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Sandor wanders the countryside, hoping that someone will offer a ransom for Arya. They find a wounded archer and offer a mercy killing. Arya begs Sandor to return to the Twins to see whether any Starks survived the massacre, but Sandor refuses. They arrive in a village and remain for two weeks. At first Sandor decides they should stay permanently, but then the villagers recognize Sandor and implore him to leave. Arya suggests going to the Wall to see Jon, but Sandor rejects the idea.
Tyrion faces trial for Joffrey’s murder, but he cannot find a single witness for his defense. Knowing himself to be innocent, Tyrion thinks Sansa must have plotted the poisoning. Tyrion hopes for a trial by combat, but he learns that Cersei has picked the enormous Gregor Clegane as the prosecution’s champion. After a disheartening conversation with the sellsword Bronn, Tyrion believes that a trial by combat will be impossible, since the odds are bad and he can offer no reward. In court, Tyrion pleads innocent. After a parade of witnesses for the prosecution, Tyrion starts to lose hope. He consults his uncle, Ser Kevan, who suggests pleading guilty and perhaps joining the Night’s Watch. Finally, Prince Oberyn Martell visits Tyrion and says he believes Tyrion is innocent. Tyrion reveals that Gregor raped and killed Oberyn’s sister Elia, and that he will be the champion to be faced in a trial by combat. Oberyn in turn offers to become Tyrion’s champion.
Jaime takes office as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard in the White Sword Tower and examines the tome containing the Kingsguard’s history, known as the White Book. Looking over the deeds of his forebears, Jaime feels despondent and alienated. He holds a meeting with members of the Kingsguard and discusses their various roles and relationships. He has a fierce conversation with Ser Loras. Loras believes that Brienne killed Renly, and Jaime insinuates that Loras had a role in Joffrey’s murder. Loras finally shows doubt about Brienne’s guilt. When he leaves, Jaime ponders having a prosthetic hand made of gold.
Sansa is surprised to learn her destination is Petyr’s meager estate. Here Petyr reveals that he will marry Sansa’s aunt, Lady Lysa, whom Sansa has never met. Because Sansa is now a wanted woman, Petyr renames her Alayne. Going forward, Sansa must pretend to be Petyr’s bastard daughter. They eat, and Petyr explains how he arranged Joffrey’s poisoning. Days later, Lysa arrives, and she insists on marrying Petyr immediately. As they consummate their marriage, a minstrel named Marillion tries to seduce Sansa, but a knight named Ser Lothor Brune intervenes. The next morning, Lysa reveals that she now knows Sansa’s identity. Lysa then offers her sickly young son, Robert, to be Sansa’s husband once Tyrion has been executed for Joffrey’s murder. Under pressure, Sansa accepts the proposal.
Tyrion’s trial shows how elusive justice can be in Westeros politics, until finally Tyrion cleverly decides to use Oberyn Martell’s need for revenge in his favor. Though Tyrion knows he is innocent, he also knows he is unpopular and that Cersei would go to great lengths to dispose of him as a threat. At the trial, there are numerous witnesses against him, while he hasn’t managed to find a single witness in his favor. While Tyrion never hid his dislike for Joffrey, making it seem possible that he would have Joffrey killed, his inability to find support has more to do with the fact that people fear Cersei and the power she wields. Tyrion, by comparison, has little to offer those who help him, and his ability to punish those who testify against him is limited. Once Tyrion realizes he won’t get a favorable outcome from his trial, he takes a different tack. The need for revenge has been a prominent theme in the novel, and here Tyrion leverages Oberyn Martell’s need for revenge to get Martell to serve as his champion in a trial by combat. That’s because Martell wants vengeance against Gregor Clegane for murdering Martell’s sister and her children, and Tyrion learns that it is Gregor who will be the other champion in a trial by combat. By enlisting Martell as his champion, Tyrion has at least a chance to escape punishment, and Martell gets what he wants most: a chance to kill Gregor Clegane.
As Jaime examines the White Book containing the history of the Kingsguard, it puts his own reputation and notoriety into perspective. Among the major themes in the book is the importance of honor, and Jaime is one of the most notoriously dishonorable characters in the series. He gained the reputation when he killed King Aerys, despite Jaime being a member of the Kingsguard sworn to protect the king. Consequently, Jaime is known as an oathbreaker and he’s pejoratively referred to as Kingslayer routinely in the series. When Jaime reads the history Ser Barristan Selmy wrote of him in the White Book, he feels displeased, and though it isn’t elaborated on just yet, it seems to stir something in him. When he meets immediately after with some other members of the Kingsguard, he wishes they were better men, more like the prominent knights when he was growing up, and he is brusque and strict with them. The scene suggests that Jaime craves a return to honor, and that perhaps he will begin to seek it out in a way he hasn’t for most of his life.
Jaime’s conversation with Ser Loras Tyrell draws a noteworthy parallel between Jaime and Brienne. Brienne was part of Renly Baratheon’s version of the Kingsguard, called the Rainbow Guard, and Renly was killed with Brienne standing right next to him. At worst, some people think Brienne was involved in the murder, and at best, they believe she failed in her duty to protect her king. Though not an exact parallel with Jaime’s past with King Aerys, it is close enough that it brings Jaime’s own crime to his mind. When Ser Loras says she either killed Renly or let him die, Jaime says it’s a large difference, but to himself he think it’s the difference between his own crime and that of Ser Boros, who once let Tommen be taken by some of Tyrion’s hired swords. The similarity Jaime notices perhaps also explains why Jaime feels such a kinship with Brienne, despite the two being so different. He sees in her various aspects of himself.
Sansa has escaped one form of captivity only to find herself caught in another in this section. Sansa was a hostage of the Lannisters for quite a long time, and while she was being held she often thought of escaping, even going so far as to entertain the idea seriously when Ser Dontos raised it. With Petyr Baelish’s help she did escape, but now she finds herself imprisoned at the Eyrie in a different way. First, she must pretend to be someone else. Because the Lannisters will be looking for Sansa, not least of all because she’s suspected of Joffrey’s murder, she has to pretend to be Baelish’s bastard daughter, Alayne. As a result, she’s not able to leave the Eyrie, and once Lysa discovers Sansa’s true identity, she essentially forces Sansa to accept Robert as her next husband once Tyrion has been executed for Joffrey’s murder (Lysa seems to have no doubt this will happen). It seems, then, that Sansa will likely have to do things against her will at the Eyrie, too, where she is essentially trapped.