In the TV adaptation, Game of Thrones, in the third season in the seventh episode, Daenerys and her Unsullied are parked outside of Yunkai. The messenger from the city comes to offer them gold and ships if they are willing to go away.

Alas, the mother of dragons cannot see people in chains, so she decides to put an unreasonable ultimatum so she will destroy Yunkai.

The ambassador, in return, says that they have friends who will put her army to death with great pleasure. After he leaves, Daenerys speaks with Ser Mormont about these "friends". She asks who they might be, and he says that he doesn't know. Her reply is for him to find out.

How? How would he find out? Would he knock on the city doors and ask people who are the mercenaries kept on retainer by the city leaders? Will he take out his smartphone and search on Google (I bet there's reasonable reception nearby such a glorious city)? Or in a classic Mel Brooks moment, he'll take out the script and search for the answer in the script?

Okay, all the above are fairly preposterous. But it serves to illustrate the point. It doesn't seem reasonable that he can "find out" in any way that doesn't involve engaging in war with the mercenaries to begin with...

Can anyone give a plausible explanation as to how he found out the answer without resorting to the above options?

  • 4
    Ser Jorah is a former member of the Second Sons.
    – TLP
    Apr 6, 2014 at 23:26
  • Oh. I see. That explains a lot! (So he lied to Daenerys, or did he simply went for a short scout and saw some old faces?)
    – user24620
    Apr 6, 2014 at 23:33
  • I don't recall it being a secret in the books. Dany had individual parley with each of the sellsword leaders. Presumably they can still talk with each other by sending messages.
    – TLP
    Apr 6, 2014 at 23:45
  • 3
    You should read the books. As good as the TV-show is, the books are 10 times better, and last 10 times longer. Plus you miss out on lots of stuff like this, and bigger things, such as who Jon Snow's mother is.
    – TLP
    Apr 7, 2014 at 0:08
  • 1
    @CaptainLandoTucker I had a hard time with the first few chapters of AGOT, but once it got to the incident at Darry, when Nymeria mauls Joffrey, I could not put the books down. And the thing about these books is that they contain lots and lots of hints about other things, so you can re-read them many times.
    – TLP
    Apr 7, 2014 at 15:13

3 Answers 3


About 5 minutes into the next episode: episode 8, season 3, Daenerys, Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan are standing behind some rocks looking at a group of warriors riding by:

Daenerys: Do you know them?
Ser Jorah: Only by the broken sword on their banners (*). They're called the Second Sons. They're lead by a bravoosi named Mero -- the Titan's Bastard.

(*) Confirmed on the wiki: The banner of the Second Sons is a broken sword.

So that is the answer in the TV-show, clearly: They find out in the next episode when Ser Jorah recognizes them. Back when Daenerys first asked Ser Jorah, there was no one there but the emissary from Yunkai, so he could not see them to recognize them.

Ser Jorah has spent a long time in Essos, selling his sword and travelling. He has lots of knowledge about Essos culture and factions. This is known from very early in the books, when we get to know Ser Jorah's tragic history. But I do not believe it is until A Dance with Dragons that we hear that he was once riding with the Second Sons.

I do not have a relevant quote to prove it, and I do not believe there is a good, short quote, but it is clearly described in Jorah's wiki page. It was more of a thing of Ser Jorah and the captains recognizing each other.

To be clear, just because Ser Jorah's affiliation with the Second Sons is in the books does not mean it should be in the TV-show, and Ser Jorah never lied to Dany about it in the books.

  • Excellent! Thank you.
    – user24620
    Apr 7, 2014 at 17:36
  • 1
    I know I'm a bit late in this but I don't think the books ever say that Jorah was a member of the Second Sons. He only says he was a sellsword for a while. The wiki page mentions the affiliation because he joins them after being exiled by Daenerys from Mereen, and he recognizes the captains because he had contacts with them when they were all serving Daenerys.
    – Arnaud D.
    Apr 16, 2016 at 15:32

Daenerys isn't asking Ser Jorah to find out directly, she has just informally given him an order to reconnoiter information about the Yunkai's friends.

Remember, they haven't begun laying siege to the city yet, as they have only just discussed terms. The Yunkai have obviously hired the Second Sons in anticipation of Daenerys so they will have been established at that position for some time; either that, or they are on retainer and have been there even longer.

Mercenaries would surely need to operate by reputation, so their achievements and standing will be naturally circulated throughout the city. After Ser Jorah obtains some basic intel, he knows enough even to be able to counter some Hubris from Mero:

Mero: "The Second Sons have faced worse odds and won."

Jorah: "The Second Sons have faced worse odds and run."

Now think of the amount of tradesmen, slaves, farmers. sailors etc. who will have been wandering in and out of the city all of whom will have heard about the encampment of warriors. Jorah doesn't need to go wandering through any camps anymore than the secretary of defense does if the President were to issue him a request for information.

The only reason Jorah doesn't know who they are in the meeting, is because they have just arrived and he clearly takes instruction from the Khaleesi directly. He has only now been asked to find out, and as we can see by the quote above, it doesn't take him long to find out a great deal.

The information will be freely available and obtainable from any number of assets, and in the case of The Second Sons, their bravado would indicate they promote their own reputation, actively.

  • That makes a lot of sense. It really bothered me for a long time now!
    – user24620
    Apr 7, 2014 at 14:12
  • In the movies, at least, guards tend to spill their guts once you get a few beers in them...
    – Omegacron
    Jun 4, 2014 at 21:18

There are camp followers of armies which can more or less come and go freely. It is not unexpected that Ser Jorah disguised himself (or or one of his lackies) and wandered into their camp to ask questions. Or he found/captured/tortured a camp follower of the mercenaries and questioned him.

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