September 09, 2011


Victarion Greyjoy (Artwork by Amoka)
The Iron Fleet on its way to Meereen is capturing a Ghiscari galley. Its captain is brought before Victarion, whom he tells that Daenerys is missing, likely dead, and that Hizdahr rules now. Since Moqorro told Victarion that Dany is alive, he lets the captain's tongue be torne out for lying and then be drowned. Moqorro is clad in black and gold cloth now, the Greyjoy colors. He has proven to be of great worth for Victarion, correctly predicting many events from weather to prizes. Ironmen critizizing Moqorro or not believing in him are put to the leash. The following day, yet another ship is taken, repeating the story. Victarion learns of the Volantene fleet heading to Meereen, but they outdistanced them.

When on the following day two galleys are captured, Victarion routinely has the crew killed, but the rowing slaves are freed - he shatters the chains himself - and told that they may now row for the Iron Fleet. Victarion sees himself in line with Daenerys with this action and is under the impression of being protected by two gods now, the Drowned God and the Fiery God. He rewards Moqorro for further correct predictions. He is then facing a difficult strategic decision of either risking the strait of Yaros or to sail around it, losing days. Based on Moqorros prediction, he risks them. They capture additional galleys and get the same information about Dany. Victarion harbors the hope of besting Dagon Greyjoy, ruling a hundred years ago and waging war against the Great Houses too.

On the next day, they capture a slaver with a ship full of whores. He distributes most of the whores among the Ironmen as salt wives, calling it an honor for them and better to serve one man than many, and takes the seven choicest for himself, however without the intent of fucking them. The boy whores on the ship he chains and drowns, since he deems them unnatural. Soon after, the seven most beautiful women who he reserved are burned in a small ship as a sacrifice to R'hollor. While the women burn, he tells the Ironmen his new belief: two gods are watching over them now. Back in his cabin, Victarion stares at the horn, remembering his talk about it with Moqorro: the Valyrian glyphs read that any mortal blowing it must die, so the horn was a trap of Euron's for him. Moqorro assures him, however, that one doesn't need to blow the horn to control the dragons. One must just claim it with blood.

Captain oaf, the Human Torch, is back. Victarion Greyjoy seemed a dark, gloomy Ironborn in "A Feast for Crows", but "A Dance with Dragons" firmly establishes him as a simple, brutish barbarian. Really, this guy is just a moron with an axe. He is awfully slow to think, and like so many who share this trait, he is not able to get a trustworthy, thinking advisor, but loathes everyone obviously more clever than him - which extends to an awful lot of people - and falls for those who flatter him the right way, like Moqorro does. The priest plays Victarion like a seasoned music instrument without the Iron Captain even noticing, although it's not clear to which end the game is played.

Besides that, Victarion tortures and kills everyone who doesn't tell him what he wants to hear. In his world, there is only truth and lie. The concept of uncomplete information or misunderstanding is lost to him. Why every Ghiscari galley captain should have intimate knowledge of Dany's whereabouts eludes me, but certainly not Victarion's narrow mind. Guys like him desperately need someone to tell them what to do. When Victarion lost Balon, he was turning around his own axis, listening to his captains who pushed him towards the kingsmoot, and later to Euron, simply for want of better alternatives. Now he has Moqorro, and he eagerly listens, convinced to give orders.

It's ridiculous how Victarion tries to imitate Dany when he shatters the chains of the slaves himself, telling them who certainly don't speak the Common Tongue that they are free and then forcing them to row on. Same goes for the distribution of whores. Great improvement of their situation to satisfy the needs of stinking sailors instead of living in a pleasure house. Victarion also is totally deaf to the feelings of his people towards Moqorro. He clads him in Greyjoy colors to improve his acceptance, but it only makes him look more sinister. Instead of explaining, he uses the whip. And on top of it, he invents a new religion for himself, consisting of a poor understanding of his own faith in the Drowned God and the tidbits he choses to accept from R'hollor. The concept of sacrifice, he understands quickly enough, but he takes the god like the Romans of the Ancients took new gods: he sees something useful and offers sacrifice as long as the usefulness prevails. R'hollor is a classical monotheistic deity, however, zealous of every other god. It is impossible that this faith would coexist peacefully with another.

