‘Game of Thrones’ Dishonors The Great Legacy Of Braavos

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Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Season 7
Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Season 7 HBO

Last week’s episode of Game Of Thrones finally delivered on the long-awaited meeting of Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons and Jon Snow…

But who cares about that? It is another scene that is of far more import. At King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister, widow of the Usurper, meets with Tycho Nestoris, a representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos. In their discussion of the great debt that the crown owes the bank, Tycho threatens to support Daenerys’ claim to the throne. In response, Cersei disparages the idea of investing in Dany given her freeing of slaves and thus harming the slave trade. An argument that Tycho agrees with.

I’d hope that you all are shaking with anger by now, but if not, let us have a little Braavosi history lesson. Braavos, the wealthiest and most powerful of the nine free cities of Essos, was founded by escaped slaves. Taking control of the Valerian slaving vessels that imprisoned them, they sailed north and founded the city of Braavos. Together they vowed that ‘no man, woman or child would ever be a slave, thrall, or bondsman.’ Their vow became the first law of Braavos, and is engraved on an Arch over the long canal. Given that the first law of their city is to fight slavery wherever it is found, I find it hard to believe that the Iron Bank of Braavos would have their hands in the Slave trade. But Braavosi anti-slavery policies do not end there.

In fact, over the last two hundred years, Braavos fought six wars against the free city of Pentos over their participation in the slave trade. At the end of the final war, Braavos forces Pentos to free their slaves and abolish the slave trade. This does not seem like the kind of place that would be upset over a downturn in the slave trade does it? In fact it is clear to see through Braavosi history that the greatest truth about Braavos is their opposition to slavery.

I would be hard pressed to think of a power in Game of Thrones or in the real world that has such a clear, pure national identity and Benioff and Weiss, the showrunners of Game of Thrones and writers of Season 7 Episode 3 The Queen’s Justice, surely know this. Yet they chose to rewrite that history for the sake of a joke about a bank being worried about their slave trade income. Braavos and Dorne are my two favorite places in A Song of Ice and Fire, it is unfortunate that both have been the places to suffer most under HBO’s adaptation. I guess I will have to wait until The Winds of Winter to revisit the true Braavos.

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