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  1. Seams

    A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms Reread

    Before we move onto The Sworn Sword, I was really hoping to pin down something about two other knights in the Ashford Meadow tourney. Leo Tyrell and Robyn Rhysling were addressed in an earlier post. If the tournament is a Targaryen family technique for deciding who will ascend to the Iron Throne, though, why are knights such as Humfrey Hardyng and Humfrey Beesbury out on the field at all? Again I turned to an anagram. GRRM makes a point of creating a single phrase to describe the close and thrilling match between the two Humfreys, who are good brothers (brothers-in-law) as well as jousting opponents: It was, smallfolk and high lord alike agreed, a splendid day of jousting. Ser Humfrey Hardyng and Ser Humfrey Beesbury, a bold young knight in yellow and back stripes with three beehives on his shield, splintered no less than a dozen lances apiece in an epic struggle the smallfolk soon began calling The Battle of Humfrey. (The Hedge Knight) It's a little bit of an odd phrase, "The Battle of Humfrey," and it seems as if GRRM went to a lot of trouble to create a situation that allowed him to use the phrase in the story. Why would he go to the trouble? So I ran it through the anagram website. The most intriguing possibility, to me, is: The Battle of Humfrey = Theme of Butterfly Ah. I look for bigger words as more likely to be meaningful when playing around with anagrams, and butterfly is a biggish word. But I also know that there is a lot of symbolic overlap between this Ashford Meadow tourney and the melee at Bitterbridge, associated with Renly and Brienne and the Rainbow Guard. One of Renly's key supporters is Ser Mark Mullendore, whose sigil is black and orange butterflies strewn over white. He is one of the opponents Brienne defeats in the melee. Aside from the strong Ashford Meadow / Rainbow Guard link, the Mullendore butterfly sigil seems important to me because the orange and black butterflies could be a type of butterfly called a "monarch". Orange monarchs could explain why The Battle of Humfrey, and its hidden allusion to butterfly symbolism, is part of the Targaryen family tournament for the Iron Throne. Bonus clue. There are very few Mullendores mentioned in ASOIAF - the current Lord is Martyn Mullendore, mentioned only in the AFfC appendix. Then there is Mark, who gets the most ink of all the Mullendores. Third is a seemingly very minor footnote in a Jaime POV, as he reads the entry describing the achievements of Ser Barriston Selmy in the White Book, the history of the kingsguard: "In the Oldtown tourney, defeated and unmasked the mystery knight Blackshield, revealing him as the bastard of Uplands" (ASoS, Chap. 67, Jaime VIII). Uplands is the seat of House Mullendore, so the inference is that Blackshield is an illegitimate son of that House. But we know which warriors use black shields, don't we? And we know of a famous bastard currently in the Night's Watch. He isn't from Uplands but he is from The North, which is "up" if you're anywhere else in the Seven Kingdoms. I think the butterflies and Mullendores are symbolic placeholders, if that's the right word, for Jon Snow's eventual participation in the game of thrones. (The fact that Barristan defeats Blackshield should not be considered indicative that he will defeat Jon for the Iron Throne. Barristan embodies The Stranger, and I think he gets to defeat everybody. In the same entry in the White Book, he defeats Robert Baratheon, Oberyn Martell, Balon Greyjoy and Rhaegar Targaryen, among other high-powered and high born lords and princes. He continues to serve as a member of the King's Guard, not expecting to gain power for himself. Although all those guys do kinda die, don't they? Well, Valar Morghulis. Some of his other tourney opponents aren't dead, though. Yet.) So what do we know about Mark Mullendore? He has a pet monkey. The monkey is black and white and comes from the Summer Islands. He was a part of the wager over who would claim Brienne's maidenhead. Because he was part of the cruel betting pool, Brienne sought him out (along with others involved in the wager) and defeated him in the melee. He supports Stannis after Renly's death. He fights in the Battle of the Blackwater and loses part of his left arm and his monkey. He is captured and bends his knee to Joffrey. Taena of Myr tells Cersei that Megga Tyrell, Margaery's cousin, is attracted to Mark Mullendore and wants to help him obtain a new