A Tale of Two Castles: You Win Some, You Lose Some

Tyrion The Queen's Justice

“When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” – Cersei Lannister

Thanks for the tip, Cersei. It’s not bad advice, but it’s a tad simplistic. Winning is not always enough. Sometimes winning is roughly equivalent to losing.

In Season Seven’s third episode “The Queen’s Justice” the second element in Tyrion Lannister’s two-part strategy to isolate Cersei’s power came to fruition. As a reminder (correct me if I leave anything out) the proposed plan of operations presented to the allies of Daenerys Targaryen was something like this:

  1. Besiege King’s Landing with troops from Dorne
  2. Capture Casterly Rock with Unsullied forces

Had these two military moves succeeded, the hope was that it would demonstrate the fundamental weakness of Cersei’s position, to be used as a negotiating point when Daenery Targaryen’s ravens carried messages asserting her claim to the lords of Westeros.

Dany: Look, it’s not like Cersei’s even really a legit queen. She just ended up marrying dumb Robert and had a bunch of blond bastards.
Lords of Westeros: She does have a point.
Cersei: But I’m on the throne! I’m literally sitting on it at this moment.
Dany: You’re doing an amazing job at keeping my seat warm for me, sweetie.

Unfortunately for the Mother of Dragons, her control of the Narrow Sea was not unchallenged. Plans for the siege operations fell through when Yara Greyjoy’s fleet was attacked by her uncle Euron’s superior fleet. That phase of operations was foiled from the very start.

But Dany’s Unsullied troops did make good on taking Casterly Rock, the ancestral home castle of House Lannister. Tyrion Lannister’s knowledge of secret sanitation tunnel access allowed Dany’s eunuch shock troops to bypass the walls, where their lifelong training allowed them to overtake the Lannister garrison.

Grey Worm Casterly Rock

Their lifelong training and their vastly overpowering numbers, I should say. Jaime Lannister had left only a skeleton crew to defend Casterly Rock as he’d taken the bulk of available Lannister fighting forces to perform a blitzkrieg siege on Lady Olenna Tyrell’s Highgarden castle.

The Unsullied general Grey Worm’s forces won the battle at Casterly Rock and succeeded in taking the castle. But the fortress had been left unprovisioned and the support ships that brought the Unsullied to Casterly Rock were no longer in play, thanks again to Euron Greyjoy. The Unsullied expeditionary forces had effectively taken themselves out of the game, a somewhat hollow victory.

There’s something familiar about this situation, where a daring military strike scores what would normally be considered a major victory but ends up as a liability.

The story of Game of Thrones is so rich and complex that similarities to well-known events from literature or actual history are readily recognized. But this story is so vast, that it’s also easy to recognize similarities with previous events within itself. We saw something like the taking of Casterly Rock before, in the second season.

Casterly Rock’s fall is a strong echo of Theon’s successful capture of Winterfell, which he felt was a major coup but turned out to be a victory not worth having.

Theon Balon Yara

Let’s hit a few points of comparison for discussion:


Theon: Taking Winterfell will certainly impress dad!
Tyrion: Taking Casterly Rock would no doubt cause father great consternation. Were he alive.

I think it’s fair to consider that the poor relationships with their respective fathers influenced Theon’s and Tyrion’s decisions to assault Winterfell and Casterly Rock.

After a belittling reunion with his father Balon Greyjoy in the second season, Theon was obsessed with earning his crabby dad’s approval. He’d hoped his bold action in taking Winterfell would deliver that.

Tyrion had suffered all his life with his father Tywin’s overt disapproval, and had lobbied unsuccessfully to be recognized as Tywin’s heir, but the Old Lion was not having any of that. Taking the Rock would not doubt provide some kind of satisfying closure for Tyrion.


Theon: I now realize that the Starks were my true family.
Ramsay: Ah. Does it hurt that you betrayed them?
Theon: Well, yeah.
Ramsay: Does it HURT AS MUCH AS THIS?
Theon: ACK!

Tyrion: Well, Cersei could be very hurtful too.
Ramsay: Really? As hurtful as –
Tyrion: No no, I’m sure you’ll win this argument. A wise man knows when to shut up and drink.

