The Mockingbird’s Sweet Poison

In this two-part essay series I would like to unveil two major secrets, one regarding Robert Arryn and the other Clydas, the meek ‘maester’ at Castle Black.

The revelations proposed in these essays have significant implications, suggesting sinister plots in the Vale and on the Wall. In fact, one could argue that these discoveries enable a process by which we can begin to unravel some of the central events from A Dance with Dragons.

Getting to the point, this two-part series provides evidence and reasoning to support the following arguments:

Part One:

Lysa Tully was drugging Robert Arryn for quite some time, perhaps even years.

Littlefinger abuses this knowledge to engineer Robert’s death.

Part Two (forthcoming):

Clydas is abusing the same drug.

Although seemingly of trivial importance, these observations will later be shown to have tremendous implications.

Contents

  1. Science and Sweetrobin. Establishing a frame-of-reference for analyzing Robert Arryn.
  2. Enter the Littlefinger. The curious knowledge of Petyr Baelish.
  3. A Mockingbird’s Genius. The sinister ploy Littlefinger has perfectly executed.

*   *   *

SCIENCE AND SWEETROBIN


robert_arryn_by_amok_by_xtreme1992-d6fboxfTo begin arguing the declared positions, I must first provide some details regarding epilepsy in the real world, and connect them to Robert Arryn.

We must discover what modern science tells us about seizures, and by comparing that knowledge to Robert’s condition, what insights we can extract.

NOTE: I fully acknowledge that ‘science’ may be of limited value in analyzing Martin’s books—he himself may not have known that much about epilepsy when he incorporated it into the series.

However, it provides a compelling basis upon which to ask pointed questions and make novel observations: despite its possible irrelevance, it is a worthwhile frame-of-reference from which to start.

If you can bear with a detour into the science of epilepsy, you will be rewarded with some insights into Robert Arryn’s condition.

We begin by addressing Robert’s emotional lability.

Weak Causality

Robert Arryn’s seizures often seem to be provoked by his emotional outbursts. A typical example:

Before she was half-done Robert began to cry, the pillows shifting perilously beneath him. “He killed my mother. I want him to fly!” The trembling in his hands had grown worse, and his arms were shaking too. The boy’s head jerked and his teeth began to chatter. “Fly!” he shrieked. “Fly, fly.” His arms and legs flailed wildly. Lothor Brune strode to the dais in time to catch the boy as he slipped from his throne. Maester Colemon was just a step behind, though there was naught that he could do.

Helpless as the rest, Sansa could only stand and watch as the shaking spell ran its course. One of Robert’s legs kicked Ser Lothor in the face. Brune cursed, but still held on as the boy twitched and flailed and wet himself.
— SANSA, A FEAST FOR CROWS

It certainly seems like his outbursts are the primary cause of the seizures. However, modern data suggests that such shaking spells occur in a fashion only indirectly related to emotional fits:

Stress is a contributing causal factor in most illnesses, including heart attacks, migraine headaches, diabetes, allergies, colds, cancer, arthritis, insomnia, hypertension, and alcoholism. Stress is also a contributing factor in numerous emotional and behavioral difficulties, including depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, spousal abuse, child abuse, physical assaults, irritability, and stuttering. While healthcare professionals have long suspected that stress can also cause greater seizure activity, researchers have had difficulty proving the scientific relationship between stress and seizures. Some people with epilepsy lead very stressful lives with no effect whatsoever on their seizures. For others, stress and seizures can be synonymous: the inability to cope with stress can create over-excitation of nerve cells in the brain, which leads to a seizure. For example, anxiety can lead to hyperventilation (quick, shallow breathing), producing an increase in abnormal brain activity. The abnormal brain activity causes a seizure.
STRESS AND EPILEPSY, JOAN AND SANFORD I. WEILL MEDICAL COLLEGE, CORNELL UNIVERSITY

Epileptics are not the only people who fail to cope with stress. Yet these non-epileptics do not have seizures in such circumstances. The epileptic differs from this because of inherent biological differences: they are predisposed to seizures in response to relatively innocuous stimuli.

