GoT: Insights From "Valyria's Children" (The World Of Ice And Fire)
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).
This week's chapter is "Valyria's Children."
I think it would be safe to say, that after reading this chapter, two things helped Valyria take over Westeros:
Basically, after destroying Old Ghis, after defeating the Ghiscari for the fifth time, the Valyrian's decided to adopt Ghiscari methods of population control to ensure that a sixth uprising never happened (in other words, they enslaved most of the survivors).
And it wasn't only the need to subjugate the Ghiscari that motivated enslaving the survivors, it was also about finding disposable bodies (non-Valyrian bodies) to mine the ore-rich Fourteen Flames (fourteen mountains around the Peninsula where the Valyrian's lived).
Once the Valyrian's saw how well slavery helped them produce the steel and copper resources that they used for crafting armor, weapons, and also for mining the gold and silver they used to dominate world trade, they decided to conquer and subjugate through expansion. The more they expanded and conquered, the larger the need for minerals, the larger the need for more slaves, and the larger the need for more expansion.
Like is the case in most empire building, the slaves died in incalculable numbers (especially in the Valyrian mines).
The Free Cities
Oddly enough, what are now called "The Free Cities: rose out of this Valyrian expansion.
The paragraphs describing this are hard to decipher, even for a GRRM text, but I think what he is saying is that the Valyrian's built some of what are known as the Free Cities, while others (Qohor and Norvos) were built as the result of religious schisms (one can only assume among the Valyrian's?). Finally, some rose prior to Valyria's domination as trading colonies (Old Volantis, Lys, Pentos, Lorath) whose leaders, rich merchants, and nobles paid Valyria for the right to rule themselves (as long as they didn't anger The Freehold).
Braavos, however, has a different history. as it was founded by its slaves. A slaver fleet in the Jade Sea was mutinied by a slave revolt and decided, since they had nowhere to go, to start a city far away from the Valyrian's in a muddy and brackish corner of Essos. Apparently, the Braavosi were able to hide here, undetected, for centuries (which begs the question of how they remained economically viable). Eventually, they uncloaked but remained known as the "Secret City."
Interestingly enough, in our current political environment, all that unified the Braavosi was that, because of slavery, they all spoke Valyrian and also a commitment to never raise one of the hundreds and thousands of Gods that were worshiped by all of these formerly subjugated people over the others.
Fighting Against Valyrian Expansion
The vast majority of civilizations conquered by Valyria left no records had their records destroyed by "The Doom," or had their records transmuted into histories written by the winners (in this case winners with silver hair and purple eyes).
The Rhoynar, who ultimately were almost entirely wiped out by the Valyrian's, held out against domination for centuries (or the book suggests maybe even millennia). The Rhoynar raised many cities and mastered Iron working which allowed them to fight back more effectively.
Another grouping of peoples eventually knows as the "Kingdom of Sarnor" held out because they were separated from the Valyrian world by a great plain. Ultimately, this Kingdom was defeated by the Dothraki hordes and not by Valyrians.
The most comprehensive history of the Valyrian expansions was found in "The Fires of The Freehold" by Galendro, but twenty-seven scrolls are missing from the surviving copy.
It is believed that Valyrian Steel was forged using a combination of folding techniques and spellcraft that has been lost to modern Westeros (Qohor, the city of sorcerers in Essos, yes Daenerys visited here, thinks they still know the magics for creating Valyrian Steel)
It is suggested that perhaps thousands of Valyrian Steel blades exist in the entire world but only 227 remaining in the Seven Kingdoms. On the show and in the books, I believe the amount of Valyrian steel swords mentioned is under 15.
Remember, Valyrian Steel is one of only two ways known to kill White Walkers (the other is Dragonglass aka Obsidian).
We do know that the Children of the Forest were able to forge weapons of Dragonglass, but there are not many Children of the Forest left after the events of Season 6. Let us hope that Bran was able to retain that knowledge and Sam learns something good during his time studying at the Citadel.
Last time I talked about the "Rise of Valyria" 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.
How do you think Dragonglass and Valyrian steel will factor into the endgame on Game of Thrones?
How do you think the Free Cities will factor into the war for the Seven Kingdoms?
Let me know what you think, leave a comment!