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Mourning Star

Some nonsense about Kings' Blood

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Posted (edited)

I want to revisit A Game of Thrones, Jon VIII, and take a look at the conversation between Aemon and Jon.

First, I will try to explain how I interpret Aemon’s metaphor about ravens and men.

Second, I want to look at what this means for the three men being discussed here, namely  Jon, Aemon, and Ned.

Finally, I want to point out how I believe this supports a fantastic “monster” theory!

Spoiler

"Toss the meat into the cages," Aemon instructed him. "The birds will do the rest."

Jon shifted the bucket to his right hand and thrust his left down into the bloody bits. The ravens began to scream noisily and fly at the bars, beating at the metal with night-black wings. The meat had been chopped into pieces no larger than a finger joint. He filled his fist and tossed the raw red morsels into the cage, and the squawking and squabbling grew hotter. Feathers flew as two of the larger birds fought over a choice piece. Quickly Jon grabbed a second handful and threw it in after the first. "Lord Mormont's raven likes fruit and corn."

"He is a rare bird," the maester said. "Most ravens will eat grain, but they prefer flesh. It makes them strong, and I fear they relish the taste of blood. In that they are like men … and like men, not all ravens are alike."

Jon had nothing to say to that. He threw meat, wondering why he'd been summoned. No doubt the old man would tell him, in his own good time. Maester Aemon was not a man to be hurried.

"Doves and pigeons can also be trained to carry messages," the maester went on, "though the raven is a stronger flyer, larger, bolder, far more clever, better able to defend itself against hawks … yet ravens are black, and they eat the dead, so some godly men abhor them. Baelor the Blessed tried to replace all the ravens with doves, did you know?" The maester turned his white eyes on Jon, smiling. "The Night's Watch prefers ravens."

Jon's fingers were in the bucket, blood up to the wrist. "Dywen says the wildlings call us crows," he said uncertainly.

"The crow is the raven's poor cousin. They are both beggars in black, hated and misunderstood."

Jon wished he understood what they were talking about, and why. What did he care about ravens and doves? If the old man had something to say to him, why couldn't he just say it?

"Jon, did you ever wonder why the men of the Night's Watch take no wives and father no children?" Maester Aemon asked.

Jon shrugged. "No." He scattered more meat. The fingers of his left hand were slimy with blood, and his right throbbed from the weight of the bucket.

"So they will not love," the old man answered, "for love is the bane of honor, the death of duty."

That did not sound right to Jon, yet he said nothing. The maester was a hundred years old, and a high officer of the Night's Watch; it was not his place to contradict him.

The old man seemed to sense his doubts. "Tell me, Jon, if the day should ever come when your lord father must needs choose between honor on the one hand and those he loves on the other, what would he do?"

Jon hesitated. He wanted to say that Lord Eddard would never dishonor himself, not even for love, yet inside a small sly voice whispered, He fathered a bastard, where was the honor in that? And your mother, what of his duty to her, he will not even say her name. "He would do whatever was right," he said … ringingly, to make up for his hesitation. "No matter what."

"Then Lord Eddard is a man in ten thousand. Most of us are not so strong. What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms … or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.

"The men who formed the Night's Watch knew that only their courage shielded the realm from the darkness to the north. They knew they must have no divided loyalties to weaken their resolve. So they vowed they would have no wives nor children.

"Yet brothers they had, and sisters. Mothers who gave them birth, fathers who gave them names. They came from a hundred quarrelsome kingdoms, and they knew times may change, but men do not. So they pledged as well that the Night's Watch would take no part in the battles of the realms it guarded.

"They kept their pledge. When Aegon slew Black Harren and claimed his kingdom, Harren's brother was Lord Commander on the Wall, with ten thousand swords to hand. He did not march. In the days when the Seven Kingdoms were seven kingdoms, not a generation passed that three or four of them were not at war. The Watch took no part. When the Andals crossed the narrow sea and swept away the kingdoms of the First Men, the sons of the fallen kings held true to their vows and remained at their posts. So it has always been, for years beyond counting. Such is the price of honor.

"A craven can be as brave as any man, when there is nothing to fear. And we all do our duty, when there is no cost to it. How easy it seems then, to walk the path of honor. Yet soon or late in every man's life comes a day when it is not easy, a day when he must choose."

Some of the ravens were still eating, long stringy bits of meat dangling from their beaks. The rest seemed to be watching him. Jon could feel the weight of all those tiny black eyes. "And this is my day … is that what you're saying?"

