Jul 10 2014 1:00pm

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Feast for Crows, Part 21

A Song of Ice and Fire George RR Martin A Feast for CrowsWelcome 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 21 of A Feast for Crows, in which we cover Chapter 29 (“The Reaver”).

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!

Chapter 29: The Reaver

What Happens
Victarion boards the rose-bannered enemy ship and slays several men before his crew catch up to him, then challenges and throws overboard Ser Talbert Serry, the heir to Southshield. He joyfully slaughters most of the remaining crew, wishing that Euron was so easy to deal with. Nute the Barber tells him the Iron Fleet has won the day, but Victarion thinks sourly of how it will be attributed to his brother, not him, even though Euron is back at Oakenshield, “lazing in a castle”. He goes below and rapes the woman Euron had given him as a gift, and thinks about the plan to take the mouth of the river Mander, which he acknowledges was a good one, leaving the river free to be plundered where it had long been protected. He thinks that Euron’s wizards must have had something to do with it.

He debates whether he could escape the curse of kinslaying if he arranged for someone else to kill Euron instead of doing it himself. He thinks of his conversation with Aeron after the kingsmoot, and Aeron’s conviction that Euron’s blasphemies will curse them all, and that his election had been rigged by his sorcerers. Aeron had pleaded with Victarion to take Euron down, and at Victarion’s refusal, had declared he would rally the common folk and do it himself. He vanished thereafter, but his words had deeply disturbed Victarion, who remembers Baelor Blacktyde’s words: “Balon was mad, Aeron is madder, and Euron is maddest of them all.” He thinks that Asha was wise to run after the kingsmoot.

He returns to Lord Hewett’s Town in Oakenshield, where he finds women and children being herded onto a ship to be sold as slaves. Victarion dislikes this breaking from tradition, but Nute the Barber doesn’t see much difference between thralls and slaves. At the castle, Victarion meets Rodrik the Reader, who opines that their victory was not worth the enmity of House Tyrell it earned them, but Victarion is eager to try his worth against Highgarden, and the Lannisters too. The Reader tells him he will get his chance, as he believes Euron desires it too. Nute is angered that Euron’s men got all the plunder while they were out fighting, but Victarion says Euron has promised them all of Westeros eventually.

At the feast in the great hall of the castle, Euron has tied Lord Hewett to his chair, forcing him to watch as his wife and daughters serve the ironmen; at a suggestion from Falia, the evidently ill-treated bastard daughter Euron has taken for his own, he makes Lady Hewett and her daughters strip and serve them naked. Victarion thinks that it is one thing to kill a foe, but another to shame and dishonor him. Victarion is surprised at Euron’s choices to take the lordships of the captured islands, but then realizes they are all strong supporters of Rodrik the Reader, Dunstan Drumm, Black Harren, and Victarion himself. Euron declares his plans for the fleet to sail across the sea to find the dragons, but encounters resistance from his captains, who would rather continue plundering Westeros. Euron exits the hall in a huff, to Victarion’s pleasure.

One of Euron’s “mongrel” sons summons Victarion to Euron’s chamber. He finds Euron naked but for his cloak, rambling about how maybe he can fly. Victarion invites him to try jumping out of the window to see. Euron complains that the ironborn clamor for grapes when he would give them dragons, and Victarion points out that grapes are real. Euron tells him he’d had a dragon’s egg once, but slew the wizard who promised him to hatch it, and then threw the egg in the sea during one of his “dark moods”. He also comments that the man who blew his dragon horn at the kingsmoot is dead, his lungs charred black. He invites Victarion to drink a foul wine that smells like rotting flesh, which he claims is “shade-of-the-evening, the wine of the warlocks,” which he stole from four warlocks and then forced three of them to eat the fourth. Victarion declines.

Euron admits that the Reader is probably right that the voyage is too dangerous for an entire fleet, but says that he needs a wife worthy enough to give him proper heirs, and entreats Victarion to go to Slaver’s Bay and bring her to him: “when the kraken weds the dragon, brother, let all the world beware.” He says this dragon is the fairest woman in the world, and the last of her line. He promises Victarion the Seastone Chair in return, once Euron has taken the Iron Throne.

Euron’s smiling eye was bright with mockery. “Or do I ask too much of you? It is a fearsome thing to sail beyond Valyria.”

“I could sail the Iron Fleet to hell if need be.” When Victarion opened his hand, his palm was red with blood. “I’ll go to Slaver’s Bay, aye. I’ll find this dragon woman, and I’ll bring her back.” But not for you. You stole my wife and despoiled her, so I’ll have yours. The fairest woman in the world, for me.

Well, that just made me tired.

If there was a single female appearing in this chapter that wasn’t raped, violated, abused, degraded, and/or treated with less consideration than your average piece of livestock—including Dany—then I missed it. And I don’t think I missed anything. I also don’t even know what to do with the fact that the only female character (barring Victarion’s thoughts about Asha) that got a name and even something approximating an actual line of dialogue was also the one who used it to get revenge by inflicting more abuse on other women. “Dehumanize”? Shit.

I suspect that ought to make me infuriated, but right now, like I said, I’m just tired. Tired, and upset, and disgusted, and wanting ice cream, and left with the feeling that I just really do not have the energy for the level of vitriol that probably is called for here. I really, really don’t, though. Not for these assholes, whose sole apparent virtue is that they are fictional.

It’s almost like Martin is making some kind of twisted tacit argument for justifiable genocide here. Because seriously, if someone were to carpet-bomb the entirety of the ironborn nation into oblivion right now, I’m not sure I could summon up any more harsh a response than “Hey, man, that’s, like… not cool. Oh well.”


Another “title” chapter, too, which I’m beginning to dislike on principle if I didn’t already, but in this case I admit it’s eminently apropos. I’m not sure what I thought of the term “Reaver” before I watched Joss Whedon’s TV series Firefly, but after that (and especially the companion movie, Serenity), I will never be able to associate the word with any other definition than that describing, basically, a psychotic semi-devolved berserker who exists only to murder, rape, torture, mutilate, or destroy anything or anyone it comes in contact with.

This chapter… has not inspired me to alter that definition.


Whatever, I can’t even deal with any of that right now, so I’m not going to, except to devoutly hope that Victarion does indeed find Dany, so that I can hopefully watch her rip off his balls and hand them to him. Literally or metaphorically, I don’t care.

…No, I’m rooting for literally.

I will also meanwhile be rooting for Aeron to be successful with his grassroots revolution thingy and kill Euron with extreme killedness, because you know that if Euron freaks out other ironborn, then he is just about the craziest fucker on this entire sad pretend ball of mud, and he needs to be gone pronto. Not that we didn’t already know this, but the revelation that he has apparently been drinking nightshade liqueur certainly adds that je ne sais quoi to the whole picture. Although at least his crazy kept him from actually getting a dragon egg, so, yay?

Or alternately I guess Mace Tyrell And Co. can come and kill Euron for Aeron, which would also work, and in fact would even be better, since it would also (hopefully) involve tossing all the other ironborn off the mainland and back to their crappy islands where they belong as well, so bonus!

