Chapter 2 (Sansa I): Oh, poor Sansa. Stuck in King's Landing surrounded by evil types, forcibly engaged to a psychotic monster who can (and does) order others to beat her, and now she has to watch a pathetic, sorry excuse for a tournament. The last one she attended, she actually wanted to be at, and it was well worth watching. This tourney, however, is a total farce. The field has no excitement to it, and no big names. The sparse attendance, part because of it being held inside the protected Keep, and part because so many people are off fighting a war, gives further indication of how unworthy this event is. I noticed how someone (likely Joff) has gotten it into their head to force the Redwyne twins into fighting. Joff is a sick, sadistic person. Cersei is pretty angry about Tywin setting up his forces at Harrenhal instead of coming to the city like she ordered. Fine, Cersei, if you think you know how to fight a war better than your father, why don't you go command the Lannister army yourself? Tywin is doing what he has to do, and I think she would be better off trusting someone who knows about strategy and tactics. Tommen proves you wouldn't want him on your side in a fight. Even at his age, he shouldn't get smacked down by a straw dummy. Then Tyrion and his band of merry men gatecrash the party. The Imp makes fun of Joff, treats Sansa better than the rest of his family has treated her, and heads off to find Cersei.
Chapter 3 (Tyrion I): I do so love Tyrion's wit. If Westerosi tournaments had a debate competition, Tyrion would win handily. And his way with words is prominently on display in this chapter. He uses it to establish himself as Hand in his father's place, although Cersei is a bit resistant. Time to stick a pin in her ego, being regent has inflated it somewhat. Not that she wasn't full of herself before Robert died (see the incident with Nymeria and Lady in AGOT), but now she is worse. She and Tyrion manage to come to a mutual understanding of sorts, until one of them no longer finds the other useful. She is persuaded that if anyone can put Joff in line, it is Tyrion. The really interesting bit here is that Cersei has no idea (or claims not to, at least) who killed Jon Arryn. On the one hand, she hasn't proven herself all that trustworthy so far. Cersei is a manipulative schemer, so how honest is she being with Tyrion? On the other hand, I don't see what she would gain from lying to him about this, and she tells him the whole story about her part in Robert's death a few paragraphs later. If she is going to lie about one murder, she shouldn't be honest about the other. So despite a really good motive being established in Book One, I'm leaning toward Cersei having no part in Jon's death. Doesn't make me any less shocked by the revelation, since AGOT pretty much left the readers to believe it was a mystery solved. The funeral feast for Robert sounds good. The boar that Robert died to kill, cooked with mushrooms and apples. Inn at the Crossroads should do this one sometime. Actually, I hate mushrooms, but it still sounds good. On his way out, Tyrion takes the first action as Hand that will anger Joff: he orders the decaying heads of everyone who got executed taken down. Joff was leaving them up till he killed the last three people he wants: Robb, Renly, and Stannis. Odd how he had exactly the right number of spikes for all the traitors who needed killing. Tyrion reflects that it will be hell matching them with the bodies after all this decay, which only raises the question... what did they do with the bodies? Meantime, it seems that in preparing the city for an attack, Cersei is driving the realm even further into debt than Robert did.
Chapter 4 (Bran I): Things are still unpleasant for Bran at Winterfell with the rest of the family away. All except for little Rickon, who is adjusting to life with both parents and Robb all gone a little better. Something still has to be done about Shaggydog, though.I'm betting that by the end of the series, he is either put down as a wild menace, or someone manages to civilize him to the extent where that isn't necessary. Bran's dreams are getting more and more interesting. Every time he dozes off, he has some sort of psychic episode. This time, he dreams that he is Summer, and even has Summer's thoughts instead of his own. Come to think of it, wasn't the potion Luwin gave him supposed to result in a dreamless sleep?
Chapter 5 (Arya II): Yoren brings his recruits to an inn in a village somewhere to eat and wash up. Arya seems to be having problems keeping a low profile. First she speaks up about whether a she-wolf would eat a baby (it was good hearing some word of Nymeria, if that was her), and then she gets into an altercation with the three worst criminals of the bunch. And that's on top of the fight she got into during her last chapter. Enter the gold cloaks. Far from their jurisdiction, aren't they? Arya hides with the Bull while Yoren argues with the gold cloaks that they aren't allowed to take any of his men. Shockingly, all the other recruits are willing and ready to fight alongside Yoren, even the ones who tormented her before. Except... they aren't after her in the first place. They want the Bull, who it turns out is Gendry from the previous book. Yoren drives them off, and the leader drops his sword. Hot Pie gets it; I'm expecting significant things for Hot Pie later on. I'm not shocked that Cersei sent men out to find Gendry. It fits the pattern of her eliminating Robert's other bastards in the past that was alluded to in AGOT. What I'm wondering is, those gold cloaks are eventually going to get back to King's Landing and report their failure.Not they they want to, since Cersei strikes me as the sort who would execute them for not accomplishing their mission. But they have no choice, since they obviously don't have the boy. The curious bit is, what happens when they report that there was a different boy, several years younger than Gendry, who thought they were after him? If they describe this "boy" to Cersei, will she put two and two together and realize it's Arya?