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"The Winged Wolf" A Bran Stark Re-read Project - Part 1: AGOT

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That makes sense. It may not be necessarily need to be "kings blood", but anyone's. Particularly since there have been so many "kings" in the past most anyone could have at the minimum some DNA that belonged to an ancient royal line.

Yea I thinkany blood can apply for weirwoods from TWOIAF

And so they did , gathering in their hundreds (some say on the Isle of Faces), and calling on their old gods with song and prayer and grisly sacrifice (a thousand captive men were fed to the weirwood, one version of the tale goes, whilst another claims the children used the blood of their own young). And the old gods stirred, and giants awoke in the earth, and all of Westeros shook and trembled.

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A Game of Thrones

Bran II

“And anyhow, I never fall.”

Summary

Several of Winterfell’s men and King Robert Baratheon’s party have gone out to hunt before the combined families set out for the south and King’s Landing. Bran Stark has been left behind at Winterfell. Bran is excited to be off on an adventure but also feels sad about leaving his home since birth. When he tries to say goodbye to those he’s known his whole life, Bran becomes melancholy and instead decides to have one final climb around Winterfell. We get several stories of Bran’s climbing escapades around the castle with the understanding that Bran never falls. Despite warnings from his parents and Maester Luwin’s demonstration about what could happen if Bran slipped, Bran is an expert climber and enjoys exploring parts of Winterfell inaccessible to anyone other than himself and the birds. During his final climb, Bran hears two voices—a man and a woman—arguing from a tower. They are discussing King Robert and his brothers, Jon and Lysa Arryn, and Ned Stark. Curious, Bran looks into the window to see Queen Cersei Lannister and her twin brother Jaime of the Kingsguard ending their argument with sex. Cersei notices Bran spying on them and alerts Jaime. The Queen demands to know what her brother intends to do with Bran to which Jaime Lannister gives one of his most famous lines, “the things I do for love,” before pushing Bran Stark out of the window to the ground below.

Observations

1. King Robert has a taste for wild boar for the final feast at Winterfell. Boars, in ASOIAF, signal a change in regime or kingship. King Robert will have a taste for boar one more time in A Game of Thrones that will also end in a tragic accident.

2. Before his final climb, Bran spends time in the godswood with his still unnamed direwolf. While, by the end of A Dance With Dragons, readers will heavily associate Bran with the Old Gods and weirwood trees, here in A Game of Thrones, we learn that Bran is actually scared of the heart tree: “trees ought not have eyes, Bran thought, or leaves that looked like heads.”

3. Both Bran and Jon Snow are left behind at Winterfell. Like Bran, Jon prefers to be alone with his thoughts, but whereas Bran is sad, Jon is angry.

4. One of things Bran likes best about climbing all over Winterfell is the “deep sweet ache it left in the muscles afterward.” Given how this chapter ends, I find this sentiment to be incredibly sad.

5. Bran is thrown from a lightening struck tower. The lightening struck tower is also a tarot card, which has the meaning of: “ambitions built on false premises. The lightning bolt breaks down existing forms in order to make room for new ones. It represents a sudden, momentary glimpse of truth, a flash of inspiration that breaks down structures of ignorance and false reasoning.”

Analysis

Bran The Knight

Bran is a boy who dreams. Over the course of the novels and his character arc, the idea of Bran as the dreamer will take on different meanings, but for right now, like his sister Sansa, Bran has romantic and somewhat southron dreams. In this case, Bran dreams of being a knight.

Bran was going to be a knight himself someday, one of the Kingsguard. Old Nan said they were the finest swords in the all the realm. There were only seven of them, and they wore white armor and had no wives or children, but lived only to serve the king. Bran knew all the stories. Their names were like music to him.

Knights are less common in the North than they are in the South. This is due to the North still holding to the traditions of the First Men rather than that of the Andals who crossed the Narrow Sea and brought with them the Faith of the Seven. In one SSM, George R.R. Martin notes that: “north of the Neck where the old gods still reign…knights are rare.” This is not to say that there are no knights in the North, of course. Winterfell’s Master-at-Arms is Ser Rodrik Cassel, of a minor Northern Household, and living in exile across the Narrow Sea is Ser Jorah Mormont, formerly of Bear Island, another house sworn to Winterfell.

However, the knights Bran dreams of are not the knights of a household like Ser Rodrik. Instead Bran dreams of the knights of legend, the ones whose deeds and actions have gone down in song; these are the knights Bran wants to emulate. When you read the list of knights Bran admires, you see a trend: heroic deeds on a mythic scale.

  • Serwyn of the Mirror Shield: A supposed member of the KG who slew a dragon.
  • Prince Aemon the Dragonknight: Lord Commander of the KG who helped conquer Dorne. Probably most famous for dressing as a mystery knight and winning the laurel, presenting it to his sister Naerys, with whom he was deeply in love, if you believe the stories.
  • The twins Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk: Died together on each other’s swords during the Dance of the Dragons.
  • The more recent KG including Ser Georld Hightower, the White Bull, and Ser Arthur Dayne, the legendary Sword of the Morning and probably best swordsman in Westeros in living memory.
  • Ser Barristan the Bold, the current Lord Commander who earned his moniker at the age of ten and whom “Father had promised that they would meet Ser Barristan when they reached King’s Landing and Bran had been marking the days on his wall, eager to depart, to see a world he had only dreamed of and begin a life he could scarcely imagine.”

