Question about "A Storm of Swords" (open spoilers)

If you haven’t read the book, don’t read this thread. The whole thing is open spoilers, and I don’t want nothing but spoiler boxes.

When Oberyn fights the Mountain for Tyrion’s trial, he has poison on his blade. My question is, why didn’t anybody check for that?

I could imagine some duels where the honor of the combatants is assumed, but not this one. The Mountain didn’t respect anybody, and he was fighting for Cersei, who didn’t even trust Jamie by this point. And Oberyn was famous for using poisoned weapons. He was the Red Viper, after all. Even his daughter back in Dorne knew exactly which poison he was using.

The Mountain may have been confident he could beat Oberyn, but nobody would be so dumb as to think he would not even get a scratch, which was all it would take.

So why did they let Oberyn use his own spear, without checking it?

A damn good question, Brocks. Some possible solutions:
1.) No one wanted to question the Red Viper’s choice of weapons or look at the spear too closely. After all, he is a prince of Dorne and relations between the Lannister-Tyrell faction are already dicey enough.
2.) Oberlyn standing up to champion Tyrion was so unexpected that the judges simply didn’t think of it in the shock and confusion. Remember, too, that Cersei and Mace Tyrell aren’t the sharpest of the Westeros elite, and Tywin was clearly disgusted at the whole thing, so disgusted his mind didn’t work well for once.
3.) The judges decided the duel was a win-win situation. If the Mountain wins, they get to kill Tyrion and a Dorne prince the Lannisters and Tyrells aren’t fond of. If the Red Viper wins, it may help satisfy Prince Doran and the Dornishmen, who still remember Elias and her babes.
4.) As we say in my D&D group, it’s in the plot, baby. :smiley:

It’s possible that they did, at some point, check it. And then Oberyn snuck some poison on later. It could also be that there’s no rule against it. After all, the gods decide whose cause is just.

The Lannisters owed the Martells the Mountain’s head for quite a long time. This battle was a way for them to pay their debt (Lannisters always do), so they probably figured they’d let Oberyn use whatever means he wanted.

Remember the stakes here. If Oberyn won, Tyrion would go free. WE know he wasn’t guilty, but Cersei was as sure of it as the sun rising the next day, and Tywin was nearly as certain. I can’t see either of them letting him off, even by looking the other way wrt Oberyn’s weapon.

I’ve wondered about that, too. The gods do seem to have some power in the books, and since they are invoked by the High Septon before the combat, it’s not like they weren’t aware of what’s happening. And yet, the decision came out wrong.

True, but as Tyrion points out, if Oberyn loses, Dorne would become furious with the Lannisters for serving up another Martell death rather than the vengence that was promised.

Plus, I’m not entirely convinved that Tywin actually believed Tyrion was guilty. He made a show of it, certainly, because the only other option was to accuse a Martell or a Tyrell. Better to lose his imp of a son rather than strong political allies. But he was willing to send Tyrion to the Wall for a confession. Light punishment for regicide.

Most of the nobles wouldn’t have thought to even ask. They’re good at seeing what they expect to see. The prince of a great house using poison (suitable for cravens, eunuchs, and women) in a duel is unthinkable. Oberyn’s lifestyle seem to consist mostly of swaggering right past other peoples moral codes and daring them to call him on it.

The people who might have thought of it couldn’t ask for political reasons. Oberyn is brother to the prince and the most beloved man in Dorne. They couldn’t demand to check his weapons without accusing him of being a coward, making Dorne their enemy. And that’s if they DID think of it, it didn’t occur to Tyrion until after he saw the spear, if I remember correctly.

As for the gods, even assuming they get involved in these things, which isn’t a sure bet, they’ve got some outs. First, Oberyn mostly won. The Mountain was disarmed, literally pinned to the ground, and for all practical purposes out of the fight, until the Viper decided to swagger into grabbing range. So maybe he actually won the duel, and was killed afterwards.

Not good enough, you say? It was a fight to the death! (Was it?) Fine. The Mountain was dead the moment the Viper cut him the first time. As of that point, his divine protection was gone, and it was just two guys killing each other.

It was lose/lose for the Lannisters. Mountain wins, Dorne is enraged. Viper wins, the Tyrells are enraged. Worked out about as well as Tywin could have hoped for, really. He needed the Tyrells more than he needed Dorne, a reluctant ally at best. That said, Tywin had recently said he had no intention of giving up Clegane. He was going to frame the conveniently dead-by-bear Lorch for Elyia.

There have been five trial by combats that I can recall,
Bronn/falcon guy: Innocent guy cleared
Sandor/Barec: Innocent guy cleared (He did do it, and enjoyed it, but it was legally correct. the Lord of Light seems like the kind of god that would consider that the** best kind** of correct)
Oberyn/Mountain, innocent guy found guilty, but with wiggle room
Dunk/Trial of Seven clusterfuck: innocent guy cleared (He’d done what he was accused of, but it was justified)
Dunk/Lucas the Longinch: Who the hell knows. Spider Lady might have done it, it might have been a ‘who will rid me of this meddlesome priest!’ situation, or it might have been an accident.

That’s well within the bounds of ‘the gods don’t care,’ but not conclusively. It may also be that the Lord of Light cares, when his avatar is involved in the fight, but the Seven don’t have that power.

Looks like you’re having it both ways here.

As to Oberyn: it was a fight to the death, who the fuck cares what was on the blade?

And if it is illegal, who’s going to call him on it? Plus, the Lannisters (or at least Tywin) would prefer the Mountain to lose. They killed a princess and her children, Gregor doesn’t come anywhere near paying for that, they know it, Oberyn knows it, everyone knows it. However, it might be enough so that it could prevent outright warfare. Oberyn’s death pretty much guaranteed war between them at some point.

Only because I didn’t explain it well. I was trying to avoid accusations of being pro-running-down-children-on-horseback-and-killing-them, as I might have to run for office someday.

A fair trial would have found both Dunk and Sandor innocent, (at least of what they were accused of) despite the fact both actually did do what they were accused of. Sandor was doing his duty, such a it was. I can’t find my copy, but as I recall, Prince Gigantic Asshole was not only invoking an archaic law, but also lying about the circumstances, because he knew full well if he told the truth he’d be the one in trouble.

I’m not arguing for ‘the Gods do bless trial by combat’ or against it, I’m just throwing out both sides, as I see them. If I had to guess, I’d come down on ‘deliberately ambiguous,’ and that we’ll never see a situation that answers it definitively, but there will be/are hints that they might.

For anyone who missed them, Dunk was from the Hedge Knight short stories from the Legends collections. They’re quite good, and there’s a dandy comic adaption as well.