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Lost Melnibonean

The George [did not have] The Blackfyre subplot already in mind when he wrote Game

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52 minutes ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

He already had three eggs in the 1993 letter, didn't he? 

Nope. There Dany chanced just on one dragon (egg).

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1 hour ago, Lost Melnibonean said:
18 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Good to know, since he set up Aegon's return in AGoT.

I know what you're thinking. 

Aegon the Fortunate confirmed! 

It’s pretty clear the story evolved since the early days... but I honestly don’t know what you are talking about...

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2 hours ago, LiveFirstDieLater said:

Aegon the Fortunate confirmed! 

It’s pretty clear the story evolved since the early days... but I honestly don’t know what you are talking about...

Why should you? 

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1 hour ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Why should you? 

Understand what you are referencing in a series I’m overly familiar with on a forum for the purpose of discussing said series? 

Thankfully I don’t think I should, as I don’t think it exists... but I’ve been wrong before, so my apologies for the curiosity! 

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In so many interviews that I've lost count, George is asked about his writing style and he responds with the gardener vs. architect metaphor. He is a gardener. It should be a surprise to no one on these boards that Martin doesn't have it all planned out, or that he changes his story as he writes it and sees where it can go. The Blackfyres and the history of those rebellions surely are just one example of what he does. The richness of that part of the backstory is a tribute to his style working for him.

Don't feel cheated if you don't like the method of writing. Only if the end product isn't any good. So far George is doing just fine except in the speed department. Even there I want quality over speed every time.

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8 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

I agree that the plan all along was to have a fake Aegon (son of Rhaegar), but I disagree that AeGriff, Varys, and/or Illyrio need be descended from a bastard to explain why they didn't openly press a claim to the throne. We still know nothing about Maegor's life or any issue. But we know he was passed over as an infant, in part because of his father being Aerion, for a man who reigned for twenty-six years, and left an adult son, an adult grandson, and a baby great-grandson to follow him in smooth succession. There was no clear opening to press a claim, not until the most powerful lords in Westeros had had their fill of House Targaryen, at which point a descendant of Aerion wasn't likely to find an easy path to the throne.

I was more speaking from the point of view of a gestating/developing plot. Think about it - we are talking pre-Dunk & Egg here. And Dunk & Egg only came into being because Robert Silverberg asked George for a novella for an anthology.

George certainly could give Aerion's son some colorful back story explaining how this guy sunk so low that his children (and Varys/Illyrio, etc. would be his children due to Maegor's own age) had to come up with a convoluted mummer's farce to try to claim the throne rather than fight with an open visor.

I just don't think that would have been a very likely back story for them at this point.

I think the 'mummer's dragon' plot is more about the whole impostor pretender thing and less about the validity of the blood claim of Prince Aegon and his true parents.

That's that extra something, not the main point of the whole thing.

And one has also to keep in mind that the entire personality of Aegon V - as well as his youth and reign - were only mapped out in detail because George started to write Dunk & Egg. Without THK Varys/Illyrio's father could easily enough have been some bastard of Aegon the Unlikely (then nothing but a sketchy historical character), Maekar, Aerys I, or one of their brothers.

There could even have been some sort of proto-Blackfyre rebellion thing there - George playing with a variation of the 'bastards can be dangerous and try to steal the birthright of their trueborn children' theme, but there is no reason to believe that this would have to have happened always as early as during the reign of the Unworthy. It could have happened during the reign of some later king.

That it did not - that George decided to expand on (or create) that plot has everything to do with Dunk & Egg. The five Blackfyre rebellions are background and (presumably) main event in (future) Dunk & Egg stories. That's why they exist.

For the 'mummer's dragon' plot in ASoIaF a single disgruntled Targaryen bastard would have been enough.

I mean, the funny thing about the Blackfyre-Aegon connection there is that this is virtually non-existent. Nobody knows that he is the son of whoever he truly is, nor can this ever be publicly revealed if the lad wants to gain and keep his throne. And then the boy is also very deliberately a scion from a very obscure branch of the dragon family tree. 

