It’s no surprise that Martin is a cunning man. To plot such a devious and utterly, brutally realistic exposure of the best and worst of human nature is a mark of genius. Just as he understands how and why his characters will react in every situation, he also understands what the readers (and then watchers of the HBO adaptation) will do. Everybody is still going crazy over Daenerys going, well, crazy, but that is not the point. Martin tricked us on purpose. He manipulated us from the very first book in two key scenes.
Martin totally used human nature against us in Book One, A Game of Thrones. We played the game and we lost.
The very final paragraph of the book is glorious, grand and exhilarating: “As Daenerys Targaryen rose to her feet, her black hissed, pale smoke venting from its mouth and nostrils.
“The other two pulled away from her breasts and added their voices to the call, translucent wings unfolding and stirring the air, and for the first time in hundreds of years, the night came alive with the music of dragons.”
It’s heroic and we are ready to worship her, too. Hell, Martin even refers to the “music of dragons.”
It’s all a massive trap, especially when used with the way the book starts.
The prologue, before all the point of view chapters begin, sets up the great evil. It imprints on the reader what the whole story will be about. The image will stay with us throughout the entire saga.
NIght’s Watch members Ser Wayman Royce and Will are killed by the Others.
The final paragraph ends: “The right eye was open. It burned blue. It saw.
“The broken sword fell from nerveless fingers. Will closed his eyes to pray. Long, elegant hands brushed his cheek, then tightened around his throat. They were gloved in the finest moleskin and sticky with blood, yet the touch was icy cold.”
A Song of Ice and Fire is set up with a clear enemy and saviour, you think. You are wrong.
If the Others are the greatest threat to everyone and are linked to ice, surely the only hope must be something to do with fire?
Dany and her dragons must be the salvation. They are opposites, natural enemies. This is definitely true but we were wrong to think it means one must also be the salvation of humanity.
They are opposite sides of the same coin. Both pose a terrifying threat to humanity, freedom and life. Both fire and ice end life relentlessly, scouring it from the world. Nothing can stand in their path. Both are terrible, and if one is removed, the other becomes even more terrible.
Martin’s genius is he fed our need for an answer, a sense of good and bad, someone to hate and someone to cheers. He nudged us to believe the dragons were the answer.
Book 1 starts with the Others and ends with the music of dragons. It is an incredibly clever way to set us up into seeing everything in one way. This is the Song of Ice and Fire, but the real human story happens in between the two. With the birth of the dragons Martin has already removed Daenerys from ever being truly part of that.