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Are we suppose to like the Blackwoods and dislike the Brackens ?

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15 hours ago, butterweedstrover said:

That information is not given to us in the main books therefore does not affect how we perceive the bracken/blackwood feud. 

I disagree, Dunk and Egg absolutely affect how we perceive the main story, and are critical to the back story.

You seem set on willfully ignoring them though, so be it, this isn't productive.

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1 hour ago, Mourning Star said:

I disagree, Dunk and Egg absolutely affect how we perceive the main story, and are critical to the back story.

You seem set on willfully ignoring them though, so be it, this isn't productive.

A few things: 

1: D&E is not part of the main series 

2: Bloodraven as is concerned in the main series has not influenced the Bracken/Blackwood feud 

3. The characterization of this feud can be analyzed without knowledge of something which the books don’t even tell us 

4. It hasn’t come into play yet even if it will

The question in this thread is whether or not the author plays favorites, and I believe he does. I furthermore said there is no evidence this moral dynamic will shift based on his previous writing habits. 

A character apart from this plot line, in a different area of the world, and one who has not shown any interest in the matter does not constitute as evidence to the contrary

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14 hours ago, Evolett said:

As to Old Nan's identity, I think she is Tanselle.


both Old Nan and Tanselle are story-tellers.

I agree that there is a parallel or link between these characters, but I'm not persuaded that they are the same person. In keeping with our Blackwood focus in this thread, I think we need to figure out the clues surrounding Betha Blackwood, who ends up marrying Aegon V, the Egg of the Dunk & Egg stories. I think the other set of clues that might lead to insights are the "dark / bright" pair of contrasts that GRRM uses repeatedly in his symbolism. 

But I have other doubts about the "Old Nan = Tanselle" theory. We are not told so directly, but it sounds as if she is tiny. I think there is a link between "Old Nan = Olenna," and we know that Olenna is tiny. We also hear Old Nan say the word, "Mayhaps," and we know from the "Lord of the Crossing" game that this is supposed to be slipped into conversation casually, with the intention that the listener might miss it. Her grandson (Hodor) is named Walder. These are clues to a Frey family tree, which creates a lot of interesting possibilities. (One of my thoughts is that Old Nan is the Frey bride in The Mystery Knight story, brought to wed Lord Butterwell. When his role in the insurrection is exposed, his bride may run off to be a wet nurse at Winterfell, hiding her shame but feeding generations of Starks with Frey breast milk.) 

Luckily, GRRM seems to subscribe to what I would call the "Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast" approach to characters (a line from Alice Through the Looking Glass). If he wants an archetypal character to accomplish a lot of things, he splits that archetype into several characters that may overlap or share elements in common but who appear to be separate. For instance, Jaime, Joffrey, Lancel (possibly) and Moonboy. Jaime kills Aerys and immediately sits on the Iron Throne, which seems to make him the rightful king. But it is his son who is eventually crowned. Cersei was supposed to marry Rhaegar, who was supposed to be king,  but she instead unites with Jaime and bears his children. I believe the line about Cersei sleeping with Moonboy is a hint about Cersei sleeping with Joffrey. I know: very icky. But it starts to make sense when you think in terms of these archetypes instead of thinking whether someone could be someone else in disguise. (I could go on and on with suspected examples of this - Gregor and Mance are Rhaegar; Dolorous Edd and Rattleshirt are Ned; Robb Stark and Robert Arryn are King Robert, etc.) 

Very nice catch on the shared story-teller role: an anagram of "Tanselle-too-tall" hints that she does tell tales a lot, no?

One of my thoughts about why Aerion Brightflame attacked Tanselle is that her puppet show revealed that the dragon was full of red saw dust - symbolism that dragons have "tree blood." This was a secret that the flame guy wanted to hide. It could also tie into the "dead tree" symbol of the Blackwoods - burning down forests, the dead trees Tyrion encounters in the Rhoyne, swords and other things made out of wood - these are all significant in ASOIAF. The "Greens vs. Blacks" civil war may symbolize the dead, dark, winter season vs. the living, bright, summer season. Both winter and summer, dark and bright, life and death are needed for the planet to thrive, but they are engaged in constant combat with each other (like the Blackwoods and Brackens). 

I think Betha Blackwood is another of the parallels for Tanselle, if not Tanselle in disguise. We know that Duncan is attracted to Tanselle but we also hear Egg say that he likes the smooth way she handles the dragon. He is a big fan of the puppet shows and urgently seeks help from Dunk when Aerion attacks the young woman. There is pretty strong suspicion in this forum that Dunk is a Blackfyre; possibly the son of Daemon, the possessor of the ancestral Targaryen sword. On the level of literary analysis, there is something very tidy and satisfying about Dunk and Egg both being attracted to the same woman; a reuniting of, but also a conflict between, the Targaryen and Blackfyre branches of the royal family.

