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  1. The eastern sky was rose and gold as the sun broke over the Vale of Arryn. Catelyn Stark watched the light spread, her hands resting on the delicate carved stone of the balustrade outside her window. Below her the world turned from black to indigo to green as dawn crept across fields and forests. Pale white mists rose off Alyssa's Tears, where the ghost waters plunged over the shoulder of the mountain to begin their long tumble down the face of the Giant's Lance. Catelyn could feel the faint touch of spray on her face. Alyssa Arryn had seen her husband, her brothers, and all her children slain, and yet in life she had never shed a tear. So in death, the gods had decreed that she would know no rest until her weeping watered the black earth of the Vale, where the men she had loved were buried. Alyssa had been dead six thousand years now, and still no drop of the torrent had ever reached the valley floor far below. Catelyn wondered how large a waterfall her own tears would make when she died. "Tell me the rest of it," she said. AGoT, Catelyn VII The sudden bull rush caught Bronn off balance. Ser Vardis crashed into him and slammed the lip of his shield into the sellsword's face. Almost, almost, Bronn lost his feet … he staggered back, tripped over a rock, and caught hold of the weeping woman to keep his balance. Throwing aside his shield, Ser Vardis lurched after him, using both hands to raise his sword. His right arm was blood from elbow to fingers now, yet his last desperate blow would have opened Bronn from neck to navel … if the sellsword had stood to receive it. But Bronn jerked back. Jon Arryn's beautiful engraved silver sword glanced off the marble elbow of the weeping woman and snapped clean a third of the way up the blade. Bronn put his shoulder into the statue's back. The weathered likeness of Alyssa Arryn tottered and fell with a great crash, and Ser Vardis Egen went down beneath her. Bronn was on him in a heartbeat, kicking what was left of his shattered rondel aside to expose the weak spot between arm and breastplate. Ser Vardis was lying on his side, pinned beneath the broken torso of the weeping woman. Catelyn heard the knight groan as the sellsword lifted his blade with both hands and drove it down and in with all his weight behind it, under the arm and through the ribs. Ser Vardis Egen shuddered and lay still. AGoT, Catelyn VII The weathered statue of Alyssa Arryn may also evoke Catelyn's scene with Robb at the weathered sarcophagus of King Tristifer Mudd, the pre-Andal king of the Rivers and the Hills. Catelyn as Lady Stoneheart will go on to become associated with a river (Green Fork) and a (Hollow) hill. "He died in his hundredth battle, when seven Andal kings joined forces against him. The fifth Tristifer was not his equal, and soon the kingdom was lost, and then the castle, and last of all the line. ..." ASoS, Catelyn V
  2. Quaithe / The Quay / the key / King's Landing Old Nan / Olenna
  3. @Megorova I have a birthday present for you. (You can read it now, though, if you like.) For those who have been hiding under Casterly Rock and have not yet seen any posts about it, Megorova is THE proponent of the theory that Dany's mysterious guide, Quaithe, is a manifestation of Shiera Seastar, one of the Great Bastards of Aegon IV Targaryen and half-sister / lover of Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers and Aegor "Bittersteel" Rivers. Megorova also says that Quaithe / Shiera is the Three-Eyed Crow that appears to Bran during his coma. In one of my musings on wordplay, it occurred to me that Quaithe might be a barely-hidden anagram of "The Quay," if "quai" is an alternate spelling of "quay." So I checked online and found confirmation that "quai" is indeed one spelling of the more familiar "quay," which is a word for "a structure built parallel to the bank of a waterway for use as a landing place." Synonyms are jetty, pier and wharf and some definitions specify that a quay is made of stone. So I'm obviously already wondering about wordplay on "quay" and "key," and thinking of the key that Pate takes from the gauntlet hidden under the bed of Maester Walgrave. There is also a miniature portrait of a beautiful blonde woman in with the key and gauntlet. Could that portrait be an image of Shiera? I'm also thinking of Catelyn's POV about her return to Riverrun with Robb, Greywind and Theon. There is great correlation between the details of the boat crossing the river ("pass beneath the shadow," etc.) and Quaithe's advice to Dany about how to get home. When they reach the castle, Theon lifts Catelyn out of the boat and sets her on a stone landing. Of course, the jewel in the crown here is that the Targaryen-buillt capital is called King's Landing. A quay is a boat landing and, in ASOIAF, The Key / Quay is King's Landing. So we need to pay attention to quays. (Note: I figured out at some point that "fell" is a word for a type of "seam" in sewing. So Winterfell is a type of seam in the fabric of Westeros and now we know that King's Landing is a kind of stone pier. Very different types of features on the landscape but probably both important in journeys to / from the Otherworld.) But here's why this may be especially relevant for the Quaithe / Shiera theory. For the latest piece of analysis of wine symbolism, I had taken a look at grapes and returned to the meeting of Salladhor Saan with Davos at an inn on a stone pier. I have found that inns tend to be magical places where important events can occur or characters can meet up in significant ways - not for nothing is the inn at the crossroads a location where major events occur more than once, for instance. In details of Salladhor Saan's clothing, as well as in his affinity for grapes, I saw allusions to both Shiera Seastar and Bloodraven. (Tl;dr - Saan and Shiera both wear cloth of silver with blue /sapphire and green / emerald ornaments; Shiera has blue and green eyes, iirc. Saan also wears peacock feathers in his hat, which probably alludes to Bloodraven's "a thousand eyes and one" reputation. There are more connections in the links.) Because I am hung up on the Salladhor = Shiera / Bloodraven theory, it seems like great confirmation that this now connects to Megorova's Quaithe = Shiera theory through the stone pier. If Quaithe = The Quay / key, it has to be important that Davos meets Salladhor Saan at an inn on a quay (stone pier). The conversation between Salladhor Saan and Davos gives us the story of Azor Ahai, a major figure from Westeros legend that may serve as the model for the central hero's story in ASOIAF. It seems more likely that we would hear this tale from a major figure such as Shiera or Bloodraven instead of just a bit player pirate friend who doesn't seem like a central character in ASOIAF. The meeting on the stone pier also gives us a prolonged scene where Saan eats grapes, which are symbolic eyes in GRRM's series of metaphors comparing fruit to body parts. Because eyes are important symbols in ASOIAF (the three-eyed crow; the blindness of Maester Aemon and Arya / Blind Beth; the single eye of Bloodraven, Crow's Food Umber and Timett son of Timett, among others; etc.) the connection between Saan and Bloodraven / the Three Eyed Crow seems to be strengthened by the grape scene. I have a lot more thinking and writing to do about grapes / wine, but I think we can connect one more important teller-of-legends and maker-of-prophecies to this Salladhor Saan and Quaithe connection: - Grapes are the sigil of House Redwyne. - Olenna Redwyne, the Queen of Thorns, is the major Redwyne character in ASOIAF. - I think there is a parallel between Olenna and Old Nan, the nanny (and possibly a wet nurse at some point) for generations of Stark children. - Aside from the wordplay similarity (Old Nan similar to Ole Nna), they are both physically tiny crones. I believe they are both playing the Game of Thrones but possibly for an older throne that predates the Iron Throne. Both seem to be using a young person (Bran for Old Nan, Margaery and possibly Sansa and others for Olenna) as their game pieces. - At one point, I speculated that Old Nan was the catspaw (or the puppet master behind the catspaw) but I have also put her forward as a candidate for the Three Eyed Crow. (A bit off-topic, perhaps, but recall, too, that Arya uses the name Nan for a period of time and we know that Arya will become a Faceless Man assassin. Old Nan would be an amazing Faceless Man and reuse of the Nan face by a series of Faceless Men would explain why she seems to live on for many generations beyond a normal lifespan.) (Sorry, no links because many of my old posts seem to be too old to be reached by the search function of this website. If I am able to find the old posts, I will add links.) - If the Grapes = Olenna Redwyne = Old Nan equation is accurate, we can link Old Nan to the Bloodraven / Shiera / Salladhor Saan storytellers / prophecy makers.
  4. I have also been writing about the cycle of birth and decay and the need to maintain a balance between them.
  5. A closer look at grapes is helping me to reach a better understanding of wine in ASOIAF and in the Dunk & Egg stories. It's not the first mention of grapes in the books, but the meeting of Davos Seaworth and Salladhor Saan at the inn on the stone pier is an important moment for unlocking grape symbolism. Across the noisy common room, Salladhor Saan sat eating grapes from a wooden bowl. When he spied Davos, he beckoned him closer. "Ser knight, come sit with me. Eat a grape. Eat two. They are marvelously sweet." The Lyseni was a sleek, smiling man whose flamboyance was a byword on both sides of the narrow sea. Today he wore flashing cloth-of-silver, with dagged sleeves so long the ends of them pooled on the floor. His buttons were carved jade monkeys, and atop his wispy white curls perched a jaunty green cap decorated with a fan of peacock feathers. ...The dwarf has chased off the lout who ruled the gold cloaks and put in his place a knight with an iron hand." He plucked a grape, and squeezed it between thumb and forefinger until the skin burst. Juice ran down between his fingers. ... Do you know the tale of the forging of Lightbringer? I shall tell it to you. It was a time when darkness lay heavy on the world. To oppose it, the hero must have a hero's blade, oh, like none that had ever been. And so for thirty days and thirty nights Azor Ahai labored sleepless in the temple, forging a blade in the sacred fires. Heat and hammer and fold, heat and hammer and fold, oh, yes, until the sword was done. Yet when he plunged it into water to temper the steel it burst asunder. "Being a hero, it was not for him to shrug and go in search of excellent grapes such as these, so again he began. The second time it took him fifty days and fifty nights, and this sword seemed even finer than the first. Azor Ahai captured a lion, to temper the blade by plunging it through the beast's red heart, but once more the steel shattered and split. Great was his woe and great was his sorrow then, for he knew what he must do. "A hundred days and a hundred nights he labored on the third blade, and as it glowed white-hot in the sacred fires, he summoned his wife. 'Nissa Nissa,' he said to her, for that was her name, 'bare your breast, and know that I love you best of all that is in this world.' She did this thing, why I cannot say, and Azor Ahai thrust the smoking sword through her living heart. It is said that her cry of anguish and ecstasy left a crack across the face of the moon, but her blood and her soul and her strength and her courage all went into the steel. Such is the tale of the forging of Lightbringer, the Red Sword of Heroes. "Now do you see my meaning? Be glad that it is just a burnt sword that His Grace pulled from that fire. Too much light can hurt the eyes, my friend, and fire burns." Salladhor Saan finished the last grape and smacked his lips. (Clash, Davos I) That passage blew my mind, when I finally put it together. Salladhor Saan tells Davos that it would have been easier to for Azor Ahai to get some grapes instead of forging Lightbringer, but he was a hero so he had to take the more difficult route and forge a magical sword again from scratch. Really, Salladhor? Getting some grapes is the equivalent of forging Lightbringer? Of course, I love