Definitely agree that the early days are too mysterious to take a strong position either way. Thus, I find your position reasonable despite it differing from mine. We agree on most of the points, anyway.
Also agree that there was probably more gender equality in the early days given the axe symbology and the equivalent number of female faces of god.
I tend to agree with Ser Lupus that "bedwarmer" is highly dependent on context. A bedwarmer in a slave society is almost certainly a slave. In Westeros, I agree it is a lot like a salt wife with a few differences. Such is far more likely to be an actual love match, like Tytos' case or even Shae's (I'm not saying both loved each other, to be sure. Tyrion loved Shae, not vice versa. Tytos loved his bedwarmer, but we can't be certain about her).
Thanks for pointing me to this thread, it's a very enjoyable read.
One quibble I have is how you seem to have assumed that bedwarmer means, or at least heavily indicates, "slave". The truth seems to be that bedwarmer sometimes means slave, but definitively does not always mean that, however:
Shae: "That too. I didn't like scouring his pots no more than I liked his cock in me." She tossed her head. "Why can't you keep me in your tower? Half the lords at court keep bedwarmers."
Ramsay: "She smells of dogshit. I've had enough of bad smells, as it happens. I think I'll have your bedwarmer instead. What do you call her? Kyra?"
Catelyn: Catelyn doubted very much that Lord Walder had said any such thing, or that he had ever lost his heart to beauty. The Lord of the Crossing had outlived seven wives and was now wed to his eighth, but he spoke of them only as bedwarmers and brood mares
Kevan: It was not unknown for a widowed lord to keep a common girl as bedwarmer … but Lord Tytos soon began seating the woman beside him in the hall, showering her with gifts and honors, even asking her views on matters of state.
These 4 quotes are literally half the mentions (8 total) of the word "bedwarmer" in all the sources not counting SSM's. (standard asearchoficeandfire.com search)
So we're left with the quote about the enslaving the Ibbish and nothing else (I'm not forgetting the Wolf's Den etc, there's just no way to know which culture or cultures that was, though I agree Andals are possible).
Perhaps the Andals saw the hairy men as subhuman and that helped justify enslaving them.
So I think this is where we're at: you believe the Andals were slavers. I think it's a fair conclusion but I consider it to be far less likely than you do, it seems.
I believe their anti-slavery attitude came from being neighbors to the Rhoynar, (who were far more advanced), and as opposing ideals to those of Valyria. Andal and Valyrian culture have so many polar opposite traditions that I have a hard time seeing it as coincidence. (and we know for a certainty that the Valyrians enslaved Andals, and the Ghiscari may have as well).
Faith of the Seven: anti-slavery (knighthood says protect the weak), anti-sorcery, anti-incest, anti-polygamy, pro-monarchy, not open (oft-hostile) to other religions.
Valyrian Freehold: pro-slavery (enslave the weak), pro-sorcery, pro-incest, pro-polygamy, anti-monarchy, open to all religions.
Agree, a biased source or a mistaken assumption is where I'm leaning as well. I suppose I should be open to the possibility that slavery was part of the Andal ancient past, but I really doubt it despite that anecdote from TWOIAF. I'll explain:
Nearly all the kingdoms/realms/nations are static. Most seem to have an early development period where things get worked out, but after that they stay put in terms of ethics, trade, religion, technology etc.
Westeros has been in this quasi-medieval state for eons. Qarth has been the same for eons. Slaver's Bay. The Free Cities. The Dothraki of four hundred years ago are essentially identical to the ones now in basically every way possible, etc etc. There are shifts of power, conquests, political upheavals, and extinctions... but not many cultural changes. Lorath is perhaps an exception that comes to mind, and there are others. Balon/Euron's dad tried to change the Ironborn and had some success, but once he died Balon tried to bring back the Old Way.
In addition, the Andals were less united than most cultures, at least the ones who came to Westeros during the early waves. It's hard for me to accept that ALL the Andals gave up slavery unless it was a major part of the Faith of the Seven. Otherwise, surely some Andals would enslave (such as First Men armies they defeated), and others would not. But there's zero hint that the invading Andals enslaved a single First Man. If it indeed has been part of the Faith since its inception (since they hated/feared Valyria this fits very well, and the ideals of Knighthood are, in many ways, the exact opposite of Valyrian ruling ideals... but that's another topic altogether).
