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kneel / anneal

This may be too much of a stretch, I admit. I don't know whether the word anneal (əˈnēl/ verb: anneal; 1) heat (metal or glass) and allow it to cool slowly, in order to remove internal stresses and toughen it.) even appears in the books. But we have a lot of references to newly-forged swords being thrust into things or people in order to make them strong or magical. I just re-read the chapter where Jon deserts from the Night's Watch, and he puts his burned hand in a pool of melted snow to cool it off. A symbolic way of toughening up, maybe. By contrast, the free folk put down worshippers of the New Gods, calling them "kneelers." Is there any word play connection, do you think, or is this just a coincidence?

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Liar / lyre -

This is another one that might be putting a word into GRRM's mouth, so feel free to correct me if you think it's a stretch.

When Littlefinger sets up Marillion as the fall guy (ha!) for Lysa's murder, he allows the singer to keep his wood harp, which he can be heard playing from his sky cell while he awaits interrogation. There is extensive discussion in the last Sansa chapter of ADwD of dishonesty: Littlefinger needs Alayne / Sansa to lie in order to perfect the story of Marillion's guilt, and Sansa debates internally and finally decides that some lies are appropriate and constructive. GRRM never uses the literal word lyre in any of his books, according to the search of Ice & Fire website, but another name for a  wood harp is lyre. Is this a little mind game for readers, or have I reached too far?

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On 4/2/2016 at 3:18 PM, ravenous reader said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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On 2.4.2016 at 9:05 PM, Seams said:

Eyes / Ice - This is a completely new one to my mind, and I haven't collected the evidence to determine whether it's one of GRRM's deliberate pairs or not. We have a number of blind people - Maester Aemon, Arya, Merillion. Timett son of Timett puts out one of his eyes to show how tough he is. We have a Wall made of ice with watchers on the wall. We have the incredibly rich symbolism around swords and a sword named Ice that becomes two swords. Ned takes his sword into the gods wood to clean it, and there he is observed by the hart tree. Not sure how to connect all the dots, though, if at all.

This may be relevant or not: the German word for iron is "Eisen".

Ice, eyes, baby.

And of course, there are lots of icy eyes in the story, e.g. those of the Others, and I think there was a king Brandon Ice-Eyes Stark. And I found this lovely quote:

Quote

Tyrion had heard a few of those droll names. "I'll wager the lads have a few names for him as well," he said. "Chip the ice off your eyes, my good lords. Ser Alliser Thorne should be mucking out your stables, not drilling your young warriors."

 

If you want another connection of Ice/Eyes to Isis and co, there is the Eye of Horus.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Hi Seams, this is a really fun thread!

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

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

Quote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote

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

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

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

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

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

Quote

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited by ravenous reader

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2 hours ago, ravenous reader said:

Regarding wards/swords/words, I think the 'swords-words' one is even stronger than the wards-association.  ...

I do believe that Tyrion, above all others, is the writer's alter-ego (this is Tyrion's main 'plot armor'), so when Tyrion voices that his mind is his weapon, therefore he must keep it sharp 'whet/wet?' it with words...

Thus, words are not only opposed to swords (as in diplomacy vs. war), but at the same time words can also be effective weapons, i.e. words as swords.  This is graphically demonstrated when Sam is able to unlock the secret door through the wall by uttering the Night's Watch vow, 'I am the sword...' 

(I've unpacked this pun on the 'Bran's growing powers' thread, i.e. quarrels as arrows vs. quarrels as disagreements/fallings-out). 

... Playing with the irresistible pun of 'heads and tails,' ...

Thus, the coin flipped, in the second half of their twin trajectory -- what is commonly referred to as Jaime's redemption arc -- with Jaime now going his own way as 'head' and Cersei fast losing her power, now the  'tail' hankering after his attentions. 

Another point on Jaime which occurred to me, just I couldn't find the reference in the books to go with it unfortunately (maybe you can clarify?) is this idea introduced on the GOT show that Jaime was dyslexic as a child.

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

Regarding 'pit', ...

In this 'seedy' vein, ... idea of Persephone having been tricked into eating the six pomegranate pips/seeds, ... Of course, one thinks of that shady underworld character Littlefinger who is presented as the one who has kidnapped the daughter of another (and intends to keep her, not only passing her off as his own daughter, but also with the desire to take her as his wife). 

The pomegranate '...Petyr eats the pomegranate piece by piece, pip by pip, seed by seed, while he educates Sansa about the best way to move around 'the pieces'. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I also love the heads/tails coin symbolism with Jaime and Cersei. That really helps me with some stuff I've been trying to sort out with Tyrion - who takes the place of Penny's brother, Groat. Penny is a complex character who plays several roles at once in Tyrion's allegorical trip through Essos. The coin metaphor with Jaime and Cersei helps a little more to make sense of Penny as Tyrion's symbolic sister.

I haven't seen anything that I can recall about Jaime being dyslexic, but I'll keep an eye out.

There must be threads about this, but somehow the Craster / Littlefinger comparison hadn't struck me until reading your paragraphs about Littlefinger as lord of the Underworld, purveyor of pomegranates and creepy fake-father of Sansa. Like Craster, whose daughters are also his wives, Littlefinger wants to be both father and lover of Sansa.

It also occurred to me to wonder where Littlefinger was when Rickard and Brandon Stark were tortured and killed by King Aerys. Was he too young to be at the court already at that point? He is talking about Ned losing at the game as he eats one of the pomegranate seeds. But he digs out or eats at total of three seeds in the scene you quote . . .

Somewhere in this forum there is (or was) a discussion of the differences between rubies and garnets, and someone mentioned that the word pomegranate translates as (I believe) "apple garnet". Garnet is in there, anyway. But the grenade allusion may also be intentional. We did see Arya throw a blood orange at Sansa, making her pale silk dress usable only after it is died black and worn as mourning for King Robert. So that Persephone thing may have already happened to Sansa - at Arya's instigation.