Theon was not a Stark, but the Stark children more or less accepted him as a foster-brother. Robb, Sansa, and Bran all referred to Theon as a brother at various times in the series. Although Theon was fighting in support of his biological father (he should get points for his filial devotion) his actions negatively affected the family he’d grown up with. Not cool bro.

Tyrion was clearly going against his father’s wishes in occupying the Rock, in a move that was deliberately intended to weaken his surviving family members’ standing. Tyrion might try to put a positive spin on this.

Tyrion: I prefer to think of it as redeeming the family’s name from morally bankrupt and arguably insane family members. Well, certainly more morally bankrupt than me. No need to question my sanity, either. NO NEED. DON’T DO IT.

I assume that the playwrights in Braavos will be adding a new chapter to the scandalous tale of the Bloody Hand, detailing Tyrion’s newest treachery against his family.

Euron Fleet Casterly Rock 703 Season 7 A Queen's Justice


Theon: I know a way over those walls.
Tyrion: I know a way under those walls.

Both Theon and Tyrion, from their years of living in their respective castles, knew a weakness to exploit.

After ensuring that Winterfell would be undermanned, Theon knew exactly where his unsavory Ironborn could scale the walls under the cover of darkness.

Tyrion, as master of drains, had constructed a tunnel of love which was used in this instance for war. Hey, all’s fair.

It was as if both Theon and Tyrion had been raised to capture the places they’d grown up.


Theon: I hope my dad, the king of the Iron Islands, sends reinforcements to help me hold Winterfell. What am I worried about? Of course he will.

Tyrion: Hmmm. I hadn’t really thought about the pretender-king of the Iron Islands and his fleet. I hope he doesn’t find a way to cork this up. Oh, what am I worried about? He’s probably still trying to get some ships built.

Both Theon and Tyrion miscalculated in regards to the level of effort the Ironborn would exert in either supporting them or opposing them. In both cases, the besiegers who captured these legendary fortresses found themselves unprepared to hold their prizes for long. Theon was left with a castle and not enough men to realistically defend it. Tyrion’s proxy Grey Worm was left with a large force of men but no way to keep them fed.


Theon: Woohoo! I’ve captured Winterfell! This is the best!
Balon: Dammit, Theon. You had one job.
Robb: I know, right? It’s like when Uncle Edmure just had to pick a fight with Gregor Clegane’s men and drove the Mountain away from the trap I’d set.
Balon: May the Drowned God save me from family members. They’re worse than enemies.

Tyrion: When Grey Worm captures Casterly Rock, the war will be nearly won.
Jaime: You might be more correct than you realize, little brother. This war is nearly won.

In other circumstances, the capture of Winterfell and Casterly Rock would probably have been a bigger deal, but Theon and Tyrion overvalued the benefit of capturing these castles. Supporting Theon in Winterfell didn’t fit into Balon’s overall strategy (or else he would have sent reinforcements) and Jaime deliberately left Casterly Rock undermanned. Jaime was willing to sacrifice his home in exchange for the much more valuable real estate of Highgarden. In both cases, Theon and Tyrion’s forces were left having to choose whether to futilely stay put and hope to hold out, or to abandon their prize.

Casterly Rock Unsullied 703 Season 7 A Queen's Justice

Is there anything to be learned from this apparent similarity? There’s no guarantee that the fallout from Casterly Rock’s takeover will continue to parallel Theon’s disastrous outcome at Winterfell.

But let’s indulge in some speculation.

Winterfell was eventually retaken by northern forces when Theon’s crew mutinied, turning over their turncloak captain to the besiegers. But these northern forces happened to be from House Bolton, so Theon’s Ironborn were summarily flayed and Winterfell was torched. Ramsay Snow had no personal loyalty to the Starks, and destroying the symbol of Stark power opened the door for the House Bolton to rise up and nearly succeed in taking the North for themselves.

In short: the Stark ancestral seat was captured and then “liberated” by someone far, far worse. Could this happen to Casterly Rock and keep the comparison viable?

