Seams

Intriguing mystery swords

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You know how GRRM drops little hints that foreshadow upcoming plot twists? Don't you love that? I've come across a few references to swords that have piqued my interest or made me wonder whether something might develop around these swords in the future. These are just the ones that come to mind, in relatively raw form.

After that it was back to scrubbing and scurrying and listening at doors. Lord Tywin would soon march on Riverrun, she heard. Or he would drive south to Highgarden, no one would ever expect that. No, he must defend King's Landing, Stannis was the greatest threat. He'd sent Gregor Clegane and Vargo Hoat to destroy Roose Bolton and remove the dagger from his back. He'd sent ravens to the Eyrie, he meant to wed the Lady Lysa Arryn and win the Vale. He'd bought a ton of silver to forge magic swords that would slay the Stark wargs. He was writing Lady Stark to make a peace, the Kingslayer would soon be freed. (ACoK, Arya VII)

This one suggest all kinds of questions and possibilities. Why would Tywin, Lord of the mines at Casterly Rock, need to buy silver? Doesn't he produce silver? Did he really commission special swords for attacking Starks? If so, why would he need a ton of silver? How many swords does that produce? Where are those swords now? Arya was at Harrenhal when she heard all these rumors - was the silver at Harrenhal, too? Were the swords there?

I am conscious that this excerpt from the Arya POV is supposed to convey the kind of gossip she would hear out and about in the castle, and that the substance should be taken with a grain of salt. However, Tywin really was interested in the p.r. value of Stannis' "magic" sword, and wanted Joffrey to have one, too. Maybe he was interested in more than the p.r. value, and recognized that swords can carry special meaning and special powers if they are properly forged.

From the shadows at the back of the hall, Ser Ilyn Payne appeared. The specter at the feast, thought Tyrion as he watched the King's Justice stride forward, gaunt and grim. He had been too young to have known Ser Ilyn before he'd lost his tongue. He would have been a different man in those days, but now the silence is as much a part of him as those hollow eyes, that rusty chainmail shirt, and the greatsword on his back.

Ser Ilyn bowed before the king and queen, reached back over his shoulder, and drew forth six feet of ornate silver bright with runes. He knelt to offer the huge blade to Joffrey, hilt first; points of red fire winked from ruby eyes on the pommel, a chunk of dragonglass carved in the shape of a grinning skull.

Sansa stirred in her seat. "What sword is that?" (Tyrion VIII, Storm)

Sansa is alarmed because she thought Ser Ilyn would be carrying her father's great sword, Ice. She does not yet know that it has been melted down to make Widow's Wail and Oathkeeper.

But the sword that Ser Ilyn is carrying is worth discussing in its own right. Why is it "bright with runes"? Swords represent a lot of things in ASOIAF, and tongues are among those things. This is clearest when Biter is attacking Brienne in AFfC, and she sees his tongue coming out of his mouth but the tongue turns out to be the blade of Gendry's sword, which has gone through the back of Biter's neck and emerged from his mouth. I believe that the runes represent the sword "speaking" for Ser Ilyn, who is unable to do his own talking. Very few things in ASOIAF have runes on them, and they are usually old.

Does Ser Ilyn's silver sword have anything to do with the rumor about Tywin forging silver swords?

This next one is a little different because it uses the term "sword" to refer to a swordsman. But it leaped out at me as one of those GRRM lines that hints at something the speaker or POV doesn't recognize or intend:

Where am I to find a master-at-arms? she wondered as she climbed to her apartments. Having refused Ser Loras, she dare not turn to any of the Kingsguard knights; that would be salt in the wound, certain to anger Highgarden. Ser Tallad? Ser Dermot? There must be someone. Tommen was growing fond of his new sworn shield, but Osney was proving himself less capable than she had hoped in the matter of Maid Margaery, and she had a different office in mind for his brother Osfryd. It was rather a pity that the Hound had gone rabid. Tommen had always been frightened of Sandor Clegane's harsh voice and burned face, and Clegane's scorn would have been the perfect antidote to Loras Tyrell's simpering chivalry.

Aron Santagar was Dornish, Cersei recalled. I could send to Dorne. Centuries of blood and war lay between Sunspear and Highgarden. Yes, a Dornishman might suit my needs admirably. There must be some good swords in Dorne. (Feast, Cersei V)

Cersei is thinking about putting a sword-wielding Dornishman close to her remaining son, the king, as a way of irritating the Tyrell family. Without recognizing that "Sunspear" has greater enmity for the Lannisters than they do for the Tyrells. Great logic.

But I just have this lingering suspicion that there is something important hidden in Dorne. No real proof, but a hidden sword would fit with my hunch.

The cups were carved from driftwood too, no two the same. When Brienne complimented them, he said, "My lady is too kind. All we do is cut and polish the wood. We are blessed here. Where the river meets the bay, the currents and the tides wrestle one against the other, and many strange and wondrous things are pushed toward us, to wash up on our shores. Driftwood is the least of it. We have found silver cups and iron pots, sacks of wool and bolts of silk, rusted helms and shining swords . . . aye, and rubies." (Feast, Brienne VI)

This is at the Quiet Isle, strategically located where anything that gets caught up in the river will wash up on its shores. But here's the thing: Why would the helmets be rusted but the swords be shining? Also, notice that the word "swords" is followed by the word "aye". Because of the pun on "ice" and "eyes," I'm always interested in references to swords and ice/eyes and now, aye. What is the Elder Brother telling the reader here?

