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Rainbow Guard symbolism - flowers, birds, bugs, fruit, lemons and indigo

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I've been looking at passages involving Renly's rainbow guard, the individual members of that group, sigils and seats, people with similar or related names, people with strong opinions about the rainbow guard, green armor and other passages relating to rainbows. There is still a lot to analyze and some of the conclusions I've drawn are more tentative than others, but here are a few things that seem to be true about rainbows in ASOIAF:

  • Rainbows might be the opposite of shadows. (Hmm. Denys Mallister at the Shadow Tower might contradict this. See indigo discussion, below.)
  • Key characters other than Renly have their own Rainbow Guards or partial "rainbow" protection.
  • If you learned the "Roy G. Biv" mnemonic in grade school (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet), stop thinking of the name of one person and instead think of Roy as one part of the team and Biv as a different wing of the team; "roy" and "biv" might actually be opposing forces, in fact. Alternatively, the point might be to unite all seven colors in spite of their diversity: Renly comes close, but he does not have an indigo guard among his complete team of seven guards.
  • That leaves green in the middle as a major player in his own right - does he play both sides? Does he represent Garth Greenhand? What can we infer by examining the many "green" characters throughout the books?
  • Rainbow Guard members and their families are a big presence at tournaments - particularly the Ashford Meadow tournament featured in The Hedge Knight story of the Dunk & Egg saga and the Hand's Tourney staged after Ned Stark's arrival in King's Landing. (The Hand / Garth Greenhand connection is not a coincidence, I'm sure.)
  • Indigo was not part of Renly's team but it is still part of the symbolism.
  • Flowers, birds, bugs and fruit are often found wherever the text mentions or alludes to members of the Rainbow Guard. I suspect this is also part of the Garth Greenhand imagery, as he was associated with fertility, fruitfulness and the abundance of the harvest.

Here are some of the passages that have helped me to draw some conclusions about the rainbow motif.

Catelyn knows a rainbow when she sees one

Catelyn had been anointed with the seven oils and named in the rainbow of light that filled the sept of Riverrun. She was of the Faith, like her father and grandfather and his father before him. Her gods had names, and their faces were as familiar as the faces of her parents. Worship was a septon with a censer, the smell of incense, a seven-sided crystal alive with light, voices raised in song. The Tullys kept a godswood, as all the great houses did, but it was only a place to walk or read or lie in the sun. Worship was for the sept.

(AGoT, Catelyn I)

GRRM's first mention of a complex motif is always important. This passage is the first reference to a rainbow and establishes their association with the faith of the seven and with Catelyn. Septons in the Faith use crystals to refract light and cast rainbows on surfaces. It is not a coincidence, I suspect, that Catelyn is initially presented as the most genuinely devout follower of the new gods and that she is also the POV that describes Renly's rainbow guard and the moment of Renly's death. Before Renly's death, Catelyn spends the night praying in a sept, accompanied by an escort from the Rainbow Guard:

Finally there were footsteps behind her, and a noise at the door. "My lady," Ser Robar said gently, "pardon, but our time is at an end. We must be back before the dawn breaks."

Catelyn rose stiffly. Her knees ached, and she would have given much for a featherbed and a pillow just then. "Thank you, ser. I am ready."

(ACoK, Catelyn IV)

Melisandre opposes rainbows

As an advocate of the red god R'hllor, Melisandre opposes worship of the new gods and seeks to convert people to her beliefs. I believe these passages help to establish the mutual exclusion of Melisandre's ritual flames - and the shadows they cast - with the use of sunlight, crystals and rainbows in the Faith of the Seven:

King Stannis pointed a finger. “There you err, Onion Knight. Some lights cast more than one shadow. Stand before the nightfire and you’ll see for yourself. The flames shift and dance, never still. The shadows grow tall and short, and every man casts a dozen. Some are fainter than others, that’s all. Well, men cast their shadows across the future as well. One shadow or many. Melisandre sees them all.”

(ACoK, Davos II)

The crystal casts rainbows; a nightfire casts shadows. We see the shadows cast by Melisandre killing Renly, in spite of his Rainbow Guard, and Ser Cortnay Penrose who was castellan for Renly and guardian of Edric Storm, a natural son of King Robert and possible heir to the throne.

Dragonstone's sept had been where Aegon the Conqueror knelt to pray the night before he sailed. That had not saved it from the queen's men. They had overturned the altars, pulled down the statues, and smashed the stained glass with warhammers. . . . Afterward Guncer Sunglass, mildest and most pious of lords, told Stannis he could no longer support his claim. Now he shared a sweltering cell with the Septon . . .

The burning gods cast a pretty light, wreathed in their robes of shifting flame, red and orange and yellow. . . . The Myrmen swapped jokes as they enjoyed the warmth of the fire, but young Lord Bar Emmon had turned a splotchy grey . . .

"Under the sea, smoke rises in bubbles, and flames burn green and blue and black," Patchface sang somewhere. "I know, I know, oh, oh, oh."

(ACoK, Davos I)

When Davos asks for an update on what happened at and after the Battle of Blackwater and which lords remained to support Stannis, among the news delivered by Lord Alester is that:

. . . the red woman burned Sunglass, and Lord Bar Emmon is fifteen, fat, and feeble Those are your lords of the narrow sea. Only the strength of House Florent is left to Stannis, against all the might of Highgarden, Sunspear, and Casterly Rock, and now most of the storm lords as well.

(ASoS, Davos III)

I take a special interest in Lord Sunglass because he probably represents the crystals that create rainbows. Lord Bar Emmon's surname resembles the first name of Ser Emmon Cuy, who was the yellow knight in Renly's Rainbow Guard. As the statues of the seven gods are burned, Bar Emmon is drained of color, and he is described as powerless after the Blackwater. Also killed at the Blackwater were a couple of Renly's Rainbow Guard members who had joined Stannis: Lord Bryce Caron (orange) and Ser Guyard Morrigen (green). The status of Ser Parmen Crane (purple) is indicated in the wiki as unknown with the speculation that he may be a Tyrell prisoner. Maybe I'm stretching, but I also have to wonder whether there is an Alester / Mallister allusion (see below) as Melisandre will eventually burn Lord Alester.

I'm not sure whether the author is telling us that Stannis was more than half way done with assembling his rainbow but has now destroyed his chance, or whether the point is just to show that Melisandre destroys rainbows wherever she goes. I was also interested to re-read the famous "green-blue-black" line from Patchface in context with the "red-orange-yellow" flames from Melisandre's sacrifice to R'hllor. GRRM has a little fun describing some men from Myr as "Myrmen" - mermen? - underscoring the "under the sea" reference to the burning of the statues. The Battle of the Blackwater is probably also a name chosen because it sounds as if colors would be destroyed by black water.

Before leaving the Stannis section of these observations I want to note that, immediately after the burning of the statues, Davos meets Salladhor Saan at an inn. Saan eats juicy grapes, indicates that he is not impressed by Melisandre's bonfire and tells Davos about the recent arrival of his ship, Bird of a Thousand Colors. The fruit and birds and thousand colors seem calculated to show where the life and power associated with rainbows can now be found among the supporters of Stannis.

Where is the indigo guard?

When I started exploring the Rainbow Guard, I made up a little chart with a column for each color in the English-language version of a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. I quickly realized that this chart didn't match Renly's scheme. He had seven guards, but Ser Loras Tyrell was the Lord Commander and was not associated with a single color. The seventh color not assigned to the other six knights was indigo. So I searched for the word indigo in the text to see whether the author had used it elsewhere. The strongest associations of the color were with "indigo murk," the color of the light inside the House of the Undying, and with House Mallister, the Riverlands house with an eagle sigil on an indigo field.

House Mallister turns out to be a pretty good match for the other houses represented in the Rainbow Guard in the sense that members of the house participated in the Tourney at Ashford and the Hand's Tourney. (The wiki lists specifics of Mallister participation in several other tourneys against important opponents - Prince Rhaegar, Ser Jorah.) Catelyn encounters Mallister knights on their way to the Hand's Tourney when she is surreptitiously returning north after her visit with Ned in King's Landing.

