Category Archives: ASOIAF Mystery

Chasing the Dragon, Part 1: Analyzing an Alchemist

Foreword

the_dragon_and_the_crow_by_risachantag-d65cow6

Artwork by Lisa Rye

So many readers were reading the books with so much attention that they were throwing up some theories and while some of those theories were amusing bulls—and creative, some of the theories are right. At least one or two readers had put together the extremely subtle and obscure clues that I’d planted in the books and came to the right solution. (George R. R. Martin, Vanity Fair Interview, 2014)

George R. R. Martin’s books are filled with clues that, when put together properly, can give us a much deeper understanding of the story. Some of his mysteries are easy to solve, because they only require combining a handful of clues. Examples like “What’s the secret ingredient in Wyman Manderly’s meat pies?”

But the solutions to simple mysteries can become clues themselves, and form a complex network of connections that’s much more difficult to untangle.

In this series, we’ll dive deep and find out what we can about the creatures that make up half the equation of A Song of Ice and Fire: Dragons. Which clues have we been missing, and what can they tell us about their ultimate role in the story?

If we want to solve the big questions, then we need to start small. One wrong conclusion can lead to the next, and before we know it, we’re speculating about the story based on completely false assumptions.

So we’re going to try a fragmented approach and explore various issues, one at a time. We’ll take the text as basis, and only draw conclusions that we can be reasonably certain of. If we can not find an answer to a question that’s well-supported by the text, then we won’t try to force a solution. Instead, we’ll put these questions aside, in hope that we can answer them at a later point. In future parts, we’ll need to be ready to revisit our previous conclusions, whenever they don’t line up with the new evidence.

In time, we will try to find answers to questions like these:

  • Which characters are shaping up to become more imporant?
  • Who wants Dany’s dragons, and for what purpose?
  • Can prophecy ever be trusted?
  • Why is the Sphinx not the riddler?
  • What glory awaits Victarion Greyjoy?
  • Do the brightest flames cast the darkest shadows?
  • What is the Song of Ice and Fire?

I’m not yet sure which twists and turns this journey is going to take. But let’s get started with our first topic and see where it leads us.

Introduction

Ever since his appearance in A Feast for Crows, the mysterious Alchemist has been a popular subject of fan speculation. While fans have put together some of the clues that George has scattered through his books, there’s still no consensus about the Alchemist’s intentions and how he ties into the larger story.

In this essay we’re going to focus on the Prologue of A Feast for Crows. We’ll see if we can find any themes and connections that could tell us more about who the Alchemist is, what he’s doing, and who he’s working with.

A solid theory needs solid legs to stand on, so first we’ll re-establish some facts from the Prologue that we might have forgotten about.

Then we will see which conclusions we can draw, and determine if they tell a story that’s consistent within the larger narrative, as well as being supported by evidence from the text.

Finally, we will evaluate our theory and come up with some ideas about where to go next.

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The Agents of Chaos, Part 3: The Pirate King

This essay contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter

Introduction

Aurane_Waters

Artwork by Nacho Molina

Following events at the end of A Storm of Swords and the readying of the Golden Company to move on Westeros, the Spider began to aggressively unweave the political and military fabric that kept the Lannisters and Tyrells in power in King’s Landing. Varys’ plan of slow-burn chaos in Westeros seen in the first three books of A Song of Ice and Fire now evolved into an active undermining of the political structure of King’s Landing. Taena Merryweather would work to undermine the relationship between Margaery Tyrell and Cersei Lannister, but she would not be Varys’ only pawn in Westeros.

As I’ve re-read key sections from A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons and The Winds of Winter for the Blood of the Conqueror series, I’ve come to the conclusion that Varys’ intelligence strategy in King’s Landing was not limited to Taena Merryweather. Varys needed to undermine the Lannister-Tyrell alliance in King’s Landing, but Varys also needed to disrupt their military power bloc in Eastern Westeros. The Golden Company and Aegon were coming to Westeros, and they would need the waters cleared for their approach.

Enter Aurane Waters.

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The Three Heads of The Dragon: Kings, Pretenders, and the Ladies of Fire: The Dragon Who Burned – Aerion ‘Brightflame’ Targaryen

 

Artwork by Mathia Arkoniel

Introduction

Hello again readers. Today I present you with the final entry in the Three Heads of the Dragon series, Aerion ‘Brightflame’ Targaryen. Prince Aerion Targaryen, also known as Aerion the Monstrous or Aerion Brightflame, born the second son to King Maekar Targaryen, may not be a pretender in the most traditional sense, he still had a role to play under the banner of the pretenders of House Targaryen.

Aerion was an unusual character in the Targaryen dynasty and had distinct ties with both the central kings, princes, and contemporaries of the dynasty, and the various pretenders seeking to oust them. He was a precursor to the Mad King Aerys, he was the despised monster of the family, an enemy of Ser Duncan the Tall, the likely murderer of Haegon Blackfyre, and the drinker of wildfire. Aerion Brightflame was the dragon who burned and his actions still affect Westeros to this day.

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Blood of the Conqueror, Part 3: The Conspiracies

Introduction

Disaster. Aerys and Rhaegar Targaryen were dead, Viserys and Daenerys were fled, a new powerful Baratheon regime was in power in King’s Landing and – most importantly for our purposes – Varys and Illyrio’s first conspiracy against the Targaryens had catastrophically failed. This failure could be partially attributed to Varys overplaying his hand by pushing Aerys too far towards paranoia and rash action, but the greater part of this failure was Varys’ inability to take the human element into account.