I'll be curious if anyone can come up with other suspicious or intriguing references to swords, or theories about the examples in this post. Curled Finger posted an interesting query about finding the named Valyrian steel swords a few months ago. The swords in these excerpts don't seem to be Valyrian steel, although the Quiet Isle swords and Cersei's "good swords in Dorne" could be anything. I understand that Valyrian steel is dark grey, so it doesn't seem as if Tywin or Ser Ilyn's silver swords would be a match.

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Ah Ha!   Elder Brother finds rusted helms and shining swords...interesting that.   Why describe the helms as rusted (as they should be floating around in the river for weeks at a stretch) but the swords as shining as though they never rusted in the same environs?  Seams, that's very good.   I'm not so sure that "aye" can be lumped in with "ice" or "eyes", but the distinction between the states of steel is very interesting.   Now why would that be?   I believe Valyrian Steel is rustproof.  (Oh great, here we go again...)

As to your very interesting find about Sir Illyn's sword...that is a curious thing in that the only piece of steel I can readily recall that has runes is the Royce armor.  We have no description of Lamentation, the lost Royce VS Sword, but it stands to reason that Lamentation would also contain a message in runes.   

Yah, it makes great sense to work backward in replies, fortunately, I am with friends here who understand how excited I get about this stuff.   To your Arya quote.    I thought they mined gold at Casterly Rock.    Taken in whole it does all sound like gossip, still one wonders why silver would make a magic sword.   It's too soft to be sword material.  Why would anyone think the Gold King would need Silver to make magic swords?  Unless that is a simple nod to silver being able to kill werewolves?  Hmmm...

Oh sure and now to the last part...Since we enjoyed our discussions about finding the swords I have been fascinated by persuasive information about Truth possibly being in Dorne.    (I didn't mean to find connections to VS in the majority of your comments, Seams, forgive me).  Then again, there is already legendary Dawn in Dorne.  Perhaps that was a nod to its emergence?  

It's good to have a new perspective on those elusive swords.   Thanks for your always thoughtful post.  I'll be following to see what comes of this.  

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7 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

Ah Ha!   Elder Brother finds rusted helms and shining swords...interesting that.   Why describe the helms as rusted (as they should be floating around in the river for weeks at a stretch) but the swords as shining as though they never rusted in the same environs?  Seams, that's very good.   I'm not so sure that "aye" can be lumped in with "ice" or "eyes", but the distinction between the states of steel is very interesting.   Now why would that be?   I believe Valyrian Steel is rustproof.  (Oh great, here we go again...)

As to your very interesting find about Sir Illyn's sword...that is a curious thing in that the only piece of steel I can readily recall that has runes is the Royce armor.  We have no description of Lamentation, the lost Royce VS Sword, but it stands to reason that Lamentation would also contain a message in runes.   

Yah, it makes great sense to work backward in replies, fortunately, I am with friends here who understand how excited I get about this stuff.   To your Arya quote.    I thought they mined gold at Casterly Rock.    Taken in whole it does all sound like gossip, still one wonders why silver would make a magic sword.   It's too soft to be sword material.  Why would anyone think the Gold King would need Silver to make magic swords?  Unless that is a simple nod to silver being able to kill werewolves?  Hmmm...

Oh sure and now to the last part...Since we enjoyed our discussions about finding the swords I have been fascinated by persuasive information about Truth possibly being in Dorne.    (I didn't mean to find connections to VS in the majority of your comments, Seams, forgive me).  Then again, there is already legendary Dawn in Dorne.  Perhaps that was a nod to its emergence?  

It's good to have a new perspective on those elusive swords.   Thanks for your always thoughtful post.  I'll be following to see what comes of this.  

Hi, C. F. Thanks for commenting. Lucky we haven't exhausted this subject, isn't it?

The Widow of the Waterfront has a dagger with runes on it. I think that might be the only other blade specifically described as having runes. Of course, the crown of the Kings of Winter has nine swords on it and it also bears runes. But no one really knows what the original looked like - Robb Stark's King in the North crown was a new crown made at Riverrun.

One source I read said that both silver and gold come from the Casterly Rock mines. Awhile ago, I theorized that Tywin and Pycelle have been making fake gold and silver, using alchemy. (Based on some vague hints in AWOIAF.) So he would have had to buy "real" silver in order for a "grumpkin to magic up [his] sword," as Mormont would have said.

I like the sword in Dorne theory. I think GRRM has left us more than one hint, and that Truth would be the likely candidate.

 

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Ilyn Payne's "new" sword is interesting.  We don't know if it's made of silver, or Tyrion is just describing it's color/shine.  Was this sword made for him, or was it originally someone else's?  

If it was specially made for Ser Ilyn, it's an odd choice.  The Black Skull with Red eyes does not reflect anything to do with House Payne, and it seem overly decorative for such a simple utilitarian knight.  It also doesn't have any specifically Lannister characteristics.  Do we know if he was using the same sword when he went on the road with Jaime?  It may have just been given to him for "ceremonial" use.

