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Jojen Paste

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It's been a while since we've had a good Jojen paste discussion, eh? Here are a few thoughts I had as I read Bran I, Storm 9 for the umpteenth time...

Even earlier though, before the Reedlings arrived at Winterfell, Jojen had seen his death . . .

Quote

"He won't hurt me. This is not the day I die."

Bran III, Clash 21

But has he told Meera at this point?

After Bran, Hodor and the Reedlings depart the ruin of Winterfell, they stop at “Tumbledown Tower” deep within the Wolfswood. Meera is perfectly happy to remain there indefinitely, but not Jojen . . .

Quote

"Come the morrow," Jojen announced, "we had best move on."

Bran could see Meera tense. "Have you had a green dream?"

"No," he admitted.

"Why leave, then?" his sister demanded. "Tumbledown Tower's a good place for us. No villages near, the woods are full of game, there's fish and frogs in the streams and lakes . . . and who is ever going to find us here?"

"This is not the place we are meant to be."

"It is safe, though."

Bran I, Storm 9

Notice that Meera does not want to leave because she believes they are in a safe place. So the reader can infer she believes that the alternative is not safe.

Quote

"We have plowed this field before," his sister said. "You want to make for the Wall, and your three-eyed crow. That's well and good, but the Wall is a very long way and Bran has no legs but Hodor. If we were mounted . . . "

Bran I, Storm 9

Here we see that Jojen has already told Meera that they must travel beyond the Wall to the three-eyed crow, and she seems urgent to change Jojen’s mind. But Jojen remains steadfast . . .

Quote

Jojen went to the fire to prod the embers with a stick. "Somewhere to the north, the three-eyed crow awaits us. Bran has need of a teacher wiser than me."

Bran I, Storm 9

Finally, Meera relents and suggests that Prince Bran should decide . . .

Quote

Meera took Bran by the hand. "If we stay here, troubling no one, you'll be safe until the war ends. You will not learn, though, except what my brother can teach you, and you've heard what he says. If we leave this place to seek refuge at Last Hearth or beyond the Wall, we risk being taken. You are only a boy, I know, but you are our prince as well, our lord's son and our king's true heir. We have sworn you our faith by earth and water, bronze and iron, ice and fire. The risk is yours, Bran, as is the gift. The choice should be yours too, I think. We are your servants to command." She grinned. "At least in this."

"You mean," Bran said, "you'll do what I say? Truly?"

"Truly, my prince," the girl replied, "so consider well."

Bran I, Storm 9

Once they were beyond the Wall with Coldhands, Bran noted that Meera always followed her brother’s lead despite any misgivings she might have had . . .

Quote

Even so, Meera always listened to him.

Bran I, Dance 4

Then, in the cave of the three-eyed crow . . .

Quote

"What will I know?" Bran asked the Reeds afterward, when they came with torches burning brightly in their hand, to carry him back to a small chamber off the big cavern where the singers had made beds for them to sleep. "What do the trees remember?"

"The secrets of the old gods," said Jojen Reed. Food and fire and rest had helped restore him after the ordeals of their journey, but he seemed sadder now, sullen, with a weary, haunted look about the eyes. "Truths the First Men knew, forgotten now in Winterfell … but not in the wet wild. We live closer to the green in our bogs and crannogs, and we remember. Earth and water, soil and stone, oaks and elms and willows, they were here before us all and will still remain when we are gone."

"So will you," said Meera. That made Bran sad. What if I don' t want to remain when you are gone? he almost asked, but he swallowed the words unspoken. He was almost a man grown, and he did not want Meera to think he was some weepy babe. "Maybe you could be greenseers too," he said instead.

"No, Bran." Now Meera sounded sad.

"It is given to a few to drink of that green fountain whilst still in mortal flesh, to hear the whisperings of the leaves and see as the trees see, as the gods see," said Jojen. "Most are not so blessed. The gods gave me only greendreams. My task was to get you here. My part in this is done."

Bran III, Dance 34

Meera tells Bran that he will live on as a greenseer after she and her brother have died. Now, by itself, she could mean after they have lived their full mortal span, but when Bran suggests that maybe the Reedlings could be greenseers too, she says no, and sounds sad. So, why was she sad? Was it because she could not be with her prince? Or was it because she knew her brother could not live on as a greenseer? Sure enough, Jojen adds that he is not blessed to be a greenseer, that his task was to get him there, and that his part was done. But was it truly done, completely? 

