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AGOT Prologue Gared


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On 5/11/2021 at 7:37 AM, Lunabricot said:

The horses, I've forgotten about that! 

Yes, it seems like the Others wanted to let someone escape so he can spread the word. Pity we don't know what Gared said to Ned Stark.

Gar-ed functions as the symbolic messenger of the Others — a white raven (inverse raven = Ed-gar Allan Poe, nevar-more) heralding Winter’s advent (hat-tip @evita mgfs for the Gared/Edgar wordplay  that @Frey family reunion mentioned in this thread). 

As @Seams has pointed out, Gared, in having sacrificed his ear to frostbite, symbolically ‘has the ear of the Others’ (or perhaps they have his, more accurately?!);  i.e. he is privy to the words of Winter, as @Voice has poetically put it.  

Moreover, Gared recalls how he has “had the cold in [him],” conferring a surprising “eloquence”.  Hence, the ‘cold’ can be thought of as more than an inert element; it is a magical, transfiguring language or music (The Song Of Ice…).  I have argued previously that it is none other than a dialect of ‘the song of the earth’ or ‘True Tongue’ — a greenseeing faculty. 

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"Such eloquence, Gared," Ser Waymar observed. "I never suspected you had it in you."

"I've had the cold in me too, lordling." Gared pulled back his hood, giving Ser Waymar a good long look at the stumps where his ears had been. "Two ears, three toes, and the little finger off my left hand.

Note, ears as “stumps” may allude to a tree stump as well as compromised human limbs.  To my ear, there is an echo of both crippled Bran as well as Jaime post swordhand-stump receiving the pivotal greendream at the hinge of his ‘redemption arc,’ when he presses his head/ear to the weirwood stump! 

Accordingly, Gared is a symbolic skinchanger-greenseer or greenseer Hand.  Greenseeing is essentially arcane knowledge and hence manipulation of the language of nature (or, in other words, skinchanging the elements, as it were), but that doesn’t make him an actual greenseer, @Nadden

Basically, Gared as emissary of the Others came to deliver a message to the Warden of the North that “Winter is Coming”!  In other words, Ned failed to heed the words of his own house, and instead literally and figuratively ’went South’ from there (hat-tip @sweetsunray for the latter pun). 

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“He was the fourth this year," Ned said grimly. "The poor man was half-mad. Something had put a fear in him so deep that my words could not reach him." He sighed. "Ben writes that the strength of the Night's Watch is down below a thousand. It's not only desertions. They are losing men on rangings as well."

"Is it the wildlings?" she asked.

“Who else?" Ned lifted Ice, looked down the cool steel length of it…

“Who else?” Who Other indeed, he says, as he contemplates Ice! 

Ironically, it is Ned who couldn’t be reached by Gared’s words, not the other way around!  Ned cannot understand the True Tongue — “it was all meant for Brandon…,” you see: 

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“Brandon. Yes. Brandon would know what to do. He always did. It was all meant for Brandon. You, Winterfell, everything…”

Ned failed to hear the message and rashly killed the messenger of Winter — for which the karmic comeuppance paid was ultimately his own beheading by Ice. 
 
Whatever anyone else tells you, GRRM is not as touted “a grey author.”  In fact, he delights in casting moral judgment on his characters, as can be inferred by how he chooses to punish them in a manner uniquely befitting their ‘crimes.’

On 6/2/2021 at 12:24 AM, Nadden said:

I think you’re really onto something here. You have a few of the pieces and a good idea of what the picture looks like. To further your ideas I should point out that all of the weapons in the prologue match their owners like you pointed out with Gared. Like the other weapons in the Prologue each owner is actually symbolically the hilt of their weapon. And to add another piece to your puzzle I can tell you that the stump where Gared is beheaded is where lightning struck the Ironwood tree from the prologue. And because I can’t resist it and because I loved reading what you wrote another great little morsel is that Fat Tom and Desmond the two “guards”that dragged Gared symbolically lineup with the shaggy little garrons that Gared was guarding. 

please continue your reread’s. The word play and symbology will continue to bubble up and you will find some of the missing pieces for us.

Gared maybe the hilt of the dragonglass. Sam is symbolically the hilt of the dragon glass dagger he used to kill his Other. ASOS Samwell chapt.(I found that the torch in this chapter lined up with Gared. The one Grenn is holding). What do you think?

