July 08, 2011

Tyrion IV

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones
Tyrion sleeps badly, if at all. After the mess he made of himself, Griff forbade him wine aboard the Shy Maid, so he can hardly sleep at all, since he never slept that good to begin with even on feather beds. It’s still dark when he wakes, and he tries to rub an ache out from his legs. Since he sleeps on the cabin roof, nights are even more uncomfortable than anyway. Tyrion comes upon Griff, who had the night watch, and shortly talks to him. The sellsword doesn’t like him, however, and quickly goes below deck, leaving the watch to Tyrion. 

As the sun rises, Septa Lemore is the first to appear on the deck. The septa in the mid-forties is a handsome appearance and gets naked to bath, which makes Tyrion horny. They tease each other a bit before Yandry and Ysilla, the owners of the boat, appear and start making a breakfast of biscuits and bacon. Tyrion takes a piss with Duck, saying that the Rhoyne doesn’t look that impressive. Yandry angrily interrupts him, telling him that the Rhoyne becomes much larger downriver. Tyrion doesn’t really believe him and has his breakfast. After, Duck and Young Griff train sword fighting. When Young Griff tackles Duck over the ship in the water, Tyrion teases him, so Duck throws him in the water as well. 

In an exchange with Haldon, the Halfmaester, Tyrion makes up some more lies about his origins, claiming to have served in a mummer’s troupe in Lannisport. We learn that the few tumbler tricks he knows originate from his uncle, who taught him, but he was quickly forbidden to continue by his father. He challenges Haldon for a game of cyvasse, in which he always beat Tyrion, and is told that they will do so after the lessons with Young Griff to which Haldon invites Tyrion. Until they begin, Tyrion sits and writes down what he knows of dragon lore and estimates as reliable for the meeting with Dany, on urging of Griff. He lacks certain books, though, and hopes to stumble upon some in the libraries of the Free Cities, for example in Volantis. 

In the lessons with Young Griff, they learn about language first. Young Griff speaks several languages fluently, and fitting their destination, they currently learn Ghiscari. It is again established that the language is an ugly one. Tyrion declares that one can only speak it having a bee up his nose. After that, Young Griff recites some history of Volantis. The city was once founded as first outpost of old Valyria, and upon the Doom regarded itself as rightful heir of the civilization. The tigers, one of the two ruling factions (the others being the elephants) led a great campaign of conquest, bringing down Myr and Lys, but when they attacked Tyrosh, Pentos and the Storm king weighed in, Aegon flew in the war on Balerion and Volantis was brought down. At this point, the elephants took over, proposing a strategy of trade to gain influence and power, and are ruling ever since. Currently, one tiger and two elephants rule in Volantis, where the triarchs are yearly elected. The history lessons are followed by sums and songs before Young Griff leaves.  

Haldon then exchanges some remarks with Tyrion, referring to having won every game until now. Tyrion quips that he holds back as to lure Haldon into safety, and says that their games are just for fun and not in earnest. When Haldon proposes a wager, Tyrion states that he has no money to play for, but that they could play for secrets, shaming Haldon into accepting over his reservations. On the next morning, a giant turtle can be seen on the surface next to the Shy Maid, if only for a few moments. Great clamor arises on the boat, since the natives of the Rhoyne regard a sighting of these creatures as a rare and lucky event, calling the turtle the Old Man of the River. Tyrion smiles, thinking that the sighting only befits the birth of a king. 

This chapter seems boring on the first read, since virtually nothing really happens in it. In fact, it’s much like a Essos road movie, with the exception of taking place on a boat rather than a highway. It is full of detailed descriptions of the Rhoyne and the surrounding landscapes, the boat and the micro cosmos on it. There can be found many details, however, and one has to let the ambience have an effect to really enjoy the chapter. Then, however, it’s rich. 

So we get a really close look at the persons aboard the ship. Duck is a lively lad, quick to laugh, quick to forgive, who doesn’t have much sorrows or deep thoughts. Griff is again established as a hard, stoic man. Septa Lemore is also lively, and while she teases Tyrion and everyone else by posing naked and bathing, she does take her vows seriously. Yandry and Ysilla are natives of the Rhoyne, loving their ship and their river and defending it against anyone speaking against it. Young Griff, lastly, seems a good lad, intelligent and strong, quick to learn and sympathetic. 

The purpose of the whole party is the training of Young Griff. Tyrion rightly observes that extraordinary measures are taken for the son of a sellsword, and rightly suspects something amiss. To prove his doubts and his theory, he challenges Haldon, whom he let win all previous cyvasse games cleverly, and beats him as to ask him several questions (at least one assumes that he did). That way, Tyrion learns the true identity of Young Griff, who of course is the king that he thought of in his closing remark. 

