By Charles Matthews

Friday, July 29, 2011

16. A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin, pp. 665-728


The Dothraki have won a battle against the Lhazareen, a sheepherding tribe whom the Dothraki detest: "The grass of the Dothraki sea was not made for sheep." Ser Jorah tells Daenerys that Drogo slew two khals in the fighting, and suffered only "A few cuts ... nothing of consequence."

Daenerys comes across a young girl being gang-raped by Dothraki, and tells Ser Jorah to make them stop, and orders her guards, Jhogo and Qaro, to help him: "I want no rape." They are baffled by the order, even Jorah, who tells her "This is how it has always been." But Daenerys insists, and when they call off the rapists, "The riders looked at her with cold black eyes. One spat. The others scattered to their mounts, muttering." Ser Jorah pulls the man who is in the act of raping the girl off of her, and when he draws a knife, Aggo kills him with an arrow through the throat. Daenerys tells Doreah to look after the girl. As they ride through the conquered town, they come across more women being raped, and each time Daenerys claims the woman as her slave.

They find Khal Drogo beside a pile of human heads. She is distressed to find that his wounds are more severe than Jorah had told her: He has an arrow through one arm, and "his left nipple was gone, and a flap of bloody flesh and skin dangled from his chest like a wet rag." He assures her it's only a scratch. Then a warrior rides up and complains that Daenerys "has taken his spoils, a daughter of the lambs who was his to mount." Drogo asks what she has done, and when she explains tells her, "These women are our slaves now, to do with as we please." So let them take the conquered women as wives, she says, which draws the scorn of Qotho, "the cruelest of the bloodriders":  "Does the horse breed with the sheep?" She retorts: "The dragon feeds on horse and sheep alike." Drogo smiles and rules in Daenerys's favor, but when he reaches out for her he grimaces in pain.

She calls for the healers, but is told that they have been sent to tend to wounded riders. Drogo insists that the wounds aren't serious, but she can see for herself, and tells Jhogo to find the eunuchs who tend to the wounded. Then one of the women she has saved from being raped speaks up and says she can tend to him. But Qotho protests, "The khal needs no help from women who lie with sheep," and tells Aggo to cut out her tongue. Daenerys intervenes, and asks the women's name. She is Mirri Maz Duir, she says. Haggo calls her a maegi, "a woman who lay with demons and practiced the blackest of sorceries." She insists that she's a healer, and claims that she had been trained by a maester from the Seven Kingdoms.
Mia Soteriou as Mirri Maz Duur

Drogo agrees to let her remove the arrow and sew up the wound, and they go to the temple of the Lhazareen. She removes the arrow and stitches the wound after applying ointments, then covers the wound with a poultice of leaves and binds it with lambskin. She tells Drogo to say the prayers she gives him for ten days and ten nights, and that "There will be fever, and itching, and a great scar when the healing is done."

Daenerys asks Mirri Maz Duur to tend to her when she is ready to deliver.


Tywin informs Tyrion that Robb has succeeded in coming to terms with Frey and that his army is no more than a day away from them. Moreover, he has decided to put Tyrion and his force of mountain men in the vanguard when the armies come to battle. "Either his lord father had a new respect for Tyrion's abilities, or he'd decided to rid himself of his embarrassing get for good. Tyrion had the gloomy feeling he knew which." But he decides to face the music and say, "I'll lead your van."

His father says he isn't giving Tyrion command of his forces. Gregor Clegane will lead them. Tyrion leaves in anger and goes to his tent where Bronn has found a girl for him, "slim, dark-haired, no more than eighteen by the look of her." She says her name is Shae.
It had been nigh on a year since he'd lain with a woman, since before he had set out for Winterfell in company with his brother and King Robert. He could well die on the morrow or the day after, and if he did, he would sooner go to his grave thinking of Shae than of his lord father, Lysa Arryn, or the Lady Catelyn Stark. 
Sibel Kekilli as Shae
After she falls asleep, Tyrion goes outside and sees Bronn, who tells him he took Shae from a knight, who didn't want to give her up but was persuaded by Tyrion's name and Bronn's dirk at his throat. "I seem too recall saying find me a whore, not make me an enemy," Tyrion says, telling Bronn he hopes the knight isn't next to him in the battle. Bronn says he'll be next to him in the battle, and Tyrion says, "See that I survive this battle, and you can name your reward." He returns to the tent where Shae sees to it that he goes to sleep smiling.

He is awakened by the sound of trumpets and Shae shaking him. As he is struggling into his armor, Bronn appears and says that Robb's army surprised them by moving down the kingsroad at night and are less than a mile away. When he is armored, Shae says, "M'lord looks fearsome." He replies, "M'lord looks like a dwarf in mismatched armor," but he thanks her. When he hears the sound of the enemy's drums, he thinks about the last time he saw Robb, at Winterfell, and remembers "how the direwolves had come at him out of the shadows." He wonders if Robb brought them to war. "The thought made him uneasy."

