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A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms Reread


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Before we move onto The Sworn Sword, I was really hoping to pin down something about two other knights in the Ashford Meadow tourney. Leo Tyrell and Robyn Rhysling were addressed in an earlier post. If the tournament is a Targaryen family technique for deciding who will ascend to the Iron Throne, though, why are knights such as Humfrey Hardyng and Humfrey Beesbury out on the field at all?

Again I turned to an anagram.

GRRM makes a point of creating a single phrase to describe the close and thrilling match between the two Humfreys, who are good brothers (brothers-in-law) as well as jousting opponents:

It was, smallfolk and high lord alike agreed, a splendid day of jousting. Ser Humfrey Hardyng and Ser Humfrey Beesbury, a bold young knight in yellow and back stripes with three beehives on his shield, splintered no less than a dozen lances apiece in an epic struggle the smallfolk soon began calling The Battle of Humfrey.

(The Hedge Knight)

It's a little bit of an odd phrase, "The Battle of Humfrey," and it seems as if GRRM went to a lot of trouble to create a situation that allowed him to use the phrase in the story. Why would he go to the trouble? So I ran it through the anagram website. The most intriguing possibility, to me, is:

The Battle of Humfrey = Theme of Butterfly Ah.

I look for bigger words as more likely to be meaningful when playing around with anagrams, and butterfly is a biggish word. But I also know that there is a lot of symbolic overlap between this Ashford Meadow tourney and the melee at Bitterbridge, associated with Renly and Brienne and the Rainbow Guard. One of Renly's key supporters is Ser Mark Mullendore, whose sigil is black and orange butterflies strewn over white. He is one of the opponents Brienne defeats in the melee.

Aside from the strong Ashford Meadow / Rainbow Guard link, the Mullendore butterfly sigil seems important to me because the orange and black butterflies could be a type of butterfly called a "monarch". Orange monarchs could explain why The Battle of Humfrey, and its hidden allusion to butterfly symbolism, is part of the Targaryen family tournament for the Iron Throne.

Bonus clue.

There are very few Mullendores mentioned in ASOIAF - the current Lord is Martyn Mullendore, mentioned only in the AFfC appendix. Then there is Mark, who gets the most ink of all the Mullendores. Third is a seemingly very minor footnote in a Jaime POV, as he reads the entry describing the achievements of Ser Barriston Selmy in the White Book, the history of the kingsguard: "In the Oldtown tourney, defeated and unmasked the mystery knight Blackshield, revealing him as the bastard of Uplands" (ASoS, Chap. 67, Jaime VIII). Uplands is the seat of House Mullendore, so the inference is that Blackshield is an illegitimate son of that House.

But we know which warriors use black shields, don't we? And we know of a famous bastard currently in the Night's Watch. He isn't from Uplands but he is from The North, which is "up" if you're anywhere else in the Seven Kingdoms. I think the butterflies and Mullendores are symbolic placeholders, if that's the right word, for Jon Snow's eventual participation in the game of thrones. (The fact that Barristan defeats Blackshield should not be considered indicative that he will defeat Jon for the Iron Throne. Barristan embodies The Stranger, and I think he gets to defeat everybody. In the same entry in the White Book, he defeats Robert Baratheon, Oberyn Martell, Balon Greyjoy and Rhaegar Targaryen, among other high-powered and high born lords and princes. He continues to serve as a member of the King's Guard, not expecting to gain power for himself. Although all those guys do kinda die, don't they? Well, Valar Morghulis. Some of his other tourney opponents aren't dead, though. Yet.)

So what do we know about Mark Mullendore?

  • He has a pet monkey. The monkey is black and white and comes from the Summer Islands.
  • He was a part of the wager over who would claim Brienne's maidenhead.
  • Because he was part of the cruel betting pool, Brienne sought him out (along with others involved in the wager) and defeated him in the melee.
  • He supports Stannis after Renly's death.
  • He fights in the Battle of the Blackwater and loses part of his left arm and his monkey.
  • He is captured and bends his knee to Joffrey.
  • Taena of Myr tells Cersei that Megga Tyrell, Margaery's cousin, is attracted to Mark Mullendore and wants to help him obtain a new monkey. (Megga will probably be betrothed to Ser Bulwer, however.)
  • Mark is one of the men Cersei falsely accuses of being Margaery's lover, and he is thrown into the dungeon of the Red Keep.

Monkeys are associated with Tyrion to some extent (although not necessarily exclusively). In ACoK, a begging brother rants about corruption in [ King's Landing ], calling Tyrion Lannister a "twisted little monkey demon" who controls the abomination King Joffrey Baratheon. Tyrion is hurt by the title, and often uses it mockingly in reference to himself thereafter (wiki). Is it possible that Mark and his monkey represent Jon Snow and Tyrion? Is there a sort of two-headed Maelys the Monstrous allusion?

Taena: "... Megga has a new suitor every fortnight. Once she kissed a potboy in the kitchen. I have heard talk of her marrying lady Bulwer's brother, but if Megga were to choose for herself, she would sooner have Mark Mullendore, I am certain."

Cersei laughed. "The Butterfly Knight who lost his arm on the Blackwater? What good is half a man?"

"Megga thinks him sweet. She has asked Lady Margaery to help her find a monkey for him."

(AFfC, Chap. 24, Cersei VI)

This passage about Megga Tyrell is more about playing the game of thrones, I think. Like Maegor's Holdfast and Margaery, Megga's name suggests someone involved in the "game" or maybe a personification of the game itself. So her choosing to help someone or seeking a romance could be a sign that she wants someone to advance in the game of thrones.

More importantly for our analysis here, we get some additional clues about butterfly knights. Cersei thinks a butterfly knight would be undesirable because he lost an arm. She refers to him as half a man. Losing an arm and the "half man" label are associated with Cersei's brothers. So Mark Mullendore is somehow a symbol for Jaime and Tyrion all of a sudden? And then Cersei has him locked up for sleeping with the queen, a form of treason Mark has not committed, but Jaime has. If the dungeon of the Red Keep is like the caterpillar's cocoon, will we see Mullendore emerge as a fully-formed butterfly after Qyburn finishes with him? We will see Ser Gregor Clegane emerge reborn as Ser Robert Strong from that dungeon, so we know rebirth can occur there. Maybe it will not be Mark who is reborn but his dormant stage in the dungeon could foreshadow an upcoming change in Jaime.

Like Megga and Margaery searching for a monkey for Mullendore, Cersei will soon be searching for Tyrion after he kills Tywin. Another monkey comparison for Tyrion? Another parallel between the two queens?

Where is GRRM going with this Mark Mullendore stuff?

But remember, it's not a Mullendore theme; it's a butterfly theme. So let's take a step back and look at

Other butterflies in ASOIAF.

In the first Daenerys POV after that Jaime POV with the Bastard of Uplands, Dany thinks about her lonely life in the Great Pyramid of Meereen and the god of Missandei's people on the Island of Naath:

Up here in her garden Dany sometimes felt like a god, living atop the highest mountain in the world.

Do all gods feel so lonely? Some must, surely. Missandei had told her of the Lord of Harmony, worshiped by the Peaceful People of Naath; he was the only true god, her little scribe said, the god who always was and always would be, who made the moon and stars and earth, and all the creatures that dwelt upon them. Poor Lord of Harmony. Dany pitied him. It must be terrible to be alone for all time, attended by hordes of butterfly women you could make or unmake at a word.

... The butterfly spirits sacred to their Lord of Harmony protected their isle against those who would do them harm. Many conquerors had sailed on Naath to blood their swords, only to sicken and die. The butterflies do not help them when the slave ships come raiding, though. ,,,

(ASoS, Chap. 71, Dany VI)

The butterflies of Naath come up again at a tragic moment for Missandei, when her brother Mossador has been found dead, a victim of The Sons of the Harpy:

When she returned to her rooms atop the pyramid, she found Missandei crying softly on her pallet, trying as best she could to muffle the sound of her sobs. "Come sleep with me," she told the little scribe "Dawn will not come for hours yet."

"Your Grace is kind to this one." Missandei slipped under the sheets. "He was a good brother."

Dany wrapped her arms about the girl. "Tell me of him."

"He taught me how to climb a tree when we were little he could catch fish with his hands. Once I found him sleeping in our garden with a hundred butterflies crawling over him. He looked so beautiful that morning, this one ... I mean, I loved him."

(ADwD, Chap. 11, Daenerys II)

After a really bad day in which Dany puts up with Hizdahr, wearing a tokar, resumption of the fighting pit and talk of slave trade, followed by rejection of Quentyn Martell, Dany's thoughts turn again to butterflies:

"On the morrow I must bathe in blood. The price of peace." She smiled wanly and patted the bed. "Come. Sit. Talk with me."

"If it please you." Missandei sat down beside her. "What shall we talk of?"

"Home," said Dany. "Naath. Butterflies and brothers. Tell me of the things that make you happy, the things that make you giggle, all your sweetest memories. Remind me that there is still good in the world."

(ADwD, Chap. 50, Daenerys VIII)

So Dany's butterfly references are strongly linked to brothers, like Cersei's association of the butterfly knight with losing an arm and being a half man. These passages with Missandei really drive home the point that Dany and Missandei have a lot in common: Dany feels that she was sold, like a slave, when she was betrothed to Khal Drogo. She wants to go home (to Westeros and/or to the red door) and her brother has been killed. If Missandei is a symbolic version of Daenerys, how do the butterflies of Naath relate to Dany's personal story?

An important clue for the reader is the tightly-wound tokar that Dany wears in order to fit in with the high born people of Meereen. The garment is a sort of cocoon of silk, just what a caterpillar would need before turning into a butterfly. Butterflies are a great symbol not only of "monarchs," but of living things that "die" when they weave a cocoon and are transformed and reborn. By the end of ADwD, of  course, we will see Dany emerge from her chrysalis and take flight (on the back of her dragon). If the cluster of symbols works in Dany's story the way it seems to work in other stories, this transformation to butterfly could finally take Dany to home and to a brother. Perhaps the brother will also undergo a metamorphosis to become a monarch butterfly.

Edit: I hadn't put any thought into Naath before this post, but I suspect its name might be a twist on the Greek root word thana or thanatos, meaning death. So the Lord of Harmony presides over a land of death with his butterflies. Other posts in this forum have identified Ned Stark as a lord of the underworld or Winter King. (And Robert Baratheon as the Summer King.) So Naath's butterflies may bring us back again to Jon Snow, who seems to be in training as the future Winter King.

There are more details and links to this butterfly stuff - why Mullendore and Bulwer are juxtaposed as rivals for Megga's affection, whether Mollander is linked to Mullendore, the butter in butterflies as part of the dairy motif, other flies (e.g., the dragonfly knight), the Humfrey characters that crop up in other places in the books, Shae's butterfly hands, and the gems that may connect Humfrey Hardyng and Humfrey Beesbury and Mark Mullendore to Brienne. But it's late here. I'll try to throw those into another post next time. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been wrestling with Humfreys, trying to find something they have in common that would explain why GRRM has used that name several times in varied POVs. I haven't found any links that seems decisive, aside from the fact that they tend to be knights and guards and ready or anxious to engage in combat. I thought maybe there was a unique form of wordplay involving rhymes, as the name Humfrey includes all the letters for the word rhyme. I've tried looking at hues, Freys, helms, myths, fury. Sometimes an approach looks promising for a couple of Humfreys, but no theme or color code or wordplay strategy seems to hold true for all of them.

Edit: A little brainstorm. I believe there is an SSM somewhere where GRRM has said that he subscribes to the notion attributed to Mark Twain that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Each Humfrey could be a signal of history about to repeat. I'll have to look at the Humfreys yet again, to see if this history rhyming idea might fit. Or maybe others in the forum can weigh in on this possibility?

At Ashford Meadow, in addition to Ser Humfrey Beesbury and Ser Humfrey Hardyng who participate in the jousting and in the Trial of Seven, there is a Humphrey (with a "ph" instead of an "f") Bulwer in attendance at the tourney. Later we hear about Humfrey Wagstaff in single combat by Brienne (she beats him, breaking his ribs and their engagement). Humfrey Swift is among a group of knights practicing jousting in a Jaime POV in AFfC. Humfrey Clifton is eager to engage in combat in an Asha POV in ADwD. So there is this combative streak in a number of the Humfreys.

