DEAMON REAVER ROADS = Kingsroad, Valyrian roads, especially the Demon Road that goes to Meereen.
George tends to use fire and dragon symbolism in many of his past stories, and I have yet to read a story of his where these fire religions/people/dragons are connected to anything other than false elitism, expansionism at the cost of the indigenous people and environment, or all consuming religious fanaticism.
Twice in interviews George provides this foreboding notion of the dragons:
“Dragons are the nuclear deterrent, and only [Daenerys Targaryen, one of the series’ heroines] has them, which in some ways makes her the most powerful person in the world,” Martin said in 2011. “But is that sufficient? These are the kind of issues I’m trying to explore. The United States right now has the ability to destroy the world with our nuclear arsenal, but that doesn’t mean we can achieve specific geopolitical goals. Power is more subtle than that. You can have the power to destroy, but it doesn’t give you the power to reform, or improve, or build.”
“I have tried to make it explicit in the novels that the dragons are destructive forces, and Dany (Daenerys Targaryen) has found that out as she tried to rule the city of Meereen and be queen there. She has the power to destroy, she can wipe out entire cities, and we certainly see that in Fire and Blood, we see the dragons wiping out entire armies, wiping out towns and cities, destroying them, but that doesn’t necessarily enable you to rule — it just enables you to destroy.” George RR Martin, November 21, 2018.
Q: That seems to apply as well to your fantasy or magic elements: If there’s a God of Light, he seems awful. Are the walking dead out of the north beyond any reclaim? And then there’s Daenerys’s dragons: They seem kind of promising, like they could be a force of justice or good.
GRRM: Yes, that’s the way they seem. I hope. [Laughs] I don’t necessarily want to tell you what I’m thinking but to return to what I pointed at earlier, I like people that ask these questions, not necessarily provide them with the answers. So as the books unfold, there will be more and more to think about in these regards. George R.R. Martin, 2014. Source.
And here is but one use of “fire dragons” in a story titled And Seven Times Never Kill Man. The title is based on the Rudyard Kipling story The Jungle Book. Martin’s dragons are interchangeable with things like wagons in the author’s writing style, depending on the sub-genre of the story. In his story Bitterblooms, he names a constellation the “ice wagon”, but in ASOIAF it is the constellation the “ice dragon”, as one example.
In ‘Seven Times‘ we see how the “dragons’ are under the direction of the fiery leaders who are on a “progress”, and they are there on this nearly uninhabited world to strip it of it’s natural resources, and to displace the native inhabitants, just as the Andals did, and “Good” Queen Alysanne, and even Aegon the Conquerer, aka, Aegon the Dragon. Their mission is to colonize and in the process they cut off the Jaenshi of their faith and culture.
And Seven Times Never Kill Man
“The waterfall!” the bitter speaker repeated. “Since the death of winter, they have broken more than twenty pyramids, Arik, and their powerwagons have crushed the forest and now a great dusty road scars the soil from their valley to the riverlands. (we will come back to these roads in a minute)
But then a second squad of the Angels were among them, and there was a creak of wood straining and snapping, and from behind a final grove of fruit trees, dimly, neKrol could see the black flanks of the powerwagon, its blastcannon seemingly trained right at him.
DaHan nodded. “I understand. You are truly a godless man, neKrol, to consort so with soulless animals, to teach them to ape the ways of the seed of Earth. But it does not matter.” He raised his arm in signal; behind him, among the trees, the blastcannon of the powerwagon moved slightly to the right. “You and your pet should move at once.” DaHan told neKrol. “When I lower my arm, the Jaenshi god will burn and if you stand in the way, you will never move again.”
From the World of Ice and Fire
The “rule of six,” now part of the common law, was established by Rhaenys as she sat the For half the year the king flew between King’s Landing and Dragonstone by turns, for whilst the city was his royal seat, the isle that smelled of sulfur and brimstone and the salt sea was the place he loved the best. But the other half of the year he dedicated to the royal progress. He traveled throughout the realm for the rest of his life, until his final progress in 33 AC
And yeah, this does fit the “build me dragons” idea of Aegon IV:
This was far from the greatest folly of Aegon IV’s stillborn invasion of Dorne, however, for His Grace had also turned to the dubious pyromancers of the ancient Guild of Alchemists, commanding them to “build me dragons.” These wood-and-iron monstrosities, fitted with pumps that shot jets of wildfire, might perhaps have been of some use in a siege. But Aegon proposed to drag these devices up and through the Boneway, where there are places so steep that the Dornishmen have carved steps.
