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  1. There's no question that Jaqen was/is on a mission. I would take a step backward to look at his larger context before asking the questions in the OP. Jaqen and Rorge and Biter were imprisoned in the Black Cells at the Red Keep, where dangerous prisoners are kept. In practice, this has meant that political or highborn prisoners are locked up there - Tyrion and Ned are our other known examples. (Also Pycelle?) We know of other violent criminals, now at the Wall, who apparently were not kept in the Black Cells, so "dangerous" is apparently open to interpretation. The other thing we know about the Black Cells is that Varys was in charge of them, disguised as Rugen the Undergaoler. Was Jaqen stashed in the Black Cells deliberately, with the knowledge that the Night's Watch periodically cleaned out the dungeon in search of new recruits? If so, the dungeon would have been the first stop on a planned trip to the north. Or was Jaqen's mission disrupted by the stay in the dungeon? Is he working with Varys or did Varys want him locked up? And this brings us to your questions, which boil down to (correct me if I'm wrong): 1) Does Jaqen really believe that three deaths are "owed" to the Red God? 2) Why does Jaqen bother to involve himself with Arya? Could Arya have been the reason for Jaqen's original mission? Is she thought to be the fulfillment of some kind of prophecy? (Similar to Bloodraven seeing Bran as the fulfillment of a prophecy?) Or even just a strategic choice by the Faceless Men who may have recognized her tomboy ways and sword abilities as good traits for a future assassin? My guess is that Jaqen's mission doesn't go into ancient history; he is not invested in Arya the way Bloodraven and the CotF seem to have been waiting for Bran. There are similarities in circumstances and in details between the Night's Watch and the House of Black and White. I think we are supposed to compare Yoren, collecting men and boys for the Night's Watch, and Jaqen, recruiting Arya for the House of Black and White. Yoren takes what he can get, however, and Jaqen probably spots a recruit only very rarely. While I don't think Arya was necessarily the purpose of Jaqen's mission, I think he took the time to evaluate and to give her the coin before continuing on his primary mission. I agree with your implication in the op and with @lordHodor that the three deaths were not so much for R'hllor as a test of Arya's potential. The third "death" is the Weasel Soup attack on the dungeon guards, resulting in the freeing of the northmen. As that scene plays out, Jaqen tells Arya that she has blood on her hands. To me, this is his way of ensuring that she had the bloodthirsty qualities necessary to be complicit in three murders. Jaqen eventually indicates that the three deaths owed to R'hllor have now been paid back but - going by his own yardstick - several guards died in the Weasel Soup incident, so there were actually more than three deaths paid to R'hllor. Does R'hllor give change when he is overpaid? Keep the customer's balance on account as a store credit? Jaqen might also have been interested to see who Arya chose for her three deaths, although that may be less important than the fact that she willingly accepted his assassination offer. Chiswyck and Weese don't seem like good choices to the reader, but they are actually symbolic, I suspect. Chiswyck falls from a wall, and I am not sure we have seen the death he foreshadows - I suspect someone will be pushed off The Wall at some point. Weese might actually symbolize Joffrey (in the link, scroll down to the discussion of the ACoK, Arya VIII chapter), which means that Arya symbolically contracted for the killing of someone on her "prayer" list. I doubt that Faceless Men would be followers of any god outside of the Many-Faced god who is embodied in The Stranger in Westeros. Any pretense by Jaqen to subscribe to a specific religious belief, such as "owing" a precise number of deaths to the Red God, seems like a ruse to involve Arya in his trade, which is killing people surreptitiously. However, I do think that the Many-Faced god and a bag of coins are the same thing, symbolically - coins usually bear the face of a king so a collection of coins bears many faces. In the case of the iron coin Jaqen gives to Arya, the face is almost rubbed off but it represents a Faceless Man. I think the House of Black and White is linked to the Bank of Braavos and that the author is linking death and money. I lean toward Littlefinger being linked to the Bank of Braavos, but Varys could be part of the mix. I do think that Varys and Jaqen might be working together - or that Varys had a purpose in directing Jaqen north - because of Jaqen's stay in the Black Cells. At the point that Yoren takes his group north, people are being allowed into the gates of King's Landing, but guards screen anyone going out. If Jaqen had just been a nasty guy, he would have been in another part of the dungeon or would have been executed quickly. I think Varys gave him "cover" and then helped him to escape, even though he was confined in the wagon. (Maybe that was deliberate, too - the three men got to ride in comfort instead of walking or riding a horse.) Arya was persuaded to do her "Pandora's Box" gesture at the critical moment, freeing Jaqen and his companions, and the plot unfolded from there.
  2. Interesting! I hadn't made the connection that Qyburn made the accusation against the puppeteers. This makes me fearful about what's in store for Ser Duncan the Tall, with his infatuation with the puppeteer Tanselle Too Tall!