Really, I’m not picky; whoever wants to come and kick these guys’ asses all the way into next summer, please, be my guest. I will even root for a Lannister victory here, that’s how much I don’t like these people. C’mon.

Also, apparently blowing the dragon horn should come with a Surgeon General’s warning. Yeesh. It may or may not control dragons, but it is obviously doing something hinky. I wonder if Euron’s going to give it to Victarion to go after Dany with? In which case, that is a little worrying.

[…] striped tiger pelts and the skins of spotted cats, jade manticores and ancient Valyrian sphinxes, chests of nutmeg, cloves, and saffron, ivory tusks and the horns of unicorns […]

Hmm. Actual unicorn horns, or “unicorn” horns? I seem to recall that back in the day in the real world, merchants sold rhino horns as “unicorn horns” to idiots who didn’t know any better, so I was just wondering if that was the implied case here. Not that it matters, I suppose, but there are actual dragons, so…

Every man there knew that the Doom still ruled Valyria. The very sea there boiled and smoked, and the land was overrun with demons. It was said that any sailor who so much as glimpsed the fiery mountains of Valyria rising above the waves would soon die a dreadful death, yet the Crow’s Eye had been there, and returned.


So there’s obviously two ways to interpret this “Doom” of Valyria I’ve been vaguely hearing about throughout the series. One is the mundane explanation, which is that Valyria is basically Pompeii and got clobbered with a volcano and/or volcanoes, end of story. And the other is that for some reason the equivalent of a magical tactical nuke went off there, and the resulting mystical fallout is like that ash from the Icelandic Volcano of Unpronouncability that stopped all the airlines in Europe for however long a few years ago. I think I mixed up my metaphors there. Plus I suppose there’s no reason to think this hypothetical magical nuke couldn’t also make volcanoes happen as well as mess up magic all over the world.

…Or something like that. Once again, I presume that at some point this is actually going to be explicated upon in more detail. Or not. I might not care that much, honestly. I already know the important thing, which is that regardless of the reason why magic went away, now it’s coming back.

Along with dragons. And winter. Allegedly.

And now, my sugar blossoms, I have a date with some Creole Cream Cheese ice cream (which is the best thing EVAR and I’m so sad most of you can’t get any) and some form of entertainment that has absolutely positively zero percent reaving in it. Until next time!

Jason Langlois
1. JasonLanglois
Every Ironborn chapter leaves me wonder why Theon wouldn't have wanted to be a Stark, instead of a Greyjoy. Or why the Targaryen's didn't just Harrenhall their islands.

George Jong
2. IndependentGeorge
@4 - That's because the Ironborn aren't the Vikings, they're how continental Europe perceived the Vikings in the middle ages. They're a cartoonish caricature which, as I imply earlier, bores me to tears.

//Ditto for Slaver's Bay, which reads like a Victorian drama about the exotic orient. And everything associated with Ramsay Bolton.//

A society such as the Ironborn just does not make sense - they wouldn't have the infrastructure to continually repair and maintain their ships, nor have enough agricultural surplus to survive the multi-year winters (where they're even more completely cut off than anyone outside of the north).

ETA: I apparently wrote over my previous comment at the #2 spot instead of writing a new one further down - thus, my reply to #4 below me. I'm not actually a time traveller (though that's just what I would want you to think if I were).
3. o.m.
@Jason, Theon realized that he'd never be accepted as a real Stark, no more than Jon. His family was dysfunctional, but they were his.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
4. AlirozTheConfused
Wow. Leigh Butler is about as opposed to genocide as a person can reasonably be, and even she wouldn't mind if it happened to the Ironborn.

You know what? As a swede, this ticks me off. The people commonly referred to as Vikings weren't always off going a-viking, they had culture more than "kill/mutilate/rape", and dang it, this portrayal of them shows absolutely nothing to like about them.

This "iron price" thing has absolutely no basis in actual history, in fact, just the opposite; the people commonly referred to as vikings were in fact a trading society as much as they were a raiding society.

This is really, in my opinion, unacceptable as a portrayal of a culture. It devolves into caricature. I' mnot objecting to the brutality, the vikings did that, but that wasn't all they did, any more than ancient Rome did nothing but gladiator fights or the Mayans did nothing but human sacrifice.

Also, where are the Sami people, the actual natives of Scandinavia?

I wish I knew the term for what this is. It's not racist, but it's really an unacceptably caricatured portrayal, very stereotyped.

And comments like Jason's "makes me wonder why Theon would have wanted to be a greyjoy" and "why didn't the targs just harenhal them" just wow.

A culture so fundamentally lacking in positive qualities that the readers are like, "why woudl you want to be of that culture/people" and "why couldn't that culture have just been exterminated".

It's very wrong how the Ironborn are portrayed.
5. Lyanna Mormont
Yeah, not my favorite chapter, this one. I kept hoping that knight Victarion threw into the sea would pop up from somewhere and kill them all, since they never found his body. And Vic thinking about how thralls are not slaves because their children are born free, well, suuuure. What's a lifetime, after all?

As much as I'd like to see Euron overthrown - well, not actually see it since that would require more chapters with these lovely people, just hearing about it would suffice - I'm not at all sure Victarion or Aeron would be any better. Such a wonderful family, these Greyjoy brothers.
6. Lyanna Mormont
@4 - I'm Swedish, too, and I must say that the very fact that they're so unlike actual historical vikings makes it easier for me to see the Ironborn as not-vikings. They're built from the trope, not meant to be an accurate portrayal of the culture or people.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
7. Lisamarie
Interesting; it may be because I already had some understanding about the Vikings (not that I am an expert) but I never equated the Ironborn with Vikings in my head. They were just their own special brand of awful.

But, then again, I get kind of twitchy whenever a series features a hierarchy-based organized religion (especially when obviously corrupt, hypocritical, power hungry, etc) even if it's not intended to be a portrayal of Catholicism or other religions. So, I can see where you are coming from. My ethnic background is Mediterranean (Italian/Maltese) but there aren't too many seriously negative portrayals of that kind of culture (usually the stereotypes are rather benign - loud, food/family oriented, etc) so I'm spared that, at least.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
8. Lisamarie
Creole Cream Cheese ice cream, please explain!!! What is that????
Chris Nelly
9. Aeryl
Well, Rodrick the Reader seems to have a good head on his shoulders, recognizing the risk they've taken, and I don't think the chapter mentions him taking place in the villainy taking place in Oakenshield.

But yeah, a majority of the Ironborn need to GDIAF
Reese Pistole
10. Domino
Yeah, all the Ironborn chapters with the exception of Theon's are the only part of the song I don't like reading. Everytime I read one I wish I was the type of person who can skip chapters.

