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Julia Martell

Prince Mud: The Quentyn Martell Reread Project

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Welcome to Prince Mud: The Quentyn Martell Reread Project.

Our goal with this reread and analysis is to examine Quentyn’s characterization and story to better understand its meaning and purpose. We’ll examine his relationships, his identity, and his view of the world.

To set the stage:

It is a dark time for DORNE.
Elia and her children’s brutal
murders have gone unavenged for
seventeen years, and Doran’s plans to have
his daughter, Arianne, become queen
were destroyed by a pot of molten gold.

In an effort to squash the LANNISTERS,
The Prince Dorne dispatched his son, Quentyn,
to seek their heart’s desire: the hand of the
Silver Queen, Daenerys TARGARYEN.
But trouble awaits; Daenerys is surrounded by enemies.
Yunkish troops are amassing, and word of the
queen’s dragons are sure to draw unwanted attention
from Dorne's enemies.

Quentyn and his trusty comrades must complete
this perilous mission in the far reaches Essos,

as the fate of Dorne rests on their shoulders...

We will be reading his material over the next six weeks or so, including material from several Daenerys and Barristan chapters. The schedule will be loosely as follows:

Week 1: The Merchant’s Man (Chebyshov)

Week 2: The Windblown (Illuminated by Fire)

Week 3: Interlude: excerpts from Daenerys VI, Daenerys VII, The Discarded Knight (Raving Stark the Mad)

Week 4: The Spurned Suitor (JonCon’s Red Beard)

Week 5: The Dragon Tamer (Hrafntýr)

Week 6: Post-Mortem: excerpts from The Queen’s Hand and implications in Westeros. (Julia Martell)

Each week, we’ll be posting a summary and analysis of the relevant chapter.

A quick shout-out and thank you to all the posters and other contributors for their hard work.

As with other reread threads. do try to keep the conversation focuses on the weekly chapter, though future and past chapter may be mentioned since, you know, this is a reread thread and we all know what’s going to happen. Don’t hesitate to share any observations, thoughts, questions, foreshadowing, symbolism, to much interesting titbits, but we ask that everyone be respectful and keep posts supported by the text, no tinfoil hat stuff here.

Related:

Trial by Folly: The Arianne Martell Reread project (tWoW spoilers)

Dornish Debates iii: Of Kings and Courts

I know we’ll give Quent a reread that befits a prince of Dorne. If it’s even half as good as Arianne’s it will be another extremely fruitful and enjoyable six weeks.

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A very heartfelt hats off to Julia Martell for organizing this! Gonna be a fun month and a half :)

Quentyn I: The Merchant’s Man
(spoiler tags for length)

Summary
Quentyn Nymeros Martell’s journey opens with an all-too apt declaration, given his arc: “Adventure stank.” Gerris Drinkwater (posing as a wine merchant) and Quentyn (his servant) are in Volantis, attempting to find a ship to take them to Meereen where Quentyn seeks Danaerys. We learn the Dornish have been there for 3 weeks without luck.

At the onset, Quentyn provides us with an unfavorable description of himself:

Quentyn cut a poor figure by comparison [to Gerris]— short-legged and stocky, thickly built, with hair the brown of new-turned earth. His forehead was too high, his jaw too square, his nose too broad.


Gerris talks to the captain of the smelly ship, who agrees to take them to Slaver’s Bay on the morrow for thrice the “usual fee.” As Gerris and Quentyn leave, Quentyn points out that the captain will probably kill them if they go aboard:


“I fear our happy voyage will be short, however. That sweet man does not mean to take us to Meereen. He was too quick to accept your offer. He’ll take thrice the usual fee, no doubt, and once he has us aboard and out of sight of land, he’ll slit our throats and take the rest of our gold as well.”



Quentyn and Drink take their hathay back to The Merchant’s House. On the ride, Gerris makes numerous suggestions for travel, all of which have some problem or risk associated with them that Quentyn is quick to point out. Drink responds that they might as well go back to Dorne, then. Quentyn realizes that Gerris isn’t taking this seriously, though keeps this thought to himself. As they near the Merchant’s House, Quentyn explains some Volantene politics to his friend, and lightly scolds him for not reading the books their maester provided.

Gerris spots a comedic dwarf show in Fishmonger’s Square, but Quentyn doesn’t want to stop. Once they reach The Merchant’s House, the men climb out of their hathay and are yelled at by four sellswords of the Windblown. After some brief unpleasantries are exchanged, the sellswords sing a song about the least veiled plot device in the series:

We are the Windblown, they sang. Blow us east to Slaver’s Bay, we’ll kill the butcher king and fuck the dragon queen.


Back in their room, Gerris and Quentyn are greeted by the giant Archibald Yronwood, who wants the group to try traveling by road rather than ship. Quentyn says that would take too long, and is willing to even risk Adventure, fearing Dany could be slain by Yunkish troops if they delay too long. The chapter ends with Gerris offering a plan to the group that is “not what you would call honorable.”

Though that is what happens in the present, throughout the day Quentyn has numerous “flashbacks,” mostly due to his guilt over his three dead companions, Cletus Yronwood, Willam Wells, and Maester Kendry:


Maester Kedry said there were five slaves for every free man in Volantis though he
had not lived long enough to verify his estimate. He had perished on the morning the corsairs swarmed aboard the Meadowlark. Quentyn lost two other friends that same day—Willam Wells with his freckles and his crooked teeth, fearless with a lance, and Cletus Yron-wood, handsome despite his lazy eye, always randy, always laughing. Cletus had been Quentyn’s dearest friend for half his life, a brother in all but blood. “Give your bride a kiss for me,” Cletus had whispered to him, just before he died.



Quentyn also flashes back to Doran instructing him on his “missions.” In addition, Quentyn continually thinks about his “beautiful” queen that waits him at the end of this road, and self-consciously reflects on his image and past experiences with women.

Analysis

Before I really dive in, I want to quickly point out the ridiculous amount of foreshadowing in the opening paragraph of this chapter:

She boasted sixty oars, a single sail, and a long lean hull that promised speed. Small, but she might serve, Quentyn thought when he saw her, but that was before he went aboard and got a good whiff of her. Pigs, was his first thought, but after a second sniff he changed his mind. Pigs had a cleaner smell. This stink was piss and rotting meat and night-soil, this was the reek of corpse flesh and weeping sores and wounds gone bad, so strong that it overwhelmed the salt air and fish smell of the harbor.

Maybe I’m grasping at straws, but I think Quentyn’s thoughts about the ship can be extrapolated to his own self-image. For his person, it would be more “plain, but he might succeed.” However, as Quentyn gets closer, he realizes this ship won’t suit their needs. Additionally, the imagery about the corpse flesh and the weeping sores seem far too similar to the grisly description Barristan provides us of Quentyn’s post Dragontamer (can we just start calling it DT now?) state.

Anyway, onto the meat of the analysis:
Quentyn’s Self-Image
On Women & Sex
Though plot-wise, not much progresses other than Gerris taking a musical queue, Quentyn’s thoughts give us great insight into the Dornish prince. Not counting Quentyn’s thought about the ship’s smell, the first thing we get from him is a glowing physical description of Gerris, with a very unfavorable comparison to himself:


Tall and fair, with blue-green eyes, sandy hair streaked by the sun, and a lean and comely body, Gerris Drinkwater had a swagger to him, a confidence bordering on arrogance. He never seemed ill at ease, and even when he did not speak the language, he had ways of making himself understood. Quentyn cut a poor figure by comparison— short-legged and stocky, thickly built, with hair the brown of new-turned earth. His forehead was too high, his jaw too square, his nose too broad. A good honest face, a girl had called it once, but you should smile more.


There are few who would argue that Gerris is an attractive and confident man, so I’ll hear no Nedbert comparisons from you lot. We also see that Quentyn immediately contextualizes his self-description with feedback he’s received from the opposite gender…feedback he reads as negative, though I’d argue the girl was trying to be kind. This is marked, as the next thought we’re privy to is:

The most beautiful woman in the world, thought Quentyn. My bride-to-be, if the gods are good. Sometimes at night he lay awake imagining her face and form, and wondering why such a woman would ever want to marry him, of all the princes in the world. I am Dorne, he told himself. She will want Dorne.


At first this thought may seem shallow, even a bit voyeuristic, but in the context of Quentyn’s self-image, it’s clear that “the most beautiful woman in the world” is not a source of excitement: she’s a source of anxiety. There’s no part of his mind that is thinking about how lucky he is, but instead focusing on his worry about why Dany should ever agree to marry him. In fact, it’s clear that Quentyn thinks of himself as obligated to do this, rather than fortunate, evidenced by his “I never asked for this” later in the chapter (which immediately followed another thought about Dany). Stop and consider that for a moment; the boy is tasked with going to find “the most beautiful woman in the world” and marry her, not only becoming king, but also providing his family (and his home) with their “hearts’ desire.” And he’s absolutely miserable.

Quentyn soon confirms that his thoughts of Dany are a source of his unease after he and Gerris pass a pillowhouse:


And how much does a whore’s love cost? Truth be told, girls made Quentyn anxious, especially the pretty ones.
When first he’d come to Yronwood, he had been smitten with Ynys, the eldest of Lord
Yronwood’s daughters. Though he never said a word about his feelings, he nursed his dreams for years… until the day she was dispatched to wed Ser Ryon Allyrion, the heir to Godsgrace. The last time he had seen her, she’d had one boy at her breast and another clinging to her skirts.

After Ynys had come the Drinkwater twins, a pair of tawny young maidens who loved hawking, hunting, climbing rocks, and making Quentyn blush. One of them had given him his first kiss, though he never knew which one. As daughters of a landed knight, the twins were too lowborn to marry, but Cletus did not think that was any reason to stop kissing them. “After you’re wed you can take one of them for a paramour. Or both, why not?” But Quentyn thought of several reasons why not, so he had done his best to avoid the twins thereafter, and there had been no second kiss.

More recently, the youngest of Lord Yronwood’s daughters had taken to following him about the castle. Gwyneth was but twelve, a small, scrawny girl whose dark eyes and brown hair set her apart in that house of blue-eyed blondes. She was clever, though, as quick with words as with her hands, and fond of telling Quentyn that he had to wait for her to flower, so she could marry him.



