Quick Analysis of Rogues!

Ok, so I’m 2700 words into Davos I and it’s clearly going to be a doozy, so I thought I’d take a quick break and give you a rundown on Rogues, which itself is a prequel to “The Princess and the Queen.” For my thoughts on that piece, see here. Spoilers under the cut!

  • Jaehaerys – in retrospect, it’s a bit odd to think of Jaehaerys as “the Old King” given that he died about thirty years younger than Maester Aemon. However, we now know who his dead son was – Baelon Targaryen, who seems to have been a competent Targaryen in the model of Viserys or Baelor Breakspear. I wonder what happened to his daughter Saera?
  • Aemma Arryn – miscarriages and SIDS; proof of Arryn genetic weakness or Targaryen incest causing problems? (We see the same phenomenon with Prince Jaehaerys and Laena’s stillborn son, so I’m leaning to the latter)
  • Viserys I – a good argument why being well-loved and charismatic is not a guarantee of good government. In his constant and failed attempts to patch together the factions, reminds me a lot of Henry VI in his more lucid moments, although I see a lot of Henry III in him as well. Probably a good example of what may well have happened to King Renly had he won and had to balance his Tyrell followers with the other Great Houses. Losing two fingers to the Iron Throne is not a good epitaph.
  • Ser Otto Hightower seems overall like a good Hand committed to continuity between administrations, if a tad bit too ambitious for his own good, and highly influential in shaping court politics (his shift between backing Rhaenrya to backing his daughter’s children, for example). Definitely see why he turned against a “second Maegor the Cruel.”
  • Daemon Targaryen – Christ, what an asshole. Makes you think Westeros barely dodged a bullet with this guy. Awful to his wives, awful to his family generally, sadistic and violent, ambitious and warlike and yet totally uninterested in governance, mutinous and practically rebellious,
  • On the other hand, his institutional changes to the City Watch are quite impressive, although from the description of his time spent in winesinks and gambling pits, it’s unclear how much his new “order” masked a more genteel corruption.
  • Man, fanfic writers are going to love Mushroom. Dude had a dirty mind!
  • Ser Criston Cole – seems a bit anti-climactic given how badly he flamed out during the Dance. If I have one critique of the Dance from a worldbuilding perspective, it’s that the greens just seem to bumble their way into every infantry engagement in ways that make it hard to see how they won the damn thing. I have to admit that disarming a Valyrian steel sword in a melee (?!) is impressive though. Also, his motivations here re: Rhaenrya only get more confusing.
  • Lyonel Strong – our first example of a smart big guy in the series? The Strongs remind me a bit of the Umbers, although a bit darker. The rise and fall of the Strongs is quite dramatic; the curse of Harrenhal is no joke.
  • Definitely see the origins of the Hightower/Velayron conflict here with Viserys’ remarriage.
  • We learn a lot more of the Triarchy/Kingdom of the Three Sisters. Interesting to see that the arrangement actually lasted thirty-four years, given the potential tensions inside the arrangement. However, anti-Volantine sentiment can get you a long way – enough to dominate the Narrow Sea under Craghas Crabfeeder. I’m guessing “Three Whores” stems from anti-merchant prejudice among the Westerosi nobility as well as the steep tolls they charged.
  • Really would love to know more about the Black Swan; seems like ladies of the Swanns have a habit of being abducted in dramatic fashion.
  • Interesting that Daemon and the Velaryons’ war didn’t spill over into Westeros (besides Dornish intervention), but you can definitely see in Daemon both a skill at aggression and a slapdash approach to holding territory that will mark the black cause in the Dance.
  • Yeah, a closeted marriage really doesn’t work out unless both parties are ok with it; definitely seeing shades of Edward II and Piers Gaveston here. Definitely see how Rhaenrya got her reputation that we see in the Dance of the Dragons – I especially like the stories of her suitors. Brackens vs. Blackwoods, Lannister Twins, Tullys and Tyrells, it’s a fascinating bunch. Very interesting to think of what would have happened if Viserys had pulled the trigger on the Dornish marriage.
  • Daemon and Laena’s honeymoon tour – definitely seeing the roots of Daenerys’ stay in Qarth here.
  • Definitely get a lot more here about the use of dragon eggs as a kind of indicator of Targaryen legitimacy, which in turn explains the Mystery Knight.
  • Aegon III’s dragon egg never hatching seems a bit gilding the lilly.
  • Continuity error here with the Sea Snake.

