July 05, 2011

Daenerys II

Daenerys Targaryen (Artwork by Amok)
Daenerys wakes up from a night full of bad dreams. She can hear voices, and a child crying. Soon she has to learn that this night nine Unsullied and freedmen had been killed by the Sons of the Harpy, an unprecedented number. Among the dead Unsullied was the brother of her scribe Missandei, who is the child wailing outside. As always, there are neither witnesses nor hints that could tell who did the deed, and the only lead is the wineseller and his son in whose tavern two of the Unsullied were poisoned. Dany first wants to interrogate him “sweetly”, but after seeing Missandei and hearing the full tale, she decides to question them “sharply”. 

After his incident, she goes back to bed, taking Missandei with her and soothing the girl, who tells her a bit of her home Naath and her brother before falling asleep. Dany is restless, however, and walks through her room. Suddenly, Quaithe is standing in one counter, confessing not being really there. She says she came to warn Dany and to show her the path, before she brings forth some cryptic prophecies yet again. The glass candles are burning. She foretells the arrival of the pale mare, followed by the kraken and the dark flame, the lion and the griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. She then warns Dany to be aware of the fate of the Undying and to who she is, and to beware the perfumed seneschal. After that, she vanishes, not answering Dany’s questions. 

The next morning she meets with Reznak and her other advisors before court. She commands her Unsullied to be taken from the city watch since they clearly can’t fulfill the job and are just dying, instead commanding Reznak to build up a Meereenese city watch consisting half of freedmen and half of natives, being paid for by the rich families. Informed that many of them are trying to leave the city for their rural estates, she demands young hostages from every family as cupbearers and pages and decrees that no family might take their gold with them out of the city. The matter at hand then changes to the guilds of Meereen which have new competition from the freedmen and demand that they are shut out from the trade. Dany decrees that the freedmen may not claim the guild’s titles but that they have to be granted to them when they fulfill the needed prerequisites. 

At court, Hizdhar zo Loraq makes his seventh attempt to sway Dany into reopening the pits. He has shorn his hair and only wears a simple tunic instead of the tokar and claims to honor Daenerys’ gods by coming the seventh time and bringing seven former fighting slaves who plead her to reopen the pits. Every man in the room except Barristan is for the opening, even Strong Belwas. Daenerys denies again, however, although with much concerns. She then dismisses the court and retreats to her chambers, asking Ser Barristan to tell her some story with a happy end, then specifying that she wants the story of his escape from the Red Keep. Barristan tells her how he took a horse from the stables when Janos Slynt approached him, and then escaped to the gates, where he was stopped. Unarmed, he ripped a lance from one guardsman in full ride and drove it through the throat of his closest pursuer, deterring the rest. Outside the city he sold the horse, clad himself in some rags and returned to the city, sleeping in alleys and witnessing Eddard Stark’s execution. He then bought a passage to Pentos. 

The mentioning of Eddard Stark enrages Daenerys, who calls him the Usurper’s dog, when Barristan tells her that he actually pleaded for her life and that he bore her no ill will. Daenerys is still furious and is having none of it, declaring that Stark and Lannister are just the same and that she’ll have all their heads for the murder of innocent children, referring to Aegon and Rhaenys. Then suddenly, she remembers the girl Hazzea that Drogon killed and declares her intent to go to the pit in the base of the pyramid. Said pit is enormously large, and Rhaegal and Viserion are chained up in it. Looking down on them, Daenerys remembers how they caught them after Drogon’s kill. They fed them as to get them dozy and chained them, still losing several men to dragonfire. Drogon couldn’t be caught and chained at all and flew away, never to return. With Dany harboring self-doubts, the chapter ends. 

In this chapter, Daenerys is plunging deeper and deeper into the swirling abyss that is the politics of Meereen. She can’t control the dragons, losing her most valuable asset, not to mention the consequences for the people dead or wounded and becoming victims of the rampant Drogon. The peace cannot be upheld, so he has to withdraw her Unsullied, constituting yet another defeat. Her domestic politics are muddled in trivia. The situation is spinning out of control, and with war upon Meereen, the situation is also dire. 

Dany shows some serious weaknesses in this chapter. She obviously is not fully fit to rule. She despites the Meereenese the longer she rules them which is a bad situation to start with, and she is prone to let her emotions cloud her judgment. When she first hears of killings, she wants the wineseller (who is likely innocent) questioned sweetly, which is the right decision, but when she hears that Missandei’s brother was killed she decides to torture him, just because he’s at her hands at the moment. This is in no way befitting a queen. She also seriously considers imprisoning and torturing Reznak on her own narrow understanding of the prophecy of Quaithe, and rushes down to the pit remembering Hazzea without really knowing what to do, but capable of everything. She is also still horny, desiring Daario as never before and showing it to everyone else. Clearly, Dany is deeply disturbed.