  3. A fresh look at Ser Gregor is welcome. I'm finding him to be a central - although possibly largely symbolic - character. Your question goes directly to Jon Arryn's mysterious "the seed is strong" phrase, I think, so it's well worth figuring out. The jointed wooden knight that was given to Gregor when he was a kid might be a key to why he is the way he is. It was essentially a marionette, from what I can tell. Sandor describes it to Sansa in AGoT, Sansa II, I believe, as he walks her back to the castle after the Hand's Tourney. The Hound describes the wooden knight as marvelous and he says you could "make him fight." When Qyburn makes Robert Strong, he uses a couple of puppeteers as ingredients (?) in reviving Ser Gregor's dead and tortured body. So there seems to be a puppet theme here. What I wonder is whether the magic went into Robert Strong or into Qyburn as puppeteer? We know that the "game" of thrones is a central metaphor of the series - that people are playing a cyvasse-like game with pieces they can move around a kingdom until someone becomes king or queen. If Ser Gregor is like his wooden knight and can be moved around and made to fight, which other players are being manipulated by an invisible hand? (You know who else has a wooden knight - an image of the Warrior of the Seven Gods - on his bedside table? Ser Barristan badass.) Elsewhere in the forum, I recently wondered whether Ser Robert Strong would be comparable to King Cleon, who was disinterred, strapped to a horse and sent out to fight after he had died. If we're going to examine Robert Strong as a dead warrior king, that really does open the door to other possible dead kings. Remember what Robert says to Ned: “I swear to you, I was never so alive as when I was winning this throne, or so dead as now that I've won it.” I found a number of examples of "Robert" (or Robb or boar) being paired with "Strong". King Robert is obviously a part of the group, but the other examples in the link might help to clarify the larger pattern. If you buy the boar / Robb / Robert notion, the pattern could expand to include bears (bear as a present-tense verb and bore as the past-tense verb meaning carry and carried). To round out the potential boar/strong connection, Lyle "Strongboar" Crakehall is planning to hunt the Hound at the end of AFfC. Gregor and Sandor are brothers but also enemies. To answer one of your other questions, I think it's possible (in the magic of fiction) that Ser Robert has no head. If he is a puppet, he might not need his own brain and the four of his five senses that go with it. I suspect the author wants us to compare Ser Gregor's helmet to the Hound's helmet: the Hound's helmet is used as a bucket by Arya and then is taken and used by Rorge and then by Lem Lemoncloak. And one completely different Ser Gregor thought: "The Mountain that Rides" has struck me as being the opposite of "The Stallion that Mounts the World." Why does GRRM want us to compare or contrast Ser Gregor with Rhaego? (Or with Dany?) Rhaego and Gregor are both monsters (but Joffrey and the Stark wargs are also monsters). Rhaego's skin sloughs off when touched, but that sounds more like Sandor than Gregor, with his face that is burned down to the bone. Rhaego has bat wings and - hey! - the bat sigil is associated with Harrenhal families, although Whent and Lothston, not House Strong.
  4. Nice catch. I suspect the author is playing around with the idea of planting a seed when Jon befriends Gren and Pyp. Uncle BenJen's last words to Jon are to tell him that he is "green," meaning young and inexperienced. Jon's friends seem to reflect his development - Gren (green?) and Pyp (a pip is a small seed) come into his life at an early stage. After he spends time with the wildlings, Satin (representing his sexual awakening, I suspect, like the red silk used to mend Mance's cloak) and Leathers (the wildlings wear leather and skins) become part of his inner circle. You can find other examples as his adventures and personal growth unfold. So Pyp as a Florent would be interesting. I associate House Florent with all those "Greenhand" and Gardener descendants from the Reach, so a "seed" character would be a good fit for the flora motif. But there's also something suspicious about the House Florent fox sigil - the fox is a trickster in European story telling. Maybe Pyp does have a secret up his sleeve. The wiki reminds me that the Florents, Balls and Peakes are all descended from the same "fox" ancestor. The Balls and Peakes have played some key roles in undermining Targaryen rulers at key points in history. We are told that House Florent feels entitled to rule Highgarden in place of the Tyrells, and we know that Selyse is ambitious to be queen for Stannis and to produce offspring for a dynasty. I wonder what's brewing under the surface with Pyp? The seed is strong?
  5. "Ander" is the German word for "Other." Just sayin'.
  6. Mea Culpa. I am easily confused by Targaryen family history. It hasn't interested me much until this week, and I'm just starting to try to sort it out. That earlier Rhaena actually strengthens my other suspicions: that the Velaryon line had stronger dragon-hatching power, for some reason, than the Targaryen line. She was more closely related to Corlys, who seems like the patriarch of the Velaryon line, so she may have had stronger power. Pretty much crackpot, I admit. The Maidenvault Rhaena, daughter of Aegon III and Daenaera Valeryon approximately two generations later, is the one who was very devout. She might have put her religious inclinations to work for the "Three Heads" strategy. I'm wondering whether her part of the "Three Sisters" plot had to do with organizing the septas and/or silent sisters into a secret police and spy network. But I have no evidence for that.
  7. The Targaryen and Blackfyre dragon sigils also have three heads, so there may have been some family lore that was passed down about the three heads. Aemon and Rhaegar probably weren't the only ones to think this was significant or necessary. I know others have already looked at the inn at the crossroads, with the black, three-headed dragon sign that was hacked to pieces by Lord Darry. The story that Septon Meribald tells about the history of the inn really does seem to be an allegory for parts of the history of the royal family of Westeros since the conquest. I know that people think fAegon is represented by the single black dragon head that has turned red with rust and washed up on the Quiet Isle. I think rust represents Targ red on one level, but blood on another level, though - I'm thinking of Elmar Frey cleaning the rust off Roose Bolton's mail, but not quite getting it clean. fAegon hasn't spilled any blood at the time Meribald is telling the story of the one "Blackfyre" head, now rusty, that has reemerged. I think it could represent Dany instead. She is believed to be Targaryen, but what if she is really from the Blackfyre line? She was under the protection of House Darry, but seems to have lost her protector along the way somehow. Other things that have washed up on the Quiet Isle might provide clues about a Targaryen restoration. I would look at the details of the inn and of the island for clues about the three heads. A different interpretation: I am really interested in the three sisters of Baelor the Blessed, locked up together in the Maidenvault. Rhaena hatches the last dragon ("Morning"), Daena becomes the matriarch of the Blackfyre line, and Elaena becomes a power behind the throne and matriarch of the Velaryon line. What if these are the three heads of the dragon, and Aemon and Rhaegar and the Ghost of High Heart were all wrong? The islands that House Stark and House Arryn fought over for 1000 years are called the Three Sisters. I wonder whether there is symbolism in those islands that would help us to sort out the three princesses in the Maidenvault, where they had years to work out a takeover plan together. Sister stew, anyone?
