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Lost Melnibonean

The Shaggy Dog Story

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Posted (edited)

Here's a theory I posted shortly after joining this forum several years ago... The Last Hero tale by Old Nan foreshadows the deaths of Jojen, Hodor, Osha, Meera, Rickon, the Liddle they met on their way to the Wall, Sam, Gilly, and Gilly's baby. 

Another poster recently suggested that the theory was crackpot, so I thought I would necro the idea. 

First, ask yourself why GRRM had Old Nan tell part of the tale of the Last Hero, and only the part she told...

Quote

Oh my sweet summer child … What do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north, when the sun hides it face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods.

The Others … Thousands and thousands of years ago, a winter fell that was cold and hard and endless beyond all memory of man. There came a night that lasted a generation, and kings shivered and died in their castles even as the swineherds in their hovels. Women smothered their children rather than see them starve, and cried, and felt their tears freeze on their cheeks.

In that darkness, the Others came for the first time … They were cold things, dead things, that hated iron and fire and the touch of the sun, and every creature with hot blood in its veins. They swept over holdfasts and cities and kingdoms, felled heroes and armies by the score, riding pale dead horses, and leading hosts of the slain. All the swords of men could not stay their advance, and even maidens and suckling babes, found no pity in them. They hunted the maids through the frozen forests, and fed their dead servants on the flesh of human children.

Now these were the days before the Andals came, and long before the women fled across the narrow sea from the cities of the Rhoyne, and the hundred kingdoms of those times were the kingdoms of the First Men, who had taken those lands from the children of the forest. Yet here and there in the fastness of the woods, the children still lived in their wooden cities and hollow hills, and the faces in the trees kept watch. So as cold and death filled the earth, the last hero determined to seek out the children, in the hopes that their ancient magics could win back what the armies of men had lost. He set out into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog, and a dozen companions. For years he searched until he despaired of ever finding the children of the forest in their secret cities. One by one his friends died, and his horse, and finally even his dog, and his sword froze so hard the blade snapped when he tried to use it. And the Others smelled the hot blood in him and came silent on his trail, stalking him with packs of pale white spiders big as hounds –

OK, now consider this:

The last hero determined to seek out the children, in the hopes that their ancient magics could win back what the armies of men had lost. He set out into the dead lands with a sword, a horse, a dog and a dozen companions. For years he searched until he despaired of ever finding the children of the forest in their secret cities. One by one his friends died, and his horse, and finally even his dog, and his sword froze so hard the blade snapped when he tried to use it.

Well, Bran sought the Three-Eyed Crow and found him among the Children of the Forest. Bran took one of the swords from the crypts of Winterfell. He did not travel on a horse but he did travel on an elk. He did not travel with a dog but he did travel with a dire wolf. And he did travel with or encounter directly exactly twelve human companions: Jojen, Hodor, Luwin, Osha, Meera, Rickon, the Liddle that fed them on their way to the Wall, Sam, Gilly, Gilly's baby, Coldhands, and Bloodraven. 

Luwin and Coldhands are dead and Bloodraven is dying.

Hodor and Meera are trapped in a cave surrounded by wights far beyond the Wall. And we know from the comments of the GOT showrunners

Spoiler

how Hodor got his name.

Jojen might already be paste and if not, he's still in the same tight spot as Hodor and Meera.

Given that Rickon named his dire wolf Shaggy Dog, we might expect Rickon to die in some anticlimactic manner, along with Osha who is traveling with Rickon. If you are not aware of what a shaggy dog story is, see this.

The Liddle that helped Bran in the mountains could be killed among Stannis's host.*

Sam and Gilly are in a war zone and how else would you expect Sam's part in the story to end? He wouldn't be expected to become a Maester and return to aide Jon at the Wall by the time of Dream, would he? note the possible foreshadowing of Samwell's death in Jon II, Dance 7, when Jon notices the snow melting in Samwell's hair as he bids fairwell, and recalls the same thing when he bid farewell to Robb in jon II, Game 10. Arya recalled it too during the buildup to the Red Wedding in Arya VII, Storm 39.

That leaves Gilly's baby who's at the Wall where Melisandre thinks he is the son of the King Beyond the Wall and she might be in need of a little King's blood about now. 