Knowing the future chapters, the prophecy of Quaithe can be dismantled more easily than the one she made in Quarth. The glass candles herald the return of magic, as we know from Sam’s last chapter in “A Feast for Crows”. The pale mare is a plague that will soon hit the siege camp of the Yunkai’i and finally spread over to Meereen as well. The kraken is Victarion, the dark flame is the Negro red priest he fishes out of the sea and makes his personal advisor and healer. The lion is Tyrion Lannister, the griffin Jon Connington. The sun’s son is Quentyn Martell, and Aegon is the mummer’s dragon. All these persons are currently on their way to Dany. Quaithe then urges Dany to remember the Undying and to beware of the perfumed seneschal. Since nearly half of the mentioned persons doesn’t arrive at Dany as it was originally intended, the hint of Quaithe’s about the Undying seems to imply that she should leave Meereen instead of engaging further in the fruitless effort. Why the perfumed seneschal poses such a threat doesn’t become clear of “A Dance with Dragons”. It may be because he is an advocate of the marriage with Hizdahr, who attempts to poison it, but it is more likely that she hints at Varys, who doesn’t support her as much as he supports Aegon. An additonal thought is that the ship Tyrion was voyaging on had a name that could be translated as "Perfumed Seneschal", although this can't be cleared either in ADWD. 

We get some interesting side notes in the chapter about Barristan Selmy. He uses the exact same pejorative phrase as when opposing Joffrey, “a tower to die in”, rather preferring to serve a true king and seeking out Viserys. It’s also very funny to read how he slew the two guards escaping without even a weapon, which he dismisses with “a knight is worth ten times more than a guardsman”, showing no modesty when his deeds are concerned. It is also nice that he watched Eddard’s execution and that he defends him before the raging Dany, although he doesn’t really like him (we later learn that he loved Ashara Dayne and suspects Eddard of fathering a child upon her that she later miscarried and being responsible for her suicide).


  1. Interesting titbits in this chapter. the bit about Ashara confirms the Ned+Ashara=jon theory as far as I'm concerned. I doesn't make sense for her to wait so long to commit suicide otherwise. It can be only reason why Edric Dayne knows about Jon. And now that we have hints Jon is being set up as Azor Azai, dawn is most likely to be lightbringer.

    Apart from that i think the perfumed seneschel she needs to be wary of is Varys. clearly he is pro-Aegon (or whoever he is)and NOT on thee side of Dany.

  2. Also anyone else think that the red mage that victorian fished out is actually Marwyn...I know he is a maestar but he was adept at other arts as well. Bloodmagic, glass candles to communicate over long distances etc. Also clearly the guy isn't going to show up as himself.

  3. Marwyn wasn't a summer islander, was he? Varys as the perfumed seneschal makes a lot of sense, I'm adding it to the article, thanks! - I don't see Dawn being Lightbringer, however.

  4. Cool...keep up the good work Stefan. it'll probably be days before I get my hands on my copy of dance. Depending on detailed summaries like these to pass my time!

  5. In AGOT, Illyrio says to Varys: “Nonetheless, we must have time. The princess is with child. The khal will not bestir himself until his son is born. You know how they are, these savages.”

    What game are they playing? At this point, they're pretty clearly banking on Dany invading Westeros with a khalasar. The war is about to start and they're not ready. They must've wanted *both* her and Aegon involved. Varys evidently wants to restore the Targaryens, not merely install his puppet on the Iron Throne.

    Now, in ADWD, apparently Varys thinks Aegon can do it alone. But does that make him an enemy or a threat to Dany? I don't think so, not at all. She may not rule, but if Aegon is the real deal, she has no right to rule.

  6. I don't think Barristen's suspicions are enough to confirm the bit about Jon yet, especially if he somehow thinks she miscarried. Part of me thinks that IF Edd fathered a child with Ashara, the timing would have to be somewhere in the beginning of the Rebellion at least, which seems rather unlikely given his known travel destinations at the time. More likely Barristen is just playing off the rumors between Ashara and Ned, but that's just me thinking this is a red herring Martin wants to keep throwing in about Jon's origins.

  7. Stefan: Mmm, no, but Marwyn sails to Meereen in a ship of the Summer Islands. And if he knows the arts of a Faceless Man...

  8. @TE: Varys banked on the both meeting and marrying soon. That went out of the window.
    @Krimzon: I agree.
    @JMC: Possible.

  9. @Krimzon: More likely Barristen is just playing off the rumors between Ashara and Ned, but that's just me thinking this is a red herring Martin wants to keep throwing in about Jon's origins.

    Well, it rules out Ned as his father and Ashara as his mother. The timing is all wrong. If Ned went to Starfall after the Tower of Joy and Lyanna's death, why would Ashara commit suicide? It doesn't make sense. Jon was already born at that point; according to Edric Dayne, Willa the wetnurse was at Starfall and went north to Winterfell with Ned to care for Jon. So Ashara can't be Jon's mother if what Barristan says is true.

    Lyanna is Jon's mother. This just erases any doubt on that score.

