Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Daenerys VIII

“This must not be!”

“This will be.”

Synopsis: Drogo, on the verge of death, falls off his horse and a “khal who cannot ride is no khal.” Desperate to keep Drogo alive, Dany agrees to Mirri Maz Duur‘s blood magic. This violation of Dothraki taboo unleashes total chaos within the khalasar. At this point, Dany goes into labor, but the only option for OB/GYN care is inside the tent where Mirri Maz Duur is communing with the shades of unquiet spirits, so Jorah carries her in. And you thought your health care system was messed up…

SPOILER WARNING: This chapter analysis, and all following, will contain spoilers for all Song of Ice and Fire novels and Game of Thrones episodes. Caveat lector.

Political Analysis:

The main event of this chapter is Drogo’s death-in-all-but-name and the political fallout that results. And it’s significant that this crucial turning point balances on the importance of culture. Dany’s rise to power all through this book as come from her ability to assimilate into Dothraki culture – but no convert ever has a perfect grasp on the finer points of their adopted culture, and here she hits the wall and loses everything when she fails to see how her personal desires conflict with the Dothraki way.

The first way that Daenerys undermines herself is in failing to understand the different ways in which Dothraki and Westerosi understand leadership. Perhaps because Khal Drogo was the khalakka of Khal Bharbo, Dany assumes that the same traditions of blood inheritance dominates Dothraki culture in the same way that it shapes virtually everything about Westerosi society. However,  in the moment she forgets that “a khal who could not ride could not rule.” The consequences of Drogo’s fall from power and Dany’s failure to understand it shape the entire chapter: the moment Drogo falls, Qotho immediately slips out from the chain of command, and Dany’s ability to command the khalasar in the name of her husband is weakened, as “it is not for a woman to bid us halt…not even a khaleesi.” While Dany is temporarily able to cow him, she quickly finds that “a man and his bloodriders share one life, and Qotho sees it ending. A dead man is beyond fear.” Qotho will form the nucleus of an xenophobic faction that will split the khalasar, as we see on his return.

Next, believing in error that her son can rule in Drogo’s place and keep the army under her command, Dany fails to understand that “the Dothraki will not follow a suckling babe. Drogo’s strength was what they bowed to, and only that. When he is gone, Jhaqo and Pono and the other kos will fight for his place, and this khalasar will devour itself. The winner will want no more rivals. The boy will be taken from your breast the moment he is born. They will give him to the dogs.” As a result of her misjudgment, Daenerys misses out on her chance to escape and places both her life and that of her unborn child in danger. 

Finally, Dany willfully ignores how abhorrent Mirri Maz Duur’s blood magic is to the Dothraki and what this means for her insistence that the maegi see to Drogo’s wound. For all that Dany insists that “this is the same. The same,” to the Dothraki, “blood magic is forbidden,” and for those who practice it, “kicks are too merciful…we will stake her to the earth, to be the mount of every passing man. And when they are done with her, the dogs will use her as well. Weasels will tear out her entrails and carrion crows feast upon her eyes.” Daenerys’ public insistence in carrying out this ritual alienates virtually the whole of the khalasar, and in the eyes of many makes Daenerys equally culpable in Drogo’s death by evil magic.

This decision destroys the unity of the khalasar. Qotho and Haggo and Cohollo (the older men of the bloodriders) arrives, bringing the traditional Dothraki healers and symbolically taking up the position of the defenders of tradition. Dany tries to stop him bodily, and the immediate result is the death of Quaro, Mormont’s wounding, the death of Haggo and Cohollo, and almost her own death. Within moments, the kahalasar is broken: “she saw the crowd dispersing, the Dothraki stealing silently back to their tents…some were saddling horses and riding off…fires burned throughout the khalasar.” Crucially, Dany’s flouting of tradition means that when her baby comes unexpectedly, the “birthing women…will not come. They say she is accursed.”  

