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LynnS

The Dawn Sword

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1 hour ago, LynnS said:

There is a subtext to the rituals Melisandre expounds.  There is the theater for small men who understand nothing about the 'mysteries'.  When you look at Dany's spiritual awakening, there is another meaning altogether.  This is where we should look to understand Melisandre and the things she says.

I don't follow your thinking here...

I agree that Melisandre's "rituals" are in large part show, but not entirely, the wind which brought Stannis to the Wall was real enough, as were the shadow babies who killed Renly and Penrose.

But, TBH Danny doesn't seem to know much about the "mysteries" either, and I'm not sure what you mean by spiritual awakening or meaning here. 

Hell, I still have grave doubts about whether any of this was madness or wisdom.

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"Is it so far from madness to wisdom?" Dany asked. "Ser Jorah, take this maegi and bind her to the pyre."
"To the … my queen, no, hear me …"
"Do as I say." Still he hesitated, until her anger flared. "You swore to obey me, whatever might come. Rakharo, help him."
The godswife did not cry out as they dragged her to Khal Drogo's pyre and staked her down amidst his treasures. Dany poured the oil over the woman's head herself. "I thank you, Mirri Maz Duur," she said, "for the lessons you have taught me."
"You will not hear me scream," Mirri responded as the oil dripped from her hair and soaked her clothing.
"I will," Dany said, "but it is not your screams I want, only your life. I remember what you told me. Only death can pay for life." Mirri Maz Duur opened her mouth, but made no reply. As she stepped away, Dany saw that the contempt was gone from the maegi's flat black eyes; in its place was something that might have been fear. Then there was nothing to be done but watch the sun and look for the first star.
When a horselord dies, his horse is slain with him, so he might ride proud into the night lands. The bodies are burned beneath the open sky, and the khal rises on his fiery steed to take his place among the stars. The more fiercely the man burned in life, the brighter his star will shine in the darkness.
Jhogo spied it first. "There," he said in a hushed voice. Dany looked and saw it, low in the east. The first star was a comet, burning red. Bloodred; fire red; the dragon's tail. She could not have asked for a stronger sign.
 
A Game of Thrones - Daenerys X

But, the astronomical and mythological references abound.

The birth of dragons waits for the sun to go down and the first star to come out, in this miraculous case instead of the normal Evenstar (Venus/Love), it is the comet of fire and blood.

It is an exceptional moment outside the normal order of things.

As an aside, I can't help but think of JRR Tolkien's poem in The Lord of the Rings (based on "The Wanderer") when discussion this scene:

Where now the horse and the rider? Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk, and the bright hair flowing?
Where is the hand on the harpstring, and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest and the tall corn growing?
They have passed like rain on the mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West behind the hills into shadow.
Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?

Edited by Mourning Star

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17 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I don't follow your thinking here...

Martin says Melisande is the most misunderstood character.  What does he mean by that?  He is pointing us towards her for some reason.  Dany's transformation in the wake the dragon dream give a different meaning to the rituals that Mel follows, specifically what she says rather than what she does.

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A Game of Thrones - Daenerys III

Day followed day, and night followed night, until Dany knew she could not endure a moment longer. She would kill herself rather than go on, she decided one night …

Yet when she slept that night, she dreamt the dragon dream again. Viserys was not in it this time. There was only her and the dragon. Its scales were black as night, wet and slick with blood. Her blood, Dany sensed. Its eyes were pools of molten magma, and when it opened its mouth, the flame came roaring out in a hot jet. She could hear it singing to her. She opened her arms to the fire, embraced it, let it swallow her whole, let it cleanse her and temper her and scour her clean. She could feel her flesh sear and blacken and slough away, could feel her blood boil and turn to steam, and yet there was no pain. She felt strong and new and fierce.

 This description is a transformation of the soul,  It's the holy fire, or the soul of fire that cleanses her, heals and changes her.  This is something that is reflected in Mel's fiery sacrifices.  Mel might believe that this pleases R'hllor. that their souls are being cleansed before ascending to the light.  Followers of R'hllor are asking to be transformed:

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A Dance with Dragons - The King's Prize

Even the nightfire shrank and grew feeble, to the dismay of the queen's men. "Lord of Light, preserve us from this evil," they prayed, led by the deep voice of Ser Godry the Giantslayer. "Show us your bright sun again, still these winds, and melt these snows, that we may reach your foes and smite them. The night is dark and cold and full of terrors, but yours is the power and glory and the light. R'hllor, fill us with your fire."

The power and the glory are words straight out of Christian prayer book.  They are asking to be filled with fire.  The true meaning of that is described in Dany's experience.  These religious cants tell us about the real thing, but they are imitations or going through the motions rather than the real thing.  The lord of light chooses his own instruments as he wills according to Mel.  The Chosen aren't even likely to know that they are chosen or for what purpose.

I think there is a lot to unpack about the red religion and the way Martin is using it.  

