Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Alright, I get so angry at fact that second part of the book was not avalaible in my country that I bought online e-book in english.

My conclusion after finishing reading Dance of the Dragons:

Honestly, except poor Helaena and young Daeron, it seems that all Viserys children were absolutely terrible, with Aemond taking prime with killing all Strongs for surrendering Harrenhal to Daemon. I still consider Rhaenyra to be on par with Aegon, but it's just my personal opinion, so it doesn't matter much. Both were vengeful, unwilling to compromise with their enemies and threatened people with mutilation and torture. It seems that they all inherited lack of competence and stupidity from their father Viserys. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Paxter Redwyne said:

Honestly, except poor Helaena and young Daeron, it seems that all Viserys children were absolutely terrible, with Aemond taking prime with killing all Strongs for surrendering Harrenhal to Daemon. I still consider Rhaenyra to be on par with Aegon, but it's just my personal opinion, so it doesn't matter much. Both were vengeful, unwilling to compromise with their enemies and threatened people with mutilation and torture. It seems that they all inherited lack of competence and stupidity from their father Viserys. 

Oh, thanks to the Maris episode I actually have a newfound sympathy for Aemond. He is better than Aegon II. Aemond is ruled by his strong emotions, very much like his uncle in his youth, and I'm willing to see this as a mitigating factor. He didn't want to kill Luke at first. Aegon II shows no such sympathetic traits at all. And if we were to judge the Strongs by Lord Larys then Aemond did his house and Westeros a favor by eradicating them...

Daeron also gets a cruel streak - or do we say the town of Bitterbridge deserved to be cruelly sacked just because of Maelor?

But in the end - the Dance was just a pointless succession war. There was no smart/good player there (aside from Corlys Velaryon, perhaps, the Tyrells), and the idea that the main players were supposed to be sympathetic was never very convincing. After all, smart people would have found a way to avoid bloodshed. Compassionate people wouldn't have warred against their own family.

We see how things can go differently both with Jaehaerys and Rogar/Rhaena - who could have clashed on behalf of Aerea easily enough - and Corlys/Rhaenys back in the day. They could have gone to war in 101 or 103 AC, too.

Viserys I is still a good guy, though. He cared for his family and tried to make peace. Only a very twisted father would have settled issues by killing half of his family - which, considering the characters of his family - would have been the only way to create a peace here - the peace of a graveyard.

And just as we don't blame the Conqueror for Maegor's reign of terror, we should not lay the bulk of the blame at Viserys' feet. He shares part of the blame, but he is not responsible for his children and wife and brother developing such a hidden hatred for each other that they would burn the Realm and kill each other. Very few parents expect their children to do that.

And that Alicent never loved her royal husband and always used him for her own ends, and the ends of House Hightower (I was giving her the benefit of the doubt until I read that, thinking that the driving force here must have been Otto - and I still think he is the one to be blamed the most of the entire charade):

Quote

In her last days the Queen Dowager seemed to become more lucid. “I want to see my sons again,” she told her septa, “and Helaena, my sweet girl, oh…and King Jaehaerys. I will read to him, as I did when I was little. He used to say I had a lovely voice.” (Strangely, in her final hours Queen Alicent spoke often of the Old King, but never of her husband, King Viserys.) The Stranger came for her on a rainy night, at the hour of the wolf.

Her focus on Jaehaerys I there also may give more credence to the rumors that she did more than just read to him back in the day. Perhaps she wasn't actually his mistress/whore, but it seems if there was a Targaryen she was ever in love with it was him, not Viserys I. And that gives the whole thing a very cruel twist, because it is quite clear that Viserys actually was in love with Alicent. This fact is Rhaenyra's justification to spare Alicent's life when she takes KL.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Viserys I is still a good guy, though. He cared for his family and tried to make peace. Only a very twisted father would have settled issues by killing half of his family - which, considering the characters of his family - would have been the only way to create a peace here - the peace of a graveyard.

Viserys was a good person, but a bad king. He was completely oblivious to scheming of his own brother, his wife, father-in-law and daughter. His reign which begun with such promise, ended with the realm poised for civil war. In just over 25 years, Viserys had fundamentally undermined the peace and stability engineered by his granfather and ensured that the very succession crisis he had hoped to avoid would come to pass. Had he truly desired to make Rhaenyra his heir, he should have never remarried after Aemma’s death. By fathering trueborn sons on Alicent Hightower, Viserys grossly complicated the issue. He can also be faulted for his failure to check the power of the “green" faction at court. He had every reason to expect that Otto would support of his grandsons’ claims, yet he specifcally recalled Ser Otto as Hand when he himself was at the end of his life. Had Viserys made clear that Rhaenyra was of a specifically higher rank that Aegon, Aemond, or Daeron – by giving them to the Faith, sending them to the Citadel, training them for the Kingsguard, or marrying them to Westerosi heiresses to serve as prince consorts – the green faction would not have had so powerful a footing at the time of the Dance. Instead, the genial Viserys allowed Aegon and Helaena to marry in Targaryen fashion. 