@4 GRRM isn't necessarily saying this things about Vikings he is portraying the Ironborn who are fictional. Parts of Viking culture may have influenced the Ironborn culture. That doesn't mean the Ironborn = Vikings just like the Valyrians don't = Romans.
George Jong
11. IndependentGeorge
The Ironborn, and certain other chapters which I won't spoil, give me a severe case of Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy.
Jason Langlois
12. JasonLanglois
The Ironborn are not the Norse. No more than the Dothraki are Mongols or Huns or Dorne are Spanish Muslims. GRRM has used the skewed monk's version of Vikings as a starting point to build a fantasy society and a set of fantasy characters that seem to have very few redeeming traits, and lack many of the historical qualities of the inspiring culture. So please do not conflate my feeling that the Ironborn are deserving of a serious beatdown with some feeling that the historical society that inspired them are deserving of the same treatment.

And while Theon felt he wasn't accepted, I think that was more his issue than fact. The sense I got from books is that Bran, Robb, the people of Winterfell, etc. all pretty much accepted Theon as one of them, much as they did with Jon (it's pretty much only Cat who treats Jon as an outsider).
George Jong
13. IndependentGeorge
I suppose this is as good a time as any to link to Scandinavia and the World.
14. sindragosa
I always though of Tormund's people as vikings. The Ironborn clearly are not - they don't drink mead.
Scott Silver
15. hihosilver28
Mods, the link to the spoiler page is to part 4, not part 5.
16. robo
It's worth remembering that a significant chunk of the ironborn supported Asha at the kingsmoot; and she was a pretty serious reform candidate who was generally opposed to the whole "let's just raid everyone" style of politics.

The thing I've always thought about the ironborn is that what we're seeing is a serious culture-in-decline. At the time of the Targaryen conquest, they controlled all of the riverlands, and were presumably much better off economically and politically then they are now. Then they get sent to the shitty islands, which are basically just one giant ghetto, because they didn't yield to Aegon. And so they revert to this crappy warrior culture because what else do they have. They even imply that there is some ambiguity to this interpretation of the warrior culture; that Balon and co are just emulating what they THINK their ancestors were like as opposed to what they actually were like. I guess all I'm trying to say is that I think there's a lot more nuance to the ironborn then they are being credited for.
Tricia Irish
18. Tektonica
Domino@10: I've gotten pretty good at skipping chapters. Especially on rereads. And I do skip most of these, or just give them a cursory scan. The Ironborn are disgusting in all ways. (And I never thought of them as Vikings. They are purely fictional.)

I'm with you Leigh, this is one nasty culture. Culture?
19. Blergy
It chills me to the bone when I think about the fact that there's a not-insignificant contingent of the fan community who considers Victarion their favorite character.
Anthony Pero
20. anthonypero
The Ironborn are the sea-faring versions of the Dothraki. We just don't see the Ironborn through the eyes of an inexperienced 14 year old girl who chooses to ignore the vast majority of their atrocities because her life actually improved when she was sold to them by her even worse brother.
Lauren Hartman
21. naupathia
I get the same feeling as @11.

And @16 I agree here -- I don't think the entire populace is that bad. It's just the only ones we really spend a lot of time with are certainly some of the worst. I just hate Victarion chapters for how--how can I put this--unenlightened Vicatarion is. It's like, even after all the shit Euron does and puts him through (and has put him through) he refrains from just sticking a knife in his other eye because "kinkilling is evil". Okay... but selling people into slavery and murdering people whose sole crime is not being of your culture is totally cool? At least GRRM's characterization is consistent in a weird way. I honestly can comprehend how Victarion thinks. I just wish I didn't.

I also dislike these chapters for the crap it's about to rain down on everyone else. Yea, going to hunt Dany sounds like a keen idea. That totally won't throw a wrench into whatever works happen later, no siree. And Euron definitely won't seek any kind of vengeance if you steal his lady, nope. And I'm sure that whole no-kinkilling thing won't ever be an issue then. Sigh.
22. andophil
Leigh, really enjoying there read, and reading along with you. I love getting your perspective on what we are both enjoying/enduring.

I would like to make two points though...

Fistly, The whole viking/ironborn thing is getting taken too literally in the comments. EVERYTHING in these books is fiction. For example, I live where the original Hadrians wall is situated to keep the Roman Empire safe from the marauding Scots, which was an inspiration for the ice wall.
But... it wasn't like that really, there was trade and a functioning relationship between the clans/villages... and still now the village names dotted around the north are a mixture of Viking, Roman and old English names. So what I'm saying is, long-windedly, that there is a myriad of real truths taken, shaken up and spilled out as fiction.
The smattering of Viking/marauders/pirates/everything in everything else is from the pepperpot of his mind. Just enjoy it! I do!

And secondly, and a little more of you dear Leigh, I find your constant harshness of his treatment of women a bit wearing. Don't get me wrong - I love getting your opinion - but he is not trying to make a point, I believe. I think he's just making these thugs and powermongers as repulsive as possible to say this is what happens when barbarism rules.
We shouldn't, and don't, like it. We're not supposed to.
The problem with Martin though is... we know there often isn't deserved retribution.

I would get more ice cream in if I were you! (and no I don't know what is going to happen).
Steven Halter
23. stevenhalter
Chapter 29 - "The Reaver":The Iron Born are pretty much not a nice
people. The chapters aren't terribly fun to this point. If we leave out
the general slaughter, this one seems to have a couple of interesting
Every man there knew that the Doom still ruled Valyria. The very sea there boiled and smoked, and the land was overrun with demons. It was said that any sailor who so much as glimpsed the fiery mountains of Valyria rising above the waves would soon die a dreadful death, yet the Crow’s Eye had been there, and returned.
So, Valyria seems to be in the midst of multiple volcanoes at this time.
Whether it was just a volcanic eruption (probably not) or some sort of
magical conflagration (probably) remains to be seen. From a previous
chapter, we learned that they were mining deep into the earth. Maybe
they hit a Balrog.
Then, Euron exposes his plan to kidnap Dany and make her his wife using Victarion as his kidnapper and Vic thinks he'll just keep/despoil her himself.. Nothing could go wrong with that plan at all.
Also, just for fun, Euron is introducing slave trading to the Ironborn. Because, you know, they had insufficient vices at this time.
Sasha P
24. AeronaGreenjoy
@19: Agreed. Many readers consider Victarion the voice of relative morality in this chapter for respecting the warrior he killed and being disgusted by Euron's exceptional depravities. I simply wanted him to get eaten ASAP by a dragon, or possibly a kraken offended by its usage as a sigil. Theon's ACOK chapters were even harder to read, though, because he was devastating a place and people I particularly cared about.

I believe Vic would've been as contemptible a ruler as Cersei if he'd been elected at the moot. He and Aeron (ruling through him) are too single-minded, and incapable of diplomacy, subtlety, or compromise. Instead, we just see him doing what he does best -- pirating -- and some people admire that. UGH.

"When the kraken weds the dragon"...Euron apparently intends to sire Cthulhu. He would be that egotistical.

