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MoIaF

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

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I guess I'm a little suspicious that he didn't leave of his own volition: like had a vision and decided to leave. However, i do think there might be a deal involved

He seems to be ok with bending the rules for the greater good so I could see him getting a vision or a calling and leaving to take the next steps and just making it look like he went missing. The disappearance of the Lord Commander, I'd imagine, would be a big deal. Strange that there's been no mention of how BR, a Targaryen Great Bastard that went from squashing rebellions to the black cells to the wall to rise up and become LC just suddenly vanished. I really hope we get the whole back story on it.

PS - I hope everyone that celebrated have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

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He seems to be ok with bending the rules for the greater good so I could see him getting a vision or a calling and leaving to take the next steps and just making it look like he went missing. The disappearance of the Lord Commander, I'd imagine, would be a big deal. Strange that there's been no mention of how BR, a Targaryen Great Bastard that went from squashing rebellions to the black cells to the wall to rise up and become LC just suddenly vanished. I really hope we get the whole back story on it.

PS - I hope everyone that celebrated have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

Right, and Jeor Mormont doesn't go out on ranges during his time as LC prior to ACOK. I don't know if that's typical or atypical but I suspect it's the former. So if BR went out on a ranging then I think it would have been a bit unusual and I think he went out there with another motive in mind, one he didn't share with his men in black. (though...did he share it with Aemon...?)

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Right, and Jeor Mormont doesn't go out on ranges during his time as LC prior to ACOK. I don't know if that's typical or atypical but I suspect it's the former. So if BR went out on a ranging then I think it would have been a bit unusual and I think he went out there with another motive in mind, one he didn't share with his men in black. (though...did he share it with Aemon...?)

I agree. And I am really, really surprised that we didn't get more info from Aemon on this. Particularly after the mutiny at Craster's. Even something small mentioned like this had happened before. GRRM is making me paranoid. I don't take anything at face value anymore and ALWYS want more info. All I can conclude is that Aemon must have known more and that's why he didn't say anything.

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I agree. And I am really, really surprised that we didn't get more info from Aemon on this. Particularly after the mutiny at Craster's. Even something small mentioned like this had happened before. GRRM is making me paranoid. I don't take anything at face value anymore and ALWYS want more info. All I can conclude is that Aemon must have known more and that's why he didn't say anything.

We know Rhaegar and Aemon corresponded about R's own prophetic inclinations and interpretations, so if BR is having some sort of visions calling him out to beyond the Wall, then I think he'd talk to Maester Aemon about those. And Aemon never mentions prophecy or Rhaegar to Jon or anyone else (that we know of) until after he's left the Wall and heard about Dany and then he starts spilling some beans about TPTPW, Summerhall, Rhaegar, ect ect ect. So it's not outside the realm of possibility that Aemon was sitting on some BR information and neglected to tell the audience. *shakes fist* Tricksy Targaryens!

Actually, as I type this...what are the odds that BR was having some sort of 3EC-type vision like Bran? Did the Children teach BR how to do what he does...or did someone else...was it natural? I know that's jumping ahead a bit, so possibly just something to think about.

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We know Rhaegar and Aemon corresponded about R's own prophetic inclinations and interpretations, so if BR is having some sort of visions calling him out to beyond the Wall, then I think he'd talk to Maester Aemon about those. And Aemon never mentions prophecy or Rhaegar to Jon or anyone else (that we know of) until after he's left the Wall and heard about Dany and then he starts spilling some beans about TPTPW, Summerhall, Rhaegar, ect ect ect. So it's not outside the realm of possibility that Aemon was sitting on some BR information and neglected to tell the audience. *shakes fist* Tricksy Targaryens!

Actually, as I type this...what are the odds that BR was having some sort of 3EC-type vision like Bran? Did the Children teach BR how to do what he does...or did someone else...was it natural? I know that's jumping ahead a bit, so possibly just something to think about.

Oh snap! Is he not the original 3EC and maybe someone called to him the way he called to Bran? Are some of the impaled dreamers Bran saw also ones that BRs predecessor tried reaching out to that failed? I had never even considered it.

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Oh snap! Is he not the original 3EC and maybe someone called to him the way he called to Bran? Are some of the impaled dreamers Bran saw also ones that BRs predecessor tried reaching out to that failed? I had never even considered it.

If I'm not mistaken, Bloodraven never even explicitly confirms that he, Bloodraven, is the 3EC. Just sayin'. Though I guess I sort of imagine that the greenseer is the sort of physical embodiment of the 3EC, serving as its instrument, so that maybe it doesn't make sense to distinguish between 3EC and BR, except that there could have been others before him and could be others after him. But that's jumping ahead quite a bit, sorry! In these early dreams, Bran experiences the 3EC as a literal three-eyed crow.

I think you're right about the impaled dreamers. I mean, I think that in general they are those who passed (fell) into the realm beyond/death, and couldn't fly back. But what makes a person fall, or calls them into that place to begin with, or pushes them there? It seems like some sort of trauma, or near-death experience. I wonder if BR had to have such an experience to be called?

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The discussion is interesting, but I am not sure that this re-read is the right place for it. It is only partially relevant for Bran and then more about his future role than his current character development. (And I think we are all - me included - jumping too far ahead in general)



What I wanted to adress with my original post were the life lessons that three-eyed crow and the dream itself were trying to teach Bran rather than the magical aspects of the dream. It is not only about him accepting his powers but only how he deals with the situations he faces and is going to face in the future. If he is not mentally prepared for what is coming then all the powers he has or can develop will do nothing. The three-eyed crow the second mentor figure that Bran learns from (the first being his father) and it is interesting to see how their teachings are similar or different and if Bran accepts or rejects those lessons and to what degree.



This is why I put emphasis on the fact that although the three-eyed crow pushes him hin the right direction to survive the dream and develop his powers, the lesson that led to Bran eventually flying was not one of the three eyed crow, but his father's lesson and that is a fact that is one of the first defining decisions (not aspects) Bran makes.






I am remind of that. Bran has to let go--let of go of what happened to him, let go of being the Bran who wanted to be a knight--in order to fly. I think that's what BR/3EC is doing in this dream.





I both agree and disagree. I think you are right that Bran needs to let go of what happened to him, but that is not exactly what the three eyed crow is helping with. He does not help letting it go, but suppresses it. That is a fundamental difference, a bit like the difference between hypnosis and meditation. Both can lead to you being able to deal with straying thoughts that keep you from concentrating, but the one method narrows your thoughts down and leads to you ignoring everything else and the other one helps clearing your mind. What the three eyed crow is doing is a short term solution and potentially harming in the long term, which may be the only way he could help in this case, but the way he reacted does make me doubt that he cares for Bran as a person at all.



Regarding letting go of the Bran who wants being a knight, that has two aspects: The one aspect is that he cannot be a knight after his fall, which is why it is harmful to linger on that wish, but that is not relevant in that chapter, so I will be silent on that for the moment (and is probably not the aspect you meant either). I agree with your point regarding the other aspect: Bran cannot be allowed to be a knight, because then he could not become a greenseer - which is what is needed in the opinion of the three-eyed crow - just for mundane time reasons. So in a way it is a 'lucky' consequence for the three-eyed crow that Bran ends up losing the use of his legs.




I'll take this a bit further. He's not just a free object; he's a victim. The things that are in the cloud space are almost violent against him. The grey mists whirl around him, it's cold; the ground is coming up to smash him. Everything is acting on him and he is unable to act on anything around him. And even further, this might be a theme for Bran as a whole: being used by forces outside of himself that are greater than him but manage to entice and provoke.



I really like this observation. I think part of the three-eyed crows intentions is to snap Bran out of that victim role he is finding himself in. Not necessarily for altruistic reasons, but still. I think it is also the beginning of another theme: The stark contrast between him very powerful and completely powerless (which is actually an observation I read in another thread, but I do not think that I will be able to find that post). He has the potential to become very powerful, but isn't yet. It also depends largely on the situation, but that is more something for later chapters.



As a last remark: You may have noticed that I focus more on the character development part than on the symbolism and the magical meaning of the chapters. Do not let that put you off. Both approaches are necessary to get everything out of the chapters, but since those discussion tend to lean in the magical direction I think it is a valid approach here.


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Sorry to jump ahead y'all. Just get too excited with the new perspectives and discussions. :D





I think you're right about the impaled dreamers. I mean, I think that in general they are those who passed (fell) into the realm beyond/death, and couldn't fly back. But what makes a person fall, or calls them into that place to begin with, or pushes them there? It seems like some sort of trauma, or near-death experience. I wonder if BR had to have such an experience to be called?




It makes sense, now thinking about it. Otherwise where did all those other impaled dreamers come from? Greenseeing is all but gone from the world. So if he is reaching and testing trying to find someone who could fit the bill, so to speak, it doesn't seem like there's much to choose from. And certainly not all those Bran saw.






I really like this observation. I think part of the three-eyed crows intentions is to snap Bran out of that victim role he is finding himself in. Not necessarily for altruistic reasons, but still. I think it is also the beginning of another theme: The stark contrast between him very powerful and completely powerless (which is actually an observation I read in another thread, but I do not think that I will be able to find that post). He has the potential to become very powerful, but isn't yet. It also depends largely on the situation, but that is more something for later chapters.




I agree. I know I said this earlier but I'm sticking to it. It seems odd to me that he told Bran to push the push it out of his mind. I still think that Bran remembering would have changed so much, including his trip north of the wall so I don't think he has Bran's best interest at heart, though he may have the realms. I do think the wolves were sent as protectors of the Stark children. Summer howling while Bran climbed seemed like a warning but if BR needed Bran to have the near-death experience in order to open his third eye than why warn him of the danger? Unless he sent them but does not have complete control over them. If he, in fact, sent them at all.


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If I'm not mistaken, Bloodraven never even explicitly confirms that he, Bloodraven, is the 3EC.

Pretty sure GRRM confirmed, yes?

It seems odd to me that he told Bran to push the push it out of his mind. I still think that Bran remembering would have changed so much, including his trip north of the wall so I don't think he has Bran's best interest at heart, though he may have the realms

Right, so let's say Bran remembers Jaime pushing him out the window. Suddenly, long before Cat's final chapter in ACOK, the Stark family knows who is guilty. if Bran had woken up and knew what had happened, ravens would have been sent, war might be--if not prevented--not as extreme, Robb never would have ridden south, WF never would have been taken, ect ect ect. All leading up to Bran not going NOrth of the Wall (bit of a jump, I know, but necessary). So yes...BR, who can see things others can not, has to ensure that he ges what he wants. So, kid, you're really traumatized, but let's not focus on that.

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Right, so let's say Bran remembers Jaime pushing him out the window. Suddenly, long before Cat's final chapter in ACOK, the Stark family knows who is guilty. if Bran had woken up and knew what had happened, ravens would have been sent, war might be--if not prevented--not as extreme, Robb never would have ridden south, WF never would have been taken, ect ect ect. All leading up to Bran not going NOrth of the Wall (bit of a jump, I know, but necessary). So yes...BR, who can see things others can not, has to ensure that he ges what he wants. So, kid, you're really traumatized, but let's not focus on that.

They still needed to know who send the assassin, which was more of a reason for Catelyn to travel to King's Landing. And knowing that Jaime pushed him would have probably strenghened Eddard's decision to become Hand to wield more influence in King's Landing instead of abandoning it to the Lannisters. Apart from that I am not sure that Bloodraven has a good impression of what the political situation in Westeros is. It is one thing to have a long reach and to be able to secretly gather information in many places. Another to find a way to get the information he wants consistently. The success rate on his attempts to gather information would be quite low and he has a limited amount of time to work with (its not like people talk about relevant information all the time). Especially with the whole Other thing going on too.

I still think him suppressing Bran's memory was just short term focussed since Bran fell faster after seeing that due to bringing up all the feelings of shock and helplessness which is exactly what you not need in this situation. Probably combined with the fact that he does not need that memory ever for what he has planned for him.

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Pretty sure GRRM confirmed, yes?

<snip>

Did he? Sorry, I must have missed that one! I did try to search the SSMs, but it could well have been in a video chat or something.

But I suppose that for the purposes of our discussion, at this particular point in Bran's chapters, the 3EC is a totally mysterious entity, and I know that I as a reader of AGoT, I didn't really have the feeling that it was an actual human being who was reaching out to Bran and manipulating him, to whatever ends. And I guess that some part of me still trusts that initial sense, that we've got here a classic shaman's flight into the realm of death and back. But I really appreciate Illuminated by Fire's insights about the extent to which the "spirit guide"'s role might have offered a sort of immediate fix for Bran's situation, but one that might not necessarily have been good for him in the longer term. Of course we will never know what would have happened to Bran had the 3EC not intervened and suppressed the knowledge of the golden man, or stopped Bran from hitting bottom.

I wonder: were the rest of you sort of elated at what happened in this chapter, when you first read it? I know I was, I loved the thought that Bran was being initiated into another sort of status, and was excited at where this was going to go. Maybe I was a naive reader. I mean, I knew that the shaman takes on risks all the time in his journeys to the other side, but I kind of thought that those would be different risks than the normal human ones of the game of thrones. It wasn't until much, much later that I began to suspect that there may be risks other than spiritual ones to Bran.

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I wonder: were the rest of you sort of elated at what happened in this chapter, when you first read it? I know I was, I loved the thought that Bran was being initiated into another sort of status, and was excited at where this was going to go. Maybe I was a naive reader. I mean, I knew that the shaman takes on risks all the time in his journeys to the other side, but I kind of thought that those would be different risks than the normal human ones of the game of thrones. It wasn't until much, much later that I began to suspect that there may be risks other than spiritual ones to Bran.

When I first read the chapter some 12 years ago now, I remember being elated that Bran woke up but hella confused about the crow, the visions, and what exactly was going on.

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This is why I put emphasis on the fact that although the three-eyed crow pushes him hin the right direction to survive the dream and develop his powers, the lesson that led to Bran eventually flying was not one of the three eyed crow, but his father's lesson and that is a fact that is one of the first defining decisions (not aspects) Bran makes.

:agree:

Wonderful observation and I agree, this is a very important part of the chapter. Bran made the decision based on what his father told him and not necessarily the three eyed crow.

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(Sorry, not a thorough as I wanted it to be, but I hope it's still useful ) :)



Bran IV - AGOT


“Oh, my Sweet Summer Child




SUMMARY



The chapter begins with Bran sitting by his bedroom window watching Rickon play with the direwolves in the yard. Seeing his brother playing and running around brings tears to his eyes and he angrily punches his leg lamenting his paralyzes. He thinks loudly about what the three-eyed crow had told him about flying and calls him a lier, Old Nan who is in the room taking care of him, agrees.



She proposes to tell Bran a story to cheer him up. She says she’ll tell him about Bran the Builder which she says is his favorite, Bran corrects her and tells her that’s not his favorite, he’s not that Brandon. He asks for Old Nan to tell him a scary story, those he says are his favorite. She begins to tell him the story of the Long Night and as she reaches the climax Hodor and Maester Luwin come into his room to bring him down to the Hall, Robb is requesting his presence because they have visitors, Tyrion Lannister and men from the Nights Watch.



As Bran is being seated in the hall he can feel and see Robb’s hostility towards Tyrion. Rickon enters with the direwolves and they proceed to attack Tyrion, Bran calls Summer to him and Robb and Rickon do as well. Tyrion has come to give them instruction to build a saddle that will allow Bran to ride a horse. Robb feeling a bit embarrassed by his initial rude behavior asks Tyrion to stay for dinner and to sleep, however, Tyrion refuses.



Before heading to dinner Bran has a brief dream in which parts of what happen prior to his fall are shown to him in a metaphorical sense. He awakens scared but its time to head down to the hall for dinner. After dinner Robb carries him to his room and they talk, Robb promises him that they will ride up to the Wall to visit Jon.



OBSERVATIONS



  • We get an idea about how long Old Nan must have been in Winterfell. If she was indeed there to take care of Lord Rickon’s father’s younger brother she would be at least pass 100 years old.
  • Robb “the Lord” is touched upon several times throughout the chapter (more on this in the analysis).
  • Rather briefly we see an inkling about Guest Rights, something that will become very important throughout the later books.
  • We see the idea of prosthetics (saddle) which is actually not a modern things. Prosthetics go back thousands of years.


ANALYSIS



The Direwolves



The chapter begins with Bran’s observation of the direwolves playing with Rickon. He thinks to himself:



“His fur had darkened until he was all black, and his eyes were green fire. Bran’s Summer came last. He was silver and smoke, with eyes of yellow gold that saw all there was to see. Smaller than Grey Wind, and more wary. Bran thought he was the smartest of the litter.”



The bolded part of the quote is quite interesting, given what we know of Bran’s later story. His observation I imagine is more intuitive as it is from knowledge. There is no way of him truly knowing that Summer is more observant than his brothers but perhaps he senses this.



It is also interesting because we will later learn the power that Bran will process once he is connected to the Weirwood Network. He will truly be able to see much of what’s happen and explain it to us the reader.



Of course not knowing any of this we probably attributed Bran’s observation to bias, this is why foreshadowing can be so hard. One never knows what is bias and what is foreshadowing.



“Summer began to growl first. Grey Wind picked it up. They padded toward the little man, one from the right and one from the left. “The wolves do not like your smell, Lannister,” Theon Greyjoy commented.



Shaggydog came out of the shadows behind him, snarling. Lannister recoiled , and Summer lunged at him from the other side. He reeled away, unsteady on his feet, and Grey Wind snapped at his arm, teeth ripping at his sleeve and tearing loose a scrap of cloth.”



Firstly, I would say that I don’t believe this has any bearing on future events, that is I don’t believe that the direwolves are sensing that Tyrion will be a threat (present or future) to the Stark children. I believe the reaction of the direwolves towards Tyrion is an empathetic reaction to their masters. The direwolves can sense the children’s antagonism towards Tyrion given the events that have transpired. This antagonism is then transferred to the direwolves, and they thus treated Tyrion with the same hostility.



It is an important observation because we begin to see the development of the bond between the direwolves and the Stark children. Yes, normal dogs can sense their owners hostility but what is interesting here is that all three dogs acted in unison and their level of hostility was very similar.



The Others



“Oh, my sweet summer child,” Old Nan said quietly, “what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter , my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods.” “You mean the Others,” Bran said querulously. “The Others,” Old Nan agreed. “Thousands and thousands of years ago, a winter fell that was cold and hard and endless beyond all memory of man. There came a night that lasted a generation, and kings shivered and died in their castles even as the swineherds in their hovels. Women smothered their children rather than see them starve, and cried, and felt their tears freeze on their cheeks.”




Now, we’ve already been exposed to the Others in the prologue, however, we don’t know much about them even from what we saw. This recount by Old Nan is the first real information we get regarding the Others, the Long Night, the Children of the Forest and the Last Hero. These topics will become very important to the overall story but much more so for Bran’s story.



Although we are grateful for Old Nan’s tale we must keep in mind that it is still a children’s tale and the historical accuracy of it must be looked at critically. However, I believe that are important elements to the story that will help us understand what to expect of the next Long Night and what to expect of the Others.



“…a winter fell that was cold and hard and endless beyond all memory of man. There came a night that lasted a generation…”



We discussed in the Dany re-read the idea that the next Long Night would probably last more than a few months and I think we have to consider that perhaps the next Long Night might take a least a few year. GRRM has worked hard in keeping a somewhat realistic timeline, we can imagine then that such a war will not be won so easily.



“In that darkness, the Others came for the first time” … “They were cold things, dead things, that hated iron and fire and the touch of the sun, and every creature with hot blood in its veins.…”



This description is pretty much what we have seen so far in the books regarding the behavior of the Wights and the Others. They seem to be a symbol of death, of entropy and thus we see their army of dead. Another interesting observation is that dragonbone:



“Dragonbone is black because of its high iron content, the book told him. It is strong as steel, yet lighter and far more flexible, and of course utterly impervious to fire.”



Iron and Fire in one being or three actually…





All the swords of men could not stay their advance, and even maidens and suckling babes found no pity in them. They hunted the maids through frozen forests, and fed their dead servants on the flesh of human children.



Now, I think this is dramatize for storytelling purposes, this made me think of two things. The first part refers to the inability of men to push back the Others which might show that whatever will be needed will have to be of a magical nature. Secondly, it made me think about Craster and the sacrifice he gave to the Others of his male sons. Which leads me to question why those who represent death need living children? What is it that these living children provide for them?



“So as cold and death filled the earth, the last hero determined to seek out the children, in the hopes that their ancient magics could win back what the armies of men had lost. He set out into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions.



For years he searched, until he despaired of ever finding the children of the forest in their secret cities. One by one his friends died, and his horse, and finally even his dog, and his sword froze so hard the blade snapped when he tried to use it. And the Others smelled the hot blood in him, and came silent on his trail, stalking him with packs of pale white spiders big as hounds—”




Here GRRM begins to plant the idea/trope of the “one true hero” one man capable of ending the misery and defeating the enemy. However, if we read closely, the Last Hero didn’t push/stop the Others, he supposedly did it with the help of the Children of the Forest. So, this lone hero didn’t really save the day alone at all.



Robb the Lord



“Only Robb and baby Rickon were still here, and Robb was changed. He was Robb the Lord now, or trying to be. He wore a real sword and never smiled.”



Bran’s description of Robb is both reflective and representative of the changes that have taken place since Bran’s fall. Bran’s description of the changes in Robb are somewhat resentful but I don’t think it’s resent of Robb so much as resentment of all the had transpired while Bran was in a coma.



The world had changed around him and he was having a hard time coming to grips with the new world he found himself in. Very few of the things he knew before the fall where the same. This is very tough for children, although resilient, change can be very hard for them.



Of course we later see that Robb is still a boy resending to be a man. At the end of the chapter both Robb and Bran cry for the lost of what they once had.



Guest Rights



“Robb was seated in Father’s high seat, wearing ringmail and boiled leather and the stern face of Robb the Lord… His sword was across his knees, the steel bare for all the world to see. Even Bran knew what it meant to greet a guest with an unsheathed sword.”



Without getting too much into future events I just wanted to touch upon the theme of Guest Rights.



Hospitium is an ancient code regarding the treatment of guest. Guest were believe to be under the protection of the gods and any violation to these guests would incur the wrath of said gods.



In Westeros violation of such rights is considered an abomination, one of the worst transgressions. Those who have violated such rights have had dire consequences to their actions. It’s understandable that this would be important to the Westerosis. As such a large country they would have to have certain rules in order to parlay safely between kingdoms where they were all separate kingdoms. Same goes for separate regions. (Yo Freys! You’re going down!)



Going back to the chapter, Robb’s behavior is understandable given his current situation and who Tyrion is. Robb is under a lot of pressure and stress, he was basically abandoned by both his parents and now must be Lords of Winterfell and a surrogate father to his younger brothers.



After he finds out why Tyrion has come to Winterfell he feels embarrassed of his behavior and offers Tyrion food and shelter, Tyrion, however, declines.



Lions and Gargoyles



Before going down to the hall for dinner Bran takes a brief nap and has a strange dream.



“In his dream he was climbing again, pulling himself up an ancient windowless tower, his fingers forcing themselves between blackened stones, his feet scrabbling for purchase. Higher and higher he climbed, through the clouds and into the night sky…The gargoyles watched him ascend. Their eyes glowed red as hot coals in a brazier. Perhaps once they had been lions, but now they were twisted and grotesque. Bran could hear them whispering to each other in soft stone voices terrible to hear.”



I think this dream is a representation of Bran reprising the memory of what happens. Towards the end of the dream we see that he’s trying to avoid hearing what the gargoyles and talking about, he doesn’t want to know, he’s afraid of knowing.



This shows us that his subconscious has associated listening to what they say with something dangerous, with something to fear. Hearing this means he’ll be in danger. The fear of knowing what he heard might be what is repressing this memory, because hearing it almost killed him.



This is a somewhat typical coping mechanism. He’s associated what he heard with his fall (of course) but the fear of being harmed again might be why he’s subconsciously choosing not to remember what he heard, because he subconsciously fears he’ll be hurt again.



CONCLUSION



An interesting chapter, bot a lot of action but it touches upon important themes throughout the series. We get glimpses of things we’ll see in later chapters wetting our appetite of what’s to come. We also see Bran learning to live with his new reality. His anger and sadness at what has happen to him. He begins the chapter by lashing out at Old Nan, because he needed to direct his anger at something but then later we seem him hold Robb’s hand as they both cry over what has been lost. We also see again Bran’s great ability to observe the world around him. Bran is a complex character and we see a lot of this complexity in this chapter.


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Thanks for the great analysis MOIAF :)

You covered it very well.

On the topic of Bran's life changing after his fall I wanted to add this bit to the Robb part you wrote.

It would never be the way it had been, he knew. The crow had tricked him into flying, but when he woke up he was broken and the world was changed. They had all left him, his father and his mother and his sisters and even his bastard brother Jon. His father had promised he would ride a real horse to King’s Landing, but they’d gone without him. Maester Luwin had sent a bird after Lord Eddard with a message, and another to Mother and a third to Jon on the Wall, but there had been no answers. “Ofttimes the birds are lost, child,” the maester had told him. “There’s many a mile and many a hawk between here and King’s Landing, the message may not have reached them.” Yet to Bran it felt as if they had all died while he had slept…or perhaps Bran had died, and they had forgotten him. Jory and Ser Rodrik and Vayon Poole had gone too, and Hullen and Harwin and Fat Tom and a quarter of the guard.
The theme of death and rebirth is common throughout ASOIAF, with Bran's fall he died metaphorically and was reborn as a new Bran. This quote summarizes well how Bran's old life before his fall is no longer going to be in his new life after the fall.
Other observations I made:
Old Nan's tales
One of the themes in Bran's arc is Old Nan's tales coming back to life, and with that as readers we need to pay attention to her tales and also the way they are told.
I found this quote from this chapter insightful.

Sometimes Old Nan told it one way and sometimes another. In all the stories the little boy died at three of a summer chill, but Old Nan stayed on at Winterfell with her own children.
This quote shows us that there is truth in Old Nan's tales however they aren't always told in the same way, the main point of commonality is the conclusion of said stories. For instance if we look back at Bran II, Old Nan's story is about a boy climbing too high and getting struck by lightning and then he falls, the lightning bit doesn't happen to Bran however, only the conclusion about a boy falling from climbing too high is what occurs.
I believe this will be important later in the story. This is also similar to the way tales are spread throughout westeros, for instance different versions of how one thing occurs but all having similar conclusions.
With the above in mind, I wonder if the story of how Bran the Builder built the wall and winterfell is just another version of the story of the Long Night and how it occured.
When looking at the two:
Thousands and thousands of years ago, Brandon the Builder had raised Winterfell, and some said the Wall.
and then
Thousands and thousands of years ago, a winter fell that was cold and hard and endless beyond all memory of man.
The two tales might be the same and being told in different ways, with the commonality of both occuring "thousands and thousands" of years ago.
This part is a bit crackpot but I think there might be a connection to this strange winter that came and the building of winterfell and the wall.
After all it must be called "winter fell" for a reason. Perhaps thats where the strange winter that caused the Long Night began to fall.

The Others

“Oh, my sweet summer child,” Old Nan said quietly, “what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter , my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods.” “You mean the Others,” Bran said querulously. “The Others,” Old Nan agreed. “Thousands and thousands of years ago, a winter fell that was cold and hard and endless beyond all memory of man. There came a night that lasted a generation, and kings shivered and died in their castles even as the swineherds in their hovels. Women smothered their children rather than see them starve, and cried, and felt their tears freeze on their cheeks.”

When looking at the line of "howling out of the north" GRRM seems to be hinting at the connection of winter and wolves, which might be a nod at the Starks having a connection to "ice"

ETA didn't finsh posting due to time:

Also from this quote

watch. So as cold and death filled the earth, the last hero determined to seek out the children, in the hopes that their ancient magics could win back what the armies of men had lost. He set out into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions. For years he searched, until he despaired of ever finding the children of the forest in their secret cities.
The timeline of this story also seems to show that the CotF had already fled North when the Long Night occurred considering the Last Hero had to search for them. Without jumping ahead this contradicts Maester Luwin's later statement that the Children fled only after the Andals came.
On Old Nan again
“Visitors are not so patient, and ofttimes they bring stories of their own.”
The story brought by the visitor was about Benjen and Bran connected it to the story Old Nan made so I believe the author wants us to also make that connection to what is happening with Benjen.

We discussed in the Dany re-read the idea that the next Long Night would probably last more than a few months and I think we have to consider that perhaps the next Long Night might take a least a few year. GRRM has worked hard in keeping a somewhat realistic timeline, we can imagine then that such a war will not be won so easily.

“In that darkness, the Others came for the first time” … “They were cold things, dead things, that hated iron and fire and the touch of the sun, and every creature with hot blood in its veins.…”

This description is pretty much what we have seen so far in the books regarding the behavior of the Wights and the Others. They seem to be a symbol of death, of entropy and thus we see their army of dead. Another interesting observation is that dragonbone:

“Dragonbone is black because of its high iron content, the book told him. It is strong as steel, yet lighter and far more flexible, and of course utterly impervious to fire.”

Iron and Fire in one being or three actually…

All the swords of men could not stay their advance, and even maidens and suckling babes found no pity in them. They hunted the maids through frozen forests, and fed their dead servants on the flesh of human children.

In terms of Old Nan's story I'm not sure whether she is describing wights or white walkers as the ones having a weakness to fire". The reference of fire being a weakness to wights has been heavily hinted in the series from Sam's POv and Bran's later POV with Leaf, but hasn't been hinted with in terms of the white walkers. And also she describes the the others as corpses and GRRM stated that they are not dead but rather alive.

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Very good analysis! Do not worry about the depth, we can help out with that, I'm sure.

The part about the direwolves really emphasises the points already made. Summer is observant and wary, Grey Wind is fast and strong and Shaggydog has eyes of 'green fire', which underlines Rickon's wildness and (later on) fury, which makes me wonder what we have to expect when we see Rickon again.

The Others

“Oh, my sweet summer child,” Old Nan said quietly, “what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter , my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods.” “You mean the Others,” Bran said querulously. “The Others,” Old Nan agreed. “Thousands and thousands of years ago, a winter fell that was cold and hard and endless beyond all memory of man. There came a night that lasted a generation, and kings shivered and died in their castles even as the swineherds in their hovels. Women smothered their children rather than see them starve, and cried, and felt their tears freeze on their cheeks.”

Regarding the Others, I think the more factual oriented points are fairly accurate. We know that they do fear fire and only come in the darkness. Regarding iron I am not that certain, they seemed to have little enough problems with the steel sword in the prologue. Maybe it needs to be actual iron and not steel or they just do not like it but are not completely vulnerable to it. Or it is a reference to dragonsteel/Valyrian steel, which is effective. The part about the terrors of winter are probably a bit exaggerated, but not by much. The part about their mounts and the walking dead is accurate, the part about feeding their mounts human flesh seems to be mostly dramatisation (I mean, for what would they need food?). It is more likely that they used some kind of blood magic if we want to go down the route that the Others are not that different.

The last hero bit has obvious parallels to Bran. But we do not know what the last hero actually accomplished. Something obviously, or he would not be called the last hero, but we should be careful with assumption about what exactly he did. Other than that: The major point of the story is that the last hero loses everything. His companions/friends, his horse, his dog and then even his sword. That does not bode well for Bran and the people around him. By ADwD he already lost the use of his legs, his family, everything he knew from childhood, especially Luwin, who as a bit of a surrogate father for him. Maybe that will be all, but probably not. (Do Summer, Hodor and the Reeds really have to die? Don't kill them off as well... please? Damn.)

Lions and Gargoyles

Before going down to the hall for dinner Bran takes a brief nap and has a strange dream.

“In his dream he was climbing again, pulling himself up an ancient windowless tower, his fingers forcing themselves between blackened stones, his feet scrabbling for purchase. Higher and higher he climbed, through the clouds and into the night sky…The gargoyles watched him ascend. Their eyes glowed red as hot coals in a brazier. Perhaps once they had been lions, but now they were twisted and grotesque. Bran could hear them whispering to each other in soft stone voices terrible to hear.”

I think this dream is a representation of Bran reprising the memory of what happens. Towards the end of the dream we see that he’s trying to avoid hearing what the gargoyles and talking about, he doesn’t want to know, he’s afraid of knowing.

This shows us that his subconscious has associated listening to what they say with something dangerous, with something to fear. Hearing this means he’ll be in danger. The fear of knowing what he heard might be what is repressing this memory, because hearing it almost killed him.

This is a somewhat typical coping mechanism. He’s associated what he heard with his fall (of course) but the fear of being harmed again might be why he’s subconsciously choosing not to remember what he heard, because he subconsciously fears he’ll be hurt again.

I agree, it is definitely a representation of the events that led to his fall. The tower represents the climb, the gargoyles are related to lions, or Lannisters, and their whispering stands for the discussion Jaime and Cersei were having. The tower is windowless, but he listened through a window, so the actual conversation is still far away. The gargoyles can move, so he may never reach them or they could reach him, what adds to the uncertainty and fear he was feeling. And the longer the dream goes on, the closer he comes to remembering, the gargoyles finally walk to him and the brain pulls the emergency brake. As is common with traumas: The coping mechanism is not helping Bran.

It may have another meaning. The tower reaches far into the clouds, he climbs higher and higher. The gargoyles are outlined against the moon. All of those images have an arcane implication, especially the gargoyles whispering things 'terrible to hear' which is similar to the phrase 'It had three eyes, and the third eye was full of a terrible knowledge.' in the last chapter, also in a dream. (Why always terrible knowledge? Why can't there be nice and uplifting arcane knowledge?) Not wanting to hear it could be detrimental to Bran mastering his powers. That is just one interpreation, maybe it doesn't apply here, but what the dream accomplishes in any case is that Bran is afraid of dreaming, and that cannot possibly a good thing regarding Bran becoming a greenseer (and his mental health in general). This is one side effect caused the three-eyed crow suppressing the events, good job! This point will also come up in later chapters.

Another interesting note is about the story of Bran the Builder. Bran says that it never was his favorite story, but much of his story arc (and the series in general) is about how you do not necessarily get what you want and need to settle with something else. This could be a foreshadowing that Bran will have a 'Builder'-role in the future.

It would never be the way it had been, he knew. The crow had tricked him into flying, but when he woke up he was broken and the world was changed. They had all left him, his father and his mother and his sisters and even his bastard brother Jon. His father had promised he would ride a real horse to King’s Landing, but they’d gone without him. Maester Luwin had sent a bird after Lord Eddard with a message, and another to Mother and a third to Jon on the Wall, but there had been no answers. “Ofttimes the birds are lost, child,” the maester had told him. “There’s many a mile and many a hawk between here and King’s Landing, the message may not have reached them.” Yet to Bran it felt as if they had all died while he had slept…or perhaps Bran had died, and they had forgotten him. Jory and Ser Rodrik and Vayon Poole had gone too, and Hullen and Harwin and Fat Tom and a quarter of the guard.
The theme of death and rebirth is common throughout ASOIAF, with Bran's fall he died metaphorically and was reborn as a new Bran. This quote summarizes well how Bran's old life before his fall is no longer going to be in his new life after the fall.

I would put it more cynically: This is about his life before he broke and barely recovered. When his life was whole. It is about what he lost. He lost the use of his legs, his ability to climb and to ride. He lost his parents and every sibling he could talk to. Rickon is too young and Robb is too concerned with living up to his role as lord of Winterfell. He also lost many of the other people he knew at Winterfell. Furthermore he is disappointed that he cannot fly, probably taking it too literally, and thinks the crow lied to him. He is sad, frustrated, angry and bitter. He wants his old life back. That is why he snaps at Old Nan and thinks 'spitefully' of her. She is the person who is around him the most after he woke up and so he unleashes his frustation on her. But he is not completely swallowed by his bitterness, since he still ends up listening to her story and even being upset when Luwin and Hodor interrupt him.

He is also not in denial: It would never be the way it had been, he knew. The crow had tricked him into flying, but when he woke up he was broken and the world was changed. So he at least acknowledges that this is the situation he is in and that it is not going to change back. But he does not see the whole picture. That becomes evident when he has his encounter with Tyrion:

"Nonsense," said Lannister. "With the right horse and the right saddle, even a cripple can ride."

The word was a knife through Bran's heart. He felt tears come unbidden to his eyes. "I'm not a cripple!"

"Then I'm not a dwarf," the dwarf said with a twist of his mouth. "My father will rejoice to hear it."

He realises what position he is in, what he can and cannot do, but he did not realise, up until this point, what category that puts him in. He is a cripple. That is not the kind of person who is a hero in the kind of story Bran knows (but thankfully a kind of person who can be heroic in the kind of story we are reading). Cripples have one designated part in those stories: People to be protected by the hero along with children, women and old people (no, they are not equal opportunity stories). And a cripple is what many (but not all) other people will see when they see him. Maybe they will treat him with kindness, but even when they are doing that they will partially reduce him to that attribute. The kind of person other people will maybe pity, maybe despise, but never admire. And that are the implications that this word, this category, brings with it. To put it in Tyrion's words: Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not.

I wish I could say that is not an issue anymore nowadays: I cannot.

At the time of this chapter Bran is somewhere between 'realising the situation' and 'facing the situation'.

As a side note: Bran still insists that he never falls. In a way he is right, in another way wrong. It could be a sign that he still has a feeling of what happened and what not or that he is a bit in denial regarding this point. But in any case it is a fundamental part of his self image: He is a good climber and he never falls. It is an ability he still takes pride in, even if he cannot do it anymore.

As a last point: Since this is the first chapter where Luwin is interacting with Bran actively, some observations:

Luwin is polite, but stern when speaking with Bran. He will not take 'no' for an answer when something is expected from Bran.

Maester Luwin was not smiling. "We have visitors," he announced, "and your presence is required, Bran."

He announces, he does not ask him to come down, he tells him to do so.

He calls him 'Bran' and refers to him while talking to others (Tyrion in this case) as 'child', which tells us about his view on Bran: He is his charge and he is responsible for teaching him, but still a child and treated according to that. (which does not mean that he is rude or does not care for him, more the opposite)

This also clashes with Bran's self image in that he sees himelf as old enough that he does not count as a child anymore:

Angry at the thought, Bran knuckled away his tears before they could fall. His eight name day had come and gone. He was almost a man grown now, too old to cry.

Keep an eye for similar phrases in future chapters. There will be a couple.

Lastly we see his secular attitude regarding magic here (even before that in a Catelyn chapter, I think), thinking of magic and the Children of the Forest as long gone, something of a past era. That will obviously be relevant for future chapters.

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Good job, MoIAF

I agree regarding the direwolves, they simply sensed their masters' mistrust of Tyrion.

Robb, however, behaved rashly when dealing with Tyrion. Tyrion was unarmed, and he did nothing. He is still has some growing up to do.

"Bran, the children of the forest have been dead and gone for thousands of years. All that is left of them are the faces in the trees."

"Down here, might be that's true, Maester," Yoren said, "but up past the Wall, who's to say? Up there, a man can't always tell what's alive and what's dead."

Foreshadowing for the reveal of the CotF


watch. So as cold and death filled the earth, the last hero determined to seek out the children, in the hopes that their ancient magics could win back what the armies of men had lost. He set out into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions. For years he searched, until he despaired of ever finding the children of the forest in their secret cities.
The timeline of this story also seems to show that the CotF had already fled North when the Long Night occurred considering the Last Hero had to search for them. Without jumping ahead this contradicts Maester Luwin's later statement that the Children fled only after the Andals came.

Interesting observation, if the CotF were still dwelling in the tree towns and caves throughout Westeros than the last hero would have had little trouble finding them.

Could the CotF cave be the same one where the last hero came?


With the above in mind, I wonder if the story of how Bran the Builder built the wall and winterfell is just another version of the story of the Long Night and how it occured.
When looking at the two:
Thousands and thousands of years ago, Brandon the Builder had raised Winterfell, and some said the Wall.
and then
Thousands and thousands of years ago, a winter fell that was cold and hard and endless beyond all memory of man.
The two tales might be the same and being told in different ways, with the commonality of both occuring "thousands and thousands" of years ago.
This part is a bit crackpot but I think there might be a connection to this strange winter that came and the building of winterfell and the wall.
After all it must be called "winter fell" for a reason. Perhaps thats where the strange winter that caused the Long Night began to fall.

When looking at the line of "howling out of the north" GRRM seems to be hinting at the connection of winter and wolves, which might be a nod at the Starks having a connection to "ice"

I think there is a connection: Brandon the Builder was the last hero. I think the story of the last hero is part one, and the story of Bran the Builder is part two of the character's history.

Maester Childer's Winter Knights, or the Legends and Lineage of the Starks of Winterfell, contains a part of a ballad alleged to tell of the time that Brandon the Builder sought the aid of the children of the forest in raising the Wall. He was taken to a secret place to meet with them

There is a connection with both characters, Bran the Builder and the last hero, visiting the CotF.

Winterfell could have been the site of the Battle for Dawn, and the name commemorates the victory.

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(Sorry, not a thorough as I wanted it to be, but I hope it's still useful ) :)

Bran IV - AGOT

“Oh, my Sweet Summer Child

As usual, everything you write is top notch! Well done, MOIAF!

We get an idea about how long Old Nan must have been in Winterfell. If she was indeed there to take care of Lord Rickon’s father’s younger brother she would be at least pass 100 years old.

I would put her at min. of 100, but I tend to think older.

Firstly, I would say that I don’t believe this has any bearing on future events, that is I don’t believe that the direwolves are sensing that Tyrion will be a threat (present or future) to the Stark children.

Agreed.

Which leads me to question why those who represent death need living children? What is it that these living children provide for them?

If the Others truly hate all manner of life and living things, then I think it's safe to say that they have no way to reproduce--child birth being the ultimate expression of life. Mothers are probably rare if they exist at all in Other-ville and I can't help but ponder if in Other-culture there is some sort of taboo on the idea of motherhood. (*Looks over at Essos and Dany.* How you doing, kid? Get to Westeros soon, okay?)

However all races to continue onward. It is one of the basic tenants of all life on earth, the drive to make more of yourself in order to survive. Whatever is going on with those kids...I don't think it's sunshines and daises. I'm not one of the people who thinks that the children of Craster ARE the Others, but I do wonder if there is some icy magic going on with them.

Spoiler from the show: but something is being done to them at least on the show. Take it with a lot of salt, though because I don't know how much to trust the show on this

Here GRRM begins to plant the idea/trope of the “one true hero” one man capable of ending the misery and defeating the enemy. However, if we read closely, the Last Hero didn’t push/stop the Others, he supposedly did it with the help of the Children of the Forest. So, this lone hero didn’t really save the day alone at all.

In regards to the idea of "one true hero" I agree about 100000000000000000000000%. Whenever I see someone suggest that there is only one true hero in this saga, I tend to growl and type furiously.

I think we need to look at the idea of a hero, though. I'm probably going to say this a lot, and I think I may have said it already...but cultures choose their heroes. They decide what qualities are heroic and which people qualify. So Culture A might have Hero X but culture B does not think hero X is a hero. The word hero is LOADED but it's an utterly subjective word.

The fact that this last Hero is being named a Stark and is a story told by Starks and their retainers needs to be remembered because it begs the sort of question of what would the Starks of ye olden days think of as "hero." And maybe more importantly, how did the story change in order to suit the idea of heroism? There was a great line in the world book about how singers would change the songs to fit the holdfast at which they were staying. The bare bones are there, but the details are nunaced so that you don't offend your host.

I'll relate this to the Last Hero. The Last Hero is a Stark, or so I believe. And I think his name was Brandon the Builder. However, I think that over time the true story of what BtB did has gotten wrapped up in the idea of heroism so that the historical events have become obscured. Let's talk about that famous break in Old Nan's story. Interruptions in stories are hugely important. They signal when the author isn't ready for his audience to learn "a thing." For example: Barristan is often interrupted just when he's about to maybe tell Dany something about her family that is crucial to her understanding of who her family really was (we talked about this in Dany re-read). Why is this important? Well from a character development standpoint, GRRM isn't ready for Dany to hear those things, so it gets interrupted and delayed.

