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tze

The Pyre Revisited

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I think one of the reasons the "Dany's fireproof!" theory keeps getting brought up despite all evidence to the contrary is because the exact nature of what happened to Dany (not the eggs, Dany herself) when she walked into the pyre hasn't really (from what I can see) been discussed. When I first read it I, like many others, assumed it meant Dany had some Targ-related fire immunity. But given what happens (and doesn't happen) in subsequent books, coupled with GRRM explicitly stating that Targs are not fireproof, on re-read that idea now strikes me as patently absurd. So if the point of the pyre wasn't to show Dany being fireproof, why did GRRM write it as he did? What's really happening to Dany on that pyre?

I think the key lies with Mirri Maz Duur, the only actual sorceress at that pyre. Dany is not a sorceress. She knows practically nothing about magic. She has not studied magic; none of her ancestors, from Aegon the Conqueror on down, are described as sorcerers (the exception, Bloodraven, seems to have gained his greenseer powers from the Blackwoods, not the Targs); and every other time she comes into contact with magic before and after that pyre, that magic has derived from somebody else (the Undying, Quaithe, etc.). Everything Dany "knows" about magic comes from a brief conversation with Mirri Maz Duur, her enemy, who claims to have studied magic for years (not . . . minutes, like Dany). We never see Dany "performing" any actual magic before or after that pyre, which is weird, given the way all the other magic-users' powers grow as the story progresses (the Starks pop to mind). So do we take our unreliable narrator's word for it and assume Dany survived that fire unscathed because she's "blood of the dragon"? I think an examination of the sequence of events leading up to Dany walking into the flames points in another direction.

Look at what actually happens on that pyre. Dany doesn't just light it up and immediately walk into the flames:

Tiny flames went darting up the wood like swift red mice, skating over the oil and leaping from bark to branch to leaf. A rising heat puffed at her face, soft and sudden as a lover's breath, but in seconds it had grown too hot to bear. Dany stepped backward.

Interesting. The fire was very explicitly "too hot" for Daenerys Targaryen "to bear" when she lit it, so she "stepped backward", away from the fire. Immediately after Dany backs away from the fire, unable to bear the heat,

The wood crackled, louder and louder. Mirri Maz Duur began to sing in a shrill, ululating voice. The flames whirled and writhed, racing each other up the platform. The dusk shimmered as the air itself seemed to liquefy from the heat. Dany heard logs spit and crack. The fires swept over Mirri Maz Duur. Her song grew louder, shriller . . . then she gasped, again and again, and her song became a shuddering wail, thin and high and full of agony.
:

Mirri Maz Duur is a witch, with proven magical abilities. Compare what she's doing on the pyre with what she did in Drogo's tent:

"Once I begin to sing, no one must enter this tent. My song will wake powers old and dark." . . . Mirri Maz Duur's voice rose to a high, ululating wail that sent a shiver down Dany's back. . . . Mirri Maz Duur wailing inside the tent like

nothing human . . . The sound of Mirri Maz Duur's voice was like a funeral dirge.

When we saw Mirri use magic in Drogo's tent, she was very explicitly singing. On the pyre, she was singing as if her life depended on it, singing even as the fire swept over her. And it's only after this, after Mirri sings, after the fire reaches Mirri and starts burning her, that Dany shows any resistance to the flames whatsoever:

The pyre roared in the deepening dusk like some great beast, drowning out the fainter sound of Mirri Maz Duur's screaming and sending up long tongues of flame to lick at the belly of the night. . . . The heat beat at the air with great red wings, driving the Dothraki back, driving off even Mormont, but Dany stood her ground. She was the blood of the dragon, and the fire was in her.

How interesting. The fire that was "too hot to bear" before Mirri starts her singing, before Mirri starts to burn . . . suddenly stops being too hot for Dany and her "blood of the dragon" to bear only after Mirri Maz Duur, the witch who sings her spells, who we've seen using a type of magic (shadow magic) that at least one other sorceress (Melisandre) has associated with fire, sings a song and burns alive.

And it's only after Mirri falls silent (and presumably dies) that Dany starts walking into the flames without being harmed.

This is not a sequence of events that, in my eyes, points to anything about Dany being the magical key to her fire resistance on the pyre. We saw this entire sequence of events solely through Dany's eyes. She sees survivng the pyre unscathed as her crowning moment of glory, her great vindication, a testament to her blood. She notes MIrri's song and fiery death, but as if from a distance---she's far more concerned with sililoquizing at great length about the wonderful, beautiful flames and about how she totally knows more than Mirri, a woman who's actually studied and worked at magic. If we'd seen this event through Mirri's eyes, would our understanding of what was actually going on here alter? I suspect it would.

When stories are told about witches being burned, the question people always ask is "Well, if she was really a witch, why didn't she just cast a spell that made herself immune to the fire?" Logically, if you have magic powers and some crazy person is trying to burn you alive, you'd try to use those magic powers to protect yourself from the flames. I think this is exactly what Mirri was trying to do on that pyre. When the fire comes, she's singing as if her life depends on it----and perhaps the whole point is that it did.

Yet why did Mirri burn while Dany didn't? Mirri is desperately singing even as the flames reach her body, and Dany even notes that the agony from the flames seems to be affecting Mirri's song. Look at the sequence of events Dany describes: notice how it's only after the flames reach Mirri, and her song is altered by her agony, that Dany starts experiencing the first glimmers of heat/fire immunity. Did Mirri get to finish her spell before the flames reached her and killed her? Did the agony from the flames cause her to accidentally miscast her spell?

