This essay contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter
Storm’s End had fallen to Aegon, and with that “impregnable” coastal fortress, the young dragon now held the most strategically and symbolically important foothold in the south of Westeros. However great this victory was though, Aegon’s situation was tenuous. The Golden Company was scattered across the Stormlands, Narrow Sea and Stepstones, and a Tyrell army was descending on Storm’s End. Though secure for the moment behind the massive curtain walls of Storm’s End, Aegon, Jon Connington and the Golden Company’s hope for long-term success did not reside at Storm’s End. Their only shot at victory lay in defeating the Tyrells marching for them and developing alliances and local support in Westeros. The bitter history of the Blackfyre Rebellions had proved as much.
The Blackfyre pretenders’ inability to garner widespread support after the First Blackfyre Rebellion had led to their repeated failures. In that first rebellion, Daemon I Blackfyre and Aegor “Bittersteel” Rivers leveraged the grievances and ambitions of secondary noble houses into a broad political and military coalition. In particular, Daemon and Bittersteel brought disaffected nobles from the Reach, Dorne and Westerlands under the black dragon banner against their regional and royal overlords. Though the First Blackfyre Rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful, the coalition that the first Blackfyre pretenders assembled was instrumental to their near-success. Failed subsequent Blackfyre rebellions, like the Fourth (which had barely stumbled past its landing at Massey’s Hook) and the Fifth (which had never even reached mainland Westeros) had proved to the Golden Company that without widespread organic support, Westeros could – and would – cast them off.
The Westeros upon which Aegon and his company landed, though, was much more favorably inclined to the young dragon’s particular foreign invasion than that of his Blackfyre forebears. The mood in Westeros had turned hostile towards the ruling class long before Aegon and his band of sellsword adventurers arrived; the Lannister-Tyrell alliance, which had been Westeros’ dominant political and military power since the Battle of the Blackwater, was crumbling. Better still for the would-be king, internal dissent against Lord Mace Tyrell was growing among some of his lords bannermen.
The taking of Storm’s End had provided a foundation for Westerosi nobles to take notice of the young dragon, but Aegon desperately needed their homage and swords along with their notice. If it were to press Aegon’s claim to the Iron Throne, the Golden Company would have to do more than win the allegiance of its surviving Blackfyre allies. The Reach had proved fertile ground for Daemon I Blackfyre and Bittersteel when they rose against the Iron Throne. The Blackfyres’ ideological (and biological) successors would now turn to the Reach once again.
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
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.
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.
As many of you know, George RR Martin released a new Winds of Winter sample chapter on April 2, 2015 from the perspective of Alayne (Sansa). So, of course we had to analyze it. In this special edition of the Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire podcast, the entire team delves into the chapter and the various plots, themes and characters revolving around the chapter including:
The history of this Winds of Winter chapter
The Conflict of Identity between Alayne & Sansa
Myranda Royce, Frenemy
The Hunger Games of Lord Littlefinger
The Controversy Surrounding this Chapter (and the controversy about the controversy)
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.
In terms of interests in ASOIAF, one of biggest interests is The Winds of Winter. George RR Martin’s long-awaited 6th novel is a topic that many people are curious about (or desperate to get their hands on). But for me, my interests in the book is… well, it’s something a little more than simple interest. Whether it’s the writing progress, sample chapters, read chapters or really anything, I’ve tried to get my hands on every scrap of information about The Winds of Winter. Over on /r/asoiaf, I wrote up a Grand Winds of Winter post about 9 months ago, but I didn’t have the space on reddit to make the post as grand as it could possibly be. So, I thought I might try to compile the true Winds of Winter resource here on the blog.
Spoiler Warning: Everything past this point will contain spoilers for The Winds of Winter.
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.