By Charles Matthews

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

26. A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin, pp. 894-926


He is informed that he will be tried and judged by Mace Tyrell, Oberyn Martell, and his own father, but he can also choose a trial by combat. But Ser Kevan, his uncle, informs Tyrion that Cersei has named Gregor Clegane as her champion, which causes him to have second thoughts about that option. Bronn had succeeded as his champion at the Eyrie, but probably won't be persuaded to go against the Mountain.

In the meantime, he is under house arrest, which makes locating witnesses on his behalf somewhat difficult. He will be allowed access to his squire, Podrick, however. So when Podrick arrives Tyrion sends him in search of Bronn. Podrick is so long in returning, that Tyrion turns his mind to other things, such as figuring out who did poison Joffrey. He decides that it must have been Sansa, though he can't imagine who her accomplice might be in locating the poison, and sends word to his uncle that she should be found.

Podrick finally returns the next day with Bronn, who reveals that he is to marry Lollys, Lady Tanda's daughter, who is pregnant from being raped during the riots. When Tyrion points out to Bronn that Lollys is not the heir to Stokeworth, since she has a married elder sister, Falyse, Bronn point out that Falyse has been married for ten years without giving birth. Besides, Falyse could always die before Lady Tanda does. "Tyrion wondered whether Cersei had any notion of the sort of serpent she'd given Lady Tanda to suckle." Bronn turns down the offer to fight Gregor Clegane: "Either the Mountain spills my guts, or I kill him and lose Stokeworth. I sell my sword, I don't give it away."

When Bronn leaves, Podrick tells Tyrion he's sorry. But Tyrion replies, "Why? Is it your fault that Bronn's an insolent black-hearted rogue? He's always been an insolent black-hearted rogue. That's what I liked about him."

The day of the trial arrives, and Tyrion is ushered to the packed Throne Room. The first witness against him is Ser Balon Swann, who testifies about Tyrion's bravery at the battle of the Blackwater, and says, "I will not believe he did this thing," which surprises Tyrion. But Ser Balon also recalls that Tyrion "knocked the king to the ground and began kicking him" on the day of the riot. And Meryn Trant follows Balon to the stand to recall the same incident, as well as the time Tyrion stopped Joffrey's humiliation of Sansa, reminding him of "what had happened to Aerys Tergaryen. And that when Ser Boros Blount defended the king, Tyrion "threatened to have him killed." Ser Boros confirms the story.

The three Kettleblacks testify next, recalling Tyrion's threats to Cersei. "He said he would wait for a day when she was happy, and make her joy turn to ashes in her mouth," Osney testifies, without mentioning that Tyrion was protesting the whipping of Alayaya. Ser Osmund claims that Joffrey had told him to guard him against Tyrion, "for my uncle loves me not. He means to be king in my place." Tyrion can't restrain himself and shouts, "Liar!" but is admonished by his father. Cersei begs him to put Tyrion in chains, but is turned down.

On the second day, the maesters who conducted the autopsy say they found no sign of choking on the pigeon pie and that Joffrey was killed by poison. Grand Maester Pycelle is shown a number of poisons and tells the court that Tyrion had stolen them from his chambers when he had Pycelle imprisoned. Tyrion asks if any of them caused the kind of choking that Joffrey experienced, and Pycelle admits that they don't, and that you need a poison known as "the strangler." Tyrion asks if any of it was found, and Pycelle replies no, "You used it all to kill the noblest child the gods ever put on this good earth." The characterization so infuriates Tyrion that he blurts out, "Joffrey was cruel and stupid, but I did not kill him." Once again, Tywin warns him to keep quiet. Then there is a parade of witnesses to what happened at the wedding, including the detail of Tyrion emptying the chalice onto the floor after Joffrey began choking.

That evening, Tyrion's uncle, Ser Kevan, tells him, "If you were to admit your guilt before the throne and repent of your crime, your father would withhold the sword. You would be permitted to take the black." Tyrion recalls that "Those were the same terms Cersei offered Eddard Stark. We all know how that ended." But Kevan reminds him that Lord Tywin was not involved in that betrayal, which Tyrion has to admit. He tells his uncle he will think about the offer, and spends the night trying to decide whether to trust his father. He is aware of the consequences of confessing: "They will call me kinslayer till the end of my days. For a thousand years or more, if I am remembered at all, it will be as the monstrous dwarf who poisoned his young nephew at his wedding feast."

