Quick Analysis of New World of Ice and Fire Excerpt!

GRRM is being very giving lately, so we’ve got a brand-new excerpt below the cut. So, spoilery analysis below the cut, and here’s hoping the World of Ice and Fire book didn’t totally invalidate my Hollow Crowns essay on Aegon.


  • It’s good to get an understanding of Targaryen/Dornish relations between the Conquest and Daeron I, as “sporadic attempts to bring the Dornishmen into the realm continued all through King Aegon’s reign and well into the reigns of his sons.” This would also help to explain why the Revolt of the Faithful lasted so long, if the Targaryens were also fighting a war of conquest at the same time.
  • Targaryens practiced slavery – I wonder if Daenerys is ever going to find out! Also, I wonder when they gave it up to avoid hostility from the natives.
  • Good to get confirmation that the Targs weren’t hugely powerful in Valyria (only 5 dragons) and were seen as weird for moving to the edge of the known world, definitely puts the “Gaemon the Glorious” thing in perspective and shows how Targaryen desire for glory had its roots in an inferiority complex.
  • “for the best part of a hundred years after the Doom of Valyria (the rightly named Century of Blood), House Targaryen looked east, not west, and took little interest in the affairs of Westeros.” GAAAH! Tell me more! What was this involvement with Essos? Was Aegons’ attack of Valyria an aberration or part of a pattern?
  • The fact that Aegon loved Rhaenys but not Visenya might explain why Aenys got the crown instead of Maegor.
  • Really fascinated by Aegon’s pre-conquest interaction with the Reach and the Westerlands.
  • The power relations between the Storm Kings and their rivals make a lot of sense – although you wonder what Argilac got out of his war against Volantis; I like him offering Harrenhal as well as his daughter. Interesting that Aegon got some of Argilac’s bannermen to turn against him, despite pretty openly calling for Argilac to cede half his kingdom. Note that Riverlands’ dependency under the Stormlands or the Iron Islands was a fairly recent phenomenon.  Also note that the Stormlands used to be a lot bigger Riverlands aside – a big chunk of land, some 45,000 square miles, that are now the eastern Reach were once the Stormlands. Which helps to explain why the Stormlands didn’t get taken by the Reach if they could use the Mander and the Blue Byrne as a defensive barrier in the same way that the Tullys use the Red Fork and the Tumblestone against the Westerlands.

Minor Thing:

– I am officially fed up between AC and AL. Pick one, damnit!


52 thoughts on “Quick Analysis of New World of Ice and Fire Excerpt!

  1. Sean C. says:

    Aenys was older than Maegor and had children, I believe, which would be enough to explain why he got the throne.

    • Sean C. says:

      Also, this explains one of my longstanding questions about the political geography of South, namely, why Massey’s Hook isn’t a part of the Stormlands. The answer being that it was until it was annexed to the Targaryen territories.

    • I don’t think the older thing has ever been stated.

      • Pretty sure it was stated a long time ago. Out of canon, in a Q&A kind of thing, mind you. And it was definitely confirmed in the Bubonicon 2013 reading of the WOIAF reading of the section on Aenys & Maegor: http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/83614-bubonicon-45/#entry4879997

        The real question has always been why did Maegor become king before Aenys’s son Jaehaerys, and presumably that explanation is further on in WOIAF.

        • Jaehaerys was only a boy when Aenys died, 8 or 9. Maegor probably usurped it.

          • I think he probably did it by main force, given his track record. I don’t think a Great Council existed, and administrative structures were incredibly new.

            The succession itself was pretty lacking in precedent to guide it.

          • Bail o' Lies says:

            I think the Great Council was thought up by The Old King Jaehaerys 1st and his wife Good Queen Alysanne in order to give the lords of the seven kingdoms more power. There was council in 93 after the old king and his first son Price Baelon died a great council came together to decide who his new heir was which led to the lords skipping over Princess Rhaenys The Queen Who Never Was for King Viserys 1st his grandson. At least I think the Great counsel idea was thought up by one of them.