Queen Black Betha (Blackwood) has a daughter name Shaera, which is similar to the name of one of the Great Bastards of Aegon IV: Shiera Seastar. Four of the five children of Aegon V and Betha, including Shaera, defy the betrothal arrangement made by their parents. She weds her brother Jaehaerys and becomes the next Targaryen queen. It is significant that Bloodraven and Bittersteel were both lovers of the earlier Shiera (GRRM has fun with the sound-alike "share a sister" name for that character) but she refused to marry either one. (There are hints that she preferred Bloodraven.) 

Who are the rejected spouses for the children of Aegon V and his Blackwood bride? Duncan was supposed to marry a Baratheon but instead married Jennie of Oldstones. Jaehaerys was suppose to marry Celia Tully and Shaera was supposed to marry Luthor Tyrell. Daeron was supposed to marry Olenna Redwyne but he instead becomes the lover of Jeremy Norridge. Only Rhaelle, the fifth child, followed her parents' wishes. She married Ormund Baratheon and was the grandmother of King Robert. 

So there is a lot of Garth Greenhands / Highgarden / summer / flowing river imagery here. Daeron met Jeremy when they were squires together at Highgarden. Luthor Tyrell ends up marrying Olenna Redwyne. The Baratheon stag could be an allusion to the horned lord, associated with fertility (appropriate for King Robert) and with Garth Greenhands. 

What is GRRM's point? I think this is all part of the unbalanced seasons of Westeros. Each generation thinks it has the solution for balancing winter, spring, summer and fall, but each generation fails, for one reason or another. (Love seems to be a factor.) Betha may represent the dead tree / winter season, but she and her husband want their children to marry into Houses representing summer and fertility. It seems they end up dying in a fire at Summerhall. Only Rhaelle follows their wishes and, don't you know, it is her line that displaces the Targaryen line, creating a new royal family. That Baratheon line is cut short, however, as Cersei and Tywin (Ice + Winter) undermine Robert, putting winter back on the throne. 

More Betha symbolism: the ship commanded by Ser Davos Seaworth is called Black Betha. I believe ships are symbolic eggs in ASOIAF, often even symbolic dragon eggs. Ser Davos has some initial success with Betha in the Battle of the Blackwater but she is eventually engulfed in flames and Davos drowns.

Doh! Not really! Davos actually hatches from the "egg" of Black Betha. Is he the "sixth" child of Aegon V? Like Dunk, Ser Davos seems to be a low-born child from the streets of Flea Bottom. He has a bunch of sons, most of whom die at the Battle of the Blackwater. One (Devan?) becomes a cup-bearer for Melisandre. (Rhaelle became a cup-bearer for Lady Baratheon, before marrying Ormund.) Rhaelle was a kingmaker of sorts; perhaps Davos (or his son) will be a kingmaker for this generation. 

Davos has an important conversation with Salladhor Saan, the pirate who I believe is a parallel for Shiera Seastar. (There are further links within the linked post.) We know that Davos smuggled life (in the form of onions) and death (Melisandre) into Storm's End. Root vegetables and fire. When we last seem him, he is embarking on a mission to find Rickon Stark and one of the first things he does is - eat an apple. Really? This makes sense if this is part of the rebirth of life and summer. The apple is mealy but he eats it anyway and the apple vendor asks for the seeds back, saying they are valuable. The vendor is probably symbolic of the earth and Davos is planting seeds. (We also see Dany planting trees. We also see Littlefinger and Jon Snow eat apples. Ser Garlan Tyrell marries and impregnates a Fossoway.) 

In other words, I suspect that Davos is a key player in balancing the opposing forces in Westeros, just as the union of Dunk & Egg achieved this goal (or tried to) in an earlier generation. It remains to be seen if Dunk and Egg are opposing forces - we know that Aerion Brightflame and Dunk are. (The German word for "dark" is "dunkel.") The vibe I get from Egg is very creepy, even though he's just a little kid and he seems to care about Dunk living and thriving. (But he also stays safe while urging Dunk to engage in mortal combat that leads to repeated death and rebirth.) 

Davos smuggles roots - part of the growth and winter survival symbolism - and fire - deadly to trees - but then he gives back seeds. He seems like a fertility guy but he loses a lot of sons in battle. Is Melisandre his opposite? He wants to kill her, but they end up co-existing. Melisandre takes Davos' son to keep him safe but also to indoctrinate him into her religion. 

Tying things back to the story-teller function of Old Nan and Tanselle: Davos seeks Rickon, whose direwolf is named Shaggy Dog. A "shaggy dog story" is a kind of legend or far-fetched tale. The search for Rickon may be similar to Dunk (and Egg's) search for Tanselle. 

Anyway. That's why I think Betha Blackwood is a good source of breadcrumbs for us. A trail to follow in the Blackwood / Bracken feud. 

And also why I think we don't have to choose a favorite between the Blackwoods and Brackens: we need balanced summer and winter for the planet to function in a way that is healthy. 

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