Wednesday, July 27, 2016
A Dance with Dragons The Kingbreaker/ The Dragontamer
This week we revisit Barristan the Bold as he makes his move, in concert with the Shavepate. The two of them are trying to keep Dany in power and foil Hizdahr's attempt to take over and accede to her enemies. Then we check in with Quentyn and his Dornish companions as they put their plan into motion- to steal a dragon. Lots of action and intrigue in Meereeen this week. We're getting to the end of the book- lots of things are happening now and the pace is rapidly picking up.
The Shavepate tells Barristan that the Yunkai'i dumped Groleo's head in front of Hizdahr to give him an excuse to kill the dragons. He says Hizdahr's own family members amongst the hostages were returned with no harm done to them. Barristan's plan is to take Hizdahr and form a council to rule, and only attack the Yunkish if they fail to withdraw and return the hostages. Shavepate says that's dumb and they should attack immediately. He agrees grudgingly to go along though and they move.
They also discuss whether to free the hostages (if possible) with Shavepate arguing that it would be better for Dany if Daario died. Barristan thinks it would be better for Dany and Westeros but knows she loves him. They also disagree about killing the Harpy hostages in kind if any more of Dany's are slain, but Barristan refuses.
I am not made for this, he reflected as he looked out over the sprawling city. The pyramids were waking, one by one, lanterns and torches flickering to life as shadows gathered in the streets below. Plots, ploys, whispers, lies, secrets within secrets, and somehow I have become part of them.
Barristan goes to the king's chambers in the night and confronts him about whether he is the Harpy, and did he try to poison Daenerys. He also points out the men in the arena obeyed Hizdahr when he told them to kill the dragon. Hizdahr sputters and denies all but is clearly nervous and calls for his guard- Khrazz the pit fighter. He and Barristan fight and the old knight kills the pit fighter, and takes Hizdahr in hand. Then a serving boy comes and says that the dragons have been loosed.
We're told here that Summerhall happened after Aegon V let three of his sons marry for love rather than duty, and this led to treasons and grief culminating in the Summerhall incident. More hints. We also learn here that Varys was whispering to Aerys about his son Rhaegar, that he meant to depose his father- Varys' games go way back don't they?- and we also discover that was in love with Ashara Dayne. She killed herself after her daughter was stillborn, and perhaps also over grief for the man who had dishonored her. What's going on there?
I also get the sense that Barristan wanted a fight in the king's chambers, the way he drew his sword and was happy when Khrazz came at him. Barristan is a soldier, a knight and he lives for that- the intrigues and the secrets are not to his liking.
Quentyn is nervous about his plan, and Drink tells him he should go to the Temple of the Graces and have a woman- apparently the Temple has pleasure gardens. Quent wants to marry Gwyneth Yronwood and be home. In spite of his misgivings the three of them dress up as Brazen Beasts and meet with Pretty Meris and her crew, who have a wagon and chains to bind the dragons. When they get to the holding place the doors dented and dinged as if something has been trying to get out...
They give the code word but it's the wrong one and they have to fight the guards, killing them. What I think happens here is the word they were given was correct, but this is happening at the same time as Barristan and the Shavepate are executing their plan, and Shavepate's men are using a different word.
The dragons, Prince Quentyn thought. Yes. We came for the dragons. He felt as though he might be sick. What am I doing here? Father, why? Four men dead in as many heartbeats, and for what? "Fire and blood," he whispered, "blood and fire."
They enter the vault and feed a sheep to Rhaegal, hoping to make them full and drowsy, but it goes wrong. Viserion has dug a burrow or cave out of the brick walls and comes down and everything falls apart.
The woman, Quentyn realized. He knows that she is female. He is looking for Daenerys. He wants his mother and does not understand why she's not here.
Quentyn thinks he can cow the beast into submission but one of the mercenaries shoots Viserion with a crossbow, and the dragon kills him. They fall back but Quentyn tries to lash Viserion with his whip- unfortunately Rhaegal is behind him and Quentyn realizes he's burning.
In some ways Quentyn is an idiot, thinking a scheme like this would work. Martin does a great job here showing the majesty, and the terrifying power, of the dragons- Quentyn is awestruck when he gets in there and soon forgets all his plans. Of course it all goes to pot, and it appears here that Q is done for. There is a theory out there that Q is still alive, but I don't put much stock in it. We'll check in one more time with these characters, and it's pretty clear there that the goose is cooked. Not only that, but this is how the dragons get out, as referenced in the previous chapter.