Seams

Direwolves Don't Cry: A Direwolves Reread II - ACoK

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This post begins the second discussion in the Direwolves Reread, considering and analyzing the direwolves as they appear or are mentioned in A Clash of Kings.

Julia H. helped to found the first reread thread focused on the direwolves and she has kindly allowed me to help out with this new thread. If you have not yet explored the earlier thread, Six Pups in the Snow: A Direwolves Reread, please take a look and get a feel for the good insights and discussion of the direwolves as symbols, companions to the Starks, and characters in their own right.

We hope to post once a week. Since the direwolves are often featured in the background, there will be occasions when we analyze two or three chapters at a time.

In order to produce the best discussion possible, we ask for the following:

  • Please DON’T pick fights with people you disagree with or use the thread to post insults
  • Please DON’T treat this as a hate thread
  • Please show textual support for your view
  • Comparisons and contrasts are welcome
  • Given the subject matter, the discussion of future chapters is fine as long as the references remain relevant to the current chapter.

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Arya I

Overview

Disguised as Arry, Arya travels with Yoren’s wagon train toward the Wall. She gets into a fight with a couple of orphan boys, Lommy Greenhands and Hot Pie, who have been “plucked … from the streets” of King’s Landing to join the Night’s Watch.

Observations

  • The boys (and men?) Arya describes in this chapter will become her new pack.
  • Arya’s determination not to cry is expressed in a reminder to herself that she is a direwolf.

Analysis

Fed up with being harassed, Arya uses her wooden practice sword to make Hot Pie’s donkey buck him off and she continues to beat him as he lies on the ground. After Yoren punishes Arya for the attack, he says, “Next time you take that stick to one of your brothers, you’ll get twice what you give, you hear me?” and Arya thinks to herself, “They’re not my brothers.”

Details about the orphan boy characters hint that they are wolf-like and could be stand-ins for Arya’s old “pack” at Winterfell: Lommy Greenhands was a dyer’s apprentice. Dyer seems like one of the author’s puns on the “dire” in direwolf. I’m not sure if this is a match, but Hot Pie is badly injured, like Bran, and must ride in a wagon instead of resuming his journey in a saddle. (Feeling sore, Arya also eschews riding and walks alongside the donkey riders after Yoren beats her.) A third, older boy is not yet named, but he is described as having “shaggy black hair.” So the “They’re not my brothers” statement immediately seems ironic: these boys are like direwolves and/or like Arya’s brothers.

Also mentioned are three men traveling chained and manacled in the back of a wagon. Their names are not yet given, but one of them has pointed teeth and “eyes like nothing human.” Are these men also part of Arya’s new pack?

A notable direct reference to direwolves comes as Arya tries not to cry while Yoren delivers three strokes to her backside: “I won’t cry, she thought, I won’t do that. I’m a Stark of Winterfell, our sigil is the direwolf, direwolves don’t cry.

 

Sansa I

Overview

Sansa attends Joffrey’s name day tournament, catches up on current events and saves Ser Dontos Hollard from being drowned in a cask of wine.

Observations

  • Like Arya, Sansa thinks about her home and family and longs to be with them.
  • While Arya knocked Hot Pie off his mount in Arya I, Sansa watches while others knock people off their mounts in the jousting.
  • Viserys and Robb Stark are compared here, as are dragons and wolves.
  • Tyrion takes Sansa’s hand and promises not to savage her.

Analysis

Like Arya, is Sansa also acquiring a new “pack” in this chapter? Possible members:

  • Ser Arys Oakheart is courteous and talks to her cordially as he escorts her to the tournament grounds.
  • In attendance at the tournament: Gyles Rosby, Lady Tanda, Lollys and Falyse; Jalabhar Xho, Lady Ermesande with her wet nurse, Sandor Clegane, Princess Myrcella.
  • Sansa thinks to herself, “If only Tommen were the elder instead of Joffrey . . . I wouldn’t mind marrying Tommen.”
  • She saves the life of Ser Dontos Hollard by suggesting that Joffrey make him a fool instead of killing him. (In Arya I, Yoren says to Arya, “Enough . . . you want to kill the fool?” referring to her beating of Hot Pie.)
  • Jousting pairs in the tournament include: Meryn Trant (winner) vs. Hobber Redwyne; Balon Swann (winner) vs. Morros Slynt (son of Janos); Horas Redwyne (winner) vs. an elderly knight with a silver griffin sigil; Lothor Brune (in service to House Baelish) vs. Dontos Hollard (who concedes without riding).
  • Tyrion arrives with Bronn, Timmet and others of the mountain clans from the Vale.

Joffrey tells Sansa about the death of Viserys Targaryen: “. . . the Dothraki finally crowned him. With molten gold. … That’s funny, don’t you think? The dragon was their sigil. It’s almost as good as if some wolf killed your traitor brother. Maybe I’ll feed him to wolves after I’ve caught him. Did I tell you, I intend to challenge him to single combat?”

The leap of logic from molten gold to the dragon sigil comes from the valuable gold coins called dragons. The death Joffrey imagines for Robb involves a literal wolf attack. It’s also interesting to match up this boast by Joffrey about feeding Robb’s head to wolves with his later demand, in ASoS, . "And I want Robb Stark's head too. … The king commands. I'm going to have it served to Sansa at my wedding feast." Does this mean that Joffrey still sees her as a wolf, even after she has married his uncle?

I will be interested to pay attention to references to eating associated with the wolves. I know Bran will have to be reminded that eating in a wolf dream is not the same as eating in real life. Why is Joffrey so interested in having wolves eat Starks and Starks eat wolves?

At the end of the chapter, Tyrion shows sensitivity to Sansa’s situation as a hostage, describing her profession of loyalty to Joffrey, the murderer of her father, as being,

“…As loyal as a deer surrounded by wolves.”

“Lions,” she whispered, without thinking.

Edited by Seams

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Well done Seams! Will be following this thread with interest and hopefully be able to join the conversation soon. Thumbs up! :-D

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Thanks, Seams, for starting the new thread! :)

It is interesting what you say about the new pack... My initial approach would have been that in this book we see a lot of lone wolves, but you are right, the forming of new packs is definitely a theme. In the case of Arya, the new "pack" isn't truly a pack at the moment, just individuals (all rather scared) randomly thrown together. There is an undisputed pack leader (Yoren), but the rest of the hierarchy is unclear yet. In a situation like this, young boys will do exactly what young wolves do: They test each other and determine the hierarchy through challenging and fighting each other.  (We saw the same when Jon was a new recruit in Castle Black.)

When Arya reminds herself that she is a wolf, it has a double meaning: On the one hand, it refers to her (secret but still deeply felt) Stark identity; on the other hand, it makes it clear that Arya is ready to accept the challenge and rise to it like any of the other boys :P and that she wants a dominant position. 

Regarding Sansa and pack life, the way I see it: The courtiers in the royal court are not really pack animals. Currently, not even the Kingsguard can operate as a group. There is, of course, a pride of lions, but each of its more or less grown members - Cersei, Tyrion, Joffrey - pursue their own, very different goals. 

Joffrey fantasizes about Robb being killed by wolves... The irony of it is that when Joffrey dies, another lion (Tyrion) and a wolf (Sansa) will get credit for his death even though in reality Joffrey will be killed by a rose. 

“…As loyal as a deer surrounded by wolves.”

“Lions,” she whispered, without thinking.

This quote is really poignant. Sansa is both a deer and a wolf. Due to her position, she is prey rather than predator, which makes her a deer, but she refuses to acknowledge her captors as wolves - because she still identifies herself as a wolf. The deer also reminds me of the only stag of the royal family - Robert, who is responsible for placing Sansa among the lions. 

 

 

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11 hours ago, Duke-of-Kaisa said:

Well done Seams! Will be following this thread with interest and hopefully be able to join the conversation soon. Thumbs up! :-D

Thanks. Julia H. is more experienced than I am, but I enjoyed the previous direwolf discussion and will try to maintain her high standards.

9 hours ago, Julia H. said:

It is interesting what you say about the new pack... My initial approach would have been that in this book we see a lot of lone wolves, but you are right, the forming of new packs is definitely a theme. In the case of Arya, the new "pack" isn't truly a pack at the moment, just individuals (all rather scared) randomly thrown together. There is an undisputed pack leader (Yoren), but the rest of the hierarchy is unclear yet. In a situation like this, young boys will do exactly what young wolves do: They test each other and determine the hierarchy through challenging and fighting each other.  (We saw the same when Jon was a new recruit in Castle Black.)

When Arya reminds herself that she is a wolf, it has a double meaning: On the one hand, it refers to her (secret but still deeply felt) Stark identity; on the other hand, it makes it clear that Arya is ready to accept the challenge and rise to it like any of the other boys :P and that she wants a dominant position. 

Regarding Sansa and pack life, the way I see it: The courtiers in the royal court are not really pack animals. Currently, not even the Kingsguard can operate as a group. There is, of course, a pride of lions, but each of its more or less grown members - Cersei, Tyrion, Joffrey - pursue their own, very different goals. 

Joffrey fantasizes about Robb being killed by wolves... The irony of it is that when Joffrey dies, another lion (Tyrion) and a wolf (Sansa) will get credit for his death even though in reality Joffrey will be killed by a rose. 

“…As loyal as a deer surrounded by wolves.”

“Lions,” she whispered, without thinking.

This quote is really poignant. Sansa is both a deer and a wolf. Due to her position, she is prey rather than predator, which makes her a deer, but she refuses to acknowledge her captors as wolves - because she still identifies herself as a wolf. The deer also reminds me of the only stag of the royal family - Robert, who is responsible for placing Sansa among the lions. 

I was so struck by the parallels in the three chapters I read for this week's discussion that I may have been distracted by the compulsion to point out similarities and lost some of the important points about lone wolves. For instance: Yoren beats Arya a few times with a stick, and he is her escort. Sansa notes that Ser Arys Oakheart beat her only a few times (without enthusiasm) when Joffrey ordered the King's Guard to beat her, and he is her escort to the tournament. In the upcoming Bran I chapter (almost done!), we will see the "lord of the crossing" game involving hitting children with sticks. Bran isn't knocked from a horse, as Tommen is in Sansa I, but Maester Luwin forbids his use of his special saddle outside the walls of the keep, essentially "unhorsing" him.

I know, I know. We're all about direwolves here. I have listened to the audiobooks a couple of times, but I'm using real books for this reread. I keep seeing new things! I'm like a kid in a candy store.

I agree that the courtiers in Sansa's chapter are not part of her pack. Initially, I wondered whether the people in the stands were supposed to represent the Seven Gods. Looking at the list again today, I am struck by how many of them are doomed.  You could make a case that Ser Dontos and Tyrion join her pack, but she will usually interact with them one-on-one. Which might lead to the next observation.

Why doesn't Sansa correct both of Tyrion's animal analogies? He compares her to a deer, and she doesn't dispute that. A deer antler (apparently) killed the mother direwolf in AGoT, so a deer surrounded by wolves can hold its own (if most of the wolves are pups, anyway). But she corrects only the comparison of the court or her captors to wolves, saying they are lions. So maybe Sansa's metaphor really is the deer. These usually live in pairs or on their own.

edit: I can't resist sharing a couple other allusions to Joffrey’s wedding feast in the Sansa I chapter. Sansa wears a moonstone hair net Joffrey gave her and he says, “I’m pleased you wore my stones.” Also, Sansa makes up the folk wisdom that it is “ill luck” to kill someone on your name day. At his wedding feast, Joffrey says moments before his death that it is “ill luck” not to eat the pie. Also, in Arya I, Yoren tells Arya that arrangements had been made for her father to join the Night's Watch but something went wrong. Arya says, "Joffrey ... Someone should kill him." Yoren replies, "Someone will, but it won't be me, nor you neither."

Edited by Seams

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Bran I

Overview

From the window of his bedroom “cell,” Bran listens to Summer and Shaggy howling. He wants to understand their thinking and he identifies with the direwolves, howling along and dreaming about what they see and feel. He sees the comet and the presence of Big Walder and Little Walder largely through the eyes of the wolves.

Observations

  • Bran’s pleasure in looking out the window foreshadows his ability to see through his third eye.
  • Bran refers to the direwolves as his brothers, contrasting with Arya’s rejection of the orphan boys as her brothers.
  • Bran wants to talk to the wolves and seems to enjoy experiencing their senses, but he is somewhat uncomfortable with wolf dreams at this point.
  • Just as Sansa I alluded to Joffrey’s wedding feast, this chapter alludes to the Red Wedding.

Analysis

Bran is becoming closer to the wolves in this opening chapter. But he will lose many of the familiar people mentioned in the chapter by the time this book ends.

