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  1. I haven't seen any other Dr. Seuss references in ASOIAF (although they may have just sailed over my head) and I don't see an environmental theme connected to Hizdahr. (Although Dany does plant trees while she is in Essos.) If I had to guess, I might go for "coral" as the basis for the name. Coral as a color is a shade of red: because we have seen Dany enamored of the blue-bearded Daario, she may be working on her rule of three badge by moving on to a "red" lover with her reluctant marriage. (The three forks of the Trident dictate a lot of my guesswork on color combinations for our main characters.) Coral would also fit with the "under the sea" lines from Patchface that seem prophetic. Substituting the letter Q into the name might be a GRRM clue for a magical mentor: I have speculated that Qyburn, Moqorro, and Qhorin are Q-characters who serve specific, magical roles in the quests of some main characters. But there are other mentors and other (to my mind) magical characters who do not have letters Q in their name, so these Q-characters may have a more narrow role I haven't yet recognized or it may be just a coincidence that they all have a letter Q. I can't remember who it was in the forum who speculated that the character "Q" from the James Bond movies might have been an inspiration for the magical mentors. Providing a special weapon or other magical item for the hero is an important function for a mentor. If marriage to Hizdahr and reopening of the fighting pit was necessary for Dany to become a dragon rider, Hizdahr's magic-giving role has been achieved.
  2. The fighting pit build-up in Meereen matches up with The Wizard of Oz: the royal procession: "... the many-colored bricks of Meereen. Their masks gleamed in the sun: boars and bulls, hawks and herons, lions and tigers and bears, fork-tongued serpents and hideous basilisks." spectators arranged in rainbow colors Dany becoming a dragon rider allows her to fly "over the rainbow" Reverse the Oz to zo and suddenly Hizdahr zo Loraq sounds like Wizard Oz _____ (haven't yet figured out the Loraq).
  3. This is all very helpful! The sacrifice role for sheep feels accurate. But the "blind followers" angle also seems to ring true with some of the sheep references in the books - the archmaesters as "grey sheep" (contrasting with Marwyn the mastiff) is the strongest evidence for this. I did skim the known sigils to see if I could find sheep imagery in addition to House Rambton and House Stokeworth. (In the wiki, the noble houses for each region are shown at the bottom of the page for that region. If anyone has a better suggestion for searching sigil imagery, let me know.) Besides those two, the only clear sheep reference was an odd one: House Woolfield in the North. The Woolfield sigil is three bags of wool. They are sworn to House Manderly and semi-canon sources say they may be associated with Ramsgate or the Sheepshead Hills. Leona Woolfield is married to Manderly heir, Wylis, and is the mother of Wynafryd and Wylla, who are part of the fake betrothal deal that Wyman Manderly pretends to make with the Baratheon/Lannister regime. This image and story make me think that sheep's wool has a meaning separate from sheep as animals of sacrifice or from mutton - sheep that are eaten. The fleece symbolism may go back to that "wolf in sheep's clothing" or "pulling the wool over your eyes" that describes Jon Snow wearing sheep skin while he mingles among the Free Folk. Or is the point here that the wool family can turn the tables on their enemies; avoiding being sacrificed (in arranged marriages) while bringing about the deaths of their betrothed: Wynafryd is betrothed to Rhaegar Frey who is one of the three Frey messengers likely baked into the Frey pie. (The wiki reminds me that Rhaegar Frey wears a lambskin doublet. What does that mean in the symbolism?) Wylla is betrothed to Little Walder whose frozen, bloody body is found at Winterfell. @Stormy4400 I am not yet sure of the possible Mooton / mutton wordplay. Because mutton is the meat form of sheep, I think I need to take a closer look at meals and feasts and other places where mutton is mentioned. And this might require a closer look at a lot of meat imagery in the books - why does GRRM mention the rotten meat thrown at Cersei on her walk of shame? Iirc, in other cases where small folk throw food at high born people, the emphasis is on fruit. Proper analysis of mutton will probably also require a return to examination of "butcher kings," an archetype GRRM made obvious with King Cleon. The butcher imagery is also clearly part of the Ramsay Snow symbolism (I think Roose says he wields a sword as if it is a cleaver) and Sandor Clegane's m. o. (If The Hound was truly the killer of Mycah, the butcher's boy, he also cut him into pieces so his father, the butcher, thought he was being given the body of a butchered pig before realizing it was his son.) The pairing I see between peaches and sheep starts with GRRM's wordplay games: peach is (almost) sheep spelled backwards. (Like "southron" and "north" and some other wordplay pairs he has used.) The pairing would have been lost on me except I have been trying to analyze The Sworn Sword, a Dunk & Egg novella, for years. I believe I have put together some of the pieces of the underlying, literary meaning in the story. A few spoilers here, but not the entire story: In a nutshell, Ser Eustace Osgrey is trying to grow crops and Lady Rohanne Webber is trying to raise sheep. At one time, the two houses had a good relationship and Lady Rohanne's first love was the son of Ser Eustace, who was a squire at her father's seat. The good relationship ended when Ser Eustace was a supporter of Daemon Blackfyre while Lady Rohanne's family sided with the Targaryens during the Blackfyre Rebellion. Now the neighbors are estranged. A servant in the employ of Ser Eustace trespassed on Lady Rohanne's land to steal sheep. She caught him and sewed him up in a sack that she threw into her moat, drowning him. After that incident, Ser Eustace hired the sellsword Ser Bennis and refused to go on Lady Rohanne's land. There is a water shortage that has reached a crisis point. So the sheep stealer was the servant of House Osgrey. We don't see House Webber trying to steal peaches, but she does take the water that is necessary to grow the crops that are dying in the fields on Osgrey land. The peach symbolism is indirect: Ser Eustace tells a story of House Lannister trying to take a bite out of the Reach. The land grab is stopped by an Osgrey ancestor. We know from Robert singing the praises of peaches to Ned, and Renly trying to get Stannis to accept a peach, that this fruit is closely associated with the Reach. We have been told that Lady Rohanne will eventually marry a Lannister and will be the matriarch of the line that figures so prominently in the ASOIAF generation of Lannisters. So I finally connected the peach/sheep rivalry. (In my mind, anyway.) And you all are helping to pin down the reason that one faction would want to steal sheep while the other faction would want to bite a peach. The resolution of The Sworn Sword comes when abundant rain falls and when Ser Eustace and Lady Rohanne realize that they can solve a number of problems by uniting in marriage to each other. (Because our POV is unconscious when these events occur, some of the cause-and-effect relationship of the rain and the marriage are unclear.) There is wordplay on cask and sack (Ser Eustace seeks casks of wine; Lady Rohanne threatens to sew people into sacks) that almost certainly goes to the sacrifice motif you are exposing for sheep: Ser Eustace pours wine on the graves of his sons as a way of toasting "the king," while Lady Rohanne sacrifices Lem/Dake (he is given two names in the story) to her moat. There is also wordplay on berry / bury, as the sons of Ser Eustace are buried in a berry patch. Poaching / peaches becomes a cheeky (!!) play on rhyming words as poached peaches are prepared with wine while poached eggs (the only protein easily available to House Osgrey) are prepared with water. Lem/Dake was actually poaching when he stole sheep, although Ser Eustace describes him as foraging. (Which may be wordplay on forge, linking Lem/Dake to smith symbolism.) The whole set of symbols adds up to a fertility story - crops need water; livestock need water. The marriage of Rohanne and Eustace represents the restoration of the balance of nature, allowing crops and herds to thrive again. I suspect this story will be a huge clue for us about getting the seasons back into balance in Westeros. Off the top of my head, the clues that still require attention are: - Do sheep, mutton and wool have different roles in the symbolism? What about shepherds? Why is Littlefinger more worried about sheep than shepherds? His servants tend a flock of 23 sheep for him at The Fingers. - What is the relationship of butcher kings to sheep and mutton? - What are the differences among mutton, pork, beef, venison, crab and other meats? The wolf-head king that looks at Dany with mute appeal is holding a mutton-bone scepter, as I recall. - What ingredients are combined with mutton or lamb when served at feasts? - What are the differences among oxen, horses, pigs and sheep as livestock? The Dothraki and the Lamb Men are traditional enemies. Why does Lord Manderly give palfreys to the Frey messengers before they disappear (and are baked into pies)? - Why does Craster have a bear skull and a ram skull on either side of the gate to his compound? I assumed these foreshadowed the deaths of Jeor Mormont and Craster. If correct, why does a ram skull represent Craster? Does the combination of the two skulls underscore that the Night's Watch is allowing Craster to sacrifice his sons to the Others? What does it mean that the Night's Watch eats so much mutton that they remark about being tired of mutton-based meals? - If Mooton is wordplay on mutton, are there other sound-alike clues we should be examining? I'm thinking of Falyse Stokeworth as a possible "fleece" allusion. But her name could go any number of ways. Certainly Ramsay as a ram symbol could be a key to sorting out some of the sheep motif. Can a character be both a butcher king and a sacrificial lamb? Mycah, the butcher's boy, might be an important clue to that line of thinking. Thanks for all of the good insights in this thread!
  4. My reference was more to Ser Dontos as a possible proxy for Sansa as a warrior. Brienne and Maege do their own fighting; Ser Dontos is the Florian to Sansa's Jonquil but he may also act as Sansa's "good right hand" in wielding weapons that are part of completing her symbolic journey. When Ser Dontos hits Sansa with the melon morning star, this is one of a number of times when Sansa is clobbered (cobblered?) with fruit: Arya hits her with the blood orange; then the melon morning star; then Petyr offers her a pomegranate telling her about the difficulty of keeping juice off of her hands (but Sansa chooses a pear instead, and gets juice on her chin). I know she is not the only fruit-targeted character (a lot of fruit is thrown at Prince Doran when he travels from the water garden to his castle) but I think the fruit surrounding Sansa is connected to this line from Theon: In this case, Sansa is seen as a piece of ripe fruit. I suppose this could support your point that Sansa is the morning star (through the ripe melon morning star connection) but I am still hoping that the theory is true that Theon symbolizes the sword Ice. The blood orange that falls in Sansa's lap can be compared to Ned's head after he is beheaded by the sword Ice. If Theon personifies Ice, his desire to take Sansa's maidenhead may signal that the sword is still hungry for Stark blood and beheadings. Maybe the bloodlust explains why there is a "Theon Stark, the Hungry Wolf" mentioned several times in visits to the Winterfell crypt. The wording of that line is so specific and hints not just at the fact that Dawn will be stolen but also that it will somehow make its way to Sansa's sphere. There is also a lot of sexual innuendo in the phrase but that's a different topic. I agree that the wording is very specific and deliberate. I think GRRM is alluding to a famous poem called The Poison Tree, by William Blake. The poem describes a poison apple that represents anger, wrath and enmity. The speaker's enemy eats the apple and dies. The poem features these lines when the foe approaches the apple: We can check off a lot of boxes here: the tree that is central to the Old Gods religion, fruit, a veil (Vale, where Sansa is at the time of the garden scene), night and morning. The language of the thief stealing into the garden has to be more than a coincidence. In the space of a few lines, we see Dawn bringing light and color to the sky and Lysa, who represents the moon, disappearing from her balcony. I know a lot of people hate the idea that there are layers of symbolism in these books, but this snow castle scene with Sansa may be foreshadowing later "morning vanquishes night" events in the books. I think Sandor Clegane represents night - his refusal to become a knight is intended to be ironic. As I mentioned above, I think Brienne represents morning. We see Sansa accept a cloak from The Hound but Brienne is search for her. When "morning" finds her, night will recede. Sandor's role as the night is given additional purpose when viewed in context with the three strangers in Sansa's arc: Renly, Ser Barristan and Ser Ilyn. We see some important symbolism linking Sansa to Brienne when we examine these three characters: Payne rhymes with Dayne. Is Ser Ilyn the "anti-Dayne"? Ser Arthur knighted Jaime; Ser Ilyn is training Jaime to use his left hand for sword fighting. Ser Ilyn was loyal to Tywin Lannister; Podrick Payne is loyal to Tyrion (but traveling with Brienne and acting as her squire). Brienne finally confronts Pod in the ruins of the ancestral castle of Ser Dontos. Brienne loves Renly and is loyal to him. Their first encounter is when Renly was kind to Brienne and danced with her when her suitors were cruel. The Tyrells seem to take over for Renly in Sansa's arc: Garlan wears Renly's armor into battle and he dances with her at her wedding feast. Ser Loras gave Sansa a rose (Brienne hates roses, after a cruel Ronnet Connington dismisses a betrothal with the gift of a rose) but Ser Loras then forgets that he ever gave Sansa a rose. Sansa imagines marrying Willas Tyrell after Olenna lures her into the notion of going to Highgarden to escape King's Landing. (In light of the ripening poison apple symbolism in the Poison Tree poem, it is interesting to note that Ser Garlan's wife is a Fossoway, the sigil for which is an apple, and she is heavily pregnant with a growing belly.) There are shared parallels connecting Brienne and Ser Barristan, even though they haven't had much (any?) direct contact. Both are members of the King's Guard (Rainbow Guard for Brienne). Renly had intended to save his blue rainbow cloak for Ser Barristan before he finally awards it to Brienne. When Sansa goes to the court to appeal for mercy for Ned, she kneels on Ser Barristan's discarded cloak. Soon, Sandor Clegane will discard a King's Guard cloak that Sansa will keep hidden among her personal items. Of course, there are other links. With her auburn hair, Sansa is a strong candidate for the "heir" to Catelyn Stark. Brienne is the sworn sword for Catelyn. The symbolism around Ser Hugh of the Vale, Mandon Moore and Lysa may all be linked - it recently occurred to me that there might be "moon door" wordplay in Ser Mandon's name. He is killed by Podrick Payne who is defending Tyrion during the Battle of the Blackwater. Ser Hugh wears blue and has a crescent moon sigil. He is killed by Ser Gregor, brother of the Hound. Lysa will fall through the Moon Door at the Vale after trying to push Sansa through the same door but failing after the intervention of Littlefinger. TL;DR - Sandor Clegane symbolizes the night. Brienne of Tarth symbolizes the morning. In Sansa's arc, Brienne will somehow vanquish Sandor, bringing a new day. The characters of Renly, Ser Barristan and Ser Ilyn will be replaced with a Tyrell, Brienne and Podrick representing the "rebirth" of The Stranger.
  5. Both very interesting observations and I don't think either has been discussed. So thank you for adding these to the thread. Of course, "Merlin" also has the connection to King Arthur's sorcerer/wizard mentor. I see a number of sorcery or warlock possibilities in Littlefinger's actions. I have tentatively put Littlefinger into the "kingmaker" category (along with Ser Criston Cole and Quentyn Ball). This would also fit with Merlin's role in some versions of the King Arthur story. As for Oldstones / Lodestones, I have found so many "almost" anagrams (off by one letter) that I think GRRM does use them in a number of situations. He may even have rules in his head about swapping out one letter, although I haven't entirely discerned what those rules might be - I suspect that identical letters can be repeated, so a word with one letter E can have two letters E if needed to make an anagram. A magnetic stone seems like a natural choice to add to the types of "magic" we see in ASOIAF - poisons, fires, a far eye, the metal in swords, rubies, obsidian, a bag of finger bones. It does seem like the kind of thing GRRM would subtly mention to explain the surprise "attraction" between two characters who become an unexpected couple.
  6. What is GRRM doing with the bucket and pale references here? Note that sharpened sticks or logs around a fort are called a palisade and a single sharpened stake for a fortification is called a pale. Pale can also mean fence. So we are getting a bucket and two pales in three consecutive sentences. When Jon Snow slips between the stakes to go outside of the fort, he is going "beyond the pale." In a previous Jon POV (AGoT, Jon VIII), Jon carried a bucket full of bloody meat. He used it to feed the ravens while Maester Aemon revealed that he (Aemon) is a Targaryen and said that he understood about Jon's conflicting loyalties to his family and to the Night's Watch. "Pale cold" seems to be a coded phrase the author uses as an alternative to "old place." Old places in ASOIAF seem to be special, magical locations. The Fist is one of the places identified as an "old place." But what does it mean that Jon Snow has no pail (bucket) or that he goes beyond the pale in this chapter? He is about to find the obsidian cache, and that may require going through a magical portal of some kind.
  7. The giant elk that carries Coldhands and Bran and their traveling companions is eventually killed and eaten by the riders. I wonder whether GRRM is comparing Bran and his fellow travelers to elk-eating shadows?
  8. Very nice catch. And that ranger is later glamored by Melisandre, who does a lot with using fire to cast shadows. Her so-called shadow babies are unstoppable weapons. Is Mance yet another shadow baby while he is under Melisandre's control?
  9. We know that GRRM likes to use three repetitions when something is important or magic. Tormund has three rings: one on each arm and one on his member. He gives the two arm rings to Jon Snow, who immediately realizes they are special artifacts that will be destroyed - melted for their gold - if they are sent to Essos to help pay for food. Which takes me off on what seems like a tangent but may be relevant: Where else have we seen melted gold in Essos? In the "crown" that Khal Drogo gives to Dany's brother, Viserys. It was made from a gold medallion belt - not too far removed from the gold arm bands. The crown kills Viserys. In general, people who wear crowns in this generation of ASOIAF tend to die soon after being crowned - Viserys, Renly, Robb, Joffrey, Balon (switching from Lord to King). The jury is still out on Jeyne Westerling, who receives a crown from Robb Stark. The king-crowning curse may be like the not-really-a-knight situations we see frequently: Brienne, Sandor, Ser Dontos and Dunk function as knights but they are not really knights. I would argue that the "kings" who survive are the ones who do not wear a crown. Torrhen Stark gives his crown to Aegon the Conqueror. Dany and Viserys survive on the streets by selling their mother's crown. Maybe the High Sparrow selling his crystal crown is also related. And that brings us back to the gold band on Tormund's giant member: "But I'll keep the ring I wear about me member. Much bigger than those little things. On you it'd be a torque." A torque is a neck ring made of twisted metals. Among the ancient Celts, it would have signified high status, perhaps even a designating a king. Instead of a crown, this third ring would signify royal status for Jon by becoming a torque. The non-crown is also significant in that it is worn around a person's throat or neck. The choking of Joffrey and other throat-related deaths (probably including the throat-involved death by beheading) tells us that the throat is a very vulnerable spot for kings and others. Keep in mind, this is all literary analysis and doesn't have to foreshadow the unfolding plot. There will not be a scene where Tormund solemnly removes his dick ring and puts it around Jon Snow's neck. I don't think there will even be a scene where he uses it to repair the horn from the obsidian cache. Tormund saying that the ring is a sign of Jon Snow's royal destiny is enough to make the connection. Readers connecting the two sets of bands with runes is enough to imply that Tormund embodies the missing horn. As others have noted in this good discussion, it does seem as if Jon Snow is collecting the Last Hero and/or Azor Ahai and/or Night's Watch oath pieces; assembling the necessary elements to become the person needed to save the world. It would be a weaker story if his quest were obvious and literal and straightforward. Instead, Robb helps find the direwolf pups and Jon Snow finds a sixth pup on his own. We get Mormont putting Jon Snow in a location where he can find the obsidian cache at just the right time. Ygritte gives him the "kissed by fire" mojo that he requires. Qhorin puts him on a path to see the Milkwater and then leads him through the mountain to Rattleshirt. Maester Aemon gives him advice. Sam Tarly (or is it Mormont's raven?) helps him become Lord Commander. He arranges a marriage between Alys Karstark and the Magnar of Thenn. He reopens the Shield Hall. He sends key Night's Watch brothers to reopen defense positions that had been abandoned. He reenacts his own birth situation by telling Gilly he can't help her protect her baby from Craster and later disguising that baby to protect Mance's son. The smith Donal Noye (who made King Robert's war hammer that killed Rhaegar) tells him to help his Night's Watch brothers become better swordsmen. Noye also gives him the Wall and provides a sleeping chamber after the fire in the Lord Commander's tower. I know there has to be something important about the niello broach that Noye leaves behind, but I haven't pinned it down yet. I bet we could match up a lot of those key moments to elements of the legendary hero's quest. (But elements of Sam Tarly's story will also match up to Azor Ahai and the other hero legends.) There are probably other necessary elements that are even more subtle. Until this thread, I hadn't thought about Melisandre's burning of the giant horn as a necessary part of "activating" or "rebirthing" the magic horn that is needed to fulfill the legend. It may or may not be one of the elements necessary to making Jon Snow a king or hero. The burning of weirwood branches to destroy the horn and kill Rattleshirt does seem consistent with Jon finding the "grave" of the obsidian cache behind a fallen tree. Before leaving the palisade around the fort, Jon Snow also interacts with Grenn who is chopping firewood. There is something about dead trees that is necessary for Jon to advance toward his destiny. (See also Wat's Wood catching fire in The Sworn Sword.) I know, right? I was having palpitations just writing these thoughts. It's GRRM, though, not me. I suspect that Tormund having consensual sex with the maiden Brienne may be the key to waking the sleepers. But here's some wordplay that might be relevant: Brienne's hair is always described as being like straw. The German word for "straw" is "stroh." So a person who is a straw-king might also be called a "stroh-king". Or maybe I've wandered way too far down that rabbit hole as I've sought out "king" symbolism. I had thought that these "-king" verbs were applied only to male characters: Gendry is the thin-king, Jon Snow the wal-king, Joffrey cho-king, etc. But I recently noticed that someone says to Sansa, "You're shaking." That made so much sense with Shae as Sansa's handmaid that I realized I better start looking at female characters as potential kings. (I've also been wondering about connections between and among the sound-alike names of Shae, Asha, Osha and Tysha. A "shaking" motif might be the key.)
  10. I don't think Longclaw or Mormont's Torch are the same thing as Lightbringer. I think the obsidian dagger, for which Jon later creates an "ugly" hilt out of wood, is Lightbringer. Or, at least, "A" Lightbringer. Although ... now that you mention it, Jon is carrying the torch as he follows Ghost through the pitch black darkness. Returning to the notion of people as personification of weapons or other important objects, this might mean that Jon Snow personifies Lightbringer. Here is the role of the torch in Jon Snow's hand: There are numerous references to the comet as Mormont's Torch in the pages leading up to the obsidian cache. Here it is finally like a comet falling to earth and embedded in the soil. The greatsword Dawn was constructed from the heart of a fallen star (a magical stone). At the spot where the (Mormont's) torch is embedded in the earth, Jon Snow finds a magical stone (the maesters call it obsidian) and constructs a dagger. The dragonglass blade is lightbringer but the torch provides the fire that lights it. There is a lot of gravedigger symbolism in this passage, too. Although many (most) of us suspect that Sandor Clegane is the gravedigger on the Quiet Isle, we don't know if he is digging graves to bury people or digging graves to exume bodies. Also significant in the excerpt is the reference to thornbushes. There is wordplay on throne / thorn and Ser Alliser Thorne. When Ser Alliser travels to King's Landing to request support for the Night's Watch, Tyrion (who is sitting on the thornbush-like Iron Throne) says the court should provide money for spades so the Night's Watch can bury the dead. (He is joking because Ser Aliser has only a no-longer-alive severed hand that was supposed to be evidence of the Others.) "If you bury your dead, they won't come walking," Tyrion told him, and the court laughed openly. "Spades will end your troubles, with some strong backs to wield them." The fact that Jon Snow has to step carefully near the thornbush is probably an allusion to the Iron Throne, around which he has to navigate. Back to the gravedigger imagery. When he digs up the "grave" at the Fist, Jon Snow may or may not be the strong back who is ending the Night's Watch's troubles with the walking dead. We know that the Others will subsequently attack at the Fist. And yet Jon Snow has located the weapons that allow Sam Tarly to defeat a wight and discover the usefulness of dragonglass in fighting the White Walkers. Maybe it's one of those "double edged sword" situations where there are both advantages and disadvantages to digging. You know, while I'm frolicking merrily through the symbolism here, I have always wondered about the connection between the "ugly" homemade hilt on Jon's obsidian dagger and the "ugly" weapon carried by Gared in the AGoT prologue. The wordplay on Gared and dagger seemed obvious a long time ago, but now I'm putting it together with Gared suggesting that the rangers light a fire. Ser Waymar forbids him from lighting a fire. Seeing that the fire and obsidian dagger blade come together to create the Other-killing Lightbringer weapon, I wonder whether Gared was trying to create a "Flame on!" moment for himself, allowing him to effectively become Lightbringer and fight the White Walkers? Furthermore, Ned has to go and ruin Lightbringer/Gared by chopping his head off. Mormont later says he wishes Ned hadn't done this. Even Craster remembers Gared fondly. So when Jon Snow makes a wooden hilt for his obsidian dagger, is he symbolically putting Gared's head back on? (We see a similar act of sorcery performed by Qyburn when he turns headless Gregor Clegane into Ser Robert Strong.) Also, sorcery is a sword without a hilt, Dalla tells Jon Snow. By putting a hilt on the blade, Jon Snow may be turning himself into a sorcerer, making it easier to grasp his blade. Jon Snow doesn't need a grumkin to magic up his blade; he can do it himself. I've seen the theory that Tormund is the horn or that his armbands are missing pieces to activate the horn. Reading the excerpts you so kindly provided, I am struck by a new thought: what if Tormund's member is the Horn of Joramun? He talks about it a lot and tells stories about sex with a giantess and/or a bear. (Perhaps showing that he is a horny guy?) When Jon Snow was initially brought to Mance's tent, his first impression was that Tormund must be the King Beyond the Wall. He is soon directed to focus on Mance, but readers should never discount a character's first impressions, even if they are incorrect in the literal sense. This could be phallic imagery, highlighting Dalla's pregnancy (proof of Mance's potency as a father) and Mance then stroking his giant member, err, the great horn. Mance refers to needing more than one arrow and Jon Snow refers to arrowheads falling out of the horn he finds in the cache. Could the arrowheads represent sperm? They swim toward their target (an egg) like tiny guided missiles or arrows. It's interesting to note that Sam Tarly grows a fat pink mast and has sex with Gilly after Jon Snow gives him the horny horn. (Complicated aside: If Mance is a symbolic Rhaegar, as many people have noted in the parallels between the characters, his need for more than one arrow could be like Rhaegar's determination to have more than two children or more than one lover. You need a back-up plan in case one or more heirs dies or is killed.) I have also seen an analysis of Ned's scene with Catelyn in the god's wood, wiping the blood from his great sword, as phallic symbolism. But the great horn Mance is fondling here will eventually be burned by Melisandre, who forces the Free Folk to throw twigs of a weirwood onto the fire. This could bring us back to the torch that "ignites" Jon Snow's obsidian blade: like the obsidian, perhaps the magic horn will revive only after it has had contact with fire - maybe even weirwood fire. To achieve this, GRRM has given us three horns: the "decoy" that Mance shows to Jon Snow and that is later burned; Tormund's giant member; and the broken horn filled with dragon glass arrowheads ( = dragon seed). And then Euron appears with the dragonbinder horn, so we are back up to three. In addition to the revivifying fire that may "wake" the horn, similar to the hatching of Dany's dragons in Drogo's pyre, there is also a human sacrifice to trigger the magical rebirth: Rattleshirt (a symbolic Ned Stark, imho) dies partly from fire but mostly from arrows unleashed at Jon Snow's command. Like the Stark lord of legend killing his father, Bael the Bard. It seems that Jon Snow takes Mance's advice and hunts with more than one arrow. Earlier in this thread, I mentioned Maege Mormont and Brienne as the women warriors who wield morning star weapons. I have seen speculation that Tormund is the father of Maege's daughters, explaining his story about having sex with a bear. He also sleeps inside of a giantess who mistakes him for her baby and breast feeds him. Perhaps it is significant that we are constantly reminded of Brienne's great height. If Tormund sleeps with Brienne, this may be the unification of magic horn and giant that is necessary to bring down The Wall or end the Long Night or resolve some other conflict. Perhaps also relevant: The burned horn came from a giant's grave. The Wall was built by giants. The horn of Winter, properly blown, is supposed to take down the Wall. Tormund's penis is referred to as his giant member. You're right - I love this a lot. I see Stannis as a mentor for Jon Snow - yet another father figure - so I'm not sure about a falling out. The bright blade at the Wall might be a way of showing Jon Snow the true identity of The Wall as Lightbringer. (Or "A" Lightbringer.) I've been thinking that the Hightower in Old Town has to be a giant glass candle. This image of the Stannis's map with candles at each corner implies that here should be three more. Queen's Crown? The Shadow Tower? The Tower of the Hand? If they are supposed to be candles, the Tower of the Hand would be a good candidate since Cersei set it on fire. Maybe the Winterfell library is one of the candles. With wax puddling at the Bay of Seals, maybe the fourth candle will be Eastwatch-by-the-sea? Or maybe the invasive "finger" of wax alludes to Littlefinger and his subtle moves to manipulate Westeros.
  11. ASoS, Jon IV: He had once heard his uncle Benjen say that the Wall was a sword east of Castle Black, but a snake to the west. It was true. Sweeping in over one huge humped hill, the ice dipped down into a valley, climbed the knife edge of a long granite ridgeline for a league or more, ran along a jagged crest, dipped again into a valley deeper still, and then rose higher and higher, leaping from hill to hill as far as the eye could see, into the mountainous west. I think we will see more than one Dawn and / or Lightbringer as the story lines reach their resolutions, but this is one of them: ACoK, Jon IV: A length of frayed rope bound the bundle together. Jon unsheathed his dagger and cut it, groped for the edges of the cloth, and pulled. The bundle turned, and its contents spilled out onto the ground, glittering dark and bright. He saw a dozen knives, leaf-shaped spearheads, numerous arrowheads. Jon picked up a dagger blade, featherlight and shiny black, hiltless. Torchlight ran along its edge, a thin orange line that spoke of razor sharpness. Dragonglass. What the maesters call obsidian. Had Ghost uncovered some ancient cache of the children of the forest, buried here for thousands of years? The Fist of the First Men was an old place, only . . . The "razor" reference is probably a coded allusion to Azor Ahai.
  12. Thanks for this. This is a good reminder that I need to look at other sheep-related sigils, such as House Stokeworth's lamb. The wiki reminds me that House Rambton tries to defend Dragonstone when Selyse's Queen's Men are trying to burn the historic Targaryen sept and its contents. Ser Hubard Rambton and his three sons manage to kill four of the Queen's men but Hubard and one son are killed and the other two sons are sacrificed to R'hllor, along with Lord Guncer Sunglass. Hubard is described as pious and I have theorized that Sunglass (as a symbolic prism or crystal) is connected to the rainbow symbolism associated with the new gods (and with Renly). Is the ram of House Rambton also linked to the new gods and/or Renly? The deaths of the Rambtons certainly fit with the sacrifice pattern we see with some other sheep and sheep-related humans. Instead of being eaten by dragons or direwolves (or left out for the Others?) these rams are sacrificed to R'hllor. On the other hand, there is imagery that connects Stannis to the Night's King and Selyse to the Night's King's Corpse Queen. Were the men of House Rambton sacrificed to those monsters of legend, when they died fighting the Queen's men? (Skip this next bit if you're not interested in literary analysis.) Why would rams step forward to defend the Targaryen sept? I suspect the literary answer connects with the mast symbolism, although there are several steps needed to make the connection. In this sept, the icons of the gods of the seven were carved from the masts of ships the Targaryens sailed in when they escaped Valyria. I suspect that masts are a way that the author connects trees (central to the old gods) to ships (symbolic eggs). Through wordplay, masts and the dogs known as mastiffs are related. The famous line about Sam Tarly's "fat, pink mast" (erection) might also refer to his stiff mast. When Sam arrives at Oldtown, he tells his story to Marwyn, who is nicknamed The Mastiff. (Pate reflects that Marwyn does look like a mastiff, "as if he wants to bite you.") Marwyn departs Oldtown on the same ship that carried Sam to Oldtown. These are the most tenuous parts of the motif (if accurate) and probably need more corroboration: Mastiffs are not usually used as sheep dogs. Through the Qyburn symbolism, we have a line contrasting sheep and mastiffs: We also have a line comparing the skulls of the last dragons to mastiff skulls: Tyrion uses a torch to illuminate the display of dragon skulls and he senses that the skulls like the fire. (Oddly, Sandor Clegane wears a hound helmet, which could be compared to a mastiff skull - Rattleshirt uses a giant's skull for a helmet so there is an armor/bones connection. But Sandor hates fire. Maybe the point is that he needs his hound helmet to feel protected from fire? What does it mean that direwolf Rickard Stark was baked over a fire inside of his armor?) Maybe the Rambton men weren't defending the sept so much as trying to keep fire away from the masts/effigies of the gods. If these are uniquely Targaryen gods and they have an affinity for fire (like the dragon/mastif skulls), the goal may have been to prevent them from uniting with the fire that they crave; to prevent them from somehow being ignited back to life. In spite of their efforts, they fall to the Queen's Men (possibly symbolizing The Others, if Selyse is a symbolic Night's King's Corpse Queen) and to R'hllor, a fire god. More skulls. The mouth eating sheep (or sheep-like humans) is important for both the sheep and peach analysis, I suspect. The lines in The Sworn Sword that helped me to recognize the importance of the linked sheep and peach motif include Eustace Osgrey saying that the Lannisters wanted to take a "bite out of the Reach" ( = peach) and the conflict that arose from Rohanne Webber kidnapping and drowning the sheep-stealer, Dake (Lem), in her moat. There seems to be a cyclical pattern of trying to take wealth from a neighbor in the form of peaches and sheep. Since dragons and wolves and humans eat sheep, the biting motif seems to be the uniting factor. I bet the Knight of Skulls and Kisses is going to connect to this, too. One symbol always leads to another ...
  13. Thanks for putting me in the loop here. I skimmed the first page and read the last page but haven't looked at the other four pages of comments in this thread, so I apologize if I'm repeating things that have already been said. I suspect this is an entirely different tangent, however. I'll toss it into the mix, for what it's worth. What if, in this generation, the swords are not swords per se. For instance, as earlier comments have pointed out, The Wall could represent the sword Ice. I really like that the smith Donal Noye "gives" The Wall to Jon Snow before he dies within The Wall. (Is this like Ned being executed by the blade of his own sword?) With regard to Dawn, the morning star weapons leap out as replacements for the legendary sword or, at least, echoes of that sword. Three characters who use morning stars are Brienne (defeating Ser Loras in the melee at Bitterbridge), Ser Dontos Hollard (comically using a melon morning star to hit Sansa over the head in an attempt to distract Joffrey, who is intent on causing greater harm to Sansa) and - I did not fully absorb until your post caused me to look at old threads: Maege Mormont stood. "The King of Winter!" she declared, and laid her spiked mace beside the swords. And the river lords were rising too, Blackwood and Bracken and Mallister, houses who had never been ruled from Winterfell, yet Catelyn watched them rise and draw their blades, bending their knees and shouting the old words that had not been heard in the realm for more than three hundred years, since Aegon the Dragon had come to make the Seven Kingdoms one … yet now were heard again, ringing from the timbers of her father's hall: "The King in the North!" "The King in the North!" "THE KING IN THE NORTH!" (AGoT, Catelyn XI) Another name for a spiked mace is a morning star. That means that these two female warriors, Maege and Brienne, both use morning stars. And Ser Dontos is closely linked to Sansa so maybe there is subtle language or symbolism that will tell us that Sansa makes a third female warrior with a morning star. Hmm. Now I'm wondering whether Olenna naming her son Mace might also be part of the morning star symbolism? The melon morning star is likely also linked to Aerys ordering fruit-shaped containers to be used as wildfire grenades, Arya throwing the blood orange at Sansa and other linked fruit and weapon symbolism. In keeping with the OP, and the goal of connecting Dawn to House Stark, it's probably relevant that Ser Jorah Mormont gives a sweet little peach to Dany, Lord Commander Mormont gives a sword to Jon Snow, and Maege Mormont gives (pledges) her morning star to Robb Stark. I suspect the parallels between these two women warrior characters (Maege and Brienne) also extends to their island homes - one in the east and one in the west. If we're looking for connections, a "morning star" that comes from Bear Island could also fulfill that "sun rises in the west" condition that Mirri Maz Duur laid out in Dany's arc. (Like a lot of prophecies and cryptic stories, I suspect many major characters must follow the steps prescribed by visionaries such as Quaithe, Mirri Maz Duur, Old Nan, Maggie the Frog, etc.) Another clue about Dawn is hiding in plain sight: the person who possesses and wields the sword is known as The Sword of the Morning. Similarly, the Lords of Tarth are known as the Evenstar. It might be that GRRM will substitute a person for a sword we are seeking, not just The Wall or a mace. If we should look for Dawn personified, and we are seeking a connection to House Stark, I would put my money on Brienne. She started out with a morning star at Bitterbrige, she joins (peach-eater) Renly's Rainbow Guard, she takes Renly's sword when he dies, then she pledges her loyalty and service to Lady Stark. Brienne loses Renly's sword (she is surprisingly vague about how that sword is lost, given her adoration of Renly) and takes another sword which she puts into storage after receiving a third sword, Oathkeeper, from Jaime Lannister. She gives the second sword to Dick Crabb who loses it in the weeds when his knee is shattered by a morningstar swung by the fool, Shagwell. (Ser Dontos and Shagwell are parallels, though, because Brienne believes she is on the trail of Ser Dontos and Sansa during her quest to Crackclaw Point. So I don't know whether this counts as a fourth person using a morningstar, or whether Shagwell is just a variation on a theme.) So Brienne has the requisite three swords that put her in the Azor Ahai club. She is in service to a Stark (albeit Lady Stark). And it appears that she may be the force that will create a symbolic Trident River: Brienne probably represents the blue fork of the Trident as she is always linked to the color blue (sapphires, beautiful blue eyes, blue bardings on her horse at Bitterbridge, the blue cloak for Renly's rainbow guard). Jaime probably represents the Red Fork because of Lannister crimson. (I'm not 100% comfortable with Jaime as red because GRRM is consistent in differentiating between Lannister crimson and other shades he calls red. But Oathkeeper has ripples of red and the shared Stark-Jaime-Brienne provenance of that sword might be enough to satisfy the symbolic Red Fork requirement.) The Green Fork could be either/both Renly, who wears green armor and has a bunch of other green symbolism, or Catelyn who is thrown in the Green Fork before being revived on the riverbank (by a man betrothed to a Dayne) as Lady Stoneheart. These three characters are bonded by a shared quest in the dungeon at Riverrun. Before Brienne came into her life, Catelyn had her "sword without a hilt" problem when she grabbed the sharp blade of the catspaw's dagger. If Brienne can bring together the three forks of the symbolic Trident so that they flow together like the literal river that runs through the Riverlands, this could be the equivalent of creating a hilt for the weapon. Another potentially relevant person who may personify Dawn: I am a big believer that Septa Mordane is a very important character. I don't know whether her importance is symbolic or whether she is a major character in disguise. One reason I suspect she is important is that her head is mounted next to Ned's on the wall at the Red Keep. I don't think GRRM would throw in this detail for no reason. Is "Mordane" an allusion to "Dayne"? A big part of her job is teaching needlework to Sansa, Arya and (I believe) Jeyne Poole. Arya will receive a sword called Needle. Is GRRM setting up an ironic "sword of the morning" situation where one or more of the Stark girls is anointed as the Sword of the Morning? But I realize this is not a sword-specific solution to linking Dawn to House Stark. Just my usual trip down the literary analysis rabbit hole.
  14. I love this. I want a t-shirt. Alternatives: Seven Kingdunces. Pesterosi. Weirdwoods. Nerdwoods? Bands of the King. Walleyes. Martinets.
  15. I agree with these. This thread is just mean-spirited. Trying to single out someone (or several users) for public disapproval is not consistent with the purpose of a forum created to discuss books, in my opinion. I skip almost all of the "What if ... ?" threads because I am not interested in rearranging a plot that has been carefully constructed by the author. I realize that is fun for some people so I don't make a point of going into those threads and telling the OP or other participants that they are crackpots and must stop their speculation. If someone misrepresents the content of the books, ask them to cite their evidence. Or use the "search of ice and fire" website to find the evidence that contradicts them. If their post or comment is a theory but extrapolates from the known content of the books, you can politely make a comment along the lines of "I don't see evidence to support that" or use some other phrase to express that you don't follow their logic. Once you have expressed that, there is no need to belabor your point. If they persist in their theories, stay away from their comments and turn your attention to content or users that engage you in a positive way. Many superficial readers of the books make snarky comments on my posts that they believe to be clever, trying to shame me for engaging in literary analysis. I suspect they truly believe that I am a crackpot and their straight-and-narrow reading of the plot is all that is needed to understand the books. I usually just feel sorry for them and I do wonder why they bother to comment on my threads, which always involve symbolism and literary analysis. If they have made a personal attack on me or my ideas, I will sometimes take the time to eviscerate them as best I can, secure in the knowledge that the author wants words/sword to be used in parallel ways. I am confident in my approach to analyzing the books and I will turn on someone only if they have been rude to me or to another user who has posted something in good faith. (I am also intolerant of people who patronize or criticize GRRM. George R. R. Martin is not your b*tch, people.) Early on, I discovered the option to "ignore" certain people in the forum. To access this feature, click on your username. In the drop-down menu, under settings, click on "ignored users." Type in the name of the user you want to ignore to add them to your list. If comments or posts by that user cross your path at a later time, you will have the option to click on the item to see it if you choose to do so. I find the "ignore" option helps me to take someone's comments with a grain of salt or to remember who has proven to be (imho) an a**hole in previous threads. It also helps me to save time by skipping some comments if I am working my way through a long thread. I am also mindful that people can evolve as they engage with this forum and with the content of the novels. I would not strongly defend some of the ideas in my early topics or comments. In other cases, I can't even remember writing some comments that I stumble across in an old thread. I know that a couple of my early comments were incoherent when I went back to them later: I was so excited by some idea that my typing couldn't keep up with my racing thoughts. So I know that some people probably judged me as a crackpot for those posts. I hope that some of my later ideas earned back some respect and a chance to engage in dialogue. I guessed that this was the target of your thread. The solution is for you to avoid reading her posts and comments, if they bother you so much, not to call on others in the forum to gang up on her or on others you have personally identified as "crackpots." Some of her ideas strike me as insightful and constructive; others don't ring true to me. (And I have politely posted comments refuting some of her assertions, but I don't feel the need to somehow "prove" that she is wrong.) Feel free to post your opposing evidence or theories, but don't use this forum to organize bullies.
  16. Good point. Archmaesters are not like the small folk. So the sheep metaphor probably isn't referring to small folk.
  17. Looking for any insights this forum can provide on the taking of sheep. I suppose this includes the eating of lamb, sheep and mutton. Maybe also the wearing of wool and sheepskin clothing? (I know Jon Snow is dressed in sheep skin, becoming a wolf in sheep's clothing, when he is spying among the freefolk.) I want to make a thorough exploration of sheep before trying to write down my thoughts on "sheep / peach" wordplay. Already on my radar: The attack by the Dothraki on the Lamb Men. There are remarks about horses not lying with sheep (but dragons eat both horses and sheep), yet the Dothraki warriors gang rape the women of the Lamb Men. Mirri Maz Duur may have the last word, though, inflicting her revenge on Khal Drogo. On the other hand, she is sacrificed in Drogo's pyre . . . Drogon eating a sheep a day in the lands surrounding Mereen but then taking the next step and eating a shepherd's daughter, the child named Hazzea. After this horror, Dany orders that her dragons be captured and chained. Drogon escapes to the Dothraki Sea. Quentyn Martell brings a cart with dead sheep to the chamber where the two dragons are confined. There are also references to wolves eating sheep or mutton. When Arya is blind, she seems to warg her direwolf, Nymeria, as she kills and eats a flock of sheep and lambs along with sheepdogs and shepherds. Craster apparently runs out of sheep to sacrifice to the Others. The Night's Watch men joke about mutton being the only or predominant meat in their diets. Littlefinger returning to The Fingers: Nettles tames the dragon named Sheepstealer by feeding it mutton day after day. She becomes a dragonseed dragon rider and the lover of Prince Daemon. I'll probably post the "sheep / peach" analysis in the A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms thread in the re-read section of the forum. Dake, who is sometimes called Lem, is a forager who worked for Eustace Osgrey. Any other important sheep, lamb or mutton mentions that I have missed? Any theories on what sheep might represent? I'm leaning toward sheep = small folk, but I'm not sure why GRRM would set up that equation.
  18. I took a swipe at explaining grumkins in 2016, but it's just a theory. No one came up with a solid explanation for snarks in the brief discussion that followed. On this second glance at grumkins, I am struck by the fact that grumkins can make things. This would put them in the category of smiths. Before he dies, Donal Noye "gives" Jon Snow the Wall: We might gain insights into Old Nan's sense of smell by examining characters such as Gared, whose ears were lost to frostbite (but were apparently surgically removed by Maester Aemon); Dywen, who can smell cold; Tyrion's nose being cut off by Ser Mandon Moore; Arya's interlude as Blind Beth; Chella of the Black Ears mountain clan and Timmet son of Timmet who puts out his own eye. The Hound has also lost an ear as part of the wounds from being burned by his brother. I'm particularly intrigued by the clues in Gared's story, though, as the frostbite injuries to his hand and foot are similar to the ways that Ramsay maimed Theon's hands. There is a memorable moment in Theon's recollections of life at Winterfell where he runs into Old Nan - from a literary analysis perspective, symbolically, Theon and Old Nan may be united as one entity during this collision. So I'm curious to ponder parallels in the heightened and sacrificed senses that might tell us how Gared, Theon and Old Nan perceive the world.
  19. I don't know that it is supposed to be a single person (i.e., Dany's stillborn baby). I think GRRM's point may be that characters are reborn in new bodies from the same family line - a Celtic idea about reincarnation (and similar to other world cultures, I'm sure). We know that Bittersteel escaped to exile in Essos - apparently his possession of a flying horse was effective. Jeor's question to Jon Snow is about a flying horse with raven's wings, however, which seems like a Bloodraven association: the opposite of a Bittersteel flying horse. Jon admits that he does not have a flying horse, however, so the question is apparently moot. Mormont also asks Jon Snow about a magic sword: We have learned from a Catelyn POV that Maester Luwin hides things in his pockets (reiterated in the Cressen prologue) and Melisandre thinks about the smoke effects she creates with powders hidden in pockets of her robe. Pockets are used to hide coins and keys and, in one memorable moment with Tormund Giantsbane, a roasted chicken. Grumkins are associated with swapping babies out of their cribs and substituting another baby in its place - something Jon Snow will do (in a different way) with Mance and Gilly's babies, but also something rumored about fAegon and the Pisswater Prince. But the magic sword reference could bring us back again to Bittersteel and Bloodraven, both of whom may have had possession of famous hereditary swords of the Targaryen royal family. In the case of the flying horse, Jon Snow denied that he had such an animal. In this case, Jon does not deny having a grumkin in this pocket. Perhaps he will have a magic sword at some point in the story ...
  20. Interesting to note that the five references to yellow cheese are all in the arcs of Arya, Brienne and Asha. The yellow cheeses are sometimes described as wheels. I wonder whether the travels, quests or odysseys associated with those three women tie back to the wheels? The yellow cheeses also seem to be associated with "simple fare," as opposed to the fancy, multi-course meals served to Tyrion, Olenna and their guests.
