Mar 29 2013 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Storm of Swords, Part 24

A Readthrough of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire on Tor.comWelcome back to A Read of Ice and Fire! Please join me as I read and react, for the very first time, to George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Today’s entry is Part 24 of A Storm of Swords, in which we cover Chapter 42 (“Daenerys”).

Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on Any spoileriffic discussion should go there, where I won’t see it. Non-spoiler comments go below, in the comments to the post itself.

And now, the post!

Scheduling note: The fifth annual JordanCon, and my duties as its Toastmaster, doth frighteningly rapidly approacheth! Therefore! The Read of Ice and Fire will be on hiatus! For the Fridays of both April 19th and 26th! Take note!



Chapter 42: Daenerys

What Happens
Dany observes the five thousand soldiers barring her way to the city Yunkai. Jorah tells her that though the Yunkish slave soldiers are not nearly the equal of her Unsullied, they will not defeat this army without significant bloodshed. Dany orders that the leaders of the two mercenary groups as well as the slavers be brought to her to talk, but not together. She goes then and speaks to Grey Worm, the Unsullied the others had decisively selected to be their commander, and tells him when they fight, to let go any slave who runs or surrenders. She moves on, observing the ragtag camp of the tens of thousands of new freedmen who’d chosen to follow her rather than stay in Astapor. She knows they are “more burden than benefit,” but cannot bring herself to abandon them.

Soon Jorah brings the three leaders of the first mercenary group, the Stormcrows, to Dany’s tent. Their spokesperson, Prendahl na Ghezn, tells her Yunkai will not fall as easily as did Astapor. Dany observes that she has ten thousand Unsullied to the Stormcrows’ five hundred, and wonders what will happen to them when the other mercenary group (the Second Sons) turns against them and joins her. She offers them a share in the plunder and more rewards later if they join her. Prendahl calls her “a horselord’s whore” and declares he will “breed her to his stallion,” but Dany merely smiles and says she needs their answer by the next day. She notes that the third captain, Daario Naharis, looks back and nods to her as they leave.

The captain of the Second Sons, Mero aka the Titan’s Bastard, makes crude and overt sexual advances to Dany. She ignores them and urges him to either take his gold and flee the field unharmed, or come fight for her instead. Mero replies that he has made oath to Yunkai, but would consider it in return for Dany’s favors in bed. Jorah grows angry, but Dany only asks him to consider her offer, and also gifts him with a wagonful of wine to take back to his men. After he leaves, both Arstan and Jorah urge Dany not to trust Mero, and opine that there is no hope of turning the Stormcrows either.

The Yunkai arrive in the evening, led by a man named Grazdan mo Eraz, who tells Dany that she will be deafeated and made a slave herself in a pleasure house if she attacks, but offers her fifty thousand golden marks if she retreats. She replies that she gives them three days to release every slave they have, and in return she will not raze Yunkai. He calls her mad, and she has Drogon set his clothes on fire. Arstan puts the flames out, and she kicks them out. Once they are gone, she gives orders to mount an attack that night; Jorah is shocked as the others initially, but then remarks that she is Rhaegar’s sister.

Near the time of their attack, Jorah brings her Daario Neharis, who’d been caught sneaking into their camp. Daario declares that he has brought her the Stormcrows, and as proof shows her the heads of Prendahl and the third captain. He declares his prowess in flowery language and pledges his devotion and love to her. Dany answers that he will fight for her that night, then, overriding Jorah’s objections. After Daario leaves, Jorah continues to protest until Dany loses her temper and tells him that she respects him but will never desire him, and she will no longer tolerate his efforts to make sure she is the only man she relies upon. Jorah goes stiff and cold, and leaves.

Unable to sleep while the battle goes on, she summons Arstan and asks for stories about her brother Rhaegar. Arstan tells her that Rhaegar was a great warrior, but seldom entered the lists for tourneys, preferring his harp to the lance. He says, however, that Rhaegar won the greatest tourney of them all, at Harrenhal in the year of the false spring. Dany recognizes it as the one in which Rhaegar crowned Lyanna Stark as the “queen of love and beauty” even though his wife Elia and Lyanna’s betrothed were both there, and later stole her away. Dany says Viserys told her it was her fault, for being born too late to be Rhaegar’s wife and make him happy, but Arstan opines that Rhaegar was not made for happiness, but rather had an air of doom about him his whole life.

