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  1. I still haven't finished GRRM's first novel, The Dying of the Light. But I've wondered whether the word valonqar is related to words he created for that sci-fi novel: Kavalar and Kavalan. High Kavalan is the name of a planet that had a cataclysm of some kind or a series of cataclysms (including a variety of plagues), destroying parts of its civilization and leading to social practices that involve men bonding with other men and two men bonding with one woman. I suspect Kavalan is supposed to be the opposite or a distorted mirror image of another planet in the novel, Avalon. The history and literary buffs in this forum recognize the name Avalon as originating in the tales of King Arthur as the name of an island paradise. Here is a passage from The Dying of the Light that seems directly addressed to the OP here and to the discussion about why that one word - valonqar - was uttered using the old language while the rest of the prophecy and the presentation by the man from Tyrosh was delivered in the common tongue: “These matters of courtesy and address – I do not need Jaan to tell me that they are old things, legacies of days both more elaborate and more primitive, dying in this modern time. Today Kavalars sail ships from star to star, talk and trade with creatures we would once have exterminated as demons, even shape planets as we have shaped Worlorn. Old Kavalar, the language of the holdfasts for thousands of your standard years, is scarcely spoken anymore, though a few terms linger on and will continue to linger, since they name realities that can be named only clumsily or not at all in the tongues of the star travelers – realities that would soon vanish if we gave up their names, the Old Kavalar terms. Everything has changed, even we of the High Kavalaan, and Jaan says that we must change still more if we are to fulfill our destiny in the histories of man. Thus the old rules of names and namebonds break down, and even highbonds grow lax in their speech, and Jaantony high-Ironjade goes about calling himself Jaan Vikary.” (from The Dying of the Light, by GRRM) Just as ASOIAF presents a shadowy old world of Valyria, destroyed in a vaguely-understood cataclysm, The Dying of the Light presents Kavalar and its lost and changing language. There is also exploration of the importance of names in TDotL, and what people call themselves or want others to call them, and whether other people respect those wishes. Since Tyrion is often referred to as The Half-Man or the imp or the dwarf, it seems as if this is an idea that GRRM continued to explore in ASOIAF. In the ASOIAF books, I have wondered about characters with a letter Q in their names: Qhorin Halfhand, Moqorro, Qyburn. They seem to be people who have crossed into a land of magic but then came back to provide guidance to one of the heroes in Westeros. But I may be reading too much into this, and my faulty memory is almost certainly leaving out some Q names or Q words that don't fit this interpretation. It's probably also worth discussing Septa Saranella, who told Cersei the meaning of the word "valonqar." She was probably from Westeros, so not a native speaker of a Valyrian dialect. The Westerosi origin I infer from her taking orders in the Faith of the Seven, although there are some practitioners still in Essos who might have made their way to Westeros. But I suspect Tywin would have employed only a woman from a noble house of Westeros as a governess for his valuable daughter. The name ending in -ella is often associated with crones, for what that's worth, and GRRM does hint that crones represent or possess wisdom and insight. (An exception might be Sarella / Alleras, a Sand Snake daughter of Oberyn Martel who appears to be disguised as a novice at the Citadel.) It's impossible to guess whether Septa Saranella might have an agenda, and would have misled Cersei about the meaning of the word, or would have given her only a partial explanation. On the other hand, the septas become Cersei's jailers and persecutors later in the books, and they seem to work as a team. If Saranella was the first of a group of septas manipulating House Lannister or the houses of Westeros nobility, she may have had reason to give Cersei limited information about the word. I can't imagine Cersei giving Saranella the full context in which she hear the word when she asks its meaning - I suspect the household would have been in some distress over the mysterious death of Melara Heatherspoon, so Cersei probably concealed the whole fortune-seeking foray to Maggie the Frog. Therefore Saranella had no reason to suspect anything about a prophecy or threat in Cersei's inquiry, and would have given her straight information to the best of her ability. On the other hand, it might be that "nice, high-born girls" don't speak of certain things. If the word "valonqar" means "the little brother who brings dragons," or "younger brother who tortures his sibling" or something even more dangerous or menacing, maybe Saranella conveyed only "little brother" in her answer to Cersei, because dragons are extinct and nice girls do not think about such things. It is interesting, though, that GRRM gives Saranella a name when her entire "role" seems to be defining that word for the reader. Is he dropping a hint that will match up with later information not yet revealed? Aside from Sarella Sand, the closest matching name I can think of in the books is Serra, the deceased wife of Illyrio Mopatis. We can be fairly sure she is not Saranella because they would have been alive at the same time in different parts of the planet, I believe. And now Serra's hands are preserved in Illyrio's apartments in Pentos. Maybe we will see the elderly Saranella again when the action of the books moves to the Reach and the Westerlands.
