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  1. Seams

    Was Gregor Guilty?

    I think the gods may not be disembodied magic figures in the sky, as characters believe them to be. I think there are gods mixed in with the characters - maybe some of the POVs are even "gods" - but we don't recognize them as gods. I offer an incomplete reading of some of the deeper literary stuff surrounding Ser Gregor. (As usual, skip all of my posts if you are not open to the idea that the author uses symbolism in the books.) Some background from other discussions of symbolism in the books: Tourneys in ASOIAF are about dynastic succession. Trials by combat are also part of this "game" of foreshadowing and symbolic hints about winners and losers. Colors are important symbols. There seems to be a special opposition between green and black (see the Dance of the Dragons) but I believe there is also a tension between green and brown. (Ser Bennis of the Brown Shield, from the Dunk & Egg stories, is my best source of info on "brown" characters although I haven't posted much about him yet.) I think this has something to do with Garth Greenhand vs. with dirt or earth or shit and may just be a fertility cycle of the plant and the earth needing each other for replenishing life. Ser Gregor may be a symbolic version of Dany's baby, Rhaego - or an inversion of that "offstage" character. Gregor was knighted by Rhaegar. His nickname is The Mountain that Rides. Baby Rhaego's nickname was The Stallion that Mounts the World. These nicknames are metaphoric opposites. Tyrion seems to be an important person at the center of the friendship and/or power struggle between Tywin / Aerys and/or between House Lannister and House Targaryen. Readers' suspicions of Tyrion as a Lannister/Targaryen chimera may never be fully resolved but it seems clear to me that the author wants us to have the chimera possibility in the backs of our minds. Bronn agreed to be the champion for Tyrion at The Eyrie. His opponent was Ser Vardis Egen, who is described as Jon Arryn's right hand. I believe Bronn represents a brown character and Ser Vardis represents a green character (anagram: Ser Vardis Egen = Greens Adviser, but could also be something about garden, etc.) In that combat, brown wins over green with the help of the statue of a grieving widow (= symbolic Lady Stoneheart). The seed is strong, though, from what I understand, and we may not have seen the last of green combatants. So Tyrion is found innocent. Does that mean that Tyrion is a brown character or that House Lannister is "team brown"? I don't think so. I think it does mean that brown is ascendant for awhile - Tywin tells Tyrion to go to King's Landing to serve as Hand of the King in Tywin's absence. Tyrion is still dependent on Bronn while he serves in that post - Bronn carries Tyrion up the serpentine steps when Tyrion is still recovering from his wounds at the Battle of the Blackwater. Do we get our next set of relevant symbols through Tyrion's trial after Joffrey's death? I don't think so. If trials by combat are part of the same set of symbols we see at tourneys, we have at least a couple or three other sets of data to examine. Sandor defeats Gregor, saving Ser Loras, at the Hand's Tourney. Joffrey's name day tourney falls to pieces, it seems. But does it really? Sansa and Sandor team up to "defeat" Joffrey, tricking him into sparing the life of Ser Dontos. Is this a three-part victory? (Sansa, Sandor and Dontos?) Ser Dontos later reveals himself to be a supporter of Renly, who is associated with green armor and the green House Tyrell associated with Highgarden and, therefore, Garth Greenhand. At Joffrey's name day tourney, Tommen goes on to be defeated by the straw dummy used for jousting practice. I think this may be a symbolic victory for green over brown. Penny and Groat engage in jousting at Joffrey's wedding feast. GRRM makes sure to scramble the mounts and the players so we are not sure whether the wolf or the stag is the winner. One mummer jouster loses his head (a melon) but grows a new one. (Like Ser Gregor and perhaps part of the green/brown fertility cycle I mentioned.) When Tyrion is on the ship with Penny, he notes that the shields used in the mummer jousting have been repainted many times, with layer upon layer of varied colors. After the Penny/Groat match at the feast, Joffrey asks Tyrion to be his champion but Tyrion declines. (Joffrey also throws wine on Tyrion which is what the wolf maid does to the night's watch brother in the feast scene Meera describes as a precursor to the Harrenhal tourney, an important and somewhat mysterious situation where the Knight of the Laughing Tree seems poised for victory but disappears, allowing Rhaegar to win the jousting.) There is probably wordplay around "champion" and "champignon." The latter is the French word for "mushroom." Tyrion will later stash poisonous mushrooms in his boot and use them to help free himself, Penny and Ser Jorah from slavery. I haven't thought much about mushrooms as part of the fertility symbolism with the brown / green but obviously fungus can thrive on dead organic matter so it might be a perfect fit for the green / brown symbolism. I do think that Tyrion declining to be Joffrey's champion but later deciding to become part of the jousting act (with encouragement from Penny) and