I may need to explore the "fury" possibility further, as I notice that House Durrandon played a decisive role in defeating Humfrey I Teague and Humfrey II Teague in a battle in the Riverlands, according to TWoIaF. The conflict was about the Teague attempt to ban worship of the old gods over objections of bannermen in the Riverlands.

More Butterfly Battles / Games

In the previous post, I laid out the possibility that an anagram of "The Battle of Humfrey" might allude to butterfly symbolism. I took another look at butterflies today and found a few interesting supporting details.

GRRM's first use of a key word for a motif usually seems significant. The first use of "butterflies" is Sansa describing the sensation in her belly when she goes to court after Ned's arrest and Robert's death.

Grand Maester Pycelle was seated alone at the council table, seemingly asleep, his hands clasped together atop his beard. She saw Lord Varys hurry into the hall, his feet making no sound. A moment later Lord Baelish entered through the tall doors in the rear, smiling. He chatted amiably with Ser Balon (Swann) and Ser Dontos as he made his way to the front. Butterflies fluttered nervously in Sansa's stomach. I shouldn't be afraid, she told herself. I have nothing to be afraid of, it will all come out well, Joff loves me and the Queen does too, she said so.

(AGoT, Sansa V, Chap. 57)

So the butterflies start to flutter in ASOIAF just as the small council and members of the kings guard gather and Joffrey takes the Iron Throne for the first time as king. Certainly a watershed moment in the new "game" for the Iron Throne. Is the author comparing these government operatives, warriors and leaders to butterflies? In the Ashford Meadow tourney, he compared jousting knights to butterflies. But jousting, as you will recall from earlier posts, was compared to the Game of Thrones - symbolic combat to determine who would become king. The "butterfly battle" was part of that game, and I think Sansa is witnessing the players and game pieces taking their places for the new game that is just beginning.

We have also taken a look at the Lord of Harmony, who presides over Naath (thana = death) and is surrounded by butterflies that can kill people who try to invade the island. (I wonder whether there is Humfrey / harmony wordplay somewhere?) I suspect the Lord of Harmony is an ironic parallel for the King of Westeros, who is often more like a lord of chaos. Hmm. Do we have a character who has articulated chaos as his goal for King's Landing and Westeros? Why yes, yes we do. And @Damon_Tor recently put forth an interesting possibility that Littlefinger uses prostitutes as operatives to control people through "sex magic". This idea might add new meaning to the line from Dany's reflections on the Lord of Harmony: It must be terrible to be alone for all time, attended by hordes of butterfly women you could make or unmake at a word.

So maybe the ironic parallel isn't just from the Lord of Harmony to the king, but also to the Master of Coin. The king's butterflies are the small council and some key guards and warriors; Littlefinger's butterflies are the sex workers (and his political appointees in jobs around King's Landing). Everyone knows about the "little birds" who work for Varys; it makes sense that birds and butterflies would be found in close proximity. (And soon we will return to the subject of bees -- part of a birds and bees motif? -- and Humfrey Beesbury.)

At the court session described by Sansa, lords are ordered to swear fealty to Joffrey, Tywin is appointed Hand of the King, Cersei takes Stannis's place on the small council, Janos Slynt is made a lord and granted Harrenhal as his seat, Ser Barristan is dismissed from the Kingsguard and Jaime is promoted to Lord Commander. The Hound is appointed to fill the vacancy in the Kingsguard created by the departure of Ser Barristan. Finally, Sansa pleads for mercy on behalf of her father and Cersei and Joffrey agree to be merciful if Ned will confess his crime and recognize Joffrey as king.

The parts up through the appointment of the Hound, particularly the bit about Ser Barristan, interested me the most. Barristan the Bold is the champion of just about every combat situation and tournament he enters, but here are the king and small council trying to take him out of the game. It occurred to me that the promotion of Slynt and Jaime and the Hound, as well as the demand for submission from the breakaway lords and the demotion of Ser Barristan were like tournament play: there are winners and losers, reputations and accolades are earned or stolen (by bribing tourney officials, for instance, or by installing an heir unrelated to the previous king); people place bets that might pay off or might impoverish them; the crowd reacts with cheers when they favor the course of the action or with murmuring when they disapprove.

So the butterfly theme I thought might apply to the jousting is also associated with the machinations of the game of thrones.

Snake Skin, Silk and Cocoons

When Ser Barristan realizes that he is not going to be allowed to keep his job, he begins to drop the trappings of his position: helmet, cloak, breastplate and sword. "He reached up and undid the clasps that held his cloak in place, and the heavy white garment slithered from his shoulders to fall in a heap on the floor." The slithering of the cloak seemed significant: is GRRM comparing Ser Barristan to a snake? Snakes shed their skin as they grow. In religion or literature, sometimes this shedding of the snake skin is viewed as a symbolic rebirth. When Sansa steps before the throne to appeal to the king, she kneels on Ser Barristan's cloak. Is she becoming a snake, taking on this discarded skin like a skinchanger? Or is the symbolism that Ser Barristan is somehow guarding Sansa and/or her dress, even after he has left the room?

Sansa's reason for kneeling on the cloak is to avoid spoiling her gown. But the gown was already spoiled once -- she has explained that this is the ivory silk that was stained when Arya threw a blood orange at it. Sansa had the dress dyed black (she needed a mourning gown to show respect for the death of King Robert) so the dress itself has already been reborn. It's interesting to note that the hidden stain was blood orange juice -- not removed from the dress but covered up. Perhaps this is similar to having a shield repainted. Sansa indicates that she agonized over which jewelry to wear and finally decided on "the elegant simplicity of a plain silver chain." Remember the earlier speculation about the orange and argent (white or silver) color combination? Sansa is secretly wearing "colors" that may symbolize Aegon Targaryen. And Ser Barristan's slithering cloak is shielding Aegon's colors.

The topic of Sansa's reborn dress brings us to the very important subject of silk. Sewing and fabric were the initial set of symbols that drew me into this forum, so I am very excited (years later) to put together the silk / cocoon / butterfly symbolism and gain some new insights into GRRM's hints about rebirth. In an earlier post, I noted the cocoon symbolism as Dany shed her constrictive silk tokar and climbed on the back of Drogon for her first flight. This scene where Sansa decides to be brave and ask for mercy for Ned may be a similar use of symbols. She is not shedding her silk cocoon in this scene, however, but perhaps spinning it -- in addition to (or instead of) the silver chain being part of an Aegon symbol, it may represent Sansa binding herself with a chain similar to the way a caterpillar wraps itself in a cocoon. Sansa has persuaded herself that Joffrey and Cersei love her, that her father was deluded about Joffrey because he was taking milk of the poppy, and that everything is going to work out well. The blindness to the reality of her surroundings is like a pupae wrapped in a cocoon.

The cocoon spinning continues for Sansa in several scenes where she chooses gowns based on which color will please Joffrey and unwittingly cooperates with a wedding dress fitting conducted by Cersei's seamstress. When she escapes the Red Keep after Joffrey's wedding feast, she seems to escape the cocoon, finally, changing clothes without the help of a handmaid and wearing wool, not silk, clothes she chose herself and hid in a tree in the gods wood.

She found her clothes where she had hidden them, the night before last. With no maids to help her, it took her longer than it should have to undo the laces of the gown. Her hands were strangely clumsy, though she was not as frightened as she should have been. ... Sansa slid her arm from a sleeve, pushed down the gown, and wriggled out of it. She balled it up and shoved it into the bole of an oak, shook out the clothing she had hidden there. ... She had no blacks, so she chose a dress of thick brown wool. The bodice was decorated with freshwater pearls, though. The cloak will cover them. The cloak was a deep green, with a large hood. She slipped the dress over her head, and donned the cloak, though she left the hood down for the moment. There were shoes as well, simple and sturdy, with flat heels and square toes. The gods heard my prayer, she thought. She felt so numb and dreamy. My skin has turned to porcelain, to ivory, to steel. Her hands moved stiffly, awkwardly, as if they had never let down her hair before. For a moment she wished Shae was there, to help her with the net.

(ASoS, Chap. 61, Sansa V)

(Note: When Tyrion recalls strangling Shae, he describes her hands as having been like butterflies.)

This sounds very much as if Sansa has emerged from a silk cocoon. Does changing into wool now make her a sheep, though? I think the wool might be a hint that Sansa has not turned into a butterfly here, but a moth. Moths are attracted to wool because they lay eggs on it so their larvae can feed on it. The green and brown color scheme might reinforce the moth idea. The pearls on her bodice might be symbolic moth eggs on the wool, waiting to hatch. (GRRM never gets tired of the rebirth stuff, does he?) The symbolism is compounded by Sansa's examination of the hair net, "the web of spun silver," with its wires "stretched tight across her knuckles." And even more complicated by her skin turning to porcelain, ivory and steel. I think the spiderweb and marionette imagery of the hair net shows that Sansa has not yet escaped captivity and her new porcelain, ivory and steel skin is an allusion to an egg shell. Whether it is a moth's egg remains to be seen next time she is reborn.

We see similar links between silk and rebirth in Mance's cloak mended with red silk and in Ilyrio's wedding gift to Dany that includes silk fabric in addition to dragon's eggs.

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Back to the Battle of Humfrey

I just can't get enough of these Humfreys. Dudes are wack.

When I was examining the range of symbols associated with Renly's Rainbow Guard, I realized that fruit, flowers, birds, bugs and colors were often linked through sigils, names, clothing and actions of characters. Subsequently, I'm realizing that gems may also be part of the system of symbols.  An indirect gem link seems to be the case with my boys Humfrey Hardyng and Humfrey Beesbury.

As you recall, the two Humfreys, who are good brothers (brothers-in-law), joust against each other at Ashford Meadow. They break twelve lances apiece against each other, which is a sign of an even and honorable match. The reader learns indirectly that Hardyng was the winner when Dunk's POV indicates, "As loud and often as Ser Lyonel (Baratheon) laughed down a challenge, though, Dunk thought the day's honors should go to Ser Humfrey Hardyng, who humbled fourteen knights, each one of them formidable." After that insight from Dunk, Hardyng is challenged by Prince Aerion "Brightflame" Targaryen. The Prince is unsportsmanlike and targets Hardyng's horse. The horse is mortally wounded and Hardyng's leg is crushed as the animal crashes and falls. The host of the tournament awards Aerion's horse to Ser Humfrey, although onlookers speculate that crown Prince Baelor recommended that punishment for Aerion's unchivalrous action.

Even though Hardyng ends the first day of the tourney with a badly broken leg, he is in possession of a Targaryen horse. In spite of his injury, Hardyng volunteers two days later to participate on Dunk's side in the Trial of Seven:

Then (Dunk) saw the others; the one-eyed man with the salt-and-pepper beard, the young knight in the striped yellow-and-black surcoat with the beehives on the shield. Robyn Rhysling and Humfrey Beesbury, he thought in astonishment. And Ser Humfrey Hardyng as well. Hardyng was mounted on Aerion's red charger, now barded in his red-and-white diamonds.

He went to them. "Sers, I am in your debt."

"The debt is Aerion's," Ser Humfrey Hardyng replied, "and we mean to collect it."

"I had heard your leg was broken."

"You heard the truth," Hardyng said. "I cannot walk. But so long as I can sit a horse, I can fight."

(The Hedge Knight)

So Hardyng is an important player in this tournament for succession. Why? In Dunk's view, Hardyng is even the rightful winner. Aerion, who really is part of the line of succession for the Iron Throne, sees Hardyng as worth challenging and worth defeating by cheating, targeting the horse instead of his opponent's armor. How is Hardyng so important to this tourney symbolism?

I think this may be where gems enter into this. I think tough Humfrey Hardyng represents diamonds. Humfrey Beesbury may represent rubies, although I'm basing that mostly on the bury / ruby hint in his surname. The two Humfreys are not exclusively linked to either gem, the way Brienne is so strongly linked to sapphires. But I think GRRM may be offering us some gem-related clues that tie in with other symbols we have been decoding through the Dunk & Egg stories.