  8. I definitely think obsidian will be part of the Lightbringer solution, although the person who carries the obsidian will be as important as the blade itself. Our first clue: Gared's hood shadowed his face, but Will could see the hard glitter in his eyes as he stared at the knight. For a moment he was afraid the older man would go for his sword. It was a short, ugly thing, its grip discolored by sweat, its edge nicked from hard use, but Will would not have given an iron bob for the lordling's life if Gared pulled it from its scabbard. (AGoT, prologue) Gared's ugly sword has a descendant in the blade made by fellow-deserter Jon Snow: Jon slid his new dagger from its sheath and studied the flames as they played against the shiny black glass. He had fashioned the wooden hilt himself, and wound hempen twine around it to make a grip. Ugly, but it served. Dolorous Edd opined that glass knives were about as useful as nipples on a knight's breastplate, but Jon was not so certain. The dragonglass blade was sharper than steel, albeit far more brittle. (ACoK, Jon V) So many of the swords and daggers in the books have elaborate hilts that express something about the family or wealth of the bearer. I believe these are the only two that have handmade grips and that are described as ugly. I suspect that it's also significant that Jon is his own "smith". It would not surprise me at all if Jon's obsidian dagger ends up being Lightbringer. This was what Jon saw when he first laid eyes on the obsidian cache: A length of frayed rope bound the bundle together. Jon unsheathed his dagger and cut it, groped for the edges of the cloth, and pulled. The bundle turned, and its contents spilled out onto the ground, glittering dark and bright. He saw a dozen knives, leaf-shaped spearheads, numerous arrowheads. Jon picked up a dagger blade, featherlight and shiny black, hiltless. Torchlight ran along its edge, a thin orange line that spoke of razor sharpness. Dragonglass. What the maesters call obsidian. Had Ghost uncovered some ancient cache of the children of the forest, buried here for thousands of years? The Fist of the First Men was an old place, only . . . (ACoK, Jon IV) I realize other blades are described as catching or reflecting the light so maybe I'm reading too much into this. It just seems like something GRRM would do, getting us to think in terms of forging a steel blade and then to give us a stone or glass blade instead. There are other details in the obsidian scene that tell me the cache is very significant - it is compared to finding the direwolf pups and to Drogo's funeral pyre where the dragons are hatched. Also significant are the dagger / Gared wordplay and the turning of the bundle (= turncloak) as Jon unearths it. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
  9. Symbolic "hatching" has interested me for some time - Tyrion emerging from the wine barrel in Pentos, for instance, or Jon Snow emerging from under his frozen cloak at Craster's Keep after sleeping under a rock ledge with Ghost and a fire. Butterbumps entreats Sansa to crack open an egg as part of his act before her luncheon with Lady Olenna. On the morning of Tommen's wedding, Cersei cracks open an egg on her breakfast tray and finds a dead fetal chick inside. I recently wrote up some thoughts about dungeons and gaolers, and I suspect that there might be some symbolism that compares hatching from an egg and being liberated from a jail cell. It occurs to me, finally, that the dragon eggs that never hatched could also be meaningful. To the extent that they are also symbolic, they might provide hints about plot elements yet to come. The wiki provides what appears to be a comprehensive list of dragon eggs that are mentioned in the writings of GRRM. I notice that most of the references come from the World book or the spin-off stories: The Princess and the Queen, The Mystery Knight, etc. This might mean that symbolism attached to the eggs is not essential to understanding the core novels of ASOIAF. On the other hand, GRRM has taken great care to create meaningful backstories for Westeros and its inhabitants, and we know that elements of the Dunk & Egg stories are relevant to the "current" events in the novels. I'm especially interested to figure out: Did Dany's dragon eggs truly came from the Shadowlands, as Ilyrio told her they did; Have other characters gotten their hands on some of the old, unhatched eggs; If the old eggs are back in play, has anyone else figured out how to hatch them as Dany did or using other techniques; Why did the Targaryens seem to lose their traditional power to hatch the eggs around the time that Viserys II and Aegon III sat the Iron Throne? From what I can piece together using the list of eggs from the wiki and the full Targaryen Lineage from the world book, the last robust dragons to hatch from eggs were hatched by Velaryons: Jacaerys, Lucerys and Joffery. Rhaena Targaryen (who is half Velaryon on her mother's side) manages to hatch one egg, but the dragon is sickly and dies shortly after hatching. I'll admit that I'm coming at this with the biased suspicion about the significance of the Velaryon bloodline for dragon hatching: maybe Targaryens aren't as magic as they would have people believe, or the Velaryon bloodline still represents Valyrian heritage while the Targaryen bloodline has been diluted or replaced with babies from another source. Obviously, if the Velaryon bloodline is relevent, Dany's dragon-hatching ability could raise questions about her true origins. Here is the list of eggs from the wiki. I have reorganized it into two parts - eggs known to have hatched and eggs that are "whereabouts unknown": Mysaria's egg - When Prince Daemon Targaryen learned his concubine was pregnant, he presented her with a dragon egg, but King Viserys I Targaryen commanded him to return the egg and send Mysaria away. Whereabouts unknown. King Viserys II Targaryen's egg - he possessed an egg during the civil war of the Dance of the Dragons, so far undescribed – whereabouts unknown. Lady Rhaena Targaryen's eggs - her first egg hatched into a broken thing that died within hours. She possessed another egg at the start of the civil war, and took three eggs to the Vale with her during the war. Only one egg is known to have hatched, the whereabouts of the others (two eggs) are unknown. Prince Maelor Targaryen's egg - he was given an egg at birth, which had not yet hatched by the start of the civil war. It is unknown what happened to the egg after Maelor was killed at Bitterbridge. Five eggs - from the last dragon's clutch, so far undescribed – whereabouts unknown. Princess