If we look at Dany's fire immunity on the pyre, not as Dany's crowning moment of glory, but as the result of a botched fire-immunity spell of Mirri's, then I think several things pop into place. Why Mirri, who'd made it clear she thought Dany was a naive child, appeared to be casting a spell that ended up benefitting Dany (like Dany's later victories in Slaver's Bay, Dany benefits here not because of her own competence, but because of her enemy's incompetence). Why Dany, who's never demonstrated any magical abilities before or since, whose family members frequently died in fires, whose family funeral ritual involved cremation, and whose plot trajectory frequently involves her benefiting from other people's mistakes, is portrayed in conjunction with the outwardly "successful" harnessing of wild magic forces that Dany frankly knows nothing about. It's been a major theme thus far that people who try to save themselves by destroying others inadvertently destroy themselves, and that those who use fire/blood magic are not inherently immune to its effects (look at what nearly happened to Melisandre when Rattleshirt was burned, look at the fate of Valyria). I see no reason why Mirri Maz Duur would be exempt from the same karmic reckoning.

And this idea---that Dany's single instance of fire immunity really derived from a botched spell cast by Mirri---also brings up a point I haven't really seen discussed: namely, why did Dany's hair burn off at all? Hair burns easier even than flesh, and this obviously wasn't a case where there simply wasn't enough heat present to ignite hair. At first I thought this could be an issue where the magic in the pyre only protected "living" tissue, but if that were true, Dany's nails should have burned off along with her hair, since nails are also dead tissue---yet there's no indication that happened. But if we look at Dany's fire immunity on the pyre, not as evidence of some magic inherent in inbred Targ blood, but as evidence of Mirri Maz Duur botching a spell by trying to make herself fireproof and accidentally making Dany only mostly fireproof, the fact that Dany's hair burned off can be explained as evidence that the spell itself wasn't working properly.

(As a side note, I've seen the idea floated that Mirri was actually trying to hatch those eggs, that she wanted Dany to do what she did, but I think that's unlikely. Mirri didn't quietly acquiese to Dany's plan, she tried to get Dany to untie her. Mirri's whole spiel to Dany was basically "You're a child, you have no idea what you're doing, you don't understand the consequences of your actions and you're playing with forces you don't understand." Given that Dany, by attributing the pyre to some special qualities of her own rather than to the actual sorceress she sees apparently casting a spell, and especially through pretty much all of her later actions in Slaver's Bay, seems have proven Mirri right on all accounts, I sincerely doubt Mirri wanted Dany of all people to have access to three fire-breathing death machines, let alone that Mirri would have willingly sacrificed herself so Dany could hatch those eggs.)

And thematically, I think Dany being "the Unburnt" on the pyre looks less like Dany being "rewarded" for being an inbred Targ and more like Mirri being "punished" for messing with forces even she didn't fully understand.

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Really interesting.

While I'm not quite sure that I fully believe that MMD was trying to make herself fireproof and it flew off on her (to be honest I'm not sure what she was trying to do, exactly), I have suggested before that it was MMD herself who actually "used" magic on the pyre, not Dany. And you and most other people know that I firmly believe so-called Targaryen fire immunity is complete bollocks.

I think it's also worth noting that at least one of the eggs — Viserion's? — hatches before she really gets into the pyre. There are two cracks mentioned before she "stepped forward into the firestorm, calling to her children." I presume that each of those cracks was one of the eggs (the first one causes a bit of Viserion's shell to land at her feet), and then there's a third crack. I kind of take that to mean that the eggs were hatching anyway and that her presence in the pyre wasn't necessarily needed at all. She gets close enough to the fire for her vest to burn off, and she's sweating profusely, but it's only after the first two eggs have already hatched that she actually gets into the thick of it.

It is interesting because we keep trying to find out the X factor that caused these dragons to hatch, while the Summerhall dragons failed, despite having what appear to be nearly identical "ingredients." People keep pointing to Dany as being that X factor, but if, as I said, the dragons were well on their way to hatching before she really got into the pyre to them, that makes it seem like she herself was incidental in the whole thing. I'm sure she would remember it differently. :P

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Reading this post and going back to the book is revealing. This never occured to me. Dany, when she lit the pyre seemed to be thinking, what the hell, I have nothing to loose, If I fail, I am a fool but if I am right, then I have a new beginning and some devoted followers. She is clever to use MMD's own powers somewhat against her, syphoning off onto her and her dragon eggs. Dany creates an aura of herself that has travelled the World over, Mother of Dragons. Again, later in the series, she dodges dragonfire when approaching one of her children. Why dodge it if it cannot harm you?

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Again, later in the series, she dodges dragonfire when approaching one of her children. Why dodge it if it cannot harm you?

I noticed this, too. For someone who thinks (after the fact) that she can repeat an unburnt miracle, she sure as hell was trying to dodge Drogon's flames in the fighting pit.

For the record, I think that's ultimately how she's going to die, whether she ends up being benevolent or malevolent.

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I still think Mirri Maz Duur controlled the whole dragon hatching thing, with Dany as her champion, as Stannis is Melisandre´s.

MMD was the only person with magical knowledge present. She has been to Asshai. The other person who learned magic in Asshai, Melisandre, tries to raise dragons. MMD claims to be a priestess of the Great Shepaherd. This is highly unbelieveable, since the Great Shepherd is the (main/only ?) god of the Lazareen, a peaceful people and not very much into revenge.

I think MMD found out that all the right ingredients to hatch dragons where to be found at Drogo´s Khalasar, by flame or prearrangement. Dragon eggs, (Pregnant?)Targaryen, right time (red comet?), right place(volcanic activity?).

