zahrina

What Zahrina a Yunkish slaver would wear, Anju Modi

Zahrina is present at the Yunkai slave market auction set up outside Meereen. She bids by usually adding “and one” to the last bidders price which annoys the slave auctioneers but they allow the bids. At the slave market, she attempts to purchase Tyrion Lannister, Penny, Pretty Pig and Crunch, but gives up the chase at three thousand, she later attempts to purchase Ser Jorah Mormont, but is outbid here as well by Yezzan zo Qaggaz

A Defense of Tyrion’s ADWD Storyline, Part 7: Well Trained For Your Amusement

Series so far here

And then all of a sudden, it’s a comedy. 

“And one,” said a crone in a violet tokar. The auctioneer gave her a sour look but did not disallow the bid.

“Eight hundred.”

“And fifty.”

“And one.”

“One thousand,” bid the grotesque fat man.

“And one.” The crone again.

“Thirteen hundred.”

“And one.” The crone.

“Who will give me one hundred?” cried the auctioneer.

That drew a bid at last, though it was only fifty silvers. The bidder was a thin man in a leather apron.

“And one,” said the crone in the violet tokar.

The overseer squinted at the auction block. “Him?” The bidding for Jorah Mormont had reached two hundred silvers.

“And one,” said the crone in the violet tokar.

Our heroes are at the mercy of the Wise Masters of Yunkai: the driving villains of the Meereenese Knot, the seething defenders of privilege looming outside Dany’s walls, threatening to kill her and her dragons and clap her people back in chains…and it turns out they’re a bunch of vain petty useless self-aggrandizing idiots! 

Most of the guests paid them no more mind than they did the other slaves…but one Yunkishman declared drunkenly that Yezzan should make the two dwarfs fuck, and another demanded to know how Tyrion had lost his nose. I shoved it up your wife’s cunt and she bit it off, he almost replied…but the storm had persuaded him that he did not want to die as yet, so instead he said, “It was cut off to punish me for insolence, lord.”

Then a lord in a blue tokar fringed with tiger’s eyes recalled that Tyrion had boasted of his skill at cyvasse on the auction block. “Let us put him to the test,” he said. A table and set of pieces was duly produced. A scant few moments later, the red-faced lord shoved the table over in fury, scattering the pieces across the carpets to the sound of Yunkish laughter.

The Yunkish suck. At everything. All the time. It’s great. It so beautifully undercuts their entire festering ideology, because that’s based on their ostensible supremacy, but I–just–

“Have the Yunkishmen chosen a new commander?”

“The council of masters has been unable to agree. Yezzan zo Qaggaz had the most support, but now he’s died as well. The Wise Masters are rotating the supreme command amongst themselves. Today our leader is the one your friends in the ranks dubbed the Drunken Conqueror. On the morrow, it will be Lord Wobblecheeks.”

“The Rabbit,” said Meris. “Wobblecheeks was yesterday.”

“I stand corrected, my sweetling. Our Yunkish friends were kind enough to provide us with a chart. I must strive to be more assiduous about consulting it.”

Other than every single thing Balon Greyjoy does, that may be the worst idea I have heard in the series so far. And the way the sellswords describe it made me laugh until my jaw hurt (the nicknames oh my god). Hell, the Yunkish lords barely even pulled off the march to Meereen, which, y’know, Bataan Death March that ain’t. And then they get there, and some get trampled at the Pit, and a lot more die horribly of disease, and the rest are going to have their blood spilled across the opening pages of TWOW by Barristan, Victarion, the Unsullied, the Windblown, the Second Sons…basically everybody is going to kill them all at once, and I cannot wait. (Ironborn reavers fighting Yunkish slavers! Whoever dies, hooray for humanity, and feed the corpses to the dragons! God, I love the Battle of Fire. It’s the gloriously cynical mushroom-cloud climax to Tyrion’s ADWD storyline: everyone in Essos killing each other while he watches and snarks.) 

