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Recap / A Thing Of Vikings Chapter 99 "Astride The World"

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Book 3, Chapter 31

…varied widely. In particular, while the relationships of East Asian humans with the local dragons was superficially more accepting than those of European and Mediterranean humans, the simple fact remained that the two species were in competition for food and other resources.

Generally speaking, the various cultures of the region—Nippon, Huáxià, Việt, Goryeo, Khmu, Java, and others—revered the dragons who lived in the plentiful volcanic peaks spread throughout their region of the world, often as divine or elemental in nature. This reverence did not prevent conflict between the humans and dragons, however. Either in spite of or because of their cultural status, dragon poaching was common throughout history, especially due to the medicinal values (perceived or actual) of a number of parts and extracts from various dragon breeds, and rates of poaching spiked notably in times of political instability.

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Likewise, the reverence shown by humans in some eras and locations could disarm a nest when the attitude reversed itself. More than one East Asian nest was devastated, if not wiped out entirely, in periods of famine when desperate humans raided the nest, as the dragons were not used to the dangers that humans could pose to them—or, worse, being acclimated to the presence of humans in the form of monks and monasteries established near the nest in acts of veneration. This particular cruel irony, that the monks who tended to and revered the dragons also led the human mobs to their targets, was not something that went unnoticed in various records, but it still happened repeatedly nonetheless.

Furthermore and most importantly, the human and dragon populations both needed the productivity of the land and sea to sustain their populations, and every population crash from the dragons gave the humans more room to expand into the vacated space—which they did, resulting in less room for the next generations of dragons. And this would lead to further conflict.

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In Zhōngguó, for example, farm raiding by hungry dragons could be and was seen as a sign that the reigning dynasty had lost the Mandate of Heaven. More than one Emperor reacted to this by attempting to bring the unruly servants of Heaven back into proper action, authorizing or even leading organized hunts. Some of these were more humane, intended to simply scare off the dragons from raiding livestock. Others were not. Legal attitudes towards dragons varied over time as well, with some dynasties having more protectionist attitudes towards dragons and passing wide laws protecting them, and others choosing a more narrow outlook. One major contributing factor of the events of the early Dragon Era was that the Song dynasty had passed a number of strict laws protecting various species in their lands, including dragons...

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—The Dragon Millennium, Manna-hata University Press, Ltd.

Tropes that appear in this chapter:

  • Ambiguously Bi: When asked if she's interested in men, Merida notes that her problem with past potential partners was more that she didn't want to be a lord's bedwarmer, as she appreciates how she and Cami do more than just play politics.
  • Altar Diplomacy: It is mentioned that several Eirish nobles married into or became concubines to members of the Hooligan Allied Clans.
  • Content Warnings:
    Chapter Trigger Warnings: Threat of Non-Con, Explicit Acts Of Violence (Berserkers again)
  • Cutting Corners: Defied. The Byzantine Army Paymasters lament the huge fuel costs in keeping their Broodery heated and think they can save a lot of money by packing the eggs more closely together. But Sigurd defies their attempts to cut corners because of Fishwings warning that they'd explode. That doesn't stop the paymasters from raising noise since as Spondyles said, Fishwings is a foreign woman, with extra emphasis on woman. Without hard proof, they don't consider her word enough to justify the extra costs.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Granted, Henry isn't exactly 'evil', but he immediately looks at the news that Stoick has adopted William from the perspective that this would give Berk justification to basically conquer Normandy if William died, rather than recognise that Stoick and Hiccup genuinely care about William as William rather than because of his title.
  • It Can Think: Stormfly, Mistletoe and Galloway (Merida's Nadder) each take part in their riders' target practice, shooting spines at the targets instead of arrows (Cami's Changewing doesn't join in only because he doesn't have the ability to do something like that).
  • Open Secret: Tuffnut and Mor having sex before bethrothal is not a secret, but everyone turns a blind eye because Tuffnut is Hiccup's friend.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Basically; Sigurd has lived among Christians for a couple of years and yet he hasn't learned about the Christian definition of Hell by this point.
  • Reality Ensues: Sigurd has to work on playing politics to justify how much money is being spent on the dragon nests, particularly since Sigurd can't offer personal justification for his claims but just second-hand evidence from an unaligned Norse woman who has every reason to be hostile to them.
  • Rule of Symbolism: In China, dragon attacks are considered symbolic of the emperor losing their heaven's mandate of their right to rule.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Half the reason the Byzantine Army Paymasters don't trust Fishwings warning of the eggs exploding is that she's a woman.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In cultural terms; Cami notes that the Bog Burglars were basically a tribe of refugees and rescues before Hiccup turned the world upside-down, and now they have a noble girl marrying into the tribe as it's considered a step up.


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