ravenous reader

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About ravenous reader

  • Rank
    The Poetess of the Nennymoans

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Under the See

Recent Profile Visitors

2,755 profile views
  1. 'The Killing Word' -- A Re-examination of the Prologue

    @LmL Isn't that pun ('quarrel') great? @Pain killer Jane and I were just discussing that one the other day, with respect to Walder Frey vs. Robb and Jaime vs. Brienne, but I had not thought of your excellent example! Walder Frey's sharp-tongued quarrel with the Starks translated as the sharp arrows unleashed at the Red Wedding in response to Robb having broken his word. It's important to note that the Red Wedding was justified by the perpetrators on the basis of a broken word, so in a way Robb with his own 'killing word' (via which Robb would be the figurative 'blue falcon' here, even before Frey acted as a blue falcon in turn) brought his own death upon himself. Fitting how the 'quarrel in the mouth' like the dagger in Will's mouth underscores the correlation between quarrels as words -- since we produce words with our mouths -- and correspondingly quarrels as a physical backlash in response to the words we utter. Hence, the quarrel coming back at him through his open mouth and through his neck. In similar fashion, the wighted Waymar strangles Will in response for his treachery (which I'm positing started with his words, as indicated by the dagger in the mouth). In the case of Jaime, there's that delightfully witty episode in which Jaime is being disingenuous, denying the hurtful impact of his words -- the 'quarrel' -- directed at Brienne. It's ironic given that Brienne despite being the one with the sword is disarmed by Jaime's 'killing words'! LOL A tour de force...clap (can't find emoticon)!
  2. POEMS (or other sundry quotes) that remind you of ASOIAF

    I seem to be on a Bob Dylan tangent; but, hey, it's OK, he's this year's Nobel Prize winner for Literature -- so it's all very 'canonical' -- a designation that would make him cringe; but hey, nevermind Bob, we can't always get what we want... A Dance with Dragons - Bran III Old Nan had told him the same story once, Bran remembered, but when he asked Robb if it was true, his brother laughed and asked him if he believed in grumkins too. He wished Robb were with them now. I'd tell him I could fly, but he wouldn't believe, so I'd have to show him. I bet that he could learn to fly too, him and Arya and Sansa, even baby Rickon and Jon Snow. We could all be ravens and live in Maester Luwin's rookery. That was just another silly dream, though. Some days Bran wondered if all of this wasn't just some dream. Maybe he had fallen asleep out in the snows and dreamed himself a safe, warm place. You have to wake, he would tell himself, you have to wake right now, or you'll go dreaming into death. Once or twice he pinched his arm with his fingers, really hard, but the only thing that did was make his arm hurt. In the beginning he had tried to count the days by making note of when he woke and slept, but down here sleeping and waking had a way of melting into one another. Dreams became lessons, lessons became dreams, things happened all at once or not at all. Had he done that or only dreamed it? Series of Dreams Bob Dylan I was thinking of a series of dreams Where nothing comes up to the top Everything stays down where it's wounded And comes to a permanent stop Wasn't thinking of anything specific Like in a dream, when someone wakes up and screams Nothing too very scientific Just thinking of a series of dreams Thinking of a series of dreams Where the time and the tempo fly And there's no exit in any direction 'Cept the one that you can't see with your eyes Wasn't making any great connection Wasn't falling for any intricate scheme Nothing that would pass inspection Just thinking of a series of dreams Dreams where the umbrella is folded Into the path you are hurled And the cards are no good that you're holding Unless they're from another world In one, the surface was frozen In another, I witnessed a crime In one, I was running, and in another All I seemed to be doing was climb Wasn't looking for any special assistance Not going to any great extremes I'd already gone the distance Just thinking of a series of dreams Dreams where the umbrella is folded Into the path you are hurled And the cards are no good that you're holding Unless they're from another world I'd already gone the distance Just thinking of a series of dreams Songwriters: Bob Dylan ETA: This song also reminds me of the most important prophecy, in case you missed it: A Game of Thrones - Catelyn II Bran can bridge that distance. He is a sweet boy, quick to laugh, easy to love.
  3. A step back and a look at "time" in ASOIAF on the grand scale.

