Black Crow

Heresy 198 The Knight of the Laughing Tree

407 posts in this topic

Warning:  Crackpot Ahead

I wanted to propose an alternative scenario to @Feather Crystal's OP suggestion of Howland being the skinchanger (or at least the "driver" in the KotLT body-for-rent idea - @LynnS's suggestion that Howland might be able to warg amphibious swamp things is a good one and I don't want to discount the notion that he might have these abilities).    That being said, I will admit up front that my proposal is completely unsubstantiated in the text, falls squarely in the category of "wild guess", and can be disproven very easily with a bit of contradicting evidence.

I will theorize that Lyanna Stark, not Howland Reed, was the skinchanger in the KotLT tale.

Lyanna , the girl that rode like a northman, who was "half horse herself".   Lyanna, the girl who understood horses and the relationship between mount and rider. Recall Jaime's comment about jousting skill being mostly horsemanship... meaning, the horse itself - and how it reacts/responds to its rider - is a crucial part of the process.

In the "Howland skinchanges Lyanna" theory, I have trouble seeing how this would work in practice - after all, Lyanna is the girl, not the animal. If Howland skinchanges her, he enters her mind and assumes control of her actions, like we see with Bran inside Hodor. I'm not sure what Howland would gain from this scenario since he isn't the one with the necessary skills to do what needed to be done in the tourney.    Even if he were to successfully enter her, what could he really do?   Would he be able to skillfully joust?  Know the proper way to simultaneously hold a pole and control the reins?  Ride a horse so well that he bests some of the best knights in the land at the greatest tourney of them all?   Let's just say I have doubts.

Next, we could consider the converse possibility of Lyanna skinchanging Howland - Howland could voluntarily allow the "abomination" to transpire and let her take over his physical self so that Lyanna could become the rider, but there are pitfalls to this too (the biggest one being the assumption that Lyanna was a skinchanger, but hey, I said it was crackpotty).    This would entail Lyanna assuming a new human body that is unfamiliar to her and trying to figure out the main controls, so to speak, on the fly.      It took Bran a good bit of practice over a significant period of time to get comfortable manipulating Hodor - Lyanna would not have had this benefit of a slow learning curve with Howland, the guy that she had just met, like, yesterday.



However. There *is* a solution. If Lyanna was the skinchanger (and IMO it's likely that she was) of the two, and she knew that Howland needed/wanted help, what would be the best & easiest route for her to use her abilities? She could skinchange into an animal that she already knew quite well how to occupy.

Consider these quotes:

Quote

"You ride like a northman, milady," Harwin said when he'd drawn them to a halt. "Your aunt was the same. Lady Lyanna. But my father was master of horse, remember." - ASOS 17, Arya

Quote

"[Brandon] loved to ride. His little sister took after him in that. A pair of centaurs, those two." - ADWD 41, The Turncloak

"
Quote

Not even Lord Rickard's daughter could outrace him, and that one was half a horse herself." - ADWD 32

(To emphasize, with help from Wikipedia:   A centaur, or occasionally hippocentaur, is a mythological creature with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse.   Um, hello.)

In other words:

Lyanna became the centaur, "half the horse herself"....she skinchanged the mount for Howland to ride.    She 'became' the horse that would, through both training and instinct, know exactly how to conduct itself even with an inexperienced mount.   Equine Lyanna, the beautiful slim grey mare built for speed, could actually do 90% of the work for Howland as the KotLT without ever leaving her spot in the tourney stands. Howland prayed to the Old Gods for help, and they granted his wish - a fellow worshiper from an ancient northern family who just so happened to have the ability to skillfully warg into the one creature that would serve him best as a mystery knight in a tourney of champions.   A bit of midnight planning in a tent, an opportunistic gathering of ill-fitting armor, perhaps a quick private lesson on the rules of the joust, and a huge risk taken by a little crannogman just back from the Isle of Faces and the wild girl with a touch of the wolf blood....and the Knight of the Laughing Tree was born.

I think this defines the 'twining' aspect of the partnership just as well as one of them physically skinchanging the other, and offers up a nice parallel to the knight of flowers, slim as a reed, using a grey mare - one that happened to be supercharged with her own natural brand of "magic", so to speak - to gain the upper hand on the competition. So, I propose that the mystery KotLT was in fact two people acting as one, a duality that we see thematically book-wide: man/woman, human/beast, bronze/iron, head/heart.

 

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, PrettyPig said:

YES.    I have been speaking to the air for years that Howland didn't accompany his kids to Winterfell and hasn't made an appearance in any Wot5K battles because he CAN'T do these things.   

Somehow, some way, he is unable to leave the Neck:   he is either physically restrained (think Bloodraven in the tree) or he has a guardianship over something very important.  (Or both).  

If he did indeed get some kind of turbo-boost from the Old Gods w/r/t the KotLT (in whatever role he played), it makes me wonder if there was a 'price' to be paid for their intervention...and he's sitting in the Neck paying for it, bound in servitude.

It's a good question.  As for leaving the Neck; I suspect that he was on hand to receive Gared and the Direwolf, if they came through the Black Gate and may have been the one who killed the she-wolf with the antler blade.   Considering that it's Jojen and Meera who see Bran to the other side where another potential green man is waiting to receive them... Coldhands.  Howland appears to be an agent of the Isle of Faces and a green man in his own right.  Perhaps even the horned Lord of his people.

He was at least accessible in some way by Meera and Jojen before coming to Winterfell since Jojen sought his counsel on his green dreams. I'm not sure if this is in person, or by other means and it might be the reason why Jojen eagerlyh asks if Bran has dreamt a lizard lion.  We see a similar conversation between TreeBran and GhostJon.

