Tag Archives: Dragon

Chasing the Dragon, Part 1: Analyzing an Alchemist

Foreword

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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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Taking the Throne – A Military Analysis of Aegon’s Conquest

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Image by Amok

 “Aegon saw that three hundred years ago when he stood where we are standing. They painted this table at his command. Rivers and bays they painted, hills and mountains, castles and cities and market towns, lakes and swamps and forests… but no borders. It is all one. One realm, for one king to rule alone.”A Storm of Swords, Davos IV

Aegon Targaryen. Aegon the Conqueror. Aegon the Dragon. Few men changed Westerosi history as much as the dragonlord with the dramatic vision: one continent, one realm, one king. In a continent marked with wars from Dorne to the Wall, the notion that one man could control all of Westeros was nothing short of a fantasy. There are three major ethnic groups, three dominant religions, at least eight distinct regions each with their own cultures and subcultures littering a continent roughly the size of South America. Holding such territory under a single authority would be almost impossible without a way to project the authority needed, though this did not stop kings from trying. Arlan III Durrandon, the Storm King of that time, extended his reach to  the Riverlands, though every generation a Riverlander would attempt to overthrow him. The Hoare kings of the Iron Islands would do the same three centuries after the Stormlander conquest, invading the territory with the help of Riverlander infighting, defeating the overeager Arrec Durrandon (who marched ahead of his baggage train, a disaster that spelled doom for many generals both in A Song of Ice and Fire’s world and our own), and placing himself as King of the Riverlands, subjecting the Riverlanders to thralldom for three generations.

The Hoare kings could boast that they controlled the largest swath of territory in Westeros, but a new invader was rising in the east, and would conquer almost the entire kingdom, in fire and blood.

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Filed under ASOIAF History, ASOIAF Military Analysis, ASOIAF Political Analysis