Could be that the story grew more complex over time, of course. But it is also possible that George originally only went with a 'fake Targaryen pretender' story there, and only ended up making him some Targaryen descendant via this Blackfyre line when he realized he could kill two birds with one stone (as he did with the three-eyed crow being Bloodraven) by using those Blackfyres to tie Dunk & Egg and ASoIaF together.

8 hours ago, Bael's Bastard said:

The fourth rebellion attempt early in Egg's reign had no support in Westeros, and the fifth just after his death didn't even touch Westeros. But as weak as the later Blackfyre rebellions were, they at least had instances of support from some powerful secondary houses in Westeros, and the Golden Company. What support are the descendants of Aerion likely to have had, when only a few had spoken up for Aerion's son in the first place (and no indication of whether these were people who actually had armies to lend to his cause, or were people like maesters or septons pressing for rules of succession to be followed strictly), fifty years before Robert's Rebellion?

Prince Maegor was still an infant at the Great Council. But you speak with hindsight in mind. The Blackfyre rebellions as we know are a later development - they were invented after we learned about the Great Council of 233 AC in ACoK.

That they became (partially) pretty big affairs doesn't mean Prince Maegor couldn't have been a pretty big affair himself if he was supposed to stage some rebellion in George's earliest ideas of the guy (then being a possible gestation point for the Varys/Illyrio back story). Not to mention that he may have done just that later during Aegon V's reign.

My point about the Blackfyres being set up as losers is simply a reference to the narrative purpose they serve. They are losers who can no longer hope to win the throne they (or rather: their descendants) covet when fighting with an open visor. They have to hide their very identity behind lies and deceit.

Maybe a Prince Maegor would have suffered a similar fate. But I find that hard to swallow. There are much more hopeless wars and failed rebellions - not to mention generations - between Daemon Blackfyre and Prince Aegon than there would be between Prince Maegor and Prince Aegon. And that fact alone would give Aegon in such a scenario a much better claim then Prince Aegon (as per his speculated Blackfyre ancestry through the female line) could possibly have.

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9 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Nope. There Dany chanced just on one dragon (egg).

I just looked at the text and it says a cache of eggs but only one dragon hatches. 

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On 5/30/2018 at 1:42 AM, Lord Varys said:

George certainly could give Aerion's son some colorful back story explaining how this guy sunk so low that his children (and Varys/Illyrio, etc. would be his children due to Maegor's own age) had to come up with a convoluted mummer's farce to try to claim the throne rather than fight with an open visor.

Would it have to be all that convoluted? I mean, look at Jacobite succession, for instance - people with ostensibly stronger claim to the throne have been successfully denied their inheritance. As history of Aegon V's ascension is only briefly sketched in AGoT, Martin could have included a failed attempt by Prince Maegor to assert himself openly, if he chose to go in that direction later instead of inventing the Blackfyres, followed by the whole  cloak-and-dagger plot by the Spider and the Cheesmonger. What is more, their origins being obscure suggests that there would have been some twist there - like them being bastards or maybe offspring of some unwise/secret marriage, etc., which would have made their claim as  "fantasy" as the Blackfyre one turned out to be.

Also, let's not forget that the simple-minded daughter of Daeron the Drunken was passed over too, as per AGoT, so Illyrio, for instance, could have been her descendant instead. Varys, I feel, would have likely been unveiled as Maegor's son if GRRM had gone that way, and blaming Aegon V and his descendants for his fate. 

In any case, it was strongly hinted in AGoT that Varys wasn't truly loyal to Targaryens and, of course, we have seen him actively working to destroy Baratheon dynasty with Illyrio's help, so he must have had some other plan for succession during the Rebellion - that was derailed by Robert's too decisive victory, perhaps? Or something else, like his then-candidate unexpectedly dying? Maybe there would have been an(other?) open-visor attempt, if not for that.

 

On 5/30/2018 at 1:42 AM, Lord Varys said:

For the 'mummer's dragon' plot in ASoIaF a single disgruntled Targaryen bastard would have been enough.

