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Everything posted by Walda

  1. Walda

    Think I found a little bird

    I don't think Littlefinger taught Marei to read. That is more a Varys thing. But I don't think Marei is that simple. I suspect she is another of Lord Velaryon's by-blows, as she has the silver hair and green eyes. She is older than the other girls, and solemn, which makes me think she has come to the game (or at least, to King's Landing) after enjoying a better life, or at least, a life that she had preferred. Maybe one where she was better provided for, and educated. Dancy strikes me more as being a simple common girl on her way up in the world, pleased to have made it to the classiest brothel in the capital. We know it was Marei that persuaded Dancy to hit on Tyrion. (ACoK, Ch.29 Tyrion VII) Noticing Alayaya's gains in literacy compared to the other girls (because she was more rested and had more leisure for reading than the other girls while Tyrion was spending his time with Shae) is a tip to Marei that Alayaya isn't hard at work in the secluded turret room. But my main reason for suspecting that Marei isn't spying for Varys is: (ACoK,Ch.15 Tyrion III) Varys already knows about this. Varys directed Tyrion to Chataya's. He knew Tyrion's need, he knows who Tyrion's whore really is, he knows the secret tunnel, he knows Chataya. He doesn't need Marei to spy on Dancy and Alayaya. He has Chataya, and through her, any other girl in the brothel, on Chataya's recommendation. And of course Chataya would have the most confidence in the discretion of her own daughter, whom she personally has trained from birth. Varys didn't need Marei to turn Alayaya over to Cersei, and if ordered to fetch Tyrion's whore to the Red Keep (as I suspect Tywin did) he would have known they were after Shae. Chataya's brothel seems to me to be under attack from someone who does need spies to find out who Tyrion is seeing - it has recently been raided by Goldcloaks, a child murdered in it, it's mother too, half a dozen gentlemen retainers killed on it's doorstep. Chataya's supplies of good wine dried up in the King's Landing siege, and after, a whore in it publicly revealed to be the favourite of the Hand and flogged ... Many gentlemen might prefer to visit quieter premises with less public exposure and better booze after these events. Petyr Baelish is a competing brothel owner with a certain ruthlessness and a purse that pays the Goldcloaks. It's easy to see why he might not lose by Chataya's brothel becoming the public face of King's Landing brothels and wearing the whip for their collective sins. It is easy for me to see that taking a child from it's mother to be threatened with death (killed, in Barra's case) and severely beaten (her own child), would be Petyr Baelish's way of letting Chataya know there is a new master of whispers in town, that she must sell out (her secrets to) or get out (of King's Landing). It is harder for me to understand why Varys would suddenly turn on Chataya this way, or how he would use Marei in these circumstances. ETA: John might also have deduced Marei's age from the text of the book (ACoK,Ch.29 Tyrion VII) At least in Tyrion's perception, Marei is older than Shae. And no other point of view makes reference to Shae's age, or Marei's, that I know of. Although Marei could of course be much older than Tyrion believes she is - brothels don't attract customers by advertising they have the oldest girls in town.
  2. Walda

    Think I found a little bird

    I don't think she is Varys's little bird, but Petyr Baelish's. She is how Littlefinger finds out about Tyrion and Alayaya, and how he supplants Varys in Cersei's trust (ACoK, Ch.54 Tyrion XII) Varys advised Cersei to send Ned to the Wall. Littlefinger paid Slynt's goldcloaks to push him forward and put his head on the block. Littlefinger was able to put ideas into Joffrey's head about how a King should act in such circumstances. I don't think Ilyn Payne needed any convincing or bribing - he loves his job. Still, if Varys had held sway, Ned would still be alive. I'm not sure if Varys regards Littlefinger as an existential threat, or a colleague. Most of the time that he is 'telling' Tyrion things, he is actually sounding out Tyrion for what he believes. (ACoK, Ch.08 Tyrion II) Varys knows it was Petyr Baelish that paid Slynt and Slynt's underlings to raid Chataya's and kill Barra. And sent two goldcloaks with a commission sealed with Cersei's seal, and an understanding that the message within was that they were to kill Gendry. Yet he lets Tyrion believe it was Cersei, who has known about Gendry's existence for years, and never attempted to have him or his mother removed from the King's Landing (where they live in the very shadow of the Red Keep), or prevented Robert from providing for him, through Varys. I'm guessing Varys paid Chataya to keep Barra's mother in the brothel and off the market, too ... it doesn't make financial sense for Chataya to do that in the unlikely event that Robert might return to the girl he had used and moved on from. So even though Varys has acted for a long while in a way that is clearly the opposite of Littlefinger, and very probably has a grievance of his own in the matter, he refrains from shunting the blame Tyrion heaps onto Cersei, to where it rightly belongs. It's hard to tell if Varys is so circumspect because he fears Baelish, or because he is complicit. In the same chapter, he regains control of the City Watch via Tyrion and Ser Jacelyn, and has the masters of the White Hart and the Moonrunner forestalled, which seem to me more like an attack on Baelish's power base than a friendly move. I think Baelish has something to do with the Antler men - that his dinners with Lady Tanda were about that. Varys also attempts to interest Tyrion in Lady Tanda's treasons when he sends Janos Slynt to the wall. Tyrion doesn't, but not long after, Varys produces the list of Antler men traders/merchants/craftsmen for Tyrion to arrest. Again, this seems like a direct attack on Baelish's powerbase. I'm pretty sure that Bronn is also one of Petyr Baelish's little birds (ASoS, Ch.68 Sansa VI) Certainly, it wasn't Tyrion that brought him to the notice of Lord Tywin, or reccommended him for a knighthood. (ASoS, Ch.12 Tyrion II) And I bet, if we ever see Marei again, her platinum hair and green eyes will be set off beautifully by the silver and jade jewellery Tyrion sent via Bronn, supposedly to Alayaya. When Lords Varys and Baelish are around, there is a lot of slippage between a command being given and it's execution.
  3. Walda

    For the record... and posterity!

    1. Jon's parentage I think Jon is the legitimate son of Oberyn Martell and the Prince That Was Promised. Just based on his widow's peak, dark eyes, age, and unStarklike intelligence. Not sure if he ended up with his uncle Eddard or if the Starks took him on in some baby-swap to protect him from Targaryen rulers (including cousin Robert Baratheon) who would kill him for his kingsblood. 2. Tyrion is a Targ A+J=T 3. Bran didn't eat Jojen 4. the PL was written by I think Tywin had a communication system that relied on three maesters writing letters that purported to be from, say, Lady Walda at the Twins, but the hand it was written in would reveal that it came in fact from, say, Ramsey at the Dreadfort or Tywin in King's Landing, or perhaps that the missive was to be relayed on to White Harbor or Winterfell, so it looked like it had been sent from the Riverlands. Qyburn informs Roose of 'Lady Walda's' letter, prompting Roose to send Tallhart and Glover to Duskendale, but it is only after Arya sees a raven arrive from the Twins that they learn of King Robb's marriage and Elmer is told that he won't be marrying a princess after all, and they learn they are now Lannister loyalists. Roose was already comfortably aware that Tywin was in King's Landing and not inclined to undo them. There can only be a certain number of birds at the Twins that know their way to Harrenhal, and at this point in the war, it is critical for Bolton to know what happened on the Blackwater, the intentions of Lord Manderley at Whiteharbor, the depredations of the Ironborn at Moat Calin, Deepwood Motte and Winterfell, the dispositions of the Dreadfort, Robb's actions in the Westerlands, Edmure's in the Riverlands, if Lysa will stir from the Eyrie, the current locations of Ser Gregor Clegane, Randolf Tarly, Mathis Rowan, the Redwyne fleet. It makes little sense to squander the limited number of birds available to transmit that intel on early morning love letters from Lady Bolton to her husband. If she must write to him, it would more naturally be in the post-script of a raven from Lord Walder packed with as much intel as his sons and commanders enable him to collate. So, I'm guessing the messages that Roose receives from Qyburn are not coming from any raven out of the Twins, and Tothmure, Lucan, Harra, and the head steward were killed because they could recognise people's marks on the paperwork that dictated how the internal bureaucracy of Harrenhal operated under Lord Tywin and Lady Whent. Arya knows that Lucan is illiterate, but Ser Lyonel Frey, second son of Lady Genna, sister to Lord Tywin Lannister, only knows that Lucan can recognise his mark, and the Freys are cowardly and cautious, which puts a target on any staff that know things like that Ser Lyonel was not really a prisoner, that his uncle armed him with a new sword, that he was an obvious channel of contact between the Freys and Lord Tywin. Tywin brought three maesters to Harrenhal (ACoK, Ch.30 Arya VII), and when he comes to Kings Landing in the aftermath of the battle of Blackwater, there are three maesters to tend to Joffrey when he cuts his hand on the throne.(ACoK, Ch.65 Sansa VIII) After Tywin dies, we learn that there are three maesters with Roose. In the same place (ADwD, Ch.37 The Prince of Winterfell) Coincidentally, Roose tells the northerners gathered to witness the wedding of fArya and Ramsey there are three military forces marching on Winterfell (Stannis and the clansmen from Deepwood Motte, Crowfood Umber from the North, the Karstarks from the East). Theon knows Arnolf Karstark was only awaiting a signal from Roose Bolton to turn his cloak. Just as Roose was only awaiting a signal from Lord Tywin to turn his cloak when he was being leeched by Arya at Harrenhal. Qyburn delivered the message, but it seems to me he is more likely a conduit of information from the scouts and freeriders of Gregor Clegane via their former brothers in arms, the Brave Companions. If he was getting his intel from Lord Vargo's foraging parties, that would remove the need for a raven from the Twins, and I'm wondering how the maesters of Oldtown would behave if they knew Qyburn had taken over Tothmure's place at Harrenhal - Pycelle for one would not be inclined to communicate with him by choice. I'm guessing the other two hosts also have secret daggers that provide Roose with information, not all of which he chooses to share unadulterated with his banner lords. I'm guessing Ramsey is illiterate, and his letters are dictated to amanuenses who could, if they chose, use his mark as easily as Arya contemplated using Ser Lyonel's. The pink letter was written by someone who could recognise Mance Raydar by sight, someone who doesn't believe Mance Raydar was burnt to death at the Wall by King Stannis. Someone with more recent knowledge of the Wall than Stannis, because they know that Selyse has stayed on at Castle Black not left for the Night Fort yet. They also know of Val and of Mance's son. My guess is the clansmen, a Flint, Wull, Norrey or Liddle. That the letter was from someone near Castle Black, someone who wants a new Acting Lord Commander for Castle Black, because they don't want wildlings populating the gift. They have a mole in Winterfell, and they know who Mance is. Some of them have also met Ramsey and perhaps know him well enough to write in what they imagine is his style. I think the mountain clans are also responsible for the three heads with the eyes cut out (done deliberately to implicate the Weeper and to entice Jon Snow to leave Castle Black and fight the Weeper), and they are also responsible for the face on the Drunkard, the Chestnut, and the Oak guarding the Kingsroad between Castle Black and Moles Town. I don't know if they are in league with Roose, or his three maesters - perhaps the three maesters are only relevant to the PL in that it explains why Ramsey's hand writing changes. 5. Red door/lemon tree = Yeah, I don't know about this one. I agree that lemon trees seem to be a better match for Lys or Dorne than Braavos. Then again, lemon trees are small and can grow in rocky ground and with brackish water, if they have a good micro-climate - say, a warm brick wall that radiates heat at the end of a sunny but cold day, and shelters it from cold winds and sleet and ice-storms. On the Isle of the Gods, R'hllor's house might have a red wall as well as a red door, and braziers that kept it warm even in winter. The Sealord has a glass house. Surrounded by water, both isles are less likely to have frosts, or at least less severe frosts than places further from the water. So it isn't impossible to have a lemon tree in Braavos, although trees of any description are atypical there. There is definitely an association between lemons and poison in the books. And between citrus generally and Dorne and poison. 6. Lanna is the daughter of Tyrion 7. Theon will not be killed before the heart tree at the CV. Theon is going to die for sure - in a sense he died when he became Reek. He asked the Old Gods for a sword, and to die as Theon not Reek. So he will die. But before he formed his Stark affinities, he was Ironborn. So when he dies (possibly when he is killed before the heart tree at the Crofters Village), there will be water involved, and once dead he will rise harder and stronger.
  4. Walda

