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 25 of A Dance With Dragons, in which we cover Chapter 43 (“Daenerys”).
Previous entries are located in the Index. The only spoilers in the post itself will be for the actual chapters covered and for the chapters previous to them. As for the comments, please note that the Powers That Be have provided you a lovely spoiler thread here on 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!
Chapter 43: Daenerys
Dany lays in bed beside Daario and thinks that she would give up her crown for him if he asked, but knows that he will never ask, for it is the dragon queen he loves, not Dany herself. When he wakes, he entreats her to marry him instead, but she tells him she cannot, and reminds him it will be treason to desire her once she is married. He answers he will be a traitor, then, and convinces her to hold court so he can present his new Westeros men to her. He tells her one of them, Frog, has a gift for her. She is reluctant, but agrees.
The next night she dreams of having sex with Hizdahr, but that he is ice-cold. She prays that the marriage will bring his promised peace, but thinks that this will never be her home. At court, Galazza makes a veiled jab at Dany re: “the presumption of a certain sellsword captain,” but Dany deliberately misinterprets her remark as being about Ben Plumm, and dismisses her. Daario presents to her his Westerosi, in particular the three Dornishmen, Greenguts, Gerrold, and Frog. Dany finds the latter “unimpressive” in appearance. Ser Barristan is suspicious of their claim to be knights, and Gerrold admits that they came to her under false names. At his request, Dany has the court cleared.
Then they introduce themselves as Ser Archibald Yronwood and Ser Gerris Drinkwater for the first two. Frog asks to give her his gift first, which turns out to be a scroll recording a secret pact promising Dorne’s help in overthrowing the Usurper, in return for her brother Viserys’s marriage to Prince Doran’s daughter Arianne. Barristan comments that Robert would have smashed Sunspear and the entire Martell family if he’d known of this, and Dany says if Viserys had known of it, he would have gone to Dorne the moment he came of age. Frog says this is why his father kept it secret, to wait until Viserys had an army, and reveals himself to be Prince Quentyn Martell.
Dany laughs, causing Quentyn to flush, and explains to her courtiers in their own language about the prince/frog joke there. She finds him “neither enchanted nor enchanting,” and observes that Doran means for she and Quentyn to marry in Arianne and Viserys’s stead. Daario is openly mocking of Quentyn, calling him a “mewling boy.” Dany tells Quentyn he should have come a year ago, for she weds Hizdahr zo Loraq the next day, and sends them away. She remembers her dream uneasily, though, and wonders if it is a sign from the gods. Barristan tells her that the Martells’ arms are “A sun in splendor, transfixed by a spear,” and Dany wonders if Quentyn is “the sun’s son” in Quaithe’s prophecy to her, but leaves it all in irritation.
She and Daario have a lot of sex, and he leaves the next morning with curt words, unwilling to stay in the city while she gets married. Missandei suggests it is not too late to get out of marrying a man she does not love, but Dany tells her “A queen loves where she must, not where she will.” As she prepares to leave for the temple, Quentyn finds her and makes one last plea for his case, but she tells him that she will return to Westeros and Dorne one day, but today she weds for this city. Barristan tells her stories of her parents until they meet up with Hizdahr’s procession, and they continue on to the Temple of the Graces, where Hizdahr ritually washes her feet.
He has gentle hands, she mused, as warm fragrant oils ran between her toes. If he has a gentle heart as well, I may grow fond of him in time.
When her feet were clean, Hizdahr dried them with a soft towel, laced her sandals on again, and helped her stand. Hand in hand, they followed the Green Grace inside the temple, where the air was thick with incense and the gods of Ghis stood cloaked in shadows in their alcoves.
Four hours later, they emerged again as man and wife, bound together wrist and ankle with chains of yellow gold.
Well, this is just not my favorite thing at all.
Though I do confess to a certain amount of relief that at least the assassination attempt or coup or whatever I had totally been expecting to disrupt the wedding never happened. Better wed than dead… I GUESS.
But even so, this is all going to turn out to be such a huge mistake, y’all. I feel it in my bonezzzzz. So trepidation. Very dread. Wow.
First of all, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND from what moist crevice Dany thinks Hizzy-boy is going to pull this so-touted peace from. It seems like she thinks the process will be: she marries him, they go to the gigantic horde of enemies surrounding them on all sides and be like “Dudes, look, we got hitched!”, and the gigantic horde of enemies will be all, “Oh? Well, wow, hey, no shit! Congrats! We’ll just be heading on home then! Good luck, you crazy kids!”
I’m just saying, I do not think that it how it is going to go. I have no idea how it is going to go, but I’m pretty damn sure we’re not getting the sitcom ending here.
Second of all, to young master Quentyn:
One job, dude! And you blew it. BLEW IT.
Man, I can’t believe that was (one of) the meetings I had been pinning my hopes on for, what, most of a book? Longer? Agh!
So much fail. But then, it’s probably not completely Quentyn’s fault. Because Quentyn is (relatively speaking) a decent, clean-cut, non-deranged guy whose ego isn’t the size and composition of a hot air balloon. So naturally Dany finds him utterly uninteresting, because she is apparently only attracted to epic douchebags.
