Ckram

A Tyrosh torture device called "valonqar"

49 posts in this topic

Not a new theory around here (see 1 and 2) nor the most compelling one about it, but I thought it deserved its own thread.

This theory is made on the assumption that the meaning that Cersei learned in her childhood to the word “valonqar” is correct, althought it wasn’t the meaning Maggy the Frog had in mind.

Table of contents
1. Valonqar and its role in the books
2. Languages in the Free Cities
3. Maggy’s Valyrian
4. Tyrosh’s valonqar
5. The unnamed torture device from Tyrosh
6. The translation
7. Implications of "valonqar" being a torture device and not a person
8. Three major counterarguments
9. Epilogue

 

1. Valonqar and its role in the books

According to Septa Saranella, "valonqar" is a High Valyrian word meaning "little brother" (AFFC – Cersei IX).

According to Maggy the Frog, “the valonqar” will “wrap his hands” about Cersei's pale white throat and choke the life from her after her children were dead and her tears have drowned her (AFFC – Cersei VIII).

 

2. Languages in the Free Cities

Maester Yandel tells us that each of the Free Cities “has come to have its own tongue”, all of them “corruptions of the original, pure form of High Valyrian, dialects that drift further from their origin with each new century since the Doom befell the Freehold”. (TWOIAF - The Free Cities).

Tyrion Lannister has made an observation of how “what they spoke in the Nine Free Cities […] was not so much a dialect as nine dialects on the way to becoming separate tongues”. (ADWD - Tyrion I)

Those dialects are called “Bastard Valyrian” (AGOT - Daenerys II; ASOS – Daenerys I).

Even though Tyrion learned to read High Valyrian when he was young, he claims that he only “had some Braavosi”, “a smattering of Myrish” and “in Tyrosh he should be able to curse the gods, call a man a cheat, and order up an ale, thanks to a sellsword he had once known at the Rock”. (ADWD - Tyrion I)

So, a person who knows High Valyran doesn't really know any Bastard Valyrian, even the well-educated Tyrion, which brings us to the conclusion that we don't know for sure if “valonqar” has in Tyrosh and the other Free Cities the same meaning it had in Valyria.

 

3. Maggy’s Valyrian

No one knows where Maggy lived before coming to Westeros, we only know that she came from the East with her husband (ASOS – Tyrion III; AFFC – Cersei VIII). Then she could either have in mind the meaning of Valonqar in High Valyrian or in Bastard Valyrian when she said the word.

Anyway, we should note that Maggy speaks the whole prophecy in the common language of Westeros and only "valonqar" is pronounced in foreign language. It seems to me that we have no reason to suspect that Maggy was not fluent in the common tongue.

So, among many alternatives, there are two interpretations that seem the most plausible to me:

  • Maggy was trying to confuse Cersei;
  • Maggy was referring to something that there is not a word in the common tongue of Westeros to name.

 

4. Tyrosh’s valonqar

The only person who pronounced this word besides Cersei and Maggy was a Tyrosh bounty hunter who came to King’s Landing with the head of a dwarf whom he claimed to be Tyrion.

          [...] "I bring you justice. I bring you the head of your valonqar."
          The old Valyrian word sent a chill through her, though it also gave her a tingle of hope. "The Imp is no longer my brother, if he ever was," she declared. "Nor will I say his name. It was a proud name once, before he dishonored it."
          "In Tyrosh we name him Redhands, for the blood running from his fingers. A king's blood, and a father's. Some say he slew his mother too, ripping his way from her womb with savage claws." – (AFFC, Cersei VIII)

Attention should be paid to the fact that: 

  • He said "your" valonqar, while Maggy the Frog said "the" valonqar;
  • He neither confirms nor denies that he meant to say “little brother”;
  • “Valonqar” doesn’t mean “redhands” in Tyrosh’s bastard valyrian.

In this thread, @TheSeason also made the following notes:

  • Nothing indicates that the bounty hunter does not speak the common language of westeros fluently;
  • "Valonqar" is the only foreign word that the bounty hunter uses in his speech;
  • It does appear he is using a loanword to describe something that has no translational counterpart into the Common Tongue (and is not trying to confuse Cersei as Maggy might have done);
  • There's no reason for him to switch to High (or Bastard) Valyrian to say something so quotidian as "little brother;
  • The difference between "your valonqar" and "the valonqar" might indicate a higher context to the word, where the Tyrosh is using it because it is applicable to the situation Cersei is in but still retains some separate connotation (her valonqar being Tyrion, but the valonqar being the figure of infamy first and foremost).

 

5. The unnamed torture device from Tyrosh

Recalling details of Brandon and Rickard Stark's execution, Catelyn explains that Brandon watched his own father get burned while his hands were chained behind his back and his neck was wrapped in “a wet leathern cord attached to a device” that Aerys “had brought from Tyrosh" (ACOK - Catelyn VII). That device strangled him as he advanced to a longsword on the ground in front of him, which ultimately led to his death.

The device name was never mentioned, which is strange, since torture devices often have nicknames.

For instance, the Scavenger's daughter is also known as “cicogna” (stork) in Italian. The cat o' nine tails is commonly shortened to “the cat”, and also known as the "captain's daughter".

In the books we have even had an example of a mortal artifact whose foreign name was not revealed and this wasn’t an obstacle for the Westerosi to give it a name: the poison that killed Cressen and Joffrey. It was called the "Strangler" in the Citadel, although Cressen pointed out that the leaf from which it originated had a different name in Asshai and its crystal had another in Lys. (ACOK - Prologue)

 

6. The translation

It is important to note that this theory does not propose that the word "valonqar" doesn’t literally mean "little brother". Maybe yes, maybe not. What is claimed for certain is that, regardless of the literal meaning, "valonqar" would be the name of the torture device that Aerys brought from Tyrosh and used to kill Brandon Stark.