For Bran, knighthood is wrapped up in the spirit of adventure, of great deeds and heroic quests. Bran’s ideas of knighthood are actually what you might expect from other “medieval” fantasy literature, but GRRM likes to take the idea of the knight in shinning armor and dirty them up: Jaime Lannister may wear a white cloak, but he is sleeping with his King’s wife (and his own sister) and pushes a young boy from a window; Joffery’s KG will beat Sansa Stark when ordered; Ser Gregor Clegane, The Mountain that Rides, spends his days raping, burning, and killing. But for Bran, knighthood is akin to what you would find in chivalric romantic literature, with all the well-worn hallmarks of dragons, maids, and noble battles. None of the dangers associated with knighthood—like death—scare Bran. In fact, nothing really scares Bran. He’s eager to begin his own adventure:

He was going to ride the kingsroad on a horse of his own, not a pony but a real horse. His father would be the Hand of the King, and they were going to live in the red castle at King’s Landing, the castle the Dragonlords had built. Old Nan said there were ghosts there, and dungeons where terrible things had been done, and dragon heads on the wall. It gave Bran a shiver just to think of it, but he was not afraid.

Given how this chapter ends and Bran’s physical condition for the rest of the series, these few pages about Bran’s dreams of being a knight someday are quite tragic upon re-reading. It’s worth remembering that Bran is only seven years old. At this age, his dreams are likely similar to the dreams of other little Westerosi boys—to squire for a knight of great renown and then to someday be knighted yourself before going on to perform acts of heroism. What Bran doesn’t realize is that he will go on his own legendary adventure, but it will be a colder, harder, less idealized song. Dreams do not often match reality; it’s a lesson Bran learns the hard way.

One final note about Bran and his dreams of knighthood, but I think his still unnamed direwolf knows that Bran will never be a knight. When Bran becomes sad at the idea of saying goodbye to Winterfell, he takes to the godswood and tries to play with his pup by throwing a stick and having the wolf fetch it. However, despite the fact that his wolf “was smarter than any of the hounds in his father’s kennel…” the beast “showed very little interest in chasing sticks.” We often see in ASOIAF that young boys learning how to fight for the first time do so either with sticks (Ben and Lyanna) or wooden play swords. I think Bran’s direwolf has some understanding that “playing with sticks” isn’t for Bran either.

Bran The Bird

There are quite a few passages in this chapter that link Bran Stark and birds, specifically to crows. This has obvious symbolic importance later in the story and to Bran. I’ll go through them and then I want to briefly touch on crow mythology and symbology.

When he [bran] got out from under it and scrambled up near the sky, Bran could see all of Winterfell in a glance. He liked the way it looked, spread out beneath him, only birds wheeling over his head while all the life of the castle went on below. Bran could perch for hours among the shapeless, rain-worn gargoyles that brooded over the First Keep….

Notice here that Bran, once he has ascended to the top of Winterfell, is alone, except for the birds. He joined their ranks in being able to see the castle and the men who live in it from this, shall we say, bird’s eye view. Second, the verb GRRM chose to describe how Bran sits on the stones of Winterfell is telling: he does not recline, sit, arrest, or relax. He perches. The word perch has a few meanings but given that GRRM has just linked Bran to the birds that fly overhead, I believe that in this case the association of a horizontal pole that a bird would alight upon is deliberate.

Old Nan told him a story about a bad little boy who climbed too high and was struck down by lightning, and how afterward the crows came to peck out his eyes. Bran was not impressed. There were crows’ nests atop the broken tower, where no one ever went but him, and sometimes he filled his pockets with corn before he climbed up there and the crows ate it right out of his hand. None of them had ever shown the slightest bit of interest in pecking out his eyes.

There is a surprising amount in such a tiny paragraph. I want to start with the story Old Nan has told Bran at some point in this life. The story of a boy who is struck down because he climbed too high has obvious parallels to the Greek myth of Icarus. The story goes that Icarus and his father were trying to escape Crete by fashioning wings with feathers held together by wax and flying away. Icarus was warned not to fly too close to the sun but, in his hubris, did not listen and the heat of the sun melted the wax and his wings fell apart, resulting in Icarus drowning in the sea. Notice that the story of Icarus is linked to flying and birds and that the story old Nan tells is a warning to Bran, essentially, not to be “like Icarus.” It is also very careful foreshadowing of what will happen to Bran in this same chapter once he climbs the lightning struck tower. As for the crow pecking out his eyes, we’ll have to wait for the next chapter.

Apart from that, Bran is already familiar with crows. Not only does he ascend to Winterfell’s highest points to be one of them, but also he actively engages with them by feeding them. And so far, none of the crows seem to want to peck out his eyes. It’s possible that the birds of Winterfell have become more domesticated, but I also think that once again GRRM is showing the close relationship Bran has to birds.

He [bran] liked the birds; the crows in the broken tower, the tiny little sparrow that nested in cracks between the stones, the ancient owl that slept in the dusky loft above the old armory. Bran knew them all.

Once again, more birds. There are more than crows here, but even the non-crows know Bran and he knows them.