Maester Aemon turned his head and looked at him with those dead white eyes. It was as if he were seeing right into his heart. Jon felt naked and exposed. He took the bucket in both hands and flung the rest of the slops through the bars. Strings of meat and blood flew everywhere, scattering the ravens. They took to the air, shrieking wildly. The quicker birds snatched morsels on the wing and gulped them down greedily. Jon let the empty bucket clang to the floor.

The old man laid a withered, spotted hand on his shoulder. "It hurts, boy," he said softly. "Oh, yes. Choosing … it has always hurt. And always will. I know."

"You don't know," Jon said bitterly. "No one knows. Even if I am his bastard, he's still my father …"

Maester Aemon sighed. "Have you heard nothing I've told you, Jon? Do you think you are the first?" He shook his ancient head, a gesture weary beyond words. "Three times the gods saw fit to test my vows. Once when I was a boy, once in the fullness of my manhood, and once when I had grown old. By then my strength was fled, my eyes grown dim, yet that last choice was as cruel as the first. My ravens would bring the news from the south, words darker than their wings, the ruin of my House, the death of my kin, disgrace and desolation. What could I have done, old, blind, frail? I was helpless as a suckling babe, yet still it grieved me to sit forgotten as they cut down my brother's poor grandson, and his son, and even the little children …"

Jon was shocked to see the shine of tears in the old man's eyes. "Who are you?" he asked quietly, almost in dread.

A toothless smile quivered on the ancient lips. "Only a maester of the Citadel, bound in service to Castle Black and the Night's Watch. In my order, we put aside our house names when we take our vows and don the collar." The old man touched the maester's chain that hung loosely around his thin, fleshless neck. "My father was Maekar, the First of his Name, and my brother Aegon reigned after him in my stead. My grandfather named me for Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, who was his uncle, or his father, depending on which tale you believe. Aemon, he called me …"

"Aemon … Targaryen?" Jon could scarcely believe it.

"Once," the old man said. "Once. So you see, Jon, I do know … and knowing, I will not tell you stay or go. You must make that choice yourself, and live with it all the rest of your days. As I have." His voice fell to a whisper. "As I have …"

A Game of Thrones - Jon VIII

Quote

“Jon wished he understood what they were talking about, and why.”

It seems clear that Aemon has a deeper meaning intended here, even Jon can see that, and this appears to be highlighted for the reader.

We see Aemon directly compare ravens to men, ravens to other birds, and explain that not all men or birds are the same.

The Night’s Watch prefers ravens because they are fighters, those stronger and more capable of preforming their tasks, even if they are distasteful. The same can be said of the men they recruit.

However, Aemon fears they share a taste for blood. While an obvious interpretation here would be a taste for violence, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this could be a taste for “flesh” as in woman, especially given the rest of the conversation.

In fact, the next line after Jon wonders what Aemon is talking about is:

Quote

"Jon, did you ever wonder why the men of the Night's Watch take no wives and father no children?"

Aemon suggests that it is so they will not love, for love is the death of duty, but this doesn’t sound right to Jon. Like ravens not all men are the same.

Quote

“Tell me, Jon, if the day should ever come when your lord father must needs choose between honor on the one hand and those he loves on the other, what would he do?”

He would do what was right. Said "ringingly" no less, and a ring is exactly what makes a wife (and missing a ring on a finger is what makes a bastard).

This also begs the reader to question what is right, and I think it is clearly something different (or at least more nuanced) than what Aemon is saying, which seems to be that duty and honor are the “right” choice, and love is a threat to that.

For Ned, what to do with Jon was obviously a hard choice.

After two strong men fought over the finger of his sister Lyanna (like the two strong ravens fighting over a choice piece of finger joint sized meat), Ned had to choose what to do with Jon.

Like Mormont’s raven is “a rare bird”, so is Ned, he is “a man in ten thousand.” Both show remarkable self discipline, and are not ruled by a taste for flesh.

Ned chooses love over duty with Lyanna, but chooses duty over his lust when it came to his own marriage.

Things are not as simple as Aemon suggests, and one should not conflate desires of the flesh with love, any more than one should view love as simply a threat to duty.

Aemon confirms that most men are not as strong as Ned, himself included.

Quote

What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms … or the memory of a brother's smile?

Aemon has had his vows tested three times, as he tells us a few paragraphs later, and these three questions certainly appear to describe his tests.

Quote

Once when I was a boy, once in the fullness of my manhood, and once when I had grown old.

Aemon is one of the oldest people in Westeros. I would suggest that his definition of “boy” and “man” are not just based on age.

