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Dany's mounts, treasons, and fires: three plot-points you must know.


three-eyed monkey
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This is an analysis the three mounts Dany must ride, the three treasons she will know, and the three fires she must light, and how they relate to the three acts of her story.

Dany’s character-arc is structured in the hero’s journey format. GRRM expresses his own creative flair by writing some of the typical steps of the journey in atypical ways, but other than that he has yet to stray too far from the underlying format.

The hero’s journey, with its three main stages – the Departure, the Initiation, and the Return - is a three-act story. Each of the three acts closes with a major plot-point - the first plot-point in act one, the midpoint in act two, and the final plot-point in act three - which is an event or character decision that alters the course of the plot.

In the House of the Undying, we are given cryptic clues to Dany’s three major plot-points, as each one is marked by a fire.

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. . . three fires must you light . . . one for life and one for death and one to love . . . Her own heart was beating in unison to the one that floated before her, blue and corrupt . . . three mounts must you ride . . . one to bed and one to dread and one to love . . . The voices were growing louder, she realized, and it seemed her heart was slowing, and even her breath. . . three treasons will you know . . . once for blood and once for gold and once for love . . .

Before we get into the first mount, treason, and fire, we need to step back and look at Dany’s journey from the start.

Her first act begins with the initiating incident, which gets her journey underway. This is Dany’s wedding to Drogo, at which stage she is no more than a pawn in the game of thrones, being traded for an army so that Viserys can regain what the Targaryens had lost to the Usurper. It marks the beginning of the stage of the hero’s journey known as the Departure. Dany leaves the life she had known in the Free Cities behind and goes east into the Dothraki Sea.

As we move through the first act, we come to the first pinch-point at roughly the halfway stage. This is a stepping-stone towards the first plot-point, and occurs when Viserys is crowned in molten gold.

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The sound Viserys Targaryen made when that hideous iron helmet covered his face was like nothing human. His feet hammered a frantic beat against the dirt floor, slowed, stopped. Thick globs of molten gold dripped down onto his chest, setting the scarlet silk to smoldering … yet no drop of blood was spilled.

He was no dragon, Dany thought, curiously calm. Fire cannot kill a dragon.

With Viserys dead, the quest to regain the Iron Throne and the Seven Kingdoms now lies with Dany. She is the Dragon, not Viserys, and while this is a change, Dany is still little more than a pawn, as Viserys was before her. After all, Drogo commands the khalasar and they are still following the agenda set by Illyrio, except Viserys is no longer with them. His absence allows Dany to grow somewhat but she has yet to gain full agency as a character.

That fire cannot kill a dragon is an important thought or hers at this time because it relates to the plot-point we are moving towards. Her first plot-point, as marked by her first fire.

The first mount was Dany’s mare, Silver, who she rode to her wedding bed.

The first treason for blood was then committed by Mirri Maz Duur, who took Drogo, blood of her blood, and Rhaego, her blood, from her to avenge the blood Drogo had spilled and prevent similar bloodshed under Rhaego.

The first mount and first treason represent significant links in the chain of events that eventually led Dany to light her first fire. The fire for life was Drogo’s funeral pyre. Only death can pay for life, and that’s where Dany’s dragons were born.

Dany walked into the fire and emerged again unburnt, and when she did, she took her first steps as a queen. Drogo was gone and his khalasar had abandoned her. The weak who had been left behind became her people, her own tiny khalasar, who she decided to lead into the Red Waste, guided by the comet and a sense that she had her own destiny to find. She was the Mother of Dragons now, and had gone from pawn to player, albeit a novice one.

This brings the first act of her story to a close. Dany has gained agency and dragons, but quickly learns that agency brings responsibilities and challenges, as will the dragons once they grow. If she wants to be a player then she needs to learn how to play the game. This leads us into the second act and the second stage of her hero’s journey, the Initiation.

In her second act, Dany must learn to lead. She needs to know who she can trust. Who are her allies and who are her enemies? She also needs to start gathering the resources she needs to achieve her goal, winning back the Iron Throne. And she needs to learn how to deal with the conflicts that come with ruling, none more so than her own inner-conflict. Can she be a queen who is loved or will she have to rule by fear?

As we move through the second act we come to the second pinch-point. This takes place at the House of the Undying, where Dany is in danger of being trapped by the warlocks but burns her way free using Drogon.

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Perched above her, the dragon spread his wings and tore at the terrible dark heart, ripping the rotten flesh to ribbons, and when his head snapped forward, fire flew from his open jaws, bright and hot.

In Meereen, Dany once again finds herself trapped, this time by the slavers who are opposed to her attempts to end slavery. Dany wants to move on towards her goal, but she knows that if she does then the slavers will return to power, just as they had in Yunkai. Just like the House of the Undying, Dany will use Drogon to free herself from her bind and the dragon will once again tear at a terrible dark heart. This is Dany’s second plot-point, when she decides the solution to the conflict is to wake the dragon, something she had tried to resist when she locked up two of her dragons.

The second mount Dany must ride for dread is Drogon, who resembles Balerion the Black Dread. When the silver queen mounted Drogon in the fighting-pits of Meereen, the process of waking the dragon began. When the dragon in her awakens, Dany will use dragonfire to exert her will over her enemies and greatly increase her power.

The second treason for gold was committed by the slaver establishment, who made war on her to restore the gold that flows from the slave trade. In Meereen this is the Harpies, but the slaver establishment reaches far beyond Meereen. Meereen is part of the establishment but it is not it's heart.

