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Mary Sue site article on the Velaryon casting


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I thought people would be interested in it even if they disagree:

https://www.themarysue.com/can-house-of-the-dragon-fully-handle-the-complexity-of-race-bending-corlys-velaryon/

Game of Thrones faced a lot of backlash for the lack of POC in the HBO series. Especially since the books by George R.R. Martin did feature characters of color whose roles were given to white characters when adapted for TV. House of the Dragon has been correcting that with the inclusion of a Black and Brown characters. Among the most important to the longer narrative is Lord Corlys Velaryon and his family.

Played by Black British actor Steve Toussaint, Corlys Velaryon is the husband of Rhaenys Targaryen and the wealthiest man in the realm. He in many ways plays a similar role to Tywin Lannister whose wealth and military power made him an important ally to the Throne. From the start of his casting, Toussaint faced harassment from fans that were upset about a Black person in the role.

“It seems to be very hard for people to swallow,” Toussaint said during an interview in Men’s Health. “They are happy with a dragon flying. They’re happy with white hair and violet-colored eyes, but a rich Black guy? That’s beyond the pale.”

He highlighted the positives of what it means to have someone like him and his family be at the center of Westeros. “What has been wonderful is for every toxic person that has somehow found their way into my timeline, there have been so many others who have been so supportive and been like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t wait, this is going to be great!'” Toussaint explained. “Even when we were doing certain scenes, there would be supporting artists who would come up and go, ‘It’s great to have this representation.'”

What makes Corlys interesting as a character is that he is not a passive character, subservient, or there to placate the white cast. He is a powerful leader, an advocate for the claim of his wife, and a proud man. Rarely do we get characters like this given a lot of nuance. It is easy for them to be written off as uppity due to them being outliers. Because we have so many different examples of representation, we can have this kind of character. However, as someone who has seen ahead what this kind of diversity tends to lead to—issues when it comes to later cast—but that will happen when it happens and we shall discuss it then.

Until then, my biggest disappointment is that we have not done the work of already creating Black characters in fantasy that have these qualities and that Corlys feels rare to us. It can be jarring at times to have Black and Brown actors dropped into white characters, because even in a diverse fantasy setting there can be cultural conflicts that don’t need to be racist(TM). Not to mention, we know that Westeros does have biases about Browner people as we saw with Dorne, the Dothraki, and other Brown coded groups.

Right now, when I look back at the fanart about Corlys they are almost all of the white figure in the books. I hope that we will get more of Black Corlys—but more importantly that fantasy writers write complex and interesting POC into their main cast, so that it’s no longer the case that the only way BIPOC actors get these roles is by being cast as a white character.

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22 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

I thought people would be interested in it even if they disagree:

https://www.themarysue.com/can-house-of-the-dragon-fully-handle-the-complexity-of-race-bending-corlys-velaryon/

Game of Thrones faced a lot of backlash for the lack of POC in the HBO series. Especially since the books by George R.R. Martin did feature characters of color whose roles were given to white characters when adapted for TV. House of the Dragon has been correcting that with the inclusion of a Black and Brown characters. Among the most important to the longer narrative is Lord Corlys Velaryon and his family.

Played by Black British actor Steve Toussaint, Corlys Velaryon is the husband of Rhaenys Targaryen and the wealthiest man in the realm. He in many ways plays a similar role to Tywin Lannister whose wealth and military power made him an important ally to the Throne. From the start of his casting, Toussaint faced harassment from fans that were upset about a Black person in the role.

“It seems to be very hard for people to swallow,” Toussaint said during an interview in Men’s Health. “They are happy with a dragon flying. They’re happy with white hair and violet-colored eyes, but a rich Black guy? That’s beyond the pale.”

He highlighted the positives of what it means to have someone like him and his family be at the center of Westeros. “What has been wonderful is for every toxic person that has somehow found their way into my timeline, there have been so many others who have been so supportive and been like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t wait, this is going to be great!'” Toussaint explained. “Even when we were doing certain scenes, there would be supporting artists who would come up and go, ‘It’s great to have this representation.'”