any hint that the pun on "Ice" and "eyes" is a valid way of decoding symbolism in the books. If grapes symbolize eyes and swords lead back to the Stark great sword Ice then, in ASOIAF, grapes make some sense as the equivalent of swords. Compare Saan's Azor Ahai remark to this moment in The Hedge Knight: A visor is a weak point, he remembered Steely Pate saying. The prince had all but ceased to struggle. His eyes were purple and full of terror. Dunk had a sudden urge to grab one and pop it like a grape between two steel fingers, but that would not be knightly. "YIELD!" he shouted. "I yield," the dragon whispered, pale lips barely moving. Dunk blinked down at him. For a moment he could not credit what his ears had heard. Is it done, then? He turned his head slowly from side to side, trying to see. His vision slit was partly closed by the blow that had smashed in the left side of his face. He glimpsed Prince Maekar, mace in hand, trying to fight his way to his son's side. Baelor Breakspear was holding him off. (The Hedge Knight) Dunk wants to be knightly, so he refrains from popping the eye of Prince Aerion "Brightflame" Targaryen. Why do knights and (in Saan's tale) heroes eschew grapes or the popping of grapes? We know Salladhor Saan is a pirate and a smuggler and that he eats grapes. Is a pirate the opposite of a hero? Or of a knight? Is a winemaker the opposite of a hero? Or the opposite of a smith, who makes swords? But this is actually one of those lovely vague interludes that GRRM likes to give us, where it is not clear whether Dunk is talking about Aerion's eyes being purple and full of terror, or his own eyes. We think we know he is talking about Aerion's eyes when he next tells us that he wants to pop one. Certainly he could not be talking about himself because only a lunatic would have the urge to pop his own eyeball. Oh but what about Timett son of Timett, a mountain man of the Burned Men clan, who burned out his own eye with a hot knife? Timett is a warrior, although he's not a knight, and he earned the respect of his clan for undertaking the most horrifying kind of self-maiming when he put out his own eye as a coming-of-age ritual. So we may need to remain open to the possibility that Dunk was (in a literary sense) talking about popping his own eye. (Remember the earlier comparison between Dunk and Oedipus, who also blinds himself.) And then we learn that Dunk's vision is impaired as a result of his combat with Aerion: the slit in his helmet is partially occluded by a dent in his helmet. So his eye may not have popped, but he has suffered a loss of vision (as well as having the side of his face smashed, perhaps similar to Sandor's face being burned and Brienne's face being eaten by Biter). Not to overwhelm everyone with literary analysis, but I also see Salladhor Saan as a parallel for, or a manifestation of, Bloodraven. (Or maybe a parallel of Shiera Seastar. Or both.) We know that Bloodraven lost an eye in single combat with Bittersteel. Here we have Dunk losing his vision in battle with Prince Aerion. Bloodraven also seems to be a guide for Bran in using the "third eye" that he opened at the urging of the Three-Eyed Crow. And Salladhor Saan tries to get Davos to eat a grape and then tells Davos that grapes are an easier alternative than forging Lightbringer to end the long night. Could the grape remark be Saan's way of telling Davos to simply open his eyes? If we have another Long Night in the books, will the darkness come to an end when the right person opens his or her eyes? A reminder of another couple of puns may also be in order here. Davos does not eat grapes with Salladhor Saan during their conversation at the inn. He does drink ale, however. In one of my old reflections on wordplay, I wondered whether "ale" and "lea," the Spanish word for "read," could be a deliberate pun. In the books, Davos goes on to conquer his illiteracy and learn how to read words. Another wordplay pair is "words" and "sword." So Davos reading words may be the equivalent of Azor Ahai making a sword. Harder than eating a grape but perhaps more fruitful, so to speak. This is enough for one post but the grape symbolism obviously also involves House Redwyne (their sigil is a bunch of grapes and the first mention of grapes in the series) and other grape growers and eaters in the books. And then there's this: Prince Oberyn moved closer. "Say the name!" He put a foot on the Mountain's chest and raised the greatsword with both hands. Whether he intended to hack off Gregor's head or shove the point through his eyeslit was something Tyrion would never know. Clegane's hand shot up and grabbed the Dornishman behind the knee. The Red Viper brought down the greatsword in a wild slash, but he was off-balance, and the edge did no more than put another dent in the Mountain's vambrace. Then the sword was forgotten as Gregor's hand tightened and twisted, yanking the Dornishman down on top of him. They wrestled in the dust and blood, the broken spear wobbling back and forth. Tyrion saw with horror that the Mountain had wrapped one huge arm around the prince, drawing him tight against his chest, like a lover. "Elia of Dorne," they all heard Ser Gregor say, when they were close enough to kiss. His deep voice boomed within the helm. "I killed her screaming whelp." He thrust his free hand into Oberyn's unprotected face, pushing steel fingers into his eyes. "Then I raped her." Clegane slammed his fist into the Dornishman's mouth, making splinters of his teeth. "Then I smashed her fucking head in. Like this." As he drew back his huge fist, the blood on his gauntlet seemed to smoke in the cold dawn air. There was a sickening crunch. (Storm, Tyrion X)