    Who builds better ships?

    And the main purpose of "pitch" is to chuck it at the enemy in battle. And hempen rope is used mainly for hanging people. It is as if GRRM didn't give much thought to naval engineering until Clash of Kings forced him to, although he had clearly plotted a fair bit of naval action in the current books from the start - Viserys' (now Daenerys') plans to invade Westeros necessarily involved ships, and rightly bothered King Robert from the start. In retrospect, Stannis departing to Dragonstone with the entire Royal fleet ought to concerned both Robert and Eddard more than it did too. But these plot points, and foreshadowing for future Ironborn raids, were clearly there from the start. Perhaps the lack of detail is because the first three books have been told largely from land-lubber points of view. In the whole of A Game of Thrones, the only use of 'pitch' is to describe something black. I could only find one reference to tar (for heads) as well (although this could be because I searched with white space before and after the tar, to avoid wading through endless references to Starks, Targaryens, and bastards). But it could also be because GRRM always intended to ease us into the period detail, rather than launch straight into excruciating particulars, Patrick O'Brian style. (Which, of course, would also kind of force GRRM to commit to a particular period's technology - in boat styles, he cherry-picks from ancient Greek triremes to 19th century whalers - perhaps doing a quiet bit of tightening up certain specifications in Feast and Dance. And he already gets criticized for extraneous details. Still, I bet he regrets making the Ibbanese deep sea whalers, obsessed with bringing blubber to the world somehow, apparently because they just like to smell of it?) Game is a terrestrial-based book, focused on the Starks in the North and King's Landing. Dany is in an exotic land far from it, on a horseback, in a tribe with a cultural aversion to seawater. The only actual sea voyage in it is Catelyn's trip on Storm Dancer from White Harbor to King's Landing. Apart from that, Vayan Poole finds the Wind Witch, and whether it was really out of Braavos or Myr, nobody got on it and it didn't sail from King's Landing. There were other proposed sea voyages that came to nothing: Khal Drogo talked of getting a fleet of ships and invading Westeros when he set out for Slaver's Bay via Lhazareen lands (which implied Meereen had a navy - although we didn't hear anything about it directly until Dance). Ser Jorah talks to Dany of going to Asshai (apparently overland) and getting a ship to Pentos from there. Clash of Kings gets right into the naval theme straight up, first chapter Dragonstone, on the eve of Stannis setting off for the mainland. It introduces Davos, so we have a seafarers point of view for the first time. Immediately after Davos's first chapter we are re-introduced to Theon as a seafarer and a point of view character. Tyrion does a dockside tour of military defences of King's Landing before sending Myrcella to Dorne, Dany meets Quhuru Mo of the Cinnamon Wind, negotiates with Qartheen trading guilds for ships, heads off to the docks of Qarth where she conveniently finds three sent for her from Pentos. Jojen warns that the sea is coming to Winterfell, Theon gives us a short excursion to the Stoney Shore and a longer one to Pyke. Davos gives us a quick tour on the naval side of Storms Ends, as well as a naval view of the Battle of Blackwater. But still, there is not a lot about how ships are built and sailed. The focus is on military rather than naval concerns, even when the battles are on water. The tar is for heads or rum, perhaps except for on the Qartheen docks where (ACoK, Ch.63 Daenerys V) Not a wiff of bilge-water, raw fish, seaweed. Most of his choices don't seem to be even outdoors smells. The hot tar might be for waterproofing vessels or piers, but then again, maybe it is being used to warm honey to roast mice with. Pitch is for lighting, immediately prior to catapulting casks or barrels of it. Also for lighting, as in fuel for torches in the crypts of Winterfell. The one reference relating pitch to boat-building implies that it is something you only smell in the fresh-sawn timber of a brand new boat like the Sea Bitch: (ACoK, Ch.24 Theon II) Tar on the other hand (the only time it is mentioned in relation to ships), is a smell associated with hard use: (AFfC, Ch.34 Cat Of The Canals) Storm of Swords has a lot of people navigating rivers - wildlings coming down the Milkwater, Lannisters on the forks of the Trident, Davos and Tyrion on Blackwater bay, Daenarys observing the Worm and invading Meereen from the Skahazdahn. Sansa takes her first ever sail to the Fingers on the Merling King, and we could assume from her deft familiarity with boats that the Maid of Tarth has some coastal sailing experience too. Stannis gets to the wall without a point of view character, and while he brings men from Eastwatch with him, it is not until Feast for Crows that we start to learn of the Black Brother's fleet. When I look at it, it seems striking that there is so little sea, and so much water in Storm. In Feast, Arya and Samwell becomes seaborne points of view and gain maritime experience in Braavos, while the Ironborn get three new points of view, all experienced mariners. Euron returns from abroad with plans that scatter them across the oceans of Planetos. Arianne and Brienne travel along the coastlines of Westeros. Even compared to Feast, the maritime themes really ramp up in A Dance with Dragons. Tyrion, Victarion and Quentyn go by sea to Meereen. Daenarys is blockaded by a Qartheen and a Meereenese navy. Davos sails from the Sisters to White Harbor with many an appraising glance at their naval defences, Reek gives us a good look at the defences of Moat Calin, and Asha of Deepwood Motte. Even landlocked points of view get a glimpse of the sea: Melisandre sees visions of a port city, Jon gets dispatches from the fleet he sent out of Eastwatch to Hardhome. Tycho Nestoris comes to him, and to Asha. Qyburn brings news from the docks of King's Landing about their fleets in the Stepstones and Dragonstone, the depredations of Euron's and the landing of JonCon's in the Reach, to Cersei and Kevan. Dance also retcons maritime stories into earlier histories - a voyage across the bite with Wylla the fishwife into Eddard's backstory, maritime invasions of Blackfyres into Westerosi history. In Dance and Feast, there seems to be more effort taken with the nautical details - although this could be because there are more nautically informed points of view. There are more mentions of hemp rope, resin, cooperage, more thought given to the function of docks and the nature of harbours than previously. The world has opened up and become much larger, but paradoxically, the distances between places have become smaller, the peoples more cosmopolitan, largely though sea travel. There are clearly at least two big naval battles preparing for Winds of Winter. One that might start between Victarion and some other navy, but will end between Victarion and Euron, over dragons, in the South seas. Another would be the Targaryen conquests of Westeros. Aegon and the Golden Company have already started one. Dany with the Dothraki might start another. Harder to tell if these two will stay on the same side, and which side Sallador, Aurane, Redwyne will take. That would be on the Narrow sea. Unless Dany and/or Euron decide to come at the Kingdoms from the Shivering or Sunset seas, taking their chances on an unmapped and unknown route (Euron might have done this already -the Reader suspected he was lying about retrieving his hell-horn from the ruins of Valyria. Maybe he wasn't even on the summer sea). House Manderley seem to be taking an interested in things happening nearer the shivering seas, around Skagos and Hardhome. If the winds are cold enough, they could be battles of survival on ice more than battles for territory on sea. Still, most real-world "battle on the ice" stories are really maritime survival stories of men who started out in pursuit of territory (eg. Shakleton, Franklin, Amundsen). Dragons can fly to from and over boats, can burn them to the waterline, or melt a path through ice for them to navigate. They can burn wights too. Also, it seems to me that the relationship between dragons and ships is a bit like the relationship between aircraft and aircraft carriers. They don't seem to go any distance over seas without the ships, but they do seem perfectly able to keep themselves alive with fish and frolic when they travel with ships.
  5. Walda

    Who builds better ships?

