Tower of the Hand

Book 1, Chapter 31.
Eddard dissuades the king from participating in the melee. Varys reveals that Cersei intended to have Robert murdered during the event in an "accident," and also confirms that Jon Arryn was poisoned by the knight who died the previous day.
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Ser Barristan and Eddard converse over the body of Ser Hugh as the silent sisters attend to the corpse. Eddard wonders if he was killed by the Lannisters before he could talk. Barristan says Hugh was Jon's squire for four years and desperately wanted a knighthood, but he was not ready. The two head to King Robert's tent, where he is preparing to fight in the melee. His two squires1 are trying to get him into his armor, but he is too fat. Eddard points this out, and Robert sends the squires looking for a breastplate stretcher. Eddard is troubled by the fact that the squires are both Lannisters. Ser Barristan tells Robert as a ploy to get him to stand down that if he fights, no one would dare strike him, and Robert throws a breastplate at him in fury and orders him out. He tells Eddard to stay and laments to him about how dead he feels. He only became king instead of Jon or Eddard because his claim was better.2 He married Cersei to tie Lord Tywin to him, but gets no joy from marriage. He would just leave for the Free Cities and work as a mercenary if he were not so worried about Joffrey taking the throne. He is hopeful that with Eddard at his side he can turn around his admittedly poor reign. He also mentions that Renly told him about Loras's sister and how beautiful she is.3 Robert's melancholy lifts at breakfast, and Eddard becomes confident that once he proves the Lannisters were behind Jon's death the king will crush them.

Eddard joins Sansa to watch the rest of the tournament as Sandor and Jaime take their places. Petyr and Renly make wagers on who will win. Sandor unseats Jaime on the second tilt, and Renly laments Tyrion's absence, for he would have won twice as much.4 As Gregor and Loras take their places for the second match, Eddard contemplates the Mountain That Rides. He is a solitary man who only leaves his lands for wars and tournaments. He will soon be married a third time, and both of his previous wives, as well as his sister and father, died under strange circumstances. The day he inherited his father's lands, Sandor left to take service with the Lannisters as a sworn sword and never returned. Rumor has it that it was Gregor who killed Rhaegar's infant son, Aegon, by dashing his head against a wall and that he raped and killed Elia afterward. He also fought in Greyjoy's Rebellion. Ser Loras unseats Gregor with the aid of a mare in heat that distracts Gregor's horse. Gregor is furious and calls for his sword, which his squire fetches.5 He kills his own horse before knocking Ser Loras from his saddle. Before he can land the killing blow, Sandor is there and stops him. They fight until Robert puts a stop to it. A shaken Loras cedes the final match to Sandor, who wins the champion's prize. Later, a boy from the Dornish Marches named Anguy wins the archery competition by defeating Ser Balon Swann and Jalabhar Xho in the final round. Finally, in a free-for-all melee of forty men, Thoros of Myr wins the last prize of the day. At the feast that night, Jory brings Arya down fresh from a training session with Syrio Forel and with bruises. Eddard worries that Syrio is pushing her too much. He has her do strange things like walk around blindfolded and catch cats. He asks her if she would like a new tutor, but she says no.

Back in his chambers, Eddard muses about Jon's death. He feels it has to be related to Bran's fall,6 and he wonders what is so significant about Gendry. Robert has many other bastards as well, including his first, a seventeen year old girl in the Vale,7 and one acknowledged bastard being raised at Storm's End.8 Harwin interrupts his musings to report that a man who will not identify himself is there to see him. The man ends up being Lord Varys, dressed up in such a way that he is unrecognizable. He had gotten past two other guards, Porther and Cayn, by using secret passages within the castle. He has come to ally himself with Eddard against the Lannisters for the good of the realm. He reveals that Cersei had planned to have Robert killed during the melee, but Eddard thwarted that. He did not come to Eddard before because he was not certain if he truly served the realm until that point. He says Cersei is afraid of Eddard and will undoubtedly try to kill Robert again. He reveals that both Ser Boros and Ser Meryn are her creatures and that the only protection that Eddard has is that he is virtually untouchable because of his friendship with Robert. He hopes that his spies and Eddard's power will be enough to forestall the Lannisters. Eddard asks Varys how Jon was killed, and Varys reveals it was with the Tears of Lys. When Eddard asks who did it, Varys replies that it must have been someone close to him, perhaps even Hugh.9 When Eddard asks why, Varys says it was because Jon was asking questions.


Active Characters

  1. Gregor Clegane - He stands nearly eight feet tall with massive shoulders and arms like the trunks of small trees. He was seventeen during Robert's Rebellion, making him about thirty-two now.
  2. Lancel Lannister - He is sandy-haired with a wisp of a mustache and emerald green eyes.
  3. Tyrek Lannister - He has long golden curls.


  1. Silent Sisters - The silent sisters keep their faces covered because it brings ill fortune to gaze upon the face of death.


Warning: Footnotes may contain spoilers from later chapters or books.
  • 1 - Tyrek and Lancel Lannister
  • 2 - House Baratheon is descended from Orys Baratheon, a reputed bastard brother of Aegon the Conqueror, and Robert's paternal grandmother was Princess Rhaelle Targaryen.
  • 3 - This footnote contains details from a later chapter (AGOT 33). Click to show.
  • 4 - This footnote contains details from a later chapter (AGOT 32). Click to show.
  • 5 - This footnote contains details from a later book (ACOK 31). Click to show.
  • 6 - This footnote contains details from a later book (ASOS 81). Click to show.
  • 7 - Mya Stone
  • 8 - Edric Storm
  • 9 - This footnote contains details from a later book (ASOS 81). Click to show.


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