Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: ACOK, Daenerys I

“This was no kindly country. They left a trail of dead and dying horses behind them as they went…the old, the sickly, and the lame, the broken anmimals and the ill-tempered. it was the same with the people.”

Synopsis: Daenerys flees across the desert and the gunslinger follows. On their last legs, her khalasar find refuge in Vaes Tolorro. Dany sends out three riders in search of intelligent life; one returns bringing Pyat Pree, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, and Quaithe of the Shadow.

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:

 A Clash of Kings is a weird book for Daenerys – compared to AGOT, where she’s in every other chapter and very much a breakout star, or ASOS where she’s changing the world on a profound level even if she’s not in very many chapters, she’s a rather smaller presence in this book (only 5 chapters, and you’ll note she only enters into the book in the 12th chapter), and her narrative is rather unusual. Dany starts this book in desperate straights, then hangs out in Qarth spinning her wheels, then has a massively hallucinatory experience, and ends the book in a peculiar fashion by meeting a bunch of new people (which honestly, might work better in the start of ASOS) and being in a similar position of needing to get the hell out of dodge. On the surface, her arc looks a bit circular, a bit lacking in dynamic agency

In retrospect, it’s kind of easy to see why Benioff and Weiss got themselves so badly off course on this – they misdiagnosed the kind of story George R.R Martin was telling, and then tried really hard to bend it back and broke it. Because George R.R Martin in ACOK didn’t write Daenerys as a conventional fantasy protagonist; instead (as I will argue), he borrowed from religious literature to construct a prophet narrative. A prophet doesn’t necessarily go from rags to riches, or from a farmboy to a Jedi Master – a prophet’s task is to go out into a desert, to receive visions, and be changed by them. A prophet’s story isn’t about self-actualization or gaining control over one’s environment – it’s about faith, and wonder, and revelation.

A Prophet’s Narrative

The religious imagery is particularly thick in Dany I.  Right from the outset, we are confronted with signs and portents: “Daenerys Targaryen had seen it first on the night she had burned Khal Drogo, the night her dragons had awakened. It is the herald of my coming, she told herself as she gazed up into the night sky with wonder in her heart. The gods have sent it to show me the way….”The way the comet points is the way we must go.” The allusion is not particularly subtle – after a miraculous birth, a group of ex-slaves and their messianic leader is fleeing across a desert, following a star. It’s a weird mashup of Moses and the New Testament, and the similarities don’t end there.

To begin with, as is often the case in prophet narratives, the prophet and their people undergo persecution. In Dany’s case, the sources of this persecution are numerous: “She dare not turn north onto the vast ocean of grass they called the Dothraki sea. The first khalasar they met would swallow up her ragged band, slaying the warriors and slaving the rest. The lands of the Lamb Men south of the River were likewise closed to them…the Lhazareen had small reason to love them. She might have struck downriver for the ports at Meereen and Yunkai and Astapor, but Rakharo warned her Pono’s khalasar had ridden that way…”Khal Pono will kill you. He was the first to abandon Drogo.” Dany’s challenge to Dothraki culture has made the Dothraki her enemies; her late (and somewhat self-interested) turn in that direction means that the Lhazareen are as well – both oppressor and oppressed turning against the would-be reformer. However, as Dany accelerates her emancipatory mission from ameloriation of conditions to breaker of chains, noticeably she makes an ally in the latter and is brought by chance to confront the former – suggesting that persecution is a motivator for personal growth.

Along with persecution comes the suffering from the environment: “There was little forage in the red waste, and less water…the deeper they rode into the waste, the smaller the pools became, while the distance between them grew. If there were gods in this trackless wilderness of stone and sand and red clay, they were hard dry gods, deaf to prayers for rain…death followed death. Weak children, wrinkled old women, the sick and the stupid and the heedless, the cruel land claimed them all…Dany hungered and thirsted with the rest of them.” The role of the desert of a source of spiritual purification through mortification of the flesh is a topic I’ll get into more in the historical section, but I’d just note that here, the spirit undergoing purification is Dany’s draconic childron, who “even as…her khalasar withered and died… her dragons prospered.” Second, it’s the suffering of her khalasar (her physical children, as it were) that inspires Dany to become more of a leader, and specifically a kind of leader who “must be their strength. I must show no weakness, no doubt.” Confidence is good, we’ll certainly see in ASOS how useful it can be, but it’ll have its limitations later.

by Freak-Angel55

As is frequently the case in prophet narratives, the desert is also a place where Daenerys’ experiences her moment of despair:

“Are we lost?” she asked him. Does this waste have no end to it?” “It has an end,” he answered wearily. “I have seen the maps the traders draw, my queen. Few caravans come this way, that is so, yet there are great kingdoms to the east, and cities full of wonders. Yi Ti, Qarth, Asshai by the Shadow…” “Will we live to see them?” “Perhaps we are doomed if we press on…but I know for a certainty we are doomed if we turn back.” “Dany looked at the horizon with despair. They had lost a third of their number, and still the watch stretched before them, bleak and red and endless. The comet mocks my hopes, she thought, lifting her eyes to where it scored the sky. Have I crossed half the world and seen the birth of dragons only to die with them in the desert?”

These moments of not just being but feeling lost, whether they take place in a desert or in a garden, are important because they provide a touchstone of humanity for what is otherwise a display of inerring otherworldly foreknowledge: Dany decides that “we follow the comet,” and “no word was raised against it. They had been Drogo’s people, but they were hers now. The Unburnt, they called her, and Mother of Dragons. Her word was their law.” She commands that her khalasar enter a city that is “dead, Khaleesi. Nameless and godless we found it, the gates broken, only wind and flies moving through the streets…such places are best shunned. It is known,” but insists, that they break with taboo: “Not to me.” Dany put her heels into her horse and showed them the way.” And lo and behold, rather than come a cropper, “there was food and water here to sustain them, and enough grass for the horses to regain their strength.”

As a prophet, Dany is gifted with dreams that show her the way forward:

“She dreamed of Drogo and the first ride they had taken together on the night they were wed. In the dream it was not horses they rode, but dragons. The next morn, she summoned her bloodriders. “Blood of my blood,” she told the three of them, “I have need of you. Each of you is to choose three horses, the hardiest and healthiest than remain to us. Load as much water as your mounts can bear, and ride forth for me. Aggo shall strike southwest, Rakharo due south. Jhogo, you are to to follow [the red comet] on southeast….find out how far this waste extends before us, and what lies on the other side.”

The sending of the three bloodriders has a strong fairytale/dream logic to it, especially in the use of repetitions in threes. Of course two of the directions are busts – although I’ve often wondered where the “the bones of a dragon” that Rakharo runs across came from, given the Balerion-sized skull. Otherwise, there’s no drama when Jhoqo, “gone so long that Dany feared him lost,” comes “riding up from the southeast” only when “they had all but ceased to look for him.”

And finally, if we were looking for any more signs of a prophet narrative at work, we can end our search at the end of the chapter, with Dany’s encounter with the three Wise Men emissaries of Qarth who’ve come to look at the child(ren) of whom the star foretold:

“Blood of my blood,” Jhoqo called, “I have been to the great city Qarth, and returned with three who would look on you with their own eyes.” “Dany stared down at the strangers. “Here I stand. Look, if that is your pleasure…but first tell me your names.” “The pale man with the blue lips replied in gutteral Dothraki, “I am Pyat Pree, the great warlock.” “The bald man with the jewels in his nose answered in the Valyrian of the Free Cities, “I am Xaro Xhoan Daxos of the Thirteen, a merchant Prince of Qarth.” “The woman in the lacquered wooden mask said int he Common Tongue of the Seven Kingdoms, “I am Quaithe of the Shadow. We come seeking dragons.”

As we’ll see later, GRRM is once again working a little deconstruction – in this case, at least two out of the three have hidden (and deeply selfish, if not outright malicious) agendas for the sacred child(ren), which suggests that trusting whatever Supernatural Aid that Campbellian Mentor figures are handing out to passersby is a bit of a mug’s game. As for the third, Quaithe might be not be as exploitative as Pree or Daxos, but she’s certainly got her own agenda and it’s yet to be seen whether her prophecy games are ultimately to Daenerys’ good.

On the Nature of Dragons

The second major theme of this chapter is the natural history of dragons, because there’s no way that a huge dragon fanboy like George R.R Martin introduces dragons into the world without taking his sweet time explaining how they work. Subverting expectations, George keeps the dragons small for quite some time so that he can write about the draconic life cycle:

“The dragons were no larger than the scrawny cats…until they unfolded their wings. Their span was three times their length, each wing a delicate fan of translucent skin…when you looked hard, you could see that most of their body was neck, tail, and wing. Such little things, she thought as she fed them by hand, or rather tried to feed them, for the dragons would not eat…until Dany recalled something Viserys had told her…so long as the meat was seared, they gulped down several times their own weight every day, and at last began to grow larger and stronger. Dany marveled at the smoothness of their scales, and the heat that poured off them, so palpable that on cold nights their whole bodies seemed to steam.”

The idea that dragons grow with freedom and food works is well-grounded in the mythology and folk-lore of dragons, who in the Western tradition are allegorical animals representing greed (pretty much since Beowulf laid down the flying dragon on hoard of gold motif) and pride (by way of symbolizing the devil: ” The dragon is the greatest of all serpents, or of all living things upon the earth…To this dragon the devil is likened, who is a most enormous serpent…As it is said to be crested, so is he himself the king of pride.”) What’s interesting about the way that GRRM uses this tradition is that he uses it to tap into primal fears of mothers with children failing to thrive, to add to Daenerys’ motivations and make her a more convincingly real mother figure. As she reflects later, “they had been born from her faith and her need, given life by the deaths of her husband and unborn son and the maegi Mirri Maz Duur. Dany had walked into the flames as they came froth, and they had drunk milk from her swollen breasts.”  And as with all children, they represent both hope for the future, and a terrible source of anxiety and fear; they are still only “hatchlings…one swipe from an arakh would put an end to them…every man who sees them will want them, my queen.”