Having said all this, the proposition of this theory is that Maggy would have claimed that Cersei would die for the same type of instrument that killed Brandon, probably under the same conditions (trying to save a loved one, probably one or both of her children).

In turn, when the Tyrosh bounty hunter referred to Tyrion as "valonqar" he meant that he was bringing "the thing that was torturing her", like "I bring you your stork" would refer to a scavenger's daughter or "I bring you your cat" would refer to a cat o 'nine tails.

EDIT (46 replies later): It is worth mentioning that, ironically, after Cersei concludes that the head in the chest of the Tyrosh is not that of Tyrion, she sends him to Qyburn (ie to be tortured).

[...] House Lannister pays its debts, and so shall you. Ser Meryn, take this fraud to Qyburn."
Ser Meryn Trant took the Tyroshi by the arm and hauled him off, still protesting. [...] (AFFC - Cersei VIII)

 That way, we know that Tyrosh didn't leave the Red Keep but we don't know if he's still alive or will appear again in the books.

 

7. Implications of "valonqar" being a torture device and not a person

If this theory proved to be correct, GRRM would have actually confused both Cersei and the readers and could lead Cersei to a much gruesome death rather than a simple strangulation, which if performed by a man would sound like a common death in domestic violence (especially if performed by Jaime).

On the other hand, there would be a sense of full circle and retribution for all the tortures to which she has subjected "innocent" people. Although in the current state of things it is hard to see a context in which Cersei's death under torture would seem credible, there is room for this to happen as a result of her judgment by the Faith or by Lady Stone Heart's gang.

And since there are several comparisons between Cersei and Aerys, it would look capricious if she were killed in the manner in which Brandon's death would be avenged on Aerys.

 

8. Three major counterarguments

Spoiler

1 – Red Herring

If Maggy the frog and the Tyrosh bounty hunter were both refering to some "Bastard Valyrian" meaning of valonqar, it may be that the Tyrosh was speaking Tyrosh's Valyrian Bastard while Maggy was speaking the Bastard Valyrian of any of the other Free Cities.

In this case, even if the torture device were called valonqar in Tyrosh, that wouldn’t be what Maggy was referring to. Thus, the Tyrosh would just be another red herring on the meaning of the word.

2 – Myrish valonqar

When Cersei told Taena about Maggy's prophecy, Taena did not dispute the meaning that Septa Saranella gave to the word, nor did she propose another meaning based on the Bastard Valyrian of Myr.

In fact, there was even a hint that the word might have something to do with the fact that Joanna Lannister had died giving birth to Tyrion, the valonqar in question, as seen in the bolded part of the quote below.

          "Tyrion is the valonqar," she said. "Do you use that word in Myr? It's High Valyrian, it means little brother." She had asked Septa Saranella about the word, after Melara drowned.
          Taena took her hand and stroked it. "This was a hateful woman, old and sick and ugly. You were young and beautiful, full of life and pride. She lived in Lannisport, you said, so she would have known of the dwarf and how he killed your lady mother. This creature dared not strike you, because of who you were, so she sought to wound you with her viper's tongue." – (AFFC, Cersei IX)

3 – Almost everything said in this thread.

 

9. Epilogue 

“Say hello to my little brother” – Qyburn Montana

Edited by Ckram

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Yup it literally just means little brother. I never thought it to mean Tyrion either but that is just my sense of the book

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Nice! I've never seen this theory. I was absent from the forums for some time. 

First thing that popped into my head: Why or how does the Tyroshi bounty hunter know Cersei refers to Tyrion as valonqar? Surely Cersei doesn't announce it. 

I'm going to go back & read the first 2 threads because I think you might be on to something here! 

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A couple more thoughts. I have argued before that the valonqar is someone already mentioned in Maggy's prophecy (i.e. either the king she would marry or the younger, more beautiful one to cast her down) because of the 'the' valonqar & not your valonqar. Obviously it isn't the King she marries & we always think the younger more beautiful one is a queen but Maggy doesn't say that. She just says Cersei will be queen until there comes  "another, younger & more beautiful, to cast you down & take all you hold dear." 

But it fits for this too. I'm of the opinion that it must mean something other than little brother else why not just say little brother? Cersei would come to the exact same conclusion she did with valonqar. Also people always throw out alot of different names the valonqar could be (Sandor, Arya, Jaime, Tyrion, Tommen etc) but saying "the" valonqar implies this is the name or title of said person (if it were a person) & thus far we have no one titled or even known as "The little brother" it cannot be so random as to mean any little brother I wouldn't think. If this were a person they would have to have a "little brother" connection to Cersei. I like this theory because it makes sense of all of that. It makes sense to say "The Valonqar" if she is talking about a device named or known as Valonqar & it makes sense then why Maggy didn't say "little brother" 

   

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19 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Why or how does the Tyroshi bounty hunter know Cersei refers to Tyrion as valonqar? Surely Cersei doesn't announce it.

He didn't know. Here's the point: he said it spontaneously, out of the blue.

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25 minutes ago, Ckram said:

He didn't know. Here's the point: he said it spontaneously, out of the blue.

Right. That's the point I was making. He almost couldn't have known about him Cersei referring to Tyrion as the valonqar & he certainly does know about the prophecy. 

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I like this idea a lot.

It's much like someone avoiding black cats because a fortune teller told them "the black cat" would kill them, only for them to be the first victim of a serial killer later dubbed by the press, "The Black Cat" ... or something. However, in this case, the killer is just called Bob and "The Black Cat" is merely the nickname the killer gives to the dagger he kills his victims with.

Either way, this is certainly an interesting theory and a great twist on a prophecy that has been eating away at our Mad Queen since childhood. The twist would be very suitable as it means no one is really the "little brother" - it is just an instrument to choke the life out of Cersei.

