PrettyPig

Gods Are Not Mocked: Deals with the Devil at Harrenhal

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6 hours ago, AlaskanSandman said:

Dont forget that his brother was the L.C. of the Blackgate and the Nightfort at the time. 
We are told he stayed out of the war, yet this is odd as Harren is ruling from the God's Eye at Harrenhal. I suspect them of working in unison or at least more to this story than we understand. 

Oh, nice.  Completely forgot about that.  I have trouble believing that he stayed out of the fray due to strict adherence to the NW vows like we see with another brother, Aemon...but now that I think about that semi-parallel situation, I’m kind of wondering about our dear old Maester and what this could be telling us.    Someone involved in dark magic trying to take over the realm, a Great War, dragons....and relatives in high places at the Wall.    Hmmm.   Good find!

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Quote"My lady, I am sorry for your losses. Truly, the gods are cruel."Sansa could not think of a word to say to him. How could he be sorry for her losses? Was he mocking her? It wasn't the gods who'd been cruel, it was Joffrey.

 

 

At the end of the day I don’t think the Gods are actively participating in the story.

I’m far more inclined to look for the person responsible for events.

Quote

 

"The gods who made us all."
"All?" he mocked. "Tell me, little bird, what kind of god makes a monster like the Imp, or a halfwit like Lady Tanda's daughter? If there are gods, they made sheep so wolves could eat mutton, and they made the weak for the strong to play with.
"True knights protect the weak."

 

If there are gods at all they created the world of Planetos and are unlikely to be taking an active role in altering their creation. In other words, even if the gods are real there is no reason to expect to see them take an active role in the story.

Quote

 

"I buried him myself. I can tell you where his grave lies, if you wish. I covered him with stones to keep the carrion eaters from digging up his flesh, and set his helm atop the cairn to mark his final resting place. That was a grievous error. Some other wayfarer found my marker and claimed it for himself. The man who raped and killed at Saltpans was not Sandor Clegane, though he may be as dangerous. The riverlands are full of such scavengers. I will not call them wolves. Wolves are nobler than that . . . and so are dogs, I think.
"I know a little of this man, Sandor Clegane. He was Prince Joffrey's sworn shield for many a year, and even here we would hear tell of his deeds, both good and ill. If even half of what we heard was true, this was a bitter, tormented soul, a sinner who mockedboth gods and men. He served, but found no pride in service. He fought, but took no joy in victory. He drank, to drown his pain in a sea of wine. He did not love, nor was he loved himself. It was hate that drove him. Though he committed many sins, he never sought forgiveness. Where other men dream of love, or wealth, or glory, this man Sandor Clegane dreamed of slaying his own brother, a sin so terrible it makes me shudder just to speak of it. Yet that was the bread that nourished him, the fuel that kept his fires burning. Ignoble as it was, the hope of seeing his brother's blood upon his blade was all this sad and angry creature lived for . . . and even that was taken from him, when Prince Oberyn of Dorne stabbed Ser Gregor with a poisoned spear."

 

Now I for one don’t believe Sandor is dead and this speech is one in a long tradition of priests spouting total bullshit. But there might be something to it anyway...

Sandor, for all the terrible things he’s done, is just a man. Imperfect and driven by his own code/compass, but he never blamed someone or some higher power for his actions. There is some kind of honesty and nobility in that.

I don’t expect to see Sandor redeemed, nor do I want to see him forgiven by some priest or god. 

What I expect is that he will keep living, doing right and wrong, but taking responsibility for his own actions.

 

 

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13 minutes ago, LiveFirstDieLater said:

If there are gods at all they created the world of Planetos and are unlikely to be taking an active role in altering their creation. In other words, even if the gods are real there is no reason to expect to see them take an active role in the story.

I tend to think along this line also, that this is a story about humans and not a power struggle between gods. It's how people "other-ize" outsiders and believe in gods that match their own personal beliefs. For example, the Bible says "god is love", and yet there are evangelicals that believe god "hates" certain sins, so some evangelicals use this belief that god "hates" things to justify their own hatred, thus they are making god in their own image rather than the other way around. To relate this to ASOIAF the Andals have the Faith, and the fire worshippers have Rh'llor, but both other-ize each other, the old gods, and He Who Shall Not Be Named. Each group attributes victories or defeats to the will of their god rather than on the abilities and resources of each respective group. IMO the only "real god" in this story is the existence of magic and the people that use and abuse it.

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10 hours ago, PrettyPig said:

Oh, nice.  Completely forgot about that.  I have trouble believing that he stayed out of the fray due to strict adherence to the NW vows like we see with another brother, Aemon...but now that I think about that semi-parallel situation, I’m kind of wondering about our dear old Maester and what this could be telling us.    Someone involved in dark magic trying to take over the realm, a Great War, dragons....and relatives in high places at the Wall.    Hmmm.   Good find!

If you think about the climate and situation on Westeros upon the Valrians arriving leading up to Aegon I, is the Iron born expansion under House Hoare. Ending with Harren who was ruling from the North, to the Arbor. With his brother positioned at the Night Fort and the Black Gate. 

Where was Torrhen in all of this? Had he no thought about where the Hoares had positioned them selves? Why oppose Aegon? What was the pact made that took alllll night and 3 maesters? What was Brandon Snow up to and what held Torhhen back?  The Ice side seems like it was winning untill Aegon arrived. 

You have to wonder about the Order of the Green hand and what their original purpose may have been. Did they fail? Is that why Aegon wiped them out? Were they there to oppose the dragons? Keep in mind that there are lineal claims from the reach and westerlands tied to the founding of Valyria. 

Same questions for the Maesters, formed sometime around the pact through grandchildren of Garth the Green. 

Also, the Old Town was conquered by the Iron Born before. What influence did this have on Old Town culture and the Faith or Maesters? Citidel originally a pirate hold and has a very old Weirwood. 

