Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Targaryeninkingslanding

Beware the Blackwoods

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Mourning Star said:

Yes, clearly he is bad, but not because he is talking corpse. Bloodraven ruled Westeros as king in all but name during a reign of terror, he violated every law of gods and men, he abandoned his post,

He disappeared on a ranging.  That doesn't mean he abandoned his post.   I assume he was contacted by someone or something and lured out from the Wall.  Was he also contacted by the three eyed crow?

If you want to get into symbolism here; then I suggest that BR is represented by the chestnut tree:

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Jon V

Jon glanced back at the face, wondering who had carved it. He had posted guards around Mole's Town, both to keep his crows away from the wildling women and to keep the free folk from slipping off southward to raid. Whoever had carved up the ash had eluded his sentries, plainly. And if one man could slip through the cordon, others could as well. I could double the guard again, he thought sourly. Waste twice as many men, men who might otherwise be walking the Wall.

The wagons continued on their slow way south through frozen mud and blowing snow. A mile farther on, they came upon a second face, carved into a chestnut tree that grew beside an icy stream, where its eyes could watch the old plank bridge that spanned its flow. "Twice as much trouble," announced Dolorous Edd.

The chestnut was leafless and skeletal, but its bare brown limbs were not empty. On a low branch overhanging the stream a raven sat hunched, its feathers ruffled up against the cold. When it spied Jon it spread its wings and gave a scream. When he raised his fist and whistled, the big black bird came flapping down, crying, "Corn, corn, corn."

It's not the first time Jon comes across a chestnut tree:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Jon III

On his way back, Jon swung wide of the column's line of march and took a shorter path through the thick of the wood. The sounds of man and horse diminished, swallowed up by the wet green wild, and soon enough he could hear only the steady wash of rain against leaf and tree and rock. It was midafternoon, yet the forest seemed as dark as dusk. Jon wove a path between rocks and puddles, past great oaks, grey-green sentinels, and black-barked ironwoods. In places the branches wove a canopy overhead and he was given a moment's respite from the drumming of the rain against his head. As he rode past a lightning-blasted chestnut tree overgrown with wild white roses, he heard something rustling in the underbrush. "Ghost," he called out. "Ghost, to me."

This one is lightning-blasted and covered in wild white roses.  To me this suggests that BR was overcome/damaged and captured by whatever wild white roses represent. 

Blasted definition is - damaged by or as if by an explosive, lightning, wind, or supernatural force.

Edited by LynnS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, LynnS said:

He disappeared on a ranging.  That doesn't mean he abandoned his post.   I assume he was contacted by someone or something and lured out from the Wall.  Was he also contacted by the three eyed crow?

I shall live and die at my post.

Bloodraven is alive. Bloodraven is not at his post. Bloodraven broke his vow.

Even by his own admission he is no longer a man of the Night's Watch:

"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." The clothes he wore were rotten and faded, spotted with moss and eaten through with worms, but once they had been black. "I have been many things, Bran. Now I am as you see me, and now you will understand why I could not come to you … except in dreams. I have watched you for a long time, watched you with a thousand eyes and one. I saw your birth, and that of your lord father before you. I saw your first step, heard your first word, was part of your first dream. I was watching when you fell. And now you are come to me at last, Brandon Stark, though the hour is late."

"Once" implies no longer. "I have been", again implies no longer. Bloodraven is alive and not at his post and no longer considers himself a man of the watch.

Bloodraven broke his vow.

The monsters cannot pass so long as the Wall stands and the men of the Night's Watch stay true, that's what Old Nan used to say. 

Quote

If you want to get into symbolism here; then I suggest that BR is represented by the chestnut tree:

Why? To be honest, Bloodraven being the weirwood isn't even metaphorical, it's literal, and not some sybolic representation but an actual manifestation in the plot.

Bloodraven being the Brooding Weirwood from Bran's dream works for two main reasons besides the obvious fact that a crow is not a raven and you don't bother including a made up phrase like, "the crow called the raven black" in every book for no reason.

First, the wierwood and the crow in Bran's dreams are distinct:

He was scared, even then, but he had sworn to trust them, and a Stark of Winterfell keeps his sworn word. "There's different kinds," he said slowly. "There's the wolf dreams, those aren't so bad as the others. I run and hunt and kill squirrels. And there's dreams where the crow comes and tells me to fly. Sometimes the tree is in those dreams too, calling my name. That frightens me. But the worst dreams are when I fall." He looked down into the yard, feeling miserable. "I never used to fall before. When I climbed. I went everyplace, up on the roofs and along the walls, I used to feed the crows in the Burned Tower. Mother was afraid that I would fall but I knew I never would. Only I did, and now when I sleep I fall all the time."

