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Game of Thrones Watch: That’s What the Money’s For!

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Spoilers for last night’s Game of Thrones below:
“If I had a gold dragon for every time I heard that joke, I’d be richer than you are.”
“You are richer than I am.”
“Good point.”
Game of Thrones is not a perfect show, but one thing I love about it–as a fan of fantasy fiction since I was a kid–is that it has a level of ugly realism missing from much of the genre. Usually, when people talk about that “realism” in connection with this show, they mean the language, or the gore, or the flawed characters, or the boobs. All valid points. But “Walk of Punishment” foregrounded something else Game of Thrones has that fantasy doesn’t always:

Money.

I’m generalizing, obviously, and I don’t want to paint an entire genre, much of which I haven’t read or seen. Still, I’ve been re-reading Tolkien with my kids lately, and while there are troves of gold and plunder, there’s not much talk about the economy of the Shire, or how Denethor pays for the defense of Minas Tirith in a declining Gondor. The talk of money in Game of Thrones, on the other hand, reminds us of how much George R.R. Martin (who wrote the source books) owes to historical fiction.

In Game of Thrones, armies don’t just become amassed through leadership or conquest; they have to be financed. Fealty is purchased; so are ships and slaves and allies. From the first time we heard that “A Lannister always pays his debts,” we were told that in Game of Thrones, as in our world and our history, money is power. But money—as Jaime brutally learns at the episode’s stunning close—also has its limits.

(MORE: Game of Thrones Watch: Speak Softly and Carry a Big Crossbow)

Though it gets relatively little screen time, maybe the most tantalizing development in this episode comes as Tyrion gets a glimpse into the Iron Throne’s books. Tywin, the new Hand, has made him Master of Coin, an appointment clearly meant to be a demotion and an insult, and Tyrion takes it that way. But if there’s one thing Tyrion has shown us, it’s that power comes from less-than-obvious sources: books, history, persuasion.

And it definitely comes from money. Money, after all, is what helped the former Master of Coin, Littlefinger, move up dramatically in the world—the possession of money, from his whorehouse, and control of money, through his official post. Littlefinger endeared himself to the Throne–under Robert and then Joffrey–by making money appear to satisfy the king’s whims. The way he did it, Tyrion finds, was by racking up massive debts to a foreign power, the Iron Bank of Braavos. (Draw parallels to today’s news as you will.)

Because Westeros is a place where money matters, the debt matters as well. Swords are commanded there, but they are also sold–as Bronn reminded us recently–and that means, should the crown anger its creditor, they could be purchased against it.

The Lannisters seem to have an odd, old-money attitude toward money. It’s the basis of their family’s fame, and yet too much attention to the making and managing of it is uncouth, unseemly. Witness the derisive snort Cersei gives when Tyrion gets his new job, and Tywin’s snide remark that Master of Coin is the job “best suited” to Tyrion’s abilities. There’s the implication that counting pennies is the act of the weak, contemptible, and dishonest—as Tyrion says, a Lannister scion is someone who spends money, not manages it.

Yet Tyrion may again, as with the defense of King’s Landing, just identified another weakness of his ungrateful family–and again, he risks earning their contempt for doing it. This is another interesting thing about Game of Thrones’ outlook: many of its characters see ruling as being about glory, fear, and power, yet the show reminds us that keeping power depends on things the bards don’t make songs about–boring things like good governance and bookkeeping.

Across the sea, Dany’s story is also about the price of power, specifically haggling over its price. Having lost her country, and then most of her Dothraki army, she’s in the position of getting strength of arms by buying it, in the form of the Unsullied slaves. It’s a difficult decision, which Jorah complicates by making the argument that buying slaves is perversely the moral decision here: the Unsullied, as eunuchs, do not rape, and as near-automatons, they do not pillage.

(GRAPHIC: Game of Thrones : A Graphic Refresher)

In a way, it’s the kind of argument for the efficiency of ruthless market-based efficiency that Stringer Bell made in The Wire. Taking over the Barksdale gang, he tried (futilely) to show that there was more to be gained by running the drug war as a business than as a war of passion. In the same way, Jorah (a former slave trader) is arguing that the bloodless greed of the Astapori slavers, while cruel, has the by-product of creating soldiers who will not turn into beasts—even if they’re doing so not in the name of humanity but of making a more saleable product.