Edited by AlaskanSandman

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11 hours ago, PrettyPig said:

Oh, nice.  Completely forgot about that.  I have trouble believing that he stayed out of the fray due to strict adherence to the NW vows like we see with another brother, Aemon...but now that I think about that semi-parallel situation, I’m kind of wondering about our dear old Maester and what this could be telling us.    Someone involved in dark magic trying to take over the realm, a Great War, dragons....and relatives in high places at the Wall.    Hmmm.   Good find!

400BC-  Arlan III conquers Riverlands                                       Osric Stark brother or son of King in North made L.C. of Watch.

340BC-                                                                                       Osric dies.

300Bc-                                                                                       Hardhome 

                                                                                                   Valyria takes dragonstone

                                                                                                   Freys installed at Neck, choke hold on River passage.

100BC- Arrec vs Harwyn takes Riverlands                               Doom of Valyria

42BC-   Death of Halleck, Rule of Harren

Year Zero -   Harren at God's Eye, Bro at BlackGate.               Aegon I conquers Westeros.

Faith uprising in years between.

62ac- Bael the Bard         Gael the Winter Child born to Alysanne at Queen's Crown.

92ac- war with Bael and his son.  Jaehaerys and Alysanne fight at Wall. Close Nightfort.

          Succession crisis of 92ac.  Rhaenys passed over

101- Succession crisis of 101- Laenor passed over for Viserys.

130- Dance of Dragons when Viserys dies after choosing Rhaenyra as heir despite council of 101. Rhaenyra vs Aegon III.

Edit- Its hard to not punch in the other time stuff ive found haha it paints a different picture of the activities of Westeros. 

Edited by AlaskanSandman

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11 hours ago, PrettyPig said:

Oh, nice.  Completely forgot about that.  I have trouble believing that he stayed out of the fray due to strict adherence to the NW vows like we see with another brother, Aemon...but now that I think about that semi-parallel situation, I’m kind of wondering about our dear old Maester and what this could be telling us.    Someone involved in dark magic trying to take over the realm, a Great War, dragons....and relatives in high places at the Wall.    Hmmm.   Good find!

Since the Black Gate excepts the Old Vows, when were the vows changed really? Was it the Night's King? Or was it when Jaehaerys and Alysanne closed the Night Fort? Im torn on this one. 

Im also torn on when House Stark stopped looking like their ancient ancestors. Could the Iron born have bred into House Stark recently? 

Edited by AlaskanSandman

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Hello thread,

 I am slowly making my way through this thread and I must say, it is nice to have some Arya discussion again. We haven't had any good Arya discussion in a long while.

Quote

 

 

Now, the parallels:

 

H:  A young crannogman, small of stature and naïve to the ways of the big outside world.

A:  A young girl, small of stature and naïve to the ways of the big outside world.

H:   With pledges of support of his new friends, Howland goes to the lake’s edge after the night’s festivities are over, casts his gaze to the Isle of Faces with its grove of weirwoods, and “said a prayer to the old gods of north and Neck .  .  .”

A:   Without pledges of support of her old friends, Arya goes to the godswood of Harrenhal in the dark of night and says a silent prayer in front of the wicked & twisted heart tree.

H:  Howland wishes (we assume, this is indirectly stated in Meera’s retelling) to have vengeance upon those who wronged him, but in a way that he won’t shame himself and his people.     He desires to be brave.

A:  Arya wishes to have vengeance on those who wronged her, and to restore pride to herself and her shamed (via capture) people.   She desires to be brave.

 

Quick, random question here that I want to ask before I forget- and I know that Arya in the Riverlands with Nymeria is key to her arc first. What if Arya is the one who goes to meet Howland and they travel together north for whatever reason. With all of these parallels, and with Arya being a waterdancer, her lie detecting training, etc, maybe she is the one in the story who can find the moving Greywater Watch? Arya will succeed where the Iron Born and Andals failed. In GRRM's outline (that he says he was "making shit up" about), he did have planned for Arya (with Cat and Bran) to head north, first to the Night's Watch, and then beyond the Wall. Well, instead he sent a fArya to the Watch in the form of Alys and now soon to be Jeyne Poole. What if he moved the real Arya, the little green girl, to Greywater Watch instead??? GWW is conveniently located just over the Riverlands border ;) This will coincide with Howland's reasons for coming out of "hiding" and both of them will head north to Winterfell.

Or not. Just random speculation. I am sure I could be forgetting something.

Edited by The Fattest Leech
clarified a word

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I think you're onto something here. The OP taught me something new right away by comparing the tourney at Harrenhal to Arya's "Weasel Soup" experience. I love unexpected parallels, so thank you very much for thinking this through and documenting it so thoroughly.

Another reason I love this is that it immediately struck another chord, connecting to the AFfC Brienne POVs I have just been reading. I have only a little bit of evidence to add to your interesting "mocking of the gods" hypothesis, but your close reading of the Harrenhal passages points to the Crackclaw Point journey with Nimble Dick as another deliberate parallel with the Knight of the Laughing Tree story as well as Arya's interactions with Jaqen at Harrenhal. Brienne finds three of Vargo Hoat's Brave Companions / Bloody Mummers at The Whispers, for one thing, but Dick Crabb even mentions "Harren's end" when he is relating the history of The Whispers.

I'll list here a few of the parallels, for what they're worth.

The crannogman saw a maid with laughing purple eyes dance with a white sword, a red snake, and the lord of griffins, and lastly with the quiet wolf .  .  .  but only after the wild wolf spoke to her on behalf of a brother too shy to leave his bench.   

Brienne is known as the Maid of Tarth, and we are told that she is homely in every feature except for her beautiful eyes. Her eyes are blue, not purple, but it would not be the first time GRRM changes the shade of a character's eyes - based on lighting conditions at a particular moment - to make a point. We know that Brienne has a close relationship with a white sword guy and that she "danced" with him - she fought Jaime shortly before his arm was amputated. I believe the red snake parallel may come at The Whispers, when she slays the Dornishman, Timeon. Snakes are associated with Dorne through the viper, Oberyn, and the sand snakes but there's also this description:

A second man slipped over the lip of the well, making no more noise than a snake might make slithering across a pile of wet leaves. He wore an iron halfhelm wrapped in stained red silk, and had a short, thick throwing spear in hand.