On the more mystical side, it’s pretty damn clear that these dragons are not just born of fire, but are themselves a source (maybe a heart?) of fire. We also learn in this chapter that “Aegon’s dragons were named for the gods of Old Valyria..Visenya’s dragon was Vhagar, Rhaenys had Meraxes, and Aegon rode Balerion, the Black Dread.” This suggests another connection between the dragons and the metaphysical world – after all, I wouldn’t be surprised if the gods of the ancient Valyrians, living as they did in the shadow of great volcanos, were fire gods and the dragons were seen as avatars of those gods. Given the close link between religion and magic and the fact that the Valyrians’ magic was almost all fire-based, the parallels between the Valyrians and the Rhoynar (with their river god, water-magic, and giant turtles seen as symbols of divinity) would be exact.

Finally, we have what I feel is a rather hopeful bit of foreshadowing. As she watches her children grow, Daenerys looks forward to the day when they will be big enough to ride: “If I had wings, I would want to fly too, Dany thought. The Targaryens of old had ridden upon dragonback when they went to war. She tried to imagine what it would feel like, to straddle a dragons’ neck and soar high into the air. It would be like standing on a mountaintop, only better. The whole world would be spread out below if I flew high enough, I could even see the Seven Kingdoms.”  uHopefully, now that we’ve gotten to the dragonriding, we can also get to the Seven Kingdoms.

A Note on Jorah’s Story:

I did want to acknowledge Jorah’s backstory here. I’m going to delay the discussion here until later when Jorah’s motivations are more relevant and important, but I’ve often wondered why George decided to stick the infodump here, as it kind of interrupts the tension of their situation out in the desert.

My hypothesis is that GRRM wanted this in the back of people’s minds when he reveals the “three treasons.”

Historical Analysis:

Especially in the history of the three great monotheistic faiths, the desert is a place where prophets go to commune with the divine and otherworldly. In Exodus, the desert is where Moses goes to speak to God, to receive commandments, to follow pillars of fire, to make water appear from broken rocks. In the New Testament, the desert is where Jesus undergoes his temptations from the devil. In the Qu’ran, Mohammed goes to a cave in the desert outside Mecca to receive the word of Allah.

Many writers for hundreds if not thousands of years have focused on the extremes of the desert and the austerity (and thus in some minds purity) of the environment as the source of this religious significance. Get away from worldly pleasures, reject the material, and you get closer to the metaphysical – and you can hardly escape the world of the flesh more than living out in the desert. Hence the phenomenon in the Middle East, from the 5th century to roughly the 12th century, of stylite hermits who go into the desert and live at the top of pillars, trying to get as far away from the earth and as close to heaven as you can get.

Thus, it’s not surprising that George R.R Martin, deciding that Daenerys needs to toughen herself for the spiritual trial she’s about to undergo in Qarth, went with the desert and once he was writing a desert journey story, the familiar tropes and symbols came along for the ride.

The other place that Martin is clearly borrowing from to build Vaes Tolorro, one of the many many fascinating ruined cities that he populates his world with, is the alluring romantic trope of the lost city. One of the absolute staples of Victorian adventure stories, from whence came the pulp novel, from whence came comic books, from whence came the fantasy genre itself, is the lost city. After all, along with the colonial and imperialist drive came the romanticization of the “undiscovered country,” and what better contrast to the untamed wilderness than a lost city, an implicit statement that, out “there,” civilization has been lost in the past, whereas the west is progressing, modernizing, and urban?

And in the desert, you get one of the best lost cities of all time: Irem of the Pillars, known to Westerners since the translation of A Thousand And One Nights as the City of Brass, described by T.E Lawrence as the “Atlantis of the sands.” This one has everything going for it. In the Qu’ran, Irem “of the lofty pillars” is described as a city of great opulence and wonders “the likes of whom had never been created in the lands,” but also a place of “corruption” and “oppression” that so angers Allah that, when its king Shaddad defies the warnings of the prophet Hud, “your Lord poured upon them a scourge of punishment,” sinking it beneath the sands. The Thousand And One Nights added some great detail to the legend, describing the city as a place where efrits and djinns had been summoned into brass bottles to serve the kings, a lost city of riches hidden in the Empty Quarter.

Also known to Magic the Gathering Fans

And…back in 1992, a team of archaeologists may just have found it using satellite technology, if Irem of the Pillars is the historical Ubar, a fortress city that dominated the frankincense trade routes for thousands of years, becoming fantastically wealthy. If this is the case, it may well be that the fall of Ubar may have come from its location on top of a giant limestone cavern, which collapsed under the weight, causing the city to fall into a giant sinkhole.

Now, Vaes Tolorro is not quite as impressive, but I’ve got to believe that Irem was floating in the back of Martin’s mind when he was writing it – certainly, when you look at the map book, overflowing with lost cities like Carcosa, the City of the Winged Men, Bonetown, the Cities of the Bloodless Men, K’Dath, the cannibal city of Adakhakileki, Nefer, Stygai, places that we will unfortunately likely never get to see in ASOIAF, you absolutely get the sense that George R.R Martin was brought up on the lore of lost cities and loves them with a passion.

What If?

Unfortunately, there’s not really space for hypotheticals here – George R.R Martin is very deliberately putting Daenerys on the railroad tracks her so that he can get her to Qarth and blow your minds.

Check back next time!

Book vs. Show:

I’ll come right out and say it: David Benioff and D.B Weiss botched Daenerys plotline in Season 2. The pleasures of her storyline are really far and few between – I liked the multiple Pyat Prees, the Drogo cameo – but I think they honestly came close to destroying the audience’s goodwill and trust in Emlia Clarke, and that honestly would have been a disaster for the show.

I think we can see the problems almost immediately: while I think it’s accurate to say that they got the hardship, suffering, and despair in the desert right, what they missed was the mystical side. I get that Book 2 kind of puts Daenerys on the sidelines a bit in terms of sheer narrative propulsion compared to her crusade through the Slave Cities and her eventual return to Westeros, but they needed to turn her story into a trippy revelation if they were going to pull off anything close to the original. I say this as someone who fully understands why the show abandoned the use of prophecy almost entirely; both on tv and in literature, prophecies can be a trap that distracts attention from everything else other than the prophecies. People stop paying attention to character development or plot in their attempt to solve the riddle, and the solution the creator comes up with is never as good as the one in people’s heads, almost always leading to disappointment.

That said, I think they could have honored the spirit if not the letter of Dany’s storyline, especially if they didn’t have a better alternative than the one they went with.

143 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: ACOK, Daenerys I

  1. Winnie says:

    Great breakdown as always Steve

    OT but I heard the old writers from Winter Is Coming started a new site. Does anyone know where that is?

  2. David Hunt says:

    Steven, the section under the still from the episode that typically contains a quote from the chapter currently just says “Quote.” I suspect that you’ve got a specific piece of text that you meant to put there that hasn’t made it there yet.

  3. David Hunt says:

    Regading the Chapter analysis, I’m gobsmacked that the prophet in the desert analogy went completely over my head. It’s like one of those weird pictures that you can’t see until you stare at it a while, and then it just pops out at you. I’ve decided that I’m going to claim that this is because I saw “these” events in the show before I read ACOK and that is the lens that I saw these events through. Yeah, that must be why I missed that…

  4. JT says:

    Really good analysis and agreed on the botching of Daenerys’ season 2 TV storyline.

    The TV show seems reluctant to sideline “main” characters, even during stretches when the books downplays them. This could be contractual, but it occasionally leads to wheel spinning as characters show up only to not do much or engage in circular arcs that mainly serve to fill time while keeping them on screen.

    Dany’s time in Qarth in season 2 always stood out to me as one such example (“We know you all love Emilia Clarke, so we’ll be sure to show her in every episode even if she doesn’t really have much to do”), as did Theon in season 3 (I think a few of his torture scenes could have been cut and the time reallocated elsewhere), Stannis in season 3 (pretty much the definition of “stalling”) and Jon’s detour to Craster’s Keep in season 4.

    • Winnie says:

      Agreed JT-though to be fair at least Stannis’ s arc in season 4 had good character moments and the scene with the Iron Bank was pure genius. Also Jon’s detour did as t least establish him in a leadership role and it was good to see the despicable Karl get his.

      I agree Dany’s storyline that season was mishandled (to be fair a desert prophecy story would be very hard to translate to tv) but given how good her stuff in seasons 3 and 4 were I’m willing to let bygones be bygones there.

    • David Hunt says:

      Yeah, I think contracts have a lot to do with it. I suspect the realities of TV mean that they can’t just not use a main actor for a season or two and expect that they’re going to be available a few years in the future. These people have careers that they have to think about and they’d have just finished a run on one of the hottest properties on TV. There’s every reason to expect that, for example, Alfie Allen would not be available to play Reek if they cut him out of two season of filming. When they wanted him, he could be playing Horatio Hornblower in some massive Hollywood movie making millions. So they’ve got to keep him under contract and that means that they’re going to use him, because they aren’t going to pay him to just sit around, even if he’d actually do that (which I highly doubt).

