A Storm of Swords – Daenerys VI
Dany broke her fast under the persimmon tree that grew in the terrace garden, watching her dragons chase each other about the apex of the Great Pyramid where the huge bronze harpy once stood. Meereen had a score of lesser pyramids, but none stood even half as tall. From here she could see the whole city: the narrow twisty alleys and wide brick streets, the temples and granaries, hovels and palaces, brothels and baths, gardens and fountains, the great red circles of the fighting pits. And beyond the walls was the pewter sea, the winding Skahazadhan, the dry brown hills, burnt orchards, and blackened fields. Up here in her garden Dany sometimes felt like a god, living atop the highest mountain in the world.
Do all gods feel so lonely? Some must, surely…
Hellooo and welcome to the book club re-read section of this blog. Like each book club story on this blog, the reading and commenting is done at your own pace. Have fun and enjoy!
Quickie reminder: I openly discuss everything in Martinworld wherever needed, and I hope you do too! This includes story details, behind the scenes info, and interviews with George R.R. Martin, every dirty detail.
What’s the point?
This post is just a short one that shows the links between the Steel Angels (Catholics of his earlier works) and the Daenerys/new Andal alliance and how it is being rewritten for the current plot line in the upcoming books in the A Song of Ice in Fire series, The Winds of Winter and/or A Dream of Spring. As noted on the main page, GRRM has no qualms when it comes to saving and reworking his own world-building themes.
- Revelation 2:18- “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze…”
This is what Martin is doing with the (maybe slightly underdeveloped) Faith of the Seven-Catholic aspect. He is lining them up with the fire people; Cersei, then Aegon, then ultimately Daenerys.
“The Sparrows are my version of the medieval Catholic Church, with its own fantasy twist,” Martin told EW. “If you look at the history of the church in the Middle Ages, you had periods where you had very worldly and corrupt popes and bishops. People who were not spiritual, but were politicians. They were playing their own version of the game of thrones, and they were in bed with the kings and the lords. But you also had periods of religious revival or reform—the greatest of them being the Protestant Reformation, which led to the splitting of the church—where there were two or three rival popes each denouncing the other as legitimate. That’s what you’re seeing here in Westeros. The two previous High Septons we’ve seen, the first was very corrupt in his own way, and he was torn apart by the mob during the food riots [in season 2]. The one Tyrion appoints in his stead is less corrupt but is ineffectual and doesn’t make any waves. Cersei distrusts him because Tyrion appointed him. So now she has to deal with a militant and aggressive Protestant Reformation, if you will, that’s determined to resurrect a faith that was destroyed centuries ago by the Targaryens.”And there are other, more direct influences as well between Catholic Church and the Faith of the Seven as well, Martin pointed out. “Instead of the Trinity of the Catholic Church, you have the Seven, where there is one god with seven aspects. In Catholicism, you have three aspects—the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. I remember as a kid, I was always confused by that. ‘So there are three gods?’ No, one god, but with three aspects. I was still confused: ‘So he’s his own father and own son?’”–GRRM. Source.
I have talked and talked for a while now how the Steel Angels of George R.R. Martin’s Thousand Worlds Universe have been retooled into the combination of Andals, who brought the Faith of the Seven to Westeros via fire and sword + fiery Targaryens who took up the faith after bringing their fiery swords (merging of religion + politics).
Currently, as of A Dance with Dragons, we have Cersei (a Dany parallel per GRRM) re-arming the Faith Militant with swords, and we have R’hllorism growing in the Riverlands with connections to Aegon/Young Griff most likely bring the sword Blackfyre back to the kingdom, and they will merge at some point. But what I am focusing on here are not these smaller plot stepping stones, but the big mother of mountains. If you were expecting this to be about the Others as the ‘big bad’ entering through the north, have patience my friend as that will come later in this story (at end), but more thoroughly developed in the Martin story The Skin Trade, and those details are unique to its own plot self.
I cannot add every story-to-story comparison quote here in the body of this page, so I am hoping to see the other (multiple) notes in the the comments at the end. In the meantime, I will update along the way. Thanks!
Mountains= Volcano= Pyramid= Pyre= Worship
Instead of doing my typical transcribed story for the book club reads, where I add my bullet point ASOIAF notes along through the transcribed story, I am flipping the script a little and posting a section from The World of Ice and Fire book and adding previous GRRM story quotes to help show the idea GRRM is working towards.
The stories I recommend reading are:
- The World of Ice and Fire (2014)– I will be using portions of the WOIAF history here, but I am sure there are other parts and quotes I may have missed and you want to add. I am but one mere Leech and cannot quote them all.
- …And Seven Times Never Kill Man (herein referred to simply as 7 Times)– which I have made plenty of notes on this page that talks about Bakkalon, swords, the Steel Angels, etc. This earlier story of Martin’s shows the fear that ‘dragons’ bring to the indigenous (Jaenshi), as well as the mind control of the god-like pyramids. Additionally, readers will know that Martin took the name for this story from the Rudyard Kipling poem The Law of the Jungle which proposes the principle of kill or be killed, or, those who are strongest and apply ruthless self-interest will be most successful.… read the poem here. But how does this fare long-term in Martinworld? I am currently transcribing the story …And Seven Times Never Kill Man and will link it here when it is completed.
