The Second Siege of Meereen is a siege during the Liberation of Slaver's Bay. Following Daenerys Targaryen's capture of Meereen and emergence as its queen, the Good and Wise Masters of Astapor and Yunkai engage in a fight to support the Great Masters to retake the city and reinstall slavery in the last city that has abolished it.
- 1 History
- 2 In the books
- 2.1 Background
- 2.2 The War Begins
- 2.3 The new contender
- 2.4 The Fall of Astapor
- 2.5 The Second Sons Switch Sides
- 2.6 The Siege
- 2.7 The Peace Treaty
- 2.8 After Daenerys's Departure
- 2.9 Hizdahr is Overthrown
- 2.10 A Plan of War
- 2.11 At the Yunkai camps
- 2.12 The Iron Fleet Arrives
- 2.13 Daenerys and the Dothraki
- 2.14 The Battle
- 3 See also
- 4 References and notes
After sacking Astapor and Yunkai to liberate the enslaved populace from both cities, Daenerys and her army conquer Meereen. Upon crucifying 163 Great Masters and the news of Cleon taking over Astapor as its new King, Daenerys installs herself as Queen of Meereen. An uprising errupts against her new rule, with the infamous Sons of the Harpy plotting to retake the city and reinstall slavery.
After the attack at Daznak's Pit, Daenerys flees Meereen on Drogon's back and her newest advisor, Tyrion, is appointed ruler of Meereen in her stead, as he is the only one with experience in ruling a city. Varys arrived soon after, and offered Tyrion the service of his spies. Sometime afterwards, Meereen' shipyards have been burned.
A short-lived stability
After receiving news of the slave-masters retaking Astapor, Tyrion arranges a meeting with the Masters, offering them a seven-year time limit to phase out slavery from Astapor and Yunkai and compensate all slaveowners, with the condition that slavery is not re-established in Meereen. The Masters reluctantly agree. Despite disagreements from the former slaves, Meereen begins to stabilize and the Sons activity is drastically reduced. 
The Siege begins
Despite having apparently agreed to Tyrion's terms, the Masters renege on this promise and send a fleet to attack the city. The fleet begins bombarding Meereen at night, while Tyrion and Grey Worm discuss strategy, with Grey Worm proposing they don't attack the Masters fleet directly, instead prompting the Unsullied to stay inside the Great Pyramid and wait for the Masters to come to them. Fortunately, Daenerys shortly thereafter returns to the city, arriving at the top of the Great Pyramid on Drogon.
The following day, as the fleet continues to bombard the city, Daenerys and Tyrion arrange a meeting with the Masters to negotiate a surrender. On a hill overlooking Meereen, the Masters allow Daenerys and her allies to leave Slaver's Bay in exchange for the Unsullied and Missandei to be sold back into slavery, and the death of her dragons. Instead, Daenerys turns the tables on the Masters, retorting that the meeting is for the surrender of the Masters, not her. When they refuse, Drogon descends from behind. Daenerys rides her dragon to the harbor and burns the attacking fleet, with help from the newly-released Rhaegal and Viserion. At the same time, Daario arrives with Daenerys's khalasar and secures the city gates from the Sons of the Harpy, who have already begun slaughtering civilians.
Back on the hill, the slave soldiers quickly desert when Grey Worm gives them a choice between dying for masters who won't do them the same courtesy, or going back to their families. Abandoned and defeated, the masters plead for their lives, and Tyrion and Missandei point out that they have exhausted Daenerys's sense of mercy and patience by violating the pact and that she has ordered the execution of one of them as punishment. Razdal mo Eraz and Belicho Paenymion claim that Yezzan zo Qaggaz (who, unlike themselves, is of low birth) should be sacrificed. In response, Grey Worm kills Razdal and Belicho, sparing Yezzan to send a warning to the other slave cities about Daenerys's victory and the destruction wrought on her enemies in case the Masters ever entertain the notion of future attacks on Meereen.
Daenerys's control over Meereen is restored, and she seizes control of the remainder of the Masters' armada. Shortly thereafter, the Iron Fleet, led by the exiled Yara and Theon Greyjoy arrive and negotiate with Daenerys, offering use of the Fleet for the conquest of mainland Westeros in exchange for an independent Iron Islands under Yara's rule. Daenerys agrees on the condition that the ironborn change their ways forever, which Yara reluctantly agrees to. The combined ships give Daenerys the means to not only secure Meereen, but to move the bulk of her army to Westeros at last.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Second Siege of Meereen unfolds differently than in the TV series, that has changed most of its storyline in process. Daenerys does not return with a Dothraki khalasar in order to take part in the fight herself. In her absence, Meereen is ruled by Ser Barristan Selmy, who is still alive, not Tyrion. Tyrion does indeed take part in the fight, but as mercenary of the Second Sons rather than ruler of Meereen or Daenerys' advisor. Far from suffering of greyscale or reuniting with Daenerys only to part ways with her in good terms, Ser Jorah Mormont is also part of the siege, also a mercenary of the Second Sons. Unlike in the TV series, the Second Sons are originally fighting for the Slaver Alliance.
The conflict begins at the end of A Storm of Swords, continues throughout A Dance with Dragons, and has not been resolved yet by the point the books (including the released sample chapters of the upcoming sixth novel) reached. It is narrated from the POV of Daenerys, Barristan Selmy, Tyrion, Quentyn Martell and Victarion Greyjoy.