  2. I'm leaning toward "valonqar" and the Tyroshi torture device being two different but strongly linked things. For me, the key is to try to assemble the elements of GRRM's pattern and then to guess how that pattern will be applied in a new combination (or more than one combination) in the last two books. In this case, we seem to be zeroing in on a good educated guess about who/how Cersei will die. So I think your look back to the old empire and identifying the brother / sister murder is entirely relevant. At a minimum, what we have so far for elements of the pattern are: 1) Valonqar = little brother. The siblings seem somewhat interchangeable as murderer and murder victim. 2) A torture device that allows for a strangulation murder without actually manually strangling the victim. A "hands off" murder or murder-by-proxy, possibly. Leather strips seem to be used in a couple clear cases, but a regular rope noose also appears in the pattern and Shae is killed by the chain of office of the Hand of the King. 3) Reaching for a sword as a cause of choking. 4) Death of a father; exile of an uncle. 5) Smith imagery. 6) Ice vs. Fire imagery. In addition to the connection made in the OP to the deaths of Brandon and Rickard Stark, I mentioned Tywin & Shae, Edmure Tully, Vargo Hoat, Groat, Robb Stark, Joffrey and Gerion Lannister as possibly participating in the pattern or part of the pattern at various points in their stories. Whores had been mentioned in a couple of posts in this thread so I wanted to see if they were an element in the pattern, but I don't find that they are present in a majority of the cases, although GRRM can be very subtle sometimes. @Lollygag I don't think we are told that Taena had been a whore in the Free Cities, as you asserted. It's possible that was the case but not confirmed, as far as I know. In Clash, Jon wonders about his mother's identity and then resolves that he just wants to know who she was, even if she was a whore. So the offstage Lyanna could be the "whore" in the Rickard / Brandon death scene, even though she wasn't a literal whore. (If we can pin down this whore symbolism, it could solve one of the major mysteries of the books and answer Tywin and Tyrion's oft-repeated question!) Soon after Jon's speculation about his mother, Tyrion muses that Joff might benefit from a visit to a whore and then the smallfolk call Cersei a whore (among other insults) as the royal family escorts Myrcella to her ship to Dorne. This is all followed by Joffrey's one experience with combat - a hands-off, indirect use of lethal weapons and some other elements of our pattern: "Mother promised I could have the Whores," Joffrey said. Tyrion was annoyed to see that the king had lifted the visor of his helm again. Doubtless the boy was cooking inside all that heavy steel . . . but the last thing he needed was some stray arrow punching through his nephew's eye. He clanged the visor shut. "Keep that closed, Your Grace; your sweet person is precious to us all." And you don't want to spoil that pretty face, either. "The Whores are yours." It was as good a time as any; flinging more firepots down onto burning ships seemed pointless. Joff had the Antler Men trussed up naked in the square below, antlers nailed to their heads. When they'd been brought before the Iron Throne for justice, he had promised to send them to Stannis. A man was not as heavy as a boulder or a cask of burning pitch, and could be thrown a deal farther. Some of the gold cloaks had been wagering on whether the traitors would fly all the way across the Blackwater. "Be quick about it, Your Grace," he told Joffrey. "We'll want the trebuchets throwing stones again soon enough. Even wildfire does not burn forever." (ACoK, Tyrion XIII) So maybe we need to add whores to the list of elements after all. Like Rickard Stark, Joffrey is cooking in his armor. There is a torture device with a nick name. The Antler Men could be symbolic of Robert Baratheon, who wore antlers on his helmet, so we have the death of a father. The sibling murder attempt here may not be aimed at Joffrey so much as at Tyrion: this scene precedes the attack on Tyrion by Ser Mandon Moore. Tyrion assumes that Cersei hired or ordered Ser Mandon to kill him. Tyrion (also the uncle in this scenario) is also demoted immediately following the battle - an internal exile of sorts. (Tyrion shutting the visor so that Joff won't be shot evokes the death of Rattleshirt, a symbolic Ned character. He is burning in a metal cage until Jon Snow orders a mercy killing and has his archers shoot the dying man. It also could foreshadow Ser Jorah telling Tyrion that a splinter through the eye is the worst kind of death as well as the splinter in Ser Waymar's eye back in the AGoT prologue.) (Note: As I've been writing, I've wondered about babies as well as whores. Dany is pregnant when Viserys dies; Cersei's children are linked to Maggie's prophecy; Lyanna is probably already pregnant or about to become so when Brandon and Rickard die. But I'll have to put more thought into that some other time. It would enrich the sibling conflict if it turns out that the death of the father and the birth of the next generation are always linked. Lollys Stokeworth might be the surrogate mother in Cersei and Tyrion's sibling rivalry.) The scene with Joffrey and "The Whores" also precedes the departure of the Hound - a famous younger brother in the series. He refuses to continue fighting in the midst of the wildfire inferno, says, "Bugger the King's Hand," and leaves King's Landing. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but GRRM also describes the removal of the Hound's helmet and the blood pouring down his face hiding his burn injuries. In this, maybe we have a rejection of a threatened strangulation - "Bugger the King's Hand" - and the ice and fire element of our pattern might be that the Hound's burns are somehow "healed" by this blood. His face is described as "pale as milk" in this scene, so that might be the white walker imagery and a reversal or overdue balancing of his face-on-fire imagery. It is also the smith imagery, with the heating of the person within the armor and the remolding of the liquefied (bleeding) person emerging from the crucible and being remolded to make an entirely new weapon. The idea of Joffrey and the Hound being heated in their armor becomes especially interesting when you look back at Tyrion's earlier desire to take Joffrey to a brothel: he felt he couldn't do it unless he could separate the king from the Hound. In this scene, he let Joffrey have access to "The Whores" and soon Joffrey and The Hound are permanently separated, similar to the way that Widow's Wail and Oathkeeper are separated, imho. More briefly, I'll note that Viserys is killed with Khal Drogo's belt after it is melted down. It is made of gold medallions, so it may be more like the chain of the Hand of the King used to kill Shae than like the leather strips used to kill Brandon Stark. Dany tried to give Viserys a gold medallion belt to wear, but he rejected the outfit, called her a slut, physically attacked her, and she then turned and hit him with the belt. The melting of the medallion belt gives us the smith imagery. I'm not sure I can tie the death of Viserys to the death of a father and the exile of an uncle, so maybe it's not a great fit for the pattern. Viserys was "reaching" for a crown more than for a sword at the time of his death, but he says, "I am the dragon" among his last few words, and dragons and swords have been linked through the comet imagery. I suppose demanding the Iron Throne also counts as "reaching" for a bunch of swords. Counter to the pattern, perhaps, are a couple of scenes with Brienne. The smith Gendry, who is the spitting image of King Robert's younger brother, saves her by reaching for a sword and sticking the pointy end through Biter's skull. (She is gravely wounded on the cheek before Gendry saves her, though.) She is later threatened with strangulation by noose. She is more worried about saving Podrick Payne than about herself, it seems, so she says a word. Several people in this forum (and apparently an SSM) have indicated that the word she says is, "Sword," asking to be allowed to live and agreeing to work for Lady Stoneheart. So she is reaching for a sword. Pod is a sort of little brother figure, although that is never stated directly or literally. In a couple places, Tyrion refers brothers being like or unlike "peas in a pod." Interesting that Pod saves Tyrion at the Blackwater and is by Brienne's side helping to revive her after Biter's attack and when she is threatened with hanging by the Brotherhood without Banners. Why is the pattern reversed for Brienne and Pod? Because they are "supposed" to be reaching for their swords, while the other sword-reachers are unworthy? Is Dany also part of this reversal of the pattern, as she seems successful in reaching for the dragon, where Viserys failed? I suspect that the symbolism around Penny and Groat is also part of this pattern. The fake beheading in the wedding feast jousting match -immediately preceding Joffrey's real death by choking - and Groat's real death by beheading are particularly relevant (especially with the Tyroshi man presenting Cersei with her Valonqar, which may be Groat's head). I have outlined in other threads my suspicions that Penny and Groat are linked to Littlefinger and to dragon eggs. Penny is a symbolic Cersei figure. She also plays an important role in "knighting" Tyrion: teaching him to joust and providing him with (initially) wooden armor. In TWoW: But I gotta get some other things done today, so I'll leave the details for another post.
