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ravenous reader

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  1. On 8/10/2017 at 2:36 AM, ummester said:

    Re the whole Arya/Brienne thing, I enjoyed the fight for how it played out, without thinking of the logic too much. But, what if Arya is the Waif and the Waif has had an immense amount of training in swordplay?

    The only thing that still really negates the Waif becoming Arya is Nymeria not eating her - but, if the Waif became no-one enough, perhaps she can impersonate Arya enough to fool a direwolf?

    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:


    A group of Lysene sailors were staggering from the Happy Port as she went by, but the girl did not see any of the whores. The Ship was closed up and forlorn, its troupe of mummers no doubt still abed. But farther on, on the wharf beside an Ibbenese whaler, she spied Cat's old friend Tagganaro tossing a ball back and forth with Casso, King of Seals, whilst his latest cutpurse worked the crowd of onlookers. When she stopped to watch and listen for a moment, Tagganaro glanced at her without recognition, but Casso barked and clapped his flippers. He knows me, the girl thought, or else he smells the fish. She hurried on her way.

    (ADWD - The Ugly Little Girl)

    She was in luck tonight. The tavern was near empty, and she was able to claim a quiet corner not far from the fire. No sooner had she settled there and crossed her legs than something brushed up against her thigh. "You again?" said the blind girl. She scratched his head behind one ear, and the cat jumped up into her lap and began to purr. Braavos was full of cats, and no place more than Pynto's. The old pirate believed they brought good luck and kept his tavern free of vermin. "You know me, don't you?" she whispered. Cats were not fooled by a mummer's moles. They remembered Cat of the Canals.

    (ADWD - The Blind Girl)


    On the other hand, Melisandre did succeed in fooling Ghost somehow with her 'Bene Gesserit Voice'-like trick.

  2. 2 hours ago, Lady Fishbiscuit said:

    Or let's just agree that I think something and you think something else and it's all down to different perspectives rather than right and wrong?  

     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'.  


    Not buying into anything, the book and show are different things and I'm enjoying them separately on their own merits.  Maybe book-Bran will come across as less of an asshole or maybe his behaviour will be better explained with the benefit of hundreds of pages.

    When he met Benjen he didn't actually say much. A normal response would have been "oh uncle Benjen, I'm so glad you're alive(ish)! And you saved us! *hugs*. Oh you've no idea what we've been through... this is my best friend Meera, I'd be dead without her... Do you know about father and mother? And Rob? And little baby Rickon? It's so sad... *weeps*...".  Ok, so he may be less close to Benjen if he was mostly at the wall with the occasional visit, so it may be more noticeable with people he should be closer with like his sisters. Poor Meera probably spent too much time dragging him around in a semi conscious state to notice how much he was changing, so it was really only noticeable when he didn't react to her leaving. I think they're trying to show that he's so full of info finding it hard to sort through what's 'him' and what's 'everything else', so meeting people, even family members, just throws up random visions and memories which he just says.  

    Thats just what I think and you're welcome to your own opinion.

    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. 

  3. 6 hours ago, Lady Fishbiscuit said:

    It's interesting to see how emotionally detached he's becoming, now that he's seen 'everything'. I know a lot of people didn't like this, but I think it makes sense.

    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!  :cheers:

    1 hour ago, Dizzy Walker said:

    Littlefinger's speech and the way Bran acted with Sansa really reminded of the Paul Muad'dib character from Dune. Paul could see all future possibilities like a spider web. With that knowledge, Paul chose a path and had to make the choices that would cause pain and death of his loved ones and himself, all for the sake of a better future.  When Bran apologized to Sansa for the wedding,  I immediately thought of the Paul character.

     If Bran COULD manipulate the past, maybe he had set a course of events to get the end result of saving Westeros.   Unfortunately that course of events included Sansa having to go thru the wedding. If that was the case, Bran wasn't just trying to console or be supportive, he was actually apologizing to Sansa for making her go thru it. Most people saw creepy, I saw as guilt and dealing with what he had to do to his sister...

    what is the point of Bran seeing everything if he can't do anything about it?  What was the point of the Blood raven just watching people? is it too be just like the Maesters, record history and nothing else?

    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'!

  4. 4 minutes ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    First of all, This up here makes absolutely no sense. (Pun fully intended.) Hiemal's comment about the cent-tree/sentry is the coalescence of why the Others are akin to the NWs members. The Others are lightning struck cent-trees that are covered in ash. The Night's King the father of the Others was a watcher on the wall, a sentry and he came down from the wall like a falling star and crowned himself king. And because the damn Pennytree is in between Barba's/Missy's teats it is at the heart of what is going on. So it is disrespectful to act out this way. 

    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!  :wub:

  5. 1 minute ago, LmL said:

    I noticed in Theon's Winterfell nightmare of the two direwolf children chasing him, all the trees had faces, and all the faces were laughing. It seems like a pretty strong theme. It might be an extension of the "sex and swordplay" double entendres about bloody swords and "giving a maiden the sword when her moon blood is on her" , the childbed being a woman's battlefield and the like. 

    Yeah, making someone laugh and tickling someone has that double meaning.

  6. 16 minutes ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    And here is something you would like from Paint it Black


    No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
    I could not foresee this thing happening to you

    If I look hard enough into the setting sun
    My love will laugh with me before the morning comes



  7. 22 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    in Scotland scarecrows are called bodach-rocais or 'old man of the rooks' and a rook is a tower and we have several towers known to be rookeries with a lot of crows. And given, that I saw that GRRM was a step below a chess master, this is not a coincidence.

    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!


    A Feast for Crows - Alayne II

    "Yes, Father." She could feel herself blushing.

    He did not hold her kiss against her. "You would not believe half of what is happening in King's Landing, sweetling. Cersei stumbles from one idiocy to the next, helped along by her council of the deaf, the dim, and the blind. I always anticipated that she would beggar the realm and destroy herself, but I never expected she would do it quite so fast. It is quite vexing. I had hoped to have four or five quiet years to plant some seeds and allow some fruits to ripen, but now . . . it is a good thing that I thrive on chaos. What little peace and order the five kings left us will not long survive the three queens, I fear."

    "Three queens?" She did not understand.

    Nor did Petyr choose to explain. Instead, he smiled and said, "I have brought my sweet girl back a gift."

    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'!



    Chess rooks frequently occur as heraldic charges. Heraldic rooks are usually shown as they looked in medieval chess-sets, with the usual battlements replaced by two outward-curving horns. They occur in arms from around the 13th century onwards.


    19 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    I think the red door is a finger pointing at the Rollingstones' song Paint It Black. The first line of that song is "I see a red door and I want to paint it black."

    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?


    20 hours ago, Isobel Harper said:

    Also, (correct me if I'm wrong) the red brick road led straight to Oz, whereas the yellow brick road was the looong way to it.  This sort of reminds me of Quaithe's instructions to "go east in order to go west."  That is, take the looong way to get home.  Astapor and Yunkai have yellow and red bricks as well, don't they?

    ETA: And like Dorothy, Daenerys just wants to go home.

    I'm curious to know if there are any red doors mentioned in the book series, especially in Kansas. 

    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:


    A Dance with Dragons - Bran II

    "Is this the only way in?" asked Meera.

    "The back door is three leagues north, down a sinkhole."

    That was all he had to say. Not even Hodor could climb down into a sinkhole with Bran heavy on his back, and Jojen could no more walk three leagues than run a thousand.



    ADWD-Bran III

    The caves were timeless, vast, silent. They were home to more than three score living singers and the bones of thousands dead, and extended far below the hollow hill. "Men should not go wandering in this place," Leaf warned them. "The river you hear is swift and black, and flows down and down to a sunless sea. And there are passages that go even deeper, bottomless pits and sudden shafts, forgotten ways that lead to the very center of the earth. Even my people have not explored them all, and we have lived here for a thousand thousand of your man-years."


  8. 14 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    So here is another study of something that is probably in the pages of this thread.

    King Torrhen Stark

    Obvious one would be 'torn' or 'ripped'

    the second would Tauren - maybe of you will recognize this from World of Warcraft, as the race of cow people from the Horde side of the game. (For the Horde B)) Basically should be viewed as bull like as Taurus is near. 

    Now let's break the name Torrhen apart to "Torr" and 'Hen'

    torr is a unit of pressure.
    Hen is the female version of the word haneni which means 'bird who sings for sunrise'.

    So we have a man whose nickname is 'the King Who Knelt" who is probably viewed as a chicken, was torn between his decisions, was probably under a lot of pressure and then bent the knee for another sunrise. And was probably a sacrificial bull (this last one is up for debate) 


    1 hour ago, Isobel Harper said:

    Torrhen might be one of the German-influenced names we discussed up-thread.  Tor means gate in German.  Tormund means gate protection/protector.  

    There's a city called Rhen (I think) somewhere in the Rhine valley.  Don't quote me on that.  Doubt there's a connection to that though. 

    ETA: the hen might be from the German diminutive ending chen, which mean little or small.  Little or small gate?  The CH in chen is a glutaral fricative, sounding something like a harsh H.

    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.

    51 minutes ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    Did you guys also discuss the English and Welsh origins of 'Tor' as a tower or a craggy outcrop on a hill, up thread? 

    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.

  9. 1 hour ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    Hey seams I don't know if anyone pointed this out but Sam being a brother of the Night's Watch, he is also a scarecrow in the sense that he is protecting the crop. i.e. the realms of men. The action of being craven is the action of being scared but like how you pointed out with Bran's quote being scared is not the issue the real issue is how we face it which what Sam's journey is about. So the multi-layer meaning of Sam is that he is a scared crow (a brother of the Night's Watch) but is tasked with protecting it like a scarecrow. A hint to this is Maester Cressen standing in between the two gargoyles the wyvern and hellhound but is symbolically acting like a gargoyle another symbol of protection against something but was originally the thing it is currently thing from. Added bonus is that Cressen is a maester which is what Sam is currently studying. 

    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.

  10. 5 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    I just wanted to share a few thoughts on some of the things that stood out to me in your comment @ravenous reader

    Much food for thought!  Thank you very much also for your fascinating underwater connections on the 'Hollow Hills' thread.

    5 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:
    On 10/17/2016 at 7:48 PM, ravenous reader said:

    'lamprey' is a pun on 'lamb prey'...

    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.

    5 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:
    On 10/17/2016 at 7:48 PM, ravenous reader said:

    Of course, the lapin (the rabbit), like the pain (the bread) is sacrificed in the interests of regeneration and resurrection.

    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.

    5 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    Now they call themselves the Wild Hares and gallop about the country with rabbitskins tied to the ends of their lances, singing songs of chivalry."

    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.

    5 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    'the turtle was stuffed with rabbits' (turtles also being symbols of immortality)

    Nice one.  What do you make of this:


    A Clash of Kings - Daenerys V

    Dany had laughed when he told her. "Was it not you who told me warlocks were no more than old soldiers, vainly boasting of forgotten deeds and lost prowess?"

