Post by Melifeather on Feb 13, 2016 19:31:26 GMT
The Reaver - AFFC Chapter 29
The Setting: The Shield Islands vs Massey’s Hook
Last edit: May 8, 2016
It’s been quite a journey so far and we’re only a quarter of the way through these inversion chapters. The Queenmaker was quite entertaining as it was jam-packed and full of exciting information like who really kidnapped Lyanna and how it all came together, but now we’re switching gears. We’re about to get a history lesson that helps explain why Bloodraven is at the Wall and why the Blackfyres keep rebelling. It will likely require as much analysis as The Queenmaker, so I anticipate that there will be at least two additional parts to follow.
I’ve already figured out where we’re going…to the east and Massey’s Hook, location of the Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion. The modern day Reaver is Victarion Greyjoy, and he’s on the deck of the Iron Victory as it sweeps forward into battle to attack the Shield Islands that protect the entrance to the Mander on the west coast of Westeros. Upriver lies Highgarden and all the riches of the Reach.
The Ironborn have raided this area many times before throughout history with the first such event two thousand years ago when the islands were then known as the Misty Islands. The islands were renamed once King Garth VII Gardener drove out the ironmen and fortified the islands with men from the Reach and armed the fisher folk to protect and shield the Mander from future attacks, and thus the source of the current name.
When longships are spotted, elders light beacon fires in the watchtowers, which in turn cause other watchtowers to light their own beacons and spread the warning to settlements further inland so they will not be caught unawares. Despite these preparations there was another attack during Robert’s Rebellion when the longships of the Shield Islands were defeated by House Greyjoy in the battle at the Mander, although Lord Quellon Greyjoy was killed.
The Masseys are First Men in origin. They are one of the many houses which historically claimed the mouth of the Blackwater Rush, which is our Mander river’s inversion. The seat of the Masseys is Stonedance on Masseys Hook which is a peninsula that defines the eastern extent of Blackwater Bay. Ships must sail around this hook to gain entrance to Kings Landing from the south. The Gullet separates Massey’s Hook from Dragonstone and Driftmark to the north, while southwest of the peninsula are the kingswood and the Wendwater. Some Storm Kings kept war fleets at Massey’s Hook.
At the time of the Andal invasion, Storm King Erich the Unready battled the pirate king Justin Milk-Eye for control of Massey’s Hook; this was eventually resolved when Qarlton II Durrandon defeated Josua Massey. Soon after the Andal warlord Togarion Bar Emmon traveled south of the Blackwater Rush and established a new kingdom on the Hook with Sharp Point the name of his seat.
Prior to the War of Conquest, Massey’s Hook owed allegiance to the Durrandon Storm Kings, but the Bar Emmons and Masseys had developed close ties with the Targaryens of Dragonstone and allied themselves with Aegon the Conqueror against Storm King Argilac the Arrogant. After Aegon’s victory, Massey’s Hook became part of the new Crownlands and owing allegiance to the new Targaryen king.
Battle of the Shield Islands vs the Battle of Wendwater Bridge
The drums were pounding when Victarion’s ship rammed the smaller ship ahead that had roses streaming upon her banners. Fore and aft were white roses upon a red escutcheon (shield). Atop her mast a golden one on a field as green as grass.
Daemon III Blackfyre’s sigil is a black dragon on red. His biggest supporter was Aegor Rivers, aka Bittersteel, whose own personal arms was the combined of the red stallion of House Bracken breathing flames with the black dragon wings of House Blackfyre on a golden shield. Daemon was further supported by Aegor’s famed group of exiled sellswords, the Golden Company who carried solid gold banners with no designs or devices upon it. They later also carry Bittersteel’s skull dipped in gold, and afterward the captains-general who have since led have added their own and followed his example.
The Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion began on Massey’s Hook when Daemon III Blackfyre and Aegor Rivers landed there, but suffered a shattering defeat in the Battle of Wendwater Bridge, with their casualties filling the river and Daemon slain by Ser Duncan the Tall of Aegon’s Kingsguard whose white cape is the inversion to Victarion’s golden one. I say this because Ser Duncan could be said to be King Aegon V’s paid shield just as the Golden Company was Daemon’s. Victarion is ironborn, however…he’ll pay the iron price for whatever he takes.
The rebellion had little support as people thought the Blackfyres to be done and tattered as their black on red banners. King Aegon V, accompanied by his sons, princes Duncan, Jaehaerys, and Daeron, led the loyalists of House Targaryen, and lost less than a hundred men, yet one of those lost was Ser Tion Lannister whose banner was gold on red. Daemon’s ally, Aegor Rivers was forced to retreat back across the Narrow Sea, and the war was quickly over.
