Good morning (or afternoon, or evening, or whenever you’re reading this), adventurers!
As you may or may not know, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire has its own Tumblr page (as well as its own Twitter and Facebook pages). Even more excitingly, we here at the blog have partnered with ASOIAF University to answer questions about A Song of Ice and Fire. We – that is, SomethingLikeaLawyer and I – take the text-based questions submitted to us, write up thoughtful, text-based answers, and publish these answers on the Tumblr.
A little bit of a quieter week at Headquarters, but nevertheless got out some solid answers to solid asks. The Hand went back to his great Aegon Doctrine to explain why Aegon took away royal titles, and reanalyzed Viserys I as a poor Targaryen king. For my part, I looked at Littlefinger’s financial blackmail of Anya Waynwood, and the decline of Visenya’s ideal of the Kingsguard. We also released two – two! – essays this week: one from BryndenBFish about Aurane Waters, and one from me about Tyrek Lannister.
So, without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of February 1:
Tyrek Lannister may be considered by readers little more than a tertiary character in A Song of Ice and Fire. The consideration is not unreasonable: not even mentioned by name in the first book, seen “on-screen” only twice before his mysterious disappearance in the violent riot in King’s Landing in A Clash of Kings, young Tyrek merits little more than a footnote among his more prominent Lannister relatives, much less the grander cast of characters. If he is noted at all, he might be remembered as simply a victim, on the same plane as his cousin Willem: an unfortunate pawn to Lannister dynastic ambitions, an innocent murdered by the rioting smallfolk of the capital.
Yet Tyrek disappeared so thoroughly – and so mysteriously – that his “simple” disappearance might not be so simple after all. Rather than being one of the many bodies cleared from the streets in the days and weeks after the riot, Tyrek might be alive and well (or at least relatively well). Even more, Tyrek might be waiting to make a dramatic reappearance in Westeros, schooled and prepared by an unlikely “ally.” Who would want the young Lannister cousin, and what might be in store for him in the future?
Welcome to the newest series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire, Heirs in the Shadows. In this series, BryndenBFish and I will examine a number of individuals who may press blood claims to different Westerosi seats, raising ancestral (or “ancestral”) House banners into the stormy Westerosi skies. We will analyze the powerful backers to these claimants, and the arguments and tactics these plotters will utilize to install their chosen pawns as great lords and even ruling monarchs. We will attempt to sketch out how the political face of Westeros might change with the rise of these heirs in waiting – and how their schemes might comport with the volatile game of thrones as the main narrative races to its climax.
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.
The Princess and the Queen Book Cover (image by nateblunt)
In “The Rogue Prince”, Archmaester Gyldayn explores the surface peace and hidden turbulence of the reign of Viserys I Targaryen, immediately preceding the Dance of the Dragons. Though the novella is written in a more “non-fiction” style than the main novels, Gyldayn’s work nevertheless features undercurrents of drama and intrigue. Nowhere is this more apparent than in two mysterious (and quickly successive) deaths recorded to have occurred in 120 AC. The first victim, Laenor Velaryon, was the heir to Driftmark and husband of Princess Rhaenyra, her future consort when (or if) she came into her throne. Not long after his death, tragedy would strike House Strong with the loss of both its lord, Lyonel, and his heir, Ser Harwin.
In both cases, Gyldayn notes from his primary sources a number of suggested suspects, without settling on one likely culprit. It becomes the duty of the reader, then, to examine the evidence and determine which, if any, of the suspects offered seem likely to have arranged these murders (if, indeed, both were even premeditated crimes at all). Investigating the charged atmosphere of Viserys’ court, and the factions playing for power, new suspects appear – those who stood to gain much from these men’s deaths, and who helped contribute, if unknowingly, to the bitter and bloody struggle on the death of the king.
This post contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter
“Daeron Targaryen was only fourteen when he conquered Dorne,” Jon said. The Young Dragon was one of his heroes.
