A Read of Ice and Fire

A Read of Ice and Fire: A Dance with Dragons, Part 16

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 16 of A Dance With Dragons, in which we cover Chapter 27 (“Tyrion”).

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, scheduling note: Once again it is JordanCon season, and once again I will be there, hurray! Ergo, there will be no ROIAF post on Thursday, April 16th. Mark your calendars, and if you happen to be in the Atlanta area that weekend, come on by and say Haaaaay!

Onward!

Chapter 27: Tyrion

What Happens
Tyrion and the knight enter Volantis, Tyrion “trussed like a goose” to his saddle. Tyrion tries to convince his captor that Cersei’s reward for his head will not be worth the trouble, but the knight answers that maybe he only wants Tyrion to pay for his crimes. He asks how Tyrion could kill his own father, and Tyrion offers to demonstrate. As they travel through the city, Tyrion notices the throngs of slaves, and the knight tells him they are going to hear the High Priest Benerro speaking. They pass through the plaza before the enormous temple of the Lord of the Light, which is filled to bursting. Tyrion cannot understand what Benerro is saying, but it is received with great emotion from the crowd, and he is uneasily reminded of the day of the riot in King’s Landing. The knight translates some of the speech, and Tyrion remembers Haldon’s idea to recruit Benerro to Young Griff’s cause, which now strikes him as a very bad idea.

The knight sells his horse and uses the money to have iron manacles forged for Tyrion, which he says will mark Tyrion as a slave, ensuring no one will listen to him. Tyrion tells himself it is still better than being dead. They cross the Long Bridge to the west side of the city and go to the Merchant’s House, where Tyrion hopes that perhaps Griff might find him. The knight takes a room, chaining Tyrion up, and Tyrion tells him he knows who he is, and that he, Tyrion, also works for Varys and that they should not be at odds. Jorah tells him his loyalties lie elsewhere now, and Tyrion thinks he means Cersei, and asks why Jorah doesn’t just behead him and be done with it. Jorah laughs and throws dinner at Tyrion’s head. They discuss Volantene politics, and Jorah tells Tyrion they will set sail the next day. He goes to sleep, and Tyrion tries to sleep, but his chains will not allow him to sit or lie down.

Tyrion is unable to walk by the next morning, and Jorah carries him down to the common room. There is a dwarf there who seems to recognize Tyrion, but Jorah doesn’t care. Over breakfast, he tells Tyrion about “some exiled lord” who has hired the Golden Company to win back his lands for him, and Tyrion is astounded to think that Young Griff has “taken the bait” and abandoned the idea of marrying Daenerys. He wonders if perhaps it is a ruse, and that Griff means to change plans once out to sea.

They meet with “the widow of the waterfront”, aka “Vogarro’s whore,” whom Jorah asks for passage to Meereen. Tyrion is floored at the realization that Jorah intends to take him to Daenerys instead of Cersei, and starts laughing hysterically until Jorah shuts him up. The widow observes that all the other Westeros exiles are sailing west, not east, and speculates that Jorah’s interest is in “the silver queen.” She repeats the vile rumors spread about her, which angers Jorah, and advises him to wait a while, and he will be able to join the Volantene forces sent against the queen. Jorah asks if she thinks there will be war, and the widow answers that she thinks there will, “but not the war they want.”

She demands to know why Jorah wants to go to Daenerys, and eventually he is compelled to say it is to serve her. The widow is skeptical of his chivalry, and reveals that she knows Tyrion’s true identity. She asks what a “kinslayer, kingslayer, murderer, turncloak” Lannister wants with the queen, and Tyrion answers her honestly that he will give her whatever she wants in return for allowing him his revenge on Cersei. The widow approves of that answer, but tells Jorah she does not trust him, and will not help him.

Then the dwarf Tyrion had noticed earlier attacks him. Tyrion realizes she is a girl even as he barely fends off the attack. Jorah grabs her, and Tyrion demands to know what he’s done to her. The girl says Tyrion is the reason her brother died, and Tyrion realizes she was one of the dwarfs at Joffrey’s wedding, that started the whole thing. She begs someone to kill Tyrion, and the widow intervenes and sends her away to be cared for. The widow decides that she had best help Tyrion after all. Tyrion asks her to get rid of his manacles. The widow tells him she cannot do that here, but in two days the Selaesori Qhoran
will set sail for Qarth, carrying (among other things) “a corpse pickled in brine” and a red priest, and to be on her when she sails. Jorah says Qarth is not their destination, and the widow says that Benerro has seen that the ship will never get there.

“As you say.” Tyrion grinned. “If I were Volantene, and free, and had the blood, you’d have my vote for triarch, my lady.”

“I am no lady,” the widow replied, “just Vogarro’s whore. You want to be gone from here before the tigers come. Should you reach your queen, give her a message from the slaves of Old Volantis.” She touched the faded scar upon her wrinkled cheek, where her tears had been cut away. “Tell her we are waiting. Tell her to come soon.”

Commentary
Huh. It seems Dany has a few allies after all.

Including Tyrion and Jorah, as dubious as their allegiance’s value may be.

Speaking of which: HAHA TOTALLY CALLED IT. I am awesome!

