|Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister|
Tyrion was pulled out of the water by Jon Connington and after that washed with vinegar, to reduce the danger of an infection with grayscale. Haldon gives him a knife and commands him to prick every toe and finger to check for numbness, a sign of the plague. Luckily, there is none to be found. Tyrion gets a first chance to look around. The boat is in another city, Selhoris, and Aegon is on board. He is told that Dothraki warriors are in the vicinity, and it’s therefore dangerous to let Aegon leave the ship. Aegon doesn’t understand the security measure and claims to slay every Dothraki who crosses his way.
To kill time and to deflect Aegon’s thoughts, Tyrion challenges him into a game of cyvasse. While they are playing, they are talking. Aegon explains that Varys exchanged him as a babe, when the Lannisters stormed the city, buying the other babe from a drunkard of Flee Bottom for a flask of Arbor Gold. Tyrion then challenges Aegon about Daenerys. It becomes clear that the boy imagines that she will obediently marry him and give her forces to him, so Tyrion makes it clear what she has gone through and accomplished all on her own and that Aegon won’t be her savior. He then hammers home his prime lesson, to trust no one, not even his closest friends and advisors, in order to survive.
He then explains Aegon what he would do in his stead: instead of waiting for Dany, who still hasn’t bestirred herself, he should take the Golden Company and go to Westeros, planting the banner of the dragon there and to establish a foothold, preferably in Dorne, and wait there from a position of force for Daenerys, who is sure to come when she hears of him, since she is above all a rescuer by nature. He also points out the political situation, that Westeros will be ruled by Cersei, who is unable to do it and will shatter all her alliances soon. He then defeats Aegon in the game by using a mistake he advised Aegon to do, again bringing his lesson to trust no one. Aegon then throws away the game and commands Tyrion to pick it up.
Haldon takes Tyrion into Selhorys now. Rumors that Daenerys still hasn’t left Meereen are confirmed, and they need to know more. In the city, they come upon a red priest who urges the masses to join up with Daenerys, who brings the fire in form of her dragons, but he seems to be a minority. Haldon takes Tyrion into an inn to play a game of cyvasse with a friend of his. Said friend just defeats an opponent. Haldon tells Tyrion to play with him and that he is the custom’s officer, and that he never once won a game against him. Tyrion understands, placing a high bet and talking while he plays.
The custom’s officer tells them that Volantis thirsts for war, and that Yunkai bough triarch Nyessos, thereby securing the majority in the triarch council. When asked why Volantis hates her so much, the officer produces some vile rumors of Dany sacrificing children to her dragons and committing other atrocities, but quickly cuts to the core: she destroys the institution of slavery which exceeds Slaver’s Bay and disrupts Volantis’ trade also. He then tells them that New Ghis, the Tolosi and Elyrians and some Dothraki have joined the alliance of Qarth and Yunkai.
After the game, which Tyrion deliberately loses, he goes into a cheap brothel to fuck a whore and search for Tysha. The only Westerosi girl they have is half a corpse, however, and certainly not Tysha. Tyrion fucks her, drinks much wine and retches, only to take her again and then to leave ashamed of himself. In another inn into which he stumbles drunkenly, he is addressed by a half-bald, coarse Westerosi knight in green wool and taken prisoner, to be “delivered to the queen”.
Tyrion is rather enigmatic in this chapter. The advice he gives Aegon is sound, no question, but it doesn’t become entirely clear why Tyrion gives the advice in the first place. His initial plan was to join up with Daenerys, after all. Presumably, he picks up his first intention of raising Dorne, seeing Aegon as a tool for it and better chances in the venture than doing it alone. It remains unclear, too, where Tyrion gets the full image of Daenerys’ exploits. If he has puzzled it together from the muffled pieces of knowledge he was able to gather so far, he really has a quick and sharp mind. Not that I doubt it, but even for his standards, the analysis is breathtakingly correct and to the point.
It is obvious that Aegon is still a youth and needs some lessons learned quickly when he wants to conquer and rule successfully. His character needs some shaping in any case. He is well trained in terms of theoretical knowledge and martial arts, but he still lacks a firmness of character. He knows ruling only as an abstract concept; Jon Connington seems too straightforward to really teach him the finesse of it, and Haldon can approach it only from a scholar’s view. He also shows some temper and arrogance flashing up that he was taught to control but fails to several times.
We get deeper looks into Tyrion’s mental state along the way, too. On the surface, he returns to the witted imp we know from previous books, sharp of tongue and mind, with a good understanding of politics, necessities and possibilities, but under this surface lays a dark pool of suppressed traumas. They trouble him to a point where he is afraid of sleeping and, consequently, dreaming. When he roams through Selhorys with Haldon, he takes the first chance to continue his chance for Tysha, forcing himself to imagine a chance by the simple remark he heard about many whores being in the city. In the brothel, he asks for a Westerosi girl and drinks himself into a state where he can fuck her sorry ass despite any self-respect he might have had. It is in this state of total drunkenness and self-pity that he stumbles into Jorah Mormont.
As to side notes, Mormont obviously is troubled by a similar state of mind: the young whore he has on his lap bares resemblance to Daenerys, most notably in her silver hair, indicating that of the two possibilities he left Meereen with at the end of “A Storm of Swords” he hasn’t taken the option of turning his love for Dany into hate. He still hopes for a pardon and her love, and sees Tyrion as a welcome means. It’s nice how he (and Martin) deliberately mislead Tyrion (and the reader) about his true intentions by speaking only of “the queen”, since it’s entirely possible that Jorah wants to earn that royal pardon with Cersei. As a second site note, we get a nice glimpse of Volantene politics with the beheaded statue of a tiger warlord who climbed to being a hero with the people and fell into disgrace later. It adds much to the flavor of Volantis.