chrisdaw

What Rhaegar believed, why he did what he did and was the way he was

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Posted (edited)

ASOS Sam chapter.

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"You are." The woman rose in a swirl of scarlet silk, her long copper-bright hair tumbling about her shoulders. "Swords alone cannot hold this darkness back. Only the light of the Lord can do that. Make no mistake, good sers and valiant brothers, the war we've come to fight is no petty squabble over lands and honors. Ours is a war for life itself, and should we fail the world dies with us."

The officers did not know how to take that, Sam could see. Bowen Marsh and Othell Yarwyck exchanged a doubtful look, Janos Slynt was fuming, and Three-Finger Hobb looked as though he would sooner be back chopping carrots. But all of them seemed surprised to hear Maester Aemon murmur, "It is the war for the dawn you speak of, my lady. But where is the prince that was promised?"

Significant thing to note here. No-one else knows what Mel is on, but Aemon does. He knows what she's talking about, he knows what question to ask. He knows about the war for the dawn and the prince that was promised, and more than that, he seems to believe in it. How he knows one could guess, but we don't have to since Feast.

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On Braavos, it had seemed possible that Aemon might recover. Xhondo's talk of dragons had almost seemed to restore the old man to himself. That night he ate every bite Sam put before him. "No one ever looked for a girl," he said. "It was a prince that was promised, not a princess. Rhaegar, I thought . . . the smoke was from the fire that devoured Summerhall on the day of his birth, the salt from the tears shed for those who died. He shared my belief when he was young, but later he became persuaded that it was his own son who fulfilled the prophecy, for a comet had been seen above King's Landing on the night Aegon was conceived, and Rhaegar was certain the bleeding star had to be a comet. What fools we were, who thought ourselves so wise! The error crept in from the translation. Dragons are neither male nor female, Barth saw the truth of that, but now one and now the other, as changeable as flame. The language misled us all for a thousand years. Daenerys is the one, born amidst salt and smoke. The dragons prove it." Just talking of her seemed to make him stronger. "I must go to her. I must. Would that I was even ten years younger."

The error was in the translation. He's read it. Aemon is on the same prophecy shit as Mel, and he believes it too. Mel is sure on her interpretation and Aemon doesn't agree, but they're starting from the same basis, the same prophecies. And so was Rhaegar, seemingly even more committed to his belief than Aemon.

And what those prophecies say relate not only to a flaming sword and Prince that was Promised or Azor Ahai. They relate also to dragons.

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That had been one of his last good days. After that the old man spent more time sleeping than awake, curled up beneath a pile of furs in the captain's cabin. Sometimes he would mutter in his sleep. When he woke he'd call for Sam, insisting that he had to tell him something, but oft as not he would have forgotten what he meant to say by the time that Sam arrived. Even when he did recall, his talk was all a jumble. He spoke of dreams and never named the dreamer, of a glass candle that could not be lit and eggs that would not hatch. He said the sphinx was the riddle, not the riddler, whatever that meant. He asked Sam to read for him from a book by Septon Barth, whose writings had been burned during the reign of Baelor the Blessed. Once he woke up weeping. "The dragon must have three heads," he wailed, "but I am too old and frail to be one of them. I should be with her, showing her the way, but my body has betrayed me."

There is also the eggs that would not hatch. Obviously we are talking dragons here.

Now, from the same basis as Aemon, Mel has come to this conclusion.

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"I am a small man," Davos admitted, "so tell me why you need this boy Edric Storm to wake your great stone dragon, my lady." He was determined to say the boy's name as often as he could.

"Only death can pay for life, my lord. A great gift requires a great sacrifice."

A sacrifice is required to wake the dragon. Edric particularly for his "king's blood".

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Melisandre moved closer. "Save them, sire. Let me wake the stone dragons. Three is three. Give me the boy."

It is how you save the world.

And by ADWD it has become this.

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Burning dead children had ceased to trouble Jon Snow; live ones were another matter. Two kings to wake the dragon. The father first and then the son, so both die kings. The words had been murmured by one of the queen's men as Maester Aemon had cleaned his wounds. Jon had tried to dismiss them as his fever talking. Aemon had demurred. "There is power in a king's blood," the old maester had warned, "and better men than Stannis have done worse things than this." The king can be harsh and unforgiving, aye, but a babe still on the breast? Only a monster would give a living child to the flames.