What makes Corlys interesting as a character is that he is not a passive character, subservient, or there to placate the white cast. He is a powerful leader, an advocate for the claim of his wife, and a proud man. Rarely do we get characters like this given a lot of nuance. It is easy for them to be written off as uppity due to them being outliers. Because we have so many different examples of representation, we can have this kind of character. However, as someone who has seen ahead what this kind of diversity tends to lead to—issues when it comes to later cast—but that will happen when it happens and we shall discuss it then.

Until then, my biggest disappointment is that we have not done the work of already creating Black characters in fantasy that have these qualities and that Corlys feels rare to us. It can be jarring at times to have Black and Brown actors dropped into white characters, because even in a diverse fantasy setting there can be cultural conflicts that don’t need to be racist(TM). Not to mention, we know that Westeros does have biases about Browner people as we saw with Dorne, the Dothraki, and other Brown coded groups.

Right now, when I look back at the fanart about Corlys they are almost all of the white figure in the books. I hope that we will get more of Black Corlys—but more importantly that fantasy writers write complex and interesting POC into their main cast, so that it’s no longer the case that the only way BIPOC actors get these roles is by being cast as a white character.

I find the problem with The Mary Sue is that we learn a lot more about the politics of the critic than we do about the show they’re criticising.

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6 hours ago, SeanF said:

I find the problem with The Mary Sue is that we learn a lot more about the politics of the critic than we do about the show they’re criticising.

Undoubtedly.

However, this article actually touches upon one of the things that doesn't get addressed much when dealing with this "controversy", which is the fact that the cultural warriors that seem to infest virtually every fandom with their attacks on whatever they perceive as woke or SJW this week make it actually hard to discuss these sorts of issues. Specifically, the actual racists and misogynists make it hard to talk about criticism in adaptations and changes (whether for or against) without running into them muddying the argument with their petty stupidity.

I think I summarized it best as, "I don't hate GHOSTSBUSTERS reboot because of the women or the actresses. I hate it because it wasn't funny and had some of the worst writing in a comedy I've ever seen."

A lot of people on Westeros.org have issues with the Corlys and Velaryon changes because it has a cascade effect backward and forward. Some people believe this means that the Targaryens can't have ever had any intermarriage with the Velaryon families before the events of the book or after. However, these things are issues that kind of are things that can't really go anywhere discussion wise because the change is already done and certainly isn't get retconned or changed going forward. Certainly, they're not going to recast Corlys or his children as white actors. As George R.R. Martin said, there's two canons with the show canon and the book canon but both need to be kept to.

Personally, I hope they make as minimum of changes to the geneology as possible and just basically, "roll with it." Steve is a fantastic actor and doing a great job with the character. I think there's room of discussing whether it was the best choice of houses (with positives and negatives to discuss) but the enitre argument is overshadowed by the nastiness of the assholes on the net. A authentic even handed debate is extremely hard to have and even if it is, well the only conclusion is, "Okay, well it was a bad idea/good idea but it's now going forward this way."

My thoughts at least.

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I might have been more bothered if the actor playing King Viserys or Daemon Targaryen were black; since the Targaryen's pale skin is mentioned in the books.  But for me, the story and the actors' ability to incarnate the character are the most important thing.

I like TV-Corlys just fine.  I don't care that he's not white.  Maybe his unnamed mother was a summer islander.  Steve Toussaint is good, his chemistry with Eve Best is good; so far they're a great power couple.

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On 9/3/2022 at 1:14 AM, C.T. Phipps said:

I thought people would be interested in it even if they disagree:

https://www.themarysue.com/can-house-of-the-dragon-fully-handle-the-complexity-of-race-bending-corlys-velaryon/

Game of Thrones faced a lot of backlash for the lack of POC in the HBO series. Especially since the books by George R.R. Martin did feature characters of color whose roles were given to white characters when adapted for TV. House of the Dragon has been correcting that with the inclusion of a Black and Brown characters. Among the most important to the longer narrative is Lord Corlys Velaryon and his family.

