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ravenous reader

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  1. Dorian, your reputation in the forum has been rated 'mostly harmless'...LOL (perhaps it's time to revise your desire for 'revenge')!

  2. Why would Arya say the line 'that's not you,' if she wasn't Arya and hadn't said it to Ned in another context which she was recalling ironically in that moment, the rationale for which as explained to us by the writers themselves following the episode, just in case we had failed to appreciate their cleverness? How would the waif know enough about Arya to know to say that line to a wolf she'd never seen before in the middle of the woods with no one else to hear, feigning an emotion that never actually came to pass? Are you suggesting the waif has access to ALL of Arya's childhood memories, including every line she ever uttered to her father verbatim? (in the books, wearing a mask gives one access to very limited fragmentary flashes of memory of the previous inhabitant of the face; though similar symbolically, it's not qualitatively equivalent to skinchanging). If this is the waif and she's nevertheless using that line, because D&D think it's a catchy callback for their own 'meta-' purposes, then the whole thing is just silly. Fooling a direwolf in this manner wouldn't be possible in the books, but who knows with the dastardly droll D's -- I've given up trying to pry apart their (increasingly non-existent) internal logic (the circumstances surrounding Bran's recent (d)evolution is a case in point), although I sincerely admire your intelligent efforts to bring coherence to their gotcha moments! In the books, it's quite clear that animals in general are not fooled by the masks of faceless men: On the other hand, Melisandre did succeed in fooling Ghost somehow with her 'Bene Gesserit Voice'-like trick.
  3. Of course you're free to defend your appreciation of D&D's script -- just as I'm entitled to cast a more critical eye upon it. It's not about 'right and wrong'; it's about 'logical and illogical' -- and by that distinction I'm not referring to you being illogical, but to the gaping holes in D&D's story. If their script were so good, they wouldn't need to explain the story after the fact, nor would they need you to kindly explain it on their behalf (likewise, if the chemistry between the lead actors were so convincing, they wouldn't have to tell us that the characters find each other attractive...). Talking about the story is not the same thing as telling it. If it made sense, it would speak eloquently for itself as written, without all this exposition on the sidelines; and all these recent Bran threads and videos aghast at the change in the character would not exist. People are perplexed, because the narrative is disjointed and perplexing. That said, in principle I can understand, however, why being hooked up to the weirnet, the collective hivemind tree consciousness, would cause one to lose ones humanity over time. In fact, I've explicitly described GRRM's peculiar characterisation of greenseeing using the metaphor of drowning or dissolving in a fluid medium, resulting in the dissolution of boundaries across person, time and space, and therefore threatening ones previous identity. Currently, Bran is adrift in that 'green sea'. Who's to say what a 'normal' response is? What I can judge, however, is that there was nothing grossly 'abnormal' about Bran's reactions, facial affect, speech patterns, and general social demeanor back then (it's precisely because nothing stood out that we weren't having this conversation back then, were we?). For example, he made more eye contact back then and his verbal responses were more appropriate to the conversation. He was certainly not blunted the way he is now. He may not have smothered his uncle in kisses, but no one would deny he was excited to see him and displayed curiosity in his uncle's story. He was certainly not cruel to Meera. Now, however, Bran does not seem to be paying attention to what is happening in front of him, being elsewhere occupied in his thoughts! I surmise GRRM in his stinginess when it comes to giving away his ideas, being unwilling to rain on his own parade, has refrained from coaching D&D through the logic of his thought process, depriving them of a cohesive plot. He has only supplied them with the bare minimum of certain isolated 'end-goal' posts, one of which is probably that Bran 'goes over to the dark side' and has some sort of twisted relationship to the Night's King -- so this is D&D's slapdash interpretation of how that happened. I have no doubt that GRRM will provide a more satisfying and nuanced account, should he ever get around to writing it.
  4. No it doesn't. He was not emotionally blunted nor socially dysfunctional in season 6 episode 6 when he met his uncle Benjen with Meera, at which point he already had all the world's knowledge at his fingertips -- in the short trip from the Wall to Winterfell, he's *somehow* acquired the emotional sensibility of an autist/psychopath?! I understand that you're buying into D&D's convoluted explanations given in retrospect to fill in the gaps left by their lack of continuity, but the fact remains there's precious little attention paid to logical character development and narrative cohesion. Let's just enjoy it for what it is, without having to pretend we're watching the unfolding of anything approaching meaningful storytelling anymore! How interesting -- and great question there at the end! You're not the only one to have thought of Dune in connection with the greenseers, so I don't think you are 'going off the rails' at all. Fittingly, even one of my own threads on the book forum is entitled 'the killing word'!
  5. The search function has also disappeared!
  6. And in the end -- it's all about asking/giving 'a penny for your thoughts...' Because it's about the price paid for the acquisition of knowledge!
  7. Yeah, making someone laugh and tickling someone has that double meaning.
  8. Tried to message you.  Is that not possible?

  9. That's fascinating. I wish I knew more about chess, since there are probably multiple hidden chess motifs and moves we might identify. For example, it's been drawn to my attention that if a pawn crosses the board it can become a queen (essentially adding an extra queen to a game which previously only had two), which if you think about it is what Baelish intends doing with Sansa his prime piece in the game! Regarding 'rooks' and 'rookeries', great catch connecting (scare)crows to chess! Like 'rooks' in chess, the crow or scarecrow figures also come in 'black' and 'white,' e.g. the black vs. white ravens, or the black Night's Watch brothers facing off against the white (br)Others on the other side of the board ...'under the sea the crows are white as snow...' Maybe Bran is a bit of a chess grand master himself considering he's a greenseer for whom a powerful chess piece like the rook would be emblematic, considering his association with crows and broken towers struck by lightning and noting how he 'perches' like a raven, crow or scarecrow on the 'bridge connecting the second floor of the rookery with the fourth floor of the belltower...' That sounds like code to me for something of uncertain significance, perhaps even a checkmating chess move! Any ideas? I've read the rook is often instrumental in bringing about 'checkmate' in the chess endgame, which is precisely what we've been anticipating regarding Bran and his role in the impending Long Night/War for the Dawn. The 'bell tower' might symbolise the embattled King -- bells are often rung for the death of kings, executions, rebellions, a king under siege in the case of the Battle of the Bells, the transfer of power, etc. -- so 'sending a rook to the belltower' might be a checkmate move? Although the rook begins the game relatively hemmed in in its options, as the game progresses it acquires greater freedom of movement and becomes ever more deadly, perhaps reflecting Bran's progress from cripple to major player! In line with your scarecrow suggestion, rooks in chess have also been depicted as 'warders,' 'watchers' or 'beserkers' (wolfskin-wearing warriors associated with Odin) depending on the chess set, and fittingly in heraldic depictions the crenellated battlements may morph into horns, evoking @LmL's 'horned greenseers' and more specifically the outward-curving horned headdress of a court jester or fool such as Patchface, bringing us back to the scarecrow trilogy 'clever bird clever man clever fool'! That's a fun one! Do you think there might be an allusion to the whole red-on-black dragon vs. black-on-red dragon? A door is a kind of shield, herald or sigil, so painting a black dragon on a red door would seem to indicate illegitimacy. Is Dany illegitimate? Although I'm not sure why he's doing this, GRRM employs quite a few counterintuitive pathways of this sort -- 'long' vs. 'short' way; 'front' vs. 'back' door, etc. For example, there are two ways into Bloodraven's cavern -- the steep, direct route from south to north, or the flatter, roundabout route north and then backtracking south:
  10. In addition to 'Tor' meaning gateway or portal, it can also mean 'scoring a goal' (e.g. in a game such as football=soccer) as well as being a 'fool' or 'idiot' in German. By kneeling to Aegon, Torrhen provided a gateway or free passage for the Targaryens to the North, which can be interpreted as a score by Aegon or Torrhen or both, depending on ones perspective (in this analogy, the Neck would be the entrance to the goal and Torrhen the goalie!). Certainly, GRRM does wish us to ponder whether refusing to yield is always the winning option when faced with the other alternative of perpetuating the 'bloodsport'. Although Torrhen no doubt spared his own people much bloodshed by this gesture, he was also inevitably derided for a fool on account of having relinquished his honor, crown and independence to the invaders. I like @Pain killer Jane's pun of 'Tor(he)n' (silent 'h') with 'torn,' whereby Torrhen was torn between his pride and his pragmatism. It's also ironic that in yielding -- which likely 'tore' him up personally -- he helped mend the fabric of the realm into one, this being a symbolic demonstration of GRRM's theme of personal sacrifice done for the greater good. I believe @Seams has also previously mentioned the pun of 'annealing' with 'kneeling,' so Torrhen kneeling can be interpreted as an important step in the forging of a peace, serving to knit the realm into one, the one who 'kneels' removing internal stresses and strengthening it just as one 'anneals' in the forging of a sword. Perhaps you ought to mention it to @Wizz-The-Smith. He does so love identifying a new hill, hollow preferably! @Tijgy has also pointed out that the name 'Brandon' can also mean a hill. So GRRM definitely wishes to identify those Starks with hills.
