Our first Tyrion POV, yay! Not a very long chapter, but it serves to move the plot along a bit. Tyrion has pulled an all-nighter reading in Winterfell’s library, and now that dawn has come he heads out in search of breakfast. He comes upon his nephew Joffrey and the Hound in the courtyard. The ever-sensitive Joffrey doesn’t see why he should go tell Lord and Lady Stark that he’s sorry their son fell out a window and broke his back, so Tyrion provides some instruction, punctuated by a brisk slap across the face. And another. Readers rejoice!
Tyrion then joins his siblings Cersei and Jaime, along with the royal children, for breakfast. Here as well Bran is the hot topic of conversation. Little Tommen and Myrcella appear to (thankfully) not be cut from the same cloth as their brother Joffrey, and express the more conventional thought that they hope Bran doesn’t die. Pretty much all the adults Tyrion has encountered so far this morning seem to think it would be more merciful to kill the comatose boy and be done with it, however. When Tyrion reveals that the maester thinks Bran will live, he notices a glance pass between Cersei and Jaime. Hm…
The royal party will soon be heading back to King’s Landing with Starks in tow, but Tyrion plans to make a slight detour north to the Wall with Benjen and Jon Snow first. A disgusted Cersei leaves the breakfast nook with her children, and Jaime and Tyrion are left alone. Jaime again states that he thinks Bran is better not left in limbo, and would himself prefer a good, clean death. Tyrion fires back that were it him, he would want the option of living, and is interested to hear what Bran has to say when he wakes up. Jaime might be handsome, but he hasn’t got much of a poker face—with his smile positively “curdled,” Jaime wonders whether Tyrion is really on his family’s side. Tyrion grins because he knows he has hit a nerve.
Again, in re-reading this book I am astonished at how closely the show stuck to what was written, especially when it comes to dialogue. So many classic Tyrion-isms here, from slapping Joffrey (always a joy to read about—this classic gif is also therapeutic), to lines like, “The whores would go begging from Dorne to Casterly Rock!” and “You wound me. You know how much I love my family.”
There’s also more about the wolf-Stark connection here, with Bran’s direwolf seeming to help keep him alive through sheer force of will (or howl).
Jon is about to ride off into the sunset (or rather, snowstorm) with Uncle Benjen and make for the Wall. Well aware of how much Lady Stark dislikes him, he has stayed away from Bran-Muffin’s sickroom, but the time has come for him to say good-bye. We see a rather vitriolic side of Catelyn that’s been hidden until now—she’s been in Bran’s room 24/7 for a fortnight (would that be 24/7/2?) to watch over him and give him the Westeros equivalent of a food drip, and is not at all pleased to see her husband’s bastard son make an appearance. After giving Jon some grief, she finally lets him stay and say what he needs to to the comatose boy. As Jon turns to leave, she finishes off an already unpleasant encounter with a real zinger—“It should have been you!” Poor Jon.
He runs into Robb in the yard, where he is directing traffic for the impending exodus to the capital. Jon notes that after Bran’s fall and Lady Catelyn’s withdrawal from the world, Robb has really taken up the reins of running the show and growing into the position of Lord of Wintefell. He and Jon exchange awkward, but much warmer, good-byes, and Jon heads off to say one last farewell.
He finds Arya in her room, repacking her trunk to please that fastidious septa we met earlier in the book. Arya’s direwolf, Nymeria, is helping. Jon presents Arya with a gift he had made especially for her, a slender sword. Arya loves it, and promises to practice on the down low (since Sansa would surely tattle and ruin the fun!). It is cleverly called Needle, after Arya’s favorite pastime, and the fact that it is more suited to poke a man full of holes than slice his head off. The two say their goodbyes, and Jon catches up with Uncle Benjen so they can get underway.