Elaena Targaryen's egg - silver and gold in unknown arrangement – whereabouts unknown. Prince Daeron Targaryen's egg - known to exist, but so far undescribed – whereabouts unknown. Prince Aerion Targaryen's egg - gold and silver, with veins of fiery colors – whereabouts unknown. Prince Aemon Targaryen's egg - known to exist, but so far undescribed – whereabouts unknown. King Aegon V Targaryen's egg - white and green swirls – whereabouts unknown. Lord Ambrose Butterwell's egg - red, with golden flecks and black whorls – whereabouts unknown. (According to the Butterwell wiki entry, Aegon IV gifted Ambrose's grandfather and King's Hand Lord Butterwell with a dragon egg in return for "access" to his three daughters. According to stories Aegon impregnated all three.) Seven eggs - used by King Aegon V Targaryen in the ceremony that caused the Tragedy at Summerhall. Some of these may have been the unhatched eggs mentioned above. Whereabouts unknown, but possibly destroyed by the fire. King Euron Greyjoy's egg - Euron claimed he had a dragon egg, but threw it into the sea. Depending on how one reads a statement in The Mystery Knight, it might be possible that Princesses Rhae and Daella Targaryen had been gifted dragon eggs as well. {hatched} Prince Jacaerys Velaryon's egg - placed in his cradle at his birth by royal decree, hatched into the dragon Vermax. {hatched} Prince Lucerys Velaryon's egg - placed in his cradle at his birth by royal decree, hatched into the dragon Arrax. {hatched} Prince Joffrey Velaryon's egg - placed in his cradle at his birth by royal decree, hatched into the dragon Tyraxes. {hatched} Drogon's egg - black as the midnight sea, alive with scarlet ripples and swirls. {hatched} Rhaegal's egg - deep green, with burnished bronze flecks. {hatched} Viserion's egg - colored pale cream, streaked with gold. There could be as many as 26 eggs unaccounted for, based on this list, but some eggs may have been double-counted, belonging to one person initially and appearing again with someone else later. The wiki also offers this summary of information in the World book: "Mushroom, a court fool during the reigns of Viserys I, Aegon II, Rhaenyra and Aegon III, claims in The Testimony of Mushroom that the dragon Vermax left a clutch of eggs somewhere in the crypts of Winterfell at the start of the Dance of the Dragons. However, there is no official record that Vermax ever laid a single egg, suggesting the dragon was male, and maesters feel that the wild claim of Mushroom is baseless, typical for his Testimony." GRRM's readers know, when the maesters tell you to ignore someone's writing, you should instead pay attention to that writing. Also, I remember reading somewhere that dragons aren't one sex or the other. (Maybe they are like parrot fish and can change sex when a female is needed by their herd?) In previous posts, I shared my speculation that Penny and Groat were given dragon eggs by the Sealord of Braavos, who loved their act. (ADwD, Tyrion VIII: "We performed for the Sealord of Braavos once, and he laughed so hard that afterward he gave each of us a . . . a grand gift.") Groat either sold those eggs to Littlefinger's agents, I suspect, or he was killed and the eggs were taken to be hatched and raised at the isolated but sheep-inhabited Baelish ancestral lands.
  10. I enjoyed the Dunk & Egg graphic novels. I read the stories first, though. There is a lot less detail in the text of the graphic versions, obviously. I read the first one or two issues of the AGoT comic books, before they were compiled into a full volume. I am such an advocate for the full, written text that I would only recommend the graphic versions as a brief diversion after reading the full book. Like the show, the graphic novels are one or two artists' visions of the original, so take them with a grain of salt.
  11. I am fascinated by both the main and minor Royces. The armor with runes, the key role for Ser Waymar in the first chapter, the oversight of the Gates of the Moon, the organized opposition to Petyr Baelish at Runestone, whatever devious secrets Myranda Royce is keeping - I see a lot of potential for the various Royces to be bigger players in the remaining books. On their trip down the mountain, by the way, Myranda says things to Alayne / Sansa that show a pretty clear comparison to the mistresses of Aegon IV, Barbra Bracken (= Myranda) and Melissa Blackwood (= Sansa). This could imply a future Bittersteel / Bloodraven rivalry involving (my guess) Sweetrobin and Bran.
  12. If Bonifer Hasty had slept with Queen Rhaella, and if she had given birth to a son nine months later, I think he would never have pledged loyalty to any Baratheon. He would have been looking for a Varys or other Targ loyalist to whom he could offer his services to get revenge on the usurper. Instead of being a secret lover of a queen / father of a prince, it's more likely that he plays a symbolic role in the story. Perhaps he is intended to add some detail to Rhaella's story, or to draw a parallel to someone in Westeros history or legend who had an unrequited love but set it aside for duty. Actually, with his religious fervor, a comparison to Lancel Lannister seems somewhat apt. And Hasty's attitude toward Pia could be compared to Lancel's rejection of Amerei Frey. If he is supposed to be like Lancel, this could also help to explain Jaime's dislike for him. The name Bonifer Hasty might be part of a group, though: Tristifer Mudd, Ossifer Plumm and Rennifer Longwaters all have the "-ifer" suffix on their names which might show a fire connection. Tristifer Mudd is an ancient king of the First Men, so a fire connection doesn't make sense in terms of being a Targaryen loyalist, so it might have a different meaning. (I suspect King Tristifer is - at least in part - a symbol of King Robert, though, because his tomb shows him with a warhammer. And much is made of the partial-Targ heritage of House Baratheon.) The other three are more clearly associated with Targs in some way. The attention GRRM has bothered to give this (apparently) minor character could also be foreshadowing: the Lord or castellan of Harrenhal often suffers a violent death. Maybe Jaime's remark about people bursting into flames after looking on the ghost of Harren indicates the fate in store for Hasty. After all, his first name could be "bonfire" . . . (If he is fated to burst into flames, then we might compare him to Quentyn Martell, who also wishes he could marry a Targaryen princess.) Sorry if this derails the larger point of the thread. I couldn't resist the challenge when I heard that there might be unrevealed hints.
