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  1. Seems likely that Stannis was ordered to take Dragonstone. Given what we know about Robert, it's highly unlikely he would have (a) wanted to kill children, or (b) wanted to order anyone to. I'm not sure our perspective on this (Tywin) should be wrong. And nothing we've seen in Stannis' character indicates that he's interested in killing children. He's willing to sacrifice Edric for a greater good, but that isn't the same thing. Even GRRM says that Stannis is a righteous man. Ned Stark may object to killing on general principal, but Stannis at least will require something more than expediency to kill a child. My guess is that Daenerys gets made a Silent Sister, under heavy guard, and Viserys would have gone to the Night's Watch and have been equally closely monitored
  2. Edmure raises a host in response to an invasion of his lands; moreover, his father is mentally incapacitated. Robb raises a host to liberate his father from the grip of a tyrannical monarchy; his own father is likewise incapacitated. Tytos Lannister has his wits about him; Tywin is raising troops against his lord's wishes and in order to pursue ends his father explicitly does not condone. How is that so hard to understand? You seem to have this assumption that Westeros is an absolute monarchy where the lords (and theoretically smallfolk) have no rights whatsoever, and owe their lives and freedoms to the person up the feudal food chain. This isn't the case. We see Tywin, in rapid succession, demand repayment of loans that aren't due to him, imprison innocent petitioners who protest this, and demand the capture and imprisonment of anyone who disagrees. This is extremely similar to the circumstances around Robert's Rebellion, with the only difference being Tytos doesn't go full-Aerys and allow his son to dismember Walderan Tarbeck. Mind you, those lords have their loans forgiven in the interim, so no crimes are committed and no further monies are owed. This is common sense, and as we see in Robert's Rebellion, these kinds of actions are seen as voiding the feudal contract. By a pyromaniac madman... that doesn't seem to support your point much. And for the record, Tytos effectively does call it illegal. He explicitly forgives the debts of the Tarbecks, which is an open rebuke to Tywin, and then refuses to endorse Tywin's actions. The fact that he is then presented with a fait accompli, because there are no Reynes or Tarbecks left, is not the same as forgiving or endorsing it. All of the evidence we have suggests that Tytos does not approve, and because this is relevant to the evidence we have, lets mention the source. The World of Ice and Fire is ostensibly written by Maester Yandal, to Tommen, Tywin's grandson. Of course it will refuse to condemn Tywin for his crimes - from a Watsonian perspective this is a given and needs to be accounted for. Well, I won't disagree with this; this is a fact. It's the motives that matter. The Reynes and Tarbecks are justified in their rebellion, just the same as Eddard and Robert and Jon Arryn are. They're dealing with a counterparty who isn't acting in good faith, who is disregarding the rules and norms of their society and expecting compliance with no legal basis. Well this seems to be you claiming that he's a "more than savvy" politician. Perhaps that doesn't rise to the level of genius, but still, most of the evidence we have is that Tywin Lannister wins by either acting contrary to the norms of his society and hoping to get away with it, or by authorial fiat. If the needs of the story didn't dictate Robert dying, in an unrelated manner, at exactly the moment Tywin initiates the WOT5K, he'd have been slaughtered when he invaded the Riverlands. This is not at all the same thing. In the case of the Hornwood lands, the players involved are at least going through the motions. People go to Winterfell to petition the Starks for the right to marry Donella Hornwood, they don't just show up and murder everyone and assert that it's theirs. And the one guy who does do that is explicitly shown to not only be among the most evil, immoral characters in the series (Ramsay), it doesn't work! No one respects the fact of his forced sham marriage to take the Hornwood lands (which has some precedent in medieval history, and you'll note is again an action within the theoretical confines of "how things work"), and as a result Ramsay doesn't even have control; the Manderlys step in to keep him from getting away with it until a permanent settlement can be made, and Ramsay is hunted down like a criminal! This cannot be stressed enough. Yes, the Boltons are "getting away with it" through obvious subterfuge and force of arms, but from a moral sense, no one is buying it and they are considered to have done something illegal and worthy of punishment. This can't be stressed enough. Force of arms is all well and good, but we see in the Hornwood case that