Tue
Jul 30 2013 9:00am

Dangerous Women: “The Princess and The Queen, or, The Blacks and The Greens” (Excerpt)

George R. R. Martin

Dangerous Women We are very excited to be able to preview Dangerous Women, a new anthology edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, and featuring 21 new stories from some of the biggest authors in the science fiction/fantasy field. The anthology is available on December 3rd from Tor Books!

Every morning until July 30th, we’ll be previewing excerpts from the stories, returning you to the world of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Brandon Sanderson’s cosmere, and even Westeros itself. Keep an eye on the Dangerous Women index to keep track of them all.

In “The Princess and The Queen, or, The Blacks and The Greens,” George R. R. Martin gives us a Westerosi history lesson on the Targaryen Civil War. Read on, then join Bridget McGovern for her review and analysis of the full story.

 

THE PRINCESS AND THE QUEEN,
OR,
THE BLACKS AND THE GREENS

Being A History of the Causes, Origins, Battles, and Betrayals
of that Most Tragic Bloodletting Known as the Dance of the Dragons,
as set down by Archmaester Gyldayn of the Citadel of Oldtown

((here transcribed by GEORGE R.R. MARTIN))

 

The Dance of the Dragons is the flowery name bestowed upon the savage internecine struggle for the Iron Throne of Westeros fought between two rival branches of House Targaryen during the years 129 to 131 AC. To characterize the dark, turbulent, bloody doings of this period as a “dance” strikes us as grotesquely inappropriate. No doubt the phrase originated with some singer. “The Dying of the Dragons” would be altogether more fitting, but tradition and time have burned the more poetic usage into the pages of history, so we must dance along with the rest.

There were two principal claimants to the Iron Throne upon the death of King Viserys I Targaryen: his daughter Rhaenyra, the only surviving child of his first marriage, and Aegon, his eldest son by his second wife. Amidst the chaos and carnage brought on by their rivalry, other would-be kings would stake claims as well, strutting about like mummers on a stage for a fortnight or a moon’s turn, only to fall as swiftly as they had arisen.

The Dance split the Seven Kingdoms in two, as lords, knights, and smallfolk declared for one side or the other and took up arms against each other. Even House Targaryen itself became divided, when the kith, kin, and children of each of the claimants became embroiled in the fighting. Over the two years of struggle, a terrible toll was taken of the great lords of Westeros, together with their bannermen, knights, and smallfolk. Whilst the dynasty survived, the end of the fighting saw Targaryen power much diminished, and the world’s last dragons vastly reduced in number.

The Dance was a war unlike any other ever fought in the long history of the Seven Kingdoms. Though armies marched and met in savage battle, much of the slaughter took place on water, and... especially... in the air, as dragon fought dragon with tooth and claw and flame. It was a war marked by stealth, murder, and betrayal as well, a war fought in shadows and stairwells, council chambers and castle yards with knives and lies and poison.

Long simmering, the conflict burst into the open on the third day of third moon of 129 AC, when the ailing, bedridden King Viserys I Targaryen closed his eyes for a nap in the Red Keep of King’s Landing, and died without waking. His body was discovered by a serving man at the hour of the bat, when it was the king’s custom to take a cup of hippocras. The servant ran to inform Queen Alicent, whose apartments were on the floor below the king’s.

The manservant delivered his dire tidings directly to the queen, and her alone, without raising a general alarum; the king’s death had been anticipated for some time, and Queen Alicent and her party, the so-called greens,* had taken care to instruct all of Viserys’s guards and servants in what to do when the day came.

*In 111 AC, a great tourney was held at King’s Landing on the fifth anniversary of the king’s marriage to Queen Alicent. At the opening feast, the queen wore a green gown, whilst the princess dressed dramatically in Targaryen red and black. Note was taken, and thereafter it became the custom to refer to “greens” and “blacks” when talking of the queen’s party and the party of the princess, respectively. In the tourney itself, the blacks had much the better of it when Ser Criston Cole, wearing Princess Rhaenyra’s favor, unhorsed all of the queen’s champions, including two of her cousins and her youngest brother, Ser Gwayne Hightower.