      • Crystal says:

        I agree that this is one reason why the TV show puts in these “holding pattern” scenes – they want to keep the actors around. A show like GoT, showcasing the talents of some really fine actors, is going to put those actors in high demand. If D&D can’t keep Alfie Allen around, SOMEONE is going to snap him up after seeing his acting in GoT. And they’re going to offer him big bucks. So they want to keep Alfie – and Emilia, Stephen Dillane, etc. – around and busy. Hence, filler.

        I recall GRRM saying that one reason he wanted to write a fantasy series is that, unlike TV, a writer doesn’t have to think of budgets. That’s very true for novels, where you can write in as many characters wearing as many spendy outfits in as many far-flung locations as will fit into the story. But TV writers have a finite budget, which means that many things will have to change in the adaptation.

        Sometimes these changes really do bug me! But if I tell myself, “well, it’s for practical reasons” then I can shrug and let it go by. Missteps that don’t have anything to do with the medium or the budget, OTOH, get my goat a lot more. (I’m thinking of Littlefinger confiding the story of the Hound’s burns to Sansa instead of having Sandor tell Sansa himself, because it’s such an establishing character moment for both Sandor and Sansa, and I’m not talking about romance.)

      • In the macro, you’re right – they cannot have characters skip seasons in the same way they skip books.

        Within seasons, less so.

    • Julian says:

      I thought the Theon torture scenes were interminably boring. I suppose they thought it necessary to make his transformation plausible–but I think this was a case where (as in the book) a thimble of off-screen or off-page exposition can do a mountain of work (like when Catelyn receives some of Theon’s flayed pinky-skin).

      Also loathed all of the Podrick-is-good-at-sex scenes. Why was that worth a moment’s screen time, I ask you.

      • The Pod stuff was a funny joke that got run into the ground.

        But I disagree about the Theon stuff – you can’t do the voluminous flashbacks of ADWD’s Reek chapters on the show.

        • Mitch says:

          I had more of a problem with the botching of Ramsay Snow, really. Such a fantastically wicked character, but they almost play him for laughs on the show.

          Maybe too much story to cram into a few scenes, but I think they missed an opportunity to give life to one of the best villains GRRM has ever written.

          • JT says:

            Really? I don’t think Ramsay is played for laughs at all in the show.

            If Ramsay’s characterization suffers at all in the show, it’s because Joffrey was aged up and his (Joffrey’s) behavior in the show is significantly more sociopathic that what was depicted in the books, making Ramsay’s behavior and tendencies less shocking.

            In the book Cersei orders the killing of Robert’s bastards. In the show it’s Joffrey. In the show Joffrey has Ros beat another prostitute to the death in front of him, and later kills Ros. He also more or less threatens Sansa with rape during her wedding. By the time Ramsay appears, (at least IMO) we’re somewhat desensitized to this kind of behavior so while Ramsay may set the benchmark in terms of cruelty, he’s not exactly that far removed from what we’ve already seen.

          • I don’t think Ramsay was botched in the least.

          • Winnie says:

            Personally I for one believe they managed to convey Ramsay in all his depraved, repellent, ‘glory.’ And I LOVE what they did with R oose that cold blooded SOB. He’s much subtler than in the books but all the creepier for it. Great acting by Michael with that chilly soulless stare.

          • WPA says:

            The Bolton’s as described in the books- with the pink cloaks, the leeches, and Roose’s odd whisper-voice/ Ramsay’s brutish psychopathy work very well on the page- but would be over the top in the flesh.

            Personally, I think Michael McElhatton’s Roose Bolton is terrifying and effective- gets a mix of understated realism (fairly normal-looking guy) with a that cold voice and manner. To the point where a lot of show watchers post-Red Wedding state that he looks/seems like Vladimir Putin.

            Also- this look:

            Show-Ramsay also comes off as less over the top but no less sadistic, he just seems to engage in his cruelty out of boredom and bemusement rather than rage. In some ways like a younger version of Ian McKellan’s Richard III- almost cheery and winking in his sadism. “Plots, I have laid!”

          • Sean C. says:

            TV!Ramsay I don’t think is played for laughs. He is genuinely funny, at times, whereas Ramsay in the books is just vile throughout. I consider that an improvement, honestly, as I have much less trouble believing that the TV character (who also seems more competent than the book version) hasn’t been quietly shoved down a flight of stairs.

          • Winnie says:

            Agreed. BookRamsay isn’t just a psychopath but such a disorganized one it’s impossible to believe he could have survived as long as he has. ShowRamsay is in my opinion equally evil but much more cunning which makes his current position more plausible if no less horrifying.

            And Michael McElhattan was yet another casting coup. He’s my favorite Bag Guy on the show in part because Roose as a character just OWNS his wickedness. None of the sniveling petty spite and excuses of Walder Frey. None of the “it’s all for the greater good” self-serving attitude of Tywin, who is also burdened by needing everyone to see him for a total bad-ass. No Roose is all, “Yes, I’m a cold-blooded, ruthless bastard-deal with it.” It’s refreshing.

          • I don’t think that Ramsay is disorganized or incompetent in the books. He does all the things show!Ramsay does, and more – not just to get his kicks but also to get ahead. He ingratiated himself with Domeric and presumably poisoned him. After snatching the lands of Lady Hornwood, when Rodrick Cassel and others were after him, he faked his own death (screwing over his ‘best friend’/partner in crime) and managed to stay alive by pretending to be the smelly servant, Reek; then he ingratiated himself with Theon at Winterfell, from being a prisoner went on become practically his right hand, faked the deaths of Bran and Rickon, screwed over Rodrick Cassel and his men by making them believe he is on their side and coming to help only to slaughter them when they weren’t expecting it, screwed over Theon by making him think he’s on his side and coming to help but then slaughtering his men, taking Theon prisoner and burning Winterfell – and making everyone believe the Ironborne were to blame – while taking the two Freys as hostages (no doubt he had been in contact with his father and was told about the alliance).

            That’s not a stupid or incompetent person, even if he is crazy and can let his sadistic impulses and rage get the better of him. And these were just the things book Ramsay did in ACOK that show Ramsay did not do. Though show Ramsay gets to play smart mind games with Theon that allow him to extract reliable information (which you don’t get from torture – he seems smart enough to know that torture, much as he likes it, is great for breaking people, but not for getting reliable info) – which book Ramsay didn’t have to do, since he already knew everything, he was the one who faked the deaths in the first place. Both Ramsays show the same ability to completely break and subjugate Theon, and both use Theon to screw over and get rid of the Ironborn and get Moat Cailin.

            If anything, show Ramsay came off more disorganized and out of control in that odd shirtless fighting scene. Other than that, I have no problems with how he has been portrayed on the show (minus the fact he was cut from season 2 and his evil acts were given to others). I also wouldn’t discount seeing some rage from him in the next season. He seems to be having great fun, yes, but he is very different when he is around his father and really craves his approval. The only moments (aside from the Pink Letter, if you believe he really wrote/dictated it) in the books where I thought I really saw genuine rage was when he killed a person for calling him a Snow rather than a Bolton (which could happen next season, since he is now officially a Bolton) and when he was his mocking of Theon during the bedding of poor Jeyne, where he taunts him calling him the Prince and asking him if he would like to have a go at her first and take his Lord’s Right – that was pretty revealing of some pretty complicated daddy issues, what with the fact that Roose took his “Lord’s Right” with Ramsay’s mother.

          • I disagree:

            – kidnapping Lady Hornwood was a disorganized move; only last-minute improvisation saved his life and even then had someone less honorable than Ser Rodrik been sent (an Umber, say), he’d be a dead man.

            – viciously abusing “Arya” such that the other Northern lords in Winterfell now hate and despise him is a disorganized action.

          • JT says:

            Ramsay is actually probably reasonably intelligent – he can both read and write, which isn’t a small accomplishment considering he didn’t have access to a Maester for most of his life (I always assumed he came to the Dreadfort in his late teens). Also, switching places with Reek and being able to take advantages of Theon’s insecurities to gain freedom shows a certain level of cunning.

            Ramsay’s problem is less one of intelligence (Hi Victarion!) that one of literally no impulse control (Roose can bring him to heel, but that’s about it). Combine no impulse control with the fact that his impulses are so far outside of what’s socially acceptable and you have someone who consistently makes poor decisions.

            I always thought of Ramsay as a version of Roose that’s 100% id.

            That said, Ramsay is occasionally capable of controlling himself and being charming. In ADWD when Ramsay, Roose and Theon are at Barrow Hall there’s a paragraph where Theon notes that Ramsay is charming in front of all the lords during the day, but that Ramsay is “wroth” in private.

        • So, you don’t think he is going to marry fArya and viciously abuse her on the show? (Which would completely destroy Theon’s storyline and hurt a few other important storylines.)

          If he is, I don’t see how that’s relevant to how he is on the show vs the books.

          • I was simply suggesting that BookRamsay is, in my mind, absolutely a disorganized psychopath.

          • WPA says:

            Right, having good or even basic judgment (ie- realizing or caring that your insane cruelty might rub important or wavering allies the wrong way) is not the same as being able to think on your feet (having the presence of mind to pull a switch with your necrophiliac companion and being lucky enough that they don’t kill you on the spot anyway) . Ramsay’s inability to display any judgment will eventually outweigh his ability to improvise with luck.

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            Looking back through these old analyses and their comments… oh, if only he had. D&D are pathetic.

