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  1. One explanation I've seen is that these chapters echo important legends or put the narrator in the position of becoming an archetype. The chapter title refers to an important hero or a story from the past or someone in a prophecy. Or maybe the character's POV serves as a model for something that will happen in the arc of a more central figure in the plot. An interesting brief note of comparison between Hotah and Darkstar just came up on another thread: Maybe Hotah's special quality is that he is half in light and half in shadow, and this gives him an ability to see things that others can't see. I think that Shadows are often associated with weapons, for what it's worth, although I'm sure they are more complex than just a single layer of meaning.
  2. This is very good. There's more to Littlefinger than just a creepy, power-hungry guy with a chip on his shoulder. And there's more to Sweetrobin than just a sickly little whiner. Nice catch.
  3. Wow, I never noticed that v.15

    Nice catch on all this imagery. I thought all the rotten meat during the Walk of Shame was connected to the butcher king motif, but your analysis is very persuasive. Could be both pregnancy and butcher king imagery, I suppose. I had been thinking that Joffrey's death is something of a "miscarriage" scene for Cersei: I suppose there are so many symbolic deaths and rebirths in the books that it starts to be difficult to know when there might be a real pregnancy that is hidden and then results in a miscarriage. Edit: I suppose this could be Joffrey "impregnating" Cersei, not Joffrey as a stillborn baby. (Cersei tells the Ossifer Plumm story as part of the scene with the dead chick inside the hard-boiled egg. Plumm died during his bedding and may or may not have impregnated his young wife before he expired.) There is a lot of "kill the boy and let the man be born" symbolism in Joffrey's death. The three men who seem to be born or reborn after his death are Jaime (who returns to King's Landing after being a prisoner of war), Tyrion (who hatches from the wine barrel in Essos) and Ser Robert Strong. The latter is clearly born anew after Cersei's walk of shame, so maybe he is the "stillborn infant" to which she gives birth. In his POV, Kevan is frank about the fact that the guy is known to be dead.
  4. I find Areo's POV refreshing as he is one of the few POV characters who is not high-born. Here are the other characters (or aspects of their stories) I think we are supposed to compare to Areo Hotah: Davos - Sent on a mission to find a "prince" (Rickon) and the unique weapon that identifies him (Shaggydog). I believe that Darkstar may be Jahaerys, a son of Aerys and Rhaella, who was taken from King's Landing as an infant after the mysterious deaths of a number of royal babies. Davos is the other non-highborn POV as well, and Davos is extremely loyal to his king, as Areo is loyal to his prince. Asha Greyjoy - Asha jokes that an axe thrown across a crowded feast table is her "husband." Areo is married to his axe. There is also an interesting axe relationship between Lord Commander Mormont and Craster. Craster lets it be known that he needs a new axe to protect his wives and Mormont immediately provides him with a beautiful one that, later, Craster is picking up when he is slain. I don't know if the symbolism is that Mormont "marries" Craster, or that weapons and wives go together. (Note: Catelyn observes that Robb is married to his sword toward the end of AGoT. Not quite the same as this axe motif, but may relate to the idea of being married to a weapon.) Hodor - Prince Doran is crippled by his gout and must be gently wheeled around in his wheelchair. Bran is crippled by a spinal injury and must be carried around in a basket. The Hound - Areo has a paternal affection toward Princess Arianne. The Hound's affection for Sansa is more on the lusty side. But both men are guards. Guards and guides - I felt the author was comparing Ser Arys Oakheart to Yoren in early chapters where Yoren was guiding Arya safely out of King's Landing and Ser Arys was guiding Sansa to Joffrey's name day tournament. Yoren ends up beating Arya's behind as punishment for her attack on Hot Pie; Ser Arys had lightly beaten Sansa when Joffrey ordered the King's Guard to humiliate and punish her for Robb's victories against Lannister forces. There could probably be a whole thread devoted to the King's Guard and Rainbow Guard and other guard-like figures. Lord Beric Dondarrion may be part of this group, too. Areo is definitely part of this complex brotherhood of guards. If I were making a prediction about what's next for Areo, I would guess that he eventually succeeds in his mission of finding Darkstar and whatever weapon he might hold, although Areo might die in the process. (The death of Ser Arys may have foreshadowed this.) On the other hand, I don't see death in the cards for Davos and I suspect that Davos's quest to find Rickon will share similarities with Areo's quest to find Darkstar.
