Race for the Iron Throne on Esquire.com! Madness of Thrones, Round 3

The madness intensifies as we head into the Elite Eight:

Check it out!

And as will soon become usual, if you haven’t yet bought the Race for the Iron Throne e-book, here’s a link.


49 thoughts on “Race for the Iron Throne on Esquire.com! Madness of Thrones, Round 3

  1. Winnie says:

    Great rundown as always. The next two rounds ….or actually the final round is where it gets interesting if its between who I expect it will be….

  2. Abbey Battle says:

    Ser Barristan/Brienne the Blue? I won’t ship it, but I’d LOVE to see the Buddy-Comedy team-up that they both deserve so richly! (shippers be blowed, Brienne deserves better than old Goldenhand).

    Maester Steven, another excellent round! (in particular I find it hard not to imagine Edward the Fourth muttering “Ain’t gonna be no rematch, ain’t gonna be no rematch” after his clash with Stannis Baratheon). The only problem that I can see with future rounds is that The Mother of Dragons has a nigh-insuperable advantage over the rest of the field (unless of course The Sun in Splendour can take advantage of her predilection for aggressive alpha-males!) – still the match between Tyrion Lannister and Brienne the Blue should be interesting (Can the Imp’s hirelings kill The Maid of Tarth before she leaves their boss even shorter by a head?).

    • S. Duff says:

      Well, Dany’s got Melisandre and the Tyrells backing her…

      • Andrew says:

        Melisandre and the Tyrells aren’t backing Dany, and I see that as unlikely. Given from what we’ve seen of Mel, she cares more about maintaining her facade of omniscience than the potential dangers of possibly giving misinformation. She will likely stick with Stannis to the bitter end.

        As for the Tyrells, they are still tied to Tommen. After he dies, Cersei may resort to drastic measures like keeping Margaery as a hostage.

    • Winnie says:

      That is the problem isn’t it? Dragons trump just about everything else…unless Tyrion’s plan would be to ally himself *with* Dany of course…

      • Ivan T. W. says:

        Yea, considering that Dany has gotten two byes now, I think it’s obvious that dragons pretty much trump everything. I’d say it’s a foregone conclusion that Dany and Tyrion will be the finals, and unless the Imp somehow convinces Drogon to eat Dany, we’ll get the obvious choice for winner.

        • Winnie says:

          Seriously. It’s so hilarious/tragic watching everyone in KL jockeying over military position when its obvious that if/when Dany shows up with her dragons she’ll roast them all. I sort of get why Cersei never took the dragon reports seriously because she’s an idiot, but I just don’t get why Tywin didn’t understand immediately the potential danger there-and try and hire a FM or something to take Dany out NOW before her dragons could become fully grown. I mean he was scared of Aerys and that guy didn’t even have dragons. The IB (also being idiots,) think they can ‘steal’ the dragons (and we all know how well that went for Qwentyn who HAD Valryian blood,) and I still can’t figure out what Varys thinks he’s gonna do about it. I know you figure Tyrion screwed them telling Aegon to sail West instead of East, but a. Dany wasn’t in Volantis anyway and b. As Tyrion pointed out it was never inevitable that she’d be willing to marry fAegon. Really, I think that whole scheme was doomed the moment Dany took a detour to Slaver’s Bay instead of going straight to Pentos.

          • Ivan T. W. says:

            Which is the reason I hope something comes out of nowhere to take care of Dany. I hate foregone conclusions.

          • I think Varys was very careful to present any evidence in such a light that no one takes it seriously (three-headed dragons mentioned in the same breath as kraken, etc.).

            I think Dany is going to sack Volantis – and while it’s not inevitable that she would reject Aegon, I think her reaction pre-Hizdar would be very different post-Hizdar.

    • Well, that’s why I say that there’s an age issue.

      We’ll see.

  3. J Alex Keene says:

    No way in hell Brienne beats Ser Grandfather

    • Abbey Battle says:

      He’s got to be about twice or three times her age and maybe 4/5ths her size! (also there’s the drawback of the Truest Knight in the Seven Kingdoms being confronted by a lady in arms, which is a psychological drawback I’m not sure Ser Barristan the Bold has ever been obliged to confront before).

      I’d say it’s a close fight, but still perfectly plausible that Brienne of Tarth can beat Ser Barristan of the Queensguard.

