In part 1, we examined Hoster Tully’s actions before the A Song of Ice and Fire series began. 3 years before the beginning of A Game of Thrones, Hoster Tully became bedridden with a serious illness to the stomach. Despite this infirmity, Hoster was sitting comfortably, having married his two daughters to the Starks and the Arryns. Even more than this, he had the gratitude of the sitting king, Robert Baratheon. But like the wasting disease threatening his life, trouble on the horizon threatened to erode the successes that Hoster had worked so hard to achieve.
Every crow in the Seven Kingdoms should pay homage to you, Father. From Castamere to the Blackwater, you fed them well. (AFFC, Jaime I)
Administrative Note: I’ve recently purchased some audio recording equipment and have been experimenting with podcasting. If you all are interested, I’d be happy to record the entirety of this Tywin series and post it on my blog. I know many people would prefer not to read a giant block of text. Would anyone prefer to listen to me and my definitely-not-made-for-radio voice read the Tywin series? If so, let me know in the comments below or on Reddit. Thanks for reading!
The Family Dynamic
Before we go on with the story and analysis, I’m going to need to take a step back to look at Tywin’s relationship to his children so that we can better understand what happens next in the story. I also realize that this is not a command analysis, but the family dynamic is important to understand Tywin Lannister and what he was fighting for.
“Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens.” (ASOS, Tyrion I)
Artwork by Pojypojy
Editorial Note: While this is primarily a command analysis of Tywin Lannister, there is a significant section dedicated to Roose Bolton towards the end. While that section in and of itself is worthy of its own post, I thought it important to place it in an analysis of Tywin as it is related to Tywin’s skill as a strategist.
Cementing the Tyrell Alliance
Tywin’s decisive victory over Stannis Baratheon did more than simply lift the siege of King’s Landing; it upended the strategic picture in Westeros. As we discussed in part 3, Tywin’s alliance with Mace Tyrell added the necessary manpower for victory over Stannis at King’s Landing, but there were more ramifications of this alliance than simple victory in the field.
First, the influx of Tyrell soldiers ensured that Tywin had a larger army than all of his enemies combined. If we start with the assumption that Tywin had around 20,000 soldiers at Harrenhal and Mace Tyrell had about 80,000 at Bitterbridge, the combined army now totalled 100,000 soldiers. More than bringing more men under his command, Tywin also inherited good commanders through his alliance. While Mace Tyrell, Lord of Highgarden, was not a good commander, some of his subordinate commanders were. Mace Tyrell’s son, Garlan Tyrell, had led the vanguard of the assault on King’s Landing. In the course of the battle, he personally killed Ser Guyard Morrigen, the commander of Stannis’s vanguard. But however good a knight Garlan was, Tywin’s greatest command inheritance from the Tyrell alliance was Randyll Tarly. Lord Tarly was a skilled warrior with several wars under his belt. During Robert’s Rebellion some 15 years previously, he was the only commander to defeat Robert Baratheon in battle at Ashford. During the Siege of King’s Landing, Randyll Tarly was given command of the center. Having both commanders was a significant windfall for Tywin Lannister.
“Was there ever a war where only one side bled?” (ACOK, Catelyn I)
Tywin Lannister in Retreat
At the end of A Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister was in a weak position. With Jaime’s army destroyed outside of Riverrun and two armies now positioned to his west and north, Tywin Lannister retreated south towards Harrenhal. But Tywin Lannister knew that his position was weaker than it appeared. While his army was outnumbered by something like 2 to 1 in the Riverlands, the Lannisters faced two new threats to the south and east. Renly Baratheon had married Margaery Tyrell and had been crowned king. The might of the Reach and the Stormlands now rode with him. To the east, Stannis Baratheon was marshaling a smaller army but larger fleet at Dragonstone. In short, Tywin was not simply threatened to his north and west, he was threatened by hostile armies in every direction. A new strategy had to be devised.
“Sharp steel and strong arms rule this world, don’t ever believe any different.” (ACOK, Sansa IV)
Editorial Note: The first two sections (“Tywin and the Lannisters On the Eve of Civil War” and “The Outbreak of War”) are primarily summaries of the events leading up to the War of the Five Kings. If you don’t want to re-read that which you are already familiar with, I encourage you to skip on ahead to the section entitled “Tywin Goes to War.” There, I’ll pick up on the command and battle analysis.
Have you ever wondered what the hell was going on while reading ASOIAF? I did. I could connect the basic plot while reading it, but even re-reading the books, I was unable to really grasp many of the characters, storylines, prophecies, locations, etc. Fortunately, my brother told me about /r/asoiaf – which quickly became one of my favorite places on the internet. I think the best thing about this subreddit is its analysis. While I love the theories that are bounced around the sub, I have to say my favorite part of this subreddit is the analysis. After yesterday’s very positive response (thank you all!) to the theories compilation, I started working on an analysis compilation. It’s intended to serve for those looking for greater depth in their re-reads. I’ve divided the sections up a little better this time around, so I hope it’s easier and more fun to read. Anyways, enough of an intro. Click on “More” for the best analyses all written of /r/asoiaf all written by its users!