“Of late, he often dreamed of wolves. They are talking to me, brother to brother, he told himself when the direwolves howled. He could almost understand them . . . not quite, not truly, but almost . . . as if they were singing in a language he had once known and somehow forgotten. The Walders might be scared of them, but the Starks had wolf blood. Old Nan had told him so. ‘Though it is stronger in some than in others,’ she warned.”

Bran asks various people about the reason the wolves howl so much. The answers vary but tend toward the wolves’ desire for freedom, ability to hunt and a connection to stars, the moon or the comet. Later, Bran enters Summer’s mind in a dream and we understand that the direwolves are restless being confined in the godswood. This seems to reflect Bran’s own restlessness and desire to do things that princes do, such as, “sail the sea and hunt boar in the wolfswood and joust with lances.”

Catelyn’s two wards, Big Walder and Little Walder Frey have arrived and Bran doesn’t want them around. They have engaged the children of Winterfell in the game they call lord of the crossing, which is a child’s version of their Grandfather’s position controlling access across the Green Fork of the Trident River. When Little Walder hits Rickon with a stick as part of the game, knocking him into the water, Shaggydog attacks: “there was blood in the water, the Walders were shrieking red murder, [and] Rickon sat in the mud laughing….” This bite attack is the reason the two direwolves are confined to the godswood but results in Rickon becoming friendlier toward the Walders while Bran continues to resent their presence.

Does Shaggy’s attack tell us what would have happened if Grey Wind had not been confined when Robb was attacked at the Red Wedding? This Red “Wetting” at Winterfell doesn’t exactly foreshadow but could instead offer an alternative outcome (or, mayhaps, a scene yet to play out in a later book).

The chapter concludes with the thoughts of the direwolf Summer (and/or Bran in a wolf dream): “Beyond [Winterfell’s] sky-tall man-cliffs the true world was calling, and he knew he must answer or die.” This echoes the opening paragraph of the chapter, which concluded with the words, “…outside his window, the wide world still called.”

In these opening chapters, Bran’s situation is more like Sansa’s in that he is mostly passive and observing (until he inhabits his direwolf). Unlike Arya, “He could not . . . fight with a wooden sword as once he had, but he could still look.” There is also a reference in this chapter to a guard named Hayhead. In Sansa I, Tommen reminds Sansa of Bran but she speaks about Tommen’s foe instead of speaking out loud about her little brother. (One of those great examples of GRRM letting you guess whether someone is changing the subject, or whether Bran is Tommen's foe.) Joffrey remarks that Tommen’s foe will be stuffed with straw, as he is about to engage in play jousting. Soon, Tommen trots toward the “child-sized leather warrior stuffed with straw and mounted on a pivot.” When he strikes it, it spins around and the padded mace on the practice dummy hits Tommen on the back of his head, knocking him from his pony. Does this victorious jousting dummy represent Bran or Bran’s guardian?

All three chapters involve children fighting and/or playing with a wooden sword, lance or staff. In Arya I, it is the older boy with “shaggy black hair” who warns her that Hot Pie is about to throw a rock at her. This sounds a bit like Shaggydog defending Rickon from Little Walder in Bran I. Maybe “Hayhead” is a variation on “shaggy hair” and the corresponding practice dummy made of straw in Sansa I is a direwolf substitute, knocking Tommen from his mount.

Edited by Seams

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Excellent analysis!

There is so much in this chapter about direwolves. As Bran becomes more and more sensitive to them, they truly become mythological beings. Maybe Bran himself does the same:

Bran preferred the hard stone of the window seat to the comforts of his featherbed and blankets. Abed, the walls pressed close and the ceiling hung heavy above him; abed, the room was his cell, and Winterfell his prison. Yet outside his window, the wide world still called. He could not walk, nor climb nor hunt nor fight with a wooden sword as once he had, but he could still look. He liked to watch the windows begin to glow all over Winterfell as candles and hearth fires were lit behind the diamond-shaped panes of tower and hall, and he loved to listen to the direwolves sing to the stars.

Bran - sitting on the stone window seat, unable to walk but watching all the time - seems to have become "the watcher on the walls", and he also reminds me a bit of the stone Kings of Winter and even more of their stone direwolves in the crypts. He has become a "stone" direwolf watching motionless on the walls. 

The direwolves sing... If the series is called The Song of Ice and Fire, should we suppose that the direwolves sing (to the stars) the song of Ice? 

According to Osha, the direwolves "know more truths than the grey man has forgotten" and in Bran's observation, the wolves become practically omnipresent in Winterfell:

Ser Rodrik had confined the wolves to the godswood after Shaggydog bit Little Walder, but the stones of Winterfell played queer tricks with sound, and sometimes it sounded as if they were in the yard right below Bran’s window. Other times he would have sworn they were up on the curtain walls, loping round like sentries.

Again, the wolves and the walls, the wolves and stone, the wolves as watchers...

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Oh I love both the analysis Seams, and the observations in your comments Julia H! Especially the note about the stones playing tricks and it sounding like the wolves were in places they should not be due to the being confined. Very interesting! I really need to do a re read to comment properly, but just want to let you both know I love this thread! :-D

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2 hours ago, Julia H. said:

There is so much in this chapter about direwolves.

...

According to Osha, the direwolves "know more truths than the grey man has forgotten" and in Bran's observation, the wolves become practically omnipresent in Winterfell:

Ser Rodrik had confined the wolves to the godswood after Shaggydog bit Little Walder, but the stones of Winterfell played queer tricks with sound, and sometimes it sounded as if they were in the yard right below Bran’s window. Other times he would have sworn they were up on the curtain walls, loping round like sentries.

Again, the wolves and the walls, the wolves and stone, the wolves as watchers...

Yes, I did pick and choose among the many direwolf references in this chapter. Thank you for highlighting some of the other interesting direwolf passages.

I think "remembering the past" (or rediscovering it by reliving it) may be one of the major themes of the books. The characters are reliving the stories from old songs and legends, putting their new twists on ancient prophecies. If the direwolves remember things humans have forgotten, they must know what the future holds and understand the meaning of portents. The north remembers, and direwolves are quintessentially of the north.

I noticed that there is heavy emphasis on the five senses in this chapter in general, to the point of supernatural qualities. Old Nan is nearly blind, but she can "smell" the comet. Bran tells Maester Luwin that, if he were a direwolf, he would be able to find Sansa and Arya by smelling them. He tastes the blood in his mouth when he dreams. The sound of the howling direwolves irritates everyone at Winterfell (except Bran).

I wonder whether the supernatural sense of smell is supposed to be compared to Bran opening his third eye? Does Old Nan have a superpower represented by her sense of smell, and comparable to the special vision that Bran will develop? In other places, blind characters such as Maester Aemon and Arya as Blind Beth seem to develop special ability to see things by paying attention to things people say or feel. Maybe Old Nan's ability to smell the comet is unrelated to her failing eyesight. It does make her like the wolves, though, who would use their excellent abilities to smell things just as dogs do. Later in the series, Arya briefly uses the name Nan, and she tells Roose Bolton (I think) that it is short for Nymeria. Maybe we are supposed to compare Old Nan to a wolf.

The walls of Winterfell also come up several times, and I hadn't recognized the significance of the line with the wolves as sentries "on the curtain walls." Bran recalls that he used to know every stone of the walls, during his climbing days. Interesting that he perceives the wolves being on the walls, when he can no longer climb them himself. But the wolf's perspective is that the walls are "sky-tall man cliffs." They feel restless in their enclosed gods wood. Rickon and the Walders also race around the walls when they play.

Edited by Seams

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Old Nan is "like a direwolf" in so far as she knows more than maesters as well. In Bran I Osha comments the comet with "fire and blood" (as did Varys in Tyrion I), Nan straight with "dragons", not to mention all the other stories. Later Arya will instinctively make a very good choice as Nymeria-Nan (by not revealing herself to Roose). Very unlike her siblings that tend to distrust their wolf part in crucial moments.

Rickon showing the Walders the crypt (according to Bran I) feels significant as well, as is Bran being angry about it.

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On 7/6/2016 at 8:56 AM, Seams said:

Joffrey tells Sansa about the death of Viserys Targaryen: “. . . the Dothraki finally crowned him. With molten gold. … That’s funny, don’t you think? The dragon was their sigil. It’s almost as good as if some wolf killed your traitor brother. Maybe I’ll feed him to wolves after I’ve caught him. Did I tell you, I intend to challenge him to single combat?”

The leap of logic from molten gold to the dragon sigil comes from the valuable gold coins called dragons. The death Joffrey imagines for Robb involves a literal wolf attack. It’s also interesting to match up this boast by Joffrey about feeding Robb’s head to wolves with his later demand, in ASoS, . "And I want Robb Stark's head too. … The king commands. I'm going to have it served to Sansa at my wedding feast." Does this mean that Joffrey still sees her as a wolf, even after she has married his uncle?

I will be interested to pay attention to references to eating associated with the wolves. I know Bran will have to be reminded that eating in a wolf dream is not the same as eating in real life. Why is Joffrey so interested in having wolves eat Starks and Starks eat wolves?

At the end of the chapter, Tyrion shows sensitivity to Sansa’s situation as a hostage, describing her profession of loyalty to Joffrey, the murderer of her father, as being,

“…As loyal as a deer surrounded by wolves.”

“Lions,” she whispered, without thinking.

Hi Seams.  Nice thread -- I'm a sucker for direwolves (and puns...)!

Joffrey seems very tickled by the idea of symmetry in death, so perhaps we also ought to question whether there are possible symmetries and ironies at work in the manner of his own death, which interestingly also involved eating...

Considering his fixation with mortal symmetries, and expounding bombastically on these threats and fantasies at every opportunity, it's noteworthy that in the end Joffrey was made to choke on his own words...Less whimsically, and depending on ones interpretation, Joffrey in actual fact choked on the wine or the pigeon pie -- It always comes back to that damn pie..!  (btw, have you solved that riddle of the pies definitively yet?)

Joffrey seems preoccupied with turning a House's main weapons against itself.  For example, way back in AGOT he was expressing an urge to silence the howling direwolves while Bran was lying in a coma.  When the Hound offered to do the job, Joffrey pleased with the notion quipped 'send a dog to kill a dog'...which Tyrion subsequently misremembers as 'send a dog to kill a wolf.'  Following that chat about killing wolves/dogs in the Winterfell courtyard, an assassin, ostensibly sent by Joffrey, made an attempt on another wolf's life, namely Bran's.  Tyrion later refers to this assassin as Joffrey's 'catspaw,' which is a cute allusion to Joffrey's feline association as a Lannister.  Joffrey's a lion, so his weapon of choice would be a cat's paw, wouldn't it?   

Fittingly, at the 'purple wedding' Joffrey in turn is cast down by a catspaw (both Sansa and Lady Olenna are Littlefinger's catspaws, as is using poison itself, 'a woman's weapon,' because it can be administered at a remove from the real mastermind who need not be a woman at all), satisfying Joffrey's favorite inversion symmetry: Cat killed by catspaw!

Nice catch with the dragon's death by dragons...I also think Joffrey would have enjoyed this metaphorical association as he himself, if we're to go by Maggy's prophecy, is 'a golden crown,' referring to him as a blonde monarch.  In general, Joffrey got a sadistic kick out of destroying people using the power of his golden crown...

In addition to the golden dragons as coins metaphor, another interpretation of 'death by dragons' might be that molten coins/medallions were used, thus fire was essentially the weapon used.  This is reminiscent of Aerys Targaryen, to whom Joffrey has been likened, whose champion of choice, e.g. vs. Rickard and Brandon Stark, was fire, in line with the Targaryen words 'fire and blood.'  Like Viserys, Rickard Stark was cooked in his armor (the pot of molten gold over Viserys' head as a kind of helmet).  

More musings on the coin analogy:  In addition to being a 'golden crown,' Joffrey depending on what paternity you favor for him, could also be a 'silver stag' (Targaryen in blood/Baratheon in name); in any case, as a bastard (including a Lannister one) he is a kind of counterfeit coin Cersei has sold Robert Baratheon, and thereby cheated the realm. The idea that sex, especially illicit sex, can result in a counterfeit product which enters into general economic circulation, sometimes with far-reaching consequences, is a major theme in ASOIAF and spelled out for us in several instances.  For example, Littlefinger's dubious 'counterfeit' financial practices are described in sexual terms as 'rubbing two dragons together to breed a third.'  Underscoring the sexual currency is the adjacent statement in th quote below that King Robert was a 'prodigious spender,' which could refer to his renowned sexual licentiousness ('overspending his seed,' so to speak) in addition to his financial profligacy.