  11. I like Sam as 'scared crow'/'scarecrow'! Indeed, Cressen was most brave swallowing that poison for the sake of the realm. Unfortunately, he didn't realise he couldn't use poison to fight against the dead.
  12. Much food for thought! Thank you very much also for your fascinating underwater connections on the 'Hollow Hills' thread. It is also a play on another theme; Lamp ray. Specifically the Crone's Lantern shining in the darkness and the constellation of four stars that enclose a golden haze. That is a Davos quote from aSoS. I especially love that scene because he looks out of the northern window and sees a half moon, the Galley sailing West, the Crone's lantern enclosing a yellow haze and the Ice Dragon's eye pointing North. That reminds me of the 'Lonely Light' of the 'Farwynds' (itself a pun on 'far winds'...by which the islands are connected to the power of the old gods and greenseeing). The westernmost Iron islanders are known for being skinchangers of seals and whales, for which they're referred to as 'sea wolves' (to which we can apply my 'sea/see' pun, together with the Stark allusion, yielding yet another greenseeing connection). Perhaps lamprey, lamb prey and lamp ray are all connected by the idea of sacrifice in exchange -- payment -- for the boon that may come of it, such as the power of skinchanging or greenseeing. In Asian mythology, the rabbit in the moon pounds the elixir of immortality for the moon goddess. In other versions, it pounds rice cakes. And rabbits while being symbols of fertility and thus them being equated with immortality fits as procreation is nature's form of immortality. Good point! The rabbit 'rice cakes' are the Asian version of the chocolate Easter bunny or indeed Easter eggs which are consumed to celebrate the gift of eternal life! By the way, there's also the Chinese product 'White Rabbit candy' which was found to contain dangerous levels of melamine and formaldehyde...the taint of eternal life. Regarding procreation as nature's immortality, perhaps that's why Patchface says that under the sea 'the old fish eat the young fish' -- perhaps referring to the abomination of child sacrifice --and Varys adds 'the big fish eat the little fish and I keep on paddling'...Notably, Varys has sacrificed his procreative ability -- his 'little fish' as sperm and his 'eggs' as testicles --in a black magic ritual conferring some kind of power in exchange. In both of these, rabbits are equated with procreation. The first one more than the second. Lances are just as swords often equated to the penis. So the Wild Hares tying the dead rabbits to their lances, is a little on the nose for death and life. And can we stop and say something about their names; the Wild Hares. First off the group thinks of themselves as young wolves thus probably mimicking the Winter Wolves. Secondly they are named Hares not Rabbits. Hare = hair. To add to that, heirs! Also, the image of tying the hares/hairs/heirs to the end of their lances in a dual symbol of life and death is reminiscent of Rhaegar presenting the wreath of blue roses (like a death wreath as well as a symbol of Spring) to Lyanna at the end of his Lance, thereby marking Lyanna for death -- as well as a birth. Nice one. What do you make of this: In exchange for Dany's living sacrifices, including that of her unborn son, after which she apparently forsook further fertility (much like Varys), Dany received her 'children' the dragons who seem to have inspired some kind of magical upswing in Essos. Interestingly, there is a profusion of fertility as well as eating, including cannibalistic, imagery in this passage associated with the explosion of magic, particularly greenseeing abilities ('eater of eyes can see again'). Tying into the theme of sacrifice for spiritual power and immortality, I wonder if the 'Garden of Gehane' alludes to the biblical 'Garden of Gethsemane' where Christ famously prayed, and was tempted, the night before the crucifixion (he's also described as the sacrificial Lamb of God...'lamb prey' becomes 'lamp ray' the risen Light of God). The Garden of Gethsemane is also associated with the 'Last Supper' in which Jesus demonstrated the meaning of Communion for the first time, and with Jesus's betrayal at the hands of his own 'brothers.' Agreed. Incidentally, the word 'Gethsemane' is derived from the Aramaic for 'oil press,' presumably referring to the olive oil that is obtained from the olive trees growing there. Thus, olive trees (the lamb prey equivalent) are sacrificed to produce olive oil, which can be used as lamp fuel to produce light (lamp ray). Interestingly, the olive trees growing there, like the weirwoods, are considered sacred and among the oldest in the world: Interesting. 'The Neck is the key to the kingdom.' (ACOK-Theon II)
  13. Indeed; I had actually intended to mention the Lannister motto in this context, although I neglected to do so. How do Lannisters mostly pay their debts? In blood: by inflicting 'ill and pain' (Il 'n Payne?) on others! It's no coincidence that one of their main allies in doing so is a 'Pay-ne.' Regarding the 'le bon pain' vs. 'ill pain' pairing, the Lannisters prefer stingily withholding the former while generously doling out the latter. Significantly, the King's Landing 'bread riots' took place under Lannister tenure. On attempting to flee the Red Keep, Arya encounters the two aspects of the 'pain' in the kitchen -- how fitting -- the baker and the butcher side by side: What's more, one person's 'bad pain' can be another person's 'good pain'! This is the point I was making above regarding the Lannister economy, whereby inflicting 'bad pain' on others actually serves to nurture them. Cersei, Tywin, and Tyrion all seem to feed off the 'bad pain' of others, simultaneously seizing control of the 'bread basket' of the kingdom for themselves (the Tyrell alliance which brought the fertile Reach under Lannister control, together with the decimation of the Riverlands' farming and transport infrastructure) -- who controls 'le bon pain' controls the kingdoms. Whenever they do see fit to 'feed' others, it usually takes the cynical form of 'Singer's Stew' or mushrooms in a shoe. Nice catch with Bran as a type of grain! (That one, though obvious now that you mention it, seems to have flown over my head) All types of grain are potential symbols of sacrifice and rebirth, including bran, barley, wheat, corn and rye (remember that the blackbirds or 'naughty boys' who were baked in and then flew out of the pie of the evil ditty 'sing a song of sixpence' which we discussed previously were associated with a 'pocketful of rye'). Ultimately, the sacrificial motif is linked to the seed -- it all comes back to 'the seed is strong' which I still find very mysterious (what do you think Jon Arryn meant by it?) Encompassing many of these ideas, there's the traditional folk song of John Barleycorn dating since the 16th century, from which I'm sure GRRM drew inspiration (he even includes a character 'Tom Barleycorn' in the Night's Watch). Then there's this rather ominous reference: Thanks Seams! Likewise, I always enjoy your posts. You never fail to open up rich new seams of possibility in a sometimes otherwise barren landscape . By the way, although I don't always comment, I've read and been inspired by many of your posts. Recently, for example, I came across an excellent one speculating on Patchface as Robert Baratheon, something to which I'm not partial but for which you nevertheless presented an imaginative case. It's a pity no-one replied to your post; I'm still very intrigued by Patchface...ha ha, as if I hadn't written enough on that topic... 'Carnivals' above water are one thing; 'carnivals' below another set of 'wild rides' entirely! Regarding 'lemon cakes,' I see Isobel Harper and LmL are having a bit of fun turning sweet into decidedly unsavory..! In this respect, the unwitting, budding anagrammatists might actually be closer to the mark than they had intended, since lemon cakes are a kind of oxymoron being sweet and sour at once, the sugar possibly masking the acid undertones and therefore alluding to a certain underlying conflict and/or attendant hypocrisy at work in any scene in which the lemon cakes are inserted and consumed. Indeed, 'lemon cakes' (which it occurs to me rhymes with 'snakes'!) might be a case of someone 'trying to have their cake and eat it too', in other words avoiding having to make a hard choice between two irreconcilable options or parties that inevitably results in a disappointment and having to choose one over the other anyway, even if this choice is made unconsciously or by default, e.g. by cowardice. Incidentally, the color yellow -- the color of a lemon and certain 'cloaks'-- has traditionally been associated with cowardice, treachery and 'deserters', including by GRRM explicitly: For example, I can think of at least one clear case of 'lemon cakery' that is directly related to disloyalty and 'desertion', followed by the des(s)erter in question getting her just (and rather bitter) de(s)serts! Allow me to present to you the queen of lemon cakes, Sansa Stark: The foreshadowing here is so sad. At this point in her life, Sansa still believes that she can have Lady as well as the other 'lady' in question -- Cersei. But, as Arya correctly informs her the queen is not a nice person, nor does she like wolves. So -- if it comes down to a choice between lemon cakes and Nymeria -- Arya's choice is clear. And it's not because Arya is not tempted nor has no taste for lemon cakes; her taste for integrity is just more developed than her sister's: There is a difference between 'lemons' and 'lemon cakes.' Whereas 'lemons' signify an unpleasant awakening -- represented here by Arya's experience of 'third-eye' opening which undergoes rapid progression in various forms throughout her apprenticeship at the HOBAW -- nevertheless this revelation of the lemon at the 'heart of true seeing,' as Syrio termed it, is somehow more honest than sugar-coating the truth. 