If it was an old sword, what does that mean?  It seems very ornate and specific to just be a random blade given to him.  It wouldn't have been a common soldier's weapon.  So whose was it?  House Lonmouth and House Manwoody both have skull sigils.  The runes and dragonglass could both suggest a house associated with the First Men.  I think the Manwoodys predate the Rhoynar, but they're probably of Andal origin, but there's some potential intrigue there.  Michael Manwoody was married to Princess Elaena Targaryen, so there would have been a Manwoody in the capital who may have had the means (if not the need) to have a very ornate sword.  If that was his sword, showing it off in front of the Dornish entourage which included several Manwoodys is totally a Tywin move.

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Great thread, Seams!

I think Ser Ilyn's sword is one of the most fascinating swords in the series.  I never thought about it being one the silver swords that Tywin was rumored to have made to fight wargs.  I just assumed Tywin made Ilyn the same offer of picking a sword out from Robert's stash that he made to Tyrion.

Going back to the description, it's silver, which might make useful against magical foes if it is true that magic swords can be made from silver.  It has runes, which may also give the sword some sort of magical ability --protective like the Royce armor or perhaps something else entirely.  It also ties the sword to the First Men.    The hilt is made is made from dragonglass and shaped like a skull.  Since skulls symbolize death, a dragonglass skull might be a symbol of bringing death to the Others.  Add that the eyes are rubies, which symbolizes fire, which dismays Others and kills wights.  I think if this sword does not in fact kill Others, then it was an attempt to design a sword that would.  Something that make me think Ilyn's sword would actually be effective against the Others is that I don't think Dragonsteel = Valyrian steel.  The way Ilyn's sword is introduced is as a throwaway sword that is inferior to one made from Valyrian steel.  I think it would be very GRRM to make sword everyone is in awe or mourning the loss of not of much value in the end while the sword no one gives a damn about is one of the swords crucial to saving the world.  

As for any other mysterious swords, what about the ones Jaime and Brienne wield in Jaime's ASOS dream?  Those burn silvery-blue, and just before Jaime notices he has it Tywin says, "I gave you a sword."      

Edited by Harlaw's Book the Sequel
clarification

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After that it was back to scrubbing and scurrying and listening at doors. Lord Tywin would soon march on Riverrun, she heard. Or he would drive south to Highgarden, no one would ever expect that. No, he must defend King's Landing, Stannis was the greatest threat. He'd sent Gregor Clegane and Vargo Hoat to destroy Roose Bolton and remove the dagger from his back. He'd sent ravens to the Eyrie, he meant to wed the Lady Lysa Arryn and win the Vale. He'd bought a ton of silver to forge magic swords that would slay the Stark wargs. He was writing Lady Stark to make a peace, the Kingslayer would soon be freed. (ACoK, Arya VII)

I didn't remember this from reading the books and I've read ACoK several times over the years, so thanks for bring it to our attention.  In this case I take the meaning to be fairly literal.  Tywin is using his gold to buy a ton of silver to literally make silver swords.  Silver is too soft to make a practical and conventional sword but in this case it is being made for the specific purpose of killing wargs, so the metal must have special properties that make it deadly to them.  And I guess the magic would enhance those warg-killing properties and/or make it stronger as a cutting edge.  It may just be a nod to silver being deadly to werewolves and other supernatural creatures in other legends and literature outside of aSoIaF.  Most intriguing. 

 

And then of course it could just be a rumor. 

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OK Seams, I've got nothing new to add, but I did do a little bit of research on silver and obsidian and then ran out of time.  I ran through 5 or 6 metaphysical sites today and found that throughout folklore and mythology silver represents the moon (Long Night, anyone?) and water (Ice?) and is supposed to ward off evil.   Obsidian is supposed to bring the energy of the earth strengthening a body and spirit.  It's supposed to protect from evil.  Maybe nothing at all, but I enjoy GRRM's incorporation of mythology and folklore in our story and wonder how much of this he already knows and meant to be part of the telling.   I forgot your Illyn's sword's red gems were rubies or I could have researched that too, but I think our own little community has come up with plenty of meaning for rubies.   So for Tywin's alleged hoarding silver to make magic swords that would slay wargs this fits at the smallfolk and folklore levels.  It makes sense that they would see silver swords as magical and particularly useful in smoting wargs.    Silver matched with obsidian in Illyn Payne's sword is a double dose of evil warding.  (Of course obsidian was also known as Satan's Claw in the way back of antiquity.)  Wonder why he would need that?  Or is the sword only silver in color and actually shiny steel?  I don't reckon there is anyway to prove or disprove that, but the sword itself with its bitchen obsidian pommel is an excellent study point.   I'll be scratching my head over this for a while.   Maybe we will hear from a rune expert who can tell us what material is more likely to be etched upon.    Just thought all that was fun.   Maybe it will add a little something to your ideas.   

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10 hours ago, CJ McLannister said:

Ilyn Payne's "new" sword is interesting.  ... The Black Skull with Red eyes does not reflect anything to do with House Payne, and it seem overly decorative for such a simple utilitarian knight.  It also doesn't have any specifically Lannister characteristics.  Do we know if he was using the same sword when he went on the road with Jaime?  It may have just been given to him for "ceremonial" use.