ignoring the legal rights and precedents involved means being attainted a criminal, not a "more than savvy" guy, and Ramsay doesn't even act as horrifically as Tywin does. We have no evidence that his peers don't consider it horrific. What we know are what the normal responses to those situations are. We know Robert is widely loved for his mercy, and Stannis disliked because of his perceived lack of same. The very fact that most Houses have a history that stretches back thousands of years means that full-sale eradication of noble lineages is intensely frowned upon. Especially when you consider that Tywin has no legal authority to be enforcing or precipitating those decisions; he is not a lord except by courtesy, and his father is in full control of his faculties - Tywin is in open rebellion against House Lannister as well. House Lannister is losing members left and right. And while foreshadowing isn't evidence, it seems obvious to any reader that the ranks of the Lannisters are going to be further culled by the Red Wedding 2.0 and Cersei's folly. And his children are doomed precisely because they are attempting to think as Tywin does. You think Cersei is in trouble because the kids aren't Robert's? Right now, Tommen and Joffrey before him should have had an unassailable position as king - with Stannis beaten on the Blackwater, and the Boltons in their camp, the Iron Throne should be in an unbeatable position. Cersei is letting a winning hand slip through her fingers precisely because she is acting like Tywin. She is internalizing the lesson Tywin Lannister left his children; that Lannisters are worth more, than everyone else is a species of sub-human. Hell, look at what is going on within the family. Kevan will only support Cersei if she leaves the capitol. The whole realm is plunged into a destructive war on the eve of the apocalypse because Tywin got in a snit that he was "insulted". His body literally rots on it's funeral bier, a pretty glaring example of authorial condemnation - Tywin's funeral is surrounded by the full pomp and circumstance of everything he sought in life; a Lannister king, to be buried in full Lannister regalia, etc, and yet the stench of his rotting body, an obvious analogue for his rotting legacy, drives his own son from the room retching. And the regime he built is likewise collapsing, as grasping allies try their best to wrench what they can from what he's left behind By contract, Ned Stark has multiple factions fighting at great personal risk to avenge him and place his descendants in their rightful place of power. If you aren't understanding this, then you've missed the entire thematic point of Feast for Crows. Tywin ruled through fear and ruthlessness, and so everything he worked for in life and achieved through those means is lost and more by his successors. Ned Stark ruled through love and a kind of benevolent paternalism, and so his legacy is being fought for by people who might otherwise take the opportunity to seize more power for themselves.
  3. Kind of a weird map. Is it supposed to be in terms of climate? Politics? Qohor is noted to be in the middle of a vast forest, and they have it in Iraq, which is in the middle of one of the most notoriously tree-less areas in the world. The Vale seems like a perfect Switzerland analogy, not the Carpathians, which weren't particularly defensible. England seems to be a Stormlands analogue (wet and rainy, strong medieval culture, history of assimilating foreign "barbarians" like the Angles and Saxons, then the Normans). And the Iron Islands couldn't be more obviously based on the Vikings, right? Pirate/raider culture in which small warbands go off, steal movable property and slaves, and then return home to a culture built around subsistence farming and access to the ocean?
  4. It's also worth pointing out that cunning implies working within a system, whereas Tywin consistently engages in norm-violating behavior. Basically everything he does during the conflict with the Reynes and Tarbecks is either illegal (i.e. raising his own armies and pursuing his own form of unsanctioned "justice", also known as being a brigand) or so far beyond the pale of what his society considers normal behavior (eradicating an entire House for basically not paying back a loan) that his contemporaries probably aren't prepared to deal with just how far he's willing to go. Which again, is the point of Tywin Lannister's story. He's not a genius, he's not a savvy politician, he's a person who thinks he's above things like "laws" and "traditions," and because of that attitude everything he's built on the back of murder and taboo-breaking will boomerang home and ruin the legacy he wanted to leave. Yes, he crushed the Reynes and Tarbecks because he was willing to do things his peers considered horrific, but at the end of the day the very fact that he was that ruthless, that very attitude, is going to result in the destruction of his family.