As the days passed and Bloodraven began his tutelage, “Jojen brooded, Meera fretted, and Hodor wandered through dark tunnels with a sword in his right hand and a torch in his left.” Why was Jojen brooding, and why was Meera fretting? Perhaps we get the answer the very next time they appear, Jojen explains . . .

Quote

“When singers die they become part of that godhood."

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

"No," Meera said. "Jojen, you're scaring him."

"He is not the one who needs to be afraid."

Bran III, Dance 34

Isn’t the natural inference that Jojen is brooding about his death? He tells his sister that Bran isn’t the one who should be afraid of them killing him, suggesting that some other person should be afraid of them killing him.

A little later, we see Meera and Jojen one last time before they feed Bran the paste . . .

Quote

"He wants to go home," Meera told Bran. "He will not even try and fight his fate. He says the greendreams do not lie."

"He's being brave," said Bran. The only time a man can be brave is when he is afraid, his father had told him once, long ago, on the day they found the direwolf pups in the summer snows. He still remembered.

"He's being stupid," Meera said. "I'd hoped that when we found your three-eyed crow . . . now I wonder why we ever came."

For me, Bran thought. "His greendreams," he said.

"His greendreams." Meera's voice was bitter.

"Hodor," said Hodor.

Meera began to cry.

Bran III, Dance 34

Now, some read that passage as Meera telling Bran that Jojen has seen his death at home in the Neck, and that she is mad because he wants to return home where he will surely die. Others read that passage as Meera telling Bran that Jojen wants to go home, but he knows he never will, and he refuses to fight his fate. I suppose either interpretation is fair based on the wording of that first sentence alone. But what’s the point of her next statement? Is she saying that she hoped that when they found the three-eyed crow, Jojen would choose to stay rather than go home and face certain death? If so, then why did she want to remain at Tumbledown Tower? Or maybe she hoped that the three-eyed crow might help her brother avoid the fate that he saw in the greendream foretelling his fate? Why is she so bitter about escorting Bran to the Three-eyed crow if Jojen’s fate is waiting for him in the Neck? Doesn’t it make so much more sense to assume that his fate is now given that his part is done?

ETA

This appears to help foreshadow or setup Theon's capture of Winterfell...

Quote

"My brother has the greensight," said Meera. "He dreams things that haven't happened, but they do."

"There is no sometimes Meera." A look passed between them; him sad, her defiant." 

Bran IV, Clash 28

But with hindsight, it looks like Jojen's sadness could be related to the knowledge of his fate, and Meera's defiance could be related to her refusal to accept Jojen's fate. 

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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This may be a bigger reach than the Tyrells' kingdom, but what if "home" in the last quote means going into the weirnet or into the unconscious of living things or even back to the Neck in another form, as a bird or a tree, or whatever New Age bullshit Jojen's always going on about?

In any case, that line remains the biggest evidence against Jojenpaste, I think, even with the most convincing pieces like:

Quote

"He had never felt more like a cripple than he did then, watching helplessly as Meera Reed and Coldhands butchered the brave beast who had carried them so far. He told himself he would not eat, that it was better to go hungry than to feast upon a friend, but in the end he’d eaten twice, once in his own skin and once in Summer’s."

There's also the fact that Bran begins and ends Dance consuming the flesh or/and of blood of men, first as Summer feasting on humans, then when Coldhands feeds them the meat of the NW deserters and tells them it's pork, and finally when he tastes the blood of the sacrificed man through the Weirdvine:

Quote

And through the mist of centuries the broken boy could only watch as the man’s feet drummed against the earth … but as his life flowed out of him in a red tide, Brandon Stark could taste the blood

So that's a clear recurring motif. And I don't know about you guys, but that last line seems to me like a relatively direct way of saying that a similar sacrifice had just been made, now with Jojen as the victim. 

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Personally I interpret the line about how Jojen wants to go home to indicate that he dies on the trip back.  Though I'm of the opinion that Jojen isn't the only one who will die and that Meera and Hodor won't survive either.  All of them were just a means to get Bran to where he needed to be, and now that their part is done.  While Meera is primarily sad about her younger brother dying, I wouldn't be surprised if both her and Jojen know that their quest was ultimately a tragic one.  That none of them are going to return home.

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@Lost Melnibonean, what amazes me is that you and most others have neglected the most outstanding foreshadowing of Jojen paste: Jojen in a wooden bole.

I posted this on reddit a while back, so I'm just going to copt and paste, you're going to like this:

Does Jojen past come in a wooden bowl? 

Yes, it does. 

The three-eyed crow, thought Bran. The greenseer. “It’s not so far,” he said. “A little climb, and we’ll be safe. Maybe we can have a fire.” All of them were cold and wet and hungry, except the ranger, and Jojen Reed was too weak to walk unaided. 

“You go.” Meera Reed bent down beside her brother. He was settled in the bole of an oak, eyes closed, shivering violently. What little of his face could be seen beneath his hood and scarf was as colorless as the surrounding snow, but breath still puffed faintly from his nostrils whenever he exhaled. Meera had been carrying him all day. Food and fire will set him right again, Bran tried to tell himself, though he wasn’t sure it would.

So, foreshadowing of Jojen's death... a pale, colorless frog in a wooden bole... and something about a white face... 

She had a weirwood bowl in her hands, carved with a dozen faces, like the ones the heart trees wore. Inside was a white paste, thick and heavy, with dark red veins running through it.

DUN DUN DUN!!

One paragraph before the one about the weirwood paste, we get a clear death foreshadowing:

The moon was a crescent, thin and sharp as the blade of a knife.

Which matches the human sacrifice to the weirwood that Bran sees at the end of this chapter:

Then, as he watched, a bearded man forced a captive down onto his knees before the heart tree. A white-haired woman stepped toward them through a drift of dark red leaves, a bronze sickle in her hand. “No,” said Bran, “no, don’t,” but they could not hear him, no more than his father had. The woman grabbed the captive by the hair, hooked the sickleround his throat, and slashed. And through the mist of centuries the broken boy could only watch as the man’s feet drummed against the earth … but as his life flowed out of him in a red tide, Brandon Stark could taste the blood.

Note that human sacrifice to a weirwood tree by sickle leads to Bran drinking human blood. 

Poor Bran doesn't like frogs but he eats them anyway.

“Meera will be back soon with supper.” 

“I’m sick of frogs.” Meera was a frogeater from the Neck, so Bran couldn’t really blame her for catching so many frogs, he supposed, but even so … (ASOS, Bran)


“Who’s hungry?” she asked, holding up her catch: two small silvery trout and six fat green frogs. 

“I am,” said Bran. But not for frogs. Back at Winterfell before all the bad things had happened, the Walders used to say that eating frogs would turn your teeth green and make moss grow under your arms.(ASOS, Bran)

In other words, eating frogs (frog paste) makes you greener, and it makes you turn into a plant. Greenseers merge with plants, and the weirwood (frog?) paste starts this process. 

Bran didn't want to eat frogs - but again, he ate them anyway. And like the weirwood paste, it was better than he thought!

Jojen sent Hodor out for wood and built them a small fire while Bran and Meera were cleaning the fish and frogs. They used Meera’s helm for a cooking pot, chopping up the catch into little cubes and tossing in some water and some wild onions Hodor had found to make a froggy stew. It wasn’t as good as deer, but it wasn’t bad either, Bran decided as he ate. “Thank you, Meera,” he said. “My lady.” (ASOS, Bran)


It had a bitter taste, though not so bitter as acorn paste. The first spoonful was the hardest to get down. He almost retched it right back up. The second tasted better. The third was almost sweet. The rest he spooned up eagerly. Why had he thought that it was bitter? It tasted of honey, of new-fallen snow, of pepper and cinnamon and the last kiss his mother ever gave him. The empty bowl slipped from his fingers and clattered on the cavern floor. (ADWD, Bran)

Wait, go back - what's this about using a helm to cook frog soup in? Crannogman heads are supposed to go in crannogmen helms, not frogy food! Unless crannogmen heads are froggy food... which Bran eats reluctantly...

Bran didn't want to eat the weirwood (Jojen) paste either:

The boy looked at the bowl uncertainly. “What is it?” 

“A paste of weirwood seeds.” Something about the look of it made Bran feel ill. The red veins were only weirwood sap, he supposed, but in the torchlight they looked remarkably like blood.


“It is time,” Lord Brynden said. Something in his voice sent icy fingers running up Bran’s back. “Time for what?”


Bran did not want to be married to a tree … but who else would wed a broken boy like him? A thousand eyes, a hundred skins, wisdom deep as the roots of ancient trees. A greenseer. 

He ate.

...and Jojen was never seen again. 

