Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Daenerys II, ACOK

Qarth

All the colors that had been missing from Vaes Tolorro had found their way to Qarth; buildings crowded about her fantastical as a fever dream in shades of rose, violet, and umber. 

Synopsis: Daenerys and her dragons arrive in Qarth to rapturous applause. Dany takes up residence at the house of Xaro Xhoan Daxos, gets an invitation from Pyat Pree to visit the House of the Undying, and receives word that Robert Baratheon is dead.

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:

As I mentioned in Daenerys I, Dany’s story line in ACOK is a bit of an odd departure from the most straightforward rise to power narrative in AGOT and ASOS (and it’s perhaps not surprising that the ASOIAF fandom isn’t quite on board with Dany’s ADWD storyline, which also doesn’t give us a rise to power narrative). Qarth itself doesn’t have a lot of defenders, even among book fans who experienced the city on the page long before Season 2’s rather troubled adaptation.

However, as I will argue in this essay (and in the essays for Dany III, IV, and V), Qarth plays a crucial role in Dany’s prophetic narrative. After all, a prophet needs to undergo temptation.

Qarth as Cultural Experience:

Before I get into that, first a word on Qarth as a culture. When I analyzed Dany’s AGOT story line, I argued that Dany’s arc was grounded in a narrative of culture as power, where assimilation through openness and adaptation trumps rigid bigotry and isolation. This theme of culture as power didn’t end on the Dothraki Sea – rather, in ACOK, we get a different kind of story about culture and power, focusing on the way in which cultural power can overwhelm and oppress the migrant, possibly causing them to lose their identity and their way.

To begin with, Qarth is a very different culture than Dany has ever experienced. Her adaptation to a nomadic warrior culture looked down upon and feared by the Free Cities she grew up on took place through a gradual understanding that the Dothraki had a richer and more complex culture than she had been raised to believe, but it’s still an adaptation where Dany starts at the top of their society from a position of power. In the case of Qarth, Dany is a powerless refugee confronted with an ancient, self-confident (to the point of aggrandizing), cosmopolitan (to the point of decadence) and urban civilization:

Qarth is the greatest city that ever was or ever will be. It is the center of the world, the gate between south and north, the bridge between east and west, ancient beyond memory of man and so magnificent that Saathos the Wise put out his eyes after gazing on Qarth for the first time, because he knew that all he saw thereafter should look squalid and ugly by comparison.”

The magnificent of the great city was not to be denied. Three thick walls encircled Qarth, elaborately carved. The outer was red sandstone…decorated with animals…the middle wall, forty feet high was grey granite alive with scenes of war…the innermost wall was fifty feet of black marvel, with carvings that made Dany blush. 

The Qartheen lined the streets and watched from delicate balconies that looked too frail to support their weight. They were tall pale folk in linen and samite and tiger fur, everyone a lord or lady to her eyes. The women wore gowns that left one breast bare, while the men favored beaded silk skirts. Dany felt shabby and barbaric as they rode past them…how savage we must seem to these Qartheen.

A few things leap out at the reader here: first, Qarth’s description is simply dripping with exotica, a riot of colors and perfumes and ornamentation, a dizzying contrast with the starkness and deprivation of the desert. There’s an interesting pairing of luxury and sensuality with animals and violence, and a liberated, queer sexuality where men dress in ways coded as feminine in Western culture (and indeed, we learn are encouraged to embrace emotional affects again more associated with femininity in Western culture) and where nudity taboos don’t exist – in Qarth, the polymorphously perverse is the social norm. The contrast to the simplicity (at least on the Dothraki Sea) and sharply divided gender roles of the Dothraki is quite comprehensive.

Now, there are those who argue that all Martin is doing here is moving from one Orientalist trope (the savage Other) to another (the decadent Other), only this time changing the skin color to albino-white to cover his ass. There’s something of a point there, but I think there’s more going on. Yes, GRRM is borrowing from an old trope of sword-and-sorcery, a genre that was hardly innocent of trafficking in orientalist tropes (think Robert E. Howard, H.P Lovecraft, H Ryder Haggard, and Michael Moorcock), but I don’t think Qarth is the “decadent east” trope. Rather, it’s the Lost Civilization trope – Qarth is a pretty close parallel to the Atlantis of Howard’s Bran Mak Morn or his Hyperborea of Conan the Barbarian’s era, the Melnibone of Moorcok’s Elric, the Land of the Lotus Eaters. And historically, these Lost Civilization tropes were very much part of an anti-modernist declension narrative focused at Western urban civilization and often depicted pale, over-refined, decadent, and paralyzed-by-ennui elites whose advanced civilizations and ancient magics were doomed to fall and be replaced by the earthier, more robustly masculine, hero. (Not that there aren’t echoes of the fear that urban cosmopolitanism was going to sap Western civilization of its masculine vitality, thus requiring war to make men of the generation of 1914, which is an idea not entirely un-associated with imperialism and the Yellow Peril). And let’s be honest, a city of slave-masters who think they’re the greatest civilization that’s ever existed – there’s no way the Qartheen aren’t white.

Second, part of the discourse in that quote focuses on the Qartheen as believers in cultural supremacy grounded in a kind of hyper-sophistication that makes Dany question her own status, hence: “Dany felt shabby and barbaric as they rode past them…how savage we must seem to these Qartheen.” Dany is entering Qarth, not as a Princess of the blood of Old Valyria, but as an immigrant Dothraki, overwhelmed by her new surroundings. This over-the-top opulence and preening boosterism is necessary to put Dany in the position of a cultural underdog, who has to navigate a new society and once again go through a process of learning. Without the wealth and the colorful display and the decadence, Dany doesn’t have anything to struggle against.

credit to Game of Thrones Ascent

The Temptations of Daenerys Targaryen

Third, and this is where we get back to the prophet narrative, there is also a mystical purpose to Qarth’s cornucopia of the senses – the city represents the place of illusion and temptation that a prophet must overcome through insight. Think Jesus being tempted in the wilderness in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where dominion over the earthly kingdoms is on offer – Robert Graves in King Jesus has an especially trippy version of this story. Think the Buddha meditating under the Bodhi tree, being tempted by the demon Mara, who offers him his three beautiful daughters who represent Craving, Boredom, and Passion, in attempt to forestall the Buddha from attaining nirvana.

Thus, when Dany arrives in Qarth, she’s immediately given two alluring offers to lead her off the true path:

“If you see here anything that you would desire, O most beautiful of women, you only have to speak and it is yours….The Thirteen shall set a crown of black jade and fire opals upon her lovely head…She had not expected a palace larger than many a market town. It makes Magister Illyrio’s manse in Pentos loook like a swineherd’s hovel…she would have her own gardens, a marble bathing pool, a scrying tower and warlock’s maze. Slaves would tend to her every need…

“On the morrow, you shall feast upon peacock and lark’s tongue, and hear music worthy of the most beautiful of women. The Thirteen will come to do you homage, and all the great of Qarth.”

“It shall be as I promised, Khaleesi. Come with me to the House of the Undying, and you shall drink of truth and wisdom.” 

On the one hand, Dany is offered worldly wealth – which is in turn linked to royal power through the symbolism of crowns and homage, and represented by Xaro Xhoan Daxos (or XXD as he shall be known from now on, because I’m not typing that more than once). On the other hand, she is offered access to esoteric power as represented by Pyat Pree. Both offers are immediately represented as potentially tainted, all surface beauty and rotten interior. XXD’s wealth is dismissed as mere “baubles,” and Pyat Pree’s House of the Undying as a “Palace of Dust…built of bones and lies…gifts [which] will turn to dust in your hands.” At the same time, there is a faint suggestion that these two offers are actually just opposite sides of the same coin – note that XXD’s palace offers a “scrying tower and warlock’s maze.”

Indeed, a third path, the path of prophetic knowledge, is represented to Dany by Quaithe of the Shadow, who offers:

…only a warning. “Beware,” the woman in the red lacquer mask said.

“Of whom?”

“Of all. They shall come day and night to see the wonder that has been born again into the world, and when they see they shall lust. For dragons are fire made flesh, and fire is power.”

On the one hand, Quaithe is quite right – both XXD and Pyat Pree want Dany’s dragons and will hatch schemes to acquire them. On the other hand, it’s not exactly like Quaithe is without her own agenda. As I talk about on the BLAH podcast on prophecy, Quaithe’s prophecies often have an element of self-fulfillment to them (as will the prophecies of the House of the Undying). By giving prophecy, she alters Dany’s willingness to trust this party or the next, to go in this direction or the other. And let’s be honest, there are few places less wholesome in all of Planetos than Asshai, “where nothing is forbidden” and where “shadowbinders [in] lacquered masks [to] hide their faces from the eyes of gods and men…alone dare to go upriver past the walls of Asshai, into the heart of Darkness.”

I also want to touch on this idea that the dragons are “fire made flesh, and fire is power.” Now, as I’ve talked about before, it remains unclear whether the dragons’ rebirth is a cause or a sign of the rebirth of magic into the world. However, the World of Ice and Fire does make it clear that dragons are inherently magical – the Valyrians claimed them to be the “children of the Fourteen Flames;” Septon Barth claims that the “bloodmages of Valyrian used wyvern stock to create dragons,” probably by inter-breeding them with fire-wyrms (which would explain the “children of the Fourteen Flames” thing, since the fire-wyrms were found there); it’s possible that the Valyrians may have interbred with dragons somehow to gain their control over them; and it’s possible that dragons and the art of taming dragons was brought to Valyria “from the Shadow,” the dark beating heart of sorcery. More on this next time.