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The Bloody Games of Meereen

Before I begin, I must confess the Meereenese plot was one of the stories that held the least amount of interest for me. I think one of the reasons is due of the multitude of new characters with foreign names. I also found it hard to understand the motives of some characters or where the plots were headed. And I think if we had answers to some questions like - (Who poisoned the locusts? Why? Who is the Harpy? Who must Dany fear in Meereen?) we would get a better understanding of Meereen. I plan to focus on one of these questions here.

Disclaimer: This is a viewpoint of mine. It could be partially right, or fully wrong for all I know.

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Ok so this will be ranty because this is something that truly baffles me: 

Every time I talk about how I find Jorah Mormont a shallow, poorly written, deeply boring character, a font of unpleasantness with no upshot, for me a source of naught but nausea and a desire to do anything but read on, several people tell me that Jorah goes through a period of self-reflection when he’s enslaved in ADWD, that he perceives the irony of being an enslaved slaver, that he increasingly gets what he’s done wrong in life but is repressing and compartmentalizing it. 

And this is just nowhere in the text. It’s pure headcanon, and of course there’s nothing wrong with that, but projecting it onto the page gives Jorah an arc that GRRM doesn’t bother to. Here is every appearance Jorah makes in ADWD after being enslaved: 

Two slavers dragged Jorah Mormont onto the block to take her place. The knight was naked but for a breechclout, his back raw from the whip, his face so swollen as to be almost unrecognizable. Chains bound his wrists and ankles. A little taste of the meal he cooked for me, Tyrion thought, yet he found that he could take no pleasure from the big knight’s miseries.

Even in chains, Mormont looked dangerous, a hulking brute with big, thick arms and slopedshoulders. All that coarse dark hair on his chest made him look more beast than man. Both his eyes were blackened, two dark pits in that grotesquely swollen face. Upon one cheek he bore a brand: a demon’s mask.

When the slavers had swarmed aboard the Selaesori Qhoran, Ser Jorah had met them with longsword in hand, slaying three before they overwhelmed him. Their shipmates would gladly have killed him, but the captain forbade it; a fighter was always worth good silver. So Mormont had been chained to an oar, beaten within an inch of his life, starved, and branded.

“Big and strong, this one,” the auctioneer declared. “Plenty of piss in him. He’ll give a good show in the fighting pits. Who will start me out at three hundred?”

No one would.

Mormont paid no mind to the mongrel crowd; his eyes were fixed beyond the siege lines, on the distant city with its ancient walls of many-colored brick.

Nurse returned with Jorah Mormont. Two of their master’s slave soldiers flung him into the back of the mule cart between the dwarfs. The knight did not struggle. All the fight went out of him when he heard that his queen had wed, Tyrion realized. One whispered word had done what fists and whips and clubs could not; it had broken him. I should have let the crone have him. He’s going to be as useful as nipples on a breastplate.

Ser Jorah Mormont looked at no one and nothing. He sat huddled, brooding in his chains. Tyrion looked at everything and everyone.

Jorah Mormont raised his head and stared at Nurse. Tyrion could see the tightness in his arms. He’s going to throttle him, and that will be the end for all of us. But the knight only grimaced, then turned to watch the bloody show.

Jorah Mormont accepted his collar in a sullen silence, but Penny began to cry as the armorer was fastening her own into place.

The knight had not adapted well to bondage. When called upon to play the bear and carry off the maiden fair, he had been sullen and uncooperative, shuffling lifelessly through his paces when he deigned to take part in their mummery at all. Though he had not attempted escape, nor offered violence to his captors, he would ignore their commands oft as not or reply with muttered curses. 

None of this had amused Nurse, who made his displeasure clear by confining Mormont in an iron cage and having him beaten every evening as the sun sank into Slaver’s Bay. The knight absorbed the beatings silently; the only sounds were the muttered curses of the slaves who beat him and the dull thuds of their clubs pounding against Ser Jorah’s bruised and battered flesh.

The man is a shell, Tyrion thought, the first time he saw the big knight beaten. I should have held my tongue and let Zahrina have him. It might have been a kinder fate than this.