    • Sean C. says:

      On the show, contracts can enter into it, but only in a limited extent. It’s true that for regulars they kind of need to keep them on the show season-by-season, but actual screentime allotments are unlikely to be specified (they can be, but nobody currently on the show would likely have had the weight to negotiate such a contract at the time). With Alfie Allen, for instance, he was in six episodes of season 3, but only three episodes of season 4, so clearly he didn’t need to be in six episodes of season 3 to keep him under contract.

      The development of “filler” is really just one of the general principles of TV shows, that you should try to keep most characters around most of the time, to keep the audience engaged. Sometimes, of course, bad filler can have the opposite effect; it’s a balancing act. The biggest problem for the showrunners in that regard is undoubtedly Bran, whose book storyline could easily have been submitted by George R. R. Martin in a contest to write a story as unsuited to a TV series adaptation as possible. And it shows in seasons 3-4, where by this point he barely feels part of the show.

      • Winnie says:

        I personally think one reason they had Bran, Jojen, Meera, and Hodor at Craster’s was to help tie them in again to the main plot. But yeah, Bran’s storyline is dull enough on the page, and trying to film it has no doubt been an incredible pain for them. At least now that he’s with Bloodraven, they can use Bran’s visions as a possible plot device or have him try to contact others through the weir wood network.

        I think they are becoming more comfortable with keeping characters off screen as need be, (they let Osha and Rickon disappear for the season to return in Season 5) and realized less was more with Theon/Reek.

      • Bran is really tricky and only going to get more so.

    • I didn’t mind Season 3 Theon. I think the repetition was necessary in order for Season 4 Theon to work, and for Season 5 Theon’s story to have the impact it will have.

      IMHO, the problem with Season 3 Stannis had nothing to do with stalling (it’s pretty much Davos I-V in ASOS), but rather inconsistency of character.

      Jon’s detour to Craster’s I feel ambivalent about.

  5. Good stuff as always, I liked the discussion about lost cities and how they are viewed by imperialists and the West. It made me think about how the world has been divided between Developed and Developing countries, which implies that Developed countries have reached some endpoint of growth and are to a large extent the way they should be, which is obviously ridiculous. I’ve often accepted it but it does seem like a rather limiting way of seeing the world.

  6. Sean C. says:

    Minor spelling issue: In the penultimate paragraph of the Historical Analysis section you misspell “satellite”.

    This is a really interesting analysis of Dany’s story in this book. It brings up a lot of ideas I had never really thought about. Though when you talk about the showrunners “misdiagnosing” the story or whatever, I don’t think that’s necessarily so; the story, as laid out here, is the sort of thing they have arguably not been terribly interested in, so it’s quite possible they understood what Martin was going for and changed it anyway to suit their own tastes (which is their right as showrunners, of course).

    • Except that they didn’t have much of an idea of what to do anyway. Compare that to Arya’s divergent plot from Season 2, which was great TV.

      • JT says:

        Sure, but I would argue that the reason the invented for television part of Arya’s season 2 plot worked so well was because it paired two of the strongest actors on the show (Massie Williams and Charles Dance). If we’d gotten less awesome actors in those roles, having Arya Stark stare down Tywin Lannister and tell him “Anyone can be killed…anyone” might have come across as absurd.

        Detours have seemed to work less well when they involve weaker actors like Kit Harrington or Emilia Clarke. Not that either of them is terrible, but I don’t think they possess the range that some of the better cast members do.

        • While I agree that Maise Williams and Charles Dance are excellent actors, I think it’s also the case that the scripts they had to work with were better – more tension-filled, thematic, and building nicely from beginning to end rather than repeating things.

          • John says:

            I’d pretty much watch Charles Dance reading the phone book. Dude can make anything seem tension-filled and compelling. Kit Harington – much less so.

      • I beg to differ about Arya’s plot, or rather those scenes with Tywin that so many people rave about. I’ve enjoyed some of the original material on the show (particularly in season 4, I think they’ve gotten better at it) but I don’t think any of their original stuff in season 2 was very good, although Arya’s story was certainly better than Robb’s, Jon’s and particularly the cluster**ck that was Dany’s story.

        The scenes with Tywin were completely pointless and went nowhere. Basically, it was a case of “let’s put those two together and have them talk, it would be fun”. They were very OOC for Tywin and made him look both too nice and too accepting (he is one of the people in the books with most strict ideas about class and strongest family pride, he is not an approachable likeable grandpa) and strangely incompetent (not trying to find out which Northern family Arya belongs to and use her as hostage, chiding the lord who mistakenly sent the letter and then… letting him go). For Arya, they just watered down her harrowing Harrenhal book storyline – instead of being mistreated, witnessing awful things and feeling like a ‘mouse’, in the TV show it looks like she’s not having such a bad time from the moment Tywin comes in, and her only problem is trying not to be outed as Arya Stark. I also didn’t see anything stellar in the dialogue, which gave us such gems as “Most girls are stupid”. The only noteworthy moments were Tywin revealing a few things about his backstory (his father), but it would have had so much more sense if this was revealed in a conversation with some of his family – say, his brother, or one of his children. I don’t see why he needed to talk to Arya. They also had Tywin say she reminded him of Cersei, even though Arya and Cersei are really not alike at all – yeah, they both have problems with the designated role for a woman in their society, but so do many other women in the books, and that doesn’t mean that they’re all similar and some kind of exception to the vast numbers of “stupid girls” (“not like other girls”) – and this moment makes it seem like Tywin cares about his daughter’s dissatisfaction with the role he made her play, when in fact, he doesn’t give a damn, as the next two seasons were about to show.

        In the end, neither of the characters was affected by those scenes in any way and both went on to have their book plots, which were also completely unaffected. And I’m just left wondering: “Why? What was the point?” If I had been an Unsullied when I watched season 2, I would have expected their relationship to be very important going forward, with how much screentime it got.

        • John says:

          I don’t fully agree – I don’t think the scenes were out of character, and I think they had thematic relevance, if not plot relevance – but I totally agree that they were a dead end that didn’t go anywhere.

  7. Abbey Battle says:

    I must say that it’s interesting to read that hopeful bit of foreshadowing in light of what we know about past dragon-riders courtesy of ‘The Blacks and the Greens’ since it tells us that while Dragons can take you places, they might not be places you want to go!

    Keep up the excellent work Maester Steven; I hope and trust that you remain well.

  8. Jack says:

    Do you think the fact that GRRM gives Dany an army of eunuchs is simply another way to add to her “otherness” when she invades Westeros? I don’t know of any historical basis for an army of eunuch warriors and it always seemed like a deliberate choice on Martin’s part. The Dorthraki have largely rejected her desire to end slavery causes tension between her and the authority figures in the east. Combined with the fact that shes one of the few female leaders in this world, making her soldiers eunuchs seems like another way of adding to her “strangeness” when she invades Westeros. I suppose it also emphasizes Dany’s status as “breaker of chains” since these men were slaves who were maimed and brainwashed until they were no longer considered men.

    • Well, armies of slave soldiers have historical basis, as do eunuchs used as guards and other functionaries in palaces. So it’s more of an combination than anything else.

      • JT says:

        Has there ever been an army of Eunuchs in real life? Or an army of Eunuchs that could stand toe-to-toe with one of the most fearsome fighting forces of the day (ala the Dothraki)?

        • I did a quick google search – there have been batallions of eunuchs used in China.

          But I would argue that the castration thing is more a general extension of the whole Spartan-education-turned-up-to-11 thing.

          • Amestria says:

            Wouldn’t the Jassanaries or the Mamoluks be a more apt comparison? The Spartans were after all citizen soldiers when all as said and done, not slave soldiers.

          • As is always the case with Martin, he’s mixing both. The slave thing, yeah that’s the Janissaries and the Mamoluks, but the training methods and the supposed relentless discipline and stoicism, that’s the Spartans.

  9. hertolo says:

    The show did get the “desert feeling” extremely right. While the book is good at filling in details, the visuals on the show really drove home for me the direness of Dany’s situation. And even TV-wise it was a great come-down from her high at the end of season 1.

    It’s only after this that the show got the story wrong and produced “bad tv with few good moments”. What the Qarth part is much more about in my mind than prophecies – which I agree would not work on TV – is the Golden Cage. I would have liked to seen this much more than the dragon stealing plot: A philosophical drama instead of action that’s not internally consistent. It would have also been a good juxtaposition to her time in the desert.

    Or in other words, does the prophet after saved from the desert fall for the easy way or decides to go on her quest? (And this is where the House of the Undying is the primary motivator coupled with the empathy learned in the desert to go out and build something for the people she cares for: her khalassar, her children, herself).

    The show just took so much agency away from her. And it’d have been quite easy to solve that.

    As for the book chapter, it’s quite straightforward and not very political. I do wonder though what significance the white lion pelt has that dany likes to dress in. We don’t hear much from it afterwards, right?

    And is this the last time we see the Red Comet?

    • David Hunt says:

      The pelt is mention several times throughout the books, often when She’s dealing with some bit of business that’s disturbed her after she’s retired for the night. it was my impression that she uses it because it’s tied up with her fond memories of Drogo. It might also have to do with associations of when she was on top of the world as his khalesi and had 100,000 people doing homage to her.

    • I don’t think that’s what Qarth is about – Dany never really thinks about staying forever, she’s always trying to get ships to go to Westeros.

      • Amestria says:

        Well, Xaro does repeatedly try and tempt/manipulate her into staying forever, so it’s always something that’s there even if she never gives this option any real consideration.

        • True, but I don’t think the Gilded Cage is what we’re going with in Qarth.