(AFfC, Brienne IV)

Timeon is completely red when Brienne finishes dancing with him.

Earlier in the same chapter, Brienne recalled the melee at Bitterbridge, where her second-to-last opponent was Ser Ronnet Connington, a suitor who had cruelly rejected her. Ronnet was thought to be the Lord of Griffins because of his cousin's reported death: "This time Ser Ronnet held a sword and not a rose. Every blow she dealt him was sweeter than a kiss."

Brienne's last opponent at Bitterbridge is Ser Loras. She has no grudge against him but his symbol is a rose and she hates roses so she fights him with fury and wins the melee. Because of the three matches between Brienne's arc and the scene at Harrenhal, I think it's safe to predict that Brienne will come into conflict with a Stark in some way.

"The daughter of the castle was the queen of love and beauty, . . .  But late on the afternoon of that second day, as the shadows grew long, a mystery knight appeared in the lists.”

Bran nodded sagely.  Mystery knights would oft appear at tourneys, with helms concealing their faces, and shields that were either blank or bore some strange device. 

Brienne is nicknamed "The Beauty" but we also have this:

In the first village she came to . . . She had donned her helm, stung by the giggles of the fisher folk, so they took her for a man. . . . The raindrops pinged against the steel of her helm, making her ears ring as she rode, but it was better than being out there in a boat.

(AFfC, Brienne II)

At that point, Brienne had just had her shield painted with the sigil adopted by Ser Duncan the Tall, known at one point as the Mystery Knight.

The reference to the boat is Brienne's way of sympathizing with the people of the fishing village, who make their living out on boats in all weather. It is probably also the author's deft way of contrasting with this passage from the KotLT story: The lad was no knight, no more than any of his people.  We sit a boat more often than a horse, and our hands are made for oars, not lances. 

Here's another parallel:

the Knight of the Laughing Tree spoke in a booming voice through his helm, saying, ‘Teach your squires honor, that shall be ransom enough.’

"...Ser Galladon bore the Just Maid proudly, but only thrice did he unsheathe her. He would not use the Maid against a mortal man, for she was so potent as to make any fight unfair."

Crabb thought that was hilarious. "The Perfect Knight? The Perfect Fool, he sounds like. What's the point o' having some magic sword if you don't bloody well use it?"

"Honor," she said. "The point is honor."

(AFfC, Brienne IV)

Here is one of the details from the Arya excerpt that struck me as a good match for Brienne's experience at Crackclaw Point:

“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. 

From behind her came a rustling as a head poked down through the red leaves. Crabb was standing underneath the weirwood. He looked up and saw the face. "Here," he called to Brienne. "It's your fool."

. . . Shagwell dropped from the weirwood, braying laughter.

(AFfC, Brienne IV)

I find this comparison of Shagwell and Jaqen - both of whom seem to emerge from weirwood trees - enormously satisfying. I had just commented on another thread that I felt Brienne would have to kill Jaqen at some point because she kills Rorge and Biter (with help from Gendry) at the inn at the Crossroads (AFfC, Brienne VII). If the author wants us to compare Jaqen and Shagwell, then Brienne has already killed a symbolic "Jaqen" before she takes care of Rorge and Biter, cleaning up the Pandora's box that Arya opened when she helped the three men escape from their cage on Yoren's wagon.

But wait - Shagwell is laughing as he emerges from the weirwood tree? Laughing tree? What mockery is this, that the author would compare the most vile and offensive character to the Knight of the Laughing Tree? I'm not 100% sure, but I think this journey is supposed to read like Brienne's nightmare of self-discovery. After she meets Ser Shadrich, the Mad Mouse (AFfC, Brienne II), Brienne constantly reflects that she feels like a fool. In a very offensive line of dialogue, Shagwell even says that Brienne thinks of him when she masturbates. So she's a fool, she's looking for Dontos and she finds Shagwell. They are all fools and all aspects of Brienne's self-image. The chapter ends with Shagwell digging a grave and Brienne (with Hyle Hunt) filling the dirt back in over Dick's dead body. So the author leads us to a new comparison between Shagwell, Brienne, Ser Hyle and the gravedigger on the Quiet Isle. Does this mean that the Hound is supposed to be compared to the Knight of the Laughing Tree? Sounds like a good fit for his honorable effort to save Ser Loras by defeating Ser Gregor at the Hand's Tourney. (I love when a circle of symbols comes all the way around!)

There are other fascinating parallels - Jaqen compared to Littlefinger; the Brune castle on Brienne's journey compared to Mormont's Bear Isle; a number of similarities between Brienne and Bran Stark. But they would take us too far away from the Harrenhal focus here. (Hmm. I forgot Littlefinger ends up as the Lord of Harrenhal though, doesn't he? And he is tied to Ser Dontos, the object of Brienne's search. Interesting.) Brienne and her companions also travel through an extended stretch of bog before reaching The Whispers, which may be another crannogman allusion. I think I'll have to go back and re-read to see whether Nimble Dick is a parallel to our little crannogman, who would be one of the few people who could safely lead outsiders through the Neck. (I find that Nimble Dick is a parallel to Bran Stark in places, but that is definitely a topic for another day.)

Of course I do want to tie this in more strongly with your idea about mocking the gods. I do think there is a unique "god" at Harrenhal, and it may be the Ghost of Harrenhal. I come to that notion because of the "heads" at The Whispers - slain and reanimated foes of the legendary Ser Clarence Crabb - that Nimble Dick says are responsible for the whispering sounds coming from the earth. Brienne thinks the sound comes from the waves echoing through caverns but the last line of the chapter says, "down below the ground the heads of forgotten kings whispered secrets." I think the "kings" of the first men may be part of the web of nature known as the old gods or that they provide a network of mostly silent, sometimes cryptic messengers, like the ravens.