The utopian solution to such epilepsy would be to eliminate all of the possibly provocative stimuli. However, this is obviously impossible; stressors can manifest in unpredictable, unimaginable ways. The epileptic cannot change his environment, they must adapt to the environment—and yet their condition’s biological nature renders adaptation impossible.

Thus in reality, living with epilepsy consists of two major efforts:

  • Reducing susceptibility to seizures. This is most often accomplished through medication.

We see this in ASOIAF with Robert Arryn, when maester Colemon uses sweetsleep in an effort to control Robert’s epilepsy:

“Sweets. Cakes and pies, jams and jellies, honey on the comb. Perhaps a pinch of sweetsleep in his milk, have you tried that? Just a pinch, to calm him and stop his wretched shaking.

“A pinch?” The apple in the maester’s throat moved up and down as he swallowed. “One small pinch . . . perhaps, perhaps. Not too much, and not too often, yes, I might try . . .”
— ALAYNE I, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

  • Secondly, monitoring the risk factors for seizures, and minimizing exposure inasmuch as possible. This of course requires a general knowledge of said risk factors and how to remedy each of them.

It is these risk factors which start to provide us with insights into Robert Arryn.

*   *   *

The Most Significant Risk Factors

Drawing from the same Cornell University essay, we can see a list of the most common risk factors for seizures. Here is a partial list, highlighting the most prominent risk factors:

Factors that can trigger seizures in people with epilepsy include:

  • Missing just one dose of medication. Many people with epilepsy experience short-term memory problems, which can make remembering to take medication regularly difficult. Using a dose box can help.
  • A sudden stop to the taking of medication
  • Sleep deprivation or disturbed sleep
  • Drug abuse
  • Withdrawal from narcotics

STRESS AND EPILEPSY, JOAN AND SANFORD I. WEILL MEDICAL COLLEGE, CORNELL UNIVERSITY

It’s quite clear here: mismanagement of drug use is perhaps one of the biggest causes of seizures for epileptics. And just for clarity, stress is not listed as a primary risk factor.

With that in mind, observe what maester Colemon says about Robert Arryn’s seizures:

Colemon lingered a moment before following. “My lord, this parley might best be left for another day. His lordship’s spells have grown worse since Lady Lysa’s death. More frequent and more violent. I bleed the child as often as I dare, and mix him dreamwine and milk of the poppy to help him sleep, but . . .”
— ALAYNE I, A FEAST FOR CROWS

While changes in brain physiology can increase the occurrence of seizures, its highly unlikely that this happened as a result of Lysa’s death. Thus, the increasing incidence of Robert’s seizures can only mean one thing:

Robert Arryn is exposed to one or more risk factors that arose after his mother’s death.

The only obvious, semi-related risk factors consist of the death of Robert’s mother and his sleepless nights.

Couldn’t it just be that simple? That Sweetrobin’s increasing seizures are just the products of the stress of his mother’s death? Isn’t that the most simple, least complex answer?

Yes, it could be that simple. However, stopping our investigation at this point discounts other evidence.

I do understand the principle of Occam’s Razor and it’s value in generating hypotheses; however we must remember that Occam’s Razor is also the reason Ruben “The Hurricane” Carter was unjustly imprisoned. We must look at all the evidence before making a decision.

In that case, I allow myself the following question:

What if there is more to the increase in Sweetrobin’s seizures? Are other factors involved?

Looking at the identified risk factors above, drug use and especially withdrawal seems like a prominent risk factor. Could that be at play here?

Obviously I believe so: I believe that a change in Sweetrobin’s medications are the primary reason for his increasing seizures.

This is revealed by closely examining the words of one Petyr Baelish.