  3. Great insight! If Brandon's death is like the death predicted for Cersei, there could be a lot of other parallels - symbolic and otherwise. First, I would examine whether Brandon has a younger brother, and whether that person might be implicated in his death. Donchaknow - he has two younger brothers! We never found out who told Brandon that Rhaegar had kidnapped his sister. Maybe Ned or Benjen got him to run down to King's Landing in a state of anger. Maybe his blood, Rickard Stark's blood and the blood of all those northern bannermen who died with them is on the hands of a younger Stark brother who got Brandon to publicly accuse the crown prince of kidnapping and rape. I'm still also intrigued by possible parallels to the deaths of Shae and Tywin. Tyrion wraps his hands around Shae's throat because he uses the gold chain of the Hand of the King to strangle her. I have had a suspicion for some time that Shae has a secret past, and I think she might be a bastard daughter of Tywin. No real evidence, I admit. But it would fit the Lannister pattern if Tyrion had fallen in love with his sister. And it would be similar to Brandon's death if Shae's father died at about the same time that Shae did. There are some other significant little brothers who might be linked to this pattern. Catelyn's little brother, Edmure, is forced to stand with his head in a noose, day after day, until his uncle surrenders Riverrun. He doesn't have hands wrapped around his neck, but "A foot of hemp still dangled from the noose about his neck" (AFFC, Jaime VI). So a foot or feet instead of hands, as in the Valonqar prophecy. Vargo Hoat has a similar outcome, fwiw: "Jaime would have known his beard anywhere; an absurd rope of hair two feet long, dangling from a pointed chin. Elsewise, only a few leathery strips of flesh still clung to the Qohorik's skull" (AFFC, Jaime III). He even shares the leather strips with Brandon Stark. Vargo Hoat shares goat imagery with Tyrion and with Penny's brother, Groat. Could he be another little brother? But I digress. Also interesting is that Brandon Stark was reaching for his longsword, and that is what killed him. We don't know that the sword was Ice, but it could have been. It might be that the author wants us to think about Ice in this context, where Aerys has named fire as the champion of House Targaryen. Robb Stark dies not long after he "reaches" for Ice - demanding that the Lannisters return the sword to him at Riverrun. Joffrey also dies not long after reaching for a piece of Ice, in the form of the sword Widow's Wail. Even more proximate to his death is Ser Ilyn's sword, the mysterious silver sword covered with runes. Ser Ilyn was the last person to use Ice before it was reforged. And that may raise another interesting question about the words used by Maggie the Frog: "cast you down." Casting is something that a smith does with melted metal. I suspect Cersei will be killed by a smith - a person associated with that imagery. It is an essential detail of the books that Jaime was responsible for specifying the details of the design for, and obtaining, his own gold hand. (I can't believe the show didn't recognize the importance of getting that right.) Hands of gold are always cold but a woman's hands are warm. Edit: I almost forgot that Tywin's little brother Gerion Lannister might be part of the pattern, too. Was he reaching for the family's longsword when he went to Vayria and disappeared? Also, a possible wordplay clue: Tyrosh = shorty? Tyrion is noted for being rather short.
  4. That is too bad. I am a big fan of the audiobooks. His ability to create so many distinctive voices was amazing. From his bio, it appears that he worked on the Beauty and the Beast tv show, for which GRRM was a writer, I believe. I wonder if that connection resulted in his being hired for the narration job? A sad loss for us all, but his work will live on.