 

Not quite - Varys and Illyrio still needed believable motivations for their multi-decade complex plot that had very low odds of succeeding. IMHO, only a burning sense of injustice and desire for revenge could have plausibly served to push these 2 seemingly rational and canny people into pursuing something so hopeless for so long. So, they had to have strong personal connection to the matter - a random Targaryen bastard or other impostor wouldn't have served to make their story work.

 

On 5/30/2018 at 1:42 AM, Lord Varys said:

Maybe a Prince Maegor would have suffered a similar fate. But I find that hard to swallow. There are much more hopeless wars and failed rebellions - not to mention generations - between Daemon Blackfyre and Prince Aegon than there would be between Prince Maegor and Prince Aegon. And that fact alone would give Aegon in such a scenario a much better claim then Prince Aegon (as per his speculated Blackfyre ancestry through the female line) could possibly have.

Not really - since AGoT makes it clear that if any descendants of Maegor/Vaella (not mentioned by names in that book, of course) were still around, they were not in the open and not an on-going concern to the current establishment. Which means that they would have had the same difficulties with proving their identities as "Aegon" does.

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The history of actual false pretenders to thrones suggests to me that you don't actually need a sense of injustice or vengeance whatsoever. All you really need is an opportunity, a belief that things would be much better if they were in your hands,  and a person you can pass off as a claimant. I don't think Richard Simon has ever been established as having had some deep motive of revenge, for example, in his educating Lambert Simnel to claim the crown as the alleged Earl of Warwick. And in more recent history, I don't think William Walker's multiple military adventures to try and make himself head of a nation had much to do with anything but ego and greed.

Edited by Ran

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11 hours ago, Ran said:

The history of actual false pretenders to thrones suggests to me that you don't actually need a sense of injustice or vengeance whatsoever. All you really need is an opportunity, a belief that things would be much better if they were in your hands,  and a person you can pass off as a claimant. I don't think Richard Simon has ever been established as having had some deep motive of revenge, for example, in his educating Lambert Simnel to claim the crown as the alleged Earl of Warwick. And in more recent history, I don't think William Walker's multiple military adventures to try and make himself head of a nation had much to do with anything but ego and greed.

But for Illyrio and Varys go after westeros in an active manner like that of all other places they could, they could go for any place more familiar in essos, try to remove the establishment, create havoc, propose a new style of governement with a token ruler in any place i guess...

There could be a background a motivation, a history, at least i think it would be cooler and more Martin i guess. Westeros has a unique type of rule sets compared to a lot of Essos places, but just that don't seems enough.

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9 hours ago, Chancho said:

But for Illyrio and Varys go after westeros in an active manner like that of all other places they could, they could go for any place more familiar in essos, try to remove the establishment, create havoc, propose a new style of governement with a token ruler in any place i guess...

Much of the rest of Essos uses very different, often more robust, means of governance. Westeros is "barbaric", and yet it is absolutely enormous and wealthy. Taking over Westeros is kind of like taking down.... I don't know, 19th century India, maybe. They may seem inefficient and "barbaric" to outsiders, but the vast wealth and power that someone could get from managing to take over makes all kinds of things worth it if you want it.

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There could be a background a motivation, a history, at least i think it would be cooler and more Martin i guess. Westeros has a unique type of rule sets compared to a lot of Essos places, but just that don't seems enough.

A unique rule set and a unique size. Westeros is huge. Taking over Westeros may be as risky as trying to take over any other place, but the person who takes over Westeros ends up having power far greater than any single Free City, any stray kingdom outside of perhaps Yi-Ti, etc.

Edited by Ran

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@Ran, Most, if not all, of us only learned of the Blacks and the Greens in the Dance of the Dragons, when we learned the full title of the novella The Princess and the Queen. 

Was there any indication that Martin had settled on those two colors to represent the two factions when Game, Clash and Storm were being written? 

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2 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

@Ran, Most, if not all, of us only learned of the Blacks and the Greens in the Dance of the Dragons, when we learned the full title of the novella The Princess and the Queen. 

Was there any indication that Martin had settled on those two colors to represent the two factions when Game, Clash and Storm were being written? 

That was all invented when George wrote the material for TWoIaF.

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21 minutes ago, Ran said:

That was all invented when George wrote the material for TWoIaF.

Hmm...

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On 5/31/2018 at 12:41 PM, Maia said:

Would it have to be all that convoluted? I mean, look at Jacobite succession, for instance - people with ostensibly stronger claim to the throne have been successfully denied their inheritance. As history of Aegon V's ascension is only briefly sketched in AGoT, Martin could have included a failed attempt by Prince Maegor to assert himself openly, if he chose to go in that direction later instead of inventing the Blackfyres, followed by the whole  cloak-and-dagger plot by the Spider and the Cheesmonger. What is more, their origins being obscure suggests that there would have been some twist there - like them being bastards or maybe offspring of some unwise/secret marriage, etc., which would have made their claim as  "fantasy" as the Blackfyre one turned out to be.

While this makes sense, the Blackfyre back story (pretty much a dead claim) makes the Aegon impostor story much more compelling - especially if we assume his descent from Daemon Blackfyre is as obscure as it seems to be right now.

The issue with the lad being a descendant of the elder male branch of House Targaryen through a rather recent branching in the family tree still gives him a very strong claim (as Maegor's grandson Aegon would only be two generations away from royalty) - and that in and of itself would give a very strong claim in the wake of the deposition of the Targaryen branch of the Mad King and the ridiculous excuse for a royal dynasty that is House Baratheon.

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Also, let's not forget that the simple-minded daughter of Daeron the Drunken was passed over too, as per AGoT, so Illyrio, for instance, could have been her descendant instead. Varys, I feel, would have likely been unveiled as Maegor's son if GRRM had gone that way, and blaming Aegon V and his descendants for his fate. 

I honestly think it is much more likely that Varys was born out of wedlock. There is no need for us to assume that the eunuch was ever conceived as a prince or trueborn descendant of a prince, be it a Targaryen or Blackfyre. The blood doesn't care whether you are trueborn or not.

And in an impostor scheme it wouldn't have been necessary for the guy who isn't Aegon's father to be of royal blood at all. Varys could have started as nothing but a subversion of the cliché of the craven, effeminate eunuch.

Illyrio would be (and still is) the guy who should have some dragon blood.

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In any case, it was strongly hinted in AGoT that Varys wasn't truly loyal to Targaryens and, of course, we have seen him actively working to destroy Baratheon dynasty with Illyrio's help, so he must have had some other plan for succession during the Rebellion - that was derailed by Robert's too decisive victory, perhaps? Or something else, like his then-candidate unexpectedly dying? Maybe there would have been an(other?) open-visor attempt, if not for that.

The fact that Illyrio Mopatis didn't show up as a Blackfyre pretender during Robert's Rebellion, pushing his own claim and coming to Robert's aid in the Stormlands with the Golden Company is the best hint we have that Varys/Illyrio had no plan to supplant the Targaryens back then.

They would have known that things would explode months before it happened, so they could have made plans.

But in the Blackfyre scenario an 'open visor attempt' simply doesn't make any sense. The Blackfyres are dead and done. But we would have to ask that question if Varys/Illyrio actually had turned out to be Prince Maegor's sons (or at least one of them a son of Maegor's).

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Not really - since AGoT makes it clear that if any descendants of Maegor/Vaella (not mentioned by names in that book, of course) were still around, they were not in the open and not an on-going concern to the current establishment. Which means that they would have had the same difficulties with proving their identities as "Aegon" does.

That would only be the case if the people in the story were as ignorant of their existence as we happen to be - another point I find hard to swallow.

Aegon V wouldn't lose track of little nephew Maegor and his better claim, nor of Maegor's children. Vice versa, Jaehaerys I is not likely to misplace his nieces Aerea and Rhaella in FaB (assuming the book covers their story in detail). In that sense, I doubt that Varys/Illyrio could be as obscure people as they are in ASoIaF if they were truly trueborn children of a king.

Illegitimate offspring could go under the radar, of course.

On 5/31/2018 at 1:32 PM, Ran said:

The history of actual false pretenders to thrones suggests to me that you don't actually need a sense of injustice or vengeance whatsoever. All you really need is an opportunity, a belief that things would be much better if they were in your hands,  and a person you can pass off as a claimant. I don't think Richard Simon has ever been established as having had some deep motive of revenge, for example, in his educating Lambert Simnel to claim the crown as the alleged Earl of Warwick. And in more recent history, I don't think William Walker's multiple military adventures to try and make himself head of a nation had much to do with anything but ego and greed.

Oh, I would say most of those impostors (and the people directing them) were gamblers who only aimed at making a (good) living out of their scheme. Very few of them would have truly hoped to win the throne they were pretending to - although that happened, too.

I think we see that sort of man in Ser Perkin the Flea during the Dance - and may eventually see their likes again, should we ever get the detailed histories of the men pretending to be Daeron the Daring.

Varys/Illyrio seem different in the sense that Illyrio actually seems to have turned into a glutton over the grief that caused the loss of Serra (and possibly also the departure of Aegon) - that is a steep price to pay for ambition whose rewards you are not likely going to reap in your lifetime.

And Varys puts up with the ugly business of serving people who all would gladly see him dead for decades. He could enjoy his life - instead he tries to create a king who is going to bring peace, stability, and prosperity to a land that is (apparently) not his own. That is an odd hobby for a foreigner. Why doesn't Varys try to set Lys to rights? Or Myr or Pentos? Why bother with Westeros?

The wealth Varys and Illyrio already control should be enough - in combination with Varys' skills and the prowess of the Golden Company - to take over the Free Cities (or at least a significant portion of them). Aren't there children there, too?

If Varys has a personal connection to Westeros (and better still: its ruling dynasty) then it might make sense that he feels more responsible for the people there than for the people of Essos.

8 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

@Ran, Most, if not all, of us only learned of the Blacks and the Greens in the Dance of the Dragons, when we learned the full title of the novella The Princess and the Queen. 

Was there any indication that Martin had settled on those two colors to represent the two factions when Game, Clash and Storm were being written? 

It could just as well have been the Reds and the Golden (after the dragons the two pretenders used during the Dance). And it might yet be the Reds and the Blacks if we ever get to a detailed history of the First Blackfyre Rebellion.

@Ran:

Did you guys get any notes about the Dance prior to the work for TWoIaF? Aside from what George gave Amok for the Rhaenyra portrait (which gives the impression that he had little more than a preliminary family tree at this point).

I recall you guys originally made up background material for the Dance for the MUSH, so you likely didn't have all that much about that back then, no?

If we talk thematic stuff here I speculate a little more on the gestation of themes here:

If we assume George knew what Jon was pretty much around the same time he created him (what, not exactly who, though) then I could see that Targaryen incest entered the game not only as curious background detail to add color to the story (which it was until the Targaryen history became part of novellas and books) but rather a means as to how the eventual avuncular marriage between 'Jon Snow' and Daenerys Targaryen can be sold to the reader in a proper manner.

The Jon-Dany thing must have been there very early on in the story. They were always too sides of the same coin.

From the text of 'The Blood of the Dragon' we have it that Visenya was originally *not married* to Aegon the Conqueror, making Aegon's polygamy an even later addition to overall story. If that's true then Visenya-Aegon-Rhaenys may have become only a thing when 'the dragon has three heads' also became a thing in the plan for the series - which means around the time the decision was made to give Daenerys three dragons rather than just one.

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My recollection was that Varys made a lot of enemies in Essos (Illyrio fell out of political favor due to his second marriage). Varys' position as Master of Whispers also gives him a powerful position in Westeros.

What I find most interesting about Varys is that he stayed on the Small Council even after the Trident and advised the Mad King against opening the gates to Tywin (in contrast to Pycelle). Did Varys think he was at greater risk of being executed? Even if the gates were shut to Tywin, the loyalists were beaten and badly outnumbered by rebel forces, so perhaps a siege just would have given him more time to escape. Many have speculated that he knew about the wildfire plot, but he didn't seem to be taking any measures against it. But I've got enough questions about that in another thread.