taking mushrooms for his own use and protection (after declining mushrooms offered by Illyrio) show that Tyrion has come into his own: he is his own champion, not playing for someone else. But the next trial by combat comes before Tyrion gets to the mummer jousting or to those poisonous mushrooms. The champion for the Joffrey / Cersei side is Ser Gregor. I think Ser Gregor is a green character (anagram: Gregor Clegane = Green Grace log.) Tyrion asks Bronn to be his champion again but Bronn declines. What is Bronn's new priority? Becoming the head of House Stokeworth. I believe the fertility symbolism continues here, as the lands of House Stokeworth are the breadbasket for King's Landing. Much of the food supply for the city comes from this bannerman for the Crown Lands. The birth of Lollys baby (who was fathered by half a hundred rapists from among the smallfolk) reinforces the fertility motif. Cersei rejects a request to name the baby after Tywin and Bronn names that baby Tyrion. In a way, I think Bronn is still supporting Tyrion, just not as a combat champion. (Interestingly, Bronn kills Ser Balman Byrch to secure his place as Lord of the Stokeworth lands. Byrch caught the melon head of the dwarf mummer jouster at Joffrey's wedding feast. The other impediment to Bronn's Stokeworth takeover might have been Falyse Stokeworth but she is dispatched by Cersei and Qyburn as part of the long slow poisoning "death" of Ser Gregor.) Instead of Bronn, Tyrion is surprised to secure the services of the Red Viper, Oberyn Martell, as his champion. Green? No, I don't think so. The red in his nickname may signal that there is new symbolism at work here. As a viper, there is also snake symbolism which equates with dragons. So Tyrion seems to have a red dragon as his champion. What else is associated with Prince Oberyn? Poison. Oberyn Martell is an expert on poisons. We are told that the weapon he uses against Ser Gregor was contaminated with a special slow-acting poison intended to inflict an excruciating death. Instead of the green / brown fertility symbolism, we seem to witness a fight to the death between green and poison (red). It looks as if red will win but green rallies just in time to kill red. Gregor uses his thumbs to push in Oberyn's eyes. Eyes are associated with grapes (among other things) in ASOIAF so there may be that "throwing-wine-on-the-non-champion" symbolism again - popping grapes is a necessary step in making wine. But the bottom line is that we don't have a clear winner in this combat - both combatants seem to be losers. Soon after the combat, Tyrion climbs a ladder to Tywin's chambers in the Tower of the Hand. He enters the chamber through a secret door and then steps over a burning log in the fireplace. I think this scene is the reason for the "log" in the Gregor Clegane anagram I mentioned, above. This stepping over flames and emerging from the fireplace is a rebirth. Tyrion is reborn from smoke and fire. He also managed to climb the ladder without help from Bronn this time, underscoring the idea that Tyrion is now ready to be his own champion. Will he be brown? red? green? Do the mushrooms in his boot represent his "House," as the signet ring in Egg's boot did for Prince Aegon in the Dunk & Egg stories? There's more potentially relevant symbolism. A few weeks ago, a comment on another thread led me to see a parallel between Dany's dragons liberated from a dungeon by Quentyn Martell and Arya watching (we believe) Illyrio and Varys emerge from a chamber under the Red Keep. I believe Illyrio and Varys are symbolic dragons. Keep in mind that Quentyn witnesses the torture death of the Green Grace of Astapor, impaled on a stake like Ser Gregor before he manages to set the dragons free. Qyburn's role in torturing and beheading Ser Gregor and in butchering (maybe?) the puppeteers, Cersei's handmaid and Falyse Stokeworth also puts him within the circle of these related characters and symbols. Furthermore, he somehow revives the body of Ser Gregor as the new champion Ser Robert Strong, specifically designed to serve as Cersei's champion in her upcoming trial. The Martells get Ser Gregor's head but will it be like the mummer jouster's head in the dwarf act at Joffrey's wedding feast? Is Balman Byrch's fate after catching that head (actually a melon) a foreshadowing of the fate in store for Prince Doran? And you can peel back another layer of symbolism by going back to the Alyssa Arryn statue (Lady Stoneheart symbol) that helped Bronn defeat Ser Vardis. Sandor Clegane will have a trial by combat victory over Ser Beric. But Ser Beric soon hands over life and power to Lady Stoneheart and Sandor escapes and seems to become a gravedigger. Hmm. More dirt and earth and decay symbolism. Is he a brown character? When he gave Sansa his bloody cloak, was that like throwing wine on her as we have seen in other "will you be my champion" scenes? I know I'm one of the people who has raised this question around trials by combat as proof of guilt or innocence, but my thinking is evolving. It may be that these single combat trials are just part of a symbolic fertility cycle. It's not about who wins or loses, it's about seasons and the rebirth of life. With maybe some poison intervening to disrupt the cycle of life.
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    Was Gregor Guilty?

