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ravenous reader

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  1. 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! 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: 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!): 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!
  2. 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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