I would also love to read your piece on Jon’s obsidian dagger.

I just Realized looking back on this thread that there are quite a few people who have done lots of great analysis. Then I thought my tone came off as “a bit of a know it all.” Truth, I’ve spent a little bit of time analyzing a prologue and was excited to share. I’m a novice and I hope you’ll understand:) @Seams I read your Theon = Ice and I really liked it. There’s lots more sword stuff in the prologue. Waymar’s mouth being a “hard line”, gives the image of wear the blade inserts to the hilt:) 

The quote, “It was a splendid weapon, castle-forged, and new-made from the look of it.” and we find out later that the hilt had 3 sapphires, “Another produced a broken sword with three sapphires in the hilt.” (A Jon chapt. 58) This gives us evidence comparing both Waymar and his sword. Martin had to wait to give us his eye color. Eye color matches the gems. And we needed Waymar’s eyes to change. Gems also explain the “hard glitter” in Gared’s eyes. Lastly, There’s a Samwell chapter when he uses the dragonglass to kill the WW that explains and points to sword owners symbolically representing their hilt. Here’s the quote, “Dolorous Edd had said, “I knew a man once who wore his sword on a chain around his neck like that. One day he stumbled, and the hilt went up his nose.” 

That’s a good catch, namely that people can function as hilts not only blades! 

So if “sorcery is a sword without a hilt… [having] no safe way to grasp it,” then perhaps there are certain characters who can facilitate the flow of magic by serving as magical conduits.  

It’s likely that what is involved is a skinchanger-host duo, analogous to how Euron ‘piggy-backs’ on the efforts of the dragonhorn-blower, who is sacrificed in the process.  

My impression is that ‘handling’ of another person in this manner — by turning them into a weapon handle, additionally referencing GRRM’s recurrent theme of ‘Corpse-handling’ in previous works, as @The Fattest Leech has taught me — would constitute an abomination (hilt hilt it rhymes with guilt…); particularly judging by Ned Stark’s famous admonition that “the man who passes the sentence should [also] swing the sword.”  When Bran skinchanges Hodor, for example, Hodor is functioning as the hilt while Bran’s mind is the sword. 

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Jon slid his new dagger from its sheath and studied the flames as they played against the shiny black glass. He had fashioned the wooden hilt himself, and wound hempen twine around it to make a grip. Ugly, but it served. Dolorous Edd opined that glass knives were about as useful as nipples on a knight's breastplate, but Jon was not so certain. The dragonglass blade was sharper than steel, albeit far more brittle.

It must have been buried for a reason.

A wooden hilt could represent the weirwood, which would then be a reversal of the relationships in my outline above.

The hilt — or weirnet Bran — controls a dragon blade (Jon, or perhaps actual dragon to be warged by Bran).  @By Odin's Beard what do you think?

As I’ve discussed with @Wizz-The-Smith and @LynnS, the icy Wall itself is described as “a sword to the east and snake to the west” — i.e. the Wall itself is a sword without a hilt!  

The treacherous, rolling, meandering course to the west is created by the underlying foundation of ‘hollow hills’ and speculated associated guiding line of weirwoods (Cheers, Wizz!) upon which the Wall was built.  Therefore, the hilt or anchor capable of grounding the ice blade might very well be the weirnet.  Again, a person as hilt, specifically a greenseer, is suggested by the talking tree-man embedded in the Black Gate.

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A Storm of Swords - Jon IV

The Wall was often said to stand seven hundred feet high, but Jarl had found a place where it was both higher and lower. Before them, the ice rose sheer from out of the trees

…like a blade rises from the hilt in which it is embedded…

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…like some immense cliff, crowned by wind-carved battlements that loomed at least eight hundred feet high, perhaps nine hundred in spots. But that was deceptive, Jon realized as they drew closer. Brandon the Builder had laid his huge foundation blocks along the heights wherever feasible, and hereabouts the hills rose wild and rugged.

He had once heard his uncle Benjen say that the Wall was a sword east of Castle Black, but a snake to the west. It was true. Sweeping in over one huge humped hill, the ice dipped down into a valley, climbed the knife edge of a long granite ridgeline for a league or more, ran along a jagged crest, dipped again into a valley deeper still, and then rose higher and higher, leaping from hill to hill as far as the eye could see, into the mountainous west.