  10. Err, slight correction, Wylla stayed in Starfall for many years after Jon was born, that's how she ended up wet-nursing for Edric. She didn't go North with Eddard.

  11. What I found most interesting was that in the version that GRRM read at a signing ages ago (according to the westeros forums), it was "Crow and kraken", which I took to be Euron and Victarion. Apparently, Euron got replaced by the red priest? Or the red priest was supposed to be a crow?

    Which does leave me wondering throughout the book what Euron is up to (I had expected Quentyn to die before even reading the book, but thought that Euron would follow Victarion and steal Dany away as a salt wife - her corpse mount to dread.)

    Also, I have a bit of a theory that *Brandon* Stark was the one who fathered the miscarriage on Ashara Dayne. Barristan doesn't say that Eddard did it, just "Stark".

    It's a bit of a crackpot theory, perhaps. My reasoning was that, firstly, Barristan has too good of an impression of Ned if he had done that. And secondly, we are told that Brandon was the type of person who took what he wanted as his due (by Lady Dustin... though she was biased.)

  12. I also had a thought pop up in my head while reading this. It really looks like Quaithe is using a glass candle to speak to Dany from afar. But if that's true, then why doesn't anyone else do so as well? Dany has plenty of seekers, some of whom are known to possess such arts. In particular, Marwyn still hasn't shown up, and we know he has glass candles burning (there's a crackpot theory he's disguised as Morroqo; I just don't see the point for doing so. It would be a hard illusion - as we know from Melisandre - to change his entire skin color.) Or why haven't the red priests contacted her at all? What's special about Quaithe?

  13. Hm, I wouldn't dwell in speculation from earlier drafts. We have to work with the text at hand.

    On Brandon: Doesn't make sense, Eddard was introduced as loving Ashara Dayne back then in ASOS and was urged to dance with her on behalf of Brandon.

    Regarding Marwyn, yeah, that's strange, but I also seem no sense in the crackpot theory.

  14. Isn't the perfumed senschal the ship Tyrion was on? It has a name in some other language, and someone translates it as "fragrant steward." There's no way that's a coincidence. No way.

  15. Hey, nice, hadn't thought of that yet. Putting it in.

  16. I had thought of that at first - that it might bring the greyscale plague to Meereen, or something of that sort. But I don't think it turned out to be something wary of, in the end.

  17. Sudden thought:

    What if the 'mummer's dragon' part actually refers to *Quentyn* as well? Specifically, at the end (SPOILERS), he tried to tame the dragons, saying that he had Targaryen blood, and got roasted as a result.

    Because otherwise, it's hard to find any association of Quentyn and Aegon. The other two make sense in their association, but when does Quentyn even come close to a mummer's dragon? In the end, he did turn out to be a bit of a fake dragon after all - trying to claim his right by blood, rather than ability. This would also give the possibility that Aegon is a real dragon after all, if it doesn't refer to him (though not quite sure how Dany slew the lie of Quentyn's dragon, based on the House of Undying prophecy, though you could associate the other dragons with her.)

    The obvious flaw in this is that it seems weird to have the two objects refer to the same person.

  18. Too far fetched for my book, sorry. I still think it's Aegon, leaving too possibilities: either he simply is the dragon of the mummer, or he's false. :)

  19. I do agree that this chapter shows Dany being a serious twit. Her emotions do indeed tend to cloud her judgement, and her personal prejudices about those who overthrew her father come across as willful and stubborn, and I almost had a picture of her with her fingers in her ears going "LA LA LA LA" when Barristan tries to expand her understanding.

    And yet, her own "dogs" are out of control as a direct result of her bad decision to settle in and try to be a queen of a city she never wanted.


  20. "On Brandon: Doesn't make sense, Eddard was introduced as loving Ashara Dayne back then in ASOS and was urged to dance with her on behalf of Brandon."

    I must disagree and say that the story has Brandon asking Ashara to dance with the Quiet Wolf, which is Ned. It might mean he liked her, but her own feelings are never displayed. She danced with Ned, and he returned her brother's sword to her, and miscarried a child. That's all we really know about the two of them.

  21. Quentyn is the sun's son. Look at Dorne's arms! Sun pierced by a spear!

  22. @Raquel: Not true, in one of his chapters Barristan goes over lengths about the relationship of Eddard and Ashara, stating that at least Eddard loved her fiercely.

  23. My point was that HER feelings were not stated.

  24. I think both Reznak (or whoever it was) and Tyrion's ship are BOTH red herrings for the perfumed seneschal...mainly because Dany doesn't have anything to fear from either. Quaithe already told her of the lion coming, so why would she also warn her of the lion's boat?

    It's got to be Varys...he's been embroiled in Dany's story from the very beginning, but she's never had a hint of his existence as far as I can tell. Illyrio worked closely with him but never mentioned him to her...and Varys is very capable of taking drastic actions when he feels it's necessary. He's got to be the one she needs to beware.