Queen Alicent went at once to the king’s bedchamber, accompanied by Ser Criston Cole, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Once they had confirmed that Viserys was dead, Her Grace ordered his room sealed and placed under guard. The serving man who had found the king’s body was taken into custody, to make certain he did not spread the tale. Ser Criston returned to White Sword Tower and sent his brothers of the Kingsguard to summon the members of the king’s small council. It was the hour of the owl.

Then as now, the Sworn Brotherhood of the Kingsguard consisted of seven knights, men of proven loyalty and undoubted prowess who had taken solemn oaths to devote their lives to defending the king’s person and kin. Only five of the white cloaks were in King’s Landing at the time of Viserys’s death; Ser Criston himself, Ser Arryk Cargyll, Ser Rickard Thorne, Ser Steffon Darklyn, and Ser Willis Fell. Ser Erryk Cargyll (twin to Ser Arryk) and Ser Lorent Marbrand, with Princess Rhaenyra on Dragonstone, remained unaware and uninvolved as their brothers-in-arms went forth into the night to rouse the members of the small council from their beds.

Gathering in the queen’s chambers as the body of her lord husband grew cold above were Queen Alicent herself; her father Ser Otto Hightower, Hand of the King; Ser Criston Cole, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard; Grand Maester Orwyle; Lord Lyman Beesbury, master of coin, a man of eighty; Ser Tyland Lannister, master of ships, brother to the Lord of Casterly Rock; Larys Strong, called Larys Clubfoot, Lord of Harrenhal, master of whisperers; and Lord Jasper Wylde, called Ironrod, master of laws.

Grand Maester Orwyle opened the meeting by reviewing the customary tasks and procedures required at the death of a king. He said, “Septon Eustace should be summoned to perform the last rites and pray for the king’s soul. A raven must needs be sent to Dragonstone at once to inform Princess Rhaenyra of her father’s passing. Mayhaps Her Grace the queen would care to write the message, so as to soften these sad tidings with some words of condolence? The bells are always rung to announce the death of a king, someone should see to that, and of course we must begin to make our preparations for Queen Rhaenyra’s coronation—”

Ser Otto Hightower cut him off. “All this must needs wait,” he declared, “until the question of succession is settled.” As the King’s Hand, he was empowered to speak with the king’s voice, even to sit the Iron Throne in the king’s absence. Viserys had granted him the authority to rule over the Seven Kingdoms, and “until such time as our new king is crowned,” that rule would continue.

“Until our new queen is crowned,” Lord Beesbury said, in a waspish tone.

King,” insisted Queen Alicent. “The Iron Throne by rights must pass to His Grace’s eldest trueborn son.”

The discussion that followed lasted nigh unto dawn. Lord Beesbury spoke on behalf of Princess Rhaenyra. The ancient master of coin, who had served King Viserys for his entire reign, and his father Jaehaerys the Old King before him, reminded the council that Rhaenyra was older than her brothers and had more Targaryen blood, that the late king had chosen her as his successor, that he had repeatedly refused to alter the succession despite the pleadings of Queen Alicent and her greens, that hundreds of lords and landed knights had done obesience to the princess in 105 AC, and sworn solemn oaths to defend her rights.

But these words fell on ears made of stone.

 

You can read the entire story on December 3rd, when Dangerous Women is released!


