tactical layout

bluestarsaber  asked:

So what's all this talk I hear about Astrid being a general about?

It is from a panel within the latest How to Train Your Dragon graphic novel, The Serpent’s Heir. In case you’re having challenges reading the panel in the graphic below, it says: “Some of you will step into new, bigger roles to ensure Berk’s continued growth and safety…” These are words from Hiccup paired with a panel of Astrid seeming to study the tactical layout of a map in front of her.

I imagine you may have seen this circulating the fandom already, but in case you haven’t, here (see link) is a gorgeous animation of “General Hofferson” by the talented Tarched!

Originally posted by tarched

hydeisjekyll  asked:

Which war you consider the most interesting to analyze? Almost every war under Targaryen's dynasty had a special significance in political terms. Birthright, bastardy, maintaining statu quo, tyranny. Which do you like the most and which was best "played"?

Alright, we’ve got plenty to discuss here. We’ve got so many big wars to discuss. There’s a lot of wars in Westerosi history, but as I see it, there are a few major wars, wars that we have enough information about to discuss at great length. Those are: Aegon’s War of Conquest, the Dance of the Dragons, the First Blackfyre Rebellion, and Robert’s Rebellion. The Third Blackfyre Rebellion appears to be shaping up to be another in-depth campaign that’s going to be a great one to explore and analyze, but my guess is that GRRM is saving the details of that war for Dunk and Egg. I’ll go through each war, highlighting what I like and don’t like about it, and what I think are the major themes. I’ll also include a big reading list at the end of the post for everyone to enjoy and explore Westerosi war in further depth. It’s by no means exhaustive, but it has a lot of fascinating material, including some I disagree with.

Aegon’s Conquest is a fascinating war, one that pits a grand dream against reality, and appears much like a traditional fantasy background war, with the Dornish defeat being the black mark on the ‘flawless’ hero’s record and forcing him to check his ambitions and settle for a compromised dream. There’s a lot of interesting battles, with the Last Storm being the battle that I count among my favorites. We get a good sense of the disposition and tactics of the war through its various theaters and we’ve got some memorable characters. If I had a criticism about the Conquest, it’s that the casualty counts for the Field of Fire are too low, especially for the Field of Fire. The tactical layout of the battle confuses me since Rhaenys and Visenya use fire lines to corral the battle and Lord Jon Mooton uses archers to pick off anyone who goes through the lines, but the Gardener-Lannister forces were able to break and rout Aegon’s advance, yet only a hundred died amongst Aegon’s forces? That doesn’t add up to me.

The Dance of the Dragons is next, and it’s my least favorite war to analyze. The greens are completely incompetent, able to only win Pyrrhic victories at best and losing easy battles for no clearly explained reason. The big political concepts in the war seem to be ambitious factions and whether the king had the right to contravene the wishes of the assembled political nobility and legal traditions by executive action. Like all of Martin’s works, the characters and their personal stories pervade the political, biggest example being the burning hate that Criston Cole has for Rhaenyra, but there’a ambition all around. This war is the war I see Martin’s anti-war message being played the strongest. He actually goes into detail in his interview with Rolling Stone:

“Was it really worth it to get rid of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, that we wiped out an entire generation, and tore up half the continent?“

This war seems to be asking: “what the hell were they all fighting for?” Were the atrocities, the loss of so many people, the burning of people and livelihoods, the extinction of dragons themselves, worth putting Aegon II or Rhaenyra on the throne? Some of the most promising members of their generation, like Addam of Hull and Daeron the Daring, died for factions promoting these two cruel, selfish, vain monarchs. The Queen Regent also had a nice tumblr answer on Rhaenyra and why she deserves to be listed among the worst of the Targaryen monarchs.

The First Blackfyre Rebellion is next, and that war was about the personal more than any other thing. All sorts of grudges and influences seem to boil down into one simple question: was Daeron II a rightful king? Warmongering and martial virtue, the role of nobility as military officer, wounds felt from Daeron I’s first War of Dornish Conquest, ambition, direction of the country, pro- and anti-Dornish sentiment, misogyny and attitudes on societal gender roles, all of it pushed people that should have been enemies into one of two camps, the Red or the Black. This war is particularly fascinating but we don’t know too much about it, except that the Blacks kept winning up until the very end. We get some really interesting characters in this as is typical for Martin, especially one of my personal favorites, Bittersteel (he’s destructive for Westeros, but incredibly fascinating).

