A Storm of Swords

by: George R. R. Martin

Chapters 32-36

The need for revenge appears again in Tyrion’s chapter when Oberyn Martell demands retribution against Gregor Clegane for his crimes against the Martell family. A number of years earlier, Gregor murdered Oberyn’s sister, Elia, and her children in a particularly vicious manner. Oberyn and indeed all of the Martells have never been able to get revenge against Gregor, but neither have they ever forgotten his crimes against their family. Oberyn in his meeting with Tyrion makes it clear that he still intends to get his revenge on Gregor, but he also wants revenge against the person who gave Gregor the order to kill his sister and her children. He intimates that this person was Tywin Lannister. At this stage it isn’t entirely clear how Oberyn’s desire for revenge will play out, but as is evidenced by the fact that he and the Martell have harbored their grudge for several years, that desire is will not soon fade.

Jaime’s revelation regarding why he actually killed Aerys ties into the theme of honor in the novel and also causes Brienne, and perhaps the reader, to reevaluate his character. Jaime is widely renowned as a dishonorable person for killing King Aerys since he was part of Aerys’s kingsguard when he killed him. It was Jaime’s sworn duty to protect the king and it was considered an honor for him to have been named to the guard at so young an age. Even though Aerys was widely unpopular, his murder besmirched Jaime’s name and honor permanently, and he became known as the Kingslayer. Brienne looks down on Jaime for this reason, but Jaime may have in fact done what was best in killing Aerys. As we’ve learned in the past, Aerys was a brutal and sadistic king who would roast his enemies alive, earning the nickname the Mad King. Here, Jaime reveals that Aerys was also stockpiling a volatile incendiary weapon called wildfire, which was the cause of the widespread destruction in the final battle of the previous novel. If Aerys’s enemies seemed likely to take the city, he meant to detonate the wildfire and reduce the city, and its inhabitants, to ashes. Moreover, he wanted Jaime to prove he was no traitor by bringing Aerys the head of his father, Tywin. In this light, Jaime’s decision to kill Aerys was at least understandable and not as dishonorable as it has been made to sound.

Robb and Catelyn continue to deal with the fallout from Robb's decision to marry Jeyne Westerling instead of a daughter of Walder Frey. Without being able to rely on the support of the Karstarks or Freys, Robb’s cause is in jeopardy—so much so that Catelyn evens poses the possibility of Robb surrendering to the Lannisters. Robb refuses, but he knows he has already lost if he can’t regain the backing of the Freys. To accomplish this feat, he first has to make it clear that his decision to wed Jeyne Westerling was not meant as a slight on the honor of the Frey family, which he’s attempted to do by suggesting the decision was a result of his youth and impulsiveness. In other words, he’s tried to take the dishonor of the situation upon himself. But more importantly, he now needs to provide the Freys with another marriage, which is where Edmure Tully comes in. The Freys offer Roslin Frey, who is just sixteen years old, to Edmure for marriage, and Edmure is initially outraged. He has never met the girl and has no interest in marrying her. But the strategic importance of the union is so great that finally he accepts. The whole episode again shows the importance of honor and family alliances in the novel.