Red and White Diamonds

House Hardyng's sigil is a field of red and white diamonds. The red and white combination is significant in ASOIAF, of course, through associations with weirwood trees, Jon Snow's direwolf and the albino Bloodraven with his red wine stain birthmark. Until I began writing this post, I hadn't been thinking of Hardyng as one of the symbolic Bloodravens I keep seeing in the story. As I work things out here, though, I have had to reconsider that: Aerion will cut the head off the dragon puppet manipulated by Tanselle, who I do see as a symbolic Bloodraven. The wound to Hardyng's horse could be compared to the neck injury inflicted on the dragon puppet, except with real blood instead of red sawdust. Aerion breaks Tanselle's finger and Hardyng's leg. When Egg expresses Dunk's own thinking, that the attack on the horse was deliberate, Dunk thinks to himself, "... it was hard to accept that any knight could be so unchivalrous, least of all one who was blood of the dragon." If GRRM wants us to compare the attack on Hardyng's horse to the attack on the dragon puppet, this move by Aerion is dragon vs. dragon violence, and could be compared to a new Dance of the Dragons.

Except Hardyng isn't a Targaryen or even of Valyrian descent, from what we know, right? Could this passage help explain his role in the tournament?

"Two hundred feet tall, and so thick that six four- horse chariots can race along their battlements side by side (as they do each year to celebrate the founding of the city), these seamless walls of fused black dragonstone, harder than steel or diamond, stand in mute testimony to Volantis’s origins as a military outpost."


Tournaments in ASOIAF establish hierarchies and foreshadow events that will occur in the books. Hardyng brought low by a Targaryen prince might be a way of establishing that diamonds are not harder than dragonstone; Targaryens will be victors over other "gems" as long as they have the blood of the dragon. This probably also relates to the legendary Great Empire of the Dawn described in TWOIAF, where a dynasty of emperors and empresses named after gems inherits and battles for power over their realm. This could be a deliberate symbolic parallel for the dynastic infighting we see in the Targaryen backstory.

If Hardyng is a symbolic Bloodraven, his defeat in the lists may be GRRM's way of reminding the reader that Bloodraven is bastard-born to a non-Targaryen mother, even though Aegon IV later legitimized all of his bastards. Hardyng was diamond, but that is not as strong as dragonstone.

And then there's this, if you recall the description of Ser Humfrey Hardyng I cited earlier:

each one of them formidable = Theme of rhomboidal A Fence

A diamond is a type of rhomboid. Why would a fence be mentioned alongside this theme?

Screaming, the horse crashed sideways, knocking the wooden barrier to pieces as he fell. Ser Humfrey tried to leap free, but a foot caught in a stirrup and they heard his shriek as his leg was crushed between the splintered fence and falling horse.

In ASOIAF, it is significant any time a wall is breached or someone climbs over a wall or passes through a gate. This broken fence was the only barrier that kept jousting competitors in their lanes (lists) during the competition. Brightflame and Hardyng and the dying horse have now broken that fence. If the symbolism of this tournament is correct, and we are seeing the competition to determine the succession for the throne, I think the broken fence symbolizes that the Targaryens are now vulnerable - non-Targaryens can break through and enter the line of succession. Maybe Aerion intended only to give himself the chance to jump ahead in the line of succession, but breaking the fence is like Pandora's Box, and other, non-Targ competitors can now get into the line. Dunk thinks that Hardyng was the best competitor in the tourney, but he will soon die. Who did Dunk see as the second strongest jouster on that first day of competition? That would be the Laughing Storm, Lord Baratheon.

Fighting Fire with Fire

So Hardyng and his diamonds fall to Aerion's unchivalrous game play, yet Dunk will defeat Aerion in the Trial of Seven. Dunk isn't any gemstone at all, much less a diamond. If the diamond / dragonstone comparison is correct, how can Dunk of Fleabottom defeat a Targaryen Prince?

Aerion bore a three-headed dragon on his shield, but it was rendered in colors much more vivid than Valarr's; one head was orange, one yellow, one red, and the flames they breathed had the sheen of gold leaf.


Aerion was strong, but Dunk was stronger, and larger and heavier as well. He grabbed hold of the shield with both hands and twisted until the straps broke. Then he brought it down on the top of the princeling's helm, again and again and again, smashing the enameled flames of his crest. The shield was thicker than Dunk's had been, solid oak banded with iron. A flame broke off. Then another. The prince ran out of flames before Dunk ran out of blows.

(The Hedge Knight)

Dunk fights fire with fire - he defeats Aerion by turning his own "dragon" against him; Aerion's strong shield becomes his opponent's weapon. (This reminds me strongly of the story told by Nimble Dick about the legendary Ser Clarence Crabb: "Crackbones fought a dragon too, but he didn't need no magic sword. He just tied its neck in a knot, so every time it breathed fire it roasted its own arse." (AFfC, Chap. 20, Brienne IV). Aerion's actions against Hardyng caused the wooden fence to break, but Dunk the Lunk is thick as a castle wall and Aerion is not able to break this wall as easily as the fence was broken.

It's interesting to note that Dunk is putting out flames with each blow - breaking the flame decorations off of Aerion's helmet. When the two combatants began with jousting, Dunk's lance struck Aerion's shield "between two of its heads, gouging into a gout of painted flame." At the time of the Dunk and Egg stories, the tragedy at Summerhall is in the future. We are told that most of the Targaryens as well as Ser Duncan the Tall will die in that fire, but it is not yet clear exactly how the fire will start. Will Dunk try to put out the flames, as he seems to do so successfully in this combat with Aerion Brightflame?

Did I just say that Dunk isn't any gemstone? Recall that Dunk is carrying the chipped garnet he inherited from Ser Arlan of Pennytree. The garnet that may be a personal symbol for Aegon Targaryen. A chip off the old block? Dunk also carries Egg during the tournament play on the first day at Ashford Meadow. If the garnet represents Aegon / Egg, this would be the jewel Dunk brings to the fight.

This topic keeps growing as I write and think. I have a little more about the meaning of diamonds that I will put into the next post.

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In the third post of this re-read thread, I noted that we would not be getting into an analysis of teeth symbolism, as it is beyond the scope of this thread. Ha! That was before I realized that diamonds are symbolic teeth. My thinking about the Battle of Humfrey finally started to make sense when I realized that the jousting match between the two Humfreys represents teeth vs. honey. And that the teeth vs. honey battle is another way of saying "bitter" vs. "sweet".

Lemons and Teeth

Let us begin by reexamining a couple of paragraphs from that third post:

On 4/8/2018 at 3:49 PM, Seams said:

The trees - what does it mean that Jaime comes from the dead, poisoned weirwood tree at Raventree Hall, said to have been poisoned by the Brackens, and next sees the penny tree? GRRM likes to do things in threes so, naturally, there is a third tree in the chapter: Lord Blackwood offers to give up to his Bracken enemy a village called "Honeytree" where honey is produced. "All that sweet will make him fat and rot his teeth."


. . . If the three trees in this Jaime POV are a hint from the author, perhaps ravens, pennies and honey need to be compared to reveal their symbolic meanings. The clue about honey causing teeth to rot could be a helpful indication about honey, as lemon juice has been presented as the Westeros potion for strengthening teeth. Maybe honey is just the opposite of lemon. (And these symbols would then require us to sort out the meaning of teeth, but I believe that important symbol is outside of the scope of this thread.)

We all know about the importance of lemons in several arcs: Daenerys wants to find the red door and the lemon tree, Sansa and Sweetrobin love lemon cakes, Lem Lemoncloak hopes there will be lemon to flavor the duck he helped to hunt, Jeor Mormont likes lemon in his beer and Cersei drinks lemon water to freshen her breath even though she doesn't like it. In the Rainbow Guard discussion, I took a look at "lemon" characters who share the first name of Renly's yellow knight, Ser Emmon Cuy and laid out some of the evidence of the strong association between lemons and mouths. The lemon / mouth connection is part of a larger pattern in which fruits are linked to body parts - oranges and feet, grapes and eyes, peaches and cheeks, melons and heads, plums and breasts / pregnant bellies. (There is a little more lemon / mouth discussion here, about half way down the post in the link, offering some ideas about lemons as weapons.)

So far so good? Do we all agree that, in Westeros, lemons are good for teeth and honey is sweet and bad for teeth? So lemons and honey are opposites unless you intend to make something sweet and sour or, perhaps, make lemon cakes.

(In our world, lemon juice is considered somewhat bad for teeth because the acid can attack the enamel on teeth. It's possible that lemons or teeth are slightly different in Westeros than they are in real life, or that the state of medical care in Westeros around the year 300 AC is too primitive to recognize the damage that lemon can cause to enamel.)

What does any of this have to do with diamonds?

When I was beginning to research Humfrey Hardyng and Humfrey Beesbury, because of the diamonds in the Hardyng sigil, I went to the search site and looked at all the places in the books where diamonds are mentioned. (Through some quirk of that site, I can search only AGoT on that website when I use my current computer, so I can't duplicate today all the evidence I found in that broader search.) The two strong associations I saw with diamonds were 1. comparisons to teeth, and 2. black diamonds worn by Lannisters in their crowns. The first time GRRM mentions diamonds, we get a triple word score with Tyrion, teeth and black all in the same image:

Tyrion had a morbid fascination with dragons. When he had first come to King's Landing for his sister's wedding to Robert Baratheon, he had made it a point to seek out the dragon skulls that had hung on the walls of Targaryen's throne room. King Robert had replaced them with banners and tapestries, but Tyrion had persisted until he found the skulls in the dank cellar where they had been stored.

He had expected to find them impressive, perhaps even frightening. He had not thought to find them beautiful. Yet they were. As black as onyx, polished smooth, so the bone seemed to shimmer in the light of his torch. They liked the fire, he sensed. He'd thrust the torch into the mouth of one of the larger skulls and made the shadows leap and dance on the wall behind him. The teeth were long, curving knives of black diamond. The flame of the torch was nothing to them; they had bathed in the heat of far greater fires. When he had moved away, Tyrion could have sworn that the beast's empty eye sockets had watched him go.

AGoT, Tyrion II

The dragon teeth are not only diamonds, they are also blades, according to this description. Keep that in mind -- we'll come back to the teeth / blade thing.

Later, we see the Lannister jewelry. Two examples from AGoT:

Joff wore plush black velvets slashed with crimson, a shimmering cloth-of-gold cape with a high collar, and on his head a golden crown crusted with rubies and black diamonds.

(AGoT, Sansa V)

Joffrey was prominent among them, his raiment all crimson, silk and satin patterned with prancing stags and roaring lions, a gold crown on his head. His queen mother stood beside him in a black mourning gown slashed with crimson, a veil of black diamonds in her hair.

(AGoT, Arya V)

It is important to focus on GRRM's first use of a word that will reappear as a major motif. So the diamonds as dragon teeth are particularly significant, and they are associated with Tyrion.

I think that initial dragon teeth foundation for diamonds might also explain the crowns on Joffrey and Cersei (hers is a veil, but still worn on the head). An Arianne POV also refers to the desire to crown Myrcella with black diamonds. Joffrey and Cersei and Marcella are not Baratheons, much less Targaryens. They want to be seen as valid rulers, but they are pretenders without a drop of king's blood in their veins. So the black diamonds might be a sort of mummer's version of Targaryen attire - fake dragon teeth to make them look like royalty, like the blood of the dragon. (If the black diamonds also represent blades, then the Lannister "crowns" are similar to the ancient crown of the Kings of Winter, which features nine long swords in its design.)

The diamond sigil for Humfrey Hardyng might also help to explain why he is participating in this tourney for the Iron Throne. Maybe Hardyng represents not just teeth but dragon teeth.

I'll add some more diamond / teeth examples if I come back to this next time I have a chance to use a computer at work or at the library. Or others can add examples if you have interest and access to the A Search of Ice and Fire website.