Yes, I was pleased by Aeron's new alleged mission. 'Bout time someone treated the smallfolk as more than things to rape and smash to make a political statement a la ACOK Stony Shore. Maybe they'll become the Ironborn equivalent of the Faith Militant, I thought. *goes starry-eyed*
z drake cupsford
25. zdrakec
"One is the mundane explanation, which is that Valyria is basically Pompeii and got clobbered with a volcano and/or volcanoes, end of story."

Actually, think Santorini, instead, and I think you will be closer.
Adam S.
26. MDNY
Not my favorite chapter. As others have said, I usually skip all ironborn chapters on my rereads, due to general unpleasantness.
I too don't get the Victorian love among some fans, but I do at least acknowledge that he's better than Euron. He has a certain code of honor that he tries to uphold, he respects warriors, even enemies, and even women (gasp) to an extent, reflected in his disgust at the way the women are treated in the dining hall. He's not a nice guy, but he's better than some of those around him...that's about all the positive things I can say about that.
I just want to get to the actual good storylines, though...
27. AeronaGreenjoy
You could sail the Iron Fleet to hell? Then please do so immediately. We'll all be better off.

Vic and his ilk exemplify one version of might makes right." For many characters (and real people) it's actually money = might = right, you're entitled to have, sell, or do anything you can buy or get paid for. Others consider violence a viable alternative for getting what you want. But the Iron Price mentality holds that ONLY might = right and omly WIMPS use money. I like to imagine Balon and Tywin debating the matter in hell.
George Jong
28. IndependentGeorge
The ironborn economy makes about as much sense as the Star Trek economy. Even if they choose to raid instead of trade with outsiders, how the heck do they deal with scarcity internally? How do they feed and clothe themselves?

This is where the Viking comparison comes in for me. It's not because I'm offended on behalf of the Scandinavians, but because all those things the Vikings had but the Ironborn don't - like a productive agriculture and trading economy - were precisely the things that allowed the Vikings to exist in the first place. Building a ship is a pretty labor-intensive undertaking - you need some serious agricultural surplus to support a population of dedicated craftsmen capable of building oceanworthy vessels. Thralls aren't enough for this - you need skilled labor.
29. just some guy
You can tell Leigh that this chapter is pretty much the nadir in the series of grimdark for no reason other than to be depressing and grim. There are certainly other rough and difficult to read chapters, but they seem to have a point.
Tabby Alleman
30. Tabbyfl55
This chapter had a point. Revealing the plan to marry Dany.

Did all the sweetness and light at the beginning of the chapter have a point? anh...
Sean Curley
31. Sean_C
@29: I can think of a couple of places in ADWD that I think are a bit lower than that (even if they theoretically have more plot justification, but I really wouldn't call it necessary).

I agree with those who find the Ironborn irritatingly one-dimensional. They're cartoon caricatures of Vikings, and they feel out of place when contrasted with the much greater depth and shading that Martin has given the societies of mainland Westeros. People talk about Orientalism in Martin's depictions of some parts of Essos, but I think the Ironborn are at as bad as anything in Slaver's Bay (and that's despite having more POV main characters than any family apart from the Starks).
32. NickH
Victarion is definitely not the worst person in this story as he does posess a code of honor of sorts, but i still don't see how anyone can actually like him. He is cruel and he is dumb, which is why he accepts all his cultural stereotypes without question.

Not all of the ironborn are like him: Asha and Rodrik the Reader seem to be decent people, and Asha did get a lot of support at the kingsmoot. If Victarion was a little bit more smart and could see past his stereotypes, he could accept Asha's offer, and together they could win the elections, make peace with the northmen, and live peacefully. But of course, things always happen in the worst possible way in this story.

Euron is scary, and he must have some secret knowledge re magic in Westeros (he sailed to Valyria, drank shade of the evening, etc). He will probably play an important role at some point. I wonder what his backup plan re Dany & Vic is, as i am sure he suspects (being good at manipulating people) that Vic might not be very obedient.

BTW, it is said that the warlocks that Euron had captured are from Qarth, so they are survivors from the House of Undying, that was burn't by Dany in the 2nd book.

@28 I belive the "iron price" tradition doesn't prohibit trading. You are not allowed to wear jewelery unless you take it by force, but buying & selling normal goods is fine.
Joe Vondracek
33. joev
The Greyjoys remind me of the Crowe family from the TV show Justified: general screw-ups, prone to excessive violence, everything they do seems to make everything around them worse, and too stupid to realize any of it.
34. Guest 77
Leigh, thank you for working Firefly/Serenity into this post. That alone brightened my day. Also:
** Leigh: “blowing the dragon horn should come with a Surgeon General’s warning”
** Stevenhalter: “Maybe they hit a Balrog.”
HAHAHAHAHAHA…thanks, I needed that!
35. Crusader75
I guess Falia is Martin's dark take on Cinderella Taking revenge on her step-mother and half-sisters now that her Prince Not-so-charming has come to take her away from all that.
Julian Augustus
36. Alisonwonderland
What we have to remember is, Martin needs a way to, eventually, bring Dany to Westeros. Her army can ONLY be brought over by ship. So someone has to go to her with enough ships to make that possible. And there are no other candidates than the Ironborn who can put together the size of fleet she needs. For what possible reason would the Ironborn seek her out? Given the nature of their take-what-you want-if-you-can philosophy, it would be out of character for them to send emmisaries with gifts and treaties to align with Dany. They must go and take her by force, they have to think, and that requires that the expedition be led by someone fearless and powerful and dumb, which is exactly the character Martin has given Victarion. I think the portrayal of the Ironborn that Martin is giving us is intended for the sole purpose of being the vehicle to get Dany and her army to Westeros in a way consistent with the rest of the story.
37. Lyanna Mormont
@28 - not to mention the wood to build all those ships. The Iron Islands really don't look big enough to supply that many trees - on a regular basis, no less - without being completely deforested. Especially not if part of the land is used for farming.

@31 - I think the big difference in the portrayal of the Ironborn vs the Dothraki and other Essos cultures is that we get to see the Ironborn from inside their own heads, which hasn't happened so far in Essos.

Of course, you could see that from different perspectives - are the Essosi further othered because they're only ever seen from the outside, by someone from a culturemore similar to "ours"? Or are the Ironborn seen as worse because we're inside the heads of people like Victarion, who aren't exactly their best and brightest? Would we have different ideas if we'd only seen the Ironborn from the eyes of a thrall or saltwife, while the Dothraki events had been described by Irri or Jhiqui, or a bloodrider?

@32 - as I understand it, you're certainly allowed to trade for things you need, but it doesn't bring you any honor, and it's not something you'd ever brag about. And Theon wearing flashy ostentatious jewelry which he hadn't "earned" was seen as false bragging, bordering on lying about his accomplishments. Plus, you know, a sign that he wasn't really one of the Ironborn anymore. He'd been bought.
38. o.m.
@16, the way I see it Asha replaces plans of raiding with dreams of conquest. That might be better for the peasants in the area, or not. Would the average Ironborn warrior understand that he needs the peasants in his village or would it be ongoing rape and pillage?
Birgit F
39. birgit
I thought "unicorn horns" were narwhale teeth, but maybe the Iron Islanders would know where those really come from.