  5. Somewhere in this forum, I speculated that Pycelle had been helping the Lannisters with secret alchemy, making fake gold and that this fake gold somehow affected Valyria. But I didn't have a lot of evidence for this theory, and had to assume we would find out more now that Pycelle was dead and Cersei would have no income to finance her empire. But what if the gold wasn't fake but radioactive? The Lannisters used the gold to buy Brightroar, the Valyrian sorcerers tried to use that gold in some magic ritual and POOF all of Valyria is destroyed. But Lannister gold has been used throughout Westeros for many years and we haven't heard of ill effects from handling it. So it must not be literal radiation, it GRRM is using something along those lines as a plot device. Just as greyscale isn't literal leprosy. Lately, my reading of some of the literary devices in the books is that we are being set up for a "battle" between mountains and rivers. Or maybe it won't be a battle per se, but just a clearer pattern of tension between high and low, stone and water, still and flowing. I suspect that there will be three important (symbolic or literal) rivers - red, blue and green coming together to make one Trident. So the Manderlys may be part of Team Green. The little throw-away reference to the river changing its course at the inn at the crossroads may be relevant to the Manderly symbolism, too. Just as the Manderly family picked up and moved to White Harbor, the river by the inn moved itself sixty feet away from the old riverbed. Looking at Lommy Greenhands might also be useful in sorting out the Manderly association with green. He dies sitting beneath a tree, so he may be part of the ancient green god legend you cite. He was a dyer's apprentice, so there may be a direwolf pun intended. As I was reading your posts about gold and tunnels, I was already starting to think about the Night's Watch brothers "digging for treasure" at Molestown. Certainly Craster seems to do a lot of "digging" with all those wives and babies around. And we know that the Lannisters are all about exploiting their mines for wealth. This could be a very interesting set of symbols to pursue.
  6. Sandor already killed The Butcher's Boy, too. (Unless we believe the outcome of his trial by combat with Ser Beric, in which he is exonerated for that killing.) Throughout the books, Gregor is frequently referred to as a butcher. So this could be part of the symbolism, too. Maybe it's a "kill the boy and let the man be born" example - the Butcher's Boy died and the Butcher is soon unleashed in the Riverlands. Or maybe Sandor just doesn't want to be a kinslayer.
  7. It might be interesting to consider this question alongside the question of why Arya didn't kill Sandor when he lay gravely wounded after their fight at the inn at the crossroads. He had been on her prayer list, he was asking her to kill him and he was suffering and helpless. Yet she brought him water (leaking out of the eyes of his dog's head-shaped helmet) and then left him alive. Dicussion on this and on another thread led me to start looking at helmets. In this discussion, people have noted that Gregor was vulnerable without his helmet, but The Hound didn't take advantage of that vulnerability. I suspect there is a pattern to helmets - on, off, half helms, broken helmets, buckets used for helmets. Maybe a look at the helmets in the Hand's tourney will help us to understand the dynamic between Sandor and Gregor. We learn later that Gregor, when he becomes Ser Robert Strong, has lost his head and never removes his helmet. The Hound loses his helmet and it is picked up by Rorge and then Lem Lemoncloak. Here is a helmet scene featuring The Hound at the Battle of the Blackwater: "No." A shadow detached itself from the shadow of the wall, to become a tall man in dark grey armor. Sandor Clegane wrenched off his helm with both hands and let it fall to the ground. The steel was scorched and dented, the left ear of the snarling hound sheared off. A gash above one eye had sent a wash of blood down across the Hound's old burn scars, masking half his face. (ACoK, Tyrion XIII) In that scene, removing his helmet causes blood to hide his scars. Does this represent a rebirth for Sandor? Another thought about why Sandor might have refrained from going in for the kill against Gregor: maybe the Hound somehow knew that beheading Gregor would be useless because he would go on to live as a dead guy, as he does after Qyburn messes with him. There's something about the marionette that belongs to Gregor but which is borrowed by Sandor. Sandor said it was marvelous because, "You could make him fight." Maybe Sandor realized that Gregor's strings were being pulled by someone else; that killing him would be like destroying a wooden soldier.
