Tower of the Hand

Book 1, Chapter 14.
En route to the Wall, Tyrion convinces Jon that life in the Night's Watch will be difficult.
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Benjen Stark leaves for the Wall on the same day the King goes south. With him are Jon Snow and Ghost, Tyrion, and Tyrion's two serving men.1 On the way to the Wall, they meet up with another black brother, Yoren, who is bringing two rapers2 from the Fingers back to the Wall. At camp one night, Tyrion drinks an amber wine from the Summer Isles and reads a book about the history and properties of dragons, which have always fascinated him.

The first time Tyrion visited King's Landing for Cersei's wedding, he sought out the dragon skulls that had hung in the throne room. Robert had already replaced them with tapestries, but he managed to discover where they were stored and found them beautiful. There were nineteen in total, with the oldest large and impressive and the newer ones small and misshapen, including a matched pair with skulls no bigger than that of a mastiff that had belonged to the last two dragons born on Dragonstone, neither of which lived for very long. The three largest belonged to the dragons that Aegon I and his sisters3 rode in their conquest of Westeros, Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar.

None could stand before these dragons of legend, but King Loren of the Rock and King Mern IX of the Reach had tried close to three hundred years ago, when the Seven Kingdoms really were seven separate countries. They gathered five thousand knights and ten times as many other soldiers to face Aegon, who only had around a fifth of that number, mostly conscripts from the army of the last king he had slain.4 Aegon's army broke in the initial charge, but at that point, Aegon unleashed the dragons, the only time all three were deployed at once, and created what became known as the Field of Fire. Four thousand men perished, including King Mern, and both the Reach and the Westerlands were added to Aegon's domain, with King Loren swearing fealty.

Jon interrupts Tyrion's thoughts and asks the dwarf why he reads so much. Tyrion says that his mind is the only weapon he has, and he must keep it sharp, as he is a Lannister and is expected to do great things. Lord Tywin was Hand of the King to Aerys II for twenty years, Cersei married the new king, and Joffrey will be king in turn one day. Tyrion must do his part for the glory of his house as well, and therefore he must rely on his intellect. Jon wonders why he reads of dragons when they are all dead, and Tyrion replies that he used to dream of having a dragon of his own and started fires in the bowels of Casterly Rock that he would stare at for hours. Sometimes he would imagine that Tywin was burning in the fire; other times it was Cersei.

The talk turns to the Night's Watch, which Jon claims is a noble calling, and Tyrion breaks the truth to him that it is a midden heap filled with all the dregs of society. This upsets Jon and Tyrion moves to comfort him, but as he makes his move, Ghost leaps out of the shadows to tackle him. Jon helps Tyrion back up and realizes what Tyrion said about the Watch is true. Tyrion complements him for facing a hard truth rather than ignoring it and says he hardly ever dreams of dragons anymore. They return to camp, where the company has supper and goes to sleep, all save Jon who drew the first watch. As Tyrion turns in, he sees Jon staring intently into the fire.


Active Characters

  1. Yoren - He is stooped and sinister looking with a bushy dark black beard, a twisted shoulder, and hair that is greasy and full of lice.


  1. Dragons - The last dragons died about one hundred and fifty years ago, and they were small and misshapen things.


  1. Balerion - Balerion was known as the Black Dread and was big enough to swallow an aurochs whole. He was named after an ancient god.
  2. Meraxes - Meraxes was big enough to swallow a horse. He was named after an ancient god.
  3. Vhagar - Vhagar was big enough to swallow a horse. She was named after an ancient god.


  1. Dragonbone - Dragonbone is black due to a high iron content and strong as steel yet lighter and more flexible. It is also fireproof. Bows made of dragonbone can outrange those made of wood.


  1. The Red Keep - During the reign of the Targaryens, dragon skulls lined the walls of the throne room. They were removed by King Robert and replaced with tapestries.
  2. Wolfswood - A large wood north and west of Winterfell.


  1. The War of Conquest - The conquest of six of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros nearly three hundred years ago by Aegon Targaryen.5 He used three dragons, Balerion, Meraxes, and Vhagar, to conquer most of the continent. One of the last decisive battles was the Field of Fire, where Aegon met the combined armies of King Loren of the Rock and King Mern IX of the Reach with about a fifth of their fifty thousand men. It was the only battle where all three dragons were unleashed at once, and it ended with King Mern IX and four thousand men dead. Both kingdoms were added to Aegon's conquests.


Warning: Footnotes may contain spoilers from later chapters or books.


1.  Prologue 26.  Eddard V 51.  Arya IV
2.  Bran I 27.  Jon IV 52.  Sansa IV
3.  Catelyn I 28.  Eddard VI 53.  Jon VII
4.  Daenerys I 29.  Catelyn V 54.  Bran VI
5.  Eddard I 30.  Sansa II 55.  Daenerys VI
6.  Jon I 31.  Eddard VII 56.  Catelyn VIII
7.  Catelyn II 32.  Tyrion IV 57.  Tyrion VII
8.  Arya I 33.  Arya III 58.  Sansa V
9.  Bran II 34.  Eddard VIII 59.  Eddard XV
10.  Tyrion I 35.  Catelyn VI 60.  Catelyn IX
11.  Jon II 36.  Eddard IX 61.  Jon VIII
12.  Daenerys II 37.  Daenerys IV 62.  Daenerys VII
13.  Eddard II 38.  Bran V 63.  Tyrion VIII
14.  Tyrion II 39.  Tyrion V 64.  Catelyn X
15.  Catelyn III 40.  Eddard X 65.  Daenerys VIII
16.  Sansa I 41.  Catelyn VII 66.  Arya V
17.  Eddard III 42.  Jon V 67.  Bran VII
18.  Bran III 43.  Tyrion VI 68.  Sansa VI
19.  Catelyn IV 44.  Eddard XI 69.  Daenerys IX
20.  Jon III 45.  Sansa III 70.  Tyrion IX
21.  Eddard IV 46.  Eddard XII 71.  Jon IX
22.  Tyrion III 47.  Daenerys V 72.  Catelyn XI
23.  Arya II 48.  Eddard XIII 73.  Daenerys X
24.  Daenerys III 49.  Jon VI
25.  Bran IV 50.  Eddard XIV