The problem with a fictional culture that is created from the worst prejudices against a real-world culture is that some people who don't know much about history might think that the Vikings really were like that since fiction often portrays them that way.
40. Makhni
I occasionally wonder about what these characters might have been like if born into a less horrible culture.

Aeron and Victarion are both, in their different ways, entirely products of the Ironborn culture. If Aeron's any better it's because it's put him in a less destructive role. Anyone as unimaginative and narrow-minded as them will never be a great person, but if they were applying that unquestioning acceptance to a better set of values they'd be better people.

Euron is a straight-up psychopath who'd be a monster anywhere.

But what about Asha? A harder question. She often rises above her society but has a shedload of flaws. Would the very strength of character that lets her be an outlier allow her to be *worse* than a *decent* culture?
Captain Hammer
41. Randalator
@4 Aliroz The Confused

Relax, I don't think anyone gets a OMG-they-are-just-like-the-Vikings-in-every-way kinda vibe from the Ironborn. At best (worst?) it would be a fleeting similarity regarding the whole being a seafaring culture and being known for raiding the coast. Nothing beyond that seems even remotely Viking-ish.
Rob Munnelly
42. RobMRobM
Sorry I missed out on the fun yesterday - had a work related out of office event and didn't get home until late.

Not much to say that hasn't been said. Ironborn Go Wild (tm) is not a pretty picture. Euron is a really interesting mix of savvy leader (giving supporters of his key rivals lordships is a strategic step of genius) and batshit crazypants. He has to know that sending Victarion to grab Dany way over in Essos can't end well, especially after Euron had just stolen Vic's woman, but he must have some sort of plan in mind to deal with that. Curious what it is.

Rodrick is all sorts of fun but I have a lot of trouble seeing him as an Ironborn. His recommendations seem like thoughtful strategic moves of a lord in the Reach or the Stormlands rather than the go for broke nutzo of virtually all other Ironborn. I do think he has been a key influence on Asha, which is one of the reasons we like her so much.
43. AeronaGreenjoy
At some point, I think, we hear about an Iron Islander being ashamed of needing to pay for food and water.
44. WickedWoodpeckeroftheWest
Also, where are the Sami people, the actual natives of Scandinavia?
Why should they exist in this enitrely fictional world?

A culture so fundamentally lacking in positive qualities that the
readers are like, "why woudl you want to be of that culture/people" and
"why couldn't that culture have just been exterminated".

It's very wrong how the Ironborn are portrayed.
I'm not sure. Each time I read about Aztec Empire I have the same feeling Leigh has about Ironborns (except I like ironborns because they are all so jump-the-shark! and Victarion wishing that this shield knight was redeemed by Drowned God was cutest thing in whole saga!) and apparently no data about their agriculture, art and philosophy gonna change it.

But then remember we are watching Ironborns from perspective of nobility, no ordinary raiders. AFAWK for all these centuries under Targaryen reign ironborn except of some occasionaly raids were kinda fisherfolks and merchants.

The thing that ticks me off more is that Iron Islands are basically end of the world. Nothing serious West, and western coast of Westeros nearby - poorer and more important one. I would sooner see such pirate culture tu rise on Sisters (and it was there once) or anywhere on Narrow Sea. Up from II are only Bear Island. Who would like to visit and make business there. (Well except of this Mad Tyroshi slaver, who travelled all around continent with death-ban on slavery, to find (on isolated, poor island desperated lord that wanted to sell of some poachers, WTF?!Mormont).
Chris Nelly
45. Aeryl
@42, I imagine Euron thinks Dany with roast Victarion for him, but still be intrigued? I mean, Euron's crazy, and Dany's family is known for crazy, he probably thinks she'd be totally into him.

@41, To be fair, when the Ironborn were first introduced in more depth, Leigh did call them Vikings.
46. Black Dread
@35 - The first time to read this I was as disgusted as everyone else.
The second time I kept laughing and GRRM's version of Cinderella.

As for everyone who says the Ironborn are not just like Vikings - from the Irish / Highgarden points of view, they are Exactly the same.

Viking showed up by surprise, killed, raped, plundered, and enslaved. The port of Dublin was built by Vikings to ship captured Irish women and children down to the Middle East where they were sold as slaves.
Steven Halter
47. stevenhalter
Guest 77@34: :-)

Alisonwonderland@36:That's an interesting angle that I could see playing out in some fashion. Although, I would prefer the fashion to be something like: Victarion says, "I will capture you, wench!" Dany's Unsullied say "Pointy sharp spears." Dany's dragons say, "Foom, roast." Dany says, "Hey look, we've got a bunch of empty boats."

How many people typically crew an Ironborn ship? Guess around 60. How many people could one carry packed full with a minimal crew? Let's guess 100.
Dany has like 10000 Unsullied--that's 100 Ironborn ships just for them and probably packed uncomfortably full. I think they need more ship unless the Ironborn ships are quite a lot bigger than I'm picturing.
Lauren Hartman
48. naupathia
Random aside: I just noticed the link jump text for this article was a Firefly reference about the reavers. Love it =)

@28 As others have mentioned -- I think we just don't get the sense of agriculture and such because we are solely seeing the Ironborn from the nobilities' eyes. Clearly Vic has already mentioned how they have thralls, so it wouldn't be a far stretch to say that the Iron Islands do have agriculture, just enough to survive on, but must raid and pillage to supply the rest. And these guys obviously enjoy the raiding more than the farming.

The Ironborn we see do suck more than most, but I think it's slightly unfair to extrapolate that to the entire culture. And to be fair pretty much everyone (in power) in ASOIAF is pretty terrible in their own way.

@36 I hadn't considered that angle really. Mostly because I just keep wanting Vic to die horribly somehow and just assumed he would never actually make it to Dany. And as @47 points out, I'm not even sure Dany could ever get her entire army across. It just seems completely infeasible unless she gets some freakin battlecruisers somehow. My guess has always been that it's pretty much going to be just Dany and her dragons coming across. Or maybe they'll find some kind of land bridge no one knows about? *shrug*
49. a1ay
Dany has like 10000 Unsullied--that's 100 Ironborn ships just for them and probably packed uncomfortably full. I think they need more ship unless the Ironborn ships are quite a lot bigger than I'm picturing.

To move troops overseas by sailing transport, you work on a rule of five tons of shiping per man (according to the Hornblower books). So to shift 10,000 Unsullied you need 50,000 tons of shipping - more than 250 cogs, medium-sized mediaeval merchant ships. (To shift 40,000 soldiers to Egypt, Napoleon used 400 transport ships.)