  21. One of the pairs of balancing forces in ASOIAF is shaggy and sharp: Bran observes that statues of past Stark lords and kings in the Winterfell crypt are either shaggy (bearded) or sharp and there are many other shaggy and sharp references once you start looking for them (including Shaggydog, the direwolf belonging to Rickon, and Qhorin Halfhand seeming to express relief when the "sharp" tip of Jon Snow's sword slices open his throat). I think the sharp cheese is part of this symbolism but, thankfully, there does not seem to be a shaggy cheese paired with the sharp cheese. Instead, there are some references to soft cheeses. I have compared GRRM's web of symbolism to chainmail, with one link connecting to others in several directions, not just a single straight line. I hope this might explain why cheese could link to the "sharp" symbolism that also refers to facial features and swords, but apparently not link to the shaggy symbolism. Certainly there is still work to do to articulate a key to all mythologies explaining ASOIAF dairy and other symbols. It could be that the sharp/shaggy, yin/yang duality is like the milk/blood duality, underscoring Jon Snow drinking the blood of a shaggy garron before he enters the camp at the Milkwater, as I mentioned earlier. Yet this is the detail of the cheese Tyrion serves to Janos Slynt: Is wine a symbolic form of blood? Are there any other places in the books where cheese and wine are united as one? As the wine god of ASOIAF, does Tyrion have a special ability to unite cheese and wine? As if to answer my questions (or to puzzle me further), the next two references to cheese in Tyrion POVs are these: Fwiw, I see no references to gold or golden cheese in the books. The cheese ordered by Olenna is not characterized in any way, except to indicate that it was brought out of order, according to Olenna's demand: Note: The fool called Butterbumps is very likely part of the dairy motif. "Butterbumps" may even be a veiled reference to mammary glands. He also hatches eggs as Sansa watches. Interestingly, he sings the Bear and Maiden Fair song to cover the treasonous conversation between Olenna and Sansa. The bear song may link to Tyrion and Slynt briefly discussing Jeor and Maege Mormont (the bear is their House sigil) during their shared meal with the wine-veined cheese. I am seeing a possible link between dairy foods and interrogation, but I'm not sure yet. More puzzlement.
  22. Based on the symbolism, I would bet money on Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. Ser Gregor is a green character. He can be defeated (temporarily, at least) by a brown or black character. Ser Bronn is both brown and black (or first one and then the other). Another possibility for the demise of Ser Gregor would be an angry, annihilistic mob: I believe that the stake death of this Green Grace (there is more than one Green Grace in the books) is a parallel to Ser Gregor.
  23. Sandor might not remember, but I bet GRRM knows what the toy was for Sandor. Based on details of his story and my guesswork at symbolism, I would guess that Sandor's toy might have been: 1) Some kind of globe or map of Westeros; 2) A moon that would crack open, allowing dragons to hatch; 3) A horse like his eventual mount named Stranger; 4) A tree or something strongly associated with wood, roots or leaves; 5) A spade (foreshadowing his probable gravedigger role); 6) A hound helmet; or 7) Something associated with a fool - a jester's scepter or hat, maybe. Fools and knights are opposites or balancing forces in ASOIAF. Other ideas? Or do you have a favorite from this list?
  24. I'm not even sure that the bond is about time and proximity for the bonded pair. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I think there is a dairy motif in the books that may include the "milk brother" notion as well as eggs (dragon, chicken, etc.) and perhaps even House Darry. I suspect that "milk of the poppy" might be wordplay on milk that comes from a male line instead of breast milk, which originates from a female. And then we have detailed or seemingly significant references to cheese - Olenna demanding cheese after her interrogation of Sansa and Tyrion serving cheese to Janos Slynt: What does cheese represent in this rare interaction between a major character and a character with a major symbolic role to play in the arc of a different major character? Why would Renly as King of Highgarden have a major influence on the cheese supply? Is it just that the Reach is a breadbasket for that area of Westeros, or is there more important symbolism in this dairy product? In analyzing the milk brother symbolism, we also have to examine the river known as the Milkwater. Mance and a gathering of Free Folk are camped at the source of the Milkwater, which is at the foot of a glacier. (Which probably means that milk and ice are linked.) Jon Snow is sent on a ranging to the Milkwater. As they leave the headwaters, he bonds with Qhorin and Stonesnake by sharing a meal that includes the blood of Stonesnake's horse (a shaggy garron) which had broken a leg and had to be killed. Another one of those shared "drinks" that could symbolize a convergence of powers or symbols, or a shared fate? I suspect that this blood is a balance for the milk (ice?) into which Jon is about to immerse himself as he joins the wildlings as a spy. Is Qhorin giving him some kind of inoculation? Or just making sure he has both blood and milk in his veins, as part of the "balance of forces" magic that Jon embodies so well with his mixed bloodlines?
  25. Great topic! Another interesting pair of "milk brothers" is Bloodraven and Bittersteel - turned into symbolic milk brothers because Aegon IV renames the Riverlands hills known as The Teats as, in turn, Barbra's Teats and Missy's Teats. Since Barbra is the mother of Aegor Rivers (Bittersteel) and Missy is the mother of Brynden Rivers (Bloodraven), the interchangeable breast names for the hills might represent their father turning the boys into milk brothers, even if they never shared a nurse maid. In Jaime's travels through the Riverlands, we learn that Pennytree - located in the middle of the teats - is a royal fief, so it is not part of the spoils of war to be apportioned to House Bracken or House Blackwood. We do see Jaime transfer ownership of Honeytree (but not Pennytree, Raventree or The Teats). When Dunk is inventing his name and back story, he almost claims to be from Pennytree but decides not to make that claim. I think the town is symbolic of royal bloodlines and/or legitimate claims to the throne. This would explain why the Blackwoods and Brackens both want to surround it. There are wordplay possibilities in Ser Arlan of Pennytree (as well as Illifer the Pennyless) that might tie the location to serpents, which is a traditional way to refer to dragons. Maybe the dragon presence at The Teats links to Dany as the Mother of Dragons. Excellent catch. Jon is picturing Robb drinking summerwine but, like Melisandre, his mental image might be just a little off: it is Bran's wolf that is named Summer. And what does Summer drink? All kinds of blood. And when Summer drinks blood, Bran drinks vicariously, as he is often warging Summer when the wolf makes a kill. I wonder whether we see a similar contrast at Joffrey's wedding feast? Joffrey drinks wine from a jeweled goblet and soon dies. (Before he drank from it, he joked about chipping the direwolf off of the cup.) Tyrion doesn't drink snowmelt from cupped hands but he was the King's Hand (until he was demoted) and he imagines kissing Sansa - the bride that Joffrey rejected. Would kissing the Stark maid be like drinking snow water? Regarding the question of drinks and fates, Bran has an additional important shared drink: he uses Ned's silver wolf goblet at the Harvest Feast at Winterfell. (And symbolically dies and is carried to bed by Hodor.) He speaks of the feel of the goblet in his palm, which made me wonder whether GRRM was making a tree allusion (i.e., palm tree or it could be a near-anagram of maple). Maybe the symbolism is that the wine in the wolf goblet is like blood being poured on the roots of a tree. Cressen uses the wine glass that belonged to Davos when he pours out the Strangler poison. So both Cressen and Melisandre drink from Davos's glass. Jon Snow gives Sam Tarly the broken horn from the obsidian cache, telling him he can use it for a drinking horn. This may be a symbolic "shared" drink.
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