Tyrion’s Cyvasse game

This is my take on Tyrion’s Cyvasse ‘game’. (Originally posted as a Reddit comment).

Cyvasse by B-jackdaw. Source: DeviantArt

He gives two pieces of advice to Aegon – (1) Through words, go to Westeros ASAP because this is the right time to strike (2) Through the game, keep your dragon close. These two pieces are contradictory, because Aegon can’t keep his dragon (Dany) close and go to Westeros soon – it has to be one or the other.

At the time of the game, Tyrion does not know Dany was wed, or that she intend to stay at Meereen – any Westerosi will expect her to return West. Tyrion has no idea about Jorah, and he does not expect to be parted from the Shy Maid crew. So in hindsight, it would appear as if Tyrion wanted to make a quick return to Westeros, and defeat Cersei. After all, everything he said about Cersei’s ineptitude and the chaos in Westeros became real in AFFC. It does look like Aegon will have a successful campaign for at least some duration following his landing in Westeros.

Only, Tyrion Lannister is not a green boy eager for victories, nor is he as desperate as Jon Connington (exiled though both are). Even if we ignore his self-destructive mindset throughout the first-half of Dance, he is obsessed with dragons – enough to keep reading about them long after the last of them were dead, and before even Dany had hatched her three dragons. He will never turn away from the prospect of seeing real dragons (even after escaping death by lions at Daznak’s Pit, he is disappointed that he could not see the dragon taking flight), especially if these dragons are in the care of someone who would want to overpower his sister Cersei.

So why advise Aegon to turn away from dragons? Because he knew they would not be able to turn West, even if Aegon himself was convinced it was the right course. From Tyrion’s viewpoint, Jon Connington would not take such a ‘foolish course’ of discarding their best advantage, a marriage alliance with the dragon queen, just to take advantage of politics. They have waited long enough, they could wait a bit more. (I believe JonCon would have waited, if not for the grayscale and Dany staying East).

Effectively, Tyrion was planting an idea in Aegon’s mind that things could be smoother and quicker if they only reached Westeros in the right time. Here is what I think Tyrion expected to happen:

  1. Aegon is eager to demonstrate his talent, probably discusses the prospect of turning West with JonCon
  2. Jon Con disagrees, they continue their course East. Aegon is unhappy with Jon Con, wonders how much more JonCon will control him once they win the throne
  3. They reach Dany, and Aegon ‘finds’ that she is exactly as Tyrion described her (it was an intelligent guess from his part, and even if Dany was different, Tyrion already planted a first impression stencil in Aegon’s mind so it would be difficult for him to form a drastically different opinion).
  4. Dany is not over-the-moon about Aegon (not unexpectedly), and even if she is, Aegon doubts if that is enough. Tyrion has enough factual details (the Dothraki, Unsullied support of Dany) to guess that she has earned more support and more followers than Aegon, this causes Aegon to feel inferior (more so than he would have felt, if not for Tyrion’s view on the matter).
  5. Aegon begins to wonder what would have happened if only he followed Tyrion’s advice.. Heard melodies are sweet, those unheard are sweeter, so Aegon will think things would have been better for him if he had listened to Tyrion instead of Jon Connington, Illyrio or Varys. Voila! There goes puppetmasters’ plan to groom their perfect prince. In all likeliness, the prince would be more prone to listening to Tyrion now, or at least think twice before following what JonCon, Varys or Illyrio tells him to do.

Considering Tyrion’s mindset at the time of the game, I think he was just trying to cause chaos, almost in the fashion of Littlefinger’s usual MO. He was being asked to dress like a clown, he was being kept under the dark, and he was feeling suicidal after the Tysha reminder from Jaime. JonCon reminded him of Tywin, and Tyrion was never a big fan of Varys to begin with. What Tyrion really wanted Aegon to do was this: Trust no one.