Played by Black British actor Steve Toussaint, Corlys Velaryon is the husband of Rhaenys Targaryen and the wealthiest man in the realm. He in many ways plays a similar role to Tywin Lannister whose wealth and military power made him an important ally to the Throne. From the start of his casting, Toussaint faced harassment from fans that were upset about a Black person in the role.

“It seems to be very hard for people to swallow,” Toussaint said during an interview in Men’s Health. “They are happy with a dragon flying. They’re happy with white hair and violet-colored eyes, but a rich Black guy? That’s beyond the pale.”

He highlighted the positives of what it means to have someone like him and his family be at the center of Westeros. “What has been wonderful is for every toxic person that has somehow found their way into my timeline, there have been so many others who have been so supportive and been like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t wait, this is going to be great!'” Toussaint explained. “Even when we were doing certain scenes, there would be supporting artists who would come up and go, ‘It’s great to have this representation.'”

What makes Corlys interesting as a character is that he is not a passive character, subservient, or there to placate the white cast. He is a powerful leader, an advocate for the claim of his wife, and a proud man. Rarely do we get characters like this given a lot of nuance. It is easy for them to be written off as uppity due to them being outliers. Because we have so many different examples of representation, we can have this kind of character. However, as someone who has seen ahead what this kind of diversity tends to lead to—issues when it comes to later cast—but that will happen when it happens and we shall discuss it then.

Until then, my biggest disappointment is that we have not done the work of already creating Black characters in fantasy that have these qualities and that Corlys feels rare to us. It can be jarring at times to have Black and Brown actors dropped into white characters, because even in a diverse fantasy setting there can be cultural conflicts that don’t need to be racist(TM). Not to mention, we know that Westeros does have biases about Browner people as we saw with Dorne, the Dothraki, and other Brown coded groups.

Right now, when I look back at the fanart about Corlys they are almost all of the white figure in the books. I hope that we will get more of Black Corlys—but more importantly that fantasy writers write complex and interesting POC into their main cast, so that it’s no longer the case that the only way BIPOC actors get these roles is by being cast as a white character.

Game of Thrones did feature characters of... "noncolor" whose roles were given to black characters when adapted for tv. Sallador Saan, the Lyseni sellsail is a prime example. Many of the Lyseni, especially the nobility are "of the purest Valyrian stock", purer than Targaryens who have mingled with Westerosi, especially with the Dornish who are the most mixed Westerosi population.

Also let's not use words such as white, black, person of color etc. Instead, let's use things such as "melanine advantaged person" for persons with more melanine on their(or whatever their preferred pronoun is) skin and "melanine disadvantaged person" for people who have less melanine. Let's catch the spirit of the age people!

 

Edit: oh, and just because the person who is cast for a "white"...ehm sorry, melanine disadvantaged character is also a melanine disadvantaged character, it doesn't cut it. Say, Kit Harrington (I've given the example of Dany's dark eyebrows too many times so Jon it is) had brown eyes instead and a face I wouldn't consider long instead of the Stark trademarks of grey and horsishly long. For some other adaptation, It may not have been so important but for ASOIAF series this is quite important as many families have their characteristic appearances that they have more or less preserved over the millennia. Emma D'arcy Milly Alcock doesn't look one bit like a valyrian to me and Matt Smith may barely pass for one, in a poorly lit room. Paddy Considine may have been the best cast among them as Viserys was plump and his face looks plumpish.

Edited by Corvo the Crow
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On 9/3/2022 at 12:14 AM, C.T. Phipps said:

Game of Thrones faced a lot of backlash for the lack of POC in the HBO series. Especially since the books by George R.R. Martin did feature characters of color whose roles were given to white characters when adapted for TV.