With these examples and my sworn oath that I have seen other examples linking teeth and diamonds, we can accept that GRRM's references to diamonds often or always evoke teeth. It is known. For the time being, we'll also have to accept Lord Blackwood's line about the village of Honeytree rotting Lord Bracken's teeth. This is the clearest statement about honey being bad for teeth.

So the Battle of Humfrey involves a diamond sigil for Humfrey Hardyng and the three bee hives and obvious honey imagery for Humfrey Beesbury. Teeth vs. Honey.

Here's where the blades come in.

I think there's a pun on "biter" and "bitter" in the novels. We have a horrifying character named Biter, who was raised to be a fighter and whose teeth have been filed to sharp points. He eats fingers off the guards who were killed in the Weasel Soup attack and bites and eats a chunk of Brienne's cheek. He is killed when Gendry thrusts a sword through the back of his head and it comes out his mouth. Brienne mistakes it for his tongue, in her beating- and wound-induced delirium. Essentially, Biter is a living weapon. (Which is not uncommon in ASOIAF.)

The most famous "bitter" in the Westeros canon is Bittersteel, who carried the banner for the Blackfyre branch of the Targaryen family. He is Bloodraven's bitter enemy. Bittersteel's real name is Aegor Rivers. I think the name Rorge is intended to echo Aegor and Biter is intended as an echo of Bittersteel.

So the teeth imagery connects seamlessly to biting and, through

  • biter / bitter wordplay,
  • the black diamond dragon teeth as blades, and
  • the sword / bitter hybrid Bittersteel,

to bitterness. So we get a bitter vs. sweet conflict. Diamonds vs. honey. The association is strengthened by the lemon vs. honey symbolism, and the alliance between teeth and lemons. (I never get tired of mentioning one of my favorite anagram clues, Lamentation = attain lemon, which is another association of a sword -- the Royce family's missing Valyrian steel blade, Lamentation -- with team lemon / teeth / blade.)

In the Battle of Humfrey, the two jousters break a dozen lances each without resolving the tie. We don't know if the victory is awarded by judges, or whether Humfrey Hardyng wins outright, but recall that Dunk considers him the best competitor and rightful champion of the first day of the tourney. In other words, bitter is victorious over sweet.

Until Prince Aerion Brightflame Targaryen comes along and challenges Ser Humfrey Hardyng, with the outcome as described in the previous post. Is this bitter / sweet / Brightflame match-up like the rock / paper / scissors game children would play on a playground? Bitter conquers sweet but flame defeats bitter? Although Brightflame brings down Humfrey Hardyng, he doesn't exactly defeat him. He kills his horse and breaks the man's leg, but Brightflame is judged to be unchivalrous and must forfeit his horse to Hardyng, similar to the consequences for losing a match. Prince Baelor says that Hardyng's banner will continue to fly in the row with the champions, defending the queen of love and beauty, even though he is unable to fight with his broken leg. So Brightflame might be the loser.

In the previous post, I had started to examine the likelihood that Ser Humfrey Hardyng was a symbolic Bloodraven character. The details of the match with Brightflame, however, just don't seem to fit that parallel.

What if Brightflame is the Bloodraven parallel? That would fit with Hardyng's diamonds and the bitter / biter symbolism associated with Bittersteel. Bloodraven would do anything to defeat Bittersteel, just as Bittersteel would do anything to defeat Bloodraven. (And Hardyng returns in the Trial of Seven with the intention of seeing Brightflame defeated.) What does it mean that Hardyng ends up with Brightflame's horse? Bittersteel is associated with House Bracken, whose sigil is a horse. Bittersteel takes a winged horse as his personal sigil. Bloodraven is not strongly associated with horses, so far as I can recall.

Dunk later defeats Brightflame. Does this undermine all of my previous posts about Dunk becoming a puppet knight in Bloodraven and Egg's hands? I'm not sure it does. The other metaphor for Dunk's relationship with the great bastards is the three towers and three walls of Ashford Castle. The towers represent (I believe) Bloodraven, Bittersteel and Sheira Seastar, with Dunk as the castle wall that connects the three towers. Maybe Dunk's role in the Targaryen milieu is to find a way to balance the strengths of the three-headed dragon; to let each contribute but to keep each from gaining too much power.

What about the sawdust-filled dragon puppet attacked by Brightflame? Instead of being an attack on the Targaryen dynasty, maybe Brightflame's attack on the puppet represents an attack on Aegon IV. I had thought that Tanselle might represent Bloodraven, but my initial thought was that she represented Missy Blackwood. Missy manipulating a puppet Aegon IV would be an appropriate metaphor. This doesn't really work, though, does it? Brightflame attacks both Tanselle and the dragon puppet, and I don't think a symbolic Bloodraven would attack his own mother. Unless it's like Stannis chopping fingers off of Davos' hand? That attack actually made Davos more loyal to Stannis.

Another possibility: the dragon puppet represents Aegon V, the little brother who hates Aerion. Tanselle-too-tall might represent Dunk. I saw Dunk as a puppet being strung when he was measured for his armor, but maybe the puppet gets to be the puppeteer under certain circumstances -- the strings connect them to each other, but might work just as well if the puppet switched places with the puppeteer.

I guess the Hardyng = Bloodraven parallel is still strongest. The fact that his diamonds are red and white is pretty persuasive evidence of a Bloodraven association.

If this were an academic paper, a lot more work would be necessary: evidence and analysis of the meaning of honey, more diamonds = teeth examples, clearer evidence linking the great bastards to the jousting competitors. Clarification of the difference between sour (lemon) and bitter would also be helpful. We would need to explore the skilled archers who serve Bloodraven, known as the Raven's Teeth. There are many, many important teeth references to consider: Joffrey's sword called Lion's Tooth and even the Trident river, with the "dent" in "trident" using the root word for tooth. And we would need to figure out the meaning of Harry the Heir, the scion of House Hardyng who is second in line to inherit House Arryn at the end of ADwD. The fact that there are no lemons left in the Vale might also be significant. Feel free to weigh in on any of these points if you have ideas.

We do know that GRRM has indicated that the ending of the series will be bittersweet. I am persuaded that the Battle of Humfrey is a way of foreshadowing the ongoing  clash between bitter and sweet, with bitter likely to be the champion.


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On 4/7/2018 at 11:14 AM, Seams said:

*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 few quick comments. I meant to delve deeply, but ran out of time. I will return later when I have more time.

Firstly, lately I have been referring to the Wall as a giant dam, because I believe it's holding water magic prisoner with air magic. Air and water are two elements associated with the Ironborn, who I also believe are the ancestors of the wildlings. "Air" being their Storm god or goddess of the wind, and "water" being their Drowned God. I'm trying to condense my entire theory regarding this, but let me cut to the chase - you are finding connections to Bloodraven within The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword, and I am adding that the dam symbolism is referring to the Wall. Bloodraven once served as the Lord Commander. and he now resides north of the Wall in the cave.

On 4/7/2018 at 11:16 AM, Seams said:

So why is Dunk cast in the role of puppet? Throughout this story and future stories, we see Targaryens and Blackfyres trying to seduce, master, scapegoat, defeat and otherwise "possess" Ser Duncan the Tall.

Along with the dam symbolism connection to the Wall, Dunk as a very large puppet is a direct connection to Coldhands, who may be Bran's monster, but he was likely Bloodraven's monster first.

On 4/8/2018 at 2:49 PM, Seams said:

The clue about honey causing teeth to rot could be a helpful indication about honey, as lemon juice has been presented as the Westeros potion for strengthening teeth. Maybe honey is just the opposite of lemon. (And these symbols would then require us to sort out the meaning of teeth, but I believe that important symbol is outside of the scope of this thread.)

IMO lemons are also connected to war. The sight of a lemon orchard seemed promising to Arianne when she was trying to crown Myrcella, but it was next to the location where she was surprised by Areo Hotah. Also, when Doran left the Water Gardens for Sunspear, the people of Dorne greeted his arrival by throwing lemons, limes, and oranges at him in anger while crying for war. Lastly Bloodraven's closest men are the Ravensteeth, so the connection between lemons and teeth might also be referring to Bloodraven's men.

On 4/13/2018 at 8:25 AM, Seams said:

Root vegetables come up at feasts including when Bran must choose which dishes to send to which honored guests at Winterfell and he sends a plate of turnips to Big and Little Walder. But roots are major symbols throughout the books.

Turnips as symbolism for underworld is pretty interesting, especially considering what happened to Big and Little Walder. Big Walder was with Ramsay when the body of Little Walder is discovered, as the latest in a series of murders at Winterfell.

I haven't read through all the comments yet, but am wondering if you've come upon Dunc's dream yet and the parallels to Ned's fever dream? I'll keep reading!

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On 7/6/2018 at 12:34 PM, Feather Crystal said:

Firstly, lately I have been referring to the Wall as a giant dam, because I believe it's holding water magic prisoner with air magic. Air and water are two elements associated with the Ironborn, who I also believe are the ancestors of the wildlings. "Air" being their Storm god or goddess of the wind, and "water" being their Drowned God.

I love this. I bet there are other places we can find dam references.

I've been trying to pay attention to crossings over or through walls. Walls in the story are often crossed in unexpected ways - the Ironborn flowing over the walls of Winterfell; the stone walls in the fields that all look alike to Brienne at the beginning of her quest in the Riverlands; maybe the hidden cave Davos finds under Storm's End; the bricklayer, weaver and cobbler escaping through a hole in the wall of Astapor. I wonder whether the wall at Astapor was a dam holding back the pale mare (infectious disease) in a way similar to what you are seeing with the Wall holding back water magic.

It occurs to me that The Blackfish might be a key to this notion that Bloodraven has put himself beyond the Wall. As the "other Brynden," it is probably significant that The Blackfish found a way to escape Riverrun even though it was surrounded by Jaime and the Frey men at arms.

Your theory includes important consideration of the materials comprising the dam. That would be interesting to analyze alongside the blood in the walls of Harrenhal, for instance, or the magic in the walls of Storm's End.

I hope to start taking a close look at The Sworn Sword soon. I'll try to pay close attention to that dam to see how it fits with this larger motif.

On 7/6/2018 at 12:34 PM, Feather Crystal said:

Along with the dam symbolism connection to the Wall, Dunk as a very large puppet is a direct connection to Coldhands, who may be Bran's monster, but he was likely Bloodraven's monster first.

There seem to be a number of puppets -- particularly warrior puppets. Brienne after she is made to "dance" by Lem Lemoncloak pulling the rope around her neck; Ser Gregor possibly, after he receives the wooden knight as a gift from a toy maker. If Gregor was already a puppet at the point he put Sandor's face in the fire, it's almost as if Sandor was punished for trying to be a puppeteer - he wanted to play with the wooden, jointed knight because you could make him fight.

As I was reading and re-reading The Hedge Knight, I started to wonder whether Dunk might BE Coldhands. Nobody mentions that Coldhands is super tall, and it seems as if that would have been mentioned if he was Dunk. But Coldhands rides a giant elk, and that is similar to Ser Clarence Crabb riding an aurochs. I found at least one parallel between Dunk and Ser Clarence (the tying of the dragon in a knot is like Dunk's fight against Aerion Brightflame) so maybe there is a possibility we will see Dunk in the story of Coldhands, if it is ever revealed.

On 7/6/2018 at 12:34 PM, Feather Crystal said:

IMO lemons are also connected to war. The sight of a lemon orchard seemed promising to Arianne when she was trying to crown Myrcella, but it was next to the location where she was surprised by Areo Hotah. Also, when Doran left the Water Gardens for Sunspear, the people of Dorne greeted his arrival by throwing lemons, limes, and oranges at him in anger while crying for war. Lastly Bloodraven's closest men are the Ravensteeth, so the connection between lemons and teeth might also be referring to Bloodraven's men.

The fruit-shaped clay containers for wildfire, specified by King Aerys when he had the pyromancers produce more of the substance, are the best clue about the connection between fruit and war, in my opinion. When I tried to sort out the meaning of colors (and their matching fruits, birds and flowers) based on Renly's Rainbow Guard, I did get a strong feeling that there are Targaryen colors - red, orange, yellow and purple. Their meanings are complex so I'm not sure I'm ready to say that lemons always or often mean war.

