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Cowboy Dan

Names of Legend: The Last Hero, the Pact, Brandon the Builder and the Speaker for the Dead

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In my recent Names of Legend post, I pointed out the similarities between Orson Scott Card's Ender Quartet and Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. This post expands upon these similarities with an eye for the language of the Children of the Forest/pequeninos.

Both Jon and Ender show initiative in wanting to speak with a species alien to themselves. From Tyrion, to the Free Folk, to the Others, Jon has shown a natural tendency toward understanding his enemies.
A Speaker for the Dead's profession revolves around the same understanding of people.

Quote

"I'll do everything I can," said the Speaker, "but first I have to know you, or how can I tell your story?"

-Ch. 14 "Renegades", Speaker for the Dead

"Can they talk?" asked Jon Snow...

"My lord father used to tell me that a man must know his enemies. We understand little of the wights and less about the Others. We need to learn."

-Jon VIII, ADWD

Ender seeks out the Pequeninos to seek aid in a manner akin to the Last Hero, without the whole being chased by ice demons thing. He also creates a treaty, similar to the Pact forged between First Men and Children.

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The harvesting of the trees soon brought the First Men into conflict with the children of the forest, however, and for hundreds and thousands of years they made war upon one another, until the First Men took the old gods of the children for their own and divided up the lands in the Pact sealed on the Isle of Faces amidst the great lake called the Gods Eye.

-The Stormlands: The Coming of the First Men, TWOIAF

Piggy law applied within the forest, and all humans who came into the forest were subject to it. Human law applied within the fence, and all piggies who came there were subject to human government. All the rest of the planet would be divided up later.

-Ch. 17 "The Wives", Speaker for the Dead

"Renegades. Those who have denied their own people, and claimed the enemy as their own."

-Ch. 14 "Renegades", Speaker for the Dead

We see both the similarities and differences between the two events. They both 'divide up' the lands between their two races and the humans take on the Children/pequeninos as their own kind. The First Men and Children combine their gods, serving only the Old Gods and taking on their enemy's beliefs as their own. The pequeninos and Lusitanians don't mix gods but treat their two species as a shared tribe facing the same problems.

Ender and his crew also play into Brandon the Builder, learning the language and behavior differences between humans and pequeninos. We see a couple of these peculiar language differences during key moments in ASOIAF.

Quote

"We humans," said the Speaker, "use tools of stone or metal to cut down trees, when we want to shape them..."

It took a moment for the Speaker's words to sink in. Then, suddenly, all the piggies were on their feet. They began running around, madly, purposelessly, sometimes bumping into each other or into trees or the log houses. Most of them were silent, but now and then one of them would wail, exactly as they had cried out a few minutes ago. It was eerie, the almost silent insanity of the piggies, as if they had suddenly lost control of their bodies. All the years of careful noncommunication, refraining from telling the piggies anything, and now Speaker breached that policy and the result was this madness.

-Ch. 14 "Renegades", Speaker for the Dead

Here we have a callback to the First Men and Children's fighting with the cutting down of trees. The reaction it provokes is unsettling but most importantly occurs during a high magic moment in the fighting pits of Meereen.

Quote

Another fell away, shaken loose by the beating of his wings. Below, she saw men whirling, wreathed in flame, hands up in the air as if caught in the throes of some mad dance.

-Daenerys X, ADWD

I've postulated before that the fighting pits and this "mad dance" is some sort of aberrant behavior of the magical godheads we witness in ASOIAF, controlling everyone during that moment. We see this idea shown directly by the piggies in their silent insanity, seemingly losing control of their own bodies. This same mechanism is evidenced by the buggers' hive queen and their control over their workers in a form of mind control. Returning to the language differences:

Quote

Leaf-eater cried out from the edge of the forest, a terrible keening cry, an unbearable grief. ...

"When I tell this story to the wives," said Human, "you'll hear grief so terrible that it will sound like the breaking of trees in a thunderstorm." ...

But behind them they could hear the voices of the wives, singing a terrible and cacophonous song...the sound of the wives' keening...

-Ch. 17 "The Wives", Speaker for the Dead

In a post a few months ago I identified the similarities between Waymar's encounter with the Others and the birthing of dragons. I pointed out the similarities between Waymar's and the Other's keening clash and Mirri Maz Duur's singing. Here we see the keening and the singing as one and the same.

The grief of the piggies is again indirectly tied to mind control in the ASOIAF text through the use of the Dragonbinder horn. The same horn Euron uses to sway the men of the Iron Islands at the Kingsmoot makes the same cacophonous cry.

Quote

It seemed as if the sound would never end. It was like some long scream. A thousand screams, all melted into one.

-Victarion I, ADWD

The last piece of 'language' I will touch on here is a cry of pain.

Quote

Mandachuva suddenly cried out, a hideous cry that Miro had never heard before, like an animal dying. "This is how we show pain," whispered Human.

