RFTIT Tumblr Weeklyish Roundup

Hey folks! With the behemoth of Tyrion III out of the way, work has begun on the High Spider Part III and Politics of Dorne Part III. When the latter is done, that’ll mark the end of that particular Kickstarter essay series (definitely the longest non-chapter essay series I’ve done so far), which means there will be some space in my rotation. So after the Politics of the Seven Kingdoms series is finished, I’ll be doing a one-off on elections in Westeros and then my next series will be analyzing the Dunk & Egg series through the lens of the Blackfyre Rebellions.

But in the mean-time, there’s some good stuff in the Tumblrs:

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8 thoughts on “RFTIT Tumblr Weeklyish Roundup

  1. Abbey Battle says:

    DID SOMEBODY MENTION DUNK & EGG?!?

    Ahem, I must apologise Maester Steven but it’s been too long since we last saw a new novella added to the KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS sequence and I might be tweaking just a little … in any case a series of articles from you analysing my very favourite tales from the Sunset Kingdoms is a very welcome substitute and I look forward to seeing the next scroll from your chronicles of the very trickiest High Septon in History (not to mention more than a little interested in seeing your last entry on Dorne).

    One hopes that you will Keep Well, that your Studies shall prosper and that your Students shall not let you down.

  2. Abbey Battle says:

    p.s. I also wanted to ask if you have seen THE DEATH OF STALIN yet – one was Very Glad to see that you too had enjoyed RAGNAROK (MCU Thor happens to be one of my very favourite parts of this particular Myth-cycle), so it struck me that a Tar Black Comedy about the scramble for power following the Red Tsar’s death graced with a sharp script & rich with fine performances would be right up your street.

    Though on reflection such a movie cannot take you very far out of your comfort zone, given it essentially focusses on yet ANOTHER bout of in-fighting and back-biting amongst what amounts almost to an Imperial Court!

  3. Murc says:

    Oh man, the Dunk and Egg stuff.

    I mean, that’s such a rich seam of political materiel, isn’t it? The stuff in The Sworn Sword alone, I feel like you could write a lot of words about how Ser Eustace Osgrey is an example of a how a formerly rich, powerful house, through circumstances and bad decision-making, can be reduced into a state of genteel poverty. And that’s all interwoven with the gender politics surrounding Lady Webber, the… uncertain… nature of justice in a feudal system (Ser Osgrey feels he cannot rely upon his liege lord because of his familial connection), the feudal levy… all that and more.

    And that’s just The Sword Sword.

  4. Keith B says:

    Varys almost certainly did not know about the Purple Wedding before it happened; afterwards, although he was aware that Dontos had helped Sansa escape (anyone could have come to that conclusion, since they disappeared at the same time), he didn’t know who was behind it.

    That he has an extensive intelligence network is no guarantee of anything. Unlike Bran, or Bloodraven, he has no magical powers. He only knows what his spies can tell him. Littlefinger and Olenna knew they were being watched and they knew how to evade detection. That’s why Littlefinger always had Dontos meet Sansa in the Godswood and why Olenna had Butterbumps drown out their conversation. It’s also why I’m convinced that neither Garlan nor Alerie knew anything about it. It was absolutely essential to keep the conspiracy as small as possible, because (as we learn in a different context) “someone always talks.” Dontos himself was most likely obeying his instructions without any understanding of what was going to happen.

    As for motives, he has no desire to allow Littlefinger’s plans to succeed. Quite the contrary. Littlefinger is clearly a rival who has disrupted Varys’ plans before. For some unexplained reason he didn’t stop Littlefinger earlier, although he complained to Illyrio afterwards. But he must know by now that Littlefinger is a danger to him, and his own plots would be much more likely to succeed with Littlefinger out of the way. Neither having Sansa under Littlefinger’s control nor killing Joffrey is to Varys’ advantage. Sansa is by now an extremely important person. She’s the apparent heir to both the North and Riverrun, and the Lord or the Vale is her cousin. Combined with Littlefinger’s status as Lord Protector of the Vale and Lord Paramount of the Trident, he can control three of the seven kingdoms through her. That’s half the military strength of Westeros. What’s more, those three kingdoms would be extremely unwilling to accept any Targaryen restoration. Putting that much power in Littlefinger’s hands is fatal to making Aegon King of Westeros. He may be able to take King’s Landing, but he’d be king of a fragment, with not enough support to extend his rule to the rest of the kingdom. As for Joffrey, killing him does not destabilize the kingdom, since Joffrey himself was the biggest destabilizing force. As soon as enough people found out what kind of king Joffrey was, they would start looking elsewhere, and Aegon would be the most likely viable candidate. Tommen, on the other hand, was just a figurehead, and Tywin would have a free hand to do what he wanted.

