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Lord Varys

[SPOILERS] The Dance (unabridged version) including the reign of Viserys I

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56 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

I expect Daeron and Tessarion originally stayed in Oldtown. The boy was barely fourteen, like Jace, in early 129 AC.

If true, that should have been mentioned.

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1 minute ago, The Grey Wolf said:

If true, that should have been mentioned.

In a sense it is. Ormund would not ask for (additional) dragons if he had one at the time. Nor would the Blacks have been so confident of victory if they had known there was a dragon there - after all, they are all afraid of Tessarion when the dragon is there, no?

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It could have been phrased better.

Honestly, I feel like there should have been a dozen more major battles. That way the Dance's reputation and numbers would make more sense since the armies would be smaller but there would be more of them either in the field at the same time or were called up to replace those that fell in battle.

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On 1/10/2019 at 8:41 PM, The Grey Wolf said:

It could have been phrased better.

Honestly, I feel like there should have been a dozen more major battles. That way the Dance's reputation and numbers would make more sense since the armies would be smaller but there would be more of them either in the field at the same time or were called up to replace those that fell in battle.

I think the Dance of the Dragons can justify now noteworthy it is due to the large numbers of battles involving dragons, and the resulting deaths of so many dragons and Targaryens. It doesn’t need huge numbers of actual deaths in war to earn itself a reputation. 

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On 1/10/2019 at 8:41 PM, The Grey Wolf said:

It could have been phrased better.

Honestly, I feel like there should have been a dozen more major battles. That way the Dance's reputation and numbers would make more sense since the armies would be smaller but there would be more of them either in the field at the same time or were called up to replace those that fell in battle.

Tbh I feel like it's pretty obvious that the Lords in the Dance only sent the bare minimum. After all, why send 5 thousand men to get slaughtered by a dragon when you can send 500 knights/men at arms and a few hundred levies.

As evidence: during the Conquest, before Westeros knew how deadly dragons were, the Lannisters and Gardener's raised 55k; the biggest army ever raised. In the Conquest of Dorne, there are at least 60k men involved, probably more. And of course, RR and Wo5K sees armies numbering between 15-30k. But all three of those wars came after the dragons were long dead. The Dance is the only war with such low numbers and its conveniantly the only one in which both sides had dragons. That can't be a coincidence.

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The main thing I picked up on is that Jace was actually pretty decent. I mean I've always prefered the Black's over the Green's, but reading F&B really made me appreciate that Jace seemed to have the making of a decent ruler. He's smart, listens to advice, apparently charismatic and a good negotiator and brave. All told he seems to have been one of the most competent and rational characters in the whole war.

Also, he and Daeron struck me as quite similar. Really those two probably would have gotten along just fine if their relatives hadn't been at each others throats.

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I liked a lot of the additions/new knowledge:

-Knowing how the Battle of the Kingsroad went down. On the surface it didn't make sense that the Riverlords won but the reasoning is sound and the battle description is fun.

-Seeing how Cregan cowed everyone and an explanation for why the Lads didn't wield much power after the Dance despite having basically won the war.

-More detail about the smallfolk uprisings in KL and greater characterization for the participants, especially Ser Perkin.

-More characterization about Larys Strong. Definitely a kind of Littlefinger/Varys cross.

-More characterization about Alys Rivers and Mysaria.

-This is more beyond the scope of this topic but I found it more convincing that the Velaryons didn't lose all their wealth and naval strength in the BAttle of the Gullet as was commonly surmised.

 

However, I would have liked to know more about the nitty gritty government stuff in Viserys' reign. We know the players but we don't know what policies they made besides Daemon creating the Gold Cloaks, the Stepstones War, and the marriage/succession stuff. Otto Hightower was Hand for a long time and it would have been nice to know what his policies were. We get really detailed examinations of everyone's Small Council and policies except Viserys and his reign is kind of a blur.

 

I would have also liked more characterization for Rhaenys. She was an important and pretty fascinating character but we don't get any new info.

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2 hours ago, Adam Yozza said:

The main thing I picked up on is that Jace was actually pretty decent. I mean I've always prefered the Black's over the Green's, but reading F&B really made me appreciate that Jace seemed to have the making of a decent ruler. He's smart, listens to advice, apparently charismatic and a good negotiator and brave. All told he seems to have been one of the most competent and rational characters in the whole war.

Also, he and Daeron struck me as quite similar. Really those two probably would have gotten along just fine if their relatives hadn't been at each others throats.

All of Rhaenyra's kids were seemingly good people (minus poking an eye out). I guess despite everything she was a decent mom

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2 hours ago, Adam Yozza said:

Tbh I feel like it's pretty obvious that the Lords in the Dance only sent the bare minimum. After all, why send 5 thousand men to get slaughtered by a dragon when you can send 500 knights/men at arms and a few hundred levies.

As evidence: during the Conquest, before Westeros knew how deadly dragons were, the Lannisters and Gardener's raised 55k; the biggest army ever raised. In the Conquest of Dorne, there are at least 60k men involved, probably more. And of course, RR and Wo5K sees armies numbering between 15-30k. But all three of those wars came after the dragons were long dead. The Dance is the only war with such low numbers and its conveniantly the only one in which both sides had dragons. That can't be a coincidence.