The fact that the crow sometimes appears with the tree and sometimes they appear separately indicates that they are distinct.

The tree and the crow are separate entities visiting Bran's dreams.

Second, the brooding weirwood notably struggles to speak, or does not speak at all, in dreams:

At the heart of the godswood, the great white weirwood brooded over its reflection in the black pool, its leaves rustling in a chill wind. When it felt Bran watching, it lifted its eyes from the still waters and stared back at him knowingly.

And this is also what Bran himself experiences when he is with Bloodraven and looking out of the Winterfell Weirwood.

He wanted to reach out and touch him, but all that he could do was watch and listen. I am in the tree. I am inside the heart tree, looking out of its red eyes, but the weirwood cannot talk, so I can't.

So it makes sense then, that when we go back and look at the quote above where Bloodraven says he's not a member of the Night's Watch any more, and talks about coming to Bran in Dreams he never mentions speaking:

"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." The clothes he wore were rotten and faded, spotted with moss and eaten through with worms, but once they had been black. "I have been many things, Bran. Now I am as you see me, and now you will understand why I could not come to you … except in dreams. I have watched you for a long time, watched you with a thousand eyes and one. I saw your birth, and that of your lord father before you. I saw your first step, heard your first word, was part of your first dream. I was watching when you fell. And now you are come to me at last, Brandon Stark, though the hour is late."

Bloodraven never claims to have spoken to Bran in his dreams, which obviously makes sense if he was the tree not the crow.

Don't get me wrong, there is tons of symbolism which I think points to Bloodraven not being the three eyed crow, but there is also practical textual evidence, like the above, which also fits with what Mel sees (although I doubt there is any Great Other, any more than there is really a Red R'hloo).

The dark recedes again … for a little while. But beyond the Wall, the enemy grows stronger, and should he win the dawn will never come again. She wondered if it had been his face that she had seen, staring out at her from the flames. No. Surely not. His visage would be more frightening than that, cold and black and too terrible for any man to gaze upon and live. The wooden man she had glimpsed, though, and the boy with the wolf's face … they were his servants, surely … his champions, as Stannis was hers.

Edited by Mourning Star

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Mourning Star said:

Bloodraven never claims to have spoken to Bran in his dreams, which obviously makes sense if he was the tree not the crow.

Let's focus a bit more tightly here.  If Bloodraven is the lightning-blasted chestnu;t can we find something else that might be similar.  What about Hodor?  Martin said that Hodor is only afraid of two things.  One of them is lightning and thunder and we also know that Bran is responsible for Hodor's condition.  Was Hodor lightning blasted by a supernatural force? Is this why he's afraid of the storm.

I'm not arguing about BR being the 3EC.  I'm asking how BR ended up on a weirwood throne.  Whatever his history; he qualifies as a greenseer.  I don't think he abandoned his post, I think he was taken.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, LynnS said:

Let's focus a bit more tightly here.  If Bloodraven is the lightning-blasted chestnu;t can we find something else that might be similar.  What about Hodor?  Martin said that Hodor is only afraid of two things.  One of them is lightning and thunder and we also know that Bran is responsible for Hodor's condition.  Was Hodor lightning blasted by a supernatural force? Is this why he's afraid of the storm.

I'm not arguing about BR being the 3EC.  I'm asking how BR ended up on a weirwood throne.  Whatever his history; he qualifies as a greenseer.  I don't think he abandoned his post, I think he was taken.  

 

I just do not see any evidence for this... although I suppose it's not impossible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 7/7/2021 at 8:07 AM, Mourning Star said:

He is responsible for the return of the Others.

 

Please supply a quote. :dunno:

ETA: Have you read the books?

Edited by Ser Leftwich

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 7/7/2021 at 11:27 PM, Ser Leftwich said:

Please supply a quote. :dunno:

ETA: Have you read the books?

I have! More than once in fact!

And I actually think there are several ways to reach this conclusion. I could go through all the parallels between Bran's journey north and Dany in the House of the Undying, or look at what we know about Bloodraven's past, his crimes against gods and men, behavior in Dunk and Egg, and possible motivations, or explore how a raven is not a crow. But, I think the my favorite quotes to show this relate to Bran's falling dream.

In the prologue we see The Others for the first time, and Waymar Royce, say what you will about him, stands his ground against them, in that moment being a man of the watch. He shows bravery in the face of fear, uttering the fantastic, "dance with me then."