monkey. (Megga will probably be betrothed to Ser Bulwer, however.) Mark is one of the men Cersei falsely accuses of being Margaery's lover, and he is thrown into the dungeon of the Red Keep. Monkeys are associated with Tyrion to some extent (although not necessarily exclusively). In ACoK, a begging brother rants about corruption in [ King's Landing ], calling Tyrion Lannister a "twisted little monkey demon" who controls the abomination King Joffrey Baratheon. Tyrion is hurt by the title, and often uses it mockingly in reference to himself thereafter (wiki). Is it possible that Mark and his monkey represent Jon Snow and Tyrion? Is there a sort of two-headed Maelys the Monstrous allusion? Taena: "... Megga has a new suitor every fortnight. Once she kissed a potboy in the kitchen. I have heard talk of her marrying lady Bulwer's brother, but if Megga were to choose for herself, she would sooner have Mark Mullendore, I am certain." Cersei laughed. "The Butterfly Knight who lost his arm on the Blackwater? What good is half a man?" "Megga thinks him sweet. She has asked Lady Margaery to help her find a monkey for him." (AFfC, Chap. 24, Cersei VI) This passage about Megga Tyrell is more about playing the game of thrones, I think. Like Maegor's Holdfast and Margaery, Megga's name suggests someone involved in the "game" or maybe a personification of the game itself. So her choosing to help someone or seeking a romance could be a sign that she wants someone to advance in the game of thrones. More importantly for our analysis here, we get some additional clues about butterfly knights. Cersei thinks a butterfly knight would be undesirable because he lost an arm. She refers to him as half a man. Losing an arm and the "half man" label are associated with Cersei's brothers. So Mark Mullendore is somehow a symbol for Jaime and Tyrion all of a sudden? And then Cersei has him locked up for sleeping with the queen, a form of treason Mark has not committed, but Jaime has. If the dungeon of the Red Keep is like the caterpillar's cocoon, will we see Mullendore emerge as a fully-formed butterfly after Qyburn finishes with him? We will see Ser Gregor Clegane emerge reborn as Ser Robert Strong from that dungeon, so we know rebirth can occur there. Maybe it will not be Mark who is reborn but his dormant stage in the dungeon could foreshadow an upcoming change in Jaime. Like Megga and Margaery searching for a monkey for Mullendore, Cersei will soon be searching for Tyrion after he kills Tywin. Another monkey comparison for Tyrion? Another parallel between the two queens? Where is GRRM going with this Mark Mullendore stuff? But remember, it's not a Mullendore theme; it's a butterfly theme. So let's take a step back and look at Other butterflies in ASOIAF. In the first Daenerys POV after that Jaime POV with the Bastard of Uplands, Dany thinks about her lonely life in the Great Pyramid of Meereen and the god of Missandei's people on the Island of Naath: Up here in her garden Dany sometimes felt like a god, living atop the highest mountain in the world. Do all gods feel so lonely? Some must, surely. Missandei had told her of the Lord of Harmony, worshiped by the Peaceful People of Naath; he was the only true god, her little scribe said, the god who always was and always would be, who made the moon and stars and earth, and all the creatures that dwelt upon them. Poor Lord of Harmony. Dany pitied him. It must be terrible to be alone for all time, attended by hordes of butterfly women you could make or unmake at a word. ... The butterfly spirits sacred to their Lord of Harmony protected their isle against those who would do them harm. Many conquerors had sailed on Naath to blood their swords, only to sicken and die. The butterflies do not help them when the slave ships come raiding, though. ,,, (ASoS, Chap. 71, Dany VI) The butterflies of Naath come up again at a tragic moment for Missandei, when her brother Mossador has been found dead, a victim of The Sons of the Harpy: When she returned to her rooms atop the pyramid, she found Missandei crying softly on her pallet, trying as best she could to muffle the sound of her sobs. "Come sleep with me," she told the little scribe "Dawn will not come for hours yet." "Your Grace is kind to this one." Missandei slipped under the sheets. "He was a good brother." Dany wrapped her arms about the girl. "Tell me of him." "He taught me how to climb a tree when we were little he could catch fish with his hands. Once I found him sleeping in our garden with a hundred butterflies crawling over him. He