Ahhhh, so THIS is why so many people hate Catelyn! I mean, I’m sure she’s channeling some of her frustration and despair regarding the Bran situation into her treatment of Jon Snow, but yowza! She said some mean stuff. We also see a bit of the token Catelyn self-blame—she prayed to the gods for Bran to be able to stay with her instead of going south, and, well, I guess he will indeed be staying… I like how Jon was classy when Robb expressed concern about his mother’s treatment of Jon—he lied and said she was kind to ease Robb’s mind and to kind of smooth things over. Very diplomatic, Mr. Snow! And of course we have the unveiling of Needle. I really love the relationship between Jon and Arya. Outsiders gotta stick together! I’m glad that of all the Stark children, there is at least one that treats Jon like a true brother. The whole simultaneous “Don’t—tell—Sansa!” line was a little sitcommy, but overall a very sweet scene. Glad Jon was able to leave Winterfell on a high note.
Dany is being wed to Khal Drogo in the fields outside of Pentos, attended by her brother, Illyrio, Ser Jorah Mormont, and 40,000 of Drogo’s Dothraki warriors. It is an exotic event, with dancing, food, public sex, and fights to the death (amusingly, a Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair). Viserys is fostering his anger and resentment because he wants Drogo to hurry up and pay for Dany with an army to take back Westeros (though Illyrio and Jorah both advise him that it’ll happen when it happens), and because he’s mad that Dany is the one getting all the attention on her wedding day. The nerve!
Dany, however, is terrified. The Khal is huge, and they have no common language, and he has basically ignored her throughout the whole wedding. She is frightened of what will happen on her wedding night. (After witnessing the Dothraki dancing-nonconsensual-sex-battle-to-the-death escapade, I would be, too.) The wedding goes on all day, and when the sun begins to set it’s time for wedding gifts. Her brother (bankrolled by Illyrio) gives her three handmaids, Irri, Jhiqui, and Doreah, to instruct her in various things. Jorah gives her books on the history and songs of Westeros. Never afraid to participate in ostentatious shows of wealth, Illyrio presents her with three dragon eggs from the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai: one green, one cream, and one black. They are so old they’ve turned to stone, but make some nice objets d’art representative of her Targaryen heritage.
Not to be outdone, Drogo himself gives Dany a beautiful silver mare that rides like the wind. While test-driving the horse, Dany feels without fear for the first time in her life. She loves “her silver,” and Drogo smiles at her for the first time. Awww! Then the sun sets and the fear returns and she and Drogo ride off to consummate their marriage. Drogo finds a nice romantic spot in the grass, and Dany is so terrified that she starts to cry. It turns out that they have a common language after all—the word “no.” It’s the only word of the common tongue that Drogo seems to know, and they manage to communicate surprisingly well using only that. And just when you think this scary barbarian man is going to end up raping Dany, it ends up being a sweet, caring scene. Drogo exhibits a lot more care than you would expect from a savage warlord, and Dany, against all odds, manages to have a good, even empowering, wedding night.
Good writing in this chapter shows the foreign Dothraki culture without indulging in superficial exoticisms, and manages to give a sense of a full, complete culture as a whole without going into info-dump territory.
Viserys seems to be developing even more of a complex than he already had, what with all this attention being showered on Dany and all the great gifts she is given. I bet he was real pissed when Illyrio produced those dragon eggs to give her…
I also like how Dany feels free and secure, even if it’s only for a moment, when she’s riding her new horse. That, combined with the first inklings of her acceptance by the Dothraki (their hooting and approval when she rides her horse around and leaps over the fire pit) as a group and by Drogo himself (“silver for the silver of your hair” when he gives her the horse, and his smile when she says he has given her the wind) hint at her ability to connect with people, to assimilate, and perhaps to one day lead.
So glad she didn’t get raped on her wedding night. It ended up being a surprisingly sweet scene. UNTIL YOU REMEMBER SHE IS THIRTEEN. The only way I can stomach this scene is by aging her up in my head to how old she is in the show. I mean, I’m glad Drogo is so gentle and things go well for her here, but…yeesh. Thirteen. Creepily young or not, there’s no question that this ends up being a rather empowering thing for her, so that’s a plus.