I suspect that GRRM might be telling us that indigo is the darkest color and most dangerous and difficult to bring to its knees, so to speak. It takes a victor like Rhaegar or the supercharged Ser Jorah to prevail over the "indigo" Mallisters. When Maester Cressen plans to poison Melisandre, he chooses a poison contained in an indigo glass vial. Of course, Cressen dies after ingesting the poison and Melisandre appears to be unaffected by it.

The Mallisters seem to have been loyal bannermen for House Tully, followed Brandon Stark and Robb Stark in critical situations, and have been traditional enemies of the Iron Islands. They were forced to bend the knee to Joffrey after the Red Wedding, but it will be interesting to see whether the Mallisters clearly take sides as the story plays out. Denys Mallister, of course, commands Eastwatch by the Sea for the Night's Watch.

Another random and extremely convoluted symbolism observation. (Skip this is you don't like to search the text for deeper meanings and hints.) The Mallisters sometimes wear silver eagle wings on their helmets. The dragon named Silverwing (ridden by Ulf the White) is vaguely linked to the Rainbow Guard because it created a retirement lair on an island in Red Lake, which was originally called Blue Lake and is located near Silverhill and Goldengrove. Red Lake is the traditional seat of the Crane family, and Ser Parmen Crane was the purple member of the Rainbow Guard. Also, House Crane was founded by Rose, daughter of Garth Greenhand. In addition to purple, Ser Parmen was associated with plums - a decoration on his surcoat. Plums are linked by wordplay to lumps, and lumps represent pregnancy in ASOIAF. The histories make a big point of describing Silverwing mating with the dragon Vermithor, called the bronze fury. I would not be surprised at all if there is a clutch of dragon eggs on the island in Red Lake (in the Reach). "Fury" is associated with House Baratheon, of course, and read the next passage, below, for a description of red turning to bronze. Alternatively, the plum/lump symbolism associated with House Crane could be a hint that Meredyth "Merry" Crane, one of Margaery's ladies in waiting, is the person who needed the moon tea prepared by Maester Pycelle. Merry spends a lot of her time "off hawking" - say that out loud and tell me it's not a hint.

Is indigo different from the other rainbow colors?

This passage gives us a great overview of the rainbow scheme and specific information on the relationship of lemons and indigo:

"The Dothraki sea," Ser Jorah Mormont said as he reined to a halt beside her on the top of the ridge. Beneath them, the plain stretched out immense and empty, a vast flat expanse that reached to the distant horizon and beyond. It was a sea, Dany thought. Past here, there were no hills, no mountains, no trees nor cities nor roads, only the endless grasses, the tall blades rippling like waves when the winds blew. "It's so green," she said.

"Here and now," Ser Jorah agreed. "You ought to see it when it blooms, all dark red flowers from horizon to horizon, like a sea of blood. Come the dry season, and the world turns the color of old bronze. And this is only hranna, child. There are a hundred kinds of grass out there, grasses as yellow as lemon and as dark as indigo, blue grasses and orange grasses and grasses like rainbows. Down in the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai, they say there are oceans of ghost grass, taller than a man on horseback with stalks as pale as milkglass. It murders all other grass and glows in the dark with the spirits of the damned. The Dothraki claim that someday ghost grass will cover the entire world, and then all life will end."

That thought gave Dany the shivers. "I don't want to talk about that now," she said. "It's so beautiful here, I don't want to think about everything dying."

(AGoT, Daenerys III)

Without being too blatant about it, I think GRRM is telling us that lemon grass and indigo grass are the two opposite ends of the spectrum. Anytime someone in the story mentions a preference for lemons, they will be 180-degrees different from a character aligned with indigo. But there's more here: green seems to be confirmed as the "father" of colors in nature, but it can change with the seasons and with different species of flora to show completely different colors. Interesting that Ser Jorah understands the full range of grass possibilities, and that he defeated the indigo Lord, Jason Mallister, at the tournament at Lannisport.

As I mentioned earlier, however, indigo also comes up in the context of Dany's dream-like experience in the House of the Undying. Specifically, the phrase "indigo murk" is used to describe the dim lighting in the house. A figure often inferred to represent Rhaegar has "dark indigo" eyes. Skip this if you hate anagrams, but I think these phrases might be hints about kings. "Dark indigo" could be a hint about "King dad or I," and tell us that Rhaegar is really Dany's father. Or it could simply acknowledge that either she or the father of the newborn in the vision will become "king".

Does all the indigo in the House of the Undying relate to the indigo eyes of this father figure in the vision? Is the author telling us that the Undying Ones are Targaryen ancestors? I have written elsewhere in this forum that I believe the House of the Undying and its fire is like the fire at the Winterfell library; that "always the door to the right" is an instruction for turning the pages of a book, and that the destruction of the heart and burning of the occupants within the HotU is like the burning of books. The burning of the indigo could be a way of showing Dany (with Drogon's help) conquering death or leaving behind the old Targaryen traditions to begin a new dynasty with herself as the founder.

But then black wings buffeted her round the head, and a scream of fury cut the indigo air, and suddenly the visions were gone, ripped away, and Dany’s gasp turned to horror. The Undying were all around her, blue and cold, whispering as they reached for her, pulling, stroking, tugging at her clothes, touching her with their dry cold hands, twining their fingers through her hair. All the strength had left her limbs. She could not move. Even her heart had ceased to beat. She felt a hand on her bare breast, twisting her nipple. Teeth found the soft skin of her throat. A mouth descended on one eye, licking, sucking, biting …

Then indigo turned to orange, and whispers turned to screams. Her heart was pounding, racing, the hands and mouths were gone, heat washed over her skin, and Dany blinked at a sudden glare. Perched above her, the dragon spread his wings and tore at the terrible dark heart, ripping the rotten flesh to ribbons, and when his head snapped forward, fire flew from his open jaws, bright and hot. She could hear the shrieks of the Undying as they burned, their high thin papery voices crying out in tongues long dead.

Their flesh was crumbling parchment, their bones dry wood soaked in tallow. They danced as the flames consumed them; they staggered and writhed and spun and raised blazing hands on high, their fingers bright as torches.

(ACoK, Daenerys IV)

Concluding for now, but more to come

I have to take a break, but I want to get this giant chunk published. There are just a few more things (I hope only a few) about bird and flower sigils and fruit and bug allusions I haven't included. I've also posted elsewhere about "green" characters - Gren, Gendry, Lommy Greenhands, Gregor Clegane, the Green Grace, etc. - but these people may take on a new meaning if we think of "green" as the lynchpin that holds together the seven colors needed for a rainbow. The lynchpin idea may also help to identify new "green" characters who weren't apparent before: the sigil of Ser Hyle Hunt is a dead stag, which might be a commentary on the death of Renly, who has appeared previously in "ghost" form at the Blackwater and at Joffrey's wedding feast. Could Ser Hyle be a "green" character - another ghost of Renly - guiding Brienne through her quest in the Riverlands?

I haven't dug deeply into the rainbow connections for Ser Loras and Brienne because they are more complex characters. It does complicate things that Loras kills several of his "brothers" in the guard. I would welcome comments that help to understand how Loras and Brienne are shaped by, or link back to, the rainbow guard and its symbols.

I would also welcome alternate interpretations and assistance working out the meaning of the Rainbow Guard in relation to other guards - kings guard, Strong Belwas, Areo Hotah, Sandor Clegane, Night's Watch, city watch, etc. What does it mean that Renly was saving the last rainbow cloak (blue) for Ser Barristan, but Selmy instead went to Daenerys? Also needed are insights about non-rainbow colors, combinations of colors, or colors in non-guard contexts that come up in connection to members of the Rainbow Guard. Finally, if someone could explain the connection between oranges and feet, I would be most grateful.

Edited by Seams

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Blast it all. This forum ate my reply so just this for right now.