In regards to Bran’s favorite place to climb, the lightening struck tower, Bran notes that, “…no one ever got up to the jagged top of the structure now except for Bran and the crows.”

And, finally, of course, after Jaime pushes Bran from the lightening struck tower of Nan’s story, “crows circled the broken tower, waiting for corn.” I think, here, GRRM wants us to read broken tower as a metaphor for Bran, who is now literally broken. The crows are waiting for corn, which Bran has provided in the past.

Crows are the most prevalent bird imagery in this chapter and they occupy a significant place in Bran’s story overall. There is a quite a bit of crow mythology and often they are associated with gods or goddesses. For example:

  • In Celtic mythology, the Morrghan often takes the appearance of a crow. She is considered the goddess of battle and strife.
  • Augury is the practice of diving the future from birds, and was seen quite a lot in Greek mythology. It is often associated with Apollo, as a god of prophecy, and was symbolized by the crow.
  • Some Native American tribes see the crow as a trickster, while others see the crow as the Supreme Being whose wings create wind, thunder and lightening.
  • According to one source I read, in the Indian Mahâbhârata, the messengers of death are likened to crows.
  • Most famously, and probably most significantly given where Bran ends up and with whom, according to Norse mythology the god Odin had two ravens (different than crows but very similar; they often get mixed up or combined into one) Huginn and Muinnin, whose names translate to “thought” and “memory.” They work as spies for Odin, bringing him information. Without jumping ahead, keep in mind that Odin is a one-eyed god who once attached himself to a tree.

As a symbol, the crow can have a bit of a bad rap, given that it often appears after war or battle to feast on the flesh of the dead. Of course, symbols are usually not strictly one thing or the other, so despite the “death” connotations, crows can also have more positive associations like clairvoyance, wisdom, and most telling for our young Bran, a spiritual guide. The fact that Bran is surrounded by crows is important in that he will become a symbol himself for many of these ideas—death, prophecy, wisdom, and perhaps eventually as a spiritual guide.

Bran The Climber

The rooftops of Winterfell were Bran’s second home. His mother often said that Bran could climb before he could walk. Bran could not remember when he first learned to walk, but he could not remember when he started to climb either, so he supposed it must be true.

Bran is an expert climber. We are supposed to remember this all throughout this chapter. Cat, Ned, Old Nan, and Maester Luwin have all tried to dissuade him from climbing the castle to no avail. Even when he is ordered to remain grounded, Bran finds it hard to comply and is miserable without his climbs.

There are several things Bran enjoys about climbing that are hard to come by with other diversions:

  • Climbing teaches Bran Winterfell’s secrets. There are things he is convinced he knows that Maester Luwin does not.
  • Invisibility. No one can see him when he’s that high up.
  • Bran likes the stones and how they feel. More on this below.
  • Bran likes the way the air tastes, “sweet and cold as a winter peach.” According to the popular ASOIAF Food Code, peaches symbolize innocence, savoring the moment, naivete and comfort be it be between two brothers before going to war against one another or the first real food you’ve had while traveling in a barren wasteland. Bran’s is most at home when climbing the walls of Winterfell.
  • Most of all, he liked going places that no one else could go, and seeing the grey sprawl of Winterfell in a way that no one else ever saw it. It made the whole castle Bran’s secret place.”

In ASOIAF, “stone” is often seen as a symbol for secrets and hiding. Things or people can hide beneath stone; for example, Arya hides her sword, Needle, beneath the stone and Sansa is hiding in the Eyrie as Alaynne Stone. There are secrets wrapped up in stone as a symbol and that’s what Bran likes best. Winterfell holds a lot of secrets, from the old kings of winter who are entombed in stone to the stone lightening struck tower where Bran learns a few too many secrets to his dismay and tragedy. I want to point out that stone and ice have a lot in common; they are both seen as intractable. If fire is about change, then stone and ice are about preservation of the old way.

There are a veritable litany of symbols associated with stone such as stability, memory, strength, immovability and that which is foundational. Going back to Winterfell, this is demonstrated by Maester Luwin’s off screen explanation of the castle itself: “The place had grown over the centuries like some monstrous stone tree, Maester Luwin told him once, and its branches were gnarled and thick and twisted, its roots sunk deep into the earth.” Winterfell is thus described as being rooted in place. I don’t want to jump ahead an extraordinary amount, but this description of Winterfell should set off some bells in your head in regards to where Bran ends up at the end of our re-read.

I want to talk about one specific stone structure that Bran comes in contact with in this chapter: the gargoyle.

  • Bran perches amongst the rain-worn gargoyles that brood over the First Keep
  • To get the lightening struck tower, Bran uses the gargoyles as leverage and from which to swing.
  • In order to look inside the window into the room where Cersei and Jaime are talking and having sex, Bran “sat astride the gargoyle, tightened his legs around it, and swung himself around, upside down. He hung by his legs and slowly stretched his head down toward the window. The world looked strange upside down.”

Before I discuss gargoyle symbology, notice that, in this last example, Bran’s world is now upside down. Everything that was once normal and sane is gone as the last little bit of Bran’s innocence is tossed aside. It’s interesting that Bran doesn’t fully realize that he’s witnessing sexual intercourse and that he thinks Jaime is hurting Cersei. In his first POV, Bran witnessed death, now he’s witnessing sex. You can argue that both go hand in hand with the loss of innocence which brings us back to the Gargoyle.