The turns of phrase “climbed the knife edge” and “leaping from hill to hill as far as the eye could see” is coded language for greenseers, epitomised by Bran(don) Stark, the ‘eye’ in question symbolising the 3rd eye of greenseeing!

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Jarl had chosen to assault the stretch of ice along the ridge. Here, though the top of the Wall loomed eight hundred feet above the forest floor, a good third of that height was earth and stone rather than ice; the slope was too steep for their horses, almost as difficult a scramble as the Fist of the First Men, but still vastly easier to ascend than the sheer vertical face of the Wall itself. And the ridge was densely wooded as well, offering easy concealment. Once brothers in black had gone out every day with axes to cut back the encroaching trees, but those days were long past, and here the forest grew right up to the ice.

‘Hilt/holt’ (=wood/forest) & blade (=ice). 

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Old English holt "woods, forest, grove, thicket," common in place names, from Proto-Germanic *hultam- (source also of Old Frisian, Old Norse, Middle Dutch holt, Dutch hout, German Holz "a wood, wood as timber"), from PIE *kldo- (source also of Old Church Slavonic klada "beam, timber;" Russian koloda, Lithuanian kalada "block of wood, log;" Greek klados "twig;" Old Irish caill"wood"), from root *kel- "to strike, cut."

The sword-hilt configuration at the Wall is reminiscent of the imagery in the scene showing how Bran uses the sentinel tree in the godswood as a foothold to gain access to the Tower in AGOT:

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A Game of Thrones - Bran II

He knew two ways to get there. You could climb straight up the side of the tower itself, but the stones were loose, the mortar that held them together long gone to ash, and Bran never liked to put his full weight on them.

The best way was to start from the godswood, shinny up the tall sentinel, and cross over the armory and the guards hall, leaping roof to roof, barefoot so the guards wouldn't hear you overhead. That brought you up to the blind side of the First Keep, the oldest part of the castle, a squat round fortress that was taller than it looked. Only rats and spiders lived there now but the old stones still made for good climbing. You could go straight up to where the gargoyles leaned out blindly over empty space, and swing from gargoyle to gargoyle, hand over hand, around to the north side.

Is “swinging from gargoyle to gargoyle” the equivalent of swinging a dragonsteel sword?

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From there, if you really stretched, you could reach out and pull yourself over to the broken tower where it leaned close. The last part was the scramble up the blackened stones to the eyrie, no more than ten feet, and then the crows would come round to see if you'd brought any corn.

Bran was moving from gargoyle to gargoyle with the ease of long practice when he heard the voices…

We can now appreciate how swinging the sword by means of a wooden hilt thereby provides access to a secret language, or forbidden, “terrible knowledge”…!

Bran is always overhearing people, foreshadowing his greenseer fate:

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A Game of Thrones - Bran VI

Harrion Karstark, the oldest of Lord Rickard's sons, bowed, and his brothers after him, yet as they settled back in their places he heard the younger two talking in low voices, over the clatter of wine cups. "… sooner die than live like that," muttered one, his father's namesake Eddard, and his brother Torrhen said likely the boy was broken inside as well as out, too craven to take his own life.

Broken, Bran thought bitterly as he clutched his knife. Is that what he was now? Bran the Broken? "I don't want to be broken," he whispered fiercely to Maester Luwin, who'd been seated to his right. "I want to be a knight."

"There are some who call my order the knights of the mind," Luwin replied. "You are a surpassing clever boy when you work at it, Bran. Have you ever thought that you might wear a maester's chain? There is no limit to what you might learn."

Bran is a broken knife/sword, who having lost his original hilt (= his legs grounding him to the earth and facilitating the exercise of his will in the ‘usual’ mundane manner) must now learn a new-old way of “singing the song of earth”…. ‘Singing/swinging’ is another key (s)wordplay.

Broken, Bran is now in need of fashioning a new hilt to enable him to s(w)ing that (s)word — symbolically synonymous with ‘"You will never walk again, Bran," the pale lips promised, "but you will fly"’.

The tree is the link which provides the grounding and bridging in lieu of his lost legs.  

That said, the connection forged between hilt and blade is nevertheless a fraught one, as hinted in the name and associated sigil of ‘Hellholt.’

On 6/7/2021 at 3:54 AM, Nadden said:

Branches stirred gently in the wind, scratching at one another with wooden fingers. Will opened his mouth to call down a warning, and the words seemed to freeze in his throat. Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps it had only been a bird, a reflection on the snow, some trick of the moonlight.