In the midst of all of this temptation, Dany must divine the right path and correctly interpret the visions, to uncover her true purpose:

 Her people had followed her across the red waste as she chased her comet, and would follow her across the poison water too, but they would not be enough. Even her dragons might not be enough…the Bleeding Star led me to Qarth for a purpose. Here I will find what I need, if I have the strength to take what it is offered, and the wisdom to avoid the traps and snares. If the gods mean for me to conquer, they will send me a sign, and if not…

Now, there’s not a small part of the fandom that really doesn’t like Daenerys, especially when she gets into this Chosen One mentality, which they see as “entitled.” And some of that is coming from a general fatigue with Destiny as a character trope. Now, I can see where this is coming from – destiny is something of an over-used trope, especially since a generation of scriptwriters gulped down George Lucas’ rather unsubtle use of Joseph Campbell and turned destiny into a substitute for character motivation, character growth, and, in general, effort. However, I think destiny can be done right, and there’s a reason why it was right at the heart of the origins of Greek drama. Destiny, fate, whatever you want to call it, works when it’s used as a way to discuss the inherent human fear of both the inevitability of death and the sheer randomness of suffering. Destiny should be something to be feared and fought against, a way for heroes to exert their free will and individualism – not something to be easily accepted after a token Refusal of the Call.

And I think GRRM uses destiny and prophecy rather well – it’s never an unalloyed good, it tends to offer both greatness and suffering in equal measures, and its something that if pursued brings ruin, and if struggled against or attempted to be outflanked only brings itself closer to enactment. Prophecy didn’t make Aegon V or Rhaegar or Jaehaerys II or Cersei or Jojen the self-actualized heroes of Joseph Campbell – it brought them death and misery and paranoia. And as we’ll see with the HOTU, it’s not promising Dany a smooth ride, and it will lead her into darker and darker paths.

But in defense of Dany the Chosen One, I defy anyone to walk into a raging inferno and come back, unharmed, with three dragons, all the while a portentous comet hangs overhead without getting a bit full of messianic self-regard. Dany genuinely has accomplished miracles; her actions are marked out by prophecy and her choices led her across deserts to reshape the world.

The War of Five Kings: the View From the Eastern Theater

At the same time, Dany isn’t just a destined messiah – she’s also still very much Daenerys of House Targaryen, an exiled princess who believes herself to be the rightful monarch of Westeros and who is now having to figure out how to make that happen:

If her sun-and-stars had lived, he would have led his khalasar across the poison water and swept away her enemies…the Dothraki sacked cities and plundered kingdoms, they did not rule them. Dany had no wish to reduce Kings’ Landing to a blackened ruin full of unquiet ghosts…I want to make my kingdom beautiful, to fill it with fat men and pretty maids and laughing children. I want my people to smile when they see me ride by, the way Viserys said they smiled for my father. But before she could do that she must conquer…

This interior monologue is interesting because it shows a Dany who’s far more introspective than she’s given credit for. Back in AGOT, Dany was strongly pushing for her husband to cross the Narrow Sea and put her (or at least her son) on the Iron Throne by force, and was willing to accept mass enslavement as the cost of that (up to a point). In the wake of the disastrous repercussions of her actions, here she re-examines her initial plan and doesn’t like what she sees. In a book absolutely filled with a running theme of what makes a good ruler, and how good rulers should act, it’s important to note that Dany is one of the few who stops to reckon the consequences of the pursuit of power and what she actually wants to do once she has it.

Her goal is a little naive (as the mention of Viserys’ romantically biased view of his father suggests), but on the other hand, Dany at least recognizes that it’s a goal that can’t be achieved without warfare, requiring a balancing of means and ends. Hopefully, this is a sign that the Daenerys who emerges once again from the Dothraki Sea will not have completely abandoned her principles in favor of bloodshed.

At the same time, Dany’s campaign to become Queen of Westeros gets a major boost in this chapter:

 “Dragonmother, Stormborn, I tell you true, Robert Baratheon is dead.”

“Outside her walls, dusk was settling over Qarth, but a sun had risen in Dany’s heart. “Dead?…you are certain? The Usurper is dead?”

…”Torn by a monstrous boar whilst hunting in his kingswood…other say his queen betrayed him, or his brother, or Lord Stark who was his Hand. Yet all the tales agree in this: King Robert is dead and in his grave.”

…”The boy sits the Iron Throne now,” Ser Jorah said.

“King Joffrey reigns…but the Lannisters rule. Robert’s brothers have fled King’s Landing. The talk is, they mean to claim the crown. And the Hand has fallen, Lord Stark who was King Robert’s friend…”

“This changes everything…Before, the Seven Kingdoms were like my Drogo’s khalasar, a hundred thousand made as one by his strength. Now they fly to pieces, even as the khalasar did after my khal lay dead.”

And yet, this news brings about argument rather than consensus – an argument in which both have a point. On the one hand, Jorah is correct that, without an army and/or fully-grown dragons, Dany doesn’t have a hope in hell of winning the Iron Throne. On the other hand, Dany is quite correct that the War of Five Kings has created a destabilizing effect that radically alters the strategic context: where once Dany’s landing would have been confronted by an alliance of houses Stark, Baratheon, Arryn, Tully, and Lannister almost impossible to defeat, even with the hypothetical support of Houses Martell and Tyrell, now the royal power bloc is shredding itself to pieces.

And yet…Dany won’t actually arrive in Westeros until the War of Five Kings is over, and this makes me wonder how much of GRRM’s original plot structure remains intact. In the original trilogy, Dany doesn’t get to Westeros until Book 2, whereas the entirety of the War of Five Kings, from Eddard Stark’s doomed Handship to the Red Wedding and Tyrion’s exile, was supposed to happen by the end of Book 1. On the other hand, events in Westeros have gone well beyond their stopping point in the original trilogy when Dany was meant to arrive, which might suggest a foreshortened Daenerys invasion in favor of getting her up to the North for the second Battle for the Dawn.

Historical Analysis:

Part of the problem with finding a good historical parallel for Qarth is that it’s so over-the-top, it more resembles a planet that Picard or Kirk might be dropped on for an episode than anywhere in the real world. On the other hand, one of the things that human beings have been very very good at is coming up with fictional cities to explore in their imaginations.

Last time, I talked a little bit about the literature of lost cities, but I really only scratched the surface on mythological metropolises. For example, the Kingdom of Prester John, which Europeans in the 11th through 17th centuries believed existed somewhere in India, Ethiopia, or Asia, was supposed to be a mystical place where the Fountain of Youth, the Gates of Alexander, and the literal Garden of Paradise could be found. Notably, a big part of the Kingdom is a Christian, often seen as quasi-European, nation that’s going to come to the rescue of Christendom, and it’s not an accident that the legend gained prominence between the period when the Crusades fell apart and the period in which the Ottoman empire pushed up to the gates of Vienna.

Likewise, the city of Shangri-La, basically invented out of whole cloth by James Hilton in 1933, was supposed to be a mystical utopia ruled over by enlightened monks, where all knowledge would be preserved against loss in war, and in which people would be free from death…only to perish if they ever left. Again, probably not an accident that Hilton’s book came out in the 1930s with the fear of another mechanized war and the loss of civilization very much in the atmosphere. In both cases, we have a sense that these mythic cities are supposed to represent harmony, refuge in a time of crisis, and the end of death – which fits Qarth to a tee.

credit to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

On the other hand, one of the reasons I namechecked Homer’s Lotus Eaters is that there’s an undercurrent of hidden menace underneath Qarth that doesn’t really pop up elsewhere – the idea that there’s a place so lovely that you never want to leave, where the total absence of the need to strive doesn’t lead to genuine fulfillment but a kind of blissful apathy that becomes a living death. What Qarth adds to the mix is the sneaking suspicion that when the illusion falls away, you’re trapped in somewhere rather nasty.

What If?

I’m going to cover the two offers in the succeeding Daenerys chapters, so I’m going to give the hypotheticals a pass for this chapter.

Book vs. Show:

And here’s where the botch kicks in…the problem starts right when Daenerys gets to the gates of Qarth and the Thirteen decide to turn her away. This is a misguided attempt to add drama and urgency to Dany at that moment, but it fails completely, because everyone in that moment knows that she can’t possibly back up her threats if she’s going to die without entry into Qarth. It only succeeds in making her look petulant and one-note as if the only thing she can do is to promise people they’ll die screaming. And that tone continues so consistently throughout the next three episodes that it spawned entire memes:

It’s so clearly an example of the writers backing themselves into a corner that they have no way to get out, save by making up a Star Trek-style “right of sumai” that XXD invokes for seemingly no reason. And this brings up a larger problem: by excising the “three wise men” introduction of Qarth, the show doesn’t set up the idea that Dany’s dragons will be a source of fascination and desire, something she’ll have to guard against those who want to take them from her. By making Pyat Pree and XXD’s motivations a mystery, you don’t care about it when it’s happening and when the revelation comes it doesn’t have the impact it should. Likewise, without the desire and cupidity to set up why Dany thinks she might be able to get ships from the Qartheen, her frustration at the Spice King comes off as entirely unwarranted and yes, entitled.

What irritates me is that I think you could have done something really interesting by playing it a little closer to the books: have Dany be greeted by XXD, Pyat Pree, and Qarth. Build up the will-they, won’t they tension and then suddenly subvert it with sudden offers of fantastical wealth, mystic knowledge, and prophecy. Hell, make an explicit allusion to the Three Wise Men – it’s a fairly well-known story on a global scale, so you can get the audience thinking everything’s ok. Then you set up the stinger that this all might be a trap. That way, there’s some stakes when XXD makes his offer and Pyat Pree makes his invitation.

And what’s so depressing about all of this is that there are a few instances in the Qarth storyline – the picturesque sight of Qarth through the gates, the weird dinner party where Pyat Pree(s) shows up – where you get a sense that there was the possibility of so much more.

