Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Boiled Leather Audio Hour episode 22

Vendettas and Hypotheticals: The Consequences of Vengeance, plus a few “What If?”s (feat. Amin Javadi)

Don’t call it a comeback! Stefan Sasse & Sean T. Collins return with our first BLAH since June, and we’re bringing our chum Amin Javadi of the mighty A Podcast of Ice and Fire along for the ride. It’s basically two episodes in one: For the first half hour or so, we discuss my essay “Savoring the Taste?: On the Role of Revenge in A Song of Ice and Fire” from the expanded Collector’s Edition of Tower of the Hand: A Flight of Sorrows TotH's excellent collection of essays by various luminaries in the ASoIaF community. I argue that quests for revenge, no matter how horrendous the crime being avenged, are self-perpetuating engines of violence that have had awful consequences for these characters and their culture. Please note that the Collector's Edition — a print book, no less — is only on sale through the end of this Friday, November 1st, after which it will disappear forever. Buy it now and let’s talk!
In the back half of the ep, we get exquisitely nerdy and discuss various what-if scenarios, predicated on major events and decisions going a different way than they had before. What if Brandon Stark had escaped the wrath of the Mad King and lived to lead the North? What if Renly had sworn allegiance to Stannis and helped him in his quest for the Iron Throne rather than declaring himself king instead? What if the rebel lords who rose up against Joffrey following the deaths of Robert and Eddard had kept the king’s peace and traveled to King’s Landing to swear allegiance as requested? What if Ned had lived through his public confession and gone to the Wall as planned? I had an absolute blast teasing out the consequences of each of these divergences and hope you’ll enjoy it too. It’s good to be back!

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  1. This was a pleasure to listen to. I agree with you completely that the folly of vengeance is the main theme of the Dorne plotline. (In fact, I was thinking of writing an essay about it, but you beat me to it!) Doran *is* intellectually aware of the risks of war, but he fools himself into thinking that the dragons will allow him to achieve his vengeance without any cost. But when one lets slip the dogs of war -- as Doran does by releasing the Sand Snakes and Arianne -- one can't control the consequences. I think Doran would surely oppose the murder of Myrcella, but it's not up to him anymore -- it's up to people like the Sand Snakes and Jon Connington (who has vowed to "end the Usurper's line for good and all"). So we'll see moral horrors like Myrcella's murder, as well as the inevitable bloody cost on the people of Dorne once Dany arrives.

    However, the question of how Martin treats Manderly's vengeance is an interesting one. Probably the most common fan theory is that Stannis will win the Battle of Ice with Manderly's help, Davos will show up with Rickon, the Boltons will be deposed, and then we'll get into the Others and such. This a bit optimistic to me, but one can see how the possibility is set up. Do you expect this to happen? If it does happen, do you think your thesis is contradicted, as this would apparently be a pretty successful vengeance operation?

    1. I don't expect the fanboy-optimism to prevail, but I think Stannis will win the battle of the ice.
      By the way, please send me an email, I have a question for you.