A Reflection on the snow would have been a shadow. Raven like:) A symbolic raven. 

By some theories, the Others can be interpreted as the icy reflections/projections of greenseers (as echoed by symbolic ravens like Bloodraven or Bran, which means ‘raven’). 

In the Prologue, Will up-the-tree functions as a symbolic greenseer who, however inadvertently, summons the Others with his whispered prayer, as I elaborated in my essay ‘The Killing Word’ parsing the Prologue.  The “emerge[nce]” of the Others “from the dark of the wood” can be conceptualised as his materialised will(power)…Get it? Will/will! 

Related, a recent post by @Tucu cited this apposite quote:

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A Dance with Dragons - Tyrion V

"The Bridge of Dream," said Tyrion.

"Inconceivable," said Haldon Halfmaester. "We've left the bridge behind. Rivers only run one way."

"Mother Rhoyne runs how she will," murmured Yandry.

I agree completely with @evita mgfs’s brilliant assessment that the constellation of the three brothers in the Prologue all representing antecedent authors is a meta-commentary on GRRM’s ethos, as a writer himself following in their footsteps, surrounding the creative power of words.  In the same vein, the weirnet is likened to a library.

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 “A harp can be as dangerous as a sword, in the right hands.”

— GRRM via Littlefinger, ASOS Sansa VI

 

So, let’s end as it began (“we should start back…” hat-tip @Rusted Revolver) — with Will…

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“The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,

Doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to heaven.

And as imagination bodies forth

The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen

Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing

A local habitation and a name.

Such tricks hath strong imagination,

That if it would but apprehend some joy,

It comprehends some bringer of that joy.

Or in the night, imagining some fear,

How easy is a bush supposed a bear!”

But all the story of the night told over,

And all their minds transfigured so together,

More witnesseth than fancy’s images

And grows to something of great constancy,

But, howsoever, strange and admirable.”

— WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Edited by ravenous reader
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@ravenous reader

Waymar--In gaelic, uaimh means "den, cave, hollow, crypt, grotto, grave";  uamharr means "horror, dreadful, terrible, abominable, morose" and "proud, arrogant";  uaim means "union or conjunction" or "to join";   uime means "about him, around him"; uam means "from me" or "wanted by me"; 

Royce--In gaelic rois means "wood or copse, often the site of an old cemetery" and la an ruis means "Day of Judgment";  and several words beginning with ros or ruis mean "to peel" (roose the flayer);  rosc means "eye" and ros means "rose" and riochd means "ghost, person of wan appearance" and "impersonating" or "substituting"

 

The greenseer in a tree cave/grave/crypt sends the dreadful, terrible white walkers, the Others are a Kingsguard that guard the greenseer, Waymar is killed and forced to join the army of the undead, and his skin is now being worn by the greenseer/necromancer, Waymar gets the one-eye stigmata of Odin so that we know who controls him now (Bloodraven and/or the weirwood network in general--the Gods Eye is the One-Eye also).  Waymar is chosen because of his likeness to Jon Snow, the Ghost / the blue rose of Winterfell--he is a substitution for Jon Snow. 

In Norse mythology, Odin is the Valfoder ("Father of the Slain") and commands an army of the undead; the Einherjar who are much like the Night's Watch, who train for battle each day and eat at the Val-hall each night, and wait and watch for the appearance of the Fenris-wolf that signals the end of days has arrived. (in gaelic falla mean "wall", faol means "wild wolf").  The Lord Commander of the Nights Watch is like Odin with his raven, and Jon becomes Lord Commander after Mormont dies.

 

The Others are waiting for the appearance of the White Wolf to lead them, Jon Snow/Jack Frost.  (it just occurs to me that Ygritte tries to get Jon to live in a cave forever--a red and white colored woman with a name that starts with Yg (as in Yggdrasil)--Jon takes a symbolic weirwood woman to wife and she wants him to live in a cave forever, like a greenseer.  And Melisandre is another weirwood woman, she impersonates Ygritte and wants to make Shadow Sword / White Walkers with Jon)

 

Gared--In gaelic gairide means "laughing";  gairid means "near or close";   gair means "cry or crow";  gairm [GRRM] means "crow" (and cro means "eye" and "death" and "ring" and "crow" and "prison");  garraide/garrda means "guard, garrison, sentry";  and garrda means "garth, garden, enclosure"; and garran means "a grove of trees"; and garrad means "to hurry"

The White Walkers are guardians of the garth--they are projections of the weirwood trees (and the crow) that protect the grove. 