Edited by Paxter Redwyne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Jaehaerys Tyrell said:

What choice did Rhaenyra have?

She could have chosen a man with Valyrian traits as the father, it would have been very easy. Rhaenyra was dumber than Cersei in that instance, I think that tells a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Paxter Redwyne said:

Viserys was a good person, but a bad king. He was completely oblivious to scheming of his own brother, his wife, father-in-law and daughter. His reign which begun with such promise, ended with the realm poised for civil war. In just over 25 years, Viserys had fundamentally undermined the peace and stability engineered by his granfather and ensured that the very succession crisis he had hoped to avoid would come to pass. Had he truly desired to make Rhaenyra his heir, he should have never remarried after Aemma’s death. By fathering trueborn sons on Alicent Hightower, Viserys grossly complicated the issue. He can also be faulted for his failure to check the power of the “green" faction at court. He had every reason to expect that Otto would support of his grandsons’ claims, yet he specifcally recalled Ser Otto as Hand when he himself was at the end of his life. Had Viserys made clear that Rhaenyra was of a specifically higher rank that Aegon, Aemond, or Daeron – by giving them to the Faith, sending them to the Citadel, training them for the Kingsguard, or marrying them to Westerosi heiresses to serve as prince consorts – the green faction would not have had so powerful a footing at the time of the Dance. Instead, the genial Viserys allowed Aegon and Helaena to marry in Targaryen fashion. 

HotD makes it clear that Aemon and Baelon's death and the Great Council laid the seeds for the Dance. That's why the piece starts with all that. And there is also a reason why George decided that the Great Council took place at Harrenhal - just as there is a reason why the great tourney of the Year of the False Spring took place at Harrenhal. Harrenhal is cursed, and holding a Great Council can be seen, in a sense, the Realm being curse. Nothing good came out of the Great Council, just as basically nothing good came out of the tourney at Harrenhal.

Jaehaerys I postponed the Dance, he did not prevent it. He should predeceased his two sons. That could have brought stability and certainty.

Viserys I certainly adds to the confusion, but his own succession issue stems from the Great Council - he has to make a decision between Daemon and Rhaenyra, because who comes before whom there is unclear now (or at least very controversial, in part because Daemon is thought to be unfit to be king).

How much uncertainty there was is obvious that 'the Young King' had to rule on his own succession while he was just two years king and not yet thirty - what other monarch had to do that?

Declaring something to be 'a bad king' just because he couldn't prevent a succession war which broke out after his own death - or couldn't see through the lies and false smiles of the people around him - is raising to goal posts far too much for my taste.

For one, Viserys had no hindsight knowledge. Claiming he should have known what his dear children, brother, and wife would do after his death is nonsense. That's like claiming Aegon I had to know that Maegor would later usurp the place of Aegon's grandson, or that Robert had to know that Stannis and Renly would try to steal the throne of his son when he made them lords of Dragonstone and Storm's End, respectively.

The man clearly knew that his family members weren't getting along, but that's neither knowledge nor guarantee that they would try to kill each other as soon as he was dead nor that they would plunge the Realm into civil war. It is also quite clear that this whole plot for the coup must have been a very hidden plot, one that really only came on the table when Viserys actually died. Even Aemond asks the KG whether Aegon or Rhaenyra is going to sit the throne when they tell him about his father's death.

The idea that the man should have been content with Rhaenyra as his only heir is also nonsense. Have you taken a good look at the number of children that predeceased the Old King? Had Rhaenyra died without issue Viserys would have again been stuck with Daemon as his only heir. Your argument there is another argument with hindsight knowledge in mind.

Where Viserys certainly failed was in not taking more steps to ensure Rhaenyra's smooth succession. There he made a mistake. But even saying her had 'a good reason' to assume Otto would not do as he wanted him to do is actually quite silly. Viserys apparently trusted the man enough to believe he would do as he was bid, not as he himself desired - or else he wouldn't have made him Hand again.

