August 19, 2011


Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in HBOs Game of Thrones
Jaime is riding through the Blackwood valley. In the distance, Ravenwood castle can be seen, the seat of house Blackwood, currently under siege by house Bracken. Jaime observes how old the castle is, defying even the popular wisdom that round towers better deflect catapult missiles. The siege itself is small scale and seems to be content with starving out the Blackwoods. Jaime rides directly to Bracken's tent and enters it without announcing himself. Consequently, he finds Bracken fucking a wench. On observing Jaime, he hastily gets in his clothes, while the girl tries to taunt Jaime into taking her as well, but Jaime dismisses her and usheres her out.

When Bracken is fully clothed, he promises that Raventree will fall before the month is out, but Jaime replies that it will fall today and that he means to talk Blackwood into submission. Bracken wants that Jaime fulfills Tywin's promises, which extend over many Blackwood lands that should go over to Bracken. Jaime says that he will look that Bracken gets some of it, but certainly not everything, since he is a coward on the one hand for changing sides so easily and on the other hand hasn't delivered Blackwood yet, leaving him doing the deed. As he departs, Bracken suggests that he takes the only daughter of Blackwood as a hostage to King's Landing. Jaime gets into a small argument about honor and pardons, but Bracken only states that his king was dead and the cause lost and there was no reason to die for it any more.

When Jaime rides up before Blackwood castle, the drawbridge is lowered, and Tytos Blackwood meets him in the outer yard. He is obviously strained by the long siege. Blackwood states that he expected Jaime, that he isn't welcome, but that he is glad at the same time. Jaime is very courteous, allowing Blackwood to retire into his solar with him to discuss terms. While they walk, they talk about the giant, dead weirwood tree in the yard. Blackwood states that the Brackens poisoned it a thousand years ago, and that Weirwoods never rot but instead become stone. Blackwood asks about Edmure, and after Jaime tells him that he is captive at Casterly Rock, Blackwood states that this is a bad fate, between the lines hinting that he thinks Edmure a coward. Jaime thinks otherwise, but he doesn't tell him about the threat of killing his child and wife.

They then enter negotiations. Blackwood easily accepts paying a sum of gold to King's Landing as ammends for the rebellion, as well as giving up a hostage. Jaime graciously skips Blackwood's bending the knee, and upon demanding his daughter, lets himself be convinced easily to take the second oldest son instead, a bookish boy named Hoster. When it comes to the land that he would have to give over to Bracken, Jaime makes reasonable demands and lets him escape with minor losses. Finally, Blackwood advises Jaime to take a hostage from Bracken too. After that, he leaves together with Hoster, who friendly approaches him. Jaime turns him down, telling him that he's not his friend. When Bracken gloats about the end of the siege, Jaime tells him that he expects one of his daughters in King's Landing before the year is out and leaving the valley instantly for a village called Pennytree he knows from the negotiations.

On the way, he lets Hoster explain a bit about the enmities between the two houses. They go back to the days of the Andals, apparantly, but no one really knows why. When Jaime asks why they haven't made peace yet, Hoster tells him that there were hundreds of peaces, but they lasted only years and decades before the wounds of old would break up again. Jaime suggests to simply exterminate the enemy like Tywin did. In the evening, they make their camp at Pennytree. The inhabitants are hiding in the castle, fearing any armed men, but Jaime is content with tents and forbids everyone to plunder. He muses about the hearttree in the middle of the village, which has hundreds of nails in it, but decides not to ask Hoster about it so not to spill the mystery. Soon after, the guards tell him that a woman wants to see him, Brienne of Tarth. She is brought before him, telling him that she found Sansa, and that he has to come alone, or else the Hound will kill her.

After the cliffhanger from this chapter, it might be possible that this is the last Jaime chapter. One does not hope so, but the ending would be strangely fitting for a character like Jaime, who was presented as one of the top tier villains from the beginning. To die at the hands of some outlaws in the woods without anyone noticing would be strangely fitting. It is not very likely, however, that he really dies here. I can't really make arguments for this, but it is a gut feeling that Jaime is not yet over. We are not done with him, and Martin isn't, too.

That being sad it is really interesting how we see Jaime in this chapter. He is introduced as a sound strategist and reasonable diplomat. He learned more from his father than it originally seemed, and had he a saying in King's Landing, many bad things could have been avoided. He doesn't, however, and so his talent is wasted among the soldiers he grew up around solving minor problems. Jaime is more or less exiled. Situations like Bracken's and Blackwood's could have been solved by near anyone, they don't require him. But here he is, solving them.

It is strange what courtesy and benign neglect he brings to Tytos Blackwood, skipping the kneeling and allowing him much and more of his honor and sparing any humiliation, in turn rather humiliating his own ally of Bracken. This stems from a crooked perspective of honor that is common to all warrior lords, from Eddard Stark over his son Robb to Robert to Jaime. The lord who keeps on fighting and remains loyal even in the face of defeat is cherished more than the prudent lord who saves his people by giving up a lost cause. There must have been many deaths in Blackwood, and for absolutely naught, which was clear from the beginning, but people like Jaime nonetheless admire Tytos and despise Jonos, just because one of them keeps on fighting beyond reason. Even today, such a mentality can oftentimes be observed, and it has served people to motivate their soldiers to fight and die well beyond the point of a reasonable chance of victoriy. This sentiment seems to be burned deep in the human psyche for some reason.

At least, despite giving us another bad cliffhanger, we know which word Brienne shouted. It had to be something along the lines of "sword", since she has Oathkeeper again, and she obviously tries to lure Jaime in Lady Stonehearts hands. The question is what she will decide to do in the end, being helplessly caught in oaths to left and right, and whether it will save Jaime. Fighting his way out of the outlaws' hands is out of the question, in any case.

