So far we’ve gone over how the Last Greenseer is instigating a war between mankind and the Others to unite the many disparate factions of Westeros. But in order to defeat the Others and maintain sovereignty, the new monarchy needs power. And in trying to get power, Bloodraven’s plan met with resistance from the Maesters, leading to Robert’s Rebellion. Still baby Daenerys survived, and so everything is going to fall in line, someone needs to manipulate the Mother of Dragons.
SPOILER ALERT: Quaithe is working with Bloodraven to get Daenerys to Westeros, to marry and join with Jon Snow, and defeat the others.
Pa pa pa pa, pa pa pa pa… pa pa, da da da da, da da da da da…
Kids, by the Year of the False Spring, the Targaryen royal family had been manipulated by the Three Eyed Crow into birthing a child that would dragons again. And in response, in order to prevent the return of dragons the Maesters orchestrated Robert’s Rebellion by creating an alliance of the great houses of Westeros. After the scandalous Tourney at Harrenhal and the subsequent “abduction” of Lyanna Stark by Rhaegar Targaryen, Brandon Stark goes and challenges the crown prince, and the Mad King has him and his father executed, officially instigating the rebellion. A conflict which saw to the end of the Targaryen dynasty in Westeros after 300 years. But that’s not the end of out story. It’s just the beginning.
Rhaegar never got that dragon he wanted. No, instead Rhaegar went off to college, and his little sister Daenerys got all 3 dragons when she hatched them on the Dothraki Sea. And Dany has been a phenomenon ever since. She has been part of Bloodraven’s plan (not to mention Varys and Illyrio’s plan) since even before she hatched dragons. Even before she brings dragons back into the world, there are prophecies about Daenerys. And afterwards, Dany is approached by the Shadowbinder Quaithe.
Running with the Shadowbinder
Who is Quaithe? Though it’s possible she is just some random Shadowbinder named Quaithe, given the blatant and repeated star imagery around her, she is probably Ashara Dayne or Shiera Seastar. The Targaryen Great Bastard and former lover of Brynden Rivers Shiera Seastar would make sense since Quaithe is a ‘star’ that ‘shows Dany the Way’ on the Dothraki ‘Sea’, and her own Lyseni mother was a rumored practitioner of sorcery. Ashara Dayne, younger sister of Ser Arthur Dayne (a rumored but unlikely mother of Jon Snow) is also possible given, Ashara’s apparent suicide which never turns up a body, her role in the Tourney at Harrenhal, and the star imagery of House Dayne of Starfall.
One big reason people believe it would be Shiera though, is the theory that Melisandre is the daughter of Shiera Seastar and Brynden Rivers. Essentially this theory goes that Melisandre is described just like Shiera Seastar:
Description of Shiera: “She was the greatest beauty of her age, a slender and elegant woman, slim of waist and full of breast… She had a heart-shaped face, full lips, and her mismatched eyes were strangely large and full of mischief; her rivals said she used them to melt men’s hearts.”
Description of Melisandre: “Slender she was, graceful, taller than most knights, with full breasts and narrow waist and a heart-shaped face. Men’s eyes that once found her did not quickly look away, not even a maester’s eyes. Many called her beautiful.”
Furthermore, Melisandre has red eyes, just like Bloodraven. And if she is an albino she could be glamouring her hair red. And even beyond that, Melisandre has a flashback where she was a child slave sold to the read temple named ‘Melony.’ It’s worth noting that house Blackwood has a tendency towards names beginning with ‘Mel,’ like with Melissa and Melantha Blackwood. And if her powers come from her Blackwood heritage, it would explain her abilities being strongest in the far North, and her ability to get charm Ghost so easily.