    Some previous discussion.
  3. The name Brynden is a clue about Brynden Tully. The obvious parallel is Brynden Rivers, also known as Bloodraven. Bloodraven wanted to marry Sheira Seastar (his half sister and another of the Great Bastards of Aegon IV) but she declined. I think Brynden Tully must also have a lover who declined to marry him for some reason. Like Bloodraven, however, he may also have a behind-the-scenes powerbroker role that is his major focus and he does not want responsibility for a House and family of his own. For some reason, Bloodraven made it his job to support the Targaryen king but not to seek glory for himself. Brynden seems similarly determined to support House Tully and/or House Arryn and its members.
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    Why don't the Kingsguard go full Praetorian Guard?

    Some of the answers to these questions might come from a close study of the Defiance of Duskendale and related bits of the narrative - the Dontos Hollard story and Brienne's quest and repainted shield. House Darklyn is strongly associated with the King's Guard. Understanding the qualities of House Darklyn will reveal more about the nature of the men who join the guard and their purpose in Westeros. I am inclined to believe the suspicions that Tywin Lannister put the idea into the head of Denys Darklyn that he should kidnap the king. There is something about the "shit for honor" phrase associated with Jaime / Kingslayer that may hold true for Tywin as well. If it's true that Denys Darklyn was acting in concert with Tywin, this would be a situation where the man from "House King's Guard" felt his alliance with the Hand of the King allowed him to take that risk to defy the king (although Denys didn't seem to want a full coup). Could Ser Barristan's miraculous rescue of King Aerys at Duskendale reflect a desire by Denys Darklyn to release the king without harm? Was Barristan's amazing feat so amazing, or did Darklyn let him succeed? There may also be some clues in the strange death of Arys Oakheart. He allowed himself to be persuaded to advance the interests of Myrcella over the interests of Tommen. Arianne is baffled by the illogic of Arys seeming to invite combat instead of standing down when the plot was foiled. What is it about being a member of the King's Guard that caused Arys to seemingly leap to his death by engaging with (other king's guard) Areo Hotah?
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    Pronunciations & Roy Dotrice

    Yeah, you have to just put up with some of the odd ways he decided to pronounce names. Bri-eene was a big irritant (I think he changes it to Bree-en in a later book). Myr is another one, as I recall. I think he says "Mire." His initial choice of accent for Missandei was widely criticized and he changed it. I agree that he should have been provided with guidance on pronunciation early in the process of recording the audio.
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    Kevan and Pycelle’s death

    My comments were intended to shed light on the "for the children" motive mentioned in the OP. Because the deaths of Kevan and Pycelle were compared to the deaths of Aegon and Rhaenys, I threw in information I thought was relevant to that situation. You are mistaken if you thought I was trying to change the focus of the thread. But no reason to get all italicized and bolded and even underlined. If you want to discuss a different topic, there is no charge for starting a new thread. Run along now.
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    Kevan and Pycelle’s death