  8. There's this, too: The stink of the Lannister host reached Arya well before she could make out the devices on the banners that sprouted along the lakeshore, atop the pavilions of the westermen. From the smell, Arya could tell that Lord Tywin had been here some time. The latrines that ringed the encampment were overflowing and swarming with flies, and she saw faint greenish fuzz on many of the sharpened stakes that protected the perimeters. (ACoK, Arya VI) Could be that Tywin's camp outside the massive walls of Harrenhal is supposed to compare to Craster's Keep outside of the Wall.
  9. Terrific insight! Well done. I really like this - a lot of puzzle pieces could fall into place with this. The shit evidence is particularly persuasive. I could never figure out why GRRM made such a point out of Tywin and shit and stench, as well as Craster living on a pile of shit. This would explain it. I wonder whether there is something of a parallel in the story between the Lannisters somehow driving the Casters out of Casterly Rock and the Peakes managing to unseat the Manderlys? The Manderlys also go north, although not as far north as the Caster / Craster family, if your theory is correct. I don't think Lollygag's main evidence is the similarity of the two names - he (she?) provides quite a bit of context from the books, starting with the lion and sheep metaphors. Your good etymological research can be true at the same time a Craster / Caster parallel is true. I think GRRM works hard to add layers to his word associations. For instance, a lot of people stop at the clever connection between Alaric of Eysen at Joffrey's wedding feast and GRRM's friendship with an author named Phyllis Eisenstein. That link is undoubtedly true, but there is a deeper purpose for Alaric of Eysen to appear at exactly that point in the narrative, and I believe it has to do with the "egg / Ei / iron / Eisen / Ice / eyes" wordplay. Similarly, GRRM is said to be a NY Giants football fan, and people assume the juxtaposition of the giant known as "Wun Wun" with Ser Patrek of King's Mountain - who wears silver stars - is a wink and a nod toward the NY Giants defeating the Dallas Cowboys. This could be true, but there is deeper meaning for the books in understanding the references to stars, King's Mountain and the symbolism of giants. Probably also in the number 11, although I haven't yet figured out the number code (if there even is a single code for numbers). Those are just two examples of layered meanings in ASOIAF names and characters. As I say, your analysis is good and very likely relevant but I think GRRM could also have chosen the Craster and Caster (and Stark?) surnames for their similarities. He had to have been mapping out his plot and details for many years before he started writing.
  10. I think you are absolutely correct that the Wall symbolizes the veil between life and death. But it's only THE major barrier, and there are dozens of other similar walls and barriers throughout the books. Winterfell has two walls, and they are often referred to as curtain walls. So I think GRRM is deliberately tying the curtain wall into his ideas about mummers and puppeteers drawing back a curtain and putting on a show for others to watch. I suspect we will know more about this in subsequent TWoW chapters, after the Mercy chapter. Ser Jorah and Thoros of Myr - of all people - are the first over the wall at the seige of Pyke. Whatever death symbolism inheres in the Greyjoy family and in the Drowned God may have rubbed off on them when they passed through this Wall. We have been told that Ser Loras was the first over the wall at Dragonstone. We are also told that he is badly injured and near death. My guess is that Pyke and Dragonstone represent unique "Otherworlds" or mini lands-of-death somehow, and that these first-over-the-wall warriors take on special powers when they cross that barrier. Maybe Ser Barristan should be added to the list, since he scaled the wall at Duskendale. But that wall wasn't breached. I don't know whether that matters. I'm thinking also of the tradespeople who escape the Pale Mare in Astapor by slowly making a secret hole in the city wall and escaping through it in spite of the quarantine. If you have read the great Miasma Theory in the Last Hearth forum, this hole in Astapor could be important foreshadowing and symbolism in the way GRRM might use The Wall and Jon Snow's healing powers to fight the White Walkers and the Others. What appeared to be a minor line in an early Catelyn POV told us that the Crone can peer through the door between life and death and that the raven can fly back and forth through it. This is a new idea that I haven't fully considered, but I wonder whether these first-over-the-wall warriors become symbolic ravens, and can travel back and forth between life and death? This could explain the life-giving power of Thoros of Myr, and might also explain how Dany survived the pyre while Ser Jorah beamed love at her from the sideline. Obviously, doors and windows and