“You hear it here and there, in inns and whorehouses.”
“Myrish. ‘The Seasons of My Love.’ Sweet and sad, if you understand the words. The first girl I ever bedded used to sing it, and I’ve never been able to put it out of my head.” Tyrion gazed up at the sky. It was a clear cold night and the stars shone down upon the mountains as bright and merciless as truth. “I met her on a night like this,” he heard himself saying. “Jaime and I were riding back from Lannisport when we heard a scream, and she came running out into the road with two men dogging her heels, shouting threats. My brother unsheathed his sword and went after them, while I dismounted to protect the girl. She was scarcely a year older than I was, dark-haired, slender, with a face that would break your heart. It certainly broke mine. Lowborn, half-starved, unwashed … yet lovely. They’d torn the rags she was wearing half off her back, so I wrapped her in my cloak while Jaime chased the men into the woods. By the time he came trotting back, I’d gotten a name out of her, and a story. She was a crofter’s child, orphaned when her father died of fever, on her way to … well, nowhere, really.
A Game of Thrones – Tyrion VI
And Seven Times… Kill Me Now!
By my count, Tyrion asks himself no less than seven times in A Dance with Dragons,
“Where do whores go?”
This was stemmed from the time-spanning patriarchal duel that took place between Tyrion and his father, Tywin Lannister. This duel started at Tyrion’s birth, and was exacerbated by Tyrion’s marriage to Tysha, his first and only true love to date. Tywin managed to degrade this relationship by turning it into a transaction of rape and coin (as is Tywin’s way with females: Sansa, Lady Ermasande, Jeyne Poole (fArya), Ameri Crakehall Frey, and even his own daughter Cersei). And I have pointed here how Tywin is a Targophile.
This duel came to a head when Tyrion found his lover, Shae, in Tywin’s bed after sex, and in the Tower of the Hand no less, causing Tyrion to murder Shae. This was moments before Tyrion went to kill his father, and then Cersei later burned the Tower of the Hand (because she is a fiery figure wielding a fiery hand).
- A Storm of Swords – Tyrion XI
He does not even remember her name. “The girl I married.”
“Oh, yes. Your first whore.”
Tyrion took aim at his father’s chest. “The next time you say that word, I’ll kill you.”
“You do not have the courage.”
“Shall we find out? It’s a short word, and it seems to come so easily to your lips.” Tyrion gestured impatiently with the bow. “Tysha. What did you do with her, after my little lesson?”
“I don’t recall.”
“Try harder. Did you have her killed?”
His father pursed his lips. “There was no reason for that, she’d learned her place . . . and had been well paid for her day’s work, I seem to recall. I suppose the steward sent her on her way. I never thought to inquire.”
“On her way where?”
“Wherever whores go.”
Tyrion’s finger clenched. The crossbow whanged just as Lord Tywin started to rise. The bolt slammed into him above the groin and he sat back down with a grunt. The quarrel had sunk deep, right to the fletching. Blood seeped out around the shaft, dripping down into his pubic hair and over his bare thighs. “You shot me,” he said incredulously, his eyes glassy with shock.
Don’t Kill the Raven
Before I get too far I want to make something clear, George RR Martin is not a sexist bigot in anyway, and I know I certainly am not as well. We are here discussing a work of fiction filled with symbolism.
GRRM’s use of the term “whore” is used for a specific purpose. Martin wants to dispel the in-universe and real world myth that females who do or act in certain ways somehow qualifies them as “whores”. The same patriarchal junk we see he writes into certain characters like, but not limited to, Tywin Lannister and Randyll Tarly– he who said Brienne needed a “good raping”. Keep in mind that Martin grew up in the hippy, new age, sexually liberated 1960’s in America. He met his wife Parris while she worked at a lesbian-feminist restaurant called Old Wives’ Tales. George has also made statements that in A Song of Ice and Fire, “He likes writing Arianne Martell and Asha Greyjoy and again made the “the women are taking over” statement.”