The reason why Viserys I was actually a pretty good king - especially by comparison to the likes of Aegon II, Maegor, Rhaenyra, Aegon III, and Aenys - is that he actually gave his kingdom and his people 26 years of peace and plenty. That's his accomplishment, since he was the king. He is not, however, directly responsible for the actions of the people who started and fought the subsequent war.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

The reason why Viserys I was actually a pretty good king - especially by comparison to the likes of Aegon II, Maegor, Rhaenyra, Aegon III, and Aenys - is that he actually gave his kingdom and his people 26 years of peace and plenty. That's his accomplishment, since he was the king. He is not, however, directly responsible for the actions of the people who started and fought the subsequent war.

How much Viserys actually did to maintain that peace? Was he a good king, or was he simply lucky enough to rule after Jaehaerys’s long and prosperous peace that he rode the coattails as long as they would go? After all, Jaehaerys’s great innovations and infrastructure projects were undoubtedly as much a factor to keeping the peace as his diplomacy, but we don’t see much in the way of Viserys producing anything for King’s Landing or Westeros the way Jaehaerys did. 

Also I would want to point out that peace is not inherently superior to war.

Peace is a great achievement, but peace requires constant vigilance and support. A good peace is not simply an absence of war but a bustling of internal activity. 

While no single person can be counted singly responsible for the Dance of Dragons, I would say that Viserys was the most responsible one. 

I think we will just have to agree to disagree. After all, it's matter of personal opinion of how we perceive Viserys, heh.

Edited by Paxter Redwyne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Paxter Redwyne said:

How much Viserys actually did to maintain that peace? Was he a good king, or was he simply lucky enough to rule after Jaehaerys’s long and prosperous peace that he rode the coattails as long as they would go? After all, Jaehaerys’s great innovations and infrastructure projects were undoubtedly as much a factor to keeping the peace as his diplomacy, but we don’t see much in the way of Viserys producing anything for King’s Landing or Westeros the way Jaehaerys did. 

It doesn't really matter how much Viserys I was personally involved in all that - although it's quite clear that he maintained the peace because of his nature, Gyldayn repeatedly mentions that he was a man of peace, etc. If the most powerful Targaryen king had wanted to invade Dorne or crush the Free Cities or attack the Summer Islands, or do some other mad war thing, he most definitely could have done that.

Viserys I could also have just said 'Fuck you, grandpa!', abandoning all of Jaehaerys' projects, focusing on his own. Just as Daeron I suddenly came up with his own petty war project, or as Jaehaerys II and Aerys II kissed the reform agenda of Aegon V goodbye.

Quote

Also I would want to point out that peace is not inherently superior to war.

Peace is a great achievement, but peace requires constant vigilance and support. A good peace is not simply an absence of war but a bustling of internal activity. 

That sounds like a weird way to looking at things, especially in a medieval setting where war in no way profits most of the people - the commoners - who fight it and who suffer from it. The idea that there is an 'unjust' or 'bad peace' for people who will chafe under the yoke of lords and monarchs both in peace and in war doesn't really make sense to me, nor does - on a larger level - it make sense that a peace in a (mostly) united continent would in any way be less preferable to the people than constant infighting and civil war.

Basically, even if you support the ideology of 'just wars' then it really makes no sense to project that on the Martinworld setting, because nobody in the main series or FaB ever fought any war 'for the good of the people' or to free some other people from oppression. 

Quote

While no single person can be counted singly responsible for the Dance of Dragons, I would say that Viserys was the most responsible one. 

That really shifts the burden. People who actually want to and do fight wars are responsible for them, not people who just don't prevent others from (eventually/possibly) doing that. There was no natural law or force forcing Alicent/Otto/Aegon II and Rhaenyra/Daemon to do what they did.

They made those calls. One side could have yielded. They could have reached a compromise. They had as much free will there as Viserys had.

Quote

I think we will just have to agree to disagree. After all, it's matter of personal opinion of how we perceive Viserys, heh.

We are not that far apart. I also think he shares part of the blame, I'm merely also seeing that the peaceful reign he also counts for something. When you judge a ruler you don't just look on how his succession went.

I mean, if that were the criteria for Roman emperors then there would not be a single competent one because pretty much every succession there involved a smaller or larger blood bath to ensure that no rival pretenders and usurpers sprung up.

Edited by Lord Varys

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just finished reading the part of Fire and Blood about the Dance, Aegon really comes of as a giant asshole, I don't know who was worse between him and Aemond. Alicent sure did a good job raising those two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Geddus said:

I just finished reading the part of Fire and Blood about the Dance, Aegon really comes of as a giant asshole, I don't know who was worse between him and Aemond. Alicent sure did a good job raising those two.

In my complete ranking of the Targaryen kings Aegon II now has the second last place, behind Maegor and Aerys II with Aegon IV being the worst (I'm still buying George's assessment there that this is true).