It’s a tough argument for Dany or Barristan to answer. And while she may not be persuaded, she sees the need enough to make a deal—not for gold, because she doesn’t have enough, but for one of her dragons, her children. Raising the question (since Targaryens are, metaphorically dragons), whether she’s in fact selling her soul.

The decision horrifies even Jorah, but Dany seems to have made a different kind of calculus: that there are some things money can’t buy. Jaime learns that lesson too, in quite a different way, when he tries to deal with his captors as Tyrion has in the past, by buying them. It seems to work–indeed, his promise of a ransom of sapphires from Brienne’s father saves her from a brutal rape.

And then it doesn’t work, not for Jaime. When he offers up that sweet, sweet Lannister gold, something seems to snap in his captor. Maybe it’s because Jaime cynically frames the deal to the Northern soldier as a kind of defeat: “Fighting bravely for a losing cause is admirable. Fighting for a winning cause is far more rewarding.”

Those words set something off, and we see that the Lannisters—after war, and a history of presumably arrogant power—have accrued some debts, of the kind you don’t pay off at the bank. “All you have to say is, ‘My father,’ and that’s it,” Jaime’s captor says. “You’re nothing without your daddy, and your daddy ain’t here.” And whack! goes the hand.

It’s brutal, and conclusive, and the message is unmistakable: Your money’s no good here.

(MORE: 5 Ways HBO’s Game of Thrones Exhibit Disappoints Us)

Now for the hail of bullets:

* Echoing the themes of money in the episode is the comic, peculiar subplot in which Littlefinger’s whores refuse payment from the (evidently talented?) Podrick. Some things are priceless?

* Speaking of that (rather cheesy) whorehouse scene, there was an ultra-inside reference for GRRM fans: “[She's] one of four women in the world who can perform a proper Meereenese Knot.” Martin has used that term not as a sex position—well, so far as I know—but to describe a knotty plotting problem that delayed his writing of the fifth book in the series.

* Anybody who cares probably already recognized them, but that was indeed The Hold Steady performing “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” over the credits.

* Theon escapes by horse. Yeah, I still have no better idea what’s going on here.

* The tense opening scene of the archer missing the floating bier he’s meant to set afire is classic Game of Thrones: a dramatic, solemn setup meets mundane human fallibility.

* As I’ve said before, Game of Thrones is covering so much story per episode that I’m singling out specific themes in these reviews each week, not trying to recap everything that happened. Anything I missed—Stannis, Jon Snow, Arya, Sam—that you want to talk about, knock yourselves out in the comments.

The usual reminder: If you’ve read the source books, be considerate in the comments of those who haven’t. Feel free to discuss how this (or any past episode) compares with the source material, but please, no references to events from the books that haven’t yet happened in the series. Thanks.
MORE: Game of Thrones Watch: Freedom’s Just Another Word

53 comments
AndySong
AndySong

Does anyone notice the title of this article "That's What's the Money's for" is a line from Don Draper of Mad Man in Season 4, Episode "The Suitcase"?

bluegraph
bluegraph

I wonder if Daenarys plans to have the city torched by the Dragon she has just sold. It is clear she is disturbed by the leaders and what they stand for. I have not read the books. Any comments?

Lucelucy
Lucelucy

Someday, when this is all over, I'll send you all to my website where I fantasize about an opera to be called "The Redemption of Jaime Lannister."  And just in case you think this is a spoiler, that I know he will be "redeemed," it isn't because I don't.  It's just an idea I had after watching the Live from the Met production of Die Walkure.  Twins.  Incest.  The story has everything.  Including a recurring aria, "The Things I Do For Love."

That being said, I have to say I was horrified by the rendition of The Bear and the Maiden Fair.  I was looking forward to hearing this beloved old folksong (hehe), and it was butchered.  Butchered, I tell you.  The fools!

Sri1
Sri1

After season 2 of most highly-rated series, the story goes haywire or predictable, the actors seem disinterested, the entire experience tends to be forced, and one loses interest in watching. Take promising first season soaps like Lost, How I met your mother, Big Bang Theory, Revenge, even Suits - most became too convoluted and the story was obviously being extended just as an after thought.

However, Game of thrones has become a real unexpected personal hit for me.   Happy to say that I would still be watching GoT well beyond the second season - the only serial where I did this was Prison Break - and even that became forced and predictable by the 3rd season.   But in GoT, there is still a lot of promise and the development of each character and sub-shas a slow, delicious pace.