This is supported by his own words:

Quote

Jon was tired. I need sleep. He had been up half the night poring over maps, writing letters, and making plans with Maester Aemon. Even after stumbling into his narrow bed, rest had not come easily. He knew what he would face today, and found himself tossing restlessly as he brooded on Maester Aemon's final words. "Allow me to give my lord one last piece of counsel," the old man had said, "the same counsel that I once gave my brother when we parted for the last time. He was three-and-thirty when the Great Council chose him to mount the Iron Throne. A man grown with sons of his own, yet in some ways still a boy. Egg had an innocence to him, a sweetness we all loved. Kill the boy within you, I told him the day I took ship for the Wall. It takes a man to rule. An Aegon, not an Egg. Kill the boy and let the man be born." The old man felt Jon's face. "You are half the age that Egg was, and your own burden is a crueler one, I fear. You will have little joy of your command, but I think you have the strength in you to do the things that must be done. Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born."

A Dance with Dragons - Jon II

Aemon was only two years older than Aegon, and I believe he still saw himself as some ways still a boy before he became a man of the Night’s Watch.

Quote

Benjen Stark frowned. "A boy you are, and a boy you'll remain until Ser Alliser says you are fit to be a man of the Night's Watch. If you thought your Stark blood would win you easy favors, you were wrong. We put aside our old families when we swear our vows. Your father will always have a place in my heart, but these are my brothers now." He gestured with his dagger at the men around them, all the hard cold men in black.

A Game of Thrones - Jon III

Aemon put aside his name when he became a master, but did he consider himself a man before he joined the Night’s Watch? I’m not so sure. It's possible the first test came when he was a Maester but not a brother of the Night's Watch. I could even speculate that Marwyn is his son... perhaps another time.

The third of Aemon’s tests is the most obvious. The memory of his brother’s smile:

Quote

“What could I have done, old, blind, frail? I was helpless as a suckling babe, yet still it grieved me to sit forgotten as they cut down my brother's poor grandson, and his son, and even the little children …”

However, this raises the obvious question about the other two tests, who was the woman who loved Aemon, and who is his son?

I believe the answer to these questions comes from one of Jon’s own tests, Ygritte:

Quote

She punched him. "That's vile. Would you bed your sister?"
"Longspear's not your brother."
"He's of my village. You know nothing, Jon Snow. A true man steals a woman from afar, t' strengthen the clan. Women who bed brothers or fathers or clan kin offend the gods, and are cursed with weak and sickly children. Even monsters."
"Craster weds his daughters," Jon pointed out.
She punched him again. "Craster's more your kind than ours. His father was a crow who stole a woman out of Whitetree village, but after he had her he flew back t' his Wall. She went t' Castle Black once t' show the crow his son, but the brothers blew their horns and run her off. Craster's blood is black, and he bears a heavy curse." She ran her fingers lightly across his stomach. "I feared you'd do the same once. Fly back to the Wall. You never knew what t' do after you stole me."

A Storm of Swords - Jon III

The obvious comparison here is that Targaryens do wed their family/siblings.

Jon is almost certainly of Targaryen descent.

But, perhaps, so is Craster, his daughter/wife Gilley, and their child, Monster!

I would suggest that the woman who loved Aemon was from Whitetree village, and that the newborn son he held in his arms was none other than Craster.

It is worth noting that we do not get an eye color for Craster, and that his hair color is grey/white.

Quote

Craster's sheepskin jerkin and cloak of sewn skins made a shabby contrast, but around one thick wrist was a heavy ring that had the glint of gold. He looked to be a powerful man, though well into the winter of his days now, his mane of hair grey going to white. A flat nose and a drooping mouth gave him a cruel look, and one of his ears was missing. So this is a wildling. Jon remembered Old Nan's tales of the savage folk who drank blood from human skulls. Craster seemed to be drinking a thin yellow beer from a chipped stone cup. Perhaps he had not heard the stories.

A Clash of Kings - Jon III

While this description might not be reminiscent of Aemon himself, it does bear some resemblance to his father, Maekar.

Quote

"My father was Maekar, the First of his Name, and my brother Aegon reigned after him in my stead. My grandfather named me for Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, who was his uncle, or his father, depending on which tale you believe. Aemon, he called me …"

And Aemon was named for someone who may or may not have had an illegitimate child themselves.