- The Glass Flower– which I have made several notes on this page as to the character Cyrain of Ash and Lilith and her direct connections to a major ASOIAF character.
- A Song for Lya– because this story also defines the lure of a fire religion, including bells, and to what end. Transcribed and noted here.
- Fevre Dream– for many reasons, but to understand the line between freeing slaves and for what reason. Also religious extremism and the notion of ruling ‘fire and blood’ madness. Damon Julian discussed a bit here.
Steel Angel-Andal Notes
A few things to keep in mind about the Steel Angels. One is Martin’s take on Catholicism who call themselves the “children” of God:
In a strict sense, any baptized Christian is a child of God and thus a member of his Church (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 1265-71, 1997). For through baptism we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). The baptized are members of “a chosen race . . . God’s own people” (1 Pet.2:9; cf. 1 Cor. 12:12ff.; Rom. 12:4-5). And thus each believer has a guardian angel (CCC 336; cf. Mt. 18:10).
In a wider sense, because everyone is made in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen.1:27-28) and God desires that all human beings be saved (2 Pet. 3:9; Jn. 3:16-17), all human persons can be said to be children of God. And yet we can’t fall into religious indifferentism. On the salvation of non-Catholics, see CCC 846-48). Source.
The Steel Angels refer to themselves as the “children” of their god, discussed at length here –> the Pale Child Bakkalon. This is also how GRRM describes the near identical Cyrain of Ash and Lilith from The Glass Flower. The Jaenshi in this story are akin to the Children of the Forest/Free Folk in ASOIAF.
- John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God to those who believe in His name.
The thing is, this Bakkalon is a dark, destructive war god, and in …And Seven Times Never Kill Man, the pyramids take on a religious likeness and merge with Bakkalon therefore creating a ‘super religion’ merged with politics. The book Dorsai! (below) is an influential part of the genre of military science fiction. The novel, as part of the Childe Cycle series, still has a strong following within the science fiction community. George gave his own twist to this and created a militant-religious type of cult that has a child as a dark god.
George discussing the pale child Bakkalon in one of his Dreamsongs anthologies:
“And Seven Times Never Kill Man” was written in 1974 and published in 1975. It got me my second Analog cover for that year …, this one a stunning John Schoenherr that I wish I’d bought. The Steel Angels were created as my answer to Gordy Dickson’s Dorsai, although the term “Steel Angel” came from a song by Kris Kristofferson. Their god, the pale child with a sword, had an older and more dubious pedigree: he was one of the seven dark gods of the mythos I’d designed for Dr. Weird, as glimpsed in “Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark.” The title is from Kipling’s The Jungle Book, of course, and got me almost as much praise as the story. Afterward several other writers, all Kipling fans, announced that they were annoyed they hadn’t thought of it first.”
The Kristofferson song is titled ‘Star-Spangled Bummer’ (Whores Die Hard), and is a political song about (then) politics in Washington D.C., which we probably see repeating again in current times. Read the song lyrics here. By the way, there is a wordplay of whores and hoards in ASOIAF. Some is touched on in this post, and some is touched on when Tyrion asks himself, “Where do whores go?” It is about politics, not the sexual proclivity of any one person. You could also ask, “Where do hoards go?,” and it would have the same meaning.
An odd boy. You never know which way he’ll jump.
A Dance with Dragons – Jon VIII
Dragons again. For a moment Jon could almost see them too, coiling in the night, their dark wings outlined against a sea of flame. “If she knew, she would have taken the boy away from us. Dalla’s boy, not your monster. A word in the king’s ear would have been the end of it.” And of me. Stannis would have taken it for treason. “Why let it happen if she knew?”
“Because it suited her. Fire is a fickle thing. No one knows which way a flame will go.” Val put a foot into a stirrup, swung her leg over her horse’s back, and looked down from the saddle. “Do you remember what my sister told you?”
“Yes.” A sword without a hilt, with no safe way to hold it. But Melisandre had the right of it. Even a sword without a hilt is better than an empty hand when foes are all around you.
Dragons are all across Martinworld. Be they banshee, wraith, dreadnought, vampire (winged forest creatures), vampires (human/oids), vampyres (fighter jets), etc, the name is just a change of furniture to suit the story. This brings us to the term ‘Steel Angel’ as GRRM is using in this story. A Steel Angel is a flying sword of fire, a fighter jet, a dragon in flight- Drogon and his black flames is our strongest link to the flaming (Blackfyre) sword flying in the sky with the Bakkalon-Daenerys at the (fire) religious helm. But of course Rhaegal and Viserion count as well, we just have to wait and see who wields them.
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys III
I know one stands before me now, weeping mummer’s tears. The realization made her sad.
