The female line of House Blackfyre

Recently at a book festival appearance, GRRM confirmed that while Aegor “Bittersteel” Rivers married his half-brother and great friend Daemon Blackfyre’s daughter Calla, they never had children.

Some people have been posting on /r/asoiaf about how this means “GRRM is denying the fAegon Blackfyre theory” as if fAegon Blackfyre requires the kid to be descended from Bittersteel and Blackfyre. It never did.

But this did get me to thinking… where is the supposed female line of House Blackfyre?

house-blackfyre-heraldry

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Toxic Narratives and ASOIAF: From Within and Without

This is very good.

GRRM is a good writer, very good. But he’s not perfect… and the problems in the fandom flow from the problems in his writing.

People who want to romanticise the problems of history, inequality, slavery and so on, see no issue with how GRRM also does this.

Off The Bookshelf

That was in the dawn of days, when our sun was rising. Now it sinks, and this is our long dwindling (Dance, Bran III)

A specter is haunting ASOIAF – the specter of the past. Our characters are haunted by the great things that came before them, from myth and song to parents and grandparents. In this essay, I’m going to talk about some of the toxic nostalgia our characters participate in…and then talk about how some in-real-life toxic nostalgia may be informing some of the storytelling choices GRRM makes.

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Morality Beyond the Wall: Con of Thrones 2018 Panel — The Clanking Dragon

Panel from Con of Thrones featuring Watchers on the Wall feature writer Patrick Sponaugle, author Ian Thomas Malone, Professor Priscilla Walton, and myself talking about the morality and ethics that exist beyond the Wall. Skinchangers, cannibals, tribal wars, trade through the Wall among Other topics.

via Morality Beyond the Wall: Con of Thrones 2018 Panel — The Clanking Dragon

A plague o’er both their Houses…

The Dance of the Dragons is the first major civil war for a post-Targaryen Conquest united Westeros. And… it was pretty damn ugly.

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In one corner, you had the Greens, so named for Alicent Hightower, second wife of King Viserys I and mother of future claimant Aegon II, wearing a green gown to a tourney in 111 AC. Alicent and her father, who was Viserys’ on and off again Hand of the King, were not bashful about pushing for Aegon’s claim to the Iron Throne, a claim based on the laws of Westeros as confirmed in the Great Council 101 AC, that held that neither a woman nor a man who’s claim descended through a female line could inherit the Iron Throne before an eldest male heir.

In the other corner, you had the Blacks. Rhaenyra Targaryen, first born daughter of Viserys and for much of his reign his only child, elevated to Crown Princess of Dragonstone and heir in order to push back the claims of Viserys’ brother and Rhaenyra’s later lover and husband (and uncle!) Daemon, the Rogue Prince. Her claim was based on the proclamation of the King, and the fact that she was trained for the role since she was a young girl.

Prior to the Dance, both Rhaenyra and Aegon were fairly reasonable people. Rhaenyra demonstrated a questionable level of selfishness by prioritising her personal pleasure and love affair with Ser Harwin Strong over her thoroughly unsuitable marriage to cousin and former claimant for the Iron Throne, Laenor Velaryon, but had undoubtably received years of training in how to rule and had the connections with the nobility to be a decent Queen Regnant. Aegon II seems to have been a fine young man, albeit a little bit under the influence of his grandfather and mother, as you’d expect for a young man in his late teens.

But by the end of the war, both Rhaenyra and Aegon were bitter, twisted, cruel, capricious and vicious people, who you wouldn’t want to rule over a piss up in a brewery, let alone a civil war devastated kingdom.

So who was the rightful claimant?

Who was the better candidate for the Iron Throne?

What could or should have Viserys done to avoid this inevitable conflict?

What was the legacy of the Dance, and does it have any relevance to our current situation in ASOIAF? (Yes. It does.)

And… how many Romeo + Juliet gifs can I put into a blog about historical Westeros? 

Continue reading “A plague o’er both their Houses…”

Mr and Mrs and Mrs and Mrs Targaryen…

There’s an impression amongst some in the ASOIAF fandom that House Targaryen has a history of polygamy, and that Westeros permitted this. Ergo, Rhaegar could TOTALLY take Lyanna Stark as a second wife and thus Jon Snow is legitimate.