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*   *   *

ENTER THE LITTLEFINGER


Mark_Evans_LittlefingerAt the end of the last section, I implied a hypothesis. Let me make it perfectly, unambiguously clear:

Prior to Lysa’s death, Littlefinger provided her with ‘medication’ to manage Sweetrobin’s seizures.

A bold, arguably fantastical assertion.

How do I connect Littlefinger to Robert Arryn, particularly with regards to any ‘medications’ that Sweetrobin may have taken?

First we begin by examining Littlefinger’s pharmacological education.

*   *   *

Knowledge and Access to Poisons

First of all, Littlefinger clearly has an education about poisons, to include the extremely rare and costly Tears of Lys:

The tears of Lys, they call it. A rare and costly thing, clear and sweet as water, and it leaves no trace.
— EDDARD VI, A GAME OF THRONES

“Tears, tears, tears,” she sobbed hysterically. “No need for tears . . . but that’s not what you said in King’s Landing. You told me to put the tears in Jon’s wine, and I did. For Robert, and for us!
— SANSA VII, A STORM OF SWORDS

It should be noted that poisons like the tears of Lys are very difficult to acquire, since they are only made by a select handful of people:

The alchemists of Lys knew the way of it, though, and the Faceless Men of Braavos . . . and the maesters of his order as well, though it was not something talked about beyond the walls of the Citadel.
— PROLOGUE, A CLASH OF KINGS

So for Baelish to both know about the use of the tears, and to have a means of procuring them; we can safely say that Littlefinger is well-versed in the use of poisons.

What is the relevance of Petyr’s knowledge and access to poisons?

*   *   *

Littlefinger Knows More than a Maester

After one of Robert’s shaking spells, Littlefinger vents his frustration and makes a startling suggestion to maester Colemon:

“Sweets. Cakes and pies, jams and jellies, honey on the comb. Perhaps a pinch of sweetsleep in his milk, have you tried that? Just a pinch, to calm him and stop his wretched shaking.”

“A pinch?” The apple in the maester’s throat moved up and down as he swallowed. “One small pinch . . . perhaps, perhaps. Not too much, and not too often, yes, I might try . . .”
— ALAYNE I, A FEAST FOR CROWS

There are several curiosities in this exchange:

  • Petyr did not ask for suggestions from the maester, he leapt directly to proposing sweetsleep. Further, it is interesting that Petyr even goes so far as to suggest various ways to ‘drug’ Sweetrobin’s food: once again suggesting a familiarity with poison and how to disguise it.
  • It’s curious that Petyr was aware of sweetsleep’s applications as an anti-convulsant. If you scour the books, you will find that every other application of sweetsleep is for the purposes of inducing sleep. In fact, the only other person who acknowledges sweetsleep’s anti-convulsant properties is the waif at the House of Black and White. You would therefore expect that this application of sweetsleep is rare, and knowledge of such is rare as well.
  • The idea of using sweetsleep occurs to Petyr before maester Colemon. Indeed, judging by Colemon’s reaction, sweetsleep wasn’t even on the table of possibilities until Petyr suggested it. This implies that Petyr’s knowledge of sweetsleep’s applications was more comprehensive and readily recalled than Colemon’s. A possible suspicion is that Petyr specifically wanted Sweetrobin to take sweetsleep.

These findings obviously prove that Petyr has a conspicuously thorough knowledge of sweetsleep. We are also drawn to suspect Littlefinger’s very precise and informed recommendation of sweetsleep, a drug that readers come to realize is also poisonous.

However these observations do very little to prove that Sweetrobin has been a long-time user of the drug. Nor is there evidence that Littlefinger would be involved in any hypothetical long-term drugging of Sweetrobin.

But that is because I have yet to provide the most damning indication of Sweetrobin’s dependency on sweetsleep.

