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Puns and Wordplay


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He could hear the wind whistling through cracks in the rocks as they neared the ringwall. A voice called out a challenge. Jon stepped into the torchlight. "I need to fetch water for the Lord Commander."

"Go on, then," the guard said. "Be quick about it." Huddled beneath his black cloak, with his hood drawn up against the wind, the man never even looked to see if he had a bucket.

Jon slipped sideways between two sharpened stakes while Ghost slid beneath them. A torch had been thrust down into a crevice, its flames flying pale orange banners when the gusts came. He snatched it up as he squeezed through the gap between the stones. Ghost went racing down the hill. Jon followed more slowly, the torch thrust out before him as he made his descent. The camp sounds faded behind him. The night was black, the slope steep, stony, and uneven. A moment's inattention would be a sure way to break an ankle . . . or his neck. What am I doing? he asked himself as he picked his way down.

ACoK, Jon IV.

What is GRRM doing with the bucket and pale references here? Note that sharpened sticks or logs around a fort are called a palisade and a single sharpened stake for a fortification is called a pale. Pale can also mean fence. So we are getting a bucket and two pales in three consecutive sentences. 

When Jon Snow slips between the stakes to go outside of the fort, he is going "beyond the pale." 

In a previous Jon POV (AGoT, Jon VIII), Jon carried a bucket full of bloody meat. He used it to feed the ravens while Maester Aemon revealed that he (Aemon) is a Targaryen and said that he understood about Jon's conflicting loyalties to his family and to the Night's Watch. 

"Pale cold" seems to be a coded phrase the author uses as an alternative to "old place." Old places in ASOIAF seem to be special, magical locations. The Fist is one of the places identified as an "old place." 

But what does it mean that Jon Snow has no pail (bucket) or that he goes beyond the pale in this chapter? He is about to find the obsidian cache, and that may require going through a magical portal of some kind. 

 

 

Edited by Seams
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This has probably been discovered by others and discussed somewhere in this very long thread but a wordplay I find to be interesting is Merling vs Merlin and how it plays into Petyr's arc and the Vale.

When he steals Sansa away from Kings Landing, he travels to the Vale on a galley name the Merling King as in the sea creature. When he reaches the Vale, he marries Lysa, later kills her and usurp her rulership of the Vale.

What's interesting is that the sigil of House Aryn is a blue falcon and merlin without the "g" is the name of a blue falcon. So the ship that Petyr sailed to the Vale was basically announcing his intention to become the Merlin King or Lord of the Vale. It also implies that Ursula Upcliff who claimed to have been married to the Merling King might have been talking about the King of the Vale.

Another interesting wordplay I discovered recently, which also likely has been discussed is Oldstones being almost a full anagram for Lodestone. It's only off by one letter but if you consider that the archaic spelling of old is olde, is can be considered a full anagram.

Jenny of Oldstones was certainly a magnet for Duncan Targaryen but what does it mean. Is it simply telling us that it's not just certain locations that are hinges of the world, and that they are certain characters who serve the same purpose? If so, what was it about Jenny and the castle on the hill that made the lodestones?

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8 hours ago, Stormy4400 said:

This has probably been discovered by others and discussed somewhere in this very long thread but a wordplay I find to be interesting is Merling vs Merlin and how it plays into Petyr's arc and the Vale.

...

Another interesting wordplay I discovered recently, which also likely has been discussed is Oldstones being almost a full anagram for Lodestone.

Both very interesting observations and I don't think either has been discussed. So thank you for adding these to the thread. 

Of course, "Merlin" also has the connection to King Arthur's sorcerer/wizard mentor. I see a number of sorcery or warlock possibilities in Littlefinger's actions. I have tentatively put Littlefinger into the "kingmaker" category (along with Ser Criston Cole and Quentyn Ball). This would also fit with Merlin's role in some versions of the King Arthur story. 

As for Oldstones / Lodestones, I have found so many "almost" anagrams (off by one letter) that I think GRRM does use them in a number of situations. He may even have rules in his head about swapping out one letter, although I haven't entirely discerned what those rules might be - I suspect that identical letters can be repeated, so a word with one letter E can have two letters E if needed to make an anagram. A magnetic stone seems like a natural choice to add to the types of "magic" we see in ASOIAF - poisons, fires, a far eye, the metal in swords, rubies, obsidian, a bag of finger bones. It does seem like the kind of thing GRRM would subtly mention to explain the surprise "attraction" between two characters who become an unexpected couple.

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16 hours ago, Seams said:

rules might be - I suspect that identical letters can be repeated

Bah! Seeing it written out like this, makes me think of the old type face printers. Bacon’s cypher for surface use vv for w

I was just reading something a wile back
About the French guy, master in his citadel, he wrote Essay? 
Michel Eyquem de Montaigne. 

Probably another rabbit hole but I’m going down it.


 

• I could have sworn there was mention of Jaime having difficulty reading. His eyes? are Jumbled/mixed  

(HBO corrupting my memory)

I need Pylos’s help :( 

Edited by Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe
I should not post at work
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TL:TR Theon’s fate began with the curse that Jon put on him.

I believe that uttering curses or swearing profanely means more than using obscene words in anger. They’re used for more than just emphasis. While conceived of as offensive they can invoke evil, cause disasters, injuries and destroy people or things. If a character utters impieties or speaks irreverently of a God or something sacred it could excommunicate or afflict them or things with a great evil. Should a priestly condemnation befall a person, doom and misfortune are sure to follow. Here’s a short list that I’ve started from AGOT Prologue and Bran 1:

 

  • Will hears Waymar say, “Gods!” as he gains the ridge and slashes at a branch with sword.
  • When Jon calls Theon an “Ass” after the deserters beheading.
  • Robb swore, “The Others take his eyes,..”
  • Theon exclaims, “Gods!” and calls the mother direwolf a “freak”.

1 of 4

Quoting the curse:

 

Quote

AGOT Bran 1

“The head bounced off a thick root and rolled. It came up near Greyjoy’s feet. Theon was a lean, dark youth of nineteen who found everything amusing. He laughed, put his boot on the head, and kicked it away. “Ass,” Jon muttered, low enough so Greyjoy did not hear.”