          • You mean 101 AL, right? We don’t know who called it.

            But we do learn that not just Great Houses were invited, as the Dustins and Manderlys voted. So clearly lesser Houses of sufficient stature were brought in to add to the consensus.

          • Abbey Battle says:

            My guess is that Great Council was King Jaehaerys attempt to side-step the resistance of the predominantly Andal-by-tradition Great Houses (House Martell being no part of any Westerosi councils at this time, only House Stark could be relied upon to give a Queen Regnant a chance in theory) and bring out the smaller Houses in support of the idea (giving the smaller houses a voice in the Kingdom strengthens the KING, not the Great Houses, so long as it is the King who gives them voice).

            Quite frankly a Great Council composed only of the Great Houses weakens the kingship, because it concentrates too much power in the hands of those who but for the Targaryen Conquest would still be kings in their own rights – these are potential rivals, so no King can afford to yield to their stated will except as part of a larger consensus (a King can afford to yield to the voice of his Kingdom without losing too much face, but to nothing less).

          • Yeah, probably. I suppose my real question is *how* he usurped the throne. Legally, via a Great Council? Illegally, via a regency where Maegor just straight up took over? We’ll have to see.

          • Andrew says:

            Maegor was Aenys’s Hand of the King, and was likely Jaehaerys’s regent. With both the Regency and the Office of Hand, he was the prime mover in the Red Keep. Besides, Rhaenys wasn’t there to cheque Visenya’s ambitions. Visenya and Maegor also rode Vhagar and Balerion, the two largest and most powerful dragons in existence with the other dragons being still relatively young. Vermithor, the oldest dragon after Vhagar in the Dance of Dragons, was likely less than ten years-old at the time Maegor took the crown.

        • Huh. Why not just set their birthdates? So odd.

          I always thought it was just a straight-up coup-d’etat, since Maegor was already king in all but name.

          • J. B. says:

            It was probably a straight-up coup. It’s mentioned in P&Q that people thought Aemond would take over the kingship from Aegon II after Aegon got burned, so clearly the precedent exists for a stronger relative to take over directly.

      • The app confirms that that Aenys was born in 7AC and the Sons of the Dragon convention report said that Aenys was five years older than Maegor.

  2. Note this release is part of the excerpt GRRM read at Worldcon 2012. You can see more of what he said here, which may answer some of your questions: http://thewertzone.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-full-story-of-targaryen-conquest-in.html

  3. Sean C. says:

    Argilac’s “famous mane of black hair” suggests that another of my personal theories is correct: that the “Baratheon look” is actually the look of House Durrandon, transferred through Argella. That always seemed to make sense to me given that Orys Baratheon is supposedly a Targaryen bastard and yet House Baratheon ended up with one of those magical noble house hereditary appearances that is pretty much the exact opposite of House Targaryen. It also fits with Orys adopting the Durrandon’s sigil and motto.

  4. Quick question:

    – I own the app but haven’t used it much. Are there any entries I should read that contain particularly new info?


    – Why the change to Maegor and bonding with dragons?

    • The Targaryens received an overhaul in the latest update so be sure to re-read all their entries from Aegon I to Aegon III. It gives a few ages, name’s of Queen’s/Mother’s. Worth checking out.

      • I’ve started going through. Confirmation that Rhaenys died in Dorne, for ex.

        I have to say, while the app is polished more than a lot of GRRM licensees, I find the landscape-only thing highly irritating.

    • Brian says:

      I’m not positive how new it is, but there are a few locations that I had only seen in the Lands of Ice and Fire Map book that have some new (to me at least) information accompanying them. It is not too detailed, but there are some cool tidbits. For example, there are a few spots along the northern coast of Essos (The Thousand Islands are the first that I can remember) that mention that Corlys Velaryon (the Sea Snake) was the first person from Westeros to navigate. I haven’t gone through all of the locations yet, so there could be a bunch of really cool ones that I haven’t seen.