 

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49 thoughts on “Quick Analysis of Rogues!

  1. AJD says:

    Any thoughts on parallels between Daemon Targaryen and his great-grandson Daemon Blackfyre? I feel the rogue prince could easily have gone Blackfyre’s path if there hadn’t been the Stepstones for him to let out some of his energy, as an aggressive and militaristic younger brother to a king with a more scholarly and non-violent personality. (And, of course, he did end up as military leader of a rebellion, at that.)

    • DT seemed to come really, really close to it. Hence the egg for his bastard, and calling himself heir for a day.

      I think the difference is that, until his late move toward the Velayrons and then Rhaenyra, DT didn’t have any constituency and even then they weren’t for him as King. DB definitely did have a constituency who wanted him on the Iron Throne.

      • AJD says:

        And come to think of it, Blackfyre gained some of his allies because of Daeron’s marriage alliance with Dorne—which Viserys had also contemplated. If Viserys had gone through with it, it might have given Daemon more of a constituency.

      • David Hunt says:

        I’ve not read either of these stories, but I’d like to ask your opinion on something regarding the Blackfyre Rebellion.

        It was my impression that another reason for DB’s constituency was the rumors that Daeron was actually the child of Aemon the Dragonknight.. If neither of them were legitimate, then it meant siding with the Blacks over the Reds wasn’t really treason. What’s your impression on how much of this rumor was believed by DB’s followers and how much it was simply a useful slur to undermine Daeron’s support in the fashion of the mudslinging in ACOK where the small council just sit around figuring out which lies about Stannis are most likely to catch on with the public?

        • Sean C. says:

          I tend to think that the rumours about Aemon/Naerys were manufactured by people who wanted Daemon to be king, because it really makes very little sense that this affair ever happened. I’m sure there’s a basis to Aemon having been Naerys’ ally during Aegon IV’s reign, but for Daeron to have been Aemon’s child they would have had to have been conducting a secret affair through the reigns of Aegon III, Daeron I, Baelor I, and Viserys II, and Aegon IV, and nobody noticed (Aegon IV, from what we’ve seen of him, is not the sort of person who would let something like that slide), but then it somehow became known after everybody involved was dead.

          As the Blackfyre threat receded, the propaganda against Daeron II’s line gradually became a romantic story that had no real political context anymore. Actually, it’s been my pet theory that at a certain point in the history of the Targaryen monarchy, the Aemon/Naerys story actually became more of a help than a hindrance. It’s much better to be descended from the greatest knight who ever lived than the man widely thought of as Westeros’ worst king.

          • I don’t see why that’s a reasont they couldn’t have had an affair.

          • Sean C. says:

            If nobody knew about when the parties involved were alive (and Aemon and Naerys both predeceased Aegon), how did it become known after everybody’s deaths? It doesn’t seem to be based on written evidence or particular witnesses, rather something that people around them just knew, but it’s highly implausible that their affair was court knowledge. Aegon IV would not have stood for it, and certainly not allowed for Daeron to succeed him. The hyper-religious Baelor I would not have arranged the Martell marriage with a child that he knew or suspected to be a bastard. Indeed, given that he shut his own sisters up to keep them from temptation or being tempted, one imagine he’d have taken action against Aemon and Naerys.

          • 1. If Tywin could close his eyes to scandal, Baelor definitely good. Especially given the Daena the Defiant precedent.

            2. Isn’t it arguable that him legitimating his bastards and preferring his love child to Daeron was his back-handed way of not standing for it without admitting he had been cuckolded?

          • David Hunt says:

            There was an formal accusation made. There’s an early Sansa chapter in AGOT, maybe the first one, where she’s fantasizing about how life in the songs was so great. A specific example was Aemon defending the honor of his sister against the vile accusations of…I can’t remember and don’t have access to it at my office. There was a Trial by Combat where Aemon defending Naeys and himself. Being Aemon the Dragonknight, he won. So whether there was an actual affair or not, there was enough attraction between the two of them that Ser Whoever was able to make an accusation that had to be dealt with.

            Bealor would not have done a thing about that no matter how damning the evidence was, because the gods had spoken. Aemon had proved their innocence in Trial by Combat. His piety would not have allowed him to see it any other way. The Seven were infallible and Aemon was virtually the Warrior incarnate. Any evidence to the contrary had to be mistaken or fraudulent. Any witnesses had to be misled or perjuring themselves. The judgment of the gods HAD to be correct.