What characters are they talking about?

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15 hours ago, David Selig said:

Probably the Red Viper, I remember the typical ridiculous internet kerfuffle about this.

Most such people fooled themselves there. At best some Dornish look like southern Europeans ... they are not analogous to Hispanic and Latina folks in the Americas or the Caribbean. They also have no black ancestors, having no connection to the Summer Isles that we are aware of.

The Rhoynar have olive skin like the Myrmen ... but they interbred with the Dornishmen when Ten Thousand Ships arrived so even the Salty Dornishmen should be lighter skin than Nymeria and her companions were hundreds of years ago.

There are racial and culturals slurs against Dornish people north of the mountains, to be sure. But that's like racist slurs of Englishmen or WASP Americans against Irishmen - it is about a different culture, different customs, different manner of speaking. And long-standing resentment due to constant raids and such.

Most Dornishmen the Marchers have been fighting would have been Stony Dornishmen, anyway, folks who look very much like Andals and First Men north of the mountains.

(The whole discussion of the Sandy Dornishmen whose skin is allegedly burned brown by the sun - according to the Young Dragon's silly book - one shouldn't really take seriously, because that's basically the ridiculous pre-modern explanation as to why black people have dark skin.)

Edited by Lord Varys
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Random aside: The whole thing of Lysians all looking like Targaryens was one of the most disappointing things I've ever read in my entire life because it removed all of the "specialness" of the Targaryens and made them, "Oh and they look like Italians." Which is perhaps interesting in England but pretty much took the enormous wind out of the sales of any idea the Targaryens had any sort of specialness to their lineage looks wise.

Part of why it irritates the hell out of me is the fact that it makes the world (which is one of the largest in fantasy) feel so damned small. Especially since we're dealing with so many cities and cultures, in Essos especially, that have been cosmopolitan and interacting for thousands of years. How in the world could there be a Lysian look when it is already the descendant of a vast empire covering most of the world?

I get that "Black Valyrians" are a change to the book but I also don't see anything particularly weird about Black Valyrians existing as a racial subgroup. Why does there only have to be the white haired purple eyed Valyrians? It doesn't really register with me.

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On 9/4/2022 at 6:16 AM, Raksha 2014 said:

I might have been more bothered if the actor playing King Viserys or Daemon Targaryen were black; since the Targaryen's pale skin is mentioned in the books.  But for me, the story and the actors' ability to incarnate the character are the most important thing.

I like TV-Corlys just fine.  I don't care that he's not white.  Maybe his unnamed mother was a summer islander. 

The problem is that the plot is about a questionable paternity. In a world with no DNA test, where only distinctive physical traits can give away cheating.

The whole war was triggered by the fact that Laenor and Rhaenyra looked alike and that even though Harwin Strong was generically white, he looked different enough to give away his children.

If Corlys´ mother had been a Summer Island princess, it could have been perfectly respectable and made political sense. (Velaryons were trading far and wide). But the thing is, if Laenor was 1/4 black then Rhaenyra could have simply shrugged off having brunette children - you know, multiracial children, they are all around, a bit like Grandpa... There was a war because she could not.

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1 hour ago, Jaak said:

The problem is that the plot is about a questionable paternity. In a world with no DNA test, where only distinctive physical traits can give away cheating.

The whole war was triggered by the fact that Laenor and Rhaenyra looked alike and that even though Harwin Strong was generically white, he looked different enough to give away his children.

If Corlys´ mother had been a Summer Island princess, it could have been perfectly respectable and made political sense. (Velaryons were trading far and wide). But the thing is, if Laenor was 1/4 black then Rhaenyra could have simply shrugged off having brunette children - you know, multiracial children, they are all around, a bit like Grandpa... There was a war because she could not.

I mean, isn't that what they're doing?

Rhaenyra giving birth to clearly white children?

Which gives the audience a much more obvious clue that Laenor's children are not his biological children than brown hair.