“When I went to the Hall of a Thousand Thrones to beg the Pureborn for your life, I said that you were no more than a child,” Xaro went on, “but Egon Emeros the Exquisite rose and said, ‘She is a foolish child, mad and heedless and too dangerous to live.’ When your dragons were small they were a wonder. Grown, they are death and devastation, a flaming sword above the world.” He wiped away the tears. “I should have slain you in Qarth.”
“I was a guest beneath your roof and ate of your meat and mead,” she said. “In memory of all you did for me, I will forgive those words … once … but never presume to threaten me again.”
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.
“For sooner or later, no matter what fantastic long-range weapons you mounted, the ground itself had to be taken —and for that there had never been anything but the man in the ranks.”
There are but few times Martin actually describes, or has planned, an ‘invasion’ by certain peoples. Heck, Martin doesn’t even describe the arrival of the Others as an ‘invasion’ necessarily. Since the beginning planning stages of this series, he has referred to Daenerys and the Dothraki coming to Westeros as the invasion. I do want to give a reminder that GRRM did refer to that outline as “making shit up“, but the main plot points seem to still be on track for making an (updated and fleshed out) appearance in the series.
- While the lion of Lannister and the direwolf of Stark snarl and scrap, however, a second and greater threat takes shape across the narrow sea, where the Dothraki horselords mass their barbarian hordes for a great invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, led by the fierce and beautiful Daenerys Stormborn, the last of the Targaryen dragonlords. The Dothraki invasion will be the central story of my second volume, A Dance with Dragons. The greatest danger of all, however, comes from the north, from the icy wastes beyond the Wall, where half-forgotten demons out of legend, the inhuman others, raise cold legions of the undead and the neverborn and prepare to ride down on the winds of winter to extinguish everything that we would call “life.”
Over across the narrow sea, Daenerys Targaryen will discover that her new husband, the Dothraki Khal Drogo, has little interest in invading the Seven Kingdoms, much to her brother’s frustration. When Viserys presses his claims past the point of tact or wisdom, Khal Drogo will finally grow annoyed and kill him out of hand, eliminating the Targaryen pretender and leaving Daenerys as the last of her line. Danerys [sic] will bide her time, but she will not forget. When the moment is right, she will kill her husband to avenge her brother, and then flee with a trusted friend into the wilderness beyond Vaes Dothrak. There, hunted by [unclear] of her life, she stumbles on a [something about dragon eggs] a young dragon will give Daenerys [unclear] bend [unclear] to her will. Then she begins to plan for her invasion of the Seven Kingdoms.
Tyrion Lannister will continue to travel, to plot, and to play the game of thrones, finally removing his nephew Joffrey in disgust at the boy king’s brutality.
And here I want to touch on the oft used GRRM phrase “fire and blood” which has several meanings. The strongest, most often used meaning is to take back something with fire and blood (referring to the dominating force of dragons/war machines) and it is used in association with Targaryen madness, more specifically fire madness. Fire and blood is what is used to make Valyrian steel. Drogon (and Rhaegal and Viserion) are essentially Valyrian steel swords that were birthed from the dead using fire and blood magic. Daenerys is going to take back Westeros with fighter jets, something the opposition does not have.
Martin has used madness=fire obsession many times throughout his works, equal to all who succumb to the temptation (not just females and not just Targaryens). Martin joked about taking back what was his with ‘fire and blood’ at the November 2018 Fire & Blood release in New Jersey. But you can tell by his voice that he means it to be an aggressive gesture.(video below)
Just as the protagonist Abner Marsh of the story Fevre Dream dreams, nay, becomes obsessed with taking back ‘his’ ship named the Fevre Dream that the usurper Damon Julian has stolen and renamed Ozymandias. This name, Ozymandias, is something Martin has said a few times is directly correlated to the twisted iron throne.
- Fevre Dream
Know what I mean? Got to end, sooner or later. Better if it ends peaceful, but it’s got to end even if it has to be with fire and blood, you see? Maybe that’s what them abolitionists been sayin’ all along. You try to be reasonable, that’s only right, but if it don’t work, you got to be ready. Some things is just wrong. They got to be ended.”
Abner Marsh nodded. “Toby,” he said, “why don’t you go fetch me a knife from the kitchen. Don’t say nothing about it, you hear? Just go fetch me a good sharp knife. It ought to be able to slide down into my boot, I think. Can you get me a knife?”
“Yessuh, Cap’n Marsh,” said Toby. His eyes narrowed just a little in his worn black face. “Yessuh.” Then he ran to obey.
Abner Marsh walked a little strangely for the next couple hours, with the long kitchen knife snugly tucked into his high leather boot. By the time dark had fallen, however, the blade had begun to feel damned comfortable, and he almost forgot that it was there. The storm came just before sunset.
History repeats… with a twist
The World of Ice and Fire
None can say how many perished, toiling in the Valyrian mines, but the number was so large as to surely defy comprehension. As Valyria grew, its need for ore increased, which led to ever more conquests to keep the mines stocked with slaves. The Valyrians expanded in all directions, stretching out east beyond the Ghiscari cities and west to the very shores of Essos, where even the Ghiscari had not made inroads.