Mormont emerged from the cramped confines of the cage bent and squinting, with both eyes blackened and his back crusty with dried blood. His face was so bruised and swollen that he hardly looked human. He was naked except for a breechclout, a filthy bit of yellow rag. “You’re to help them carry water,” Morgo told him.

Ser Jorah’s only reply was a sullen stare. Some men would sooner die free than live a slave, I suppose. 

He turned to Ser Jorah. “A few more beatings and you’ll be uglier than I am, Mormont. Tell me, is there any fight left in you?”

The big knight raised two blackened eyes and looked at him as he might look at a bug. “Enough to crack your neck, Imp.”

The bravo curled a lip, whilst the fellow with the quill chuckled at his insolence. But it was Jorah Mormont who supplied their names. “Inkpots is the company paymaster. The peacock calls himself Kasporio the Cunning, though Kasporio the Cunt would be more apt. A nasty piece of work.”

Mormont’s face might have been unrecognizable in its battered state, but his voice was unchanged. Kasporio gave him a startled look, whilst the wrinkles around Plumm’s eyes crinkled in amusement. “Jorah Mormont? Is that you? Less proud than when you scampered off, though. Must we still call you ser?

Ser Jorah’s swollen lips twisted into a grotesque grin. “Give me a sword and you can call me what you like, Ben.”

Kasporio edged backward. “You … she sent you away …”

“I came back. Call me a fool.”

A big knight stepped down from the back of a wagon, clad head to heel in company steel. His left greave did not match his right, his gorget was spotted with rust, his vambraces rich and ornate, inlaid with niello flowers. On his right hand was a gauntlet of lobstered steel, on his left a fingerless mitt of rusted mail. The nipples on his muscled breastplate had a pair of iron rings through them. His greathelm sported a ram’s horns, one of which was broken.

When he took it off, he revealed the battered face of Jorah Mormont.

He looks every inch a sellsword, and not at all like the half-broken thing we took from Yezzan’s cage, Tyrion reflected. His bruises had mostly faded by now, and the swelling in his face had largely subsided, so Mormont looked almost human once again … though only vaguely like himself. The demon’s mask the slavers had burned into his right cheek to mark him for a dangerous and disobedient slave would never leave him. Ser Jorah had never been what one might call a comely man. The brand had transformed his face into something frightening.

“Or dead dwarfs,” said Jorah Mormont. “We are all like to be feeding worms by the time this battle is done. The Yunkai’i have lost this war, though it may take them some time to know it. Meereen has an army of Unsullied infantry, the finest in the world. And Meereen has dragons. Three of them, once the queen returns. She will. She must. Our side consists of two score Yunkish lordlings, each with his own half-trained monkey men. Slaves on stilts, slaves in chains … they may have troops of blind men and palsied children too, I would not put it past them.”

So where’s this arc I keep hearing about? What, that his bruises faded? That he wants a sword? Where in all that is any hint that Jorah is self-reflecting, that he sees the irony, that he understands even at a subconscious level what a selfish brute he’s been? All Jorah does is sit, stare, absorb blows, and threaten to snap Tyrion’s neck (see why I call him boring?) That he’s thinking any of those things is, again, pure projection, and given what a thoroughly non-reflective person he was in the previous books, it’s a projection that makes zero sense to me. Tyrion has the arc in the quotes above, in terms of how he feels about Jorah. The bear himself stays the same “my pain is all that matters” asshole who doesn’t actually give a damn what Dany herself wants or thinks or needs. Sure, he’s a non-POV, but so are Stannis and Sandor, and GRRM has them explicitly, compellingly wrestle with their demons, fleshing out their characters, rendering them multi-dimensional human beings. 

Now though, as I’ve said, I’m not arguing that every character has to have an arc, but if you’re not going to give a character an arc, you need to give me another reason to keep reading (such as say, the pitch-black comedy of Victarion’s story), and to these eyes, Jorah’s got nothing. To each their own, of course, but I do think it’s telling that the most common defense of the character I hear isn’t actually rooted in the text.