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Swan Song part 3/16. Larra Rogare - a chameleon and a cat-woman

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In my opinion, Larra Rogare is one of the most controversial characters that were created by GRRM. My unraveling of her mystery began when I noticed that there’s an inconsistency in AWOIAF-Wikia about Larra’s death. I thought that it’s kind of weird that Larra supposedly died in 145 AC, because at that time she was only 30 years old. Then I was reading about Aegon IV and his mistresses and thought that maybe he was so promiscuous because he was trying to fill in a gap in his heart, which was caused by his mother abandoning him when he was a child. I noted that out of Aegon’s nine mistresses, Serenei of Lys looked the most similar to his mother. In So Spake Martin GRRM shared this information about Serenei:

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Lady Shiera was the natural daughter of King Aegon IV by the ninth and last of his mistresses, Lady Serenei of Lys, the last daughter of an ancient but impoverished line of Valyrian nobility. “Sweet Serenei,” Aegon called her, but about his court she was considered cold and haughty, and some said that she was much older than the king, and preserved her beauty by the practice of dark arts. Considered by many the most lovely of Aegon’s mistresses, Sweet Serenei died in childbed, bringing forth the last of the king’s “Great Bastards,” the daughter she named Shiera, Star of the Sea.

And in The Sworn Sword novel there was this:

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“You’ve known queens and princesses. Did they dance with demons and practice the black arts?”

“Lady Shiera does. Lord Bloodraven’s paramour. She bathes in blood to keep her beauty.”

Based on that information, it seems that both Shiera and her mother were bloodmages, and that by bathing in blood they stopped their aging processes. When I looked again at Larra’s and Serenei’s portraits in TWOIAF, this time more attentively, I realized that they don’t just look alike, they are THE SAME PERSON. And I haven’t realized this before, because I was under the impression that Larra died many years before Serenei’s arrival to Aegon’s court.

The Portraits

These elements of their looks are the same: the color of eyes and the color of hair, the hair is long and slightly wavy; shape of eyes, cheekbones, noses, lips, chins, ears (not pierced in both cases). Larra and Serenei’s hairlines are identical - the forehead on three sides is framed by the hairline into what looks like an upper part of a heart, with downward peak and two arches. The peake is situated slightly to the left off the forehead’s centre, and the hair’s partition goes upwards from that peak. The right arch is slightly higher than the left, and broader. On the heart’s left arch there are two locks of hair that grow slightly lower than the main hairline. On Larra’s portrait one of those locks is hanging loose in front of her left ear, but the second lock, which grows from the middle of the left arch, is drawn back and upwards with the rest of her hair, to keep it off Larra’s face. Serenei’s hair is gathered on top of her head and shaped into a bun, though several locks are hanging down, framing sides of her face, including one lock near her left ear, and a loose lock that grows from the middle of the heart’s left arch and goes down past far corner of her left eye.

Various types of hairlines are broadly divided into several general categories, though each person’s hairline is as unique as fingerprints.

So, based on their portraits, Larra and Serenei is the same person. And there are also other facts, known about those two women, which also support this possibility.

The Patterns

Both Larra and Serenei were from Lys.

Serenei was “the last daughter of an ancient but impoverished line of Valyrian nobility”. By the time when she arrived to Aegon’s court, Lysandro Rogare’s children (all except one) had already died from old age and other causes. House Rogare is an ancient but impoverished line of Valyrian nobility. They became impoverished after Larra’s mother - Johanna Swann - robbed their bank.

Their behavior at Targaryen court was also similar:

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“Sweet Serenei,” Aegon called her, but about his court she was considered cold and haughty.

Though the court and city still doted on the king’s brother, that clever, gallant boy Viserys, the same could not be said for his Lysene wife. Larra Rogare had taken up residence in the Red Keep with her husband, yet in her heart she remained a lady of Lys. Though fluent in High Valyrian and the dialects of Myr, Tyrosh, and Old Volantis in addition to her own Lysene tongue, Lady Larra made no effort to learn the Common Tongue, preferring to rely upon translators to make her wishes known. Her ladies were all Lyseni, as were her servants. - F&B.

Cats and Blood in Twilight

This information implies that Larra was a cat-skinchanger, a shadowbinder, and a bloodmage:

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All this the court and kingdom might have come to accept in time, had Lady Larra not also insisted upon keeping her own gods. She would have no part in the worship of the Seven, nor the old gods of the northmen. Her worship was reserved for certain of the manifold gods of Lys: the six-breasted cat goddess Pantera, Yndros of the Twilight who was male by day and female by night, the pale child Bakkalon of the Sword, faceless Saagael, the giver of pain.

Her ladies, her servants, and her guards would join Lady Larra at certain times in performing obeisances to these queer, ancient deities. Cats were seen coming and going from her chambers so often that men began to say they were her spies, purring at her in soft voices of all the doings of the Red Keep. It was even said that Larra herself could transform into a cat, to prowl the gutters and rooftops of the city. Darker rumors soon arose. The acolytes of Yndros could supposedly transform themselves from male to female and female to male through the act of love, and whispers went about that her ladyship oft availed herself of this ability at twilight orgies, so she might visit the brothels on the Street of Silk as a man. And every time a child went missing, the ignorant would look at one another and talk of Saagael’s insatiable thirst for blood. - F&B, The Lyseni Spring.

If you haven’t read the previous part of the “Swan Song”, then you should read it now, otherwise the next part of this post won’t make any sense to you.