*   *   *

A Pinch of Sweetsleep

The waif at the House of White and Black provides Arya with very specific guidance on the dosage and use of sweetsleep:

“A few grains will slow a pounding heart and stop a hand from shaking, and make a man feel calm and strong. A pinch will grant a night of deep and dreamless sleep. Three pinches will produce that sleep that does not end. The taste is very sweet, so it is best used in cakes and pies and honeyed wines. Here, you can smell the sweetness.”
— CAT OF THE CANALS, A FEAST FOR CROWS

The waif is very clear: one pinch will knock someone out for a night.

If that is the case, then why is Sweetrobin taking the same dose of sweetsleep with virtually no effect on his alertness?

Observe:

“A pinch?” The apple in the maester’s throat moved up and down as he swallowed. “One small pinch . . . perhaps, perhaps. Not too much, and not too often, yes, I might try . . .”

“A pinch,” Lord Petyr said, “before you bring him forth to meet the lords.”
— ALAYNE I, A FEAST FOR CROWS

“Give his lordship a cup of sweetmilk,” she told the maester. “That will stop him from shaking on the journey down.”
— ALAYNE II, A FEAST FOR CROWS

So they are giving Robert drugs before he receives the lords of the Vale, and prior to descending the Giant’s Lance on horseback. Activities where you would want Robert to be alert and attentive.

Now remember the dosage from the waif…

One pinch of sweetsleep should be knocking Sweetrobin right out. But it isn’t!!

You’ll notice that one pinch of sweetsleep is actually providing the benefits that the waif associated with taking a few grains. This is a significance difference.

NOTE: Keep in mind we’re talking about a ‘sickly’ eight-year-old who has a drug tolerance exceeding that of the average adult male.

Even maester Colemon acknowledges that it takes a pinch to stop Robert’s shaking:

“It was too soon. My lady, you do not understand. As I’ve told the Lord Protector, a pinch of sweetsleep will prevent the shaking, but it does not leave the flesh, and in time . . .”
— ALAYNE II, A FEAST FOR CROWS

Again, compare this to the waif’s information. Further, remember that the waif has spent her entire life dedicated to poisons at the House of Black and White. It therefore seems clear:

Sweetrobin exhibits a tolerance to the effects of sweetsleep. It takes a larger dose to create the desired effect.

This suggests long-term exposure to the drug.

This look at the dosage and apparent drug tolerance is pretty damning. Martin expressly used the word pinch to describe a certain dosage and described very specifically the effect of such dosage. Therefore the fact that Sweetrobin needs a larger dose to achieve the same effect should be highly alarming.

The conclusion that Sweetrobin suffers from long-term exposure to sweetsleep seems conclusive, irrefutable.

So if Sweetrobin was exposed to sweetsleep over a long period of time, we have to address the logistical concerns. This leads us to Lysa Tully and a major revelation.

NOTE: Before moving on, I’d like to point something out. Given that Littlefinger knows so much about sweetsleep and how to use it, isn’t interesting that he suggests to use a ‘pinch’ instead of a few grains?

Could it be that Littlefinger already knew about Sweetrobin’s drug tolerance?

*   *   *

A Mother’s Milk

In light of Robert’s drug tolerance and the implications of long-term exposure… we have to ask something:

Who was giving the drug to Sweetrobin? How?

How did maester Colemon not know about this?

Where was the sweetsleep procured?

Why?

The answers are all rather obvious, once you look for them:

  • It was Lysa herself who was drugging Robert. This is a parcel in Lysa’s reasons for feeding Robert herself: it allowed her the privacy to drug any foods or milk. I’m obviously not referring to any instance where Robert actually breastfeeds, but when he eats or drinks (perhaps expressed milk) in privacy with Lysa.
  • Colemon didn’t know because of the aforementioned reasons, Lysa’s secrecy. Furthermore, Robert Arryn is widely regarded as a sickly boy in general, Colemon would be unlikely to recognize any effects of sweetsleep.
  • The sweetsleep could have easily been procured while Lysa was in King’s Landing. Recalling that Jon Arryn was in King’s Landing, it seems likely that Littlefinger procured the Tears of Lys while he too was in the city. In that case, he most certainly could have procured sweetsleep.
  • A clear motive for Lysa using sweetsleep is because it treated Robert’s seizures. She is an obsessively loving mother, it is entirely within her character to do something unethical in order to ‘protect’ her child. She is the ultimate helicopter parent.

