Where are Tyrion and Jorah, and who attacked him? Who is that guy Daenerys is marrying? And what the fuck is going on with Theon, again?
As we’ve done so far this season, we’ve put together a list of scenes, references, and characters that deserve a special comment or mention. There’s no way we got all the good stuff (and we might be wrong on some of the things we’ve left below)—so please help expand our appendix.
“Barristan the Bold, they called him. He crossed a continent to serve me.”
Barristan Selmy’s death is the latest fairly large change from the story in the books, where he’s still alive well after events that haven’t happened in the show yet. (It’s the worst kind of change, too: A tacit admission that his presence in certain storylines is most likely without consequence.) It’s a crummy death—trapped in a narrow corridor and slain by masked but oddly talented soldiers supposedly drawn from the ranks of the elite—for one of Westeros’ most legendary knights, a man who as a young man killed Maelys Blackfyre, a third-generation pretender to the Targaryen throne, and who singlehandedly rescued the Mad King himself when he was held hostage by Lord Denys Darklyn during the Defiance of Duskendale. But, you know: Valar morghulis.
“But...I am the leader of my family.”
The House of Loraq is among the wealthiest and most powerful of Meereen’s ancient slaving aristocratic families, and Hizdahr is descended from some of its greatest sons: Mazdhan the Magnificent, Hazrak the Handsome, and Zharaq the Liberator.
“And she’s alone, under siege, no family to guide her or protector her; he last relation thousands of miles away, useless, dying.”
Maester Aemon, remember, is Daenerys’ great-uncle, the brother of her grandfather King Aegon V, who joined the Night’s Watch as a maester decades ago to avoid the battles over succession when his older brothers died.
“For 8,000 years the Night’s Watch have sworn an oath to be the shield that guards the realms of men. And for 8,000 years we’ve fallen short of that oath. You belong to the realms of men. All of you.”
The Night’s Watch has probably not failed in the way Jon is talking about for quite 8,000 years. It seems likely that for a time after the Wall was built, few men (if any) lived beyond it, given that it was built to protect men (and Children of the Forest, the race that pre-dated the arrival of men on Westeros) from the White Walkers who came from the north; only once the threat of the Others had died down did giants, children, and, presumably, the free folk make their way north.
“Most of them are at Hardhome. You know where that is? “Up on Storrold’s Point.”
Hardhome was the largest single settlement north of the wall, a town on the east coast of Westeros near the tip of the northward-pointing promotory Storrold’s point, until an attack—possibly from Skagos (or Thenn) cannibals, possibly from Essosi slavers—several centuries ago lay waste to it and drove the remaining wildlings to the natural caves in the cliffs of Storrold’s Point. In the books, wildlings have amassed at Hardhome by the thousands because of the prophecies of a woods witch named Mother Mole, who says that the free folk will be saved at Hardhome by a fleet of ships.
“Fewer.” “What?” “Nothing.”
“There is good farm land in the Gift. Land that no one uses.”
“The Gift” is the name of the large stretch of land just south of the wall given to the Night’s Watch in halves, first by Bran the Builder, the legendary King of the North who built the wall, and later by King Jaehaerys I. It consists of the area 50 leagues south of the wall (about 170 miles) from coast to coast, or a little over 51,000 square miles of land—mostly plains to the east and mountains to the west. It’s the area most frequently raided by wildlings, which is, as the Night’s Watch quickly points out, why the good land isn’t much used. Image below via the great Quartermaester.info:
“You’re the kennel master’s daughter. Who are you going to marry?”
Myranda’s father is the kennel master of the Dreadfort*, and she’s appeared previously in the show. (The only kennel master of Winterfell that we’ve met so far is Farlen, who was beaten by an Ironborn raider in the second season for publicly defying Theon after his invasion and seizure of the castle. He has daughter, Palla.)
“If you’re ever in trouble, light a candle in the highest window of the broken tower.”
The Broken Tower is the highest tower in Winterfell, at its northeastern corner. It was ruined in a fire 150 years before the events of the show. Bran catches Jaime and Cersei having sex in the tower, at which point Jaime shoves him out, paralyzing Bran and setting much of the events of the War of Five Kings in motion.
“You musn’t keep secrets from me, Reek.”
Let’s revisit Theon’s plotline, surely the most confusing of all those we’re expected to remember.
Theon Greyjoy is the son and heir of Balon Greyjoy, the Lord of the Iron Islands, a chain off the western coast of Westeros that upholds a kind of Viking-like raider culture. Theon grew up at Winterfell as a ward of Ned Stark, a hostage after Balon attempt to effect a rebellion against King Robert. Because he was sent to Winterfell as a young man, he grows close with Jon and Robb, and when Robb is proclaimed King in the North, Theon swears his fealty and offers to travel back to the Iron Islands to forge an alliance with his father.
At this he fails miserably. His father hates him, and thinks he’s weak. To win back his father’s love, he invades and captures Winterfell while Robb and his army are south, faking the killing of Bran and Rickon Stark when the pair escape north. But he’s betrayed by his men and taken hostage by Ramsay Snow, who engages in an overly long and tedious psychological game with Theon before torturing and castrating him. He forces Theon to call himself Reek and act as Ramsay’s manservant, eventually using him to capture back from the Ironborn the northern border garrison of Moat Cailin, the task for which Roose Bolton legitimizes Ramsay Snow as his heir.