Then in the first chapter, a Bran chapter, we get the lesson explicitly spelled out for us, a man can only be brave when he is afraid, from noble Ned. A beautiful example of how to show then tell in a work of literature.

Later when Bran falls, he sees something very interesting, which I think often goes overlooked, bookended by the lesson on bravery and the Stark words, winter is coming:

Quote

Now you know, the crow whispered as it sat on his shoulder. Now you know why you must live.
Because winter is coming.
Bran looked at the crow on his shoulder, and the crow looked back. It had three eyes, and the third eye was full of a terrible knowledge. Bran looked down. There was nothing below him now but snow and cold and death, a frozen wasteland where jagged blue-white spires of ice waited to embrace him. They flew up at him like spears. He saw the bones of a thousand other dreamers impaled upon their points. He was desperately afraid.
"Can a man still be brave if he's afraid?" he heard his own voice saying, small and far away.
And his father's voice replied to him. "That is the only time a man can be brave."

A Game of Thrones - Bran III

It is many books later that we finally reach what Bran is seeing above, although he hasn't yet realized it.

Quote

Something about the way the raven screamed sent a shiver running up Bran's spine. I am almost a man grown, he had to remind himself. I have to be brave now.
But the air was sharp and cold and full of fear. Even Summer was afraid. The fur on his neck was bristling. Shadows stretched against the hillside, black and hungry. All the trees were bowed and twisted by the weight of ice they carried. Some hardly looked like trees at all. Buried from root to crown in frozen snow, they huddled on the hill like giants, monstrous and misshapen creatures hunched against the icy wind. "They are here."

A Dance with Dragons - Bran II

We have the bravery lead in, even summer was afraid (winter is coming). The are surrounded by snow and cold and "they are here" refers to the dead wights... so snow, and cold and death.

And lo!

The weirwood grove on top of Bloodraven's hollow hill are frozen, root to "crown". You will notice lots of "king" imagery surrounds Bloodraven, but I digress...

Those are the icy spires from Bran's falling dream above. The fact that GRRM used, "waiting to embrace him" to refer to them is really fantastic. The word "embrace" is only used one other time in Bran's chapters so far, when they first see Bloodraven:

Quote

Before them a pale lord in ebon finery sat dreaming in a tangled nest of roots, a woven weirwood throne that embraced his withered limbs as a mother does a child.

A Dance with Dragons - Bran II

The throne that embraces him is made from the roots of the weirwoods above, the frozen spires of ice.

Also, in the falling dream, "He saw the bones of a thousand other dreamers impaled upon their points." 

And lo!

Quote

"Bones," said Bran. "It's bones." The floor of the passage was littered with the bones of birds and beasts. But there were other bones as well, big ones that must have come from giants and small ones that could have been from children. On either side of them, in niches carved from the stone, skulls looked down on them. Bran saw a bear skull and a wolf skull, half a dozen human skulls and near as many giants. All the rest were small, queerly formed. Children of the forest. The roots had grown in and around and through them, every one. A few had ravens perched atop them, watching them pass with bright black eyes.

A Dance with Dragons - Bran II

These are the bones of a thousand dreamers impaled on the points of the roots of the icy spire weirwoods above.

So I think it's pretty clear the parallels between what Bran see's in his dream and Bloodraven's hollow hill are more than coincidence, this is the place Bran saw.

So what about that original lesson from Ned?

Quote

There he sat, listening to the hoarse whispers of his teacher. "Never fear the darkness, Bran." The lord's words were accompanied by a faint rustling of wood and leaf, a slight twisting of his head. "The strongest trees are rooted in the dark places of the earth. Darkness will be your cloak, your shield, your mother's milk. Darkness will make you strong."

A Dance with Dragons - Bran III

Hold up! That is the opposite of the oft repeated lesson!

Not only should it be concerning that Bloodraven is trying to teach Bran something completely contrary to the original lesson in the series, it is also reflected in what Bran was told from Nan.

Quote

"Oh, my sweet summer child," Old Nan said quietly, "what do you know of fear? Fear is for the winter, my little lord, when the snows fall a hundred feet deep and the ice wind comes howling out of the north. Fear is for the long night, when the sun hides its face for years at a time, and little children are born and live and die all in darkness while the direwolves grow gaunt and hungry, and the white walkers move through the woods."
"You mean the Others," Bran said querulously.

A Game of Thrones - Bran IV

Fear is for the Darkness.

And who else didn't fear? And was made strong by the darkness?

Quote

As the sun began to set the shadows of the towers lengthened and the wind blew harder, sending gusts of dry dead leaves rattling through the yards. The gathering gloom put Bran in mind of another of Old Nan's stories, the tale of Night's King. He had been the thirteenth man to lead the Night's Watch, she said; a warrior who knew no fear. "And that was the fault in him," she would add, "for all men must know fear." A woman was his downfall; a woman glimpsed from atop the Wall, with skin as white as the moon and eyes like blue stars. Fearing nothing, he chased her and caught her and loved her, though her skin was cold as ice, and when he gave his seed to her he gave his soul as well.
He brought her back to the Nightfort and proclaimed her a queen and himself her king, and with strange sorceries he bound his Sworn Brothers to his will. For thirteen years they had ruled, Night's King and his corpse queen, till finally the Stark of Winterfell and Joramun of the wildlings had joined to free the Watch from bondage. After his fall, when it was found he had been sacrificing to the Others, all records of Night's King had been destroyed, his very name forbidden.

A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

Obviously I could go on and on using other quotes and connections, like did you know Bloodraven was lord commander of the night's watch for thirteen years before he abandoned his post?

But, I think this is enough for me to abandon this post confident in my original statement.

Edited by Mourning Star

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bloodraven is named as the Three Eyed Crow in the Index of ADWD, in the north of the Wall section. 

I realise this doesn't mean it's set in stone, after all the Index also tells us Alleras is in Oldtown when we know it's Sarella. 

However, it's a solid reason (on top of any textual interpretation) why many readers may think Bloodraven is the Three Eyed Crow. It is not crazy and the Index supplies a potentially reliable source of evidence. This seems reasonable and based in actual text straight from the author rather than theoretical back and forth or is he isn't he. 

I personally think it's far from an open and shut case. The 'BR is not the 3ec' argument has some logic to it, in particular the confused way Brynden responded when asked if he was said three eyed corvid. I am open to the possibility as I cannot 100% prove otherwise. 

For now, I am of the opinion that Bloodraven is the Three Eyed Crow but will happily concede that there was some evidence if he is not. 

I'm off to remove those splinters from sitting on that fence.  :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Wizz-The-Smith said:

I'm off to remove those splinters from sitting on that fence

I can't say that I'm certain either.  BR is one possibility and certainly the front runner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Wizz-The-Smith said:

Bloodraven is named as the Three Eyed Crow in the Index of ADWD, in the north of the Wall section. 

And Jon is Ned's son? Jof is Robert's? The appendix is very clearly not a reliable source of information, especially when it comes to the plot.

What it does do is reflect the "common perception", and in this case the characters are clearly under the impression that Bloodraven is the three eyed crow, I'm suggesting that there is ample evidence that they are wrong. Just like with Jon and Jof.

Quote

I realise this doesn't mean it's set in stone, after all the Index also tells us Alleras is in Oldtown when we know it's Sarella. 

However, it's a solid reason (on top of any textual interpretation) why many readers may think Bloodraven is the Three Eyed Crow. It is not crazy and the Index supplies a potentially reliable source of evidence. This seems reasonable and based in actual text straight from the author rather than theoretical back and forth or is he isn't he. 

Of course it's not crazy, even once you accept that Bloodraven is not the three eyed crow it is still very clearly intentional misdirection. But then, that's kind of a big part of story telling.

I would say that this is one of a handful of fantastic twists which will surprise most readers. And the best twists are the ones you only see the evidence of after the reveal but which were there to be found all along. At the same time, in an unfinished story like this, one can't possibly expect proof before the reveal either.

Quote

I personally think it's far from an open and shut case. The 'BR is not the 3ec' argument has some logic to it, in particular the confused way Brynden responded when asked if he was said three eyed corvid. I am open to the possibility as I cannot 100% prove otherwise. 

For now, I am of the opinion that Bloodraven is the Three Eyed Crow but will happily concede that there was some evidence if he is not. 

I'm off to remove those splinters from sitting on that fence.  :P

Doubt is an admirable quality, just ask Davos! Although at some point it, when faced with evidence, it becomes a flaw (if that's the case here is obviously debatable!). We all get to make up our minds for ourselves, and either way or undecided, hopefully we will all eventually get another book so we can find out I'm right! 

Edited by Mourning Star

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a fascinating topic. I agree that the Blackwoods seem to show up and play significant roles at important junctures of Westerosi history. 