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151 thoughts on “Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis: Daenerys II, ACOK

  1. Bc282 says:

    Liked this one a lot. For historical analogues, I thought the show clearly took aesthetic inspiration from Turner’s paintings of Carthage (esp http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dido_building_Carthage) which also capture the heightened exoticism of a civilisation “lost” in a slightly different sense

    • Will Rogers says:

      “as the mention of Viserys’ romantically biased view of his father suggests”

      This is a problem I have with Dany’s plot; she’s still convinced that he father was the best king ever and people who know better (Jorah, Barristan) refuse to tell her the truth (granted, she keeps changing the subject every time it comes up.)

      Maybe that’s what Tyrion will do when they meet up – laugh in her face and explain in great detail how her house destroyed itself.

      • Winnie says:

        I do think Tyrion is going to provide a welcome reality check for her-and perhaps a cautionary note as well. Dany’s not evil, as some suggest (Not yet anyway) but her Messiah complex is evident and there are definitely tendencies for megalomania. Knowing the truth about Aerys might prompt some much needed introspection to get her to watch out for those Targaryen traits of hers that aren’t so desirable.

        Also when the Big Reveal *does* happen besides getting adjusted to the fact that Jon might have a better claim than her, that alone will seriously revise her opinion of everything she *thinks* she knows about the “traitor” Ned Stark. For that matter so will everyone else in Westeros…

        • Andrew says:

          “Cold-eyed Eddard Stark with his frozen heart;” Viserys never met Ned before so he likely just resorted to stereotypes associated with Northerners and possibly, the Starks. As for Dany, she fails to note that Jorah said “The long summer will come again before that one would besmirch his precious honor,” and this isn’t the first time Jorah spoke of Ned as honorable, he said Ned forced him into exile because of his “precious honor.” Even though Jorah dislikes Ned, he acknowledges the man is honorable.

          Then it is brought up again by Barristan, who said that he thanked the gods for being stripped of his cloak when Joffrey had Ned beheaded, meaning Barristan didn’t see it in a positive light. Dany’s response is to say “Stark was a traitor who got a traitor’s death” or Ned got what he deserved. She fails to note that while Barristan usually is quiet or goes along with her when she rebukes Robert or the Lannisters, he does the opposite with Ned, he actually defends him. He states that Ned resigned as Hand (the highest position he could hope to achieve) in protest over Robert’s decision to have her killed. Dany brings up the Sack of King’s Landing to which Barristan replies that Ned had nothing to do with that. Her response if Viserys called them the Usurper’s dogs. I roll my eyes at that given she herself thought Barristan knew more than Viserys could ever hope to know.

          She is being willful in refusing to believe that the “Usurper’s dogs” might have actually been good men even if one guys earns this kind of respect from Barristan, and when presented with his actions over the decision to kill her, much like Rickon willfully trying to forget hjis father’s death even when presented with reality. For one it ruins the romanticized version of Robert’s Rebellion that she grew up with and prefers. It also means that if good men fought against her family then they may have had good reasons.

        • Precisely. The truth about R+L=J is going to be a big deal to Dany, especially when it comes to the human collateral damage.

          • Andrew says:

            It practically forces her to accept that the “Usurper’s dog” Ned was actually a good man, who took a huge risk by raising the Targaryen heir in hiding. She would want to disbelieve R+L=J for that reason along with it meaning that Dany would lose her crown.

            I expect Dany to become disillusioned by the end, realizing somewhere along the way she had become or almost become what she had hated. As Thoros said, “war makes monsters of us all,” and Dany hasn’t been fighting against the most morally upstanding people in her arc.

          • On the other hand, it means she’s not alone in the world. She has a family.

          • Andrew says:

            That’s the irony. She finally has a Targaryen family member like she wanted, and from the sound of it is the kind of guy she would want for a family member, but it costs her her crown and turns the whole story she lived her life by on its head.

          • Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think Jon’s going to go for the IT.

          • David Hunt says:

            People keep saying that “it cost her her crown”. That ain’t necessarily so. She’s still got a good claim via her bloodline, a well trained blooded army and dragons. The fact that Jon’s claim is technically better, if he was legitimate, only goes so far. Plus, she’s got the advantage that everyone knows that she’s the daughter of Aerys. She was the Beggar King’s sister for years. Jon’s story is exactly the type of weird, convoluted crap that someone who was manufacturing a pretender would come up with. Aegon’s story has those elements as well, but at least he looks like a Targaryan. Anyone who looks at Jon, instantly thinks “Stark.”

          • Space Oddity says:

            And… *ahem* Night Watch vow.

          • Andrew says:

            David Hunt, Dany’s claim is based not on having the most muscle, but being the sole heir to the Targaryen dynasty. If she denies Jon when he has proven his heritage, then she is no better than Robert when he took her father’s throne as she well knows. What’s the point of Jon having a secret royal heritage if it isn’t going to impact the story? It is going to be publicly revealed eventually. GRRM can make it work.

            Space Oddity, GRRM said men have been release from the NW vows in rare cases, and that a Great Council could possibly absolve Jon of his vows.

          • That is based on several big assumptions:

            1) that Jon will be able to prove R+L=J,
            2) that he will be released from his NW vows,
            3) that he’ll even want to be released from his NW vows,
            4) he would even want the Iron throne.

            Furthermore, if all this happened, it’s still no guarantee that he would necessarily get the throne instead of Dany. And no, if Dany still got the throne, it wouldn’t make her like Robert; it would make her no worse than Viserys II, who got the throne ahead of Daena the Defiant, because he had several advantages that made him a more desirable monarch. The Targaryens have a history of not always sticking to the Andal rules of inheritance and making exceptions. In this case, Dany may very well be the preferred claimant for Targaryen supporters; her one disadvantage – being a woman – may pale in comparison to her being raised as a Targaryen, being the Mother of Drdragons and having a powerful army, as opposed to a man who was raised as a Northerner, as Ned Stark’s “bastard”, follows the Old Gods, feels no connection to the Targaryen heritage, and was in man of the Night’s Watch who decided to forswear his vows (if he does that; I’m not convinced he will, in fact I’m not sure I can even see him doing that)

          • David Hunt says:

            Andrew,

            I was going to make a reply, but timetravellingbunny made just about every point that I would want to, so what ttb said.

          • Andrew says:

            @timetravleing bunny
            You mean like Stannis arriving just in time when Jon is on a suicide mission in Mance’s tent, has a wight attack when Jon is awaiting punishment for attacking Thorne or there happens to be a guy with a horse and Siummer that allows Jon to get away form the wildlings to CB? GRRM provides no shortage of plot gifts, and all big secrets are exposed eventually. You still haven’t answered the question regarding the purpose behind GRRM giving Jon a secret royal heritage. There is also a plethora of little hints pointing to Jon as king. Jon is the last person the reader would expect to sit the IT given he is the only one not involved in the game of thrones.

            Jon didn’t choose to be LC, the position was thrust onto him, and the same could be said for a crown. He would press his claim if he thought it was the only way to get Dany and her dragons and army to the Wall. You still fail to take into account that Dany’s claim is based on the laws of inheritance or divine right not on having the largest army which she doesn’t have.

            The Targaryens pretty much followed male primogenitor succession since Aegon III put it into law, and the only exceptions being in the case of Great Councils. She would be no better than Robert in usurping her nephew’s throne without precedent. There is also the lie she has to slay of the stone beast breathing shadow fire, and it has to be a lie of big political impact like Aegon being false and Stannis not AAR. Dragons refer to Targaryens in prophecies. Sansa’s alias is Alayne Stone, Arya hides Needle under a stone, and Rickon hides on Skagos which means “stone”in the Old Tongue. Stone refers to hiding things. Ergo, a stone dragon could mean a hidden Targaryen. The last lie is likely of Jon being Ned’s bastard. It could be provne if Jon mounts a dragon as the Starks have no Valyrian blood, and it would prove he has blood of the dragon and is Rhaegar’s son.

          • “The Targaryens pretty much followed male primogenitor succession since Aegon III put it into law, and the only exceptions being in the case of Great Councils. ”

            I don’t know what you mean by this. There is no information anywhere about Aegon III, or anyone, putting anything into law regarding succession. Male preference primogeniture is the Andal rule of succession, but the Iron Throne succession didn’t always follow it historically, with cases when succession was decided by a king or the council.

            The rest of your posts consists of theories and speculation. You seem to think that R+L=J must mean Jon becomes king, or else there’s no “purpose” to it. Why? By that logic, what’s the purpose of Dany being a Targaryen, or Stannis and Shireen being Baratheons, i they don’t rule Westeros, what’s the purpose of (f)Aegon if he doesn’t end up ruling Westeros, what’s the purpose of Edric, Gendry, Mya being Robert’s bastards if they don’t get legitimized and end up ruling, etc. You seem convinced that there can’t be any other ending to the story than Jon becoming king of Westeros, just because he was secretly fathered by a Targaryen crown prince. That’s an awful lot of assumption, and above all it assumes that the story is predictable and uses the trope of “lost prince” 100% without any subversion.

            I don’t see what Stannis’ arrival etc. have to do with this. Yes, Jon gets ‘lucky’ in desperate situations because he’s one of the main protagonists and GRRM wants him to survive – so? He’s one of the main protagonists with a big role to play in the future story, main protagonists get lucky breaks in order to survive the circumstances GRRM put them through to make their story more dramatic – Arya got many of those, Tyrion, too, does that mean they must end up on the throne, too?

          • Andrew says:

            It’s officially stated that Aegon III made male primogeniture the law hence why his brother Viserys inherited the crown after Baelor died instead of Daena. It makes sense as it was to avoid another Dance.

