I meant to write about time before Game of Thrones season 7 started but I neglected it as usual. Now, I'm trying to explain times again...
On one of Akasan's videos, someone said:
Riddle me this:
As the episode "Stormborn" implies, let's assume Jon Snow, Grey Worm and Yara/Ellaria left at approximately the same time for their respective destinations. Winterfell is about 1500 miles from Dragonstone (the same distance as King's Landing); a 25 day ride by horse and about half that time by sea (let's say an even two weeks). If I measured correctly, The distance from Dragonstone to Casterly Rock (by sea) is almost three times that distance or about 4000 miles. By sea, let's be nice and say this took about 5 weeks for Grey Worm to accomplish.
Since Daenerys is informed of Yara/Ellaria's capture the same time Jon Snow arrives, we can logically say approximately two weeks have passed. Now explain to me how it is possible for Euron to have delivered Ellaria to King's Landing in the next scene AND sail around Westeros in time to intercept Grey Worm's fleet? Furthermore, since the same episode (Stormborn) implies Grey Worm and Yara left at the same time, how is it possible they would not sail together until at least Dorne since they are heading in the same direction and sailing through enemy territory?
This is my reply...
First of all, a quote from GRRM from the books...
A Note on Chronology
A Song of Ice and Fire is told through the eyes of characters who are sometimes hundreds or even thousands of miles apart from one another. Some chapters cover a day, some only an hour; others might span a fortnight, a month, half a year. With such a structure, the narrative cannot be strictly sequential; sometimes important things are happening simultaneously, a thousand leagues apart.
I know the books are different from the TV show, but I quote this still if only to show that, at the very least, time in between scenes, time in one location and the next location, time from the beginning of an episode to its end, and time at the end of one episode to the beginning of the next episode, can not be easily ascertained. Further, scenes in the episode(s) may not be strictly sequential. (I expect the flow of the narrative and, particularly, transitions from one scene to the next, takes precedence over strict chronological sequencing.)
For the particular things you mentioned, would it really be accurate to assume Jon Snow, Grey Worm, and Yara left at approximately the same time? And would it be accurate to take the estimate of travel time from Winterfell to Dragonstone, and apply it to travel between other places? Maybe not.
The only measure of time we can "rely on" are those specifically mentioned (or shown) in the scenes. And I say "rely on" in quotes because we should also keep in mind that writers may have overestimated the speed of things, or the characters were being too confident. =P
- Grey Worm leaves "tomorrow" from that night spent with Missandei. ;)
- Jon mentions in his meeting with the Northern Lords that he received the raven from Dragonstone "a few days ago".
- His plan is to "ride to White Harbor tomorrow," then sail to Dragonstone from there (the winds were kind to them).
- Cersei asks Tycho from the Iron Bank to "give me a fortnight" (2 weeks) and promises her debt will be fully paid when he returns to Braavos. (writer's overestimation or Cersei's overconfidence?)
The best we can do is try to figure out which scenes happened non-sequentially, and which happened simultaneously.
If we are going to question time, I will be more concerned about Cersei's "give me a fortnight" because it specifies a very limited time to accomplish things. Whereas, we are given more leeway to stretch in our imagination, the time needed by Grey Worm and Euron to travel, because it is unspecified.
Let's examine Cersei's fortnight. What does she hope to accomplish in 2 weeks?
When she talks with Tycho, she has just gotten up from bed with Jaime. Jaime is still at King's Landing. In the fortnight, Jaime needs to travel by land to go to Highgarden and lead the Lannister forces to take it. Is it humanly possible? Or is this writer's overestimation/Cersei's overconfidence?
Perhaps Cersei expected to take over Highgarden of the fortnight, and just talk her way to convince Tycho to extend his wait for the gold as it travels from Highgarden to King's Landing. If she fully expected that it will only take a fortnight for Jaime to travel to Highgarden, meet up with the Lannister and Tarly forces there, take Highgarden, then travel back to King's Landing with a caravan carrying gold, then I think she expects so much from Jaime. His work is cut out for him.
And I'm being generous here, saying that Jaime is expected to only travel to Highgarden and meet up with the Lannister forces there. If she also expects Jaime to travel all the way to Casterly Rock and lead the Lannister forces from there to Highgarden, then back to King's Landing with the gold within that fortnight, she must think Jaime and their armies are superhuman. ;)
So, it is probably safe to say that it is the former that is expected. After all, it is very possible that the plan to bring the Lannister forces to Highgarden was already in place since episode 1 after Cersei and Jamie talked on their newly painted map. A raven could have been immediately sent to Casterly Rock so preparations for the move can be started (empty the larders, etc.), and perhaps Bronn was sent there to lead the armies out to the vicinity of Highgarden to wait for Jaime.
As for the events outside of Cersei's fortnight, we can be forgiven for expecting time to be a little more flexible.
After Dany's war council, I don't expect that Grey Worm, Yara/Ellaria, and Lady Olenna left all at the same time.
- Lady Olenna probably left first (short trip to the mainland, then by land the rest of the way to Highgarden). She and prepares the army for the seige of King's Landing, Lannister forces arrive and take over. I expect this take over occurs close to the end of Cersei's "fortnight".