Varys, who does not make appearance in the fourth and fifth novels (except one short scene) and his whereabouts are unknown, is not involved at all at the siege of Meereen.
In A Storm of Swords, Daenerys defeats Yunkai. True to her word, she does not have Yunkai sacked as she did at Astapor - a decision she deeply regrets later. She does not leave an armed force in Yunkai to keep the Wise Masters from stirring up troubles after her departure, and that turns to be a serious mistake: soon after Daenerys's host leaves to Meereen, the Wise Masters begin to plot against her.
After Daenerys conquers Meereen, a messenger from Astapor brings alarming news about Yunkai: new levies have been raised and can be seen drilling outside the city walls, warships are being built, envoys have been sent to New Ghis and Volantis to make alliances and hire sellswords. They have even dispatched riders to Vaes Dothrak to bring a khalasar down upon Daenerys. Daenerys is disheartened by these news, musing "All my victories turn to dross in my hands. Whatever I do, all I make is death and horror", but takes no action against Yunkai.
Unlike in the show, Daenerys does not have even one single ship: the three ships she had were taken apart at her command for building siege machines; any ships which were at the harbors of Meereen - were either destroyed by Daenerys's troops or fled to the open sea. The only vessels left are fishing boats.
Daenerys's reign over Meereen is very unstable: the noble families hate her, and the Sons of the Harpy terrorize Daenerys's loyalists. At first, they have limited their attacks to unarmed freedmen, cutting them down in the streets or breaking into their homes under the cover of darkness to murder them in their beds. Later they have grown bold and moved to kill Daenerys's soldiers. All attempts to stop them fail, the identity of their leader remains unknown. Two of Daenerys's advisors, Reznak and Galazza Galare, urge her to marry Hizdahr, in order to secure her position in Meereen.
Quaithe appears before Daenerys and warns her "The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal."
Yunkai sends envoys to many other slaver cities, among them Volantis, Tolos, Mantarys, Qarth, New Ghis and Elyria. Everywhere, the Yunkai envoys manage to make more and more cities and troops join their coalition. Daenerys tries to make alliances too, but her envoys are rejected. She has no allies except the Lhazareen, who are not much of assistance. Cleon offers her to join forces against Yunkai but she refuses, since she loathes Cleon for restoring slavery to Astapor and the atrocities he performed after taking over.
At Volantis, the Yunkai lord Grazan mo Eraz spreads false horror stories about Daenerys and generously offers bribes, gems and prostitutes of both genders, and manages to persuade the Triarchs to join the coalition that Yunkai has formed with other slaver cities against Daenerys. The High Priest Benerro preaches that Volantis must take sides with Daenerys, but he is in minority.
In the meantime, other characters gradually join the Meereenese plotline. They are mentioned in Quaithe's strange words:
- Doran Martell sends his son Quentyn ("the Sun's son") to Meereen, escorted by a maester and four knights, to offer Daenerys an alliance, and marry her. On the way, the maester and two of the knights are killed. Quentyn and his two surviving escorts, Gerris Drinkwater and Archibald Yronwood, arrive at Volantis, and unable to find a ship to take them to Meereen. They decide to join the Windblown sellsword company, which was hired by Yunkai and is about to travel to Meereen, planning to find an opportunity to reach Daenerys.
- Tyrion ("the lion") and Jorah, alongside their dwarf companion Penny, board a ship whose destination is Qarth. The Red Priest Moqorro ("the black flame"), assigned by Benerro to offer Daenerys guidance and help, is on the same ship. On the way, a storm causes the ship to stray from its course, and Moqorro is swept overboard. Slavers board the ship, capture the passengers and bring them to Meereen. There, Tyrion, Penny and Jorah are sold to Yezzan, and soon find themselves caught in the battle between Yunkai and Daenerys.
- Unlike in the show, Jorah and Tyrion do not participate the fights at the fighting pits: Tyrion and Penny are bought for their hilarious show, while Jorah refuses to cooperate with his captors, and as a result he is locked in a cage and often beaten severely. By the point the book reached, they do not make contact with Daenerys, and she has no idea they are nearby.
- Victarion Greyjoy ("the kraken") has grudgingly accepted the fact that his hateful brother is now the lawful king of the ironborn, and rejects Aeron's offer to overthrow him. Euron, confident that Victarion will obey any command, orders his brother to take the Iron Fleet (which, unlike in the show, has not been stolen by Asha), travel to Meereen and bring him Daenerys. Victarion decides he will take Daenerys to himself. Euron gives him a horn called "Dragonbinder", which allegedly can summon dragons. Victarion is suspicious about the horn, reminding himself that "Euron's gifts are poisoned". The Iron Fleet initially consists of 93 ships, but on the way Victarion loses nearly half of that number. He stops at Volantis for restocking provisions, and there he learns about the coalition that Yunkai gathered against Daenerys. He estimates that the Volantene fleet consists of between 300 - 500 dromonds, while their allies were already off Meereen: Yunkishmen and Astapors, men from New Ghis and Qarth and Tolos, even Meereen’s own warships, the ones that fled the city before its fall. On the way, Victarion's crew pick Moqorro. He heals Victarion's injured hand and soon becomes his confidant.