These are the conclusions Mel has arrived at. Aemon doesn't even deny it is true, not to say he believes it, but he's far from ruling it out, he agrees with as much as there being power in king's blood.

AND, she's not far from being right is she? More right than wrong that's for sure. Only death can pay for life Mel says as she argues to make Edric a sacrifice to wake a dragon.

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"You warned me that only death could pay for life. I thought you meant the horse."

"No," Mirri Maz Duur said. "That was a lie you told yourself. You knew the price."

We got a dead Rhaego, turned half into a dragon in the womb, a dead father, Khal instead of king but eh, the comet came and so came dragons. Pretty damn close.

The sacrifice portion is very real, and from the prophecies Mel has correctly determined at least that much. And so did Rhaegar. Like Mel, he doesn't know the hows of it, but he knows there must be a death.

What is happening in these prophecies is a conflation between the sacrifice and the one who benefits from the sacrifice as being conveyed as the prophesised figure. Is the true prophesised one the one who wields the flaming sword or the one was sacrificed to make the sword? Is it the dragon rider or the one who dies to wake the dragon?

It happened with Rhaego.

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"As swift as the wind he rides, and behind him his khalasar covers the earth, men without number, with arakhs shining in their hands like blades of razor grass. Fierce as a storm this prince will be. His enemies will tremble before him, and their wives will weep tears of blood and rend their flesh in grief. The bells in his hair will sing his coming, and the milk men in the stone tents will fear his name." The old woman trembled and looked at Dany almost as if she were afraid. "The prince is riding, and he shall be the stallion who mounts the world."

"The stallion who mounts the world!" the onlookers cried in echo, until the night rang to the sound of their voices.

What Rhaegar believed was that the prince that was promised is destined to die to save the world.

At first he believed it was himself.

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"No one ever looked for a girl," he said. "It was a prince that was promised, not a princess. Rhaegar, I thought . . . the smoke was from the fire that devoured Summerhall on the day of his birth, the salt from the tears shed for those who died. He shared my belief when he was young,

Thus Rhaegar was the melancholy character he was. He believed he was going to have to die to save the world.

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"Perhaps so, Your Grace." Whitebeard paused a moment. "But I am not certain it was in Rhaegar to be happy."

"You make him sound so sour," Dany protested.

"Not sour, no, but . . . there was a melancholy to Prince Rhaegar, a sense . . ." The old man hesitated again.

"Say it," she urged. "A sense . . . ?"

". . . of doom. He was born in grief, my queen, and that shadow hung over him all his days."

It is not just Summerhall, he was sad and had a sense of doom about him because he literally believed he was prophesised to die.

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Viserys had spoken of Rhaegar's birth only once. Perhaps the tale saddened him too much. "It was the shadow of Summerhall that haunted him, was it not?"

"Yes. And yet Summerhall was the place the prince loved best. He would go there from time to time, with only his harp for company. Even the knights of the Kingsguard did not attend him there. He liked to sleep in the ruined hall, beneath the moon and stars, and whenever he came back he would bring a song. When you heard him play his high harp with the silver strings and sing of twilights and tears and the death of kings, you could not but feel that he was singing of himself and those he loved."

When he sings his songs of the death of kings it gives listeners the impression he is singing about himself, because he was.

But then he changed his beliefs to some degree and he thought it was Aegon that was the prince that was promised.

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He shared my belief when he was young, but later he became persuaded that it was his own son who fulfilled the prophecy, for a comet had been seen above King's Landing on the night Aegon was conceived, and Rhaegar was certain the bleeding star had to be a comet.

He thought the comet must herald the conception of the prince that was promised. He appears wrong in this, as it was after the death of Rhaego that the comet came. But he thinks it is Aegon, and so he thinks Aegon is destined to die.

And so when his son is born it is not the joyous occasion that it should be for a father of a new male heir.

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Viserys, was her first thought the next time she paused, but a second glance told her otherwise. The man had her brother's hair, but he was taller, and his eyes were a dark indigo rather than lilac. "Aegon," he said to a woman nursing a newborn babe in a great wooden bed. "What better name for a king?"

"Will you make a song for him?" the woman asked.