    Have a lovely weekend Mac! I'm pleased you can see the funny, or at least grimly ironic, side of the 'mocking' and 'counter-mocking'...
  4. A step back and a look at "time" in ASOIAF on the grand scale.

    @Macgregor of the North, this is the crux of the debate and why it's not possible to decisively declare victory either way. Dorian among others chooses to interpret the 'rustling' as a more innocuous literary device vs. you and I among others who interpret it more literally. The same deal with the intent behind the inscrutable 'frown' -- Dorian etc. chooses to view that skeptically, without ascribing any specific causality; vs you and I etc. who view the event as more pregnant with meaning, specifically indicating a mystical meeting of the minds, in which the present/future is capable of impregnating the past, as it were -- which unfortunately we cannot however prove took place, no matter how many times we go around in circles repeating our positions ad nauseum. The fact remains: we simply do not have enough info at our disposal right now to declare the case shut. We can intuit and deduce based on GRRM's coy, open-ended, weasel-slick poetry to our heart's content -- nevertheless, we remain in nebulous territory in which the weasel constantly eludes us in the burrow. Whatever we conclude will be a leap, based on our own peculiar predilections. Another example of the same dynamic can be found in the differing approaches you and I have demonstrated in assigning causality in the ongoing debate about 'what exactly it was that caused Waymar's sword to crack,' in which you, strangely enough, have been found taking Dorian's traditional no-nonsense, skeptical, less metaphorical approach, whereas I in contrast inexplicably find myself in your position (vis a vis DM now...) listening to music you fail to hear! Oh the irony... In particular, I do not find it coincidental that the Other's speech is described as 'ice cracking', and that the first thing that happens after we hear this 'ice cracking' for the very first time is that Waymar's sword turned to ice finally 'cracks' ('shatters', 'breaks'...these are all synonyms). What's more I do not read this episode in isolation, but rather relate it to other pivotal 'cracking' events, of which there are many, including the archetypal Lightbringer forging event, in which, please note, GRRM's language conveys that a sound -- not a sword -- cracked the moon. Let me repeat: A SOUND CRACKED THE MOON (since you are so keen on importing significance to his selected sentence structure in which subjects and objects matter...e.g. Bran's voice as the subject of the sentence...). There are countless other examples of this pattern in which a sound prefaces, and moreover triggers, something breaking, but this is the most important one: I also think it's not inconceivable that the cry of the Other's sword rather than its touch did the damage to Waymar's sword. Even if you don't accept this argument, you still haven't explained why the sword cracked at that exact point in the narrative, and not before or after. As you've pointed out, it was already frosting over, so presumably there must have been a crucial tipping point, a point of no return, taking place at some point somewhere in the vulnerable window of the 'ductile-to-brittle transition' of the material (in this case, steel). If you look at the diagram in the link, you'll see that the breaking might occur anywhere on the lower end of the sigmoid curve (to the left of the stippled line). Here is another, more detailed article showing the window involved more clearly. Applied to our debate, the important moment is the tipping point seen now as the actual moment of breakage, rather than the moment of frosting, which unlike the moment of breakage is a continuum rather than a clearly-distinguishable moment. As you yourself have pointed out, the 'frosting' takes place over the course of the duel; vs. the shattering which happens all at once. My impression -- poetically speaking -- is that this 'tipping point' was provided by the delivery of the final blow in the form of the ice-cracking word of the Other. I'll concede this point. However, that doesn't rule out the 'cry' of the sword doing the damage! It also doesn't explain why the sword cracked when it did. I suppose you would say, like your 'favorite' @Dorian Martell's son that the timing of the events in relation to one another was 'just a fluke' -- I say not! The sword 'cracking' shortly follows the 'cracking' word (elsewhere in the text, we're told that voices 'crack' like whips to visible effect, so poetically this is a 'schtick' GRRM uses); just like the Others in the Prologue emerge from the wood almost immediately following Will's 'whispered' (and treacherous) prayer. For me, the timing is not a fluke. Fair enough. But 'frosting' is not equal to 'cracking' -- so you still haven't explained the dynamics of the cracking to my satisfaction, alas! That was the crucial moment, yes. Here's another example, and then I'm a 'done man' (just like Dorian): So here the Wall is analogous to a sword (and it's frequently compared to a sword throughout the text) -- let's say Waymar's sword for the purposes of the analogy I'm drawing. To be precise, Waymar's 'white with frost' sword, just before the cracking event. Notice, the pattern I've identified here again: first, the sound; then the shattering. The sound of ice cracking -- analogous to the voice of the Other -- definitely precedes the visible crack and 'rain of shards', the latter analogous to the evidence of Waymar's sword finally shattering. That implies that Waymar's sword might actually in effect have cracked at the moment we heard the Other speak, even before the damage was visible, and the more explosive effects of the catastrophe ensued! ETA: In summary, just as you believe Bran's voice pierced through the veil of time and affected Ned, I believe the Other's voice affected Waymar and his sword! I call it the 'killing word'...
  5. Lyanna Stark: A Gift from Old Gods