Jorah returns to report that the Stormcrows turned coat as promised, and the Yunkai surrendered with no more than a dozen losses on their side. Dany is pleased, and orders that any who wish to pledge her their faith may do so. The next day she rides to Yunkai’s walls, to watch the freed slaves leaving the city. The slaves begin shouting a word she does not recognize, and Missandei explains that they are calling her “Mother.” The chant spreads among the thousands of slaves exiting the walls until it becomes a roar, and they throng about her; her riders grow nervous, but Dany laughs, remembering her vision from the House of the Undying, and tells them these are her children.

“Mother,” they called from a hundred throats, a thousand, ten thousand. “Mother,” they sang, their fingers brushing her legs as she flew by. “Mother, Mother, Mother!”

Well, that’s not symbolic or anything.

I should probably go back and look at that chapter where Dany had all the visions so I can know which one this refers to, but I think I’m going to refrain from that just yet, and maybe instead go back and look at them once I’ve gotten to the end of this book.

So, Dany did two things here of which I approve wholeheartedly in principle but am getting pretty leery about from a practical perspective. The first is her apparent crusade to free all the slaves in what is apparently the least human-rights-friendly region of this world (which is really saying something). Which I am very glad of, on the one hand, because, you know, fuck slavery. Nor did I miss Dany’s thoughts about her own barrenness and how these are the only “children” she’ll ever have, which, well, there you go.

But on the other, Jorah’s concerns about the problem of dealing with an ever-growing population of completely untrained and underequipped “soldiers” who meanwhile still have to be fed and provided for is a very valid concern. She’s going to have to come up with a viable solution to that situation, stat, and I for one have no idea what it could be.

The second thing, of course, is Dany’s blowup at Jorah himself. Which again, on the one hand I applaud because EXACTLY, but on the other makes me very nervous about the future disposition of Jorah’s loyalty. Dany recalls the prophecy saying that she will be betrayed twice more, for gold and for love, and my money’s still solidly on Jorah for the latter.

The saying is that “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” but I’ve never understood why that proverb singles out women, because have you seen what men do when they think they’re being humiliated over love? Going batshit crazy about jealousy/cuckolding/unrequited love – going batshit about love in general, actually – is most definitely not a gender-specific trait, is what I’m saying.

Although men’s propensity for immediately going straight to the “you’re a whooooooore” insult bin anytime they are confronted with an Uppity Chick Who Doesn’t Know Her Place™, that’s… actually, no, women do that too, never mind. In fact it’s sort of more upsetting when other women do it, because really?, but it’s definitely more rampant – and threatening – coming from men.

So I have to give Dany super-kudos for how well she handled the absolute avalanche of that bullshit she received in this chapter, because wow. Her playing up the “Oh, I’m just a poor stupid girl” thing was hilarious, in fact, and she got off some pretty decent zingers in return. You go, girl.

Also: Oh ho! Sneaky Dany, attacking in the night! Underhanded, yes, but I’m pretty sure what she did actually assured the least amount of life lost on both sides possible, so I’ll take it.

I was going to be upset that we didn’t get to see the battle, until I realized that I actually didn’t give a crap about seeing a battle that was pretty much a foregone conclusion. The info we got instead about Rhaegar was much more interesting.

…if not too terribly informative, at least not as far as I can tell. Because c’mon, I already knew that Rhaegar stole Lyanna from Robert, and that that was basically what precipitated Robert’s uprising against the Targaryens, or kickstarted it anyway, but I want the DETAILS of this whole thing. Mainly, why I seem to be getting hints that Rhaegar is not the two-timing douchebag the bare facts of the situation make him out to be. ‘Cause, you know, on the face of it, this is a dude who threw over his wife and mother of his children, in order to snake another dude’s fiancée, right in front of him AND HIS OWN WIFE. In public. Which is about the textbook definition of How To Be A Massive Dick, And Not In The Good Way.

