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Megorova

Swan Song part 4/16. Shiera Seastar - a cat, a shadow, and a lying crow

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Continuing the theme of the previous two threads - Femme Fatales of ASOIAF’s world - this thread is about the last of them, the shadow puppeteer and the greatest player in the game of thrones - Shiera, Star of the Sea (Stella Maris).

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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.

Shiera was born with one dark blue eye and one bright green one, but the singers said that this flaw only accentuated her loveliness.

She spoke a dozen tongues and surrounded herself with ancient scrolls. Like her mother, she was reputed to practice the dark arts.

Her most ardent admirer was her half-brother, Bloodraven, who proposed marriage to her half a hundred times.

Her favorite piece of jewelry was a heavy silver necklace of emeralds and star sapphires, alternating. - Citadel, So Spake Martin, Shiera Seastar.

The Shadows and The Stars

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She dreamed. All her cares fell away from her, and all her pains as well, and she seemed to float upward into the sky. She was flying once again, spinning, laughing, dancing, as the stars wheeled around her and whispered secrets in her ear. “To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward, you must go back. To touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

“Quaithe?” Dany called. “Where are you, Quaithe?”

Then she saw. Her mask is made of starlight.

While reading Dany’s last chapter in ADWD, I realized that the shadowbinder Quaithe is actually Shiera Seastar, and by noticing this hidden key I managed to decipher Dany’s fevered dream in AGOT. The detailed analysis of that dream you can read later in the thread “SS part 11/16”, though for now let’s focus only on those details of that dream, which are relevant for this thread. Dany’s dream was a distorted version of what happened to her when she was giving birth to Rhaego, and the shadowbinder Quaithe was present there in a guise of fire, wings, shadows, and the smiling and whispering stars.

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Wings shadowed her fever dreams.

... the stars smiled down on them, stars in a daylight sky.

... suddenly the stars were gone, and across the blue sky swept the great wings, and the world took flame.

... After that, for a long time, there was only the pain, the fire within her, and the whisperings of stars. - AGOT, Dany IX.

Quaithe was wearing her red lacquered mask “made of starlight”, and a black hooded cape. Red and black are traditional colors of Targaryen court. Targaryens are the kings of the past, thus Quaithe’s red-black attire is the “faded raiment of kings”. The “swords of pale fire” is a glass candle. The ghosts cried as one because they were one person.

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Ghosts lined the hallway, dressed in the faded raiment of kings. In their hands were swords of pale fire. They had hair of silver and hair of gold and hair of platinum white, and their eyes were opal and amethyst, tourmaline and jade. “Faster,” they cried, “faster, faster.” She raced, her feet melting the stone wherever they touched. “Faster!” the ghosts cried as one.

Shiera Seastar had mismatched blue and green eyes. Green is the most common shade of jades and opals, though there are also a blue-colored variety of these gemstones. There are both blue and green tourmalines, though a bi-colored blue-green/green-blue variety is also common. Amethysts are purple-colored gemstones, though they have a secondary hue, which could be either red or blue, or both. At certain point in time, while Dany was giving birth to Rhaego, Quaithe took off her mask and hood, and thus Dany saw her mismatched blue-green eyes and her silver-gold hair that with age partially became platinum-white.

Thus, the shadowbinder Quaithe and Shiera Seastar is the same person, and she is still alive, even though she is well over a hundred years old, because she is a bloodmage (Egg revealed this information in The Sworn Sword novel). In the books there were two other female characters that, same as Shiera, also were retaining their youth by bathing in blood - Larra Rogare/Serenei of Lys, and Alys Rivers (the three of them are one of the trinity-patterns inserted by GRRM into the plot).

At certain point in her life for some unknown reason Shiera left 7K and went to Essos. While she was at Asshai she reinvented herself and became Quaithe. Eventually she met there Mirri Maz Duur and maester Marwyn, and took both of them as her apprentices. Though, Quaithe is not the only alias under which Shiera appeared in ASOIAF’s books.

The Wizard

In ADWD Meera asked Coldhands - “Who sent you? Who is this three-eyed crow?”, and he replied - “A friend. Dreamer, wizard, call him what you will. The last greenseer.” Though, was what he said the answer to both of her questions or only to the first one?

Later the Child of the Forest said to Bran - “He is waiting for you.”

“The three-eyed crow?” asked Meera.

“The greenseer.”

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“Are you the three-eyed crow?” Bran heard himself say. A three-eyed crow should have three eyes. He has only one, and that one red. Bran could feel the eye staring at him, shining like a pool of blood in the torchlight. Where his other eye should have been, a thin white root grew from an empty socket, down his cheek, and into his neck.