  5. Qarkash is not that close to Qarth. Again, eyeballing it, but it seems to be about the same distance as White Harbor is from Barrowton - that's hardly a suburb, and presumably is much smaller than Qarth despite having a surrounding arable area of roughly the same size (if we assume the Red Waste is about equally close to the coast in both cases). It isn't stated one way or another. All we know is that when the Tyrells close the Roseroad, the city starves. Not "has to begin rationing" but is actively starving. It's said the the food supplies coming in from Stokeworth and Rosby are the only thing that has allowed the city to have any food at all, really. Since the city could be importing food from the Crownlands to alleviate the problem, it means the Crownlands cannot deal with the magnitude of the issue on their own. While merchants and other commoners might hoard food, we know that the nobility don't like to. Lord Belmore is explicit that when prices are fair, the nobility feels obligated to sell. They aren't (Littlefinger excepted) interested in price gouging. If Houses other than Stokeworth and Rosby had food to sell, they've already done so, and KL is still facing famine conditions. Actually the lands of the Yronwoods are south of the Red Mountains, as I recall, but point taken. That being said, you have some small mountain valleys that are fertile (Vale of Arryn is a good example), but really that is the only one. And the Vale of Arryn is BIG. Uniquely large, in fact. We have no indication that the other Houses that in mountains, like the Fowlers or Wyls, are particularly wealthy. Except that the lands surrounding the Free Cities are either stated or assumed to be arable, whereas in the case of Qarth it's exactly the opposite. The only certain information we have is that there is a huge arid desert nearby. It is implied that Qarth controls lands on Great Moraq, which I think we can safely assume to be owned in the kind of manner that Ghiscari land is owned, and thus produces even more of a surplus than Westerosi peasants do. By which I mean, barely fed slaves on industrial latifundia type estates. But again, transport is the issue here, not fertility. What makes you say that? You have to load and unload wares. You have to bring those foodstuffs to the dock. Even if we assume all this food is coming from Great Moraq, you still need an approximately equal sized hinterland of agricultural estates on the island as would feed Kings Landing. So it's not "a day or less". It's an additional day plus all the other time it takes. Rght... but Qarth doesn't own any of those goods? You have independent merchants doing all this. Many of them are Qartheen, presumably, but not all... so at the end of the day Qarth is merely taxing the existing trade, not "controlling it". As in, we have no indication that one needs Qartheen permission to trade in the East, or needs to apply for a pilot or a license to navigate the Saffron Straits. Corlys Velaryon's journey indicates that Qarth profits off being the entrepot of the East, but hasn't established a monopoly on it. I mean... this isn't how it works? Look at ancient Rome. The Senate was overwhelmingly patrician for most of its history, most especially under the Republic. Even when patricians were poorer and less accomplished than their equestrian counterparts, they still managed to do as well or better in elections and in controlling the ship of state. Even hyper wealthy or talented equestrians had an extraordinarily difficult time breaking in to the social elite. Being in the Senate meant it was illegal to engage in trade. Just because the merchant princes of Qarth are wealthier than their noble counterparts, doesn't mean that that power is for sale. Or even that those merchants want that power. I think, all other things being equal, we have to assume we know the outlines of the power structure in Qarth. In any case it makes sense. You have a quasi-noble political elite that runs the city and commands the armed forces. You have a hyper-wealthy and more socially mobile mercantile power bloc, and finally a quasi-religious and formerly magical faction of Warlocks who have prestige but no power. Every one of those factions has what it wants and has no cause to upset the applecart - there isn't room for another power bloc. Any additional mercantile interest will be co-opted or bankrupted by the existing commercial elite. A nobility based on blood is by it's definition impossible to break into, and the merchants won't allow it because it might allow the Pureborn the financial resources to edge them out. The warlocks are living on former glory and won't bother anyone, because to do so would remind everyone of how little influence they have compared to when their magic was stronger. And the Pureborn get the glory and prestige of running and protecting the city without having to dirty their hands in trade. There is literally no evidence that the Crownlands can feed Kings Landing. Quite the opposite. As I said, privation begins and ends with the opening of the Roseroad. The obvious inference is that food supplies from the Reach are critical to feeding the city. Sure... but we cannot prove a negative. All we know is that when the Reach cuts off exports, Kings Landing starves. And in Qarth it'll be even more pronounced. Westeros is fundamentally an agricultural society, so there isn't much else for local merchants to transport even if they wanted to. It's perishable foodstuffs or nothing, for the most part. So there isn't an opportunity cost the way there is in Qarth. Where if you have an expensive ship that is expensive to maintain, you don't want to use it to transport bulky, low cost, low margin produce. You want to load it up with cinnamon or cloves or pepper or whatever, things worth more than their weight in gold. High margin, low volume luxury goods. To have a ship sitting around making a measly 2-3% return on making the run to Great Moraq for vegetables and meats, and going in ballast in one direction, when it could be making 200-300% returns shipping spices or silks to the Free Cities, is economic suicide. My point being, yes, Qarth may have the shipping tonnage necessary to feed a city of a million people, but only if those ships are doing nothing else. As you say, these are hyper wealthy merchants. They didn't get that way by being financially illiterate. They can't be that wealthy if they're shipping food while their competitors are shipping high value goods.