    Groleo of Pentos points out that he is not a shipwright, but adds that (ADwD, Ch.30 Daenerys V) Rope and canvas are both made from hemp, pitch from pines. Boats need timbers that are knot-free, with a fine, straight grain, dense and buoyant, strong and light, not prone to rot or warp. That almost invariably means well seasoned wood from very old trees, typically hundreds of years old, that have grown in dense wet forests (where they have to compete for scarce sunlight by growing straight and tall, while resisting rot). It is often important that the wood for the hull can be steamed and bent into shape (rainforest timbers like teak are good for this). For the load-bearing timbers of the frame, strength is required so a wood with a high silica content. For knees (the curved part of the boat frame that bore the highest load) what is needed is a tree that not only grows tall with a thick straight trunk, but also has thick strong primary branches as well (because that angle between the trunk and the branch is shaped into the knee, and it needs to be strong) English oak is good, white oak is better - but the boat builder, or a forester that understands boat building, has to go out and spot the particular trees that will do individually, and they have to be felled and transported and milled in ways that preserve their structural integrity. So, it seems to me that Braavos is probably not on the face of it a good place for profitable ship building enterprises in spite of its large merchant and defensive navies - no trees, no room for hemp cultivation - there is hardly enough real estate and water to grow fresh produce to meet the needs of the denizens of the city. Like most things, their wood, pitch, canvas and hemp have to be shipped in from elsewhere. They need water and fuel to make the steam to bend the wood, too. On the plus side, as the aquaduct and canals show, they are very cluey about getting in water. And fuels make good ballast. But getting the materials in to Braavos is always going to be more expensive than building a shipyard in a place like Bear Island or White Harbor, that is surrounded by them. Ship building is also very labour intensive, requiring a variety of highly skilled artisans and a hoard of unskilled labourers too. This gives an economic advantage to a culture that embraces slavery, especially one where slaves are trained up in particular areas of expertise. It is no accident that the great naval powers of the sixteenth century (and of the classical world) were all slave traders, and their navys grew as the slave trade grew. A culture that embraced colonisation is more likely to have governments and non-state actors that will invest in large ships of war and transports (for troops and for slaves). Braavos has a democratic government with an emphasis on free trade - that tends to support smaller and slower boats. travelling slowly in convoys along trade routes to deep harbours with docks and warehouses, avoiding shoals and shallows and hopefully pirates, that they cannot hope to out-manoeuvre, with their big bellies filled until the waterline is almost to the deck, and their crews as small as can be contrived. On the plus side for a Braavosi boat-builder, there is a strong and constant demand for ships and ship repairs in Braavos. Braavos also has the most powerful bank in the world, it is led by a sealord, and it's navy (like Britain's) is it's wooden walls. Both their traders and their government understand the value of a navy and are prepared to invest in one. State investment and subsidisation have historically been a critical factor in the building of large navies and innovative ships. With a state keen enough to put in the money, the expenses of sourcing materials from other lands and paying for labour that other places exploit for nothing, become less of an issue. A ship, once built, can give service for up to a century, and (if a trading vessel) might return the cost of it's building with only one or two voyages (to the spice isles or some other super-profitable venture). A military ship might be the difference between being a powerful trading empire, and not existing at all, so the expense of a navy might be, like the expense of deep harbours, regarded as a common good, a justifiable and prudent item to invest customs duties and poll taxes in. Given the constant link between slave-trading expansionist colonial powers and naval might in real-world history, it seems to me that Braavos is must be on the verge of becoming that, or that in fact the Bank of Braavos has triangulated the slave trade a long time ago, but the Braavosi that Arya and Sam meet are unaware of the role of the bank and the sealord, the trade and the navy, in other parts of the world. Thinking about it, a city state with a large navy, that isn't supporting colonial factories full of unwaged, unfranchised compulsory workers requires a greater suspension of disbelief than magical dragons. Westeros also seems to be notably lacking in expansionist ambition. Except for Euron, the Westerosi navies aspire only to conquer each other . Volantis is a different story, though. (ADwD, Ch.14 Tyrion IV) this passage implies that the Stormlands, Tyrosh, Pentos, Qohor and Norvos also had navies. Lys and Volantis clearly still do. New Ghis, Tolos, and Mantarys might be allied with Yunkai'i because they realise that they are the next in line to be sacked, if Daenerys is left to decide the matter. But it seems to me that Volantis and Qarth have imperial ambitions, and are using their alliance with the Yunkai to get in and carve themselves out a concession in Slaver's bay. Volantis, first child of Valyria, is not a natural ally of the Ghiscari. (ADwD,Ch.16 Daenerys III) That might just be the way the Green Grace spins it to Daenarys, but it explains why the cities of Slaver's bay, so dependant on international trade, have no navy or merchant navy to speak of. (A slave-trading city without a colonising navy is almost as much of an oddity as a free city with one). Yunkai has a forest of birch (which rots easily), and Meereen has groves of olive (knotty gnarly wood) but it seems nobody has attempted to replant the cedars (excellent maritime timber, good to work, but strong) in the last 300 years. It is interesting that, in Slaver's bay and apparently throughout the world, copper has low value and apparently none to shipbuilders. The English started cladding the hulls of their boats with copper to make them fast, waterproof and protect from shipworm in the fifteenth century. It caught on, and the price of copper boomed whenever the ship building trade did for the next three centuries. GRRM's naval technology must be older - although he has naval technologies from a broad time range. Stuff like Victarion's collapsible telescopes (late 18th century technology) on the one hand, and on the other, the Swan ships from the Summer Isles (bronze age technology, but apparently vastly superior thanks to the choice of wood for their hulls). There doesn't seem to be any technological impediment to lining hulls with copper, beyond nobody thinking to do it. Renly and the Dothraki have no trouble getting their hands on copper tubs. the Dornish wear copper helmets, Maester Balabar has a copper funnel, Marwyn, Haggon and Ramsey have copper kettles and Braavos has copper domes... so the coppersmiths are clearly up to the task, as soon as someone realises the advantages of lining their ships bottoms with it. I think perhaps the Summer Islands naval forces are a cross between the South Sea Islands waka taua and Tolkien's elven ships. Hizdahr's rooms in the Great Pyramid of Meereen have supporting spars of black oak, that seem very good for ship building purposes. There was enough combustible material in the pyramids of Hazkar and Yherizan to keep them burning in the rain for days, and enough combustible material in the pyramids of Astapor to burn them out too. Looking at places that have forests that might yield suitable timbers: Lots of places in the North of Westeros: wolfswood, Deepwood, the Neck,Umber lands, Hornwood forests, in the Gift around the Night's Fort and Queenscrown, in the hills of the Norries and the Flints, Bear Island. We know there is a navy, newly built, in the White Knife at White Harbor, and that Jorah Mormont built a single ship in Bear Island. But the North seems to have had no naval forces in living memory apart from these recent and not extensive efforts. Historically, there are strong hints of a navy in firth at White Knife long before the Manderleys arrived: (ADwD, Ch.29 Davos IV) At Winterfell, the only allusion to naval forces in the ancient North are Bran the Shipwright and Bran the Burner. It seems odd and slightly suspicious to me that the West Coast of the North, and Bear Island, which has been harried by the Ironmen in Maege Mormont's time, and visited by Tyroshi slavers in Jorah's, should have no ship building industry but the one ship he banged together to escape to Essos in. Same for Deepwood Motte, Moat Calin, Greywater. I could understand if King Arys II or Aegon I had given some ultimatum that the North would have no navy but that of the crown, although it seems to me that Robert Baratheon might have relaxed rules like that, especially when putting down Balon's first rebellion, and afterwood ensuring the peace was kept. This account from the Wolf Den also makes mention of reavers from the Three Sisters, and kings from the Vale. A navy from the Vale (which we have otherwise heard nothing about) fighting with a Northern navy (ditto). The Sistermen don't seem to have lost their appetite for plunder, smuggling and betrayal, although they display a semblence of respect for the authority of the true Warden of the East by only conspiring against him in secret. The forests of the Mountains of the Moon and the Giant's Lance have the right sort of timber, and even supposing the Mountains of the Moon are too rugged and clan-infested to harvest and transport timber, there are Snakewood and Coldwater Burn right there in the webs of the Fingers, just the places to stuff hidden navies, and their slippery Lord Protector is just the type to hide an army in the inlets supposedly allied with his Lord Declarant rival, Bronze Yohn. Petyr Baelish has also been investing himself in the Gulltown merchant navy these last twenty years at least. The Riverlands are too far inland for the most part, and too long converted to agriculture, to furnish or feel the need for a navy since Harren built Harrenhal. Seaguard and Oldstones might have been useful places to have a navy before then, and we know from Merret's epilogue that there are forests around Oldstones with Elms (buoyant timber, resistant to rotting). The woods around Harrenhal could be accessed by river, but given the proximity to the God's Eye they might be sacred or part of the Pact of the God's Eye. The other possible site for shipbuilding in the Riverlands would be along the Trident between Castle Darry to the Saltpans. The combination of the timber and the river to transport it, and the bay and docks at the Saltpans, to float the finished product in and out, might make it a worthwhile. But it doesn't seem to be an industry that is already established. Perhaps the shallowness of the tidal estuary around the Quiet Isle makes the draft too shallow or the currents too strong to float ships out safely. I'm not sure if they grow hemp or if that was just a notion of Ser Hyle's, but the cleared parts of the Riverlands seem to be a good place for it. In the far North, beyond the wall, there are the forests of the Frostfangs and the Haunted forest and just about everywhere else before the plains of the Lands of Always Winter. There are also whole tribes of Wildlings dependant on fishing and harassed by slave traders from Tyrosh and Lys. But they don't seem to have had a navy. Perhaps because the Night's Watch at Eastwatch have been assiduously policing them to prevent them building warships or training crews to man boats to slip around to the south in. King's Wood does have a Navy, as to be expected in a place established by a naval power 300 years ago precisely because it had a good harbour and was surrounded by the right trees for shipbuilding. Dragonstone, where that Naval power had been based for a generation before the conquest, which definitely did have ships then, did not appear to have ships in the era of Aerys II. Dragonstone did destroy Aerys fleet, the night Daenerys was born. I'm not sure if Robert's fleet was entirely built in King's Landing and then sailed to Dragonstone, or if it was partly built on Dragonstone after Jon Arryn died. The Velaryons seem to have had ships, so maybe Dragonstone still had ship builders. It seems that the Storm Lords, that made their name as a naval force, have not had a ship to speak of since Steffon Baratheon died, in spite of the availability of natural resorces. I would think that Crackclaw point would be a good place for smugglers to repair their ships, although Duskendale would be a better place for a shipyard. And there is a market in Duskendale for repairing ships, if not actually for building them. We know Lannisport had a fleet that was burnt at anchor in Balon's first rebellion, and apparently never replaced. That Dorne had not had a fleet since Nymeria burnt her boats. Other places that seem to me should have navies and shipwrights, that I don't think we have heard of yet, are Ibben, the Basalisk Isles, Qohor, the Isle of Cedars, and New Ghis We know that the Ironborn do have a fleet, and at least two shipwrights. Ambrode, who is old, and Sigrin who in Theon's opinion is thick witted. Still, there is no doubt the Ironborn have leathally fast ships. So, to answer the OP's question, I would say the best warships would be built by the Ironborn, and that Pentoshi shipwrights make more and better trading vessels than the Braavosi. I'd rate Braavos above the Reach for shipwrights, because they are a culture focused on trading by sea, while the Reach seem to do a lot of wine and agriculture, so while their real estate and labour might be slightly less expensive than Braavos, their skilled labour would be in seasonal competition with agriculture (which would drive up wages as well as lowering the general focus on boat-building.) It is also likely that they would be doing a lot of trading up the Mander, to the Westerlands, Riverlands and Crownlands. So they might prefer to build small boats with shallow draft, carracks and barges only just sturdy enough to get to the Sheild Iles, rather than more expensive large sea-going vessels, which would only be really necessary for international shipping out of the Arbor and Oldtown. Oldtown's shipwrights might be spurred to innovation by having a Citadel, but I don't know. Marwyn seems to be the only Archmaester that goes down to the docks, and he hasn't shown much interested in naval engineering. There is no mention of shipwrights at Oldtown, and Humphrey Hightower is in Lys, attempting to supplement their small naval force with Lyseni sellswords. The Oldtown navy does at least appear to be orderly and alert, in marked contrast to Renly's huge army. Willas, at Highgarden, with his interest in astronomy and studiousness, might also be a force for naval innovation. We haven't really learnt enough about what is happening at Highgarden - all we know is that the Tyrells are right on to the Ironborn invasion, to the extent Cersei allows. I'm guessing that Winds of Winter will be all about naval forces and naval battles, given how much of what we know about the navies of Planetos was set up in Dance with Dragons. TL;DR Iron Isles, Pentos, Braavos, Reach in that order.
  6. Walda

    Happy New Year

    Time to deflower the maids of the fields and the seas. Here is wishing you a bountiful harvest and winnable wars. And the coming of a Windy Winter in its season.
  7. Walda

    Wow, I never noticed that v.17

    In ADwD Ch.36 Cersei VIII, Tommen tries to pull rank on Cersei and Cersei threatens Tommen Cersei then goes to bed, and in her dream she is the queen without a tongue
  8. Walda

    Mistakes/Contradictions in the books?

