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Disclaimer: I only watched the TV show, I did not read the books.


In Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 6 (Blood of my Blood), we see Samwell Tarly leaves his father's home and, in the process, steals Heartsbane, which has been the ancestral sword of House Tarly for centuries and one of the very few Valyrian steel swords left in Westeros. This makes it extremely valuable.

We see that this dialogue takes place during the dinner:

Samwell: I traveled south under orders of the Lord Commander. He wants me to...

Randyll: I read your letter. You're to be a... a Maester.

Samwell: Yes. And once I have my chain, I'll return to Castle Black.

Randyll: I thought the Night's Watch might make a man of you. Something resembling a man, at least. You managed to stay soft... and fat. Your nose buried in books. Spending your life reading about the achievements of better men. I'll wage you still can't sit on a horse or wield a sword!

So, we know that Randyll has a very bad relationship with his first-born son, Samwell:

  • He sends Sam to the Wall on his 18th birthday, under the threat of death.(Samwell tells Jon about this in Season 1 Episode 4)
  • He's disappointed in him because "he's not a real man" and he's fat.
  • He's extremely angry at him for bringing a Wildling woman into his house.

There are probably more negative aspects about their relationship that don't come to mind right now. But it's very clear that Randyll basically doesn't care at all for Sam.

That being said: Why didn't Randyll go after Sam in the morning after Sam left with Heartsbane? Or at least send a team of men after him? Randyll knows exactly where Samwell will go, he knows where to find him (see the dialogue above). Therefore, it would be very easy to go after him and take the sword back.

It would make sense, given both the sword's high value and Randyll's "I-don't-give-a-crap-about-you" attitude towards Samwell.

So, why doesn't that happen? Am I missing something?

  • 5
    I always interpreted it as Randyll's amusement and something akin to admiration on Sam's feat. As long as Sam holds the sword, it is still in the family and since Sam can't procreate by laws, when he dies, the sword will come back to Hornhill, courtesy of NW. He never would have expected such a daring move by Sam and came to admire the fact that NW made a man out of him afterall. Just like he scolded Dickon that the "Stupid boy" should kneel to Dany but then smiled when Dickon refused to kneel and joined his father. – Aegon Feb 13 '18 at 5:17
  • @Aegon who is "NW"? – Timothy Feb 14 '18 at 7:47
  • @Timothy Night's Watch – Aegon Feb 14 '18 at 8:08
  • Maybe expected to get it back later, after the war was over. Little did he know, it was soon to be over for him. – user25738 Feb 14 '18 at 19:26
  • The show has surpassed the books completely (even the end of S6 hinted at this with the title of the upcoming book The Winds of Winter). This scene didn't occur in the books, if I recall, though Sam and Gilly did reach the Citadel near the end of the last book. – m1gp0z Nov 29 '18 at 16:18
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The Tarly sigil is a striding huntsman, red on green. Their house words are "First in Battle." http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/House_Tarly

The Tarly words are "First in Battle". During the course season 6 and season 7, viewers learn that Randyll Tarly, being the leader of his House, pledged fealty to House Tyrell, but then upon arrival of Danaerys Targaryen, switched loyalty to House Lannister, which lead him to his ultimate fate.

So although one can argue Randyll was surely preoccupied to really care about the sword, being someone seemingly following the words of his own house, it's easy to speculate that Randyll Tarly's mindset was to put the duty of military pursuits infront of sentimental memorial relics. And like many in Westoros, he did not believe in [the return of] the White Walkers and therefor, in his mind, there was no real need to use or fixate on this particular sword.

"I'm a Tarly. That name means something. We're not oathbreakers. We're not schemers. We do not stab our rivals in the back or cut their throats at weddings."―Randyll Tarly to Jaime Lannister

Moreover, IMO, the point of the choice to see Sam take the sword in parallel to what happens to Randyll Tarley was primarily used to establish one of Game of Thrones' bigger themes about fate, compassion, cruelty, and/or mercy. Randyll Tarly, despite what he says to Jaime Lannister in the quote above, (because his switch in fealty is questionable) was a cruel man with a narrow perspective on life.

Season 7 Spoilers

After the battle is over, Randyll and Dickon are taken prisoner, along with the surviving Lannister and Tarly soldiers, and presented to Daenerys herself, who demands that they bend the knee or die. Randyll refuses to do so, stating that Cersei is already his queen.

He showed little to no love for Sam and wouldn't even plead for mercy, not even for the sake of his other son Dicken, when the oppertunity arrises after the Battle of Goldroad.

Samwell then "deserves" the sword, because he's compassionate, loyal, hard-working, open-minded, and a purer-natured character with good and honorable intentions. He is also a character that will NEED a Valyrian Steel Sword in the bigger battles to come, being more obviously a long-term character.

Even if one would entertian the idea that Randyll Tarly did care about the sword and sent men to retrieve it, considering the story is on limited time with the final season upon us, there isn't really a lot this particular subplot could do emotionally for the story, because these men viewers have never met don't encapsulate the painful dynamics, as if it were Randyll himself coming to retrieve it. The only thing I could see it offering the series is an unexpected "monkey wrench" at the worst time possible.

  • Just to add. I think Martin is asking us with this dynamic between Sam and his father, what good is being 'first in battle', if you do not care for others? What is one really fighting for? And the truth is for Sam, love was the birth of duty in which he then potentially reaches and surpasses the expectations of the words of his family's house, where his father failed him. – Darth Locke Jun 13 '18 at 13:51
  • This really doesn't answer the question of why Randyll Tarly wouldn't go after Sam. It just explains why the plot needs him not to go after Sam. Randyll Tarly's motivation as a character doesn't depend on whether Sam is a long term character who needs the sword in the battle against the White Walkers. – Steve May 14 at 23:20
  • I don't think theme or plot deduction really answer the question either. These are valid things to talk about in other contexts. But this question is specifically about character motivations: why would Randyll Tarly act the way he does? To answer this, we need to know what Randyll as a person is thinking -- and he's certainly not thinking about the theme of the book he's in. Ultimately, if you can't answer the question without saying, 'because the plot needs him to act this way,' then that's a sign of bad writing, IMO -- which is arguably what we saw in the show. – Steve May 16 at 16:42
  • Sometimes all we get is theme and plot deduction, because one can write something that way for that very reason. Not all characters are going to get proper/deep motivations and Randall Tarly is definitely an antagonist for Sam that acts as a way to expose Sam's character and the series' look at cultural identity, more than his own (and in more than one instance). – Darth Locke Jun 6 at 20:48

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