Though none of these girls seem to have behaved in an unkind manner towards him (quite the opposite, in fact), Quentyn is thinking about them in the context of his gyno-anxiety. Clearly, he sees something so terrifying in a pair of girls who wanted to kiss him that he goes out of his way to avoid them. Even an unflowered 12-year old is intimidating to him because she represents potential future sexual relations.

In the Debates thread we discussed Quentyn’s vagina-phobia for a while, and came to the vague conclusion that Quentyn’s just a very shy, introverted kid who thinks abstaining from sex is what a “good ruler” would do. There’s really no pragmatic reason for him not to kiss a Drinkwater twin (which Cletus pointed out), suggesting that Quentyn legitimately didn’t want to.

This lack of confidence will feature strongly throughout Quentyn’s plot, as he is directly letting it influence how he views his chances of success with Dany:

And now the most beautiful woman in the world was waiting in Meereen, and he meant to do his duty and claim her for his bride. She will not refuse me. She will honor the agreement. Daenerys Targaryen would need Dorne to win the Seven Kingdoms, and that meant that she would need him. It does not mean that she will love me, though. She may not even like me.

Quentyn had no idea what Daenerys Targaryen might like. He had promised his father that he would bring her back to Dorne, but more and more he wondered if he was equal to the task.

(The only line I omitted was Gerris pointing at a monkey). We can see here that Quentyn is directly doubting his mission’s success because of his lack of confidence with women. If you’ll allow me a brief comparison to Arianne, I think it’s interesting that Quentyn’s source of anxiety and reassurance are opposite Arianne’s. Quentyn is worrying about Dany loving (or even liking him :frown5:), but takes comfort in his father’s agreement. Arianne, on the other hand, spends her time being perfectly confident in her seductive capabilities (in fact that’s her go-to), but held Doran’s plans as a source of concern for years, and worries about her capabilities to come through with “words alone.” Yet in reality, both siblings are mistaken…but I’ll leave that for the nonce.

The Merchant’s Man:
I briefly want to note that for Quentyn’s first chapter title, this is exceedingly fitting. While I think Quentyn is a bit too harsh on himself for his “plain looks,” and that insecurity affects his approach to the opposite gender, it’s hard to argue against Quentyn being more believable as the follower rather than the leader.

Gerris greeted him with a smile. Though he did not speak the Volantene tongue as well as Quentyn, their ruse required that he speak for them. Back in the Planky Town Quentyn had played the wineseller, but the mummery had chafed at him, so when the Dornishmen changed ships at Lys they had changed roles as well. Aboard the Meadowlark, Cletus Yronwood became the merchant, Quentyn the servant; in Volantis, with Cletus slain, Gerris had assumed the master’s role.

It’s interesting to note the mummery “chafed at” Quentyn. To me this suggests that he choked under the pressure of having to be the one who spoke, because I don’t see why else he would find it irksome. This quote is immediately followed by his description of Gerris and himself, where we first learn that Quentyn is uncomfortable in his own skin. Despite being a better fit for this role given his proficiency with Volantene, Quentyn feels too out of his element to take it on. And the charismatic Gerris makes for a believable leader.

We also see Quentyn fall naturally into the role of subordinate beyond the wineseller-ruse. Gerris appears to be the one formulating plans throughout the chapter, first listing every potential option for Quentyn and become irritated with his indecisiveness, and then thinking up the Windblown-plot:

"Do you have a better way?” Quentyn asked him. “I do. It’s just now come to me. It has its risks, and it is not what you would call honorable, I grant you … but it will get you to your queen quicker than the demon road.”

“Tell me,” said Quentyn Martell.

I do think Quentyn displays intellect throughout this chapter. However, he doesn’t display confidence, decisiveness, or initiative…all of which are needed to be an effective leader. Poor Ser Mud truly is “the merchant’s man.”

Like Father, Like Son?

Smiles had never come easily for Quentyn Martell, any more than they did for his lord father.

It’s interesting that he thinks of himself as his father, a man from whom he’s been separated for over a decade. I wonder if Quentyn was a morose little child and people used to make comments like, “yup, definitely Doran’s kid.” Despite the years apart, however, Quentyn is right in that his serious demeanor is something he and his father share:

Prince Doran laughed. It had been so long since Hotah last heard him laugh, he had almost forgotten what it sounded like.

Doran’s solemn demeanor is rather famous in Dorne, though most viewing him as passive rather than grave. In truth, we know that Doran has been plotting the revenge of his sister for 17 years, trusting few, and closely guarding his secrets while worrying about the welfare of each and every individual in Dorne. Why Quentyn may have been equally intense as a child is beyond me, but certainly for this quest, it makes sense that he is continually focused on the task at hand:

“They look amusing,” Gerris said. “Shall we stop and watch them fight? A laugh might serve you well, Quent. You look like an old man who has not moved his bowels in half a year.”

I am eight-and-ten, six years younger than you, Quentyn thought. I am no old man. Instead he said, “I have no need for comic dwarfs. Unless they have a ship.”

I think there’s few who could argue that Quentyn could use a laugh, but although there’s little more he can do for the day to advance his mission, he refuses to be distracted, even for a minute. Additionally, we see him become exacerbated with Gerris for his light-hearted demeanor:

This is still just a game to him Quentyn realized, no different than the time he led six of us up into the mountains to find the old lair of the Vulture King. It was not in Gerris Drinkwater’s nature to imagine they might fail, let alone that they might die. Even the deaths of three friends had not served to chasten him, it would seem. He leaves that to me. He knows my nature is as cautious as his is bold .

What’s interesting is that Quentyn’s thought about his “nature” matches another trait most associate with Doran: caution. Doran’s plans were so cautious, in fact, that opportunity almost passed him by entirely. I remember someone saying that Doran’s MO is to sit back and wait, and we see this in Quentyn as well, when he shoots down every suggestion Gerris makes for travel. The problem here is that Quentyn’s caution is detrimental to the mission, and seems more like indecision than careful strategizing. He strikes down every option, but offers none in return, as if he’s hoping an opportunity will present itself to him. Doran, while certainly overly cautious in the past, knows when to strike, and is quite proactive in the organization of his plans. They may get overripe, but they exist.

I worry I am doing Quentyn a disservice here. By all accounts, he seems to be quite an intelligent guy, able to observe and take note of the situation, as demonstrated in the previously quoted passage:

“I fear our happy voyage will be short, however. That sweet man does not mean to take us to Meereen. He was too quick to accept your offer. He’ll take thrice the usual fee, no doubt, and once he has us aboard and out of sight of land, he’ll slit our throats and take the rest of our gold as well.”


Granted, Gerris seems to have realized this as well, but Quentyn’s displaying a bit of the cyvasse-studying analytical skills that Doran values so much (and prides himself on). We also see Quentyn expressing his book-smarts with his knowledge of Volantene history and current politics. This goes along with the idea of “studying the game before you play.” In terms of mental capabilities, Quentyn does seem to take a leaf out of his father’s book.

I also should mention that Quentyn looks like his father, so on the surface level, they are strikingly similar. Perhaps this plays into why Quentyn likens himself to his father? Though there are other reasons, of course…

You know you’re a Martell When…
Martell Communication Deficiency Syndrome™ (MCDS™):
Despite Quentyn being very self-deprecating about his physicality, he silently gets upset when Gerris tells him he looks like an old man who needs to shit. Interestingly, he only internally challenges the “old” part of that statement using very objective measures, but not the constipated part. “I am eight-and-ten, six years younger than you, Quentyn thought. I am no old man.” And instead of openly communicating this, Quentyn only responds to Gerris’s suggestion to stop. It seems Quentyn inherited the family inability to defend oneself and/or communicate hurt. This extends to his feelings as well, as Quentyn never told Ynys how he felt, despite harboring a crush for “years.”

Quentyn was about to suggest that they try another ship

I’m sure I’m reading far too much into this, but given their limited options and lack of success for nearly 3 weeks, Quentyn still seems a bit skittish and non-confrontational. Just about everything is a source of discomfort for him, and his go-to appears to be avoidance rather than trying something an seeing how it goes.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that despite Quentyn’s apparent unease with his entire mission and his fears about his own capabilities to carry it out, he never once communicated this to Doran. Why? MCDS™, for a certainty. But also…

Martell Guilt™
Despite being away from Sunspear for many years, Quentyn’s motivator is a need to please his father…we see he has a very deep-seeded concern about failing Doran:

Crawl back to Sunspear defeated, with my tail between my legs? His father’s disappointment would be more than Quentyn could bear, and the scorn of the Sand Snakes would be withering. Doran Martell had put the fate of Dorne into his hands, he could not fail him, not whilst life remained.

Here we’re seeing Martell Guilt™ working its wonders, weighing on him and compelling him forward. Take note that it is Doran’s disappointment, and not Anders’s, that he thinks of first. Just as it’s his cousin’s scorn, not Arianne’s that he fears. This perhaps speaks volumes about what his childhood must have been like.

We also see Quentyn’s continual guilt over the death of his traveling companions:

It was not supposed to end like that for them. “This will be a tale to tell our grandchildren,” Cletus had declared the day they set out from his father’s castle. Will made a face at that, and said, “A tale to tell tavern wenches, you mean, in hopes they’ll lift their skirts.” Cletus had slapped him on the back. “For grandchildren, you need children. For children, you need to lift some skirts.” Later, in the Planky Town, the Dornishmen had toasted Quentyn’s future bride, made ribald japes about his wedding night to come, and talked about the things they’d see, the deeds they’d do, the glory they would win. All they won was a sailcloth sack filled with ballast stones.

This is very “empty chairs at empty tables of him.” We also get:

“If Cletus and Will were still with us, we could come back with the big man and kill the lot of
them,” said Gerris.

Cletus and Will are dead.

Granted, Quentyn’s only had about a month or so to grieve, but it is interesting that he feels so responsible, and that thoughts of them keep bubbling up. Further, Quentyn feels isolated in his grief, noting that Gerris “leaves that to him.”

Quentyn's relationship with Doran
As I just mentioned, Quentyn feels very desperate to prove himself to Doran, to the extent where it feels like it’s Quentyn’s main motivator. Clearly, the kid isn’t driven by the throne or the thought of marrying the “most beautiful” woman. His fear of disappointment even prods him towards making rather rash, myopic decisions:

”We must have a ship. Even if it is Adventure.”

True, we have no way of knowing if Quentyn really would have braved this ship the next morning, but given some of his other choices made when he was worried about failing, it’s not a stretch to say he was at least considering it. And Adventure would almost certainly mean death.

