienne tries to bribe them to leave them alone but it doesn’t really deter them and the Noseless guy, Rorge who you may remember from Arya’s ACOK chapters threatens to rape Brienne. The unnamed Dornish member suggests he anally rape her so he won’t have to look at her. Nice.
The leader of the gang, Urswyck, who looks like a corpse makes sure Jaime knows he knows who he is. Jaime tries to win him over by pretending that Brienne would be worth a high ransom and trying to trade on the previous working relationship with Tywin. It’s then that the Dornishman, whose name is Timeon reveals the Mummers’ leader Vargo Hoat is working for the Boltons now.
After a short fight, Jaime and Brienne who are very outnumbered are beaten up and captured. Jaime finally experiences some empathy for her as he’s pretty sure she’s about to be gang raped by them. But then he has to go piss on that empathy by telling her she’s going to be raped, which wouldn’t have happened if he’d been armed without his hands shackled together because then they wouldn’t have been taken. He recommends she don’t resist so she’s not hurt as badly. Brienne asks if that’s what he would do if he were a woman. Jaime says no, he’d make them kill him.
Jaime tries to bribe Urswyck to take them to Casterly Rock instead. He also tells him that Brienne’s home island, Tarth is called the Sapphire Isle, implying that she’s very wealthy even though that’s a lie. He even offers him a knighthood. Urswyck appears to be considering it, but then just slaps him instead. Nope. To Harrenhal they go.
Once they get to the camp where Vargo is, the lie about the sapphires does save Brienne from being too badly hurt. Jaime on the other hand (hah!) not so much. Vargo wants to send a message to the Lannisters. So he cuts off Jaime’s hand! Ouch!
The BWB and Arya and Gendry are travelling along. Every time they meet people they hear a different tale about how Beric Dondarrion was killed. Lem keeps reassuring people that he is not really dead. The outlaws chat about ransoming Arya at Riverrun and Arya wonders if Robb and Cat will even want her back after all she’s done and after she got that janky boy haircut. Just a little heart wrenching moment dropped into a witty banter scene for us.
The group gets to a place called High Heart. It’s a really high hill, sort of reminiscent of the Fist to me. It was sacred to the Children of the Forest. Tom O’Seven even says that some of their magic lingers there. The smallfolk in the area shun it because they think it is haunted. They make camp there for the night. Arya wakes up to find that the outlaws are chilling around the campfire with this little old lady. She’s talking about her dreams, which all reflect what did or will happen in the story. I’m lazy to type it all out, but it can be easily found online. She makes Tom sing her a song before she’ll use her creepy psychic powers to tell them where Beric is. He moves around a lot to avoid capture. Arya tells Harwin about the torture she experienced and witnessed from the Mountain and his lackeys and he says the BWB will make them answer for their crimes. You kind of have to like the BWB, even though they kidnapped Arya.
The next night, they get to Acorn Hall. Lady Smallwood is an ally to the BWB. When she finds out that Arya is highborn she makes her take a bath and dress in girly clothes. Arya wants to tell her “I’m not a Lady, I’m a wolf” but doesn’t. Gendry laughs at her when he sees her new getup. At dinner, during the gossip exchange. Arya and the BWB find out about the Karstarks looking for Jaime, although they don’t know why just yet. They did find out that Catelyn is the one who set Jaime free though.
Later on, Gendry and Arya wrastle after he mocks her again for looking like a lady. It’s super cute. The dress is soiled. The chapter ends a bit anti-climatically as Lady Smallwood finally gives her some of her son’s old clothes to ride in and the gang departs.
Deaths in this recap: 6. Rickard Karstark. Tion Frey. Willem Lannister. Edmure’s men Delp and Elwood, Cleos Frey.
Cumulative deaths: 95
Maybe deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative maybe deaths: 8
Betrayals in this recap: 1. Rickard Karstark killing the prisoners against Robb’s wishes.
Cumulative betrayals: 27
Incest incidents: 1. This was thought, and not deed, but Jaime’s thoughts were creepy enough that I’m going to have to count it.
Cumulative incests: 26