Fire and blood. Dany’s arc in A Dance with Dragons ends with her recognition that dragons plant no trees and that her words are “fire and blood” – not just as the house words of her dynasty, but as her personal motto validating her rediscovered turn towards the mother of dragons and a violent vision of prophecy.
In The Winds of Winter, that recognition and acknowledgement of her true self will morph into action. Early through her Winds of Winter arc, she’ll bring her mother of dragons persona and vengeance to Khal Jhaqo & the Dothraki. But after she unites a giant khalasar by fire and blood, she’ll turn her dragon’s mercy to Meereen. Nor will her full wrath end at the pyramids of Meereen. Instead, I believe that the city will be a mere stepping stone to the full expression of the dragon’s mercy.
Aiding Daenerys in her conquest will be new advisers and groups whose personalities and aims look to keep Daenerys’ footing firmly tied to her identity as the mother of dragons.
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
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!
Editor’s Note: This essay contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter. As it’s been a while since I’ve covered Daenerys in The Winds of Winter, I’d encourage you all to read part 1 and part 2 if you’d like to refresh on my ideas on Dany’s torn conception of motherhood, struggles with prophecy/magic and predicting her early Dothraki arc in The Winds of Winter. Finally, I’ll hope to have an audio recording of this essay soon! Follow us on twitter to find out the latest on when that will occur!
The Meereen Daenerys returns to will not be the relatively peaceful (even with the tensions bubbling just below the surface) city she ruled as queen. Meereen will have gotten its own share of fire and blood from the great battle there opening The Winds of Winter, as well as from her two other dragon children. Moreover, from this great conflict will emerge three people (or, to be more specific, two individuals and one group of people) all seeking to win Daenerys’ favor. Each of them will tug her in a direction that the mhysa queen willing to sacrifice on behalf of peace in A Dance with Dragons would never have adopted – toward violence, magic, and the fiery faith of R’hllor.
But it would be a mistake to assert that Dany’s actions and impact will come solely at behest of the designs of others. Daenerys will make fateful, violent decisions based on her perceptions of injustice in the city of Meereen, and it won’t simply be the guilty who will suffer from them. Much as it was in with the crucifixion of Great Masters and the torture of the wineseller’s daughters, innocent and guilty alike will suffer from the dragon’s mercy in Meereen.
The impact of these choices will further Daenerys’ transformation in The Winds of Winter, from a planter of trees to a reborn dragon.
Spoiler Warning & Forward: This essay contains minor spoilers for The Winds of Winter. I invite you to follow us on wordpress, facebook & twitter
In terms of mysteries in A Song of Ice and Fire, there are major ones that exist (e.g. Jon’s parentage, the true identity of Aegon VI, who wrote the Pink Letter etc), middling mysteries (e.g. Who is the Hooded Man in Winterfell?) and minor ones (What happened to Weasel?) However, there are a handful of mysteries that belie categorization. One of the more interesting ones is how Stannis Baratheon discovered the parentage of Cersei’s children. It seems like a question with a relatively straightforward answer. He figured it out on his own.
But did he actually figure this out on his own? Or did he come across this information in a different way? In part 1 of the Agents of Chaos series, we puzzled out the identity of Taena Merryweather as an agent of Varys’. In part 2, we shift our focus from Varys to Littlefinger, but our focus will be on his methods of spreading chaos, and I’ll make a plausible case that Littlefinger was responsible for Stannis discovering the parentage of Cersei’s children with a bonus section of who Littlefinger’s unwitting agents might possibly be.
Editor’s Note: This essay contains very minor spoilers for The Winds of Winter. Here’s the audio recording!
Daenerys Targaryen will make a momentous return in The Winds of Winter, but her return will be not be the stuff of triumph that many fans expect. Many fans believe that Dany will return to Meereen, collect her army and sail for Westeros. But all signs point to George RR Martin defying fan-expectations and following a different course. What course might that be? Only George and his editors know for certain, but I believe a careful reading of the first five books of A Song of Ice and Fire coupled with information collected from interviews and the sample chapters from The Winds of Winter give broad strokes on Dany’s future themes and plot points.
Recently, when asked about The Winds of Winter, George RR Martin offered this nugget:
“Well, Tyrion and Dany will intersect, in a way, but for much of the book they’re still apart. They both have quite large roles to play here. Tyrion has decided that he actually would like to live, for one thing, which he wasn’t entirely sure of during the last book, and he’s now working toward that end—if he can survive the battle that’s breaking out all around him. And Dany has embraced her heritage as a Targaryen and embraced the Targaryen words. So they’re both coming home.” – EW Shelf Life, June 26, 2014
From this very small but significant quote, I surmise the following:
Dany’s will spend a significant amount of time apart from any of the characters tied into the Meereenese Knot.
The long-awaited intersection between Tyrion & Dany will take place towards the middle to late portion of The Winds of Winter.
Daenerys will eventually make her way to Westeros…
… But not before Dany spends the majority if not the entirety, of her Winds of Winter arc in Essos.
Wait, Essos!? How could George RR Martin inflict us with another pointless, meaningless character arc in Essos? Isn’t it time that Daenerys triumphantly return to Westeros where she’ll defeat the Others with her dragons, marry Jon Snow and reclaim her father’s crown from the hated Lannisters? Well, maybe, but I don’t think that’s how GRRM will structure Dany’s storyline at least in TWOW.
