|Although this article is based on canonical information, the actual name of this subject is pure conjecture.
- "I did not kill Joffrey, but I wish that I had! Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores! I wish I was the monster you think I am! I wish I had enough poison for the whole pack of you! I would gladly give my life to watch you all swallow it!"
- ―Tyrion Lannister.
The Court trial of Tyrion Lannister was a major turning point during the War of the Five Kings, in which Tyrion Lannister was tried for the assassination of King Joffrey Baratheon at his wedding feast.
It quickly becomes apparent that the spectacle is nothing more than a mere show trial. Tyrion observes that the presiding judge, his father, and his main accuser, Cersei, have wanted him dead for longer than anyone and that another of the judges, Mace Tyrell, will go along with whatever Tywin says.
All the witnesses against Tyrion are either his enemies or have otherwise been bribed or cajoled by his sister or father into testifying. Most give circumstantial, exaggerated, and sometimes outright false evidence, and Tyrion is not permitted to cross-examine them. It is also pretty apparent that Tyrion has no chance of acquittal.
Ultimately, Tyrion snaps at the injustice, insulting the entire court in the process. With his loyalty to his father (and to a lesser extent House Lannister) shattered, Tyrion decides to place his fate in the hands of the Seven, demanding a trial by combat, a decision that would have dire consequences.
- "He did this! He poisoned my son, your King! Take him! TAKE HIM! TAKE HIM! TAKE HIM!"
- ―Cersei Lannister, ordering the arrest of Tyrion immediately after Joffrey's death.
Although the southern kingdoms now had a chance at peace, one person that did not benefit from the ensuing Lannister prosperity, was Tywin's youngest son, Tyrion Lannister. Although he served as Acting Hand, during Tywins absence, and helped to prepare for the Siege of Kings Landing by Stannis Baratheon, following the Battle of the Blackwater, Tyrion received no appreciation or gratitude. On the contrary, he was stripped of all authority, with Cersei and Joffrey taking much of the credit for his schemes in stabilising the realms, whilst shifting the blame for any misgivings on Tyrion. Lord Tywin Lannister and the Tyrells claimed all the glory for saving Kings Landing, at the Blackwater, ignoring Tyrion's own accomplishments. Over the course of the next few months, Tyrion was forced into a loveless marriage with Sansa Stark, demoted to the rank of Master of Coin, and was constantly looked down upon by the citizens of Kings Landing whilst also being frequently chastised by Tywin, Joffrey and Cersei (all of whom hated Tyrion). As a result, the youngest Lannisters bitterness towards his family and the citizens of Kings Landing gradually festered.
With the War of the Five Kings now behind them and Lannister power its zenith, Tywin moved to strengthen the Lannister position and arranged the marriage of his grandson to the maiden of High Garden, Margaery Tyrell. The marriage had little to do with love and was part of Tywins desire to stabilise the realm following a chaotic war, as well as strengthen the Lannister position by establishing a powerful dynasty. Even so, the idea was not well received by Joffrey's mother, Cersei, who feared the level of influence Margaery and the other Tyrells might exert of Joffrey if given time. Unknown to most Margaery's grandmother, Olenna Tyrell was also concerned, but for very different reasons. Word had reached her about Joffrey's behaviour, and when she spoke to Sansa Stark about it in confidence, the Lady of the North confirmed Olenna's worst fears.
At the ceremony itself, an extravagant banquet was held for all the guests, followed by a mocking play re-enacting the War of the Five Kings, with dwarf actors culminating in Joffrey's victory. Tyrion was far from satisfied by this and after he verbally insults Joffrey, was is forced to serve as his nephew's cupbearer. Shortly after cutting the pie, Joffrey drank deeply from his goblet, then started choking. As he collapses, struggling to breathe, Joffrey's biological parents Jaime and Cersei rush to his side just as Joffrey's face starts turning purple. With his last ounce of strength, the Baratheon King raises his hand towards Tyrion (whether in accusation or repentance is unknown, though the former seems more likely), before expiring in his mother's arms.
Though there is not a shred of proof, an enraged and grieving Cersei immediately accuses Tyrion of murdering her son and orders him to be arrested, to which the Kingsguard promptly obliges. In the confusion, Sansa Stark is spirited away by Dontos Hollard and taken to the Vale. Joffrey is subsequently laid to rest in the Great Sept of Baelor, and his younger brother Tommen succeeds him as King.