I read this really interesting article that I want to briefly discuss in regards to Bran and the Gargoyles. Gargoyles were a reminder that sin exists, specifically original sin which, following the story given in Genesis, concerns lying, illumination about the nature of good and evil, sexuality and nakedness. These four themes are all present in the room—the secret Paradise that used to belong to Bran (and the crows) alone—Cersei and Jaime are naked, lying about their true relationship, and Bran, an innocent up until now, learns that people do bad things. Gargoyles are reminders of constant vigilance and I think GRRM is having some fun here because what Bran should do is turn around and go back to find his family and tell them what he has overheard. This is something Bran recognizes but decides to push on ahead for knowledge: “Bran was suddenly very frightened. He wanted nothing so much as to go back the way he had come, to find his brothers. Only what would he tell them? He had to get closer, Bran realized. He had to see who was talking.”

I did find one more particularly interesting gargoyle idea. Christianity and paganism iconography mixed freely in the gargoyle and as such you get images like the “Green Man”:

The motives chosen to be depicted as gargoyles (and grotesques) were manifold and had several origins. Some of them were biblical themes, some of them had a pagan origin, some came from Greek, Egyptian and oriental mythology. A theme of pagan origin often to be found in and around churches is the Green Man (the name "Green Man" was coined in 1929 by Lady Raglan). Depicted is a man's head being surrounded by foliage, sometimes even with foliage sprouting from its mouth, nose, eyes, or ears. It can also be a face entirely composed of leaves. In churches and cathedrals the motive appeared the first time in the eleventh century. It can be traced back to Roman times. The Green Man, also called Jack-of-the-Green or leaf man, represents most certainly the tree spirit, the old forest god of the oak, for with the Green Man oak leaves are often depicted. It was, in pre-Christian times, a symbol of fertility and rebirth, representing irrepressible life, with the forces of nature merging with humanity. In medieval times he could have represented lust or another of the seven deadly sins, but he may also have protective functions.
There may be a connection between this motive and the worship of the human head in Celtic religions: After a battle the heads of the fallen were cut off and raised on poles around the settlement to ward off evil spirits. Sometimes even leaves were wrapped around the heads in honour of some local deity or tree spirit. Old English folk stories had their own Green Man, the Corn (or Barley) God, who was said to be resurrected after death, in the shape of a tree growing out of his head. In the legends about King Arthur, a Green Man can also be found in Sir Gawain, called the "Green Knight". He had a green head, a green face, green armour, and even a green horse. When he was decapitated, he continued to live, symbolically personifying the regeneration powers of the plant realm. The Green Man was also part of the May Day processions which celebrated the spring, as a dancer, covered all over with leaves and wearing a mask, dancing ahead of the May Queen.

X

I’ve often seen it said that instead of representing ice, Bran represents Nature. Whether or not that’s strictly true, we’ll probably talk about more in the re-read, but with the above quoted passage, links such as trees, resurrection, nature, and even the coming of spring (or summer) could all be linked to Bran at some point during his entire character arc. I do think that we can link Bran Stark to John Barleycorn—a king who is killed and resurrected with the harvest only to be reborn in the spring. Bran was not supposed to survive this fall; Jaime Lannister intended Bran to die. However, Bran does not die and when we discuss Kyoshi’s chapter next, are we looking at a “resurrection” of sorts?

There are many images of the Green Man as a Gargoyle on Google, but to get an idea, these were my favorite:

1

2

Stray Observations

I didn’t spend any time talking about the political ramifications of what Bran’s fall entails because most of that is going to happen to people that are not Bran—Robb, Cat, Ned, Tyrion ect. Nor did I spend time on what Bran overheard mostly for the same reason and also because Bran himself does not understand what Cersei and Jaime are talking about, he just knows that it’s bad and dangerous.

Bran is really an innocent that got caught in the crosshairs. However, Bran’s fall and the lies, manipulations and machinations that get told in regards to his fall are a key component in the War of the 5 Kings which will affect his entire family.

Conclusions

Until the end, this chapter has less dialogue and action than chapters that come before or after. It is mostly building the readers internal understanding of Bran Stark. Bran will go through a lot over his short life, but his “fall” from the lightening struck tower is probably one of—if not the—most significant moments in his life. This fall and the effects of it will shape his young life for the rest of the story. Prior to his fall, however, Bran is a curious, energetic, and brave dreamer. But every flight begins with a fall.

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Thank you for the excellent analysis, Bear Queen! As usual, great work. I'm on my phone so it's kind of difficult to quote and comment, not that I'd have much to say anyway given how brilliantly you covered the chapter.

I'm really impressed with the bits you included about crows and gargoyles. Really excellent work.

On a different note, I hate that you've set the bar so high.

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Fantastic analysis! I agree with Kyoshi, loved the gargoyles, crows and lightning info.



There really isn't anything to add, just a few things I found particularly interesting about Bran and this chapter.



His climbing has given him a perspective of WF no one else has. I think this will be necessary in the rebuilding of WF down the road. He gives detailed account of how to get around unnoticed. That information may be useful to anyone needing to get in or out of WF unnoticed.