So, either there is a hell of lot more to this story than we’ve been told so far, or – no, you know what, that is totally what it is, and I am getting a wee bit annoyed that I still don’t even understand how or why Lyanna died, much less exactly what went down at this tournament, except that it was apparently the equivalent of about seven years’ worth of Days of Our Lives plotlines crammed into one weekend. Or week, or however long tournaments take. Somebody just needs to cough that story up already, seriously.

Other, more random notes:

“Yunkish”: Is it terrible that the first thing I thought of on seeing this word is how it would be a great portmanteau of “young” and “hunkish”? Yes, yes it is terrible? Yeah, thought so. Sorry!

On reading the descriptions of the crazy fashions of the Yunkai’i and sellswords in this chapter, I am rather bemused at the notion of soldiers whose toilette is not as simple and easy as possible. Like the nail polish; if I can’t keep nail polish from chipping immediately to save my life, when generally the most strenuous thing I do with my fingers is type, then how does that work for dudes who fight for a living?

And this is not even mentioning the hairstyles. Does no one care about lice in this world? And isn’t it a tactical disadvantage? Like, isn’t having a beard that goes down to your chest, for example, just an invitation for someone to grab it in battle and pull you off balance? Because that might not sound like a big deal, but in close quarters combat that’s more than enough to get you killed. All it takes is a moment.

That said, I totally want to see a guy with his hair in a unicorn’s horn, because that is awesome. Giggle-worthy in the extreme, but also awesome. Screw mohawks, y’all, this should totally be the next big thing in alternative men’s hairstyles. MAKE IT SO.

Also, Dany talks in this chapter about how big her dragons are going to grow, and maybe I’m just focusing too much on stupid details but the only thing that made me think of was yes, but how are you going to feed three dragons when they’re each the size of a house? Because, damn. The Internet tells me that a lion – which is a hell of a lot smaller than a house – eats on average 15 pounds of meat a day. So according to my completely scientific and totally non-pulled-from-ass extrapolation from that, your average house-sized dragon would probably need to eat, like, at least a whole horse a day, right? So that’s three horses a day, or twenty-one horses a week, or thirty ninety horses a month! (Math is hard!) What I’m saying is, that’s a lot of fucking horses.

Or cows, or whatever, you get my point. That just does not seem like a viable diet plan for Dany’s current situation, financially. This is something that is actually worrying me right now, what is my life.

On the other hand: riding dragons. Aw, yeah.

And that’s that for now, y’all! Happy Easter weekend, if that’s your denominational groove, and I’ll see you next Friday!

Zorila Desufnoc Eht
1. AlirozTheConfused
First post?

Yay for toast!

So, Leigh, your opinion of Raegar-man

was he a jerk or morally spick and span?
Chris Nelly
2. Aeryl
You know what happened at the tournament, Jojen told you. :^D

And YAY Dany, smacking down Jorah. He needs it. I had been really bothered by his behavior, and didn't really put my finger on it until this chapter when Dany called him on it. It's the fact that he was attempting to isolate her from every man who wasn't himself, which is a classic abuser technique.
George Jong
3. IndependentGeorge
Just to clear up a few common misconceptions about Rhaegar, Lyanna, and the war (without spoilers; all info has already been revealed, but spread out and it's hard to keep track if you haven't read the books a half-dozen times):

The war did not start because of Lyanna's abduction. It started because of the exectution of Lord Rickard and Brandon Stark (and John Arryn's nephew, who accompanied Brandon), followed by Aerys' demands that Ned and Robert both present themselves to King's Landing for trial as well. Rhaegar absconding with Lyanna was a grievous insult to three of the seven great houses, but by itself was not enough to start a war. In fact, Brandon's response - riding to King's Landing demanding redress, and then challenging Rhaegar for his sister - actually seems to be completely within Westerosi jurisprudence.

Executing both Lord Stark and his heir (who, in turn, was betrothed to the Tullys), and the heir of the Arryns, and then demanding the deaths of the Lord Baratheon plus the new Lord Stark, guaranteed war with at three of those families, and very likely with the fourth.