For the sake of a cut, Dany loses khal, khalasar, baby, and everything…

Credit to FFG

The second way that Daenerys defeats herself her is failing to understand the cultural meanings embedded in Mirri Maz Duur’s blood magic. I’ve already argued that Mirri Maz Duur had both means, motive, and opportunity to poison Khal Drogo (more evidence on that in next Dany chapter), but here we see how this poisoning works out to her advantage. Within a week, the khalasar that destroyed her village is murdering itself, the man who led the effort is the helpless subject of her necromancy, and Dany gives her consent (a critical factor in a lot of folklore) to give her free reign. And none of this would happen if Drogo didn’t fall from his horse. She succeeds because Dany deceives herself as to which death “may pay for life” even though Mirri Maz Duur points out “this is not a matter of horses,” and in no small part because of her ability to read Dany and understand that the khaleesi would violate any taboo

Historical Analysis:

What happens to Drogo’s khalasar in Dany VIII has many historical parallels – after Atilla was defeated at Châlons in 451 A.D by Flavius Aetius, he was eventually forced to withdraw from Italy, but in the meantime the Eastern Roman Empire invaded across the Danube and defeated the Huns in their home provinces. Preparing to mount a campaign against them, Atilla died of a severe nosebleed while blackout drunk at a wedding feast (although some scholars argue that the Emperor Marcian had him assassinated via his new bride). Immediately, his sons Ellac, Dengizich, and Ernakh fell to fighting over who would inherit, and his army broke into three feuding portions who were destroyed on the banks of the Danube in 454 A.D by the Ostrogoths, destroying the Hunnic empire forever.

The case of the great Genghis Khan works less well – while his death was an enormous setback, the Mongol Empire regrouped under Ogedei Khan and continued to expand, conquering the Manchu, completing the conquest of China, and completing the subjugation of the Persians. Indeed, it wasn’t until 60 years later that the Mongol Empire began to break down into civil wars between rival khans, but even then many of the successor khanates lasted for several centuries.

However, the process by which kos fight to become the new khal and the former khalakkas are killed unless they are strong enough to stake their claim to the succession by force of arms is reminiscent of many patterns of fratricidal warfare seen in kingdoms with either non-primogeniture inheritance (which creates an incentive for brothers to turn against one another when the land is divided between them) or in systems where polygamy created many sons with potentially equal claims to the throne. Fratricide or fratricidal wars were fairly common in Pharaonic Egypt, the Ottomans essentially institutionalized the practice of the oldest son having his brothers executed from the time of Mehmed the II (1444-1481) through to Ahmed the I (1603-1617).

Something to keep your eye on when we see what happens when primogeniture breaks down in A Clash of Kings. The results can be messy…

What If?

There’s really only one hypothetical I can see coming out of this chapter:

  • Dany runs away with Jorah? The interesting thing with Dany departing the OTL at this point is that Dany actually has at this point everything she needs to wake the dragons – she knows the basics of blood magic now (“only a death can pay for life”), she’s got the eggs, and she’s got to take drastic measures to regain her path now that she’s lost her khalasar. So this particular Chekov’s device is still up on the mantle ready to go to save the world. However, Dany running away has some interesting offshoots: does this draw her back into the direct control of Varys and Illyrio, who’ve been handling her rather on the long finger ever since Pentos? Will Jorah keep playing the role of her controller (incidentally, I’ve never understood why Jorah didn’t tell her that Varys and Illyrio are working together, so that technically he was spying on her on behalf of her supporters), or is he so far gone into his romantic/territorial phase that he’ll try to break free of their grasp and manipulate her? (While this is more of a question for ACOK, I’ve always wondered whether Varys/Illyrio foresaw that eventuality and sent Ser Barristan to her specifically so they could nip him in the bud)
  • Jorah’s intended destination of Asshai is quite interesting as well: its remoteness compared to Pentos suggests that Jorah isn’t exactly a loyal spy any more, and it’s an extremely magical place so it’s quite possible Dany could wake not just three dragons, but an army of them given that Asshai is where “dragons stir beneath the sunrise.” Indeed, it seems like Asshai may be a foregone pleasure if we’re to get Dany back to Westeros ever, given that it would essentially double the length of her trip back to Westeros – unless she goes for the whole circumnavigation thing and lands on the west coast, but that seems unlikely.

Book vs. Show:

While I thought this scene in the show was generally well-acted and shot – and I liked the fight scene with Ser Jorah and Qotho – this is where budgetary restraints really started to bite. It was always a problem that Drogo’s 40,000 screamers could never be seen on screen (would it have really cost that much to have a few establishing CGI’d shots of the whole khalasar?), but it really bit here in that the fight involves two people rather than a total breakdown of the khalasar.

  

78 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Daenerys VIII

  1. somethinglikealawyer says:

    Good post.