'Lemon cakes' are therefore similar to lies, particularly self-deception, although the lies may be initiated by another -- lemon cake as garden-of-Eden-type-serpentine seduction! Persuading someone to become a deserter or turncloak often involves offering them an enticing dessert, which as we can see is Littlefinger's modus operandi presenting Sansa with rare fruit platters and 'sweets' in the Eyrie -- a bit of 'pie in the sky' there I'd say..! 'Lemon cakes' should never be taken lightly, as the Old Bear reminds us: So, uncompromising truth-tellers and down-to-earth pragmatists like Mormont and to a certain extent Arya (were it not for that flighty wolfbloodedness) see lemon pies for what they are. In the regrettable Trident episode, Sansa, however, doesn't want to admit the possibility of being separated from her wolf by falling in with the lemon-cake-plying Lannisters. This oversight -- basically choosing symbolic 'lemon cakes' over her own family's interests -- leads to one Lady's death essentially at the hands of another less ladylike lady. Cersei is the 'sourpuss' beneath the saccharine facade. Not recognising it in time is a deadly proposition, as Sansa tragically discovers to her detriment. We all know how the story unfolded from this point on. Sansa's aversion to face the truth lurking behind the lemon cake led to her lying by omission in front of the court, a betrayal of the Starks which in turn led to her losing her wolf. Mormont was right -- lemon cakes can kill! She got her 'just deserts or desserts' for being a 'deserter' to the clan and paid the price, leaving her with a very sour or bitter taste in her mouth. You would have thought Sansa would've learnt from this experience. Perhaps her eyes were opened regarding the Lannisters. This insight notwithstanding, she seems to be hellbent on recapitulating the 'lemon cake' pitfalls with Littlefinger, and having been groomed by him and Cersei, learnt how to ply the same trade herself on others, manipulating Robert Arryn here for example: Is the repetition of 'lemony lemony' supposed to reinforce the idea of 'le money' in connection with lemon cakes? Persuading someone to become a deserter of sorts -- here she's trying to persuade him to abandon the stronghold of the Eyrie in which he feels safe for an uncertain fate at the base of the mountain -- often involves an element of seduction as I've mentioned, or indeed bribery. This feeds back (pun intended) into our discussion of pain and payment.
  14. To that trio, you might add 'pay'-ne in the sense of having to pay for ones actions karmically, 'paying the piper' etc., epitomised rather ironically by Ilyn Payne himself, who though now the King's Justice was unable to escape the justice of a former king, having forfeited his tongue in exchange for the indiscretion of having bragged about Tywin effectively ruling the kingdom instead of Aerys, showing GRRM's satisfyingly grim conclusion that no one, not even 'justice' itself, eludes justice ultimately, and that even those in positions of power have not attained, nor do they retain, their status with impunity -- no matter how unjust the world might seem! GRRM is grim (that's another pun, btw...) but not nihilistic. Reduced to mutism and unable to enjoy his food any longer (the tongue confers sensory taste as well as motor function), now Payne's sword does the talking, executing precious sentences, 'tasting' the blood instead of him -- a formidable power bought at the cost of his own speech, his own sentence, his own blood, his own appetite (the specter at the feast cannot enjoy the feast at which he feasts)! Indeed, as we've seen played out repeatedly, 'swords' are forged in blood and fire at considerable personal cost (reflecting this symbolism, Ilyn's tongue was probably removed with hot pincers): Valar dohaeris Valar morghulies. All men must pay their due, pay homage, and pay the ferryman. Ser Ilyn as well as King Joffrey -- neither the servant nor indeed the 'master' is exempt from servitude. Thus, in the act of kneeling before Joffrey and offering him the 'silver bright with runes,' Joffrey is also symbolically forced to his knees to account for himself. This 'offer' is an 'offer he can't refuse.' I see the headsman as a kind of 'debt collector or enforcer' with the runes as glittering 'promissory notes' reflecting silver's dualism, namely the harmful and helpful aspects of anyone's actions which are now tallied and weighed, and presented to Joffrey (and by extension to his family and lineage) from whom payment is now demanded (accordingly, the coin placed in the mouth of the dead to pay Charon the ferryman of the underworld, following classical mythological beliefs, was usually a silver obol). I also think the 'prince that was promised' is a debt owing on some kind of pact made in the past, and that this debt involves the pending sacrifice of a person, considering how in ASOIAF debts are so frequently cashed in using the currency of blood, for example in the practice of holding 'wards' (which is a kind of' 'rune') as hostages in order to guarantee an agreement . Additionally, this demonstrates what is emerging as GRRM's central message -- also grim yet not without its 'silver lining' -- of any human achievement only coming at the price of a sacrifice, of both oneself and others -- 'only death pays for life,' etc. -- the crucial factor being whether that sacrifice is made of or for another. There is a qualitative and quantitative difference for GRRM in whether someone forcibly demands a sacrifice of someone else, i.e. violently extracting payment or profit, or makes a voluntary sacrifice of him or herself. As an example of the former and latter respectively, we have Cersei protecting herself and her brood by viciously harming others such as Bran; vs. Ned attempting to protect Cersei and her children as well as Sansa and Arya by risking, ultimately forfeiting, his life and honor. In contrast to Cersei's merciless madness, 'the madness of mercy' advocated by Ned may not be that 'mad' when all is said and done, considering it has far-reaching consequences down the line, at least in GRRM's cynically romantic view. Hence, Cersei's line is dying out, while Ned's children are consolidating their power and regrouping as the saga reaches its denouement. This philosophy of the virtue of self-sacrifice is also reflected in the faceless men ethos of those requesting the 'boon' or 'gift' of an assassination having to reciprocally pay the ultimate price by giving up a substantial portion of that they most hold dear, in some cases this being their very lives. In other words, 'no pain, no gain'! A gift for a gift. Seen from a punning perspective, one might even say there is something more profound to the meaning of 'Le Bon Pain' or 'Au Bon Pain' (translated as 'good bread' or alternatively a 'good pein=pain') than a mere name for a popular baking franchise! So, we have a potential wordplay on 'le bon pain' vs. an 'ill pain' -- a dialectic concerning the 'good' vs. the 'bad' sort of pain, and under which conditions a person is willing to exchange one for the other. To return to the anti-hero Ser Ill-yn, Payne was promoted to his current post (the 'good' that came of the 'ill'), only following his sacrifice for house Lannister: Later, as @Blackfyre Bastard has mentioned, Podrick's life in turn was spared due to Payne's sacrifice, showing how even distantly-related family members may benefit from or be harmed by each other's choices and actions, even if this process proceeds inadvertently, over time. Strangely, though a distant cousin of Ser Ilyn, Pod with his speech impediment seems to have 'inherited' a measure of Payne's affliction -- reflecting GRRM's notion of collective in addition to individual responsibility and punishment...the son pays for the sins of the father, etc. --amounting to an endlessly (re)iterated concatenation of 'quid pro quo' retribution and reward, riposte and counter-riposte, extending through time: In GRRM's view of history, therefore, transgressions and sacrifices have cumulative consequences, 'paying it forward,' as Tyrion notes: @cgrav has made the insightful commentary on @Macgregor of the North's recent provocative thread that though the elements of fire and weirwood represent two intersecting aspects of each other, fire is restricted to existing in the present and prophesying the future exclusively (which makes sense considering how fire only burns in one direction), whereas the weirwoods exist out of time and therefore are able to see into deep time past as well as future (analogous to Odin hung on the sacred tree, shuttling up and down, back and forth the trunk of time). Fire vs. wood/ice are compared to passion vs. wisdom respectively, the extremes of which would be a certain mindless, wanton violence inherent in the former when unchecked e.g. Melisandre's zealotry, Targaryen 'dragonbloodedness' or the Stark trait of 'wolfbloodedness'; vs. the impotent stagnation of the changeless latter, e.g. Bloodraven's frustration at his limitations and his regrets at not being able to address unfinished business, despite his supposedly 'omniscient, omnipresent' position, expressed here: Otherwise put, one might say that the two poles of fire and ice/wood represent mortality vs. immortality respectively. However, this is not a simple case of life vs. death. Rather, those who are immortal existing outside the plane of time and therefore not subject to death are nevertheless paradoxically closer to a state of death than those who are reducing themselves to ashes in the heat of the moment, giving rise to the surprising admission that the fullness of divine knowledge can not be attained by the divine, nor obviously mortal, alone. In order to truly partake in life and have a vital impact, the god must enter the mortal plane -- akin to the 'passion of Christ' (the word 'passion' at root meaning suffering or pain)-- and subject him/her/itself to the contingencies of time, including pain, decay and death. Life is therefore contingent upon death. Combustion is the cardinal principle (burning fuel in order to create fuel...the ouroboros, 'magic'), of which the other expressions of life, namely, consumption (eating), consummation (sex), and conflict (war), are just variations of the same. Sacrifice is interwoven into the fabric of the dialectic. 