Collectively, I now have enough data to provide you with a devastating conclusion that demonstrates the sheer sociopathy of Petyr Baelish.

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*   *   *

A MOCKINGBIRD’S GENIUS


iA8N3ojFxcTjmOccam’s Razor seems to pierce the ideas in this essay like a lance. The idea that Lysa was drugging her son for perhaps years may seem needlessly convoluted.

I respect that concern.

However, when you examine the seemingly small details, a more complex truth emerges. Between the suspicious guidance from Littlefinger, the apparent drug tolerance, the applicability of the scientific ‘risk factors’… A more sinister picture emerges.

Ask yourself the following question:

How can Littlefinger benefit from Sweetrobin’s secret tolerance of sweetsleep?

First of all, maester Colemon is unaware of Robert’s long-term exposure, leading him to administer increasingly dangerous doses.

Maester Colemon makes a staggeringly important observation in A Feast for Crows:

“It was too soon. My lady, you do not understand. As I’ve told the Lord Protector, a pinch of sweetsleep will prevent the shaking, but it does not leave the flesh, and in time . . .”
— ALAYNE II, A FEAST FOR CROWS

Herein lies the rub:

Colemon has no idea that Robert already has a ton of sweetsleep in his flesh.

Therefore, Robert is much closer to harm than Colemon realizes.

There is something crucial here:

  • Littlefinger knows about Robert’s long-term exposure and the hazards of sweetsleep, because he almost certainly provided Lysa with the medicine.
  • Yet recall that Petyr very specifically asked Colemon to begin administering sweetsleep to Robert.

*   *   *

Colemon’s Suspicions

The books even provide us with distinct evidence that Robert is much closer to harm than expected:

“Did you observe any shaking while you were with him?”

“His fingers trembled a little bit when I held his hand, that’s all. He says you put something vile in his milk.”

“Vile?” Colemon blinked at her, and the apple in his throat moved up and down. “I merely . . . is he bleeding from the nose?”
— ALAYNE II, A FEAST FOR CROWS

Pay close attention to the subtext… whatever Colemon may have put in Robert’s milk, it was not intended to have a vile taste. Let me point something out regarding Robert’s demand to Colemon immediately prior to said milk:

Robert sniffled. “Maester Colemon put something vile in my milk last night, I could taste it. I told him I wanted sweetmilk, but he wouldn’t bring me any. Not even when I commanded him. I am the lord, he should do what I say. No one does what I say.”
— ALAYNE II, A FEAST FOR CROWS

Taken together you can see what likely happened. There are really only two possibilities:

  • Colemon did indeed provide Sweetrobin with the milk drugged with sweetsleep, or…
  • the maester simply gave Robert milk flavored with honey or something similar.

The subtext is what makes this important: Colemon is clearly surprised to hear that the milk was ‘vile’, because he was ‘merely’ acquiescing to Robert’s command.

What Colemon is noticing is that Sweetrobin is developing an altered sense of taste. It means that Robert’s physiology is changing, his health is further deteriorating. This is why he asks about the nosebleed… because he is concerned that the sweetsleep ‘buildup’ is beginning to have noticeable effects.

It is quite clear that Colemon is both surprised and worried that the drug has affected Robert so noticeably in such a short period:

“I try, my lady, yet his fits grow ever more violent, and his blood is so thin I dare not leech him any more. Sweetsleep . . . you are certain he was not bleeding from the nose?”
— ALAYNE II, A FEAST FOR CROWS

Colemon seems obviously perplexed.

