From chapter 33 of A Game of Thrones:

"It's not murder I find amusing, Lord Stark, it's you. You rule like a man dancing on rotten ice. I daresay you will make a noble splash. I believe I heard the first crack this morning." said by Lord Baelish.

"The first and last," said Ned. "I've had my fill."

What is the meaning of 'crack'? And what's "I have had my fill"? What are they talking about?

  • 33
    This is an interesting question because it highlights the things in our environment that we take for granted. As someone that grew up in a temperate climate and seen frozen ponds/For regularly, there is no ambiguity about wh/coldat cracking of rotten ice is. But at the same time, I can totally see how a huge portion of the world's population would not make that correlation, not having had the same experiences with cold weather. Makes me wonder how many things that others take for granted wouldn't make sense to me. Very nice question. Sep 19, 2019 at 19:11
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    @Voldemort'sWrath This one - and yes this is on topic but people will always insist on closing them.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Sep 19, 2019 at 20:18
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    @TheLethalCarrot out of curiosity, wouldn't this question be a better fit for EL or EL&U? (btw I don't usually participate here, I just like reading the Q&As)
    – Dzyann
    Sep 19, 2019 at 23:29
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    @Dzyann On top of what Mazyra has said. This fits both sites perfectly fine, there is some overlap. Similar to how we overlap with M&TV. Just because it is on topic on one site doesn’t make it off topic on another and in this specific case they wouldn’t have gotten Aegon’s excellent answer had it been posted there.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Sep 20, 2019 at 7:04
  • 7
    I think this is more a question for ell.stackexchange.com.
    – Marvel Boy
    Sep 20, 2019 at 13:37

2 Answers 2


"You rule like a man dancing on rotten ice"

He's taking foolish risks.
"On rotten ice" means melting ice, which will soon crack and break, plunging the "dancer" into freezing water, where he will be swept under the ice to drown.

"I believe I heard the first crack this morning"

The first crack in the ice, meaning the ice will soon break.

Baelish is saying "Your style of rule is dangerous to you, you are putting yourself in danger, and your action this morning will have repercussions that you will regret".

Essentially he's saying that Ned is shooting himself in the foot.

By "had my fill" Ned is saying he doesn't want to rule anymore. It's a metaphor taken from eating/drinking.
"Would you like some more food?"
You could answer "No thank you, I've had my fill", however "I've had my fill" is generally taken in a negative way, so it wouldn't be a polite thing to say at dinner.

However the following is perfectly acceptable (no one would think you've been eating zombies)

"Would you like to watch The Walking Dead with me?"
"No thanks, I've had my fill of zombies."

  • 21
    "I've had my fill of x" is a more polite way of saying "I'm sick of x". Sep 19, 2019 at 14:07
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    I like zombies, but I couldn’t eat a whole one. Sep 20, 2019 at 10:41
  • 6
    "The first crack in the ice, meaning the ice will soon break" That's not really an accurate causal relationship; it would be more accurate to say that the first crack in the ice demonstrates that the ice is crackable and usually suggests further cracks (and eventually breakage) to come. Sep 20, 2019 at 12:52
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit His post doesn't state a causal relationship, merely a correlation. When one is walking on "rotten" (thin, melting) ice, the sound of the ice cracking is soon followed by the ice collapsing. The cause for both is the same: the failure of the structural integrity of the ice, which is caused by the load being greater than the current structure and temperature of ice can support.
    – trlkly
    Sep 20, 2019 at 14:04
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    Since you are explaining some English idioms, it may also be useful to use the word "extended simile" and to flat out state that the "crack" is not literal, but figurative. The Asker will encounter such usage greatly outside the scope of Science Fiction.
    – trlkly
    Sep 20, 2019 at 14:42

"I believe I heard the first crack this morning."

Lord Baelish was referring to the quarrel between King Robert and Eddard Stark on proposed murder of Princess Daenerys Stormborn. Robert wanted her murdered along with her unborn baby to deal with the threat of potential Dothraki invasion to restore Targaryen monarchy. All quotes are from the same chapter.

“Robert, I beg of you,” Ned pleaded, “hear what you are saying. You are talking of murdering a child.”

“The whore is pregnant!” The king’s fist slammed down on the council table loud as a thunderclap. “I warned you this would happen, Ned. Back in the barrowlands, I warned you, but you did not care to hear it. Well, you’ll hear it now. I want them dead, mother and child both, and that fool Viserys as well. Is that plain enough for you? I want them dead.”

The other councillors were all doing their best to pretend that they were somewhere else. No doubt they were wiser than he was. Eddard Stark had seldom felt quite so alone. “You will dishonor yourself forever if you do this.”

“Then let it be on my head, so long as it is done. I am not so blind that I cannot see the shadow of the axe when it is hanging over my own neck.”

“There is no axe,” Ned told his king. “Only the shadow of a shadow, twenty years removed... if it exists at all.”

Most of his council agreed.

“This ‘dragonspawn’ is in his mother’s belly,” Ned said. “Even Aegon did no conquering until after he was weaned.”

“Gods! You are stubborn as an aurochs, Stark.” The king looked around the council table. “Have the rest of you mislaid your tongues? Will no one talk sense to this frozen-faced fool?”

