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  1. Maybe product placements would cause me to put down the book: Arriving dusty and tired at the inn at the crossroads, Tyrion sat down to the meal set before him. "I'm sick of wine," he said in a loud voice. "Bring me a flagon of Mountain Dew!" Like many young women of her circle, Sansa was delighted by the prospect of new clothes. "You may tell the dressmaker I will not need her for a fitting this afternoon," she told her handmaid. "Me and 'Randa are going to The Gap and Foot Locker to see what's new for fall."
  2. Very good point! House Arryn already has blue in its sigil, but they get to possess some of the purest sapphire blue as well.
  3. I wonder whether the return to Oldstones is a clue about Catelyn / Stoneheart's after-death religion? Before death, Catelyn is strongly associated with the rainbows that are cast by crystals associated with the Faith of the Seven. After her death, the colors seem to be broken into separate teams. I have been trying to figure out the symbolism of the color brown, and Oldstones is the seat of House Mudd. At The Twins, Petyr Pimple Frey falls in the mud when Grey Wind snaps at this horse. Catelyn and the BwB kill Petyr Pimple but pretend to be holding him for ransom, luring Merrett Frey to Oldstones and then killing him as well. (There is a ton of mud, shit and brown symbolism associated with specific characters. If anyone wants to start a thread, I'd be interested.) I suspect it is significant that Catelyn's body is pulled out onto a river bank, which would be muddy place. The two legendary characters associated with Oldstones are Jenny of Oldstones and King Tristifer Mudd. As a kid, Catelyn played the role of Jenny while playing with Petyr Baelish. Tristifer is memorialized in his sarcophagus which bears his stone image and runes that are no longer legible. Catelyn has turned to Lady Stoneheart and can no longer speak, perhaps implying a parallel to King Tristifer. Oldstones is located near the headwaters of the Blue Fork of the Trident. A recent insight for me is that the "red" and "green" teams are competing to team up with the "blue" team. Brienne is the bluest character, and she swears fealty to Catelyn. The Tully sigil is a field of blue and mud red, so maybe Catelyn already possesses blue and red - Riverrun is located on the Red Fork of the Trident. But Catelyn dies on, and her body is thrown into, the Green Fork. But we know that Brienne feels conflicted about her oath, now that Catelyn is dead and after developing some respect for Jaime. Anyway, I could chase endless relevant tangents and color associations. My point here is that Lady Stoneheart's religion might be attempting to reunite the colors as they had been united in the rainbows cast by the crystals before her death. Instead of rainbows, however, combined colors for her result in brown mud or conflicted and combating separate streams of color.
  4. My bad. I am overdue for a re-read.
  5. Would it be ok if I become the president of your fan club? I think you have hit on some important insights here, the gist of which is dualism and the nature of religion after death. There are little odds and ends of each religion that GRRM puts before us but doesn't fully explain. I think they go to a duality in each religion: If Melisandre is so devoted to the red god, the power of fire, and holding off the dark of the night (which is full or terrors), why does Stannis focus on praise for her ability to make shadows? Thoros has no idea why he is able to revive Ser Beric after death. He instinctively tries some things and is surprised that they seem to "cure" Dondarrion and bring him back to life. The Stark children climb trees and play in the branches, but they also spend a fair amount of time underground, in the Winterfell crypt. Underground is where roots grow. When Theon returns to Pyke, his uncle Aeron confronts him about whether he has become "green" and then re-baptizes (I know that's not an ASOIAF word but it describes the ritual) him with seawater, taking him back for the Drowned God. As Theon kneels, he thinks about the dirt on his breeches as the seawater cascades over his head - unlike most young men dedicating themselves to the drowned god, he has not walked into the sea for the ritual, he is kneeling on land. There are details that create a parallel between this moment in Theon's story and the story of Torrhen Stark who knelt for Aegon the Conqueror. A Catelyn POV tells us that there is a door between life and death. The crone can look through that door and ravens can fly back and forth through the door. The direwolves somehow appear south of the Wall. I know that the wolves are not explicitly religious representatives, but they seem to be part of the old gods milieu that is unique to the faithful House Stark. The pups are found near a bridge. I didn't really group the direwolf pups with this list of unexplained religious incidents until you pointed out that the direwolf Nymeria is the one who pulls Catelyn out of the river, allowing the Brotherhood without Banners to discover her corpse. Furthermore, I think there are a couple of gods that have been downplayed but may be playing a strong role in the lives of some characters. As some of the comments here have pointed out, Ser Beric Dondarrion is the Lightning Lord and may be an heir of the Storm