'Burning' does not come free of charge, as the Ghost of High Heart reminds the Lightning Lord, so the debts accrued in the course of life -- via the cardinal 'sin' of the burning -- even if executed mindlessly or unintentionally 'in the moment' are nevertheless remembered on the level of the immortals, with ensuing repercussions across time. Despite on the one hand obliterating time, burning on the other hand marks out time in its wake casting a long shadow. It's a 'quid pro quo' situation, an economic exchange if you will, whereby the Lightning Lord as representative of the mortal realm (despite being 'undead' to a certain extent!) extracts a prophecy from the Ghost (also 'undead') who is the representative of the immortal realm, who then exacts a song in payment, in return for her pains ...'I'll have the song that was promised.' You may interpret her summons more broadly -- actually constituting a threat at the end of an accusing pointed wooden (probably weirwood) stick analogous to Ser Ilyn's silent accusation of Joffrey via his equally magic sword-- so that in payment for what was sacrificed to the fire in the past (e.g. the decimation of the weirwoods at High Heart, or the abduction of the moonmaid by the red wanderer, however you may be inclined to interpret that), a debt is owing in the form of a pending sacrifice of fire to the trees in future. This is graphically represented by the image of the burnt bones in the mouth of the weirwood: The cavernous mouth in the tree is like an oven or furnace baking the bread or forging a sword respectively! Moreover, @LmL, I have news for you: Just as humans 'stole fire from the gods and made it/them their thrall,' likewise the gods steal fire from the mortals and make it and them their thralls! The intersection of the mortal and immortal planes is the give-and-take of the spark of the divine, which is none other than the capacity for burning itself. William Blake said it best: And vice versa. As I've touched on above, 'pain' involves a painful payment or sacrifice, so bread -- or pie -- is symbolic of GRRM's theme of sacrifice, particularly pertaining to religion where bread and wine represent the body and blood of the god respectively. Fittingly, we find the following rather disturbing reference in retrospect to Old Nan 'plucking at a hot pie' at the harvest feast over which Bran presides as de facto Lord of Winterfell: Note, there are further references to sacrifice, with potential echoes of human sacrifice and cannibalism, in the 'red bitch begging for bones' (?Melisandre..?Theon); gluttonous Lord Wyman 'attacking the lampreys' which of course foreshadows the infamous so-called 'Frey pies' ( @Pain killer Jane has pointed out that 'lamprey' is a pun on 'lamb prey'...in line with the whole sacrificial lamb / scapegoat theme of which 'pies' and 'pain as bread' are undoubtedly part and parcel); and then last-but-not-least Bran as sacrificial lamb raising and sipping from the goblet of wine, possibly symbolising that his own blood is at stake in providing for his people. Although Jon is most frequently identified as a 'Christ'-figure, Bran is my main candidate for someone who is first sacrificed to a god, rising in the godhead, to return 'reborn' and finally, I believe, sacrifice himself for the good of the realm. Bran pinioned by -- or nailed to -- the weirwood tree, as we anticipate him to become in the manner of 'half corpse-half tree' enthralled and enthralling Bloodraven, could not be a more graphic representation of Christian or Odinesque crucifixion. When Bran was young, Jon gave up his fish for Bran in a selfless 'Christlike' gesture of generosity and love (echoing the parable of the miracle of the bread loaves and the fish) that Bran's never forgotten -- soon it will be Bran's turn to reciprocate, and symbolically he is the fish! (Besides being a Tully, for more on Bran's increasingly aquatic symbolic existence 'underwater', see my 'nennymoan' musings, as referenced upthread). Such a sacrifice would also evoke the poisson/poison relation you've uncovered. Bear in mind, as I've underscored, the sacrifice referred to goes both ways: including a sacrifice to the gods by/of mortals, as well as a sacrifice by/of the gods to mortals. In order to understand GRRM's meanings, particularly in terms of how he's exploring religion, it's important to acknowledge the pervasive impact on his psyche of his Catholic upbringing, of which we can find many traces in his books. Besides a certain personal tendency towards wallowing in gleeful perversity with which he writes, his focus on human sacrifice and cannibalism, for example, can be understood with reference to the more disturbing aspects forming the basis of cornerstone Catholic rituals such as the Holy Communion. Of possible interest to you, I found this article which highlights many of the themes and puns we've been discussing: Of course, the lapin (the rabbit), like the pain (the bread) is sacrificed in the interests of regeneration and resurrection. Speaking of fertility, let's turn now to a discussion of 'the seed' as sacrifice. Bread (pain) is made from flour meal, which is essentially ground seed (crushed in a process which may imaginatively be conceived of as 'painful' or threatening for the seed or the plant from which it derives, requiring that it offers up its life for the sake of another). One such variety of seed is corn although 'seed' of course may in general refer to human or animal reproductive potency. Many have noted the symbolic significance of the 'corn' which the Raven and the crows, including the three-eyed crow, keep demanding ad nauseum, hinting at the importance of a human sacrifice at the core of the conflict and its resolution, particularly in relation to Bran as well as Jon who are most often the recipients of these demands ('corn king' mythology). Then, there's the origin of the Night's King (who sacrificed his seed for power) and the Nissa Nissa/Lightbringer story (who sacrificed her seed for love): Gaining potency is thus accompanied by a loss of potency -- i.e. the payment for that potency. For example, giving his seed to Melisandre in order to make a 'shadow baby' assassin depletes Stannis of his energetic resources, to the extent that she approaches Davos, the next victim of her blind quest. Segueing into your observations surrounding Gendry now, as the bastard of Robert Baratheon -- a notoriously fecund 'seed spreader' -- Gendry is biologically descended from a long line of 'green-fingered,' 'horned-god,' fertile antecedents, some of them even considered greenseer material, for example Durran Godsgrief or Garth Greenhand, the latter associated with human sacrifice according to some accounts: Accordingly, the death of Robert by the boar (agree with you re: GRRM's joke about Robert as the thoughtless, callous 'fat king' vs. Gendry as the thinking, 'pained' 'thin king'), in addition to the death of Lommy Greenhands for that matter can be understood as Gendry's symbolic death and identity transformation. As @sweetsunray has noted, he enters Harrenhal as a chained smith or bear archetype, exiting it later with Arya liberated as a warrior and forest caretaker smith. Harrenhal can also be understood as a mill in which people as seed are broken down and ground, as well as an oven in which the seed or bread is matured (referring to its dragonfire-roasting history) and symbolic forge for human 'swords'. The 'green hand' is thus transformed into a 'black hand' -- Harrenhal's 5 towers represent the five fingers of a black hand thrusting skyward in defiance. Other similar 'smith' or 'Azor Ahai' archetypal characters with transformed hands(or Hands) include Jon, Moqorro, Jaime, Qhorin Halfhand, Tyrion, Theon, Brynden Rivers and Bran, among others. Whether seed of the 'first men' or 'dragonseed,' the sacrifice always involves a blood and fire component. The startling upshot: Greenseer magic is Valyrian magic! As demonstrated in this scene: Wood defeats or consumes fire. So, we have a fire sacrifice to the trees, followed by a blood sacrifice: Shortly thereafter, Luwin poignantly elects to sacrifice himself to the tree -- for Bran. It's a particularly moving moment, not only because we know with the foreknowledge of retrospective reading that this is Bran's tree which he is destined to inhabit as a greenseer -- and since he's a timeless being, within which he already resides, possibly watching on through sad, red, tearful eyes as his first mentor lies dying at his feet; but also because Maester Luwin was always so skeptical and dismissive of the very power to which he now offers himself. Some Maester's links are more truly forged at the base of a weirwood tree than behind the lofty parapet of the Citadel. In his final gesture, representing the culmination of all his learning -- encompassing both his knowledge and his lack of knowledge -- he most truly earned his Valyrian steel link! Although he's painted as a 'grey' character, derided by some such as Lady Catelyn and Lady Dustin for being a meddlesome 'rat', with his grey eyes and grey hair and grey robes, I see more of the direwolf in him here than the rat, as he lays himself down at the foot of the King of Winter. Finally, while we're on the subject of trees consuming people with its relation to baked goods, I wonder if there's an additional wordplay at work relating to your previously identified anagrammatic pair of 'deserters'/'red trees', namely of 'desert' with 'dessert'! Sorry if you've already mentioned it; I can't recall if you did! In this respect, it's interesting to consider the etymological underpinnings of certain connotations of the words 'desert' and 'dessert': From here. Also, from the online etymological dictionary: All men must serve. And the trees, like the dragons, get their just des(s)erts! ETA: Luwin's death may have been the price paid for Bran leaving i.e. 'deserting' Winterfell.