Robert’s Rebellion is about tyranny, the rights of monarchs with respect to the nobility, and of proper execution of royal justice. Robert’s Rebellion is the closest thing we have, as I see it, to a ‘good’ war. The Mad King was a menace to his subjects and was deeply upsetting to the feudal order. The Queen Regent and I have spoken at length about Robert’s Rebellion as a war with deep governmental implications. As far as the tactical and analytical side of things, there’s more material on this war than any other, and we have the particular good fortune to get it from multiple sources, helping us sort out what is real versus what is not, given how much Martin loves the unreliable narrator in his tales. For sheer breadth and depth of information, I like this war the most. The Trident always seemed odd to me, though. How did Rhaegar have 40,000 troops when there were three royalist kingdoms (counting the Crownlands) as opposed to four rebel, and much of the Reach was occupied besieging Storm’s End and Doran Martell is explicitly noted to have held back support because of his innate caution and anger over how Rhaegar treated Elia?

Alright, so now that I’ve whetted your appetite for Westerosi war, here’s a list of some resources. This is work done by both myself and others.

Taking the Throne, by SomethingLikeALawyer, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire - This essay is one I wrote about Aegon’s Conquest. In it, you can find details on each theater of war, some musings on dragons as close air support, and the tactical strengths and weaknesses of each battle. I also have a section where I describe what each of the kingdoms could do differently, and the feasibility they have of conducting a war against Aegon.

The She-Dragons of the Dance, part 1 and part 2, by NFriel, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire - Bundling the Dance in an anthology called Dangerous Women was not a mistake. The ladies of the Dance of the Dragons were integral to the war for both factions, and NFriel takes us through their respective political strategies throughout the war, from Viserys’s death all the way to Rhaenyra’s flight from King’s Landing.

The Dance of the Dragons, the Greens and the Blacks, by Militant Penguin and SomethingLikeALawyer, Wars and Politics of Ice and Fire - Militant Penguin and I go into the campaign from each side, looking at strategic decisions and utilization of advantages on each side.

The Blacks and the Reds, part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4, by Steven Attewell, Race for the Iron Throne as a guest series for Tower of the Hand - This series is wonderful, a one-stop shop for all things Blackfyre related. Steven goes into each Blackfyre Rebellion, explains their motivation, gives theories on the course of the wars, and explains the greater socio-political issues that gave the Blackfyre cause so much staying power.

The Blackfyre Rebellions, part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4, by the History of Westeros Podcast duo, Aziz and Ashaya, with Steven Attewell guesting on parts 2, 3, and 4, and SomethingLikeALawyer guesting on part 4 - This in-depth podcast goes into the characters and the war, has discussion, offers two theories on how the First Blackfyre Rebellion was waged. There are more episodes planned, with a Bittersteel and Bloodraven episode to be produced shortly.

Better Men: Bias and Bastardry in the Blackfyre Rebellion, part 1 and part 2, by zaldrizer-sovesi, All Dragons Must Fly - This essay series goes in depth on bias and various stigmas and attitudes expressed in the First Blackfyre Rebellion, particularly the anti-Dornish racial attitudes, the anti-woman and pro-gender inequality attitudes, and the pro-martial, ableist, and anti-intellectual ideas of the blacks. I don’t necessarily agree with all that’s being written in there (if Daeron II had a physical disability, I’m sure the Blackfyre propagandists would have outright said it), but the negative attitudes toward the Dornish and a deep distrust of women being active in both council and leadership roles merit a close examination.

Daeron the Pretty Good, by SomethingLikeALawyer, Hand of the King - This was my piece on Daeron II, and the political actions he took both leading up to the war, during the war, and after the war was over. I go into the Blackfyre grievances, the moves that Daeron took to countermand them, and the peace that came after.

Robert’s Rebellion as a Just War, by Maidemoiselle Sansa, Icecream and Fireflies - This is a fascinating essay that examines Robert’s Rebellion under the justum bellum theory, with jus ad bellum, just in bello, and just post bello. It highlights where it aligns and where it falls short.

I also wrote a lengthy military analysis on Robert’s Rebellion in the Tower of the Hand E-Book, A Hymn For Spring, where I go into each of the battles and look at Robert’s political narrative throughout. It’s a lengthy essay, just a little shy of 11,000 words.

That barely scratches the service of great meta on so many of these historical wars. I encourage everyone to explore the interwebs and find more great essays on these subjects.

Thanks for the question, Hyde. I should probably say spoilers.

SomethingLikeALawyer, Hand of the King