The Prisoner in a Golden Cage

I think that Lysandro Rogare distrusted Larra and her mother and thus, even though he allowed Larra to go with her husband to the 7K, he was keeping her on a short leash. The Lyseni that were in Larra’s entorage, all were Lysandro’s agents - “Her ladies were all Lyseni, as were her servants.”

Larra’s Lyseni guards were actually her jailers, so even though Lysandro was separated from her by the Narrow Sea, nevertheless Larra was his prisoner, kept under watch 24/7 - “Lysene swords guarded her night and day, under the command of her brother Moredo”. They stalked her even when she went to pray - “Her ladies, her servants, and her guards would join Lady Larra at certain times in performing obeisances to these queer, ancient deities.”

Lysandro gave orders to his people not to allow Larra to get close to anyone else at the Targaryen court. Or else she could have asked them to help her to get free from her father’s tyranny. And thus the language barrier was used to separate her from the other people at court. Though I think that Larra was not only fluent in the five languages mentioned above, she also knew the Common Tongue, because her mother had taught it to her in secret from Lysandro.

Nearly all aspects of Larra’s life were controlled by Lysandro - “The gowns she wore all came from Lys, even her smallclothes; her father’s ships delivered the latest Lysene fashions to her thrice a year.” Maybe those ships delivered to Larra not only her new clothes, but also a reminder that her mother is still owned by Lysandro - a prized pet kept prisoner in a golden cage.

Never Underestimate Cats

Across the Narrow Sea the Lys was prospering under Lysandro’s “velvet tyranny”. Drazenko’s ties to Sunspear and Lysandro’s to the Iron Throne made the Rogares the princes of Lys in all but name. The ascendancy of House Rogare reached its apex. It seemed that all of Lysandro’s plans succeeded. Though, in the end his House was brought down by Lysandro himself, because of one small mistake.

He shouldn’t have thought that his prized pets, Johanna and Larra, got completely tamed by him and thus can’t do anything against their Master. He shouldn’t have underestimated his women, because they were cat-women, and even though cats may look harmless, nevertheless they are predators. Felines are stealthy and diligent hunters, and thus can catch unaware even high-flying birds such as “Magister for Life” and “Lord of the Stepstones”. When Lysandro and Drazenko flew down to perch on the thrones of their success, the catspaws got them.

Her Mother’s Shadow

I think that Larra’s only true servant and protector was Sandoq the Shadow.

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Sandoq the Shadow had come from Lys with Lady Larra, a gift from her father the Magister Lysandro. Black of skin and black of hair, he stood almost seven feet tall. His face, which he oft kept hidden behind a black silk veil, was a mass of thin white scars, and his lips and tongue had been removed, leaving him both mute and hideous to look upon. It was said of him that he had been the victor of a hundred fights in the death pits of Meereen, that he had once torn out the throat of a foe with his teeth after his sword had shattered, that he drank the blood of the men he killed, that in the pits he had slain lions, bears, wolves, and wyverns with no weapon but the stones he found upon the sands.

Such tales grow in the telling, to be sure, and we cannot know how much of this, if any, is to be believed. Though Sandoq could not read or write, Mushroom tells us he was fond of music, and would oft sit in the shadows of Lady Larra’s bedchamber playing sweet sad notes on a queer stringed instrument of goldenheart and ebony that stood near as tall as he did. “I could sometimes make the lady laugh, though she did not understand more than a few words of our tongue,” the fool says, “but the Shadow’s playing always made her weep, and strange to say she liked that better.” - F&B.

Could be that Sandoq was Larra’s farewell present from her mother, not a gift from Lysandro. Also it seems that Larra too was her mother’s “shadow”, because as soon as Johanna got rid of Rogares at Lys, Larra followed in her mother’s footsteps, and with the help of her husband did the same at King’s Landing.

The Poisoning

It seems that Larra and Viserys convinced Gaemon Palehair to help them to poison King Aegon III. Could be that Gaemon believed that he was Aegon II’s child, or maybe he really was. And maybe he blamed the younger Aegon for his father’s poisoning, thus - an eye for an eye. Gaemon was only 9 years old at that time, so it wasn’t hard for Larra and Viserys to manipulate him into doing what they wanted. When Aegon died, his body was shadow-glamoured to look like Gaemon’s corpse.

After Gaemon’s supposed death Aegon became silent and “seemed to lose all interest in his court and kingdom”, “locked himself in his chambers to brood for days on end”, “came to dislike being touched - even by the hand of his beautiful queen. Even after she had flowered, he was long in calling her to his bed” - because in the years after 135 AC Aegon was impersonated by Gaemon (and sometimes by Larra or Viserys). He was several years younger than the real Aegon, and thus was unable to have sex until years later. Also, he was mostly staying away from people’s eyes, locked in Aegon’s chambers, to prevent anyone from seeing him when he wasn’t wearing his shadow-glamour. And the touching part, as proven by the duel between Jon and the shadow-Rattleshirt, can create interference in the illusion of the shadow-glamour, which is projected from the shadow-artifact to the shadow’s wearer. Thus, the shadow-Aegon was avoiding unnecessary touches as much as possible.

The Secret Siege

In the Fire & Blood GRRM gave multiple hints about what was actually happening.

The arrest of Rogares at Westeros was ordered by someone unknown - “At first it was widely assumed that the Hand had ordered their arrest. … This misapprehension lasted only a few hours, for that very evening Lord Rowan himself joined the Rogares in captivity”.