The light wave scale has indigo, but the artist's color wheel does not. Blue begins to bleed back into red with purple/violet as the transition colors. Like Renly's color guard, indigo is just not used and the main colors are primary (blue, red, yellow) and secondary (orange, green, purple). Maybe indigo is like the Stranger? I can see Loras becoming a Stranger figure. There's a history between Cat and the Mallisters, especially Jason. When Cat encounters the Mallisters, she pulls up her hood to be unrecognizable in Stoneheart foreshadowing. Perhaps the Mallisters become associated with the Stranger via an alliance with Stoneheart? I like how you note that Rhaegar (prophesy) and Supercharged Jorah (Jorah will end up the jacked up by Valyria Brightroar in my sword-swapping triangle theory) defeats the Mallisters.

http://images.utrechtart.com/products/optionLarge/Utrecht/CWfront.jpg

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The Stark colors are gray and white. When Sansa reconnects with snow/winter/Winterfell, we get this:

ASOS Sansa VII

Her maid rolled herself more tightly in her blanket as the snow began to drift in the window. Sansa eased open the door, and made her way down the winding stair. When she opened the door to the garden, it was so lovely that she held her breath, unwilling to disturb such perfect beauty. The snow drifted down and down, all in ghostly silence, and lay thick and unbroken on the ground. All color had fled the world outside. It was a place of whites and blacks and greys. White towers and white snow and white statues, black shadows and black trees, the dark grey sky above. A pure world, Sansa thought. I do not belong here.

Yet she stepped out all the same.

This as Sansa is becoming disillusioned by the complexities of Southern culture which she used to hold in high esteem.

 

We started out as hunter/gatherers and evolved into farmers which was the beginning of a more complicated society and civilization (green!). I don't think it's any coincidence that the more complicated Southern culture is linked to rainbows while the closer to the old ways North is lacking in color. Mel is advocating returning to a more simple society (black-and-white thinking, sacrifices), so destroying rainbows in favor of white, black and red is only fitting. Likewise the High Sparrow is colorless compared to that obnoxious rainbow and spun gold crown that the old High Septon used to wear.

As we age and become more complicated, our appreciation for accordingly complicated colors develops. Children are known to favor primary colors with little boys favoring blue on one end of the scale and little girls tending to favor light red at the other end of the scale. I see a correlation between an abundance of color and the complexity of the society.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/53/f6/c7/53f6c7bcac674344526b2083a7d272ea.jpg

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For Barristan, blue is typically the last color to be named in most societies. So blue reserved for the highest and most civilized of knights makes some sense.

 

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Nice topic. Rainbows are a puzzle: there's an irresistible contrast between the monochrome Night and the multicolour Day - but if rainbows belong to Day, then why do they come from crystals, which seem to me to be very straightforwardly representing ice -> winter -> Night?

On 14/03/2018 at 0:22 AM, Seams said:

When Davos asks for an update on what happened at and after the Battle of Blackwater and which lords remained to support Stannis, among the news delivered by Lord Alester is that:

. . . the red woman burned Sunglass, and Lord Bar Emmon is fifteen, fat, and feeble Those are your lords of the narrow sea. Only the strength of House Florent is left to Stannis, against all the might of Highgarden, Sunspear, and Casterly Rock, and now most of the storm lords as well.

(ASoS, Davos III)

I take a special interest in Lord Sunglass because he probably represents the crystals that create rainbows...

I'd forgotten Lord Sunglass. Mel worships her god for holding back the Night and returning the world to Day, but if she's destroying rainbows, maybe that means she's forgotten to cherish light and life; she's forgotten what she's fighting for.

On 14/03/2018 at 0:22 AM, Seams said:

That leaves green in the middle as a major player in his own right - does he play both sides? Does he represent Garth Greenhand? What can we infer by examining the many "green" characters throughout the books?

The centrality of green sounds very good. It's the natural colour for the knights of summer, and it's the colour chosen by their king for his armour. Green is a favourite of the Lannister twins as well, who are both beautiful as the sun, with sunlight in their hair etc, etc. Green is linked with gold again in the arms of the Tyrells, heirs to the gardener kings. The ultimate summer colour.

On 14/03/2018 at 0:22 AM, Seams said:

... Also needed are insights about non-rainbow colors, combinations of colors, or colors in non-guard contexts that come up in connection to members of the Rainbow Guard. Finally, if someone could explain the connection between oranges and feet, I would be most grateful.

Oranges? Feet??!  :blink:

On 14/03/2018 at 10:40 AM, Lollygag said:

The light wave scale has indigo, but the artist's color wheel does not. Blue begins to bleed back into red with purple/violet as the transition colors. Like Renly's color guard, indigo is just not used and the main colors are primary (blue, red, yellow) and secondary (orange, green, purple). Maybe indigo is like the Stranger? I can see Loras becoming a Stranger figure.

Loras as Stranger: I like that idea. Black and white are both death colours: when Loras fights as a knight, his chosen colours are blue, silver and white - a proper ice knight. He reminds me of Tolkein's wizards: Saruman the White became Saruman of many colours; which Gandalf described as the white light being broken (and therefore corrupted). I'm not sure what grrm's spin on this would be, but Loras travels the other way - was a rainbow; now white, becoming more pure, not less.

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indigo and the Rainbow Guard:

If I'm remembering my history correctly, indigo is only a part of the spectrum in order to bring the count up to seven. Perhaps Indigo and violet are combined in the Rainbow Guard (and in the Seven?) as purple. Until now, I've considered indigo to be the color of the Stranger- but perhaps the Stranger is all of the other six combined- clear light or absolute dark depending on whether the colors are in physical objects or energy?

 

Edited by hiemal

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Probably not at all helpful here, but we also see rainbow peace banners in Jaime in ASoS, when he is w/ Steelshanks, and the rainbow swords and cloaks of the Warrior's Sons. 

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On 3/14/2018 at 6:40 AM, Lollygag said:

The light wave scale has indigo, but the artist's color wheel does not. Blue begins to bleed back into red with purple/violet as the transition colors. Like Renly's color guard, indigo is just not used and the main colors are primary (blue, red, yellow) and secondary (orange, green, purple). Maybe indigo is like the Stranger? I can see Loras becoming a Stranger figure. There's a history between Cat and the Mallisters, especially Jason. When Cat encounters the Mallisters, she pulls up her hood to be unrecognizable in Stoneheart foreshadowing. Perhaps the Mallisters become associated with the Stranger via an alliance with Stoneheart?

If I hadn't just found a ton of stranger imagery associated with Renly, Brienne and Barristan, the Mallister / indigo / Stranger possibility might seem stronger to me - I can't rule it out, but nothing in the subtext suggests the connection to me yet.

Ser Rodrik advises Catelyn to put up her hood when she sees the Mallesters, but she does not. They assume she is a bedraggled traveler and ride past without recognizing her, even without a hood as extra cover. The scene could still foreshadow Catelyn as a Stranger - being unrecognized by her father's bannerman (and a guest at her own wedding) implies that he considered her a stranger even though she was not one.

I wonder whether Orell's eagle is a hint about what we might expect from the Mallisters, with their eagle sigil. The wildlings use it as a drone. I don't think the Mallisters are spies because of their long history of service to their liege lords and their loss of family members in various conflicts. Orell's eagle attacks Jon and Ghost, injuring Jon's face and Ghost's neck. Melisandre sets fire to the eagle. I don't know. These are all still random bits of information until we see more of the Mallisters, I guess.

On 3/14/2018 at 6:40 AM, Lollygag said:

The Stark colors are gray and white. When Sansa reconnects with snow/winter/Winterfell, we get this:

ASOS Sansa VII

Her maid rolled herself more tightly in her blanket as the snow began to drift in the window. Sansa eased open the door, and made her way down the winding stair. When she opened the door to the garden, it was so lovely that she held her breath, unwilling to disturb such perfect beauty. The snow drifted down and down, all in ghostly silence, and lay thick and unbroken on the ground. All color had fled the world outside. It was a place of whites and blacks and greys. White towers and white snow and white statues, black shadows and black trees, the dark grey sky above. A pure world, Sansa thought. I do not belong here.

