Drogo tells Daenerys that he has no intention now to invade the Seven Kingdoms and goes off to hunt. Daenerys summons Ser Jorah as Irri, Jhiqui and Doreah attend her and tells him that he must help convince Drogo to march. He promises that they will go home, but they must be patient. To cheer her up, he tells her that a caravan led by a merchant captain named Byan Votyris has arrived, and Daenerys decides to go see it. She is accompanied by Irri, Jhqui, Doreah, Aggo, Jhogo, Rakharo, Quaro and Ser Jorah. They wander about for a while, and then Jorah goes off to see if Illyrio has sent any messages.
Eventually, Daenerys comes across a wineseller hawking his wares. When he learns Daenerys’s identity, he offers her a special cask of wine from the Arbor. Just then, Jorah returns and orders the merchant to open the cask and drink from it. The wine is poisoned, and the seller bolts instead, but is caught. Byan arrives and orders the man seized for the khal and gives the man’s stock to Daenerys. They return to her quarters, and Jorah explains that a letter arrived from Illyrio warning that Robert had offered a lordship for her death and that of her son. She suddenly eyes her dragon eggs and gets a strange idea. She has Jorah light the brazier and take his leave. When he is gone, she thrusts the eggs into the fire, but nothing happens. When Drogo returns and learns about the assassination attempt, he vows to take the Seven Kingdoms for his unborn son.
Is it just me or are the chapters getting really long? I don’t really mind since these are pretty eventful chapters but there’s so much to talk about that I’m having a tough time deciding the best way to organize it. I guess the most obvious point here is the vast irony of the assassination attempt being what changed the Dothraki from a distant threat to an eminent one but I don’t think that particular irony is particularly noteworthy given that nothing really panned out from Drogo’s declaration of war. If anything, I think it lost him a little bit of respect from his fellow warriors, who might have thought that Drogo had finally lost it – if I remember correctly, he already had a slight reputation for being unorthodox (not exceptionally so, but as we can tell from his choice of spouse, he’s not huge on tradition). I remember when I first read this series, I thought that Drogo’s death and thus his failure to make good on his promise here was a great deconstruction of your typical ‘badass starts a fight’ type trope, but now looking back, it feels a little empty. I think a big part of that is because I feel not enough has happened in Dany’s ‘real’ storyline (which is her conquest of Westeros) to justify taking Drogo out of the equation. I don’t know if I’m saying it right, but the basic idea is that if you’re going to kill off the person declaring war, at least follow his declaration up with some plot progression. It’s not to say that there’s been literally no plot progression, but there certainly hasn’t been enough.
“We will speak no more of wooden horses and iron chairs”
This is hilarious out of context and pretty funny even in it. The question is raised within the chapter itself what exactly the motivation would be for either Dany or Drogo to go to Westeros. They’ve never been there and there’s nothing waiting there. I don’t even know what Dany’s angle for persuading Drogo is – if it’s conquest there’s plenty of conquering to do in Essos itself and it’s not even like the Dothraki are conquerors so much as they are raiders. They’re like the mounted/land based version of the Ironborn. There’s a scary thought.
There’s a fair bit of worldbuilding here, some of which is interesting but none of which is really noteworthy in the bigger picture. My point above regarding what exactly is in Westeros for Dany is especially relevant given the serenity of Dany’s life as it currently is. There’s a nice mini-scene here with Dany enjoy sausages with here khas (wink wink) and even she herself comments on how life with the Dothraki has become home for her. In the long run though, I think she has the right of it – she’s not Dothraki and her displeasure at their savagery (which we will see soon) will probably mean that she would not enjoy her time with Drogo and company for long. I guess life so far has just been the honeymoon period.
I’ll skip the wineseller’s brave attempt at saving us from the nightmarishly boring time in Meeren for something a little more intereting: Dany’s sanity. We know she’s at risk from congenital madness but we’re in her head (and only her head) for a long, long time so we might not be the best judges of her madness level (or if it’s even there at all). Yet, there’s something here that caught my eye:
Was it madness that seized her then, born of fear? Or some strange wisdom buried in her blood?
This two things sound worryingly alike and honestly, while I don’t buy the whole wisdom buried in her blood bit (especially given how much her blood has diluted since the days of Aegon the Conqueror) I can’t help but think that every mad Targaryen might have had some kind of wisdom in his/her blood that led to some questionable decisions. Was it wisdom in the blood that led Aerion Brightflame to drink wildfire? I mean, it’s not more scientifically illogical than hatching eggs by burning them, if you think about it. In any case, I don’t think that Dany is mad, certainly not at this point in the story, but there are some troubling signs that I remember seeing as we get closer to ADWD. I’ll talk about those when we get there though.
“A letter to Viserys, from Magister Illyrio. Robert Baratheon offers lands and lordships for your death, or your brother’s.”
Once again, I am very confused as to what the Varys-Illyrio grand plan is. If I’m not missing anything (unlikely) the chronology is as follows:
- Viserys is to marry Arianne, Targaryens in Dorne possibly to act as distraction for Aegon VI. Where would the army for this distraction even come from? The Golden Company? Then what about Aegon?
- Dany married off to Drogo instead. New plan is that Viserys marries Arianne and Dany, Drogo and Dothraki invade Westeros to distract Robert till Aegon is ready. This is a somewhat better plan, but relies on Drogo being convinced to launch the invasion and Viserys patiently waiting. Illyrio should know that this plan is doomed to fail, which makes think that it was supposed to fail. In any case, it would occupy Robert given his obsession with the Targaryens.
- Dany pregnant, Robert tries to get her killed off. Varys tells Illyrio, who then informs Jorah but clearly they are fine if the attempt succeeds. They are not going to any real lengths to protect Dany or Viserys (who as far as they know, is still alive).
- At this point, I think the plan begins to evolve because so far, Dany is proving to be a much better distraction than they could have hoped for, but now Robert is dead so the focus shifts to ensuring the War of the Five Kings goes on for as long as possible and is as bloody as possible.
We’ll deal with the rest as we come to it. For the time being though, it’s enough to watch and observe.