    One thing I noticed from a literary perspective was how many tricks are in GRRM’s little bag when he wants to drive the plot. As you’ve mentioned before, a lot of times, especially in the political scenarios, GRRM really tightens up the plot, and timing falls a certain way as to develop the scenario that Martin envisions for the book. This one feels a little different, but the effect is the same, Martin is using the smallest of pushes to let loose the rolling boulder of his plot, whether it’s a cut on the stomach, Stevron Frey’s wound getting infected (there’s a good chance Black Walder poisoned him to upjump inheritance of the Twins, but the effect remains the same), or one of the scores of counterfactuals that you’ve thrown out in the CBC’s, there’s a definite style here. GRRM loves the little things.

    Though one question would be, even though Dany knows about blood magic, do we know specifically what makes the ritual work? Would any homeless urchin on the street be sufficient to wake a dragon from stone? Certainly, “only death can pay for life,” but Melisandre claims that King’s blood is more potent. Both MMD and Melisandre learned from Asshai, so there might be a similarity in their workings. Obviously, horse blood is insufficient, men’s blood is needed. But do they need to be from a royal pedigree? The unborn Rhaego, Edric Storm, and Mance’s child would all be King’s blood, but MMD probably doesn’t have any royal blood in her body, and later in ACOK, Melisandre making her offer to Davos Seaworth is an interesting wrinkle. Is it possible that there needs to be a strong emotional connection when royal pedigree is absent? Davos certainly hated Melisandre and was very loyal to Stannis, and Dany very much hated MMD when it came time to wake the dragons from their eggs. Regrettably, this is all speculation. You’re probably right, in that if she ran away from Jorah, she might have gone to Asshai to learn the art of the shadowbinder and see if she could wake dragons. That would have been an arc to see…Asshai seems to be more myth than fact in the book, and I wonder how much of it is true.

    One of the fascinating things that I learned about the Mongols was that Ögedei Khan was acknowledged as heir to the Supreme Khan after Jochi and Changatai Khan couldn’t agree over who would lead, which devolved into a brawl that would surely split the khanate. This compromise undoubtedly kept the khanate growing strong, and more spectacularly, after Jochi’s death, Changatai continued to support Ögedei for years after Genghis Khan’s death until he was named as the Supreme Khan. If the Dothraki had that style of government…Essos itself might have been the Dothraki empire from Narrow Sea to the Jade Sea. That’s probably an exaggeration and given the “do not build” ethos of the Dothraki, a Dothraki with a continuity of government like the Genghis-unified Mongols would be far different than the one we see in the novels.

    • somethinglikealawyer says:

      Not run away from Jorah, run away with Jorah. Blast it all.

    • We don’t know. But it’s clearly not just royal blood at work.After all, Melisandre is able to sacrifice ordinary people in order to safeguard Stannis’ fleet to the Wall. In fact, if you think about it, given the extremely rare supply of king’s blood, you wouldn’t expect blood magic to really be a cultural phenomenon if it only worked that way. My guess is that royal blood provides a super-intense effect; quality vs. quantity, I suppose.

      As for the Dothrak – true. And again, it’s a sign of tight plotting. If Drogo had died when Rhaego was born/older, I don’t know if the Dothraki would walk away from the Stallion Who Mounts the World.

      • ajay says:

        “If Drogo had died when Rhaego was born/older, I don’t know if the Dothraki would walk away from the Stallion Who Mounts the World”

        Presumably one of them would have married Dany, and being stepfather to Rhaego would have been a good thing for any aspiring khal…

        • Possibly. We don’t know how important the whole khal/khalakka thing is – it’s possible the Dothraki value strength over family to the extent that the winner wouldn’t care. Or he might kill him. Kind of a coin flip.

  2. Andrew says:

    Another good job.

    The ones who start naming themselves khals are the kos, like Jhaqo and Pono, the one who command subdivisions in the khalasar akin to lords commanding subdivisions of a kingdom in service to the king. The kos are separating their khas/divisions, their original power bases, from the khalasar, and drawing followers from other khas to form their own khalasars.

    The only kos who stay with Dany are Jhogo, Aggo and Rakharo. I don’t know why they chose to stay with Dany between after this chapter, and before the dragon eggs hatch. It could be they originally defending her when Khal Drogo was still alive, but after the khalasar falls apart, they find themselves stuck with Dany with nowhere else to go as the opportunity to join with one of the new khalasars had passed.

