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Chapter-by-chapter analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire. Essays about my favorites, Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, and others as the mood strikes me!

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Game of Thrones - Tyrion I (Chapter 9)

Dany and Tyrion are the only two non-Stark POVs in the first book, which is quite interesting. Tyrion's first POV comes right after we see Jaime throw Bran out the window, though it's some time later (I'm not actually sure how much later, whether we're talking days or weeks here.) Mostly this chapter is all about how Tyrion is the "good" Lannister, quite different from his siblings. We already got a tiny glimpse of this in his conversation with Jon, but now we get to see what makes him tick. Warning: This will be VERY LONG because I really like the Lannister family dynamics and because Tyrion and Jaime (Handless and Noseless!) are endlessly fascinating to me! So … diving in:

Tyrion has stayed up all night, reading in the Winterfell library, which basically guarantees that I (and every other reader who's started a book series that's now over 5000 pages long!) will have a good initial impression of him. He's reading a book about the changing of the seasons, which is a rather interesting choice, but maybe he got interested in the Starks' house words "winter is coming." Even in the library, he can hear Bran's as-yet-unnamed direwolf howling.

Something about the howling of a wolf took a man right out of his here and now, and left him in a dark forest of the mind, running naked before the pack.

Tyrion tells the Septon in charge of the library to take care of the rare volumes (I'm sure he'd be quite devastated to learn about the fire that will soon engulf these rare books.) I think it's interesting that the librarian is a septon (surely brought by Catelyn? She mentions that Ned built the sept for her) and not Maester Luwin. 

As Tyrion descends the library tower, he overhears Sandor Clegane say that "the boy is a long time dying. I wish he would be quicker about it." It's the same song Jaime will sing a little bit later; I realize that Martin is starting to parallel the Hound and Jaime already (although Jaime has darker reasons than just not liking the wolf howling to wish Bran would die quickly.)

Joffrey complains that the wolf howling is keeping him awake at night, which I'm sure it probably is and Sandor offers to kill it. Joffrey likes this idea "Send a dog to kill dog!" 

At this point, Tyrion enters the scene, and he and Sandor have a bit of what feels like familiar hostile byplay with Sandor pretending not to see Tyrion to amuse Joffrey and Tyrion being annoyed by it. Tyrion gives Joffrey some good advice about his role as a future King (that he should go offer his comfort to the Starks) but when Joffrey demurs, Tyrion slaps him in the face, tells him not to say another word, and then slaps him again when Joffrey says he'll tell his mother, thus ensuring that Joffrey will never do what Tyrion suggests. (NB: the first time I read the series, I was totally Team Tyrion in the first book, and so it never struck me that Tyrion sabotages himself consistently with his nephew. He doesn't like Joff and Joff doesn't like him, and to a certain degree, that can't ever change because Cersei is Joffrey's mother and she loathes Tyrion. BUT within those parameters, Tyrion surely has his own share of Lannister pride and does not ever go out of his way to make any of his advice more palatable. Joffrey is a messed-up kid, no doubt, but there are also literally no adults in his life who are good models or good parents AT ALL. Cersei, Tyrion and Jaime all got the Tywin Lannister Is My Dad treatment, with Cersei getting the misogyny and Tyrion getting the contempt for being disabled. Good times!)

Tyrion explains - yet again - what Joffrey needs to do regarding the Starks (tell them how sorry he is, how much he wants to be of service to them, etc.) I think Tyrion is just trying to be the good family man, to leave a good impression on the Starks, especially since Joff is Sansa's betrothed, so some day Bran will be his brother-in-law, etc. But given the later scene with Jaime and Cersei, I also wonder if Tyrion thinks Joffrey's visit to the Starks will help allay their suspicions. (Ironically, it turns out that Joffrey's paying some dude to murder Bran in his sleep is what causes the suspicion that Bran didn't just fall off the tower, which leads directly to Tyrion's ordeal in the Vale. So there's that!)

After Joff leaves, Sandor tells Tyrion that the prince will remember all of this. And Tyrion thinks that Sandor's terrifying dog-shaped helm looks better than Sandor's "hideously burned face." The first sign that Tyrion isn't always sympathetic to "cripples, bastards, and broken things." (Then again, and to be fair, Sandor isn't exactly Mr. Simpatico to Tyrion either!)

Tyrion asks where Jaime is, and Sandor tells him that he's breakfasting with the Queen. Tyrion leaves, thinking "he pitied the first knight to try the Hound today. The man did have a temper." (But ... we've not really seen any evidence of the Hound's temper - all the emotional posturing - and slapping - was actually coming from Tyrion in the preceding scene and the Hound seemed pretty calm. So this is kind of out of nowhere.)

Jaime, Cersei, Tommen and Myrcella are having a "cold, cheerless meal" talking in "low, hushed voices."

Tyrion asks where Robert is, and Cersei answers that Robert is with Lord Eddard having "taken their sorrow deeply to heart." 

"He has a large heart, our Robert," Jaime said with a lazy smile. There was very little that Jaime took seriously. Tyrion knew that about his brother, and forgave it. During all the terrible long years of his childhood, only Jaime had ever shown him the smallest measure of affection or respect, and for that Tyrion was willing to forgive him almost anything.

