* PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL RE-READ POSTS WILL INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR ALL PUBLISHED WORKS IN THE SONG OF ICE & FIRE UNIVERSE. *
Things are really getting crazy at this point in AGOT, but that doesn't quite make up for the fact that of these seven chapters, four of them were in Ned's POV. Yes, they're some of his better ones - I mean, at least he finally figures out that Cersei's children aren't Robert's (with Sansa's help, mind you! unwitting it may have been, but still).
Oh, Ned. Oh, Robert. And Oh, TYWIN. (And as much as I hate to say it, yes, even "Oh, Sansa".) So much frustration in this section; honestly, it's hard for me to even figure out what to say about all of it. I mean, yeah, Robert goes off hunting and the realm falls to pieces, but as always with GRRM it's really not that simple. Tywin is at fault for sending Gregor Clegane to raid villages; Edmure Tully is at fault for acting before thinking (not the first time he's done something like this, I'd wager - not with the way both Catelyn and Ned talk about him - nor will it be the last). Cersei connives, Sansa makes a grave mistake, Varys and Pycelle don't help much at all, and Littlefinger is a traitorous bastard. And Ned...Ned, Ned, Ned.
I mean seriously. He pisses off Loras Tyrell, apparently Ilyn Payne, and then Renly as well. Not to mention Cersei, though let's be honest, he was well in his rights, there. I'm torn between being proud of Ned for handling that situation the way he did - trying to give her a chance, I mean, because as much as Cersei is crazy I can't help but love her - and being frustrated because he should have known better than to give her that chance.
|Obligatory Cerseis & Robert picture!|
Speaking of feeling Cersei's wrath, it's interesting to be re-introduced to her and see her from others' points of view again. It's been a while, and having more recently re-read the last three books in the series, it makes for an interesting comparison. Her POV chapters in AFFC and ADWD show her basically going off the deep end, and it's nice to be reminded that while she may never have been totally sane, she wasn't always that much of a mess...and at the same time, it's difficult to be reminded that there are so many reasons for her eventual down spiral.
But first, of course, she orchestrates Ned's downfall - though not without help. Littlefinger's, mainly, though of course we later find out that Sansa had a hand in it too. Yes, I love Sansa, and I understand her reasons for doing what she did, but I'll admit that it still sucks. That said, it wasn't Sansa alone who ruined things, people. Keep that in mind. Littlefinger is an ass - a smart one, yeah, but an ass nonetheless, working only for himself and his own good. And Cersei will do anything - anything - to protect her children (and, admittedly, her power). Robert is doing what he normally does and running away from the problem; only this time, his drunkenness and general demeanor lead to his death.
Combine all of those factors (and more - let's not forget Ned's sheer stupidity in handling the situation with Cersei in the first place), and you get the perfect recipe for Ned ending up with a dagger at his throat, courtesy of one Petyr Baelish.
Meanwhile, Daenerys is over in Essos eating horse hearts and watching her brother get himself killed. Poor Viserys - he was such a mess and really just doomed from the start. Honestly I've never really felt much of anything about his death, though this time around there was a twinge of pity for him at the very end. Maybe I'm going soft. (Which makes no sense as I'm reading this series for the fourth time, now.)
And last but not least, Jon Snow is finally a sworn brother of the Night's Watch...and pretty pissed about his appointment to the stewards. When I first read AGOT, of course I was as surprised as Jon about this outcome, but now that the element of surprise is removed, it's hard for me to not be annoyed at his reaction. Of course all of that is easily forgettable in the face of Ghost showing up with a rotted hand just after Jon and Sam take their vows in the weirwood grove just beyond the Wall.
With that I move into even deeper territory, because next up Catelyn meets up with Robb, Tyrion meets up with Tywin, and Jon [finally] begins to prove his worth. Until next time, remember: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."
Thank you, Cersei Lannister, for that lesson in Westerosi politics.