“It is an easy thing for a prince to call the spears, but in the end the children pay the price. For their sake, the wise prince will wage no war without good cause, nor any war he cannot hope to win.” (ADWD, The Watcher)
From his vantage point overlooking the Water Gardens, Doran Martell looked at the children at play in the pool below. To his side lay a letter from King’s Landing informing the Prince of Dorne that his brother was dead at the hands of Gregor Clegane. All around him, overripe blood oranges ominously fell from trees, giving off a sickly-sweet odor as they split open upon impact. While Doran watched, Dorne was angry — angry at the recent death of Oberyn Martell, angry at the murders of Elia Martell and her children at the end of Robert’s Rebellion. Doran Martell knew all this, and yet from all appearances, he did nothing.
The reality, though, could not have been more different. Doran Martell was doing something to avenge his lost loved ones, but the prince could not seek the immediate vengeance that his family and countrymen wanted. The Prince knew that if Dorne went to war against the Iron Throne, they would lose, and if they lost, it would be the children who would suffer.
However, events had finally shaped up to the point where Doran Martell felt that he had his chance to truly strike a blow for vengeance all the while avoiding deaths like those of his sister and her children so many years before.
House Yronwood of Yronwood (Image credit to Scafloc29)
The heirs of House Martell may be styled Princes (and Princesses) of Dorne, but theirs has not always been the uncontested rule of that most southern state. Unlike the Starks and Lannisters, supreme kings in their realms for thousands of years – unlike even the Arryns, conquerors who have become well-respected over several millennia – the Martells have faced heated opposition to their “mere” thousand-year rule of Dorne. The most fearsome of those foes, and the most overmighty of those vassals after Nymeria’s conquest, has traditionally been House Yronwood of Yronwood.
Once High Kings of Dorne, the Yronwoods waxed more powerful than any of their Dornish neighbors until the arrival of Nymeria and her Rhoynish countrymen. Yet the Yronwoods have never let their formerly lowly rivals forget their own impressively royal pedigree or dynastic might. Diplomatic tensions and outright war between Houses Martell and Yronwood have marked Dornish history; the Yronwoods have never succeeded in casting off the Martell yoke (despite strong efforts to do so), but still the masters of Sunspear ignore the masters of the Boneway at their own peril. Studying the history of House Yronwood allows these tense and antagonistic relations to shed further light on where House Yronwood stands in the current day – and where the former High Kings may go in the future, to regain the realm that was once theirs.
Doran Martell has been often hailed as one of the great strategic plotters of A Song of Ice and Fire. His final lines to his daughter at the end of A Feast for Crows – “Justice. Vengeance. Fire and Blood” have been not merely cited as some of the most stirring in the series, but equated with the political brilliance and rhetorical masterstroke of Wyman Manderly’s “The North remembers” declaration. His words seemingly indicate a deep knowledge of how to play the game of thrones – a dedication to a long, carefully planned scheme in which the errors of Robert’s Rebellion are reversed and House Targaryen – with Martell support – once again rules the Seven Kingdoms.
However, is this a fair assessment of the Prince of Dorne? Or is it more the case that Doran has categorically failed to effect his ultimate goal – the restoration of House Targaryen to the Iron Throne – at every stage? Have Doran Martell’s schemes actually resulted in any gains toward that end, or any real change in House Martell’s fortunes? Indeed not, and nor should the Prince of Dorne be considered a strategic genius. Doran is not merely perceived as weak and ineffective, the grass that hides the viper – he is the grass, blown by passionate winds but unable in its own right to do anything but remain firmly planted in the ground. Continue reading →
Part 1 dealt with storylines we thought were the best in Season 5, but for every good storyline, there’s always the bad one (the bad pussy one). Today’s podcast episode delves into the worst storylines of Season 5. From underwhelming battles to poor dialogue to convoluted motivations, we explore:
The Boltons: the sole Northern House in Season 5
Stannis’ tell-don’t-show march on Winterfell
Brienne the Candlewoman
The Coming Mask Making Industry Bubble in Meereen
Jorah Connington’s/Varys’ travels with Tyrion
But instead of criticizing the show, we offer ideas to make it better. At the end, we give a few thoughts on where we think Season 6 might go!
Agree or disagree, and let us know your thoughts on Season 5 and what you would have done to improve it in the comments below!
Spoilers Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter
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 Dragonsmight 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.
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, a little while back we here at the blog partnered with ASOIAF University to answer questions about A Song of Ice and Fire. We – that is, myself and NFriel – 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. If we were a book section, we’d be that one where you’re pretty sure you saw the undead librarian from Ghostbusters with an authentic Latin copy of Malleus Maleficarum. With the Queen Regent visiting a foreign realm, the Hand of the King had to sit the Throne, and he got the chance to expound on one of his favorite topics: Robert’s Rebellion.
So, without further ado, here’s The Ravenry for the week of 6 July:
A Song of Ice and Fire is nothing if not a character study painted against the canvass of politics, war and culture. George RR Martin is fond of paraphrasing Faulkner’s “The human heart in conflict is the only thing worth writing about.” As such, we expect that GRRM will continue to develop characters in The Winds of Winter. But interesting for our purposes, George RR Martin seems to enjoy contrasting and comparing character growth to historical and currently-living characters in the series. Characters often wonder about whether they’re the Smiling Knight, Tywin Lannister or Doran Martell.
But in contrast to the sometimes-popular view that all the characters are moving into dark moral and plot paths in The Winds of Winter, Nfriel, SomethingLikeaLawyer, Militant Penguin and I believe that there are some who are moving towards more positive or neutral directions. As such, part 1 focuses on the good. Thus was born a podcast idea and topic.
So, today, we analyze the following POV characters:
Tyrion & how he’s moving from Mushroom to Lann the Clever
Jaime & how he’s evolving from the Smiling Knight to Ser Arthur Dayne
Bran’s wolf-knight to knight of the mind development
Theon’s surprising redemption & movement from Reek to Torgon the Latecomer
Asha’s pine-cone evolution & her desire not to be a boneheaded Iron Kraken.
Arianne’s movement from Cersei to Doran Martell
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