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Tyrion IV

King Robert had been a prodigious spender. A man like Petyr Baelish, who had a gift for rubbing two golden dragons together to breed a third, was invaluable to his Hand. Littlefinger's rise had been arrow-swift. Within three years of his coming to court, he was master of coin and a member of the small council, and today the crown's revenues were ten times what they had been under his beleaguered predecessor . . . though the crown's debts had grown vast as well. A master juggler was Petyr Baelish.

Oh, he was clever. He did not simply collect the gold and lock it in a treasure vault, no. He paid the king's debts in promises, and put the king's gold to work. He bought wagons, shops, ships, houses. He bought grain when it was plentiful and sold bread when it was scarce. He bought wool from the north and linen from the south and lace from Lys, stored it, moved it, dyed it, sold it. The golden dragons bred and multiplied, and Littlefinger lent them out and brought them home with hatchlings.

The twins, whether lions are dragons, have likewise 'rubbed together' like with like and produced a third version of themselves in Joffrey out of which they hope to profit.  It's interesting in light of events at the Purple Wedding, in which Littlefinger is implicated,  that Littlefinger is referred to as a juggler of note who 'brings home the hatchlings', which reminded me of the infamous cutting-open of the pigeon pie!

In essence, Joffrey as a bastard belongs to no one sigil.  So, following Joffrey's perverted spirit of 'poetic justice' whereby a sigil bites its own tail, if we're looking for appropriate weapons to have killed Joffrey, then he'd have to have been murdered by something representative of bastardy, so to speak.  

Applying this perverse logic, we might say that this counterfeit coin represented by Joffrey's birth was sold back to him in kind at his death, largely by Littlefinger (also a bastard?). In concrete terms, one of the dishes served up to him at his wedding feast was counterfeit, as was someone close to him on the dais, masquerading as family and friend.  Poison masquerading as food, as a counterfeit or swindle, also hearkens back to your discussion surrounding notions of the 'true' vs. 'false' pie...Talking of pies, I was wondering if you'd ever considered 'pigeon pie' to be a pun for 'pidgin' signifying bastardization (as in a pidgin language). Then, Joffrey the vicious bastard would have been taken down by an equally vicious bastard of a pie!  I guess the analogy doesn't really work if one considers the poison to have only been in the wine, though.  Maybe, at a stretch, one might say that the wine as symbolic of blood was corrupted; in a similar vein Joffrey as a bastard would not be considered a pureblood, even though as a child of incest, possibly Targaryen incest, he is purebred indeed.

Joffrey's death also casts an ironic shade on his earlier comment regarding his intention to serve up Robb's head to Sansa at his wedding.  In effect, it was the other way around, namely the wolf serving up the lion to the lion.  Sansa unwittingly (as the bearer of the medusa head of pretty purple crystals) served up Joffrey's own head to him!  'As loyal as a deer surrounded by wolves' can refer to Joffrey in addition to Sansa.  Joffrey Baratheon is a deer surrounding himself with wolves by keeping Sansa close and having her marry into the family.  He invited the wolf into the fold of his own volition, the same wolf who happened to be on the dais and facilitated his death, even if inadvertently.  From another perspective, by marrying into the family, Sansa is Sansa Lannister, not Stark, so in keeping with Joffrey's principle of enjoyment in a sigil turning against itself, technically one lion savaged another.

A major theme of 'Feast of Crows' is that of the hunters becoming the hunted, a principle Joffrey wholeheartedly endorsed with a twist (that fire should fight fire, and wolf devour wolf), so it's not surpising his own sadistic game was turned around on him, as played out in his death.  I know GRRM celebrates upturning traditional notions of justice, but when it comes to 'poetic' justice I've noticed he deals his characters their due.

 

Edited by ravenous reader

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On 7/31/2016 at 8:09 AM, black_hart said:

Old Nan is "like a direwolf" in so far as she knows more than maesters as well. In Bran I Osha comments the comet with "fire and blood" (as did Varys in Tyrion I), Nan straight with "dragons", not to mention all the other stories. Later Arya will instinctively make a very good choice as Nymeria-Nan (by not revealing herself to Roose). Very unlike her siblings that tend to distrust their wolf part in crucial moments.

Rickon showing the Walders the crypt (according to Bran I) feels significant as well, as is Bran being angry about it.

Interesting! It sounds as if you and I have some of the same interests. I suspect that there are hidden depths to Old Nan's character, but I hadn't thought to compare her to a direwolf. Direwolves do experience the world largely through the sense of smell, and Old Nan does claim that she can smell the comet. And her stories seem to reflect old truths about ancient times, while the direwolves seem to be messengers from the Old Gods. So you may be on to something.

I would love to see a separate thread with a systematic analysis of all of the names Arya takes on and an explanation of what each name means for the development of her character or for links to other characters. She does use the name Nan - and explains that it's a short nickname for her "real" name, Nymeria - when she meets Roose Bolton. When we get to that part of the reread, I expect there will be some good discussion here about what it means that Arya's direwolf has become the leader of a pack of killer wolves in the Riverlands while Arya is on the brink of becoming a killer at Harrenhall.

Taking the Walders into the crypt also feels significant to me. I see them as representatives of the Stranger but also as personified swords (check the Puns and Wordplay thread if you want to know more - I think there is wordplay involving "swords" and "wards," and the Walders are Catelyn's wards). We have also seen the direwolves Summer and Shaggydog in the crypt, but they don't seem out of place there, in my opinion. It will be interesting to see how GRRM develops the story of the remaining Walder as the books continue.

15 hours ago, ravenous reader said:

Joffrey seems very tickled by the idea of symmetry in death, ...

... it's noteworthy that in the end Joffrey was made to choke on his own words...It always comes back to that damn pie..!  (btw, have you solved that riddle of the pies definitively yet?)

Joffrey seems preoccupied with turning a House's main weapons against itself.  ...Tyrion later refers to this assassin as Joffrey's 'catspaw,' which is a cute allusion to Joffrey's feline association as a Lannister.  Joffrey's a lion, so his weapon of choice would be a cat's paw, wouldn't it?   

Fittingly, at the 'purple wedding' Joffrey in turn is cast down by a catspaw (both Sansa and Lady Olenna are Littlefinger's catspaws, ... Cat killed by catspaw!

In essence, Joffrey as a bastard belongs to no one sigil.  So, following Joffrey's perverted spirit of 'poetic justice' whereby a sigil bites its own tail, if we're looking for appropriate weapons to have killed Joffrey, then he'd have to have been murdered by something representative of bastardy, so to speak.  

...

Joffrey's death also casts an ironic shade on his earlier comment regarding his intention to serve up Robb's head to Sansa at his wedding.  In effect, it was the other way around, namely the wolf serving up the lion to the lion.  Sansa unwittingly (as the bearer of the medusa head of pretty purple crystals) served up Joffrey's own head to him!  'As loyal as a deer surrounded by wolves' can refer to Joffrey in addition to Sansa.  Joffrey Baratheon is a deer surrounding himself with wolves by keeping Sansa close and having her marry into the family.  He invited the wolf into the fold of his own volition, the same wolf who happened to be on the dais and facilitated his death, even if inadvertently.  From another perspective, by marrying into the family, Sansa is Sansa Lannister, not Stark, so in keeping with Joffrey's principle of enjoyment in a sigil turning against itself, technically one lion savaged another.

A major theme of 'Feast of Crows' is that of the hunters becoming the hunted, a principle Joffrey wholeheartedly endorsed with a twist (that fire should fight fire, and wolf devour wolf), so it's not surpising his own sadistic game was turned around on him, as played out in his death.  I know GRRM celebrates upturning traditional notions of justice, but when it comes to 'poetic' justice I've noticed he deals his characters their due.

Hi, RR. Nice to hear from you. Always interesting to see the connections you make.

The point about Joffrey and symmetry in death - excellent. He used Ned's own sword to kill Ned, sort of like his vision of a wolf killing Robb Stark. And that sword was present (transformed into Widow's Wail) at the moment of Joffrey's death.

I haven't worked out the riddle of the pies entirely (but it's gnawing at me!) but we will see Bran highly relieved to eat pigeon pie at the end of Bran IV in this reread (p. 332 in my U.S. edition). Maybe that scene will help us to sort out the larger pie motif.

As for the cat's paw, I wonder whether we are supposed to compare and contrast the catspaw with the sword Long Claw? One weapon proves to be ineffective, the other appears to be in the hands of a competent swordsman and may have important people to slay. It is interesting that Lady Olenna's hands are described as somewhat claw-like in the Sansa POV at the luncheon with Butterbumps, and she appears to be a catspaw at Joffrey's wedding feast. The description of Joffrey's death includes him clawing at his own throat. (Catelyn claws at her own face at the Red Wedding.) Margaery, of course, presents Tommen with several kittens.

As for Joffrey being killed by something representative of bastardy (in keeping with your point that he would have no genuine sigil, as a bastard) I believe that the sword Widow's Wail and Ser Ilyn Payne's mysterious silver sword covered in runes play a literal or important symbolic role in Joffrey's death. If one or the other of these is a bastard sword . . .

I really love your imagery of Joffrey's death as the wolves slaying the deer and/or the lion savaging the lion. Not to get too far from our direwolf discussion, but I suspect Tywin has a hand in Joffrey's death, so the lion vs. lion notion would be particularly apt. We are going to see a lot of references to men as wolves, wolves in human skin and real wolves that attack humans over the course of this reread. I'll be curious to see whether people think this constant blaming of wolves for the violence in the Riverlands is fair, or whether the metaphor should more accurately include dogs and lions or other wild animals - or just leave the animals out of it and put the blame on the humans. Maybe those other animals are in the text, but don't come up as often in dialogue between characters.

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On 7/7/2016 at 9:54 AM, Julia H. said:

“…As loyal as a deer surrounded by wolves.”

“Lions,” she whispered, without thinking.

This quote is really poignant. Sansa is both a deer and a wolf. Due to her position, she is prey rather than predator, which makes her a deer, but she refuses to acknowledge her captors as wolves - because she still identifies herself as a wolf. The deer also reminds me of the only stag of the royal family - Robert, who is responsible for placing Sansa among the lions. 

I had been thinking about Joffrey as the Baratheon deer who got taken down by wolves (inadvertently, granted, by Sansa as wolfish purveyor of the poison 'fangs'), but prefer your interpretation of the stag as Robert.  It reprises the archetypal symbolism of the dead direwolf in the snow impaled by a stag's antler, as @Seams has noted.

In their twisted 'bromance', Robert played the role of 'alpha' while Ned played second fiddle to him as his 'beta' -- a dynamic which is counterintuitive, reversing the usual predator-prey, alpha-beta relationship that exists in nature between wolves and deer.  Although Ned was smitten by Robert, forgetting his wolfish identity in the process of slavishly following the stag to the detriment of his own family's interests, the same could not be said reciprocally of Robert's loyalty.  Taken in this light, 'as loyal as a deer' takes on a new meaning.  Robert was treacherous -- as long as he was satisfying his own selfish concerns and boundless tastes, he couldn't care less about the outcome for Ned, Lyanna and the rest of the Starks.

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A Game of Thrones - Eddard I

Ned knew the saying. "What the king dreams," he said, "the Hand builds."

"I bedded a fishmaid once who told me the lowborn have a choicer way to put it. The king eats, they say, and the Hand takes the shit." He threw back his head and roared his laughter. The echoes rang through the darkness, and all around them the dead of Winterfell seemed to watch with cold and disapproving eyes.

Finally the laughter dwindled and stopped. Ned was still on one knee, his eyes upraised. "Damn it, Ned," the king complained. "You might at least humor me with a smile."

Although Robert was highborn, he had a coarse, one might say 'lowborn,' way of living his life.  'The King eats...and the Hand takes the shit' summarizes how Robert feels about the hierarchy of the foodchain, otherwise known as employer-employee stag-wolf relations.  Indeed, in the final reckoning the wolf was sacrificed to the stag's ambitions and follies.

You identified that Robert is responsible for placing Sansa among the lions.  Likewise, he was also ultimately the party most responsible -- by taking the easy way out and not standing up to the lions -- for killing her wolf Lady.  Yet another example of the Stag's treachery:

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A Game of Thrones - Eddard III

"Stop them," Sansa pleaded, "don't let them do it, please, please, it wasn't Lady, it was Nymeria, Arya did it, you can't, it wasn't Lady, don't let them hurt Lady, I'll make her be good, I promise, I promise …" She started to cry.

All Ned could do was take her in his arms and hold her while she wept. He looked across the room at Robert. His old friend, closer than any brother. "Please, Robert. For the love you bear me. For the love you bore my sister. Please."

