[Re-Read] A Clash of Kings – Dany I


Summary:

a-clash-of-kings

Daenerys decides to follow her comet wherever it may take her, though it leads her people through the barren red lands. Food is scarce and water scarcer, and men and horses begin dying daily, including Doreah. One day, she decides on names for her dragons, derived from those she has lost. Her green dragon is named Rhaegal, her cream-and-gold colored dragon is Viserion, and her black dragon is Drogon. They begin growing after she realizes they will only eat cooked meat. They finally come across a city. Though it is abandoned and ruined, there is water and fig trees. Irri and Jhiqui are scared there will be ghosts, but Daenerys decides they need to rest there and recover strength.

After they are settled in, Daenerys asks Ser Jorah about his wife, and he tells his story. Lynesse Hightower was his second wife, youngest daughter of Lord Leyton Hightower and grandniece of Lord Commander Ser Gerold Hightower of the Kingsguard. His first wife had been of House Glover, but in ten years of marriage that were more dutiful than passionate; she miscarried three times and died not long after the third. By the time his wife died, he was lord of Bear Island, as his father, Jeor, had joined the Night’s Watch, but before he could remarry, Balon Greyjoy declared himself a king. In the final assault on Pyke, Jorah was one of the first through the breach made in the castle wall, and he was knighted for valor. After the victory, a great tournament was held at Lannisport in celebration. Lynesse was there to see her brothers joust, and Jorah immediately fell for the maiden half his age. Jorah begged for and was granted her favor, and despite being an indifferent tourney rider, he overcame a string of formidable opponents culminating with a draw against Jaime Lannister after which Robert named him the victor. He crowned Lynesse queen of love and beauty and somewhat surprisingly gained Lord Leyton’s consent to wed her. For a fortnight they were happy, but then they returned to Bear Island, which was a simple place without any of the luxuries Lynesse was used to. Jorah went into debt acquiring a cook, a harper, jewels, and clothes, and built a ship so they could sail to Lannisport and Oldtown for festivals and fairs, but she was never happy and the money finally ran out. This is why he sold poachers into slavery and then fled to Lys with Lynesse rather than face Lord Eddard’s judgment. She left him after half a year and while he became a sellsword she moved into the manse of a merchant prince named Tregar Ormollen, where she is now his chief concubine. Jorah ends by saying Lynesse looked like Daenerys, and she realizes Ser Jorah wants her as a woman.

Daenerys’s people name the city Vaes Tolorro, the city of bones. She sends Aggo, Jhogo, and Rakharo in different directions to find civilization. Aggo and Rakharo return empty-handed, but Jhogo, who was following the path of the comet, discovers the city of Qarth and returns with three who would see dragons; the warlock Pyat Pree, Xaro Xhoan Daxos of the Thirteen and Quaithe of the Shadow.

Source

Commentary:

Ok, seriously, what is up with how long these chapters are? I don’t think I ever really noticed it before mostly because when you’re just reading, longer chapters are generally better (with notable exceptions, Brienne). Still, I can’t say I’m too unhappy; this is our first Dany chapter in ACoK and it is understandably long as we catch up with what Dany has been up to since that awe-inspiring end of her last chapter. Things haven’t been going too well for her and what strikes me as amusing about her predicament at the beginning of the chapter is that you know how in the movies and on TV you see these grand finale style climaxes were something awesome happens and then the camera cuts away? This chapter is essentially the aftermath of that where everyone goes ‘Ok, so that was cool and all, but now what?’ Dany shows them exactly what with some iffy leadership and decision-making but I’m not hating – she’s just making the best of a bad situation.

It is the herald of my coming, she told herself as she gazed up into the night sky with wonder in her heart.

We get yet another interpretation of the comet and what it all means. Normally, I would tend to give Dany’s interpretation a little more weight since the comet did seem to appear just as her dragons were born but I think after paying a little closer attention to the various interpretations, I can safely say that it’s all bullshit. Maybe the comet makes magic more powerful and it was summoned by Dany’s super-magic sacrificing or maybe  it was the other way around and a comet just happened to appear and all of a sudden everyone can magic again. I don’t know exactly, but I’m confident that the comet isn’t biased towards the politics of the Westeros and Essos. It’s just chilling and doing comet things.

They had been born from her faith and her need, given life by the deaths of her husband and unborn son and the maegi Mirri Maz Duur.

So, I think this is the clearest it’s going to ever be – as far as Dany is concerned, those three lives were traded for the lives of the three dragons. I find this slightly problematic in that her child perished quite a while before the whole dragon incident, right? From the way I remember the text, it was around a week or so, so it feels a little strange that the unborn child’s life was included in the ritual. Another part that doesn’t quite feel right to me is this business of how the dragons were named. So as far as I’m concerned, Drogon is the only name that makes perfect sense – Dany loved Drogo and it’s perfectly normal to name your dragon after a deceased loved one and it’s doubly apt when you sacrifice said loved one’s life for the dragon’s. Rhaegal is a little stranger but still acceptable – Dany admires Rhaegar (I can’t say she loves him, since she’s never really met him) and if she did sacrifice her unborn child (and what matters here is that she thinks she did, regardless of what precisely happened) who was to be named Rhaego, then Rhaegal is again apt in two ways. That just makes the last name kind of weird though – Viserion is named after a person who’s had a fairly negative impact on Dany’s life and while I can understand that she might still love her abusive brother (with all the unfortunate implications that come with that) I feel like Viserion got the short end of the stick because it’s named after a tool and its life (by the process of elimination) was bought by the death of a hated witch. That said, there is a tiny chance that I’m overthinking all of this.

