Book I am reading: A Storm of Swords
Booze in my flagon: Pinot Grigio
Chapters: Sansa VI, Jon IX, Tyrion X
They arrive in the Fingers after a rough sea journey. Sansa has been sea sick and traumatized the whole time. She feels guilty that Tyrion is about to go down for murdering Joffrey even though he’s innocent. Littlefinger tells her he gave Tysha, his first wife to his guardsman to make her feel better about that.
Big surprise, LF was misleading Sansa about going home. He meant his home. Not Winterfell. His home is the Fingers for a couple of weeks, then on to the Eyrie where he’s going to marry Lysa. Yes that’s right. We will soon be getting another encounter with the queen of attachment parenting. I’m pretty sure that if Lysa had been around in 21st century US or UK, she’d be one of those insufferable mommy bloggers.
Sansa is disappointed not to be going home even though the North is overrun with Iron Born and Boltons but she’s somewhat comforted because surely Lysa will be kind to her own niece. Oh, honey.
A pathetic looking assortment of servants meet Sansa and Littlefinger’s party. Including a fat middle aged woman named Kella who pops out bastards every couple of years and never knows who their fathers are because she doesn’t ever turn men down.
I guess patriarchal monarchy doesn’t guarantee that there will be no single mothers and sex outside of marriage after all.
Another of the servants tells them that there’s a dung fire burning. The area is barren enough that there isn’t plentiful wood to burn so they have to use sheep dung for heat and fuel instead. The rocks they have to step over to get to the little mini castle are full of sheep pellets. It must smell wonderful there.
There’s a shield in the tower with a stone head with fiery eyes. I can’t be the only one who thought of Olmec from Legends of the Hidden Temple, right?
We learn that Littlefinger’s great grandfather was a Braavosi and so the family sigil became the Titan of Braavos. LF took the mockingbird for his own sigil I guess because he’s all devious and can mimic a decent human being when he needs to?
Once Littlefinger and Sansa are alone and he’s
getting her drunk and pliable given her a cup of wine to settle her tummy, he tells her that it’s not safe to be open about who she is once they get to the Vale as Varys has informers everywhere. He says they’ll have to tell Lysa’s people that she’s his bastard daughter. They’ll call her Alayne after his mother. She wants to pose as the trueborn daughter of a knight who died in his service, but he says that will invite questions. The story will be that her mother is a Braavosi gentlewoman who willed her to the Faith after dying from childbirth but “Alayne” wanted to come live with dad because she didn’t want to be a septa.
Littlefinger asks if she likes to play games. What is he, Jigsaw? Actually I guess there are some similarities. He tells her there are two sorts of people in King’s Landing; the players and pieces. He declares that Cersei is a piece who thinks she’s a player. Then he reveals that the Kettleblack brothers are his men and Cersei has no idea. They’re his spies and secret weapons placed in the city.
Then comes the even bigger reveal. That Olenna Tyrell was the poisoner of Joffrey. She took an “amethyst” out of the hairnet when she straightened it at the wedding. Not too big of a surprise since LF was with the Tyrells for a suspicious length of time back in the previous book. With these books, I’ve learned that if a character is off page for a while, they must be up to something. He didn’t suggest this plot directly though, he spread rumors in the Tyrell camps of Caligula like behavior. He predicts that soon Margaery will be marrying Tommen.
Why does he tell her all this? He’s grooming her to be a player or he’s grooming her to be molested by his pervy ass. Maybe both.
Eight boring days go by. Sansa does nothing but hang out with old blind dog. Finally, Lysa arrives. Sansa is all shady about how she’s less of a MILF than Catelyn was. It is very obvious that Lysa is deeply in love with Littlefinger. She brought a septon so they could marry right away. When he suggests they wait to have a more lavish wedding in the Eyrie, she goes all Fatal Attraction and throws a tantrum. She TMIs about how she’s going to scream so loud when they consummate the marriage that they’ll hear her in the Eyrie. So it’s settled. They marry within the hour. They do the traditional creepy as hell Westeros bedding and then Lysa follows up with her promise to be a total screamer. She even screams for him to make her a new baby
Lysa’s singer Marillion, who you may remember as part of Catelyn and Tyrion’s entourage headed to the Vale starts creeping on Sansa. He’s says he’s been composing songs for her various body parts including a duet for her breasts. Wtf? Does he intend one part to represent the left breast and the other part to represent her right breast? She turns him down but he continues to do what a PUA would call a “kino escalation” on her. By that I mean he gropes her and asks if she’s wet for him. Ew, ew, ew! I guess it wouldn’t be a Sansa chapter if there weren’t multiple men who are the types of guys that think Lolita is an instruction manual. Fortunately, she is saved by Lothar Brune.
The next day, Littlefinger tells Sansa that he told Lysa who she is and Lysa wants to speak with her. Lysa informs her that she looks too much like Catelyn so she’ll have to die her hair brunette. She also tells her that she hadn’t wanted to marry Jon Arryn anymore than Sansa wanted to marry Tyrion. Lord Arryn was elderly and his breath always smelled like bad cheese. She seems sweet at first but then she goes all Jekyll and grabs Sansa demands to know if she is pregnant. Sansa assures Lysa that she’s a maiden and Lysa tells her she’ll be married to her cousin, the little breastfed Robert “Sweetrobin” Arryn. Joy. But not until after Tyrion is executed. Until then, Sansa will be expected to be meek and grateful. So, out of the frying pan and into the fire pretty much.