            I don’t know how prideful Aegon IV was about such things but it’s known that he and his wife were not a good match. I would say that he didn’t believe there was an affair or that he didn’t believe that Daeron was Aemon’s son. It might have been the case that he just knew for a fact that Aemon couldn’t have been the father because Aemon was off on some sort of state business when the Daeron was conceived, or maybe he’d slept with her at the appropriate time and thought his kingly seed would overpower his brother’s, or he just thought that his brother was too honorable to have slept with his wife, or….etc.

            So whether Argon didn’t believe there was an affair or he believed/knew Dearon was his son anyway, he still kept Daeron as his heir, even though Daemon was clearly the apple of his eye. Then again, he did legitimize all his bastards, practically (literally?) on his deathbed, so maybe he was planning to try to make Daemon his heir and died/was murdered before he could do it.

          • Or…like Baelor, there was little he could do about it once the trial had happened.

          • Sean C. says:

            There’s no indication of what Ser Morgil accused Naerys of, merely that he slandered her.

            Nothing we’ve been told about Aegon IV would suggest that he was the kind of guy who would just let pass rumours that his wife was having an affair, and that his heir was illegitimate.

          • Sean C. says:

            If the matter of Daeron’s paternity had been formally settled in a trial by combat, the characters would make note of that.

          • GRRM has confirmed that Aegon the Unworthy suspected that Daeron was Aemon’s son, not his, and that this was (one of the reasons) why he gave the Blackfyre sword to Daemon, something I suspected anyway.

            I can’t find the link at the moment, unfortunately – I think it’s somewhere in So Spake Martin/Correspondence with Fans.

  2. David says:

    Can anyone make a recommendation on other stories from Dangerous Women or Rogues? Haven’t read any of the other…

    • Abbey Battle says:

      I can recommend the Jim Butcher and Sharon Penman shorts in ‘Dangerous Women’ and the Neil Gaiman short in ‘Rogues’ whole-heartedly!

    • James SC says:

      I read the two Joe Abercrombie shorts. The one in DW was a stand alone prequel to Red Country, but the one in Rogues is an amusing little yarn.

  3. Winnie says:

    I understand you wanting a break Steve but I just hope that you don’t get too caught up in side projects just like a certain unnamed author!

  4. Andrew says:

    1) Do you think the greens were poisoning Viserys, which was the cause of his ailing health? I think from the looks of it in TPatQ, they were waiting for it.

    2) If Viserys expected Rhaenyra to be his heir, he shouldn’t have remarried as sons would inevitably complicate things. That is not without mentioning the violation of precedent of the Great Council that named him Jaehaerys’s heir.

    2) I think Rhaenyra and Cole did have an affair (he isn’t most chivalrous of knights given his murder of Beesbury and killing the smallfolk at Rook’s Rest), and Cole didn’t take rejection well, given his fury where he killed Joffrey at a tourney. I think Alicent likely swooped in to keep the LC of the KG in her pocket.

    4) Also, a little nitpick, Alicent is Otto’s daughter not sister.

    • 1. It’s possible, especially given the whole change of maesters thing. But a wound like that is pretty damn likely to fester and kill you anyway.

      2. Agreed.

      3. Quite possible.

      4. Fixed.

      • Andrew says:

        Gerardys, the Grand Maester who helped Viserys to improve was the same one whom Aegon II fed to his dragon, likely before Viserys died given Orwyle is mentioned as being the Grand Maester at the time of Viserys’s death. It just brings to mind Jon Arryn’s case with Pycelle sending his maester away.

        On another note, one thing I give Jaehaerys credit for is doing what his grandfather, Aegon, should have done, marry his children into the other Great Houses, giving them an interest in the survival of House Targaryen.

        I do wonder what happened to Saera as well. Did she run away on her dragon? Or was she married off to some high-ranking head of state in one of the Free Cities like the Prince of Pentos?

        • Sean C. says:

          I can’t see how Aegon feeding Gerardys to the dragon could possibly fit into the timeline of Viserys’ death (wouldn’t somebody have commented on a new grand maester suddenly appearing?).

