Spoiler alert: This thread will discuss plot elements and details of the Dunk & Egg stories, the first three of which have been available since 2015 in a volume called A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. If you have not read them, you will want to do so before reading posts on this thread. They are wonderful stories and contain many points that connect with the ASOIAF novels.
Ashford Meadow = Mad Foreshadow*
If this is truly a hint to readers, I would guess that "mad" here is used in the slang sense. Urban dictionary tells us:
Most predominantly used in the greater New York area, "mad" is an appropriate replacement for Northern California's "hella" and Boston's "wicked." In the common vernacular, it translates into "a lot" or "extremely."
Ashford Meadow is everyone's destination in the first Dunk & Egg story, The Hedge Knight. In other words, the Dunk and Egg stories are filled with clues - a lot of foreshadowing - that can tell us what will happen in the ASOIAF series. I began to realize this when I recently examined Renly's Rainbow Guard. I noticed that there was tremendous overlap between the people and symbols in the Rainbow Guard and in the tourney at Ashford Meadow. I reread The Hedge Knight with the intention of further decoding the Rainbow Guard and found that the story is jam-packed with hints about ASOIAF and larger mysteries readers would like to better understand.
The details that have caught my interest go well beyond the colors, birds and fruit that were central to the Rainbow Guard analysis, so I thought I should start a new thread. I may not post things in chronological order here, and I can't promise that there will be a regular rhythm to these observations. In addition to the Tanselle post (below), I can foresee separate posts about pennies, rope, Dunk's "knighting" and his religion, and about helms and elms. (Note: almost all of those topics relate to armor.)
Tentatively, I am also pleased to share that the Bracken / Blackwood conflict may be at the core of all conflicts in the contemporary story - isn't it nice to simplify all of these complicated plots by finding that everything in ASOIAF boils down to a battle of two mighty warlocks (Bloodraven and Bittersteel)? Now we can all get on with our lives and set aside all this timesucking forum chit chat.
This thread may also lead to greater insights about the connection between oranges and feet. I'm sure there will be many more subjects as we reread the stories with an eye for detail.
I welcome thoughtful insights and comments from the good people of this forum. If you don't believe the stories and novels are filled with symbolism, layers of meaning and wordplay, however, I ask you to refrain from commenting, leave now and never darken my door again. You don't have to agree with everything, but straight-up sophomoric rejection of the analysis is a waste of my time and yours. Similarly, if you think it's fresh or clever to criticize comments here by posting something along the lines of, "It's really been too long between books. When is TWoW coming?" then you are neither original nor witty and you probably wore a half-helm in your last tourney and took a blow to the head. Borrowing a threat from Dunk:
"... I'll hunt you down, I swear I will. With dogs."
"You don't have any dogs," Egg pointed out.
""I'll get some," said Dunk. "Just for you."
Except I won't care enough to hunt you down. I will just revile you from afar.
*The next story in the Dunk & Egg series involves diversion of a waterway using a dam, so it's possible that GRRM is telling us that the Ashford Meadow setting of The Hedge Knight simply foreshadows The Sworn Sword - "dam" foreshadow instead of "mad" foreshadow. Based on the symbols and allusions already found in the earlier story, I believe that the foreshadowing applies to the larger world of ASOIAF and/or to Westeros history, not just to the upcoming dam.
Just a quick little observation.
I'm not sure whether to post this in the puns & wordplay thread, the color analysis of the rainbow guard thread, or the Dissecting Names thread. But it's a phrase from The Hedge Knight so this is as good a place as any.
He had piled the old man's things under an oak. The cloth purse contained three silver stags, nineteen copper pennies, and a chipped garnet.
Why did Ser Arlan of Pennytree carry a chipped garnet in his purse? I realize we could come up with an explanation - he found it on the ground, it broke off a pin he has in his bag (although Dunk's inventory mentions no pin), he won it gambling (Dunk doesn't mention that Ser Arlan was a gambler, and it seems out of character). What I'm looking for is a literary rationale. When a relatively poor man has only a paragraph's worth of possessions, it seems significant that GRRM would mention this item as one of his few belongings.