Meera and Jojen were sent to ensure that Bran lived and made it to the other side; in the same way that I suspect Howland was by Ned's side during the Rebellion; to ensure that Ned lived. 

Edited by LynnS

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Posted (edited)

41 minutes ago, PrettyPig said:

I think this defines the 'twining' aspect of the partnership just as well as one of them physically skinchanging the other, and offers up a nice parallel to the knight of flowers, slim as a reed, using a grey mare - one that happened to be supercharged with her own natural brand of "magic", so to speak - to gain the upper hand on the competition. So, I propose that the mystery KotLT was in fact two people acting as one, a duality that we see thematically book-wide: man/woman, human/beast, bronze/iron, head/heart.

 

Yes, it's possible.  I wonder though if Howland is as helpless as we think.  He spent an entire winter on the Isle of Faces and then shows up at Harrenhall as champion of the old gods.  He went to the Isle of Faces to 'learn more'.  I'm guessing that he received instruction in sword and horse at least; since he later goes to war with Ned, rides a horse and wields a sword throughout the rebellion.  Later he is Meera's master at arms.

Meera's tale seems idealized or sanitized to me.  I don't think Howland just happened to land up haphazardly at the tourney.  I think he was sent with a purpose.  He doesn't show up with the shield or his shirt of bronze scales that he takes with him to the Isle of Faces.  I think the shield was hidden until it was needed.  Lyanna may have helped find the bits and pieces of ill-fitting armor for the ultimate fashion statement, sure to insult; but it's also possible that Howland skin-changed the grey mare himself for added advantage. 

There is also the notion that the KoLT is mocking Aerys and I don't think that is far off the mark.  Considering that Harrenhall is quite significant with it's massive size, hundred hearths, massive weirwood grove and proximity to the God's Eye.  Which the Targs destroyed. 

    

Edited by LynnS

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On 5/10/2017 at 0:40 PM, Black Crow said:

Howland Reed on the other hand has just come from the Isle of Faces and is probably a Green Man dedicated to protecting and serving the trees.

Yes, I think this is difficult to ignore too, especially given the bit from the story that

On 5/9/2017 at 4:29 PM, Black Crow said:

He could talk to trees

And in the context that:

On 5/9/2017 at 4:29 PM, Black Crow said:

“The lad knew the magics of the crannogs,” she continued, “but he wanted more.

...and this is why he went to the Isle of Faces, where he lived all winter.  Because he "wanted more magics." 

Well, that's certainly interesting, since as of Bran's chapters in ADWD, "talking to trees" seems closely connected to magic/skinchanging/weirwoods (and no longer just reminds me of George III).

After that, he's humiliated and burns for vengeance, and, unsure of his next step, he prays toward the Isle... while deciding what to do (never having given the Starks an answer concerning whether or not they should find him some armor). 

And then the Knight shows up with a laughing weirwood sigil?  It sure seems like a coherent story.

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9 hours ago, LynnS said:

They are bog devils... it is known. LOL

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellbender

Vernacular names include "snot otter", "devil dog", "mud-devil", "grampus", "Allegheny alligator", "mud dog", "water dog", and "leverian water newt".[7] The genus name is derived from the Ancient Greek kryptos (hidden) and branchion (gill).[8]

Hmmm. This is interesting. The Hellbender is both predator and prey, and once they find a favorable home they tend to stay there and rarely leave (except to breed and hunt). Sounds familiar. Hmmm, they also do a lot of business under rocks, or piles of rocks ;)

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Posted (edited)

On 5/10/2017 at 3:20 PM, wolfmaid7 said:

This was an interesting tidbit to me to.Not even the Reed kids know.

We can speculate that they've been arguing about it for years (also just like us).

I think it's also worth considering what it means if Howland was not the knight, and Lyanna was, and neither was skinchanging the other. 

It means that this is the sequence:

1. Howland is humiliated by squires, is rescued by eighth-grade girl

2. Howland burns for vengeance but isn't sure what to do

3. Howland decides he doesn't have adequate balls to stick up for himself

4. Instead, he authorizes the eighth-grade girl to represent him, meaning she will risk being maimed or killed, as sometimes happens in a joust and did happen, in AGOT, to Ser Hugh of the Vale.

5. He does this even though he knows she has never in her life jousted against anyone, and will be going up against three knights in a row.  Why her, instead of say, Brandon, the best lance in House Stark?  ...because, well, she is considered quite a skilled rider.

6. The eighth-grade girl miraculously beats the three knights and in contradiction of the actual tale, is found and unmasked by Rhaegar, who then strikes up a sexual and romantic relationship with her and awards her queen of love and beauty to recognize her outstanding courage and nobility and horsemanship.

7. Howland... despite knowing this story reveals him to be completely free of any sort of balls... repeatedly tells his children the story so often they memorize it, thus mastering the concept that their father has no balls, and thus had to rely on an eighth-grade girl, twice, to save him, even though he was a grown man.

I have some trouble with the fact that all this is the default notion over in General... to the point where it's seen as a bedrock certainty.  :D

Edited by JNR

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9 hours ago, PrettyPig said:

Warning:  Crackpot Ahead

I wanted to propose an alternative scenario to @Feather Crystal's OP suggestion of Howland being the skinchanger (or at least the "driver" in the KotLT body-for-rent idea - @LynnS's suggestion that Howland might be able to warg amphibious swamp things is a good one and I don't want to discount the notion that he might have these abilities).    That being said, I will admit up front that my proposal is completely unsubstantiated in the text, falls squarely in the category of "wild guess", and can be disproven very easily with a bit of contradicting evidence.