    • Robar says:

      I will have to agree with Alex. Brienne is a good fighter, yes, good enough to win the melee at Bitterbridge, but she also had trouble defeating a half-starved and chained up Jaime, not to mention her individual duels with the Brave Companions, who left her in a pretty bad shape in AFFC. That is, unless you are talking of the show version, where Brienne humiliates Jaime and Barristan STILL has no armour (if he doesn’t have armour in Season 5, or at least a white cloak, I’ll be very sad). Barristan has proven time and time again that age isn’t a factor in it, whether one talks of the Kingswood Brotherhood, the Defiance of Duskendale, the hypothetical duel with Ser Arthur Dayne, his crushing of the Titan’s Bastard with a wooden staff and his badass duel with Khrazz, a pit fighter who was in his prime and was twice as large as him. Barristan’s duel skills are disciplined, unlike Jaime’s or anyone else who faced Brienne, he would not have the manly urge to defeat a woman as quick as possible.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        He MIGHT however be somewhat reluctant to fight a lady in the first place, being a gentleman; I’d also suggest that her condition as of that duel with the Lion of Lannister was hardly better than his own (excepting his being chained up – Ser Jaime had been a prisoner for some months, but does not seem to have been cruelly treated and more to the point Brienne and Lady Stark are unlikely to have travelled North at an easy pace); I’d also note that she keeps WINNING her fights, no matter how much difficulty she may experience in the process.

        Still, as I have said before I regard Brienne the Blue Vs Ser Barristan the Bold as a relatively equal contest – Brienne’s youth and muscle being a fair trade for Ser Barristan’s experience and well-attested intestinal fortitude.

    • It’s a close fight, and in a close fight any edge matters – and in this case, Brienne’s edge is Valyrian steel.

      • David Hunt says:

        I recall reading GRRM writing about a hypothetical duel b/n Selmy and Arthur Dayne with both of them in their prime. He said that if Dayne had Dawn, he’d give the edge to Dayne. Otherwise, that they’d be equally matched. Of course, Selmy is no longer in his physical prime and Brienne would have the sword she got from Jaime. Still, I’d hate to make that call ahead of time. Selmy is still one of the most dangerous men alive.

      • Winnie says:

        STOLEN Valyrian steel. That’s still a sore spot with me. God Tywin’s an asshole. At least Oathkeeper might be used at some point to help surviving Starks…and I pray to the Seven that BOTH swords will eventually find their way back to the Stark family. The very fact that they retain Stark colors even now, tells you the steel itself knows where it belongs…

        • Yeah, dunno what’s going to happen with that. Oathkeeper is on its way back to Zombiecat, and that seems thematically important. Widow’s Wail seems to be kind of a critique of the magic sword thing – it’s completely ornamental and useless in the hands of a child king.

  4. Abbey Battle says:

    I agree!

  5. Winnie says:

    It’s off topic but I just wanted to say how much I loved your Captain America pieces at lawyers, guns, and money. I reviewed that movie and was quite impressed not only with Steve but their take on Sam and that they addressed topics like post traumatic stress disorder. And WORD on the Ultimate and that awful grim realism thinking Miller brought to comics.

      • Winnie says:

        I also noticed you DON”T like “The Incredibles,” too Rand-ish for you?

          • Winnie says:

            Yeah, in retrospect I appreciated the movie’s look and the superhero costume designer…I LOVED “No Capes!” but there was definitely a disturbing under taste to the whole thing…do us mere mortals matter not at ALL?!? It’s interesting because so many of the most successful and popular superheroes are made likeable because they care about us peasants and live among us-Superman was raised by farmers and lives daily life as a mild mannered reporter, Peter Parker is a regular guy who happens to have some arachnid abilities but he still has to pay his bills, and Cap is just a kid from Brooklyn…the attitude of “The Incredibles” was the complete anti-thesis of what makes the genre’s most enduring favorites popular…and more in common actually with super-villains who are often all about how their innate superiority means rules don’t apply to them and they’ve left everyone else behind.

            BTW, how you coming on the ACOK prologue? I can’t WAIT to get into KL in that one, and the pathetic hilarity of Theon’s chapters…

          • I’m about half-done with it. It’s been a bit hectic for me, and I’ve been kind of focusing on the Esquire stuff because they’re paying me right now, so down the road that frees up time for me to do this and nothing else.

          • Winnie says:

            Got it. Glad you found a revenue stream to keep up the good work!