CareyWilson
CareyWilson

I can't believe that Dany is really going to trade one of her dragons! I am so disappointed in her!! A mother does not trade one of her children, especially one her husband and unborn son died for. She better change her mind! :(

AmandaLowery
AmandaLowery

I really enjoy the way you break down your analysis, especially in focusing on the use of money in this episode. It is a really powerful theme. I focused a bit more on what the title of the episode suggested, which was "Walk of Punishment." It too seemed like a really powerful theme. I had an idea of Jamie's hand being cut off being a parallel to the could-have-been rape of Brienne. I wrote a little about it here, let me know your thoughts: http://www.notsodaily.com/2013/04/game-of-thrones-recap-and-review_15.html

geoff.clarke
geoff.clarke

The prostitute "comic relief" in this episode is a clear sign that the writers are not, as has been previously argued here, displaying misogyny to show in some meta sense how horrible it is, but instead indulging in some really base-level Porkys-era horribleness. This was pure endorsement of the fantasy subjugation of women in order to write a not-very-funny scene

(Disclaimer: if next week we find out that he actually hacked the prostitutes to death, or that this is some Littlefinger plot to turn him into a double agent, then that's different. But even the idea that I find the hacking to death of prostitutes more salutary than what actually happened is frightening)

dingerc
dingerc

@poniewozik it seemed clear that Tywin was giving his black sheep son a prestigious job that is doomed to failure.

noneyobeeswax
noneyobeeswax

They really only tell the uninteresting half of the story with Littlefinger borrowing money.  In the books they made it clear that what gave Littlefinger his incredible reputation was not his "ability" to borrow.  This makes sense given the intelligent people involved like Varys, Pycelle, Tywin (who is perfectly aware money does not appear out of thin air).  In the books they describe (I forget the chapter... it is in Clash of Kings) that Littlefinger was good "rubbing two golden dragons together breeding a third]".  Tyrion's mental description goes on describing Littlefinger's ability to invest money and get a spectacular return rather than letting it sit in a vault.  They make clear that his moneymaking had offset but by no means neutralized the ridiculous amount of borrowing that had occurred.  I hope they managed to to write this into this season... Littlefinger deserves more credit than to be the master of coin who just borrowed.

Kranzl
Kranzl

@poniewozik typo! "tantalizing" - unless you intended a portmanteau of "analyze" and"tantalize".

The_SummerMan
The_SummerMan

@poniewozik It's both. It's an important job, but not one that utilizes Tyrion's best qualities, and also, a surefire headache

sachi_bbsr
sachi_bbsr

I don't know why I continue to be skeptical about Game of Thrones. It seems to me the story has been written in some way as to "appeal" to the viewers.

I don't think life in the "past" was "quite" like it has been depicted in the show — assuming of course that the show is set in the "past."

I can't quite pinpoint it, but I think I can say that life in past ages would have been pretty dreary and boring and may be full of sudden and perplexing deaths from various diseases.

Why do people like "fantasy fiction" anyway?

I think there are many other fun hobbies one can cultivate.

@sachi_bbsr 


bkonwh2
bkonwh2

@TIME its just to slow & minor characters are so similar u don't no who's who & everybodys a bad guy no 1 likable what a grim crew

greenpea13
greenpea13

@MariVelBa se me olvido ver el nuevo capitulo el domingo, ya se que hacer cuando llegue a la casa :)

ThomasOlsen
ThomasOlsen

"Witness the derisive snort Cersei gives when Tyrion gets his new job, and Tywin’s snide remark that Master of Coin is the job “best suited” to Tyrion’s abilities. There’s the implication that counting pennies is the act of the weak, contemptible, and dishonest—as Tyrion says, a Lannister scion is someone who spends money, not manages it."   You completely misunderstand that scene. Tywin's kids think it is beneath them, Tywin doesn't. Do you think that he doesn't know where his money is? You are focused on Tywin being "mean" to Tyrion and making everything he does an insult. He isn't a warm and friendly guy but he also isn't someone who would risk something important like THE ENTIRE TREASURY OF THE KINGDOM on some petty whim.