I will theorize that Lyanna Stark, not Howland Reed, was the skinchanger in the KotLT tale.

Lyanna , the girl that rode like a northman, who was "half horse herself".   Lyanna, the girl who understood horses and the relationship between mount and rider. Recall Jaime's comment about jousting skill being mostly horsemanship... meaning, the horse itself - and how it reacts/responds to its rider - is a crucial part of the process.

In the "Howland skinchanges Lyanna" theory, I have trouble seeing how this would work in practice - after all, Lyanna is the girl, not the animal. If Howland skinchanges her, he enters her mind and assumes control of her actions, like we see with Bran inside Hodor. I'm not sure what Howland would gain from this scenario since he isn't the one with the necessary skills to do what needed to be done in the tourney.    Even if he were to successfully enter her, what could he really do?   Would he be able to skillfully joust?  Know the proper way to simultaneously hold a pole and control the reins?  Ride a horse so well that he bests some of the best knights in the land at the greatest tourney of them all?   Let's just say I have doubts.

Next, we could consider the converse possibility of Lyanna skinchanging Howland - Howland could voluntarily allow the "abomination" to transpire and let her take over his physical self so that Lyanna could become the rider, but there are pitfalls to this too (the biggest one being the assumption that Lyanna was a skinchanger, but hey, I said it was crackpotty).    This would entail Lyanna assuming a new human body that is unfamiliar to her and trying to figure out the main controls, so to speak, on the fly.      It took Bran a good bit of practice over a significant period of time to get comfortable manipulating Hodor - Lyanna would not have had this benefit of a slow learning curve with Howland, the guy that she had just met, like, yesterday.



However. There *is* a solution. If Lyanna was the skinchanger (and IMO it's likely that she was) of the two, and she knew that Howland needed/wanted help, what would be the best & easiest route for her to use her abilities? She could skinchange into an animal that she already knew quite well how to occupy.

Consider these quotes:

"
(To emphasize, with help from Wikipedia:   A centaur, or occasionally hippocentaur, is a mythological creature with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse.   Um, hello.)

In other words:

Lyanna became the centaur, "half the horse herself"....she skinchanged the mount for Howland to ride.    She 'became' the horse that would, through both training and instinct, know exactly how to conduct itself even with an inexperienced mount.   Equine Lyanna, the beautiful slim grey mare built for speed, could actually do 90% of the work for Howland as the KotLT without ever leaving her spot in the tourney stands. Howland prayed to the Old Gods for help, and they granted his wish - a fellow worshiper from an ancient northern family who just so happened to have the ability to skillfully warg into the one creature that would serve him best as a mystery knight in a tourney of champions.   A bit of midnight planning in a tent, an opportunistic gathering of ill-fitting armor, perhaps a quick private lesson on the rules of the joust, and a huge risk taken by a little crannogman just back from the Isle of Faces and the wild girl with a touch of the wolf blood....and the Knight of the Laughing Tree was born.

I think this defines the 'twining' aspect of the partnership just as well as one of them physically skinchanging the other, and offers up a nice parallel to the knight of flowers, slim as a reed, using a grey mare - one that happened to be supercharged with her own natural brand of "magic", so to speak - to gain the upper hand on the competition. So, I propose that the mystery KotLT was in fact two people acting as one, a duality that we see thematically book-wide: man/woman, human/beast, bronze/iron, head/heart.

 

I think your theory does have support in the text, and you've provided the examples. I do like the idea of Lyanna skinchanging the grey mare and it fits the parallel of Bran riding Hodor, but Bran did two things. He rode on Hodor's back like a horse AND he took over control of his body. Bran had to take control of Hodor, because Hodor was terrified and "froze" somewhere deep inside, but maybe that doesn't have to be the case? Maybe there is a way to combine talents and work together?

There's definitely something "more" going on whether Howland was inside Lyanna or Lyanna in the mare. Where did Howland get his booming voice? The old gods were actively involved, and perhaps there even was a third entity intertwined? Was there a greenseer that had been a great knight actively inside Howland? Is that why the shield was painted with a laughing weirwood tree? 

How could any Green Men remain alive from the time of the Pact until the Harrenhal Tourney? Are they all undead like Coldhands? Or are they all greenseers?

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Posted (edited)

Some great stuff! I never even considered that Meera and Jojen don't know either who the KotlT was, I always assumed they were just telling the story how it is supposed to be told (mysterious) and were somewhat teasing Bran in the beginning.

I am not really convinced of the skinchanging but if there was some I would go with the horse over the rider.

One thing I feel is missing from the thread is the significance of Harrenhal itself. It seems to have been built in opposition to the Isle of Faces but has a Heart Tree as well. One Howland could have prayed to, but he chose the Trees he couldn't even see over the one at hand. If we assume that the individual Heart Trees have some character and agency themselves (maybe acquired through who is barried beneath),which is expressed through their faces, the laughing Tree seems to be in direct opposition to the hate Tree of Harrenhal.

Remember that Rickard Stark just chose a descendant of Harrenhal as the wife of his firstborn. (The Tully's are somewhat conspicuous in their absence at the tourney of their biggest bannerman with whom they also have family ties).

The (Tree)gods Howland prayed to in the story seem to exclude the one at Harrenhal:

he knelt on the lakeshore, looking across the water to where the Isle of Faces would be, and said a prayer to the old gods of north and Neck

Of course that could be read as just being the common saying amended with the Neck but it does make me wonder.