Most of this was recounted in Catelyn's chapter at the end of COK. The rest was scattered throughout the narrative.
Rob Munnelly
4. RobMRobM
Love this chapter (and the next one, and I'm at least a bit miffed you didn't get to that one...but, given the holiday, probably not appropriate to crucify you for it.) Dany is so much fun when she shows off her tactical chops. Sneaky Dany - not just attacking in the night but when she gave the appearance of waiting for days for an answer and giving a "tun" of wine to one of the opposing armies. Very interesting that the first instinct of those around her is is that she reminds them of Rheagar - which seems to be a big compliment. Hmmm.

You're missing a "not" in the second paragraph of the description. "Yunkai will not fall as easily as Astapor."

Really good insights that Dany is buying herself a potential peck of trouble by freeing slaves and letting them hang around. Have to see how that plays out.

Ditto re Jorah and other men. Very perceptive from where I sit.

Good memory that there may be House of the Undying implications here. Don't forget to go back to it later.

Also, what's up with your Math-fu skills. 21 horses per week = 30 per month. did you mean 80 per month?

Aeryl - good point but Meera told the story of the Harrenhall tournament.
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
Chapter 42 -- Daenerys:Dany appears to be just about to try out her new army--against the Yunkai. I don't recall hearing about these guys before. Ah, they seem to also be slavers of some sort, like the Astaporians. Choosing to start by talking rather than just attacking seems like a pretty good trait. Seems to indicate that Dany isn't as crazed as a number of people were asserting in her last chapter. Divide and conquer is a fine strategy.
Betrayed once for love and once for gold. Jorah still seems like a good candidate for the love betrayal. This new Stormcrow, Daario, seems like a possible candidate for the gold--probably a long wait on finding those out. Dany's telling Jorah off seems quite right for her to do, but at the same time is disquieting for the prophecy.
A bit more on Rhaegar and Lyanna and the tourney at Harrenhal. No new info here, but it does seem to add confirmation to what we have heard before.
Attacking in the night and getting the Stormcrows--I'll call that a strategic and tactical success.
That was a powerful ending--actually brought a tear to my eye.
Now, I'm wondering if Dany's plan is to continue on marching up the coast liberating slaves (yay!) until she finds some place with enough boats to sail to Westeros or just what? Kind of reminds of Xenophon's Anabasis in the march through hostile lands sort of way.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
@Rob, I'm sure you're right, Jojen's just stuck in my head as the more talkative one.
George Jong
7. IndependentGeorge
One of the many things I enjoy about GRRM is that he acknowledges the importance of logistics in warfare. Particularly in the medievel period, the side who wins is not always the side with more troops, but the side that is not dying of starvation and/or dysentary.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
8. AlirozTheConfused
Logistics? Don't make me giggle.

This series has no room for wiggle

The characters teleport all over the place

and no distinction's made between types of space

Snow, sand, grass, none seem existent

no effect on troop movement; and to logic that's resistant

Supply lines and food are just ignored

for if they weren't, the readers'd get bored

The sack of Winterfell defies all sense

this is the sort of series where, in defense

soldiers charge outside the city walls

to fight and fight 'till each one falls.

Fatigue and morale are shushed away

and terrain doesn't matter in any way

There's automaton horses and no mention of scouts

Martin just doesn't care, of that there's no doubt

The side that Martin wants to win, is the side that wins

bridges and rivers don't matter, just look at the Twins.

No, the battles are contrived to make a story

For logistics, Martin never wins any glory

There are apparently qualities to this tale

but logistics ain't included in this sale

It's as uncommon as committies plebiscitary

And besides, it's spelled Dysentery.
Kieran B
9. Isengrim
The changing picture of Rhaegar we get as different characters describe him is really facinating.

Very few authors would have a major character (in the sense that his actions are important to the narrative) who died seventeenish years before the narrative begins.
av willis
10. av willis
As far as providing food for the dragons, don't forget that many reptiles don't have to eat every day beacause their metabolisms function different than ours and so they can process the same food over a series of days.
Chris Nelly
11. Aeryl
@10, True, but I don't think most reptiles have to cook their food first either. ;^D
12. brentodd
You have several details from a first-hand perspective on exactly how Lyanna Stark died. Ned has several recollections of her dying moments througout book 1. Some when talking to Robert early on their journey down the Kingsroad, and some while delirious from his leg wound.