Edited by Seams

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11 hours ago, LiveFirstDieLater said:

If there are gods at all they created the world of Planetos and are unlikely to be taking an active role in altering their creation. In other words, even if the gods are real there is no reason to expect to see them take an active role in the story.

I don’t disagree with this-  GRRM even said this so no, I doubt the GO or the MFG or whatever is going to make a personal appearance.   

That being said, we’ve got a story in which there are plenty of human/human-ish folks acting as AGENTS of those gods, and THEY have magic... so even if the gods themselves aren’t real or aren’t going to show up, they weren’t the problem anyway.  The problem is their very real emissaries stirring up drama and using their hinky voodoo while doing so.

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7 hours ago, PrettyPig said:

I don’t disagree with this-  GRRM even said this so no, I doubt the GO or the MFG or whatever is going to make a personal appearance.   

That being said, we’ve got a story in which there are plenty of human/human-ish folks acting as AGENTS of those gods, and THEY have magic... so even if the gods themselves aren’t real or aren’t going to show up, they weren’t the problem anyway.  The problem is their very real emissaries stirring up drama and using their hinky voodoo while doing so.

There is also the inevitable fact that this is a story, and so “coincidence” and “luck” aren’t really a thing... so when a character gets their just desert, their fate could be as close to the will of Gods we will get.

George loves his irony and double meanings. So I’d like to imagine there will be both a logical reasoning for events and and at the same time literary meaning to what befalls the characters moving forward.

I wasn’t trying to brush away the idea that mocking the gods will get a hero in trouble. It could be viewed as much as foreshadowing as anything. I just would expect a practice explanation as well.

For instance, Jaime loses the hand he pushed Bran with and killed Aerys with. But that wasn’t “why” he lost the hand, there was a madman with a penchant for dismemberment. We should be able to appreciate both, as it adds depth to the tale.

But back to Harrenhal, I have a question...

Tywin says:

The man's father was a butcher, and they grant him Harrenhal. Harrenhal, that was the seat of kings!

But it was only the seat of one king right? And that one only very briefly until he was cooked in it.

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9 hours ago, Seams said:

Another reason I love this is that it immediately struck another chord, connecting to the AFfC Brienne POVs I have just been reading. I have only a little bit of evidence to add to your interesting "mocking of the gods" hypothesis, but your close reading of the Harrenhal passages points to the Crackclaw Point journey with Nimble Dick as another deliberate parallel with the Knight of the Laughing Tree story as well as Arya's interactions with Jaqen at Harrenhal. Brienne finds three of Vargo Hoat's Brave Companions / Bloody Mummers at The Whispers, for one thing, but Dick Crabb even mentions "Harren's end" when he is relating the history of The Whispers.

Oh Seams, I so love your posts and never have time to give them the response they deserve when you write them. :(     The entirety of this one was amazing and I will absolutely come back to it, but I wanted to touch on this one this before I lose the train of thought.

At a different forum I'm currently on a very shallow dive into the Marianas Trench that is the influence on the story from GRRM's Catholic upbringing.    I got a boost from @Lollygag due to a link she posted about Bael/Baal as a prince of the underworld; Baal is also one of the name of Satan as mentioned in the OP, so naturally I went down a rabbit hole into the Bible and the areas that would have caught the interest of a chubby, overimaginative kid from New Jersey during long & dull worship services:  fire and wrath, Revelations end-times stuff, etc.   This led me to begin exploring the role of archangels, particularly those that are slated to be around during the Apocalypse.

Your mention of Brienne battling Rorge and Biter (the "minor demons" accompanying Jaqen), slaying this "host", if you will, ties in with her potential as one of these archangels: Uriel, the "Fiery Palm",  "Light of God", who "stands at the Gate of Eden with a fiery sword" and represents repentance - Uriel the Warrior, Uriel the "Just".   (I have preliminarily identified Bran as Michael, the "prince" of angels, and Sam as something of a Gabriel/Raphael combo - this is totally a work in progress though.)   

Much to say about this representation, but again, am out of time.  *sigh*  Thank you for triggering this association, however, and for the astounding parallels about Brienne!  

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41 minutes ago, LiveFirstDieLater said:

There is also the inevitable fact that this is a story, and so “coincidence” and “luck” aren’t really a thing... so when a character gets their just desert, their fate could be as close to the will of Gods we will get.

Oh, for sure...and that drives us into the eternal argument re: Predeterminism/Fate vs. Free Will, which is something I didn't really want to get into too much here because it can literally go around and around forever.   

I want to (eventually) come back to one of your earlier posts about Arya's "consequences" post-Harrenhal and whether they are positive or negative or both - I was reminded of the phrase "our lives are but the flutter of moth's wings" or whatever it was when Bloodraven was telling Bran about the weirwood's concept of time, and that brought to mind the Butterfly Effect:  butterfly flaps its wings in South America and causes a tsunami off the coast of Japan, etc.   Everything in these consequential sequences is butterfly-effect stuff, and we'll probably never be able to separate out good from bad, really.   It just "is".

 

 

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1 hour ago, PrettyPig said:

Oh, for sure...and that drives us into the eternal argument re: Predeterminism/Fate vs. Free Will, which is something I didn't really want to get into too much here because it can literally go around and around forever.   

I want to (eventually) come back to one of your earlier posts about Arya's "consequences" post-Harrenhal and whether they are positive or negative or both - I was reminded of the phrase "our lives are but the flutter of moth's wings" or whatever it was when Bloodraven was telling Bran about the weirwood's concept of time, and that brought to mind the Butterfly Effect:  butterfly flaps its wings in South America and causes a tsunami off the coast of Japan, etc.   Everything in these consequential sequences is butterfly-effect stuff, and we'll probably never be able to separate out good from bad, really.   It just "is".