"He has a song," the man replied. "He is the prince that was promised, and his is the song of ice and fire." He looked up when he said it and his eyes met Dany's, and it seemed as if he saw her standing there beyond the door. "There must be one more," he said, though whether he was speaking to her or the woman in the bed she could not say. "The dragon has three heads." He went to the window seat, picked up a harp, and ran his fingers lightly over its silvery strings. Sweet sadness filled the room as man and wife and babe faded like the morning mist, only the music lingering behind to speed her on her way.

It is bitter sweet. Aegon's song is sweet and sad.

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When you heard him play his high harp with the silver strings and sing of twilights and tears and the death of kings, you could not but feel that he was singing of himself and those he loved."

As his songs are not just about his own death, but of those he loves.

Now, though they've started generally from the same place there are differences between what Mel has arrived at and what Aemon did and so too Rhaegar.

Mel has the waking from stone portion that shows up neither in anything related to Aemon and Rhaegar. She seems to have dropped it by ADWD.

Aemon and Rhaegar have the three heads portion that Mel doesn't subscribe to or know about. Aemon after he hears of Dany's dragons seemingly thinks it refers to dragon riders and that they must have Targ blood, as this is the only way this makes sense.

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"The dragon must have three heads," he wailed, "but I am too old and frail to be one of them. I should be with her, showing her the way, but my body has betrayed me."

Rhaegar has the three heads of the dragons part too, but he believes they refer to his children who are to be sacrifices. And he has an ice and fire portion to everything too. And so when his wife is no longer able to bear children after only the two and he crosses paths with Lyanna Stark of Winterfell, from the icy north, it would seem like fate.

The Azor Ahai story had two failures, and third attempt, a real sacrifice, successful. Azor Ahai knew the sacrifice he would need make.

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Azor Ahai captured a lion, to temper the blade by plunging it through the beast's red heart, but once more the steel shattered and split. Great was his woe and great was his sorrow then, for he knew what he must do.

And so great was his woe and sorrow. Rhaegar's whole life.

Recall Jojen. His character traits, and the explanation for those character traits.

Rhaegar was having children he believed were needed to die to save the world in the War for the Dawn. He was supposedly the last dragon, but he failed.

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"… the dragon …"

And saw her brother Rhaegar, mounted on a stallion as black as his armor. Fire glimmered red through the narrow eye slit of his helm. "The last dragon," Ser Jorah's voice whispered faintly. "The last, the last." Dany lifted his polished black visor. The face within was her own.

He was not the last dragon, Dany took his place, she had the child that died and woke dragons, she did what he tried but failed to do. Hence she takes his place.

It is good backstory, nice characterisation, but doesn't really serve much of a purpose. It is explanation for things that have all come and gone and doesn't have a bearing on the future of the story in too significant a way. Unless, it comes back around again. It will.

Dany's dragons are going to fall (Drogon isn't actually going to die like the other two, but fall all the same), and so she will be back in the position of having to wake the dragon. The child, her child, will be one of ice and fire, and great will be her woe and great will be her sorrow. And so the importance of it all, and why Dany is being drip fed the Rhaegar pieces.

Edited by chrisdaw

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1 hour ago, chrisdaw said:

Rhaegar was having children he believed were needed to die to save the world in the War for the Dawn. He was supposedly the last dragon, but he failed.

This is really nice.   I have believed Rhaegar was planning a sacrifice for some time now, but hadn't really connected his general melancholy and his sense of duty with that notion of prophecy.  Well done.    This also ties with the notion that Rhaegar learned something from Summerhall, something that his grandfather hadn't succeeded in w/r/t a dragon-birthing ceremony - you've got to have death.  There's a process, and Egg missed it; Rhaegar reworked the formula and was going to try again.

I wish I had more time to address because lots to say.  

First, completely agree that there WAS going to be a child sacrifice.   A couple of years ago I put together a comparison between the events surrounding Rhaego's death via the MMD ritual in the tent, and the snippets of things we know about Lyanna's death and the TOJ - there are far too many parallels & echoes for that not to be the case, so am totally convinced that something gnarly vis a vis blood magic was going to go down at the TOJ.  If it was related to the War for the Dawn 2.0, then it also makes sense to have three members of the KG who also happen to be representatives of three old families/First Men/ magical bloodlines to be present to carry out the deed after Rhaegar's death.

