The Prince of Magpies

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  1. Aegon later claimed Quicksilver (prior to the Battle Beneath the God's Eye), so even if we accept the 'Dragon genes' theory, it isn't really applicable here. Also, you would suppose that if Aegon, Viserys or any other Targaryen prior to the Dance tried to claim a Dragon and was rejected owing to their genes, it would be remarked upon somewhere in the histories. Maegor could have made a huge deal of dragons rejecting Aenys' boys to back up the claim that he should succeed his brother.
  2. Terrific episode. Well done to all involved. I'm probably interpreting the GEotD/main story parallels far too literally here, but if Dany is the Amethyst Empress, Euron is probably the best contender for Bloodstone Emperor in every way (woman with white fire = tiger woman bride, blaspheming, practising black magic) bar one: he's not a 'jealous younger brother' archetype for Dany in any way. Does this mean there'll be a darker role for fAegon or even Jon?
  3. A minor quibble, but we're told that Aegon IV promised Fireball a place in the Kingsguard - not that it was part of his will (like legitimising his bastards was). We don't really know how formal the promise was. Was it something that people other than Fireball would take seriously? Or just Aegon manipulating/messing with Fireball by hinting at the possibility of helping him realise his dream? Nor are we told how long ago that promise was made in relation to Daeon's ascension and the next available spot in the Kingsguard opening up. It seems unreasonable for a future spot in the guard to be 'reserved' for one person for many years. Also, while I think you make a good case for Bittersteel being a more honourable man than most of the fandom would perceive him, I don't think the 'why didn't he just crown himself?' part of the argument holds up. Regardless of what we think of his honour, I think we can agree that Bittersteel was quite a pragmatic organiser (not joining in Daemon II's rebellion because it was doomed to fail, founding the Golden Company to keep the Blacks in exile organised and united, etc.). The Black cause might have been borne out of discontent with Daeron II, but it had a focus and a rallying point in the charisma and prowess of Daemon, and his claim to the throne (which, coming through two royal Targaryens and being the oldest Great bastard were better than anyone outside of Daeron's line). Bittersteel would know that crowning himself would result in losing the support of the men who idolised Daemon - all the more so post-Redgrass when the Blacks were exiled to Essos or scattered around Westeros licking their wounds. The only thing that could have united them would be fighting for Daemon's honour, memory and family by trying to place one of his sons on the Iron Throne. In The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight, we see how - in some people's eyes, at least - Daemon and his cause have the moral high ground over Daeron II and Aerys I (thanks in no small part to the unpopularity brought on by Bloodraven which you described). That moral high ground - and the hopes of any support it might bring - would evaporate if Bittersteel bypassed Daemon's sons to crown himself. The septon in TMK preaches for the Black dragon to return and save the realm, not for 'anyone but Daeron/Aerys/Bloodraven. Bittersteel may have had honourable reasons for not crowning himself, but - on the evidence we have so far - pragmatic concerns would seem to trump honour as the main factor in that decision.
  4. tPatQ is set in a period one generation removed from Jaehaerys/Alyssane's outlawing of the 'Right of the First Night,' so it's likely most of the seeds were descended from Targaryens who 'had their way' with peasants' wives before it was outlawed. It's difficult to be precisely sure because we don't know when in Jaehaerys' long reign he outlawed the First Night, but we're presented with Silver Denys who claims to be a bastard of Maegor (pre-outlawing), Alyn and Addam who are likely consensual sons of Corlys, Nettles who - judging by her non-Targaryen looks - presumably has a Targaryen further up her family tree than a parent, and Ulf and Hugh who may have Targaryen parents, or may not - it's particularly unclear since we don't even know their ages so we can't guess whether they would have been conceived before or after the First Night being outlawed. From all of that, I got the impression that the Targaryens practising the First Night on Dragonstone was a practise from many years before the story is set (though they still probably continue to father bastards through affairs after the outlawing).