Quote

"No," the old man said. "It must be you. Tell them. The prophecy . . . my brother's dream . . . Lady Melisandre has misread the signs. Stannis . . . Stannis has some of the dragon blood in him, yes. His brothers did as well. Rhaelle, Egg's little girl, she was how they came by it . . . their father's mother . . . she used to call me Uncle Maester when she was a little girl. I remembered that, so I allowed myself to hope . . . perhaps I wanted to . . . we all deceive ourselves, when we want to believe. Melisandre most of all, I think. The sword is wrong, she has to know that . . . light without heat . . . an empty glamor . . . the sword is wrong, and the false light can only lead us deeper into darkness, Sam. Daenerys is our hope. Tell them that, at the Citadel. Make them listen. They must send her a maester. Daenerys must be counseled, taught, protected. For all these years I've lingered, waiting, watching, and now that the day has dawned I am too old. I am dying, Sam." Tears ran from his blind white eyes at that admission. "Death should hold no fear for a man as old as me, but it does. Isn't that silly? It is always dark where I am, so why should I fear the darkness? Yet I cannot help but wonder what will follow, when the last warmth leaves my body. Will I feast forever in the Father's golden hall as the septons say? Will I talk with Egg again, find Dareon whole and happy, hear my sisters singing to their children? What if the horselords have the truth of it? Will I ride through the night sky forever on a stallion made of flame? Or must I return again to this vale of sorrow? Who can say, truly? Who has been beyond the wall of death to see? Only the wights, and we know what they are like. We know."
There was little and less that Sam could say to that, but he had given the old man what little comfort he could. And Gilly came in afterward and sang a song for him, a nonsense song thing that she learned from some of Craster's other wives. It made the old man smile and helped him go to sleep.

A Feast for Crows - Samwell IV

There is also remarkable irony if this is all true. Jon’s plan to swap Gilley and Mance’s babies so as to keep Kingsblood out of reach of Melisandre may have done just the opposite.

Some hysterical “nonsense” if I do say myself…

Quote

"Pyp says that Lady Melisandre means to give him to the flames, to work some sorcery."
"Pyp should learn to hold his tongue. I have heard the same from others. King's blood, to wake a dragon. Where Melisandre thinks to find a sleeping dragon, no one is quite sure. It's nonsense. Mance's blood is no more royal than mine own. He has never worn a crown nor sat a throne. He's a brigand, nothing more. There's no power in brigand's blood."

The raven looked up from the floor. "Blood," it screamed.

A Feast for Crows - Samwell I

Mance was a king in more than name, and perhaps there is some truth to this nonsense about King’s blood.

I look forward to learning more about this nonsense…

Quote

He spoke of dreams and never named the dreamer, of a glass candle that could not be lit and eggs that would not hatch. He said the sphinx was the riddle, not the riddler, whatever that meant. He asked Sam to read for him from a book by Septon Barth, whose writings had been burned during the reign of Baelor the Blessed. Once he woke up weeping. "The dragon must have three heads,"

A Feast for Crows - Samwell IV

If you look at the quote above, you will see Aemon doesn’t name a dreamer, but does mention his brother’s dream in relation to prophesy. If I had to guess this is a reference to Daeron.

Quote

"I'm not stupid, ser." Egg lowered his voice. "Someday the dragons will return. My brother Daeron's dreamed of it, and King Aerys read it in a prophecy. Maybe it will be my egg that hatches. That would be splendid."
"Would it?" Dunk had his doubts.
Not Egg. "Aemon and I used to pretend that our eggs would be the ones to hatch. If they did, we could fly through the sky on dragonback, like the first Aegon and his sisters."

The Mystery Knight

The glass candles are lit.

And we see Baelor referenced again, the same king who is referenced by Aemon as who tried to replace ravens with doves back in the original passage, also tried to burn the books by Barth.

Quote

"No one. Most of the stories you hear about dragons are fodder for fools. Talking dragons, dragons hoarding gold and gems, dragons with four legs and bellies big as elephants, dragons riddling with sphinxes … nonsense, all of it. But there are truths in the old books as well. Not only do I know that the queen's dragons took to you, but I know why."
"My mother said my father had a drop of dragon blood."

A Dance with Dragons - Tyrion XI

I believe that Monster, the child of Craster and Gilley, is the Grandson/Great-Grandson of Aemon Targaryen, and has more than a drop of kings' blood.

Edited by Mourning Star

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"So they will not love," the old man answered, "for love is the bane of honor, the death of duty."

Heartsbane

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Posted (edited)

hmmm, interesting ideas MS, thanks for the posting!
are the Crastors related to Targaryens ... i don't know...  i just don't know.