Sansa has dressed in blue before venturing outside - Brienne's color, or maybe a color for a woman on a quest. I like your point that she is rejecting southron culture here. This is sort of a "baptism" scene for her, maybe; washing away the false persona she used to survive in King's Landing and falling to her knees in the snow she associates with Winterfell. Sort of like Theon being baptized with seawater when he returns to the Iron Islands after growing up in the green lands.

As the sun rises, some color comes back into Sansa's snow scene, as I recall. Yes, here it is: "Dawn stole into her garden like a thief. The grey of the sky grew lighter still, and the trees and shrubs turned a dark green beneath their stoles of snow." Dark green isn't exactly a rainbow yet, but she soon recalls the glass gardens at Winterfell and their warmth. If the greenhouse at Winterfell is supposed to be like the crystals that create rainbows, capturing light and using it to create fruit and flowers, that would explain why GRRM makes it clear in this scene that the glass in the snow castle's glass house is imaginary. Maybe the point is that Winterfell is bereft of rainbows in a way that is similar to the destruction of Renly's rainbow guard. We will know that Winterfell has come back to life when the glass houses are reconstructed and the gardens are growing.

On 3/14/2018 at 6:40 AM, Lollygag said:

Mel is advocating returning to a more simple society (black-and-white thinking, sacrifices), so destroying rainbows in favor of white, black and red is only fitting. Likewise the High Sparrow is colorless compared to that obnoxious rainbow and spun gold crown that the old High Septon used to wear.

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For Barristan, blue is typically the last color to be named in most societies. So blue reserved for the highest and most civilized of knights makes some sense.

I'm still trying to pin down the details, but I think Mel likes the colors of fire (particularly red, but also orange and yellow). Maybe her destruction of rainbows shows that she is an extremist - instead of embracing the spectrum, she wants only the "roy" colors - no "g. biv".

I have been intrigued by the brown characters - Bronn, the high sparrow, perhaps King Tristifer Mudd, maybe the Brune / bruin and Umber characters. What is their role in the rainbow scheme? Maybe you're right, that they are more attuned to simple things and closer to basics in life. Maybe brown is the color of the smallfolk.

Renly thought Barristan was his blue knight, but we see Ser Barristan wearing white, growing a white beard, etc. Blue was Brienne's color even before she joined the rainbow guard. She may still be the highest and most civilized of knights, however, upholding your point. As I was doing a little more work on this today, I realized that GRRM may have used some lines from the famous song as he constructed his rainbow motif, with the blue sky as the ultimate goal:

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue

And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true....

Somewhere over the rainbow blue birds fly.

Birds fly over the rainbow,

Why then, oh, why can't I?

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11 hours ago, Springwatch said:

Nice topic. Rainbows are a puzzle: there's an irresistible contrast between the monochrome Night and the multicolour Day - but if rainbows belong to Day, then why do they come from crystals, which seem to me to be very straightforwardly representing ice -> winter -> Night?

I'd forgotten Lord Sunglass. Mel worships her god for holding back the Night and returning the world to Day, but if she's destroying rainbows, maybe that means she's forgotten to cherish light and life; she's forgotten what she's fighting for.

The centrality of green sounds very good. It's the natural colour for the knights of summer, and it's the colour chosen by their king for his armour. Green is a favourite of the Lannister twins as well, who are both beautiful as the sun, with sunlight in their hair etc, etc. Green is linked with gold again in the arms of the Tyrells, heirs to the gardener kings. The ultimate summer colour.

Oranges? Feet??!  :blink:

Loras as Stranger: I like that idea. Black and white are both death colours: when Loras fights as a knight, his chosen colours are blue, silver and white - a proper ice knight. He reminds me of Tolkein's wizards: Saruman the White became Saruman of many colours; which Gandalf described as the white light being broken (and therefore corrupted). I'm not sure what grrm's spin on this would be, but Loras travels the other way - was a rainbow; now white, becoming more pure, not less.

It does seem as if ice and crystals should be in the "clear glass" family together. Now that this rainbow analysis has given me my first toehold in understanding GRRM's use of color, I may have to do a color re-read of the whole series and try to figure out the role of glass, ice, crystals, fire, sunlight, etc. Based on what I've seen in the little excerpts I've examined, Melisandre isn't interested in all light or even particularly in sunlight: she likes fire. And fire is most dramatic at night, I think. That Stannis excerpt about shadows specifically referred to nightfires. My sample may have been too small, though. I'll have to look at other Melisandre scenes for better insight.

Lord Bryce Caron was Renly's orange guard. He is killed by Ser Philip Foote. But this reminded me of Septon Meribald giving out oranges all over the Riverlands, and his story for Brienne and Pod and Hyle about the Smith toughening up his feet over the years. That led me to remember Prince Doran sitting in his wheelchair with blood oranges dropping all around him, unable to stand on his feet (and with his joints compared to ripe fruit). So GRRM is trying to tell us something, I think, but darned if I know what it is.

That's an interesting point, about white representing purity. Of course, Cersei puts white cloaks on Kettleblacks. I wish I better understood Ser Loras. By killing several of the rainbow guard, I wonder whether he is supposed to be like rainbow-destroyer Melisandre on some level. But a couple of them are killed after they have gone over to support Stannis. Is he really pure, or is he part of the Tyrell family drive for power and status?

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2 hours ago, hiemal said:

indigo and the Rainbow Guard:

If I'm remembering my history correctly, indigo is only a part of the spectrum in order to bring the count up to seven. Perhaps Indigo and violet are combined in the Rainbow Guard (and in the Seven?) as purple. Until now, I've considered indigo to be the color of the Stranger- but perhaps the Stranger is all of the other six combined- clear light or absolute dark depending on whether the colors are in physical objects or energy?

When I was in grade school, indigo was a standard part of the "Roy G. Biv" spectrum we studied. So there have always been seven colors, as far as I was taught, and indigo is one of them.

When I searched on the word "indigo," I don't recall seeing anything that linked it to the Stranger. If I ever undertake a rainbow re-read, I will definitely look for evidence that each of the seven gods is linked to a color. I don't recall seeing it in the excerpts examined so far, but it might be there and I just wasn't tuned into it yet.

2 hours ago, kissdbyfire said:

Probably not at all helpful here, but we also see rainbow peace banners in Jaime in ASoS, when he is w/ Steelshanks, and the rainbow swords and cloaks of the Warrior's Sons. 

All rainbows interest me now. I will add these ideas to my growing re-read list. Someone just posted a scene with Tyrion and Septa Lemore, reminding me about part of her attire: "Septa Lemore had emerged in her white robes, cinched at the waist with a woven belt of seven colors." So there's another example to sort out and a reminder that searching on the word "rainbow" won't reveal everything on the topic.

The rainbow motif leads me to take an interest in all bows in general. Jalabhar Xho gives Joffrey a golden bow with red and green-feathered arrows for a wedding gift. Then there are cross bows, Ygrite shooting Jon with an arrow and then killed by an archer herself, the Tarly huntsman, Bloodraven's archers . . . so many bows.

And since rainbows usually appear when rain ends, it might be worth looking at all scenes where rain ends or even when the Rains of Castamere song ends . . .

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18 hours ago, Seams said:

If I hadn't just found a ton of stranger imagery associated with Renly, Brienne and Barristan, the Mallister / indigo / Stranger possibility might seem stronger to me - I can't rule it out, but nothing in the subtext suggests the connection to me yet.

Ser Rodrik advises Catelyn to put up her hood when she sees the Mallesters, but she does not. They assume she is a bedraggled traveler and ride past without recognizing her, even without a hood as extra cover. The scene could still foreshadow Catelyn as a Stranger - being unrecognized by her father's bannerman (and a guest at her own wedding) implies that he considered her a stranger even though she was not one.

I wonder whether Orell's eagle is a hint about what we might expect from the Mallisters, with their eagle sigil. The wildlings use it as a drone. I don't think the Mallisters are spies because of their long history of service to their liege lords and their loss of family members in various conflicts. Orell's eagle attacks Jon and Ghost, injuring Jon's face and Ghost's neck. Melisandre sets fire to the eagle. I don't know. These are all still random bits of information until we see more of the Mallisters, I guess.