    Hi Leech On the one hand, I agree it's odd that sex without 'finishing inside' wouldn't be counted as treason -- since would one really trust ones rival (especially the hapless Lancel of less-than-surgical acuity) to 'pull out' in time; and therefore as a man could one really be sure (especially in a vexatious medieval age sans reliable paternity tests) that the ensuing offspring in which one was investing were really ones own legacy and not a worthless investment, from a purely genetic perspective (I don't want to get into an argument here about the rewards of adoption)? On the other hand, sex that does not result in children might as well never have happened (again from that purely genetic endowment viewpoint); whereas children ensuing from an illicit encounter, however, are very definitely treason made flesh -- so maybe Lancel has a point (pun fully unintended, of course)! I'm not sure where you're getting the C-section vibe here! Perhaps you could elaborate? 'Lancel' reminds me of 'lance' = (to) prick; and 'lancet' = scalpel; so I suppose there are both reproductive and surgical associations to be mined, in the vein of Voice's notion of how in some unfortunate circumstances a woman's first 'bloody-bladed' experience (= losing her maidenhood) might also directly lead to and moreover embody her last (= fatal C-section). The sentence 'Bastards are seldom made upon the belly' sure is peculiar. I'm not sure what to make of it, beyond it's obvious meaning employed by Lancel in his own exculpatory defense. Are you suggesting it might be some veiled reference to how if someone is delivered via C-section -- i.e. literally 'upon the belly' -- instead of vaginally; that somehow that infant might escape the taint of bastardy on a technicality? Apart from being misogynistic, in its suggestion that the 'taint' is carried by the treacherous passage of the vagina; that would seem to be stretching the limits of semantic credibility! 'Spilling the seed' anywhere but the womb might also be interpreted as a kind of 'abortive' gesture -- the 'no harm done' which Lancel expresses -- whereby the lives of the unborn bastards are nullified. It reminds me of that passage in which Cersei fantasizes about 'eating Robert's heirs' (in somewhat 'rat king' style), curiously juxtaposed with an obvious C-section motif towards the end of the passage: Are we supposed to wonder whether an heir to the throne was abducted/symbolically aborted/surgically removed?
  6. A step back and a look at "time" in ASOIAF on the grand scale.