Not your chainless maester, not your false father, not the gallant Duck nor the lovely Lemore nor these other fine friends who grew you from a bean. Above all, trust not the cheesemonger, nor the Spider, nor this little dragon queen you mean to marry.

If Tyrion was more his pre-ADWD self, I’d have guessed he had plans to play for Dany’s trust while distancing Aegon and his team from her – after all, Tyrion is going to have a hard time achieving the position of influence under king Aegon, with Varys, Illyrio (from behind the curtain) and Jon Connington already having brought him up. Dany on the other hand have no one with political acumen (Illyrio or Varys does say this to Tyrion) on her side. It’s not surprising that Tyrion would try to seize the opportunity. However, I think he was more in destructive mindset than an ambitious one at the time of the game.


Why I don’t like book!Cersei

I have seen a lot of readers, especially women, claiming Cersei to be theri favorite PoV, and how they ‘love to hate her’ etc etc, but post ASOS, I find nothing feminist in Cersei, but quite the contrary. Cersei is more sexist than even some men in the series (and that tells a lot). She looks down on all other women for the mere reason they are women (‘hens’). She looks down on all men too, because with the exception of Jaime and Tywin, they are lesser than what she could have been if she was born male. She believes (as evident from her conversation with Sansa and her actions throughout the series) the best way for a woman to get what she wants is to use ‘the weapon between her legs’, and by extension any plain or ugly woman, like Brienne, are completely useless and detestable. Cersei has picked up a few things from her father, but unfortunately in an incomplete manner(she knows one can rule with fear, but she doesn’t exactly nail down whom to intimidate and whom to please), resulting in her becoming an inept ruler.

Contrast this with Catelyn, who grew up in almost same conditions as Cersei – she also gets upset when she feels neglected or not taken serious enough just because she is a woman, but not as bitterly as Cersei, and Catelyn is able to command a certain amount of respect and loyalty from her son’s bannermen. No spreading legs required.

[Modified from a Reddit comment]

The Son of Ice and Fire

Assumption: R+L=J. (It is always the case with me, but more than regular for this one.)

Jon Snow by Magali Villeneueve
Aegon I by Magali Villeneueve

This is motivated by this post in r/freefolk (Warning to non-freefolkers: Tread carefully, because ere be all sort of spoilers and leaks, without spoilertags), which suggested that Jon looks like Aegon I Targaryen. The OP was comparing the above images (seeing them side-by-side, I can’t but help more and more appreciate G-Girl95), and I posted a long-ish comment. Thought that I’d post it in an organized fashion here.

Most readers assume Jon to be a carbon-copy of young Ned Stark, and they have good reason to do so.

Jon’s eyes were a grey so dark they seemed almost black, but there was little they did not see. He was of an age with Robb, but they did not look alike. Jon was slender where Robb was muscular, dark where Robb was fair, graceful and quick where his half brother was strong and fast. Bran I, AGOT

Jon was never out of sight, and as he grew, he looked more like Ned than any of the trueborn sons she bore him. Catelyn II, AGOT

Jon had their father’s face, as she did. Arya I, AGOT

He had the Stark face if not the name: long, solemn, guarded, a face that gave nothing away. Whoever his mother had been, she had left little of herself in her son. Tyrion II, AGOT

Riding through the rainy night, Ned saw Jon Snow’s face in front of him, so like a younger version of his ownEddard IX, AGOT

And that’s just the first book.

“Who’s this one now?” Craster said before Jon could go. “He has the look of a Stark.” Jon III, ACOK

Arya was the only one to show much of Ned in her features. And Jon Snow, but he was never mine. Catelyn VI, ACOK

Jon looks like me, even though he’s bastard-born.” Arya VIII, ASOS

Stannis snorted. “I know Janos Slynt. And I knew Ned Stark as well. Your father was no friend of mine, but only a fool would doubt his honor or his honesty. You have his look.” Jon XI, ASOS

It was Lord Snow who faced him now, grey eyes as hard as ice. Samwell I, AFFC

The flames crackled softly, and in their crackling she heard the whispered name Jon Snow. His long face floated before her, limned in tongues of red and orange, appearing and disappearing again, a shadow half-seen behind a fluttering curtain. Melisandre, ADWD

Other than this, what I could find was his height was probably average, given his comparison to Joffrey (Lannisters are generally tall, and Joffrey resembles Jaime) and Grenn (nicknamed ‘Aurochs’).