Drogo was wounded, I think it possible that MMD had a hand in that, too. MMD offered her help, trying to gain Dany´s trust she mentions that she learned from a Maester and Jorah Mormont confirms her story, so Dany lets MMD help even though the Dothraki hate Maegies. We later learn that the Maester, Marwyn is very interested in magic and most likely learned from MMD and not vice versa. MMD´s treatment is rejected by Drogo, which She was well aware of, I think. But she didn´t press Dany very urgently to follow her instructions, even considering that she was threatened with death by Drogo´s Blood Riders.

So Drogo fell (at the right place) and MMD told Dany there was nothing she could do. She even accused and insulted Dany for not following the instructions, so that Dany became desperate and at the right moment MMD let slip the possibility of using magic.

It´s the dance that Melisandre danced with Stannis.

Then she gives some essential explanations on blood magic that even Dany could follow. Next she tells Dany of the price, a life, to Dany´s relief it´s "just" Drogo´s horse.

A horse is the most important being to the Dothraki, I would guess to most of them even more important than their wifes. Furthermore a horse causes a lot of unrest and blood. And promptly fighting breaks out and causes Dany to deliver early, and Jorah to disrupt the "magical" ceremony.

Then Dany is told that she gave birth to a monster and is taunted by MMD until her dragon wakes and she decides to burn MMD along with Drogo and placing the dragon eggs in the pyre with the mad desperate faith of her inner dragon, that this is the right thing to do.

I´ve mentioned before, that I think volcanic activity might be needed to hatch dragons. And Dany bathed Drogo with tepid water that smelled of sulfur before she smothered him. I think it´s possible that Dany´s losses helped to build her desperate faith, that I think is needed for the magic. But I think magic will always claim it´s price afterwards and you cannot be shure what this price will be.

@FuzzyJam

Mirri Maz Duur makes it sound like she believed in the prophesy of the Stallion. She taunts Dany by putting the blame for the events on her. And Dany can´t contradict her because everything MMD says is true, I believe. I think it shows how easily people are manipulated when emotions take over.

Dany saving MMD´s life and Eroeh from rape shows how little she understands the big picture, but it is an act of compassion. Dany´s turn to the darker side comes later, in my opinion. The crucifixion of 168 random meereenese nobles in retaliation put her at level with Tywin Lannister in my view.

I think it´s possible that MMD provokes Dany just to get out at her terms at a point when her death seems inevitable and all the meaning of her life had been destroyed. It´s just that it doesn´t fit with the view I had formed of the nature of the lazareene culture, which of course stands on clay feet given how litttle we know about them.

Furthermore I don´t like the idea of the dragons hatching being an accident, and even less that it was Dany´s targaryen power. Since I´m prone to believing in conspiracy theories, I constructed the view that MMD was recruited by the Faith of Rh´llor when she was in Asshai.

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I read with interest. Yes, what happened on the pyre needs an explanation and I agree that Mirri Maz Durr's ululating voice is a sign of a spell. That Dany backed away from the fire before the song began is significant as well.

When I come across your posts, tze, I usually enjoy what you say in particular that you are creative and don't repeat conventional wisdom. But the notion of botched magic makes me uncomfortable. It's not a good plot device especially since the magic is not clear in the first place. An explanation with elegant magical principles would be far more satisfying to me.

Mirri Maz Durr does not fear for her life in the story: she says that life is worth nothing when everything else is gone and she says "You will not hear me scream" and there is the passage

The godswife did not cry out as they dragged her to Khal Drogo’s pyre and staked her down amidst his treasures.

Nevertheless, there is this little line

“I will,” Dany said, “but it is not your screams I want, only your life. I remember what you told me. Only death can pay for life.” Mirri Maz Duur opened her mouth, but made no reply. As she stepped away, Dany saw that the contempt was gone from the maegi’s flat black eyes; in its place was something that might have been fear.

I think Mirri opened her mouth in surprise, as she understood that something magical will happen. Of course death by fire is horrible, but whatever fear there is has nothing to do with the perspective of pain, or the fear of death. It's more the apprehension of something mystical. So Mirri's spell is not about protecting herself from the fire. Interestingly, she uses the same magic (ululating voice) than in the tent. So the same powers might have been recalled on the pyre.

Mirri Maz Durr seems in fact competent and her capabilities are impressive. We hardly see any greater sorcerer in the whole story. Here is a little study of her magic I did for myself, and which might be useful for the discussion. She says.

My mother was godswife before me, and taught me all the songs and spells most pleasing to the Great Shepherd, and how to make the sacred smokes and ointments from leaf and root and berry. When I was younger and more fair, I went in caravan to Asshai by the Shadow, to learn from their mages. Ships from many lands come to Asshai, so I lingered long to study the healing ways of distant peoples. A moonsinger of the Jogos Nhai gifted me with her birthing songs, a woman of your own riding people taught me the magics of grass and corn and horse, and a maester from the Sunset Lands opened a body for me and showed me all the secrets that hide beneath the skin.

If we assume Mirri Maz Durr is sincere, there are three types of magic that she learnt, in addition to her native knowledge.

The maester is Marwyn, and whatever knowledge he taught Mirri is likely to be maester's knowledge. Though, it is good to keep in mind that Marwyn is bit particular since he is the only master who can say that that "All Valyrian magic is based on blood and fire". Moreover, Marwyn seems to share a secret or two with Qyburn, who is the one who managed to make Gregor Clegane survive beyond death, in a manner not unlike what happened to Drogo. Finally, Mirri Maz Durr might have learnt about dragons from Marwyn, the best specialist on the subject among maesters, and probably familiar with the fabled book locked in the Citadel.

The magic of the riding people does not evoke much for me. But the funeral pyre is a dothraki tradition, and it's possible that the burning funeral ritual has to do with the sacrificed horse bringing the soul of the dead to some kind of heaven. (There is a similar tradition in certain Siberian/central Asian people.)