sewer openings in walls become important in this imagery. Jailers, guards and others who open or close or lock doors become part of the motif. As for the not-so-ancient crown of the Kings of Winter, I recently sorted out one small clue, I think. When I was focused on puns and wordplay, I tried to figure out the word "whores," to understand what it represented beyond its literal crude reference to a sex worker. I thought it might be paired with "horse," and that might still be true but didn't seem to explain the whole point. On a recent re-read of the Dunk & Egg stories, I paid closer attention to Glendon Flowers "Fireball" Ball, who has long been one of my favorite destinations for sorting out symbolism. They make a point of saying that he is the son of a whore, of course, but he is also a hero or a son of a hero. I suspect that "whore" and "hero" are a wordplay pair. So Robb's rune-covered crown was in the hands of the Queen of Whores / Freys, and then it somehow reaches Lady Stoneheart who presides over the Brotherhood Without Banners as a sort of Queen of Heroes. GRRM may be telling us that heroes and whores are not so different, or that the perception of difference is mistaken. Or maybe he is telling us that there is a stark (so to speak) difference. Maybe we'll know more if the crown comes into play again in the next books. But here's another interesting link between that crown and your original point, about the Wall: the crown is one of the few items in the books that is covered in runes. There is wordplay about "ruins" and "runes." So the forging of this crown for Robb Stark might foreshadow an important ruin coming up. Maybe the "ruin" was of Robb's brief reign as a king. It interests me, though, that the smith at Riverrun had the wherewithal to make this crown, since we are told that almost no one can read ancient runes. (I am counting on Sam Tarly to learn runes at the Citadel, or to meet someone who knows them.) Is Robb's crown covered with gibberish? Will the original ancient crown of the Kings of Winter be found at some point, and will those runes make sense to someone? One - no, Two! - last bits of wordplay: 1) You mention the word "veil," and, of course, that brings up The Vale. Robert and Ned spent years in The Vale. I think there is something to the idea that they emerged from behind a curtain with Jon Arryn when Robert's Rebellion began. Now Sansa has emerged from behind that curtain. It might be worth considering the Wall and the Vale as a symbolic pair or, perhaps, as opposites. I suspect that Mance's sister-in-law, Val, is also part of this symbolism. 2) As I began this comment, I realized there could be wordplay around "barrier" and "burier." We suspect that Sandor Clegane is the gravedigger at the Quiet Isle, so he has become a burier. We don't know who buried the obsidian cache found by Jon and Ghost at the Fist of the First Men. But there could be some interesting symbolism around burying and barriers, if you want to pursue this Wall symbolism. "Bury" is also paired with "Ruby" in GRRM's wordplay game, as the Quiet Isle was waiting for one more ruby but apparently a burier (The Hound) showed up instead.
  11. Thanks for the link! I knew I had seen / discussed this somewhere. You offer better evidence than the loud voice I thought might be a Tormund = horn clue. But Tormund's clanging voice couldn't be accidental, and it is probably linked to the other clangs in the books. I suspect there is a specific meaning when GRRM tells us that someone has taken off his helm or is not wearing a helm or (similarly) has dropped a bucket or is not carrying a bucket. The giants could be linked to the helmets, through Rattleshirt's giant skull helmet. A bucket could be linked to the horn - Jon tells Sam that he could use the broken horn from the cache at the Fist as a drinking horn. (If you search on "horn sound" on the Search of Ice and Fire website, there is a lot of imagery in Catelyn POVs involving drinking horns and sound, just about the same time Jon gives the horn to Sam.) Wow! Of course Shagwell is killed by a giant! Very nice. I wonder whether Ser Dontos is also killed by a giant, since Littlefinger, with his sigil of the head-of-the-Titan-of-Braavos, orders his death? More stone mothers: the stone statue of Lyanna in the Winterfell crypt is her only 3D presence in Jon's life. Lady Stoneheart is Bran's mother, in a way. I noted the mountains called Missy's Teats earlier - Melissa Blackwood was Bloodraven's mother. And another wow for catching Bran riding on the "giant" Hodor! In the books, two of the references to clanging are closing doors. Hodor opens the door in the Winterfell crypt and pushes Bran and his companions through the "murder hole" hatch in the Queen's Crown tower before managing to climb through the hole himself. Looks like we need to make a little spreadsheet with giants, fools, fathers, riding big animals, horns, helmets, buckets, doors, mountains, mother's milk and killers, to see if we can spot a clearer pattern. The plot thickens.
