Race for the Iron Throne Guest Appearance on Boiled Leather!

Furthering the expansion of Race for the Iron Throne into yet more forms of media, I appeared on the Boiled Leather Audio Hour alongside Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone’s Game of Thrones blogger and operator of boiledleather.com, and Stefan Sasse, co-host on the Boiled Leather Audio Hour and renowned essayist for Tower of the Hand. The topic of our discussion:

 …the graphic-novel adaptation of A Game of Thrones by Daniel Abraham and Tommy Patterson, a comic Stefan reviewed for Tower of the Hand and I reviewed for The Comics Journal. Spoiler alert: None of us liked it! Our explanations as to why tackle issues of adaptation, the strengths of comics as an art form, George R.R. Martin’s experience and interests in the field, the Dunk and Egg comics, the flourishing of alternative-fantasy comics, and Catelyn Stark’s nude scene.

But our main topic, which kicks off around the 15:51 mark, is prophecy—what it is, how many different kinds there are, how it works as both a plot device and literary technique, what it means for the free will of the characters, reader reaction (in some cases overreaction), and (inevitably) what we think is going on with Azor Ahai, the Prince That Was Promised, the House of the Undying, and all that good stuff. When you’re a big ASoIaF fan this topic is sort of like crystal meth, so take a big freaking hit of the blue with us, won’t you?

Take a Listen!


11 thoughts on “Race for the Iron Throne Guest Appearance on Boiled Leather!

  1. Fire in the World says:

    No one has yet commented this excellent podcast dialogue. Gents, it was great. I gained a tremendous amount of insight into the characters, and into GRRM’s storytelling. My readings and re-readings going forward will be much enhanced by it.

    Since mine is the first comment on this post, I’m going to take advantage. I came to this blog only a few days ago, and hence am not certain where the material gathered below truly belongs. Hence it is my intent to dump it all here.

    Make of it what you will.

    Cersei as a bad mother: Not so fast say I. She appears to have been a reasonably good mother to Myrcella and Tommen, both of whom come off as sane and well-adjusted. Moral of the story I think: It’s impossible to look like a good parent when one of your kids is a sociopath. Please note that this is not a defense of her as a wife, as an individual who makes questionable personal choices, as a contender for power, or as a ruler. She’s proven over and over again either to be no good at any of these things, or even where capable, to be unprincipled and vicious.

    Melisandre: where does she come from? Oh, I know. I know. Asshai you say. And she was once a slave named Melony. Her magic is real and she knows its limits. But one thing true of the entire ASOIAF series. Everyone is where they are for a reason. From the prologue to ACAK, she seems a fairly recent arrival to Stannis’ circle. She seems also on the whole, a bit unaware of Westerosi persons and politics; someone who would not have known Renly from Robb from Balon from Stannis, unless someone told her. So who told her, and why? There does not seem to be a pope of R’hllor; each red priest, or at least each temple, seems to be more or less on his her or its own. Is she just one more pawn in the whole Targayanist “keep Westeros in chaos” plan, but still operating for her own deeper, but however mistaken, spiritual purpose?

    How is Jon Snow any part of Azor Ahai if he is stabbed at least once in the gut and once more between the shoulder blades and multiple times thereafter? But wait! Red priests do have life-giving power. Thoros keeps Beric Dondarrion alive through multiple cases of mortal wounds. And he passes on his power to Beric, who then revives Catelyn at the cost of his own life. So will Melisandre revive Jon in the same way? Or are his wounds less severe than it seems? But who nurses him to health if everyone on the wall has turned against him?

    The point of Targaryen incest: Several very knowledgeable commenters have pointed out how royal incest was not seen in Medieval Europe or in any cultures that were at all similar. It’s not the norm in Westeros, either and does not seem to be normative in any of the cultures we so far have encountered in Essos. Jamie and Cersei are just the kind of outliers that can be found in any culture. So why are the Targaryens so highly incestuous? What we do know about them in a “genetic” sense is that the family carries a recessive gene that confers immunity to fire and intense heat. This is the gene that preserves Denaerys when she walks into Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre, and again when she mounts Drogon at the arena in Meereen. So I think the point of that family’s practice is to preserve the gene such that they can continue to breed children who can control dragons. Maybe this gene was more common in Old Valyria.

