GoT: Insights From "The Rise Of Valyria" (The World Of Ice And Fire)

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The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones

So, George R. R. Martin and his helpers Elio M. Garcia Jr. and Linda Antonsson wrote a book called "The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and The Game Of Thrones."

The book is an attempt to give serious fans a glimpse into the history of the Westeros from the beginning of its recorded history up to where the books begin. It is certainly not an attempt to write a "World of Ice and Fire Review" more an attempt to write a "World of Ice and Fire Companion Guide."

As with most of GRRM's ASOIAF writings The World of Ice and Fire is very dense and detailed writing and I have learned that taking it a chunk at a time is pretty helpful.

So, that is what I am doing here, tackling each chapter of the book and seeing what insight I can share (if any).


The Rise of Valyria


So, despite all the goings on between the Children of the Forest and The First Men all over Westeros, the start of modern society actually happened in the land of Essos near Slaver's Bay. 

The genesis of modernity in Westeros was Old Ghis a city built and maintained by slaves. The founder of the city was Grazdan the Great who also came up with the idea of lockstep legions who fought using shields and spears in concert (think of the tactics used in the "Battle of the Bastards" or in the movie "300"). His lockstep legions colonized, subjugated, and enslaved the entire area. This created the first modern empire.

Unfortunately for what later became the "Wise Masters," right across from slavers bay was the beginnings of the Freehold of Valyria. Obviously, the only Valyrians that we know are Aegon, Daenerys, and Viserys but we certainly have been told a great deal about the history of the long rule of the Valyrians throughout ASOIAF and GoT (you can also get to know them a bit better by reading the companion book "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms").  

The Valyrian's were sheltered from the Masters by fourteen volcanic mountains (called the Fourteen Flames) as the Freehold grew. Originally, Valyrians did not have King's and all citizens had a voice in decision-making (It is not clear how and when this changed).

So, basically, because they had Dragons, the Valyrians beat the Ghiscari in all five of five wars that ultimately resulted in the subjugation of the Ghiscari. After the fifth war, in order to ensure there was not a sixth war, the Valyrians tore down Old Ghis, killed many of the Ghiscari, and all of their fields were salted 

Most of the people who remained were subjugated by the Valyrians and became part of the Valyrian empire.

Are Valyrians A Different Species?


The Maester's believe that Valyrians unique characteristics are the result of selective breeding or of inbreeding rather than evidence that they come from a different species. 

As everyone probably knows already, most Targaryen Kings married other members of their families.

Daddy, Where Do Drogon the Dragon's Come From?


Okay, so the Valyrians suggest that dragons come from the 14 Flames themselves (that dragons are literally the children of volcanoes).

In Qarth, they believe that dragons sprung like chicks from a second moon that cracked open. 

In Asshai they claim the dragons came from "The Shadow" a place where no history makes sense. They believe an ancient people delivered the Dragons to Valyria and showed the Valerians how to train them.

It seems unlikely, according to the book, that these ancient people would be able to train dragons yet not use them to preserve themselves while simultaneously gifting them to an entirely separate (and isolated) people.

No matter where dragons came from, nobody has ever been able to command them, so far, aside from Valyrians.

The book talks a bit of the remaining cities around Slavers Bay now. We have visited most of these cities in ASOIAF and GoT and I did not see much value added by this paragraph (could be wrong).

Wrapping Up


Last time I talked about the "Long Night" chapter.

As you may know, I do recaps of Game of Thrones. You can read my recaps of Game of Thrones Season 6 by reading "The complete #OPS guide to Season 6 of #GameofThrones"

You can also read my series on the "Top Ten Problems" that I had with Season 6 of Game of Thrones.