Quentyn’s focus on completing the mission even eclipses his grief:

As much as he mourned Will and Cletus, it was the maester’s loss that Quentyn felt most keenly. Kedry had been fluent in the tongues of all of the Free Cities, and even the mongrel Ghiscari that men spoke along the shores of Slaver’s Bay. “Maester Kedry will accompany you,” his father said the night they parted. “Heed his counsel. He has devoted half his life to the study of the Nine Free Cities.” Quentyn wondered if things might not have gone a deal easier if only he were here to guide them.

The fact that Quentyn feels Kendry’s death “most keenly” is telling. By all accounts, Cletus was a brother to him. Yet it was the maester whose import Doran emphasized, and I can’t help but wonder if that played into his feelings about the death. It could also be more pragmatic: Quentyn’s crew is stranded and Kendry likely could have navigated Volantis more deftly. However, this demonstrates once again that Quentyn’s drive to complete is mission outweighs his own personal losses. Once again:
Doran Martell had put the fate of Dorne into his hands, he could not fail him, not whilst life remained.
These words will quite obviously feature strongly in Quentyn’s mission moving forward. It’s also important to note that though Quentyn was raised by Anders Yronwood, he very strongly identifies as “Dornish” first and foremost:

I am Dorne, he told himself

“Westerosi?” the man answered, in the Common Tongue. “Dornishmen. My master is a wineseller.”

While it’s quite hilarious to think of Quentyn being all “L'État, c'est moi,” I think it also demonstrates just how seriously Quentyn takes a directive from Doran. He has a great sense of “national” (for lack of a better term) pride and sense of duty to his House. The Martell Guilt™ factors not only in his personal relationship with Doran, but also in how his actions affect their kingdom as a whole.

We also see just how much Quentyn values Doran’s words:

“The demon road is dangerous, and too slow,” Quentyn said. “Tywin Lannister will send his own men after the queen once word of her reaches King’s Landing.” His father had been certain of that. “His will come with knives. If they reach her first—”

As it turns out, Doran was wrong about hired knives going after Dany, though this is because Tyrion unexpectedly killed his father. Still, Quentyn takes everything his father says to heart, such as “Dorne will bleed if your purpose is discovered,” which plays into his over-caution, and his decision to not take the road.

Comparison to Arianne
Julia Martell and I both feel that because we’re likely supposed to draw parallels between the two Martell children, it might be a good idea to have “Comparison to Arianne” as a standing section for this reread. Or maybe we’re just obsessed and can’t go longer than 5 seconds of thinking about Quentyn without making the comparison. Either way, here it goes:

I would argue that both Martell children are highly intelligent. Yet the intellect Quentyn displays is “book smart.” He knows much, and as demonstrated with his read on Adventure’s captain, he has a quick mind that can appraise situations accurately. However, he lacks the confidence to communicate it. The wineseller ruse “chafing” at him is further evidence that while he may have the mental capabilities to succeed, he lacks the pragmatic ability to put it into action. Arianne, on the other hand, thrives in the social space. We see her manipulate/throw others off their game with words alone, even going so far as to gain everything she’s ever wanted in one conversation with her father (a conversation in which she had no leverage at the start).

Arianne also displays proactivity and leadership that we don’t see in Quentyn. Say what you will about the Queenmaker plot, but it was a decisive action. Arianne also displays the ability to take in new information and formulate a logical and smart plan quickly:

Shall I say that Oakheart perished in a hunting accident, or from a tumble down some slippery steps? Perhaps Arys went swimming at the Water Gardens, slipped upon the marble, hit his head, and drowned?”

“No,” Arianne said. “Say that he died defending his little princess. Tell Ser Balon that Darkstar tried to kill her and Ser Arys stepped between them and saved her life.” That was how the white knights of the Kingsguard were supposed to die, giving up their own lives for those that they had sworn to protect. “Ser Balon may be suspicious, as you were when the Lannisters killed your sister and her children, but he will have no proof...”


Quentyn, on the other hand, takes in new information and appraises the risks associated with it quite quickly, but doesn’t offer solutions as readily…at least in this chapter:

The Goddess sails for New Ghis on the morrow,” Gerris reminded him. “That at least would bring us closer.”

“New Ghis is an island, and a much smaller port than this. We would be closer, yes, but we could find ourselves stranded. And New Ghis has allied with the Yunkai’i.” That news had not come as a surprise to Quentyn. New Ghis and Yunkai were both Ghiscari cities. “If Volantis should ally with them as well-“

“We need to find a ship from Westeros,” suggested Gerris, “some trader out of Lannisport or
Oldtown.”

“Few come this far, and those who do fill their holds with silk and spice from the Jade Sea, then
bend their oars for home.”

“Perhaps a Braavosi ship? One hears of purple sails as far away as Asshai and the islands of the
Jade Sea.”

“The Braavosi are descended from escaped slaves. They do not trade in Slaver’s Bay.”

“Do we have enough gold to buy a ship?”

“And who will sail her? You? Me?” Dornishmen had never been seafarers, not since Nymeria


We see both Martells have a constantly working mind, but at the end of the day, Arianne is decisive and a leader where her brother is tentative and waits for directives. You can argue some of Arianne’s decisions haven’t been the best, but when she’s operating with a complete data set, we haven’t seen her stumble yet. If you’ll allow me a rather pithy statement: Quentyn sees problems; Arianne sees solutions.

Hopefully my section on “you know you’re a Martell when…” covered the guilt and communication issues we see feature so heavily in Arianne’s arc. We also see Quentyn continually grieving over his dead friends, which can be compared to Arianne’s grief for Arys. However in Arianne’s case, she internalizes blame for his death, whereas there’s no room to hold Quentyn responsible for the death of his friends.

Both Arianne and Quentyn carry a torch for their father. And this is despite the fact that Arianne’s relationship to Doran is made complicated by the years of bottled up anger and hurt, while Quentyn is almost a complete stranger to Sunspear. Even still, both clearly value his opinion and are terrified of disappointing him.

The Martell children can both be likened to Doran. And certainly both inherited the intellectual capacity. Though what’s interesting is that Quentyn’s comparisons to Doran are mostly based on a superficial understanding of Doran: unattractive, solemn, uncharismatic, meek, and not one to take pleasure. Arianne, on the other hand, can be likened to Doran for his more positive, yet subtle attributes: long-term planning, decisiveness, proactivity, and sass…so much sass. note: when I say “subtle,” I mean to the in-verse characters, and not us. Most of Westeros thinks of Doran as inactive and feeble.

It’s almost as if Quentyn took note of his father’s demeanor, and took that to heart in how a prince “should act.” Arianne, meanwhile, was hurt and confused by her father, and tried to act as she saw was fit for a prince[ss] of Dorne: like her uncle who was charismatic and well-loved. And yet in Quentyn’s efforts to become exactly like Doran, he never developed confidence in his own character, causing him to become the anxious prince we see in this chapter. Conversely, Arianne’s efforts to rebel against her father pretty much brought out the qualities in her that were identical. Talk about poetic.
___

I know it sounds like I’m coming down harsh on Quentyn, and I don’t mean to. I think he’s a really sweet guy, and very smart in an introverted, bookish way. What’s more is that he does seem well-liked by his friends, and even the girls that were such a source of anxiety to him. He’d be my buddy if we had gone to high school together. That being said, I do think that Quentyn falls short when it comes to leadership capabilities, and is completely over his head on this journey.

Observations/Discussion Questions

  • Had Gerris not spoken up, was Quentyn really leaning towards taking Adventure?
  • Planky Town-gate:

    Later, in the Planky Town, the Dornishmen had toasted Quentyn’s future bride, made ribald japes about his wedding night to come, and talked about the things they’d see, the deeds they’d do, the glory they would win.

    Why were they being so damn obvious? And was Maester Kendry getting bawdy as well?
  • Seriously, can anyone think of a reason not to kiss a Drinkwater?
  • What does Quentyn mean when he says that Gwyneth is “quick with hands” and how the hell does he know that?
  • Who has bigger balls: Gerris Drinkwater or Daemon Sand? What happens if we put those two in a room together?
  • Hey guys, I can write a song too (same number of beats): We are the Windblown…Blowing towards plot convenience, literally planning to encounter Dany.

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That's a really incredible analysis and feels spot on. Re-reading this chapter the parallels between Quent & Doran seem much more apparent to me personally. I'm reminded of Tywin's quote describing Doran as a man who weighs the consequences of every word and action and that seems to me like an almost perfect description of the role Quent is trying to play within his merry band. Maybe that explains him considering Adventure. After weighing it up he thought it might be the least bad option. He's very thoughtful and calculating regarding risk, he takes his mission very seriously, but he's not cowardly is he? He's bold. (We see that quite fatally later on.)



I am seriously enchanted by your notion of Quentyn trying his hardest to live up to his image of Doran and that just has to be true. The street smarts factor is absolutely the difference between Arianne and Quent in my opinion. Probably makes her more formidable. I don't think you're being too harsh on Quent at all. He's just young and awkward isn't he? He's got the potential to be a cracking ruler, but he has a lot of growing up to do first. I think his Doran impression would have gotten better with time.



On a similar note, given these parallels to Quent, do you think it's possible he could have developed these synergies independently of his father's influence? Is it possible Doran had more influence over his upbringing than it seems?



RE - Gerris vs Daemon, I land on Daemon's side. I get the feeling Arianne's a little harder to impress than Quentyn. Both have tiny balls by Umber standards.


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Quentyn is another good egg, there’s no doubt about that. Say what you will about the Martells, they know how to make non-dickish aristocrats.

I think if I could come up with one word to describe Quentyn in this chapter it would be: dutiful. This kid will endure any hardship, face any trial, if he thinks that’s what he should do. The thought of Dany and all her girl parts makes him sick with anxiety but he never once question the necessity or rightness of his mission because that’s what his father told him to do.

Had Gerris not spoken up, was Quentyn really leaning towards taking Adventure?

Maybe in another three weeks he would have. I really don’t think he was that desperate yet.

Planky Town-gate:
Why were they being so damn obvious? And was Maester Kendry getting bawdy as well?

Maester Kendry and Cletus had an ongoing contest to see who was the bawdiest. It is know.

But yeah, Quentyn and co, really skrewed up here. They certainly attracted enough attention that Arianne’s orphan friends noticed them, and what if he had been Varys’s friend instead of Arianne’s, huh?