I mean, it was probably obvious to most people, but whatever, I was right and I’m going to be happy about it, so back up off me, bro. Yeah! Yeah!

*makes obnoxious “Yeah! Yeah!” gestures*

Annnnnyway.

Which isn’t to say there weren’t some surprises in this chapter, foremost of which is the news that Tyrion’s plan for Aegon the Newer to go to Dorne was, contrary to my expert military assessment (*cough*), not meant to be a good plan at all.

Or maybe it was? I’m getting kind of confused re: what Tyrion’s actual objectives are (aside from the obvious endgame of Kill Cersei Really Most Sincerely Dead), because I thought that Tyrion was actually trying to help Young Griff (and Illyrio and Varys) with that idea.

Because, you know, helping Dany and/or Aegon to retake the throne by necessity involves Cersei’s downfall, so as far as I can tell Tyrion’s interests and Griff et al’s interests are perfectly aligned in that respect. Not to mention, Tyrion seemed genuinely concerned at the red temple about Aegon the Newer’s likely less than favorable reception by Benerro and Co., which is yet another reason why the Dorne plan is the better one.

But if so, then why does Tyrion think of his Dorne plan as “bait”? That would imply that he doesn’t want New Aegon to achieve his goals, that he proposed the Dorne thing to throw them off. But earlier in the chapter Tyrion is surprised by how much he cares about Griff’s plans! So… I don’t get it.

Well, who knows. Maybe he’s just crazy. Maybe he doesn’t have any real objectives. Maybe Tyrion’s just trying to generate as much chaos as possible on Westeros in general, and bugger who actually comes out on top. Maybe he’s deciding to finally really live up to his moniker.

I hope not, because he’s really starting to put me off, and that would not help in the slightest.

“I will lead her armies or rub her feet, as she desires. And the only reward I ask is I might be allowed to rape and kill my sister.”

And that? Helps even less.

Dammit, Tyrion, don’t make me hate you. Kill Cersei, fine; no one agrees more than me that she deserves to die. But the other is beyond the pale—and not just because she’s your sister, either. Stop being a colossal bag of misogynist pro-rape dicks and get your shit together, Jesus.

Right now he’s making frickin’ Jorah look good in comparison, and that’s with Jorah being a total shit to Tyrion, with the not allowing him to lie down, and letting him think he was getting shipped back to Cersei as long as possible. Granted, he thinks Tyrion killed his nephew and his own father for no particular reason, but it’s not like your shit don’t stink, dude.

Ugh. They both kind of suck right now.

For half a heartbeat [Tyrion] thought he glimpsed Illyrio Mopatis, but it was only one of those white dwarf elephants passing the front door.

Sigh. But Tyrion is still funny, unfortunately.

I felt really bad for the girl dwarf. How much must that suck, to run halfway around the world and still run straight into the cause of all your woes. Maximum suckage, girl. Hopefully the widow will actually treat her well.

Speaking of the widow, she’s kind of awesome. Though I have no idea what she meant by “a corpse pickled in brine” being on that ship. Whose corpse? Presumably it’s someone whom we would care about being dead (or, maybe, that Dany would care about being dead), but I’m stumped as to who it could be. Probably it will be blindingly obvious in retrospect. Grump.

An enormity of pillars, steps, buttresses, bridges, domes, and towers flowing into one another as if they had all been chiseled from one colossal rock, the Temple of the Lord of Light loomed like Aegon’s High Hill. A hundred hues of red, yellow, gold, and orange met and melded in the temple walls, dissolving one into the other like clouds at sunset. Its slender towers twisted ever upward, frozen flames dancing as they reached for the sky. Fire turned to stone.

This sounds both ridiculous and awesome.

Actually, that sentence sums up most of Martin’s descriptions of his architectural flights of fancy.

Flames had been tattooed across [Benerro’s] cheeks and chin and shaven head to make a bright red mask that crackled about his eyes and coiled down and around his lipless mouth. “Is that a slave tattoo?” asked Tyrion.

The knight nodded. “The red temple buys them as children and makes them priests or temple prostitutes or warriors.”

Interesting. Does that mean Melisandre is or was a slave? I don’t remember her having a facial tattoo, though, so maybe not. Maybe only some of the clergy are.

At any rate, don’t think I missed what’s happening here, and frankly I’m amazed it’s been allowed to get this far. Between what the widow said and Benarro’s evidently huge popularity among the enslaved population for supporting Daenerys, I don’t understand how no one in Volantis appears to have noticed that they are on the brink of a massive slave revolt.

But then, the point that Martin seems to be emphatically making time and again with the slaver cities is that centuries of institutionalized slavery has pretty much rotted these people’s brains into a cesspool of lazy, hedonistic, and massively over-entitled sludge, overripe for a fall. So maybe that they haven’t noticed this is part of the message.

Slave rebellions are, historically, terrible things for everyone involved (and so far Dany’s has not exactly disproved that statistic), but, well. Something’s got to give, here. Tyrion is pissing me off, but if he can actually help Dany end slavery in the region in a way that actually works, I’m more than prepared to hold my nose. Because in that scenario Tyrion is definitely the lesser of two weevils.


And that’s the post, y’all! Have a lovely Easter weekend if that be your religious and/or cultural inclination, and I’ll see you next Thursday!

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