    As for Asshai, she would still have three dragons since she has three eggs, and likely lacks the resources to get more dragon eggs as they are quite expensive, worth more than rubies.

    • Well, Jhogo, Aggo, and Rakharo are all part of Dany’s khas from the beginning, so they have some built-up loyalty to her. Also, they’re younger men in general, so they’re less tradition-bound.

      The dragon eggs are expensive because of rarity and distance. But Asshai is where you have living dragons stirring beneath the sunset, a point of local abundance.

      • Andrew says:

        I believe Dany’s dragons are the only ones left in the world. I think it would have been mentioned if there were dragons in Asshai by traders, and word would have reached Westeros. If there were any, I think the Targaryens wouldn’t have tried to hatch their eggs when they could have gone on expeditions to Asshai to find live dragons to mount. I wouldn’t put too much stock in Bran’s dream.

        I think GRRM confirmed that Dany’s dragons are the only ones in existence.

      • 1. Asshai is at the very east of the known world and not visited very often.
        2. I put more faith in Bran’s dream.

      • Andrew says:

        There are still traders that visit Asshai often, and people know of the magics like bloodmages and shadowbinders there. Dragons would not go unnoticed.

        If there are dragons in Asshai then that would reduce the significance of Dany’s dragons hatching, and magic in the world seeming to make a return. Even Quaithe, who is from Asshai, says that Dany’s hatching of the dragons led to the rise in magic.

        As for Bran’s dream, at the same time he sees the skeletons on dreamers impaled on icicles, and I doubt dreamers can leave skeletons on icicles if they fall.

    • John says:

      Jhogo, Aggo, and Rakharo weren’t Kos. They were young warriors sworn to Dany’s service.

      • Right. Odd thing about Dothraki.

        A khal is a leader, his following is a khalasar, his generals are his khas/khasars, the officers are khos, but the word for an ordinary soldier is lajak – and army is lajar. Totally different roots.

      • Andrew says:

        They become kos to Daenerys.

      • ajay says:

        “A khal is a leader, his following is a khalasar, his generals are his khas/khasars, the officers are khos, but the word for an ordinary soldier is lajak – and army is lajar. Totally different roots.”

        That makes a lot of sense, actually. The Dothraki have their own words for the kind of armed forces they traditionally have, but they’ve got completely different words (possibly loan words?) for the kind of forces that other people tended to have. Kind of like how the Russian army has its “Tankovy” – tanks are an imported idea and they use an imported word for them.

    • Andrew says:

      Dany’s eggs were said to be from Asshai, the dragons in dormancy, although I am of the opinion that they were actually from the Targaryen family stash on Dragonstone or the RK obtained by Varys.

      Or it could refer to a dragon, Dany like a blue rose growing out of a wall of ice referring to Jon.

      • That’s a stretch…Bran’s vision is pretty damn literal.

        Also, I don’t get why the lie about where the dragon eggs came from. Especially when dragons and Asshai come up again in the Small Council, it seems like GRRM wants there to be a link.

      • Andrew says:

        Dany’s visions in given by the Undying seemed to be pretty literal as well with “a blue eyed king who cast no shadow” and seeing a Rhaegar dying in battle. Yet we also got a blue flower growing out of a chink of a wall of ice.

      • Andrew says:

        Dragons are specific to Targaryens.

        • But not to Asshai, which is why I feel it’s more literal.

          • Andrew says:

            Then why didn’t the targaryens ever hear of it or send an expedition? They were desperate for dragons after the last one died.

          • 1. Keep in mind, it’s only been 150-odd years since the last of the dragons died.

            2. They already had dragon eggs on hand, so they focused on waking them rather than travelling to the furthest point known in the world.

            3. They may have sent expeditions which never made it. There’s a lot of piracy in those waters, the whole area around Valyria is like the Bermuda Triangle, and long-distance travel is quite difficult. (There’s no evidence of methods to fix longitude, knowledge about scurvy, cartography seems quite crude)

            4. They might not have believed the rumors. There’s a lot of crazy rumors about Essos, and most of them are fantastical. After a few failed expeditions that came up bupkis, they might have given up.

    • Mathyoucough says:

      If I’m not mistaken, Jhogo Aggo and Rakharo stay with Dany in order to bring her to Vaes Dothrak to live with the crones and only start to follow her after the dragons.