But against Aegon II even Maegor and Aerys II look like sane and competent and well-meaning monarchs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, @Lord Varys, I gotta disagree with your assessment of Viserys I. The man was either lazy, a coward or heavily naive; possibly all three. He makes Rhaenyra heiress in place of his brother, then continues to insist on her being the heiress even in the face of fathering three sons. He knew that many Lords heavily objected to a daughter coming before a son and of the deep enmity between his first and second families (the 120 AC eye incident should have made it obvious in itself). Yet instead of picking Councillors that were known backers of Rhaenyra's rights he fills his Small council with his father-in-law (due to "familiarity", even though he was fired back in 109 AC for hounding the King over the succession!) and others who want to see Aegon succeed.  He made no attempt to remove his sons & wife from King's Landing (he could have easily built Aegon a seat and sent him there alongside his mother, for example) and instead basically banished his heiress from the capital. So in my view Viserys was either incredibly naive as to believe that Rhaenyra would succeed with no issue, too lazy to do anything to smooth out her accession or cowardly to cause his second family to get mad at him. The Dance of the Dragons could have absolutely been avoided if the King had any ounce of talent, backbone or wherewithal to see his succession change through. Instead he settled for a false peace between his two families for his lifetime and damn the consequences to the realm when he died.

BTW, was anyone else a bit disappointed to find that Viserys had no reason as to why he clung to the succession of Rhaenyra so heavily? I mean GRRM could have made given him a close relationship to his grandmother Alysanne, with the Prince agreeing her her belief that the eldest should inherit; or he could have made absolute primogeniture a tradition of Old Valyria and Viserys was merely restoring it. As it is now, Viserys looks like a stubborn fool who simply doesn't like being questioned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really don't care much about this succession issue. My assessment of Viserys I as a pretty good king is based on him actually continuing his grandfather's peace-and-plenty policies. Westeros thrived under Jaehaerys I, but it thrived even more under Viserys I. His was the golden reign, not the reign of Old King.

I don't think Viserys I did a good job on the succession issue, and with hindsight he should have known better. But he didn't have hindsight, did he?

I mean, can you guarantee that your children or you and your siblings won't rip each other to pieces over your inheritance or the inheritance of your parents? Such things happen in the best of family, and honestly the only way to resolve this issue would have been to kill Otto/Alicent/their children or Rhaenyra/Daemon/their children and the Velaryons. Things like favoring one side more, handing Aegon and his siblings to Faith or the Watch could have helped but it wouldn't have prevented conflict. Even with Rhaenyra or Daemon as Hand upon Viserys' death there would have been conflict.

Viserys I at least was able to preserve the peace until his death - which is also a pretty big feature. Overall, though, he is not much worse in the succession business than Aegon the Conqueror. After all, to ensure a peaceful reign for Aenys and his grandsons both Visenya and Maegor should have been garroted the moment the Conqueror closed his eyes. Allowing them to live meant trouble, and Aegon should have foreseen that, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I read I must say that I am rather amused more than disturbed by the lengths for essential character assassination of Aegon II that GRRM seems to be going to. I really am starting to feel that GRRM apparently took great offense at the idea of people favoring the Greens over the Blacks in the Dance of the Dragons.

Or at least that's what I see from it.

Edited by Lion of the West

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Lion of the West said:

From what I read I must say that I am rather amused more than disturbed by the lengths for essential character assassination of Aegon II that GRRM seems to be going to. I really am starting to feel that our dear GRRM is more moralist than I had thought and apparently took great offense at the idea of people favoring the Greens over the Blacks in the Dance of the Dragons.

Or at least that's what I see from it.

For all of GRRM's talk that "there were good men who were bad kings and bad men who were good kings" he never really gives us an example. Maegor I, Aegon II, etc. are all just plain bad. 

Also, for the record, I agree. GRRM goes out of his way to make the Greens incompetent and unsympathetic. For example, it's no coincidence that they were supported by the Peakes, Lannisters, and Brackens, two of which are his go-to asshole houses and the third always showing up only to be defeated (Dance, FBR).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

For all of GRRM's talk that "there were good men who were bad kings and bad men who were good kings" he never really gives us an example. Maegor I, Aegon II, etc. are all just plain bad. 

Also, for the record, I agree. GRRM goes out of his way to make the Greens incompetent and unsympathetic. For example, it's no coincidence that they were supported by the Peakes, Lannisters, and Brackens, two of which are his go-to asshole houses and the third always showing up only to be defeated (Dance, FBR).

I am with you 100%.