  6. Agreed. Whatever their current location, I suspect that Robb's remains were not given a "proper" burial (for the Starks, that means being laid to rest in the crypt at Winterfell with a stone carving and a sword). Leaving these remains in an incomplete and/or un-entombed state facilitates a rebirth. I believe that GRRM uses a variation on the Celtic view of rebirth, where a person can be reborn in a baby within his own family and preferably a baby with the same name. Rebirths in ASOIAF are even more diverse and much more literary, but we can pick up on clues. For instance, Ned Stark's bones have also been kept out of the Winterfell crypt. We see shades of Ned "reborn" in characters such as Dolorous Edd (Eddard - Ned - Edd) and Rattleshirt (a man who wears the bones of his enemies is an ironic rebirth for a man whose bones are missing). A fairly clear rebirth for Robb Stark is the Borroq skinchanger character who shows up with his boar and is the last wildling through the gate when Jon allows the Free Folk to take refuge at Castle Black. Boars are associated with the death of kings in ASOIAF and I believe boar is the main course being served at the Red Wedding when Robb is killed. Borroq calls Jon "brother" when they meet. He and his boar live in the lichyard (graveyard). Joffrey made a couple of references to wanting Robb's head and he said he was going to make Sansa eat it. I am lately putting thought into GRRM's close association of fruits and body parts, and have been thinking about Sansa's blood orange damage from her breakfast with Arya, Ser Dontos hitting Sansa over the head with a melon morning star, and the breakfast with Littlefinger where Sansa passes over the pommegranate but takes a bite from a pear and finds juice running down her chin. I suspect that the Ser Dontos incident with the melon morning star is a clue for us about Robb's head: the situation arises because Joffrey is punishing Sansa for Robb's combat victory at the Whispering Wood, as I recall. Melons = heads in GRRM's system of fruits and body parts. There may be wordplay in the pear Sansa eats during the meal with Littlefinger: "pear" and "pair." She takes on the new identity of Alayne at that point so she has a "pair" of heads - the Stark identity associated with the melon from Ser Dontos (and Robb?) and the "natural daughter" identity from the pear eaten with Petyr Baelish. I do suspect that Robb's remains were eventually thrown in the river, like Catelyn's remains. Robb was born at Riverrun and Hoster Tully said that Robb had his eyes. So I think Robb has a strong association with rivers, even though he is technically a Stark. There are many references to crossing rivers or being unable to cross rivers in the Catelyn POVs associated with Robb's military successes and his doomed monarchy. To get some handle on the river symbolism, think of the River Styx and its role as the boundary around the Underworld. There is foreshadowing in Edmure Tully preventing Tywin's army from crossing the river and inadvertently blowing Robb's entire battle strategy - I think this is telling us that Tywin will end up "winning" over Robb because Tywin is prevented from crossing but Robb crosses the river and then can't get back (because the Freys control the bridge). Rivers are often associated with rebirth in literature, and we certainly see Catelyn being reborn after her body is thrown in the river. We may also see a rebirth of sorts for Hoster Tully as Jaime has taken on the traveling companion of Hoster the Hostage Blackwood in his duties in the Riverlands. I'm excited to see what GRRM has in store for us with characters such as Raynald Westerling who falls in the river but apparently survives and crawls away after the Red Wedding.
  7. I think all of the details here are very important. Not sure whether there is foreshadowing, but there are some likely parallels or echoes that might help us to understand the meaning behind the symbols. Two other notable characters who use morning stars are Brienne when she wins the melee (defeating Ser Loras, among others) at Bitterbridge and Ser Dontos, who clobbers Sansa with a ripe melon morning star in an attempt to distract and assuage Joffrey, who wants to inflict serious violence on Sansa. Brienne and Ser Dontos are both Renly supporters, for what it's worth. On her quest in the Riverlands, Brienne catches Pod in the ruins of the ancestral home that was the birthplace of Ser Dontos. I believe Pod takes on some of the identity or attributes of Dontos when this happens. People have remarked on the football symbolism (American football, known as "gridiron" in other countries, I am told) hidden in the Wun Wun and Ser Patrek conflict: GRRM is apparently a fan of the New York Giants team and he has a friend named Patrick who is a fan of the Dallas (Texas) Cowboys. The symbol associated with the Texas team is a single star (blue and silver team colors) - just like the sigil for the House of Ser Patrek of King's Mountain. So the knight turning into a morning star has an added layer of meaning. I may be misremembering, but I think Ser Hugh of the Vale, the young knight killed in the Hand's Tourney by Ser Gregor, also had a sigil of stars. The knight losing his sword arm has to be a Jaime Lannister allusion. But the smith Donal Noye also lost an arm and was also killed by a giant. Sweetrobin Arryn also swings his doll like a weapon, destroying the wall on the snow version of Winterfell built by Sansa / Alayne and Littlefinger. The statue of Alyssa Arryn in the courtyard at the Eyrie has also lost an arm. If I were forced to guess right now, I would say that there are "necessary" elements that have to occur in order to fulfill the repeated story lines as legends bleed into history and then replay again in current events. A giant or true knight using a morning star, a knight losing his sword arm, a bleeding star (comet?), a doll as a weapon. The "menaced by vegetables" line is another clue for us. I think there is a cycle in ASOIAF of vegetables (green, flora) vs. black or brown. Or maybe it's just a cycle of green being reborn under new management, so to speak. I think we are seeing the rise of vegetarian giant Wun Wun and the fall of bloodthirsty Ser Gregor ( = the Mountain = King's Mountain?) in another chapter. Ser Patrek is a Queen's Man, meaning he is loyal to Selyse Florent, whose House wishes it ruled Highgarden and the Reach. Renly is associated with green (his armor, his love for Ser Loras of the green-sigil Tyrell family) so the ascendance of his followers Brienne and Ser Dontos could show a rebirth of Renly-style green in those arcs. But I'm sure there's more to it.