Second, I have two competing paths of thought related to some findings in the Fisherman's Daughter essay noted in my signature, particularly revolving around baby Aegon.

a  )   in the vein of Marwyn's warning about prophecy and this from GRRM:

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[Laughs] Prophecies are, you know, a double edge sword. You have to handle them very carefully; I mean, they can add depth and interest to a book, but you don’t want to be too literal or too easy... In the Wars of the Roses, that you mentioned, there was one Lord who had been prophesied he would die beneath the walls of a certain castle and he was superstitious at that sort of walls, so he never came anyway near that castle. He stayed thousands of leagues away from that particular castle because of the prophecy. However, he was killed in the first battle of St. Paul de Vence and when they found him dead he was outside of an inn whose sign was the picture of that castle! [Laughs] So you know? That’s the way prophecies come true in unexpected ways. The more you try to avoid them, the more you are making them true, and I make a little fun with that.

I wonder if Rhaegar may have been trying to circumvent the prophecy somehow after Aegon's birth, and the circumvention may have been what brought everything else to pass.   In the quote about Aegon having the song of ice and fire, Rhaegar refers to his son as a future king - almost as if he has reneged on the idea of sacrifice now that his living breathing baby is there in his wife's arms.   I'm curious if he changed his mind about giving his son to - whatever - and instead sought out some acceptable substitutes that he could chuck to the flames or bleed out while preserving Aegon's life and eventual rule.  Lyanna's child would be one, and I suspect Dany as well.  Many crackpots on this that I won't go into, but IMO he would have been looking for particular bloodlines to fill the bill.   Rhaegar himself may have opted to revert to Plan A in which he contributed his own blood/life to the cause.  

b  )    If Aegon was indeed the sacrificial dragon, there are subtle hints that both Ashara Dayne and Lyanna Stark were involved with this somehow - these two ladies are "sisters" in some right in the story, I haven't fully fleshed this out yet but they definitely have a sororal connection.  My gut feeling is that one or both of them may have known Rhaegar's intentions and tried to get baby Aegon to safety - I'm unsure whether or not this backfired, as there is evidence to support pre-Sack Aegon being both real and fake.  The presence of Rhaegar's first son and heir at the TOJ also explains the 3 KG.

Anyway, I'm on board the sacrifice train and look forward to more thoughts on it.   You are welcome to visit the essay in my sig as you might find some ideas that are in line with yours and/or provide a backdrop for the sacrifice theory.
 

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Hmm...interesting, but I'm not sure I agree with the conclusions drawn. It's clear that anyone who knows anything about magic in this universe, knows the value in sacrifices, so it's likely Aemon and Rhaegar believed sacrificial magic of some sort was needed to bring forth dragons. But that's quite a jump to believing TPTWP was going to have to sacrifice himself, particularly when the prophesied 'Prince' is interpreted as the savior. Also, Aemon says he needs to join Dany's side, to advise her on ruling, and be one of her 'three heads'. It didn't sound like he was going to her so he could sacrifice himself.

The ultimate conclusion you make, I have the most trouble with. It seems rather anti-climactic to me to have another set of dragons. What was the point of the existing dragons then, if they're just going to disappear before the climax?

Slightly OT.... but how much of what Mel and Aemon mentions is needed for the prophecy is actually in the prophecy, and how much is just their (probably accurate) educated guesses as to what is needed, based on what they know of magic in general? Like the three heads - I think that is not actually prophesied (or it is, but only Dany has heard it) because Mel never tries to find two other 'heads' for Stannis.

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Posted (edited)

Aemon doesn't believe it, he believes in the prophecies but he never knew of the sacrifice requirement like Rhaegar did. Like Jon was Ned's, that there must be a sacrifice was Rhaegar's cross to bear, and he did it alone.

The point of the dragons is that they're going to be lost fighting for the iron throne when they should have been used to save it.

That the prophecies conflate the sacrifice and rider/wielder is most obvious in this one.

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When the red star bleeds and the darkness gathers, Azor Ahai shall be born again amidst smoke and salt to wake dragons out of stone.

It is the child to be sacrificed that wakes the dragon and coincides with the comet. It hasn't happened yet.