Tyrion is subsequently charged with regicide, and confined to the dungeons awaiting trial. Cersei starts preparing a strong case against her brother, confident that he is guilty of the crime and determine to seek justice for her murdered son. When questioned by Jaime, Tyrion declares he is innocent, and though he admits he hated Joffrey, the boy was still his family and so Tyrion would have never actually harmed him.
What really happened
Unknown to the majority of the court, it was Olenna Tyrell who conspired with Petyr Baelish to have Joffrey murdered. Both secretly admitted it in confidence, Olenna to her granddaughter Margaery and Baelish to Sansa Stark. The motive for Olenna was to protect her beloved granddaughter from the beastly Joffrey's sadism, whereas Littlefinger wished to keep the great houses divided in order to take advantage of the ensuing chaos. As noted by Tyrion before his court trial, however, even if this detail was known, Cersei and Tywin had been looking for an excuse to get rid of him for a long time by that point anyway, so it wouldn't have made any real difference.
The court assembles, and Tyrion is brought forward in manacles. King Tommen recuses himself and appoints Hand of the King Tywin Lannister to oversee the trial in his place. The other presiding judges are Mace Tyrell and Oberyn Martell.
Tywin asks Tyrion to admit if he killed King Joffrey. Tyrion denies the charge, and also denies any knowledge of his wife Sansa's involvement. When asked for his opinion on the cause of Joffrey's death, he blames the pigeon pie.
One witness after another comes forward to give damning testimony, although all they manage to do is prove that Tyrion often disagreed and argued with Joffrey, while there is absolutely nothing in their testimonies to imply that Tyrion actually killed him. Some testimonies are even exaggerated and outright fabricated.
Ser Meryn Trant
Ser Meryn Trant recounts the occasion when Tyrion slapped Joffrey and called him a "vicious idiot" (after Joffrey caused a riot), and when he called Joffrey a "halfwit" and warned him about the fate of the Mad King, who also believed he could do whatever he wished, and even threatened to have Trant killed by Bronn when he spoke in Joffrey's defense. Trant, however, does not mention that at the time, he was beating and stripping Sansa in the throne room at Joffrey's behest. When Tyrion attempts to make this point, he is silenced by Tywin.
Grand Maester Pycelle claims Tyrion stole a large quantity of poisons from him after having him imprisoned, even though he has no witnesses to back his testimony. He confirms poisoning as the cause of Joffrey's death, specifically one known as "the strangler". He claims that Dontos Hollard's body was found with the necklace Sansa wore at the wedding, and that the necklace contained traces of the poison. He presents the necklace as evidence. Pycelle concludes that Tyrion and his wife conspired to "strike down the most noble child the Gods ever put on this good earth."
Cersei tells the court of Tyrion's threat to her: "I will hurt you for this. A day will come when you think you are safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth. And you will know the debt is paid." Oberyn Martell, clearly questioning the truth in Cersei's statement, asks her what debt Tyrion meant (an alternate way of asking Cersei how she hurt Tyrion in the first place), and Cersei responds that she discovered Tyrion was keeping whores in the Tower of the Hand and she asked him to stop, when in reality she spitefully had the Kingsguard beat up and imprison Ros, whom she believed to be Tyrion's lover.
She also speaks of Tyrion's plans to place Joffrey at risk near the fighting during the Battle of Blackwater, although she says Joffrey bravely insisted on being at the front to inspire his troops. In reality, Cersei ordered Joffrey to be removed from the front line, and the cowardly boy readily acquiesced, ironically leaving it to Tyrion himself to inspire the troops and defend the city against Stannis Baratheon.
Lord Varys recalls Tyrion's confrontation with Joffrey at the small council meeting about the deaths of Robb and Catelyn Stark, when he warned Joffrey to be wary around monsters because "just now kings are dying like flies." Varys suggests that Tyrion's marriage to Sansa may have made him more sympathetic to the North.
Tyrion is permitted to ask one question. He reminds Varys of their conversation after the Battle of Blackwater. Varys told him that he had saved the city, and though it would go unrecorded in the history books, he would not forget him. Tyrion asks Varys if he has indeed forgotten. Varys sighs that "Sadly, I never forget a thing."
At the recess, Jaime confronts Tywin, calling the trial a farce entirely manipulated by Cersei, and says that Tywin is about to condemn his own son to death. Tywin denies any involvement in manipulating the trial in Cersei's favour but is blasted by Jaime, who claims that even if Tyrion did kill Joffrey, he himself did the same to the Mad King, which ironically saved Tywin's life. Jaime therefore, brokers a deal with his father: if Tywin agrees to let Tyrion live, Jaime will renounce his Kingsguard vows, reclaim his place as Tywin's heir, take up his seat at Casterly Rock, marry a suitable wife, and have children, all to continue Tywin's legacy as Tywin had initially intended. Tywin immediately accepts and once again accepts Jaime as his son, but on the condition that Tyrion plead for mercy once 'proven' guilty, upon which Tywin will allow Tyrion to leave Kings Landing and join the Night's Watch.