            Those are false analogies. The problem with those analogies is that the reader clearly already knows Dany is a Targaryen and Stannis and Shireen are Baratheons, and we clearly know who Mya and Gendry and Edric’s father is while the reader generally doesn’t know that Jon is a Targaryen. It’s called the logic of Chekov’s Gun; if it is a big secret that has been hinted at throughout the entire series, then it must play a role or there is no reason for including it in the story. Calling the story “100% hidden prince” clearly ignores that Aegon is a subversion of the hidden king/prince trope. GRRM doesn’t purely deconstruct tropes, but he uses them in a way to better critique them as one poster put it. Jon has strong King Arthur parallel: mother died birthing him, sigil is a red dragon, raised ignorant of royal heritage thinking foster father was his real father, and at the Tower of Joy, Dawn’s description matched that of Excalibur’s wielded by the man named “Arthur.”

            Also, Mormont’s raven always says “king” in Jon’s presence. The there ar elittle hints like this:

            “Ser Davos, it is good to see you, as ever,” he said.
            “And you, my lord.”
            I made note of you this morning as well. The false gods burned with a merry light, did they not?”
            “They burned brightly.” Davos did not trust this man, for all his courtesy. House Florent had declared for Renly.
            The Lady Melisandre tells us that sometimes R’hllor permits his faithful servants to glimpse the future in flames. It seemed to me as I watched the fire this morning that I was looking at a dozen beautiful dancers, maidens garbed in yellow silk spinning and swirling before a great king. I think it was a true vision, ser. A glimpse of the glory that awaits His Grace after we take King’s Landing and the throne that it is his by rights.”

            Later in ACoK

            The moon was rising behind one mountain and sun sinking behind another as Jon struck sparks from flint and dagger, until finally a wisp of smoke appeared. Qhorin came and stood over him as the first flame rose up flickering from the shavings of bark and dead dry, pine needles. “As shy as a maid on her wedding night,” the big ranger said in a soft voice, “and near as fair. Sometimes a man forgets how pretty a fire can be.”

            Jon went to cut more branches, snapping each one in two before tossing it into the fire. The tree had been dead a long time, but it seemed to live again in the fire, as fiery dancers woke within each stick of wood to whirl and spin in their glowing gowns of yellow, red and orange.
            “Enough,” Qhorin said abruptly. “Now we ride.”

            There is a connection between the two

            As for possible foreshadowing:

            http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/86094-a-king-in-hiding-adding-it-all-up-part-2/

            As to your last paragraph, another false analogy, no offense, as neither Arya nor Tyrion actually have a secret claim to the IT.

          • “As to your last paragraph, another false analogy, no offense, as neither Arya nor Tyrion actually have a secret claim to the IT.”

            I never said they do. They. just like Jon, get “plot armor” because they’re protagonists and GRRM wants them alive to play a role in the future story. You’re the one who seems to think that “has plot armor = will definitely become king” and has used it as argument. My analogy is correct; your logic is flawed.

            “It’s officially stated that Aegon III made male primogeniture the law hence why his brother Viserys inherited the crown after Baelor died instead of Daena. It makes sense as it was to avoid another Dance. ”

            Stated where? Certainly not in any of the canon texts – not in the five books, not in any of the novellas, and definitely not in TWOAIF, which clearly shows there was never any such law – and that the cases where the Andal law of succession was bypassed were decided by the council on case to case basis :

            “Though both of the sons of King Aegon III were dead, his three daughters yet survived, and there were some among the smallfolk – and even some lords – who felt that the Iron Throne should now by rights pass to Princess Daena. They were few, however; a decade of isolation in the Maidenvault had left Daena and her sisters without powerful allies, and memories of the woes that had befallen the realm when last a woman sat the Iron Throne were still fresh. Daena the Defiant was seen by many to be wild and unmanageable besides… and wanton as well, for a year earlier she had given birth to a bastard son named Daemon, whose sire she steadfastly refused to name.
            The precedents of the Great Council of 101 and the Dance of the Dragons were therefore cited, and the claims of Baelor’s sisters were set aside. Instead the crown passed to his uncle, the King’s Hand, Prince Viserys.”

            “Prince Daeron sired a daughter, Vaella, in 222 AC, but the girl sadly proved simple.”

            “In 233 AC, hundred of lords great and small assembled in King’s Landing. With both of Maekar’s elder sons deceased, there were four possible claimants. The Great Council dismissed Prince Daeron’s sweet but simple-minded daughter Vaella immediately. Only a few spoke up for Aerion Brightflame’s son Maegor; an infant king would have meant a long, contentious regency, and there were also fears that the boy may have inherited his father’s cruelty and madness. (…)”

          • Andrew says:

            “I never said they do. They. just like Jon, get “plot armor” because they’re protagonists and GRRM wants them alive to play a role in the future story. You’re the one who seems to think that “has plot armor = will definitely become king” and has used it as argument. My analogy is correct; your logic is flawed.”

            No that is a straw man given it completely ignores the rest of the argument. Your analogy is incorrect. I merely said that Jon proving his heritage would be difficult, but this series has its share of plot gifts. The argument is sound that a secret royal heritage has to have an impact on the storyline if it is to be the biggest reveal in the series. Ned found out the truth of Cersei’s children and now practically the whole realm knows.

            “Stated where? Certainly not in any of the canon texts – not in the five books, not in any of the novellas, and definitely not in TWOAIF, which clearly shows there was never any such law – and that the cases where the Andal law of succession was bypassed were decided by the council on case to case basis :”

            It was stated in an exchange with GRRM I think.

          • “Ned found out the truth of Cersei’s children and now practically the whole realm knows. ”

            And it’s practically changed nothing about the course of events in the series.

            “It was stated in an exchange with GRRM I think.”

            Yes, in a comic con in 2006, according to a fan report, providing that the report was paraphrasing GRRM accurately. And was disproven by TWOAIF, a canon text released a few months ago. Even if the report was 100% accurate, GRRM has said that nothing he says in conversation with fans is ironclad and he retains the right to change his mind; conversations with fans <<<<< text.

          • Andrew says:

            Changed nothing about the course of events? It was practically the reason for the start of the War of the Five Kings. Would Stannis be fighting to crown himself if he knew Cersei’s children were Robert’s children? Would Jon Arryn and Ned have died given their deaths are related to discovering the truth?

            The laws of primogeniture still state that by virtue of being Rhaegar’s only surviving trueborn child, Jon is the heir. Dany can’t dismiss the known Targaryen heir and then say the throne is hers through her Targaryen claim without looking illegitimate. Legitimacy matters in this environment. Maegor had the most powerful dragon in Westeros’s history, yet that didn’t even stop him from looking illegitimate when he usurped his brother’s children to take the throne.

            How does WOIAF disprove it?

          • @Andrew:
            “Changed nothing about the course of events? It was practically the reason for the start of the War of the Five Kings. Would Stannis be fighting to crown himself if he knew Cersei’s children were Robert’s children? Would Jon Arryn and Ned have died given their deaths are related to discovering the truth?”

            Stannis already knew about it much before Ned even went to KL. Renly didn’t, but didn’t care, and was going to name himself king anyway after Robert died. (he didn’t even believe it in ACOK, referring to it as good propaganda on Stannis’ side), and had been plotting to have Robert set Cersei aside and marry Margaery, without knowing about the incest – simply because he didn’t like the Lannisters and their influence. And the war had already started before Ned even found out – it practically started when Tywin attacked the Riverlands. But I was not referring to Ned finding out – that did not practically start a war, but it did have a major impact: Ned talking to Cersei is why Cersei had to promptly got Robert killed, which lead to the War of the Five Kings, and why Ned get arrested, which lead to Robb going to war, and to Ned dying, which in turn caused the war to continue.

            However, everyone in the realm learning about it via Stannis’ letter? That really didn’t change anything. Just as Catelyn figured in ACOK, the people who were against the Lannisters would believe it or choose to believe it, while the people who supported the Lannisters wouldn’t believe it, would choose to not believe it or pretend to not believe it. (Heck, Renly even didn’t believe it.) It changed nothing about the course of the war, because nothing could be proven without a doubt.

            “The laws of primogeniture still state that by virtue of being Rhaegar’s only surviving trueborn child, Jon is the heir. Dany can’t dismiss the known Targaryen heir and then say the throne is hers through her Targaryen claim without looking illegitimate. Legitimacy matters in this environment. Maegor had the most powerful dragon in Westeros’s history, yet that didn’t even stop him from looking illegitimate when he usurped his brother’s children to take the throne.”

            The laws state that a man of the Night’s Watch cannot hold lands or wear crowns, therefore Jon is not heir to anything as long as he is man of the NW – even if people knew about R+L=J, if there was proof they were legally married, and if people acknowledged that marriage, which many may not due to their stance towards polygamy. Maegor was also the last man who practiced polygamy in Westeros, and that didn’t endear him to the Faith, either.

            The known Targaryen heir IS Dany. Aegon is if people believe him. Jon is not, and he may or may not be one day.

            Besides, historical examples show that it’s not unheard of for heirs with a senior claim to be passed over for the crown.

            “How does WOIAF disprove it?”

            I already provided the relevant quotes.

            I don’t understand why you’re so adamant to prove something that’s clearly not true (that there’s supposedly a law saying women come after all men). Especially since it’s not even relevant, your boy Jon would have the senior claim to Dany anyway if he is recognized as a trueborn son of Rhaegar and if he were to be released from the NW… Which are all big “ifs”.

          • Andrew says:

            “Stannis already knew about it much before Ned even went to KL. Renly didn’t, but didn’t care, and was going to name himself king anyway after Robert died. (he didn’t even believe it in ACOK, referring to it as good propaganda on Stannis’ side), and had been plotting to have Robert set Cersei aside and marry Margaery, without knowing about the incest – simply because he didn’t like the Lannisters and their influence. And the war had already started before Ned even found out – it practically started when Tywin attacked the Riverlands. But I was not referring to Ned finding out – that did not practically start a war, but it did have a major impact: Ned talking to Cersei is why Cersei had to promptly got Robert killed, which lead to the War of the Five Kings, and why Ned get arrested, which lead to Robb going to war, and to Ned dying, which in turn caused the war to continue.