The guards seized Rogare-brothers, but when they came to take Larra, Viserys was prepared, because he knew beforehand that this will happen. And Sandoq the Shadow was there to protect Larra. At this point in time the real Aegon was already dead - “The king took him by the shoulder and drew him back into the safety of the holdfast, and a shadow stepped onto the drawbridge.”

During the Secret Siege Aegon was impersonated by Larra - “Sandoq is no beast,” he answered from the battlements. “He cannot speak, but he hears and he obeys.”, “Gaemon was as guilty as the rest of us”, “in that moment, the broken boy Aegon III seemed every inch a king”.

And during the subsequent trials after the siege Aegon was impersonated by Gaemon. He attended only the trials of Gareth Long, George Graceford, and Septon Bernard, because he had a grudge against those three.

Someone in shadow-glamour was impersonating Marston Waters, while meeting with Lord Graceford, Tessario the Thumb and the others, to set him up as one of the main conspirators. And then Marston was killed, to prevent him from proving that he wasn’t participating in any conspiracies. “Lord Graceford had named Ser Marston as one of the conspirators as well, insisting that “that bloody turncloak” had been with them from the start, a charge Waters was no longer able to dispute.”

Larra set up her brothers as scapegoats, to get out from under their control:

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The “player in the shadows”.

The women were women.

There beneath the shadow of the empty Iron Throne (for King Aegon did not choose to come to court), the lords attempted to choose new regents to rule until His Grace could come of age.

What Larra of Lys thought of the Hand’s justice neither Mushroom nor the court chronicles can tell us, save to note that she wept when Lord Torrhen handed down his verdict.

Larra was crying from relief, because she was finally free from the tyranny of Rogare-brothers. Or maybe she was shedding crocodile tears - crocodile weeps while devouring its victim, and GRRM did say that Serenei was cold (-blooded).

The Reign of Chameleons

Larra and Viserys weren’t going to let shadow-Aegon to go on the Royal Progress. Because either it was too bothersome, or they dreaded that either Gaemon’s shadow-glamour or his composure won’t hold for such an extended period of time away from the castle and his accomplices. Though they refrained from expressing any objections, and while the Regents extensively planned the itinerary and all details of the journey, the shadow-conspirators were holding their collective breath, and quietly waiting for the day of Aegon’s 16th birthday.

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It was still morning, though, when King Aegon entered the council chambers where Lord Torrhen and the regents were debating whether or not to include Tumbleton on the progress.

Four knights of the Kingsguard accompanied the young king to the council chambers. So did Sandoq the Shadow, veiled and silent, carrying his great sword.

Thus shadow-Aegon (it was either Larra or Viserys in shadow-glamour) dismissed the Regents and the King’s Hand, and canceled the Progress.

From then on the actual rulers of the 7K were Viserys Targaryen and his wife Larra Rogare. This period of time was known as the Reign of the Broken King, but actually it was the Reign of Chameleons.

The shadow-Aegon/Gaemon died in 157 AC from consumption, which seems fitting, because in his “past life” he was a food taster. Based on certain patterns, I think that Baelor the Blessed and Princess Rhaena were Gaemon’s children, while Daeron I, Daena the Defiant and Princess Elaena were fathered by Viserys.

Eventually, though maybe not in 139 AC, Larra returned to Lys. There she reinvented herself and became Serenei.

Same as her mother - Johanna Swann - Larra Rogare/Serenei of Lys is one of the most overlooked characters from ASOIAF’s world. She wore many faces and many skins. She was a chameleon and a cat-woman, the player in the shadows and a dark horse. She paved the path to the Iron Throne for hers and Johanna’s descendants. And if it was her final request to Aegon IV to legitimize all of his bastards, then she was also the one who inadvertedly (or on purpose?) made it possible for the Blackfyre Rebellions to happen.

The End

Let’s discuss.

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On 5/15/2021 at 7:07 PM, Hippocras said:

You are proposing that Larra Rogare and Serenei are the same person? Why can't Serenei be Larra's daughter? She abandoned Viserys after all. And their marriage was never blessed by her own gods and therefore easily considered invalid in Lys. She could have remarried and had a daughter. Basically I am willing to entertain the idea that the two are connected by family ties, but struggle with why that must mean they are one and the same.

Serenei can't be Larra's daughter because those two women have IDENTICAL hairlines. Which is impossible, unless either they are identical twins (which is not the case here), or - which is more likely - they are the same person.

Hairlines are UNIQUE, like fingerprints. Mothers and daughters can have similar hairlines, though not identical. Also, besides having identical hairlines, Larra and Serenei also share all the other features of their looks. And no, it's not because their portraits were made by the same artist - Magali Villeneuve.

In TWOIAF there are 23 illustrations made by Magali. Out of them these are the portraits on which are depicted various women - 43 (Ceryse Hightower, Tyanna of the Tower, Alys Harroway), 46 (King Jaehaerys I and Good Queen Alysanne with their son, Prince Aemon), 66 (The sisters of King Baelor I: Elaena, Rhaena, and Daena), 68 (The young Prince Aegon, with his parents, Prince Viserys II and Larra Rogare), 70 (Rhaenyra), 71 (Lady Melissa Blackwood, Serenei of Lys, Lady Falena Stokeworth, Bellegere Otherys), 72 (Lady Bethany Bracken, Lady Barba Bracken, Megette, Lady Cassella Vaith, Lady Jeyne Lothston), 127 (Lady Ellyn Reyne and Lady Jeyne Marbrand in the court of Lord Gerold Lannister), 164 (Myrish tradeswoman), 166 (a Lyseni noblewoman).