I think book 1 is as explicit as anything gets regarding that situation... No one (as in, we-the-readers) really knows what happened.
av willis
13. Hammerlock
Actually, that's NINETY horses per month, not thirty. But presumably by that time she'll be queen of some nation or the other and will have the proceeds from an entire nation to help offset the economy sized bags of Purina Dragonfud.
av willis
14. thereBeDragonsHere
May just be me, but if you have three dragons as big as a house, and you want my cows/horses/, yeah, go right ahead. Would you like some fries with that?
Vincent Lane
15. Aegnor
I think Howland Reed is the only one alive that knows what happened with Lyanna. Maybe he told Jojen and Meera.
Marie Veek
16. SlackerSpice
@14: (insert joke about where the 500 lb gorilla/Big Daddy/dragon eats here)
Leigh Butler
17. leighdb
RobMRobM @ 4:

Whoops! Errors corrected. Thanks!
av willis
18. Lsana
"what went down at this tournament, except that it was apparently the equivalent of about seven years’ worth of Days of Our Lives plotlines crammed into one weekend."

Martin has said that he's considered writing a prequel novel set entirely at the Harrenhal Tourney. So he apparently thinks it had enough plotlines for a typical Martin novel. It's left as an excercise to the reader to decide if that's more or less than seven years of Days of Our Lives.
av willis
19. Tenesmus
I know it has been awhile since I read all the books, and I probably got this all mixed up, but I thought that Lyanna (roll over to read) died during child birth and the Hound killed the baby because the old Hand (Jon Griffinroost, or something like that) didn't want another bastard running around.
Vincent Lane
20. Aegnor
Most of the stuff we know about Rhaegar comes from an extremely biased source...King Robert. This is the guy that stole his woman. What's more, it is obvious from his comments that he has no idea what really happened.

Other than that, we get this chapter which gives us some decent characterization from Arstan (wow...that was close). Then we've got a few very minor snippets from Jorah that indicate he might not be the evil SOB Robert indicated. He shows up in the House of the Undying, and we get some of him in the story Jojen told. But it's all little snippets here and there.

And yeah, Leigh, it is obvious that this tournament is IMPORTANT. It keeps coming up, but GRRM just gives us hazy glimpses of it. There are theories of course, which I won't go into.
Bridget McGovern
21. BMcGovern
@Tenesmus: I've whited out your post because I honestly cannot remember off the top of my head whether the contents delve into any spoilerish material, at this point--but it's being flagged as such, so better safe than sorry!
Vincent Lane
22. Aegnor

Two issues with your post...
1. If that were true it would be a HUGE spoiler in this no-spoiler thread.
2. What the heck are you talking about. Honestly so much of it is all so far from even being possible I don't even know that it is even worth a moderator whiting out. May as well say Hodor that killed Lyanna. The Hound was about 12 during Robert's Rebellion.
Chris Nelly
23. Aeryl
Likely conflating the Hound and the Mountain.
Vincent Lane
24. Aegnor
Yeah, probably thinking of Elia and her baby that was killed by Gregor. Had nothing to do with that other character he mentioned (which hasn't shown up in the story yet). I think he was mixing him up with Tywin? But that wasn't over any bastards, but legitimate heirs Aegon and Rhaenys.
av willis
25. Tenesmus
@22 ...Sorry. I've read each book once, all at once, when The Crow Feast came out a long time ago and might have gotten a few things mixed up. Its hard to remember which big ugly violin guy is which in these tomes. I still get the Dornes and Martells confused. I thought by this point in the fourth book, Lyanna's fate was common knowledge. I'll go slink back under my rock and let the professionals do all the commenting; my apologies, sir.
av willis
26. Zhull
I think the upside of 3 dragons would far outway the upkeep cost of them militarily. I think of them as flying-tank-napalmthrowers. What do you do against that?
Chris Nelly
27. Aeryl
@25, Don't crawl away!! But, in actuality, this is only the third book, so you may be gleaning this off some knowledge we havn't gotten to yet.
av willis
28. Tenesmus
Oh, I forgot my orignal comment! If you have three dragons as big as a house and you plan to violently overthrow a sitting monarch, it seems obvious... your dragons eat the opposing army, one bite at a time. Once they eat all your enemies, and defecate a couple tons of slightly used steel for your own army, send them up North and let them graze on some free range zombie meat.
Vincent Lane
29. Aegnor
"and defecate a couple tons of slightly used steel for your own army"