  5. Sean C. says:

    Regarding the character of Prince Daemon, we get virtually nothing about him in the second half of this story (much like Alicent in “The Princess and the Queen”; it feels like both of these stories should have been labeled as being about Rhaenyra, who’s the most consistently-featured person in them). It seems like he must have mellowed considerably as he got older, particularly given the latter story, where he acts like an aging samurai and goes out in a one-on-one duel with Aemond (the younger Daemon at the start of this story would have just high-tailed it out of Westeros with Nettles, or whatever).

    Regarding the fire at Harrenhal, I wrote my own little analysis of the suspects (I think it was Larys, in brief, assuming it was anyone): http://colonel-green.tumblr.com/post/89475105264/homicide-by-fire-the-mystery-of-the-death-of-ser

    One aspect of this story that I found very interesting is Targaryen policy regarding dragons. We don’t exactly know how the supply/demand ratio works, but it seems like the first generations of House Targaryen had a comparatively limited number of dragons, before the number exploded amongst Viserys and Daemon’s children/grandchildren. Generations as we know them:

    1. Aegon I (Balerion) – Rhaenys (Meraxes, died) – Visenya (Vhagar)
    2. Aenys I (Quicksilver) – Maegor (Balerion)
    3. Aegon (Quicksilver, died) – Rhaena (Dreamfyre) – Viserys (?) – Alysanne (Silverwing) – Jaehaerys I (Vermithor)
    4. Aemon (?) – Baelon (?) – Daella (?) – Saera (?) – Five other children (?)
    5. Rhaenys (Meleys) – Viserys (Balerion, died) – Daemon (Caraxes) – Aemma Arryn
    6. Laena Velaryon (Vhagar) – Laenor Velaryon (Seasmoke) – Rhaenyra (Syrax) – Aegon II (Sunfyre) – Aemond (Vhagar) – Helaena (Dreamfyre) – Daeron (Tessarion)
    7. Jacaerys Velaryon (Vermax) – Lucerys Velaryon (Arrax) – Joffrey Velaryon (Tyraxes) – Aegon III (Stormcloud) – Baela (Moondancer) – Jaehaerys (Shrykos) – Jaehaera (Morghul)

    There are major knowledge gaps in the second through fourth generations, as we know that Aenys I had sisters, there may have been additional children of Aenys I, and Jaehaerys I’s children are a great big unknown, though we don’t know how many of them were dragonriders (you would also have to account for where their dragons went, particularly in a time of peace; Meleys and Caraxes may have had earlier riders, but even that only gets you so far). The other issue regarding Jaehaerys I’s children is that though we know some of them married outside the Targaryen-Velaryon axis, they don’t seem to have brought any dragons outside of it (we don’t know whether Daella even had a dragon, of course, but her children don’t seem to have, including Queen Aemma).

    However, before it was stopped by a combination of circumstances and the death of all the dragons, it definitely looks like dragons were on the verge of proliferating outside the royal family. Daemon was married to Lady Rhea Royce, and while they ended up having no children, if they had, Daemon clearly expected to be able to give his children dragon eggs (though when it was a bastard, Viserys I ordered him not to), or at a minimum, to be able to pass on his own dragon, Caraxes. Rhaenys was able not only to take her own dragon outside of the Targaryen power base (for much of this period the Velaryons were considered a rival faction, of sorts), but also to give dragons to her Velaryon children (including Vhagar, the uber-dragon; I tend to assume Prince Aemon must have been the preceding rider). It’s less surprising that Rhaenyra’s “Velaryon” children got them, since they were the heirs to the throne.

    Most amazingly, it appears from the text that Braavos was on the verge of getting its very own dragon (and not just any dragon, Vhagar), had the Sealord not died and his son pissed away all the family’s money. Would that not have had enormous repercussions for their whole political system? It would have been hard enough for the Arryns to deal with a vassal House Royce with dragons.

    • Sean C. says:

      Also, this story kind of rebuts the common presumption that the glory years of House Targaryen (Jaehaerys I and Viserys I, an 82-year span that seems equivalent to the “Five Good Emperors” of Rome) were sustained entirely by dragonpower, seeing as Viserys I ruled essentially unchallenged for thirty years without a dragon of his own, and during the early years of his reign had no reliable adult dragons under his command at all, just Rhaenyra’s young Syrax, whereas the Velaryons had Meleys and Vhagar (and the young Seasmoke), and the “rogue” Daemon was off doing his own things with Caraxes.

