Wednesday, December 16, 2015
A Dance with Dragons Daenerys IV/ The Lost Lord
This week we're checking in with Daenerys. She continues to struggle with how to restore order to Meereen, and how to deal with the Sons of the Harpy. She meets with Galazza Galare, also known as the Green Grace, a sort of high priestess of the city, and is advised to marry in order to bring the city together. Galazza tells her the city will never accept a "barbarian" queen ruling alone. I'm thinking at this point just leave and get to Westeros- but apparently that's not an option yet.
Things are pretty grim as three Qartheen galleys have slipped up the river and are blockading it. Her request for alliance with Tolos was rejected, they called her a whore and demanded she return the city to the previous masters. The killings in the streets continue, but Dany refuses to kill her hostages, which Shavepate recommends. We find out that the king of Astapor has been killed, and so was his successor- the killer sits the throne, and Yunkai's forces are outside the walls.
Galazza's advice is for Dany to marry Hizdahr zo Loraq. Dany meets with him and he proposes that if she allows Yunkai to continue slaving unmolested, he thinks Yunkai will agree to peace. She tells him that if he gives her ninety days without a killing, she will marry him. Barristan of course doesn't approve, and tells her there is another way... she could go to Westeros. She feels she must fix Meereen first, and they discuss Rhaegar and her parents. The old knight tells her that her parents didn't wed for love, but rather her grandfather demanded it, because a woods witch had foretold that the prince was promised would be from their line.
The woods witch came to court with Jenny of Oldstones, who claimed she was a child of the forest. Dany asks what happened to her and Barristan replies "Summerhall."
Daario Naharis has returned, and advises her to go on the attack against her enemies- including killing all the Great Masters. Dany is appalled and angered when he is insolent with her, and orders Barristan to keep Naharis and the Stormcrows in the field. She thinks he is a monster, but then thinks of her dragons getting more unruly all the time and thinks she is a monster too.
I think this woods witch may be the child of the forest from the Bran chapter, who claimed to have wandered the world for two hundred years.
Dany is determined to fix the mess in Meereen, but doesn't have a lot of good options. I was dismayed to see her marrying Hizdahr before going to Westeros- the reason this story keeps getting stretched out is precisely because this Meereen story never ends. She wants to bed Naharis on his return but he pisses her off with his boldness, so she sends him away.
THE LOST LORD
Here's where the book really starts to get interesting, I think. We now know that Griff is Jon Connington, best friend of Rhaegar Targaryen and former Hand of the King, who was exiled when he lost to Robert in the rebellion years ago. Everyone thinks he's dead, but of course he's not. And he is raising Young griff, who is really Aegon Targaryen. Or is he?
Here Connington and company reach the Golden Company, said to be the finest in the world. They're in Volon Therys and Griff is angry that Tyrion is gone. He is tired of caution, tired of waiting- he feels it is time for the Golden company to meet Aegon. Lemore advises caution but Griff won't hear it. The Golden Company is ten thousand strong, led by Harry Strickland and it's been years since Griff rode with them. He was close with the previous leader, Blackheart Miles Toyne, but Strickland is a different sort- more cautious, not as bold.
They reach the mercenary camp and Griff is pleased to see it is orderly and well organized. The mercs have two dozen elephants and Griff thinks warhorses will not stand against them. They first meet Franklyn Flowers, a big scarred veteran who greets them warmly. Griff wonders how many men remember him, and thinks back to how they faked his death- claiming he had drank himself to death after being caught stealing from the war chest. Varys had insisted it was necessary.
We meet the captains of the Golden Company- some notables are Black Balaq (head of the archers), Gorys Edoryon (the paymaster) and Lysono Maar (the spymaster). Griff announces Aegon but they already know who he is- Strickland told them. He turned down a lucrative contract from the Yunkish to go fight Daenerys, and had to tell the men something. He tells Griff that three other mercenary companies have already gone off to fight Dany, and they would have been the fourth. They debate what to do, how to reach Dany, and Aegon steps forward and proposes that they march on Westeros without Dany.
And then Prince Aegon spoke. "Then put your hopes on me," he said. "Daenerys is Prince Rhaegar's sister, but I am Rhaegar's son. I am the only dragon that you need."
They debate their course of action and eventually agree, over Strickland's objections.
"Prince Aegon," said Tristan Rivers, "we are your men. Is this your wish, that we sail west instead of east?"
"It is," Aegon replied eagerly. "If my aunt wants Meereen, she's welcome to it. I will claim the Iron Throne by myself, with your swords and your allegiance. Move fast and strike hard, and we can win some easy victories before the Lannisters even know that we have landed. That will bring others to our cause."
The deal is done and Griff thinks that Aegon has shown a side he had not seen before. Alone in his tent he reflects on going back to Westeros, and thinks he has time to see his home again, and Aegon on the throne, before he dies- of greyscale, which he apparently caught fishing Tyrion out of the river. No one must know...
It's interesting that we get this chapter right after the Daenerys chapter, as Griff reflects on their plans. They intended to keep Aegon's identity a secret until they met up with Dany, but with her staying in Meereen that's shot, so he decides now to throw caution to the wind and declare Aegon before the Golden Company. And it's striking to think how much influence Tyrion had on Young griff/ Aegon- his advice to go to Westeros will change the game dramatically.
Also we see that Varys and Illyrio have been plotting for the return of Dany and Aegon for a long time... a very long game indeed.