An explanation for the garnet may have presented itself as a side effect of something else I have been trying to figure out. As I have pondered the rainbow symbolism and the meaning of each color, orange has proven to be a more complex puzzle than some of the other colors. My tentative conclusion is that red and yellow must combine in the right way to create orange. (I expect we will see something similar for blue and purple creating indigo but, so far in the books, the emphasis has been on the "fire colors.") As a secondary color, orange is something of a higher order, more elusive color than the primary colors. (This is largely theory, I admit.)
So I've been looking at sigils with orange (Peake and Hornwood and Ashford) and looking for oranges in wordplay. For instance, the orange background of the Hornwood sigil caused me to examine the House words: Righteous in Wrath. "Orange with rust hi" is one possible anagram outcome. If this is a hint, the "hi" appears to be a leftover byproduct of getting the motto to make some sense. Rust is frequently mentioned in connection with armor, however, so now I'll pay closer attention to the rust references, to see what rust can tell us about orange and its possible deeper meaning.
Why did I make the leap from the chipped garnet to the color orange? Because:
Aegon Targaryen = Orange Garnet Ay
The dictionary says "ay" is an interjection meaning alas or alack or woe. Of course, I just see it as further confirmation of the all-important eye - Ei - Eisen chain of puns.
Here's my guess about one way the orange and garnet come together: Dunk & Egg are destined to be a team. They complete each other. Dunk comes into possession of a garnet and brings it into the partnership. Aegon has entree to House Ashford, with its orange sigil. Similarly, we see Bran & Hodor, Joffrey & The Hound, and the two heads of Maelys the Monstrous working as a boy/man team or, at least, as two heads coming together as one. Maybe Tyrion and Bronn also count as a pair.
But are there other ways to create this kind of "royal" power team?
There may be a pun on "garnet" and "argent." The latter word means "silver" or "white" and is used to describe those colors when used in heraldry. So the orange and white sigil of House Ashford might take on new meaning as a billboard expressing "Aegon Targaryen" through the use of orange + argent colors.
This may add to our understanding of why Lord Commander Mormont chose garnets for the eyes of the direwolf pommel he commissioned for the sword Long Claw:
The pommel was a hunk of pale stone weighted with lead to balance the long blade. It had been carved into the likeness of a snarling wolf's head, with chips of garnet set into the eyes.
(AGoT, Jon VIII)
With the presentation of the sword Long Claw, Jon has the "garnet ay (eye)" part of the equation. It is interesting to note that Sam obtained the garnets for the pommel in Molestown. Perhaps garnets have to be carried by true knights like Ser Arlan, Dunk and the Slayer. Edit: Also, Molestown is an anagram of both "lost women" and "two lemons." Members of the Night's Watch refer to brothel visits in Molestown as "digging for treasure," which is exactly what Jon does when he discovers the cache at the Fist. Speaking of which . . .
Now that the garnets are in hand, how will Jon obtain the orange, if he is to fully realize a destiny related to Aegon Targaryen?
Jon picked up a dagger blade, featherlight and shiny back, hiltless. Torchlight ran along its edge, a thin orange line that spoke of razor sharpness. Dragonglass.
(ACoK, Jon IV)
Blood orange. Orange garnet. Garnet eye. White and orange. Look for these combinations if you want to find a king or queen in the making. (Or an aspirational king or queen.)
I'm also going to look for evidence of these central characters assembling rainbows - they may need more than an orange and a garnet to fully realize their ambitions or destinies.
Edit: If you can stand a similar anagram:
Maelys the Monstrous = Amethyst Sour Lemons
Of course, you could also construct some interesting possibilities around "motley short man ..." or "rusty helmet ... " or simply "author's lemon system." But I think it's significant to see the fruit + gem combination, especially if the orange / garnet combination is correct. Both Sansa and Dany have associations with amethysts or violet eyes and with lemon cakes or lemon trees. In other stories, GRRM has used a gem as a significant focal point for action, and we know that he has created a Gemstone Emperors ancient back story for the history of the ASOIAF series. His mad king Aerys instructed the alchemists to make wildfire grenades in the shapes of fruit. Something seems to be going on with this symbolism.