...So whose was it?  House Lonmouth and House Manwoody both have skull sigils.  The runes and dragonglass could both suggest a house associated with the First Men. 

 

10 hours ago, Harlaw's Book the Sequel said:

I think Ser Ilyn's sword is one of the most fascinating swords in the series.  I never thought about it being one the silver swords that Tywin was rumored to have made to fight wargs.  I just assumed Tywin made Ilyn the same offer of picking a sword out from Robert's stash that he made to Tyrion.  

Interesting questions and ideas. Before the pie-cutting ritual, Margaery tells Joffrey that Widow's Wail was not made for slicing pies. For literary purposes, that implies that this silver sword was made for slicing pies. If we can figure out the meaning of the pies, maybe the purpose or meaning of the sword will become clearer. (This has had some discussion on the puns ans wordplay thread - I speculated that the pie somehow alludes to the "little birds" who work for Varys, and "slicing pies" is wordplay with "Lysene spies." But I haven't had a complete "Aha!" moment yet regarding pies.)

I had forgotten about Robert's weapon collection. Maybe Ser Ilyn's sword was there - Tywin does seem to make free with other people's swords, doesn't he? I have the feeling that collection was mentioned to underscore the point that Tywin is NOT giving Tyrion a sword. The giving of a sword is so important to the father / son relationship that GRRM had to emphasize that Tywin refused to give one to Tyrion, who is always having to scrounge and find his own armor and weapon. (Except when Penny provides him with Groat's wooden armor and lance.)

I can't help but point out that Ser Ilyn's sword is one of several that fits the words of the Elder Brother: "shining swords . . . aye, and rubies." The eyes ("aye") on the death's head pommel are rubies. (Hmm. Now that I look at it, is that a little Dayne hint? "aye and" = "a Dayne"?)

On my backburner, I still hold out the possibility that Ser Ilyn's rune sword somehow caused Joffrey's death. It seems too coincidental that Tywin would say that Joffrey should bear a sword to match the magic sword Stannis has been showing off, then he says Joffrey needs a "sharp lesson," then this sword is brought out just at the climactic moment of the wedding feast by a man who personifies death, who hands the sword to Joffrey with the death's head aimed right at him. ("Is this a dagger that I see before me, its handle toward my hand?")  Margaery helps Joffrey to cut the pie, so it seems unlikely that there is a contact poison on the hilt. Unless she was warned and is extra careful to keep her hands on top of Joffrey's hands as they hold the sword. The only other thing I can think of is that there is a magic death spell in the runes on the blade that is somehow directed at Joffrey.

10 hours ago, Harlaw's Book the Sequel said:

As for any other mysterious swords, what about the ones Jaime and Brienne wield in Jaime's ASOS dream?  Those burn silvery-blue, and just before Jaime notices he has it Tywin says, "I gave you a sword."      

Dream swords. Interesting to compare these with the 3D "real" swords. Tywin will give Jaime one sword and Jaime will give it to Brienne. In the dream, Jaime and Brienne both have similar swords. The swords both emerge from water, I believe. Do the swords in the water link to Elder Brother's description of swords washing up from the river?

8 hours ago, White Ravens said:

I didn't remember this from reading the books and I've read ACoK several times over the years, so thanks for bring it to our attention.  In this case I take the meaning to be fairly literal.  Tywin is using his gold to buy a ton of silver to literally make silver swords.  Silver is too soft to make a practical and conventional sword but in this case it is being made for the specific purpose of killing wargs, so the metal must have special properties that make it deadly to them.  And I guess the magic would enhance those warg-killing properties and/or make it stronger as a cutting edge.  It may just be a nod to silver being deadly to werewolves and other supernatural creatures in other legends and literature outside of aSoIaF.  Most intriguing. 

And then of course it could just be a rumor. 

I wonder whether Tywin is making the swords at the recommendation of Roose Bolton, or if he knows some things about wargs without having input from north men? I like to think that Tobho Mott is neutral in all the warfare and bloodshed, but maybe he is advising Tywin on defense spending and weapons design. Or is the silver purchase just a rumor? (Hmm. I wonder whether we are supposed to compare the Tywin's ton of silver to Dany's horse, called "my silver." Or to the Targaryen hair color? Tywin always wanted to have a Targaryen heir in the family.)

9 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

... I enjoy GRRM's incorporation of mythology and folklore in our story and wonder how much of this he already knows and meant to be part of the telling.   ...  It makes sense that they would see silver swords as magical and particularly useful in smoting wargs.    Silver matched with obsidian in Illyn Payne's sword is a double dose of evil warding. 

This is fun stuff to enrich the possibilities. I think GRRM has done an excellent job of incorporating these kinds of details in the books.

On the other hand, sometimes he seems to enjoy subverting the folklore. For what it's worth, there is an important Celtic legend about a prophecy that a king's grandsons would kill him. Of course the king tries to avoid the prophecy by ordering that his grandsons be drowned and, of course, one of the grandsons escapes, grows up not knowing his paternity and comes back and slays the grandfather in battle. An ancient and archetypal myth. On another recent thread, Feather Crystal and others have been discussing "inversion" of old story lines. If this Celtic legend is inverted, I think it could support the notion that Tywin killed Joffrey (with Ser Ilyn's help). So it's hard to say how GRRM will delight and surprise us next.