But the ships of the Iron Fleet are much bigger than cogs - "three times the size of a longship" - the Gokstad ship had 32 oarsmen and could carry a maximum of 70 men (including crew), so an Iron Fleet ship, we can guess, has a crew of 90 and can carry an extra 120 passengers. Dany will need around 80 of those to carry her Unsullied - so the hundred-strong Iron Fleet could do it, especially if they can manage to get some STUFT in their own special way.
50. a1ay
The point that this brings up is that the Iron Fleet is absolutely huge. It's got a hundred decent-sized warships and 9,000 crewmen. It's the size of the Venetian galley fleet of the Middle Ages, and the Venetians were a naval superpower.
And the Iron Islands must have some decent shipyards somewhere if you think how often each ship will need overhauling or replacing. The Venetians had to invent the modern factory at the Arsenale, pretty much, to support their fleet.
Steven Halter
51. stevenhalter
a1ay@49:Thanks for the numbers.
And, @50, yeah that does seem at odds with the crazed madmen who don't like merchants or anything image.
They do need some fairly massive support infrastructure somewhere for all of that. Also, that would seem to point to some really bad times ahead for Cersei's choices of inexperienced captains.
Tabby Alleman
52. Tabbyfl55
Chekov's Unsullied. They have to cross. : )
53. nomoem
Regarding the unicorn horn, unicorns are mentioned as being real in-world. They live on a certain northern island.
54. DougL
Yes, the Ironborn. I HATE the Seanchan, like a lot. And I hate Mat's wife, A LOT, because one of her favourite activities is to train damane, which basically means turn a woman into a dog.

I hate the Ironborn more. We have never seen the Reach, we don't know anything about it other than it is a breadbasket for the realm and they make lots of wine. For all intents and purposes they are the classic fairy tale kingdom, I wouldn't be surprised to see fairies there. However, they sent their armies and fleets away to get the daughter a crown and got Starked for it. As bad as the result is for the women and children of the Reach sold by the Ironborn, it's probably better than being taken by Ramsay.

Valyria cannot be a volcano, not by natural rules, it's been too long, 300 years or thereabouts. That island off of Iceland has turned into a verdant garden island in about 5 years. That's why people continue to migrate to areas known to explode every few hundred years, they are amazing agricultural paradises.

I don't know shit about Valyria, those aren't spoilers, that's general science. Now, it's true that a volcano could have turned Valyria into a sulphuric wasteland, but it just bucks the trend pretty hard.
55. DougL
@22. andophil

Comments like yours weary me frankly. This is how women are treated in war, there are like 50 UN studies on this very subject, maybe you should read one of them. Martin is, unfortunately, not painting a charicature in how women are treated in the course of war.

The Ironborn themselves haven't been sufficiently fleshed out. Obviously Euron and Victorian are huge assholes, but like others have pointed out, based on what we've seen, there is no way they could support a society. The World Book should clear that up in October.
Chris Nelly
56. Aeryl
@22, I somehow missed your comment yesterday, but I wanted to address this

I think he's just making these thugs and powermongers as repulsive as possible to say this is what happens when barbarism rules.

As DougL points out, the treatment of women this chapter isn't bothersome and infuriating because it's outlandish, it's because it's true. This chapter reflects the lived experience of women all over the globe today.

Secondly, you justify this by stating that Martin is making a point.


It's not okay to use the real, actual, brutalization of women to establish character. It's just not. It devalues real sexual violence, and makes the focus of the narrative the perpetrator, not the victim.
57. Andophil
@55,56... I take your points and understand what you're saying.
I'm not saying that this doesn't happen, or justifying it, I mean that he is using this very horrible truth to make us loathe them more than others.
But I made that point badly...
58. a1ay
51: plus, the Iron Fleet is not the whole of the Iron Islands fleet, is it? The Iron Fleet is like the Elizabethan Royal Navy - lots of big warships - but there are lots of smaller privateers, I suppose you could call them, that aren't part of the core Fleet but can still fight alongside it. Asha, for example, has thirty longships when she takes Deepwood Motte; those aren't part of the Iron Fleet, which is off taking Moat Cailin under Victarion, those are different ships under Asha's command.
When Victarion takes the IF off to Essos, there'll be lots of other Iron Islanders still reaving around the shores of Westeros.

Which means that the total Iron Islands naval force is potentially absolutely massive. And all those ships need building and maintaining and repairing!
Chris Nelly
59. Aeryl
Valyria cannot be a volcano, not by natural rules, it's been too long,
300 years or thereabouts. That island off of Iceland has turned into a
verdant garden island in about 5 years. That's why people continue to
migrate to areas known to explode every few hundred years, they are
amazing agricultural paradises.

I don't know shit about Valyria, those aren't spoilers, that's general
science. Now, it's true that a volcano could have turned Valyria into a
sulphuric wasteland, but it just bucks the trend pretty hard.

While I appreciate the work you put into this comment, arguing from general science is kinda silly in a series where winter last years, actual people are brought back from the dead, and there are dragons.

I always imagined the Doom to be something like the Cataclysm in the Dragonlance series, something crazy supernatural. So, for this series, my guess is some type of neverending volcanic eruption.

Maybe they buried a ton of dragon eggs, and forgot them, and they all hatched, and have been trying to roast their way to the surface ever since?
60. a1ay
Valyria cannot be a volcano, not by natural rules, it's been too long, 300 years or thereabouts.

Volcanoes can keep erupting for centuries. Mount Etna erupts pretty much every other year. It's been doing that since Roman times.
Tabby Alleman
61. Tabbyfl55
Since it happened in Valyria, I'm guessing the Doom was because dragons.
62. a1ay
And the top end of what massive sustained volcanic eruptions can do is pretty high. The Deccan Traps are the result of a series of volcanic eruptions that lasted 30,000 years and covered half of India in solidified lava a mile deep. So, you know, it can get pretty bad.
Brandi Carrier
63. Brandi
I just wanted to reiterate what some others have mentioned, that only the Greyjoy family uses the words "we do not sew." Other ironborn do fish and farm the soil, so it's not like the ironborn have to go out and steal or buy everything they need to eat from other civilizations, or that there is any shame in doing so if they need to. It is shameful, according to the Old Way, to pay for POSSESSIONS like jewelry or weapons, but I don't think it's ever mentioned that paying for food is a issue. It was also OK for women to wear jewelry and such that was purchased with coin.

In this chapter Victarion remembers his talk with Aeron, when Aeron says "The ironborn shall be the wavesNot the great and lordly, but the simple folk, tillers of the soil and fishers of the sea."

I don't think it's an issue of only wimps use money, the Iron Islands don't have much in the way of metals to mine (I forget what chapter that's in) but if they did they would certainly mine them and use the metals for trade.
64. DougL
@62. a1ay

At a settled time in history? We have no evidence of earthquakes in Westeros, not other volcanic activity at all. An area on a stable planet that was verdant turned to a poisonous wasteland out of nowhere? This isn't a recurring volcanic region, the freehold was thousands of years old. All of the volcanoes we have that erupt frequently are tens of thousands of years old.
Steven Halter
65. stevenhalter
DougL@64:The buffalo no doubt think Yellowstone is a very safe place.