- In the TV show, Victarion's storyline is taken by Yara and Theon, who are planing to forge an alliance with Daenerys in order to take the Iron Islands from Euron for themselves and are likely to aid Daenerys in the battle to win her favor. In the novels, Asha (Yara's novel counterpart) and Theon are both prisoners of Stannis Baratheon, who is still alive and currently marching with his army to Winterfell, while Victarion has no ambitions of overthrowing his brother, no matter how much he hates him; some time later, however, Victarion changes his mind.
- The presumed-dead Jon Connington ("the griffin") and Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar and Elia ("the mummer's dragon"), who are revealed to be alive in the fifth novel, initially plan to travel to Meereen and meet Daenerys, but eventually travel to Westeros with the Golden Company, and do not get involved in the current events at the Slaver's Bay. Quaithe's warning about them seems to be more long-ranged than the other items.
The War Begins
Xaro comes to Meereen. He warns Daenerys that she has many enemies both in Slaver's Bay and the Free Cities, whose economy depends greatly on slavery. He tells that Yunkai has hired two legions from New Ghis and three companies of sellswords: the Company of the Cat, the Long Lances, and the Windblown; Tolos and Mantarys have formed an alliance with Yunkai against her, and the others may too; some say that the Wise Masters have bought the Golden Company as well (that part only proves to be false). Daenerys says she has made alliance with Lhazar, but that makes Xaro laugh, for everyone knows the Lhazareen are not warriors. Daenerys states "I spared Yunkai before, but I will not make that mistake again. If they should dare attack me, this time I shall raze their Yellow City to the ground." Xaro, unimpressed, answers "And whilst you are razing Yunkai, my sweet, Meereen shall rise behind you" - and Daenerys knows he is right.
Xaro offers Daenerys thirteen galleys without any price, providing that she leaves for Westeros. Daenerys is tempted to do so, but knows that thirteen ships will carry only a small fraction of her followers; the rest will be killed or enslaved again.
Daenerys tells Xaro she decides to stay. Xaro is furious, and threatens Daenerys: "Take these ships and sail away, or you will surely die screaming. You cannot know how many enemies you have made... I should have slain you in Qarth." Angrily, Daenerys orders him to leave immediately. The next day Xaro takes the ships and sails away, leaving Daenerys a "gift": a bloodstained glove on a black satin pillow. Daenerys knows the meaning of this - war.
Qarth is the first to perform hostilities toward Daenerys, by establishing a naval blockade: three Qartheen galleys sail up the Skahazadhan under the cover of darkness, closing the bay and the river too. Soon they are reinforced by other ships from New Ghis and Tolos, and by Meereenese warships and trading galleys whose captains had taken them to sea when Daenerys's host first laid siege to the city. The Qartheen have driven off a third of Meereen's fishing fleet and seized another third. The others are too frightened to leave port. What little trade the Meereenese still had, has been cut off.
Daenerys speaks with Hizdahr. She says she never wanted war, spared the Yunkai, never done the Qartheen any harm. Hizdahr explains "Not by intent, no, but Qarth is a city of merchants, and they love the clink of silver coins, the gleam of yellow gold. When you smashed the slave trade, the blow was felt from Westeros to Asshai. Qarth depends upon its slaves. So too Tolos, New Ghis, Lys, Tyrosh, Volantis... the list is long". He claims that he can stop nightly slaughter in the streets, and offers her to marry him and make peace with Yunkai. Daenerys makes Hizdahr an offer: "Give me ninety days and ninety nights without a murder, and I will know that you are worthy of a throne". He accepts.
The new contender
Unbeknownst to Daenerys, her nephew Aegon - the son of Rhaegar and Elia who was allegedly killed during the Sack of King's Landing - is alive; he has a significant military force under the command of his guardian Jon Connington (Harry Strickland is only the nominal commander of the company), and his claim to the Iron Throne is stronger than Daenerys's.
Aegon initially expects his aunt to come to Volantis; he is certain she will marry him, give him her armies and dragons, then they will travel to Westeros. Soon, however, he and Connington are informed that Daenerys is still in Meereen, and they cannot reach her due to the siege.
Aegon has no intention to assist Daenerys (perhaps he is unaware how desperate her position is); instead, he decides to act as Tyrion advised him earlier - to sail to Westeros. Strickland and Connington do not like the idea, but nearly all the officers are in favor. Soon they are on their way to Westeros, and do not take any part in the conflict between Daenerys and her enemies.
Cleon foolishly declares a war against Yunkai, although he is outnumbered and outarmed. Daenerys still refuses to ally with him. Soon the Astapor troops are defeated by Yunkai and its allies. The city is under siege, its residents resort to cannibalism or commit mass suicides. A deadly plague called "Bloody Flux" (also known as the "pale mare") roams in the streets, killing three people of every four. Finally, a mob of dying men goes mad (or potentially healthy men, running to escape the flux) and slays the guards on the main gate, opening them to the Yunkai troops. The besiegers sack the city, slaughtering the residents and setting fire everywhere. Quentyn Martell, among the Windblown sellwsords, witnesses firsthand the horrors of the battle.
Thousands of refugees, starved and sick, come out of their hiding places and exit the burning city. The sellswords are ordered to hunt them down and drive them either back to Astapor or toward Meereen, but not toward Yunkai.