ThomasOlsen
ThomasOlsen

it wasn't really an insult to make him the Minister of Coin. Tywin is The Hand or "real king" and he just made Tyrion the Kingdom Treasurer and Tax Assessor. Arguably the Minister of Coin is the 2nd or 3rd most powerful position in the Kingdom depending on where you place The Master of Whispers. Cersei thought it was funny because she doesn't think Tyrion can do it. Tywin knows that Tyrion can do it.

KenReports
KenReports

James,

Great recap as always.  The only good thing about the end of a GoT epsiode is reading this on Monday morning.  That said, since you didn't mention Arya's story this week, I would like to.

"I'm no Stark of Winterhell."
"WinterFELL."
"Are you sure?"

Is it just me or was that the funniest exchange so far this season?

P.S. - Thank you for not making any hand puns.

monstermanual
monstermanual

@poniewozik If it helps with Theon, IIRC its a relatively direct adaptation of off-page events he thinks about in a later POV chapter.

CareyWilson
CareyWilson

@faaranoor 


Do shows have to be perfect to have fans? It is really hard to follow sometimes and keep all the story lines straight, but it is easy to sink into the characters and all the settings. Plus the accents and dialogue almost always makes you watch it a second time to catch everything. I really enjoy it.


CareyWilson
CareyWilson

@bluegraph 


I doubt they are big enough to torch a city yet, they still look pretty small. Just my opinion of course.


anon76
anon76

@Lucelucy Seems a ton of people hated the rendition, but I actually liked it.  I'm not familiar with the Hold Steady, but I thought it sounded like the Pogues or some other Shane MacGowan act, so appropriate enough for something filmed in Northern Ireland.

CareyWilson
CareyWilson

@AmandaLowery 

I also see Jaime's loss of hand as being karma for pushing Bran off the tower in episode one. I need to re-watch it to see if he used the same hand that he lost last night. 

Mlebauer
Mlebauer

Too many womyn's studies classes in school?

mjblaiden
mjblaiden

@hannahrosewens my own essay work just got interrupted by two magpies having sexy time outside my window. Scarred for life.

DavidBailey
DavidBailey

@sachi_bbsr @sachi_bbsr It isn't set in the 'past'.All shows are written to appeal to the viewer.Watching television isn't a hobby.Life can be dreary and boring sometimes even in this modern age, that's why we need entertainment - like GoT.You need something else.That's cool - let the rest of us get on with it.

drksydeotm
drksydeotm

@sachi_bbsr You write this comment as if Game of Thrones is supposed to be a documentary.  Of course life in the past wasn't quite like this.  It's fantasy, fiction and fantastic.  Saying you don't understand why someone likes something and that there are other hobbies that one can enjoy is ridiculous.  If you don't like fantasy fiction, you don't like it.  But that doesn't mean that other people shouldn't.  Not sure why you even read this review.

steelgoat67
steelgoat67

My reading is different. Tywin doesn't like Tyrion, especially since he knows his role during the Battle of Blackwater Bay, and if he can find a way to ruin him justifiably, it'll do. If Tywin thought he should kill his son and be done with it, Tyrion's head would be mounted next to Ned's. But that's just not how it's done. Better to burden him with a problem that he is sure to fail at, have his downfall seen for all, and let the Game of Thrones claim another victim. Tywin comes off with hands clean of it, and his aim is still met. It's a political machination with an unwanted familial scapegoat attached.

CareyWilson
CareyWilson

@ThomasOlsen 


I agree with this. I assume being the master of coin is an endlessly tedious job and thus why Cersei does not see it as a desirable position. She also probably thinks it will keep Tyrion busy and out of her affairs. Tywin probably thinks that Tyrion truly is fit for the position, and his best option for the position as it is not like Tywin to make un-calculated decisions. That said, he is not going to praise Tyrion no matter what, that seems clear and is so unfair to Tyrion.

anon76
anon76

@ThomasOlsen 

That's an interesting suggestion, and one that I like better than James' interpretation.  That said, I think James might be closer to what the directors were thinking.

This episode (which I thought was the best of the young season by some margin) had a couple such beats that could be interpreted in a multitude of ways.  James has bought the Podrick scene as straightforward humor, though I've seen people try to argue that the refusal of payment had earlier been arranged by Tyrion and Bronn in order to 'gift' Pod with some confidence (as well as to bond with him a bit) in return for his lifesaving maneuver on the Blackwater.