I also really dig the way Ned handles his children. Bran had promised not to climb and when he couldn't take it anymore he had to break his promise because he was miserable, as you said. He felt so guilty he confessed and Ned made him spend the night in the godswood cleansing himself and reflecting. The next morning they found him asleep in the tallest tree in the highest branches. Ned's reaction was "You are not my son, you're a squirrel. So be it. If you must climb, then climb, but try not to let your mother see you." Ned attempts to help Cat harness the wildness in some of the children but when he realizes he cannot, he accepts them as they are and even helps them. Similarly when he discovers Arya with Needle he finds her a teacher and keeps it secret by telling people Arya is taking dancing lessons. Both excellent examples of picking your battles.


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Great analysis bearqueen !



I love your point on Bran's theme of growing up, and relating them to him first seeing murder and then also seeing sex.





Bran The Bird



There are quite a few passages in this chapter that link Bran Stark and birds, specifically to crows. This has obvious symbolic importance later in the story and to Bran. I’ll go through them and then I want to briefly touch on crow mythology and symbology.




Quote





Notice here that Bran, once he has ascended to the top of Winterfell, is alone, except for the birds. He joined their ranks in being able to see the castle and the men who live in it from this, shall we say, bird’s eye view. Second, the verb GRRM chose to describe how Bran sits on the stones of Winterfell is telling: he does not recline, sit, arrest, or relax. He perches. The word perch has a few meanings but given that GRRM has just linked Bran to the birds that fly overhead, I believe that in this case the association of a horizontal pole that a bird would alight upon is deliberate.




Quote





There is a surprising amount in such a tiny paragraph. I want to start with the story Old Nan has told Bran at some point in this life. The story of a boy who is struck down because he climbed too high has obvious parallels to the Greek myth of Icarus. The story goes that Icarus and his father were trying to escape Crete by fashioning wings with feathers held together by wax and flying away. Icarus was warned not to fly too close to the sun but, in his hubris, did not listen and the heat of the sun melted the wax and his wings fell apart, resulting in Icarus drowning in the sea. Notice that the story of Icarus is linked to flying and birds and that the story old Nan tells is a warning to Bran, essentially, not to be “like Icarus.” It is also very careful foreshadowing of what will happen to Bran in this same chapter once he climbs the lightning struck tower. As for the crow pecking out his eyes, we’ll have to wait for the next chapter.



Apart from that, Bran is already familiar with crows. Not only does he ascend to Winterfell’s highest points to be one of them, but also he actively engages with them by feeding them. And so far, none of the crows seem to want to peck out his eyes. It’s possible that the birds of Winterfell have become more domesticated, but I also think that once again GRRM is showing the close relationship Bran has to birds.




Quote





Once again, more birds. There are more than crows here, but even the non-crows know Bran and he knows them.



In regards to Bran’s favorite place to climb, the lightening struck tower, Bran notes that, “…no one ever got up to the jagged top of the structure now except for Bran and the crows.”



And, finally, of course, after Jaime pushes Bran from the lightening struck tower of Nan’s story, “crows circled the broken tower, waiting for corn.” I think, here, GRRM wants us to read broken tower as a metaphor for Bran, who is now literally broken. The crows are waiting for corn, which Bran has provided in the past.



Crows are the most prevalent bird imagery in this chapter and they occupy a significant place in Bran’s story overall. There is a quite a bit of crow mythology and often they are associated with gods or goddesses. For example:



  • In Celtic mythology, the Morrghan often takes the appearance of a crow. She is considered the goddess of battle and strife.
  • Augury is the practice of diving the future from birds, and was seen quite a lot in Greek mythology. It is often associated with Apollo, as a god of prophecy, and was symbolized by the crow.
  • Some Native American tribes see the crow as a trickster, while others see the crow as the Supreme Being whose wings create wind, thunder and lightening.
  • According to one source I read, in the Indian Mahâbhârata, the messengers of death are likened to crows.
  • Most famously, and probably most significantly given where Bran ends up and with whom, according to Norse mythology the god Odin had two ravens (different than crows but very similar; they often get mixed up or combined into one) Huginn and Muinnin, whose names translate to “thought” and “memory.” They work as spies for Odin, bringing him information. Without jumping ahead, keep in mind that Odin is a one-eyed god who once attached himself to a tree.


As a symbol, the crow can have a bit of a bad rap, given that it often appears after war or battle to feast on the flesh of the dead. Of course, symbols are usually not strictly one thing or the other, so despite the “death” connotations, crows can also have more positive associations like clairvoyance, wisdom, and most telling for our young Bran, a spiritual guide. The fact that Bran is surrounded by crows is important in that he will become a symbol himself for many of these ideas—death, prophecy, wisdom, and perhaps eventually as a spiritual guide.




Nice connection with the Greek myth of Icarus and also the symbolism of Bran as a bird. I also think it's important for us readers to notice that the symbolism here is as a bird and not as a dragon, so when the topic of Bran flying comes into effect it doesn't necessarily mean he will fly as a dragon. i.e. by warging, this seems to be a common theory across the board.