I think there are a lot of great conversation topics here... and I’m sorry if this is a tangent, but sometimes I feel compelled to spew.

You mentioned Bloodraven’s quote about the moth:

Quote

Certain moths live their whole lives in a day, yet to them that little span of time must seem as long as years and decades do to us.

I wanted to look at the use of moths as a metaphor here... because I believe that they represent fire, while their pale worm other form represents ice, the same creature but manifest in a different way. The moth, so full of movement, bright and flying, consuming and consumed so quickly, versus the worm, slow, dark and hidden, preserved in the cocoon it’s created. The cycle of life encompassing both.

First the moth, and the first mention of a moth:

Quote

The king heard him. "You stiff-necked fool," he muttered, "too proud to listen. Can you eat pride, Stark? Will honor shield your children?" Cracks ran down his face, fissures opening in the flesh, and he reached up and ripped the mask away. It was not Robert at all; it was Littlefinger, grinning, mocking him. When he opened his mouth to speak, his lies turned to pale grey moths and took wing.

This quote is nice since it has the added mocking! I won’t break it all down, but I think it’s interesting that LF emerges from Robert like a moth from a cocoon.

Next up is Rhaego:

Quote

She saw his heart burning through his chest, and in an instant he was gone, consumed like a moth by a candle, turned to ash.

A lot of fire going on here... fire and blood, and death.

There are also several characters who wear moth eaten cloths.

Hallyne, the Pyromancer.

A Warlock, once mocked for it, cursed the woman.

Varys, when helping Tyrion escape.

Tyrion, when he wears the child’s cloths from Illyrio.

There are also deaths specifically associated with moths:

Shea and Tywin

Rattleshirt burning (fake mance)

Dany finds only moths when looking for Quaith after her dream on the pyramid.

And the Stonemen during Tyrion’s Willy-Wonka boat ride.

Ok on to the worms! 

The first mention I found:

Quote

Jon saw at once what Sam meant. He could see the torn veins in the dead man's wrist, iron worms in the pale flesh. His blood was a black dust. Yet Jaremy Rykker was unconvinced. "If they'd been dead much longer than a day, they'd be ripe by now, boy. They don't even smell."

That is a wight... about as cold as it gets, and preserved.

There are many more uses of “worm” then “moth” so I’m going to be a little more selective... but this one seems very relevant to our current topic:

Quote

Arya rolled headfirst into the tunnel and dropped five feet. She got dirt in her mouth but she didn't care, the taste was fine, the taste was mud and water and worms and life. Under the earth the air was cool and dark. Above was nothing but blood and roaring red and choking smoke and the screams of dying horses. She moved her belt around so Needle would not be in her way, and began to crawl. A dozen feet down the tunnel she heard the sound, like the roar of some monstrous beast, and a cloud of hot smoke and black dust came billowing up behind her, smelling of hell. Arya held her breath and kissed the mud on the floor of the tunnel and cried. For whom, she could not say.

It isn’t long before Arya is eating worms and being called “worm breath”.

Of course she does this again with the worm in the Kindly Man’s eye when she gets to the house of white and black.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the pale wormlike root growing from Bloodraven’s eye at this point.

And Theon’s Dream where the dead all have worm eyes:

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King Robert sat with his guts spilling out on the table from the great gash in his belly, and Lord Eddard was headless beside him. Corpses lined the benches below, grey-brown flesh sloughing off their bones as they raised their cups to toast, worms crawling in and out of the holes that were their eyes. He knew them, every one; Jory Cassel and Fat Tom, Porther and Cayn and Hullen the master of horse, and all the others who had ridden south to King's Landing never to return. Mikken and Chayle sat together, one dripping blood and the other water. Benfred Tallhart and his Wild Hares filled most of a table. The miller's wife was there as well, and Farlen, even the wildling Theon had killed in the wolfswood the day he had saved Bran's life. 
But there were others with faces he had never known in life, faces he had seen only in stone. The slim, sad girl who wore a crown of pale blue roses and a white gown spattered with gore could only be Lyanna. Her brother Brandon stood beside her, and their father Lord Rickard just behind. Along the walls figures half-seen moved through the shadows, pale shades with long grim faces. The sight of them sent fear shivering through Theon sharp as a knife. And then the tall doors opened with a crash, and a freezing gale blew down the hall, and Robb came walking out of the night. Grey Wind stalked beside, eyes burning, and man and wolf alike bled from half a hundred savage wounds.

 

I’m not sure why Grey Wind has burning eyes here, I’ll need to consider. 

There is so much more, I’ll need to come back, but since I mentioned the Warlocks of the House of the Undying before, in the House Dany sees worm eaten wood, and the vision of Pree devolves into a wormlike creature.

Finally, I wanted to look at this interesting parallel between Worm lipped Joff and BloodRaven...

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The knight raised his voice instead. "Joffrey is the black worm eating the heart of the realm! Darkness was his father, and death his mother! Destroy him before he corrupts you all! Destroy them all, queen whore and king worm, vile dwarf and whispering spider, the false flowers. Save yourselves!" One of the gold cloaks knocked the man off his feet, but he continued to shout. "The scouring fire will come! King Stannis will return!"

And:

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"Aye, that may well be," Ser Kyle said, "but many would welcome the return of Bittersteel. Bloodraven is the root of all our woes, the white worm gnawing at the heart of the realm." Dunk frowned, remembering the hunchbacked septon at Stoney Sept. "Words like that can cost a man his head. Some might say you're talking treason."

 

Edited by LiveFirstDieLater

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38 minutes ago, LiveFirstDieLater said:

This quote is nice since it has the added mocking! I won’t break it all down, but I think it’s interesting that LF emerges from Robert like a moth from a cocoon.

There have been readers that suspect it was Littlefinger that told the lie to Brandon that Rhaegar abducted Lyanna, and perhaps that lie was repeated over and over to Robert and that's where he gets the idea that Lyanna (LIE-anna) was raped "hundreds of times"? 