Quentyn contemplates about deserting the Windblown, otherwise he and his escorts will find themselves fighting on the wrong side. To his surprise, the Tattered Prince, the Windblown commander, provides him the way: he assembles about twenty of the sellswords, among them Quentyn and his escorts, all of them of Westerosi origin, and orders them to head for Meereen and pretend to be deserters. He explains that he does not trust the Yunkai lords, therefore he intends to keep all roads open, to make certain that the Windblown should share in the spoils of victory, no matter who wins. Once the "deserters" reach Meereen, they will bring Daenerys his offer: the Windblown will take her side, and in return she will give them Pentos. Quentyn rejoices quietly, since the plan gives him a convenient opportunity to meet Daenerys.
The Second Sons Switch Sides
The naval blockade around Meereen tightens. At that point, Hizdahr manages to put a stop to the attacks of the Sons of the Harpy for 26 days. That places him under suspicion that he collaborates with them (maybe even their leader), but Daenerys's subordinates find no evidence for that.
Thousands of refugees from Astapor arrive, starved and sick, many of them are carrying the bloody flux. Daenerys realizes this is what Quaithe meant by "pale mare". Three of them tell Daenerys what has become of Astapor and its residents. Daenerys orders to keep the refugees outside of the city, to prevent the disease from spreading, and send them food and medicine. Despite the precautions Daenerys takes, the bloody flux spreads into Meereen, and many have been stricken: freedmen, sellswords, Brazen Beasts, Dothraki - but not the Unsullied.
Brown Ben Plumm, the commander of the Second Sons, reports that the Yunkai'i have been reinforced by more Ghiscari legions, and there are rumors that they intend to bring the Golden Company and a khalasar. He urges Daenerys to use Rhaegal and Viserion, but she reluctantly declines for a reason she cannot reveal (that she has lost control over her dragons). Ben suggests to sell Meereen to the Wise Masters and leave, and she refuses.
Daenerys asks Selmy for his opinion about fighting the Yunkai'i. He concludes that the situation is bad: her troops are outnumbered; her sellswords may switch sides (indeed, the Second Sons do that); her only allies are the Lhazareen; meeting the enemy on battlefield is a better choice than hiding behind the city walls, but she has plenty of domestic enemies - Sons of the Harpy and the noble families of Meereen, who will immediately rise against Daenerys once her troops are out of Meereen (just as Xaro said). Daenerys considers her options, and decides to marry Hizdahr.
Hizdahr arrives, after meeting with the Wise Masters, and tells her what are their conditions for peace. Unlike in the show, they do not come to Meereen and do not negotiate, but brazenly pose their terms:
- Daenerys must compensate the Yunkai'i and their allies for the losses they suffer as a result of the disruption of the slave trade.
- Yunkai will resume slaving, as before, and Astapor will be rebuilt, as a slave city. Daenerys must not interfere.
- Daenerys must marry Hizdahr.
Daenerys does not like those terms, especially the second, but decides to comply.
Daario returns and brings Daenerys more bad news: the Second Sons have switched sides. The hills are aswarm with Yunkish sellswords - now there are four sellsword companies, including the Second Sons; the Yunkai’i are marching their host up the coast road, joined by four legions out of New Ghis; they have a hundred armored and towered elephants, Tolosi slingers too, and a corps of Qartheen camelry; two more Ghiscari legions took ship at Astapor, planning to land beyond the Skahazadhan to cut Meereen off from the Dothraki Sea. Daario also reports that about twenty of Westerosi soldiers (these are the ones the Tattered Prince sent) defected from the Windblown and joined the Stormcrows, who are still loyal to Daenerys.
Daenerys is near despair to hear about the Second Sons' betrayal (she wonders is this is the "betrayal for gold" which she was warned of at the House of the Undying). She orders to close the gates and put every fighting man upon the walls. No one enters, no one leaves.
The enemies arrive and besiege Meereen: ships, whose number is never less than twelve, some days a hundred, bring more and more soldiers and wood. Behind their ditches, they build catapults, scorpions, and six trebuchets (the soldiers give them names - Dragonbreaker, Harridan, Harpy's Daughter, Wicked Sister, Ghost of Astapor, Mazdhan's Fist) - but no siege towers or battering rams, because they do not need to try to take Meereen by storm; Daenerys figures that her enemies will wait patiently behind their siege lines, flinging stones at Meereen until famine and disease bring the city to surrender.
The Windblown "deserters" are brought before Daenerys. Then, the three Dornish reveal themselves as Quentyn Martell and his escorts. Daenerys guesses Quentyn is "the sun's son" Quaithe meant. Quentyn hands Daenerys an old parchment - the secret pact that was sealed years ago between Willem Darry and Doran Martell. The alliance is to be sealed by a marriage: in return for Dorne's help overthrowing the Baratheons, Viserys was to take Prince Doran's daughter Arianne for his queen. Since Viserys is dead, Quentyn now offers himself as a husband for Daenerys in return for the support of Dorne.
Daenerys declines the offer, as gently as she can, explaining she is pledged to wed Hizdahr. She promises Quentyn that one day she shall return to Westeros to claim her father's throne, and look to Dorne for help, but at present the Yunkai'i have her city ringed in steel, and she must make peace with them.
The Peace Treaty
Daenerys marries Hizdahr. The Wise Masters are invited to the wedding, to sign the peace and witness the rebirth of Meereen’s far-famed fighting pits - what Daenerys has consistently forbidden so far. She feels great disdain of the whole thing.