In these essays, I want to show that Dany’s extended stay in Essos is congruent with how Dany’s arc was developed in the first five books, and how her arc will be tied to how George RR Martin’s writes plot-tension that encapsulates triumph, tragedy and realism.
But more important than the plot-points is the thematic impulse behind Dany’s future in The Winds of Winter. As GRRM (quoting Falkner) likes to put it: “The human heart in conflict with itself is the only thing worth writing about.”
Dany’s future in The Winds of Winter will be tied to her past, routed through dangerous, fickle prophecy, drenched in warfare but most importantly, bound to internal, human struggle. Continue reading →
I’m in the middle of another re-read of the series, and I finished A Game of Thrones about a week ago. In this re-read, I’m giving special attention to a few plot points. One of those plot-points is Roose Bolton and when he turned against Robb Stark. In popular telling, Roose Bolton turned against Robb Stark when he determined that the Stark cause was lost after the Lannister victory against Stannis Baratheon at King’s Landing. However, after re-reading the first book, I think the evidence of betrayal goes farther back in the timeline than originally thought.
Now, before I jump too far into this post, I want to make a disclaimer. I don’t think that Roose Bolton was a Lannister stooge from the get-go. I think that Roose’s turn to the Lannister side occurred around the end of A Clash of Kings. Prior to that, Roose was as much an enemy to the Lannisters as he was a traitor to the Starks as we’ll see below. That said, I believe that Roose Bolton was never loyal to Robb Stark, and he actively worked to further his and his family’s ambition from the start at the expense of the Starks.
Editorial Note: While this is primarily a command analysis of Tywin Lannister, there is a significant section dedicated to Roose Bolton towards the end. While that section in and of itself is worthy of its own post, I thought it important to place it in an analysis of Tywin as it is related to Tywin’s skill as a strategist.
Cementing the Tyrell Alliance
Tywin’s decisive victory over Stannis Baratheon did more than simply lift the siege of King’s Landing; it upended the strategic picture in Westeros. As we discussed in part 3, Tywin’s alliance with Mace Tyrell added the necessary manpower for victory over Stannis at King’s Landing, but there were more ramifications of this alliance than simple victory in the field.
First, the influx of Tyrell soldiers ensured that Tywin had a larger army than all of his enemies combined. If we start with the assumption that Tywin had around 20,000 soldiers at Harrenhal and Mace Tyrell had about 80,000 at Bitterbridge, the combined army now totalled 100,000 soldiers. More than bringing more men under his command, Tywin also inherited good commanders through his alliance. While Mace Tyrell, Lord of Highgarden, was not a good commander, some of his subordinate commanders were. Mace Tyrell’s son, Garlan Tyrell, had led the vanguard of the assault on King’s Landing. In the course of the battle, he personally killed Ser Guyard Morrigen, the commander of Stannis’s vanguard. But however good a knight Garlan was, Tywin’s greatest command inheritance from the Tyrell alliance was Randyll Tarly. Lord Tarly was a skilled warrior with several wars under his belt. During Robert’s Rebellion some 15 years previously, he was the only commander to defeat Robert Baratheon in battle at Ashford. During the Siege of King’s Landing, Randyll Tarly was given command of the center. Having both commanders was a significant windfall for Tywin Lannister.
“I am only a young girl and know little of the ways of war.”
ADWD 8: DAENERYS I
Earlier posts dealt with popular characters such as Robb Stark, Stannis Baratheon and Jaime Lannister. Today, we’re going to start our study of one of the more controversial characters in ASOIAF: Daenerys Targaryen.
Specifically, we’re going to look at the Slaver’s Bay Campaign in Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen. I have one main point and a side point which I’ll touch on repeatedly.
Main Point – Daenerys Targaryen is a good attacker through utilization of her primary force multiplier (dragons) and through exploiting enemy weaknesses especially under siege conditions. That said Daenerys is poor counterinsurgent and most of her actions to combat groups such as the Sons of the Harpy do not win her the support of the people she’s conquered or really better her position to launch an invasion of Westeros.
Side Point – The Slaver’s Bay Campaign presents the readership with interesting modern military parallels. From superweapons to wars of liberation to counterinsurgency, the issues that Daenerys faces in her Slaver’s Bay Campaign are ones that modern readers are well aware of. Throughout these posts, I’ll reference recent history to make unclear plot points clearer.
So with that said, I have to make a confession: Daenerys Targaryen’s story-arc is not one of my favorites, but I think that her campaign in Slaver’s Bay is fascinating and gives us a unique perspective of how non-Westerosi warfare is conducted as well as provides us a window into how Daenerys’s war in Westeros might unfold in future books.
Have you ever wondered what the hell was going on while reading ASOIAF? I did. I could connect the basic plot while reading it, but even re-reading the books, I was unable to really grasp many of the characters, storylines, prophecies, locations, etc. Fortunately, my brother told me about /r/asoiaf – which quickly became one of my favorite places on the internet. I think the best thing about this subreddit is its analysis. While I love the theories that are bounced around the sub, I have to say my favorite part of this subreddit is the analysis. After yesterday’s very positive response (thank you all!) to the theories compilation, I started working on an analysis compilation. It’s intended to serve for those looking for greater depth in their re-reads. I’ve divided the sections up a little better this time around, so I hope it’s easier and more fun to read. Anyways, enough of an intro. Click on “More” for the best analyses all written of /r/asoiaf all written by its users!