Monday, 18 July 2011

A Read of A Dance with Dragons - Part 3

Chapter 2 - Daenerys

Daenerys' people are being killed in the streets. Grey Worm brings her the body of an Unsullied killed on the way to a brothel by the Sons of the Harpy. The cities she defeated are turning bad in different ways and the good she has tried to do is all going wrong. Daenerys is trying to learn how to do better.

In Meereen, Daenerys holds an audience of supplicants, a mixture of nobles and former slaves. Everyone wants compensation for something. The nobles want restitution of their property and privileges taken when the slaves rose up. The former slaves want compensation for the things done to them when they were slaves. And some farmers want compensation for the livestock her dragons are eating.

Daenerys tries to be fair, but it is hard to work out what is the right thing to do and her gold is not limitless. Her principles are sorely tried by expediency and the advice she gets is rarely that helpful. Her crown weighs heavily on her head, both literally and metaphorically. She pays for the livestock that the dragons have eaten and all but one of the farmers leave. She asks the one remaining to speak and he spills the bones of a child in front of her.


This is the chapter that was included at the end of AFOC, so nothing new here. What struck me was the parallel between Dany and Tyrion at this point. Both have used their power to try to do good and things turned bad - people are ungrateful and they seem to be making things worse in some ways. The difference is in the way they respond. Dany seems to be trying hard to understand what she can do differently, while Tyrion becomes bitter and disillusioned when he doesn't get the love of the people. There is also an obvious parallel with Cersei, who grasps for tighter and tighter control when things don't go her way, using terror without understanding that it will undo her. Dany wins this competition hands down. People are ungrateful, petty, self-interested and greedy. Dany seems to be dealing with this better than Tyrion, but maybe that's because she didn't have those illusions in the first place. Compared with Cersei, she's better and brighter. On a writing note, it's really interesting to recall from AFOC how Martin manages to convey Cersei's limited intellectual capacity.

So, of course, dragons are not just cute, magical creatures who make everything better and will save the world from ice zombies, they are predators. Perhaps this is why they got stuck in the Dragonpit on Rhaenys' Hill. We've got the point that ice must not win because it will destroy the world, but maybe fire shouldn't win either as it will also consume the world.

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