  5. Before I weigh in with my own thoughts, I must say well done to @The Grey Wolf for some really terrific and thought-provoking posts on Daeron I and his contemporaries. The point about he, Baelor and Viserys II all trying to re-define the monarchy post-Dance is a particularly interesting one. I've often thought that the death of the dragons leads to a major identity crisis in the Targaryen dynasty which we see reflected particularly sharply in the first post-Dance generation. They tend toward extremes of piety/sobriety (Baelor, Rhaena, Aemon, Naerys) or prideful extrovertism (Daena, Daeron I, Aegon IV). The latter sort seem to want to flaunt their greatness as Targaryens and thus implicitly undercut any notion that they might be any less special for their lack of dragons. Personally, I think a lot of Aegon IV's bitterness and spite stems from the fact that he had the personality of the latter group without ever truly being remarkable enough to back it up, and - on some level - he knew that. Being surrounding by so many paragons (Aemon, Daeron I, Baelor) who were so widely celebrated for their piety and/or prowess must have compounded that. As for Daerons I & II, I think Daeron I suffered a bit reputation-wise, because Daeron II essentially achieved the assimilation of Dorne into the 7 Kingdoms bloodlessly and thus made his uncle's conquest seem more about the foolhardy visions of glory of a young man than a serious political plan. However, Daeron II's peaceful plan may not have been possible without Daeron I proving to the Dornish that the Targaryens could best them militarily. With the Targaryen monarchy - and the realm as a whole - still finding its feet after the Dance, a proposal for Dorne to peacefully join the 7 Kingdoms via marriage from Daeron I may have been rejected. After all, what did Dorne have to fear from this dragon-less boy king? Why join a realm that had so recently tore itself apart? Daeron I's invasion not only gave the Dornish pause for thought about the threat of the Targaryens, but also spoke to their ability to unite the realm (and the strength of this united realm). As for Daeron II's supposed lax treatment of the Dornish. I admit that allowing them to keep their own laws may have been a bad political move, but given that many of those laws square with my own morals (equal rights for men and women, less stigma for children born out of wedlock), I find it difficult to denounce him for doing so. Perhaps Daeron was a particularly progressive man who agreed with those laws and hoped through allowing Dorne to keep them, he could eventually persuade the rest of the realm to adopt them? The strategic marriages of his sons certainly speaks to a political nous and awareness of the sensitivity around the Dornish issue on his part. Also, it's possible - though not hugely likely, I admit - that some of the Dornish 'war criminals' were punished in some way as part of the deal that united the realm, but we haven't heard of it. Perhaps those punishments were deemed insufficiently severe by the eventual Blackfyre supporters, or perhaps - as a gesture of goodwill to his brother in law - he didn't publicise them much.
  6. With any of Martin's historical characters there's a huge amount of wiggle room for vastly varying opinions since we mainly hear about them through in universe second or third-hand sources. Which of course makes it all the more fun to debate about them! Personally, I buy into Lord Varys' (the poster on these boards, not the Spider himself) theory that Mushroom's accounts of Criston Cole can be read as a kind of manic sarcastic satire. That Cole was ambitious and without scruples when it came to what he did with his blade or his cock, but prone to passionate obsessions. Think Littlefinger in armour. So he has this wild passion for Rhaenyra stemming from her childhood infatuation with him. She grows out of it, but he doesn't. Instead he shows himself painfully willing to forsake the knightly code to pursue his passion for her. Maybe to the extent that this is an open secret at Viserys I's court (Alicent jokes about it at one point). So Mushroom's testimony mocks this situation by continually referring to Cole's chivalry in ridiculously over the top terms ("chaste as an aged septa" etc) in a manner which would have tickled the fancy of anyone who lived through the era and knew the truth of the matter. But the mists of time have shrouded the irony of Mushroom's testimony and Yandel relates it as a straight, if ribald, account, puzzled as to why it clashes with other accounts of the romantic and sexual soap opera elements of the Dance.
  7. Yeah, as far as we can surmise from the World Book, it seems to be some sort of ancient Roman Republic-type set-up, with elected officials (selected from rich, landowning families) running the show. There was a dragonlord called Aurion who declared himself 'Emperor of Valyria' following the Doom, but he and his army were lost in the smoking ruins of Valyria when they marched in to conquer it.
  8. I've juggled the idea that Kings Landing might be "charred bones and cooked meat" (to quote Aerys himself) before the series ends, but who knows whether there'll be a replacement built before the end or even at all? In any case, I think Aerys white marble city is a more a sign of his delusions of grandeur and hubris than anything else. It very much reminded me of Elaida's plans to build a bigger White Tower in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (for those who haven't read it, Elaida may not be as mad as Aerys, but she's equally arrogant and hubristic) or Hitler's plans to build Germania, his world capital, after WWII (which was essentially going to be a hodge podge of gargantuan imitations of world monuments such as the Arc d'Triomphe).
  9. Given that Aegon was headstrong enough to defy Jon Connington and lead the attack on Storm's End, perhaps he'll fall for Arianne and insist that he can marry her and take Dany as a second wife in emulation of the Conqueror.