 

Martin’s cursing, from what I can tell, is a self-stylized literary tool being used to foreshadow. Mere acts of uttering curses or swearing profanely have deeper meanings than just using angry obscene words. While sometimes used for emphasis and conceived of as offensive they can also invoke evil, cause disaster, injury and destroy people and more. If a character utters impieties or speaks irreverently of a God or things sacred to it they could be excommunicated or be afflicted with a great evil. Should a priestly condemnation befall a person, doom and misfortune are sure to follow. I have identified the use of some literary tools and deconstructed some word-play that I believe will allows us to look into the text more deeply where we’ll see some foreshadowing revealed.

 

Here’s a short list of the words from AGOT,  Prologue and Bran 1:

 

  • When Jon calls Theon an “Ass” after the deserters beheading.
  • Will hears Waymar say, “Gods!” as he gains the ridge and slashes at a branch with sword.
  • Robb swore, “The Others take his eyes,..”
  • Theon exclaims, “Gods!” and calls the mother direwolf a “freak”.

 

Take a look at this quote with a curse word uttered by Jon

 

AGOT Bran 1

“The head bounced off a thick root and rolled. It came up near Greyjoy’s feet. Theon was a lean, dark youth of nineteen who found everything amusing. He laughed, put his boot on the head, and kicked it away. “Ass,” Jon muttered, low enough so Greyjoy did not hear.”

This is a funny one. If we look deep enough into the “ass” line we’ll see more than Jon’s simple characterization of Theon as an asshole. We’ll see Martin subverting the main narrative of the the text with a literal asshole. It’s pretty shitty, but lines that Martin invites us to analyze are actual ass lines, or figurative butt cracks….Looking deeply we find that figuratively there is an anus. The anus, an opening at the lower end of the alimentary canal, through which the solid refuse of digestion is excreted. (Anus is from the Latin word ānus ring, anus), plays into many ideas. Here anus, a clinical or sterilized, name for an asshole and the word we derive from Jon’s use of the word “ass” is what we are about to dive into.

 

Lets take a short moment to explain the logic before moving on. This way you won’t feel like your being led down a rabbit hole or any other kind of holes for that matter. I have a few more points to make before arriving at the conclusion. So far, I’ve given you a quote and pointed out the cuss word. I’ve taken that word and given you the definition and, more importantly, an alternate name used for it. Then, I showed you some wordplay using some crude humor. Now I want to continue with the crude humor and wordplay and point out the use of a literary tool that introduces a planet which you will see is allegorical to the scene where we find the cuss word. I love how Martin thinks.

 

It’s fun for me to think that Martin laid down these breadcrumbs for us to follow this path of logic and purposely sought a way to include you. Yes, you! You see, instead of just choosing any stinky old anus, one that Reeks, he chose your-anus. Feeling flattered? Congratulations and thanks for playing “your” or “ur” part in this metaphorical word-play. You have now become a homophone. Meaning, you are a part of something that sounds like something your not. “Ur”, part of “Your”, sounds like Ur-anus. And I don’t mean the sounds your-anus can make. Those little heinie hiccup, booty coughs, and butt burps are not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about Uranus the seventh planet from the Sun and third-largest in the Solar System. Let it be known that planets in ancient times were considered Gods by many. Additionally, the “ass” in our discussion has a name which means “Godly”. Yes that’s right, the origin of the name Theon comes from old Greek and means “Godly”. And anus, as noted earlier, means “ring” in Latin. So looks like your playing the part of a Godly ass;) or Lord of the “ring” if “U” prefer. Let’s thank Uranus everyone. Clap, clap, clap.

 

So what is Martin doing and why? I suspect that considering a fundamental truth about the nature of the cosmos as a whole/hole allows us to inferred truths about human nature, and vice versa. There’s an ancient saying that says, “As above, so below”. It’s a quote often understood as a reference to the supposed effects of celestial mechanics upon terrestrial events. So here we find within our celestial drama-play comes a myth of a Greek primordial deity, Uranus. The story of Ur-anus, a popular one, is an allegory to the whole/hole beheading scene. I’ll explain,

The myth of Your anus from Wiki:

 

Quote

Uranus is the personification of the sky and the son and husband of Gaia (Earth), with whom he fathered the first generation of Titans(12), the Cyclopes(3), and Hecatoncheires (Hundred-Handers)(3), but hating them, he hid them away somewhere inside Gaia. Angry and in distress, Gaia fashioned a sickle made of adamant and urged her children to punish their father. Only her son Cronus, the youngest Titan, was willing to do so. So Gaia hid Cronus in "ambush" gave him the adamantine sickle, and when Uranus came to lie with Gaia, Cronus reached out and castrated his father, casting the severed testicles into the sea. Uranus' castration allowed the Titans to be born and Cronus to assume supreme command of the cosmos. From the blood that spilled from Uranus onto the Earth came forth the Giants, the Erinyes (the avenging Furies), the Meliae (the ash-tree nymphs). From the genitals in the sea came forth Aphrodite. According to some accounts, the mythical Phaeacians, visited by Odysseus in the Odyssey, were also said to have sprung from the blood of Uranus' castration.

From here what needs to happen is a lengthy explanation of how this myth represents the figurative treatment of the main narrative. But I think that would detract from the general crappy tone I’m trying to set. So, fast-forwarding to my point, I believe Gared’s head is playing the role of one of Uranus’ balls, and like Uranus’ spilled blood and severed testicle, Gared spills his “wine”and loses his head upon the snow, the figurative sea.

“His father took off the man’s head with a single sure stroke. Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine. One of the horses reared and had to be restrained to keep from bolting. Bran could not take his eyes off the blood. The snows around the stump drank it eagerly, reddening as he watched.”

Gared, who’s sword was a personification of himself in the previous chapter(as noted below), is figuratively Uranus’s dick here in this chapter. Gared is dragged by the guardsmen who together are the metaphorical flask or mold made up of a drag and a cope components. Gared is figuratively casting. And figuratively being castrated.

Note:

“It was a short, ugly thing, its grip discolored by sweat, its edge nicked from hard use,”…(Gared was short and ugly old man, who’s alcohol symptoms make his face discolored and sweaty, like his grip grip. His missing body parts resemble his nicked sword. His ear stumps, his crowning glory, symbolize the trees,

The drag component of a cast is the bottom half of a horizontal mold used in casting a sword. The rating of the cast is the speed of the cast. What sword is being cast? I’d offer up Waymar, who was adamant about continuing on. “Adamant”, as in, “adamantine” A generic name for a very hard material, something unbreakable, shatterproof. It is what our “sickle” is made of. The point here is to understand the wordplay going on. “Castrated” or severed testicle and “Cast rated” or the speed of producing swords. If we “start back” in the prologue chapter, we will see the personification of swords and people into swords.