Thanks for sharing all these good ideas!

 

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Just some small corrections:

On 10.4.2016 at 2:03 AM, Seams said:

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

Sam gives the books to the sailors to pay for the pssage and they intend to sell them to the Citadel. So these weapons likely made it into the hands for which they were intended, the Citadel just doesn't get them for free.

 

On 10.4.2016 at 2:03 AM, Seams said:

It also occurred to me to wonder where Littlefinger was when Rickard and Brandon Stark were tortured and killed by King Aerys. Was he too young to be at the court already at that point? He is talking about Ned losing at the game as he eats one of the pomegranate seeds. But he digs out or eats at total of three seeds in the scene you quote . .

Littlefinger only came to King's Landing after Lysa convinced Jon Arryn that he was clever with money, so only some time after Jon becoming Robert's hand. Back when Aerys killed Rickard and Bran he was likely at the little tower at the fingers, licking his wounds from the duel with Brandon.

 

On 10.4.2016 at 2:03 AM, Seams said:

Somewhere in this forum there is (or was) a discussion of the differences between rubies and garnets, and someone mentioned that the word pomegranate translates as (I believe) "apple garnet". Garnet is in there, anyway. But the grenade allusion may also be intentional. We did see Arya throw a blood orange at Sansa, making her pale silk dress usable only after it is died black and worn as mourning for King Robert. So that Persephone thing may have already happened to Sansa - at Arya's instigation.

Yeah, pomegranate is "apple garnet" or rather "garnet apple".

So we get Arya throwing (like you throw a grenade) a red (which is the colour of garnet) at Sansa, which causes Sansa's dress to become black (like something blackened by a grenade explosion)? I love your observation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...

Thanks for sharing all these good ideas!

A thought that would combine runes/ruins with wards/swords/words all-in-one...

A 'rune' is not only an ancient, forgotten language (so it is literally a language fallen into 'ruin'), but significantly it is one associated with secrets, prophecy and magic.  A 'rune' is also naturally related to 'ruin' in that a 'rune' is often 'engraved' or 'graven' on graves, stones, and bones, all of which evoke death, the passage of history, and the uniquely human impulse to hold onto something and record something of ourselves for posterity -- arrest time -- in the midst of this inevitable decay to which we feel subject. The 'casting of the runes' is an attempt to harness 'lady luck' in ones favor and/or tell the future.  In other words, prophecy is just another way of trying to control time.  See Wikipedia entry:

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 rune; plural noun: runes

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

a mark or letter of mysterious or magic significance.

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

"the casting of the runes"

a spell or incantation.

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

Origin

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

Runes were thought to have magical powers particularly in the sense of 'warding against', or 'warding off' harm-- hence a kind of protective charm or weapon.  Again, words as swords!  There is a sense that this 'warding' function is particularly critical at Winterfell, e.g. the swords laid over the tombs in the crypts, the stone direwolves standing vigil as if guarding their entombed human counterparts, or even the cryptic words 'there must always be a Stark at Winterfell' (that's another pun for another time...Winterfell, Winter fell, Winter hell, etc...).

From this perspective, it is interesting to revisit the idea of a human 'ward' who in a sense is a human 'sword,' which you've previously raised.  Unfortunately I have not read any of your theories regarding Theon (the quintessential ward) aligned with Ice (the quintessential sword), but that is a most intriguing idea which the text could certainly support! 

The word 'ward' itself is very revealing, its meaning being equivocal after deconstruction.  Considering it first as a verb, from which the noun is derived, 'ward' has the general meaning of to 'protect' or 'safeguard' (as in warden or guardian).  Turning to the noun 'ward' with this in mind, we may understand that Theon is under the protection of Lord Stark who is his guardian.  From this perspective, it would appear that Ned is protecting Theon (he's given his 'word' to Balon that no harm shall come to Theon, provided Balon does not act up and act out, Balon correspondingly having given his own 'word' not to do anything to compromise the agreement; thus the 'ward' is sealed with the 'word' of both parties). 

However, the darker, thinly-veiled, unspoken subtext here is that it's the other way around -- Theon in actual fact is there to protect the Starks!  Moreover, should Balon fail in his word, Theon will be executed.  This implicit threat is mirrored in the opening scene with the Night's Watch deserter, where the sentence is passed on the one entrusted to guard the realms of men, for going back on his word and failing to do his duty (more on that later).  This is a sacred vow, not one to be taken lightly.  Since the Greyjoy uprising was quelled, the sacred duty of preserving the realms of men also resides in the aptly-named Theon (meaning 'godly') who is the ward-- the lucky charm, the amulet, the 'rune' -- Ned has brought back with him to Winterfell as 'protection' (a word often used euphemistically, cf. the Mafia 'protection racket') against Balon Greyjoy's potential future wrath. 

Theon is basically a hostage, at whose expense peace has been ransomed.  Therefore, Theon is just as important to the Starks' safety as the greatsword Ice, which makes his later betrayal of Winterfell even more egregious.  In so far as Theon fails to remain 'true,' thus failing as a 'rune,' he becomes a corrupted 'rune' -- hence a 'ruined' rune!  As we have seen, words and names in GRRM's universe are intimately endowed with power, so when Theon ceases being a 'rune,' evolving instead into a 'ruin' of his former self, it is fitting that he loses his godly name 'Theon' and becomes the ruined man, the dehumanized 'Reek,' until such time as Bran, essentially the new Lord and spiritual heart of Winterfell, magically restores his true name (whereupon Theon once more resumes his protector function of the Starks in rescuing and defending Jeyne, whom is assumed by many to be Arya). 

Resonating with all these themes, it is noteworthy that the first time we are introduced to Theon, his function is to unsheathe and present Ned's sword for an execution.  In the relevant scene we have a congregation of all the elements of 'ward',' sword', and 'word' (as well as 'ruin' and 'rune').  It's noteworthy that the 'word' and the 'sword' are combined as one in the Stark injunction that 'the one who passes the sentence should swing the sword.'  Moreover, the sentence is pronounced and passed, because the deserter has not remained true to his word (breaking his Night's Watch vow to remain at his post no matter what may come, until his death).  By not remaining true, the deserter has defiled the reputation of the Night's Watch and 'ruined' his honor.  Death is the outcome.

This also ties in with the idea that the Wall of ice (like sword 'Ice') itself is a magical ward, and that this magic can only hold so long as the Night's Watch men remain 'true' to their word.  'Spells are locked into' the ice, evoking the 'warding' function of 'words' which are 'runes' inscribed into a stone wall or on a grave, but it goes further than that... The Wall not only contains runes upon it, the runes are essentially 'locked beneath' it, indicating that magic is the foundation guaranteeing its very structural integrity; in other words, which gave rise to and keeps the wall standing in the first place.  Taken together with the fact that the wall exists as some form of protection (from whom and for whom, as in the case of Theon as ward, is as yet not completely clear, and may yet still prove equivocal), from a certain point of view then, the Wall is a gigantic Rune! 

Melisandre calls the Wall '[her and Jon's] place,' indicating that it is a locus of magic and power, both earthly and otherworldly, a nexus of fire and ice, describing it as a 'hinge' -- implying that if these runes could be deciphered, the wall will swing open giving rise to a door (analogous to Sam passing through the secret gate by saying the 'right' words):

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ADWD -- Jon I

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

Note too the pun on the word 'grave'...'you may have grave need of me...' (Hmmm... no comment!)

The sword-as-ward/word metaphor is reinforced by Ice's magical elements being 'spell-forged' (a kind of 'rune'), and the fact that the sword is anthropomorphized, as all the Valyrian swords of the Great Houses typically are.  Ice is compared to 'a man's hand' and said to be 'taller than Robb' (almost as if the sword were a man standing next to Robb and Theon), a key figure in the action. Moreover, the sword itself 'speaks the sentence' (in that it is used to behead the offender)!  GRRM often portrays swords as having voices, e.g. in his frequent descriptions of swords 'singing.'  'Perhaps on account of being transformed by Valyrian 'spells' (runes/words), the Valyrian swords especially become individuals in their own right, each with its unique character reflected in its own special name and corresponding characteristic house 'words.'  For example,  'Dark Sister' is a sister sword to 'Blackfyre,' reflecting the Targaryen tradition of sister fighting alongside (or alternatively against!) brother, both echoes of the Targaryen house words 'Fire and Blood.' 

Incidentally, a House's 'Words' are so much more than a mere motto, as you correctly point out.  Not only are the 'words' intimately connected with the sword, history and ethos of that House, the 'words' of a particular House are traditionally shouted as a battlecry when riding forth swords aloft into the fray of battle, in order to assert ones allegiance, to muster up battle courage, and to 'ward' off ones opponent and fend off any ensuing personal harm (or ruin to ones House), thus yet another connection between words/wards/swords/runes/ruins. 

When 'all' is revealed, and Dawn resurfaces, it will no doubt have a major role to play in the promised, eponymous 'War for the Dawn' (especially since GRRM is so coy about it).  Dawn was forged from the heart of a fallen star.  Having fallen from outer space and glowing with an otherworldly milky-white bluish light, the implication is that Dawn, though not of Valyrian steel, is nevertheless equally if not more magical than the rest.  In Dawn, we have the combination of a number of elements we've mentioned.  It's a sword, word, ward, rune, and ruin all-in-one (having been forged from a burnt out piece of rock; a fallen star is a kind of ruined star which is powerful nevertheless...'ruin' is etymologically derived from the root for to 'fall' or 'collapse').  N.B. 'the broken tower' and the fallen Star-k (see @evita mgfs ).

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

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

As an aside, the mention of the 'Rhoynar' reminded me of our 'rune/ruin' puns, considering its similar sound.  Could there be something in it?  In addition, the Rhoynar are a ruined culture, an 'orphaned' people, who according to the wiki used 'water magic' and other spells to fend off danger (which is a kind of 'rune'!) as well as being related to 'swords' in a way, considering they were reportedly the first to introduce the secrets of working iron into weapons.  With their relationship to Nymeria and Arya, their lore is bound to resonate with Arya's arc later on, if it doesn't already (her magical warging powers and close association with water, e.g. in Braavos).

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

 

In the text we see many warriors riding off into battle or competing in the lists armed with not only their swords and shields, but traditional armor engraved with runes for protection:

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GOT -- Sansa II

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

...

...

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

 

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COK -- Catelyn I

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

Here, the 'runes' and 'swords' are juxtaposed in the circle of power represented by the replica of Torrhen's crown (the original currently missing-in-action).  Note again as above, the 'runes' are associated with the metal 'bronze.'  There appears to be something magical associated with bronze, the metal exemplifying the age of the First Men.  When bronze oxidizes it acquires a green sheen (which is the color of nature besides), so bronze and green are the colors associated with the First Men, the Children of the Forest, and Meera and Jojen Reed, the latter Reed a powerful Greenseer and Bran's guide, the former his protector (both therefore exemplifying the 'warding' function).  Bran's words are strangely prescient when he says of the Reeds:

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A Clash of Kings - Bran IV

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

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A Clash of Kings - Bran III

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

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

In the passage above, the Reeds arrive to swear their 'words' to Bran, words which are coincident with their 'swords' ('sworn swords') and 'wards'...The Reeds described as 'slender as swords' swear fealty to Bran and promise to defend him come what may.  The final ritualistic utterance of the three elemental couplets (earth & water; bronze & iron; ice & fire) assumes the enigmatic grandeur of some kind of magical incantation warding off evil and division.