The audience understands why there would be massive amounts of gossip against Rhaenyra.

Edited by C.T. Phipps
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9 hours ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

What characters are they talking about?

Pedro Pascal was complained about because he's a white Latino, which led to GRRM having to note that his vision of the Dornish was "Mediterranean", by which he had in mind sort of southern Europeans, as he says here, and he felt the look was the thing (olive skin, dark hair, dark eyes).

That same discussion led to his discussing the Valyrians, how in his conception they were white, how he had lately mused that maybe he should have made them black (with reasons for and against), but it was fairly clear that for him the key issue was the "obsession with blood purity", which in his mind seemed to necessitate that the Valyrian people were one ethnicity, whether white, black, yellow, or purple. 

Besides that, well, Ros basically takes the place of Chataya and Alayaya, and they cut characters like Jhalabhar Xho and Strong Belwas, they figure out how to get into Meereen without Brown Ben Plumm, Sam makes the journey to Oldtown without taking a ride on the Cinnamon Wind...

Contra that, they did highlight some characters like Irri and Rakharo, and while they changed the races of Salladhor Saan and Xaro Xhoan Daxos, they did it by also changing their origins, with both of them being in origin Summer Islanders who had made Lys and Qarth, respectively, their homes. (Though I rather wish they had been clearer about that with Salla. You only realize it because Xaro and Salla have similar accents, and it was pointed out to me specifically by someone on the crew.)

Edited by Ran
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10 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

Random aside: The whole thing of Lysians all looking like Targaryens was one of the most disappointing things I've ever read in my entire life because it removed all of the "specialness" of the Targaryens and made them, "Oh and they look like Italians." Which is perhaps interesting in England but pretty much took the enormous wind out of the sales of any idea the Targaryens had any sort of specialness to their lineage looks wise.

Part of why it irritates the hell out of me is the fact that it makes the world (which is one of the largest in fantasy) feel so damned small. Especially since we're dealing with so many cities and cultures, in Essos especially, that have been cosmopolitan and interacting for thousands of years. How in the world could there be a Lysian look when it is already the descendant of a vast empire covering most of the world?

I get that "Black Valyrians" are a change to the book but I also don't see anything particularly weird about Black Valyrians existing as a racial subgroup. Why does there only have to be the white haired purple eyed Valyrians? It doesn't really register with me.

I'm sorry, but that's just a perfect take on things. Valyrian looks are 'special' in Westeros because they are foreigners there. But Valyrians weren't foreigners in Valyria nor in Valyrian colonies ... and especially not in that one colony where the dragonlords flew to fuck, basically. And after the Doom a huge part of Lysene business revolves around breeding sex slaves looking Valyrian. Folks apparently like to pretend they are fucking dragonlords.

In Volantis, where the Old Blood also looks like the dragonlords of old, they continue to keep their bloodlines pure. Foreigners can only enter the black wall when they are invited by one of the Old Blood, after all.

9 hours ago, Jaak said:

The whole war was triggered by the fact that Laenor and Rhaenyra looked alike and that even though Harwin Strong was generically white, he looked different enough to give away his children.

That is not what triggered the war at all. It was one argument why Rhaenyra shouldn't inherit, but the big thing was that they wanted Aegon to be king.

7 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

I mean, isn't that what they're doing?

Rhaenyra giving birth to clearly white children?

Which gives the audience a much more obvious clue that Laenor's children are not his biological children than brown hair.

The audience understands why there would be massive amounts of gossip against Rhaenyra.

In light of the whole 'hair, eyes, nose' stuff from the last episode, I'm sure skin color won't be the issue of Rhaenyra's elder sons in the show. They will go with the boys not having Laenor's hair, eyes, nose.

I mean, they already had dark-skinned Laena go on about how her and Viserys marrying was a marriage among pure-blooded Valyrians, so it is actually best to take a color-blind approach there.

