* PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL RE-READ POSTS WILL INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR ALL PUBLISHED WORKS IN THE SONG OF ICE & FIRE UNIVERSE. *
And now come the chapters that are facepalm-inducing!
Let's get one thing straight...I don't subscribe to the idea that Catelyn started the War of the Five Kings by taking Tyrion captive, and neither should anyone else. That said, I'm very much aware that it's doubtful anything I say will change your opinion if you're really set in that belief; I just figured I'd put it out there that while I found myself sighing over Catelyn's actions in her fifth and sixth POV chapters, she really didn't do anything more or worse than anyone else. (Seriously. Several other characters come to mind here. And half of them aren't even Starks...heh.)
Thankfully there was a bit of a respite after Catelyn's chapter. The Tourney of the Hand has always been one of my favorite parts of A Game of Thrones - in fact, probably of ASOIAF on the whole, really. Yes, this is partly because so much of it takes place in a Sansa chapter, and it features a lot of Sandor as well...but it also dredges up quite a bit more intrigue, even on top of what previously existed.
But before I get into all of that, I have to talk about how Sansa handled the first day of the tournament. When Ser Hugh of the Vale died by way of Gregor's lance, she felt bad, but couldn't cry. She knew she should, and she points out that Jeyne Poole was a mess, but she can't. And she specifically thinks about not just Lady, but BRAN - how she must have cried all her tears for them. She also understands that she would have cried for someone she knew - Jory, Ser Rodrik, her father - and she still understands that Ser Hugh's death is sad. To me this shows so much of the strength that many readers don't credit her with.
Later, when Sandor "escorts" her back to the Red Keep, the moment between them is poignant on both sides. Though Sandor later tempers this by threatening Sansa, the fact that he opened up to her the way he did - and that she's likely the only person in the ASOIAF universe who would have reacted with such pure kindness - really speaks volumes for her character.
Of course the tournament wraps up in the following chapter, which is in Ned's POV. And needless to say, Ned's got a lot on his mind. If this was your first time reading ASOIAF, you'd probably already have a fairly negative view of the Lannisters - I mean, let's not forget that Jaime pushed Bran out of a window and Cersei insisted that poor innocent Lady be killed in place of Nymeria. But at the same time, reading it again I found Ned to be almost overly concerned about Lannister involvement at court, especially considering he still hadn't figured out that Joffrey, Tommen, and Myrcella weren't Robert's children. I mean, he pretty much has an internal rant about Robert having two Lannister squires, when at the time he has no reason to believe they're anything but innocent boys. Ned specifically muses that the Lannisters are an "ambitious family", and that their "...appetite for offices and honors seemed to know no bounds."
Now, Ned did witness the aftermath of Jaime stabbing Mad King Aerys in the back, of course he knew about Tywin's betrayal, and Cersei certainly isn't the nicest woman in the world. But reading this now and understanding more about where the Lannisters come from, I can't help but think that Ned's feelings are very strongly judgmental for these particular circumstances.
The same certainly can't be said for his thoughts on Gregor, though. That's actually something I'd forgotten - Gregor does so many awful things throughout the books that the passage regarding his two dead wives and the questionable circumstances surrounding the deaths of his sister and father (not to mention Sandor's "accident") went, so they say, in one ear and out the other, the previous times that I read it. Not so this time; I'm not likely to forget those two wives, especially.
I feel like I'm expending far too many words on this Ned chapter, but before I move on, I wanted to note that I found it amusing when Anguy wins the archery portion of the tournament and Ned sends Alyn to offer Anguy a position with the Hand's guard. Anguy refuses (Ned blames it on his being "flush with wine and vicotry and riches undreamed of")...but then later Anguy ends up with the Brotherhood without Banners. Along with several of Ned's men, of course (those who went searching for Gregor).
Anyway, in the meantime Tyrion is pissed off because Catelyn outsmarted him (again, he's snarky and nasty about it, but she outsmarted him - don't hate that #StarTully swagger just because you're a Tyrion stan, people). Yeah, there's some stuff going on with the mountain clans and all that, Tyrion gets an axe and all, but let's move on to the more important things...Arya chasing cats!
I can tell you right now that I didn't really put too much thought into this chapter the first time I read it. Arya's point of view was already jaded for me - she seemed less the fun little tomboy who I felt slightly bad for, and more the outcast little girl who reminded me too much of myself many many years ago. However, upon reading it again, I was reminded of all the hilarious theories about the black tom cat that she chases (some of which I wrote about in great detail...all in good fun, of course). That, and knowing that the men she overhears are Varys and Illyrio, make this chapter a much more interesting read than I first gave it credit for. Unfortunately, its ending is quite frustrating - I had to remind myself that Arya is only about eight, and it actually wouldn't make sense for her to remember - let alone understand - everything she overheard in the tunnels under the Red Keep.
Another amusing "am I reading into this too much" moment came up at the end of Arya's chapter. She is asking Ned's guards if they will protect her father, even against wizards; Desmond draws his longsword and says, "wizards die the same as other men, once you cut their heads off." A hint at Varys's fate, perhaps? (See, this is what waiting years and years for these books does to people. Not that I'm complaining. Martin does what he wawnts and the more I actually write, the more I understand where he's coming from.)
This section of chapters began and ended with Catelyn, who is finally beginning to question her decision to capture Tyrion (and yes, I'll admit, rightfully so - trust me, I never said Catelyn was perfect; that's the best part about these books, no one is). One of the most interesting things about this particular chapter was her conversation with the Blackfish:
"A woman can rule as wisely as a man," Catelyn said.Not only does she believe that women can rule as well as men, but her uncle agrees with her. This is some pretty progressive thinking for Westeros, guys.
"The right woman can," her uncle said with a sideways glance. "Make no mistake, Cat. Lysa is not you."
Too bad Lysa is a mess.
I also enjoyed reading about Catelyn's encounter with Mya Stone - well, after she quieted her judgments about the girl being a bastard, anyway. (Again, I never said Catelyn was perfect. Just that she has her reasons.) Anyway, she and Mya spend a good bit of time together, and it's always said that Sansa looks very much like her mother (though supposedly even prettier than Catelyn ever was). Now that I've read this again, I'm very interested to see whether Mya ever puts two and two together...
So yup, a lot of silly fan conjecture was spawned from these chapters (on my part, I mean). I've been a couple days in writing this, too...possibly because I published a novel on Thursday ;) So I can't wait to move on to what happens next, especially as I'm now about halfway through the book!