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A Storm of Swords - Bran II

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

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

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

The magical 'greensight' is always associated with 'bronze scales' and the color green (the three-pronged spear mirroring the three-pronged fork of the Trident).  The two Reeds and crannogman are characterized as three (the lizard-lion has three heads?!) fierce and furtive little 'lizard-lions' with their bronze-green scales, 'leathery skin' and sharp 'teeth' paddling through the water...which reminds me of another magical reptilian relation:

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A Storm of Swords - Daenerys I

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

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

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

Like the 'lizard-lions' of the Neck (what we'd call crocodiles or alligators), Daenerys's dragons are living fossils -- words, swords, and wards (and runes and ruins).  Magical beings, born of blood magic, they like swords or people have names.  Like flaming swords, they are Dany's primary weapons.  They are her 'wards' in a dual sense, first as her 'children' for whom she is responsible, and reciprocally as her protectors. I'm not sure of the significance, but Rhaegal with his bronze and green scales, associated with the foliage of summer and fall, echoes the descriptions of the Reeds and those other 'children,' the Children of the forest.

 

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ACOK -- Jon VIII

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

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

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

Bones (a person's ruins) as runes.  Rattleshirt, the lord of bones, uses the bones/skull/teeth of his enemies from which to draw strength and intimidate further enemies.  Hence, the use of the teeth (dental acuity) and skull (mental acuity) as protection.

 

The following -- Robb and Catelyn's visit to the Ruins of Oldstones -- is the most important passage of all, when it comes to considering ruins in the context of runes, words, wards, swords.  Indeed, a rune or ruin is an 'old stone'!  I find it particularly poignant as Robb receives an intimation of his own mortality (as he poetically overlooks the Twins), and contemplates the same with a stoicism belying his youth.  When Robb pauses in 'somber' contemplation 'in the [ominously] gathering dusk' beside the grave of the king, he becomes a 'seer' seeing deep into his past, the story of the ascension and subsequent destruction of the Kingdom of Mudd of the First Men mirroring his own doomed kingship, not hesitating there but seeing beyond his own death and making provision for this eventuality, something which Catelyn refuses to entertain. Although at some level she too admits their precarious position, musing on life's fragility and the futility ultimately of all human endeavor in the face of the erosion of time and the elements "We're all just songs in the end. If we are lucky.'  Language is the fundamentally human way to ward off the passage of time and preserve human culture -- our primary weapon (this concept is essentially a recapitulation of Bloodraven's weirwood lessons), and is a common trope in literature, as a reflection of the author's ego contemplating his or her own mortality.   

The passage reaches a climactic moment, at once triumphant and heartbreaking, when Grey Wind jumps up on the grave and takes his position besides the king (here, both the dead king and Robb the soon-to-be-dead king); the stony sepulchre, the wolf and Robb's 'cold' face reminding us of the Kings of Winter with their stone direwolves holding eternal vigil on their tombs in Winterfell crypts: 'Grey Wind leapt up atop King Tristifer's crypt [Latin tristis 'sad, mournful, sorrowful, gloomy'], his teeth bared. Robb's own face was cold...'  In that moment there can be no doubt: Robb, Grey Wind, and Catelyn are doomed.  This tableau is reminiscent of Ned's dream which came to him shortly before his own death, perhaps announcing it:

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A Game of Thrones - Eddard XIII

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

Oldstones:

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A Storm of Swords -- Catelyn V

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

might have been a Templeton, but . . . "

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Jon would never harm a son of mine."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

En route to their final destination (symbolic in itself) 'the Twins,' Robb and Catelyn stand amidst the ruins in the rain (which is of course a 'twin' of how they'll soon end at the Twins, ruined, on another day of relentless rain in a rain of arrows to the Rains of Castamere, another ruin) contemplating the potential ruin of the Stark family and its aftermath.  In response, Robb wishes to ward off this unpleasant possibility by securing an heir of his choice -- namely Jon.  However, Catelyn blinded by her jealousy and hurt can not get beyond seeing Jon as a sign of ruin. If we look closely at this scene though, there may be a subtle hint already present of Jon as ward, savior, and king, in that the king's 'likeness' is overgrown by wild roses, a living symbol of both Lyanna and Jon. 

Robb argues that a 'ruin' may be easily turned into a 'rune' so to speak by a word, in that a royal decree can easily legitimize a bastard and secure his legacy.  While we're on linguistic puns, Robb uses the word 'issue' which may refer to an heir as well as a book.  Catelyn argues in bad faith that a Snow would ruin house Stark, a bastard is tainted, a ruined version of trueborn, and comes up with ridiculously far removed relations as insulting alternatives in an attempt to ward off Jon from her consciousness as is her wont ...But most of all -- and this is key to understanding what makes Catelyn tick -- Jon is a reminder of her own ruin -- of how she is the insulted party, after Ned in her mind irrevocably broke his vow/word to her and ruined his honor and hers, something she can not and/or will not overcome.  Robb is right, she is lying to herself, although with her characteristic self-righteousness she claims 'all I have done is speak the truth'... She was and is and will always be Lady Stone Heart, literally and figuratively a heartbroken, ruined woman:

Quote

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

 

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A Feast for Crows - Samwell I

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

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

Books/words as ruins, 'falling to pieces...crumbled away...buried' ;as well as runes...Sam the Slayer of knowledge is digging through the books (the mention of 'runes on rocks' suggests that all research is a kind of archaeological excavation) looking for the answer to defending themselves against the Others.  i.e. finding a rune is like finding a key to unlock the  knowledge of how best to ward off the Others (again, Sam as the gatekeeper via words as swords).

Here Sam seems to have a literal hunger and/or thirst for knowledge; he also appears to be somewhat 'bloodthirsty' perhaps, as he 'licks his lips' thinking of the enemy!