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On ‎8‎/‎3‎/‎2016 at 11:08 PM, Seams said:

 

"After that it was back to scrubbing and scurrying and listening at doors. Lord Tywin would soon march on Riverrun, she heard. Or he would drive south to Highgarden, no one would ever expect that. No, he must defend King's Landing, Stannis was the greatest threat. He'd sent Gregor Clegane and Vargo Hoat to destroy Roose Bolton and remove the dagger from his back. He'd sent ravens to the Eyrie, he meant to wed the Lady Lysa Arryn and win the Vale. He'd bought a ton of silver to forge magic swords that would slay the Stark wargs."

--Interesting point about the "magic swords", even though as you point out they were just rumors it's intriguing that GRRM wrote it that way.  Special swords to slay the starks?  That's interesting on multiple fronts.  Why do you need special swords for this?  How does Tywin know this?  Are they forging the swords out of the silver?  Does this go along with the folk lore that werewolves' weakness is silver?  Very interesting

"The cups were carved from driftwood too, no two the same. When Brienne complimented them, he said, "My lady is too kind. All we do is cut and polish the wood. We are blessed here. Where the river meets the bay, the currents and the tides wrestle one against the other, and many strange and wondrous things are pushed toward us, to wash up on our shores. Driftwood is the least of it. We have found silver cups and iron pots, sacks of wool and bolts of silk, rusted helms and shining swords . . . aye, and rubies." (Feast, Brienne VI)

This is at the Quiet Isle, strategically located where anything that gets caught up in the river will wash up on its shores. But here's the thing: Why would the helmets be rusted but the swords be shining? Also, notice that the word "swords" is followed by the word "aye". Because of the pun on "ice" and "eyes," I'm always interested in references to swords and ice/eyes and now, aye. What is the Elder Brother telling the reader here?"

-- As far as why the helms would be rusted and the swords not... could be anything I guess.  The helms could be made of simple metal which rusts and the swords of silver which doesn't? not sure

I also need you to explain what you mean by the aye/ ice/eyes pun?  I don't see the pun of the significance.  "Aye" was just a word that people used to say, and it's used properly in context.  Not sure there is any significance.

 

 

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The problem with silver swords is that silver is a crap material to make blades out of.  Unless they're just for show.  Or just for killing mystical creatures.  

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1 hour ago, CJ McLannister said:

The problem with silver swords is that silver is a crap material to make blades out of.  Unless they're just for show.  Or just for killing mystical creatures.  

Yes, if you get a chance to travel back in time and enter into the fictional world of Westeros, I hope you will convey this point to Lord Tywin. ;)

But the point is well-taken. I agree with all the comments that a pure silver blade would not be good for a sword fight. But I am unfamiliar with the protocols for killing Stark wargs. We don't know if the silver was used as a coating, as an alloy or if the "blades" were more spikes than swords when they took their final form. If Ser Ilyn's pie-cutting sword was one of the newly-produced swords, maybe the runes carry a magic that give the blade strength that would not be found in the metal alone. Or, as others pointed out, the ton of silver may have been just a rumor.

Of course, Jaime has been using a "gold" sword and gold would make an even worse blade if it were used in its elemental form. His is presumably a thin coating of gold over a harder blade.

GRRM wouldn't tuck this notion into a paragraph like this for no reason, though. it's one of his Agatha Christie clues, and it has to mean something.

I strongly associate silver with the Targaryens, mostly because of their hair color. Maybe we need to look at other things made of silver - a big search on the Search of Ice and Fire site - to see if we can find other associations or indications of the metal's properties.

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I don't know.  I don't think Tywin believes in magic.  I can't see him wasting resources on fancy weapons to kill mythical beasts when he's got an actual war against humans to fight.  And I don't think anything we've seen suggests that killing Wargs is very difficult at all except that throwing them out windows doesn't always work.

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19 minutes ago, CJ McLannister said:

I don't know.  I don't think Tywin believes in magic.  I can't see him wasting resources on fancy weapons to kill mythical beasts when he's got an actual war against humans to fight.  And I don't think anything we've seen suggests that killing Wargs is very difficult at all except that throwing them out windows doesn't always work.

Well I'm o.k. if we have to agree to disagree. I do think that Tywin believes in magic. Maybe we will find out more about the history of wargs from the Citadel or the Boltons at some point.

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Silver has quite a good association with captivity and oppression. Dany is the Silver Queen - queen of slaves - (this cuts both ways - is she going to be redeemer or oppressor?). Sansa wears her silver chains and bracelets when coming under Lannister control. On the map of the world shown to Dany, slaver cities are marked in silver instead of gold like the rest. In the Whispering Wood, Jaime's armour appears silver in the moonlight, shortly before he's captured by Robb. There's more I can't think of at the moment.

I don't know what it means in Tywin's case though, except that he's cooking up a ton of oppression (no change there, then).