Another appeal to the Lord of Light that reflects what actually happened to Dany:

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A Dance with Dragons - The Sacrifice

Ser Corliss Penny stepped forward, clutching the torch with both hands. He swung it about his head in a circle, fanning the flames. One of the captives began to whimper.

"R'hllor," Ser Godry sang, "we give you now four evil men. With glad hearts and true, we give them to your cleansing fires, that the darkness in their souls might be burned away. Let their vile flesh be seared and blackened, that their spirits might rise free and pure to ascend into the light. Accept their blood, Oh lord, and melt the icy chains that bind your servants. Hear their pain, and grant strength to our swords that we might shed the blood of your enemies. Accept this sacrifice, and show us the way to Winterfell, that we might vanquish the unbelievers."

Burn away the darkness in their souls, the cleansing fire, burn the vile flesh so that that their souls will ascend into the light.

This gives new meaning to Quaithe's instruction that Dany must pass beneath the shadow to touch the light.  In this case, the shadow is a place.  The shadow of the mother of mountains where she will join the crones at Vaes Dothrak and become one of the seven.  The crone that lights the way, shows the path and gives strength to the warrior of light.

This passage may be foreshadowing of the seven wanderers given to R'hllor:

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A Clash of Kings - Davos I

The red woman walked round the fire three times, praying once in the speech of Asshai, once in High Valyrian, and once in the Common Tongue. Davos understood only the last. "R'hllor, come to us in our darkness," she called. "Lord of Light, we offer you these false gods, these seven who are one, and him the enemy. Take them and cast your light upon us, for the night is dark and full of terrors." Queen Selyse echoed the words. Beside her, Stannis watched impassively, his jaw hard as stone under the blue-black shadow of his tight-cropped beard. He had dressed more richly than was his wont, as if for the sept.

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A Clash of Kings - Davos I

"And you, my lord."

"I made note of you this morning as well. The false gods burned with a merry light, did they not?"

"They burned brightly." Davos did not trust this man, for all his courtesy. House Florent had declared for Renly.

 

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A Clash of Kings - Davos I

The burning gods cast a pretty light, wreathed in their robes of shifting flame, red and orange and yellow. Septon Barre had once told Davos how they'd been carved from the masts of the ships that had carried the first Targaryens from Valyria. Over the centuries, they had been painted and repainted, gilded, silvered, jeweled. "Their beauty will make them more pleasing to R'hllor," Melisandre said when she told Stannis to pull them down and drag them out the castle gates.

 The question becomes who will R'hllor choose to transform and who will cast the light of R'hllor?  It seems likely to me that the maid is Brienne the beauty and Jaime:

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A Game of Thrones - Bran III

He looked south, and saw the great blue-green rush of the Trident. He saw his father pleading with the king, his face etched with grief. He saw Sansa crying herself to sleep at night, and he saw Arya watching in silence and holding her secrets hard in her heart. There were shadows all around them. One shadow was dark as ash, with the terrible face of a hound. Another was armored like the sun, golden and beautiful. Over them both loomed a giant in armor made of stone, but when he opened his visor, there was nothing inside but darkness and thick black blood.

Martin uses more than one character to spill information.  He has also set up certain bias early in the books.  A good example of that is the tory of AA forging his sword without eating or sleeping for 120 days.  That's a story we dismiss because it is so fantastical.  We hang that on Melisandre.  However, Martin tells us later that Mel doesn't need to eat or sleep.  Conclusion:  AA was a creature like Mel.  What she said is no longer fantastical and we get a bit of insight into AA and the origins of the sword. 

Mel is always telling about light and shadow; that they can't exist without the other.  That begs the question:  who will be the seven representing the forces of light and who will represent the forces of darkness.  Davos has already pegged Melisandre as the Mother of Darkness.

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A Storm of Swords - Davos III

"I am like this torch, Ser Davos. We are both instruments of R'hllor. We were made for a single purpose—to keep the darkness at bay. Do you believe that?"

"No." Perhaps he should have lied, and told her what she wanted to hear, but Davos was too accustomed to speaking truth. "You are the mother of darkness. I saw that under Storm's End, when you gave birth before my eyes."

She might even reflect the Morrigan - maid, mother of darkness and crone.  The same for Dany who has been maid, mother of dragons and soon, the crone.  Mel is a torch in the most literal sense.  She doesn't reflect the light, she creates the darkness.  Dany is her opposite.

Edited by LynnS

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17 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

When a horselord dies, his horse is slain with him, so he might ride proud into the night lands. The bodies are burned beneath the open sky, and the khal rises on his fiery steed to take his place among the stars. The more fiercely the man burned in life, the brighter his star will shine in the darkness.
Jhogo spied it first. "There," he said in a hushed voice. Dany looked and saw it, low in the east. The first star was a comet, burning red. Bloodred; fire red; the dragon's tail. She could not have asked for a stronger sign.