Not only does he seem perplexed, but he seems to realize that Robert needs to purge the sweetsleep from his system:

“Just give him a cup of the sweetmilk before we go, and another at the feast, and there should be no trouble.”

“Very well.” They paused at the foot of the stairs. “But this must be the last. For half a year, or longer.”
— ALAYNE II, A FEAST FOR CROWS

This further reinforces the idea that Sweetrobin’s ‘sweetsleep toxicity’ is much worse than Colemon anticipated.

*   *   *

You may have already realized the implications of everything I’ve put forth in this essay:

Littlefinger wants Colemon to unwittingly overdose Robert, perhaps even killing him.

Thus, maester Colemon will take the blame for Littlefinger’s subtle method of eliminating Robert Arryn.

Now ask yourself:

Does this sound absurd? Or does it sound exactly like the kind of thing Littlefinger would do?

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<the mannifesto>

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15 thoughts on “The Mockingbird’s Sweet Poison

  1. Steve

    Good analysis and I agree with much of what you said with two exceptions:

    The subtext of Coleman later on May also suggest he was either giving SR a half dose, but perhaps with honey, or a complete placebo. The nose bleeding leads me to think the former, but both seem more plausible than SR’s physiology changing.

    Second, I always assumed LF ordered out for the Tears. He could easily have a vial sent to him with a whore he rented or purchased from the free city’s.

    Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Santulan

      In the show, after Robert Baratheon’s bastards are murdered, Ros cannot serve a customer because she is crying from mourning the death of one of the kids… When LF talks to her, he tells her that he previously did have a girl from Lys who couldn’t stay happy.. He later he mitigated his losses from her by giving her to a friend who did things normal people wouldn’t.

      He could have obtained the tears of Lys like that

      Reply
  2. supertilt

    I don’t think it’s fair to assume that Roberts physiology is changing from the sweetsleep based on his complaint that his sweet milk tasted “vile”.

    Coleman was likely alarmed by Robert asking for sweetmilk- received what a child *should* considered to be sweet-milk, and subsequently found it disguising. Colman realized at that point that Robert was receiving sweet sleep in his milk nightly and immediately began thinking of potential side affects to be aware of. Asking about his nose was likely immediate concern as a whole, and a likely effect of withdrawalor just sheer over use.

    A child will consider anything they get to be “vile” when they were expecting it to taste a certain way and it doesn’t. They are dramatic that way. Doesn’t mean his taste buds are changing.

    Also, I think it’s pretty conclusive that anything Lysa was doing was influenced by LF, and even if the sweet sleep was her idea to begin with, which is unlikely, she would have ran it by LF first.

    There is little doubt that LF didn’t know about the sweet sleep from the beginning.

    Reply
    1. cantuse Post author

      A passage from the book helps to clear the matter up:

      “Give his lordship a cup of sweetmilk,” she told the maester. “That will stop him from shaking on the journey down.”

      “He had a cup not three days past,” Colemon objected.

      “And wanted another last night, which you refused him.”

      “It was too soon. My lady, you do not understand. As I’ve told the Lord Protector, a pinch of sweetsleep will prevent the shaking, but it does not leave the flesh, and in time . . .”
      — ALAYNE II, A FEAST FOR CROWS

      As you can see, maester Colemon is clearly saying that he did not give Sweetrobin any sweetsleep on the night when Robert says the milk was vile. Therefore Colemon should know that Robert is not receiving sweetsleep on a nightly basis.