Seems to me the moths are not only connected to flame, but to lies.

I loved your analogies, by the way.

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12 hours ago, Seams said:

I think you're onto something here. The OP taught me something new right away by comparing the tourney at Harrenhal to Arya's "Weasel Soup" experience. I love unexpected parallels, so thank you very much for thinking this through and documenting it so thoroughly.

Another reason I love this is that it immediately struck another chord, connecting to the AFfC Brienne POVs I have just been reading. I have only a little bit of evidence to add to your interesting "mocking of the gods" hypothesis, but your close reading of the Harrenhal passages points to the Crackclaw Point journey with Nimble Dick as another deliberate parallel with the Knight of the Laughing Tree story as well as Arya's interactions with Jaqen at Harrenhal. Brienne finds three of Vargo Hoat's Brave Companions / Bloody Mummers at The Whispers, for one thing, but Dick Crabb even mentions "Harren's end" when he is relating the history of The Whispers.

I'll list here a few of the parallels, for what they're worth.

The crannogman saw a maid with laughing purple eyes dance with a white sword, a red snake, and the lord of griffins, and lastly with the quiet wolf .  .  .  but only after the wild wolf spoke to her on behalf of a brother too shy to leave his bench.   

Brienne is known as the Maid of Tarth, and we are told that she is homely in every feature except for her beautiful eyes. Her eyes are blue, not purple, but it would not be the first time GRRM changes the shade of a character's eyes - based on lighting conditions at a particular moment - to make a point. We know that Brienne has a close relationship with a white sword guy and that she "danced" with him - she fought Jaime shortly before his arm was amputated. I believe the red snake parallel may come at The Whispers, when she slays the Dornishman, Timeon. Snakes are associated with Dorne through the viper, Oberyn, and the sand snakes but there's also this description:

A second man slipped over the lip of the well, making no more noise than a snake might make slithering across a pile of wet leaves. He wore an iron halfhelm wrapped in stained red silk, and had a short, thick throwing spear in hand.

(AFfC, Brienne IV)

Timeon is completely red when Brienne finishes dancing with him.

Earlier in the same chapter, Brienne recalled the melee at Bitterbridge, where her second-to-last opponent was Ser Ronnet Connington, a suitor who had cruelly rejected her. Ronnet was thought to be the Lord of Griffins because of his cousin's reported death: "This time Ser Ronnet held a sword and not a rose. Every blow she dealt him was sweeter than a kiss."

Brienne's last opponent at Bitterbridge is Ser Loras. She has no grudge against him but his symbol is a rose and she hates roses so she fights him with fury and wins the melee. Because of the three matches between Brienne's arc and the scene at Harrenhal, I think it's safe to predict that Brienne will come into conflict with a Stark in some way.

"The daughter of the castle was the queen of love and beauty, . . .  But late on the afternoon of that second day, as the shadows grew long, a mystery knight appeared in the lists.”

Bran nodded sagely.  Mystery knights would oft appear at tourneys, with helms concealing their faces, and shields that were either blank or bore some strange device. 

Brienne is nicknamed "The Beauty" but we also have this:

In the first village she came to . . . She had donned her helm, stung by the giggles of the fisher folk, so they took her for a man. . . . The raindrops pinged against the steel of her helm, making her ears ring as she rode, but it was better than being out there in a boat.

(AFfC, Brienne II)

At that point, Brienne had just had her shield painted with the sigil adopted by Ser Duncan the Tall, known at one point as the Mystery Knight.

The reference to the boat is Brienne's way of sympathizing with the people of the fishing village, who make their living out on boats in all weather. It is probably also the author's deft way of contrasting with this passage from the KotLT story: The lad was no knight, no more than any of his people.  We sit a boat more often than a horse, and our hands are made for oars, not lances. 

Here's another parallel:

the Knight of the Laughing Tree spoke in a booming voice through his helm, saying, ‘Teach your squires honor, that shall be ransom enough.’

"...Ser Galladon bore the Just Maid proudly, but only thrice did he unsheathe her. He would not use the Maid against a mortal man, for she was so potent as to make any fight unfair."

Crabb thought that was hilarious. "The Perfect Knight? The Perfect Fool, he sounds like. What's the point o' having some magic sword if you don't bloody well use it?"

"Honor," she said. "The point is honor."

(AFfC, Brienne IV)

Here is one of the details from the Arya excerpt that struck me as a good match for Brienne's experience at Crackclaw Point:

“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. 

From behind her came a rustling as a head poked down through the red leaves. Crabb was standing underneath the weirwood. He looked up and saw the face. "Here," he called to Brienne. "It's your fool."

. . . Shagwell dropped from the weirwood, braying laughter.

(AFfC, Brienne IV)

I find this comparison of Shagwell and Jaqen - both of whom seem to emerge from weirwood trees - enormously satisfying. I had just commented on another thread that I felt Brienne would have to kill Jaqen at some point because she kills Rorge and Biter (with help from Gendry) at the inn at the Crossroads (AFfC, Brienne VII). If the author wants us to compare Jaqen and Shagwell, then Brienne has already killed a symbolic "Jaqen" before she takes care of Rorge and Biter, cleaning up the Pandora's box that Arya opened when she helped the three men escape from their cage on Yoren's wagon.

But wait - Shagwell is laughing as he emerges from the weirwood tree? Laughing tree? What mockery is this, that the author would compare the most vile and offensive character to the Knight of the Laughing Tree? I'm not 100% sure, but I think this journey is supposed to read like Brienne's nightmare of self-discovery. After she meets Ser Shadrich, the Mad Mouse (AFfC, Brienne II), Brienne constantly reflects that she feels like a fool. In a very offensive line of dialogue, Shagwell even says that Brienne thinks of him when she masturbates. So she's a fool, she's looking for Dontos and she finds Shagwell. They are all fools and all aspects of Brienne's self-image. The chapter ends with Shagwell digging a grave and Brienne (with Hyle Hunt) filling the dirt back in over Dick's dead body. So the author leads us to a new comparison between Shagwell, Brienne, Ser Hyle and the gravedigger on the Quiet Isle. Does this mean that the Hound is supposed to be compared to the Knight of the Laughing Tree? Sounds like a good fit for his honorable effort to save Ser Loras by defeating Ser Gregor at the Hand's Tourney. (I love when a circle of symbols comes all the way around!)

