By Charles Matthews

Saturday, September 24, 2011

12. A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin, pp. 413-440


His sword hand has been cut off and the stump seared with a torch. In excruciating pain and suffering from a fever caused by the infected wound, he hears the Mummers laughing and tries to restrain his tears. "Now I know how Tyrion has felt, all those times they laughed at him," Jaime thinks.

He and Brienne are riding together on a horse, bound face-to-face, with the severed hand hanging from a cord around his neck between them. To add to his humiliation when he asks for something to drink, he swallows it down and then is told that it's horse piss. He drinks it anyway, but throws it up. They make Brienne clean up his vomit "just as they made her clean him up when he soiled himself in the saddle."

Once he manages to pull the sword from the Dornishman's scabbard, but he is unable to use it with his left hand. Vargo Hoat promises that if he tries something like that again he will cut off Jaime's other hand, or perhaps a foot.

At night, when he is lying next to Brienne, he lets her know that he wants to die, and she asks, "Are you so craven?" He is shocked to realize that it was something no one had ever called him. "'Live,' she said, 'live, and fight, and take revenge,'" but Rorge hears her and comes over to give her a kick. But Jaime lies there and thinks about the word "craven":  "Can it be? They took my sword hand. Was that all i was, a sword hand? Gods be good, is it true?" So the next morning he begins to eat again, and to tell himself to "live for Cersei, live for Tyrion. Live for vengeance. A Lannister always pays his debts." And he wants to live to get even with Vargo Hoat. He envies Brienne, who "has built a fortress inside herself. They will rape her soon enough, but behind her walls they cannot touch her." His wall fell when they took his sword hand, he thinks.

He overhears that their destination is Harrenhal, and he laughs at the irony: The castle was where he was named to the Kingsguard. He gets a lash across the face from a whip for laughing, and is kicked and punched when he continues to laugh. Only when the kick is aimed at his stump does the pain stop him from laughing: He faints.

The next night, three of the Mummers, including Rorge, begin to discuss who will rape Brienne first. As they argue, Jaime whispers to her to "go away inside" while they're doing it.
That was what he he'd done, when the Starks had died before him, Lord Rickard cooking in his armor while his son Brandon strangled himself trying to save him. "Think of Renly, if you loved him. Think of Tarth, mountains and seas, pools, waterfalls, whatever you have on your Sapphire Isle, think...."
But Rorge interrupts him to say that if she fights while he's raping her he'll cut off her nose, or gouge out one of her eyes and make her eat it, or pull her teeth out.

Jaime shouts out, "SAPPHIRES," as a reminder of the supposed ransom that her father will pay for Brienne, and passes out when Rorge kicks him in the stump. But when he comes to, Vargo Hoat is telling the others not to rape her because of the sapphires. Two nights later, Brienne asks him in a whisper why he yelled the word out so loud, and he tries to make a joke, saying, "You're hard enough to look at with a nose. Besides, I wanted to make the goat say 'thapphireth." She thanks him anyway, and he says, "A Lannister pays his debts. That was for the river, and those rocks you dropped on Robin Ryger."

As they near Harrenhal, Hoat has them dismount and approach the castle on foot. Jaime is filled with rage and pain. Brienne observes that the banners flying on the castle are the Bolton flayed man, the Frey twin towers, and the Stark direwolf. When they enter, Hoat announces to the people assembled there, "I give you the Kingthlayer," and a spear jabbed in Jaime's back sends him headlong. Instinctively, he breaks his fall by putting out his hands, sending another shock of pain from the stump through his body. He manages to maintain consciousness, however, and when he sees several of Lord Walder Frey's sons there, he offers his condolences on the death of Ser Cleos.

Brienne steps forth and tells them that she is "sworn to House Stark even as you are." But Ser Aenys Stark spits at her feet and tells her, "That's for your oaths. We trusted the word of Robb Stark, and he repaid our faith with betrayal." Jaime's curiosity is piqued by this news, but Brienne persists, telling them that she vowed to Catelyn that she would deliver Jaime to King's Landing in exchange for her daughters. The Freys begin to argue among themselves about what should be done with Jaime, and Hoat interjects that Jaime is his.