  15. Precisely! I can see 'that' he's doing it -- but can't say why he's chosen that trope, beyond alluding to a chthonic psychic journey. Additionally, I'm sure there's also an as yet unidentified 'historical' pattern playing out.
  16. I also initially had a hard time with it, but the more I learn about how GRRM thinks, the more I think he's a bit of a cyvasse or scrabble player -- as I once said to @Feather Crystal, his mind works in 'grand crystal geometries.' That sort of thing also doesn't come naturally to me, but that's how GRRM amuses himself it seems/seams! @Seams pointed out on the 'nennymoan' thread that the 'silver seaweed' in question from Patchface's riddle 'the merwives weave gowns of silver seaweed' could be an anagram for 'wise red leaves.' 'Weaving' is GRRM's allusion to magic (weaving spells, magic woven into the Wall, etc.), especially 'green' magic, namely that of the Children, the crannogpeople, the greenseers (even the Gipps wife's gift to Huzor Amai was a 'wicker shield'...wicker is woven tree material, remember Mance's funeral pyre made of woven weirwood). The magic is conferred by the trees -- which in my paradigm are 'underwater' -- so 'wise red leaves' aka 'silver seaweed' (silver additionally has a magical connotation, specifically alluding to the greenseer duality of which we've been speaking of late, namely the capacity to harm as well as heal). PM me if you'd like to discuss further -- or we can post on the other thread.
  17. Thank you! Hi @Seams: the pun I've recently identified is green sea/green see/greensee; variation deep (green) sea/deep (green) see(-r,-ing) I think it ties in with some other puns upthread: whet/wet (mind needs a whetstone)...water used in quenching and sharpening 'swords' (relates to our Theon/Ice thread) reed/Reed/read (seaweed is a reed) flow/wolf (flowstone/whetstone/bloodstone) crowning/drowning Summerhall/Winterfell/Summerfall/Winterhell (inversions, subversions) I love your 'wise red leaves'/'silver seaweed' anagram, by the way -- one of your best!
  18. I like your choice of the word 'ruminating'...Very apropos to the topic of pies with all its ramifications, 'ruminating' means thinking and chewing/digesting alike! 'Hot pies' conveys both the sense of something desirable, e.g. in the popular idiom 'selling like hot cakes,' as well as something dangerous, e.g. 'hot merchandise' may be stolen or illegal (after all, only a hot pie can result in potentially burning ones fingers or tongue!) This latter sense is also contained in the 'Sing a song of sixpence' rhyme, where sometimes the 'black birds' are replaced by the expression 'naughty boys baked in a pie.' In the trope of human cannibalism, GRRM combines both these connotations of danger and desirability. For example, when Bran and Dany consume their respective bowls/boles (quotes to follow), initially the taste is repellant, but then becomes irresistible the longer one partakes. Cannibalism conferring knowledge and power is definitely one of GRRM's major and yet most uncomfortable themes, with which we've been wrestling over on the Bran's Growing Powers thread, where for all our hopes to the contrary the signs of 'Jojen paste' and that the 'singers' are up to something nefarious are too insistent to ignore. It's interesting that the pie -- both the one that kills and the one that doesn't -- is cut open at a wedding, hinting that cannibalism, communion, consummation, and consumption may all be related. All this talk of 'hot' and 'cold' got me to thinking of 'drink from the cup of ice...drink from the cup of fire...' Thus far, we've seen a number of 'cups' which could qualify, all associated with an uneasy suggestion of cannibalism conveying 'sight.' Here, eating the 'weirwood paste' -- perhaps a cup of 'ice'? although it's red and spicy simultaneously, so a cup of fiery ice! -- is described as a marriage. Being initiated into the mysteries, Bran is essentially being wed to the weirwood tree: Blood -- his own and that of others sacrificed for him -- makes Bran a greenseer. Compare to Dany's shade of the evening -- perhaps a cup of fire, but it's also blue, a color usually associated more with ice, so a cup of icy fire. Again, this is also a kind of marriage: the taste is described as 'mother's milk' (the bond between mother and child) and 'Drogo's seed' (the marriage consummation). The 'caul before your eyes' evokes the veil worn by a woman on her wedding day as well as biological membranes such as the hymen and amniotic membrane, both of which have symbolic value in terms of marriage and (re)birth; enlightenment and loss of innocence: Then, there's Arya's cup of fire which restores her sight: @Wizz-The-Smith has remarked on the undertones of the Roman Catholic Holy Communion ritual (drinking from the cup and eating the bread representing the transcendence in partaking in the blood and body of Christ). Reinforcing this idea, @Isobel Harperhas mentioned that Sansa's maternal grandmother was Minisa (i.e. 'my nissa') Whent, which also echoes the bat symbolism. Love this -- so imaginative! Elsewhere, impressed by the serpentine imagery surrounding Bloodraven, I noted that a dragon is literally a winged serpent, which ties in nicely with the idea of your eponymous avatar that 'Lucifer means lightbringer.' What is the symbolism of the color purple, do you think? Nice! Although, there is a difference between bats and dragons in that bats are winged mammals, unlike dragons which are winged reptiles. Therefore, bats are more like 'winged wolves' with which all the Starks have been associated, more or less. Bloodsucker bats also mirror the werewolf mythos, from which presumably GRRM's idea of 'warging' is derived. I like your conception of the 'night messenger' which evokes the raven's 'dark wings dark words.' Bats also literally have a kind of 'night sight' which is a dark power! Definitely, there are echoes of the 'bittersweet' cannibalism as communion theme we've touched on in this post and elsewhere. Soaks herself in scalding water is reminiscent of Dany. So if Dany and Sansa are so similar, basically recapitulations of each other, what should we conclude are their different roles in the story?
  19. My post to you has also disappeared! The system seems to be crashing a lot. Nice inclusion of Bran. Flying, seeing and singing are probably more or less synonymous. Bran was originally pushed from the tower because he'd gazed on forbidden knowledge and the twins feared what 'songs' he might 'sing' of what he'd seen to the adults. @Tijgy has recently talked about the prison/liberation imagery associated with him. Bran is the winged wolf imprisoned by stone chains which the three-eyed crow tries to peck at in order to release him and open his 'third eye' -- 'opening an eye' sounds like 'opening a pie' and both connotations are pregnant with symbolic meaning! Likewise, another 'odd bird' Bloodraven was once a prisoner in the Red Keep dungeon before being 'released' to go the Wall, freeing him up to complete his greenseeing journey. I like the connection of pies/spies/eyes (you can also add 'lies' which are 'false pies'!). In the course of investigating nursery rhymes I found an account of land title deeds being baked into a pie in order to smuggle them out at the time of Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries, thus combining pies and spies historically! The origin of the word 'pie' is supposedly from the bird 'magpie' referring to its propensity to collect (which includes a certain amount of theft of) an eclectic assortment of objects. Thus, there is always an element of surprise and risk associated with opening up any pie -- indeed, Frey Pies spring to mind! Agree with the Pandora's box association, jailbirds sprung from the jail cell, rebirth theme, eggs hatching, the juggling (having ones finger in many pies is like keeping several balls in the air at once; testicles are also like eggs being egg-shaped as well as containing the male equivalent of eggs the sperm carrying the gametes). The aspect of the maid in the 'song of the seven' is associated with 'making the birds sing.' Thank you for suggesting alternative candidates for the figure of the 'maid' as victim of the conspiracy. Other candidates might be Brienne the maid of Tarth/Tart (doesn't she also get half of her face 'pecked/nipped off' by Biter?) and Shae who becomes handmaiden to Sansa (and gets 'nipped' in the bud by Tywin and Tyrion shortly following the wedding). What do you think is the significance of Shae's repeated insistence to being present at the wedding so that she can watch the birds fly out of the pie? Love all this, especially the bit about Aerys' pomegrenade pie -- you are on the right track! Have you considered incorporating 'pie idioms' into the pieology? e.g. 'having a finger in every pie' (Littlefinger and Varys), 'pie in the sky' (Sansa), 'eating humble pie' (Joffrey), 'shut your pie hole' (Ties up nicely with the idea of guarding ones tongue lest something untoward slip out and away from one; also what about the possible mutilation of the 'little birds' so that they can't sing, e.g. Varys, Euron and Tyrion turning Symon Silver Tongue into 'singer's stew'?), etc.