The Yunkai'i, smug for forcing Daenerys to accept their terms, are in no hurry to strike their camps: the naval blockade has been lifted, but the Yunkai warships remain, and they have opened a slave market within sight of the walls of Meereen - undoubtedly a deliberate provocation, to make a show of how powerless Daenerys is to stop them. Daenerys is furious, but Hizdahr assures her the Yunkai’i will soon be gone, and their allies and hirelings with them, and as for the market - that was a condition of the peace treaty, that Yunkai would be free to trade in slaves as before, unmolested; Daenerys is not appeased.
Several Yunkish lords, among them the Yunkish Supreme Commander Yurkhaz zo Yunzak, attend the wedding. Also present are the Tattered Prince, Gylo Rhegan, Bloodbeard and Brown Ben Plumm - the respective commanders of the four sellsword companies which fight on behalf of Yunkai: the Windblown, the Long Lances, the Company of the Cat and the Second Sons. To guarantee their safety, Meereen sent seven of its own out to the siege camp: Hizdahr's sister and two of his cousins, Daenerys’s bloodrider Jhogo, her admiral Groleo, the Unsullied captain Hero, and Daario Naharis.
Ben Plumm approaches Daenerys. He apologizes for switching sides, explaining that his boys didn’t care to die, and when he told them that Daenerys couldn’t unleash the dragons against the Yunkishmen... Daenerys is furious for his betrayal, but cannot blame him for deserting.
Daenerys takes Quentyn to see the dragons. She gently urges him to return to Dorne, genuinely fearing for his safety. She warns him that Daario and Hizdahr may regard him as a rival and seek to do him ill. He declines, boldly but foolishly.
Selmy speaks with the Windblown "deserters". They inform him of their leader's offer: the Windblown will join Daenerys's cause, if she gives him Pentos. Although Daenerys desperately needs allies, she rejects the offer because Illyrio has always been her loyal friend and benefactor, and she will not repay him by giving his city to some sellsword.
Daenerys and Hizdahr arrive at the re-opened Fighting Pits. Unlike in the show, there is no open attack on Daenerys; instead, Hizdahr offers her honeyed locusts. Luckily, she declines, because the locusts are poisoned (as revealed later). Belwas eats a lot of the locusts, and soon becomes ill. Daenerys watches the fights, unimpressed. She is amused by the show of a couple of jousting dwarfs (Tyrion and Penny), but then Hizdahr tells her that they are about to loose the lions. Shocked at that cruelty, Daenerys forbids it, to the disappointment of Hizdahr and the spectators. Tyrion notices Selmy and considers revealing himself, but decides not to, fearing Barristan's dislike of Jaime would lead him to prejudice Daenerys against Tyrion.
The next bout is between a female warrior named Barsena Blackhair and a boar. The boar kills Barsena. It is then when Drogon arrives, being attracted by the blood and screams. Drogon unleashes fire on the boar and Brsena's body and devours them. An animal handler named Harghaz drives a spear into Drogon's neck, before the dragon kills him. Hizdahr yells to the other spearmen to kill the dragon. They attack Drogon, and he kills them. A general commotion erupts. As Belwas vomits, Daenerys rushes to help Drogon. She removes the spear from his neck, mounts him, and he flies away.
From this point, the events in Meereen are narrated from Selmy's POV.
Two hundred and fourteen people are killed in the pandemonium that ensues, three times as many burned or wounded; most die in the chaos to escape the Fighting Pits, but when Drogon passes over the Yunkish camp and they attempt to bring him down, the dragon, enraged at being attacked, retaliates with fire. Yurkhaz zo Yunzak is among the dead, trampled by the crowd. Drogon has gone from the city by then, last seen high over the Skahazadhan, flying north. No trace has been found of Daenerys. Some swear they saw her fall. Others insist that the dragon has carried her off to devour her.
After Daenerys's Departure
Hizdahr takes over Meereen. He does not even pretend to mourn Daenerys; he dismisses many of Daenerys's loyalists, among them Missandei and Skahaz Shavepate, and replaces them with his henchmen. He tries to do the same with the Unsullied, but Grey Worm, loyal to his queen even in her absence, informs him firmly that they are free men who take commands only from their mother.
Selmy, who is unsure whether he should serve Hizdahr, grows to suspect that he collaborates with Daenerys's enemies, the domestic (Sons of the Harpy) and foreign (the Wise Masters) alike, for all of them have common goals - to dispose of Daenerys and restore the slavery. He goes in his mind over the event at the Fighting Pits, and then recalls a suspicious detail: Hizdahr urged Daenerys to eat the poisoned locusts, but did not taste them himself.
Skahaz, who also suspects Hizdahr, tells Selmy that he has evidence Hizdahr tried to poison Daenerys: the man Hizdahr charged with providing the refreshments in the royal box was blackmailed by the Sons of the Harpy, who took his daughter hostage and threatened to kill her if he didn't help them. Skahaz also tells that a Volantene fleet (the one Victarion saw) is on the way to the Slaver's Bay. Once the fleet arrives, Daenerys's loyalists will not stand a chance: Hizdahr will open the city gates to them, and all those Daenerys freed will be re-enslaved, imprisoned or executed. He urges Selmy to overthrow Hizdahr and attack the Yunkai camps before the fleet arrives: break the siege, kill the slaver lords, turn their sellswords. He claims that the besiegers are in chaos: discipline has gone to rot; the lords are drunk more oft than not, gorging themselves at feasts, telling each other of the riches they'll divide when Meereen falls, squabbling over primacy; Bloodbeard and the Tattered Prince despise each other. Skahaz notes that all Daenerys's companies of freedmen are eager to fight, but to have any chance of victory, they need the Unsullied on their side and requests Selmy persuade Grey Worm to join them. Selmy agrees to do so.