More interesting is the moonsinger connection. There is a discussion of the moonsingers and Jogos Nhai in the thread "Howl at the Moon" in the ADwD forum. The moonsingers are noted for their birthing songs and for having led the escaped Valyrian slaves to Braavos. The tradition appears from time to time in the story, notably It's likely that Val and Dalla belong to that tradition (Val does sing to Craster's son). I would tend to think that Mirri Maz Durr's song was essential in the birth of the dragons, and would therefore agree with Lykos. Whether it was intentional remains to be seen.

However the picture first given by Mirri is not complete. She left away the Shadowbinder magic from Asshai.

Mirri Maz Duur sat back on her heels and studied Daenerys through eyes as black as night. “There is a spell.” Her voice was quiet, scarcely more than a whisper. “But it is hard, lady, and dark. Some would say that death is cleaner. I learned the way in Asshai, and paid dear for the lesson. My teacher was a bloodmage from the Shadow Lands.”

It's the magic Mirri claims to use when she sings in the ululating voice. Those voices are heard also in the Eastern Market of Vaes Dothrak, by the "spell singers", and our fellow boarder Elaena Targaryen has speculated that spellsingers is another name for moonsingers.

(And I am not sure that Dany's child is dead and that he was what Mirri said. But I guess that's off topic.)

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I'll allow myself to throw in a bit of my own crackpot. Try not to lapidate me.

Has any of you considered, that while atop the pyre, Mirri could make a semi-warging attempt to switch bodies with Dany (maybe something resembling Steven King's mind invasion, "Dark tower" style)? It's maybe hard to comprehend, but could it be Mirri, who descended from the fire unburnt? Since the birth of the dragons, Dany seems to become sterner and more ruthless, than she appeared to be before it. As we know from Varamir's prologue POV, a warg's consciousness is starting to fade after his body's physical death, so maybe Mirri's grip on Dany's mind is pretty subtle.

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Just want to add my 2 cents. While Dany is clearly not immune to fire, there is some sort of affinity for fire that Dany has that GRRM kind of goes out of his way to build up. In AGOT she always talks about how she likes her baths with scolding hot water because the fire cleanses. In ADWD she does get burned when Drogon returns, but I think Barristan describes her hair as being on fire (an interesting link to her hair again), so clearly there is something going on with fire and Dany.

IMHO MMD was casting some sort of spell to be immune to fire right before she died, but it was a spell that could only work for Dany because of her Targ blood and her "affinity" for fire.

It is interesting because we keep trying to find out the X factor that caused these dragons to hatch, while the Summerhall dragons failed, despite having what appear to be nearly identical "ingredients." People keep pointing to Dany as being that X factor, but if, as I said, the dragons were well on their way to hatching before she really got into the pyre to them, that makes it seem like she herself was incidental in the whole thing. I'm sure she would remember it differently. :P

I always thought the X factor was Dany sacrificing her spouse, which always tied into AAR and the story about Lightbringer. (I'm sure this has been said many times before).

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Very interesting indeed! I thought it odd that GRRM was so vociferous about Dany not being fire-resistant/proof on the pyre even though we seen heat affinity in Egg and she weathers Drogon's heat-blast breath in ADWD. And here we have an explanation.

Ah ha. I believe you've hit a seething nerve. nice.

On Mirri Maz Dur's Magical Principles

A Botching or incompletion?

I don't have a problem with botched magic as suggested by tze. Mirri does warn Daenerys before singing over the just-shy-of-dead Drogo that this kind of spell/magic is hard and messy (by its very nature), even if Mirri is incredibly skilled and widely experienced.

Mirri Maz Duur sat back on her heels and studied Daenerys through eyes as black as night. “There is a spell.” Her voice was quiet, scarcely more than a whisper. “But it is hard, lady, and dark. Some would say that death is cleaner.

In dealing with dangerously unpredictable forces (that must be tamed rather than directed) one might expect this. I suggest a two-phase process, where the first is dangerous is if the second isn't successful.

However I can appreciate your reservations Bran Vras. I think there are principles to glean.

A Two-phase Spell:

Let's see what Mirri does tell us.

"... Once I begin to sing, no one must enter this tent. My song will wake powers old and dark. The dead will dance here this night. No living man must look on them."

We know that Asshai is famed for its mages, but in particular for its shadowbinders. Here Mirri describes the process (for which her singing is employed) as waking ancient powers. I suspect that there is a two-step process. First one must wake or summon the shadow or shade or power and then one must bind it to the world and to the mage's will or intent or target.

Phase 1:

Mirri tells us in the above quote that she sings to accomplish the first phase of the spell, that is the waking/summoning part.

Phase 2:

But let us look at what happens in the tent with Drogo where she was given time to (and presumably did) finish her spell.

The tent was aglow with the light of braziers within. Through the blood-spattered sandsilk, she glimpsed shadows moving.

Mirri Maz Duur was dancing, and not alone.

Here Mirri is not only singing but also dancing...And not alone. Presumably Mirri is now dancing with the shadows she has summoned in order to bind them so that they might serve her purpose (whatever that truly was).

She orders everyone to stay out for they own safety, suggesting that shadows themselve, once summoned but before they are bound, are deadly dangerous. (I personally suspect that while may be true, she could have protected another present but did not wish anyone to see what was really going on. But the gaunt & haunted Jorah DID see something when he brought Dany into the tent).

On the Funeral Pyre:

Tied to the funeral pyre Mirri in fact does this phase-one singing, but this is all she does. We do not know she finished or even if there is a sequence to the singing at all. I believe her phase-one singing was in fact successful and she has now summoned whatever dread shade to the area, to the funeral pyre - she continued to sing while burning even if one could hear the strain of her agony in it.

