|Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in HBO's Game of Thrones|
The Shy Maid is making its way through deep and thick fogs, down the river Rhoyne. While Duck, Yandry and Young Griff pole the boat away from obstacles, Tyrion watches the fire and Yssila steers. They talk about the mists, said to be a product of Garin’s curse. Garin was once captured in treason and hanged in a cage, and he cursed his captors, and the whole city drowned with him when the gods heeded his prayer. It is said that Garin is the fables Shrouded Lord, the commander of the stone men that live in the ruins of the drowned city that later in the chapter is named Chroyane.
The talk shifts to the stone men. They are all plagues by grayscale, a common disease in the area, and exiled here. Many of them are already blinded by it, and those who have it the longest have gone mad and are dangerous, while the rest normally stays away. The disease can sometimes turn into the much more deadly grey plague. Children, however, can survive the plague. When they talk about the danger of being attacked by the stone men, Young Griff declares that he could defeat them all, but septa Lemore scolds him for the vanity he displays. They encounter a ship in the fogs, exchanging news as they sail by, and learn that Volantis prepares for war, which clearly displeases Griff, who mentions that Illyrio bribed the triarch Nyerssos, an elephant, sufficiently, who now works together with triarch Maloqo, a tiger.
They then sail into Chroyane, the sunken city. Ruins appear through the mist, and they pass under a bridge where some lanterns give light and stone men patrolling on it. They are not attacked, however. Tyrion quips to Young Griff, who was ordered below decks by Griff when the bridge emerged, that he is everything, while Duck and Lemore are replacable. Young Griff angrily demands to know what Tyrion means, who then says that it’s odd what measures are taken for his education, and waves a torch at him to see his face. He declares that the blue-dyed hair fooled him, but that he had noble features for a dead boy. The boy flushes, and Tyrion says that his father had presented a boy with a bloody mess for a skull, so no one ever was suspicious of his true nature, but that it was luck for them to have Varys on their side, since their ruse would have been discovered ages ago. When Young Griff demands to know Tyrion tells him who he is, and that he knows that Young Griff is Aegon Targaryen, son of Rhaegar, and that Griff is Lord Jon Connington, late hand of the king of Aerys II.
They can’t talk on, however, since suddenly the bridge emerges in front of them again. Some current has taken them all the way back, and they didn’t realize in the fogs. This time, the stone men are alerted and attack the pole boat, jumping on it. They try to fend them off with poles, but one attacks Aegon. Tyrion intervenes, knocking the stone man overboard, but is grappled and taken with him. The stone man doesn’t let loose, and Tyrion sinks like a stone, cursing his father and losing consciousness quickly.
When I first read this chapter, I was repulsed by the whole storyline. I never liked crackpot theories, and baby Aegon still alive and kicking definitely qualified for one. One my second read, however, I see the favorable points of it. It adds a whole new dimension to Varys’ and Illyrio’s scheme, since they at least put another egg in another basket instead of letting them go straight for grooming Dany as queen, and perhaps – and Illyrio’s comment to Tyrion that he never expected Daenerys to survive reinforces that though – they meant for Aegon to ascent to the Iron Throne all the time. In the latter case, which I hope to be true, this would and will produce a whole new storyline for Dany once she comes in contact with him and adding to her personal drama, which is a good thing.
That being said, the revelation was cleverly prepared by Martin, one has to say. The last Tyrion chapter ended with his remark about the birth of a king, where one could have suspected if paying really close attention, and in this chapter at one point before Tyrion’s revelation Young Griff was referred to as “the prince”, like a treat for readers paying attention to confirm their suspicion before Tyrion explained it.
Interesting is that another element of the Varys-Illyrio-plot seems to have failed, notably in bribing the authorities of Volantis. When the news come that Volantis gears up for war, Griff is clearly displeased. The plan seems to have been to keep Volantis out of any wars, so that Aegon could easily arrive in Meereen in strength and court Daenerys. This plan now goes out of the window, and the full inclinations of that will be seen when the part arrives in Volantis.
We get some tidbits about Tyrion too in this chapter, as he remembers Jaime and his lie. He clearly harbors ill feelings toward his brother, claiming that he believed everything he said, and that he had feared that Tysha wasn’t real from the start, which Jaime then confirmed at the urging of his father. The betrayal is thus double; not only did Jaime allow Tyrion to cast Tysha away as a whore, but he also stabbed him with the revelation. Tyrion continues to be haunted by the memory of the murder of Tywin, too, which he refers to in his presentation to Aegon as well as in his dying thoughts at the end of the chapter.