looked so beautiful that morning, this one ... I mean, I loved him." (ADwD, Chap. 11, Daenerys II) After a really bad day in which Dany puts up with Hizdahr, wearing a tokar, resumption of the fighting pit and talk of slave trade, followed by rejection of Quentyn Martell, Dany's thoughts turn again to butterflies: "On the morrow I must bathe in blood. The price of peace." She smiled wanly and patted the bed. "Come. Sit. Talk with me." "If it please you." Missandei sat down beside her. "What shall we talk of?" "Home," said Dany. "Naath. Butterflies and brothers. Tell me of the things that make you happy, the things that make you giggle, all your sweetest memories. Remind me that there is still good in the world." (ADwD, Chap. 50, Daenerys VIII) So Dany's butterfly references are strongly linked to brothers, like Cersei's association of the butterfly knight with losing an arm and being a half man. These passages with Missandei really drive home the point that Dany and Missandei have a lot in common: Dany feels that she was sold, like a slave, when she was betrothed to Khal Drogo. She wants to go home (to Westeros and/or to the red door) and her brother has been killed. If Missandei is a symbolic version of Daenerys, how do the butterflies of Naath relate to Dany's personal story? An important clue for the reader is the tightly-wound tokar that Dany wears in order to fit in with the high born people of Meereen. The garment is a sort of cocoon of silk, just what a caterpillar would need before turning into a butterfly. Butterflies are a great symbol not only of "monarchs," but of living things that "die" when they weave a cocoon and are transformed and reborn. By the end of ADwD, of course, we will see Dany emerge from her chrysalis and take flight (on the back of her dragon). If the cluster of symbols works in Dany's story the way it seems to work in other stories, this transformation to butterfly could finally take Dany to home and to a brother. Perhaps the brother will also undergo a metamorphosis to become a monarch butterfly. Edit: I hadn't put any thought into Naath before this post, but I suspect its name might be a twist on the Greek root work thana or thanatos, meaning death. So the Lord of Harmony presides over a land of death with his butterflies. Other posts in this forum have identified Ned Stark as a lord of the underworld or Winter King. (And Robert Baratheon as the Summer King.) So Naath's butterflies may bring us back again to Jon Snow, who seems to be in training as the future Winter King. There are more details and links to this butterfly stuff - why Mullendore and Bulwer are juxtaposed as rivals for Megga's affection, whether Mollander is linked to Mullendore, the butter in butterflies as part of the dairy motif, other flies (e.g., the dragonfly knight), the Humfrey characters that crop up in other places in the books, Shae's butterfly hands, and the gems that may connect Humfrey Hardyng and Humfrey Beesbury and Mark Mullendore to Brienne. But it's late here. I'll try to throw those into another post next time.
  2. Seams

    Snow Symbolism

    When I try to puzzle out the meaning of one of GRRM's ongoing, major symbols, I try to look at the actual passages from the book. The author's use of words is very precise and the details are specific. To find the meaning or make sure the discussion is focused, it's helpful to include the quotes in the posts. Having said that, I would also offer that snow is going to be a layered, complex symbol with subtle differences in meaning depending which character is discussing or experiencing it. For instance, Ramsay Snow and Jon Snow are not similar (I hope) but they share the Snow symbolism. Starks are at home in the snow because they are from the north; Targaryens are at home with fire because they are dragon-lovers. Snow would have different meanings to these different clans. Snow is related to ice and wind and mist, but it is not the same as those things. A snow man will have a different purpose than a snow storm. As Lollygag points out, too, the color of snow can bring in other symbolic allusions. I think there's probably also a pun involving snow / nose and knows, so what does it mean for snow that Tyrion lost his nose? tl;dr: It's complicated, I think.
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    Petyr Baelish, Blackfyre heir?

    Are you saying that the Reynes are somehow connected to the Blackfyres? My post was about a Baelish / Blackfyre connection.
  4. @JaneSnow Thanks! Those lists are great. The context is helpful to have.
