A Dance with Dragons part four! ~300-~400

With all this secret Targaryen business back, I’m reminded that very early on I called Jon as a potential secret Targaryen. Him, Aegon here with Tyrion, and Dany would make three, if that’s meant to be the read of that prophecy. And Aegon and Jon would be Dany’s nephews. Starting to think they might collectively be the three heads of Dany’s prophecy. It would sure help. Dany sucks at leading but is big on justice. Jon is proving himself capable and resilient, even if he knows nothing. And Aegon’s a warm body, I guess. So let’s go.

Tyrion: He’s been rescued by Aegon and is still alive, though he may contract greyscale. Much painful poking and prodding ensues, and outwardly he would appear fine.

Lemore also has something to hide? Perhaps another secret Targaryen? Can’t rule it out. Anyway, Aegon means to take Dany as his consort, and he seems incredibly sure of himself. Tyrion tries to caution him on that front. Aegon doesn’t know her, and certainly isn’t going about this in exactly the best way.

I’m gonna nix the Lemore = Targaryen guess. Tyrion provides a suggested course of action that makes much more sense to me – go raise banners in Westeros and when Dany comes, she’ll meet you as an equal. Now, this is equally likely to work as it is to get Aegon killed, and either makes sense for Tyrion to do – both options get Aegon out of the way so Tyrion can try to get her on board with him. Tyrion also provides a very astute reading of Cersei.

Time for intelligence gathering. The Triarch Horonno story is an amusing cautionary tale. Looks like Red Priests in the east think Dany is Azor Ahai, not Stannis. Bad news for Melisandre, because that might make her a heretic. The fact that the high priest, Benerro, is pushing the Dany interpretation pretty much seals that.

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This Qavos fellow has some intel for us. He tells what he’s head about Dany, and it’s all very bad stuff, heard from people who hate her very much. Clearly embellished, but certainly not a rock solid reputation. Tyrion gets what he wanted, though he loses the game (I would guess on purpose). Pretty much the whole continent wants Dany out for her role in disrupting the slave trade.

Tyrion visits a brothel where he ruminates a bit and also gets captured. Bear on the coat – must be Jorah the Explorer back in the story, thinking he’s found a way to impress Dany. What he’s done is speed up Tyrion’s trip immensely.

Daenerys: How will she mess up now? Well, more murders of former slaves have been happening, but Dany won’t kill any of her hostages. This puzzles me. I’m not for the murder of children, but I have to wonder if Dany understands the point of hostages. They’re for killing when this kind of stuff happens to send a message to those doing the stuff that displeases Dany. Anyway, Cleon the Butcher King is dead. As is another Cleon. Astapor is a mess.

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Dany’s advised to marry – having a Ghiscari king would go a long way toward quelling unrest. Dany’s pretty much torn between agreeing to do it for the sake of peace and being all “I don’t need no man!” about it. Hizdahr is recommended.

She listens to Hizdahr, who does not bring up the fighting pits for once. He makes some decent points, and she decides to test him with a kiss. No warmth there, and Dany is not so inclined toward him. She gives him a quest – no deaths for ninety days and she’ll consider marriage. Not a bad gambit.

Barristan doesn’t approve. Westeros. It’s always Westeros with him, and Dany keeps dragging her feet. She continues dragging. Drogon is still off who knows where and the other two are becoming harder and harder to contain.

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The biggest problem is that she’s completely head over heels for Daario. As she listens to his suggestions, though, she starts feeling less fond. His solutions pretty much amount to just killing them all and marrying him. In a fit of pique, she tells Barristan to send Daario and his men out again and that they’re only to report to him. By night she already seems to regret that.

The Lost Lord: That’s an evocative epithet there. Guess since Tyrion’s been kidnapped we still need to keep tabs on the rest of the group, so the older Griff, Jon Connington, is our new point of view. Welcome aboard.

Of course, as we’ve seen with Sansa and Theon, there’s the matter of the false identity. Here, for now, he’s Griff.

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He’s feeling impatient. The time to reveal Aegon is nigh, and he wants to believe in the Golden Company. Guess Connington is the Griffin – Griff/Griffin, it makes sense.

Honestly, it’s probably for the best they haven’t revealed Aegon yet and didn’t do so when Viserys was still alive. I can’t imagine Viserys’s ego would have tolerated not being the rightful heir.

He regrets not killing Tyrion. Many have regretted the same. He doesn’t trust that Tyrion was actually kidnapped. Eh, it’s probably not like it makes much of a difference either way.

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On to meet with Strickland and the Golden Company, then. Griff’s known, but young Aegon is still a secret. Never let them see the whole hand. The golden skull tradition’s an interesting one. Grim, but oddly touching.

So Varys, Illyrio, Blackheart, and Connington all made the plans together regarding Aegon. That’s four who knew who he is and that he’s alive. Connington is starting to grow suspicious that Strickland knows, though. Well, no matter. He just up and tells them.