          • hertolo says:

            Qarth is the Garden after the desert and Xaro might have been the better term for this lure. But you are of course right, Dany herself is never really thinking about taking the offer, just as she did not like Drogos plans of showing her the East first or Jorahs of escaping there.

            It’s nevertheless the garden in which she searches as a prophet for her “quest”. The desert did change her, but she’s still trying to go for her birth right in Westeros. It’ll take the suffering in Astapor and Yunkai and then Meeren for her to change her agenda from Targaryen to Breaker of Chains.

            Just because she doesn’t take the offers from Xaro, from the rulers of Qarth (what’s their name again?) and from Jorah, doesn’t mean those are not offered.

            We can debate on the interpretation in the books, but I’m pretty sure this would have been better than the TV shows idea of intrigue and action.

            On this note, answering the question “so why did nobody try to steal her dragons in the book?” is a good what-if question for the next Dany chapter, even though the answers are quite logical and do take to this discussion. On that note, that one will be quite a huge post, no? good luck on that 😉

          • I definitely agree there’s temptation and danger in Qarth, but I don’t think the Gilded Cage is quite what’s going on here. In the books anyway, it’s unclear whether the Undying want Dany to stay there forever (as in the show) or they just want to eat her; Xaro is perfectly happy to help her leave if she gives him a dragon; Quaithe is quite insistent on having her leave.

          • Amestria says:

            No, it’s not what the story is going with, but it’s more or less what Xaro is trying to go with with all his gifts and his talk of pleasure barges and mythical wines (I also suspect he helped Dany get her fortune from the visitors and then manipulated her into wasting it on the Pureborn as part of this effort). Dany though is all about her mission so it completely falls flat. This is also a feature of prophets, isn’t it?

            “On this note, answering the question “so why did nobody try to steal her dragons in the book?” is a good what-if question for the next Dany chapter, even though the answers are quite logical and do take to this discussion.”

            Well, the Undying do try to steal one in a way (perhaps for the same reason they were stolen in the show). No one else tries to steal them because she has Xaro protecting her and he’s very powerful and Xaro doesn’t steal them because stealing is completely beneath him (he mocks the Tamerlane Brotherhood for having pirates among its members). Taking things with a legal technicality or by an unfair trade is totally okay though, but Dany never gives it to him.

  10. TakatoGuil says:

    Aren’t most of those lost cities you name still inhabited? I think the only exceptions are the cannibal city of way too many syllables and Stygai.

    • In classic adventure stories, lost cities are always inhabited. Otherwise you don’t have an adventure, just an archaeology paper.

      • ajay says:

        In reality, of course, lost cities are never inhabited, because an inhabited city can’t just drop off the map…

        dragons, who in the Western tradition are allegorical animals representing greed

        And in the Eastern tradition they represent imperial power and authority. But in ASOIAF they don’t really represent either, do they – if they embody anything, it’s war.

  11. Amestria says:

    Here’s a question that’s always been at the back of my mind about this chapter. Just how did these three “seekers” come to work together to set out in search for dragons?! Like, a cryptic Shadowland sorceress, a Qartheen merchant prince, and a high ranking Qartheen warlock, that’s quite an odd group on an odd mission. They also don’t like each other. Xaro is always putting down Quaithe and Pree, Quaithe outright calls Qarth a city of lies, and Pree teases Xaro for offering Dany “baubles.” The Undying and Quaithe can see the future and have occult knowledge, so they probably just knew, but why work together and why bring the very not-magical Xaro into it? It’s all very mysterious.

  12. Amestria says:

    Can’t wait till we actually get to Qarth ^_^

    btw, speaking of which, I made a post about Qarth your first laboratory of politics discussion thread, but it seems you missed it because I posted it rather late.

    • S. Duff says:

      Same here. Qarth I never had much love for until my recent re-read, upon which I realized it’s just a bunch of rich people who make up all their won rules. What other city has a “traditional bribe”?!

      • Amestria says:

        None of that is really exceptional, the Qartheen have just made an art form of it. Like with the Keeper of the Long List (whose name just screams “pay me!”). People who perform secretarial or middleman functions the world over seem to expect some quid pro quo for a prompt audience. Lorcas in Oldtown demands a penny in tribute or you’re left waiting on the bench for days. Reznak mo Reznak, who keeps Dany’s audience list, always seems to put the masters before the freedmen, though its impossible to tell if this is because he’s being bribed or because of personal preference for “how it’s done” (he has something of Sir Humphrey to him). The owner of the Merchant House is happy to help you out and oh, his cousin owns a taxi company you can use to get to your meeting. The Widow of the Waterfront does more then set people up with other people, but she does a lot of the former and she expects a fancy gift with every meeting. Nor is bribing a few of the Pureborn to try and gain military assistance all that exceptional. When Yunkai wants Volantis’s help them against Dany they send an envoy loaded with “gifts” for the Volantene upper class and the Triarchs. To try and regain the Iron Throne Viserys feasted mercenaries, including the Golden Company.

  13. Andrew says:

    Another good post

    1) I like the desert prophet imagery. I see the Moses parallel in Dany as well. In Yunkai, she has the Yunkai’i free their slaves and select from amongst their possessions as repayment for slavery akin to Moses telling the Hebrews to ask for articles of gold, silver and clothing from the Egyptians as kind of reparations for slavery. I think she will also lead the freed slaves through the sea to the “promised land” of Westeros.

    2) The peach Jorah got from the western wall. Renly eats a peach and later dies, dead Martyn Lannister’s beard is described as peach fuzz, and Arya, who is associated with death. is called a “little peach.” I think peaches are to ASOIAF as oranges are to The Godfather trilogy. It might be foreshadowing for Dany dying at the Wall when combined with hints from the show at the HotU.

    3) Something tells me Dany will bump into Lynesse on her way back to Westeros when she stops in Lys. I don’t think it will go well. I think Jorah will die in Meereen, and Dany would feel obliged to tell his widow. Lynesse would probably give a callous response that shows how shallow she really is, and of course Dany would be outraged. I think she would have Lynesse punished with possibly a walk of shame, or something like that. Doing that would guarantee that the Hightowers will fight against Dany.

    • Amestria says:

      That sounds rather unfair to me and why would Dany do that? Is she a widow when she and Jorah have had what amounts to a divorce and what should she be “punished” for exactly? Jorah’s terrible marriage was as much his doing as hers.

      • Plus, Dany is not a prudish misogynist like the High Sparrow, or a hypocritical prude, misogynist and classist like Tywin Lannister.

      • Crystal says:

        Agreed about Jorah’s marriage. Grar at the misogyny that blames the woman for the failings of the couple. If Jorah wasn’t thinking with Little Jorah at the time, he’d have realized that Lynesse – daughter of a VERY rich, sophisticated Reach family – would not be happy on Bear Island nor would she fit in with what was expected of women there (if Maege Mormont and her daughters are the cultural ideal). Likewise, Lynesse’s father could have said “I think this marriage is ill-advised and I will NOT give my consent” even after Lynesse and Jorah begged him.

        I even blame Jorah more, as he was older (Lynesse was about 16 at the time IIRC) and should have known better. It seems that when he’s confronted with a beautiful blonde, Jorah’s brains fall out of his crotch.

      • Andrew says:

        Because Dany has a dragon’s temper, and Jorah was close to her. She would feel bad about is death, and we saw she does rash things when she is angry.

    • 1. Yeah, the tropes keep going.

      2. I don’t think that’s right. Martin has talked about the symbolism of the peach: “The peach represents… Well… It’s pleasure. It’s… tasting the juices of life. Stannis is a very martial man concerned with his duty, and with that peach Renly says: “Smell the roses”, because Stannis is always concerned with his duty and honor, in what he should be doing and he never really stops to taste the fruit. Renly wants him to taste the fruit but it’s lost.” The peach represents life, not death.

      3. I don’t think that’ll happen. I think Lynesse served her dramatic purpose. And I don’t think the Hightowers give a damn about Lynesse.

      • David Hunt says:

        3) There’s a bit from, IIRC, AFFC, where she’s mentioned in a Small Council Meeting. Cercei and the Council are hoping that the Hightowers can use her to influence Lys for…I can’t remember. Probably something to do with loans. Don’t all the Free Cities have their own banks with the Iron Bank being the most powerful and prosperous?

        • David Hunt says:

          Forgot to mention that despite the fact that they want to use Lynesse, I agree that the Hightowers likely have written her off. A member of a family as prominent as the Hightowers willingly becoming a concubine would be a great shame.

          • new djinn says:

            Ghuntor(i think?) Hightower is travelling to Lys to recruit Lynesse assistance in hiring sellsails to defend Oldtown. Doesn’t seem like they wrote her off.(Sam’s chapter in AFFTC)

          • When the city is absolutely in danger and they’re out of options, they send the youngest son to “persuade his half-sister Lynesse to loan him some of the Archon of Lys’ ships.” After leaving her in Lys for years on end. I don’t think that’s a sign of a close relationship.

          • Amestria says:

            Who says the Hightowers “left her,” as if she needed to be rescued? Maybe Lynesse wanted to stay there? She’s chief concubine of a Lyseni merchant prince, which no doubt comes with a higher standard of living then she’d find in Oldtown. Maybe she’s had children. Maybe she’s acquired significant influence in Lyseni society (the Widow of the Waterfront shows how wives and lovers can easily become business partners and then independent operators, and the Widow was originally a slave rather then a disgraced noble). Maybe she likes Tregar Ormollen (he certainly seems to like her, if stories of his wife being terrified of Lynesse are true).

          • I highly doubt this: “no doubt comes with a higher standard of living then she’d find in Oldtown.”