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Category:Images_by_Magali_Villeneuve

10 pictures and 22 women, and among them, aside from Larra and Serenei, the other 20 all have different hairlines and different elements of their looks. The other 20 women don't have the same facial proportions as those two. They have different shape of noses, chins, lips, shape and color of eyes, hair, etc. 

Just look at those portraits - all those women are different, all except Larra and Serenei.

If only two women from all of those portraits have the same faces, and those two women are not identical twins, then it is two portraits of the same woman, not two different women.

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You have an interesting idea about the cat women. The hairline concern could be true, or not. Would an artist be that meticulous...some would and lots wouldn’t? Definitely, if I were naming a cat woman, Larra Rogare is very purrfect.

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56 minutes ago, HoodedCrow said:

You have an interesting idea about the cat women.

Have you read the next part, about Shiera Seastar? Shiera is also a cat-skinchanger, same as her mother and grandmother. I have a theory that the females of House Swann are carriers of skinchanging-DNA, it's in their X-chromosome. Though their male descendants, also can inherit those skinchanging genes. I wrote more on this topic in part 16 of my grand (:rolleyes:) theory (I'll post it later).

In my opinion, the current generation of Starks are skinchangers because they are Johanna's and Larra's descendants. Arya is not only a warg, like her siblings and cousin, but also a cat-girl. She did skinchanged into a cat at Braavos, in ADWD, and did it easily. That's because that cat possibly was a "secondhand" vessel. In a sense that it was already skinchanged by someone else before, and that someone else, a Braavosi, is also a cat-skinchanger and also one of Johanna's descendants same as Arya - thru Aegon IV.

And Catelyn Tully's nickname - Cat, is also one of the clues, same as one of Arya's aliases used by her at Braavos - Cat of the canals. There are cats everywhere at Braavos, possibly because they are being used as spies by one of Larra's Braavosi descendants, same as Larra in the past was using cats to spy for her at King's Landing. GRRM is frequently inserting into the plot all this subtle parallels, they are there, though not easily seen.

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Catelyn’s name confused me as she did not seem cat like. Cat of the canals was bang on. 
Are you suggesting that Arya skin changed into the cat under stress and maybe even manipulation to develop her skill? The Faceless are teaching her all manner of things. Would they have practice cats?

I think if grrm wants hard genetics, he would imply it, not be too technical, but it could be as you suggest. I always thought he was putting D&D roles in his book and rogues are there. Arya seems to have that profile, but yes, Larra too. I should read up on the characters. I like your take on it.

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6 hours ago, Megorova said:

Serenei can't be Larra's daughter because those two women have IDENTICAL hairlines. Which is impossible, unless either they are identical twins (which is not the case here), or - which is more likely - they are the same person.

Hairlines are UNIQUE, like fingerprints. Mothers and daughters can have similar hairlines, though not identical. Also, besides having identical hairlines, Larra and Serenei also share all the other features of their looks. And no, it's not because their portraits were made by the same artist - Magali Villeneuve.

 

That would explain why Larra Rogare has blue eyes and Shiera Seastar has one blue and one green, even in the pics.

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I think the main problem I have with this Larra=Serenei idea is that there are so many more believable reasons for these two characters to look alike than for them to be the same person.

I can't see any reason as to why Larra would go to the extremes of reinventing herself in order to become the mistress of HER OWN SON. (Why not just return to court and exert power and influence as the mother of the King and grandmother of a future king?)

However there are plenty of much more reasonable explanations for identical hairline:

1. There are lots of Valyrian looking characters in ASOIAF and only so many types of hairline. At some point the same physical attributes are going to be used for multiple characters and any parallel is a coincidence.

2. The illustrator was attempting to draw a connection between the characters to show they are both from Lys

3. The illustrator was drawing a connection to hint that the two characters were related

4. The illustrator was working under a tight deadline so they used the drawing of Larra as a jumping off point for Serenei in order to save time.

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The illustrator could use a photograph of a real person as a model and recognized that there would be a family resemblance when portraying different characters? Megorova is right about looking for hints in portraits.

I think we are expected to absorb a Rogue/ cat culture in direct and indirect ways. We can’t be too shocked about the Cat of the canals. Are cat changers related genetically? Why not? 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Lady_Qohor said:

1. There are lots of Valyrian looking characters in ASOIAF and only so many types of hairline. At some point the same physical attributes are going to be used for multiple characters and any parallel is a coincidence.

Nevertheless in TWOIAF-book only those two - Larra and Serenei - have identical hairlines and other features of their looks. Besides the two of them, in that book there are 20 other women depicted by Magali Villeneuve and also several men. And all of them, besides those two, have different hairlines. Even men, even those men whose hair is short.

That artist wasn't using "templates", each character she was drawing individually. So it's not a coincidence or merely a laziness on her part that she supposedly used the same facial base to draw those two characters. She did so, because GRRM told her to do so. <- That's a logical conclusion.

4 hours ago, Lady_Qohor said:

2. The illustrator was attempting to draw a connection between the characters to show they are both from Lys

They are both from Lys and they look very much alike, with identical hairlines, same shape of noses, chins, eyes, same color of eyes and hair. Though in that book there's another illustration done by Magali, and that illustration is also a portrait of a noble woman from Lys. And that woman looks nothing like either Larra or Serenei. Besides being blond and beautiful, she has nothing in common between how they look and how she looks.