  5. One interesting aspect of the snow castle scene is that Littlefinger has to instruct Sansa in how to build some parts of the snow castle: e.g., he tells her to pack snow around sticks to make the bridges and to cover up the gargoyles (probably a symbol of Tyrion) with piles of snow. Perhaps even more important, for this symbolism around eyes, is that he uses his little finger to make window holes in the towers of the snow castle. In other words, he and his action of creation allows people to see. (There was a significant scene in AGoT where the newly-crippled and awoken Bran sits by the window in his room, foreshadowing opening his third eye.) If GloubieBoulga is right about the bastard = freedom symbolism, this provides a new perspective on Littlefinger. Maybe his role for Sansa is similar to a role Tyrion played for Jon, when he told him to embrace his status as a bastard and to make it his armor. By turning Sansa into his "natural daughter," and by helping her to builld the snow version of Winterfell, maybe he is helping her to achieve freedom (in a weird, twisted way). He even kills her aunt, who is one of the few remaining adult relatives in a position to protect Sansa, severing her ties to the family lines that restrict her. But I have always been intrigued that Littlefinger tells Sansa that they have no way to build the glass for the glass house, completely overlooking that small pieces of sheet ice would be perfect for this part of the castle. Which brings us back - again - to ice / eyes. In this case, missing ice just as Ned's eyes were missing from the skull and Ned's sword, Ice, was missing from the skeleton that Catelyn looked upon. Maybe GRRM's point is that the fake father can provide some kinds of sight (windows in the snow towers) but only Ned can provide eyes / Ice.
  6. Medusa might be Catelyn / Lady Stoneheart. Catelyn sees her reflection in Renly's armor shortly before he dies.
  7. Agreed! Hot Pie is a real sleeper character - hiding in plain sight while GRRM uses him as a major symbol and (I hope) plans an important and/or dramatic future for him. On the Puns and Wordplay thread, the group recognized an interesting set of puns around pain / pain / Payne - the kind of pain you feel from an injury, the French word for bread and the person who carries out the King's Justice (and/or Podrick Payne). But the bread layer of meaning also ties into the flour / flower wordplay. And the name Hot Pie ties into the complex symbol around pies and tarts. I think it is significant that Hot Pie comes from the same general neighborhood as Gendry (not to mention Davos and Ser Duncan the Tall) and that he chooses to stay with Gendry and practice his trade with the Brotherhood Without Banners (King Robert's men) when Arya moves on. He is important in both Gendry and Arya's arcs, but I think he now becomes a particularly important symbol for Gendry - maybe Gendry will "rise" at some point, the way that bread rises before baking. (Hmm. "Dawn" rises in the east; Bread rises with yeast.) For what it's worth, in real life, "Widow's Wail" is the name of a blue flower. I always end up coming back to swords, somehow. Holy crap this is excellent. I have been so focused on the Odysseus allusions in Tyrion's travels that it didn't occur to me there might be another whole layer of mythological allusions. It's fascinating to realize that Penny seems to play the role of "the gods" in the Tyrion-as-Perseus story line: more than once, she gives him a shield, helps him find armor and a helm. I also thought of Tyrion's emergence from the wine barrel as the "hatching" of a dragon egg, but the Perseus story adds another great layer of meaning. (Layer of eggs, get it? Sorry, I couldn't resist.) Really great insights. Thanks for sharing. I think you are getting at something very important and central to a lot of the characters and their stories. There is a lot of talk of the "blood" carried by nobleborn people, or the name they carry or the gods their families worship. Are those markers of identity chains that restrict movement? Is a "bastard" character freer to act? One of the phrases used to describe out-of-wedlock births is that the child is from "the wrong side of the blanket." And blankets are sometimes used for warmth but sometimes as a death shroud or even to prevent escape, as when The Hound wraps Arya in a blanket at night while he is taking her back to her family. Later, at the House of Black and White, I think Arya wakes up happy one morning because she can have as many blankets as she likes, including one that reminds her of the blanket she used at Winterfell. I will look forward to more thinking about the idea of bastard = freedom. A very interesting idea.