  8. My word choice was not good here. I think the author often gives us deliberately ambiguous bits of information as a way of showing us that he wants to juxtapose two characters or to conflate multiple characters into an archetype. It does seem as if Catelyn would know whether or not she had slept with Petyr but, as you point out, Petyr has put out the claim that he deflowered both Tully sisters. We like to think that Petyr is the liar. And why would Catelyn lie about this when she is just thinking about the past and has no apparent reason to cover up? But, then again, why does GRRM even give us two versions of the same history? In keeping with his "unreliable narrator" trope, I think the ambiguity about the love between Catelyn and Littlefinger is something he uses to show us the blurred line between Catelyn / Lysa and Ned / Petyr.
  9. Actually, my own reading of the Sansa / Sweetrobin relationship is very close to Walda's well-supported description. So I don't know who "most people" might be, but they need to provide citations from the text or other evidence if they want to tear down someone else's thoughtful post. The parallels that help to inform us in analyzing the axis of Sansa and Sweetrobin are: - Catelyn was the sister of Lysa; Sansa wore Lysa's clothes and became the "lady" of the Eyrie after Lysa died. Catelyn and Lysa were both described as having special hair: Catelyn's last thought was the hope that her hair would not be cut; Lysa lost her beauty except for her lovely hair. There is also a bit of confusion about whether the sisters both lost their virginity to Petyr Baelish. I believe the author wants us to equate Catelyn with Lysa and then to see Sansa as the "heir" of both women. The author reinforces this with odd little things such as Lysa breastfeeding little Lord Robert and then Robert trying to breastfeed from Sansa after his mother dies. Merillion trying to rape Sansa but subsequently being portrayed as the spurned lover of Lysa and being blamed for her death. I believe the "trip down the mountain" is another major clue for us: we get a description of Catelyn going up the mountain but we never hear about her trip down the mountain again. Lysa makes a fast, unexpected trip down the mountain (in the parlance of the Eyrie, she flies). Then we get a step-by-step account of Sansa's trip down the mountain. Somehow these pieces of the stories from the three women combine to make a whole. - If Lysa = Catelyn, then Sweetrobin = Bran. I've outlined this in another post and others in the forum have provided a good shared foundation of Bran and Sweetrobin in the Osiris / Horus myth (and we all know that Horus is the falcon-headed god). Recall that Isis, the sister-wife of Osiris, reassembles the dismembered parts of her husband so he can take on the new job of ruling the underworld. Horus challenges his uncle, Set, who had murdered his father. Horus wins, of course, and becomes the ruler of the above-ground world. When Sansa works to appease and nurture Sweetrobin, she is symbolically acting as Catelyn would act toward Bran and the way that Isis acts toward Horus. Now we know that the weirwood paste consumed by Bran is weird and magical stuff, but his evolving description of it ends by comparing it to his last kiss from his mother. I think the sweet sleep medicine administered to Sweetrobin should be compared to the paste eaten by Bran and it is important that it is administered to Robert at the direction of Sansa. (There may be another parallel between Bran's paste and the oatmeal that little Lord Robert throws at Colemon.) - As I mentioned in an earlier post on this thread, the trio of Mya, Sansa and Robert Arryn coming down the mountain together duplicates (or echoes) the trio of Jon Arryn, Ned and Robert Baratheon coming down the mountain together to raise a rebellion against King Aerys. While it would surprise me to directly compare Ned and Petyr Baelish in all things, there are segments of Ned's role that, I believe, the author wants us to compare to Littlefinger. Being a father to Sansa / Alayne is one of them. So we can read Alayne's thoughts about her "father" as having at least two layers of meaning and passages such as this, from that key Alayne II chapter in AFfC where she descends the mountain, take on deeper meaning: We know that Bran and Ned have a conversation in AGoT about the connection between fear and bravery, and about showing a brave face to the world. Finding out that Petyr had a similar conversation with Alayne helps to demonstrate the connection between father Ned and "father" Petyr. She is talking about both of her fathers when she mentions her father. - Colemon. This name is clearly connected to the lemon symbolism in the series. We know that Sansa loves lemon cakes and that Sweetrobin starts to love them after he bonds with Sansa / Alayne. So the maester's name might even be interpreted as "co-lemon": the shared love of lemon cakes makes the two cousins co-lemon fans. The shared love of lemons may be the author's way of showing us that Sweetrobin is adapting to the unique nurturing qualities of Sansa / Alayne and, like Horus, that he looks to her as his guide in becoming the god of the above-ground world.
