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Curled Finger

Brienne's Honor in Pennytree

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@Lost Melnibonean,  an extremely well cited explanation.  That 1st dream sure is a weird one and I did enjoy your take on it.  I read once a long time ago that Jamie has his famous nickname that should change if he is successful in redeeming himself.   Folks offered their ideas about what other name he could take on to counter balance Kingslayer.  King Maker and Dragon Slayer were both pretty strong contenders.   I find this very interesting that you don't side him with Dany at all, though few do.   I understand the connection to Rhaegar's children and certainly we are faced with potentially 2 of them.  But Blackfyre support?  Holy cow!   I remember thinking Jamie's colors were strange for such an um, meaningless dinner, but I was thinking he was just overdressed!  I do admire you folks who identify and understand the symbolism because it is hopelessly lost on me.   

I have to know.  Who revives Jamie?  

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On 30/12/2017 at 3:51 PM, Curled Finger said:

Hola Leo!  I had to read your post a couple of times to get the cobwebs out of my mind.  Yep, leave it to you...You bring up an excellent point.  And ruined my entire day.   I'm thinking about these chapters and time lines and 1st thought was "He won't tell us".  OK now that I've been jump started today you're right.   They've gone (or not--we don't actually see them leave) on quest.  You know the timelines give me a headache.   

Ah the flashback.  I reckon we will get more of those than ever before in TWOW.   Preston Jacobs has a series about Jon's stabbing wherein he lays out a 70 day scenario for Jon's story at least, in ADWD.   I don't know if it's right or not or exactly where Pennytree occurs in this.   Thanks to your point here, I am very loosely guessing it would be end of the 1st month to 2 weeks into the 2nd month.  I believe Jamie lies down under a crescent moon, if that is of any help determining when.   Rather than me boring you with my musings about when how about you tell me what you think?  I don't think I know anyone more suited than you to make an imaginative guess.   

Happy new year CF, I hope 2018 serves you well!

I'm still unable to determine the timeline, had a look at Preston's Stabbing video and was impressed by the timeline he has assembled!

I do think there is a great chance that Jaime's tale will pick up with him as a prisoner of TBWB, several weeks after Pennytree. I wonder if all of this is building up to some downfall for the Freys. With only two books left, one would think that if they are going to get their just desserts then it would most likely be soon, so as to free up page time for the more heavy duty stuff to come. Brienne, Jaime and LSH have aso all have had recent involvement with one Frey or the other.

If it is indeed the case that Jaime been in LSH's possession for an extended time come TWOW then perhaps we could get some scenario where the Hangwoman sends Jamie in as a double agent against the Freys - Stoneheart essentially made Brienne an offer of "be my pawn against Jaime or die" so I could see a similar choice being given to the Kingslayer in regards to those damn Freys.

"Goldenhand" himself might be prone to such manipulations by LSH if she somehow threatens Brienne's safety, like how Brienne herself was coerced by the threat on hers and Pod's lives. "The Beauty" has been a strong influence over Ser Lannister, and he obviously values her greatly. With so much of this golden Lion's recent arc dedicated to his own redemption I feel it is quite likely that he would view some covert pact with the former Lady Stark as a form of bittersweet penance for all he has done, more so if it were done to save the life of his friend, The Maid of Tarth.

Having the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard show up at the Twins to orchestrate some form of deception could be a sound strategic move for the Brotherhood - would old Lord Frey, paranoid as he is, really have any reason to refuse Jaime entry to his castle? In light of the recent hangings of several Freys, Lord Walder would have many reasons to seek audience with the current King's "uncle", a man who has also recently been involved with another Frey claiming Riverrun.

Once inside the Twins, perhaps Jaime could take a cue from his notorious ancestor Lann The Clever and cause all sorts of mischief under the cover of darkness - letting the lions loose, if you will. Some disguised members of the BwB, and perhaps Brienne herself, could even accompany him along the way. 

In terms of Brienne's honour, such a situation might be the least headache inducing. If she and Jaime were to head to the Twins to kill some Freys then she would be upholding any previous vows she has made to both Jaime and Cat, along with potentially ridding the realm of the oath breaking Freys and avenging the murder of Cat herself.

If everything were to go to plan then access to the North would be freed up which could help greatly in Brienne's search for Arya and Sansa - It has been the opinion amongst the public that "Arya" is in Winterfell anyway, so the Maid of Tarth might be looking to heard there next.

While such deception might seem out of character and perhaps even morally wrong to Brienne, we should keep in mind that the Freys broke the sacred laws of guest right by murdering the woman to whom she had made sacred oaths.

Members of the Brotherhood might see the value of such a ploy, after all, how long do these men really want to go around hanging Freys for? 

If the Blackfish has indeed joined up with Tom and the rest of the gang then he he might also see the wisdom in this course of action. Brynden Tully clearly still believes in whatever cause he and the Young Wolf were fighting for, judging by his hold out at Riverrun, and would most likely not view the previously touched upon "running around the woods hanging people" as a sustainable war strategy.

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@Leo of House Cartel, a very Happy 2018 to you my friend!   

I do enjoy your thoughts random and pondered.   There is an elegance to the words you choose that conveys the complicated in a most comprehensive way.   Thank you for getting back to me.  Yes, I agree that Brienne is the bait and Jamie is the prize.   I do wonder what that makes Hyle?  We know Pod is the insurance for Brienne's cooperation.  We've had such an enlightening conversation here that I would not be surprised at any turn Jamie and Brienne's story takes.   As you say, there is a need to decrease POVs as well as get to larger stories in TWOW.   A wrap up to this drama should take us in the direction to deal with The Others.  We will lose one of these POVs--whether Jamie or Brienne becomes some undead thing I hope neither loses their sense of humor.  Jamie is simply too much fun to read!  I would enjoy a better understanding of the BWB's intentions and an "outing" of sorts in having members such as the Blackfish in unity with Jamie's ideals.  Another meeting between them would be so much fun.  

It's obvious you're very busy, Leo.   I do appreciate the time and thought you dedicated to your reply.  Every conversation I enjoy is so much richer for your contributions.   

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On 11/1/2018 at 11:39 PM, Curled Finger said:

Why do we suspect Elder Brother may be Jonathor Darry?   Well, we know where Barristan and Jamie are and the rest of the kingsgaurd are dead with the exception of Jonathor Darry, whereabouts and fate unknown.   Very much like Richard Lonmouth's fate is unknown.  A Kings Guard would be valuable in the aftermath of war.  It's curious his body wasn't found.  What could have happened to him?   How about he became a broken man after his Prince's death and defeat?  Elder Brother is a former warrior by his own admission.   He's pretty adamant about The Hound being dead and at peace while he knows full well he's harboring the newly repentant Sandor Clegane.  And there is that so cryptic reference to waiting for the 7th ruby.   That quote can be taken a lot of ways, but I wondered if it's not some reference to another missing white brother--Jamie perhaps? (7KG ?) Elder Brother just fits the description of Septon Meribald's description of human fall out.  As I say there is less persuasive evidence for Elder Brother's identity than Lem Lemoncloak's. 

I like it, especially the ruby part (I also think it means something). But there are 2 things that make me skeptical:

First of all I don't think the story he told Brienne about his life is a lie. It's just vague. He doesn't lie about The Hound, technically. He says he saw him dying. He uses a metaphoric level for himsel too (when he says he died in battle). There is one thing not clear: who did he bury? Hound's armor? If he didn't do a grave, where did Rorge take the helm?

Second, the age. Elder brother is 44, Battle of trident was in 283, so 27/28. It could be, but I think Jonothor is older, no proof but only the way I see his description.

On 11/1/2018 at 11:39 PM, Curled Finger said:

His motivation could have been anything, but I do think it has more to do with Jamie than Sansa, the quest or Brienne herself.

Yes probably for Jaime.

 

 

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35 minutes ago, Cridefea said:

I like it, especially the ruby part (I also think it means something). But there are 2 things that make me skeptical:

First of all I don't think the story he told Brienne about his life is a lie. It's just vague. He doesn't lie about The Hound, technically. He says he saw him dying. He uses a metaphoric level for himsel too (when he says he died in battle). There is one thing not clear: who did he bury? Hound's armor? If he didn't do a grave, where did Rorge take the helm?

Second, the age. Elder brother is 44, Battle of trident was in 283, so 27/28. It could be, but I think Jonothor is older, no proof but only the way I see his description.

Yes probably for Jaime.

 

 

Elder Brother and everything happening west of our action here is fascinating.   Is there another separate conspiracy?   Who is in Sandor's grave?  Why did we get 2 completely different perspectives on the rape of the Saltpans?  Why was there no guilt in Septon Meribald or Dog for that matter--he was only traveling with her.   Yah, I don't buy it either.  There is so much happening all over the Riverlands and there is so much to discuss.  But I'm pleased you were able to read through the Darry stuff.  I don't know that I'm convinced by the little evidence or coincidence of corresponding similarities between Darry and EB.   It's awfully thin.  

The rubies are an entirely different conversation by themselves.   Man that was an enigmatic statement.  

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11 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

@Leo of House Cartel, a very Happy 2018 to you my friend!   

I do enjoy your thoughts random and pondered.   There is an elegance to the words you choose that conveys the complicated in a most comprehensive way.   Thank you for getting back to me.  Yes, I agree that Brienne is the bait and Jamie is the prize.   I do wonder what that makes Hyle?  We know Pod is the insurance for Brienne's cooperation.  We've had such an enlightening conversation here that I would not be surprised at any turn Jamie and Brienne's story takes.   As you say, there is a need to decrease POVs as well as get to larger stories in TWOW.   A wrap up to this drama should take us in the direction to deal with The Others.  We will lose one of these POVs--whether Jamie or Brienne becomes some undead thing I hope neither loses their sense of humor.  Jamie is simply too much fun to read!  I would enjoy a better understanding of the BWB's intentions and an "outing" of sorts in having members such as the Blackfish in unity with Jamie's ideals.  Another meeting between them would be so much fun.  