A third scene was Brienne's reaction to Jaimie being unchained.  Was she worried because Jaimie appeared to be turning his captors, or was she worried because she anticipated the Northman's true character before Jaimie did?

It's the mummer's gift that these scenes can be interpreted either way, and our impressions of the scenes will probably change as we get further information later in the season.

danjtrudeau
danjtrudeau

@ThomasOlsen Practically speaking, you're correct about how powerful the position is.  Tywin knows it's important but it's not the sort of work an aristocrat is supposed to do.  Keep in mind, up until recently Littlefinger was not part of the aristocracy so it was a fitting position for him.  Now that he has a title, he's moving up in the world.  I think Tywin gave his son the position because he could insult and make use of him at the same time.

The culture of Westeros is based on ancient European society.  In that society, the ruling elite felt they were above actually managing the day to day business of things.

poniewozik
poniewozik

@monstermanual From ADWD? Utterly forgot that, though I have to admit I didn't find the Reek chapters too compelling, so makes sense.

jponiewozik
jponiewozik moderator

@drksydeotm @sachi_bbsr Yeah, just to clarify (especially for non-readers of the books), GoT is not meant to be set in the "past" on our Earth, though it is set in a society that borrows from medieval/Renaissance Europe (and whose history has elements of Roman and other Earthly history).

jponiewozik
jponiewozik moderator

@anon76 @ThomasOlsen Yeah, sorry, I wholly stand by my reading of that scene. The Master of Coin position is important and powerful, as I just wrote. But it's also held to be unbecoming of one of high birth--hence the fact that Littlefinger, a petty nobleman, was last in the position. It's entirely possible for both these things to be true at once. As Dan Trudeau notes below, there's an attitude here toward the management of money that's comparable to that in medieval Europe, where banking, however necessary, was also bound up with the usury laws and anti-Semitism. 

It's pretty well established, first, that Tywin resents Tyrion and holds him in utter contempt; and second, that Tyrion's family continues to hold him in contempt no matter how many times he shows himself capable--first managing the drains at Casterly Rock, then saving the Iron Throne at Blackwater. And I think Charles Dance communicates Tywin's attitude pretty plainly. 

I'm ready to be proven wrong, and you are correct that, in reality, Master of Coin is a vitally important job--as I write in this post, one distinguishing thing about GoT is how it recognizes how crucial money is to ruling. But I really don't think that this decision represents some secret nod of respect from Tywin to Tyrion. He's giving him a job a Lannister would not give to a Lannister, but to a lesser noble.

anon76
anon76

@poniewozik

Gasp!  Really?  I believe that the Reek chapters are the consensus favorite from ADWD.  I liked the book fine enough, but it was the first book in the series that I started skipping chapters in order to follow one POV through to conclusion, and that POV was Theon.

But, not to get too much into bookishness here, the Theon scenes in the show so far are quite different to the retrospectives we got in the books. I.e., I don't think anybody, book reader or show watcher, knows exactly what's going on beyond the broadest of brush strokes.

monstermanual
monstermanual

@poniewozik Right. I think including it is intended to introduce the Boltons over the season (also, replacing Vargo Hoat with Bolton men.)

andrewyak30062
andrewyak30062

Wouldn't the dragons, smoke babies, white walkers, giant wolves, giant giants, etc. all have been clues to this fact?

steelgoat67
steelgoat67

Agreed.

I think it partly comes from a modernist bias, where we generally like to attribute depictions of the "past" (whether in a fantastical Westeros or even a conjectural Earth one) with a misplaced and unfounded 'downgrading' of their capabilities, sophistication and complexity. It's an improving point of view; we're coming from a very Pythonesque view of medieval settings ("There's plent of muck down 'ere!") and as our own understanding of the setting improves, it begins to inform fantastical and fictional depictions as well. Remember, in our medieval past, we achieved architectural feats that are marvelled upon by even modern engineers (just visit any cathedral or aqueduct), there were wealthy banks and powerful patricians, some of the greatest and ground-breaking advances in mathematics, physics, science and chemistry, and the advancement of political institutions (some of which still exist to the day). When they say "there is nothing new under the sun", it shouldn't be taken with a pinch of salt. Game of Thrones, while not a portrayal of our past, or even a "past" in Westeros, champions the innovations we made in our past -- and the pratfalls encountered by some of each. 