On 7/6/2018 at 12:34 PM, Feather Crystal said:

Turnips as symbolism for underworld is pretty interesting, especially considering what happened to Big and Little Walder. Big Walder was with Ramsay when the body of Little Walder is discovered, as the latest in a series of murders at Winterfell.

Bran was mad that Rickon invited the Walders to go into the Winterfell crypt, but I think the roots Bran sent to Big and Little Walder at the harvest feast were a bigger key to their ability to cross barriers between the surface world and the underworld. They are the ones sent to bring Theon / Reek up from the dungeon at the Dread Fort, immediately after Theon has killed a rat with his own teeth (essentially when he has reached his lowest point). So the Walders may have acquired some underworld magic that Bran didn't realize he was bestowing on them.

Thanks for engaging with this thread and for commenting!

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12 hours ago, Seams said:

Their meanings are complex so I'm not sure I'm ready to say that lemons always or often mean war.

There is also the connection between lemons and pissing, and pissing’s connection to soiling.

Ser Arthur Dayne was said to be so formidable with a sword that he could fight equally well while taking a piss with his other hand.

Darkstar drank lemon water, then took a piss, and lastly stood with one foot upon the head of a statue of the Maiden while talking to Arianne.

Lem Lemoncloak’s cloak is so dingy a woman jested that he’s a Kingsguard in disguise, implying he pissed or soiled his cloak. 

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On 4/7/2018 at 11:16 AM, Seams said:

A thousand eyes and one

Also at Dunk's campsite:

The stars were everywhere, thousands and thousands of them. One fell as he was watching . . . . A falling star brings luck to him who sees it, Dunk thought.

OK, so I have a long way to go yet. I think I'm about half way done with the first page! My oh my Seams, your analysis is very detailed!

When I reread the Dunk and Egg novellas I was struck by how often Dunk thinks of Bloodraven. I think you may be onto something by wondering if Dunk is now Coldhands. The missing connection, however is the scarf around Coldhand's neck. I would think Dunk should show obvious signs of burning since he was with Aegon V at Summerhal...unless...his throat was cut in order to sacrifice his blood??? Ah, but I digress.


On 4/16/2018 at 2:03 PM, Seams said:

So Dunk is in great company in his "not really a knight" situation. Maybe the best knights in Westeros are those who are not really knights at all.

This is actually one of the major themes of ASOIAF, that "knights" weren't very honorable nor noble, and thus the many references to lemons - sour and bitter in flavor and yellow in color like piss.  And "piss" is in reference to the soiling of white cloaks.


On 4/21/2018 at 7:10 PM, Seams said:

Because of the Crabb / crab wordplay, Nimble Dick Crabb is also linked to the lobstered gauntlet symbolism. Are all three characters mentors / guides for major, POV heroes? All three engage in transactions involving coins. I think it's also significant that Steely Pate's name literally means "steel head" but Dick Crabb dies after being hit on the head with a morning star. Interesting, too, that Steely Pate is a smith while novice Pate has not made a single link toward creating his maester's chain.

You're attention is on the wordplay - my attention is focused on parallel inversions. The inversions are all part of the replaying of history, but the ouroboros - the dragon eating it's own tail - has eaten itself inside out. East is now west and the north is upside down. Steely Pate was actually known as a master armorer, so the inversion naturally would be that Pate has not made a single link towards becoming a maester.


On 4/29/2018 at 6:15 PM, Seams said:

Although the tourney is at Ashford Meadow, is sponsored by Lord Ashford and includes his daughter as the "Queen of Love and Beauty" and his two sons in the first rounds of jousting, the Ashfords are all sketchy presences in the story: the Lord and his daughter are not even given first names and the family has not made a subsequent appearance in the books. Instead, the story is dominated by half a dozen princes of House Targaryen as well as Dunk. Even tourney participants, a variety of minor smallfolk participating in the market attached to the tourney, and servants for House Ashford have bigger roles than the Lord and his family. So what is the author's purpose in putting House Ashford at the center of the activities?

"Mad Foreshadowing" indeed. The tourney at Ashford Meadow is foreshadowing the Tourney at Harrenhal, which led to the destruction of House Targaryen. Having Lord Ashford being a less than fleshed out character - a shadow really - indicates there was an equally unknown shadow figure that provided the financing for Harrenhal. I suspect that Tywin Lannister was the coin and that Lord Whent was just a patsy.

The tourney was a rouse much like Ashford was. Ashford was to draw support for the rebel Blackfyres, while Harrenhal was to draw support for Rhaegar to overthrow his father, Aerys. Is it any wonder that Aerion Brightflame connotes Aerys plan to burn Kings Landing before even considering surrender? Aerys believed, like some Targaryens before him, that he would rise from the ashes as a dragon - another connection to Ashford.

On 4/29/2018 at 6:15 PM, Seams said:

Since Aegon is eight years old, having a big, strong knight as his constant companion is a good way of keeping him safe while he matures into a worthy occupant for the Iron Throne.

Egg on Dunk = Bran on Hodor  = Bloodraven and Coldhands. Perhaps the parallels between Dunk and Coldhands are just that: parallels, and Dunk is not actually Coldhands. GRRM just wants us to draw those connections so that we will grasp the context. He's telling us the story of the Tourney of Harrenhal without actually telling us the story.


On 5/2/2018 at 9:10 AM, Seams said:

For those who haven't followed my wordplay obsession, I'll also note that I have expanded my belief in the linked "egg = Ei = eye = ice = Eisen = iron" symbolism. I used to think that these linked symbols led back specifically to Ned Stark's sword. Now I'm certain that references to eyes cover a broader range of sword allusions. (For instance, Qyburn telling Jaime that he has an inflamed cut over his eye is probably a reference to Jaime having a flaming sword.) So Aegon / Egg as the manifestation of a sword makes sense in this larger context of the complex sword pun. ("Ei" is the German word for "egg".)

Like I mentioned before, I see parallel connections between Dunk and Ned. Ned is also a very honorable man, but blind to the dangers surrounding him and his family. The theme that "knights don't act honorably", but the "knights that aren't really knights do" is made very plain in ASOIAF. It's interesting that Dunk the lunk always seems to win out in the end, even if at great physical injury each time....even drowning once, and then getting resurrected by an Ironman...but Ned didn't fare so well. Ned's honor always seemed to trip him up, and time after time he's deceived and defeated, and then beheaded. 

I will point out another foreshadowing here that connects Ned and Jon to Dunk: Dunk's resurrection after drowning. Ned raised Jon as his son and imbued him with his honor, but Jon's luck is better than Ned's - so far - in that his plans and assignments always seem to work, until it didn't and he's stabbed. I posit that Jon's expected resurrection will be performed by Val - who I believe is a priestess of the Drowned god and goddess of the wind - the two gods of the Ironborn. I'm not just pulling a rabbit out of my ass. The wildlings are descendants of the same ancestors as the Ironborn. It is their gods that are being held prisoner behind the dam/Wall. 

Well - I need to stop for now and get back to my real world work - oh pooh! Later!

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On 5/3/2018 at 8:24 PM, Seams said:

It is suggested that Balor comes from Common Celtic *Baleros, meaning "the deadly one", cognate with Old Irish at-baill (dies) and Welsh ball (death, plague).

Hello again!

Baelor of course also has Bael as part of the name, which connotes Bael the Bard. I'm not quite sure what we're to make of that, but certainly all these connections between Dunk and Coldhands as well as Dunk's many thoughts about Bloodraven, plus the dam issue in The Hedge Knight being an allegory for the Wall has me thinking that Baelor is meant to refer to Bael the Bard, or Mance Raydar. Baelor was well loved, honorable, noble, and pious. Are we to think of Mance as having Baelor's attributes? Should we expect a parallel inversion? Or is Mance a resurrected Rhaegar? More on this later.


On 5/3/2018 at 8:24 PM, Seams said:

Translation of the group name "Tuatha Dé Danann" is "People of the Goddess Danu," which sounds like the name of Daenerys / Dany Targaryen. Scholars believe that the Tuatha Dé are the gods of the people who lived in Britain before the Celts.

The Goddess Danu actually and immediately caused me to recall Dormammu, (Danu sounds like D-ammu) which is a Marvel creation. Some Pig/Pretty Pig did a fabulous analysis connecting the Marvel Dormammu to the wights.  GRRM is a huge fanboy of all things Marvel and has incorporated many Marvel characters into ASOIAF including Dr Strange who's physical description is very much like Littlefinger, but who's position as the new Sorcerer Supreme is Bran.


On 5/3/2018 at 8:24 PM, Seams said:

It's pretty clear that GRRM paid homage to these ancient stories when he plotted his Westeros stories. Some of these elements repeat more than once in ASOIAF: @By Odin's Beard thought the god with the destructive evil eye referred to Euron Greyjoy. I don't doubt that GRRM could use an element like that to create a parallel within the story at the same time he alludes to the ancient legend.


I quite agree with By Odin's Beard and his assertion that the evil eye is Euron Greyjoy, who I also suspect of either helping unravel the wards upon the Wall or just knows the wards are old and unraveling and is taking advantage. Euron is the complete inversion to Bloodraven, but I'll refrain from digressing from your thread by going off on this tangent!


On 5/3/2018 at 8:24 PM, Seams said:

The two Baelors have strong bonds with Dorne: Prince Baelor's mother is Dornish and he looks Dornish instead of having the usual silver-blonde Targaryen hair. Baelor the Blessed went out of his way to make peace with Dorne - returning hostages, showing humility in his travels to and from Sunspear, arranging a marriage between a Targaryen prince and a Dornish princess (father and mother of Prince Baelor).

I suspect that both men are instrumental in trying to make peace and - my intuition tells me - to circumvent a curse or prophecy. Maybe even the same prophecy that Prince Rhaegar tries to grapple with generations later. Both men seem to have focused on Dorne (maybe some credit goes to Daeron II for marrying a Dornish bride) to foster this peace and/or to avoid the prophecy.

The conflict for the Balor of Celtic legend was between the Celts and the Fomorians (the people before the Celts). The reader might assume that the equivalent in Westeros would be the conflict between the First Men and the Andals. But the Targaryens seem to be focused on making peace with Dorne. What is in the prophecy that causes them to turn to Dorne? Is their interpretation correct or should they have turned their attention to other groups where the blood of the First Men and/or worship of the old gods remains strong?

OK - this is more of a stream of consciousness than anything else, but sometimes you just have to trust your instincts! Like I said I'm all about noticing the parallels and inversions and I cannot help but notice the following parallel inversions that might explain this connection to Dorne:

1) Suspected baby-swap. It's been suggested that Varys swapped Rhaegar's son, Aegon, for the Pisswater Prince who's head ended up smashed upon a wall at the hands of Ser Gregor. 

2) Gilly's son, Monster was swapped with Mance's (royal) son Aemon Steelsong, so now Gilly's son is at the Wall and Mance's son avoided it. In this way the Pisswater Prince is Monster's parallel.

3) Sam and Gilly bring Mance's son to Horn Hill where he will be raised as Sam's son. The child is neither Sam's nor Gilly's, so in this way Aemon Steelsong parallel's Jon Snow who is also neither Ned's nor Wylla's child.

4) Monster is at the Wall. Jon Snow is also at the Wall. So, confusingly, while Jon mirrors/parallels Aemon Steelsong, he also mirrors Monster, which makes me think that there was supposed to be a baby-swap that did not occur due to either Bloodraven's machinations or to one of Ned's promises to Lyanna. Or both.

How does all this relate to Baelor and Dorne? Think about the route Ned supposedly took if we are to believe his fever dream was a true account, and compare it with Dunk's dream of when Chestnut died in Dorne. Dunk says the true events were nothing like his dream. The only thing about his dream that was true was that he and Egg rode to Dorne to look for Tanselle. Chestnut died on the way in the Prince's Pass, and one of Egg's brothers (probably Aemon) gave them Maester the mule to ride so that they wouldn't both have to ride on Thunder. The trip to Dorne was still a trip, but it wasn't the same. The symbolism of taking a trip is an analog for a transformation, and in Drogo's case in Mirri's tent it was a transformation to a different sort of life. He was resurrected, but he wasn't the same. Dunk's trip to Dorne to search for Tanselle was different than his dream, and we're supposed to wonder if Ned's fever dream was also the same or different than real life. Did Ned go to Dorne to look for Lyanna, who by the way was compared to a centaur, or did he really go just to return a magical sword? Is Chestnut an analog for Lyanna, a girl who could skin change into horses?

I hope I'm not getting ahead of your analysis. I haven't quite sorted out what all of this means, but it's a puzzle I've been working on lately. I'd be interested if you had any thoughts on it. Please try to refrain from assuming that Rhaegar is Jon's father, because if you do it'll take you down a different path than if Jon's father is Bael.

Edited to add: HOWEVER - if Rhaegar was resurrected at the tower of joy and became Mance - Baelor's connection to Dorne is an obvious parallel for Rhaegar's marriage to Elia. The more I think on this the more the evidence seems to support this seemingly crackpot idea that Rhaegar became Mance.  Recall that when Mirri resurrected Drogo he wasn't the same. He was alive - but he wasn't the same. So if Rhaegar was resurrected - he's alive, but he doesn't look the same. The account of Dunk and Egg riding Thunder until Egg's brother gives them Maester the mule to ride seems to imply that not only did Maester Aemon know that Mance was Rhaegar, he may have had a hand in figuring out how to accomplish the transformation from a huge warhorse like Thunder (Rhaegar) to a lowly mule called Maester (Mance).  These machinations would also explain how Jon could have "more of the north" in him and still be (somewhat) Rhaegar's son. If Rhaegar was resurrected as Mance, and Mance is Jon's father, the magic involved would certainly make the transformation and conception a manipulation - aka "more of the north in him" would equate to interference by the gods, or rather certain events put into play by Bloodraven in order to get the right person at the Wall. But wait, you say...the past cannot be changed. But what if history really is a wheel and has a somewhat reliable cycle? Bloodraven could have caused the ouroboros to eat its own tail, causing history (known events) to occur to different families, thereby manipulating the future.


On 5/3/2018 at 8:24 PM, Seams said:

Note: I think there's also a possibility that Flea Bottom is a parallel to the land of the Children of the Forest, which might make Dunk the equivalent of a "singer" or Child of the Forest. Follow the bowls of brown, also known as singer stew, weirwood paste and sister stew to start seeing parallels. Or consider Prince Duncan, son of Aegon V and namesake of Ser Duncan the Tall, who marries Jenny of Oldstones, friend of the woods witch and the Ghost of High Heart - sounds like another fair folk or CotF parallel. So Prince Baelor might actually reach back beyond Ser Arlan and the First Men, creating a pact with the CotF, by acting as a friend and champion for Dunk. (This also might be the Balor / Lake of the Eye parallel, as the God's Eye is a sacred, off limits location associated with the old gods.)

Here's what I think. Ned failed, because while he thought he honored the old gods, he didn't really believe in them, nor did he ever ask for their help, because he believed the Children were dead and gone 8000 years ago. That is why he failed. He had honor, but he didn't request or receive help from the Children. Dunk, on the other hand, drew on his Flea Bottom upbringing - aka, he tapped into the powers of the old gods and the Children and they helped him, just like the Last Hero - and also just like I suspect how the Children helped the Last Hero, by resurrecting him from the dead. The story of the Last Hero has his sword breaking, just like Ser Waymar's did. I think Coldhands, Last Hero, and Duncan are meant to mirror each other so that we understand that magic was involved. Dunk was at Summerhal when Aegon V failed to raise a dragon, but Dunk's account is supposed to be our hint that magic was involved at the tower of joy.

On 5/3/2018 at 8:24 PM, Seams said:

Prince Baelor puts his life at risk by participating in the Trial of Seven on behalf of Dunk. Is this like the rescue of Aemon, brother of Baelor the Blessed? If you consider snakes and dragons to be rough equivalents, then Baelor is certainly entering a nest of vipers when he participates in the Trial of Seven. Four princes are involved and each bears dragon armor, helmet or shield, some with sigils having multiple serpentine necks.

The description of a wound inflicted on Dunk also seems to equate the broken lance with a snake or possibly a leech:

Dunk reached over with his right hand, grasped the lance just below the head, clenched his teeth, and pulled it out of him with one savage yank. Blood followed, seeping through the rings of his mail to redden his surcoat.

(The Hedge Knight)

Grasping "just below the head" is the way to handle a snake to keep it from biting.

Dunk is also Ned, and Ned suffered from his wound inflicted by Jaime and it caused him to have the fever dream and to hallucinate much like a snake bite might do. 

On 5/3/2018 at 8:24 PM, Seams said:

Baelor does not rescue a brother, but he does rescue Dunk. His last act before dying is to instruct that boiled wine be poured on Dunk's wound. This seems like a blood sacrifice allusion which may, again, show Baelor's affinity for the old gods. When Dunk's horse had stumbled and fallen in the Trial, Dunk had thought of his horse at one point: "I am Thunder and Thunder is me, we are one beast, we are joined, we are one."

It has been suggested that the Knight of the Laughing Tree is a story of what can be accomplished when one human consents to having another human skin change into them. It's not an abomination if the host gives consent. Some Pig/Pretty Pig asserts that Lyanna skin changed into the horse that the KofLT rode. I tend to agree with her on this and take it a step further by saying that I think Ned also skin changed into Howland, so the three of them made up the Knight of the Laughing Tree. The evidence for this can be found in Sansa's descriptions of Ser Loras when he tilted Ser Gregor:


A Game of Thrones - Eddard VII

When the Knight of Flowers made his entrance, a murmur ran through the crowd, and he heard Sansa's fervent whisper, "Oh, he's so beautiful." Ser Loras Tyrell was slender as a reed, dressed in a suit of fabulous silver armor polished to a blinding sheen and filigreed with twining black vines and tiny blue forget-me-nots. The commons realized in the same instant as Ned that the blue of the flowers came from sapphires; a gasp went up from a thousand throats. Across the boy's shoulders his cloak hung heavy. It was woven of forget-me-nots, real ones, hundreds of fresh blooms sewn to a heavy woolen cape.

His courser was as slim as her rider, a beautiful grey mare, built for speed. Ser Gregor's huge stallion trumpeted as he caught her scent. The boy from Highgarden did something with his legs, and his horse pranced sideways, nimble as a dancer. Sansa clutched at his arm. "Father, don't let Ser Gregor hurt him," she said. Ned saw she was wearing the rose that Ser Loras had given her yesterday. Jory had told him about that as well.



Some Pig said:

A reed, cloaked in vines and flowers, on a slim, fast grey mare, facing off against a powerful opponent. The wolf girl concerned for the rider's safety against a bigger, stronger, and more formidable foe. The wolf girl favoring the rider because of an earlier personal connection. The grey mare's scent distracts the opponent's horse and allows "her" champion to win.

KOTLT: Howland. How did Lyanna help him cheat?

To take this further and make it both an echo and an inversion to the ToHH KotLT incident, we look at what happens next - the Mountain by no means accepts his defeat graciously, as did those defeated at the ToHH.  Instead, he flies into a rage, kills his own horse, and then tries to take out Loras next.   Loras is saved from death only by the intervention of the Hound - the personal protector of the Crown Prince.  (As many have noted, such as Melifeather, the Hound is the current day inversion of Arthur Dayne.)

Also of note, during CleganeBowl Lite at the Tourney of the Hand, King Bob gets fed up and yells to "Stop this madness!" before the Hound obeys and kneels, and the Mountain stomps away in a fury. At the ToHH, King Aerys is incensed by the KotLT and sends out men to capture the mystery knight.

I am going to double down on the passage and interpretation that Pretty Pig has provided in case you didn’t catch it the first time. The man slender as a reed is Howland, dressed in a suit of fabulous silver armor polished to a blinding sheen and filigreed with twining black vines and tiny blue forget-me-nots. Howland is “dressed” and “cloaked”. Does this mean Howland rode inside someone or someone rode inside him? The twining black vines and the blue forget-me-nots indicate a joined connection, or rather an instance of consensual skinchanging. Could it be any clearer that “the slender reed riding the grey mare” means that Howland rode Lyanna just like Bran rides Hodor? The grey represents House Stark and the the girl who loved blue flowers, who was so good on horseback that she was called a centaur, was the host. 

Dunk's comments that he is Thunder and Thunder is him seems to support the notion of combining a skinchanger (or skinchangers) with a host and a horse.


On 5/3/2018 at 8:24 PM, Seams said:

After the fight, he speaks with Prince Baelor:

"Your Grace," Dunk said, "I am your man. Please. Your man."

"My man." The black knight put a hand on Raymun's shoulder to steady himself. "I need good men, Ser Duncan. The realm ..."

Baelor's helmet is then removed and he dies in Dunk's arms.

Dunk caught him. "Up," they say he said, just as he had with Thunder in the melee, "up, up." But he never remembered that afterward, and the prince did not rise.

So Dunk becomes one with his horse and, it appears, with Prince Baelor. It's interesting to note that King Renly dies in Brienne's arms as she is helping him into his armor. Baelor dies in Dunk's arms as his armor is being removed.

If I had not fought, you would have had my hand off. And my foot. sometimes I sit under that tree there and look at my feet and ask if I couldn't have spared one. How could my foot be worth a prince's life?

Earlier in the story, Dunk sold his horse, Sweetfoot, to a man named Henly. This seems linked to the foot being worth a Prince's life and the man-horse bond being compared to the "I am your man" bond. And Henly sounds like Renly.

This passage makes me think of the story of Bael the Bard and how he's killed by his son - who doesn't realize that the man he just killed was his father. If Jon is a combo of an honorable Ned Stark combined with Dunk - who is connected closely to the old gods through his Flea Bottom upbringing, then this may be our foreshadowing that Jon will kill Bael only to learn later that the man he just killed was his father. The only way Rhaegar is Jon's father is if Rhaegar is Mance. This would mean that Rhaegar was successfully resurrected at the tower of joy - which by the way is what I believed was attempted there. There are so many parallels between the tower of joy as recalled in Ned's fever dream with Mirri's tent revival of Drogo that I believe the same ritual was worked there. I am quoting Some Pig/Pretty Pig a lot lately and here's another link to her analysis of the two.

This is why I believe Bloodraven manipulated things so that Ned would refuse to do the expected baby swap in order to place Jon where he is needed: at the Wall like Monster (who was a child of incest) even though he's more like the parallel to Aemon Steelsong. I think this is also why Mance seems to parallel Rhaegar so much and why readers tend to believe Rhaegar is Jon's son, because they sense the symbolism. Jon's father needs to be alive so that he is responsible for his death like the guilt Dunk feels for Baelor and the guilt Ned feels for Lyanna. 

I'm not sure who Ned was supposed to swap Jon for. I know the reason why he didn't do it - obviously it's because Jon is his blood, but some how he was supposed to be swapped for another child....maybe just maybe Jon was the Pisswater Prince? If he was the Pisswater Prince and was supposed to be swapped for Aegon - then Aegon really is dead.


On 5/3/2018 at 8:24 PM, Seams said:

When the High Septon died, Baelor [the Blessed] chose a simple stonemason called Pate as the replacement, as the gods had told him. Pate carved stonework so beautifully that Baelor believed him to be the Smith in human form. The new High Septon could not read, write or recite any prayers, was described as a lackwit, and died of a fever the next year after taking office. Rumor spread that Viserys had him poisoned to end the embarrassment to the realm. Baelor then raised a street urchin of eight years to the position, as Baelor claimed the boy worked miracles.

In The Hedge Knight, Steely Pate the armorer becomes a spiritual guide of sorts for Dunk, giving him faith in his sigil and reminding him of the shield rhyme that becomes Dunk's prayer. Dunk's other close supporter is an eight-year-old-boy, his squire, Egg.

