Home / Books / The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister | Review

The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister | Review


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On November 14, 2013
Last modified:November 14, 2013

Summary:

The value in "The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister" is that it makes you want to return to the original source and context of the quote whether you’ve already read the books and want to freshen your memory or are approaching them for the first time.

wit-and-wisom-tyrion-lannister
(Bantam Books)

The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister is a compilation of quotes by the much-loved character of Tyrion Lannister in the A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R.R. Martin (more popularly referred to these days as Game of Thrones due to the popularity of the TV series).

As an avid reader, I collect notable quotes from both real figures and fictional characters alike, particularly when they combine the titular “wit and wisdom” of someone. Once in a while you run across a veritable treasure trove source of quotable gems. Tyrion being one of these, I was keen on the possibility at having them indelibly gathered together.

The problem here with this book is that as much as I adore Tyrion (who doesn’t really?), he is best in context. Whether it’s verbal jousting with his siblings or a bon mot in the heat of melee, the Imp is matchless. But, removed from the setting, the punch is often gone.  For those who haven’t read the series, think of his wide-eyed “Oh, f**k me” during Season 2 Epiosde 9’s Battle of the Blackwater.

This was arguably one of the best moments of Season 2, but hardly something to quote outright.  This is true of many of Tyrion’s best quips, so pulling his lines out into a standalone collection doesn’t work well. Consider the following:

“What joy to be a dwarf.”

“My sister has mistaken me for a mushroom. She keeps me in the dark and feeds me s**t.”

“Pissing is the least of my talents. You ought to see me s**t.”

In context these could all be seen, by turns, as witty, acerbic, remarkably astute or just outright funny. But removed from context they feel uninspired. Now compare them to the sayings of someone like Oscar Wilde:

“True friends stab you in the front.”

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.”

“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

It doesn’t matter that we don’t know the original context of these sayings. They are universally understood, instantly relatable and oh, so true.

If there’s value in a collection like The Wit  and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister, it’s that it makes you want to return to the original source and context of the quotes whether you’ve already read the books and want to refreshen your memory or are approaching them for the first time.

wit-and-wisdom-tyrion-lannister-inside
(Bantam Books)

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The value in "The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister" is that it makes you want to return to the original source and context of the quote whether you’ve already read the books and want to freshen your memory or are approaching them for the first time.
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About Andrea Sefler

Andrea Sefler
Andrea is a consultant and technical writer for various scientific software and instrumentation companies. She has a Ph.D. in chemistry from Berkeley and has never met a genre of music or books that she hasn’t liked. As a gamer since the days of the Apple II, Andrea can relate any number of hair-raising tales about role-playing games stored on 360 kB 5.25” floppy disks and may, someday, put them to paper.