“A … crow?” The pale lord’s voice was dry. His lips moved slowly, as if they had forgotten how to form words. “Once, aye. Black of garb and black of blood.” - ADWD, Bran II.

“in the caverns beneath a hollow hill - THE THREE-EYED CROW, also called THE LAST GREENSEER, sorcerer and dreamwalker, once a man of the Night’s Watch named BRYNDEN, now more tree than man” - ADWD, Appendix.

Based on the appendices in the other books, it seems that what is written there are not facts. Instead, that information is what the characters believe to be true. Bran mistakenly thought that Brynden Rivers is the Three-Eyed Crow, and thus that’s what is written in ADWD’s Appendix. Even though this information is no more real than what was written in AGOT’s Appendix about Joffrey, Tommen and Myrcella - that they are supposedly King Robert’s children.

There are also other known facts that contradict the possibility that the Three-Eyed Crow is Brynden Rivers:

-         His nickname is Bloodraven, not Bloody Crow;

-         He has a raven-shaped birthmark on his face;

-         His mother was a member of House Blackwood, and their ancestral castle is Raventree’s Hall;

-         Lord Bloodraven’s personal guards were called Raven’s Teeth;

-         He’s teaching Bran to skinchange into ravens, not crows. There are no crows in that cave or anywhere near it, only ravens.

Based on all that, Bloodraven is not the Three-Eyed Crow. Though if he isn’t, then why was he in that cave? Why did he left the Night’s Watch and what have happened to him beyond The Wall? So far it wasn’t revealed in the books, though I have a theory about that.

What happened to the Wizard?

Coldhands, while referring to Bloodraven, called him a wizard, and the most famous wizard of all time is Merlin (sorry, Harry).

According to Arthurian legends, Merlin had several love interests, among them Morgan le Fay (King Arthur’s half-sister) and a water fairy, Nimue, also known as the Lady of the Lake. Merlin met Nimue at the enchanted forest when she was 12 years old. The exact year of Shiera’s birth is unknown. Though if her parents died one shortly after the other then could be that Shiera was born in 184 AC, and thus at the time of the First Blackfyre Rebellion, in 196 AC, she was the same age as Nimue at the time of her first encounter with Merlin - 12 years old. Even though Nimue was very young, Merlin madly fell in love with her and pursued her for years afterwards. Which reminds me how Bloodraven proposed to Shiera half a hundred times but she kept rejecting him. When Nimue got tired of Merlin’s company she brought him into enchanted forest, and then with her magic trapped him either in a magical cave or entombed him inside a tree. I think that something similar happened between Bloodraven and Shiera. Could be that she lured him beyond The Wall into the Children’s cave and made him to eat a weirwood seed paste that “wedded him to a tree”. Same as Merlin, Bloodraven knew what will happen to him, though he hadn’t fought it because he knew that it was his destiny for his life to end in that cave, and thus it was inevitable.

Morgan le Fay, Morrigan the Battle Crow, and the Banshee

The following information in this section is mostly from Wikipedia.

Morgan le Fay was one of Merlin’s apprentices and his lover. The earliest spelling of her name from Vita Merlini (The Life of Merlin) is Morgen, which is likely derived from Old Welsh or Old Breton, meaning “Sea-born”. And Shiera is “Star of the Sea”.

Morgan has been connected with the Irish shapeshifting and multifaced goddess of strife known as the Morrigan. Her name from Old Irish translates as “great queen” or “phantom queen”. Phantoms are shadows and Quaithe is a shadowbinder. Also, amongst great Houses of 7K there’s House Morrigen of Crow’s Nest from Stormlands.

The Morrigan is mainly associated with war and fate, especially with foretelling doom, death or victory in battle. In this role she often appears as a crow, or badb. In Irish mythology, the Badb Catha (“battle crow”) is a war goddess. She is known to cause fear and confusion among soldiers to move the tide of battle to her favoured side. Badb may also appear prior to a battle to foreshadow the extent of the carnage to come, or to predict the death of a notable person. She would sometimes do this through wailing cries, leading to comparisons with the bean-sídhe (banshee).

A banshee (bean sí from Old Irish: “woman of the fairy mound” or “fairy woman”) is a female spirit in Irish folklore who heralds the death of a family member, usually by wailing, shrieking, or keening. Her name is connected to the mythologically important tumuli or “mounds” that dot the Irish countryside, which are known as síde in Old Irish.

