Day 177: Vengeance

Day 177: Vengeance

Day 177: Vengeance

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Three years and three days ago, Kevin Rudd was deposed by Julia Gillard as the Prime Minister of Australia in what’s best described as a political ambush. Today, Rudd returned the favour. Well, considering the abysmal opinion polls and predictions of a catastrophic loss at the impending election, it’s better described as a mercy killing, but I digress.

This little turning point in Australian politics reminded me of a very popular passage from the most recent Song of Ice and Fire book, A Dance With Dragons, which appears in numerous memes and tumblr images. The full text can be read in today’s photo. In it, a northern lord named Ser Wyman Manderly speaks of how the time he has spent dining, treating and trading courtesies with his enemies is near an end.

As popular as the passage has become, it’s always bothered me that it misses the broader context: that Manderly didn’t want to take up arms because his house faced certain annihilation. Even so, Lord Davos summed it up perfectly when he somehow found the words to plead with him to join the fight. The exchange can be found towards the end of page 249 of the hardcover edition. Now, fair warning to fans of the Game of Thrones TV series: the following passage contains substantial spoilers for what’s sure to come in the next two seasons.

“Davos felt a stab of despair. His Grace should have sent another man, a lord or knight or maester, someone who could speak for him without tripping on his own tongue. “Death,” he heard himself say, “there will be death, aye. Your lordship lost a son at the Red Wedding. I lost four upon the Blackwater. And why? Because the Lannisters stole the throne. Go to King’s Landing on look on Tommen with your own eyes, if you doubt me. A blind man could see it. What does Stannis offer you? Vengeance. Vengeance for my sons and yours, for your husbands and your fathers and your brothers. Vengeance for your murdered lord, your murdered king, your butchered princes. Vengeance!””

It’s often said that the best revenge is to live well. Part of me believes that’s something you only say when you haven’t the time nor the opportunity to fight back.


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