      • I think it’s more a symbolic thing – as far as anyone oustide of the Red Keep knew, the Targs had eggs and dragons, even if their ability to actually project them wasn’t as solid as people thought.

    • Well, there definitely sees to be a link between dragons and dragon-riders – so it may well be that the decline in Targaryen numbers reduced the ability to hatch new ones.

  6. Abbey Battle says:

    Maester Steven, I’m very glad to see your thoughts on the ‘Rogue Prince’ and find them as interesting as ever; if I may share a few of my own:-

    (1) I must apologise for beginning with a correction of a misconception on your part, but I thought it best to start with the medicine and hope that what follows will be a sweetening chaser – if I remember correctly it was the dragon of VISERYS the Younger and not that of his brother (the future Aegon III) which failed to hatch.

    Recall that Aegon the Younger escaped captivity at the hands of the Three Sisters even as his little brother was claimed by virtue of his first – and last – dragon flight, at the cost of his dragons life (as depicted in ‘The Princess and the Queen’).

    (2) My personal theory concerning the death of Ser Laenor Velaryon is that, assuming his murder was NOT a simple crime of passion (and given that there is no record of the murderers capture, one has to at least consider the possibility that there was some planning behind all this – one wonders if the murderer wound up in the Stepstones?), the most likely candidate for Evil Genius is … Ser Harwin Strong.

    Consider that while he had been Paramour to the Princess ‘on the quiet’ for years and that he had little to fear from her husband, this happy state of affairs seems to have undergone a shift in the wake Lady Laena’s death; it’s not impossible that he may have feared that the shared grief of the Realm’s Delight and the Rogue Prince (not to mention the sheer political usefulness of a Targaryen-looking child) might have led to his being supplanted as paramour-in-residence by Prince Daemon.

    Given this and what he stood to gain (in theory) from a widowed Rhaenyra – his sons, security of tenure, the rank of Prince Consort of Dragonstone and quite possibly Prince Consort of the Seven Kingdoms – as well as what he might offer (a Hand of the King as Father-in-Law AND the support of Harrenhal) I think that this theory deserves serious consideration.

    If this theory is correct, then it makes the idea that Prince Daemon may have masterminded a plot against Ser Harwin a little more plausible to boot (he does not strike me as the sort to tolerate that sort of rivalry).

    (3) I’ll bet a groat against a gold dragon that Mushroom wrote the scurrilous history of his with no greater ambition than to amuse himself at the expense of his previous employers and that his History is therefore no more reliable than it has to be!

    On a more serious note I have an abiding suspicion that HE was the inside man facilitating the introduction of Blood and Cheese to ruin the Green’s supper; if nothing else we know he frequented the rat-pits of Flea Bottom and his fondness for libelling Prince Daemon and Princess Rhaenyra implies that he was well-acquainted with them (it’s not impossible that he might have had some acquaintance with the secret passages of the Red Keep, providing him with an interesting variety of gossip).

    (4) I agree that there’s more than a hint of Henry the Sixth in the Young King (I keep thinking of that last banquet with the Blacks and the Greens as ‘Loveday’ for obvious reasons), but I’d also argue that there’s more than a hint of Edward the Seventh to King Viserys persistent diplomatic firefighting when it comes to his hideously-adversarial nearest and dearest.

    I honestly suspect that if nothing else Viserys must have been something of a diplomatic genius for he seems to have avoided any hint of war with Dorne and the Three Sisters even as it left the Stepstones red with blood – and more to the point he managed to avoid all danger from House Verlaryon (which commanded no fewer than THREE dragons and at points four to his one until the children of Queen Alicent came of age, as well as a serious claim to the Iron Throne – no wonder he wanted more children, so that he might expand his core of loyalist dragon-riders) AND his excessively-energetic brother.

    He seems to have been a surprisingly strong king, despite being a somewhat easy-going personality and more than a little too indulgent of his family (although as Lord Otto and bold Ser Vaemond’s kin learned one pushed His Grace too far only at peril to oneself).