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/File:Serenei_of_Lys.jpg

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/images/6/6a/Larra_Rogare.png

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/File:Lyseni_noblewoman.png

Open all three portraits side by side, and really look at them.

That other woman has heavier lower part of her skull, she has bigger chin, plumper lips, higher cheekbones and shorter nose, though it's sort of hawklike, a bit. They have completely different shapes of skulls. Larra/Serenei's skull is shaped more like an egg (wider side up), and the Lyseni noblewoman's skull is sort of lower but wider from the back to the front. Their ears are also shaped differently - Larra/Serenei has ears with sort of raised middle swirl, it protrudes above the level of the outer ear-shell. And the noblewoman has sort of "even" ears, the middle swirl is shaped differently and isn't protruding further than the outer swirl.

So no, characters being from the same city wouldn't be a reason to make their portraits look alike. Not in Magali's case. She haven't done so. Three women from Lys - two of them look identical, and the third looks different.

4 hours ago, Lady_Qohor said:

3. The illustrator was drawing a connection to hint that the two characters were related

The same artist made portraits of Cersei, Jaime and Joffrey - twins and their son. They are related, though they don't look alike. Not as alike as Larra and Serenei. Here all three are side by side:

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/File:MagaliVilleneuve_JJC.jpg

Joffrey has his father's forehead, nose and lips, though his chin looks more like his mother's, and his eyes are more widely set than Jaime's, also more like Cersei's.

Here's another picture of Jaime and Cersei together. They do have similarities in their looks, though they also have differences, like shapes of noses, lips and chins.

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/images/2/20/Cersei_and_Jaime_Lannister.jpg

On this picture Joffrey is smirking, same as his mother and father on the JJC picture (even with the same facial expression they look different):

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/File:MagaliVilleneuve_JoffLannister.jpg

Also, in Cersei's and Jaime's cases their hair partition goes upwards from the middle of their foreheads, though in Joffrey's case his hair partition is located above and parallel to the middle of his right eye.

So as you can see on their example - just because certain characters are bloodrelated, Magali doesn't draw them alike, not as alike as Larra and Serenei.

There's also illustration 128, also done by Magali - Lord Tytos Lannister and his heir, Ser Tywin. They both have sort of choppy dark hair, sideburns, and similar ears. Though that's the end of their similarities. Their eyes, noses, lips, and chins are different.

Also there are portraits, also done by Magali, of Aegon's two mistresses who were sisters - Barba and Bethany Bracken.

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/File:Barba_Bracken.jpg

https://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/File:Bethany_Bracken.jpg

Bethany's face is wider, though her eyes are more closely set than her sister's. Also, the shape of their noses, lips and chins is slightly different. Barba's nose is a bit shorter, though wider. The length of her nose - from the tip to the bridge - is equal to the distance from her nose to her upper lip x 3. And the length of Bethany's nose - from the tip to the bridge - is equal to the distance from her nose to her upper lip x 4. The height of Barba's forehead - from the bridge of her nose to her hairline - is equal to the distance from her nose to her upper lip x 6,5. The height of Bethany's forehead is equal to the distance from her nose to her upper lip x 5. They have different facial proportions. Also, Barba has sharper chin (lower part of skull), and Bethany's is more rounder.

Thus, in case if two siblings/family members are being drawn by Magali Villeneuve, they can rest assured - she will depict each of them looking like themselves, not looking identical to the other one.

4 hours ago, Lady_Qohor said:

4. The illustrator was working under a tight deadline so they used the drawing of Larra as a jumping off point for Serenei in order to save time.

Could have been the case if this two illustrations were the last in the book, and Magali was sort of in a hurry to complete her job, so she used the first portrait as a base for the second. Though the thing is - those two portraits in TWOIAF's book are illustrations number 68 and 71, after them Magali drew 9 more women on 4 pictures - 72, 127, 164, 166 (a Lyseni noblewoman). And NONE of them look alike, even the last one - the woman from Lys.

In the book in total there are 198 illustrations. Larra Rogare is on 68's and Serenei is on 71's. After Serenei's portrait, in that book there are 12 more illustrations done by Magali - 72, 73, 88, 102, 107, 108, 127, 128, 132, 164, 166, 167 - 4 are portraits of 9 women and 8 are portraits/pictures of men.

So no, the tight deadline is also not the case, not the reason why Larra and Serenei by this artist were depicted with nearly identical looks.

Magali wasn't using same templates to create illustrations of different characters, she made all of them unique (except Larra and Serenei); even the siblings and relatives that she illustrated doesn't look as much alike as Larra and Serenei; the other woman who is also from Lys doesn't look like Larra/Serenei; and there was no deadline, not when Magali was still in the middle of the book, drawing illustration 71 out of 198.

Larra and Serenei look so much alike, because they are the same person. That's the only logical explanation.

And let's not forget that similar looks is not the only thing that they had in common.

Edited by Megorova

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20 hours ago, Lady_Qohor said:

I can't see any reason as to why Larra would go to the extremes of reinventing herself in order to become the mistress of HER OWN SON. (Why not just return to court and exert power and influence as the mother of the King and grandmother of a future king?)