Although, if Melisandre is the daughter of Shiera, and Shiera is Quaithe, another shadowbinder of Asshai… then why would Shiera have sold her daughter into slavery and then remained in the same city as the daughter she abandoned? Does it really make sense for Shiera to sell her daughter into slavery and then live in the same city as her daughter, serving totally different ends and yet never reconnecting with her? wouldn’t it make more sense if Shiera died giving birth to Melony(Melisandre) much like her mother Serenei died giving birth to her? Which would lead to Shiera’s child being sold into slavery… In that case, it might make more sense for Quaithe to be Ashara, and Melisandre to be the daughter of Bloodraven and Shiera, and Shiera to be dead…
But regardless of exactly who she is, Quaithe is a Shadowbinder of Asshai who gives Daenerys advice (sound advice really), astral projecting herself using glass candles to advise Dany in Meereen. And based on what that advice, and the fact that she is giving it to Daenerys so purposefully, I think we actually have enough information to determine what Quaithe is working towards. And yes, this goes to Bloodraven. Quaithe is most likely working with Bloodraven.
DISCLAIMER 1: For the record, if is seems like I am saying that everything is traced back to Bloodraven, that’s only because in this essay I’m mainly writing about Bloodraven’s scheme. There are countless characters and factions who are not working with or for Bloodraven (the Varys conspiracy, the Littlefinger scheme, the Faceless Men, the Undying of Qarth, the Faith Militant, the Dornish, the Stone Men, etc. etc.), I’m just not writing about them… yet.
DISCLIAMER 2: I believe it is a huge misconception that people in ASOIAF, (particularly magical people), do things for no logical reason or understandable motivation. For example, the idea that Quaithe is just an oracle that gives Dany visions because she can, or even more illogically, “because she is on the side of fire.” This is perhaps (I predict) the most widespread nonsense in ASOIAF fandom. The idea that this story of complex human characters and real motivations can be explained as an abstract struggle between cold solid water and combustion, is an absurdity to me. Regardless of what your beliefs are on the existence of R’hllor or a Great Other, real human characters do things for real human reasons. I mean, the Others might be on the side of “ice” but this is probably in the sense that cold is what they are made up of, and is their natural habitat. But the idea that characters can be broken down into being on the side of fire or the side of ice, is dualistic over simplification of real political and human interests.
DISCLAIMER 3: I should note a few important things about Quaithe. Although people assume that because the birthplace of the faith of R’hllor is Asshai, and Quaithe is from Asshai, that Quaithe must be affiliated with the Red Priests. But in fact Quaithe doesn’t appear to be a religious extremist at all. In all of her dialogue, Quaithe never once mentions the Lord of Light or indicates that she is working with any of the Red Priests who are preparing to court Daenerys to champion their religion. This really makes it unlikely that she is a red priest, considering that none of the other priests of R’hllor in our story seem to go 10 seconds without mentioning the Lord of Light or the flames. The Red Priests of Asshai, like any religion are clearly trying to expand their faith, but Quaithe is unlikely to be part of that expansion.
Now that I’ve gotten that out, how about some Quaithe facts! What do we know about Quaithe?
- She appears not to be a Red Priest, religious extremist, or servant of R’hllor.
- She is not on the side of “fire” as an abstract concept.
“To go north, you must journey south, to reach the west you must go east.” – Quaithe (ADWD)
- She is giving Dany advise on how to ultimately go West, as well as North. Maybe northwest…
“Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.” – Quaithe (ADWD)
- She warns Dany of the coming ‘bloody flux‘, and the Others.
- She does not want Dany to trust the ‘Sun’s Son‘ Quentyn Martell or the ‘Mummer’s Dragon‘ Aegon (two potential Kings of Westeros if she joins them), the ‘lion‘ Tyrion or the ‘griffin‘ Jon Connington(two political actors bent on vengeance against the current Lannister regime), the ‘dark flame‘ Moqorro(apparently a red priest sent by High Priest in Volantis Benerro, but could be a warlock) or ‘kraken‘ Victarion(a brutish chump who also wants to marry her). So Quaithe doesn’t want Victarion, Quentyn, or Aegon to be King of Westeros alongside Daenerys, nor does she want JonCon, Tyrion, or Moqorro directing Dany and the might of her dragons.
- She wants Daenerys to beware of the perfumed seneschal, whoever that may be.
- She seemingly wants Dany to embrace her more absolutist, conqueror side, by going back to the Dothraki and her role as Khaleesi and Mother of Dragons.
- She is pushing Dany towards Westeros, but not as a part of Varys’ scheme or part of Doran’s.