The king looked at them for a long moment, then turned his eyes on his wife. "Damn you, Cersei," he said with loathing.

Ned stood, gently disengaging himself from Sansa's grasp. All the weariness of the past four days had returned to him. "Do it yourself then, Robert," he said in a voice cold and sharp as steel. "At least have the courage to do it yourself."

Robert looked at Ned with flat, dead eyes and left without a word, his footsteps heavy as lead. Silence filled the hall.

In his capacity as King, Robert could have altered the outcome, had he so wished.  Lady did not have to die.  In this moment, Robert is no better than Jaime throwing Bran out the window.  The scenes have a strange parallel in that Jaime like Robert also looks to Cersei with loathing, before he says 'the things I do for love' and proceeds with sacrificing a 'wolf.' In the scene with Robert, love is also discussed when Ned beseeches him in the name of love -- Robert's oft-professed love for Ned and Lyanna --to not do this thing.  In response to this heartfelt plea, Robert remains unmoved -- proving he never really loved either of them -- and proceeds to throw the wolf to the proverbial  lions.  Unlike Jaime, however, Robert does not love Cersei, so why did he do it?  What motivated him to betray his friend?  What did he love instead?  

Robert loved his ease.  Previously I said Robert could have altered the outcome for Lady, Sansa, and Ned, but I did not add that this would have been easy for him.  Had he not complied with her wishes, Cersei would have nagged and made his life a misery, which would not have been conducive to his ease.  For all his whoring and war-hammering, Robert was a bit of a limp sword.  He was not 'the true steel.'  Interestingly, in this passage he's associated instead with the soft metal 'lead' as well as  'flat dead eyes,' like a lifeless deer.

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A Game of Thrones - Eddard I

"Your Grace," he said. "I am not worthy of the honor."

Robert groaned with good-humored impatience. "If I wanted to honor you, I'd let you retire. I am planning to make you run the kingdom and fight the wars while I eat and drink and wench myself into an early grave." He slapped his gut and grinned. "You know the saying, about the king and his Hand?

Robert was only interested in fighting for fun, e.g. the bloodlust and the boars.  However, for the battles which truly counted -- e.g. standing up for his true friend against his false wife -- he was absent.  He loved his ease and this simple equation did not include marshaling up enough courage to take on Cersei.  As far as lions and deer, the alpha and beta hierarchy was firmly entrenched and not one he was willing to challenge.  So, as usual, the wolf took the fall.

 

On 7/7/2016 at 7:56 PM, Seams said:

When Little Walder hits Rickon with a stick as part of the game, knocking him into the water, Shaggydog attacks: “there was blood in the water, the Walders were shrieking red murder, [and] Rickon sat in the mud laughing….” This bite attack is the reason the two direwolves are confined to the godswood but results in Rickon becoming friendlier toward the Walders while Bran continues to resent their presence.

Does Shaggy’s attack tell us what would have happened if Grey Wind had not been confined when Robb was attacked at the Red Wedding? This Red “Wetting” at Winterfell doesn’t exactly foreshadow but could instead offer an alternative outcome (or, mayhaps, a scene yet to play out in a later book).

So often in the 'game of thrones,' what starts off as 'child's play' turns deadly later on.  In addition to foreshadowing events at the 'Twins' (Big and Little Walder are also twins of a kind, at least in name), this 'game' is also reminiscent of the game of sticks and swords between Arya, Mycah and Joffrey, interrupted by Nymeria's attack, at another river, the Trident. Consequently, the wolf in each of the cases is unfairly blamed for an attack instigated by the other party (Frey and Lannister, in the two examples respectively) and punished -- Shaggy and Summer are confined; Lady is executed and Nymeria is banished. 

'Blood in the water' also recapitulates Rhaegar's blood and blood-red rubies in the water of that same river, after Robert hit him with his stick (read 'hammer'), knocking him into the water.  It's interesting that Rhaegar plays the Stark role in this scenario.  The wolves who bore the brunt of Robert's games with Rhaegar and their fallout were Lyanna, Brandon and Rickard, and finally Ned himself.  According to this analogy, the Baratheons, like the Freys and Lannisters, are no friends to the Starks.  The game ends when Joffrey's 'Lion's Tooth' is symbolically pulled ( Arya throws his sword into the river), which might foreshadow the Starks finally getting the better of the Lannisters, although only after having sustained some  bitter losses.

35 minutes ago, Seams said:

We are going to see a lot of references to men as wolves, wolves in human skin and real wolves that attack humans over the course of this reread. I'll be curious to see whether people think this constant blaming of wolves for the violence in the Riverlands is fair, or whether the metaphor should more accurately include dogs and lions or other wild animals - or just leave the animals out of it and put the blame on the humans. Maybe those other animals are in the text, but don't come up as often in dialogue between characters.

This is the point I was making above.  To mix animal metaphors further, the wolves are the 'scapegoats' in a lot of the action!

On 7/7/2016 at 7:56 PM, Seams said:

The chapter concludes with the thoughts of the direwolf Summer (and/or Bran in a wolf dream): “Beyond [Winterfell’s] sky-tall man-cliffs the true world was calling, and he knew he must answer or die.” This echoes the opening paragraph of the chapter, which concluded with the words, “…outside his window, the wide world still called.”

   These words also echo Bloodraven's ultimatum: 'Choose: Fly or Die.'

On 7/7/2016 at 7:56 PM, Seams said:

There is also a reference in this chapter to a guard named Hayhead. In Sansa I, Tommen reminds Sansa of Bran but she speaks about Tommen’s foe instead of speaking out loud about her little brother. (One of those great examples of GRRM letting you guess whether someone is changing the subject, or whether Bran is Tommen's foe.) Joffrey remarks that Tommen’s foe will be stuffed with straw, as he is about to engage in play jousting. Soon, Tommen trots toward the “child-sized leather warrior stuffed with straw and mounted on a pivot.” When he strikes it, it spins around and the padded mace on the practice dummy hits Tommen on the back of his head, knocking him from his pony. Does this victorious jousting dummy represent Bran or Bran’s guardian?

Bran is a figurative 'straw man,' to which some pagan ritual significance might be attached.  The 'straw man' is a sacrificial figure also known as 'the King of Winter.'  Make of it what you will:

 

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In Julius Caesar's Commentaries, he connects the burning of a wicker man to the Druid practice of human sacrifice -- essentially, the wicker man was a cage in which a real person was placed. Fortunately, that practice died out with the Druids, but many people still like the idea of creating a man from the detritus of the garden at the time of harvest's end. In some Pagan and Wiccan paths, this man is known as the King of Winter, and he can be created in an altar-top size to watch over your home throughout the chilly months.

This is actually one of the easiest and most primitive projects you can do. You can incorporate it into your Samhain rituals, or make one any time. You'll need two bundles of leftover plants out of your garden (if you don't have a garden, it's perfectly fine to gather some plants at the side of the road) and some string. If you're using plants from your garden, feel free to mix and match different branches. The straw man in the photo is made from hyssop, rosemary, and stevia. Make sure one bundle of plants is slightly thicker than the other.

With a long piece of string, tie the fatter bundle together about one fourth of the way from the top. This end becomes the head.

Separate the bundle a little bit, and slide the thinner bundle of weeds through the center. These will be the arms. Use the string and wrap in a criss-cross shape around the body to hold the arms in place. Tie it off to keep it tight, but don't cut the string.

Finally, spread the lower part of the fatter bundle apart, forming two halves as the legs.

Bring the string down and wrap around the "thighs" to keep the legs in place. If your branches seem like they're too fluffy, tie a small length of string in place around the wrists and ankles; as the greenery dries it won't stick out as much.

This is a very basic design, and you can either leave your straw man as rustic as you like or pretty him up a bit, it's entirely up to you. Save him until Spring, and then burn him as part of your Beltane celebrations.

 

From: http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/samhaincrafts/ss/StrawMan.htm

Sir James George Frazer, a comparative cultural anthropologist, explains in 'The Golden Bough' that the straw man in these pagan customs is 'representative of the tree spirit,' which also brings Bran to mind.  Unfortunately, Frazer tends to talk in circumlocutions, but you can get the gist:

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Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941).  The Golden Bough.  1922.


LXIV.  The Burning of Human Beings in the Fires


§ 1. The Burning of Effigies in the Fires

 

WE have still to ask, What is the meaning of burning effigies in the fire at these festivals? ...   

 ...the tree-spirit is represented in human shape, it is hardly rash to suppose that when sometimes a tree and sometimes an effigy is burned in these fires, the effigy and the tree are regarded as equivalent to each other, each being a representative of the tree-spirit. This, again, is confirmed by observing, first, that sometimes the effigy which is to be burned is carried about simultaneously with a May-tree, the former being carried by the boys, the latter by the girls; and, second, that the effigy is sometimes tied to a living tree and burned with it. In these cases, we can scarcely doubt, the tree-spirit is represented, as we have found it represented before, in duplicate, both by the tree and by the effigy.

 

 

More harvest references in connection with Bran:

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A Game of Thrones - Bran IV

"Hodor!" Hodor agreed happily. He ducked to get his great shaggy head under the door. Hodor was nearly seven feet tall. It was hard to believe that he was the same blood as Old Nan. Bran wondered if he would shrivel up as small as his great-grandmother when he was old. It did not seem likely, even if Hodor lived to be a thousand.

Hodor lifted Bran as easy as if he were a bale of hay, and cradled him against his massive chest. He always smelled faintly of horses, but it was not a bad smell. His arms were thick with muscle and matted with brown hair. "Hodor," he said again. Theon Greyjoy had once commented that Hodor did not know much, but no one could doubt that he knew his name. Old Nan had cackled like a hen when Bran told her that, and confessed that Hodor's real name was Walder. No one knew where "Hodor" had come from, she said, but when he started saying it, they started calling him by it. It was the only word he had.

They left Old Nan in the tower room with her needles and her memories. Hodor hummed tunelessly as he carried Bran down the steps and through the gallery, with Maester Luwin following behind, hurrying to keep up with the stableboy's long strides.

With his 'shaggy hair,' Hodor is a direwolf substitute.  Bran is likened to a bale of hay, i.e. 'straw man'.

Bran presides as Lord of the Harvest over the harvest festival at Winterfell.  He's led out on a horse in his finery, which might have a darker symbolic connotation as I've suggested above (pagan harvest/spring festivals involved the sacrifice of 'the King of Winter'):

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A Clash of Kings - Bran III

The low stone steps balked Dancer only for a moment. When Bran urged her on, she took them easily. Beyond the wide oak-and-iron doors, eight long rows of trestle tables filled Winterfell's Great Hall, four on each side of the center aisle. Men crowded shoulder to shoulder on the benches. "Stark!" they called as Bran trotted past, rising to their feet. "Winterfell! Winterfell!"

He was old enough to know that it was not truly him they shouted for—it was the harvest they cheered, it was Robb and his victories, it was his lord father and his grandfather and all the Starks going back eight thousand years. Still, it made him swell with pride. For so long as it took him to ride the length of that hall he forgot that he was broken. Yet when he reached the dais, with every eye upon him, Osha and Hodor undid his straps and buckles, lifted him off Dancer's back, and carried him to the high seat of his fathers.

Ser Rodrik was seated to Bran's left, his daughter Beth beside him. Rickon was to his right, his mop of shaggy auburn hair grown so long that it brushed his ermine mantle. He had refused to let anyone cut it since their mother had gone. The last girl to try had been bitten for her efforts.

Cute comparison of Rickon to Shaggy, 'the last girl to try had been bitten for her efforts'!

On 7/9/2016 at 8:28 AM, Julia H. said:

Bran - sitting on the stone window seat, unable to walk but watching all the time - seems to have become "the watcher on the walls", and he also reminds me a bit of the stone Kings of Winter and even more of their stone direwolves in the crypts. He has become a "stone" direwolf watching motionless on the walls

Nice.  I had the same idea last week, except I suspect the watchers are not as 'motionless' as meets the eye!

On 7/9/2016 at 11:16 AM, Seams said:

 

On 7/9/2016 at 8:28 AM, Julia H. said:

There is so much in this chapter about direwolves.

...

According to Osha, the direwolves "know more truths than the grey man has forgotten" and in Bran's observation, the wolves become practically omnipresent in Winterfell:

Ser Rodrik had confined the wolves to the godswood after Shaggydog bit Little Walder, but the stones of Winterfell played queer tricks with sound, and sometimes it sounded as if they were in the yard right below Bran’s window. Other times he would have sworn they were up on the curtain walls, loping round like sentries.

Again, the wolves and the walls, the wolves and stone, the wolves as watchers...