The numbers in the Dance always bothered me, It makes sense why armies would be smaller to mitigate dragonroasting but then why are the Lannisters seemingly denuded of defenders when the Ironborn attack? Why do the lords struggle to combat the multiple threats that arise after the Dance if they held a lot of their armies back?

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12 minutes ago, SerBronnsMullet said:

The numbers in the Dance always bothered me, It makes sense why armies would be smaller to mitigate dragonroasting but then why are the Lannisters seemingly denuded of defenders when the Ironborn attack? Why do the lords struggle to combat the multiple threats that arise after the Dance if they held a lot of their armies back?

My thoughts exactly.

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Dalton Greyjoy had superior force concentration and projection. If you look at how he fell on the Westerlands, he concentrated his attack at one place, then withdrew, and struck another place after dealing some big blow. First Lannisport, wiping out much of the Lannister fleet (thereby hobbling their efforts to fight back), and then after that he made free with Fair Isle, with the Farmans and their vassals essentially the only effective force. Presumably his reavers bothered the coasts and caused trouble, but those were the only two really significant actions during the Dance, and they were essentially with minimal response because he was attacking with all his strength places that didn't expect those attacks and were ill-prepared to deal with them.

After that, the lack of a Lannister fleet is what led to a long delay in freeing Fair Isle, and the essential difficulties of projecting force over water when you don't have a massive fleet meant that the fight over the Iron Islands was pitched.

So, I don't find the argument regarding the Red Kraken particularly useful. It's pretty clear why he had his limited success, and it had to do with his strategic advantage of having a fleet and needing only to go after one target at a time whereas his enemies had to spread their defenses thinly because they didn't know what he was going to target.

As to the post-Dance mess, that has quite a lot of political dimension to it more than anything. The amount of infighting at court over control of affairs often hobbled responses. But what, really, did they have to deal with where raising an army of 60,000 men would really help? The biggest military actions of the regency are Velaryon's fleet actions on the one hand, and the fight to free Fair Isle and punish the ironborn on the other, and both again depended on the logistical capacity to project forces over water, which Westeros doesn't have all that much off. Stannis had many more fighting men on the southern shore of the Blackwater than he did with his massive fleet for a reason.

 

Edited by Ran

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4 minutes ago, Ran said:

Dalton Greyjoy had superior force concentration and projection. If you look at how he fell on the Westerlands, he concentrated his attack at one place, then withdrew, and struck another place after dealing some big blow. First Lannisport, wiping out much of the Lannister fleet (thereby hobbling their efforts to fight back), and then after that he made free with Fair Isle, with the Farmans and their vassals essentially the only effective force. Presumably his reavers bothered the coasts and caused trouble, but those were the only two really significant actions during the Dance, and they were essentially with minimal response because he was attacking with all his strength places that didn't expect those attacks and were ill-prepared to deal with them.

After that, the lack of a Lannister fleet is what led to a long delay in freeing Fair Isle, and the essential difficulties of projecting force over water when you don't have a massive fleet meant that the fight over the Iron Islands was pitched.

So, I don't find the argument regarding the Red Kraken particularly useful. It's pretty clear why he had his limited success, and it had to do with his strategic advantage of having a fleet and needing only to go after one target at a time whereas his enemies had to spread their defenses thinly because they didn't know what he was going to target.

As to the post-Dance mess, that has quite a lot of political dimension to it more than anything. The amount of infighting at court over control of affairs often hobbled responses. But what, really, did they have to deal with where raising an army of 60,000 men would really help? The biggest military actions of the regency are Velaryon's fleet actions on the one hand, and the fight to free Fair Isle and punish the ironborn on the other, and both again depended on the logistical capacity to project forces over water, which Westeros doesn't have all that much off. Stannis had many more fighting men on the southern shore of the Blackwater than he did with his massive fleet for a reason.

 

The Crown can only muster up a few thousand to put down the civil war in the Vale and the Stormlords seemingly struggle with the Dornish raiders.

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That begs the question of why the Lannisters, Farmans, and Kennings lack a big fleet despite living next to the Ironborn and have more than enough resources.

Also, the text itself (either F & B or TWOIAF) says that the Westerlands were "thinly defended" because of Lord Jason taking so many east so that dog won't hunt.

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Just now, SerBronnsMullet said:

The Crown can only muster up a few thousand to put down the civil war in the Vale and the Stormlords seemingly struggle with the Dornish raiders.

Another good point.

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2 hours ago, SerBronnsMullet said:

The Crown can only muster up a few thousand to put down the civil war in the Vale and the Stormlords seemingly struggle with the Dornish raiders.

The Crown sent a thousand men to the Vale because it wasn't believed more was needed, not because it couldn't muster it. After that, it sent 9,000 men under a royal banner, men who had to take the high road through the mountains when we know how difficult that is even for a small group. It seems perfectly sensible and hardly a small army to me, but mileage seems to vary. There appear to have been thousands more involved in the naval portion as well... I mean, just how large of an army do you expect them to send? Do they really want to wait a year to gather a hundred thousand men from all corners of the realm? Why?

