“Why not a peace?” Catelyn asked.
The lords looked at her, but it was Robb’s eyes she felt, his and his alone. “My lady, they murdered my lord father, your husband,” he said grimly. He unsheathed his longsword and laid it on the table before him, the bright steel on the rough wood. “This is the only peace I have for Lannisters.”
The Greatjon bellowed his approval, and other men added their voices, shouting and drawing swords and pounding their fists on the table. Catelyn waited until they had quieted. “My lords,” she said then, “Lord Eddard was your liege, but I shared his bed and bore his children. Do you think I love him any less than you?” Her voice almost broke with her grief, but Catelyn took a long breath and steadied herself. “Robb, if that sword could bring him back, I should never let you sheathe it until Ned stood at my side once more . . . but he is gone, and hundred Whispering Woods will not change that. Ned is gone, and Daryn Hornwood, and Lord Karstark’s valiant sons, and many other good men besides, and none of them will return to us. Must we have more deaths still?”
“You are a woman, my lady,” the Greatjon rumbled in his deep voice. “Women do not understand these things.”
“You are the gentle sex,” said Lord Karstark, with the lines of grief fresh on his face. “A man has a need for vengeance.”
“Give me Cersei Lannister, Lord Karstark, and you would see how gentle a woman can be,” Catelyn replied. “Perhaps I do not understand tactics and strategy . . . but I understand futility. We went to war when Lannister armies were ravaging the riverlands, and Ned was a prisoner, falsely accused of treason. We fought to defend ourselves, and to win my lord’s freedom.
“Well, the one is done, and the other forever beyond our reach. I will mourn for Ned until the end of my days, but I must think of the living. I want my daughters back, and the queen holds them still. If I must trade our four Lannisters for their two Starks, I will call that a bargain and thank the gods. I want you safe, Robb, ruling at Winterfell from your father’s seat. I want you to live your life, to kiss a girl and wed a woman and father a son. I want to write an end to this. I want to go home, my lords, and weep for my husband.”
The hall was very quiet when Catelyn finished speaking.
“Peace,” said her uncle Brynden. “Peace is sweet, my lady . . . but on what terms? It is no good hammering your sword into a plowshare if you must forge it again on the morrow.”
“What did Torrhen and my Eddard die for, if I am to return to Karhold with nothing but their bones?” asked Rickard Karstark.
“Aye,” said Lord Bracken. “Gregor Clegane laid waste to my fields, slaughtered my smallfolk, and left Stone Hedge a smoking ruin. Am I now to bend the knee to the ones who sent him? What have we fought for, if we are to put all back as it was before?”
Lord Blackwood agreed, to Catelyn’s surprise and dismay. “And if we do make peace with King Joffrey, are we not then traitors to King Renly? What if the stag should prevail against the lion, where would that leave us?”
“Whatever you may decide for yourselves, I shall never call a Lannister my king,” declared Marq Piper.
“Nor I!” yelled the little Darry boy. “I never will!”
Again the shouting began. Catelyn sat despairing. She had come so close, she thought. They had almost listened, almost . . . but the moment was gone. There would be no peace, no chance to heal, no safety. She looked at her son, watched him as he listened to the lords debate, frowning, troubled, yet wedded to his war. He had pledged himself to marry a daughter of Walder Frey, but she saw his true bride plain before her now: the sword he had laid on the table.
Catelyn was thinking of her girls, wondering if she would ever see them again, when the Greatjon lurched to his feet.
I don't think GRRM thinks vengeance as wise so the lines that are underlined as well as bold in in my view GRRM is perharps of the view that the likes of Greatjon in the council were overtaken by vengeance and were thinking first of that and later of what is the right thing to do. And they were also sexist. But still just because one side is illogical it does not mean that the other side is strategically correct although philosophically peace over vengeance might be the way to go.
When I ask if she was right, I am interested in both the strategy (what if they decided to do everything for peace, whether it was feasible, the long term effects of it, whether for example Tywin would have respected it ) and also other issues such as if peace is better than vengeance. Of course your priorities might vary.
Edited by Qhorin Halfhand and Yoren, 12 April 2012 - 10:18 AM.