            However, everyone in the realm learning about it via Stannis’ letter? That really didn’t change anything. Just as Catelyn figured in ACOK, the people who were against the Lannisters would believe it or choose to believe it, while the people who supported the Lannisters wouldn’t believe it, would choose to not believe it or pretend to not believe it. (Heck, Renly even didn’t believe it.) It changed nothing about the course of the war, because nothing could be proven without a doubt.”

            That secret did cause the war, and I weould hardly call the not an impact. Steven seems to think Renly knew. The secret does have an impact. It does have an impact in Joffrey looking illegitimate until the Tyrells come into the fold.

            “The laws state that a man of the Night’s Watch cannot hold lands or wear crowns, therefore Jon is not heir to anything as long as he is man of the NW – even if people knew about R+L=J, if there was proof they were legally married, and if people acknowledged that marriage, which many may not due to their stance towards polygamy. Maegor was also the last man who practiced polygamy in Westeros, and that didn’t endear him to the Faith, either.

            The known Targaryen heir IS Dany. Aegon is if people believe him. Jon is not, and he may or may not be one day.

            Besides, historical examples show that it’s not unheard of for heirs with a senior claim to be passed over for the crown.”

            The same is said for men wear the maester’s chain yet that didn’t stop Aemon from being offered the crown by the Grand Council. Aenys was the result of polygamy through Aegon’s second wife. That marriage was accepted as legitimate or the legitimacy of the claim of every monarch who has the sat the IT since Aenys (except Maegor) would be called into question. That means there is precedent for Jon’s case.

            The only time they do pass over senior heirs is if they ones ahead in the line of succession are either children and/or mentally incompetent. Even then that is done only in a Great Council or by the king. Jon is a man according to Westerosi laws.

            “I already provided the relevant quotes.

            I don’t understand why you’re so adamant to prove something that’s clearly not true (that there’s supposedly a law saying women come after all men). Especially since it’s not even relevant, your boy Jon would have the senior claim to Dany anyway if he is recognized as a trueborn son of Rhaegar and if he were to be released from the NW… Which are all big “ifs”.”

            I forgot about the quotes.

            The fact remains every female claimant for the Iron Throne has been passed over in the line of succession when a Great Council was called or an issue of succession where the male claimant was chosen, and it was always the woman who was ahead in the line of succession while that is not the case for Dany. Precedent and male primogeniture puts Jon ahead of Dany.

            Jon’s secret royal heritage has to serve a purpose in the story if it is has been hinted at repeatedly and the biggest shocker in the series.

            “Your boy JOn?” Are you getting personal?

          • Ok….STOP. This discussion is getting a bit heated and off-topic.

            If you want to continue the debate, take it elsewhere.

          • Andrew says:

            Sorry, didn’t mean to get too off-topic. I just prove to be a little persistent in debates. Some would call it stubborn.

      • Where in text does she still think that her father was a good king, let alone a great one?

        Jorah has never told her the truth about Aerys, or tried to. Barristan has told her a part of it, but not all. She isn’t “changing the subject every time it comes up”, she asked Barristan specifically to talk about Aerys, he told her Aerys was mad, and she just says at the end of that conversation that she’s not keen on listening more about her father’s madness right then, which was while she was dealing with Jorah’s betrayal, news of what Cleon the Butcher was doing in Astapor, and the aftermath of having taken Meereen.

        We don’t know if he’s told her something more in the meantime. There’s one other time he talks about Aerys “on screen” and it’s again when Dany asks him to talk about Aerys – specifically, about their parents’ marriage. Barristan told her that they weren’t even friendly or fond of each other, he told her about Rhaella’s love for Bonifer Hasty and of Aerys’ desire for Joanna, and his behavior during her wedding and bedding. He didn’t tell her about Aerys’ infidelities and (understandably) he didn’t tell her she was a product of rape, but it was simply because he chose to withhold those facts.

        • Mitch says:

          Not justifying Aery’s actions at all, but just like Medieval society that Westeros is based, there was no such thing as rape within a marriage. It just wasn’t a concept that even existed.

          I imagine Ser Barristan neglected that part because in his eyes (and the eyes of most Westerosi) there was nothing illegal or wrong about it.

          • And that I think he feels personally guilty about – the whole “we swore to protect him, not to judge him” thing.

          • Space Oddity says:

            Yeah, between Jaime’s POV, and Barristan’s POV, and–in my opinion at least–the Tower of Joy Trio’s probable decision to seek and cause glorious deaths in the pursuit of the Letter of Duty, and let the Spirit go hang, I think it’s safe to say that working for Aerys really did a number on that era’s Whitecloaks…

          • Crystal says:

            The one Kingsguard (that we know of) who thought Aerys raping Rhaella was wrong, was Jaime. And even he couldn’t bring himself to actually *do* anything (and I’m not sure how much he could have done anyway).

            With Barristan, there is the additional factor that he risked his life in a desperate bid to save Aerys at the Defiance of Duskendale. Saving the *king* was the gallant and the right thing to do, but saving Aerys the crazed psychopath? It might have been better to let him die (something that was discussed in the Tywin post). I wonder how much regret Barristan had for that.

          • David Hunt says:

            Crystal, I think I remember a late ADWD chapter from Barriston’s POV where he wonders if the things would have been better if he’d failed at Duskendalel. That’s a major degree of doubt when even he considers his rescue of Aerys at Duskendale to have been his most outstanding feat, moreso even than fighting through the Golden Company to slay Maelys the Monstrous.

      • I think she’s ready for the revelation now.

    • Winnie says:

      Yeah, they did a nice job on the look of Qarth-whatever else they may have botched.

      • Space Oddity says:

        And Pyatt Pree and his cronies looked perfect, and were frequently quite well-done. I honestly felt sorry for them being surrounded by such a crap storyline.

        • They were. I liked the Prees. A nicely weird touch.

          • Space Oddity says:

            Especially early on, where we are left wondering ‘Are we just looking at a bunch of people who all look like each other, and use misdirection to make it seem like they’re a bunch of duplicates, or is Pyatt Pree working a spell here?’

          • Yeah. I loved the disappearing and reappearing Prees in the Thirteen room. That was genuinely awesome.

            And hey, I wouldn’t even have had a problem with the whole King of Qarth thing if they’d set up the dragons better.

          • Space Oddity says:

            Hell, I wouldn’t have minded the empty vault if the whole storyline had been handled better. It does roughly match the quiet hints the books drop that the Thirteen aren’t all that and a bag of chips in Qarth society–a relatively young group that uses a lot of wealth to try and get around the fact that the older, established merchant guilds they pretend to despise have a lot more say in the city…

            But very roughly, and with a very “Stupid Drama” feel to it. Season 2 can be so strangely depressing at times.

          • I liked the empty Vault, actually.

          • Space Oddity says:

            It made symbolic sense, and it was a great image.

            But storywise, it didn’t quite work.

          • Grant says:

            For theme and insight into character, the Vault works nicely. It ties back to Varys’ quick lecture on the nature of power (which, incidentally, is actually a common argument in political theory) and tells you a lot about Xaro’s character. His influence is based on what others believe about him.

            Unfortunately the conclusion of that season meant that a great character disappeared, probably permanently. True the exact circumstances mean that he could be brought back, but his power would be so ruined that there would be little justification for his presence.

            So Qarth had great parts, but a less than well crafted story to put them in.

          • Space Oddity says:

            Pretty much my thoughts, with ONE other thing–the vault would have worked if Xaro had worked–been a bit more larger than life in a story that worked better. As it was… well, he just was small enough that instead of accepting the vault, one winds up analyzing the vault–and once you do that, it’s lost.

  2. Grant says:

    Unfortunately I still believe that Martin was at least in part using the idea of the decadent Eastern city. I don’t think that was all he did (it being the last of the Qaathi cities lends itself to the lost civilization), there was more to it, but looking at the descriptions and the fact that it’s still very much a part of Essos trade and I’d say that it’s meant to be viewed as an over-perfumed place of corruption at least in addition to other things.

    And we’ve had signs of magic before the dragons reappeared, haven’t we? Most notably the wargs, illusions and prophetic dreams (though that last might be divine, it isn’t clear where magic stops and gods start in ASOIAF). Those were all in stories or from characters set well after the deaths of the Targaryen dragons (assuming none survived) but well before the birth of Dany’s three.

    • witlesschum says:

      I don’t know. My problem with the Orientalism analyiss is always that it hinges on the belief that the details Martin creates that seem weird to modern, western eyes are there to disgust us and tell us how terrible Qarth is, as opposed to just attempting to create a fantasy world where things are different. That’s just not my experience as a reader, so I have a hard time with the idea it’s an illuminating criticism. And I’m struck by the way these things change over time, if it was 1964, we’d be expected to see Xaro’s obvious gayness as unspeakable decadence, rather than just a funny counterpoint to his flowery protestations of love and lust for Dany.

      • Amestria says:

        Well, he’s not just gay…

      • That’s a good point. The thing about Xaro being gay is that it’s supposed to make you suspicious that he has an ulterior motive for wooing Dany.

        • Grant says:

          Well you generally assume that about marriages in this series. Almost every one of them that we see is very much for political reasons.

          • True, but what’s the political reason between a refugee and a merchant?

          • Grant says:

            Future opportunity from having the dragons attached to him. Even setting aside the reveal that at the marriage he would have been able to request a dragon from her, that’s an incredible gain. True, without that law the dragons might not legally be his, but it’s hard to imagine a Dany married to him seeing any reason to not help him dominate Qarth*.

            *In his calculations anyway. As he learns, she’s rather focused on her one goal.

        • Amestria says:

          *blinks* Um, no, his gayness is the most insignificant thing about him. I mean he’s also a PEDOPHILE!!