In just about all of Martin’s past work, or at least the fifty or so stories of his I have had a chance to read, the women are already “there”. Women are already a part of the commanding group, they have ships, they are armed gaurdians, the are private investigators, they are scientists, and students.
Martin’s women are just as intelligent than the men, are not fully subjugated to being broodmares, can be prostitutes- willing or coerced, but so are many males. Martin’s written women are involved in the arts, the sciences, and in the Thousand World universe, many planets and systems are named in honor of women.
And many times woman are the villain of the story, because yes, it takes intelligence to be a successful villain. Conflict is key to every story—and what’s a good conflict without a villain? An authentic villain is made with a hint of goodness and a touch of humanity. With that, they’re only a few steps away from coming to life, captivating the attention of both your protagonist and your reader. Martin has made numerous statements about the only story worth reading are those with the conflict of the human heart.
“A lot of fantasy turns on good and evil – but my take on it is that it’s fought within the human heart every day, and that’s the more interesting take. I don’t think life is that simple.” — GRRM
The few times we see woman as broodmares is in the rare story that deals with incest. There are a few scant references in a story or two that women have been oppressed to the level of broodmare or erased from history. Bitterblooms is one such story where the main character, a female named Shawn is oppressed in her clan by the incest promoting Creg. It is only after Creg dies, that the clan progresses and incest is dropped. The other story is Dying of the Light where we hear about the great accomplishments of females in history that have been rewritten to be male-centric. Gwen Delvano, the main female protagonist who works for an academy, is the one to expose these lies. However, in both of these stories we see the lies, the exposure, and the taking back of oneself in feminist ways.
Tysha of Oldstones
There are many theories in the fandom about who Tysha was, or could be in the current story, and if Tyrion actually got her with child at some point. These are all interesting bits of speculation, but for this post I am focusing on the the current and future story and where it will take Tyrion, and eventually this Essos arc of the bigger picture.
“Where do whores go” Tyrion repeatedly asks. This question follows (or leads?) Tyrion all through his Essosian plot line. Like a little dog, Tyrion is sniffing every spot he can find and asks this question. So, what does GRRM have planned for Tyrion in The Winds of Winter?
Tyrion and Daenerys will meet… in time… which according to George could be near the end, if not the end, of The Winds of Winter (or A Dream of Spring?).
- Martin also teased some ramped-up goings-on at The Wall, the big return of the Dothraki and a meeting between two fan favorites: Daenerys and Tyrion Lannister. “Well, Tyrion and Dany will intersect, in a way, but for much of the book they’re still apart,” Martin said. “They both have quite large roles to play here. Tyrion has decided that he actually would like to live, for one thing, which he wasn’t entirely sure of during the last book, and he’s now working toward that end—if he can survive the battle that’s breaking out all around him. And Dany has embraced her heritage as a Targaryen and embraced the Targaryen words. So they’re both coming home.”
Daenerys Targaryen is the “whore” Tyrion will find, and Tyrion will go wherever Daenerys goes. Tyrion is Daenerys’ twisted little monkey demon that will follow her in tail.
But, what about Tysha? I speculate that Tyrion will always keep a warm spot in his heart for Tysha, but as the story Tyrion tells in A Game of Thrones says, “on her way to … well, nowhere, really.” Tysha has become Tyrion’s Jenny of Oldstones, which is the unattainable girl that never truly existed anyway. A common theme of Martin’s to use, including very heavily used in the story Dying of the Light between the main protagonist Dirk and his former lover Gwen Delvano.
- Dying of the Light
“I see,” Dirk said, although he didn’t, not completely. The Kavalars seemed to set unusually great store on marriage. “What has this got to do with us?”
“A lot,” Gwen said, becoming very serious again. “When Jaan reached Avalon and people started calling him Vikary, he changed. He became Vikary, a hybrid of his own iconoclastic idols. That’s what names can do, Dirk. And that was our downfall. I loved you, yes. Much. I loved you, and you loved Jenny.”