Rofl...thanks for the mental image. Armor forged in the bowels of a dragon!
av willis
30. GarrettC
These Dany chapters in this part of her journey are among my favorite of hers through the first three books. Dany as a character gives me all kinds of mixed feelings, ranging from "oh she's awesome" to "OH COME ON YOU CAN'T BREAST FEED DRAGONS THIS IS JUST UNNECESSARY." But in these chapters, she's largely on the awesome, as opposed to the totally creepy and squicky, side of all things Dany. She's taking names and kicking ass, demonstrating both her compassion and that certain beyond-her-years military instinct.

There's something, though, I've never been 100% sure how to deal with w/regard to her determination to, in many ways, civilize the Eastern world (and what she's doing in that vein, spreading freedom, may be just, but then there's this weird thing that an Eastern world that ACTUALLY requires civilizing from the Western conquerer exists... and... I don't know... there are definitely indications that either 1) the uncivilized nature of Easteros is just the Western perception or that 2) the Western world is, hey fun times, just as bad if not worse... but if it's 1 then we're not seeing much evidence in these cities and if it's 2 then... well... it would all sort of depend on how Dany treats Westeros when or if she eventually gets there, which means my weird feelings being resolved happily would actually REQUIRE that Dany become queen of Westeros, which I'm not entirely sure I want in any case...)

And, yay. I closed the paren.
Vincent Lane
31. Aegnor
Interesting comment GarrettC. I'll put my response over in the spoiler thread as I want to talk about some later stuff.
Tyler Durden
32. Balance
#3 is a good post if you need clearing up on what we know so far about the Rebellion and the tourney.

#28 Lol. Free range zombies.
av willis
33. Elkins

In my household, we call Dany's plotline "White Girl's Adventures on the Orientalist Continent of Orientalism."

Perhaps this touches on what you find so disquieting about Martin's Essos?
av willis
34. GarrettC

That does indeed begin to touch on it, yes. I think Martin, in his characteristic way, keeps it complicated, but one must always take a long, long, long critical look at the Blond White Hero Spreads Democracy to the Eastern Barbarians storyline.
av willis
35. Elkins
Right. It's not very comfortable to begin with, and it doesn't help that Martin hits so very *many* tropes of "The Exotic and Decadent East" (tm) in his depictions of these cultures. I mean, Essos is pretty much Asia as seen by Victorian Britain, isn't it, only with it all turned up to 11.

And as usual with these matters, it also gets complicated because any *one* of said tropes can easily be defended. Why shouldn't a foreign culture eat puppy-fetus-on-a-stick, after all? Don't different cultures eat different things? And why shouldn't the slave practices be OTT brutal and barbaric? Gosh, you aren't in favor of *slavery,* are you? And why *shouldn't* a group of people favor elaborate dyed hairstyles? What's wrong with that? And why *shouldn't* a city have ancient pornography on its walls? It's a neat cultural touch, right? And why *shouldn't* the names in this area be hard to pronounce by foreigners and transliterated by means of Scrabble-winning consonant mish-mash? And why *shouldn't*--

Well, at that point, perhaps there are reasons why *every last one of these things* maybe shouldn't have made it into the text, you know?
av willis
36. Zenspinner
Well, Danerys may be blonde, but technically she is one of those exotic and decadent easterners considering her ancestry is Valyrian. And they intermarried, so even though the Targaryians lived in Westeros for a few hundred years, they're still heavily distilled "exotic" eastern stock. I don't know if that means she has any more of a right to barge in and overlay her ideas of what the world should be on the residents of Slaver's Bay than anyone else, but I think it has more to do with her personal ideas of right and wrong than it does with her being a product of Westerosi (i.e. "white") culture. Except for her birth, she's never really even been to Westeros. But she does know that her brother treated her like a slave and she didn't like it, and doesn't see why anyone else would like it either.