    This was a Tolkien issue too: How many miles in a league? According to Quentyn (ADwD, Ch.25 The Windblown) but to Dany (ADwD, Ch.30 Daenerys V) and (ADwD, Ch.57 Daenerys V) According to Asha (ADwD, Ch.42 The King's Prize) cf. ADwD, Ch.62 The Sacrifice Deepwood Motte is not so far from the sea, however (ADwD, Ch.26 The Wayward Bride) So Asha is clearly overstating her case when she lays it out to Theon (ACoK, Ch.56 Theon V) and Bran is confused (ACoK, Ch.35 Bran V) or the world around Winterfell has shrunk since the War of Five Kings. We learn the length of the wall early on, and are reminded frequently (AGoT, Ch.21 Tyrion III) cf. ACoK,Ch.43 Jon V; ASoS,Ch.26 Jon III; ASoS, Ch.60 Tyrion VIII; ADwD,Ch.07 Jon II In the first mention, we are also given the length in miles (AGoT, Ch.21 Tyrion III) So we know that Tyrion and Asha are using the same league Sam knows (ASoS, Ch.56 Bran IV) and uses the same ratio leagues:miles as Tywin and Asha (ASoS, Ch.46 Samwell III) But he gets lost (ASoS,Ch.46 Samwell III) If he was thinking clearly, he would realise that, as he was not on the Bay of Seals or the Bay of Ice, he could not have been more than thirty leagues from the gate at Castle Black. Jon has a better understanding of the distances involved...well, most of the time (ASoS, Ch.07 Jon I) Although, 10,000 leagues north of Dorne is actually in the ballpark of 1,000 leagues north of Dorne (if you take the shortest path rather than flying in a great circle around Planetos one and a bit times) and that is in fact where Jon happens to be when he says this, ±100 leagues (possibly even less than 100 Dany leagues).
  9. Walda

    Kraznys mo Naklos - Charming Villain

    That might be so - although I'm not certain the massacre of the Good Masters was as exhaustive as you imply. If Kraznys had relatives under the age of twelve, the unsullied would not have killed them, for example. The books suggest some of the Good Masters survived (ASoS, Ch.71 Daenerys VI) Later, when Astapor is under siege by the Yunkai'i (ADwD,Ch.30 Daenerys V) This might have been an utterly futile and irrational gesture, that only dispossessed the unfortunate freedmen who were squatting there, or it could have been that some of Kraznys' people had held the pyramid right up until then. We don't know how long Daenarys' unsullied spent freeing slaves and massacring Good Masters. Did they have time to search all the houses of Astapor, all the islands of the Worm, all the ships on its docks? Pyramids are defensively build structures, well guarded, huge and labyrinthine with multiple exits, difficult to search completely. Difficult to despoil completely, for that matter. Maybe they were not searched at all. Maybe the Unsullied only cleared the soldiers and Masters that had gathered in the Plaza of Punishment...there seemed enough key people there at the time to disrupt the rule of the city for a time. We do know that Cleon I turned back Astapor back into a slaver city in short order after Dany and the Unsullied left. (ADwD, Ch.02 Daenerys I) While Kraznys mo Nakloz is obviously not one of the enslaved survivors, this does not mean that the things that happened in his chapters will have no bearing on future events, or that he has no supporters. It doesn't even mean that his part in the story is over - there are a lot of dead people still having their say in this story. Viserys also died wreathed in a burning crown, and that didn't stop him Kingsplaining to Dany in the final chapter of Dance. Lyanna Stark was dead and gone fifteen years before the story started, but we haven't heard the last of her yet.
  10. Walda

    Kraznys mo Naklos - Charming Villain

    Just a small quibble about an excellent post: in the show Dany makes sure that Missandei is included in the deal. In the book Kraznys spontaneously gifts her Missandei, believing she has no other way to communicate with her Unsullied. (ASoS, Ch.27 Daenerys III) Of course, giving her away shows us Kraznys does not appreciate the extent of Missandei's talents. I'm wondering if that is under-valuing is market-driven, if because Kraznys is a slaver, he values slaves in terms like 'income per unit' and ten-year-old girl scribe-slaves sell at a much lower price than forty-year-old man scribe-slaves, or ten-year-old girl sex-slaves bring in more money for their owners than ten-year-old girl scribe-slaves. Or perhaps the Astapori train scribes the way they train unsullied, starting with a lot of children of diverse background and ages, training them rigorously and culling out the ones that can't keep up. That would mean that pretty much everyone in Missandei's cohort would be as fluent in languages, and some perhaps even younger than her. So while Missandei's precocity is a marvel to us, it might be expected among the scribe-slaves of Astapor. Missandei is quite calculating in her own way - in the same way as Tyrion manipulated his slave duties so he could escape with Penny and Jorah, getting employment with Kraznys might have been her way of staying with her brothers. While Missandei's tutors would have to know her intelligence and diplomacy were extraordinary even if her language skills were only as unexceptional as required, Kraznys does not seem to have the education to judge even Missandei's linguistic abilities. Not being bilingual, he could only judge on how readily a translator understands him, and how smoothly the sale went. He might well suppose that, if the sale went through, he could spare himself the upkeep of a translator for ten years while he trained the next cohort of unsullied, and when the time comes he can get another child-scribe who will do the job just as well, or well enough. He might even have become aware of that while he was ordering his current child-scribe around. This reminds me, (AGoT, Ch.32 Arya III) Illyrio was getting Varys tens of little birds at a time from somewhere, it seems to me that these children were not going home to their parents ever, and the gold was not making up their pay. And this talk of tongues - it doesn't sound consensual. It seems unlikely Illyrio was sourcing these children from Westeros, which means there is a high probability that the Common Tongue is just one of the languages these children understand ... there is a bit of overlap between the skill set of a little bird and that of a child scribe-slave. So perhaps Astapor trains scribe-slaves too, but not as extensively, expensively or prestigiously as they do the Unsullied. We know the Unsullied are necessarily more expensive, because they are sold in groups of a hundred at a time...which also makes me wonder, as the most we see in Illyrio's household is four that accompany him and Tyrion into Andalos, and he could not have purchased less than ten - so it looks like a person can break them up into smaller units than ten once they have purchased them, and probably on-sell them as well. Also, I'd like to add to your insightful point about the similarities between the Harpy and the dragon: when we first see the Harpy statue in the book we are told and (ASoS, Ch.23 Daenerys II) the Harpy of Astapor is also a breaker of chains.
  11. Walda

    Kraznys mo Naklos - Charming Villain

    I suspect Kraznys and things that were said and done in his chapter are going to prove relevant to matters that are in the process of being unfolded, and will be revealed further in Winds of Winter, like who the harpy is and the difference between a Loraq and a Kandaq. At least, in my headcanon I have found a lot to ponder in this chapter. Although it is difficult for the reader to sympathize with such an obvious puppy-kicking villain, his relations might be disgruntled about Daenerys crimes against the citizens of Astapor, her theft of their unsullied, etc. and not consider the matter to be unfinished. At the moment I'm attempting to put my many thoughts about this in some kind of order for another post (a long one, made longer by my laptop breaking down and by having still more thoughts every time I re-read the chapter while waiting for it to be repaired) but, to give you one example to illustrate why I don't think this chapter is done and dusted, have you considered that Stalwart Shield might have been missing a nipple before he was stabbed to death with his own short sword?
  12. Walda

    So, what's your head canon?

