Again, I wonder why the recent pop culture obsession with blood magic, and I think that perhaps I’m just noticing it, and it’s been there longer than I realized…
This line struck me, from A Game of Thrones, after Dany wakes up and realizes that the price she paid in her desperation was way too high:
She told herself that all things of importance in a man’s life must be done beneath the open sky. She told herself that there were powers stronger than hatred, and spells older and truer than any the maegi had learned in Asshai. The night was black and motionless, but overhead a million stars burned bright. She took that for an omen. (666-667)
The maegi represents those who used blood magic to interact with demonic forces – she calls them real, but Mormont is not so sure, calling them shadows – and thus she is the sort of force that the planet wants to shake free from. The Dothraki represent different forces, honesty, openness, perhaps, but they are still not the sort of force that the planet wants, as their is no balance, and they keep slaves. The Westerosi (represented at their worst by both Joffrey and Cersei and Ned and Robb Stark, with the cruelty and obsession with familial love and honor overwhelming that same sort of balance that the planet seems to favor) are no model either.
Dany, then, and John Snow are the forces of the new planet, and their warginess and close communication with beasts (and empathy, as they are the two who try to both live up to more humane principles – Dany with the slaves and John trying to make peace with and help resettle the wildings) that are both pragmatic and balanced, perhaps, and new models.
If, as some have surmised, Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is devoted to some sort of rethinking of the traditional fantasy story in a way that is earth-balanced (and in a way that I don’t think Tolkien, despite his love of the Ents and the Elves as somehow being closer to Eden, could imagine), then he doesn’t have to have any redeeming characters at all. He puts both John and Dany through hell, and we don’t know that John survives the multiple wounds he receives at the end of the A Dance with Dragons. If Martin finishes The Winds of Winter and then finally completes the series with A Dream of Spring, then who knows where we’ll finish, but I’m starting to think that my early assessment of him having no idea how to finish this was absolutely wrong.