Jon's and Dany's arcs are to test their willingness to make the sacrifice. They will fall on opposite sides. Ice and fire, preservation and consumption. Only a monster would give a living child to the flames thinks Jon. Better men than Stannis have done worse things says Aemon. Dany knew the price accuses MMD, and Dany doesn't deny it. She is a monster she says of herself, and mother of monsters, if she looks back she is lost.

Your climax is in the question of if the sacrifice is made or not.

Edited by chrisdaw

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17 minutes ago, chrisdaw said:

Jon's and Dany's arcs are to test their willingness to make the sacrifice. They will fall on opposite sides. Ice and fire, preservation and consumption. Only a monster would give a living child to the flames thinks Jon. Better men than Stannis have done worse things says Aemon. Dany knew the price accuses MMD, and Dany doesn't deny it. She is a monster she says of herself, and mother of monsters, if she looks back she is lost.

Re: monsters giving children to the flames, consider again the presence of the KG at the TOJ in relation to this:

“This isn’t going to be one of those love stories, is it?” Bran asked suspiciously. “Hodor doesn’t like those so much.” 

“Hodor,” said Hodor agreeably. 

“He likes the stories where the knights fight monsters.”

“Sometimes the knights are the monsters, Bran."

 

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I think we know how GRRM feels about sacrificing your children for your religious beliefs; And Seven Times Never Kill Man made that pretty clear. I don't think he's writing a world where sacrificing children is ever a useful thing to do. Melissandre is mistaken at best, lying at worst, probably a bit of both. If Rhaegar believed he had to sacrifice his children then he was mistaken too.

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Nice analysis, and terrific use of quotes. The sacrifice is in Daenerys IX, Game 68...

1. "You don't want to wake the dragon, do you?"

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She was walking down a long hall beneath high stone arches. She could not look behind her, must not look behind her. There was a door ahead of her, tiny with distance, but even from afar, she saw that it was painted red. She walked faster, and her bare feet left bloody footprints on the stone.

--Where else do we see a long hall with high stone arches? She wants to go home. She thinks home is her childhood. But she cannot go back. Her bloody footprints on the stone recall the bloody footprints she left on the sand in the previous chapter, when Mirri Maz Duur practiced blood magic. It was the bloody footprints that caused Jorah to realize that she had done something terrible.

2. "You dont want to wake the dragon, do you?"

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She saw sunlight on the Dothraki sea, the living plain, rich with the smells of earth and death. Wind stirred the grasses, and they rippled like water. Drogo held her in strong arms, and his hand stroked her sex and opened her and woke that sweet wetness that was his alone, and the stars smiled down on them, stars in a daylight sky. "Home," she whispered as he entered her and filled her with his seed, but suddenly the stars were gone, and across the blue sky swept the great wings, and the world took flame.

Here is another vision of a new home. A home she caused to be destroyed. 

3. " . . . don't want to wake the dragon, do you?"

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Ser Jorah's face was drawn and sorrowful. "Rhaegar was the last dragon," he told her. He warmed translucent hands over a glowing brazier where stone eggs smoldered red as coals. One moment he was there and the next he was fading, his flesh colorless, less substantial than the wind. "The last dragon," he whispered, thin as a wisp, and was gone. She felt the dark behind her, and the red door seemed farther away than ever.

This appears to foreshadow Daenerys's estrangement from Jorah. But it also suggests that Rhaegar was not the last dragon. And the vision that was Rhaegar and the fading Maester Aemon both tell us that the dragon has three heads. 

4. " . . . don't want to wake the dragon, do you?"

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Viserys stood before her, screaming. "The dragon does not beg, slut. You do not command the dragon. I am the dragon, and I will be crowned." The molten gold trickled down his face like wax, burning deep channels in his flesh. "I am the dragon and I will be crowned!" he shrieked, and his fingers snapped like snakes, biting at her nipples, pinching, twisting, even as his eyes burst and ran like jelly down seared and blackened cheeks.

We already know that Viserys was just a fool, not a Dragon in the sense that Rhaegar was the last Dragon. But notice the snakes biting, pinching, and twisting. This appears to be The Dragon demanding that she wake him. 

5. " . . . don't want to wake the dragon . . . "

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The red door was so far ahead of her, and she could feel the icy breath behind, sweeping up on her. If it caught her she would die a death that was more than death, howling forever alone in the darkness. She began to run.