 

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A Dance with Dragons - Jon XI

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

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

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

Tormund relinquishes his rune-engraved golden (not bronze interestingly) armbands, historical artifacts 'ruins' really, to stand in stead of his word as payment, thereby signifying his pact with Jon ('rings' also symbolizing a marriage of sorts between the Night's Watch and the Free Folk). The allusion to the ring he wears around his 'member' is a reminder of the potency associated with words/wards/swords (phallic imagery) and runes/ruins.  Significantly, Tormund though on the surface trusting Jon to honor his word, nevertheless holds onto some of his own power by withholding that final ring...to ward himself from harm, should either Jon and/or the Night's Watch rescind on their troth to allow a peaceful crossing.

Tormund's shrewd caution and saucy banter reminds us of the possibility always inherent in words/wards/swords and runes/ruins, that they may fail us, or worse turn treacherous.  Thus, to respond to your question regarding Thoros ruining swords vs. runic words (the latter which were able to ward off death), this is evidence that there are both --  true and false -- words/wards/swords and runes/ruins which make an appearance throughout the text.  To start, Thoros' sword reminds us of that other fake sword, Stannis's Melisandre-anointed 'Lightbringer' which flashes very prettily emitting light but no heat.  She's a seductress, and this is one of her tricks, just an empty 'glamor' (however, as in the case of Thoros, this doesn't necessarily exclude any other of her powers from being 'real'). Sincerity and deception may co-exist in one person -- isn't this GRRM's favorite theme?  To cite a few other examples:

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

Is this the real thing, or an imposter?  Was Mance lying, or telling the truth?  It's implied that Sam has the Horn, which would be fitting seeing as he's the master linguist (the horn speaks in a secret language like the language of ravens with which Sam has been associated), the maester of runes (as well as a boy who was 'ruined' by his domineering father), the slayer of knowledge, the Huntsman Tarly striding forth...

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A Feast for Crows - Jaime VI

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

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

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

This is a false queen, false crown (the irony that Robb too wore a false crown when he proclaimed himself King of the North...Torrhen's crown is elsewhere...like Dawn, I'm pretty sure it'll have to resurface before we're through...).

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A Storm of Swords - Tyrion VIII

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

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

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

The instance you mentioned.  The sword is an imposter, masquerading as Ice (Sansa notices the difference instantly).  Although Ser Ilyn does not speak, the sword can be said to speak loudly (its ornamentation quite garish, ostentatious and over the top).  Likewise, the runes are flashy and 'bright'  (engraved in silver this time...?significance of the metals), nevertheless they do not speak true, considering how they are supposed to ward Joffrey from danger and bless him on what is supposed to be his most blessed of days, his wedding day.  On the contrary, they hint at treachery and presage Joffrey's death, i.e. ruin (echoing our motif of the cheeky poisonous gift, Ser Ilyn is literally 'presenting' it to him) when the ruby eyes 'wink' and the dragonglass 'skull grins' at him in mockery.  So the 'specter is at the feast' and the sword partakes in the grim farce.  Another way of looking at it is that the sword does indeed speak true, considering Ser Ilyn and the sword represent the King's Justice, and Joffrey has not been a just king!  Joffrey has made a mockery of the monarchy and the mummer's farce at his end is fitting.

 

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AGOT -- Sansa II

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

 

So, try ones best, sometimes the protection doesn't come through for one.  Also in this passage is an allusion to Sansa herself as false.  Sansa is more interested in flashy heraldry than the actual people behind those masks (cf. The Hound vs. Sandor).  While Ser Robar is carried off 'dazed and unmoving,' Sansa is unmoved, with 'eyes only for Ser Loras'.  This is a very important lesson:  For all this fine talk of words/wards/swords and runes/runes-- we should always bear in mind that symbol does not automatically equate with substance -- which is of course the whole crux and crutch of Sansa's arc.

 

P.S.  Among other interpretations, the burning of the books can be understood as an 'ignition of understanding'! 

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

snip

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

snip

 

 Martin describes the Undying as burning like corn husks, the dragon’s flames eating away at their fragile encasements.  The Undying burn up very much like the parchment of ancient scrolls.  The Undying may represent a collective knowledge of the warlocks  - and other magical forces - which Drogon sets ablaze and  ultimately destroys.  Similarly, several irreplaceable scrolls are destroyed in the library fire at Winterfell – knowledge lost forever in the flames.  The forces that are the old gods of the north preserve their collective knowledge within elements of nature that are, in most cases, indestructible.

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Abel / Brother of Cain and Able to do the job.

Waymar Royce / “Way More” arrogant, knowing, and dressed

Will / Will to succeed / Short for William Shakespeare

Gared – GAR / ED = EDGAR Allan Poe

MARTIN and NOMENCLATURE

WILL and GARED in the “PROLOGUE” from A GAME of THRONES

Will and Gared may be dispensable, “generic” rangers on a fatal mission whose lives are forfeit because of their inexperienced commander Ser Waymar Royce, but Martin names them with purpose as a way to honor and thank two authors who inspire his prose fiction in A Song of Ice and Fire Series. The appearance of the names Will and Gared in the first “Prologue” of a voluminous series of novels speaks to the degree of gratitude Martin owes his sources.

First, Will is short for “William”, or for “William Shakespeare”, the celebrated English writer whose works still have universal appeal hundreds of years after his death. It is no secret that Martin borrows from “the bard”, and among Shakespeare’s many poetic plays that Martin alludes to in conflicts, plot elements, and language, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar ranks high as the source material Martin prefers, putting his own “spin” on ideas and themes throughout his fantasy novels.

To convey Will’s association with Shakespeare, Martin includes details pertaining to Will’s crime of poaching a deer that parallels similar events Shakespeare biographers debate happened to young Will Shakespeare before his arrival in London.

Martin says of Will’s crime:

“Will had been a hunter before he joined the Night’s Watch. Well, a poacher in truth. Mallister freeriders had caught him red-handed in the Mallisters’ own woods, skinning one of the Mallisters’ own bucks, and it had been a choice of putting on the black or losing a hand” (AGoT).

Likewise, William Shakespeare trespasses on Sir Thomas Lucy’s property to kill a deer. In the article “In Search of Shakespeare: The Poaching Myth 1598”, a PBS.org author writes:

“Though the tale is widely discredited today, three seventeenth-century accounts claim that Shakespeare was once beaten and imprisoned for poaching [a deer]. The alleged crime took place on land belonging to Sir Thomas Lucy - one of Walsingham's and Elizabeth's chief enforcers”. [http://www.pbs.org/shakespeare/events/event83.html]].

Although Will and Will share like crimes, their punishments are quite different. Ranger Will chooses an option that will take him a lifetime to repay, but he prefers becoming a Sworn Brother of the Night’s Watch over losing his hand, which is an early allusion to the stigma associated with disfigurement in Martin’s world of ice and fire.

Second, the name “Gared” has an unusual spelling, one not Americanized with a “J”. However, Martin aspires to create memorable characters, and he alters spellings of familiar names to give them a medieval flare. Analyzing the spelling of “Gared” requires some mental creativity: when readers divide “Gared” into two syllables, GAR / ED, and transpose them, one with the other, the “revised” appellation is EDGAR, the first name of American author and poet Edgar Allan Poe.

Of course, the obvious inspiration Martin takes from Poe is Lord Commander Mormont’s talking raven, a character that owes a debt of gratitude to Poe’s poem “The Raven”. The title bird flies in a window and perches on a bust of Athena, and he punctuates any question the narrator poses by saying hauntingly “Nevermore!” The narrator asks the raven if he will ever see his dead lover Lenore: quothe the raven, “Nevermore!”

Furthermore, Poe’s favorite thematic inclusion in several of his short stories is the death of a beautiful woman. In Martin’s I & F Series, the death of Lyanna Stark haunts Ned and figures in many other character arcs throughout the novels.

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On 4/3/2016 at 2:53 PM, sweetsunray said:

Yes, Catelyn thinks of making another son in her second chapter at WF, and later Ned thinks of making another son with her once he returns to WF (after giving his resignation as Hand). We have 2 characters that figure as a Horus the Younger - Bran and Robb.

As a child Horus the Younger was a mama's boy. In several myths he's struck by some ailment, poisoning or accident while he's a child. And Isis works with Thoth to make a magical spell to cure Horus. So, each one of those myths was used as a reminder how to treat a patient. But as an adult he goes out to revenge his father's death and oust Set. It's a war that lasts 80 years, and the end result of that war differs from dynasty to dynasty ... Rameses had Egypt torn in two where Horus got one part to reign and Set the other part (and Rameses was from the region that Set ruled). I wouldn't use the anology to predict any outcomes in aSoIaF (obviously Robb is dead). ...

 

On 4/8/2016 at 4:10 PM, yomi said:

If you want another connection of Ice/Eyes to Isis and co, there is the Eye of Horus.

Thank you to sweetsunray for providing the Isis / Horus / Set / Osiris background and to yomi for the Eye of Horus link. The link really confirmed for me that there is an intentional connection between ASOIAF and the Horus story. (I know I keep adding more puns to my "to do" list, but maybe this explains some of the horse symbolism and allusions in the story, particularly in the Stark story lines: Horus / Horse.)

The thing that intrigued me about the Horus birth (rebirth) story and ASOIAF is that Horus was supposed to have been conceived and born after the death of his father. How could Eddard and Catelyn have a baby after both were already dead? Luckily, death is not much of a barrier for GRRM as so many of his characters have rebirths, both before and after they have died "for real," and could come back in their own bodies or in the bodies of others.

In sweetsunray's "Sansa and the Giants" thread (and probably other places, too), there was pretty good discussion about Sansa "becoming" Catelyn: Littlefinger says she has Cat's hair and there is an Alayne Stone / Lady Stoneheart connection, among other symbolic parallels. Of course, Littlefinger is pretending that "Alayne" is his daughter. Alayne was his mother's name, right? Since Alayne is really Sansa, would the "real" father of Alayne be Ned? Does that make Littlefinger a creepy version of reborn Ned?

But all this fluid family weirdness is o.k. because Isis and Osiris were also siblings before they were husband and wife. As Cersei points out, the Targaryens did it for generations . . .

There's an obvious Horus candidate in my mind already. Sansa is wearing his mother's clothes, and his mother was the sister of Sansa's mother. His mother was also the wife of Ned's foster father, and then the wife of Alayne's "father." In fact, there's a rumor that Alayne's "father" might be the biological father of this Horus candidate - he is certainly his guardian, or the foster father, now that the boy's birth parents are both dead. Just to add a couple or three more layers to the convoluted family dynamic.

What really sealed it was the link yomi provided. Selected lines:

Horus was the ancient Egyptian sky god who was usually depicted as a falcon, ....

In one myth, when Set and Horus were fighting for the throne after Osiris's death, Set gouged out Horus's left eye.

The lord of the Eyrie, the best "sky" castle we have in the series, is Robert "Sweetrobin" Arryn. The Arryn sigil includes the falcon. He was a mama's boy and always sickly.

GRRM has said that we all might be surprised about who will sit on the Iron Throne at the end of the series. This would really surprise me.

EXCEPT

What if there's another Horus candidate in the Vale? If the interesting theories in this forum are correct, there is a distant relation of House Arryn who, like Horus, has lost an eye . . . Timett son of Timett. (Maybe this brings us back to wordplay again, too, because Horus is like "hours" and Timett is like "time." Get it? Hours and time?) And other theories in this forum say that Timett descends from a guy who was born after the death of his royal father: Nettles may have been pregnant with Daemon Targaryen's child when she disappeared on her dragon toward the end of the war known as the Dance of Dragons. That child may have joined in with the hill clans living in the Vale.

So maybe Timett (Targaryen descendant) and Robert Arryn (symbolic Stark / Tully descendant) are both Horus figures - we can start a Horus chorus (sorry, I couldn't resist).

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Yes, Both Catelyn and Lysa have Isis symbolism and visuals related to them. Catelyn thinks of Robb at her breast. We actually see Lysa still breastfeeding SR. One of Isis's images was her having the infant Horus in her lap and breastfeeding him. The Isis cult became popiular in Rome with Caligula, and since it was a Roman Emperor who christianized the Roman Empire a few centuries later... voila Isis and her infant in her lap was the iconic source image for the pieta - mother Mary and baby Jesus scukling. So, we have a sickly child Horus in the Vale, and yes Timett can be the adult Horus (he is also likely of Arryn descent... Jon Arryn's niece was abducted by Timett's Mountain Clan). The sisters both work as Isis, since Isis had a sister who was married to Set, but who helped Isis with Osiris.

As for Bran... remember that he has a connection to "flying".

I don't think it necessarily means that a Horus ends up on the IT. Remember that these realms were still kindgoms 300 years ago. Horus simply implies the right to rule the area. Even when Egypt was a province of the Roman Empire, they still had a Pharao.

Catelyn doesn't need to conceive a child from Ned after he is dead. Ned was a ruler of the underworld anyhow, even when he was alive. When the series starts the underworld is the realm from the Neck on, and the Starks have been Kings of Winter for thousands of years of that same realm. Besides, Catelyn isn't just Isis alone. She also has Demeter symbolism and Persephone symbolism... all are about Life and Death wedded and that this wedding is the source of spring and life. You can't grow food without burrying the seed in the ground first. Some you can grow on water. But hardly air (Rose of Jericho plant for example). Hades is not a dead ruler. He's a living god who can't die. His realm though is the underworld.

 

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7 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Yes, Both Catelyn and Lysa have Isis symbolism and visuals related to them. Catelyn thinks of Robb at her breast. We actually see Lysa still breastfeeding SR. One of Isis's images was her having the infant Horus in her lap and breastfeeding him. The Isis cult became popiular in Rome with Caligula, and since it was a Roman Emperor who christianized the Roman Empire a few centuries later... voila Isis and her infant in her lap was the iconic source image for the pieta - mother Mary and baby Jesus suckling.

Just me nitpicking again: Mary breastfeeding Jesus is Maria lactans. The pieta shows Mary holding dead Jesus.

 

Anyway, this made me start to think about pieta images in the series, and the most obvious is of course Cersei holding dead Joffrey. Which is kind of funny, given that pieta means something like piety and pity, which aren't really traits that one would normally associate with Cersei and Joff.

IIRC, Catelyn doesn't get the chance to hold dead Robb, does she? But I think she later cradles his crown.

Do we get to see any other mothers with their dead child(ren)?

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1 hour ago, yomi said:

Just me nitpicking again: Mary breastfeeding Jesus is Maria lactans. The pieta shows Mary holding dead Jesus.

 

Anyway, this made me start to think about pieta images in the series, and the most obvious is of course Cersei holding dead Joffrey. Which is kind of funny, given that pieta means something like piety and pity, which aren't really traits that one would normally associate with Cersei and Joff.

IIRC, Catelyn doesn't get the chance to hold dead Robb, does she? But I think she later cradles his crown.

Do we get to see any other mothers with their dead child(ren)?

You are absolutely correct. My mistake. 

As for the correct pieta imagery...There aren't that many mothers we see alive still while their sons are dead. We do learn of motehrs losing their sons (as children in sickess) but without the image of them cradling the dead son.

IMO Catelyn having Robb's crown fits the Isis mythology again. The whole divine Horus myth served the pharao's claim of divine right to rule, which of course later is also featured in Christian kings. In Egyptian mythology of god given rule, Isis was the kingmaker (both when she conceived Horus with the golden phallus as well when she assembled Osiris). Typically Isis will be potrrayed as a protector of kings and giving them the power to rule. So, an Isis character holding the crown of the KitN points to LS having a kingmaker role.

Edited by sweetsunray

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On 4/2/2016 at 3:05 PM, Seams said:

Eyes / Ice - This is a completely new one to my mind, and I haven't collected the evidence to determine whether it's one of GRRM's deliberate pairs or not. We have a number of blind people - Maester Aemon, Arya, Merillion. Timett son of Timett puts out one of his eyes to show how tough he is. We have a Wall made of ice with watchers on the wall. We have the incredibly rich symbolism around swords and a sword named Ice that becomes two swords. Ned takes his sword into the gods wood to clean it, and there he is observed by the hart tree. Not sure how to connect all the dots, though, if at all.

This may be relevant or not: the German word for iron is "Eisen".

Ice, eyes, baby.

I couldn't help noticing that "Eisen" does enter into the wordplay. The reference to one of the seven singers at the doomed wedding feast of Joffrey and Margaery has been identified as an "Easter Egg," a hidden inside joke where the author alludes to the work of a close friend and colleague, Phyllis Eisenstein, who wrote books in a series she calls Tales of Alaric the Minstrel.

Queen Margaery appeared suddenly at Joffrey’s elbow. “My sweet king,” the Tyrell girl entreated, “come, return to your place, there’s another singer waiting.”
Alaric of Eysen,” said Lady Olenna Tyrell, leaning on her cane and taking no more notice of the wine-soaked dwarf than her granddaughter had done.“I do so hope he plays us ‘The Rains of Castamere.’ It has been an hour, I’ve forgotten how it goes.”

While I'm sure this character's name was a nice way of giving a nod to a fellow author, the reference to Eisen (or "Eysen" - a hybrid of eyes and the German Eisen) seems to confirm the pun and adds yet another a layer of meaning to this important scene. I suspect that one or both swords handled by Joffrey at the wedding feast are actually responsible for his death. One sword is Widow's Wail, and is made from the melted-down and reforged great sword Ice. The other is a mysterious sword presented to Joffrey by Ser Ilyn for the specific purpose of cutting the pie. Ser Ilyn's strong association with Ice comes from his being the last person known to use the sword, when he beheaded Ned Stark.

I don't think Olenna Tyrell is knowingly referring to the sword Ice with her remark. As a crone character, however, she carries a lot of wisdom and speaks it without - perhaps - knowing that she is doing so. (Crones and fools often work in pairs in the books, and both can say cryptic, prophetic and wise things that others don't understand.) She is the perfect character to lay on a little foreshadowing for the reader without tipping us off to the nature of the murder plot GRRM is unfolding before us. "The Rains of Castamere" reference is also a clue for us about the perpetrator of the upcoming murder of Joffrey.

Ice / eyes / Eisen. Definitely.

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Horse / whores - I started pondering the possible horse / Horus wordplay, and didn't see a lot of possibilities there, although it might still hold some meaning. I've been thinking about Tywin today, however, and I started to ponder "Wherever whores go" as a possible match for horse. In AGoT, toward the end, GRRM ends a Tyrion chapter with Tyrion "mounting" a woman for the purpose of sex and, in the opening of the next chapter, Jon mounting a horse (that he calls "Sweet Lady") for the purpose of riding fast toward Moles Town. So there is both wordplay and metaphor going on with these words and the things they represent. Recognizing this actually helps me to understand that a "whore" in ASOIAF must have a broad meaning beyond the literal: since Ned and Arya and Lyanna are supposed to have horse faces, how does the connection to whores apply to them?

But the Tywin connection intrigues me most, because Tywin commanded that Tyrion NOT bring his whore (Shae) to King's Landing, and he also uttered the line, "Wherever whores go" that becomes Tyrion's obsession. Also, Tysha was not a whore, but Tywin convinced Tyrion that she was and caused her to be used that way. Can we look at scenes where Tywin is on or near horses to find clues about the meaning he intended for the "Wherever whores go" line? The scene with Tywin riding a horse into the court at the Red Keep is in the show only, right? If it's in the books, that would become a fascinating clue about where whores go.

There are some important symbolic moments having to do with stables in ASOIAF and related books (Dunk and Egg meet at a stable, for instance; Arya's first kill is a stable boy).

Tyrion designs special saddles for himself and for Bran Stark. I am also aware that both saddles and swords have pommels, and sword pommels often seem to have a special symbolic jewel in the series.

Edited by Seams

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Be warned: a tiny TWoW spoiler in this comment.

Knows / Nose -

(I just posted this in a thread discussing Penny's purpose in the series, but it is something I have been meaning to explore on this thread, too.)

Tyrion has lost his nose, but he tells Penny that

 

he likes her nose and wants her to keep it

I think this is a deliberate echo of the, "You know nothing, Jon Snow!" line from the days when Ygritte was educating Jon Snow about everything he didn't learn within the double wall of Winterfell. Penny is Tyrion's Ygritte. (She is also a father figure, as shown by Tyrion's nightmares, a Cersei/sister figure and some other things in his allegorical voyages.) Penny knows (nose) and Tyrion does not know (no nose). But there is hope that he will learn, if he will start listening to her.

I suspect this pun is also linked with the word "snow". We may know more when we find out whether Jeyne Poole / fArya loses the tip of her nose to frostbite.

Xaro Xhoan Daxos, with his "beak" of a nose, encrusted with jewels, also seems important to fully understanding the wordplay here. Maybe this is a clue - a nose that is like a beak might suggest a raven. Ravens represent insight and communication and being "all seeing." So the guy with the biggest, fanciest nose is probably someone who "knows" what is going on.

The character Rorge, whose nose is also missing, is probably another clue. He certainly appears to be someone who not only does not know how to get along with others, but also doesn't care to know. Maybe he represents willful ignorance. An interesting contrast to Tyrion, though, who continues to want to learn and read, even after losing his nose.

Edited by Seams

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On 15.4.2016 at 9:31 PM, Seams said:

But the Tywin connection intrigues me most, because Tywin commanded that Tyrion NOT bring his whore (Shae) to King's Landing, and he also uttered the line, "Wherever whores go" that becomes Tyrion's obsession. Also, Tysha was not a whore, but Tywin convinced Tyrion that she was and caused her to be used that way. Can we look at scenes where Tywin is on or near horses to find clues about the meaning he intended for the "Wherever whores go" line? The scene with Tywin riding a horse into the court at the Red Keep is in the show only, right? If it's in the books, that would become a fascinating clue about where whores go.

Oh, that scene is in the book most gloriously!

Squirming through a press of knights, squires, and rich townfolk, Sansa reached the front of the gallery just as a blast of trumpets announced the entry of Lord Tywin Lannister.
He rode his warhorse down the length of the hall and dismounted before the Iron Throne. Sansa had never seen such armor; all burnished red steel, inlaid with golden scrollwork and ornamentation. His rondels were sunbursts, the roaring lion that crowned his helm had ruby eyes, and a lioness on each shoulder fastened a cloth-of-gold cloak so long and heavy that it draped the hindquarters of his charger. Even the horse's armor was gilded, and his bardings were shimmering crimson silk emblazoned with the lion of Lannister.
The Lord of Casterly Rock made such an impressive figure that it was a shock when his destrier dropped a load of dung right at the base of the throne. Joffrey had to step gingerly around it as he descended to embrace his grandfather and proclaim him Savior of the City. Sansa covered her mouth to hide a nervous smile.

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So Selaesori Qhoran means Stinky Steward, more or less?" 
"Fragrant Steward, rather."

And...

On what terms?" Beware the perfumed seneschal, Quaithe had said. The masked woman had foretold the coming of the pale mare, was she right about the noble Reznak too? "I may be a young girl innocent of war, but I am not a lamb to walk bleating into the harpy's den. I still have my Unsullied. I have the Stormcrows and the Second Sons. I have three companies of freedmen." 
"Them, and dragons," said Brown Ben Plumm, with a grin.

Love that one... And the formatting on this forum is out off control, I apologize

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