  13. . . . you will see many things that disturb you. Visions of loveliness and visions of horror, wonders and terrors. Sights and sounds of days gone by and days to come and days that never were. (ACoK, Daenerys IV) The visions and prophecies in the House of the Undying weren't just home movies: they could reflect Dany's imagination or wishes; they could be things that have not yet happened; they could be things intended to mislead her. The interpretation in the OP is logical and well-supported and could be right on the money. I'm guessing that GRRM will be more creative, though, and will surprise us in the way that the visions or prophecies come to fruition. For instance, here's a scene that's not part of the three heads prophecy (as far as I know): Farther on she came upon a feast of corpses. Savagely slaughtered, the feasters lay strewn across overturned chairs and hacked trestle tables, asprawl in pools of congealing blood. Some had lost limbs, even heads. Severed hands clutched bloody cups, wooden spoons, roast fowl, heels of bread. In a throne above them sat a dead man with the head of a wolf. He wore an iron crown and held a leg of lamb in one hand as a king might hold a scepter, and his eyes followed Dany with mute appeal. (ACoK, Daenerys IV) Almost every interpretation I have seen concludes that this is a vision of the Red Wedding and that Robb Stark's body is seen with the head of his direwolf, Grey Wind, sewn to his neck. That is logical and could be true. But Robb Stark is not a character with much depth - I can't remember him showing inner turmoil or wordlessly connecting with another character. Why would he be appealing to Dany, anyway? Are there other possible interpretations for the dead man with the wolf's head? If you re-read the description, note that "lost heads" are among the debris scattered around the feast. Then we hear of a dead man "with the head of a wolf." It's not unreasonable to assume that the dead man's head is the head of a wolf, but the loose heads in this feast of corpses open the possibility of other interpretations. Since there are heads scattered around, the dead man might be holding one of the severed heads. Ned Stark beheaded Sansa's direwolf, Lady. So he is a man with a head of a wolf at that point. Alternatively, Bran at the Winterfell Harvest Feast and Joffrey at his wedding feast both remark on the chalices they are using, each of which bears the head of a wolf. We also know that Starks and their bannermen are referred to metaphorically as wolves: Janos Slynt picks up Ned Stark's head after he is beheaded - could he be described as a dead man with the head of a wolf? There are at least as many possible variations on the "dragon has three heads" statement. For instance, Daario Naharis kills two fellow sellsword captains and brings their heads to Daenerys when he decides to join forces with her and turn on the Yunkai. We don't know that he is a dragon, but he arrives with three heads (if you count his own as one of the three). Similarly, Daario is frequently described as rubbing his thumbs over the hilts of his two weapons, which are shaped like naked women. So he has three heads on his person at all times if the knives and his own head are counted. It also seems too pat if Dany, fAegon and Jon are the three heads of the Rhaegar-related dragon who will somehow restore Targaryen rule. I suspect that Tyrion would be one of the three (as an Aerys descendant) and possibly Davos. One of my crackpot guesses for a late plot twist is that Dany will discover that she is not really a Targaryen. She was certainly raised to think that she was, as was fAegon. It will all become clearer when she finds that red door and the lemon trees . . .
  14. A search for deeper meaning in the characters of jailers, their prisoners and the details that surround them. Several characters are identified as jailers in ASOIAF. (Also known as "gaolers," in the old country and, apparently, in a small area of New Mexico.) Mord - The jailer at the Sky Cells at the Eyrie. He is bribed by Tyrion to tell Lysa that Tyrion wishes to confess. After Tyrion is acquitted through a trial by combat, he pays Mord with gold. Mord uses the gold to cap his rotted teeth. Later, Littlefinger uses Mord to torture Marillion, the singer framed for the murder of Lysa Arryn. Rugen - The undergaoler in charge of the cold and windowless Black Cells at the Red Keep, where special prisoners are held. Rugen is Lord Varys in disguise. Rennifer Longwaters - The chief undergaoler of the dungeons under the Red Keep. He is descended from Princess Elaena Targaryen and her cousin, Lord Alyn Velaryon (an admiral and legitimized bastard son of - probably - Lord Corlys Velaryon and a lowborn mother, Marilda of Hull). For what it's worth, I have a hunch that this Corlys Velaryon line, and the black / green civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons, will turn out to be a hidden motive and possibly part of the plot resolution for ASOIAF. Corlys was on the side of the blacks. The ruling Targaryen line is nominally the green line but made peace through intermarriage and descended from the blacks and the greens. (At least, that appears to be true if you believe that Viserys II was a genuine Targ and not a changeling who was brought forward as the long-lost son who had been presumed dead.) If the Velaryon line rises to the throne, there may be a lovely bit of literary irony hidden in Jaime's remark to Rennifer: "I almost mistook you for Aegon the Conqueror." Ser Ilyn Payne - Formerly the head of Tywin Lannister's guard detail, Payne supposedly lost his tongue at the order of King Aerys when he is heard saying that Tywin was the actual ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. (Note: Hot "pincers" are used to remove Payne's tongue, and there may be a wordplay connection between "princes" and "pincers.") King Robert appoints Ser Ilyn as the King's Justice as a "wedding gift" for Tywin - but the wedding is presumably Robert's wedding to Cersei, not Tywin's wedding. Wedding gifts are significant symbols, and I assume the author wants Ser Ilyn's position to be connected to that symbolism, for some reason. He is telling us something about Tywin's role in the kingdom and/or foreshadowing something about Tywin's future with the "wedding gift." The job of overseeing the dungeons is the responsibility of the headsman, "Since he lacked a tongue, Payne had largely left the running of those dungeons to his underlings . . ." (AFfC, Jaime I) An Antler Man - ". . . the last Chief Gaoler had been a cloth merchant who purchased the office from Littlefinger during Robert's reign. No doubt he'd had good profit from it for a few years, until he made the error of conspiring with some other rich fools to give the Iron Throne to Stannis. They called themselves "Antler Men," so Joff had nailed antlers to their heads before flinging them over the city walls." (AFfC, Jaime III) Both Patchface and Tyrion wear buckets for helmets (or a bucket-like helmet), and Patchface's bucket has antlers and bells affixed to it. Because of the antlers, I suspect the cloth merchant-gaoler is connected to that set of symbols. Septas - During Cersei's imprisonment below Baelor's Sept: "Her world had a