  10. I'm particularly curious about the 4th question. In the Reach, we have the historically non-royal Tyrells appointed rulers by Aegon and having to put up with other Houses undermining their right to rule by claiming closer ties to the Gardners or lauding their historic status as monarchs in their own right (Redwynes, Hightowers etc). In the Riverlands, the Tullys are in a similar situation, so it seems likely that 'lesser' Houses there would gripe about it at some stage and champion their own claims on the area. The Brackens and Blackwoods are the only Houses who can claim a royal history, so it seems far from unlikely that occupying the seat of the last 'true' River Kings would form part of some other House's claim to glory and local dominance.
  11. But there has been Targaryen blood in Hightowers through Rhaena's (Daemon's daughter) marriage through Garmund Hightower and the 6 daughters they had. Some member of this forum (Lord Varys maybe?) posited that these daughters ended up marrying into the incongruously 'minor' houses that Daeron II's children marry into (Dondarrion, Dayne and Penrose).
  12. It's quite a decent parallel, and one I hadn't spotted before. Nice one. The main significance I see emerging from it is how it underlines a theme we see recurring a fair bit in the series: the subjectivity of saviors/heroes. Mirri justifies her role in Rhaego's death to Dany by pointing out that being 'the Stallion that Mounts the World' would have meant being a source of misery to so many other civilisations. The Dothrakhi hero is a villain to the peaceful Lhazreen. In the case of Bittersteel, he's the founder of the Golden Company and the man who kept the flame of the Blackfyre cause burning when it might well have gone out after the Redgrass Field. To the GC/BF supporters, he's their founding father and a thorn in the side of the 'falseborn' Targaryens; to Targ supporters, he's the cause of multiple wars and rebellions who undermined the long term stability of the realm.
  13. I once played a game of Crusader Kings II as Rhaegar (beginning just prior to Robert's Rebellion) and the son of Hoster Tully and Cersei Lannister(!) briefly united the Riverlands and the Westerlands as heir to both. He was eventually given the boot from the Westerlands by one of the Lannisport Lannisters and was left to lick his wounds in Riverrun with 'just' one high-lordship to his name. Granted, a game (albeit a very detailed one) is somewhat a shaky foundation on which to speculate, but I think something similar would occur in most cases of someone holding two lordships not traditionally connected. Unless the lands bordered one another and therefore could be easily governed by one man, the lord in question would find his priorities and resources stretched too thin. Either he would be overthrown from one lordship or diplomatically forced to cede it to a more suitable candidate.
  14. I appreciate the effort you put into developing these grades, Kenton, but I think the premise is flawed. Barristan Selmy himself ruminates on the myriad tiny factors that can determine a fight or joust. If Arthur Dane slips on a root during his fight with the Smiling Knight and is killed, does that mean the Smiling Knight is the best fighter in Westerosi history? Some would call such a situation bad luck, but others would claim it's evidence of the Smiling Knight's superior footwork and reflexes. Also, judging fighting ability isn't assessing a level playing field. Robert killed Rhaegar on the Trident with his hammer in the midst of a huge battle, but would the Dragon Prince have bested him if they fought 1v1 with swords in a Trial by Combat situation? If we accept that Jaime's months in captivity hindered his abilities to the extent that he couldn't defeat Brienne in aSoS, we must also concede there are any number of small day-to-day factors that could positively or negatively impact on a fighter's abilities in a huge variety of ways. You allude to the flaw yourself when you say that " a 94 could beat a 95 or 96, 4 out of 10 times." The thing about fighting is, they won't get 10 times, the loser is usually killed after the first one, leaving us to wonder how big a role luck or skill played. In sports in our world, we can judge what teams are better by looking at the final results of the league table: Team A finished 2nd with 78 points while Team B finished 4th with 71 points. They both played the same teams over the same period of time, ergo Team A is better. We don't get the opportunity for such a rational assessment when most fighters won't get a second chance, or even if they do, the conditions of their fights vary so much as to undermine the value of comparing them.
  15. This is something I've been curious about too. The only explanation I can devise is to chalk it up to Aerys' capriciousness and mood swings. He first attempts to go above and beyond the Westerosi Great Houses in his efforts to find Rhaegar a bride; deriding the Lannisters as servants and ordering Steffon to find Rhaegar a bride of "pure Valyrian blood." When no 'Valyrian' bride is forthcoming, he settles on the Dornish, since they're 'royalty' of sorts (retaining the princely style, having Targaryen blood through Daeron II's sister Daenerys) and, therefore, better/above the likes of the Lannisters. But once he sours on Rhaegar, he asserts this anti-Dornish racism (not too far beneath the surface of many other Westerosi nobles as we see with the Tyrells and co's reaction to Oberyn) as a means of showing his displeasure. He had visited Dorne before (and promised to "make the deserts bloom") so presumably he didn't have any lifelong hatred of the Dornish - I think they just became the subject of his derision and mistrust through circumstance (being close to Rhaegar).