The next day, Varys is called to testify. He tells of Tyrion's scheme to separate Joffrey from the protection of Sandor Clegane, and of his talking with Bronn about "the benefits of having Tommen as king." Varys has notes on all of Tyrion's movements and threats that confirm Tyrion's malice toward Joffrey. The weight of the evidence is seriously prejudicial, particularly as it is so meticulously documented. At the end of it Tywin asks Cersei if all the witnesses have been produced, and she tells him there is one more. Tyrion feels a kind of gratitude that it's almost over: "After this farce of a trial, execution will almost come as a relief."

That night, Prince Oberyn pays him a surprise visit. He tells Tyrion that Cersei "needs another husband, and who better than a prince of Dorne? Ellaria believes I should accept. Just the thought of Cersei in our bed makes her wet, the randy wench." Of course, Cersei won't consent unless he agrees to convict Tyrion. But he has no love for Cersei.
"To be sure, I have much to thank your sister for. If not for her accusation at the feast, it might well be you judging me instead of me judging you." The prince's eyes were dark with amusement. "Who knows more of poison than the Red Viper of Dorne, after all? Who has better reason to want to keep the Tyrells far from the crown? And with Joffrey in his grave, by Dornish law the Iron Throne should pass next to his sister Myrcella, who as it happens is betrothed to mine own nephew, thanks to you."

Dornish law doesn't apply in King's Landing, Oberyn admits, but that doesn't mean that civil war couldn't result from the claim. When Tyrion says that his father would never support Myrcella over Tommen, Oberyn replies, "Your father ... may not live forever." And Tyrion remembers that Oberyn suspects Tywin of having ordered the rape and murder of Elia, Oberyn's sister: "He wants the head that spoke the words, not just the hand that swung the sword."

Tyrion presses the point: "It was Ser Gregor Clegane who smashed Prince Aegon's head against a wall and raped your sister Elia with his blood and brains still on his hands." But when Oberyn asks if Tywin gave the order, Tyrion can't bring himself to admit it. Oberyn recognizes it as "a very feeble lie," but says he might be able to save Tyrion. He is only one of the three judges, Tyrion says. How could Oberyn save him?

"Not as your judge. As your champion."


He has moved into the Lord Commander's quarters, and is spending his days at Tyrion's trial. Tyrion has given no sign that he has seen him, and perhaps hasn't even recognized him. Cersei has kept her distance since the day they had sex in the sept, so Jaime is estranged from his whole family.

He has at his side an enormous book formally known as The Book of the Brothers, but usually called the White Book. It is a history of the Kingsguard, into which each member records his deeds. The records need updating, and Jaime decides he will take care of that once he learns to write with his left hand. He reads through the entry for Ser Barristan Selmy, and observes that his own entry is slender in comparison.

But he sets aside the book when the other members of the Kingsguard arrive, starting with Ser Osmund Kettleblack. There are six of them in all present, with Ser Arys Oakheart away in Dorne. In addition to Ser Osmund, there are Ser Boros Blount, Ser Meryn Trant, Ser Balon Swann, and Ser Loras Tyrell.
Jaime had served with Meryn Trant and Boros Blount for years, adequate fighters, but Trant was sly and cruel, and Blount a bag of growly air. Ser Balon Swann was better suited to his cloak, and of course the Knight of Flowers was supposedly all a knight should be. The fifth man was a stranger to him, this Osmund Kettleblack. 
He begins by pointing out that all five of them were present at the wedding feast, but Joffrey is dead anyway. He observes that this makes Tyrell angry and Balon ashamed, but the other three betray no emotion. And then he asks if Tyrion poisoned Joffrey. It is Meryn Trant who says he must have been the one to poison the wine, and Ser Boros says that spilling it demonstrates Tyrion's guilt. But Ser Balon says the dais was full of people, and that everyone was looking at the doves that flew from the pie. "No one was watching the wine cup."

It's the Knight of Flowers who speaks up to accuse Sansa, "who had reason to want Margaery dead, as well as the king." And she fled afterward. This gives Jaime some hope that Tyrion might be innocent, and he thinks about consulting Varys to find out how Sansa might have escaped. But for now his task is to manage the Kingsguard in protecting Tommen. The first thing he does is to order Ser Boros to "taste everything Tommen eats or drinks." Ser Boros is furious at the idea: "I am no food taster! I am a knight of the Kingsguard!"