“You were Jenny!”
“Yes, no. Your Jenny, your Guinevere. You said that, over and over again. You called me those names as often as you called me Gwen, but you were right. They were your names. Yes, I liked it. What did I know of names or naming? Jenny is pretty enough, and Guinevere has the glow of legend. What did I know?
“But I learned, even if I never had the words for it. The problem was that you loved Jenny-only Jenny wasn’t me. Based on me, perhaps, but mostly she was a phantom, a wish, a dream you’d fashioned all on your own. You fastened her on me and loved us both, and in time I found myself becoming Jenny. Give a thing a name and it will somehow come to be. All truth is in naming, and all lies as well, for nothing distorts like a false name can, a false name that changes the reality as well as the seeming.
“I wanted you to love me, not her. I was Gwen Delvano, and I wanted to be the best Gwen Delvano I could be, but still myself. I fought being Jenny, and you fought to keep her, and never understood. And that was why I left you.” She finished in a cool, even voice, her face a mask, and then she looked away from him again.
And he did understand, at last. For seven years he never had, but now, briefly, he grasped it. This then, he thought, was why she sent the whisperjewel. Not to call him back, no, not that. But to tell him, finally, why she had sent him away. And there was a sense to it. His anger had suddenly faded into weary melancholy. Sand ran cold and unheeded through his fingers.
You might be thinking: “WHAT! Did Leech just call the untouchable Daenerys a whore?!?!”
Untangle yours fingers from about my neck. No, I did not. What I am doing is sticking with the literary vernacular the author has established in order to make a point about this author’s literary point. What Martin has done is to set Daenerys up as Lilith and Cyrain of Ash and Lilith. That is the main page to the Daenerys character analysis, but you can search via the dropdown menu for specific analysis if you prefer. So while GRRM might be using the primary mythological aspect of Lilith to fit his current story, that doesn’t mean there aren’t many other aspects he is still re-working as well. Those pages explain and include the supporting book quotes.
Another clue to Dany being as such is the clever way Martin has written misogyny into the Essos arc is the wordplay between “grace” and “whore”. Daenerys is often called a Westerosi whore in the story. It is not truly literal, just an insult and parallel to Jon being called “bastard”.
A Storm of Swords – Daenerys II
Yet the symbol of the Old Empire still endured here, though this bronze monster had a heavy chain dangling from her talons, an open manacle at either end. The harpy of Ghis had a thunderbolt in her claws. This is the harpy of Astapor.
“Tell the Westerosi whore to lower her eyes,” the slaver Kraznys mo Nakloz complained to the slave girl who spoke for him. “I deal in meat, not metal. The bronze is not for sale. Tell her to look at the soldiers. Even the dim purple eyes of a sunset savage can see how magnificent my creatures are, surely.”
Maybe Tyrion will give Daenerys similar counsel at how to not let names get to her emotionally?
A Game of Thrones – Jon I
“Half brothers,” Jon corrected. He was pleased by the dwarf’s comment, but he tried not to let it show.
“Let me give you some counsel, bastard,” Lannister said. “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
The title for a queen in Westeros is “Grace”, but the title “Grace” in Meereen means “whore”, at least with the Red Graces, although all of the Graces are female in this patriarchal society. In addition to the Red Graces of Meereen, this also brings to mind Melisandre the red priestess, a cult follower of the red god of fire R’hllor, most likely a previous slave and used sexually at a Red Temple.
- The Red Graces are cult prostitutes housed in the Temple of the Graces.There are little snuggeries in the pleasure gardens in Meereen, the Red Graces wait there every night until a man chooses them. Those who are not chosen must remain until the sun comes up.
- Red temples are religious buildings of red stone used by followers of R’hllor, the Lord of Light. Red priests light nightfires at sunset, welcome the sun in the morning, and preach to crowds. Red temples purchase slaves as children and raise them to be priests, prostitutes, and warriors.