    Thus Varys did not know of the plot to smuggle Sansa to Highgarden, did not know about Littlefinger’s plans to “rescue” her, and did not know about the plot to assassinate Joffrey. Nor did he know afterwards who was responsible.

    There’s a strong tendency to vastly overestimate Varys’ abilities and disparage Littlefinger. But the latter’s plots have mostly succeeded, while Varys (along with Illyrio) have made one mistake after another. And their most characteristic mistake, which Littlefinger has avoided so far, is to assume that everyone will do what they expect. Both Illyrio/Varys and Littlefinger have the serious weakness that nobody has any inherent reason to remain loyal to them. But Littlefinger works around that problem by keeping his conspiracies small and his associates’ incentives clear. Whereas Viserys, Daenerys, Jorah, Khal Drogo, Tyrion, Barristan, Jon Connington and Aegon have all disrupted Illyrio and Varys’ plans by going off and doing what they wanted.

  5. Jim B says:

    Re Tywin’s failure to arrange a marriage for Tyrion prior to Sansa, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tywin also wanted to deny Tyrion the chance at (legitimate) children who might stand to inherit through him.

    As long as he hasn’t had legitimate children, Tyrion doesn’t even have to be disinherited; he can just meet with a convenient death in battle or otherwise, and there’s nobody to contest the eventual succession of Kevan, or a retired-from-the-Kingsguard Jaime, or Tommen or whoever Tywin has in mind for Casterly Rock.

    Of course, as I’ve noted before, it’s not clear how far ahead Tywin has planned for Casterly Rock, so he may not have thought this through explicitly.

    • scarlett45 says:

      I agree with you on that. Also, marriage is a status symbol for Noble men (its not the same for women but it is a symbol) and by denying Tyrion a spouse he’s depriving him of adult status. Also there’s ableism in play- what if Tyrion had children with dwarfism…MORE “imperfect” kids named Lannister? Tywin wouldn’t stand for it.

  6. Brett says:

    Do you think it’s odd that none of the Targaryen kings ever tried to carry out conquests in Essos, aside from the Stepstones? Those are some rich cities to target, and while they’re big cities they’re still dwarfed by the size of Westeros.

    Give that whatever happened in Asshai was not so plot-critical that it couldn’t be circumvented, I’m going to guess it was more prophecy stuff. Maybe that’s why Quaithe just shows up out of nowhere to give Daenerys that prophecy in A Dance with Dragons. It’s a pity, because it would have been cool to compare Daenerys’ view of Asshai with Yandel’s.

    Side-note, but I think the Citadel’s level of knowledge of the far east is unrealistically low. They’d probably have connections with prominent traders and trading groups in Oldtown (especially if the Citadel does any work on trying to improve navigation and nautical science), and we repeatedly here of traders making the trip to the Jade Sea and Asshai.

    • Murc says:

      Do you think it’s odd that none of the Targaryen kings ever tried to carry out conquests in Essos, aside from the Stepstones?

      The Realm was never stable or unified enough for this to be a consideration at the same time a Targaryen monarch interested in conquest was on the throne.

      Aegon, Aenys, and Maegor were either concerned with Dorne or not conquest-minded, and the realm was burning down around the ears of both Aenys and Maegor. Jaehaerys was a conciliator and not conquest-minded. Viserys… okay, under Viserys the realm had been at peace for many decades and the Targaryens were rich and powerful and had lots of dragons, but he wasn’t conquest-minded and if he had been his focus would have been Dorne, not Essos.

      Then the Dance. Internal instability.

      Then a run of either incompetents or people with very short reigns (Viserys II, Baelor, Aegon III) or people whose conquest impulses were oriented towards Dorne (Daeron, Aegon the Unworthy.) And the realm wasn’t all that stable or unified during Aegon IV’s reign.

      Post-Aegon IV, Dorne enters the realm, which gives the potential for a now-unified Seven Kingdoms to look further afield… but now you’ve got Blackfyre Rebellions and more internal instability dominating a lot of the time and energy of every subsequent king (some of whom weren’t that great) right up to Aerys II. And Aerys was, again, not that great a king.

      Westeros has never had the combination of unity and imperial-minded monarchs needed for expansion across the narrow sea at the same time. It’s sometimes had one, or the other, but never both.

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