  3. beto2702 says:

    What if Jorah dies…

  4. MightyIsobel says:

    Would you argue that the khalasar as an organized formation could have held together if Dany had submitted Qotho’s authority? Dothraki succession seems to be designed to inhibit the establishment of inherited dynastic leadership. I’m trying to imagine how even a khaleesi with a perfect understanding of Dothraki culture could have gotten a better outcome than the death of her newborn and a lifetime in the dosh khaleen.

    In other words, while I agree with you that Dany misreads her adopted culture, I’m not convinced that her errors matter, after she decides not to run.

  5. Adam says:

    Didn’t they go into detail earlier about how the bloodriders were a strong Dothraki tradition and the tradition required the bloodriders to take their life when their kos dies? It’s referred to again in this chapter as you mention, but I’m having trouble with the internal logic of the scenario. Is it a normal practice for bloodriders to just opt not to commit suicide and attempt to seize power afterwards? I can’t recall that being referenced anywhere but I suppose it’s what Dany expects to happen based on her internal logic with that reference. But if it’s not normal, and I don’t think it is, isn’t it a massive violation of Dothraki norms almost equal to Dany’s violation of blood magic? Why would Qotho et al have the moral authority to be accepted as a leader if he just violated his blood contract with his khal? Is there any tradition of people hunting down and killing a bloodrider who refuses to kill himself or is it just viewed as something optional you do if you don’t have a strong enough claim on power after your khal dies?

    • Adam says:

      It seems to me like what you would often see in that scenario if there is in fact a strong Dothraki cultural tradition of required bloodrider suicide is that immediately upon Drogo’s death basically all of someone like Qotho’s direct lieutenants would gang up on him and enforce his death as well so they could get on with the business of fighting amongst themselves as to who was strong enough to replace him and take control of that portion of the khalasar. Interesting that nothing like that seems to have happened here.

    • Sorry if I was less clear than I intended- Qotho doesn’t try to take over, he tries to stop the blood sacrifice. I think that fits in with the cultural logic, to prevent his khal’s body from being defiled. However, his actions set up Jhaqo and Pono to act quicker than would normally have been the case as Drogo isn’t technically dead yet.

      • Adam says:

        That’s an interesting point – the bloodriders are under no obligation yet because Drogo’s a vegetable, so they just leave since he can’t make them stay. By the time he dies and word gets to them, they’ll be far away with an entrenched power base and a history of authority. I wonder if that changes if somehow Drogo dies during the ritual or some other way while everyone’s still together. Do the bloodriders still end up leading factions or do they get a group-enforced suicide?

  6. Petyr Patter says:

    I said it last chapter, but apparently you aren’t convinced. Mirri did not poison Drogo. She made him a poultice and told him not to drink wine or milk of the poppy. Drogo not only removes the poultice, but drinks wine and milk of the poppy. Furthermore, he replaces the poultice with one of “mud,” which while lacking a medical degree or biology degree I still assume is not very healthy.

    When the mud poultice is removed, Drogo shows signs of a heavy infection. Even today infected wounds are a serious medical problem. Furthermore, alcohol is a known immune suppressant and blood thinner.

    If George Martin intended for Mirri to poison Drogo, than he took a lot of extra steps to obfuscate the issue. Or, Martin wanted Drogo to be responsible for his own fate (a common theme for Martin), which is what it certainly looks like. Had he been able to endure the pain… then we are reading a different story, I should think.

    • Celestial says:

      I agree with Petyr. Steve is right when he says Mirri had the motive and the means, but sometimes people simply die on their own. This can happen and it does not mean there always was a nefarous assassin at work. Sometimes, a dog turd is just a dog turd and not some elaborate plot.

    • Wine or milk or the poppy wouldn’t cause an infection – they’re painkillers and Mirri is saying not to use them. Which is odd for a medical professional, no?

      Martin frequently takes steps to obfuscate deaths – see the first attack on Bran. We don’t know Joffrey did it for certain, even though it’s the most likely outcome.

      And we’ll see very clearly in next Dany chapter what’s going on.

      • MightyIsobel says:

        Alcohol and opiates are dehydrating. Advising Drogo to retain fluids seems like reasonable medical advice, in his condition.

        I agree that Martin obfuscates deaths. That’s another reason I’m looking for MMD’s confession in Dany IX to have some elements of boasting, lying, and manipulation.

