Welcome to my A Dance with Dragons re- read. This week we have Daenerys, picking up her story after the event of the third book. A lot happens with Dany in this one, and this- the first of her chapters- sets the stage for it. so let's dive in.
Daenerys is presented with the body of one of her Unsullied, who was killed in a most unpleasant way in the city. She is angry, and we learn that the Sons of the Harpy, a rebel group drawn from the old nobility, are behind the killings, targeting Dany's loyalists. Dany has sent Daario Naharis off to negotiate a trade deal, and she misses him. She's not sure what to do about the killings, and as she reflects on her problems she thinks that her dragons are getting big- and wilder by the day. As she prepares to meet the days petitioners, she thinks that she must somehow win over the Meereenese people.
Her two pirincipal advisors are Reznak mo Reznak, who gives gentler advice, and Skahaz the Shavepate, who takes a hard line and advises her to kill members of the Great Houses every time she loses someone. Blood for blood. Reznak protests, and Dany sides with him, upping the reward for information on the Harpies to a thousand coins instead of a hundred. she reflects on how she doesn't trust either man very much. Among the petitioners who come before her is Hizdahr Loraq, who encourages her to reopen the fighting pits- as he has numerous times before. She turns him down again, convinced that pit fighting is savage and not something she wants to support. Many of the issues brought before her relate to the sacking of the city when she took over.
Dany makes some curious decisions here. A wealthy woman lost her husband and son defending the city, and when she fled her home it was taken over and turned into a brothel. She wants the house back and Dany grants her the jewels the whores stole but declines to give her the house back. Um, okayy. A slave then comes and say his wife was a bedslave before they were married. She was pregnant from her owner and he wants Dany to geld the noble. He also wants gold to raise the noble's bastard. Dany grants him the gold but refuses the gelding, as the woman was his property when it occurred. And then a young boy comes and wants two men hanged- they were former slaves who rose up and killed his father, brother and mother when the slaves rose. She refuses as she has pardoned those committed crimes during the sack. The boy rushes her and she lets him live, but knows she has made an enemy.
Then the last petiotioner of the day brings her a sack of bones, for recompense. She has been reimbursing those who lose sheep to dragons, but this time is different. the bones are not those of a sheep... but of a child.
This chapter, for me, starts a rather dreary period in Dany's story. Dany is now queen of Meereen, a slaver city with a population and culture that are alien to her. Their ways are foreign, and she is not welcome there among the old aristocracy. She closes the fighting pits, frees the slaves and wonders why everyone hates her. The nolbility want nothing more than for her to be deposed, and she has a tough road. She has a thing for Daario, but he's gone, and the one she really trusts is Ser Barristan. Martin here is showing us, I think, how Dany rules, and frankly it's not all wine and roses. I think she makes questionable decisions and could show more compassion with those who have lost even if they were on the wrong side of the fighting. In many ways she reminds me of Jon a bit- as we will see in later chapters, Jon makes some decisions that are questionable too- or if they are the right decisions, he doesn't support them by explaining them to those who may be affected. Thus making enemies. And of course the takeaway here is that the dragons are a bit out of control... already.
Dragons are fire made flesh. She had read that in one of the books Ser Jorah had given her as a wedding gift. "You should be hunting with your brothers. Have you and Drogon been fighting again?" Her dragons were growing wild of late.