 

Edited by Armstark

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Armstark said:

One thing I feel is missing from the thread is the significance of Harrenhal itself. It seems to have been built in opposition to the Isle of Faces but has a Heart Tree as well. One Howland could have prayed to, but he chose the Trees he couldn't even see over the one at hand. If we assume that the individual Heart Trees have some character and agency themselves (maybe acquired through who is barried beneath),which is expressed through their faces, the laughing Tree seems to be in direct opposition to the hate Tree of Harrenhal.

I'm also curious about Harrenhal.  It's a cursed place and according to Hot Pie haunted by ghosts.  In spite of it's ruined state, any Lord of Harrenhal is a wealthy man for the income of it's vasting holdings. 

Harrenhal, that was the seat of kings! – GoT Tyrion IX

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Catelyn I

"Harrenhal." Every child of the Trident knew the tales told of Harrenhal, the vast fortress that King Harren the Black had raised beside the waters of Gods Eye three hundred years past, when the Seven Kingdoms had been seven kingdoms, and the riverlands were ruled by the ironmen from the islands. In his pride, Harren had desired the highest hall and tallest towers in all Westeros. Forty years it had taken, rising like a great shadow on the shore of the lake while Harren's armies plundered his neighbors for stone, lumber, gold, and workers. Thousands of captives died in his quarries, chained to his sledges, or laboring on his five colossal towers. Men froze by winter and sweltered in summer. Weirwoods that had stood three thousand years were cut down for beams and rafters. Harren had beggared the riverlands and the Iron Islands alike to ornament his dream. And when at last Harrenhal stood complete, on the very day King Harren took up residence, Aegon the Conqueror had come ashore at King's Landing.

 

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Arya VII

On the road Arya had felt like a sheep, but Harrenhal turned her into a mouse. She was grey as a mouse in her scratchy wool shift, and like a mouse she kept to the crannies and crevices and dark holes of the castle, scurrying out of the way of the mighty.

Sometimes she thought they were all mice within those thick walls, even the knights and the great lords. The size of the castle made even Gregor Clegane seem small. Harrenhal covered thrice as much ground as Winterfell, and its buildings were so much larger they could scarcely be compared. Its stables housed a thousand horses, its godswood covered twenty acres, its kitchens were as large as Winterfell's Great Hall, and its own great hall, grandly named the Hall of a Hundred Hearths even though it only had thirty and some (Arya had tried to count them, twice, but she came up with thirty-three once and thirty-five the other time) was so cavernous that Lord Tywin could have feasted his entire host, though he never did. Walls, doors, halls, steps, everything was built to an inhuman scale that made Arya remember the stories Old Nan used to tell of the giants who lived beyond the Wall.

 

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Arya VI

Every day they marched, and every night she said her names, until finally the trees thinned and gave way to a patchwork landscape of rolling hills, meandering streams, and sunlit fields, where the husks of burnt holdfasts thrust up black as rotten teeth. It was another long day's march before they glimpsed the towers of Harrenhal in the distance, hard beside the blue waters of the lake.

It would be better once they got to Harrenhal, the captives told each other, but Arya was not so certain. She remembered Old Nan's stories of the castle built on fear. Harren the Black had mixed human blood in the mortar, Nan used to say, dropping her voice so the children would need to lean close to hear, but Aegon's dragons had roasted Harren and all his sons within their great walls of stone. Arya chewed her lip as she walked along on feet grown hard with callus. It would not be much longer, she told herself; those towers could not be more than a few miles off.

 

Pride is the foremost of the seven deadly sins.  In constructing Harrenhal so close to the Isle to Faces,  cutting down the weirwoods, enslaving and beggaring the population, mortaring it's walls with blood; Harren is putting himself above the old gods, mocking them. Until Aegon shows up on the day the construction is completed and burns it to the ground.

So it's a place coveted by greedy, cruel, unscrupulous men for it's riches and holdings, if you can hold on to it.

So given Harrenhal's history,  I guess I'm not surprised that the only remaining weirwood would wear an angry, raging face.  

I also find it curious that Arya says that knight should protect women in particular.  So I think that Howland as the KoLT wasn't defending his honor so much as he was defending Lyanna's in teaching the knights the meaning of honor.  Considering Lyanna's nature, carrying around a tourney sword; mixing it up with some squires; dumping her cup over her brother's head... she must have come under some scruity for her unlady-like behavior.  We have Brienne for an example and in particular Jaime's insults and comments to tell us how Lyanna's behavior would have been received.

Whatever, Rhaegar's motivations for making Lyanna the Queen of Beauty; when all the smiles died; it could be seen as a mockery of Lyanna who doesn't conform to lady-like behavior.  It could be seen as making example of Lyanna in a back-handed manner.  Aerys would certainly have heard of her fight with the squires and he was furious when the KoLT prevailed.

Edited by LynnS

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Posted (edited)

It's also curious that Arya is able to talk to trees as well or perhaps this one tree:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Arya X

For a long moment there was no sound but the wind and the water and the creak of leaf and limb. And then, far far off, beyond the godswood and the haunted towers and the immense stone walls of Harrenhal, from somewhere out in the world, came the long lonely howl of a wolf. Gooseprickles rose on Arya's skin, and for an instant she felt dizzy. Then, so faintly, it seemed as if she heard her father's voice. "When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives," he said.

"But there is no pack," she whispered to the weirwood. Bran and Rickon were dead, the Lannisters had Sansa, Jon had gone to the Wall. "I'm not even me now, I'm Nan."

"You are Arya of Winterfell, daughter of the north. You told me you could be strong. You have the wolf blood in you."