  5. A couple of weeks ago, I posted this in a comment in a broader discussion. Today seems to be a slow day in the forum and I thought it might be worth giving this idea its own thread. Above the hearth hung a broken longsword and a battered oaken shield, its paint cracked and flaking. The device painted on the shield was one Sansa did not know; a grey stone head with fiery eyes, upon a light green field. "My grandfather's shield," Petyr explained when he saw her gazing at it. "His own father was born in Braavos and came to the Vale as a sellsword in the hire of Lord Corbray, so my grandfather took the head of the Titan as his sigil when he was knighted." (ASoS, Sansa VI) Are there Blackfyre hints in Littlefinger's arc? The sword above the hearth could be a black fire hint - hearths turn black from soot. Could the sword be the ancestral Targaryen blade Blackfyre? The giant's head on the shield isn't gold, but it does seem to echo the Maelys the Monstrous story, with the giant "skull" being brought back to Westeros. I'm guessing that Maelys and Baelish might be descended from two different sons of Daemon or of Bittersteel. Sansa doesn't give us much detail, but the sword could be Chekhov's gun: if the sword is broken to the point that part of the blade has snapped off, the dagger (with dragonbone handle) that the catspaw brought to Bran's bedchamber might have been made with Valyrian steel from this sword. If the catspaw was sent by a Blackfyre descendant, the motive for attacking Bran might have been the knowledge that Bran was important to Bloodraven; someone Bloodraven needed to sustain the status quo in Westeros. Bittersteel's descendants would want to undermine Bloodraven as much as they would want to take the Iron Throne. (Maybe one goal is necessary to achieve the other.) Even if the catspaw's dagger was not forged from a broken blade of Blackfyre, it had the dragonbone handle and it belonged to Petyr Baelish at some point. He could have sent the catspaw. Another "black fire" hint in Littlefinger's immediate vicinity: the Kettleblacks work for him. More soot symbolism. Someone pointed out in a recent thread that GRRM invented and used a Westeros-specific saying about the crow calling the raven black; the familiar English idiom is "like the pot calling the kettle black." There may be a little hint here about Blackwood vs. Blackfyre. Bloodraven sits in a weirwood throne in his cave beyond the Wall. Littlefinger has maneuvered himself into protector of the Vale, with the weirwood throne in the great hall at the Eyrie. Littlefinger wears a plum doublet at two key points early in the story - while watching Joffrey shoot hares with a crossbow, he has a conversation with Tyrion about how one gets tired of one's own colors. Hares are associated with Daenerys and her "floppy ears," the attire she wears when she wants to look like a monarch. (The "floppy ears" phrase was suggested to her by Brown Ben Plumm.) Back in AGoT (Eddard XII), the plum doublet also appears in a meeting of Petyr with Ned Stark where Petyr notes that Ned is reading the book describing Westeros nobles and their children. I'm still working on the plum symbolism, but I think it might be connected with the violet eyes of the Targaryen / Valyrian descendants. (In the scene with Ned, Littlefinger is also on his way to dinner with Lady Stokeworth, who hopes to marry him to her daughter Lollys, who will be pregnant in the next book. The Stokeworths are linked to control of the Red Keep; plums and pregnancy are also linked.) With Petyr's banking connections, I wouldn't be surprised if he also has backing from the Rogare family. Viserys II married a Rogare, so all of his descendants would have the same Rogare heritage. If the Rogare family sided with the Blackfyre faction (or whatever Targ branch Baelish is in), the broken sword above the hearth might be the missing Valyrian steel blade Truth. This would be wonderful literary irony as Baelish is teaching Sansa to lie as soon as she arrives at his keep, so a broken Truth would be particularly apt. A lot of this detail came in the later books, but I can see where GRRM might have been setting up Petyr Baelish as a major antagonist at the beginning of the series.
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    Undermine baelish

    The way to gain the upperhand with Baelish would be to discover his secrets. Send detectives out to Riverrun, where servants would remember his childhood. Apparently he bragged about deflowering Catelyn Tully, so this early attraction would be a key piece of information. Ask the servants whether Petyr was a liar about this and find out his other strengths or weaknesses or character traits. Check with people who knew him early in his career in Gulltown. Find people who knew Jon Arryn and Hoster Tully who might discuss their motives in promoting Petyr's rise in the bureaucracy. Maybe even check with House Corbray about Petyr's story of his grandfather as a sellsword. Send agents to Essos to find out what he did in his time there - I believe he recuperated there after his duel with Brandon Stark. You probably couldn't make inquiries in King's Landing or the Fingers without being discovered by Littlefinger's informers, and all of the other information gathering would have to be very careful and discrete. Once you know as much as possible about his background, use his secrets to understand his motives in the present day. Is your goal really to bring him down, or just to blackmail him? I strongly suspect that Baelish is a hidden Targ or Velaryon. So he probably has hidden allies that have little or nothing to do with his skill at financial management. He may also have personal alliances with the Bank of Braavos and the Faceless Men. Tread carefully.
  7. I suspect the bloody mouths imagery is also connected to the sigil of House Lonmouth, skulls and kisses. The consensus in this forum is pretty strong that Lem Lemoncloak is actually Ser Richard Lonmouth, a close friend and Rhaegar loyalist. He seems to have turned into a bloodthirsty executioner for Lady Stoneheart after wearing the Hound's helmet. Does the helmet represent a skull? If so, where is the kiss to go with the skull? (Maybe it's the "unkiss" that Sansa remembers from her encounter with the Hound in her bedchamber.) Besides Richard, the only other named individual Lonmouth was Joffrey, who was the lover of Laenor Velaryon, husband of princess Rhaenyra. Joffrey died when his helm cracked by a blow from a morningstar during a tourney. While Joffrey had represented Laenor in the tourney, the blow was delivered by Criston Cole, a former supporter of Rhaenyra but now fighting with the sponsorship of Queen Alicent, the rival queen in the Dance of the Dragons. So Joffrey's story might show both the kisses (his relationship with Laenor) and the skull (a cracked helmet). The words of House Lonmouth are, "The choice is yours." Is the choice between skulls and kisses? Death and love? Or? This red mouth motif needs some more exploration, so thank you for keeping this going. Maybe we can look at cracked helms and, specifically, blows from a morningstar, when we finish with the red lips. The morningstars probably relate to Dawn and Morne. Brienne defeats Ser Loras with a morningstar in the melee at Bitterbridge and Ser Dontos uses a melon morningstar on Sansa's head when he tries to divert Joffrey's wrath after Robb's victory over Lannister forces.
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    The Sleeping Lion

    Nimble Dick tells Brienne a story about his legendary ancestor, Clarence Crabb, known as Crackbones: "Crackbones fought a dragon too, but he didn't need no magic sword. He just tied its neck in a knot, so every time it breathed fire it roasted its own arse." (AFfC, Brienne IV) Here's a little more context for Lord Grandison: Beesbury died a few years later. That gave her some small comfort in her present pass; she could not be forced to marry him if he was dead. And the Lord of the Crossing had wed again, so she was safe from him as well. Elden Estermont is still alive and unwed, though. Lord Rosby and Lord Grandison as well. Grandison was called the Greybeard, but by the time she'd met him his beard had gone snow white. At the welcoming feast, he had gone to sleep between the fish course and the meat. Drey called that apt, since his sigil was a sleeping lion. Garin challenged her to see if she could tie a knot in his beard without waking him, but Arianne refrained. Grandison had seemed a pleasant fellow, less querulous than Estermont and more robust than Rosby. She would never marry him, however. Not even if Hotah stands behind me with his axe. (AFfC, The Princess in the Tower) I think the knot-tying detail is another parallel to the dragon, with Dick Crabb's anecdote as confirmation. Nimble Dick is a story-teller, like Old Nan, and a singer. So we know that GRRM wants us to pay attention to his stories and find hints about things to come. Since Dick says that everyone on Crackclaw Point is a good dragon man, I suspect that Clarence is a symbolic Targaryen. The story about him tying a dragon's neck in a knot might refer to some Targ-on-Targ conflict such at the Dance of the Dragons or the Blackfyre rebellions. By contrast, Arianne declines to tie Grandison's beard in a knot and she finds him likable. Something tells me that the Grandison story might foreshadow a future meeting between Arianne and fAegon / Young Griff. Will she decide that the time is right to wake the dragon? "Tying the knot" is an idiom for getting married. Will Arianne want to tie the knot with fAegon? I don't know why GRRM would choose to make Grandison's sigil a sleeping lion, though, if all of the details and hidden meanings point to dragons.
