i may or may not have a new ship in my armada

My Year with Maas, a Reflection

At the start of this year I decided to read all of Sarah J. Maas’ books. From Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses all the way up to the most recent release of Empire of Storms. I picked them all up, read them cover to cover, and now, twelve months later, I have some thoughts.

I’ve been gestating on this for a while. Like, since September, a while. I had a niggling in my skull since the first chapter of EoS and it just snowballed from there. I’ve avoided the posts for some time, suppressed the urge, reigned in my ever present disgust, but I can’t do it anymore. Despite my enjoyment of her stories I really, really need to vent my issues with the books.

I’m coming at this not just as a fan of the series, but as another writer. My issues with the books are not just about the ships. Quite frankly, when it comes to Throne of Glass, I’ve only had one ship that I stood passionately behind and it had nothing to do with Celaena/Aelin.

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Euron Greyjoy As A Military Commander

Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire really want Euron to be an irresponsible commander whose only talent is surprise attacks. They so want this to be true that they justify their position with some pretty big oversights and misreadings, holding Euron responsible for military defeats during Balon’s Rebellion that, by any reasonable assessment, are the fault of others and then criticizing him in the current war for not doing things that the text clearly states he has done.

Sure, Euron burns the Lannisport fleet…but then what? Nothing, he refuses to capitalize on his advantage.

That wasn’t Euron’s decision to make. During Balon’s Rebellion the commander-in-chief of the rebel forces was “King” Balon Greyjoy, naturally. The commander of the Iron Fleet meanwhile was Lord Captain Victarion. It was under Victarion’s command that the Ironborn fleet were broken at Fair Isle, destroying all chance of the Rebellion succeeding. The commander of the failed, costly and wasteful assault on Seaguard was Balon’s oldest son Rodrik. Although Euron helped plan out the opening assault on Lannisport, he was not in command of the forces that carried it out; it was Victarion who tossed the first torch onto Lord Tywin’s flagship. Although he planned out the opening move, it appears that Euron was never actually given a significant command position during the Rebellion.

Why that is? Who’s to say. Perhaps Balon was uneasy about Euron, who was strange and menacing even back then. Maybe Balon judged Euron a loose cannon who was unlikely to follow orders. Or perhaps Balon did not wish to bolster the prestige of an ambitious and incredibly dangerous younger brother who could conceivably threaten his children:

Theon’s claim took precedence over those of his father’s three brothers, but the woman had touched on a sore point nonetheless. In the islands it was scarce unheard of for a strong, ambitious uncle to dispossess a weak nephew of his rights, and usually murder him in the bargain. (CoK Theon II)

Another possibility is that Euron just outright refused a command. Perhaps he felt the command Balon offered him was unworthy (consider the petty command a disapproving Balon gives Theon in CoK) and angrily rejected it. Or perhaps Euron sensed that the Rebellion was doomed and didn’t want to be tarred by the coming defeat and so assiduously avoided any position of real responsibility. Euron is very arrogant and temperamental, but he is also very calculating, so either’s possible.

Interestingly, there’s no mention of whether Euron fought in any of the major battles after Lannisport. He may not have fought in any. The Silence appears nowhere in Victarion, Aeron, or Rodrick’s recollections of Fair Isle, for instance. If he was at Fair Isle then he certainly wasn’t a commander as the defeat is solely ascribed to Victarion. Euron also wasn’t at Pyke nor any of the other islands that Robert captured, as he never bent the knee. It seems that at some point in the war Euron just sailed off and did some independent raiding. Then after the Rebellion was defeated Euron sailed back and began presenting himself as the great undefeated warrior:

Theon shifted his seat. “My uncle Euron has not been seen in the islands for close on two years. He may be dead.” If so, it might be for the best. Lord Balon’s eldest brother had never given up the Old Way, even for a day. (CoK Theon II)

“IRONMEN,” said Euron Greyjoy, “you have heard my horn. Now hear my words. I am Balon’s brother, Quellon’s eldest living son. Lord Vickon’s blood is in my veins, and the blood of the Old Kraken. Yet I have sailed farther than any of them. Only one living kraken has never known defeat. Only one has never bent his knee. Only one has sailed to Asshai by the Shadow, and seen wonders and terrors beyond imagining…” (FfC, Aeron II)

And this mystique helped him get the throne. So whether lucky or calculating, he wasn’t involved in the defeat.

He gets the Shield Islands, but does he try to break up Baelor Hightower before he can gather a fleet?