If we pretend the Velaryons are not close cousins to the Targaryens then this entire aspects makes no sense at all. It isn't inbreeding or a marriage among close cousins if you marry a girl from a family which is more or less just from the same city without there being any actual recent kinship.

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6 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

I mean, they already had dark-skinned Laena go on about how her and Viserys marrying was a marriage among pure-blooded Valyrians, so it is actually best to take a color-blind approach there.

I genuinely don't get what's hard to go with the idea that both of them are Valyrian bloodlines.

I knew this one guy who kept getting annoyed at how she mentions "pure blooded Valyrian" and I'm like, "What is your problem with what's being presented?" They can't wrap their head around there being multiple ethnic groups in the Valyrian society.

Which is not true in the books but what they decided to do in the show.

Edited by C.T. Phipps
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Well, Rhaenyra is not a "pure-blooded Valyrian" either. Aemma was without question a close cousin of Viserys - first cousin, Aemma´s mother Daella was Viserys´ aunt. But Rhaenyra´s 4 grandparents included 3 Targaryens... the 4th was Rodrik Arryn. "White", but not Valyrian.

Searching about it, I found some high profile examples of blonde quadroons. Seems that hair colour is inherited by fewer genes than skin colour. Someone with 3 white blonde and 1 black grandparent can well be blonde. The examples offered: Amandus Becker; Mariah Carey; Jade Goody; Nicole Richie.

The attitude that "black man cannot be rich" is yes, a problem of few recent centuries - maybe specifically last century. "Cannot" not in the sense of "not possible" but as in "ough not to". Compare the widespread respect the Queen of Ukogbani got with the disrespect the King of Swaziland gets.

And it does not seem to be a feature in Westeros. There are very few Summer Islanders in Westeros, but those who show up seem to be treated as respectable peers.

And Laena could claim that she have 3 Valyrian grandparents out of 4, like Rhaenyra... good compared to some people who presumably were around and claimed to be Valyrian on the strength of 1 Valyrian grandfather out of 4, just that being the father´s father from whom name and property were inherited. But Viserys was whole another level... 2 grandparents, period, and 2 great-grandparents not 8 (Aenys and Alyssa).

Edited by Jaak
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1 minute ago, Jaak said:

And it does not seem to be a feature in Westeros. There are very few Summer Islanders in Westeros, but those who show up seem to be treated as respectable peers.

Unless you're King Joe's daughter who freaks the hell out.

Great parenting there, Jha.

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3 hours ago, Jaak said:

Well, Rhaenyra is not a "pure-blooded Valyrian" either. Aemma was without question a close cousin of Viserys - first cousin, Aemma´s mother Daella was Viserys´ aunt. But Rhaenyra´s 4 grandparents included 3 Targaryens... the 4th was Rodrik Arryn. "White", but not Valyrian.

Searching about it, I found some high profile examples of blonde quadroons. Seems that hair colour is inherited by fewer genes than skin colour. Someone with 3 white blonde and 1 black grandparent can well be blonde. The examples offered: Amandus Becker; Mariah Carey; Jade Goody; Nicole Richie.

I don't know who Amandus Becker is but Jade Goody, Mariah Carey and Nicole Richie are not blondes.

Unless of course, you are talking about them being "blondes" (I use that term loosely) at birth, infancy and/or early childhood.

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Daella was afraid of everything. And while Summer Islanders would be at the port and involved in mercantile business, it's not like there are regular embassies or anything, so not unusual if there hadn't been a Summer Islander at court for years when Daella was a child.

 

 

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23 hours ago, C.T. Phipps said:

I genuinely don't get what's hard to go with the idea that both of them are Valyrian bloodlines.

I knew this one guy who kept getting annoyed at how she mentions "pure blooded Valyrian" and I'm like, "What is your problem with what's being presented?" They can't wrap their head around there being multiple ethnic groups in the Valyrian society.

Which is not true in the books but what they decided to do in the show.