Yes, I did pick and choose among the many direwolf references in this chapter. Thank you for highlighting some of the other interesting direwolf passages.

I think "remembering the past" (or rediscovering it by reliving it) may be one of the major themes of the books. The characters are reliving the stories from old songs and legends, putting their new twists on ancient prophecies. If the direwolves remember things humans have forgotten, they must know what the future holds and understand the meaning of portents. The north remembers, and direwolves are quintessentially of the north.

I noticed that there is heavy emphasis on the five senses in this chapter in general, to the point of supernatural qualities. Old Nan is nearly blind, but she can "smell" the comet. Bran tells Maester Luwin that, if he were a direwolf, he would be able to find Sansa and Arya by smelling them. He tastes the blood in his mouth when he dreams. The sound of the howling direwolves irritates everyone at Winterfell (except Bran).

I wonder whether the supernatural sense of smell is supposed to be compared to Bran opening his third eye? Does Old Nan have a superpower represented by her sense of smell, and comparable to the special vision that Bran will develop? In other places, blind characters such as Maester Aemon and Arya as Blind Beth seem to develop special ability to see things by paying attention to things people say or feel. Maybe Old Nan's ability to smell the comet is unrelated to her failing eyesight. It does make her like the wolves, though, who would use their excellent abilities to smell things just as dogs do.

 

The opening of the third eye is connected to the loss of another important faculty, usually an eye -- in Bloodraven's case his eye, for Bran his legs, for Jaime his hand (whereafter he has the weirwood stump dream which prompts him to turn his life and horse around to go back for Brienne), and so on.

So, on the contrary, Old Nan's failing eyesight is critical:  she fulfills the trope of the 'blind seer/prophet/singer/storyteller.' And the loss of one sense hones the others.

Syrio teaches Arya 'the true seeing'.  With the faceless men, she loses her sight which helps her develop her 'higher' powers like warging in conjunction with her 'Night Wolf' persona.  During this time she also becomes acutely aware of smells.

The Hound tries to teach Sansa 'the true smelling':

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A Storm of Swords - Sansa VI

Sansa went down the steps and out into the night. A light rain was falling on the remains of the feast, but the air smelled fresh and clean. The memory of her own wedding night with Tyrion was much with her. In the dark, I am the Knight of Flowers, he had said. I could be good to you. But that was only another Lannister lie. A dog can smell a lie, you know, the Hound had told her once. She could almost hear the rough rasp of his voice. Look around you, and take a good whiff. They're all liars here, and every one better than you. She wondered what had become of Sandor Clegane. Did he know that they'd killed Joffrey? Would he care? He had been the prince's sworn shield for years.

She stayed outside for a long time. When at last she sought her own bed, wet and chilled, only the dim glow of a peat fire lit the darkened hall. There was no sound from above. The young singer sat in a corner, playing a slow song to himself. One of her aunt's maids was kissing a knight in Lord Petyr's chair, their hands busy beneath each other's clothing. Several men had drunk themselves to sleep, and one was in the privy, being noisily sick. Sansa found Bryen's old blind dog in her little alcove beneath the steps, and lay down next to him. He woke and licked her face. "You sad old hound," she said, ruffling his fur.

 

1 hour ago, Seams said:

The point about Joffrey and symmetry in death - excellent. He used Ned's own sword to kill Ned, sort of like his vision of a wolf killing Robb Stark.

Good point.  Fighting ice with ice!

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Ravenous reader, thank you for your insightful posts.

I apologize for the delay - I was away on vacation - but here is finally the analysis of the next three direwolf chapters. These chapters do not focus specifically on direwolves, yet, there is something interesting to observe in each of them.

 

Arya II

Overview

 

Yoren, the boys and Arya are travelling towards North. On the road, Arya receives news of Robb and Nymeria. The gold cloaks, looking for Gendry, attack the group but they successfully defend themselves.

 

Observations

 

            · The Stag and the Wolf (Ary and Gendry this time) once again fight together against the   

               Crown.

            · God’s Eye: A place in the South where the Old Gods still have power?

 

Analysis 

The Young Wolf

The chapter start by showing the refugees fleeing from the war in the Riverlands, each of them highlighting how bad the situation must be. Travelling the wrong way – northwards – is clearly regarded as a very bad idea, as Yoren is plainly told in the inn where they stop for a bath and a hot meal. It is here that Arya first hears that the Stark forces (led by the young lord Robb) are involved in the war, too. Robb has acquired a certain fame as a warrior of extraordinary abilities:

 

“I heard the boy rides to battle on a wolf,” said a yellow-haired man with a tankard in his hand.

“Fool’s talk.” Yoren spat.

“The man I heard it from, he saw it himself. A wolf big as a horse, he swore.”

 

It is a fine example of how legends of mythical heroes evolve, and even though the listeners don’t quite believe this particular piece of news (or at least not all of them), the reader can clearly recognize the underlying truth beneath the rumour: Although Robb does not ride to battle on wolfback, he is indeed special, and the wolf is part of his identity. The image of Robb riding to battle on Grey Wind may also imply a degree of unity which is probably an essential part of Robb the hero in a sense that goes beyond the mere image. Grey Wind represents the fiercest, the most instinctive and the most magical aspects of the King-in-the-North, which should never be left behind, at least not until his kingdom is completely safe.

I think Robb is also indirectly compared to the dragon-riding Targaryen warriors when he is rumoured to ride his great, magical animal to battle. It fits the standard Westerosi image of a truly exceptional warrior.   

 

A bad year for wolves

“It’s been a bad year for wolves,” volunteered a sallow man in a travel-stained green cloak. “Around the Gods Eye, the packs have grown bolder’n anyone can remember. Sheep, cows, dogs, makes no matter, they kill as they like, and they got no fear of men. It’s worth your life to go into those woods by night.”

 

The sallow man’s observation is true in more ways than one, not only with reference to four-legged wolves, but also with reference to the Starks.

It is also implied that you should especially beware of wolves in the woods and at night. This quote is particularly interesting with regard to the current situation in the series: The Long Night is coming and we know that a large part of the North is covered by an enormous forest that just happens to be called the Wolfswood. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch if we understood the “woods” as a symbol of the North. Should the still surviving enemies of the Starks take this quote as a warning that there is still reason to be afraid of the Starks in the North? 

 

The she-wolf

After hearing about her brother’s wolf, Arya receives news of what must be Nymeria and her new pack, as Arya herself realizes.

 

“I heard the same thing from my cousin, and she’s not the sort to lie,” an old woman said. “She says there’s this great pack, hundreds of them, mankillers. The one that leads them is a she-wolf, a bitch from the seventh hell.”

 

The description of the wolf packs and particularly of Nymeria reminds me of Ned’s warning of what will happen when a direwolf is brutalized or treated badly.

 

“And the gods help you if you neglect them, or brutalize them, or train them badly. These are not dogs to beg for treats and slink off at a kick. A direwolf will rip a man's arm off his shoulder as easily as a dog will kill a rat. Are you sure you want this?”

 

The stories make Arya recall Nymeria and how they parted:

 

A she-wolf. Arya sloshed her beer, wondering. Was the Gods Eye near the Trident? She wished she had a map. It had been near the Trident that she’d left Nymeria. She hadn’t wanted to, but Jory said they had no choice, that if the wolf came back with them she’d be killed for biting Joffrey, even though he’d deserved it. They’d had to shout and scream and throw stones, and it wasn’t until a few of Arya’s stones struck home that the direwolf had finally stopped following them. She probably wouldn1t even know me now, Arya thought. Or if she did, she’d hate me.

 

The Gods Eye: Nymeria with her pack is near the Gods Eye. Does that mean she is seen – watched over – by the Old Gods?

Osha told Bran that the Old Gods have no power in the South – so they can’t help his brother – because they have no eyes, i.e. because the weirwood trees have been destroyed. Could it be that Nymeria has found the (only?) place in the South where the Old Gods still keep an eye on their own? Or could the direwolves – Nymeria, Grey Wind, Ghost, Summer, Lady and Shaggydog – be also the Gods’ eyes in some way?

The story of how Arya threw stones at Nymeria to save her life is still poignant, though we have heard it before. The idea that Nymeria wouldn’t know or would perhaps hate Arya sounds rather unbelievable.

Arya certainly still loves Nymeria and she still identifies with her quite strongly.

 

The man in the green cloak said, “I heard how this hellbitch walked into a village one day . . . a market day, people everywhere, and she walks in bold as you please and tears a baby from his mother’s arms. When the tale reached Lord Mooton, him and his sons swore they’d put an end to her. They tracked her to her lair with a pack of wolfhounds, and barely escaped with their skins. Not one of those dogs came back, not one.”

“That’s just a story,” Arya blurted out before she could stop herself. “Wolves don’t eat babies.”

 

The idea that her direwolf may have turned into a monster that kills babies shocks Arya so much that she suddenly forgets about caution and protests, with the result that Yoren sends her out of the building before she calls unwanted attention to herself. Arya is still furious as she leaves.

Once again the dog – wolf conflict it mentioned, and in this particular story it is clearly the wolves that come out of the conflict victorious.

 

 

Jon I

Overview

 

The men of the Night’s Watch are getting ready for the great ranging beyond the Wall. Mormont talks to Jon about kings and brothers.

 

Observations

 

            · Jon thinks of his gods waiting beyond the Wall.

            · Mormont mentions that his sister “is said to have taken a bear for her lover”.

 

Analysis 

Rare as a white raven

There is very little about direwolves in this chapter. We learn that even though Ghost is asleep outside, he wakes up and follows Jon as soon as he appears and accompanies Jon as far as he is allowed to.

The harbinger of the changing season, the white raven from the Citadel is compared to Ghost:

“the great raven of the Citadel, white and silent as Ghost”.

The quote highlights how unusual and special Ghost is. A “white raven” is often a metaphor for rarity. The Citadel’s white raven this time is also associated with the coming winter, which is another connection between the raven and Ghost.

 

 

Catelyn I

 Overview

                                              

Robb as a king has to make important decisions. There is talk of peace terms, revenge, alliance and hostages. Catelyn does her best to give her son advice.

 

Observations

 

            · Grey Wind is referred to as a beast in Catelyn’s POV.

            · The Greatjon is a bit like a noisier, two-legged version of Grey Wind. :P

 

Analysis

The Frey-Lannister and the beast

Robb is holding court and Grey Wind is by his side. The direwolf is a truly fearsome creature now, the warrior wolf of a warrior king. In the Whispering Wood “Grey Wind had ripped out the throats of half a dozen men”. While it is not true that Robb rides to battle on wolfback as rumour has it; Grey Wind seems to be his shadow, constantly by his side, sharing even his emotions.

Ser Cleos, Tywin’s captive brother-in-law, is quite obviously afraid of the wolf:

 

Yet it was not the sword that made Ser Cleos Frey anxious; it was the beast.

 

In the light of this quote, it is an especially sad thought that Robb will leave behind Grey Wind as he enters the Twins before the Red Wedding, specifically trusting his army to protect him. The Freys and the Lannisters may well be more afraid of a huge magical beast than of ordinary swords.

Grey Wind sniffs at the captive – his interest in Cleos Frey is quite curious.

 

An offer of peace

“An offer of peace.” Robb stood, longsword in hand. Grey Wind moved to his side. The hall grew hushed.

 

It seems that finishing a war can be quite as controversial a decision as starting one. Earlier, it was observed (by Seams, I think) that Ghost is Jon’s silent, white-clad Kingsguard. Grey Wind also acts as Kingsguard for Robb, the King in the North, and Grey Wind apparently feels that Robb needs support at this moment - just like the Greatjon, who keeps roaring his support and seems determined to outdo everyone else as the staunchest Stark supporter. The two are even connected in this paragraph:

 

Stark!” the Greatjon roared again, and now other voices took up the cry. “Stark, Stark, King in the North!” The direwolf threw back his head and howled.

 

Family

Later Robb argues with his mother – about trading Jaime for his sisters, about sending Theon to Balon – he seems to still rely on Grey Wind for moral support.

 

“Are you afraid to have Jaime Lannister in the field again, is that the truth of it?”

Grey Wind growled, as if he sensed Robb’s anger

 

Grey Wind stands up for Robb even in front of Catelyn and probably expresses the anger that Robb is prevented from showing by filial respect (and which he vents on poor, innocent Edmure a moment later).

 

Her son squatted beside Grey Wind, ruffling the wolf’s fur and incidentally avoiding her eyes.  

 

When Robb stands up again, he finishes the argument, determined to send Theon to Balon Greyjoy, and leaves the room with Grey Wind still by his side.