  5. Andrew says:

    1) I think regarding the Faith’s Rebellion, the news of Rhaenys’s death in Dorne may have killed Aegon. After he died, and the realm was reminded that dragons were still mortal thanks to Meraxes’s death, that was when the Faith rose up.

    2) I guess the Free Cities might have requested the services of the last dragonriders a couple of times as they all knew too well the dragons’ effectiveness in war, being former Valyrian colonies themselves.

    3) As for Arrec’s involvement in the war against Volantis, I wonder what was in it for him as well. If he left the stormlands, it brought the risk of any of his neighbors: Dorne, the Reach and the Iron Islands/riverlands taking advantage of his absence to whittle away further at the Storm Kingdom. Could they have offered him some trade agreements or some of the Stepstones?

    4) As for Harren’s reputation for cruelty. I wonder what actions led to that. Could the lands of Harrenhal have originally belonged to lords that he wiped out? I guess part of the fear for Harren was that the Ironborn now had access to the Blackwater, and through the Blackwater, the eastern coasts of Westeros along the Stormlands, the Vale and the North. Areas that were once protected by geography were now under threat.

    5) I wonder what they were doing at the Citadel and the Arbor. Could they have been pretexts for gathering information on thee Seven Kingdoms before the invasion? They could have likely looked at maps and military histories in the Citadel.

    6) I wonder what the political situation for Cracklaw Point was. Could it have been akin to Skagos where the clans were on paper under the dominion of Harren but pretty much went their own way?

    • 1. That’s not possible – Aegon ruled for 37 years.

      2. Maybe, but if you’re the last dragonrider, why not grab some turf where you’re at it?

      3. It would have to be something good.

      4. The Ironborn aren’t exactly nice to the thralls, and Harren spent a lot of time fighting for the southern Riverlands.

      5. Probably.

      6. Maybe?

      • Abbey Battle says:

        If I might reply to Points (2) and (3) on my own behalf:

        (2) It is quite possible that some of the Targaryens were all for grabbing some new holdings, but that others resisted the idea – probably because this would have obliged them to pick a side or worse yet caught between all parties (I doubt even the Tigers would want to see themselves supplanted by Dragons).

        In fact the death of every noteworthy dragon but Balerion AND that rapid brother-to-brother succession would seem to hint at some kind of disagreement that grew into a faction fight which seems to have left the ‘Balance of Power/Splendid Isolation’ faction in charge on Dragonstone.

        Which left the Targaryens in the position of being powerful enough to be desirable, but too small to be perceived as a long-term threat (which may have helped to ensure their survival).

        (3) My guess is that Argilac was fighting as part of a ‘Quid Pro Quo’ arrangement – if I help YOU with my heavy cavalry against those Tigers, you’ll lend some portion of your fleet to help me when the Krakens starts feeling hentai.

        I suspect that he was also happy to find a nice, distant war where he could blood his banner men, acquire experience and accumulate a fierce reputation for himself AND curb his hotheads without being obliged to lose their services OR poking any of his excessively potent neighbours.

        It’s equally likely that it was straightforward mercenary service, intended to help fatten what I presume to have been a very thinly-stretched treasury!

        • 2. Either a faction fight or they did go out and fight and died trying to grab some turf.

          3. Definitely a quid pro quo of some kind, but I don’t think that was it, since the Krakens were advancing downriver as opposed to going all the way around Westeros.

          • Abbey Battle says:

            2: The sad thing is that neither of those explanations are mutually-exclusive (a reverse on the continent might well result in a backlash against the boss from some disgruntled subordinates); I’d argue that from the information we have at hand it seems more likely that the Targaryen Dragons killed one another than that they were killed in battle (as Prince Daemon put it, “it is no easy thing for a man to be a dragonslayer”) but it’s far from impossible that either The Tigers or their enemies killed at least one.