Varys gave the king an unctuous smile and laid a soft hand on Ned’s sleeve. “I understand your qualms, Lord Eddard, truly I do. It gave me no joy to bring this grievous news to council. It is a terrible thing we contemplate, a vile thing. Yet we who presume to rule must do vile things for the good of the realm, howevermuch it pains us.

Lord Renly shrugged. “The matter seems simple enough to me. We ought to have had Viserys and his sister killed years ago, but His Grace my brother made the mistake of listening to Jon Arryn.


Grand Maester Pycelle cleared his throat, a process that seemed to take some minutes. “My order serves the realm, not the ruler. Once I counseled King Aerys as loyally as I counsel King Robert now, so I bear this girl child of his no ill will. Yet I ask you this-should war come again, how many soldiers will die? How many towns will burn? How many children will be ripped from their mothers to perish on the end of a spear?” He stroked his luxuriant white beard, infinitely sad, infinitely weary. “Is it not wiser, even kinder, that Daenerys Targaryen should die now so that tens of thousands might live?


Littlefinger was the last. As Ned looked to him, Lord Petyr stifled a yawn. “When you find yourself in bed with an ugly woman, the best thing to do is close your eyes and get on with it,” he declared. “Waiting won’t make the maid any prettier. Kiss her and be done with it.” “Kiss her?” Ser Barristan repeated, aghast. “A steel kiss,” said Littlefinger.

Eddard and Barristan Selmy on the other hand were of the opinion that it was dishonourable. Robert was enraged and told Eddard to do as he was commanded to do. Ned also made several comments that insulted Robert.

“Mercy is never a mistake, Lord Renly,” Ned replied. “On the Trident, Ser Barristan here cut down a dozen good men, Robert’s friends and mine. When they brought him to us, grievously wounded and near death, Roose Bolton urged us to cut his throat, but your brother said, ‘I will not kill a man for loyalty, nor for fighting well,’ and sent his own maester to tend Ser Barristan’s wounds.” He gave the king a long cool look. “Would that man were here today.”

Robert had shame enough to blush. “It was not the same,” he complained. “Ser Barristan was a knight of the Kingsguard.”

“Whereas Daenerys is a fourteen-year-old girl.” Ned knew he was pushing this well past the point of wisdom, yet he could not keep silent. “Robert, I ask you, what did we rise against Aerys Targaryen for, if not to put an end to the murder of children?”

“To put an end to Targaryens!” the king growled.

Your Grace, I never knew you to fear Rhaegar.” Ned fought to keep the scorn out of his voice, and failed. “Have the years so unmanned you that you tremble at the shadow of an unborn child?”

Robert purpled. “No more, Ned,” he warned, pointing. “Not another word. Have you forgotten who is king here?”

“No, Your Grace,” Ned replied. “Have you?”


“Mormont craves a royal pardon,” Lord Renly reminded them.

“Desperately,” Varys said, “yet he craves life even more. By now, the princess nears Vaes Dothrak, where it is death to draw a blade. If I told you what the Dothraki would do to the poor man who used one on a khaleesi, none of you would sleep tonight.” He stroked a powdered cheek. “Now, poison... the tears of Lys, let us say. Khal Drogo need never know it was not a natural death.”

Grand Maester Pycelle’s sleepy eyes flicked open. He squinted suspiciously at the eunuch.

“Poison is a coward’s weapon,” the king complained.

Ned had heard enough. “You send hired knives to kill a fourteen year-old girl and still quibble about honor?” He pushed back his chair and stood. “Do it yourself, Robert. The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. Look her in the eyes before you kill her. See her tears, hear her last words. You owe her that much at least.”

In the end, Eddard resigned. Robert then threatened to have him killed in anger (He did not mean it).

“I will not be part of murder, Robert. Do as you will, but do not ask me to fix my seal to it.”

For a moment Robert did not seem to understand what Ned was saying. Defiance was not a dish he tasted often. Slowly his face changed as comprehension came. His eyes narrowed and a flush crept up his neck past the velvet collar. He pointed an angry finger at Ned. “You are the King’s Hand, Lord Stark. You will do as I command you, or I’ll find me a Hand who will.”

“I wish him every success.” Ned unfastened the heavy clasp that clutched at the folds of his cloak, the ornate silver hand that was his badge of office. He laid it on the table in front of the king, saddened by the memory of the man who had pinned it on him, the friend he had loved. “I thought you a better man than this, Robert. I thought we had made a nobler king.”

Robert’s face was purple. “Out, “ he croaked, choking on his rage. “Out, damn you, I’m done with you. What are you waiting for? Go, run back to Winterfell. And make certain I never look on your face again, or I swear, I’ll have your head on a spike!”

Baelish compared Eddard's policies and behaviour as akin to a man dancing on rotten ice, liable to break. He considered this disagreement between the King and the Hand as the first crack in the ice.

"The first and last," said Ned. "I've had my fill."

Here, Eddard says he would no longer serve as the Hand. He had had enough of serving as the Hand and he was going home. (Which he never did as Robert reinstated him and made his peace).

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