It was this first bursting forth of the new empire that was of paramount importance to Westeros and the future Seven Kingdoms. As Valyria sought to conquer more and more lands and peoples, some fled for safety, retreating before the Valyrian tide. On the shores of Essos, the Valyrians raised cities, which we know today as the Free Cities. Their origins were diverse.
Qohor and Norvos were founded following religious schisms. Others, such as Old Volantis and Lys, were trading colonies first and foremost, founded by wealthy merchants and nobles who purchased the right to rule themselves as clients of the Freehold rather than subjects. These cities chose their own leaders rather than receiving archons dispatched from Valyria (often on dragonback) to oversee them. It is claimed in some histories that Pentos and Lorath were of a third type—cities already extant before the Valyrians came whose rulers paid homage to Valyria and thus retained their right to native rule. In these cities, what influx of Valyrian blood there was came from migrants from the Freehold, or political marriages used to better bind these cities to Valyria. Yet most of the histories that recount this take as their source Gessio Haratis’s Before the Dragons. Haratis was himself from Pentos, and at the time, Volantis was threatening to restore the Valyrian empire under its control, so the notion of an independent Pentos with origins distinct from Valyria was a most politic convenience.
However, it is clear that Braavos is unique among all the Free Cities, as it was founded not by the will of the Freehold, nor by its citizens, but instead by its slaves. According to the tales of the Braavosi, a huge slaver fleet that had been out collecting tributes in human flesh from the lands of the Summer and Jade Seas became victim to a slave uprising instead; the success of this uprising was doubtless dependent on the fact that the Valyrians were wont to use slaves as oarsmen and even sailors, and that these men then joined the uprising. Seizing control of the fleet but realizing there was no place nearby to hide from the Freehold, the slaves instead elected to seek out some land far from Valyria and its subjects, and founded their own city in hiding. Legend says that the moonsingers prophesied that the fleet must travel far north to a forlorn corner of Essos—a place of mudflats and brackish water and fogs. There, the slaves first laid the foundation of their city.
For centuries, the Braavosi remained hidden from the world in their remote lagoon. And even after it unveiled itself, Braavos continued to be known as the Secret City. The Braavosi were a people who were no people: scores of races, a hundred tongues, and hundreds of gods. All they had in common was the Valyrian that formed the common trade language of Essos—and the fact that they were now free where once they had been slaves. The moonsingers were honored for leading them to their city, but the wisest among the freed slaves determined that, to unify themselves, they must accept all the gods the slaves had brought with them, holding none higher than any other.
In short, the names and numbers of the peoples who fell to Valyria are unknown to us today. What records the Valyrians kept of their conquests were largely destroyed by the Doom, and few if any of these peoples documented their own histories in a way that survived the Freehold’s dominion.
A few, such as the Rhoynar, lasted against the tide for centuries, or even millennia. The Rhoynar, who founded great cities along the Rhoyne, were said to be the first to learn the art of iron-making. Also, the confederation of cities later called the Kingdom of Sarnor survived the Valyrian expansion thanks to the great plain that separated one from the other … only for that plain and the people who occupied it—the Dothraki horselords—to be the source of Sarnor’s downfall after the Doom.
- 7 Times: “The waterfall!” the bitter speaker repeated. “Since the death of winter, they [Steel Angels] 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. But they had hurt no Jaenshi yet this season, they had let them go. And all those clans-without-a-god have gone to the waterfall, until the home forest of the waterfall folk is bare and eaten clean. Their talkers sit with the old talker and perhaps the waterfall god takes them in, perhaps he is a very great god. I do not know these things. But I do know that now the bald Angel has learned of the twenty clans together, of a grouping of half-a-thousand Jaenshi adults, and he leads a powerwagon against them. Will he let them go so easy this time, happy with a carved statue? Will they go, Arik, will they give up a second god as easily as a first?” The speaker blinked. “I fear they will resist with their silly claws. I fear the bald Angel will hang them even if they do not resist, because so many in union throws suspicion in him. I fear many things and know little, but I know we must be there. You will not stop us, Arik, and we cannot wait for your long-late lasers.”
And those who would not be slaves but were unable to withstand the might of Valyria fled. Many failed and are forgotten. But one people, tall and fair-haired, made courageous and indomitable by their faith, succeeded in their escape from Valyria. And those men are the Andals.
Note from Archmaester Gyldayn
Of the history of Valyria as it is known today, many volumes have been written over the centuries, and the details of their conquests, their colonizations, the feuds of the dragonlords, the gods they worshipped, and more could fill libraries and still not be complete. Galendro’s The Fires of the Freehold is widely considered the most definitive history, and even there the Citadel lacks twenty-seven of the scrolls.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE ANDALS:
The Andals originated in the lands of the Axe, east and north of where Pentos now lies, though they were for many centuries a migratory people who did not remain in one place for long. From the heartlands of the Axe—a great spur of land surrounded on all sides by the Shivering Sea—they traveled south and west to carve out Andalos: the ancient realm the Andals ruled before they crossed the narrow sea.