“A conquest that lasted a summer,” his uncle pointed out. “Your Boy King lost ten thousand men taking the place, and another fifty trying to hold it. Someone should have told him that war isn’t a game.” (AGOT, Jon I)
As Aegon, Jon Connington and the Golden Company neared the shores of the Westeros, they confronted a Westeros that had repelled the Golden Company time after time. Their invasion towards the end of A Dance with Dragons faced similar difficulties; a seemingly strong political alliance between the Lannisters and Tyrells, enemy armies that far outnumbered the ten thousand men of the Golden Company and massive castles and cities that had withstood sieges stood athwart the Golden Company’s path to seat Aegon onto the Iron Throne. Despite the difficulties, Aegon’s pathway to victory was not without historical precedent.
Daeron I Targaryen was a mere fourteen years old when he launched one of the deadliest wars in Westeros’ history. The desert and mountain lands of Dorne had been a sore spot for House Targaryen ever since Rhaenys Targaryen had failed to take the hold-out kingdom during the Conquest. The Young Dragon was not content to let Dorne remain independent of the Iron Throne; instead, Daeron viewed his role as Lord of the Seven Kingdoms incomplete while one of those kingdoms remained defiantly independent. Vowing that he would “complete the Conquest,” Daeron planned and enacted the ensuing Conquest of Dorne, which saw Targaryen offensive warfare at its best and holding the peace at its worst. Daeron led his men from the front but the initial invasion cost the Iron Throne ten thousand men. Holding Dorne proved five times as costly. According to Benjen Stark and The World of Ice and Fire, Daeron lost fifty thousand men when the Dornish rose against his conquest. One of the final casualties of the war was King Daeron I Targaryen himself who died when the Dornish treacherously killed him under a flag of truce.
Regardless of how the conquest turned out, the military example that Daeron I Targaryen set during the conquest was not forgotten. Daeron had written himself into the history books in the aptly-titled Conquest of Dorne. This pivotal piece of propaganda ensured that the exploits of Daeron I Targaryen would not be forgotten by future generations.
Prince Aegon and Jon Connington never mention Daeron I Targaryen by name in A Dance with Dragons, but the landing of the Golden Company and Aegon’s (and Jon Connington’s) plan of swift strikes at key castles, divide and conquer tactics and military deception provide a good analogue between the two young dragons.
However decisive this Young Dragon planned to be, the odds were stacked against him. Would this time be different for the Golden Company? Would they be defeated in battle and forced to flee across the Narrow Sea? Or would Aegon, Jon Connington and the Golden Company take after the example of Daeron I and “complete the conquest” started by Daemon Blackfyre and Bittersteel so many years before? In pure military terms, even if Aegon, Connington and the Golden Company could pull off a landing in Westeros, their chances for victory seemed remote. Events in King’s Landing and the Stormlands, however, were shaping Aegon’s conquest to last a summer.
This post contains minor spoilers for The Winds of Winter
“What sort of man was he? Honest and honorable, venal and grasping, proud?”
“Proud, for a certainty. Even arrogant. A faithful friend to Rhaegar, but prickly with others. Robert was his liege, but I’ve heard it said that Connington chafed at serving such a lord.” (TWOW, Arianne I)
Varys and Illyrio’s multiple conspiracies to strengthen the cause of the bright-black dragon was in ashes. The boy and the sellsword company surrounding him were floating west towards the Stormlands, leaving the schemes of Illyrio and Varys behind in Essos. Young Aegon, the “only dragon that the Golden Company needed”, was embarking on a dangerous course to land in Westeros with ten thousand sellswords but no dragons. Fortunately, aboard one of the ships bound for the shores of the Stormlands was an exiled knight and lord who would lead men in the wars to come and who had protected the young prince for many years.
Lord Jon Connington was everything Varys could have wished for: a fierce military commander, Hand of the King during Robert’s Rebellion and perhaps most importantly, a staunch and undying Targaryen loyalist.
The man who returned from exile, however, was a very different man from the one who had left Westeros nearly two decades ago. Defeat and humiliation had changed Connington from a strong lord who operated within the bounds of accepted Westerosi conduct into a man willing to do anything to put the boy onto the throne.