Edited by Springwatch
clarity

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Wow, this is a lot more in depth than i thought it would be just by looking at the title.  Interesting reading.

 

I was hoping to find forum thoughts on House Tarly's sword Heartsbane and its implications (if any) with the forging of Lightbringer.

 

 

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For maesters silver is the color of healing/medicine.  Probably because it's naturally antiseptic.  

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I assumed Tywin had given Ilyn Payne the Silver sword as consolation for taking Ice from him. It's all nice and fancy because, well...he took ICE from him. I think the sword being silver is mostly to underline Lannister pride. He wouldn't give him Gold, because "Lannister's are worth more." That kinda thing.

Edited by BricksAndSparrows

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I just found a hidden jewel that I think confirms my theory about Ser Ilyn's sword as the agent of Joffrey's death. After Joffrey's wedding feast, Ser Dontos and Sansa are discussing how Joffrey died and Sansa accuses Ser Dontos of planting the poisoned hair net on her head:

"There was murder in them!"
"Softly, my lady, softly. No murder. He choked on his pigeon pie." Dontos chortled. "Oh, tasty tasty pie. Silver and stones, that's all it was, silver and stone and magic."
The bells were tolling, and the wind was making a noise like he had made as he tried to suck a breath of air. "You poisoned him. You did. You took a stone from my hair . . ."
 
The hairnet was silver with amethysts, so Dontos's description of silver and stones and magic could be a reference to the hair net with the poisoned stone. But I think this is one of those double-meaning lines that GRRM crafts for our entertainment and delight: in addition to the hairnet, the line also describes Ser Ilyn's silver sword with the death's head chunk of dragonstone on the handle and the ruby eyes. After Joffrey's death, Jaime closely questions Tywin about whether magic had been involved in the death of King Joffrey, as it had been in the death of Renly Baratheon. Tywin denies that magic played any role in Joffrey's death.
 
Dontos is a fool, however, and GRRM's fools tend to speak truths that the people around them do not recognize. I'm thinking this is further evidence for the sword theory of Joffrey's death.
 
I'm also thinking about Dontos as an active player in Joffrey's murder. He had a revenge motive . . .

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I'm going to copy and paste here the logic I worked out a few months ago for Tywin as the mastermind of Joffrey's murder. There was another thread on this topic this morning, but it must have been deleted or moved. I keep having to go back and find this post, which was a comment on someone else's long thread, so I think it will be easier if I post it here on the relevant thread.

I think Tywin murdered Joffrey. He did it with a sword. He had help from Ser Ilyn Payne.

This came together in my head this morning after reading several other threads in recent days:

1)      The Black Dog at the Purple Wedding – This discussion led me to wonder why Tywin seemed to be compared to the black dog that sniffs Joffrey’s body immediately after his death, and why Tywin was wearing a glove at a feast.

2)      Eyes / Ice – I have been putting a lot of thought into the sword Ice. Recently, I realized that GRRM probably created an ongoing theme around the pun of “Ice” and “eyes.” The presence of Widow’s Wail at the wedding feast, along with Ser Ilyn, and a re-read of the wedding feast scene this morning made me realize that the Ice / Eyes pun was part of the solution for Joffrey’s murder. This passage juxtaposes the sword Ice with Tywin’s eyes: I should have sent Ice back to Robb Stark, Tyrion thought. He glanced at his father, but Lord Tywin was watching the king. Tywin took possession of the sword Ice. My reading is that Tywin is signaling his role in executing Joffrey here by using his eyes, which are a pun on Ice.

3)      Swords / Words – On that same pun thread in the Eyes / Ice link above, I recently laid out what I believe to be some deliberate wordplay in the books around “swords” and “words.” I noticed that the sword Ser Ilyn hands Joffrey to cut the pie is covered in runes. A sword with words on it. We haven’t seen this before, have we? Is this a special, magic sword? When Tywin shows Tyrion the sword he plans to give Joffrey, he says, “With this fool’s jabber of Stannis and his magic sword, it seemed to me that we had best give Joffrey something extraordinary as well. A king should bear a kingly weapon.” (ASoS, Tyrion IV)

4)      As the OP points out, Ser Garlan’s failure to come to Tyrion’s defense seemed out of character, given his apparently honorable behavior toward Tyrion in other ways. (I realize TheSeason offers an explanation that implicates Ser Garlan as part of the poison plot.) I wondered whether the author was holding Garlan’s eyewitness account in reserve for a scene where Tyrion will be vindicated when he returns to Westeros later in the series. I also wondered whether he might have been told to stay silent by someone who assured him that Tyrion would end up safe, but that the trial had to appear to go toward conviction for some reason. This latter reason intrigued me because it’s what Tywin told Tyrion, if I recall correctly. It might also explain why Shae had been persuaded to testify against Tyrion. (I realize this is a completely separate point of argument, but I believe Shae genuinely cared for Tyrion and that she will be revealed to have been his Desdemona when her motives are revealed to him sometime later in the story.)

So several little circumstantial things, but how does this get me to Tywin as the murderer of Joffrey? Start by going back to the scene where Tywin has just informed the Lannister inner circle about the successful murder of Robb Stark. In the aftermath of the news, Joffrey comes into conflict with Tyrion and is then defiant to his grandfather on an important point of warcraft. Tywin sees Joffrey shaping up to be another Mad King Aerys:

Joffrey sneered. "You're the monster, Uncle."