We can't go to Valyria and see what daily life was like there, which is a pity; I think it would add to the discussion.
av willis
37. Meraxes
Daenerys is not blonde. She is Silvery.

As for decadent east, there is no malfeanance there. Its simply that someone had to be decadent, far away, strange and mysterious. And the book was originally written for US and such western market and readership.

Frankly, i wuld rather read a similar novel written by a Chinese or other such eastern person, then to see whitey trying to get it right desperately and failing horribly due to lack of real knowledge.

Same goes for black people complaints.

I cartainly wouldnt presure a black writer who is writing a fantasy story based in Africa to force white characters in it.
Or same for Chinese or Japanese or Korean, Vietnamese, or any other.

And i would be fine with their different take on decadent western civilization too.

Thats it, being cheap skate and skimping on chapters doesnt deserve anything more from me.
av willis
38. GarrettC

"Its simply that someone had to be decadent, far away, strange and mysterious. And the book was originally written for US and such western market and readership."

That's awfully close to the Hollywood logic which states Keanu Reeves would make a great Ronin, though.

Besides which, simply reversing the dynamic would be just as problematic. That's how you get the noble savage trope.

It's really not about what kind of writer is writing what kind of race. It's about what cultural biases are being enacted in the writing, and how critically those biases are being engaged. Martin has shown a talent for engaging biases critically in general (see: conversations on feminism/sexism in these books, which for the most part I think look more favorably on him than not), which is nice, but he also seems to walk the line a lot more w/regard to this particular one.

And on the subject of cultural biases, Zenspinner@36: I've thought about Dany's childhood as it is relevant to these questions, but I can't convince myself that, culturally, she's anything but Western. Her bloodline goes back, but by the time she was born the Targaryans were firmly culturally Westeran(?), and her brother, it seems, did as much as he could to make sure she grew up in that western way.
av willis
39. Gesar
@36: We do have some insight on Valyria though, since Braavos was basically created by ancient slaves and outcasts of Valyria, it implies that Valyria practiced slavery (which isn't surprising, Valyria is basically Dragonrome).

Just wanted to add this to an otherwise great post that I think nails perfectly why we shouldn't see Daenerys as a representation of westerosi culture at all.
av willis
40. AO
"I totally want to see a guy with his hair in a unicorn’s horn, because that is awesome. Giggle-worthy in the extreme, but also awesome. Screw mohawks, y’all, this should totally be the next big thing in alternative men’s hairstyles."

Are you aware that fantasy author Michelle West includes a group of men who style their hair in such a spire, in the various series that she has written set in the world of Essalieyan? She also makes frequent use of the word "Tor" (despite the fact that these books are published by DAW), which is another thing that I recall that you mention that you like. There are many, many reasons that Michelle West is awesome, these are but two. I just wanted to mention this in case you have any desire to start a new series read sometime soon (or later, I can wait).
av willis
41. Meraxes

Thats pointless. if you go down that logic then the only result is that there cannot be any far away mysterious decadent civilizations.

Im of course not saying that every story has to use this trope but i also dont want to see it completely removed.

And no it isnt about cultural biaces at all.
It actually is about writer writing about what he knows best, from his personal and cultural heritage.

And no, he isnt walking any line either.

av willis
42. Meraxes
Speaking generally - of course.
Bridget McGovern
43. BMcGovern
@Meraxes: I've removed the last part of your comment at #41. It's important to remain civil and respectful of other commenters and their opinions, as outlined in our Moderation Policy. Please keep that policy in mind, going forward--thank you.
av willis
46. GarrettC

I think you're reading my comments to mean that the only way I'll be pleased is if writers just plain avoid representations like these at all costs. That's not what I mean, but I'm not sure how to explain myself more clearly. It may be better for me, anyway, to let this one lie. I'm new here, and I'm not trying to disrupt things. If I'm not making myself understood, then that's a communication failure on my part, and I'll work harder next time.
Chris Nelly
47. Aeryl
One good way to assess if an author is playing into white savior tropes or savage foreigner tropes, is to assess how balanced the portrayals are. Sure you can depict a foreign culture as barbaric, but that doesn't necessarily follow that every person within that culture is going to be a horrific person. And I think the books have done a decent job of demonstrating that there are people of worth in even the worst places.

