Siege of Astapor

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Siege of Astapor
Conflict Targaryen campaign in Slaver's Bay
Date 300 AC
Place Astapor
Result Astapor sacked and burned
Migration of survivors
Astapori freedmen Yunkai
New Ghis
Cleon the Butcher King
King Cleon the Second
King Cutthroat
Queen Whore
Yunkai Wise Masters
Tattered Prince
Unsullied defenders Yunkish slave soldiers
Company of the Cat
Legions from New Ghis

The siege of Astapor takes place prior to the Yunkish march to Yunkai for provisions and fresh horses and thence to lay siege to Meereen, the city ruled by Queen Daenerys Targaryen.


The Yunkai, in their fight against Daenerys Targaryen, contract the Windblown mercenary company from Volantis; their first task is to travel east to Slaver's Bay and take over Astapor from the freed former slaves.[1][2]

By the time the Windblown scramble from the ships that have brought them from Old Volantis they hear the news that King Cleon the Butcher King is dead, King Cleon the Second is also dead, and the Astapori are now ruled by King Cutthroat and Queen Whore.

Meanwhile, the forces of Yunkai and its allies and other sellsword companies have besieged Astapor. They devour the Astapori crops and slaughter their herds. Inside, the Astapori starve; and resort to eating cats and rats and leather, with a horsehide considered a feast. King Cutthroat and Queen Whore accuse each other of feasting on the flesh of the slain. Men and women gather in secret to draw lots and gorge upon the flesh of those who draw the black stone.

The pyramid of Nakloz is despoiled and set aflame by those who claim that Kraznys mo Nakloz is to blame for all their woes. Others blame Daenerys but many still love her. There are rumors that King Cleon sent for Daenerys and she is coming. Every day the citizens tell each other that Daenerys is on her way, at the head of a great host, with food for all. There are other rumors that she has been seen mounted on a dragon flying high above the camps of the Yunkai'i. Every day the citizens look for her.

Inside the desperate city the Green Grace has a vision that dead King Cleon will deliver Astapor from the Yunkai. The despairing Astapori heed this vision and attempt to break the siege, making the disastrous decision to have Cleon’s corpse disinterred and strapped onto the back of a starving horse to lead Astapor's new and vastly inferior Unsullied on a sortie outside the city’s gates.[3]


The battle begins at dawn when the new Unsullied march out the city’s gates on the sortie against the forces of Yunkai and its allies and sellswords.

Some of the Windblown are asleep when the battle commences so they must quickly don their armour. Three hundred yards away Astapor’s Unsullied pour through the gates and form up in ranks beneath Astapor’s crumbling red brick walls. Quentyn Martell, Ser Archibald Yronwood, and Ser Gerris Drinkwater join the Windblown horse line as drums beat in the distance. Gerris points out to Quentyn the Butcher King, sitting tall upon an armored horse in a suit of copper scale that flashes brilliantly in the sun.

As the Astapori advance the Yunkishmen are still running about in fluttering tokars trying to get their half-trained slave soldiers into some semblance of order as Unsullied spears oame crashing through the Windblown siege lines. The Windblown and the Company of the Cat are ahorse in minutes, however, and come thundering down on the Astapori flanks even as a legion from New Ghis pushes through the Yunkish camp from the other side and meets the Unsullied spear to spear and shield to shield. The rest of the battle is butchery.

It is Caggo who finally cuts the Butcher King down, fighting through the king's protectors on his monstrous warhorse and opening Cleon the Great from shoulder to hip with one blow of his curved Valyrian steel arakh. It is claimed that Cleon’s copper armour rent like silk, and from within came an awful stench and a hundred wriggling grave worms. Cleon had been dead after all - the desperate Astapori had pulled him from his tomb, clapped him into armour, and tied him onto a horse in the hopes of giving heart to their Unsullied. The act of cutting the Butcher King down earns Caggo the name Corpsekiller.

Dead Cleon’s fall breaks the Astapori Unsullied; they throw down their spears and shields and run, only to find the gates of Astapor shut behind them. Slaughter follows; the Windblown ride down the frightened eunuchs, slashing right and left through the Unsullied.

When the Windblown burst out the other side, the Tattered Prince wheels them round and leads them through again. It is only on coming back that Quentyn has a good look at the faces beneath the spiked bronze caps and realises that most are not older than he – green boys screaming for their mothers, but he kills them all the same. By the time he leaves the field his sword runs red with blood and his arm is so tired he can hardly lift it.

Quentyn later thinks to himself that the fight beneath the walls of Astapor seemed real enough to him but according to Denzo D'han, the veteran of a hundred battles, it was butchery, not battle.

Fall and Aftermath

After the defeat of the Unsullied the Green Grace is impaled upon a stake in the Plaza of Punishment and left until she dies. In the pyramid of Ullhor, the survivors have a great feast that lasts half the night, and they wash the last of their food down with poison wine so none need wake in the morning.

Soon after comes the sickness, the bloody flux that kills three men in every four, until healthy men slay the guards at the main gate. The guards are torn apart and the gates thrown open. The legions of New Ghis come pouring into Astapor, followed by the Yunkai’i and the sellswords on their horses. When the city fall the butchery begins.

The Temple of the Graces is full of the sick who have come to ask the gods to heal them. The legions seal the doors and set the temple ablaze with torches. Within the hour fires begin in every corner of the city, joining one another as they spread. The streets are full of mobs, running this way and that to escape the flames, but there is no way out, for the Yunkai’i sealed the broken gates to keep the dead and dying inside the city.

Riding through the city Quentyn Martell sees a river choked with corpses and the Green Grace in her torn robes, impaled upon a stake and attended by a cloud of glistening flies. Dying men stagger through the streets, bloody and befouled, children fighting over half-cooked puppies. There are flames and fires everywhere., whirling from brick pyramids larger than any castle Quentyn has ever seen, plums of greasy smoke, coiling upward like great black snakes.

Soon there is nothing left in Astapor but corpses. What Astapori that still survive creep out of their hidey-holes and pour out into the countryside, hundreds of them, maybe thousands, all starved and sick – many have the bloody flux. The Yunkai'i command the sellswords to hunt them down and turn them, driving them back to Astapor or north to Meereen to prevent the Astapori from going near the Yellow City.

Daenerys Targaryen receives the news of the fall from three escaped Astapori: a brickmaker, a weaver and a cobbler.[3] Afterwards she goes out to her terrace and it seems to her that the sky is darker to the southwest, smudged and hazy with the smoke of the Red City’s passing.

The Tattered Prince takes the lion’s share of the Windblown's Astapori plunder.

Quentyn reflects to himself that the sights he saw riding down the red brick streets of Astapor will haunt him forever and that the Red City was the closest thing to hell he ever hopes to know.


We were dancing with cripples at Astapor.[2]
- Beans, on the siege of Astapor

References and Notes

  1. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
  2. 2.0 2.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 25, The Windblown.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 30, Daenerys V, pages 398-402.

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