  20. Maybe they flashed their breasts and the guards were mesmerized into submission-- just as D&D expect their audience to be with their crude dialogue. And we're just supposed to believe that Jaime and Bronn magnanimously left Trystane to his own devices to potter around painting stones on the ship by himself after Myrcella had just died in suspicious circumstances. Perhaps they were cowed by the Dornishmen who outnumbered them, although we were also expected to buy that Bronn and Jaime on foot with the three hands between them took out four mounted Dornish guards in the dunes. Last season they gave us 'bad pussy' for which they were thoroughly lambasted, so in response this season they give us an extra serving of leering sneering 'greedy bitch' and periodically lapse into a self-conscious parody of Monty Python (I'm thinking of the '5 best things' Dothraki debate, Davos's 'I want some mootin,' and Tyrion's silly non-joke 'you're not a boy because you don't have a cock'; let's all wince along with Varys...). Over at the 'watchers on the wall' site it's curious how there's a not-so-subtle peer pressure to be 'positive'...' Cue Monty Python refrain: 'Always look on the bright side of life!' It's amazing how motivated they are, bending over backwards to fill in D&D's gaping plot holes and justify their whimsical character assassinations. Any criticism of D&D's writing is condemned as evidence of how 'spoiled' and ungrateful the fandom has become. On the contrary, I would posit it's the opposite: D&D are the spoiled ones. The series is so wildly successful, they know that no matter what they do or write we're still going to be here hanging on their every (even if it is badly-written) word, and the ratings, money and accolades will keep pouring in. Does that answer your question as to 'why?' Perhaps the question we ought to be asking is 'why not?' People (I include myself in this number) are not going to stop watching, so why not push the envelope of bad writing and see what happens, or doesn't! It's a good thing Dinklage has two Emmys under his belt, or they'd get rid of him just to shock/spite us. But they know he's gold in the bank, so Tyrion is safe. He will survive those dragons! I also expect them to draw out Jon's fate over several episodes, milk it for all it's worth until the milk is sour on the tongue and curdles in the stomach.
  21. I haven't been following all your 'pie' thoughts, so not sure if you've factored in the following rather malicious nursery rhyme which is surely an allusion: There's a pun on pie and magpie and the author Pye. Magpies are related to crows (black birds) and behave like mockingbirds although they're not closely related. Birds which are good at mimicry and harbingers of death...hmmm...definitely getting a Littlefinger vibe here, and he does so love sticking his 'little finger' in every pie..! In the nursery rhyme 'the maid' is the main casualty. The maid at the wedding is Sansa (she was described as the maid in the prophecy), and she is likely the main casualty of LF's whole conspiracy (besides Joffrey). Regarding the 'true' vs. 'false' pie, this is an example of LF's diversionary tactics, creating a dazzling commotion while singing sweet songs as a kind of sleight of hand to distract from the poisonous main action. Never trust any dish LF serves up to you (she shouldn't have eaten that pomegranate, not to mention all those lemon pies!) I'm not sure how the 'pecking off her nose' figures into the whole theory; I'll leave the 'nose' /'knows' thing up to you to unpack! I will note, however, that Anne Boleyn lost more than her nose, so it is a rather facetious understatement if the rhyme originally referred to Henry VIII and his ill-fated wives (reminiscent of Lord Baelish's similarly ill-fated wife/wives...) It would be too simple to talk of a strict demarcation between rebirth vs. death, since some of the birds in the so-called 'rebirth' pie are inevitably harmed and killed in the process of the 'festivities.' Lysa of course flew out of the 'pie' he'd baked for her, just in the opposite direction, when he 'made her fly' out of the Eyrie (a nest) via the moon door. If history is any indication, Sansa the little dove needs to get away from him ASAP! Out of interest, there's this passage in which Littlefinger uses the birds flying out of a pie analogy in his 'witty' banter with Catelyn. Notice his words are taken verbatim from the nursery rhyme, thereby connecting him both to the nursery rhyme and the pie at the 'purple wedding': Ironically, the person Catelyn should have most worried about was not Varys nor any of the Lannisters, but the Mockingbird himself!
  22. Well, he is the twisted demon monkey..! Nice. This is the passage: So, not only is the moon sacrificed to the sun, but reciprocally the sun is also sacrificed to the moon which 'drinks the fire of the sun.' Symbolically, Dany was the moon to Drogo her sun-and-stars, whose life 'fire' was swallowed by Drogon who emerged from the pyre after Dany had sacrificed Drogo in the blood ritual. Dany like so many Targaryens before her is compared to 'an egg.' I like how you show how 'forging' is a euphemism for sex, and likewise 'swords' are offspring. It's also noteworthy that 'consummation' is very close to 'consuming' (hence one and/or both parties symbolically drink/s and/or eats each other). A sword is literally forged in ice and fire via a process of alternating extremes of hot and cold, wet and dry. Interestingly, the passage you quoted reminded me of another in which Oathkeeper's Valyrian steel is similarly described as 'drinking the sun' the Lannister crimson stain: So, forging a sword is like forging an uneasy alliance between Houses -- mirrored by the uneasy alliance of colors 'lapping' (another drinking metaphor) at each other in the sword...'one-but-over-wrinkled'). As we've been repeatedly told, the best way of forging an alliance is via marriage. This 'forging' is a dangerous process, as can be seen by the number of weddings in Westeros which culminate in murder of various members of the wedding party! Just as the colors in the sword vie for ascendance, the Houses vie for dominance even in the expression of their children. Another way of holding the realm together is by forging a common currency. GRRM has lots of fun punning with the idea of people cast as metals, coins, and swords. e.g. 'golden dragons,' 'silver stags,' 'golden crowns,' Stannis as iron, Renly as copper and Robert as steel, there's Longclaw Jon's 'bastard' sword, and my personal favorite the notorious Targaryen coin-flip of the gods. What marriage does Oathkeeper represent? There are several possibilities: Targaryen (grey Valyrian steel)-Lannister (crimson red), Stark (grey)-Lannister (crimson red), or Stark (grey)-Targaryen (blood red), or Stark (blood red, Ned's blood which was drunk by his own sword)-and another 'grey-black' party like Targaryen or bastard offshoot of the Targaryens (Bloodraven's colors are 'smoke' and red aren't they?). Whatever alliance/marriage it will be, it's hinted that it will be forged after a bitter war between the same parties leaving a wasteland of 'waves of night and blood upon some steely shore'... Then there's this interesting passage involving Tyrion again: Here we have a repetition of the same elements: the moon has swallowed the sun, the color red is the color of blood, they're in Valyria, and Tyrion is going under the bastard name of 'Hugor Hill.' Could this be further fodder for the A+J=T contingent? Much as I find that theory distasteful, I cannot but begrudgingly admit its merit as more and more evidence mounts. Could this scenario presage the rebirth of a dragon, namely Tyrion? Assuming the theory is true, Tyrion was forged from his mother Joanna the moon who came perilously close to the fire (and who is more associated with fire than Aerys?) and cracked from the heat (she died in childbirth) birthing a deformed creature a 'lizard-lion' of sorts! Most intriguing is the 'twin moon'... Good points! GRRM loves to combine opposites in one, hence all this punning! 'fire and ice...love and hate can mate...one but over wrinkled' etc. So, Stark combining the values of barrenness and fertility...the seed is strong and the seed germinates underground! That's true, but there is a symbolic connection nevertheless between the pomegranate as grenade (the word 'grenade' is literally derived from the pomegranate) and the thrown orange. If you've ever tried to eat a pomegranate, you'll understand how the fruit's seeds tend to explode blood-red juice all over you! So, it's significant that the orange is a 'blood' variety and 'explodes' all over Sansa ruining her dress! There's also a blood orange on the platter of fruit which Littlefinger serves up to Sansa, linking the pomegranate with the blood orange as one of Littlefinger's devices: Very interesting. Tyrion is sometimes portrayed as quite doglike...Doesn't The Hound say that a dog can sniff out lies? And in GOT, Tyrion is described in one instance as 'wolfish' and in the prophecy as 'snarling'...Neither of those are particularly dragonesque adjectives, although the latter could be cat-like!