And I love it. 

anon76
anon76

copy post, delete post, start new post, paste.

Unfortunately that's all we got.

I still think that D&D are trying to portray it as insulting to Tyrion, though I like your reasoning here.

smanifests
smanifests

Edit: ok yes high lord=great house, lord=noble house. Still, the lord of a noble house is usually fairly important. And I don't think it's necessarily the case that the reason the masters of coin were almost always lords of noble houses (as opposed to great houses) had anything to do with the position being a lesser one--except as related to Hand of the King.

But maybe your point is just that as the next in line to a great house, it's an insult (assuming Tyrion is heir, which the public likely believes). Then again, he is not presently a high lord. Plus, it's an open seat and considering that Lannisters are good with money, it suits him. Yes, he protests that he is only good at spending it. But, he makes a point of respecting money in season 2 when talking to Cersei about defending Kings Landing (ep 7 or 8 I think) and a Lannister pays his debts--and ensures that he receives payment for a debt. Therefore, a Lannister is well suited to the job.

And Tywin isn't stupid. He may hate Tyrion but he will use him as needed--whether it's the coveted Hand of the King position, or a necessary new master of coin. It's not meant as an insult. It's meant to fill his needs. If Tywin had given him that job first--back in season 1--before he appointed him acting hand, Tyrion would've been thrilled.

I really wish there was an edit button btw. (if there is, please someone point it out).

smanifests
smanifests

Edit: insert "lesser noble" for "low born". Same idea--the point is, it is a high lord's position, as the rest of the masters of coin have all been high lords. Most having more status than Tyrion since they were all heads of their respective houses (except Littlefinger, who had title to a useless piece of land). Granted, the lords weren't lords of the great houses (eg Stark, Tully, Tyrell, Baratheon), but they came from noble houses.

smanifests
smanifests

That's not an accurate assessment of the common Westerosi view of master of coin. There is no indication that low born people are master of coin bc it's a job "not fit for a lord." The reason Littlefinger gets the job is bc he's established a reputation as great with money, and was helped by someone close to power (spoiler). Also, the rest of the known masters of coin were all high lords, including one who was later hand of king Daeron II--nothing to do with increased status.

Tywin gave his son real power--again. And being very interested in the debt of the crown, he wouldn't appoint a failure. He needs another "magician" and believes Tyrion is well-suited bc he is clever. Sure it's a demotion, but any job would be and Tywin didn't have to put Tyrion on the small council. Any small council seat is coveted by high lords, which is very apparent in the books.

Cersei snorting wasn't bc it was a low born persons job that no Lannister would give another Lannister. It was bc she knows Tyrion doesn't want it and still thinks he should be Hand of the King over Tywin. But Tyrion is irrational on that point--he was only acting Hand while his father was fighting. He wasn't ever entitled to have the job permanently.

Plus, as is made clear in the book, he doesn't trust Littlefinger, is pissed that he almost got Tyrion killed (dagger remark in season 1) is annoyed that his title of lord of Harrenhal will likely get him the entire Vale while Tyrion has just be denied his rightful place as heir to Casterly Rock. Essentially, he hates Littlefinger but can't do anything about it and just watches as LF keeps getting more powerful while Tyrion gets less power.

This doesn't mean Tyrion thinks the job is beneath him per se, but combined with his feeling of entitlement to Hand, loss of Casterly Rock, plus watching someone who almost got him killed become increasingly powerful--and Tyrion is a bit pissed in general. But he's more pissed that Littlefinger is leaving than that he is replacing Littlefinger. In the books anyway.

monstermanual
monstermanual

I like the Reek chapters well enough, but I'm looking forward to the show humanizing Ramsay a bit; even if he remains just as evil as he is in ADWD, being played by a human will make him more palatable (as it has with all the other GoT villains).

jponiewozik
jponiewozik moderator

@anon76 I found those chapters disappointingly repetitive, but I know that I'm often in the minority among ASOIAF fans in what I like and don't in the books. Anyway, don't want to get into spoilage here--I was originally replying on Twitter and forgot that LiveFyre--which sounds like something they used in the Battle of the Blackwater--pulls in those comments here too.

poniewozik
poniewozik

@monstermanual That would make sense, also from the what-the-hell-happened-at-Winterfell standpoint for nonreaders