Ser Gregor is mounted on the biggest horse he had ever seen, and Bronn says, "Always follow a big man into battle.... They make such splendid targets." Ser Gregor orders him to take the left and hold the river. "The left of the left. To turn their flank, the Starks would need horses that could run on water." He orders his clansmen to protect the river, and they raise a cry of "Halfman!" in his honor. He looks at his soldiers and compares the disorganized rabble to the "mailed fist of knights and heavy lancers" on the right flank. "'Crow food,' Bronn muttered." Robb's army appears over the hilltop, and the battle begins.

Tyrion leads his clansmen into the battle, but they soon charge past him, leaving him in their dust. He sees Ser Gregor's horse cut out from under him, but the Mountain is on his feet, wielding his greatsword. Shagga and the other clansmen fight viciously, but Tyrion is soon surrounded by the enemy. A spear lodges in his shield, and Tyrion hacks at the man's shield with his axe, then leaves him and pursues another man, whom he cuts down from behind. He feels the shock of impact in his arm. He is attacked by another man and leaves him dead. He receives a blow in the elbow that fills him with pain, and then is knocked from his horse. The knight asks him if he yields. Tyrion has no weapon, but when the horse the man is riding rears, he charges headfirst at the animal, piercing its belly with the spike on his helmet. The knight is trapped underneath the horse, with his arm twisted. He yields, and gives Tyrion his sword.

Bronn rides up and observes that the spike on Tyrion's helmet is missing. "I haven't lost it," Tyrion says. "I know just where it is." They go in search of Tyrion's horse, and when they find it the watch Tywin and his knights ride by. They find many of the clansmen dead and Shagga riddled with arrows, but not dead. Chella daughter of Cheyk rides up and shows them the four ears she had cut off of men. "Of the three hundred clansmen who had ridden to battle behind Tyrion Lannister, perhaps half had survived."

Leaving Bronn in charge of the knight he has captured, Tyrion goes to see his father. His uncle says, "Your wild men fought well." But Tyrion is more interested in his father's reaction: "'Did that surprise you, Father?' he asked. 'Did it upset your plans? We were supposed to be butchered, were we not?'" Tywin says that he put the "least disciplined" on the left with Tyrion to set a trap for Robb, "a green boy, more like to be brave than wise." The assumption was that if the left collapsed, they'd put their forces there and Ser Kevan's forces would wheel and trap them there. Tyrion says that he didn't inform him of this plan, and Tywin replies, "I am not inclined to trust my plans to a man who consorts with sellswords and savages."

His savages ruined the plan, Tyrion observes, but Tywin says, "a victory is a victory." He observes that Tyrion is wounded, but as Tyrion is asking for medical help, "Unless you relish the notion of having a one-armed dwarf for a son...." they are interrupted by the arrival of Ser Addam Marbrand, who brings the news that they have taken some of Robb's commanders, but that Robb has eluded them: "They say he crossed at the Twins with the great part of his horse, riding hard for Riverrun." Robb has outsmarted them. Tyrion "would have laughed, if he hadn't hurt so much."


Catelyn waits anxiously for news from the battle, sounds of which she can hear in the distance, and once she sees Jaime Lannister leading his troops. She even hears Robb's voice shouting, "To me! To me!" But then it grows silent until dawn, when she hears Grey Wolf howl.

Finally Robb appears, riding a different horse from the one he had set out on. His shield has been hacked and gouged, but he seems unharmed. And then a mob of men appears, led by Theon and the Greatjon, who are dragging Jaime Lannister between them. They throw him down in front of her, and he says, "I would offer you my sword, but I seem to have mislaid it."  It's not his sword she wants, she tells him, but her father, her brother, her daughters, and her husband.

Theon urges Robb to kill Jaime, but Robb says, "He's more use alive than dead." Catelyn tells them to put him in irons. Then she tells Robb, "You may have lopped the head off the snake, but three quarters of the body is still coiled around my father's castle. We have won a battle, not a war." Theon exults in the battle anyway, but Catelyn points out that they haven't taken Lord Tywin. "Until you do, this war is far from done."


Khal Drogo has grown worse: The burning and itching from the poultice Mirri Maz Duur had applied to his wound bothered him so much that he ripped it off. Finally, he falls from his horse, and Daenerys calls a halt to their march. Drogo's bloodriders resist her order, but she stands firm and calls for Mirri Maz Duur to tend to Drogo.

A tent is erected for Drogo, and Daenerys begins to face the truth of the situation: "A khal who could not ride could not rule, and Drogo had fallen from his horse." Ser Jorah confirms what she fears: "Your khal is good as dead, Princess." But Daenerys stubbornly refuses to admit defeat. Jorah urges her to leave before he dies: Even though she is carrying Drogo's child, the Dothraki will not follow a woman or an infant, and there will be a struggle for leadership. The winner will kill the baby: "Better to kill the child than to risk his fury when he grows to manhood." Drogo's bloodriders will take her to the crones, the widows of the other khals, and they will die with Drogo.