Edited by Faera

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4 hours ago, Ckram said:

5. The unnamed torture device from Tyrosh

Recalling details of Brandon and Rickard Stark's execution, Catelyn explains that Brandon watched his own father get burned while his hands were tied around his back and his neck was wrapped in “a wet leathern cord attached to a device” that Aerys “had brought from Tyrosh" (ACOK - Catelyn VII). That device strangled him as he advanced to a longsword on the ground in front of him, which ultimately led to his death.

The device name was never mentioned, which is strange, since torture devices often have nicknames.

...

6. The translation

It is important to note that this theory does not propose that the word "valonqar" doesn’t literally mean "little brother". Maybe yes, maybe not. What is claimed for certain is that, regardless of the literal meaning, "valonqar" would be the name of the torture device that Aerys brought from Tyrosh and used to kill Brandon Stark.

...

7. Implications of "valonqar" being a torture device and not a person

And since there are several comparisons between her and Aerys, it would look capricious if she were killed in the manner in which Brandon's death would be avenged on Aerys.

Great insight! If Brandon's death is like the death predicted for Cersei, there could be a lot of other parallels - symbolic and otherwise.

First, I would examine whether Brandon has a younger brother, and whether that person might be implicated in his death. Donchaknow - he has two younger brothers! We never found out who told Brandon that Rhaegar had kidnapped his sister. Maybe Ned or Benjen got him to run down to King's Landing in a state of anger. Maybe his blood, Rickard Stark's blood and the blood of all those northern bannermen who died with them is on the hands of a younger Stark brother who got Brandon to publicly accuse the crown prince of kidnapping and rape.

I'm still also intrigued by possible parallels to the deaths of Shae and Tywin. Tyrion wraps his hands around Shae's throat because he uses the gold chain of the Hand of the King to strangle her. I have had a suspicion for some time that Shae has a secret past, and I think she might be a bastard daughter of Tywin. No real evidence, I admit. But it would fit the Lannister pattern if Tyrion had fallen in love with his sister. And it would be similar to Brandon's death if Shae's father died at about the same time that Shae did.

There are some other significant little brothers who might be linked to this pattern. Catelyn's little brother, Edmure, is forced to stand with his head in a noose, day after day, until his uncle surrenders Riverrun. He doesn't have hands wrapped around his neck, but "A foot of hemp still dangled from the noose about his neck" (AFFC, Jaime VI). So a foot or feet instead of hands, as in the Valonqar prophecy.

Vargo Hoat has a similar outcome, fwiw: "Jaime would have known his beard anywhere; an absurd rope of hair two feet long, dangling from a pointed chin. Elsewise, only a few leathery strips of flesh still clung to the Qohorik's skull" (AFFC, Jaime III). He even shares the leather strips with Brandon Stark. Vargo Hoat shares goat imagery with Tyrion and with Penny's brother, Groat. Could he be another little brother? But I digress.

Also interesting is that Brandon Stark was reaching for his longsword, and that is what killed him. We don't know that the sword was Ice, but it could have been. It might be that the author wants us to think about Ice in this context, where Aerys has named fire as the champion of House Targaryen. Robb Stark dies not long after he "reaches" for Ice - demanding that the Lannisters return the sword to him at Riverrun. Joffrey also dies not long after reaching for a piece of Ice, in the form of the sword Widow's Wail. Even more proximate to his death is Ser Ilyn's sword, the mysterious silver sword covered with runes. Ser Ilyn was the last person to use Ice before it was reforged.

And that may raise another interesting question about the words used by Maggie the Frog: "cast you down." Casting is something that a smith does with melted metal. I suspect Cersei will be killed by a smith - a person associated with that imagery. It is an essential detail of the books that Jaime was responsible for specifying the details of the design for, and obtaining, his own gold hand. (I can't believe the show didn't recognize the importance of getting that right.) Hands of gold are always cold but a woman's hands are warm.

Edit: I almost forgot that Tywin's little brother Gerion Lannister might be part of the  pattern, too. Was he reaching for the family's longsword when he went to Vayria and disappeared?

Also, a possible wordplay clue: Tyrosh = shorty? Tyrion is noted for being rather short.

Edited by Seams

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6 hours ago, Ckram said:

According to Septan Saranella, "valonqar" is a High Valyrian word meaning "little brother" (AFFC – Cersei IX).

I like your theory.  It's significant that GRRM defines 'valonqar' as 'little' rather than 'younger' brother, so he can indulge the full gamut of wordplay options -- accordingly, someone such as Tyrion or Littlefinger may be included as valonqar candidates on account of their 'little' physical and seemingly unassuming social stature, the latter also on account of his name!

6 hours ago, Ckram said:

There's no reason for him to switch to High (or Bastard) Valyrian to say something so quotidian as "little brother

Sometimes, the 'reason' is as simple as GRRM's wish to ratchet up the suspense, remain elusive, and keep his options open!  He is a crafty one, a bit of a 'Robert Frost'...forever putting up walls against the reader whilst simultaneously threatening to tear them down...  From this perspective, the 'valonqar' is a wall deliberately erected to keep us in the dark.

6 hours ago, Ckram said:

That device strangled him as he advanced to a longsword on the ground in front of him, which ultimately led to his death.

There is a curious correlation to this configuration in the Prologue, with Will being killed (strangled) by wighted Waymar, as Will reaches for the magicked-up, lightning-struck longsword which is compared to a shattered tree...THE PLOT THICKENS :P

Together with other posters, most notably @Unchained (see his wordpress page: https://asoiafunchained.wordpress.com/essays/story-within-the-story-the-beginning/), we have discovered a two-step ritualized duel which GRRM repeats ad nauseum (the secret to 'solving' GRRM is to answer the question, not as to 'what' he is repeating, but 'why' he is repeating it -- thus far, I have no convincing answer, besides being able to recognise that he's doing it):

1.  In 'round one' of the duel, the 'storm god' archetype 'drowns' his rival (often a 'brother' of one kind or another) in a deluge via a kind of 'hammer of the waters'.  Unchained has referred to these competitors as the 'big brother' and 'little brother,' respectively.