This caught my eye.  Who is burning fiercely in the books right now?  Is it Tyrion chasing the dragon's tail?

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A Dance with Dragons - Tyrion VIII

"Someone told me that the night is dark and full of terrors. What do you see in those flames?"

"Dragons," Moqorro said in the Common Tongue of Westeros. He spoke it very well, with hardly a trace of accent. No doubt that was one reason the high priest Benerro had chosen him to bring the faith of R'hllor to Daenerys Targaryen. "Dragons old and young, true and false, bright and dark. And you. A small man with a big shadow, snarling in the midst of all."

 

Edited by LynnS

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20 hours ago, LynnS said:

I'm not sure that Wall works one way.  It's a demarcation separating the land.  Men can go so far and no further. This is the preserve of the COTF and old gods.  The wall is like a sword placed across the knee:  you are not welcome here.  There is a threat implied.  The WW's are held in check by the Wall in some fashion.  The purpose of the WWs may be to protect that territory but the only thing holding them back is the Wall.

As for the material used to build it; ice is elemental magic.  Why did Brandon the Builder use it?  Perhaps it is part magical and part practical.  Ice blocks are easier to harvest than stone.

The Wall is more than ice and stone:

  

Well, this is wrong on the facts because men did go north of the Wall right from the beginning and continue to go north of the Wall to this day. At the same time, the men already living north of the Wall have little trouble getting past it to invade the south. So magically or otherwise, the Wall has absolutely no affect on men and in no way protects or preserves Other or children territory.

There is also no evidence that the Wall holds the walkers in check. The only thing we know about it is that Coldhands could not cross, and Silverwing refused to. So it's a leap to assume that it somehow prevents the walkers, despite what Dalla says.

Ice blocks are not easier to harvest than stone when there is no ice around, which would be the case when the Wall was being built as the Long Night receded. Stone, wood, dirt and all the other things needed to build a Wall would be right there, right where they are building it. So resorting to ice introduce all sorts of physical and logistical problems. And again, if the Brandon the B stories are true, he built everything else out of wood, stone, etc., So why would he suddenly switch to ice in order to stop ice creatures that see ice as their natural element and who themselves build things out of ice?

Sorry, but it makes far more sense that the Others built the Wall, and when they retreated men took it over. And this also fits with your contention that the Wall is merely a demarcation line preserving the Other/CotF area. Others and CotF would build a wall for this purpose, men would not.

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1 hour ago, John Suburbs said:

Sorry, but it makes far more sense that the Others built the Wall, and when they retreated men took it over. And this also fits with your contention that the Wall is merely a demarcation line preserving the Other/CotF area. Others and CotF would build a wall for this purpose, men would not.

OK stick with that.  We're too far apart on this one, but thanks for commenting.  You might want to open up another OP and invite other members to join in.   A friend is in heart surgery right now and I am really not interested in talking about much right now.  You'll get a better hearing from other people.

Edited by LynnS

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6 hours ago, LynnS said:

Martin says Melisande is the most misunderstood character.  What does he mean by that?  He is pointing us towards her for some reason.  Dany's transformation in the wake the dragon dream give a different meaning to the rituals that Mel follows, specifically what she says rather than what she does.

It's funny to come out with such different interpretations...

I think people tend to think Melisandre is either someone willing to do what is necessary to defeat evil, or is somehow representing this great dualistic struggle.

I think that, like pretty much every human character, her motivations are personal.

I think she is a wildly misguided religious zealot who does great evil in the name of good, and I would be immensely surprised if she is ever redeemed, especially as it sure seems like she will end up supporting Euron.

I don't think she is inherently evil, but she has clearly suffered and fallen for a world view that leads her to do great harm.

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 This description is a transformation of the soul,  It's the holy fire, or the soul of fire that cleanses her, heals and changes her.  This is something that is reflected in Mel's fiery sacrifices.  Mel might believe that this pleases R'hllor. that their souls are being cleansed before ascending to the light.  Followers of R'hllor are asking to be transformed:

Maybe? It's a description of something, but I'm not at all so sure it's comparable to Mel or Beric.

Dany is special, Dany is unburnt, it was a miracle. We see from the bit you quoted that she is not consumed by the fire.

However, I do not think the same can be said for others, like Mel and Beric.

 

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The power and the glory are words straight out of Christian prayer book.  They are asking to be filled with fire.  The true meaning of that is described in Dany's experience.  These religious cants tell us about the real thing, but they are imitations or going through the motions rather than the real thing.  The lord of light chooses his own instruments as he wills according to Mel.  The Chosen aren't even likely to know that they are chosen or for what purpose.

So here is where I think we are reading this from wildly different perspectives. I don't think that the religion is telling us about the real thing at all, but rather it is obfuscating the truth (and the past).

"The power and the glory" are from the doxology at the end of the Lord's Prayer in Mathew 6:13, part of The Sermon on the Mount, one of the most famous sections of the New Testament (although, perhaps interestingly, not in Luke, and may in fact be a more modern addition to the rest of the verse). For the Anglican churches, it is even part of the evensong (evening prayer).

I find it of particular interest that there is relevant theological debate over this section:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver
us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and
the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
-The King James Bible, Mathew 6:13

Is it god that leads man into temptation? That would seem to be the literal translation, but obviously causes philosophical issues (the nature of evil being one of the big philosophical/theological debate points). Not to mention debates over the "original" translation.

Even better in relation to R'hloo, is this implication about "temptation" if we remember that "fire" is synonymous with "desire" in Frost's "Fire and Ice" from which the series A Song of Ice and Fire get's it's name, and the ending of the world.

From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire

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I think there is a lot to unpack about the red religion and the way Martin is using it.  

On that we agree!

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Another appeal to the Lord of Light that reflects what actually happened to Dany:

A Dance with Dragons - The Sacrifice

Ser Corliss Penny stepped forward, clutching the torch with both hands. He swung it about his head in a circle, fanning the flames. One of the captives began to whimper.

"R'hllor," Ser Godry sang, "we give you now four evil men. With glad hearts and true, we give them to your cleansing fires, that the darkness in their souls might be burned away. Let their vile flesh be seared and blackened, that their spirits might rise free and pure to ascend into the light. Accept their blood, Oh lord, and melt the icy chains that bind your servants. Hear their pain, and grant strength to our swords that we might shed the blood of your enemies. Accept this sacrifice, and show us the way to Winterfell, that we might vanquish the unbelievers."

Burn away the darkness in their souls, the cleansing fire, burn the vile flesh so that that their souls will ascend into the light.

I am super suspicious of this sort of stuff though... It seems more to me that it's beric being burned away to keep his flesh alive.

Not only that, while I'm not sure I trust Aemon's assessment of everything in this series, this section certainly seems relevant and hits home:

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

A Feast for Crows - Samwell IV

Anyone claiming to know what happens after you die should be held in the highest suspicion.

And this is another of those major theological discussion points.

As it happens, we do see what happens to Varamyr's "soul" in his prologue chapter, and it certainly doesn't require any purification by fire.

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This gives new meaning to Quaithe's instruction that Dany must pass beneath the shadow to touch the light.  In this case, the shadow is a place.  The shadow of the mother of mountains where she will join the crones at Vaes Dothrak and become one of the seven.  The crone that lights the way, shows the path and gives strength to the warrior of light.

You lost me... but it's fun to speculate!

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This passage may be foreshadowing of the seven wanderers given to R'hllor:

The question becomes who will R'hllor choose to transform and who will cast the light of R'hllor?  It seems likely to me that the maid is Brienne the beauty and Jaime:

I think this is more a case of the "Seven" representing Mankind and R'hloo burning/consuming, and the whole "if you aren't one of us you are an enemy" mindset is horrifying.

I see nothing here about rebirth. To me this, like the burning of the Godswood at Stormsend, seem like great crimes.

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Martin uses more than one character to spill information.  He has also set up certain bias early in the books.  A good example of that is the tory of AA forging his sword without eating or sleeping for 120 days.  That's a story we dismiss because it is so fantastical.  We hang that on Melisandre.  However, Martin tells us later that Mel doesn't need to eat or sleep.  Conclusion:  AA was a creature like Mel.  What she said is no longer fantastical and we get a bit of insight into AA and the origins of the sword. 

I don't know that I agree at all here, nor am I convinced that Azor Ahai wasn't the villain of this story.

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Mel is always telling about light and shadow; that they can't exist without the other.  That begs the question:  who will be the seven representing the forces of light and who will represent the forces of darkness.  Davos has already pegged Melisandre as the Mother of Darkness.

What? 

It's more revealing about her, that she sees the world as black and white, than her observation is a meaningful representation of the world. 

I have no idea where you are getting the seven of light vs seven of darkness bit... I do not think this is a story about good versus evil in that traditional sense.

No, when it comes to shadows, I'm more inclined to listen to Varys:

"Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less."
"So power is a mummer's trick?"
"A shadow on the wall," Varys murmured, "yet shadows can kill. And ofttimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow."

Faith, religious or otherwise, is a source of power, and Melisandre is a kind of mummer even by her own description.

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She might even reflect the Morrigan - maid, mother of darkness and crone.  The same for Dany who has been maid, mother of dragons and soon, the crone.  Mel is a torch in the most literal sense.  She doesn't reflect the light, she creates the darkness.  Dany is her opposite.

I love mythological references but you've completely lost me here.

Edited by Mourning Star

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On 6/1/2021 at 8:36 AM, LynnS said:

A simple question.  What kind of visual or mental image does this description of the Dawn Sword leave in your mind's eye?  Describe the sword. 

Dawn is unusual in appearance but still recognizable as a blade. Ned was in a dreamworld when we were given this window into his memory. I am in doubt if Dawn really looked like that in real life.  Choose what you believe but it was either a dream distortion or Ned was seeing the real Dawn.  He saw how Dawn should look and what it’s true nature was in his dream state. The painkillers expanded his perception so that he saw the real nature of Dawn even through his memory. The black candles are lit to indicate the rise in White Walker movement. They’re barometers that can be used to prepare people for a long winter. Dawn will light up when Daenerys and her dragons are ready for Spring. 

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5 hours ago, Prince Rhaego Targaryen said:

Dawn is unusual in appearance but still recognizable as a blade. Ned was in a dreamworld when we were given this window into his memory. I am in doubt if Dawn really looked like that in real life.  Choose what you believe but it was either a dream distortion or Ned was seeing the real Dawn.  He saw how Dawn should look and what it’s true nature was in his dream state. The painkillers expanded his perception so that he saw the real nature of Dawn even through his memory. The black candles are lit to indicate the rise in White Walker movement. They’re barometers that can be used to prepare people for a long winter. Dawn will light up when Daenerys and her dragons are ready for Spring. 

These are very good points.  

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17 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

It's funny to come out with such different interpretations...

Well, we are looking at this using different lenses or frames.  I'm not really looking at Melisandre's morality.  She is a dark creature to me because of what she does and the way she manipulates.  At the same time, she knows something about the Others and the Long Night.  I'm putting my preconceived notions aside and looking for subtext; things that Martin is letting slip that can inform us about the Red Religion and prophecy.   

17 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

However, I do not think the same can be said for others, like Mel and Beric.

Correct.  It's not the same thing.  Dany represents what it actually means to be cleansed by fire.  This is spiritual fire not actual fire. Beric and Mel are lesser imitations.  This is reflected in the ritual where the darkness in the soul is burned away by holy fire and the soul can ascend to the light.  So far, Dany is the only one who has been chosen for this transformation.

17 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

Not only that, while I'm not sure I trust Aemon's assessment of everything in this series, this section certainly seems relevant and hits home:

Yes, Melisandre is deceiving herself as far as the prophecy goes.  She thinks she can make Stannis into AA; but that is not going to be her choice.

17 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

As it happens, we do see what happens to Varamyr's "soul" in his prologue chapter, and it certainly doesn't require any purification by fire.

This informs what happens to the souls of wargs and skinchangers.  It doesn't say anything about the souls of regular people burned at the stake.  I'm not suggesting that this is what happens to their souls.   What the red religion promises is that they will undergo a spiritual transformation like Dany.  Of course actually burning someone consumes the flesh but this is not what happens literally to Dany.  She is joined with the soul of fire, she becomes the bride of fire and mother of dragons.  She is given temporary immunity to fire.  

17 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I think this is more a case of the "Seven" representing Mankind and R'hloo burning/consuming, and the whole "if you aren't one of us you are an enemy" mindset is horrifying.

I think there are some crossover elements between Red Rahloo and the Faith.  We saw this with early Christianity adopting elements of paganism.  The standout is the bleeding star itself.

17 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I don't know that I agree at all here, nor am I convinced that Azor Ahai wasn't the villain of this story.

Again, I'm not talking about villains.  We don't know the whole story of AA or when he existed.  But we know more than we did, if you recognize that he didn't have to eat or sleep for 120 days.  Mel doen't need to eat or drink either.  What does that tell you about AA?  He forged his sword in a temple with holy fire.  Potentially, the red religion grew up around this figure from the past. 

17 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

It's more revealing about her, that she sees the world as black and white, than her observation is a meaningful representation of the world. 

I'll rephrase the question:  What is Martin telling us about light and darkness using Mel as his voice?  Martin is talking about the light and darkness of the soul.

17 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

I love mythological references but you've completely lost me here.

We do have House Morrigan.  Martin has dropped that into the books for some reason.  The Morrigan is a triple deity embodying the maid, mother and crone.    He's included these three in the Faith.   It's also a transformation of the feminine going through life. Dany has been the maid, the mother and will soon be a crone when she arrives at Vaes Dothrak.  

Morrigan – Mythopedia

What I'm suggesting is that Martin is going to employ a dark version and a light version of this archetype.  Davos has already called Melisandre the Mother of Darkness.  In spite of her appearance, she is very old, a crone in other words.  

 

 

Edited by LynnS

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4 hours ago, LynnS said:

Correct.  It's not the same thing.  Dany represents what it actually means to be cleansed by fire.  This is spiritual fire not actual fire. Beric and Mel are lesser imitations.  This is reflected in the ritual where the darkness in the soul is burned away by holy fire and the soul can ascend to the light.  So far, Dany is the only one who has been chosen for this transformation.

 

I still don’t know what transformation you are talking about… what does it actually mean to be cleansed by fire?

What is being cleansed? I think this is a trap. 
 

Much like how the series starts with a lesson about fear, and how one can only be brave when you are afraid… not knowing fear is a fault.

The whole idea that someone would try to purge themselves of perceived faults is not a good thing.

4 hours ago, LynnS said:

I'll rephrase the question:  What is Martin telling us about light and darkness using Mel as his voice?  Martin is talking about the light and darkness of the soul.

That she is a zealot and seeing the world as purely white and black, good and evil, is a huge mistake. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Melisandre is a clearly misguided individual. Building a worldview around some two sided cosmic war is not only stupid, it leads to making horrible choices.

And let’s be honest, it’s Davos who tells us the truth, your heart should be full of doubt.

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27 minutes ago, Mourning Star said:
 

I still don’t know what transformation you are talking about… what does it actually mean to be cleansed by fire?

What is being cleansed? I think this is a trap. 
 

Much like how the series starts with a lesson about fear, and how one can only be brave when you are afraid… not knowing fear is a fault.

The whole idea that someone would try to purge themselves of perceived faults is not a good thing.

That she is a zealot and seeing the world as purely white and black, good and evil, is a huge mistake. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Melisandre is a clearly misguided individual. Building a worldview around some two sided cosmic war is not only stupid, it leads to making horrible choices.

And let’s be honest, it’s Davos who tells us the truth, your heart should be full of doubt.

Yes all true.  I'm not making an argument about Melisandre's morality at all.  That is just simply not what I am trying to examine.  This has nothing to do with my heart.   I have a good BS detector and I know from personal experience what it is like for someone to die from 3rd degree burns over 90% of their body.  

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6 hours ago, LynnS said:

I'm putting my preconceived notions aside and looking for subtext; things that Martin is letting slip that can inform us about the Red Religion and prophecy.   

I think this is a great approach to gaining insight about the swords Dawn and/or Lightbringer.

Jeor Mormont posed the question to Jon Snow, "do you carry a grumkin in your pocket to magic up your sword?" Melisandre has used tricks from her pockets to magic up a sword for Stannis. Another priest of R'hllor, Thoros of Myr, uses cheap swords treated with wildfire as a gimmick to create a flaming sword that scares horses of melee competitors. (It may be important to note that this often works for Thoros: he has defeated Sandor Clegane three times and is beaten at Joffrey's name day tourney by Yohn Royce only after his sword sputters out.) 

Beric Dondarrion, a follower of the Lord of Light, uses his own blood to light his sword on fire. 

Comparing Melisandre and Thoros might lead to sword insights because of their common "kissed by fire" symbolism:

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Ygritte had been kissed by fire; the red priestess was fire, and her hair was blood and flame. (ADwD, Jon I)

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When he turned he saw Ygritte.

She stood beneath the scorched stones of the Lord Commander's Tower, cloaked in darkness and in memory. The light of the moon was in her hair, her red hair kissed by fire. When he saw that, Jon's heart leapt into his mouth. "Ygritte," he said.

"Lord Snow." The voice was Melisandre's.

Surprise made him recoil from her. "Lady Melisandre." He took a step backwards. "I mistook you for someone else." At night all robes are grey. Yet suddenly hers were red. He did not understand how he could have taken her for Ygritte. She was taller, thinner, older, though the moonlight washed years from her face. Mist rose from her nostrils, and from pale hands naked to the night. "You will freeze your fingers off," Jon warned. (ADwD, Jon VI)

We know that Thoros "kisses" Beric to bring him back to life and Beric eventually kisses Catelyn to bring Lady Stoneheart to life. So the magical weapons may require a kiss of fire to reach their full potential. 

To my mind, a kiss of fire could allude to the forging process which alternates heat and cooling (along with hammering) to temper the blade. This could bring us back to Azor Ahai or, on a more general plane, it could encourage us to examine "smiths" who turn people into weapons. My current line of thinking draws again on that distinction offered by Greek mythology (and cited by @Mourning Star earlier in this thread): that dawn and dawn-bringer are not the same person or entity. Jon mistakes Melisandre for Ygritte, but he has told us that Ygritte was kissed by fire while Melisandre actually IS fire. Could this mean that Ygritte is a sword while Melisandre is the smith? Or is Melisandre truly just fire, a tool of the smith, and there is another power behind her who is the smith? 

I have been pondering Rorge and Biter in connection with the sword / smith distinction. An SSM describes the back story for Rorge and Biter:

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According to semi-canon sources, Rorge ran a dog and bear fighting pit in Flea Bottom. He found Biter as an orphan and raised him ferally to fight dogs in the pit. [So Spake Martin: Canadian Signing Tour (Vancouver), January 13, 2006]

So Biter is a weapon, of sorts: this fits with my suspicion around the wordplay of "biter" and "bitter," with bitter alluding to Bittersteel, the exiled supporter of the Blackfyre bloodline and the Great Bastard brother of Bloodraven. 

The wordplay around Rorge is probably linked to House Rogare and Rogar Baratheon, both of whom are famed for their intermarriages with House Targaryen. The wordplay might even extend to Rhaegar and Rhaego and related names. But I'm thinking the fundamental, underlying allusion is to the word "forge." This would make sense if Rorge was the one who found and raised Biter to be a fighter: he is a smith who made a weapon. 

Here's how Jaqen H'ghar introduced his fellow prisoners to Arya:

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This man's ill-bred companions in captivity are named Rorge"—he waved his tankard at the noseless man—"and Biter." Biter hissed at her again, displaying a mouthful of yellowed teeth filed into points. "A man must have some name, is that not so? Biter cannot speak and Biter cannot write, yet his teeth are very sharp, so a man calls him Biter and he smiles. Are you charmed?" (ACoK, Arya II)

Sounds like a weapon, doesn't he? 

The smith / weapon metaphor gets particularly interesting, to me, when Rorge and Biter finally die. The location is the inn at the crossroads, a significant location for turning points in the plot of ASOIAF (and probably in Westeros history). Rorge and Biter and their fellow travelers previously killed the innkeeper. Rorge is wearing the Hound's helmet so he can be seen as a "reborn" Hound (although readers soon meet others with that symbolic role). Brienne kills Rorge but is gravely maimed and almost dies before Gendry kills Biter by running his sword through the back of Biter's head. We know that Gendry is a smith. Is running his sword through Biter's head similar to Azor Ahai running his sword through the body of Nissa Nissa? We are often reminded that Brienne is a giant; the smith Donal Noye was killed by a giant (although he killed the giant at the same time). Jaqen told us that Biter can't speak but Brienne imagines a tongue coming out of his mouth until she realizes that it is the blade of Gendry's sword. 

Thoros of Myr is the healer who saves Brienne from the wounds she suffered in this combat. So interesting that Thoros declined to revive Catelyn / Lady Stoneheart but he does revive Brienne, who was sworn to Catelyn's service. If Thoros is a smith, it's almost as if there are two swords - Catelyn and Brienne - but Thoros has made only one of them. The idioms "spreading like wildfire" or "a double-edged sword" may apply, though: Thoros kissed the "weapon" Beric Dondarrion and Beric used that magic to create the weapon Lady Stoneheart. 

Melisandre may be a smith for Stannis and/or she may have taken over the role from Ygritte or even Lord Commander Mormont in turning Jon Snow into a weapon. But one of her clearest "smith" performances is in the death of Mance Rayder / Rattleshirt. She uses flames, one of the important tools for a smith. It appears that she has burned Mance to death, but she has actually made him into a weapon: a glamor who (it appears) is forced to do her bidding as an agent to liberate fArya from Winterfell. 

These ideas all come from a fairly recent line of thinking, though, as I mentioned. There are some aspects of the smith / weapon theory I haven't figured out: Jon Snow takes over and sleeps in Donal Noye's quarters when he becomes Lord Commander, as Mormont's tower has not yet been repaired after the fire there. So is Jon Snow a sword or a smith? The situation of Jon Snow as an heir of Donal Noye reminds me of Ser Arlan of Pennytree as one of the smiths who shapes Ser Duncan the Tall as a weapon (and as a giant?). Dunk becomes Ser Arlan's heir, using his sword, war horse and other meager possessions. But is Dunk a smith? Is he shaping his squire, Egg, to become a weapon, or are they both being shaped by Bloodraven?

If my anagram obsession is relevant here, "Donal Noye smith" could be a Dayne allusion, which makes his role particularly relevant in sorting out the ongoing meaning of the Dawn sword in ASOIAF. Note, too, that Noye was the smith at Storm's End before he lost an arm, and he made Robert's hammer that killed Rhaegar. Many threads in this forum have explored the notion of Mance Rayder as a symbolic Rhaegar. Does that tie Donal Noye to Melisandre again, as his hammer creation killed Rhaegar and her fire "killed" Mance? 

 

Edited by Seams

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1 hour ago, Seams said:

Comparing Melisandre and Thoros might lead to sword insights because of their common "kissed by fire" symbolism

Your interpretations always fascinate me.  I'm just not very adept at using your lens but it always triggers something for me.  In this case "kissed by fire" and "the others take you" seem to be relics from historical events that have made it into the general lexicon of the population.  Readers are aware that there is another deeper meaning.  The question is how do the wildlings come by this saying; how have they experienced the kiss of fire in the past?

I'm still thinking about an earlier post you made about ingesting parts of another with Othor as the example.  I'm reminded of the Catholic eucharist and transforming bread and wine into the body and blood, taking the grace of god into your own soul.  The cup of fire and the cup of ice seem to be Martin's cup of wine transforming the blood.