Regarding Bloodraven, it is interesting how the symbolism around him emphasizes his Blackwood ancestry, with the raven and the weirwood tree. And the Blackwood weirwood tree is "bare and dead", just like Bloodraven in the cave. 

Lord Tytos Blackwood has a cloak of raven feathers, mentioned several times in the series. Now, since it is not said that the cloak is made of the feathers of the (very rare) white ravens, it is reasonable to suppose that it is a cloak of black feathers. A cloak very often symbolizes allegiance in these novels (cf. the wedding cloaks, the expression turncloak or Mance's not so black cloak), and a black cloak is associated with the Night's Watch throughout the books. Now I wonder if Lord Blackwood's black raven cloak is just a symbolic reference to his kinsmen (Bloodraven before and now Jon) being Lord Commanders of the Night's Watch or if it refers to a possibly much more ancient connection between the Blackwoods and the Night's Watch. 

The colours are worth noting anyway. Black is asscociated with House Blackwood all the time (is it further reference to their possible Night's Watch connection?) - there is the very name of the family, nicknames like Black Aly Blackwood, Black Betha, the raven black hair of some Blackwood women, the fact that the family used to support the blacks, and there may be more. But, obviously, they also have the weirwood tree, and weirwood trees have white trunks and red leaves - though the dead and bare tree probably does not have leaves any longer. (The scarlet colour appears in their coat of arms nevertheless.)  These are very much also the colours of Bloodraven, even without the weirwood connection: milk-white skin, white hair, red eyes, red winestain birthmark ("like a raven drawn in blood"), and black from the moment he joined the Night's Watch ("black of garb and black of blood"). Now, of course, black and red are Targaryen colours, but Bloodraven truly owns the  black colour only through his Night's Watch connection (his black cloak), so it may be "Blackwood black", rather than "Targaryen black", so to speak.

Now, as is noted by Jon, Ghost has the colours of the weirwood - white fur (another albino, like Bloodraven) and red eyes (like Bloodraven's). Since Ghost belongs to Jon, those are also Jon's colours (white is also his colour due to his bastard name, and because the Wall is white as well), and black is also his colour, mostly, but not only, because he is a man of the Night's Watch: "It was always my color," he says to Robb before leaving for the Wall. One might wonder how long "always" means - it could refer to Jon's Targaryen ancestry, but could also be a veiled reference to his (double!) Blackwood ancestry, at least if we consider the black raven cloak of Tytos, so full of Night's Watch symbolism. 

There are also parallels between Lyanna Stark (who also has Blackwood blood) and two Blackwood women, Betha and Melissa: 

Lyanna and Betha appear to have somewhat similar characters (willful, stubborn, wild, spirited). Betha fell in love with a Targaryen prince, who, luckily wasn't the crown prince at the time, so they were able to get married and eventually became the king and the queen. Lyanna may also have fallen in love with a Targaryen prince, who was the crown prince, but never became a king, and their story had a tragic ending.  It is almost as though history tried to repeat itself but the outcome was vastly different.

Then there is Melissa, who gave birth to a "white" (albino) Targaryen bastard who eventually became Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. According to R+L=J, Lyanna also gave birth to a secret Targaryen bastard, a Snow, who eventually became the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.      

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/7/2021 at 6:17 PM, LynnS said:

If you want to get into symbolism here; then I suggest that BR is represented by the chestnut tree:

 

That's a great observation, and I think it is a perfectly valid interpretation, though not the only one possible. All three trees in that chapter are full of symbolism, and it is worth looking at the symbolism of the three trees together, because they seem to tell a story. The first is an ash tree, the second is a chestnut tree, the third one is an oak. All three trees have carved faces (the work of the wildlings). This is in Jon V in ADwD, when Jon is on his way to Mole's Town to take food to the wildling refugees stationed there. 

Quote

The Lord Steward led the way. Jon rode a few yards back, Dolorous Edd Tollett at his side. Half a mile south of Castle Black, Edd urged his garron close to Jon's and said, "M'lord? Look up there. The big drunkard on the hill."

The drunkard was an ash tree, twisted sideways by centuries of wind. And now it had a face. A solemn mouth, a broken branch for a nose, two eyes carved deep into the trunk, gazing north up the kingsroad, toward the castle and the Wall.

The "big drunkard" description is a bit tricky - the only real drunkard to have travelled North on the kingsroad I can think of is Robert, but he looked only as far as Winterfell, not Castle Black or the Wall. Besides, the description of the third tree starts with "the third watcher", which implies all three trees refer to watchers, i.e. men of the Night's Watch. The Bloodraven connection can be there in the sense that the tree is an ash tree, like Yggrdasill, and the parallels between Bloodraven and Odin have been noted by many. The hill may refer to Aegon's Hill in King's Landing or any position of power. Perhaps the drunkard in this case is reference to addiction in a broader sense - Bloodraven may have been too intoxicated with power before he turned North to take the black as punishment. I admit this interpretation is somewhat weakened by the apparent fact that Bloodraven seems to have travelled to the Wall by ship, not on the kingsroad.

Since the trees appear in Jon's POV, an interpretation relating directly to Jon is also worth examining. We know that Jon first announced his intention to take the black when he was somewhat drunk, and he indeed travelled North on the kingsroad. The solemn mouth also fits Jon's character and perhaps refers to the high ideals he had about the Night's Watch at first. So this tree could also be Jon when he first went to the Wall. 

BTW, Jon jokingly says that the tree looks like Dolorous Edd, which could be an ironic case of Jon not recognizing a symbolic reference to himself (which, I think, happens elsewhere, too). 

Quote

The wagons continued on their slow way south through frozen mud and blowing snow. A mile farther on, they came upon a second face, carved into a chestnut tree that grew beside an icy stream, where its eyes could watch the old plank bridge that spanned its flow. "Twice as much trouble," announced Dolorous Edd.

The chestnut was leafless and skeletal, but its bare brown limbs were not empty. On a low branch overhanging the stream a raven sat hunched, its feathers ruffled up against the cold. When it spied Jon it spread its wings and gave a scream. When he raised his fist and whistled, the big black bird came flapping down, crying, "Corn, corn, corn."

 

I think here both the Bloodraven symbolism and the Jon symbolism are very strong, which may perhaps emphasize the parallels between the two characters.

A leafless and skeletal tree beside an icy stream, with a raven on its branch: How could it not refer to Bloodraven? 

Yet, the other interpretation seems equally strong: Jon, at this point, has lost (as far as he knows) all his family members, not only because he has taken the black, but also because, to his knowledge, they are all dead or as good as dead. He has also lost Ygritte (and all dreams of love), his mentor Mormont, and, as Lord Commander, he has removed his closest friends to distant castles. He stands alone, yet his hands ("limbs") are not empty: He is about to give food to the hungry wildlings. The eyes of the tree are watching a bridge, and that is a very fitting symbol for Jon, who has created a "bridge" between the Free Folk and The Seven Kingdoms - but that "bridge" needs watching. The raven is the Lord Commander's raven, and it flies to Jon, crying "corn, corn, corn." The chestnut is a tree that bears edible fruit, and Jon appears here as the Corn King, whose purpose is to nourish people and sustain life. If the ash tree symbolized Jon's past, the chestnut tree may well symbolize his present. 

The passage also highlights and elaborates on the fact that people (in this case the wildlings) do not give up their gods (the Old Gods) so easily, whatever Mel says. That may also remind us of the Blackwoods, who still worship the Old Gods, despite living in the South, surrounded by the faith of the Seven.  

Quote

Just north of Mole's Town they came upon the third watcher, carved into the huge oak that marked the village perimeter, its deep eyes fixed upon the kingsroad. That is not a friendly face, Jon Snow reflected. The faces that the First Men and the children of the forest had carved into the weirwoods in eons past had stern or savage visages more oft than not, but the great oak looked especially angry, as if it were about to tear its roots from the earth and come roaring after them. Its wounds are as fresh as the wounds of the men who carved it.

The oak usually symbolizes strength and endurance, it is also a sacred tree in some religions / mythologies, and it also has royal connotations. This oak, like the ash tree, also watches the kingsroad, but it may be facing South, not North. (The black brothers are going southward, and the tree seems to be about to come after them.) It is a very angry tree, wanting to tear its roots and go after someone in a southern direction. It could be about Jon's future, about a very angry Jon with fresh wounds - perhaps it is Jon, following the Ides of Marsh, ready to face the Boltons - or, who knows, maybe to confront the Others, who by that time, will perhaps have got past the Wall.   

If we look at this tree also as a potential Bloodraven symbol, then the desire "to tear its roots from the earth" may be quite literal, and who knows who or what his great anger will be directed at, or what sort of "fresh" wounds he might have, besides the more obvious, old ones.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, Julia H. said:

That's a great observation, and I think it is a perfectly valid interpretation, though not the only one possible. All three trees in that chapter are full of symbolism, and it is worth looking at the symbolism of the three trees together, because they seem to tell a story. The first is an ash tree, the second is a chestnut tree, the third one is an oak. All three trees have carved faces (the work of the wildlings). This is in Jon V in ADwD, when Jon is on his way to Mole's Town to take food to the wildling refugees stationed there. 