The use of these colors, white on red, black on red, and gold on green, are meant to echo various identities from the past. Bloodraven’s sigil is a white dragon on black, Daemon’s is a black dragon on red, Bittersteel is a red stallion on gold, while Tion Lannister’s was gold lion on red.
Victarion is our wanna-be King, vaulting over the gunwale, landing on the deck below with his golden cloak billowing behind him. The white roses drew back, as men always did at the sight of Victarion Greyjoy armed and armored, his face hidden behind his kraken helm. Left and right he hewed off men’s arms at the elbows, cleaving shoulders, and slamming his shield into his foe’s faces. He easily cuts down and slays all before him, throwing the dead into the waters of the Shield Islands. He comes upon Ser Talbert of House Serry of Southshield Island who fights and wounds Victarion’s left hand before succumbing to his brute strength. It was his thrust that has left the throbbing, persistent pain in Victarion’s hand, and the thoughts that it must be Serry’s ghost-longsword that continues to stab him from beyond the grave.
After scouring the text regarding the Battle of Wendwater Bridge looking for anyone with a sword injury to a hand I discovered a reference to a blood oath that was sworn between Aegor (Bittersteel) Rivers and Lord Reaper of Pyke Torwyn Greyjoy, but Torwyn ended up betraying Aegor to his enemies during one of the Blackfyre Rebellions. Traditionally a blood oath involves the participants to shed their own blood and offer it to each other and swear to uphold some task, no matter what. Oft times the people involved would cut their hands and then shake in agreement. Victarion’s injury by Ser Talbert suggests that Victarion is mirroring wanna-be Targaryen Aegor Rivers, aka Bittersteel, while Ser Talbert is Torwyn Greyjoy.
Bittersteel was a warrior, and looked the part. He was tall and well-made, but also lean and lithe. He had black hair and purple eyes, and wore a close-cropped beard. He was an angry, bitter man who never smiled. He was resentful all his life and held a special loathing for his half-brother, Bloodraven who's mother, Melissa Blackwood replaced his own mother as their father’s favorite mistress. The two half brothers fought over Shiera Seastar, their half-sister who ended up choosing Bloodraven.
Victarion is a large and powerful man, with a bull’s broad chest and a boy’s flat stomach. His hair is flecked with grey. He’s a capable commander and a fierce warrior in battle, but has the calm demeanor outside of it. He favors bravery with great respect. He’s a religious man who wears full plate armor while sailing, because he has no fear of drowning. Victarion fought with his own brother, Euron who impregnated Victarion’s third wife. He beat her to death to retain his honor, and would have killed Euron too if not for his fear of kinslaying.
Victarion throws Serry’s sword overboard before forcing Ser Talbert in backwards over the side as well into the bloodstained waters. The inversion to this is that Bittersteel retreats back across the Narrow Sea. The white roses were falling back before the iron tide. The Blackfyre’s fell before the might of the Targaryen iron throne loyalists.
The Drowned God had not shaped Victarion Greyjoy to fight with words at kingsmoots, nor struggle against furtive sneaking foes in endless bogs. He was meant to stand steel-clad with an axe red and dripping, dealing death with every blow. Let three men assail him, or four, or five, it made no matter. The last man to face him must have been a smith; he had shoulders like a bull, and one more muscular than the other. Victarion cut his head in two. Would that I could deal with the Crow’s Eye as simply. When he pulled the axehead free, the smith’s skull seemed to burst. Bone, blood, and brain went everywhere, and the corpse fell forward against his legs. Too late to plead for quarter now.
“Quarter” has long been used to mean “exemption from being immediately put to death” and granted to a vanquished opponent by the victor in battle. To “give no quarter” means anyone captured was effectively given a death sentence. None of the Blackfyre Pretenders outlived Bittersteel. Maelys died a prisoner at the Red Keep, but four Pretenders were slain during their respective Rebellions.
Victarion’s defeat of multiple foes are meant to represent the five Blackfyre Pretenders. Their names are so similar: Daemon, Daemon II, Haegon, Daemon III, and Maelys. All but Daemon II had one thing in common: Aegor “Bittersteel” Rivers who plotted and supported three Blackfyre Rebellions, and left his legacy for the fifth to carry out. The last man to face Victarion was a smith, and I think this is a reference to Robert Baratheon rising up and taking the realm by conquest.