She became Aegon's mistress because she needed to have his child. She needed a child with a very special set of genes, and she could have had that child only with Aegon, because as her son he was a carrier of (50% of) the same genes as Larra's, and he was a dragonseed. Larra was a skinchanger, same as her mother, though that was not the extent of what her magical blood was capable of.

For example - Melisandre's shadow-babies - she can birth creatures like that only because their father, Stannis, is a dragonseed, and Mel herself is also a dragonseed. Two sets of special genes produced a special child. Though those shadow-babies are not humans. To produce an actual fire+shadow-child is significally more complicated. Have you noticed that whenever Mel gave birth to one of Stannis' shadow-spawns, Stannis nearly died? The birth of those children drew life-force out of him. The same thing, only on a grander scale happend to both Aegon and Serenei, after she gave birth to Shiera, and to Rohanne Webber when she gave birth to Dunk's child. That's because Shiera is very very special, she's not exactly a human, she's more than that, not less like Stannis' shadows. By using Stannis' blood Mel was able to perform a lot of miracles. And Stannis is just a 1/8 dragonseed. Aegon was not only a pureblood, from his mother's side of the family he also was a carrier of Swann genes, and Swanns are descendants of Azor Ahai (I'll explain this later, in SS-16).

Any other man, if Larra/Serenei tried to produce with him a special child with inborn magical abilities (like Shiera), would have not only died, but also would have been not enough to "feed" that child with sufficient amount of life-force. Only the father with the blood of the dragon would have been sufficient enough to produce something like Shiera. Aegon's life + all of Serenei's magic and life-force, their combined sum was barely enough to sustain Shiera's birth. No other man would have been able to give life to Shiera, and her birth was necessary because she will play an important role in the upcoming war against the Others. And Larra knew this thru her magical abilities.

Dany, Rhaego and Jon are parallels to Biblical Jesus, and Shiera is something like a parallel to John the Baptist. ASOIAF is the parallel to the Bible. The First Long Night and Azor Ahai with his burning sword are parallels to the First War in Heaven and Archangel Michael, and the Second Long Night is the parallel to the Biblical Apocalypse. Shiera will play for the Promised Prince the same role as John the Baptist played for Jesus - she's a spiritual guide (the Three-Eyed Crow and Quaithe).

Other characters in ASOIAF, who knew about the potential of dragon-blood and other magical-blood, also targeted specific people to produce special children with them - Rhaegar choose Lyanna because of her dragonseed blood, Rohanne Webber choose Dunk to become Jenny's father also because of his blood, Maelys the Monstrous kindnapped and impregnated Jenny also because of her blood, Varys specifically choose a set of parents that produced for him a Blackfyre Promised Prince (fAegon), Jaehaerys forced Aerys and Rhaella to marry also because of their blood, Khal Drogo also choose Dany because she's a dragonseed and there was a Targaryen amongst his ancestors, etc.

So Larra reinvented herself and returned to the 7K under a new name and became her son's mistress not to exert power and influence at court, but to have Aegon's child. For the sake of the greater good. Shiera's birth was absolutely necessary, and only Aegon's blood was strong enough to produce a child like her.

Also, Shiera's birth is a part of a trinity pattern - Aegon had a child with three of his closest women - his mother, his sister, and his daughter - Larra/Serenei, Queen Naerys, Jeyne Lothston.

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In the opening post I didn't explained in details what made me think that Aegon III was killed and then replaced by an imposter in shadow-glamour. Because I thought that if the readers will be given information that after the poisoning attempt the real Aegon got killed, then with this information they will be able to find evidence of this in the F&B's text on their own. Though that didn't happened, thus I see that it is necessary to give a more detailed explanation on what text exactly (from F&B) my theory was based.

The quotes go from the time of the secret siege backwards to the time prior Viserys was kidnapped by the pyrates.

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King Aegon was unmoved. “Sandoq is no beast,” he answered from the battlements. “He cannot speak, but he hears and he obeys. I commanded Ser Amaury to be gone, and he refused. My brother warned him what would happen if he stepped beyond the axe. The vows of the Kingsguard include obedience, I thought.”

“We are sworn to obey the king, sire, this is so,” replied Ser Marston, “and when you are a man grown, my brothers and I will gladly fall upon our swords should you command that of us. So long as you remain a child, however, we are required by oath to obey the King’s Hand, for the Hand speaks with the king’s voice.”

“Lord Thaddeus is my Hand,” Aegon insisted.

“Lord Thaddeus sold your realm to Lys and must answer for it. I will serve as your Hand until such time as his guilt or innocence can be proved.” Ser Marston unsheathed his sword and went to one knee, saying, “I swear upon my sword in the sight of gods and men that none shall do you harm whilst I stand beside you.”

If the Lord Commander believed those words would sway the king, he could not have been more wrong. “You stood beside me when the dragon ate my mother,” Aegon answered. “All you did was watch. I will not have you watch while they kill my brother’s wife.” Then he left the battlements, and no words of Marston Waters could induce him to return that day, or the next, or the next.

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Sandoq the Shadow had come from Lys with Lady Larra, a gift from her father the Magister Lysandro. Black of skin and black of hair, he stood almost seven feet tall. His face, which he oft kept hidden behind a black silk veil, was a mass of thin white scars, and his lips and tongue had been removed, leaving him both mute and hideous to look upon. It was said of him that he had been the victor of a hundred fights in the death pits of Meereen, that he had once torn out the throat of a foe with his teeth after his sword had shattered, that he drank the blood of the men he killed, that in the pits he had slain lions, bears, wolves, and wyverns with no weapon but the stones he found upon the sands.