The Unsullied have taken Casterly Rock, but it’s not likely for them to remain. Jaime said as much to Lady Olenna: the occupiers can either stay in the Rock and starve, or abandon it and head inland since there’s no way to escape across the waters.

So who is in a position to liberate Casterly Rock? Well, that would be Euron and his Ironborn. Jaime, who seems to have plenty of prophetic exposition this season, already mentioned that the first Greyjoy rebellion attempted during Robert’s reign was kicked off with Euron attacking Lannisport, the city under the protective shadow of Casterly Rock.

In pulling his troops from the Lannisport area and leaving Casterly Rock essentially undefended as a honeypot to lure in the Targaryen troops, Jaime has left the region open for Euron to muscle in. If he so chooses.

701 - King's Landing - Euron 6.

Euron could choose to continue to play nice, just like Ramsay could have opted not to burn Winterfell, but the notorious pirate now seems to have a poker chip in this high-stakes game. Cersei already owes him for the gift he provided her. She’s implied that once the war is won she’ll be his bride, but I suspect that not even Euron can imagine Cersei honoring her bargain.

Salladhor Saan: And why should she? The only pirate she’s destined to be with is Salladhor Saan!
Me: Whoa, this is another deep cut to Season Two. Hey Salladhor. Where have you been?
Salladhor Saan: Salladhor Saan has been waiting for Stannis to pay him.
Me: Ah. Good luck with that.

Cersei might have a harder time double-crossing Euron without consequence if he can take control of Lannisport and Casterly Rock. Unlike the Unsullied, Euron would be able to bring  supplies from the nearby Iron Islands to his entrenched forces occupying Lannister soil, and bring in troops to harass anyone trying to besiege the Rock. It’s not like anyone has a fleet that can challenge him.

Cersei’s forces are currently enjoying some wins, but Euron might have some surprises of his own if he feels he can get a better bargain. Particularly if Cersei feels secure enough not to give Euron his due.

Daenerys: Whoa, what are you doing here?
Euron: Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve wanted to marry the most beautiful woman in the world.
Missandei: Captain Euron, I’m spoken for! And you have nothing I want or need. Literally.
Daenerys: Let’s assume he means me. Captain Euron, why on Eartheros would I agree to what you’re suggesting?
Euron: Well, I have ships that you could use (so it’s best that you not have your pets set them on fire FYI.) I can give you Casterly Rock and let you keep it this time. Admit it. You’re desperate.
Tyrion: Have I been drinking? I feel like I’m hallucinating.

Alright, I doubt things will play out exactly like that, but I assume a double-double-cross is on the horizon.

Rolling this back on topic, winning is certainly better than losing. Cersei and her allies appear to have the upper hand at the moment, especially in how prescient planning allowed them to lose Casterly Rock but pull off a winning move in regards to Highgarden.

But sometimes you winning is the necessary requirement for your enemies to win even bigger. Be careful of that middle ground.

Patrick Sponaugle
Pat's a husband, dad, and dog-walker (two dogs with seven legs between them.) He (hey people, is it weird that I'm using the 3rd person here, like Doctor Doom would? Don't answer) has written over 170 essays on Game of Thrones. For no real reason. Just likes opining about the show. (He's read the books. He's just looked at the pictures in the World of Ice and Fire though. It's so pretty!)


  1. Teaching the site which shall not be named how to produce quality content rather than click bait 🙂

  2. If the dragons are supposed to have human-level intelligence, I don’t get why Dany can’t send them to destroy Euron’s ships on their own, without risking her as a rider. Maybe when Dany had her own ships they were hard to tell apart, but now the dragons can hit Euron’s fleet without worrying that some might be friendly. But . . . that’s not what the plot needs, I guess.

  3. Violator,

    If memory serves me well the same (Spanish) castle was used for both Highgarden and Casterly Rock – when stills of it were shown on the site last year it looked pretty spectacular. I wonder if with the castle being something of a Spanish national treasure the film unit was limited with what it was allowed to do physically to the castle.

  4. Violator,

    They are family strongholds, not the seat of the seven kingdoms. We only got distance shots of them, and Casterly Rock still looked quite massive.