A tumulus (plural tumuli) is a mound of earth and stones raised over a grave. Tumuli are also known as barrows, burial mounds or kurgans. Tumuli are often categorized according to their external apparent shape. In this respect, a long barrow is a long tumulus, usually constructed on top of several burials, such as a passage graves.

Besides Quaithe there’s only one other female character who wears a wooden mask - the wildling witch Morna. When she joined Night’s Watch, Jon sent her and the other spearwives to one of the eastern castles on The Wall - the Long Barrow, under the command of Dolorous Edd.

From Dolorous to Joyous

According to one version of Arthurian legends, Nimue left Merlin for another lover, the evil King Brandin of the Isles, whom she was teaching magic, which he then applied to his terrible castle Dolorous Gard. Prior Nimue binded Merlin to a tree, on their journey to the enchanted forest they met King Ban, his wife Queen Elaine and their infant son Galahad, who were fleeing the destruction of their final stronghold. Merlin predicted to Nimue that when Galahad will grow up, he will become the greatest knight in the world. Nimue kidnapped Galahad and raised him as her ward, later he became known under the name Lancelot du Lac (French for Lancelot of the Lake). Lancelot defeated King Brandin and seized his castle, which he then renamed into Joyous Gard.

In my opinion there are several parallels between that legend and the events in ASOIAF. The kidnapped child, who was destined to become the greatest knight in the ASOIAF’s world, is either Barristan Selmy, or fAegon, or Rhaego.

(You can read more on this topic in the threads “The real cause of the Fourth Blackfyre Rebellion”, “What happened at the Kingswood”, “The Stallion that mounts the world” and “The Perfumed Seneschal and the Mummer’s Dragon” - parts 8, 10, 11 and 14 of the “Swan Song”.)

Though, I think that there’s only one character who is a parallel to the evil King Brandin of the Isles, and that’s Euron Greyjoy.

Urrathon Night-Walker

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Dany had laughed when he told her. “Was it not you who told me warlocks were no more than old soldiers, vainly boasting of forgotten deeds and lost prowess?”

Xaro looked troubled. “And so it was, then. But now? I am less certain. It is said that the glass candles are burning in the house of Urrathon Night-Walker, that have not burned in a hundred years.” - ACOK, Dany V.

“Hear me, Daenerys Targaryen. The glass candles are burning. Soon comes the pale mare, and after her the others. Kraken and dark flame, lion and griffin, the sun’s son and the mummer’s dragon. Trust none of them. Remember the Undying. Beware the perfumed seneschal.” - ADWD, Dany II.

In ASOIAF there was only two characters named Urrathon, and one of them was Urrathon IV Goodbrother, also known as Badbrother. He was a High King of the Iron Islands who ruled during the Age of Heroes. His story is very similar to how Euron Greyjoy became the King of Ironborn.

I think that Urrathon Night-Walker, who has a house in Qarth, is Euron Greyjoy. Also, based on the events that happened in the TWOW’s chapter The Forsaken, it seems that Euron knows all sorts of magic. Also, there was this scene:

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The dreams were even worse the second time. He saw the longships of the Ironborn adrift and burning on a boiling blood-red sea. He saw his brother on the Iron Throne again, but Euron was no longer human. He seemed more squid than man, a monster fathered by a kraken of the deep, his face a mass of writhing tentacles. Beside him stood a shadow in woman’s form, long and tall and terrible, her hands alive with pale white fire. Dwarves capered for their amusement, male and female, naked and misshapen, locked in carnal embrace, biting and tearing at each other as Euron and his mate laughed and laughed and laughed …

In my opinion, Euron’s mate in that scene is Cersei, and they are parallels to the Biblical Great Harlot and the Scarlet Beast. Though, Euron’s mate and the shadow-woman, who is also present there, is not the same person. I think that that shadow is Quaithe/Shiera, and that her hands are alive with pale white fire, because she is holding a glass candle in her hands. She isn’t actually there, instead she is astral-projecting by using a glass candle, and thus Euron and his companion don’t see her.

Same as Nimue took King Brandin of the Isles as her apprentice, but then brought his doom by the hands of her ward Lancelot, it’s likely that Euron in the past also was one of Quaithe’s apprentices, same as Mirri Maz Duur and maester Marwyn, and later his fleet will be burned either by fAegon or, which is more likely, by Rhaego and his dragon.

The Crow’s Eye

Euron’s nickname is the Crow’s Eye, Shiera Seastar is the Three-Eyed Crow, and thus Euron is her third eye. I think that they are connected by blood-magic, and Shiera is able to see everything that he sees with his blood eye. That’s why he usually keeps that eye covered, because he betrayed his ex-teacher, and now he is hiding from her.

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When he laughed his face sloughed off and the priest saw that it was not Urri but Euron, the smiling eye hidden. He showed the world his blood eye now, dark and terrible. Clad head to heel in scale as dark as onyx, he sat upon a mound of blackened skulls as dwarfs capered round his feet and a forest burned behind him.

“The bleeding star bespoke the end,” he said to Aeron. “These are the last days, when the world shall be broken and remade. A new god shall be born from the graves and charnel pits.”

Euron knows that prophecy because he heard it from Quaithe. He wants to become that new god, but it’s either Jon Snow or Rhaego, or both of them.

The Legends

There are also insider legends in ASOIAF that support the possibility that Bloodraven is not the Three-Eyed Crow, that rather he is the 3EC’s ex-paramour.

Qartheen believe that dragons were hatched from a second moon that came too close to the sun and cracked like an egg. Thus the moon is the mother of dragons and the sun is their father. Dothraki believe that the moon is a goddess and wife of the sun. The First Long Night was caused by the Lion of Night when his wife, the Maiden-Made-of-Light, turned her back upon the world.

In astrology the Sun is a guardian planet of sign Leo, while the Moon is a guardian of Cancer. Bloodraven is an albino, and thus there’s that “white lion” from one of Dany’s visions. Emeralds and sapphires are Leo’s heart-stones, and moonstone is one of Cancer’s heart-stones. It’s likely that Shiera’s favorite jewelry, the necklace mentioned in the beginning of this OP (opening post), was gifted to her by Bloodraven. In my opinion Shiera gave him a reciprocating present, this:

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Egg’s ears pricked up at that name. “Plumm… are you kin to Lord Viserys Plumm, ser?”

“Distantly,” confessed Ser Maynard, a tall, thin, stoop-shouldered man with long straight flaxen hair, “though I doubt that His Lordship would admit to it. One might say that he is of the sweet Plumms, whilst I am of the sour.” Plumm’s cloak was as purple as name, though frayed about the edges and badly dyed. A moonstone brooch big as a hen’s egg fastened it at the shoulder. ...

Through the rain, all he could make out was a hooded shape and a single pale white eye. It was only when the man came forward that the shadowed face beneath the cowl took on the familiar features of Ser Maynard Plumm, the pale eye no more than the moonstone brooch that pinned his cloak at the shoulder. - TMK.

I’m sure that that moonstone brooch was a shadow-artifact created by Shiera, and she is the one who had glamoured Bloodraven to look like Maynard Plumm, same as in ADWD Melisandre used her ruby bracelet to make Mance Rayder to look like Rattleshirt. In the Fire & Blood in the scene of Aegon III’s reunion with his brother, Larra is wearing around her waist a chain with big medallion. On the next picture in the book, shadow-Aegon is wearing that chain around his neck, and the medallion is on Sandoq the Shadow’s chest. That is also a shadow-artifact, in two parts like Melisandre’s - one is on her neck, the other is on Mance’s wrist.

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“Snow,” the moon insisted.

The white wolf ran from it, racing toward the cave of night where the sun had hidden, his breath frosting in the air. On starless nights the great cliff was as black as stone, a darkness towering high above the wide world, but when the moon came out it shimmered pale and icy as a frozen stream. - ADWD, Jon I.

The moon in Jon’s dream was Shiera Seastar, who was trying to contact him by using glass candle, same as she got into Dany’s dreams (in her fevered dream in AGOT, in ACOK on board of Balerion ship, and in her last chapter in ADWD). The cave of night is the cave of the Children, where Bran is. And the sun that is hiding in that cave is Bloodraven.

Dothraki-women refer to their husbands - My Sun-and-stars, and Dothraki-men call their wives - Moon of my life. So Bloodraven is the sun and stars, and Shiera is the moon. Thus it’s likely that Quaithe’s wooden mask, which is “made of starlight”, is actually made from weirwood and lacquered either by weirwood’s red sap or by Bloodraven’s blood (she’s a bloodmage, what else were you expecting from her?). Bloodraven is binded by a tree, and most of his soul went into it, thus Quaithe’s mask is made of starlight because Bloodraven’s soul is “reflected” in it.

In the 7K there’s a saying - “The crow is the raven’s poor cousin”. Which also implies that crows =/= ravens.

Kitty one, Kitty two, Kitty three

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Matteno Orthys, a fervent worshipper of the goddess Pantera, was mauled and partly devoured by his prized shadowcat when its cage was unaccountably left open one night.

Johanna Swann.

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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.

Larra Rogare/Serenei of Lys.

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“One day on a ranging we brought down a fine big elk. We were skinning it when the smell of blood drew a shadowcat out of its lair. I drove it off, but not before it shredded my cloak to ribbons. Do you see? Here, here, and here?” He chuckled. “It shredded my arm and back as well, and I bled worse than the elk. My brothers feared I might die before they got me back to Maester Mullin at the Shadow Tower, so they carried me to a wildling village where we knew an old wisewoman did some healing. She was dead, as it happened, but her daughter saw to me.” - ASOS, Jon I.

Am I the only reader who noticed that there was something amiss in Mance’s story?

While telling that story to Jon, Mance shared with him (and with the readers) a lot of insignificant and irrelevant information. Like - who cares or what’s the difference, whether the healer who treated Mance was the original healer from that village or whether it was her daughter instead, whether the daughter was the original owner of that red silk or not? And how had the grandmother knew that the silk was specifically from Asshai? Was there “Made in Asshai” written on it? All that excessive information, but no name was given to Mance’s mysterious savior, and thus I wondered why.

Probably not everyone know specifics of feline behavior, though the thing is, when predatory felids (big cats) attack, they go for the throat. When the shadowcat from the Mance’s story attacked him, it incapacitated his arm, which prevented him from using his sword to defend himself. And then it just scratched his back instead of killing him by biting his neck. It wounded him not enough to kill, though enough for his comrades to bring him to the nearest wildling healer instead of attempting to take him back to The Wall. It was a trap, because while that healer treated Mance, she was also bewitching him. Whatever she did to him changed his behavior, caused him to desert from the Night’s Watch, and then to begin gathering all the wildlings to unite them into a single tribe. And his task was completed just in time when the Others arrived. So was it just a lucky coincidence or the result of someone’s long-term plan?  

This bad kitty left her paw prints EVERYWHERE, even beyond The Wall. Same as her mother and grandmother before her, Shiera Seastar was a cat-skinchanger. And same as her mother she was a bloodmage and a shadowbinder. Among her many roles there was a wildling healer, a septa (and no, I don’t mean Lemore, though those two do know each other), and a lying crow (“Crows are all liars”, “I know a story about a crow.” - Old Nan, AGOT, Bran IV - do tell, Nan, do tell).

This thread completes my trilogy about Femme Fatales of ASOIAF, and possibly uncovers one of the series’ greatest mysteries - the Three-Eyed Crow’s real identity. Though it seems that the key was there in plain sight all along - “he saw that the crow was really a woman” - AGOT, Bran III.

To be continued next week.

Welcome and discuss.

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Interesting read, you make a lot of connections that I hadn't noticed before. The foundations of the theory, i.e. the Merlin/Morrigan comparison, do seem strong.

With regard to Bloodraven (or Brynden Rivers) being inspired by the Merlin myth, you may like to know that the Welsh place name for the location of the tree where Merlin was imprisoned is: Bryn Myrrdin.

Bryn Myrrdin   ...  Brynden?

Surely too similar to be a coincidence, and so lends credence to the idea of a Morrigan counterpart, number one candidate being Quaithe/ Sheira Seastar. 

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On 5/15/2021 at 3:41 PM, Megorova said:

At certain point in time, while Dany was giving birth to Rhaego, Quaithe took off her mask and hood, and thus Dany saw her mismatched blue-green eyes and her silver-gold hair that with age partially became platinum-white.

Is there any evidence for this? I thought Dany didn't meet Quaithe until Qarth and we don't even see Rhaego's birth, we hear about it second hand from Mirri Maz Duur

 

On 5/15/2021 at 3:41 PM, Megorova said:

When Nimue got tired of Merlin’s company she brought him into enchanted forest, and then with her magic trapped him either in a magical cave or entombed him inside a tree. I think that something similar happened between Bloodraven and Shiera. Could be that she lured him beyond The Wall into the Children’s cave and made him to eat a weirwood seed paste that “wedded him to a tree”. Same as Merlin, Bloodraven knew what will happen to him, though he hadn’t fought it because he knew that it was his destiny for his life to end in that cave, and thus it was inevitable.

This is a really interesting theory, I'd never considered the parallels between Bloodraven and Merlin both being in trees before. Well done.

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4 hours ago, Lady_Qohor said:

Is there any evidence for this? I thought Dany didn't meet Quaithe until Qarth and we don't even see Rhaego's birth, we hear about it second hand from Mirri Maz Duur

Yes, there is. I'll explain this part in SS-11. I'll post it later this week, or early next week.

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