“The Princess and The Queen, or, The Blacks and The Greens” © George R. R. Martin

Keep an eye on the Dangerous Women index to keep track of all our excerpts and reviews, and join Bridget McGovern for her review and analysis of “The Princess and The Queen, or, The Blacks and The Greens”

Dangerous Women on Tor.com: ‹ previous | index | next ›
50 comments
Marcus W
1. toryx
Man, I can't wait to read this entire story.
Halvor Hanssen
2. Halhan
He really knows how to tell a story! This looks promising
Gasta
3. Gasta
I wish he'd write the books that people actually care about rather than this crap.
Philip Thomann
4. normalphil
Huh. So that was the Hightower powerplay, the whole lot. Always wondered why it seemed they never gave the Tyrells much grief.
Gasta
5. Dirtycelt
@#3....Gasta I'm pretty certain that when writing such massive books as the Song of Ice and Fire that the occasional break from them helps to recharge the ol'writing batteries. Patience. All good things take time.
Gasta
6. BobbyWride
This looks like it will be a good read. While I do wish we were getting The Winds of Winter instead, anything from the ASOIAF world is something to get excited about, in my opinion.
Chris Nelly
7. Aeryl
All the people who complain about Martin's writing pace must not have been fans of Stephen King's Dark Tower, which took about twice as long, and the author almost died with the series uncompleted.
Gasta
8. L Lawso.
Aeryl: Yes! Exactly.

By the by, nice Excerpt.
Maiane Bakroeva
9. Isilel
@3 - Speak for yourself, I always wanted to learn more about The Dance of the Dragons! And other stories in the anthology are quite good, too, to judge from the excerpts.
Gasta
10. Sharick
Fucking awesome. Anything from the ASoIaF world is a welcomed read. May GRRM live to be 200.
Gasta
12. santi
great story coming up! im also looking foward to see how dragons can be killed
Gasta
13. Ujo
This story takes place way after the Lannisters got Casterly Rock. This is only 171 years before Asoiaf.
Gasta
14. Blue
@Gasta

No need for wishing (or whining). People do care about this stuff! ASoIaF fans have been waiting for this for months.

And it's looking like it's going to be great. December can't come fast enough.
Gasta
15. Slynt
Happy for those of you who feel this is a worthwhile text, personally I found it too dry and I lost interest during the first paragraph. If writing this material recharges Martin's batteries, fine, but I'd rather have a good, detailed update on the progress of The Winds of Winter than this. Or a story about a Lannister instead of the boring Targaryens with their boring dragons.
Gasta
16. chacho88
anyone who didn't like this, is no true Ice and Fire fan, ill wait as long as it takes, as long as he finishes it before he dies lol
Gasta
17. Jenn Wohletz
Everyone who is acting like entitled, impatient jack*sses: Writing something as long, detailed, and bloody brilliant as ASOIAF is probably difficult enough without constant pressure from people in every media forum, so give GRRM a friggin' break and let him write what he wants, when he wants. And knock this crap off about him dying--that's rude, and besides, he might live forever. : )
Matt Ries
18. mattries37315
I have a history degree and so am accustomed to history books and text, I have to say that I'm pretty interested after reading this excerpt. I was looking forward to "She-Wolves" but I can wait for Dunk & Egg. After December I'm going to be waiting for the publication announcement for TWOW.
Chris Nelly
19. Aeryl
@17, We weren't referring to GRRM dying, but to an author of another 7 book series that did almost die while in the middle of the series.

I agree with everything else you say.
Gasta
20. peachy
Sounds a lot like the Anarchy in its inception (and its resolution) - though a three-year civil war is peanuts compared to that particular kerfuffle.
Cassandra Cookson
21. cass
Sounds a bit like the battle between Matilda and Stephen for the English crown-looking forward to reading it!

Cassandra
Gasta
22. Chuck Finley
@7 I tend to agree that readers need to be patient with an author's writing pace, no good will come of someone trying to crank out creativity on a schedule. Just looking at the dates, though, I'm not sure how well the Dark Tower comparison holds up. The Gunslinger was published in 1982, The Dark Tower in 2004, for a span of 22 years. If you mark the start of that series at the 1978 short story, the span bumps to 26 years. GoT was published in 1996, and DwD in 2011, so Martin's already spanning 15 years. If he's got three more books in him, with an average gap of 4 years, then we're looking at a similar or even greater timespan to finish ASoIaF off - hopefully he'll get inspired as he enters the home stretch and that 4-year gap assumption is wrong! :)
Gasta
23. RobbReyne
This looks freaking awwwwwwwesome! Although I'd have rathered Dunk and Egg #4 (The She-Wolves) to be in Dangerous Women, another Targaryen story from Westeros history is great. Dunk and Egg will definitely be next as the whispers suggest it was too big to be included in Dangerous Women :P Classic GRRM fail.
lake sidey
25. lakesidey
@19 Aeryl (& 17 Jenn) Not to mention another author who did die mid-series. Fortunately, some blessed soul stepped up and completed that one (and did a downright awesome job, for all that I would have loved to know how Lord Jordayne of the Tor himself would have completed it). But GRRM's style is even more unique - I would not trust anyone else to be able to do justice to his tale.