Well, let's unpack THIS paragaph. First of all, since we're primed to find Tyrion sympathetic  - or at least the most sympathetic of the Lannisters - both from his earlier interaction with Jon, and his advice to Joffrey earlier in this chapter (and let's not forget his bibliophile tendencies), the revelation that Jaime is the only person who's ever been nice to Tyrion in his entire life is a crucial one. It doesn't change what Jaime did to Bran, of course, but at least we're given a glimpse that there might be something more to him. Secondly, of course, Tyrion says he's prepared to forgive Jaime almost anything (including tossing their host's son out of a window because by the end of this conversation, Tyrion definitely suspects Jaime and Cersei had something to do with Bran's fall) because of the way that Jaime has always treated Tyrion. Which is obviously a very human reaction, from someone who's been starved for love and affection his whole life, but also makes it very clear that Tyrion shares the Lannister mindset of "us versus the rest of the world" though in Tyrion's case it's more "me versus the rest of the world." And lastly, later books will make clear that Tyrion absolutely has no idea what Jaime does or doesn't take seriously because Jaime has never shared very much of his experience of guarding Aerys or why he killed Aerys with Tyrion. Which means that Tyrion has no idea that Jaime really did - at some point - believe in honor and idealism and all the rest. 

Moving along, because at some point, this will be longer than the chapter itself ... Tyrion reveals his own insecurities by noticing how similar Cersei and Jaime look (and that they've dressed alike as well), and wonders how he'd feel about a twin. 

Bad enough to face himself in a looking glass every day. Another him was a thought too dreadful to contemplate.

And those two sentences just make me ache for Tyrion - imagine being the youngest, unwanted, "deformed" (in his world) sibling of two of the most beautiful people in your country, and on top of that having been told fairly constantly that the reason you don't have a mother is because she died giving birth to you and on top of that having Tywin Lannister, who managed to mess up even the one golden child he values the highest, let alone his daughter and the last-born, unattractive and disabled child, and that's even before the whole Tysha thing happened. No wonder Tyrion has self-esteem issues that it would take a century of therapy to work out. 

Tommen interrupts the (quite justifiable and neatly summarized) pity party by asking about Bran whose sickroom Tyrion visited the night before. Tommen is a sweet kid who doesn't want Brandon to die. Jaime muses that Ned had a brother called Brandon too, murdered by Aerys (who for some reason, possibly because this book was written in 1996, is just called Targaryen a lot in this first book. Just something I noticed this time around!) Of course, since Jaime apparently has never told either Tyrion or Cersei how Brandon died his comment is only interesting in hindsight (either that, or Martin didn't know he was going to have Jaime be a witness to the death of Brandon until he wrote A Clash of Kings.) Anyway, eenteresting ...

Tyrion throws a little truth bomb at everyone saying that according to the maester, Tommen may live. Myrcella and Tommen are both happy at the news, but Tyrion catches a glance between Jaime and Cersei that arouses his suspicions. Then Cersei solidifies them by saying that it's no mercy for Bran to live, and it's cruel to let him linger in pain. 

Myrcella asks if Bran will get better, leading Tyrion to reflect that Myrcella is as lovely as Cersei on the outside, and a lot nicer on the inside. Aww, it's nice that at least two of the incest babies are decent, good children - it makes Ned's later desire not to see them murdered for being their parents kids that much more sympathetic. 

Cersei questions Tyrion closely on the probability of Bran's waking up (dun dun dun!) and Tyrion mentions that the direwolf seems to be keeping Bran alive. Cersei shudders at the thought of the direwolves and says she won't have any of them coming south, which, at least for Lady, probably would have been best! Jaime says Cersei won't be able to stop the wolves coming south because they follow the girls everywhere. (Again, nooooooooo!! Girls, leave them at Winterfell! Pleeeeease!)

Tyrion reveals that he's not returning to King's Landing but going to visit the Wall instead. Jaime jokingly asks if he's planning on taking the black, and I just have to quote Tyrion because it's funny and self-deprecating and - now, after reading the other four books - also very sad:

"What, me, celibate? The whores would go begging from Dorne to Casterly Rock. No, I just want to stand on top of the Wall and piss off the edge of the world."

Apparently, incest and attempted murder of a minor are fine with Cersei but talk of pissing isn’t, so she huffs off with the kids and leaves Jaime and Tyrion with a little brother-bonding time.

Jaime speculates that Ned won’t want to leave Winterfell with his son crippled and uncertain of living. Tyron says Robert will command that Ned goes with him, and that there’s nothing Ned can do for Bran anyway. 

“He could end his torment,” Jaime said. “I would, if it were my son. It would be a mercy.”

Wow, it’s a good thing Jaime’s not that close with his own kids because mercy killing your kids … um … (unless this is either foreshadowing for Jaime having to end Tome’s torment at some point or else foreshadowing for the abandoned outline plot of Jaime taking the throne after killing Joffrey? I dunno!)

MORE FORESHADOWING that I feel absolutely confident really is foreshadowing:

“Even if the boy does live, he will be a cripple. Worse than a cripple. A grotesque. Give me a good clean death.”

So how’d that work out for you, Jaime? 

Tyrion, of course, disagrees with Jaime, saying that life is full of possibilities even for those who are not 100% physically whole. He adds that he hopes Bran does wake, because he (Tyrion) would be most interested in what Bran has to say. I think Tyrion’s worked out a good chunk of what actually happened to Bran (or at least that Bran’s fall is connected to Jaime and Cersei), and he’s tweaking Jaime’s nose here for that comment about wishing to die rather than being a cripple or grotesque. (Again, poor Tyrion - if that’s the kind of thing he has to hear from the family member who actually cares about him … man, those family dinners must have been something!)

Jaime wonders whose side Tyrion is on, and Tyrion is sassy right back:

“Why, Jaime, my sweet brother,” he said, “you wound me. You know how much I love my family.

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