Then Roose Bolton speaks up, quietly, so the others stop arguing to hear him. Jaime, however, can't resist taunting the Lord of the Dreadfort with having lost a battle to his father. Bolton observes that Jaime has "lost a hand," but Jaime says it isn't lost: "I have it here, hanging around my neck." In disgust, Bolton breaks the cord holding the hand and flings it at Hoat, who says he'll send it to Jaime's father. If he doesn't pay the ransom for Jaime, Hoat says, he'll send the rest of Jaime to him piece by piece. And if he sends the ransom, he'll turn Jaime over to Lord Karstark anyway and take Karstark's daughter in marriage as a reward.

Bolton then delivers the latest news: Karstark is dead, beheaded by Robb. And Tywin is at King's Landing until the new year, when Joffrey will marry "a daughter of Highgarden." Brienne corrects him: "You mean Winterfell. King Joffrey is betrothed to Sansa Stark." But Bolton informs her that the Lannisters and the Tyrells are uniting because of the Battle of Blackwater: "The rose and the lion joined there, to shatter Stannis Baratheon's host and burn his fleet to ashes."

Jaime asks about his sister, and Bolton says, "She is well. As is your ... nephew," the pause signifying that he knows about Joffrey's paternity. And Tyrion is recovering from the wound he took in the battle. He orders Jaime taken to Qyburn, the acting maester, and Brienne released from her bonds. When she says that Hoat's men tried to rape her, Bolton says, "I am displeased. By that, and this of Ser Jaime's hand." He has Brienne shown to "suitable rooms."

Qyburn is shocked by Jaime's wound, and says the best thing to do would be to amputate the arm, at least at the elbow, but Jaime is insistent: "Take any part of my arm, and you'd best chop off the other one as well, or I'll strangle you with it afterward." Qyburn agrees to try to cut only the gangrenous flesh and to treat the wound, but warns Jaime that may not succeed. Jaime refuses anything that will put him to sleep, for fear that Qyburn will amputate anyway. During the operation Jaime faints from the pain anyway. When he wakes, Qyburn is sewing up the wrist.

"No man who serves with Vargo Hoat is a stranger to stumps," Qyburn comments. "He makes them wherever he goes." Jaime asks why a maester is with the Brave Companions. Qyburn replies that his chain was taken away by the Citadel, and says he should do something about the cut over Jaime's eye. As he works, he tells Jaime about the battle, which as keeper of the ravens Qyburn was well informed on.


Tyrion and Bronn are outside the walls, where people are returning to their old ways in the area that he had burned out before the battle. Tyrion is forced to take charge of the rebuilding, which would have been his Uncle Kevan's task, but the murder of his son Willem and the fact that his son Martyn is a hostage and his son Lancel is still suffering from a wound that will not heal has taken a toll.

As they pass the three trebuchets still standing in the market square, Tyrion notices children climbing on them and worries that one of them is going to fall off and break his neck. But then manure is thrown at him and his horse rears, so Tyrion changes his mind about protecting them. He also knows that his failure to consummate his marriage has drawn ridicule at the court. Sansa is miserable and shows it. "This was the wife they had given him, for all the rest of his life, and she hated him."

He had wanted to break the news of his impending marriage to Shae, but she had already heard it. It made no difference to her, however. "Some part of him had hoped for less indifference. Had hoped, he jeered bitterly, but now you know better, dwarf. Shae is all the love you're ever like to have."

Today he has another matter to deal with, and Bronn accompanies him as he goes into one of the poorer parts of the city. Leaving Bronn on guard, he goes into a dismal little bar where the woman in the front room directs him to the back. There he meets the singer Symon Silver Tongue, who says, "My sweet lady Shae tells me you are newly wed. Would that you had sent for me earlier. I would have been honored to sing at your feast." Tyrion rebuffs the courtesy and tells him never to speak of Shae again.

He tells Symon that he hears he is "a very gifted singer," and suggests that "it is time you brought your music to the Free Cities. They are great lovers of song in Braavos and Pentos and Lys, and generous with those who please them." He tells him that he will be glad to pay his passage. Symon cheekily responds by giving him a sample of his songs, one that refers to Tyrion's clandestine dalliance with Shae. When Tyrion tells him not to sing it again, Symon suggests that others, such as Cersei or his father, might like it better. Tyrion replies, "A wise man could earn more from silence than from song."