    Yes, I agree; that's an astute observation. I even pointed that out on the thread previous to this one dealing with the same subject (which blew up after Mac and DM traded barbs, and my attempts to whip them into shape yielded nought...) before we relocated here. Because the 'rustle' of the greenseer would get lost amongst all the other background rustling, it's very conceivable that the 'message' of the greenseer would get drowned out and not be transmitted with 'high fidelity.' That's why it's so significant that when Bran finally succeeds in articulating his message to someone (albeit in the present not past timeframe), this occurs on a 'windless night' (with Theon at the heart tree). In other words, somehow Bran either uses the ambient conditions to his advantage, or alternatively 'dials down the white noise', so that his message can come through clearly. In TWOW, Theon explicitly relates his perspective (which we ought to trust, unless one holds with the view that he is psychotic) as to how the leaves were moving despite the absence of wind, and that they were 'rustling his name'. So, what I think has occurred here is that one greenseer, Bran, was able to take sole possession of the tree without any competing voices -- like an operatic solo without a chorus to muffle her words! Analogously, Bran suppresses Hodor's own voice in order to take charge of it and Hodor's body for his own (abominable) uses. Hodor = weirwood = dragon for symbolic purposes. Whether this is possible to achieve in the past remains to be seen. Although I think it should be possible for Bran (he ends up doing everything people caution him not to do) and he truly does embody the Promethean idiom 'the sky's the limit', in so many ways; I think it's inconclusive at present, to be fair. Kind of like on 'the other thread' where we do not tolerate irony... -- although you may be gaining the edge over there ever so slightly (but maybe I'm biased, since I do love those 'mingy' direwolves, and anyone who harms one of them, even verbally, is on my watchlist for a good tongue lashing)!
  7. That's an intriguing observation (have I told you lately how clever you are, as God and the internet intended?! ) So you're saying that a 'duel' and a 'pyre' never take place together? I tend to equate being doused in blood to being drowned in flame, since I think blood and fire are equivalent currencies, e.g. we even see them placed together in the 'red' maw of the weirwood. In terms of the 'tent of joy,' Drogo was put into a bathtub of stallion's blood, following which the shadows, including of a man wreathed in flame, danced around the tent -- so that's all fiery enough imagery for me! In the case of the 'tower of joy' (uncapitalized, note...) Lyanna was drenched in her bed of blood while the archetypal duel took place outside, following which a funeral pyre was made by Ned (did he burn the tower down?). So, I'm not sure I'm following the significance of what you were suggesting? Could you explain further with illustrative examples? Fighting ice with ice... Yes, I agree the sable-clad Waymar is analogous to Drogon. Will to the soon-to-be treacherous Rhaegal. Gared is the Viserion analog. I predict that the fates of the brothers in the Prologue will correspond to those of the actual dragons, and that accordingly we'll see Drogon being killed as a consequence of Rhaegal, and thereafter being wighted. At that point, I expect Bran to skinchange him, because Dany will lose control of him. I think the Bran-Drogon combo is the Dawn sword! Black ice, though, not white! Wighted black ice...so 'white' in a punning sort of way. For sure. And @Crowfood's Daughter pointed out Jaremy Rykker's sable cloak was 'reappropriated' by one of his brothers, Thoren Smallwood after Rykker died and was wighted. If you read between the lines in the Prologue, Will was approaching to retrieve the 'spoils of war,' namely the sword and sable coat, no doubt, before the wighted Waymar intervened. The cloak implies power on the back of murdering ones own brother. That's why the brothers have that 'laugh' in the Prologue about Waymar no doubt having twisted the heads off all the 'sables' -- essentially, Euron has put this into practice literally, riding to power on the backs of his countless abominations, including kin(g)slaying(s). Can you expound a bit more on the distinction, please? We may have seen a visual demonstration of the ritual in the Prologue: So that would put Waymar in the position of the Last Hero, Will as Azor Ahai the villain, and the Other as white meteor sword (?)... Will and his sword both break (the Last Hero embodies the broken sword...fittingly, there's 'last hero' math with the number of cuts, namely the 12 slashes in the sable + the 1 eye wound). But then following being broken, Will rises again Last Hero Reborn (the sun/son of the Last Hero, or the resurrected LH), so the Others bring the Dawn...?! The sword in question is likened to a lightning-struck tree. In the analogy, the lightning is the Other's pale sword 'alive with light'; with the tree as the other sword (also pale, it's a weirwood). Does the lightning shatter the tree; or does the tree shatter the lightning? The 'koan' you posited is a real mindbender!
  8. 'The Killing Word' -- A Re-examination of the Prologue

    The word of God is a sword, flat out. No, judging from the guarded resistance in general to the idea of a 'killing word,' you're not stating the obvious (and anyway I like it when you state the obvious!) Funny you should mention it; @YOVMO had some great biblical and other observations along those lines here.
  9. A step back and a look at "time" in ASOIAF on the grand scale.