Jaime speaks with Tyrion just before the trial resumes and informs him of their father's offer. Tyrion is understandably not convinced, reminding Jaime that Ned Stark was offered the same deal and was executed nevertheless, but Jaime promises that Tywin will not commit such a treasonous act like Joffrey did. He pleads with Tyrion just to stay calm and refrain from getting angry again in order for the deal to stand. As he leaves Tyrion does appear to consider this option.
Cersei's final witness comes forward. To Tyrion's horror, it is Shae. In front of the entire court, Shae lies that Tyrion and Sansa plotted together to murder Joffrey with poison stolen from Maester Pycelle. Tyrion complied because he was madly in love with Sansa, but she refused to let him consummate their marriage.
Once again, Oberyn debates the veracity of the testimony and questions as to why Tyrion would tell Shae such things if he really meant to kill Joffrey. After brief consideration, Shae reveals that she was Tyrion's personal whore, lying that Tyrion kidnapped her from a more handsome knight and forced her to become his sex slave, also giving intimate details on their relationship. All but heartbroken, Tyrion quietly asks Shae to stop, but she coldly responds, "I am a whore, remember?", repeating the same words he said to her while trying to get her to leave King's Landing (which was ironically for her own safety).
As Shae's testimony ends, the court appears utterly convinced that Tyrion is a bad character who is guilty of the crime he is accused of. Cersei shoots a savage smile at Tyrion, whilst Tywin looks on dismissively. Shae herself is humiliated and cannot bring herself to look at Tyrion.
Tyrion's OutburstWhat nobody realizes, however, is that they have just overstepped the mark. By getting Shae to testify, Cersei has set events in motion that would have disastrous consequences. At this point, Tyrion's grief has been replaced by seething, white-hot fury. He is incandescent with rage that his own family is trying to condemn him for a crime that he did not commit and that they were prepared to manipulate the woman he loves into testifying against him in such a humiliating manner. This, coupled with the lack of gratitude he received following the events at Blackwater Bay and the fact that the realm would betray him for a King that they all hated and despised, proves to be too much.
After enduring a lifetime of cruelty, abuse and verbal ridicule, Tyrion finally reaches his breaking point. Following Shae's testimony, an incensed Tyrion silences the court under the pretext of offering a confession. When Tywin tries to clarify this, however, Tyrion turns to face the witnesses and attendants. He reminds everybody present -- the Lords, Ladies, Maesters and other high-born citizens -- that it was he who saved them from Stannis Baratheon at the Battle of Blackwater Bay (not Tywin or the Tyrells, and certainly not Joffrey). He openly expresses his regret for saving such an ungrateful citizenry and growls venomously, "I should have let Stannis kill you all!" thus indicating the severance of his allegiance to House Lannister, whilst also further alienating himself from the court.
Tywin has to shout over the enraged audience in order to try and obtain Tyrion's confession. When the room falls silent again Tyrion is questioned, but instead of confessing denies any involvement in Joffrey's murder and pleads guilty to being a dwarf, stating mockingly that the trial is merely another way for his father and sister to try and get rid of him. Tywin brushes this aside (indicating it is true), and tries to stick to the matter at hand. He asks earnestly if Tyrion has anything to say in his defense, to which Tyrion once again professes his innocence, though fully aware that by this point nobody will believe him.
Tyrion then directs his fury towards Cersei, shouting directly to his sister's face; "I did not kill Joffrey, but I wish that I had! Watching your vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores!"
With this statement, Tyrion makes several things clear:
- Firstly, he denies any involvement in Joffrey's murder, whilst expressing his regret at not doing it.
- Simultaneously, and much to Cersei's anger, Tyrion states that contrary to what everybody is saying, Joffrey was not the sweet, generous monarch they have made him out to be. He was a vicious monster, and in Tyrion's opinion, Joffrey fully deserved what he got.
- Tyrion's declaration also publicly confirms that the rumours circulating about the nature of his elder siblings' relationship are in fact true. This means that the so-called Baratheon siblings (Joffrey, Myrcella and Tommen) are not Robert's heirs, but bastards born of incest, which means that the Lannisters are traitors and usurpers to the throne.
- As a final insult, Tyrion denounces Shae's testimony, calling his treacherous lover "a lying whore" before the whole of King's Landing nobility.