In The Long Night, TWOIAF we learn that at least some of the Last Hero's friends may have only abandoned him. Nevertheless, it might be a little too coincidental that Bran directly encountered twelve humans on his way north. 

I an guessing that this passage from The Dragontamer in Dance, which includes part of the conversation between Drink and Quent before the roasting, relates back to the partial tale by Old Nan...

Quote

"Men die on grand adventures."

He was not wrong. That was in the stories too. The hero sets out with his friends and companions, faces dangers, comes home triumphant. Only some of his companions don't return at all. The hero never dies, though. ...

And consider this...

Quote

"It is wolves I mean to hunt. I can scarcely sleep at night for the howling." Bolton buckled on his belt, adjusting the hang of sword and dagger. "It's said that direwolves once roamed the north in great packs of a hundred or more, and feared neither man nor mammoth, but that was long ago and in another land. It is queer to see the common wolves of the south so bold."

...

The hunting party returned near evenfall with nine dead wolves. Seven were adults, big grey-brown beasts, savage and powerful, their mouths drawn back over long yellow teeth by their dying snarls. But the other two had only been pups.

Arya X, Clash

Why seven adults and two pups? That specificity suggests some foreshadowing or symbolism. During the tale, we learn that three adult Starks were killed before Game: Rickard, Brandon, and Lyanna. Then Benjen is presumed dead and the Ned loses his head. Later we see Robb switch heads with Grey Wind and Catelyn floating in the river before Beric raises her from the dead. That's seven dead adult Starks.

So which two of the four remaing Stark pups (Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon) will die? Please place your bets...

In another old thread about the salty tear shed by the Black Gate, @Philpennsuggested that Bran from the future was watching Bran pass the Wall, and shedding the tear knowing that he would never leave his weirwood throne. But given that Hodor will

Spoiler

die holding a door

that I suspect will not be the Hobbit door to the cave of the three-eyed crow, but perhaps at Winterfell, I am thinking that Bran will leave that weirwood throne, on Hodor's back of course. 

So I would suggest that Bran sheds the tear knowing that his twelve companions will die. 

Admittedly, this point here is a stretch... Lord Manderly is trying to recover a prince--Prince Rickon, who just might be a shaggy dog in this tale, one who will die uneventfully after high expectations. Well, another Lord Manderly was expecting a princess in the time of Jaehaerys, Princess Viserra to whom he was betrothed, but she died by mishap before arriving in White Harbor for the wedding...

Quote

A wild, high-spirited maid, she fell from a horse while racing drunkenly through the streets of King's Landing.

Jaehaerys I, TWOIAF

Here is my favorite bit...

Quote

“Who are you?” Meera Reed was asking.

Bran knew. “She’s a child. A child of the forest.” He shivered, as much from wonderment as cold. They had fallen into one of Old Nan’s tales.

Bran II, Dance 13

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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*I suspect that Bran's Liddle is marching with Stannis's host. The Liddle encountered by Bran was not personally described. But as far as we know old characters are described as old in ASOIAF. That probably means Bran's Liddle was not THE Liddle since THE Liddle had three sons, at least two of which were grown. Bran knew him for a Liddle because he wrapped some food for them in a green and white cloth and he wore a clasp of gold and bronze wrought in the shape of a pinecone. That the Liddle's clasp was gold and bronze clearly suggests that he was relatively affluent. I think it implies that he was one of the Liddle's sons. We know from the Appendix to Dance that the Liddle has three sons. The Big Liddle seems to be one of Jon's preferred brothers in the Night's Watch. We don't know anything about Little Liddle other than he's the youngest. But we do know that Morgan "Middle" Liddle was the northman who took down Asha at Deepwod Motte and then continued on with Stannis to the crofters' village near Winterfell. Since he was wearing a byrnie of mail Asha assumed right away that he was a chief. Unfortunately she never noticed a gold and bronze clasp. She noticed he was big, bald, and bearded and fought with an axe. Unfortunately, none of those things are noted by Bran. But there were these two similarities: 

From Bran II, Storm --The Liddle took out a knife and whittled at a stick.

