In Part 1, we discussed the intertwining of marriage, love, and prophecy that plagued the generations of Prince Rhaegar’s grandfather and father, and the impact this intertwining had on the prince’s own life. In Part 2, we investigated the marriage of Rhaegar, Prince of Dragonstone, to Elia Martell, Princess of Dorne. In Part 3, we examined Lyanna Stark and the web of alliances woven by her father Rickard (along with several other high lords) referred to as “southron ambitions”. In Part 4, we considered the causes of, and notable events during, the great tourney thrown at Harrenhal in 281 AC, the so-called “Year of the False Spring”.
Though the tourney had attracted nearly all the high lords of Westeros – Lords Arryn, Baratheon, Tyrell, and (probably) Tully all attended, as well as the heir to the North and Prince Oberyn of Dorne – one great lord was notably absent: Tywin Lannister. The “Lion of the West” had reached a breaking point with his royal patron, preferring to brood in his great Rock than face a king who openly despised (and feared) him. Brooding – for more than one reason – with him was his beautiful (and still very eligible) maiden daughter, Cersei. Father and daughter had hoped for her to be queen, but instead of allying with the dragons, each would assist in cementing their downfall.
Editor’s Note: This essay contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter. As it’s been a while since I’ve covered Daenerys in The Winds of Winter, I’d encourage you all to read part 1 and part 2 if you’d like to refresh on my ideas on Dany’s torn conception of motherhood, struggles with prophecy/magic and predicting her early Dothraki arc in The Winds of Winter. Finally, I’ll hope to have an audio recording of this essay soon! Follow us on twitter to find out the latest on when that will occur!
Artwork by Erisiar
Daenerys Targaryen’s initial forays in The Winds of Winter hint at a return to Vaes Dothrak and a prophetic identity further reforged by Dothraki mores. But Daenerys’ war is not in the Dothraki Sea or Essos. Her war is in Westeros. But before Daenerys can return to Westeros, however, she has to return to Meereen (a city that Martin himself once wondered whether he could drop a hydrogen bomb on).
The Meereen Daenerys returns to will not be the relatively peaceful (even with the tensions bubbling just below the surface) city she ruled as queen. Meereen will have gotten its own share of fire and blood from the great battle there opening The Winds of Winter, as well as from her two other dragon children. Moreover, from this great conflict will emerge three people (or, to be more specific, two individuals and one group of people) all seeking to win Daenerys’ favor. Each of them will tug her in a direction that the mhysa queen willing to sacrifice on behalf of peace in A Dance with Dragons would never have adopted – toward violence, magic, and the fiery faith of R’hllor.
But it would be a mistake to assert that Dany’s actions and impact will come solely at behest of the designs of others. Daenerys will make fateful, violent decisions based on her perceptions of injustice in the city of Meereen, and it won’t simply be the guilty who will suffer from them. Much as it was in with the crucifixion of Great Masters and the torture of the wineseller’s daughters, innocent and guilty alike will suffer from the dragon’s mercy in Meereen.
The impact of these choices will further Daenerys’ transformation in The Winds of Winter, from a planter of trees to a reborn dragon.
Editor’s Note: This post contains (very!) minor spoilers for The Winds of Winter
In Part 1, we discussed the problems of marriage, love, and prophecy that both preceded and presaged the life of Rhaegar Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone. In Part 2, we investigated the marriage and relationship of Rhaegar and his wife, Elia of Dorne. In Part 3, we examined Lyanna Stark, and her place in the “southron ambitions” of her father Rickard. As the only daughter of the Lord of Winterfell, Lyanna was a fair prize for any man; Rickard, however, broke the internal marriage tradition prevalent throughout Westeros and betrothed her to Robert Baratheon, the young and vigorous Lord of Storm’s End.
To what extent Rhaegar, and his father King Aerys, were aware of this betrothal (and the other pacts made among Lords Stark, Tully, Arryn, and possibly Lannister) is speculative at best. Married himself, the Prince of Dragonstone certainly had no obvious political desire in the daughters of his future lords bannermen. Yet apart from his future political inheritance, Rhaegar nursed a lifelong obsession with prophecy, and especially the identity of the foretold prince that was promised.
In 281 AC, the political and the prophetic collided at a great event known as the Tourney of Harrenhal. The tourney would draw together virtually all of the important players in Westeros, and the actions undertaken – by Rhaegar and others – would change the fates of Westeros and House Targaryen forever.
I’ve been planning to write this post for a while but just hadn’t found the time or the inspiration to do so. I have long since considered the death of Domeric Bolton to be a mystery that is often looked over or dismissed by fans as just another one of Ramsay’s many, many crimes. However, I have a different theory about who could have possibly killed Domeric that could cast doubt on the assumed guilt of Ramsay Snow. This is a topic that I have been contemplating and theorising about since last year so I hope you enjoy reading it as much I enjoyed writing it.
Rickard Stark, by Elia Mervi
Rickard Stark was responsible for much of Westeros’s recent history. From marriage alliances to civil war, all of it can be traced back to the political machinations of one Lord Paramount. A long-faced, stern man, Rickard was the only child of Edwyle Stark and Marna Locke that survived to adulthood, and married his second cousin once removed Lyarra Stark, bringing together two distant branches of the family. The North, a remote and distant kingdom, did not interact much with the southern kingdoms. After all, only one King-Beyond-the-Wall ever strove against Westeros to mandate the Warden of the North having his position activated, and the Starks and Umbers defeated him before the rest of Westeros would have even been able to make the march north. Indeed, the North only ever seemed to involve themselves in eras of instability, good examples being Rickon Stark fighting in Daeron’s conquest of Dorne or Beron Stark allying with Tybolt Lannister to fight off rebelling Greyjoys, but little is said about the North involving themselves in the greater Westerosi political picture over the three-hundred tenure of the Targaryen kings. Torrhen Manderly was involved in the regency and administration of the early reign of Aegon III, but the Manderlys have many southron traditions and leanings, which coupled with their extensive political support of Rhaenrya Targaryen in the Dance, does not detract overmuch from Northmen largely involving themselves with the North and not the larger picture of Westeros. Cregan Stark best emphasizes what appears to be the common pattern of Northern involvement: fulfill your oaths and bring stability, perhaps with a marriage to help keep the peace. Perhaps they smoldered over the New Gift being ceded from the North to the Night’s Watch, or perhaps the courts and pageantry of the south were simply too foreign and too distant for the much more personal and direct politics of the North for the Northmen to feel any especial kinship. But all of that would change when it was Rickard Stark’s time to sit as ruling lord of Winterfell.