This chapter introduces Brynden’s refusal to marry. If said refusal is the only grounds for believing Brynden to be gay (as it seems to be), I’m not buying it. Marriage in Brynden’s social milieu need have nothing to do with sexual desire: noblemen can and do marry for political advantage and to produce heirs, while having sex on the side with people (including, in Renly’s case at least, male people) they’re more attracted to. Lack of attraction to women would be no reason to refuse marriage; indeed, marriage to a sexually undemanding woman would provide much more effective cover than conspicuous refusal to marry. Faithfulness to an unattainable woman, like Hoster’s wife, seems more plausible, but couldn’t it be that the guy just doesn’t want to be tied down?
But, “Walder Frey … any of three, he said…” Hilarious.
Also in this chapter:
- The titular phrase again, from Stevron Frey.
- Catelyn: “We went to war when Lannister armies were ravaging the Riverlands…” Yes, because of YOUR actions! And now you want peace! Sheesh.
“Sometimes [Catelyn] felt as though her heart had turned to stone.” Yuk, yuk.
Seriously though, in paying more attention to Catelyn on this reread, I find that her monomaniacal focus on her goal (which is protecting her children … or protecting her own self-concept as the perfect noble mother?) is much more destructive than I had realized on past readings. She undermines her oldest son, ignores her youngest, and even her exaggerated grief over the comatose Bran seems more about her than him (after all, he’s not conscious to observe or benefit from her behavior). Her attitude toward Jon is deplorable, but understandable — but this chapter’s transfer of those feelings to Mya Stone, a stranger who has nothing to do with her marriage, is plain pathological. She kidnaps a member of a major house on the “evidence” of a story that is easily hole-poked by anyone aware of court social dynamics, from a source who she seems to be at least marginally aware is untrustworthy; persists in taking her prisoner to a place she has never visited (a fact I realized only on rereading this chapter), even after discovering that most of her party is likely to die on the journey (I’m sure all her father’s bannerman whose men she commandeered will love that); and when indeed they are killed, she pushes away what feelings of guilt or self-doubt she has. Sansa doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Elsewhere in this chapter:
- We meet Brynden: weathered, gray-haired, and good-humored with a “hoarse, smoky voice.”
- Tyrion remarks that Tywin is “the soul of avarice” (as Jaime is of arrogance and Cersei of power-lust), but I’ve never really seen monetary greed as Tywin’s primary motivation.
- WiC #6.
- Catelyn thinks she is “becoming a Stark at last” — when actually she’s straying further from the Starks’ ancestral home and concerns, into games orchestrated by others.
- I’m having dirty-minded fun imagining what “the topless towers of Valyria” look like.
- Finally, we meet Lysa, like Robert an obese character who once wasn’t, and whose current obesity is serving as a symbol of current moral or psychological failings. She has long auburn hair, blue eyes and a small mouth. Her son Robert Arryn (henceforth to be referred to as Sweetrobin) is six, small for his age and sickly, with fine brown hair.