  23. A thought that would combine runes/ruins with wards/swords/words all-in-one... A 'rune' is not only an ancient, forgotten language (so it is literally a language fallen into 'ruin'), but significantly it is one associated with secrets, prophecy and magic. A 'rune' is also naturally related to 'ruin' in that a 'rune' is often 'engraved' or 'graven' on graves, stones, and bones, all of which evoke death, the passage of history, and the uniquely human impulse to hold onto something and record something of ourselves for posterity -- arrest time -- in the midst of this inevitable decay to which we feel subject. The 'casting of the runes' is an attempt to harness 'lady luck' in ones favor and/or tell the future. In other words, prophecy is just another way of trying to control time. See Wikipedia entry: Runes were thought to have magical powers particularly in the sense of 'warding against', or 'warding off' harm-- hence a kind of protective charm or weapon. Again, words as swords! There is a sense that this 'warding' function is particularly critical at Winterfell, e.g. the swords laid over the tombs in the crypts, the stone direwolves standing vigil as if guarding their entombed human counterparts, or even the cryptic words 'there must always be a Stark at Winterfell' (that's another pun for another time...Winterfell, Winter fell, Winter hell, etc...). From this perspective, it is interesting to revisit the idea of a human 'ward' who in a sense is a human 'sword,' which you've previously raised. Unfortunately I have not read any of your theories regarding Theon (the quintessential ward) aligned with Ice (the quintessential sword), but that is a most intriguing idea which the text could certainly support! The word 'ward' itself is very revealing, its meaning being equivocal after deconstruction. Considering it first as a verb, from which the noun is derived, 'ward' has the general meaning of to 'protect' or 'safeguard' (as in warden or guardian). Turning to the noun 'ward' with this in mind, we may understand that Theon is under the protection of Lord Stark who is his guardian. From this perspective, it would appear that Ned is protecting Theon (he's given his 'word' to Balon that no harm shall come to Theon, provided Balon does not act up and act out, Balon correspondingly having given his own 'word' not to do anything to compromise the agreement; thus the 'ward' is sealed with the 'word' of both parties). However, the darker, thinly-veiled, unspoken subtext here is that it's the other way around -- Theon in actual fact is there to protect the Starks! Moreover, should Balon fail in his word, Theon will be executed. This implicit threat is mirrored in the opening scene with the Night's Watch deserter, where the sentence is passed on the one entrusted to guard the realms of men, for going back on his word and failing to do his duty (more on that later). This is a sacred vow, not one to be taken lightly. Since the Greyjoy uprising was quelled, the sacred duty of preserving the realms of men also resides in the aptly-named Theon (meaning 'godly') who is the ward-- the lucky charm, the amulet, the 'rune' -- Ned has brought back with him to Winterfell as 'protection' (a word often used euphemistically, cf. the Mafia 'protection racket') against Balon Greyjoy's potential future wrath. Theon is basically a hostage, at whose expense peace has been ransomed. Therefore, Theon is just as important to the Starks' safety as the greatsword Ice, which makes his later betrayal of Winterfell even more egregious. In so far as Theon fails to remain 'true,' thus failing as a 'rune,' he becomes a corrupted 'rune' -- hence a 'ruined' rune! As we have seen, words and names in GRRM's universe are intimately endowed with power, so when Theon ceases being a 'rune,' evolving instead into a 'ruin' of his former self, it is fitting that he loses his godly name 'Theon' and becomes the ruined man, the dehumanized 'Reek,' until such time as Bran, essentially the new Lord and spiritual heart of Winterfell, magically restores his true name (whereupon Theon once more resumes his protector function of the Starks in rescuing and defending Jeyne, whom is assumed by many to be Arya). Resonating with all these themes, it is noteworthy that the first time we are introduced to Theon, his function is to unsheathe and present Ned's sword for an execution. In the relevant scene we have a congregation of all the elements of 'ward',' sword', and 'word' (as well as 'ruin' and 'rune'). It's noteworthy that the 'word' and the 'sword' are combined as one in the Stark injunction that 'the one who passes the sentence should swing the sword.' Moreover, the sentence is pronounced and passed, because the deserter has not remained true to his word (breaking his Night's Watch vow to remain at his post no matter what may come, until his death). By not remaining true, the deserter has defiled the reputation of the Night's Watch and 'ruined' his honor. Death is the outcome. This also ties in with the idea that the Wall of ice (like sword 'Ice') itself is a magical ward, and that this magic can only hold so long as the Night's Watch men remain 'true' to their word. 'Spells are locked into' the ice, evoking the 'warding' function of 'words' which are 'runes' inscribed into a stone wall or on a grave, but it goes further than that... The Wall not only contains runes upon it, the runes are essentially 'locked beneath' it, indicating that magic is the foundation guaranteeing its very structural integrity; in other words, which gave rise to and keeps the wall standing in the first place. Taken together with the fact that the wall exists as some form of protection (from whom and for whom, as in the case of Theon as ward, is as yet not completely clear, and may yet still prove equivocal), from a certain point of view then, the Wall is a gigantic Rune! Melisandre calls the Wall '[her and Jon's] place,' indicating that it is a locus of magic and power, both earthly and otherworldly, a nexus of fire and ice, describing it as a 'hinge' -- implying that if these runes could be deciphered, the wall will swing open giving rise to a door (analogous to Sam passing through the secret gate by saying the 'right' words): Note too the pun on the word 'grave'...'you may have grave need of me...' (Hmmm... no comment!) The sword-as-ward/word metaphor is reinforced by Ice's magical elements being 'spell-forged' (a kind of 'rune'), and the fact that the sword is anthropomorphized, as all the Valyrian swords of the Great Houses typically are. Ice is compared to 'a man's hand' and said to be 'taller than Robb' (almost as if the sword were a man standing next to Robb and Theon), a key figure in the action. Moreover, the sword itself 'speaks the sentence' (in that it is used to behead the offender)! GRRM often portrays swords as having voices, e.g. in his frequent descriptions of swords 'singing.' 'Perhaps on account of being transformed by Valyrian 'spells' (runes/words), the Valyrian swords especially become individuals in their own right, each with its unique character reflected in its own special name and corresponding characteristic house 'words.' For example, 'Dark Sister' is a sister sword to 'Blackfyre,' reflecting the Targaryen tradition of sister fighting alongside (or alternatively against!) brother, both echoes of the Targaryen house words 'Fire and Blood.' Incidentally, a House's 'Words' are so much more than a mere motto, as you correctly point out. Not only are the 'words' intimately connected with the sword, history and ethos of that House, the 'words' of a particular House are traditionally shouted as a battlecry when riding forth swords aloft into the fray of battle, in order to assert ones allegiance, to muster up battle courage, and to 'ward' off ones opponent and fend off any ensuing personal harm (or ruin to ones House), thus yet another connection between words/wards/swords/runes/ruins. When 'all' is revealed, and Dawn resurfaces, it will no doubt have a major role to play in the promised, eponymous 'War for the Dawn' (especially since GRRM is so coy about it). Dawn was forged from the heart of a fallen star. Having fallen from outer space and glowing with an otherworldly milky-white bluish light, the implication is that Dawn, though not of Valyrian steel, is nevertheless equally if not more magical than the rest. In Dawn, we have the combination of a number of elements we've mentioned. It's a sword, word, ward, rune, and ruin all-in-one (having been forged from a burnt out piece of rock; a fallen star is a kind of ruined star which is powerful nevertheless...'ruin' is etymologically derived from the root for to 'fall' or 'collapse'). N.B. 'the broken tower' and the fallen Star-k (see @evita mgfs ). As an aside, the mention of the 'Rhoynar' reminded me of our 'rune/ruin' puns, considering its similar sound. Could there be something in it? In addition, the Rhoynar are a ruined culture, an 'orphaned' people, who according to the wiki used 'water magic' and other spells to fend off danger (which is a kind of 'rune'!) as well as being related to 'swords' in a way, considering they were reportedly the first to introduce the secrets of working iron into weapons. With their relationship to Nymeria and Arya, their lore is bound to resonate with Arya's arc later on, if it doesn't already (her magical warging powers and close association with water, e.g. in Braavos). In the text we see many warriors riding off into battle or competing in the lists armed with not only their swords and shields, but traditional armor engraved with runes for protection: Here, the 'runes' and 'swords' are juxtaposed in the circle of power represented by the replica of Torrhen's crown (the original currently missing-in-action). Note again as above, the 'runes' are associated with the metal 'bronze.' There appears to be something magical associated with bronze, the metal exemplifying the age of the First Men. When bronze oxidizes it acquires a green sheen (which is the color of nature besides), so bronze and green are the colors associated with the First Men, the Children of the Forest, and Meera and Jojen Reed, the latter Reed a powerful Greenseer and Bran's guide, the former his protector (both therefore exemplifying the 'warding' function). Bran's words are strangely prescient when he says of the Reeds: In the passage above, the Reeds arrive to swear their 'words' to Bran, words which are coincident with their 'swords' ('sworn