Andalos stretched from the Axe to what is now the Braavosian Coastlands, and south as far as the Flatlands and the Velvet Hills. The Andals brought iron weapons with them and suits of iron plates, against which the tribes that inhabited those lands could do little. One such tribe was the hairy men; their name is lost, but they are still remembered in certain Pentoshi histories. (The Pentoshi believe them to be akin to the men of Ib, and the histories of the Citadel largely agree, though some argue that the hairy men settled Ib, and others that the hairy men came first from Ib.)
- The Steel Angels are based in Sword Valley, or, the Axe in ASOIAF.
- 7 Times: Considering the number of Jaenshi on our walls, and those reported slain by predators or each other, I strongly feel that Sword Valley is virtually clean of the animals.
- 7 Times: NeKrol was anything but cool. “The Jaenshi tried to defend one of their pyramids. Spears and knives and rocks against the Steel Angels with lasers and blasters and screechguns. But they caught them unaware, killed a man. The Proctor announced it would not happen again.” He spat. “Evil. The children trust them, you see.”
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys X [the Pale Child Bakkalon]
She nodded, as calmly as if she had not heard his answer, and turned to the last of her champions. “Ser Jorah Mormont,” she said, “first and greatest of my knights, I have no bride gift to give you, but I swear to you, one day you shall have from my hands a longsword like none the world has ever seen, dragon-forged and made of Valyrian steel. And I would ask for your oath as well.”
“You have it, my queen,” Ser Jorah said, kneeling to lay his sword at her feet. “I vow to serve you, to obey you, to die for you if need be.”
“Whatever may come?”
The fact that the Andals forged iron has been taken by some as proof that the Seven guided them—that the Smith himself taught them this art—and so do the holy texts teach. But the Rhoynar were already an advanced civilization at this time, and they too knew of iron, so it takes only the study of a map to realize that the earliest Andals must have had contact with the Rhoynar. The Darkwash and the Noyne lay directly in the path of the Andals’ migration, and there are remnants of Rhoynish outposts in Andalos, according to the Norvoshi historian Doro Golathis. And it would not be the first time that men learned of the working of iron from the Rhoynar; it is said that the Valyrians learned the art from them as well, although the Valyrians eventually surpassed them.
For thousands of years the Andals abided in Andalos, growing in number. In the oldest of the holy books, The Seven-Pointed Star, it is said that the Seven themselves walked among their people in the hills of Andalos, and it was they who crowned Hugor of the Hill and promised him and his descendants great kingdoms in a foreign land. This is what the septons and septas teach as the reason why the Andals left Essos and struck west to Westeros, but the history that the Citadel has uncovered over the centuries may provide a better reason.
- For the Steel Angels, their holy book is referred to as the heavy-bound red book: “None but the seed of Earth may bow to Bakkalon,” Dhallis said. “It is written in the Book! The pale child will not look with favor on the soulless!”
- Readers know that Tyrion Lannister used the pseudonym Hugor (of the) Hill in A Dance with Dragons– Tyrion III. Also mentioned in the Gyldayn notes just below.
- Additionally, Tyrion signs his name in blood to Brown Ben Plumm and the Second Sons, who claim to have always been ‘Queen’s Men’, and promises the wealth of Casterly Rock.
- Brown Ben tells Tyrion, “”Stay away from the whores,” which carries the meaning of hordes/horses, etc.
Note from Archmaester Gyldayn
An old legend told in Pentos claims that the Andals slew the swan maidens who lured travelers to their deaths in the Velvet Hills that lie to the east of the Free City. A hero whom the Pentoshi singers call Hukko led the Andals at that time, and it is said that he slew the seven maids not for their crimes but instead as sacrifice to his gods. There are some maesters who have noted that Hukko may well be a rendering of the name of Hugor. But even more so than in the Seven Kingdoms, ancient legends from the east must be distrusted. Too many peoples have traveled back and forth, and too many legends and tales have mingled.
- 7 Times: “More, we shall see miracles. That too the pale child has promised me, signs by which we will know His truth, signs that shall bolster our faith with new revelation. But so too shall our faith be tested, for it will be a time of sacrifices, and Bakkalon will call upon us more than once to show our trust in Him. We must remember His Teachings and be true, and each of us must obey Him as a child obeys the parent and a fighting man his officer: that is, swiftly and without question. For the pale child knows best.”
For a few centuries, as the Andals prospered in the Hills of Andalos, they were left more or less to themselves. But with the fall of Old Ghis came the great surge of conquest and colonization from the Freehold of Valyria, as they expanded their domains and sought more slaves. At first, the Rhoyne and the Rhoynar served as a buffer. By the time the Valyrians reached that great river, they found it difficult to make a crossing in force. The dragonlords might not be troubled, but the foot- and horsemen found it daunting in the face of Rhoynish resistance, given that the Rhoynish were by now as powerful as Ghis at its height. There was a truce for years between the Valyrians and the Rhoynar, but it only protected the Andals so far.
