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.
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.
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.
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.