In my series on Tyrion in ADWD, I talked a lot about the relationship between his inner struggle and the political/cultural struggles he was passing through, from the Shy Maid to the Sorrows, from Volantis to Meereen. And it occurred to me early on that there’s another character in ADWD with a dynamic like that.
Of course, Davos isn’t circling the abyss like Tyrion. Where the latter’s ASOS arc ended in soul-shattering horror, Davos’ ended in triumph: the rescue of Edric Storm, the Night’s Watch, and Stannis’ soul. (For now, anyway…) But that doesn’t mean there’s no tension to be resolved in Davos’ ADWD narrative. It just means the tone and themes of that self-questioning are different; instead of the Void of Tyrion’s chapters, we get an attempt at balance.
Our hero is two people. He is Lord Seaworth, Hand of the King, and he is Davos of Flea Bottom. He is the Admiral of the Narrow Sea, yet also a smuggler who dodged men with such titles all his life. He speaks with the king’s voice, but his accent is that of the man who married Marya with no hope of knighthood for their sons. His ADWD arc is a symbolic externalization of that struggle; the places Davos goes, the characters he meets, and the debates he takes part in are all (to borrow a phrase from @anotherdoomedpretender) a psychodramatic stand-in for his inner turmoil. They are a North-hued reflection of his “human heart in conflict with itself,” so strongly that I could almost believe this is all a Wizard of Oz/Mulholland Dr. dream sequence where Davos is wandering the corridors of his own subconscious, working through his self-conception on a metaphorical level. This series will examine the the vivid, resonant imagery, philosophically dense dialogues, and deeply moving inner monologues (including the one he writes down) that support this construct, one post per chapter.
Where I argued that the psychological subject of Tyrion’s ADWD plot was depression, and in passing that trauma was the focus of Theon’s, I think the central one here is remembering–not just memory, but the affirmative act of remembering. From Godric Borrell’s proud invocation of the Robert’s Rebellion era to Davos’ nostalgia for his teenage days in White Harbor, from Manderly loyalty to the Starks to the bloody history of the Wolf’s Den…to steal again from Faulkner, the past is never dead, it’s not even past. Or to put that another way:
Some things never change. Inside the Eel, time stood still.
An amazing ASOIAF meta series by the talented @poorquentyn about one of my favorite characters: Davos Seaworth. His FeastDance arc is an externalization of his inner self-conceptualization as both smuggle and Hand of the King. Go read it. It’s phenomenal.