Wednesday, August 10, 2016
A Dance with Dragons Daenerys X/ Epilogue
This is it! The final installment of my A Dance with Dragons readthrough. It's been a long road these many months, working my way through the book a few chapters at a time, but as always the reward of reading these books are all the subplots, all the details that become apparent. Regardless of how many times I read these I seem to find something new. This book, while arguably ballooning the plot to cumbersome proportions, is such an amazing read, with so many character insights and, frankly, stunning plot turns. So here is the conclusion- the last Daenerys chapter, in which we find out where she's been since flying away on Drogon from Meereen. Then we have the Epilogue, one of my favorite parts of the book, as it shows us what is happening in Kings Landing- and the book goes out with a bang with several shocking moments.
Spoilers for the books.
Dany is in the vast rolling grasslands north of Meereen, on a spire of rock in the middle of the green vastness. Her dragon has made a lair there and she realizes he has been there for some time.
He had dwelt there for some time, Dany had realized when she first saw the hill. The air smelled of ash, every rock and tree in sight was scorched and blackened, the ground strewn with burned and broken bones, yet it had been home to him.
She reflects that Drogon cannot be made to return her to Meereen, or indeed to go anywhere if he doesn't wish it. So she sets out on her own and follows a stream, knowing it will eventually lead her to the great river that flows into the sea. She has nothing to eat and gets progressively weaker, and eventually ends up in pretty rough shape when she is found by a Dothraki khalasar. And we get the sense that Dany is perhaps meant to be a conqueror, not a queen of peacetime.
Dragons plant no trees. Remember that. Remember who you are, what you were made to be. Remember your words.
When the Dothraki find her she is beside Drogon, eating charred horseflesh that the dragon brought down.
This is an interesting chapter, a quiet introspective chapter in many ways. Dany walks alone, trying to get back, and she dreams and frets and agonizes over her decisions. She is truly alone for the first time in a long time, and perhaps finds herself again in that sense. And the end is kind of exhilarating when Drogon finds her and they ride, taking a horse from a Dothraki herd and eating half charred, half raw meat together. They are truly bonded now.
The other thing is she has her dragon by her side when the Dothraki arrive. On the show they capture her and she frees herself, gaining the khalasar in the process. Here she comes face to face with an old foe Khal Jhaqo, with whom she parted on bad terms the last time she rode with Dothraki- and while she would be vulnerable alone, with Drogon at her side the khalasar may not be Jhaqo's for long.
It's snowing in Kings Landing! The small council are attending to business and the first order is the Knight of Griffin's Roost (recall that Jon Conning ton recaptured that castle a few chapters back) asserting his loyalty. Kevan Lannister thinks that he understands Cersei's hostility towards the Tyrells now.
The more I give him, the more he wants. Kevan Lannister was beginning to understand why Cersei had grown so resentful of the Tyrells.
They discuss Jon Connington and the Golden Company, and then Margaery's upcoming trial. Mace Tyrell wants the king to simply free her, and he and Randyll Tarly are contemptuous of waiting. Kevan tries to counsel patience. Tyrell's priority is freeing his daughter and does not intend to march anywhere until she is freed. Kevan has taken Cersei in hand by replacing all her guards and means to send her to Casterly Rock after her trial.After the meeting Kevan muses that Tarly is the dangerous one and wonders how to win him over.
It's clear here that Kevan is sensible and an improvement over Cersei- he's trying to hold the realm together. Alas for Kevan, it is not to be. But we'll get to that in a moment. First he has dinner with Cersei and as he arrives he notices that Boros Blount, the Kingsguard on the door, doesn't look well (there's a theory out there that he's been poisoned). Dinner goes better than he expects, and Tommen is present. The boy king tells him that the "bad cat", the black tomcat that prowls the keep, was outside his window last night but Ser pounce scared him off.
Cersei and Kevan start to talk business when a messenger arrives to tell Kevan that he is summoned by Grand Maester Pycelle. Kevan goes to him, only to find him dead. And Varys is there. He shoots Kevan with a crossbow and apologizes that it has to be this way, but he can't have Kevan ruling sensibly. He wants Cersei to continue to muck things up to clear the way for Aegon's return. He realizes Kevan is suffering and whistles for his "little birds"- the children- to finish Kevan off. With daggers.
And that's how the book ends. I love this chapter- what a way to end the book. Just when Kevan is trying to put the realm back together, Varys returns and kills him and Pycelle- ensuring chaos. With Cersei alone and facing a small council dominated by Tyrells, how will she rule? I fully expect Aegon to win the throne, or come close, in the next book before Dany arrives- and it will be interesting to see what happens at that point.
So that concludes my readthrough of A Dance with Dragons. This is my third time or so through the book, and every time I discover something new. Have you read it? If so, what did you think? Do you love that ending as well, and do you have a favorite theory about what happens next?