Death Before Dishonor || Victory Tour of the 23rd Hunger Games

“In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign…. Secondly, a just cause…. Thirdly … a rightful intention.” -Thomas  Aquinas.

You would think it strange that I could sit for hours on end reading about wars of conquest, warriors and assassins and not bat an eye, but the thought of the Hunger Games sends a chill up my spine.

To fight for a common good is one thing: freedom, protection, rights, etc. But to force twenty-four children to slaughter one another for the entertainment of the wealthy is disgusting, a throwback to the gladiatorial battles of ancient Rome where crowds roared for the brutal deaths of enslaved persons. 

Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” 

What a time to be alive.

Keep reading


Visenya Targaryen, the elder sister-queen of Aegon the Conqueror. She was a fierce warrior, wielding the Valyrian sword Dark Sister. True to form, her dark, passionate temperament made her the more enigmatic queen. She rode the dragon Vhagar, with whom she fought alongside her siblings and their respective dragons—Aegon and his Balerion, Rhaenys and her Meraxes—at the Field of Fire, where all three unleashed their power to secure Targaryen victory. The Arryns of the Vale surrendered to her; their fleet burned at Gulltown, and their stronghold relinquished bloodlessly. Lords of Cracklaw Point bent the knee. Maegor I, otherwise known as Maegor the Cruel, was her son, the third Targaryen king of Westeros.


a song of ice and fire ladies + the war of conquest

Katie McGrath as Argella Durrandon, Katheryn Winnick as Visenya Targaryen, Rosamund Pike as Rhaenys Targaryen, Sarah Stern as Sharra Arryn, Charlotte Riley as Marla Sunderland, and Ila Arun as Meria Martell


The boy-king Ronnel Arryn and his mother Sharra Arryn, his Queen Regent, had ruled over the Kingdom of the Vale during the War of Conquest. Sharra was considered one of the most beautiful women of Westeros. When Aegon sought to conquer the Seven Kingdoms, she offered him her hand in marriage if he would declare Ronnel his heir. He refused, and in the battles that came after, Sharra stood firm. The Arryn fleet won against Targaryen ships at the Battle of Gulltown. In retaliation, Aegon sent his sister-wife Visenya. Riding Vhagar, her dragon, Visenya burned the Arryn fleet at anchor. Sharra refused to bend the knee. She amassed the strength of the Vale at the Bloody Gate, expecting an onslaught from the Targaryens. However, defeat was not in blood but in coercion: through the boy-king himself. With the army diverted from the Eyrie, Visenya flew Vhagar into the very heart of the stronghold. Sharra returned to her son sitting on Visenya’s lap, enchanted by the sight of Vhagar in the courtyard. Sharra bent the knee, and the Eyrie fell without a fight.

(with Rosamund Pike as Visenya Targaryen.)


Mariya Martell, the Princess of Dorne, was an old woman during the War of Conquest—called ”The Yellow Toad of Dorne” by Argilac Durrendon, the Storm King. When Aegon Targaryen came with his dragons, Mariya promised the might of Dorne if she would be delivered the fall of the House of Durrendon—sword and steed, bearing the sun and spear of her house—yet she refused to bend the knee. She offered only her allegiance, and no more. The Targaryens wanted absolute surrender. Rhaenys, Aegon’s sister-queen, led the invasion of Dorne. Masters of their land, the Dornishmen retaliated with petty skirmishes that plagued the Targaryen army, only to retreat, hide, and attack anew when they found the opportunity. Their enemies elusive, Rhaenys finally flew to Sunspear on her dragon Meraxes, and there demanded the princess’ surrender. She refused. Rhaenys promised to return, to destroy them with fire and blood. Unbowed, unbent, unbroken, said the princess, and since then Dorne had remained free and independent of the Iron Throne.

(with Lea Seydoux as Rhaenys Targaryen)

Visenya Targaryen was the older of King Aegon I Targaryen’s sisters-wives. During the War of Conquest, she rode her dragon, Vhagar, to battle.

