July 08, 2011

Davos II

Davos Seaworth (Artwork by Amoka)
Davos has arrived at White Harbor, leaving the ship posing as an ordinary sailor. He looks around the outlining of the city. The fortifications have been improved, smoke is rising from the Seal Rock, implying hard work to be done there, the walls are manned and the Wolf’s Den is garrisoned as well. The direwolf doesn’t fly above the walls anymore, but neither does the lion. In the harbor, Davos spots the warship “Lionstar”, with which the Freys went to White Harbor, and his hopes die a bit since he hoped that the ship sunk. People are talking about the situation and that Manderly would never throw his lot in with Bolton, but Davos knows the talk for the talk it is. 

He walks onto the first yard, where market is held around the statue of some past lord, only called Old Fishfoot. There he buys a bad apple from a merchant and talks to him, eating the apple, questioning him about the latest tidings. Many fugitives are in the city, seeking refuge from Ramsay Bolton and his army, and Manderly trains troops with every able man he can found, obviously preparing for something. It is not clear, however, whom he means to join. 

Davos then walks into a shady tavern, famous for its bad wine and bad meat pies, but for the talk and information also. He sits down with a cup of wine in a dark alcove and waits, looking into the flames and brooding over Melisandre and Edric Storm’s fate. When the tavern is filling with sailors, he is able to listen to their talk. First, he just gets old news, things he already knows, but then new information comes in as well. What he hears isn’t good. The Ironmen were defeated by a small raiding force at the Fever River, losing several ships to the torch. One son of Manderly is held prisoner by the Iron Throne. Ramsay Bolton is making for Moat Cailin, to take the fortress and allow his father to pass through. With him are men of Hornwood and Cerwyn at least, which means that they have joined the Boltons. What troubles Davos also is that there is no talk at all about the Wall. Either no one knows that Stannis is up there and that wights and giants and whatnot is attacking, or nobody doesn’t care. 

Talk then shifts to remaining Targaryens. The sailors talk about Aegon Targaryen, but can’t find a consensus whether he survived the sack of King’s Landing or not. They all agree on Viserys Targaryen being dead, however. One sailor then talks of the captain of a ship named Sloe-Eyed Maid he encountered previously, who told him that as far as Qarth he met Daenerys Targaryen, who sought passage for her and her dragons, but that he declined for fear that the sails would burn. Instead, he took his hold full of spice to Westeros to make a good profite. 

Davos stops to listen and leaves. He remembers Axell Florent on the Wall, telling his fellow knights a story of an unnamed Targaryen princeling who kept an ape and dressed him in a boy’s cloths, trying to wed him to other lord’s daughters, finally ending the story with the wisdom that an ape remains an ape, even clad in silks, a remark clearly aimed at Davos. Davos realizes that he is too late, that the North has already made up its mind, and Manderly’s hesitation founds on the fate of his son. Remembering Axell’s quip, however, he decides that he owes it to Stannis and his rank as hand of the king to go try at least, walks to the New Castle and demands to speak with lord Manderly. 

This chapter provides us with beautiful information of White Harbor. The city is described in great detail, from the fortifications and the three castle-like structures to the normal buildings (most of white stone). Davos also compares city’s smells, White Harbor having the sharp, clear and fishy smell of the sea, while King’s Landing reeks like an old whore. The Fishfoot Market is also described nicely. The chapter shows us how the old Davos the smuggler worked: he listens to people talking, trying to separate story from truth by experience and sense. It’s fascinating to read how he does it, without drawing the least suspicion from anyone. 

We also get other glimpses at Davos’ humble character. He does not really bear Axell any ill will for the insult with the ape, since he knows that his station is low and that he has risen under extraordinary circumstances only. When he hears the stories from Targaryen, he wishes someday, when Stannis has won and has no further need of him, to sail east with his sons to the Free Cities and to watch all the wonders by himself – a modest wish, where many people would aspire for lands and power instead.

As a side note, the story of the Sloe-Eyed Maid has a bitter ending, of course, of which we already learned in Davos’ last chapter: the people on Sisterton lured her on the cliffs with false lights and plundered her. Another thing are the descriptions of the fortifications: when Manderly visited Winterfell for the first time to join Robb’s host, he detailed the cost of his improvements, talk that was dismissed by Robb and his advisors. The chapter shows, however, that Manderly didn’t boast. The fortifications are formidable, and Manderly is prepared. The appearance he makes, with all the fat and the jolly character, hides a rational man with a clear vision of what to do and an efficient pragmatism. That, of course, is no good news either for someone who tries to talk Manderly into a stupid war.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Davos! When he remembered that remark by Axell Florent, I was ready to strangle that oafish bastard (Florent, I mean). On the wall they continue to be idiots, but I'm hoping their folly will bite them in the ass.

    I was also really impressed with Davos's way of gathering info and feeling out the general mood of the city. And even though it was bad, he goes to try. Not for pride, but for duty. I've said it before, but Davos is a better man than most of these high born lords!