Also one theme in Bran's arc is "Old Nan's stories coming to life " I believe this story is the first part of this, since the same thing happens to Bran. So keeping track of Old Nan's stories will be important in this re-read.






Bran The Climber



There are several things Bran enjoys about climbing that are hard to come by with other diversions:


  • Climbing teaches Bran Winterfell’s secrets. There are things he is convinced he knows that Maester Luwin does not.
  • Invisibility. No one can see him when he’s that high up.
  • Bran likes the stones and how they feel. More on this below.
  • Bran likes the way the air tastes, “sweet and cold as a winter peach.” According to the popular ASOIAF Food Code, peaches symbolize innocence, savoring the moment, naivete and comfort be it be between two brothers before going to war against one another or the first real food you’ve had while traveling in a barren wasteland. Bran’s is most at home when climbing the walls of Winterfell.
  • Most of all, he liked going places that no one else could go, and seeing the grey sprawl of Winterfell in a way that no one else ever saw it. It made the whole castle Bran’s secret place.”



Very apt list


I think as we go forward we will see many similarities here between Bran the warg and Bran the greenseer.




Not much to add, so again great analysis!



ETA:Also on the topic of Bran and the symbolic connection of him to nature, I believe his wolf having golden eyes (the same as the CotF) is another symbol.


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Thanks Kyoshi, DarkSister, and Queen Alysanne!


His climbing has given him a perspective of WF no one else has. I think this will be necessary in the rebuilding of WF down the road. He gives detailed account of how to get around unnoticed. That information may be useful to anyone needing to get in or out of WF unnoticed.

Never thought of that before. That's really interesting!

I also really dig the way Ned handles his children. Bran had promised not to climb and when he couldn't take it anymore he had to break his promise because he was miserable, as you said. He felt so guilty he confessed and Ned made him spend the night in the godswood cleansing himself and reflecting. The next morning they found him asleep in the tallest tree in the highest branches. Ned's reaction was "You are not my son, you're a squirrel. So be it. If you must climb, then climb, but try not to let your mother see you." Ned attempts to help Cat harness the wildness in some of the children but when he realizes he cannot, he accepts them as they are and even helps them. Similarly when he discovers Arya with Needle he finds her a teacher and keeps it secret by telling people Arya is taking dancing lessons. Both excellent examples of picking your battles.

RIP Ned Stark :(

But yes, I agree. Cat is from the south and tends to want her children to be as such. Sansa will shine in KL; Arya needs the refinement of KL, and Bran spends too much time not on the ground. With Ned, I also think there is a lot of bittersweet feelings about some of the wildness of his kids--they remind him of his own siblings, several of whom met a rather nasty end. Arya is a lot like Brandon and Lyanna; Sansa is like the romantic Lyanna and Ned himself, and Bran is a mix of Lyanna, Brandon, and Benjen, and Ned (he child is just NORTHERN).

Nice connection with the Greek myth of Icarus and also the symbolism of Bran as a bird. I also think it's important for us readers to notice that the symbolism here is as a bird and not as a dragon, so when the topic of Bran flying comes into effect it doesn't necessarily mean he will fly as a dragon. i.e. by warging, this seems to be a common theory across the board.

Hm, good point. I do tend to hold that Bran will warg an ice dragon (I need an ice dragon in this series...just one...) but that something to take into consideration.

Also one theme in Bran's arc is "Old Nan's stories coming to life " I believe this story is the first part of this, since the same thing happens to Bran. So keeping track of Old Nan's stories will be important in this re-read.

I love the way you put this! We should all be listening to Old Nan very carefully.

ETA:Also on the topic of Bran and the symbolic connection of him to nature, I believe his wolf having golden eyes (the same as the CotF) is another symbol.

:agree:

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Excellent job, BearQueen87.



The place had grown over the centuries like some monstrous stone tree, Maester Luwin told him once, and its branches were gnarled and thick and twisted, its roots sunk deep into the earth



The old that is strong does not wither


The deep roots are not touched by the frost


-JRR Tolkien



I like the Icarus connection, especially since WF is described as a "grey stone labyrinth," and Jaime is described as golden as the sun.



What happens when Robert dies, and Joff takes the throne? And the sooner that comes to pass, the safer we'll all be



GRRM does love to use irony. Connington thinks he would never have attempted the stormlands while Robert was alive, but after his death, he lands to win their allegiance and "put an end to the Usurper's line for good and all." When Robert dies and Joffrey takes the throne, the Lannisters find themselves in a bad situation, the Wo5K. Even after that seems to pass, Joffrey dies, and according to Maggy, the rest of Cersei's children will follow him to the grave along with her and likely Jaime. Cersei's assassination of Robert and actions regarding that lead to her family's downfall.



As for the peach, I think it is also like oranges in The Godfather, that is given to us in the same chapter Bran is thrown from the tower.


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Thanks Fire Eater!



Nice Tolkien quote. Interesting that in the parallel quote, the frost does not touch the roots. Winter comes but doesn't affect WF?