  8. Yes, maybe the title of this thread should have been broader. I think there are lots of ways that GRRM is hinting at connections or that he wants us to compare characters from different eras. I've been so fascinated by the ways he uses wordplay from our universe that I hadn't thought about his use of in-universe root words to signal some common roots. I agree about the contractions as hints, too. He goes to so much trouble to explain the Karstark connection as a cadet branch of the Starks, and then raises the question of defining "kinslayer" in that context. It seems to me that he would not invest so much in this set-up unless we are going to see other, similar connections among families. Your comment reminded me of another of my favorite pairs of father / out-of-wedlock child characters: Quentyn Ball and Glendon Flowers. Glendon tries so hard to establish the connection with his presumed father, using his name and his sigil. It's touching, really, as his supposed father was not particularly successful or heroic. But he is legendary in Glendon's eyes, and the son wants to bring honor to his family by excelling at knighthood. Very nice catch! Aurane Waters is one of the characters I am most anxious to catch up with in the next books. He holds so much power and could tip the balance for or against one of the major protagonists. The Rains of Castamere symbolism in his name had escaped me, but the combination of "Au-" and "-rane" almost certainly has to allude to that motif. Cersei finds him so attractive - If he is an embodiment of some Rains of Castamere symbolism, I wonder whether he represents the most ruthless side of Tywin and the Lannisters? Or maybe he will be the "rain" that falls on the Lannisters, giving them a taste of their own medicine? I am in awe. These are the first explanations of these two critical passages that feels completely right to me. I tried to make sense of the "sweet" references at one point - some of them seemed sexual describing, for instance, Tyrion's attraction toward Sansa. But then he kept calling Cersei his sweet sister, and I really didn't think there was a hidden lust implied in these words. But the complicated nature of death in ASOIAF could explain a lot of the underlying meaning of the "sweet" references. Regarding Jon and Longclaw as the stone beast: the fact that Longclaw is a bastard sword may strengthen the connection of your interpretation to the unique status of a bastard in these stories. For the direwolf re-read, I just did a close reading of the Catelyn chapter in ACoK where Ned's bones have been laid out for her to view, and she observes that the skull doesn't look like Ned without his eyes: : “… one skull looks much like another, and in those empty hollows she found no trace of her lord’s dark grey eyes, eyes that could be soft as a fog or hard as stone.” Because I had just done a close reading of the chapter where Jon finds the obsidian cache at the Fist of the First Men, I had noticed that the author meant for us to compare the discovery of the direwolf pups by Robb in AGoT with the discovery of the dragonglass bundle by Jon in ACoK. So Catelyn's description of Ned's destroyed eyes as fog (could be a Grey Wind reference), and the stone (could be an obsidian reference) seemed to extend this comparison: Fog and stone. Soft and hard. Robb and Jon. And the eyes/Ice wordplay tells us there is a layer of sword symbolism here, too. But I digress: I meant to focus on the stone symbolism for Jon. Your "stone beast" interpretation is completely consistent with Jon's connection to dragonglass. I realize that all Stark lords "turn to stone" when their likenesses are sculpted in the Winterfell crypt, but the close proximity of the Catelyn and Jon chapters in ACoK tells me that the reference to Ned's eyes is deliberately connected to Jon as the one who finds important stones. (Stones that can "see," as we will discover later with the glass candles.) Thank you so much for these insights!
