[Spoilers Extended] A Tragedy of Three Knights

Spread the love

The Winds of Winter has many hanging plot threads, many of which are hard to guess upon. But one that has so much potential yet so few predictions is that of the Stoneheart plot, which is tied to Brienne’s story, Jaime’s story, the Brotherhood’s story, the Freys of Riverrun and the Twins, the Westerlands and the Riverlands. There is so much going on in this small area of land, it is hard to pinpoint what exactly will go down. So many characters affect each other through so many ways that it’s difficult to say what could happen with all of them. Today, we’ll just focus on three, however, and one single event. Let’s talk Lady Brienne, Ser Jaime, and Ser Hyle Hunt.

Firstly, a reminder of where these characters are currently in the story. Lady Stoneheart has captured Brienne of Tarth, Podrick Payne, and Hyle Hunt. On threat of the latter two’s death, Lady Stoneheart sends Brienne to find Jaime and bring him to her. As of Jaime I, ADWD, Brienne has found Jaime and told him that the Hound has Sansa and they must go find them. It seems pretty obvious that Brienne is luring Jaime into a trap.

“The girl. Have you found her?”

“I have,” said Brienne, Maid of Tarth.

“Where is she?”

“A day’s ride. I can take you to her, ser … but you will need to come alone. Elsewise, the Hound will kill her.”

Now, there can be a debate whether Brienne would tell Jaime about what lies ahead. I could see that she would tell him and they would prepare on the journey there, but I could also see her lying to protect Podrick and Hyle Hunt. Nonetheless, I believe that Jaime Lannister would be suspicious and cautious going forward. Of course, when they get to Stoneheart there will be some arguments between all of the characters and some great dialogue, but that would be enough material to cover another day. Let’s get to the Trial of Jaime Lannister. As common with followers of the Seven and with the Lannister kids themselves, Jaime’s trump card would be pinning everything on a trial by combat. I consider it highly likely that Thoros of Myr would agree to do a trial by combat, for it is the judgement of the Brotherhood, and Stoneheart may have no choice but to go along with it, perhaps hoping to finally see divine justice visited upon the Lannisters.

But Lady Stoneheart isn’t going to let this slide so easily. She has Jaime Lannister in her grasp. His betrayal is staring her in the face. So she will want a champion she knows will win, and she remembers Brienne and her oath. Lady Stoneheart could name Brienne her champion, to either kill Jaime or to punish Brienne for her betrayal to Lady Catelyn Stark.

“She asked the name of this blade of yours,” said the young northman in the sheepskin jerkin.

“Oathkeeper,” Brienne answered.

The woman in grey hissed through her fingers. Her eyes were two red pits burning in the shadows. She spoke again.

“No, she says. Call it Oathbreaker, she says. It was made for treachery and murder. She names it False Friend. Like you.”

“To whom have I been false?”

“To her,” the northman said. “Can it be that my lady has forgotten that you once swore her your service?”

And now…we can finally talk about the star of this show, Ser Hyle Hunt. Ser Hyle is (or rather was) in service to Lord Randyll Tarly, and was captain of the gate. He leaves Lord Randyll Tarly partially because he’s done with the lord, but most likely to be with Brienne and try to woo her. Say what you will of Hyle Hunt, but there are two things true of him: He is an asshole and he cares for Brienne to some degree. He is very suggestive of taking her hand in marriage or even coming to her bed at night to prove himself.

“Leave your chamber door unbarred tonight, and I will steal into your bed and prove the truth of what I say.”

“If you do, you’ll be a eunuch when you leave.” Brienne got up and walked away from him.”

An interesting fact is that when Brienne tells him no, he listens, and respects that she doesn’t want him to do that. So clearly he respects her. To some extent anyway, as it is left ambiguous if he just wants her for her lands. He even mentions that as a possible way to prove he is worthy for her.

“What I want to win is you, Lord Selwyn’s only living child. I’ve known men to wed lackwits and suckling babes for prizes a tenth the size of Tarth. I am not Renly Baratheon, I confess it, but I have the virtue of being still amongst the living. Some would say that is my only virtue. Marriage would serve the both of us. Lands for me, and a castle full of these for you.” He waved his hand at the children. “I am capable, I assure you. I’ve sired at least one bastard that I know of. Have no fear, I shan’t inflict her upon you. The last time I went to see her, her mother doused me with a kettle of soup.”

Now, I am showing a lot of the lighter side to this character, but this is asoiaf and there must be a balance. Hyle Hunt is no perfect example of a consort. Far from it. When we first hear of him, it is of Brienne describing the game he made up to try and get her engaged to a knight.

They had a wager.

Three of the younger knights had started it, he told her: Ambrose, Bushy, and Hyle Hunt, of his own household. As word spread through the camp, however, others had joined the game. Each man was required to buy into the contest with a golden dragon, the whole sum to go to whoever claimed her maidenhead.”

Not the nicest of guys, but it seems like he is getting better. If only a little bit. It did impact Brienne greatly though, as it should. So of course she forbade his advances as she rightly should. Hyle Hunt is persistent though, as shown by the other quotes above.

Knowing Ser Hyle Hunt to be a persistent and clever man, I think it could be likely that if Lady Stoneheart names Lady Brienne of Tarth her champion, he would offer to fight for the Maid of Tarth. And should he fight Ser Jaime Lannister, I believe that he would lose, and die saying something either heartfelt to Brienne or a few harsh words toward Jaime.