DUN DUN DUN

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I cannot believe nobody else has spotted this, but I've never seen anyone mention it. Reddit was not impressed. But I am impressed with myself on this one... I mean the crannogman helmet being a home for either froggy food or crannogmen was pretty damn clever. 

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I will have to wait for further clarification from the next book (which apparently my grandchildren will read to me on my deathbed) on the paste issue, because it makes me ill to contemplate. 

However, barring some type of miracle or DEM or large twist, it seems a given that Jojen, Meera and Hodor will live out their mortal days there in the caves. Even with Coldhands' help and the elk, they barely made it there alive, and now the cave exit is blocked off by Others. Say they could get past the Others... they have no guide or supplies or (in Jojen's case) strength to get home. 

I'm certainly not saying it's impossible that something will happen to rescue them and get them safely back south, but I hope it's written carefully and well; it has too much potential to turn into a fairy tale. 

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8 minutes ago, LadyoftheNorth72 said:

I will have to wait for further clarification from the next book (which apparently my grandchildren will read to me on my deathbed) on the paste issue, because it makes me ill to contemplate. 

However, barring some type of miracle or DEM or large twist, it seems a given that Jojen, Meera and Hodor will live out their mortal days there in the caves. Even with Coldhands' help and the elk, they barely made it there alive, and now the cave exit is blocked off by Others. Say they could get past the Others... they have no guide or supplies or (in Jojen's case) strength to get home. 

I'm certainly not saying it's impossible that something will happen to rescue them and get them safely back south, but I hope it's written carefully and well; it has too much potential to turn into a fairy tale. 

:lmao:

I don't know why but I see Meera surviving, maybe it's the theories about her wielding Dark Sister, who knows. I do wonder where she was hiding when Bran came looking for her, as I don't see her blood as valuable as Jojen's greenseer one. 

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The discussion on Jojen paste should be won and done, it's heavily foreshadowed and thematically fitting. The discussion should move on. The first question I suppose should be is if it's just his blood taken without having taken his life. I doubt this on the basis that it doesn't fit thematically, this is all about sacrifice, and there's no sacrifice where there's no permanent harm done, the theme would not be realised.

Further questions would be, though I suppose not particularly important but interesting to me none the less is if it is just his blood? The paste as it is described sounds like brain or eyes, the eyes would make symbolic sense given that Jojen has Greensight. And then there is the question of if it matters, for the purpose of the sacrifice, if Jojen has Greensight? Does that make the ritual sacrifice and cannibalism more powerful? Is it required that the sacrifice victim have Greensight for it to be at all useful? If not that may raise interesting questions as to the use of the other two guests in the cave, and so I shall thoerise.

It seems to me the cave is set up far too conveniently, the ingredients are there for a boil over. You have the COTF talking of the end of days and Bloodraven living beyond his natural lifespan to save the world. On a character level, to take a black and white look at the situation, you have Bran and Bloodraven as polar opposites. Bloodraven is the most ruthless character to have been somewhat developed in the whole of the series. The man gives no fucks as to the amount of blood he must spill to achieve his goal, cold, calm and calculated. Previously he was acting just to keep the realm at peace, to keep his House on the throne and win out over his bitter brother. This time, he's tasked himself with preventing the ice zombie apocalypse, there's no lengths he will not go to.

On the other side, we have a young boy who easily gets emotional and attached, he is prone to acting on emotion. He is also perhaps the most benevolent character in the series. The idea of sacrifice for the greater good in the long term is going to run counter to every natural feeling he has.

Now GRRM has thrown these two together in the cave, where BR and the COTF believe they can work in secret behind Bran's back while they teach him and he grows in not just power but also understanding. They don't have much time before the invasion comes to Westeros, but with what little time they have to work with they can try and teach Bran the nature of the power that is going to be required to save the realm and the necessity of sacrifice. Only there's a budding spanner in the works for their secrecy, Bran need only open one wrong door in Hodor's body for the premature truth to come tumbling out.

I think there's only 3 ways Bran's arc can go.

  1. He rejects the way of sacrifice and forges his own path to saving the realm. If this is the case, I think the cave is going to get very messy.
  2. He rejects the way of sacrifice but ends up succumbing to it when he believes it is the only way to save the realm. Cave would still get messy here.
  3. He runs all the way with BR's way of sacrifice, the story is in his internal struggle to come to grips with the horrible things he must do or allow so that the realm may be saved.

Based on the potential for the dramatic I think the last is the least likely. There is a harrowing scene on the offering here, and a few hints GRRM has it in mind.