A few years after the Wendwater Bridge Battle Bittersteel reappeared in the Disputed Lands and fell during a skirmish between Tyrosh and Myr. On his deathbed he commanded the men of the Golden Company to boil the flesh from his skull, dip it in gold, and carry it before them when they cross the Narrow Sea to retake Westeros. Bittersteel rose in Rebellion time after time after time, only to be defeated in large part by the work of his detested, half-brother Bloodraven, whereas Victarion easily killed those men, but knew he could not do the same to Euron.
What Took Place, Then and Now
Victarion makes a point of asking about Talbart Serry again, “That knight,” he grumbled, “the knight of the white rose. Did any of you pull him out?” If Serry had survived he could have been used for ransom. Victarion thinks he drowned, and later we have Margaery’s report that Lord Serry’s son and heir was indeed slain. The emphasis on "Serry" and the "white rose" makes me think we should pay attention here. In this chapter it is my opinion that Victarion is mirroring Aegor aka "Bittersteal", and that the white rose may be symbolic of Bloodraven's white dragon sigil. Should we suspect that Aegor arranged to have Bloodraven's chosen heir for the throne taken as hostage? Or in an inversion version, did Bloodraven find a way to conceal the heir?
Ultimately it may have been Aegor’s fault that Brynden Rivers went to the Wall. Brynden did whatever it took to prevent a Blackfyre from succeeding, even going so far as to perform dishonorable things like luring Aenys Blackfyre to Kings Landing only to behead him. This was the act that prompted Aegon V to send Brynden to the Wall, and after 13 years as Lord Commander, Brynden went missing. This is echoed in The Reaver by having none of Victarion’s men knowing what became of Ser Serry after he went over the side. The white rose's knight or heir went missing. We learned in The Drowned Man that the north is the sea where the Drowned God now resides, and symbolically it's as if Bloodraven went missing when he went "over" into the sea. I'm thinking Serry’s white rose may represent Bloodraven’s white dragon sigil. Victarion thought Serry had drowned. “May he feast as he fought, in the Drowned God’s watery halls.” and he further elaborates thinking, “A brave man…almost ironborn.” The Greyjoys are reliving the fates of the Blackfyres - the illegitimate Targaryens - therefore Bloodraven's chosen heir that went missing was “almost ironborn” or in other words, an illegitimate or fake Targaryen. (Please say this isn't evidence that Jon is a bastard Targaryen!)
Victarion gave Serry’s ship to Ragnor Pyke, named a dozen men to crew her, and clambered back up onto his own Iron Victory. He disarmed his captives, asked Nute the Barber to take care of the wounded, and throw the dying into the sea. (recall north of the Wall is also a sea) If they asked for mercy he was to cut their throats. He commanded a count of ships won, knights and lordlings captured, and he wanted their banners to hang in his hall so he could look at them and remember this day. My translation: Ragnor Pyke is meant to echo Lord Reaper Torwyn Greyjoy who swore, but later broke, a blood oath to Aegor Rivers. Was Greyjoy supposed to ferry away a Targaryen heir, but broke his promise? I also see echoes of Bloodraven’s honor-breaking when he tricked Aenys Blackfyre. In this way Bloodraven is both Nute the Barber and the Lord Reaper since Aenys was lured with the promise of safe passage and then beheaded. Nute congratulates Victarion on a great victory. "Aye", he thought, "a great victory for the Crow’s Eye and his wizards." Of course Euron is the Crow's Eye and Bloodraven is his inversion, so “Euron’s wizards” may be the Children. Was this a victory for Bloodraven or a crushing defeat? Do these passages describe what led to Rhaegar's son Aegon's death, or do they describe his son's survival by being taken and hidden away? Was his identity and location kept doubly safe by tricking anyone looking further into thinking Jon was Rhaegar's son? Going back to the second paragraph above, is Jon a fake Targaryen?
Victarion thinks how Euron seduced the ironmen with his glib tongue and smiling eye and bound them to his cause with gold, silver, armor, swords with gilded pommels, Valyrian steel daggers, tiger pelts, spotted cats, jade manticores, Valyrian sphinxes, chests of spices, tusks and horns, feathers, and bolts of silk and samite. Was this the “treasure” that the Children offered Bloodraven? Or was it the other way around? Victarion thinks, “Now he has given them conquest, and they are his for good and all.” Sounds like an exchange of promises. The Children may have helped Bloodraven and in exchange he gives them himself. Victarion continues, “This was my victory, not his. Where was he? …He stole my wife and he stole my throne, and now he steals my glory.” Bloodraven “stole” Shiera from Bittersteel, and Bittersteel keeps trying to steal the iron throne.