Adding this information now that we have it, in the Fire & Blood vol.1 excerpt provided by GRRM, the section about King Jaehaerys and Queen Alysanne starts out again with more roads, and powerwagon-dragons, and progresses, etc:
- Another observation, and one I noted in this post here about Demon Reaver and roads, we again see how the fiery Targaryens use expansionism the same way that the manner as the Steel Angels. This portion of the history seems to tell the reader for the first concrete time just how old the Kingsroad is, and the circumstances that brought upon its development. Expansionism and “progress”.George has said some of his sources for character/world building inspiration is based on Native Americans. I detailed a bit in this essay about Bears: Jon and Val, however, I want to add a reminder here about roads. The White feather-Bear Clan of the Hopi Indians has listed this as one of the signs of Armageddon, or, end of the fourth world:
- The land will be crossed by snakes of iron.
- The land shall be criss-crossed with rivers of stone that make pictures in the sun.
- Fire & Blood vol. 1
Several years had passed since the king had last made a progress, so plans were laid in 58 AC for Jaehaerys and Alysanne to make their first visit to Winterfell and the North. Their dragons would be with them, of course, but beyond the Neck the distances were great and the roads poor, and the king had grown tired of flying ahead and waiting for his escort to catch up. This time, he decreed, his Kingsguard, servants, and retainers would go ahead of him, to make things ready for his arrival. And thus it was that three ships set sail from King’s Landing for White Harbor, where he and the queen were to make their first stop.
However, let us take another look at the “great dusty road scars the soil” mentioned in the quote above. The roads in this story are paved by force using “dragons” in the form of fire breathing powerwagons. These powerwagons, led by the Steelangels, burn their way through the indigenous lands of the native folk already living in the area. The Steelangels (another dragon reference= flying metal sword) are following the history of the Valyrians in ASOIAF. Nearly every historic culture in Essos has fled from the Valyrians and their fire magics and the Valyrians practiced a “bow or burn” method of expansionism. Aegon the Dragon carried on this practice with his bow or burn policies in the new land of Westeros. And when Aegon the Dragon himself was not doing the conquering, he sent his sisters out to carry his word through a “progress”.
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys III
They forded three wide placid rivers and a fourth that was swift and narrow and treacherous, camped beside a high blue waterfall, skirted the tumbled ruins of a vast dead city where ghosts were said to moan among blackened marble columns. They raced down Valyrian roads a thousand years old and straight as a Dothraki arrow.
A Dance With Dragons – Tyrion II
The dwarf was so stuffed that he had to undo his belt and the topmost laces on his breeches. The boy’s clothes his host had dressed him in made him feel like ten pounds of sausage in a five-pound skin. If we eat this way every day I will be the size of Illyrio before I meet this dragon queen. Outside the litter night had fallen. Inside all was dark. Tyrion listened to Illyrio’s snores, the creak of the leather straps, the slow clop clop of the team’s ironshod hooves on the hard Valyrian road, but his heart was listening for the beat of leathern wings.
When he woke, dawn had come. The horses plodded on, the litter creaking and swaying between them. Tyrion pulled the curtain back an inch to peer outside, but there was little to see but ochre fields, bare brown elms, and the road itself, a broad stone highway that ran straight as a spear to the horizon. He had read about Valyrian roads, but this was the first he had seen. The Freehold’s grasp had reached as far as Dragonstone, but never to the mainland of Westeros itself. Odd, that. Dragonstone is no more than a rock. The wealth was farther west, but they had dragons. Surely they knew that it was there.
The next evening they came upon a huge Valyrian sphinx crouched beside the road. It had a dragon’s body and a woman’s face.
“A dragon queen,” said Tyrion. “A pleasant omen.”
A Dance With Dragons – Quentyn (Merchant’s Man)
It was possible to go overland to Meereen, that much was true. The old Valyrian roads would take them there. Dragon roads, men called the great stone roadways of the Freehold, but the one that ran eastward from Volantis to Meereen had earned a more sinister name: the demon road.