23 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I believe that Monster, the child of Craster and Gilley, is the Grandson/Great-Grandson of Aemon Targaryen, and has more than a drop of kings' blood.

what strikes me is most with your theory is that our "Monster" is now being (directly/indirectly) called "Aemon Battleborn or Aemon Steelsong" due to his circumstances.   is that a weird coincidence if he is indeed a Targaryen ancestor?

but if he is not a Targaryen - Monster is being "named" when he should not be "named" (per the Wilding People's tradition of not naming infants until their proper "nameday").

the main point of that is:  what affect will this naming have upon "Monster" if he is a not a "normal" Wilding Prince?  is he doomed to bad luck? (you know, that quote (to Jon) from Gilly about naming her baby before two years old)
   
also to note the other coincidence that "Monster", too, was born during battle; his inadvertent name is just as applicable as Dalla's son's.

also also - Gilly is calling the Wilding Prince by the name of "Aemon Bb/Ss" - what does this tell us?  wouldn't she not name him if he of the Wilding People? do the 'royals' get some sort of 'don't name him before he's off the breast' naming rule pass?

i love the parallels that these two young'uns have going on.   they are my favorite new characters.
so many questions:  will these two boys will be known by the same names in the future?  maybe like a Aegon/fAegon kind of confusion? 
i don't know, i'm just putting it out here, thanks for the post MS.  maybe the more experienced symbologists of this board can help analyze this better than me with my questions.  maybe they already have!  @Seams, @sweetsunray  have you each had some thoughts about this before?  how about your opinion @Megorova - is it possible that there could be a forgotten Targaryen ancestor that turned into the Crastor family?

 

Edited by Yaya
to be clearer :)

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Yaya said:

hmmm, interesting ideas MS, thanks for the posting!
are the Crastors related to Targaryens ... i don't know...  i just don't know.

what strikes me is most with your theory is that our "Monster" is now being (directly/indirectly) called "Aemon Battleborn or Aemon Steelsong" due to his circumstances.   is that a weird coincidence if he is indeed a Targaryen ancestor?

but if he is not a Targaryen - Monster is being "named" when he should not be "named" (per the Wilding People's tradition of not naming infants until their proper "nameday").

the main point of that is:  what affect will this naming have upon "Monster" if he is a not a "normal" Wilding Prince?  is he doomed to bad luck? (you know, that quote (to Jon) from Gilly about naming her baby before two years old)
   
also to note the other coincidence that "Monster", too, was born during battle; his inadvertent name is just as applicable as Dalla's son's.

also also - Gilly is calling the Wilding Prince by the name of "Aemon Bb/Ss" - what does this tell us?  wouldn't she not name him if he of the Wilding People? do the 'royals' get some sort of 'don't name him before he's off the breast' naming rule pass?

i love the parallels that these two young'uns have going on.   they are my favorite new characters.
so many questions:  will these two boys will be known by the same names in the future?  maybe like a Aegon/fAegon kind of confusion? 
i don't know, i'm just putting it out here, thanks for the post MS.  maybe the more experienced symbologists of this board can help analyze this better than me with my questions.  maybe they already have!  @Seams, @sweetsunray  have you each had some thoughts about this before?  how about your opinion @Megorova - is it possible that there could be a forgotten Targaryen ancestor that turned into the Crastor family?

 

Thank you, but I'm a little confused, or maybe I wasn't clear.

When I say Monster, I mean the child left behind by Gilly in the care of Val.

Aemon Battleborn/Steelsong was the Child of Dalla and Mance, who is now in the care of Gilly.

I am not trying to speculate that Mance or Dalla had Targaryen blood here.

Edited by Mourning Star

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no, i understand what you are putting forward - it's just that not everyone knows of the baby switch and the two children are now going to be treated differently.  i find it extremely interesting.

 

 

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22 hours ago, Yaya said:

how about your opinion @Megorova - is it possible that there could be a forgotten Targaryen ancestor that turned into the Crastor family?

Of course, it's a viable possibility, that Craster was a dragonseed. Though it's not what you think, not thru some forgotten Targaryen.

Craster's father was a member of NW and his mother was a wildling from the village Whitetree.

When Bloodraven was sent to The Wall, he was accompanied there by his personal guards, Raven's Teeth. Originally there was 300 of them, and many of them joined Night's Watch to stay with Bloodraven. Could be that they were so loyal to him because they were bloodrelated to him. Who knows how many lowborn bastards did King Aegon fathered. Could be that some of Raven's Teeth were, same as Bloodraven himself, Aegon's bastards, or descendants of those bastards, like Aegon's grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Craster was old, possibly as old as was Jeor Mormont, who was born in 230 AC. Craster could have been aged between 40 and 70/was born between 230 and 260 AC. Bloodraven and his people joined NW in 233 AC, and he disappeared beyond The Wall in 252 AC. It's likely that same as some other members of NW, not all of Bloodraven's companions adhered to their oaths. And thus one of them could have fathered a child with a wildling woman. And that child is Craster.