The next day, three Wise Masters appear before Hizdahr, accompanied by Bloodbeard. Brazenly, Bloodbeard presents Groleo's severed head. Shocked, Selmy is certain that any of the kings he served (Jaehaerys, Aerys and Robert) would have responded very aggressively at such insolent provocation (Selmy notes that despite being very different men, all three would have had the Yunkish delegation killed on the spot for such an insult). Hizdahr, however, acts very meekly - which increases Selmy's suspicions against him.
One of the Yunkish lords states this is a payback for Yurkhaz's death. Hizdahr says weakly that the Wise Masters bear the responsibility for this breach of the peace. Another of the Yunkish lords states "Our peace has not been breached. Blood pays for blood, a life for a life. To show our good faith, we return three of your hostages". The three freed hostages are, quite conveniently, Hizadahr's relatives, while those are Daenerys's loyalists remain captives. Reznak asks about the remaining three hostages (Daario, Hero and Jhogo). The Yunkish lord answers: "The others shall remain our guests, until the dragons have been destroyed. No true peace is possible whilst they live".
Selmy talks with Quentyn and urges him, like Daenerys did, to leave Meereen, for his life is in danger: if Hizdahr indeed attempted to poison Daenerys, he may look for a scapegoat to blame, and everyone knows about Quentyn's uncle's reputation for using poison.
Hizdahr is Overthrown
Once Selmy is convinced enough that Hizdahr tried to poison Daenerys and that he collaborates with her enemies, he and more of Daenerys's loyalists conspire to overthrow Hizdahr. Skahaz urges to attack the Yunkai immediately, but Selmy refuses. He says "There is a peace, signed and sealed by Her Grace the queen. We will not be the first to break it. Once we have taken Hizdahr, we will form a council to rule in his place and demand that the Yunkai’i return our hostages and withdraw their armies. Should they refuse, then and only then will we inform them that the peace is broken, and go forth to give them battle." He also insists on rescuing Daario, Hero and Jhogo. Skahaz finally agrees, though reluctantly.
Ser Barristan confronts Hizdahr, demanding to know if he is the leader of the Harpy. Angry and frightened, Hizadahr calls his bodyguard Khrazz. Ser Barristan fights with Khrazz and kills him, then unceremoniously throws Hizdahr to prison.
Quentyn considers doing as Selmy suggested, but he knows that returning Dorne empty-handed will disappoint his father, and Arianne and the Sand Snakes will mock him for his failure. What bothers him most of all is that giving up his mission means that three of his escorts died in vain. Therefore, despite the warnings, he meets with the Tattered Prince - who deals very harshly with deserters, as everyone knows - and asks for his assistance to steal the dragons. The Prince agrees, but demands the same price he wanted from Daenerys - Pentos.
Quentyn, his escorts and several of the Windblown attempt to steal Rhaegal and Viserion. The plan is to feed them with a lot of meat, making them sedate and sluggish, then chain at least one of them and take them away. To Quentyn's dismay, he notices the dragons have freed themselves from their shackles. Nevertheless, he attempts to master them by using a whip, mimicking the way Daenerys cowed Drogon at the arena. The plan fails, as one of the Windblown shoots an arrow at Viserion. The arrow injures the dragon slightly, angering him. The dragons attack Quentyn and his escorts. The Windblown flee the scene. While trying to master Viserion, Quentyn makes the mistake of turning his back on Rhaegal, who attacks with fire; Quentyn suffers fatal burns from the dragon's breath, and dies of his injuries three days later. Quentyn's Dornish companions are thrown in prison: Skahaz wants them executed for killing four of his men in the break-in to capture the dragons, but Selmy refuses, envisioning another use for them.
The dragons terrorize the city, killing and eating people. They destroy the pyramid of Hazkar, then make the pyramids of Yherizan and Uhlez their lairs. Many members of those three noble families are killed, either by the dragons' fire or crushed under the debris; the survivors find themselves homeless and pennyless. Luckily, the fires are doused by rains before they spread to the rest of the city. Hundreds of people flee by ships, sailing for Yunkai, Tolos, Qarth, for any refuge that will have them. Many others have lost all hope and turned against the gods themselves, giving over their nights to drunkenness and fornication. In order to minimize the danger the dragons pose, Selmy orders to fill the fighting pits with large amounts of sheep and bullocks, which seems to satisfy the dragons and make them less eager to feast on human flesh.
Selmy, Grey Worm, Skahaz, Strong Belwas (who has finally recovered) and other Daenerys's loyalists form a ruling council to oversee Meereen till their queen returns. Selmy is appointed to the Hand of the Queen; he does not feel comfortable with that title, since it was not granted to him by Daenerys, but reluctantly accepts it because someone must take charge in her absence. The council takes immediate steps to prepare the city for battle: all the gates are closed and barred; any sellswords or Yunkai’i left inside the city are being hunted down, and are expelled or arrested, though most of them are hiding inside the pyramids; the Unsullied man the walls and towers, ready for any assault. There are two hundred highborn gathered in the square, standing in the rain in their tokars and howling for audience, demanding for Selmy to free Hizdahr and kill the dragons, but no one pays attention to them.