          • Thanks! It’s working fairly well so far – I’ve earned about a month and a quarter’s income, which will definitely speed up posting speed for that month. The e-book is selling fairly well for a small-press e-book, but if the reddit AMA does well, it may free me up for several months, which would be excellent.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        I would just like to take this opportunity to heartily agree with the opinions that you have expressed regarding Captain America in particular and superheroes in general; quite frankly I don’t want every superhero to be a jack— any more than I would want them all to be depicted as living saints (variety is the spice of literature as much as life, after all) – although I must admit I’d prefer the balance lean more towards ‘Saintly’ than to ‘Jerk’ when it comes to SuperHEROES (emphasis deliberate).

        I am also of the opinion that while Mr Mark Miller isn’t an entirely hopeless case as a writer (part of the reason adaptions of his work tend to be better than the original is that he’s an ‘Ideas’ man who doesn’t always manage to make the best possible use of his own High Concepts) his depiction of Captain America in ‘Ultimates’ is almost the very last I would suggest drawing upon for inspiration for the very ideas you yourself express so eloquently.

        I do have to admit that I still like ‘The Incredibles’ more than you seem to (possibly because the only major problem I have with it is ‘No Capes’ because quite frankly superhero stories without capes seem like fish and chips without salt – equally possibly because I wouldn’t touch anything written by Ayn Rand with a bullwhip!).

        • Winnie says:

          In retrospect its pretty obvious Miller never READ any of Cap’s old storylines-he just went with the most de facto interpretation based on the costume.

          Agree that superHEROES should exhibit at least SOME signs of actual heroism-and I think one reason MCU is kicking DC’s ass right now is that they get that, while DC is still stuck in the post-Watchmen universe. And DC’s worldview-at least that of Nolan’s in the Dark Knight franchise, was almost fascistic. I still loved the trilogy-(except for part three,) but I think Nolan’s belief system in that was fundamentally unsound.

          • Abbey Battle says:

            In my honest opinion The Dark Knight trilogy were very good films, but ‘Batman The Brave and the Bold’ was a lot more fun to watch as a series! (I suspect that part of the problem faced by DC directors at the moment is that it’s sort of hard to avoid being seen to come trailing along in Marvel’s wake because the Marvel Cinematic Universe has covered so many bases).

          • I liked the Dark Knight trilogy very much, but I think the problem was that they were so idiosyncratic to Christopher Nolan, whom I admire greatly as a director, that it kind of militated against the “megafranchise” building that all the major studios wanted to do – hence trying to bend Superman into something more Nolanesque. Which, while not a bad idea in itself, was carried too far in the film – which I would argue could well have been saved with a few changes.

          • Pretty much. Millar claims to be a leftist provocateur, so in his mind Captain America must be a right-wing jingoist bigot, and he “doesn’t really mean it” when he throws in homophobia or racism or frankly voyeuristic depictions of rape. But I don’t buy it. I think he likes to indulge his id and get away with it by throwing his issues back on the genre.

        • Millar, please (I work with a Mike Miller, so it really throws me for a loop). And here’s the thing about his “ideas” – I find a lot of them to be rather derivative. For example, Nemesis is awfully like No Hero or Black Summer, which I would honestly call some of Ellis’ lesser work. Any questions that are raised in Ultimates were already raised and answered better in Authority…before he got his hands on it, and a lot of the Ultimates reads a lot like his run on Authority.

          Don’t get me wrong – there are things I like in The Incredibles. Edna Mode and the “No Capes” thing was hilarious. I thought Helen Hunt was excellent; I liked the superheroing as mid-life crisis thing. I enjoyed Samuel L. Jackson as Frozone quite a bit. But the Randian stuff is a huge part of the message of the movie.

          • Abbey Battle says:

            I must apologise to your friend, but I do keep getting Mr Frank Miller and Mr Mark Millar mixed up (given that the various works of both those gentlemen can either be rather good or truly awful, albeit for subtly different reasons); I would also like to admit that part of the reason I see Mr Millar as a pretty reasonable ideas man (if you can look past the fumbled execution to the core idea) is that I have actually looked through those basic ideas for the gold hidden amidst what I REALLY hope were lumps of clay – for my own satisfaction and in the course of a creation of a shared setting.

            Admittedly the REALLY good ideas behind Mr Millar’s work are usually seen by working out what he MIGHT have done, rather than what he did – I don’t know if you’ve read WANTED the Comic, but looking through it the idea came to me that (A) it most certainly is NOT the Villain version of WATCHMEN – and that’s not a bad thing, although WANTED Vs WATCHMEN was such an interesting hook I basically based a whole Earth-Superhero around the idea – (B) It SHOULD have been the Villain version of ‘Animal Farm’ for reasons which should be obvious – © It seems absurd to focus on Wesley Gibbons, given that all the interesting stuff happens LONG before his native psychosis was tapped into for Fun and Profit – it’s like showing The Scouring of the Shire without getting to see The War of the Ring!