    R+L=J?? I don’t know. IN ADWD, there is a Three Sisters legend that Ned was saved from death during Robert’s Rebellion by a fisherman’s daughter, who then became pregnant by Ned with the result being a son, whom Ned eventually came and got. You don’t always have to be somebody’s kid to be special.

    Would Westeros have been better off, that is, more peaceful, more prosperous, better prepared for winter, if Aerys and Rhaegar had won the civil war? Rhaegar always is spoken of as a decent and very competent guy. Certainly he’d have made a far better king than Robert turned out to be. And at least there would not have been a boatload of Lannisters at court.

    But then Dany would have lived at King’s Landing, and would have married Viserys or some other senior aristo. She never would have gotten dragons’ eggs as a wedding present, and never would have known how to hatch them if she had. Indeed she might never have been born. And without dragons and without Daenerys to guide them there would be no way to overcome the white walkers.

    • stevenattewell says:

      Cersei – focused her motherly attentions on Joffrey as the heir to the Iron Throne, whereas Myrcella and Tommen were left more to their own devices. Myrcella especially is seen by Tyrion as having escaped her mother’s influence; and once Tommen becomes important, look how Cersei behaves towards him.

      Melisandre – as we see from her POV, she genuinely believes Stannis is Azor Ahai. She came to Dragonstone around the time of the comet, likely due to a prophetic vision or as part of her obsession with bringing dragons back to life in which case the original seat of the Targaryens built of volcanic rock and rich in dragonglass would be a good place to start. Each priest follows their own visions from the Red God – Melisandre believes Stannis is Azor Ahai, Moqorro and others believed Daenerys is, Thoros of Myr believed that R’hllor was working through Beric Dondarrion.

      Jon Snow – Azor Ahai come again must be “reborn” – Jon Snow has multiple options for rebirth. He has the warging ability and there’s the possibility of R’hlloran resurrection. I believe this death was foreseen when Jon dreams of being “armored in black ice, but his blade burned red in his fist.” The black ice resembles Victarion’s hand after being healed by Moqorro, the red blade of the last hero being a spitting image of Lightbringer.

      Targaryen incest – the recessive fireproof gene is unfortunately a misconception caused by the TV show’s foreshadowing. GRRM has clarified that it was the blood magic of the ritual that protected Daenerys in the fire and that had she tried it at any other time, she would have burnt. Now, incest in order to control dragons does make sense, especially among the nobility of Valryia whose power depended on dragons.

      R+L=J – That would be what we call a red herring, as is the possibility of Ned + Ashara or Ned + Wylla. Dramatically, having Jon Snow be born to a random commoner has no purpose.

      Aerys and Rhaegar winning the war – not really. At the end of the day, Aerys was a omnicidal madman and Rhaegar didn’t have much of a gameplan for dealing with him. Even if he had, the Targaryens had already made mortal enemies of four out of the seven Great Houses, which would have kept the Seven Kingdoms in political crisis for decades. Robert made a fairly competent King, and had Rhaegar survived he still would have had to rely on a Great House – either the Lannisters or the Tyrells.

  2. Fire in the World says:

    I think I must needs beat this dead horse once more.

    Cersei – Aside from a likely attempt to inculcate in Joffrey her screwed up idea of what would make a good king, I do not think that the somewhat less attention she paid to Tommen and Myrcella is sufficient to account in the dramatic difference between their personalities and Joffrey’s. Note that after Joffrey’s murder, she does start making attempts to get Tommen to “man up,” but such efforts seem to roll off his back like water off a duck. Even Ned Stark concedes she loves her children and he seems to be talking about the kind of love he has for his. We don’t really know what makes Joffrey the monster he is, or how any sociopath gets to be the way they get, but simply spoiling him would not be enough to make him that.

    You make good points about Melisandre. I point out once again that just about everyone in the series has a human, that is a “social” reason for being where they are, and I do not think Melisandre is any exception.