The Stormlords have always struggled with Dornish raids. That's why the Marchers have such notable castles.

As to "thinly defended", that was the heavily compressed Dance in TWoIaF. It was based on the exact same text you see in F&B, but we used "thinly defended" as Yandel's shorthand explanation; Lannisport's excellent infantry was no longer on hand, making Lannisport vulnerable, and that led to a loss of a fleet, and that led to the loss of Fair Isle. F&B is a much fuller account, and you will not find "thinly defended" therein because there's more room to explain.

Edited by Ran

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After re-reading the Dance, I do wish that George had kept Jace around longer. He was a really interesting character, and was a kind of Rhaegar-Robb character, the prodigal son who had the potential to save the realm.

I've pondered what the turning point for Rhaenyra's downfall was, and it seems to have been when she called for the dragonseeds to be imprisoned. Aside from losing Nettles and (mostly) Addam as dragonriders, it also cost her the Velaryon fleet and set in motion Daemon's death. The way that GRRM describes Mysaria in the scene where she tells Rhaenyra that Nettles is a traitor is particularly menacing--and rather Bloodraven-esque--so I'm inclined to believe she was working against the Blacks at this point.

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7 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

After re-reading the Dance, I do wish that George had kept Jace around longer. He was a really interesting character, and was a kind of Rhaegar-Robb character, the prodigal son who had the potential to save the realm.

He actually becomes even more promising in FaB after his age is corrected and he is a full year younger than back in TPatQ ;-).

But I think it would have been great if he and the other children had been flashed out some more. TDotD is sort of between TSotD and Jaeharys & Alysanne/the Regency material insofar as detailed characterization is concerned. You really see how George climbed to a different level of detailed when the Dance started - and that amount of detail is maintained and even enlarged when he writes about the regents and the Old King.

The book would have been much better if we had had the same amount of detail in HotD, then a lot of exposition about the Starks, the Arryns, the Baratheons, Lannisters, etc. we get in DotD could have been used to focus more on characterization.

But I recall that I speculated and suggested that it would have been cool if Rhaenyra's consort - the father of Aegon III and Viserys II - would have survived the Dance to have played some role during the reign of his son. A similar thing could also have been the case for one of Rhaenyra's older sons if, say, the boy given up his claim to the throne or he had been missing in action/presumed dead when Aegon III was crowned.

7 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

I've pondered what the turning point for Rhaenyra's downfall was, and it seems to have been when she called for the dragonseeds to be imprisoned. Aside from losing Nettles and (mostly) Addam as dragonriders, it also cost her the Velaryon fleet and set in motion Daemon's death. The way that GRRM describes Mysaria in the scene where she tells Rhaenyra that Nettles is a traitor is particularly menacing--and rather Bloodraven-esque--so I'm inclined to believe she was working against the Blacks at this point.

Gyldayn himself cites the death of Prince Maelor as such a turning point, but that isn't really convincing to me.

The crucial point leading to her loss of KL certainly was her mistrust of the Nettles and, especially, Addam Velaryon. If she had left Nettles and Daemon alone and had flown with Addam, Joffrey, and their dragons to deal with the traitors at Tumbleton, things would have changed very quickly. And we can say that Addam's army would have been much larger if the queen herself had bothered to personally recruit men to help her avenge the loyalists at Tumbleton.

However, it is also made quite clear by the unfolding of events that the only crucial mistake she made was insisting on the return to Dragonstone. Had she continued to the Vale or White Harbor she would have been still alive when her armies won the war - and she may have even acquired a powerful prince consort in Cregan Stark along the way. In the end, she made only one crucial mistake. And she couldn't have foreseen what had transpired on Dragonstone.

I started a thread shortly after FaB came out about Mysaria's looks and actions during the Nettles. It find the fact that Mysaria is dressed in Targaryen red-and-black very ominous - it means something that Gyldayn/George bother giving that description there. Could be that this is a clue that she sees herself as Daemon's true wife, but could also be that this is a clue that she is of Targaryen blood/descent herself, i.e. a daughter of Princess Saera born in Lys, possibly fathered by a sailor or the captain of the ship she took to the Free City (Mysaria's age when she first shows up allows such a scenario).

In that context Mysaria's own ambitions would be more clear.

The reason why she vilifies Nettles in her talk with Rhaenyra likely has little to do with Black/Green nonsense (she remains in Rhaenyra's service and is unable to switch sides) but rather a personal issue with Daemon. I think that Nettles wasn't Daemon's lover (or not only his lover) but rather his daughter. And Mysaria couldn't accept the fact that Daemon was giving this ill-begotten daughter the affection and love he never gave the child she lost because of Daemon.

Rhaenyra's own rather mad reaction over the Nettles issue also implies that she was incapable of accepting that Daemon was preferring a lowborn bastard girl to her and Mysaria - because it seems clear that Rhaenyra accepted Daemon's continued affair with Mysaria.

Daemon's own reaction when he reads the letter also implies he saw through all that - he knows that Mysaria is the one behind Rhaenyra's command.

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