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys VI
Drogo was silent for a time. Finally he said, “This seller of poisons ran from the moon of my life. Better he should run after her. So he will. Jhogo, Jorah the Andal, to each of you I say, choose any horse you wish from my herds, and it is yours. Any horse save my red and the silver that was my bride gift to the moon of my life. I make this gift to you for what you did.
“And to Rhaego son of Drogo, the stallion who will mount the world, to him I also pledge a gift. To him I will give this iron chair his mother’s father sat in. I will give him Seven Kingdoms. I, Drogo, khal, will do this thing.” His voice rose, and he lifted his fist to the sky. “I will take my khalasar west to where the world ends, and ride the wooden horses across the black salt water as no khal has done before. I will kill the men in the iron suits and tear down their stone houses. I will rape their women, take their children as slaves, and bring their broken gods back to Vaes Dothrak to bow down beneath the Mother of Mountains. This I vow, I, Drogo son of Bharbo. This I swear before the Mother of Mountains, as the stars look down in witness.”
His khalasar left Vaes Dothrak two days later, striking south and west across the plains. Khal Drogo led them on his great red stallion, with Daenerys beside him on her silver. The wineseller hurried behind them, naked, on foot, chained at throat and wrists. His chains were fastened to the halter of Dany’s silver. As she rode, he ran after her, barefoot and stumbling. No harm would come to him … so long as he kept up.
At the mouth of the Rhoyne, the Valyrians founded the first of their colonies. There, Volantis was raised by some of the wealthiest men of the Freehold in order to gather up the wealth that flowed down the Rhoyne, and from Volantis their conquering forces crossed the river in great strength. The Andals might have fought against them at first, and the Rhoynar might even have aided them, but the tide was unstoppable. So it is likely the Andals chose to flee rather than face the inevitable slavery that came with Valyrian conquest. They retreated to the Axe—the lands from which they had sprung—and when that did not protect them, they retreated farther north and west until they came to the sea. Some might have given up there and surrendered to their fate, and others still might have made their last stand, but many and more made ships and sailed in great numbers across the narrow sea to the lands of the First Men in Westeros.
The Valyrians had denied the Andals the promise of the Seven on Essos, but in Westeros they were free. Made zealous by the conflict and flight, the warriors of the Andals carved the seven-pointed star upon their bodies and swore by their blood and the Seven not to rest until they had hewn their kingdoms from the Sunset Lands. Their success gave Westeros a new name: Rhaesh Andahli—the Land of the Andals, as the Dothraki now name it.
Jorah Mormont , shorter and dark/black haired person of First Men origin, is in every way not a tall blonde Andal. So why do the Dothraki call him an Andal? It is because of his symbolic role in the current story. He is an ‘Andal’ coming with fire and blood.
A Game of Thrones – Daenerys VIII
A breath of air entered the tent as Aggo poked his head through the silk. “Khaleesi,” he said, “the Andal is come, and begs leave to enter.”
“The Andal” was what the Dothraki called Ser Jorah. “Yes,” she said, rising clumsily, “send him in.” She trusted the knight. He would know what to do if anyone did.
It’s agreed by the septons, the singers, and the maesters alike that the first place where the Andals landed was on the Fingers in the Vale of Arryn. Carvings of the seven-pointed star are scattered upon the rocks and stones throughout that area—a practice that eventually fell out of use as the Andal conquests progressed.
Sweeping through the Vale with fire and sword, the Andals began their conquest of Westeros. Their iron weapons and armor surpassed the bronze with which the First Men still fought, and many First Men perished in this war. It was a war—or a series of many wars—which likely lasted for decades. Eventually some of the First Men submitted, and, as I noted earlier, there are still houses in the Vale who proudly proclaim their descent from the First Men, such as the Redforts and the Royces.
The singers say that the Andal hero Ser Artys Arryn rode upon a falcon to slay the Griffon King upon the Giant’s Lance, thereby founding the kingly line of House Arryn. This is foolishness, however, a corruption of the true history of the Arryns with legends out of the Age of Heroes. Instead, the Arryn kings supplanted the High Kings of House Royce.
When the Vale was secured, the Andals turned their attention to the rest of Westeros and poured forth through the Bloody Gate. In the wars that followed, Andal adventurers carved out small kingdoms from the old realms of the First Men and fought one another as often as they fought their enemies.
In the wars over the Trident, it’s said that as many as seven Andal kings joined forces against the last true King of the Rivers and Hills, Tristifer the Fourth, who was descended from the First Men, and defeated him in what the singers claim was his hundredth battle. His heir, Tristifer the Fifth, proved unable to defend his father’s legacy, and so the kingdom fell to the Andals.
In this same era one Andal, remembered in legend as Erreg the Kinslayer, came across the great hill of High Heart. There, while under the protection of the kings of the First Men, the children of the forest had tended to the mighty carved weirwoods that crowned it (thirty-one, according to Archmaester Laurent in his manuscript Old Places of the Trident). When Erreg’s warriors sought to cut down the trees, the First Men are said to have fought beside the children, but the might of the Andals was too great. Though the children and First Men made a valiant effort to defend their holy grove, all were slain. The tale-tellers now claim that the ghosts of the children still haunt the hill by night. To this day, rivermen shun the place.