2.  In 'round two' of the duel, the defeated 'little brother,' despite his apparently mortal wounds, inexplicably rises against all odds, to fight again, and gets his revenge by strangling the 'big brother'.  The magically transformed 'little brother' is 'the drowned god' who rises 'harder and stronger'.  Some people call him 'Azor Ahai Reborn' (the 'big brother' would be 'Azor Ahai' and the sword for which he reached in his hubris is 'Lightbringer').

In terms of Brandon, I believe Littlefinger spread the malicious rumor which ended up getting Brandon killed -- an assertion for which I have ABSOLUTELY NO SOLID EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER, only 'symbolic intuition,' ha ha!  See the intriguing discussion around these speculations on @Angel Eyes' thread 'Teen Littlefinger's Uriah Gambit'.  The 'beauty' of the Tyroshi strangulation device is that it kills indirectly, i.e. by the actions of the victim induced into strangling himself by his very constitution.  Analogously, Littlefinger frequently kills people indirectly by manipulating their weaknesses (and their strengths, for that matter, which he turns into weaknesses) -- very sadistic.  The Tyroshi torture device ought to be viewed as a disembodied hand -- representing the manipulation (which comes from the Latin word 'manus' = 'hand') of an unseen player.

 

2 hours ago, Seams said:

There are some other significant little brothers who might be linked to this pattern. Catelyn's little brother, Edmure, is forced to stand with his head in a noose, day after day, until his uncle surrenders Riverrun. He doesn't have hands wrapped around his neck, but "A foot of hemp still dangled from the noose about his neck" (AFFC, Jaime VI). So a foot or feet instead of hands, as in the Valonqar prophecy.

Interestingly, Jaime was tethered to Cersei's foot by his right (dominant) hand, I'm presuming, on emerging from the womb -- might be significant!

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Eddard XII

"Your brother?" Ned said. "Or your lover?"

"Both." She did not flinch from the truth. "Since we were children together. And why not? The Targaryens wed brother to sister for three hundred years, to keep the bloodlines pure. And Jaime and I are more than brother and sister. We are one person in two bodies. We shared a womb together. He came into this world holding my foot, our old maester said. When he is in me, I feel … whole." The ghost of a smile flitted over her lips.

"My son Bran …"

Quote
"Oh, an angry cripple. How terrifying." She laughed. "A pity Lord Tywin Lannister never had a son. I could have been the heir he wanted, but I lacked the cock. And speaking of such, best tuck yours away, brother. It looks rather sad and small, hanging from your breeches like that."
When she was gone Jaime took her advice, fumbling one-handed at his laces. He felt a bone-deep ache in his phantom fingers. I've lost a hand, a father, a son, a sister, and a lover, and soon enough I will lose a brother. And yet they keep telling me House Lannister won this war.
 
ASOS - Jaime IX

Perhaps 'valonqar' is the Valyrian word for the younger twin, i.e. 'twin B'.

Perhaps Jaime and/or Cersei are 'secret Targs', hence the Valyrian...

Even more outrageous -- perhaps Bran is the valonqar (the 'angry cripple' whom Cersei arguably crippled, albeit using Jaime as her swordhand).  By this analogy, in 'round one' of the duel Cersei is the 'storm god' who vanquished Bran, who subsequently 'rises from the dead' (= 'the drowned god') to take revenge on those who have wronged him.  According to @evita mgfs's superb find, Jaime's prescient instruction to Bran in that critical threshold moment at the windowsill, 'TAKE MY HAND', ended up backfiring on him in a weird karmic retribution or GRRM's poetic justice, whatever you may call it.  So now, the tables are turned and Jaime is Bran's instrument or swordhand, with Bran having figuratively 'taken his hand' as per ironic instruction.  Lending credence to this theory, shortly before Jaime loses his hand he is taken captive in the 'whispering wood' ... (this screams -- sorry, 'whispers' Bran )... and moreover has been 'framed by the trees' (a double meaning) in that beautiful passage in which Cat glimpses Jaime undergoing what I've termed an 'Otherization'.  The 'red' of his coat turns to 'black' and the 'gold' of his hair turns to 'silver' -- these are the colors of the weirwood at night, or more specifically in the moonlight, so, in short, Jaime is an inverse weirwood and has been co-opted as one of the trees.  Thereafter, he becomes more receptive to the calling of the old gods, e.g. weirwood dream as case in point.  In that same passage I referenced, sneaky GRRM even inserts the line about Jaime, 'Others followed [him]...' which might allude to the Others with Jaime as an emerging leader in the ultimate war for the Dawn.  In any case, Jaime's trajectory after having his hand severed entails a concomitant severance from Cersei's influence, with a gravitation towards the side of her enemies.  I predict this 'redemption arc' will involve making reparations on some level with Bran, the boy he once harmed out of love for Cersei -- 'the things I do for love' -- an act he carried out with 'loathing':

Quote

The man looked over at the woman. "The things I do for love," he said with loathing. He gave Bran a shove.

AGOT - Bran II

 

Consider that Cat has another 'little brother' besides Edmure:

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Eddard IV

"I told Petyr our suspicions about Jon Arryn's death," Catelyn said. "He has promised to help you find the truth."

That was not news that Eddard Stark welcomed, but it was true enough that they needed help, and Littlefinger had been almost a brother to Cat once. It would not be the first time that Ned had been forced to make common cause with a man he despised. "Very well," he said, thrusting the dagger into his belt. "You spoke of Varys. Does the eunuch know all of it?"

"Not from my lips," Catelyn said. "You did not wed a fool, Eddard Stark. But Varys has ways of learning things that no man could know. He has some dark art, Ned, I swear it."