  12. I'm already wondering if the Tormund = horn notion is wrong. GRRM uses the phrase "harsh clanging words" to describe Tormund's voice in addressing the giant. When you search on the word "clang," it's always a bell, sword-on-sword combat, slamming doors or, interestingly, a helmet or bucket dropping. (Another thread has got me thinking about helmets - Gregor, Sandor and Rattleshirt's helmets in particular. Rattleshirt wears a giant's skull as a helmet and Patchface wears a bucket.) But the waking of the giants seems linked to Tormund, and the death of Mag the Mighty in the Wall could be a link to the Joramun legend as well; a prelude to the eventual collapse of the Wall, perhaps. So I'm not quite ready to abandon the Tormund = horn theory. Theon and the sword Ice co-exist. If that connected pair is a model for the horn, it's still possible that Sam could have the horn of Joramun but Tormund still could personify the horn at the same time. As you say, the kind of thing you have to look for on a re-read. More evidence could be necessary to pin this down.
  13. This is a terrific connection - the death of Ser Hugh of the Vale and of Ser Patrek. Very nice catch. Jon's climb up a mountain with Stonesnake and Sansa's descent from the Eyrie with Mya Stone both include conversations about the mountain being the "mother" or parent of the POV character. There is also the Barbra's Teats / Missy's Teats controversy about hills named for mistresses of Aegon IV. So the "Mountain that Rides" and "King's Mountain" references fit with the whole father / son motif mentioned earlier in the thread. Ser Hugh is from a vale and he is killed by a giant man known as "The Mountain." Ser Patrek is from a mountain and he is also killed by a giant - one who is protecting Val. (Val = Vale?) I suspect that the fool Moonboy represents Ser Hugh in some way - Moonboy first appears at the feast on the day Ser Hugh dies, and Ser Hugh wore crescent moons on his cloak and grew up around the Gates of the Moon. So who would Ser Patrek represent? Before his death, he hangs around Queen Selyse. If the Moonboy comparison fits for Ser Hugh, maybe there is a Patchface comparison for Ser Patrek. There may be a further set of symbols in riding: Mag the Mighty riding the mammoth and Gregor Clegane riding his gigantic draft horse in the jousting match. Now I'm wondering whether Coldhands riding the giant Elk is connected? All of the animals die, iirc. The mammoth dies in the battle at the wall, Gregor beheads his horse and Coldhands and Meera slaughter the elk for food in the last days of their journey to the cave of the CotF. The initial giants tend to be killers, so how do they switch to become symbolic "mothers"? I guess this could bring us back to the statue / towers of the god called Trios - one head represents death, another represents rebirth and the third head is not defined. (But could represent magic, science or religion, among other possibilities.) Mag the Mighty dies and Wun Wun is born? But Wun Wun is a killer, too. Gregor Clegane dies and Ser Robert Strong is born? But Cersei is counting on Ser Robert to be her champion, meaning he will have to be a killer, too. Maybe everyone is supposed to be all three heads of Trios at all times? If Coldhands is part of the "giant that rides" symbolism, and if Tormund's remark about Mag the Mighty forking his father (the mammoth) is a hint for us about symbolic fathers, care to guess about the identity of Coldhands? Could he be Bran's father?
  14. Sandor / The Hound is the night: The Hound "seemed to take form out of the night" and he was "a voice from the night, a shadow." (AGoT, Sansa II) Ser Loras is the sun (Loras = solar) and a Garth Greenhand representative, I suspect. Maybe more the earth than the sun? With his love of the green-armored Renly and his flower sigil, the earth might be a better match. Everyone already saw Ser Gregor kill Ser Hugh of the Vale. @sweetsunray long ago recognized and outlined the symbolism of this, predicting that a landslide or earthquake will destroy the Gates of the Moon below the Eyrie. The fool Moonboy appears in the story soon - on the same day - after Ser Hugh dies. So maybe the night (yes, it is literary irony that he is The Night but not a knight) may be upset that his brother killed the moon and now wants to prevent the death of the sun (or the earth).
  15. There is a structure. (Whew! Glad this muddle of illogic is over.)