            I wish we knew more about how The Stranger took Balerion the Black Dread, but given that he seems to be the only dragon grown large enough to carry a rider to have died without being killed in battle I think that we can safely say that whatever killed his four wing-mates it wasn’t boredom or old age.

            3. I would argue that a pact that allowed Argilac the Arrogant to focus on his land-frontier rather than facing the possibility of a two-front war, with Ironborn from Saltpans hitting him in the rear while their land-host hit his front would be pretty fair return for most services rendered – more to the point a friendly fleet (or threat of same) hitting an enemy in the flank while their forces are preoccupied with the Storm King might cause Argilac’s enemies to think VERY carefully before crossing his frontier (especially if, as I suspect, he took pains to build a fearsome reputation).

      • Andrew says:

        1) Where does it state when Rhaenys died? She could have likely been on a second attempt to take Dorne, partly out of reasons of pride.

        2) Aegon never grabbed any turf when he fought against the Volantenes. The turf would be across the Narrow Sea, still a long distance with dragons. I also don’t think any of the Free Cities would have offered land out of the fear that the Targaryens could use the lands as a base to launch an invasion to forge their own empire. Fat purses full of gold and trade deals could have been good enough incentives. I think the only ones who wouldn’t have requested their services were the Braavosi.

  6. Abbey Battle says:

    One last point, if I may – does anyone else see more than a little of poor Ser Eustace Osgrey in King Argilac the Arrogant?

  7. Matthew says:

    Is all this information coming through the app, and is it information that will be available when the book is released?

  8. John says:

    Interestingly, the obvious real historical parallel for Aegon’s conquest that comes through here is the Norman Conquest not of England, but of Ireland, where Richard de Clare was invited over by an embattled local king and married to his daughter.

  9. Abbey Battle says:

    Now what follows is an attempt to answer the question posed by Mr Sean T. Collins elsewhere on the Internet: “Why did Aegon Targaryen decide to conquer Westeros in the first place?”

    Mr Collins actually provides a fairly decent explanation for Aegon the Dragon’s assault on the Storm-King’s realm for not only had his kinsman been insulted, his envoy had been ASSAULTED which would have been received across the Seven Kingdoms in much the same way the bombing of an embassy by agents of another country would be today (put simply not only has guest right been violated along with the person of the ambassador, but Argilac has just spat in Aegon’s face – if The Dragon fails to reply in force then he might as well kiss any respect in which he is held adieu, for he has failed to protect his own).

    So far, so simple; Aegon has been ‘dissed’ so it’s time to ‘bust a cap’ in Argilac to prove that The Dragon protects his own – however Mr Collins at this point interjects with a clarification of his original question “why drag the rest of Westeros into things … is it just that ol’ Targaryen Entitlement?”

    I think that the answer to this is that The Conquest wasn’t born from entitlement but from a keen awareness of the fundamental insecurity of the Targaryen strategic position; dragons included they are a glass cannon balanced precariously on a handful of thinly-populated pebbles set down in the waters between not just one continent full of properly-paranoid potential predators but TWO – one of which has just emerged from a century-long War intended to lay to rest the shade of the Valyrian Freehold (the victors of this struggle are hardly likely to regard the Dragons any more kindly than the Tigers, once the initial flush of gratitude for the former intervening to help burn the latter like a paper tiger has worn off, since with Volantis tamed the only relic of Valyria is … Dragonstone).

    Quite frankly Dragonstone is a conveniently bite-sized piece of real estate and nothing breeds hunger in a kingdom more assuredly than rivalry – ‘what’s mine is MINE and what’s yours is negotiable’ seems to be the prevailing mindset at the end of the Century of Blood (witness The Ironborn and the Tigers of Volantis for starters). Quite frankly the more land and the more vassals you have, the bigger the buffer against defeat you possess – and the Targaryens have nothing they can afford to lose – maybe not even their pride, because in Westeros and Essos pride is just a synonym for ‘face’ or ‘reputation’ (and if you lose any of the above you go from being a potentially-useful ally to a potential target).