~lakesidey
Gasta
26. Dtea
"Larys Clubfoot" might be Varys's alter ego. This bitch is immortal.
Gasta
27. EnricM
Awesome.
The problem is that having read a few previews already (2 to be exact) and with the time it will take until the book is ready once I'll be reading it I will be wondering what happened to the Klingon battlecruisers heading towards Westeros... or was it the Romulan Empire? Heck, I have to read less, stuff's already mixing up in my brain.
Gasta
28. BarrelRoll42
Wow, brilliant! GRRM has managed to once again draw me in with nothing more than a few paragraphs. I will take more of his expertly crafted prose wherever I can get it! Eagerly anticipating the next installment.

And to those complaining it's not Winds of Winter, let the man take a smoke break every once in a while!
Gasta
30. NS
Love Targaryens and everything to do with them.
Gasta
31. JenniferACarter
I am a fan of everything GRRM writes, and I'm happy with whatever I can get, whenever I can get it. I am grateful. Do not give him grief people, he is not your bitch, and to quote the man himself - "Art is not a democracy", so relax, and go re-read ASOIAF if you need a fix, because I bet there's still a lot that passed you by.
Gasta
33. The Geeky Kestrel
Oh, I love me any GRRM. I'd read a damn long-forgotten Tyrell's obituary by this man (just not anything related to the deaths of Jon Snow or Tyrion and maybe Arya, please). What an epic viewpoint, such a detailed writer with the ability to create a masterful accounting of a whole world and hundreds of characters. We have the JRR Tolkein of our generation. Yes, he is slow and the HBO viewers-only seem like half-hearted wannabes to me and the deaths of characters being complained about as too bloody all drive me crazy too but I won't care a lick about any of them when the next enormous bundle of sweet-smelling pages finally appears and I check into Westeros for a few happy days.
Let's pray to the old gods and the new to have him enjoy the very best of health!
The Wanderer
34. The_Wanderer
The real "Dance With Dragons," is finally going to be told. This is one of the asoiaf backstories I always wanted to see be elaborated upon.
Gasta
35. EJB
Clearly no Tolkien, perhaps a Rowling but nothing exceptional.
Gasta
36. MicNicJ
I can't wait!
Ok is it wrong to be in love with Mr. Martin?
Gasta
37. Baramos
More interested in the supposed fourth Dunk and Egg story (and of course, The Winds of Winter), but this will tide me over, I suppose.
Gasta
38. Baramos
I know it has been rumored, but has it ever been confirmed anywhere that the She-Wolves of Winterfell (or is it the Wolf Women of Winterfell?) will be in the Dunk and Egg anthology that is going to be published?
Gasta
39. Ceryssa
So glad he'll have a story in the anthology! Looking forward to this coming out, from what I've read of the excerpts it'll be great!
Gasta
40. nickyowen666
Personally, ever since I first binged on Game-Feast and had to wait for Dance, I've always been more interested in Westero's history. I wanna know about the Targaryens, the buidling of the Wall, the Doom of Valyria, etc. As for the story as is, it's still great, I wanna know how it works out (please, put Tyrion on a dragon, please) but I don't mind the wait...there's always something else to read.
Gasta
41. Hoooray for History
You don't have to like it, but it's a bit childish to call this "crap". Aside: Tolkien fanboy/girl alert. Dubbing Martin as "this generation's Tolkien" is not a comparison of Martin and Tolkien, but rather a admonishment of this generation's fantasy authors; an opinion that Martin would most genuinely, and honestly reprove himself. So rest easy there Frodo... Tokien is still the bestest.
Gasta
42. Erik Dercf
Reading is a vacation where I can listen in on what I read and what others say about what I read. I hope he lives long enough to enjoy writing this and more. An interesting excerpt thanks Tor I look forward to the book please ebook or paperback for me.
Gasta
43. DragonSauce
First of all this is cool. History behind stuff that we've spent 5000 + pages so far reading abot is great. Just bolsters the story that we do know. Second of all, ASOFI stories are WAAAAAAAY deeper than LOTR. Why didt Frodo just fly on one of those eagles and drop the ring off in the volcano and then fly home... could have been a 200 page book. There was no need for a fellowship of rings or all the diferent people to die. Gandolf was just all stoned and didnt think about the obvious solution.
Gasta
44. scott eatmon
this will be good can't wait for the one about the Blackfyre rebellion, would make a better movie during the summer months while we wait for the next season to start
Gasta
45. Master of Horse
The thing is we don't know much about dragons. A nice historical piece with dragons featured prominently sounds like a very good thing. We will know more about them than daenerys targaryen does at any rate...