As his sister looks on angrily, and Shae is hurt, Tyrion turns back to the court. He makes it clear that he is well aware of the accusations and whispers they have made behind his back, the ones about him being a monster. Tyrion now expresses his regret that he is not that person, declaring that if he was, he would then be free of conscience and willing to die in order to exact retribution by poisoning the "whole pack of you" for treating him like this. The court explodes at this, and Tywin desperately tries to restore order, ordering Ser Meryn Trent to have Tyrion removed before he can stir up any more trouble.
Sick of his father's manipulation, however, Tyrion does not give Meryn that chance. Before anyone can react, Tyrion shouts that he will not allow himself to be executed for the sake of Joffrey, and states that he knows he will not be served true justice at such a farcical show-trial. Well aware that he now has nothing to lose, Tyrion declares that he will leave his fate in the hands of the Gods.
As the court bursts into an angry protest, the reactions of several main characters are shown in sequence;
- Joffrey's widow Margaery (the only person in the courtroom that knows the truth) is stunned by this development, and alongside her ignorant brother Loras, they look up at the judges.
- A worried looking Shae glances up at the judges then looks away nervously (though whether she is concerned about herself or Tyrion remains unclear).
- Oberyn leans forward, looking genuinely interested at this turn of events.
- In contrast, Jaime sighs sadly, thinking that any hope of saving Tyrion is lost.
- Cersei manages to keep her emotions in check but clenches her fingers together angrily, enraged that the man she perceives as Joffrey's killer has successfully outmaneuvered her.
- As for Tyrion, he locks eyes with his father Tywin, who is glaring down at him. The youngest Lannister smirks triumphantly up at him, knowing full well that he has just turned his father's manipulation on its head.
Aftermath & Consequences
The Court trial of Tyrion Lannister would have serious consequences for the entirety of Westeros and Essos. These effects were both far-reaching and long-lasting. In the short term, two of the presiding judges soon lost their lives. In the long term, great suffering was wrought upon the innocent civilians of Westeros, two of the Great Houses became extinct, and many of the people in attendance lost their lives.
The verdict itself was rendered shortly afterwards in Tyrion's second trial by combat when Ser Gregor Clegane (acting on as Cersei's champion), despite suffering serious injuries, bested and killed Tyrion's champion, Oberyn Martell, who volunteered in order to avenge his sister Elia and her children (who were all murdered by Clegane). With the battle over, Tywin immediately sentenced Tyrion to death, much to Cersei's delight.
Although the disgraced Maestar Qyburn was ultimately able to reanimate Ser Gregor via his horrific experiments, Oberyn's death further widened the rift between the Lannisters and Dorne, which was ultimately never repaired. Whilst Doran Martell worked to ensure peace with the Lannisters this was not what his people wanted, and following the coup by Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes (which saw the extinction of House Martell), Dorne openly rebelled against the Iron Throne. Ellaria signified this by murdering Myrcella Lannister in cold blood and later sided with Daenerys Targaryen during her invasion of Westeros. Whilst Ellaria was eventually captured by Euron Greyjoy, and her daughters killed, Dorne presumably remained in an open state of defiance.
Unwilling to let his brother die, Jaime secretly rescued Tyrion the night before his execution, and arranged for his safe transportation out of the Kings Landing. However, an emotionally distraught Tyrion decided to confront his father one final time before leaving. Upon entering his father's bedchamber in the Tower of the Hand, Tyrion found Shae lying naked in his father's bed and following a short scuffle ended up killing her in self-defence, an act he profoundly regretted. Tyrion subsequently armed himself with Joffrey's crossbow and confronted his father in the privy chamber. Following a brief exchange, in which an unrepentant Tywin called Shae a whore one too many times for his own good, Tyrion murdered his father with two crossbow bolts to the chest. Having avenged himself upon the father who'd condemned, continuously tormented, and never loved him, Tyrion successfully escaped from the city, along with Varys who opted to come with him. Following a series of misadventures, both ultimately joined Daenerys Targaryen pledging to help her take back Westeros, with Tyrion eventually rising to the position of Daenerys' Hand of the Queen.
Back in Westeros, Tywin Lannister's death brought an end to his stabilizing influence, plunging the Kingdom and House Lannister into total disarray. With Tommen still too young to rule on his own, Cersei took command as Queen Regent, a fact which disgusted Tywin's younger brother Kevan Lannister, since this effectively put Cersei in charge of the Seven Kingdoms. Although she claimed to have learnt a great many things from her father, Cersei's paranoia and short-sightedness caused her to make several bad decisions, which jeopardized the alliances that her father had worked so hard to establish, whilst alienating herself from the other noble families, and pushing the realm towards the brink of another civil war.