However we do not see Mirri dancing to bind the newly summoned power/shadow/shade.

Mirri Maz Duur began to sing in a shrill, ululating voice. The flames whirled and writhed,

racing each other up the platform. The dusk shimmered as the air itself seemed to liquefy from the heat. Dany heard logs spit and crack. The fires swept over Mirri Maz Duur. Her song grew louder, shriller . . . then she gasped, again and again, and her song became a shuddering wail, thin and high and full of agony.

Lyrically, GRRM suggests that the flames (in the presence of an unseen summoned shade-shadow) were themselves dancing ...presumably awaiting/seeking/ready for a dancing partner. But none were present except the Dance of Dragons in the Eggs. I do not think that Mirri's shudder constitutes a "dance".

Dragon's and Shades:

It has been said many times that only death can pay for life, that the blood of kings was particularly important. We see in the Stark legacy that ancestral shades are given very prominent importance. There are elaborate practices to engage and restrict (simultaneously, ironically) the (probably Warg) Kings of Winter going back into the mists of time.

Perhaps the presence of a shade or a shadow is required to birth a dragon. Perhaps the power of King's blood has something to do his Kingship being hereditary and his connection with a long lineage of ancestors. So if a king's death is needed to fuel a dragon birth perhaps it is not the death itself but the binding of their shade. It may be that Drogon isn't figuratively the embodiment of Khal Drogo (in Dany's life) but quite literally. Maybe this is why she feels whole riding Drogon.

We have seen that Wargs can leave a piece of themselves in ravens they once warged, as Bloodraven explains to Bran. So this suggests that in GRRM's world the soul (for lack of a world) is a substantive something that can be harness, captured/bound, or utilized. Its more than abstract, especially for a wizard.

Winterfell and Stark Shades:

Regarding speculations that there is a dormant dragon under Winterfell, possibly as the source of its heated water, perhaps this and the shades of past Starks are linked. Perhaps the Iron Swords are for _their_ protection so that they are not bound into living dragons rather than to protect the living from shades. It is worth noting that the deeply mysterious dragon sighting at Winterfell was right after Bran, Rickon, Osha and Hodor removed FOUR swords from the Stark Crypts.

More speculatively:

Perhaps mother Dragons, as magical beasts, capture their own shades to feed the egg hatching. Perhaps this is why the Warrior's Sons were Demonhunters and Dragonslayers (synonomous in this context) because Dragons were quite literally the embodiment of Demons/shades which the Faith of the Seven claimed existed in Hell.

A comparison between Melisandre and Mirri:

The other seeming shadowbinder we see is Melisandre. I wonder how her methods relate to this. Mirri has had many teachers so perhaps her methods are more a "concocted" patchwork of syncretic magic. But Melisandre comes out of a long-established order with a long-term structured tutelage. Melisandre binds her shadow to Stannis (from Stannis) first and moves through her to enter the world. We do not see how she directs the shadows at Renly or Penrose exactly.

I am not sure the two-phases are as clearly evident in Melisandre's method, which seems related but distinct.

Perrhaps Melisandre are opposites in the same tradition (Jedi & Sith are akin & apart from others). Melisandre strongly hints, no virtually declares, that the process involves a sexual component with Stannis (though maybe she just wanted to make him feel uncomfortable and test his buttons). Mirri on the other hand is literally a Godswife of the Lhazareen Lamb god, presumably celebate ...like the Priestess/Pythia of the Delphi Oracle and Christian Nuns symbolically wed to Apollo and Jesus respectively.

Melisandre deals primarily in light and visuals (her glamours, the fires, visual presence). Mirri deals primarily in song and auditories (Sings, whispers to Dany, etc). ---Significance?

The do suspect that we have never seen the dignified Melisandre once sing or dance.

Perhaps one of you can better analyse the relation between Melisandre's and Mirri's methods...

It is very interesting that Mirri is primarily a midwife and learned the birthing songs of moonsingers. And then it is through giving birth that Melisandre looses her shadow on the world.

We don't see what becomes of the Melisandre's shadows after they kill, but perhaps by killing their mark they open a gate through which they can return to their world with the newly deceased, and maybe that's what they desire. What does a newly summoned shade WANT? And how does a shadowbinder exploit this?

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On Mirri's last intentions:

I still think Mirri Maz Duur controlled the whole dragon hatching thing, with Dany as her champion, as Stannis is Melisandre´s.

I think this is an interesting topic, and not as obvious. Yes, Mirri was defiant to the last and refused to grant Dany any satisfaction. But she may have realized that Dany was not her terrifying son or like the hordes of unfazed Dothraki killers. She tells us she was a healer and violence was not her way. But there is also the taste of vengeance in her telling of Rhaego's death, even if it was the compassionate act for the world at large.

So Mirri may have summoned the shade to protect herself (too late). Mirri is explicit that she will be dancing with the dead in Drogo's tent. Sam and previous author's in knights watch have speculated that the intense Cold follows the White Walkers (rather than the White Walkers arriving when it is cold). So perhaps the mere Presence of these dead was intended to cool the fire. Or perhaps something more sophisticated to free her. Mirri must have realized she could not dance (maybe she could wit her legs and body...-?-), so perhaps their presence was the extent of her plan.

In the spirit of vengeance with nothing to lose Mirri may have intended to spirits to harm Daenerys, and the maurauding Dothraki. But without proper binding the shades were more interested in the Dragons.