Just another bit: Between all the information that Jaime learns from little Hoster about the ongoing struggle between Blackwood and Bracken and Missy's tits, there is one thing that strikes the eye: Brynden Rivers, our beloved greenseer with arboreal accessoires, was actually the bastard child of Aegon with some Blackwood woman. Hence, he must have been raised in Raventree. Hence, he shared their belief in the old gods. Hence, the connection to the weirwoods later. Since his bowmen, the "Raven's Teeth", reportedly used weirwood arrows, he seems to have had some connection to the old mysteries when he was still around and kicking in his "first life". This gets really interesting, and I hope we will get additional information soon. 


  1. Throughout this chapter jaime demonstrates how much he has grown in terms of tactics, both martial and diplomatic. At this point I doubt whether Robb's type of feint could have work on Jaime in his present state. That gold hand must be a constant reminder to forebear.
    As far as the strange sense of honor or worldviews that animates so many of these quasi-medieval lords, it reminds of some of the bat-shit motivations going on in my crazy country (america) right now. There is a Republican governor from Texas who has just started running for president, Rick Perry. Perry executed a convicted arsonist a few years back despite last minute appeals (kinds of common) and strong doubts about the conviction provided by scientific experts (unusual). When one of Perry's opponents had a poll research if the possibility of executing an innocent man made Perry more vulnerable politically, the pollsters overwhelmingly found Republicans voters to hold some variation of this sentiment:"It takes balls to execute an innocent man." The polling group advised Perry's opponents that the controversy would actually help elect him.
    plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose....

  2. OK, that is just sick. But yeah, such sentiments hover over such things. Just look at Great Britain. "Yeah, it might be the method of a lawless dicatorship to make examples out of courtroom decisions and throw away the liberal foundations of a law state, but hey, hit the looters baby!"

  3. @Aine Dire Lobo, Rick perry might be a moron, but I fail to see the point you just made. I myself am a Texan, and I'd like to see this poll you're referencing because although Texas is a state that executes (and I'm fine with that, thanks), there isn't anyone I know nor any overwhelming sentiment that pervades our atmosphere that says executing an innocent man is cool. The fact that you're trying to draw some kind of parallel in that to Rick perry is puzzeling to me, as it isn't even close to the same thing!

    As to the stupidity of clinging to an ideal beyond the point of sense, it is normally universally admired because the person doing so can be seen to HAVE higher ideals AND is trying to back them up 100%. It might be foolish, but I don't see Tywin Lannister being congratulated for the Red Wedding, because Tywin Lannister has no bright ideals and sold his soul long ago.

  4. If its a choice between saving Podrick Payne or Jaime Lannister, I hope Brienne goes with Podrick. Despite all he's suffered as a child, Podrick's been noble, courageous, courteous and knightly in ways Jaime never was. Pod is worth saving.

    Sadly, I suspect Jaime will survive to strangle Cersei left handed (he was born second).

  5. Stefan, your re-read of this book has been terrific and enlightening. Thank you!

    I have some thoughts about Brienne in this chapter. You said that Brienne's appearance indicated the word she said was something like "sword." My gut reaction in Feast was that she did actually die for Jaime, and that her word was "noose" or perhaps even "Jaime." After watching Pod dying, the last two lines of her final chapter in Feast are: "Nothing had ever hurt so much. She screamed a word." I think most people interpreted that to mean she shouted "sword," because betraying Jaime is what hurt so much. But I think it's just as likely that letting Pod and Hyle die along with her is what hurt so much.

    But so then how does she appear before Jaime now? My theory begins with Cat and her resurrection as Lady Stoneheart: I know that resurrected Cat would have every reason to be brutal and vengeful (she would think all her children are dead), but the glimpses we've gotten of Lady Stoneheart make me think there's a chance she's not truly herself anymore. GRRM has already established one version of necromancy (the Others/wights) where the re-animated corpses retain zero semblance of their previous living personalities, so it seems possible that Lady Stoneheart may only be a vicious shell of Cat. Perhaps Lady Stoneheart still has all of Cat's memories, but little of her living personality or character? If so, it seems possible to me that Brienne was actually hanged by Cat/Stoneheart and then resurrected, and now her re-animated "shell" is being manipulated in some way to lure Jaime back to Stoneheart.

    I don't have any real evidence to support this theory, nor am I truly convinced I'm actually right, but it at least seems like a possibility worth considering. I can't really see Brienne outright betraying Jaime (even when forced to choose between Pod/Hyle/Sansa and Jaime), so would be an explanation of how she could still show up in Jaime's camp without (intentionally) betraying him. I think it's also worth noting that GRRM gives almost no description of Brienne or her interaction with Jaime in Dance with Dragons, leaving her current state completely up in the air. Based on the previous descriptions of resurrection, you retain the scars from how you died, but being hanged would only leave a bruise around her neck at most.

  6. Hanging would leave some rope burns too, but Jaime wouldn't necessarily see those.

    I like your theory, but somehow I don't see Brienne letting Pod die when Jaime could, as a grown man and Lannister, theoretically speak for himself and take care of himself as Pod could not. Plus, Pod's death was happening right there and then. It would be easy to choose him over Jaime just at that moment. If they all lived, Brienne still had a chance to fix it so they all, Jaime included, could live longer too.

  7. @Knecht: I prefer simple solutions, and there is an obvious one: Brienne cried "sword", the execution was stopped and she was charged to bring Jaime, or else they kill Podrick. Knowing Brienne, that would work perfectly.

  8. The siege reminds me of Stannis, actually, and his stubbornness. I mean, Bracken's 'prudence' also has him cheating on his wife. Somehow I don't think we're supposed to admire the guy...