Tag Archives: RobertBaratheon

AGoT summation: obesity

I chose to track obese characters on this reread because I remembered the series as being curiously full of contenders for “fattest dude POV Character X has ever seen,” and wondered if there were any discernible patterns in the ways Martin uses this characteristic.

Obesity played for simple comic relief. Here we have Mord the Eyrie jailor and the pseudo-Baratheon kids’ nameless septa. As of the end of AGoT, the Manderlys are in this category; it’ll be a few books before we find out that at least the paterfamilias is actually/also an exemplar of…

Obesity as disguise. Varys manages to at least partially hide his scheming under his obese and effeminate appearance (not to mention his perfume). Illyrio belongs here, too. These characters might not have become obese on purpose, but they certainly use the characteristic to their advantage in distracting others from their more important non-physical qualities. Then there’s…

Obesity as the outward sign of corruption or fallen-ness. Here are Robert, Lysa, and the High Septon.

Obese characters who defy categorization.Sam Tarly is the prime exemplar here: he’s not corrupt or fallen, he’s not comic relief (sure, Jon pokes a little silent fun at him, but his hazing is mostly played as the horror it is), and he’s not cleverly hiding behind his bulk (though he might learn). He’s simply Sam, a person with many characteristics, one of which — but not the only defining one — happens to be great physical size. (Judging by Sam’s dialog in this book, his self-declared cowardice is much more central to his own self-concept than his obesity.)

I think Fat Tom belongs in this last category too: to Arya he’s comic relief, but Ned clearly views him as a full-fledged person and valuable employee.

Overall, Martin has a good record of portraying obese characters: most obese characters (like most non-obese characters) are occasionally the butt of humor, but only “extras” are played strictly for comic relief (and one senses a little sympathy even for Mord). Obese characters can be smart, brave, and likeable (or smart, scheming, and dislikable). And they’re not always fat because they’re lazy or decadent, although occasionally (Robert, the High Septon) this may be the case. I’m most fascinated by the characters who use their obesity to help make themselves seem innocuous, and wonder if Sam, jaded by his exposure to those scheming southron maesters, will eventually end up in this category.


AGoT Eddard 8

It’s hard to tell what Varys and Baelish are angling for in this chapter. Do they want Robert to attempt to assassinate Dany, or don’t they? The previous chapter suggests that Varys, at least, intends for the Dothraki to invade and so should not want Dany dead. Does he believe (correctly) that a failed assassination attempt will hasten the invasion? Or is he using reverse psychology on Robert, thinking Robert would do the opposite of what he was advised (in which case Ned and Selmy may have ruined it for him)? Was he in cahoots with Baelish to prevent the hiring of an all-too-effective Faceless Man, or was that Baelish’s own initiative?

Elsewhere in this chapter:

  • More of Robert’s lovely attitude toward women: Dany is a “whore” for having a child with her husband. (Oh, and we see where Joffrey got his fondness for heads on spikes.)
  • Robert: “I am not so blind that I cannot see the shadow of the axe when it is hanging over my own neck.” Once again, he sees the axe as held by Dany when really, it’s Cersei. (But Ned’s “There is no axe” is even more clueless.)
  • We learn that Selmy has “pale blue eyes,” and much about his character and affinity for Ned.

AGoT Eddard 7: Ned is clueless (more spoilery than usual)

“If [Ned] could prove that the Lannisters were behind the attack on Bran, prove that they had murdered Jon Arryn…” Honorable Ned, trying to prove an untruth! Then, later: “The dagger, Bran’s fall, all of it was linked somehow to the murder of Jon Arryn, he could feel it in his gut.” It’s fabulous to read a genre novel where a “good” character can have a *wrong* gut feeling, where his problem is less the existence of the array of baddies out to get him than his inability to correctly grasp the nature of their badness and thereby maneuver around it.

I’m wondering what this chapter’s non-effeminate Varys knows, though. He asserts that Arryn was killed for “asking questions,” which is only indirectly true if at all. Baelish, not the by-amateur-genetic-studies-threatened Lannisters, instigated Arryn’s death. Like Varys, Baelish may want to delay the coming succession crisis, and silencing Arryn would work in service of that — but clearing the path for further psychosexual manipulation of Arryn’s wife seems a stronger motivation. Does Varys know Baelish was responsible for Arryn’s death (in which case he’s deliberately allowing/leading Ned to think it was the Lannisters) or would he be as surprised by that knowledge as I was when I first encountered it?