 

 

Edited by LynnS

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13 hours ago, JNR said:

4. Instead, he authorizes the eighth-grade girl to represent him...

...? This premise, and all of the subsequent assumptions proceeding from it, is not really an element of "Lyanna as KoLT" theories--it's not generally an element of any non-Howland theories for the KoLT, save for those that might suggest that he was defended by some unnamed Green Man. Who says Howland had any authority/input in the matter of who was defending him, or that he even knows the identity of his defender?

In the case of either Brandon or Lyanna, the argument would be that the act was impulsive ("wolf's blood"), and for those that suggest Jaime Lannister was the KoLT, Howland's feelings would have been irrelevant. 

Furthermore, I find this whole "Howland...defended by a girl!?!" thing you're doing a bit strange, given what little we've seen and heard of Lyanna; eg, "half a horse," beating on her brothers in Bran's vision. An argument that becomes even more odd when one considers that we're being told this story by the Reeds. Between Jojen and Meera, who is the warrior?
 

5 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

How could any Green Men remain alive from the time of the Pact until the Harrenhal Tourney? Are they all undead like Coldhands? Or are they all greenseers?

My theory is that the Green Men are not just a bunch of men wearing antlers, but something more magical, like the white walkers and shadow assassins; more specifically, I believe that the Green Men are to spring/summer, fertility, and life what the white walkers are to winter, blight, and death--that they're all inspired by Oak King and Holly King mythology.

I'll grant, that's a big leap given how little we actually have to work with when it comes to the Green Men, but I think we've been given hints about the nature of the Green Men through the legends of Garth Greenhand--who shares certain aesthetic attributes with the Green Men (horns/antlers, green skin), and is clearly inspired by real world Green Man and Cernunnos myths.

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Posted (edited)

There are some additional peculiarities in Arya's encounter with Jaqen at this heart tree as well.  Arya extracts an oath from Jaqen concerning her third 'wish':

Quote

 

A Clash of Kings - Arya IX

Shoving her sword through her belt, she slipped down branch to branch until she was back on the ground. The light of the moon painted the limbs of the weirwood silvery white as she made her way toward it, but the five-pointed red leaves turned black by night. Arya stared at the face carved into its trunk. It was a terrible face, its mouth twisted, its eyes flaring and full of hate. Is that what a god looked like? Could gods be hurt, the same as people? I should pray, she thought suddenly.

Arya went to her knees. She wasn't sure how she should begin. She clasped her hands together. Help me, you old gods, she prayed silently. Help me get those men out of the dungeon so we can kill Ser Amory, and bring me home to Winterfell. Make me a water dancer and a wolf and not afraid again, ever.

Was that enough? Maybe she should pray aloud if she wanted the old gods to hear. Maybe she should pray longer. Sometimes her father had prayed a long time, she remembered. But the old gods had never helped him. Remembering that made her angry. "You should have saved him," she scolded the tree. "He prayed to you all the time. I don't care if you help me or not. I don't think you could even if you wanted to."

Gods are not mocked, girl."

The voice startled her. She leapt to her feet and drew her wooden sword. Jaqen H'ghar stood so still in the darkness that he seemed one of the trees. "A man comes to hear a name. One and two and then comes three. A man would have done."

Arya lowered the splintery point toward the ground. "How did you know I was here?"

"A man sees. A man hears. A man knows."

She regarded him suspiciously. Had the gods sent him? "How'd you make the dog kill Weese? Did you call Rorge and Biter up from hell? Is Jaqen H'ghar your true name?"

"Some men have many names. Weasel. Arry. Arya."

She backed away from him, until she was pressed against the heart tree. "Did Gendry tell?"

"A man knows," he said again. "My lady of Stark."

Maybe the gods had sent him in answer to her prayers. "I need you to help me get those men out of the dungeons. That Glover and those others, all of them. We have to kill the guards and open the cell somehow—"

"A girl forgets," he said quietly. "Two she has had, three were owed. If a guard must die, she needs only speak his name."

"But one guard won't be enough, we need to kill them all to open the cell." Arya bit her lip hard to stop from crying. "I want you to save the northmen like I saved you."

He looked down at her pitilessly. "Three lives were snatched from a god. Three lives must be repaid. The gods are not mocked." His voice was silk and steel.

"I never mocked." She thought for a moment. "The name . . . can I name anyone? And you'll kill him?"

Jaqen H'ghar inclined his head. "A man has said."

"Anyone?" she repeated. "A man, a woman, a little baby, or Lord Tywin, or the High Septon, or your father?"

"A man's sire is long dead, but did he live, and did you know his name, he would die at your command."

"Swear it," Arya said. "Swear it by the gods."

"By all the gods of sea and air, and even him of fire, I swear it." He placed a hand in the mouth of the weirwood. "By the seven new gods and the old gods beyond count, I swear it."

He has sworn. "Even if I named the king . . ."

 

 

First, the weirwood tree is shown in the light of the moon with silvery white bark and the leaves are black.  This is direct reference to the House of Black and White and the moon symbolism on it's door.  The leaves like hand are no longer bloody but black and perhaps this is a reference to Coldhands who also extracts an oath from Sam in payment for the lives that are saved.  Coldhands who seems to be a green man and the gatekeeper of the Black Gate; essentially a ghost face hung on a wall.

Arya extracts an oath from Jaqen who seems to bind it by placing his hand in the mouth of the weirwood.  A curious gesture that I take to mean the god's command will be carried out by his hand.  Oddly, we've also seen this occur with Jon when Othor attempts to force his hand into Jon's mouth.  

