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Puns and Wordplay


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Thanks to redditor I-am-the-Peel for the main bulk of this one. And it's pretty juicy.

So, her theory is that Mance Rayder may be working for the Others. Full theory on reddit here: https://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/comments/11pn9bx/spoilers_extended_mance_rayder_is_a_servant_of/


By reading his role as someone who is helping, or aiding, necromancy (raising the dead) we get this parsing of his name: (Necro) mancer Aider. Mance - R - Ayder ... etc.

But -  if we add the fact that he was "born a crow" then we can use the word né, as in Jane Smith, né Thompson. Born Thompson, but changed their surname. Né crow. Born a crow ( his father was in the NW). This completes the wordplay.

Then we get Né crow - mance - r  - ayder

Necromancer Aider.


Edited by Sandy Clegg
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I just want to document, for the record, @Evolett's brilliant observation that the Trident (along with its Neptune associations) is a big visual pun for the Greek letter "psi."

And "psi" is a term that GRRM has outright used in past works to refer to telepathy and other mind-powers--for instance, in Tuf Voyaging, with reference to cats, and the "psi-psych" in Nightflyers who studies telepaths. So it's likely intentional!

In my opinion, the Trident also reflects the three competing magical bloodlines that are adapted to incompatible terrains, so it all being "psy" in the end makes sense in this respect too (including the corpse-handling Others: see Nightflyers). Hats off, Evolett! 

My contribution is not as substantial, but I just threw in the joke of the Stark siblings connecting to one another through their wolf dreams is perhaps an instance of "nep-tuning." :D


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Another fun one.

In Jon Conningtom's chapter we meet the Golden Company's spymaster, Lysono Maar, who is essentially the answer to 'what if Dany was a male sellsword? ....'


with lilac eyes and white-gold hair and lips that would have been the envy of a whore. At first glance, Griff had almost taken him for a woman. His fingernails were painted purple, and his earlobes dripped with pearls and amethysts.

Heavy Dany symbolism. And who is Dany?

One of her many titles = Slayer of Lies.

Lies are killed. 

Lies are no more.

Lysono Maar.

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I'm sure that this has been discussed somewhere in the thread, but it just hit me recently while re-reading the Sansa snow castle chapter that roadside is a perfect backwards anagram for side road.


"Do you require guarding?" Marillion said lightly. "I am composing a new song, you should know. A song so sweet and sad it will melt even your frozen heart. 'The Roadside Rose,' I mean to call it. About a baseborn girl so beautiful she bewitched every man who laid eyes upon her."—ASOS VII

A side road is another path to to possibly the same destination. I say possibly because it can sometimes be a meandering by that takes you to a different destination or slows you down. If read backwards, roadside implies Sansa as a possible side road to the weirwoods.  It made me look at the other occurrences in the text and while the word in full only appears 7 times in the text, the passages are very interesting. 

The Gate of the Gods was open when they reached it, but two dozen wayns were lined up along the roadside, loaded with casks of cider, barrels of apples, bales of hay, and some of the biggest pumpkins Jaime had ever seen. Almost every wagon had its guards; men-at-arms wearing the badges of small lordlings, sellswords in mail and boiled leather, sometimes only a pink-cheeked farmer's son clutching a homemade spear with a fire-hardened point. Jaime smiled at them all as he trotted past. At the gate, the gold cloaks were collecting coin from each driver before waving the wagons through. "What's this?" Steelshanks demanded.
"They got to pay for the right to sell inside the city. By command of the King's Hand and the master of coin."

You can enter the city of the gods via the side road, but payment must be made, and it usually, means your death or sacrifice.


After the hardships of the long relentless drive south, the prospect of even a single night in an inn had cheered Tyrion mightily … though he rather wished it had not been this inn again, with all its memories. His father had set a grueling pace, and it had taken its toll. Men wounded in the battle kept up as best they could or were abandoned to fend for themselves. Every morning they left a few more by the roadside, men who went to sleep never to wake. Every afternoon a few more collapsed along the way. And every evening a few more deserted, stealing off into the dusk. Tyrion had been half-tempted to go with them.—AGOT Tyrion IX

Using the side road is also treasonous.


"Treason is a noxious weed," Pycelle declared solemnly. "It must be torn up, root and stem and seed, lest new traitors sprout from every roadside."—AGOT Sansa V

I am curious about the implication of this passage of side roads once leading to villages where marriages and newborns were celebrated...especially the newborn aspect. It suggests that children are never born in those villages anymore. Could this be a hint about George's neverborn from his infamous outline.


"Most have lost their homes. Suffering is everywhere . . . and grief, and death. Before coming to King's Landing, I tended to half a hundred little villages too small to have a septon of their own. I walked from each one to the next, performing marriages, absolving sinners of their sins, naming newborn children. Those villages are no more, Your Grace. Weeds and thorns grow where gardens once flourished, and bones litter the roadsides."

—AFFC Cersei VI

This passage is very interesting.

When Podrick asked the name of the inn where they hoped to spend the night, Septon Meribald seized upon the question eagerly, perhaps to take their minds off the grisly sentinels along the roadside. "The Old Inn, some call it. There has been an inn there for many hundreds of years, though this inn was only raised during the reign of the first Jaehaerys, the king who built the kingsroad. Jaehaerys and his queen slept there during their journeys, it is said. For a time the inn was known as the Two Crowns in their honor, until one innkeep built a bell tower, and changed it to the Bellringer Inn. Later it passed to a crippled knight named Long Jon Heddle, who took up ironworking when he grew too old to fight. He forged a new sign for the yard, a three-headed dragon of black iron that he hung from a wooden post. The beast was so big it had to be made in a dozen pieces, joined with rope and wire. When the wind blew it would clank and clatter, so the inn became known far and wide as the Clanking Dragon."
"Is the dragon sign still there?" asked Podrick.
"No," said Septon Meribald. "When the smith's son was an old man, a bastard son of the fourth Aegon rose up in rebellion against his trueborn brother and took for his sigil a black dragon. These lands belonged to Lord Darry then, and his lordship was fiercely loyal to the king. The sight of the black iron dragon made him wroth, so he cut down the post, hacked the sign into pieces, and cast them into the river. One of the dragon's heads washed up on the Quiet Isle many years later, though by that time it was red with rust. The innkeep never hung another sign, so men forgot the dragon and took to calling the place the River Inn. In those days, the Trident flowed beneath its back door, and half its rooms were built out over the water. Guests could throw a line out their window and catch trout, it's said. There was a ferry landing here as well, so travelers could cross to Lord Harroway's Town and Whitewalls."—AFFC Brienne VII


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@Stormy4400 The topic of Marillion's song for Sansa is an excellent one, and I can't remember another thread discussing it, so nice catch.

The excerpts you helpfully provided seem to cluster around a theme of death or disuse, in my opinion. I don't see the "side road" motif that you suggest although I could be persuaded with more evidence. What comes across to me is the sense that a person or thing has stepped out of the road (a journey or path is often a literary metaphor for living a life) and become - at least temporarily - removed from the journey. There is still a destination ahead and there is an implication that the person can get back on the path. (In these books, rebirth is a regular occurrence and it can take many forms.)

I'm trying out the idea that singers "invent" characters into new roles: a hero becomes a hero because a singer writes a song about him. So Marillion writing a song for Sansa may be a way of telling the reader that Sansa has been off the road (on the roadside) but she is about to rise again (i.e., become a rose). 

I never know how far to take the anagram thing but I experimented with "roadside rose" to see if there might be a hidden message in the title. The first one that came up is "dead sororise." What the what? This might fit well with other important symbols in the books - "dead" could confirm that something on the roadside has experienced a death of some kind. The "-rise" in the second word could tell us that the dead person or thing will rise. Or maybe the salient bit is "-ise," part of the ice/eyes wordplay that tells us a sword and/or eyes are part of the symbolism. "Soror" is a Greek root word for sister, like "sororities" in college. 

Is Marillion turning Sansa into Dark Sister? That seems like a good fit for the trained liar and schemer that Littlefinger is educating. 

Marillion as a smith is an interesting idea. He once possessed the shadow cat cloak that came into Tyrion's possession shortly before he was imprisoned at the Eyrie. When Lysa tries to kill Sansa, Marillion is singing a song about a lady sewing in her garden. Is that an Arya allusion, refering to the sword called Needle? I think Marillion may be a magical version of Tyrion: his name includes the word "lion," he tries to have sex with Sansa (I know Tyrion does not do this, but he is her husband and could if he wanted to), he is badly maimed and he seems to have died or been imprisoned in an ice cell but maybe not because Sweetrobin can still hear him. One of those interesting unexplained situations that GRRM likes to include to keep us guessing or digging into the symbolism. 

But there are lots of other possibilities for "roadside rose" anagrams, including red door, odor, maybe something to do with the sea or the "dire" of direwolf. Another complete anagram is "adored osiers." An osier is a type of willow tree - Sansa is a parallel for the Willow character at the inn at the crossroads.

Marillion is wrong about Sansa being a baseborn girl, of course, so I look at that to see whether GRRM might have buried a clue there about what is going on with this song. "Lion grabber"? Does Sansa bewitch lions in order to grab them? Will she be a grabber at a later point? Hmm. Azor Ahai slayed a lion in an attempt to temper the blade of his sword. But who knows. Robin, barrel, barber - all of these things play a role in the books but it's hard to say whether the author deliberately linked them to this moment in Sansa's arc, or if it is just a coincidence. 

So thank you for raising an interesting topic. Worth exploring in greater depth, for sure. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

This is surely the perfect place to post this.

Wordplay beginners and experts alike will get something out of this, I promise. 

Here, Simon carefully goes through each clue in this Friday cryptic crossword from the Times (a notoriously hard one), explaining how he analyses the wordplay as he goes, in the gentlest, most methodical way imaginable.

Simply delightful. He and Mark also do a lot of arcane SuDoku videos which you should absolutely check out.

Oh, and 4 Across may contain something of relevance to a certain corner of the ASOIAF theory community. ;)


Edited by Sandy Clegg
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  • 3 weeks later...

Wherever whores go …

It’s one of the most pondered questions in the ASOIAF community. Where do whores go? Tyrion’s oft-repeated mantra in ADWD,  from his fathers last words. So, could puns/wordplay be our friends in solving this riddle? Let’s give it a go.

As a question, we should examine the possibility of double meanings lying within it first.

  • Wherever - nothing to be found here.
  • Whores - possibly a reference to hoarfrost or House Hoare? But still doesn’t lead me anywhere.
  • Go - a humble word with a hundred meanings. And here we may have the lynchpin. 

If we cast our minds into the gutter, linguistically speaking, I think we have a likely solution. The big clue being the site at which Tywin meets his end. 

On the privy.

One euphemism for taking a pee/shit is needing to ‘go’. If you can’t go, you can’t go. It happens. If you’re camping, you might go in the bushes.

So ‘go’ is a toilet-usage verb. All good dictionaries will confirm this, for you non-native English speakers out there.

Now, amongst US speakers, there happens to be a very famous euphemism for toilet which is of course: ‘JOHN’  as in:

“Uh oh I really gotta go. Where’s the john?”

This brings us neatly back to ‘whores’ as another famous US meaning of ‘John’ is a client of sex workers. Without johns, they would have no business. 

So … if one were to make a pun about where sex workers might ‘go’ when they need to pee, the answer might very well be:

the john. 

All of which naturally begs the question: how is Jon Snow wrapped up in this riddle? To that, I have no answer yet. But I’m working on it!

Edited by Sandy Clegg
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  • 1 month later...

As I leaf through some previously chilly dormant parts of series I’ve found some words hotly at play in the text. There’s a cold burning relationship between Sap and Fire that feverishly and persistently exists. Separately, they are both cool metaphorical terms for warm blood and have a frigid  association with eyes. The cold brooding weeping red eyes of the arid heart-trees were seemingly dripping (but now are frozen) with tears of bloody sap. Frozen sap seems to be another way of saying frozen fire. When we look at the eyes of Ser Waymar Royce the blood, seemingly red as fire, from his wounded left eye is bleeding because of a shard of frozen fire while the left eye is described to appear like a sapphire (sap+fire). It appears the two words, sap and fire, have come together to forge a description of the pupil burning blue in Waymar’s right eye (Sap + (ph)Fire = sapphire). Another interesting note is that the frozen sap in the eyes of the heart-tree looks like rubies. Rubies and sapphire are nearly the same on a molecular level.


We, as avid rereaders ASOIAF, understand that the icy eyes can be steamy hints to bloodlines. And that molten bloodlines provide an icy undercurrent to the whole series. And with a little research we learn that sapphires are the Yin to the Yang of the rubies. They are two aspects of a greater whole.


Symeon Star-eyes and Aemond Targaryen both have have eyes replaced with sapphires.


Symeon Star-eyes, a legendary figure from the Age of Heroes, is said to have sapphires for eyes and once saw fiery hellhounds fighting while visiting the snowy Nightfort. And the cold blooded Aemond Targaryen, also has one sapphire adorning his other good eye. He is a member of House Targaryen and his sigil is the a three-headed dragon breathing flames, red on black.


And the sticky hands and cheek of sap belonging to the first POV character of the series, Will, up a tree looking for a fire also seems to combine, perhaps in his subconscious, both elements of “Sap” and “Fire”.

Edited by Nadden
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