    - Only children of Vinsenya's line inherited the fire-proof dragon-rider blood. After Rhaenarys was bumped from the succession plan, the dragon blood left the Royal line of the Targaryens, but came back into it a generation or two before Aegon V by means of a cuckolding secret bastard, possibly a strong. -Rhaella had dragon-rider blood, but Aerys II did not. Their child Viserys does not. -Daenarys is the bastard daughter of Ser Arthur Dayne, who had dragon-rider blood on the maternal line too (I suspect from the Seafaring Velaryons, hence she is a dragon rider and can pass dragon riding along to her kin. Rhaegar probably had the same father - at least, Aerys always suspected he did, and wrongly believed that he would therefore not inherit the fire-proof dragon-genes, which Aerys II was obsessed with recreating, and believed he possessed - hence 'Let them burn', believing he would survive the flames). - The Arryns have a lot of King's blood and dragon-rider blood, as they have married successive female Targaryens in the past. Jon Arryn's fertility problems and Lysa's miscarriages of all his legitimate heirs arise from this. I'm guessing the Tullys have some female Targaryens in their lineage as well. - If Sweetrobin has dragon-rider blood, it comes from the Strong lineage of his real father (most probably Petyr Baelish - who knows his own descent, the reason his great-grandfather was exiled in Braavos, and from this stems his great desire to rule over the Riverlands from Harrenhal). Although, SweetRobin would have various old-Kings blood through both the Strong line and his maternal Whent line. These powers are more to do with stone and water and air than fire. - The Blue Bard is Willas Tyrell and Cersei is in big, big trouble. - Marillion lives, and lives to serve Petyr Baelish. If he didn't leave the Eyrie rolled up in a tapestry or in a chest, he is up there still, communicating by falcon, perhaps getting it to bring him meat also. Hopefully he has enough fuel and furs to survive, if he isn't down the bottom and on his merry way. The guy with the raspy voice and the blindfold who confessed, was SweetRobin's whipping boy. He is used to it,, poor sap. -Kezmya Pahl poisoned Strong Belwas with the chilled wine. The poison (perhaps tears of Lys?) was introduce to the wine by a Pahl relative of hers when Dany's chair stopped due to the collapsed palanquin-bearer. Luckily for Strong Belwas, he was taking the hot, purging spices, that were also super sweet (protecting his stomach from being stripped), and did not drink the poison on an empty stomach. Also he was very strong, and could afford to lose a bit of weight and condition in his convalescence. The Pahls intended target was Strong Belwas, the former pit-fighting slave who humiliated their champion and wiped his bottom on the house colors. Apart from this instance, they are loyal to Daenarys (if only because they have faith in Reznak and know that Meereen under Skahaz and/or the Yunkai will be worse for them.) Still, one of the cupbearers has successfully got away with poisoning the wine, and all of them know it. I don't like this hair-saving spin the dagger game they are playing - saving hair of dead/absent people as a death memorial thing was big in the 18th and 19th centuries, it looks like some kind of last-ditch suicide pact to me. - At a certain point in time, the mirrors that reflect the light around the citidel library (instead of candles) are going to line up in an unfortunate configuration of lenses and mirrors, one that simply couldn't happen in the Maester's model of the universe. Unfortunately, before they detect the error in their model, it will create a laser that will burn the whole library and all the books in it to the ground. There is more. I'll add them when I think of them.
  13. The concealment I was referring to was made by James Poniewozik - I've bolded the bit where Poniewasik mentions redacting the interview, and underlined the bit that I believe is GRRM comparing two of the season two rulers to historic rulers (probably Carter and Nixon), in that they did not follow the good man=good ruler, bad man=bad ruler formula (James Poniewozik, 'GRRM Interview Part 2: Fantasy and History', in Time magazine 'Tuned In' section April 18, 2011 [accessed http://entertainment.time.com/2011/04/18/grrm-interview-part-2-fantasy-and-history/ 17th November 2018]) It seems clear to me that they started by talking about Boromir and Aragon, moved on to Nixon/Carter and from there to two characters who encountered difficulties in ruling in season two of Game of Thrones. (I'll concede that Nixon/Carter parallels are a better fit for Robert/Ned than for Boromir/Aragon or Aragon/Boromir., though) And yes, the hand is more powerful than a vice president, but an absolute monarch is more powerful than a US president. The office of the president was designed to be weaker even than that of George III, a constitutional monarch well contained by his parliament. I dispute your claim that the office of the Hand was ever more powerful than that of the King. The Hand was appointed by the King and could be dismissed by him. A Hand with a flair for administration or a powerful personality could get more done than a King without these blessings, but the office ranked below that of the king, always. JonCon and Rossart were never more powerful as Hands than Aerys was as King, and I would not say that Ned as hand was more powerful than Robert, either. People like Tywin and Criston Cole could certainly wield more power than their monarchs, and might even have chosen their kings, but because of their personal qualities and ambitions, and perhaps also because of the comparative weakness of their monarchs. Not because the office of the Hand gave them the authority to usurp their monarch's power. From the assassination plot for Daenarys, it seems implicit that the hand was sworn to abide by the king's will, hence Eddard being obliged to hand in his badge when he refuses to approve the assassination Robert had willed. The similarity between the Hand and the Vice President is that both are public offices with a broad remit to serve the realm rather than merely the current head of state. Both require the holder assume the position of head of state when the head of state is indisposed, overseas, or dead. Both involve being sworn into office, having a chain or badge of office, having a place in the cabinet/on the small council. Neither are subordinate to any other member of the cabinet/small council. The office has existed a long time, has a basis in law, is not an office that exists only at the discretion of the incumbent head of state. As far as we know, every King since the conquest has had a Hand. The relative rank of the president and vice president to the monarch and the hand, is what makes me think they are analogous. The chief of staff seems to me more like a seneschal - someone like Reznak who the incumbent head of state could decide was surplus to requirements and decide not to have one at all. Someone that served the person of the head of state. rather than the state itself.
  14. Walda

    Why marry Sansa to Tyrion in particular?