  5. Violator:
    Pity those castles were disappointing.

    I thought the Rock was fine. Don’t really know how they could have done better with it. It was a massive castle on a massive cliff. Not as impressive as in the books, but nothing ever could be. GRRM’s descriptions are just inadaptable without an absurd budget.

    Highgarden was a travesty though. Actually, both the castle that served as Casterly Rock and the one that served as Horn Hill would have been better versions of Highgarden than what we got.

    I don’t know why they made the seat of the Tarlys look so impressive if Highgarden was going to be a tenth of its size and pale by comparison.

  6. MoaKaka,

    I am glad I am not the only one with this question. At the very least, they should be patrolling the area around DS and should have seen Euron coming and going from KL.

    The show and books have both described dragons as highly intelligent. I mean, they know enough about dramatic irony to buzz Jon when he says, “I’m no Stark.” They should be better watchmen than this.

  7. Love this post and the connections you are making. It will be interesting now what Grey worm and Tyrion do. Hopefully at least one of these involves dragon fire!

  8. There’s so much plot armor in use now, that it’s hard to dig too deeply into the strategy at work.

    Sufficient probably to say: 1) Dany was looking for a way to take Cersei’s main army off the board with a surprise attack, and Tyrion’s knowledge of the castle made it a viable option; 2) Cersei is in a desperate situation, and gambled everything on her own surprise attack to both eliminate her greatest rival house in Westeros and grab the only reachable cache of money that could pay back the Iron Bank. Cersei’s move worked because the demands of the plot required it. Don’t think too much about the details. Athelstane

    But the victory is sure to be fleeting. Because the demands of the plot also require it. And Dany already has the military power to make it credible anyway, even with the Unsullied removed from the equation.

  9. MoaKaka:
    If the dragons are supposed to have human-level intelligence, I don’t get why Dany can’t send them to destroy Euron’s ships on their own, without risking her as a rider.Maybe when Dany had her own ships they were hard to tell apart, but now the dragons can hit Euron’s fleet without worrying that some might be friendly.But . . . that’s not what the plot needs, I guess.

    I think that might be asking a lot of the dragons. In the books, all of the dragons were used with some kind of supervision. It was a big deal during the Targaryen civil war to see if any of the many bastards of the Targaryens would be acceptable as a dragon rider, because they had more dragons than riders for a brief amount of time. If the Targaryens during that period could have given flying, patrolling, and burninating orders to their surplus dragons, they would have.

    Dany just knows that when her dragons are with her, she has some control, and when they’re on their own, they’re eating goats and children.

    I’m not saying that you’re wrong, but I have a more pessimistic viewpoint on the dragons’ ability to operate like that on their own.

  10. And as for those details: the show is forced to gloss over how big a loss Casterly Rock is, both economically and morally, and how readily the Unsullied could dig in there.

    1) Westeros is a feudal society. That means lieges give their loyalty in return for military protection from lords. The Lannisters effectively violated that pact with not only the inhabitants of their capital but the entire heartland of the Westerlands by pulling most of their army out. In real life, that would be a great blow that the seizure of the Reach could not fully compensate for.

    2) And that’s also because the Unsullied could extend their occupation of the Rock by impounding food from the surrounding area. Jaime could empty the larders at the Rock, but could he evacuate the entire region of people – and their food stores, too? A scorched earth strategy for the entire Westerlands (with winter at hand) really wouldn’t be viable without insurrection.

    But as I said, best not to think too deeply. Cersei just had to be plot armored enough to make Dany work a little for her victory. The course of the war is going to have to be very different in the books anyway.

  11. Not a bad read. (Wasn’t expecting another analysis/thoughts about last episode.)

    It also drives home the fact that not Cersei (and Jaime), but rather Euron has trumps in his sleeves at this point. And even Tycho Nestoris wisely noted that Euron is only loyal to Cersei for now.