One thing that happens in And Seven Times…, is the Steelangels decide at one point to just stop the “progress” they are making once they see the image of the Pale Child Bakkalon on top of their usurped pyramid. The native Jaenshi break their mind control of the pyramid and they flee the area. The pyramid now has the Steelangels under the same mind control (gold flecked eyes) it once had the Jaenshi. The pyramids seem to be hungry “gods” because the Steelangels start hanging their children from the sides of the pyramid. The area becomes tainted in a way. We also see this “taint” drive away the indigenous people in the story The Skin Trade; when the incestual villains move in to town, the Native American people stay clear of the area.
The author likes to repeat this theme of his of something going wrong, incest or religious zealotry, and it seems to put a taint in the surroundings. We also see this in ASOIAF in the region of the river Rhoyne.
The Skin Trade
“There were no lights out there when the foundations of the Old House were dug,” Jonathan Harmon said. “This was all wilderness. A wild river coursing through the forest primeval, and if you stood on high at dusk, it must have seemed as though the blackness went on forever. The water was pure, the air was clean, and the woods were thick with game … deer, beaver, bear … but no people, or at least no white men. John Harmon and his son James both wrote of seeing Indian campfires from the tower from time to time, but the tribes avoided this place, especially after John had begun to build the Old House.”
“Maybe the Indians weren’t so dumb after all,” Willie said.
And Seven Times Never Kill Man
“RUN!” neKrol screamed, and he shoved the bitter speaker with all his strength, and she stumbled and looked back at him briefly, her eyes dark bronze again and flickering with fear. Then, swiftly, she was running, her scarf aflutter behind her as she dodged toward the nearest green
“We do not need your trade,” the Proctor told her. “The World of Corlos is many-times-blessed, my child, and Bakkalon lives among us now. He has worked vast miracles, and shall work more. Our faith is in Him.” Wyatt gestured toward the altar with a thin hand. “See? In tribute we burn our winter stores, for the pale child has promised that this year winter will not come. And He has taught us to cull ourselves in peace as once we were culled in war, so the seed of Earth grows ever stronger. It is a time of great new revelation!” His eyes had burned as he spoke to her; eyes darting and fanatic, vast and dark, yet strangely flecked with gold.
As quickly as she could, Ryther had left the City of the Steel Angels, trying hard not to look back at the walls. But when she had climbed the hills, back toward the trading base, she had come to the ring-of-stone, to the broken pyramid where Arik had taken her. Then Ryther found that she could not resist, and powerless she had turned for a final glance out over Sword Valley. The sight had stayed with her.
Outside the walls the Angel children hung, a row of small white-smocked bodies still and motionless at the end of long ropes. They had gone peacefully, all of them, but death is seldom peaceful; the older ones, at least, died quickly, necks broken with a sudden snap. But the small pale infants had the nooses round their waists, and it had seemed clear to Ryther that most of them had simply hung there till they starved
As she stood, remembering, the crewman came from inside neKrol’s broken bubble. “Nothing,” he reported. “All statues.”
“Go?” the bitter speaker said. “Jamson’ World?”
“Yes,” she replied, her eyes staring past the waiting Lights of Jolostar, out toward the black primal forest. The Heart of Bakkalon was sunk forever. In a thousand thousand woods and a single city, the clans had begun to pray.
What do the roads have to do with the Rhoyne? Well, there is a saying in ASOIAF that goes, “all roads lead down the dragon’s gullet.” And we have the Demon Road that leads Daenerys from Meereen to Valyria, and back again… but we also have a half finished road that is a mystery? Could it be that this half finished road was never completed because the Valyrians ran in to a similar situation like the Steelangels, causing their progress to cease?
Could this have anything to do with the Sorrows on the Rhoyne? Just like in And Seven Times… were fleeing the Steelangels with their fire breathing dragons, the indigenous people of the Rhoyne were always fleeing the dragonlord slavers of Valyria and their persecution. Could something major have stopped the Valyrians in their tracks? Or, did the slaves who contributed the actual labor to build the roads revolt and flee during this job?
This page is a work in progress, as it is only just little ol’me doing all of the reading, writing, listening.
Thank you for reading along with the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire blog.