In any case, I would guess that at least part of the Doom was supernatural in origin. Not based on any evidence other than references we have seen to magical cycles.
66. Legendary
@56 I'm not seeing this. The Ironborn are supposed to be an awful, reprehensible culture. So they do realistic - and deplorable - things to show how awful they are. Why is it not okay to have evil characters do evil things to show how evil they are?

@64 The Valyrian Freehold was established around the Fourteen Flames (which are in Essos, not Westeros). They were powerful volcanoes and everything we have suggests that part of the Doom was them going absolutely berserk. There's also a few other volcanoes on Planetos - Dragonstone is volcanic, a distant pair of islands in the Jade Sea have volcanoes, and there are rumors of vulcanism Beyond the Wall, in hidden valleys of the Frostfangs. That's how the characters have obsidian; it doesn't grow on trees.
Chris Nelly
66. Aeryl
This isn't a recurring volcanic region, the freehold was thousands of years old.

Again, applying geology and science to world of dragons, white walkers, zombies, and a wall that literally cannot exist without magic, is not the best thing to do.

And we have no evidence that there weren't active, smaller volcanoes in Valyria, though it seems a good bet, as dragons need fire to hatch it seems like they would evolve(I know, using science) around places with naturally occuring fire. Perhaps the volcano system was a series connected to a much larger caldera, like Yellowstone, which stevenhalter mentions, that after thousands of years of dormancy, finally went off.
Chris Nelly
67. Aeryl
@66, When your only method of showing the depravity of evil people, is brutality against women, you need to go out into the world a bit more, because there are plenty of other ways to do that.

It's not that it's never appropriate, it's that it shouldn't always be done.

And thanks for the Valyrian history mentions in your comment, but I think some of that is spoilery, so it might have to go.
68. olethros
@66 Maybe obsidian does grow on trees, this is a fantasy novel.
69. Legendary
@67 Can you tell me which part you think is spoilery? I am pretty positive that with the exception of the one that's a Lands/World app reference (and only made because the app doesn't judge it as spoilers), all of the volconoes I mentioned have been discussed in the story at one point.
Chris Nelly
70. Aeryl
@69, Have they been discussed in the story by this point, is my concern. I'm not sure, that's why I mentioned it, someone more knowledgable than I can point it out whether it is or not. I've let the mods know, if it's been mentioned before this point in the story, it'll be ok.
71. Lyanna Mormont
Re: geology - has anyone read the wonderful analysis of Westeros geology by Generation Anthropocene?

(Am I allowed to post the link here? Or anyone interested can just google it.)

The very best kind of geekery! Doesn't go into Essos, so no Valyria, but it argues for the existence of volcanic activity and plate tectonics on the planet.
72. Josh Luz
The comparison to vikings is interesting to me as I've also read that some think the North shows many influences on ancient Scandinavian culture. I don't mind the idea of one Westeros nation showing many positive attributes of a society while another showcases some of its reprehensible ones. Unfortunately, you're never going to get the depth and nuance of a real world society in a fantasy world, no matter how well drawn.
73. DougL
And the area around where the volcano went off in Yellowstone has, you know, trees and stuff. Look at the pictures of the's like the most beautiful areas of BC. Okay, maybe a supervolcano went off...but that's estimated to coat the entire world in in some manner of fallout, even just in increased cloud cover. The rest of the world, not even Essos, suffered, Westeros certainly didn't.

That's the other part of why I don't think it was a natural volcanic eruption. A smallish volcano off the coast of Iceland was noticed all across Europe and even in the Eastern part of North America by whinier people.

Iceland certainly survived.
74. Maac
I'm so used to associating the Ironborn with Cthulhu that the Viking connection still startles me when it's brought up. That's the primary harped-upon image for me. I mean yes, thralls are a clue, but the disturbing-creature-based monotheism always threw off the comparison (which was first introduced to me online, where the books came to me pre-my internet days.) Them again, I'm an oddball black American raised with Greek and Norse myth picturebooks, so I guess the Scandinavians here are right to be concerned...
Chris Nelly
75. Aeryl
@DougL, I don't think anyone's been arguing that it's a natural volcanic eruption, but a supernatural volcanoc eruption, they've just shown a few examples of large scale massive eruptions, and ones that lasted for a long time, to give something to measure how terrible a supernatural eruption would be.

The rest of the world, not even Essos, suffered, Westeros certainly didn't.

The Doom of Valyria is always capitalized when talked about, so I imagine there was fallout worldwide, which is why everyone does that. Valyria didn't survive, but I don't think we know what kind of global impact it had.
Chris Nelly
76. Aeryl
@74, Maac, having never done Lovecraft myself, I always appreciate it when people point out where they find it's influences. It broadens the influences to look into to guess where the story is going. And Euron's let the world burn mentality seems in line with what I know of the Cthulu mythos, because Euron was one thing that has never clicked for me thematically, but now it's starting too, so thanks.
Sasha P
77. AeronaGreenjoy
@63: Roll over: ((( I just looked it up. In ADWD 56, Vic is ashamed about having to pay for food and water during the voyage. Probably not true of most Ironborn, but it shows how deep the mentality can go.)))

Ha, I bet the (male) Greyjoys "do not sew." That's work for women and sailmakers.

I started reading Lovecraft because people kept likening the Iron Islands religion to it. Worship of underwater deity, check. Extreme xenophobia, check. Fish-people...nah, they're on the other side of the continent. Oh well.
78. DougL
@ 75. Aeryl

Well, they are pointing to real world volcanic activity. It's referred to as the Doom because Valyria was by far the most powerful and influential nation in the world at the time. I watched a special with Brian Cox that suggests that a super volcano is a near extinction level event, like for the planet, not just for Yellowstone or wherever it erupts. So, yes, my argument is that it is supernatural in nature as well, as natural volcanoes don't really fit with the factors we do know about the Doom, which is basically nothing heh But if you want to have geek cred, you need to argue about this kind of stuff on the internet.
Simon Ellberger
79. Puntificator
I was puzzled by what seemed to me a curious sentence in this chapter: “In ancient days, the ironborn had boldly sailed the river road and plundered all along the Mander and its vassal streams … until the kings of the green hand had armed the fisherfolk on the four small islands off the Mander’s mouth and named them his shields.” What perplexed me is what is meant by “kings of the green hand”? I.e., what is “the green hand”? Does anyone understand this reference? Note: The sentence occurs at the end of the paragraph following the one in which Victarion twice has sexual intercourse with the dusky woman who then also cleans his wounds.
80. Legendary
@78: I suggest checking out the wiki on the Doom of Valyria if you've already read all five books / read the spoilers.

@79: Garth Gardener was the first king of the Reach, and he was said to have green hands because of his gardening skills, according to the GoT appendix and Chapter 6 of ASoS.
81. Sasha Paris
According to the Wiki of Ice and Fire, House Greenhand (mentioned sporadically throughout the series) ruled the Reach until the Targaryen Conquest. It was then wiped out, though the Tyrells and others claim descent from it.