population of four: herself and her three gaolers, pious and unyielding. Septa Unella was big-boned and mannish, with callused hands and homely, scowling features. Septa Moelle had stiff white hair and small mean eyes perpetually crinkled in suspicion, peering out of a wrinkled face as sharp as the blade of an axe. Septa Scolera was thick-waisted and short, with heavy breasts, olive skin, and a sour smell to her, like milk on the verge of going bad. They brought her food and water, emptied her chamber pot, and took away her shift for washing every few days, leaving her to huddle naked under her blanket until it was returned to her. Sometimes Scolera would read to her from The Seven-Pointed Star or The Book of Holy Prayer, but elsewise none of them would speak with her or answer any of her questions." (ADwD, Cersei I) Other "prisoner / jailer" scenarios include: Davos as a prisoner, first at Dragonstone and then at White Harbor. At Dragonstone, his jailers won't speak to him, so he has to invent names for them. He chooses the names Porridge and Lamprey, for the types of food they bring him. Jaqen H'ghar, Rorge and Biter are prisoners in the Black Cells who are released (sort of) to become members of the Night's Watch. They later escape when Arya gives them an axe. Jaqen gives Arya a special coin that allows her to join the Faceless Men. (Is Jaqen's coin like the coins Tyrion pays to Mord to set him free from the Sky Cells?) Cregan Karstark is a prisoner in an ice cell at the Wall after pursuing Alys Karstark there. That makes Jon something of a jailer. The description of Tyrion hidden in the hold of the ship crossing the Narrow Sea makes it sound as if he is a prisoner in a windowless cell. And, of course, he is imprisoned in the Sky Cells at the Eyrie and in the Black Cells at the Red Keep after Joffrey's death. Arianne is a "prisoner" in her tower room at Sunspear for a time after she tries to kidnap Princess Myrcella. Her cousins, the Sand Snakes, are also confined. Lady Donella Hornwood is imprisoned and starved to death after Ramsay Snow forces her to marry him. In Westeros history, the pious Baelor the Blessed imprisoned his three sister wives to preserve their innocence in the wicked world (or to prevent himself from being tempted by them). He also somewhat miraculously freed his cousin, Aemon the Dragonknight, who was imprisoned in a cage over a nest of vipers. (I suspect this is part of the chamber pot symbolism, with wordplay around "viper" and "privy.") The Defiance of Duskendale turned King Aerys into a prisoner. Some suspect that Tywin engineered the capture and captivity of the king, and that Ser Barristan's surprise rescue of the monarch undermined a plan to replace Aerys with his son, Prince Rhaegar. Theon becomes Reek while imprisoned the dungeon of the Dreadfort. Ramsay sends the two Walder Frey wards to bring him up when he is needed to help take Deepwood Motte and for the wedding of Ramsay and fArya / Jeyne Poole. There are lots of references to high-born captives and prisoners of war as well as "wards," held as a sort of captive. These prisoners are not always literally imprisoned. Chamber pots, stench and coins Reporting to Cersei, Qyburn describes "Rugen's" sleeping cell. Among other details: '. . . His chamber pot was overflowing.' 'I know all this.' Jaime had examined Rugen's cell, and Ser Addam's gold cloaks had examined it again. 'Aye, Your Grace,' said Qyburn, 'but did you know that under that stinking chamber pot was a loose stone, which opened on a small hollow? The sort of place where a man might hide valuables that he did not wish to be discovered?' 'Valuables?' This was new. 'Coin, you mean?' She had suspected all along that Tyrion had somehow bought this gaoler. 'Beyond a doubt. To be sure, the hole was empty when I found it. No doubt Rugen took his ill-gotten treasure with him when he fled. But as I crouched over the hole with my torch, I saw something glitter, so I scratched in the dirt until I dug it out.' Qyburn opened his palm. 'A gold coin.' Gold, yes, but the moment Cersei took it she could tell that it was wrong. Too small, she thought, too thin. The coin was old and worn On one side was a king's face in profile, on the other side the imprint of a hand. 'This is no dragon,' she said. 'No,' Qyburn agreed. 'It dates from before the Conquest, Your Grace. The king is Garth the Twelfth, and the hand is the sigil of House Gardener.' (AFfC, Cersei II) Cersei immediately leaps to the conclusion that the coin is connected to Highgarden and the Tyrells. To me, the interesting points in the dialogue are those that relate to a larger pattern or patterns : the stinking bucket of shit, the assumption that gold coins were used to pay off the jailer, the word "treasure," and the reference to the conquest. The interest in Rugen comes about because Tywin has been murdered and Tyrion had been released from his cell in the dungeon. Cersei assumes that Rugen freed Tyrion, since both men are missing. Of course, a further irony of the gold coin with its imprint of a hand is that it was actually Jaime, the man with the gold hand, who freed Tyrion (with Rugen / Varys's assistance). But the full chamber pot may also have a deeper meaning: Tywin was killed in the privy while trying to move his bowels. And the famous jape about Tywin to indicate the mysterious source of the endless Lannister wealth is that he "shits gold". After killing Tywin, however, Tyrion observes, "But the stink that filled the privy gave ample evidence that the oft-repeated jape about his father was just another lie. Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold" (ASoS, Tyrion XI). So the discovery of the gold coin under the overflowing chamber pot seems related to the joke about Tywin: he doesn't shit gold, but maybe Rugen does? When Catelyn goes to Jaime in the dungeons of Riverrun, she knocks over the toilet bucket in his cell and compares it to his sense of honor. Jaime returns to that metaphor later in the series, particularly when he feels he might have to break his promise to Catelyn by inflicting violence on her brother, Edmure Tully. Maybe the waste bucket metaphor always refers to honor, and GRRM's point is that no one in Westeros has an entirely clean record in the area of honor. For what it's worth, when Ned is thrown in a Black Cell, he finds no bucket to hold waste. He has to use a corner of the cell and just go on the floor. An interesting variation on the symbolism. Tyrion's armor at the Battle on the Green Fork includes a bucket helmet: "for his oversize head, they found a huge bucket-shaped greathelm" (AGoT, Tyrion VIII). Is GRRM telling us that Tyrion is like the contents of a bucket? When Tyrion escapes Yezzan, he uses a bucket of water as a ruse to wander through the camp to his real destination, a sellsword company. Or maybe the point is that the coin, bearing the likenesses of both a king and a hand, is buried under a full pot of excrement. Is the message here that the person who filled the pot sits higher than both the king and the king's hand? Than again, Qyburn refers to the hole where the coin was found as a place for treasure. A past search on the "A Search of Ice and Fire" site has revealed that (among other references) the obsidian