“Last of the three seekers to depart was Quaithe the shadowbinder. From her Dany received only a warning.“Beware,”the woman in the red lacquer mask said.“Of whom?” “Of all. They shall come day and night to see the wonder that has been born again into theworld, and when they see they shall lust. For dragons are fire made flesh, and fire is power.”” – ACOK (Daenerys II)
- She warns Dany to leave Qarth, and from the beginning does not want Dany to trust the warlocks of Qarth, who wanted to hold Daenerys and her dragons captive at the House of the Undying to strengthen their own magic, yet Quaithe tells her to remember the Undying.
“A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness….mother of dragons, bride of fire” – Daenerys IV, ACOK
- She astral projects herself across long distances to communicate/send visions. So she is clearly using burning glass candles, as this is exactly what glass candles are described to do. They seemingly gain their power from dragons existing, as they stopped working over a hundred years ago, and are now working again, matching the dragon timeline.
The Quaithe Bloodraven Connection
Taking all that into account, I think Quaithe is likely working with Bloodraven, as they are benefiting one another. We can presume contact between them is possible as Bloodraven is able to see through the flames (as shown in Melisandre’s chapter), and Quaithe communicates through the flames of Glass Candles. Bloodraven was responsible for the prophecy which brought dragons back into the world, and thus dragons are a part of his plan. Yet Dany is all the way in Essos, and the Old Gods do not have power where there are no Weirwoods. So Quaithe is a proxy to expand Bloodraven’s spy network beyond the lands where the Weirwoods grow. Quiathe doesn’t want Daenerys to join with Quentyn (Dorne) or Aegon, because Quaithe(based on asking Dany to remember the Undying) like Bloodraven(based on a lot of things) is backing Jon Snow, or a union between Dany and Jon. Hence why Quaithe steers her away from distractions and alternate suitors.
“A face took shape within the hearth. Stannis? she thought, for just a moment … but no, these were not his features. A wooden face, corpse white. Was this the enemy? A thousand red eyes floated in the rising flames. He sees me. Beside him, a boy with a wolf’s face threw back his head and howled. […] The wooden man she had glimpsed, though, and the boy with the wolf’s face … they were his servants, surely … his champions, as Stannis was hers.” – Melisandre (ADWD)
And why is who Dany marries so important? well aside from family name…
Who Daenerys marries is critical because she has dragons, and dragons are power incarnate, which makes her the ultimate marriage alliance. She is essentially the Queen in chess. Whoever marries the Mother of Dragons gains the most significant military advantage there is, especially against the Others.
As we saw with the Long Night, foreign war against Westeros’ frosty neighbors to the North created a social bottleneck effect, which strengthened House Stark and consolidated power throughout Seven Kingdoms. And as we saw with the last 300 years of Targaryen history, a central monarch with a monopoly on the use of force through dragons served to stabilize the continent far more so than the lack thereof. Therefore, Daenerys’ dragons are essential to the creation and stability of the world Bloodraven wants to build. Every piece of advice Quaithe is giving Daenerys, is pushing her towards fulfilling that end.
“Trust None of them”
We should take a quick aside here and talk about why Quaithe warned against Tyrion, because obviously Tyrion is important. Essentially it’s because at this point Tyrion is Varys’ man, and part of Varys’ plot. Now I’m not going to write about Varys’ plot because it’s essentially a different essay. Now in the show Varys is backing Daenerys, but in short, in the books Varys and Illyrio are clearly working to put Aegon on the throne, and Dany and Viserys were always accessories to that plan, but now that Dany has dragons they want Dany on Aegon’s side, because she is an obvious military advantage. So Quaithe obviously is going to warn Dany against anyone in Varys circle, including Tyrion.
But Tyrion is a bit of a wildcard. When he actually reaches Young Aegon he delays the meeting between Daenerys and Aegon, pushing Aegon to go to war without dragons, seemingly sabotaging Varys and Illyrio’s plan (for more on the Varys Illyrio conspiracy, BryndenBFish has an essay). Still, though not necessarily the case in the show, Tyrion’s primary concern (seemingly taking after his old man) seems to be the absolute annihilation of those who crossed him, and Daenerys and her dragons are likely a powerful tool to that end. Will Tyrion’s council be in her best interest? and more importantly, does it appear to be in the best interest of Bloodraven’s plan? In the books it’s rather unlikely, so warning Dany against Tyrion seemed to make sense for Quaithe.