    (5) One has to wonder if there may have been more to King Viserys indulgence of his brother’s pretensions to a Throne in the Narrow Sea than simple relief at his absence; consider that by dint of a small infusion of funds here and there, King Viserys diverts the aggressive energies of TWO potential rivals (and any of the more belligerent youths in the Seven Kingdoms – amongst whom I suspect we must number Roddy the Ruin and the Red Kraken) from potentially plotting against HIM to exacting revenge upon the Prince-Admirals of the Triarchy for their mistreatment of King Viserys leal subjects (all without being obliged to wage war at his own expense and risk seeing others of the Free Cities drawn in against a threat from the Last Dragons, backed by the might of an entire CONTINENT).

    Well might he have welcomed his brother back with open arms, not merely as a prodigal sibling but as a highly useful proxy!

    It’s also interesting that Prince Daemon’s ‘Second Honeymoon’ took him on a tour of those Free Cities most likely to resent the power of Tyrosh, Lys and Myr …

    (6) I must say that I have never thought that Prince Aegon’s quote “what sort of brother steals his sister’s inheritance?” or words to that effect were falsified and what we learn of his character in The Rogue Prince offers at least one convincing interpretation – he was a comfortable, lazy prince who did not require convincing to dispossess his sister, but DID require a deal of convincing to persuade him to hazard his own comfortable lifestyle and more to the point accept the risk of unleashing War across the Sunset Kingdoms.

    Put another way, he wasn’t unwilling to become King, but he WAS reluctant to become a priority target …

    (7) I have to admit that I personally find it easier to image Ser Criston Cole as a man who considered the loss of his Honour to be as great a sacrifice as the loss of Seven Kingdoms and was mightily insulted when his Princess (who came on to HIM) disagreed, then compounded the insult by trying to make him her paramour (instead of an honest husband), making him her mortal enemy for life – so in other words the sort of arrogant prig who would slit the throat of an old man rather than risk seeing the Throne handed to the Black Princess.

    Maester Steven, may I please ask what continuity error connected to the Sea-Snake you have glimpsed?

    • Sean C. says:

      Mushroom’s history is a fairly obvious fictionalization of Procopius’ “Secret History” of the reign of Justinian and Theodora.

    • 1. Too many Targaryens.
      2. I’d put more weight on Daemon, actually, given his desire to get his hands on some house’s money.
      3. Possibly, I do think Mushroom bears quite a resemblance to Procopius.
      4. I think you’re being far too generous. He seems pretty weak to me.
      5. Yeah, it was useful. On the other hand, the moment he’s back, he’s plotting to grab power.
      6. It’s a good point.

      The Sea Snake thing is that I’m pretty sure he’s alive in P&Q.

      • Sean C. says:

        The story doesn’t state that he died (unless I missed it), merely that he fell ill and people thought he was going to die.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        Thank you kindly as ever for your replies Maester Steven!

        (1) Doubtless the Seven Kingdoms would agree with you, especially those subjects resident in The Citadel at Oldtown …

        (2) That seems a superficially plausible interpretation at the very least, but I have to say that it does not convince me because murdering his brother-in-law in a bid to get his hands on the wealth of House Velaryon seems a counter-productive move for Prince Daemon – for one thing there’s a very real risk that he’ll tick off both his father-in-law (not to mention his formidable mother-in-law AND her dragon), as well as Princess Rhaenyra in the process.

        Given that he’s already in the good books of House Velaryon and benefitting from their hospitality (also a LONG way from inheritance in any case) I just don’t think the potential rewards of shanking Ser Laenor outweigh the risk of losing everything … at least not for Prince Daemon (consider that whatever happens Ser Harwin has his father and his inheritance as a buffer against failure or even discovery, to a degree).

        By the way, for all his youthful follies and lack of inclination to govern, we have good evidence that at the very least Prince Daemon is not STRATEGICALLY reckless – consider his advice to Princess Rhaenyra when the Black Council discusses their first moves in the Dance of the Dragons – and supporting the assassination of his good-brother would be a downright stupid move for Prince Daemon at this point.

        (3) I don’t know enough about the historical personality to agree or disagree, but what little I know about that particular Byzantine clerk (and he must have had testicular fortitude on a level approaching the adamantine to cheek the likes of Justinian the Great or Belisarius!) inclines me to agree.

        Although it’s equally hard to avoid comparisons with Mr Danny Devito’s character in L.A. Confidential – it seems I shall now forever afterwards imagine Mushroom with that insinuating wheedle of a voice, hush hush and all!