    Dragons are fierce, yes and ‘The Princess and the Queen’ along with the Conquest itself proves that they CAN beat just about any enemy you care to throw at them – but as Dorne, The Dance of the Dragons and Daenaerys in Mereen prove, the FEAR of Dragons is even more useful than the flying napalm-death-dealing dinosaurs themselves: they’re magnificent tools of aggression, but they’re less useful in defence (witness The Battle of the Gullet – an enemy fleet reduced to desperation or kindling, but the survivors STILL savage the very ground the dragons were sent in to protect) which makes a good, buff meat-shield of castles and knights and lords extremely useful to Dragon-riders who have only a handful of pebbles and their thin population to call their own (along with their formidable, but far from invulnerable dragons – and only THREE of those in the whole world).

    I suspect that part of the reason the Targaryens survived on Dragonstone is that they were too much of a threat to risk poking in the course of some casual ‘bad neighbour’ Imperialism but not enough of a threat to justify a pre-emptive strike in either the Seven Kingdoms or the Free Cities – given that both of the former had problems of their own – my guess is that the last dragon-lords focussed on preserving an imbalance of power in Essos that kept them too useful to dispense with and too low a priority to bother with removing from the equation (remember Essos is the old Valyrian Freehold – they know enough about dragons to fight and kill them, with a little luck) while attempting to preserve a balance of power in Westeros that kept their near-neighbours too busy with one another to bother THEM.

    By Aegon’s time this plan was starting to unravel; The Free Cities had tamed the Tigers and were now attempting to work out a balance of power that suited everyone (or at least the winning party) – I doubt that The Free Cities would regard the Targaryen Dragons as anything but a destabilising factor, an attitude not likely to be allayed by the knowledge that the Tigers had actually offered to make the Dragons equal partners in the creation of a new Freehold (Aegon’s intervention likely convinced them that the alliance was a non-starter, but I suspect that there would be fear in the Free Cities that the IDEA had not died with Volantene hegemony).

    In the Seven Kingdoms the balance of power had not only begun to crack, it had begun to tilt in such a way that the Storm-King’s realm would be the shatter point – I would hazard was the Targaryen’s favourite buffer, since it’s focus (especially in Argilac’s generation) was on protecting itself against greater powers in the West (The Reach and the Kingdom of the Isles + The Rivers), leaving it in exactly the position The Dragons would wish to see it (so strong that they could focus on more distant threats like House Arryn or Essos, too weak to turn a hungry eye in their direction any time soon) – leaving Dragonstone dangling on the edge of untold dooms.

    Any conqueror of the Storm-Kingdom (especially an Ironborn one) would likely see Dragonstone, Driftmark et al as a logical final step in their drive to consolidate their conquest; while the Targaryens MIGHT strike a deal with him, it is unlikely they could have done so from a position of strength and would therefore lose heavily in any bargain struck thus – mutual awareness of this likely fuelled the negotiations that ended so catastrophically with a bloody-handed display of sheer frustration and fiery pride on the part of King Argilac.

    Now not only might Dragonstone potentially have to face any Conqueror of the Stormlands from a position of strategic weakness, they were seeing their favourite meat-shield turn into a ravening beast fully prepared to hold a grudge – and one with old friends in Essos to act as a pincer.

    Now we come again to the question: “Why drag the rest of Westeros into this?”

    Why sir, because the other Kingdoms would NOT have stayed out; if Aegon conquered only the Stormlands and went no further he’d be left in much the same position of strategic vulnerability is Argilac had been – made worse because they could not rely on the hereditary claim on the loyalties of the Storm-Lords which had helped buttress the Durrandon against a series of reverses; any hungry neighbours (Harren the Black for one, but I suspect that any instability in the new Targaryen domains would shed so much blood into the political waters that the inner shark in even the most mild-mannered king might be brought out) would probably eat up the Storm-Lords anyway (even if the Dragons meant they had to do it piecemeal).