What happens when Robert dies, and Joff takes the throne? And the sooner that comes to pass, the safer we'll all be



GRRM does love to use irony. Connington thinks he would never have attempted the stormlands while Robert was alive, but after his death, he lands to win their allegiance and "put an end to the Usurper's line for good and all." When Robert dies and Joffrey takes the throne, the Lannisters find themselves in a bad situation, the Wo5K. Even after that seems to pass, Joffrey dies, and according to Maggy, the rest of Cersei's children will follow him to the grave along with her and likely Jaime. Cersei's assassination of Robert and actions regarding that lead to her family's downfall.





Lol yes very ironic.

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A Game of Thrones

Bran II

[snip]

Excellent analysis! :thumbsup:

I don't have much to add, just a couple of observations.

5. Bran is thrown from a lightening struck tower. The lightening struck tower is also a tarot card, which has the meaning of: “ambitions built on false premises. The lightning bolt breaks down existing forms in order to make room for new ones. It represents a sudden, momentary glimpse of truth, a flash of inspiration that breaks down structures of ignorance and false reasoning.”

This is a very interesting observation. The Tarot cards have been around for a long time, since the 15ht century and were initially used to play cards games. It wasn't until later that they began to be used for divination and mysticism. The symbolism goes well with what's about to happen to Bran but also with his later arc.

Bran The Knight

Bran is a boy who dreams. Over the course of the novels and his character arc, the idea of Bran as the dreamer will take on different meanings, but for right now, like his sister Sansa, Bran has romantic and somewhat southron dreams. In this case, Bran dreams of being a knight.

The idea or ideal of knighthood is an important theme in the series and across many character arcs. It's an integral part of many fantasy series and GRRM not only explores it but turns it on his head. He humanizes these knights in ways we don't see very often. The ideal of a knight is all fine and good until it meats with reality and humanity. These men don't live outside the influences of the world and themselves. Even a true knight like Ser Barristan has had to witness and accept atrocities in the name of honor and duty. He probably wouldn't be a great knight in the old knights tales.

Bran The Bird

There are quite a few passages in this chapter that link Bran Stark and birds, specifically to crows. This has obvious symbolic importance later in the story and to Bran. I’ll go through them and then I want to briefly touch on crow mythology and symbology.

...

The place had grown over the centuries like some monstrous stone tree, Maester Luwin told him once, and its branches were gnarled and thick and twisted, its roots sunk deep into the earth.”

There is a lot of bird and tree symbolism throughout the entire chapter, it's really a prelude to the true adventure in Bran's future.

His climbing has given him a perspective of WF no one else has. I think this will be necessary in the rebuilding of WF down the road. He gives detailed account of how to get around unnoticed. That information may be useful to anyone needing to get in or out of WF unnoticed.

Indeed! I thought the exact same thing when I read this:

"And he knew you could get inside the inner wall by the south gate, climb three floors and run all the way around Winterfell through a narrow tunnel in the stone, and then come out on ground level at the north gate, with a hundred feet of wall looming over you."

ETA:Also on the topic of Bran and the symbolic connection of him to nature, I believe his wolf having golden eyes (the same as the CotF) is another symbol.

Golden like the sun.

A brief observation:

"Arya named hers after some old witch queen in the songs"

Women in power get demonized in real life and apparently in fantastical novels as well. :D It's very typical of the time (and ours apparently) to try and bring down women in power by attributing their strength to witchcraft and whatnot. For them to be as strong and successful as men is unimaginable.

Again, great job BearQueen87!

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And it's not only the Reds

From the world book

some of the First Men allied with a woods witch who could raise wights, they allied with her to fight against the andals. This drives my point across that raising people from the dead does not equal black since many of these First Men probably have children and wives they are trying to protect and them condoning wights being raised was just a means to survival. So to use the others act of raising wights as proof that they are black/villains is inaccurate

Sorry for the late reply, but...

I don't think having the First Men raise wights is a good thing at all. It's just as wrong as when the Others do it. Just as wrong as when Bran wargs Hodor. Just because the "good guys" do it, doesn't make it right.

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Never thought of that before. That's really interesting!

But yes, I agree. Cat is from the south and tends to want her children to be as such. Sansa will shine in KL; Arya needs the refinement of KL, and Bran spends too much time not on the ground. With Ned, I also think there is a lot of bittersweet feelings about some of the wildness of his kids--they remind him of his own siblings, several of whom met a rather nasty end. Arya is a lot like Brandon and Lyanna; Sansa is like the romantic Lyanna and Ned himself, and Bran is a mix of Lyanna, Brandon, and Benjen, and Ned (he child is just NORTHERN).

Hm, good point. I do tend to hold that Bran will warg an ice dragon (I need an ice dragon in this series...just one...) but that something to take into consideration.

I don't think it's coincidence that we have "Bran the Broken" who knows more about WF than anyone except maybe the original "Bran the Builder". GRRM is setting something special up there, I think. :)

I agree. Ned thinks the "wolf blood" put Lyanna and Brandon in early graves, something he obviously wants to avoid with his own kiddos and he knows that forbidding a rebel to do something doesn't work.

Ice Dragon - if I don't mention this after Bran's 4th chapter, remind me. I don't want to jump ahead.

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Excellent analysis! :thumbsup:

Thanks MOIAF!

A brief observation:

"Arya named hers after some old witch queen in the songs"

Women in power get demonized in real life and apparently in fantastical novels as well. :D It's very typical of the time (and ours apparently) to try and bring down women in power by attributing their strength to witchcraft and whatnot. For them to be as strong and successful as men is unimaginable.