There are some more observations that can be made about Tyrion in this chapter. Again, Martin establishes his cranky legs. We had the same theme several times now, Tyrion waking up and being hardly able to move his legs. That way, his physical inferiority is shown. We also get another glimpse of his uncle Gerion (it couldn’t be Kevan who taught him tumbling) and the funny nature. No wonder Tywin dislikes him. At several points in the chapter, Tyrion thinks of his father, still loathing him and being satisfied of his death, taking pleasure in the fact that he is now forced to do things that Tywin would have abhorred. We also get a closer look at Tyrion’s knowledge, which can compete with that of some maester’s at least on the subject of dragons. Clearly, Tyrion knows how to work with scientific literature. At last, Tyrion harbors the irrational hope of stumbling over Tysha in Volantis, since it could be a place “where whores go”. He certainly takes an irrational obsession in his literal interpretation of his father’s last words. 

The chapter provides us with some mentions and descriptions of landmarks and locations. The party passes the ruin city of Ny Sar, and Tyrion gets a look at the ruins of Nymeria’s old palace. Everything about the Rhoyne just sweats out history. The whole river is full of turtles, which are mentioned several times in the chapter and give it its own distinctive character. We also hear again of the Black Walls of Volantis and the city core, which seem to contain a library of which Tyrion hopes to find some old books in. We also get some real nice descriptions of the food, which makes your mouth water. 

As to side notes, it seems is said that Young Griff has blue eyes, but that’s not true. Tyrion falls for the trick, because the lad has blue dyed hair and one automatically associates the hair color with that of the eyes. In truth, his eyes are purple. It is, secondly, interesting to mention that the Westerosi kings took part in the wars of the Free Cities. It seems that this habit died out only with the Targaryen invasion, and that the continent went into a more isolated form of foreign policy than before. Third, we learn that Tyrion learned his few tumbling tricks, which he displayed in his initial encounter with Jon Snow in “A Game of Thrones”, from his uncle Gerion and never pursued them farther. Another crackpot theory about 00Tyrion goes down the window, and I’m glad for it.


  1. Thanks a lot for your work, I really appreciate it.

    You persuaded me to wait for my own language (italian) issue of the book :)

  2. Read through this chapter, and slight additions to be made in your review. Tyrion mentions that the color of Young Giff's eyes takes a different look depending on the light. Also, I think it was mentioned somewhere in my first read that they purposefully died Young Giffs hair blue as cover, since people will associate it with his eyes upon first glance when seen together. I think anyway.

    Also, Voltantis was the FIRST outpost founded by Valyria apparently, which is what sparked the idea that it was heir to the Freehold after the Doom.

    On the last part, I thought it was mentioned that Aegon I himself sailed out to fight Volantis, was this before or after the conquest you think? If Before Volantis must have been regarded as significant risk to his plans for Aegon to act prior to getting ready for the invasion of Westeros

    You know, going over your first review I actually say I've come to like Giff/Young Giff. Sure, their sudden introduction is a bit out of left field, but the implications of their existence and actions are intriguing enough for me to push that aside. And I've seen enough of other characters with similar dispositions to get a general idea of what they're like, even if we only have a few chapters to get to know them so far. For now I think of Giff as the Kevan to Rhaegar's Tywin, and Young Giff as Jon Snow before his maturation in the NW. Even the exchanges and lessons from Tyrion seem similar.

  3. Oh and add a bit of Jorah Mormont in their for Giff, if a bit more refined, to take into account having become more hardened in the years during his exile.

  4. @Leo: How's that?
    @Krimzon: Thanks for your input, changing accordingly!

  5. Especially because of the Jon cliffhanger at the end of the book.

    Very poor script, imho.

  6. Eh, GRRM's done stuff like this before. Think back to the last Arya scene in A Game of Thrones or Brienne scene, didn't get resolved until the next book as well.

  7. Very different stuff, in my opinion.

    Both Arya from A Game of Thrones and Brienne aren't much important characters.
    Not as Jon, anyway.

    Plus, knowing that it's nearly impossible that he's dead (really dead, a là Ned Stark, I mean), I see this scene as a lame attempt to compel an emotional reaction from the reader.

    And least but not last, now there are 5 years of waiting for the next book, and we all know it :D.

  8. Perhaps we should wait with the inevitable Jon's-death-discussion until the chapter comes up for reread :)

  9. Oh no, I do not agree Arya is not important. I think we're going to be seeing a lot more of her, and she's going to be doing more than just Needling people.

  10. I actually enjoyed the ambiance of this chapter, and I do like history, so I didn't find the action needlessly slow. Tyrion continues to be haunted by his memories, so he hides behind his rage and hatred. Still, at times I find myself frowning at him. His life was rough, but he was still an over privileged aristocrat. I imagine it can't make up for betrayal, though.