Not to mention, Dany was something of a douche to Quentyn herself. I mean, he might not think she fucks horses or eats live bats or whatever the rumors were anymore, but she certainly didn’t give him much reason to think she was a particularly nice person. She was, in fact, kind of really rude to him, and seemed bizarrely underwhelmed by what should have been the epic news that Dorne is totally ready to ally with her to get the Iron Throne back. Okay, so she is committed to this damn Meereen thing, I get it, but you didn’t have to laugh at him, Dany, damn.
So, I went and actually found Quaithe’s original prophecy. Which, I might add, takes a bit of doing when you can’t just Google it. (I’ve actually been sort of avoiding the greater portion of the Internet altogether recently, until the furor dies down from whatever happened in the season finale of the show; I don’t know what it was, but apparently people had MANY THINGS to yell about it.) So I could only search my own posts to find it, and that was a PITA, let me tell you.
Anyway, the prophecy! Which I fortunately quoted in full back in the day, so:
“Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.”
Okay, right. Well, I was pretty much right about the pale mare thing, wasn’t I. Yay, dysentery!
But wow, I forgot there were this many people coming. I also completely forgot the existence of Dark Flame Maester Guy, whose name I still don’t remember. And I still don’t know who “the mummer’s dragon” is supposed to be. I suppose he could be Hizdahr? But I don’t know why that description would apply to him, at all.
And where are all these hep cats, anyway? Well, Tyrion’s busy getting enslaved at the moment, goddammit, and Griff The Most Unsubtly Named has been detoured to Dorne last I recall, so that’s those guys, but I have no idea what’s keeping Victarion “Emo Murder” Greyjoy or Dark Flame Maester Whatshisguts or mummer dragon guy.
You know, other than the massive naval blockade, the desert filled with crazed mercenaries, and the plague-riddled suburbs. Ahem.
Okay, fine, but you guys are seriously falling down on your prophetic jobs. Quentyn may be the doofiest of the bunch, but at least he managed to get there a couple of minutes before she got married. I dunno, but I hear arriving post-nuptials kind of puts the kibosh on the whole “suing for her hand” part of suitoring.
I also didn’t remember the other thing, which is that Quaithe told her not to trust any of them. Which is a bit startling in that it includes Quentyn, who is many things, but “devious” is really not one of them. The other guys, sure (including and maybe even especially Tyrion), but Quentyn is kind of heart-breakingly sincere from what I can tell.
But, maybe Quaithe meant Doran shouldn’t be trusted, i.e. the folks behind Quentyn. Which, okay, except Doran seems pretty sincere in his wish to put a Targaryen back on the throne too. So maybe it’s Quaithe herself who isn’t trustworthy and this whole prophecy’s a bunch of crap. I don’t think that’s true, at least not entirely, but it’s certainly true that I have absolutely no clue what Quaithe’s agenda is either. Agenda, hell; I don’t even know what her deal is.
So there’s all that. Then there’s the third thing of all, which is the utterly unacceptable percentage of this chapter that had Daaaaaario in it. Because he is, as I may have mentioned once or twice, a tool.
Khal Drogo had been her sun-and-stars, but he had been dead so long that Daenerys had almost forgotten how it felt to love and be loved.
Ah, jeez. I have been very hard on Dany for this whole Daario thing, but then I read a passage like this and remember that Drogo is her gold standard for a healthy relationship (also her sole point of comparison), and then I just want to beat up the entire world for how badly it’s fucked her up.
Anyway, I think I’m supposed to feel sympathy for Daario in this chapter that Dany’s using him for sex while simultaneously saying more or less explicitly that he’s not good enough for her to actually marry, but I… kinda don’t, sorry. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but, well.
I do at least feel like he is less of a threat to her than I had previously assumed. But then again, I should probably never underestimate the potential fallout of a bruise on an ego that size, so hopefully I’m not jumping the gun on that score. Still plenty of time for things to go horribly wrong!
As a side note to that, I’m actually a little unclear on whether general knowledge of Dany’s affair with Daario would be a scandal in Meereen or not. I would assume that the standard patriarchal bullshit of “men can totally sleep around all they want and women can… put up with it” applies, but Dany seems weirdly unconcerned with being discovered if that’s the case. Or not unconcerned, but not as concerned as she should be.
Oh, I just reread that court bit, and Galazza certainly seems to have an issue with her dallying with Daario, so there’s that. So probably it’s totally taboo just like usual and Dany just doesn’t give a shit anymore. I find that simultaneously admirable and stupid on her part. But then, I feel that way about 95% of everything Dany has ever done, so at least she gets points for consistency.
Though maybe more in the “stupid” column in light of this:
Reznak mo Reznak bowed and beamed. “Magnificence, every day you grow more beautiful. I think the prospect of your wedding has given you a glow.”
Hopefully she’s just switched to a really good moisturizer?
And I’m spent for the nonce, chirren! Have a lovely late June weekend, and I’ll see you next Thursday!