But Joffrey knows how Boros yielded Tommen to Bronn. Cersei had stripped him of his white cloak because of it, but Tywin had restored it. He tells Boros that he "will find carrots and pease less threatening than" Bronn. "You should have died before you let Tommen be taken." Boros retorts, "As you died protecting Aerys, ser?" As a "cripple," Boros says, Jaime should be the one to taste the food. He reaches for his sword, and Jaime tells him to go ahead and draw it, "and we shall see how your two hands fare against my one." Boros spits at Jaime's feet and walks out -- to Jaime's relief, knowing that he is still no match for any of them with his left hand.

Then he turns to Ser Osmund and says he doesn't know him and asks where he served. Osmund's answer reveals that he had been a sellsword, and even the source of his knighthood -- "Ser Robert ... Stone. He's dead now, my lord" -- is questionable. Jaime wonders, "What was Cersei thinking when she gave this one a white cloak?" Jaime reflects that at least Kettleblack knows how to fight, so he tells him to go.

Next it's Meryn Trant's turn, and Jaime questions his role in helping Joffrey abuse Sansa. He asks him to point out in the White Book "where it is in our vows that we swear to beat women and children." Trant replies that he was just following the king's orders, and Jaime tells him to obey the Queen Regent, the King's Hand, and the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard from now own. Tommen "is eight. Our first duty is to protect him, which includes protecting him from himself.... If Tommen wants you to saddle his horse, obey him. If he tells you to kill his horse, come to me." He dismisses Ser Meryn.

Then he tells Ser Balon that he has seen him fight and "The Kingsguard is honored by your presence." Balon warily thanks him, and Jaime continues, "but Varys tells me that your brother rode with Renly and then Stannis, whilst your lord father chose not to call his banners at all and remained behind the walls of Stonehelm all through the fighting." Balon replies that his father is an old man, "Well past forty. His fighting days are done." As for his brother, he was wounded in the battle and afterward pledged fealty to Joffrey with the other captives. But Jaime says it's not his brother he's concerned with but Balon. What will he do if his brother joins with another usurper and Balon has to defend the king against him. Balon assures him, "that will never happen." But it happened to Jaime himself, he reminds Balon. Embarrassed, Balon says, "On my sword, on my honor, on my father's name, I swear ... I shall not do as you did."

The answer pleases and amuses Jaime, who tells Balon to return to his duties and tell his brother "to add a weathervane to his shield." This leaves only the Knight of Flowers. There is a spell of measuring up against each other: both had been called to the guard as young men, Loras at seventeen, Jaime at fifteen, and both had distinguished mentors. "He's me, Jaime realized suddenly. I am speaking to myself, as I was, all cocksure arrogance and empty chivalry. This is what it does to you, to be too good too young." Then he reminds Loras that a member of the Kingsguard has no secrets from the Lord Commander and asks who was wearing Renly's armor in the Battle of the Blackwater. Loras hesitates before admitting that it was his brother, Garlan, and that the idea was Littlefinger's.

Loras goes on to say that he will defend King Tommen, but that Renly "was the king that should have been. He was the best of them." Jaime admires Ser Loras's loyalty, but he has a duty left for him: Brienne. Loras insists that she won her place in the Rainbow Guard with a trick. Jaime reminds Loras of the trick he used by riding "a mare in heat against a foe mounted on a bad-tempered stallion." But Loras insists that Brienne killed Renly. "Or let him die." Which brings them back to Joffrey's death: "There were five of you at the wedding feast.... How could Joffrey die? Unless you were part of it." When Loras says there was nothing they could have done, Jaime tells him that's exactly what Brienne said of Renly's death. "Show me how you'd fight a shadow. I should like to see that."

Ser Loras insists that Brienne's flight with Catelyn Stark is evidence of her guilt. But he admits that there is no way a sword could have pierced Renly's armor. "If not her, though ... how could it be a shadow?" Jaime tells him to go to Brienne in her cell, ask her questions and listen to her answers. "All I ask is that you judge her fairly, on your honor as a knight." He dismisses Loras, but the knight turns at the door and says, "if she's innocent, then Robar and Emmon...." But he can't finish the sentence, and Jaime is left to think, "The Knight of Flowers had been so mad with grief for Renly that he had cut down two of his own Sworn Brothers, but it had never occurred to Jaime to do the same with the five who had failed Joffrey."

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