Edited by Lion of the West

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

For all of GRRM's talk that "there were good men who were bad kings and bad men who were good kings" he never really gives us an example. Maegor I, Aegon II, etc. are all just plain bad. 

Also, for the record, I agree. GRRM goes out of his way to make the Greens incompetent and unsympathetic. For example, it's no coincidence that they were supported by the Peakes, Lannisters, and Brackens, two of which are his go-to asshole houses and the third always showing up only to be defeated (Dance, FBR).

In case of Brackens I think GRRM might have obsession with making them worse than Blackwoods in nevery single instance. I don't think there might be any case where he made one of them more likeable than their Blackwood counterpart. He even made perfect Royce Blackwood whom Daella declined to marry only because he believed in Old Gods.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Paxter Redwyne said:

In case of Brackens I think GRRM might have obsession with making them worse than Blackwoods in nevery single instance. I don't think there might be any case where he made one of them more likeable than their Blackwood counterpart. He even made perfect Royce Blackwood whom Daella declined to marry only because he believed in Old Gods.

In the same book he also gives us Ser Olyver Bracken, a guy who broke his Kingsguard vows AND his NW vows. Sheesh. Cut them some slack GRRM.

Edit: The only decent Bracken I can think of is Ser Lyle of the Warrior's Sons and his only feat is the killing of Dick Bean, who is Dunk before Dunk was born.

Edited by The Grey Wolf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, The Grey Wolf said:

In the same book he also gives us Ser Olyver Bracken, a guy who broke his Kingsguard vows AND his NW vows. Sheesh. Cut them some slack GRRM.

And he criticised Tolkien for not making characters grey enough, lol. He is really bad at following what he says.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, Paxter Redwyne said:

And he criticised Tolkien for not making characters grey enough, lol. He is really bad at following what he says.

Pretty much. He also complains about Aragorn's tax policy yet we don't know jack s*** about what distinguishes the 7K culturally with the exception of Dorne, the Iron Isles, and the North. Speaking of the North, I call BS on them having no sense of pageantry. How the hell do they socialize if they don't dance, sing, etc.? 

Edited by The Grey Wolf

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They obviously do, as seen in the harvest feast on ACoK.

 

ETA: Couple of other points for the grousing. When George says characters are not grey enough in Tolkien, let's not pretend he means that all the orcs should have some pathos or whatever. Bad people who do bad things exist in Westeros. The point is that those characters who are viewed closely by the reader, who are really significant to the story, should have some explanation, something to bring humanity to their evil, whether it's the apparent brain tumor and addiction behind Gregor Clegane's psychopathy or Ramsey's cold and unpleasant upbringing behind his crude, cruel ambitions.

We never get inside Olyver Bracken's head, and do not know anything about him, just a handful of data-points. If he became a POV character in a novel, he might appear much more complicated -- still a bad person, but a bad person for human reasons. But he is not -- he is a historical figure briefly mentioned in a historical account for a couple of noteworthy things he does, which happen to look pretty bad, but we do not know the whys and hows.

As to "tax policy", I think it's obvious enough that George was using that as one example of a whole host of things that are involved in a kingdom, a whole host of things that Tolkien doesn't give a fig about. Lets not pretend that Westeros's governance is not far more sketched out than that of the governance of Gondor (or Numenor, or Rohan, or Lothlorien, or...), and that with George only really scratching the surface. We have multitudes of named offices, a sense of how taxes are collected, mints, tariffs and excises, wardenries, stewards and understewards, gaolers and undergaolers, etc., etc. It's incomplete, of course, but it's still much more than exists for Tolkien's work. This is not a knock against Tolkien, whom George honors, but rather an indication that George's inclinations are different than Tolkien's, and that's reflected in some of the aspects of the setting.

Edited by Ran

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Guys, George has written the Dance stuff years ago. Where do you get the idea that he ever intended to make Aegon II a gray (or good) character?

In addition, did you have any reason ever to believe or expect that a detailed depiction of the Dance would make the whole thing a balanced affair, where every side was equally in the right and equally in the wrong?

I don't find the Brackens to be vilified all that much in FaB, especially not during the Dance. They fight bravely at the Burning Mill and the Blackwoods are actually the guys doing shitty stuff there, despoiling septs, and in the end the side with the Blacks, following the lead of their liege lords.

That there are some houses that are historically not exactly great guys is hardly surprising, either. Enmity can be handed down through the generations, and there are those who know how to nurse grudges. There is likely going to be a pretty straight line from Unwin Peake to Gormon Peake. But had Unwin not been the utter disgusting guy he was House Peake may have gone down a different road. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×