 

Edited by Julia H.

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The prologue features two large (12ft.) gargoyles a hellhound and a wyvern on Dragonstone flanking the rookery balcony. Since Nymeria is described as "from hell" more than once in Arya II, I remembered this. (Wyverns are a kind of dragon.)

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On 8/3/2016 at 11:05 AM, Julia H. said:

Arya II

Analysis 

The Young Wolf

...Arya first hears that the Stark forces (led by the young lord Robb) are involved in the war, too. Robb has acquired a certain fame as a warrior of extraordinary abilities:

“I heard the boy rides to battle on a wolf,” said a yellow-haired man with a tankard in his hand.

“Fool’s talk.” Yoren spat.

“The man I heard it from, he saw it himself. A wolf big as a horse, he swore.”

It is a fine example of how legends of mythical heroes evolve, and even though the listeners don’t quite believe this particular piece of news (or at least not all of them), the reader can clearly recognize the underlying truth beneath the rumour: Although Robb does not ride to battle on wolfback, he is indeed special, and the wolf is part of his identity. The image of Robb riding to battle on Grey Wind may also imply a degree of unity which is probably an essential part of Robb the hero in a sense that goes beyond the mere image. Grey Wind represents the fiercest, the most instinctive and the most magical aspects of the King-in-the-North, which should never be left behind, at least not until his kingdom is completely safe.

I think Robb is also indirectly compared to the dragon-riding Targaryen warriors when he is rumoured to ride his great, magical animal to battle. It fits the standard Westerosi image of a truly exceptional warrior.   

 

A bad year for wolves

“It’s been a bad year for wolves,” volunteered a sallow man in a travel-stained green cloak. “Around the Gods Eye, the packs have grown bolder’n anyone can remember. Sheep, cows, dogs, makes no matter, they kill as they like, and they got no fear of men. It’s worth your life to go into those woods by night.”

The sallow man’s observation is true in more ways than one, not only with reference to four-legged wolves, but also with reference to the Starks.

It is also implied that you should especially beware of wolves in the woods and at night. This quote is particularly interesting with regard to the current situation in the series: The Long Night is coming and we know that a large part of the North is covered by an enormous forest that just happens to be called the Wolfswood. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch if we understood the “woods” as a symbol of the North. Should the still surviving enemies of the Starks take this quote as a warning that there is still reason to be afraid of the Starks in the North? 

...

The Gods Eye: Nymeria with her pack is near the Gods Eye. Does that mean she is seen – watched over – by the Old Gods?

Osha told Bran that the Old Gods have no power in the South – so they can’t help his brother – because they have no eyes, i.e. because the weirwood trees have been destroyed. Could it be that Nymeria has found the (only?) place in the South where the Old Gods still keep an eye on their own? Or could the direwolves – Nymeria, Grey Wind, Ghost, Summer, Lady and Shaggydog – be also the Gods’ eyes in some way?

 

Jon I

Analysis 

Rare as a white raven

The harbinger of the changing season, the white raven from the Citadel is compared to Ghost:

“the great raven of the Citadel, white and silent as Ghost”.

The quote highlights how unusual and special Ghost is. A “white raven” is often a metaphor for rarity. The Citadel’s white raven this time is also associated with the coming winter, which is another connection between the raven and Ghost.

Catelyn I

Analysis

The Frey-Lannister and the beast

Robb is holding court and Grey Wind is by his side. The direwolf is a truly fearsome creature now, the warrior wolf of a warrior king. In the Whispering Wood “Grey Wind had ripped out the throats of half a dozen men”. While it is not true that Robb rides to battle on wolfback as rumour has it; Grey Wind seems to be his shadow, constantly by his side, sharing even his emotions.

Ser Cleos, Tywin’s captive brother-in-law, is quite obviously afraid of the wolf:

Yet it was not the sword that made Ser Cleos Frey anxious; it was the beast.

 

 

Family

Later Robb argues with his mother – about trading Jaime for his sisters, about sending Theon to Balon – he seems to still rely on Grey Wind for moral support.

“Are you afraid to have Jaime Lannister in the field again, is that the truth of it?”

Grey Wind growled, as if he sensed Robb’s anger

Grey Wind stands up for Robb even in front of Catelyn and probably expresses the anger that Robb is prevented from showing by filial respect (and which he vents on poor, innocent Edmure a moment later).

Nice work, Julia! I admire your ability to get right to the substance of the direwolf references.

Arya II - I agree that the rumor about Robb Stark riding his wolf into battle is both the stuff of legends and an allusion to the Targaryens. When we were looking at the names chosen for each direwolf, I think we noted that Dany says Khal Drogo has given her "the wind" when he gives her the beautiful horse she calls her Silver. (Silver is the color associated with Targaryen hair.) Robb's wolf is called Grey Wind, and grey is the color associated with the Stark sigil and with elements of their coloring and Winterfell. So Dany's mount and Robb's wolf have always been linked in my mind.

Also, I can't help but notice the possible wordplay around "ride" and "dire." Maybe the story is a hint that Robb is not making proper use of his wolf - you're not supposed to ride a wolf, if you want it to be dire.

Your observation about the "bad year for wolves" seems to be the beginning of an ongoing theme, based on what I'm seeing in upcoming chapters. People in the Arya POVs are constantly talking about the threat of wolves, things that wolves do to dead bodies, etc. Maybe you are also correct that this means there is a lingering threat from the Starks and that people should beware. It will be interesting to try to sort this out. My sense is that the upcoming references to wolves are not necessarily Stark references, more of a generic reference to people and animals who hurt small folk. But I will look forward to hearing input from you and others.

I am also grateful for your insight about the eyes of the wolves substituting for the eyes of the few-a-far-between weirwoods. I am seeing something similar as I prepare future chapters. (Arya III, in particular, coming up in the next post.) I have also recently dipped into some of the old discussion on the Bran's Growing Powers re-read, and there is considerable analysis and evidence there of the way that time-traveling Bran may be present in various elements of nature as an observer and to interact with people at key moments in the story.

Jon I - If Ghost and the white raven both personify winter, are they supposed to be parallel or are they opposites? Direwolves come from the magical side of Westeros, and the Citadel is supposed to be anti-magic, right? Are there two different visions of the onset of winter? Or? Also, how does the Citadel's raven compare or contrast with a "Blood"raven? Or a black raven? We are always being told, "Dark wings, dark words." Does that mean that the white wings of a white raven bring good news?

Catelyn I - More wordplay. You can play around with the surname "Frey" and make the word "fyre." The first name "Walder" could have a sort of German meaning and refer to the woods (Wald = woods in German). So maybe the tension here is represented by the Wolfswood and the Firewoods. I'm also remembering the burned woods in the Dunk & Egg story. Maybe this is too much of a stretch, I admit.

Fear and the growling wolf. Until your post, I had not noticed that Catelyn was asking Robb whether he feared Jaime Lannister when Grey Wind started to growl. We are going to see something similar (in Bran IV) with Jojen confronting Bran about his fears (one of which is the "golden man," the Queen's brother) where the direwolf Summer will express Bran's emotional response by angrily chasing Jojen up a weirwood tree.

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On 8/3/2016 at 11:05 AM, Julia H. said:

Ravenous reader, thank you for your insightful posts.

Thanks Julia.  Likewise, I always enjoy seeing what you're up to!

On 8/3/2016 at 11:05 AM, Julia H. said:

“I heard the boy rides to battle on a wolf,”

I agree with all the points you made.  In addition, it's a nod to skinchanging.

On 8/3/2016 at 11:05 AM, Julia H. said:

A wolf big as a horse, he swore.”

 

 

I think Robb is also indirectly compared to the dragon-riding Targaryen warriors when he is rumoured to ride his great, magical animal to battle. It fits the standard Westerosi image of a truly exceptional warrior.   

In terms of Stark-Targaryen similarities, the 'big horse' reference evokes 'the stallion that will mount the world.'  @Seamsalso links Robb and Dany via the 'windiness' of their mounts, Robb's grey wind, and Dany's silver respectively.  In a similar windy vein (?vane..!), Theon compares Stark and Greyjoy mounts:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Theon I

Theon did not need to be told that Black Wind was Asha's longship. He had not seen his sister in ten years, but that much he knew of her. Odd that she would call it that, when Robb Stark had a wolf named Grey Wind. "Stark is grey and Greyjoy's black," he murmured, smiling, "but it seems we're both windy."

The priest had nothing to say to that.

 

On 8/3/2016 at 11:05 AM, Julia H. said:

A bad year for wolves

“It’s been a bad year for wolves,” volunteered a sallow man in a travel-stained green cloak. “Around the Gods Eye, the packs have grown bolder’n anyone can remember. Sheep, cows, dogs, makes no matter, they kill as they like, and they got no fear of men. It’s worth your life to go into those woods by night.”

 

The sallow man’s observation is true in more ways than one, not only with reference to four-legged wolves, but also with reference to the Starks.

It is also implied that you should especially beware of wolves in the woods and at night. This quote is particularly interesting with regard to the current situation in the series: The Long Night is coming and we know that a large part of the North is covered by an enormous forest that just happens to be called the Wolfswood. Perhaps it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch if we understood the “woods” as a symbol of the North. Should the still surviving enemies of the Starks take this quote as a warning that there is still reason to be afraid of the Starks in the North? 

I love your observation here that the wolves, hence Starks and the rest of the north, will have an advantage in 'The Long Night'!  Therefore, the titular 'bad year for wolves' is ironically a good time for them and their allies!

@Wizz-The-Smith and I have recently been discussing just this 'wolves' eyes in the night' concept (e.g. being among Bloodraven's 1000 proxy eyes).  We had been planning to develop this more formally in an upcoming essay.

On 8/6/2016 at 0:00 PM, Seams said:

I am also grateful for your insight about the eyes of the wolves substituting for the eyes of the few-a-far-between weirwoods. I am seeing something similar as I prepare future chapters. (Arya III, in particular, coming up in the next post.) I have also recently dipped into some of the old discussion on the Bran's Growing Powers re-read, and there is considerable analysis and evidence there of the way that time-traveling Bran may be present in various elements of nature as an observer and to interact with people at key moments in the story.

Thanks for acknowledging @evita mgfs's thread, which we're trying to revive!

Bloodraven told Bran that he'd have the advantage as a 'tree' in darkness, and the same applies to wolves:

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Bran III

"The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother's milk. Darkness will make you strong."

Indeed, the 'wood'and all that it harbors (including wolves, children of the 'forest' and the 'green' seers, etc.)  is a symbol of the north.

On 8/3/2016 at 11:05 AM, Julia H. said:

“That’s just a story,” Arya blurted out before she could stop herself. “Wolves don’t eat babies.”

This is pregnant with symbolic value.  Much of the conflict in ASOIAF has historically been driven by what each House is willing and/or not willing to do to the babies/children of their enemies -- and indeed their own (e.g. the Targaryens being so inbred and promiscuous both within and outside the circle of their family frequently 'eat their own' offspring...'dance' of dragons may be a euphemism for cannibalism whereby the 'three heads (or more)' snap at each other jealously instead of collaborating as the conventional wisdom would have it!).  

 Because in that society succession in matters of power is determined by blood ties, the children of ones rivals, even their bastards, may pose a potential threat to ones social standing and very existence, and as such may be tempting to 'eliminate.'  Accordingly, the quintessential usurpers the Lannisters (Lann the Clever was the original usurper of Casterly Rock) frequently engage this tactic against other houses following their hostile takeovers, as we saw with the murder of the Targaryen children by forces strategically unleashed by Tywin.  In nature, incidentally, when a grown male lion takes over another's territory, the first thing he'll do after killing his rival is savage the cubs, however young (and Tywin's main rival was Aerys, so his progeny had to go).  By passing off her and Jaime's lion 'cubs' as stags, and ensuring not to fall pregnant by Robert, Cersei has also in a way 'eaten' the Stag's babies! Then later, Cersei and Joffrey engage in a bastard-killing spree, from which only three or so of Robert's biological offspring escape.  Chief among these escapees is Gendry, the young bull, who has now teamed up with Arya, the feral wolfchild (who has likewise escaped the lion's claws and the reach of their catspaws), and the brotherhood without banners who all work together to thwart the lions.  

Evidently, it's difficulty to completely extinguish someone's genetic line no matter how hard one tries, a theme GRRM is fond of exploring.  As the last remaining representatives of the enemies one may have successfully dealt with in the past, there is always the danger of falling into an eternal cycle of revenge and counter-revenge as long as these descendants continue to exist.  The irony, of course, is that harming the children of ones enemies perpetuates the revenge cycle (e.g. 'the North remembers') just as much as, if not more than, leaving them alone (e.g. refraining from murdering Dany allows her re-conquest of Westeros).