      • SpaceSquid says:

        I share MightyIsobel’s opinion that warning Drogo off wine & MotP is entirely sensible medical advice. On the other hand, it seems to me that the number of people who wouldn’t poison the slaughterer of her people but would plot to murder a baby almost ready to be born is arbitrarily close to zero.

        • Yeah – but the MotP thing still bugs me. Who tells someone recovering from a significant injury not to use painkillers? I can see “don’t overuse them” – but don’t use them at all? That suggests someone who wants Drogo to suffer as he’s dying.

          • SpaceSquid says:

            Recommending total abstention isn’t uncommon, though. You don’t need to literally drink no alcohol when pregnant. A friend of mine once got given some drugs following an operation as was told “I know doctors always say not to drink on medication, but this time I really mean it; even very small amounts of alcohol can cause real problems while you’re taking these. Of course, it’s New Year’s next week, so make sure you don’t have more than two glasses of bubbly”.

            Especially when you’re dealing with someone as uninterested in his health as Drogo, overemphasising dangers seems completely unreasonable. As I say, I lean towards murder here as well – especially since literally the only argument I can see against it was that MMD might be too scared of retribution to try, which conflicts badly with her actions after Drogo’s collapse – but I don’t see anything particularly telling in the MotP pronoucement.

          • But total abstention isn’t common when dealing with chest injuries – indeed, from a little research, I see that painkiller use is recommended to ease breathing.

          • SpaceSquid says:

            Fair enough – my medical knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep – though is there anything to suggest the wound is enough of a problem to be affecting Drogo’s breathing?

            Alsomto expand on my previous comments, I think we have to factor in that Drogo is a wilfully troublesome patient. The risks of total abstention vs the risk of overdosing have to be considered differently when you can’t regulate the patient’s dose – if MMD allows him a little MotP, he can easily get more from the Dothraki healers. Contemporary medicine has checks to prevent people from accessing too much of a given drug, and has – in theory – sufficient authority to persuade patients into not abusing what supplies they are given. None of this is true in Drogo’s khalassar.

            There is of course a third obvious possibility, which is that Mirri genuinely intended to heal Drogo, but didn’t care if he suffered along the way. As stated, I think the murder plot is the most likely scenario, but even if you’re right about why she denies him pain meds, I don’t think the construction “she wants him to suffer, therefore she must be planning to kill him” is very strong at all.

          • standgale says:

            I figured he wasn’t to use alchol or poppy because they reacted badly with what she was using as medicine. Of course this interaction is irrelevant or even counter productive if she is trying to kill him

      • Celestial says:

        The point is not that Mirri did not want to poison Drogo. She probably did. What Petyr is trying to say is that there is a good chance Drogo’s wound could have got infected on its own, without any outside help.
        There are always thousands of people after the blood of tyrants and warlords like Drogo, but some of them do croak on their own.
        Mirri probably intended to off him anyway, but Drogo’s wound and the way it was treated screams “septicemia” – which is usually deadly with the kind of healthcare available in a medieval-like context.

        • SpaceSquid says:

          “Mirri did not poison Drogo” is pretty hard to misinterpret as a position..

          • blacky says:

            Seems like Drogo allowing Mirri to medicate his wound is a colossal blunder. Allowing a recently conquered enemy near your own wound is crazy. Drogo thought it was a mere scratch so waiting for his own healers to find time to treat him seems much more reasonable.

            It does seem that Mirri was trying to kill him in revenge. I mean, she treats his wound and after a bit he sees that his wound gets worse so he stops following her advice and tries a mud poultice his own healers probably gave him…

            And as his wife, wouldn’t Dany be well aware of the condition of his wound? Wouldn’t she know he was feverish and delirious? Seems like she was shocked and surprised when he fell.

      • Celestial says:

        “Mirri did not poison Drog” does not equate with “Mirri did not want to poison Drogo”. Think of it this way: if Hitler died of a heart attack before 20 July 1944, one can say that colonel Stauffenberg did not technically try to kill Hitler, even though he wanted to and was ready to make the attempt.

      • MightyIsobel says:

        “That suggests someone who wants Drogo to suffer as he’s dying.”

        So it’s a win-win for MMD: standard-of-care medical advice that leaves her tormenter in agony.

        Basically, I really like the idea that MMD has two competing motivations and that she succeeds at pursuing them simultaneously right up until Dany ties her to the pyre. It makes her more interesting than if she’s all lying-vengeance-poison-infanticide from the get-go.