  6. Our maps show that the Red Waste has come effectively to the limits of the city. Obviously that isn't accurate down to the mile or anything, but it's reasonably to assume that there is little to no fertile hinterland. Consider that the Crowlands are insufficient to feed both Kings Landing and Tywin's army (so a little over half a million people in total); considerable help is needed from supplies coming up the Rose Road. Anything in the foothills of mountains as inhospitable as the Bones are unlikely to be particularly fertile. The point being that shipping in that quantity of food, at that time period, isn't likely. Produce and uncured meat spoil on long journeys; sailors ate mostly hardtack and salted beef. It's just not logistically feasible to be shipping in large quantities of fresh food, because of the time it would take to be shipped but also because those are low value goods and any merchant prince worth the name is going to be employing those valuable, hugely capital-intensive assets to engage in more lucrative long distance trade. They don't control it. They can tax it, but that isn't the same thing. Yes, the wealth of the Qartheen is bound up in ships and not land. I get it. I'm not saying your average lord in Westeros is as wealthy as a Qartheen merchant prince, but they are wealthy, it's just that that wealth is bound up in the land, in their castles, in the expensive acts of noblesse oblige they must perform. For example, the Cinque Ports provided ~60 ships in lieu of knights/squires/levies, and that isn't a particularly large area of England. Obviously I'm assuming a lot here, but that area makes up only a portion of the Earldom of Kent, which was neither particularly small nor particularly large/important in medieval England. In other words, it's not crazy that a middlingly powerful Westerosi lord might be perfectly capable of raising as many ships as Xaro Xoan Daxos, if only Westeros' wealth was bound up in movable transport and not land and manors. I am not saying that the Qartheen are poor. I'm saying that when your wealth is reliant on trade and (mostly) movable property, and your military is built on ships crewed by slaves, and geographically you are so isolated as to be impervious to attack from land, you don't need a huge population to project force. Also, there are three blocs of mercantile powers, as you say, presumably all of which are approximately equal in wealth. So XXD represents something more like 2.5% of that wealth, a substantial amount. The Pureborn are military/political leaders; their legitimacy is based on tradition and bloodline, not wealth. I'm sure they are wealthy, but not to the level of the merchants. And the warlocks are the last faction. So really there are three power blocs, and one of those has three parts. I agree that they can feed themselves. We're not arguing that. We're debating how many people live in the city. I do not think it is possible, for the reasons described above, for Qarth to be of a size with Volantis or even some of the larger (other) Free Cities. The opportunity cost for these hyper wealthy merchants to be bringing in low-value perishable food is enormous, and they're not as rich as they are because they're stupid. And that ignores the logistical issues with bringing material amounts of foodstuffs into the city via the sea. It's also a security issue. Sure, our maps could be wrong by exponential factors, and maybe the Red Waste doesn't extend that far south, but to the human eye, the Crownlands seem bigger than the potentially fertile lands around Qarth, and we know the Crownlands aren't up to the task of feeding even the relatively-modest sized city of Kings Landing.
  7. I agree that Qarth is extraordinarily wealthy, and likely has a substantial navy, but that doesn't mean it has a huge population. It's not feasible to support giant cities entirely on imports. Rome was a gigantic city in the first century, importing substantial quantities of grain, but it still also had a huge, fertile agricultural base in Campania and the rest of the Italian peninsula to draw off. I'm sure there are a several hundred thousand people living in Qarth, but to think that it's the size of Volantis or even some of the other larger Free Cities is crazy. There just isn't enough food available and it is far too expensive to ship it all in.
  8. Qarth always seemed to me to be a rich transshipment sort of city; wealthy from sitting on the only real route from east to west and getting rich off levying tolls and tariffs on traders. Doesn't seem like there is enough of a hinterland to support a huge population with the Red Waste basically on it's doorstep. Very difficult to import enough food from far away to support a city the size of, say, Volantis. But agreed that Yi Ti seems like a decent bet given the real world parallels and the (limited) in-world info
  9. Yep, I'd be thinking of towns like Selhorys. That being said I don't think there is a huge difference between "towns" and "cities" in Essos. The Free Cities are called that because of their heritage of being nominally independent of Valyria, not because they're significantly bigger than any other place. I'd bet that Braavos and Volantis have a million plus inhabitants, whereas most of the remaining Free Cities are bigger than KL but smaller than the two big boys
  10. Awful, awful episode, just like most of the episodes since Season 4. Some problems: - Jaime doesn't care about Cersei blowing up thousands of people with wildfire? Jaime?!?! The man who stained his name in order to stop that exact thing from happening, and which he still considers his finest hour? - Euron, aside from his ridiculous get-up, has 1,000 ships? How? The Iron Islands don't have many trees, and building that many ships takes a TON of time, or else everyone would have them. Where does he even get them men for it? The ironborn don't have huge armies, and many have died or fled east with "Yara" and Theon. - the really, really bad and obvious Ed Sheeran cameo. I liked that scene otherwise, but that was inexcusable shark-jumping. - The entire Sansa/Jon dynamic. The writers don't seem to understand any of the characters or themes. Being cynical and ruthless isn't a good thing; Sansa comes off as a younger Cersei, an idiot who is ignoring the end of the world in the pursuit of political power. - The ongoing overreliance on Lyanna Mormont. She's kickass... but she's a bit character, and the showrunners are using her like she's a protagonist. The entire political situation in the North is 80 kinds of stupid.
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