-Ch. 14 "Renegades", Speaker for the Dead

Throughout ASOIAF there are a number of scenes using heavily symbolic language and certain actions or behaviors serving as signposts in the narrative scenery. Some of these signposts include laughter in battle, a weapon too cumbersome to wield, a character holding up a gauntlet or severed arm to an opponent, or as shown above: an animalistic cry.

Quote

The dragon descended on him, roaring, and all at once the poor beast was aflame, yet somehow he kept on running, screaming with every step, until Drogon landed on him and broke his back.

-Daenerys X, ADWD

During the Battle of Whispering Wood, Cat has a moment where she sees magic, blinks, and it's gone. As the fight commences we get:

Quote

She heard hoofbeats, iron boots splashing in shallow water, the woody sound of swords on oaken shields and the scrape of steel against steel, the hiss of arrows, the thunder of drums, the terrified screaming of a thousand horses.

-Catelyn X, AGOT

During the Battle of the Blackwater we see the pain of the trees.

Quote

She burst like an overripe fruit, but no fruit had ever screamed that shattering wooden scream. From inside her Davos saw green gushing from a thousand broken jars, poison from the entrails of a dying beast...

>-Davos II, ACOK

We keep seeing the same motif of this animalistic cry. Should the original intent hold true this is a sign of the Children's grief, specifically regarding the destructive nature of men towards their own and other species.

Quote

"The Andals burnt out the weirwood groves, hacked down the faces, slaughtered the children where they found them, and everywhere proclaimed the triumph of the Seven over the old gods. So the children fled north—"

Summer began to howl.

-Bran VII, AGOT

For a final piece of evidence on this language in ASOIAF, there is a threat to hang Ender so that he gets no third life. 'The third life' is the piggies' form of transformation into their next life as a tree.
This ties in with Bloodraven's promise to Bran of 'the second life' in the weirwood consciousness. Lastly, let's look at a quote tying together hanging and the breaking of a tree in a thunderstorm.

Quote

They came upon the first corpse a mile from the crossroads. He swung beneath the limb of a dead tree whose blackened trunk still bore the scars of the lightning that had killed it.

-Brienne VII, AFFC

We see the invoking of a tree killed by lightning and a hanging. This could be interpreted as the Children's anger at the destruction of their trees, the 'breaking of trees in a thunderstorm', thus lashing out and denying someone
the next life. But this is the difficulty of looking across these works and transplanting ideas. They are always cut up and mixed around in a mythological re-purposing/re-telling of story beats. Using Martin's song motif we could refer to these changes to the same core melody as variations on a narrative theme.

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On 2/24/2019 at 12:21 AM, Cowboy Dan said:

In my recent Names of Legend post, I pointed out the similarities between Orson Scott Card's Ender Quartet and Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.... <snip>

It wouldn't surprise me if the link was genuine. I've had that feeling before, that SF authors were inspired by each other's stories. GRRM wrote about space ships with a living mind. So did Anne McCaffrey. So did Julian May, who also wrote about souls trapped in crystal. As did GRRM. It's like stories seeding new stories, a very creative process, and probably the differences build up quickly until it's hard to tell which idea came from where.

btw, I saw the second half of Ender's Game on tv last night. Don't think I'm the target audience for this story, but I stayed on for the visual stuff, which was impressive. Should I read the book?

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On 2/26/2019 at 1:58 PM, Springwatch said:

It wouldn't surprise me if the link was genuine. I've had that feeling before, that SF authors were inspired by each other's stories. GRRM wrote about space ships with a living mind. So did Anne McCaffrey. So did Julian May, who also wrote about souls trapped in crystal. As did GRRM. It's like stories seeding new stories, a very creative process, and probably the differences build up quickly until it's hard to tell which idea came from where.

btw, I saw the second half of Ender's Game on tv last night. Don't think I'm the target audience for this story, but I stayed on for the visual stuff, which was impressive. Should I read the book?

In my last thread, I made a response to a user pointing out the parallels between Cat's death and Qing-jao's trial. It's not only that the creative idea is being used or borrowed but very specific language/beats from different scenes play out in this paralleled/mirrored fashion. It passes the point of homage and borders on plagiarism, which is why I tend toward the notion there's some sort of tacit collaboration. It's like walking into houses with the same floor plan: the paint and flooring may differ, the furniture and artwork suit the style of the different houses, but they're ultimately using the same floorplan.

With the pequeninos we see a ritual in which they literally plant a seed in a dead piggies' heart. The origin of 'heart trees'. Miro serves as a prototypical Bran, a broken self-loathing boy who climbs too high, becomes crippled, and whose arc brings him to try and 'understand everything'. This pastiching of story elements into new stories get mentioned regularly in the community in regards to Martin's work internally. I am only taking this a step further, suggesting the method is also going on externally between works.

Whether you should read it or not is down to your own taste. The series delves a lot into people and their behaviors. Why we do the things we do. Why do aliens with different cultures and biology do the things they do. As the series goes on it gets into its own metaphysical concepts pretty heavily in order for the cast to use their discoveries to solve the problems they're faced with. If that sort of philosophically-oriented style suits you, then yes, I would say it's worth checking out.

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