Shortly after Hizdahr's arrest, the Sons of the Harpy renew their shadow war, claiming much more victims than before - which strengthens the suspicion that Hizdahr is their leader. In addition to the sign the Harpy that they leave beside the bodies, as they did before, they also leave chalked messages like 'Dragons must die', 'Harghaz the Hero', 'Death to Daenerys'. Galazza Galare begs Selmy to release Hizdahr, that he will put a stop to the murders and make peace with Yunkai, but he insists that Hizdahr remains imprisoned until he is proved innocent.
A Plan of War
The council gathers. They do not have time to deal with the Sons of the Harpy; their first priorities are to fight the besiegers and release the three hostages. Unlike in the show, they have no intention of hiding behind the walls and waiting for the enemies to come. They know they must take action without delay, before the Volantene fleet arrives.
Selmy announces: "We have built a beacon atop the pyramid where once the Harpy stood. Dry wood soaked with oil, covered to keep the rain off. Should the hour come, and I pray that it does not, we will light that beacon. The flames will be your signal to pour out of our gates and attack. Every man of you will have a part to play, so every man must be in readiness at all times, day or night. We will destroy our foes or be destroyed ourselves". The council members discuss the situation thoroughly, and finally decide on a battle plan.
Selmy is asked "If the peace should fail and this battle should be joined, will the dragons come? Will they join the fight?". Selmy knows the answer: Viserion and Rhaegal will undoubtedly arrive, attracted by the noise of battle and the scent of blood, but it is likely they will attack both parties indiscriminately. In order not to demoralize the others, he answers somewhat evasively: "The dragons will do what the dragons will do. If they do come, it may be that just the shadow of their wings will be enough to dishearten the slavers and send them fleeing." Then the meeting is over.
Grey Worm lingers after the others leave, and asks Selmy what he plans to do about the hostages. Selmy assures Grey Worm he has a plan. He goes to the cell where Archibald and Gerris are held, and offers them and the rest of the Windblown prisoners freedom, on condition that they deliver a message to the Tattered Prince: "Tell him that I sent you, that I speak with the queen's voice. Tell him that we’ll pay his price if he delivers us our hostages, unharmed and whole." They agree.
At Missandei's advice, Selmy sends Galazza to the Yunkai camp, to offer ransom for the three hostages. It is likely that the Wise Masters will reject the offer, but the sellswords may be tempted by it, thus it will cause a division among the enemy ranks. As Selmy expected, the answer of the Wise Masters is "No amount of gold will buy your people back... Only the blood of dragons may set them free again". At that moment, Skahaz storms in, growling that the Yunkai'i use their trebuchets - but they do not throw stones (or fire missiles, as happened in the show) - but dead bodies. Selmy is content that the Yunkai has chosen war.
At the Yunkai camps
As Skahaz and the Tattered Prince described, the Yunkai camps are at chaos and disarray. The bloody flux has spread through their camps too, claiming many victims. The only Wise Master who could replace Yurknaz was Yezzan, but he contracted the disease and is lying near death. The other Yunkai lords are incompetent fools who bicker among themselves who will take command over their troops.
Tyrion figures it is only a matter of time before Yezzan dies, and his heirs will sell them. He tricks the guards into letting him, Penny and Jorah leave. They come to the camp of the Second Sons, where Ben Plumm is stunned to see Jorah. They join the company. Tyrion intends to make the Second Sons switch sides again.
The Iron Fleet Arrives
The Iron Fleet gets closer to Meereen. On the way, they catch additional ships. Victarion questions the sailors about Daenerys, and whoever tells him she is dead - is killed on the spot.
When the Iron Fleet grows to 61 ships, Victarion gathers his men and announces: "Every ship we capture makes us stronger, but from here it will grow harder. On the morrow or the day after, we are like to meet with warships. We are entering the home waters of Meereen, where the fleets of our foes await us. We will meet with ships from all three Slaver Cities, ships from Tolos and Elyria and New Ghis, even ships from Qarth." He is careful not to mention the Volantene fleet, that surely must be sailing up through the Gulf of Grief even as he speaks. "These slavers are feeble things. You have seen how they run before us, heard how they squeal when we put them to the sword. Every man of you is worth twenty of them, for only we are made of iron. Remember this when first we next spy some slaver's sails. Give no quarter and expect none. What need have we of quarter? We are the ironborn, and two gods look over us. We will seize their ships, smash their hopes, and turn their bay to blood." The ironborn shout in excitement about the battle they are going to take part in very soon.
Victarion consults with Moqorro about Dragonbinder. The priest examines the horn, reads the Valyrian glyphs on it, and explains Victarion how to use the horn without getting himself killed, as happened to the man who blew the horn at the kingsmoot.
Daenerys and the Dothraki
Daenerys wanders aimlessly somewhere at the Dothraki Sea. She can ride Drogon, but cannot make him take her back to Meereen. Suddenly she notices a lone Dothraki scout. He runs away when noticing Drogon. Daenerys rides Drogon to the direction the scout fled, and encounters Khal Jhaqo with fifty warriors.
The fifth novel ends at this point.
Part of the battle between the Yunkai troops and the defenders of Meereen (but not its outcome) is narrated by Selmy, Tyrion and Victarion in the released sample chapters of the sixth novel The Winds of Winter.
It is unknown whether Daenerys will return in time to take part in the battle, with Dothraki reinforcements, as happened in the show.
The battle is split in two, one out on the bay, another one beneath the city.