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Catelyn IV

Ser Rodrik cleared his throat. "Lord Baelish once, ah …" His thought trailed off uncertainly in search of the polite word.

Catelyn was past delicacy. "He was my father's ward. We grew up together in Riverrun. I thought of him as a brother, but his feelings for me were … more than brotherly. When it was announced that I was to wed Brandon Stark, Petyr challenged for the right to my hand. It was madness. Brandon was twenty, Petyr scarcely fifteen. I had to beg Brandon to spare Petyr's life. He let him off with a scar. Afterward my father sent him away. I have not seen him since." She lifted her face to the spray, as if the brisk wind could blow the memories away. "He wrote to me at Riverrun after Brandon was killed, but I burned the letter unread. By then I knew that Ned would marry me in his brother's place."

 

2 hours ago, Seams said:

First, I would examine whether Brandon has a younger brother, and whether that person might be implicated in his death

Had Cat married Brandon, to whom she was betrothed, Brandon would have been Littlefinger's 'brother-in-law,' or as @Crowfood's Daughter has pointed out a 'goodbrother' (which is sometimes a 'bad brother'!) from a certain point of view.

In the two-step duel, as outlined by @Unchainedthe 'first round' is a drowning (Petyr was defeated by Brandon at the water stair, after Brandon 'rained down' steel blows on him, almost 'drowning' him in his own blood -- it's an example of your 'wolf/flow' wordplay with Brandon and Petyr representing the 'wolf' and 'flow,' respectively):

Quote

"He is only a foolish boy, but I have loved him like a brother. It would grieve me to see him die." And her betrothed looked at her with the cool grey eyes of a Stark and promised to spare the boy who loved her.

That fight was over almost as soon as it began. Brandon was a man grown, and he drove Littlefinger all the way across the bailey and down the water stair, raining steel on him with every step, until the boy was staggering and bleeding from a dozen wounds. "Yield!" he called, more than once, but Petyr would only shake his head and fight on, grimly. When the river was lapping at their ankles, Brandon finally ended it, with a brutal backhand cut that bit through Petyr's rings and leather into the soft flesh below the ribs, so deep that Catelyn was certain that the wound was mortal. He looked at her as he fell and murmured "Cat" as the bright blood came flowing out between his mailed fingers. She thought she had forgotten that.

That was the last time she had seen his face … until the day she was brought before him in King's Landing.

AGOT - Catelyn VII

That last line almost sounds like a reckoning -- Cat is 'brought before him' for judgment.  Indeed, the 'second round' of the duel involves Petyr strangling (vicariously and by proxy) the life out of those he perceives have wronged him.  Fittingly, both Cat and Ned are decapitated, arguably as a consequence of Littlefinger's malice (to add to your thread, there is no difference between decapitation and strangling symbolically-speaking -- they are both head-neck wounds which target the brain and tongue, effectively silencing someone forever.  The aim is to snuff out someone else's words and replace them with ones own -- this is the 'little brother's' game).

2 hours ago, Seams said:

And that may raise another interesting question about the words used by Maggie the Frog: "cast you down." Casting is something that a smith does with melted metal.

Nice association.

Quote

I suspect Cersei will be killed by a smith - a person associated with that imagery.

I agree.  Essentially, I'd expect a recapitulation of the 'Lightbringer ritual' -- Azor Ahai was first and foremost a smith.

Quote

It is an essential detail of the books that Jaime was responsible for specifying the details of the design for, and obtaining, his own gold hand. (I can't believe the show didn't recognize the importance of getting that right.)

At least he got Brienne's armor measurements right (he took a good look in the bathtub)!

Quote

Hands of gold are always cold but a woman's hands are warm.

Have you seen this Oscar Wilde poem?

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
And murdered in her bed.
 
He walked amongst the Trial Men
In a suit of shabby grey;
A cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.
 
I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.
 
I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
"That fellow’s got to swing."
 
Dear Christ! the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel.
 
I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved
And so he had to die.
 
Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
 
Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold

 

Edited by ravenous reader

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An interesting take, and one I never considered. The personification of valonqar in the prophecy gives me some pause, though. Maegi Spicer says "wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you," which (as you admitted) does read like domestic violence in some way. To make such a curious twist, though, we would need many more clues, for people to get it and not feel cheated, I think, but I don't think sufficient background is there yet.

Also, if "valonqar" really is a loanword (from High/Vulgar Valyrian to Common Tongue) with a specific cultural or contextual meaning, I'm not certain how likely it is that its meaning would drift so much in the daughter cultures of Valyria, that each Free City might have a different meaning of or use for the word (and is that really how dialects form, anyway? It sounds backwards to me--like a dialect should emerge from diversifying evolution, from various cultural influences, perhaps, so they might use different words to mean the same thing, e.g. "ale," but don't develop different meanings from a word like valonqar with a rich cultural or mythology context and therefore a very firm/standardized meaning.). Are the kind of words that are likely to become loanwords as fluid in evolution as other kinds of words? That is, is a word like "valonqar" (if the assumption is taken as truth) rightfully fitting into the same category as a word like "beer" or "ale" (a word Tyrion suggests might be different from one Free City to the next)? I'm not very familiar with how languages evolve, so maybe you could explain how likely a loanword-type of word (e.g., valonqar) is to evolve whilst still maintaining that specific original context or subtext. It's seems that the loanword-type of word would be farther down a dialect evolutionary tree (a root word rather than a branch word, if you know what I mean). Like the regional dialects (of the U.S.)--is it "soda" or "pop" or "sodapop" or "fizz(y)" or "cola/Coke," you know (for comparison to Tyrion's "ale")? Those words feel very different to "umami" or "matcha" or "Pyrrhic" or "schadenfreude" or "hoi polloi" or "kitschy" or "faux pas" or "Kindergarten" or "zeitgeist" or "aficionado."  :huh:

Ah, just thinking out loud. That's a very different problem to one Free City slapping a word with an already firm meaning (loanword-type "valonqar") onto a spiffy new torture device that fits that cultural/contextual meaning in some way. 