Also - nealry all Valyrians/dragonseeds have either ae or ey in their names, or both. For example: Aegon, Aemon, Daemon, Daella, Helaena, Viserys, Rhaenyra, Daenerys, Maelys, Aenys, Aerys.

And Craster does have an ae in his name.

And if those Raven's Teeth were promiscuous, then it's likely that Craster is not the only hidden dragonseed beyond The Wall.

One of Craster's wives, Ferny, also could have been a dragonseed.

Just recently I had an idea that maybe Mance is also a dragonseed, and that could be that his father is Denys Mallister, and that his mother was one of Craster's wives who was also Gilly's mother (or not). So Mance and Gilly are half-siblings, and thus their children are cousins. Could be that Val is also a partial dragonseed, because of her looks and also because her name could be a shortening of Valery. Just a thought.

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Posted (edited)

Mourning Star, congrats! This is well written and thought provoking! Ygritte does tell Jon that Craster is the son a man of the Night’s Watch, and I’ve always wondered how that could be relevant. You provide quite a theory! Aemon’s son! My oh my. Maybe.

I like the way you explore ravens as metaphor for men. Of course, Aemon does it in the text, but you expanded on it beautifully. The Night’s Watchmen, their preferences and their unique predicates; the two birds fighting for a choice piece as a stand in for Robert and Rhaegar; the connection between Mormont’s raven and Ned Stark.  

And Gilly singing “a nonsense song” to Aemon the babe and putting Aemon the old man to sleep, just a few words after he references his own sisters singing to their children… In the light of everything you brought up, what a catch! I’m excited.  

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, but I’m thinking: how could this, if true, be of consequence to the story? You think Melissandre will kill Monster at Castle Black and some magic will work because he’s got Targ blood in him? But how would the characters come to such knowledge in-universe? Or do you believe this it just for the reader to pick up on?

Edited by Lady Dacey

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Posted (edited)
On 3/4/2021 at 10:48 AM, Mourning Star said:

Jon shifted the bucket to his right hand and thrust his left down into the bloody bits.

 

On 3/4/2021 at 10:48 AM, Mourning Star said:

"He would do whatever was right,

Ringingly reminds me of bells

Edited by Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe

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On 3/5/2021 at 1:30 PM, Yaya said:

will these two boys will be known by the same names in the future?  maybe like a Aegon/fAegon kind of confusion? 
... is it possible that there could be a forgotten Targaryen ancestor that turned into the Crastor family?

I think Monster and Aemon Steelsong will be linked because they shared a wetnurse. They become milk brothers, like Jon Snow and Edric Dayne. I don't know that they will be confused with each other because each has been named (or nicknamed) by a woman who is aware of whose baby she is nurturing and naming - it's not a case of mistaken or hidden identity. 

The OP has done a great job citing book-based evidence and I am interested to see a book-based interpretation that differs from my own. The differences are probably a good example of why literary analysis is not a science. For instance, the original post makes this interpretation:

On 3/4/2021 at 1:48 PM, Mourning Star said:

Ned chooses love over duty with Lyanna, but chooses duty over his lust when it came to his own marriage.

Although it's difficult to separate reality from imagination in the Tower of Joy flashback, I see Ned putting his "brotherhood" with Robert (soon to be the king) over his love for Lyanna - honor or duty over family. He does something similar when he leaves Winterfell to become Hand of the King - duty over family. I do not think Ned broke his marriage vow and fathered Jon Snow, so he didn't face a choice of duty over lust in that situation. (Although maybe I've misunderstood Mourning Star's point here. Maybe the line alludes to Ned setting aside his reported love for Ashara to dutifully accept the arranged marriage with Catelyn?) I do think Ned chose family (saving Sansa) over honor (holding Cersei accountable for treason) when he made his confession on he steps of he Great Sept. 

For what it's worth, I do not see strong hints about a Targaryen association with Craster, although I may be wrong. The hints that seem strongest to me lean toward Stark or Lannister connections (or both).

I was persuaded by an old discussion somewhere in this forum that made the connection between the name "Craster" and "Casterly." Jon Snow also describes Craster's Compound as sitting on a pile of shit. This would match up with the "shit for honor" and "shits gold" attributes associated with Jaime and Tywin, respectively. 

