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Cowboy Dan

Names of Legend: The Crippled Wizard; Miro-as-Bran and Danny

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In this post, I'll be focusing on the extreme parallels between Miro Ribeira of the Ender Quartet and Bran Stark. I have also included two other works which make nods to this archetype of "the crippled wizard". I believe this all serves to work as a sort of Science Fiction/Fantasy-steeped meta-mythology.

It's a bit like the Marvel comics Martin grew up on: the same blueprint is kept but the specific materials and interior design are different. To use Martin's 'gardening' motif, they have the same seed but it is grown differently based on location, sunlight, water, etc. It also depends on how much a creator has been entrusted to re-tell and I cannot say how the inner workings of this process occur. On to the archetype of the crippled wizard:

Quote

"Miro," whispered Leaf-eater. "Are you a tree?"

It was a translation from the pequeninos' idiom. Sometimes they meditated, holding themselves motionless for hours. They called this "being a tree."

-Ch. 6 "Olhado", Speaker for the Dead

As we see in ADWD, Bran's journey to the Three-Eyed Raven involves learning to become part of the Old Gods, to live through his dreams as a tree would, as a greenseer would. The pequeninos have a similar ritual where a piggy will be turned into a tree in their next life by doing some great deed for their tribe. 

Quote

Bran closed his eyes and slipped free of his skin. Into the roots, he thought. Into the weirwood. Become the tree.

-Bran III, ADWD

In this manner he is learning to speak as a tree, to use whispers on the wind and the rustling of leaves to communicate across vast distances, as we see from the other side in Theon's chapters at Winterfell. That said, I don't think Bran's ultimate fate is to literally become a tree.

Quote

Besides, Miro had never learned tree language... but Miro would never learn, because there was no way Miro's hands could hold the sticks and beat the rhythms. Just one more kind of speech that was now useless to him.

-Ch. 8 "Miracles", Xenocide

As usual for these parallels, they are not direct but an example of the descolada-like re-purposing I wrote about recently. We see the same concept in both places: both think of learning to speak with the trees. Whereas Bran seems unable to speak from the trees at first, he does seem to gain this ability a la Theon as previously mentioned. Miro, on the other hand, cannot use tree language due to the way the fathertrees communicate with those not attached to their philotic twine (or the weirnet in ASOIAF terms). They do so by taking two sticks and knocking them against the tree itself and listening to the sounds produced. The connections to Miro and trees do not stop there, however.

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[A] feeling of questioning and an image of her cocoon being laid within a cool damp place, like a cave or the hollow of a living tree.

-Ch. 10 "Children of the Mind", Speaker for the Dead

 

As we see in Bran III ADWD, Bloodraven is nestled in the roots of his weirwood throne in his cave, so we can see here the seed that was planted long before ADWD was ever written.

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"Already you get around better than a tree."

...

"What about someone," said Miro, "who can't kill, and can't die, and can't live either?"

"Don't deceive yourself," said Ender. "You'll do all three someday."

-Ch. 18 "The Hive Queen", Speaker for the Dead

The nature of magic users having prolonged lives appears throughout the series: the warlocks in the House of the Undying, Bloodraven in his cave, and the Black Gate. The Black Gate, one of the Old Gods, is described as neither living nor dead.

Quote

It looks dead... If a man could live for a thousand years and never die but just grow older, his face might come to look like that.

-Bran IV, ASOS

The AI Jane similarly tells Miro he won't live forever despite Miro making a promise that would last forever. While not forever, Bran will live an elongated life as a weirwood magic user, assuming the other examples hold true for Bran.

Miro's crippling occurs at a key moment in the story, when the colony of Lusitania is deciding whether they should rebel and help the piggies or not. Miro decides to climb the fence which encapsulates Milagre in order to join the piggies. He does so because he believes the grass will work as an anesthetic to dull the pain from climbing over. While the anesthetic works for the piggies, Miro is not so lucky. At the height of his climb, his pain is described:

Quote

All the pain possible to his body came to his brain at once as if every part of him were on fire.

-Ch. 16 "The Fence", Speaker for the Dead

 

This pain cripples Miro in a way that mirrors Bran's climb to the top of The First Keep and becomes crippled after being thrown by Jaime. Both are characters who climb too high and nearly get themselves killed. As a quick aside I would like to introduce "Endymion", another Hugo-winning Sci-Fi novel and the third book in The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons. In it we see this same motif play out. But first, the similarity between the description of the deathwands and Miro's pain climbing the fence.

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Those resurrected after deathwand execution usually did not want to talk about the sensation, but the word in the cells was that it hurt like hell -- as if every circuit in your brain were exploding.

-Ch. 3, Endymion

 

Now on to Raul Endymion's tower climb in which he traverses a blocked up silo to reach a singular window at the top:

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There was an old wooden landing just below the window ledge on which I clung, but the tower was essentially empty... little more than a glorified grain silo... My curiosity would get me killed one day.

-Ch. 6, Endymion

The inside of the building as an empty silo mirrors the description of The First Keep after Winterfell is burned by Theon, described by Bran "as more of a shell than ever".

Once inside Raul finds an old ship which has an AI inside. This ship seems to know everything about Raul because it has been monitoring worldwide communications such as microwave and satellite transmissions. This mirrors Bran's journey and how Bloodraven tells him he will eventually "see well beyond the trees themselves". Miro likewise seeks this nigh-omniscient knowledge.

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"I want to understand everything," said Miro. "I want to know everything and put it all together to see what it means."

-Ch. 18 "The Hive Queen", Speaker for the Dead

The similarities between the three boggle the mind when treated as a coincidence. But the connections between Miro and Bran do not stop there.