  12. Great analysis – just great!
    However, I wonder what Missadei is going to do now when her lover is in trouble. There was plenty of foreshadowing that at some point the liberated slaves will start using their eyes instead of followig their liberator blindly and they might see that their Mhysa is a master uing them to get what she wants. They fought for her in Essos because they understood and shared the goal of that fight, but Westeros is a foreign country and they may become quite confused and unhappy, if asked to die for it. Missandei may develop a desire to sail to her beautiful island of Naat together with GreiWorm, instead of watching him freeze and die in this strange Westeros country, but I guess any rebellion/betrayal scenario requires Grey Worm getting into more trouble and that fits your guess about Euron “liberating” CR.

  13. I am loving the new series at WotW! And wow at the comparison between Theon and Tyrion! That hadn’t occurred to me yet. So many layers to the writing!
    It’s such a pity that Tyrion’s personal agenda got in the way of Daenerys’ bid to take KL. While Tyrion thought it was a big no-no to use foreign invaders to lay siege to KL, he had no problems using Unsullied to take over Casterly Rock. Now Daenerys has not only lost her Westerosi allies, but also her most loyal faction, the Unsullied, who are stuck far away.

  14. mau,

    Don’t you mean that book will never be written by GRRM? I think the books will be done eventually (more may even be added). It just may have to wait until George dies, gives up or contracts out to someone else. There’s no way this much money and recognition gets left on the table.

  15. Athelstane,

    Athelstane, I’m a fan of your comment, you’re on track on both counts.

    I’m willing to accept Jaime’s pragmatism in regards to the Rock, but you’re right about the feudal system and the obligations the gentry had with the commoners. Also the Unsullied’s ability to just take what they need from Lannisport and stock up for a possible siege. We might not know how many thousands of Unsullied were sent to take Casterly Rock… but some thousands is a lot of men. They’d be able to smash/grab and hold the castle at the same time.

  16. Kay,

    Kay, thank you! I am especially pleased that you liked the Theon/Tyrion comparisons. (I usually just compare Theon to Jon Snow.)

  17. Chuck:
    This was a great read, please keep it up. Thanks.

    Will do, Chuck. As long as Sue lets me submit feature articles to the website…

    I appreciate the compliment and encouragement!

  18. Inga,

    Inga, thank you for the feedback. I appreciate you considering what the freed slaves might be considering. They’ve been supporting the Khaleesi for awhile now, but at some point they might want to exercise more of the freedom she offered them in Essos.

    Thanks again!

  19. All will be fine for Dany, I think.
    The Lannisters will not trust Enron with the Highgarden gold, so they will have to take it back to KL by land. Iron Bank was re-introduced last week to stress the importance of the gold/money. They also said the gold had to be in KL.
    A caravan of soldiers and gold out in the open, crossing the country, is a sitting duck for Dothraki Calvary and dragons, and the Unsullied can come over and help out also.
    Imagine if Dany destroys the Lannister army and takes the gold. Cersei will be SOL.
    I imagine that Jon or Davis will provide this idea to a Dany, and its success will endear them to Dany.
    I also think a Dany has a mole. Team Cersri is way too on top of things. I think Varys is the leak. Maybe not loyal to a Cersei but selling information. Little finger the same in the North. Selling info or playing both sides.
    I think Jamie could even die in the wide open battle. That would fulfill the prophecy of a younger more beautiful Queen taking everything that Cersei holds dear.
    At least that’s how I would write it.

  20. Jaime said as much to Lady Olenna: the occupiers can either stay in the Rock and starve, or abandon it and head inland since there’s no way to escape across the waters.

    And if they head inland, they will forcibly denude the Lannister lands of food, right after Winter has come. Jaime’s father used this very same scorched-earth policy in the Riverlands during the War of the Five Kings. The Lannister vassals will then starve, making their loyalty to the Lannisters weak, at best, amongst any survivors.

    Jaime may have learned one tactical lesson from Robb Stark, but he failed to learn the larger strategic lesson from his own father.