It's obvious you're very busy, Leo.   I do appreciate the time and thought you dedicated to your reply.  Every conversation I enjoy is so much richer for your contributions.   

Wether we lose or not povs I think we need to have better conected povs instead of each 10 people having their independent story. For exemple, in the war of the 5 kings although the characters were far way most of the chapters were related (with the exception of jon and danny). In affc everyone was doing their thing so it feels like a lot of stories in a book and that we need less povs.

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5 minutes ago, divica said:

Wether we lose or not povs I think we need to have better conected povs instead of each 10 people having their independent story. For exemple, in the war of the 5 kings although the characters were far way most of the chapters were related (with the exception of jon and danny). In affc everyone was doing their thing so it feels like a lot of stories in a book and that we need less povs.

I'm actually pondering the structure of TWOW since we began this discussion a couple of weeks ago.  There was a statement a while back that GRRM said he was cutting POVs to 13 in TWOW.  I've not heard another peep about it, so perhaps it is not Martin's intention.  But that idea gave rise to life, death and all things in between.  Personally, I agree that the plots need to merge and make sense within each other and to the overall story.  Not that I would give a single Greyjoy chapter up.   I realize what a really interesting thing our author did in allowing us in Jamie and Cersei's heads and later with Ser Barristan.  Gotta admit Martin is not sparing with the clever.  But you're right,things need to shore up if there are only to be 2 more books. 

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4 minutes ago, Curled Finger said:

I'm actually pondering the structure of TWOW since we began this discussion a couple of weeks ago.  There was a statement a while back that GRRM said he was cutting POVs to 13 in TWOW.  I've not heard another peep about it, so perhaps it is not Martin's intention.  But that idea gave rise to life, death and all things in between.  Personally, I agree that the plots need to merge and make sense within each other and to the overall story.  Not that I would give a single Greyjoy chapter up.   I realize what a really interesting thing our author did in allowing us in Jamie and Cersei's heads and later with Ser Barristan.  Gotta admit Martin is not sparing with the clever.  But you're right,things need to shore up if there are only to be 2 more books. 

I think he said by the end of winds we would have 13 povs. In the begining it is impossible. But to me the winds has to be 2 volumes so maybe I am not the best person to talk about it.

And I suspect aeron and theon won t outlive the winds of winter. One sacrificed to summon a kraken and the other after the conflict with the boltons is taken care of hasn t much to do in the story...

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2 hours ago, Cridefea said:

I like it, especially the ruby part (I also think it means something). But there are 2 things that make me skeptical:

First of all I don't think the story he told Brienne about his life is a lie. It's just vague. He doesn't lie about The Hound, technically. He says he saw him dying. He uses a metaphoric level for himsel too (when he says he died in battle). There is one thing not clear: who did he bury? Hound's armor? If he didn't do a grave, where did Rorge take the helm?

Interesting you should raise the details of Elder Brother and his role in the Hound's "burial." For the thread I just posted about borrowed armor, I found that there is a parallel between Jaime's conversation with Ser Loras about Renly's borrowed armor and his burial, juxtaposed with Brienne's conversation with the Elder Brother about the Hound's helmet and his grave:

Tell me, ser. Who was wearing Renly's armor?"

For a moment Loras Tyrell looked as though he might refuse, but in the end he remembered his vows. "My brother," he said sullenly. "Renly was taller than me, and broader in the chest. His armor was too loose on me, but it suited Garlan well."

"Was the masquerade your notion, or his?"

"Lord Littlefinger suggested it. He said it would frighten Stannis's ignorant men-at-arms."

"And so it did." And some knights and lordlings too. "Well, you gave the singers something to make rhymes about, I suppose that's not to be despised. What did you do with Renly?"

"I buried him with mine own hands, in a place he showed me once when I was a squire at Storm's End. No one shall ever find him there to disturb his rest."

ASoS, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII

"There is one thing I do know, however. The man you hunt is dead."

That was another shock. "How did he die?"

"By the sword, as he had lived."

"You know this for a certainty?"

"I buried him myself. I can tell you where his grave lies, if you wish. I covered him with stones to keep the carrion eaters from digging up his flesh, and set his helm atop the cairn to mark his final resting place. That was a grievous error. Some other wayfarer found my marker and claimed it for himself. The man who raped and killed at Saltpans was not Sandor Clegane, though he may be as dangerous. The riverlands are full of such scavengers. . . . "

AFfC, Brienne VI

It would never have crossed my mind to compare Ser Loras and the Elder Brother, but there you have it. Once you spot the parallel, you can pick out more details:

  • The Elder Brother says he buried The Hound himself; Ser Loras says he buried Renly himself.
  • Both men took pains to keep the grave secure - Loras by choosing a hidden location; the Elder Brother by piling stones on the grave.
  • Ser Loras says his elder brother wore Renly's armor; the Elder Brother says a wayfarer is wearing The Hound's helmet.
  • People are frightened by the armor / helmet or by the person wearing the dead guy's armor / helmet.
  • The dead guys may be literally or symbolically alive - a singer described Renly's ghost coming back to fight and to kiss Margaery goodbye; the Hound may have been "reborn" as the gravedigger.

If the author truly wants us to compare Ser Loras and the Elder Brother, that suggests to me that the Elder Brother is a relatively decent man. Ser Loras is young, self-assured and a bit impetuous, but seems mostly honorable. He did ride a mare in heat at the jousting match with Ser Gregor and he killed two innocent co-workers in a fit of rage when Renly was killed, but other than that . . .

One thing that's interesting about the Elder Brother excerpt is that he was especially concerned about carrion eaters eating the flesh of the Hound. We have seen Biter eating flesh - he chewed fingers off the guards in the Harrenhal dungeon after the Weasel Soup episode. It was Rorge who took and wore the Hound's helmet, but he is closely associated with Biter. Weese dies at Harrenhal with his dog apparently tearing out his throat and eating his face. I have found parallels between the death of Weese and the death of Joffrey, which might bring this around again to Ser Garlan if the Tyrells were part of a plot to poison Joffrey. And perhaps undermines my confidence that Ser Loras is as honorable as he seems at first glance . . .

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I know this thread is sinking into a well-earned rest but I am still intrigued by the mystery of Brienne's honor and honesty, and I wanted to finish a AFfC Brienne re-read to see what I could find. Last night I read Brienne IV in AFfC (chapter 20) and found a lot of discussion about lies and honesty and honor, particularly in dialogue with Nimble Dick Crabb.

Dick seems to be an important symbol and parallel character. He is a guide, like many minor characters who help our POVs to find obscure destinations along their journeys. He is a singer and storyteller, and we know that these characters often reveal truths and hints of things to come in the form of parables and legends.

In Dick's chats with Brienne, she brings up Ser Galladon of Morne, the Perfect Knight, who receives a sword from the maiden of the new gods. The story seems like it could be a variation the Florian and Jonquil story, with a maiden and a knight-fool but I also get the distinct impression that GRRM is deliberately withholding details of the Florian and Jonquil story from us. Either he doesn't want to tell us too soon how their story turns out or, like the game of cyvasse, the metaphor is too complex and he will never tell us how it turns out. Dick also sings a bit of the Bear and Maiden Fair song during the trip.

After Brienne paraphrases the Galladon story for Dick, he immediately calls Galladon "the Perfect Fool" because he made sparing use of the magic sword he had just been given. In earlier chapters, Brienne thought about Florian (among other legendary characters) carrying a magic sword as she contemplated Oathkeeper in the privacy of her room at an inn. Dick seems focused on swords and who should use them at what points and for what purposes, trying to persuade Brienne to let him get close to her (non-Oathkeeper) sword or to borrow a sword. (He is a former knight, with a lord's sigil ripped off his shirt, but carries only a dagger.) Only at the point of entering their destination, the ruined castle called The Whispers (also Dick's birthplace), does Brienne finally hand a sword to Dick. He is unable to use it as his knee is immediately shattered by a triple morningstar weapon wielded by the fool Shagwell: "The sword she'd given him went flying from his hand and vanished in the weeds."

I've been trying to think of parallel characters but I'm not sure whether there is an exact match for him: in his guide work, he reminds me of Theon taking Lady Dustin into the crypts at Winterfell which she and her men can't find without his help. The crypt is not Theon's birthplace, but he admits there that he wishes he had been a Stark and we learn that there was an ancient Stark king called Theon. Like Dick, after Theon becomes Reek, he carries only a dagger and he suspects that he will be unable to use a sword because of the maiming of his hands. He puts a lot of thought into the missing swords in the crypt. Both men wear dirty rags.

But Dick seems to parallel Ser Dontos as well. Both men are hard drinkers. Brienne passed through the ruined Hollard keep, birthplace of Ser Dontos, earlier in her travels and her trip to Crackclaw point takes her to Dick Crabb's birthplace, the Whispers. Both men undertake the task of guide in return for payment in gold dragon coins. Ser Dontos, of course, evokes the Florian and Jonquil story when he pledges to help Sansa escape from King's Landing. He is a former knight who wants to be a knight again just for the moment of helping Sansa through a secret passage out of the Red Keep - similar to Dick Crabb wanting a sword again? Both Dontos and Dick Crabb die shortly after reaching their destinations: Dick killed by Shagwell and Dontos killed by Littlefinger's crossbow men.