    @frenin and @lehutin I do not want to derail this discussion, which focuses on the deaths of Kevan and Pycelle. I encourage either one or both of you to start a new thread on whether trials by combat are predictive of guilt or innocence. I bet others would like to discuss the examples you cite.
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    Kevan and Pycelle’s death

    Um, well. It's fiction so I don't actually believe in trials by combat, no. Within the context of GRRM's world, however, I have come to suspect that trials by combat (and Trials of Seven) really do give us clues about guilt and innocence. This aligns with examination of jousting and other tourney winners and losers. Those contests seem to indicate how the Game of Thrones will play out for the next generation or two. And tourneys are a special example of the larger game of thrones symbolism in the series, with cyvasse, lord of the crossing, come into my castle, monsters and maidens and other games providing clues about conflict and victory for the characters.
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    Kevan and Pycelle’s death

    I've been turning over in my mind this "for the children" motivation, and I think you have both raised some really interesting points. What struck me is not a parallel between the deaths of Kevan and Pycelle with the deaths of Aegon an Rhaenys, but a parallel between Kevan/Pycelle and the deaths of Craster and Lord Commander Mormont. We suspect that Craster's sons are being turned into wights or White Walkers or Others. What if the "for the children" phrase evokes a parallel to these monster "children" beyond the Wall? Bolstering the ranks of a force set to invade Westeros? I can see Varys as part of a huge scheme to undermine the entire civilization. Craster and L. C. Mormont are killed by Night's Watch mutineers, a double-cross, sort of like the Lannister bannermen killing the royal family and/or Varys killing two fellow members of the small council. But there are details that tell us that the deaths of Craster and Mormont are inflicted with specific symbolism in mind. As is often the case, this is a little convoluted: Remember when Asha finally reveals that she is Theon's sister? To show him how tough and Ironborn she is, she tells him that an axe is her wedded husband and a dirk is her suckling babe. The axe is part of a throwing and catching game played by the Ironborn, so we know we are getting a big hint about the Game of Thrones when Asha skillfully catches the axe in mid-air. I think it's fair to say that Varys is engaging in the GoT when he takes out two of the Lannisters' key game pieces, Kevan and Pycelle. The guy who kills Craster is named Dirk. In other words, Craster is killed by a suckling babe. He is maybe even (symbolically) killed by an envoy of Asha Greyjoy. (But I need to see more chapters about Asha to understand why that might be the case.) Very nice catch. Love this. The mess of brains and wax also evokes that Asha scene with the axe and the dirk. I believe Asha uses the axe to destroy the bread trencher filled with chowder that Theon has in front of him, splashing chowder all over the nice outfit Theon selected to wear for the feast. I have suspected that this foreshadowed the castration of Theon and that may still be true. But there is also bread / beard wordplay. The destruction of the loaf of bread in front of Theon is probably connected to the cutting of Pycelle's beard in the earlier situation where Tyrion confronts Pycelle. Remember the reason for Tyrion's anger toward Pycelle? The maester revealed the secret plan to create an alliance by marriage through Princess Myrcella; a plan that resulted in Myrcella being sent to (we believe for a time) a safe place away from the Battle of the Blackwater, bread riots and other threats around King's Landing. I believe Tommen and Myrcella (not Kevan and Pycelle) are parallels for Aegon and Rhaenys. More on the "for the children" line of thinking: I don't want to leave out the kitchen sink, so I will also say that I don't believe Gregor Clegane killed the baby prince or raped Elia. My only evidence for this, really, is that he technically survived the trial by combat with Prince Oberyn. If he were guilty of the crime to which he confessed, he would have died. I think he confessed because he was still honoring a promise to keep the secret of the survival of the prince and the queen. So Young Griff and Septa Lemore are looking more and more legit to me. I'm not sure what to do with this "evidence" but I think it's also important that Ser Gregor was knighted by Prince Rhaegar. Is he the only person we know of who was knighted by Rhaegar? There is a kind of magic handed down from the person doing the knighting to the person receiving the knighthood. Somehow, I don't think Gregor could have killed Rhaegar's family. Vague, I realize. I hope to put together more pieces about this knighthood magic over future re-reads. On a similar note, Sandor Clegane wins the trial by combat with Beric Dondarrion, proving that he did not kill Arya's friend, Mycah. Mycah is the butcher's boy, and butcher kings are an ongoing motif in the books. Recall that Mycah was forced to engage in "combat" with Joffrey Baratheon. Mycah's supposed death takes place near the Ruby Crossing of the Red Fork, where Robert killed Rhaegar. I think Mycah is a symbolic Rhaegar. I admit, I can't reconcile the description of Mycah's body slung over the back of Sandor's horse with the idea that Sandor didn't actually kill Mycah. Maybe my hunch about the truth of "verdicts" in trial by combat is completely wrong. Or maybe Mycah only symbolically survives or he is reborn - a very convenient excuse for all of my theories that might not pan out! Anyway. This "for the children" phrase could be a major key to working out some of the symbolism that weaves together disparate characters and threads.
  10. Nice find! It certainly fits with the Odysseus theme of Tyrion's travel interlude. The things that strike me about the ancient mythological Geryon are the three heads (or three bodies) and the beast combination that goes with the griffin, sphinx, Dany's baby and other combo monsters in ASOIAF. The three heads / bodies creates a nice parallel with "the dragon has three heads" phrase that seems so meaningful in Targaryen family lore. Does the lion also have three heads? On board the Shy Maid, when Tyrion sews himself a suit that becomes a suit of motley (traditional fool's clothing), it has a vibe to me like these monsters that are a combination of paws, tails, wings, beaks, etc. Maybe Tyrion is "becoming" Gerion / Geryon during his travels? Hmmm. Not sure that works, though, if he is also Odysseus. This might explain why Penny's dog is called Crunch.
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    Which minor spin-off story would you like to see?