The charge on the KoLT shield, the laughing tree with a red face. Is this a face painted red, or does it represent the face removed?
 

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Catelyn I

Catelyn had been anointed with the seven oils and named in the rainbow of light that filled the sept of Riverrun. She was of the Faith, like her father and grandfather and his father before him. Her gods had names, and their faces were as familiar as the faces of her parents. Worship was a septon with a censer, the smell of incense, a seven-sided crystal alive with light, voices raised in song. The Tullys kept a godswood, as all the great houses did, but it was only a place to walk or read or lie in the sun. Worship was for the sept.

For her sake, Ned had built a small sept where she might sing to the seven faces of god, but the blood of the First Men still flowed in the veins of the Starks, and his own gods were the old ones, the nameless, faceless gods of the greenwood they shared with the vanished children of the forest.

 

 

To give the HBO show it's due; Melisandre's doesn't resurrect Jon using the kiss of fire; she bathes him in the manner of the faceless men.

"By all the gods of sea and air, and even him of fire, I swear it."

This is also curious.  Jaqen adds "him of fire" in the end but it doesn't seem to be the primary allegiance of the FM.  One wonders if he is talking about R'hllor or Bloodraven or someone else. 

 

 

 

Edited by LynnS

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1 hour ago, Matthew. said:

Who says Howland had any authority/input in the matter of who was defending him, or that he even knows the identity of his defender?

It seems remarkably unlikely that someone would have decided to defend Howland's honor without (a) notifying him or (b) getting his authorization.

If it wasn't Howland, and it wasn't the Starks, it was someone who had no apparent motive, yet knew Howland had issues with the squires.  Who might this be?

Re the Starks, we're told this:

Quote

The wolf maid saw them too, and pointed them out to her brothers. 'I could find you a horse, and some armor that might fit,' the pup offered. The little crannogman thanked him, but gave no answer.

In other words, it doesn't seem to have occurred to the wolf maid or her brothers that one of them might represent Howland.   Because they already knew what the story tells us outright:

Quote

he marked their faces well so he could revenge himself upon them later

The premise is obviously that he wanted to take care of this issue, as the story says, "himself."  It's just natural that a grown man, humiliated as he had been, would not be satisfied with revenge by proxy.

2 hours ago, Matthew. said:

I find this whole "Howland...defended by a girl!?!" thing you're doing a bit strange, given what little we've seen and heard of Lyanna; eg, "half a horse," beating on her brothers in Bran's vision

This is not the case.  We only see her beating her significantly younger and smaller brother Benjen... with a stick:

Quote

Now two children danced across the godswood, hooting at one another as they dueled with broken branches. The girl was the older and taller of the two.

Beating her smaller, younger brother with a stick.. when she herself must also have been prepubescent to remind Bran strongly of Arya... does not correlate in any apparent way with Lyanna riding against knights, in a tourney joust, as an eighth-grade-aged girl.  Which is to say, now going through puberty.

But the larger point is simply that she wouldn't have been remotely as qualified as Brandon.  Much too young, much too inexperienced, and much too likely to get hurt, which wouldn't serve Howland's goals at all and would only make him feel worse.  

Actually, even Ned almost certainly had a huge edge of age, weight, strength, reach, and especially training compared to Lyanna.  If Rickard wouldn't even let Lyanna carry a sword, the odds are zero he would ever have let her train in the joust against anybody.

And this would have been as obvious to Brandon and Ned as it is to me, even if they had decided a Stark would avenge Howland by proxy without even telling Howland, as you suggest.

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2 hours ago, Matthew. said:

My theory is that the Green Men are not just a bunch of men wearing antlers, but something more magical, like the white walkers and shadow assassins; more specifically, I believe that the Green Men are to spring/summer, fertility, and life what the white walkers are to winter, blight, and death--that they're all inspired by Oak King and Holly King mythology.

I'll grant, that's a big leap given how little we actually have to work with when it comes to the Green Men, but I think we've been given hints about the nature of the Green Men through the legends of Garth Greenhand--who shares certain aesthetic attributes with the Green Men (horns/antlers, green skin), and is clearly inspired by real world Green Man and Cernunnos myths.

I agree entirely, but none of that is to prevent the knight being Howland Reed, after all why else [really] would he go to the Isle of Faces if not to be received into the mysteries - and its certainly not something to broadcast afterwards

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, JNR said:

It seems remarkably unlikely that someone would have decided to defend Howland's honor without (a) notifying him or (b) getting his authorization.

Why? I can understand saying that you don't personally think it played out that way, but to suggest it's unimaginable that someone decided to punish the squires without Howland's consent is something I don't agree with. Personal incredulity is a fallacious foundation to ague from in any case, but here specifically, the idea being proposed doesn't seem all that incredible.

In addition, if Lyanna were the mystery knight, she has stronger reasons to hide what she's doing than, say, Brandon or Eddard--for the reasons you cited in your previous post, neither her brothers nor Howland might be too thrilled if she were floating the idea of entering as a jouster to punish the squires. Again, the underlying idea for the theory's proponents seems to be that this is an impulsive act, the "wolfs blood."

Edit: And this is before we get into the many, many permutations of the core premise "Lyanna was the KoLT." Perhaps Howland does play a role in planning the revenge, but doesn't find the outsourcing of the jousting to be especially wounding to his pride; perhaps Howland never formally requests aide from Brandon, so Lyanna and Benjen conspire to take matters into their hands, not content to let the matter lay. 

The point being, if one is inclined, one can imagine many variations of an idea--which is not to say that the idea itself isn't flawed, or doesn't have questions that need to be answered, but the post presented earlier on this page seems to be a deliberate attempt to present a very narrow and specific strawman version of "Lyanna as KoLT," for the express purpose of knocking that strawman down.