  9. On another thread, a comment by thereticent and follow-up by Damon_Tor raised the topic of double meanings or symbolism in the names of bastards. The original comment was about Sansa's initial discomfort with the lying required in going along with Littlefinger's schemes, and whether this made her a "loath stone" when she becomes Alayne Stone, alluding to the House Lothston heritage on her mother's side of the family. Damon_Tor followed up with: and My curiosity has always focused on the name of Jafer Flowers, which is about all we know of a guy who plays a very significant early role in the story. There are a lot of Flowers bastards, but this guy plays such a key symbolic role in the plot. His first name is the closest to Joffrey of any name in the books. The flower motif, with the Knight of Flowers, Lyanna's blue roses and even Sansa as "Roadside Rose," in the song that Merillion says he is writing about her seems significant. And then there is the wordplay on flour, with Ramsay as the son of the miller's wife and Jon Snow covered in flour, pretending to be a ghost in the Winterfell crypt. The Alayne Stone alias is almost certainly intended to show that the change that comes over Sansa after her escape from King's Landing is related to the change that comes over Catelyn when she becomes Lady Stoneheart. But there's more to it, I'm sure, and a good analysis of the "Stone" surname might help us to sort out the Harrenhal connection, since ruined castles are often described in terms of toppled stones or piles of stones or fragments of stone walls. One of the first "bastards" introduced to the reader is the baby Bara in the brothel at King's Landing. Her mother chose that given name as an obvious (although perhaps not quite discreet enough) tribute to her father, Robert Baratheon. This caused me to wonder what fate might have in store for Theon, who bears the other half of the same surname, although there is no apparent connection to the Baratheon family. The name "Gendry" is unique in the books, and it hit me on the third or fourth re-read that it might be related to the "green dye" occupation of Lommy Greenhands, who originates with Gendry and Hot Pie on the streets of Flea Bottom, and who dies at an early "symbolic rebirth" scene for Gendry. The Green Hands reference almost certainly alludes to Garth Greenhands, one of the big four in Westeros legends. Also, I can't help wondering whether there is a significance in Ramsay Snow and Jon Snow sharing the same name for awhile; something more meaningful than the fact that they were both raised in the North. I suspect that GRRM set them up deliberately as more-or-less opposites, but that he also wants us to compare them on some level. Which is your favorite name for a person born out of wedlock, and what do you think is the story behind his or her name? What does it mean that major characters like Sansa and Tyrion use bastard names at various points in the books? These are the nine surnames associated with nine regions in Westeros: Crownlands - Waters Dorne - Sand Iron Islands - Pyke North - Snow Reach - Flowers Riverlands - Rivers Stormlands - Storm Vale of Arryn - Stone Westerlands - Hill
  10. The Bat and the Wolf?

    I don't have too much material to start with, but do you mind if I start a thread?
  11. The Bat and the Wolf?

    This is a topic worth a thread of its own! I have always wished we could know the story behind the name of Jafer Flowers. There are a lot of Flowers bastards, but this guy plays such a key symbolic role in the plot. His first name is the closest to Joffrey of any name in the books. The flower motif, with the Knight of Flowers, Lyanna's blue roses and even Sansa as "Roadside Rose," in the song that Merillion says he is writing about her seems significant. And then there is the wordplay on flour, with Ramsay as the son of the miller's wife and Jon Snow covered in flour, pretending to be a ghost in the Winterfell crypt. The Alayne Stone alias is almost certainly intended to show that the change that comes over Sansa after her escape from King's Landing is related to the change that comes over Catelyn when she becomes Lady Stoneheart. But there's more to it, I'm sure, and a good analysis of the "Stone" surname might help us to sort out the Harrenhal connection, since ruined castles are often described in terms of toppled stones or piles of stones or fragments of stone walls. Do you want to start a "Double Meanings of Bastard Names" thread?