If Nimble Dick Crabb is like Ser Dontos, do we also have to consider whether he is like Shagwell? Brienne is hoping that the fool Nimble Dick had sent to Crackclaw point was actually Ser Dontos, traveling with Sansa and/or Arya. Only at the very end of the journey does she learn that the fool is actually the nightmarish, violent Shagwell, a member of the Bloody Mummers led by Vargo Hoat and a fugitive from the newly imposed law and order regime represented by Randall Tarly.

Rebirths take many forms in ASOIAF but returning to a birthplace seems to be a clear signal that a rebirth can go forward. I speculated earlier in this thread that Pod was a reborn variation on Dontos because he showed up just as Brienne took shelter in the ruined keep of House Hollard. (I really love the idea that young Pod is the Florian to Brienne's Jonquil, and I smile at the author's creative inversion of the brave knight and fair maid archetype.) Just as Brienne slays Shagwell and Dick Crabb is buried in his birthplace and "paid" the two gold dragons Brienne had promised him, we have another rebirth: Ser Hyle Hunt finally catches up to Brienne and Pod.

There is something vaguely appropriate about a possible blend of Shagwell and Dick Crabb reborn in Ser Hyle, I think. The reader sees Hyle as a scumbucket dirtbag jerkface for his determined role in the betting pool to take Brienne's maidenhead after she joined Renly's army. Each member of the betting pool bet a gold dragon on the outcome - another detail in common with Dick Crabb. Brienne later beat each member of that betting pool in the melee at the tourney sponsored by Renly. She (with the help of Jaime) also beat the bear in the bear pit into which she was thrown by the Bloody Mummers. But Hyle is not as horrifying as Shagwell, by a long shot. While Nimble Dick is dirty and greedy, perhaps more honorable elements of his character that are reborn in Hyle help to tone down the uglier aspects. I know that Hyle will  undergo something of a redemption as he travels with Brienne and I will look for details that might match up with things we saw in Nimble Dick or in what little we know of Florian and Jonquil.

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I finished one re-read of the Brienne POVs in AFfC and started over again.

I'm not surprised to find that Brienne is turning into a key character in ASOIAF, probably embodying the perfect knight - an echo of the Ser Galladon of Morne tale to which she refers from time to time. There are hints that she has a lot in common with Ser Barristan Selmy, who also seems to present a lot of perfect knight qualities. But attention to details has uncovered a surprising and fascinating development at the same time, through which Brienne may be turning into an embodiment of The Stranger.

(If you don't want to click on the link, elements of this transformation to Stranger include that the first Sansa POV in AGoT introduced us to three "strangers," Ser Barriston, Lord Renly and Ser Illyn. When Renly died in Brienne's arms, she took up Renly's sword. This could signal that she took up his part in the trio of "strangers" introduced to us by Sansa. It may also be relevant that Renly had three "spouses," Margaery, Ser Loras and Brienne, who beat Ser Loras in a melee and onto whose shoulders Renly placed a cloak when she took a vow and joined his Rainbow Guard. Note that the cloak on her shoulders was one that Renly had been reserving for Ser Barriston. The symbolic marriage to the stranger/Renly might support the idea that Brienne is a "silent sister," whose members, we are told in a Brienne POV, are the wives of The Stranger. See comments by @LynnS in the link for some additional thoughts about silent sisters. It occurs to me that this ties in again to the three Strangers from the early Sansa POV, as the silent Ser Illyn is the stranger who frightens Sansa.)

Maybe GRRM is building up to a reveal that the true knight of Sansa's dreams really is the same thing as The Stranger.

Other observations from this Brienne-focused re-read:

Just as Robert killed Rhaegar, Gendry/Renly "kills" Brienne.

"...It's mostly sparrows on the road these days, or worse."

"Worse?" Brienne asked.

"Thieves," said a boy's voice from the stables. "Robbers."

Brienne turned and saw a ghost.

Renly. No hammerblow to the heart could have felled her half so hard.

The inn at the crossroads used to be called the river inn, until the river changed course away from the structure 70 years ago. So Brienne is even standing in the old riverbed - similar to Rhaegar and Robert battling in the river - as she is felled by this hammer.

It may be worth noting that GRRM sets up Gendry as a "stable boy" with his choice of words here. Stableboys frequently appear at key moments. The author also used the word "felled" to describe Brienne's sense of shock at hearing and seeing Gendry for the first time. In an analysis of the name "Winterfell," I was interested to learn that "fell" is another word for a seam, which ties into speculation that Westeros is a big piece of fabric (or pieces of fabric sewn together) with holes and seams where certain residents can access an underworld or other magical realms. Here the author may be using the word to emphasize that Brienne has passed through one of these seams and is seeing a living ghost.

In a similar vein, this earlier remark by Ser Hyle is worth noting: "Either they have themselves a smith, or the old innkeep's ghost is making another iron dragon." Here Gendry is both a smith and (symbolically) a ghost, but focused on recreating (a tribute to) the Targaryen dynasty. Inns seem to represent dynasties, so the author may be giving us a hint about Gendry's heritage and/or destiny.

Brienne's entire quest may be taking place in the underworld.

We know there is something odd about the Elder Brother's story of his past:

". . . My life was writ in red, in blood and wine."

"When did it change?" asked Brienne.

"When I died in the Battle of the Trident. . . . "

He also tells Brienne that, "The man you hunt is dead." This seems like a clear reference to The Hound, but a large percentage of this forum is persuaded that the gravedigger, active on the Quiet Isle, is the Hound.

So what does it mean to be dead in this realm where Brienne is traveling? The imagery continues after she leaves the Quiet Isle.

At Saltpans, Brienne and her traveling companions inquire about spending the night at the castle of Ser Quincy Cox. The woman who finally responds to their insistent knocking says, "We want no strangers here. Begone." As a result, Brienne and her group, "spent the night in the woods, beneath a shelter made of woven branches."

Immediately after recalling that incident in a flashback, the girl proprietor of the inn at the crossroads tells the group they must pay for lodging in silver, "Else you can sleep in the woods with the dead men." Because we know that they already slept in the woods, this line tells us that Brienne and her group slept with the dead the night before.

Later, we know that Brienne will be taken to Lady Stoneheart and the Brotherhood Without Banners. We know that Lady Stoneheart is some kind of reanimated version of the murdered Catelyn Stark and that the BwB has a resident specialist who can bring a dead guy back to life. So the idea seems clear that Brienne's adventures occur in the company of the dead.

I'm not an expert, but my understanding of the Celtic idea of the underworld or otherworld is that it differs from the Christian idea of heaven, where people spend eternity in bliss. The Celtic underworld was a place where gods lived, where there was a perpetual feast under way, and where mortal heroes were sometimes needed or invited to help solve a problem. Sometimes the mortal entered the otherworld by mistake or while exploring (for instance, through a magic wardrobe). In many cases, the warriors were eventually able to leave but there was a distortion of time (a short time in the otherworld could translate into the passage of years in the mainstream world) and the hero who had entered the magical realm would be changed in some way.

The Stranger is associated with death, and I mentioned that the associations between Brienne and some of the identified strangers in the books seems to be strong. So it might be logical for Brienne to travel in an area where "dead" people live. She seems to be still in that otherworld at the end of AFfC. I will be interested to see whether Jaime joins her there and perhaps helps her to get out of it, as he assisted her in getting out of the bear pit at Harrenhal.

Meat

There is some symbolic meaning in the meat that Brienne eats as well as the meat others eat in her presence. Two examples:

When Renly donned his crown, the Maid of Tarth had ridden all the way across the Reach to join him. The king himself had greeted her courteously and welcomed her to his service. Not so his lords and knights. Brienne had not expected a warm welcome. She was prepared for coldness, for mockery, for hostility. She had supped upon such meat before. It was not the scorn of the many that left her confused and vulnerable, but the kindness of the few. The Maid of Tarth had been betrothed three times, but she had never been courted until she came to Highgarden. (AFfC, Brienne III)

Biter's mouth gaped open, impossibly wide. She saw his teeth, yellow and crooked, filed into points. when they closed on the soft meat of her cheek, she hardly felt it. She could feel herself spiraling down into the dark. I cannot die yet, she told herself, there is something I still need to do. (AFfC, Brienne VII)

I'm not yet sure what GRRM is doing with the meat symbolism here, but it may link to something from Brienne's past. In other POVs, Gregor Clegane is referred to as a butcher. He butchers Vargo Hoat, for instance, whose ear was bitten off by Brienne when she was defending herself back in ASoS. Here in AFfC, we have the horse previously known as Stranger (now called Driftwood) who has bitten off the ear of Brother Gillam, one of the monks on the Quiet Isle. So there is another comparison between Brienne and the Stranger. (And, by the way, a possible comparison to Darkstar, Gerold Dayne, who cuts off the ear of Myrcella Baratheon during the kidnapping in Dorne.)

Rorge and Biter were Vargo Hoat's men at one point. Is Biter's attack on Brienne's cheek a turnabout-is-fair-play scenario, with Vargo's henchman getting revenge on the woman who maimed their boss? But Rorge and Biter arrived in the story with Jaqen H'ghar, who "paid" for their saved lives by undertaking some murders at Arya's direction. There is a lot of shared imagery in Arya's sojourn at Harrenhal and Brienne's quest including (as mentioned in my previous post on this thread) the dog that eats Weese's face. Here Brienne kills Rorge, who is wearing the Hound's dog-shaped helmet, and Gendry kills Biter, the guy who ate Brienne's face.

At one point in her travels, Brienne recalls part of her training by the Master at Arms at Evenfall Hall, Ser Goodwin:

"You have a man's strength in your arms," Ser Goodwin had said to her, more than once, "but your heart is as soft as any maid's. It is one thing to train in the yard with a blunted sword in hand, and another to drive a foot of sharpened steel into a man's gut and see the light go out of his eyes." To toughen her, Ser Goodwin used to send her to her father's butcher to slaughter lambs and suckling pigs. The piglets squealed and the lambs screamed like frightened children. By the time the butchering was done Brienne had been blind with tears, her clothes so bloody that she had given them to her maid to burn. (AFfC, Brienne IV)

At Crackclaw Point, Brienne kills a man called Pyg. The later death of Rorge takes almost exactly the form Goodwin described, with Brienne driving her sword through his body and out his back. Apparently her butcher training pays off.

Maybe GRRM's point is that it's a "dog eat dog world" out there. (This is an idiom in English, meaning the world is a rough place to exist.) Given the imagery around Brienne as The Stranger, and Sandor Clegane as The Night, I think the meat and butchery symbolism may relate to a conflict yet to come between Brienne and Sandor. (Possibly between Brienne and Ser Gregor, who is now Ser Robert Strong.)

More Meat. And Maybe Renly's Ghost Again.

In AGoT and ACoK, we see Dany, Jon and Bran (through the direwolf Summer) all eating raw horse meat as they launch into major quests. Does Brienne also eat horse meat as she searches for Sansa? There's this line from Willow, who oversees the orphans at the inn her sister took over after their aunt, Masha Heddle, was hanged by "the lions": "...All we have to eat is horse meat. If you come for whores, there are none. My sister run them off." But Brienne apparently does not eat that horse meat, and doesn't eat horse meat at all in AFfC, as far as I can tell.

Would GRRM leave out the horse meat from Brienne's quest, after making it a standard element in so many other heroes' journeys? Bear with me as I probe one possible answer.

I felt there had to be deeper meaning to Ser Creighton Longbough and Ser Illifer the Penniless, the two hedge knights who are the first people Brienne encounters in her travels. The first thing I noted is that there may be a symbolic knighthood bestowed on her by Ser Illifer, after Brienne recites a vow before him, first swearing by her sword - Ser Creighton notes that, "A knight swears by his sword." - and then evoking the seven gods, after which Ser Creighton says, "She swears well for a maid." Essentially, I think the two knights have symbolically granted her both knighthood and maidenhood.

But why these two hedge knights? Brienne spends quite a bit of time with them, shares several meals and finds them to be decent men - a contrast with the many smallfolk and highborn people who stare at her or laugh at the freakishly large woman wearing armor.

Ser Creighton tells Brienne that he fought at the Blackwater, and that singers sing songs about his deeds. The reader of ASOIAF has heard songs about two combatants at the Blackwater, and both songs are about Renly's ghost (and The Dark Lord, an interesting reference to Stannis). Is GRRM giving us in Ser Creighton a symbolic version of Renly Baratheon? Other than his boasts about fighting at the Blackwater and being remembered in songs, I couldn't figure out a connection between Renly and Ser Creighton. So I fell back on an old habit of mine, which is to check for wordplay and anagrams. I know many people hate anagrams, and I understand that you can make almost anything if you have enough letters to work with. So skip this part if you hate stuff like this. These are possible anagrams I found:

Ser Creighton Longbough = butchering horse go long, butchering hero song log

Ser Herbert Bolling = rebelling brothers

Ser Illifer the Pennyless = Is hell's serpentine flier

Bolling is a name of a knight that Longbough claims he defeated at the Blackwater. If the anagram is correct, it could refer to the rebelling brothers, Renly and Stannis. The possible serpentine reference hidden in Ser Illifer's name is a dragon reference and/or a reference to a staircase at the Red Keep where major characters seem to experience important transitions. If "butchering horse" is part of the hidden meaning in Ser Creighton's name, this could fulfill the need for horse meat in Brienne's hero's journey. I do like the "hero song" alternative, though, even though it doesn't address the missing horse meat. The leftover word "log" is also found in a Gregor Clegane = Green Grace log anagram I think may be correct. Logs are associated with some important moments in the plot, such as Tyrion stepping over a burning log in the fireplace when he climbs the secret ladder to kill Tywin and Shae.

But I'm going to keep working on Ser Creighton and Ser Illifer. Anagrams are perilous as evidence, even if they are fun.

Edit: Ser Creighton and Ser Illifer could represent both the requisite horse meat AND the hatching of a dragon in Brienne's arc. We also see rebelling Greyjoy and Stark brothers as well as Night's Watch brothers, in addition to the Baratheons, so maybe rebel brothers are part of the hero's journey I hadn't yet examined. If GRRM really did intend hidden meanings behind the names, surreptitiously, he could be getting the necessary elements of a hero's journey into Brienne's arc through these bit players so she can move forward with her quest.

What Brienne does eat, for what it's worth.

Brienne's first meal in AFfC is grilled trout shared with her by Ser Creighton and Ser Illifer. The next morning, she shares another meal with the hedge knights: roast squirrel, acorn paste and pickles. These seem really strongly associated with the Tully family and with Bran Stark, who is compared to a squirrel for his climbing and who eats a paste made of trees at an important moment in his own arc. I don't know why the author has put these unique foods into Brienne's arc.

At the Stone Bridge Inn, she washes down a meal of roasted goat meat with a cup of goat's milk and treats Creighton and Illifer to dinner as well. Goat is associated with Vargo Hoat, Tyrion and Penny's brother, Groat.

Then the seafood and honey begins. At the Seven Swords Inn, Brienne eats crab stew and chunks of bread with a dwarf septon who tells her about The Stinking Goose tavern and Dick Crabb boasting about fooling a fool. The next morning, she breaks her fast "drinking a cup of milk and honey with three raw eggs mixed in." She buys hardbread, cheese and flour to take along on her journey. At a village along the route, she buys three crabs from a boy among the fisherfolk. On her initial visit to the Stinking Goose in Maidenpool, Brienne buys a cup of wine but finds it oily and it has a hair floating in it. Traveling to Crackclaw Point, she dreams "of a hot meal" but gnaws on "a strip of hard salt beef." Back at the Stinking Goose in Maidenpool, Brienne ate "greasy sausges, fried bread, half a cup of wine, [and] a flagon of boiled water." On the road with Septon Meribald, she eats salt cod and orange slices. At the Quiet Isle, Brienne ate bread with honey and a stew of "crabs, mussels and at least three different types of fish." At the inn at the crossroads, Septon Meribald has brought along food to distribute to the needy, and the travelers share "salt cod, mutton, vegetables, nuts, and wheels of cheese" as well as porridge and barley bread. Brienne tries to take some food to Gendry, but he does not eat what she brings him before the arrival of Rorge and Biter interrupts their conversation.

Then there is a bit of a switch to root vegetables. On the road to Lady Stoneheart, the gravely wounded Brienne drinks wine and onion broth with carrots given to her by Jeyne Heddle. Thoros of Myr brings bread and cheese and a bowl of stew after Brienne wakes up in his cave. He apologizes that the milk has soured and he has no honey. "The stew was cold and greasy, the bread hard, the cheese harder. Brienne had never eaten anything half so good."

Food is always symbolic of something in ASOIAF. I had hope to discover something about Brienne by examing her meals, especially after the remarks about meat associated with Brienne, but I'm not sure what GRRM is telling us with most of these dishes.

One possibility with the honey is that Brienne is being established as a queen bee during her travels. In addition to the honey she ingests, there is a reference to the landscape being honeycombed with caves and Ser Hyle saying that the chance to fight three outlaws being "like honey" to Brienne, who defeated three men at Crackclaw Point while he watched from a distance.

Stabbed?

Throughout the POVs in AFfC, there are several metaphorical references to Brienne feeling as if she has been stabbed:

His sigil was displayed across his chest: a brown deer dead and bound and slung beneath a pole.

Him. His voice was a punch in her stomach, his face a blade in her bowels. "Ser Hyle," she said stiffly. (AFfC, Brienne III)

"Arya Stark?" Brienne stared open-mouthed, astonished. "You know this? Lady Sansa's sister is alive?"

"Then," said the Elder Brother. "Now . . . I do not know. She may have been amongst the children slain at Saltpans."

The words were a knife in her belly. No, Brienne though. No, that would be too cruel. (AFfC, Brienne VI)

"She wants her son alive, or the men who killed him dead," said the big man. "She wants to feed the crows, like they did at the Red Wedding, Freys and Boltons, aye. We'll give her those, as many as she likes. All she asks from you is Jaime Lannister."

Jaime. The name was a knife, twisting in her belly. (AFfC, Brienne VIII)

This symbolic punch and various stabbings (in addition to the hammer blow to her heart when she sees Gendry) make it seem as if Brienne has been pretty badly attacked. Not to mention her real injuries, inflicted by Rorge and Biter and Lady Stoneheart's noose. At the end of AFfC, is she as dead as Jon Snow will be at the end of ADwD? Symbolically, of course.

In conclusion.

This is much longer than I intended. Sorry about that. The OP here really sent me off on a Brienne quest, with the intention of figuring out whether she is lying to Jaime when she appears again in ADwD. I think Brienne really is honorable, in spite of her Candide-like hardships and setbacks. She may be The Stranger and The Maiden and a Perfect Knight, but the evidence I've seen does not indicate that she will lose her sense of honor.

This passage does seem to foreshadow her ADwD difficulty in communicating with Jaime, although clearly she does want to call out to him:

It was a sword she wanted. Oathkeeper, I have to find the girl. I have to find his honor.

Finally the doors opened, and her betrothed strode into her father's hall. She tried to greet him as she had been instructed, only to have blood come pouring from her mouth. She had bitten her tongue off as she waited. She spat it at the young knight's feet, and saw the disgust on his face. "Brienne the Beauty," he said in a mocking tone. "I have seen sows more beautiful than you." He tossed a rose in her face As he walked away, the griffins on his cloak rippled and blurred and changed to lions. Jaime! she wanted to cry. Jaime come back for me! But her tongue lay on the floor by the rose, drowned in blood. (AFfC, Brienne VIII)

Brienne as the Stranger, yet again. This time, apparently, as the tongueless Ser Illyn.

Edited by Seams

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On 1/17/2018 at 8:01 AM, Seams said:

I know this thread is sinking into a well-earned rest but I am still intrigued by the mystery of Brienne's honor and honesty, and I wanted to finish a AFfC Brienne re-read to see what I could find. Last night I read Brienne IV in AFfC (chapter 20) and found a lot of discussion about lies and honesty and honor, particularly in dialogue with Nimble Dick Crabb.

Dick seems to be an important symbol and parallel character. He is a guide, like many minor characters who help our POVs to find obscure destinations along their journeys. He is a singer and storyteller, and we know that these characters often reveal truths and hints of things to come in the form of parables and legends.

In Dick's chats with Brienne, she brings up Ser Galladon of Morne, the Perfect Knight, who receives a sword from the maiden of the new gods. The story seems like it could be a variation the Florian and Jonquil story, with a maiden and a knight-fool but I also get the distinct impression that GRRM is deliberately withholding details of the Florian and Jonquil story from us. Either he doesn't want to tell us too soon how their story turns out or, like the game of cyvasse, the metaphor is too complex and he will never tell us how it turns out. Dick also sings a bit of the Bear and Maiden Fair song during the trip.

After Brienne paraphrases the Galladon story for Dick, he immediately calls Galladon "the Perfect Fool" because he made sparing use of the magic sword he had just been given. In earlier chapters, Brienne thought about Florian (among other legendary characters) carrying a magic sword as she contemplated Oathkeeper in the privacy of her room at an inn. Dick seems focused on swords and who should use them at what points and for what purposes, trying to persuade Brienne to let him get close to her (non-Oathkeeper) sword or to borrow a sword. (He is a former knight, with a lord's sigil ripped off his shirt, but carries only a dagger.) Only at the point of entering their destination, the ruined castle called The Whispers (also Dick's birthplace), does Brienne finally hand a sword to Dick. He is unable to use it as his knee is immediately shattered by a triple morningstar weapon wielded by the fool Shagwell: "The sword she'd given him went flying from his hand and vanished in the weeds."

I've been trying to think of parallel characters but I'm not sure whether there is an exact match for him: in his guide work, he reminds me of Theon taking Lady Dustin into the crypts at Winterfell which she and her men can't find without his help. The crypt is not Theon's birthplace, but he admits there that he wishes he had been a Stark and we learn that there was an ancient Stark king called Theon. Like Dick, after Theon becomes Reek, he carries only a dagger and he suspects that he will be unable to use a sword because of the maiming of his hands. He puts a lot of thought into the missing swords in the crypt. Both men wear dirty rags.

But Dick seems to parallel Ser Dontos as well. Both men are hard drinkers. Brienne passed through the ruined Hollard keep, birthplace of Ser Dontos, earlier in her travels and her trip to Crackclaw point takes her to Dick Crabb's birthplace, the Whispers. Both men undertake the task of guide in return for payment in gold dragon coins. Ser Dontos, of course, evokes the Florian and Jonquil story when he pledges to help Sansa escape from King's Landing. He is a former knight who wants to be a knight again just for the moment of helping Sansa through a secret passage out of the Red Keep - similar to Dick Crabb wanting a sword again? Both Dontos and Dick Crabb die shortly after reaching their destinations: Dick killed by Shagwell and Dontos killed by Littlefinger's crossbow men.

If Nimble Dick Crabb is like Ser Dontos, do we also have to consider whether he is like Shagwell? Brienne is hoping that the fool Nimble Dick had sent to Crackclaw point was actually Ser Dontos, traveling with Sansa and/or Arya. Only at the very end of the journey does she learn that the fool is actually the nightmarish, violent Shagwell, a member of the Bloody Mummers led by Vargo Hoat and a fugitive from the newly imposed law and order regime represented by Randall Tarly.

Rebirths take many forms in ASOIAF but returning to a birthplace seems to be a clear signal that a rebirth can go forward. I speculated earlier in this thread that Pod was a reborn variation on Dontos because he showed up just as Brienne took shelter in the ruined keep of House Hollard. (I really love the idea that young Pod is the Florian to Brienne's Jonquil, and I smile at the author's creative inversion of the brave knight and fair maid archetype.) Just as Brienne slays Shagwell and Dick Crabb is buried in his birthplace and "paid" the two gold dragons Brienne had promised him, we have another rebirth: Ser Hyle Hunt finally catches up to Brienne and Pod.

There is something vaguely appropriate about a possible blend of Shagwell and Dick Crabb reborn in Ser Hyle, I think. The reader sees Hyle as a scumbucket dirtbag jerkface for his determined role in the betting pool to take Brienne's maidenhead after she joined Renly's army. Each member of the betting pool bet a gold dragon on the outcome - another detail in common with Dick Crabb. Brienne later beat each member of that betting pool in the melee at the tourney sponsored by Renly. She (with the help of Jaime) also beat the bear in the bear pit into which she was thrown by the Bloody Mummers. But Hyle is not as horrifying as Shagwell, by a long shot. While Nimble Dick is dirty and greedy, perhaps more honorable elements of his character that are reborn in Hyle help to tone down the uglier aspects. I know that Hyle will  undergo something of a redemption as he travels with Brienne and I will look for details that might match up with things we saw in Nimble Dick or in what little we know of Florian and Jonquil.

Seams I didn't even realize you posted this.  I'm so sorry I missed it!   Just a few random thoughts I want to share as I read this--an no, I have not yet read the next.  You drew a comparison between Nimble Dick and Theon as guides.  I wonder if the mean old cat Arya runs after was a guide, too?  Didn't he lead her to overhear the discussion between Varys and Illyrio?   The guides are an interesting twist here.  The only other guide I can think of off the top of my head is Ygritte who perhaps gives Jon a look at the land and culture his people stemmed from.  Her look into the tales and customs of the Wildlings took Jon a long way to understanding a great deal more about these "foes" than any simple opponent could.   

Since we know so little about Florian and Jonquil I don't know what to add, other than a bravo to your catching the inverse of the tale in Brienne and Pod.  What is there to armor made of motley?  There is something here, all men are fools and all men are knights where women are concerned...

Hyle is a fool and a knight.   He does come off as a scumbag (great word!) until we get to know him.   He's got ulterior motives, but he's also innocent in Brienne's supposed crimes.  He left his lord's service to undertake Brienne's quest.  There is a strength in him and I sense a nobility in him.    I still can't wait to see him put the moves on Brienne in front of Jamie.   Ah Jamie.  

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2 hours ago, Seams said:

I finished one re-read of the Brienne POVs in AFfC and started over again.

I'm not surprised to find that Brienne is turning into a key character in ASOIAF, probably embodying the perfect knight - an echo of the Ser Galladon of Morne tale to which she refers from time to time. There are hints that she has a lot in common with Ser Barristan Selmy, who also seems to present a lot of perfect knight qualities. But attention to details has uncovered a surprising and fascinating development at the same time, through which Brienne may be turning into an embodiment of The Stranger.

(If you don't want to click on the link, elements of this transformation to Stranger include that the first Sansa POV in AGoT introduced us to three "strangers," Ser Barriston, Lord Renly and Ser Illyn. When Renly died in Brienne's arms, she took up Renly's sword. This could signal that she took up his part in the trio of "strangers" introduced to us by Sansa. It may also be relevant that Renly had three "spouses," Margaery, Ser Loras and Brienne, who beat Ser Loras in a melee and onto whose shoulders Renly placed a cloak when she took a vow and joined his Rainbow Guard. Note that the cloak on her shoulders was one that Renly had been reserving for Ser Barriston. The symbolic marriage to the stranger/Renly might support the idea that Brienne is a "silent sister," whose members, we are told in a Brienne POV, are the wives of The Stranger. See comments by @LynnS in the link for some additional thoughts about silent sisters. It occurs to me that this ties in again to the three Strangers from the early Sansa POV, as the silent Ser Illyn is the stranger who frightens Sansa.)

Maybe GRRM is building up to a reveal that the true knight of Sansa's dreams really is the same thing as The Stranger.

Other observations from this Brienne-focused re-read:

Just as Robert killed Rhaegar, Gendry/Renly "kills" Brienne.

"...It's mostly sparrows on the road these days, or worse."

"Worse?" Brienne asked.

"Thieves," said a boy's voice from the stables. "Robbers."

Brienne turned and saw a ghost.

Renly. No hammerblow to the heart could have felled her half so hard.

The inn at the crossroads used to be called the river inn, until the river changed course away from the structure 70 years ago. So Brienne is even standing in the old riverbed - similar to Rhaegar and Robert battling in the river - as she is felled by this hammer.

It may be worth noting that GRRM sets up Gendry as a "stable boy" with his choice of words here. Stableboys frequently appear at key moments. The author also used the word "felled" to describe Brienne's sense of shock at hearing and seeing Gendry for the first time. In an analysis of the name "Winterfell," I was interested to learn that "fell" is another word for a seam, which ties into speculation that Westeros is a big piece of fabric (or pieces of fabric sewn together) with holes and seams where certain residents can access an underworld or other magical realms. Here the author may be using the word to emphasize that Brienne has passed through one of these seams and is seeing a living ghost.

In a similar vein, this earlier remark by Ser Hyle is worth noting: "Either they have themselves a smith, or the old innkeep's ghost is making another iron dragon." Here Gendry is both a smith and (symbolically) a ghost, but focused on recreating (a tribute to) the Targaryen dynasty. Inns seem to represent dynasties, so the author may be giving us a hint about Gendry's heritage and/or destiny.

