The house with the red door in Braavos

@lovinhistorywithswords asked:

Hi Butterfly!  @racefortheironthrone pointed me your way for this question. Why do you think the “house with the red door” is in Braavos?  And where is it in the city?

Interesting question. The “house with the red door”, the house where Dany lived her earliest childhood, is in Braavos because that’s where Ser Willem Darry fled with the Targaryen children after their escape from Dragonstone. So the real question here is, why did Darry choose Braavos?

Per the map of the Narrow Sea, the Free City of Pentos looks a lot closer to Dragonstone than Braavos does, right? So why does it seem that Darry went out of his way?

Well, there’s more to it than just a simple glance at the map. The text of the book is illuminating:

She had been born on Dragonstone nine moons after their flight, while a raging summer storm threatened to rip the island fastness apart. They said that storm was terrible. The Targaryen fleet was smashed while it lay at anchor, and huge stone blocks were ripped from the parapets and sent hurtling into the wild waters of the narrow sea. Her mother had died birthing her, and for that her brother Viserys had never forgiven her.
She did not remember Dragonstone either. They had run again, just before the Usurper’s brother set sail with his new-built fleet. By then only Dragonstone itself, the ancient seat of their House, had remained of the Seven Kingdoms that had once been theirs. It would not remain for long. The garrison had been prepared to sell them to the Usurper, but one night Ser Willem Darry and four loyal men had broken into the nursery and stolen them both, along with her wet nurse, and set sail under cover of darkness for the safety of the Braavosian coast.

–AGOT, Daenerys I

So, first of all, we see that that Stannis’s fleet was coming up from Storm’s End. Willem Darry surely thought he couldn’t trust traveling south when a fleet that might intercept them was right there in the south. Secondly, we see that Darry’s ship didn’t land in Braavos itself, but the Braavosian Coastlands, which are a lot closer to Dragonstone, just about equidistant to Pentos. Thirdly, geography is much more complicated than what you see on the map – it involves weather as well:

The storms that blow up the narrow sea are infamous throughout the Seven Kingdoms, and in the Nine Free Cities as well. Though they may arise in any season, seafarers say that the worst of them come each autumn, forming in the warm waters of the Summer Sea south of the Stepstones, then roaring north across those bleak and stony islands.

The World of Ice and Fire

The prevailing winds in the Narrow Sea come from the south and blow north. There had just been a “raging summer storm” at Dragonstone, and the weather was probably still very unsettled. So, a small ship (with sails, not a galley with oars) traveling across the Narrow Sea would probably find it more difficult to go south-east – better to make use of the winds and go north-east instead, up to Braavosi territory.

And lastly, there’s politics. The spymaster Varys had come from Pentos, and Varys had just been pardoned by Robert and was now on his side. Willem Darry might not have been as politically astute as some, but he almost certainly believed that with Varys’s connections in Pentos, it wouldn’t be safe to take the Targaryen children there. (The fact that Dany and Viserys eventually ended up in Pentos… well, they had long since lost Darry’s guidance, since he had died years before.)

So, that’s why Braavos. As for where the house with the red door might be in the city:

That was when they lived in Braavos, in the big house with the red door. Dany had her own room there, with a lemon tree outside her window. After Ser Willem had died, the servants had stolen what little money they had left, and soon after they had been put out of the big house. Dany had cried when the red door closed behind them forever. 

–AGOT, Daenerys I

Trees did not grow on Braavos, save in the courts and gardens of the mighty.

–AFFC, Samwell III

This is not a contradiction (or some ~conspiracy~ that Dany’s beliefs about her childhood are a lie, as some crack theorists would have it). No, what it tells us is that this “big” house, with a lemon tree in its courtyard or garden, was in a neighborhood where the mighty of Braavos live.

Now, you can see the northeasternmost part of the city is where the Sealord’s Palace is, near the Purple Harbor where only Braavosi can dock. (It’s much nicer and cleaner and richer than the Ragman’s Harbor in the west.) The northeast of Braavos is also where the Iron Bank is located, and on the map there are many palaces and large houses with courtyards depicted in that area of the city. Also, we know that the Sealord was a witness to the secret betrothal contract between Viserys and Arianne Martell (arranged by Willem Darry and Oberyn Martell).

So I think it’s very likely that the house with the red door was located in the northeast of the city, probably not very far from the Sealord’s Palace. It might have been in some other wealthy neighborhood (near the palaces of the Prestayns or Antaryons maybe), but I’d still give odds on the northeast. But hopefully we’ll get an exact location of the house with the red door before the series is over, and then we can know for sure. :)

anonymous asked:

Who owns the languages in lotr? I think it was in the art of language invention you mentioned that you couldn't use it in the book. Do the publishers or lotr own them or what? I just assumed that they would be in the public domain by now

The legal status of any conlang—whether just created or created fifty years ago—is in limbo. No one knows the answer. The problem is Penguin told me I had to get permission from everyone whose conlangs I used, and I knew there was no chance in Hell I’d get permission from Tolkien’s estate, because I’ve heard nothing but bad things about them. They’re extremely litigious. And even if I end up being in the right, why would I bother expending the effort to include Tolkien’s languages when they weren’t even relevant?

(Yeah, AoLI reviewers complaining that there isn’t enough talk of Tolkien in my book, I see you. The book is about how to invent a language; it’s not a history book—or even a survey of conlangs. That’s like asking why there isn’t anything about the life and legacy of Les Paul in a book on how to play the guitar. lrn2read)