WARNING: Spoilers ahead for the 'Game of Thrones' TV series and 'A Song of Ice and Fire' books. Do not read on unless you have seen Season 6, Episode 4, "The Book of the Stranger."
The latest episode of Game of Thrones was all about Daenerys, and it's about time too. I have to be honest, I lost a lot of respect for the Mother of Dragons when she executed poor Mossador last season, much to the protest of the people of Meereen. The last few years have seen her on a relentless rampage, storming through the cities of Essos and leaving total destruction in her wake, behavior which has made me seriously doubt her abilities as a leader.
For me, Daenerys was at her very best at the helm of the khalasar back in Season 1, surrounded by servants and with Khal Drogo by her side. Since then, things have seemingly been on a downward spiral — until now, of course. In the latest episode, Dany went right back to her Dothraki roots and experienced something of a rebirth as she emerged, unburnt, from the flames.
Something about seeing her at the head of the horde just felt right and my faith that she can redeem herself was immediately restored, but it also got me thinking. After years of going round in circles and this recent reconnection with the past, I wonder if Daenerys is in fact living out a prophecy relayed to her in George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings, a prophecy which, if true, holds a major clue as to where her quest to be queen will take her next.
In the book, the prophecy is passed on by a mysterious character who made it onto our screens for only a couple of episodes back in Season 2: Quaithe of the Shadow Lands. Can't remember the name? You'll probably remember the face — well, what we can see of it anyway as Quaithe somewhat distinctively wears a veil.
The shadowbinder may not have actually come face to face with Daenerys on the show, nor did she get the chance to deliver her prophecy but she did have two rather intriguing interactions with Jorah Mormont.
In A Clash of Kings, Quaithe urges Daenerys to leave Qarth as soon as possible and visit Asshai, the home of not only herself but also interestingly, our red priestess and fellow shadowbinder, Melisandre. (Fun fact: According to the show's costume designer, Quaithe's mask was designed with the same hexagonal motif as Mel's ornate neck piece. Do these two have some kind of connection?) After giving her warning, Quaithe cryptically tells Daenerys:
"To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow."
Now, let's think about this for a moment. Haven't the first three parts of the prophecy pretty much played out perfectly? Since leaving Pentos, Daenerys has gone on a journey which has seen her conquer Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen — the Southern cities of Essos. Instead of going West to cross the Narrow Sea, she has spent much of her time travelling East, and last episode, she quite literally went back to her past when she defeated the khals and came out as ruler of the Dothraki.
It could be argued, of course, that Dany has already "passed beneath the shadow" of the Mother of Mountains, but the fact that Quaithe urges her to go to Asshai makes me think that the real meaning behind the final part of the prophecy is that Dany and co must travel to (or at least through) the Shadow Lands. Considering the fact that all of her ships were recently destroyed in Meereen thanks to the Sons of the Harpy, it makes sense that Dany might take a detour — but would it really be a detour?
The Shadow Lands are the most Eastern place known to the people of the Seven Kingdoms. What if, stay with me here, Daenerys didn't make her way to Westeros via the Narrow Sea as expected, but entered from the Sunset Sea on the opposite side?! It's highly likely that the majority of people living in the time period think the world is flat. If the Mother of Dragons were to come full circle and descend upon Westeros from the East, just think of the element of surprise she could have.
Geographical theories aside, Asshai and the Shadow Lands are said to be magnificent and mystical places, full of exotic people who are highly likely to be skilled in powerful magic. Isn't that just what Dany needs right now? In the most recent novel, A Dance With Dragons, Quaithe returns to Dany in a vision and repeats her cryptic words, which makes it clear to me that her foreshadowings do have some significance in the books at least.
Whether the importance of the prophecy carries over to the show is as yet unseen, but the preview for next week's episode has me even more convinced. Varys and Tyrion are looking pretty concerned about the arrival of a somewhat bewildering beauty in Meereen, rocking the choker and sexy robe look that has only previously been reserved for Melisandre.
The mysterious woman breathes:
"Knowledge has made you powerful but there's still so much you don't know."
Could this new bewildering beauty have also hailed from Asshai? Could she be the link that leads Daenerys to the Shadow Lands? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, you can check out the preview below.