  10. I think Sweetrobin's fits are attempts to take flight - his arms flail. It could be he is becoming a falcon but I think it is possibly yet another dragon metaphor at work here. We know that there is precedent for the underage lord of the Eyrie to fly on a dragon: House Arryn is one of the first to fall to the Conqueror, as I recall. So the flight of the Arryn Lord could be a key turning point for anyone who wants to conquer Westeros again in the future. My reading of the subtext is that Baelish is trying to prevent Sweetrobin from flying before the time is right. Sansa / Alayne buys into the directive from Baelish but ends up taking the leap with little Robert Arryn as they descend the mountain. Here we see squires holding Sweetrobin's cloak - the narrator tells us they are keeping it off the floor, but maybe they are also preventing him from taking off: the next paragraph tells us he might be inclined to flee. But then the cloaks are allowed to flap, Sansa and Robert make a perilous crossing that is too magical for the author to put into words for us (suddenly they are on the other side, without telling us exactly how this happened) and we see that Robert is shaking and has to be calmed - a clear example of "shaking fit = flying," imho. Granted, the boy's cloak is made of white bearskin. There is a lot of interaction between little Lord Robert and Ser Lothar Brune - I assume "Brune" is a variation on the theme of "bruin" and that we have a House Mormont (bear sigil) symbol in Lothar. (Recall, too, that Tyrion wore a bear skin cloak at Castle Black and a shadowcat cloak during his visit to the Eyrie, fwiw.) We also have Robert Baratheon's oldest child, Mya, and a Royce as part of the procession down the mountain with Lord Robert and Sansa. So we are recreating the alliance of Ned Stark, Robert Baratheon and Jon Arryn in this scene where we may see Sweetrobin taking flight for the first time under the guidance of Sansa / Alayne. The added support from a Royce and a symbolic Mormont is intriguing - what is the role of these symbols in this aspect of the story? In the first cited excerpt, the repetition of the word "pinch" with reference to Sweetrobin may be another clue for us. In The Sworn Sword, Egg tells Dunk that Ser Bennis regularly pinches him. Dunk then recalls that Ser Bennis used to pinch him, too. My guess about the wordplay is that these are references to "pincers" and the pun is on the word "prince." Boys who are pinched are marked as princes. (There is probably a connection to crab claws and lobstered gauntlets in the pincer symbolism, so it would be great if someone wants to do a thorough analysis of Brienne's journey to Crackclaw Point, the crab feast at Castle Black where Tyrion challenges Ser Alliser Thorne to a duel, the sword Longclaw and the key taken from the lobstered gauntlet at the Citadel. There may be a related pun on claw / walk which becomes especially relevant because Bran will never walk again but he will fly, according to Bloodraven.) I suspect the guards chosen to surround Lord Robert will embody qualities he needs for flying (dragons, falcons) but they could continue some of the themes with which he has been surrounded already: the bear, the claw, lemons, milk. The sigil of House Hardyng is red and white diamonds. Red and white are colors associated with Bloodraven but also weirwood trees and Jon Snow's wolf. I believe that diamonds are symbols of dragon teeth. There is more than a little Bloodraven symbolism connected to little Lord Robert so his guard and his future could bring together some of the imagery and functions associated with that important character.
  11. All excellent questions and I'm not sure I have answers. I suspect that an in-depth analysis of the Bridge of Skulls would help us to understand the Shadow Tower's apparent function as an undead waycastle. Even in my earliest reading of the series, I remember thinking it was strange that there would be a bridge across a gorge at that location if the entire point of he Wall is to prevent enemies from crossing from beyond the Wall. What purpose is achieved by keeping a bridge across the gorge, instead of taking a sledgehammer to it and thereby reducing the likelihood of wildlings or Others crossing? So I have to assume that the Night's Watch wants the ability to cross the gorge. And that raises the possibility that this is a crossing from the Otherworld or Underworld (my words, not GRRM's) and that dead guys can be reborn in some way by coming over the bridge to the Shadow Tower. Mayhaps Denys Mallister is a sort of Lord of the Crossing at the Bridge of Skulls? We are also told that the Free Folk sometimes walk through the gorge, bypassing the Bridge of Skulls and the Wall entirely! How can this be allowed? Why wouldn't the builders of the Night's Watch come up with a solution to address this gap in the defenses at some point in the history of the Wall? I think this may answer your question about whether the Revived use this location to skirt the protection of the Wall and enter the south. The answer is that they do. But that then raises the question of why they don't have a major village on the other side of the gorge and use the free route to the south on a regular basis? The wiki and the initial mention of the Shadow Tower don't offer a lot of details about its location vis-a-vis the Wall or the gorge. In AGoT, the description reads: The Watch had built nineteen great strongholds along the Wall, but only three were still occupied: Easwatch on its grey windswept shore, the Shadow Tower hard by the mountains where the Wall ended, and Castle Black between them, at the end of the kingsroad. The other keeps, long deserted, were lonely, haunted places, where cold winds whistled through black windows and the spirits of the dead manned the parapets. (AGoT, Chap. 19, Jon III) Interesting for this discussion that the "deserted" strongholds are manned by the spirits of the dead. Also interesting that the Shadow Tower is located where the Wall ends, but that there is a deserted Night's Watch stronghold west of the Shadow Tower (Westwatch). Oh - I should also mention The Weeper, who seems to lurk around the Bridge of Skulls and the Shadow Tower. He is the wildling who gouges out the eyes of any Night's Watch brothers killed by his band of followers. In the Knight of the Seven Kingdoms re-read thread, I hope to explain soon a theory about the relationship between gouged or crushed eyes and grapes crushed for making wine. I think wine may be a key for some of the rebirths of the undead. Maybe we have ice wights and fire wights and wine wights. Yes. I think we need to look at the Shy Maid interlude in conjunction with what we know of the Trident, its landmarks, flow and color scheme. The Trident has red, blue and green forks that come together and flow toward the Quiet Isle and the Bay of Crabs. At the Quiet Isle, we meet the Elder Brother, the Gravedigger and the colony of silent holy men. On the shy maid, we have Griff - who has blue hair but who wears a red wolf cloak. And we have the Orphans of the Green Blood. So those might represent the red, blue and green confluence we see in the other river. Recall that Rhaegar died at the Ruby Ford in the Red Fork. So Griff's role as the "father" of Young Griff may combine the Stark wolfskin with Rhaegar's red. Arya and Micah go to the river to look for Rhaegar's rubies, iirc, and the Elder Brother says that his group has found rubies that have washed up on the shore of the Quiet Isle. The Stark symbolism in Griff / Jon Connington may be overwhelming the Rhaegar symbolism when the greyscale starts to take over. The unique broken leg bone in the greyscale guy who attacks Tyrion and Griff is found in only one other character: Ned Stark after his horse falls on him when Jaime attacks him outside of the brothel. So I'm thinking the stone man is a symbolic attack by "Ned" on "Rhaegar" (or on Connington, if the layers of symbolism become too much). We know the greyscale will eventually win, but it will do so slowly: perhaps like the poison that Oberyn (the red viper) introduced into the blood stream of Gregor Clegane (a green character). Pieces of the Clanking Dragon sign from the inn at the crossroads have also washed up, but they have turned red with rust. I wonder whether there is a parallel between the pieced-together clanking dragon sign and the motley outfit that Tyrion and Septa Lemore sew for Tyrion after his first dip in the river? The reemergence of the sign and Tyrion's rebirth after his swim may be further evidence of Tyrion's dragon and Targ connection. Septa Lemore wears a belt woven with seven colors. The book doesn't say that they are rainbow colors, but we can infer that they might be, based on her service to the Faith of the Seven. I think the point is that, like Renly, she unites and controls all of the colors. Sort of like the confluence of the forks of the Trident. She also seems to be able to freely swim in the river without fear of drowning or catching greyscale. Lots more Trident parallels to draw, but this is a start.