        (4) In all honesty I believe that you may be a little unfair to His Grace, but I suspect that there’s at least equal evidence to support either argument – I do honestly think that it may be more accurate to call Viserys a SOFT king rather than a weak one (considering that despite that he survived that troublesome brother of his, as well as a Hand who seems to have regarded the King in the same way a schoolmaster scowls at an erring pupil and the core of a potential rebellion on Driftmark).

        Certainly his mastery of ‘Soft’ political power seems to have been considerable, even if it’s short term successes led to trouble in the long term (although unlike some I regard his marriage with Queen Alicent as sensible – why settle for a disinterested child who MAY bear children in a few years when you can wed a woman ready and willing to produce a brood of potential dragon-riders fit to spike Prince Daemon’s ambitions NOW?).

        I’m also in complete disagreement with those commenters who seem to have decided that King Viserys treated his children by Queen Alicent as second-class citizens; his remark that Her Grace wanted to place her blood on the Iron Throne seems to be more a statement of fact by a king disappointed in his hopes that his daughter and his wife would be allies, rather than enemies not a contemptuous observation of the obvious.

        Also anyone who reads his remark to Prince Aemond about his being ‘bold enough’ to claim a dragon as anything other than a spot of teasing directed at a youth already notorious for being a bit TOO fiery-spirited for anyone’s good is kidding themselves so far as I am concerned.

        (5) I’m not sure I agree with this assessment; he’s certainly keen to ingratiate himself with his brother, but then so is anyone who wants to be someone in the Seven Kingdoms. From what I can gather Prince Daemon genuinely seems to settle down after his marriage to the Lady Laena (although I suspect his desire to retain power sufficient to maintain his rank and reputation would be as strong as ever).

        To be honest his marriage to Princess Rhaenyra MIGHT be seen as a power grab, but in all honesty it looks more like a mutual defence pact (my money would be on the match having been arranged in the wake of Prince Aemond being relieved of his eye – not only has the line between Black and Green finally been drawn in blood, but the grandson of Prince Daemon’s least favourite person acquires the most puissant dragon in the World), which becomes all the more necessary once Otto Hightower becomes Hand to the King for a second time.

        At a guess Aegon the Younger, future Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, was conceived at some point between the tragedy of Harrenhal and the catastrophic retrenchment of Lord Otto (it’s not impossible that Aegon the Third may have been born prematurely, given that he is described as ‘small’).

        (6) You flatter me sir and I am glad to receive such a compliment!

        • 2. I don’t know, I think his campaign in the Stepstones shows that while he can be strategically brilliant, he also has a high tolerance for risk and a low attention span.

          3. One of my favorite movies. I agree.

          4. Soft would be accurate, but he clearly also just did not think ahead and assumed people would get along because he wanted them to.

  7. Abbey Battle says:

    One last thought; while it is eminently possible that Larys Strong MIGHT have murdered his Father and Brother, we have no real evidence of any predilection for assassination in the rest of his recorded career to date – consider that his actions against the Blacks are indirect, although I wonder if Ser Perkin the Flea was not his lordship’s proxy and it’s not impossible that The Shepherd might have been herded towards his ‘lambs’ – and I would note that an assassination by fire risks the very inheritance that the Master of Whispers may well have been striving to acquire.

    Any heir of Harrenhal has better reason to know that fire BURNS than most (and I’d like to note that the Stroong Castellan of Harrenhal mentioned in ‘The Princess and the Queen’ might have an equally plausible motive for removing those higher up the line of succession than he, especially if Lord Larys were not the marrying kind).

    • Sean C. says:

      Harrenhal is still around despite getting torched by dragonfire, so I doubt he’d be that worried about the damage a much smaller one could do. Even if it did really damage one of the towers, there’s still the other four.

      Actually, the lack of repair work done on Harrenhal over the subsequent three centuries is more than a little odd to me. Certainly, it’s much larger than the needs of its occupants (it’s designed to be a king’s seat), but you would think they would want to spruce the place up (and considering its strategic importance, surely they’d have been able to get the king to help with that).

      • Abbey Battle says:

        I have no doubt that Harrenhal has seen a fair amount of repair-work over those centuries and more than enough violent action to render those repairs somewhat futile!