It’s been three days and the Wildling army is besieging the Wall. The Night’s Watch men are all ragged and exhausted as they are vastly outnumbered. The Wildlings send up arrows every morning and it’s mostly been futile but one did catch Red Alyn on the leg and knock him down to his death. There’s a Myrish eye on the wall which is apparently some sort of weak telescope. Jon uses it to look at their foes. Mance doesn’t leave his tent but Jon does see his very pregnant girlfriend Dalla and her sister Val. The Wildlings are building a turtle. A wooden structure covered in the hide of a mammoth so that the fighters can have shelter from the Watch’s fire arrows. The turtle is almost done so they expect another fight today. They are almost out of oil and arrows and the NW lost a bunch of men fighting the Weeper and his army down by the Shadow Tower.
Not long after the turtle is finished and starts for the Wall. None of the fire arrows or catapulted rocks do any real damage. If it makes it to the Wall, the Wildlings will be sheltered while they use picks and axes to remove the rubble that’s blocking the gates. If that happens, they are all finished.
The Watch has been planning for this. They filled barrels with gravel and then covered them in water and left them out to freeze overnight so the barrels won’t burst on the way down. These battle scenes are exciting to read but boring to writing about! Anyway, the plan is a success. The manmade boulders destroy the turtle.
That night, Jon is roused from sleep and brought to the Lord Commander’s solar. Maester Aemon is there as well as Alliser Thorne who has just returned from Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. Thorne calls him a turncloak and starts accusing him of desertion. Aemon said that he and Donal had been satisfied by Jon’s explanations but some other jowly dude is making big noises about not buying it. Mr Jowls turns out to be one Janos Slynt. Remember how Tyrion sent him to cool his heels up at the Wall? Well, he’s there and has formed a fellowship of douches with Alliser Thorne. They have Rattleshirt as a hostage and he testifies that Jon killed Qorin Halfhand and had sex with Ygritte.
Jonos Slynt continues acting like someone who’s fragile masculinity has been demolished by a dwarf. He brags about how he can’t be fooled by Jon’s lies. Yeah, okay Slynt. You’re the coolest. Alliser is egged on by this and even accuses Benjen Stark of being in some sort of nefarious conspiracy with Jon. Slynt starts trash talking Eddard Stark as a traiter and orders Alliser to take him to the ice cells. Jon just about kicks Alliser’s ass which he uses as further proof that he’s really a wildling. Then the chapter abruptly ends.
Tyrion is starting to get nervous. He has one more witness against him and then it’s his turn to testify. He still doesn’t know how he’s going to save himself. He’s not convinced that he should let Oberyn be his champion and challenge Gregor.
As Pod comes to announce it’s time, Tyrion thinks that he is doomed.
The surprise witness turns out to be Shae. Shae claims that Tyrion admitted to her that he and Sansa planned the regicide together. He also wanted to kill Cersei and Tywin according to her. She openly admits to having been Tyrion’s whore although she pretends to have been a nice maiden that was trafficked into prostitution by Tyrion. She said he forced her to call her giant and the whole room laughs at that.
Tyrion flies into a rage and says he’ll give a confession. He says he confesses to the crime of being a dwarf and that’s what he’s really on trial for her. He says he didn’t poison Joffrey but wishes he had. He demands his trial by battle. Cersei looks all pleased and smug about that. Until Oberyn says he’ll be Tyrion’s champion. The throne room is in an uproar. Pandemonium!
Later in his cell, Tyrion feels a bit better. He even sleeps well that night. Oberyn visits him in his cell the next morning just before the battle. They have a drink together. Oberyn says he always drinks before a battle. It’s kind of like me and how I bowl better with a couple of beers in me. The stakes are a wee bit higher here though. Oberyn is very confident that his speed and cunning will defeat the Mountain’s size. His spear seems to be tipped with poison. There’s something glistening and black on it.
Oberyn tells him a long story involving failed courtships and farts. The long and short of it is, Tywin has been mad for a long time that the Martells turned down Tywin’s offer to marry Jaime to Elia so that Elia could marry Rhaegar Targaryen who Tywin had wanted for Cersei. This goes a long way towards explaining why Tywin joined Robert’s rebellion and sent his men to kill Elia and her children. This fight has been a long time coming.
Predictably a lot of people turn out to watch celebrity deathmatch. Gregor is looking imposing as usual and Ellaria is scared but Oberyn is still pretty cocky. As is Gregor. Oberyn darts around Gregor trying to poke him with spear (no, not that way. Mind out of the gutter!) while talking about Elia and how Gregor raped and murdered her and killed her children. He’s demanding a confession.
This goes on for some time. Until finally Gregor loses his temper. He somehow accidently slices up a stableboy trying to get at Oberyn. Gregor says all the talk is making his head hurt. Finally Oberyn lands a blow beneath Gregor’s armor. Gregor falls and Oberyn slams the spear into him.
Oberyn can’t walk away. He’s still demanding Gregor says Elia’s name. Like a horror movie villain, Gregor is not done yet. His hand rises up, he grabs Oberyn and finally confesses. Then he pokes Oberyn’s eyes out and smashes his skull with his fist. Ellaria screams. Tyrion pukes. Twyin announces that Tyrion is guilty and condemned to death.
Deaths in this recap: 2. Red Alyn. Oberyn Martell.
Cumulative deaths: 143
Maybe deaths in this recap: 0
Cumulative maybe deaths: 12
Betrayals in this recap: 1. We get the reveal that the Tyrells, who are supposed to be the Lannister’s ally were involved in Joffrey’s death.
Cumulative betrayals: 36
Incest incidents: 0. I thought about including the betrothal of Sansa to her cousin, but they didn’t actually do anything and I don’t think that counts as incest in Westeros anyways.
Cumulative incests: 27