    Thanks @YOVMO . Those are all great examples! I would love it if you contributed on my 'Killing Word' thread (an allusion to the 'magical thinking' of the materialized-thought weapon in the movie 'Dune'). We will probably derail Macgregor's thread if we pursue our passion for this idea over here! I was actually thinking of you in particular over there when I wrote up my thoughts, with respect to your and Seams' excellent idea of 'piercing the hymenal gate' (those Saturday mornings you spent lying in bed, looking up the word 'hymen' in the etymological tome, have paid dividends ) with 'I am the sword' -- which is a figurative sword made of literal words! Your idea about protecting the speaker whilst simultaneously imprisoning him is interesting...I think that's what we see unfold in the Prologue. Will's words come back to haunt him when the wighted Waymar rises and strangles him -- literally crushing his voice box; so the words -- the poisonous ones I'm postulating he uttered against his brother (summoning the Others plus holding his treacherous silence) -- figuratively stick in his throat! That 'boomerang' trajectory -- the karmic offer that cannot be refused -- is fascinating. I see it in ASOIAF repeatedly, where the binder becomes bound (hoisted by his own petard), the hunter becomes the hunted, the curser accursed, etc. I hope I have demonstrated that 'words' (among which I include more generally all magical sounds, songs, etc.) may very well have played a part, and put a slight dent in your over-confidence in this matter. No probs. I don't mind if we disagree occasionally -- we'll always agree on the 'future' intruding on the 'past' irrevocably! I get where you're coming from. My aim in the 'killing word' thread was, as I explained in the intro, to approach the Prologue more symbolically, as an allegory of a possible archetypal conflict that may have taken place among a trio of brothers, one and or more of them greenseers, at the very heart of the saga. In fact, I specifically view the Prologue, as I explained in my thread, as an allegory for how and by whom the Long Night was triggered. Will is the trickster greenseer in the analogy who summoned the Others (or 'meteors,' if that's your predilection!) The giveaway for me was the word 'whispered' -- which I've identified in my many 'obsessively detailed' readings as a loaded 'greenseer-coded' word. While sticking to a tree (you should be thinking 'weirwood' by now), Will 'whispered a prayer to the nameless gods of the wood.' Who else are these nameless, faceless gods but the Others? Notice that as soon as he utters the prayer from the tree, the Others emerge from the wood on cue. Similarly, no sooner does the Other speak, the sword shatters on the very next 'lazy' parry. Again, I'm reading this as an allegory (the three Baratheon brothers in their tit-for-tat usurpation contest springs to mind). The Others are a projection of Will's deepest, darkest, most hateful fantasies -- born of his envy, resentment and anger towards the 'brother' who has been relentlessly mocking the other two, despite his relative ranging inexperience. By breaking faith with his brother, Will invites in the Others -- or perhaps Waymar did that via his mocking. But I see what you mean by the problems of literal transposition of my more psychological deconstruction of events. I see the relationship of Will the greenseer to the Others the way I see Stannis's shadow-assassination of his brother Renly. At the end, the 'shadow did it' is the account given; however, Brienne, Catelyn, Davos and Stannis all know who really summoned and sent that shadow against his brother. The Others are the scapegoats -- or perhaps they're the weapons harnessed for human consumption-- caught up in a human war. Likewise, I found the quote interesting in which Stannis jokes that there are so many slanderous rumors circulating that soon they will say that he 'magicked himself into the boar' that killed his brother Robert. Like the Other, the boar is the scapegoat. This got me wondering whether Renly might have orchestrated his brother's untimely demise. After all, shortly after Robert's death Renly seizes his opportunity to leapfrog to the top. In the same way, this dynamic is played out when the furtive Will makes his way down off the tree, in order to retrieve the spoils of war, which are also the symbols of a king's power: namely, his magical (lightning-struck) sword, and his sable coat: 'his crowning glory, thick and black and soft as sin' Crown = King Perhaps this 'same event' involved humans waging a war against each other using sorcery -- sorcerous 'killing words' to be exact! I believe this 'black moon rock that fell from the sky' did not come down by chance. A human greenseer used words in order to tinker around with the celestial bodies (that's why they're always singing and dancing -- the singing and dancing is what directly elicits the 'demons', the 'dragons', the 'Others', etc.) The particular 'dialect' of the True Tongue or song of the earth used in this instance is 'the song of stone'!
  10. A step back and a look at "time" in ASOIAF on the grand scale.