          While Ser Jorah had scarcely been able to keep his eyes from her bare breast when he’d helped her into the palanquin, Xaro hardly deigned to notice it, even in these close confines. And she had seen *the beautiful boys* who surrounded the merchant prince, flitting through his palace halls in wisps of silk. (CoK Dany III)

          “My pleasure barge awaits, even now,” Xaro Xhoan Daxos called out. “Turn away from this folly, most stubborn of queens. I have flutists who will soothe your troubled soul with sweet music, and *a small girl* whose tongue will make you sigh and melt.” (CoK Dany IV)

          And the implication is that this is all very high class in Qarth.

          Though one should note that Westeros isn’t really any better, what with their sexualization of maidens… All very gross.

          • Amestria says:

            Probably should have said “least significant thing about him” but whatever, the fact that he’s gay is not a big deal character wise (although it does allow him to deliver an absolutely killer line in Dance). I mean, the guy practically breathes ulterior motives – did anyone need to read that he wasn’t into Dany physically to figure out that he wanted her for her dragons?

  3. Winnie says:

    As you know I’m no fan of Dany’s storyline in ACOK, but I really enjoyed reading your analysis of it Steve. And Kudos on putting it up so quickly after the last chapter breakdown!

    I agree that Dany gets judged a bit unfairly at times, even by myself, but again its probably because I know *I* for one am a bit tired of “Chosen Ones” in exotic lands heading toward their destiny tropes, so that’s probably leaving me biased. Of course that might be a personal bias because the “Chosen One” trope always leaves me annoyed on behalf on all of us “Non-chosen” people who have nothing guiding us and are probably really unimportant to boot! All right enough with *my* baggage…

    And yeah, you do wonder how much the timeline for Dany’s invasion has changed from Martin’s original storyline-I do think the *show* is going to make it happen sooner than it will in the books because they aren’t bothering with Aegon and they are having her meet Tyrion in person this season-and Tyrion’s going to be making a persuasive argument for why now is the time for Dany to head west and will just skip the detour to the Dothraki sea to have her arrive in Westeros in Season 6-probably after a certain Big Reveal overturns the whole game board.

    Also since Martin himself has proclaimed a lot of deaths this season that haven’t happened in the books yet, I consider it confirmation that we’re going to see at least one of the full battles of Mereen or Winterfell and the inevitable casualties.

  4. David Hunt says:

    “What Qarth adds to the mix is the sneaking suspicion that when the illusion falls away, you’re trapped in somewhere rather nasty.”

    “Good night,” said the night man. “We are programed to receive. You check out any time you like…but you can never leave.”

  5. Corenaïr says:

    Babylon might be a good historical comparison, no ? An huge city, ancient and languorous, that was wed to dynasty after dynasty and saw them all to their doom, before opening its gate to the next conqueror…

  6. KrimzonStriker says:

    So until Dany gets her to the House of the Undying I think I’d rather talk Westeros’ justice system with you. Been thinking about how this works given the unified code of law. Then I thought back to Tyrion’s trial, both of them, and probably the only way you can get lords to comply with a unified legal code is through an accountability system. Luckily we have the maesters for all the nonsensical record keeping duties which the Master of Laws could then take charge of sorting through, much like a court of appeal which the king technically is. Because if trials/sentencing are all public then they must also be part of the public record and therefore subject to review. Thus if a sentencing is deemed unlawful or a lord is found to not be enforcing the law the royal government will then intervene, probably with some censure if the sentence is death and a repeal if not for minor cases and full investigations of abuse, corruption, etc if major. Thoughts on my theory? Also what’s the bet one of Aegon V’s reforms was to take the power of the judiciary away completly from the lords and creating centrally appointed judges?

    • Well, we know from Eddard XI that the King acts as a final court of appeals in disputes between Great Houses, and probably also in cases where you have lords from different Kingdoms.

      Maesters reporting to the Master of Laws is as good a theory as I’ve seen to date.

      That could be part of Aegon V’s reforms. But so could anything, it’s so vague!

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        They did at that. Plus Aegon I functioned as the court of appeals during his progressions. Given that he governed within each of the Kingdom’s previous laws suggests he was resolving domestic disputes in those regions as well considering he also took Maesters to consult on regarding precedent and what the laws/customs were. Plus Rhaneys also ruled on a domestic dispute concerning beatings which she consulted the Maesters over on precedent, suggesting once again records of previous rulings. So in that respect I couldn’t figure out what else the Master of Laws was supposed to be doing other then administrating the goldcloaks so reviewing case files and making sure law and order was being applied across the realm did seem as good as any, and fits with it being an administrative role.

        True true, though you figure judicial hearings would probably be the chief target of where peasents get abused the most given that this is all still subject to a lot of the discretion of the ruling lords.

        • Well, it could be the case that the Master of Laws is the Court of Appeals to the King’s Supreme Court.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            Well that’s what I meant by final appeal. Really the whole system seems predicated on delegation and then reverse accountability from the bottom up, lords are meant to enforce the King’s Justice, Master of Laws ensures the lords are actually enforcing the King’s Justice, and the King himself reserves the right to a final ruling plus the ability to draft/decree new laws. That’s the hierarchy I have in my head right now anyway.

          • That’s quite plausible. It may be that there are royal justiciars who don’t rule on cases directly but who audit local decision-making. Also, given their roles as the keepers of learning, the maesters must be on hand to provide precedent and murmur about not wanting to offend the king.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            And record the actual process/sentencing which gets kick back up to either the Citadel which can be retrieved by the government and or sent to the Master of Laws office directly. Either way it’s there to be consulted, though I imagine minor cases of poaching/thieving/ and peasant raping are just minor notations (given the sheer number of them) left up to discretion of the lords on the spot for the most part or if there are abuses by the lords themselves then to the respective Lord Paramounts, hence what happened to Jorah. It’s why I think Aegon V tried to take a more direct hand on the matter, though that’s still only my speculation right now.

          • Agreed. I’m guessing historically the Crown confined its audits to cases involving lords and knights.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            In terms of the cases they’d actually intervene in along with what precedents they set I agree. I do think they at least had the numbers/figures for the smaller incidents as well, otherwise how would they be able to measure whether crime had fallen in King’s Landing during Daemon’s tenure as head of the City Watch? That kind of survey information would also be useful in drafting new laws/decrees like when Tywin passed his version of the Pure Food Act as you called it..

  7. Sean C. says:

    The best thing about Dany’s season 2 storyline was the guy playing the Spice King. He was awesome.

    Regarding what the changes to the novels mean for Dany’s invasion of Westeros, I’ve always thought that GRRM was setting Dany’s eventual conquest up to be relatively easy. You often see fan speculation about this as a real tooth-and-nail conquest, but if that was what GRRM was going for, he wouldn’t be spending 5+ books utterly demolishing any and all opposing forces before she even gets there. By the time Dany arrives it seems like the Arryns may be the only region of the kingdom that hasn’t been engaged in extensive warfare, with the Martells looking set to join Aegon’s new invasion.

    And then there’s the simple fact that Dany has dragons, which have been built up in the series as a nearly unbeatable superweapon that, in the past, allowed Aegon, Rhaenys and Visenya to take on an entire continent at full strength and win. Dany’s dragons won’t be quite as big (though the absence of the five-year gap and GRRM’s inability to progress the timeline like he initially wanted to make it more likely he’s just having the dragons get really big anyway), but she looks set to have way more soldiers than Aegon I had.

    • He was quite sassy, but the problem was that they only gave Dany one emotion to use.

      • Space Oddity says:

        And, good as the performance was, I agree with Steven–it sort of undercut the whole ‘Dragons are amazing things that people covet’ theme, when you have the Spice King giving an epic shrug and declaring “So what?”

      • Ser Biffy Clegane says:

        Yeah, my recollection is that Dany is actually quite intelligent and mature in book Quarth – she engaged in word play with XXD, petitions the Pureborn as effectively as possible, sees through XXD, handles the Undying, and, as Steven points out, gives some serious thought to the obligations of a ruler.

        In the book, it’s a good showcase for her surprising maturity under pressure. In the show, it’s mostly her threatening to burn people.

    • Winnie says:

      I agree with you Sean. Though arguably fAegon’s forces are being set up as a threat, (or perhaps Euron’s ships) but really even there Dany has the bigger army and as you note three dragons that are getting bigger every day so the Mummer’s dragon’s fate is a foregone conclusion even if he gets Dornish support. And Euron’s ships are after all flammable.

      That leaves only one really *credible* threat to Dany at this point; namely the one from beyond the Wall. Now that could be an actual challenge even with the dragons. And another source of tension/drama will be the Big Reveal and what Dany will do about Jon-especially since he’s likely to have better luck with the dragons than Qwentyn did…which is why though I don’t fancy the match, I *do* see how a Dany/Jon marriage makes good dynastic sense and could iron out a lot of issues.

      • Crystal says:

        Plus, I think book!Dany is being set up to get Victarion’s fleet. I don’t see any other end for Vic than dragon-grilled.

        I agree that a Dany/Jon match would make good sense from a dynasty standpoint and solve a lot of succession issues. Plus, it would be OK with the existing religious structures, as it’s brother/sister or parent/child sex and marriage that fall under the “incest and abomination” prohibition. Since there have been uncle/niece marriages with both Starks and Targaryens (and it was surprisingly frequent in real life with the Habsburgs – it was a big part of why the Spanish Habsburgs went down the tubes) I don’t think an aunt/nephew marriage would do more than raise eyebrows.

        I’ve heard theories floated of a Jon/Dany/Sansa marriage as a modern analogue of Aegon/Visenya/Rhaenys (with Sansa as the Rhaenys figure, and she does seem a lot like the historical Rhaenys) – but at this point, I rather want Sansa to be an Elizabeth I figure, unmarried and powerful, perhaps as Rickon’s regent. She’s been treated as shark chum on the marriage market for too long; I couldn’t blame her if she wanted nothing to do with the whole business if she had a choice.