Quote

He had never felt more like a cripple than he did then,watching helplessly as Meera Reed and Coldhands butchered the brave beast who had carried them so far. He told himself he would not eat, that it was better to go hungry than to feast upon a friend, but in the end he’d eaten twice, once in his own skin and once in Summer’s.

When I first found this I applied it to Jojen and was done. The beast who carried them so far was symbolic of Jojen having lead their adventure by way of his dreams. However, it really works better when applied to Hodor, the brave (the only time a man be brave is when he is afraid, and Hodor is afraid often in their journey but comes through for them) strong but mentally challenged man who literally carried Bran on his back so far.

According to the Woods Witch the saddest sound at the Red Wedding were Jinglebell's bells, that is the sound of Aegon Frey being murdered by Catelyn. Now normally this wouldn't be such a sad thing, not by Westeros standards anyway, Aegon is a Frey and as such enemy to all things honourable and good, and his murder occurs at the height of the Frey's greatest villainy. The reason it is sad, atleast according to the Woods Witch, is undoubtedly because Jinglebell is mentally handicapped. He is a helpless, confused and oblivious spectator. Granted Jinglebell being a simpleton serves a purpose in demonstrating Catelyn's descent, but I think it's undoubted that GRRM has here used a mentally handicapped man child as a victim to ratchet up the emotional impact of the scene. Perhaps not for the last time.

The Varamyr POV ADWD prologue gives an insight into Skinchanging, custom, nature and possibilities. Skewing off from him recounting how Mel burned his Skinchanged self in mid-flight is the recollection of Varamy's first death in another skin. It is stressed as a traumatic, harrowing event, and I believe it would be such a scene for the reader too had we much investment in Varamyr. As it stands, if the series were to end now, the scene is rather superfluous. It's groundwork, we have several Skinchanging heroes at play with which the reader is invested, Bran being the most emotional brittle of them. I have no doubt one of them is going to experience what Varamyr did, probably more than one, maybe all. But Bran is the most harrowing option, and an option that could be made more dramatic with a less animalistic death.

And so I don't think Jojen is really the main dish here, he's merely the appetiser leading to the climax of this whole ordeal. How the scene would go I'm not sure, but in throwing out possibilities I harken back to the three ways I see Bran's arc could go. Might Bran come to accept the necessity of sacrifice, and skinchange Hodor to willingly sacrifice him? Could he be in his mind's eye but confused, not understanding the situation until the dagger is drawn across his throat? Or perhaps he realises in time and the sacrifices become many, older and smaller instead of one young large one.

Something else to consider, with what tidbits we've been given I think it's more likely than not by now that sacrifice for the realm runs in Hodor's blood.

Note that I could consider Meera in place or addition to Hodor, but I think even Jojen would have attempted to fight fate had he thought that was a possibility.

Edited by chrisdaw

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I'm still not buying it 100% but I am coming round to the idea, whereas in the past I thought it was macabre nonsense.   I just can't deny all that foreshadowing!! 

I had previously taken the wiki at its word when it said that Jojen had foreseen his own death at Greywater Watch.  On re-reading, I now realise that was an interpretation rather than a stated fact.  We've also been shown how Jojen's greendreams can be misinterpreted and shouldn't be taken literally.  If he really did see himself going home, in reality this could be more in a spiritual sense via bran into nature/weirnet (as said above) than physically going back to Greywater watch.

Jojen may always have been destined to have a short life.  There's a reference to CoTF marked by their red or green eyes, who had strong gifts but short lives.   Jojen & his family may always have known this - they are certainly more knowledgeable about old magic than the rest of Westeros - and Jojen & Meera's sadness is because they know his time is close.

Possibly it is just Jojen's blood being used (for now) to give the paste it's raspberry ripple swirls, but the sacrifice element is still there because he is so weak already that the bloodletting will ultimately kill him, just a bit more slowly.  It is said that the paste is white, so if there were minced human bits in there it would surely be more beige ... UNLESS... there is a glamour element introduced by the magical blood from Jojen to make it look innocent & white.  Too much tinfoil? There is definitely some kind of magic in the taste which makes it go from bitter and gag-inducing to delicious and moreish with a few mouthfuls.  Maybe weirwood is just a natural hallucinogen.

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6 hours ago, LmL said:

I cannot believe nobody else has spotted this, but I've never seen anyone mention it. Reddit was not impressed. But I am impressed with myself on this one... I mean the crannogman helmet being a home for either froggy food or crannogmen was pretty damn clever. 

I gotta say I dig the the froggy stew reference. But I'm less impressed with the bole. I think it's just a word. Very coincidentally, last night, while reading Jaime II, Storm 11 on my nook, I looked up bole. I had always assumed that it meant a hollow in a gnarled tree, so I was a little surprised to learn that bole is simply the trunk of a tree. 

There are seven uses of the word bole other than the one you noted, all in the five novels, none in the ancillary publications. Dontos placed his hand on the bole of the heart tree in the Red Keep when he pledged to send Sansa home. she would later shove her gown into the bole of an oak and removed a cache of travel clothes when she fled King's Landing. Arya drove the point of Needle through the bole of an oak in Harrenhal pretending it was Joffrey. She paid homage to the old gods though. Jaime sat against the bole of an oak while chatting with the wench near Ser Warren's stone towerhouse. Theon recalled hiding his treasures in the bole of an ancient oak during a happy childhood in Winterfell. One of the clan names sworn to Deepwood Motte is Bole.

And that weirwood, gnarled and ancient on one of the small islands in the lakes surrounding Stannis's crofter's village, has a bole and branches white as the surrounding snows. Asha inspected its slitted red eyes and bloody mouth. She told herself it was only sap, though her eyes were unconvinced, "what they saw was frozen blood." 

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7 hours ago, LadyoftheNorth72 said:

I will have to wait for further clarification from the next book (which apparently my grandchildren will read to me on my deathbed) on the paste issue, because it makes me ill to contemplate. 

However, barring some type of miracle or DEM or large twist, it seems a given that Jojen, Meera and Hodor will live out their mortal days there in the caves. Even with Coldhands' help and the elk, they barely made it there alive, and now the cave exit is blocked off by Others. Say they could get past the Others... they have no guide or supplies or (in Jojen's case) strength to get home. 

I'm certainly not saying it's impossible that something will happen to rescue them and get them safely back south, but I hope it's written carefully and well; it has too much potential to turn into a fairy tale. 

Unless our boy needs a bit more paste, I could see Bran sending his seven foot knight out with his rusted iron sword and his froggy princess out into the world, maybe to deliver Dark Sister? I mean why are the Others gonna stay? Bran's already enthroned, so wouldn't they have a greater interest in moving their minions south? 

On the other hand, I do believe the future for Meera and Hodor is pretty, um, "stark"... The Last Hero tale by Old Nan

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4 hours ago, chrisdaw said:

The discussion on Jojen paste should be won and done, it's heavily foreshadowed and thematically fitting. The discussion should move on. The first question I suppose should be is if it's just his blood taken without having taken his life. I doubt this on the basis that it doesn't fit thematically, this is all about sacrifice, and there's no sacrifice where there's no permanent harm done, the theme would not be realised.

Further questions would be, though I suppose not particularly important but interesting to me none the less is if it is just his blood? The paste as it is described sounds like brain or eyes, the eyes would make symbolic sense given that Jojen has Greensight. And then there is the question of if it matters, for the purpose of the sacrifice, if Jojen has Greensight? Does that make the ritual sacrifice and cannibalism more powerful? Is it required that the sacrifice victim have Greensight for it to be at all useful? If not that may raise interesting questions as to the use of the other two guests in the cave, and so I shall thoerise.

It seems to me the cave is set up far too conveniently, the ingredients are there for a boil over. You have the COTF talking of the end of days and Bloodraven living beyond his natural lifespan to save the world. On a character level, to take a black and white look at the situation, you have Bran and Bloodraven as polar opposites. Bloodraven is the most ruthless character to have been somewhat developed in the whole of the series. The man gives no fucks as to the amount of blood he must spill to achieve his goal, cold, calm and calculated. Previously he was acting just to keep the realm at peace, to keep his House on the throne and win out over his bitter brother. This time, he's tasked himself with preventing the ice zombie apocalypse, there's no lengths he will not go to.

On the other side, we have a young boy who easily gets emotional and attached, he is prone to acting on emotion. He is also perhaps the most benevolent character in the series. The idea of sacrifice for the greater good in the long term is going to run counter to every natural feeling he has.

Now GRRM has thrown these two together in the cave, where BR and the COTF believe they can work in secret behind Bran's back while they teach him and he grows in not just power but also understanding. They don't have much time before the invasion comes to Westeros, but with what little time they have to work with they can try and teach Bran the nature of the power that is going to be required to save the realm and the necessity of sacrifice. Only there's a budding spanner in the works for their secrecy, Bran need only open one wrong door in Hodor's body for the premature truth to come tumbling out.

I think there's only 3 ways Bran's arc can go.

  1. He rejects the way of sacrifice and forges his own path to saving the realm. If this is the case, I think the cave is going to get very messy.
  2. He rejects the way of sacrifice but ends up succumbing to it when he believes it is the only way to save the realm. Cave would still get messy here.
  3. He runs all the way with BR's way of sacrifice, the story is in his internal struggle to come to grips with the horrible things he must do or allow so that the realm may be saved.

Based on the potential for the dramatic I think the last is the least likely. There is a harrowing scene on the offering here, and a few hints GRRM has it in mind.

When I first found this I applied it to Jojen and was done. The beast who carried them so far was symbolic of Jojen having lead their adventure by way of his dreams. However, it really works better when applied to Hodor, the brave (the only time a man be brave is when he is afraid, and Hodor is afraid often in their journey but comes through for them) strong but mentally challenged man who literally carried Bran on his back so far.

According to the Woods Witch the saddest sound at the Red Wedding were Jinglebell's bells, that is the sound of Aegon Frey being murdered by Catelyn. Now normally this wouldn't be such a sad thing, not by Westeros standards anyway, Aegon is a Frey and as such enemy to all things honourable and good, and his murder occurs at the height of the Frey's greatest villainy. The reason it is sad, atleast according to the Woods Witch, is undoubtedly because Jinglebell is mentally handicapped. He is a helpless, confused and oblivious spectator. Granted Jinglebell being a simpleton serves a purpose in demonstrating Catelyn's descent, but I think it's undoubted that GRRM has here used a mentally handicapped man child as a victim to ratchet up the emotional impact of the scene. Perhaps not for the last time.

The Varamyr POV ADWD prologue gives an insight into Skinchanging, custom, nature and possibilities. Skewing off from him recounting how Mel burned his Skinchanged self in mid-flight is the recollection of Varamy's first death in another skin. It is stressed as a traumatic, harrowing event, and I believe it would be such a scene for the reader too had we much investment in Varamyr. As it stands, if the series were to end now, the scene is rather superfluous. It's groundwork, we have several Skinchanging heroes at play with which the reader is invested, Bran being the most emotional brittle of them. I have no doubt one of them is going to experience what Varamyr did, probably more than one, maybe all. But Bran is the most harrowing option, and an option that could be made more dramatic with a less animalistic death.

And so I don't think Jojen is really the main dish here, he's merely the appetiser leading to the climax of this whole ordeal. How the scene would go I'm not sure, but in throwing out possibilities I harken back to the three ways I see Bran's arc could go. Might Bran come to accept the necessity of sacrifice, and skinchange Hodor to willingly sacrifice him? Could he be in his mind's eye but confused, not understanding the situation until the dagger is drawn across his throat? Or perhaps he realises in time and the sacrifices become many, older and smaller instead of one young large one.

Something else to consider, with what tidbits we've been given I think it's more likely than not by now that sacrifice for the realm runs in Hodor's blood.

Note that I could consider Meera in place or addition to Hodor, but I think even Jojen would have attempted to fight fate had he thought that was a possibility.

Great post, first... Eww

Second, I prefer my stew slow cooked, but I suspect here the paste was raw not boiled. ;)

 Third, Bran the Benevolent doesn't seem to mind forcing Hodor into a corner of his own simple mind, even though he knows it's wrong. 

And fourth, I can’t believe some folks think Jojen paste is crackpot . . .

It had been twelve days since the elk had collapsed for the third and final time, since Coldhands had knelt beside it in the snowbank and murmured a blessing in some strange tongue as he slit its throat. Bran wept like a little girl when the bright blood came rushing out. He had never felt more like a cripple than he did then, watching helplessly as Meera Reed and Coldhands butchered the brave beast who had carried them so far. He told himself he would not eat, that it was better to go hungry than to feast upon a friend, but in the end he'd eaten twice, once in his own skin and once in Summer's.

Bran II, Dance 13

“In the end, he’d eaten twice?” Holy crap! Run, Meera! Run!

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Just for the record, its not WW's outside the cave, only wights.  Not all that many either since Summers pack are capable of taking them down 1 at a time and eating them.  It's perfectly conceivable that with a few torches people could escape/ kill them all.