 

Will--uill means "all, whole" and "great, vast, mighty, big-hearted";  uil-ice means "mistletoe" and several phrases beginning with uil mean "almighty" "omnipotent" and "holocaust";  wyll means "ghost, fiend" in Welsh.  (Jon's mother is "Wylla")

The druids believed that the mistletoe fell from outer space and landed in the tree and had magical abilities, and the druids sacrificed a white bull (white bole) under the tree that had mistletoe in it.

Will is high up in a tree observing the White Walkers.  He is a crow inside a weirwood tree watching the world.  The Ghost in the weirwood network controlling the White Walkers.

 

 

Here is something, the Kingsguard was founded by Aegon and Visenya.  Aeg sounds like Ygg (as Lml has noted), and in Old Norse Visenda-tre means "tree of knowledge" and Rhaenys, In Old Norse reynir / reyni means "rowan tree" / "witchwood" / "mountain ash" and Yggdrasil was a mountain ash, (rowan is also spelled royne)

They all have Yggdrasil-related names, and they created the Kingsguard who are a metaphor for the Others.  The Kingsguard stay in a white tower filled with weirwood artifacts, adjoined to a red castle.  Red and white castle with white knights guarding the King.

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Posted (edited)

 

How about this for “Waymar”? Royce marred the way when he did this…, ““Gods!” he heard behind him. A sword slashed at a branch as Ser Waymar Royce gained the ridge. He stood there beside the sentinel, longsword in hand, his cloak billowing behind him as the wind came up, outlined nobly against the stars for all to see.” Should take the lords name in vain:)

For fun picture this: The sentinel tree is Lord Sauron (“branches grabbed at his longsword and tugged on his splendid sable cloak”.) and Waymar is Isildur. Waymar’s broken sword makes a nice stand in for Narsil. Waymar cuts the “ring” from the sentinel’s finger:) Guess who the ring is….??? The ring is found by somebody who lives along time in a cave(Golem/Bloodraven). Uncle (Bilbo/ Benjen) gives the “ring” to (Frodo/Jon), who both happen to have a friend named Sam. Later, they meet up with (Pippin/Pyp) and (Merry/Grenn?) and go on a (grand quest/great ranging). The answer: Ghost!:)

To further the metaphor: (Sauron/ Sentinel tree) Has his spirit leave him and is now represented by a “Burning blue eye”. 

The Two Trees of Valinor Laurelin and Telperion(Sun and Moon)/Ironwood tree and Sentinel Tree? (From AGOT prologue)

The Destrier(From the prologue)/Ungoliant the giant spider. The Destrier was tied to it when it got struck by lightning (I’m sure that stung)and became the stump and ironwood bridge. His entrails were hanging out later in ASOS.

Melkor / Other??

Mirkwood/ Haunted forest??

Soooo …..all Jon needs to do is take “Ghost to Mount Doom”.

 
  • Here in the World of ICE and Fire. The trees are often viewed as old Gods. In the LOTR Sauron, a Lieutenant of Morgoth, is a Maia. Maia being a spirit that descended to Arda to help shape the world in the LOTR. And Martin has created the imagery of the tree reaching down to grab at Waymar. Much like Sauron is reaching down toward Isildur at the end scene of the battle of the Last Alliance in the LOTR. Isildur, like Waymar, slashes at the hand of Sauron. Albeit, Isildur’s slashing would seem more desperate. But you’ve reminded me that I should’ve pointed out that the sentinel trees in the prologue symbolically deliver Ghost. Here’s a passage from chapter 18 ASOS where Ghost is the plop of snow. “The lower branches of the great green sentinel shed their burden of snow with a soft wet plop.” It would be a lengthy discussion to explain in detail why Ghost lines up with this scene in ASOS but if you except that than the rest of the OP is fun to consider. But the metaphor begins with Ghost as the ring on Sauron’s finger. I should have explained that better in my OP. Thx
Edited by Nadden
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On 5/4/2021 at 3:32 PM, Nadden said:

 

I am following the story arc of Gared, the first character we are introduced to, from the AGOT prologue. We see that he left the Wall approximately nine days prior to arriving at the Wildling‘s camp. We also learned later that he had visited Craster’s keep a day before arriving at the Wildings camps. After Ser Waymar Royce and Will are killed, reading the obvious clues, we see that Gared was apprehended south of the wall near Winterfell. He was considered a deserter and beheaded. His head was, later, sent to Jeor Mormont at the Wall. 
 