Alternatively, knowing she would die anyway she thought it more important to bring magick back into the world through the birth of three dragons. Throughout Mirri seems to emphasize her role as a healer. In the first account of her magical training she only mentions magics relating to healing (Though she is trying to convince Dany that she is of value to her as a healer and midwife, and thus be saved by her). But when she later speaks of how her life means nothing alone she reaffirms that everything that was meaningful to her was tied up in her identity as a healer. So perhaps this was her last act as a healer towards the world, but I doubt it since Dragons are creatures of War and Destruction. But perhaps in the end she acted as a maegi rather than as a healer deciding that magick was more important than the destructive potential of Dragons. I am a little doubtful on this proposition but its bears consideration.

----

In light of my proposed two-phase sing-dance theory of Mirri's method, I find it shtrange that she should begin a spell whose conclusion requires her to dance when she is bound (even if only partially). Maybe she thought the rope would burn in time for her to perform the dance, even if she was already ablaze herself.

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Just want to add my 2 cents. While Dany is clearly not immune to fire, there is some sort of affinity for fire that Dany has that GRRM kind of goes out of his way to build up. In AGOT she always talks about how she likes her baths with scolding hot water because the fire cleanses. In ADWD she does get burned when Drogon returns, but I think Barristan describes her hair as being on fire (an interesting link to her hair again), so clearly there is something going on with fire and Dany.

Yeah, he clearly made sure to point out a few times when she wasn't as hot as she should have been, etc. And GRRM is correct when he says Targaryeans aren't immune to fire - Viserys, etc all burned. Maybe it comes from the Dragon not the Targaryean blood, IE the dragon makes whoever it bonds with immune to fire.

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Yeah, he clearly made sure to point out a few times when she wasn't as hot as she should have been, etc. And GRRM is correct when he says Targaryeans aren't immune to fire - Viserys, etc all burned. Maybe it comes from the Dragon not the Targaryean blood, IE the dragon makes whoever it bonds with immune to fire.

Thanks Lord Ben, I was thinking along the same lines. :)

On Targaryens:

While they Targaryens may not be fireproof we do see a heat affinity in Dunk and Dany likes the heat (though not as hot as a funeral pyre or dragonflame). So there may be something there, but its not clear cut or widespread amongst Targs. Though we see Dany resist burning in ADWD against Drogon's heat-blast breath. But maybe this has more to do with her connection to Drogo, her child. (a littl wargish, but let's not rule it out).

What we DO have a strong suggestion of is that Dragons seem to like Targaryens (though not universally, or unconditinally ...sorry Quentyn). If you hurt them they will lash back. Targ dragon affinity is substantively documented (or so we glean from Tyrion), but this may be propaganda. In Dany's case it may simply be imprinting because she was the first thing they saw after birth so now they see her as 'Mother', even suckling on her.

So perhaps her connection which she describes with strong conviction after riding Drogo (even though he still asserts a will of his own) is convincing in my opinion.

We saw how when Dany could no longer handle the rigours and affronts of her Dothraki life she "connects" with the Dragon eggs (from which only she can feel heat emanating), she suddenly and magically (I use the term loosely here) experiences a surge of strength and life. The dragons eggs are the turning point for her struggle and journey with the Dothraki, and personally overall.

We also saw that, even before any definitive warging took place, Bran healed better and quicker when his direwolf Summer was near and could be heard. Eventually, Bran crossed the Rubicon and recovered fully (barring his legs) when Summer was allowed to actually sleep with him continuously. I think Bran's connection to Summer had a special effect even without actual warging.

Perhaps this sort of process contributed to Dany not being burnt by Drogon's breath in the fighting pit. Rather than the act of courage and authority that "tamed" (sort of) Drogon, maybe it was evidence of a bond that had been formed then. Maybe Dany is more resistant to heat in Drogon's presence. The magical and properties of a dragon "leak" into her.

Targaryens may not be explicit Wargs (or as strongly so as the Starks), but they DO history of magick. Aside from the Dragon-affinity (dragons are magical) and questionable relationship with Fire (pun intended), there is also long tradition of prophesy in the Targaryens. Aenar Targaryen, a noble in Valyria before the Doom, had prophetic visions (which his daughter had written down and published in a book called Sign and Portents). Daeron 'The Drunken' Targaryen, son of Maekar and oldest brother of Aegon 'Egg' V also had prophetic dreams. In fact I think Bloodraven was so powerful (eventually the Great Greenseer himself) because he was the convergence of the Targaryen and First Men lineages.

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On Dancing with Dragons:

...As an aside (worthy of musing), with the prominence of and association with dancing and song in this sort of magick what is the true and deeper significance of the book title (included, importantly, in the original trilogy plan): "A Dance with Dragons"?? It suddenly takes on a very deep and resonant dark dread. For me, much like the eerie Stark epithet of "There must always be a Stark at Winterfell". Let us not forget that GRRM ends his first book with the words "...the night came alive with

the music of dragons"!

The 'Song of Ice and Fire' has many potential symbolisms. One obvious one is the clash of the White Walkers vs. Fire (& Dragons), two magical races. But perhpas they are more intertwined. If the Dragons contain the shades of the Dead then they perhpas the Dance with the Dragons is to the tune of a Song of Ice and Fire, and mirrors the ritual Mirri Maz Dur demonstrates which ultimately birthed the dragons. Perhaps this dancing with the shades that began with the Dragons' birth continues and plays out in various ways, subtle and fluid.

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My apologies if I am unduly monopolizing the space and voice on this thread by posting so many long posts in succession... (I had something to say <shrug>) :ohwell: :uhoh:

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Yeah, he clearly made sure to point out a few times when she wasn't as hot as she should have been, etc. And GRRM is correct when he says Targaryeans aren't immune to fire - Viserys, etc all burned. Maybe it comes from the Dragon not the Targaryean blood, IE the dragon makes whoever it bonds with immune to fire.