Brienne's entire quest may be taking place in the underworld.

We know there is something odd about the Elder Brother's story of his past:

". . . My life was writ in red, in blood and wine."

"When did it change?" asked Brienne.

"When I died in the Battle of the Trident. . . . "

He also tells Brienne that, "The man you hunt is dead." This seems like a clear reference to The Hound, but a large percentage of this forum is persuaded that the gravedigger, active on the Quiet Isle, is the Hound.

So what does it mean to be dead in this realm where Brienne is traveling? The imagery continues after she leaves the Quiet Isle.

At Saltpans, Brienne and her traveling companions inquire about spending the night at the castle of Ser Quincy Cox. The woman who finally responds to their insistent knocking says, "We want no strangers here. Begone." As a result, Brienne and her group, "spent the night in the woods, beneath a shelter made of woven branches."

Immediately after recalling that incident in a flashback, the girl proprietor of the inn at the crossroads tells the group they must pay for lodging in silver, "Else you can sleep in the woods with the dead men." Because we know that they already slept in the woods, this line tells us that Brienne and her group slept with the dead the night before.

Later, we know that Brienne will be taken to Lady Stoneheart and the Brotherhood Without Banners. We know that Lady Stoneheart is some kind of reanimated version of the murdered Catelyn Stark and that the BwB has a resident specialist who can bring a dead guy back to life. So the idea seems clear that Brienne's adventures occur in the company of the dead.

I'm not an expert, but my understanding of the Celtic idea of the underworld or otherworld is that it differs from the Christian idea of heaven, where people spend eternity in bliss. The Celtic underworld was a place where gods lived, where there was a perpetual feast under way, and where mortal heroes were sometimes needed or invited to help solve a problem. Sometimes the mortal entered the otherworld by mistake or while exploring (for instance, through a magic wardrobe). In many cases, the warriors were eventually able to leave but there was a distortion of time (a short time in the otherworld could translate into the passage of years in the mainstream world) and the hero who had entered the magical realm would be changed in some way.

The Stranger is associated with death, and I mentioned that the associations between Brienne and some of the identified strangers in the books seems to be strong. So it might be logical for Brienne to travel in an area where "dead" people live. She seems to be still in that otherworld at the end of AFfC. I will be interested to see whether Jaime joins her there and perhaps helps her to get out of it, as he assisted her in getting out of the bear pit at Harrenhal.

Meat

There is some symbolic meaning in the meat that Brienne eats as well as the meat others eat in her presence. Two examples:

When Renly donned his crown, the Maid of Tarth had ridden all the way across the Reach to join him. The king himself had greeted her courteously and welcomed her to his service. Not so his lords and knights. Brienne had not expected a warm welcome. She was prepared for coldness, for mockery, for hostility. She had supped upon such meat before. It was not the scorn of the many that left her confused and vulnerable, but the kindness of the few. The Maid of Tarth had been betrothed three times, but she had never been courted until she came to Highgarden. (AFfC, Brienne III)

Biter's mouth gaped open, impossibly wide. She saw his teeth, yellow and crooked, filed into points. when they closed on the soft meat of her cheek, she hardly felt it. She could feel herself spiraling down into the dark. I cannot die yet, she told herself, there is something I still need to do. (AFfC, Brienne VII)

I'm not yet sure what GRRM is doing with the meat symbolism here, but it may link to something from Brienne's past. In other POVs, Gregor Clegane is referred to as a butcher. He butchers Vargo Hoat, for instance, whose ear was bitten off by Brienne when she was defending herself back in ASoS. Here in AFfC, we have the horse previously known as Stranger (now called Driftwood) who has bitten off the ear of Brother Gillam, one of the monks on the Quiet Isle. So there is another comparison between Brienne and the Stranger. (And, by the way, a possible comparison to Darkstar, Gerold Dayne, who cuts off the ear of Myrcella Baratheon during the kidnapping in Dorne.)

Rorge and Biter were Vargo Hoat's men at one point. Is Biter's attack on Brienne's cheek a turnabout-is-fair-play scenario, with Vargo's henchman getting revenge on the woman who maimed their boss? But Rorge and Biter arrived in the story with Jaqen H'ghar, who "paid" for their saved lives by undertaking some murders at Arya's direction. There is a lot of shared imagery in Arya's sojourn at Harrenhal and Brienne's quest including (as mentioned in my previous post on this thread) the dog that eats Weese's face. Here Brienne kills Rorge, who is wearing the Hound's dog-shaped helmet, and Gendry kills Biter, the guy who ate Brienne's face.

At one point in her travels, Brienne recalls part of her training by the Master at Arms at Evenfall Hall, Ser Goodwin:

"You have a man's strength in your arms," Ser Goodwin had said to her, more than once, "but your heart is as soft as any maid's. It is one thing to train in the yard with a bunted sword in hand, and another to drive a foot of sharpened steel into a man's gut and see the light go out of his eyes." To toughen her, Ser Goodwin used to send her to her father's butcher to slaughter lambs and suckling pigs. The piglets squealed and the lambs screamed like frightened children. By the time the butchering was done Brienne had been blind with tears, her clothes so bloody that she had given them to her maid to burn. (AFfC, Brienne IV)

At Crackclaw Point, Brienne kills a man called Pyg. The later death of Rorge takes almost exactly the form Goodwin described, with Brienne driving her sword through his body and out his back. Apparently her butcher training pays off.

Maybe GRRM's point is that it's a "dog eat dog world" out there. (This is an idiom in English, meaning the world is a rough place to exist.) Given the imagery around Brienne as The Stranger, and Sandor Clegane as The Night, I think the meat and butchery symbolism may relate to a conflict yet to come between Brienne and Sandor. (Possibly between Brienne and Ser Gregor, who is now Ser Robert Strong.)

More Meat. And Maybe Renly's Ghost Again.

In AGoT and ACoK, we see Dany, Jon and Bran (through the direwolf Summer) all eating raw horse meat as they launch into major quests. Does Brienne also eat horse meat as she searches for Sansa? There's this line from Willow, who oversees the orphans at the inn her sister took over after their aunt, Masha Heddle, was hanged by "the lions": "...All we have to eat is horse meat. If you come for whores, there are none. My sister run them off." But Brienne apparently does not eat that horse meat, and doesn't eat horse meat at all in AFfC, as far as I can tell.

Would GRRM leave out the horse meat from Brienne's quest, after making it a standard element in so many other heroes' journeys? I felt there had to be deeper meaning to Ser Creighton Longbough and Ser Illifer the Penniless, the two hedge knights who are the first people Brienne encounters in her travels. The first thing I noted is that there may be a symbolic knighthood bestowed on her by Ser Illifer, after Brienne recites a vow before him, first swearing by her sword - Ser Creighton notes that, "A knight swears by his sword." - and then evoking the seven gods, after which Ser Creighton says, "She swears well for a maid." Essentially, I think the two knights have symbolically granted her both knighthood and maidenhood.

But why these two hedge knights? Brienne spends quite a bit of time with them, shares several meals and finds them to be decent men - a contrast with the many smallfolk and highborn people who stare at her or laugh at the freakishly large woman wearing armor.

Ser Creighton tells Brienne that he fought at the Blackwater, and that singers sing songs about his deeds. The reader of ASOIAF has heard songs about two combatants at the Blackwater, and both songs are about Renly's ghost (and The Dark Lord, an interesting reference to Stannis). Is GRRM giving us in Ser Creighton a symbolic version of Renly Baratheon? Other than his boasts about fighting at the Blackwater and being remembered in songs, I couldn't figure out a connection between Renly and Ser Creighton. So I fell back on an old habit of mine, which is to check for wordplay and anagrams. I know many people hate anagrams, and I understand that you can make almost anything if you have enough letters to work with. So skip this part if you hate stuff like this. These are possible anagrams I found:

Ser Creighton Longbough = butchering horse go long, butchering hero song log

Ser Herbert Bolling = rebelling brothers

Ser Illifer the Pennyless = Is hell's serpentine flier

Bolling is a name of a knight that Longbough claims he defeated at the Blackwater. If the anagram is correct, it could refer to the rebelling brothers, Renly and Stannis. The possible serpentine reference hidden in Ser Illifer's name is a dragon reference and/or a reference to a staircase at the Red Keep where major characters seem to experience important transitions. If "butchering horse" is part of the hidden meaning in Ser Creighton's name, this could fulfill the need for horse meat in Brienne's hero's journey. I do like the "hero song" alternative, though, even though it doesn't address the missing horse meat. The leftover word "log" is also found in a Gregor Clegane = Green Grace log anagram I think may be correct. Logs are associated with some important moments in the plot, such as Tyrion stepping over a burning log in the fireplace when he climbs the secret ladder to kill Tywin and Shae.

But I'm going to keep working on Ser Creighton and Ser Illifer. Anagrams are perilous as evidence, even if they are fun.

What Brienne does eat, for what it's worth.

Brienne's first meal in AFfC is grilled trout shared with her by Ser Creighton and Ser Illifer. The next morning, she shares another meal with the hedge knights: roast squirrel, acorn paste and pickles. These seem really strongly associated with the Tully family and with Bran Stark, who is compared to a squirrel for his climbing and who eats a paste made of trees at an important moment in his own arc. I don't know why the author has put these unique foods into Brienne's arc.

At the Stone Bridge Inn, she washes down a meal of roasted goat meat with a cup of goat's milk and treats Creighton and Illifer to dinner as well. Goat is associated with Vargo Hoat, Tyrion and Penny's brother, Groat.