But Symon is not deterred, and suggests that he be invited to join the tournament of singers at Joffrey's wedding feast. Tyrion points out that seven singers have already been invited, and that everything at the feast is in multiples of seven: "seven vows, seven challenges, seventy-seven dishes ... but eight singers?" Symon suggests that something might happen to one of the seven already invited, making a place available for him. So Tyrion says, "I will inquire after the health of Cersei's seven. If any of them should be indisposed, my man Bronn will find you."

Symon still taunts him with the prospect that he might sing his song about Tyrion and Shae if the invitation doesn't come through, but Tyrion replies, "You have my word as a Lannister," and leaves. Outside, he tells Bronn,
"Give him three days, then inform him that Hamish the Harper has broken his arm. Tell him that his clothes will never serve for court, so he must be fitted for new garb at once. He'll come with you quick enough." He grimaced. "You may want his tongue, I understand it's made of silver. The rest of him should never be found."
Bronn says he knows of a pot shop that makes a stew from all kinds of meat. Tyrion replies, "Make certain I never eat there."

When he returns to the castle he is summoned to his father, whom he finds talking with an armorer about the sword being made as a wedding gift for Joffrey. It is made of Valyrian steel, and Tywin has always wanted a Valyrian blade to belong to House Lannister. "Thrice at least Lord Tywin had offered to buy Valyrian longswords from impoverished lesser houses, but his advances had always been firmly rebuffed." Tyrion comments on the color of the blade. Tywin had wanted crimson, but the armorer says that despite his efforts the blade continued to turn a darker shade. Tyrion says he likes these colors. "They have an ominous beauty ... and they make this blade unique. There is no other sword like it in all the world, I should think." But there is, the armorer says, and unfolds the cloth covering a second blade, which is similar.

Tyrion wields it, and pronounces it "Magnificent." Tywin says, "It is meant for my son." Tyrion thinks, "No need to ask which son," and lays it next to Joffrey's. The armorer, who is Gendry's former master, Tobho Mott, promises to have both swords ready the day before the wedding. When he leaves, Tyrion says, "So ... a sword for Joff, a sword for Jaime, and not even a dagger for the dwarf. Is that the way of it, Father?" Tywin says if he needs a dagger to get one from the armory and asks for his report on the riverfront.

Tyrion details what needs to be done, and comments on the enormous expense, especially considering the extravagance of the wedding. Tywin dismisses his concerns: "I will have the wedding and the waterfront. If you cannot pay for them, say so, and I shall find a master of coin who can." Tyrion doesn't want to be disgraced by losing a post he has held so briefly, so he agrees to find the money.

Then Tywin turns to the topic of the unconsummated marriage of Tyrion and Sansa. "You seem to have no difficulty bedding whores. Is the Stark girl made differently?" When Tyrion protests that she is so young, Tywin points out that she's old enough to inherit Winterfell. "Claim her maidenhood and you will be one step closer to claiming the north. Get her with child, and the prize is all but won." Otherwise, he points out, the marriage can be annulled.

Tyrion changes the subject by asking about Cersei's marriage to Willas, and Tywin tells him that Mace Tyrell has refused the offer. Tyrion is pleased by anything that embarrasses Cersei, and especially so when Tywin tells him that the refusal seems to have been the work of the Queen of Thorns: "Varys claims she told [Mace Tyrell] that your sister was too old and too used for this precious one-legged grandson of hers." When Tyrion laughs, his father says that Cersei must never know about this, and that the official position is, "The offer was never made."

Tywin has some thoughts about other marriages that might be arranged for Cersei, but before he can voice them they are interrupted by Grand Maester Pycelle, who reports that another raven has arrived from Castle Black. The news is that vast numbers of wildlings are moving south, and that the acting commander of Castle Black, Bowen Marsh, fears that Jeor Mormont and his men have been wiped out. He has sent a plea for more men "to all five kings." Tywin bristles at the idea that there might be more than "one king in Westeros."

Tywin has nothing but scorn for the Night's Watch -- "a pack of thieves, killers, and baseborn churls" -- but if Mormont is dead, they need a new Lord Commander. Pycelle has the very man for the job: Janos Slynt. He also knows that Tyrion hates Slynt, whom he sent to the Wall to get rid of. But when Tyrion says that the Night's Watch chooses their own commander, Tywin says that if they don't choose whom he wants, they will never get the reinforcements they need. Tyrion tries to argue his father out of bullying them into choosing Slynt, but loses.

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