        By the way Colonel Green, if you want to fire another volley at Lord Varys over on Westeros.org then I would suggest that The Shepherd is almost certain to have been one of the poor unfortunates upon whose flocks Sheepstealer was wont to swoop in pursuit of a barbecue – or possibly a victim of Prince Aemond and Vhagar – having lost his living and a limb in a single fell swoop, it’s not hard to imagine why he got Religion and conceived a burning desire to kill every dragon, then proceeded to preach The Word to the largest possible audience.

      • It’s a white elephant thing – the cost of upkeep and renovations are way too pricey, and you simply don’t need that much space unless you’ve got 40-50,000 men there, at which point Kings start to get nervous.

        • Abbey Battle says:

          Either that or they skip right past ‘Nervous’ and straight into ‘Open Warfare’ as I suspect the last of the Lothstones discovered to their cost!

        • Andrew says:

          I guess that’s because Harrenhal was meant for a king who had the resources of the riverlands and the Iron Isles to pay for its upkeep and garrison its walls, as the incomes from the lands directly under Harrenhal can’t pay for the castle itself.

  8. Abbey Battle says:

    Ahem, I meant ‘The Castellan, Blood of House Strong’ who seems to have been an Uncle or Great-Uncle to the Lord … and one with children and grandchildren of his own.

  9. Abbey Battle says:

    One last thought; it’s not impossible that Prince Daemon may have earned the lasting enmity of the Hightower Hand by making an unwelcome advance upon the Lady Alicent; an attempted rape would explain the sheer HATRED both the Green Queen and her father felt for the Rogue Prince – admittedly it’s not impossible that Prince Daemon came on to her in a more roguish fashion, was rejected and then spread slanders against her (probably with the enthusiastic assistance of Mushroom).

  10. Abbey Battle says:

    I’d also like to add – and I hope this will be my final remark for the night – that reading ‘A King’s Brother’ has only strengthened my conviction that Prince Daemon and Prince Aemond are mirror-images of one another (which makes their final confrontation easier to swallow – both of them seem to live life as if it were a Fantasy Epic with themselves as HERO Protagonist and are therefore mad enough to fight to the death in single combat rather than make a more sensible use of their time).

  11. Andrew says:

    Aegon III’s egg did hatch, the dragon’s name was “Stormcloud.” It was Viserys’s egg that didn’t hatch.

    Confucius would criticize Viserys I for not keeping his family in order. Although, Viserys did try by having Rhaenyra’s children raised alongside Alicent’s. The conflict began with the mothers, Rhaenyra saw Alicent’s children as a danger to her inheritance while Alicent saw Rhaenyra as an impediment to her children’s inheritance.

    Did you think Daemon did deflower Alicent? Daemon was handsome, charming and a bit of je ne sais quoi, akin to Oberyn, and he has no inexperience with women.

    • Abbey Battle says:

      On the other hand he was also a married man and the Lady Alicent would have to be more reckless than we ever see her be in ‘The Rogue Prince’ to let him enjoy the perks of married life without paying the bride-price; it’s not impossible that she sacrificed her maidenhead to bind him more closely to him – but it’s equally possible that he may have made a failed pass at her and spun the story that he had gone where no man had gone before as a face-saving slander.

      Alternatively he may have simply refused to take ‘No thank you’ for an answer and … well, it wouldn’t be very hard to see where Green accusations that he was a second Maegor came from in that case (although given that her father was Hand to the King and Daemon a mere second son, it seems unlikely that he got away with anything without Lady Alicent’s consent – especially since the Reigning King was Viserys and not Joffrey ‘Baratheon’).

  12. MightyIsobel says:

    Finally got my hands on *Rogues*. My favorite trivia I haven’t seen covered here is about how Lady Jeyne Arryn of the Eyrie flat refuses Prince Daemon’s claim to Runestone, as if she did not consult the King, her purported feudal overlord. Though it’s hard to tell because it’s not at all clear that King Viserys would have backed his brother’s claim. Perhaps Westerosi Great Houses have in land ownership absolute rights equivalent to the pit-and-gallows in criminal procedure? This seems helpful for comparing the governance of the Seven Kingdoms to historical European feudalism. It seems like the Targaryen hold on the lands of Westeros isn’t as strong as a European medieval king’s would have been.

    Re: Daemon Targaryen, historical sources of. There’s a brother of the King in Maurice Druon’s The Accursed Kings series who shares some of Daemon’s dickish ambition. He was Charles of Valois, brother of Philippe le Bel. And GRRM recommends Druon, has definitely read the series.

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