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All the talk had been of the gold and gems and slaves that would flood into Volantis once the dragon queen was dead.

The second fire she must light for death is the black-walled heart of Old Volantis. This represents the heart of the slave trade and once Drogon burns it down, her enemies will all know the cost of defying the dragon queen. Dany will replace the slavers at the apex of power in Essos, as foreshadowed by Drogon making his lair atop the Great Pyramid of Meereen. This means the blood of the dragon, which is the blood of Old Valyria, will replace the Old Blood of Volantis, who trace their roots back to Valyria. It’s essentially a like for like swap. Dany might free slaves, but at the same time she will shackle them to her instead as none would dare defy the dragon queen through fear. And so ends of the second act of Dany’s story. (I feel this would have taken place at the end of A Dance with Dragons had the novel not grown too large.)

Dany emerged from the first fire as the Mother of Dragons and began her second act taking her first tentative steps as a queen. At the time she was mounted on her mare, Silver, and became known as the silver queen. The second act was her Initiation as a queen, where she faced the trials and tribulations of ruling. By the end of the act, Dany will have woken the dragon and turned the agency she had gained at the end of her first act into power. She will emerge from the second fire mounted on a dragon for dread, to rule by fear, and will have gone from silver queen to dragon queen. This leads us to the third and final act of Dany’s story, the Return.

Victory in Essos will finally allow Dany to turn for home and focus on her goal, the Iron Throne. We’re well past the point of the novels now and going further into speculation, but there are still some things we can be certain of.

We know the third act contains Dany’s final plot-point, which will be the final turn in her character-arc. This is the point where she must resolve her inner-conflict, for better or for worse, which in turn will determine her part in the resolution of the main plot.

Dany will begin the third act as a dragon queen, who has woken the dragon and rules through fear and dread, but if her final mount, treason and fire are all for love, then we know the direction she must turn. The choice between being a queen who is loved or feared reflects Dany’s inner-conflict, which she can resolve by choosing love at her final plot-point, and acting on that choice by lighting her third and final fire, the fire she must light for love.

As in the previous acts, there will be a pinch-point that functions as a stepping stone toward the final plot-point, a step towards choosing to be a queen that is loved over a queen that is feared. Dany losing one or more of her dragons in an attempt to save the realm would be my guess, as it reflects elements of the decision and final turn she is headed towards because she would be sacrificing her own power, symbolized by the dragons, in an attempt to defend her people.

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A queen belongs not to herself but to her people.

I think the people of Westeros will be Dany’s people by the time she reaches her final plot-point. She has the dragons to defeat rivals like Stannis and Aegon and win the game of thrones. I believe her third mount will be the Iron Throne, which is her goal. Maester Aemon speaks of her great-grandfather, Egg, in terms of mounting the throne.

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"He was three-and-thirty when the Great Council chose him to mount the Iron Throne.”

This brings us to her third treason and third fire and her third and final plot-point, as well as the legend of Azor Ahai.

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"Her. Daenerys?"

Haldon nodded. "Benerro has sent forth the word from Volantis. Her coming is the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy. From smoke and salt was she born to make the world anew. She is Azor Ahai returned … and her triumph over darkness will bring a summer that will never end … death itself will bend its knee, and all those who die fighting in her cause shall be reborn …"

Benerro is half wrong and half right. Dany is not Azor Ahai returned, but she is Nissa Nissa returned. However, Nissa Nissa is the true hero of the legend, something that red priests like Benerro and Mel clearly fail to realize. It was Nissa Nissa who bared her breast willingly and gave herself to save the realm, and her self-sacrifice was the true sacrifice needed to ignite Lightbringer and subsequently bring the dawn. It is Dany’s triumph over her inner darkness, the dragon queen side of her nature, that will end the Lond Night and bring the dawn and make the world anew. As Quaithe once told her, “…to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

The third fire Dany must light is Lightbringer, to bring the dawn and save the realm. And if Dany chooses to give her life to save the realm, then it stands to reason that the final treason she must know will be committed by herself, when the true queen triumphs over the dark side of her nature and kills the dragon queen by giving her life to light the fire needed to save her people.

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They wanted her, needed her, the fire, the life, and Dany gasped and opened her arms to give herself to them . . .

We know the rules of the game. When you play the game of thrones you win or you die, there is no middle ground. Dany has the dragons to win the game, but if the only way to save the realm is for her to sacrifice herself to bring the dawn, then she must choose die so that her people win instead. That’s what a queen who belongs not to herself but to her people would do in such a dilemma.

And finally, we can connect the turns in Dany’s journey to another motif that is present in her arc, which is the concept of the Targaryen coin toss.

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“But every child knows that the Targaryens have always danced too close to madness. Your father was not the first. King Jaehaerys once told me that madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air and the world holds its breath to see how it will land."

A tossed coin turns in the air, just as Dany’s journey has taken it’s turns. By the end of her second act, Dany is dancing too close to madness, as is the want of Targaryens, but the coin has not landed yet. There is still one more turn to come. When she lights her third fire to save the realm the coin will land on greatness, and Dany will have turned the power she gained at the end of the second act into love, because a great queen who sacrifices herself to save her people will always be remembered by her people with love.

 

 

Thanks for reading.

Edited by three-eyed monkey
point of clarification
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I'm don't think I agree with it ,but I love the well thought analysis you presented here.