  12. Catelyn V Overview Catelyn and Brienne make their way from the camp of the late King Renly in the Reach back toward Riverrun. They hear news of Robb’s victory against Lannister forces at Oxcross. Brienne offers her services as a knight to Catelyn, provided Catelyn won’t hold her back from Stannis when the time comes. Catelyn’s brother Edmure describes a foiled plot by Lannister envoys to try to free the prisoner of war, Jaime Lannister, who is in the Riverrun dungeon. Edmure shares his plan to attack the larger Lannister force by teaming up with Frey and Bolton forces. Catelyn visits her dying father, whose confused remarks reveal that Lysa, before she was married, was involved with a young man of whom her father did not approve. Silent Sisters have delivered Ned Stark’s bones to Riverrun as a peace gesture from Tyrion. Catelyn views the bones, notes that Ned’s sword is missing, and asks the Silent Sisters to deliver the bones to Winterfell. Observations A Frey bannerman recounts details of Robb’s victory over Lannister forces at Oxcross, the same engagement already referred to in Sansa III and Arya VIII. A singer has already written a song about it called, “Wolf in the Night.” Grey Wind reportedly led a line of riders along a goat track, slipping undetected around Lannister watchtowers. “There’s some say that after the battle, the king cut out Stafford Lannister’s heart and fed it to the wolf.” When Martyn Rivers says, “The Greatjon’s been heard to say that the old gods of the north sent those direwolves to your children,” Catelyn recalls the day “her boys” found the pups in the late summer snows. “No common wolves, she thought. No indeed.” At the end of the chapter, Ned’s bones have been laid out and then covered with “the white banner of House Stark with its grey direwolf sigil.” Under the banner, “They had dressed the bones in Ned’s surcoat, the fine white velvet with the direwolf badge over the heart . . .” Catelyn asks that the silent sisters take the bones to Winterfell, and she thinks to herself that “they will make a statue of him, a stone likeness that will sit in the dark with a direwolf at his feet and a sword across his knees.” Analysis Catelyn’s recollection of the discovery of the direwolf pups, as well as her reunion with Ned’s bones, may parallel Jon Snow’s discovery of the dragonglass cache wrapped in a cloak in the Jon IV chapter. In the earlier analysis, I pointed out that the obsidian weapons were described as a bundle, and that Robb’s wolf pup was described as a bundle when he was newly discovered. We are reminded in this chapter that Grey Wind has been a sort of magical weapon for Robb Stark. (The line about the wolf eating Stafford Lannister’s heart may even have been an Azor Ahai allusion, with the second sword plunged into the heart of a lion, or a reference to Joffrey’s sword, Hearteater.) When Catelyn sees Ned’s bones, she recalls his eyes and compares them to fog and to stone: “… one skull looks much like another, and in those empty hollows she found no trace of her lord’s dark grey eyes, eyes that could be soft as a fog or hard as stone.” The fog could be a Grey Wind reference, and the stone could be an obsidian reference. Soft and hard. Robb and Jon. Catelyn says to herself, “They gave his eyes to crows.” This would be an accurate description of Jon joining the Night’s Watch, the members of which are often described as crows. Is there also a double meaning for Robb in this crow reference? Has he been given to crows? Is it part of a crow / crown pun? Or foreshadowing his “murder”? (In English, a group of crows is called “a murder of crows”.) Since she is thinking of Ned’s eyes, there is also a pun here about Ice. And that particular sword is the next thing she notices is missing: the sword laid out with the bones is not Ned’s sword. So this bundle is incomplete – it does not contain Ned’s eyes or the weapon that goes with it. By contrast, Robb’s wolf pup bundle contained the “weapon” that would become Grey Wind and Jon’s obsidian cache was full of arrowheads, spear points and dagger blades. Further reading and discussion NorthernXY started a discussion in March 2017 comparing dragon glass to eyes In April 2016, sweetsunray posted a great analysis of Catelyn noticing Ned’s missing sword compared to the Isis / Osiris myth. (Scroll down to the section labeled “Osiris’ coffin, Isis and the golden phallus and Demeter of the golden sword”.) The part of this chapter that describes the attempt to free Jaime and the hanging of the Lannister envoys seems to foreshadow the situation where Edmure will be made to stand with a noose around his neck until he is freed by Jaime. Some thoughts about the comparison are posted here.
  13. The Bat and the Wolf?

    That is excellent!