The cold breath of darkness is falling heavy on the world. Time to wake The Dragon. 

6. " . . . don't want to wake the dragon . . . "

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She could feel the heat inside her, a terrible burning in her womb. Her son was tall and proud, with Drogo's copper skin and her own silver-gold hair, violet eyes shaped like almonds. And he smiled for her and began to lift his hand toward hers, but when he opened his mouth the fire poured out. She saw his heart burning through his chest, and in an instant he was gone, consumed like a moth by a candle, turned to ash. She wept for her child, the promise of a sweet mouth on her breast, but her tears turned to steam as they touched her skin.

This would be The Dragon taking Rhaego's place.

7. " . . . want to wake the dragon . . . "

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Ghosts lined the hallway, dressed in the faded raiment of kings. In their hands were swords of pale fire. They had hair of silver and hair of gold and hair of platinum white, and their eyes were opal and amethyst, tourmaline and jade. "Faster," they cried, "faster, faster." She raced, her feet melting the stone wherever they touched. "Faster!" the ghosts cried as one, and she screamed and threw herself forward. A great knife of pain ripped down her back, and she felt her skin tear open and smelled the stench of burning blood and saw the shadow of wings. And Daenerys Targaryen flew.

These are the ghosts of the dragon lords urging the birth of The Dragon, and then we have the birth, Rhaego's stillbirth and the birth of The Dragon. 

8. " . . . wake the dragon . . . "

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The door loomed before her, the red door, so close, so close, the hall was a blur around her, the cold receding behind. And now the stone was gone and she flew across the Dothraki sea, high and higher, the green rippling beneath, and all that lived and breathed fled in terror from the shadow of her wings. She could smell home, she could see it, there, just beyond that door, green fields and great stone houses and arms to keep her warm, there. She threw open the door. 

--Waking the Dragon will get her home, the red door, the Dothraki Sea, and Westeros, but whose arms will keep her warm? She opens the door and sees...

9. " . . . the dragon . . . "

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And saw her brother Rhaegar, mounted on a stallion as black as his armor. Fire glimmered red through the narrow eye slit of his helm. "The last dragon," Ser Jorah's voice whispered faintly. "The last, the last." Dany lifted his polished black visor. The face within was her own.

...the last dragon. But she is the last dragon. 

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After that, for a long time, there was only the pain, the fire within her, and the whisperings of stars.

She woke to the taste of ashes.

 

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7 hours ago, Damon_Tor said:

I don't think he's writing a world where sacrificing children is ever a useful thing to do.

Craster's sons, Aegon and Rhaenys, Jojen. You think Euron has not conspired to create his current circumstances, or that nothing will come of it? And Rhaego.

Stannis with Edric is an unrealised plot point. As too Shireen will be. Reason being no-one actually believes anything will come from Stannis making those sacrifices. Easy to root against Stannis in that situation. The plot point becomes realised when it is apparent a sacrifice will work, and that it is seemingly the only way to save the world.

GRRM's end goal here is not to preach that one shouldn't make such a sacrifice because it won't work, that's not an argument that needs making. The end goal is an argument that one should not make the sacrifice even if everything suggests it will work and that it is necessary to save the world.

7 hours ago, PrettyPig said:

Re: monsters giving children to the flames, consider again the presence of the KG at the TOJ in relation to this:

“This isn’t going to be one of those love stories, is it?” Bran asked suspiciously. “Hodor doesn’t like those so much.” 

“Hodor,” said Hodor agreeably. 

“He likes the stories where the knights fight monsters.”

“Sometimes the knights are the monsters, Bran."

A sacrifice arrangement at the TOJ I don't think is likely, it would require a lot of absence thought from Ned and seems to run counter to Rhaegar having named it. Naming it the tower of joy if it were ones intention to sacrifice a child there seems sadistic, whereas Rhaegar was profoundly saddened by what he believed must occur.

It does however fit nicely into Jaime's arc. It would mean he was the better knight and man than all those lofty and heroic names that he and the realm judges him against to find him unworthy. It means he would have been the only one of them that didn't just run along side the Targaryen penchant for sacrifice. And it is that judgement against those KG ideals that those of Aerys's KG supposedly personify that made Jaime into what he is(was), as he said the white cloak soiled him, not the other way around.