Seriously, can anyone think of a reason not to kiss a Drinkwater?

I think you (Cheb) make a good point, he thinks he has to be a perfect prince, just like his dad, and he thinks his father wouldn’t kiss a Drinkwater, (he’s probably right, maybe) so he must not either.

That being said, I’m not sure he would WANT to kiss a Drinkwater, even if Doran had a new paramour every year. Or at least, he wouldn’t be able get over his fear of women, even if he thought he was “allowed” to. I mean, if he had no interest in the opposite sex, it wouldn’t make him so uncomfortable, right?

What does Quentyn mean when he says that Gwyneth is “quick with hands” and how the hell does he know that?

Gwenyth is an excellent juggler. Look at those hands go!

Who has bigger balls: Gerris Drinkwater or Daemon Sand? What happens if we put those two in a room together?

Has Gerris Drinkwater ever yelled at Doran? I thought not. He did say “cunt” in front of Quentyn, though. So 1 out of 2, I guess.

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Thanks to Chebyshov for a great essay, and for starting the music.



I wish I had something witty or poniant to start the response, but instead I'm going to jump right in.





At the onset, Quentyn provides us with an unfavorable description of himself:


Quentyn cut a poor figure by comparison [to Gerris]— short-legged and stocky, thickly built, with hair the brown of new-turned earth. His forehead was too high, his jaw too square, his nose too broad.



Was this really a self-assessment by Quentyn, or just GRRM sneaking in a third person point of view/description. He’s been known to jump to and fro between an internal POV and an external POV. It seems to be accompanied by a personal memory of his, so I guess it was a personal assessment, and it helps explain some of his lack of confidence.





We also see that Quentyn immediately contextualizes his self-description with feedback he’s received from the opposite gender…feedback he reads as negative, though I’d argue the girl was trying to be kind.



I agree the girl was probably not being hurtful, but Quent seems to have taken his lack of looks to heart.





Maybe I’m grasping at straws, but I think Quentyn’s thoughts about the ship can be extrapolated to his own self-image.



I’ve taken on the opinion that Quentyn’s thoughts about the ship’s smell, the smell of Adventure, are indicative of his entire attitude towards the endeavor as a whole. Quentyn doesn’t really enjoy it or is capable of having a positive, confident attitude towards the whole thing.






At first this thought may seem shallow, even a bit voyeuristic, but in the context of Quentyn’s self-image, it’s clear that “the most beautiful woman in the world” is not a source of excitement: she’s a source of anxiety.

I think you’re spot on, in that he’s clearly nervous about having to woo “the most beautiful woman in the world”, and that he’s obviously unsure if he is up to the task, personally. He seems to be falling back upon what he brings politically as his best chance of being successful. His lack of confidence in himself is not going to make his job any easier, however, and he doesn’t seem to understand this.





In the Debates thread we discussed Quentyn’s vagina-phobia for a while, and came to the vague conclusion that Quentyn’s just a very shy, introverted kid who thinks abstaining from sex is what a “good ruler” would do.

I’d like to go further and suggest some possible underlying causes of Quent’s fear of women. It stems from his view of sex and view of women as a whole. First, I’d like to point out Quent’s description of Dany as “the most beautiful woman in the world”. He immediately places Dany on a pedestal. Not just a pedestal, but a mount Everest sized pedestal that he has no chance of climbing without an agreement and 50K Dornish spears to help.


Most objective viewers will tell you that there is no such thing as “the most beautiful woman in the world”, and that most beautiful women do not necessarily see themselves as “beautiful and terrible as the sun”. Beautiful women are just like any other women in what they want, but Quentyn does not understand this. This speaks toward his inexperience with women.


Second, it stems from Quentyn’s sexual role models. Despite being separated from him for quite a while, it seems that Quentyn’s major role model is still his father. Everything about Quent seems to point to a parallel view as his father. Doran married for love, and has never had any paramours (I think). What does this mean? Quentyn does not see sex as a mutual, pleasurable experience. He sees sex as parts of duty, and love. He’s been burdened with an overwhelming since of duty, which has increased his anxiety due to his separation from his father.


Lastly, as will be pointed out below, Quentyn isn’t exactly a dominant personality. He’s not completely hopeless, but he is neither extroverted nor dominant in personality. He is very much like his father, in that he is contemplative in nature, rather than action oriented.


To me, this leads to the idea that he is equally not a dominant sexual personality. He’s a bit of a bottom. All of his sexual experience thus far seems to have been initiated by girls. This tends to be the nature of initial sexual experience for more submissive personalities. He’s not just unaggressive sexually, he’s unaggressive/contemplative/passive in everything.






We can see here that Quentyn is directly doubting his mission’s success because of his lack of confidence with women.

I agree about the doubting. I had never considered the juxtaposition between him and Arianne. It highlights the differences.






I briefly want to note that for Quentyn’s first chapter title, this is exceedingly fitting. While I think Quentyn is a bit too harsh on himself for his “plain looks,” and that insecurity affects his approach to the opposite gender, it’s hard to argue against Quentyn being more believable as the follower rather than the leader.

I agree, and this is where Quentyn’s non-dominant personality is cemented. I agree that he does show remarkable intelligence, but his lack of experience tends to get him into trouble. As we will see in the future, Quent is uncomfortable as the center of attention, or as the “face-man” of the enterprise. He prefers to lead in the manner of his father. His in the quiet, contemplative method of leadership.





It’s interesting to note the mummery “chafed at” Quentyn. To me this suggests that he choked under the pressure of having to be the one who spoke, because I don’t see why else he would find it irksome.

I came up with the idea that the mummery chafed at Quentyn partially because he has a somewhat strict view of “honorable” behavior. To him, acting is probably too much like lying. But I think it is a very good point that he truly isn’t the natural leader personality, and that Gerris does a better job of it. Posing as the one in charge, when obviously not the dominant personality, would be suspicious.


But Quentyn maintains this kind of back-seat driving methodology for a little too long. It’s not just a ruse, it’s who he is. When the time will come for him to transform from frog to prince, he is still letting Gerris do the talking for him.






We also see Quentyn fall naturally into the role of subordinate beyond the wineseller-ruse...... I do think Quentyn displays intellect throughout this chapter. However, he doesn’t display confidence, decisiveness, or initiative…all of which are needed to be an effective leader. Poor Ser Mud truly is “the merchant’s man.”


Finally something I feel professionally able to comment on: Quent’s leadership ability. As I stated above, I agree he displays intelligence, though he displays a lack of experience and confidence (which usually follows from experience). I can’t knock Quent’s desire to be contemplative. Weighing all the options is the mark of a good leader, though it is more strategic in nature than tactical. But where he fails is that he is unable to simply choose “the best” option. He needs something that he believes has a very good ability to succeed before he makes a move, which can be detrimental when you are on the clock, as Quent obviously is. He lacks, as you say, decisiveness. Quent is, at heart, a logistician rather than a tactician.






What’s interesting is that Quentyn’s thought about his “nature” matches another trait most associate with Doran: caution.

It’s true that everything about Quent’s leadership style directly reflects his father. He is his father’s son. He’s not a bad leader, given the right situation. The situation he finds himself in, something very fluid that requires constant improvisation, is not something that he is capable at.





I worry I am doing Quentyn a disservice here. By all accounts, he seems to be quite an intelligent guy, able to observe and take note of the situation, as demonstrated in the previously quoted passage:



I don’t think it’s a disservice to stipulate that while he is intelligent, his intelligence is suited to solving different kinds of problems then he is faced with in his current situation.






Despite Quentyn being very self-deprecating about his physicality, he silently gets upset when Gerris tells him he looks like an old man who needs to shit.

Quentyn is not a complete sub. He does have pride in himself, and especially in Dorne. But it takes a lot for Quentyn to come out of his introverted, passive role. I imagine this is something he shares with his father, though not so much with his sister. Sure, Arianne has some communication problems with her father, but upon reflection does it not seem this may be more the fault of Doran? Would Doran’s lack of communication with ANYONE reinforce Arianne’s feeling of inability to communicate with him?





I’m sure I’m reading far too much into this, but given their limited options and lack of success for nearly 3 weeks, Quentyn still seems a bit skittish and non-confrontational. Just about everything is a source of discomfort for him, and his go-to appears to be avoidance rather than trying something an seeing how it goes.



He’s unable to improvise. He’s passive by nature. He desires stability and normalcy rather than reveling in the unique and novel.





I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that despite Quentyn’s apparent unease with his entire mission and his fears about his own capabilities to carry it out, he never once communicated this to Doran. Why? MCDS™, for a certainty



I also believe that the nature of the mission makes it somewhat difficult to communicate with mission control. This is one of those away missions where communications were going to be down from the start. Quent has the command. He’s on his own. He was given some more experienced help to start, but it seems he lost some important advisors before getting to Volantis. I’m turning to the opinion that Quent should never have been given the command of this mission to begin with.






Here we’re seeing Martell Guilt™ working its wonders, weighing on him and compelling him forward.

Quent seems to have developed a crushing sense of duty and fear of failure from his father. It’s especially true that Quent displays an inability to deal with the death of his compatriots.





While it’s quite hilarious to think of Quentyn being all “L'État, c'est moi,” I think it also demonstrates just how seriously Quentyn takes a directive from Doran. He has a great sense of “national” (for lack of a better term) pride and sense of duty to his House.



Quent has more pride/faith in Dorne than in himself. Dorne/his father/duty is his motivator. This will come up again.





I would argue that both Martell children are highly intelligent. Yet the intellect Quentyn displays is “book smart.” He knows much, and as demonstrated with his read on Adventure’s captain, he has a quick mind that can appraise situations accurately. However, he lacks the confidence to communicate it. The wineseller ruse “chafing” at him is further evidence that while he may have the mental capabilities to succeed, he lacks the pragmatic ability to put it into action. Arianne, on the other hand, thrives in the social space. We see her manipulate/throw others off their game with words alone, even going so far as to gain everything she’s ever wanted in one conversation with her father (a conversation in which she had no leverage at the start).



I think this is correct. Both are intelligent, but in different ways. Quentyn displays contemplative and logistical intelligence. He is the cyvass player, as long as he’s not playing “speed cyvass”. An hourglass by the table would probably make him shit.


Arianne on the other hand, as you say, displays social/tactical intelligence. She is very much a people person, and an improviser. She is extroverted and expressive where her brother is introverted and self-contained to the point of shyness.





