So, I did my spoiler-free review because I wanted to get out my general thoughts regarding the story but now I want to talk about the story itself.
One thing I’ve always enjoyed about The Song of Ice and Fire series has been that a lot has been left unsaid. For instance, there are some general unknowns about Jon’s parentage and various theories about it, is Stannis really the prophesized warrior or just a patsy. If there are supposed to be three heads of the Dragon, and Dany is one of them, then who are the other two? I know that my friends and I have have spent long hours arguing various ideas, plotting them out, and I’m glad that A Dance with Dragons doesn’t disappoint in this regard; it certainly gives some fodder for some theories and introduces a couple of new wrinkles. Below the jump are some of my favorite theories, how ADwDinfluenced them (or not).
First, let’s go with my favorite theories:
1. Melisandre is actually a bad guy – Yes, I know, she does a lot with fire and she wants to stand against the Others but her past methods struck me as being, well, evil (what with all the human sacrifice and all). We get to see a bit more of her from her perspective in this book and I’m willing to change my opinion of her slightly; yes, she’s willing to do evil shit but she’s not necessarily evil herself. Considering all her talk of her god being the god of light and that’s why the fire god is good, she still mentions about the shadows she’ll conjure into being and while she can argue with herself and others that shadows are products of light, that’s like arguing that using the dark side of the Force is ok because, in the end, it’s still the Force.
2. Melisandre is working for the god beyond the Wall and will blow the horn to bring down the Wall – Unless Melisandre is playing a long game, I’m now thinking this isn’t true. While there is some suspicion cast on whether or not she burned the real horn that has the power to wake the giants and bring down the Wall, she still burned what she thought was the right horn. So, unless that was just a ruse, I’m willing to let this theory go.
3. Jon Snow is a Targaryen, the product of Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark – This theory is still possible as this book really didn’t say much regarding his parentage.
4. Tyrion is actually a Targaryen, the product of Aerys having sex with his mother – This theory was supposedly denied on a post over at io9.com. There was mention in the book about how Aerys took advantage of Westeros’ own primae nocte (the idea that the liege lord gets to spend the night with any woman on the first night after she’s married) while at Casterly Rock for a wedding so it could still be possible that Tyrion is actually half Targaryen, it just wasn’t revealed in this book.
5. If #s 3 and 4 are true, then they are the heads of the dragon – Still remains to be seen.
6. Qyburn is making Gregor Clegane into an unstoppable zombie killing machine – True!
7. Dany is actually Azhor Ahai, not Stannis, and her sword of fire is her dragons – Unknown, although more skepticism was thrown on Stannis really being Azhor Ahai in this book. I’ve also heard it expressed that Jon is although he doesn’t fit any of the prophecy at all.
Now, some theories from ADwD:
1. Brienne of Tarth was killed by Zombie Catelyn and brought back to life, which is why she looks “ten years older” according to Jaime’s perception of her.
2. Jaime has, most likely, been taken into custody by Zombie Catelyn.
3. Prince Aegon really is Prince Aegon – If Illyrio and Varys have been playing the long game since Visyrs and Dany arrived in Pentos, what with the multi-layer plot of promising Viserys to Dorne and Dany to Khal Drogo, I could see them potentially smuggling his Aegon out of Westeros in order to keep him safe. The fact that baby Aegon was an unrecognizable mess, while his sister’s body was identifiable, helps this theory. Perhaps Varys and Illyrio meant for Aegon, Viserys, and Dany to be the three heads of the dragon?
4. Prince Aegon is a Targaryen, but not Rhaegar’s son – Prince Aegon could easily be the child of one of the Blackfyre pretenders that fled across the sea.
5. It takes a bit more than “a drop” of Targaryen blood to tame a dragon – Poor, poor (crispy) Quentyn. I don’t know whether you have to be a full Targaryen (as in the product of incest), just more than whatever Quentyn had, or not let a dragon get behind you but…yeah.
6. Jon isn’t going to die – I don’t see Jon dying. I see either Melisandre raising him from the dead with a kiss or the wildlings get to him in time and stop the assassination from finishing.
7. While not a theory, Stannis is very much alive – Why? Because Stannis was last in possession of Theon and Jeyne Poole and if Ramsey Bolton doesn’t have them, then he hasn’t encounter Stannis yet. There’s always the possibility that Stannis was attacked and they were killed and Theon and Jeyne made off in the confusion, but I don’t think this is likely; Stannis is too much of a main character to die off screen like that. Also consider the letter; there’s nothing in it that isn’t publicly known.
Regardless, the ending of the book bothered me. Why? Because it seemingly goes against Varys nature. Consider Varys pleading to Lord Stark to confess his treason and say that Joffrey was the true king? His reasoning was for the good of the realm. As Varys pointed out, Kevan was very close to getting things all settled and straightened up, and so if Varys wanted the realm to be safe then he wouldn’t have done what he did. Now, it does seem likely that Varys would prefer a Targaryen back on the throne, rather than a Baratheon or Lannister, considering his plotting with Illyrio. If that’s the case then it would make sense that Varys would want the kingdom to continue to be in disarray because then it would be easier for a Targaryen-led army to come back, kick ass, and take names. But if that’s true then why would he counsel Ned to do what he did in order to calm things down? *shakes head* I don’t know.