    1) A series of Brotherhood Without Banners stories, with some gruesome Beric deaths and revivals. Soul-searching by Thoros, perhaps with Anguy as his closest confidant. 2) Stories from "occupied" Winterfell, focused on the servants and smallfolk as they operate behind the scenes with House Bolton nominally in charge. Is Old Nan calling the shots? Are there alliances with Lady Dustin and Lord Manderly? 3) More about the mountain clans in the Vale.
  12. Great topic and an excellent use of excerpts as documentation. There are a lot of vanishing uncles in the series, and Gerion is one of the most interesting. There is a knight-fool duality in ASOIAF, with Florian the Fool as an archetype but Ser Dontos, Ser Duncan the Tall, Brienne, Penny and Groat and Tyrion all playing around with the contrast and connection between knights and fools. Gerion, as the laughing lion and as the man who tries to bring out the fool in Tyrion, seems to be part of this motif and it puts him at odds with Tywin (although I don't see Tywin identified strongly with the knight part of the archetype). The laughing associated with Gerion may also be associated with House Baratheon or with specific members of the Baratheon line: Robert's ancestor during the Dunk & Egg era was known as the Laughing Storm. As you point out, the Lann the Clever connection for Gerion may be a big part of the point for his inclusion in the story. I think there is a tension among the descendants of Lann the Clever, The Storm King and/or Durran Godsgrief, Garth Greenhand and Bran the Builder. My reading of Gerion giving Robert a dagger as a wedding gift is that it revisits a conflict between the Storm Lord and Lann the Clever. The handle of the dagger is ivory, which is derived from animal tusks. Eventually, Robert will be killed by an animal (boar) tusk. Was the dagger a foreshadowing of Cersei Lannister's role in assisting Robert to his death? (The sapphire pommel on the dagger may be connected to the Jaime / Brienne relationship. Not sure how that relates back to Gerion, however.) I have to admit, I also see a possible wordplay hint about the ivory / tusk weapon: Gerion seeks the sword Brightroar. Could there be a hint here about the right boar? The boar is the sigil of House Crakehall, Lannister bannermen. I suspect we are about to see some action from a Crakehall or two, particularly in connection with Gatehouse Ami. Boars are often present at the deaths of kings. The Lannister connection to boars could tell us that they are not shy about slaying kings. GRRM plays around with balanced and divided forces: Tywin encouraging only Kevan and Gemma to remain close and not finding a way to maintain good relations with Tygett and Gerion may be a clue about an imbalance that becomes an Achilles Heel for Tywin. What are the qualities represented by Tygett and Gerion that could have served Tywin at strategic moments in his life? By contrast, why do Jaime and Tyrion both like Gerion so much? But Gerion is a player in other balances and imbalances: marriages and pregnancies or offspring are important because they can bring about balance if done correctly, or imbalance if not thought through properly. Aside from marriage, alliances such as the relationship of Lord and bannerman, Lords and wards, or treaties between Houses can also create balance or imbalance. As you point out, Gerion provides commentary on the death of Joanna Lannister, a moment when Tywin lost his balancing force. And Gerion is the father of the only character in the series to be named Joy. Tywin saw Joy as a good pawn to use in creating an alliance with House Westerling; for personal reasons, Jaime does not see that as a good match at all. There has to be a symbolic connection between Gerion's daughter, Joy Hill, and the Tower of Joy. Wish I knew what it was. The other tension between Tywin and Gerion seems to be that Tywin, in spite of his years of service at King's Landing, is very oriented toward Casterly Rock while Gerion wants to travel. Joffrey taunts his grandfather by reminding him that he hid under Casterly Rock while King Robert was out fighting Robert's Rebellion. When Tywin throws a tournament in honor of Prince Viserys, he hosts it in Lannisport. He makes great efforts to divert Jaime back to Casterly Rock to assume the lordship and become head of the House. When he discourages Tyrion from traveling, he instead assigns him to oversee the sewers at Casterly Rock. Tywin's use of the term "fool's quest" is significant both in underscoring Gerion's status as one of GRRM's fools but also because it is explicit about Gerion undertaking a quest (while Tywin shows contempt for such an effort). Jaime sends Brienne on a quest to find Catelyn Stark's daughters. Tyrion finally fulfills his dream of traveling like Gerion - is his sojourn a quest? I think it is. There is strong Odysseus imagery as Tyrion reaches Essos and he repeats his, "Where do whores go?" phrase as if it is the purpose for his journey. It is ironic that these words came from Tywin - in a way, Tywin has sent Tyrion on his quest even though he sees travel as a waste of time and money.
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    Qhorin Halfhand was Ser Arthur Dayne - Revisited.

