The Dragon’s Mercy: The Violent Future Path of Daenerys Targaryen, Part 4: The Embers of Essos

Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for The Winds of Winter. If you haven’t already, please check out the first 3 parts prior to reading this part, check ‘em out! (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Mercy, thought Dany, They shall have the dragon’s mercy (ADWD, Daenerys II

Artwork by Tomasz Jedruszek


Fire and blood. Dany’s arc in A Dance with Dragons ends with her recognition that dragons plant no trees and that her words are “fire and blood” – not just as the house words of her dynasty, but as her personal motto validating her rediscovered turn towards the mother of dragons and a violent vision of prophecy.

In The Winds of Winter, that recognition and acknowledgement of her true self will morph into action. Early through her Winds of Winter arc, she’ll bring her mother of dragons persona and vengeance to Khal Jhaqo & the Dothraki. But after she unites a giant khalasar by fire and blood, she’ll turn her dragon’s mercy to Meereen. Nor will her full wrath end at the pyramids of Meereen. Instead, I believe that the city  will be a mere stepping stone to the full expression of the dragon’s mercy.

Aiding Daenerys in her conquest will be new advisers and groups whose personalities and aims look to keep Daenerys’ footing firmly tied to her identity as the mother of dragons.

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The Silken Glove and the Iron Gauntlet: The Troubled Reigns of Aenys and Maegor

Aegon had two sons. Aenys was his son with Rhaenys. Maegor with Visenya. One was a well meaning weakling. The other was a brutally violent tyrant who seized power by murdering his nephews.

The Two Sons of Aegon the Conqueror, by Hubsher

Aegon I would rule the Seven Kingdoms for thirty-seven years. After the conclusion of the First Dornish War in 13 AC, the realm enjoyed peace and prosperity for almost twenty-five years. Yet it would be foolish to mistake the calm exterior for genuine peace. None of Aegon’s new-formed vassals could contend with the dragon-king because of his incredible war prowess, his dragon, and a lack of support that could tilt the scales in a campaign.

Still, the appearance of peace might have eventually led to real peace, especially if Aegon’s sons could fulfill the father’s promise.  Both seemed poised to do so.  Though Aenys himself was not a particularly skilled warrior, he rode the dragon Quicksilver, and all of Westeros knew the power of dragons, even young ones. His brother Maegor was a skilled warrior, earning a knighthood at a young age and routinely defeating men with many times his experience in matters of the blade. The two together could be everything that Aegon was, perhaps even greater.  So, when Aegon died in his early to mid sixties, Aenys ascended the throne. Everything was, if not perfect, at least manageable.

Yet both Aenys and Maegor would learn, through a series of political blunders, that manageable would soon become anything but.

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A Hymn For Spring Released!

Hymn Cover

We’ve been talking about it for a while, but now, the Kindle release of A Hymn for Spring is live on Amazon and ready for your reading pleasure. BryndenBFish and I both have contributed essays for the book, and we’ve been waiting eagerly for our readers to dive into them. Jeff goes into great depth explaining how Stannis Baratheon proves to be one of the most flexible commanders and claimants to the Iron Throne in the face of Donal Noye’s quote about Stannis being “hard and brittle,” offering the readers an alternate view of one of the most controversial candidates in the books and decisively proving the equation Stannis = Mannis. I discuss Robert’s Rebellion, drawing parallels between campaigns as varied as the Scipian campaign in Hispania against Hasdrubal Barca to the Sekigahara campaign between Ishida Mitsunari and Tokugawa Ieyasu. I also offer a revised look at Robert Baratheon himself and discuss what kind of commander could successfully overthrow an entrenched political dynasty, a sample of which follows:

“It’s easy to dismiss Robert Baratheon as an oaf guided by his intellectual superior, Jon Arryn. Robert was skilled in matters relating to the warhammer certainly, and charming as anyone when it came to making friends (his bastards did not father themselves, after all), but not skilled in anything requiring critical thought. Many point to his absentee rule as king as evidence for this argument, but the battle of Summerhall, Robert’s first battle as sole commander, highlights Robert’s keen tactical mind and stands a stern rebuttal to any who believe Robert to have been uneducated or moronic.”

But it’s not just us. You can also read Steven Attewell of Race for the Iron Throne explain how Machiavellian principles only get players in the game of thrones so far and how Littlefinger swindled Westeros. Stefan Sasse of The Nerdstream Era discusses how the Great Fathers of Westeros exert influence and exact a heavy due on Westeros as a whole, the myriad factors that went into the First Blackfyre Rebellion, and the psychological makeup of Barristan Selmy. Amin Javadi of A Podcast of Ice and Fire presents a unique look at the series through examining the singers and minstrels of the story, and the importance of songs to the social fabric and traditions of the mostly-illiterate Westeros. The History of Westeros podcast duo Aziz and Ashaya offer a thorough examination of Harrenhal and debate who among the castle’s many lords did the Curse of Harrenhal strike.  John Jasmin of the Tower of the Hand uses board games to offer a surprising and refreshing take on Martin’s work. Finally, Alexander Smith concludes the book decisively by comparing the book series to the show, using six characters as his lens to discuss where the show improves upon the titular work, and where it falls short.

Let us know what you think!

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The Merman’s Ambitions

We all know Wyman Manderly, Lord of White Harbor, keeper of a number of titles, baker of tasty pies and deliverer of rallying speeches.  We know he is a pronounced Stark loyalist, despite his seeming ingratiation into the Bolton regime, and that what he desires most is to place a Stark in Winterfell again – a noble sentiment from the Manderlys’ continued devotion to the Starks.

At least, this is what Manderly appears to be on the surface.  What I want to explore in this essay is what is going on beneath the surface.  Specifically, I want to suggest that Manderly is not simply “the North remembers” or the public face for righteous vengeance , but a canny and politically ambitious man.  Indeed, Manderly is interested in a Stark restoration not for the symbolic gain of the North, but for the political and material gain of House Manderly.

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


Hello and welcome once again to “Three Heads of the Dragon: Kings, Pretenders, and the Ladies of Fire”, the first multi-author series for Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire.  This series will explore the Targaryen dynasty from inception to destruction, and my pieces – the “Ladies of Fire” – will focus on the ladies of the dynasty – both those born into the red-and-black and those who had a great influence on the dynasty.

In my first part of this series, we explored Rhaenys Targaryen, the younger sister and queen of Aegon I Targaryen.  Yet although she was more favored by Aegon, Rhaenys was not her brother’s only wife – or only sibling. Older than both was Visenya Targaryen, who would prove to be a fearsome queen in her own right.

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

As part of our series on the Targaryen Dynasty, The Three Heads of the Dragon: Kings, Pretenders, and the Ladies of Fire, I will be covering the pretenders (in whatever form they may take) of the Targaryen Dynasty. The first installment will be examining the life of Orys Baratheon – the rumoured bastard half-brother, best friend, and general of Aegon the Conqueror.

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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. As always, feel free to check out our podcast notes on the topic.

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.


Filed under ASOIAF Analysis, ASOIAF Character Analysis, ASOIAF Podcast