        • Other than the fact Sansa likes music, she has nothing in common with Rhaenys. Ditto Arya, who has nothing in common with Visenya except having a sword and liking swordfighting.

          Anyway, the idea of Jon marrying either Sansa or Arya, let alone both, is the most absurd thing that a number people in this fandom take seriously.

        • Winnie says:

          I’ve wondered about Jon/Dany/Sansa a bit too, because while Jon/Dany is the logical dynastic match, I have this weird feeling he might be more compatible with Sansa. I *know* it sounds crazy but when you hear Jon’s innermost dreams of a family life and a chance to build something they dovetail pretty strongly with Sansa’s and they are both slaves to duty. (Something they each learned from Ned.)

          And actually I do see Sansa/Rhaenys parallels. She’s stereotypically feminine and a natural diplomat/politician. Whereas Dany like Visenya is very much a warrior princess.

          • Sansa is not a slave to duty. In fact, duty has never been a motivator to her, at all. In none of her internal monologues has duty ever been mentioned as something she even thinks about. Other people think of her as dutiful – because they don’t know her. And in particular, she’s always been a romantic, dreaming of chivalry and romance, and interested in marriage only as something that’s about love, and now that she’s been disillusioned about what marriage is about, she doesn’t want to get married at all.

            Dany is the one who’s motivated by duty, just like Jon – she thinks she has a duty to her family, and to her people. “A queen does not belong to herself”. While Sansa, just like Arya, never thinks ti herself she has duty to anyone or anything. (Which is one of the main reasons why the Stark girls are my favorite female characters in the series, though I also love Dany and Brienne.)

            “And actually I do see Sansa/Rhaenys parallels. She’s stereotypically feminine and a natural diplomat/politician. Whereas Dany like Visenya is very much a warrior princess.”

            That’s a funny thing to say, since Rhaenys WAS a warrior princess, very much so. She rode her dragon, waged war and conquered just as much as Visenya and Aegon. I don’t remember her trying to conquer Dorne diplomatically, that was Daeron II the Good. Rhaenys was impulsive and playful, Sansa is quite the opposite – she has the calmest temper in the family besides Ned, and always acted according to rules of courtesy even before she learned to hide her feelings. She doesn’t even like riding horses, as opposed to Rhaenys, who obsessed with riding her dragon (much more than her siblings) and seemed to be quite adventurous. The only similarity between the two is that they both loved music, but for Sansa that has always been connected to the romance of love and chivalry, while Rhaenys seemed to be pragmatic (sponsoring singers so they could make songs about glorious deeds of the Targaryen trio) and just like it for much. Rhaenys was apparently into flirting a lot, and if you believe the rumors, easily developed romantic/sexual interests in different men – Sansa, not so much. And Rhaenys’ diplomacy seemed to mostly consist of imposing arranged marriages on people (which wasn’t even a good idea in some cases, since she didn’t understand the circumstances and relations of these Westerosi houses, like the Stark/Arryn marriage) – somehow I don’t think that would be Sansa’s MO.

            “Stereotypically feminine” is, well, just a stereotype, and the idea that Sansa and Rhaenys are similar seem to come from broad generalizations.

          • My post was supposed to read “while Rhaenys seemed to be pragmatic (sponsoring singers so they could make songs about glorious deeds of the Targaryen trio) and just like it for fun”. I hate not having the edit function.

  8. Sokket says:

    “Prophecy didn’t make Aegon V or Rhaegar or Cersei or Jojen or Cersei the self-actualized heroes of Joseph Campbell ”

    Not certain if you put Cersei in this sentence twice on purpose, but it kind of works

  9. MightyIsobel says:

    Speaking of a temptation narrative, Panem’s Capitol seems like another descendant of these lost cities of yore, no?

  10. Iñigo says:

    I always thougt that Qarth could be compared with Istambul. A city that marks the end of a sea and the start of another, that connects east and west.

  11. JT says:

    I really think the main problem with Dany’s season two storyline in the show was that Dany (and Emilia Clarke) was the breakout character of season one. This resulted in the writers giving the Dany character much more “screentime” on the show in season two than Dany had in ACOK, which meant a lot of stretching of an already thin plot.

    Had Dany been in 4-5 episodes in season 2, her storyline would have been much more compact, and I suspect the beats would have seemed more impactful.

    Also the writers seemed unsure on how far to dive into the Quaithe’s prophecy/prophecy in the House of the Undying, which is key to Dany in the books. They dipped a toe in those waters, but it was very tepid IMO and it didn’t have the same effect.

    • An excellent point I forgot to mention. Without the “every other” formula, they really stretched Dany’s scenes to the point where they had no narrative momentum in a lot of episodes.

  12. Andrew says:

    1. Qarth does have some of Constantinople: triple walls and the top trading center in the world controlling the straits between east and west.

    2. “Sweet smells are sometimes used to cover foul ones.” It almost matches Dany’s observation of Illyrio: “Dany could smell the stench of Illyrio’s pallid flesh through his heavy perfumes.” A hint that like Illyrio, Qarth is rotting from the inside.

    3. Regarding Quaithe, I wonder why shadowbinders wear masks? I know it could be a cultural thing, but still, could they be trying to hide some disfigurement caused by their magic, possibly akin to Moqorro’s? Could they be like the Undying and they are practically living corpses?

    4. Valyrians interbred with dragons? That borrows from the Melniboneans from Elric of Melnibone. How is that even possible? Did Valyrian babies hatch from eggs from these couplings or did Valyrian women do the child bearing? Could it be more like the First Men? Bloodraven and Bran are greenseers, and there are a number of wargs with first men blood, but I doubt the First Men interbred with the CotF. Could it be the Valyrians were affected by the same magic of the region as the dragons as a kind of parallel to the First Men affected by the magic of the weirwoods?

    5. “Cold-eyed Eddard Stark with his frozen heart;” Viserys no doubt had never met Ned before so he likely just resorted to stereotypes associated with Northerners and possibly, the Starks. As for Dany. she fails to note that Jorah said “The long summer will come again before that one would besmirch his precious honor.” This isn’t the first time Jorah spoke of Ned as honorable, even though he dislikes Ned. Barristan brings that up again, and she dismisses it. Viserys’s version is deeply ingrained.

    • David Hunt says:

      Regarding 4. I like your idea that the same magics that shaped the dragons altered the Valyrians. However, I’m going to go with actual “interbreeding.”…sort of. I think that the Valyrians pulled off some sort of magical gene splicing, although they’d likely have expressed it “imbuing ourselves with some of the dragons’ essence.” I’ve read somewhere that the Valyrians may have create the dragons by cross-breeding wyvern and fire wyms. Besides being reptilian, I don’t know how much these creatures have in common. So if they could make an impossible hybrid there, maybe they could put a little dragon DNA in themselves. It would help explain why there’s occasionally a Targ baby that has scales/wings/tail etc.

      BTW, I’ve personally heard of a real-life splicing of spider DNA into potatoes so that the potatoes produce spider silk in place of starch.

      • Crystal says:

        I agree that a kind of magical gene splicing is quite plausible. It would explain the occasional “monster baby” that crops up in the Targ lines. Rhaenyra had one and so did several of Maegor the Cruel’s wives, so it wasn’t just Mirri’s magic to blame for Rhaego.

        Magical gene splicing is less squicky to think about that actual interbreeding, anyway! And it solves the problem of one species laying eggs and the other producing live born offspring…

        (Are the spider silk potatoes meant to be eaten or worn?)

        • With the actual interbreeding, being squeaky is the lesser problem, the bigger one is that it’s hard to see how it could even be possible.

          • Winnie says:

            Precisely. I mean you would think that there would be some anatomical differences there that would make it fatal for the human parties, and the sheer logistics of trying it are mind boggling.

            But magical gene splicing though…that might work.

        • David Hunt says:

          Crystal,

          Its been over ten years, but the spider/potato thing is something that I heard on NPR. It was for neither eating or wearing. It was an attempt to find a way to produce spider silk on an industrial scale. Spider silk is an incredibly strong yet flexible material, but attempts to produce useful amounts of it by faring spiders was a bust, because the spiders took up too much space, owing to the fact that they’re highly territorial and cannibalistic. As spider silk is not being used in a wide variety of industrial uses now, I presume that there was some problem getting the hybrid process to work or there was some other drawback. Maybe they just couldn’t figure out how to keep cross pollination from ruining potato food crops.

          • Crystal says:

            I was wondering what was up with the silky potatoes! I thought that somebody sure wanted a high-fiber food…I can see where “farming” or ranching spiders would be difficult, as they are solitary and carnivorous. They have got to be harder to keep than silkworms. Though I’m sure it would be easier to figure out now than it was ten years ago.

            If the cross-pollination got into commercial potatoes, I can imagine people flipping their lids over spider cooties in their food! There was a lot of fuss over a tomato with a fish gene spliced in, and with something “creepy” like a spider many folks would not want to eat those potatoes.

            I’m now imagining a Dr. Frankenstein of Dragonlords and all the genetic splicing experiments that went on…

          • David Hunt says:

            Crystal, although the cross pollination problem was just a guess on my part, I suspect that it would be worse than just an emotional ick factor if it came to pass. I’m not sure that such a potato would even be safe to eat, let alone what it would taste like. That gene getting into the commercial crops could be a HUGE problem. Anyway, it was years ago and I don’t remember many details

      • Andrew says:

        Well, Valyrian magic is rooted in blood and fire so I think the Valyrians could have had some spell that involved inserting dragonblood into themselves, serving as a kind of magical gene splicing.