Um…. No.

As I’ve ranted elsewhere, Jon does not need to be legitimate. There’s just no need to tie ourselves up in knots to find a way for Jon Snow to be Jon Targaryen. Or Jaehaerys or Aemon or Visenya/Viserys or whatever Targaryen. The world will be saved by a bastard son of House Stark… and that’s fine.

But the need for a legitimate Jon, and this idea that House Targaryen was super special and never, ever subject to the social norms, customs and laws of Westeros when they conquered and took on the role of the defender of the Faith seems to perpetuate throughout the fandom. This post is about breaking down how and why we can be reasonably sure that the Targaryens took on the laws and lores of their new Seven Kingdoms. And, bonus…. polygamy was never “common” in Valyria. It was just a thing that happened.

Continue reading “Mr and Mrs and Mrs and Mrs Targaryen…”

Was a civil war to end the reign of Aerys II, the Mad King, inevitable?

This came up in twitter discussions the other day.

The reign of Aerys II, the Mad King, was so toxic that it was headed for a bad end, no matter what happened. Rhaegar running off with Lyanna Stark pissed off a lot of people, but it was not technically the cause of Robert’s Rebellion – the King abrogating his duty to his subjects by roasting Lord Rickard and Brandon Stark alive in a poor excuse for a trial by combat, that was the thing that made the Rebellion kick off.

So… was that kind of mistake by Aerys inevitable? Was he so psychotic, so blinded by greed and narcissism and paranoia that he would inevitably cross the line and make it legitimate for his noble lords to rebel against his rule? We know that Rhaegar had hoped to stage a coup d’état to oust his father.

Rhaegar had put his hand on Jaime’s shoulder. “When this battle’s done I mean to call a council. Changes will be made. I meant to do it long ago, but . . . well, it does no good to speak of roads not taken. We shall talk when I return.”

AFFC, Jaime I

But does this mean that some kind of rebellious end to Aerys’ reign was certain?

Maybe, maybe not.

It is difficult to see how Aerys’ reign could have been sustained much longer, although it is also not clear that if Rhaegar did attempt a coup d’état if that would be strongly supported by the feudal lords. What is even less clear is if Jon Arryn’s plans for a non-Targaryen regime were something he was actively working towards, or something that he simply quietly ruminated over to himself.

So in a fashion befitting a lawyer, my answer to the title question is “it depends….” 

Continue reading “Was a civil war to end the reign of Aerys II, the Mad King, inevitable?”

Too many unfinished threads in FeastDance for Winds to progress?

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What’s the hold up with The Winds of Winter?

This is a question on, more or less, every ASOIAF fan’s lips at some stage in the past seven years (yes. SEVEN.) Is GRRM past it, too old, no longer interested in Westeros, over it, put off by the show getting ahead of him, procrastinating, or any of the other millions of pejorative ideas thrown at him by ‘fans’?

Maybe.

Or …. maybe it’s just REALLY HARD for him to get every character and every various plot that has been set up over the first five books into the right locations for the final war for humanity?

Because there are a lot of unfinished plot threads. Some are pretty minor, like whether or not Edric Storm will be pulled out like a bunny in a hat by someone claiming the Iron Throne to be legitimised and be the father of the next generation of Baratheons. Some are pretty major, like how the hell is Sansa going to get out from under Littlefinger’s increasingly Weinstein-esque manipulation?

Not going to lie: I just spent far too long responding to a post on /r/asoiaf, and I feel like I should justify it by copying/pasting it into a blog post…. not that any of this is going to help me in Wednesday’s exam…

This line of thought was partly prompted by BryndenBFish’s post on /r/asoiaf earlier today about the extremely likely possibility that ASOIAF is going to be eight books all up, not seven as GRRM keeps insisting (and that, in all likelihood, GRRM’s reluctance to accept this is part of the editing/writing stumbling block!)

That post then prompted another post, where a user put forward their idea about what might happen in TWOW. It was… interesting. Started well, veered into fanfic about halfway through. To be fair, mine probably does as well. Everyone’s does – except for GRRM, and he’s the only one who really knows what’s going on, isn’t it?!

Continue reading “Too many unfinished threads in FeastDance for Winds to progress?”