It remains unclear what the horn can do and how it works. That the blower dies is known, but how does Victarion claim it? With blood, Moqorro says, but I can't shake off the feeling that the priest doesn't really intend for Victarion to succeed. Perhaps claiming it involves another sacrifice to some deity or demon or whatnot. It is likely, however, that once the horn is blown the effect is gained by the one who claimed it. It was clever of Euron to give the horn to Victarion, who is very likely to blow it in the presence of the dragons, and then to control the beasts. My guess would be that Moqorro makes some ceremony with Victarion involving blood and fire and claiming the horn without captain oaf even knowing.

As to side notes, the defeat Victarion suffered in the Greyjoy Rebellion at Faire Isle sounds exactly like the crushing defeat the Russian High Seas fleet took in the Russian-Japanese-War 1905. The fleet was captured in the straits, both ends closed and then the massacre commenced with the enclosed fleet not being able to maneuver. Not exactly what you would call clever strategy. Second, we learn that one Dagon Greyjoy made a rebellion against a weak dragon king. This could have been Aeyrs I, reigning shortly after the Blackfyre Rebellion. Dagon, in any case, was brought down by a united effort of Lannister and Stark. I guess we learn some more in the next Dunk&Egg story. The pattern of the Ironborn making stupid rebellions (quote Tyrion) seems to originate earlier than Balon Greyjoy in any case. That these people are not extinct by now seriously vexes me.


  1. I found the Victarion chapters to be darkly hilarious. In a book with many characters struggling with personal issues and crisises, Victarion is this lone, single-minded psycho with an absurdly straightforward approach to everything. Moqorro's god can heal? Sacrifice to him too! Daenerys is married? Make her a widow!

  2. As I said, Captain Oaf. I found his chapters entertaining to read, make no mistake, but he is one stupid idiot.

  3. Dagon as I said before, was mentioned in the Dunk and Egg short stories about how the Starks and the Lannisters worked together to put down his rebellion, so the King he rebelled against was Darion II, likely soon after the Blackfyre Rebellion, which coexists with the known timeline of about a 100 years ago.

  4. I agree with you Stefan, Victarion seems to be a big boy (Hodor!!!) with an axe. He's good at following orders but he wouldn't make a good leader simply because he's not smart enough. I wonder too about Moqorro and his intention, if he was sent by the High Priest in Volantis, do they mean to take control of the dragons?
    PS: Dagon's rebellion was during Aerys I's reign, the bookish, weak king. It seems like the next Dunk and Egg novella is set just after that rebellion, since Lord Beron Stark is dying from wounds received during fights with ironmen.

  5. OK, thanks for the clarification!
    I think that the priests send Moqorro because they saw in the flames that he would reach Dany that way, although the "how" became clearer only later. Remember, the Volantene fleet is set for war.

  6. "The pattern of the Ironborn making stupid rebellions (quote Tyrion) seems to originate earlier than Balon Greyjoy in any case. That these people are not extinct by now seriously vexes me" What is dead may never die, but rise again harder and stronger, unfortunately.

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  8. Gah, I forgot Daeron died a year after the first Dunk and Egg novel. Stupid Spring Sickness.

  9. Yeah, its Aerys, just checked the timeline.

  10. Ah Stefan, my least favorite Ironborn sot has his own chapter. I completely agree with your view of him, with the exception that I didn't find him amusing in the least. This is probably just me, however. I tend to take the burnings to R'hollor very personally, and with a man like Victarion doing it my nerves are shot with rage.

    You're also very right in the observation that ol' Vic is a follower, not a leader. He's the type you point in a direction and tell what you want. He will do no more and no less than what is ordered, unless he resents you like he does the Crow's Eye. Ugh, I've hated him since the story of beating his wife to death for being raped by Euron!

    Here's to a slow and agonizing death for him and for the Crow's Eye!

  11. I don't think he's funny, When I said entertaining, I meant that they make a compelling, suspenseful read. Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word. I totally share your view on him.