I see this as a parallel to Bran again. Bran was chosen by the old gods to replace Bloodraven. Bran certainly is not a lackwit, but he is physically handicapped. I suspect when he ate the weirwood paste he technically "died", but his wedding to the weirwoods gave him his second life inside the trees, and it seems Bran will be able to work miracles.


Back to more reading!

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@Seams I hope you haven't read my post above yet, because I keep updating and changing it. I have to stop! lol, but I my mind is running a mile a minute making additional connections between Dunk's stories and the Bael(or)/Rhaegar twist. 

I came back yet again to bring up Tanselle, the marionette controller pulling the strings. Of course this is a parallel to Ned looking for Lyanna! Or, my preferred explanation right now is that Ned did not go to Dorne to look for Lyanna, because I believe he found Lyanna early on in the Rebellion before he called his banners. But Bloodraven, the puppeteer, has been sending Ned recurring dreams to make him associate his trip to Starfall to return Arthur's sword with when he found Lyanna. I'm not sure why Bloodraven wants to confuse Ned, because he got what he wanted: Jon at the Wall. The parallel to Tanselle then is that Bloodraven was pulling the strings and caused Ned to believe he went to Dorne to look for Lyanna. Maybe he wanted Ned to forget what he saw at the tower of joy?

If my theory that the tower of joy was an earlier parallel to Mirri's tent revival of Drogo, then someone tried to resurrect Rhaegar and succeeded, except that his appearance changed and he became Mance. Rhaegar/Mance's trip to the Wall would be a repeat of when Maester Aemon accompanied Brynden Rivers (Bloodraven) to the Wall. If Ned saw too much at the tower of joy then Bloodraven needed to conceal Mance's true identity from Ned. Thus the repeated, old dream.

This doesn't mean that Rhaegar was totally blameless for Lyanna's disappearance. I still don't think he purposely went out looking for her. I think her abduction was actually plotted by Cersei and Jaime. Cersei was aware of her father's plan to support Robert in the Rebellion and she was trying to prevent Lyanna from becoming Queen. This is paralleled later as an inversion when Arianne tried to crown Myrcella. Lyanna's betrothal to Robert was the North's promise to back Robert's claim for the throne. Myrcella's betrothal to Trystane was an alliance between the crown and Dorne. 

Lyanna and Ashara's escapes from Kings Landing mirror Arya and Sansa. Arya escaped Kings Landing dressed as a boy with a man of the Nights Watch. Sansa escaped Kings Landing with the help of a father figure and Bael figure: Petyr Baelish. Here's our clue that Lyanna was helped by a Bael figure too: Rhaegar. Rhaegar played Bael by helping Lyanna escape Kings Landing by dressing as a man of the Nights Watch and Lyanna as a boy. He may even have been accompanied by one or more of his Kingsguard, also in disguise. Recall that Sandor Clegane once offered to help Sansa escape, but she declined. Sandor's complete inversion was Arthur Dayne, who likely would have helped Rhaegar if it would have helped Ashara escape Dodge as well. Their travels through he Riverlands would be similar to Arya and Sandor, but with Sansa instead of separate. I suspect Lyanna, Ashara, and Arthur left together and reached Ned in the Vale, however because of the sour and bitter lemons, lemon water, and piss, I suspect Arthur Dayne (or maybe Gerold Hightower) is at fault for Lyanna's mortal wound similar to Myrcella's wound by Gerald Dayne aka Darkstar. Lyanna's trip to Winterfell was concealed in the Fisherman's daughter's tale. Maester Walys was the fisherman, and a pregnant Lyanna made it as far as White Harbor before succumbing to her mortified wounds. The Manderly's provided Wylla the wet nurse to accompany Ned home to Winterfell before he left for Riverrun to marry Catelyn.

Lyanna was like the sacrificed horse in Mirri's tent when she slit it's throat to resurrect Drogo, but Lyanna was already mortally wounded before Rhaegar died, so she was not at the tower of joy. So who was there? Recall that Daenerys was pregnant and her unborn Rhaego provided the child sacrifice needed to make the magic work. I suspect that Rhaella and Ashara traded places, and that Rhaella was at the tower of joy, and it was her child that was sacrificed for Rhaegar. Ashara is Daenerys mother, and this is why Viserys called her "sweet sister", because he knew they didn't share the same mother. Aerys raped Ashara, and it was Ashara that Jaime saw when he thought he saw Rhaella leave Kings Landing with Viserys.

Edited to add: since I am a believer in the inversions the tale of Bael’s death by his son needs to be reversed. Bael needs to kill his son, and that’s what Mance basically does by writing the Pink Letter.

Sorry - sorry - I'm going way outside this thread, but I thought I had to explain where my ideas where coming from.

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On 7/9/2018 at 11:17 PM, Feather Crystal said:

There is also the connection between lemons and pissing, and pissing’s connection to soiling.

Ser Arthur Dayne was said to be so formidable with a sword that he could fight equally well while taking a piss with his other hand.

Darkstar drank lemon water, then took a piss, and lastly stood with one foot upon the head of a statue of the Maiden while talking to Arianne.

Lem Lemoncloak’s cloak is so dingy a woman jested that he’s a Kingsguard in disguise, implying he pissed or soiled his cloak. 

I love any and all insight into lemons, so this is excellent. I hadn't noticed that Darkstar is one of the people who drinks lemon water. I bet it would be worth studying all of the people who drink lemon in some form to see whether it is a prelude to something - waging battle? personal transformation?

Lemons appear several times as something out of reach that is yearned for. Sansa seems to get them often, but Lem and Dany just wish for them. When I as working on the color analysis, I realized that GRRM made some deliberate allusions in the story to the "Over the Rainbow" song from The Wizard of Oz movie. As I think about Sansa having lots of lemon cakes and Dany wishing for her lemon tree, it occurs to me that Sansa could be the happy little blue bird that flies above the rainbow (she is above the stone, snow and sky waycastles when she is at the Eyrie - above the rainbow - she wears blue, and she is The Hound's little bird). Dany wants to be way up high, and she gets her wish when she becomes a dragon rider. "Where troubles melt like lemon drops away above the chimney tops . . . "

It seems as if Tyrion does a lot of pissing, so it's interesting the he is married to Sansa who loves lemons so much. It's also interesting that Lem Lemoncloak takes the Hound's helmet and "becomes" The Hound in the scene where the BwB hangs Brienne. So he unites these things that are important to Sansa: lemons, cloaks (she has saved The Hound's bloody cloak and has received cloaks from Tyrion and Littlefinger) and The Hound. If Lem is truly the Knight of Skulls and Kisses, Richard Lonmouth, that may come back to Sansa as well: I believe kisses and skulls are both mentioned in relation to Sansa during Joffrey's wedding feast as Tyrion thinks about kissing her and as Ser Ilyn draws his silver sword with a death's head pommel and Sansa realizes that Ser Ilyn is not carrying her father's sword, Ice. Why would Lem Lemoncloak represent the unification of so many symbols associated with Sansa?

On 7/10/2018 at 9:17 AM, Feather Crystal said:

The tourney was a rouse much like Ashford was. Ashford was to draw support for the rebel Blackfyres, while Harrenhal was to draw support for Rhaegar to overthrow his father, Aerys. Is it any wonder that Aerion Brightflame connotes Aerys plan to burn Kings Landing before even considering surrender? Aerys believed, like some Targaryens before him, that he would rise from the ashes as a dragon - another connection to Ashford.

I think you're jumping ahead to the tourney at Whitewalls, where the second Blackfyre rebellion took place. That tourney is in The Mystery Knight and we're still on the tourney at Ashford Meadow in The Hedge Knight. I do see a microcosm of the fight for the Iron Throne in both Ashford Meadow and Whitewalls, but Ashford doesn't have the overt Blackfyre plot.

Having said that, there is clearly a different internal Targ rivalry shown in the Ashford Meadow plot, with Aerion Brightflame and Egg/Aegon V wishing each other ill. And I think your point is that the fate of Aerion Brightflame is foreshadowed in his defeat in the Trial of Seven. That defeat of Aerion probably also alludes to Ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail, as Dunk uses the dragon-embellished shield to beat Aerion into submission: the dragon defeats itself; the defensive shield becomes the offensive weapon. (I don't see an "inversion," necessarily, but a more literal dragon-eating-dragon attack. I realize your point about the ouroboros is a little different.)

On 7/10/2018 at 1:48 PM, Feather Crystal said:

I hope I'm not getting ahead of your analysis.

The dream about Chestnut dying in Dorne occurs in the second story, The Sworn Sword, so I haven't gotten to that yet. I agree that it will be important to look at the way the dream differs from the waking reality. This could give us some important insights into GRRM's concept of the unreliable narrator and ways that events are manipulated for literary reasons.

I realize you are working out some things in, as you say, stream of consciousness but a good bit of your thinking departs quite a ways from The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms focus I'm going for in this thread. I would encourage you to open a new thread, though, with your ideas about parallels between Bael and Mance or Dunk and Ned. When you do open those threads, it's always good if you can cite specific passages from the books that support your thinking.

On 7/10/2018 at 1:48 PM, Feather Crystal said:

...Ned failed, because while he thought he honored the old gods, he didn't really believe in them, nor did he ever ask for their help, because he believed the Children were dead and gone 8000 years ago. That is why he failed. He had honor, but he didn't request or receive help from the Children. Dunk, on the other hand, drew on his Flea Bottom upbringing - aka, he tapped into the powers of the old gods and the Children and they helped him...

Actually, The Hedge Knight is very specific that Dunk does not know how to pray and that he has no religion. Off topic again, but I do think Ned's faith in the Old Gods is sincere. The "faith" that Dunk does show in this story is embodied in his "prayer" asking oak and iron (his shield) to guard him, in my opinion.

On 7/10/2018 at 1:48 PM, Feather Crystal said:

It has been suggested that the Knight of the Laughing Tree is a story of what can be accomplished when one human consents to having another human skin change into them. It's not an abomination if the host gives consent. Some Pig/Pretty Pig asserts that Lyanna skin changed into the horse that the KofLT rode.

Fascinating! The idea of skinchanging the horse could explain a number of situations and events in the series. The relationships of horse and rider and descriptions of horses in The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms will, I hope, shed a lot of light on horse and stable boy symbolism.

Very nice catch, too, on the blue forget me not flowers and the knight slender as a reed. I'll have to reexamine those jousting matches now, as this explanation of the KotLT is at odds with the last explanation I thought likely. Sigh! Luckily, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

On 7/10/2018 at 1:48 PM, Feather Crystal said:

This passage makes me think of the story of Bael the Bard and how he's killed by his son - who doesn't realize that the man he just killed was his father.

Too far off topic again, but I'll just say that I think Jon already killed one of his fathers: Rattleshirt was a symbolic Ned and Jon had him shot with arrows to end his suffering in Melisandre's flames. Of course, Jon believed that Rattleshirt was Mance who, as you point out, is a symbolic Rhaegar. I'm not sure of your idea that Mance is a literal Rhaegar but that would be a topic for another thread.

On 7/10/2018 at 4:33 PM, Feather Crystal said:

...my mind is running a mile a minute making additional connections between Dunk's stories and the Bael(or)/Rhaegar twist. 


Sorry - sorry - I'm going way outside this thread, but I thought I had to explain where my ideas where coming from.

It's fun, isn't it, when your mind starts running a mile a minute and makes new connections. It will be great to see your own thread with some of these ideas that diverge so far from The Knight of the Seven Kingdoms focus of this thread.

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1 hour ago, Seams said:

It's also interesting that Lem Lemoncloak takes the Hound's helmet and "becomes" The Hound in the scene where the BwB hangs Brienne.

I am thinking that this is supposed to be an echo of the past, and a clue to help us identify who Lem Lemoncloak really is.

IMO Arya retraced Lyanna's path when she escaped Kings Landing. First with Yoren - a man of the Nights Watch, secondly abducted by the Brotherhood Without Banners, and lastly with Sandor Clegane.