This ultimately backfires on her and she was subsequently stripped of all authority following her walk of atonement. With Cersei apparently subdued, Kevan Lannister took control of the small council, serving as Tommen Baratheon's Hand of the King, and working together with the Tyrells, did his best to restore order in Kings Landing, proving to be almost as capable as his brother. However, Cersei continued plotting behind the scenes and ultimately took back her power, following the destruction of the Sept of Baelor. In this one fell swoop, she wiped out all of her political rivals, whilst simultaneously destroying all other branches of the Lannister line, which caused her last surviving child Tommen Baratheon to commit suicide. With no one left in Kings Landing to oppose her, Cersei took the throne for herself, obtaining the crown she had always wanted.
Throughout the early part of her reign, Cersei proved to be reasonably competent, securing an alliance with Euron Greyjoy and winning a string of early victories against Daenerys Targaryen during her invasion of Westeros. Following the devastating defeat at the Battle of the Goldroad however, Cersei's claim to the throne was left in extreme jeopardy. Although she continued to vehemently believe that the Lannisters would one day come to rule the Seven Kingdoms, by the time of the Parley at the Dragon Pit, Cersei remained the ruler of a divided continent. By now the majority of the other Houses have either pledged themselves to Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow or were too badly crippled to make effective allies. As the Great War finally begins, the only place truly under Cersei's control was Kings Landing.
The Truth Revealed
Cersei continued to vehemently believe that Tyrion and his wife Sansa had murdered Joffrey for many years. Following their escape, she put out a bounty on Tyrion's head, offering a lordship to anyone who could capture him, leading to the death of many innocent dwarves. When she learnt that Roose Bolton was sheltering Sansa Stark and that he planned to marry her off to his son Ramsay, in order to legitimize his claim to the North, Cersei threatened to eradicate them, ignoring the fact that the Boltons were 'allied' to the crown at this point in time.
Although the citizens of Westeros hated Tyrion, they did not seem particularly concerned nor sorry about what happened to Joffrey. Indeed, when Randyll Tarly met with Tyrion following the Battle of the Goldroad, he proclaimed that Tyrion was a traitor that had murdered Tywin, whilst completely ignoring his alleged regiced. This suggests that Randyll (and many other people) either believed Tyrion was innocent of that crime, or simply didn't care about Joffrey.
It would not be until Jaime's return from the Battle of the Goldroad that Cersei would finally learn the truth. At the conclusion of the Fall of Highgarden, Jaime confronted Olenna Tyrell, in which the pair spoke about many things, including Cersei and the late King Joffrey. After ingesting poison provided to her by Jaime, as a means to spare her from any of the crueler fates suggested by Cersei, Olenna calmly confessed that she was the one that had murdered Joffrey. She then asked a shocked Jaime to relay this information to Cersei, shortly before her own passing, so as to spite the vile Queen one last time.
Jaime complied with Olenna's wishes following his return to Kings Landing, after Cersei made a sarcastic remark about Tyrion. Whilst Cersei was initially dismissive of this claim, Jaime was ultimately able to convince her - after pointing out Olenna could have ruled the Seven Kingdoms by using her granddaughter to manipulate her husband (though in truth Olenna only did it to protect her grandaughter). Confronted with the truth, Cersei, who had been clinging to the hatred of her youngest brother for all this time, showed no regard about how her own stupidity and rashful decision destroyed/divided her house and brought devastation to Westeros. All she could think about was that Olenna Tyrell had managed to cheat her one final time.
Tyrion's earlier prediction was also proven true, because despite knowing that he played no role in Joffrey's murder, Cersei continued to hate him anyway. When the pair spoke confidentially, during the Parley in King's Landing Cersei declared that while he may not have murdered Joffrey she held him responsible for the deaths of their father, and her other two children, as well as the ensuing chaos that followed Tywin's death.
Whilst there was undeniably some credence to this claim, since Tyrion did murder Tywin (for which he is now branded a kinslayer) and that Myrcella would not have become such an easy target if Tyrion had not shipped her off to Dorne in the first place, the truth of the matter is much more simple. Cersei's own actions brought about all these consequences. If she hadn't accused Tyrion in the first place and launched a proper investigation; Tywin and Oberyn Martell would more than likely still be alive, Tyrion would probably not be in a position of power as he is now, the Sand Snakes would have felt no need to go after Myrcella, and most of the ensuing conflicts in Westeros would not have happened.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Tyrion's trial is longer, taking the span of several days. A number of witnesses are brought by the crown, some of whom even consider Tyrion to be innocent, but nevertheless, do lend credence to Cersei's case. Others, however, seeking the Queen's favour, state outright lies, going as far as claiming they saw Tyrion put something in Joffrey's cup. Cersei herself does not testify, only bringing the witnesses.