            Ahem; this is just an example and possibly an overly-long one, but I hope that you see what I mean when I say that Mr Millar isn’t TOO bad when one regards his ideas as a source of inspiration, rather than frustration.

          • I just find myself not that moved by the core idea. A lot of the stuff in Wanted is wannabe Nietszchean ubermench/Ring of Gyges stuff, but I don’t agree with his conclusion that an ordinary person given complete power would decide to murder and rape his way through a police station for example.

  6. Abbey Battle says:

    Ahem, returning to the topic at hand, I’d just like to suggest a match for the Ages – one that I’m a little sad to think of as impossible under the present circumstances in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’: Sir Barristan the Bold Vs Syrio Forel – the First Sword of Bravos Vs The Truest Knight of Westeros!

    Would I be right in thinking that this is the sort of the match one would PAY to see? (admittedly I’d prefer if it were a friendly!).

  7. Petyr Patter says:

    I have some doubts of Danaerys’s ability to beat Margaery and House Tyrell. It is easy to say Danaerys has dragons, and dragons are a win button. Yet, that hasn’t been the case for her. So far, she has used them effectively in combat just once, when Drogo scorched the Unsullied salesman. Even that was more of a ‘show off’ moment with the Unsullied actually doing the important combat. Admittedly, no dragons to sell means no Unsullied, but I don’t think anyone is going to fall for that trick again. Even expanding upon the show with the books, she has only managed to make Drogo kill one isolated horsemen. While the dragons have done plenty of killing on their own, the fact she isn’t controlling it means they are almost more of a liability then an asset.

    Which means I wouldn’t write off Margaery in a duel against Danaerys. The Tyrells look pretty and beautiful but thorns prick all the same. They will get their hands dirty and use subterfuge and lies to accomplish what an army cannot. Because once again delving into the books, dragons didn’t make it any easier to control Slaver’s Bay once the wars were won. And the Tyrells are as every bit capable of running a shadow campaign as the Great Masters. And we know what Olenna did last time to keep her family safe.

  8. Abbey Battle says:

    I must admit that ‘The Princess and the Queen’ does present convincing evidence that while Dragons are battle-winners they’re neither automatic war-winners (an impression that I suspect ‘The Rogue Prince’ will reinforce – smart money says that the Blood Wyrm made his name fighting ‘pirates’ in the Stepstones and that the Sea-Snake made his fortune taking a cut of the ensuing plunder and/or the trade that ensued – although I’d be astonished if the pair of them were anything more legal than Privateers at best) nor entirely invulnerable (especially when they’re as young as the Stormborn Three).

    The problem is that it takes a very specific mindset to drown a dragon in blood and I’m not certain the Tyrells have the sheer Baraka to persuade their vassals to die for them en mass.

    • Not just a mindset but a HUGE amount of luck. A dragon on the wing is virtually unkillable save by a complete fluke as was the case with Dorne.

      Down on the ground, we see most attempts to kill one fail horrible. It takes a lot of casualties and a lot of luck to pull off a Dragonpit.

      • Winnie says:

        Exactly like you said House Tyrell would probably try to broker a peace rather than fight-possibly even a marriage alliance but I don’t think Danny will be marrying will as. I do wonder who her third mount will be. Some think it will be Vic or the crow’s eye but I doubt that.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        Not to mention something more like a religious experience en mass than military fervour to keep the troops pouring out their own blood and bones and meat until the dragons choked on it; I will note, however, that your description of the mob as unarmed at the Storming of the Dragonpit does not seem to be entirely accurate:-

        If I recall correctly they were wielding a horrific variety of weapons and tools of a trade that might be employed to equally lethal effect, albeit it must certainly be noted that the weapons of Humankind are not necessarily a match for a dragons armoury …

        One thought that has occurred to me is that part of the reason so many attempts to kill a grounded dragon fail is that the Lords and Knights who make the attempt charge in as though they were after Game and not trying to bring down the closest thing Westeros has to a Flying Fortress: one would think an artillery bombardment from range to soften the brute up would be an essential precursor to any attempt to pull the best down in hand-to-talon combat.

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