Jon Connington’s history up to Robert’s Rebellion reads like standard Westerosi fare. Ambitious and self-assured, Jon Connington was a squire alongside of Rhaegar Targaryen before possibly squiring for the Crown Prince himself. (Arianne believes that Connington was Rhaegar’s squire while Barristan lists Myles Mooton and Richard Lonmouth as Rhaegar’s squires) When his father died a few years before the start of Robert’s Rebellion, Jon became the Lord of Griffin’s Roost, one of the most powerful bannermen of his liege lord, Robert Baratheon. Connington’s upward mobility accelerated further when Robert’s Rebellion broke out.
In early 2015, Harper Collins UK in conjunction with Waterstones, a British Book Retailer, released pictures of a letter that George RR Martin wrote to his agent Ralph Vicinanza in 1993 outlining his idea for this brand new book that he was writing entitled A Game of Thrones, the first book in an exciting new trilogy that George RR Martin was calling A Song of Ice and Fire. This early letter provided insights to George’s agent on how he could promote this new series as well as provided a plot diagram for where GRRM thought that A Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire were going.
In Episode 10: The Book That Never Was, we do a detailed analysis of this letter and the book that could have been had GRRM written A Song of Ice and Fire to follow his initial diagram. We cover the topics of:
The History of ASOIAF: How it came to be and where we are now
GRRM’s original idea of plot, counterplot and murder centered on dynastic struggle
Daenerys Targaryen: Dothraki Conqueror
The, um, interesting love triangle had in mind
Similarities and differences to the material that was published
The foreshadowings that never were: leftover lines intended to foreshadow plot points that never came to be.
Our take on the blacked out text and what it could mean for the future of A Song of Ice and Fire
As you may or may not know, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire has its own Tumblr page (as well as its own Twitter and Facebook pages). Even more excitingly, we here at the blog have partnered with ASOIAF University to answer questions about A Song of Ice and Fire. We – that is, SomethingLikeaLawyer and I – take the text-based questions submitted to us, write up thoughtful text-based answers, and publish these answers on the Tumblr.
So every Monday we present to you The Ravenry. We collect the questions we’ve answered during the previous week over on the Tumblr in post form, with a brief description of each, and publish it here, and link that post on Twitter and Facebook as well. This was another productive week for the Lord Hand and me, including several long analysis pieces on Renly, Rhaenyra, and Robert’s Rebellion (alliteration is amazingly addictive). There were also a few meta questions, from answering questions to modernizing the series.
Before we start, I want to speak a little about question-asking. This is something the Hand talked about last week, but I wanted to bring it up again. “What if” questions are very difficult for us to answer, particularly the broader these questions get. We only have access to the same materials as the rest of the fandom; some of the hypothetical questions we get involve rewriting entire storylines, including a great many jumps and guesses. As much as we can, we like to stick to what we can pull out of the materials, so as much as you can, we ask that you narrow your hypos as much as possible. Asking who Robb might have betrothed Sansa to had she been returned according to his terms is fine. Asking how a living Laena Velaryon would have affected the entire Dance of the Dragons is too difficult to us for answer without essentially writing an entirely new story.
So, without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of October 19:
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.
Hello and welcome once again to The Three Heads of the Dragon: Kings, Pretenders, and the Ladies of Fire, the first multi-author series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire. In this series, SomethingLikeaLawyer, MilitantPenguin, and I will explore the Targaryen dynasty from its rise in the Conquest to its fall in Robert’s Rebellion. My pieces, the Ladies of Fire, will analyze the queens and princesses of House Targaryen, as well as those ladies who had a substantial impact on the dynasty itself.
Aegon IV had never adopted a personal sigil, but for a personal motto he might have taken Madame de Pompadour’s declaration: “Après nous, le déluge” (after us, the deluge). His reign had seen the encouragement of gross excesses and extravagant immorality as ladies, backed by powerful families, surrendered themselves to the king’s pleasure. Yet as a direct consequence of the king’s capriciousness, Westeros would fall into civil war again. Instead of fighting directly, as had happened in the last civil war, the ladies involved would take a supporting role, through the traditional places for women in Westerosi society – as wives, mothers, and dynastic marriage pawns. The threat of war and the necessities of politics would nudge these ladies and princesses into advantageous places across the great cyvasse board of Westeros until the board was set for the rise of the Black Dragon.