    Consider the Uprising of the Faith Militant; now imagine that the Targayens had only ONE kingdom to draw on and larger, hungrier neighbours to worry about besides … no, that would never do. So Aegon, seeing that if he won small (as he was almost certain to do) he would likely see his small gains chewed away beneath him decided to gamble and took a far, far bigger risk – Conquer the Seven Kingdoms or more likely die trying.

    There’s a reason this not-particularly-pious man prayed before he embarked on what would turn out to be Aegon’s Conquest, rather than Aegon’s Folly; he knew that for his family the stakes were impossibly high but that if they did not fly above them they would die upon them, no matter how far they were lowered!

    “Why did Aegon decide to Conquer the Seven Kingdoms?”

    “For the reason that failing to do so left him alone in a hungry, hungry world with only a glass cannon grounded on pebbles to defend himself and his family”

    • An interesting analysis, but I think it over-emphasizes the fragility of the dragons.

      I don’t think Aegon started the Conquest because of an insult to his messenger – Aegon’s terms to Argilac were a deliberate provocation, basically asking for half his kingdom. I think Aegon from day 1 wanted the whole of the Seven Kingdoms.

      As for why, I don’t think it was so much out of a defensive desperation, but because unlike his forebears, Aegon had spent a lot of time in Westeros and saw a lot of untapped potential on a continent where potentially he could be without rivals – I think Aegon could have built an empire in Essos, but he didn’t have the dragons to take the whole of it, so he’d always have to be worried about an outside threat trying to undo what he’d done, whether it’s the Dothraki or the Jhogo Nai, or Yi Ti or Asshai.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        I must admit that I did not intend to describe the Targaryen Dragons as ‘frail’ merely to indicate that fierce and terrible as they are they are not in themselves enough to ensure a SUCCESSFUL Conquest – Aegon needed the Mootons and the Tullys of the Westeros almost as badly as he needed Meraxes and Vhagar (if not more so) – basically by pointing out that while they are immensely useful TACTICAL assets they are far from flawless STRATEGIC assets.

        From what I can gather commanders who use them sparing fare better than those that employ them without discretion; they can win battles by themselves, but NOT wars.

        I must also say that I agree with your chain of logic vis-a-vis Aegon’s choice of Westeros over Essos, as well as your idea that SOMEONE on the Targaryen side was being deliberately provocative in their counter-offer to the Storm-King, but might it not be possible that it was either Rhaenys or Visenya who set the terms? (who are held to have done quite a lot of Aegon’s politicking for him – consider what THEY gain by making sure that Aegon doesn’t weaken when presented with the offer of a firm ally on the continent and the promise of a Kingdom BEFORE he starts any Conquering, with only a bride-price to be paid).

        It does seem fair enough to say that Aegon wanted Westeros from the first, but I’d argue that even WITH dragons it takes something more than mere ambition to persuade a man to move from ‘Wanting’ to ‘Taking’ (or more accurately ‘trying to take’) an entire Continent with three dragons and probably somewhat less than 10,000 men (otherwise why would his ancestors not take the same step?); I’d argue that recognition of the fundamental insecurity of House Targaryen’s strategic situation on Dragonstone in light of recent changes in the political situation could at least be credibly interpreted as the fuel that fired Lord Aegon’s particular drive to Conquest.

        I would not go so far as to call the situation ‘Desperate’ but I WOULD definitely argue that it was starting to deteriorate; would it have been so ‘easy’ to Conquer and hold the Seven Kingdoms if Harren the Black gathered up the East, with the likelihood of new power-blocks being formed to check him the logical result?