      • Petyr Patter says:

        I suspect I’ll be back next Danaerys chapter to argue what is really going on, and that we have different interpretations of Mirri and Danaerys.

        Regardless, you seem to be arguing two opposing things, Steven. First, that Mirri poisoned Drogo. Second, that Mirri gave bad medical advice in telling him to not use painkillers. If Mirri wanted Drogo dead from poisoned poultice, which was very uncomfortable, then painkillers are the way to go. Because that way he keeps it on and gets the “poison dose.”

        As it was, Drogo didn’t follow Mirri’s advice, which you say is bad, and got deathly sick, which you say she intended. This strikes me as contradictory.

        Perhaps, Drogo who never lost a battle in all his bravery… finally found a foe that could kill him, sepsis.

        PS) Though I’ve only posted to argue, I do enjoy your blogs.

        • Unless whatever poison she put on the poultice was strong enough/quick-acting enough that she didn’t have to worry – after all, it’s not that Drogo didn’t follow her advice at all; he did and then stopped.

      • Anna says:

        Alcohol and opiates are supressants and can interfere with the healing process. It is best to avoid alcohol altogether and if the only pain medication availiable is opiates it should be used judiciously. Usually only in injuries which cause extreme pain and very painful procedures, and then only for a short time (and also it terminal conditions).

  7. After reading Princess and the Queen, I’m not sure I am as firmly of the belief that MMD was responsible for Dany’s baby turning out how it did. Maybe it was always going to be deformed? While she had motive, I’m not sure we can take her at her word that she was directly responsible for Drogo and Rhaego’s death. Sure, she’s happy about it, and Dany chooses to completey blame her and wilfully ignore her own part in it. I go really back and forth on this issue though.

    • Deformed is a quite real possibility…but dead for years?

      That’s magic.

    • ajay says:

      “Deformed is a quite real possibility…but dead for years? That’s magic.”

      Oh, definitely. But was it deliberate? MMD warned Dany not to come into the tent because it was a Level 3 thaumohazard area, and Dany listened to the warning and obeyed it. I assumed on first reading that Rhaego’s in utero death was completely unintended – more of an industrial accident. Not to say that MMD wasn’t happy about it once it had happened, of course.

  8. I suppose this is more for next chapter than this chapter, but I think a really interesting hypothetical is “what if Rhaego lives?”

  9. drevney says:

    “unless she goes for the whole circumnavigation thing and lands on the west coast”

    Is it at all clear that the world is round?

    • As horizons are described to exist, yes.

      • drevney says:

        Mance get a piece of red cloth from the wilding woman that attend him when he was an injured Black Brother. It is said in the story that this piece of red cloth came from a ship from Asshai that sank near the frozen shores.

        Why would a ship make that journey? maybe Asshai is somehow near the frozen shore and the world is round but the axes in the maps we have are wrong?

        It should be a clue about the world geometry. – ‘To go north you must go south’?

        • More logical explanation is that a ship from Asshai was heading to Lannisport or Oldtown to trade and got hit by a storm that pushed it onto the Frozen Shore.

          As for Quaithe’s prophecy:

          – to go North, you must go South: Dany’s going to end up in the North, she’s already gone south from Pentos to Qarth.
          – to reach the West, you must go East: Dany’s going to get to Westeros, has been as far east as Qarth.
          – to go Forward, you must go Back: in order to resume forward momentum, Dany had to return to the Dothraki Sea and gain a khalasar.
          – Light/Shadow: not sure about that one. Not sure if GRRM has given himself enough time time to get to Asshai and back.

  10. […] I get into the thematic heart of this chapter, I do want to back up my earlier arguments regarding Mirri Maz Dur’s complicity in the murder of Drogo. The godswife appears […]

  11. […] become the power behind her throne or get her to settle for the easy life as he’d proposed previously. It may well be that one of the temptations of Qarth was made on Bear […]

  12. […] too much fits for this to be fiction. We’ve already seen that magic works through blood sacrifice and sex (link), and as we’ll learn later on, divination is also a common magical practice; […]

  13. […] pretty wide consensus that the first treason was Mirri Maz Duur, who killed Dany’s baby and Khal Drogo in retribution for the attack on her village. This raises a somewhat uncomfortable question – […]

  14. […] because he wants their holy blood for a blood magic ritual. This is rather puzzling; in the canons of blood magic, we have only ever heard that king’s blood has any kind of power, so this is entirely new to […]

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