And after all, much of what is pleasing about GRRMs writing is his ability to intertwine his fantasy and his fantasy history (from many time periods no less) into this really complex tapestry.

Dunk and Egg 4 sounds really good. But not good as Targaryens with dragons. We need that dragon insight before the Winds of Winter is released.
Gasta
46. Severance
"All this must needs wait"

Really, George ? Really?
Gasta
48. butterflyeleven
Loved this! Can't wait to read the whole story. I, myself am very interested in any history/back story that has to do with Westeros or any character in ASOIAF. I am also grateful for anything GRRM chooses to write and publish. I have plenty of other books to read in between.
Gasta
49. K Russell
A little more than a month to go!! Btw, saying this is crap or boring makes no sense, f#?king trolls.
Gasta
50. DougL
Well, GRRM is a bit of a perfectionist, so he probably did spend a fair amount of time cobbling this together in the form as published, but the general theme and most of the characters already existed in the lore he has used to build the world of Westeros and Essos. So, I doubt he had to spend as much time as people fear on this. Of a far larger worry for me are his constant trips abroad. Not that I want him to churn out shit though, so we have to take the good with the bad.

Still, to those of us who've been around since the first book (I came to the series with Clash), we went from 2 years per book to 5 for a book that was supposed to be half a book (Feast) he had wanted to publish with a byword in the actual book that it should only take a year or so to write and edit the second half (Dance). Now, this delay was tied in part to the abandonment of the 5 year gap and also the Meereenese knot, but still, 5 years. Now we are a full 2 years from Dance and he might be 40% done Winds. I get the frustration.

I think the tale has grown in the telling as he is fond of saying means that the storyboard he had in his mind is of less and less use as the series goes on. He says 2 more books, but it basically has to be 3 unless the Others are just going to end up as the lamest villains/heroes in history. There is too much yet to happen and the Others have to at least reach King's Landing to have menaced the realm to any great degree, hell, I want them defeated in the mountains of Dorne.

So, at this pace we are 12-13 years from the story being wrapped up...yay
Gasta
51. jonsnow
It's AL (after landing), not AC this is game of thrones not the real world
Gasta
52. Galo
These Hightowers are worse than the Lannisters, really. Queen Alicent is such a viper, and her father is a complex figure. His Alliance with the Three Sisters was quite a disgrace for Rhaenyra's men, and Lord Hightower's armies were vast! Even though, Roddy the Ruin beat them hard!

An excellent novella.
Gasta
53. Eyehavnofilter
Where can I get my own dragon, I have some flying revenge BBQ I need to take care of?
Gasta
54. brave danny flint
@52 Galo -- Where are you getting this information??? Just curious.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment