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  1. Seams

    Wow, I never noticed that v.17

    I understand the grey / white association with the Starks, but the emphasis with the Tattered Prince and the windblown is on wind. My guess is that the grey / white / blue combination represents sky and clouds: If the cloud and sky connection is correct, I see a great real or symbolic link to House Arryn, whose Eyrie is perched above waycastles called stone, snow and sky. I believe it is while she is at the Eyrie that Sansa / Alayne has the vision of two cloud castles merging to become one. Because the Tattered Prince left Pentos when he was elected Prince of Pentos, I don't think he is a literal Arryn (or Rodrik Stark) - only members of the forty families in Pentos are allowed to become Prince. But he could be a symbolic, "shadow" version of one of these characters, used by GRRM to drop hints about parallels in Westeros. The main religion in Pentos is The faith of R'hllor. In fact, I wonder whether "Pentos = No Sept." The R'hllor affinity and the sailing imagery might recommend a closer examination of Moqorro for clues about the Tattered Prince or the Windblown: two of Moqorro's "five fingers" acolytes are carried away in a storm while holding ropes fastened to a sail. (There is an interesting parallel when Sweetrobin descends from the Eyrie with Sansa and Mya Stone - two servants hold the corners of his cloak, I believe, and he is like a falcon ready to fly.) That storm scene with Moqorro's fingers might also lead to consideration of the storm god . . . . We might also look at mast imagery, however - would masts be considered the opposite of sails? Partners that work together with sails? Mast imagery includes the wooden images of the seven that Melisandre burns at Dragonstone. (The wooden figures were carved from the masts of ships that brought Targaryens to Westeros.) Marwyn is called The Mastiff and we all recall that Sam Tarly has a famous fat pink mast. But clouds literally rise above masts and sails. I was finding some cloud hints in Dunk's many warnings to Egg about getting a "clout" on the ear, but I don't know when or if I will ever get back to analyzing that.
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    FIRE AND BLOOD EXCERPT

    I'm interested in the crossovers between maesters as smiths, forging their own chains, and maesters as dogs, wearing tight collars. These mask/rod/ring items seem to allude to a maester / warrior connection: the metal masks and rods seem very armor-like, and rings are associated with mail. I wonder whether archmaesters see themselves as an army of warriors? Of course, mummers also wear masks . . . The other day, I was pondering the three gifts on the table before the Widow of the Waterfront: a goblet, a fan and a dagger covered with runes. I wonder whether these are parallel to the three things held by each archmaester? The picture of the widow with the fan in front of her face might be compared to a mask. The other comparison that comes to mind is with the Rainbow Guard. Each member has his or her own color, presumably assigned by Renly. He wants a complete set of seven but it's funny how each member of the guard seems to have a connection to the color assigned to him/her. Ser Loras, as Lord Commander, doesn't have a color so indigo is not used to reach the complete set of seven. Another thought: the high septon is associated with his crystal crown, stolen by the mob during the bread riot, replaced by Tywin at great expense and then sold by the High Sparrow to buy food for the poor. I wonder whether there is a metal / crystal conflict between maesters / septons, like a game of rock / paper / scissors?
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    Bowen Marsh's Plan

    I agree with this. Although Jon said that he planned to buy food in the Riverlands, Vale, Reach, Dorne and Stormlands as well as the Free Cities, he isn't aware that much of the food supply has been destroyed by the fighting and the occupying armies. The Vale is hoarding its food along with its bannermen. So any food the Night's Watch is able to purchase is likely to be shipped through Eastwatch. If the wildlings are on their way north or returning from trying to save their friends at Hardhome, they may commandeer any arriving food and supplies at that end of the Wall. We haven't considered the possibility - which I suspect is likely - that Marsh was just the catspaw in the attack on Jon. Someone like Thorne or even Denys Mallister might be the real leader of the NW mutiny. Marsh was over by the Shadow Tower when he led the skirmish against the Weeper at the Bridge of Skulls, so he and Mallister might have conferred.
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    Chaos of Conspiracy

    Here's another thought that just came out of thin air. " . . . The innkeep never hung another sign, so men forgot the dragon and took to calling the place the River Inn. In those days, the Trident flowed beneath its back door, and half its rooms were built out over the water. Guests could throw a line out their window and catch a trout, it's said. There was a ferry landing here as well, so travelers could cross to Lord Harroway's Town and Whitewalls. " "We left the Trident south of here, and have been riding north and west . . . not toward the river but away from it." "Aye, my lady," the septon said. "The river moved. Seventy years ago, it was. Or was it eighty? It was when old Masha Heddle's grandfather kept the place. It was her who told me all this history. . . . " (AFfC, Chap. 37, Brienne VIII) Rivers move. We know the story of House Manderly, forced to move from the Westerlands to the North, in spite of their wealth and prominence. The Rhoynar were forced to leave Essos and take refuge in Dorne. Children from the "wrong side of the sheets" are named Rivers, and we see Brynden Rivers relocate to the far North, beyond the Wall. Maybe this comes into play in a more "fluid" approach to governance or loyalty to leadership. I keep meaning to get back to my "Key to all Mythologies" approach to the Dunk & Egg stories (I know you can appreciate that Middlemarch reference) and I'm sure the diverted Chequy Water, the stream separating Coldmoat and Standfast, is part of this moving rivers symbolism. Another example: as they travel the Rhoyne river, Tyrion and his companions aboard the Shy Maid make an unexpected and weird return to the lurking stone men at the Bridge of Dream. I suspect this is not a magical time travel event but that the boat got caught up in an oxbow that had reconnected to the river during a time of high water, returning them to a point below the bridge they had already passed. Just to complicate things, I think the Wall is supposed to be compared to a river in some ways. In some recent thread, I suggested that Donal Noye fighting the giant in the tunnel near Castle Black is like Robert fighting Rhaegar at the Ruby Ford. As for their willingness to take Robb as their king, keep in mind that he was born at Riverrun. He ordered that the sword Ice be returned to him at Riverrun. His crown was made by the smith at Riverrun. Of course, I am ever pondering the wolf - flow - fowl pun, wondering whether they are interchangeable, or whether there is something about the unification of opposites. At any rate, when wolf (Ned) married flow (Catelyn), their children probably took on aspects of both Houses. You mention all your current irons in the fire on so many hot ASOIAF topics, and I sympathize completely! The absolute best thing, though, is when you can connect a couple or three topics in a way that makes sense. Your point about the small folk stepping into the BwB vacancies left by slain knights and squires is really sparking me on a variety of topics. I wonder whether one of GRRM's points is that Riverrun and Darry and Harrenhal are somewhat beside the point, and we should really be looking at a place like the inn at the crossroads to understand who "rules" the Riverlands. The Heddle family may be the real leaders. It is no accident that Gendry has taken up residence there - we may see a unification of the Baratheon (Bellringer, Peach) line with the Heddle line, if Gendry settles down with Willow or Jeyne. If this "smallfolk = legitimate" theory is correct, it could also explain why Jaime muses that Sansa should marry an innkeeper - he's not foreshadowing Sansa hooking up with Gendry (although I can't rule out such a plot twist) but might be confirming my hunch that Sansa is a descendant of royalty and should be legitimized. I just re-read the wiki entry for Amerei "Gatehouse Ami" Frey, and found a key bit of information in the identity of her first husband. After she was found having group sex with a bunch of grooms, she was quickly married off to a hedge knight, Ser Pate of the Blue Fork. So there are her "river" bona fides - she was married to a "river" before he was killed by Gregor Clegane and then she embarked on her unconsummated marriage to Lancel Lannister. One more thought off the top of my head: when Catelyn and Robb are traveling to the Twins, unaware that they are heading toward their doom, they have a really hard time crossing the rain-swollen river. Like the Whispering Wood, was the river trying to warn them not to go in that direction? Edmure effectively shuts down the Lannister army, turning them back at every place they want to cross the river. Turns out, Robb wanted the Lannisters to cross the river and he was ready to crush their army if they had reached their destination. The Game in the riverlands seems to be a river crossing game and this might help to sort out the apparent conspiracies.
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    Chaos of Conspiracy

    I'm not 100% sure I understand your question, but I'll venture a theory anyway. What if the BwB situation is a variation on a theme? Your post is actually related to the topic posted eight hours later, asking what is Bowen Marsh's Plan. The potential in-story archetype I see for both of them is the story of the corpse Queen and the thirteenth Lord Commander / Night's King. In the Riverlands parallel, Beric Dondarrion receives his assignment from Ned Stark. Even though he is acting on behalf of Robert, the plan is Ned's idea and he gives the order. So Beric is a sort of Ned stand-in, in this theory. Beric continues to act as he believes King Robert would want him to do, even after dying and being revived multiple times. Then he meets the corpse wife of Ned and he kisses her, giving up his life to revive her. She takes command not of Beric's love life, but of the Brotherhood itself. Your observation about the small folk rising up to fill the ranks of the BwB is key to linking the different arcs. Just as regular folks join the BwB, we see the ranks of the once-proud Night's Watch filled with the lowest of small folk and, finally, with wildlings and women. The similar situation at the Wall would, I suspect, require Val to fill the role of the corpse Queen. Just as Jon is being stabbed by his Night's Watch brothers, the giant Wun Wun is protecting Val from unwanted advances by Ser Patrek. If this model is correct, Val will be the one to step up and take command of the wildlings after Jon's death. I may be wrong - Melisandre might fill the role of the corpse queen, but it doesn't seem as if the wildlings would follow her willingly. I suppose another alternative would be Queen Selyse, with her loyal Queen's men, trying to take charge while Stannis is busy down at Winterfell. And then there's Sam and Gilly as a possible Night's King / Corpse Queen pair . . . . The resolution comes from the squeeze play by the King Beyond the Wall and King of Winter attacking from above and below to defeat the rogue Lord Commander. The "strange sorceries" he uses to bind his sworn brothers are finally ended when he is "brought down" by the armies of the two attacking kings. Which two armies might create a squeeze play on the BwB and on the Night's Watch? (If the latter group falls "under the spell" of a rogue commander?) We know that Lyle Crakehall is heading out to battle the BwB at the end of ADwD. Of course, the Night's King story could easily be one of the unreliable narrator situations - when the victors write the history, the vanquished are described as 100% evil. The history says that atrocities were committed during the thirteen years of the rule of the Night's King. We know that atrocities are committed in the Riverlands, but they are committed by Gregor Clegane's men and by "wolves" associated with Robb Stark's army. Will Beric and Lady Stoneheart be blamed for those crimes if the Lannisters write the history of the War of the Five Kings? Wildlings such as Rattleshirt, Varamyr, The Weeper and Craster commit atrocities (from the point of view of most readers and Westeros residents). Will Jon Snow be blamed for those crimes?
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    Fate of Olyvar Frey

    I like @Curled Finger's idea to look at the missing young men as a group or pattern: Olyvar Frey, Raynald Westerling and Tyrek Lannister. I do think that GRRM uses repeated plot elements for foreshadowing and to drop hints to readers. I have tried to find a set of common elements in the missing uncles that seem to be common across a number of families and major POV characters, but more examination is needed. Someone could also start an interesting thread on the bond between squires and the warriors they serve: Pod's loyalty to Tyrion, subsequently bestowed upon Brienne; Wex Pyke's dedication to Theon; Richard Lonmouth's relationship with Rhaegar and a number of other squire / warrior situations seem to result in a dedication from squire to boss (I'm avoiding using the word "knight") that is true and strong, even after the boss disappears. But some of the Olyvar clues might come from a closer analysis of the Walder Frey dynasty. People play the game of thrones in different ways, and Walder's way is to marry into houses strategically. He may also be deliberately setting his many heirs against each other - similar to, hmm, I don't know, maybe Aegon IV? Part of this notion comes from the metaphor that drew me into this forum: sewing. When fabric frays, it is unraveling and falling apart. But a fray can also be "disorderly or protracted fight, struggle, or dispute," just like the melees that are often part of tourneys in ASOIAF. Finally, the Frey of Scandinavian mythology is a god of peace, prosperity, and marriage. I don't know about peace, but Lord Walder seems to use marriage as a battleground, as we saw at the Red Wedding. All of these meanings seem to tie into the Frey family approach to the game that is the central metaphor of the Westeros struggle for power. So how does Olyvar fit into Walder's larger gameplay? Let's look at Walder's marriages / descendants: Perra Royce - Riverlands - black iron studs and runes on bronze field Cyrenna Swann - Stormlands - battling white / black swans (golden beaks and feet) on black / white fields Amarei Crakehall - Westerlands - black and white boar on brown field Alyssa Blackwood - Riverlands - ravens and dead weirwood tree, scarlet and black Sarya Whent - Riverlands - nine bats on yellow - no children Bethany Rosby - Crownlands - ermine w/ three red chevronets (like sergeant stripes?) Annara Farring - Crownlands - knights combatant, purple and argent (white) Joyeuse Erenford - Riverlands - gold heron, black legs and beak, w/ silver fish in beak on pink background Baseborn (Charlton) - Riverlands - three sprigs of mistletoe on yellow w/ green In Walder's Royce descendants, some of the sons / grandsons have given names associated with Targaryens (Aegon, Rhaegar, Aenys) or Lannisters (Tywin, also the marriage to Genna Lannister) and also Baratheons (Lyonel, Robert, Steffon). One grandson marries into the Hardyng family, which I have linked to dragon teeth and black diamonds (probably = obsidian). I think this group of descendants represents Walder's aspirations to be part of the ruling family or inner circle in Westeros. When Catelyn killed the fool Aegon / Jinglebell, I think she was symbolically killing Lord Walder himself and signaling that the Freys of this Royce group will all be targeted for slaughter, denying Walder the royal ties he hopes to achieve. The role of Walder's Swann descendants isn't as clear to me, although they do have a Tytos (Lannister name) in this group. I think the opposition of the swans in the House Swann sigil might be a clue for us. We know that there is an ugly duckling motif connected to Arya's arc. It might be that we will see a transformation of swan characters from ugly to beautiful or some other kinds of switching of alliances. House Crakehall is from the Westerlands. We have seen an unsuccessful marriage arranged between Amerei Frey (granddaughter of Walder and Amerei Crakehall) with Cersei's former lover, Lancel Lannister. This may signal that Walder's alliance with the Lannisters will not go as planned, and that the major favor Walder did for Tywin by ambushing Robb Stark may not result in better relationships with the current occupants of the Iron Throne. Jaime thinks he sees a bond between Amerei Frey and Lyle Crakehall, her cousin through her grandmother's line. Unfortunately for the Lannister's, Amerei Frey is nicknamed "Gatehouse Ami," and she may symbolize the Frey control of the strategic crossing point over the Trident. Lancel alienating Ami is a problem for the Lannisters. This is the House of Fat Walda, however, so there is a connection to Roose Bolton as well. There is a Hoster among Lord Walder's Blackwood descendants, but this is not the line that allies with House Tully, interestingly. The names of the descendants in this group don't seem to allude to other houses in Westeros. My guess is that this Blackwood alliance is intended to be enigmatic at this point in the novels, as we don't know enough about Bloodraven and Melissa Blackwood and their relationship to Aegon IV and his descendants. The childless Sarya Whent is a wordplay hint for readers, I suspect: Walder would have liked to have descendants with a Whent pedigree, so he might make a claim for Harrenhal. So he is sorry this wife went before she had children. Now Olyvar's house: Rosby. Not a huge group, yet, but this is the group linked to both the Starks and House Tully, with Olyvar as Robb Stark's squire and Roslin married to Edmure Tully. The ermine in their sigil is an animal's fur, often associated (irl) with the robes of kings. What kind of animal, I hear you asking? Well that would be a type of weasel called a STOAT, the nickname that Jaime's cousin, Daven, applies to the Frey family. With the skinchanging and fur-skinning imagery in the books, I'm not sure whether Walder was trying to "wear" ermine when he married Bethany Rosby, or whether he is trying to put a Frey / stoat skin on the Starks and Tullys by sending these descendants into alliances with those houses. The red stripes on the sigil look like symbolic knife wounds, though, or might represent the gashes Catelyn scratched on her own face as she was murdered at The Twins. (At one point, I believe Arya pictured herself as a skinless otter, swimming across the Godseye to get to Winterfell. I don't know if that is related to the ermine symbolism of this group of Frey descendants.) Interesting to note that there are no Walda or Walder descendants in this group. Bethany Rosby's second son, Benfry, died at the Red Wedding. His wife, Jyanna, is described as a cousin and her surname was already Frey when she married Benfry, but it is not clear from which of Walder's wives she is descended, if any. GRRM is not dropping a lot of clues about the direction he has in mind for the Rosby descendants of Walder Frey. The mystery of the ward of Gyles Rosby may be linked to the mystery here, or they may be indirectly, symbolically linked in the sense that the author doesn't want us to know what will happen. With one key exception, the Farring descendants are too young to have much role in the plot, so the sigil may be our best clue. The battling knights implies a conflict, in my mind, and the purple and argent are colors associated with Targaryens. I think this may be foreshadowing a return of Targaryens who will battle each other. Interesting that Arya's broken betrothal was with Elmar, the squire who cleaned rust from Roose Bolton's armor with a barrel of sand. (He didn't quite get all the rust off but decided it was good enough.) Arya (disguised as Weasel or Nan) told Elmar that she hopes his princess dies. The Erenford sigil strikes me as symbolic in a few potential ways. It seems to be a hint about getting the best of House Tully (the heron holds a fish in its beak) and possibly wordplay on heron / Harrenhal. It also seems as if GRRM is making a deliberate contrast to the Swann sigil, described earlier, if we can trust that the wiki reflects his input. This bird is gold with black beak and feet. The Swann sigil includes a black bird with gold beak and feet. I know people put a lot of stock in color reversals as symbols of bastard houses, but I'm not sure that is the clue here. Swans an herons are different birds. It does seem as if we are getting a hint here about a reversal, however. Will the heron eat the fish, or will it inadvertently drop the fish in the river and enable it to swim away? The wiki singles out a baseborn group of descendants, so I thought I would include it for consideration here. The alliance isn't official because there was no marriage by Lord Walder, but the association seems to be with House Charlton. The mistletoe sigil may be a reference to the importance of mistletoe to Celtic druids, but I don't know how to interpret it. I've been wanting to do an analysis of Walder's alliances and gameplay for some time, and this post really only scratches the surface. There are Beesburys married into two of Walder's descendant houses, for instance. Beesburys are traditionally opposed to Hardyngs. So it would be worth looking at that. There is also the Darry connection. We know that House Darry was said to have spirited the Targaryen children, Viserys and Daenerys, to safety in Essos (for a period of time, anyway). I think there is also a dairy / Darry pun that ties back into House Butterwell, where Lord Walder's sister was the bride in the Dunk & Egg story. Plus, I have this weird hunch that Ser Arthur Dayne is connected to House Darry . . . Now that Amerei Frey has been set up as the Lady of Darry castle, and now that her Lannister husband has left her, what hints can we expect about the Targaryen loyalists who were the previous occupants of that house? The Crakehall boar sigil tells me that we can expect them to be present at the future death of a king, as we have seen boars and boar imagery at the deaths of several kings so far. (Borroq and his boar take up residence in the Castle Black lichyard shortly before Jon Snow is stabbed.) The initial Royce marriage and the many Royce descendants from Walder's first marriage surely tie into the Royces will be seeing at the Gates of the Moon. We know that Littlefinger has set up the main and junior branches of House Royce in a conflict over his role as Lord Protector of the Vale. We have seen Sansa and Randa Royce described in terms applied to the Bracken / Blackwell rival mistresses of Aegon IV. I think we can anticipate a similar split in the Royce descendants of Walder Frey, perhaps dividing the groups with Targ names from the group with Lannister names. So Olyvar and his fate are part of this much larger set of moving parts, I suspect.
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    What to ask GRRM?

    The Long Bridge in Volantis straddles the Rhoyne. At a stall on the bridge, Ser Jorah haggles for a pair of gloves in order to arrive with the customary gift to give to the Widow of the Waterfront. Ser Jorah produced his pair of gloves, and slapped them down on the table beside the other gifts the widow had received this morning: a silver goblet, an ornate fan carved of jade leaves so thin they were translucent, and an ancient bronze dagger marked with runes. Beside such treasures the gloves looked cheap and tawdry. (ADwD, Tyrion VII, Chap. 27) Like Ser Jorah and Tyrion, Penny and Moqorro become passengers on the ill-fated Selaesori Qhoran. Which of the three gifts (goblet, fan and dagger) did Moqorro and Penny give to the Widow? Who gave the third gift?
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    Lollys Stokeworth appreciation post

    Predictably, I like her symbolic value. Some of the points I find important in the Lollys universe: 1) House Stokeworth controls the food supply for King's Landing. Her House is in a very strategic position and she might hate Cersei, if she figures out who killed her sister. 2) Lollys is now protected by Tyrion's "cat": there are references to Bronn as a feline (panther, maybe?) but he stepped away from Tyrion, allowing Oberyn to step in at the last trial by combat. Now Bronn is protecting Lollys who, I'm sure, Cersei would like to clear out so she could grant Castle Stokeworth to someone in her inner circle. 3) Like the mysterious Joanna Lannister, Lollys has a baby named Tyrion whose biological father is a bit of an unknown. Unlike Joanna, Lollys is still alive. We may get some hints about the life and death (or disappearance) of Joanna if we see more of Lollys in the future. 4) Stokeworths were present when major characters were using the serpentine steps in the Red Keep. Those steps turn out to have important symbolic value in the Game of Thrones and in hatching and riding dragons. I think there is also an anagram involving Lollys hidden in the name of the long gallery, where Sansa and Ser Dontos see Targaryen suits of armor casting shadows that seem to come to life as they pass through the gallery with a torch. As the Battle of the Blackwater begins, Lollys refuses to enter Maegor's Holdfast, which I believe is the symbolic center of the "game" of thrones game board, until Sansa asks her to cross the bridge and enter the building. All of these little details add up to tell me that Lollys is an important symbolic player in determining who will win the game. "Fools" in ASOIAF are not foolish, in the sense that we use the word; they tend to reveal wise truths that are not recognized or valued by the people around them. I think Lollys is one of these fool characters and that we underestimate her at our own peril.
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    FIRE AND BLOOD EXCERPT