    • Bail o' Lies says:

      I think the reason that Aegon and the rest of the Targaryen decide to conquer the west instead of reconquering the east is simple which one is more easier to consolidate into one kingdom.

      Essos is giant continent which was once rule by the dragon riders, but what has happen in the last 400 years since the Doom? All the major cites have become independent city states with different laws, ideals ,beliefs, and while they all do speck valeriyan (I think) it has been noted that their dialects of it are becoming so radically different from each other they are becoming different languages(like how French Spanish and Italian all derive from Latin). Also affect The Doom there was probably massive chaos throughout Essos. Think how difficult it would be to manage all those cities and put them under one rule with only 5 dragons? Most of the major cites states are located by the coast, and I don’t have that much knowledge on the inland areas.

      Westerios is a place that really hasn’t radically changed in some parts for 8000 years. While there are different regions, and cultures they can basically broken up into three major groups: The First Men who live in The North who worship the old gods and have been ruled by the Starks for “8000 years”, the Rhoynar who live in Dorne worship the seven and been ruled by the Martell’s for a thousand years, And the Andals (no one cares about the iron born) who live in between the two other people they worship the seven while living several different kingdoms The Reach, The Westernland, The Vale, The Riverlands, and The Stormlands ([traditionally]normally). There is also multiple holdfast and villages that live farther in than just the coast to populate the continent. They also all speak a single language the common tongue.

      Aegon during his conquest was he first offered all the kings to bend the knee to him or be destroyed. The ones that bent the knee The Starks, The Arryns, and The Lannisters(after the Field of Fire) were allowed to remain rulers of there lands just with him as their king The ones who didn’t were destroyed and replaced with the Tullys, Batheons, Greyjoys, and Tyrells. The Martells were not conquered and eventually had to be married into the Seven Kingdoms over a hundred years later. An important thing to note is that Aegon left everything once he conquered it more or less alone and adopted more than he force on them (other than him being the king of everything) he spoke the common tongue over forcing his subject to learn Valyerian he also adopted the Seven over forcing his ancestors gods on his subject the only practice he keep that different (as far as I know) from the people he rule is that he married his two sisters.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        You make some excellent points Master Bail!

        I would like to point out that while Westeros is culturally consistent, it’s political situation was a good deal less settled at the time of the conquest – the Ironborn seizure of the Trident must have been a seismic shift in the balance of power and that occurred within living memory, more or less.

        Still I agree; compared to Essos, Westeros seems to have been a good deal less torn-up (although while the Free Cities had likely begun to diverge from one another in terms of language by the time of Aegon, I suspect that this process was much less advanced than at the time of Tyrion Lannister).

  10. Abbey Battle says:

    Maester Steven, you’re doubtless as sick of hearing me ramble on about this topic as anyone else, but it struck me today that Argilac’s intervention against Volantis makes a lot of sense if you assume that it took place during Volantis’ first major assault on Tyrosh; from what we know the first of the Free Cities overrun by the ‘Volantene Freehold’ were Lys and Myr – which seems strange until one looks at a map and realises that Lys was almost certainly taken by sea, while Myr would be taken via an overland campaign launched from the Valley of the Rhoyne (which seems to have been the Volantene Freehold’s heartland and was likely their preferred strategic highway) precisely so that the Volantenes could launch an attack on Tyrosh without having to fight through the Stepstones, a strategic choke point if ever I saw one.

    At any rate control of Myr means that the Volantenes can oblige Tyrosh to confront the threat of a two-front war, obliging the latter to sit on the defensive and hand the strategic initiative to Volantis (with potentially fatal results if Tyrosh chooses the wrong front to commit ships and troops to); now Pentos enters the picture, probably because the Magisters can see that if Volantis gobbles Tyrosh, the Stepstones effectively stop being a strategic obstacle – allowing Volantene fleets to flood the north coast of the Free Cities (with Pentos the logical next stop on the ‘Volantene Freehold World Tour’), unless Pentos helps Tyrosh to block the flow of warships through the Stepstones and over the Sea of Myrth.