I'll need to reread Orell. A link to the Mallisters would be interesting given Denys Mallister and Jon seem ok. The Mallisters seem poised to become more significant in future books, so I agree that we may not have enough info on them. 

18 hours ago, Seams said:

Sansa has dressed in blue before venturing outside - Brienne's color, or maybe a color for a woman on a quest. I like your point that she is rejecting southron culture here. This is sort of a "baptism" scene for her, maybe; washing away the false persona she used to survive in King's Landing and falling to her knees in the snow she associates with Winterfell. Sort of like Theon being baptized with seawater when he returns to the Iron Islands after growing up in the green lands.

As the sun rises, some color comes back into Sansa's snow scene, as I recall. Yes, here it is: "Dawn stole into her garden like a thief. The grey of the sky grew lighter still, and the trees and shrubs turned a dark green beneath their stoles of snow." Dark green isn't exactly a rainbow yet, but she soon recalls the glass gardens at Winterfell and their warmth. If the greenhouse at Winterfell is supposed to be like the crystals that create rainbows, capturing light and using it to create fruit and flowers, that would explain why GRRM makes it clear in this scene that the glass in the snow castle's glass house is imaginary. Maybe the point is that Winterfell is bereft of rainbows in a way that is similar to the destruction of Renly's rainbow guard. We will know that Winterfell has come back to life when the glass houses are reconstructed and the gardens are growing.

I never thought of it as a baptism so much as a symbolic deflowering or maybe just growing up. I'd rather a baptism as the sexual imagery in this scene is a bit off-putting for me given Sansa's age. She brings up lover's kisses, there's a being in love vibe to the whole thing, and she starts out building Winterfell with two balls and a cylinder. Then dawn steals into the garden like a thief (Thief in the Moonmaid) and LF steals a kiss, this with gardens being about fertility. 

ASOS Sansa VII

 

She pushed two of her snowballs together, added a third, packed more snow in around them, and patted the whole thing into the shape of a cylinder. When it was done, she stood it on end and used the tip of her little finger to poke holes in it for windows. The crenellations around the top took a little more care, but when they were done she had a tower. I need some walls now, Sansa thought, and then a keep. She set to work.

 

I'm unsure as to Winterfell's gardens. Plants need red and blue wavelengths to grow and reflect green as it's unneeded, so the gardens giving their plants yellow and green doesn't make sense to me. Not sure if it's a mistake on GRRM's part or if I'm missing something. 

 

18 hours ago, Seams said:

I have been intrigued by the brown characters - Bronn, the high sparrow, perhaps King Tristifer Mudd, maybe the Brune / bruin and Umber characters. What is their role in the rainbow scheme? Maybe you're right, that they are more attuned to simple things and closer to basics in life. Maybe brown is the color of the smallfolk.

 

Sansa wears a brown dress as a bastard and isn't Arya as a nameless orphan often in brown? Umber is the name of a brown paint color. Burnt Umber is a cool dark brown. The Umbers are linked to Giants and therefore perhaps old ways. 

 

18 hours ago, Seams said:

Lord Bryce Caron was Renly's orange guard. He is killed by Ser Philip Foote. But this reminded me of Septon Meribald giving out oranges all over the Riverlands, and his story for Brienne and Pod and Hyle about the Smith toughening up his feet over the years. That led me to remember Prince Doran sitting in his wheelchair with blood oranges dropping all around him, unable to stand on his feet (and with his joints compared to ripe fruit). So GRRM is trying to tell us something, I think, but darned if I know what it is.

 

Orange and feet is a nice catch. 

 

https://www.incredibleart.org/lessons/middle/color2.htm 

This is a link to some common color associations. Note that most colors have a duality. I do think this source has missed some of the negative associations. For example, pink is sometimes linked to weakness and superficiality, but it’s a good starting point. The art scene and the advertising world have explored the symbolism of color a great deal but GRRM doesn’t seem like an artsy guy as he rarely mentions the visual arts and I'm starting to wonder if he isn't good at recognizing faces which would explain some of his hard-to-swallow hidden so-and-so plots, so I’m inclined to stick to the basics for interpreting him.

 

I do have an idea on orange (and feet). Orange is an action color which lacks the aggressiveness of red. It’s linked to energy, movement. Autumn is linked to orange and autumn is most definitely a call to action: Winter is Coming. Time to prepare. In my mind, I also associate it with warnings for this reason, and I also link it to big changes as both sunrise and sunset are so linked to orange. Feet are also linked to action and movement. It may be no coincidence that the Nike logo is orange and the swish looks like an abstracted foot. I’m also recalling Arya throwing a blood orange at Sansa’s betrothal dress. There’s blood symbolism here which I won’t go into, but also orange: Arya is trying to wake Sansa up about Joff, Sansa who keeps her head in the blue sky. Orange is the opposite of blue.

 

18 hours ago, Seams said:

Renly thought Barristan was his blue knight, but we see Ser Barristan wearing white, growing a white beard, etc. Blue was Brienne's color even before she joined the rainbow guard. She may still be the highest and most civilized of knights, however, upholding your point. As I was doing a little more work on this today, I realized that GRRM may have used some lines from the famous song as he constructed his rainbow motif, with the blue sky as the ultimate goal:

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue

And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true....

Somewhere over the rainbow blue birds fly.

Birds fly over the rainbow,

Why then, oh, why can't I?

 

Over the Rainbow does seem important now that you mention it. The story is about Westeros having its head in the clouds though in a much less lovely way than the song implies, with so many looking for their pot of gold and missing the reality around them.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Lollygag

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17 hours ago, Seams said:

When I was in grade school, indigo was a standard part of the "Roy G. Biv" spectrum we studied. So there have always been seven colors, as far as I was taught, and indigo is one of them.

It absolutely is, but it is also somewhat arbitrarily. Purple was split into indigo and violet not because they are distinct in a prism-split spectrum but because Newton was obsessed with numerology and various other attempts to link the earthly and heavenly spheres in numerical marriage. I suspect that the Westerosi may not have done so because of the inclusion of purple in the Rainbow Guard instead of indigo and violet, as well the lack of any correlation between the individual "gods" of the Seven and the colors of the spectrum. Septons, septas, begging brothers, and silent sisters are described as wearing robes of dun, brown, green (I think), white, gray, and blue. I've not seen anything about the colors of candles burning at each altar or any other arrangements making prominent use of color schematics. Seven colors, seven gods seems too good to pass up, but I think it might be deliberate misdirection on GRRM's part.

17 hours ago, Seams said:

 

When I searched on the word "indigo," I don't recall seeing anything that linked it to the Stranger. If I ever undertake a rainbow re-read, I will definitely look for evidence that each of the seven gods is linked to a color. I don't recall seeing it in the excerpts examined so far, but it might be there and I just wasn't tuned into it yet.

That's just my previous best guess at assigning colors to the Seven. I'm less enamored of it now, but it was mostly based on the idea of the Stranger as the wanderer from far places, associated with the darkness of deep space and what not.

I'm also curious why we don't see more rainbows in the Stormlands- it would seem an important bit of imagery for someplace like "Storm's End".

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Reading the thread has changed my ideas right round a few times (funny how the forum is much better at generating ideas than the books... thanks, everyone.)

Gandalf would be wrong in this instance, I think. The white light may be pure, but it's not better than messy, multicoloured life. Sansa chooses to embrace the pure world, but she knows she doesn't really belong there. The Black Brothers and the White Brothers are are celibates, they don't generate life. Life is in all colours of the rainbow, as represented by the drothraki sea.

The higher echelons of the Faith are also celibate, they wear white, they love crystals (a close parallel to ice), and they love stars (which according to drothraki teachings are ghosts). Long ago they had a fearsome army that was defeated with great difficulty.  These high priests and priestesses really, really sound like the Others. So I can't help thinking that stars, and crystals and rainbows may be fine and lovely things, but they have a much darker layer of meaning.

I think the key to crystals and rainbows is that the light is bent; it is controlled and shaped. You might say it bows towards authority (as the Faith teaches that people should). Ice preserves, so possibly life will be preserved, but trapped like light reflecting internally in a crystal. I think this says something about the Others' army of the undead.

Last thing, I put my fingers to the keyboard to blast Mel for burning rainbows, because she is thereby burning enslaved humanity. But she was actually burning the glass guy, any metaphorical rainbows were collateral damage. I still don't know what to think about Mel. Is she representing Dany? Burning the ice wights?

Edited by Springwatch
punctuation

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3 hours ago, Lollygag said:

Sansa wears a brown dress as a bastard and isn't Arya as a nameless orphan often in brown? Umber is the name of a brown paint color. Burnt Umber is a cool dark brown. The Umbers are linked to Giants and therefore perhaps old ways.

 

I was reminded of Brown Ben Plumm today, too. So many colors!

3 hours ago, Lollygag said:

Orange and feet is a nice catch. 

I found another pairing of a fruit and a body part as I was doing some more search work today. (I can't use the Search of Ice and Fire site on my home computer so I have to do it at work or at the library, which is what is slowing me down in putting up the rest of the rainbow guard analysis.)

Lemons and teeth. We know that Jeor Mormont likes lemon in his beer, and there is a scene where Cersei wakes up and drinks water with lemon to clean her teeth. But following the trail of the three Emmon characters in the books (prompted by Emmon Cuy, of the Rainbow Guard) provide a few clues to strengthen the association.

Apples and throats may be another pair - Emmon Frey has a prominent (Adam's) apple in his throat, pigs are roasted with apples in their mouths, and the Fossoway apples are often mentioned in connection with Rainbow Guard members.

3 hours ago, Lollygag said:

Over the Rainbow does seem important now that you mention it. The story is about Westeros having its head in the clouds though in a much less lovely way than the song implies, with so many looking for their pot of gold and missing the reality around them. 

I was thinking the "Over the Rainbow" lyrics might reflect characters who wish they could fly but who can't - people who want to ride dragons, for instance. The three way castles to the Eyrie are stone, snow and sky. So there may be some symbolism there about reaching the "blue sky" above the Rainbow. And then we have a bunch of situations where people have dreams that seem to be prophecies - dreams really do come true. But this may all be coincidence.

3 hours ago, hiemal said:

It absolutely is, but it is also somewhat arbitrarily. Purple was split into indigo and violet not because they are distinct in a prism-split spectrum but because Newton was obsessed with numerology and various other attempts to link the earthly and heavenly spheres in numerical marriage. I suspect that the Westerosi may not have done so because of the inclusion of purple in the Rainbow Guard instead of indigo and violet, as well the lack of any correlation between the individual "gods" of the Seven and the colors of the spectrum. Septons, septas, begging brothers, and silent sisters are described as wearing robes of dun, brown, green (I think), white, gray, and blue. I've not seen anything about the colors of candles burning at each altar or any other arrangements making prominent use of color schematics. Seven colors, seven gods seems too good to pass up, but I think it might be deliberate misdirection on GRRM's part.

That's just my previous best guess at assigning colors to the Seven. I'm less enamored of it now, but it was mostly based on the idea of the Stranger as the wanderer from far places, associated with the darkness of deep space and what not.

I'm also curious why we don't see more rainbows in the Stormlands- it would seem an important bit of imagery for someplace like "Storm's End".

I didn't realize that this was an artificial set of seven colors created by Newton. It makes sense that the seven divisions are just short hand - the whole spectrum idea should have told me that there are more subtle gradations. As you can tell, my science background is pretty basic.

Nice catch on "Storm's End"! That makes it the perfect location for generating rainbows.

Awhile ago, I had been trying to figure out whether GRRM intended a wordplay connection between Ser Loras and the room called a "solar" that is found in many castles. They seem to be used by Lords for receiving visitors and conducting business. I couldn't figure out a good connection to Ser Loras, however, so I had to let it go.

Now I'm thinking that the point may be that Loras IS the sun - the Rainbow Guard works only when he is the Lord Commander. In this figurative scheme, maybe Renly is the crystal but I'm wondering whether a better fit might mean that Margaery is the crystal: the king is protected by a Rainbow when the sun shines through the crystal. Loras is Renly's real lover, but Renly and Loras are fond of Margaery whose presence helps them to maintain their relationship.

Cersei sends Ser Loras on an impossible mission where he is gravely injured and helps to ensure that Margaery is imprisoned (along with her attendants, who may be the equivalent of Margaery's Rainbow Guard). She elevates the Kettleblacks and the colorless, anti-crystal High Sparrow. I think it's not a coincidence that Jaime (gold) and Ser Ilyn (possibly silver) leave King's Landing just as she starts getting into trouble. So maybe Melisandre isn't the only one bent on destroying rainbows.

1 hour ago, Springwatch said:

The higher echelons of the Faith are also celibate, they wear white, they love crystals (a close parallel to ice), and they love stars (which according to drothraki teachings are ghosts). Long ago they had a fearsome army that was defeated with great difficulty.  These high priests and priestesses really, really sound like the Others. So I can't help thinking that stars, and crystals and rainbows may be fine and lovely things, but they have a much darker layer of meaning.

I think the key to crystals and rainbows is that the light is bent; it is controlled and shaped. You might say it bows towards authority (as the Faith teaches that people should). Ice preserves, so possibly life will be preserved, but trapped like light reflecting internally in a crystal. I think this says something about the Other's army of the undead.

Last thing, I put my fingers to the keyboard to blast Mel for burning rainbows, because she is thereby burning enslaved humanity. But she was actually burning the glass guy, any metaphorical rainbows were collateral damage. I still don't know what to think about Mel. Is she representing Dany? Burning the ice wights?

I wonder whether we will also see the final defeat of the Others when someone unites the power of obsidian AND crystal. Dark and light, dragon and faith working together.

It does feel as if the crystals are traps, somehow. Or maybe I'm just wishing for a prism / prison pun. :) If there really is a connection between ice and crystals, then the biggest crystal would be The Wall. And the bodies of the sentinels and people imprisoned in ice cells, maybe also the weirwood that provides the Black Gate, really do support the idea that people or creatures get literally or symbolically trapped.

When a person joins the Rainbow Guard, they are given enamel armor in the color Renly assigns to them. In other threads, the idea has been put forward that armor is like an egg shell - both a place that incubates life and a separation from the world. Death and rebirth in one?

As for Mel, see above for a comparison to Cersei as a would-be destroyer of rainbows.

My reading and re-reading usually doesn't take me in the direction of Dany, but I know there is a lot of color imagery in her threads. Ser Jorah tells her about the colors of the Dothraki Sea, as posted above. She is constantly eating fruit. Daario gives her wildflowers during a ride at some point. Khal Drogo gives her the horse she calls her silver. So I don't think she and Mel are together in their relation to rainbows but there is a lot more detail to be analyzed.

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Playing with @Springwatch 's idea on crystals, ice and rainbows. The Wall is often described in rainbow terms as it changes colors, covers half the sky, is the end of the world.  The Others' armor is described as (moon)light on water which makes me think of how rainbows are made. 

 

I'm now toying with the idea that the Wall is the Westerosi Noah's Arc, especially in the description of Shieldhall. Zombies certainly seem like a flood sometimes and the Others are linked to water. The Wall could be a dam of sorts. The Long Night has a myth like status like the Great Flood of Noah. Like the Long Night in ASOIAF, a great many cultures in real life have their own Great Flood. Noah sends out a raven, and then a dove. 

 

AGOT Prologue

 

A shadow emerged from the dark of the wood. It stood in front of Royce. Tall, it was, and gaunt and hard as old bones, with flesh pale as milk. Its armor seemed to change color as it moved; here it was white as new-fallen snow, there black as shadow, everywhere dappled with the deep grey-green of the trees. The patterns ran like moonlight on water with every step it took.

