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Editor’s Note: This essay contains very minor spoilers for The Winds of Winter. Additionally, I was attempting to do an audio recording of this episode, but I was unable to finish the recording in time for this essay’s release. Please check back here if you’re interested in listening to me read this essay or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to receive word of when the audio recording will be out.
Daenerys Targaryen will make a momentous return in The Winds of Winter, but her return will be not be the stuff of triumph that many fans expect. Many fans believe that Dany will return to Meereen, collect her army and sail for Westeros. But all signs point to George RR Martin defying fan-expectations and following a different course. What course might that be? Only George and his editors know for certain, but I believe a careful reading of the first five books of A Song of Ice and Fire coupled with information collected from interviews and the sample chapters from The Winds of Winter give broad strokes on Dany’s future themes and plot points.
Recently, when asked about The Winds of Winter, George RR Martin offered this nugget:
“Well, Tyrion and Dany will intersect, in a way, but for much of the book they’re still apart. They both have quite large roles to play here. Tyrion has decided that he actually would like to live, for one thing, which he wasn’t entirely sure of during the last book, and he’s now working toward that end—if he can survive the battle that’s breaking out all around him. And Dany has embraced her heritage as a Targaryen and embraced the Targaryen words. So they’re both coming home.” – EW Shelf Life, June 26, 2014
From this very small but significant quote, I surmise the following:
- Dany’s will spend a significant amount of time apart from any of the characters tied into the Meereenese Knot.
- The long-awaited intersection between Tyrion & Dany will take place towards the middle to late portion of The Winds of Winter.
- Daenerys will eventually make her way to Westeros…
- … But not before Dany spends the majority if not the entirety, of her Winds of Winter arc in Essos.
Wait, Essos!? How could George RR Martin inflict us with another pointless, meaningless character arc in Essos? Isn’t it time that Daenerys triumphantly return to Westeros where she’ll defeat the Others with her dragons, marry Jon Snow and reclaim her father’s crown from the hated Lannisters? Well, maybe, but I don’t think that’s how GRRM will structure Dany’s storyline at least in TWOW.
In these essays, I want to show that Dany’s extended stay in Essos is congruent with how Dany’s arc was developed in the first five books, and how her arc will be tied to how George RR Martin’s writes plot-tension that encapsulates triumph, tragedy and realism.
But more important than the plot-points is the thematic impulse behind Dany’s future in The Winds of Winter. As GRRM (quoting Falkner) likes to put it: “The human heart in conflict with itself is the only thing worth writing about.”
Dany’s future in The Winds of Winter will be tied to her past, routed through dangerous, fickle prophecy, drenched in warfare but most importantly, bound to internal, human struggle. Continue reading
As many of you know, getting any and every scrap of info about TWOW has been one of my passions in ASOIAF. I even wrote a bloated post on everything we know about TWOW a few months ago. Anyways, I happened to be going through GRRM’s notablog a few days ago, and I found some interesting information about some chapters from TWOW & some interesting things about ADWD.
One of my interests is in the craft of writing itself — how authors do it, the struggles they face, the breakthroughs they have in the process of writing. As someone who’s been writing my own fictional book for a few years now and someone who writes ASOIAF analysis, GRRM’s take on writing has always seemed really interesting to me. He has a very unique style in writing his stories. So, it was really interesting to me to learn about GRRM’s writing of TWOW & ADWD.
Obviously, if you’re seeking to avoid any and all spoilers about TWOW, please eschew this thread!
Peter Dinklage and Conleth Hill as Tyrion Lannister and Lord Varys (HBO)
“In a room sit three great men, a king, a priest, and a rich man with his gold. Between them stands a sellsword, a little man of common birth and no great mind. Each of the great ones bids him slay the other two. ‘Do it’ says the king, ‘for I am your lawful ruler.’ ‘Do it’ says the priest, ‘for I command you in the names of the gods.’ ‘Do it’ says the rich man, ‘and all this gold shall be yours.’ So tell me-who lives and who dies?” -A Clash of Kings, Tyrion I
Throughout A Song of Ice and Fire, men and women clash over power and authority, using any and all tools at their disposal, whether they be armies, laws, legacies, or dragons. Throughout the series, these tools gain and lose advantages over the other, resulting in a tumultuous back-and-forth of power politics that resembles an ocean at storm, with the users scrambling for power in situations where their tools gain or lose power from one day to the next.
Tywin Lannister’s name and reputation in A Song of Ice and Fire is associated with the consequentialist political mantra of “the ends justify the means.” But how true is that sentiment when examined against the text? And if true, does the series’ gray morality give Tywin a wider moral berth for his conduct?
Tywin Lannister is a fascinating character in that his actions result in such differing fan-opinions of the character. For his supporters, he’s viewed as someone willing to do evil to achieve a greater good best seen in his defense of his conduct during the Sack of King’s Landing.
“As stupid as he was, even he knew that Rhaegar’s children had to die if his throne was ever to be secure. Yet he saw himself as a hero, and heroes do not kill children.” (ASOS, Tyrion VI)
Tywin’s detractors see his actions as dark, evil acts perpetrated by an evil man for politically nefarious reasons. Eddard Stark was firmly in this camp.
I would sooner entrust a child to a pit viper than to Lord Tywin. (AGOT, Eddard II)
But both perspectives miss something fundamental about Tywin’s conduct. He may have shrouded his actions in political terms, but subtext and context shows that Tywin actually couched all of his major evil actions from a deeply personal perspective.
In this analysis, I’ll hope to show Tywin’s deeply personal reasons for his brutalities through 3 seminal events, all of which took place prior to events of the main book series:
- The Reyne/Tarbeck Rebellion
- The Defiance of Duskendale
- The Sack of King’s Landing at the end of Robert’s Rebellion
“Bolton has blundered,” the king declared.
I’m pleased to announce that Part 2 of the Battle of Ice series is coming to you all LIVE this upcoming Saturday! In part 2, Aziz & Ashaya from History of Westeros and I will do an in-depth battle analysis on the Battle of the Crofters’ Village from The Winds of Winter.
In this battle, Stannis faces off against Hosteen Frey and the Manderlys (well… maybe not the Manderlys) and winter is the enemy to all (except maybe not to Stannis…)
If you want to watch live, check out the page here: But if you’re not free, no harm/foul, it will be available on youtube, itunes and other formats.
And if you haven’t watched part 1, check it out!