    • MightyIsobel says:

      “2. “Sweet smells are sometimes used to cover foul ones.” It almost matches Dany’s observation of Illyrio: “Dany could smell the stench of Illyrio’s pallid flesh through his heavy perfumes.” A hint that like Illyrio, Qarth is rotting from the inside.”

      The Masters of Slaver’s Bay also use heavy perfumes, to similar effect.

    • 1. True, but everything else is pure Star Trek planet weirdness.
      2. An excellent point, as we’ll see with the HOTU.
      3. I don’t know. From WOIAF, it seems to be about hiding their identity from both gods and men – which maybe has to do more with the power of True Names?
      4. I don’t know. Magical gene-splicing?
      5. I think Stark had a bit of a rep for being dour – so Viserys turned that into “cold, emotionless killer” as Lannisters become the “scheming” evil guys, and the “wild” evil guy in Viserys’ mind was the Usurper himself.

  13. Amestria says:

    “Qarth itself doesn’t have a lot of defenders, even among book fans who experienced the city on the page long before Season 2’s rather troubled adaptation.”

    The Qarth chapters are really unpopular? I always was left wishing for more…

  14. Amestria says:

    Oh, I really liked this one ^_^ Good job!

  15. ad says:

    And let’s be honest, a city of slave-masters who think they’re the greatest civilization that’s ever existed – there’s no way the Qartheen aren’t white.

    Indeed. It is impossible to imagine that anyone like that could ever have been any other shade.

    OK, that’s just snark. I just couldn’t stop myself.

  16. Meereenese Liberation Front says:

    What I really like is the twist with which Qarth pops back up in ADWD. Here, in ACOK, Daenerys is so awed by the wonders and largesse of the city that she is completely oblivious of those who toil away to produce these riches – the question of slavery never crosses her mind (and neither the reader’s too). It’s only in ADWD that Xaro confronts her with the truth that “the magnificence that is the queen of cities rests upon the backs of slaves”, as if to drive home Walter Benjamin’s point that “there is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism” – which very much fits the aura of nastiness that lurks beneath the bliss.

  17. Roger says:

    Qarth remembers me more a lost city of a pulp fiction than any historical referent. But reminds me Pentos in the sense that the aristocrats have a purely ceremonial power, while the merchants like Xaro are the true rules.
    Second season was when the TV series started disapointing me. And the Daenerys part was the worst. We don’t get any glimpse of Qarth culture. I expected the series Xaro to be the fifth-essential Qarthian (albine, sim, decadent, subtile, almost comicaly flatterer, can cry when he wants), but the series gave me exactly the opposite: Xaro was a foreigner, a self made man, talking directly to the point and without any sofistication. He was even a bit fat (no offense pretended). So the point of showing a highly sofisticate urban culture was lost.

  18. Lann says:

    I sometimes think that Dany in Westeros will only happen at the end of ADOS. After all the world book confirmed that the long night is a global event, so she does not really need to be in Westeros to be fight it.

    • End of ADOS is way too late for her to even fight in the second Battle for the Dawn, let alone fight Aegon.

      • WPA says:

        Unless he’s lost control of the narrative amidst its expansion and increasing complexity (which could help explain the gap between books even with the show catching up issue) and ends up needing more than seven books… Martin really needs to get her moving back West sometime before the halfway point of Winds. This is why I question the argument that entirely new campaigns in the East will feature in Winds, on a practical basis. There’s only so many Danny chapters that could be wedged into it alongside the two and a half Northern plots, the Dornish plot, and whatever the hell is going on in Kings Landing and the Vale.

  19. Abbey Battle says:

    Keep up the good work Maester Steven!

  20. jpmarchives says:

    Excellent as usual, Steven. You’ve even managed to spark my interest in a section of ACOK which I usually skip over on rereads; time to give Dany’s chapters another go.

    As the cynic’s cynic I find prophesies in almost any media a bit of a waste of time, even if they are drawing from ancient story telling tradition. I was always the naysayer in the back of English class arguing that Macduff might have been born of Cesarean but he he was still technically “of woman born” and shouldn’t have been able to kill Macbeth. At least the similarly fated Witch King was nixed by a shield maiden and a hobbit – that makes far more sense.

    The problem is that most examples of prophecy in literature ensures that characters are damned if they do and damned if they don’t; handled right this can add to a narrative about the inevitability of a character’s fate (as with most greek tragedies). But handled wrong prophesies can rob characters of motivation and development because there’s nothing they can do to affect the end result, or alternatively, everything they do contributes to the end result they were trying to avoid. If I’m resistant to Dany’s prophetess plot line it’s because we have yet to see where all this leads – that uncertainty that she might accomplish nothing and the seemingly endless speculation the fan base derives from the house of the undying section leaves me cold.

    I’m also hoping that Dany does turn out to be the villain in the end, not insomuch because I dislike her character but because creating literature’s most understandable bad guy would be a subversion of expectations unlike almost anything we’ve seen before. GRRM turning the “outcast hero returns to save the world” narrative on it’s head would gain far more traction with me than simply playing it straight, as the show seems to be marching relentlessly towards.

    • So many people in fandom want Dany to be a villain and claim she will be a villain, mad evil queen etc. (and most of them do want it because they dislike her, or because they see her as a threat to Jon’s destiny as the Hero of the story, potential king, and/or Azor Ahai/Prince that was Promised etc. – or because they think of her as Stannis’ rival), that I wouldn’t see that as such a big subversion.

      If one of the central protagonists who seem to follow heroic tropes should become a villain, why not Jon Snow instead? Now, that would be a much bigger subversion of expectations. He’s the closest the series has to a traditional hero; nobody expects him to be a villain (those fans who hate him hate him because they see him as a Gary Stu, not because they want to see him as a mad, evil guy), the majority of fans see him as the hero of the story and believe he’s Azor Ahai/PtwP, future dragonrider, many expect him to be the king of Westeros and/or King in the North, and there is even a sizable portion of the fandom that thinks the series is all about him and that he’s/will be all those things at the same time, plus perhaps also the Last Hero, and there’s one particularly perplexing theory that he’s all three heads of the dragon (I don’t even understand how that works).

      I don’t actually think either of them will be villains. But if any arc really needs subversion of expectations, it’s Jon’s. And I really hope he gets darker post-resurrection – this is something that really make a difference in the character development.

      • Crystal says:

        I agree about Jon’s arc. I think his needs more subversion than Dany’s.

        While no fan of the Meereen arc (so tedious!), I still love Dany. In part, this is because I see so much anti-Dany feeling springing from misogyny. I’ve read some posts (not on here!) from Stannis fanboys (Stan stans?) saying that Dany proves that women are “too emotional” to rule. Eff that retrograde BS.

        • David Hunt says:

          “Yes, because everyone extrapolates to conclusions about the general from a single example, or at least I do.” Absolutely Eff that. It reminds me of this comment on that whole line of BS that xkcd made.

          http://xkcd.com/385/

      • Winnie says:

        I’ve never loved Dany as a character either, (and she’s definitely NOT my choice to rule Westeros-at least not alone,) but I never understand the level of vitriol aimed at her either, and have to include at least some of it’s based in sexism.

      • Amestria says:

        Well, to be fair, some people might just be nervous about a 15-16 year old girl controlling a weapon of mass destruction. Like, you might know the sweetest, kindest, most well balanced teenager in the world, one with a loving and well balanced family – would you give him/her a nuclear weapon? Now instead of a well balanced kid you have a really good kid, but one whose been orphaned since a young age, abused, conned, with possibly some anger issues to work out, and who is from a family with a history of mental problems and extreme behavior.

    • Glad you liked it.

      However, I question the “subversion of expectations.” There is a difference between additive and subtractive reveals – i.e, does a given “twist!” add to what we know about a character or take away from what we’ve already seen of them?

      And like GRRM, I consider the latter to be essentially lying to your audience for the sake of a “twist!”

  21. Amestria says:

    “At the same time, there is a faint suggestion that these two offers are actually just opposite sides of the same coin – note that XXD’s palace offers a “scrying tower and warlock’s maze.””

    Well, since no one take’s the Warlock’s magic seriously anymore it makes sense they’d supplement their meager incomes by assisting in landscaping, architecture, and interior decorating. Occult buildings and rooms that don’t really do anything are, like, totally chic. Every time Pyat Pree looks upon the skeptical Xaro’s scrying tower and maze he must feel a little more dead inside – true art appropriated by mindless upper class consumption. There was a time when that was REAL!

    • Space Oddity says:

      Yeah, I get the impression “warlock’s mazes” are some sort of hedge maze/labyrinth equivalent, with a few perspective tricks mixed in. And scrying towers are probably… hmmm–something with mirrors. Nothing really magical…

      • Crystal says:

        I recall that telescopes are called “Myrish glasses” or something close to that. Since they seem like luxury items (like glasses, with Rodrik Harlaw hoping to find a “Myrish lens” to help him read) I wouldn’t be surprised if the Qartheen promised Dany the very latest in Myrish technology, cloaked in “magic” language to sound more arcane and mysterious.

  22. Ivan T.W. says:

    I’ll admit that I don’t give Dany or Jon a fair shake, and that it’s entirely because of my fatigue with the ‘chosen one’ narrative. Considering how much Martin inverts cliches everywhere else, it just seems lazy to me, though I’ll admit I think he went a long way toward rehabilitating both characters in my eyes in A Dance with Dragons.

  23. […] I mentioned last time, a running theme in Dany’s storyline in ASOIAF is the idea of cultural literacy as power. In […]

  24. […] before, I think Dany V is a bit of a weird place for her prophet’s narrative to end. Having survived the ordeal of the desert, passed the test of worldly temptation, and undergone a dream quest in the House of the Undying, […]

  25. I never liked Pyat Pree before. But after reading “The Forsaken” chapter of tWoW, I really pity him now.

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