As to smiths creating forging weapons/warriors, I think it works.  The smith and warrior seem to be a pair:

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A Clash of Kings - Davos I

They were all afire now, Maid and Mother, Warrior and Smith, the Crone with her pearl eyes and the Father with his gilded beard; even the Stranger, carved to look more animal than human. The old dry wood and countless layers of paint and varnish blazed with a fierce hungry light. Heat rose shimmering through the chill air; behind, the gargoyles and stone dragons on the castle walls seemed blurred, as if Davos were seeing them through a veil of tears. Or as if the beasts were trembling, stirring . . .

 

I don't know if Mel is a smith.  She is certainly trying to make a weapon out of Stannis.  She also embodies the crone as she attempts to show him the path she wants him to take.

It's interesting to see how the seven are paired and what attributes are given to them.  A few examples.

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A Storm of Swords - Davos VI

When he was a boy, the septons had taught Davos to pray to the Crone for wisdom, to the Warrior for courage, to the Smith for strength. But it was the Mother he prayed to now, to keep his sweet son Devan safe from the red woman's demon god.

 

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A Feast for Crows - Brienne I

"Voices, raised in prayer." Brienne knew the chant. They are beseeching the Warrior for protection, asking the Crone to light their way.

 

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A Feast for Crows - Jaime II

A flush crept up Lancel's cheeks. "I pray for you, cousin. And for Her Grace the queen. May the Crone lead her to her wisdom and the Warrior defend her."

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A Feast for Crows - Jaime IV

"If I pray nicely, will the Father give me a new hand?"

"No. But the Warrior will give you courage, the Smith will lend you strength, and the Crone will give you wisdom."

 

Quote

 

A Dance with Dragons - Cersei I

And she had prayed. Oh, how she had prayed. Prayer was what they wanted, so she served it to them, served it on her knees as if she were some common trollop of the streets and not a daughter of the Rock. She had prayed for relief, for deliverance, for Jaime. Loudly she asked the gods to defend her in her innocence; silently she prayed for her accusers to suffer sudden, painful deaths. She prayed until her knees were raw and bloody, until her tongue felt so thick and heavy that she was like to choke on it. All the prayers they had taught her as a girl came back to Cersei in her cell, and she made up new ones as needed, calling on the Mother and the Maiden, on the Father and the Warrior, on the Crone and the Smith. She had even prayed to the Stranger. Any god in a storm. The Seven proved as deaf as their earthly servants. Cersei gave them all the words that she had in her, gave them everything but tears. That they will never have, she told herself.

 

   

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4 hours ago, LynnS said:

I'm still thinking about an earlier post you made about ingesting parts of another with Othor as the example.

I've been thinking about this, too. Trying to decode the scene where Aliser Thorne travels to King's Landing to beg for more support for the Night's Watch. He brings the disembodied hand of Jaffer Flowers, I believe, to show the court that The Others are real, but the hand "dies" while Thorne waits to be granted an audience with Tyrion, the acting Hand of the King. 

I wonder whether we are supposed to compare Tyrion and the dead wighted hand to Jon Snow and Othor's hands? 

Aliser Thorne is the Master at Arms at Castle Black, so Tyrion, as "hand" misses his chance to get an arm. 

That particular arm might allude to Joffrey, as Jaffer is somewhat close to the name Joffrey, and the name Flowers is used for bastards from the West. 

The ingesting of "hands" came in an earlier scene: Tyrion and Ser Aliser had a confrontation over Tyrion ingesting crab claws. Ser Aliser did not eat any crab, as I recall, and he challenged Tyrion to a duel which Tyrion turned into a joke. 

Tyrion is sitting on the Iron Throne when he receives Ser Aliser. I have always thought there is wordplay on Thorne and throne, but I'm not sure what it means except, here again, we have a chair made out of swords and Ser Aliser is the Master at Arms. And I'm not sure what it means that Tyrion refuses to engage with Thorne or the dead hand he carries, unlike Jon Snow, who combated Othor and "ingested" his dead hand. Maybe it's just foreshadowing that Jon will play a role in defeating the Others and Tyrion will not?

Tyrion sends Ser Aliser away with minimal support and he jokes (yet again) that they should provide shovels to the Night's Watch so they can properly bury their dead. The shovel remark links this Ser Aliser scene to the Hound, if you believe that Sandor Clegane is the Gravedigger on the Quiet Isle. 

So we see Rorge (in the Hound helmet) attacking Brienne; Lem Lemoncloak (in the Hound helmet) hanging Brienne and Ser Aliser offered shovels to allow him to be a better gravedigger (also a Sandor allusion). Thoros, who revives Brienne, is renowned for defeating The Hound three times (in tourneys). All linked to smiths, kisses of fire (Lem is suspected of being Lonmouth, the knight of Skulls and Kisses) and flaming swords. 

But thorns are also associated with roses and Brienne hates roses. 

Where is this all taking us?

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