We see both Martells have a constantly working mind, but at the end of the day, Arianne is decisive and a leader where her brother is tentative and waits for directives. You can argue some of Arianne’s decisions haven’t been the best, but when she’s operating with a complete data set, we haven’t seen her stumble yet. If you’ll allow me a rather pithy statement: Quentyn sees problems; Arianne sees solutions.



More than the fact that he waits for directives, Quent seems to have no creativity. He cannot improvise, where Arianne is a master of tactical improvisation.



:( Can you imagine how awesome they could have been working together? They would have made the most awesome brother/sister power partnership. They perfectly offset each other’s weaknesses.


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Julia said:

I think if I could come up with one word to describe Quentyn in this chapter it would be: dutiful. This kid will endure any hardship, face any trial, if he thinks that’s what he should do. The thought of Dany and all her girl parts makes him sick with anxiety but he never once question the necessity or rightness of his mission because that’s what his father told him to do.

I agree his sense of duty is the prime motivator for Quentyn. If he had the choice, he wouldn't even be on the trip, or be marrying "the most beautiful woman in the world". I can't help but see this as an extremely admirable quality in him.

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Questions:



1. Had Gerris not spoken up, was Quentyn really leaning towards taking Adventure?



Probably. He seems to lack the ability to improvise. He probably would have sat in Volantis forever if he had been by himself, waiting for a boat.



2. Seriously, can anyone think of a reason not to kiss a Drinkwater?



More important question is whether there is any good reason not to kiss twins when the opportunity presents itself. When you're painfully shy, you're painfully shy :( Quent probably believes that kissing and sex is for love and marriage, and he felt he wasn't in love with the twins, or felt he couldn't be old enough to understand love.



3. What does Quentyn mean when he says that Gwyneth is “quick with hands” and how the hell does he know that?



Too young, too young! OK, who thinks Quent is still a virgin? Hands?



4. Who has bigger balls: Gerris Drinkwater or Daemon Sand? What happens if we put those two in a room together?



Daemon Sand, hands down. In a room, Gerris is forced to submit to the magnitude of Daemon's testiclitude.

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First, nice work.

Second, you're all newbies... http://www.starwars.com/games-apps/star-wars-crawl-creator :P

Third, this brought back memories from around ten years ago when, during elections, one of the candidates was often thought to be a virgin. And a friend of mine said "we can't be ruled by a virgin! nothing good can come from that!". (We weren't ruled by such virgin, but nothing good came from that either...)

Now, to business.

First (again... actually, fifth), a question I asked myself reading was "Is Quentyn that... unattractive or he's just pitying himself?". Because, let's be honest: Quentyn lives in a world that is very similar to ours, or at least, in his specific case, mine. "Caucasian" beauty is the standard for beauty (look how blue eyes and blond hair are praised by him and many others in ASOIAF). He looks Dornish and he feels lesser because of that. That's something I can have sympathy for. I look like a woman from my own region should look, yet, because I'm not tall, skinny, whiter and blonder, I'm not fit to be called beautiful and I'm not the target of mostly fashion or beauty products. I've been even called "exotic" (shouldn't the blonde white people should be called exotic here?) And I'm not exactly "ugly". Yet, when I was younger, I felt very inappropriate around guys, because, hey, if society said I was ugly, then I definitely was, right? For example, do you think that Pedro Pascal or Benjamin Bratt would be working in local TV? Doubtful. They don't look the "type".

Quentyn's case is not different. I'm sure there is nothing wrong with him. His mother was VERY impressed the first time she saw Doran, and Oberyn's charisma compensates for any kind of bad looks he could have had. Elia was not a stunning beauty like Arianne, yet, Rhaegar (the most "OMG!" guy really cared for her. Yet, poor baby feels like mud.

I think if I could come up with one word to describe Quentyn in this chapter it would be: dutiful. This kid will endure any hardship, face any trial, if he thinks that’s what he should do. The thought of Dany and all her girl parts makes him sick with anxiety but he never once question the necessity or rightness of his mission because that’s what his father told him to do.

Reminded me of Cat's description about her own first time with Ned. He called him "dutiful". If we can make a parallel here, Ned would be fitting too: he has an stunningly attractive older sibling, he was full with confidence, specially sexual confidence, and it was the one who was meant to be the ruler and heir. Ned also resents Brandon, even after he's dead and Cat now honestly loves him. Arianne is alive, but Quentyn will always live under her very charismatic shadow. Also, he was meant to replace her if the plan of her being Queen hadn't been destroyed by idiocy.

Ned is described as shy and quiet, and his brother had to speak in his name so he could dance with a pretty girl. At the end, he had to marry his brother's former betrothal, and I'm sure that was the worst possible scenario for him to happen. Not only Brandon's boot were hard to fill, but while Ned has tact and he's polite and probably never actually asked, one has to wonder if he, at some point, before he actually bedded Cat, wondered if she had had sex with Brandon, which made everything even worst for him. So, poor guy probably went to bed thinking "this I won't be able to match my brother either".

And... of course, they both were unfit for the tasks assigned. At least Quentyn ended up in one piece. Kinda.

I’ve taken on the opinion that Quentyn’s thoughts about the ship’s smell, the smell of Adventure, are indicative of his entire attitude towards the endeavor as a whole. Quentyn doesn’t really enjoy it or is capable of having a positive, confident attitude towards the whole thing.

He's like a kid having his first real job. My first real job... I'm sure my bosses were actually nice people but I hated them lot. Ugh...

Too young, too young! OK, who thinks Quent is still a virgin? Hands?

His hands are probably still virginal too.

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Reminded me of Cat's description about her own first time with Ned.

Another great comparison. The only difference is the stressing of the thought process. Not to say that Ned isn't smart or isn't a deep thinker, especially when it comes to military operations, but he doesn't seem to be so stuck in the "analyze" portion of the decision cycle. Ned displays the ability to go with the best option now without waiting for a perfect option to present itself through close study.

Why the difference? For one thing, Ned had Robert. Yes, I know Robert isn't a great role model, but Ned loved him, we can't deny, and maybe for a good reason. Maybe Robert helped get Ned out of his shell a little. Second must have been Jon Arryn. We don't know much about Jon, but perhaps he didn't stress "a good prince must weigh all options" type stuff like I'm sure Doran did.

It's tough to say because we never do get to meet Ned when he was young, other then the description of him as "the quiet wolf", and we don't get to see his interactions with Jon and Robert while young.

His hands are probably still virginal too.

LOL. Jeez, I hope not. I suppose it's possible.

"Is Quentyn that... unattractive or he's just pitying himself?".

The consensus seems to be that he's not attractive. I don't think he's ugly, but even girls in Dorne and old knights call him "plain" and "not handsome". I think his problems with girls and his penis seems to go beyond his self-image, though.

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That's a really incredible analysis and feels spot on. Re-reading this chapter the parallels between Quent & Doran seem much more apparent to me personally. I'm reminded of Tywin's quote describing Doran as a man who weighs the consequences of every word and action and that seems to me like an almost perfect description of the role Quent is trying to play within his merry band. Maybe that explains him considering Adventure. After weighing it up he thought it might be the least bad option. He's very thoughtful and calculating regarding risk, he takes his mission very seriously, but he's not cowardly is he? He's bold. (We see that quite fatally later on.)

Is "bold" the right word? Certainly we'll get to that section but I read it as desperation. Just as his desperation to reach Dany may have even eclipsed his safety concerns about Adventure. That's a good point relating this to the DT incident though. It makes me lean more towards thinking that had Gerris not suggested anything, Quentyn might have been willing to risk it. So yeah, good at calculating risk, but uh...not-strategic in acting on his calculations? Fair?

On a similar note, given these parallels to Quent, do you think it's possible he could have developed these synergies independently of his father's influence? Is it possible Doran had more influence over his upbringing than it seems?

I'm of the mind that there was limited interaction. Obvoiusly Quentyn's been around his cousins enough to worry about their scorn (awkward family dinners for Doran's nameday?), but as Doran said, Anders acted as far more of a father. Keep in mind though, the kid maybe got that letter from Doran at 9 which stated he'd rule Dorne one day. This is right around when he was sent to Yronwood, so that definitely colored his focus and his aspirations (to be daddy). There's worse role-models to have.

I think if I could come up with one word to describe Quentyn in this chapter it would be: dutiful. This kid will endure any hardship, face any trial, if he thinks that’s what he should do. The thought of Dany and all her girl parts makes him sick with anxiety but he never once question the necessity or rightness of his mission because that’s what his father told him to do.

Very, very good point that he's not reflective about this mission. In fact, in some ways he views himself as "saving" Dany from the Yunkish troops and Tywin's "spies" that totally exist. He takes Doran at his word. Also, notable that this lines up exactly to Arianne's appraisal of him, despite being distanced from her brother: "Her brother was an earnest boy, well-behaved and dutiful, but dull. And plain, so plain." Maybe this means there were a couple awkward feasts each year (please, gods).

Also while Gerris was willing to say "cunt" to Quentyn, it wasn't in the context of a tacit insult the way Daemon's was. "Unworthy of your cunt" requires far bigger balls than "you look like you're old and need to shit."

Was this really a self-assessment by Quentyn, or just GRRM sneaking in a third person point of view/description. He’s been known to jump to and fro between an internal POV and an external POV. It seems to be accompanied by a personal memory of his, so I guess it was a personal assessment, and it helps explain some of his lack of confidence.

I lean towards personal assessment because of his continual thoughts about "why would Dany want me at all?" Poor guy.

I agree the girl was probably not being hurtful, but Quent seems to have taken his lack of looks to heart.

He has 3 girls literally clamoring to kiss him (well Gwyneth in time I suppose) and he takes that as a bad sign too. He's just self-deprecating to the extreme. Or is it self-pity? Either way, it's the death of desire, that much is clear.

I came up with the idea that the mummery chafed at Quentyn partially because he has a somewhat strict view of “honorable” behavior. To him, acting is probably too much like lying. But I think it is a very good point that he truly isn’t the natural leader personality, and that Gerris does a better job of it. Posing as the one in charge, when obviously not the dominant personality, would be suspicious.

I think the honor is an interesting shade of it too. If he knew his father well, he'd know that Doran is one of the biggest liars there is (or rather obfuscaters). Dornish in general are known to use dishonorable means for just ends. So if that is something that bothers Quentyn, he may be a bit of a deviation from the norm in terms of "national sentiment."

