26

In a previous question it was established Who actually sent the assassin to kill Bran, however, I fail to understand why would the culprit choose a very expensive and easily recognizable dagger and give it to the assassin, when any blade, no matter how cheap it is, would do fine as long as it can cut through flesh.

Even if Joffrey wanted to set up his uncle Tyrion from whom he stole the dagger, the trail left by this evidence would still lead to his house (well, actually, his mother's house, but you know what I mean).

The only reasonable explanation is that no one considered a failure as an option and a backup plan was never created. Was this supposed to show how careless and reckless the culprit is?

  • 1
    One would think that any half-decent assassin should know better anyways. Maybe he figured there was some sort of grim ceremony behind killing someone highborn, though sentimentality isn't exactly the mark of a refined killer (except maybe this guy). – Nick T Apr 2 '12 at 3:04
45

I've been rereading the series, and fortunately came across this section just yesterday (book 3, A Storm of Swords. Viewpoint of Tyrion, about page 550 of 786 in the version I have):

The blade Joff chose was nice and plain. No goldwork, no jewels in the hilt, no silver inlay on the blade. King Robert never wore it, had likely forgotten he owned it. Yet the Valyrian steel was deadly sharp... sharp enough to slice through skin, flesh, and muscle in one quick stroke. I am no stranger to Valyrian steel. But he had been, hadn’t he? Else he would never have been so foolish as to pick Littlefinger’s knife.

A Storm of Swords, Tyrion VIII

So, it's a combination of two things:

  1. Joffery didn't know what Valyrian steel was at that time
  2. The hilt of the dagger looked ordinary enough to the uneducated eye

I don't give Joffery enough credit to weave another layer of cunning into this - I highly doubt he ever aimed to implicate someone else, just get away with a remarkably simple scheme.

  • This is exactly the kind of answer I wanted. Could you just add which book in the series did you read this in? – Goran Jovic Apr 2 '12 at 8:05
  • It's book 3, A Storm of Swords. Viewpoint of Tyrion, about page 550 of 786 in the version I have. – Sorcerer13 Apr 3 '12 at 1:55
11

As was explained in the answer to the question you linked to, Joffrey set up this plan rather quickly in an attempt to impress his father. Given that he is young and inexperienced in this sort of thing, it makes sense that the plan is flimsy. His youth and inexperience also explains why he would just assume the assassination would go as planned. He obviously doesn't hold Starks in very high esteem and would have assumed the assassin would succeed.

11

I believe the answer is given in a Jaime chapter in A Storm of Swords, when the following conversation between Cersei and Jaime takes place.

"Oh, don't be absurd." Cersei closed the window. "Yes, I hoped the boy would die. So did you. Even Robert thought that would have been for the best. 'We kill our horses when they break a leg, and our dogs when they go blind, but we are too weak to give the same mercy to crippled children,' he told me. He was blind himself at the time, from drink."

Robert? Jaime had guarded the king long enough to know that Robert Baratheon said things in his cups that he would have denied angrily the next day. "Were you alone when Robert said this?"

"You don't think he said it to Ned Stark, I hope? Of course we were alone. Us and the children." Cersei removed her hairnet and draped it over a bedpost, then shook out her golden curls. "Perhaps Myrcella sent this man with the dagger, do you think so?"

It was meant as mockery, but she'd cut right to the heart of it, Jaime saw at once. "Not Myrcella. Joffrey."

A Storm of Swords, Jaime IX

The observant ones will have noticed this already in ASOS, when Tyrion and Joffrey have their interlude about "Valyrian steel" just before Joffrey is assassinated. The place where Joffrey gets his reforged Ice Valyrian steel sword - and hacks Tyrions wedding present books apart he says the following:

"Have a care, Your Grace," Ser Addam Marbrand warned the king. "Valyrian steel is perilously sharp."

"I remember." Joffrey brought Widow's Wail down in a savage two-handed slice, onto the book that Tyrion had given him. The heavy leather cover parted at a stroke. "Sharp! I told you, I am no stranger to Valyrian steel." It took him half a dozen further cuts to hack the thick tome apart, and the boy was breathless by the time he was done. Sansa could feel her husband struggling with his fury as Ser Osmund Kettleblack shouted, "I pray you never turn that wicked edge on me, sire."

A Storm of Swords, Sansa IV

Basically, what probably happened is: Robert - while drunk - says it would be a mercy to kill Bran, rather than let him grow up to be a cripple. Joffrey in an attempt to ingratiate himself with his estranged father grabs the nearest dagger he can find (from his father's armoury) and hires the nearest catspaw he can find to do the deed. He doesn't plan this, he just does it. We are not privy to any more detailed reasoning (nor will we ever be).

It does seem like Joffrey knew the dagger was Valyrian steel, as he mentions it in the Tyrion scene mentioned above. So it would seem that Joffrey is just that stupid, and didn't consider that the dagger would be traced back to him.

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    "and didn't consider that the dagger would be traced back to him" - or, didn't care. He thinks he's doing what the king wants, and it's clear from everything else he does that he habitually expects to be able to act with impunity. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 3 '15 at 9:13
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Yes, that was exactly it.

Joffrey is repeatedly characterized as reckless and criminally short-sighted.

He takes after his mother, and shares her habit of underestimating everyone else. However, Joffrey is not as subtle as Cersi, and shares much of the worse parts of his father's impulsiveness and overconfidence.

All of this leads to him creating a plan that demonstrates a certain level of low cunning, but which isn't very well thought out.

4

Joffrey is just that stupid and arrogant.

1

This is actually a combination of things but mostly due to the show changing something to make it make less sense. I've covered this slightly in my question Why did the show use a fancy looking Valyrian steel dagger? As @Sorcerer13 points out the dagger wasn't actually fancy in the books and this was a change made by the show which isn't exactly clear as to why. This has even been explicitly stated by George R. R. Martin on Not A Blog.

A handsome blade, I think. Though rather completely different from the dagger in the books, which was far plainer (though made of Valryian steel, with a dragonbone grip).

Not A Blog, Swords for Sale

As for why with this dagger, even though it was Valyrian steel, well Joffery hadn't known about it until later on.

The blade Joff chose was nice and plain. No goldwork, no jewels in the hilt, no silver inlay on the blade. King Robert never wore it, had likely forgotten he owned it. Yet the Valyrian steel was deadly sharp . . . sharp enough to slice through skin, flesh, and muscle in one quick stroke. I am no stranger to Valyrian steel. But he had been, hadn't he? Else he would never have been so foolish as to pick Littlefinger's knife.

A Storm of Swords, Tyrion VIII

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