I’ve said this before: Anything posted, mentioned, or derided on this blog, is in fact the property of its respective owner and copyright holder, and is used for purposes of entertainment, edification, and the advancement of bad taste, not profit. If you feel anything of yours is being unfairly used and maligned, think of how poor George R.R. Martin must feel.
…Do I really have to do this chapter? No one would notice if I just skipped it…oh, they would? Damn. Are you sure you wouldn’t rather look at these cute baby jackals instead?
Welcome to the point at which my readthru becomes NSFW, then. Dammit.
Daenerys 1 (3):
The scene opens on 13 year old Daenerys ‘Dany’ Targaryen and her older brother, Viserys, examining a silk dress. The dress is a gift from Magister Illyrio, the man they had been staying with for the past half year. Viserys and Illyrio are planning to marry Dany off to a man named Khal Drogo, in exchange for Drogo’s aid in reconquering Westeros. At least, this is what Viserys believes; Dany doubts Illyrio’s motives, but Viserys dismisses her concerns.
After Viserys leaves, Dany begins to reflect upon the past. Viserys had been eight, and she had not yet been born, when the Targaryens had been usurped and forced out of Westeros. She had been born on the island of Dragonstone, and her mother had died giving birth to her, which had earned her Viserys’ eternal eminity. Before they (supposedly) could be handed over to the Usurper, they were stolen from the nursery by Ser Willem Darry and four others. She remembers Ser Willem dimly, as a great but sickly man, and remembers the period where she lived in ‘the big house with the red door’ as the best period of her life.
When Willem died, they were kicked out of that house, and proceeded to wander around the continent, ‘pursued’ by assassins that Dany never saw. At first the various important people of the Free Cities were pleased to welcome the last of the Tagaryens, but as years went by more and more doors began to be closed to them. Dany just wanted to live a normal life, but Viserys was obsessed with reclaiming his family’s dominion.
Illyrio’s servants, slaves, arrive to dress Dany for the feast; one an old, silent woman, the other a chatterbox young girl. They bathe and dress Daenerys, and finally fasten a golden collar around her neck. The young girl claims she looks like a princess, but Dany remembers her earlier words, about how Khal Drago’s slaves all wear collars of gold, and feels a chill.
Viserys and Illyrio meet her in the entry hall. Viserys seems to have reoccuring doubts that Dany would be too young for Drogo, but Illyrio assures him that she will be to Drogo’s tastes, taking the opportunity to fawn over Viserys a bit. Together they set out, Viserys caught in dreams of conquest, with Illyrio taking every opportunity to reinforce Viserys’ obsession. Dany says nothing, but seems to take note of the distance between Viserys’ dreams and their reality.
They arrive at the manse of Khal Drogo, given to the Dothraki by the magisters of Pentos. They are stopped by a guard, who exchanges words in the Dothraki tongue with Illyrio. Viserys is angered by the guard’s attitude, but Illyrio easily diverts his attention to his imagined enemies.
Inside the manse, they are announced by name and title, and as Dany looks over the crowd she realizes that she is the only female present.
Illyrio points out three men that he says are Drogo’s ‘bloodriders’; one is named Ser Jorah Mormont, a knight wanted by the Usurper for selling poachers to slavers, rather than sending them to the Night Watch. Viserys mentions that he wants to speak to the knight.
Finally, Illyrio points out Khal Drogo to Dany. He was tall, graceful, and younger than she expected. Viserys points out his long braid, which indicates that he had never lost a fight. Dany looked at the khal, and his cruel demeaner frightened her worse than her brother ever had. She begs her brother to go home; but for Viserys, home is Westeros, and he needs this man to help him get it back. He ignores her pleas, and as Drogo approaches he instructs her to straighten up and smile, and she obeys.
I…I don’t even know where to start with this. I mean, seriously, what the hell. Where do I even begin? My soul in wincing in pain, and I barely have a soul to begin with…
Hang on a sec, I need a drink. I think the Unshaved Mouse left an open bottle somewhere around here…
Ok, I’m back. The chapter doesn’t look any better with a couple drinks in me, though. Erm.
Let me start here. While I was preparing this writeup, my wife, the lovely Lady Jackel, asked me an extremely relevant question out of the blue: “How does a writer make you hate someone?” I explained to her that in order to hate a character, you have to believe in it; that is, you have to be invested in the character somehow. I’m not sure my answer helped her, but it sure seems relevant right now, because I am absolutely hating these fucking characters right now. So good job, R.R., I believe in your characters. Because they suck.