Then the seafood and honey begins. At the Seven Swords Inn, Brienne eats crab stew and chunks of bread with a dwarf septon who tells her about The Stinking Goose tavern and Dick Crabb boasting about fooling a fool. The next morning, she breaks her fast "drinking a cup of milk and honey with three raw eggs mixed in." She buys hardbread, cheese and flour to take along on her journey. At a village along the route, she buys three crabs from a boy among the fisherfolk. On her initial visit to the Stinking Goose in Maidenpool, Brienne buys a cup of wine but finds it oily and it has a hair floating in it. Traveling to Crackclaw Point, she dreams "of a hot meal" but gnaws on "a strip of hard salt beef." Back at the Stinking Goose in Maidenpool, Brienne ate "greasy sausges, fried bread, half a cup of wine, [and] a flagon of boiled water." On the road with Septon Meribald, she eats salt cod and orange slices. At the Quiet Isle, Brienne ate bread with honey and a stew of "crabs, mussels and at least three different types of fish." At the inn at the crossroads, Septon Meribald has brought along food to distribute to the needy, and the travelers share "salt cod, mutton, vegetables, nuts, and wheels of cheese" as well as porridge and barley bread. Brienne tries to take some food to Gendry, but he does not eat what she brings him before the arrival of Rorge and Biter interrupts their conversation.

Then there is a bit of a switch to root vegetables. On the road to Lady Stoneheart, the gravely wounded Brienne drinks wine and onion broth with carrots given to her by Jeyne Heddle. Thoros of Myr brings bread and cheese and a bowl of stew after Brienne wakes up in his cave. He apologizes that the milk has soured and he has no honey. "The stew was cold and greasy, the bread hard, the cheese harder. Brienne had never eaten anything half so good."

Food is always symbolic of something in ASOIAF. I had hope to discover something about Brienne by examing her meals, especially after the remarks about meat associated with Brienne, but I'm not sure what GRRM is telling us with most of these dishes.

One possibility with the honey is that Brienne is being established as a queen bee during her travels. In addition to the honey she ingests, there is a reference to the landscape being honeycombed with caves and Ser Hyle saying that the chance to fight three outlaws being "like honey" to Brienne, who defeated three men at Crackclaw Point while he watched from a distance.

Stabbed?

Throughout the POVs in AFfC, there are several metaphorical references to Brienne feeling as if she has been stabbed:

His sigil was displayed across his chest: a brown deer dead and bound and slung beneath a pole.

Him. His voice was a punch in her stomach, his face a blade in her bowels. "Ser Hyle," she said stiffly. (AFfC, Brienne III)

"Arya Stark?" Brienne stared open-mouthed, astonished. "You know this? Lady Sansa's sister is alive?"

"Then," said the Elder Brother. "Now . . . I do not know. She may have been amongst the children slain at Saltpans."

The words were a knife in her belly. No, Brienne though. No, that would be too cruel. (AFfC, Brienne VI)

"She wants her son alive, or the men who killed him dead," said the big man. "She wants to feed the crows, like they did at the Red Wedding, Freys and Boltons, aye. We'll give her those, as many as she likes. All she asks from you is Jaime Lannister."

Jaime. The name was a knife, twisting in her belly. (AFfC, Brienne VIII)

This symbolic punch and various stabbings (in addition to the hammer blow to her heart when she sees Gendry) make it seem as if Brienne has been pretty badly attacked. Not to mention her real injuries, inflicted by Rorge and Biter and Lady Stoneheart's noose. At the end of AFfC, is she as dead as Jon Snow will be at the end of ADwD? Symbolically, of course.

In conclusion.

This is much longer than I intended. Sorry about that. The OP here really sent me off on a Brienne quest, with the intention of figuring out whether she is lying to Jaime when she appears again in ADwD. I think Brienne really is honorable, in spite of her Candide-like hardships and setbacks. She may be The Stranger and The Maiden and a Perfect Knight, but the evidence I've seen does not indicate that she will lose her sense of honor.

This passage does seem to foreshadow her ADwD difficulty in communicating with Jaime, although clearly she does want to call out to him:

It was a sword she wanted. Oathkeeper, I have to find the girl. I have to find his honor.

Finally the doors opened, and her betrothed strode into her father's hall. She tried to greet him as she had been instructed, only to have blood come pouring from her mouth. She had bitten her tongue off as she waited. She spat it at the young knight's feet, and saw the disgust on his face. "Brienne the Beauty," he said in a mocking tone. "I have seen sows more beautiful than you." He tossed a rose in her face As he walked away, the griffins on his cloak rippled and blurred and changed to lions. Jaime! she wanted to cry. Jaime come back for me! But her tongue lay on the floor by the rse, drowned in blood. (AFfC, Brienne VIII)

Brienne as the Stranger, yet again. This time, apparently, as the tongueless Ser Illyn.

Wow.   I'm honored our conversation inspired your reread and that you  found so much!   You approach Brienne with the respect she deserves and tell a spooky tale when you want to.  I can see where so many think Brienne has died.   She's taken more than her share of beatings and harm.  All in trying to do the right thing.  

As always your connections are fascinating and feed my desire to understand what's happening in this complicated tale.  I'm connecting this post to the previous and still thinking about Nimble Dick and Hyle and Jamie and Pod.  In all I think that Brienne introduces us or at the very least shows us the better part of all the people she meets.  They are better for knowing her.  Though I agree that we are being led to believe some dissension will be between Brienne and Sandor Clegane, I think he will fall in line with everyone else she weaves her honor spell on.  

To make a sly point, I think she may be the one recruiting the heroes, Seams.    But I didn't realize it until I read this post.    Thank you for sharing this.  And for rekindling my hope for her future.   

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14 hours ago, Curled Finger said:

Seams I didn't even realize you posted this.  I'm so sorry I missed it!   Just a few random thoughts I want to share as I read this--an no, I have not yet read the next.  You drew a comparison between Nimble Dick and Theon as guides.  I wonder if the mean old cat Arya runs after was a guide, too?  Didn't he lead her to overhear the discussion between Varys and Illyrio?   The guides are an interesting twist here.  The only other guide I can think of off the top of my head is Ygritte who perhaps gives Jon a look at the land and culture his people stemmed from.  Her look into the tales and customs of the Wildlings took Jon a long way to understanding a great deal more about these "foes" than any simple opponent could.   

Since we know so little about Florian and Jonquil I don't know what to add, other than a bravo to your catching the inverse of the tale in Brienne and Pod.  What is there to armor made of motley?  There is something here, all men are fools and all men are knights where women are concerned...

Hyle is a fool and a knight.   He does come off as a scumbag (great word!) until we get to know him.   He's got ulterior motives, but he's also innocent in Brienne's supposed crimes.  He left his lord's service to undertake Brienne's quest.  There is a strength in him and I sense a nobility in him.    I still can't wait to see him put the moves on Brienne in front of Jamie.   Ah Jamie.  

You are always such a gracious host, CF. I'm glad if any of my ramblings helped to spur you onto your own new lines of thinking.

I love the idea of the old tom cat as a guide for Arya. Overhearing the conversation between (we assume) Varys and Illyrio (I suspect the second man may have been someone other than Illyrio) was an important turning point for Arya, allowing her to become aware that her father had enemies within the Red Keep.

I think Ygritte is not a guide so much as a sister/wife, if that's the right term. Maybe "educator" would be a better term. Shae (maybe) and Penny (for sure) play this role for Tyrion. Ygritte literally says, "You know nothing, Jon Snow!" and Penny spends a lot of time educating Tyrion about real life without being quite so confrontational about it. Asha / Esgred escorts Theon from the harbor to the Greyjoy keep, later showing off in front of all the Ironborn leaders to emphasize that Theon knows nothing.

In the category of guides, I would put Maya Stone, Stonesnake, Coldhands, Rennifer Longwaters, maybe Alyn of the Stark household knights. Some of the ship captains might also fall into this category. Bronn may play this role for Tyrion at times, leading him to Symon Silver Tongue, for instance. I may be making distinctions too fine, though. Theon is obviously a complex guy and plays more than one role - he may be a "guide" for Lady Dustin but something else to other people he meets.

Motley armor! I know, right? I know you're usually a sword guy, but the armor is really growing on me as a source of important clues. The tie between the fools and knights is getting my spidey sense tingling, too. We may have to go back to Dunk & Egg and the Tanselle Too-Tall puppet show to figure out more about the Florian the Fool character and his motley armor.

Speaking of Dunk & Egg, how do you like this echo in Brienne's story, from the scene where she is talking to Gendry when Rorge and Biter and their outlaw gang show up:

Quote

She counted them as they came. Two, four, six, seven. . . . Seven, Brienne thought again, despairing. She had no chance against seven, she knew. No chance, and no choice.

Which historic character connected to Brienne was also surprised to find himself forced into a Trial by Seven? I hoped to count six people who rise to assist Brienne, but I don't think there's a clear parallel. Willow runs outside with a crossbow but is forced to step back by a vile threat from Rorge. Gendry slays Biter. Brienne hears Dog barking. She thinks Ser Hyle has joined the fight, but we know he stood by and watched at Crackclaw Point; Brienne could be hearing Lem Lemoncloak and the other BwB assigned to guard the inn. She may have found six to join her side, but it's not spelled out.

If this scene is supposed to be an echo of the Trial by Seven, the question would be whether Brienne "won," and was found innocent? She survived and her opponents didn't, so that would seem like an acquittal to me.

I don't see strength and nobility in Ser Hyle. I think he's still creepy and may still be trying to win that bet about Brienne's maidenhead - for dominion over Tarth, if not the prize pool of gold coins. Recall that Dick Crabb tried to sleep with Brienne, too. He seemed more interested in having a comfortable bed - and possibly more interested in having access to Brienne's sword - than in having sex with Brienne. If Ser Hyle is a reborn combo of Nimble Dick and Shagwell, strength and nobility don't strike me as part of his make-up.

