August 05, 2011

Daenerys VI

Daenerys Targaryen (Artwork by Amoka)
Dany is riding out of Meereen with some of her bloodriders, additional guards, her handmaids and a wagontrain of food. The Astapori fugitives are camping below the city walls, the bloody flux rampant about them. The situation is dire, the people dying by the score, and not enough food to feed them all. After having a good look over the compund, Dany lets the train halt and starts distributing food. Since she claims that as a dragon she is immune to the disease, she then helps the people to burn their dead and tend the wounds, something no one has done since the sick are too feeble and the healthy too scared. She calls the Unsullied to help, who afterwards wash themselves in the sea. On the way back to Meereen, her handmaids argue about who will get the bloodrider Rakharro, with Dany ending the dispute by stating that his life is hers.

Back in Meereen, she welcomes a delegation of the Green Grace and some Loraq family members as well as her seneschal to prepare the wedding. She is incredulous about the traditions she is expected to maintain, along them presenting herself naked for examination before the female part of Hizdahr's family and washing the feet of her husband-to-be. She also has to wear a tokhar full of pearls to symbolize fertility. Dany declines all this and is convinced only to wear the special tokhar, finally stating that she will Hizdahr's feet if he washes hers first. When asked about reopening the pits for the wedding, Dany says that Hizdahr can open them after the coronation if he likes. After, she welcomes Hizdahr himself, who tells her that he has no problem with that and thinks the rituals as hollow and in need to be abolished. He has news for her: the Yunkai'i are ready to make peace with Meereen if the city pays indemnities, doesn't interfer in the slave trade anymore and allows Astapor to be rebuilt as a slave city. They also insist on the wedding to prove the truth of her intentions.

Dany accepts, but then they are interrupted by the news that the Stormcrows returned. Dany sends Hizdahr away and changes her clothes twelve times before finally deciding and welcoming Daario. The sellsword tells her that Astapor has fallen, which is no news, and that four mercenary companies of the Yunkai'i are marching on the city. He tells her that some of them went over to the Stormcrows, including some Windblown, but that the complete company of the Second Sons defected to Yunkai and deserted her cause. Dany is struck hard by that, and suddenly asks Daario to sleep with her.

This Daenerys chapter is fairly short, and there aren't much things in it. It seems more like an account of "also happening across the Narrow Sea" before we can return to more pressing and interesting storylines. Even on the reread it seems as if Dany's storyline is not going anywhere, running in circles and being caught up in trivialities. I have the strong feeling that this effect of being lost is exactly what Martin wanted the readers to feel about Dany's fate, and that it doesn't work without going into so much detail, but it still makes a ponderous and very dull read after all.

So, the main thing from this chapter is that Dany lacks the advice that maester Aemon gave Jon: she has to kill the girl and allow the woman to rule, which she doesn't. At times, she is regal and a stirring example, and you understand why she inspires fierce loyalty in many of her suspects. But at other times, especially where Daario is concerned, or even Hizdahr, she just acts like a foolish girl. The marriage with Hizdahr is made to bring the old Meereen together with the new, after all, but Dany botches it with her own pride and arrogance about the ancient customs of the city's nobility, further instilling the desire to kill her which will later culminate in Hizdahr's poison attempt.

At the same time, she is perfectly aware of what she needs to do from a position of a rational ruler, melting it down to the repetitive phrase of the "floppy ears" she needs to put on. And when it comes to Daario, her mind is blown away by her desire as if she had a cock with the dimensions of Robert Baratheon. I don't know where the feeling stems from, but when she finally takes Daario in her bed at the end of the chapter, you feel relief that the annoying storyline finally comes to a close, but at the same time you are somehow not convinced. This is not the Dany that crossed the Red Wastes and left Qarth on hijacked ships with her dragons, this is just a spoiled brat playing with men and collecting them as trophies. Perhaps it will, in "The Winds of Winter", make for a good counter-image to the reborn Dany on Drogon's back, but at the moment, Dany's chapters can't be done fast enough for me.


  1. i really like your analysis of dany's storyline. Great

  2. I'm annoyed there has been practically no mention of the dragons in this book, it would at the very least add some interest to her chapters to just go check on them, maybe wonder where Drogon is, etc. But there has been nothing, and these chapters are so boring I read them like a zombie, not even paying attention to the book, therefore taking nothing out of them (which is why I need your re-reads to fill me in on what I (didn't) miss!

  3. Did anyone else think that when Bran was told he will fly/have wings, however it was put, that he'd skinchange into Drogon? That would be freaking amazing IMO. By the way, great job on these!

  4. Thanks! And yes, that thought will have occured to some people already^^

  5. Hizdahr represents the compromises that are necessary for peace, and Daario represents Dany getting what she truly wants. This parallels Dany's choices to compromise on slavery / fighting pits for peace and give up on the societal reforms she wants, and it sets up Dany's decision to start taking what she wants through fire and blood at the end of the book.

    We the readers may dislike and distrust Daario, but Dany's pre-marriage fling with him is not mere girlishness and stupidity. It's her effort to try to preserve her own autonomy as she sells it away in exchange for peace. This may in the end be foolish but it's more complex then hormones or whatever.

  6. I acknowledge these facts, the problem is more that I somehow can't feel with Dany here. I don't know yet why, but while I perfectly understand her politics (although I still think they're a mistake) I am not moved by it the way I am when I read about Stannis' politics or her earlier exploits in Astapor and Yunkai.