[Re-Read] A Clash of Kings – Daenerys III


Summary:

a-clash-of-kings

Daenerys rides in a palanquin with Rhaegal and Xaro as Jhogo clears a path. She has just spoken to the Pureborn of Qarth, who has refused her plea for aid in retaking Westeros. They never meant to help her; they only came because they were curious. Aggo and Rakharo are also guarding her. Many people had come to see her dragons and brought gifts that she used to bribe three members of the Pureborn, Egon Emeros, Mathos Mallarawan, and Wendello Qar Deeth. She sold everything she had received except for a crown given to her by the Tourmaline Brotherhood. She will not sell it because Viserys was known as the begger king after selling his mother’s crown. She tries once again to convince Xaro to help, but as ever, he will not. The palanquin stops suddenly. Jhogo tells her a performing firemage is the cause. Daenerys wants to see, and Jhogo helps her out. He also points out a cutpurse working the crowd. When the show is over, Quaithe approaches. She says that the firemage could do almost nothing half a year ago, but his powers are growing because of Daenerys’s dragons. Quaithe says Daenerys must leave Qarth soon. Daenerys asks where she should go, and Quaithe responds, “To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.” Daenerys realizes Quaithe wants her to go to Asshai. Daenerys asks what Asshai has that Qarth does not, and Quaithe says that Asshai has truth. They return to Xaro’s palace, and Daenerys feeds Rhaegal, Viserion, and Drogon. They are twice the size they were in Vaes Tolorro, but still not big enough for her needs. Jorah comes to see Daenerys. He says they should leave soon and go east. She disagrees and thinks they should return west. Jorah argues that, even if Illyrio were to hire sellswords for her, landing on Westeros with a foreign army would not be a good way to win over her people. She finally decides that her comet led her to Qarth for a reason and that she must see the warlocks.

Source

Commentary:

I think ACOK has the perfect dosage of Dany for me. We get long, informative updates on what she’s been up and what she’s planning but we blissfully avoid all the inane rubbish she goes through in the interim. So, on one hand, AFFC was awful because there was no Dany (well, ok, it awful for a bunch of reasons and the lack of Dany was the least of them) but ADWD was bad too because there was just way too much Daario and Dany. Mostly too much Daario, but Dany didn’t help at all either. Still, I’ll save my bitching for when we get there. For now, Dany has to make her way through the complicated politics of the inconsequential city of Qarth. There are some times, not often but definitely more than once, when I wished that Martin’s world wasn’t quite so detailed. In the bigger scheme of things, I really don’t want or need to know about Qarth and what they get up to there. Sure, it adds ‘flavour’ and makes the world feel lifelike and those are important things but I can’t help but wonder whether we could have had a sixth/seventh book by now if some of this stuff wasn’t so painstakingly explored.

They never saw me for a queen, she thought bitterly. I was only an afternoon’s amusement, a horse girl with a curious pet.

Well, that might just be because you were never a queen of anything and your dragons are currently literally as dangerous as housecats. This is something of a repeating trend with Dany – she has this notion that she is the queen of Westeros, which is fine if she keeps it to herself but it sounds absolutely ridiculous when she has neither stepped foot in nor seen Westeros. Furthermore, her being queen of Westeros has literally no relevance to most of the situations she finds herself in. In Qarth, no one cares that she’s ‘queen’ of some places on the other side of the world. Sure, they might give her a little more respect since they’re born and bred to treat queens (even of the questionable sort) with more respect but the truth is that she is nothing more than a curiosity, and whatever blue-blooded street cred she might have had evaporated when she walked into Qarth dressed as a horse girl, surrounded by decrepit Dothraki. It’s not exactly an intimidating image, is it?

Daenerys Targaryen had wanted that fleet, or part of it, and some of their soldiers as well.