    The released excerpt, describing the flirtation between the Queen and Lord Stark, and the dragon refusing to fly across the Wall, is starting to clarify one interpretation of GRRM's major metaphors: the Wall. I have been slowly re-reading The Sworn Sword for the third time this year, trying to get my thoughts together for the next installment of the A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms re-read. @Feather Crystal suggested a comparison of the Wall with the dam in The Sworn Sword and this opened a floodgate (so to speak) of interpretation for me. In The Sworn Sword, we have two Houses that were once on good terms but are now completely at odds with each other: House Osgrey and House Webber. They are separated by a stream called the Chequy Water and neither head of household will cross the stream or stream bed to the land of the other neighbor - I think both the stream and the dam are the barrier in the novella, where the Wall embodies both water and dam in ASOIAF. After our hero kills one evil presence and another evil presence runs away, it is as if a magical barrier has fallen away and the two estranged heads of household don't just start to communicate, but actually get married. In the Fire & Blood excerpt, we hear that Alysanne is determined to fly beyond the Wall, but her dragon refuses to cross the line. Lord Alaric Stark met the Queen and the dragon and "He then proceeded to declare that he did not want her dragon inside his walls." Perhaps symbolically, Jaehaerys is "trapped" at King's Landing, bringing together two enemy communities in a diplomatic negotiation, while the Alysanne / Alaric alliance seems to be building to a climax in the north. Inside walls, separated by walls, lots of wall stuff going on. Does Alysanne have to "rescue" both Alaric and Jaehaerys? Is she the dragon between both walls? I know that the Wall is complex and has many layers of interpretation as a metaphor, but it appears that marriage and/or sexual attraction is one of the symbols GRRM is putting forward for our consideration. Although it might even be more fundamental than that: crossing barriers to end enmity and promote goodwill. As a Tully, Catelyn is always a river symbol. She has to be present, I believe, when Renly and Stannis parly (and Renly offers Stannis a peach which Stannis declines.) As I get further along in deciphering The Sworn Sword, I will share what I can of the Chequy Water as a hint about the larger dam and Wall metaphor. I wonder what it means that Dunk the Lunk is thick as a castle wall, but he seems to be the catalyst to bring down the barrier between Houses Webber and Osgrey? I know the Chequy / cheek metaphor has something to do with biting peaches, which brings me to the lyrics of The Dornishman's Wife: "The Dornishman's Wife" is a song about a man who slept with the wife of a Dornishman. Although he died of wounds received in a duel with the Dornishman, the man considered it a fair trade. https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/The_Dornishman's_Wife
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    FIRE AND BLOOD EXCERPT

    Another option, short of divorce: when Quentyn Ball wanted to be single so he would be better-suited to the Kingsguard, he made his wife join the Silent Sisters.
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    What to ask GRRM?

    Did Ned and Catelyn and (separately, we presume) Jon Arryn and Lysa both have the standard "bedding" ceremonies at their wedding feasts?
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    Sansa really is Alayne

    Actually, the Fire & Blood excerpt with Queen Alysanne Targaryen and Lord Alaric Stark opens a new possibility in my mind. Maybe there is a special affinity between the direwolves and Targaryens, like the slow-simmering romance (it seems) between Alaric and Alysanne. You are probably right that Sansa / Alayne wouldn't have the same warging ability that a Stark would have, but she may have had some skinchanging ability and this special Targ / Stark mutual attraction that we saw in an earlier generation. I know. It does seem as if his achievement in spite of relative lowborn status is one of very few reasons to like this character. But it always gnawed at me that Hoster Tully and Jon Arryn inexplicably showed him such warm hospitality and mentorship. If they knew a secret about his paternity, that might explain their interest. And I have a new possible theory that might keep his "mutt" status alive. Previously, I suspected that he was a descendant of Blackfyres, Velaryons or of Aerion Brightflame. But what if he is a descendant of Bloodraven? I haven't looked at the details, but this would be a wonderful plot twist, if it works. Littlefinger does refer to himself as a juggler, I think, and Jon Snow says he would like to see the direwolf Ghost learn to juggle. Ghost has the same coloring as Bloodraven . . . And Littlefinger would be a great name for a descendant of a famous HAND of the King . . . Totally agree. The only rationale I can think of for this is that it is not a kiss of passionate love, in spite of the tongue. I hope it's more like Beric Dondarrion kissing Catelyn to bring her to life as Lady Stoneheart. Baelish is waking up Sansa to a new identity; reanimating her. He is also trying to provoke Lysa, who he may have been aware would be watching him wherever he went. Sansa mistakenly believes that she was kissed by The Hound, who represents the Night. Instead, she is kissed by (possibly) a hidden Targ, who may represent fire, the Hound's greatest enemy. The tongue is associated with flames - in the skull discussion, I just read an excerpt where Melisandre envisions Jon Snow "limned" ( = painted) with tongues of red and orange flames, or something like that. So the tongue could be important in a Targaryen, flame-related kiss or rebirth ritual.
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    A Question about Skulls