    (ACoK, Ch.45 Catelyn VI) Tyrion had exchanged terms with Lady Catelyn. Tywin was ensuring she held no delusion that those terms had been accepted by him, the real hand. He had Jamie back (courtesy of Roose Bolton, although she didn't know it. And Roose via Steelshanks, was Tywin's conduit to the Freys, although she didn't know that either.) What he wanted her to know was that Tyrion had pissed all over their terms, had no honour, and make sure none of the Starks would attempt to negotiate with their new brother in law. Also very humiliating for Tyrion, making sure he knew his place, winding back whatever part of his handiwork Tywin couldn't take over, just as Tywin had bought Tyrion's sellswords and sent home Tyrion's wildlings (that couldn't be bought, but could be a nuisance for Lysa, and feel that the half man had betrayed them). Sansa was the best marriage by far that Tywin was ever likely to procure for Tyrion, and it sends a message to the Tyrells that Tywin is on to their plots and they had better feel honoured to have Cersei instead. There is the bonus that he can claim he is giving Tyrion a 'reward' for his efforts, Winterfell for Casterley Rock. And it sends a message to Robb about where Winterfell is going when he dies (an event that Tywin knows is imminent. I doubt he gave Robb the boy credit for having the foresight to make a will as soon as he got news of Sansa's wedding. It also protects the Lannisters - especially Tyrion. However much the Starks hate and distrust him, they have very little reason to attack him - he is Sansa's main protector, as well as her main threat. If the Northerners try a covert operation on Joffrey or any of the Lannisters at King's Landing, Sansa will be dead. And it protects Tywin from Tyrion. He isn't one to underestimate the cunning of his resentful and malignant second son ( someone's second son, anyway) A really neat way to tie up a lot of hanging threads, ruthless, but bloodless.
  15. Yeah, my first guess was Lord High Steward in the old money, or Prime Minister in the new. Both are public offices, a higher honour for someone who is already a Lord than Chief of Staff, are more to do with the legislature than the executive side of things, more to do with serving the realm on the King's behalf, than serving the King so the King can serve the realm. In the Westminster system Chief of Staff would be more like Thomas Cromwell - he signed himself something like "confidential secretary to the King" before he was given a seat and higher honour. His position was invented by Henry and himself, not a high office that had existed since the Conqest, not a position that a great Lord would feel honoured to serve in (but for low born people like Cromwell, a very great honour indeed). In the modern system, chief of staff for the Prime Minister is not a great institution with a swearing in and a ceremonial chain of office. In Britain it is a relatively new position, established by Tony Blair when he was PM. In Australia we have had the position for longer (Gough Witlam formalised the title in 1972, but the civil servant with the title 'Principle Private Secretary' was called chief of staff for years before that... it wouldn't surprise me if the title had been informally coined during WWII, when Douglas MacCarthur came to Australia in 1942 and the alliance with America became more important to Australia than the alliance with Britain) Canada has had chiefs of staff since 1987. The 'principle private secretary' was always a public servant. The chief of staff is too, but after they are appointed by the PM, the whole point of the office being, the PM can appoint whomever the PM wants, rather than select or be given a member of the civil service. Since Blair's time, the appointee has often been a senior party operative. Some claim this has led to a more partisan and poll-driven style of government, a more remote PM, the kind of governance that The Thick of It satirised. Some seem to think of the position as a reward for loyal party or factional service to the PM, or as a security that the PM's faction will be represented in policy when the PM is in office. But at the end of the day, the PM's chief of staff serves the PM rather than the realm. They don't have a chain of office or a swearing in, they are not regarded as public people and when the papers occassionally treat them like politicians there are a slew of opinion pieces about their having the ordinary person's right to privacy, and their acting for the PM - and if they are not, that is the PM's fault for not giving them direction or reining them in. There is a secretarial function inherent in the role - they are constantly organising flights to and from the PM's engagements, checking the security detail, emailing PM's speeches and answers to enquiring journalists, managing his staff, it is a busy backroom kind of job, not in Henry VIII's time or now one that a Lord in his own right would regard as an honour too high to refuse without giving offence. In fact, if a Lord was given the job, they probably would take offence (unless they were a factional associate and didn't want/have/take their seat in the house.) The president's chief of Staff is a public role. There is a swearing in, if not a chain of office. Still, I think the role is more about serving the POTUS than serving America. The Hand seems to be largely about serving the realm in the King's absence, and holding a cabinet position as the King's principle advisor in matters of state. I'd say Secretary of State was closer to Hand of the King than chief of staff. When Ned took the throne, he seemed to adopt a more legislative than executive approach - viewing his duty as one of brining the King's Justice and keeping the King's peace, rather than considering what Robert would want him to do. At one point he hands in his badge of office, so we know he has the power to resign his appointment. Robert doesn't fire any of his Hands, but we know from the reign of Arys that hands can be dismissed by the king, or executed by him. While Aerys did not anticipate any of his hands would succeed to the throne, there have been Targaryens who appointed Hands with the idea that they would succeed. And Robert Baratheon had appointed Ned Hand with the idea that he would rule the realm in Robert's absence, and be Joffrey's Regent until the boy came of age, if Robert should die before then.
  16. Ah, should have checked the date as well - didn't realise the discussion was about the show. Still good to know it wasn't King Robert he was talking about. Although it seems to me that neither Ned's or Robert's identity would need to be concealed for fear of season two spoilers. Stannis, Daenarys, Robb, Renly, Balon and Joffrey were our season two rulers. No, the hand is the equivalent of the vice-president. The office of president was intended to replace the King as head of state. While it was used as a title in the English commonwealth (and in many other places where elected officials head an organisation), the USA was the first nation to use the title to designate an individual head of state (in the English commonwealth, John Bradshaw was the head of the council, and the council was the head of state). George H.W. Bush was president when the last Soviet troops departed in February 1989. But Gorbachev started a withdrawal strategy in 1987, and he appointed a Soviet sponsored local communist government under Najibullah, and they were in power nominally for about 10 years but in reality, until the collapse of the soviets - the Afghan government collapsed the quarter after the funds and arms stopped coming in from the Soviets. The Mujadhadeen and the Pakistani forces (by then awash with US funds and armaments) took over. So if you regarded Najibullah's administration as an extension of Soviet power, the withdrawal would be either 26th December 1991 when the Soviet Union was officially dissolved, or 15th April 1992 when Najibullah's government collapsed, replaced with the divisive and not well supported government/civil war of US-sponsored Gulbuddin Hekmatyar "The butcher of Kabul' who was known for flaying his enemies and betraying his allies. The Taliban brought stable government (to Kabul at least) September 1996.
  17. Ah ha! Glad for the link, and glad you clarified that bit - the most disturbing aspect of this whole topic for me was the thought that GRRM somehow thought Robert Baratheon was like Jimmy Carter. The guy knows his characters really well, so if he thought so, I'd been grossly misreading the character somehow. Well, truth is, he didn't. All we know is that he was discussing the machinations of two rulers with the journalist, who wanted to keep the article spoiler free. As Robert died in the first book, and Ned not only died but was never a ruler (or only once, when he founded the BwB by accident) it is unlikely that GRRM was comparing either of them to Jimmy Carter. My guess is that he was talking about Stannis and Daenerys, as there is no way that Cersei or Euron could be mistaken for well intentioned good people. (Mance and the tattered prince are deposed, we don't really know enough about the character and machinations of the rulers of the free cities to make any except perhaps Illyrio or Xaro, both of whom takes pains not to identify as a ruler, but more as an influential committee member. And while they are more morally ambiguous than Cersei and Euron, they don't seem to be blocked or frustrated, or idealistic enough to qualify for the good person/bad ruler thing. And Jon is dead. Although an unJon Lord Commander might be what they were talking of, or Sam as Lord Commander) I can see how Daenarys is Carter-like, in that she is diligent, well intentioned, but getting played by her advisors and her king, who want her to be impotent, queen of slaves, to play the Harpy. The enemy is not just camped outside her walls, it is within her administration, stuffing up every thing she tries to set right (eg. the opening of Daznak's pit - as Tyrion found out, there was a slave market trading within site of her gates, and slaves were being taken in to the pit to be eaten alive by lions, while she is being sold bullshit about free men and women, paid and fighting for glory, with the dead pit animals being fed to the poor freedmen as a healthful stew.) The difficult thing is to see what she can do about it (other than burn them all, like her putative father did.) But, hello! Tyrion is at hand (pun intended) and he knows exactly what things are like on the ground. Stannis reminds me a little of Jimmy Carter - they were both naval commanders, so there is that. But the thing I'm thinking about seems to be the tooth-grinding piety. Although the Red God is Selyse's religion, rather than his...Carter was less equivocal in his belief. But Carter must have felt like grinding his teeth when Jerry Fawell and the Moral Majority started up in '79, representing Reagan as God's chosen one, and himself as the one demanding abortions for everyone. I don't think Carter really made his Christianity a front and centre issue when he came into office - it was mostly in reaction to the Moral Majority that he started spouting his brittle professions of piety, and they stole his Southern voters anyway. It must have hurt - he genuinely believed in God, but recognised the secular nature and tradition of government. Reagan was not exactly a devout man, but he would ride roughshod over the secular tradition if it got him votes, and as it happened, it did. So he ended up president and Jimmy ended up being burnt in effigy as Satan, no less. I imagine there might have been some tooth-grinding on the way there. Oh yes, and Stannis is characterised as the perpetual dark horse, underdog and loser with stuff like Proudwing, and his 'mine by rights' shtick. That is a bit like Carter too.
  18. I'm praising Carter for not giving unlimited support to nutjobs just because they were not communists, the way both Regan and Nixon did. The CIA cultivated the anti-communist nutjobs, but gave them medical kits and communications equipment and (the bit I don't approve of) small arms - kalashnikov knock-offs, so they could bleed the communist state but not defeat it. Even when the funding and support were turned up to eleven in the Regan administration, it wasn't that which brought down the communists in Afghanistan. It was the collapse of the Soviets, and their reluctance to continue to pay for such reluctant dependant colonies. Of course it would have been better if the USA had stayed out of Afghanistan entirely, but there was no realistic chance of that happening. And of course they were going to support the anti-communists no matter how truly disgusting a force they were to ally with to do it. Carter was as anti-communist as any US president, he couldn't/wouldn't let the Communists do their thing without CIA involvement, but he did the next best thing, which was only to give the nutjobs first aid and radio kits, not money or RPG's or US training or recognition. So, yeah, not like Syria or Yemen, or what Regan did in Afganistan with the Mujadhadeem, or like what Nixon did in Cambodia (thinking on it, Kampuchea was a good example of what happens when the CIA just pulled out and did nothing. On the one hand, getting Air America out of there was a good thing. On the other hand the killing fields was a really bad thing.)
  19. Wow, you guys are so hard on Jimmy Carter. GRRM is so hard on Jimmy Carter. Comparing him to Robert Baratheon - Carter was an obsessive copper-counting skinflint and the White House has never cost the taxpayer less than it did in his administration (well, not in the 20th century, in real terms. The 19th century presidents seemed to pay for most of the staff and dinners and crockery and what not from their independent fortunes, and it was the Regans that brought in the idea of offering out rooms to big donors like it was some kind of high class hotel). Although, Carter was an excellent entrepreneurial businessman- that was how he restored the fortunes of his peanut farm, he was also ideologically opposed to making the White house work for him that way, and a man of simple tastes besides. In spite of the second Opec oil crisis and the resulting stagflation (a global rather than a national economic situation, not caused by anything he did, and dealt with fairly competently, although with mixed success - I can't think of a place in the opec-dependant economies that dealt with the situation better, and while his deregulation of the Nixon price controls were very unfortunately timed for him politically, they were not so bad that Reagan didn't see fit to continue them. Also, Carter had the foresight to see that a gulf war would only make things worse) the majority of Americans had prospered during his administration. I guess you could say that about Robert Baratheon and the Seven Kingdoms, too, except Robert's only crisis appears to have been the Greyjoy Rebellion (a national rather than a global, military rather than economic) and Robert did see a short sharp 'bomb 'em and get the hell out of dodge' type war as the solution. Lucky for him and his Kingdoms, it worked. I guess GRRM doesn't feel personally obligated to Carter for ending the persecution of draft dodgers, because he wasn't one of them. And I think the USA in general was better off with price-controlled electricity, stable unionised workplaces, affirmative action policies, a Department of education (This last has survived several Republican administrations that could have dismantled it but chose not to - including one or two that had made election promises to take it down). Also worth bearing in mind that the alternative to Carter was Ford and Dole (who I suspect would do as much for Trump, if he could.) Robert Baratheon's economic policies were more like Reagan's, based on pumping money into the economy, military and militaristic spending mostly, letting the big fish get most of it, trusting that there would be plenty of crumbs for the little fish if they did, without doing much or anything to ensure they would not be worse off as a result. Jimmy Carter's middle east policy was better and fairer, and more like doing something, than anything the USA has done since then. His management of the CIA (cutting it right back to a lean cadre of extremely knowledgeable, professional and capable agents) and especially his support for the Mujahadeen after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan - strictly limited in extent, but very effective and strategic, and invaluable to the insurgents...Al Qaeda was not taught how to make IED's or given plastics and RPG's on his watch. Would that it had stayed that way. He sorted Panama. Except that he was the bunny that happened to be in power when the Iranian revolution finally happened (as it was destined to do - the Shah's regime was oppressive and his true base of support had been US and UK oil interests rather than any of the people who had to live under it.), he did good work overseas. If Operation Eagle Claw had succeeded, he would have been a hero. I can still remember watching (on TV) the Muslim students in Tehran burning an effigy of Carter and cheering 'Regan, Regan, Regan' after the 1980 election results were announced, as if that was going to be a great thing for them. Unlike Eagle Claw, most of what he did was pedestrian and truthfully a bit boring, but good stuff that needed doing. Really, Robert seems a lot more like Regan - disproportionately interested in building up the military forces, sparing no expense at his court, an extremely popular face, good at the circus aspect of being a king, not so much the bread part, and leaving the money to the money-men to deal with. Also, Robert grew increasingly physically bloated and disenchanted with the business of ruling - not quite the same as Regan's increasing Alzheimer's, but with the same effect - he became more and more removed from the decision-making in his administration. Jimmy Carter continued to get up early and take an active interest in US and international affairs every day of his presidency and nearly every day since. Also, Robert Baratheon does not seem to be a likely contender for a peace prize. Although the Nobel peace prize has gone to some odd people for even odder reasons (eg. Kissinger, Aung San Suu Kyi, Obama, various Israeli/Palestine war criminals), Robert's negotiation style would not at any time give anyone the idea that he warranted a peace prize, or was more likely to act like a peace-prize winner if he had one. Carter on the other hand, does seem to have truly merited his peace prize, and has (as far as I know at the moment) done nothing to make the Nobel committee look like idiots for giving one to him. Since he left office, Carter has done good work in this world. I'm really sorry his cancer has metastasised, not the least because, at 94 years of age, he still has so much to do in the world. Without rating him with the likes of Lincoln, Adams, or Washington, I think history will be kinder to him than GRRM is. There have been many less stellar presidents of the USA, and coming between one of the worst and the one that gave the Republicans the idea that the ideal background for a winning presidential candidate was an elderly racist entertainer (and hey, who am I to disagree - they won the vote), the Carter administration was at least a breath of sanity. The best thing his administration gave the world - APRAnet/the Internet. I know the guys that wrote it were already working on it in the Nixon era, and that Eisenhower started the agency. One might say Carter's main role in bringing it about was only to cut back non-core projects so hard that this particular technology migrated into academia and Berkeley along with it's principle people, and leaked into the academic and commercial world from there. But I'd counter that the Carter administration made sure publicly funded projects were accessible to the public in a way that seems almost unimaginable now (especially projects originating under the banner of the Department of Defence.) I don't think the internet would be the freely accessible, chaotic, semi-democratic chronically open and insecure thing it is, if it had happened under any other administration of the 20th century. Not that it is likely to stay that way, since 9/11 the days of the open internet are numbered. Still, Bobby B didn't seem to give a toss about transparent governance, and apart from Ned, no-one on his council seemed inclined to ensure the people of the Seven Kingdoms got any benefit from or access to the government projects they paid for. Really, Carter reminds me more of Quentyn Martell. Not at all flashy, not likely to catch the voter's eye or appeal to them when there were more charismatic contenders. He was mud, cooling the fever, nurturing and nourishing where fire could only consume... although, now I remember (I first visited the USA in the lead up to the 1980 election - interesting times) it was really hot that summer, and even that fall, so probably not the best analogy - especially considering Quentyn Martell's ultimate fate. If I had to draw an ASoIaF analogy, I'd say Carter sometimes came across like Doran Martell, who seemed to be doing nothing about situations that were out of control around him - but who actually put a lot of time and energy doing apparently nothing or on schemes that come to nothing because of fate, or being too little too late, or ineffably subtle. But really George, Bobby B? There is this difference between Robert Baratheon and Jimmy Carter, too : Jimmy Carter was an honest man and ran an honest administration as well as a frugal one. Robert Baratheon was a wife-bashing bruiser who just wanted to drink, whore and fight. I'm not at all sure he was a good man, although he did his best to be a good king in spite of his personal preferences. And I'm not sure he did that badly at kinging, in retrospect, even if he couldn't look his best friend in the eye and his administration was corrupt and nepotic. TL:DR Hard to think of two rulers less alike than Jimmy Carter and Robert Baratheon.
  20. Walda


    From the examples @oakbloodthesap gave, I would suppose out of universe, but that is no fun
  21. Walda


