Friday, August 4, 2017

Daenerys - A Most Unreliable Narrator

   One of the tricks that George R. R. Martin uses to surprise his readers is the concept of the unreliable narrator.  For example, think of your first impressions of Rhaegar Targaryen.  At the very beginning of the very first book, Robert Baratheon describes the man as a rapist and a monster.  Many will take Robert's tale for granted until much later in the series when other characters like Jon Connington and Barristan Selmy reveal that Rhaegar was not, in fact, a monster.  However, by this time it is too late for the reader to pay close attention to the fact that Eddard Stark never acknowledged Robert's description of Rhaegar, and even seemed to hold a quite different opinion of the man.  All but the most attentive readers will have missed this clue to unraveling what really may have happened in the past.  First impressions are lasting impressions, and George has used this trick of unreliable first impressions to great effect.

   This brings me to Daenerys.  What many don't realize until it's too late is that Daenerys is an extremely unreliable narrator.  By the time the reader has enough clues to understand this, he has already recorded her musings into his perceived history of events.  He has forgotten that the only significant account of the flight to and from Dragonstone came from Daenerys, and it is now locked into his head as historical fact.

   How unreliable is Daenerys?  Let's put things into perspective.  Daenerys was not even born until Willem Darry supposedly fled with her and Viserys from Dragonstone.  Therefore, everything she knows up to and including this event must come from others.  Who is her primary source for this information?  Viserys.

   I shouldn't need to explain that Viserys is delusional - unable to even recognize the reality in front of his own two eyes.  On top of that, however, we can demonstrate that his memory of history is often imagined.  Consider a couple of examples:

   Viserys believes that the Usurper's hired knives were chasing them all across Essos, but Robert explains, "I should have had them both killed years ago, when it was easy to get at them, but Jon was as bad as you. More fool I, I listened to him."

   Daenerys reveals that "Viserys had told her stories of the tourneys he had witnessed in the Seven Kingdoms, but Dany had never seen a joust herself."  Yet, Viserys was not allowed to attend tournaments due to Aerys's fear of attempts on his life.  Viserys was not even allowed to attend the tourney held in honor of his own birth!

   At this point, we should be questioning all the things that Daenerys believes about her past.  All. The. Things.

"His blunt words startled her. It seemed as though all the things she had always believed were suddenly called into question."

   In truth, you wouldn't even need tinfoil to question if she is the sister of Viserys!

"Daenerys... Remember who you are."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dragonseed of the Mad King

   Will the eventual dragonriders in the Song of Ice and Fire be the three Great Bastards of Aerys II

"The seed is strong."
- Jon Arryn

   There exist three separate theories that are well formed and quite plausible:
1) Tyrion Lannister is the son of Aerys II Targaryen and Joanna Lannister.
2) Jon Snow is the son of Aerys II Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
3) Daenerys Targaryen is the daughter of Aerys II Targaryen and Ashara Dayne.

   These are all so well thought out that I wish I could take credit for them.  (I especially appreciate the Water Gardens analysis in the Daenerys section.  Go read it!)  Alas, I cannot.  However, I have not seen anyone question whether all three of these theories combine to form a tale greater than the sum of its parts.

"Daenerys. Remember the Undying. Remember who you are."
"I remember the Undying. Child of three, they called me."

   You will note that all three of these characters are often considered to be eventual dragonriders.  There was an old woods witch who prophesied - apparently - that the Prince that was Promised would come from the line of Aerys and Rhaella.  Of course, we don't actually have a first-hand account of that prophecy, so in typical GRRM fashion it was likely twisted and deceptive.  What if the three heads of the dragon are, instead, Aerys's illegitimate children?  This sounds very much like GRRM's style.

"He spoke of dreams and never named the dreamer, of a glass candle that could not be lit and eggs that would not hatch. He said the sphinx was the riddle, not the riddler, whatever that meant."

   Could Aemon have been onto something?  Did Aerys fail to light the Targaryen candle?  Rhaella's eggs would not hatch.  Is the result of this failure a Valyrian Sphynx?  A mixture of various houses joined by a common Dragon?

   This possibility would explain much and more, and it doesn't interfere too much with many of the other more established theories out there.  After all, Jon is already suspected of being a Targaryen, so much of the evidence already accepted works for this version.  It even explains many things better, as you can see in the pieces linked above.  Enjoy!