From The Wayward Bride, Dance --His axe was shivering her shield, cracking the wood on the downswing, tearing off long pale splinters when he wrenched it back. 

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Posted (edited)

A shaggy dog story in a drama ends in futility after setting up expectations and unfulilled promise. Consider Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea where Santiago struggles to catch a great marlin and fights a heroic battle against sharks only to have his prize devoured by the time he returns. Or consider Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men where George and Lenny's dream dies when George has to kill Lennie to save him from a worse fate.

Keep in mind that either of those stories are pointless. The George could have a shaggy dog story in store for us to illustrate the cruelty or greed of man, barbarism of war, or the great perseverance of one man (Davos) who is unable to overcome despite a heroic but futile effort.

On the potential for Rickon to die in an anticlimactic shaggydog manner...

Quote

Surely the gods did not bring me safe through flre and sea only to kill me with a flux.

Davos II, Storm

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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I always figured there was more to Bran’s parallels with the Last Hero, so I’m not sure why I never noticed that there were exactly 12 people he interacted with after rising from the crypt. I’m definitely thinking it was deliberate.

7 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

In The Long Night, TWOIAF we learn that at least some of the Last Hero's friends may have only abandoned him. Nevertheless, it might be a little too coincidental that Bran directly encountered twelve humans on his way north. 

I’d still think it works better if the twelve all die, but if it’s not necessary I suppose Rickon wouldn’t have to die as long as he permenantly leaves the narrative. There was a theory I saw that I liked in which Rickon is happy on Skagos so Davos might decide to leave him because he believes the life of a child is more important than the war. So maayyyybe that would count. Or at least the very least if he dies Shaggydog could live on and everyone can be slightly less sad.

The Rickon living scenario seems less likely considering Roose’s hunting party definitely seems to imply two of the younger Starks will die. So if it’s not Bran and Rickon, that locks us into Arya and Sansa. I wouldn’t totally write it off though.

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Lost Melnibonean said:

*I suspect that Bran's Liddle is marching with Stannis's host. The Liddle encountered by Bran was not personally described. But as far as we know old characters are described as old in ASOIAF. That probably means Bran's Liddle was not THE Liddle since THE Liddle had three sons, at least two of which were grown. Bran knew him for a Liddle because he wrapped some food for them in a green and white cloth and he wore a clasp of gold and bronze wrought in the shape of a pinecone. That the Liddle's clasp was gold and bronze clearly suggests that he was relatively affluent. I think it implies that he was one of the Liddle's sons. We know from the Appendix to Dance that the Liddle has three sons. The Big Liddle seems to be one of Jon's preferred brothers in the Night's Watch. We don't know anything about Little Liddle other than he's the youngest. But we do know that Morgan "Middle" Liddle was the northman who took down Asha at Deepwod Motte and then continued on with Stannis to the crofters' village near Winterfell. Since he was wearing a byrnie of mail Asha assumed right away that he was a chief. Unfortunately she never noticed a gold and bronze clasp. She noticed he was big, bald, and bearded and fought with an axe. Unfortunately, none of those things are noted by Bran. But there were these two similarities: 

From Bran II, Storm --The Liddle took out a knife and whittled at a stick.

From The Wayward Bride, Dance --His axe was shivering her shield, cracking the wood on the downswing, tearing off long pale splinters when he wrenched it back. 

I like the idea that the companions need to be symbolically or literally dead to take on the Others-"What is dead may never die..." etc.

Not so sure about the list you've identified thus far,but there are two more books in which this list can be changed.More specifically, I disagree with the above.I would say this is the Liddle as opposed to Morgan Liddle and I propose that the Liddle is in Winterfell in disguise here.

I would say the absence of a clasp favours it being the Liddle (Asha tends to notice these things).If the Liddle were with Stannis I suggest he would be doing the talking.The whittling thing is rather tenuous.

But overall,yes Iike it.

ETA Does't matter which Liddle,both are in danger.

Edited by redriver

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8 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I am still holding on for Team Rickon:commie: and hope that he is more of a Snarly Yow story (fingers and toes crossed)... but you always make a good case that makes me go 'hmmmm'. 

If Rickon lives, which two wee Starks are going to die (if Roose's wolf pelts is actually foreshadowing)?

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