cache Jon finds at the Fist of the First Men is a treasure, and Tyrion is a treasure when he becomes a slave of Yezzan zo Qaggaz. In a way, Tyrion could be the treasure in Qyburn's description here: he was hidden in the Black Cells, and Rugen took him away when he (Rugen / Varys) fled. Does the coin motif help us to make some inferences about Ser Ilyn Payne? He is the nominal supervisor of the dungeons, making him a jailer of sorts. Tyrion's squire, Podrick Payne, shares the same colors as his cousin, Ser Ilyn. There is a reason for the coins in the colors of House Payne, according to Tyrion, "There's a tale behind those coins . . . No doubt Pod will confide it . . ." he tells Sansa (ASoS, Sansa IV). This seems like GRRM's way of telling us that the coins are significant but he wants us to wonder about them for awhile. When Jaime meets and hears the story of the undergaoler, Rennifer Longwaters, he says he almost mistook the man for Aegon the Conqueror. We assume he's being sarcastic, as the man seems weird and unimportant and low-born, in spite of his story of descent from a Targaryen princess. But the coin Qyburn claims to have found in Rugen's cell dates from before the conquest, he says. Cersei wants to suspect that the Tyrells are plotting against her or are trying to take over and rule the Seven Kingdoms. Her assumption that the coin was paid by the Tyrells to Rugen is a big leap of logic, but reflects the suspicions already planted in her mind. My own guess is that the author wants us to think about Garth Greenhand here - the king on the coin is Garth the Twelfth. Green seems to have a lot of meanings in the books, but I see it in connection with characters I call "kingmakers," for lack of a better term. The Green Grace, possibly Lommy Greenhands. The name "Rugen" might be wordplay on the German word for green, "grün". Why does the author bother to throw in these details about the conquest or "before the conquest" while his characters are trying to solve mysteries about a missing prisoner, a disguised and missing jailer, a bunch of secret tunnels under the Red Keep and the murder of the King's Hand? I suspect the elaborate set of symbols GRRM has constructed around jailers, coins, treasures and chamber pots is a set of clues to a larger, central mystery of the series: who is the rightful ruler of the Seven Kingdoms? One of the clues that leads me to speculate about this is the author's deliberate use of the British spelling, "gaoler," instead of the American spelling he usually uses in the American editions of his books: "jailer." What if he's using some wordplay to tell us that these jailer characters are "regal" symbols? I suspect that somehow the jailers represent royal persons. We just need to look at them with a deliberate analytical eye to put together the deeper meaning in the details surrounding them. The examples of Arianne (imprisoned by Prince Doran) and the Dragonknight and Aerys at Duskendale (imprisoned by Darklyns, who were ancient kings) may underscore the idea that jailers are related to kings. But their liberation from their temporary imprisonments may also relate to this next point, about the apparent fine line, or easy reversal of situations, for jailers and kings. Jailers as Prisoners Like "Rugen," Ser Ilyn lives in conditions similar to the dungeon cells he oversees: . . . it had been left to Rennifer Longwaters, the head undergaoler with the twisted back who claimed at tedious length to have a "drop of dragon" in him, to unlock the dungeon doors for Jaime and conduct him up the narrow steps inside the walls to the place where Ilyn Payne had lived for fifteen years. The chambers stank of rotted food, and the rushes were crawling with vermin. As Jaime entered, he almost trod upon a rat. Payne's greatsword rested on a trestle table, beside a whetstone and a greasy oilcloth. The steel was immaculate, the edge glimmering blue in the pale light, but elsewhere piles of soiled clothing were strewn about the floors, and the bits of mail and armor scattered here and there were red with rust. Jaime could not count the broken wine jars. The man cares for naught but killing, he thought, as Ser Ilyn emerged from a bedchamber that reeked of overflowing chamber pots. "His Grace bids me win back his riverlands," Jaime told him. "I would have you with me . . . if you can bear to give up all of this." Silence was his answer, and a long, unblinking stare. But just as he was about to turn and take his leave, Payne had given him a nod. (AFfC, Jaime III) Ser Ilyn accompanies Jaime through the Riverlands, helping him to regain his skills with a sword, using his remaining left hand. He also listens to Jaime's angry confessions about his love affair with Cersei among other things. The other Payne, Podrick, becomes a traveling companion for Brienne. Pod wants to find Tyrion and Brienne seeks Sansa Stark. Is Pod - who shares Ser Ilyn's coat of arms - a symbolic jailer? Or is he more of a liberated former prisoner when he sets out from King's Landing? Blindness and Stench In addition to the coins and chamber pots, I notice that there may be a motif around imprisonment and blindness. Ned notes that when he is thrown into a Black Cell, "Once the door had slammed shut, he had seen no more. The dark was absolute. He had as well been blind" (AGoT, Eddard XV). Bael's imprisoned cousin is named Aemon Targaryen, a name associated with a blind character more familiar to readers. There are a number of references to the unpleasant smell of jailers, although that might be a variation on the bucket of shit motif. Some (potentially) relevant excerpts As I was researching this post, I pulled up some excerpts to see if I could discern meaning in patterns of repetition. I'm not confident that I was entirely successful, but I'll share some of those additional excerpts here, in case someone in the forum spots something I missed. It was a few days after Alebelly's bath that Ser Rodrik returned to Winterfell with his prisoner, a fleshy young man with fat moist lips and long hair who smelled like a privy, even worse than Alebelly had. "Reek, he's called," Hayhead said when Bran asked who it was. (ACoK, Bran V) Catelyn shouldered aside the heavy wood-and-iron door and stepped into foul darkness. This was the bowels of Riverrun, and smelled the part. Old straw crackled underfoot. The walls were discolored with patches of nitre. Through the stone, she could hear the faint rush of the Tumblestone. The lamplight revealed a pail overflowing with feces in one corner and a huddled shape in another. The flagon of wine stood beside the door, untouched. So much for that ploy. I ought to be thankful that the gaoler did not drink it himself, I suppose. (ACoK, Catelyn VII) "On my honor as a Lannister." "Your honor as a Lannister is worth less than this." She kicked over the waste pail. Foul-smelling brown ooze crept across the floor of the cell, soaking into the straw. Jaime Lannister backed away from the spill as far as his chains would allow. "I may indeed have shit for honor, I won't deny it, but I have never yet hired anyone to do my killing. Believe what you will, Lady Stark, but if I had wanted your Bran dead I would have slain him myself." (ACoK, Catelyn VII) Sometimes she wished