- Grey Worm probably leaves next (the next day to that sweet night with Missandei, which could be anywhere from immediately after to a few days from the war council). I expect preparation of the Unsullied ships for departure was of higher priority than preparation of Yara's fleet because the former is expected to reach a farther target (Casterly Rock) than the latter (Dorne). This would give the Unsullied ships some days' head start to Yara's fleet. As for their speed of travel, perhaps their ships employs a combination of sails and oars? Would that make them travel faster? In any case, the Unsullied ships "will be there [Casterly Rock] soon" when Dany plans to find Euron's ships with her dragons to retaliate. They were probably close to halfway (maybe a third of the way) there when Yara's fleet was attacked.
As for Jon, he doesn't decide on Tyrion's message until a few days after receiving it. And his travel time may not be very comparable to Grey Worm and Yara's because he travels partly by land and partly by water. In any case, he arrives at Dragonstone probably some days after the attack on Yara's fleet because Varys sees one of the supposed 2 or 3 ships that escaped, on Jon's way up to the castle. We don't know how many days it took for this ship to get back to Dragonstone. We don't know whether it had to take a longer route from the point of attack to Dragonstone in the hopes of avoiding any more of Euron's ships. We don't know how much damage it had that could have affected its speed to travel back. I point these out because it may very well be that by the time Varys sees this ship from the cliffs, it has already been days since Euron has set sail after Grey Worm.
And this ship is not the same ship that picks up Theon. That ship may have escaped, then returned to or near the point of attack to pick up any survivors. If the point of attack is somewhere near the route Euron's ships will take to go after Grey Worm, it may very well be that they have already passed long before Theon was picked up.
To be clear, I expect that when Yara's fleet was attacked, Grey Worm was so much ahead of her, probably a third of the way to Casterly Rock already (at or past Dorne/Sunspear), and Lady Olenna was probably halfway to Highgarden already. Also at that time, the Lannister forces were probably setting out from Casterly Rock to Highgarden. Jon may still have been on his way to White Harbor.
Euron would then go to King's Landing immediately to present Cersei with his gift. Then leave more or less immediately to go after the Unsullied. (Since Cersei now accepts Euron to serve as her naval commander, she will send him off to Casterly Rock which she fully expects will be attacked by Tyrion.) During this time, that one ship will be travelling (evading), maybe slowly if it is damaged to some extent, on its way to Dragonstone and will miss Euron's ships as they go back out that way. The ship that later picks Theon up is probably evading as well, and will come back towards or near the point of attack to pick up survivors probably sometime after Euron's ships go back out that way. Perhaps at this time, the Unsullied is halfway to Casterly Rock. Lady Olenna is more than halfway (3/4?) to Highgarden. Jon is probably at White Harbor, getting ready to set out for Dragonstone.
Cersei, meanwhile, may have waited a few days (or a week or so) before she decided to apply her Queen's Justice to Ellaria and her daughter. We don't know. What we do know is that she apparently got turned on by her idea of justice and went to Jaime after. The next day, it seems, she promised to pay the Iron Bank in a fortnight. Perhaps, by this time, Euron, being "the greatest captain of the 14 seas", is able to sail much faster and catch up to Grey Worm. Maybe Grey Worm is 2/3 to 3/4 of the way to Casterly Rock, and Euron about halfway there. Maybe this is the time Jon arrives at Dragonstone, and the time that one ship also arrives with news of the attack. Also at this time, Jaime sets out for Highgarden, to meet up with his forces (under Bronn) who are probably halfway there already, and the Tarlys. Lady Olenna is almost home.
By the time Dany meets with Tyrion, Varys, and Missandei, the Unsullied are expected to be "almost there" at Casterly Rock.
When Grey Worm starts the infiltration, Euron has caught up. At about the same time, Jaime has met up with the Lannister forces, Bronn, and the Tarlys, and is taking them to Highgarden. Lady Olenna is there and sees the Lannisters approaching. I expect this is happening more than halfway through or towards the end of Cersei's "fortnight".
I highly expect you and many others will reject all this because I don't give any specific time frames. But I purposely did that precisely because, as I said, times cannot be easily ascertained. So in my mind, times are flexible enough to accommodate whatever needs to happen (I mean distances to cover) within each landmark I mentioned. The only exception to this is Cersei's "fortnight" which I prefer to blame on the writers (overestimation) more than on Cersei.
1. I disagree with the assumption that Grey Worm and Yara left Dragonstone at the same time. It is very likely that Grey Worm left earlier (maybe by a few days) precisely because they have a farther target, giving them some days' head start compared to Yara.
2. Also disagree with the estimation that Jon Snow's travel time is 2 weeks, and that that is comparable to travel between other places. It is very likely that by the time Jon Snow arrived at Dragonstone, Euron has long presented Cersei with his gift, and long set sail again after the Unsullied. He might have been halfway to Casterly Rock by then (and the Unsullied about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way there). Being 'the greatest captain of the 14 seas', it is possible Euron can sail so much quicker than Grey Worm and catch up.
Btw, it is important to note here that scenes in the episode(s) may not be strictly sequential. That is, the flow of the narrative and, particularly, transitions from one scene to the next, takes precedence over strict chronological sequencing. Meaning, for example, Jon may have arrived at Dragonstone in the scenes before Euron presented Cersei with his gift, but it may very well be that the former takes place after the latter, chronologically.
I call this the rushed version because I originally wanted to study travel times (by foot, by horse, by armies, etc.) and measure all distances between the different places in Westeros (any beyond), in order to explain all the 'fast' things that happened at the end of season 6 (Battle of the Bastards - how the army of the Vale magically appeared, and Varys's travel to Dorne and back to Meereen, etc.). But I failed to do all that. =P In this, I only tackled the events in season 7, episodes 2 to 3 (and a little 1).