God. I know that House Baratheon ostensibly took this title and bloodline, but I think it may be like Garth Greenhands, where House Gardner gave way to House Florent and House Tyrell and maybe some others that claim to be the true heirs. Dondarrion sounds like Durrandon, the House seat is in the stormlands, they predate the conquest and the sigil has storm-related imagery. I think the heir of the storm god is a key role in ASOIAF and the author has covertly worked it into plot lines. Who will succeed Robert Baratheon and/or Beric Dondarrion? When she returns to Riverrun, Catelyn sleeps in her father's ornate carved bed with lots of fish and river imagery. Although everyone knows that Edmure is the heir, Catelyn POVs remind us that she was raised to be the heir before the birth of Edmure. I think sleeping in Hoster's bed is an immersive experience for Catelyn in an undescribed river religion, much like the seawater blessing renews Theon's connection to the drowned god. GRRM has made a point of saying that there are still followers of the old gods in the riverlands but we know that House Tully (and Catelyn in particular) is all in for the new gods. But what if there is not just a weirwood element at the center of the old gods, but also a river aspect? It would be consistent with the Tully cremation ritual, which takes place on a river. Catelyn may not consciously acknowledge that she is having a religious experience, but the proof may be in her later "what's dead can never die" resurrection from the river. So what is the larger point? I think GRRM may be giving us a flip side to each religion that becomes the focus for devout people who have died. We have been looking at the old gods as if it is all one religion but I think GRRM makes a distinction between branches/leaves and roots. As you point out, the "throne" of the Brotherhood without Banners is in a hollow hill and is made of roots. The above-ground tree is no longer relevant; it's all about the roots. This could explain a lot of Patchface's after-death explanations of things under the sea - he is describing the underside of religion. Thoros is such an unusual character. He doesn't seem like a major role-player, but we know that he was first through the wall at Pyke (along with Ser Jorah) during the Greyjoy Rebellion and that he won the melee at the Hand's Tourney. Crossing a wall is a big deal in ASOIAF and probably represents a symbolic death or, like a raven, the ability to travel back and forth through the door between life and death. I think Thoros gets his power to revive certain dead people from that special moment of breaching the wall at Pyke. But he probably can't revive just anyone. He revives the heir of the storm god who, in turn, revives the heir of the river god. (With help from a direwolf.) But you also cite that key scene where Brienne is recovering from being hanged by the Brotherhood without Banners. In my opinion, she died during that hanging - for real or symbolically. She then goes underground with Thoros and he tells her that he is no longer the same priest he used to be, he feeds her, she loves the food and she feels a renewed strength. So how does Thoros have the power to revive Brienne if he can (my theory) revive people only if they are heirs of the ancient deities? Brienne is not the storm god and, if Catelyn is the river god, then Brienne probably cannot be the river god at the same time. I'm not sure yet what kind of god Brienne might be, but the possibilities are tantalizing. We know she is a descendant of Ser Duncan the Tall, and he was compared to The Warrior (as was Daemon Blackfyre). Brienne could easily be the new embodiment of The Warrior, but she could also be The Maiden. Maybe her strong association with sapphires is a clue: Melisandre uses rubies to conjure the illusion that a "dead" man is a glamour; could sapphires also project a magical body or appearance of revival? When Brienne shows up at Pennytree and persuades Jaime to come away with her, he has just observed the complicated root system snaking out from the tree. Has he and/or Brienne just crossed over to the root aspect of the old gods religion? Jaime's companion to this destination was Hoster ("the hostage") Blackwood, from a House associated with dark magic and the old gods because of Bloodraven's maternal roots. There may be another element that is emerging from the evidence here: people who observe elements from more than one religion. Theon flows over the Walls of Winterfell with the Ironborn (followers of the drowned god) but he comes up from the Dread Fort dungeon (where roots live) under the escort of Little and Big Walder (root eaters - Bran sent them a dish of turnips at the harvest feast). So he has elements of the Drowned God but also the Old Gods in his death / rebirth / belief system. (When he was growing up at Winterfell, he remembers hiding his treasures in the gods wood.) Catelyn follows the new gods but married into a family following the old gods. She doesn't feel at home in the gods wood at Winterfell but I think she is the POV who tells readers about the water that flows between the double walls of the castle - the river is there, but hidden. She is from the Riverlands and the author has told us that belief in the old gods remains strong there among some people. After her death, she takes over the throne of roots hidden in the hill.