    Another set of clues is attached the shy maids in the books. I believe that Asha refers to herself as a shy maid and, perhaps most importantly, Tyrion travels with other key players aboard a boat called The Shy Maid. While aboard the Shy Maid, there is a passage where Griff / Jon Connington is described as single-handedly performing the Night Watch. While he does so, he tends a fire ....
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    Qhorin Halfhand was Ser Arthur Dayne - Revisited.

    Very interesting! As you point out, though, the role of protector / deliverer at the Tower of Joy is shared by three members of the king's guard: Arthur Dayne, Oswell Whent and Gerold Hightower. I would surmise that GRRM ascribes a specific role or power to each of these characters: for instance, one could be a protector, another could be a deliverer of royal babies. Or one could have magic power, another could have combat power and the third could have the power of, I don't know - love? blood? self-sacrifice? In other words, even if we accept that the mountain cave/tunnel and the Tower of Joy are transitional spaces for delivering a royal child, I don't think there is enough specific information to know what Arthur's role was in making the delivery. I'd have to do a re-read to see if there are clues that pin down the part he plays, and whether they match Qhorin's role at the mountain tunnel. Another thought about deciphering Qhorin: In an Arya analysis a few months ago, there was a little discussion of the parallels between or among Qhorin / Yoren / The Norrey and, possibly, Dareon. Links here and here, if anyone wants to pursue them. I'll also throw in one of my wordplay notions. I believe that GRRM uses some words from non-English languages to enrich his wordplay. In the case of the sword Dawn, I suspect that he has made a connection to the German word "Wand," which means wall in English. Just before he dies, the armorer and smith Donal Noye "gives" the Wall to Jon Snow. This may be the symbolic presentation of the sword Dawn to its new heir and would provide us with an additional candidate for a reborn Arthur Dayne. Donal: Jon, you have the Wall till I return. Jon: My lord? Donal: Lord? I'm a blacksmith. I said, the Wall is yours.[13] —Donal Noye to Jon Snow
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    Qhorin Halfhand was Ser Arthur Dayne - Revisited.