    Xaro looked troubled. "And so it was, then. But now? I am less certain. It is said that the glass candles are burning in the house of Urrathon Night-Walker, that have not burned in a hundred years. Ghost grass grows in the Garden of Gehane, phantom tortoises have been seen carrying messages between the windowless houses on Warlock's Way, and all the rats in the city are chewing off their tails. The wife of Mathos Mallarawan, who once mocked a warlock's drab moth-eaten robe, has gone mad and will wear no clothes at all. Even fresh-washed silks make her feel as though a thousand insects were crawling on her skin. And Blind Sybassion the Eater of Eyes can see again, or so his slaves do swear. A man must wonder." He sighed. "These are strange times in Qarth. And strange times are bad for trade. It grieves me to say so, yet it might be best if you left Qarth entirely, and sooner rather than later." Xaro stroked her fingers reassuringly. "You need not go alone, though. You have seen dark visions in the Palace of Dust, but Xaro has dreamed brighter dreams. I see you happily abed, with our child at your breast. Sail with me around the Jade Sea, and we can yet make it so! It is not too late. Give me a son, my sweet song of joy!"

    Give you a dragon, you mean. "I will not wed you, Xaro."

    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.'  

    5 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    To me this points to consuming something that is indicative of procreation for obtaining immortality i.e. pointing out the cognitive dissonance of the symbolism of receiving holy communion/Eucharist which is the body and blood of Christ and committing what essentially boils down to  as cannibalism. (That in no way is meant to be offensive to Catholics) 


    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:


     From Wikipedia:

    the site of Gethsemane located "at the foot of the Mount of Olives", and he adds that "the faithful were accustomed to go there to pray". Eight ancient olive trees growing in the Latin site of the garden may be 900 years old.[9]

    Olive trees[edit]

    A study conducted by the National Research Council of Italy in 2012 found that several olive trees in the garden are amongst the oldest known to scieprence.[10] Dates of 1092, 1166 and 1198 AD were obtained by carbon dating from older parts of the trunks of three trees.[10]DNA tests show that the trees were originally planted from the same parent plant.[10] This could indicate attempt to keep the linage of an older species intact.[11][12] Then again the three trees tested could have been sprouts reviving from the older roots. “The results of tests on trees in the Garden of Gethsemane have not settled the question of whether the gnarled trees are the very same which sheltered Jesus because olive trees can grow back from roots after being cut down”, researchers said.[12]

    However Bernabei writes, “All the tree trunks are hollow inside so that the central, older wood is missing . . . In the end, only three from a total of eight olive trees could be successfully dated. The dated ancient olive trees do, however, not allow any hypothesis to be made with regard to the age of the remaining five giant olive trees.”[13] Babcox said that the roots of the oldest trees are possibly much older and then points out the traditional claim that the trees are two thousand years old.[14]


    3 hours ago, Pain killer Jane said:

    The tradition name for the Red Sea (that thing that Moses parted) is Yam Suph. The word Suph itself is Reed and therefore is translated as Sea of Reeds (I will leave that there). There is an interpretation that cites that Suph is related to Suphah (Storm) and Soph (end) and its usage to identify the body of water that Moses parted denotes the end of persecution by Egyptians and thus a storm's end. 

    Btw the Sea of Reeds could be akin to the Egyptian Sekhet-Aaru or the heavenly reed fields where Osiris rules. And I just wanna point out that House Reed is located in the North, the Underworld.   


    'The Neck is the key to the kingdom.' (ACOK-Theon II)


  11. 17 hours ago, Seams said:

    I'll have to think about this. Connecting "pay" to "pain" in the books would require that the phrase, "Lannisters always pay their debts" fit into the motif. I'm always on board with additional layers of meaning for important phrases and symbols and passages, so maybe this would work as a third layer for the Lannister motto.

    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. 

    17 hours ago, Seams said:

    This is excellent! I spent a little time searching the bread references, and bread always seems to be good - people want it; it's nourishing; it's fresh and warm. Even when it's stale, it can be used as a trencher. So it makes sense that there is good pain (bread) and bad pain (the kind that happens when Ser Ilyn chops off your head).

    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:


    A Game of Thrones - Arya IV

    Sobbing, Arya spun and ran.

    She plunged through the kitchens and buttery, blind with panic, weaving between cooks and potboys. A baker's helper stepped in front of her, holding a wooden tray. Arya bowled her over, scattering fragrant loaves of fresh-baked bread on the floor. She heard shouting behind her as she spun around a portly butcher who stood gaping at her with a cleaver in his hands. His arms were red to the elbow.

    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.

    17 hours ago, Seams said:

    In my initial post about pain / le pain, I had completely forgotten about the whole discussion of flour / flower / flow earlier on this thread. Ramsay is the son of a miller's wife; Ramsay gets Theon blamed for killing the miller's boys (represented as Bran and Rickon). Bran is even a type of ground seed or grain, so that is a perfect fit. And we had Arya's flashback scene with Jon Snow covered in flour, scaring baby Bran in the crypt (with Robb's help). So the sacrifice motif is established by connecting the sacrificial kings to flour, not directly to bread. Very good.

    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:


    A Feast for Crows - Alayne II

    "The Lord of the Eyrie cannot descend from his mountain tied up like a sack of barleycorn." Of that Alayne was certain. They dare not let the full extent of Robert's frailty and cowardice become too widely known, her father had warned her. I wish he were here. He would know what to do.


    17 hours ago, Seams said:

    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'

    Now we'll have to examine lemon cakes as symbols of desertion!

    Nice work, rr. I always feel as if I've been on every ride at the carnival after reading one of your posts. There's some great wordplay stuff in this one.

    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:


    A Dance with Dragons - The Spurned Suitor

    The hour of ghosts was almost upon them when Ser Gerris Drinkwater returned to the pyramid to report that he had found Beans, Books, and Old Bill Bone in one of Meereen's less savory cellars, drinking yellow wine and watching naked slaves kill one another with bare hands and filed teeth.

    "Beans pulled a blade and proposed a wager to determine if deserters had bellies full of yellow slime," Ser Gerris reported, "so I tossed him a dragon and asked if yellow gold would do. He bit the coin and asked what I meant to buy. When I told him he slipped the knife away and asked if I was drunk or mad."

    "Let him think what he wants, so long as he delivers the message," said Quentyn.

    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:


    A Game of Thrones - Sansa I

    Arya ignored her. She gave a hard yank with the brush. Nymeria growled and spun away, affronted. "Come back here!"

    "There's going to be lemon cakes and tea," Sansa went on, all adult and reasonable. Lady brushed against her leg. Sansa scratched her ears the way she liked, and Lady sat beside her on her haunches, watching Arya chase Nymeria.


    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:


    A Dance with Dragons - The Ugly Little Girl

    Still as stone, she thought. She sat unmoving. The cut was quick, the blade sharp. By rights the metal should have been cold against her flesh, but it felt warm instead. She could feel the blood washing down her face, a rippling red curtain falling across her brow and cheeks and chin, and she understood why the priest had made her close her eyes. When it reached her lips the taste was salt and copper. She licked at it and shivered.

    "Bring me the face," said the kindly man. The waif made no answer, but she could hear her slippers whispering over the stone floor. To the girl he said, "Drink this," and pressed a cup into her hand. She drank it down at once. It was very tart, like biting into a lemon. A thousand years ago, she had known a girl who loved lemon cakes. No, that was not me, that was only Arya.

    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:


    A Storm of Swords - Samwell II

    "The m-maesters think not," Sam stammered. "The maesters say it comes from the fires of the earth. They call it obsidian."

    Mormont snorted. "They can call it lemon pie for all I care. If it kills as you claim, I want more of it."

    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.


    "Why would you want to ride a smelly old horse and get all sore and sweaty when you could recline on feather pillows and eat cakes with the queen?"

    "I don't like the queen," Arya said casually. Sansa sucked in her breath, shocked that even Arya would say such a thing, but her sister prattled on, heedless. "She won't even let me bring Nymeria." She thrust the brush under her belt and stalked her wolf. Nymeria watched her approach warily.

    A Game of Thrones - Sansa I

    Sansa couldn't help but smile a little. The kennelmaster once told her that an animal takes after its master. She gave Lady a quick little hug. Lady licked her cheek. Sansa giggled. Arya heard and whirled around, glaring. "I don't care what you say, I'm going out riding." Her long horsey face got the stubborn look that meant she was going to do something willful.

    "Gods be true, Arya, sometimes you act like such a child," Sansa said. "I'll go by myself then. It will be ever so much nicer that way. Lady and I will eat all the lemon cakes and just have the best time without you."

    She turned to walk off, but Arya shouted after her, "They won't let you bring Lady either." She was gone before Sansa could think of a reply, chasing Nymeria along the river.

    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:


    A Feast for Crows - Alayne II

    "Will they be lemon cakes?" Lord Robert loved lemon cakes, perhaps because Alayne did.

    "Lemony lemony lemon cakes," she assured him, "and you can have as many as you like."

    "A hundred?" he wanted to know. "Could I have a hundred?"

    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.

  12. On 10/16/2016 at 6:00 PM, Seams said:

    pain / Payne / pain (French for "bread")

    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): 


    A Storm of Swords - Tyrion VIII

    "True." Joffrey lifted his voice. "Ser Ilyn, your sword!"

    From the shadows at the back of the hall, Ser Ilyn Payne appeared. The specter at the feast, thought Tyrion as he watched the King's Justice stride forward, gaunt and grim. He had been too young to have known Ser Ilyn before he'd lost his tongue. He would have been a different man in those days, but now the silence is as much a part of him as those hollow eyes, that rusty chainmail shirt, and the greatsword on his back.

    Ser Ilyn bowed before the king and queen, reached back over his shoulder, and drew forth six feet of ornate silver bright with runes. He knelt to offer the huge blade to Joffrey, hilt first; points of red fire winked from ruby eyes on the pommel, a chunk of dragonglass carved in the shape of a grinning skull.

    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 .  


    From wikipedia:

    In fact, the etymology of 'pain' itself reveals this sense of 'blood payment':

    from Old French and Anglo-Norman peine, paine, from Latin poena ‎(“punishment, pain”), from Ancient Greek ποινή ‎(poinḗ,“bloodmoney, weregild, fine, price paid, penalty”)

    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:


    A Feast for Crows - Jaime III

    Ser Ilyn's appointment had been a wedding gift from Robert Baratheon to the father of his bride, a sinecure to compensate Payne for the tongue he'd lost in the service of House Lannister. He made a splendid headsman. He had never botched an execution, and seldom required as much as a second stroke. And there was something about his silence that inspired terror. Seldom had a King's Justice seemed so well fitted for his office.

    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.  

    On 10/16/2016 at 8:50 PM, Blackfyre Bastard said:

    Bread in the broader sense of food and nourishment could be at issue also. Don't forget that Pod is usually described as undernourished: too thin and short for his age. He looks (and behaves) very much a child compared to Sansa who is of an age with him.

    Pod was sentenced to death for sharing food belonging to Tywin with other soldiers, but his name saved him (Payne / paine / bread)


    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:


    A Game of Thrones - Tyrion VIII

    His squire, a boy with the unfortunate name of Podrick Payne, swallowed whatever he had been about to say. The lad was a distant cousin to Ser Ilyn Payne, the king's headsman … and almost as quiet, although not for want of a tongue. Tyrion had made him stick it out once, just to be certain. "Definitely a tongue," he had said. "Someday you must learn to use it."

    At the moment, he did not have the patience to try and coax a thought out of the lad, whom he suspected had been inflicted on him as a cruel jape. Tyrion turned his attention back to the girl. "Is this her?" he asked Bronn.

    In GRRM's view of history, therefore, transgressions and sacrifices have cumulative consequences, 'paying it forward,' as Tyrion notes:


    A Storm of Swords - Tyrion X

    "It was. Even you can see that, surely?"

    "Oh, surely." It all goes back and back, Tyrion thought, to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance on in our steads. "Well, Prince Rhaegar married Elia of Dorne, not Cersei Lannister of Casterly Rock. So it would seem your mother won that tilt."

    "She thought so," Prince Oberyn agreed, "but your father is not a man to forget such slights. He taught that lesson to Lord and Lady Tarbeck once, and to the Reynes of Castamere. And at King's Landing, he taught it to my sister. My helm, Dagos." Manwoody handed it to him; a high golden helm with a copper disk mounted on the brow, the sun of Dorne. The visor had been removed, Tyrion saw. "Elia and her children have waited long for justice." Prince Oberyn pulled on soft red leather gloves, and took up his spear again. "But this day they shall have it."




    A Storm of Swords - Arya VIII

    "She will leave on the morrow, with us," Lord Beric assured the little woman. "We're taking her to Riverrun, to her mother."

    "Nay," said the dwarf. "You're not. The black fish holds the rivers now. If it's the mother you want, seek her at the Twins. For there's to be a wedding." She cackled again. "Look in your fires, pink priest, and you will see. Not now, though, not here, you'll see nothing here. This place belongs to the old gods still . . . they linger here as I do, shrunken and feeble but not yet dead. Nor do they love the flames. For the oak recalls the acorn, the acorn dreams the oak, the stump lives in them both. And they remember when the First Men came with fire in their fists." She drank the last of the wine in four long swallows, flung the skin aside, and pointed her stick at Lord Beric. "I'll have my payment now. I'll have the song you promised me."

    @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:


    A Dance with Dragons - Bran III

    "But," said Bran, "he heard me."

    "He heard a whisper on the wind, a rustling amongst the leaves. You cannot speak to him, try as you might. I know. I have my own ghosts, Bran. A brother that I loved, a brother that I hated, a woman I desired. Through the trees, I see them still, but no word of mine has ever reached them. The past remains the past. We can learn from it, but we cannot change it."

    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:


    A Clash of Kings - Jon II

    Whitetree, the village was named on Sam's old maps. Jon did not think it much of a village. Four tumbledown one-room houses of unmortared stone surrounded an empty sheepfold and a well. The houses were roofed with sod, the windows shuttered with ragged pieces of hide. And above them loomed the pale limbs and dark red leaves of a monstrous great weirwood.

    It was the biggest tree Jon Snow had ever seen, the trunk near eight feet wide, the branches spreading so far that the entire village was shaded beneath their canopy. The size did not disturb him so much as the face . . . the mouth especially, no simple carved slash, but a jagged hollow large enough to swallow a sheep.

    Those are not sheep bones, though. Nor is that a sheep's skull in the ashes.

    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:


    'Eternity is in love with the productions of time.'

    And vice versa.


    On 10/16/2016 at 6:00 PM, Seams said:

    The pain wordplay seems to focus on Gendry, who is described as looking pained after discussion of hunting wild boar. I interpreted this as allusion to the death of the father Gendry never knew, King Robert, and as a symbolic death for Gendry himself. Later in the chapter, Lommy Greenhands dies, perhaps underscoring the symbolic death of Gendry with a green dye / Gendry pun. Of course, a symbolic death just clears the way for a rebirth for Gendry as he and his surviving companions enter Harrenhal.

    It occurred to me that pain could be wordplay on the surname of Ser Ilyn Payne, the King's Justice, especially if you accept the symbolic death notion. Once I recognized the possible pun, it crossed my mind that there could be a third layer of meaning. The baker named Hot Pie is part of Gendry's group, and the french word for bread is also pain.

    To better understand the meaning GRRM intends for this wordplay, I think we need to look at additional examples of pain and bread and Ser Ilyn (or execution and death in general). Ser Ilyn's sword is used to cut the pie crust at Joffrey's wedding feast. People eat food out of trenchers - bowls carved out of loaves of bread. (Theon's trencher is cut open and the fish stew inside gets on his clothes during the raucous feast where he learns that "Esgred" is really his sister, Asha.) Of course, bread is often a key component in establishing the guest/host relationship of guest right.

    Of course, Podrick Payne is present when both Tyrion and Brienne experience excruciating pain and symbolic death.

    If you can think of additional examples linking pain / Payne and bread, or if you think you understand why GRRM wants to link these words in our minds, please share your insights.

    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:


    A Clash of Kings - Bran III

    On the benches below, Winterfell men mixed with smallfolk from the winter town, friends from the nearer holdfasts, and the escorts of their lordly guests. Some faces Bran had never seen before, others he knew as well as his own, yet they all seemed equally foreign to him. He watched them as from a distance, as if he still sat in the window of his bedchamber, looking down on the yard below, seeing everything yet a part of nothing.

    Osha moved among the tables, pouring ale. One of Leobald Tallhart's men slid a hand up under her skirts and she broke the flagon over his head, to roars of laughter. Yet Mikken had his hand down some woman's bodice, and she seemed not to mind. Bran watched Farlen make his red bitch beg for bones and smiled at Old Nan plucking at the crust of a hot pie with wrinkled fingers. On the dais, Lord Wyman attacked a steaming plate of lampreys as if they were an enemy host.

    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:


    a symbolic link between le pain and pain in Christian doctrine.

    When one “breaks bread,” le pain (pronounced “pan” with a soft “n”) does not feel the pain (la peine, pronounced “pen”). Yes, but when scripture speaks of Jesus Christ as “the bread of life” and then, on the cross, as “broken bread,” well, that’s another story. The agony of the cross is, ergo, the agony of the bread. Now fast forward through Christ’s resurrection and the birth of the church to the liturgy of Holy Communion where the body (bread) and blood (wine) of Christ are symbolically ingested.

    Here Taylor, a lapsed Catholic, stops me short. “French Catholics believe that the body and blood of Christ are literally, not symbolically, present in the bread and wine.” She then translates the French saying, Nul pain sans peine — No bread without pain. “We take our bread and our pain very seriously!” Taylor clarifies one more minor point. “The cultured French would never break bread with their hands,” she says. “They cut bread with a knife, and usually on a diagonal.”

    Our server delivers our beverages and while we sip, I take notes as Taylor, fluent in five languages, ventures into etymology. The French word “le pain” has its roots in Sanskrit and Latin. The Sanskrit pa (long) and nis (to feed or nourish) evolved into Latin as panis. And when we break bread with another, we are copains — friends. The co is from the Latin cum, meaning “with” — with bread. In English, the word “companion” literally means bread mate.  [this echoes the 'guest right' ritual]


    Taylor also advises getting the French articles and genders right. “Order la pain instead of le pain and you could end up with a plate of lapin.” [lapin = rabbit]

    Speaking of rabbits

    All this talk of pain, le pain and le lapin stimulates Taylor’s childhood memories of the little chocolate rabbits she consumed during Easter services. Aha! More links. Broken bread is resurrected as chocolate lapins. Easter’s rituals were associated by early Christians with the pagan celebration of spring, and rabbits are symbols of both fecundity and resurrection. The female rabbit’s prodigious procreative capacities are evident in her ability to get pregnant twice in the same season, carrying two litters simultaneously.

    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):


    A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

    As the sun began to set the shadows of the towers lengthened and the wind blew harder, sending gusts of dry dead leaves rattling through the yards. The gathering gloom put Bran in mind of another of Old Nan's stories, the tale of Night's King. He had been the thirteenth man to lead the Night's Watch, she said; a warrior who knew no fear. "And that was the fault in him," she would add, "for all men must know fear." A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well.

    He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will. For thirteen years they had ruled, Night's King and his corpse queen, till finally the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun of the wildlings had joined to free the Watch from bondage. After his fall, when it was found he had been sacrificing to the Others, all records of Night's King had been destroyed, his very name forbidden.

    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: 


    The World of Ice and Fire - The Reach: Garth Greenhand

    Garth was the High King of the First Men, it is written; it was he who led them out of the east and across the land bridge to Westeros. Yet other tales would have us believe that he preceded the arrival of the First Men by thousands of years, making him not only the First Man in Westeros, but the only man, wandering the length and breadth of the land alone and treating with the giants and the children of the forest. Some even say he was a god.

    There is disagreement even on his name. Garth Greenhand, we call him, but in the oldest tales he is named Garth Greenhair, or simply Garth the Green. Some stories say he had green hands, green hair, or green skin overall. (A few even give him antlers, like a stag.) Others tell us that he dressed in green from head to foot, and certainly this is how he is most commonly depicted in paintings, tapestries, and sculptures. More likely, his sobriquet derived from his gifts as a gardener and a tiller of the soil—the one trait on which all the tales agree. "Garth made the corn ripen, the trees fruit, and the flowers bloom," the singers tell us.

    A few of the very oldest tales of Garth Greenhand present us with a considerably darker deity, one who demanded blood sacrifice from his worshippers to ensure a bountiful harvest. In some stories the green god dies every autumn when the trees lose their leaves, only to be reborn with the coming of spring. This version of Garth is largely forgotten.

    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:


    A Clash of Kings - Bran VII

    "The godswood." Meera Reed ran after the direwolf, her shield and frog spear to hand. The rest of them trailed after, threading their way through smoke and fallen stones. The air was sweeter under the trees. A few pines along the edge of the wood had been scorched, but deeper in the damp soil and green wood had defeated the flames. "There is a power in living wood," said Jojen Reed, almost as if he knew what Bran was thinking, "a power strong as fire."


    Wood defeats or consumes fire.  So, we have a fire sacrifice to the trees, followed by a blood sacrifice:



    On the edge of the black pool, beneath the shelter of the heart tree, Maester Luwin lay on his belly in the dirt. A trail of blood twisted back through damp leaves where he had crawled. Summer stood over him, and Bran thought he was dead at first, but when Meera touched his throat, the maester moaned. "Hodor?" Hodor said mournfully. "Hodor?"

    Gently, they eased Luwin onto his back. He had grey eyes and grey hair, and once his robes had been grey as well, but they were darker now where the blood had soaked through. "Bran," he said softly when he saw him sitting tall on Hodor's back. "And Rickon too." He smiled. "The gods are good. I knew . . ."

    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':



    Noun. Middle English.
    [Old French, from deservir DESERVE.]
    1(a) Deserving, being worthy of reward or punishment. ME
    1(b) Merit, excellence, worth. LME
    2 An action or quality deserving reward or punishment. Usually in plural. LME
    3 Due reward or punishment, something deserved.
    Frequently in get one's deserts, have one's deserts, meet with one's deserts, etc. LME

    From here.  Also, from the online etymological dictionary:


    c. 1600, from Middle French dessert (mid-16c.) "last course," literally "removal of what has been served," from desservir "clear the table," literally "un-serve," from des- "remove, undo" (see dis-) + Old French servir "to serve" (see serve (v.)).

    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.  

  13. 1 minute ago, LmL said:

    I'm sure there is a deeper truth behind the sea / seer thing having to do with an important part of the story, but I can't figure out exactly what. 


    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.  

  14. 26 minutes ago, LmL said:

    I myself have a hard time with this, and you know I am not a sceptic. I follow the similar sounding words and different spellings for the same sound (see/ sea), but anagrams... yeah I don't know, seems pretty far out. I don't really see a connection between silver seaweed and red weirwood leaves, what was that supposed to be again? 

    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! :P

    @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.

  15. 2 hours ago, Isobel Harper said:

    Kudos to all of you on the Patchface/nennymoans thread for figuring out Bran in the weirwood net as being "under the sea."

    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)


    Summerhall/Winterfell/Summerfall/Winterhell (inversions, subversions)


    I love your 'wise red leaves'/'silver seaweed' anagram, by the way -- one of your best!

  16. On ‎5‎/‎1‎/‎2016 at 9:16 PM, Evolett said:

    In fact, the pie from which the doves fly is a cold pie. I examined the 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' song in connection with these scenes a while ago and searched until I found the actual recipe of such a pie. It is a cold pie, baked in advance of including the birds, because obviously, live birds cannot be baked into a 'Hot Pie'. The birds do not sing but their flying is accompanied by music. I'm still ruminating on what this means but it serves as a distinction to the hot spiced pigeon pie served to the guests, of which Tyrion receives a piece.

    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!


     The hot pigeon pie stands in contrast to the cold dove pie. Arya's companion Hot Pie is a cook, specifically a baker who produces hot pies. Included in the 'hot pie' category is the pie that Tyrion eats as well as the Rat Cook's and Frey pies. These pies contain a jumble of ingredients - hot and spicy and are more a match for the dragon metaphor, even though there is no visible sign of dragons being present (or I have not noticed any). Let us not forget that pigeons were famous for their function in transporting messages - work that is carried out by ravens in the books. And though the ravens are alive, they are inhabited by the souls of dead 'singers'. So we could extrapolate that the 'hot pies' nevertheless contain entities that are able to 'sing', ie to impart knowledge or to send messages, i.e. the breaking of the taboo of cannibalism that took place on account of the Rat Cook's actions led to the ability to impart knowledge in this manner (dreaming, prophecy?) and all these are related to fire - the fire of the sun. I hope you can follow my train of thought :). While we are on the subject of singers, Tyrion has a singer killed and this man is turned into 'singer stew' and eaten by unsuspecting persons who may then acquire said ability for prophecy etc.?

    '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:


    A Dance with Dragons - Bran III

    "A paste of weirwood seeds."

    Something about the look of it made Bran feel ill. The red veins were only weirwood sap, he supposed, but in the torchlight they looked remarkably like blood. He dipped the spoon into the paste, then hesitated. "Will this make me a greenseer?"

    "Your blood makes you a greenseer," said Lord Brynden. "This will help awaken your gifts and wed you to the trees."


    Blood -- his own and that of others sacrificed for him -- makes Bran a greenseer.



    He ate.

    It had a bitter taste, though not so bitter as acorn paste. The first spoonful was the hardest to get down. He almost retched it right back up. The second tastedbetter. The third was almost sweet. The rest he spooned up eagerly. Why had he thought that it was bitter? It tasted of honey, of new-fallen snow, of pepper and cinnamon and the last kiss his mother ever gave him. The empty bowl slipped from his fingers and clattered on the cavern floor. "I don't feel any different. What happens next?"

    Leaf touched his hand. "The trees will teach you. The trees remember." He raised a hand, and the other singers began to move about the cavern, extinguishing the torches one by one. The darkness thickened and crept toward them.

    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:


    A Clash of Kings - Daenerys IV

    "When you come to the chamber of the Undying, be patient. Our little lives are no more than a flicker of a moth's wing to them. Listen well, and write each word upon your heart."

    When they reached the door—a tall oval mouth, set in a wall fashioned in the likeness of a human face—the smallest dwarf Dany had ever seen was waiting on the threshold. He stood no higher than her knee, his faced pinched and pointed, snoutish, but he was dressed in delicate livery of purple and blue, and his tiny pink hands held a silver tray. Upon it rested a slender crystal glass filled with a thick blue liquid: shade of the evening, the wine of warlocks. "Take and drink," urged Pyat Pree.

    "Will it turn my lips blue?"

    "One flute will serve only to unstop your ears and dissolve the caul from off your eyes, so that you may hear and see the truths that will be laid before you."

    Dany raised the glass to her lips. The first sip tasted like ink and spoiled meat, foul, but when she swallowed it seemed to come to life within her. She could feel tendrils spreading through her chest, like fingers of fire coiling around her heart, and on her tongue was a taste like honey and anise and cream, like mother's milk and Drogo's seed, like red meat and hot blood and molten gold. It was all the tastes she had ever known, and none of them . . . and then the glass was empty.

    Then, there's Arya's cup of fire which restores her sight:


    A Dance with Dragons - The Blind Girl

    I saw you. "I gave you three. I don't need to give you four." Maybe on the morrow she would tell him about the cat that had followed her home last night from Pynto's, the cat that was hiding in the rafters, looking down on them. Or maybe not. If he could have secrets, so could she.

    That evening Umma served salt-crusted crabs for supper. When her cup was presented to her, the blind girl wrinkled her nose and drank it down in three long gulps. Then she gasped and dropped the cup. Her tongue was on fire, and when she gulped a cup of wine the flames spread down her throat and up her nose.

    "Wine will not help, and water will just fan the flames," the waif told her. "Eat this." A heel of bread was pressed into her hand. The girl stuffed it in her mouth, chewed, swallowed. It helped. A second chunk helped more.

    And come the morning, when the night wolf left her and she opened her eyes, she saw a tallow candle burning where no candle had been the night before, its uncertain flame swaying back and forth like a whore at the Happy Port. She had never seen anything so beautiful.

    @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).

    4 hours ago, LmL said:

    Sansa is a moon maiden in the Nissa Nissa tradition and therefore has many scenes replaying the birth of dragons from the lunar egg.

    Reinforcing this idea, @Isobel Harperhas mentioned that Sansa's maternal grandmother was Minisa (i.e. 'my nissa') Whent, which also echoes the bat symbolism.


    I've discussed this at length in my podcasts, particularly in the one titled "Waves of Night and Moon Blood." The bleeding her moon blood and then burning it while AZor Ahai look-a-like Stannis Baratheon fills the air with smoke that blots out the sky, her turning into a "bat wolf," and most of all her medusa-like black amethyst hairnet, symbolized as a head full of purple snakes. Those are the moon dragons.

    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?


    The Butterbumps scene is absolutely about dragons hatching. The symbolism reversed a bit - the sun lays the egg (notice BBumps is round and yellow) and the moon hatches it - but it's the same story. When BBumps spits seeds everywhere, those are the dragonseeds - the meteors - spewing forth from the sun. So yes, bats and dragons are somewhat equivalent in many cases. Also, the night messenger / blood sucker aspects of bats fits the nature of the black moon meteors perfectly. Remember that Lightbringer drank Nissa Nissa's blood - that's part of the deal. 

    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. 


    As for food symbolism, you guys are right to link eggs with the moon. That's exactly the idea. Fried and boiled eggs refers to the moon cracking from the sun's heat, and to the landing of a dragon meteor in the ocean (the sea dragon). In the moon blood scene with Sansa, Sansa herself is the moon egg. She burns her moon blood and soaks herself in scalding water. Then she eats fried and boiled eggs, after frying and boiling herself or her moon blood. Same story told two different ways in the same scene. 

    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?

  17. My post to you has also disappeared!  The system seems to be crashing a lot.

    21 hours ago, Seams said:

    Bran fell when Jaime pushed him off the old keep, but he did not die as a result of the fall because he learned to fly, i.e., he became a greenseer. If flying and seeing are synonymous, that might explain why Petyr Baelish says that Varys doesn't want the pie opened. Varys controls the little birds if they bring their information only to him; if the pie is opened, maybe he no longer has control of the information flow. This line of thought caused me to think of the possible pies / spies connection.

    There is something else worth noting in the Littlefinger remark to Catelyn and Ned about Varys's pie anxiety:

    Littlefinger smiled. "Leave Lord Varys to me, sweet lady. If you will permit me a small obscenity—and where better for it than here—I hold the man's balls in the palm of my hand." He cupped his fingers, smiling. "Or would, if he were a man, or had any balls. You see, if the pie is opened, the birds begin to sing, and Varys would not like that. Were I you, I would worry more about the Lannisters and less about the eunuch."

    The reference to holding balls in one's hand evokes the motif of jugglers. Butterbumps is one of GRRM's wise fools who not only juggles, but also has a scene involving breaking open an egg (he tells Sansa to open it) and chicks running all over a supper table, up a girl's sleeve, emerging from his mouth, etc. He then sings ("the birds began to sing"?) to cover up Sansa's conversation with the Queen of Thorns and Margaery so that Varys's spies can't hear them. How would this connect to Littlefinger's juggling and pie metaphors? Varys doesn't actually have balls, so maybe Petyr isn't the juggler he claims to be.

    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. 

    21 hours ago, Seams said:

    (Arya steals one of the tarts just before liberating the northern bannermen from the dungeon at Harrenhal, even though it turns out they didn't need liberating. This may connect to the "cell" wordplay that @The Fattest Leechpointed out earlier on this thread, and I've been considering whether Pycelle is supposed to be a match for pie shell, which would be a crust that has no filling, and could link all of this pie-rebirth theorizing to the jail cell-rebirth scenes.)

    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?

    3 hours ago, Seams said:

    Maybe the metaphor of opening the pie has to do with people escaping a castle: the pie-cutting at Joffrey's wedding reception is followed by Sansa, Tyrion, and Littlefinger leaving the Red Keep. Maybe also Ser Dontos, although he doesn't go far. Wex Pyke escapes the sack of Winterfell and sees others escaping. The alleged Frey pies are served at Ramsay Bolton's wedding feast at Winterfell, and soon Theon and Jeyne Poole / fArya make their escape. Arya steals a tart at Harrenhal and soon escapes with Gendry and Hot Pie. Maybe the murder of Pycelle by Varys symbolizes another cutting of a pie, and necessarily precedes Varys's escape from King's Landing.

    I wonder whether pies must be "opened" by (or for) rulers or future rulers? You could argue that Wex Pyke is "opened" by Theon, who takes him on as a squire. Theon and Arya are on my short list of characters with huge potential, although maybe Theon's turn as "Prince of Winterfell" will be all the royal time he gets.

    If this idea of escaping a castle is correct, this helps me to understand why Mad King Aerys had the alchemists make the wild fire grenades in the shapes of fruit. He wanted the pie that was the Red Keep (King's Landing? Westeros?) opened from within, by its own fruit filling.

    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.

  18. On ‎4‎/‎25‎/‎2016 at 11:11 PM, Good Guy Garlan said:

    Obara probably monologued her way into the ship. Just...shaking my head. But this is par for the course with Dorne, and it highlights the lack of connection between D&D and their audience. I mean, after the widespread criticism of the Sand Snakes and Ellaria, D&D choose to...give us an extra serving? Guess that's one way to tell the critics to fuck off, but I don't even know...like, why? 

    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. 

  19. On ‎4‎/‎23‎/‎2016 at 8:04 AM, Seams said:

    I've been trying to puzzle out the meaning of the pie with the birds in it

    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:


    From Wikipedia:


    Sing a song of sixpence,

    A pocket full of rye.

    Four and twenty blackbirds,

    Baked in a pie.


    When the pie was opened,

    The birds began to sing;

    Wasn't that a dainty dish,

    To set before the king?


    The king was in his counting house,

    Counting out his money;

    The queen was in the parlour,

    Eating bread and honey.


    The maid was in the garden,

    Hanging out the clothes,

    When down came a blackbird

    And pecked off her nose.


    The final line of the fourth verse is sometimes slightly varied, with nose pecked or nipped off. One of the following additional verses is often added to moderate the ending:

    They sent for the king's doctor,

    who sewed it on again;

    He sewed it on so neatly,

    the seam was never seen.


    There was such a commotion,

    that little Jenny wren

    Flew down into the garden,

    and put it back again.

    The rhyme's origins are uncertain. References have been inferred in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (c. 1602), (Act II, Scene iii), where Sir Toby Belch tells a clown: "Come on; there is sixpence for you: let's have a song" and in Beaumont and Fletcher's Bonduca (1614), which contains the line "Whoa, here's a stir now! Sing a song o' sixpence!"

    In the past it has often been attributed to George Steevens (1736–1800), who used it in a pun at the expense of Poet Laureate Henry James Pye (1745–1813) in 1790, but the first verse had already appeared in print in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Song Book, published in London around 1744, in the form:

    Sing a Song of Sixpence,

    A bag full of Rye,

    Four and twenty Naughty Boys,

    Baked in a Pye.

    The next printed version that survives, from around 1780, has two verses and the boys have been replaced by birds. A version of the modern four verses is first extant in Gammer Gurton's Garland or The Nursery Parnassus published in 1784, which ends with a magpie attacking the unfortunate maid. Fifth verses with the happier endings began to be added from the middle of the 19th century.

    Meaning and interpretations

    Many interpretations have been placed on this rhyme. It is known that a 16th-century amusement was to place live birds in a pie, as a form of entremet. An Italian cookbook from 1549 (translated into English in 1598) contained such a recipe: "to make pies so that birds may be alive in them and flie out when it is cut up" and this was referred to in a cook book of 1725 by John Nott. The wedding of Marie de' Medici and Henry IV of France in 1600 contains some interesting parallels. "The first surprise, though, came shortly before the starter—when the guests sat down, unfolded their napkins and saw songbirds fly out. The highlight of the meal were sherbets of milk and honey, which were created by Buontalenti."

    In The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, Iona and Peter Opie write that the rhyme has been tied to a variety of historical events or folklorish symbols such as the queen symbolizing the moon, the king the sun, and the blackbirds the number of hours in a day; or, as the authors indicate, the blackbirds have been seen as an allusion to monks during the period of the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, with Catherine of Aragon representing the queen, and Anne Boleyn the maid. The rye and the birds have been seen to represent a tribute sent to Henry VII, and on another level, the term "pocketful of rye" may in fact refer to an older term of measurement. The number 24 has been tied to the Reformation and the printing of the English Bible with 24 letters. From a folklorish tradition, the blackbird taking the maid's nose has been seen as a demon stealing her soul.

    No corroborative evidence has been found to support these theories and given that the earliest version has only one stanza and mentions "naughty boys" and not blackbirds, they can only be applicable if it is assumed that more recently printed versions accurately preserve an older tradition.

    (Entremet or subtlety, an elaborate form of dish common in Europe, particularly England and France, during the late Middle Ages.)

    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':


    A Game of Thrones - Eddard IV

    "It is more than that," Catelyn insisted. "Ser Rodrik spoke to Ser Aron Santagar in all secrecy, yet somehow the Spider knew of their conversation. I fear that man."

    Littlefinger smiled. "Leave Lord Varys to me, sweet lady. If you will permit me a small obscenity—and where better for it than here—I hold the man's balls in the palm of my hand." He cupped his fingers, smiling. "Or would, if he were a man, or had any balls. You see, if the pie is opened, the birds begin to sing, and Varys would not like that. Were I you, I would worry more about the Lannisters and less about the eunuch."

    Ironically, the person Catelyn should have most worried about was not Varys nor any of the Lannisters, but the Mockingbird himself! 


    2 hours ago, Isobel Harper said:

    Or is Tyrion a Daemon parallel?

    Well, he is the twisted demon monkey..!

    2 hours ago, Isobel Harper said:

    In NA mythology, Nissa is the Grandmother Moon.  In the series, there's a myth of dragons spawning from a second moon destroyed (read: sacrificed) by the sun.  Similarly, the forging Lightbringer in Nissa Nissa's heart is an allegory for conception/birth of a son/savior figure.  Catelyn's mother, Minisa Whent, dies in childbed while giving birth to a (stillborn) son.  Minisa resembles "my Nissa." 

    Nice.  This is the passage:


    "He told me the moon was an egg, Khaleesi," the Lysene girl said. "Once there were two moons in the sky, but one wandered too close to the sun and cracked from the heat. A thousand thousand dragons poured forth, and drank the fire of the sun. That is why dragons breathe flame. One day the other moon will kiss the sun too, and then it will crack and the dragons will return."

    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.'

    2 hours ago, Isobel Harper said:

    Arya and Sansa hide under the identity Cat and Alayne.  Catelyn is pronounced "cat eh lynn," which sounds like Cat Alayne.  Arya and Sansa are symbolically their mother in new form, like their father's sword Ice is in a new form as Widow's Wail and Oathkeeper.

    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:


    A Storm of Swords - Tyrion IV

    Tyrion wondered where the metal for this one had come from. A few master armorers could rework old Valyrian steel, but the secrets of its making had been lost when the Doom came to old Valyria. "The colors are strange," he commented as he turned the blade in the sunlight. Most Valyrian steel was a grey so dark it looked almost black, as was true here as well. But blended into the folds was a red as deep as the grey. The two colors lapped over one another without ever touching, each ripple distinct, like waves of night and blood upon some steely shore. "How did you get this patterning? I've never seen anything like it."

    "Nor I, my lord," said the armorer. "I confess, these colors were not what I intended, and I do not know that I could duplicate them. Your lord father had asked for the crimson of your House, and it was that color I set out to infuse into the metal. But Valyrian steel is stubborn. These old swords remember, it is said, and they do not change easily. I worked half a hundred spells and brightened the red time and time again, but always the color would darken, as if the blade was drinking the sun from it. 

    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:


    A Dance with Dragons - Tyrion VIII

    Finally he gave it up and made his way up top for a breath of night air. The Selaesori Qhoran had furled her big striped sail for the night, and her decks were all but deserted. One of the mates was on the sterncastle, and amidships Moqorro sat by his brazier, where a few small flames still danced amongst the embers.

    Only the brightest stars were visible, all to the west. A dull red glow lit the sky to the northeast, the color of a blood bruise. Tyrion had never seen a bigger moon. Monstrous, swollen, it looked as if it had swallowed the sun and woken with a fever. Its twin, floating on the sea beyond the ship, shimmered red with every wave. "What hour is this?" he asked Moqorro. "That cannot be sunrise unless the east has moved. Why is the sky red?"

    "The sky is always red above Valyria, Hugor Hill."

    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'...

    2 hours ago, Isobel Harper said:

    Stark also means "strong" in German.  I wonder if there's supposed to be a connection in some way between House Stark and House Strong?  House Strong once held Harrenhal.  It's thought that Sansa might inherit Harrenhal.  (Reference imagery of bats with Sansa here.  Some think she inherits via LF, then takes over; I think Robb made Sansa Shella Whent's heir, leaving her with her own castle and disinheriting her in the same stroke.) 

    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!

    2 hours ago, Isobel Harper said:

    Arya threw a blood orange, not a pomegranate, at Sansa.

    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:


    A Storm of Swords - Sansa VI

    The new name would take some getting used to. "Games? I . . . I suppose it would depend . . ."

    Grisel reappeared before he could say more, balancing a large platter. She set it down between them. There were apples and pears and pomegranates, some sad-looking grapes, a huge blood orange. The old woman had brought a round of bread as well, and a crock of butter. Petyr cut a pomegranate in two with his dagger, offering half to Sansa. "You should try and eat, my lady."

    "Thank you, my lord." Pomegranate seeds were so messy; Sansa chose a pear instead, and took a small delicate bite. It was very ripe. The juice ran down her chin.


    2 hours ago, Isobel Harper said:

    Tyrion's nose itches when something suspicious occurs.  The itching is almost like a sort of "spidey sense."  He knows something's wrong with his nose. 

    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!

  21. On ‎4‎/‎10‎/‎2016 at 8:03 PM, Seams said:

    This is all so good! Thank you for these new ideas and I'm glad you're enjoying this thread.

    I had another thought on words / swords after re-reading the pie-cutting scene at the purple wedding on another recent thread: Ser Ilyn's sword is etched with runes. So he is mute, but his sword speaks a language that most people don't know how to read. (It also made me think that I should probably explore runes / ruins in a future post here.)

    It also occurred to me that GRRM doesn't say that the great houses of Westeros have mottoes; he says they have words. Some of them have hereditary swords, but many more seem to have words. And this might help to explain why he has not yet revealed the words of House Dayne. We haven't yet seen their sword or their words.

    Does Gendry tell Arya about the Thoros of Myr sword, and how he keeps ruining low-quality swords with his fire trick? I wonder what that means for the swords / words symbolism? Thoros is surprised to learn that he can bring people back to "life" by saying certain words - he didn't know he had that power.

    Another half-formed thought about words: One of my earliest big leaps in deciphering GRRM metaphors was to link the burning of the Winterfell library with the burning of the House of the Undying. The description of the House of the Undying sounded a lot like a description of books to me - dusty things that preserve memories. I wonder what these burning words foreshadow in Bran and/or Dany's arcs?

    And just one more: What does it mean that Sam has to sell the special books that were supposed to be delivered to the Citadel? Will it be good or bad that these "weapons" don't make it into the hands for which they were intended?

    I love whet / wet! (Hmm. That sounds kinky but you know what I mean.) I also recently re-read the scene where Catelyn, Robb and the northern lords arrive at Riverrun after the battle of the Whispering Wood. I believe that Theon represents the sword Ice, as I may have mentioned here already eleventy-six times. I was wondering why GRRM mentioned that Theon's feet got wet when he was helping Catelyn to get out of the boat! The whet / wet pun explains it: Theon needed sharpening after being in battle! I'll look for more examples of this kind.

    Excellent example of Sam using the words about being a sword to help Bran and his group get through the Wall. Truly excellent! Sam really is Jon's alter ego - I think that's why Ghost likes him right away. So Jon is good with a sword and Sam is good with books. Two different kinds of weapons. Blood Raven and Maester Aemon probably also had this partnership.


    Thanks for sharing all these good ideas!

    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:


     rune; plural noun: runes

    a letter of an ancient Germanic alphabet, related to the Roman alphabet.

    a mark or letter of mysterious or magic significance.

    small stones, pieces of bone, etc., bearing runes, and used as divinatory symbols.

    "the casting of the runes"

    a spell or incantation.

    a section of the Kalevala or of an ancient Scandinavian poem.


    Old English rūn ‘a secret, mystery’; not recorded between Middle English and the late 17th century when it was reintroduced under the influence of Old Norse rúnir, rúnar ‘magic signs, hidden lore.’

    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):


    ADWD -- Jon I

    I have dreamed of your Wall, Jon Snow. Great was the lore that raised it, and great the spells locked beneath its ice. We walk beneath one of the hinges of the world. " Melisandre gazed up at it, her breath a warm moist cloud in the air. "This is my place as it is yours, and soon enough you may have grave need of me.

    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 ).


    Lord Eddard Stark dismounted and his ward Theon Greyjoy brought forth the sword. "Ice," that sword was called. It was as wide across as a man's hand, and taller even than Robb. The blade was Valyrian steel, spell-forged and dark as smoke. Nothing held an edge like Valyrian steel.

    His father peeled off his gloves and handed them to Jory Cassel, the captain of his household guard. He took hold of Ice with both hands and said, "In the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of his Name, King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, by the word of Eddard of the House Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, I do sentence you to die." He lifted the greatsword high above his head.

    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).


    The Rhoynar lived in city-states along the vast network of the river Rhoyne. They taught the Andals how to work iron, although the Seven-Pointed Star of the Faith of the Seven teaches that the Andals received this gift from the Smith. They used water magic to defend themselves from enemies


    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:


    GOT -- Sansa II

    Sansa remembered Lord Yohn Royce, who had guested at Winterfell two years before. "His armor is bronze, thousands and thousands of years old, engraved with magic runes that ward him against harm," she whispered to Jeyne.



    Bronze Yohn's heir, Ser Andar Royce, and his younger brother Ser Robar, their silvered steel plate filigreed in bronze with the same ancient runes that warded their father.



    COK -- Catelyn I

    The ancient crown of the Kings of Winter had been lost three centuries ago, yielded up to Aegon the Conqueror when Torrhen Stark knelt in submission. What Aegon had done with it no man could say. Lord Hoster's smith had done his work well, and Robb's crown looked much as the other was said to have looked in the tales told of the Stark kings of old; an open circlet of hammered bronze incised with the runes of the First Men, surmounted by nine black iron spikes wrought in the shape of longswords. Of gold and silver and gemstones, it had none; bronze and iron were the metals of winter, dark and strong to fight against the cold.

    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:


    A Clash of Kings - Bran IV

    "I wish you were our wards instead of the Walders."


    A Clash of Kings - Bran III

    As the newcomers walked the length of the hall, Bran saw that one was indeed a girl, though he would never have known it by her dress. She wore lambskin breeches soft with long use, and a sleeveless jerkin armored in bronze scales. Though near Robb's age, she was slim as a boy, with long brown hair knotted behind her head and only the barest suggestion of breasts. A woven net hung from one slim hip, a long bronze knife from the other; under her arm she carried an old iron greathelm spotted with rust; a frog spear and round leathern shield were strapped to her back.

    Her brother was several years younger and bore no weapons. All his garb was green, even to the leather of his boots, and when he came closer Bran saw that his eyes were the color of moss, though his teeth looked as white as anyone else's. Both Reeds were slight of build, slender as swords and scarcely taller than Bran himself. They went to one knee before the dais.

    "My lords of Stark," the girl said. "The years have passed in their hundreds and their thousands since my folk first swore their fealty to the King in the North. My lord father has sent us here to say the words again, for all our people."


    "To Winterfell we pledge the faith of Greywater," they said together. "Hearth and heart and harvest we yield up to you, my lord. Our swords and spears and arrows are yours to command. Grant mercy to our weak, help to our helpless, and justice to all, and we shall never fail you."

    "I swear it by earth and water," said the boy in green.

    "I swear it by bronze and iron," his sister said.

    "We swear it by ice and fire," they finished together.

    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.


    A Storm of Swords - Bran II

    "No one visits the Isle of Faces," objected Bran. "That's where the green men live."

    "It was the green men he meant to find. So he donned a shirt sewn with bronze scales, like mine, took up a leathern shield and a three-pronged spear, like mine, and paddled a little skin boat down the Green Fork."

    Bran closed his eyes to try and see the man in his little skin boat. In his head, the crannogman looked like Jojen, only older and stronger and dressed like Meera.

    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:


    A Storm of Swords - Daenerys I

    They are my children, she told herself, and if the maegi spoke truly, they are the only children I am ever like to have.

    Viserion's scales were the color of fresh cream, his horns, wing bones, and spinal crest a dark gold that flashed bright as metal in the sun. Rhaegal was made of the green of summer and the bronze of fall. They soared above the ships in wide circles, higher and higher, each trying to climb above the other.

    Dragons always preferred to attack from above, Dany had learned. Should either get between the other and the sun, he would fold his wings and dive screaming, and they would tumble from the sky locked together in a tangled scaly ball, jaws snapping and tails lashing. The first time they had done it, she feared that they meant to kill each other, but it was only sport. No sooner would they splash into the sea than they would break apart and rise again, shrieking and hissing, the salt water steaming off them as their wings clawed at the air. Drogon was aloft as well, though not in sight; he would be miles ahead, or miles behind, hunting.

    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.



    ACOK -- Jon VIII

    Qhorin snorted. "I see no lord. Only a dog dressed in chickenbones, who rattles when he rides."

    The wildling hissed in anger, and his mount reared. He did rattle, Jon could hear it; the bones were strung together loosely, so they clacked and clattered when he moved. "It's your bones I'll be rattling soon, Halfhand. I'll boil the flesh off you and make a byrnie from your ribs. I'll carve your teeth to cast me runes, and eat me oaten porridge from your skull."

    "If you want my bones, come get them."

    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:


    A Game of Thrones - Eddard XIII

    He was walking through the crypts beneath Winterfell, as he had walked a thousand times before. The Kings of Winter watched him pass with eyes of ice, and the direwolves at their feet turned their great stone heads and snarled.



    A Storm of Swords -- Catelyn V

    They reached Oldstones after eight more days of steady rain, and made their camp upon the hill overlooking the Blue Fork, within a ruined stronghold of the ancient river kings. Its foundations remained amongst the weeds to show where the walls and keeps had stood, but the local smallfolk had long ago made off with most of the stones to raise their barns and septs and holdfasts. Yet in the center of what once would have been the castle's yard, a great carved sepulcher still rested, half hidden in waist-high brown grass amongst a stand of ash.


    The lid of the sepulcher had been carved into a likeness of the man whose bones lay beneath, but the rain and the wind had done their work. The king had worn a beard, they could see, but otherwise his face was smooth and featureless, with only vague suggestions of a mouth, a nose, eyes, and the crown about the temples. His hands folded over the shaft of a stone warhammer that lay upon his chest. Once the warhammer would have been carved with runes that told its name and history, but all that the centuries had worn away. The stone itself was cracked and crumbling at the corners, discolored here and there by spreading white splotches of lichen, while wild roses crept up over the king's feet almost to his chest.

    It was there that Catelyn found Robb, standing somber in the gathering dusk with only Grey Wind beside him. The rain had stopped for once, and he was bareheaded. "Does this castle have a name?" he asked quietly, when she came up to him.

    "Oldstones, all the smallfolk called it when I was a girl, but no doubt it had some other name when it was still a hall of kings." She had camped here once with her father, on their way to Seagard. Petyr was with us too . . .

    "There's a song," he remembered. " 'Jenny of Oldstones, with the flowers in her hair.' "

    "We're all just songs in the end. If we are lucky." She had played at being Jenny that day, had even wound flowers in her hair. And Petyr had pretended to be her Prince of Dragonflies. Catelyn could not have been more than twelve, Petyr just a boy.

    Robb studied the sepulcher. "Whose grave is this?"

    "Here lies Tristifer, the Fourth of His Name, King of the Rivers and the Hills." Her father had told her his story once. "He ruled from the Trident to the Neck, thousands of years before Jenny and her prince, in the days when the kingdoms of the First Men were falling one after the other before the onslaught of the Andals. The Hammer of justice, they called him. He fought a hundred battles and won nine-and-ninety, or so the singers say, and when he raised this castle it was the strongest in Westeros." She put a hand on her son's shoulder. "He died in his hundredth battle, when seven Andal kings joined forces against him. The fifth Tristifer was not his equal, and soon the kingdom was lost, and then the castle, and last of all the line. With Tristifer the Fifth died House Mudd, that had ruled the riverlands for a thousand years before the Andals came."

    "His heir failed him." Robb ran a hand over the rough weathered stone. "I had hoped to leave Jeyne with child . . . we tried often enough, but I'm not certain . . . "

    "It does not always happen the first time." Though it did with you. "Nor even the hundredth. You are very young."

    "Young, and a king," he said. "A king must have an heir. If I should die in my next battle, the kingdom must not die with me. By law Sansa is next in line of succession, so Winterfell and the north would pass to her." His mouth tightened. "To her, and her lord husband. Tyrion Lannister. I cannot allow that. I will not allow that. That dwarf must never have the north."