  6. Interesting and fresh topic! I think we could learn a lot from closer examination of ships and their crews. From what I can see, the wiki doesn't see an issue with the timeline for the two activities of Old Mother's Son - attacking the Green Galley and crashing on Skagos: https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Old_Mother's_Son If I were sorting out Arya's conversation with the oyster-eating sailor, I would interpret it as a veiled description of the death of Renly. Renly is associated with green - he has green armor, he uses a green Tyrell cloak in his wedding to Margaery and he is closely associated with the Tyrells, who are the current heirs of Garth Greenhand's Highgarden. So the death of the captain of the green galley could allude to him. We know that Renly was killed by one of the so-called shadow babies, strange beings born by Melisandre and possibly fathered by Stannis. Melisandre could be the old mother, as we know that she has practiced her art for "years beyond count" and may be hiding her age through some kind of dark magic. So the "Old Mother's Son" could be an indirect way of describing a shadow baby. Not sure who the big Valyrian would be in the attack on Renly, unless it is Stannis who has some Targaryen blood. I know I just set out the case on another thread that Sallador Saan is a symbolic or reborn echo of Shiera Seastar, and that he appears at a moment when GRRM wants to balance out the power play by Melisandre who has just burned the wooden figures of the seven gods made out of masts from Targaryen ships. If Saan is the anti-Melisandre, how could an attack by Sallador Saan represent Melisandre's murder of Renly? I think we are reliving the Blackfyre Rebellions in various ways in the series. The Old Mother's Son is also a reference to a pirate queen who was one of the Ninepenny Kings and therefore part of the 5th Blackfyre Rebellion. Shiera Seastar was desired as a lover by both Bloodraven and Bittersteel, leaders of the two sides of the rebellion. We know that she slept with Bloodraven but she refused to marry him. We don't know much about her relationship with Bittersteel because the victors write the histories. Another illegitimate child of Aegon IV was Danelle Lothston. She stayed neutral during the Blackfyre Rebellions except for the second, which plays out in the Dunk & Egg stories. The second rebellion was the only one not supported by Bittersteel. In other words, the Great Bastards switched sides on a whim or messed with each other and with the succession. Saan's attack on the green galley may be a sign that he has allied with Melisandre on some level. That doesn't ring true to me, based on the conversation he has with Ser Davos after the mast burning. We know that the attack on the green galley occurs after Saan seems to have given up on Stannis and gone off to focus on his pirate work. Maybe the killing of the green captain is not so much an allusion to Renly as a larger symbolic moment of "the death of green." We have seen the death of Lommy Greenhands. Could be an allusion to the end of summer. But your larger examination of mutiny and piracy could all still be valid. As always with ASOIAF, lots of layers of meaning and hints of things to come.
