Tag Archives: perfume

AGoT Eddard 4

  • The theme here is clearly decadence: we hear all about the opulent furnishings of the council room, Renly’s clothing budget, and once again, Varys’ perfume.
  • Famous last words: Ned: “I do not plan on melting soon, Lord Baelish.”
  • Pycelle is introduced: he’s bald, with a wispy white fringe, and wears a compound of about two dozen normal Maester’s chains. (Decadence again.)
  • Aerys was apparently a good financial manager, or anyway not a spendthrift. Who knew?
  • The fat lady sings in this chapter. (It’s all over for Ned when he accepts Petyr Baelish’s “help.”)
  • Petyr uses some nice reverse psychology on Ned re: the dagger and whether to further investigate it.

AGoT Catelyn 4: introducing Petyr Baelish and Varys

Petyr Baelish is introduced in an interesting step-wise fashion: first there was a passing mention by Cersei. Now he is further illuminated via Catelyn telling a story about his past, before finally showing up in the flesh.

He is described as a small, slender, sharp-featured man, not quite thirty years old, with “laughing” green eyes, dark hair with a little gray, a goatee, and a silver mockingbird brooch. And he demonstrates trick knife-throwing skills; does he ever do this again?

Varys, meanwhile, is yet another overweight, perfumed character. He also uses face powder, is completely bald, wears what Westerosi culture would consider effeminate clothing (a sparkly vest over a silk gown and velvet slippers), “giggle[s] like a little girl” and “squeal[s]” at the sight of a drop of blood. As with Illyrio, we experienced readers now know Varys is using these culturally despised (in Westeros) traits as sort of a disguise; it’s interesting to remember that a first-time reader wouldn’t know that yet.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in this chapter:

  • Like the earlier and related introduction of the murder mystery subplot, the whole song and dance about Ser Rodrik going to fetch the king’s armorer seems rather drawn out and contrived now that I know it isn’t going anywhere.
  • WiC #4.
  • Catelyn is noble to pay the oarsmen herself, but naive to think they’ll be allowed to hold on to the money if their employer doesn’t wish it. There’s probably a “company store” situation going on: after all, where else will the rowers get their food at sea?
  • Catelyn also reveals her unconscious commitment to the hereditary nobility system by dwelling on the fact that Varys isn’t a real lord (Petyr Baelish is, even if a minor one, and therefore worthy of at least slightly more respect in her eyes).
  • First mention of Loras Tyrell.

AGoT Eddard 1: what Robert Baratheon looks like

Robert is six and a half feet tall and overweight; he has gained at least eight stone (64 to 128 pounds, depending on the definition of a stone; 112 pounds by the most common definition) since he was in peak fighting condition. “A beard as coarse and black as iron wire covered his jaw to hide his double chin and the sag of the royal jowls, but nothing could hide his stomach or the dark circles under his eyes.” He was once muscular, wore an antlered helmet, carried a warhammer, and smelled of leather and blood. Now he gets out of breath from walking down stairs and wears perfume.

(I’ll have to start tracking perfume as a character signifier, as well as obesity.)

AGoT Daenerys 1: what Illyrio Mopatis looks like

He moved with surprising delicacy for such a massive man. Beneath loose garments of flame-colored silk, rolls of fat jiggled as he walked. Gemstones glittered on every finger, and his man had oiled his forked yellow beard until it shone like real gold.


Dany could smell the stench of Illyrio’s pallid flesh through his heavy perfumes.

Illyrio is the first of what I believe will be many “grotesquely fat” characters we will meet. I remember this trope as being a bit overdone (could one storyline really contain so many characters that are not just fat, but so much beyond “normal” fatness that it merits such extreme description)? We’ll see how many characters are actually described as such.