Taking this up briefly but post-World Book

Nymeria was a

prelude to Dany badass Queen! I love how the history of her is more than just this "old witch queen."

Ice Dragon - if I don't mention this after Bran's 4th chapter, remind me. I don't want to jump ahead.

Intriguing! Will do :)

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Thanks MOIAF!

Taking this up briefly but post-World Book

Nymeria was a

prelude to Dany badass Queen! I love how the history of her is more than just this "old witch queen."

Also from the World book:

She had dozens of attempts to her life and lived for a very long time. GRRM does not make it easy for these ladies to rule, but they are surely tough as nails.

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Also from the World book:

She had dozens of attempts to her life and lived for a very long time. GRRM does not make it easy for these ladies to rule, but they are surely tough as nails.

I think that's realistic and I appreciate that. Makes me wonder what other challenges Bran will face as a crippled boy.

On the subject of Jaime offering his hand to Bran and then deceiving him by pushing him...I read this theory once, I think it was the Schmendrick one, where the theorist tied it to mythology. I can't remember the bits that mattered and I'm on my phone. One of the key points made was that Jaime later loses the same hand he used to push Bran. I'm wondering if there is something in this chapter which may point in that direction. I couldn't find anything on my own so I thought I would ask here. (I think there is something in the chapter I will be analysing but since the events there are so closely tied to Bear Queen's chapter I thought I should mention it now.)

And welcome back, MoIaF!

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@BearQueen87


Great post, I particularly like the segment about birds (and not necessary crows).



Bran likes the stones and how they feel. More on this below.


At first I thought it was a terrible pun about Bran falling from the tower!!! Gotta take my meds apparently.



Adding something:


Old Nan


Two chapters, at least four times she shows up.


Between the Stark children, Bran's apparently the one who she influenced the most, possibly due to his current age.


Beside that, it's commonly believed that Old Nan speaks the truth but she's ignored because most of her words are regarded as stories for children... in this chapter however we see that for once, Old Nan is wrong.



(...) the Kingsguard. Old Nan said they were the finest swords in all the realm.


For every Arthur Dayne there's a Boros Blount, and that's exactly who Bran sees: Blount and Trant are most likely the worst knights in the Kingsguard by attitude, and as far as skill goes they seem not to be astounding.


The other Kingsguard member Bran sees is Jaime, and while skill-wise he may actually be one of the finest swords of the realm, he's about to push a kid out of the window.



How a child sees his mother


Once more the wolf howled. "Quiet," he yelled "Sit down. Stay. You're worse than Mother."


Hilarious since it can be related to almost any child/mother relationship I know of.



Sadly it's a Bran reread so I won't diverge, but on a reread the Cersei/Jaime dialogue looks way more interesting than the first time I read the chapter, you can already see some tracts of their different personalities.

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@BearQueen87

Great post, I particularly like the segment about birds (and not necessary crows).

Thanks Loic!

Old Nan

Two chapters, at least four times she shows up.

Between the Stark children, Bran's apparently the one who she influenced the most, possibly due to his current age.

Beside that, it's commonly believed that Old Nan speaks the truth but she's ignored because most of her words are regarded as stories for children... in this chapter however we see that for once, Old Nan is wrong.

Good observation! We should definitely be keeping an eye on Old Nan and whatever she says

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Old Nan

Two chapters, at least four times she shows up.

Between the Stark children, Bran's apparently the one who she influenced the most, possibly due to his current age.

Beside that, it's commonly believed that Old Nan speaks the truth but she's ignored because most of her words are regarded as stories for children... in this chapter however we see that for once, Old Nan is wrong.

(...) the Kingsguard. Old Nan said they were the finest swords in all the realm.

For every Arthur Dayne there's a Boros Blount, and that's exactly who Bran sees: Blount and Trant are most likely the worst knights in the Kingsguard by attitude, and as far as skill goes they seem not to be astounding.

The other Kingsguard member Bran sees is Jaime, and while skill-wise he may actually be one of the finest swords of the realm, he's about to push a kid out of the window.

Now that you mention it, I don't recall anyone else sharing Old Nan's stories but Bran. Odd considering we have POVs from Ned, Cat, Arya, Sansa, Jon & Theon. Arya used the alias "Nan" at one point, but that's all I remember. That little o bitty is on my radar now. ;)

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Now that you mention it, I don't recall anyone else sharing Old Nan's stories but Bran. Odd considering we have POVs from Ned, Cat, Arya, Sansa, Jon & Theon. Arya used the alias "Nan" at one point, but that's all I remember. That little o bitty is on my radar now. ;)

Iirc Theon made Old Nan fall when playing with Robb and I'm pretty sure Arya mentioned/remembered Nan at least once beside her alias.

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Iirc Theon made Old Nan fall when playing with Robb and I'm pretty sure Arya mentioned/remembered Nan at least once beside her alias.

Jon also thinks about her stories of an ice dragon in regards to the Wall iirc

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Iirc Theon made Old Nan fall when playing with Robb and I'm pretty sure Arya mentioned/remembered Nan at least once beside her alias.

We get a partial story of Harrenhal and the dragons through Arya's recollection of Old Nan

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