Arya's indignation at the suggestion that wolves could eat babies is reminiscent of Ned's core value, which he may have conceivably inculcated in her, that one should never stoop to that level.  For example, his disagreements with Robert usually surrounded Ned's unwillingness to sanction the killing of 'children' like Dany, on the back of his enduring distaste for how Robert had turned a blind eye to the murder of the Targaryen children which ensured Robert's rise to power. He was even willing to sacrifice his own children in order to avoid killing others, as evidenced in 'the madness of mercy' he showed to Cersei and her children, which effectively contributed to his own undoing and that of his family.  Unfortunately, safeguarding ones own children cannot always be reconciled with the safety of those of others.  If the wolves are to survive, the grim implication is they might have to eat some babies (perhaps even their own) in future!

On 8/3/2016 at 11:05 AM, Julia H. said:

“the great raven of the Citadel, white and silent as Ghost”.

The Great Raven = Bloodraven. 

On 8/3/2016 at 11:05 AM, Julia H. said:

Earlier, it was observed (by Seams, I think) that Ghost is Jon’s silent, white-clad Kingsguard. Grey Wind also acts as Kingsguard for Robb, the King in the North, and Grey Wind apparently feels that Robb needs support at this moment - just like the Greatjon, who keeps roaring his support and seems determined to outdo everyone else as the staunchest Stark supporter. The two are even connected in this paragraph:

 

Stark!” the Greatjon roared again, and now other voices took up the cry. “Stark, Stark, King in the North!” The direwolf threw back his head and howled.

Nice.  I like the kingsguard/bodyguard analogy.  One might go further and also say the wolf is the Hand of the king, and with his howl he casts his vote!

On 8/3/2016 at 4:56 PM, black_hart said:

The prologue features two large (12ft.) gargoyles a hellhound and a wyvern on Dragonstone flanking the rookery balcony. Since Nymeria is described as "from hell" more than once in Arya II, I remembered this. (Wyverns are a kind of dragon.)

Could you explicate a bit on the symbolic significance thereof  as you see it unfolding going forward?  I suppose there a lot of hellhound candidates.  There's 'The Hound,' for one.  In the following passage, he's even on fire:

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Arya VI

Tom Sevenstrings and some woman were helping the Hound to his feet. The sight of his arm shocked her speechless. There was a strip of pink where the leather strap had clung, but above and below the flesh was cracked and red and bleeding from elbow to wrist. When his eyes met hers, his mouth twitched. "You want me dead that bad? Then do it, wolf girl. Shove it in. It's cleaner than fire." Clegane tried to stand, but as he moved a piece of burned flesh sloughed right off his arm, and his knees went out from under him. Tom caught him by his good arm and held him up.

His arm, Arya thought, and his face. But he was the Hound. He deserved to burn in a fiery hell. The knife felt heavy in her hand. She gripped it tighter. "You killed Mycah," she said once more, daring him to deny it. "Tell them. You did. You did."

"I did." His whole face twisted. "I rode him down and cut him in half, and laughed. I watched them beat your sister bloody too, watched them cut your father's head off."

Lem grabbed her wrist and twisted, wrenching the dagger away. She kicked at him, but he would not give it back. "You go to hell, Hound," she screamed at Sandor Clegane in helpless empty-handed rage. "You just go to hell!"

"He has," said a voice scarce stronger than a whisper.

Then, there's Lady Stoneheart...she's a she-wolf who's been to hell and back.  She also fits your stony analogy!

On 8/6/2016 at 0:00 PM, Seams said:

I can't help but notice the possible wordplay around "ride" and "dire." Maybe the story is a hint that Robb is not making proper use of his wolf - you're not supposed to ride a wolf, if you want it to be dire.

ride, dire, rider, deride, derrida (just kidding...;))

I don't think Robb's error was riding his wolf.  It was riding the wrong 'mount' that had 'dire' consequences. Let me explain:

From Dany's prophecy 'three mounts must you ride...one to bed and one to dread and one to love...' we learned that not all mounts are alike and some are even treacherous.   From Varamyr's prologue we learned that a wolf is like a wife to a warg and that it's a monogamous bond spiritually speaking, they 'mate' so to speak 'for life.'

In Robb's case, he rejected Grey Wind, increasingly pushing him away -- i.e. breaking the warg bond -- in favor of the conniving Westerlings/Spicers (by extension the Lannisters).  From the start Grey Wind did not like their smell, and instead of heeding this signal Robb got irritated and uppity and increasingly self-righteous.  By rejecting Grey Wind, Robb committed abandonment at the least and a kind of adultery at the worst.  Instead of his faithful friend, adviser, kingsguard, Hand, soldier, and love, he chose to ride (or be ridden by) a Spicer (recently I did a search of all things spice, and I'll tell you it's not equivalent with all things nice...that pigeon pie at Joff's wedding was 'spiced' by the way!).  Also, instead of heeding his mother and marrying the Frey girl as planned, he chose Jeyne.  

Grey Wind was the mount to love; the Frey girl was the mount to bed; and Jeyne and the rest of the spicer contingent was the mount to dread.  Robb got his mounts mixed up -- and paid the ultimate price.

Failing to choose his mounts carefully, he got mounted along with his wolf:

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Davos V

"Yet in the city, the lions prance and dance. The Red Wedding, the smallfolk are calling it. They swear Lord Frey had the boy's head hacked off, sewed the head of his direwolf in its place, and nailed a crown about his ears. .

A Storm of Swords - Tyrion VII

He had wrapped his cloak around her shoulders and sworn to protect her, but that was as cruel a jape as the crown the Freys had placed atop the head of Robb Stark's direwolf after they'd sewn it onto his headless corpse. Sansa knew that as well. The way she looked at him, her stiffness when she climbed into their bed . . . when he was with her, never for an instant could he forget who he was, or what he was. No more than she did. She still went nightly to the godswood to pray, and Tyrion wondered if she were praying for his death. She had lost her home, her place in the world, and everyone she had ever loved or trusted. Winter is coming, warned the Stark words, and truly it had come for them with a vengeance. But it is high summer for House Lannister. So why am I so bloody cold?

 

On 8/6/2016 at 0:00 PM, Seams said:

Fear and the growling wolf. Until your post, I had not noticed that Catelyn was asking Robb whether he feared Jaime Lannister when Grey Wind started to growl. We are going to see something similar (in Bran IV) with Jojen confronting Bran about his fears (one of which is the "golden man," the Queen's brother) where the direwolf Summer will express Bran's emotional response by angrily chasing Jojen up a weirwood tree.

I can't help but think here of a dog chasing a cat up a tree!  Jojen with his strange green eyes and child of the forest physique and aura is rather feline (the children of the forest are also said to have golden cat's eyes).  It's as if Bran, unable to contain his fear of Jaime the golden cat, reacts by transferring his fear and aggression onto Jojen.  

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Arya III

Overview

Arya and the others in Yoren’s wagon train travel out of their way to stay away from the Gold Cloaks and marauders. Food shortages affect them and the people of the countryside. Arya continues to hide the fact that she is a girl.

Observations

In Arya I, Sansa I and Bran I, each Stark child was proud to identify as a wolf or direwolf, and drew strength from this self-image. Now Arya is hearing that others see wolves in a different light; that wolves are bad and should be feared. These comments describe real animals as well as Robb Stark’s bannermen or other men.

Analysis

The group comes upon a burned and sacked village where Yoren finds two survivors. Instructing the recruits to create a bed for an injured woman in the back of a wagon, he says, “And be quick about it . . . Come dark, there’ll be wolves here, and worse.”

Arya has a direct wolf encounter that requires her to rethink her feelings about wolves: when she needs to urinate, Hot Pie warns her not to go far from the camp because he has heard wolves nearby. Arya pretends to heed his advice but sneaks off anyway. At a vulnerable moment, she is approached by twelve “eyes shining out from the wood,” and one wolf that comes close enough to bare his teeth at her. “[A]ll she could think about was how stupid she’d been and how Hot Pie would gloat when they found her half-eaten body the next morning. But the wolf turned and raced back into the darkness, and quick as that the eyes were gone.”

The eyes from the wood sound like an allusion to a weirwood tree, with its carved face. If so, is this a point of contact with Bran? If so, why would there be twelve eyes?

Arya tells Yoren that the wolves scared her: 

“Did they?” He spat. “Seems to me your kind was fond o’ wolves.”

“Nymeria was a direwolf.” Arya hugged herself. “That’s different. Anyhow, she’s gone. . . I bet if she’d been in the city, she wouldn’t have let them cut off Father’s head.”

“Orphan boys got no fathers,” Yoren said, “or did you forget that? . . . The only wolves we got to fear are the ones wear manskin, like those who done for that village.”

In this brief exchange, Yoren reminds Arya that she must maintain her disguise as an orphan boy – a no one – and underscores the danger that certain men pose to their traveling group. Although he had earlier warned the recruits that (animal) wolves posed a threat, he seems relatively unconcerned by the fear Arya expresses after her encounter with the real wolves.

Yoren’s choice of phrasing – “wolves . . . [that] wear manskin” – is interesting. We know that the Boltons of ancient times wore “wolf” skin when they would flay Starks and turn their skin into cloaks. This is the only mention I can recall of wolves wearing manskin. What does Yoren know of warging, and can it – literally or figuratively – work in reverse, with the wolf entering the human’s mind?

It’s also interesting here that Arya makes the distinction between direwolves and wolves. The implication is that regular wolves are scary but direwolves are not (to her, at least).

Arya wishes she were home at Winterfell, and falls asleep to the sound of the howling wolves and “a whisper on the wind, that might have been screams.” This closing image contrasts with the closing image in Bran I in which Bran, in a “wolf dream,” resents the high walls and the man cave of Winterfell and longs to answer the call of the wide world.

Theon I

Overview

Theon returns to the Iron Islands for the first time in ten years, expecting to be welcomed as his father’s heir, and to enlist his support for Robb Stark. Instead, his family members are critical of the changes in him after all the time he spent as a “lordling of the green lands.”

Observations

There isn’t a lot of wolf imagery in this long chapter, but the Greyjoys’ references to wolves show how clearly Theon has become Stark-like.

Analysis

Before they begin their ride towards Theon’s father’s castle, Theon’s uncle, Aeron “Damphair” confronts his nephew:

“Tell me true, nephew. Do you pray to the wolf gods now”

Theon seldom prayed at all, but that was not something you confessed to a priest, even your father’s own brother. “Ned Stark prayed to a tree. No, I care nothing for Stark’s gods.”

“Good. Kneel.”

The ground was all stones and mud. “Uncle, I –”

Kneel. Or are you too proud now, a lordling of the green lands come among us?”

Theon knelt. He had a purpose here, and might need Aeron’s help to achieve it. A crown was worth a little mud and horseshit on his breeches, he supposed.

Theon believes that kneeling before his uncle will help him to achieve his goal of obtaining a crown: Robb Stark promises to restore Balon Greyjoy as king of the IronIslands if he provides ships for the Stark effort to conquer Casterly Rock and the West. The specific mention of the crown is interesting because this scene echoes (or inverts) the historic scene of Torrhen (Theon) kneeling before Aegon (Aeron) to surrender his crown. In his role as Robb’s representative, does Theon’s willingness to bend the knee here mean that Robb is symbolically giving up his crown to the Ironborn? Or does it foreshadow that Theon will become Warden of the North and Lord of Winterfell? Theon may be more of a wolf than he is aware.

Interesting, too, that Aeron says “wolf gods” and Theon correctly points out that the Starks pray to trees. This may underscore the “eyes shining out from the wood” line in Arya III that seemed to equate wolves with weirwood trees.

Later, just before rejecting the idea that Stark would give him a crown and stating his intention to take his crown, Balon Greyjoy tells Theon:

“…the Stark pup sends you to me like a well-trained raven, clutching his little message.”

Ravens will be associated with Bran’s third eye. (We will also see trained ravens coming up in Jon II.) So Theon’s association with the Starks seems very strong on many levels.

Edited by Seams

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5 hours ago, Seams said:

“Tell me true, nephew. Do you pray to the wolf gods now”

Theon seldom prayed at all, but that was not something you confessed to a priest, even your father’s own brother. “Ned Stark prayed to a tree. No, I care nothing for Stark’s gods.”

“Good. Kneel.”

The ground was all stones and mud. “Uncle, I –”

Kneel. Or are you too proud now, a lordling of the green lands come among us?”

Theon knelt. He had a purpose here, and might need Aeron’s help to achieve it. A crown was worth a little mud and horseshit on his breeches, he supposed.