I theorize Lyanna's flight was quite similar, but either a little out of order, or completely in reverse. This is where Lem Lemoncloak's pissing and soiled white cloak enter the equation, as well as the connection to the Brotherhood Without Banners. He's wearing the Hound's helmet so that we make the connection, not just to Sandor Clegane who was with Arya, but to the man that was with Lyanna in the past: Ser Arthur Dayne. Arthur was supposed to be the finest knight, but he may have been more like how Sandor views knights. I think Lem Lemoncloak is Arthur Dayne. What I haven't sorted out yet is what Brienne's hanging is supposed to mean with regards to the past. 

The Brotherhood Without Banners is an echo of the Kingswood Brotherhood, which was an outlaw group that kidnapped nobles and held them for ransom. It's a theory of mine that Kevan Lannister, Cersei, Jaime, Sumner Crakehall, and Merrett Frey, along with Robert Baratheon as the Smiling Knight, were the true identities behind the Kingswood Brotherhood, and that they were involved with abducting Lyanna. They dressed Robert in armor that looked like Rhaegar's so that he would take the blame. Jaime recalls the Smiling Knight as being the "Mountain of his boyhood. Half as big, but twice as mad." There was a time when Robert could have easily fit that description - not just the physical size of him, which Ned described as a maiden's dream, but his charismatic nature, smiling and laughing with friends and enemies alike.

One of the reasons I suspect Mance is Rhaegar is because it would parallel the first segment of Arya's escape with a man of the Nights Watch. 


1 hour ago, Seams said:

Why would Lem Lemoncloak represent the unification of so many symbols associated with Sansa?

I think GRRM meant for Ashara and Lyanna to seem sister-like in the stories. If Arya is retracing and mirroring Lyanna, then Sansa is retracing and mirroring Ashara. I've already went into great detail above to explain why I think Lem Lemoncloak is Arthur, so if he is Arthur, then it makes sense that he's unifying the symbolism associated with Sansa. Arthur is Ashara's brother. Sandor had feelings for Sansa, whom he called a little bird. Arthur is presented as Sandor's complete opposite, but I suspect they are more alike than outward appearance and reputations would suggest.


1 hour ago, Seams said:

That defeat of Aerion probably also alludes to Ouroboros, the snake eating its own tail, as Dunk uses the dragon-embellished shield to beat Aerion into submission: the dragon defeats itself; the defensive shield becomes the offensive weapon.

I really like this! Especially since I suspect the "defensive shield" that becomes an offensive weapon is in reference to the Wall. The warding on the Wall holding water magic prisoner is unraveling. Maybe it was unravelled on purpose in order to use it as a weapon? 

I haven't read through this thread in its entirety yet, so I apologize for jumping ahead. If I seem to be wandering outside the scope of this thread its because I'm trying to provide some background information to support my positions.

Edited by Feather Crystal
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On 5/30/2018 at 5:36 PM, Seams said:

... I wasted my last stag on supper. Suckling pig in plum sauce, stuffed with chestnuts and white truffles. A man must eat.

Is this a symbolic reference to Joffrey's death? There is an informal use of the word "wasted" that means to murder or kill. A "wasted stag" could mean a murdered Baratheon. But Joffrey was young and, in ASOIAF, boars are often present at the death of kings so the next sentence refers to a suckling pig. The plum sauce is (maybe? probably?) a hint about our Maynard Plumm / Plummer / plum motif that seems to tell us Bloodraven is nearby. Not sure about the chestnuts but the word seems to describe horse color more often than food - I have long thought it was significant that no one gave Joffrey a horse for a groom's gift although he received a saddle, riding boots and a tournament pavilion. Mushrooms (truffles) may be associated with poison and with Tyrion. There is a lot of suspicion in this forum that Lady Olenna Tyrell masterminded a Tyrell murder scheme that caused Joffrey's death. Leo's "confession" to wasting a stag might confirm that the Tyrells were indeed behind the mysterious death of the young Baratheon king.

One of Dunk's horses was named Chestnut, and the way he dreams that he cried over the horse's death is a connection to Ned's grief over Lyanna. "Chestnut" also is associated with telling an old story or venerable old joke, as in "that old chestnut". Anything trite, stale, or told too often, which in turn should make us very suspect of the "official" story of how we think she was kidnapped or died.

The phrasing of "a man must eat" also sounds like Jaqen H'ghar.

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On 5/30/2018 at 5:36 PM, Seams said:

I feel as if I'm picking up breadcrumbs the author has left for us, but I admit that I am confused. Leo Longthorn is associated with Bloodraven because he participates in a tournament where Bloodraven (in the guise of Plummer) is the Master of the Games. Lazy Leo is associated with Bloodraven because he seems to embody the man in details of his appearance and in his interest in Daenerys and dragons. Both Leos engage in symbolic activities - a tournament and a meal - that may describe game-of-thrones-related actions affecting the Iron Throne. Is the Leo we see in the prologue the Alchemist? Is he Bloodraven? Is he a faceless man? All three? None of the above?

Maybe its more that Bloodraven is more skilled as a greenseer than we think. I think many readers wonder what the point is to be a greenseer if you cannot manipulate the past nor communicate with the present, but if time is a wheel and history repeats itself, then by manipulation of the wheel and who the events happen to, you can affect the future. Bloodraven is like a faceless man in this regard, the wizard behind the curtain. Using his historical knowledge of Ashford and using the wheel to tweak events at Harrenhal to affect a future outcome, would really make him the Master of Games. Leo doesn't have to literally be Bloodraven for us to understand that the symbolism applies to Bloodraven. 

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2 hours ago, Seams said:

I love any and all insight into lemons, so this is excellent. I hadn't noticed that Darkstar is one of the people who drinks lemon water. I bet it would be worth studying all of the people who drink lemon in some form to see whether it is a prelude to something - waging battle? personal transformation?

When we see lemons, things don't usually end well... In Sansa I, Game 15, she was looking forward to lemon cakes in the queen's wheelhouse, but her day ended with her prince's loathing and contempt. Samwell's early childhood went from snitching lemon cakes to contempt, abuse, and banishment by his father. In Sansa II, Game 29, Sansa went from enjoying lemon cakes with Joffrey at the feast following the first day of jousting to being escorted back to her cell by the Hound. In Sansa III, Game 44, Sansa and Jeyne (poor Jeyne) looked for lemon cakes in the kitchen, but at the end of the chapter learned that her father was sending her back to Winterfell. Sansa shared lemon cakes with the Tyrells before being forced to wed the imp. On the morning Sansa was forced to marry the imp, along with the new gown, Cersei sent her favorite scents for Sansa's use too. Of course, "Sansa chose a sharp sweet fragrance with a hint of lemon in it under the smell of flowers." 

In Winds,


Lord Nestor’s cooks prepare a lemon cake in the shape of the Giant’s Lance, twelve feet tall and adorned with an Eyrie made of sugar, all for Alayne. "The cake had required every lemon in the Vale, but Petyr had promised that he would send to Dorne for more." 

Run, Sansa! Run! 

Before donning the ugly little girl's face, the kindly man gave a girl a drink so tart it was like biting into lemon. That made "no one" think of Arya's sister, and Sansa's fondness for lemon cakes. In Arya V, Game 65, Arya offered to trade a fat pigeon for a lemon, but ended up at her father's execution.

Jeor Mormont drank lemon in his beer every day. He still had his own teeth but his men mutinied and murdered him.

At Bitterbridge, Renly's bannermen feasted on lemon cakes. Of course, Renly's campaign ened shortly thereafter.

As Davos sailed with Stannis's fleet into Blackwater Bay, he observed Aegon's High Hill, dark against a lemon sky. That's an odd description for a sky, no? As Davos turned downstream, the mouth of the Blackwater Rush had turned into the mouth of hell.

At Edmure's wedding feast Catelyn noted that Ryman Frey had bathed in lemon water but failed to mask his sour sweat, and that Roose smelled sweeter but no more pleasant. The Feast did not end on a happy note.

At Joffrey's wedding feast Tyrion had a slice of pigeon pie covered with a spoon of lemon cream. A few paragraphs later Tyrion stood accused of regicide. That was the last of 18 dishes served to Joffrey just before he choked.

On the night Daenerys was sold to the savage she smelled sweet lemon among other eastern scents. 

Cersei drank lemon water so tart she had to spit it out the morning she learned that Tyrion had murdered their father. When Cersei entered Maggy the Frog's tent, one of the eastern scents she smelled was lemongrass. Before the night was done Cersei would learn that Melara had a crush on Jaime, and Melara would die at the bottom of a well. 

Lem Lemoncloak just reeks of bitterness and disappointment, doesn't he?

Doran's Water Gardens smell of lemons and blood oranges. Anybody think Dorne is going end up happy with their blood and fire?

In The Queenmaker, Arianne noticed that Darkstar preferred lemon water to summer wine, and she served lemonsweet to Myrcella before Darkstar cut off Myrcella's ear amidst lemon orchards watered by a spider's web of old canals.

Arianne’s first meal while locked in the tower included kid roasted with lemon. And the soup at the feast to welcome Gregor's head was made with eggs and lemons. 

Stannis enjoys boiled eggs and lemon water for breakfast, and, well, I think we all know his end will be bitter and disappointing. In Jon IV, Dance 17, Stannis offers lemon water to Jon. Wisely, Jon refuses. Stannis drinks more.

Just after Tyrion plants the notion of sailing to Westeros without Daenerys in the noble lad's head, the merry band aboard the Shy Maid enjoy a pike with lemon juice, and they learn that Daenerys hasn't left Meereen. Aegon fatefully decides to go west insteaed of east. Anybody think Aegon will win the dance?

Then Tyrion decides to go whoring after dinner, and meets his new buddy Jorah. Tyrion suspected Yezzan was drinking lemon water as the yellow whale bid on him and Penny. Tyrion served Nurse lemonsweet with the mushrooms from Illyrio's garden.The Green Grace accepted a goblet of sweeetened lemon juice from the Queen's hand, just before infected corpses started flying over the walls. Oh, and guess what kind of trees Daenerys has in her terrace garden in Meereen? 

And we see a lemon in one of the ancillary novellas... When Dunk has a personal feast, feeling what it means to be a knight for the first time at the beginning of The Hedge Knight, he dines on lamb and an even better duck cooked with cherries and lemons, and he quaff in it down with four tankards of a thick, nut brown ale. By the end of the novella, though, Prince Maekar had slain his brother, Baelor Breakspear, who died defending Dunk against Prince Aerion's accusations. 

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1 hour ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

When we see lemons, things don't usually end well...

Wow. Thanks for all that. That provides pretty clear indication for the bitter side of the bitter / sweet balancing act. I wonder what we would learn from a similar analysis of honey?

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1 hour ago, Seams said:

Wow. Thanks for all that. That provides pretty clear indication for the bitter side of the bitter / sweet balancing act. I wonder what we would learn from a similar analysis of honey?


11 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

That was quite an extensive and persuasive list of the bitterness of lemons!

It all relates back to the lemon tree that started in Tyrosh. 


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26 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

 First I must beg Seams indulgence before she thinks I'm veering off topic again, but I believe what I'm about to share is still relevant, because it still applies to the lemon symbolism.

I enjoyed your lemon-did-ya-poo-pants thread, and I'd like to offer you my explanation for the change from Tyrosh to Braavos: it has to do with the dragon eating its own tail inside out.

The George wanted Arya to gain the sword skills Lyanna lacked, and in order to do so she needed to go to Braavos to become a water dancer. But, because of the changing of places that took place between Lyanna and Ashara during their mirrored escapes from Kings Landing just like Arya and Sansa, he needed the destination to either be the same or a mirrored reflection of the place as where Ashara's child would go. Ashara's child? Isn't Daenerys the child of Aerys and Rhaella? Naaahhh. Me don't thinks so.

Either the George actually changed the location of the red door and the lemon tree from Tyrosh to Braavos, or it's a case of Braavos being a north to south reflection of Tyrosh. Not to be confusing, but Braavos is also an east to west reflection of Bear Island. Recall how Dany recalls Willem Darry's physical description as being hairy as an old bear like a Mormont, and how suspicious Jorah Mormont's selling of "poachers" seems. These are all effects from turning the ouroboros inside out. Recall Quaithe's instructions to Dany: 


“To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”


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