  7. It is an important symbol. I'm still trying to tease out the meanings and uses of colors as symbols but someone (sorry, can't remember who) pointed out awhile ago that the thing that appears the the end of a storm is a rainbow. Renly's relationship to Storm's End helps to put his Rainbow Guard into new perspective. After his death, his rainbow guard was shattered: Royce and Cuy (red and yellow) immediately slain; a couple gone over to Stannis but then slain in the Blackwater (Caron / orange and Morrigen / green) ; Crane (purple) taken prisoner. Most of the destruction of the Rainbow Guard was inflicted by various Tyrells. (Except for Philip Foote, who is from the Westerlands, slaying Caron. Haven't yet got a good handle on foot symblism.) What else did the Tyrells do? Ser Loras buries Renly's body at Storm's End. Is the symbolism telling us that House Tyrell is destructive of rainbows, or are they guarding rainbows - keeping them away from Stannis and others? Is Renly's body the legendary pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? By fighting to take over Storm's End, the Tyrells seem to be further engaged in this symbolic battle over rainbows. My first attempt at analyzing rainbow symbolism is in this thread. An updated discussion should definitely incorporate Storm's End into analysis of the larger motif.
  8. Saan meets up with Davos Seaworth right after the burning of the icons of the 7 gods, which are made out of masts of ships. This is a really important moment in the Stannis / Davos / Melisandre arc. I think Melisandre resembles Danelle Lothston. GRRM does things to balance or juxtapose forces or characters. After the burning of the masts, he needed a character to balance out Melisandre. Who shows up but Salladhor Saan, dressed in cloth of silver and with the blue and green eyes of peacock feathers on his hat - the cloth of silver and blue/green eyes are specific attributes of Sheira Seastar. (Of course, the peacock could be a metaphor for Bloodraven, with his thousand eyes and one. But the details match Sheira. The ship name prominently mentioned in Salladhor's scene with Davos is Bird of Thousand Colors. I suspect the thousand is a Bloodraven allusion again. The colors are a rainbow allusion - associated with Renly - and a contrast with the shadows associated with Melisandre. Birds could be another Bloodraven allusion but the bird symbolism in ASOIAF is pretty complex so it could imply another pie being cut open, like the pie at Joffrey's wedding feast that preceded his death, or it could be like the little birds associated with Varys as the ship is carrying news from King's Landing.) Because Davos is the POV who has the strongest affinity with the sea, a "patron saint" associated with Seastar seems appropriate. Davos ends up being very skeptical of Melisandre, but he manages to stay alive, unlike Cressen. It would not surprise me at all if there is dark magic associated with the rebirth of Davos after his drowning in the Black Water. Something similar happened to revive Patchface, who was brought to Westeros after Steffon Baratheon failed to find a bride for Rhaegar during his trip to Essos. It was one of Salladhor Saan's ships that picked up Davos from the rock where he was stranded in the Blackwater. The rivalry between Renly and Stannis is somewhat comparable to the rivalry between Bloodraven and Bittersteel. I think GRRM is using the earlier family trio (Bloodraven / Sheira Seastar / Bittersteel) to drop some hints about the current family rivalry. In the later trio, however, the role of Sheira may be split into Davos / Cressen / Salladhor Saan / Patchface - all Stannis loyalists. The strongest parallel, based on his apparel, is Sheira / Salladhor. In the books published so far, Salladhor seems to be giving up on Stannis, finally, after sticking with him through some tough setbacks.
  9. I think the name is supposed to emphasize the "share a sister" situation with both Bloodraven and Bittersteel as her lovers. Duncan: You've known queens and princesses. Did they dance with demons and practice the black arts? Aegon: Lady Shiera does. Lord Bloodraven's paramour. She bathes in blood to keep her beauty. She bathes in blood and apparently dances with demons and practices the black arts. Not flaws necessarily, but not your typical Pollyanna character. I know there is at least one determined forum participant who believes she has made appearances as Quaithe. I don't take a position on that, but I do see echoes of Shiera Seastar in an interesting character: Salladhor Saan, the Lysene pirate. The Shiera / Bloodraven / Bittersteel triangle is an example of a pattern that GRRM uses over and over again with trios of characters bonded by love and hate. So I try not to get hung up on liking or disliking the character of Shiera but instead try to figure out how the author uses her story to drop hints about other characters and their relationships.