    Melisandre on Patchface: "That creature is dangerous. Many a time I have glimpsed him in my flames. Sometimes there are skulls about him, and his lips are red with blood." (ADwD) Show me Stannis, Lord, she prayed. Show me your king, your instrument. Visions danced before her, gold and scarlet, flickering, forming and melting and dissolving into one another, shapes strange and terrifying and seductive. She saw the eyeless faces again, staring out at her from sockets weeping blood. Then the towers by the sea, crumbling as the dark tide came sweeping over them, rising from the depths. Shadows in the shape of skulls, skulls that turned to mist, bodies locked together in lust, writhing and rolling and clawing. Through curtains of fire great winged shadows wheeled against a hard blue sky. (ADwD) Snowflakes swirled from a dark sky and ashes rose to meet them, the grey and the white whirling around each other as flaming arrows arced above a wooden wall and dead things shambled silent through the cold, beneath a great grey cliff where fires burned inside a hundred caves. Then the wind rose and the white mist came sweeping in, impossibly cold, and one by one the fires went out. Afterward only the skulls remained. Death, thought Melisandre. The skulls are death. The flames crackled softly, and in their crackling she heard the whispered name Jon Snow. His long face floated before her, limned in tongues of red and orange, appearing and disappearing again, a shadow half-seen behind a fluttering curtain. Now he was a man, now a wolf, now a man again. But the skulls were here as well, the skulls were all around. Melisandre had seen this danger before, had tried to warn the boy of it. Enemies all around him, daggers in the dark. He would not listen. (ADwD) Melisandre sees a lot of skulls. I assume the Knight of Skulls and Kisses is consistent with other uses of skulls as symbols, but I don't know that Melisandre is picturing Richard Lonmouth, necessarily. Long ago, I remember wondering whether Patchface was a symbolic King Robert, with his antler helmet and his resurrection after drowning. (Robert is "reborn" as Lord of Storm's End when his father drowns, and Robert also says he felt alive fighting for the Iron Throne and dead after achieving it.) But I just saw an interesting comparison of Patchface and Renly, who also wore an antler helmet. Melisandre says she is ancient, and I think this vision (and, perhaps, her confusion in interpreting it) is a result of her having lived variations on the same events over and over again - like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day (or the Flying Dutchman or The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner). She thinks skulls represent death, which seems like a reasonable belief. Maybe she is unaware that death is just the first step in the three-part process of rebirth and that death/skulls always lead to rebirth. Or maybe she wants to stop the cycle, somehow. Melisandre likes fire and the shadows cast by fires. She tells Jon Snow that he casts a giant shadow against the Wall, and she seems to like him and his direwolf. She sees the skulls as the enemy of Jon Snow, apparently. It might be the case that Richard Lonmouth or the pro-Renly or pro-Robert people represented by skulls would be anti-Jon Snow. If Lem Lemoncloak is Richard Lonmouth (and I think he is), I think most readers have assumed that he would be helpful to whoever is shown to be Rhaegar's son. So this skull thing may be an interesting hint about a future dynamic between Jon Snow and these skull-associated characters. Maybe Richard Lonmouth won't fall into the pro-Jon Snow faction. Maybe he will recognize Young Griff / Aegon or maybe he has transferred all his loyalty to the Brotherhood Without Banners, which appears to have switched loyalty from Robert to Lady Stoneheart.
  14. Seams

    What to ask GRRM?

    It is the German word for "thorn." Part of the wordplay around throne / thorn / north, I suspect.
  15. Seams

    Sansa really is Alayne

    Skip this if you hate wordplay. Sansa has auburn hair. Au + burn. Au = periodic table symbol for gold. burn = melt Does Sansa have a melted gold crown, like Viserys? When she becomes Alayne, though, she dyes her hair. hair = heir . . . .
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