Tag Archives: IllyrioMopatis

AGoT summation: obesity

I chose to track obese characters on this reread because I remembered the series as being curiously full of contenders for “fattest dude POV Character X has ever seen,” and wondered if there were any discernible patterns in the ways Martin uses this characteristic.

Obesity played for simple comic relief. Here we have Mord the Eyrie jailor and the pseudo-Baratheon kids’ nameless septa. As of the end of AGoT, the Manderlys are in this category; it’ll be a few books before we find out that at least the paterfamilias is actually/also an exemplar of…

Obesity as disguise. Varys manages to at least partially hide his scheming under his obese and effeminate appearance (not to mention his perfume). Illyrio belongs here, too. These characters might not have become obese on purpose, but they certainly use the characteristic to their advantage in distracting others from their more important non-physical qualities. Then there’s…

Obesity as the outward sign of corruption or fallen-ness. Here are Robert, Lysa, and the High Septon.

Obese characters who defy categorization.Sam Tarly is the prime exemplar here: he’s not corrupt or fallen, he’s not comic relief (sure, Jon pokes a little silent fun at him, but his hazing is mostly played as the horror it is), and he’s not cleverly hiding behind his bulk (though he might learn). He’s simply Sam, a person with many characteristics, one of which — but not the only defining one — happens to be great physical size. (Judging by Sam’s dialog in this book, his self-declared cowardice is much more central to his own self-concept than his obesity.)

I think Fat Tom belongs in this last category too: to Arya he’s comic relief, but Ned clearly views him as a full-fledged person and valuable employee.

Overall, Martin has a good record of portraying obese characters: most obese characters (like most non-obese characters) are occasionally the butt of humor, but only “extras” are played strictly for comic relief (and one senses a little sympathy even for Mord). Obese characters can be smart, brave, and likeable (or smart, scheming, and dislikable). And they’re not always fat because they’re lazy or decadent, although occasionally (Robert, the High Septon) this may be the case. I’m most fascinated by the characters who use their obesity to help make themselves seem innocuous, and wonder if Sam, jaded by his exposure to those scheming southron maesters, will eventually end up in this category.

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AGoT Arya 3

  • More obesity as comic relief: a “septa as big as a draft horse” with “legs as thick and white as marble columns.”
  • Oh, and Illyrio is “grossly fat, yet he seemed to walk lightly, carrying his weight on the balls of his feet as a water dancer might” — because, as we don’t learn until ADwD, he was one.
  • Myrcella and Tommen are uncharacteristically mean here.
  • Old Nan sayeth: there are steps to hell, and they are dark.
  • Varys to Illyrio: “the [Lannisters] tried to kill [Ned’s] son.” So Varys really doesn’t know who was responsible for the Bran assassination attempt? Or is he referring only to the defenestration?
  • Varys and Illyrio sure sound like they intend for a Dothraki invasion under Dany to be the main event of their coup — not as though she’s a distracting sideshow or as if they expect her to die, as is implied in ADwD.
  • Much has been made of Margaery’s resemblance to Anne Boleyn, but here she’s just as much Catherine Howard: a woman chosen by scheming relatives/courtiers to seduce the king and thereby win his favor for her procurers.
  • Lest we get too sympathetic to Varys, here he is ordering up fifty tongueless slave children.
  • Ned and Old Nan have a strangely late-twentieth century concept of a wizard: “a long white beard and a tall pointed hat speckled with stars.”
  • Yoren meets Arya, and mistakes her for a boy, making his later recognition and choice of disguise for her plausible.
  • Arya’s patronization by both her father and his guards is striking: do they really think she’ll believe one of them is worth ten of the enemy, or that it does her any long-term good to tell her so?

AGoT Daenerys II: foreshadowing, etc.

Here Dany’s dream sequence foreshadows the pregnancy/miscarriage/dragon connection, and features Viserys yelling “you woke the dragon,” a statement that will become literally true. (Also there’s a soon-to-be-ironic conversation between Viserys and Illyrio about the former’s impatience for his crown.)

The words fear, afraid, frightened/ing, terror/ified are used incessantly in association with Dany, not to mention the times she is described as shaking, stomach-roiling, etc. It’s almost overdone. The consummation/conjugal rape scene is a surprisingly evocative and plausible presentation of her feelings, though, given that I remember ASoIaF sex writing as being mostly either perfunctory or embarassingly cheesy.

(I so wanted Dany to be a horse girl, too, but now she’s described as knowing little about horses or riding. Darn. Maybe does love horses, but has had insufficient opportunities to actually ride them?)

As a bonus, we learn a little bit more about what Dothraki look like: “men and women alike wore painted leather vests over bare chests [on the women? if so, why is Qartheen costume made to seem such a big deal later?] and horsehair leggings cinched by bronze medallion belts.”


AGoT Daenerys 1: what Illyrio Mopatis looks like

He moved with surprising delicacy for such a massive man. Beneath loose garments of flame-colored silk, rolls of fat jiggled as he walked. Gemstones glittered on every finger, and his man had oiled his forked yellow beard until it shone like real gold.

[…]

Dany could smell the stench of Illyrio’s pallid flesh through his heavy perfumes.

Illyrio is the first of what I believe will be many “grotesquely fat” characters we will meet. I remember this trope as being a bit overdone (could one storyline really contain so many characters that are not just fat, but so much beyond “normal” fatness that it merits such extreme description)? We’ll see how many characters are actually described as such.


AGoT Daenerys 1: R’hllor

Dany could hear the singing of the red priests as they lit their night fires…

[…]

“May the Lord of Light shower you with blessings” … the magister said.

[…]

“The Lord of Light would hold our city walls against a million Dothraki, or so the red priests promise…”

[…]

[T]he guests drifted among [the ivy leaves] … among them … a red priest even fatter than Illyrio…

Not one, but four mentions of (what we will later know as) R’hllorism in this chapter, and I never pickedup on it on the first reading, rather experiencing R’hllorism as a novelty introduced with Melisandre in A Clash of Kings. I’ll be on the lookout for evidence of how sincere, or not, Illyrio’s religion is (though we already know that he’d rather trust bribes than faith to handle the Dothraki).