Craster's grey / white hair seems like an allusion to the colors of House Stark. His "giving his seed" (baby sons) to the Others seems like a Night's King parallel, and Old Nan tells us that the Night's King was a Stark. Gilly asks Jon Snow to help her and her baby in much the same way that Lyanna apparently asked Ned to protect her baby son. Craster's mother's origins in White Tree provide an Old Gods foundation that adds to a Stark connection. 

If Craster were a dragonseed Targaryen (or a symbolic Targaryen), I think we would see GRRM work in some symbols that allude to that House: eggs, firey breath, serpents, scales, flying, silver hair, purple eyes, diamond teeth (or panes of glass), dragon bone, three heads, red and black, etc. But maybe others have seen subtle symbols that I missed. 

The closest links I see between Craster and House Targaryen are the incest, the cutting out of a messenger's tongue (Aerys has Ser Ilyn Payne's tongue removed) and possibly the rabbits that Gilly hoped to breed but that were killed by Jon Snow's direwolf. The rabbit connection is very tenuous: Brown Ben Plumm tells Dany that a man has to wear floppy ears to be king of he rabbits, so Dany wears a tokar when she presides in Meereen. Ben Plumm is probably descended from Targaryens (Princess Elaena and Aegon IV) and Dany is a legitimate Targaryen. 

By contrast, the parallels between Mance Rayder and Rhaegar have been widely discussed in this forum. His black cloak becomes red and black, he fathers a baby son by a woman who soon dies and he is both a skilled warrior and a harp player. He also seems to have a strong rapport with Jon Snow. His Abel undercover identity in Winterfell is linked to the Bale the Bard story but also to Baelor (name of a Targ king) and to Baelish (who I suspect is a Blackfyre or Targ descendant). 

It's possible that GRRM is using Craster as a symbol that brings together threads from the various ruling Houses - perhaps a sort of generic King-gone-bad character who embodies the decline of Westeros civilization. The fact that his son/grandson is called Monster may be a clue along these lines. A number of major characters give birth to children who are monsters: Catelyn's children are wargs; Dany is the mother of dragons (and stillborn Rhaego has wings and a tail, among other surprising features); Sansa tells the Tyrells that Joffrey is a monster. Tyrion and Ramsay probably also fit within the monster baby symbolism. Craster's sons becoming wites or white walkers or Others is probably part of this larger, shared monster-baby symbolism.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for the kind words!

4 hours ago, Seams said:

Although it's difficult to separate reality from imagination in the Tower of Joy flashback, I see Ned putting his "brotherhood" with Robert (soon to be the king) over his love for Lyanna - honor or duty over family. He does something similar when he leaves Winterfell to become Hand of the King - duty over family. I do not think Ned broke his marriage vow and fathered Jon Snow, so he didn't face a choice of duty over lust in that situation. (Although maybe I've misunderstood Mourning Star's point here. Maybe the line alludes to Ned setting aside his reported love for Ashara to dutifully accept the arranged marriage with Catelyn?) I do think Ned chose family (saving Sansa) over honor (holding Cersei accountable for treason) when he made his confession on he steps of he Great Sept. 

Obviously these events can, as you pointed out, be interpreted in different ways. These are my interpretations:

In relation to the Robert's Rebellion itself,

Ned choose love (the memory of a brother's smile) over his duty to Aerys.

Ned marries Cat out of duty, over pursuing Ashara. (a woman's love)

And at the Tower of Joy Ned chose love of his sister Lyanna over duty to Robert. (the feel of a newborn son in his arms)

These are the same three tests mentioned by Aemon. Ned wouldn't father a bastard, Ned would do what was right (while Aemon's lesson doesn't sound quiet right, even to himself by the end).

So while Ned allows duty to trump his own desires, he will sacrifice his own honor (and duty) for the sake of those he loves. This point is highlighted again when he is in the Black Cells, he is willing to sacrifice his own life for his honor but not Sansa's, and sacrifices his honor for his daughter's life.

"Then Lord Eddard is a man in ten thousand. Most of us are not so strong. What is honor compared to a woman's love? What is duty against the feel of a newborn son in your arms … or the memory of a brother's smile? Wind and words. Wind and words. We are only human, and the gods have fashioned us for love. That is our great glory, and our great tragedy.

Aemon, on the other hand, was not so strong, and I believe:

Gave up his honor for a woman's love.

Gave up his newborn son for duty.