Aegon’s eldest sister Visenya was a passionate, temperamental woman. She was both stern and sensual, with a dark and unforgiving side. Visenya was a warrior, more comfortable in ringmail than in silk. She was described as having a “harsh beauty” and was reputed to have dabbled in sorcery.  

Visenya wielded the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister. She is mainly remembered and respected as a strong, capable warrior, something few women are acknowledged as in Westerosi history.


Widely known as a tyrant, Harren Hoare or Harren the Black was King of the Riverlands and the Iron Isles during the War of Conquest. When Aegon invaded Westeros, the Riverlands were the first to be scorched by dragon fire. Harren saw the completion of Harrenhal, the greatest of the strongholds of Westeros, for which Weirwood trees were felled in order to be built. Confident in the strength of its walls, Harren was undeterred by the small Targaryen army and refused to bend the knee. Aegon destroyed Harrenhal with his dragon, burning Harren and his entire house within its walls. Aegon awarded the Iron Islands to House Greyjoy and the Riverlands to House Tully, and both swore fealty to the Iron Throne.

(with Simon Woods as Aegon Targaryen.)


Mern XI Gardener was the King of the Reach and the Lord of Highgarden during the War of Conquest. He defied Aegon the Conqueror, and allied himself with Loren Lannister, the King of the Rock, to face the invaders in open battle. The combined might of the Reach and the Rock defeated the Targaryen army, until Aegon and his sisters Rhaenys and Visenya unleashed their dragons in what has since been called the Field of Fire. Defeated, Loren Lannister bent the knee. Mern Gardener died, and his house died with him.

(with Simon Woods as Aegon Targaryen.)


Why Frederick was Great,

"A crown is merely a hat to let the rain in".

-Frederick the Great

Born Frederick II, Frederick seemed like the last person in the world to lead a conquering military.  In fact, in his younger years he seemed more interested in fine arts and music than war and combat. He even once tried to run away to avoid becoming King of Prussia. However, when Frederick took the Prussian throne in 1740, his reign would stun Europe and rightly earn him the title, “Frederick the Great”.

When Frederick came to power in 1740, Prussia was far from an empire, in fact it was a minor backwater in Eastern Germany and Western Poland.  Some of its territory wasn’t even contiguous with the rest of the country (see map above) as small plots of Prussian soil doted Germany.  Frederick sought to change all that.

While Frederick’s kingdom was nothing special, his army certainly was.  Prussia could not recruit mass armies like large empires such as Britain, France, or Russia.  The population of eligible conscripts in Prussia was small, so the Prussians built an army based on quality rather than quantity.  While small the Prussian Army was the best trained, most disciplined, best equipped, and most technologically advanced army in the world at the time.  More importantly the Prussian Army was led by some of the best military commanders and tacticians in Europe. In most of Europe placement as a military officer was based on wealth and inherited privilege. This resulted in massive and unwieldy armies led by incompetent buffoons. In contrast the Prussian Army chose its leaders based on merit, skill, and ability.  As a result the Prussian Army was led by a skilled officer corps, and commanded by brilliant generals who utilized audacious and revolutionary tactics.

In 1741 Frederick tricked Austrian Queen Maria Theresa to allow his armies to occupy Lower Silesia (now the Czech Republic) in exchange for protection from France, Spain and Bavaria. He then proceeded to invade key areas, forcing Maria Theresa to cede almost all of Silesia by 1745. The annexation of Silesia almost doubled his kingdom overnight, while more importantly enriching his kingdom as Silesia was an important mining and industrial region of Eastern Europe.  However, Maria Theresa was not going to simply let Prussia keep Silesia.

