By the Seven Despairs, I hate this book.
So you’ve mentioned.
You know, I’m sure Mr. Martin is an OK sort of guy, and I acknowledge that he is an effective writer — but seriously, what kind of mind looks at this story and thinks, “You know what this needs? Statutory rape.”
Book Spirit: It’s not against their law, you know —
Book Spirit: And it’s not like arranged marriages weren’t common in your so-called real world —
Book Spirit: Still are common, in some places —
Darkness take you, I said I’m aware! Stop giving me reasons to start breaking things!
Book Spirit: …can I ask? What would you have done differently?
…Blood on the Gate, I don’t know, you damned spirit. I’m aware that bad things have to happen, or there is no story. But I read, and write, for enjoyment, and there is nothing enjoyable about this chapter. At all.
Haaa… No point in putting it off any longer. Here goes.
Daenerys 2 (11)
This is the wedding of Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo. Forty thousand of his Dothraki warriors, along with an unknowable number of children, women, and slaves, have descended upon Pentos, and their continuing presence outside the city walls were making the residents nervous.
Ser Jorah Mormont, the exile, had offered his sword to Viserys the night Daenerys had been bartered away, and now he attended the Targaryens at all times. In exchange for Dany, the khal had promised Viserys a crown, and the unstable young man was becoming impatient. Magister Illyrio continued to sooth him, promising that the Dothraki were men of their word, and they would march when the time was right. Ser Jorah counselled patience as well, but Viserys took umbrage to the implication that he was a lesser man than Drogo and would have to wait on his whim. “The dragon does not beg,” he said, but Daenerys thinks to herself that there were no more dragons. But that night, she dreamt of her brother beating her, until he was consumed by a dragon’s flames…
But her wedding has arrived, and Daenerys is afraid. The ceremony lasts all day, from dawn to dusk. Drogo’s people feast, and dance, and have sex, and kill each other. A dozen men die in impromptu duels over the course of the day. Illyrio had explained to her that the Dothraki had different customs, there being no privacy in the khalasar, but to Dany they seem like beasts, rather than men. Her fear increases as the day wears on, but she keeps smiling as her brother had instructed her.
Once the sun is low in the sky, Khal Drogo brought the festivities to a halt, so that Daenerys could receive her bridal gifts. Her brother gave her three handmaids (via Illyrio, of course), one to teach her the Dothraki tongue, one to teach her to ride, and one to instruct her in “womanly arts”. Ser Jorah, protesting poverty, gave her a number of books about the Seven Kingdoms, for which she was grateful. Illyrio gave her a chest full of expensive fabrics, and three beautiful, fossilized dragon eggs. Dany is quite taken by the beauty of the eggs.
Drago’s bloodriders offer her three traditional weapons, for which she offers traditional refusal, and these weapons thus pass to the khal. Finally, Drago brings forth his own gift to her, a beautiful silver mare. She mounts the horse and rides, and forgets her fear for the first time today.
As the last of the sun slips away, Drago calls for his own horse. As it is brought to him, Viserys sidles up to her horse and grips her leg, warning her not to displease Drago, or Viserys would rage like he never had before. This brings her fear back, and her awareness of her situation. Together with Khal Drago, she rides off into the night.
He is surprisingly gentle with her.
That last line pretty much skips a couple of pages. Can’t bear to go into detail?
Quite literally, fuck no.
Book Spirit: You’re —
And if you say that I’m a prude again, I swear by Dark Itself I’m going to fucking eat you.
Book Spirit: Can…can you do that?
You wanna find out?
Book Spirit: …no.
Good choice. Well. Even I can’t say that nothing happens in this chapter, even if I find it morally reprehensible. (When you are a semi-anthropomorphic being living in the shadow of an almost entirely metaphorical Gate, you hold onto what few morals you have.) But before that, let’s get some minor players out of way. In order of least objectionable:
Ser Jorah. We don’t know a lot about him yet, except that he got exiled for not following the rules. He hitched himself to Viserys’ star, which doesn’t seem like the wisest of moves; on the other hand, he gave the gift of books, which is obviously the right choice. So yeah, we’ll just have to see how he pans out in the end.
Magister Illyrio. Continuing to manipulate everything, to his own net benefit. Reprehensible and disgusting? Yes. Skillful at what he does? Also yes. Unlike Viserys, he got his payment up front. I have a feeling that a lot of people are going to regret those dragon eggs, though…
Viserys. Still a creep, still insane, still being played like a harp. I believe that it’s somewhat telling that the only one who’s actually concerned about his opinion is the 13 y.o. girl. I guess I look forward to seeing her grow out of it, I suppose.
Book Spirit: Hmm? Have you been reading ahead?
I’ve told you, I remember a few things. Let’s see, what else? Ah, the Dothraki. Mostly interesting because I don’t know what real world tribe they are based on. Mongols, perhaps? Weren’t they nomadic, before they started conquering everything in sight? Anyway, the sheer number of them awaken logistical questions in me — namely, can they really support tens of thousands on the lands surrounding a city? Pentos was a trading town, right? So maybe the place won’t die immediately when the surroundings are completely stripped of life. Also, I find myself wondering about Dothraki culture. Are there other khals, and other khalasar? Or is Drago the highest authority? If they are going to attack the western kingdoms, how are they going to get them there, and keep them fed? Locust-style tactics will only get you so far (until the first siege, usually).
Book Spirit: That’s…I think that’s the most engaged I’ve seen you with any detail of this story.
Hey, logistics is king. No point in sending an army that’s going to die of starvation.
Book Spirit: But you’re still avoiding talking about Daenerys.
Book Spirit: You’re going to have to address it eventually, you know.
…How do I put this. I’m thankful my daughter will never have to experience anything like Daenerys does. And I’m not unsympathetic to her. But as a character, she’s dull. Her place in the story, at least for now, is to have especially bad things happen to her. Her ‘marriage’ to Drago very much in the spotlight. She has no agency, is making no decisions, and just letting things happen to her. I don’t feel happiness at the misfortune of others, so the whole chapter kind of makes me sad. And on top of that, she has the same blood as her brother, and I can’t help but feel that she is going to flip out and lose it as well. So no. Can’t bring myself to care for her.
Book Spirit: None of which is really her fault.
I try to make allowances. But it isn’t really about fault; this is about fiction, and writing interesting things. This isn’t interesting; this is ugly.
Book Spirit: It would be worse if Drago abused her, right?
In much the same way losing two arms is worse than losing one, yes.
Book Spirit: I think a lot of people would say that you are overreacting.
Let ’em, there’s a comment section down below. But this is my Howl, and my reaction, and I don’t see a point in being anything other than blunt.
Book Spirit: Hmm. Well, what now?
Now? Now we move on. Daenerys will be back eventually, but until then I’m not going to think about it. Nothing I can do about it from here, anyway. And don’t think that does anything good for my mood, either…
Next time: I’m pretty sure that Eddard Stark’s middle name is “Angst”.
Book Spirit: You didn’t nitpick any of the actual writing.
I didn’t want to look at it that closely. I’m not rereading this chapter any more than I have to.
Book Spirit: …Weird. I feel almost disappointed.
I’ll try to hold my sympathy for you in check.