Finally something I feel professionally able to comment on: Quent’s leadership ability. As I stated above, I agree he displays intelligence, though he displays a lack of experience and confidence (which usually follows from experience). I can’t knock Quent’s desire to be contemplative. Weighing all the options is the mark of a good leader, though it is more strategic in nature than tactical. But where he fails is that he is unable to simply choose “the best” option. He needs something that he believes has a very good ability to succeed before he makes a move, which can be detrimental when you are on the clock, as Quent obviously is. He lacks, as you say, decisiveness. Quent is, at heart, a logistician rather than a tactician.

Hand of the King, not ruler himself. I'd love him on my council. I'd never vote for him though.

I also believe that the nature of the mission makes it somewhat difficult to communicate with mission control. This is one of those away missions where communications were going to be down from the start. Quent has the command. He’s on his own. He was given some more experienced help to start, but it seems he lost some important advisors before getting to Volantis. I’m turning to the opinion that Quent should never have been given the command of this mission to begin with.

Yes, very much so. Doran's list of options were thin though. I wonder if he [Doran] felt that Kendry and Cletus brought something to the table that would have balanced this mission out though. Keep in mind Cletus was originally playing the wineseller (another natural leader I suppose) and Kendry could have helped with the decisiveness of the risk. Doran I'm sure knows his son's weaknesses, which is why he told him to heed Kendry's council (experienced and traveled). So while it's very, very easy to be harsh on Doran for Quentyn-gate, we do need to keep in mind that those 3 early loses were unexpected and quite detrimental.

First (again... actually, fifth), a question I asked myself reading was "Is Quentyn that... unattractive or he's just pitying himself?". Because, let's be honest: Quentyn lives in a world that is very similar to ours, or at least, in his specific case, mine. "Caucasian" beauty is the standard for beauty (look how blue eyes and blond hair are praised by him and many others in ASOIAF). He looks Dornish and he feels lesser because of that. That's something I can have sympathy for. I look like a woman from my own region should look, yet, because I'm not tall, skinny, whiter and blonder, I'm not fit to be called beautiful and I'm not the target of mostly fashion or beauty products. I've been even called "exotic" (shouldn't the blonde white people should be called exotic here?) And I'm not exactly "ugly". Yet, when I was younger, I felt very inappropriate around guys, because, hey, if society said I was ugly, then I definitely was, right? For example, do you think that Pedro Pascal or Benjamin Bratt would be working in local TV? Doubtful. They don't look the "type".

Quentyn's case is not different. I'm sure there is nothing wrong with him. His mother was VERY impressed the first time she saw Doran, and Oberyn's charisma compensates for any kind of bad looks he could have had. Elia was not a stunning beauty like Arianne, yet, Rhaegar (the most "OMG!" guy really cared for her. Yet, poor baby feels like mud.

Well, the issue is that Quentyn's muddiness is corroborated by Barry, Dany, and Arianne. It's not saying there aren't some who will find someone good and dutiful attractive (like the girl who told him he had an "honest face"), but I'm just of the mind Ned has a bit more going on looks-wise than Quent. Should it matter? Not really. But I think his self-deprecation about appearance has foundation. He also lacks that which is most attractive: confidence. It's a bit of a self-perpetuation cycle, no?

He's like a kid having his first real job. My first real job... I'm sure my bosses were actually nice people but I hated them lot. Ugh...

Very good point. This is his first test, and I guess at 18 it doesn't seem unreasonable to ask it of him. In our world he might get canned or placed on some performance-improvement plan. The consequences here are a bit more dire.

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I lean towards personal assessment because of his continual thoughts about "why would Dany want me at all?" Poor guy.

Hmmmm. He undercuts himself from both ends. Does he believe he is not worth of "the most beautiful woman in the world" because he is unattractive? Or does he place all women on a pedestal in some way? It's strange since he's obviously had opportunity as sexual awakening, despite whatever negative body image he has. The Drinkwater twins episode would have been the end of me. It's also strange since he has this example of a free and sexual sister. Maybe that backfired?

He's just self-deprecating to the extreme. Or is it self-pity? Either way, it's the death of desire, that much is clear.

I feel that a lot of it stems from a view on sex that he seems to have developed. More than simple poor body image, he is submissive, and he believes sexual action should be limited to marriage and love. The death of his desire is due to his belief that his desire should be limited.

I think the honor is an interesting shade of it too. If he knew his father well, he'd know that Doran is one of the biggest liars there is (or rather obfuscaters). Dornish in general are known to use dishonorable means for just ends. So if that is something that bothers Quentyn, he may be a bit of a deviation from the norm in terms of "national sentiment."

I think the example of Doran is a good point. It seems in a way he is almost more like Ned 2.0 than Doran 2.0. Lying and acting just seems to be against his personality.

Hand of the King, not ruler himself. I'd love him on my council. I'd never vote for him though.

I guess a lot of that depends on who is the King/Queen. I think he would be a great compliment to someone like Arianne. But when I look at who I consider to be the most successful Hands, I come up with Tywin, Tyrion, and Bloodraven. They were all....a bit underhanded, and definitely capable of some creative solutions that Quent seems to have problems developing. I'm afraid that Quent could be about as successful as a Hand as Ned was, though Ned certainly had a unique and difficult problem to deal with.

I'd keep him where he is, in Sunspear. Nothing better than a loyal, dutiful Lord Paramount that is seemingly incapable of being underhanded or devious. If Arianne were to be Princess of Dorne, then Quent may be a good choice as Warden of the South. Maybe a good choice as Master of Laws too.

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Very good analysis. Since the discussion is already going on I will jump right into it:



First to the 'chafed' part, that led to him switching roles: I think you are overinterpreting it a bit. Quentyn is obviously introverted and when you are introverted dealing with other people is mentally exhausting, especially when you do not know them. Deceiving them is even more exhausting and unconfortable, so he switched roles with Cletus and Gerris, because they do not have the same problem. I agree that he is more confortable in a follower role than in a leading role, but that is not necessarily a matter of skill, but because leading does not come naturally for him, it requires concious effort. But that does not need to be a disadvantage. Related to this Gerris and Quentyn actually have a good synergy. They complement each other when having their discussions about their future approach, especially since Gerris is not exactly the most knowledgeable person when it comes to other cultures.



About the 'honorable' part, I agree. He is both dutiful and honorable and only breaks with the latter if he has no other option. But that is pretty much a given since even Doran called it treason. But I wonder how much of it is actually an Yronwood thing. He often thinks about Doran, but the Yronwoods are the ones who raised him for the most part. It actually is an interesting aspect to keep in mind for the future chapters since it will not be the last time he chooses to do something unhonorable. And his sense for duty leads to him never really thinking of anything else except his task for a longer time period. But above all it leads to a strong determination. Dishonor, danger and fear are bad, but they will not keep him from his task.



And about women: The problem is that he has pride, but that does not translate in general confidence. In addition to this he is not especially good looking and has an approach which is pretty much a 'worst-case-approach'. He thinks about what could happen in the worst case and forms his opinion around that. Combine that with him being very conscious of his duties or the view of what he should live up to and general inexperience with women and introverted personality and it is not especially difficult to see his problem. That is not being helped by the situation he is currently in and the enormous expectations he has to carry. Which is related to Daenerys and thus fuels his insecurities even more. Keep in mind that we almost always see the characters in extraordinary difficult circumstances, so such things are magnified even more.



As a side observation: This chapter is a really big infodump about Volantis.



Edit: Could historic figures stop burning their gigantic fleets?


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First (again... actually, fifth), a question I asked myself reading was "Is Quentyn that... unattractive or he's just pitying himself?".

I agree with you here. This is a guy who doesn't conform to the Westerosi ideal of masculinity. Nor the Dornish one either (everyone wants an Oberyn not a Doran. Fortunately Oberyn had enough to share around.) Quent's angst over the issue is natural. It's the same body issues women in today's society have to deal with. He sees all these buff dudes at the tourneys. Then there's him, the little dude. Westeros in general has an absolute fetish for the warrior type. Brains not so much.

I think looks-wise, Doran and Quentyn are the type who grow into their looks though which explains Doran's wooing of Mellaria. Charisma goes a long way. Quentyn has a lot in common with Doran, but he is not yet wise enough to be comfortable in his own skin like Doran is. That makes a huge difference. Doran is the sort who turns these negatives into strength. If I look weak, logically my opponents will think I'm weak. Being underestimated is quite useful. Quentyn at the moment is worrying these negatives mean he's not up to the task of following in Doran's footsteps. That's a key difference between them perhaps, though I think Quentyn has enough about him to learn this as long as he doesn't do anything daft...

Is "bold" the right word? Certainly we'll get to that section but I read it as desperation. Just as his desperation to reach Dany may have even eclipsed his safety concerns about Adventure. That's a good point relating this to the DT incident though. It makes me lean more towards thinking that had Gerris not suggested anything, Quentyn might have been willing to risk it. So yeah, good at calculating risk, but uh...not-strategic in acting on his calculations? Fair?

I'm of the mind that there was limited interaction. Obvoiusly Quentyn's been around his cousins enough to worry about their scorn (awkward family dinners for Doran's nameday?), but as Doran said, Anders acted as far more of a father. Keep in mind though, the kid maybe got that letter from Doran at 9 which stated he'd rule Dorne one day. This is right around when he was sent to Yronwood, so that definitely colored his focus and his aspirations (to be daddy). There's worse role-models to have.

I would say desperate is a better word definitely. The reason I use bold is to highlight that while these decisions may not have been wise I think it's really worth emphasizing they are gutsy moves. I always thought of Quentyn as a fearful and desperate character but I'm noticing thanks to your analysis and this re-read that his own personal safety never seems to be a source of doubt. I never gave him credit for that personally, so I feel like I underestimated him, but yeah his actions later are considerable more to do with desperation than boldness. But they are pretty bold...

I think you've summarised the leadership style of Quentyn really nicely and the parallels to Doran make me think Quent's chapters are supposed to give us a real insight into Doran. Obviously this would be impossible elsewhere. Arianne isn't supposed to understand him, that's the root of her problems. Areo doesn't seem to think too deeply into things. Doran is not a POV. In Quent's chapters I feel like we're getting an insight into Doran's emerging personality. Quent's natural progression gets interrupted of course, so we don't get an insight into Doran at the peak of his powers, but for me the sheer amount of thought Quentyn puts into every issue is very characteristic of his old man. Think of how Doran must feel grappling with the bigger issues that take a lot more thought.