            Lynesse was a Hightower, one of the oldest and richest houses in all of Westeros in one of the oldest and richest cities in Westeros.

            Unless she’s the chief concubine of the Archon, it’s a step down.

          • Amestria says:

            Well Magister Illyrio seems to live a richer and more opulent life then members of House Lannister or occupants of the Red Keep. Tyrion is absolutely blown away by the quality of the cooking for example:

            ‘They began with a broth of crab and monkfish, and cold egg lime soup as well. Then came quails in honey, a saddle of lamb, goose livers drowned in wine, buttered parsnips, and suckling pig. The sight of it all made Tyrion feel queasy, but he forced himself to try a spoon of soup for the sake of politeness, and once he had tasted it he was lost. The cooks might be old and fat, but they knew their business. He had never eaten so well, even at court.’ (DoD Tyrion I)

            So here we have an example of how a member of the Pentosi elite enjoys a higher standard of living then the King of Westeros even though he commands less brute wealth. He couldn’t put up a great 77 course feast, but his food is far superior. The Free Cities also have many mummer troupes, tumblers, and traveling singers, far more then the cities of Westeros, where they only occasionally come to call (like for the Purple Wedding). So she’d also be better entertained. As chief concubine she no doubt wears some of the finest jewels, textiles and perfumes and lives in an eminently comfortable manse with high walls and extensive gardens, maybe a private zoo, waited on by slaves and protected by Unsullied, occasionally venturing out to take part in festivals or shop in the bazaar. That doesn’t seem like such a step down? And that’s assuming that she only has what has been given to her (that the Hightowers think they can get some ships through her speaks volumes – if she was some nobody would they bother with her at all? Oldtown and Lys aren’t that far from each other, they’d know her status).

          • Crystal says:

            I wonder how much the Hightowers might have written Lynesse off – after all, one of her brothers wants to get money from her to build ships. This is the family that preferred to accommodate to the Andals rather than fight them, and in the spin-offs of The Rogue Prince and The Princess and the Queen, it seems that Queen Alicent (nee Hightower) might have slept with Prince Daemon Targaryen before she married the King…I get the feeling that Alicent was no better than she should have been (by the standards of her time and place) and the Hightowers were pragmatic about it. It could well be that the family values the connection they have with Lys and merchant money there. They don’t seem like Starks or Arryns or prickly-of-their -honor Vale lords.

            In any event, I think that Lynesse is a minor enough character that we won’t meet her directly. And if the series really is going to be completed in only two more books, there won’t be room for dozens of minor characters to rear their heads. OTOH if it’s going to take three or more books, we *might* see her again – but I like to think that Dany’s post-ADWD trajectory is going to have her return to Westeros, and not stop in Lys just to have Drogon barbecue Jorah’s ex.

      • Andrew says:

        2) I saw that quote, however, I have noticed a pattern throughout ASOIAF regarding the peach. I doubt Martin would explicitly say a peach is a sign of death when asked about it. I saw that quote, and I think it goes in line with “knights of summer” dying like flies with winter approaching. The peach is a sweet, summer fruit, and winter is coming. Sweetness does have negative connotations in ASOIAF.

        3) I think they do care, and as Jorah said they’re very proud. Also, as you said, powerful families like thw Hightowers can’t let their family members be treated that way. I think Dany will stop in Lys for supplies, and bump into Lynesse and Edric Storm. For the latter, that would be an amusing scene with Edric worshiping his father while Dany villanizes him.

        • 2. While I’m not exactly a believer in authorial supremacy, I think if an author explains what a thing symbolizes, you have to reconsider whether you’re over-extending a concept like sweetness. Especially in this chapter, the peach along with the figs seems to much more resemble rejuvenation and recovery than death.

          3. First, I don’t think Dany’s going to stop in Lys. Second, I don’t think the Hightowers (who are quite busy atm) care that much about a member of theirs who married down then became a prostitute enough to fight a dragonrider.

          • Andrew says:

            2. An object can serve as a symbol for more than one thing. I have seen things in ASOIAF have many meanings. I think GRRM can also be ironic with traditional symbolism such as he did with wolves and lions. Wolves have traditionally been given a bad rep in Europe while lions had exceptionally good reps. The peach was gotten from near the western wall, and the only wall I can think of in the West is the Wall.

            3. If Dany is going back to Westeros than Lys can likely be along the way by sea. I still think she will bump into Edric Storm as I see no point in keeping him in Lys. Besides, it would be an interesting meeting, and good for Dany’s character.

          • 2. That’s true (although I think we have to proceed on the basis of evidence), but I think in this case you’re grasping at straws. Especially that wall=Wall thing.

            3. I really don’t think she’s going to bother with that. We’ve got two books left to finish the entire series, Dany needs to get into the main plot and deal with Aegon. Edric and Lynesse are tertiary characters at best, they’re just not important enough for screentime.

          • Andrew says:

            2. I think that peach at the Wall may serve as hint, We will wait and see until ADoS.

            3. Not if Edric plays an important role in the second Dance. My personal theory is that he serves as an Addam Velaryon parallel. The second Dance may likely not be finished until ADoS.

    • Lann says:

      A small correction. The peach fuzz one was Willem Lannister. Martyn Lannister was traded for Robett Glover.

  14. new djinn says:

    Very good analysis. I agree that D&D missed the ”revelation\enlightenment” part of the story. But i am of the opinion that most meta-textual meanings of ASOIAF are out of their adaptation(which is the standard for Benioff previous work).

  15. williamrd says:

    Trying to wrap my head on this “prophet narrative” thing and how it could have been shown on television…

    Correct me if I am wrong, but there seem to be two general types of prophets, those who give nagging advice to rulers based on divine revelation (Elijah, Samuel) , and those who take authority themselves based on divine revelations (Moses, Joseph Smith). Dany is a ruler, but her lengthy claims of authority come from her last name, marriage, dragons, and deeds of liberation, not any divine communication per se. She seems like someone who could use a (noncryptic) prophet,not a prophet herself. But I suppose someone having all the answers makes for a boring story.

    Also, historical question…this Judeo/Christian/Islamic trope of searching for truth in the desert was pretty much a guy thing, right? Any historical exceptions?


    • Her name is associated with the supernatural – remember, in addition to riding on dragons, which are functioning as the Holy Child(ren) and are a source of elemental power, the Targaryens have prophetic dreams.

      Prophecy is in her birthright.

      As for female desert prophets – this suggests four just in the Torah.

    • J. Alfred Prufrock says:

      Greco-Roman oracles, which I suppose are different from prophets, were often women – the Pythia, the Sybil, and so forth.

  16. Ari says:

    Heh, just caught the “and the gunslinger follows”. Nice 🙂

  17. JT says:

    The Jorah-Lynesse Hightower marriage is one of the most baffling (from an alliance perspective) in the series. The Hightowers are more of less the definition of Westerosi “old money” – they control the 2nd biggest city in Westeros, live in a 600 foot tall tower, can raise 20,000 men – they’re portrayed as the richest and most powerful non-Lord Paramount house in Westeros. They may very well be richer and more powerful than the Martells or the Greyjoys.

    Meanwhile, the Mormonts live on an island with no resources in the middle of nowhere (Bear Island is on the same latitude as the Wall). House Mormont’s “castle” is a longhall and the house seems to be a somewhat minor house by Northern standards (it doesn’t sound like the Mormonts can field as many man as the Boltons, Glovers, Tallharts, or Manderlys).

    I’m surprised that the Leyton Hightower married his daughter off to someone as insignificant as Jorah Mormont instead of using the marriage trying to strengthen ties with another major family in the Reach or a Jaime Lannister / Edmure Tully type.

    • ajay says:

      Interesting point, JT. Quick look at the wiki sheds a little light on it: Leyton Hightower has eight children by four wives. Three of them have made entirely sensible alliance marriages: his heir Baelor is married to the daughter of House Rowan, another powerful Reach house. Alysanne’s married into House Ambrose, also Tyrell bannermen. And his daughter Alerie’s married to Mace Tyrell himself.

      Three are unmarried: Malora the Mad Maid (who seems to be not so much mad as intelligent, and interested in magic), Garth “Greysteel” (a fighting type, currently training troops) and Humfrey (off in Lys catching up with sister Lynesse).

      And the last two are Lynesse Mormont and Leyla Cupps, whose husband Jon is a knight of no particular importance.

      My guess is that Leyton’s an example of the fact that you don’t always need to make a vital alliance with every marriage. He’s done pretty well for himself as it is, crosslinking with two other Reach houses (three, counting House Florent, who he married into himself) and also becoming the father-in-law of his own liege lord. Lynesse is the youngest daughter and doesn’t sound too overburdened with brains, and the Hightowers value brains (understandably). He probably wouldn’t be too fussed if she married into House Mormont – who, while not rich, are an extremely old and proud house, and well plugged in to the power structure through Jeor’s reputation, Jorah’s good war record, and the close ties between Mormont and Stark.

      • ajay says:

        Amend: ten children. Gunthor married into House Fossoway and Denyse into House Redwyne.

        Leyton pretty much hasn’t got any other Reach houses left to ally into!

    • I would caution against “no resources” – the Mormonts are one of the few houses that both fielded a substantial number of troops to Robb’s army (Maege basically had her own sub-command during the scouring of the West, which suggests a substantial size of troops), and had enough people left up North to field another force to fight the Ironborn.

      From a rough estimate of land and population, I’d say that Bear Island can support around 2,000 soldiers.