Here's another reason I suspect he is still a jerk: Brienne's quest seems to involve cleaning up after Arya. Arya didn't kill the Hound, now Brienne is seeking the Hound, who is widely believed to be an outlaw, in addition to having taken Arya. Arya also set free the three caged outlaws Rorge, Biter and Jaqen H'ghar - a sort of Pandora's box that she ran away from and then put to use in killing people she disliked or needed out of the way at Harrenhal. Brienne and Gendry have now taken care of two of the three from Arya's Pandora's Box, but where is the third? It would not surprise me at all if Jaqen has taken the identity of Ser Hyle. I know that we suspect him of being in Oldtown, stirring up the Pate / Citadel story line. But my desire for symmetry leads me to suspect that the third man from the cage will be killed by Brienne. Maybe he's Hyle, maybe not.

This may be another one of those GRRM lines with a double meaning that we will come to appreciate later: "The man you hunt is dead." When the Elder Brother says this, he is clearly talking about the Hound. But there is also a man known as Hunt in this story. What if he is dead? If he is dead, how dead is he?

If Hyle tries to put the moves on Brienne in front of Jaime, it'll be like the wildling woman slitting the throat of an unwanted suitor, I suspect. Goodbye, Hyle.

Edited by Seams

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@Seams that's amazing! Thank you so much for contributing with your reread the this great thread. I loved reading what you came up with, there is so much to think about. 

I was really struck by the dead-Brienne angle, it's so strong! The amount of times she describes emotional wounding is astonishing. I do hope she comes to heal though. She's a tough woman and if anyone can pull it it's her. Specially if ser Jaime is there to aid the process, I guess. Brienne played a significant part in Jaime's healing from the loss of his hand, and I'd like some symmetry to that. 

On 01/02/2018 at 11:44 PM, Seams said:

roast squirrel, acorn paste and pickles. These seem really strongly associated with the Tully family and with Bran Stark, who is compared to a squirrel for his climbing and who eats a paste made of trees at an important moment in his own arc

Those are also images and foods strongly associated with Arya! I thing there's a hint there that while Brienne is looking for Sansa, she's getting closer to the other Stark sister (encounters with the Hound, Gendry and the BwB and Bitter and Rorge, the mostres of her Pandora's box as you put so nicely). 

Quote

Part of her wanted to be a swan. The other part wanted to eat one. She had broken her fast on some acorn paste and a handful of bugs. Bugs weren't so bad when you got used to them.

Quote

Yesterday Gendry had caught a frog and shared it with Lommy, and, a few days before, Hot Pie had found blackberries and stripped the bush bare, but mostly they had been living on water and acorns. Kurz had told them how to use rocks and make a kind of acorn paste. It tasted awful.

These are from ACOK, Arya V, long before Bran leaves Winterfell. 

And here are ASOS, Arya III

Quote
Lem was not the leader, though, no more than Tom; that was Greenbeard, the Tyroshi. Arya turned to face him. "Take me to Riverrun and you'll be rewarded," she said desperately.
"Little one," Greenbeard answered, "a peasant may skin a common squirrel for his pot, but if he finds a gold squirrel in his tree he takes it to his lord, or he will wish he did." 
"I'm not a squirrel," Arya insisted.
"You are." Greenbeard laughed. "A little gold squirrel who's off to see the lightning lord, whether she wills it or not. He'll know what's to be done with you. I'll wager he sends you back to your lady mother, just as you wish."

And Arya IV:

Quote
 "The lightning lord is everywhere and nowhere, skinny squirrel."
"I'm not a squirrel," she said. "I'll almost be a woman soon. I'll be one-and-ten."

Then, in Arya VI Greenbeard calls her a squirrel twice (once skinny squirrel, and once angry squirrel) but Arya doesn't contradict him these times. 

And Arya and the Hound try to get into the Red Wedding posing as merchants with food, one of the item being... pickled pigs feet. 

Quote
 
He would have known your face, though. Arya had no doubt of that. Sandor Clegane's burns would not be easy to forget, once you saw them. He couldn't hide the scars behind a helm, either; not so long as the helm was made in the shape of a snarling dog.
That was why they'd needed the wayn and the pickled pigs' feet. "I'm not going to be dragged before your brother in chains," the Hound had told her, "and I'd just as soon not have to cut through his men to get to him. So we play a little game."

<snip>

 
A hedge of wagons and carts had been drawn up along the perimeter to make a crude wooden wall against any attack. That was where the guards stopped them. The lantern their sergeant carried shed enough light for Arya to see that his cloak was a pale pink, spotted with red teardrops. The men under him had the Leech Lord's badge sewn over their hearts, the flayed man of the Dreadfort. Sandor Clegane gave them the same tale he'd used on the outriders, but the Bolton sergeant was a harder sort of nut than Ser Donnel Haigh had been. "Salt pork's no fit meat for a lord's wedding feast," he said scornfully.
"Got pickled pigs' feet too, ser." 
"Not for the feast, you don't. The feast's half done. And I'm a northman, not some milksuck southron knight."
<snip>
"Get my helm," Clegane growled at her.
It was stuffed at the bottom of a sack of dried apples, in the back of the wayn behind the pickled pigs' feet. Arya upended the sack and tossed it to him. He snatched it one-handed from the air and lowered it over his head, and where the man had sat only a steel dog remained, snarling at the fires.

 

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@Seams, I wanted to add that your idea that Brienne is cleaning up after Arya struck me profoundly.  I'm going to think on this a bit.   If you would be so kind as to check your messages, some side bar questions...

@Lady Dacey, I can't believe you even have time to come back and read through.  This was my favorite topic in a long time--that I OPd at any rate.  It has been a wonderful conversation in the spirit of conversation--give and take and learn.  There is so much for all of us to still learn.  It's wonderful to see you back here adding your voice to song of Brienne's Honor.  

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9 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

@Seams that's amazing! Thank you so much for contributing with your reread the this great thread. I loved reading what you came up with, there is so much to think about. 

I was really struck by the dead-Brienne angle, it's so strong! The amount of times she describes emotional wounding is astonishing. I do hope she comes to heal though. She's a tough woman and if anyone can pull it it's her. Specially if ser Jaime is there to aid the process, I guess. Brienne played a significant part in Jaime's healing from the loss of his hand, and I'd like some symmetry to that. 

 

Jaime and Brienne are often described as a gender reversal of the Beauty and the Beast trope, but other than their physical appearances, so far they're actually a pretty straight adaptation : Brienne has played the role of the Beauty, Jaime has played the role of the Beast. It would be nice to see Jaime take on the role of the Beauty who brings out the good in a very jaded Brienne who has become the Beast.

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15 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

@Seams that's amazing! Thank you so much for contributing with your reread the this great thread. I loved reading what you came up with, there is so much to think about. 

I was really struck by the dead-Brienne angle, it's so strong! The amount of times she describes emotional wounding is astonishing. I do hope she comes to heal though. She's a tough woman and if anyone can pull it it's her. Specially if ser Jaime is there to aid the process, I guess. Brienne played a significant part in Jaime's healing from the loss of his hand, and I'd like some symmetry to that. 

Those are also images and foods strongly associated with Arya! I thing there's a hint there that while Brienne is looking for Sansa, she's getting closer to the other Stark sister (encounters with the Hound, Gendry and the BwB and Bitter and Rorge, the monsters of her Pandora's box as you put so nicely). 

These are from ACOK, Arya V, long before Bran leaves Winterfell. 

And here are ASOS, Arya III

And Arya IV:

Then, in Arya VI Greenbeard calls her a squirrel twice (once skinny squirrel, and once angry squirrel) but Arya doesn't contradict him these times. 

And Arya and the Hound try to get into the Red Wedding posing as merchants with food, one of the item being... pickled pigs feet.

Thanks for your kind words. It's always fun to explore new territory in these books.

I hope that Brienne's symbolic deaths will put her in the "what's dead can never die" category. That would also strengthen the comparison to Ser Barristan, who seems to survive every impossible situation thrown at him, and to emerge as a hero.

I am just now remembering that Brienne recalls her older brother, Galladon, who drowned when she was a child. This may represent Brienne's partner / dead brother, similar to the Stannis / Renly and Jon / Robb and Theon / Rodrik and Maron (possibly even Ned / Brandon) match-ups of living and dead siblings. This may deserve another thread: an examination of whether a dead sibling becomes a source of strength, guardian or whether the living sibling absorbs the qualities of the dead guy. The drowning of Galladon might symbolize that Brienne has the "immortal" qualities of a drowned man, acquired vicariously through her brother. Only death can pay for life.

Of course you are right about the squirrel, acorn paste and pickles in Arya's story! Thank you for that. That all makes much more sense as Brienne's path seems to overlap so strongly with the route of Arya. I stopped looking at her food after I didn't find the horse meat I was seeking, but it probably does tell us important things about her connections to other characters as well as her development.

I mentioned in another thread that the drink with three raw eggs is probably tied to other breakfasts we have seen that feature three hard-boiled eggs: Jeor Mormont and Cersei have memorable three-egg meals. I think it was Lost Melbonian who originally said that the three eggs refer to the three heads of the god Trios, which symbolize death, something magical and rebirth. Brienne ingests her three eggs raw and all at once instead of one at a time. This could be more evidence of her unique "living death" or "death in life" situation (in AFfC, at any rate).

I had another thought about the horse meat, that I consider to be AWOL in Brienne's arc. Instead of horse meat, we learn that the horse previously known as Stranger has bitten off a man's ear. "Dog bites man" is not a headline, but "Man bites dog" is news. "Man eats horse" is a conventional step for a hero (in ASOIAF) but "horse eats man" might signal a special and different hero. That inversion might be the element I need to satisfy my search for horse meat parallels. Whew.

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