Nice comparison to Cinderella. Maybe the Hewett ladies should be grateful no one has blinded them or cut off pieces of their feet, as in some versions of the fairy tale.
82. Andrada
@79, 80
the coins issuesd by House Gardener had hands on them as well :)

Gold, yes, but the moment Cersei took it she could tell that it was wrong. Too small, she thought, too thin. The coin was old and worn. On one side was a king’s face in profile, on the other side the imprint of a hand. “This is no dragon,” she said.
“No,” Qyburn agreed. “It dates from before the Conquest, Your Grace. The king is Garth the Twelfth, and the hand is the sigil of House Gardener.”

83. Faculty Guy
A confession: I am a voyeur - reading along Leigh's summaries but not actually reading the book text. I HAVE all the books, in hb SFBC editions. I've started the first one twice, but never gotten beyond a few hundred pages. I just can't "identify" or really care about (essentially) ANY of the characters! And I know most of them are doomed anyway . . .

Can't resist a quip, which this chapter makes especially poignant: the prevalence of rape, gore, dismemberment, and torture make the reading depressing. I might as well read the news media about the terror experienced by the children in Guatamala and Honduras!

I wish that were funny!
84. Chrysippus4321
The ironborn chapters use a theme that Martin frequently returns to: a leader can dampen or catalyze characteristics of his culture. Earlier in the books Martin mentions Ironborn trading with other lands so they do have some idea of peaceful interactions/exploration. But someone like Euron comes along and sweeps away any civilized interactions. He eliminated the few customs that restrained the Ironborn (difference between slaves and thralls, salt-wives and rapine). This seemed to me much like what happened in the earlier war on the continent. I don't think either Rhaegar or Robert/Eddard would have allowed the large scale atrocities that Tywin and Robb/Bolton permitted by their forces.

Eddard believed that a leader was responsible for the actions of his subordinates and is seems to me that Martin believes this also. Each of the military leaders in the series (Tywin, Rob, Bolton, Euron, Drogo, Daenarys) could reduce the atrocities commited by their people and yet Daenarys is the only one who seems to try or feel guilty afterwards.
Adam S.
85. MDNY
@84- Tywin was involved at the end of Robert's rebellion, and Elia's rape and murder, along with the murder of young Aegon and Rhaenys, were at his direction (to prove his support after remaining withdrawn from the bulk of the conflict). And the war started after King Aerys committed atrocities of his own, like roasting Lords alive in front of their sons.
Atrocities are always committed in war, and I don't think GRRM is implying that they didn't happen during Robert's rebellion. Every encounter or story of war in these books depicts how savage it is. What's different with the ironborn is that their attitudes seem to always be that savage, just amplified during war.
Simon Ellberger
86. Puntificator
@85 You say: "What's different with the ironborn is that their attitudes seem to always be that savage, just amplified during war."

This is also true of the Dothraki. It is known. I believe it also describes the wildlings, though you may counter with "You know nothing, Puntificator." And though I may be just a little girl, I am told by those who are older and wiser that it also applies to the natives of Slaver's Bay, which is a very revolting place.

So I think saying the level of savagery is "different with the ironborn" is mayhaps too much of a generalization.
87. NickH
My understanding is that the ironborn lived more or less peacefully after Aegon's conquest. "No longer may we ride the wind with fire and sword, taking what we want. Now we scratch in the ground and toss lines in the sea like other men, and count ourselves lucky if we have salt cod and porridge enough to get us through a winter." - quote from 1st Theon chapter in ACOK.

It was Balon's dream and life goal to return to the "old way". Both Victarion and Aeron (and possibly the entire ironborn nation at this point in their history) are under heavy influence from Balon's ideas.
88. o.m.
@Puntificator in 86, the Wildlings are far from being the freedom-loving anarchists they pretend to be. Unless it is the personal freedom of the stronger to oppress the weaker. The Ironborn are just a little more organized about it.
Simon Ellberger
89. Puntificator
@88. Oh, I agree with you completely. Still, I think disorganized savagery can be just as savage as organized savagery, especially when viewed from the perspective of the victim(s), and that is all I was addressing re the free folk.
90. species5618w
I am curious. Do people really believe the "honorable" and "civilized" lords of the medieval European countries were less savage? Hell, Victor Hugo wrote the the following after the age of "enlightment"

"One day two bandits entered the Summer Palace. One plundered, the other burned. Victory can be a thieving woman, or so it seems. The devastation of the Summer Palace was accomplished by the two victors acting jointly. Mixed up in all this is the name of Elgin, which inevitably calls to mind the Parthenon. What was done to the Parthenon was done to the Summer Palace, more thoroughly and better, so that nothing of it should be left. All the treasures of all our cathedrals put together could not equal this formidable and splendid museum of the Orient. It contained not only masterpieces of art, but masses of jewelry. What a great exploit, what a windfall! One of the two victors filled his pockets; when the other saw this he filled his coffers. And back they came to Europe, arm in arm, laughing away. Such is the story of the two bandits. We Europeans are the civilized ones, and for us the Chinese are the barbarians. This is what civilization has done to barbarism."

And those were probably the more "civilized" acts. Far worse atrocities were commited by the victors of wars. It's just that histories were usually written by the victors, so you don't hear about them. I like what Spike said in Buffy the Vampire Slayer the best.

"You won. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That's what conquering nations do. It's what Caesar did, and he's not goin' around saying, "I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it." The history of the world is not people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story."
91. Andrada
Unrelated to the general discussion, but related to unicorns and rhinos :)
92. Sophist
Double bonus points for the Spike quote from Pangs.
93. Ser Ramus
Because it is winding me up...

Greyjoys do not SOW.

They might not sew either, but all that means is they find themselves in urgent need of a seamstress.
95. DougL
@80. Legendary

I read the wiki page, no new info there, maybe the world book will clean everything up. That there was no actual long lasting effect around the world leads me to the 100% belief that this was a supernatural event.
97. Lantern Joe
@28: What's so nonsensical about the Federation being a post-scarcity civilization?

But yes, the flatness of the non-Westerosi mainland and -Braavos cultures (and most of the Essosi characters, for that matter) is a serious flaw in this series.
98. a1ay
90: the Summer Palace is a really bad example of an atrocity, because

a) no one was actually killed; the Palace was destroyed and burned and pretty much everything movable was looted, but no one died;

b) it wasn't a museum of Chinese civilisation in any sense; it was one of many palaces owned by an incredibly brutal dictator, compared to whom most of the monsters of the 20th century look like amateurs in terms of mass killing;

c) it was done as a deliberate act of reprisal for the Chinese government's decision to capture 17 Europeans and Indians - a diplomatic mission under a flag of truce - and torture them to death by gradual flaying over a period of days.

In the terrible catalogue of human wickedness, I'm not sure that a few soldiers stealing the jewellery of the Emperor of China even makes the top 100.
Anthony Pero
99. anthonypero
Try top 1000. Or maybe even add another zero.
Anthony Pero
100. anthonypero
And just because I can... a nice round number for the thread.

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