    Tyrion Lannister. In battle. It is hard to tell if GRRM over-rates him, or if it is just that he over-rates himself (our most detailed accounts of his battles come uncorroborated from his point of view). I suspect it is a bit of both. It starts in his fourth chapter, where he finds himself armed with an unfamiliar weapon, against an ambush force of superior numbers. We know from at least Tyrion III AGoT, when he attacked Ser Aliser with a crab-fork, that Tyrion is fearless beyond wisdom (later, when Jaime and Cersei get their own points of view, we realise this is a family trait - although Tywin doesn't share it) - so it begins plausibly enough, although its a bit nauseating the way his valour is set off against Marillion's cowardice, which is at least partly explained by Marillion having and being offered no weapon at all. (AGoT, Ch.31 Tyrion IV) He might be small, but he is armed, he is bold, he is lucky. He was also, we supposed, trained in arms at Casterly Rock, and at least sometimes by no less a man of arms than Jaime Lannister. But then (AGoT, Ch.31 Tyrion IV) Catelyn screams...hmm. Catelyn is not an obvious damsel in distress, and that ducking under the sword move is something more than lucky. When the battle ends, he has four confirmed kills. Apparently, as many as the battle-hardened knights and sell-swords - or less, if the man Chiggen slashed across the face was Tyrion's second kill. Tyrion notices the scythe both before and after the fight- before as a powerful weapon, and after as a farm implement desperately fashioned into a weapon. He walks away from this one with cramped legs. On the Green Fork, he gets a minor command in a proper battle. (AGoT,Ch.62 Tyrion VIII) Again, Tyrion kills four (possibly five - if the northern horseman that fell off his horse, died of the fall). Again, there is some luck (the helmet spike), but also, Tyrion beats one mano-a-mano - the tall man 'that Tyrion soon realised was quicker and stronger than he was' (he is a sharp one, that Tyrion), the one that chopped at him repeatedly, and dinged him over the head, and still failed to unhorse him or kill him. At the end of the battle, he has a smashed elbow and a dead horse. Then he leads the sorty to the Mud Gate at King's Landing. At least 8 kills, probably more than 12. Particularly implausible, the man-at-arms with the dagger. Almost as unlikely as Tyrion's leap onto the bridge of ships, or the man he upended into the river, while armed with a broken spear. And his injury tally - a numbed shoulder, an arrow in (apparently) the same. His horse he killed himself (was there some blood-magic in the process that gave him superhuman strength, or protected his life? Does he have to do battle every time his mount is killed?) Ser Mandon was on his side (his bodyguard, no less). It could be that Tyrion imagines his role in the war to be much more valorous and essential than it actually is. Tywin corrected him after the battle, when Tyrion claims he saved King's Landing (ASoS, Ch.04 Tyrion I) Tywin is practically the only person other than Tyrion himself to note his performance in battle. In both the Green Fork and King's Landing, he calmly acknowledges Tyrion did his duty in a way that exceeded expectation - but Tyrion seems to require something more rapturous than that. Tyrion assisted Cersei with the fortifications of King's Landing, and the wildfire was her idea - although his canny deployment of it was key to it's success. Tyrion's sorty prevented Stannis' forces setting foot inside the city, but it was the attack of the Tyrell vanguard, which he saw signs of even while the battle raged on the tourney ground, that made sure Stannis' men could not overrun the city, even if a few had managed to ram through the gate. Tyrion is especially grudging to Mace Tyrell - denying him his decisive victory as Lord Tywin's vanguard, and granting Mace just one 'indecisive victory', eighteen years ago, and even attributing that win to his vanguard, Tarly. Perhaps because to do otherwise would be to cede his claim as the hero of King's Landing to Mace and his sons, and King Renly. Mace for his part is handsome about Tyrion's chain. Ser Garlan (aka 'King Renly') credits him not just for the chain but the wildfire, and also for his command of the Wildlings, and their assiduous slaying of all Stannis' scouts, as crucial to Lord Tywin's victory. Tywin does this too, but Garlan's praise, delivered on a public dais, in front of their wives, unasked, was quite as rapturous as Tyrion would like. I notice how little inclined Tyrion is to take the credit of his wildling vanguard. He is resentful on Chella's behalf when his father's men run her off and the King's Landers pelt her and the black-ears with dung, but that is as far as it goes. Lancel also seems to recognise Tyrion's ability, although he didn't see him in the field. Although, it is no secret that Tyrion was in the field. Even Sansa knows of the terrible wound that Tyrion has taken to the face, and his being found on the battleground, but nobody gives him credit for valor at arms. One could almost suppose they thought him a fool for leading out a needless sorty, when simply keeping the dog at the gate would have been enough to dispel the men on the tourney ground. (Although, neither Tyrion nor anyone in King's Landing knew that at the time.) If Tyrion was really so able in battle, one would think someone might have noticed? As the imp, he is the kind of person people do notice. As battle is an activity that brings rewards based on the number of kills, knights tend to take care to count them, and take note of who killed whom. Surely Ser Balon, Ser Gregor, Ser Aeyns, Ser Aron, Bronn - someone would have noticed Tyrion's spectacular efforts, apart from his squire? From the look of it, this is all building up to Tyrion doing a frankly impossible amount of carnage in the Battle of Meereen. Not to mention, Tyrion has killed a lot more people than, say, Arya or Cersei, with far less cause or conscience. We haven't seen Jaime in battle, but what we know of him suggests he had, in his many acts of fealty and betrayal, killed more and assassinated more, with less damage to his person than his younger brother. On the other hand, Jaime has the height, the strength, he was a squire, fought some of the toughest outlaws while a squire, then a knight, then a knight of the Kingsguard. He lead hosts into battle, he won tourneys, he was a career fighter, not a three-foot amateur with minimal training in arms, who needs a special saddle just to stay on his horse.
  22. Walda

    Poll: Answer 10 mysteries of asoiaf

    Could you give me a bit of detail eg. When they were swapped? What about all the Mudd imagery around Frog? and where does Young Griff getting his platinum hair and violet eyes, so unlike his father's and mother's? It is even more baffling to me that Illyrio and Varys would go to such trouble to keep Quentyn in hiding, with Griff, who knew Prince Rhaegar, than that they went to so much trouble to keep Aegon and yet were so casual and frankly negligent when it came to Viserys and Dany, sheltering them only when they were absolutely beggared, and letting them wear out their welcome at the high tables of all the Free Cities for a half dozen years, or a decade, before inviting them to Pentos. How did he get from King's Landing to the ship? Where were the lions? Did Myrcella die with both ears intact? Or was she killed by Doran? Wouldn't Balon Swann notice the difference? Trystane? Thoroughly confused now. Do you mean fAegon is still alive, or do you mean 'Frog' of the Windblown is still alive? If the latter, who was the poor sap Missandei nursed to death?
  23. Walda

    Why do you all hate Sansa Stark?