  10. The Smiler or the Slayer? GRRM often gives us pairs of what seem to be opposites or, at least, alternatives: fire and ice, shaggy and sharp, bitter and sweet, blood and water, iron and silk, shadow and rainbow, etc. In the excerpt cited, Stannis appears to be offering Jon Snow the chance to pick a new Lord for Winterfell: Justin Massey (a smiler) or Richard Horpe (a slayer). This is the only place in the series where the two words are presented as a pair of alternatives. That is not unusual in GRRM's set-up for symbolic motifs - the "shaggy / sharp" pairing is noted by Bran when he contemplates the bearded and clean-shaven stone carvings of Stark lords and kings in the Winterfell crypt. Many characters throughout the novels are described as having sharp faces or shaggy features, but there is only one clue that these details are uniquely paired or juxtaposed. Similarly, although Massey and Horpe are paired in the scene with Stannis and Jon Snow, we have other characters who are smilers and slayers. Notably, Theon Greyjoy finds everything amusing and has a cocky smile. Theon has a horse he named Smiler, purchased from the Ironborn Lord Botley with the requirement that Theon take on Wex Pyke as his squire as part of the deal. Samwell Tarly is nicknamed "Slayer" after he defeats an Other using a dragonglass blade. Ser Godry Farring, is part of the circle of devout red god worshippers / Queen's Men with Massey and Horpe. He is nicknamed Godry the Giantslayer after killing and beheading a fleeing giant in the battle beneath the Wall. Jaime Lannister is known as the Kingslayer. Tyrion Lannister comes to be known as a kinslayer. The Karstarks accuse Robb Stark of being a kinslayer. And what about possible wordplay clues, with House Bolton famous for removing the skin layer from their enemies? Theon the smiler loses a number of skin layers to the flencing knife of Ramsay Bolton. And then there are passages like this: So what do you think of the smiler / slayer symbolism? What is GRRM trying to tell us? I have a few ideas and I want to throw out one tangled set of clues that may help us to sort out the motif. Godry Farring's nickname may be a key: "Godry the Giantslayer" offers some tantalizing anagrams that contain the word "Targaryen." Like the late Castle Black smith, Donal Noye, Godry has a niello brooch and he battles a giant - Noye and his giant killed each other in the tunnel beneath the Wall; Godry stabs his giant in the back. Maybe we will cover giant symbolism another day, but I suspect they may symbolize Targaryens. Godry also drags "Mance Rayder" (actually Rattleshirt) to the cage where Melisandre burns him as a sacrifice to R'hllor. This starts to get complex, and you can take it or leave it, but Mance Rayder is often interpreted as a symbolic Rhaegar figure in Jon Snow's arc. Godry believes he is helping to kill Mance Rayder. Recall that Donal Noye was the smith at Storm's End before he joined the Night's Watch after losing an arm. Noye made the warhammer that Robert Baratheon used to kill Rhaegar Targaryen. Godry is a close buddy of Richard Horpe, the guy that Stannis characterizes as a slayer (because of his fondness for war). In the battle beneath the Wall, it appears that Horpe killed Dormund, the son of Tormund Giantsbane. (Tormund identified his sigil - three death's head moths.) Earlier in the novels, Dormund had joined in with others in his family to sing along with Ygritte when she sang "I am the Last of the Giants" for Jon Snow. The tall Night's Watch brother Small Paul is wighted after dying in combat with one of the Others. Sam Tarly tries to kill him with his dragonglass but the blade is ineffective. He instead uses a flaming log to attack Small Paul and this is effective in stopping and "killing" the wighted Small Paul. Is Small Paul a kind of giant? Are there different kinds of slayers, some who use obsidian or blades, and others who use fire? One more giant-related thought: Jon Snow is worried that Stannis will try to force Val to marry Massey or Horpe. When another of the Queen's Men, Ser Patrek of King's Mountain, tries to get close to Val, he is brutally killed by the giant known as Wun Wun.