Are there any theories out there about the tension between Waymar and Gared. I believe that it is more than just a general dislike of one another. I believe something happened at Craster’s keep.
 

Also, can anyone prove that Gared has the ability to warg?

I’ve developed, a complete (albeit some holes), interesting, and  detailed story arc for Gared. 
 

Is anyone interested in taking a short journey of discovery with me? 
 

I can start by telling you 2 things Gared is absolutely connected to the dead Direwolf found after his beheading and that he returned to Craster’s keep.

I feel like the pattern of his story arc is very revealing to the overall patterns of the series. And the archetype of his character reveals and/or supports the missing pieces of the histories and legends that so many people of the fandom have already revealed.

Update! When the 3 rangers stopped at Craster’s Waymar revealed the fact that he had a “Black steel sword”. Here’s the quote by Craster talking to Lord Mormont: “Aye, those three I recall. The lordling no older than one of these pups. Too proud to sleep under my roof, him in his sable cloak and black steel.” Waymar must have unsheathed his sword at some point while he was there. Why? I’m not sure. I could use some help discovering that. But I can tell you with some certainty that this is the root of the conflict between Gared and Waymar. Read this quote: “Gared says they were chasing raiders. I told him, with a commander that green, best not catch ’em. Gared seems to be taking Craster’s side in the dispute. Is this line telling us that Waymar took off ahead or is Craster simply referring to the raiders. Regardless, Craster says Gared isn’t half-bad. They certainly seem to have been getting along. The question changes: What happened at Craster’s ( please textual support)

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On 6/27/2021 at 12:22 PM, ravenous reader said:

Gar-ed functions as the symbolic messenger of the Others — a white raven (inverse raven = Ed-gar Allan Poe, nevar-more) heralding Winter’s advent (hat-tip @evita mgfs for the Gared/Edgar wordplay  that @Frey family reunion mentioned in this thread). 

As @Seams has pointed out, Gared, in having sacrificed his ear to frostbite, symbolically ‘has the ear of the Others’ (or perhaps they have his, more accurately?!);  i.e. he is privy to the words of Winter, as @Voice has poetically put it.  

Moreover, Gared recalls how he has “had the cold in [him],” conferring a surprising “eloquence”.  Hence, the ‘cold’ can be thought of as more than an inert element; it is a magical, transfiguring language or music (The Song Of Ice…).  I have argued previously that it is none other than a dialect of ‘the song of the earth’ or ‘True Tongue’ — a greenseeing faculty. 

Note, ears as “stumps” may allude to a tree stump as well as compromised human limbs.  To my ear, there is an echo of both crippled Bran as well as Jaime post swordhand-stump receiving the pivotal greendream at the hinge of his ‘redemption arc,’ when he presses his head/ear to the weirwood stump! 

Accordingly, Gared is a symbolic skinchanger-greenseer or greenseer Hand.  Greenseeing is essentially arcane knowledge and hence manipulation of the language of nature (or, in other words, skinchanging the elements, as it were), but that doesn’t make him an actual greenseer, @Nadden

Basically, Gared as emissary of the Others came to deliver a message to the Warden of the North that “Winter is Coming”!  In other words, Ned failed to heed the words of his own house, and instead literally and figuratively ’went South’ from there (hat-tip @sweetsunray for the latter pun). 

“Who else?” Who Other indeed, he says, as he contemplates Ice! 

Ironically, it is Ned who couldn’t be reached by Gared’s words, not the other way around!  Ned cannot understand the True Tongue — “it was all meant for Brandon…,” you see: 

Ned failed to hear the message and rashly killed the messenger of Winter — for which the karmic comeuppance paid was ultimately his own beheading by Ice. 
 
Whatever anyone else tells you, GRRM is not as touted “a grey author.”  In fact, he delights in casting moral judgment on his characters, as can be inferred by how he chooses to punish them in a manner uniquely befitting their ‘crimes.’

That’s a good catch, namely that people can function as hilts not only blades! 