4 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Dany’s character-arc is structured in the hero’s journey format. GRRM expresses his own creative flair by writing some of the typical steps of the journey in atypical ways, but other than that he has yet to stray too far from the underlying format.

I question this initial assumption.

I'm not sure I'm sold on the idea that Dany's whole story is in the mold of the hero's journey at all.

Now, Dany's early tale does seem to have elements of the hero's journey. She is cast into the unfamiliar (married off to Drogo and the Dothraki), she learns to be a khaleesi, her brother could be seen as a threshold guardian here, she gets a helper in Jorah, teacher in Mirri, has a rebirth in the flames when her dragons are born, crosses the red waste in a possible form of atonement, and then returns to the "civilized" world (Quarth) where she is once again a guest in a foreign court, much like how she started.

I'm not convinced that the whole of Dany's story follows the hero's journey archetype however. It seems more to me to be, "There's no place like home."

Rather than debate what archetype best fits an unfinished story however, I think it would be more interesting to get into the details.

First, I think it's important to note the context in which they are given. They are answering Dany's questions.

"I have come for the gift of truth," Dany said. "In the long hall, the things I saw . . . were they true visions, or lies? Past things, or things to come? What did they mean?"
. . . the shape of shadows . . . morrows not yet made . . . drink from the cup of ice . . . drink from the cup of fire . . .
. . . mother of dragons . . . child of three . . .
"Three?" She did not understand.
. . . three heads has the dragon . . . the ghost chorus yammered inside her skull with never a lip moving, never a breath stirring the still blue air. . . . mother of dragons . . . child of storm . . . The whispers became a swirling song. . . . three fires must you light . . . one for life and one for death and one to love . . . Her own heart was beating in unison to the one that floated before her, blue and corrupt . . . three mounts must you ride . . . one to bed and one to dread and one to love . . . The voices were growing louder, she realized, and it seemed her heart was slowing, and even her breath. . . . three treasons will you know . . . once for blood and once for gold and once for love . . .
"I don't . . ." Her voice was no more than a whisper, almost as faint as theirs. What was happening to her? "I don't understand," she said, more loudly. Why was it so hard to talk here? "Help me. Show me."
. . . help her . . . the whispers mocked. . . . show her . . .
Then phantoms shivered through the murk, images in indigo. Viserys screamed as the molten gold ran down his cheeks and filled his mouth. A tall lord with copper skin and silver-gold hair stood beneath the banner of a fiery stallion, a burning city behind him. Rubies flew like drops of blood from the chest of a dying prince, and he sank to his knees in the water and with his last breath murmured a woman's name. . . . mother of dragons, daughter of death . . . Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow. A cloth dragon swayed on poles amidst a cheering crowd. From a smoking tower, a great stone beast took wing, breathing shadow fire. . . . mother of dragons, slayer of lies . . . Her silver was trotting through the grass, to a darkling stream beneath a sea of stars. A corpse stood at the prow of a ship, eyes bright in his dead face, grey lips smiling sadly. A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness. . . . mother of dragons, bride of fire . . .
Faster and faster the visions came, one after the other, until it seemed as if the very air had come alive. Shadows whirled and danced inside a tent, boneless and terrible. A little girl ran barefoot toward a big house with a red door. Mirri Maz Duur shrieked in the flames, a dragon bursting from her brow. Behind a silver horse the bloody corpse of a naked man bounced and dragged. A white lion ran through grass taller than a man. Beneath the Mother of Mountains, a line of naked crones crept from a great lake and knelt shivering before her, their grey heads bowed. Ten thousand slaves lifted bloodstained hands as she raced by on her silver, riding like the wind. "Mother!" they cried. "Mother, mother!" They were reaching for her, touching her, tugging at her cloak, the hem of her skirt, her foot, her leg, her breast. They wanted her, needed her, the fire, the life, and Dany gasped and opened her arms to give herself to them . . .

To start, I would note that she asks her questions about the visions from the long hall.

Also, she saw 5 visions in the long hall, before finding the Undying (first as a splendor of wizards, the sixth "vision").

  1. A beautiful, naked woman being ravished by four little men who resemble the dwarf servitor.
  2. A feast of slaughtered corpses, with a dead man with a wolf's head sitting on a throne wearing an iron crown looking to Dany with mute appeal.
  3. Dany's childhood house with the red door, lemon tree, and Ser Willem.
  4. Aerys II Targaryen sits on a barbed throne and appears to give the order to burn the Red Keep during the Sack of King's Landing.
  5. Rhaegar Targaryen is with a woman and a baby. He names his son Aegon, says the child is "the prince that was promised" and "his is the song of ice and fire", then he seems to see Dany and says "There must be one more".
  6. A "splendor of wizards" who claim to be the Undying of Qarth and promise knowledge and gifts. Behind their ebony and wierwood door is another secret door. 

The Undying respond with six phrases.

  1. . . . the shape of shadows
  2. . . . morrows not yet made
  3. . . . drink from the cup of ice
  4. . . . drink from the cup of fire
  5. . . . mother of dragons
  6. . . . child of three . . .

Then they present the three trinities, the fires, mounts, and treasons.

Finally, they give her 9 visions, in three sets of three, followed by a flurry of further visions.

Despite the variety of images, I am of the opinion that there is a common thread to everything Dany sees in the house of the Undying... even if we can't work out every detail yet.

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Still reading, but how was Volantis a treason?
 

They neither owed nor promised her anything. Since she started burning Slaver’s Bay, Volantis is the power people were hoping would respond…as they apparently have. Unless I’m missing something, I just don’t see any way to qualify that as treason. 