As with the First Men before them, the Andals proved bitter enemies to the remaining children. To their eyes, the children worshipped strange gods and had strange customs, and so the Andals drove them out of all the deep woods the Pact had once given them. Weakened and grown insular over the years, the children lacked whatever advantages they had once had over the First Men. And what the First Men could never succeed in doing—eradicating the children entirely—the Andals managed to achieve in short order. Some few children may have fled to the Neck, where there was safety amidst the bogs and crannogs, but if they did, no trace of them remains. It is possible that a few survived on the Isle of Faces, as some have written, under the protection of the green men, whom the Andals never succeeded in destroying. But again, no definitive proof has ever been found.
Regardless, the few children remaining fled or died, and the First Men found themselves losing war after war, and kingdom after kingdom, to the Andal invaders. The battles and wars were endless, but eventually all the southron kingdoms fell. As with the Valemen, some submitted to the Andals, even taking up the faith of the Seven. In many cases, the Andals took the wives and daughters of the defeated kings to wife, as a means of solidifying their right to rule. For, despite everything, the First Men were far more numerous than the Andals and could not simply be forced aside. The fact that many southron castles still have godswoods with carved weirwoods at their hearts is said to be thanks to the early Andal kings, who shifted from conquest to consolidation, thus avoiding any conflict based on differing faiths.
Even the ironborn—the fierce, sea-roving warriors who must have at first thought themselves safe upon their isles—fell to the wave of Andal conquest. For though it took a thousand years for the Andals to turn their attention to the Iron Islands, when they did, they did so with renewed zeal. The Andals swept over the islands, extinguishing the line of Urron Redhand, which had ruled by axe and sword for a thousand years.
Haereg writes that, at first, the new Andal kings sought to force worship of the Seven on the ironborn, but the ironborn would not have it. Instead they allowed it to coexist with their worship of the Drowned God. As on the mainland, the Andals married the wives and daughters of the ironborn and had children by them. But unlike on the mainland, the Faith never took root; more, it did not hold firm even among the families of Andal blood. In time, only the Drowned God came to rule over the Iron Islands, with only a few houses remembering the Seven.
It was the North and the North alone that was able to keep the Andals at bay, thanks to the impenetrable swamps of the Neck and the ancient keep of Moat Cailin. The number of Andal armies that were destroyed in the Neck cannot be easily reckoned, and so the Kings of Winter preserved their independent rule for many centuries to come.
TEN THOUSAND SHIP:
The last of the great migrations into Westeros happened long after the coming of the First Men and the Andals. Once the Ghiscari wars had ended, the dragonlords of Valyria turned their gaze toward the west, where the growth of Valyrian power brought the Freehold and its colonies into conflict with the peoples of the Rhoyne…
…and here I am going to end this World of Ice and Fire section. But as you can see, the transition between chapter topics is currently being reflected in the main body of work, we just have to know the past to know the future. If you want to read how GRRM has established Jon and Val as the new Nymeria, you can read that here, or you can also read how Jon is a wold and a bear.
I lied… there is a bit more…
There is an element to the Others in the Steel Angels as well. In ASOIAF, there are two primary ‘entities’ that make up the elemental Others. We have an ice Other, and we will have a fire Other. For the ice Other, the best place to look for comparisons is in the A Game of Thrones prologue…
- A Game of Thrones– Prologue:It was cold. Shivering, Will clung more tightly to his perch. His face pressed hard against the trunk of the sentinel. He could feel the sweet, sticky sap on his cheek.
A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.
Will heard the breath go out of Ser Waymar Royce in a long hiss. “Come no farther,” the lordling warned. His voice cracked like a boy’s. He threw the long sable cloak back over his shoulders, to free his arms for battle, and took his sword in both hands. The wind had stopped. It was very cold. The Other slid forward on silent feet. In its hand was a longsword like none that Will had ever seen. No human metal had gone into the forging of that blade. It was alive with moonlight, translucent, a shard of crystal so thin that it seemed almost to vanish when seen edge-on. There was a faint blue shimmer to the thing, a ghost-light that played around its edges, and somehow Will knew it was sharper than any razor.
Ser Waymar met him bravely. “Dance with me then.” He lifted his sword high over his head, defiant. His hands trembled from the weight of it, or perhaps from the cold. Yet in that moment, Will thought, he was a boy no longer, but a man of the Night’s Watch.
The Other halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. They fixed on the longsword trembling on high, watched the moonlight running cold along the metal. For a heartbeat he dared to hope.
They emerged silently from the shadows, twins to the first. Three of them … four … five … Ser Waymar may have felt the cold that came with them, but he never saw them, never heard them. Will had to call out. It was his duty. And his death, if he did. He shivered, and hugged the tree, and kept the silence.
The pale sword came shivering through the air.