There are other fascinating parallels - Jaqen compared to Littlefinger; the Brune castle on Brienne's journey compared to Mormont's Bear Isle; a number of similarities between Brienne and Bran Stark. But they would take us too far away from the Harrenhal focus here. (Hmm. I forgot Littlefinger ends up as the Lord of Harrenhal though, doesn't he? And he is tied to Ser Dontos, the object of Brienne's search. Interesting.) Brienne and her companions also travel through an extended stretch of bog before reaching The Whispers, which may be another crannogman allusion. I think I'll have to go back and re-read to see whether Nimble Dick is a parallel to our little crannogman, who would be one of the few people who could safely lead outsiders through the Neck. (I find that Nimble Dick is a parallel to Bran Stark in places, but that is definitely a topic for another day.)

Of course I do want to tie this in more strongly with your idea about mocking the gods. I do think there is a unique "god" at Harrenhal, and it may be the Ghost of Harrenhal. I come to that notion because of the "heads" at The Whispers - slain and reanimated foes of the legendary Ser Clarence Crabb - that Nimble Dick says are responsible for the whispering sounds coming from the earth. Brienne thinks the sound comes from the waves echoing through caverns but the last line of the chapter says, "down below the ground the heads of forgotten kings whispered secrets." I think the "kings" of the first men may be part of the web of nature known as the old gods or that they provide a network of mostly silent, sometimes cryptic messengers, like the ravens.

I really don't have anything of value to add to this, but I just had to comment on what a magnificent post this is! Just fabulous! Perhaps a second more thorough reading will inspire me.

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6 hours ago, PrettyPig said:

. . . influence on the story from GRRM's Catholic upbringing.    . . . Bael/Baal as a prince of the underworld; Baal is also one of the name of Satan as mentioned in the OP . . .

Your mention of Brienne battling Rorge and Biter (the "minor demons" accompanying Jaqen), slaying this "host", if you will, ties in with her potential as one of these archangels: Uriel, the "Fiery Palm",  "Light of God", who "stands at the Gate of Eden with a fiery sword" and represents repentance - Uriel the Warrior, Uriel the "Just".   (I have preliminarily identified Bran as Michael, the "prince" of angels, and Sam as something of a Gabriel/Raphael combo - this is totally a work in progress though.)  

Thank you for your kind words! Your response is my best valentine so far today.

Continuing love fest - with an invitation to Lollygag to join us in the hot tub as well: This Bael / Baal and archangel stuff sounds really promising! I suspect it will help to get to the heart of the mysterious, many-layered Harrenhal story and the question of whether the gods / ghosts / ancestors are behind any of these events that unfold in the lives of mortals.

I'll post some of the Petyr Baelish / Littlefinger stuff I am seeing as it almost certainly relates to the Bael notions. LynnS pulled up this excellent dialogue between Arya and Jaqen and helped me to see in a new way the Jaqen - Littlefinger connection:

"You swore. The gods heard you swear."

"The gods did hear." There was a knife in his hand suddenly, its blade thin as her little finger. Whether it was meant for her or him, Arya could not say. "A girl will weep. A girl will lose her only friend."

"You're not my friend. A friend would help me." She stepped away from him, balanced on the balls of her feet in case he threw his knife. "I'd never kill a friend."

(ACoK, Arya IX)

Those lines between Arya and Jaqen bring up friendship, balls (of feet) and throwing of a knife that is thin as a "little finger." Earlier, we had similar imagery in conversations involving Catelyn and Littlefinger.

Throwing the knife: “I would have told you that there is only one knife like this at King’s Landing.” He grasped the blade between thumb and forefinger, drew it back over his shoulder, and threw it across the room with a practiced flick of his wrist. It struck the door and buried itself deep in the oak, quivering. “It’s mine.”

(AGoT, Catelyn IV)

The knife burying itself in an oak might also relate to the imagery of Jaqen and Shagwell emerging from trees (see my previous post).

Bonus Kindly Man allusion! He will tell Arya to get rid of her sword, Needle, but she does not throw it in the canal with her other possessions:. . . Littlefinger flipped the knife casually end over end. “A sweet piece of steel, but it cuts two ways, my lord. . . . He tossed the knife lightly to Ned. “My counsel is to drop that in the river and forget that it was ever forged.”

Balls: Littlefinger smiled. "Leave Lord Varys to me, sweet lady. If you will permit me a small obscenity—and where better for it than here—I hold the man's balls in the palm of my hand." He cupped his fingers, smiling. "Or would, if he were a man, or had any balls.

Lost Melnibonean recently compiled some excerpts suggesting that the best way to obtain a dragon's egg is to sacrifice one's balls. I found this to be a great help in explaining the juggler motif and why jugglers might be important.

Bonus assassin foreshadowing! Ned worries about an assassin targeting Bran, but doesn't worry about Arya becoming an assassin: “My lady,” he said, turning to Catelyn, “there is nothing more you can do here. I want you to return to Winterfell at once. If there was one assassin, there could be others. Whoever ordered Bran’s death will learn soon enough that the boy still lives.”

Friends who are not friends (Catelyn to Petyr): “When your men came for me, I did not know whether they were taking me to a friend or an enemy. I have found you more than a friend. I have found a brother I’d thought lost.”