First off, I believe there are a few reasons why I think Hyle would try and fight Jaime Lannister and ultimately lose. One being that he could do it to prove to Brienne that he does care for her and wants to show off his prowess. Something she may have seen in their fight with Rorge, but Brienne was a little busy then. Another reason is that when Jaime and Brienne return and have interactions with Stoneheart, Hyle could see their relationship through how they speak and act and assume the worst. The worse part of Hyle could appear here as he challenges Jaime to a duel. Not over Jaime’s freedom, but over Brienne’s hand and to spite Jaime Lannister.

Hyle seems to be a good fighter as well, holding his own in the fight against Rorge and Biter, although we don’t get details of his own prowess. Like Bronn, he has a wit and a large amount of self-confidence.

So we know that Hyle could feel some length of jealousy towards Jaime Lannister, and he’s not the sort of person to give up on asking for a certain woman’s hand in marriage. As stated above, he asks numerous times in many different ways. We also know about his fighting style and how observant he is, even going so far as to challenge Jaime Lannister now that he lost his swordhand. So how would he lose to Jaime? How would Ser Hyle Hunt fall after making such a big claim and showing some prowess in the fight against Rorge and Biter?

Well, we have quite a few things in play here. The first being that no one knows that Jaime has been training his left hand with Ser Ilyn Payne in secret. It’s possible that Jaime has learned quite a bit, and we could have some narrative payoff to his training in a fight like this. But that’s not to say Jaime is back to his old self. Far from it, he is likely at the very least Balon Swann level of sword fighting. But that alone doesn’t put him even against Hyle Hunt. No, Hyle Hunt has his own issues he may overlook or overestimate.

“Hyle Hunt had been beaten so badly that his face was swollen almost beyond recognition. He stumbled as they shoved him, and almost fell. Podrick caught him by the arm. “Ser,” the boy said miserably, when he saw Brienne. “My lady, I mean. Sorry.”

A shown above, Hyle has been beaten almost beyond recognition. By now he could have healed somewhat, but who knows how that could alter his sight, hearing or thinking capacity. He could still be weary, having not practiced himself for sometime. Stoneheart is like to have kept him chained up waiting for Brienne’s return. He would be out of form and exhausted, and we all know how George plays with the realism of his world. That, combined with the likelihood of his challenge being out of spite, could lower his chances against Jaime immensely. Being physically and emotionally exhausted after many beatings and waiting for Brienne to bring back the man she actually loves could take a huge toll on him in such a fight. So I believe he would lose and end up dead in the mud or dying slowly, a parallel to when Petyr Baelish was almost killed by Brandon Stark fighting for the woman he “loved.”

But why would Lady Stoneheart let Hyle Hunt fight in place of Brienne? Let’s get the obvious one out of the way and point out that no one knows that Jaime got his sword skill level back to C+, and his win would come as a shock to all. Much like how Sandor’s win against Beric shocked Arya Stark, Jaime’s win would shock undead Catelyn. But there is more to it. Some of the Brotherhood may see the romance in Hyle fighting in Brienne’s name, and support the decision. This I find to be less likely, but it could back up the choice. Lady Stoneheart may also let Hyle go because she doesn’t necessarily care who kills Jaime and just wants it done. She may think that since Brienne cares for Jaime, Brienne might spare him.

Lady Stoneheart could even recognize Hyle Hunt’s spitefulness in his offer and assume he would win. He worked for Randyll Tarly after all, and Tarly’s one near-likeable quality is that he was a good battle commander. She may assume Hyle to be a talented fighter, or good enough to beat Jaime.

So we have analyzed Hyle Hunt and his motivations, the likely outcome, and reasons for Lady Stoneheart to go along with it. But there is a reason I call this “A Tragedy of Three Knights.” It would be very thematic and suitable for the story as a whole. The title, of course, relates to Lady Brienne, Ser Jaime, Ser Hyle, and to their respective arcs of knighthood. I believe that this chapter would be from Brienne’s perspective, to make it ambiguous as to Hyle’s true nature and to partially romanticize the moment while still delving deep into that realism George R R Martin loves. After all, he doesn’t just play into the gritty side of things. He has a hand in both worlds. And the other two characters would resemble a different side of it.

Jaime Lannister would see the romantic side, the side of the man fighting for the woman he loves. He may even be thankful to Hyle for offering himself up in Brienne’s place. I highly doubt Jaime would want to kill Brienne, and it’s very likely Jaime’s story doesn’t end here. No, he would gladly defeat Hyle here if it means he is safe and Brienne is safe. Saving Podrick is good, too, but we don’t quite know Jaime’s feelings for him.

Hyle Hunt, however, would remain spiteful much like Petyr Baelish was. He would resemble that gritty realism that doing things like this out of spite and jealousy would come back to bite him. I would argue that we’ve seen Hyle Hunt as his best intentions in his travels with Brienne. Asshole that he was, he never forced himself on her or went too far. And we know George R R Martin loves to show us both sides to every character, and last time Hyle Hunt was at his worst was in the backstory. I believe that in this moment, in a spout of emotional weight, he would fall into the worst that he could be, waiting for Brienne for who knows how long, only to realize she would never be with him. Instead it would be this man, who not only broke his oaths, but could not even fight or protect his woman. Part of Hyle would believe his knightly virtues would beg him to fight for her as any knight would. And what would be more knightly than two fully grown men fighting in the mud over their freedom and for a woman that they love?

TL;DR – I believe that Jaime will demand a trial by combat, and when he does, Lady Stoneheart will nominate Brienne of Tarth, but Hyle Hunt takes her place as champion out of spite for Jaime and Brienne’s relationship. Hyle Hunt battles Jaime but loses due to his exhausted state and Jaime’s new training, and dies there in the mud. A battle for many’s freedom and for the love of a woman, further embellishing into the themes of knighthood each of the three characters entail.

submitted by /u/M_J_Crakehall
[link] [comments]