With regards to the Last Hero, there is a huge break and it's of mythic importance. If this were any other saga, I would know exactly how the story of the LH would end. Somehow, against all odds, the LH rose up and defeated the Others. It was a divine miracle because heroes always win.

That's not this story. Now maybe Old Nan's story IS that, but I really doubt that rendition is the historically accurate telling. I think the Last Hero made a bargain. Some sort of deal with the Others and the COTF. A blood pact, perhaps. As for what all that entailed...well, I gotta wait for a long time in the re-read to bring this back up. So until then...

Lions and Gargoyles

After my own analysis for Bran II, I noticed the HECK out of those gargoyles in this chapter.

This is a somewhat typical coping mechanism. He’s associated what he heard with his fall (of course) but the fear of being harmed again might be why he’s subconsciously choosing not to remember what he heard, because he subconsciously fears he’ll be hurt again.

I'll be talking a bit about repressed memories in my next chapter, but yes I agree with you. Bran begins to divide his own life into "before" and "now." Everything that could be done by him was BEFORE. He can't even bring himself to think of it as a fall or accident. It's probably the biggest moment in his life and he can't even think about it.

Thousands and thousands of years ago, Brandon the Builder had raised Winterfell, and some said the Wall.
and then
Thousands and thousands of years ago, a winter fell that was cold and hard and endless beyond all memory of man.
The two tales might be the same and being told in different ways, with the commonality of both occuring "thousands and thousands" of years ago.
This part is a bit crackpot but I think there might be a connection to this strange winter that came and the building of winterfell and the wall.
After all it must be called "winter fell" for a reason. Perhaps thats where the strange winter that caused the Long Night began to fall.

So I agree that the name Winterfell is really important, though I go back and forth over what. If you break it down there are two options that I see.

1) Winter---Ended. As in, this is the place that Winter fell (ended)

2) Winter---came. As in this is the place that Winter fell (came) for the first time.

In Cat I, Cat thinks about how strange the Stark words are because unlike other families they seem almost out of place. But I think they serve a different purpose: they are like a threat. They aren't reminding the world that winter eventually comes, but rather "we (winter) are coming for you." Reminder that the Kings in the North were once the Kings of WINTER. The rightful rulers of ice and snow and cold winds and everything that we associate with winter. The KoW did not fear winter, they embraced it, they lived in it. It made the Starks who they are. With that it mind, I tend to lean toward the 2 above option about the naming of Winterfell.

Illuminated by Fire wrote

Regarding the Others, I think the more factual oriented points are fairly accurate. We know that they do fear fire and only come in the darkness. Regarding iron I am not that certain, they seemed to have little enough problems with the steel sword in the prologue. Maybe it needs to be actual iron and not steel or they just do not like it but are not completely vulnerable to it. Or it is a reference to dragonsteel/Valyrian steel, which is effective. The part about the terrors of winter are probably a bit exaggerated, but not by much. The part about their mounts and the walking dead is accurate, the part about feeding their mounts human flesh seems to be mostly dramatisation (I mean, for what would they need food?). It is more likely that they used some kind of blood magic if we want to go down the route that the Others are not that different.

I also think that the factual points are accurate--but my question is the why. No one--not even the Others--hate things simply to hate it. There are normally some sort of cultural understandings, myths, stories, legends, what have you about WHY these things are taboo.

The last hero bit has obvious parallels to Bran. But we do not know what the last hero actually accomplished. Something obviously, or he would not be called the last hero, but we should be careful with assumption about what exactly he did. Other than that: The major point of the story is that the last hero loses everything. His companions/friends, his horse, his dog and then even his sword. That does not bode well for Bran and the people around him. By ADwD he already lost the use of his legs, his family, everything he knew from childhood, especially Luwin, who as a bit of a surrogate father for him. Maybe that will be all, but probably not. (Do Summer, Hodor and the Reeds really have to die? Don't kill them off as well... please? Damn.)

I would say more than obvious parallels. I think Bran IS the LH 2.0

And again, I urge caution about adopting the word hero strictly because we don't know the cultural connotations that are latched on to that, though I think you're agreeing with me.

And yeaaaaaaaah, sorry. I think all those companions are going to die. Think about it, what does the LH set out with?

A sword: Meera and her spear

A horse: Hodor

A dog: Summer, obviously

Dozen companions: Bran has one other companion and uh...*runs away from Jojen fan #1*

Misc Notes

1. I think it's become a little obvious that I have a different view point when it comes to champions than some others in this re-read so I'm not going to harp but I just want to say that with BtB = The LH, I also think that LH is just shorthand for "ice champion" and if the Others truly are beings of ice and snow and Winter (again, that Stark word) then I do think that Bran's role in the future is not exactly one that puts him in line with everyone else. And yes, I see the "sweet summer child" as irony

2. Ice spiders are frikkin evil. Let's avoid those!

3. We finally meet Old Nan. Awesome, she is. But I really need to know why she thinks all crows are liars, and what her story about the crow is.

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Thanks for the great analysis MOIAF :)

You covered it very well.

Thanks! :D

The theme of death and rebirth is common throughout ASOIAF, with Bran's fall he died metaphorically and was reborn as a new Bran. This quote summarizes well how Bran's old life before his fall is no longer going to be in his new life after the fall.

Agree. It's about both death and rebirth but also about growing up. Change is hard but inevitable and most of the time outside of our control. You sometimes have to let go of what life use to be like and embrace what life can be like.

With the above in mind, I wonder if the story of how Bran the Builder built the wall and winterfell is just another version of the story of the Long Night and how it occured.

When looking at the two:
Thousands and thousands of years ago, Brandon the Builder had raised Winterfell, and some said the Wall.
and then
Thousands and thousands of years ago, a winter fell that was cold and hard and endless beyond all memory of man.
The two tales might be the same and being told in different ways, with the commonality of both occuring "thousands and thousands" of years ago.
This part is a bit crackpot but I think there might be a connection to this strange winter that came and the building of winterfell and the wall.
After all it must be called "winter fell" for a reason. Perhaps thats where the strange winter that caused the Long Night began to fall.

I'm unsure as well about the true meaning, however, I lean towards it being the fall of Winter simply because how Winterfell is built. It's probably the only castle in Westeros built to withstand an extended winter. As we learned in Bran II it's wall are pump with hot water from the hot springs that sit below the castle. That and the hot houses that are also warmed by the hot springs, it can probably sustain itself for quite some time, what other castles and people freeze to death or starve.

In terms of Old Nan's story I'm not sure whether she is describing wights or white walkers as the ones having a weakness to fire". The reference of fire being a weakness to wights has been heavily hinted in the series from Sam's POv and Bran's later POV with Leaf, but hasn't been hinted with in terms of the white walkers. And also she describes the the others as corpses and GRRM stated that they are not dead but rather alive.

Hmm, well we know regular fire is nothing to the Others, however, "fire from iron" i.e. dragons might be a different story. Of course there are thousands of Wights and only three dragons so that's not going to be easy. :P

Very good analysis! Do not worry about the depth, we can help out with that, I'm sure.