 

AGOT Jon III

 

The sun had broken through the clouds. He turned his back on it and lifted his eyes to the Wall, blazing blue and crystalline in the sunlight. Even after all these weeks, the sight of it still gave him the shivers. Centuries of windblown dirt had pocked and scoured it, covering it like a film, and it often seemed a pale grey, the color of an overcast sky … but when the sun caught it fair on a bright day, it shone, alive with light, a colossal blue-white cliff that filled up half the sky.

 

ACOK Jon I

 

Sam squinted up at the Wall. It loomed above them, an icy cliff seven hundred feet high. Sometimes it seemed to Jon almost a living thing, with moods of its own. The color of the ice was wont to change with every shift of the light. Now it was the deep blue of frozen rivers, now the dirty white of old snow, and when a cloud passed before the sun it darkened to the pale grey of pitted stone. The Wall stretched east and west as far as the eye could see, so huge that it shrunk the timbered keeps and stone towers of the castle to insignificance. It was the end of the world.

 

ADWD Jon III

 

The sword glowed red and yellow and orange, alive with light. Jon had seen the show before … but not like this, never before like this. Lightbringer was the sun made steel. When Stannis raised the blade above his head, men had to turn their heads or cover their eyes. Horses shied, and one threw his rider. The blaze in the fire pit seemed to shrink before this storm of light, like a small dog cowering before a larger one. The Wall itself turned red and pink and orange, as waves of color danced across the ice. Is this the power of king's blood?

 

Given the descriptions of light on the Wall, we have this:

 

AGOT Jon VI

 

"Hear my words, and bear witness to my vow," they recited, their voices filling the twilit grove. "Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."

 

This is quite interesting. The Shieldhall (shield that guards the realms of men) of the NW is a rainbow. The NW has weakened as it has become less rainbow-y.

 

ADWD Jon XIII

 

The Shieldhall was one of the older parts of Castle Black, a long drafty feast hall of dark stone, its oaken rafters black with the smoke of centuries. Back when the Night's Watch had been much larger, its walls had been hung with rows of brightly colored wooden shields. Then as now, when a knight took the black, tradition decreed that he set aside his former arms and take up the plain black shield of the brotherhood. The shields thus discarded would hang in the Shieldhall.

 

 

Hundreds of knights meant hundreds of shields. Hawks and eagles, dragons and griffins, suns and stags, wolves and wyverns, manticores, bulls, trees and flowers, harps, spears, crabs and krakens, red lions and golden lions and chequy lions, owls, lambs, maids and mermen, stallions, stars, buckets and buckles, flayed men and hanged men and burning men, axes, longswords, turtles, unicorns, bears, quills, spiders and snakes and scorpions, and a hundred other heraldic charges had adorned the Shieldhall walls, blazoned in more colors than any rainbow ever dreamed of.

 

But when a knight died, his shield was taken down, that it might go with him to his pyre or his tomb, and over the years and centuries fewer and fewer knights had taken the black. A day came when it no longer made sense for the knights of Castle Black to dine apart. The Shieldhall was abandoned. In the last hundred years, it had been used only infrequently. As a dining hall, it left much to be desired—it was dark, dirty, drafty, and hard to heat in winter, its cellars infested with rats, its massive wooden rafters worm-eaten and festooned with cobwebs.

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7 hours ago, Lollygag said:

I'll need to reread Orell. A link to the Mallisters would be interesting given Denys Mallister and Jon seem ok. The Mallisters seem poised to become more significant in future books, so I agree that we may not have enough info on them. 


Slightly OT- sorry, I will be quick then run out of here...

I very much agree with this. They have actually been with us since the first Bran chapter on the series. I had a small crackpot a few months back that involved them, and in researching that crackpot I learned a lot. Good stuff.

:leaving:

 

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14 hours ago, Lollygag said:

ADWD Jon XIII

The Shieldhall was one of the older parts of Castle Black, a long drafty feast hall of dark stone, its oaken rafters black with the smoke of centuries. Back when the Night's Watch had been much larger, its walls had been hung with rows of brightly colored wooden shields. Then as now, when a knight took the black, tradition decreed that he set aside his former arms and take up the plain black shield of the brotherhood. The shields thus discarded would hang in the Shieldhall.

 

 

Hundreds of knights meant hundreds of shields. Hawks and eagles, dragons and griffins, suns and stags, wolves and wyverns, manticores, bulls, trees and flowers, harps, spears, crabs and krakens, red lions and golden lions and chequy lions, owls, lambs, maids and mermen, stallions, stars, buckets and buckles, flayed men and hanged men and burning men, axes, longswords, turtles, unicorns, bears, quills, spiders and snakes and scorpions, and a hundred other heraldic charges had adorned the Shieldhall walls, blazoned in more colors than any rainbow ever dreamed of.

 

But when a knight died, his shield was taken down, that it might go with him to his pyre or his tomb, and over the years and centuries fewer and fewer knights had taken the black. A day came when it no longer made sense for the knights of Castle Black to dine apart. The Shieldhall was abandoned. In the last hundred years, it had been used only infrequently. As a dining hall, it left much to be desired—it was dark, dirty, drafty, and hard to heat in winter, its cellars infested with rats, its massive wooden rafters worm-eaten and festooned with cobwebs.

Very nice catch!

The list of shields, I assume, is describing the past glory of the shield hall since each of those shields would have been taken down and interred with the Night's Watch member who brung it. So this could be another destroyed rainbow. In fact, it is probably a destroyed rainbow guard since shield and guard are roughly the same thing. In this case, the shield hall wasn't destroyed by a single person (a la Melisandre or Cersei) but became dark and dirty and cold because there were not enough Night's Watch recruits to maintain its purpose and color.

Instead of the possibility of a person as the crystal, I wonder whether a building or place is the symbolic crystal that casts rainbows? It seems significant that the Shield Hall had been shuttered for a hundred years but Jon opens it up and uses it to propose a departure from the Night's Watch traditions. And that he is then stabbed by his brothers.

Another scene I found that might support the "place as crystal" theory is Dany at the fighting pits - which were also closed until she reopened them. The helmet masks of the brazen beasts might be a match for the "Noah's Ark" sigils in the Shield Hall passage you cited. A number of the details here also prove that several of the rainbow theories I put forward earlier on this thread are complete b.s. after all. Dany's procession begins:

The plaza that fronted on her pyramid was paved with bricks of many colors, and the heat rose from them in shimmering waves. . . . Behind the drum marched Brazen Beasts four abreast. Some carried cudgels, others staves; all wore pleated skirts, leathern sandals and patchwork cloaks sewn from squares of many colors to echo the many-colored bricks of Meereen. Their masks gleamed in the sun: boars and bulls, hawks and herons, lions and tigers and bears, fork-tongued serpents and hideous basilisks.

...

She had seen the fighting pits many times from her terrace. . . . Strong Belwas and Ser Barristan fell in to either side as she and her lord husband passed beneath the bronzes, to emerge at the top of a great brick bowl ringed by descending tiers of benches, each a different color.

Hizdahr zo Loraq led her down, through black, purple, blue, green, white, yellow, and orange to the red, where the scarlet bricks took the color of the sands below.

...

Across the pit the Graces sat in flowing robes of many colors, clustered around the austere figure of Galazza Galare, who alone amongst them wore the green. The Great Masters of Meereen occupied the red and orange benches. The women were veiled, and the men had brushed and lacquered their hair into horns and hands and spikes. Hizdahr's kin of the ancient line of Loraq seemed to favor tokars of purple and indigo and lilac, whilst those of Pahl were striped pink and white. The envoys from Yunkai were all in yellow and filled the box beside the king's, each of them with his slaves and servants. Meereenese of lesser birth crowded the upper tiers, more distant from the carnage. The black and purple benches, highest and most distant from the sand, were crowded with freedmen and other common folk. The sellswords had been place up there as well, Daenerys saw, their captains seated right amongst the common soldiers. She spied Brown Ben's weathered face and Bloodbeard's fiery red whiskers and long braids.