  11. Sorry. I worry I have belabored this idea so many times that people are sick of it. I will try to explain in a nutshell. I believe GRRM uses puns and wordplay as part of his structure and system for organizing the books. For example, one of the obvious puns is on "heir" and "hair," and helps the reader to recognize the initial conflict over the king's heirs being recognized as bastards because of their hair. But there is complicated and rich wordplay around this series of related words: ice / eyes / Ei / Eisen The first two words are in English. The next are German words: Ei means "egg" and "Eisen" means "iron." This is a central bit of wordplay that GRRM has used to link important symbols - eyes, swords, eggs and iron. The Stark family sword is Ice, of course. When Catelyn looks at Ned's bones laid out at Riverrun, she notices the absence of his sword and his eyes. There are also characters with eyes like ice - Roose Bolton and possibly the blue eyes of the Others. The symbolism is greatly enriched if you accept the link to eggs. There are very significant moments when characters eat or destroy eggs or give them to another character. Of course, dragon eggs are the magical seeds from which traditional Targaryen weapons of mass destruction are hatched. The possibilities are endless, once you start to look at eyes and ice and eggs and iron in relationship to each other: Bloodraven's a thousand eyes and one, the three-eyed crow, Dany's three dragon eggs, the Iron Throne. If weapons, power, visual perception and hatching or eating eggs are linked, how is the family with the Ice sword linked to the family with the egg weapons? I mentioned Pod's inflamed eye (called a sty) and the inflamed cut near Jaime's eye because we know we are supposed to be searching for a flaming sword. Melisandre claims that Stannis has it but Maester Aemon says the sword is not right. Thoros of Myr uses a trick to set his own sword on fire. When two linked (through Brienne and/or Ser Ilyn) characters have inflamed eyes, this seems to me like a clear signal from the author that we should put them into the category of possible parallels for Azor Ahai - a guy with a magical flaming sword. But Dany's eggs hatch when she gets the magical combination just right in a flaming funeral pyre - is this a similar instance of a flaming "Ei"? Instead of an inflamed eye or a flaming sword, the weapons are dragon eggs in fire. I have never been a believer that GRRM is going to unveil a single Azor Ahai figure who will save the day (or even just kill his/her spouse) with a magic sword. I think that a number of characters will reenact the major symbols from that story in different variations on the themes.
  12. Can you site evidence from the books to support this? GRRM made a point of mentioning that Edmure protected the smallfolk, allowing them to take shelter in the courtyard at Riverrun. I suspect this is a hint about how the Tullys will be restored to their seat - he has earned the good will of the smallfolk. Littlefinger grew up at Riverrun when the Blackfish was still based at that location. He would have had years to observe Littlefinger and to know some of the important incidents in his background - the duel with Brandon Stark, possibly the sexual exploration with Cat and Lysa. He may even know why Hoster took in Littlefinger as a ward - this is a mysterious decision by the Lord of Riverrun and may be a revelation GRRM is holding for later in the series. If you go back to my earlier post, the basis for this prediction about Brynden's role vis-a-vis Littlefinger is that there are parallels between Brynden and Ser Barristan. Because Barristan exposes and encourages the exile of the traitor Jorah Mormont, I could see a similar role for Brynden at the Eyrie. It's not an absolute in my mind, but I did offer a basis for my thinking. This is your thread and you can take whatever tone you want in replying to comments. If you reject comments out of hand, however, without offering thoughtful alternatives, the dialogue is not enhanced. Your threads will last longer and elicit more discussion if you give the appearance of open-mindedness and respect for others. Fixed. Thanks.