  12. Your point being that my generalization about indigo was too narrow? Ok. There are some other uses of that color, but I think they could be related to the living dead or grim reaper theme. For instance, some grasses are indigo in color. But Dany burns bundles of grasses in Khal Drogo's funeral pyre, putting them into a symbolic role in an important death / transformation / rebirth scene. I'm not entirely persuaded that Rhaegar is the new father in Dany's vision, described as having indigo-colored eyes. All we know is that Dany could be seeing a past, present or future (or imagined?) man who names his baby Aegon. But let's say he is. Even if the man is Rhaegar (and only Rhaegar, not an archetype) I don't think that undermines the association of indigo with these grim reaper or living death characters. At the point Dany is in the House of the Undying, Rhaegar is dead. If that baby is Aegon and the mother is Elia Martell, they are dead, too. Indigo eyes might represent dead Targaryens. If the baby is the young man we know as Jon Snow and the mother is Lyanna Stark, there is a lot of death associated with both of those characters, too. The strong connection between the Mallister indigo and the House of the Undying indigo may tell us a few things about the way GRRM creates symbolic Targaryens. I have long believed that the House of the Undying is parallel to the Winterfell crypt and to the Winterfell library. Dany sees her ancestors in the House of the Undying but she also sees stories unfold before her eyes. The "always the door to the right" is like turning the pages of a book. So an indigo connection between House Mallister and the House of the Undying could tell us that House Mallister symbolizes legendary and dead Targaryens. (I'm not entirely persuaded of that, though. House Mallister is strongly linked to House Tully as loyal bannermen, so a Targ parallel doesn't seem like a 100% match.) Furthermore, I suspect that the silver eagle of the Mallister sigil and their winged helmets could be parallel to Silverwing, the dragon ridden by Queen Alysanne. After the Dance of the Dragons, Silverwing lived on an island in Red Lake (formerly Blue Lake) where a great deal of color symbolism comes together. Dany riding the horse she calls her Silver (including jumping over a fire on the horse's back) could be a parallel to Alysanne riding Silverwing. But I just found my old post analyzing indigo. For those who are interested, more detail here. Look for the indigo subtitles in the first post. P.S. Re-reading some of the posts on that Rainbow Guard thread, I see I owe an apology or credit to @Lollygag, who proposed a parallel between House Mallister and The Stranger. I had been looking too much at Jason Mallister, I think. It was only when I put more thought into Denys Mallister that I started to see the grim reaper-type association with his Shadow Tower and his proximity to The Weeper. So three cheers for Lollygag for putting together the association between House Mallister and The Stranger long before I saw it.
  13. I wish I had direct evidence to offer. Most of my thinking is a hunch built on small things: Proximity to the Bridge of Skulls, which seems like a clear underworld location. Denys Mallister commands the Shadow Tower. The Mallister sigil is on an indigo field. The only other place we see indigo is in the House of the Undying, where the dim lighting is described as "indigo murk." (Note: Jason Mallister attended Catelyn's wedding to Ned but did not recognize her when he passed her on the road on his way to the Hand's Tourney. If all Mallisters are part of a Grim Reaper archetype, Jason's failure to "see" Catelyn may foreshadow her upcoming undead existence as Lady Stoneheart. Maybe you have to look directly into the eyes of death in order to achieve a complete break with mainstream life once your number is up. And this would take us back to Denys's turf with the The Weeper and the Bridge of Skulls.) Qhorin Halfhand is able to lead Jon Snow and his shaggy garron behind a waterfall and through a mountain cave - I think only a supernatural guy could lead a mortal along a path like that. The trip behind the waterfall is the second time that Qhorin sends Jon Snow toward Ygritte. After passing through the mountain, Qhorin may be ready to sacrifice himself in order to advance Jon's undercover mission because he is tired of being undead and ready to move on to full-time death. He seems almost relieved when Jon Snow cuts his throat with a sharp sword. Yes, another good one for the list, I think. As The King's Justice, he is an obvious grim reaper parallel. He also lives in the dungeon of the Red Keep, which seems like another unique slice of the underworld from which people can be reborn. I had an early suspicion that Ser Ilyn is the equivalent of the direwolf Ghost, except loyal to Tywin and then Jaime instead of Jon Snow. Since I think Ghost should be on the list of the living dead, Ser Ilyn probably also makes the list. Of course, Ser Ilyn and Podrick Payne are the only characters we know with a House Payne connection. Since Pod survives (we hope) hanging at the end of ADwD, the two Paynes may share an undead status as well as a surname.