The greater flaw is the white savior thing Dany's story entails. There is mostly no opportunity for any of the people being "saved" to exercise any agency in these situations. The people of Astapor and Mireen are being acted upon bu Dany as much as any one else. It's not really a change in the status quo, just a changing of the guard.
Faiz Imam
48. FaizImam
Note for Mods, if I see correctly, Leigh is off on her chapter numbering.

Dyanyeris's chapter is 43, not 42:
av willis
49. Corbon
If she does a good job of it, then yes, it will be "white saviour walks in and uplifts barbaric easterners".

It would be best to address that trope when it has actually played out a little.
Maiane Bakroeva
50. Isilel
IndependantGeorge @3:
In fact, Brandon's response - riding to King's Landing demanding redress, and then challenging Rhaegar for his sister - actually seems to be completely within Westerosi jurisprudence.
I don't remember anything in the text suggesting so. In fact, Hoster Tully, who was supposedly a capable man before he became mortally ill, thought that Brandon's actions were foolish.

Also, as far as we know, there was no formal challenge, just Brandon coming to the Red Keep and publicly screaming for Rhaegar to come out and die, which can be construed as a crime. Nor was it ever suggested that Brandon demanded Lyanna's return - just Rhaegar's death.
That is not to say that Aerys's subsequent actions were in any way justified, but it isn't like even a sane and competent monarch wouldn't have had to punish Brandon in some way (exile or the Wall) - and lavishly compensate the Stark family for Rhaegar's actions, of course.

But it isn't like Robert, for instance, wasn't pursuing wives and daughters of his nobles and it wouldn't have made it OK for, say, Florents to try to publicly announce their intent to kill him over his rather public deflowering of Delena.

Corbon @49:
If she does a good job of it, then yes, it will be "white saviour walks in and uplifts barbaric easterners".
Aren't you forgetting that some of those Easterners are actually very white themselves? Like Quartheen, for instance or Lyseni. And that Braavosi were already trying to forcibly eradicate slavery, even to the extent of going to wars over it?

The idea isn't new or foreign to the Eastern continent nor is Dany some hitherto unprecedented visionary. She is just at the right place at the right time to get the avalanche rolling.
Let's not let some RL pre-conceptions, that have no place in a given secondary world, cloud the issue.

Zorila Desufnoc Eht
51. AlirozTheConfused
Yeesh guys, methinks you've put more thought

Into the meaning of this than you ought

I don't think GRRM put nearly as much

thought into this, or implications and such.

he's less imperialist than haphhazard, methinks

so discuss away Danaerys/danyarys/danearys's hijinks

so discuss away, as much as you're able

but don't assume GRRM brought too much to the table.
av willis
52. thelostbannerman
To feed the Dragons: That is where the slavers and traitors go....enemies that do not change sides....easy to feed three dragons a day.
av willis
53. Meraxes
Dont bother on my account. Im not part of this... place.
Rob Munnelly
56. RobMRobM
@55 - funny, but this is the wrong post to put this in, as our faithful re-reader is not watching the TV show. Can you delete (or can mods help out)?
Bridget McGovern
57. BMcGovern
@Garry1209: To be fair, your post didn't contain any spoilers for the show (or the series)--I'm sure Leigh knows what Joffrey looks like, at this point--but it's probably best to keep comments and content related to the HBO series out of these threads, just for the sake of everyone's sanity. Thanks!
av willis
58. phuzz
I think that sometimes Martin uses these tropes to subvert expectations*. For example Ned Stark is the obvious hero of the first part of the first book, and, well, that didn't work out so well for him. On another level, everybody remembers Robert as a drunken buffoon, because people like easy stories, but in the parts of the book where we see him in person, he does show signs of not just being a drunken buffoon, especially if you look at what he got up to during his rebellion.

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