      House Mormont is a poor House because it doesn’t have much in the way of surplus resources – it’s mostly subsistence fishermen – or precious metals, not because it’s weak. You don’t hold Bear Island by being weak.

      • JT says:

        I didn’t call Mormonts weak; just somewhat insignificant on a “national” scale. I always thought of the Hightowers as a blue blood family, and the Mormonts as “hicks”.

        Then again as pointed out above, Leyton Hightower had 10 children, 6 of whom were daughters. So maybe finding a to lord who would marry his 10 child (and 6th daughter) was a coup.

        • I see it somewhat differently – it’s more like the difference between a Highland clan chief and an English Earl in say the 16th century. The latter most likely has much more developed agriculture and manufacturing, more cash on hand, more access to imported goods, etc. But the former still has a lot of guys with swords.

          In terms of where the Mormonts fit, I think they’re roughly at the same level of military power as, say, the Florents or maybe the Brackens/Blackwoods, but less powerful than the Freys. So in the North I don’t think they’re as powerful as the Boltons, Umbers, or Manderlys, but they’re definitely at the top of the second tier.

          • John says:

            I remember reading that in the 16th century the Earl of Argyll (aka the chief of Clan Campbell, the most powerful of the highland clans) was arguably the third most powerful person in the British Isles at the time, with only the monarchs of England and Scotland itself being able to field more troops.

        • In fact, what I find somewhat strange is that the Arryns of Gulltown or the Lannisters of Lannisport, etc. aren’t a bigger deal, given that you’d think whichever lesser House would have an unusual amount of income and population compared to most other lesser Houses.

          The latter maybe you could say that Tywin put the clamps on and micromanaged, but why aren’t the Gulltown Arryns a bigger deal?

          • JT says:

            I don’t know if that’s an oversight on the part of Martin, or just how he chose to structure his world to streamline things. In Westeros inheritance seems to be binary: you’re either the heir and you get everything, or you’re not, and you if you get anything it’s due to largess of your older sibling (i.e. Kevan mentions to Cersei that Tywin has rewarded him for his service, or Walder Frey telling Stevron, his heir, to look after the family).

            Re. the Arryns of Gulltown; at one point Littlefinger mentions to Sansa that the Arryns of Gulltown intermarried with merchants multiple times to keep the family afloat. Littlefinger refers to this as sensible – apparently they’re reasonably wealthy (but considered uncouth). So while the Arryns of Gulltown had a gold plated name, it appears they had little or no family income.

            Bastardy is another area where Martin makes it more binary – if you’re a bastard, you get nothing. In real life, you’d see bastards have some lands and incomes, and they would frequently get good marriages as well – Edric Storm would be Edric Fitzroy and he’d likely be a candidate for a marriage to the daughter of a Storm Lord.

          • Yes and no – cadet branches seem to be a clear case of younger siblings being granted land and their own House in order to keep land in the broader “family” and buttress the power of the main House – hence the Greystarks being given Wolf’s Den to give the Starks more influence in the east, or why the Karstarks are also a cadet branch given land near the Starks’ hereditary rivals.

            So what’s strange is that these two cadet houses don’t seem to work that way. The Lords of Gulltown should be rich from their feudal taxation over a major city; not as rich as the Hightowers, but definitely richer than the Manderlys. Likewise, you’d expect the Lannisters of Lannisport to be more important to the Lannister war effort, given the well-trained pikemen of Lannisport.

          • Amestria says:

            The Arryns of Gulltown might have a high and regular income, but as King Robert proved a high and regular income does not necessarily guarantee solvency, especially if you don’t have much business sense to begin with. At the start they might have tried living it up like the main branch of Arryns. Then perhaps, as they became intermixed with the Narrow Sea merchant world, they adopted more Eastern styles of living with all the additional expenses entailed. And the merchants were always happy to bail them out because marrying into them is a good investment. It’s also possible those marriages resolved their debts at the expense of reduced revenue, say, if the marriage came with special trade privileges for the family in question. Also, the Arryns of Gulltown might not have as high an income as you think, as far as customs are concerned they’re competing with main House Arryn and the Crown, both of whom have their finger in the pie (Littlefinger was appointed customs collector of Gulltown by Lord Arryn, not the Lord of Gulltown, and then he appointed his own people in Gulltown when he became Master of Coin).

            I think the Lannisters of Lannisport are very important to Lannister power in that they do all the unglamorous, nitty gritty trade and commercial work that would be against the dignity of the Lannisters of Castlely Rock. Like, that Lannisport gold work in the markets of Vaes Dothrak? The Lannisters of Lannisport probably had something to do with it getting there and probably something to do with the Myrish carpets that decorate Castley Rock. Then there’s trade disputes, debt collecting, market fairs, coastal defenses, pirates, smugglers, bandits, and so on to deal with. The Arryns of Gulltown might play a similar middleman role to House of Arryn of the Vale and Eyrie. Such a role however means you don’t go marching off with the pikemen. The Hightowers also fulfill this commercial role for the Tyrells and other Reacher Lords. So while the Hightowers are far wealthier and much more powerful then House Arryn of Gulltown and House Lannister of Lannisport, like these cadet Houses they stay put in Oldtown, which is definitely a full time job. They’ve also been more successful then the Arryns of Gulltown and therefore have been able to live up to and exceed the expectations of their class, even if their main role involves managing a port and interacting with foreign merchants (hence them knowing the Summer Tongue, among others). The Manderlys fulfill this role for the Starks, but they don’t get as much income from trade as the Southron Houses do so they’re more feudal and traditional in their outlook.

          • Possible, although it’s really weird that the Hightowers are so atypical.

          • Amestria says:

            Another thought, the Hightowers have also been doing what they’ve been doing for a *very long time*. Like, they’re a First Man family whose ancestors were Kings and gave up when the Andals came to preserve their lands, titles, and privileges. After the Andal invasion their city was the HQ of the Faith, home of the the Citadel and also got some not insignificant Valyarian influence. They’re one of the few that has a Valyrian steel sword. This is a family that is pretty prestigious (their family is way more hollowed then the Tyrells) and has a lot of lands and rights besides Oldtown. The Arryns of Gulltown and the Lannisters of Lannisport are lesser cadet branches much more recently installed over more limited domains, so they fall into disrepute or are micromanaged, respectively.

          • Not that much more recently installed. The Arryns date back to the Andal invasion, the Lannisters predate.

            But bottom line, money should be money.

          • Amestria says:

            “Not that much more recently installed. The Arryns date back to the Andal invasion, the Lannisters predate.”

            The Lannisters allegedly predate 😛 Well, I mean when the cadet branches split off. Much more recent and much less independent. The Manderly’s coming North and building White Harbor also pretty recent in that it happened only 600 years ago? Of course go back long enough and everything’s shrouded in myth. My point is that Hightower has been able to accumulate a lot in its time.

            “But bottom line, money should be money.”

            That kind of clashes with blood is blood.

          • According to the WOIAF, the Lannisters pulled the same accommodation trick as the Hightowers did and offered land and brides to divide and rule the Andals. And we don’t know when the cadet branch split off; Lannisport is old.

            Well yes, blood is blood, but money pays for household knights and men-at-arms. There should be power there.

          • David Hunt says:

            There’s some poor houses that have Valyiran Steel swords. If a formerly prosperous and prestigious house falls on hard times, that ancestral sword is just about the last thing that they’ll give up for money. Tywin Lannister had been trying for years to replace the one that his ancestor lost on his mad quest to Valyria and made offers to several impoverished houses. No dice. Once they sold off the family sword, they were admitting that they were never going to become as prominent as they used to be. For what that can do to someone, witness Viserys after he sold his mother’s crown. Granted, he had problems before that, but being called the Beggar King for all your adult life would wear on anyone.

          • Mr Fixit says:

            As posters have said, Graftons are rulers of Gulltown. I don’t think it’s a given that Arryns of Gulltown “started as the equivalents of Greystarks”. I guess not all cadet branches are given significant lands and holdings. Maybe Gulltown Arryns were simply given a small holdfast in some backwater, the equivalent of a petty lord or a landed knight. Wanting to earn some cash, they resorted to trading and it payed off. I imagine that powerful cadet branches like Greystarks and Karstarks aren’t all that common in Westeros as strong houses are probably reluctant to dilute their power this way.

            Wiki also says that Lannisport is ruled by the main branch of the family from Casterly Rock. If true, it would mean that Lannisters of Lannisport are also a weak branch (or a number of branches), probably having a role in the administration of the city, maybe involved in trade and managing the harbour and such.

          • John says:

            The Lannisters of Lannisport and the Arryns of Gulltown live in Lannisport and Gulltown. They don’t rule them. Where are they getting their income from?

          • thatrabidpotato says:

            Three years later, you undoubtedly know this, but pointing out that the Arryns of Gulltown don’t rule the city and never have: that’s House Grafton, and the Graftons actually are a fairly big deal.

          • Yeah. Although that still makes the Arryns of Gulltown dynastically confusing.

        • Amestria says:

          Wait, are the Arryns of Gulltown even the lords of Gulltown? I don’t remember if they are. Littlefinger just says:

          “There are several branches of House Arryn scattered across the Vale, all as proud as they are penurious, save for the Gulltown Arryns, who had the rare good sense to marry merchants. They’re rich, but less than couth, so no one talks about them.”

          They might have had very limited holdings and made up for this (perhaps after a period of debt) by getting successfully involved in trade and finance, which would put them below the Hightowers, Manderlys, and Lannisport Lannisters because they’re not much different from merchants.