Thank you! ;)

The last hero bit has obvious parallels to Bran. But we do not know what the last hero actually accomplished. Something obviously, or he would not be called the last hero, but we should be careful with assumption about what exactly he did. Other than that: The major point of the story is that the last hero loses everything. His companions/friends, his horse, his dog and then even his sword. That does not bode well for Bran and the people around him. By ADwD he already lost the use of his legs, his family, everything he knew from childhood, especially Luwin, who as a bit of a surrogate father for him. Maybe that will be all, but probably not. (Do Summer, Hodor and the Reeds really have to die? Don't kill them off as well... please? Damn.)

This made me think about Jon's fiery sword dream:

"He stood atop the Wall, alone... They are all gone. They have abandoned me.

As the dead men reached the top of the Wall he sent them down to die again. He slew a greybeard and a beardless boy, a giant, a gaunt man with filed teeth, a girl with thick red hair. Too late he recognized Ygritte . She was gone as quick as she’d appeared.

The world dissolved into a red mist. Jon stabbed and slashed and cut. He hacked down Donal Noye and gutted Deaf Dick Follard. Qhorin Halfhand stumbled to his knees, trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood from his neck. “I am the Lord of Winterfell,” Jon screamed. It was Robb before him now, his hair wet with melting snow. Longclaw took his head off."

Lover, friends, and family all gone, people he needed to let go in order to continue to fight.

And Dany's fevered dream:

"Her son was tall and proud, with Drogo’s copper skin and her own silver-gold hair, violet eyes shaped like almonds. And he smiled for her and began to lift his hand toward hers, but when he opened his mouth the fire poured out. She saw his heart burning through his chest, and in an instant he was gone, consumed like a moth by a candle, turned to ash. She wept for her child, the promise of a sweet mouth on her breast, but her tears turned to steam as they touched her skin.

...

Drogo held her in strong arms, and his hand stroked her sex and opened her and woke that sweet wetness that was his alone, and the stars smiled down on them, stars in a daylight sky. “Home,” she whispered as he entered her and filled her with his seed, but suddenly the stars were gone, and across the blue sky swept the great wings, and the world took flame.

...

Ser Jorah’s face was drawn and sorrowful. “Rhaegar was the last dragon,” he told her. He warmed translucent hands over a glowing brazier where stone eggs smouldered red as coals . One moment he was there and the next he was fading, his flesh colorless, less substantial than the wind. “The last dragon,” he whispered, thin as a wisp, and was gone.

...

Ghosts lined the hallway, dressed in the faded raiment of kings. In their hands were swords of pale fire. They had hair of silver and hair of gold and hair of platinum white, and their eyes were opal and amethyst, tourmaline and jade..."

Again, family, friends, loved ones all gone, only ghosts remain. She's all alone in this dream running towards a goal, only she along can accomplish.

It's a theme of having to lose everything in order to achieve something.

Good job, MoIAF

Thanks! :)

I agree regarding the direwolves, they simply sensed their masters' mistrust of Tyrion.

Robb, however, behaved rashly when dealing with Tyrion. Tyrion was unarmed, and he did nothing. He is still has some growing up to do.

Agree.

Maester Childer's Winter Knights, or the Legends and Lineage of the Starks of Winterfell, contains a part of a ballad alleged to tell of the time that Brandon the Builder sought the aid of the children of the forest in raising the Wall. He was taken to a secret place to meet with them

There is a connection with both characters, Bran the Builder and the last hero, visiting the CotF.

Winterfell could have been the site of the Battle for Dawn, and the name commemorates the victory.

As I said above, I think this is probably the likeliest meaning of the name.

As usual, everything you write is top notch! Well done, MOIAF!

Thank you very much! :D

If the Others truly hate all manner of life and living things, then I think it's safe to say that they have no way to reproduce--child birth being the ultimate expression of life. Mothers are probably rare if they exist at all in Other-ville and I can't help but ponder if in Other-culture there is some sort of taboo on the idea of motherhood. (*Looks over at Essos and Dany.* How you doing, kid? Get to Westeros soon, okay?)

However all races to continue onward. It is one of the basic tenants of all life on earth, the drive to make more of yourself in order to survive. Whatever is going on with those kids...I don't think it's sunshines and daises. I'm not one of the people who thinks that the children of Craster ARE the Others, but I do wonder if there is some icy magic going on with them

This makes a lot of sense. We really don't know how long they live or if they are immortals. However, they probably are not immortals but can live for a very long time. However, the would need to "replenish" their ranks. We know that Sam killed one whose to say that some Wildings have gotten lucky (throughout time) and killed others. They would need to replace those who were lost.

...to be continued.

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In regards to the idea of "one true hero" I agree about 100000000000000000000000%. Whenever I see someone suggest that there is only one true hero in this saga, I tend to growl and type furiously.

I think we need to look at the idea of a hero, though. I'm probably going to say this a lot, and I think I may have said it already...but cultures choose their heroes. They decide what qualities are heroic and which people qualify. So Culture A might have Hero X but culture B does not think hero X is a hero. The word hero is LOADED but it's an utterly subjective word.

The fact that this last Hero is being named a Stark and is a story told by Starks and their retainers needs to be remembered because it begs the sort of question of what would the Starks of ye olden days think of as "hero." And maybe more importantly, how did the story change in order to suit the idea of heroism? There was a great line in the world book about how singers would change the songs to fit the holdfast at which they were staying. The bare bones are there, but the details are nunaced so that you don't offend your host.

I'll relate this to the Last Hero. The Last Hero is a Stark, or so I believe. And I think his name was Brandon the Builder. However, I think that over time the true story of what BtB did has gotten wrapped up in the idea of heroism so that the historical events have become obscured. Let's talk about that famous break in Old Nan's story. Interruptions in stories are hugely important. They signal when the author isn't ready for his audience to learn "a thing." For example: Barristan is often interrupted just when he's about to maybe tell Dany something about her family that is crucial to her understanding of who her family really was (we talked about this in Dany re-read). Why is this important? Well from a character development standpoint, GRRM isn't ready for Dany to hear those things, so it gets interrupted and delayed.

With regards to the Last Hero, there is a huge break and it's of mythic importance. If this were any other saga, I would know exactly how the story of the LH would end. Somehow, against all odds, the LH rose up and defeated the Others. It was a divine miracle because heroes always win.

That's not this story. Now maybe Old Nan's story IS that, but I really doubt that rendition is the historically accurate telling. I think the Last Hero made a bargain. Some sort of deal with the Others and the COTF. A blood pact, perhaps. As for what all that entailed...well, I gotta wait for a long time in the re-read to bring this back up. So until then...

Agreed about cultures attributing their heroes with their own cultural values. That is even if The Last Hero, Azur Ahai, The Prince That Was Promised, etc. began as the same hero each culture took it upon themselves to create their hero mythology. Now, after thousands of years this original hero would not fit in with many of the cultural values of difference society and thus not be their "one true hero".

I also agree with your thinking that what the original Starks (Northerners) would consider a hero might not fit in with what is currently considered a hero.

Going back to something I said last week, I believe that our current group of heroes will be force to do things that might not be considered very heroic in order to fight their wars. These personal sacrifices of their morality, will probably be "clean up" by time in order to make their deeds as clean and "heroic" as possible.

I also think that the factual points are accurate--but my question is the why. No one--not even the Others--hate things simply to hate it. There are normally some sort of cultural understandings, myths, stories, legends, what have you about WHY these things are taboo.

I think it will be Bran who will be able to show us the why of the Others actions. I think he might be very conflicted about the struggle between the Others and the humans, however, he will eventually tell the humans how to defeat the Others (or push them back), but it won't feel good. The ability to see what was and what is, is as much a gift as it is a curse. It's the human heart in conflict with itself, a recurring theme in the series.

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