Victarion gives last instructions to the ironborn Wulfe One-Ear: he must get the trader and fisher ships they captured close to the slaver ships, while keeping his men hidden below decks till the last moment - then to attack the slavers by surprise, kill them and take possession of their ships. Victarion is upset that he will not be the first to strike a blow. Now, he intends not only to take Daenerys to himself, but also to overthrow Euron (what Aeron tried in vain to persuade him to do). He muses "With this [Dragonbinder] I'll win the Seastone Chair, and then the Iron Throne. With this I'll win the world."
Victarion chooses three burly oarsmen. Moqorro shows them the horn. Victarion tells the three that Cragorn, the man who blew the horn three times, died as a result. Each one of them will blow the horn only once, and if they survive - he will reward them generously. He dismisses them, then asks Moqorro about his visions. Moqorro's dark eyes seemed to shine "I see dragons".
The defenders of Meereen gather in marketplace: there are 5,000 Unsullied, 500 Stormcrows, a ragged band of about 20 dothraki and the pitfighters. The Shavepate’s beasts are manning the city walls in place of the unsullied. They will serve as the city's last line of protection if Selmy's attack fails and Daenerys has not returned. The attack will leave from three gates (north, south, and west). Their plan is to flank the legions, take out the trebuchets and burn the pavilions. The pitfighters will advance after the horse and focus on intimidation and slaughter. Finally, the Unsullied will line up outside the gate, which should be successful if the Yunkai'i do not mount an immediate counterattack.
Selmy leads the charge, riding on Daenerys's silver mare. He feels a bit uncomfortable doing so, regarding it as presumptuous action, but believes it is important to have some symbol of his queen around to improve morale among those who are loyal to her even in her absence. The Yunkai'i are totally unprepared, and Selmy closes in on the Harridan, the largest of the trebuchets. There are three horn blasts, and the pitfighters emerge from the gate behind them. They are 200, but make enough noise for 2,000.
Selmy has reached the Harridan, but a Ghiscari legion - 6,000 strong - protects it. At the last moment, Selmy turns away and heads for the Yunkish lord known as the Little Pigeon and his herons, whom he recognizes as the weakest of his immediate foes. In a moment, the herons are scattering and running away, led by the Little Pigeon himself. He trips over the fringes of his bird armor and is killed by the Red Lamb, Selmy's Lhazarene squire. The Unsullied begin marching through the gates. Selmy sees that the Yunkai'i have missed their chance to effectively launch a counterattack. More of the slave legions get slaughtered.
Suddenly, Selmy notices that there are much more ships in the harbor than yesterday. At first his heart sinks, thinking that the Volantene fleet arrived, but then he sees that some of the ships are crashing together, and that some of them have squids on their banners. He wonders "Has Balon joined with Joffrey, or the Starks?". He sees that ironborn are coming ashore, fighting the Yunkish, and says, surprised, "They are on our side!". The sellswords did not come to meet his charge because they were already preoccupied with the ironborn!
In the meantime, Tyrion is in the encampment of the Second Sons, awaiting his battle orders with the other men. The battle has already begun, and the dragons Rhaegal and Viserion are flying overhead. Viserion has the attention of the sellswords as he roasts and consumes the corpses being thrown by the Wicked Sister. The ironborn have arrived in Slaver's Bay. Tyrion recalls his first battle, and the Battle of the Blackwater.
A messenger arrives from the current Supreme Commander of the Yunkai'i, Gorzhak zo Eraz, demanding that the Second Sons defend the slaver ships from the ironborn. Brown Ben returns and calls a meeting with his captains, which Tyrion and Jorah attend, intending to make the Second Sons switch sides. Selmy is making for the Harridan, while Marselen's freedmen have defeated the Long Lances, destroying the Ghost in the process. Tyrion takes a moment to express his contempt for the Yunkish commanders in ordering the Long Lances (who were all mounted) to defend a single position.
The Windblown have turned their cloaks. A messenger from Morghar zo Zherzyn (replacing Gorzhak, who was killed by the Tattered Prince) commands the Second Sons are to take the Unsullied in the rear while Bloodbeard and the Company of the Cat hold them in place from the front. The messenger recognizes Tyrion and orders the Second Sons to surrender him, but Jorah kills him. Brown Ben Plumm declares that they have always been Queen's men, and joining the Yunkai'i was just a ploy.
This is as far as the sample chapters reveal about the battle. Generally, it appears that Daenerys's loyalists, reinforced by the ironborn, have the upper hand, and may win the battle even if Daenerys does not return with Dothraki troops by the time the battle ends.
Daario, Hero and Jhogo have not been rescued yet. It is unknown if they are still alive.
References and notes
- "Book of the Stranger"
- "Mother's Mercy"
- "The Door"
- "No One"
- The Golden Company, hired by Jon Connington on behalf of Aegon, travels to Westeros and does not take part in the battle.
- Note that in the books, the Second Sons and Stormcrows are two separate companies, while in the show they were combined. Daario is the leader of the Stormcrows (after killing the other two captains Prendahl and Sallor); the Second Sons are initially led by Mero, whom Barristan Selmy kills, and Brown Ben Plumm takes his place. The Second Sons betray Daenerys, but the Stormcrows remain loyal to her.
- It is hinted that khal Pono's khalasar will join Yunkai, but it does not happen by the end of the book.
- Although the suspicions against Hizdahr are very heavy, all the pieces of evidence which indicate his guilt are basically circumstantial. He may be innocent after all.