    "No," Catelyn agreed. "You must name another heir, until such time as Jeyne gives you a son." She considered a moment. "Your father's father had no siblings, but his father had a sister who married a younger son of Lord Raymar Royce, of the junior branch. They had three daughters, all of whom wed Vale lordlings. A Waynwood and a Corbray, for certain. The youngest . . . it

    might have been a Templeton, but . . . "

    "Mother." There was a sharpness in Robb's tone. "You forget. My father had four sons."

    She had not forgotten; she had not wanted to look at it, yet there it was. "A Snow is not a Stark."

    "Jon's more a Stark than some lordlings from the Vale who have never so much as set eyes on Winterfell."

    "Jon is a brother of the Night's Watch, sworn to take no wife and hold no lands. Those who take the black serve for life."

    "So do the knights of the Kingsguard. That did not stop the Lannisters from stripping the white cloaks from Ser Barristan Selmy and Ser Boros Blount when they had no more use for them. If I send the Watch a hundred men in Jon's place, I'll wager they find some way to release him from his vows."

    He is set on this. Catelyn knew how stubborn her son could be. "A bastard cannot inherit."

    "Not unless he's legitimized by a royal decree," said Robb. "There is more precedent for that than for releasing a Sworn Brother from his oath."

    "Precedent," she said bitterly. "Yes, Aegon the Fourth legitimized all his bastards on his deathbed. And how much pain, grief, war, and murder grew from that? I know you trust Jon. But can you trust his sons? Or their sons? The Blackfyre pretenders troubled the Targaryens for five generations, until Barristan the Bold slew the last of them on the Stepstones. If you make Jon legitimate, there is no way to turn him bastard again. Should he wed and breed, any sons you may have by Jeyne will never be safe."

    "Jon would never harm a son of mine."

    "No more than Theon Greyjoy would harm Bran or Rickon?"

    Grey Wind leapt up atop King Tristifer's crypt, his teeth bared. Robb's own face was cold. "That is as cruel as it is unfair. Jon is no Theon."

    "So you pray. Have you considered your sisters? What of their rights? I agree that the north must not be permitted to pass to the Imp, but what of Arya? By law, she comes after Sansa . . . your own sister, trueborn . . . "

    " . . . and dead. No one has seen or heard of Arya since they cut Father's head off. Why do you lie to yourself? Arya's gone, the same as Bran and Rickon, and they'll kill Sansa too once the dwarf gets a child from her. Jon is the only brother that remains to me. Should I die without issue, I want him to succeed me as King in the North. I had hoped you would support my choice."

    "I cannot," she said. "In all else, Robb. In everything. But not in this . . . this folly. Do not ask it."

    "I don't have to. I'm the king." Robb turned and walked off, Grey Wind bounding down from the tomb and loping after him.

    What have I done? Catelyn thought wearily, as she stood alone by Tristifer's stone sepulcher. First I anger Edmure, and now Robb, but all I have done is speak the truth. Are men so fragile they cannot bear to hear it? She might have wept then, had not the sky begun to do it for her. It was all she could do to walk back to her tent, and sit there in the silence.

    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:


    Lady Stoneheart lowered her hood and unwound the grey wool scarf from her face. Her hair was dry and brittle, white as bone. Her brow was mottled green and grey, spotted with the brown blooms of decay. The flesh of her face clung in ragged strips from her eyes down to her jaw. Some of the rips were crusted with dried blood, but others gaped open to reveal the skull beneath.



    A Feast for Crows - Samwell I

    "The younger four all being sons, brothers, or bastards of the King in the North. Tell me something useful. Tell me of our enemy."

    "The Others." Sam licked his lips. "They are mentioned in the annals, though not as often as I would have thought. The annals I've found and looked at, that is. There's more I haven't found, I know. Some of the older books are falling to pieces. The pages crumble when I try and turn them. And the really old books . . . either they have crumbled all away or they are buried somewhere that I haven't looked yet or . . . well, it could be that there are no such books, and never were. The oldest histories we have were written after the Andals came to Westeros. The First Men only left us runes on rocks, so everything we think we know about the Age of Heroes and the Dawn Age and the Long Night comes from accounts set down by septons thousands of years later.

    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!



    A Dance with Dragons - Jon XI

    "Har!" Tormund laughed. That had not changed either; he still laughed easily and often. "Wise words. I'd not want you crows to peck me to death." He slapped Jon's back. "When all my folk are safe behind your Wall, we'll share a bit o' meat and mead. Till then …" The wildling pulled off the band from his left arm and tossed it at Jon, then did the same with its twin upon his right. "Your first payment. Had those from my father and him from his. Now they're yours, you thieving black bastard."

    The armbands were old gold, solid and heavy, engraved with the ancient runes of the First Men. Tormund Giantsbane had worn them as long as Jon had known him; they had seemed as much a part of him as his beard. "The Braavosi will melt these down for the gold. That seems a shame. Perhaps you ought to keep them."

    "No. I'll not have it said that Tormund Thunderfist made the free folk give up their treasures whilst he kept his own." He grinned. "But I'll keep the ring I wear about me member. Much bigger than those little things. On you it'd be a torque."

    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:


    Jon turned in his saddle, frowning. And Joramun blew the Horn of Winter and woke giants from the earth. That huge horn with its bands of old gold, incised with ancient runes … had Mance Rayder lied to him, or was Tormund lying now? If Mance's horn was just a feint, where is the true horn?

    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...


    A Feast for Crows - Jaime VI

    "My lord would suit me better, Frey," said Jaime. "And you would do well to omit must from any speech directed at me."

    Ser Ryman came stomping up the gallows steps in company with a straw-haired slattern as drunk as he was. Her gown laced up the front, but someone had undone the laces to the navel, so her breasts were spilling out. They were large and heavy, with big brown nipples. On her head a circlet of hammered bronze sat askew, graven with runes and ringed with small black swords. When she saw Jaime, she laughed. "Who in seven hells is this one?"

    "The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard," Jaime returned with cold courtesy. "I might ask the same of you, my lady."

    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...).


    A Storm of Swords - Tyrion VIII

    From the shadows at the back of the hall, Ser Ilyn Payne appeared. The specter at the feast, thought Tyrion as he watched the King's Justice stride forward, gaunt and grim. He had been too young to have known Ser Ilyn before he'd lost his tongue. He would have been a different man in those days, but now the silence is as much a part of him as those hollow eyes, that rusty chainmail shirt, and the greatsword on his back.

    Ser Ilyn bowed before the king and queen, reached back over his shoulder, and drew forth six feet of ornate silver bright with runes. He knelt to offer the huge blade to Joffrey, hilt first; points of red fire winked from ruby eyes on the pommel, a chunk of dragonglass carved in the shape of a grinning skull.

    Sansa stirred in her seat. "What sword is that?"

    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.



    AGOT -- Sansa II

    His last match of the day was against the younger Royce. Ser Robar's ancestral runes proved small protection as Ser Loras split his shield and drove him from his saddle to crash with an awful clangor in the dirt. Robar lay moaning as the victor made his circuit of the field. Finally they called for a litter and carried him off to his tent, dazed and unmoving. Sansa never saw it. Her eyes were only for Ser Loras. When the white horse stopped in front of her, she thought her heart would burst.


    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'! 

  22. On ‎4‎/‎8‎/‎2016 at 2:28 PM, Seams said:

    I've been thinking about this, and I think you are right! Not long before Joffrey is poisoned at his wedding, he is presented with wedding gifts.

    And this leads me to an expansion of the Wards / Swords wordplay (ha!) that seemed so obvious that I resisted it for some time: Wards / Swords and Words. I suspect each of the wedding gifts presented to Joffrey and Margaery represents a major piece of symbolism or foreshadowing, mostly for events we have not yet seen. (In fact, it would not surprise me if we discover what is going to kill Margaery because of her apparently innocent remark, "Widow’s Wail was not meant for slicing pies.")

    Tywin gives Joffrey a sword; similarly, Tyrion gives Joffrey a book also known as a bunch of words. We know that Tyrion uses books to keep his weapon sharp: "My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer and I have my mind...and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge. That's why I read so much Jon Snow." I believe there is important Azor Ahai symbolism in Joffrey's three swords - one of which (Lion's Tooth) has already been thrown in a river. Am I right that Joffrey destroying Tyrion's gift book with his sword is the only time we've seen him actually using a sword since he menaced the butcher's boy, Mycah? When Jaime loses his arm, he initially spends a lot of time with the White Book of the King's Guard. Symbolically, this seems to reflect Jaime starting to use his mind now that his ability with a sword is impaired. That is, until he begins to practice left-handed sword fighting with the mute Ser Illyn Payne, a man with no words. Samwell Tarly is great with books but not talented with a sword - until he slays a white walker with a dragonglass dagger. I wonder whether the message is simply that swords and words are opposites, or whether the ideal is to be good with both of them? What does it mean that Wex Pyke, the squire of Theon, who was Ned's ward, was born mute? What does it mean that the Manderly group is now teaching him to read?

    Pit / Pit - I recently re-read Jon IX in AGoT, where Jon begins to desert the Night's Watch after learning of Ned's death. Mormont gives him a talking-to over breakfast the next morning, and there is a juxtaposition of Mormont spitting out the pit of a plum mixed in with some allusions to the Mormont bear symbolism - - suddenly I started wondering about bear pit, dragon pit, fighting pit, Daznak's pit. All of the latter types of pits are associated with danger and violence. Folks can let me know if this doesn't ring true. There has been so much discussion of the meaning of various fruits throughout the books, but I'm wondering if the nature of the seeds ("The seed is strong.") and the pits is where each fruit carries a lot of its meaning? It adds a new layer of meaning to Renly's apparently innocent offer to Stannis of a peach - was it a lovely delicacy from Highgarden, or was it a challenge to a duel, suggesting that he and Stannis were about to work things out in a violent pit?

    This chapter also includes Jon Snow eating an apple and squeezing a lemon (for Mormont's beer). Those fruits contain seeds (sometimes called pips, alluding to one of the members of Jon's pack), contrasting with a fruit that grows from a pit. There's the whole flesh and juice angle with fruit, of course, and the breakfast plums GRRM often describes being served with hard-boiled eggs seem to be dried prunes, not fresh plums, if that matters.

    Someday I may try to work out nose / knows / snow. As in Tyrion losing his nose in battle, and "You know nothing Jon Snow." Unless someone else wants to take a stab at it in a reply before I get to it. I'm honestly not sure if it works as wordplay, or if I'm just imagining a connection.



    Hi Seams, this is a really fun thread!

    Regarding the poisonous gifts, there's also the wineseller's 'gift' of the poisoned red wine to Daenerys.  I still wonder what Ilyrio intended by gifting the dragon eggs to Daenerys -- what plan is he hatching..?!