  13. Robb was born at Riverrun. We don't hear much coherent information from the lips of Hoster Tully but he does say that Robb has his (Hoster's) eyes. We saw that Catelyn, who had initially been raised as Hoster's heir, was able to call her father's bannermen at the inn at the crossroads. So I believe that Robb had a unique appeal to the nobles of the Riverlands, especially when he was at Riverrun in the company of his mother and uncle Edmure and great uncle Brynden. As for the next king accepted in the Riverlands, there may be clues for us in the story of Torrhen Stark bending the knee to Aegon the Conqueror. Torrhen sends his bastard half-brother, Brandon Snow, across the Trident River to negotiate with Aegon. Once the terms are worked out, Torrhen crosses the river in the morning and kneels before Aegon the Conqueror, pledging his fealty. I think it's significant that Torrhen makes sure that Aegon does not cross the river and set foot in The North. I suspect also that there is symbolic importance in Torrhen sending Brandon Snow across the river - crossing a river has symbolic importance in ASOIAF and cannot be done unless authorized or accompanied by someone with the power to cross rivers. (Recall that Robb Stark was angry with Edmure when Edmure stopped the Lannisters from crossing the river: Robb wanted them to cross so he could clobber their army and he needed Edmure to allow that to happen.) Tullys have the power to cross rivers or, in the case of Catelyn, to negotiate with a Frey to allow passage across a river. Robb may have some of that Tully power because of his birthplace or his Tully heritage. (On the other hand, Tyrion's forces prevent Robb from crossing the river at an earlier stage of the war. Maybe Robb acquires his prowess at a later stage.) Jon Snow spends a lot of time in rain and snow, but rivers? He passes behind a waterfall with Qhorin, and that is super significant. Presumably it is Qhorin's mojo that allows Jon to cross this water. Is there a stream in the tunnel where Jon Snow makes love with Ygritte? He sees the source of the Milkwater, but he is on a mountain looking down at it, as I recall. So I don't think Jon has the power to cross rivers in his own right. (He might have it after he comes back from death, however.) Among other characters or Houses with river crossing power, House Manderly also seems to have the magic. When Good Queen Alysanne visits The North as part of her royal progress, she enters by way of White Harbor and House Manderly. Anyway. Back to the Blackfish. I believe we are supposed to see Brynden "Blackfish" Tully as sharing qualities with his namesake, Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers. Bloodraven was loyal to House Targaryen and worked all kinds of behind-the-scenes maneuvers to keep them in power. I noted in an earlier comment that I think the Blackfish will be loyal to House Arryn, after years of devoted service as the gatekeeper to the Eyrie. I imagine the Blackfish will work to liberate and restore House Tully, too. He was the one who shot the flaming arrow that finally completed the necessary funeral ritual for Hoster Tully's cremation. That symbolic role for the Blackfish, along with the reconciliation of Hoster and Brynden before Hoster's death, may signal that Brynden is carrying the Tully magic at the moment: perhaps a sort of "regent" role as head of the family. Edmure failed three times to light his father's funeral boat. I don't see much subtext that connects the Blackfish and Jon Snow. The Blackfish guarded the Moon Gate and the Night's Watch guards the Wall. In the explanation of his "Blackfish" nickname we are told that it arises from the notion of the "black sheep" in the family. There are some sheep associations for Jon Snow (he wears sheepskin when he is with the wildlings). But there are lots of walls and gates and people who wear wool in ASOIAF. If the two characters were going to come together, I would hope for a stronger theme or motif or legend that would foreshadow an alliance. At one point, I remember wondering whether the Blackfish had refused his brother's orders to marry and make an alliance because he already had a secret love. I wondered whether that love could be Lyanna based on the thin premise that it would be delightful irony if Catelyn hated Jon Snow but her uncle loved Jon Snow's mother. The age difference between Lyanna and Brynden makes this unlikely, unless it was just a one-sided crush by the Blackfish. But he doesn't seem the type to pine for unrequited love. (On the other hand, I do see him as similar to Ser Barristan.) On the whole, I don't see Brynden Tully playing a big role in steering the Riverlands toward a successor to Robb Stark as king. I see him either protecting Sweetrobin, restoring Edmure as Lord of Riverrun and/or defeating Littlefinger. Or all of the above.
  14. Thank you for this. I am a subscriber to the idea that tourneys and melees provide foreshadowing. Brienne's victory at the melee at Bitterbridge is largely motivated by her anger at the men who had placed bets on who could take her maidenhead. With "beheading" a sign of a major conflict between Houses or between an individual and the King's Justice, I imagine that taking a maidenhead against a person's wishes could have major repercussions. Interesting that the final person she defeats in the melee - Ser Loras - had no interest in Brienne's maidenhead, but was willing to sell out his sister's maidenhead in order to advance the interests of House Tyrell. I'm sure he was happier with Renly instead of Robert as his sister's spouse, though. Of course, Renly was not interested in Margaery's maidenhead, either, except that it allowed the alliance with House Tyrell. After Brienne wins the melee, she become a symbolic third spouse for Renly, when he puts the blue cloak of the Rainbow Guard over her shoulders.