"Am I?" Tyrion cocked his head. "Perhaps you should speak more softly to me, then. Monsters are dangerous beasts, and just now kings seem to be dying like flies."

"I could have your tongue out for saying that," the boy king said, reddening. "I'm the king." . . .

Cersei put a protective hand on her son's shoulder. "Let the dwarf make all the threats he likes, Joff. I want my lord father and my uncle to see what he is."

Lord Tywin ignored that; it was Joffrey he addressed. "Aerys also felt the need to remind men that he was king. And he was passing fond of ripping tongues out as well. You could ask Ser Ilyn Payne about that, though you'll get no reply."

"Ser Ilyn never dared provoke Aerys the way your Imp provokes Joff," said Cersei. "You heard him. 'Monster' he said. To the King's Grace. And he threatened him . . . "

"Be quiet, Cersei. Joffrey, when your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet. Elsewise no man will ever bend the knee to you. And any man who must say 'I am the king' is no true king at all. Aerys never understood that, but you will. When I've won your war for you, we will restore the king's peace and the king's justice. The only head that need concern you is Margaery Tyrell's maidenhead."

Joffrey had that sullen, sulky look he got. Cersei had him firmly by the shoulder, but perhaps she should have had him by the throat. The boy surprised them all. Instead of scuttling safely back under his rock, Joff drew himself up defiantly and said, "You talk about Aerys, Grandfather, but you were scared of him."

Oh, my, hasn't this gotten interesting? Tyrion thought.

Lord Tywin studied his grandchild in silence, gold flecks shining in his pale green eyes. "Joffrey, apologize to your grandfather," said Cersei.

He wrenched free of her. "Why should I? Everyone knows it's true. My father won all the battles. He killed Prince Rhaegar and took the crown, while your father was hiding under Casterly Rock." The boy gave his grandfather a defiant look. "A strong king acts boldly, he doesn't just talk."

"Thank you for that wisdom, Your Grace," Lord Tywin said, with a courtesy so cold it was like to freeze their ears off. "Ser Kevan, I can see the king is tired. Please see him safely back to his bedchamber. Pycelle, perhaps some gentle potion to help His Grace sleep restfully?"

"Dreamwine, my lord?"

"I don't want any dreamwine," Joffrey insisted.

Lord Tywin would have paid more heed to a mouse squeaking in the corner. "Dreamwine will serve. Cersei, Tyrion, remain."

….

"The boy is thirteen. There is time yet." Lord Tywin paced to the window. That was unlike him; he was more upset than he wished to show. "He requires a sharp lesson."

 (ASoS, Tyrion VI)

In that scene, we have Tywin’s motive: he cannot abide another mad king, particularly one who contradicts him and doesn’t understand recent history. We also have references to Ser Ilyn (who lost his tongue for uttering the truth that Tywin was the power behind the throne), the king’s peace and the king’s justice, helping a kneeling person to get back on his feet, and Joffrey’s duty to deflower Margaery Tyrell (a "sword" allusion). The scene ends with Joffrey being compelled to drink dreamwine at Tywin’s direction. (We later learn from Sansa’s treatment of Sweetrobin at the Eyrie that dreamwine can be dangerous if not taken in moderation, so it’s a kinda-sorta poison.) (My mistake: I was confusing dreamwine with sweetsleep, the potion given to Sweetrobin.)

The sword Tywin gave to Joffrey is the third sword associated with Joffrey in the books: Lion’s Tooth was thrown into the river by Arya; Hearteater was kissed by Sansa before the Battle of the Blackwater (but Joffrey was called inside the Red Keep before he used the sword). At the wedding feast, Joffrey uses Tywin’s gift, Widow’s Wail, to destroy the rare book that Tyrion presented as his gift.

Now I’m not saying the Joffrey is Azor Ahai, but I think GRRM is having some fun with us by letting these three swords go through some of the steps of the Lightbringer story. As we all know, Azor Ahai kept trying to hit on the perfect technique for perfecting his sword, and he plunged the first sword into water, the second sword into a lion and the third sword into his beloved wife. Since Lion’s Tooth is already in a river, that seems to address step one. I believe that Joffrey’s death may represent step two in the pattern, the death of the lion.

But it can’t be the sword, you yell at me through your computer! He was poisoned, you shout at your monitor! It was the wine! No, the pie! No, the sauce on the pie!

My initial thought was that Tywin had coated the hilt of Widow’s Wail with poison. When Joffrey unsheathed it, the somewhat slow-acting poison would be absorbed through his skin and he would drop dead a short while later, without a clear connection between the sword and the death. There was a follow-up on the sword and Tywin, perhaps indicating that Tywin wanted Joffrey to handle the sword a second time, making sure he absorbed a lethal dose:

“Your Grace.” Lord Tywin’s voice was impeccably correct. “They are bringing in the pie. Your sword is needed.”

A poisoned sword hilt might explain the glove that Tywin is wearing when he puts his hand in Cersei’s shoulder after Joff expires. I can’t think of a reason anyone would wear a glove during a meal. But Tywin might have put on a glove in order to move the poison-coated sword somewhere for safekeeping while everyone else was focused on the king’s death.