    You’ve got me convinced re Jon Snow, Azor Ahai and resurrection. I hadn’t remembered the “he has to be reborn” part of that mythology. Melisandre actually see knives all around him in her crystal. R’hllorian resurrection makes the most sense to me. To warg his way to survival, Jon would have to go into Ghost, and then lie in wait for a likely human body (like Varamyr actually does in the ADWD prologue). I don’t think Jon’s vicious or ruthless enough to do such a thing; he’s a sufficiently self-sacrificing guy, if that were the alternative he probably just would go ahead and live out the rest of his life in Ghost.

    Targaryen incest – The foreshadowing you mention is in the book (GOT) at the end of the chapter in which Viserys is killed. It’s presented as something Daenerys thinks, not something as in the TV show she says out loud. Earlier in that chapter Daenerys recalls Ser Jorah tellling her that Rhaegar was the last of the dragons. So if there’s a misapprehension, I’m afraid it’s GRRM’s own fault, not that of the TV writers.

    What this gets to is there just about has to be a family tradition of a trait, “Fire cannot kill a dragon,” for Daenerys even to be able to think such a thing. Maybe the trait needed to be activated by the blood sacrifice at Drogo’s funeral, by trauma, or whatever, but the story of the Targaryen heritage and how that works itself out in Daenerys makes the most dramatic sense if the family is conscious of a heritable trait that it needs to inbreed to keep. It seems they are the last survivors of the Valyrian nobility; it seems the Doom got all the rest.

    R+L=J – It would not surprise me if this is how it shakes out. Neverthelessl many a hero has come from an inauspicious birth to dramatic glory. I found the fisherma’s daughter story more compelling than the others. Although it is worth noting if the parentage was any other than R+L=J, there wouldn’t be such a compelling need to keep it secret. For what it’s worth, Jon’s warging and his second sight and even his fairly accurate sense of things beyond the wall come from his Stark heritage and the traits are very much shared at least by Bran and Arya.

    Different outcome to the Civil War: You’re right; if Aerys/Rhaegar win and Aerys does not die soon after, you get a horrible sh*tstorm, and a divided kingdom with the Reach, Dorne and possibly the Westerlands on one side and the other four dominions in turnoil and most of their nobility wanting vary badly to be against Aerys.

    I don’t agree re Robert. I think to the degree his reign was more or less functional had more to do with Jon Arryn than him. But even Arryn was only so effective. he could not prevent or counterbalance the accumulation of Lannisters at court, and apparently could not do anything to make sure Joffrey was raised right. (of course that might have been hopeless – see above).

    Finally it looks like the seven kingdoms are off to a good start for several decades of chaos. I don’t think the Connington/Aegon/Dorne grouping is strong enough to stop it. I don’t think Stannis, even with a reborn Jon Snow at his side even is capable of gathering enough support. And Varys made sure Kevan Lannister would be unable to stop it.

    Question: Has there been a winter between Robert’s Rebellion and Jon Arryn’s murder?

    • scarlett45 says:

      Yes there has been a winter. Roberto’s rebellion was 15yrs ago (book wise) and this winter was ten years long. Given that I don’t think people fight DURING winter, and the fact that Jon says in AGOT that he remembers a winter when he was “very young”, yes there has been a winter.

  3. […] It’s a nice touch, because it avoids the bombastic element often found in prophecy and other forms of clairvoyance. If every prophecy is about saving the world from certain destruction, if every past life is as an Egyptian princess or a priestess from Atlantis, then the monotony begins to work against the wonder of it all. Having Jojen see the future as it appears to both mundane and truly important events makes it feel more real. On the other hand, and I’ll get into this more next Bran chapter, this vision has a subtle nod to the Red Wedding, another ripple of that event back through time. […]

  4. […] other hand, it’s possible that GRRM is simply taking the opportunity to begin the process of outward ripples of the Red Wedding cascading through the minds of every clairvoyant in Westeros (as well Theon for some […]

  5. […] got his own head. This is just straight-up prophecy, as if the event is throwing ripples backwards in time and Theon is picking up the signal without any kind of heritage, training, ritual, or handy […]

  6. […] is a great example of how GRRM does prophecy: you have the correct prediction of a past event the audience will recognize (in this case, the […]

  7. […] Melisandre sees herself not merely as the passive recipient of prophecy, but as someone who can reshape destiny through her actions. It is this millenarianism that allows her to reintrepret a massive setback at Blackwater as a […]

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