I tend to agree with the limited interaction thing. Kids in Westeros seem to take after their parents regardless of their education. It's sad that his role model would be a distant father he never sees. Must make it considerably harder to follow in his footsteps so we have to give Quentyn credit for apparently getting so close. Doran is a great role model for Quentyn, but if he's emulating him from afar he can't possibly emulate the person. So he's trying to emulate the legend of Doran and given that he's held in such high esteem even by his enemies that's a lot harder to do. Bit of a millstone round the neck.

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First to the 'chafed' part, that led to him switching roles: I think you are overinterpreting it a bit. Quentyn is obviously introverted and when you are introverted dealing with other people is mentally exhausting, especially when you do not know them. Deceiving them is even more exhausting and unconfortable, so he switched roles with Cletus and Gerris, because they do not have the same problem. I agree that he is more confortable in a follower role than in a leading role, but that is not necessarily a matter of skill, but because leading does not come naturally for him, it requires concious effort. But that does not need to be a disadvantage. Related to this Gerris and Quentyn actually have a good synergy. They complement each other when having their discussions about their future approach, especially since Gerris is not exactly the most knowledgeable person when it comes to other cultures.

Yeah, that's a good point about introversion/vs. extroversion. In general operating in the social sphere seems to be a source of discomfort. It sounds like Cletus and Quentyn would have complemented each other well too. I think it's really touching that although Quentyn lives in his head and is touching, his friends, though dissimilar and boisterous, are quite fond of Quent and see his talents.

About the 'honorable' part, I agree. He is both dutiful and honorable and only breaks with the latter if he has no other option. But that is pretty much a given since even Doran called it treason. But I wonder how much of it is actually an Yronwood thing. He often thinks about Doran, but the Yronwoods are the ones who raised him for the most part. It actually is an interesting aspect to keep in mind for the future chapters since it will not be the last time he chooses to do something unhonorable. And his sense for duty leads to him never really thinking of anything else except his task for a longer time period. But above all it leads to a strong determination. Dishonor, danger and fear are bad, but they will not keep him from his task.

I mean, I don't really view "honor" as an overriding trait of House Yronwood, especially given that they rebelled thrice during the BF stuff. I think for both Yronwood and Martell, the good of Dorne comes first and foremost. Doran did call it "treason," didn't he, and Anders was well aware of this too. I do think Anders's influence vs. Doran's is going to be very interesting to keep examining as we move forward.

I think looks-wise, Doran and Quentyn are the type who grow into their looks though which explains Doran's wooing of Mellaria. Charisma goes a long way. Quentyn has a lot in common with Doran, but he is not yet wise enough to be comfortable in his own skin like Doran is. That makes a huge difference. Doran is the sort who turns these negatives into strength. If I look weak, logically my opponents will think I'm weak. Being underestimated is quite useful. Quentyn at the moment is worrying these negatives mean he's not up to the task of following in Doran's footsteps. That's a key difference between them perhaps, though I think Quentyn has enough about him to learn this as long as he doesn't do anything daft...

Exactly. Doran counts on being underestimated and uses it to his advantage time and time again. Quentyn feels perceived as weak and gets upset/self-deprecating. I feel like Quentyn really needed time to hone his skills and understand his own advantages more, but necessity demanded that he was dispatched when he was. It's sad.

As for wooing Mellario, my own head-canon is that she's a bit of a dour and repressed individual herself (in keeping with the TWOIAF description of Norvos), but this is perhaps a better convo for the Debates.

I think you've summarised the leadership style of Quentyn really nicely and the parallels to Doran make me think Quent's chapters are supposed to give us a real insight into Doran. Obviously this would be impossible elsewhere. Arianne isn't supposed to understand him, that's the root of her problems. Areo doesn't seem to think too deeply into things. Doran is not a POV. In Quent's chapters I feel like we're getting an insight into Doran's emerging personality. Quent's natural progression gets interrupted of course, so we don't get an insight into Doran at the peak of his powers, but for me the sheer amount of thought Quentyn puts into every issue is very characteristic of his old man. Think of how Doran must feel grappling with the bigger issues that take a lot more thought.

Yeah, that's a good point. If we look at Quent as kind of an inexperienced and less-confident Doran, we still get an idea of how someone highly intelligent...but uncharismatic might approach situations. However, I would argue that Arianne basically is Doran (and will continue to argue that), so I think her own cognitive processes are even better insight into a day in the mind of Doran. Quent does give us a different window though, and it's a notable one.

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First off: Thank you, Chebyshov, for kicking off the reread with such an insightful analysis! I don’t think you were too harsh on Quentyn at all. In fact, I came away from your essay feeling even deeper empathy for Quentyn than I already did. Perhaps it’s because I’m a very duty-bound person myself, but your emphasis upon Quentyn’s own sense of being put into a situation he would never have chosen, of being asked to do things for which he doubts his own abilities made me really identify with him and appreciate what GRRM has done in writing this character. It’s easy to say “Doran should never have sent Quent on this mission, given Quent’s ill-suitedness to the task” but the fact is that he did, and we’re given this very realistic portrait of how Quentyn will cope with the reality into which he’s been thrown. Also, Chebyshov, I liked your use of the term “desperation” to describe Quentyn’s mode. It makes me wonder if this isn’t prefiguring some desperation on Doran’s part in the next book(s), as things start to very much go not according to plan.



Raving Stark the Mad: I really liked what you had to say about Quentyn putting women on pedestals, and never considering that even Queens are women, too, and want the things that other women want. In fact, I’d say this is rather similar to his relationship to Doran, who is The Father, rather than a human being. Now, I’d have to say that this latter may be a product of his age: from my experience working with college students, the shift toward understanding that our parents are human beings who make mistakes and who are subject to doubt and confusion tends to happen as we reach full adulthood, in late teens or early twenties. Til then they are treated as if they are gods, whose ways, however mysterious, are law.



Comparisons: I like your comparison to Ned, JCRB, and of course the comparisons to Arianne and Doran are key to our understanding of the Dornish arc, and I’ve quite enjoyed everyone’s comparisons so far. Two other comparisons also struck me in this chapter, that might also help illuminate what is distinctive in Quentyn’s character. First, to Aegon. We see Quentyn thinking several times of what sort of reception he’ll get from Daenerys, and doubting that she would ever want to marry him, though he attempts to set these aside by the counterargument that despite his personal shortcomings, she’ll want to marry Dorne. Contrast this with Aegon’s shock when Tyrion suggests that Daenerys might be unmoved when he shows up like a beggar before her. To Aegon’s credit, despite a small temper tantrum he does take in Tyrion’s perspective, showing that he understands the need to be worthy of respect (it’s another matter whether Tyrion’s advice was correct, but that’s a subject for a different conversation). I think that we’ll see Quentyn come to a similar realization, and also take steps to make himself worthy of Daenerys’ regard.



The second comparison that came to mind was Theon, and here the contrast is quite strong. Both are their father’s heirs (if Quentyn actually received Doran’s letter), and both are “wards” but also hostages of the house historically hostile to their own. But Theon responds to this situation by becoming the smiler, all bluster and japes, extroverted and quite the lady’s man. So different from our Quent, who is introverted, to whom smiles don’t come easily. Theon’s bluster represses a crisis of identity: he betrays his foster brother and family for the sake of his distant Ironborn family that he hardly knew, in a bold plan that goes horribly wrong, and only far too late comes to realize that his Ironborn prince identity may not have been what he truly wanted or was. Quentyn doesn’t engage in any such betrayal, and he is deeply unenthusiastic about having to assume the role of the Dornish prince. It seems to me that he knows all along that in some way he doesn’t truly embody Dorne, that it’s not who he really is, though he forces himself to act as if it were so, despite his intuitions/knowledge to the contrary. It’s sad that he works so hard to make himself something that he’s not, instead of finding a way to use his own inherent strengths, or being placed in a situation where they might have been used.



And on this point, although Quentyn seems to have something of a “fake it til you make it” strategy, he’s not very good at faking it, and certainly not comfortable faking it. This is such a contrast to Doran and Arianne, who are both master mummers. Although Quentyn would make a perfect “grass to hide the snake” he doesn’t seem to have considered the ways in which his natural reserve and forbearance could serve as a public persona that he uses to his own ends.



But I think, too, that the "chafing at mummery" passage is also a subtle reminder that Quentyn is the one who is calling the shots on this mission: Quentyn doesn’t like the particulars of the facade, and he has the authority to decide who takes what roles. So, for all that Quent in some ways wants someone to tell him what to do so that he can obey (and I'd say that his sense of duty manifests often as obedience), when he doesn't like it he assumes his prerogative as Prince.



Seriously, can anyone think of a reason not to kiss a Drinkwater?

Because when you’re kissing the white one the green one sneaks up behind you and burns you? :frown5:



And here’s another question to consider: Why did GRRM choose to situate Quentyn’s first pov chapter with the mission already well underway, rather than giving us some glimpse of Quent back in Dorne? For many pov characters, we get a glimpse of them before they are thrown into crisis, and then get to see how they respond when faced with terrible circumstances. Why open with being stuck in Volantis?

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It’s easy to say “Doran should never have sent Quent on this mission, given Quent’s ill-suitedness to the task” but the fact is that he did, and we’re given this very realistic portrait of how Quentyn will cope with the reality into which he’s been thrown. Also, Chebyshov, I liked your use of the term “desperation” to describe Quentyn’s mode. It makes me wonder if this isn’t prefiguring some desperation on Doran’s part in the next book(s), as things start to very much go not according to plan.

I think Doran could easily be viewed as desperate when he dispatched Quentyn. Viserys's death was a huge game-changer for him. It was like everything he had been working towards went up in smoke (or a pot of gold, as he said). Doran saw this as the only viable option, for better or for worse. Quentyn's death is going to shake his world again, but fortunately Arianne now championing his cause is putting him back in a bit of a driver's seat.

...I feel like we may end up criticizing Doran a bit throughout this reread, as we did with Arianne. He's made questionable calls.