  14. Old Places / Pale Cold

    Nice catch. Very interesting details. The excerpt you cited where Arya hears Ned's voice seems linked to an earlier passage, where the living Ned told Arya about her future: "You," Ned said, kissing her lightly on the brow, "will marry a king and rule his castle, and your sons will be knights and princes and lords and, yes, perhaps even a High Septon." The prediction about a High Septon among Arya's future children would indicate that Ned has southron ambitions for her (which seems odd for a guy who really didn't want to leave Winterfell to become the King's Hand). But it might reinforce this notion that Arya's "place" is somewhere other than Winterfell; she is "of" Winterfell, but perhaps she no longer belongs there. The line she speaks, "I'm not even me now, I'm Nan," strikes me as very significant. There is another active thread now that began with the idea that Old Nan is Walder Frey's sister, who was married to Lord Butterwell in one of the Dunk & Egg novellas. I think an additional place to look for clues about Old Nan is in Arya's story. When she uses the name Nan, and tells someone it is short for Nymeria (which is the name of a queen), the author may be giving us a big hint that Arya's future will be similar to that of Old Nan. Speaking of the High Septon, for the Puns and Wordplay thread, I recently looked at the words "step" and "sept." There are many references to Ned's death on the steps of the sept, and @sweetsunray had an interesting theory that Ned's bones might be among the bones piled around the statue of Baelor the Blessed back at the same place where he died. If Ned's bones end up entombed in the Great Sept of Baelor, maybe that will turn out to be the place where Arya (or her sons) find that they now "belong." But there's another clue in the excerpt you cite: strong. The word "strong" is used six times to describe the Fist of the First Men, while the word "old" is used only a couple of times. I found that the word "hard" was used to describe north men in the old times, which is what made me suspect that Hard Home might be a place of origin for the Stark family line. But I like the theory you shared with me that the Fist of the First Men might be their original home. And since there is also a House Strong connection for Harrenhal, this "strong" motif could tie Arya and some of the family places together. This could lead us right back to Stark, though, because the German word for "strong" is . . . stark.
  15. I get a very strong Littlefinger vibe from both the appearance and behavior of Uthor Underleaf. Uthor's sigil is grey and green; Petyr's eyes are grey and green. Wiki: Uthor had small, shrewd, close-set eyes with thin, arching eyebrows. He kept his black beard neat and had a receding hairline. Petyr has sharp features, a small pointed beard on his chin, and dark hair with threads of grey running through it. Uthor's attempt to recruit Dunk into his elaborate tourney scam and his use of bribes to manipulate officials and opponents seems like stuff Littlefinger would do. He is also more interested in wealth than in renown but what he really wants a dragon egg. There may be something to Uthor's anger that his squire accepted "traitor's gold," a Blackfyre gold dragon as payment for a debt. At the end of the story, Egg persuades Brynden Rivers to pay Dunk's debt to Uthor so, in a way, Uthor ultimately does obtain a Targaryen "dragon" (if the debt is paid in gold). Symbolic of both obtaining a "dragon" and of becoming a master of coin. I haven't examined the Hightowers in detail, but I would love to see a Martell-Littlefinger connection. Maybe Littlefinger is the secret friend of the Martells at the court. We are told that Baelish's grandfather had been a sellsword from Braavos. What if Uthor took his wealth over to Braavos when people started to get suspicious of his tournament record? Or maybe he aged out of the tournament business and found employment with House Corbray, inventing the Braavos story. If he married someone with a Martell connection (Rogare?) that could be the link. I don't think the leeches and snail are a very close match. The snail carries its house and/or its armor on its back, which would be a good symbol for a knight who travels from tourney to tourney. (I think the lobster and crab shell references in the books may refer to armor, for what that's worth.) There is also a reference to the trail of slime that a snail leaves behind. Leeches suck blood and, aside from living in water and being squishy if you step on them, don't seem much like snails at all. There has been discussion in the forum of worms, leeches and dragons as related symbols - based on medieval references to dragons as wyrms, I think. But who knows? Uthor is an interesting character. I'm glad there is a thread about him.