In 1756, Austria would seek to take back Silesia, invading the territory as a part of the larger Seven Years War (known as the French and Indian War in America).  However, Austria was not alone.  Allied with her was France, Russia, Sweden, Saxony, and other German states.  With enemies all around him it seemed that Frederick would be easily overrun.  In fact Prussia almost collapsed as result, but the superior Prussian Army was able to hold out against impossible odds.  Incredibly, under the direct leadership of the Frederick and the use of swift maneuvering  the Prussian Army was able to prevent the major armies of France, Sweden, and Austria from linking.  Unlike other monarchs, Frederick personally led his troops into battle.  In fact he had six horses shot out from under him during the Seven Years War.  One of his most famous tactics was the use of the “oblique order”, a strategy that involved attack a single flank on the enemy’s line.  If that flank gave, the whole army, no matter how large, would be sent running.

After a series of decisive victories, Frederick was able to fend off the Austrian Coalition and her allies.  When the dust settled Prussia had nearly doubled in size.  The Prussian victory shocked Europe.  A small unimportant German Empire had single handidly defeat the major empires of Europe simultaneously.   Frederick’s victory secured him and his military as the best of the best.

Along with military success and conquest, Frederick sought to modernize his kingdom.  He encouraged the development of new industry and new technologies, instituted important legal reforms, made Prussia’s education system the best in Europe, and instituted religious freedom.

Frederick the Great died in 1786 at the age of 74.  He left an incredible legacy in Europe and around the world, especially in military history.  In the end his reputation was that of a brilliant military leader and conqueror.  Even the great Napoleon Bonaparte looked up to Frederick the Great as the greatest tactician of all time.  More importantly Prussia would form a foundation for a modern German state, as Prussia would be key to German Unification in the mid 19th century.  The Prussian Army would hand down a legacy of military tradition and professionalism that would dominate Germany, lasting even until the end of World War II.  Indeed Frederick was very great.


The Padshahnama [ پا د شاه نا مہ‎ ]; Chronicle of the Emperor of the World, Mughal manuscript (1656 - 1657).

Ours is the Fury

It was a celebration of red and black that hung in the halls of Storm’s End, a feast to honor Aegon the Conqueror and his sister-wives. The air was thick with Targaryens, the smell of dragon smoke and victory. Three-headed dragon sigils had taken the place of the stags, as if the creatures had been devoured completely. Orys Baratheon was at her side as always, heating up the blood of the defeated Storm Queen into an internal tempest. He was smiling, laughing with Queen Rhaenys, and they were so close. If Argella had the courage, she could stab one of them. But the Targaryen king was ever watchful.

“When shall we expect a wedding?” Aegon asked Orys. It was the first time Argella had ever seen the man blush. “If I recall, you were quite taken with her when you saw her portrait. What’s been the delay?”

Orys’ shook his head, “It seemed too cruel. Her father-”

“Enough time has passed my friend, you have been very considerate. But it would serve you better to take her claim soon,” said Aegon. 

There was never enough wine for situations like these, but Argella tried her best to down as much as she could. Tears were already swimming in her eyes, her throat was catching. She turned a thunderous gaze towards her sovereign. “Your highness, I am unwell. Do forgive my departure,” she said and stormed out, almost knocking her chair over. The last that she saw of that glittering scene was Orys’ concerned face.

It was dark, cold, and blue as she raced almost sightlessly up the steps to the castle tower.  She climbed onto the large window and looked out at the night, the icy moon peered from the clouds above, and the heaving sea swirled below. The waves’ roars echoed serenely through her, as it had always did. When she was a child there had been no loss. Her father was there, the kingdom was there. Now Argella was merely a guest in her own home, forced to spend day after day with the man who had taken everything. It would have been easier if Orys treated her roughly, if he’d been cruel. She could hate him as much as she wanted and she’d try to kill him at every opportunity. There’d be nothing to live for, and she wouldn’t have to be so tormented by the kindness in his eyes.

She could end it all now if she wanted, finally alone with the ocean. The wind tugged at her gown, just one step into the air-


He had followed her. Argella turned to look, Orys had been running, eyes wide with panic.