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1 hour ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

I gotta say I dig the the froggy stew reference. But I'm less impressed with the bole. I think it's just a word. Very coincidentally, last night, while reading Jaime II, Storm 11 on my nook, I looked up bole. I had always assumed that it meant a hollow in a gnarled tree, so I was a little surprised to learn that bole is simply the trunk of a tree. 

There are seven uses of the word bole other than the one you noted, all in the five novels, none in the ancillary publications. Dontos placed his hand on the bole of the heart tree in the Red Keep when he pledged to send Sansa home. she would later shove her gown into the bole of an oak and removed a cache of travel clothes when she fled King's Landing. Arya drove the point of Needle through the bole of an oak in Harrenhal pretending it was Joffrey. She paid homage to the old gods though. Jaime sat against the bole of an oak while chatting with the wench near Ser Warren's stone towerhouse. Theon recalled hiding his treasures in the bole of an ancient oak during a happy childhood in Winterfell. One of the clan names sworn to Deepwood Motte is Bole.

And that weirwood, gnarled and ancient on one of the small islands in the lakes surrounding Stannis's crofter's village, has a bole and branches white as the surrounding snows. Asha inspected its slitted red eyes and bloody mouth. She told herself it was only sap, though her eyes were unconvinced, "what they saw was frozen blood." 

Dude, you have to be kidding me. Coincidence? It doesn't matter what a "bike" technically is - George is using the wordplay to put Jojen in a wooden "bowl," that much seems obvious. The references to the white face tie the two together... I mean how can you say that's coincidence, with all the foreshadowing you have researched? Not a chance, in my book. That's Jojen, in a wooden bowl / bole. 

 

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At first I didn't really buy this but after a re-read I think I do.  I also think that Jojen knew he would die all along but was such a believer he didn't mind dying to accomplish his mission.  Why I think he became depressed and gloomy in the cave was when he understood that not only did he sacrifice himself, but his sister as well.  Look for Meera to die either in the cave or trying to return home

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6 hours ago, LmL said:

Dude, you have to be kidding me. Coincidence? It doesn't matter what a "bike" technically is - George is using the wordplay to put Jojen in a wooden "bowl," that much seems obvious. The references to the white face tie the two together... I mean how can you say that's coincidence, with all the foreshadowing you have researched? Not a chance, in my book. That's Jojen, in a wooden bowl / bole. 

 

Could be. But there are only two things you can call a tree trunk, a tree trunk and a bole. On the other hand he did decide to serve up Jojen in a bowl, so maybe... if Jojen's eyes had been bloodshot it'd be a lock--a "snowy lock!" ;)

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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I see what you did there. :)

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I love Jojen paste. I plan on making and serving it for my next pre-divorce ceremony. The sickles and wood boles/bowls and sadness are all great forshadowing. Bran was one of the best POV's in Dance. I love the Three-Eyed Crow as well and the old sinister sorcerer he is. That pile of mulch is up to no good and I can't wait... even though I have to :crying:

Just a thought about just how much blood is needed or how that process goes back in the cave-kitchen. There is a chapter in Dance-Bran 3 that mentions other CotF that are hooked up to the roots... and I don't think they are other greenseers... are they? We have TTEC/Bloodraven and now Bran that are supposed to be the last greenseers. So what are the CotF doing hooked up and dead-like while one of them tries to speak to Bran?

Quote

Bran ate with Summer and his pack, as a wolf. As a raven he flew with the murder, circling the hill at sunset, watching for foes, feeling the icy touch of the air. As Hodor he explored the caves. He found chambers full of bones, shafts that plunged deep into the earth, a place where the skeletons of gigantic bats hung upside (old, dead ice dragons hanging like Viserion hangs over in Meereen) down from the ceiling. He even crossed the slender stone bridge that arched over the abyss and discovered more passages and chambers on the far side. One was full of singers, enthroned like Brynden in nests of weirwood roots that wove under and through and around their bodies. Most of them looked dead to him, but as he crossed in front of them their eyes would open and follow the light of his torch, and one of them opened and closed a wrinkled mouth as if he were trying to speak. "Hodor," Bran said to him, and he felt the real Hodor stir down in his pit.

P.S. Whatever the show shows does not mean anything, really. They play their own game of Plotzee with every character. However, part of that game of Plotzee could be that they wanted to rid themselves of the younger Reeds quickly (to make room for more Missandai/Grey Worm kissy time) so they killed Jojen with power skeletons and fireballs and maybe, maybe, they will have Meera be the paste in this coming season????

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