The Meereenese use other noble titles such as “your radiance” because to be called a “grace” has a different meaning all together.
A Dance with Dragons – The Queensguard
He has that much sense, at least. Belaquo Bonebreaker and Goghor the Giant might serve as Hizdahr’s shields, but the notion of either leading an army into battle was so ludicrous that the old knight almost smiled. “I am His Grace’s to command.”
“Not Grace,” the seneschal complained. “That style is Westerosi. His Magnificence, His Radiance, His Worship.”
However, servants such as Barristan and Grey Worm use the term “your Grace” all throughout their time in Meereen. It is a flip flop play on words. Martin is a tricksy bird.
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys I
“A certain place? What do you mean?”
“A house of pleasure, Your Grace.”
A brothel. Half of her freedmen were from Yunkai, where the Wise Masters had been famed for training bedslaves. The way of the seven sighs. Brothels had sprouted up like mushrooms all over Meereen. It is all they know. They need to survive. Food was more costly every day, whilst the price of flesh grew cheaper. In the poorer districts between the stepped pyramids of Meereen’s slaver nobility, there were brothels catering to every conceivable erotic taste, she knew. Even so … “What could a eunuch hope to find in a brothel?”
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys II
“The blood of the dragon.” But my dragons are roaring in the darkness. “I remember the Undying. Child of three, they called me. Three mounts they promised me, three fires, and three treasons. One for blood and one for gold and one for …”
“Your Grace?” Missandei stood in the door of the queen’s bedchamber, a lantern in her hand. “Who are you talking to?”
Dany glanced back toward the persimmon tree. There was no woman there. No hooded robe, no lacquer mask, no Quaithe.
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys II
“Stark was a traitor who met a traitor’s end.”
“Your Grace,” said Selmy, “Eddard Stark played a part in your father’s fall, but he bore you no ill will. When the eunuch Varys told us that you were with child, Robert wanted you killed, but Lord Stark spoke against it. Rather than countenance the murder of children, he told Robert to find himself another Hand.”
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys X
Except it wouldn’t, not truly.
Meereen was not her home, and never would be. It was a city of strange men with strange gods and stranger hair, of slavers wrapped in fringed tokars, where grace was earned through whoring, butchery was art, and dog was a delicacy. Meereen would always be the Harpy’s city, and Daenerys could not be a harpy.
And if we remember what Martin said about Daenerys and Cersei, they are written to be parallels of each other. He did not forget this detail and included it nicely here, among one of many places…
- A Feast for Crows – Jaime VI
“My sister will be surprised to hear that.”
“Lord Ryman crowned me his very self.” She gave a shake of her ample hips. “I’m the queen o’ whores.”
No, Jaime thought, my sweet sister holds that title too.
What does it mean?
So, to conclude this part, it seems Tyrion who is longing to find his long lost, unattainable love will stay in Meereen to fight the Yunkai, probably meet up with Barristan Selmy at a certain point, hold down the pyramid until Daenerys comes flying back in on Drogon with Blood and Fire. At this point, Tyrion will be awestruck with the sight of Daenerys on dragonback and from that point on her will follow her, but not before fashioning a saddle for Dany to ride Drogon properly. Tyrion will give the Drogon-sword a hilt so that Daenerys can control him.
Martin decides to stick closer to his original outline (that he called full of shit), has Tyrion and Daenerys travel from Meereen to Braavos. Tyrion meets Arya Stark in Braavos as she is now working for the Black Pearl concubine, falls in love/lust with her, goes back to Westeros and fights with Jon over Arya’s “love”. Arya will be the one Tyrion follows. She looks close to how Tysha looked, added in what Arya may be learning with the Black Pearl, Arya just may want a ride back to Westeros by this point when she hears of the incoming doom and war.
Thanks for reading along with the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire blog.