      If you brainstorm all the possible scenarios regarding the vile milk, you come to a list much like this one:

      1. Colemon was lying: He did put sweetsleep in Robert’s milk. This would be consistent with two possibilities. First, that Colemon did want to poison Robert. Second, that Colemon was simply obeying Sweetrobin’s order for sweetmilk.
      2. Colemon was lying: He did put something “vile” (innocent or otherwise) into the milk.
      3. Colemon flavored Robert’s milk with something sweet but harmless, like honey. This would be apropos if Colemon simply wanted Robert to believe he was drinking sweetmilk.
      4. Colemon did not put anything in Robert’s milk: someone else put sweetsleep in Robert’s milk.
      5. Colemon did not put anything in Robert’s milk: someone else put something sweet (but harmless—like honey) in Robert’s milk.
      6. Colemon did not put anything in Robert’s milk. Some other party put something “vile” in Robert’s milk.
      7. Nothing was added to Robert’s milk at all. This would suggest that Sweetrobin simply believed that something “vile” was in his milk.

      If you extract the three major explanations for all of these possibilities, they are:

      • Something sweet was put into Robert’s milk, whether sweetsleep or otherwise and regardless of whether or not Colemon is lying. For whatever reason however, Sweetrobin says that the milk tastes vile. This doesn’t make sense because no one (regardless of motive) would add a sweetener with the desire for the milk to taste vile.
      • Something vile was added to the milk. If this was purposeful on Colemon’s behalf, he would not have displayed surprise. If his motives were sinister, you would expect him to have a more rehearsed alibi instead of the confusion he shows. If someone else put the vile flavor in the milk, this would be unexpected to Colemon.
      • The other major implication is that someone else was perhaps drugging the milk. However, due to a lack of viable suspects and the likelihood that Colemon is one of the last handlers of the milk, this seems unlikely.

      What emerges is that under no circumstances should Robert have detected a vile flavor, otherwise Colemon would have expected Robert’s complaints.

      While you’re right that it could just be a child imagining a flavor, it makes complete sense for a ‘family doctor’ like Colemon to at least explore the implications, particularly regarding a child as sickly as Robert. This obviously explains Colemon’s immediate concern about nosebleeds: Colemon wants to evaluate whether or not the perceived vile taste might be indicative of a worsening condition.

      Notice that Sansa tells Colemon that Robert was not bleeding from the nose. Upon learning this, you can see how Colemon tentatively dismisses his concerns: if you think about it, he is effectively agreeing with you that Robert imagined the flavor.

      However, I would like to point out that a change in the sense of taste or smell, and nosebleeds are both signs of worsening epilepsy in real-world medicine. This provides the pretext for Colemon’s concerns. Again, you’re right; if Robert imagined the flavor then there was no change in underlying physiology. However, if Colemon’s concerns were valid, the changing senses would be a sign of a deteriorating physiology.

      Reply
      1. fromage10x

        I think this all actually points to Coleman giving him plain milk on that one night. Since SR is being poisoned with sweet sleep, his milk normally tastes sweet, but this one cup was not as sweet, and thus “vile”.

        Ultimately this just re-enforces the thesis of the article, that SR is so regularly getting the drug in his milk that when it is not there it tastes wrong to him.

  3. Lukas

    Excellent post! One thing that bothers me throughout it though, is that Coleman, a trained maester, is ok with giving Robyn a pinch to deal with the shaking when he should know that it would knock a grown man out. Two reasons I can think of for this are either that he says a pinch in order not to seem disrespectful to Littlefinger and simply says a pinch but gives him a few grains, or that GRRM made a mistake.

    Any thoughts?

    Reply
    1. cantuse Post author

      What I keep wondering is if the Faceless Men are more alert to the anti-convulsant properties than the maesters. After all, it was the waif who mentioned the use of a few grains, whereas the maester seems content with a pinch.

      It could be that maester Colemon simply doesn’t not know the correct dosage. It seems more than likely considering the waif’s dedication to poisons goes back decades.

      There are some quotes that show Colemon is indeed giving pinches to Robert, so while he could indeed be repeating ‘pinch’ to Littlefinger out of respect, he is still using an oversized dose.

      Sure it could be a Martin mistake, but the major issue with that is that Martin specifically covered the topic of sweetsleep dosage and even mentioned it in units of ‘pinches’. For him to reuse the same terminology elsewhere -by accident- seems unreasonable. He does make mistakes but I believe the specificity here makes it unlikely.