Daenery's continues to resist Jorah's advice, and when Mirri Maz Duur arrives, she sets her to work on a cure. Qotho protests, and threatens to kill Daenerys, but Jorah draws his sword to protect her: "The princess is still your khaleesi." Only while Drogo is alive, Qotho says. "When he dies, she is nothing." Qotho and his fellow bloodrider leave the tent, and Daenerys tells Jorah to put on his armor and keep watch.

After they leave, Mirri Maz Duur tells Daenerys that Drogo is "beyond a healer's skills," and that by removing the poultice he prevented it from healing him. He will be dead by morning. Daenerys pleads with her: Is there anything, some magic, that could save him? Mirri Maz Duur says there is "bloodmagic" that could work: "Only death may pay for life." Daenerys orders her to do it.

Mirri Maz Duur commands Drogo's horse to be brought to her, and she slits its throat, letting the blood spill into the bath where Drogo has been placed. She orders everyone, including Daenerys, to leave the tent: "Once I begin to sing, no one must enter the tent. My song will wake powers old and dark. The dead will dance here this night. No living man must look on them."

Outside, Daenerys waits with Jorah, who is angry with her. On the curtain walls of the tent they see shadows of figures dancing with Mirri Maz Duur inside. The Dothraki are frightened, and Cohollo, the bloodrider who had always been kind to Daenerys, spits in her face. Qotho heads for the tent, and Jorah tries to prevent him from entering. He is wounded, but finally kills Qotho. Daenerys's guards kill Haggo and Cohollo.

A stone thrown by someone in the crowd strikes Daenerys in the shoulder, but as the crowd begins to leave, she feels the pangs of labor begin. Jorah comes to her and shouts for her maids to fetch a midwife. "They will not come," he is told. "They say she is accursed." The maids tell Jorah that Mirri Maz Duur knows how to tend to childbirth. Daenerys tries to tell Jorah not to take her into the tent, but she's unable to speak, and he carries her in.


Dirty and ragged, Arya has taken to the streets of King's Landing to survive, snaring pigeons and taking them to the "pot-shops," a kind of soup kitchen. The pastries on a pushcart tempt her, but its owner warns her, "The gold cloaks know how to deal with thieving little gutter rats, that they do."

She has kept her distance from the castle, but rumors on the street have made her aware that all may not be well for her father. She knows that King Robert is dead, but not much else for sure. And though she has tried to leave the city, all the gates are carefully guarded: No one is being allowed to leave.

Her clothes and the silver bracelet she had hoped to sell were all stolen from her. She still has her wooden practice sword and Needle. At the wharf she has discovered that the ship she and Sansa were supposed to leave on is still there. She sees guardsmen wearing the colors of Winterfell and the Starks, but she takes a closer look and recognizes that they are strangers -- she is familiar with all of her father's men.

Bells begin to ring out and people start to hurry as they hear the sound. It's a "summoning" bell, someone says, and she catches up with a boy who tells her the gold cloaks are taking the Hand to the sept: "They'll be taking his head off." Four guardsmen that she recognizes ride past, and someone else says, "--the King's Hand, Lord Stark. They're carrying him up to Baelor's Sept." Arya is swept along by the crowd, and when she reaches the throng in front of the temple she looks for a way to see over the crowd. Finally she climbs up onto the plinth that supports the statue of Baelor the Blessed.
Lord Eddard stood on the High Septon's pulpit outside the doors of the sept, supported between two of the gold cloaks.... He was not standing so much as being held up; the cast over his leg was grey and rotten.... Clustered around the doors of the sept, in front of the raised marble pulpit, were a knot of knights and high lords. Joffrey was prominent among them.... His queen mother stood beside him in a black mourning gown slashed with crimson, a veil of black diamonds in her hair. Arya recognized the Hound, wearing a snowy white cloak over his dark grey armor, with four of the Kingsguard around him.... And there in the midst was Sansa.... Arya scowled, wondering what her sister was doing here, why she looked so happy. 
Her father begins to speak: "I come before you to confess my treason in the sight of gods and men." He goes on to proclaim Joffrey as "the one true heir to the Iron Throne, and by the grace of all the gods, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm." A stone comes out of the crowd and hits him in the face.

The High Septon acknowledges Ned's confession, and then asks Joffrey what is to be done with the traitor. Joffrey begins, "My mother bids me let Lord Eddard take the black, and Lady Sansa has begged mercy for her father." He looks at Sansa and smiles, then continues, "But they have the soft hearts of women. So long as I am your king, treason shall never go unpunished. Ser Ilyn, bring me his head!"

Sansa falls to her knees, screaming, as Ser Ilyn Payne comes forward with a sword. Arya leaps into the crowd and draws Needle. She sees Ser Ilyn raise the sword and recognizes it as Ice, her father's own sword. Then a hand reaches out and grabs her. She drops Needle, and a voice snarls, "Don't look!" He makes her look at him, and calls her "boy" several times. Then she recognizes him as Yoren, the member of the Night's Watch who had visited her father. He hands her Needle, then carries her away.

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