5 hours ago, JNR said:

Beating her smaller, younger brother with a stick.. when she herself must also have been prepubescent to remind Bran strongly of Arya... does not correlate in any apparent way with Lyanna riding against knights, in a tourney joust, as an eighth-grade-aged girl.  Which is to say, now going through puberty.

The broader correlation is, that like various other female characters - Arya, Brienne, Asha, Yritte, the female Mormonts, etc. - Lyanna had a degree of martial prowess and competence. Does that mean she would have been a decent jouster? Not necessarily, but the author has a history of writing female warriors, so it shouldn't be ruled out. To some extent, the question here is not "what do we find plausible," but "what does GRRM find plausible?"

Personally, I'd not have had a character of Lyanna's age written as a tourney jouster...but then, I'd not have written a character of Robb's age and experience (even younger than Lyanna was at Harrenhal?) as consistently outmaneuvering Tywin Lannister on the battlefield.

5 hours ago, Black Crow said:

I agree entirely, but none of that is to prevent the knight being Howland Reed, after all why else [really] would he go to the Isle of Faces if not to be received into the mysteries - and its certainly not something to broadcast afterwards

I'm not arguing that Howland isn't the KoLT (that wasn't really what my Green Man tangent was about); personally, I waver back and forth between Howland and Lyanna.

My response to Feather was more about her comment regarding the longevity of the Green Men. As to Howland Reed, if there was some sort of 'price' to be paid for the magics he learned, if he has been called to the Isle of Faces to become a Green Man, I suspect this would be one explanation for his absence in the present narrative--when he finally shows up, we might find his physical appearance quite startling.

Edited by Matthew.

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5 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

 

I'm not arguing that Howland isn't the KoLT (that wasn't really what my Green Man tangent was about); personally, I waver back and forth between Howland and Lyanna.

My response to Feather was more about her comment regarding the longevity of the Green Men. As to Howland Reed, if there was some sort of 'price' to be paid for the magics he learned, if he has been called to the Isle of Faces to become a Green Man, I suspect this would be one explanation for his absence in the present narrative--when he finally shows up, we might find his physical appearance quite startling.

 

I have wavered between them myself, but as I said up-thread its that sigil which is pushing me towards Mr Reed

There is certainly a price to be paid for such affiliations but no hint of a "startling" appearance [I take it you're drawing comparisons with Coldhands?] in the narratives anent whatever really went down at a tower long tumbled.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

There is certainly a price to be paid for such affiliations but no hint of a "startling" appearance [I take it you're drawing comparisons with Coldhands?] in the narratives anent whatever really went down at a tower long tumbled.

To be more clear, I was suggesting that if Howland Reed has become a Green Man, this is something that has happened after Robert's Rebellion, something that has happened perhaps as recently whenever it was that Jojen and Meera were sent to pledge themselves to Bran and bring him to the 3EC; they all had their roles to play, and this is the old gods collecting on the debt they are owed.

As to what a Green Man might actually look like, Coldhands is one possible scenario - and perhaps even foreshadowed in Bran's expectation that he was going to meet a Green Man - but I'm also considering more crackpot scenarios, which is why I raise the proposal that they are like the seasonal opposite of the white walkers. I guess some of this depends on what you believe is happening to Craster's sons--personally, I believe they're being collected and transformed.

Edit: As an alternative, think of the Undying, of Bloodraven, of Beric literally having fire for blood, of what Melisandre might look like if she's under a glamour--it may be the case that prolonged use of/exposure to magic twists the appearance of its users.

Edited by Matthew.

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Posted (edited)

I used to be on board with some sort of Howland - Lyanna skinchanging combo as the source of TKOTLT, but the problem I come back to is neither party was a jouster.  Lyanna may have been an accomplished rider, but that isn't going to translate into being an accomplished jouster.  

Perhaps a slightly more prosaic theory would be that the Order of the Green Men have a number of agents,  Howland being merely their latest trainee being sent out into the world.  (Analogous to Arya being trained by the Faceless Men and sent out as their agent).   Maybe TKOTLT is a hedge knight who serves the Green Men, who was summoned by Howland's prayer to the Old Gods.

I've wondered if we're starting to see more and more of these agents out and about in Westeros.  They could be posing as wandering septons, minstrels and hedge knights (Tom O' Sevenstreams, High Sparrow, Shadrich the mad mouse?).  I'm especially influenced by the image of Tom (who fits the image of a "green man" to a tee) presiding over the hanging of Merrett Frey as he sat on top of the grave of King Mudd.

In fact Sharich seems to be a pretty good possibility to be an agent of the Green Men and our mystery knight.  He has seemingly come out of nowhere on a quest to find Sansa Stark. His choice of sigil perhaps changes based on current events.  

In the Sansa preview chapter for WOW, Shadrich denies any interest in taking part in the tourney to be named one of Sweet Robyn's winged knights.  He mentions how silly it would look for a mouse to have wings.  BC cleverly noted that a mouse with wings is essentially a bat (die fledermaus in German) and wondered if perhaps Shadrich had a connection to Harrenhal.  If so it might be further evidence that Ser Shadrich could have been the mystery knight who shows up at a tourney in Harrenhal to take up the cause of a fellow Green Man.

Edited by Frey family reunion

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Frey family reunion said:

I used to be on board with some sort of Howland - Lyanna skinchanging combo as the source of TKOTLT, but the problem I come back to is neither party was a jouster.  Lyanna may have been an accomplished rider, but that isn't going to translate into being an accomplished jouster.  