The "big drunkard" description is a bit tricky - the only real drunkard to have travelled North on the kingsroad I can think of is Robert, but he looked only as far as Winterfell, not Castle Black or the Wall. Besides, the description of the third tree starts with "the third watcher", which implies all three trees refer to watchers, i.e. men of the Night's Watch. The Bloodraven connection can be there in the sense that the tree is an ash tree, like Yggrdasill, and the parallels between Bloodraven and Odin have been noted by many. The hill may refer to Aegon's Hill in King's Landing or any position of power. Perhaps the drunkard in this case is reference to addiction in a broader sense - Bloodraven may have been too intoxicated with power before he turned North to take the black as punishment. I admit this interpretation is somewhat weakened by the apparent fact that Bloodraven seems to have travelled to the Wall by ship, not on the kingsroad.

Since the trees appear in Jon's POV, an interpretation relating directly to Jon is also worth examining. We know that Jon first announced his intention to take the black when he was somewhat drunk, and he indeed travelled North on the kingsroad. The solemn mouth also fits Jon's character and perhaps refers to the high ideals he had about the Night's Watch at first. So this tree could also be Jon when he first went to the Wall. 

BTW, Jon jokingly says that the tree looks like Dolorous Edd, which could be an ironic case of Jon not recognizing a symbolic reference to himself (which, I think, happens elsewhere, too). 

I think here both the Bloodraven symbolism and the Jon symbolism are very strong, which may perhaps emphasize the parallels between the two characters.

A leafless and skeletal tree beside an icy stream, with a raven on its branch: How could it not refer to Bloodraven? 

Yet, the other interpretation seems equally strong: Jon, at this point, has lost (as far as he knows) all his family members, not only because he has taken the black, but also because, to his knowledge, they are all dead or as good as dead. He has also lost Ygritte (and all dreams of love), his mentor Mormont, and, as Lord Commander, he has removed his closest friends to distant castles. He stands alone, yet his hands ("limbs") are not empty: He is about to give food to the hungry wildlings. The eyes of the tree are watching a bridge, and that is a very fitting symbol for Jon, who has created a "bridge" between the Free Folk and The Seven Kingdoms - but that "bridge" needs watching. The raven is the Lord Commander's raven, and it flies to Jon, crying "corn, corn, corn." The chestnut is a tree that bears edible fruit, and Jon appears here as the Corn King, whose purpose is to nourish people and sustain life. If the ash tree symbolized Jon's past, the chestnut tree may well symbolize his present. 

The passage also highlights and elaborates on the fact that people (in this case the wildlings) do not give up their gods (the Old Gods) so easily, whatever Mel says. That may also remind us of the Blackwoods, who still worship the Old Gods, despite living in the South, surrounded by the faith of the Seven.  

The oak usually symbolizes strength and endurance, it is also a sacred tree in some religions / mythologies, and it also has royal connotations. This oak, like the ash tree, also watches the kingsroad, but it may be facing South, not North. (The black brothers are going southward, and the tree seems to be about to come after them.) It is a very angry tree, wanting to tear its roots and go after someone in a southern direction. It could be about Jon's future, about a very angry Jon with fresh wounds - perhaps it is Jon, following the Ides of Marsh, ready to face the Boltons - or, who knows, maybe to confront the Others, who by that time, will perhaps have got past the Wall.   

If we look at this tree also as a potential Bloodraven symbol, then the desire "to tear its roots from the earth" may be quite literal, and who knows who or what his great anger will be directed at, or what sort of "fresh" wounds he might have, besides the more obvious, old ones.  

Oh I agree.  Although I thought the drunken ash with a broken twig for a nose represented Tyrion.  The chestnut tree also bears a nut that is usually roasted before consuming it, so I think this is a reference to BR's dragon inheritance.

So the lightning-blasted chestnut tree covered in wild white roses, also stands out for me. 

I also think there are symbolic parallels between these three trees and the three towers at Moat Cailin:  The children's tower, the drunkard's tower and  the gatehouse tower.  

Edited by LynnS

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, LynnS said:

Oh I agree.  Although I thought the drunken ash with a broken twig for a nose represented Tyrion. 