      Reply
  4. Wolfson

    Whether Littlefinger arranged for Robert to receive sweetsleep prior to Lysa’s death or not, it does seem clear that he is deliberately trying to hasten Robert’s death by giving him sweetsleep now. That explains his quick work to bring Harry the Heir under his control; when Robert dies, he needs to have the next legitimate ruler of the Vale in place to maintain his own authority.

    One interesting point, though, is that it is Sansa, not Littlefinger himself, who orders that Robert drink sweetmilk prior to the descent from the Eyrie. Do you think that Littlefinger deliberately put Sansa in that position in order to make her complicit in Robert’s ultimate death and bind her to his plans? Or was this extra dose unintended, potentially leading to Robert dying sooner than expected, or an emotional backlash from Sansa when she finally realizes what’s going on?

    Reply
    1. cantuse Post author

      I knew about Sansa’s position, but something didn’t occur to me until now…

      I commented elsewhere (r/asoiaf I think) that Colemon would not even know why Robert’s death happened so soon, because of the information withheld by Littlefinger.

      If as we both agree Sansa has been put into a situation where she is conditioned to pressure for the medicine, then this doubles down on the misdirection: Colemon in his confusion could only really point the finger at Sansa at best, and neither of them would be the wiser as to what really caused Robert’s death.

      In a way, it’s the perfect poisoning.

      Reply
      1. khamwas

        Sansa is a player now. She is playing the game.

        Are you aware of the theory that Robert is gifted in similar ways to Bran, and this is one reason he has such a high tolerance to sweet sleep?

      2. khamwas

        The basis comes from the abilities of Bran and the other stark children coming from heritage. The idea is that Caitlyn and Lysa decend from house Wendt which has a folklore of warg/skinchanger like abilities. The reason the Stark children are so gifted is because the Stark blood mixing with the Wendt blood is like a recessive recessive trait showing through strongly.

        The argument here is that Lysa has the same Wendt heritage, and the Arryn’s have warg/skinchanger folklore with their Sigil animal (the eagle?). This results in Robert Arryn also displaying the same propensity for these strong abilities as Bran.

        The idea is that Robert’s seizures are tied to the weirwood throne he sits upon and the COTF. The sweetsleep helps with his seizures, but since his powers are so strong, he has an incredible tolerance for sweetsleep that only gets stronger as he continues to be treated with it.

  5. AeroDoe

    A taste-shift (or any sensory shift) in an epileptic’s senses can in fact be a seizure. It’s just a seizure w/o the shaking, tension or loss of consciousness. Sometimes it’s a precursor for a full-on seizure that’s imminent. But both are seizures.

    I’ve always believed that Lysa was medicating SweetRobin. Whether it was because Littlefinger advised it or because she was one of those No-Maester-Knows-More-Than-I-Do mothers. Or ’cause she was a flipping Mother Munchausen by proxy. I actually believed it to be the last one until only recently. The feeding him in privacy is odd as is her refusal to let Sweet Robin be fostered.

    Lysa frightens me more than the ghost of the Rat Cook. She’s terrifying!

    Reply
  6. stillbillmd

    Is it possible that Robert’s addiction/long-time use came because Lysa was using sweetsleep herself? And that she was passing it to him through nursing? Robert seems to have always been “sickly” and I guess it’s most often attributed to Jon being old. But what if he’s the Westeros version of a crack baby? Lisa is certainly unhinged and shows the signs of mental illness. She also acts like an addict at times.

    Reply
    1. cantuse Post author

      This was something we discussed on the reddit thread associated with this post. I am going to eventually edit the idea into the original essay. It’s a really good possibility, especially when you consider that sweetsleep has to be mixed with something sweet like honeyed wines and sweets etc; observe that Lysa has gotten rather plump as well.

      Reply

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