Thanks Lord Ben, I was thinking along the same lines. :)

Nope. The primary SSM that we use to let people know that Targs aren't fireproof is a response to someone asking, "Do Targs become immune when they get their dragons," or something to that effect. GRRM answers and says no, Targs aren't fireproof. He says nothing about it in relation to dragons, like, "They aren't fireproof but become so when they bond to dragons." No, they're not fireproof, period.

I also feel compelled to point out that the Aegon who liked hot baths and could stand Dornish summers is the same Aegon who died in the fire at Summerhall. So I wouldn't be taking any of that too seriously. There's a big difference between liking things hot and being able to survive being burned alive.

If you're right about Bloodraven's power being the result of Targ blood and First Men blood being mixed, what implications might that have for Jon?

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Dany heats the eggs several times before they go in to the fire. That may be why the eggs begin to crack before she actually walks into the pyre.

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When Dany wakes up after her miscarriage, she asks for her eggs. MMD brings her the ivory egg. She holds it in her arms until her fever breaks. She feels it move. The ivory egg is placed between Drogo's legs. It cracks first.

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It is interesting because we keep trying to find out the X factor that caused these dragons to hatch, while the Summerhall dragons failed, despite having what appear to be nearly identical "ingredients."

as far as we know, the need for dragons was not at summerhall.

dany was alone in the world. the targs were dying out. her people stranded. the gods respond to people in need.

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I think the key lies with Mirri Maz Duur, the only actual sorceress at that pyre. Dany is not a sorceress. She knows practically nothing about magic. She has not studied magic

grrm has said himself that magic isn't something that should be well-defined in fiction.

in my opinion, you don't study magic. you do it. it's natural. mirri amz duur and melisandre and even varamyr sixskins can hone their skills all their lives, but will never match dany or bran in terms of power.

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Yeah, he clearly made sure to point out a few times when she wasn't as hot as she should have been, etc. And GRRM is correct when he says Targaryeans aren't immune to fire - Viserys, etc all burned. Maybe it comes from the Dragon not the Targaryean blood, IE the dragon makes whoever it bonds with immune to fire.

While they Targaryens may not be fireproof we do see a heat affinity in Dunk and Dany likes the heat (though not as hot as a funeral pyre or dragonflame). So there may be something there, but its not clear cut or widespread amongst Targs. Though we see Dany resist burning in ADWD against Drogon's heat-blast breath. But maybe this has more to do with her connection to Drogo, her child. (a littl wargish, but let's not rule it out).

I'd suggest you both check out this thread: The idea that Targaryens in general, or Dany in particular, have any "natural" fire resistance or immunity (even one that only "manifests" in the presence of dragons) has IMO been pretty thoroughly debunked.

Targaryens may not be explicit Wargs (or as strongly so as the Starks), but they DO history of magick. Aside from the Dragon-affinity (dragons are magical) and questionable relationship with Fire (pun intended), there is also long tradition of prophesy in the Targaryens.

That's the thing, though: Dany shows no warging aptitude whatsoever (she rides on Drogon's back but she never sees through his eyes) and we don't actually know that you need some inherent magical ability to ride on a dragon's back---they seem to respond to shows of fearlessness, not blood (look at Quentyn, not as proving an exception to the "rule", but as showing the "rule's" inherent invalidity). Having visions doesn't equate to an ability to cast spells---Jojen Reed has visions but he's never been shown capable of casting even a single spell. We've been told a great deal about the great sorceries of Valyria---the glass candles that could see across vast distances, the sorceries that created the topless towers of Valyria and could shape stone like a potter shapes clay----and yet there's been no indication that the Targs could ever do any of those things (we don't know they built Dragonstone, a place seemingly built via sorcery, but we do know they built the Red Keep . . . a place that's not magical). Valyria itself was associated with sorcerers, but the Targs? Not so much.

But the notion of botched magic makes me uncomfortable. It's not a good plot device especially since the magic is not clear in the first place. An explanation with elegant magical principle would be far more satisfying to me.

. . .

Mirri Maz Durr seems in fact competent and her capabilities are impressive. We hardly see any greater sorcerer in the whole story.

For me, I find the idea of human magic-users not being shown screwing up----that their spells always work out exactly as they intend----to be at odds with 1) the nature of magic in ASOIAF, and 2) at odds with the greater narrative itself (which is filled to overflowing with people taking actions that lead to unforeseen consequences). Magic has been portrayed as wild, a force that humans can tap into but which they don't truly understand. The most powerful and competent magic-users I think we've seen (the skinchangers/greenseers), the ones whose abilities seem intuitive, the ones who don't appear reliant on things like verbal spells---are the same group primarily associated with not being human: becoming animals, becoming weirwood trees, a magic that was born, not from humanity, but from the nonhuman Children of the Forest. Humans are fallible, and magic (especially blood magic) is extremely volatile and dangerous. Mirri had studied magic for years, she'd successfully pulled off at least one major spell---but as Dalla says, magic is a sword without a hilt, and it cannot be grasped safely. Mirri was not exactly operating in optimum conditions here, and as I stated, I think there's evidence that whatever magic process Mirri was attempting was interrupted and altered when the flames reached her body. And I don't think the idea that whatever magic Mirri was working backfired on her is at odds with the themes GRRM has been playing with thus far---I think it's the most accurate distillation of those themes.