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14 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I'm don't think I agree with it ,but I love the well thought analysis you presented here.

Thank you.

14 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I question this initial assumption.

I'm not sure I'm sold on the idea that Dany's whole story is in the mold of the hero's journey at all.

Well my main points refer to the three-act structure of Dany's story, and the three main plot-points that end each act.

I think Dany's story clearly is in the hero's journey format, same as Jon, Bran, Sansa, and several others. I can break the steps down a little further if need be, but I was trying not to delve too deep into the technical side of things. That's why I took the most fundamental form of the hero's journey, departure, initiation, and return, to demonstrate the three acts.

14 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I'm not convinced that the whole of Dany's story follows the hero's journey archetype however.

I believe Dany’s character-arc is clearly constructed in the style of the Hero’s Journey. Her story fits the common structure in which the hero departs their known world for the unknown, where they undertake a transformative journey through a series of trials and tests, before returning with the power to bestow a great boon upon mankind.

Joseph Campbell, in his seminal book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, broke this journey down into three stages, departure, initiation, and return. Different versions of the hero’s journey have spawned over the years and the terminology can vary from version to version, but the principles of the journey always remain the same. I believe Dany’s arc fits a common twelve-step format, which is created by subdividing each of Campbell’s three stages into four steps. As such, the first four steps are the departure, the next four steps form the initiation, and the final four steps are the return.

This is how I see Dany’s journey fitting those twelve steps.

1. Ordinary World.

The life Dany knew as a child, moving through the Free Cities with Viserys, was her ordinary world.

2. Inciting Incident.

The inciting incident is Dany’s marriage to Drogo, which removes her from the ordinary world she is familiar with. The departure is now underway.

3. Refusing the Call.

While Dany was eager to accept the quest, she had doubts and fears to overcome that lead to her refusing the call. She did not want to marry a barbarian, nor be traded away for an army. Dany’s initial doubts and fears were overcome when she fell in love with Drogo, and after the death of Viserys, she once again considered abandoning her goal. She weighed a comfortable life as Drogo’s queen against the perilous road her quest for the Iron Throne was certain to take and concluded that life as a khaleesi, as comfortable as it may be, was no life for a dragon.

Overcoming the refusal marks the beginning of an increasing level of commitment to the hero’s goal, despite the risks involved.

4. Meeting the Mentor.

Dany then met the mentor in the form of Mirri Maz Duur. Some might find it odd to count Mirri amongst Dany’s mentors, and this is what I mean by GRRM writing typical steps of the journey in atypical ways. The maegi’s impact on Dany’s arc led to the funeral pyre and the subsequent birth of the three hatchlings, which set Dany firmly on the path to being a Dragon. That is the role of the mentor character, to set the hero on the path they need to take, even if mentor characters are usually more supportive to the hero.

Dany has several mentors, but meeting Mirri at this stage suggests to me that she is the mentor who will have most impact on the decision Dany must make when it comes to resolving her arc at her final plot point. Dany must come to understand Mirri’s point about conquerors like Drogo and why Mirri did what she did.

The pyre marks the end of Dany’s departure and first act, and begins her second act and her initiation as a queen.

5. Crossing the Threshold.

When the smoke of the funeral pyre cleared, Dany crosses the threshold into the unknown. This marks the beginning of her initiation. She entered the story as a pawn, moved by men who play the game of thrones, but by the end of the first book she had begun her own journey to become a player. She was in command now, though her followers were few. She considered the Bleeding Star to herald her coming and point the way so she moved into the Red Waste, quickly learning the weight of her responsibilities as the most vulnerable of her tiny khalasar begin to perish on the hard road she had chosen.

6. The Belly of the Whale.

Having moved into the unknown, Dany had to learn the rules of her new world, such as who she can trust and who she cannot. This stage of the hero’s journey is often called tests, allies and enemies. In Qarth, Dany resists seduction and the temptation to abandon her perilous journey, dismissing the likes of Xaro Xhoan Daxos and the Undying of Qarth to stay firmly on course. When Dany burned the House of the Undying, she emerged from the belly of the whale, and passed the point of no return. If you picture the hero’s journey as a clockwise circle, she passes six o’clock, so the shortest way back now is to keep going.

7. Approach to the Innermost Cave.

Dany’s approach to the innermost cave was made through Astapor and Yunkai. This is where the hero gathers resources for the ordeals ahead, such as when Dany obtained an army. Not only did she approach a location of great danger, in Meereen, she also faced increased inner-conflict, caught between her pure ideals as a queen and the muddy reality of ruling. Dany’s second act is spent learning-to-lead. She wants to be a good queen but that is easier said than done, and sometimes she has no choice but to compromise on her ideals.

8. The Ordeal.

In Meereen, she reaches the ordeal, which involves facing up to her greatest fear. For Dany that means ruling as a queen. This stage is sometimes called the dragon’s lair, which may be a more appropriate label given that Drogon made his lair atop the Great Pyramid. This is a clear nod to the hero’s journey in my opinion.

The hero’s ordeal centres on the character’s inner-conflict. As the Queen of Meereen, Dany tried to bring peace to the city using diplomacy, even giving her hand in marriage to Hizdahr zo Loraq despite having no love for him. She wants to be a good queen, a breaker of chains, but her efforts are constantly undermined. It soon becomes clear that her noble dream of an end to slavery will never be allowed to flourish as long as the old establishment, the Harpies and the slavers and the Old Blood of Volantis, stand in the way.