Obedience came naturally to Victarion. He dutifully followed his elder brother, Balon and grew to accept that one day he would kneel to Balon’s children as well when one of them took the Seastone Chair, but the Drowned God had summoned Balon to his watery halls and Victarion would not call Euron “king” without tasting bile in his throat. The same could be said for the rift between Bittersteel and Bloodraven. Both of their mothers had been mistresses to King Aegon IV, and Bloodraven’s mother had taken Bittersteel’s mother’s place as favorite. The bastard half-brothers also fought over their half-sister, Shiera for her affections, and again Bloodraven won out over Bittersteel. Before King Aegon IV died, he legitimized all his bastards placing them in his line of succession after his trueborn son, Daeron II. They were known as Great Bastards and they included:
Daemon Waters, later known as Daemon I Blackfyre
Aegor Rivers, aka Bittersteel
Brynden Rivers, aka Bloodraven
Shiera, aka Shiera Seastar
Bloodraven only ever supported trueborn heirs and worked to prevent any legitimized bastard from inheriting the iron throne.
The Dusky Woman
Euron gave Victarion a dusky woman that he kept in his cabin on the Iron Victory. After battle he went to her and took her twice in quick succession. Afterward she had blood smeared across her breasts, thighs and belly, but it was his blood from the gash Serry gave him. The dusky woman washed his wound with boiled vinegar.
“Dusky” is a euphemistic or poetic reference to black or somewhat dark-skinned people, but the blood smeared over her body surely mirrors Shiera Seastar, as there were rumors that she bathed in the blood of maidens to retain her beauty. Shiera was a renowned beauty and seductress, with long Targaryen silver-gold hair, a heart shaped face, and two mismatched eyes - one blue, the other green - which only seemed to enhance her beauty. She was also known to wear a heavy silver necklace with alternating blue sapphires and green emeralds to compliment her unusual eyes.
The washing of the wound with vinegar is surely the sting Bittersteel felt when Shiera chose Bloodraven, but lets not forget that the two were once lovers. Victarion tells the dusky woman that Euron’s plan was good, that the Mander river was now open to raiding by the ironborn, but she cannot speak in return, because Euron has cut out her tongue.
The tongue is a very special part of the body. It allows for communication, lovemaking, spitting, eating, and many other essential activities. It is perhaps the most personal part of the human body, more personal than even your genitals. If you dream about getting your tongue cut out it means that you have said too much to someone you know about something, or said something inappropriate. I think the fact that the dusky woman is missing her tongue is meant to symbolize that Shiera told Bittersteel something about Bloodraven, since Euron (Bloodraven) cut it out. Euron understands something from the past and is going to make sure he doesn’t repeat Bloodraven’s mistake in allowing Shiera to speak. The lost tongue also symbolizes the story of Serala, the Lace Serpent, and Lady Darklyn of Duskendale.
The Blackwater Bay is an inlet of the Narrow Sea, separated from it by the Gullet, held between the arms of Crackclaw Point to the north and Massey’s Hook to the south, with the island of Dragonstone guarding the entrance to the bay. In this way Dragonstone is like the Shield Islands by the Mander. Aside from Kings’s Landing and Dragonstone, the largest port on the bay is Duskendale, which serves as a secondary port for King’s Landing when the main port is overwhelmed with traffic.
Duskendale was formerly ruled by the Darklyns, but it is currently the seat of House Rykker. During the Andal invasion the Darklyn king at Duskendale forced Togarion Bar Emmon to abandon the northern Blackwater for Massey’s Hook. The Darklyns are now extinct due to the Defiance of Duskendale which took place during the reign of King Aerys II when, according to the smallfolk, Lord Denys Darklyn was convinced by his wife, Lady Serala of Myr, to take King Aerys II captive.
During the imprisonment of the king, the master-at-arms of the Dun Fort, Ser Symon Hollard, slew Ser Gwayne Gaunt of the Kingsguard. The Hand of the King, Lord Tywin Lannister, assembled an army that could easily storm the town, but Lord Denys threatened to kill Aerys if Tywin attacked. Aerys was held prisoner for half a year with Tywin’s army waiting outside Duskendale.
The situation was at a stalemate until Ser Barristan Selmy stole into the Dun Fort and rescued the king. Having lost his hostage, Lord Denys had no choice but to surrender. He bent the knee and begged for mercy, but the king demanded his head and those of all his family. Lady Serala, called the Lace Serpent for the poison of her words, was burned alive after her tongue and female parts were torn out which were blamed for enslaving her lord husband.
Part II to follow