          • Amestria says:

            No they’re not, the Lord of Gulltown is Gerold Grafton according to the Appendex. He’s the vassal of Lyonel Corbray and Littlefinger counts him among this allies:

            “I am well loved in Gulltown, and have some lordly friends of mine own as well. Grafton, Lynderly, Lyonel Corbray… though I’ll grant you, they are no match for the Lords Declarant.”

            “Petyr Baelish was clear across the Vale, though, attending Lord Lyonel Corbray at his wedding. A widower of forty-odd years, and childless, Lord Lyonel was to wed the strapping sixteen-year-old daughter of a rich Gulltown merchant. Petyr had brokered the match himself. The bride’s dower was said to be staggering; it had to be, since she was of common birth. Corbray’s vassals would be there, with the Lords Waxley, Grafton, Lynderly, some petty lords and landed knights… and Lord Belmore, who had lately reconciled with her father. The other Lords Declarant were expected to shun the nuptials, so Petyr’s presence was essential.”

            Well, there’s the answer why the Gulltown Arryns are so insignificant. They’re minor lords who’ve made it big as traders.

          • Ah. Well now I’m curious. No way in hell the Gulltown Arryns didn’t start as the equivalent to the Greystarks, so what the hell happened to them?

          • Amestria says:

            The Lannisters of Lannisport on the other hand are very important but their role is to handle all the commercial stuff the more distinguished Lannisters of Castley Rock can’t be bothered with. Castley Rock is also rather close to Lannisport, which would make managing the city managers rather easy. The Hightowers are something else altogether.

          • True, but it’s weird that we haven’t heard about any of them. On the other hand, we don’t know where Stafford and Daven came from.

          • Amestria says:

            “Ah. Well now I’m curious. No way in hell the Gulltown Arryns didn’t start as the equivalent to the Greystarks, so what the hell happened to them?”

            The more I think about it, the more that doesn’t sound right. First, it’s extrapolation based on Northern political behavior, and the North and the Vale are very different places. The North is much larger for example, the Vale of Arryn could snugly fit into the North’s northeast, where you have the Karstarks, Boltons, Umbars, and Magyars. So the North has a lot more land to rule and give out (the North probably has fewer lords then it could have – there’s no Lord established in Seadragon Point for example, despite the value of its resources). Then there’s the fact that the Vale of Arryn is more fertile and and yet way more mountainous then the North. The fertility of the vale lands means the Vale can support a large population and that the lords of the fertile bits are extremely powerful and dominate the rest. So there’s a big motivation to concentrate one’s holdings in the main branch of the family, because to divide those holdings is to weaken the family and create a potential challenger. At the same time the mountains mean there are lots of poor nooks and crannies where a family can establish a keep and live as a petty lord over sheep and peasants. Littlefinger’s barren “home” is an excellent example of this. So while in the North you have conditions favorable to powerful cadet branches, in the Vale you have conditions which would lead to weak cadet branches. Most likely all those lesser branches of House Arryn are the surviving descendants of second, third, or fourth sons who got some out of the way land (more valuable then the Littlefinger, obviously) and have lived as proud, impoverished aristocrats ever since, except for the Arryns of Gulltown, who married into Gulltown merchant families. The Arryns of the Eyrie kept all the really good places for themselves.

          • That’s not *Northern* political behavior. That’s feudal dynastic politics – the way to keep power is to keep it in the family, and turn the extended family into a mini-bureaucracy because you can’t administer it yourself. This is especially the case with non-contiguous holdings.

            So for example: the Arryns control the entry point to the Vale and have major castles under their control. But as we saw from the Lords Declarant, they’re not invincible against their bannermen as they are from outside threats. Given the wealth and population of Gulltown, the natural strategy for the Arryns is to plant a cadet branch as lords of Gulltown so they can build a power base in the eastern Vale. After all, family are less likely to challenge them than a non-relative.

          • Amestria says:

            I mean, the Starks in the North have a LOT more territory to dispose of then the Arryns of the Vale or the Lannisters of the Westerlands. The Grey Starks and the Karstarks were/are not a mini-bureaucracy, they were/are lords with vast holdings. They’re the exact opposite of the Lannisters of Lannisport, who definitely are a subordinate mini-bureaucracy (they don’t even rule Lannisport – the Lord of Castley Rock is the “Shield of Lannisport” among other things). The Lannisters are very big on keeping their Westerland lands in the main family – Ser Kevan doesn’t have any lands for example despite him being one of the more capable because he was a second or third son (I forget which) and his son Lancel is given land in the Riverlands. And this is because they have less land to give away/rule so the main family holds onto everything. Also the North is very big on direct, hands on rule (he who passes the sentence should swing the sword and all that), which might be one explanation for why feudal holdings are so concentrated around big ancestral fortresses rather then spread out like in the South. And the North has lots of EMPTY land. The North is weird.

            I’ve thought of one explanation why the Gulltown Arryns aren’t a big deal. Maybe the main Arryns never got a chance to plant a cadet branch as lords of the city because they never managed to gain control of the city in the first place? Maybe the Corbrays and Graftons were very good at protecting their holdings? Maybe the Vale lords in general would not have stood for House Arryn in general taking too much? These are all very old, distinguished and prickly families, some (allegedly) older then the Arryns. That seems the simplest explanation.

          • While it’s the Starks have more land to give out, historically, you see the same thing happening in a lot of feudal systems. For feudal politics to function, the king has to give out lands to keep people happy and loyal, but this weakens his own position if his vassals turn unruly. One way to accrete power in the long-term is to steer land towards other family members in the hope that the extended family unit will pull together. The Hapsburgs were masters of this, for example.

            When I talked about “mini-bureaucracy,” what I meant was that giving lands to the Greystarks and the Karstarks allowed the Starks to project more power and influence in the east of their realm and gave the Starks a check on the Boltons, making it easier to rule. This parallel is less exact in the case of the Lannisters, Casterly Rock being positioned to dominate Lannisport with or without a cadet branch (although some Lannister of Casterly Rock created the cadet branch for a reason, and I’d bet that the micromanagement of Lannisport is a fairly recent situation, Tywin’s reaction to his father’s open-handedness), but I think more apt in Gulltown. The Arryn’s position within their own realm is heavily focused on the west, on outside threats; as we’ve seen they’re far more vulnerable to the east.

            I’m willing to bet that, at some time, the Arryns of Gulltown were the Lords of Gulltown, and lost their position over time. They might have been on the wrong side of some wars, they might have gone heavily into debt, they might have mismanaged, or it’s possible that some Lord of the Eyrie liked or needed a Corbray or a Grafton more than he liked his cousins.

          • Amestria says:

            How to the various kingdoms compare size wise to historical feudal monarchies? I’d estimate it myself, but I’d probably make a mistake.

            “When I talked about “mini-bureaucracy,” what I meant was that giving lands to the Greystarks and the Karstarks allowed the Starks to project more power and influence in the east of their realm and gave the Starks a check on the Boltons, making it easier to rule.”

            Ah. Well, I don’t think “mini-bureaucracy” is the best term there because that brings to mind an administrative role, you know? btw, I thought of another reason for the grant besides balancing out the Boltons. Greystark holdings were at the mouth of the Knife, Karstark holdings are along the Bay of Seals. In the ancient days the Starks faced regular raids from Wildlings out of the Northeast and Sisterman and Narrow Sea pirates from the Southeast, just as they fought Ironmen in the Bay of Ice and along the Stony shore. So they were giving the Greystarks and the Karstarks border places, making them the equivalent of Marcher Lords. As to why they’d appoint family to guard the Eastern lands and not the Western, well, the Western lands are at the very end of the trade routes, and are therefore marginal and poor, while the Eastern lands get trade out of the Narrow Sea, and are very valuable. The Knife is also the perfect place to circumvent the Neck.

            It’s also possible, as you’ve pointed out, that the Gull Arryns tried to overthrow the main branch of the family, like the Greystarks, and ended up demoted instead of wiped out. It’s curious Littlefinger didn’t mention that though, just that the family was considered unworthy because they’d stooped to *gasp* marrying merchants. You’d think their past treason and disgrace would worth a mention. Or maybe not. Absent further information I think the safest assumption is that the Gulltown Arryns were always relatively land poor, not unlike the Westerlings, and that they resolved their financial problems by getting into trade. As Littlefinger states, all the offshoots of House Arryn are poor except those “who had the rare good sense to marry merchants.” Those other poor cadet branches likely started out poor too, so why not the Gulltown Arryns (who might not have originally lived in Gulltown but only relocated there after they started marrying into the merchant families – before the Spicer Family married into House Westerling they seem to have haunted Lannisport)?

          • John says:

            I think you’re looking at this wrong. The Arryns of Gulltown weren’t put in Gulltown by the Lord of the Eyrie to watch over the city. Some Lord of the Eyrie’s younger son’s landless younger son married a rich merchant’s daughter and settled down as a prosperous burgher.

  18. A Song Of Ice And Fire Fan says:

    From a post from a couple of days ago Amestria said that Lord Grafton, the ruler of Gulltown is a vassal to Lord Corbray. I don’t think that is correct. Further down the post after Amestria mention the wedding of Lord Corbray it says:

    “Corbray’s vassals would be there, with the Lords Waxley, Grafton, Lynderly, some petty lords and landed knights…….”

    In that sentence Corbrays vassals are separated from the other Lords by a comma, which I believe means that the Lords mentioned are not vassals of Lord Corbray. Hence Lord Grafton is not a vassal to Lord Corbray.

    I’ve been following this website for a at least a year and a half now and I like it! I have also read your articles on towerofthehand. Fantastic work!

    A Song of Ice and Fire Fan

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