Instead of breaking chains, Dany becomes entangled in the knot that is Meereen. The only way to extract herself now is to cleave the knot with her sword, which is Drogon. At the end of the last book, we left Dany and Drogon in the Dothraki Sea, where the process of waking the dragon had clearly begun.

When waking the dragon brings victory over Dany’s enemies by way of fire and blood, it will only enforce her belief that she solved her ordeal the right way, and this belief will shape her choices going forward.

This second plot-point, her second fire, marks the end of her second act and her initiation.

9. Seizing the Sword.

Waking the dragon will bring victory in Meereen, so Dany will apply this method to her larger goals. This is known as seizing the sword. She is the blood of the dragon and Drogon is her sword.

Dany will emerge from the ashes of Old Volantis with a fresh commitment to her goal of winning the Iron Throne and a clear vision of how to achieve it with fire and blood, which is what brought her victory against the slavers.

The priests of the Red Temple already see Dany as Azor Ahai reborn, come to make the world anew. When she ends the old order with victory in Meereen and the destruction of the black-walled heart of Old Volantis, her anointment as the chosen one of R’hllor will be confirmed in the eyes of the Red Temple. Dany departed wed to Drogo, but she will return wed to fire.

10. The Road Back.

After that she will begin the road back, which will lead her to her goal, the Iron Throne, thanks to her dragons and her military strength. She will defeat the false kings, like Stannis and Aegon, and win the game of thrones.

11. Resurrection.

With the Long Night upon the world, Dany will face the final test of her arc, known as the resurrection. This is the point where the dragon queen must die so that the true queen Dany wanted to be until she lost her way can be resurrected.

12. Return with the Elixir.

If she passes the test and is resurrected then she will return with the elixir, the final stage of the hero’s journey, where the hero will have attained the knowledge and ability to bestow a great boon on mankind. That boon will be the self-sacrifice that ignites Lightbinger and the dawn to make the world anew.

14 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

It seems more to me to be, "There's no place like home."

If you're referring to the Wizard of Oz, then that's a classic hero's journey too.

14 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

Despite the variety of images, I am of the opinion that there is a common thread to everything Dany sees in the house of the Undying... even if we can't work out every detail yet.

I agree. They're all important elements of Dany's arc. I think we can have a good stab at most of the visions and what or who they refer to. This reply is long already, I'll come back to discussing some of the stuff you listed because there's a lot there.

14 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

Rather than debate what archetype best fits an unfinished story however,

The story structure is already in place even though the story is not finished. It's no different than knowing the rest of the story will be written in third-limited with first-person in italics. Those choices are made at the start of the process.

14 hours ago, James Arryn said:

Still reading, but how was Volantis a treason?
 

They neither owed nor promised her anything. Since she started burning Slaver’s Bay, Volantis is the power people were hoping would respond…as they apparently have. Unless I’m missing something, I just don’t see any way to qualify that as treason. 

Treason is a crime against the queen, in this context at least. A whole alliance of the old slaver order are descending on  Meereen to get rid of Dany and her anti-slavery ideas that would undermine their wealth. That's why it is a treason for gold, because it is to restore the flow of gold from the slave trade.

The slave trade extends far and wide across Essos but it's black heart is the black-walled heart of Old Volantis. The tigers and elephants have untied against Dany. Nyessos the elephant and Malaquo the tiger go hand in hand, elephants show stripes. Nyessos owes much of his wealth to the slave trade. Malaquo wanted to hire the Golden Company to clear out the red temple, where Benerro is proclaiming Dany to be a savior figure who is coming to tear down the old order. From Volantis to Old Ghis that old order has turned on the queen and are sending legions to crush her. I think that qualifies as treason.

 

Edited by three-eyed monkey
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13 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Treason is a crime against the queen

Dany is not the Queen of Volantis by anyone's reckoning.

I would suggest that you consider if the treasons are committed against Dany, or if the treasons are committed by Dany.

The death of Viserys, for instance, could easily be framed as treason.

13 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

I think Dany's story clearly is in the hero's journey format, same as Jon, Bran, Sansa, and several others.

Unless we paint with so broad a brush as to make the definition meaningless I can't agree. Although I think the best case can be made for Bran.

13 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

If you're referring to the Wizard of Oz, then that's a classic hero's journey too.

Yes it is, but a story can have more than one trope, and the existence of one does not guarantee the existence of others.

13 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

Joseph Campbell, in his seminal book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, broke this journey down into three stages, departure, initiation, and return.

I'm familiar, although I think this is more or less a textbook case of overgeneralization at work.

It's a series of wildly broad definitions which, in my opinion, don't really help analyze anything, and can be forced to fit almost any story for this reason.

The real issue here however, is that you are beginning with the assumption that this framework fits the story, one that's incomplete, which is backwards and quite the mental leap.

If you are trying to show Dany is the hero who will sacrifice herself, it doesn't help to start by assuming her story is the hero's journey. Not that you couldn't be correct, but that it is not a logically sound or convincing way to make a case for it.

13 hours ago, three-eyed monkey said:

The life Dany knew as a child, moving through the Free Cities with Viserys, was her ordinary world.

As I tried to say above, I think you could take part of the story and frame it within the broad general terms of the Hero's Journey framework, but I think it misses the larger picture, and you could do this with most any story of this kind, which make it kind of meaningless.

The story begins, as many do, in media res, or in the middle of things. When we meet Dany in her first chapter, her story is already underway.

Home, is the house with the red door, not Illyrio's Mance, not the iron throne, and not Braavos... in my opinion.

In general, but especially with an incomplete story, I think there is more value in analyzing the text than trying to work backwards for the assumption of a trope.

Edited by Mourning Star
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1 hour ago, Mourning Star said:

The real issue here however, is that you are beginning with the assumption that this framework fits the story, one that's incomplete, which is backwards and quite the mental leap.

You can disagree about the hero's journey structure of Dany's arc but as I demonstrated, the steps are there. The point about the fires and plot-points however is based on the three acts of her story. I suppose you could argue that it's not a three act story but I think that argument is weak too.

Even if we leave the structure out of it and put it in simple terms, I'm proposing that the three fires represent three main decisions Dany will have to make that are turning points in her story.

I agree that the story is not complete, but that has nothing to do with the structure of the story no more than it has anything to do with the pov structure GRRM chose. Those decisions are already made and will hold all the way until the end.

1 hour ago, Mourning Star said:

Dany is not the Queen of Volantis by anyone's reckoning.

I never said she was. Dany is a queen and treasons are committed by her enemies, and her enemies are not just in Meereen. The whole slave-based establishment is aligning against her.

1 hour ago, Mourning Star said:

If you are trying to show Dany is the hero who will sacrifice herself, it doesn't help to start by assuming her story is the hero's journey.

I'm not trying to show Dany is a hero by saying she has a hero's journey. Character-arcs can be negative as well as positive, regardless of their structure, so they can lead to villains or heroes, depending on how the arc is resolved. I think Dany will be a hero but I think there will be several heroes, some of them tragic like Dany, but others will fail to resolve their arcs positively. I'm just analyzing Dany's arc as written by GRRM, her inner-conflict, her journey, and how we have been given hints to how her arc will be resolved, such as the three fires.

If you have an alternative interpretation of the mounts and treasons and fires, then of course I'm all eyes.

2 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

The story begins, as many do, in media res, or in the middle of things. When we meet Dany in her first chapter, her story is already underway.

Of course it is, that's the same for every character. However, that's where we readers pick up the live action because her hero's journey is about to begin with the initiating incident.

2 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

Unless we paint with so broad a brush as to make the definition meaningless I can't agree. Although I think the best case can be made for Bran.

Dany's hero's journey is quite clear, both in broad strokes and when broken down step by step. The definition of each of these steps is not meaningless, and Dany's story matches the defined steps as demonstrated. There's nothing unusual about that, that's how the vast majority of stories are structured.

2 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

n general, but especially with an incomplete story, I think there is more value in analyzing the text than trying to work backwards for the assumption of a trope.

I'm not working backwards. Read the OP again, I start at the start and move forward through her journey, from initiating incident, through the three acts and the major plot-points to the resolution.

I don't know what you mean by for the assumption of a trope? If you mean I'm assuming she will be a hero and starting there, then I disagree. I'm following her journey through two of three acts based on the story we have so far, and then speculating where the last act will go based on the clues we've been given.

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Interesting read. However I don't think framing Volantis as a 'treason' works well, because it, to my mind, conflicts with the meaning of treason/traitor - Volantis was never an ally to Daenerys, or really related to her in any way. They can't 'betray' her, because they never promised or owed her anything in the first place.

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13 hours ago, Craving Peaches said:

Interesting read. However I don't think framing Volantis as a 'treason' works well, because it, to my mind, conflicts with the meaning of treason/traitor - Volantis was never an ally to Daenerys, or really related to her in any way. They can't 'betray' her, because they never promised or owed her anything in the first place.

The treason is being committed by the the slavers for the gold that flows from the slave trade. The slavers include the Harpies of Meereen and the Wise Masters of Yunkai,  but the slaving establishment stretches far beyond Slavers Bay to Old Ghis and Volantis, all of whom are aligning with the Harpies and Yunkai against Dany.

However, it is the black-walled heart of Old Volantis where the Old Blood reside that is the fire she must light for death. The death of the old establishment. That is the heart of the slaver establishment, and it will soon be transformed into a fiery heart, which is very symbolic of the Red God because this is the point where the slaves of Volantis, who do not dwell within the black-walled heart of the city, will rise for Dany and the red priests will declare her to be Azor Ahai returned.

14 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

Being an enemy is not the same as treason.

No, but aligning with treasonous enemies is. Volantis is aligned with the Harpies and Wise Masters.

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1 hour ago, three-eyed monkey said:

The treason is being committed by the the slavers for the gold that flows from the slave trade. The slavers include the Harpies of Meereen and the Wise Masters of Yunkai,  but the slaving establishment stretches far beyond Slavers Bay to Old Ghis and Volantis, all of whom are aligning with the Harpies and Yunkai against Dany.

Yes, but how are they betraying Daenerys? They are not her allies, she is not their queen. They are her enemies but that doesn't make them traitors unless there was some sort of prior relationship of trust which they broke.

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37 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

Yes, but how are they betraying Daenerys? They are not her allies, she is not their queen. They are her enemies but that doesn't make them traitors unless there was some sort of prior relationship of trust which they broke.

The Harpies are betraying Daenerys, but they are only the tip of the spear. Dany is trying to compromise and come to terms, like through marriage or re-opening the fighting pits, but the people she is trying to compromise with are meanwhile plotting with their slaver allies behind her back to bring her down.