Theon’s Ironborn status, coupled with the ironwood stump, make seemingly good metaphors for Theon as a blacksmith apprentice. That Ironwood stump would seem to be a good metaphorical anvil. The “cast” rating of Gared will be “hand” led by our “Smith” Lord. from the prologue and bridge have additional intended meaning to the testicle coming ashore. But bouncing off a thick root and rolling to Theon’s foot needed to happen for the sake of Martin’s clever and funny bit of foreshadowing. The idea that Theon kicks Uranus’ figurative genitalia while laughing foreshadows his own castration and treatment of his nuts.

Essentially, what’s happening in this scene is Jon evokes a curse from the ass God down onto Theon.

Edited by Nadden
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On 1/13/2022 at 11:48 AM, Seams said:

Both very interesting observations and I don't think either has been discussed. So thank you for adding these to the thread. 

Of course, "Merlin" also has the connection to King Arthur's sorcerer/wizard mentor. I see a number of sorcery or warlock possibilities in Littlefinger's actions. I have tentatively put Littlefinger into the "kingmaker" category (along with Ser Criston Cole and Quentyn Ball). This would also fit with Merlin's role in some versions of the King Arthur story. 

As for Oldstones / Lodestones, I have found so many "almost" anagrams (off by one letter) that I think GRRM does use them in a number of situations. He may even have rules in his head about swapping out one letter, although I haven't entirely discerned what those rules might be - I suspect that identical letters can be repeated, so a word with one letter E can have two letters E if needed to make an anagram. A magnetic stone seems like a natural choice to add to the types of "magic" we see in ASOIAF - poisons, fires, a far eye, the metal in swords, rubies, obsidian, a bag of finger bones. It does seem like the kind of thing GRRM would subtly mention to explain the surprise "attraction" between two characters who become an unexpected couple.

YW!  I too have noticed that Martin uses almost anagrams in the text and I feel sure that it's a deliberate choice on his part.

I discovered another couple of interesting wordplays/anagrams over the last few years that you might find interesting.

The first is Nissa being an alternate spelling for Nyssa. As you know, *I* and *Y* are often used interchangeably in the spelling of words and I believe that George is using it in this manner in the spelling of Nissa.

Nyssa is a genus of deciduous trees that grow in swamps and bogs and along *blackwater* rivers. The trees are natural weirs. More popularly known as Black Tupelo trees, they gave name to Tupelo Mississippi where many of the trees can be found in area swamps. They are also plentiful along the Florida panhandle, Mexico and Central America.

They are many varieties of the trees including Nyssa sylvaticaNyssa aquatica, and Nyssa ogeche to name just a few. The interesting thing is that in addition to being natural weirs that grow in swamps and blackwater rivers, the different variety of trees are all honey makers. The ones that grow along the Florida panhandle actually produces one of the most expensive variety of honeys.

When you consider the symbolic importances of weirs, blackwater rivers, hives, bees and honey as the food of the gods in the text, I feel confident that this particular tree influenced George in the naming of the character at the heart of one of the books great mysteries.

In regard to the text, Nissa or Nyssa can be interpreted as the honey tree and I think that is association with honey may also explain George’s use of repetition in the name. I think that he was potentially inspired by the Abba song Honey Honey from the 70s. He loves to drop those types of cultural references into his stories.

Another interesting discovery I made is that Sansa is a full anagram for nassa, which means weir in Spanish. When I made this discovery a few years ago, I was told that it was just happenstance because nassa was Spanish and George was probably not aware of the word.

This didn’t make any sense to me as George is on the record as saying that he can’t write a character until he knows their name and that he does a lot of research to determine his character’s names. George has also lived for decades in a state where Spanish is basically the second language and as he uses anagrams in his story, I think that he likely knows that Sansa is an anagram for nassa and its association with weir.

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On 8/31/2019 at 8:18 PM, Seams said:

As noted by Seams:

Treason / Tree son

I don't know why this never occurred to me before. Ned is found guilty of treason. Ned has a tree son.

Maybe.

To add more support to this idea. In the Prologue, AGOT I’ve noticed that the story of Adonis has been used as an allegory. Here it is:

Quote

Adonis was the mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite in Greek mythology. In Ovid's first-century AD telling of the myth, he was conceived after Aphrodite cursed his mother Myrrha to lust after her own father, King Cinyras of Cyprus. Myrrha had sex with her father in complete darkness for nine nights, but he discovered her identity and chased her with a sword. The gods transformed her into a myrrh tree and, in the form of a tree, she gave birth to Adonis. Aphrodite found the infant and gave him to be raised by Persephone, the queen of the Underworld. Adonis grew into an astonishingly handsome young man, causing Aphrodite and Persephone to feud over him, with Zeus eventually decreeing that Adonis would spend one third of the year in the Underworld with Persephone, one third of the year with Aphrodite, and the final third of the year with whomever he chose. Adonis chose to spend his final third of the year with Aphrodite.

In the allegory:

(One of the two trees in the Prologue ) Ironwood: Myrrha

I’m not sure why the sentinel tree is not playing this role. However, most things on the wall seem to be inverted symbols. Perhaps the Ironwood simply makes a better cosmic tree of the underworld.
 

*edit The trees follow the “ As above, so below “, motif. They are the same symbolically. Picture a tree of life with one tree above ground who’s roots are intertwined with a similar but opposite tree below ground. Thus, I think the ironwood stump and the mother direwolf play the same role in the next chapter. But that role will first pass through Waymar and the Other’s swords.

The gnarled Ironwood is pregnant in this scene:

Quote
  1. Gnarl: a knotty protuberance on a tree; knot.

 

The inverted parallel for this scene comes in the next chapter Bran 1. Ironwood stump.

In the Prologue, AGOT Aphrodite makes a good wet nurse. To handsome Waymar.

Lastly, it’s Gared who commits treason and is beheaded at the ironwood stump to stick with the major theme of giving a life for life.

Myrrha-as it turns out is a resin used in making scented oils. The ones used on the dead. Perhaps the same smell of corruption on the mother direwolf. It’s also one of the gifts brought by the three Wiseman.

Edited by Nadden
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  • 3 weeks later...