(AGoT, Eddard IV)

Notice that Catelyn does not say that she considers Petyr to be a friend; she says she has found him more than a friend. One of those ambiguous phrases GRRM likes to use, methinks. It could be read to mean that Catelyn is about to hand someone more important than a friend to this man who is manipulating her. Hmm. Who could be more important to Catelyn than a run-of-the-mill friend? The phrase, "I have found a brother I'd thought lost," might also have a double meaning. I don't know if it's a reference to Edmure (or maybe Brandon Stark?) or whether there will be a revelation about a long-lost Tully brother at some point.

I have long suspected that the author wanted us to compare Littlefinger and the Faceless Men, but I wasn't sure why. In addition to the posts here, they share a motif of coins - Jaqen gives Arya the FM coin and Littlefinger is the Master of Coin. Your posts are helping me to see that the hints all seem to converge on Harrenhal which has been promised to Baelish as the seat for his increasingly noble house. But your common Bael / demon / insane clown motif provides an even stronger rationale for the parallel Baelish / Jaqen / Shagwell characters.

It would not surprise me at all if the "real" Petyr Baelish went to Braavos after his humiliating duel with Brandon, dying of his wounds and heartsick over the loss of Catelyn, and died in the House of Black and White, leaving his face for use by the Faceless Men.

As I was pulling the excerpts about Littlefinger, I was interested to note that his knife seems to strike wood. Petyr throws it and the knife "buries itself" in the oak door, but Ned stabs it into a wooden table in the dagger's next appearance:

[Ned’s] hand curled around the smooth dragonbone hilt, and he slammed the blade into the table, felt it bite into the wood. It stood mocking him. “Why should Tyrion Lannister want Bran dead? The boy has never done him harm.”

. . .

Littlefinger sauntered* over to the table, wrenched the knife from the wood.

(AGoT, Eddard IV)

I think this might fit with the "mocking the gods" taboo - the trees are Ned's gods and Ned has just stabbed a wooden table. Petyr, of course, is associated with the mockingbird and a mocking smile. In this case, Petyr is the one to remove the blade from the wood. Is the message that Petyr is like Harren Hoare, cutting down weirwoods to build his dream home? Or is Petyr the weirwood itself - the god - and he doesn't like a worshipper who slams a blade into him? Or is Petyr a faceless man retrieving his knife because he is symbolically using it to assassinate Ned Stark, who is walking into his trap? Maybe Ned slamming the knife into the wood is just foreshadowing Ned's beheading with a Valyrian blade that will be slammed into his neck.

Still pretty complicated, but at least we're starting to know what kind of details to look for.

_____

*GRRM may have chosen the word "saunter" because of its pseudo-religious implication, strengthening the possibility that Ned's use of the dagger is related to mocking the gods: "Thoreau’s explanation for the word saunter: from à la Saint[e] Terre, describing pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. There goes a Saint[e] Terrer, a saunterer, a Holy Lander. But it was a false etymology, apparently spread from a book called Country Words, by S. and E. Ray, 1691. Although since the origins of the word were obscure, it might in fact be the true story."

Edited by Seams

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2 hours ago, Seams said:

As I was pulling the excerpts about Littlefinger, I was interested to note that his knife seems to strike wood. Petyr throws it and the knife "buries itself" in the oak door, but Ned stabs it into a wooden table in the dagger's next appearance:

I think it may be possible that the wood is symbolic of Bran. The Fattest Leach and I have been discussing the parallels between Bran and Pinocchio, who is of course a wooden marionette (which is manipulated with strings) and then there's the whole thing about sitting underneath a (Woden) tree. Any-who, Catelyn and Ned are trying to get to the bottom of "who" sent the blade meant to kill Bran (and injured Cat) and Petyr tries to pass the blame onto Tyrion. The throwing of the knife is a deflection of blame. The striking of wood means the accusation stuck, and Ned pulling out the knife and slamming it into the table indicates he believes it. The blade standing there mocking is Petyr because he knows he's sold them and they both believe.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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I had a kind of epiphany today with regards to Harren Hoare...at least I think so. 

Everything about the event that extinguished his family and burned his castle seems like the fire equivalent of the Long Night. Hoare's castle was said to have used a forest worth of weirwood trees for use as rafters and beams. Added to that was the blood of thousands of slaves that died in it's construction. Would the old gods have viewed this castle as "mocking"?  Hell, it was one huge F-U!

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21 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

I had a kind of epiphany today with regards to Harren Hoare...at least I think so. 

Everything about the event that extinguished his family and burned his castle seems like the fire equivalent of the Long Night. Hoare's castle was said to have used a forest worth of weirwood trees for use as rafters and beams. Added to that was the blood of thousands of slaves that died in it's construction. Would the old gods have viewed this castle as "mocking"?  Hell, it was one huge F-U!

But he not only built a Godswood, he built his capital on the edge of the GodsEye.

And anyway, Weirwoods love blood! 

What really has been nagging me is that Harren’s line is said to have “black blood” and so are the men of the Night’s Watch. 

Is there a connection there? 

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On 2/16/2018 at 3:07 PM, LiveFirstDieLater said:

But he not only built a Godswood, he built his capital on the edge of the GodsEye.

And anyway, Weirwoods love blood! 

What really has been nagging me is that Harren’s line is said to have “black blood” and so are the men of the Night’s Watch. 

Is there a connection there? 

I would think a person could easily make a list of mirrored parallels between the Long Night and Harren Hoare's castle. Here're just a few:

Icy White Walkers - Fiery Dragons

Night's King - Aegon the Conqueror Harren the Black?

Human child sacrifices - Greenseers uprooted

Nights Watch created to guard the Wall - Harren's family oversaw construction of a great fortress

Wall built to keep walkers out - Harrenhal burned down by dragons

Edited to add: thought of another one...

North of the Wall the dead rise as wights when the cold air rises. In the Riverlands the dead can be raised by blowing fire into their lungs.

Edited to add another thought: The Tourney of Harrenhal was more than "mocking" to the old gods. It would be like dancing on their graves.

 

Edited by Feather Crystal

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