  21. Wun Wun,

    It really looks like Varys might be playing his own game, but what if he is doing that simply to clear the way for Jon and equip him with dragons? Think of it: Varys should have known the truth about Jon’s parentage and that he was the true heir to the throne and the PTWP (from the flames). So, he kept Robert Baratheon on the throne as long as Jon came into age, because Robert was Ned’s best friend and that should have protected Jon even if the truth about his parentage came out. When Ned became Robert’s hand, Varys sort of stopped plotting for Viserys and Dany presumably hoping that Ned would pave the way to Jon himself (it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Robert would have proclaimed the son of his beloved Lyanna ar his heir after learning that he had no legitimate children of his own). When Ned ran into trouble and found himself in the cell, Varys did his best to send him to the Wall to live with his bastard – basically he was the only one who kept that bastard in mind.
    As for Dany, IMO her role was to hatch dragons and bring foreign hordes to Westeros, so Jon could become the best alternative for the realm and ascend to the throne without getting his hands dirty.
    Now, let’s check the recent events: Varys tries to keep Jon out of Dany’s focus, while Dany deals with Cersei, but Melisandre wrecks his plans and Dany summons Jon to bend the knee. How to make her more cooperative? Wreck her conquest plans (decapitating Dorne and the Reach on the way is a collateral gain, especially considering that this gives the rise to Tarlies and Sam Tarly is Jon’s best friend). Threfore, Varys may be pretty interested in Dany losing her southern allies and some of her forces to give more weight to Jon.
    IMO, Varys sort of revealed his expectations in his conversation with Mel: when she said that she had parted with the KITN on bad terms, he adwised her never to come back to Westeros, which imples that he expect Jon and not Dany to become the ultimate winner of the Game of Thrones. Dany exepted Mel very well, so if Varys expected Dany to win, there would have been no reason to tell Mel that she wouldn’t be safe in Westeros.

  22. I notice that there are quite a few comments as the series rumbles along , how wise Tyrion is always tempering and putting some sense into silly Dany’s crazy schemes, but he has buggered up a bit this time hasn’t he?

  23. Well, Tyrion’s consistently against violence on civilians and collateral damages. Like Barristan before him. Sadly for both, it just isn’t easy. And Tyrion is finding out the hard way that his political acumen is nothing compared to a true general’s war strategy, because they are at war.


    That is very deep, sorta ridiculous… But (yeah, Ned’s wisdom applies), Littlefinger’s long game was similarly crazy when it was finally revealed. Given Varys and Littlefinger were always portrayed as the two schemers and plotters, it would make sense that Varys had a similarly grandiose plan all along.

  24. Euron was just a better naval strategist than Yara. Jaime & Tarly out smarted Tyrion and Olenna. Jaime knew Tyrion would go for Casterly Rock, so leaving a skeleton force to defend it was a win, win. Olenna didn’t bank on all the other lords of the Reach turning on her. Also I don’t think Cersei is responsible for these battle plans.

    Tyrion has under-estimated Euron for being a genius at sea and Jaime’s anticipation of his moves., common mistakes to make I’m sure.

    I don’t think Tyrion or Dany will make those mistakes again though!

  25. Athelstane,

    And it’s interesting that Jaime noted that his success was a result of the lesson he learnt from Robb Stark at Whispering Wood.

    But there’s another lesson that he should have learnt from Robb also. That if you take your armies off to fight, leaving your lands and people undefended, then they will hold it against you should they suffer in your absence.

    Jaime is no doubt banking on the Unsullied not being the raping and pillaging type, especially with Tyrion devising the strategies.

    But Robb underestimated the vulnerability of The North and look what happened.

    If the Lannister army gets bogged down fighting elsewhere in Westeros, like Robb’s army did, and they’re unable to recover Casterly Rock and the Westerlands in a timely fashion then it leaves them open to revolt.

  26. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man:

    If the Lannister army gets bogged down fighting elsewhere in Westeros, like Robb’s army did, and they’re unable to recover Casterly Rock and the Westerlands in a timely fashion then it leaves them open to revolt.

    Logic does not always prevail on the show, but, the Unsullied should just leave the Rock.
    They are highly trained army and can live off the land , no raping off course, but possibly by commandeering what they need.
    The show has painted them as a force one would not want to deal with, on the page the Unsullied are, one is worth 16 Dothraki! They should be able to waltz their way through Westernos.