Unlike in the show, Jaime does not visit Tyrion in his cell even once as long as the trial goes on. Tyrion is not aware that his brother is in the city, for he and Brienne returned after Joffrey's death. Jaime attends the hall where the trial is held, standing well to the back of the hall, but Tyrion either does not see him there or does not recognize him, which is no surprise since half the court no longer seems to recognize Jaime. He has no part in the offer that Kevan brings Tyrion.
Before the trial begins, Kevan visits Tyrion at the prison, informing him that Tywin, Mace Tyrell and Oberyn Martell will stand in judgment of him. When Tyrion claims he may demand a trial by combat, his uncle replies that Cersei will name Gregor Clegane as her champion. Tyrion thinks how his sister checks his moves before he makes them. Kevan asks Tyrion if he has any witnesses, and promises to do all in his power to produce them. Before Kevan leaves, Tyrion says "I did not do this". Kevan answers "I wish I could believe that". Tyrion wonders if his wife is the murderer. The next day, Kevan frowns to see that Tyrion's witness list has only one name - Sansa. He tells Tyrion that there is a large reward on her head, and Addam Marbrand looks for her.
Tyrion sends Podrick Payne to bring Bronn but finds that he is soon to marry Lollys Stokeworth, and now being paid well by the Queen. Although Bronn likes Tyrion, he is not going to risk his life for him.
The first day of the trial
The trial begins with a prayer of the High Septon, asking the Father Above to guide them to justice. Tywin asks: "Tyrion, did you kill King Joffrey?" Tyrion denies. Mace Tyrell demands if it was Sansa. Tyrion thinks "I would have, if I’d been her" but answers "The gods killed Joffrey. He choked on his pigeon pie". Tywin declares that first the witnesses against Tyrion will be heard, then he may present his own witnesses, and he may speak only with permission.
The witnesses who testify against Tyrion are:
- Ser Balon Swann. Unlike the rest of the witnesses, his testimony is wholly true, rather objective and in favor of Tyrion. He praises Tyrion's bravery at Battle of the Blackwater, and claims he does not believe Tyrion murdered Joffrey. He admits that Tyrion struck Joffrey after the Riot of King's Landing, but claims it was only a fit of wrath.
- Ser Meryn Trant expands on Ser Balon's account, claiming that following the riot Tyrion knocked Joffrey to the ground and began kicking him, and shouted that it was unjust that Joffrey had escaped unharmed from the mobs - which is true. Only then Tyrion begins to grasp his sister's plan: she began with a man known to be honest, and milked him for all he would give. Every witness to follow will tell a worse tale. Ser Meryn goes on to tell how Tyrion had stopped Joffrey’s chastisement of Sansa Stark, claiming that Tyrion asked Joffrey if he knew what had happened to Aerys II Targaryen, and when Ser Boros spoke up in defense of the king, Tyrion threatened to have him killed. That part of Meryn's testimony is also true, but he "forgets" to mention what made Tyrion act that way - Joffrey's unprovoked cruelty toward Sansa.
- Ser Boros Blount comes next, repeating Ser Meryn's story. Whether or not he holds a grudge toward Cersei for dismissing him from the Kingsguard, he says the words she wants all the same.
- Osney and Osfryd Kettleblack tell of Tyrion's supper with Cersei before the Battle of the Blackwater, and of the threats he’d made - that he would wait for a day when she was happy, and make her joy turn to ashes in her mouth. They speak true, but "forget" to mention what made Tyrion issue those threats - the abduction and vicious beating of Alayaya (in the show she was replaced with Ros), whom Cersei mistook for Tyrion's mistress.
- Ser Osmund Kettleblack of the Kingsguard swears that Joffrey had long known that Tyrion meant to murder him. "It was the day they gave me the white cloak, my lords. That brave boy said to me, 'Good Ser Osmund, guard me well, for my uncle loves me not. He means to be king in my place'." Tyrion is so angry to hear those lies that he loses his temper and yells "Liar!" at Ser Osmund. Tywin warns Tyrion that he will be chained hand and foot. Tyrion is forced to apologize.