Considering Theon's assertion that he cares nothing for tree gods, it's ironic that he later prays to a tree.  Moreover, in contrast to the kneeling tableau which you quoted above in which Theon struggled to bend the knee and had to be coerced, in the following scenes in Winterfell Theon falls to his knees of his own volition, in genuine contrition and honest supplication:

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - The Turncloak

Snow was falling on the godswood too, melting when it touched the ground. Beneath the white-cloaked trees the earth had turned to mud. Tendrils of mist hung in the air like ghostly ribbons. Why did I come here? These are not my gods. This is not my place. The heart tree stood before him, a pale giant with a carved face and leaves like bloody hands.

A thin film of ice covered the surface of the pool beneath the weirwood. Theon sank to his knees beside it. "Please," he murmured through his broken teeth, "I never meant …" The words caught in his throat. "Save me," he finally managed. "Give me …" What? Strength? Courage? Mercy? Snow fell around him, pale and silent, keeping its own counsel. The only sound was a faint soft sobbing. Jeyne, he thought. It is her, sobbing in her bridal bed. Who else could it be? Gods do not weep. Or do they?

The sound was too painful to endure. Theon grabbed hold of a branch and pulled himself back to his feet, knocked the snow off his legs, and limped back toward the lights. There are ghosts in Winterfell, he thought, and I am one of them.

 

A Dance with Dragons - A Ghost in Winterfell

The night was windless, the snow drifting straight down out of a cold black sky, yet the leaves of the heart tree were rustling his name. "Theon," they seemed to whisper, "Theon."

The old gods, he thought. They know me. They know my name. I was Theon of House Greyjoy. I was a ward of Eddard Stark, a friend and brother to his children. "Please." He fell to his knees. "A sword, that's all I ask. Let me die as Theon, not as Reek." Tears trickled down his cheeks, impossibly warm. "I was ironborn. A son … a son of Pyke, of the islands."

A leaf drifted down from above, brushed his brow, and landed in the pool. It floated on the water, red, five-fingered, like a bloody hand. "… Bran," the tree murmured.

It's canon by now that the tree is indeed the vehicle for Bran's consciousness, eyes, and voice.  Moreover, he makes use of the tree's limbs in order to reach out to the ones he's contacting/comforting.  I like the symbolic imagery of how Theon is helped back to his feet by the weirwood branch (=Bran's arm) on which Theon in his broken state leans; and in the second quote Bran symbolically opens Theon's third eye by gently brushing Theon's forehead with the weirwood leaf (=Bran's hand).  This gesture is also reminiscent of a benediction or baptism, which perhaps reverses Aeron's watery initiation to which it is a mirror:  

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Theon I

Theon knelt. He had a purpose here, and might need Aeron's help to achieve it. A crown was worth a little mud and horseshit on his breeches, he supposed.

"Bow your head." Lifting the skin, his uncle pulled the cork and directed a thin stream of seawater down upon Theon's head. It drenched his hair and ran over his forehead into his eyes. Sheets washed down his cheeks, and a finger crept under his cloak and doublet and down his back, a cold rivulet along his spine. The salt made his eyes burn, until it was all he could do not to cry out. He could taste the ocean on his lips. "Let Theon your servant be born again from the sea, as you were," Aeron Greyjoy intoned. "Bless him with salt, bless him with stone, bless him with steel. Nephew, do you still know the words?"

"What is dead may never die," Theon said, remembering.

As with the tree, the seawater is personified and given 'fingers' which touch Theon's forehead and get under his cloak.  In contrast to Bran's touch via tree opening Theon's third eye, the sea water makes Theon's eyes burn, blinding him.  Damphair declares Theon born again from the sea -- but Theon is only truly born again from the tree!  There's a wordplay with 'green sea' and 'green seer' (sea and tree) which vie for Theon's allegiance.  Considering your theory of Theon as the reforging of Ice, it's noteworthy too to consider that Theon drops to his knees beside the ice sheet covering the sacred pool, the very same in which his 'father' Eddard Stark used to clean Ice after an execution. Also, the first thing he asks for in the quote which follows is a sword!  Ultimately, Theon has a greater affinity for ice (frozen water) than he does for the free-flowing kind in which his biological kin enjoy dousing themselves.  Despite everything, Theon recognizes that he is at home in Winterfell.  He says 'I am one of them' alluding to Winterfell's ghosts (which include all the important Starks who are buried there from the Kings of Winter to Lady, as well as the ghostly old god presences of the godswood represented by Bran and Bloodraven).  Elsewhere, he identifies with Theon Stark, whom he calls his 'namesake.'  GRRM plays with the green sea/seer or sea/tree inversion a lot, so when the sea comes to Winterfell with the Ironborn invasion of the north, the forest is frequently described as a deep green sea, making the actual wolves in the forest, their human northerner counterparts, and the Ironborn invaders all 'seawolves.'  In his split identity as the Greyjoy Stark ward, Theon in particular is the grey sea wolf.

Another example of this inversion:  'What is dead may never die'=Bran 'drowned' in the sea of trees and rising harder and stronger.

Theon's name means 'godly,' so his particular choice of religious affiliation going forward is probably going to be important.

Also, with all this mention of 'crowns,' taken in conjunction with his name, it's noteworthy that 'only a goldly man can sit the Seastone chair'!

5 hours ago, Seams said:

“…the Stark pup sends you to me like a well-trained raven, clutching his little message.”

Ravens will be associated with Bran’s third eye. (We will also see trained ravens coming up in Jon II.) So Theon’s association with the Starks seems very strong on many levels.

Agreed.

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Bran III

 We could all be ravens and live in Maester Luwin's rookery.

 

Quote

A Feast for Crows - The Drowned Man

 

Aeron knew some Farwynds, a queer folk who held lands on the westernmost shores of Great Wyk and the scattered isles beyond, rocks so small that most could support but a single household. Of those, the Lonely Light was the most distant, eight days' sail to the northwest amongst rookeries of seals and sea lions and the boundless grey oceans. The Farwynds there were even queerer than the rest. Some said they were skinchangers, unholy creatures who could take on the forms of sea lions, walruses, even spotted whales, the wolves of the wild sea.

Is there room for a seawolf such as Theon in 'Maester Luwin's rookery'?  We have a peppering of multiple northern references here, including 'Farwynds=Far winds.' 'rookeries,' 'skinchangers,' and 'wolves,' reinforcing a possible Ironborn/Stark connection of uncertain significance.  Any ideas?  

I'm wondering if Theon himself has a certain latent First Men aptitude for green-dreaming-seeing.  In order to be 'reached' by a greenseer, surely one has to have a certain reciprocal susceptibility which would imply that one is 'on the same wavelength'?  If not, how would one understand what was being communicated?  

 

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On 8/11/2016 at 1:18 PM, ravenous reader said:

Considering Theon's assertion that he cares nothing for tree gods, it's ironic that he later prays to a tree.  ...

It's canon by now that the tree is indeed the vehicle for Bran's consciousness, eyes, and voice.  Moreover, he makes use of the tree's limbs in order to reach out to the ones he's contacting/comforting.  I like the symbolic imagery of how Theon is helped back to his feet by the weirwood branch (=Bran's arm) on which Theon in his broken state leans; and in the second quote Bran symbolically opens Theon's third eye by gently brushing Theon's forehead with the weirwood leaf (=Bran's hand).  This gesture is also reminiscent of a benediction or baptism, which perhaps reverses Aeron's watery initiation to which it is a mirror:  

As with the tree, the seawater is personified and given 'fingers' which touch Theon's forehead and get under his cloak.  In contrast to Bran's touch via tree opening Theon's third eye, the sea water makes Theon's eyes burn, blinding him.  Damphair declares Theon born again from the sea -- but Theon is only truly born again from the tree!  There's a wordplay with 'green sea' and 'green seer' (sea and tree) which vie for Theon's allegiance.  Considering your theory of Theon as the reforging of Ice, it's noteworthy too to consider that Theon drops to his knees beside the ice sheet covering the sacred pool, the very same in which his 'father' Eddard Stark used to clean Ice after an execution. Also, the first thing he asks for in the quote which follows is a sword!  Ultimately, Theon has a greater affinity for ice (frozen water) than he does for the free-flowing kind in which his biological kin enjoy dousing themselves.  Despite everything, Theon recognizes that he is at home in Winterfell.  He says 'I am one of them' alluding to Winterfell's ghosts (which include all the important Starks who are buried there from the Kings of Winter to Lady, as well as the ghostly old god presences of the godswood represented by Bran and Bloodraven).  Elsewhere, he identifies with Theon Stark, whom he calls his 'namesake.'  GRRM plays with the green sea/seer or sea/tree inversion a lot, so when the sea comes to Winterfell with the Ironborn invasion of the north, the forest is frequently described as a deep green sea, making the actual wolves in the forest, their human northerner counterparts, and the Ironborn invaders all 'seawolves.'  In his split identity as the Greyjoy Stark ward, Theon in particular is the grey sea wolf.

...

Is there room for a seawolf such as Theon in 'Maester Luwin's rookery'?  We have a peppering of multiple northern references here, including 'Farwynds=Far winds.' 'rookeries,' 'skinchangers,' and 'wolves,' reinforcing a possible Ironborn/Stark connection of uncertain significance.  Any ideas?  

I'm wondering if Theon himself has a certain latent First Men aptitude for green-dreaming-seeing.  In order to be 'reached' by a greenseer, surely one has to have a certain reciprocal susceptibility which would imply that one is 'on the same wavelength'?  If not, how would one understand what was being communicated? 

Great insights with excellent citations to back up each point, RR. My kinda comment!

I'll try to respond in ways that keep the focus on direwolf connections. You're doing interesting analysis to build the case for equating the weirwoods' eyes with the direwolves' eyes. Just as a reminder for the folks at home, Julia H. made this point in her Arya II analysis:

Osha told Bran that the Old Gods have no power in the South – so they can’t help his brother – because they have no eyes, i.e. because the weirwood trees have been destroyed. Could it be that Nymeria has found the (only?) place in the South where the Old Gods still keep an eye on their own? Or could the direwolves – Nymeria, Grey Wind, Ghost, Summer, Lady and Shaggydog – be also the Gods’ eyes in some way?

The upcoming interaction between Theon and the Winterfell heart tree could help us to see Theon's status vis-a-vis the Starks in a new way: he did not get one of the six pups when they were discovered in the snow, but in a future book he will begin to have a relationship with the tree (or, possibly, with any tree where Bran is present). Does the tree become Theon's direwolf? Or is Theon the direwolf for the tree?

In my original chapter analysis of Theon I, I should have also included this excerpt in which Theon compares the name of his sister's ship to the name of Robb's wolf:

Theon did not need to be told that Black Wind was Asha's longship. He had not seen his sister in ten years, but that much he knew of her. Odd that she would call it that, when Robb Stark had a wolf named Grey Wind. "Stark is grey and Greyjoy's black," he murmured, smiling, "but it seems we're both windy."

So Robb had been rumored to ride his Grey Wind into battle, and Asha really does ride her Black Wind into battle. Theon does seem to be making explicit here that the Greyjoys and Starks are variations on the same theme; two sides of the same coin. Your Farwynds connection may further strengthen the point.

Of course, there are the other wind references we have noted in the past, with Steffon Baratheon dying on the Windproud and Dany thanking Drogo for giving her the wind when he present her with her beautiful horse, among other winds. I wonder whether the color scheme with grey and black part of a group in Theon's mind is another cyvasse allusion, with Theon and Asha and the Starks ultimately playing on the same side. The other winds might be on the white team for the big cyvasse game that is Westeros. Hmm. Yet another thought: I think ships and boats are supposed to be compared to eggs (along with barrels, pies containing birds, etc.). Is Asha's Black Wind supposed to be compared with Dany's black dragon that hatches from a black egg? Maybe we'll know more about the wind metaphor when the windy new book arrives.

If I'm right about Theon as the personification of the sword Ice, then the ice/eyes pun might explain his unique ability to see things that others don't see. But I like your green sea / greenseer wordplay a lot! (This could also explain why Patchface seems to know so much.)

In further wordplay news, If GRRM does want us to consider "wolf" and "flow" as opposites or as a balancing pair of concepts, Theon may be a key connection between the two concepts, as you point out. The sea will flow over the walls of Winterfell in a future chapter, with this metaphorical sea representing the Ironborn invasion. Maybe Theon is represented by "flow" at that point but then is transformed by his Bolton ordeal and eventually becomes more "wolf."

Maybe we will have more new thoughts about these motifs by the time we reach those future chapters. It's like the excitement of waiting to open wrapped gifts . . .

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