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!
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.
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 →
At the end of A Dance with Dragons, the cords of the Meereenese Knot were chaotically coming together in Meereen. Plague-ridden corpses were flying into Meereen, sellswords were plotting betrayal, Victarion and the Iron Fleet were sailing into battle and two dragons were loose in Meereen. To put it mildly, the situation in and around Meereen was fluid. To add further chaos to the scenario, battle was finally at hand. And it would be a battle that will likely leave tens of thousands dead — and not all of them from sword, spear, arrow or lance.
In this section, I’ll break down the factions on the eve of battle, estimate army sizes and dispersions and then talk about the loyalty of all the factions involved. And then, I’ll go into the battle plans, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the battle plans and then leave this part off moments prior to the start of Barristan’s attack on Yunkai’s lines. In part 6, we’ll jump right into the battle itself, talk about all we know from the sample chapters, speculate on the outcomes and who will lie dead on the battlefield and then finally do a broad “What does the future hold for Meereen and the characters in and around Meereen.”
Spoiler Warning: Previous sections contained spoilers from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, but just to re-iterate, this section will consist almost entirely of material taken from the sample chapters from The Winds of Winter.
The war that Daenerys had tried to hard to avoid was coming to Meereen. Her flight from Daznak’s Pit would be the ostensible first blow for the war between Meereen and Yunkai. Indeed her departure atop Drogon will be the last I’ll write about Daenerys’ actions for a while. In previous installments I hope I’ve shown in previous installations that war was unavoidable due to both the political situation within and without Meereen as well as the struggle between war and peace within Daenerys herself. Needless to say, the last chapters from A Dance with Dragons rapidly advance the plot and the characters within the Meereenese Knot towards war.
This essay will use material from A Dance with Dragons to illuminate events within and without Meereen that propelled the city to war. I’ll write at length about the Skahaz/Barristan conspiracy within Meereen, the Yunkish dithering on the eve of war, the last leg of the Iron Fleet’s journey to the shores of Meereen
However, in part 5 (the next part of this series), I’ll be using material fromthe sample chapters of The Winds of Winter. In this, I’ll re-visit and revise the factions on the eve of war, the battle plans of Barristan, Victarion and the Great Masters of Yunkai, and I’ll conclude just moments prior to the battle itself. In part 5, I’ll use the sample chapters to write on the battle itself, analyze the tactics and strategies involved and do some lengthy speculation on what George RR Martin has yet to reveal on the battle and predict the outcomes of the battle, who will lie dead in the field and what this will mean for the various interweaving plotlines of the Meereenese Knot.
“Their names shall be graven on the Gates of Fate amongst the other valiant fallen.” (ADWD, Daenerys II)
Events inside and outside of Meereen were quickly coming to a head. Within the walls, Dany’s peace overture through a marriage offer to Hizdahr zo Loraq would meet with surprising success while Yunkai’s armies finally linked-up with its navy and began to encircle the beleaguered city. Peace hung on an extremely unstable balance. But while Dany may have been keen on peace, there were factors both internal within her and external which would force the hand of war.
This will be the last part devoid of spoilers from The Winds of Winter. So, if you’re avoiding spoilers, you’ll be good to go here. In this section, I’ll talk about the voyage of the Iron Fleet, the unstable peace in Meereen, Yunkai’s siege lines (as well as the introduction of Tyrion Lannister in Meereen) and then finally close out with the return of Drogon and the first shatterings of the peace in Meereen.
Administrative note: I’ve decided to expand this analysis out to 5 parts. Originally, there were significant spoilers from The Winds of Winter in this post, but I’ve opted to cut them to parts 4 and 5.
“I cannot fight two enemies, one within and one without. If I am to hold Meereen, I must have the city behind me. The whole city.” (ADWD, Daenerys V)
With Astapor fallen, Yunkai’s armies would turn their gaze north to Meereen. But Yunkai’s armies would not be all that would arrive outside of Meereen’s walls. New factors and faces would make their appearance in and around Meereen. Alliances would be tested, cloaks would be turned, peace would be attempted and then discarded and finally battle lines would be drawn.
In part 1, I introduced the various factions for the upcoming Battle of Fire and started to go into detail on the myriad social, political, economic and military factors in Meereen, the rise of the Ironborn, Yunkai’s resurgence and Astapor’s decline and fall. In part 2, I’ll continue analyzing and summarizing relevant sections from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. I’ll go into some detail on the situation in Meereen, the Ironborn invasion of the Shield Islands and Daenerys’ attempts at establishing an internal peace in Meereen.
Originally, I had planned to have this be a 3-parter and then a 4-parter, but the writing for part 2 evolved into something far too long to contain in a single part. In lieu of that, I’ve opted to cut much of part 2 into part 3. The reason for doing so is that the complexity of Meereen’s political situation coupled with the other major characters and their plotlines on their way to Meereen pushed the writing to over 10K words. So, my hope is that this part helps narrow the focus a little.
Administrative Note: This will be the first of a six-part series detailing speculation and analysis on the upcoming Battle of Meereen. This post will primarily be a summary of events from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. However, in parts 5 and 6, there will be significant spoilers from the preview chapters of The Winds of Winter.
“You will not make Meereen rich and fat and peaceful. You will only bring it to destruction, as you did Astapor.” (ADWD, Daenerys III)
At the end of A Storm of Swords, Daenerys Targaryen stood as the unrivaled master of Slaver’s Bay. Her sack of Astapor, defeat of Yunkai and conquest of Meereen vaulted her and her band of followers to positions of hegemony over the region. However, in A Dance with Dragons, things began to fall apart. Plagued by a homegrown insurgency in Meereen, her situation was only worsened by the arrival of plague and a resurgent Yunkai. Surrounded by Yunaki and its allies and beset with plague, Daenerys’ arc was building to a great battle: The Battle of Fire.
Previously, I wrote a series of essays on Daenerys’ Campaign in Slaver’s Bay. In that essay, I detailed how Daenerys acquired her army and started a war of liberation in Slaver’s Bay. When she finally arrived at Meereen, Daenerys made a fateful decision: she would remain at Meereen and learn how to rule. But her rule of Meereen would be contested by the internal and external forces. And this conflict was all building to a great battle.
A few months ago, I wrote a two–part series on the upcoming Siege of Winterfell. The Battle of Fire (or Battle of Slaver’s Bay) will be the second battle to open The Winds of Winter. Shortly after the publication of A Dance with Dragons, George RR Martin was asked what he had in store for The Winds of Winter.
“I’m going to open [The Winds of Winter] with the two big battles that I was building up to, the battle in the ice and the battle of Slaver’s Bay. And then take it from there.” Smart Travel Interview with George RR Martin
In this 6-part series, I’ll analyze and speculate how the Battle of Fire will transpire. Parts 1-4 will primarily be a summary and analysis of events from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons. Part 5 will be an in-depth look at each side on the eve of battle and look at how each faction (Barristan & Meereen, Yunkai and her allies and Victarion and the Iron Fleet) is planning to win the battle. In part 6, I’ll finally delve into the battle itself utilizing released and read sample chapters from The Winds of Winter; I’ll close part 6 with speculation on who will win the battle, who will lay dead in the field and what the outcome will mean for the future of Meereen and Daenerys’ arc. And while this essay series will touch on the motivations and inner character conflict within each of the major characters in the series, this will primarily be campaign analysis. To get into the character conflict rife with Daenerys, Barristan and others, I strongly encourage you all to to read Adam Feldman’s Meereenese Blot, particularly his essays on Daenerys.