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    The Sleeping Lion

    I'm sorry you've drawn not one but two of the unoriginal "Where is Winds?" comments, mistakenly believed to be clever by a handful of people who don't come to the forum to share ideas. You have spotted an interesting detail and raised a good question. To me, the Grandison words and sigil are clearly a reference to Viserys, who was secretly betrothed to Arianne. He was not the sleeping lion, but the sleeping dragon, and he constantly warned Daenerys not to wake the dragon. (An anagram of "Hugh Grandison" could be "dragon hushing".) It's been awhile since I've read the Arianne chapters so I'm not fresh on the details. It seems GRRM wants us to compare the sleeping lion to the sleeping dragon, for some reason. I may be completely lost in my little anagram obsession lately, but I noticed that "Rouse me not" can be rearranged to spell "morose tune." Potentially relevant HBO reference: The fact that Grandison was at a feast is probably also significant. We have seen important deaths and betrayals and dreams involving feasts. I know that GRRM has used tourneys to foreshadow the power struggle for the Iron Throne. Betrothals also seem significant in combining sigils and special qualities unique to certain houses (watch out for anyone married to a Royce or Fossoway). Maybe he uses the failed betrothal here, as well as the feast, to show us how the Martells have tried different things to navigate their way into the center of power in Westeros. We know that they offered betrothals between Elia and Oberyn for Jaime and Cersei, but were rejected. On the other hand, this fake betrothal attempt may have been payback for that rejection by the Lannisters: we are told that Doran already had a betrothal in mind for Arianne and was pretending to seek suitors in order to cover the secret engagement to Viserys. The failure to wake the sleeping lion with a betrothal for Arianne may underscore Doran's secret long game of surreptitiously working to outsmart the Lannisters without their knowing it.
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    Brienne and the Wizard of Oz

    There is also Wizard of Oz imagery in Dany's arc, particularly the scene were she flies above the rainbow on Drogon's back. There is a colored brick road and Brazen Beasts wearing lion, tiger and bear masks: Others have found Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass allusions in various POVs.
  11. Sure! Bring it on. The ice / eyes pun is so important in the series - understanding all of the pale eyes characters is probably a good exercise, and certainly relevant to patterns of death. (Now I'm also think of a pale / impale pun . . . )
  12. I had just been thinking about a Craster / Rohanne Webber comparison, based on this passage: "You'd best not take any food or drink at Coldmoat, ser. The Red Widow poisoned all her husbands." "I'm not like to marry her. She's a highborn lady, and I'm Dunk of Flea Bottom, remember? He frowned. "Just how many husband has she had, do you know?" "Four," said Egg, "but no children. Whenever she gives birth, a demon comes by night to carry off the issue. Sam Stoops's wife says she sold her babes unborn to the Lord of the Seven Hells, so he'd teach her his black arts." "Highborn ladies don't meddle with the black arts. They dance and sing and do embroidery." "Maybe she dances with demons and embroiders evil spells," Egg said with relish. "And how would you know what highborn ladies do, ser? ... " (The Sworn Sword) Egg goes on to tell Dunk about Shiera Seastar's habit of bathing in blood and his own sister's use of a love potion, so he seems to know about highborn ladies practicing magic. The Craster scenes in the book were all filtered through our unreliable narrators, but I have wondered for some time whether Craster's wives were actually in charge at Craster's Keep, with Craster as the stud for the breeding program but not really the mastermind of the situation. If so, that puts Gilly in a power position and her little Monster becomes the new Craster. Agreed. The green / gold eye thing is helpful in pinning down Tywin's murderous intent, something I couldn't entirely pin down in an earlier post about Tywin's possible role in Joffrey's death. (This link takes you to my old post about Tywin as Joffrey's murderer. It's old and I no longer hold with all of the details, but I think it's still a possibility worth pondering. And it is consistent with your idea here.) And if you think Tywin, as a descendant