  14. I was gonna say ... How much time do you have? But I respect that there has to be a limit - if we counted all of the symbolic deaths, nearly every major character would fit the category in some way. For instance, people have pointed out the John Barleycorn symbolism around both Jon Snow and Bran, both of whom feed corn to black birds. That legendary character symbolizes the harvest and the death of the harvest king. We see Bran experience some clear harvest king death moments at the harvest feast at Winterfell after drinking from his father's chalice. But his "death" is probably not real enough to fit the discussion here. I also think the wildlings killing the silent, white-haired old man at the ruined inn in the Gift, just before Jon Snow escapes them, is a symbolic slaying of the direwolf Ghost. (Inns are also portals to the after life in ASOIAF.) I compare it to the death of Aslan on the stone table. The Shadow Tower really intrigues me as a possible recycling plant for dead brothers in the Night's Watch. I think many of the dead guys are posted at the Shadow Tower and that they continue to serve along the Wall. I suspect that Qhorin, Stonesnake and the others in the ranging party with Jon Snow were already dead when they began their scouting mission. Some dead people are reborn in other bodies: I suspect Maester Aemon will come back through the baby Aemon Steelsong. I do think that Lady Dustin has a key role in controlling death and rebirth. She is mad that Ned brought back her red horse but left her husband's bones at the Prince's Pass. But her husband's early death puts her in place as the Lady of the Barrowlands. If she is a sort of symbolic ruler of the Underworld, with the power to revive dead people, her visit to Winterfell's crypt may open a major can of Stark whupass in the next couple of books. She certainly seems to have revived Theon during her time with him in the crypt: he stops being Reek and resumes being Theon after their therapy session. But we were talking about limits. Restricting myself to the more literal dead people, I would add these characters to your list: Ser Mandon Moore. I think he is literally dead, although we don't know how he came to be dead. He may be in the story to foreshadow Ser Robert Strong, the next notable dead guy on the kings guard. Ser Mandon tries to kill Tyrion at a bridge, which may be a symbol of dragging someone down to the underworld. (Or up from the underworld, I suppose.) Pod ends up pushing Ser Mandon into the water and we assume he drowns but maybe he just assumes a new identity in some way. Brienne, Ser Hyle Hunt and Podrick Payne. I think these characters require reviving after their hanging by Lady Stoneheart and the BwB. We get an account of Ser Thoros of Myr feeding Brienne some humble fare that she considers to be the tastiest food she has ever eaten. Since Thoros revived Beric, we can probably draw a parallel to his revival of Brienne. We'll have to wait until the next books to see how Ser Hyle and Pod are affected by their death and rebirth.
  15. This is an important point. We know that Balon invests in Asha as his heir after Theon is taken away. Theon and the Starks believe that Theon is still the heir to the Iron Islands, but Balon has moved on and has a diminished stake in what happens to Theon. By the time Theon returns to the Iron Islands with a proposal to betray Robb, Balon already has advanced plans to invade the west coast of Westeros. These plans (including building more ships) must have been under way well before Theon was sent by Robb to try to secure his father's support for Robb's battle plans. From a symbolism perspective, we might want to consider the collapse of Pyke and the erosion of the ground on which it sits. Theon's older brothers are killed by a collapsing wall during the invasion of Pyke. As cited earlier in this thread, Theon's mother gets bridge splinters in her feet from walking around looking for her missing sons. (Bridges are important symbols, too. The fact that this bridge seems to be disintegrating may be a sign that few people will be able to cross over to Pyke or House Greyjoy as the deterioration continues.) I think we are supposed to compare the mutilation of Theon to the crumbling of Pyke and/or the destruction of Winterfell. Or maybe the deaths of his brothers, Maron and Rodrik, represent the crumbling of Pyke: it's too late to save that eroding castle by the time Theon is taken to Winterfell. If I were trying to explain Asha's role in this metaphor, I might surmise that she represents ships of the Iron Islands instead of the castle. The ships are still in good shape. Similarly, Beth Cassell may represent the castle of Winterfell, just as Jeyne Poole represents the sacred pool in the Winterfell gods wood. (Sorry, I am a broken record on these symbols.) When Theon takes possession of Winterfell, he shows Ser Rodrick that he has taken possession of Beth. Later, he takes possession of Jeyne and helps her escape the Boltons. Significantly, he takes her over the wall of the castle, the same way the Ironborn entered when they invaded. But Theon doesn't destroy Winterfell, in spite of his threat against Beth. Ramsay does burn the castle. In fact, I think Theon's takeover of Winterfell saves the lives of Bran and Rickon because it allows them to hide and subsequently escape. If the Boltons had been able to invade before Theon's arrival, the younger Stark children would surely be dead. Theon is saving House Stark. Also significant in the symbolism is Lady Dustin asking Theon to take her into the crypt at Winterfell. She is sort of like the Good Witch Glinda telling Dorothy to click the heels of her ruby slippers if she wants to go home. She helps Theon to rediscover his power by telling him that he is the only person who knows how to get into the crypt, which has not been looted or destroyed by the Boltons. He rediscovers his name while he is in the crypt and remembers that he wanted to be a Stark. So I think the comparison of hostage Theon with hostage Beth is appropriate. They may both represent castles. In fact, they may both represent Winterfell. P.S. Palla, daughter of Winterfell kennelmaster Farlen, should also be considered alongside Beth Cassell and Jeyne Poole. She is raped by Ironmen but Theon punishes the Ironmen who harm her. I assume the kennel symbolism relates to the direwolves, but there could be Clegane (dog sigil) symbolism. Palla's suffering is definitely foreshadowing of Ramsay with his pack of hunting dogs and his sick practice of hunting women.
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