swords') and 'wards'...The Reeds described as 'slender as swords' swear fealty to Bran and promise to defend him come what may. The final ritualistic utterance of the three elemental couplets (earth & water; bronze & iron; ice & fire) assumes the enigmatic grandeur of some kind of magical incantation warding off evil and division. The magical 'greensight' is always associated with 'bronze scales' and the color green (the three-pronged spear mirroring the three-pronged fork of the Trident). The two Reeds and crannogman are characterized as three (the lizard-lion has three heads?!) fierce and furtive little 'lizard-lions' with their bronze-green scales, 'leathery skin' and sharp 'teeth' paddling through the water...which reminds me of another magical reptilian relation: Like the 'lizard-lions' of the Neck (what we'd call crocodiles or alligators), Daenerys's dragons are living fossils -- words, swords, and wards (and runes and ruins). Magical beings, born of blood magic, they like swords or people have names. Like flaming swords, they are Dany's primary weapons. They are her 'wards' in a dual sense, first as her 'children' for whom she is responsible, and reciprocally as her protectors. I'm not sure of the significance, but Rhaegal with his bronze and green scales, associated with the foliage of summer and fall, echoes the descriptions of the Reeds and those other 'children,' the Children of the forest. Bones (a person's ruins) as runes. Rattleshirt, the lord of bones, uses the bones/skull/teeth of his enemies from which to draw strength and intimidate further enemies. Hence, the use of the teeth (dental acuity) and skull (mental acuity) as protection. The following -- Robb and Catelyn's visit to the Ruins of Oldstones -- is the most important passage of all, when it comes to considering ruins in the context of runes, words, wards, swords. Indeed, a rune or ruin is an 'old stone'! I find it particularly poignant as Robb receives an intimation of his own mortality (as he poetically overlooks the Twins), and contemplates the same with a stoicism belying his youth. When Robb pauses in 'somber' contemplation 'in the [ominously] gathering dusk' beside the grave of the king, he becomes a 'seer' seeing deep into his past, the story of the ascension and subsequent destruction of the Kingdom of Mudd of the First Men mirroring his own doomed kingship, not hesitating there but seeing beyond his own death and making provision for this eventuality, something which Catelyn refuses to entertain. Although at some level she too admits their precarious position, musing on life's fragility and the futility ultimately of all human endeavor in the face of the erosion of time and the elements "We're all just songs in the end. If we are lucky.' Language is the fundamentally human way to ward off the passage of time and preserve human culture -- our primary weapon (this concept is essentially a recapitulation of Bloodraven's weirwood lessons), and is a common trope in literature, as a reflection of the author's ego contemplating his or her own mortality. The passage reaches a climactic moment, at once triumphant and heartbreaking, when Grey Wind jumps up on the grave and takes his position besides the king (here, both the dead king and Robb the soon-to-be-dead king); the stony sepulchre, the wolf and Robb's 'cold' face reminding us of the Kings of Winter with their stone direwolves holding eternal vigil on their tombs in Winterfell crypts: 'Grey Wind leapt up atop King Tristifer's crypt [Latin tristis 'sad, mournful, sorrowful, gloomy'], his teeth bared. Robb's own face was cold...' In that moment there can be no doubt: Robb, Grey Wind, and Catelyn are doomed. This tableau is reminiscent of Ned's dream which came to him shortly before his own death, perhaps announcing it: Oldstones: En route to their final destination (symbolic in itself) 'the Twins,' Robb and Catelyn stand amidst the ruins in the rain (which is of course a 'twin' of how they'll soon end at the Twins, ruined, on another day of relentless rain in a rain of arrows to the Rains of Castamere, another ruin) contemplating the potential ruin of the Stark family and its aftermath. In response, Robb wishes to ward off this unpleasant possibility by securing an heir of his choice -- namely Jon. However, Catelyn blinded by her jealousy and hurt can not get beyond seeing Jon as a sign of ruin. If we look closely at this scene though, there may be a subtle hint already present of Jon as ward, savior, and king, in that the king's 'likeness' is overgrown by wild roses, a living symbol of both Lyanna and Jon. Robb argues that a 'ruin' may be easily turned into a 'rune' so to speak by a word, in that a royal decree can easily legitimize a bastard and secure his legacy. While we're on linguistic puns, Robb uses the word 'issue' which may refer to an heir as well as a book. Catelyn argues in bad faith that a Snow would ruin house Stark, a bastard is tainted, a ruined version of trueborn, and comes up with ridiculously far removed relations as insulting alternatives in an attempt to ward off Jon from her consciousness as is her wont ...But most of all -- and this is key to understanding what makes Catelyn tick -- Jon is a reminder of her own ruin -- of how she is the insulted party, after Ned in her mind irrevocably broke his vow/word to her and ruined his honor and hers, something she can not and/or will not overcome. Robb is right, she is lying to herself, although with her characteristic self-righteousness she claims 'all I have done is speak the truth'... She was and is and will always be Lady Stone Heart, literally and figuratively a heartbroken, ruined woman: Books/words as ruins, 'falling to pieces...crumbled away...buried' ;as well as runes...Sam the Slayer of knowledge is digging through the books (the mention of 'runes on rocks' suggests that all research is a kind of archaeological excavation) looking for the answer to defending themselves against the Others. i.e. finding a rune is like finding a key to unlock the knowledge of how best to ward off the Others (again, Sam as the gatekeeper via words as swords). Here Sam seems to have a literal hunger and/or thirst for knowledge; he also appears to be somewhat 'bloodthirsty' perhaps, as he 'licks his lips' thinking of the enemy! Tormund relinquishes his rune-engraved golden (not bronze interestingly) armbands, historical artifacts 'ruins' really, to stand in stead of his word as payment, thereby signifying his pact with Jon ('rings' also symbolizing a marriage of sorts between the Night's Watch and the Free Folk). The allusion to the ring he wears around his 'member' is a reminder of the potency associated with words/wards/swords (phallic imagery) and runes/ruins. Significantly, Tormund though on the surface trusting Jon to honor his word, nevertheless holds onto some of his own power by withholding that final ring...to ward himself from harm, should either Jon and/or the Night's Watch rescind on their troth to allow a peaceful crossing. Tormund's shrewd caution and saucy banter reminds us of the possibility always inherent in words/wards/swords and runes/ruins, that they may fail us, or worse turn treacherous. Thus, to respond to your question regarding Thoros ruining swords vs. runic words (the latter which were able to ward off death), this is evidence that there are both -- true and false -- words/wards/swords and runes/ruins which make an appearance throughout the text. To start, Thoros' sword reminds us of that other fake sword, Stannis's Melisandre-anointed 'Lightbringer' which flashes very prettily emitting light but no heat. She's a seductress, and this is one of her tricks, just an empty 'glamor' (however, as in the case of Thoros, this doesn't necessarily exclude any other of her powers from being 'real'). Sincerity and deception may co-exist in one person -- isn't this GRRM's favorite theme? To cite a few other examples: Is this the real thing, or an imposter? Was Mance lying, or telling the truth? It's implied that Sam has the Horn, which would be fitting seeing as he's the master linguist (the horn speaks in a secret language like the language of ravens with which Sam has been associated), the maester of runes (as well as a boy who was 'ruined' by his domineering father), the slayer of knowledge, the Huntsman Tarly striding forth... This is a false queen, false crown (the irony that Robb too wore a false crown when he proclaimed himself King of the North...Torrhen's crown is elsewhere...like Dawn, I'm pretty sure it'll have to resurface before we're through...). The instance you mentioned. The sword is an imposter, masquerading as Ice (Sansa notices the difference instantly). Although Ser Ilyn does not speak, the sword can be said to speak loudly (its ornamentation quite garish, ostentatious and over the top). Likewise, the runes are flashy and 'bright' (engraved in silver this time...?significance of the metals), nevertheless they do not speak true, considering how they are supposed to ward Joffrey from danger and bless him on what is supposed to be his most blessed of days, his wedding day. On the contrary, they hint at treachery and presage Joffrey's death, i.e. ruin (echoing our motif of the cheeky poisonous gift, Ser Ilyn is literally 'presenting' it to him) when the ruby eyes 'wink' and the dragonglass 'skull grins' at him in mockery. So the 'specter is at the feast' and the sword partakes in the grim farce. Another way of looking at it is that the sword does indeed speak true, considering Ser Ilyn and the sword represent the King's Justice, and Joffrey has not been a just king! Joffrey has made a mockery of the monarchy and the mummer's farce at his end is fitting. So, try ones best, sometimes the protection doesn't come through for one. Also in this passage is an allusion to Sansa herself as false. Sansa is more interested in flashy heraldry than the actual people behind those masks (cf. The Hound vs. Sandor). While Ser Robar is carried off 'dazed and unmoving,' Sansa is unmoved, with 'eyes only for Ser Loras'. This is a very important lesson: For all this fine talk of words/wards/swords and runes/runes-- we should always bear in mind that symbol does not automatically equate with substance -- which is of course the whole crux and crutch of Sansa's arc. P.S. Among other interpretations, the burning of the books can be understood as an 'ignition of understanding'!
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