Elsewhere in this chapter:

  • Robert comes around with a bullshit after-the-fact apology for killing a little girl’s dog. Sure, Robert, you’re real sorry.
  • He also wonders, “How could I have made a son like [Joffrey]” while calling Loras “a son any man would be proud to own to.” Surprisingly un-homophobic, or just oblivious?
  • Renly knows that Tyrion never bets against his brother … but Ned and Catelyn? Nope. (Also, this is Jaime’s second unhorsing in recent memory — was he already slipping as a jouster at this point?)
  • Another horse (and human) realism fail: book Loras, like TV Loras, is “slender as a reed,” as is his horse … never mind that a man and/or horse of that build could never carry a suit of armor.
  • First mention of Mya Stone (though not by name).

AGoT Sansa 2: Sansa is creepy!

But in an interesting way! I’ve always liked Sansa’s chapters — whether or not I like her as a “person” (remember, she is a fictional character, people!) being beside the point — because I enjoy reading about the events we see through her eyes (court intrigue, anything involving Petyr Baelish). But in this chapter, it’s Sansa’s actual stream of consciousness that is so creepily entertaining: her detached response to the death of Ser Hugh, her (and Septa Mordane’s!) scorn toward Jeyne’s much more appropriate reaction, her rationalization of Joffrey’s past and present behavior (and compartmentalization of Lady’s death as “the awful thing”).

Elsewhere in this chapter:

  • Loras’ first in-person appearance: he’s the cutest guy Sansa’s ever seen (wasn’t Renly that, also?) with “lazy” (?) brown curls and “liquid gold” eyes. The description of his tourney self-marketing activities is great.
  • Eddard isn’t around to see what a drunken, sexist (even if Cersei deserves it) lout his “friend” Robert actually is.
  • First detailed description of Sandor: gaunt, with heavy brows, a large hooked nose, thin dark hair combed over, and the now precisely described scars. And he gets the only real emotional response out of Sociopathic Sansa.

AGoT Eddard 3: Cersei and the men who do despicable things for her

“The things I do for love,” he said with loathing. [Jaime in Bran 2, just before putting an innocent child to (presumed) death on Cersei’s demand]

“Damn you, Cersei,” he said with loathing. [Robert in Eddard 3, having just agreed to put an innocent animal to death on Cersei’s demand]

Robert seems to be under no illusion of “loving” Cersei, so why did he do it? He’s intimidated by her family’s power, no doubt — but mostly he just can’t be bothered to do the right, but marginally more difficult, thing. Instead he “shrug[s] irritably” and lets her have her way. It speaks to how well Robert’s character is drawn that I found this completely believable — I’ve met the type (though thankfully not any who were in that kind of position of power). And once again, Robert is not Ned’s friend, and is possibly to self-absorbed and emotionally lazy to be anyone’s (whether inherently so, or because Cersei has worn him out).

Other notable stuff from this chapter:

  • The name-check of House Darry, one of whose members was Dany’s guardian, serves to nicely tie disparate threads of the story together.
  • Renly’s reaction to Joffrey’s defeat in, er, battle is hilarious. “Lion’s Tooth!”
  • Arya’s immediate, unconditional defense of Lady (and by extension Sansa, who just betrayed her) is both believable and endearing.

AGoT Eddard 2: miscellanea

  • I’m surprised at the extent to which both of Ned’s first two chapters are “about” Robert. I had forgotten that Ned’s is the only POV through which we directly observe Robert to any significant extent.
  • I am not convinced, however, that Robert is, or possibly ever was, Ned’s “friend” in any real sense. No one who actually knows Ned would propose to him a life of knight errantry and tavern wenches. And it takes a lot of doublethink on Ned’s part to remain “friends” with someone who condones the murder of an infant.
  • Still, “you were never the boy you were” is a pretty great line.
  • This chapter has the first mention of Varys that I’ve noticed (as the source of Robert’s intel about Dany’s marriage).
  • We learn in this chapter that Jorah sold slaves, though no reason is given beyond simple monetary greed.
  • Robert is mean to his horse. Boo.
  • Robert: “give them half a chance, [the Targaryens] will murder me in my bed, and my sons with me.” Umm, no, that’s not the Targaryens, it’s your wife.
  • More Robert wisdom: “Lord Tywin looms eternal as Casterly Rock.” Ha. (There’s a definite lack of clarity about Jaime’s status here, though: Robert does seem to think he will eventually “succeed” his father, despite being a Kingsguard.)

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.)