Seems the company has known and expected. They’ve got plans and have been trying to work out how to get to Dany, it would seem. Strickland doesn’t see a way to get to her – she’s either going to stay where she is or die; he doesn’t see any chance of her heading west. And all the avenues to Meereen are pretty closed off.

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Oh dear. Aegon speaks, and it’s about as bold as the opening move he was going to make in that game against Tyrion. Forget Dany. He’s got the better claim. If she wants, she can come to him.

Much debate and it seems Aegon’s idea is popular enough. I see it ending disastrously. Connington has the greyscale, too. Interesting.

The Windblown: Quentyn Martell goes by Frog over here. Really this thing about false identities could be a very good article if I were so inclined to write one. Still on the path toward meeting Dany, though now he’s not so sure it’ll work. It’s a meeting he’s fearing now.

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So Quentyn and his fellows have joined up with a company called the Windblown. Astapor is about three miles behind them. Not a pleasant place, Astapor. The company is a means to an end, of getting to Dany. The company itself, however, seems to be riding against Dany. And Quentyn’s growing nervous – whatever he needs to do to get to her apart from battle must happen soon.

The Yunkish lords seem to be an interesting lot. Probably a lot of fun to be had in showing them to us on the show. I see Martin’s subtle reference to Monty Python and I appreciate it. Without mercenary companies, it would seem the Yunkish stand no chance. The butchery of Astapor was not much of a battle, it would seem. A corpse on a horse to lead the battle.

Quentyn and Gerris discuss plans by the horses. Quentyn wants to go now, lest Dany actually join battle at Yunka’i. Gerris says it won’t happen, and it’d be foolish to desert before they get north of Yunka’i. That’s true, but it’d be foolish to be at Yunka’i if there’s going to be any fighting. Quentyn’s life is the whole of the mission.

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Ah, but there’s a chance earlier. The Tattered Prince asks the audience of his Dornish companymen. Looks like as many of the company’s Westerosi are gathered as possible. Lewis Lanster must be a Lannister by blood, or claim of it. With them are the Prince’s right and left hand men.

So he seriously wants them to turn their cloaks and join Dany. I presume to open Meereen up from the inside. Both good for Quentyn and bad. He gets what he wants, but it’s going to be harder to do now.

The Wayward Bride: Hail to thee, Asha Cooler-than-Theon Greyjoy! Now what’s this about your epithet being the wayward bride, I wonder?

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The setting: Galbart Glover’s hall. The occasion: the arrival of a letter letting Asha know that Bolton’s bastard has taken Moat Cailin. Also a piece of Theon as a token. Though she does not know what has happened to Theon, Asha rightly guesses that death is preferable.

With everything that’s happened, Asha’s changed a bit. It would seem her fire is gone. Sentimental, I could say. Or maybe she was always a bit sentimental, but we haven’t seen it before.

A lot of introspection and memory in this chapter. Asha basically fled after the kingsmoot. No way was she surviving if she stayed. Ah. Euron named a husband for her. So she fled both her uncle and her new husband, and Asha was to be tamed like a shrew. Also, on page 371 of my copy, a spelling inconsistency: Erik/Eric.

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Tris Botley deserted for her and he urges that she flee. A pirate’s life sounds tempting, but it’s not Asha. Aeron’s whereabouts are unknown, but Tris believes him dead at Euron’s hand.

Tris tells the story of Torgon the Latecomer and how he got a kingsmoot declared void because he hadn’t been there to state his claim as the son of the last king. Tris means this to illustrate why Asha can’t go back, but Asha kisses him. Uh-oh. She’s planning to spring Theon from his hell, get him to the islands, and have the kingsmoot overthrown, isn’t she?

Before she can tell us, there’s a situation to attend to. Some northmen have made an attempt to infiltrate the castle to rescue Lady Glover. They were not very successful.

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Looks like Martin’s making another Shakespeare reference here, as the forest is marching on Asha’s position. I see what you’re doing, George. I still stand with Tolkien that it’s a bit of a copout, though. Seems Asha might agree.

The strategy for this fight is simple – get to the ships. Today is not the day to die. The fact that the attack is coming from the north is a surprise. Asha and the ironborn flee through the south gate and try to make west before turning north to the strand. In the night they stop to rest, as the forest is impossible to navigate.

And there’s an ambush. She said earlier that she had no plans to be taken alive. Let’s see if that holds. It’s a fight, and Asha makes a good effort of it. Hagen’s daughter gets what’s probably the best moment an unnamed character will see in the series as she runs naked from the woods and takes a sword to one of her pursuers.

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Asha fights well, and gets knocked out by her last attacker. But not killed. Her dreams suggest Stannis or Melisandre’s influence to me.

Tyrion: Lashed to a saddle and carted around Essos is surely embarrassing, and less than Tyrion has earned in his life. Still 100% that that’s Jorah who’s got him – who else?

Tyrion’s starting to verge into something very interesting now. “I think life is a jape. Yours, mine, everyone’s.” Everything is arbitrary and we are but insignificant specks reading meaning into a meaningless universe.