Such tales grow in the telling, to be sure, and we cannot know how much of this, if any, is to be believed. Though Sandoq could not read or write, Mushroom tells us he was fond of music, and would oft sit in the shadows of Lady Larra’s bedchamber playing sweet sad notes on a queer stringed instrument of goldenheart and ebony that stood near as tall as he did. “I could sometimes make the lady laugh, though she did not understand more than a few words of our tongue,” the fool says, “but the Shadow’s playing always made her weep, and strange to say she liked that better.”

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When Aegon commanded that no dragon’s eggs were to be allowed in his castle, Viserys grew most wroth. Yet the king’s will prevailed, as it must; the egg was sent to Dragonstone, and Prince Viserys refused to speak to King Aegon for a moon’s turn.

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Even less loved than Larra of Lys were the three brothers who had come with her to King’s Landing. Moredo commanded his sister’s guards

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Larra Rogare had taken up residence in the Red Keep with her husband, yet in her heart she remained a lady of Lys. Though fluent in High Valyrian and the dialects of Myr, Tyrosh, and Old Volantis in addition to her own Lysene tongue, Lady Larra made no effort to learn the Common Tongue, preferring to rely upon translators to make her wishes known. Her ladies were all Lyseni, as were her servants. The gowns she wore all came from Lys, even her smallclothes; her father’s ships delivered the latest Lysene fashions to her thrice a year. She even had her own protectors. Lysene swords guarded her night and day, under the command of her brother Moredo and a towering mute from the fighting pits of Meereen called Sandoq the Shadow.

"Lyseni Spring" quotes end here, and the following quotes are from the previous chapter "Under the Regents" (also going backwards).

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Prince Viserys was a lively, likely young lad, possessed of great charm and boundless vitality. Though not as tall, as strong, or as handsome as his brother, he struck all who met him as more clever and more curious than the king…and his own wife was no child, but a beautiful young woman well into her childbearing years. Let Aegon have his child-bride; Larra of Lys was like to give Viserys children sooner rather than later, thereby securing the dynasty.

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Viserys’s return did much to lessen the king’s loneliness as well. As a boy, Aegon had worshipped his three elder half-brothers, but it was Viserys who shared his bedchamber, his lessons, and his games.

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Prince Viserys had been seven when he was taken from the Gay Abandon. He was twelve on his return in 134 AC. His wife, the beautiful young woman who had walked arm in arm with him from the Lady Baela, was nineteen, seven years his senior.

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Viserys was well treated during his captivity. Though forbidden to leave the grounds of Bambarro’s manse, he had his own suite of rooms, shared meals with the magister and his family, had tutors to instruct him in languages, literature, mathematics, history, and music, even a master-at-arms to teach him swordsmanship, at which art he soon excelled.

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In 129 AC, it will be recalled that Queen Rhaenyra had sent her two youngest sons to Pentos to keep them from harm’s way, only to have the ship taking them across the narrow sea sail into the teeth of a war fleet from the Triarchy.

Now based on those quotes let's go thru that text in chronological order.

Rhaenyra sent her sons to Pentos. They had with them all sorts of servants, including a translator/interpreter who was supposed to translate for them during their interactions with the people of Pentos. They were supposed to go to Pentos only temporarely, thus there was no reason for them to learn Pentosi language. Or Lyseni language, because they weren't going to Lys, they were going to Pentos, so why would they learn a language of Lys?

While Aegon and Viserys were living at King's Landing, they were sharing living quarters, and they were attending the same lessons (that's what is written in F&B - Aegon and Viserys were receiving THE SAME education, even though Aegon was two years older). Though learning High Valyrian or the Lyseni language wasn't amongst those lessons.

Lyseni is just one of the languages spoken in Essos. Aside from Lyseni language in Essos people also use languages/dialects of Myr, Tyrosh, Braavos, Volantis, Old Ghis, High Valyrian and Bastard Valyrian, Meereen, Astapor, Yunkai, Qarth, Dothraki, Norvos, Rhoynar, Lhazar, languages of eastern Essos, such as Yi Ti, Leng, etc.

There was absolutely no reasons for a 9-years old Aegon and 7-years old Viserys to learn a Lyseni language. Or any other language used in Essos.

They had other things to learn, and those things had higher priority than to learn a language that they don't need to know. For example it was more important for them to know the heraldy of the 7K and what Great Houses are the most important for the economy and the politics of Westeros. And all that other information that they needed to know, here and now, about the people that had served House Targaryen.

And there was no reason for Aegon and Viserys to learn High Valyrian.

It was an excessive unnecessary knowledge. People at Westeros didn't spoke High Valyrian. Unlike majory of Essos' inhabitants, who were either descendants of Valyrian slaves or descendants of Ghiskari slaves, and thus nearly everyone in Essos either knew Bastard Valyrian or the Ghiskari language, though in Westeros general public never knew those languages. In Essos High Valyrian is a dead language. Though at least in old times, several centuries ago, nearly everyone in Essos knew that language. So there are still many people in Essos who use a form of Valyrian as one of their primal languages. In Westeros the situation is completely different. Thus there was no reason to make knowing High Valyrian as a priority in education of Aegon and Viserys. They were only 9 and 7, they had more important things to learn prior they would have had a spare time to spend on gaining an excessive knowledge such as learning High Valyrian language.