Second day of the trial
- Maesters Ballabar and Frenken testify that they had opened Joffrey's corpse, and found no morsel of pigeon pie nor any other food lodged in his throat. They claim it was poison that killed him - which is true.
- Pycelle tells about the various poisons he has in store, and that Tyrion stole them from his chambers, when he had Pycelle imprisoned - which is true. He claims the poison that killed Joffrey was the Strangler, but this rare poison was not found, because Tyrion used it all to kill "the noblest child the gods ever put on this good earth". Pycelle does not mention Dontos' body, since it was burnt at Littlefinger's command without leaving a trace.
After Pycelle comes many Lords and ladies and noble knights, highborn and humble alike, all have been present at the wedding feast, have all seen Joffrey choke, his face turning as black as a Dornish plum:
- Lord Redwyne, Lord Celtigar, and Ser Flement Brax testify that they had heard Tyrion threaten Joffrey.
- Two serving men, a juggler, Lord Gyles, Ser Hobber Redwyne and Ser Philip Foote testify they observed Tyrion fill the wedding chalice - which is true: unlike in show, Tyrion refilled the chalice twice at Joffrey's command.
- Lady Taena Merryweather swears that she had seen Tyrion drop something into the king’s wine while Joff and Margaery were cutting the pie.
- Old Estermont, young Peckledon, the singer Galyeon of Cuy, and the squires Morros and Jothos Slynt tell how Tyrion had picked up the chalice as Joffrey was dying and poured out the last of the poisoned wine onto the floor - which is true.
Watching the endless line of witnesses, Tyrion cannot help but wonder "When did I make so many enemies?"
When Kevan comes to visit Tyrion that night, his manner is cold and distant. He does not believe Tyrion's denials. He offers Tyrion to admit guilt before the throne and repent of his crime, promising that Tywin will withhold the sword and he will be permitted to take the black. Tyrion laughs at his uncle, reminding him the same terms were offered to Eddard Stark and everyone knows how that ended. Kevan assures Tyrion that Tywin had nothing to do with Eddard's death. He warns Tyrion that Mace Tyrell has already condemned him and urges him to accept the bargain, reasoning that Tyrion has no witnesses and whether he committed the murder or not - joining the Watch is his best option: if he is guilty - the Wall is a kinder fate than he deserves; if he is innocent - the Wall is a safer place for him than King’s Landing, whatever the outcome of the trial, because the mob is convinced of his guilt and will tear him apart.
Tyrion thinks about the offer all night. He does not like at all the idea of bearing the stigma of kinslayer or Kingslayer for the rest of his life for a murder he did not commit.
Third day of the trial
In this day, Varys is the only to testify. He gives an account of how Tyrion had schemed to part Joffrey from the Hound's protection and spoken with Bronn of the benefits of having Tommen Baratheon as king. Tyrion muses "Half-truths are worth more than outright lies". Unlike the other witnesses, Varys presents documents: parchments painstakingly filled with notes, details, dates, whole conversations. So much material that its recitation takes all day, and so much of it damning. Varys confirms Tyrion’s midnight visit to Pycelle's chambers and the theft of his poisons and potions, confirms the threat he'd made to Cersei the night of their supper, confirms everything but the poisoning itself. When Prince Oberyn asks him how he can possibly know all this, not having been present at any of these events, Varys only giggles and says "My little birds told me. Knowing is their purpose, and mine". Tyrion has no idea how to refute Varys' testimony, and he wishes that he had Varys beheaded the day he returned to King's Landing.
After Varys leaves, Tywin asks if there are more witnesses. Cersei asks to bring one final witness the next day, and is granted. Tyrion thinks "Oh, good. After this farce of a trial, execution will almost come as a relief."
At night, Oberyn comes to visit Tyrion. Oberyn tells him that Cersei has tried to buy his vote in the judgment, mentioning marriage. But he has other ideas and brings up the point that according to Dornish law, Myrcella Baratheon is the heir, and that his brother may well crown his ward. Oberyn relates the story Tywin had told him that it was Amory Lorch who killed Elia Targaryen and her children, but Tyrion tells him the truth - that Lorch killed Rhaenys Targaryen, and it was the Mountain who killed Aegon and raped and murdered Elia, with the baby's blood and brains still on his hands. The Red Viper speaks of saving Tyrion, not as his judge, but as his champion.