He[Joffrey] was twelve, younger than Jon or Robb, but taller than either, to Jon’s vast dismay. Jon I, AGOT

Grenn was sixteen and a head taller than Jon.  Jon III, AGOT

There might be more if I did a more thorough search. But already we have five mentions in the first book and six in the remaining books, relating Jon’s appearance to that of traditional Stark/Northern. There are a large number of misguided “fans” who had refuted R+L=J solely on the basis that Jon did not have silver hair or purple eyes. But what can really be inferred about Jon’s looks?

  1. Coloring: Dark (dark/brown hair)
  2. Eye color: Deep gray
  3. Face: Long
  4. Build: Slender
  5. Height: Not tall for his age, unlike Joffrey. Probably average. [Could get taller, since he was only fourteen at the time of meeting Joffrey or Grenn]

These are the only physical aspects of Jon that we know. The first three are definitely Stark traits, and just these constitute his ‘Stark look’, as far as readers are concerned. I do not doubt that Jon resembles Ned through Lyanna, hence his resemblance with Arya, but that does not necessarily mean that his real appearance was a complete opposite of what Tyrion thought (“Whoever his mother had been, she had left little of herself in her son”). We do not have enough information to conclude that Jon does not resemble Rhaegar in any way – let it be external appearance, abilities, or character. One could argue, based on Tyrion’s comment, that all of Jon’s features must have looked like Ned’s for Tyrion to make that comment, but all Tyrion actually makes mention of is what everyone else notices – Jon’s long solemn face.

It so happens that, there exist many other features which could be remarked upon to emphasize the similarity between a parent and  his/her child. Here is a list of some such features, unknown in the case of Jon, and therefore having a finite possibility of being inherited from Rhaegar or the Targaryen side. (Quotes about Rhaegar listed in the end)

  1. Slender build – Viserys was described as gaunt by Dany, but that could be due to all his hardships. But Targaryens in general do not seem to turn out to be muscular.
  2. Face – We know it is long, but is it also narrow? Cersei says Aurane’s face is too narrow to be like Rhaegar, but this may suggest that Rhaegar’s face was somewhat narrow. Does Jon have a thin face?
  3. Eyes – We know the color, but are his eyes narrow? Too far apart? Thick eyebrows or light? Are Jon’s eyes big or small? Does he have thick eyelashes? Did Rhaegar?
  4. Nose – Is it flat, straight, pinched, thin or aquiline? Is it like Ned’s or Rhaegar’s or Viserys’s?
  5. Cheekbones – High? prominent or not? how do they compare with Starks and Targaryens?
  6. Voice – Soft? Ringing? Deep? Coarse? Does Jon have the ‘iron tones of Rhaegar’ that Jaime would identify?
  7. Gait/antics – Does Jon have a special way of walking that can be identified as similar to Rhaegar’s, or Ned’s or Brandon’s? Does Jon fights in some typical way that would remind Jon Connington or Ser Barristan of Rhaegar? (These things could be inherited). There are no less than 35 mentions of Arya biting/chewing her lips, but only one each of Robb and Jon doing it and twice for Sansa.

Above given are all unknowns related to Jon Snow. It is entirely possible that in none of the seven listed categories does Jon resemble Rhaegar in the slightest sense, but the point I’m making is that we don’t know it, either way.

Then why do they matter? Because, if  someone who is familiar with Targaryens but having no idea about ‘the Stark look’ should meet Jon in the future books, they may spot some similarities. (I say this from personal experience of my mother’s friends/family saying I look like my mother, when I actually resemble my father more.)