    Regarding wards/swords/words, I think the 'swords-words' one is even stronger than the wards-association.  Naturally, being somewhat of a nerdy writer (I doubt GRRM has great physical prowess with swords or in any physical arena for that matter), GRRM 'pits' (pardon yet another pun!) the sword vs. the word...the old adage, 'the pen is mightier than the sword' comes to mind.  Additionally, GRRM as 'wordsmith' vs swordsmith!  We are told that those who master language can live forever (what greater power than the ability to conquer death, extend life?).  It's interesting in this respect that Bloodraven derives his power from 'a thousand eyes and one,' a significant number in Persian mythology...1001 nights being the number of nights Scheherazade outwitted the king, managing to extend her life by telling a corresponding number of 1001 stories, one each night, always cleverly breaking off at the cliffhanger (sound like anyone..?), so the king would still be hungry for more the next day and refrain from killing her.  The pen is sometimes mightier than the sword!


    "A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one. The singers of the forest had no books. No ink, no parchment, no written language. Instead they had the trees, and the weirwoods above all. When they died, they went into the wood, into leaf and limb and root, and the trees remembered. All their songs and spells, their histories and prayers, everything they knew about this world. Maesters will tell you that the weirwoods are sacred to the old gods. The singers believe they are the old gods. When singers die they become part of that godhood."

    Bran's eyes widened. "They're going to kill me?"

    I do believe that Tyrion, above all others, is the writer's alter-ego (this is Tyrion's main 'plot armor'), so when Tyrion voices that his mind is his weapon, therefore he must keep it sharp 'whet/wet?' it with words...we can be reasonably sure this is the writer's credo 'writ small.'  In the text, indeed the pen is proven mightier than the sword on many occasions. 

    Thus, words are not only opposed to swords (as in diplomacy vs. war), but at the same time words can also be effective weapons, i.e. words as swords.  This is graphically demonstrated when Sam is able to unlock the secret door through the wall by uttering the Night's Watch vow, 'I am the sword...'  It's not the actual sword which unlocks the gate, but the word -- and moreover the fact that Sam is 'true' to his word, i.e. he speaks true.  Words can be sharp as 'quarrels' (I've unpacked this pun on the 'Bran's growing powers' thread, i.e. quarrels as arrows vs. quarrels as disagreements/fallings-out).  When the 'quarrels' are unleashed at the Red Wedding, they are an extension of Walder Frey's 'sharp tongue' and a consequence of Rob breaking faith him, not living by his oath, i.e. breaking his word.  Even Tywin the glib general tells us that sometimes wars are won 'with quills and ravens,' as indeed the Red Wedding was orchestrated.  Apropos ravens, the very real power of the word to upend ones existence is contained in the pithy 'dark wings dark words.'

    Your observation on mute warriors is interesting, but again I don't think words are opposed to fighting as much as they are aligned with power.  For example, Ghost the mute wolf is not only one of Jon's principal weapons (he's also directly compared to a sword when he sleeps between Jon and Ygritte, and his likeness is carved on the hilt of 'Long Claw,' a name which also evokes the direwolf), but also someone who ironically gives him the words he needs (e.g. when Jon wrestles with moral dilemmas, Ghost often appears as if on cue to 'give him a sign' and show him the way, and subsequently give Jon's verbal responses coherence and integrity).  Indeed, when he first meets Ghost it is not by sight that they find each other, but rather by a silent, though clear and penetrating telepathic communication akin to language. 'Can a shout be silent?'

    I love your Jaime observations.  I wrote a bit along those lines when I was speculating that Jaime and/or Cersei might be Targs...of the notorious Targaryean 'coin-flip' of the gods variety!  Playing with the irresistible pun of 'heads and tails,' I therefore concluded that Cersei born headfirst with Jaime tailing behind was the 'head' of their twisted symbiosis and Jaime the 'tail.'  However, following the severance of Jaime's swordhand (which I speculated could have been the very hand -- i.e. the right hand -- grasping Cersei's foot when they were born, seeing as one tends to use ones dominant leading hand for gripping objects of any kind), Jaime was released from his subservient relation to Cersei...

    Thus, the coin flipped, in the second half of their twin trajectory -- what is commonly referred to as Jaime's redemption arc -- with Jaime now going his own way as 'head' and Cersei fast losing her power, now the  'tail' hankering after his attentions.  As you point out, I also noted Jaime's new attention to using his head (he even thinks before acting, considering what his more cerebral sibling Tyrion would think and do in any given situation), and ability to ignore the tail (sexuality, impulsivity, aggression).  Cersei, on the other hand is rejecting any sane counsel and rational thought process, in favor of whoring (crudely put, this is literally using her 'tail') as a means to negotiate her way through power relations. 

    As an additional pun, were the twins to be secret Targs, it's fun that 'a dragon' is both a coin and a fire-made-flesh beast with a literal head and tail (three heads, etc.).  Were the twins to be offspring of Aerys and Joanna Lannister, they would be 'golden dragons' referring to the Lannister and Targaryen elements respectively, and their children likewise 'silver stags' referring to the Targaryen and Baratheon elements respectively.  There's also Littlefinger's talent at rubbing two dragons together to create another....that could also be interpreted as a sexual metaphor of the incest in King's Landing (keeping the bloodline pure is a way for Targaryeans to consolidate their power...to 'keep all the dragons to themselves', as Littlefinger does!)

    Another point on Jaime which occurred to me, just I couldn't find the reference in the books to go with it unfortunately (maybe you can clarify?) is this idea introduced on the GOT show that Jaime was dyslexic as a child.  Is that also the case in the books?  If so, that's a very exciting idea to play around with in terms of Jaime mixing up s/words, as a result of mixing up the left and right of letters on the one hand (pardon the pun!) or his instincts being 'off' swordwise on the other.  As an example, this passage is only one of many where the word and the sword both feature together prominently in Jaime's world:


    Jaime sat by the book in his Kingsguard whites, waiting for his Sworn Brothers. A longsword hung from his hip. From the wrong hip. Before he had always worn his sword on his left, and drawn it across his body when he unsheathed. He had shifted it to his right hip this morning, so as to be able to draw it with his left hand in the same manner, but the weight of it felt strange there, and when he had tried to pull the blade from the scabbard the whole motion seemed clumsy and unnatural.

    Unpacking the 'dyslexic' trope:  As a child therefore -- in the first half of his arc before his swordhand and writing hand, i.e. the Right, was severed -- Jaime though a prodigy with the 'sword' had to struggle with reading and writing, having  to retrain his brain in order to persevere with 'words.'  Then, in the second half of his arc, the pattern reverses.  Now essentially 'Left-handed' and struggling with 'swords' he has to retrain his brain in order to persevere with 'swords'; however, interestingly Jaime has become much more fluent with 'words'!  (consider his deft negotiation skills on display at Riverrun siege).  Despite his 'disability,' Jaime's prognosis is good, considering the passages on Qhorin Halfhand and Ser Arthur Dayne's sword prowess with the left hand.

    BTW, that's another pun, 'left'...meaning both the mirror reflection of right, or 'opposite' hand, as well as 'left' in terms of 'left behind'...the remaining hand/fingers one is left with once the rest has/have been severed.  One also inevitably thinks of Davos here, Stannis's 'right-hand' man, his trusted Hand, despite his truncated hand...!  Interestingly, Davos also learns to read after losing some fingers...

    Regarding 'pit', I agree with your associations, and add my association mentioned above in terms of 'pitting' one against the other...There's also the famous Sherlock Holmes Story on 'The Five Orange Pips' where the pips are sent as a warning to an intended murder victim.  Therefore, pips are a kind of ominous herald, announcing someone's imminent death/downfall.  Quite interesting in the context of Renly, who was killed shortly after offering Stannis a peach.

    In this 'seedy' vein, the other instance which I believe @sweetsunray and others have covered at length is this idea of Persephone having been tricked into eating the six pomegranate pips/seeds, after having been kidnapped by Hades, which condemned her to spending a corresponding six months a year in the Underworld (literally the deepest 'pit' of Hell!), ushering in the Winter. Since GRRM is very concerned with the change of the seasons literally and figuratively, this is an important mythological reference to consider.  Of course, one thinks of that shady underworld character Littlefinger who is presented as the one who has kidnapped the daughter of another (and intends to keep her, not only passing her off as his own daughter, but also with the desire to take her as his wife).  Littlefinger is presented as the tempting 'devil' in this context, inveigling Sansa into the depths of depravity of his world with the promise of a few light refreshments and 'sweet' fruits (lemon pies also spring to mind!):


    There were apples and pears and pomegranates, some sad-looking grapes, a huge blood orange. The old woman had brought a round of bread as well, and a crock of butter. Petyr cut a pomegranate in two with his dagger, offering half to Sansa. "You should try and eat, my lady."

    "Thank you, my lord." Pomegranate seeds were so messy; Sansa chose a pear instead, and took a small delicate bite. It was very ripe. The juice ran down her chin.

    Lord Petyr loosened a seed with the point of his dagger. "You must miss your father terribly, I know. Lord Eddard was a brave man, honest and loyal . . . but quite a hopelessplayer." He brought the seed to his mouth with the knife. "In King's Landing, there are two sorts of people. The players and the pieces."

    "And I was a piece?" She dreaded the answer.

    "Yes, but don't let that trouble you. You're still half a child. Every man's a piece to start with, and every maid as well. Even some who think they are players." He ate another seed.

    The pomegranate (apart from the connotation with 'grenade' a weapon always threatening to explode its treacherous 'seeds' in all directions) is blood red in color, dripping with juice like blood, which typically stains...'so messy'...but Petyr obviously enjoys messing with messy 'fruits,' which he does rather neatly, dismantling it with another weapon -- the point of a dagger.  The dagger brings to mind the dagger, originally Petyr's, that was used by Bran's would-be assassin, the same he later claimed for himself and spun suggestively on the table, taunting Ned before he prompted his downfall and brought him down to the 'pit' of despair in the dungeons of the Red Keep.  Additionally, there seems to be an analogy of the seed/pip and 'piece'...Petyr eats the pomegranate piece by piece, pip by pip, seed by seed, while he educates Sansa about the best way to move around 'the pieces'.  (elsewhere we've also been previously introduced to the notion of 'seeds' as people, 'dragonseeds' 'the seed is strong' etc.). Therefore, with Littlefinger there is an equation drawn between people as pieces to be manipulated, and an even more sinister one, namely people as pieces of fruit on a platter -- or existing merely for himself as the seeds of his own thought -- laid out for his violent consumption (he holds the dagger while Sansa is unarmed in every possible way).  In a nutshell, this is the kernel of seedy not-so-sweetpetyr's philosophy!

  23. 9 minutes ago, Seams said:

    the German word for iron is "Eisen".

    If we're going Deutsch, then there's 'Gift' which means 'poison' in German -- and would have obvious relevance in terms of GRRM's cynical conception of giving 'The Gift'...

    Remember 'all Euron's gifts are poisoned'...and Arya is not far behind!

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