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Varys seems to try to keep the worst ruler possible, maybe at the time he tought Aerys was the worst, a instable realm until his coup is ripe, i don't know...

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I have a new Blackfyre theory du jour that would have to have been in some proto-Blackfyre form while GRRM was writing AGoT. Can I test it here?

Above the hearth hung a broken longsword and a battered oaken shield, its paint cracked and flaking.

The device painted on the shield was one Sansa did not know; a grey stone head with fiery eyes, upon a light green field. "My grandfather's shield," Petyr explained when he saw her gazing at it. "His own father was born in Braavos and came to the Vale as a sellsword in the hire of Lord Corbray, so my grandfather took the head of the Titan as his sigil when he was knighted."

(ASoS, Sansa VI)

Are there Blackfyre hints in Littlefinger's arc?

The sword above the hearth could be a black fire hint - hearths turn black from soot. Could the sword be the ancestral Targaryen blade Blackfyre?

The giant's head on the shield isn't gold, but it does seem to echo the Maelys the Monstrous story, with the giant "skull" being brought back to Westeros. I'm guessing that Maelys and Baelish might be descended from two different sons of Daemon or of Bittersteel.

Sansa doesn't give us much detail, but the sword could be Chekhov's gun: if the sword is broken to the point that part of the blade has snapped off, the dagger (with dragonbone handle) that the catspaw brought to Bran's bedchamber might have been made with Valyrian steel from this sword.

If the catspaw was sent by a Blackfyre descendant, the motive for attacking Bran might have been the knowledge that Bran was important to Bloodraven; someone Bloodraven needed to sustain the status quo in Westeros. Bittersteel's descendants would want to undermine Bloodraven as much as they would want to take the Iron Throne. (Maybe one goal is necessary to achieve the other.)

Even if the catspaw's dagger was not forged from a broken blade of Blackfyre, it had the dragonbone handle and it belonged to Petyr Baelish at some point. He could have sent the catspaw.

Another "black fire" hint in Littlefinger's immediate vicinity: the Kettleblacks work for him. More soot symbolism. Someone pointed out in a recent thread that GRRM invented and used a Westeros-specific saying about the crow calling the raven black; the familiar English idiom is "like the pot calling the kettle black." There may be a little hint here about Blackwood vs. Blackfyre.

Bloodraven sits in a weirwood throne in his cave beyond the Wall. Littlefinger has maneuvered himself into protector of the Vale, with the weirwood throne in the great hall at the Eyrie.

Littlefinger wears a plum doublet at two key points early in the story - while watching Joffrey shoot hares with a crossbow, he has a conversation with Tyrion about how one gets tired of one's own colors. Hares are associated with Daenerys and her "floppy ears," the attire she wears when she wants to look like a monarch. (The "floppy ears" phrase was suggested to her by Brown Ben Plumm.) Back in AGoT (Eddard XII), the plum doublet also appears in a meeting of Petyr with Ned Stark where Petyr notes that Ned is reading the book describing Westeros nobles and their children. I'm still working on the plum symbolism, but I think it might be connected with the violet eyes of the Targaryen / Valyrian descendants. (In the scene with Ned, Littlefinger is also on his way to dinner with Lady Stokeworth, who hopes to marry him to her daughter Lollys, who will be pregnant in the next book. The Stokeworths are linked to control of the Red Keep; plums and pregnancy are also linked.)

With Petyr's banking connections, I wouldn't be surprised if he also has backing from the Rogare family. Viserys II married a Rogare, so all of his descendants would have the same Rogare heritage. If the Rogare family sided with the Blackfyre faction (or whatever Targ branch Baelish is in), the broken sword above the hearth might be the missing Valyrian steel blade Truth. This would be wonderful literary irony as Baelish is teaching Sansa to lie as soon as she arrives at his keep, so a broken Truth would be particularly apt.

A lot of this detail came in the later books, but I can see where GRRM might have been setting up Petyr Baelish as a major antagonist at the beginning of the series.

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