she had gone off across the narrow sea with Jaqen H'ghar. She still had the stupid coin he'd given her, a piece of iron no larger than a penny and rusted along the rim. One side had writing on it, queer words she could not read. The other showed a man's head, but so worn that all his features had rubbed off. He said it was of great value, but that was probably a lie too, like his name and even his face. That made her so angry that she threw the coin away, but after an hour she got to feeling bad and went and found it again, even though it wasn't worth anything. She was thinking about the coin as she crossed the Flowstone Yard, struggling with the weight of the water in her pail. "Nan," a voice called out. "Put down that pail and come help me." Elmar Frey was no older than she was, and short for his age besides. He had been rolling a barrel of sand across the uneven stone, and was red-faced from exertion. (ACoK, Arya X) I wonder what the High Septon would have to say about the sanctity of oaths sworn while dead drunk, chained to a wall, with a sword pressed to your chest? Not that Jaime was truly concerned about that fat fraud, or the gods he claimed to serve. He remembered the pail Lady Catelyn had kicked over in his cell. A strange woman, to trust her girls to a man with shit for honor. Though she was trusting him as little as she dared. She is putting her hope in Tyrion, not in me. "Perhaps she is not so stupid after all," he said aloud. (ASoS, Jaime I) Those purple eyes grew huge then, and the royal mouth drooped open in shock. He lost control of his bowels, turned, and ran for the Iron Throne. Beneath the empty eyes of the skulls on the walls, Jaime hauled the last dragonking bodily off the steps, squealing like a pig and smelling like a privy. A single slash across his throat was all it took to end it. (ASoS, Jaime II) "Cersei ended that when she replaced Ser Barristan on grounds of age. A suitable gift to the Faith will persuade the High Septon to release you from your vows. Your sister was foolish to dismiss Selmy, admittedly, but now that she has opened the gates—" "—someone needs to close them again." Jaime stood. "I am tired of having highborn women kicking pails of shit at me, Father. No one ever asked me if I wanted to be Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, but it seems I am. I have a duty—" "You do." Lord Tywin rose as well. "A duty to House Lannister. You are the heir to Casterly Rock. That is where you should be. (ASoS, Jaime VII) Did you know the Darklyns were kings in Duskendale before the Andals come? You'd never know t'look at me, but I got me royal blood. Can you see it? 'Your Grace, another cup of ale,' I ought to make them say. 'Your Grace, the chamber pot needs emptying, and fetch in some fresh faggots, Your Bloody Grace, the fire's going out.'" She laughed again and shook the last drops from the pail. "Well, there you are. Is that water hot enough for you?" (AFfC, Brienne II) The Blackfish wheeled his mare and trotted back toward Riverrun. The portcullis descended with a rush, its iron spikes biting deep into the muddy ground. Jaime turned Honor's head about for the long ride back to the Lannister siege lines. He could feel the eyes on him; the Tully men upon their battlements, the Freys across the river. If they are not blind, they'll all know he threw my offer in my teeth. He would need to storm the castle. Well, what's one more broken vow to the Kingslayer? Just more shit in the bucket. Jaime resolved to be the first man on the battlements. And with this golden hand of mine, most like the first to fall. (AFfC, Jaime VI) At the Green Fork, he had fought in mismatched scraps of plate from Lord Lefford's wagons, with a spiked bucket helm that made it look as if someone had upended a slops pail over his head. This company steel was worse. (ADwD, Tyrion XII)
  15. I've tried to figure out when he might have died, if he died at an earlier age. The best I could come up with was in the Stepstones, during the War of the Ninepenny Kings. Tywin made friends before that point - Prince Aerys, Steffon Baratheon, Joanna Lannister - but returned to Casterly Rock after the war described as "ruthless." The qualities of being ruthless and making friends aren't mutually exclusive, but this seemed like a possible turning point to me. On the other hand, a good shadowbinder might also try to avoid showing an obvious change in personality - if the goal was to manipulate Tywin into making certain administrative decisions, a change in personality might have been a giveaway. Tywin certainly served the King and the Seven Kingdoms for many years. While his position also gave him the opportunity to advance Lannister interests, there was some public service - and lots of power and control - involved in the job of Hand of the King. The motive for shadowbinding him could have been his friendship with Aerys - he was likely to stay close to the monarch, given their youthful bond. It was a bonus that he also became Hand of the King. If he hadn't become the King's Hand, I suppose his puppetmaster could have let him "die" and looked for a way to control someone else close the Aerys. My current line of somewhat crackpot thinking about hidden motives is that people are working behind the scenes not to restore the Targaryens to the throne, but to install the descendants of Corlys Velaryon and King Baelor I's sister Eleana. Corlys and Eleana were both powers behind the throne and (essentially) Masters of Coin during a couple of regimes. I think the trick is to keep an eye on the Master of Coin over the years - the people who manipulate "dragons". (I also think that Viserys II was an imposter, substituted for the real Viserys who died during the Dance of the Dragons. Corlys may have suspected that this conveniently rediscovered Viserys, already married to a banking family from Essos, was a fake. He started the groundwork to unseat this banker's spawn and "restore" the Targs with descendants of Eleana. But I digress.) If Tywin was some kind of undead puppet, I suspect the motive for controlling him might connect to this bit of news from the Princess and the Queen: Ser Tyland Lannister was named master of coin in place of the late Lord Beesbury, and acted at once to seize the royal treasury. The crown’s gold was divided into four parts. One part was entrusted to the care of the Iron Bank of Braavos for safekeeping, another sent under strong guard to Casterly Rock, a third to Oldtown. The remaining wealth was to be used for bribes and gifts, and to hire sellswords if needed. When was that gold returned? Was it returned? If there was massive or ongoing embezzlement at the Red Keep, who was involved in it and how did they benefit? Who had motives to cover up the theft? If I'm right about Viserys II being an imposter Targaryen, I suspect that Braavosi bankers, such as House Rogare, are behind the theft. In addition to Larra Rogare marrying Viserys II, a Rogare uncle married into House Martell. If Martells were working with Braavosi bankers and/or Lannisters and/or Hightowers or the Citadel, this could explain some of Doran's mysterious long-range plan for manipulating Targaryens and for controlling Westeros. Follow those three portions of missing gold . . .