    I stopped checking in with this thread because I saw no details in Qhorin's story that matched up with Arthur Dayne. I figured it was better to say nothing at all, since the connection simply does not exist for me. But I respect your approach and I see a possible point around the shy maid on her wedding night as a clue to Qhorin's real or symbolic identity. (I am much more likely to buy into a symbolic rebirth of a character instead of a literal "incognito" Arthur Dayne starting a new life in the Night's Watch. Although more on that in a moment.) To establish a strong connection between the characters, it would be important to look at other details we know about Qhorin: the maimed hand, he leads a ranging, he sends Jon Snow up the side of a cliff with Stonesnake, he leaves it up to Jon Snow to decide whether to kill Ygritte, he requires the rangers to eat oatmeal made with the blood of a sacrificed horse, he requires Jon to repeat his Night's Watch vow, he requires Jon to agree to kill him, he asks Jon whether his sword is sharp, he compares fire to a beautiful maid on her wedding night, he leads Jon through the secret mountain tunnel and delivers him to Rattleshirt. The only possible match I see between Qhorin and Arthur Dayne would require a lot of inference: if you compare the Tower of Joy to the mountain with the tunnel, you could make a case that Arthur delivered the baby Jon Snow to Ned Stark through the Tower of Joy (or Prince's Pass) portal in a way similar to Qhorin delivering the NW brother Jon Snow to the Lord of Bones. I don't see a huge amount of supporting detail for this and, as I say, there are some leaps of inference. But I'll grant the possibility. We don't have any indication that Arthur Dayne is maimed and we don't hear of him leading a hero on a journey. There is no horse sacrifice connected to his history, as far as I can recall. Vows could be important to Arthur - he does grant knighthood to Jaime Lannister. Is the knighting of Jaime comparable to delivering Jon Snow to the Free Folk? I don't see an immediate parallel but I guess I could be persuaded if there are details connecting the ceremonies. Sorry to say, but I also fail to see evidence for the "importance of unity" theme you see as the likely overarching theme of the series. That seems too optimistic for the messages I see in GRRM's writing and not consistent with the "bittersweet" outcome he has promised for the series. My current thinking is that a major theme will be "tend to your garden," like Voltaire's Candide. Garth Greenhand is our first major clue for the gardening motif but it echoes through Robert telling Ned in the crypt that Highgarden and peaches are the best part of going south in Westeros, Jon Arryn's "the seed is strong," the destruction of the glass house at Winterfell, etc. To me, the title A Dream of Spring strongly suggests the return of the growing season and says nothing about unity. But I digress. I also think it is unlikely that we will see an explicit explanation of who did what at the Tower of Joy, or a big reveal of all of the "disguised" characters who have taken new names or been symbolically reborn to continue their roles as mummer versions of themselves. I think a lot of this will be indirect and we will be uncovering hidden connections and arguing theories for years to come. There are also characters we will never see or encounter directly: Jon Arryn, King Aerys, Arthur Dayne, Howland Reed, Maggie the Frog. Flashbacks and dreams of living characters are the only doorways through which we will directly glimpse these legendary figures - and we know that unreliable narrators are likely to distort what we see or know. There are symbolic rebirths, however. If we want to know more about Arthur Dayne, there may be reborn or parallel figures who can give us some insight. Where we do agree is on the @sweetsunray's point about justice as a major theme. When we meet Ned Stark, he is administering the King's Justice, executing a deserter. In spite of his confession and an assurance that he can take the black, Ned is eventually beheaded with Ice, underscoring for the reader that justice is relative or, perhaps, altogether missing. This may be inference on my part, but I suspect that the sword Ice is somehow missing half of its self: Just + Ice should be the completed pair, but "Just" is nowhere visible in the story. We know that Ned Stark delivered the sword Dawn to House Dayne after Arthur's death. We also know that swords can be split because we see Tobho Mott deliver to Tywin the swords that will be Oathkeeper and Widow's Wail. I don't think Ned literally reforged a sword called "Justice" to create "Just" and "Ice," but the symbolism could be present in his handling of the two swords: like "Justice," the sword Dawn disappears from the story when Arthur Dayne dies. Only "Ice" remains and it is a sword that is used in unjust ways. If you accept that justice is a major ongoing theme, I believe this can help to point out a more likely candidate for a "reborn" Arthur Dayne: Ser Ilyn Payne, the King's Justice.
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