Theon, abandoned by his father (but not his sister, who vowed to rescue him but...has not been seen in more than a season) now lives as Reek, stuttering and terrified servant of Ramsay Snow, falsely known to everyone as the murderer of Bran and Rickon Stark.
“We are all a family, we northerners. Our blood ties go back thousands of years.”
Because the northerners are still largely descended from families who came during the first wave of human settlement to Westeros, the so-called First Men, the noble houses of the north can often recount thousands of years of history, intermarriage, and enmity. House Bolton has, for example, long rivaled the Starks for power over the North—the Boltons once ruled as kings of their own right over the northeast of Westeros—and have risen (always unsucessfully) in rebellion several times since they first swore fealty to the Starks at the start of the Andal invasion some unknown number of millennia ago. Most recently, an unknown Bolton lord rebelled during the reign of King Harlon Stark, a king in the north before the arrival of the Targaryens; after a two-year seige of the Bolton Dreadfort, the family capitualted.
“May our happiness spread from Moat Cailin to the Last Hearth.”
Moat Cailin, the ruined stronghold at the north of the Neck swamp, is the southernmost castle in the North; Last Hearth, the seat of House Umber just south of the gift, is the northernmost.
“They say the Citadel has the largest library in the world.”
The Citadel does likely have a strong claim on the title (we don’t know much about the libraries in Essosi cities, really), but Castle Black’s library is unique—home to some of the oldest texts in Westeros and a gold mine for historians.
“Your father’s Randyll Tarly. Defeated my brother at the Battle of Ashford. Only battle Robert ever lost.”
As we discussed last week, the question of who is the greatest military commander in Westeros is likely between two candidates: Randyll Tarly and Stannis Baratheon. During Robert’s Rebellion, at the southwestern castle of Ashford, Tarly—in command of the vanguard of Mace Tyrell’s loyallist forces—overran the Baratheon army and forced them to retreat.
Stannis, by the way, is Sam’s first cousin (once removed) by marriage; his wife Selyse Florent is a cousin of Sam’s mother (and Randyll’s wife) Melessa.
“All the Kings in the North are buried there—Bran the Builder and Dorren and—”
Bran the Builder is the semi-legendary founder of House Stark, the first King in the North and the man who built the Wall, Winterfell—and, possibly, the Hightower at Oldtown, and Storm’s End, the seat of House Baratheon. Bran is said to have left the Night’s Watch the first half of the Gift. Depending on which legend you believe, he may be descended from Garth Greenhand, the also-legendary High King of the First Men.
King Dorren Stark is another semi-legendary king from the Age of Heroes, during which time the Night’s Watch still fought giants and traded with the Children of the Forest. He is not the most interesting legendary king, though Shireen may be confusing him with the similarly named Durran, the legendary first Storm King with whom Bran the Builder may have built Storm’s End.
“And in order to forge a lasting bond with the Meereenese people, I will marry the leader of the an ancient family.”
“I know where we are. You’re taking us through Valyria.”
This sort of helps answer our question of last week: Where exactly are Tyrion and Jorah? It seems most likely that they sailed eastward out of the Rhoyne River delta (hence their ability, per Tyrion’s comment, to sail east on a north-south river), and have been closely hugging the shore along the southern coast of Essos toward Valyria. (Another possibility is that there is a small and uncharted river tributary of the Rhoyne that leads to Valyria, maybe through or to the Sea of Sighs. This would better account for their approach to Valyria, which is now a collection of large islands on the sea, each separated by 50 miles or more, not a set of jungle ruins around a river.)
“What about the demons? And the flames? Aren’t you afraid of the Doom?”
About 400 years before the events of the series, the great empire of Valyria utterly collapsed in a mysterious and violent, possibly volcanic, cataclysm known as the Doom of Valyria, which turned the Valyrian peninsula into a smoking archipelago. The sea around Valyria is said to still boil and smoke, and the ruins of the empire’s capital city are rumored to be haunted by demons, or worse; very few sailors would ever dare venture there.
“They held each other close, and turned their backs upon the end.
The hills that split asunder, and the black that ate the skies;
The flames that shot so high and hot, that even dragons burned,
Would never be the final sights That fell upon their eyes.
A fly upon a wall, the waves the sea wind whipped and churned,
A city of a thousand years, and all that men had learned,
The Doom consumed it all alike, and neither of them turned.”
This is, probably, “The Dance of the Dragons,” a ballad duet in High Valyrian about two lovers dying in the Doom of Valyria that was sung at Joffrey’s wedding.
“Stone men—don’t let them touch you!”
“Stone Men” are what sufferers of greyscale are called in the final stages of the disease, when their entire bodies have been covered in the scaly grey patches and madness—often violent—begins to descend. In the books, the Stone Men (whom Tyrion encounters with different characters) have a colony around the cursed ruins of the Rhoynish city Chroyane; here, Chroyane and Old Valyria have been collapsed.