ADwD, Daenerys IX

If the benches are indicative of GRRM's concept of a rainbow, then green and white together occupy the middle. He also includes black at one end of the spectrum. Indigo is absent again until he describes the colors of Hizdahr's clan - who wants to write up a comparison of House Mallister and House Crane with Hizdahr zo Loraq? There is also clearly a social hierarchy associated with these colors - has that been true all along? Is Ser Robar, for instance, the highest born of Renly's Rainbow Guard? I doubt he would outrank Brienne, who is the only child of a lord, while Ser Robar is the second son. And Bryce Caron was a Lord, taking the title after the rest of his family died of a chill. There does seem to be a difference between the bench hierarchy and the clothing distinctions, though.

As I've gotten a feel for the cluster of symbols GRRM uses with rainbows, I see a number of key words that link this scene (and the subsequent arrival of Drogon) to the Rainbow Guard - aside from the colors, words such as crane, merry (Pretty Meris is discussed), masks, boar, fruit, bugs (honeyed locusts), bronze, gold, rose. Note the Wizard of Oz allusion as the brazen beasts are listed: lions and tigers and bears, oh my! We are definitely going to see Dany fly over the rainbow in this scene, outdoing happy little bluebirds by flying into the blue sky on a black dragon.

I may have been at this too long, but my deep scholarly study of "yellow = Emmon = lemon" has led me to look for hidden lemons (I'll post more on this later). So I couldn't help but notice Dany's description of Drogon's eyes: His eyes were molten. Can you find the words "lemon tree" in that sentence? So Dany has finally found her "home" when she becomes a dragon rider in this chapter. Of course, I also assume an "eyes" reference like this is an allusion to the sword Ice. Sword, dragon, same difference, whatevs.

The first glimpse of Drogon is as a shadow that passes across the king's (Hizdahr's) face - an echo of Renly's death? Earlier in this thread, I told @Springwatch that I didn't think Dany was like Melisandre in her function as a destroyer of rainbows. But Drogon certainly fills that role here. Maybe I was just completely wrong about Dany and she is paired with Melisandre as a rainbow destroyer. Or maybe the point is that Dany can harness the shadow and stop it from destroying the rainbow; she will succeed where Melisandre fails.

11 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Slightly OT- sorry, I will be quick then run out of here...

I very much agree with this. They have actually been with us since the first Bran chapter on the series. I had a small crackpot a few months back that involved them, and in researching that crackpot I learned a lot. Good stuff.

You get back here right this instant, young lady! Spill! Every detail you can spare on House Mallister, if it please you. Immedjately would be preferable. Can't wait to hear it. Please and thank you.

Edited by Seams

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18 minutes ago, Seams said:

You get back here right this instant, young lady! Spill! Every detail you can spare on House Mallister, if it please you. Immedjately would be preferable. Can't wait to hear it. Please and thank you.

Seams, you are my most favorite Bran re-reader and stitcher of tales ^_^

Trust me when I tell you that it would bore your needles dull. It really was a fleeting total crackpot idea of mine (one of many) that I asked about pretty much in the middle of another thread of mine. So really it was just one post with a few others answering and the focus was actually on another character and IF they had any connections to House Mallister. If anyone here knows this Leech at all, then you probably can guess which other character I was crackpotting on :lol:

It was not a truly in-depth account of all Mallister mentions and activities, but I did find a few small bits that were interesting-ish. Regardless, I do still agree with Lollygag above when she wonders if the Mallisters will return in some more important way.

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1 hour ago, Seams said:

The first glimpse of Drogon is as a shadow that passes across the king's (Hizdahr's) face - an echo of Renly's death? Earlier in this thread, I told @Springwatch that I didn't think Dany was like Melisandre in her function as a destroyer of rainbows. But Drogon certainly fills that role here. Maybe I was just completely wrong about Dany and she is paired with Melisandre as a rainbow destroyer. Or maybe the point is that Dany can harness the shadow and stop it from destroying the rainbow; she will succeed where Melisandre fails.

I've been thinking some more on Dany & Mel too, and I agree their destinies are not the same. Dany cast aside her jewelled collar - in contrast,  Mel is never without hers, and that ruby screams control (and maybe her soul is trapped within?). So Dany has free will, which could make all the difference.

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On 3/17/2018 at 11:36 AM, The Fattest Leech said:

It really was a fleeting total crackpot idea of mine (one of many) that I asked about pretty much in the middle of another thread of mine. So really it was just one post with a few others answering and the focus was actually on another character and IF they had any connections to House Mallister. If anyone here knows this Leech at all, then you probably can guess which other character I was crackpotting on :lol: It was not a truly in-depth account of all Mallister mentions and activities, but I did find a few small bits that were interesting-ish. Regardless, I do still agree with Lollygag above when she wonders if the Mallisters will return in some more important way.

Thank you for the link! I followed your Nymeria thread for awhile but I see I must have gotten distracted by a windmill or some shiny object and missed some good discussion.

I love the idea of a Mallister / free folk link with Val as the key. Here's a different possibility:

The rainbow stuff has led me to think that Red Lake is either an important symbol or will be the site of a significant event in the last books. It was called Blue Lake until Brandon of the Bloody Blade slaughtered many CotF there. So it contains the blood / wisdom of many singers, using GRRM logic. It is the seat of the Crane family, and I am seeing some literary hints connecting crane symbols, the silver wings of the Mallisters and dragons. If I were forced to guess right now, I would say that the Cranes, Mallisters and Val are all symbolic (almost certainly not literal) Targaryens / dragons. Alternatively, they could be the "story tellers" (singers, fools, bards, prophets, etc.) who play a key role in keeping the Targ story alive; in transmitting symbolic treasures needed by the Targ heirs.

But I also love this: "strengthening two sides to make something stronger." This might explain why some characters seem to favor one side of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow) and others seem to have an affinity for the other side (blue, indigo, violet - or, in GRRM's scheme - blue, violet, black). With her command of fire, I wonder whether Dany will represent the red / orange / yellow forces, and Jon will represent blue, violet and black. They just need a green and white presence to bring them together.

Edited by Seams

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You have to be careful with symbolism, as it is always contingent

A symbol has meaning in the same way a word has meaning - it is a social construct, and people with different social orientations will have different meanings. In Westeros, the rainbow is mostly associated with the Faith - to them, the rainbow means 'seven', rather than 'many colours'. In English, 'red' is a colour, in Spanish it is a network.

To Renly, maybe the rainbow has the same significance it has to the LGBT community in our world. Does anyone really believe Renly was a particularly pious guy? We can't take a symbol from one culture, see it in another, and assume it has the same meaning - it might, but more often it doesn't. We see this over and over again in our own world - raise your palm to someone in one place, it means 'give me five', in another place it means 'fuck off away from me, you have the evil eye'. Similarly, a swastika has very different meanings in ancient Rome, 1930's Germany, and the Hindu faith.

For symbols to have meaning, there needs to be an agreement between the parties that there is a meaning, and what that meaning is. There's some very interesting syncretism in this thread, but much of it involves making equivalences across cultural or religious boundaries that really need to be questioned.

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18 minutes ago, Rufus Snow said:

To Renly, maybe the rainbow has the same significance it has to the LGBT community in our world. Does anyone really believe Renly was a particularly pious guy? We can't take a symbol from one culture, see it in another, and assume it has the same meaning - it might, but more often it doesn't. We see this over and over again in our own world - raise your palm to someone in one place, it means 'give me five', in another place it means 'fuck off away from me, you have the evil eye'. Similarly, a swastika has very different meanings in ancient Rome, 1930's Germany, and the Hindu faith.

Martin did talk about Renly's RG in the past.

http://www.westeros.org/Citadel/SSM/Entry/To_Be_Continued_Chicago_IL_May_6_8/

The Rainbow Guard isn't meant to symbolize Renly's sexuality. It was more of a culmination of several unrelated things, such as the fact that he'd already used white for the Kingsguard and black for the Night's Watch. A rainbow is seven colors combined together in one object - he compared it to a shamrock being a Irish Catholic symbol of the Holy Trinity, three parts which make up one thing. Plus it has seven colors and is tied to the Seven, plus worshipers of the Seven use prism rainbows in their temples.

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