Still, an interesting turn of thought to consider, and quite fun. Thanks for sharing! :cheers:

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6 hours ago, Faera said:

However, in this case, the killer is just called Bob and "The Black Cat" is merely the nickname the killer gives to the dagger he kills his victims with.

I think it would be more appropriate to say that, in this case, "The Black Cat" is the name people call daggers in the place where that dagger was forged.^_^

4 hours ago, Seams said:

Also interesting is that Brandon Stark was reaching for his longsword, and that is what killed him. We don't know that the sword was Ice, but it could have been. It might be that the author wants us to think about Ice in this context, where Aerys has named fire as the champion of House Targaryen.

In fact, Ice's whereabouts during Robert's Rebellion is not commented on, but I guess that's a sign that he was in his usual place, Winterfell.

If Ice had been in Aerys' possession during the rebellion, Ned probably would have told the story of how he recovered it during the sacking of King's Landing. Or at least someone would have commented after Ned's execution that this was not the first time Ice was lost at King's Landing.

Otherwise, Martin would be an overly elusive writer; unduly negligent with a relevant symbology that gives name to the series.

2 hours ago, ravenous reader said:

It's significant that GRRM defines 'valonqar' as 'little' rather than 'younger' brother, so he can indulge the full gamut of wordplay options -- accordingly, someone such as Tyrion or Littlefinger may be included as valonqar candidates on account of their 'little' physical and seemingly unassuming social stature, the latter also on account of his name!

But little brother is also intentionally employed to signify that the valonqar would be the youngest brother of a line. And according to some theories Tyrion would only be Cersei's half-brother.

3 hours ago, ravenous reader said:

The Tyroshi torture device ought to be viewed as a disembodied hand -- representing the manipulation (which comes from the Latin word 'manus' = 'hand') of an unseen player.

Or a long manus, "the far reaching hand" in latin, which executes a person by proxy (to "make certain your hands are clean").

2 hours ago, TheSeason said:

I'm not certain how likely it is that its meaning would drift so much in the daughter cultures of Valyria, that each Free City might have a different meaning of or use for the word

However, this theory ignores that all Free Cities languages have a different meaning for valonqar. As I said, "What is claimed for certain is that, regardless of the literal meaning, 'valonqar' would be the name of the torture device that Aerys brought from Tyrosh and used to kill Brandon Stark."

On the other hand, if there were to be confusion in the literal meaning, it would suffice that only in Tyrosh valonqar had a meaning other than "little brother."

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1 hour ago, Ckram said:

However, this theory ignores that all Free Cities languages have a different meaning for valonqar. As I said, "What is claimed for certain is that, regardless of the literal meaning, 'valonqar' would be the name of the torture device that Aerys brought from Tyrosh and used to kill Brandon Stark."

On the other hand, if there were to be confusion in the literal meaning, it would suffice that only in Tyrosh valonqar had a meaning other than "little brother."

I'm not certain I understand your response. "Languages in the Free Cities" is one of the main and first points of your argument, and in that section your conclusion of the dialects' evolution hinges solely on vocabulary, with the emphasis that the word in particular for this discussion, "valonqar," may have a distinctly different meaning from one city to another. You then build on that point in "Maggy's Valyrian," concluding that the use of the word may have been specific to the Vulgar Valyrian of a Free City rather than High Valyrian and the original meaning, and then move on to "Tyrosh's Valonqar" in particular, and what you think its unique cultural context is. In "The Translation" section, you also make a distinction between the literal meaning and the greater cultural contexts of the word, emphasizing that it may or may not mean, literally, "little brother." I understand you're not arguing that "valonqar" doesn't mean x, but so much of your argument rests upon that "valonqar" might mean x, and y, and z, distinct to each city, or x/xy/xyz with compound meaning in certain cities. So, I think it's fair to examine whether loanword-type words, with very specific cultural and contextual meaning, evolve that way at all. 

I don't know that the Free Cities should or even would have a different meaning for the word "valonqar," because I'm not certain that's how dialects evolve, but I do concede that in a Free Cities with a singular standardized meaning for "valonqar" (assuming it's a loanword-type word with no translational value in other languages that might influence their cultural developments) that naming the spiffy new torture device "valonqar" is well in the realm of possibility, especially if it taps into that context (although even if not). Blue Tooth has a specific meaning, for instance, but that didn't stop us from slapping that name on a spiffy new technology. I'm not certain that the existence of such a device would explain or result in a man claiming "I've brought you your (insert name of torture device)" as a way of saying "I've brought you the thing that's torturing you," especially when "the thing that's torturing you" is a person, and he's bringing that person's head by means of offering "justice." Unless, of course, this would be an idiom that grew around that device, which is also possible, although it's my understanding that idioms are sometimes sloppily translated (again because of the want for coherent translational value). So supposing, that might even account for the strangeness of the statement, if it were intended the way you suggest it, although I don't know how anyone else (in world or out) should be able to make that leap to understanding.

Just because the Free Cities are nine distinct dialects of Vulgar Valyrian on the way to nine distinct languages doesn't necessitate that every word (every root word) has evolutionarily diversified in some capacity. Vocabulary is only one part of what makes a dialect, so even where these dialects evolved from High Valyrian might have many roots or vocabulary in common, knowing these similarities doesn't necessarily permit you to cobble together a coherent sentence. 

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I think the OP is absolutely correct to look at Maggy’s words in detail. I would need more to connect the valonqar (makes me think of conquer?) to Aerys’ device. But Qyburn is Cersei’s own torture device which she is using in part to defend herself from the prophesy. If Qyburn could be connected a torture device (Aerys’ or another), then that would fit Cersei bringing about her end by trying to prevent it.