  27. Patrick Sponaugle: Dany just knows that when her dragons are with her, she has some control, and when they’re on their own, they’re eating goats and children.

    I’ve always thought GRRM implied the dragons and their riders developed an intrinsic bond that enabled communication and action through simple intent when the rider is on board. I wonder if they will ever show a bonding process (streamlined) between R or V and another? From what was implied in TP&tQ, it’s not a simple process being accepted by a dragon.

    (I wonder if D, R or V are fertile?)

    I’m still annoyed by the lack of air force recon and even more annoyed by the way they explained the “danger” of doing recon with Dany at the Helm. Like Cersei said, “You win or you die….” If Dany can’t be a dragon, what’s the point?

    Casterly Rock’s fall is a strong echo of Theon’s successful capture of Winterfell, which he felt was a major coup but turned out to be a victory not worth having.

    Enjoyed that observation. Expected result for a ridiculous plan (with or without recon). Will the Unsullied remain there or will they make their way east in a land they do not know with no local advisors to rejoin the fray?

  28. Ramsay’s 20th Good Man,

    You make a good point, but considering the situation in the beginning of the season their strategy has certainly improved the position of the Lannisters. Before these victories, they already faced a revolt. Now they have a fighting chance.

    When it comes down to it in the long run of course Cersei is going to destroy Westeros and Jaime would be seriously deluding himself to think otherwise. In fact we know he knows better given their conversation in the first episode “What Dynasty!?!? Our children are dead!” What I’m getting to is that middle term is honestly the best that they can hope for anyway so from Jaime’s perspective that’s a win compared to being instantly BBQ’d.

  29. If you think a bit deeply:

    1- Unless Cersei has a mole, sending the iron fleet to the Rock makes no sense. Dany could have attacked King’s Landing with her fleet unchallenged.

    2- Same as above, sending the Lannister’s troops to the Reach would have left KL unprotected.

    3- If Jaime would have left more troops in the Rock the unsullied could have been crushed and exterminated between the iron fleet and the fortress. And to defend a strong fortress a few men are enough.

    4- The Unsullied can easily hold the Rock and send a force to pillage nearby villages, farms, holds, etc. The Lannisters could have emptied the Rock of supplies but can’t evacuate the entire population of the West Lands.

    5- Euron apparently has an invisibility spell for his fleet that only breaks when he attacks.

    6- Even if the Reach had no army, the castle could be defended indefinitely. Specially since winter is coming and they have the warehouses full.

    7- Jon going himself to see an stranger, that demands that he bends the knee, with the intention of refusing it is suicidal.

  30. Hodors Bastard,

    The books never mention any such bonding. The books heavily imply that magical horns are needed to bind a dragon to the will of the master of the person who blows the horn (said blower dies). Dany flies Drogon in the books, but it’s very clear that he goes where he pleases.


    You can’t use too much logic or strategic thinking anymore! It’ll only upset you. We need to try to just ride the wave and enjoy the experience. It’s tough, I know. I’m pulling my hair out, but at least we’ll get some semblance of an ending.

  31. WallyFrench: The books never mention any such bonding.

    I disagree strongly. Although GRRM made the actual bonding process ambiguous, the rider and dragon have a magical bond (including intrinsic homing beacons and communication) once the taming/acceptance process completes. At the same time, I think the magical horn bonding idea is ridiculous and is more likely to cause the dragon to go into berserker mode. Furthermore, I believe the “bonding” that Drogon (and R&V) shares with Dany is quite different from other bonds in the past because she is their mother. But there is most definitely a bond between rider and dragon…and a dragon that lives a full life can have multiple bonds, but is quite vulnerable upon a rider’s death.

    I believe GRRM intentionally made the bonding between Starks and direwolves similar to Targs and dragons. It’s much more interesting than some random shit, imho.

  32. Hodors Bastard,

    Show me where in the books they allude to this bonding between dragon and person. The only thing I see is once the dragons are fully grown they become wild, and even Dany can not force Drogon while riding him to go where she wants. Read her last chapter in DwD for proof.

    While I agree that the horn thing is convenient storytelling, GRRM has it spelled out pretty clearly in DwD.