of Rohanne Webber, might also be using dark magic to advance his interests, this thread might offer some evidence in support of both his murderous impulses and his shared interests with his great-grandmother, Rohanne: The river and shit connection to weirwoods isn't clear to me, but one link might be the pun on wolf / flow / fowl. The marriage of Stark to Tully may be a marriage of a wolf to a river, or flow. Each of the Stark children is also associated with a fowl - Arya with swans or the name "squab" she takes at one point or other birds mentioned in her arc; Sansa is Sandor's "little bird," Jon is a crow, Bran talks to a three-eyed crow, etc. Weirwoods are associated with the direwolf Ghost, with the albino / red wine scar of Bloodraven and with the mysterious pools at Winterfell which flow through the walls of the keep. Maybe you can find your explanation there. I think GRRM may use some of the bowel movement references to create a "male pregnancy" situation, in support of his vast death-rebirth motif. Tyrion "killed" his mother in childbirth, but he also killed Tywin in the midst of trying to move his bowels. Tyrion notes that the difficult b.m. is achieved as Tywin dies. Dunk & Egg spoiler alert: in The Mystery Knight is further evidence for the link between birth, or rebirth, and defecation. The mound of shit at Craster's Keep may therefore be appropriate evidence of the baby factory in operation at that site. Certainly Tyrion achieves an important milestone in his rebirth with the death of Tywin. Speaking of bowels, a pun on bowl / bowel might offer an additional clue about the shit / weirwood link. In Flea Bottom, people eat bowls of brown, which Tyrion calls "singer stew." The singers give Bran a bowl of weirwood paste, not brown. There are also references to bowls of trees - another name for a stump or trunk. A further note: leaf / flea is probably deliberate wordplay, with Flea Bottom and Leaf, the CotF singer who guides Bran. The "bottom" in Flea Bottom might be another part of the shit motif as well as a rebirth motif: orphans such as Dunk and Davos and Hot Pie and Lommy Greenhands seem to emerge from the streets of Flea Bottom without having any parents or known origin. Following up on another of your points: the Rhoyne isn't entirely a cesspool. Recall that Septa Lemore swims in the river (Tyrion notices her stretch marks, indicating a past pregnancy) and Tyrion has a good rebirth swim in the river, emerging to sew his special motley outfit using clothes provided by Illyrio at Connington's direction with Lemore's help. Only the section near the Bridge of Dream is contaminated, if I understand correctly. Or maybe the mist described by Ysilla marks the areas that are problematic. (I just noticed that line about "searching for a sun" in the Ysilla excerpt you cited. Interesting possibilities there with fAegon / Young Griff and/or Tyrion as "sons" of the Targaryens, both fostered by Jon Connington and the others in the crew of the Shy Maid.) The connection between Lady Stoneheart and the Shrouded Lord is a good one. I think the stone man who knocks Tyrion off the boat and into the river is a symbolic Ned Stark. If he contracted grey scale because he was kissed by the Shrouded Lord, that would be a perfect parallel with Ned and Catelyn. The dead Stark lords are all turned to stone when they are interred in the Winterfell crypt, of course, and we are told that Ned's bones never reached Winterfell. Maybe his soul is stranded at a metaphorical bridge, like the colony of grey scale sufferers living at the Bridge of Dream.
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    Out of Context Quotes

    I think there is a "The Piss that was Promised" thread somewhere in the archives. People have definitely been discussing this. The privy shafts almost certainly connect to a "Chutes and Ladders" metaphor that was discussed in another thread. One of the many games that GRRM incorporated in the symbolism for the Game of Thrones. In some countries, the game is known as "Snakes and Ladders," and he acknowledges that by including the serpentine necks of dragons and serpentine steps in the game. If privy shafts are chutes, I suspect that weirwood trees are ladders - we see Will in the prologue, Bran (via Summer) and Arya and Wex Pyke climbing trees or trying to climb trees at various points. Dany tries to grow trees. Sansa finds no tree at the Eyrie. And it's just a short hop from ladder to bladder . . . There could also be wordplay around step and sept and septic system . . .