    I agree with your concern and caution. That's why I made the point at the end about how difficult it is to cleave the figurative from the literal in GRRM's prose. Before the Other speaks, the sword 'does the talking'! How can you tell whether it was the sound of the Other's sword or the touch of the sword which caused the frosting of Ser Waymar's sword, given that the 'anguished keening' and the touch occur simultaneously? For example, here as @Pain killer Jane once pointed out to me, Joffrey attacks Arya with both word and sword alike, attempting to break down her resistance. So why should it be any different with the Other -- the icy sword and the icy word can both cause Waymar's sword to crack? It's pretty suggestive that the Other's language is described as 'ice cracking' and then shortly after, Waymar's sword which has been turned to ice similarly 'cracks'! Let's go through the sequence of events methodically, paying special attention to the changing consistency of Ser Waymar's longsword: At the beginning, before the arrival of the Others, the longsword is of such a consistency that it produces a smooth reflection of 'moonlight running' along the sword. If the sword had been frosty at this point, it would not have been able to produce such a reflection, since once objects become frosted up, the resulting rough, matt finish tends to disrupts the reflective properties so that objects appear dull instead of shiny: Later on, once in the presence of the Other, but still before the blades have touched, Waymar's sword has the same consistency as earlier. Note that the same description is given, of 'moonlight running along the metal', although this time there seems to be a progression, since the moonlight is described as 'cold,' but not yet frosty! From this we may conclude, that the mere presence of the Others -- without touch nor sound -- is enough to cool the sword, however not enough to shatter it. Now, let's move on to the moment the swords meet: Note that on the meeting of the blades, the sound is emphasized by GRRM. Because it does not sound like the usual steel ring a normal sword would make, either the sound must be coming from the sword of the Other and/or Waymar's sword transformed by the sword of the Other in some way. GRRM makes a big deal of the 'high, thin sound at the edge of hearing', and this is not the only instance of his 'aural' preoccupation with the 'killing word' (yes I will keep using that term, until you all get it, in the end ). This is more important than you might think; in fact, it happens to be the exact description of the voice of the three-eyed-crow on intruding on Bran's consciousness: Again, the same pattern: first, the sound; then the touch. The same pattern can be identified in Jon's 'three-eyed sapling' dream. First the sound of the voice ('the silent shout'); and then the touch. Anyway, let's move back to the Prologue. After a 'flurry' of blows -- of sound and touch -- finally Ser Waymar's sword can be observed to be frosted over. So, we've gone from a 'cold' sword in the presence of the Other, to a 'frosted' one following touch and/or sound of the Other's sword. However, at this point the sword is still intact and shows no sign of shattering. Then, Waymar is injured. The blood is red -- proof he's not a wight of any kind, neither 'fire' nor 'ice.' And then -- ladies and gentlemen -- for the coup de grace: THE OTHER FINALLY SPEAKS! And then on the very next blow the sword shatters! So, I'm saying that the 'ice cracking' words of the Other delivered the final blow in terms of disrupting the consistency of the sword. (ETA: that's why the final parry can be as 'lazy' as the Other likes, because the words have already done most of the work!) So, to recap the progression: Initially, without close proximity of Other -- Waymar's sword is like water, with the moonlight smoothly 'running' along it in unbroken reflection. Then: 1) presence of Other -- > 'cold' 2) touch and/or sound of Other's sword -- > 'frost' 3) Other speaks -- > 'shatters' like ice Then, we have another indication of just how deadly that Other language is really, in the description of the companions who then on some unknown signal (probably the 'red' blood ruling out invincible wight status) all join the 'cold butchery', particularly their voices which are described as 'sharp as icicles'. They 'slaughter' Waymar with their 'laughter,' not just their 'pale blades'! So that's my interpretation for the nonce. However, I do understand this degree of wordplay in which I'm engaging is a matter of taste. Just as I respect @Dorian Martell's son's prerogative not to interpret 'Bran's voice on the wind' as literally as I (and you?) do! I've written a lot, so I'll address your other points in my subsequent post.
  11. A step back and a look at "time" in ASOIAF on the grand scale.

