The Murdered and the Missing Part 2: The Missing

Benjen Stark, artwork by Fantasy Flight Games

Earlier, the podcast team published a podcast discussing the murder mysteries and missing persons of the book series. The podcast ran a little long, so the podcast was split into two podcasts, one discussing the murders, and the other the missing. The second part is now available for your listening pleasure.

In this chapter, we discuss the following:

  • Benjen Stark
  • Tyrek Lannister
  • Gerion Lannister
  • Raynald Westerling
  • Ashara Dayne

We also talk about what it means for a narrative to have a character disappear to show up later, and to disappear to remove them as pieces from the plot, wonder if Brightroar is its own “missing person,” and voice such controversial opinions as: “Septa Lemore has hands.”

Check us out on Podbean or itunes

You can pre-order the next Tower of the Hand e-book featuring essays by Jim (SomethingLikeaLawyer) and Jeff (BryndenBFish) over at Amazon if you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy. It’s set to come out on May 8, 2015.

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The Three Heads of the Dragon: Kings, Pretenders, and the Ladies of Fire: Rhaenys


For nearly 300 years, House Targaryen from Valyria ruled the continent of Westeros.  From the Wall in the North to the Broken Arm of Dorne in the south, from Dragonstone in the east to the Iron Islands in the West, the Targaryens – and their dragons – extended their writ over a mix of races and cultures.  People who had never been joined by a single monarch, kings whose lines extended back millennia to the Dawn Age, First Men and Andals and (eventually) Rhoynar, all bent the knee to these violet-eyed, silver-haired conquerors from another world.  Thus, to understand the history of Westeros, it is critical to understand the history of this dynasty,

So I, along with MilitantPenguin and SomethingLikeaLawyer, present to you “The Three Heads of the Dragon: Kings, Pretenders, and the Ladies of Fire”.  This, the first multi-author essay series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire, will explore the history of House Targaryen through its most notable individual members.  With these essays, we hope to investigate the history of the realm during the reign of the dragonlords, focusing on these men and women’s contributions to Westerosi history.

For my part of this essay series, I will be focusing on the ladies of the dynasty.  This essay series will explore those ladies born into the dynasty – the daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers of Targaryen kings – as well as the women who had a great impact on the dynasty’s history.   Though little (and less) is known about many of these women, I hope to explore some of the more fascinating members of this family, in order to understand House Targaryen’s rise and fall in Westeros.

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Holding the Throne: A Political Analysis of Aegon I



Aegon I Crowned by the High Septon, Artwork by Michael Komarck


In a two-plus year military campaign, Aegon I forged the single largest kingdom since Old Valyria, a feat never before equalled by a single conqueror. From the Wall to the Dornish Marches, there was one man and one throne in charge of a kingdom some four million square miles in size.

After his campaign, however, he was left in charge of a large and particularly quarrelsome kingdom, with grudges and blood feuds that went back to the Age of Heroes, and Aegon was left with the unenviable task of keeping this kingdom together. In this, he was tremendously successful: His actions propped up a dynasty that lasted for nearly three hundred years. Through war and peace, famine and plenty, the Targaryens led Westeros for 283 years. With geniuses and fools, warriors and scholars, the dynasty saw a range of colorful characters, most of whom managed to impart some part of their unique personalities onto the institution of the Iron Throne as a whole. For in-universe observers and for out-of-universe readers, each offers a lesson of leadership, even if it’s a cautionary tale of what not to do when in charge of a country.

Welcome to the first multi-author essay series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire, entitled: “The Three Heads of the Dragon: Kings, Pretenders, and the Ladies of Fire.” This series will take a comprehensive look at the Targaryen dynasty from inception to bloody demise, examining their strengths and weaknesses to better understand who they were, why they made the decisions they did, and the impact they had on Westeros as a whole. Militant_Penguin, Nfriel, and I will each take one aspect of the dynasty, and cast the analytical eye that War and Politics of Ice and Fire is known for upon those who fall under its critical gaze.

For my part, I will be focusing on the first head of the dragon, the actual kings who sat the Iron Throne, and specifically, the ones whose ascent to the Throne was acknowledged as legitimate (meaning that the Half-Year Queen and Trystrane Truefyre do not count, even though both sat on the Iron Throne and issued edicts as ruling monarch). Even without these colorful characters, there are still a wealth of things and characters to scrutinize. From Aegon I to Aerys II, these kings undoubtedly had widely differing politics and political philosophies, and naturally, these would shape much of what would happen in Westeros during their tenure.

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All the Spice You’ll Want: An Analysis of the new Winds of Winter Sample Chapter

As many of you know, George RR Martin released a new Winds of Winter sample chapter on April 2, 2015 from the perspective of Alayne (Sansa). So, of course we had to analyze it. In this special edition of the Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire podcast, the entire team delves into the chapter and the various plots, themes and characters revolving around the chapter including:

  • The history of this Winds of Winter chapter
  • The Conflict of Identity between Alayne & Sansa
  • Lynception
  • Myranda Royce, Frenemy
  • The Hunger Games of Lord Littlefinger
  • The Controversy Surrounding this Chapter (and the controversy about the controversy)
  • Our predictions for the future of Sansa Stark

Listen to us at the following places:

Thanks so much for listening and being our And if you’d like to follow along with the podcast, here are the notes that we used when we recorded!