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Of course, what Tyrion does not realize is that he lives in a book. His universe is actually full of meaning, because it’s a story. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less a jape.

One thing that strikes me in Tyrion’s assessment of Volantis is the way in which we really see the present presented as a decadent, failing time that has fallen from past glory. It seems to be a big part of the presentation of the story – Westeros too is currently showing the effects of failed attempt to capture and preserve past glory. The rot has simply become much more exposed and accelerated as a consequence. This, of course, is a classical device and to be expected in mythmaking like Martin’s engaging in. Like Tolkien’s First Age or the Greek Golden Age, or even the story of Eden, the effect is a reminder that humanity in the present lives in a fallen state and cannot regain that perfection again.

Tyrion still has an out to kill himself, at least, if he chooses to resort to his shoe mushrooms. More interesting, though, we get to enjoy a night fire presided over Benerro, the high priest of R’hllor. Impressive pyrotechnics there. He sees doom and darkness. I wonder what else. He sure seems very different from Melisandre. That’s for sure.

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Yeah. The idea for Aegon to ally with the red priests seems bound to fail, I think. Tyrion can see that plainly. Azor Ahai is one, not two. Hopefully Aegon is smart – if he wants to live, he’s going to have to be.

Jorah gets Tyrion shackled up all nice and proper and gets him to Fishmonger’s Square, where Tyrion figures on waiting for rescue. Unlikely. He’s going to take you direct to Dany, Tyrion. Your capture is a good thing for you. At last Tyrion tries something he hasn’t: talking to Jorah and making an appeal. He still thinks Jorah wants to take him to Cersei. He really hasn’t thought this through too much.

Looks like the triarch elections are a complete circus. Literally. Jorah muses at the merit of elected government. Considering what we’ve seen of monarchy in this series, it’s a wonder there haven’t been more attempts to move toward republican forms of government. The monarchs in this story are often incompetent and evil. I mean, Aerys II would certainly have put me off the idea of kings entirely. And if he hadn’t, Cersei certainly would have.

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Some other dwarf sees Tyrion at the Merchant’s House and seems to recognize him. We get news that Aegon has hired the Golden Company. That’s going to make things very interesting very soon. Looks like Tyrion really did mean that idea as bait to get Aegon out of the way. Good move.

It also looks like we’re going to meet a widow before we can get all of Tyrion’s thoughts on Aegon’s movements. Jorah’s plan, such as it is, is to ask the widow to secure passage for him to Meereen. And now Tyrion begins to understand.

The widow is curious why they want to go to Meereen. Also, the other dwarf seems familiar to Tyrion. This negotiation goes south pretty quickly. Tyrion’s honesty is noted here, but Jorah comes up wanting, and the widow is not impressed.

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Turns out the dwarf is a woman. Also, her brother died because of Cersei’s order. She and her brother performed for Joffrey’s wedding, right before he was poisoned. She tries to rush Tyrion but fails to kill him. Poor girl. The widow has a message for them to pass on to Dany. The slaves of old Volantis await her arrival. Seems we might get a massive slave uprising.

Things of importance:
* Asha is captured (?)
* Tyrion and Jorah are heading to Dany, and the slaves of Volantis await her arrival
* Dany’s not so strongly crushing on Daario now
* Aegon has hired the Golden Company
* The church of R’hllor believes Dany is Azor Ahai 

Predictions pulled out of my ass:
* Jorah will not survive his next meeting with Dany. That was a rocky one last time, and he’s violating her order.
* Aegon will wash out by book’s end.
* Dany may push for world conquest if she does go to Volantis 

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Dany’s Threes:
Three heads: Three identities, perhaps Mother of dragons and child of storms are obvious – the third, though… I’ll have to go look things over again, but perhaps Azor Ahai is a possibility. Open to multiple possibilities. Other possibility: her, Jon Snow, and Aegon as the new Targaryen rulers of Westeros.
She thinks: Herself and two others to ride her dragons.
Three fires: life, death, love. There’s the obvious fire of Drogo’s funeral – the fire of life. The other two will come. No predictions as yet.
Three mounts: To bed, to dread, to love. Drogo was to love. Irri seems a good enough bedmate.
Three treasons: For blood, for gold, for love. All three seem to have been in motion or completed before the prophecy. Jorah seems to have betrayed her for love, love of home. For blood, I’m on board with Mirri Maz Duur now. I’m calling Illyrio Mopatis the treason for gold.
She thinks: Mirri Maz Duur for blood. Jorah for love.

Azor Ahai: “When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone. 

I’m going to have to go with Dany now, based on Aemon’s dreams. But with Benerro explicitly calling her Azor Ahai, I’m keeping my eye on other possibilities.

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Quaithe’s Warning: “Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.”

Kraken is Euron, Lion is Tyrion, Sun’s son must be Quentyn, as others have noted the symbol. Pale mare is uncertain – a Dothraki woman we haven’t seen yet? Dark flame might be Melisandre or another of her sect. Griffin must be Connington, but mummer’s dragon is uncertain. Unless that’s Aegon.