The second comparison that came to mind was Theon, and here the contrast is quite strong. Both are their father’s heirs (if Quentyn actually received Doran’s letter), and both are “wards” but also hostages of the house historically hostile to their own. But Theon responds to this situation by becoming the smiler, all bluster and japes, extroverted and quite the lady’s man. So different from our Quent, who is introverted, to whom smiles don’t come easily. Theon’s bluster represses a crisis of identity: he betrays his foster brother and family for the sake of his distant Ironborn family that he hardly knew, in a bold plan that goes horribly wrong, and only far too late comes to realize that his Ironborn prince identity may not have been what he truly wanted or was. Quentyn doesn’t engage in any such betrayal, and he is deeply unenthusiastic about having to assume the role of the Dornish prince. It seems to me that he knows all along that in some way he doesn’t truly embody Dorne, that it’s not who he really is, though he forces himself to act as if it were so, despite his intuitions/knowledge to the contrary. It’s sad that he works so hard to make himself something that he’s not, instead of finding a way to use his own inherent strengths, or being placed in a situation where they might have been used.

I'm going to push back on this a little, mostly because I think people are making a mountain out of a molehill in terms of the acrimony between Yronwood and Sunspear. "Hostage" is too strong a word to use for Quentyn. He is a ward in an act of good faith, more in keeping with Ned being Arryn's ward. Doran felt he needed to do that to pacify Ormond thanks to Oberyn's idiotic poisoning, but it was more an act to sure up support than a hostage demand. I don't think “but there is a blood debt, and Quentyn is the only coin Lord Ormond will accept” needs to be taken literally, but more, Doran saw this as the only way to ensure the Yronwoods would remain loyal.

And from what we've seen in AFFC/ADWD and the Arianne sample chapter, we have no reason to doubt their devotion to both Doran and Dorne as a whole.

Getting off that Yronwood/Martell sticking point, I do think it's notable that Quentyn doesn't once think about how his "mission"/Viserys's death means he no longer will rule all of Dorne. We've talked about how Arianne is unlikely to want to marry to become Queen of Westeros when Ruling Princess of Dorne is a better role. Quentyn does seem to have national pride, but he's also just fine to be told "no now you're going to marry someone and have to leave Dorne." He follows directives and doesn't question them, and I think you're on-point in saying that he knows he doesn't "truly embody Dorne." The idea of ruling in Sunspear was probably a source of unease for him growing up too.

And here’s another question to consider: Why did GRRM choose to situate Quentyn’s first pov chapter with the mission already well underway, rather than giving us some glimpse of Quent back in Dorne? For many pov characters, we get a glimpse of them before they are thrown into crisis, and then get to see how they respond when faced with terrible circumstances. Why open with being stuck in Volantis?

Well, given that the Dornish chapter are new to AFFC/ADWD, there would have been a timeline issue. Thanks to this post by Rhaenys_Targaryen, we can see that Quentyn set out months before the opening events of AFFC. That's perhaps a bit of a lame reasoning on my part, but it's one that makes sense to me. Narratively Quentyn's mission was supposed to be a surprise in AFFC for both Arianne and the reader, too. Best guess :dunno:.

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Comparisons: [..]First, to Aegon. We see Quentyn thinking several times of what sort of reception he’ll get from Daenerys, and doubting that she would ever want to marry him, though he attempts to set these aside by the counterargument that despite his personal shortcomings, she’ll want to marry Dorne. Contrast this with Aegon’s shock when Tyrion suggests that Daenerys might be unmoved when he shows up like a beggar before her. To Aegon’s credit, despite a small temper tantrum he does take in Tyrion’s perspective, showing that he understands the need to be worthy of respect (it’s another matter whether Tyrion’s advice was correct, but that’s a subject for a different conversation). I think that we’ll see Quentyn come to a similar realization, and also take steps to make himself worthy of Daenerys’ regard.

Oh, yes. Aegon and Quentyn have quite a parallel journey.

I think there is a very interesting contrast between the three current suitors of Dany who are from Westeros: Aegon, Quentyn and Victarion. First, Aegon and Quentyn are kids, they have barely seen blood and they are eager to prove they're grown men even though they aren't: Compare this (sorry for use a future chapter):

[..] "I am not a squire," Quentyn had protested when Gerris Drinkwater - known here as Dornish Gerrold, to distinguish him from Gerrold Redback and Black Gerrold, and sometimes as Drink, since the big man had slipped and called him that - suggested the ruse. "I earned my spurs in Dorne. I am as much a knight as you are."

But Gerris had the right of it; he and Arch were here to protect Quentyn, and that meant keeping him by the big man's side. "Arch is the best fighter of the three of us," Drinkwater had pointed out, "but only you can hope to wed the dragon queen."

with this:

Griff drew his longsword. "Yollo, light the torches. Lad, take Lemore back to her cabin and stay with her."

Young Griff gave his father a stubborn look. "Lemore knows where her cabin is. I want to stay."

"We are sworn to protect you," Lemore said softly.

"I don't need to be protected. I can use a sword as well as Duck. I'm half a knight."

"And half a boy," said Griff. "Do as you are told. Now."

The youth cursed under his breath and flung his pole down onto the deck. The sound echoed queerly in the fog, and for a moment it was as if poles were falling around them. "Why should I run and hide? Haldon is staying, and Ysilla. Even Hugor."

"Aye," said Tyrion, "but I'm small enough to hide behind a duck."

[..]

"You're a dwarf, " Young Griff said scornfully.

"My secret is revealed," Tyrion agreed. "Aye, I'm less than half of Haldon, and no one gives a mummer's fart whether I live or die." Least of all me. "You, though ... you are everything."

Both Quentyn and Aegon want to woo the Dragon Queen but the Dragon Queen is not a maid, nor a child, she's a woman (men, not women. Although, they're neither). They can't go and tell "please" (Q) or "do" (A). They both are virgins who cannot drive :dunno: Neither of them know how to treat with a women like Dany because they don't have experience in the subject. Or in any subject. Yet, they are the most important part of the plans. Quentyn is the Prince of Dorne and Aegon is the future King, yet, they are surrounded by men who are, even if unintentionally, superior to them and take the risks and decisions in order to protect them.

Victarion, otoh,

Victarion is his own man. He's not going to simply "woo" Dany and ask her for her hand. He's already killing the people she needs dead (this made me wonder how Martin wooed his wife... "look, darling... I've killed Robb Stark and his family!"). Also, traditions have changed :P :

"Ser Harwyn says those tales are lies." Lady Amerei wound a braid around her finger. "He has promised me Lord Beric's head. He's very gallant." She was blushing beneath her tears.

Jaime thought back on the head he'd given to Pia. He could almost hear his little brother chuckle. Whatever became of giving women flowers?

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This being my first ever joint re-read, I'm kind of in awe of you all. You lot really know your stuff.



@Hrafntyr - That was really insightful and I love the parallels you bring. One recurring theme of this series seems to be children trying to emulate almost legendary parental figures, and I wonder if the different experiences of Quent, Aegon, Robb, Tyrion, Jaime are GRRM trying to make a broader point on these issues. Anyway this post made me want to discuss a lot of things in detail, which is the sign of a boss point.



@Chebysov - The point you bring up about Doran is part of the reason I'm here. One of the things that has always puzzled me is how little Doran does to help Quentyn. Not even in ways I imagine he could have helped Quentyn. In actual ways GRRM showed us he could have helped Quentyn. Two spring to mind.



1. He's got actual books on dragons that he makes available to Arianne. Presumably that's because he thinks they'll be useful. So he has those resources, but when Quentyn actually goes to see dragons, he doesn't seem to have read them.



2. He's got experience of wooing a lady with unimpressive looks. Could some of his experience have been helpful?



I will take on board the point that Doran has probably had little contact with Quent up to this point, but this mission is supposedly very important to Doran. Doran is supposedly a master planner.



One of the things I often wondered is whether it mattered to Doran if this plan succeeded. Logically, there is strategic value in having a marriage proposal rejected by Daenerys. It reminds her of long-standing ties to Dorne and pretty much guarantees they'll be the last name on their shit list. When Daenerys gets to Westeros, she'll be doing Dorne's work for them, and he still has a spare kid to form another alliance with someone else later. A no is actually better than the yes. Also he hasn't had to publicly declare his support for her, so he doesn't incur the enemies he would if she said yes.



So these signs he might have been uncharacteristically slack may be signs of incompetence but I wonder if they might also be signs of a general apathy towards the plan. Quent is well protected so preparations have been made to ensure he gets to Dany, but maybe actually arrive and pop the question is all Quent needs to do for Dorne to benefit?



Also Quentyn seems an odd choice if your goal is wooing Daenerys, but he is certainly capable of remembering and asking a question. So if this is the ultimate goal, he suddenly looks like a much better choice.


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And here’s another question to consider: Why did GRRM choose to situate Quentyn’s first pov chapter with the mission already well underway, rather than giving us some glimpse of Quent back in Dorne? For many pov characters, we get a glimpse of them before they are thrown into crisis, and then get to see how they respond when faced with terrible circumstances. Why open with being stuck in Volantis?

I'm not sure if Quentyn was ever meant to be/was planned to be a POV character in the first place. His plot thread is linked to Dany's. The climax (though not resolution) of his arc takes place in Dany's POV.

I think making Quentyn a minor POV character let GRRM accomplish a couple of things. First, it allowed him to "lay up" the arc. Instead of a long-winded repeat of "this is who I am, this is where I have been, this is what I am doing" dialogue with Dany, we get a better sense of who he is by giving him some POV chapters before the climax. It simply works better to give him a few chapters of his own rather then completely introduce him in Dany's POV. I think GRRM is doing the exact same thing with Victarion.

Why start specifically in Volantis? I think it gave GRRM an opportunity to talk more about Volantis, and illustrate two of the key points that occured before Quentyn got to Slaver's Bay. Those two points are the decision to join the Windblown, and the attack by the pirates that caused Quent to lose some of his party. The deaths of his friends is simply referred to, and GRRM could have waited to refer to the decision to join the windblown in a latter chapter as well. But placing the first Quentyn POV chapter here allows him to Introduce Quent at a critical point, without waiting too long so that the majority of a chapter is rehashing what has already occured. The Windblown chapter later already has so much to rehash already. Imagine having to summarize everything that occurred in The Merchant's Man and earlier as well.

I think I may be getting ahead of the discussion, because I think in order to make this determination, we have to take a look at Quent's entire arc, rather then just the first chapter. Thus, it makes more sense to address this more fully after Julia closes us out.

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