(And on a side note: Dany tells Mirri she needs her life, not her suffering. But Dany's actual knowledge of magic is extremely flimsy. We know one life can be exchanged for another----perhaps one person's suffering can also be exchanged for another person's suffering? That would explain why the only time Dany's been immune to fire occurred contemporaneously with another woman being burned alive. Dany said she didn't need Mirri to suffer . . . but perhaps she actually did, and when she claimed otherwise, she was simply demonstrating, not her knowledge, but her igorance. That if Mirri hadn't burned, Dany would have.)

I think there are basically three options for what Mirri's intentions here were. Option 1 is that Mirri wanted Dany to hatch those eggs, wanted Dany to have fire-breathing death machines, and was manipulating Dany into sticking Mirri on the pyre. While I can see where that idea comes from, especially given Mirri's (supposed) prior manipulations, I have a great deal of difficulty syncing it up with what little we do know about Mirri's goals. Dany's dragons have not brought peace, only destruction, because that seems to be the whole point of dragons. Look at what Mirri says to Dany after Rhaego's death:

"It was wrong of them to burn my temple," the heavy, flat-nosed woman said placidly. "That angered the Great Shepherd."

"This was no god's work," Dany said coldly. If I look back I am lost. "You cheated me. You murdered my child within me."

"The stallion who mounts the world will burn no cities now. His khalasar shall trample no nations into dust,"

"I spoke for you," she said, anguished. "I saved you."

"Saved me?" The Lhazareen woman spat. "Three riders had taken me, not as a man takes a woman but from behind, as a dog takes a bitch. The fourth was in me when you rode past. How then did you save me? I saw my god's house burn, where I had healed good men beyond counting. My home they burned as well, and in the street I saw piles of heads. I saw the head of a baker who made my bread. I saw the head of a boy I had saved from deadeye fever, only three moons past. I heard children crying as the riders drove them off with their whips. Tell me again what you saved."

This does not sound to me like a person who would be in favor of giving the Khaleesi dragons, of increasing her ability to burn cities and trample nations into dust. Do we really think Mirri wanted Dany of all people to have the ability to raze even more cities to the ground? Her entire diatribe involves telling Dany that 1) Someone who destroys other people's homes and lives needs to be taken out, not encouraged, and 2) she specifically and repeatedly associates such evil destruction with burning. We have no reason to think Mirri was somehow lying about the nature of the horrors the Dothraki wrought upon the Lamb Men, and there's no indication that Mirri was somehow okay with that destruction. I have difficulty looking at this and interpreting it as Mirri wanting to burn alive for the greater power and glory of the Khaleesi. Quite the opposite.

Look at what she says before the pyre:

"You do not have the words to make a spell, nor the wisdom to find them. Do you think bloodmagic is a game for children? You call me maegi as if it were a curse, but all it means is wise. You are a child, with a child's ignorance."

On the one hand, yes, it does seem that Mirri fears Dany will in fact be able to hatch those eggs by sacrificing Mirri, and she clearly wants Dany to think the ritual won't work. But that points to Mirri not wanting those eggs to hatch in the first place, not that she really wanted Dany to burn her and thought Dany needed an extra push to do so (Dany had clearly already made up her mind by that point.) And at the same time: Is any of the above really inaccurate? Are readers meant to look at that and say, oh no, Mirri definitely doesn't know what she's talking about here? Dany doesn't have the words to make a spell---she's never made a spell, before or since the pyre. Bloodmagic isn't a game for children, Dany isn't wise (her "knowledge" consists of a single concept, not years of study and effort), and she is ignorant in so many ways (something that gets hammered home time and again in her story arc). On the pyre, Dany starts thinking about how Mirri was totally wrong . . . but are readers really meant to agree with Dany? I don't think we are.

And after Mirri lectures Dany, Dany has Mirri whipped. I doubt that engendered feelings of sisterhood and goodwill.

Option 2 is that Mirri did in fact want the dragon eggs to hatch, but intended to reap the benefit herself. Remember: what were the Valyrians before they found dragons in the Fourteen Fires? Supposedly, they were shepherds. Mirri is pissed about the destruction of everything she loves, and even without the Stallion that Mounts the World, the Dothraki are still a huge threat to the Lamb Men. Mirri might have thought that dragons, in the control of a godswife of the Lamb Men, could be her people's salvation. That might explain the bits that cause some people to look at this scenario and think Mirri was manipulating Dany---she might have been, and just intended the benefits Dany got to actually go to Mirri herself.

Option 3 is that Mirri explicitly did NOT want those eggs to hatch, and her actions in the pyre were intended to stop that completely. From her reaction to Dany's pronouncement of needing her life, it's quite possible that Mirri knew that this ritual was going to work. So how to stop it? Mirri knew that Dany needed Mirri to die for those eggs to hatch . . . well, the way to forestall that would have been, as I speculated, to try and prevent herself from burning in the first place.

On a general note, I agree with the notion that Mirri was okay with dying. She'd lost everything she loved, I just disagree with the notion that Mirri was okay with her death being used to provide Dany with three dragons. Mirri says that life is worthless "when all the rest is gone", and she "placidly" accepts responsibility for Rhaego's death. But at that point, Dany had made no dragon-egg-related overtures. It didn't take a rocket scientist to understand that this was never going to end well for Mirri once Rhaego died, but it wasn't initially obvious that Dany was going to kill Mirri like this, to achieve this. I think Mirri believed she was sacrificing herself to save countless others from the Stallion. But if Dany succeeded in using Mirri's death to hatch dragon eggs, then Mirri would not be a martyr who saved thousands of future innocent lives, she'd be a tool for future Dothraki-related destruction (as Dany still considered herself a Khaleesi and most of her followers then were Dothraki). I can't see Mirri, given the surrounding circumstances, being okay with that, or in any way working to further that goal, given the way she reacts to conquerers coming in and burning her own home.

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