Game of Thrones Season 6 Primer: Essos and House Power Rankings

Game of Thrones Season 6 Primer: Essos and House Power Rankings

Winter is coming (in Westeros). The Game of Thrones Season 6 Premiere is only three days away, and there are SO many reasons to be excited: Dany knows how to use one of her dragons! Tyrion and Varys are together, bantering wittily! Cersei is fresh from a very literal walk of shame and ready to enter Rampage Mode! Jorah Friend Zone and Daario Bone Zone are traveling in search of their mutual love interest! The Mountain is back as a very large zombie! Dorne is being forced to actively join world events! A lunatic is leading armed religious zealots in the capital city!

With all that to look forward to, let’s take a quick look back and get ready for what’s coming our way. Here are the regional breakdowns you need to be prepared come Sunday:

Essos

Who’s here?

Daenerys Targaryen, Drogon, Rhaegal, Viserion, Tyrion Lannister, Varys, Grey Worm, Missandei, Jorah Mormont, Daario Naharis, Arya Stark

Where we left off:

Dany fled Meereen on Drogon’s back only to be captured by a roaming Khalasar.

Rhaegal and Viserion are locked up in Meereen, where Tyrion, Varys, Grey Worm, and Missandei are ruling in Dany’s absence.

Lore: Varys

Varys came to Westeros after a life of destitution and thieving across Essos. After managing a network of spies in Pentos, he was recruited by the Mad King Aerys to serve as Master of Whispers. He continued in this role for Robert Baratheon, and his vast network of informants and contacts have allowed him to stay abreast of developments all over the world. While many characters are singularly focused on events in Westeros, Varys helped position Barristan and Tyrion as advisors to Daenerys. Now he is in Meereen to help Tyrion in Dany’s absence. He has professed to have no allegiance to a particular house, only to the realm as a whole.

Jorah and Daario have set out to find Dany.

Arya is blind after venturing outside of her training for a personal target.

What does the Khalasar want with Dany?

Being captured by a Khalasar is far from a death sentence for Dany. Traditionally the nomadic tribes have taken wanderers hostage rather than executing them, and it’s possible they know who Dany is from her days as Khaleesi. If she is able to persuade this Khalasar to join her rather than killing her or selling her, it would be a valuable addition to her army of Unsullied. It’s a tall task, but a little demonstration from Drogon might help matters along. If no sort of arrangement can be made, she’ll have to engineer her escape and attempt to return to Meereen.

Was Dany’s flight on Drogon a tease, or are her dragons becoming instruments of war?

It took a while, but we finally saw a dragon set fire to a group of people and accept a rider. Just look at the havoc Drogon wreaked in the Fighting Pits before he and Dany escaped and you can see the importance of this development. Not only do militarized dragons offer a direct threat on the battlefield, they also help in the recruitment of allies. Aegon I Targaryen and his sisters had three dragons and no army of note before they began their conquest, but were able to gather banners as the capabilities of their dragons was demonstrated. Of course, they were three dragonriders; so far only Dany has shown any control over her dragons, and I haven’t found any examples of riderless dragons commanded in battle. Does she need two more dragonriders before she can unleash all three simultaneously?

Lore: Dragonriders

Prior to the Doom, dragonriders were common in Valyria. The Targaryens were the only family to survive the Doom, however, and since then the only known dragonriders have possessed some Targaryen blood. Bonding is a very dangerous process and not always successful, but once complete the person can ride and direct the dragon. Attempts by dragonriders to ride dragons bonded to others have not been successful. Dragons have demonstrated initiative of their own, but have been most effectively utilized in battle when guided by a dragonrider. Whether Dany will be able to find riders for Rhaegal and Viserion, and whether they’ll prove useful if she cannot, is yet to be seen.

Is Arya’s blindness punishment, training, or both?

Arya lost her vision after her “extracurricular studies” were discovered by Jaqen H’ghar. Of course, losing one sense for a stretch of time is known to develop other senses to new levels, and navigating without your sight is a useful skill for an assassin. Jaqen is without a doubt unhappy with Arya’s independent actions; the Faceless Men have preached lack of identity from the start. I just wonder if she will be allowed to continue her training, and if she would have been struck blind at some point no matter what.

Preliminary House Power Rankings:

House Tyrell

Margaery and Loras are imprisoned, but Olenna is in King’s Landing to work on that problem. They have the best supply of food, the largest standing army, and the ability to raise a naval force as large as any other. Margaery also has a strong grip on Tommen’s...attention.

House Martell

Dorne is geographically isolated from their greatest opponent, with a long hard march separating Sunspear and King’s Landing. They haven’t lost any troops or resources to recent wars, and Doran seems politically adept if he can reign in Ellaria and the Sand Snakes.

House Lannister

Their allies to the North don’t feel secure, they lost large amounts of money and manpower during the War of the Five Kings, and their top two schemers (Tywin and Tyrion) are gone. They still sit the Iron Throne (under the Baratheon name), however, and have powerful allies in the Tyrells.

House Bolton

It’s difficult to lead a group of people that don’t like you, and it’s possible the rest of the North outright hates the Boltons. They have a formidable army and a strong castle in Winterfell, and if they can capture Sansa Stark again they’ll have some legitimacy to their bannermen. Roose will have to do some smooth operating if he wants to avoid conflict with both the North and King’s Landing.

House Targaryen

Dany can now control Drogon to some extent, but the Unsullied are being murdered in the streets and an easy way out of Meereen is hard to find. She’s also currently a prisoner. They’ll need effective ruling from her small council, Dany’s freedom, and an Essos exit strategy if they hope to make a move on the Iron Throne.

House Greyjoy

We haven’t heard from the Ironborn in some time, but they are a force to be reckoned with at sea. Theon has a chance to regain his identity, and Yara has shown promise as a leader. They’ll need to aim higher than raiding if they want to make a lasting impact.

House Stark

Jon Snow requires divine intervention to be a player again. Sansa has escaped, and if she can find the right House she can be protected and possibly even move against the Boltons. She also has a strong ally in Littlefinger headed her direction. Bran hopefully learned some neat tricks from Bloodraven, Rickon is alive somewhere, and Arya might be a world-class assassin someday. Unfortunately, they don’t have any castles or armies right now.


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