If ever she had truly been a girl, that time was done.

Hmm, this is both true and false. Yes, Dany has been forced to age before her time and as shitty as it may sounds there is really nothing like adversity to force a person to mature. Yet at the same time, believing that facing adversity (and overcoming it I should add) in one area of life makes you an adult is a little short-sighted. Sure, she’s learned a great deal about trust and leadership and all that good stuff, but there’s a good bit more to being an adult that just that. For example, the whole business in Slaver’s Bay reveals more than a little bit of her naiveté and immaturity and while I don’t fault her for it, I think believing you’re an adult prematurely isn’t always the best course. To her credit, Dany does recognize several of the areas in which she lacks but remains understandably oblivious to the rest.

“No man should live longer than his teeth.”

I like little cultural references like this a lot. They really help flesh out the Dothraki people beyond just the raping and the pillaging and it really helps with the immersion and the world-building.

“This city is dead, Khaleesi. Nameless and godless we found it, the gates broken, only wind and flies moving through the streets.”

I’ve always wondered what exactly is up with this city. It reminds me a lot of a city from The Eye of the World (from The Wheel of Time series) that the protagonists run into when they need shelter except in that book, the city was actually haunted and sinister. This city seems merely abandoned and I don’t think that there’s any long-term (or short-term for that matter) negative effects that Dany’s lot experience as a result of their brief stay there. I do get the feeling that the city was inserted into the story because Martin needed a convenient place for Dany to be found by our three wise men because otherwise the city’s existence is almost baffling. It’s explained as being raided by the Dothraki but how would the Dothraki even find this place and why? It’s in the middle of a desert and even if they did find it, how did an entire khalasar get through the desert and back alive? I think a look at a map might help me out some here but I don’t have one handy and in any case, I don’t think it’s important enough a detail in the bigger scheme of things.

I had my share of fishwives and crofter’s daughters, before and after I was wed.

Does anyone else find it weird that he’s telling this girl (I can’t quite think of fourteen/fifteen year old Dany as a woman, I’m sorry) he likes that (and the fact that he likes her is a whole other can of worms, see below) that he cheated on his first wife? I mean, he does justify it by saying that the marriage wasn’t particularly passionate but still, he seems oddly proud of it.

By rights I should have gotten a contemptuous refusal, but Lord Leyton accepted my offer.

I wonder if we ever do find out why Leyton Hightower accepted such an offer. I mean, it’s not like Oldtown and Bear Island are even remotely near each other and I don’t think Jorah could have offered him a great deal in terms of dowry or anything like that. I guess his daughter just made that compelling a case? Or maybe he was just sick of Lynesse’s shit and wanted her gone and figured that Bear Island would be sufficient punishment for someone like her. Anyway, I’m beginning to understand just why Jorah is doomed to be forever alone.

When I heard that Eddard Stark was coming to Bear Island, I was so lost to honor that rather than stay and face his judgment, I took her with me into exile.

It’s nice of him to admit being a coward, but I don’t get why exactly he blames Ned for it. I mean, you get caught selling people and run away yet the guy who’s supposed to punish you is the bad guy? Get it together, Mormont, the first step to overcoming guilt is admitting you have a problem (I think?)

He loves me as he loved her, not as a knight loves his queen but as a man loves a woman.

Right, so this is where I have some issues. First of all, I don’t know how old Jorah is, but he says he was twice the age of his second wife, which would put him (conservatively) at around 30-35. Dany is 14, 15 if we’re being generous and while that means that by Westeros standards he’s a woman and all since only biology matters, I find it really, really weird that this dude is into girls young enough to be his daughter. I mean, yeah, love knows no boundaries and all of that but seriously, Mormont, get it together. The next thing is that I’m fairly sure that the ‘as a knight loves his queen’ isn’t all that far from ‘as a man loves a woman’ – it’s just the knights who try to go through with their queenly love just end up permanently blue-balled at best or executed at worst. I’m not saying every knight loves every queen but I suspect most knights that swear fealty to random queens aren’t just thinking of duty. Then again, what do I know about medieval psychology?

And what man could hope to rival Drogo, who had died with his hair uncut and rode now through the night lands, the stars his khalasar?

Well, not Jorah apparently, though Daario Naharis clearly has something that Jorah lacks. Maybe it’s the lack of old man smell or that feeling of fatherly affection. Who knows?

“Seek no more,” Daenerys Targaryen told them. “You have found them.”

Alright, so we coincidentally have three semi-important characters appear that will shape Dany’s plot for the rest of the book. First we have Pyat Pree, the hapless but dutifully malevolent warlock who will soon begin coveting dragons. Second we have Xaro Xohan Daxos, hereafter referred to as Ducksauce who…doesn’t do a whole lot but does reappear in ADwD. And lastly, we have Quithe whose sole purpose in this series apparently is to give Dany hints and nudges but to never outright tell her anything useful or important. We’ll see varying degrees more of this lot soon and I’ll spend more time talking about the first and the third because no one cares about Ducksauce.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s