    There are ample indications in the text of the intimate relationship between the greenseers and the Others. How then do you account for all the 'tree imagery' associated with the Others, hinting that the Others come from the trees? Do you deny a relationship between the 'old gods' and the 'cold gods'? The 'grey-green' is very suggestive of greenseers. Previously, I've summarised the symbolic associations of 'grey-green' on Crowfood Daughter's thread (Grey King fought Garth the Green): I think a human greenseer, not the Children, created the Others, originally in order to smite his own brother. However, I'll admit I might be over-extrapolating from what I'm seeing in the Prologue. If you're not happy with the idea of 'creating' or 'singing into existence,' how about invoking, summoning the demons, conjuring, as in some kind of, as @cgrav puts it, 'seance which got out of control' of the sorceror. Think about Mirri Maz Dur summoning the shadows in the tent with her 'ululating wail' of doom. Notice how there is always singing present, special words (i.e. a spell or charm), a magical incantation at these black magic rituals: Note, the chronological sequence: first, the song; then the shadows appear. Just like in the Prologue: first, the 'whispered prayer' of the greenseer-figure; then the shadows emerge from the wood = Others. Even in the example of the shattering of the sword, while I'll agree with you that Waymar's sword was already frosting over during the fight, notice that the clash of the swords was also accompanied by 'singing'...the Other's sword has its own 'frequency' or song, which I believe contributed to the overall frosting: Notice, the sword song is described as 'keening'. This is a wordplay evoking mourning or wailing accompanying the loss of a loved one, after a battle perhaps, like a 'widow's wail,' which as it so happens is a sword! Another who might 'keen' would be a 'lady forlorn', bemoaning the loss of a lover, which fittingly is also the name of a particularly sharp and bloodthirsty sword, famously almost having a mind of its own! It will also not have escaped your notice, Mac, that 'keen' is a synonym for wicked sharp. So, GRRM's language is suggesting that the sound itself was keen enough to cut through Waymar's ordinary sword -- like the special frequency of a lightsaber. What about the 'killing word' idea exactly do you not like? There is a major wordplay running throughout the text, as Seams, among others has shown, equating 'swords' and 'words'. How do you interpret 'the song of swords'? I don't think this is just a fun poetic metaphor; the song in itself has power like a sword to cut, to shape, to kill. A sword has a voice. Isn't it remarked on that mute Ser Ilyn lets his sword 'do the talking'... Perhaps the voice/words/song, etc. is the weapon; that's what I'm suggesting. Recall the advice of one of the best military generals around, Lord Tywin, that sometimes 'wars are won with quills and ravens'. I can give you other examples if you like; there are enough to derail your thread for good! Here's one more, for now, where the sound of the dragonbinder horn is configured as a weapon. In fact, it ends up killing the one who produced it -- just like Will killed by the wighted Waymar. Again, we see the sequence of events: first, the horn is blown; then, something 'takes wing' (analogous to the conjured shadows in Mirri's tent or Will's wood), causing someones death. I agree that when the Other sees the 'redness' of the blood, he can rule out Waymar being either an 'ice wight' like Coldhands -- who would have 'blood' of dry, dusty black crystalline consistency -- or a 'fire wight' like Beric -- who would have thick, black sludgy blood, which would have additionally set anything metallic it contacted, e.g. armor or a sword, on fire. P.S. I would have thought you of all people would have taken instantly to the idea of using words as weapons! Note again the wordplay on 'quarrel' -- which can be both a sharp arrow and a sharp word. Once again, when it comes to interpreting GRRM's coyly allusive prose, it's difficult to cleave the literal from the figurative intent.
  12. A step back and a look at "time" in ASOIAF on the grand scale.