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Summer’s Children, Winter’s Fury: The Loss of Innocence in The Winds of Winter: Part 1: No Sacrifice More Precious


At the end of A Dance with Dragons, winter has arrived with a vengeance throughout the realm, with snow driving not only in the usually frozen North but in the Riverlands and even down to the capital.  Yet the end of the long summer and autumn brings not merely a physical drop in temperature, but a thematic change in many characters.

With winter will come hardened spirits, colder attitudes, and the deaths of many innocents.

That winter means the end of innocence has been well established in the series:

Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well. (Eddard Stark, “Catelyn II”, A Game of Thrones)

“I pity them.”

“Why? Look at them. They’re young and strong, full of life and laughter …  Why pity?”

“Because it will not last. Because they are the knights of summer, and winter is coming.” (Catelyn Stark to Mathis Rowan, “Catelyn II”, A Clash of Kings)

 While summer and autumn lingered, the full effect of this connection could not be explored.  With winter as both the background and ,presumably, from the title, major theme of The Winds of Winter, however, I propose that much of the book’s focus will be on the transformation of characters we’ve already known over the past five books into harder versions of themselves.  Consequently, I believe this hardening of attitudes will drive characters to commit brutal actions against the young and innocent.  In particular, I want to focus my analysis on several upcoming plotlines that I believe will demonstrate this in  The Winds of Winter:

  • The sacrifices of Tommen and Shireen by the Sand Snakes and Melisandre, respectively
  • The political ambitions (and subsequent murders of child heirs) in the West, Vale, and King’s Landing
  • The brutal consequences of war as seen by a more Tywin-like Jon Connington and the death of Jeyne Westerling (among others) at the hands of the Brotherhood Without Banners
  • The power struggle for the North among Jon, Sansa, and Rickon

For all of these characters, The Winds of Winter will present them with the hardest choices they’ve yet faced, and turn them toward harsh, even brutal answers. Yet this brutality won’t be borne out in openly declared evil motivations, as GRRM himself has criticized in writing. Instead, it will come through very human and very real grievances. The time of mercy and justice has passed; the time of cold sacrifice and vengeance has arrived.

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The Murdered and Missing Part 1: The Murdered

A Faceless Man” by Fantasy Flight Games

A Song of Ice and Fire starts with 2 major mysteries. In the Prologue, we discover that the Others have mysteriously returned and in the King’s Landing chapters of A Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark investigates the death of Jon Arryn. Through it all, George writes mysteries but especially murder mysteries and strange disappearances with some relish. In this 2-part podcast series, the Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire podcast team investigates some of the famous and not-so-famous murders and disappearances in A Song of Ice and Fire. Today’s episode covers the murder side of the series. Today we cover the motivations, suspects and all the intriguing clues and possibilities of some of these infamous cases:

  • The Death of Ser Hugh of the Vale
  • Balon Greyjoy
  • Domeric Bolton
  • Little Walder Frey
  • The Meereenese Weavers
  • The Murder of Elia Martell

We also get to argue about Tywin Lannister at the end. Finally, we’re looking to have part 2 out in fairly short order as it’s already written!

Listen to us at the following places:


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Tower of the Hand: A Hymn for Spring Update

Hi everyone,

So, as many of you know (and have let me know here on Twitter and elsewhere), March 15th has come and gone and there’s no link to pre-ordering the next Tower of the Hand e-book entitled A Hymn for Spring. Why is that? Well, it’s a number of reasons, but most importantly our editor has had some very difficult events occur in his life. You can read all about it over on Tower of the Hand. But it’s not all bad news. If you click on the link, you’ll be able to read a sample essay by the inestimable Amin Javadi of A Podcast of Ice and Fire entitled “Songs and Singers of Ice and Fire: The fine line between music, history, and culture in Westerosi societies.” Believe me when I say that it’s awesome and really opened up a brand new avenue of thought on a section of the series I haven’t given a lot of thought to.

Anyways, we’re still on for an April 15, 2015 release date though! I’m not sure when pre-orders will be available, but it might be April 1, 2015 (And no, this is not an April Fool’s joke — I swear by the old gods and new).

But that’s not the only reason I wanted to write this post. There’s something really cool I want to announce: Today, I’m pleased to announce that SomethingLikeaLawyer will now have an essay published in the book entitled How to Win Thrones and Rule People – A Military and Political Analysis of Robert’s Rebellion. I’ve seen the rough draft for this essay, and I have to say that it’s crazy good.

For that matter, enough teases: I’ll announce my essay topic here too. My essay is entitled Iron Bends: Re-examining Stannis Baratheon. This essay analyzes Donal Noye’s infamous quote about Stannis as pure iron, hard and unyielding and deconstructs that along with the popular perception of Stannis among fans of A Song of Ice and Fire as well as characters in-universe.

But it’s not just Jim and I that have essays in this book, we have:

So, once pre-orders become available, I will sound the horn and let you all know. Until then, enjoy the sample over on Tower of the Hand, and be on the lookout!

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