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The difference between a deserter and a turncloak


Seams
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On 2/26/2022 at 7:29 PM, The Bard of Banefort said:

You become a turncloak once you forsake one allegiance and join another. The Hound was a deserter for abandoning Joffrey and the Lannisters at the Battle of the Blackwater. If he had succeeded in joining Robb, that would have made him a turncloack.

Theon is considered a turncloak because he was aligned with Robb: they grew up together, Theon fought beside Robb, and he went to Pyke as Robb’s envoy. Of course, there is the question of why anyone expected Theon Greyjoy, the heir to the Iron Islands, to value his alliance with the Starks over his own house and kingdom, but that’s another conversation.

I agree, for a general definition. However I've often pondered on the Lord of the Crossing and what deeper meaning that might have so these ideas strike a chord:

On 2/26/2022 at 6:35 PM, Seams said:

If I had to guess, I would say that a turncloak turns out to be a necessary character for solving a problem: someone who can infiltrate, break barriers and cross boundaries. We see Theon crossing the walls at Winterfell (the sea flowing over the walls, as Bran sees it in his dream), taking Lady Dustin into the crypt after she had been unable to find the door on her own, taking the washerwomen into Ramsay and Jeyne's bedchamber and taking Jeyne over the wall to escape Winterfell. He also infiltrates Moat Cailin, allowing Ramsay to conquer the Ironborn occupants without engaging in combat. I'm wondering whether the foray into the woods around Winterfell to track down the missing Bran, Rickon, Hodor, Jojen and Meera can be undertaken only with Theon Turncloak leading the party? That crossing of that woodland barrier may be unsuccessful only because there is a countervailing force preventing the Turncloak from crossing the barrier: it is my understanding that Hodor has a special power to hold doors.

Robb had to strike a deal to cross Walder's bridge. The alternative was to take the Twins by force which was no real option, while the manner of Theon's taking of Winterfell was a piece of cake in comparison. We find out about the rules of the game "Lord of the Crossing" at Winterfell, through Little Walder and Big Walder. The kids play the game and Little Walder was Lord of the Crossing more often than not. I'm thinking the countervailing force preventing Theon turncloak from crossing the barrier to find the kids was Little Walder. We are not told which of the boys joined the party but my guess would be Little Walder because he wanted a wolf's pelt and held the crossing most of the time in the game. So perhaps Little Walder's presence hampered the turncloak. 

There's also Drogo who saw no reason to cross the poison seas with his Dothraki horde. He changed his mind after the poisoning attempt on Daenerys and that attempt came about because Jorah informed on her - Jorah in a turncloak role facilitating crossing the narrow sea. The Freys and Boltons are turncloaks, both have contributed to there no longer being a Stark in Winterfell. Perhaps they facilitate the crossing of the Others. And coming to think of it, Theon may have to facilitate yet another crossing into Winterfell, this time for Stannis to take the castle. 

I'm still not sure why this is important but I think it is. 

On 2/26/2022 at 6:35 PM, Seams said:

From a wordplay perspective, I can add one more little anagram clue: turncloak = turn a lock. Maybe a turncloak represents a key, allowing a lock to be opened. 

Not sure about this. I think there is a difference between turncloak and turn a lock (or turnkey). Theon escapes from the Dreadfort with Kyra who has the keys but it was a deception. Theon keeps thinking about Kyra and the keys in later chapters. There's something about the keys. The next time he's confronted with keys is when Little and Big Walder come to release him from the Dungeon to get him prepared for giving fArya away. Little Walder again - presiding over the "crossing" because he has the keys? 

 

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On 3/21/2022 at 9:12 AM, Mourning Star said:

It is also worth noting that it is the gift of the sword (and Arya practicing her "sowing") that results in her loosing her Direwolf, her family "arms".

I really like that morning star

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On 2/26/2022 at 9:35 AM, Seams said:

In the last Jon POV of AGoT, Jon Snow is spared from being beheaded after his desertion attempt. Instead of beheading him, Jeor Mormont gives him a Valyrian steel sword and grants his wish to become a Ranger. Ned takes a hard line with deserters (and with Ser Jorah, who sold poachers into slavery), following the letter of the law; Jeor Mormont takes a lenient view of deserters and opts to forego that King's Justice. 

This is a good point. Jeor  Mormont take a more lenient approach to Jon Snow’s desertion, presumably Ned’s Stark’s son, than Ned takes with Jorah. Why?

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I always thought that the difference was that being a turncloak had an added component of attacking the people you deserted, while a deserter would just leave them. On a symbolic level, the deserters just abandon their cloaks, while the turncloaks swap their cloaks. Mance is an interesting case because he doesn't abandon or swap his cloak, it is just altered. So can he really be considered a turncloak or deserter?

Quote

"Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night's Watch, for this night and all the nights to come."

Now Mance does have a wife, but I would assume they are not married so much in the way the oath is talking about. He doesn't hold any lands. He does have a child, but symbolically the child may not be his, with the baby switcheroo Jon does. He doesn't wear a crown and looses his big battle, so doesn't win any glory. Whether he lives and dies at his post remains to be seen. The fire and light component could be fulfilled with his quest to unify the Free Folk and get them to safety out of harm's way and the reach of the others. The 'horn that wakes the sleepers' is for me a clear parallel to the Horn of Winter/Horn of Joramun, which is said to wake sleeping giants. The 'Shield that guards the realms of men' could again refer to his role in bringing the wildlings south of the wall to guard them against the others.

So although Mance is regarded as an oathbreaker and a deserter and a turncloak by other characters in the story, one could argue that symbolically he is not. He still symbolically fulfills his oaths and he has not abandoned or swapped his cloak.

We shouldn't forget about the Tattered Prince. He deserted his role as the Prince of Pentos and now seems to be trying to fulfill the turncloak component by attacking the city. His cloak is made from torn off parts of the surcoats of men he's killed. Did he start by altering a cloak or did he create his new cloak entirely by himself? Just now I think the cloak suggests something about death as a unifying force or that death comes to everyone. The cloak is of many colours, a contrast to the Kingsguard and Night's Watch cloaks but similar to the rainbow cloaks of the Warrior's Sons and Renly's rainbow guard. The Faith of the Seven originated near Pentos and there are those of Andal descent in Pentos. The sacrifice of the Prince which the Tattered Prince seemed to flee is suggested to originate before the Valyrians were there, as is the city itself. His journey also seems to mirror Daenerys' somewhat. I'm not sure what he wants from Pentos but I think there is something at work here...

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