    I doubt Dorian is 'done.' We might even be introduced to Dorian Martell's cousin soon... As to 'soundly beaten,' you might want to re-evaluate your word choice there Mac... Now try and see the funny side. It's not necessary in life to always be 'right'. I think the singers do more than converse with the Others, I think they sang the Others into existence -- just like in 'The Silmarillion'. According to my 'killing word' concept, Will the treacherous far-eyes in the Prologue can be read as a greenseer figure whose 'whispered prayer' carried through the sentinel tree to the 'nameless gods of the wood' (=the Others), by which the Others can be understood as 'the offspring of his thought,' to quote the Silmarillion. What's more, these languages are not just quaint ditties sung by elvish fairy folk to assist you when you have insomnia, they are weapons -- 'killing words' like in 'Dune'. So when the Other speaks (as Will's proxy) to Waymar, I believe it is the 'ice cracking' magical speech which actually cracks Waymar's sword -- or at least compromises its structural integrity to the point that it froze over, becoming so brittle that a 'lazy parry' was then sufficient to shatter it. This would not have happened with a Valyrian steel or obsidian blade, or whatever or whomever Lightbringer is, since those are fire-based swords and therefore can resist the icy charm.
  13. A step back and a look at "time" in ASOIAF on the grand scale.

    I've written on that before on the 'Bran's Growing Powers' re-read; scroll down to purple heading 'THE TRUE TONGUE AND BRANDON THE BUILDER' The song of the earth -- the song of stones, the rustle of leaves, the rain on water... Now tell me; what language is this... ? Indeed! As I've said, they are like an old married couple... I miss Dorian (but not as much as our host does ) -- the 'rip and burn' is not the same without him!
  14. Heresy 197 the wit and wisdom of Old Nan

    GRRM should stop railing against 'fan fiction' and start writing. He jealously guards his ideas, so I wouldn't be surprised if everything is the reverse of what we expect -- all except the Hodor reveal...no way D&D could've thought of the causal time loop by themselves.
  15. 'The Killing Word' -- A Re-examination of the Prologue

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, Prof! I don't really believe in 'going off topic,' or 'derailing' threads, the policing of which has always struck me as mildly pretentious ...so rest assured, all kinds of creativity are welcome on my threads (have you checked out my poetry thread yet?). To your point, strangely enough GRRM has read and mentioned 'The Maltese Falcon', for example in this interview, although I'm not sure to what extent it may have been an influence on his work, or whether he has incorporated any symbolism of which we ought to take note: It's difficult for me to make a judgment, since I've neither seen the movie nor read the book! What are your thoughts? From what I can gather, the overarching themes are deception and ambition in the obsessive pursuit of the 'black jewel-encrusted falcon' statuette, for which several people are willing to spin a web of lies and commit murder. In our case, we've been discussing the unscrupulous double-crossing traitor, most likely a greenseer, as a 'blue falcon,' although GRRM also uses the related 'red hawk' for example to describe the lengths Stannis is willing to go to in order to usurp power, so perhaps the specific color of the falcon/raptor is not crucial: This passage shows a softer side of Stannis. Could you imagine either Robert or Renly nursing anyone back to health? No -- both too vain and selfish. It's sad that Stannis the sensitive, neglected child became so corrupted in his desire to outdo his more charismatic, and also more heartless, brothers. The corruption of the gyrfalcon reminds me of this poem: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) THE SECOND COMING Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand; A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?