  15. I think this may be a very useful insight. Jon Connington is similar to Ned, but he is also similar to Littlefinger: (After a fashion) He pines for his first and only love, Catelyn Stark, who was betrothed to House Stark. Connington pines for Rhaegar. Like Rhaegar, Catelyn dies over or in the Trident River. Just as Connington is raising Rhaegar's child, Littlefinger is "raising" Catelyn's child as his own, including using hair dye to hide the child's identity. Littlefinger seems to have a complicated rivalry with Varys. (Connington's feelings about Varys motivated this thread.) I keep thinking about the dragonbone-handle dagger that cut Catelyn and then cut Varys. It belonged to Littlefinger. I believe Baelish is a descendant of Princess Elaena, sister of King Baelor. So there is a whiff of Targaryen restoration motivation in his inscrutable machinations. Connington also believes he is working toward a Targaryen restoration. While in Braavos, the father and/or grandfather of Baelish may have married into the Blackfyre line, to try to keep a strong Targaryen bloodline going for future efforts to regain the throne. If so, the exiled and disgraced Blackfyre story parallels the Connington drunk/dead/disinherited story that Jon Con resents and (it seems) blames on Varys. The appointing of Littlefinger as Lord of Harrenhal and the return of Connington to Griffin's Roost may be a parallel. I suspect that there is wordplay by the author around griffin / finger. Sansa is nicknamed Little Bird. So I'm seeing a different possibility than your suggestion of separate Ned / Littlefinger and Connington / Varys parallels. I think Ned, Littlefinger and Connington are in one basket, for the most part. But it's not quite a perfect fit. For instance, if Sansa is a little bird, and she is being manipulated by Littlefinger, that puts Littlefinger back in the Varys basket, instead of the Ned / Jon Con basket. Ah, but it's not Littlefinger who refers to her as a little bird, it is Sandor Clegane. So maybe more insight is gained by comparing Sansa to Young Griff / Aegon? Both are suddenly thrown in with Tyrion. At Jon Con's direction, Tyrion writes a book about dragons (presumably to instruct Young Griff). Sansa is getting a crash course on the Winged Knight, courtesy of Robert (Sweetrobin) Arryn's demands for bedtime stories. Sansa appears to be on course to interact with Harry the Heir, better known as Harrold Hardyng. You can take it or leave it, but I suspect that the red diamonds in the Hardyng sigil symbolize dragon teeth: Sansa's potential betrothal to Hardyng symbolizes a link to the "blood of the dragon" (or, at least, the teeth of the dragon). If possession of a dragon is the Targaryen Holy Grail, Young Griff / fAegon could achieve dragon possession by teaming up with Dany and Sansa could achieve "dragon" possession by teaming up with Hardyng. (I admit, I would need to see more of Harry the Heir to ascertain just how a symbolic dragon parallel might work in his arc. I am intrigued, though, by the idea of Petyr Baelish with a convoluted and tenuous Targaryen pedigree telling us the story of Harry's convoluted and tenuous Arryn pedigree. A parallel here could explain why GRRM expended so much ink on Baelish telling that story to Sansa.) Besides the shared experiences with Tyrion, I wonder whether there are parallels for the people surrounding Young Griff and people in Sansa's arc? Septa Mordane and Septa Lemore could be directly compared. Septa Mordane teaches Sansa to sew; Septa Lemore helps Tyrion to sew a custom-made motley outfit. What about Haldon Halfmaester, Rolly Duckfield and Yandry and Ysilla? I originally thought the Shy Maid name of the riverboat referred to Sansa. Using the Search of Ice and Fire website at one point, however, I found that Asha Greyjoy refers to herself as a shy maid. So I'm not sure whether the name is a Sansa allusion or not. Arya sails on a ship called the Titan's Daughter, and that does seem like a reference to Sansa as Alayne: the Baelish sigil is the head of the Titan of Braavos.
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