The fact that Quaithe warns Dany against all potential suitors and advisors, but does not warn Dany against Jon Snow, is telling. Quaithe even tells Daenerys to remember the visions of the House of the Undying, which during the “Bride of Fire” segment, associated Jon; the blue flower growing from a chink in a wall of ice, with sweetness, and seemed to indicate that Dany must marry Jon Snow. Because I expect Jon is a part of Bloodraven’s plan, this indicates that Quaithe and Bloodraven are both backing Dany to bring her dragons to Westeros, marry and ally with Jon Snow, and inevitably take the throne and defeat the Others.
“Remember who you are, Daenerys, … The dragons know. Do you?” – Quaithe (ADWD, Daenerys X)
Dragons plant no trees. Remember that. Remember who you are, what you were made to be. Remember your words. “Fire and Blood,” Daenerys told the swaying grass. (ADWD Daenerys X)
And over the course of her character arc, Dany has very evidently come to take Quaithe’s warnings, and visions in general, very seriously, moving from being skeptical to deciding to follow her idea of what those prophecies mean, particularly in her last ADWD chapter. (If you want to read more on Daenerys and her relationship to prophecy, check out this essay by BryndenBFish). Despite all warnings against trusting in sorcery by the superstitious Dothraki, Dany wants very much to take back her homeland, and she is actively trying to place events which happen to her according to what Quaithe has told her. Which begs the question, was Quaithe giving prophecies, making predictions, or giving instructions? I think it’s a bit of all of them, and in any case the result is the same.
“Her silver was trotting through the grass, to a darkling stream beneath a sea of stars. A corpse stood at the prow of a ship, eyes bright in his dead face, grey lips smiling sadly. A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness. . . . mother of dragons, bride of fire. . .” – Vision at the House of the Undying, ACOK Daenerys IV
I won’t really get into the prospect of Dany briefly marrying or joining up with Euron Greyjoy, if that indeed is supposed to be Euron, but the Kraken wedding the Dragon is mentioned by the Euron. Do Quaithe and Bloodraven want her to marry this mad man at all, or is she being warned against him? I’m skeptical of all of this, and so I welcome anyone to address that in the comments if they feel they have a strong idea for how this fits into everything. Due to his childhood accident, dialogue about flying, serving countless gods, and his personal sigil and title of “Crow’s Eye,” Euron is often theorized to have already been visited in his dreams by Bloodraven much like Bran, though whether they are still helping one another is questionable. And Euron is hell bent on marrying Daenerys, taking her dragons, producing an heir with her, and he seems to already be fighting her war before even meeting her. The most obvious way I could see this fitting into Bloodraven’s plan is that obviously Euron has ships to get her army across the narrow sea (though I have some difficulty believing that The Three Eyed Crow wants to bring the marauding Dothraki to Westeros to be citizens). Perhaps it’s also that Euron, essentially being a heretic, can get the Ironborn to abandon the old ways of the religion and the religion of the Drowned god (which is famously antagonistic to the old gods and the children of the forest), and also that when it comes to conquest, Euron Crow’s Eye is just plain brutal enough to get the job done. But Euron as King of Westeros? that would be ridiculous. Euron is no man’s notion of a King.
“Euron Greyjoy is no man’s notion of a king, if half of what Theon said of him was true.” – Robb Stark
Hence why Dany is subtly being prepared to marry Jon. Maybe Jon is Mr. Right, and Euron is at the very best Mr. Right Now, with ‘now’ presumably being in TWOW. Why marry Jon though? I’ll get into that in Part 7. But in a nutshell…
and that kids, is how Quaithe and Bloodraven manipulated your mother of dragons.
Which leaves the question; What about Aegon? Why not join with Aegon?
Well I’ll get into Aegon VI, and break down the infamous Three Heads of the Dragon, in part 6.