Drogo has not been following Mirri’s instructions, and he is slowly dying. He ripped off the poultice she gave him because it itched. The herbwomen made him a new one with mud that was more soothing, but it has not been helping. Daenerys tries to get his attention as they ride, and he falls off his horse. Cohollo, Haggo, and Qotho ride up. Daenerys tells them they must halt and camp and sends Qotho to fetch Mirri, which he does only reluctantly. Irri and Doreah help Daenerys carry Drogo into his tent and Eroeh lights the braziers. Doreah and Jhiqui get him undressed. Aggo, Jhogo, Quaro, and Rakharo guard the entrance to the tent so no one will see him in his weak state. Jorah arrives and tells Daenerys to send her maids away. He peels the poultice and sees that the wound has festered terribly. He tells Daenerys that Drogo is as good as dead and they must flee before he dies. He says that Jhaqo and Pono and the other kos of the khalasar will fight to lead the khalasar and the winner will kill her child to eliminate a future rival.
Mirri arrives and tells Daenerys that Drogo will be dead by morning. Daenerys begs Mirri to save him, and Mirri says there is a way, a bloodmagic ritual, but there will be a price to pay: death. Daenerys tells her to do it. Mirri sends everybody out and tells Daenerys no one may enter once she begins. After Daenerys leaves, Mirri begins singing and dancing, and she does not seem to be dancing alone. Drogo’s bloodriders return and are horrified. Qotho makes for the tent. Quaro tries to stop him, but Qotho kills him. Jorah moves against him. Qotho wounds him in several places, but Jorah gets a good blow in and kills him. Rakharo and Jhogo take down Haggo. Cohollo grabs Daenerys, but Aggo kills him with an arrow. Daenerys has gone into labor. Jorah screams for the birthing women, but they will not come. Seeing no other choice, he takes her into Drogo’s tent.
It’s a sad thing to see a mighty man like Khal Drogo reduced to such a pitiful state, but at the same time, there is also this cruel satisfaction that there is some kind of karma in ASOIAF even though it does seem a little arbitrary and extreme in its ways. I would consider Drogo dead by the end of this chapter, though if I remember correctly, he does not technically die until Dany offs him in her next chapter. I guess if I were to get all poetic about it, I would say that Drogo was like the king of the jungle – he was neither good nor bad. He basically behaved the way he was raised and died the way that he was meant to; from a wound in battle. Like honestly, I can’t see any other way his life could have gone; this whole romping around in the Dothraki Sea picking off easy targets for ‘glory’ and living for the next great war with another khalasar, was ever only going to end with Drogo dead, whether in a month, a year or a decade. Still, there is a certain sadness to seeing the King dethroned because, just like in Robert’s case, I may not like the man but he sure was entertaining.
Dany finds herself in the wholly unenviable position of having to go into full damage control mode the second Drogo falls off his horse. The signs were all there though I can hardly fault Dany for not seeing them. What I find most interesting here is whether or not Mirri Maz Duur actually poisoned Drogo or whether he died of his own injuries. It says that he ripped off the poultice that she had made for him but was the poultice the one that turned a simple arrow wound into something so severe? From the last chapter, the impression I had was that the arrow wound that he had taken was a fairly simple wound and commonly treated by the eunuchs that followed the khalasar, but I know from basic medical knowledge that most antiseptics would burn and itch on a fresh wound and moreover, a mud plaster made from mud of questionable cleanliness would just be an open invitation to infection.
“…he began to scrape away the black leaves and dried blue mud from Drogo’s chest”
Black leaves and blue mud don’t exactly invoke images of purity and hygiene, you know? Based on all this, I think the most likely scenario is that Maz Duur did try to treat Drogo but after he went into his lethal coma she basically traded Rhaego’s life for his. Or something, we shall see next week.
This is perhaps the first trial of leadership that Dany has faced though it will certainly not be her last and in all honestly, she handles it pretty badly, but of course, it’s more than understandable given her age, inexperience and her own emotional investment in the situation. She seems far from rational here though, and one of the things that’s useful in a leader is a cool, level head. Targaryens as a rule don’t seem to have cool, level heads but Dany needs one if she wants there to continue being Targaryens.
“Ser Jorah gave a bitter laugh.”
I wonder at Jorah’s thought process here. He knows he cannot return to Westeros, not with Dany in tow but is Pentos and Illyrio barred to him as well? Once again, we return to the troublesome question of what exactly Varys and Illyrio’s motives are and since we’ve gone over this before and there’s no new information here, I’ll keep it brief. At this point in the story, has Jorah really betrayed Varys and Illyrio? Undoubtedly, he has gone against the Iron Throne’s wishes by obstructing the assassin but are Varys and Illyrio similarly unhappy that he’s done so? It isn’t clear and I can’t remember enough details from the rest of the story to say for sure one way or another.
“The winner will want no more rivals. The boy will be taken from your breast the moment he is born. They will give him to the dogs . . .”
So something here isn’t adding up. One on hand, the child will be killed the second he is born but if Drogo dies then doesn’t Dany get sent back to Vaes Dothrak anyway? So unless, Cohollo, Haggo and Qotho hate Dany enough to kill her son once they are on their way to Vaes Dothrak, the boy seems like he could be safe. Then again, the whole thing seems rather moot given that all three do seem to hate Dany enough and not fully without justification – if Dany had just picked her battles instead of butting in at the first given opportunity, there was a chance that Drogo might have been in a better place.
“You do not ask a slave,” Mirri replied sharply, “you tell her.”
Something about this sits wrong with me. It’s almost like Mirri is looking for a reason to hate Dany. She has enough ill-will towards the Dothraki to last ten lifetimes but it seems she needs a little more towards Dany personally before she can actually do what she does next.
“There is great healing magic in fire, even your hairless men know that.”
Outside the context of traditional medicine, this is interesting in what it might mean regarding R’hllor and his brand of magic. We have seen R’hllor’s powers allow resurrection and healing (Victarion’s hand) and it’s interesting to see that she seems to know something about this too. Or it could just be me reading too much into it – after all, fire was a common medical instrument back in the day. In any case, I’m curious as to what kind of price she paid for her knowledge, but I guess we won’t ever know.
“No,” Mirri Maz Duur promised. “Not your death, Khaleesi.”
Dany trembled with relief. “Do it.”
Some feels. Actually, many feels.
“I am khaleesi, and I say it is not forbidden.”
I think this basically sums up the problem I had with Dany but wasn’t able to sufficiently articulate previously. The Dothraki have been around for a lot longer than Dany and you have to admit that while they are hopeless primitive in some (most?) ways, they must have some collective knowledge and wisdom that allowed them to survive for so long as a civilization and you have to respect it even if you don’t agree with it. Dany just barges in with her ‘I’m from civilized places and therefore fuck all y’all mindset’ and this is the result. I guess it’s something that seems obvious in hindsight, but I do think I would have a problem with it even if everything turned out ok.
The chaos that follows is pretty sickening and Drogo’s bloodriders all die in it, but what I find to be the low blow is that Mirri implied that the horse was the price paid for Drogo’s life but once again I’m confused as to what exactly happened. It seems like Mirri was performing the ceremony just fine and that it was Dany’s unexpected arrival that turned everything wrong. Had Dany just wandered away like she was supposed to, I suspect that Drogo would still have been ‘comatose’ or whatever, but Dany would have been fine. After all, Mirri has no specific beef with Dany as far as I can tell but she would gladly see Drogo burn.