So far, the people who have met both Rhaegar and Jon are Ned, Benjen, Yoren, Jaime, Robert, Cersei, and probably also Alliser Thorne, Jaremy Rykker, Stannis Baratheon (less chance there), Aemon Targaryen (even less chance, but Aemon knew other Targaryens really well to know the Targ look. Considering he was blind by the time Jon came to the Wall, I will add that Aemon may also have know the Targ voice, if there is one),..

All of them, with the exception of Jaime and Cersei, has spent more time around one Stark or other (Ned in case of Robert, Benjen for Alliser and Jaremy) to connect Jon to Rhaegar rather than Ned. Jaime and Cersei are also first introduced to Ned and Benjen, then get a passing chance to observe Jon Snow, the bastard of Winterfell. Not surprising that they didn’t see in Jon anything more than Tyrion did. Because people see what they expect to see. This is probably another reason for Ned to keep Jon in Winterfell (in addition to the safety) – in Winterfell, standing next to Ned, no one is going to suspect that Jon is not Ned’s son. But Ned leaves Winterfell and Jon leaves to the Wall – where Benjen Stark has lived for nearly as long as Jon was alive. The wildlings, Craster, Stannis – all the people Jon met after leaving home also had no reason to doubt Jon’s origins.

Take an imaginary scenario – take Daenerys for example – who only know Ned as the hard-faced lord who was the usurper’s dog  but nothing really about how he looks; but grew up with Viserys – if she meets Jon without being told who he was, would she observe that Jon resembled Viserys or Rhaegar (from her visions/dreams), or would she not? We don’t know. It is not impossible. Or take Jon Connington, who knew Ned Stark well enough (Battle of Bells), but spends most the life dreaming/brooding/reminciecsing about Rhaegar, what would his impression of Jon be? I am curious.

There are other skills and qualities that Jon have and Rhaegar had (like determination, efficiency, resourcefulness, kindness, chivalry, etc.), but they have been analyzed already and are too subjective and verbose to include in this discussion, so I’m leaving them out for now.

Quotes about Rhaegar Targaryen’s looks:

Viserys, was her first thought the next time she paused, but a second glance told her otherwise. The man had her brother’s hair, but he was taller, and his eyes were a dark indigo rather than lilac.  Daenerys IV, ACOK. [About Viserys: He was a gaunt young man with nervous hands and a feverish look in his pale lilac eyes. Daenerys I, AGOT]

And beside them, crowned in mist and grief with his long hair streaming behind him, rode Rhaegar Targaryen, Prince of Dragonstone and rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Jaime VI, ASOS

On the floor he’d found a scuffed mosaic of the three-headed dragon of House Targaryen done in tiles of black and red. I know you, Kingslayer, the beast seemed to be saying. I have been here all the time, waiting for you to come to me. And it seemed to Jaime that he knew that voice, the iron tones that had once belonged to Rhaegar, Prince of Dragonstone. Jaime I, AFFC.

 It was not the first time the queen had made note of Waters, a lean young man with grey-green eyes and long silver-gold hair. The first time she had seen him, for half a heartbeat she had almost thought Rhaegar Targaryen had returned from the ashes. It is his hair, she told herself. He is not half as comely as Rhaegar was. His face is too narrow, and he has that cleft in his chin. Cersei III, AFFC.

Many a night she had watched Prince Rhaegar in the hall, playing his silver-stringed harp with those long, elegant fingers of his. Had any man ever been so beautiful? Cersei V, AFFC

Next to Rhaegar, even her beautiful Jaime had seemed no more than a callow boy. Cersei V, AFFC

“Your Grace is kind,” said Waters with a smile. A wicked smile, the queen thought. Aurane did not resemble Prince Rhaegar as much as she had thought. Cersei VIII, AFFC

His silvery hair was blowing in the wind, and his eyes were a deep purple, darker than this boy’s. The Griffin Reborn, ADWD