  14. I'm lovin' this. I like the "impulse to kill" explanation, but I think your next insights might be even more to the point: these sourleaf characters seem to be "evil twins" or remote agents or -- dare I say it? -- daemons of characters we have seen elsewhere. Bran and Arya both taste blood in their mouths when their wolves make a kill. Maybe the chewers of sourleaf are like those direwolves, out ranging and making kills that provide a (false) sense of "nourishment" for a major character. You mention the pious dwarf as a symbolic Tyrion, and I think that is correct. He is also a guide for Brienne, telling her about Nimble Dick Crabb's boasting about fooling a fool and (iirc) the Stinking Goose. There's something symbolic about Brienne taking his seat and the dwarf eats her food, as I recall. There could also be a clue in the rhyming "sparrow" and "arrow," as Tyrion later seems to have some crossbow discussion with Snatch. Is this sour leaf / red mouth group a closed loop? Interlocking loops? Tyrion kills Tywin with a crossbow. The pious dwarf (sparrow / arrow) launches Brienne on her quest. (Tyrion begins his quest after killing Tywin.) The pious dwarf is beheaded as bounty hunters search for dwarf heads to present to Cersei, hoping to cash in on the reward she offers for Tyrion's death. Tyrion meets up with Snatch, who is the new embodiment of Tyrion's loyal champion, Bronn. Snatch may be a player in the upcoming invasion of Westeros, which Tyrion intends as the means to topple Cersei from power. Recall, also, that Tyrion and Bronn first encounter each other at the inn at the crossroads, where Masha Heddle was the proprietor. But here's a different, related loop, if you think sour leaf and lemons might be linked: Cersei does not like washing her mouth with lemons, even though it's supposedly good for her teeth. Emmon Frey (one of the three Emmon lemons in the books) is the Frey most closely linked to the Lannister family and he is a red-mouthed chewer of sour leaf. The Freys were the blood thirsty implementers of the Red Wedding. Therefore, Emmon Frey is a symbolic direwolf for Cersei. Emmon wants Edmure Tully to die so his claim to Riverrun will be free of challengers. Brynden "Blackfish" Tully escapes Riverrun, apparently living up to his trout sigil by swimming out into the Trident under a gate. (There has to be deliberate symbolism around the "Trident," meaning "three teeth" and the dental hygiene associated with lemons.) Lem Lemoncloak wades into the Trident to retrieve a duck shot with an arrow (ASoS, Chap. 13, Arya II). He hopes it will be cooked with lemon, but there are no lemons. Later on the same journey, Arya obtains clean drinking water from a trout-shaped fountain to ease the suffering of caged northmen, sentenced to death for rape. She pours the water into their cracked and bleeding mouths. Anguy then kills the men with arrows to put them out of their misery (ASoS, Chap. 29, Arya V). This is fun. Here's another loop: Sour leaf chewer Ser Bennis of the Brown Shield wounds one of the servants of the Red Widow, cutting his cheek with the tip of his sword. He later downplays the wound, saying that it's just a little claret -- a type of wine -- on the man's cheek. Brynden Blackwood has a wine stain birthmark on his cheek. Biter (whose name may be wordplay on "bitter") bites Brienne's cheek at the inn at the crossroads. where we earlier saw sour leaf chewer Masha Heddle. Brienne is a descendant of Ser Duncan the Tall, who voluntarily sustains a cheek injury in an attempt to avoid worse bloodshed with the Red Widow. Masha might be part of the Asha and Osha group of rhyming characters. Masha's nieces, Willow and Jeyne, take over the inn after Masha dies, and they are almost certainly intended as parallels of Arya and Sansa. So it would make sense that Masha is a parallel, too. Maybe she is a symbolic Catelyn? I just looked at the character profile for Snatch on the wiki, and the parallel to Bronn is fascinating. Tyrion says, "Bronn's meaner bastard shadow, or I'm Baelor the Beloved." I'm starting to suspect that shadows are the big dark magic weapon of mass destruction in ASOIAF. Melisandre knows how to conjure them in strategic ways, but there are a lot of other shadows we should probably be watching. Tyrion wears a shadow cloak when he descends to the dank cellar of the alchemists to see the stockpile of wildfire grenades. So this Snatch could be a very interesting companion as Tyrion's arc moves to its next stage. This is a long shot, but I also wonder about a parallel between Snatch and the fool Patchface, with the vaguely rhyming name. Patchface talks about "silver seaweed" in one of his cryptic speeches. In an early attempt at anagramming for clues, I wondered whether silver seaweed might represent "wise red leaves." If Patchface himself is not a parallel for Snatch, he might at least be telling us what we can learn from characters who chew sourleaf. You've been looking at the red mouths more closely than I have, so I suspect you have many more insights. I look forward to learning more.
  15. I agree that the word "pale" has a particular connection to cold. I didn't look at characters as much as places, and it looks like I moved onto other things before pinning down a definite explanation. Maybe your analysis of pale eyes will zero in on GRRM's hidden meaning.
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