    Absolutely agree. The first mentions of Sansa are through her parent's eyes, and Jon's. She is 'charmed and gracious', 'radiant', 'only eleven', 'might someday be queen', 'would shine in the south'. We don't actually see her onstage at this point (or rather, just a glimpse of her, as she walks to the dais on Joffrey's arm). Then we get to Arya's point of view: (AGoT, Ch. Arya I) Arya is the poor honey that gets unfairly compared to the popular, perfect girl with the fine, delicate hands. The problem isn't that everyone including Arya judges Sansa on her appearance rather than her performance, even in the trivialised 'womanly arts'. (I say trivialised, because Arya is the only point of view that actually mentions needlework, which she hates because she would rather fight. This isn't the kind of novel where we see women busily sewing clothes before children outgrow them, or before men march off to battle with them, or winter comes. It is the kind of novel where women only do the laundry in order to chat at the well. But we do see boys training in the yard with sword and lance as a matter of course. It is clear that the work of ladies of Winterfell do is mostly decorative, and that Arya is not content to be purely ornamental, like Sansa.) We learn pretty early that the problem is Sansa cares more about society than her family (AGoT, Ch. Arya I) Milkshake duck. Sansa isn't beautiful after all. At that point in the narrative, Sansa is still a stranger to us. We have already met Jon. We know from Bran's first chapter that Jon is intelligent, kind, helpful, protective of his younger brother, a natural leader, quietly observant, a bit out of the ordinary. We have seen him from inside his own skin, and know his angst isn't jealousy, but something more serious, a need to make something of himself, combined with a life-long oppression imposed upon him principally by Catelyn, legitimated by ugly 'southern' societal norms that Sansa is too ready to substitute for common (Northern) decency. (I say 'southern' here, because at this point we have been told Catelyn and her attitude towards bastards, is of the south, and she regards Eddard's attitude towards Jon, as one of his strange Northern quirks. Much later we learn that Bolton's bastard only came to the Dreadfort after his legitimate son had died, and Lord Hornwood's bastard lived with the Glovers. Also that bastards are not shunned in Dornish society. But in Game of Thrones this is presented to us as a societal difference between Winterfell and King's Landing, Eddard and Catelyn, husbands and wives, men and women.) On behalf of the reader, Arya points out indignantly that Jon is family. Sansa smugly corrects this to "our half-brother" , and flat out lies “Arya and I were remarking on how pleased we were to have the princess with us today,” when the septa wants to know why they are arguing. Arya adds another item to our inventory of Sansa before she flees to Jon's protection - Sansa is good at sewing and dancing and music, but she can't do the math. In Jon's second chapter we learn that Arya and Jon have a private joke 'Don't tell Sansa', implying that they know Sansa as a spoil-sport and a dob artist. It isn't until the two girls have reached the South, below the neck, that the reader gets to see Sansa from her own point of view. We learn Sansa is wilful, takes it for granted that it is one rule for her and another for Arya. That the little snob wants nothing so much as to fawn over royalty and do her best to wheedle her way into the affections of a prince that we have already seen (through Arya's eyes) is a cowardly and pretentious little turd. Sansa has no appreciation of nature, and is ignorant of history, except in so far as 'history' means knowing the sigils of the most prestigious houses and which is more important that which. When they argue, all the reason is on Arya's side of the argument, Sansa must make do with a sense of superiority, mixed with attempts to shame Arya by expressing how appalled and embarrassed she is to have a younger sister like her. When it comes to ignorance, she is quick to decide that women who live in bogs are ignorant, and Arya with them. She doesn't like associating with people of low birth, or of uncertain birth. She claims they smell, just looking at them makes her feel sick. (AGoT, Ch.15 Sansa I) Arya and Jon are not inclined to reject their family, the way Sansa would like to. At the wall, Jon can bring himself to miss Sansa, even though he has nothing more endearing to remember her by than that she (AGoT, Ch.19 Jon III ) At the time, we did not know that GRRM was building up to a time when Alayne would be a bastard. This was how the character was introduced to us. Apart from ignorant misjudgements of everyone and everything, and being vain, and revering rank, (AGoT, Ch.15 Sansa I) Unlike Arya's point of view, Sansa's chapters have lines like this, exposition, in the third person, but not in the voice of an eleven year old girl. Rather, in the voice of a narrator who doesn't care enough to specify the 'things' prissy little girls regard as 'nice and pretty' and care so much about. At lines like this I'm always pushing away a vision of an old fat man in a pink tutu with a silver wand, turning clumsy fouettes and singing 'la la la, I'm a blushing young maid'. In both Sansa and Daenarys's point of view, there is this kind of conniving thing in the narrative, like the author is assuming the reader is cliché of a heterosexual teenage boy who will strongly identify with Jon and Arya, and who isn't going to be interested in the details of what a mere sex object like Sansa thinks and feels, because she obviously isn't interested in nice guys and is so stupid and serve her right. There is nothing sympathetic in the way her feelings and thoughts are presented in her first chapter. After we have had our patience tried with Sansa's idiotic arguments and disappointments, she takes fright at the look of Illyn Payne, and trembles like a leaf, enabling Joffrey to 'rescue' her from this entirely imaginary crisis (at his mother's instruction) . When the queen further instructs them to spend some time together, Joffrey decides they could go riding, and Sansa decided on the spot that she really loves riding, in spite of what she said to Arya earlier. They then set off on what looks a lot to me like a premeditated date-rape attempt on Joffrey's part (no Hound to watch them, a sword, a lot of summerwine, find a secluded spot by the river) but Arya spoils everything by being sensible enough to know a real threat when she sees one and to fight back against a cowardly bully rather than do what he says. So Joffrey reveals his sadistic true colours by attacking a boy without a weapon who he knows could be executed if he raised a hand against him. When he is beaten by Arya and Nymeria, he reveals his genuine contempt for Sansa also, but in the next chapter we see she prefers to keep her pretty illusions and dreams of becoming queen, lying to the King, again thinking it is one rule for her and another for Arya, that it is 'only' Arya and Nymeria who are facing the King's justice. Sansa isn't haunted by the fact that Mycha is killed by the Hound for his part in the affair. It seems she isn't even aware that this has happened. But she feels the full injustice of her wolf dying for Arya's wolf's actions. We are given reason after reason to despise Sansa in Game of Thrones. For the sake of being Joffrey's queen, she betrays her own family, leading to her father's dishonourable confession and execution. She only starts earning reader sympathy (well, writer sympathy, really) in Clash of Kings, by being imprisoned, and beaten, and threatened with sexual assault by the boy who killed her father. It is not quite enough sympathy for us to feel any concern or pity for her when grown men like the Hound and later Tyrion threaten her with sexual assault. Cos that is what it is really, when some guy twice her age strips naked in front of an almost-thirteen year old that he claims is still a child, and demands she do the same, and look at his erection, and cops a feel of her boob before heading off to the sofa. It is also assault when a twenty-something year old guy lurks in the darkened bedroom of a twelve year old. We know he really is intending to lurk not just because he is in her bed, but because he does not give her any inkling he is in her room until she retreats to the safety of it, whimpering for her dead wolf. Also because, instead of saying something like "Hello Sansa", he grabs her, gags her and threatens to kill her, before mocking her for being frightened of everything and demanding she look him in the face. And sing for him. At knife-point. It is hard to tell if he intended to rape her but thought better of it at the last minute, or if he was going to offer to take her with him, or take her hostage, or just say goodbye. Both these chapters are written ostensibly from Sansa's point of view, but they are written with a great deal of sympathy for the male in question, and not much for her at all. There are even readers who regard Sansa as a bitch for not putting out for Tyrion on their wedding night, seeing as he treated her comparatively decently, given he would have been in his rights to rape her, like he wanted to, and had been told to. Or that see the unkiss as a complete justification for the creepy criminal behaviour the Hound displayed up to that point, and terribly romantic. So I guess these scenes were intended more to elicit reader interest in what is going to happen to her rather than concern for what Sansa thinks or feels. But I think her discovery that Cersei wasn't kind or good, and Prince Joffrey wasn't charming, goes a long way to making her more likeable to her readers generally. As long as her turncloak ways, her underhand treachery and lies, are being employed against her Lannister and Baelish foster-families, she becomes human and likeable. She might not be a realistic depiction of a thirteen year old, but she is a complex, interesting, layered and very well written character.
  24. Littlefinger knew enough about Mace to know he would be willing to scheme secretly to advance his own power. He knew the close bond that develops between a squire and the knight he served. He would not have known at the time how strong that bond would become in Renly's and Loras' case, but he knew that Renly was the king's brother, and Loras was Mace's son, and as Petyr has a bold personality, he would be reasonably confident that he could manipulate these smaller fish (one only just past childhood, the other still a child) to manipulate their more powerful elders. The plot to put Cersei aside and have King Robert wed Margaery might have been a ruse, an idea that he put into Renly's head, that would get Margaery to King's Landing, where she had the prospect of marrying whomever happened to be the King. That was what Mace wanted, a stake in the Iron Throne. The plot to kill Robert might not have been decided until after Robert had left for Winterfell, to invite Eddard to be Hand, and Petyr had reached some kind of rapprochement or understanding with Lord Tywin, who would naturally have expected Robert to appoint either himself or Jaime to that position. The original plan was that Margaery would replace Cersei, reducing Lannister influence. By the time Varys starts talking of plans of regicide, its been revised so it is all about increasing Lannister influence, with Joffrey on the throne, and the Starks making ridiculous and poorly supported claims of regicide and blaming the Lannisters for everything and anything, until they wiped themselves out with their own stupidity. Varys might not have wanted the direwolf and the lion at each other's throats at the time, but Petyr Baelish was actively stirring that pot, reminding Eddard of Tywin's child-killing ways, and stirring up the irascible, irrational Tullys. Although, Petyr might have preferred to have Eddard as regent rather than Cersei - Sansa stuffed that up for him, and before then we see Petyr doing many 'favours' for Eddard, to 'help' him uncover the secret Jon Arryn had died over. We only see him doing 'favours' for Cersei later (eg. organising Slynt's 'overthrow' of Eddard for her, getting 'Tyrion's Whore' Alayaya etc.) I'm not claiming Petyr Baelish and Mace were friends (although that is possible - Mace is actually pretty sneaky). I am claiming that Petyr's trade interests give him insight into the extent of Mace's wealth and power, and ambition, an insight that others might miss, because Mace is pretty subtle and doesn't stick his neck out. I am also claiming that Petyr has made connections - that Mace knew Petyr as a trusted as a 'fixer' for the Tyrell interest, years before Bitterbridge. I think Petyr's direct contacts are more likely to be Paxter Redwyne (Mace's oldest friend) and Loras (Mace's favourite child) rather than Mace himself. And that Petyr must have been laughing all the way to Bitterbridge, as he had winkled the carte blanche and gold and horses and his small host (that I strongly suspect included at least a few Renly-loyalists that had remained in King's Landing after Renly left, remembering Renly had offered Eddard Stark a hundred swords but had left with only fifty - a claim Renly was not ashamed to make to Eddard Stark's widow. Although Renly does push his claims - like when he through Barristan's name in the mix as one that would support his claim over Stannis's, and I wouldn't put it past him to have ordered his army to make double the usual number of cookfires the night of Lord Caswell's feast. But he isn't a shameless liar like Baelish, and it is quite possible when he offered Eddard a hundred swords, he had that many to offer.) Probably the most important thing the Lannisters gave him was one of Lord Redwyne's sons. I strongly suspect that he had already done deals with the Tyrells that included getting Lord Redwyne's sons and the Renly loyalists in King's landing to them. Also, I suspect, just from the time-frames and his not-dusty boots, that while Petyr was seen by the last of Lord Varys's spies to be galloping off in the direction of the Rose Road, that as soon as they were out of sight of King's Landing, they turned into a cove where the Rose Road met the Storm's End road, and went around by sea, first to the Arbor, and then up the Mander to Highgarden, and only then up to Bitterbridge by the Rose Road. I'm guessing that the Lords were paid in honour, lands and titles after the battle, and to a much lesser extent than Cersei and Tyrion supposed with the gold. As Petyr pointed out, Lords take it ill when you offer them coin, like tradesmen. And he had probably offered to marry Margaery to the King already. Even if he had not, he knew this is what Mace would fight for, and he just needed to assure Mace he truly had the authority to arrange the match and it really would happen this time. Of course, other people have their own schemes and plans. Eddard, for example, was going to work out who killed Jon Arryn and why, and was going to make sure the King did not waste money on a foolish tourney supposedly to honour him. People have their own predilections, too. Like Gregor, who would ride a war horse to a joust, and always bought stallions. And Loras, who swapped his white stallion for a grey mare fortuitously on heat that day. I'm not sure if Petyr sold horses personally, but I'm guessing he knew horse traders. As to why Petyr would have so many plans - why he would be attempting to frame Jorah for the murder of Daenarys, why he brought Ned Stark the three people from Jon Arryn's household in order to lead him to Gendry and Chataya's. Why he needed to go to Pentos for wedding-dwarves in order to poison Joffrey, why he didn't get rid of Marillion, what it serves him to marry Alyane to Harrold Hardyng ... I don't know. It adds a layer of underhand intrigue to the story, keeps you guessing. But he does seem to be excessively involved in everything, and never more so than when he isn't there. His story is no more preposterous than the idea that Varys and Illyrio have been working to bring about a Blackfyre revolution for the last eighteen years, and that one is also well supported by the clues in the book. It's not more convoluted and perverse than Doran's plan to send Quentyn to marry Daenarys because Viserys was going to marry Arianne. If you want to explore pointlessly subtle and convoluted plans so deep nobody can really see what they add to the narrative, Petyr yields to Doran. Although the plans are made much more explicit with Doran, probably because they have to be - GRRM spends a lot of Eddard's time in King's Landing sleuthing around clumsily and getting nowhere, but we don't know he is getting nowhere, and it is only towards the end of his arc that we learn that Petyr Baelish wasn't on his side. Then, in Clash of Kings, little clues to the 'mystery' of the first book keep leaking out and pointing to Petyr. Plus, more stuff is happening. Like the Purple Wedding, that is written in a way that invites the reader to have a guess at what was really going on. And then we have 'only Cat'. So I would say, Petyr's cunning plans adds suspense to the narrative, and mystery, and another layer of complexity. Every time you think another character did something (eg. especially Cersei), especially when Petyr wasn't there, you have to ask yourself if there is anything to suggest he set it up. And there always is. Now Tywin has gone, he is the letter-writing mastermind with the far-flung contacts and Xanatos speed chess moves. I'm guessing his many schemes and the way he so needlessly drags Tyrion into them, are all building up to his big come-uppance. Which most likely a showdown between Tyrion and Petyr Baelish in Winds of Winter.