    The problem is that the two Free cities of Tyrosh and Pentos are being obliged to fight three (well, two and a half accounting for Volantis, Lys and Myr, minus those that hate Volantis); still worse is the fact that Pentos is going to have to divide it’s forces to make sure that the Tigers don’t make a pounce overland from the Rhoyne and eat Pentos while it’s fleet is helping out Tyrosh (which explains why the victory of Qohor and Norvos at Dagger Lake is so vital, although that probably came much later).

    With this in mind it makes sense to look for allies wherever these two can find them; Braavos might be too much of an unknown quantity at this point, The Targaryens might seem more likely to JOIN the Volantenes than burn them and I’m not sure anyone else in Westeros would care enough to borrow trouble in Essos … except the Storm King.

    Himself hemmed in by bad neighbours and worse still by rivals in the Seven Kingdoms, it probably struck King Argilac that when all you see in Westeros are enemies, you can do worse than to look for allies in the Free Cities – it also struck him as likely that he could either fight the Volantenes NOW at Tyrosh with two strong allies or LATER alone on Tarth and Estermont (consider: if the Volantene fleet comes north it’s likely to snap up every island along the way, not least so its Imperial masters can boast of taking lands the Dragon-Lords never did but also as victualling stations for the fleet).

    I’m not sure if King Argilac would send a fleet to Tyrosh or an army to Pentos, but by failing to send one or another he would likely be sacrificing a golden opportunity to make friends strong enough to act as a counterbalance against his many enemies and potential enemies (not to mention building up his reputation as a warrior-king one does NOT want to mess with to a still greater degree).

    Incidentally this might well be occurring sometime in the days of Aegon the Dragon’s grandfather – probably at about the same time that Volantene offer of alliance arrived; at a guess riders from Dragonstone would make a useful distraction at the rear of Braavos and Pentos (I’d also guess that Braavos rose to power by letting the other Free Cities and the putative Freehold wear each other out, intervening only when it held the balance of power – throwing it’s weight behind the side that offered the best reward).

    • Sounds reasonable. Except that Aegon helped participate in that fight, so it couldn’t have been that far back.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        While the precise order of events remains ambiguous and presumably will remain so until either ‘The World of Ice and Fire’ or ‘Fire and Blood’ gives us more data in which me may ground our conclusions I think that we might safely deduce that the twenty-year gap between The Storm-King’s intervention in the Free Cities and his triumph at Summerfield would tend to indicate that The Stag was fighting Tigers when Aegon the Dragon was in short trousers (quite possibly around the time Aegon himself was born, even).

        I believe that there is some evidence that Aegon’s intervention in the Tiger Wars came some time AFTER Argilac the Arrogant served his turn; my guess is that this would have been after the point when Volantis turned to the defensive (after Dagger Lake, although possibly before Braavos threw it’s support behind that Lyseni exile); it’s quite possible that the Volantenes sent their fleet into the Smoking Sea to search for some wonder-weapon that would turn the war in their favour and at the very least plausible that the Free Cities might make a handsome offer to the last Dragon-Lords so that THEY would run the risks of Old Valyria (not least because such a mission could be disguised as a Targaryen embassy to Volantis).

  11. Evan says:

    I can’t wait for WOIAF to come out and hopefully clear up some of this historical murk (Though it will probably only add to it in some cases)!

    Steven, will you be doing an analysis of “The Greens and the Blacks?”

    • Abbey Battle says:

      I believe that Maester Steven has actually posted a recording of a discussion with other scholars concerning ‘The Princess and the Queen’; look back through past pages of the blog and you should find it, although it may take a while to do so (since I’m not sure that it’s listed in the archive).

    • I already did a thing on the Princess and the Queen, in podcast format with the Boiled Leather Audio Hour folks.

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