It just makes no sense that you have folks who practice incest or close cousin marriages and have been obsessed with blood purity for thousands of years to look differently in this way. I mean, to cut to the heart of the matter - the Valyrian elite are proto-racist to a higher degree than even normal nobility, who also marry only amongst themselves because they are 'highborn', have noble blood that sets them apart from common rabble, etc. - there is a racial superiority aspect to all this, which is based on class and not on ethnicity or culture. George very hammers home this thing with terms like 'baseborn' - a crucial problem of certain bastards in the story, like the Hull boys or the other dragonseeds, is not so much that they are born out of a wedlock (which is also shameful in this society, to be sure) but that their royal/noble fathers/ancestors fathered them on commoners. That is also what sets apart the Great Bastards - and especially Daemon Blackfyre - from other royal bastards, because while born out of wedlock they are at least highborn (or of royal birth, in Daemon Blackfyre's case) because their mothers were noblewomen.

But with the Targaryens/Velaryons you clearly have a practice there that's effectively completely about racial purity to a very high degree. The Targaryens basically only marry their sisters, their cousins, and then people who look very much like them. It is very rare, especially in that era, that they would marry outside their 'comfort zone'.

The show sends the message instead that the Valyrians are basically not inbred pricks following a Nazi-like ideology, but sugar-coat or erase that aspect by making them appear more diverse and inclusive when they are not. And it is, in my opinion, unintentionally funny when you have Laena Velaryon go on about 'pure Valyrian blood' when it is quite clear that her Valyrian blood is visibly different from Viserys' Valyrian blood.

23 hours ago, Jaak said:

Well, Rhaenyra is not a "pure-blooded Valyrian" either. Aemma was without question a close cousin of Viserys - first cousin, Aemma´s mother Daella was Viserys´ aunt. But Rhaenyra´s 4 grandparents included 3 Targaryens... the 4th was Rodrik Arryn. "White", but not Valyrian.

This whole thing is clearly only an approximation. They try to marry sisters and close cousins, but they don't do it or cannot do it for various reasons all the time ... although one imagines that there being more Valyrian nobility in actual Valyria the gene pool there was both broader and more exclusive.

Aenys Targaryen had to marry a woman with a Massey mother ... but one would expect that it was the rarest of occasions that a dragonlord back in Valyria was in a position where he married a woman who had Westerosi among her ancestry.

Once the Targaryens settled on Dragonstone spouses with dragonlord or Valyrian blood were harder to come by, but one imagines that the Dragonstonian Targaryens who didn't have sisters or Targaryen aunts or cousins as wives, ended up marrying cousins through the female line with Targaryen blood, like the Velaryons, or looked for dragonlord descendants in the Free Cities, especially in Lys.

Edited by Lord Varys
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1 hour ago, Lord Varys said:

 there is a racial superiority aspect to all this, which is based on class and not on ethnicity or culture. George very hammers home this thing with terms like 'baseborn' - a crucial problem of certain bastards in the story, like the Hull boys or the other dragonseeds, is not so much that they are born out of a wedlock (which is also shameful in this society, to be sure) but that their royal/noble fathers/ancestors fathered them on commoners. That is also what sets apart the Great Bastards - and especially Daemon Blackfyre - from other royal bastards, because while born out of wedlock they are at least highborn (or of royal birth, in Daemon Blackfyre's case) because their mothers were noblewomen.

But with the Targaryens/Velaryons you clearly have a practice there that's effectively completely about racial purity to a very high degree. The Targaryens basically only marry their sisters, their cousins, and then people who look very much like them. It is very rare, especially in that era, that they would marry outside their 'comfort zone'.

The classist thing matters. Lannisters are natural blondes, though golden blondes not Targaryen silver. Aerys refused to marry his son to daughter of "servant", and ended up preferring Princess of Dorne - whose family due to autonomy stood above the Westerosi lords, though they are darker skinned. So how are Summer Islands princesses viewed? Do we get the name and story of Corlys´ mother?

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