But there needn't have been a particular planned sacrifice at the TOJ for this to work out that way, just that Rhaegar's inner KG clique were aware of his beliefs and would not act to stop him, or even helped him.

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17 minutes ago, chrisdaw said:

The plot point becomes realised when it is apparent a sacrifice will work, and that it is seemingly the only way to save the world.

GRRM's end goal here is not to preach that one shouldn't make such a sacrifice because it won't work, that's not an argument that needs making. The end goal is an argument that one should not make the sacrifice even if everything suggests it will work and that it is necessary to save the world.

You're a hard man @chrisdaw.

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21 minutes ago, chrisdaw said:

It does however fit nicely into Jaime's arc. It would mean he was the better knight and man than all those lofty and heroic names that he and the realm judges him against to find him unworthy. It means he would have been the only one of them that didn't just run along side the Targaryen penchant for sacrifice. And it is that judgement against those KG ideals that those of Aerys's KG supposedly personify that made Jaime into what he is(was), as he said the white cloak soiled him, not the other way around.

I don't think you can make this argument convincingly when Jaime is already guilty of being more than willing to sacrifice a child, by throwing Bran from that tower in the name of love for Cersei.  But it's 'OK', because by that act he inadvertently helped forge Lightbringer, otherwise known as 'the prince who was promised' = Bran!  (I'll write more on this later, if you're interested -- or perhaps even if you're not ;)).  You are right about one thing -- the sacrifice, the sword, and ultimately the wielder of that sword are all conflated.  

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8 hours ago, Damon_Tor said:

I think we know how GRRM feels about sacrificing your children for your religious beliefs; And Seven Times Never Kill Man made that pretty clear. I don't think he's writing a world where sacrificing children is ever a useful thing to do. Melissandre is mistaken at best, lying at worst, probably a bit of both. If Rhaegar believed he had to sacrifice his children then he was mistaken too.

Agree wholeheartedly. Well, he might actually but in a completely different set of circumstances, to make a very different kind of point. 

Mel is powerful, but we know she's also full of it. :D

I think Rhaegar's understanding of the ptwp prophecy may have changed yet again, later. Stuff we haven't read about yet, and will only learn when the big ToJ reveal happens. 

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25 minutes ago, ravenous reader said:

I don't think you can make this argument convincingly when Jaime is already guilty of being more than willing to sacrifice a child

He wasn't already, that is the post Aerys Jaime. The point would be this is what created the post Aerys Jaime, judging him against standards that were not even real. Well that's a point regardless of if the other KG were onboard with Rhaegar or not, GRRM gave us that the white cloak soiled him and so many vows until they weigh against each other and break a man.

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I'm not even sure Rhaego was ever an important sacrifice. Sure, Dany sacrificed Viserys, Rhaego, and Drogo in a pretty real sense to get the dragons but this was hardly intentional nor part of proper spell. She had to lose everything to gain everything in the guise of the dragons.

But the true and meaningful sacrifice for the dragons was Drogo. Mirri Maz Duur is just a little bit of fuel to get things going. It is Drogo's shade on the smoky stallion who shows up hatching the dragon eggs for Daenerys. It isn't Rhaego, Viserys, or Mirri Maz Duur. It is Drogo.

Why don't people remember that?

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52 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

You're a hard man @chrisdaw.

He's not writing 7 huge sprawling books of epic fantasy to pull his punches at the end. It is part of the reason one writes fantasy, so that one can boil down complex concepts like does the end justify the means into a simple decision of one bastard child vs the millions of the realm.

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14 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

I'm not even sure Rhaego was ever an important sacrifice. Sure, Dany sacrificed Viserys, Rhaego, and Drogo in a pretty real sense to get the dragons but this was hardly intentional nor part of proper spell. She had to lose everything to gain everything in the guise of the dragons.

But the true and meaningful sacrifice for the dragons was Drogo. Mirri Maz Duur is just a little bit of fuel to get things going. It is Drogo's shade on the smoky stallion who shows up hatching the dragon eggs for Daenerys. It isn't Rhaego, Viserys, or Mirri Maz Duur. It is Drogo.

Why don't people remember that?

But she didn't really sacrifice him, did she? He was a dead man walking, she tried to revive him, and then put him out of his misery. 