Last day of the trial
Tyrion has not made up his mind yet whether to admit guilt or demand a trial by battle. He thinks it will not be so bad to join the Night's Watch. He will not make much of a ranger, but the Night’s Watch needs clever men as well as strong ones. Lord Commander Mormont had said as much, when Tyrion had visited Castle Black. There are those inconvenient vows, which mean the end of his marriage and whatever claim he may ever have made for Casterly Rock, but he does not seem destined to enjoy either in any case. And he seems to recall that there was a brothel in a nearby village. He asks Pod "do you think I did it?". Unlike in the show, Pod hesitates. When he tries to speak, all he manages to produce is a weak sputter. That makes Tyrion think "I am doomed", but says "No need to answer. You've been a good squire to me. Better than I deserved. Whatever happens, I thank you for your leal service."
Tyrion is shocked to see the final witness against him is Shae. He wonders why Cersei bothered to bring her as witness, thinking "Shae knows nothing that can hurt me", but soon realizes that the purpose of her testimony is to humiliate him, not to strengthen the evidence against him. Tyrion guesses correctly that Cersei has bribed Shae (in A Feast for Crows, it is revealed Cersei offered Shae a manse in the city and a knight to marry her).
Shae lies brazenly that Tyrion and Sansa plotted it together after the Young Wolf died; Sansa wanted revenge for her brother and Tyrion meant to have the throne; He was going to kill his sister next, and then his own lord father, so he could be Hand for Prince Tommen; But after a year or so, before Tommen got too old, he would have killed him too, so as to take the crown for his own head. Oberyn asks Shae how could she know all this. She answers that she overheard them. Then Shae continues to relate she wasn't only Sansa's maid, but also his whore, and tells that Tyrion used to molest her. She starts sobbing, lying that she never meant to be a whore, she was to be married, but Tyrion got her fiancé killed and sent his wildlings Shagga and Timett to bring her to his tent, threatening that if she didn't pleasure him, he'd give her to them, so she did. Then he brought her to the city, so she'd be close when he wanted her, and made her do such "shameful things" with her mouth and other parts. When saying that, tears rolls slowly down Shae's pretty face, making every man in the hall want to take Shae in his arms and comfort her. Shae tells that Tyrion used her every way there was, and he made her call him "my giant of Lannister" (in the show it was changed to "my lion") - a nickname that she actually invented for him and used it often without any coercion. Nearly all the people at the hall, except Tywin and Tyrion, burst out laughing to hear that.
Hearing so many lies from the woman he loved, and enraged at the betrayal and mockery he is receiving from the citizens of King's Landing, Tyrion explodes in rage and exclaims "Get this lying whore out of my sight and I will give you your confession". Once Shae is gone, he hatefully gives a speech similar to the show, expressing his disgust and hatred for the treacherous citizens of Kings Landing (making it very clear he regrets saving them) before demanding a trial by combat. Cersei urges the judges to accept, annoucing Gregor Clegane as her champion. Tywin is so angry that he cannot speak, so Mace Tyrell asks on his behalf if Tyrion has a champion.
Much to everyone's surprise, Oberyn immediately stands up and volunteers to be Tyrion's champion. The uproar is deafening, and Tyrion takes special pleasure in the sudden doubt he glimpses in Cersei's eyes. It takes a hundred gold cloaks to quiet the throne room again. Tywin who has been silent until this point quickly declares "Let the issue be decided on the morrow. I wash my hands of it". He gives Tyrion a cold angry look, then leaves.
That night, Tyrion feels strangely calm: no matter what will happen, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he'd kicked his father's plans to splinters: if Prince Oberyn wins, it will further inflame Highgarden against Dorne; Mace Tyrell will see the man who crippled his son helping the dwarf, who (allegedly) almost poisoned his daughter, to escape his rightful punishment. On the other hand, if the Mountain wins, Doran Martell may well demand to know why his brother had been served with death instead of the justice Tywin had promised him; Dorne may crown Myrcella after all. He sleeps long and deep.
At morning, Tyrion is well rested and with a hearty appetite. After he has breakfast, Oberyn comes to visit him and they chat leisurely. Oberyn is confident that he will win, and invites Tyrion to return with him to Sunspear after the duel is over. Tyrion agrees, knowing that he should get away from his vengeful sister as far as possible in case Oberyn wins. Oberyn shows Tyrion the spear that he is going to fight with against the Mountain, warning him not to touch it. Tyrion notices the spearhead has a black glimmer. He wonders if it is oil or poison, but decides not to ask. Later that morning, the duel takes place.
|Scourging of the Riverlands||
|The Young Wolf's campaign||
Purple Wedding · Tyrion Lannister (I) · Tyrion Lannister (II) · Tower of the Hand
|Ironborn Invasion of the North||
The Dreadfort · Moat Cailin (II) · Deepwood Motte (II)