So if “sorcery is a sword without a hilt… [having] no safe way to grasp it,” then perhaps there are certain characters who can facilitate the flow of magic by serving as magical conduits.  

It’s likely that what is involved is a skinchanger-host duo, analogous to how Euron ‘piggy-backs’ on the efforts of the dragonhorn-blower, who is sacrificed in the process.  

My impression is that ‘handling’ of another person in this manner — by turning them into a weapon handle, additionally referencing GRRM’s recurrent theme of ‘Corpse-handling’ in previous works, as @The Fattest Leech has taught me — would constitute an abomination (hilt hilt it rhymes with guilt…); particularly judging by Ned Stark’s famous admonition that “the man who passes the sentence should [also] swing the sword.”  When Bran skinchanges Hodor, for example, Hodor is functioning as the hilt while Bran’s mind is the sword. 

A wooden hilt could represent the weirwood, which would then be a reversal of the relationships in my outline above.

The hilt — or weirnet Bran — controls a dragon blade (Jon, or perhaps actual dragon to be warged by Bran).  @By Odin's Beard what do you think?

As I’ve discussed with @Wizz-The-Smith and @LynnS, the icy Wall itself is described as “a sword to the east and snake to the west” — i.e. the Wall itself is a sword without a hilt!  

The treacherous, rolling, meandering course to the west is created by the underlying foundation of ‘hollow hills’ and speculated associated guiding line of weirwoods (Cheers, Wizz!) upon which the Wall was built.  Therefore, the hilt or anchor capable of grounding the ice blade might very well be the weirnet.  Again, a person as hilt, specifically a greenseer, is suggested by the talking tree-man embedded in the Black Gate.

…like a blade rises from the hilt in which it is embedded…

The turns of phrase “climbed the knife edge” and “leaping from hill to hill as far as the eye could see” is coded language for greenseers, epitomised by Bran(don) Stark, the ‘eye’ in question symbolising the 3rd eye of greenseeing!

‘Hilt/holt’ (=wood/forest) & blade (=ice). 

The sword-hilt configuration at the Wall is reminiscent of the imagery in the scene showing how Bran uses the sentinel tree in the godswood as a foothold to gain access to the Tower in AGOT:

Is “swinging from gargoyle to gargoyle” the equivalent of swinging a dragonsteel sword?

We can now appreciate how swinging the sword by means of a wooden hilt thereby provides access to a secret language, or forbidden, “terrible knowledge”…!

Bran is always overhearing people, foreshadowing his greenseer fate:

Bran is a broken knife/sword, who having lost his original hilt (= his legs grounding him to the earth and facilitating the exercise of his will in the ‘usual’ mundane manner) must now learn a new-old way of “singing the song of earth”…. ‘Singing/swinging’ is another key (s)wordplay.

Broken, Bran is now in need of fashioning a new hilt to enable him to s(w)ing that (s)word — symbolically synonymous with ‘"You will never walk again, Bran," the pale lips promised, "but you will fly"’.

The tree is the link which provides the grounding and bridging in lieu of his lost legs.  

That said, the connection forged between hilt and blade is nevertheless a fraught one, as hinted in the name and associated sigil of ‘Hellholt.’

By some theories, the Others can be interpreted as the icy reflections/projections of greenseers (as echoed by symbolic ravens like Bloodraven or Bran, which means ‘raven’). 

In the Prologue, Will up-the-tree functions as a symbolic greenseer who, however inadvertently, summons the Others with his whispered prayer, as I elaborated in my essay ‘The Killing Word’ parsing the Prologue.  The “emerge[nce]” of the Others “from the dark of the wood” can be conceptualised as his materialised will(power)…Get it? Will/will! 

Related, a recent post by @Tucu cited this apposite quote:

I agree completely with @evita mgfs’s brilliant assessment that the constellation of the three brothers in the Prologue all representing antecedent authors is a meta-commentary on GRRM’s ethos, as a writer himself following in their footsteps, surrounding the creative power of words.  In the same vein, the weirnet is likened to a library.

 

So, let’s end as it began (“we should start back…” hat-tip @Rusted Revolver) — with Will…

— WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Here a nice quote in ASOS Chapt. 18, “Dolorous Edd had said, “I knew a man once who wore his sword on a chain around his neck like that. One day he stumbled, and the hilt went up his nose.”…….this is the quote that led me to consider that hilts could personify their owner.

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