Hm, yes, I thought there was something about that nose... Still, Tyrion is not a watcher. He might become one in future perhaps. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Julia H. said:

Hm, yes, I thought there was something about that nose... Still, Tyrion is not a watcher. He might become one in future perhaps. 

He's man with a shadow as tall as a king and drinks himself into a stupor every night so he won't dream.  We also have this strange reference to Trios and the Fountain of the Drunken God:

Quote

 

A Dance with Dragons - Tyrion VIII

She heard them now. "Sorry. You are sorry." Her lip was trembling, her cheeks were wet, her eyes were red-rimmed holes. "We left King's Landing that very night. My brother said it was for the best, before someone wondered if we'd had some part in the king's death and decided to torture us to find out. We went to Tyrosh first. My brother thought that would be far enough, but it wasn't. We knew a juggler there. For years and years he would juggle every day by the Fountain of the Drunken God. He was old, so his hands were not as deft as they had been, and sometimes he would drop his balls and chase them across the square, but the Tyroshi would laugh and throw him coins all the same. Then one morning we heard that his body had been found at the Temple of Trios. Trios has three heads, and there's a big statue of him beside the temple doors. The old man had been cut into three parts and pushed inside the threefold mouths of Trios. Only when the parts were sewn back together, his head was gone."

 

 We could say that Tyrion is a juggler of his outrageous misfortunes; someone snarling in the midst of it all.  Someone who imbibes from the fountain of the drunken god on a regular basis.   

The three trees seem to be foreshadowing events.

I also think there are symbolic parallels between these three trees and the three towers at Moat Cailin:  The children's tower, the drunkard's tower and  the gatehouse tower. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wasn't there a theory that the Blackwoods were descended from the Warg Kings?  Pretty sure I did not just think that one up by myself.  I don't remember all the details, just the idea that the Kings of Winter defeated the Warg Kings in the North, at Seadragon Point near the Wolfswood, and married their daughters. Then later the Starks forced the Blackwoods to leave the Wolfswood & the North before they settled at Raventree Hall. So by this theory, the Blackwoods are likely to have more wargs and greenseers that other families of first men descent.  I always liked that theory and considered the Blackwoods would probably have some importance to the tale because of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I apologize for apparently killing this thread. Not my intention. Am I wrong about the Blackwood / Warg Kings theory?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Muttering Ed said:

Well I apologize for apparently killing this thread. Not my intention. Am I wrong about the Blackwood / Warg Kings theory?

The wiki doesn't say anything about a connection between the Warg King and House Blackwood.  It says that the WK's true name is unknown.

Maybe you're thinking of some other House? Some of them do have a lot of history, including connections to magic and skinchangjng.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Muttering Ed said:

Well I apologize for apparently killing this thread. Not my intention. Am I wrong about the Blackwood / Warg Kings theory?

A reasonable possibility given this bit of the world book:

Quote

and mayhaps even the Blackwoods of Raventree, whose own family traditions insist they once ruled most of the wolfswood before being driven from their lands by the Kings of Winter (certain runic records support this claim, if Maester Barneby's translations can be trusted).

Chronicles found in the archives of the Night's Watch at the Nightfort (before it was abandoned) speak of the war for Sea Dragon Point, wherein the Starks brought down the Warg King and his inhuman allies, the children of the forest. When the Warg King's last redoubt fell, his sons were put to the sword, along with his beasts and greenseers, whilst his daughters were taken as prizes by their conquerors.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/13/2021 at 2:58 PM, Muttering Ed said:

Wasn't there a theory that the Blackwoods were descended from the Warg Kings?  Pretty sure I did not just think that one up by myself.  I don't remember all the details, just the idea that the Kings of Winter defeated the Warg Kings in the North, at Seadragon Point near the Wolfswood, and married their daughters. Then later the Starks forced the Blackwoods to leave the Wolfswood & the North before they settled at Raventree Hall. So by this theory, the Blackwoods are likely to have more wargs and greenseers that other families of first men descent.  I always liked that theory and considered the Blackwoods would probably have some importance to the tale because of it.

 

2 hours ago, Muttering Ed said:

Well I apologize for apparently killing this thread. Not my intention. Am I wrong about the Blackwood / Warg Kings theory?

Ah, my bad its my post so sorry for leaving you hanging. Im not very familiar with the warg king, but in function it sounds very similar to what I am proposing. Blackwood blood seems to be important in relation to greenseers/ wargs/ and even magic dreams. 

There are also a lot of one off kings that we don't know about though, like the vulture king and others. no way to say for sure if they are the same, but it seems like a good prototype either way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...