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9 hours ago, Damon_Tor said:

I think we know how GRRM feels about sacrificing your children for your religious beliefs; And Seven Times Never Kill Man made that pretty clear. I don't think he's writing a world where sacrificing children is ever a useful thing to do.

 

1 hour ago, chrisdaw said:

GRRM's end goal here is not to preach that one shouldn't make such a sacrifice because it won't work, that's not an argument that needs making. The end goal is an argument that one should not make the sacrifice even if everything suggests it will work and that it is necessary to save the world.

I think Chrisdaw answered this pretty well. Doing a small evil to avoid a bigger evil, is still an evil thing. Avoiding the temptation of this is something I could definitely see GRRM preaching. My only quibble is with the word necessary. I think I would change that to "the easiest way". 

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1 hour ago, chrisdaw said:

GRRM's end goal here is not to preach that one shouldn't make such a sacrifice because it won't work, that's not an argument that needs making. The end goal is an argument that one should not make the sacrifice even if everything suggests it will work and that it is necessary to save the world.

Sure, and we even have confirmation of this from Davos:

 
Quote

 

"Your Grace," said Davos, "the cost . . ."
"I know the cost! Last night, gazing into that hearth, I saw things in the flames as well. I saw a king, a crown of fire on his brows, burning . . . burning, Davos. His own crown consumed his flesh and turned him into ash. Do you think I need Melisandre to tell me what that means? Or you?" The king moved, so his shadow fell upon King's Landing. "If Joffrey should die . . . what is the life of one bastard boy against a kingdom?"
"Everything," said Davos, softly.

 

 
 
 
1 hour ago, chrisdaw said:

A sacrifice arrangement at the TOJ I don't think is likely, it would require a lot of absence thought from Ned and seems to run counter to Rhaegar having named it. Naming it the tower of joy if it were ones intention to sacrifice a child there seems sadistic, whereas Rhaegar was profoundly saddened by what he believed must occur.

I am 99.9% certain that Ned didn't know, at least not for sure.   Re: Rhaegar's sadness vs. sadism, I'm not totally convinced on his innocence and regret, really.   GRRM has set up this noble character atop a pedestal, this amazing guy in the eyes of everyone who knew him - but as Barristan tells Dany, no one really knew Rhaegar or exactly what he felt.   He could have been like Dany, telling lies to himself about what some evil deed represented in order to justify doing it, or he could have been even darker.   I personally think he might have been several shades greyer than what we've been led to believe, but that's me.

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15 minutes ago, Makk said:

I think Chrisdaw answered this pretty well. Doing a small evil to avoid a bigger evil, is still an evil thing. Avoiding the temptation of this is something I could definitely see GRRM preaching. My only quibble is with the word necessary. I think I would change that to "the easiest way". 

I disagree with the change you would make. I think it must be necessary, I think that makes the whole point.

The principle is, if the realm would make this sacrifice to save itself, then the realm is not worthy of survival.

The children of the forest seemed to make a similarly horrendous sacrifice for their survival. Their extinction is now all but guaranteed, and they have accepted it. Point being, they're getting what they deserve, and in their wisdom and repentance they know it, and so have accepted it.

It is easy to reconcile the sacrifice seeming necessary with the ending not being the Others winning because they didn't make the sacrifice. The belief the sacrifice is necessary needs to be planted in the characters and readers, then it just has to prove wrong.

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1 hour ago, Makk said:

 

I think Chrisdaw answered this pretty well. Doing a small evil to avoid a bigger evil, is still an evil thing. Avoiding the temptation of this is something I could definitely see GRRM preaching. My only quibble is with the word necessary. I think I would change that to "the easiest way". 

What if Blood and Cheese told you to pick one or watch them both die. Would sacrificing one to save the other be evil? 

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8 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

What if Blood and Cheese told you to pick one or watch them both die. Would sacrificing one to save the other be evil? 

I had to google what this was about. You do have an excellent in depth knowledge of the material. Well you could argue GRRM thinks it is not ok since they killed the other one. Lots of moral stories there as it was also eye for an eye situation. I'm not sure I would describe that as a sacrifice actually, since Blood and Cheese hold both of them, Halaena had nothing to give up.

Anyway, I can see GRRM preaching that it is not OK to sacrifice a child under any circumstances. I can't see him destroying the world because no one did, or saving it because there was.

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