Ser Waymar met it with steel. When the blades met, there was no ring of metal on metal; only a high, thin sound at the edge of hearing, like an animal screaming in pain. Royce checked a second blow, and a third, then fell back a step. Another flurry of blows, and he fell back again.
Behind him, to right, to left, all around him, the watchers stood patient, faceless, silent, the shifting patterns of their delicate armor making them all but invisible in the wood. Yet they made no move to interfere.
Again and again the swords met, until Will wanted to cover his ears against the strange anguished keening of their clash. Ser Waymar was panting from the effort now, his breath steaming in the moonlight. His blade was white with frost; the Other’s danced with pale blue light.
Then Royce’s parry came a beat too late. The pale sword bit through the ringmail beneath his arm. The young lord cried out in pain. Blood welled between the rings. It steamed in the cold, and the droplets seemed red as fire where they touched the snow. Ser Waymar’s fingers brushed his side. His moleskin glove came away soaked with red.
The Other said something in a language that Will did not know; his voice was like the cracking of ice on a winter lake, and the words were mocking.
Ser Waymar Royce found his fury. “For Robert!” he shouted, and he came up snarling, lifting the frost-covered longsword with both hands and swinging it around in a flat sidearm slash with all his weight behind it. The Other’s parry was almost lazy.
When the blades touched, the steel shattered.
- 7 Times: “The others,” he panted, still short on breath. “Where are they?” “The trees,” the bitter speaker replied, with a vague gesture. “I sent them up in the trees. Snipers, Arik, such as we saw upon your wall.”
“Please,” he said. “Come back with me. Leave them, leave them. You told them. I told them. Whatever happens, it is their doing, it is the fault of their fool religion.” “I cannot leave,” the bitter speaker said. She seemed confused, as so often when neKrol had questioned her back at the base. “It seems I should, but somehow I know I must stay here. And the others will never go, even if I did. They feel it much more strongly. We must be here. To fight, to talk.” She blinked. “I do not know why, Arik, but we must.”
And before the trader could reply, the Steel Angels came out of the forest.
There were five of them at first, widely spaced; then shortly five more. All afoot, in uniforms whose mottled dark greens blended with the leaves, so that only the glitter of the mesh-steel belts and matching battle helmets stood out. One of them, a gaunt pale woman, wore a high red collar; all of them had hand-lasers drawn.
- The red collar is a sign of religiously bound slavery, as Martin wrote it for the red priests of R’hllor (Melisandre), and how he also wrote it in his story A Song for Lya.
- This camouflage is called chameleon cloth in Martinworld, just as the Others have, but with ice.
“You!” the blond woman shouted, her eyes finding Arik at once, as he stood with his braid flying in the wind and the machete dangling uselessly in his hand. “Speak to these animals! Tell them they must leave! Tell them that no Jaenshi gathering of this size is permitted east of the mountains, by order of the Proctor Wyatt, and the pale child Bakkalon. Tell them!” And then she saw the bitter speaker, and started. “And take the laser from the hand of that animal before we burn both of you down!”
Trembling, neKrol dropped the machete from limp fingers into the water. “Speaker, drop the gun,” he said in Jaenshi, “please. If you ever hope to see the far stars. Let loose the laser, my friend, my child, this very now. And I will take you when Ryther comes, with me to ai-Emerel and further places.” The trader’s voice was full of fear; the Steel Angels held their lasers steady, and not for a moment did he think the speaker would obey him.
What to read next?
If you are now hankering for another pre-A Song of Ice and Fire story, try one of these…
- A Song for Lya– A novella about a psi-link couple investigating a fiery ‘god’. Very much a trees vs fire motif, and one of GRRM’s best stories out there.
- For A Single Yesterday– A short story about learning from the past to rebuild the future.
- This Tower of Ashes– A story of how lost love, mother’s milk, and spiders don’t mix all too well.
- A Peripheral Affair (1973)– When a Terran scout ship on a routine patrol through the Periphery suddenly disappears, a battle-hungry admiral prepares to renew the border war.
- The Stone City– a have-not surviving while stranded on a corporate planet. Practically a GRRM autobiography in itself.
- Slide Show– a story of putting the stars before the children.
- Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark– rubies, fire, blood sacrifice, and Saagael- oh my!
- A Night at the Tarn House– a magical game of life and death played at an inn at a crossroads.
- Men of Greywater Station– Is it the trees, the fungus, or is the real danger humans?
- The Computer Cried Charge!– what are we fighting for and is it worth it?
- The Needle Men– the fiery hand wields itself again, only, why are we looking for men?
- Black and White and Red All Over– a partial take on a partial story.
- Fire & Blood excerpt; Alysanne in the north– not a full story, but transcribed and noted section of the book Fire & Blood, volume 1.
If you want to browse my own thoughts and speculations on the ASOIAF world using GRRM’s own work history, use the drop-down menu above for the most content, or click on the page that just shows recent posts -> Recent Posts Page.
Artist credit for top picture of Daenerys atop her pyramid: Meereen by lvlorf3us
Thank you for reading the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by Gumbo!