Welcome 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 4 of A Dance With Dragons, in which we cover Chapter 6 (“The Merchant’s Man”).
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 Tor.com. 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!
Before we begin, one last scheduling note: The holidays are RIGHT ON TOP OF US OMGGGGG, so there will be no ROIAF posts on either December 25th or January 1st, because I hope that most of you will have better things to do on those days anyway. The blog will resume on January 8th. Huzzah!
Chapter 6: The Merchant’s Man
In Volantis, Quentyn Martell and his companion Gerris Drinkwater are trying to find a ship to take them to Meereen. The smuggler captain they are speaking to points out that there are no slaves in Meereen any more and therefore no profit, and asks why they want to go there. Gerris lies that they seek to sell Dornish wine there. The captain reminds them that the slave cities are at war, and Gerris is forced to admit that every other ship they’ve approached has turned them down for that reason. The captain agrees to take them for triple the normal passage fee, but after they leave him, Gerris and Quentyn agree that the man would slit their throats as soon as they were at sea.
They head back to their inn, and Quentyn thinks of the three companions they lost when corsairs attacked their last ship. He mourns William Wells and Cletus Yronwood, but he especially misses Maester Kedry, who had been an expert on the Free Cities, and Quentyn feels the loss of his guidance keenly. They debate what to do, and Gerris suggests that “the big man” is right, and they should go overland rather than by sea. Quentyn tells him that going by the demon road is too dangerous and too slow, but Gerris points out that they might never find a ship. Quentyn dreads the idea of returning to Dorne a failure. He thinks of his inexperience with women, and that now he is expected to woo and marry “the most beautiful woman in the world.” He wonders why Daenerys Targaryen would ever want to marry him. He assures himself that she needs Dorne to win the Seven Kingdoms, and will “honor the agreement,” but worries that she may not love or even like him, and that he will not be equal to the task his father has set him.
Before the inn, they are briefly harassed by recruiters for the mercenary company Windblown, who are singing about going to Slaver’s Bay to “kill the butcher king and fuck the dragon queen,” and go in to find “the big man,” Ser Archibald Yronwood waiting for them. After hearing of their lack of success, Archibald is still pushing for going the demon road, but Quentyn fears Daenerys will be dead by the time they reach her that way, and suggests maybe they should take the smuggler’s ship after all. Gerris laughs and says no.
“Do you have a better way?” Quentyn asked him.
“I do. It’s just now come to me. It has its risks, and it is not what you would call honorable, I grant you… but it will get you to your queen quicker than the demon road.”
“Tell me,” said Quentyn Martell.
Agh, no! grumblemumblecliffhangerspfeh
Well, so much for my sad cockamamie theory that “Griff” is Quentyn. Bummer. Man, if that means “Griff” is the dude’s actual name I’m going to have to sulk for a bit.
So much for my other wild theories that Quentyn is someone already close to Dany, too. In fact now that I’ve actually met him, Quentyn isn’t anything at all like I’d pictured him. For one, I would never have guessed him to be so… hapless.
Granted, most of my previous assumptions about him are owed to Arianne, who was busy being extremely paranoid about her brother’s supposed nefarious designs on her inheritance. That, combined with the fact that Doran had sent Quentyn on his Sooper Sekrit Fuck Tha Lannisters Quest in the first place, gave me the distinct impression that Quentyn was a pretty crafty guy, and probably also an asshole.
And instead he’s… nice. And really not crafty. At all.
At least so far. Which, in the context of ASOIAF, is so weird I’m not even sure what to do with it.
It also instantly makes me very concerned about his survival chances. But then, I’ve sort of gotten that feeling about several of the Martells and their friends. Arianne, for instance, displayed a shocking amount of naïveté during her shenanigans in AFFC, and even Doran with all his connivingness still makes me obscurely concerned that he’s being too trusting in some way with his plans.
(I was going to add “Oberyn and his Sand Snakes obviously not included” in that statement about the Martells, but then again, Oberyn’s survival chances turned out to be zero, didn’t they?)
Apparently it’s a Dornish thing, this tendency toward blithe and slightly doofy obliviousness. Which is worrying in context, but refreshing in the abstract. It also reinforces my impression that if I had to go someplace in ASOIAF, I’m pretty sure Dorne would be my first pick.
It’s amazing what a little humanity will do: after one chapter, I am officially rooting for Quentyn and Dany to get together, just because his basic appearance of decency (and his freely acknowledged shyness about relations with the ladies) is rendered even more adorable than it would normally be just by comparison to the rest of the absolute douchebags also currently after Dany.
It also helps, of course, that he clearly thinks of Dany as a person, even though he’s never actually met her, and is concerned about her reaction to the situation on a personal level as well as a political one. A trait which is, apparently, also one nearly exclusive to Dorne, this whole “thinking of women as people” thing. Sigh.
Speaking of the politics of it all, maybe there’s a larger picture I’m not seeing at the moment that would make this whole idea a bad one, but as of right now me and my liberal self is all about Dorne and Dany uniting forces and kicking the shit out of
the patriarchy the rest of Westeros, and the Free Cities too while they’re at it. It’s almost definitely a pipe dream to root for a lack of slavery and misogyny All Across The Lands, but I can fondly imagine it for a moment. Aw. So pretty.
I’m a little confused about Quentyn’s comment that Dany would “honor the agreement,” though, which suggests that there is, well, an agreement of some kind already in place between Dany and Dorne, and if that’s the case then I have really missed something. Maybe he just meant that once an agreement is made, that Dany will surely honor it. I hope so, because otherwise I am super dumb.
I wonder if Tyrion and Quentyn are going to run into each other in Volantis. Seems like the sort of thing that should happen, but I have no idea what the result would be. I don’t think there’s been any hint so far that Illyrio and Varys’s plan to restore Dany to the Iron Throne has anything to do with Doran’s plan to basically do the same (except with bonus perks to Dorne, of course), but even if there is no connection whatsoever, it seems to me that both schemes would dovetail nicely together. They should totally join forces, y’all.
Other, random notes:
So we’re still doing the epithet chapter titles in ADWD? Enh. I mean, I guess it’s symmetrical structurally, which is definitely a thing with Martin, so okay, but it’s still not my favorite.
Demon road: contains actual demons? Let’s hope not!
Rich and ripe and rotted, Volantis covered the mouth of the Rhoyne like a warm wet kiss, stretching across hill and marsh on both sides of the river.
Dwarf elephants! Ooh! I want one!
Okay, not really. But I want one metaphorically. Or something.
Another displayed a gigantic turtle, strung up by its legs on iron chains, heavy as a horse.
This made me perhaps disproportionately sad, considering all the other dead sealife in this bit. But man, killing giant tortoises? Not cool.
“I have no need for comic dwarfs. Unless they have a ship.”
“A small one, I would think.”
So that about does the ROIAF for the year, I think. I wish alla y’all a lovely and happy holiday season, and I will see you in 2015! Yay!