You don't teach a 2-years old child to play on piano, you teach him/her to use a baby-pot or a toilet and to wipe his/her own ass. To use fork and spoon, to be able to eat on their own. And other more relevant things that are necessary in everyday life. And only when all those necessities are covered, only then you will teach the kids excessive things like playing piano, or a violin, or in Aegon's case - speaking High Valyrian.

Viserys learned High Valyrian and Lyseni language after he was brought to Lys. But Aegon neved did. He didn't spoke High Valyrian nor Lyseni, and Larra Rogare pretended that she doesn't know Common Tongue. Thus it's OBVIOUS that Larra and Aegon never spoke to each other, they never had any heart-to-heart conversations, or any conversations at all.

Just look at the text in the books - Aegon was a timid, unsociable introvert, and Larra was a woman grown, beautiful, haughty, and more impressive that Aegon's own wife. He was intimidated by her. Furthermore, besides Viserys, they had nothing else in common, there was absolutely nothing for them to speak about. And they didn't shared the same language. Also note what exactly was said in F&B concerning Larra's interactions with the people from Targaryen court - "Lady Larra made no effort to learn the Common Tongue, preferring to rely upon translators to make her wishes known". Whom was she ordering around? To whom was she making her wishes known thru her translators? Obviously not to Aegon. They NEVER EVER spoke, not directly, not thru translators. She was using those translators only to order to servants to do this and that, and she didn't used translators to communicate with Aegon.

Also let's not forget that Larra was surrounded by her guards 24/7. "Lysene swords guarded her night and day, under the command of her brother Moredo and a towering mute from the fighting pits of Meereen called Sandoq the Shadow."

Sandoq was always with Larra. Most of the time they were staying in her own room. Even Mushroom failed to establish a communication with Larra, and he was not a timid spring chicken like Aegon.

Larra was always surrounded by her guards. It would have been against etiquette for her to come with her guards into the King's presence. While they were somewhere like a Throne Room or a great hall where there was many people present, for example at the feast or mass gathering, then everyone was bringing there their own guards and servants, pages, cupbearers, ladies-in-waiting, etc. Under those circumstances Larra would have been able to attend together with her guards and Sandoq. Though under those circumstances there would have been no opportunity for Aegon to speak with Larra. And under different circumstances, if Aegon's household was gathering for a small family occasion, such as to have a quiet dinner, only family members, then in this case Larra wouldn't have been allowed to bring her guards. Though Aegon would have been too intimidated to forbid her to bring her guards, thus not to create a conflict, that topic was never discussed. Larra just never attended any family dinners or other strictly family gatherings on which King Aegon was present. Thus him and Larra never had an opportunity to talk. And thus he didn't knew her, and by extention he also didn't knew Sandoq. Add to this that Sandoq was mute, and he didn't knew Common Tongue.

Thus Aegon hadn't knew what kind of person Sandoq was. He didn't knew how loyal he was, or whatever. There is zero reasons for Aegon to defend Sandoq and to say that “Sandoq is no beast”. Thus, even though the person who said those words, looked like Aegon, actually it wasn't Aegon. Instead it was someone who looked like Aegon by using shadow-glamor. So the question is - where was the real Aegon at that time, and why did he allowed someone else to impersonate him? He wouldn't have allowed this, and thus it's kind of obvious (if you'll add together all that information) that by the time of the secret siege Aegon was already dead.

And there is no reason for the real Aegon to go into confrontation with his Regents, Kingsguards and other people for the sake of defending Viserys' wife. The real Aegon didn't cared about Larra. If he had at all any emotions or thoughts concerning her, then it was resent and envy. Larra was better than Aegon's own wife, and people always spoke about it. Aegon's own people even mocked him with - "Let Aegon have his child-bride; Larra of Lys was like to give Viserys children sooner rather than later, thereby securing the dynasty." They were saying that Daenaera was a child-bride and that it will be Larra's children who will secure the dynasty. Aegon is the King, so imagine what he thought when his own people were saying that HIS dynasty will be secured not by his wife, but by that other haughty and intimidating woman. If anything, Aegon would have been more than glad to get rid of Larra, he wouldn't have defended her.

And he wouldn't have cared that by allowing those people to seize Larra, he could have ruined his relationship with his brother. He was not afraid of Viserys' disapproval or spite. He ordered Viserys to send his dragon egg away to Dragonstone, and he wasn't bothered that afterwards Viserys didn't spoke with him for a month. Aegon's first wife died, maybe he wanted for Viserys to also lose his wife. Maybe he thought that with Larra gone, him and Viserys will have a better relationship. Maybe he thought that Viserys got changed by his wife's influence, but if that wife will be taken out of the picture, then Aegon will be able to mend his relatioship with his younger brother. Furthemore, Aegon didn't approved Viserys' marriage with Larra, but if Larra died, then Aegon would have been able to chose for Viserys his next wife. And he would have chosen for him a woman no better than Daenaera, another child-bride like his own wife, with looks worse that Daenaera's, etc.

Aegon didn't knew Larra. He didn't knew Sandoq. He had no reasons to defend either of them. And he had a lot of reasons to want Larra's removal. Thus the Aegon that defended Larra and Sandoq during the Secret Siege, was a fake.

GRRM provided readers with a lot of clues directly in the text, though to understand those clues the readers sometimes are required to go backwards thru the text. To understand GRRM's writing what is required is a lot of hindsight.

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