“Don’t come any closer,” she said. He obeyed, hands raised and empty.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if we were married,” he said soothingly. “You’d still remain here, with everything you could possibly need. Nothing else will be taken from you again, Argella. You will be honored all your life with a family to comfort you.” 

Argella felt her hands loosen on the window frame, so she forced a laugh. “Those are the cunning words of a captor. Have you not shamed me twice over with your chivalry? You know what has been done to me. How can you, as a man, say such things?”

The sadness that came over Orys tasted bitter in Argella’s tongue. It wasn’t fair that he too could show such cloudy-eyed grief. “As a man, I would love you if you’d let me.”

It really was too much, Argella turned away to hide her tears. Those soft words were as sharp as a blade into her longing. She poised to jump when Orys’ arms hooked around her waist and dragged her backwards. Argella stumbled, held fast in his arms.

“Please,” she felt him beg, his face buried in her hair, “My brave, brave, Storm Queen, I would love you. I’ll treat you well, I’ll adopt your sigil. Ours is the Fury. Please.”

Argella tore herself away and looked at him. He was so beautiful in the dark. He was everything. She threw herself at Orys, meeting his startled lips with her hungry mouth. They kissed hard and deeply. She held him close, his arms slid around her waist. At long last, they came up for air and he wiped the tears off her cheeks. It was the second time their faces had been so near each other’s. The first had been when Orys threw his cloak around her naked body. He’d knelt before her trembling form and called her brave. He’d been so gentle. 

Orys kissed Argella again, so tenderly she could cry. Their breaths were filled with wine, the warm fragrance of its spices ran down both their throats. The kisses that followed pattered upon her lips as softly as rain. His thumb moved across her cheek, and Argella imagined that it left a streak of blood. She pushed Orys away.

“You killed my father. You stole my freedom. I cannot shame the House of Durrendon by marrying his killer. A bastard no less.”

“You can and you will,” came a voice from the entrance. “Had Argilac not dishonored one of the best men in Westeros, he would still be alive. This marriage was inevitable.” Aegon the Conquerer held his torch up at the couple. “It’s hardly good manners to abandon your guests, brother.”

“I was worried about her,” Orys said.

“That is your right. But if this so-called Storm Queen is as strong and noble as you have claimed, she will do what is best, and marry you without a fuss.” Aegon walked towards Argella. “Do not presume that your honor is any greater for being highborn. Orys is the finest man you will ever know, and if you dare insult this dragon for the means of his birth, I will have your tongue.”


“You don’t frighten me,” Argella said. “I will not be compelled into marriage, your highness. When I choose to wed Orys, it will be because I want him.”

The king glanced at this commander. “Do you want him?”

Argella looked down. “Yes.” It was barely audible, but it was enough to satisfy. Aegon nodded and moved to depart.

“I trust both of you will come down?” he said.

“Soon,” Orys replied. The firelight vanished down the stairs. With the light went the warmth they had felt in each other’s arms. The night felt darker, and both felt lonelier. The sound of the waves filled the tower.

Orys had not heard Argella’s reply, and his expression made her heart ache. “If I could, I’d bring your father back,” he said. “If it would make you smile.” He received no answer from the Storm Queen, so he took her hand and led her to the stairs. The moon watched them go, Argella looked back. The pure whiteness of it seemed an omen of hope. In the end she knew she really had no choice but marry to the bastard dragon. 

When he squeezed her hand, it squeezed her breath, making her blood quicken along. When they reached the foot of the stairs she squeezed his hand back. When those indigo eyes turned her way, she smiled. It was a small one, a half smile, all that she could give. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“Don’t be. It seems baseborn men have no place anywhere.” Orys was startled to find himself embraced, and was reluctant to allow himself hope by reciprocating. She smelled of wind and lightning, he of smoke and wine. He gave up his resistance, intoxicated. They stood together, half in light and shadows as the sky beyond began to rumble.