Drag / derag / rag / ragged / dagger / Gared / tattered / NW / swatch


Some wordplay I found a few weeks ago….When Catelyn finds Ned in the Godswood. She is reflecting on “what a strange people these northerners were”, as Ned comments on a man (Gared) who he had just beheaded that morning. The comment bringing Gared to mind sets us, the reader, up for the wordplay that follows. Ned is cleaning “Ice” then Martin initiates his wordplay. Here’s the quote from Catelyn 1:

Quote

“He had a swatch of oiled leather in one hand. He ran it lightly up the greatsword as he spoke,…”

A swatch, like Gared, is part of the “Night’s Watch”. (Just get rid of the apostrophe and slid the “s” over) By definition a swatch is a sample of cloth or a rag. Considering the  two words together, a night swatch could be another way of saying black rag or a sample of a black cloth. Gared’s fur, “ragged and greasy” are black; However, there’s another candidate that might symbolize the  night swatch, sample cloth, that comes to mind. Waymar with his black sable cloak, from the AGOT Prologue, might also meet the requirements of the night swatch. The cloak is made of little tiny samples of black furry martins (an animal with the same name as our author). Gared does rag Waymar about it saying, “twisted their little heads off, our mighty warrior.”, while drinking wine and laughing in his cup with the barracks. (Picture wine spraying out of somebody laughing at a joke)
 

Quote

“His cloak was his crowning glory; sable, thick and black and soft as sin. “Bet he killed them all himself, he did,” Gared told the barracks over wine, “twisted their little heads off, our mighty warrior.” They had all shared the laugh. It is hard to take orders from a man you laughed at in your cups, Will reflected as he sat shivering atop his garron. Gared must have felt the same.

I think this foreshadows Gared’s  own beheading and the spilling of his wine(blood).

Quote

“His father took off the man’s head with a single sure stroke. Blood sprayed out across the snow, as red as summerwine.

And consider this, Waymar’s cloak ends up in “tatters”. 

Quote

Waymar’s  “fine clothes were a tatter,”


Tatters” is a word used to define  “ragged”. This next quote comes from Bran 1, AGOT, before Gared’s beheading:

Quote

“He had lost both ears and a finger to frostbite, and he dressed all in black, the same as a brother of the Night’s Watch, except that his furs were ragged and greasy.”

I’ve posted before that our NW brother Gared and the sword “Ice” resemble each other in few ways. The wordplay here is ragged, as an adjective, describing Gared’s clothing (leather or furs) and ragged ,as an action, being done to “Ice”. As a verb Gared both ragged and was ragged by Waymar throughout the prologue. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is ragged the adjective and ragged the verb have a different number of syllables. Ragged the adjective is said with two syllables; while ragged the verb is said with one.
 

Additionally, the prefix “de-“ occurring in loanwords from Latin (decide); also used to indicate privation, removal, and separation (dehumidify), negation (demerit; derange), descent (degrade; deduce), reversal (detract), intensity (decompound) could be used on the word “rag”.

Consider this… if Gared and Waymar wanted to undo the ragging (verb w/ an object) they did on each other and apologize…we might consider that de-ragging. And if “Ice” is ragged (one syllable verb w/an object) by an oily swatch and we wanted to degrease it wouldn’t we de-rag it?. In both cases we can perhaps use the word “derag” to reverse the ragging action. I believe this will give some contexts to why Martin chose “Gared” as the name for our Night’s Watch deserter. Gared backwards is deraG. Derag also pronounced like drag.

Interestingly, “drag” is a term used in metallurgy to name the bottom half of a casting flask, It’s one aspect of a horizontal mold, used in casting a sword. The top half is called the cope. Sword metaphors are abundant in ASOIAF. We see Gared’s sword in the Prologue, AGOT as a personification of him:
 

Quote

“It was a short, ugly thing, its grip discolored by sweat, its edge nicked from hard use,”

…Gared was a short and ugly “old man, past fifty”. He was missing “Two ears, three toes, and the little finger off his left hand”. His alcohol consumptoms (His blood is described as red as summerwine, showing his blood alcohol) probably made his face discolored and sweaty, like his grip. His missing body parts resemble his nicked sword. His ear stumps, likely, symbolize the two trees in the Prologue. The tree themselves will become sword metaphors I predict.

I believe the reason Martin only alludes to Gared and doesn’t straight out name him in Bran 1, AGOT is because, Gared, like lots of the figurative language on both the Southron and Northous side of the Wall it’s inverted. Gared is symbolically one aspect, the de-rag, of a sword mold. North of the wall he is literally Gared. South of the wall he’s figuratively a drag.
 

Gared, the oathbreaker, also seems to be an inverse aspect of “Ice”. “Ice”, the sword will later be reforged into Oathkeeper and Widows Wail. Oathkeeper, Obviously,  is the inverse of Oathbreaker. What about the inverse aspect, Widows Wail? There’s some evidence for that also. The POV, in the Prologue, Will is described as not being able to “wail”:

Quote

“Will’s voice abandoned him. He groped for words that did not come.”…

…”Will turned away, wordless.”…

…”Fear filled his gut like a meal he could not digest.”…

…“the words seemed to freeze in his throat.”…

I believe that this inverse relationship that both Gared and Will have with the sword “Ice” is enough evidence to suggest that they are figuratively the drag and cope aspects of the mold for “Ice”. Will is the top half and Gared is the lower half of the mold. Thus, “Ice” personifies Ser Waymar Royce.


…lots more wordplay, “deserter”, “dragged”, “dagger”. To be continued…

As you can see the two scenes are relative to one another and connected by blood.  In both cases it’s  Gared blood that connects the scenes. Lastly, we read that “Ice” was as wide across as a man’s hand; while Martin writes the swatch of oiled leather was in one hand. And Gared was “not much taller than Robb.”, while “Ice” was “taller even than Robb.”

leather/furs and oiled/greasy are all synonyms.

Bonus: And present at Gared’s beheading is Ned’s ward and Robb. And that night swatch, mentioned earlier, as symbolic of Waymar’s cloak is insofar as I can tell also symbolic of Ned’s ward/Robb and part of Waymar’s wardrobe.

Edited by Nadden
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22 hours ago, Nadden said:
Quote

“He had a swatch of oiled leather in one hand. He ran it lightly up the greatsword as he spoke,…”

A swatch, like Gared, is part of the “Night’s Watch”. 

Very nice catch! 

I wonder whether Starks with black fabric are a motif? I've always been curious about Jon Snow's dagger and sword being wrapped in black as he attempts to desert the Night's Watch (like Gared):

Quote

He would need to find new clothes soon; most like, he'd need to steal them. He was clad in black from head to heel; high leather riding boots, roughspun breeches and tunic, sleeveless leather jerkin, and heavy wool cloak. His longsword and dagger were sheathed in black moleskin, and the hauberk and coif in his saddlebag were black ringmail. Any bit of it could mean his death if he were taken. A stranger wearing black was viewed with cold suspicion in every village and holdfast north of the Neck, and men would soon be watching for him.

AGoT, Jon IX.

And there's that reference to a watch ("watching"), too. I think there is some kind of wordplay around time and the Night's "Watch," possibly including the Hightower acting as a sundial and other references to the passage of time in Westeros (the Hour of the Wolf, etc.). 

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Thanks for the comment. Was I convincing enough about Gared and Will as the drag and cope for “Ice”? I’m current reading back over some of your thoughts on “deserters” and “daggers”. I love lots of your stuff.

I think writing come easy to you. You ask great questions.

As for this question:

8 hours ago, Seams said:

I wonder whether Starks with black fabric are a motif?

I’ve only picked up on the Night swatch/Night’s watch wordplay so far.

But,
I think I have some goods thoughts that might help you move forward with your ideas about this question:

You asked, “What is GRRM doing with the bucket and pale references here?”

In the Prologue, AGOT the “pale shapes” that surround Waymar are your “palisade” or “fence”. You also noted that, “When Jon Snow slips between the stakes to go outside of the fort, he is going "beyond the pale.". In the same Prologue, the dirk deserts Will’s teeth when he attempts to “call down a warning, and the words seemed to freeze in his throat.”, is symbolic of the direwolf pup Ghost(another pale shape). I believe we are seeing the birth of Ghost here. Here’s this from ASOS, Samwell chapt. 18:

Quote

The lower branches of the great green sentinel shed their burden of snow with a soft wet plop.

You mentioned that “In a previous Jon POV (AGoT, Jon VIII), Jon carried a bucket full of bloody meat.”. This seams to parallel the bloody meat centered between the “pale shapes” or “watchers”in the Prologue. Here’s the quote:

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The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Swords rose and fell, all in a deathly silence. It was cold butchery. The pale blades sliced through ringmail as if it were silk. Will closed his eyes. Far beneath him, he heard their voices and laughter sharp as icicles.

And, Maester Aemon does seam to know something about a broken sword and Will glimpses a symbolic raven.

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“The broken sword would be his proof. Gared would know what to make of it, and if not him, then surely that old bear Mormont or Maester Aemon.”

“Perhaps it had only been a bird, a reflection on the snow, some trick of the moonlight.” (A black shadow of a bird)

And to commet to the idea that you have about magical places. I say YES!, in the Prologue I believe this is a mirror-like portal to an alternate reality. It seams to open only at a certain time or turn of the page.

And lastly, to your question about, “But what does it mean that Jon Snow has no pail (bucket) or that he goes beyond the pale in this chapter?” I think it means that he is going alone with no “pale shapes” to accompany him. Did I give any help?

I’m also rereading your Theon= Ice theory. Do you have more or new thoughts on that? My thought, very obscure, are that Nissa Nissa/ Azor Ahai are two pair of aspects, four altogether. Waymar’s broken sword might be proof that another pair will be forged or brought forth.

My post needs a lot more edits

I think I see a connection with your idea about deserters and “red trees”. I have a real tinfoily idea that I’m too embarrassed to post. But I like it nonetheless. I’m working through “daggers” right now.

The mossy rock and the weirwood tree and black water from the Ned and Cat Godswood scene are some other ideas I’m working on also.

Waymar’s cloak is a motif I’m trying to decode. It’s “soft as sin”(Nissa backwards). “Crowning glory” sounds like birth, “brought forth”. Gared was the fourth beheading this year for Ned and “Ice”

Ragging is also another term used in metallurgy.

cast / Craster / castrated / cast rated - are another set of words with lots of play.

sorry if these thoughts are not well worded. It’s hard to get them out of my head and I don’t have much extra time to edit.

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On 2/3/2022 at 11:15 AM, Nadden said:

Was I convincing enough about Gared and Will as the drag and cope for “Ice”?

 

On 2/2/2022 at 11:49 AM, Nadden said:

Interestingly, “drag” is a term used in metallurgy to name the bottom half of a casting flask, It’s one aspect of a horizontal mold, used in casting a sword. The top half is called the cope. 

...

I believe that this inverse relationship that both Gared and Will have with the sword “Ice” is enough evidence to suggest that they are figuratively the drag and cope aspects of the mold for “Ice”. Will is the top half and Gared is the lower half of the mold. Thus, “Ice” personifies Ser Waymar Royce.

The "drag and cope" allusion is also a great catch - I didn't absorb it on first reading so thanks for calling it to my attention. I think there is quite a bit of metallurgy terminology that is implied in GRRM's word choices - the focus on "kneelers" as an allusion to "annealing" metal, for instance. He describes Azor Ahai trying to anneal a sword blade but does not use the word "anneal," so far as I can recall. But we can connect some motifs through the implied wordplay, if we can just figure out the symbolism. 

There are some significant blades that appear in pairs in ASOIAF: Oathkeeper and Widow's Wail are a pair because they seem to be forged from the single melted sword Ice (and they both have red metal added to their newly-made blades). Dark Sister and Blackfyre seem linked because of Aegon's marriage to Visenya (as well as the rivalry of Bloodraven and Bittersteel, each associated with one of the swords).

But somewhat less important references tell us that some blades might be incomplete without a partner: Daario has matching weapons with handles shaped like naked women. Joffrey doesn't want the book (words) that Tyrion offers as a groom gift; he wants a dagger that will match the sword that Tywin gave him. (But he doesn't live to receive the dagger.) Asha tells Theon that an ax is her husband and a dirk is her suckling babe. 

But your exploration of Will's inability to speak raises a different thought about swords. Dalla tells Jon Snow that magic is like a sword without a hilt. We see a few swords without hilts in ASOIAF:

  • Waymar's broken sword after it is shattered by the White Walker (and the hilt picked up by Will, as you point out).
  • The broken sword Sansa sees over the mantel at the Baelish holdfast at The Fingers.
  • The broken sword that is among the items the Free Folk forfeit to the Night's Watch when they are allowed to pass through the tunnel at Castle Black.

Taking this symbolism a step further, we know that a sword blade is like a tongue in GRRM's thinking, because of the scene where Gendry's blade comes through the back of Biter's head while he is attacking Brienne, and Brienne thinks the blade is Biter's tongue. 

So who are the people without tongues in ASOIAF, and what can that tell us about blades without hilts?

  • Ser Ilyn Payne, who is the last person to use the sword Ice. (And who then appears with a silver sword covered with runes, which is the last thing touched by King Joffrey.)
  • A messenger sent from Mance Rayder to Craster. Craster cuts out the messenger's tongue, nails the tongue to the wall of Craster's Keep and sends the messenger back to Mance, presumably to demonstrate his disdain for Mance's claim to be the King Beyond the Wall.
  • The little birds who work as spies for Varys. 

This is convoluted (as these symbolism chats often are) but I think it may circle back to your exploration of Gared and Will as a pair. The drag and cope analogy might be correct but they might also or instead represent a sword and dagger or a hilt and a blade. The speechless Will might be a hilt in search of a blade, and he comes up with a "splintered and twisted" end of the otherwise shattered sword wielded by Ser Waymar. (Notable for the black smith motif, Will thinks, "Gared would know what to make of it" when he picks up the broken blade, perhaps implying that Gared is a smith.) But Will never gets the chance to present this proof to Gared, Jeor Mormont or Maester Aemon (blind but still the best reader or interpreter of words/sword at Castle Black) - the blue-eyed, wighted Ser Waymar apparently kills and/or wights Will, ensuring that Will will remain speechless and the blade (tongue) will not be returned to Castle Black. 

As you point out, Ser Waymar was rumored to have made his own cloak, twisting the heads off of the sables whose furs went into the garment. But now he has taken action that resulted in the destruction of his sword and he prevented the return (or reforging) of the remaining twisted end of the sword. I think the author wants us to see the cloak and sword as opposites. And this may go, again, to the contrast between Gared and Ser Waymar. Gared (dagger) wants fire; Ser Waymar (cloak) does not want fire. Gared is ugly and maimed and lowborn; Ser Waymar is handsome and highborn. Gared is experienced; Ser Waymar is green (or "innocent," as William Blake might put it). If they would listen to each other and respect each other, they might survive and thrive. Instead, both the cloak and the sword prove insufficient to ward off the magic power of the White Walkers. 

I've been thinking about Mance's cloak, and how he likes it better after it is mended with red silk from Asshai. I think we are supposed to see this as the "new and improved" black cloak - one that unites the black cloak of the AGoT prologue with fire. Mance has found a way to reunite the elements that were (symbolically) divided when Ser Waymar refused to listen to Gared. 

And these elements are reunited in a different way as Jon Snow undergoes the various hero's labors necessary for his rise as the new King Beyond the Wall. Jon Snow sleeps with Ygritte, whose red hair marks her as "kissed by fire." He kills Qhorin with the tip of his sword - perhaps echoing Will's attempt to pick up the tip of Ser Waymar's shattered sword. (Similarly, Theon kills Ralph Kenning, an Ironborn leader, with the tip of his sword.) When Jon Snow returns to Castle Black after his interlude among the Free Folk, his inner circle suddenly includes Night's Watch recruits named Satin and Leathers. I think these characters demonstrate the success of Jon's effort to assemble the elements necessary to reunite the broken and magical pieces needed to rule: Satin is not only a symbol of the fabric Mance obtained for his cloak, but he might also be a person who wears drag - a man who dresses as a woman - yet another variation on the wordplay of daggers / Gared / dragged, etc. Leathers could allude to the important motif around animal skins, including the sables in Ser Waymar's cloak, and to the oiled leather swatch you noticed in the scene with Ned and Catelyn. Jon has managed to reunite Satin and Leather under his command. 

Of course, we already suspect that Jon Snow embodies the highborn / lowborn contrasting qualities, as the bastard son of the highest noble or royal families. If he has both Stark and Targaryen heritage, he also unites ice and fire. 

I could go on and on.

I think this all relates to Melisandre and her role in finding the hero who can wield the flaming sword. She worships the red god and she gains power over Mance because (in the world of symbolism) Mance incorporated red fabric in his cloak. Mance had to embrace that hybrid cloak in order to become King (Beyond the Wall) but his choice comes with a price. But remember how Craster rejected Mance's claim to be King? Both men are sons of Night's Watch men who had sex with wildling women. I think this is another of those blade/hilt situations. It appears that Melisandre has control of Mance, but she does not have control of Craster - now represented by Gilly and/or Aemon Steelsong.

Hey! There's that cloak and blade symbolism again - Mance with the mended cloak and Craster's baby with a name relating to a sword blade. (Perhaps a name that unites words/sword, as he is also named for Maester Aemon, who is the expert on books and raven messages and prophecies and other words.) 

[Edit: I just remembered that it is Mance's baby that is given the Aemon Steelsong name. So the "reforging" of the Craster / Mance division seems to take the form of Mance's baby becoming the symbolic sword (cloak father --> sword son). Craster's baby is still at the Wall and is called Monster. Not sure if that fits with the cloak/sword duality I'm starting to sort out - maybe that baby is sticking with its original destiny to be given to the White Walkers, becoming a "monster" from the perspective of mainstream humans.]

I'm having the same kind of flood of new thoughts that you were wrestling with - some coherent but some half-baked. On your "drag and cope" observation, I would just note that a bishop's cloak is called a cope. So that probably reinforces the idea of the cloak and dagger as a pair that is both at odds but necessarily a pair.

Lots of new possibilities opened up by this line of analysis. Very nice work!

Edited by Seams
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Lol….I love it. A river of thoughts. Liking all of it, my favorite of the bunch is :

5 hours ago, Seams said:

"drag and cope" observation, I would just note that a bishop's cloak is called a cope. So that probably reinforces the idea of the cloak and dagger as a pair that is both at odds but necessarily a pair.

Immediately, I looked up the definition for cope. And…

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  1. a long mantle, especially of silk, worn by ecclesiastics over the alb or surplice in processions and on other occasions.

There are more definitions but this one goes along with the idea of that “bishop’s cloak”. (I’m sure Martin has made use of all the other definitions too:blink:). The part of this definition that stands out to me is, “especially of silk”. 
 

The ringmail worn by Waymar described as,

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“a fine supple coat of gleaming black ringmail over layers of black wool and boiled leather.”

And,

Will, “heard the soft metallic slither of the lordling’s ringmail”

And,

“The pale blades sliced through ringmail as if it were silk.”

So Waymar’s ringmail is soft and supple and like silk when sliced by pale blades.
 

In this scene, “there was no ring of metal on metal” or written differently (a little wordplay)-

there was (no-ring-of-metal) on metal. (So, the ringmail is figuratively not metal if we compare it with Waymar’s sword). Swords and armor are made of the same  basic elements in this scene. 

