It's been a long decline for the Grand Old 'Pelago a.k.a. the Iron Islands. At one point, they were among the most powerful groups in Westerosi politics, owning all of the Iron Islands and the Riverlands. But in recent years, the Iron Islanders have been mostly confined to ranting about how awesome things used to be while launching raids on any neighbor in sight. The last leader of the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy, was a buffoon most famous for launching a disastrous war without securing enough allies or having a clear exit strategy. I'm not saying Balon's middle name was "Dubya," but he probably ran on a platform of "compassionate pillaging."
Enter Euron Greyjoy. On Game of Thrones and in the A Song of Ice and Fire books, Euron Greyjoy appears in the middle of the storyline almost out of the blue to become the new leader of the Iron Islanders. While fans initially thought of Euron as something of a clown—perhaps not unlike pundits initially thought of Donald Trump—with this week's release of a new chapter for George R. R. Martin's allegedly-forthcoming-but-he's-been-saying-that-for-years novel The Winds of Winter, it's clear that Euron could post a threat to all of Westeros.
"Released" is perhaps the wrong word. Martin read the chapter out loud at Balticon last weekend and dedicated fans transcribed the entire thing. The transcribed document, titled "The Forsaken," is filled with weird Lovecraftian elements and signals a somehow even darker turn for the world of Westeros.
Before getting into the new chapter, let's review the Trumpian rise of Euron Greyjoy.
The Iron Islands are the only part of Westeros that has something resembling an election. Instead of the throne passing from king to prince, the Iron Islands holds a "kingsmoot," where the captains elect the new leader. In both the books and the show, the election initially seems like it will go to Balon's heir, Yara Greyjoy (in the books Asha), just as everyone assumed Jeb Bush would easily take the GOP nomination (just as everyone, until recently, assumed Hillary would cake-walk over Trump to the presidency). Instead, Euron sails onto the scene, insulting his way to the kingship.
In the books, he brags about his enormous wealth—achieved not through sketchy real estate deals, but through pillaging around the world. In the TV show, he just brags about his dick. Sound familiar? Then he announces he's going to build 10,000 ships (and make the Lannisters pay for it?).
Is it a stretch to compare Donald Trump to Euron Greyjoy? Well, I don't believe that Trump has a ship full of mute and mutilated slaves, but there are some real parallels. In both cases, the outsider candidate doesn't seem to have any real loyalty or principles but just spouts whatever he thinks people want to hear. The die-hard conservatives of the GOP were horrified by Trump's constant breaches of orthodoxy and his willingness to insult past leaders like George W. Bush and John "He's Not a War Hero!" McCain. Similarly, Euron mocks the recently deceased—at his hands!—Balon Greyjoy, and, in the books, freaks out the ideological Aeron, who thinks Euron doesn't hold enough faith to be king.
But mostly, both men bluster their way to power by bragging about genitals and wealth while merely announcing they are going to make everything better without detailing any real plan. Trump will Make America Great Again by… who knows. He'll figure it out later. Euron will conquer all of Westeros for the Iron Born… somehow. Maybe with dragons if Daenerys likes his penis? Hard to say.
While Trump likely doesn't have secret evil magical plans, the new chapter makes it clear that Euron does. He may have bragged his way to power, but he's using the Iron Islanders to do some freaky things. (Warning: There be spoilers ahead.) The new chapter is told from the POV of his captured his brother, the religious leader Aeron. Euron forces Aeron to drink hallucinogenic nightshade where he experiences horrifying eldritch visions, which include Euron sitting on the Iron Throne surrounded by dead gods of every religion:
Impaled upon the longer spikes were the bodies of the gods. The Maiden was there and the Father and the Mother, the Warrior and Crone and Smith… even the Stranger. They hung side by side with all manner of queer foreign gods: the Great Shepherd and the Black Goat, three-headed Trios and the Pale Child Bakkalon, the Lord of Light and the butterfly god of Naath. And there, swollen and green, half—devoured by crabs, the Drowned God festered with the rest, seawater still dripping from his hair.
Another juicy nugget shows Euron donning a crazy suit of armor made entirely from Valerian steel! Valerian steel is the strongest and rarest metal, heretofore only seen in a handful of swords.
In all the Seven Kingdoms, no man owned a suit of Valyrian steel. Such things had been known 400 years ago, in the days before the Doom, but even then, they would've cost a kingdom.
Euron did not lie. He has been to Valyria. No wonder he was mad.
The chapter ends with Euron strapping priests and priestesses of different religions to the bows of his ship and sailing into battle against a fleet from the Reach. What is he doing with all these holy men? Probably something pretty damn evil. In fact, it may just signal a fan theory—popularized by the very smart ASOIAF blogger Poor Quentyn—that the Iron Islands subplot might involve the summoning of a Cthulhu-type Lovecraftian god. That's right, if White Walkers, zombies, dragons, and constant warfare weren't enough, there might be a stygian horror from the depths of the ocean wrecking havoc on the land.
Will Euron bend the world to his evil whims? Will Euron on the TV show cause a similar amount of eldritch horror? Will Donald Trump summon Cthulhu at the GOP convention? Whatever the case, people will be writing about it.
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