    I actually just completed my 3rd read through of ASoIaF today, so those particular bits of information are very clear in my mind.

  33. WallyFrench: Show me where in the books they allude to this bonding between dragon and person. The only thing I see is once the dragons are fully grown they become wild, and even Dany can not force Drogon while riding him to go where she wants. Read her last chapter in DwD for proof.

    Who said anything about ASoI&F? The dragon taming and bonding descriptions take place in TP&tQ and TRP. I never implied they bond like pets but there is an implied connection between rider and dragon once the acceptance/taming process is complete. Of course Dany and Drogon (mother/child bond) is haywire in ADwD…he’s a rebellious teen and she is still trying to figure herself out. Drogon seems to actually serve as a metaphor, in a way, for her Targ/identity maturation. Dany doesn’t have a mentor to teach her the skills necessary to fully bond with her dragon, but that’s what makes her situation unique.

    Please read TP&tQ and choose your side on this topic (you seemingly already have). Each taming process is fraught with danger and sudden death, but the bonding is there afterwards. Unfortunately, the damn thing (TP&tQ) is written from a skeptical maester’s PoV. As with many topics in this universe, it leaves the details open to debate.

  34. MoaKaka,

    That’s a very good point, I was thinking the same thing myself, some Maesters even said that Dragons could be more intelligent than men. The only conclusion I could think of is that the Dragons could lack the self discipline that Dany can provide, if she were to fully unleash them without her supervision she really would be queen of the ashes. During the battle of Mereen she had to reigh them in so that they wouldn’t destroy the former masters fleet in it’s entirety, if it were left up to the dragons the whole fleet would have been destroyed, I would just assume that she want’s to limit the collateral damage.

  35. WallyFrench: “TP&tQ and TRP” are?

    Oh? Well, my apologies…my assumptions from other posts and sites have gotten the best of me! “The Princess and the Queen” and “The Rogue Prince” are Targ side stories by GRRM related to the infamous “Dance of the Dragons” war of succession from 129AC to 131AC (current date is around 300AC). There is also a brief mention in the World book and on other “history sites” but nothing explicit that will prove either “bonding” bias, unfortunately, which I believe is what you are seeking. I’ll just leave it as an open-ended debate.

  36. Malena:
    I really liked this piece. Fun and enlightening.

    That’s so great of you to say, Malena! Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  37. What an insightful (and witty and funny) analysis. WotW are really giving us great content during this on-season. I love these analysis pieces after we’ve had a few days to digest the episode.

    I love the point of the “liberators” being worse than the original aggressive occupiers. Not sure the show will go that way but it’s an interesting thought.

  38. talvikorppi,

    I’m blushing! Thank you for the compliment. I’d rather be funny than right, anytime. Thank you for reading the post and leaving a comment!

  39. Patrick Sponaugle,

    I’m a little late to this article but also wanted to express my gratitude and praise, a great and very enjoyable read!

    My only disagreement is that I hope Greyworm dies, Dany needs a real casualty in this war in my view and someone loyal and close to her like Greyworm makes sense. Also I’m really not sure how the Unsullied are supposed to fight their way out given they have no food, out numbered and are deep in enemy territory.

  40. Jon Snowed:
    Patrick Sponaugle,

    I’m a little late to this article but also wanted to express my gratitude and praise, a great and very enjoyable read!

    My only disagreement is that I hope Greyworm dies, Dany needs a real casualty in this war in my view and someone loyal and close to her like Greyworm makes sense.Also I’m really not sure how the Unsullied are supposed to fight their way out given they have no food, out numbered and are deep in enemy territory.


    Thanks for your comment, I’m sorry I didn’t come back to read it until now.

    Grey Worm didn’t end up being the close-to-home casualty for Dany as we know this season. In my opinion, since Grey Worm is the only Unsullied we know by name, I think he’ll be safe (the same way I think Tormund won’t die anytime soon since we need a known representative from the wildlings for narrative purposes.) Of course, the final season might call for Grey Worm’s death. But if we are introduced to some other Unsullied, either they are doomed, or Grey Worm is.

    Thanks again for the feedback!

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