So the Andals abandoning slavery is possible but the more I think about it, the more problems I find.
c'mon now. Not saying you're wrong but you should know better than to say something without posting evidence/proof.
Where is this stated? (apart from here). We're told at least a few times that slavery is an abomination to both old gods and new. The Faith of the Seven existed back when the Andals invaded Ib as shown the quote I posted.
Your core point that we know way less than Rhaegar did about what he was doing, and that we should perhaps reserve judgement or at least keep our own ignorance in mind is very strong.
It's hard for me to imagine a scenario where he comes out of this looking like a good guy (though I don't think he looks like a bad guy either) but GRRM has a better imagination than me, and probably most of us
When we learn the truth (or as much of it as we're given) I'm guessing it might make sense, but it also might become even more contentious. GRRM loves to write about the human heart in conflict and it sounds like Rhaegar had some HUGE conflicts in his life. The prophecies & his father's horrible reign being the biggest ones, but not the end of the list.
Standard disclaimer re: "sorry if this has been posted already"
I came across a curiosity in a recent re-listen of the book.
"Others followed the mazemakers on Lorath in the centuries that followed. For a time the isles were home to a small, dark, hairy people, akin to the men of Ib. Fisherfolk, they lived along the coasts and shunned the great mazes of their predecessors. They in turn were displaced by Andals, pushing north from Andalos to the shores of Lorath Bay and across the bay in longships. Clad in mail and wielding iron swords and axes, the Andals swept across the islands, slaughtering the hairy men in the name of their seven-faced god and taking their women and children as slaves."
The Andals don't take slaves. This is only reference to such and there's plenty to indicate the opposite. This is pretty easily dismissed as a maester error rather than an author error, but it does seem to be an error either way.
appears the following line: "He also told Ser Duncan about a dream he had. A great red dragon would fall on Ser Duncan, dead, but the knight would walk off alive."
The word "red" should be removed. Daeron's dream did not specify a color for the dragon, and that makes it seem like some sort of red/black dragon (i.e Blackfyre) reference. GRRM doesn't seem to have even invented (or fully invented) the idea of the Blackfyre Rebellions until after the Hedge Knight.
What do you guys think regarding the accuracy of Amazon/publisher blurbs in general?
There have been some incredibly inaccurate ones (I still laugh at "to the shores of Winterfell" from the old Clash of Kings blurb) so I trust them not at all. Is there a reason to trust this latest one or are we likely falling into the same trap again?
Varys: thanks, we had a lot of fun trying to figure him out. As always, whenever we do an episode, I come here and read what you guys are up to and find something I wish I had included
re: Viserys and his attitude towards his son. There may be a bit of Tywin here... Tywin was notoriously blind regarding Jaime and Cersei's incest. Perhaps Viserys refused to believe the worst about his son, too, even though he was clearly aware of his affairs. I agree that the worst of his behaviors didn't manifest until he was King.
Actually, as I type that I realize there are a lot of parallels between Tywin and Viserys. Ultra capable as Hand of the King, but served under bad kings. Both were Hand at an extremely young age. Jaime and Cersei have a lot in common with Aemon and Naerys. Viserys and Tywin both had "all the joy go out of them" when they lost their wives, and both are known for being cold & calculating (especially after the loss of wife).
I had never considered the possibility that Aegon IV feared his father passing him over. That is definitely a good thought, and it doesn't even have to be "true" for Aegon to believe it so. For example, Barba Bracken, Lord Bracken or Falena Stokeworth could've started that rumor and convinced Aegon it was true. A bit like how we're told Aegon II didn't want to usurp his sister's crown until he was convinced that Rhaenyra would have him executed.
regarding Daena: I completely forgot this line, it pretty much seals it for me that Daena sought out Aegon (or someone) rather than vice versa:
"She even contrived, toward the end of Baelor’s reign, to get herself with child—though some might say it would have been better had she been less defiant, for all the trouble that son brought to the realm."
Another semi-crackpot idea for Daena/Aegon: Imagine that Daena is still alive when Aegon announces that Daemon Waters-Blackfyre is his son (in this scenario, we are assuming Aegon is not Daemon's father), Daena says nothing, because Aegon has promised her "if you accept this lie, I won't force you to remarry". Daena might not even mind the lie that much, as it means the world thinks her son is the son of the King. Since we know she was ambitious, she could've already been thinking how this lie would help her son take the throne, which we know she wanted for herself.