13 hours ago, Ckram said:

3. Maggy’s Valyrian

No one knows where Maggy lived before coming to Westeros, we only know that she came from the East with her husband (ASOS – Tyrion III; AFFC – Cersei VIII). Then she could either have in mind the meaning of Valonqar in High Valyrian or in Bastard Valyrian when she said the word.

Anyway, we should note that Maggy speaks the whole prophecy in the common language of Westeros and only "valonqar" is pronounced in foreign language. It seems to me that we have no reason to suspect that Maggy was not fluent in the common tongue.

So, among many alternatives, there are two interpretations that seem the most plausible to me:

  • Maggy was trying to confuse Cersei;
  • Maggy was referring to something that there is not a word in the common tongue of Westeros to name.

 

I've noticed genie/jinn vibes from this scene. There’s rubbing the lamp 3 times (Cersei asks 3 times for her fortune). There’s spices, green mood lighting, carpets, tents and snake imagery. Instead of 3 wishes, Cersei gets 3 questions. Cersei warns her younger self against waking a sleeping sorceress which reminds me that it’s bad to wake a sleeping snake and recalls snake charmers.

It’s known in popular culture that genies grant wishes very literally so questions must be well-thought out and very specific. Sometimes the wishes granted (or fortunes foretold?) come with unexpected negatives which cancel out the benefits of the wish. They are very much a double-edged sword. Maggy (in the fortune) "grants" Cersei her wishes, but not in the way she'd like.

I see something similar in Maggy’s words. Cersei gets 3 questions. Maggy’s answers are two parted. One part is a simple answer to a question. She will never marry the prince, she will be queen, she will have 3 children. The other half of Maggy’s answers feed into Cersei's vices especially vanity and paranoia. What Maggy is obligated to give is simple. What Maggy offers of her own choice is poison. Cersei wanted to ask about the third answer but noted she had no more questions. This is when Maggy offers the valonqar prophesy.

I think that Maggy is leading Cersei to her own doom. She deeply offends her by waking her rudely and then threatens to have her whipped. I think there’s strong hints that Maggy may have specifically worded things to ensure that Cersei fell right into what she would seek to avoid most especially feeding her paranoia which she knew Cersei already had in spades due to knowing about the murder of Melara (not to mention being able to glean a number of Cersei’s other negative qualities from their interaction).  

There's also a lot of curse stuff going on. I'm more inclined to think it a curse than a prophesy. Cersei notes her blood is black which is linked to cursed blood. Maggy curses her as she leaves and we're never told the curse - except I think we were. Maggy didn't need Melara's blood to tell her future, so what purpose was there in taking Cersei's blood? When Cersei recalls her dreams, she tells herself to run away. That would work for a curse, not so much a prophesy. 

13 hours ago, Ckram said:

2 – Myrish valonqar

When Cersei told Taena about Maggy's prophecy, Taena did not dispute the meaning that Septa Saranella gave to the word, nor did she propose another meaning based on the Valyrian Bastard of Myr.

In fact, there was even a hint that the word might have something to do with the fact that Joanna Lannister had died giving birth to Tyrion, the valonqar in question, as seen in the bolded part of the quote below.

          "Tyrion is the valonqar," she said. "Do you use that word in Myr? It's High Valyrian, it means little brother." She had asked Septa Saranella about the word, after Melara drowned.
          Taena took her hand and stroked it. "This was a hateful woman, old and sick and ugly. You were young and beautiful, full of life and pride. She lived in Lannisport, you said, so she would have known of the dwarf and how he killed your lady mother. This creature dared not strike you, because of who you were, so she sought to wound you with her viper's tongue." – (AFFC, Cersei IX)

I see something different in this scene which actually doesn't work against your argument though it doesn't support it either.

Taena evades answering a simple yes or no question. She reassures Cersei that Maggy was only messing with her, yet she reminds her of exactly why she hates Tyrion. It just looks like manipulation to me which plays into Cersei's vanity with excessive flattery. Taena was a whore in the Free Cities and with her looks and mannerisms, likely a high-priced one. Text specifies "Free Cities", not just Myr. Just guessing, but I think she knows more languages than just Myrish and the Common Tongue yet still did not answer. Regardless, given Taena's history and that she might have her own motives and that she's trying to manipulate Cersei, I think what she says and does shouldn't be taken at face value. 

I don't think Taena's the valonqar but this is interesting. Cersei equates Melara to Taena. Taena is in Cersei's blankets. Cersei's blankets end up wrapped around her throat.

AFFC Cersei V

It had been a long day, and Taena's wit always cheered her. Cersei had not had a friend she so enjoyed since Melara Hetherspoon, had turned out to be a greedy little schemer with ideas above her station. I should not think ill of her. She's dead and drowned, and she taught me never to trust anyone but Jaime.

AFFC Cersei IX

Dawn was breaking over King's Landing when they climbed from the tub. The queen's skin was white and wrinkled from her long immersion. "Stay with me," she told Taena. "I do not want to sleep alone." She even said a prayer before she crawled beneath her coverlet, beseeching the Mother for sweet dreams.

AFFC Cersei VIII (after dreaming of Maggy the Frog...)

She woke gasping in the dark with her blanket wound about her neck. Cersei wrenched it off so violently that it tore, and sat up with her breasts heaving. A dream, she told herself, an old dream and a tangled coverlet, that's all it was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Lollygag

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13 hours ago, Ckram said:

According to Maggy the Frog, “the valonqar” will “wrap his hands” about Cersei's pale white throat and choke the life from her after her children were dead and her tears have drowned her (AFFC – Cersei VIII).

Oh geez.  The first thing that came to mind when I read this was Jon Snow's confrontation with Othor:
 

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Jon VII

Dead Othor slammed into him, knocking him off his feet.