Here we go again. What kind of bargaining tools does she have exactly? She can only beg and plead for ships but even then, it would be a poor investment on the part of any nobleman. She has no seasoned battle commander in her ranks that would inspire confidence in any potential backer and the problems of a land half a world away is unlikely to raise much sympathy in people. Furthermore, the promise of gold and riches doesn’t seem like it would do much for the elite in Qarth who seem to have more gold than they know what to do with. I guess, to be fair to Dany, it’s not like she has a whole bunch of choice, does she? She can either sail back to the Free Cities, where she will be something of a joke – the Dothraki widow who wants to be Queen of Westeros – or she can go back to Vaes Dothrak and end all pretensions to the throne. Neither is particularly appealing and so here we are, watching her back and plead foreigners, with no stake in anything she says, for the resource to retake her homeland.

The crown was the only offering she’d kept.

This is somewhat interesting. I wonder what happens to this crown? It’s not really important in the bigger scheme of things, but my curiosity is piqued. I guess it must have gotten pawned off along the way, or replaced with the Meerenese crown at some point.

Part of her would have liked nothing more than to lead her people back to Vaes Tolorro, and make the dead city bloom. No, that is defeat.

Hmm, now this is actually interesting. In light of how Dany is divided in persona between the Mother figure that she represents to the liberated slave versus the aggressive, violent mother of dragons she is to her enemies, the above quote seems to foreshadow the conflict within her. Part of her wants peace and prosperity and hence the desire to see Tolorro grow and bloom but the other, more Targaryen part knows that dragons sow no seeds and that the only real path she can ever take is one of death and destruction. Whether or not this is a good quality in a leader and a future queen isn’t clear just yet.

“Half a year gone, that man could scarcely wake fire from dragonglass”

I have asked this before and I will ask it again. Surely there are dragons in other parts of the world? If that’s the case, then why are Dany’s dragons so specifically associated with the return of magic? It would be one thing if her dragons were the only dragons in the whole world but if I’m remembering correctly, we are told explicitly that dragons still exist in Asshai. The other thing is this relation between fire and dragonglass. Now, I’m pretty sure that dragonglass is obsidian which would mean that if fire can somehow be conjured out of dragonglass, the Wall might be better defended by dragonglass than we first assumed.

“To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

Ok, so it’s time to open up the map. I’m always amazed to find just how east Qarth is – if I’m not wrong, Qarth remains the easternmost city we have ever seen in the series. This particular prophecy is one of the most frustrating in the series since it doesn’t seem like it could ever make sense. At this point in the story, I just can’t see Dany jaunting off to Asshai and it would be incredibly lame for her to roam through Asshai only to turn up at Lannisport or Oldtown. As of now, I can’t see her journeying north or south either so I guess we’re going to have to think of more imaginative ways that this prophecy can make sense. What I don’t get is why Quaithe can’t just spit out what exactly she means and be done with it. It’s clear that Quaithe has some kind of power but until we know what exactly it is but we have no idea what it is and at this point it seems unlikely that we’ll ever find out.

“Such truths as the Asshai’i hoard are not like to make you smile.”

You would think that Dany would have learned about messing around with sorcerers and witches by now, don’t you? In any case, statements like the above just make me want to go to Asshai and see what exactly is going on there that is so very fearsome. Do the Others even exist in these continents or are they specifically a Westerosi problem? I know I’m rambling here but I also find it really strange that in all this time, Quaithe is literally the only person from Asshai that we ever see.

“Even if Illyrio is the friend you think him,” the knight said stubbornly, “he is not powerful enough to enthrone you by himself, no more than he could your brother.”

Well, that remains to be seen, doesn’t it? Had Dany returned to Illyrio instead of moping about in Slaver’s Bay, I’m sure she could have gotten the Golden Company to fight for her – or she could have gotten Aegon VI to fight for her, which would amount to the same thing. It’s interesting that the readers have a much greater respect for Illyrio’s influence and power than the characters do. Tyrion dismisses the man as a cheesemonger the first time he meets him and it’s only after seeing all the intrigue that Illyrio is caught up in that Tyrion begins to realize how well-connected Illyrio really is. Whether or not he actually helps Dany in the end isn’t clear though it would seem likely that Illyrio and Dany never cross paths again.

 

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