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As my fingers curl into a useless club on the ends of my arms, as I hear my own speech sounding thick and unintelligible, my voice unable to modulate properly, then I will be glad that I am like a hundred-year-old man... These days were too exciting for them to stay home with a crippled brother, son, friend.

-Ch. 18 "The Hive Queen", Speaker for the Dead

The excitement of Ned being named Hand and the (then believed) murder of Jon Arryn by the Lannisters causes too much excitement for anyone to stay with Bran other than Robb. Similarly, Bran shows this same difficulty with speech throughout his journey after waking from different wolf dreams.

Miro leaves the world on a relativistic flight to burn about 20 years and be prepared to help the colonists when Ender's sister Val will arrive in Lusitania. Miro thinks how this is similar to dying and ruminates on the nature of his family and town completely changing while he was away, as if the world moved on. Bran thinks along the same lines after waking from his own flight with Bloodraven in his coma dream.

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...but when he woke up he was broken and the world was changed... Yet to Bran it felt as if they had all died while he had slept... or perhaps Bran had died, and they had forgotten him.

-Bran IV, AGOT

 

After Miro's fall and flight he is mentioned to be both broken and a cripple.

Quote

Whatever he did, it was a cripple doing it.

-Ch. 15 "Life and Death", Xenocide

He had lived on, broken on the outside as he was broken on the inside.

-Ch. 8 "Miracles", Xenocide

"He broke himself trying to save innocents from destruction."

-Ch. 3 "There Are Too Many Of Us", Children of the Mind

But most interesting to me are the similarities between their extreme intelligence and their need to look, to be watchers in their journey to understand everything.

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"He's -- he's the smartest person in Lusitania..."

-Ch. 18 "The Hive Queen", Speaker for the Dead

 

The Stark kids' direwolves mimic their owners as is shown throughout their descriptions. Summer is similar to Bran in that he is the smartest of the direwolves, implying Bran is the smartest of the Stark kids.

Quote

Bran's Summer came last. He was silver and smoke, with eyes of yellow gold that saw all there was to see. Smaller than Grey Wind, and more wary. Bran thought he was the smartest of the litter.

-Bran IV, AGOT

Bran notes Summer sees all there is to see and his direwolf is the smartest. Dancer is similarly described as being too smart for a horse, likely due to the skinchanger link between Bran and the two animals.

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She was two years old, and Joseth said she was smarter than any horse had a right to be.

-Bran V, AGOT

The nature of Bran's high intelligence is then directly stated by Maester Luwin, the most learned man in Winterfell.

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"You are a surpassing clever boy when you work at it, Bran... There is no limit to what you might learn."

-Bran VI, AGOT

Returning to seeing everything, Bran and Miro are both characterized by their ability to look.

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"Your name, Miro -- it means 'I look', doesn't it?"

"'I look closely.' Maybe 'I pay attention.'"

-Ch. 2 "A Meeting", Xenocide

 

Bran follows this same motif as a watcher, as one who looks closely.

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He could see the whole realm, and everyone in it.

-Bran III, AGOT

He could not walk, nor climb nor hunt nor fight with a wooden sword as once he had, but he could still look.

-Bran I, ACOK

There are more instances but I'd rather keep this from running any longer than it needs to be.

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Yet he didn't avert his gaze, as so many others in the lab were doing... That was what a Speaker for the Dead was supposed to do, wasn't it? Witness.

-Ch. 17 "Ender's Children", Xenocide

This is from Ender's perspective. Ender and Miro both serve as witnesses just as both Bran and Jon are watchers. This is most clearly evidenced in the first chapter of the book when Jon tells Bran not to look away from the beheading since Ned will know, just as Ender does not look away from a piggy's death in Xenocide.

In Theon's chapters, we see another connection tying the two together through the weir when describing the rustling that whispers Theon's name. He says it is either a God's voice or a Ghost's. As I stated recently Bran will become the child-lord of the Weirwood, a god in essence, and the connection between Jon and ghosts is blatant.

Last we have one more archetype: Danny from the animated show Bravest Warriors. As I have stated in the past, I believe Adventure Time plays into this meta-mythology as well by way of the webcomic Homestuck. The creator of Adventure Time, Pendleton Ward, created Bravest Warriors as well and we see a highly specific piece of symbolism in it at one point: two space rocks knocking together.

This is shown in the animated machinima Red Versus Blue (albeit one of the rocks break into three pieces) and the album art of The Sword's Warp Riders as well. The Sword is a band that has long been influenced by and homaged ASOIAF with songs like "To Take the Black", "Winter's Wolves", "Barael's Blade" and "Maiden, Mother, and Crone".

In Bravest Warriors there is an episode in which three celestial beings control the wills of the main characters, excepting Danny. Danny is referred to as a wizard and we see his mana and intelligence stats are maxed out, paralleling Miro and Bran's high intelligence among their respective groups. This is typical for anyone who's played D&D or any class-based RPG: Wizards are an intelligence-based class.

Danny is likewise a cripple albeit not a physical cripple. He deals with severe depression, which is referenced throughout the show's run. Last and most interesting, as I have speculated on Bran in the past, Bran will likely travel through time and skinchange individuals such as Samwell. Danny also has a recurring motif of making time travel machines that rarely work out the way he hopes they will.

This concludes the exploration of the archetype of the crippled wizard. A crippled, time-traveling boy who climbs too high, gets crippled, goes on a flight, has extreme intelligence, and holds the role of a watcher, of one who sees all. Although I do not believe his status as a watcher is the only role Bran will have by the end of the series.

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Your posts are interesting. I have never read any of what you are comparing ASOIAF to but it is clear many parallels exist. I will have to check out Xenocide etc.

So you reckon GRRM has read Xenocide then? LOL

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