As we’ll see in Part 3, however, this was a failure that was not unique to Varys. Varys and Illyrio would engineer new schemes in Essos to elevate Aegon, the Bright-Black Dragon, onto the Iron Throne during the main timeline of A Song of Ice and Fire. Fearsome sellswords, known as the Golden Company, would be the cornerstone of Illyrio’s efforts. Prince Viserys Targaryen would also feature prominently early on, but as Illyrio’s conspiracies evolved, his attention would shift to Daenerys and her three adolescent dragons. But above them all was the boy and the conspiracy to put this dragon onto the Iron Throne. 

But as Varys discovered in Westeros, Illyrio would find the human element interfering with his well-laid plans time after time.

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Blood of the Conqueror, Part 2: The Mummer’s Folly

Introduction

In medieval and early Renaissance Europe, allegories or long-form metaphors were used as moral and explanatory story-telling devices. In these allegories, Folly was a character who resembled court jesters in appearance and served as the dramatic device to tempt the protagonist towards foolhardy deeds.

If A Song of Ice and Fire were an allegory, Varys and Illyrio would play the part of Folly in the story. Their soft, powdered hands and tittering laughs guide much of the action in A Song of Ice and Fire. Yet these men aren’t simple mummers performing trickery for laughs. Instead, their tricks and mummery are intended for the highest of dramas.

But their role as Folly is unclear and often misinterpreted. To attempt to expand our knowledge of the Varys-Illyrio plot, I’ve divided their scheming into two parts. In order to understand the plots of Illyrio and Varys, we have to explain the motivations and backgrounds of those pulling the strings. So, in today’s part we’ll be taking a deep dive into the underpinnings of Varys and Illyrio’s conspiracy before the start of events from A Game of Thrones. I plan to do this in three basic ways:

  • Their overall objective
  • A deep dive into the background of both players to include discussions of their origins, family dynamic and a bit of prophecy..
  • Finally, we’ll cover Varys and Illyrio’s opening acts in the folly during the reign of Aerys II.

Through this extended analysis, I hope you’ll come to understand Varys and Illyrio’s role as Folly in the story. But in the end, keep in mind that Varys and Illyrio’s folly will cause the deaths of tens of thousands in Westeros and Essos.

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Blood of the Conqueror, Part 1: A Winds of Winter Mystery in the Stormlands

Spoilers Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter

Introduction

Prince Aegon spoke. “Then put your hopes on me,” he said. “Daenerys is Prince Rhaegar’s sister, but I am Rhaegar’s son. I am the only dragon that you need.” (ADWD, The Lost Lord)

Aegon Targaryen, the purported son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia of Dorne, is set to have a fateful impact on Westeros in The Winds of Winter. His landing in the Stormlands sets Westeros on a path that brings more war, and Aegon’s future promises more suffering, and more destruction for an already war-ravaged kingdom. But that reality will be offset by a public perception that will likely view Aegon as the conquering hero and liberator of Westeros. But who is Aegon? Who are his supporters? What are his and their goals? And what exactly will that fateful impact look like?

Welcome to Part 1 of Blood of the Conqueror, a speculative analysis of the coming Winds of Winter arc of the Young Dragon, Aegon Targaryen. In this essay series, we’ll examine  Aegon’s impact on Westeros. To do so, we’ll examine the background, conspiracies, alliances and battles that look to dominate Aegon’s arc in The Winds of Winter.

In a later installment, I’ll do in-depth battle analysis of the Battle of Griffin’s Roost and the Golden Company’s landing in the Stormlands, but in today’s essay, I thought it might be fun to examine this event in the meta-venue of how A Dance with Dragons and The Winds of Winter were written and re-written. And I thought it might be fun to do so by examining a minor mystery that I came across while reading George RR Martin’s notablog. It’s a mystery that takes place in the Stormlands around the time that Griffin’s Roost fell, and it involves how George RR Martin originally structured this event in A Dance with Dragons and why one of Martin’s famous restructurings of A Dance with Dragons might reveal how GRRM originally planned Aegon’s invasion of Westeros and why a key rewrite makes Aegon’s invasion and the involvement of a major player in the game of thrones that much more poignant.

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The Murdered and Missing Part 1: The Murdered

A Faceless Man” by Fantasy Flight Games

A Song of Ice and Fire starts with 2 major mysteries. In the Prologue, we discover that the Others have mysteriously returned and in the King’s Landing chapters of A Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark investigates the death of Jon Arryn. Through it all, George writes mysteries but especially murder mysteries and strange disappearances with some relish. In this 2-part podcast series, the Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire podcast team investigates some of the famous and not-so-famous murders and disappearances in A Song of Ice and Fire. Today’s episode covers the murder side of the series. Today we cover the motivations, suspects and all the intriguing clues and possibilities of some of these infamous cases:

  • The Death of Ser Hugh of the Vale
  • Balon Greyjoy
  • Domeric Bolton
  • Little Walder Frey
  • The Meereenese Weavers
  • The Murder of Elia Martell

We also get to argue about Tywin Lannister at the end. Finally, we’re looking to have part 2 out in fairly short order as it’s already written!

Listen to us at the following places:

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