And gave up on the vengeance for his family (memory of a brother's smile) for duty, although it seems he came to believe this was a mistake before the end.

I hope to get a chance to respond to the rest of your post here, but in the meantime I will leave one last fun bit about connection between Craster and the Targaryens, which I haven't been able to fully work out in my own head yet, so bear with me.

"Gilly, he called me. For the gillyflower."

A gillyflower can also be a wallflower.

A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness

She may not be a winter rose of Winterfell, but flowers grow where dragons fall.

Old fools and young malcontents still make pilgrimages to the Redgrass Field to plant flowers on the spot where Daemon Blackfyre fell. I will not suffer Whitewalls to become another monument to the Black Dragon.

And the Gilliflower smells of cloves.

"A midden heap with a roof and a firepit." Jon told Sam what he had seen and heard in Craster's Keep.
By the time the telling was done, it was dark outside and Sam was licking his fingers. "That was good, but now I'd like a leg of lamb. A whole leg, just for me, sauced with mint and honey and cloves. Did you see any lambs?"
"There was a sheepfold, but no sheep."

No sheep because Craster sacrifices them when he has no son to sacrifice.

Craster wears sheepskin, like Jon does when he is amongst the wildlings.

In fact, for the first three books, so far as I can tell, they are the only ones explicitly doing so, besides Ygritte who covers her red hair (touched by fire) in a sheepskin hat.

Craster sat above the fire, the only man to enjoy his own chair. Even Lord Commander Mormont must seat himself on the common bench, with his raven muttering on his shoulder. Jarman Buckwell stood behind, dripping from patched mail and shiny wet leather, beside Thoren Smallwood in the late Ser Jaremy's heavy breastplate and sable-trimmed cloak.
Craster's sheepskin jerkin and cloak of sewn skins made a shabby contrast, but around one thick wrist was a heavy ring that had the glint of gold. He looked to be a powerful man, though well into the winter of his days now, his mane of hair grey going to white. A flat nose and a drooping mouth gave him a cruel look, and one of his ears was missing. So this is a wildling. Jon remembered Old Nan's tales of the savage folk who drank blood from human skulls. Craster seemed to be drinking a thin yellow beer from a chipped stone cup. Perhaps he had not heard the stories.

Old Nan also told tales of Targaryens, not just the North.

"Be glad I didn't grudge you fire too." Craster was a thick man made thicker by the ragged smelly sheepskins he wore day and night. He had a broad flat nose, a mouth that drooped to one side, and a missing ear. And though his matted hair and tangled beard might be grey going white, his hard knuckly hands still looked strong enough to hurt.

And the very phrase, "midden heap" is, I believe, associated with kingly offspring.

The Night's Watch is a midden heap for all the misfits of the realm.

The Red Keep was full of cats: lazy old cats dozing in the sun, cold-eyed mousers twitching their tails, quick little kittens with claws like needles, ladies' cats all combed and trusting, ragged shadows prowling the midden heaps. One by one Arya had chased them down and snatched them up and brought them proudly to Syrio Forel … all but this one, this one-eared black devil of a tomcat. "That's the real king of this castle right there," 

What they found instead was a midden heap, a pigsty, an empty sheepfold, and a windowless daub-and-wattle hall scarce worthy of the name.

"A midden heap with a roof and a firepit." Jon told Sam what he had seen and heard in Craster's Keep.

"The midden heap you call King's Landing?"

Edited by Mourning Star

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I posted a theory about Targaryen superior blood. They do have special blood, that makes them immune to human diseases. I found evidences that those several exceptions to the rule presented in the "Doctrine of Exceptionalism" were faked.

Valarr and Matarys were not purebloods, in their DNA only 21% of genes were dragon-genes. King Daeron didn't died from the Great Spring Sickness, he died in the span of that spring, but he himself didn't had that sickness. Look carefully at the exact wording used by GRRM both in The Sworn Sword novel and in the World Book about Daeron's death. Aegon IV's death was caused by blood-magic. And the first case ever about a pureblooded Targaryen who died from a commoner's disease I explained here:

https://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/109496-a-compendium-of-theories-v2/&do=findComment&comment=8659062

Thus, if Craster is indeed a descendant of one of the Raven's Teeth and a dragonseed, then if Melisandre will sacrifice little Monster instead of Mance's son, the result will be the same, because Monster's blood is also special and has fire-magic in it, like the blood of all dragonseeds. Monster is approximately 1/32 dragonseed, same amount of dragon-genes as Brown Ben Plumm. And Ben's blood is enough for Dany's dragons to recognize him as their kin.

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