Perhaps a slightly more prosaic theory would be that the Order of the Green Men have a number of agents,  Howland being merely their latest trainee being sent out into the world.  (Analogous to Arya being trained by the Faceless Men and sent out as their agent).   Maybe TKOTLT is a hedge knight who serves the Green Men, who was summoned by Howland's prayer to the Old Gods.

I've wondered if we're starting to see more and more of these agents out and about in Westeros.  They could be posing as wandering septons, minstrels and hedge knights (Tom O' Sevenstreams, High Sparrow, Shadrich the mad mouse?).  I'm especially influenced by the image of Tom (who fits the image of a "green man" to a tee) presiding over the hanging of Merrett Frey as he sat on top of the grave of King Mudd.

In fact Sharich seems to be a pretty good possibility to be an agent of the Green Men and our mystery knight.  He has seemingly come out of nowhere on a quest to find Sansa Stark. His choice of sigil perhaps changes based on current events.  

In the Sansa preview chapter for WOW, Shadrich denies any interest in taking part in the tourney to be named one of Sweet Robyn's winged knights.  He mentions how silly it would look for a mouse to have wings.  BC cleverly noted that a mouse with wings is essentially a bat (die fledermaus in German) and wondered if perhaps Shadrich had a connection to Harrenhal.  If so it might be further evidence that Ser Shadrich could have been the mystery knight who shows up at a tourney in Harrenhal to take up the cause of a fellow Green Man.

That's interesting!  It echoes Arya's sentiment that there are knights at Harrenhal who might help her. 

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Arya IV

Arya was remembering the stories Old Nan used to tell of Harrenhal. Evil King Harren had walled himself up inside, so Aegon unleashed his dragons and turned the castle into a pyre. Nan said that fiery spirits still haunted the blackened towers. Sometimes men went to sleep safe in their beds and were found dead in the morning, all burnt up. Arya didn't really believe that, and anyhow it had all happened a long time ago. Hot Pie was being silly; it wouldn't be ghosts at Harrenhal, it would be knights. Arya could reveal herself to Lady Whent, and the knights would escort her home and keep her safe. That was what knights did; they kept you safe, especially women. Maybe Lady Whent would even help the crying girl.

A Clash of Kings - Arya VII

On the road Arya had felt like a sheep, but Harrenhal turned her into a mouse. She was grey as a mouse in her scratchy wool shift, and like a mouse she kept to the crannies and crevices and dark holes of the castle, scurrying out of the way of the mighty.

Sometimes she thought they were all mice within those thick walls, even the knights and the great lords.

 

Perhaps even a secret revival of the Order of the Green Hand.

 

 

 

Edited by LynnS

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Posted (edited)

20 hours ago, Matthew. said:

Why? I can understand saying that you don't personally think it played out that way, but to suggest it's unimaginable that someone decided to punish the squires without Howland's consent is something I don't agree with.

I didn't say it was unimaginable; that's your word.  I said it's unlikely.

The reason the Starks offer to get him armor and a horse is not that they feel some burning need for vengeance; it's that he does.  They are offering to empower him because the squires made him feel weak.  If he lacks the skills or courage to get the vengeance he craves, and somebody else has to stand in for him, that's really not going to make him feel any stronger.  They can surely see that.

So to suggest that one or more of them would not only (1) go to the extraordinary length of jousting against the knights on his behalf, but also (2) do it without even bothering to tell him (or each other, apparently) seems unlikely.  If we add (3) despite having had no training in the joust, (4) no experience jousting other people, and (5) being fourteen years old, things get still more unlikely.

It's still possible, of course, so it's definitely not unimaginable.  Lyanna can't be ruled out as the KotLT any more than Rhaegar can be ruled out as Jon's father.

20 hours ago, Matthew. said:

Lyanna had a degree of martial prowess and competence.

Well, she may have, but there's no evidence of it. 

Bran's vision shows two prepubescent kids whacking each other with sticks, full stop.  We know their age from the fact that Bran (who is that age) thinks Lyanna is Arya (who is also that age).  And the obviously smaller and younger kid is getting his ass kicked.  That's no surprise; before puberty, there's scarcely any difference in strength between boys and girls.  Of course he's getting his ass kicked.

Lyanna also drove the squires away... by notifying them she was Lord Stark's daughter ("that's my father's man you're kicking!!" she roared, about a crannogman) while simultaneously looking exactly like a Stark.  Well, no squire in Westeros with a brain in his head is going to attack the daughter of a great house.  Cersei could have done the same thing while wielding a spoon.

So as far as I can see, we're out of any evidence that she had "martial prowess and competence."  What we know for sure is that while she wanted to carry a sword, her father wouldn't let her, and certainly she never got any training in any weapons.  She appears to me to have been a typical tomboy in this respect.

However, with respect to the idea that Brienne could have beaten male knights in a joust, I don't doubt it for a minute.  She is full-grown, huge, strong, and more important than all that, experienced and trained by a master-at-arms.

So this isn't really about Lyanna being incapable as a girl.  To phrase this another way... if Barristan Selmy or Arthur Dayne were to have zero training, zero experience, and attempt to joust three grown knights as fourteen-year-old eighth-graders, I would expect them to fail horribly too

When Jaime said jousting is mostly about riding skills, I would think he meant all other factors being equal: two knights, one the better rider, and the better rider wins.  He sure wasn't picturing a normal knight vs. one junior high kid with zero background or training in jousting.

And of course this also heavily implies that Howland could not have won either.  Not without cheating... somehow.  :D

Edited by JNR

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