Yes he does. Euron tries to seize Oldtown by stealth while he has undisputed naval superiority and comes close to pulling it off:

“Only a fortnight ago some of those bloody bastards captured a Tyroshi merchantman in the straits. They killed her crew, donned their clothes, and used the dyes they found to color their whiskers half a hundred colors. Once inside the walls they meant to set the port ablaze and open a gate from within whilst we fought the fire. Might have worked, but they ran afoul of the Lady of the Tower, and her oarsmaster has a Tyroshi wife. When he saw all the green and purple beards he hailed them in the tongue of Tyrosh, and not one of them had the words to hail him back.” (FfC, Sam V)

If not for a bilingual oarsmaster with a Tyroshi wife, Oldtown might have fallen then and there. In the meantime the Hightowers are kept firmly on the defensive while they wait for reinforcements from Highgarden, Kings Landing, and possibly Lys.

Raid up the Mander to divert Garlan Tyrell?

Euron has his ships raid up the Mander in strength, seizes outlying islands, and even attacks the Arbor.

The news from the Reach seemed to grow more dire with every raven. The ironmen had not been content with their new rocks, it seemed. They were raiding up the Mander in strength, and had gone so far as to attack the Arbor and the smaller islands that surrounded it. (FfC, Cersei VIII)

These Mander raids may or may not be diverting the Tyrells, but they are happening.

Sure, in terms of attacking an enemy where they’re weak, he’s pretty good, but he never really arranges to manipulate his enemy to make them weak or move them out of position. How would he fare against an opponent willing to take him on? We never see it.

…he’s not using mobility, maneuver, and misdirection the way Robb Stark did. He launches aggressive attacks as a declaration of war against a weak enemy…and then we see nothing about how he concludes his campaign. Likely because he doesn’t care. He’s cavalier about his strategy because he’s going for the all-or-nothing gamble of dragons.

Euron in raiding the Reach is quite obviously hoping to lure the Redwyne Fleet into a battle on his terms, not unlike how Robb Stark tried to lure Tywin into a trap by ravaging the Westerlands:

“Reader,” [Nute the Barber] called out, “why is your face so long? Your misgivings were for nought. The day is ours, and ours the prize!”

Lord Rodrik’s mouth puckered. “These rocks, you mean? All four together wouldn’t make Harlaw. We have won some stones and trees and trinkets, and the enmity of House Tyrell.”

“The roses?” Nute laughed. “What rose can harm the krakens of the deep? We have taken their shields from them, and smashed them all to pieces. Who will protect them now?”

“Highgarden,” replied the Reader. “Soon enough all the power of the Reach will be marshaled against us, Barber, and then you may learn that some roses have steel thorns.”

Drumm nodded, one hand on the hilt of his Red Rain. “Lord Tarly bears the greatsword Heartsbane, forged of Valyrian steel, and he is always in Lord Tyrell’s van.”

Victarion’s hunger flared. “Let him come. I will take his sword for mine own, as your own forebear took Red Rain. Let them all come, and bring the Lannisters as well. A lion may be fierce enough on land, but at sea the kraken rules supreme.”

“Have no fear, Lord Captain,” said the Reader. “They will come. His Grace desires it. Why else would he have commanded us to let Hewett’s ravens fly?” (FfC, Victarion II)

His initial plans seems to have been to leave a defense/raiding force in the Shield Islands and meet the Redwyne Fleet in force further east, probably in the Stepstones (which the Ironborn are quite familiar with on account of their many reeving expeditions), before heading on to Slaver’s Bay and securing the dragons. Faced with the Readers objections and unrest among the captains, Euron made some alterations to the plan. He instead sends the Iron Fleet (one hundred vessel and ten thousand men) to Slaver’s Bay while keeping the rest of the armada (some nine hundred longships and twenty to thirty thousand men) in the Sunset Sea to await a decisive battle with the Redwyne Fleet.

These are hardly the moves of a commander who is cavalier about strategy.

7

 I’ve gotten numerous asks about this, so now it’s finally here:  A masterpost all about my animated show in development, “Seven Seas”!

The series follows Lucas Sarsgaard, son of the legendary Sebastian Sarsgaard, a pirate exiled in Lucas’ childhood. Five years after his father’s sentence, Lucas is still desperate to find him–and now may finally have his chance. Setting sail with his best friend Kyle Humboldt and mysterious rebel Armada Medina, the trio will face off against rivals, mythological beasts, and the heart of the sea itself…discovering through the journey what it really means to be a legend.

Thank you so much for you guys’ interest, and I especially want to thank @kerbabbles and @galladerocksgamer for their support as I was putting this post together!

All the details are under the cut–thanks for reading!!!

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