Looking again at the first quote describing Waymar’s ringmail, “layers of black wool and boiled leather.”

So in the order of it’s donning— Wool, leather, rings(not metal, soft like silk).

Wordplay- donning and dawning/ don and dawn

doff( the inverse of don )-“to remove or take off, as clothing”

Night (the inverse of dawn)

doffing those night black garments in order: rings, leather, wool

So if we take off the garments but keep the order of the dawning we see

Hair, skin, rings(vulva)

Those are new thoughts Seams (except for: “no-ring-of-metal”). “Silk” cleared the haze. This ties into some old thoughts that I have yet to share.

The first “pale sword” that bit through the ringmail” produced blood that “seamed as red as fire”. It “seamed as red as fire” because blood in the moonlight is black. So it looks like we have moon blood coming from the rings.

Menstruation can be called moon blood or moon's blood. And so it appears that pregnancy has not occurred. But Waymar has come of age. More swords please….

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“They emerged silently from the shadows, twins to the first. Three of them … four … five …”
 

“The watchers moved forward together, as if some signal had been given. Swords rose and fell, all in a deathly silence. It was cold butchery.”

“Cloak and daggers”, as you said.

Lastly, “drag”. I wanted to make sure that you thought of it as an inversion, imprint, impression of the actual object being cast. That’s why I said “Gared” is symbolically one aspect, the “de-raG”( Gared spelled backwards), of a sword mold. North of the wall he is literally Gared. South of the wall he’s figuratively a drag.
 

North of the wall he was shell-shocked and South of the Wall he is a shell of his old self. I think that’s why we don’t actually see his name used by Martin in Bran 1.

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On 2/4/2022 at 9:59 AM, Seams said:

I think there is quite a bit of metallurgy terminology that is implied in GRRM's word choices - the focus on "kneelers" as an allusion to "annealing" metal, for instance.

To further your thoughts about annealing/“kneelers”. I found another metallurgy term last night. It seems to be presented in the same fashion that Waymar‘s sable cloak presents a marten, a small weasel-like mammal. It’s certainly no coincidence that our author uses a small weasel-like mammal  bearing his name. The small weasel-like mammal, a sable, which Martin describes as soft as sin uses some wordplay. The words “As sin” combined are assin. Assin spelled in reverse is Nissa. Nissa is one half of Nissa Nissa’s name. This is certainly intentional. (Bonus thought: combine “assin” with an “ass” , like Jon calls Theon, and we get an assassin)
 

Annealing’s definition (as I’m sure you know)

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Annealing (in metallurgy) -

is a heat treatment that alters the physical and sometimes chemical properties of a material to increase its ductility and to make it more workable.

The opposite of that is a metal that is hard and very brittle and tough to work with. It’s a metal that is produced by the rapid cooling or quenching of the alternate form of iron at such a high rate that carbon atoms do not have time to diffuse out of the crystal structure.

Now think of Waymar’s sword. We know from ACOK, a Jon Chapter 23

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ACOK, a Jon Chapter 23

“I’ve not seen Benjen Stark for three years,” he was telling Mormont. “And if truth be told, I never once missed him.” A half-dozen black puppies and the odd pig or two skulked among the benches, while women in ragged deerskins passed horns of beer, stirred the fire, and chopped carrots and onions into a kettle. “He ought to have passed here last year,” said Thoren Smallwood. A dog came sniffing round his leg. He kicked it and sent it off yipping. Lord Mormont said, “Ben was searching for Ser Waymar Royce, who’d vanished with Gared and young Will.” “Aye, those three I recall. The lordling no older than one of these pups. Too proud to sleep under my roof, him in his sable cloak and black steel.

We have Craster talking to Lord Mormont and pointing out Waymar’s sable cloak and black steel. (Bonus thought: Waymar‘s sword must have been unsheathed for Craster’s to know it was black steel)
 

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Black Steel

Steel is an alloy made up of iron with typically a few tenths of a percent of carbon to improve its strengh and fracture resistance compared to other forms of iron.

Black carbon steel is created using high temperatures that created the layer of oxidized iron on the outer surface

The Waymar’s black steel sword in AGOT Prologue

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AGOT Prologue

Again and again the swords met, until Will wanted to cover his ears against the strange anguished keening of their clash. Ser Waymar was panting from the effort now, his breath steaming in the moonlight. His blade was white with frost; the Other’s danced with pale blue light.

Here I think we see Waymar’s sword being quenched as it seems to mirror the actions in the very next paragraph. Here’s the very next paragraph:

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AGOT Prologue

Then Royce’s parry came a beat too late. The pale sword bit through the ringmail beneath his arm. The young lord cried out in pain. Blood welled between the rings. It steamed in the cold, and the droplets seemed red as fire where they touched the snow. Ser Waymar’s fingers brushed his side. His moleskin glove came away soaked with red.

“White with frost” and “red as fire” on two opposing blades. The point I’m making is that Waymar’s  sword also found it’s mark. It found it’s mark in…
 

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AGOT Prologue

“…armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.”

…some watery armor. The way I see it is we have a symbolic rapid cooling or quenching of the alternate form of iron at a high rate. (Bonus thought: “high rate” or “cast rate”). This produces Martensite! That right another bit of  self-promoting  workplay;) This could well explain why the sword shatters. (The next questions would be who made this sword and why?) A material that again provides a call back to our authors name. He’s so clever:) Additionally, Waymar’s sword can also be linked to the Azor Ahai Prophecy:

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Prologue, AGOT

“The Other halted. Will saw its eyes; blue, deeper and bluer than any human eyes, a blue that burned like ice. They fixed on the longsword trembling on high, watched the moonlight running cold along the metal. For a heartbeat he dared to hope.”

Those icy eyes “fixed”, as if mounted light blue sapphires, on a trembling sword. That trembling sword is “on high” or Ahai at that moment. 

Like I stated earlier, It seems Martensite is presented in the same fashion that Waymar‘s sable cloak presents a marten. And the both sword and cloak present 1/2 of the names for Nissa Nissa and Azor Ahai. Certainly it’s all no coincidence. As you pointed out “cloak(sable/marten)and dagger(cold black iron/martensite)” (Bonus though: “Azor” is represented by the Other sword through some wordplay)

Annealing” - a process opposite of that which produces Martensite.

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/26/2022 at 1:58 PM, HoodedCrow said:

Do you think “ the Reeds” are readers? 

I don’t know.  Besides the obvious similarities in sound what other connections are you seeing ?

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The Reeds know their events, as if more literate. They are obviously more informed than Bran. I note other use of Reader, but maybe it is more than just a word for swamp dwellers. Perhaps reading makes you like a green seer, in terms of having many lives and the ability to access past, present and even future ( proception). 

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On 2/26/2022 at 2:58 PM, HoodedCrow said:

Do you think “ the Reeds” are readers? 

The 'reed' that I seldom seem brought up when talking about Bran's bannermen/ lunch is the reed that vibrates in a woodwind instrument (like a clarinet or oboe) to create the sound.  I'm not sure where to go with that, but it is a SONG of ice and fire and musical elements  may be relevant.  Horns don't use reeds and most of the instruments we see are horns fwiw

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  • 2 weeks later...
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The serving men brought every dish to Bran first, that he might take the lord's portion if he chose. By the time they reached the ducks, he could eat no more. After that he nodded approval at each course in turn, and waved it away. If the dish smelled especially choice, he would send it to one of the lords on the dais, a gesture of friendship and favor that Maester Luwin told him he must make. He sent some salmon down to poor sad Lady Hornwood, the boar to the boisterous Umbers, a dish of goose-in-berries to Cley Cerwyn, and a huge lobster to Joseth the master of horse, who was neither lord nor guest, but had seen to Dancer's training and made it possible for Bran to ride. He sent sweets to Hodor and Old Nan as well, for no reason but he loved them. Ser Rodrik reminded him to send something to his foster brothers, so he sent Little Walder some boiled beets and Big Walder the buttered turnips. (Clash, Bran III)

This could have gone in the "Wow, I never noticed that ... " thread but it's wordplay so might be a better fit for this collection. 

Fair warning: definitely skip this post if you are not interested in symbolism. This one goes all in on symbolism.

The Harvest Feast at Winterfell is a super important scene for Bran's arc and for the series as a whole. As with all of the ASOIAF feasts, each food has symbolic meaning. At this meal, Bran is in charge of directing each dish to a specific person, providing clues about that character's role in Bran's story or, perhaps, a parallel to a character in another part of the series. 

The thing that struck me on this most recent reading of this passage was the "especially choice" dishes Bran sent to the northern bannermen. Why is this phrase so vague when GRRM is usually so specific about foods at feasts? 

I thought the word "choice" could be a reference to the sword Ice. I wondered about possible wordplay on both "echo" and "ice," or a combination of the two words.

By the time of the Harvest Feast, the sword Ice is in Lannister or Ser Ilyn Payne's hands, maybe even being melted by Tobho Mott. When he distributes the especially choice dishes, Is Bran sending "shards" of Ice to the northern bannermen, those loyal to House Stark? If so, is this like the shattering of the sword in the AGoT prologue, which becomes like needles? 

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When the blades touched, the steel shattered.

A scream echoed through the forest night, and the longsword shivered into a hundred brittle pieces, the shards scattering like a rain of needles. Royce went to his knees, shrieking, and covered his eyes. Blood welled between his fingers. (AGoT, Prologue.)

The division of the sword into small pieces is significant to the ice / eyes pun because the shattered blade pierces Ser Waymar's eye. 

The distribution of "ice echoes" to the northern lords could also relate to the story of Torrhen Stark kneeling for Aegon the Conqueror. Aegon does not incorporate the swords of the northern bannermen into the Iron Throne. For reasons that are not made clear, the northern swords are not destroyed by the new king. When Bran distributes "especially choice" food to the lords, is he returning the swords to the bannermen?

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King Torrhen did send Brandon Snow across the Trident. But he crossed with three maesters by his side, not to kill but to treat. All through the night messages went back and forth. The next morning, Torrhen Stark himself crossed the Trident. There upon the south bank of the Trident, he knelt, laid the ancient crown of the Kings of Winter at Aegon's feet, and swore to be his man. He rose as Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, a king no more. From that day to this day, Torrhen Stark is remembered as the King Who Knelt...but no Northman left his burned bones beside the Trident, and the swords Aegon collected from Lord Stark and his vassals were not twisted or melted or bent. (The World of Ice and Fire - The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest)

To see whether there might be a little stronger hint about "echo" or "ice" in an expanded anagram, I ran the words "especially choice" through an anagram website.

Well. 

I believe this term ("especially choice") refers not only to ice, but to icicles. Nadden recently made a nice catch about sickles and icicles, with reference to that AGOT prologue. But sickles and icicles would also be relevant to the Harvest Feast because sickles are used for harvesting wheat. If a family or region is associated with winter and snow and ice, however, their harvest might better be reaped using icicles. And I won't go into it here, but there are other posts in this forum (or on the Internet in general) where you can read up on the sacrifice of the Summer and Winter Kings as the personification of the harvest and the rebirth of spring - the cycle (icicle?) of seasons. Bran experiences a symbolic death at the Harvest Feast (but we expect that he will be reborn when he returns from Bloodraven's cave). So you could say that Bran is John Barleycorn, being harvested by the northern lords as they celebrate the end of the summer season. 

But it gets even juicier.

The "especially choice" anagram possibilities include echo, ice, icicles and eyes but also PEACHES. One of my symbolism obsessions in ASOIAF, discussed here, here and here, among other places.

In the "Symbolism 101" thread, comments contributed by participants led me to conclude that peaches are for lovers and swords are for fighters - in other words, peaches and swords are paired opposites. Since the Stark sword is called Ice, the combining of peaches and Ice in the "especially choice" dishes represents a rare situation in the series - somehow Bran (or the Winterfell cook?) has the ability to unite peaches and swords.

It's a longer story, with some details spelled out in that third peach link, above, but House Tyrell may also have the power to unite peaches and swords, as do poachers who might also be called foragers with wordplay on "forges". Foods that can be poached are eggs (cooked in boiling water) and fruits (cooked in wine). I wonder whether poached peaches were among the especially choice dishes at the harvest feast. 

One of these days I am going to write up the peach / sheep wordplay that (I believe) represents another pair of opposites in the GRRM system of symbols. I believe that part of the analysis involves the peach as a representative of fire colors: red, orange and yellow. This would also be consistent with the pairing of opposites - peaches and swords; fire and ice; summer and winter. 

So GRRM was not being vague when he mentioned Bran directing "especially choice" dishes to the lords on the dais. He was being specific and he was serving up a major symbol incorporating peach and icicle wordplay. 

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