Mirri Maz Durr was not really a friend of Dany's either. Dany foolishly trusted her to restore Drogo, but Mirri had different plans. Dany is making the same mistake with the slavers by trying to compromise with them.

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47 minutes ago, three-eyed monkey said:

The Harpies are betraying Daenerys, but they are only the tip of the spear. Dany is trying to compromise and come to terms, like through marriage or re-opening the fighting pits, but the people she is trying to compromise with are meanwhile plotting with their slaver allies behind her back to bring her down.

The Harpies are betraying her, but their allies, I do not see how they can, because Daenerys has no sort of arrangement with them that they can betray. Volantis and Daenerys had no prior connection. The Volantenes are definitely her enemies but how can they be betraying her? There's nothing for them to betray - Daenerys has not given them trust or confidence or established any sort of relationship with them for them to betray.

I don't think not siding with someone in the first place due to money is the same as betraying them for money.

Edited by Craving Peaches
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When GRRM wrote this sequence in ACoK, the series was supposed to be 6 books and GRRM was planning to make a 5 year jump after ASoS. Neither AFfC nor Blackfyres existed at that point. We know for a fact that in the earliest drafts, Euron was travelling to Meereen with Victarion and promised him Dany's hand, while having Aeron under his deck just like in the Forsaken. That means Aeron was most probably the original "corpse smiling sadly" in the visions but GRRM changed the plans and now he might find another candidate for this "corpse" or drop it entirely. We also know another bit of trivia according to which GRRM originally wanted to have a similar spooky dream sequence for Tyrion while writing ADwD (the infamous Shrouded Lord chapter) which was supposed to cointain omnious "portents" for his future story. But GRRM decided against that. All this means that the guesses based on such dreams and visions, even if GRRM wanted to foreshadow certain things when he wrote them, might not be as strong. Fat man's ever changing plans and all that.

Edited by Mithras
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1 hour ago, Mithras said:

When GRRM wrote this sequence in ACoK, the series was supposed to be 6 books and GRRM was planning to make a 5 year jump after ASoS. Neither AFfC nor Blackfyres existed at that point. We know for a fact that in the earliest drafts, Euron was travelling to Meereen with Victarion and promised him Dany's hand, while having Aeron under his deck just like in the Forsaken. That means Aeron was most probably the original "corpse smiling sadly" in the visions but GRRM changed the plans and now he might find another candidate for this "corpse" or drop it entirely. We also know another bit of trivia according to which GRRM originally wanted to have a similar spooky dream sequence for Tyrion while writing ADwD (the infamous Shrouded Lord chapter) which was supposed to cointain omnious "portents" for his future story. But GRRM decided against that. All this means that the guesses based on such dreams and visions, even if GRRM wanted to foreshadow certain things when he wrote them, might not be as strong. Fat man's ever changing plans and all that.

The mummer’s dragon was in ACOK though, so that at least had been planned. Back then it was probably going to be a war between Egg’s line and Aerion’s (who was also mentioned in ACOK) after his son was passed over despite having a stronger claim than Egg. Now we don’t know what happened to little Maegor.

Blackfyre or Brightflame, I think the function is the same: to cause a headache for Daenerys and push her over the edge.

Edited by The Bard of Banefort
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On 4/27/2023 at 8:29 PM, three-eyed monkey said:

 

Treason is a crime against the queen, in this context at least. A whole alliance of the old slaver order are descending on  Meereen to get rid of Dany and her anti-slavery ideas that would undermine their wealth. That's why it is a treason for gold, because it is to restore the flow of gold from the slave trade.

The slave trade extends far and wide across Essos but it's black heart is the black-walled heart of Old Volantis. The tigers and elephants have untied against Dany. Nyessos the elephant and Malaquo the tiger go hand in hand, elephants show stripes. Nyessos owes much of his wealth to the slave trade. Malaquo wanted to hire the Golden Company to clear out the red temple, where Benerro is proclaiming Dany to be a savior figure who is coming to tear down the old order. From Volantis to Old Ghis that old order has turned on the queen and are sending legions to crush her. I think that qualifies as treason.

 

I get how this is for gold, but I’m no closer to understanding how it’s treason. Feudal treason is breaking your oath of fealty. Post-nationalist treason is acting to overthrow your own legitimate government. This falls nowhere close to that. You are calling it ‘crime against the queen’, but Dany is not queen of Volantis. Not even if she calls herself that, which I don’t think she’s done. She might in the future conquer Volantis and become its queen, but for now this is just standard fare war.
 

There is neither crime nor treason here. 

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1 hour ago, Smoke317 said:

Interesting. Why will she want to kill Arya?

Spoiler

I’m taking inspiration from the show. Jon doesn’t kill Dany because she’s crazy, but because Tyrion convinces him that his sisters aren’t safe while Dany is alive. He’s already been willing to desert the Watch to protect Arya.

 

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1 hour ago, The Bard of Banefort said:
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I’m taking inspiration from the show. Jon doesn’t kill Dany because she’s crazy, but because Tyrion convinces him that his sisters aren’t safe while Dany is alive. He’s already been willing to desert the Watch to protect Arya.

 

A lot of people feel that GRRM has abandoned the Jon/Arya angle and instead is gonna push the Jon/Sansa angle.  But your theory still works if Sansa is in charge of the North and refuses to be a part of the 7 kingdoms under Dany’s rule (which also happened in the show). 

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On 4/27/2023 at 3:13 PM, Mourning Star said:

I'm don't think I agree with it ,but I love the well thought analysis you presented here.

I question this initial assumption.