Using Widow’s Wail to kill Joffrey would also create the kind of nice symmetry that GRRM likes to build into the plot: Ice was used to kill Ned Stark at Joffrey’s command; part of Ice now killed Joffrey. One might say it’s a double-edged sword.

But poisoning the hilt of Widow’s Wail would leave Ser Ilyn out of the death, and I believe he is a necessary ingredient. In fact, GRRM hints twice in the scene that Joffrey’s short-term fate is intertwined with Ser Ilyn:

“That was ill done, Your Grace,” he heard Ser Garlan say quietly.

And

“It’s ill luck not to eat the pie,” he scolded as he filled his mouth with hot spiced pigeon. “See, it’s good.”

So let’s consider the next sword: When Margaery says, “Widow’s Wail was not meant for slicing pies,” Joffrey calls for Ser Ilyn to lend his sword for the pie-cutting ceremony. Ilyn quickly presents Joffrey with this fancy sword featuring a death’s head on the pommel and “six feet of ornate silver bright with runes.”

Does Ilyn’s sword have a poisoned hilt? The pie-cutting is done by the bride and groom together. It’s possible that this hilt was poisoned at Tywin’s direction, and that Tywin doesn’t care whether Margaery is also poisoned, although her death could create a diplomatic crisis.

I think it’s more likely that the runes on the blade carry a magic spell, and that the spell somehow singles out Joffrey alone for death. (Maybe kings die if they touch this sword, but everyone else is safe.) Remember what Tywin told Tyrion about needing to give Joffrey “something extraordinary,” implying a worthwhile sword, in light of the “fool’s jabber” about “Stannis and his magic sword.”  When Joffrey mouthed off to Tywin, though, Grandpa may have decided that the extraordinary thing would be to deploy Ser Ilyn’s magic sword to clear out mad king, Jr. and clear the way for Tommen to ascend to the throne.

When Jaime returns to King’s Landing shortly after the wedding and Joffrey’s death, he and Tywin discuss Tywin’s version of what happened:

Jaime took the chair across from him. "How did Joffrey die?"

"Poison. It was meant to appear as though he choked on a morsel of food, but I had his throat slit open and the maesters could find no obstruction."

"Cersei claims that Tyrion did it."

"Your brother served the king the poisoned wine, with a thousand people looking on."

"That was rather foolish of him."

"I have taken Tyrion's squire into custody. His wife's maids as well. We shall see if they have anything to tell us. Ser Addam's gold cloaks are searching for the Stark girl, and Varys has offered a reward. The king's justice will be done."

The king's justice. "You would execute your own son?"

"He stands accused of regicide and kinslaying. If he is innocent, he has nothing to fear. First we must needs consider the evidence for and against him."

Evidence. In this city of liars, Jaime knew what sort of evidence would be found. "Renly died strangely as well, when Stannis needed him to."

"Lord Renly was murdered by one of his own guards, some woman from Tarth."

"That woman from Tarth is the reason I'm here. I tossed her into a cell to appease Ser Loras, but I'll believe in Renly's ghost before I believe she did him any harm. But Stannis - "

"It was poison that killed Joffrey, not sorcery." Lord Tywin glanced at Jaime's stump again.

(ASoS, Jaime VII)

Jaime is skeptical: He knows Tyrion and his intelligence well enough to know that Tyrion would be unlikely to poison the King in front of a thousand witnesses. Jaime points out that Renly’s death was rumored to have been accomplished with some kind of magic and Tywin rules that out immediately, saying that one of Renly’s guards (Brienne) did it. Jaime knows Brienne, and believes in her innocence, so he continues to press the idea of a magical kinslaying (by Stannis). Tywin rejects the idea again, insisting that Joffrey’s death was by poison, not magic.

There’s a famous line from a famous play featuring a murdered king: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” I think that’s what Tywin is doing here. Too much denial of the magic murder makes me think that Tywin knows there was a magic murder, and that he instigated it.

And then there’s the startling phrase I emphasized in bold face, regarding Tywin having Joffrey’s throat slit. Of course, he’s ostensibly describing a post-mortem examination of the body. But GRRM is so deft at using carefully-constructed phrases that carry more than one meaning. It does sound as if Tywin is confessing to a murder involving slitting Joffrey’s throat. Or, as he said earlier, "He requires a sharp lesson."

Tywin staring at Jaime’s stump may be our last clue: the missing hand is the hand that killed King Aerys. Perhaps Tywin, the Hand of the King, identifies with that missing hand, now that he has also killed a king.

I realize that some people will say this is all symbolic; that Tywin may have wished for Joffrey’s death but there is no proof here that he instigated a murder. And those people may very well be right.

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I think Illyn's sword represents the irony that the crown is prepared for the wrong enemy. Apparently the sword is silver for killing (were)wolves, but the sword is backwards .

We learn earlier in ASOS that dragonglass blades kills the Others. Then it appears in the hilt of Illyn's sword, as an ornament, instead of in the blade, where it would kill the true enemy, which they fail to see. The point is nailed home by Sansa contrasting it to Ice.

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