Jon's breath went out of him as the fallen table caught him between his shoulder blades. The sword, where was the sword? He'd lost the damned sword! When he opened his mouth to scream, the wight jammed its black corpse fingers into Jon's mouth. Gagging, he tried to shove it off, but the dead man was too heavy. Its hand forced itself farther down his throat, icy cold, choking him. Its face was against his own, filling the world. Frost covered its eyes, sparkling blue. Jon raked cold flesh with his nails and kicked at the thing's legs. He tried to bite, tried to punch, tried to breathe …

And Sam's encounter with a wight:

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Samwell III

Small Paul twisted around. Before he could get out his other knife, the steel knife that every brother carried, the wight's black hands locked beneath his chins. Paul's fingers were so cold they seemed to burn. They burrowed deep into the soft flesh of Sam's throat. Run, Gilly, run, he wanted to scream, but when he opened his mouth only a choking sound emerged.

His fumbling fingers finally found the dagger, but when he slammed it up into the wight's belly the point skidded off the iron links, and the blade went spinning from Sam's hand. Small Paul's fingers tightened inexorably, and began to twist. He's going to rip my head off, Sam thought in despair. His throat felt frozen, his lungs on fire. He punched and pulled at the wight's wrists, to no avail. He kicked Paul between the legs, uselessly. The world shrank to two blue stars, a terrible crushing pain, and a cold so fierce that his tears froze over his eyes. Sam squirmed and pulled, desperate . . . and then he lurched forward.

Then this:

Quote

"I bring you justice. I bring you the head of your valonqar. In Tyrosh we name him Redhands, for the blood running from his fingers. A king's blood, and a father's. Some say** he slew his mother too, ripping his way from her womb with savage claws."

I'm reminded of @Sly Wren proposition that the first lesson that Bran learns in GoT is about justice (Gared's execution).  Bran describes Jon Snow as an old hand at justice.

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Bran I

The head bounced off a thick root and rolled. It came up near Greyjoy's feet. Theon was a lean, dark youth of nineteen who found everything amusing. He laughed, put his boot on the head, and kicked it away.

"Ass," Jon muttered, low enough so Greyjoy did not hear. He put a hand on Bran's shoulder, and Bran looked over at his bastard brother. "You did well," Jon told him solemnly. Jon was fourteen, an old hand at justice.

 Bran is the little brother in this relationship; but perhaps Jon is king's blood and son of a king.  Redhands or wierwood tree?  Savage claws or Longclaw?

A Game of Thrones - Jon VII

Quote

Jon remained standing. "It's my father, isn't it?"

The Old Bear tapped the letter with a finger. "Your father and the king," he rumbled. "I won't lie to you, it's grievous news. I never thought to see another king, not at my age, with Robert half my years and strong as a bull." He took a gulp of wine. "They say the king loved to hunt. The things we love destroy us every time, lad. Remember that. My son loved that young wife of his. Vain woman. If not for her, he would never have thought to sell those poachers."

   

Edited by LynnS

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15 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Nice! I've never seen this theory. I was absent from the forums for some time. 

First thing that popped into my head: Why or how does the Tyroshi bounty hunter know Cersei refers to Tyrion as valonqar? Surely Cersei doesn't announce it. 

I'm going to go back & read the first 2 threads because I think you might be on to something here! 

He uses valonqar because it's valyrian for little brother and he wants to emphasize that?

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3 hours ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

He uses valonqar because it's valyrian for little brother and he wants to emphasize that?

But why use the Valyrian word for little brother? How does that emphasize it. 

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1 hour ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

But why use the Valyrian word for little brother? How does that emphasize it. 

Because it's foreign? Is that a serious question? Sounds more exotic. A little flair verbally is perfectly in line with the very ornate chest he's got "Tyrion's" head in. He is, after all, addressing the queen

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10 hours ago, TheSeason said:

Blue Tooth has a specific meaning, for instance, but that didn't stop us from slapping that name on a spiffy new technology.

Yes. Perfect.

10 hours ago, TheSeason said:

I'm not certain that the existence of such a device would explain or result in a man claiming "I've brought you your (insert name of torture device)" as a way of saying "I've brought you the thing that's torturing you," especially when "the thing that's torturing you" is a person, and he's bringing that person's head by means of offering "justice." [...]

So supposing, that might even account for the strangeness of the statement, if it were intended the way you suggest it, although I don't know how anyone else (in world or out) should be able to make that leap to understanding. [...]

Just because the Free Cities are nine distinct dialects of Vulgar Valyrian on the way to nine distinct languages doesn't necessitate that every word (every root word) has evolutionarily diversified in some capacity.

1 - I had been looking for some idiomatic expression in English that could reflect this translation for a few months, but I could not find it. So, I preferred to post the general idea in the forums and see if a native speaker would point me to any suitable ones.

2 - Yes, some explanations and contextualizations would be needed to fill the gaps. However, what favors this theory is that, as I see it, these gaps don't come from the theory itself, they were intentionally build by GRRM.

3 - I agree with you on this and made it clear in my previous posts.^_^

9 hours ago, Lollygag said:

I'm more inclined to think it a curse than a prophesy. Cersei notes her blood is black which is linked to cursed blood. Maggy curses her as she leaves and we're never told the curse - except I think we were.[...]

I think what she [Tanea] says and does shouldn't be taken at face value.

1 - Although it seems a very attractive alternative, I think the power to alter/control Cersei's fate (rather than just predict it) would make Maggy powerful beyond what would be credible.

2 - I agree, but still this may be considered a counter-argument to the theory, which is why I include it there and made some comments about it.

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1 hour ago, Universal Sword Donor said:

Because it's foreign? Is that a serious question? Sounds more exotic. A little flair verbally is perfectly in line with the very ornate chest he's got "Tyrion's" head in. He is, after all, addressing the queen

Would it be as if a Mexican bounty hunter came to Cersei with the head of a dwarf and said "I bring you the head of your hermanito"?

Edited by Ckram

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