Ya know, I summerized the chapter up above, there, but it could be argued that I missed a lot of the real highlights. Like 21 y.o. Viserys sexually molesting his 13 y.o. sister. Or how obviously bugfuck insane Viserys is: completely out of touch with reality. Or how the Targaryen line is inbred to a truly astounding degree, thus explaining (sort of) Viserys, and possible Dany too. Or how he and the Fat Bastard merchant, Illyrio (who’s creepy as fuck in his own right, mind you) are selling her to some “barbarian” leader in exchange, supposedly, for military support. Ok, so I kind of mentioned that last one, but it bears repeating, especially since at the end Viserys straight out tells Dany that he would let the entire tribe rape her if that would get him the support he thinks he needs. Obviously, the author is trying to piss me off, and let me just say, he is succeeding.
So, are you familiar with this thing called history at all? Yeah, its this story about the past of the so-called ‘real’ world, and you can find situations like this one. A lot. Hell, it’s nearly a “only the names have been changed” sort of situation. So yeah, in this history thing, people in general and women in specific tend to be treated like objects, interchangeable and replaceable. So in a way, the story being told here is both angering and boring, which is a neat trick.
You’re probably wondering why this is such a big deal to me. Well, you see, if I wanted to read something true to history, I could read a goddamn history book. Way back in the prologue, I was promised a fantasy. (Remember the Others? I think I’m starting to forget, myself.) This chapter is, at best, from the beginning of some period ‘romance’ novel. Sure, it isn’t based on the so-called ‘real’ world, but this alone does not a fantasy make. Oh, and the constant references to dragons does not count until you actually produce a dragon.
Know what else pisses me off? When I ask myself who my favorite character is in this chapter, it isn’t Daenerys, POV character and the one we are being, very obviously, asked to sympathize with. Yeah, poor girl, terrible circumstances, no agency, blah blah blah boring tropes. But you know who’s actually getting things done in this chapter? Who’s plans are coming to fruition, the big winner?
Fucking Magister Illyrio Mopatis.
Watching him play Viserys like a harp is literally the only fun I had in this chapter. Sure, it’s easy, because Vizzy isn’t sane enough to be a legit opponent, but at least Illyrio has a real plan, in which he plays his part to perfection. Probably has the moment he throws Vizzy under the bus planned to the minute, too. Sure, he’s some sort of slimy scumbag, but for the moment, he is a successful one. Wonder if it’s all going to fall apart on him. What am I saying, of course it will. This is AGoT, no one can ever succeed, right?
So whats my problem with Daenerys, you ask? Well, setting aside her victim status, which won’t last forever (as I recall) she’s supposed to be the actual sister of Vizzy, right? So, same bloodline and stuff. So why is she so much more sane than her brother. I mean, it’s implied, at least to a reader such as myself, that part of the Targaryens’ problems was inbreeding, with Vizzy being our star example. Yet she is continually catching his mistakes, and noticing everything that he doesn’t. It’s a really common double standard, based on a false equivalency: since women are (physically) weaker than men, they must be smarter and wiser to make up for it. This is bullshit; physical strength and mental strength are not related, ever. We as humans do everything in our power to imply that they are; the strong, dumb guy and the weak, smart guy are pervasive, but lies. Similarly women; and this is without even taking physical beauty into consideration. And my sentences are really fragmenting now, so obviously I need to change the subject for a while.
And you know. None of this is new. Lots of authors tell this story, and it doesn’t necessarily make for a bad starting point. However, lets summaries the various conflicts in the story so far: Others vs. Night Watch (and by implication everything south of the Wall, which is the conflict that drew me in and the only one I am really interested in); Stark vs. Mance Rayder (who might not exist); and Stark vs. King Robert and the Lannisters (not confirmed, but really, really, heavily implied). Even if this plotline goes forward, it will either become another front of a really messy war (Targaryen vs. Westeros) or it will not, and won’t have anything to do with the earlier plots at all. So, why even have it, except to illustrate what a ridiculously crappy world this is? I mean, I myself have Complexity Addiction, but this is getting stupid.
Oh, yes, and this is only the third actual chapter, and we’ve already travelled to a different continent. I’m almost fearing where we might end up next. A different world entirely, maybe?
I miss the Others. They were so fun, kind, and gentle. Sigh. Well, Winter will win eventually, I just have to hold out til then, I guess.
So yeah. Hated this chapter and everything it stood for. Here’s to hoping everything about it gets subverted to hell and back.
Excuse me, I’m going to go read the new Simon R. Green book now. As a palate cleanser. At some point, I’m going to work out a table of contents for this site, but its not going to be today. The pain….
Don’t worry, Dark One! The world isn’t all bad!
Awww. Thanks, jackal puppies!
Next time: Wait, so we’re actually back to the main plot now?