A Game of Thrones

by: George R.R. Martin

Chapters 45-49

Summary Chapters 45-49

Littlefinger proves himself to be extremely shrewd but also morally corrupt, and in many ways he is the opposite of Ned. When he tells Ned it is only treason if they lose, for interest, he makes it clear that laws have no intrinsic value to him. For Ned, laws are something greater than himself and take priority over his personal feelings, but they only concern Littlefinger when they get in his way or give him an advantage. Self-interest, in other words, is the force that motivates all of Littlefinger's actions, and he has a talent for quickly working out the most advantageous position for himself in any situation. In the plan he suggests to Ned, in which Ned avoids war by naming Joff the heir, Littlefinger would maintain his powerful position as Master of Coin. In Ned’s plan, in which they name Stannis the heir and deal with the fallout, good and bad, Littlefinger earns only Ned’s scorn for suggesting that Ned avoid conflict by betraying his honor and the memory of Robert. When he recognizes that Ned feels determined to proceed with his plan, Littlefinger quickly devises a means of making sure his plan of naming Joff heir succeeds. He lies to Ned, and ultimately he uses Ned's trust against him.

With the death of Viserys, Daenerys reaches a critical milestone in her character transition. The chapter begins as she is completing a Dothraki ritual and ends as she allows Viserys, the source of everything she knows about Westeros, to die. In the moments before Drogo kills Viserys, Daenerys’ emotions follow the same pattern as her character transition thus far. She feels dread when Viserys enters the room, anxiety as she pleads with him, disdain as he threatens her, and finally, pity as she realizes what is about to happen. In other words, she has gone from a frightened, submissive child to a powerful, dominant woman. After Viserys threatens her for what turns out to be the last time, the narrator switches form referring to Viserys as “her brother” to “this man who had once been her brother,” indicating that she no longer feels any ties to him. In essence she chooses her husband and the Dothraki over her brother, and it seems her assimilation into the Dothraki culture is complete.

On the Wall, Jon gets a hard lesson in fairness. To his great disappointment, Jon learns he is to be made a steward to Lord Commander Mormont, and he is furious at what he perceives as the injustice of the move. Because he is a highly skilled fighter, better than any of the other new recruits by far, he believes he should be a ranger as his uncle Benjen is, and he thinks his placement among the stewards is Thorne's way of getting back at him for his disobedience. But Sam points out that Jon is likely being made Mormont's steward because he is being groomed to be a leader, causing Jon to look at his own behavior in a new light. He realizes the position is actually an honor, and he admits that he was acting childish. The lesson recalls the earlier episode in which Jon was informed that the other recruits he felt so superior didn't grow up with any of the privileges Jon enjoyed. In that instance as here, Jon felt he was being treated unfairly, but in reality his own sense of entitlement blinded him. He remembers the saying that, on the Wall, a man only gets what he earns, and because of Sam he realizes that his new role as Mormont's steward is exactly what he has earned: his ability to lead his friends in training has won him a position that will train him to lead all the men of the Night's Watch.