I'm not sure I'm sold on the idea that Dany's whole story is in the mold of the hero's journey at all.

Now, Dany's early tale does seem to have elements of the hero's journey. She is cast into the unfamiliar (married off to Drogo and the Dothraki), she learns to be a khaleesi, her brother could be seen as a threshold guardian here, she gets a helper in Jorah, teacher in Mirri, has a rebirth in the flames when her dragons are born, crosses the red waste in a possible form of atonement, and then returns to the "civilized" world (Quarth) where she is once again a guest in a foreign court, much like how she started.

I'm not convinced that the whole of Dany's story follows the hero's journey archetype however. It seems more to me to be, "There's no place like home."

Rather than debate what archetype best fits an unfinished story however, I think it would be more interesting to get into the details.

First, I think it's important to note the context in which they are given. They are answering Dany's questions.

"I have come for the gift of truth," Dany said. "In the long hall, the things I saw . . . were they true visions, or lies? Past things, or things to come? What did they mean?"
. . . the shape of shadows . . . morrows not yet made . . . drink from the cup of ice . . . drink from the cup of fire . . .
. . . mother of dragons . . . child of three . . .
"Three?" She did not understand.
. . . three heads has the dragon . . . the ghost chorus yammered inside her skull with never a lip moving, never a breath stirring the still blue air. . . . mother of dragons . . . child of storm . . . The whispers became a swirling song. . . . three fires must you light . . . one for life and one for death and one to love . . . Her own heart was beating in unison to the one that floated before her, blue and corrupt . . . three mounts must you ride . . . one to bed and one to dread and one to love . . . The voices were growing louder, she realized, and it seemed her heart was slowing, and even her breath. . . . three treasons will you know . . . once for blood and once for gold and once for love . . .
"I don't . . ." Her voice was no more than a whisper, almost as faint as theirs. What was happening to her? "I don't understand," she said, more loudly. Why was it so hard to talk here? "Help me. Show me."
. . . help her . . . the whispers mocked. . . . show her . . .
Then phantoms shivered through the murk, images in indigo. Viserys screamed as the molten gold ran down his cheeks and filled his mouth. A tall lord with copper skin and silver-gold hair stood beneath the banner of a fiery stallion, a burning city behind him. Rubies flew like drops of blood from the chest of a dying prince, and he sank to his knees in the water and with his last breath murmured a woman's name. . . . mother of dragons, daughter of death . . . Glowing like sunset, a red sword was raised in the hand of a blue-eyed king who cast no shadow. A cloth dragon swayed on poles amidst a cheering crowd. From a smoking tower, a great stone beast took wing, breathing shadow fire. . . . mother of dragons, slayer of lies . . . Her silver was trotting through the grass, to a darkling stream beneath a sea of stars. A corpse stood at the prow of a ship, eyes bright in his dead face, grey lips smiling sadly. A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness. . . . mother of dragons, bride of fire . . .
Faster and faster the visions came, one after the other, until it seemed as if the very air had come alive. Shadows whirled and danced inside a tent, boneless and terrible. A little girl ran barefoot toward a big house with a red door. Mirri Maz Duur shrieked in the flames, a dragon bursting from her brow. Behind a silver horse the bloody corpse of a naked man bounced and dragged. A white lion ran through grass taller than a man. Beneath the Mother of Mountains, a line of naked crones crept from a great lake and knelt shivering before her, their grey heads bowed. Ten thousand slaves lifted bloodstained hands as she raced by on her silver, riding like the wind. "Mother!" they cried. "Mother, mother!" They were reaching for her, touching her, tugging at her cloak, the hem of her skirt, her foot, her leg, her breast. They wanted her, needed her, the fire, the life, and Dany gasped and opened her arms to give herself to them . . .

To start, I would note that she asks her questions about the visions from the long hall.

Also, she saw 5 visions in the long hall, before finding the Undying (first as a splendor of wizards, the sixth "vision").

  1. A beautiful, naked woman being ravished by four little men who resemble the dwarf servitor.
  2. A feast of slaughtered corpses, with a dead man with a wolf's head sitting on a throne wearing an iron crown looking to Dany with mute appeal.
  3. Dany's childhood house with the red door, lemon tree, and Ser Willem.
  4. Aerys II Targaryen sits on a barbed throne and appears to give the order to burn the Red Keep during the Sack of King's Landing.
  5. Rhaegar Targaryen is with a woman and a baby. He names his son Aegon, says the child is "the prince that was promised" and "his is the song of ice and fire", then he seems to see Dany and says "There must be one more".
  6. A "splendor of wizards" who claim to be the Undying of Qarth and promise knowledge and gifts. Behind their ebony and wierwood door is another secret door. 

The Undying respond with six phrases.

  1. . . . the shape of shadows
  2. . . . morrows not yet made
  3. . . . drink from the cup of ice
  4. . . . drink from the cup of fire
  5. . . . mother of dragons
  6. . . . child of three . . .

Then they present the three trinities, the fires, mounts, and treasons.

Finally, they give her 9 visions, in three sets of three, followed by a flurry of further visions.

Despite the variety of images, I am of the opinion that there is a common thread to everything Dany sees in the house of the Undying... even if we can't work out every detail yet.

It’s been a while since I’ve read the books, but it really seems like the answers to Dany’s “prophecy’s of three” are written right there in the text or is that too straightforward?  She asks to be shown because she doesn’t understand and then they proceed to give her the visions.  So can each vision be tied to a prophecy?

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